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Starry, Scary Night

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Empowerment
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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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. 

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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.

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

 

Glamour Magic and Witchcraft

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Kids
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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Bio:

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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Be the Star You Are!® is collecting donations to help with Operation Hurricane and Fire Disaster Relief. http://www.bethestaryouare.org/copy-of-operation-hurricane-disaste 

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

Shop. Earn. Give! Use Giving Assistant to earn cash back at 1800+ popular online stores, then donate a percentage to BTSYA: https://givingassistant.org/np#be-the-star-you-are-inc

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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Links you can use for Be the Star You Are!®

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Growing Gratitude! By Cynthia Brian

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Empowerment
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.
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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.
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PLANT your spring bulbs now through January to enjoy a meadow of continuous flowers next year.
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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.
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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.

FERTILIZE lawns.

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!

Read more 

©2016
Cynthia Brian
The Goddess Gardener
Starstyle® Productions, llc
Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com
www.GoddessGardener.com
925-377-STAR
Tune into Cynthia’s Radio show at www.StarStyleRadio.net
I am available as a speaker, designer, and consultant.  

Color Me Happy! By Cynthia Brian

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Empowerment
Color Me Happy! By Cynthia Brian

“I feel like a warm, red autumn!” Marilyn Monroe

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My favorite part of a November autumn is looking out from my bedroom balcony to the kaleidoscope of colors dotting the landscape in the valley. Trees are cloaked in hues of magenta, sienna, umber, gold, russet, umber, purple, red, pumpkin, and a variety of greens.  Wherever I walk or drive, the picturesque autumn foliage of Northern California rivals the forests of the Eastern seaboard. We are indeed fortunate to live in a climate that harks four seasons.
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November of this year brings us an election as well as Thanksgiving.  Since politics is not my favorite subject, I prefer to focus on what needs to be done in our November garden before turkey day.  Autumn is the best time to plant because the soil is still warm and the rains are imminent.  To find trees bursting with colorful leaves, visit your local nursery. Japanese Maple, pistache, liquid amber, crape myrtle, and many fruit trees put on quite a spectacular show this time of year. Buy them now and plant them where they will grow, thrive, and enhance your landscape.

Information on Grass Seed and the Rain
When it rained this past week, I ran outside to plant seeds of my hundred year old plus heirloom hollyhock seeds as well as sunflower seeds. The drizzly weather also posed the most auspicious moment to re-seed my lawn with Pearl’s Premium lawn seed and fertilize with an organic cover. My new grass is already sprouting.  
Pearl's Premium lawn seed
Several emails have arrived asking for more information about my experience with Pearl’s Premium.  I’m not paid to talk or write about this product (although I probably should be on the payroll because I’m so passionate about this seed). Being a believer in one’s right to have a lawn for enjoyment, I’ve been on a mission to find the grass seed that will remain green while using less water.  With my first summer of using Pearl’s Premium behind me, I offer you my personal experimental results.
1. Grass remained somewhat green with brown and bare spots where the irrigation missed the mark.
2. Pearl’s Premium definitely choked out the majority of weeds.
3. I watered twice a week in twelve-minute segments per station using 34% less water over the previous year.
4. The lawn was mowed once a week and grass clippings were left on the lawn at least twice per month to add nutrients.
5. Although not a lush green in the summer, the grass did not die.
6. With just two rainy days, the lawn has emerged as emerald.  I still have a lawn!
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As noted, I am re-seeding my lawns with the expectation that next spring and summer will have even better results as the instructions on the Pearl’s Premium label do indicate that it can take a year for proper establishment. According to Jackson Madnick, the founder of the company, Pearl’s Premium is not sold at retail establishments here in our area so you will need to purchase online at www.PearlsPremium.com.  He is currently installing seven acres of his grass in Palm Desert. The seed is drought tolerant.  As promised, for all of you Lamorinda lawn lovers, I will continue to update you on my experiences. For now, I am happy with my green!
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Cynthia Brian’s November Gardening Guide

