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Movie Review: Hocus Pocus 2 * Lock Up Your Children – The Wicked Sanderson Sisters Are Back In The Comedic Sequel To The 1993 Film Hocus Pocus

Posted by Kids First on
Movie Review: Hocus Pocus 2 * Lock Up Your Children – The Wicked Sanderson Sisters Are Back In The Comedic Sequel To The 1993 Film Hocus Pocus

A curious youngster moves to Salem, where he struggles to fit in before awakening a trio of diabolical witches that were executed in the 17th century.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Tiana S. comments, “Lock up your children and grab some salt just in case! Just in time for Halloween, the wicked Sanderson sisters are back in Hocus Pocus 2, the live-action, comedy sequel to the 1993 film Hocus Pocus. The musical performances in this film are to die for.” See her full review below.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Tiana S. comments, “Lock up your children and grab some salt just in case! Just in time for Halloween, the wicked Sanderson sisters are back in Hocus Pocus 2, the live-action, comedy sequel to the 1993 film Hocus Pocus. The musical performances in this film are to die for.” See her full review below.

Hocus Pocus 2 By Tiana S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

(L-R): Kathy Najimy as Mary Sanderson, Bette Midler as Winifred Sanderson, and Sarah Jessica Parker as Sarah Sanderson in HOCUS POCUS 2, exclusively on Disney+. Photo by Matt Kennedy. © 2022 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Lock up your children and grab some salt just in case! Just in time for Halloween, the wicked Sanderson sisters are back in Hocus Pocus 2, the live-action, comedy sequel to the 1993 film Hocus Pocus. The musical performances in this film are to die for.

Hocus Pocus 2 follows the Sanderson sisters — Winifred “Winnie” (Bette Midler), Sarah (Sarah Jessica Parker) and Mary (Kathy Najimy), as they seek revenge on the town that cast them away … again. It’s been 29 years since someone lit the Black Flame Candle and resurrected the 17th-century sisters, and they have a spell to settle. Three high-school students accidentally bring back the Sanderson Sisters to modern-day Salem and must figure out how to stop the child-hungry witches from wreaking havoc on Salem before dawn on All Hallow’s Eve.

Kathy Najimy as Mary Sanderson, Bette Midler as Winifred Sanderson, and Sarah Jessica Parker as Sarah Sanderson in Disney’s live-action HOCUS POCUS 2, exclusively on Disney+. Photo by Matt Kennedy. © 2022 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

This film is perfect to get you in the Halloween spirit. In this sequel, we finally learn the origin of the Sanderson sisters, which helps us understand why they are who they are, why the sisters were banned from Salem as youngsters, and why they became involved in witchcraft. I love that the original actors who played the sisters reprised their roles here. With this film taking place 29 years later, it makes for hilarious moments watching the sisters get familiar with the “new town,” such as watching them search for new beauty products to become younger and having young fans wanting to take selfies with them. The Sanderson’s spell-bounding rendition and performance of “One Way of Another” (Hocus Pocus 2 Version) they sing to the residents at the festival is entertaining and original.

(L-R): Nina Kitchen as Young Mary, Taylor Henderson as Young Winifred, and Juju Brener as Young Sarah in HOCUS POCUS 2, exclusively on Disney+. Photo by Matt Kennedy. © 2022 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Hocus Pocus 2 is about friendship, sisterhood, and forgiveness. Many of their issues are resolved once the trio realizes what is most important to them and stop holding grudges. Even the high school teenagers have to realize they are better together than apart. This film also highlights the importance of reading labels and ALL of the instructions and spells; otherwise, you may miss an important warning. Parents should be aware of the reference to virgins that have to light the Black Flame Candle (but with a hilarious “parent-like” definition), which will probably have kids asking more questions.

Hocus Pocus 2 gets 4 out of 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. I recommend watching the original film, since this one has plenty of references to Hocus Pocus. Hocus Pocus 2 premieres September 30, 2022, exclusively on Disney+.


Movie Review: Under Wraps 2 * Just The Right Balance Of Halloween Fright, Mummy Madness, Gut-Busting Humor, And Friendship

Posted by Kids First on
Movie Review: Under Wraps 2 * Just The Right Balance Of Halloween Fright, Mummy Madness, Gut-Busting Humor, And Friendship

While Amy is preparing for her father’s Halloween-themed wedding, she, Gilbert and Marshall discover that Harold and Rose may be in danger. An evil mummy is unexpectedly awakened and out for revenge.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Hanadie K. comments, “As a horror film enthusiast, I must admit, I fancy a well-executed spooky comedy. If you are anything like me, Under Wraps 2 is a film to watch. This film really gives viewers just the right balance of Halloween fright, mummy madness, gut-busting humor, and friendship feels.” See her full review and interviews below.

Under Wraps 2 By Hanadie K., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, 11

As a horror film enthusiast, I must admit, I fancy a well-executed spooky comedy. If you are anything like me, Under Wraps 2 is a film to watch. This film really gives viewers just the right balance of Halloween fright, mummy madness, gut-busting humor, and friendship feels. If eerie films, impromptu dance scenes and happy endings are your thing, don’t deprive yourself of watching this scary, family-friendly fun film.


Chaperoned by a kooky and delightful friend, Buzzy (Melanie Brook), best friends Marshall (Malachi Barton), Gilbert (Christian J. Simon), and Amy (Sophia Hammons) prepare to attend the Halloween-inspired wedding of Amy’s father (Claude Knowlton) and his adoring fiance (Anotion Cayonne). Marshall, Gilbert and Amy are soon met with unexpected chaos when they crack a mystery museum burglary. The mystery reveals their best mummy friend, Harold (Phil Wright) and his doting mummy bride Rose (Rryla McIntosh) are in grave danger. These pals will do anything to rescue their ancient companions from harm.


This spooktacular live action film follows the trio as they race against the clock to save their mummy besties from the spine-chilling, evil mummy named Sobek (T.J. Storm) who was accidentally resurrected, by a naive museum guard, Larry (Jordan Conley). Sobek wants nothing more than to destroy Harold and run away with Rose, and with the help of a hypnotized Larry, he might just get away with it. The director of this film, Alex Zamm hooks viewers in from the beginning. His ability to make horror films fun to watch speaks to his creative genius. The comedic timing of the characters such as Larry and Beuller, the jeweler (Adam Wiley), gives the film a light-hearted element.


There are several times throughout the film that viewers experience unanticipated twists that seem to fit perfectly. Under Wraps 2 has remarkable camera work that gives you the illusion that you’re in the film with the actors. Also, the sound effects are so stellar you feel like you’re watching the movie in surround sound. I would be remiss if I did not mention the realistic special effects. The mummy masks and costumes are detailed and frighteningly realistic. My favorite scene in Under Wraps 2 is when Harold and Rose order an astronomical amount of room service and end up in a synchronized dance battle at the town’s Halloween fair. As a close second, there is a scene where a party of people experience a messy chocolate fountain mishap — that is hilarious.

UNDER WRAPS 2 – DisneyÕs ÒUnder Wraps 2Ó stars Malachi Barton as Marshall, Christian J. Simon as Gilbert, Sophia Hammons as Amy, Phil Wright as Harold, Melanie Brook as Buzzy, T.J. Storm as Sobek, and Rryla McIntosh as Rose. (Disney/Brendan Meadows)

Subtly, diversity and inclusion are cleverly wrapped in the fiber of this film, which is overflowing with empowering messages. Under Wraps 2 reminds us of the power of friendship as these besties show us how real friends will go to any length to help one another, even when it means facing your deepest fears. It also reminds us that “love is love” and to never judge others, simply because they are different. You should be aware that there is an LGBTQ+ marriage and same-sex kissing scene.

Under Wraps 2 gets 5 out of 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 5 to 12, plus adults. This is a family fun movie that everyone can enjoy. Under Wraps 2 released on Disney Channel September 25 and will be released on Disney+ September 30, 2002.

Garden gremlins

Posted by rstapholz on
Garden gremlins

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Gnome and elf and fairy,

Witch and ghost make merry

On this last of dear October’s days.” Lettie. C. Van Derveer, Halloween Happenings, 1921


The howling, nipping, and barking of the coyote send shivers down my back. Although they hunt throughout the day, as dusk settles over the hills and the moon rises, these wily carnivores set out to regulate the ecosystem. As apex crepuscular predators in an urban landscape, their prey is often our beloved pet. Creepy and blood-curdling!

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For kids, the hot topic of conversation this week revolves around Halloween. As we decorate pumpkins and light Jack O’lanterns, spooky specimens and wild phantoms are also prowling around our hallowed grounds.

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We work hard to maintain our landscapes and it’s frustrating to have our sanctuaries invaded by unwanted organisms. One of the most noxious weeds to assault our gardens is the bindweed. Mimicking the fair face of a morning glory flower, like a poltergeist, it twists and tangles until it strangles plants and shrubs. Each plant produces more than fifty seeds that can survive for fifty years or more, making this deep-rooted gremlin a wicked weed to eradicate. 

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The cast list of freaky wild ones includes the misunderstood good, the beastly bad, and the pesky players that we often wish to hocus pocus somewhere else.




Owls are the silent, stealthy hunters of our gardens providing free rodent control. When you hear their haunting hoots, be grateful that they’ve designated your trees as their habitat. Install a tall owl nesting box if you don’t have old trees attractive to owls.

Frogs and Toads

In folkloric traditions, magic potions are concocted in rituals using frogs and toads to cast evil spells. These helpful hoppers have been much maligned. As a natural pest controller, they will munch over 10,000 insects in a few months. Their summer song and mating calls are melodious, indicating that you have a healthy environment. Turn a broken clay pot on its side, bury it halfway in the soil, and welcome these amphibians to their toad abode.



Dracula and the coronavirus have something in come…they both disparaged the docile bat. Bats are not winged rodents or bloodsuckers. Instead, they are the only flying mammals with wings. Bats are productive pest patrollers feeding on insects, progressive pollinators of hundreds of plant species, and sensational seed dispersers. These flying friends don’t plague people, but they will devour a thousand mosquitoes in an hour. Provide habitat for these winged heroes to roost by erecting a bat house twelve to fifteen feet off the ground. As a bonus to your garden, they’ll offer nutrient-rich fertilizer with their excrement, guano. If you fear vampires, plant garlic. 

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Snakes are slimy, slithering, and scary. But most snakes are harmless and helpful garden assistants. The common garter snake preys on insects, slugs, and rodents and prefers to live in cool, dark places. Keep your doors closed as it would be frightening to find that a female gave birth to up to fifty live young under your bed! The elegant Kingsnake is welcome in any landscape as it eats venomous snakes like the rattlesnake or copperhead as well as rodents and other plant destroyers.

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Skunks are the garbage collectors of the garden. These docile black and white creatures will eat anything including insects, rodents, and yellow jacket larvae. When fruit falls from a tree, they’ll be the clean-up crew. Pet food and birdseed are attractors. Because of their odorous spray, these mostly nocturnal, solitary, and non-confrontational creatures get a bad rap. When threatened, they’ll stomp, hiss, and puff up before raising their tail and unleashing their potent defense system. 

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Little Miss Muffet had no reason to run away. Only unwanted insects such as grasshoppers, aphids, cockroaches, and mosquitoes need to fear these valuable web weavers. Research is underway by scientists on the benefits of spider venom to prevent arthritis while the strength of spider silk is inspiring mechanical engineers. 



Gophers, Moles, Voles

Although we witness the horror gophers, moles, and voles create in our lawns and yard, we rarely see these creeping critters. Stomping on the mounds, trails, and holes may distract them for a while, but like the Terminator, they’ll be back. Setting multiple traps and checking them daily is the best method. If all else fails, call in the pros.

Rats and Mice

Rats and mice gnaw through wiring, wood, pipes, bags of birdseed, and make nests in our stored patio furniture pads. Reproducing rapidly and prolifically, rats spread disease, contaminate food sources, and infest our homes and gardens. In just three years, a single rat can produce half a billion descendants! Trapping is the humane manner to eradicate these pests unless the wicked witch of the West unleashes her feral black cats to hunt and exterminate. 


If you are hearing scratching noises in your attic, it’s not the walking dead. You could have rodents or raccoons. Raccoons will walk on a tree branch to access your roof and set up a den in the spaces above your ceiling. They also are attracted to garbage, pet food, bird feeders, bird nests, and they kill poultry. Raccoons are major hosts of rabies in the United States. Make sure to cut your tree branches back at least six to eight feet from your roof to protect yourself from these masked marauders as well as from fire laddering. Deter raccoons from setting up house with cayenne pepper sprinkled wherever needed and spray your shrubs and bushes with a solution of a bottle of hot sauce mixed with water. 

Wild Boars

Wild boars destroy yards, damage fences, and are a danger to humans. The destruction of property by feral hogs costs agriculture over $1.5 billion annually. They compete with wildlife for food and negatively impact our natural ecosystem, increasing soil erosion and decreasing water quality. Their trampling, rooting, and digging have devastated numerous lawns and gardens locally. Wild hogs are a horror show.



Squirrels, deer, and turkeys are a nuisance to homeowners.


Bushy-tailed squirrels strip fruit and vegetables from trees and vines before it is harvest time and often take up residence in homes. I’ve witnessed squirrels scampering on my fence with an apple from my tree that was bigger than his head. They have denuded my pistache trees of their unripe berries and stolen all the chestnuts from the trees. Nevertheless, I enjoy their aerial antics and circus acrobatics as well as their lively chatter.