⎫ TIME to fall back! Set your clocks back one hour on Sunday, November 6th.  It’s going to be dark in the mornings to be advantageous for early garden chores pre-work day. Bummer!
⎫ HEAL by looking at nature. For over thirty-two years since the journal Science published the study by behavioral scientist Roger Ulrich, we know that just viewing trees and the outdoors enhances wellness and speeds healing.
⎫ GATHER guavas that have fallen to make a jam or other guava treat.
⎫ SOW these vegetable seeds for a bountiful early winter harvest: lettuce, Asian greens spinach, arugula, chard, chicory, kale, radish, cabbage, beets, and cress.
⎫ DONATE to Be the Star You Are!® charity as it ships books to the most devastated areas in Hurricane Matthew’s path in North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, and Georgia. Go to www.BetheStarYouAre.org and click on Operation Hurricane Matthew Disaster Relief.
⎫ FERTILIZE your lawns with an organic mixture and re-seed during the rains. Cover the grass with mulch or screens to keep the birds from eating the seeds.
⎫ SPREAD seeds of hollyhock along fence lines or at the back of your garden as hollyhock can grow to 12 feet or more.
⎫ HELP the birds settle in for the upcoming winter by cleaning nesting boxes and providing plenty of seed to their feeders.
⎫ DECORATE your waterfall, fountain, or front door with a variety of odd shaped pumpkins and gourds.
⎫ COLLECT acorns, leaves, and nuts to add to your festive kitchen or dining room table fall tableau of squash, gourds, and pumpkins.
⎫ COLOR your world by planting bushes that boast fall and winter berries including cotoneaster, holly, and pyracantha. (Pyracantha plants have sharp thorns. Plant in low traffic areas. Pyracantha don’t have berries, but pomes.)
⎫ MULCH by shredding the raked leaves from the deciduous trees adding grass clippings, dried plants stems, and trimmings all which provide water conservation, better drainage, and nutrients to the soil.
⎫ PLANT your spring blooming bulbs now including daffodils, crocus, freesia, ranunculus, hyacinths, Dutch Iris, tulips, and other favorites.  You’ll be able to continue planting bulbs through January. Mark the location with plant tags or wooden paint sticks.
⎫ BUY trees with fall color at your local nursery or garden center including Crape Myrtle, Pistache, Liquid Amber, and Japanese Maple.
⎫ COVER patio furniture and move potted frost tender plants under an overhang or bring indoors.
⎫ ENJOY the warmth and the beauty of this annual autumn fashion extravaganza.
⎫ CAPTURE the moments with your smartphone to compare your garden to next years show! It’s amazing how much our landscapes change.
⎫ VOTE on November 8th. One person does make a difference.
Liquid Amber leaves
Color me happy!
CB at PArkmon Vineyards - 2
Happy Gardening and Happy Growing!
Read more

©2016
Cynthia Brian
The Goddess Gardener
Starstyle® Productions, llc
Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com
www.GoddessGardener.com
925-377-STAR
Tune into Cynthia’s Radio show at www.StarStyleRadio.net
I am available as a speaker, designer, and consultant.  

More Here!

Halloween Haunts, Health Care Harm, The Dark Horde By Cynthia Brian

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Empowerment
Halloween Haunts, Health Care Harm, The Dark Horde By Cynthia Brian

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If you are looking for upbeat, life-changing, and mind stretching information, you’ve come to the right place. Hosts Cynthia Brian and Heather Brian take you on a journey of exploration that will encourage, inspire, and motivate you to make positive changes that offer life enhancing results. It’s a party time on StarStyle®-Be the Star You Are!®. And YOU are invited! Join us LIVE 4-5pm Pt on Wednesdays or tune in to the archives at your leisure. Come play in StarStyle Country.
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Halloween is Heather Brittany’s favorite holiday. After moving to a new neighbourhood,  Heather reveals all the scary and fun décor awaiting trick or treaters.

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According to a study by John Hopkins University,  in 2016 over 250,000 deaths were caused by hospital errors making medical mistakes the third-leading cause of death in the United States after heart disease and cancer. Is your ER or hospital a potential killer? Cynthia Brian brings you the facts.

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From down under comes Andrew Drage, known as Brewin, with his book of terror, The Dark Horde.  Part thriller, part crime-fiction, all supernatural horror, The Dark Horde tells of the return of an ancient evil that is neither stoppable nor comprehensible.  Getting ready for this perfect companion to scare yourself to death for Halloween.

Listen LIVE at Voice America Network, Empowerment Channel

View Photos, Descriptions, & More at Express Yourself!™ Teen Radio.

HELP HURRICANE MATTHEW VICTIMS

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

Make a DONATION through PAYPAL GIVING FUND and PAYPAL with 100% going to BTSYA with NO FEES!
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Read our BTSYA  October Newsletter

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Shop. Earn. Give! Use Giving Assistant to earn cash back at 1800+ popular online stores, then donate a percentage to BTSYA.

Listen to all broadcasts at ITUNES

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. 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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Buy books and shirts. If you are buying gifts on line, check out
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Halloween Witch & Horror Writer By Cynthia Brian

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Halloween Witch & Horror Writer By Cynthia Brian

    

Every Tuesday at NOON PT, the talented teens of Be the Star You Are!® bring you an exciting, informative, mind-boggling program with fresh ideas from youthful minds. Join the fun!
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Halloween is THE favourite holiday for many teens and our hosts Asya Gonzalez and Brigitte Jia are among those who love October. Today they interview two fascinating authors around the theme of Halloween: the King of Witches, Devin Hunter, whose new book is The Witches Book of Power and Australian author and gamer, Brewin’ with his supernatural horror, The Dark Horde. Instead of being dark and frightening, Devin’s book empowers readers to ignite the fire within. He discusses the importance of being unique and reaching your magical potentials. Part thriller and part crime-fiction, Brewin’s, The Dark Horde tells of the return of an ancient evil that is neither stoppable nor comprehensible. Brewin’ is also the creator of the sci-fi games, Gamebooks Adventures. The hosts were very excited about downloading the series immediately to start playing. Both authors were questioned about their Halloween experiences and what they’ll be doing on this next hallowed eve. An entertaining hour of G rated conversations.  Don’t be afraid to let the kids tune in.

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Author Bio: Devin Hunter
Devin Hunter is a modern Witch and Psychic Medium who has been working with the public for over thirteen years. He is the author of The Witch’s Book of Power and the host of the AV Club favorited podcast, The Modern Witch. As a professional, Devin has helped thousands of people connect to loved ones on the other side, find direction in life when needed, and develop their magical abilities. Holding initiations in multiple occult traditions, Devin is the founder of his own magical lineage, Sacred Fires. He is currently teaching with the Black Rose School of Witchcraft and is the reigning Master of Ceremonies at the New Orleans Witches’ Ball. Devin can currently be found as the House Medium at the Mystic Dream in Walnut Creek, CA. His second book, The Witch’s Book of Spirits releases from Llewellyn World Wide in July of 2017! http://kingofwitches.com

andrew-drage-the-dark-horde

Author Bio: Brewin’
Australian author Brewin’ (is the pseudonym of Andrew Drage. He graduated with a first-class degree from La Trobe University, majoring in zoology, philosophy and statistics. He works as a respected IT developer and analyst in Melbourne and has been writer, editor and designer for six titles in the highly acclaimed Gamebook Adventures digital interactive fiction series.
His debut novel, Evermore: An Introduction, was published to critical acclaim in 2001, and has been republished twice since. The Dark Horde, is his second fiction novel, published 2012. He is also the author of Gamebook Adventures: Infinite Universe, first published 2012. www.thebrewin.com .
YOU-TUBE TRAILER 

Gamebook Adventures 4: Revenant Rising

HAlloween decor - 1

Listen at Voice America Network 

View Photos, Descriptions, & More at Express Yourself!™ Teen Radio.

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Hauling Harvests and Haunting Halloween By Cynthia Brian

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Empowerment
Hauling Harvests and Haunting Halloween By Cynthia Brian

 

“Tickle it with a hoe and it will laugh into a harvest.” English Saying

October proclaims two main events: harvest and Halloween.
grape harvest by hilary.jpg - 1
It’s been several decades since I’ve worked in our vineyards picking grapes. As a child I drove tractor, plowed fields, and watered the new vineyards vine by vine driving a refitted vintage fire truck with one sibling opening the water valve as we slowly rolled through the rows. Once September and October arrived, the grape harvest began.  Crews of eight workers, including myself, combed every vine with our specially curved knife quickly dropping bunches of ripe berries into the lugs which would be dumped into big bins on the grape trailer. When the truck and trailer had a full load, we’d ride with my Dad to the wineries for the delivery. We all loved being with our Dad hauling the grapes to their wine destination. Although we worked on numerous neighboring farms harvesting, culling, or cutting peaches, apricots, and pears, none of us were fans of the grape picking process. Because of the dearth of available pickers, a couple of years ago my brother invested in a mechanical harvester. This week, on the final night of the cabernet sauvignon harvest, I rode along with my brother and nephew as the huge harvester and four men did the work of six crews with precision and speed. (Instead of picking during the heat of the day, the harvester allows harvesting at night into the early morning hours when it is cooler.) Although we still have several acres that are hand picked, I hollered “hallelujah” to this happy mechanical harvesting experience.