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Deer demolish gardens with their dining desires. The only sure way to keep them away from your sacred spaces is to build a tall fence enclosing your property. Since my garden is fenced and protected, I welcome the doe and her twin fawns on their daily 6:30 pm visit to graze on my grassy slope. Sometimes the stags sharpen their antlers on my oaks and often leave me a gift of them.

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Turkeys fly over those fences to forage for berries, bugs, and buds. Living in my pines, I sometimes have as many as two dozen gobbling and scratching. I’ve watched how they share the bounty of their discoveries with some of the birds shaking branches to release fruit to their young waiting below.

Elves, fairies, and gnomes are invited to roam my haunted garden to protect and serve.  If you get an infestation of any of the “beastly bad” or when the “pesky players” are bewitching and injurious to your property, it may behoove you to call in the ghostbusters, also known as licensed depredators for nuisance wildlife control. R.I.P.


Ending this article on a lighter note, if you are looking for an all-black bush to showcase for Halloween, Proven Winners developed a crapemyrtle called Center Stage Red that boasts jet black leaves with stunning summer red blooms. I’m partnering this black beauty with a heat-tolerant gardenia, Steady as She Goes. Shrubs with names that evoke goosebumps include Ghost Weigela, Abracadabra Hydrangeas, and Handsome Devil Viburnum.

Proven Winner-Center Stage red crapemyrtle and steady as she goes gardenia.jpeg

As October comes to an end, I wish you zombie thrills, frights, and chills. May the grim reapers stay away from your garden. Charge up your broomsticks and have a very happy, safe Halloween.

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Happy gardening. Happy growing. Trick or Treat!

Photos and More: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1518/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Gremlins-of-the-garden.html

Cynthia Brian, The Goddess Gardener, is available for hire to help you prepare for your spring garden. Raised in the vineyards of Napa County, Cynthia is a New York Times best-selling author, actor, radio personality, speaker, media and writing coach as well as the Founder and Executive Director of Be the Star You Are!® 501 c3. Tune into Cynthia’s StarStyle® Radio Broadcast at www.StarStyleRadio.com.

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Buy copies of her books, including, Chicken Soup for the Gardener’s Soul, Growing with the Goddess Gardener, and Be the Star You Are! www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store. Receive a FREE inspirational music DVD and special savings.

Hire Cynthia for writing projects, garden consults, and inspirational lectures.



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Under Wraps * A Spine-Tickling Storyline, With Many Surprises Along The Way

Posted by rstapholz on
Movie Reviews
Under Wraps * A Spine-Tickling Storyline, With Many Surprises Along The Way

Friends Marshall, Gilbert, and Amy accidentally revive and release a mummy from its sarcophagus in the days leading up to Halloween. At first terrified, they quickly learn that the Mummy who they affectionately name ‘Harold’ is actually very sweet and in dire need of assistance. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Ella M. comments, “Are you ready for a remake of a spook-tacular and adventurous mysterious story? Then you have got to check out Disney Channel’s new Under Wraps movie! It’s got everything – action, friendships, mysteries, and a lovable, friendly mummy! It has a spine-tickling storyline, with many surprises along the way. So, buckle up and get ready for a fun, chilling story that is perfect for the whole family!” See her full review below.


Under Wraps
By Ella M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 10

Are you ready for a remake of a spook-tacular and adventurous mysterious story? Then you have got to check out Disney Channel’s new Under Wraps movie! It’s got everything – action, friendships, mysteries, and a lovable, friendly mummy! It has a spine-tickling storyline, with many surprises along the way. So, buckle up and get ready for a fun, chilling story that is perfect for the whole family!

This storyline follows three friends, Marshall, Gilbert and Amy, who mysteriously find a mummy in their neighbor’s basement. Accidently bringing it to life, they discover he is a kind mummy. Most films describe mummies as horrid, brain-eating, dead monsters. But this movie is special because, its mummy is not like the others. He is a kindhearted, affectionate and friendly mummy, ready to help his friends with anything that may come next. Upon finding out that their new friend Harold, the mummy, will turn to dust if not put back in his sarcophagus by midnight on Halloween, the three friends do everything to save their new mummy friend.

You’ll love the main characters. Marshall (Malachi Bartoh) is a sci-fi, monster enthusiast. Gilbert (Christian J. Simon) is a scared, yet honest friend. He is always trying to help his friends and embraces people for whom they really are throughout the movie. Amy (Sophia Hammons) wants to solve mysteries and get the inside scoop. She dreams of becoming an investigative journalist. Even though she’s the new kid in town, she is bold and is not afraid to stand up for what is right.  Malachi Barton connects with his character, Marshall, in a believable way. Christian J. Simon’s Gilbert is very funny; Christian is funny in real life as well. He makes giving a solid, amazing, thorough performance look easy.  Sophia Hammons gives a dynamic, well thought out performance and shows the variety of ways she can connect with different emotions while portraying Amy.  The costume for Harold is well thought out, with incredible special effects. He looks and seems like an actual mummy. My favorite character is Amy because she is very brave, incredibly smart and she is not afraid to speak her mind.

This message is to embrace people’s differences and to not judge a book by its cover. When Harold is brought back to life after thousands of years, people seem to fear him – when he’s really trying to help them out. You discover that all Harold wants is a friend and our three friends learn to accept him for who he is on the inside, beyond his wrapped-up-mummy-outside.

I give Under Wraps 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 18, plus adults. Under Wraps is available now on Disney Channel and Disney plus.  This is a movie you don’t want to miss!

Lead with Empathy, Now and Always

Posted by rstapholz on
Lead with Empathy, Now and Always

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“Once the game is over, the king and the pawn go back into the same box.”

~ Italian Proverb


cynthia- Halloween garden (1)In the past few years, global warming and climate change have enhanced the number of natural disasters. Since the tragedy of 9/11, 2001, Be the Star You Are!® has shipped books and other resources to shelters and organizations in the United States to support survivors offering hope and healing. In 2021, natural disasters were more violent and deadly causing thousands to flee their homes.

Because we care, we share.

Normally volunteers get together to sort, pack, box, load, and ship resources. Because of the pandemic and the necessity for social distancing, I decided to go it alone this year. Books are heavy.

After shipping over a dozen cases to various states, I was working to load another twenty boxes when something snapped in my back and I fell to my knees in acute pain. I was not able to stand or walk. After two days, crawling became my method to get from my bed to the bathroom. It’s been two weeks since the injury and I am finally more upright like a homo sapien.

I’ve always thought that I’m an empathic individual, but being so extremely debilitated provided another level for understanding the feelings of others. Leading with empathy means we need to walk in someone else’s boots, to see their perspective, and attempt to understand. Divisiveness, racism, misinformation, misogyny, religious differences, conspiracy theories, untruths, and political polarization are leading us down a rabbit-hole of separation. We are the United States of America, not the Divided States of America. The Miracle Moment® quote for today illustrates the power of equality. Whether we are prince or pauper, president or farm laborer, when life is over, we all return to dust.

My entreaty to everyone is to care for yourself and for one another. Be kind. Be inclusive. We never know what struggles another person is facing.

Lifting nearly 3/4 of a ton of books in a few hours alone was not the smart move on my part. I will be more careful in the future and give my back a break. The good news is that all the resources have now been delivered and hopefully will provide happy holidays for a few thousand individuals so that they can lead with empathy.

Thanks for your ongoing support!

Wishing you health and a happy haunted Halloween.


Cynthia Brian

Founder/Executive Director

Be the Star You Are!®

PO Box 376

Moraga, California 94556




DONATE: https://www.paypal.com/fundraiser/charity/1504


2021 Pear Festival-covid-masks downA big round of applause to the Be the Star You Are!® volunteers who worked at the Be the Star You Are!® booth at the Pear and Wine Festival. Although we didn’t garner many donations, we helped children craft and decorate masks to protect them during the pandemic, read them stories, and gave each child a brand new copy of the beautiful 10th anniversary book, The Adventures of Blue Ocean Bob. Getting together for the first time since 2019 was a bonus! Everyone wore a mask and adhered to protocols. Thank you to all to visited and to our sponsors: The Lamorinda Weekly Newspaper (www.lamorindaweekly.com), Dr. Brian Sheaff Family Dentistry ( https://www.drsheaffdentistry.com) and MBJesse Painting (www.MBJessee.com) and to Brooks Olbrys author of the book (https://www.blueoceanbob.com).

thank you sponsors 2 mask making

Read about Be the Star You Are!®: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1517/Children-create-crafty-masks-during-annual-Pear–and–Wine-Festival.html

2021 Pear Festival-covid


AWESOMEby Karen Kitchel

Has anyone ever told you that you are awesome?  If so, how did it make you feel? Leaving little positive messages, either verbal or written, can turn someone’s day around. No need to wait for a major accomplishment.  Things like making a good cup of coffee can also be awesome.  All it takes is time to notice.

And YOU are awesome!

Karen Kitchel who penned two chapters in the book, Be the Star You Are! Millennials to Boomers Celebrating Gifts of Positive Voices in a Changing Digital World, is the Kindness Coordinator volunteer with BTSYA. She serves meals to the homeless and is a volunteer teacher, writer, job coach, and mentor. www.scatteringkindness.com


sharanyaphoto-headphonesSharanya Roy is a 7th grader in Gale Ranch Middle School. She loves to swim, play the piano, and make amusing jokes with her friends. Apart from planning her goofy schemes, Sharanya really enjoys writing. She finds that each sentence has a life of its own, and she loves the sound of the keyboard clacking, as well as the scrick of a pencil. In her radio show, Sharanya hopes to change how teens look at writing, as writing doesn’t JUST consist of essays for school, it is a lot more. In Sharanya’s segment, “The Scribble”, she wants to share new methods of writing, and how writing can be a part of every teen’s life. https://www.ExpressTyourselfTeenRadio.com

Listen to her recite an original poem that combines her love of writing with genetics.


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Maggie DiGiovannipictureBy Maggie DiGiovanni

Few go from a ten-year-old writing her first story and basking in her mother’s praise to the realization of her life’s dream of writing for a newspaper. I am one of those few. How did it happen?

Writing every day, listening to real authors when they critiqued my work and learning to self-edit helped enormously. In the middle of this learning curve, I opted to enter a contest put out by Cynthia Brian and Be the Star You Are!® charity with a story aimed at young people. The multi-author book, Be the Star You Are for Teens, gave advice from building skills to keeping a good attitude. The chapters wrote in plain, but gentle language reaching out to the hearts and minds of young people.

My offering on Responsibility began with the dubious sentence, ‘Mama was a drug dealer.’ It drew the reader’s attention. An explanation followed that Mama’s drugs included her kids being drug to church, drug into her arms for hugs, drug to the shed if we misbehaved.

Winning that contest lifted my confidence so that when a friend asked my assistance in writing a blog for seniors, I agreed. The initial title of ‘Frugal Florida Seniors,’ drew few readers.  attention, we changed the title to ‘Sexy, Sassy Seniors.’  Readership increased and they stayed.

From there I moved on to offering stories to magazines and writing letters to the editors of newspapers. Magazines like the stories and my letters to the editor appear regularly.

The last step came when a library volunteer told me the Autauga Elmore Newspaper wanted a reporter for our hometown. The owner hired me. It has been a long trek, but without that contest, it might never have come to fruition. Thank you for the encouragement, Cynthia.

Currently Maggie DiGiovanni is an author, newspaper reporter, and blog manager.  Maggie penned the chapter, The Gift of Responsibility in Be the Star You Are!® for Teens. Previously, she was human resources director, purchasing manager and resort office manager. She is the proud mother of two. sexysassyseniors.com (Blog site)https://elmoreautauganews.com/

Be the Star You Are for TEENS 2


Cynthia Brian books bannerIn honor of our 20th anniversary since being on the first New York Times best seller list, first edition, autographed books are discounted in a special sale with proceeds benefitting Be the Star You Are!® You will also receive extra goodies and FREE music CD with your purchase when you buy from the website. Stock up now! http://starstylestore.net


The 2021 natural disasters continue to climb. Hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, tornados, and fires are more ferocious and deadly causing thousands to flee their homes. Global warming and climate change are causing extreme weather conditions that have never been seen before. Throughout 2020, Be the Star You Are!® concentrated disaster relief on helping individuals who were out of work survive during the pandemic. We now turn our assistance back to helping survivors of these major natural disasters happening throughout the United States. Be the Star You Are!® will be providing books and other materials to shelters and organizations in need. If you’d like to donate, please do so at our website, https://www.BetheStarYouAre.org. If your organization or shelter is in need of our resources to supply to survivors of a disaster, please email us at info@BetheStarYouAre.org.



We have suggestions for you to shop, save, and stay safe. Please use these web sites for all of your shopping essentials.

1. AmazonSmile donates .5% of purchases https://smile.amazon.com/ch/94-3333882

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2. Discounted books at Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/shops/be_the_star_you_are_charity

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3. Giving Assistant: Shop. Earn. Give! Use Giving Assistant to earn cash at 3500+ popular online stores :https://givingassistant.org/np#be-the-star-you-are-inc

4. Shop at over 1300 stores on IGIVE: http://www.iGive.com/BTSYA

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5. Buy “Read, Lead, Succeed” black tanks and books at StarStyle® Store: http://www.starstylestore.net/


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6. Are you a gamer, lover of new software, or other digital content? Buy all of your favorites at Humble Bundle. http://ow.ly/cYs130iN6n4


LIVE on Wednesdays from 4-5pm PT, be entertained, informed, amused, and educated on StarStyle-Be the Star You Are!. Then be inspired and motivated on

Sundays from 3-4pm PT, it’s Express Yourself! Teen Radio with our Be the Star You Are! star teen hosts and reporters.
You’ll meet authors, actors, artists, activists, musicians, poets, scientists, educators, and other creatives. Enjoy our upbeat, authentic, and fun radio parties on the Voice America Network Empowerment Channel or wherever you like to listen. 
Visit https://www.StarStyleRadio.com for our line-up of guests.
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 Have a safe and fun hallowed eve! Happy Halloween! Thanks for being part of our STAR family!

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Contact Information: Be the Star You Are!® 501 c3, PO Box 376, Moraga, Ca. 94556

Spooktacular Hallowed Eve, Virus and Voting Videos

Posted by presspass on
Spooktacular Hallowed Eve, Virus and Voting Videos

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StarSearcher’s Express
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“Let others lead small lives, but not you.

Let others argue over small things, but not you.

Let others cry over small hurts, but not you.

Let others leave their future in another’s hands, but not you.”

The Challenge by Jim Rohn

MESSAGE FROM CYNTHIA BRIAN, Founder/Executive Director


The next few days are going to be ghoulish in more ways than one. In the midst of a pandemic, we will celebrate Halloween and brave an election. And for many states, we turn our clocks back an hour on Sunday.



Kids everywhere love Halloween, yet this year presents a challenge on how to provide fun and merriment for youthful vampires and witches. Neighborhoods are responding with social distancing activities while providing the ghostly experience for trick or treaters.

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On both our Voice America Network radio shows, we share thoughts on ways to make this year meaningful.

For Halloween on StarStyle, tune in to https://www.voiceamerica.com/episode/126203/nature-halloween-damned-if-she-does-friendship


For Halloween on Express Yourself! Teen Radio with a story of the Salem Witch Trials, tune in to https://www.voiceamerica.com/episode/126523/halloween-and-tituba-the-intentional-witch-of-salem


In my garden column I suggest a Nature’s Halloween. You can read about how to do it here:https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1418/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Natures-Halloween.html



As I write this, there are 8,835,393 diagnosed cases of corona virus in the US with 228,000 deaths. A surge of cases is rising as is the death toll. We must continue to wash our hands, wear masks, social distance, and be diligent. Despite the tragedy, many creative people have brought levity as well as awareness to this pandemic through song and dance. Below are a few short videos worth watching.


For the Longest Time: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LpAKcQufacc


Coronavirus Rhapsody: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ymMuCtowLk&feature=emb_rel_err


You are in Quarantine ( A “Dancing Queen” Parody) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FmDcg59Xzek&feature=emb_rel_err


How Can I Keep From Singing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VLPP3XmYxXg&feature=emb_rel_err



No matter what your political leaning, you have the privilege and responsibility of voting in this Presidential election on November 3. At the moment our wonderful nation is deeply divided. When you cast your ballot, vote for people who will save democracy, not destroy. United we stand, divided we fall. We are ALL Americans and deserve to be heard and understood.

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Check out these videos.


International Leadership Award Ceremony: https://youtu.be/ymaWq5yZIYM


Well Done: https://digbysblog.net/2020/10/well-done/


Go from There (Sam Elliott) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n2Xufahbaq4

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Give your kids a safe and Happy Halloween. Turn your clocks back on Sunday and take a snooze.


Take Jim Rohn’s Challenge. Wear a mask. Save democracy. Save America. Exercise your right to VOTE.


Stay healthy and sane and remember to have some fun during these times!


Always grateful,

Cynthia Brian

Founder/Executive Director

Be the Star You Are!®

PO Box 376

Moraga, California 94556





DONATE: https://www.paypal.com/fundraiser/charity/1504

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Five Components of Literacy

Reading Components

bu Stephanie Cogeos

 Reading is one of the most important skills children can learn. There are five essential components of reading:

  1. 1. 1.Phonics. This is mapping the sounds in words to written letters. This is an early reading skill children develop. It allows them to understand the link between letters and sounds.  Lack of instruction in phonics leads to difficulties in reading. Children have to grasp the fact that printed text represents the sounds of spoken words. There are a lot of ways to help a child develop this ability.
  1. 1. 1.Phonemic Awareness. You develop phonemic awareness by learning about sounds, syllables and words. Words are made up of units of sound known as phonemes. The word “crab” is made up for four individual units of sound: c/r/a/b. The word “shop” has three phonemes: sh/o/p. The ability to hear, identify and manipulate the individual units of sound is phonemic awareness. It is a fundamental skill in learning how to read. English consists of about 41 phonemes.
  1. 1. 1.Vocabulary. The more words we know the better one becomes at reading and understanding what we are reading. Reading a wide variety of books will allow a child to grow their vocabulary. The more words they learn, their vocabulary will grow and enable them to learn.
  1. 1. 1.Fluency. Fluency lets readers span the gap between recognizing a word and knowing what it means. Fluent readers do not need to concentrate on decoding the words on a page. They can focus on the meaning of the words and enjoy what they are reading.  Fluency comes as a child develops the first 3 components listed above.
  1. 1. 1.Reading Comprehension. Great readers can become immersed in the stories they read. They can visualize the characters, hear the dialogue and imagine details that are not necessarily on the page. They can identify with the characters. In nonfiction, they can gain new information and link what they read with other sources of information and learn new ideas and concepts.

Available at http://www.btsya.com/resources.html

Stephanie Cogeos is the Star Teen Book Review Coordinator with Be the Star You Are!®



If you’d like to become a book reviewer, email info@bethestaryouare.org.

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When shopping use Amazon Smile: #StartWithaSmile at https://smile.amazon.com/ch/94-3333882 and Amazon donates to Be The Star You Are, Inc..


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Programs: https://www.bethestaryouare.org/programs

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Checks can be sent to PO Box 376, Moraga, California 94556



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Contact Information:
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Halloween, Nature’s Way

Posted by presspass on
Halloween, Nature’s Way

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“Listen to them–the children of the night. What music they make!” Bram Stoker

During this season, life is about the kids. This is a time of magic, wonder, and things that go bump in the night. Halloween has always been a favorite holiday for most children in the United States but this year, Halloween, the way it has been celebrated for decades, is canceled. 

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No random trick or treating, no gatherings, no haunted parties.

Since school has been online, kids yearn to get together to socialize with a bit of raucous fun and CANDY. With Covid-19 isolation, this year’s Halloween is going to be different…very, very different.

For weeks families have been brainstorming innovative ideas to provide a safe, yet enjoyable experience for their children. Although most everyone has probably decided how to celebrate, I’d like to add a bit of nature to the mixture.

When I was raising my two children, Halloween was always a major event, but not in the way that most kids participate. Every year our family would join with two other families to enjoy a full weekend of scary festivities in a circa 1900 Victorian in the middle of an isolated mountain forest that had been in the family of our friend for over 80 years. The drive to get to our destination was on a bumpy, winding, pot-holed road, with gnarled trees that jutted out of nowhere and deep canyons that could be perilous to the amateurish driver. The ride alone was frightening! 

The house had no electricity (unless we used a generator) and the water was pumped from the creek. We always began our adventure with a hike to pick wildflowers and gather feathers, branches, colored leaves, and grasses to make decorations. Sometimes, we’d saddle the horses on the property to carry our bounty,

The landscape boasted a big vegetable garden that enthralled the kids. “What do you want for dinner?” we’d ask. Each child would grab a basket to pick their favorite vegetables. The fun began with the children helping to prepare our evening meal. On Halloween, we’d start the day picking apples in the orchard. We’d take the apples to the barn where we’d press them into apple cider, saving some to make apple pies. We would also play a fun game, Bobbing for Apples, giving prizes to the winner. (Not a recommended activity during this pandemic!)

Next was the pumpkin carving. Each person was given a pumpkin to carve or decorate. We saved seeds for roasting and some for planting in the spring. Again, the kids would go to the vegetable garden to pick their favorite vegetables. We’d craft with our found nature treasures and decorate the “haunted house”. Everyone would get dressed in their home-made costumes, followed by our Halloween feast.

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Of course, the best was yet to come. The kids, all decked out in their Halloween regalia, couldn’t wait. 

Trick or treating! 

All the lights would be extinguished except for lanterns and candles. Darkness dropped with the haunting sounds of the night and a bit of help from the hidden boombox. One parent corralled the kids on the porch as the rest of the costumed parents hid behind doors of the house with bags of candy. On “go”, the kids ran door to door knocking, shouting “trick or treat”.  An adult would jump out with a trick and fill their Halloween bag. After all the treats were distributed, like all kids, the trading and negotiating for candy began.

And, after the youngsters were totally exhausted, (and probably on a sugar high), we adults would celebrate Halloween, too.

The fond memories of these sacred Halloween traditions can be easily translated to our current situation with Covid-19 to ensure a safe and memorable Halloween. This year Halloween is on a Saturday. Make a weekend of it!

If you have a pod of people that you are already socializing with because you are all social distancing, one family could host the Halloween party. Or, make the Halloween event virtual to include more people. 

  •  Plan and prepare a meal together. 
  •  Dress in costume. 
  •  Buy a few bales of hay to create a maze. (The hay can be used in the garden afterward as top dressing.)
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  •  Carve or paint pumpkins. 
  •  Save seeds for roasting and spring planting. 
  •  Bake bread with menacing faces. 
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  •  Make a candy shoot out of PVC to send candy from one person to another yard. 
  •  How about a slingshot to catapult candy across the street to your friends? 
  •  For those with gardens, employ the kids to pick vegetables and fruits that are festive and fun. For example, guavas are self-harvesting now, so if someone has a guava tree, try a new recipe. 
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  •  Have a nature scavenger hunt followed by a mask making shindig with found elements: feathers, bark, twigs, flowers, acorns, pebbles, leaves, and more. 
  •  Press apples to make a brew of witch cider.
  •  Visit a pumpkin patch with social distancing.
  •  Add a tiny pumpkin to an autumn floral bouquet.
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  •  Howl at the moon with the coyotes!  
  •  Hoot with the owls.

Adults can hide in closets, bathrooms, or behind any doors. Just make sure to have the treats and a few tricks! Make sure to include the spooky tunes. 

Finally, don’t forget the candy swap. Whether it is in person or virtual, swapping candy is an age-old tradition that every kid adores. Don’t forget the toothbrushes! 

Wearing a mask is always appropriate on Halloween and this year it takes on special meaning. Be creative and safe.  Make masks!


Shake your broomsticks. A ghoulish, ghostly midnight jamboree may be right outside in Mother Nature at the witching hour. It’s time for some hocus pocus. 

Have a secure and joyful nature’s Halloween.

Happy gardening. Happy growing. Make sure to VOTE!

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Cynthia Brian, The Goddess Gardener, is available for hire to help you prepare for your spring garden. Raised in the vineyards of Napa County, Cynthia is a New York Times best-selling author, actor, radio personality, speaker, media and writing coach, as well as the Founder and Executive Director of Be the Star You Are!® 501 c3. Tune into Cynthia’s StarStyle® Radio Broadcast at www.StarStyleRadio.com.

Buy copies of her best-selling books and receive extra freebies, Chicken Soup for the Gardener’s Soul, Growing with the Goddess Gardener, and Be the Star You Are! Millennials to Boomers at www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store. 

cyntha brian with books SM copy.jpghttps://www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store.

Cynthia is available for virtual writing projects, garden consults, and inspirational lectures.



#october,,#pandemic,,#outdoors,#halloween,#nature,#ghouls,#ghosts,  #gardening, #cynthiabrian, #starstyle, #goddessGardener, #growingwiththegoddessgardener, #lamorindaweekly

Starry, Scary Night

Posted by presspass on
Starry, Scary Night

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“Starry, starry night

Flaming flowers that brightly blaze

Swirling clouds in violet haze.” Don McLean

In 1889, post-impressionist, Vincent Van Gogh, painted one of his most memorable paintings, The Starry Night, as he looked out of his asylum east window. On October 10, 2019, when I looked out our east window, the starry night was aglow with flames and they were not the brightly blaze of flaming flowers. Normally, I look forward to the month October because of the frivolity of Halloween. Costumes, candy, scarecrows, black cats, ghosts, ghouls, jack o ’lanterns, and trick or treating offer children a scary evening of amusement. It was a scary, scary night, but it was not Halloween.

The power was off and a fire erupted racing down the hill to a neighborhood fast asleep. Firefighters were swift and efficient evacuating the community and containing the inferno. Police officers assisted in maintaining peace and safety. Fortunately, all structures were saved and no injuries were incurred, thanks to the professional first responders. Gardens and landscapes survived the blaze with only a few fences being torched. 

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What homeowners need to know to be more fire-safe:

The area where I live in Northern California is rural, wooded, with minimal escape routes. Many of the plants and trees growing throughout our area are highly flammable including pines, cypress, cedar, fir, bamboo, acacia, juniper, Pampas grass, rosemary, ivy, arborvitae, miscanthus, and eucalyptus. Coyote brush, although moderately fire-resistant when it is young and green, is highly combustible as it grows. It depends on fires to regenerate and grows everywhere in our hills.  All of these plants need to be removed or carefully supervised. Since heat moves up, fire speed and severity is stronger on slopes where vegetation management is crucial.

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Autumn is a prime time to prepare your landscaping for the next season and create a defensible space around your property. A defensible space is an area around a structure that has been cleared of ignitable debris and botanicals that may cause a public safety hazard. No plant is fireproof. Under the right conditions, every plant will burn, especially those that are drought-stressed or not maintained.  A “fire-safe” plant means that it tends not to be a significant fuel source in itself with a chemical composition that resists heat and combustion. It is critical to keep plants around our homes well tended and pruned as a fire protection tool. The closer plants are to the house, the more care is needed. Every homeowner is responsible for managing their vegetation to meet Fire District requirements. 

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Neighborhoods are encouraged to form a committee to receive advice from local fire professionals on how to be Fire Wise. Being Fire Wise is dependent on the diligence of everyone in a neighborhood to keep property fire safe. Fires do not honor property lines. All properties become indefensible when one neighbor has overgrown bushes, brush, or low hanging trees.

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What makes flora highly flammable?

  • ϖ Dry and dead leaves, twigs, branches
  • ϖ Abundant, dense foliage
  • ϖ Needles
  • ϖ Low moisture foliage
  • ϖ Peeling, loose bark
  • ϖ Gummy sap
  • ϖ Leathery or aromatic leaves
  • ϖ Content of terpene, oils, or resin
  • ϖ Dry uncut grasses

What makes flora reasonably fire-resistant?

  • ϖ Hardy, slow-growing plants that don’t produce litter or thatch.
  • ϖ Drought tolerant natives with internal high water content. Generally, but not always, California natives are more tolerant of fire and deer.
  • ϖ Trees with thick bark that restrict the growth of invasive shrub species and hardwood trees such as walnut, cherry, maple, and poplar are less flammable. Deciduous trees and shrubs are more fire resistant because they have higher moisture content when in leaf, lower fuel volume when dormant, and usually do not contain flammable oils.
  • ϖ Supple, moist leaves with little to no sap or resin residue.
  • ϖ Low growing ground covers.
  • ϖ Bulbs with dried leaves cut to the ground.

What can you do now to create a more fire-resistant landscape?

  • ϖ Include pavers, bricks, pavement, gravel, rocks, dry creek beds, fountains, ponds, pools, and lawns. 
  • ϖ Select high moisture plants that grow close to the ground with a low sap and resin content
  • ϖ Plant the right plant in the correct location. Leave space between plants.
  • ϖ Minimize the inclusion of evergreen trees within thirty feet of structures. Clear the understory. Keep trees twenty feet away from chimneys. 
  • ϖ Remove invasive species or swaths of flammable plants including ivy, rosemary, broom, coyote brush, chamise, and juniper.
  • ϖ Keep mulch moist. Create zones of rock, brick, or gravel. Bark and leaves are not mulches recommended near structures.
  • ϖ Prune trees 6-10 feet above the ground to hinder fire laddering.
  • ϖ Keep appropriate clearance to reduce the threat of burning embers from decorative features such as gazebos, fences, sheds, porches, and junk areas.  
  • ϖ Irrigate and maintain all flora, lawns, and hillsides. Clover, groundcovers, and grasses that are kept low and green are excellent alternatives. 
  • ϖ Due to soil erosion, bare ground is not recommended.
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Helpful Websites

Sign Up for Alerts

Having had warning of the looming PGE blackout, I had deeply irrigated my entire garden and hillside. An alert from EBMUD instructed that in a power outage, water must be used judiciously, so as a pre-emptive measure, I watered my landscape thoroughly, soaking the grass, shrubs, mulch, trees, and fences. Throughout the summer, thrice, I had weed-whacked the tall grass surrounding my property and that of neighbors, pruned low hanging tree branches, and a week before the fire I had, thankfully, cut the dry perennials to the ground. These are steps I encourage all homeowners to undertake. Maintaining our landscaping is a never-ending task mandatory for both our pleasure and protection. 

Let’s participate in keeping the fire-breathing dragon away! Enjoy a safe and scary evening of Trick or Treating under the starry skies!

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing. Happy Halloween!

Read more: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1318/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Scary-scary-night.html

Cynthia Brian, The Goddess Gardener, raised in the vineyards of Napa County, is a New York Times best-selling author, actor, radio personality, speaker, media and writing coach as well as the Founder and Executive Director of Be the Star You Are!® 501 c3. 


Tune into Cynthia’s StarStyle® Radio Broadcast at www.StarStyleRadio.com.

Buy a copy of her books, Growing with the Goddess Gardener and Be the Star You Are! Millennials to Boomers at www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store. 


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Hire Cynthia for writing projects, garden consults, and inspirational lectures.




Glamour Magic and Witchcraft

Posted by Editor on
Glamour Magic and Witchcraft

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“The farther we’ve gotten from the magic and mystery of our past, the more we’ve come to need Halloween.

Paula Guran

Happy Halloween! Hosts Brigitte Jia and Joven Hundal start off the show with Trends without Ends reporter Jack Pawlakos shares tricks, treats, and tips for a great Halloween. This year around 179 million Americans plan to dress up and celebrate Halloween,. spending will tally more than $9.1 billion! Chelsea Pelchat, reporter for Past Present, takes us on an historical tour of the origins of Halloween. The Celtic festival of Samhain, another word for summer’s end, meant people would light bonfires and wear costumes to scare off ghosts. This was the day which Irish farmers believed that the dead could rise up from underground and walk amongst the living. Glamorous witch, Deborah Castellano encourages listeners to be crafty, cunning, and unafraid to want something fiercely through her book Glamour Magic: The Witchcraft Revolution for Getting What You Want , Glamour is your secret weapon—your guide to finding what you want and getting it, too, whether it is Halloween or just an ordinary Day.

Have a safe, fun Halloween! Don’t eat too much candy! Booooo!

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Deborah Castellano writes for many of Llewellyn’s annuals and writes a blog on PaganSquare about opinions on glamour, the Muse, and the occult. Glamour Magic: The Witchcraft Revolution for Getting What You Want (Llewellyn) is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Llewellyn.  Her shop, the Mermaid and the Crow, specializes in handmade goods. She resides in New Jersey with her husband, Jow, and two cats. She has a terrible reality television habit she can’t shake and likes St. Germain liqueur, record players, and typewriters. Visit her at www.charmedfinishingschool.com.com.

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Teens talk and the world listens every Tuesday NOON PT on the Voice America Kids Network. Produced by StarStyle® Productions, LLC and Cynthia Brian, these young adults know how to rock and express their unique views. Join the fun!

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Listen at Voice America Kids network: https://www.voiceamerica.com/episode/103257/halloween-haunts

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6 Years of Broadcasting: http://www.digitaljournal.com/pr/3532062

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Flames of Resistance: https://blog.voiceamerica.com/2017/10/27/flames-of-resilience/


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Make a DONATION through PAYPAL GIVING FUND and PAYPAL with 100% going to BTSYA with NO FEES:  https://www.paypal.com/us/webapps/mpp/search-cause?charityId=1504&s=3

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#StartWithaSmile at smile.amazon.com/ch/94-3333882 and Amazon donates to Be The Star You Are, Inc..

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Listen to all broadcasts at ITUNES: https://itunes.apple.com/podcast/express-yourself!/id481894121?mt=2

Express Yourself! Teen Radio is produced by Cynthia Brian of Starstyle Productions, llc as an outreach program of Be the Star You Are! charity. To make a tax-deductible donation to keep this positive youth programming broadcasting weekly to international audiences, visit http://www.bethestaryouare.org/donate.htm. Dare to care!

For all the latest news on what teens are talking about on Express Yourself! Teen Radio embed this code into your blogs and web sites <Iframe src=”http://www.voiceamerica.com/jwplayer/HostPlayer.html?showid=2014″ frameborder=”0″ scrolling=”auto” width=”420″ height=”380″></Iframe>

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Contact us: http://www.bethestaryouare.org/contact

Starstyle, Be the Star You Are, and Miracle Moments are registered trademarks of Cynthia Brian

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Growing Gratitude! By Cynthia Brian

Posted by Editor on
Growing Gratitude! By Cynthia Brian

Cynthia Brian-Thanksgiving bouquet 

“Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul.” Henry Ward Beecher
Are you grateful for the simple things in life? This is the perfect time of the year to reflect upon our blessings and gifts. I am so thankful for all of you who read Digging Deep, Gardening with Cynthia Brian. Your interest and questions are always appreciated. Thank you, also, for so many of you who have hired me to help you with your planting needs or garden desires. It’s magnificent to grow with you.
Every day I am very grateful to be a gardener to witness the beauty, bounty, and endless diversity of Mother Nature. Our landscapes are ever changing. What’s here today may not be here tomorrow, nor, the next year. Seeing the cows grazing in the hills, breathing our clean air, enjoying peace, safety, and serenity that only comes from living in this semi-rural environment makes my heart sing with gratitude.
Wild turkeys have moved into Lamorinda territory, immune to the possibility of becoming a holiday main dish! A big Tom waddled across my driveway as two-dozen of his hens toppled and gobbled the berries from the top of my Chinese pistache. As annoying as they can be, I’m happy to co-exist with the wild things. You may want to collect a few of the beautiful turkey feathers as I do to add to your holiday bouquets!
Persimmon trees are bursting with orange tangy fruit, ready for our holiday puddings. Fall is still showing off its brilliant robes of reds, yellows, and gold, yet there is a nip in the air reminding us that winter in a little over a month. Pumpkins and gourds are still a seasonal favorite. Native to North America, pumpkins are a vegetable, not a fruit, genus Cucubita, species pepo or maxima. They are a type of winter squash and the really weird, ugly ones are the most delicious. The blue-green pumpkins you are growing or have purchased are derived from New Zealand. Cook them as their golden-yellow flesh boasts a sweet, mild aromatic flavor. Were you repelled by the warty pumpkins you saw in markets this year? Don’t be! Those ugly growths are actually sugar secretions. The more warty the pumpkin, the smoother, creamier, and sweeter the flesh inside. Make a pumpkin puree for dinner, or a scrumptious pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving and you’ll be hooked!
As we soon bid farewell to fall, let us all keep gratitude in our hearts as we look for the fertile joys that sprout with simplicity. Believe something wonderful is about to transpire.
Grow and glow in gratefulness.
Cynthia Brian’s Mid Month Garden Reminders

PLANT Woodland Herbaceous Peonies, a separate species of herbaceous peony that thrive in the shade. Naturalizing in a deciduous woodland area with the early spring sun and summer shade, they will grow to 1.5 feet tall and self-seed as a ground cover. . Woodland peonies provide three-season appeal with delicate white flowers in early spring, lush green foliage throughout the growing seasons, and dramatic indigo and scarlet seed pods in the fall. http://peonysenvy.com

LOOKING for a pre-planned garden selection. High Country Gardens offers deer and drought resident plants that have color, texture, and curb appeal. http://www.highcountrygardens.com

PRUNE those thorny creepers, bougainvillea, now to remove old flowers. Cover with burlap if exposed in an area that gets frost.
Tom turkey & Rhododenron
COLLECT turkey feathers to add to bouquets to wreaths for Thanksgiving.
Hachiya persimmons
PICK persimmons. Fuyu persimmons can be eaten like apples but the hachiyas must be mushy ripe before eating.
PUREE warty pumpkins for the sweetest, smoothest, most delicious pumpkin dish you’ll ever taste. Obviously, don’t puree the skins!

CUT branches from liquid amber or Japanese maple trees to use indoors for a punch of end of fall color.
Pink-yellow hibiscus
PLANT your spring bulbs now through January to enjoy a meadow of continuous flowers next year.
hyrdrangea in fall
PICK up pansies to plant for winter. 2017 has been named The Year of the Pansy.

ADD a cover crop to your garden to fix the nitrogen and make green manure for spring.
Austrian winter pea has delicious edible pee shoots. Other great mulching cover crops include clover, mustard, and vetch.
DISCOVER a tree to climb with your kids. It’s that time of year!

CULTIVATE ornamental grasses for low-maintenance and drought tolerate plantings. Maiden hair grass, blonde ambition grass, feather reed grass, and silky thread grass are a few of the lesser known but easily propagated species.

TRAIN rambling and vining plants on a trellis or tall support for a spectacular vertical garden wherever space is lacking.

SOW wildflower seeds that will attract pollinators, hummingbirds, and beneficial bugs.
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PRUNE all perennials when finished blooming. Add the stems and spent flowers to the compost pile.


GIVE thanks every day for something. Keeping a gratitude journal alongside your garden guide is a great tool for remembering to be grateful.

Thank you, thank you for being my special gardening gang. I am humbled to be your guide on the side. There is no such thing as a brown thumb, just one that hasn’t turned green yet!

Happy Gardening and Happy Growing! Happy Thanksgiving and Turkey Day!

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Cynthia Brian
The Goddess Gardener
Starstyle® Productions, llc
Tune into Cynthia’s Radio show at www.StarStyleRadio.net
I am available as a speaker, designer, and consultant.  

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