Freddie, Cyn, fred, Harvesting
Lamorinda boasts a rich grape growing precedent with a 130 year-old history. The Lamorinda Wine Growers Association, (www.LamorindaWineGrowers.com) dedicated to sustainable farming and community building, is re-establishing the areas love of the vine and wine along with our pleasant pear past.  Lamorinda is now a recognized wine region with it’s own viticulture appellation thanks to the hard work of the Lamorinda Wine Growers Association. The varietals grown throughout Lafayette, Orinda, and Moraga span the French Bordeaux area with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Merlot to the Rhone regions’ Syrah, Petite Sirah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, and Viognier. Burgundy is represented by the Pinot Noir grape and Lamorindans also grow small amounts of Sangiovese and Chardonnay. Because the plots are small, grapes are hand picked. A mechanical harvester has not become a necessary piece of equipment…yet. I’m hoping that 2016 will be heralded as a prime vintage year.
mums ready to bloom
Preparing for Halloween, it’s time to harvest the pumpkins, gourds, and winter squash. If you don’t grow your own, you’ll find funky as well as colorful pumpkins at the local Farmer’s Market and even many of the grocery stores. Apples and Asian pears are still hanging from the trees awaiting their reaper. Find a recipe for making caramel or candied apples to enjoy an old fashioned treat. Cut your corn stalks to use in decorations and buy a hay bale to add to the décor. You can later use the hay to cover your newly planted vegetable patch. The hay mulch will keep most weeds from emerging as the ghosts, ghouls, and goblins begin their rampage.

It’s time to howl at the moon with a glass of Lamorinda produced wine!  Enjoy a grape adventure!
lizard sunning on rock
Mid Month Gardening Tips from Cynthia Brian
The next two months are busy ones in the garden as we prepare our beds for a winter’s sleep. Chrysanthemums will be displaying their full glory soon, a certain beacon of the blazing fall colors to follow.  Get out there and get it done now.

FERTILIZE lawns during the rain for faster absorption. Don’t forget to re-seed during these wet days as well.
PULL any weeds you find in your garden before they develop seed heads.
CREATE a sunflower arch for a festive October wine fest.
PLANT a variety of lettuces in a window box or container kept close to your kitchen to keep your salads fresh all season Clip the micro greens as they sprout for delicate, delicious delights.
REPAIR birdhouses so that overwintering birds such as bluebirds, chickadees, and nuthatches will have a warm, safe, cozy place to rest during the upcoming cold nights.
INCREASE bird feeders in your yard as birds consume more food in fall and winter.
TUNE up your garden by pruning back overgrown shrubs and adding three or five New Zealand flax for their spiky form and variegated colors.
DIG and divide iris rhizomes now. Make sure to keep a few inches of the leaves on the stems and bury the roots two inches deep, eighteen to twenty inches apart.
WATCH the antics of the lizards as they sun themselves on rocks during these final days of warmth.
STOP watering remaining summer crops to force your final produce to ripen.
PRUNE your berry bushes, including summer raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries by removing dead canes. Thin any new forming canes.
AMEND your hard clay soil with large amounts of compost.
MULCH with wood chips to prevent erosion and maintain temperate soil temperatures.
MAKE a beautiful arrangement of fall flowers and foliage snipped from your trees and bushes.
FREEZE or can your vine tomatoes before the rains rot them.
ENROLL in a course on edible gardening, native plants, or composting.
PROPOGATE perennials through root cuttings.
INDULGE in forest bathing…or just take a walk in nature.
SAVE seeds from your favorite annuals, herbs, and vegetables by gathering, drying, labeling, and storing.
HARVEST the remainder of ripe produce before the end of the month-apples, Asian Pears, peppers, Swiss chard.
IMPROVE your health by enjoying grapes, apples, pears, pumpkins, and squash.
ROAST seeds from squash and pumpkins by first cleaning, drying, soaking in salted water, then, baking at 375 degrees until golden brown. What a healthy snack!
TIE dried corn stalks together to add to your front door fall décor.
hosta-coralbells-heuchera
Happy Gardening, Happy Growing, Happy Harvested Halloween!

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Chorisia-pink silk floss tree
©2016
Cynthia Brian
The Goddess Gardener
StarStyle® Productions, llc
Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com
www.GoddessGardener.com
925-377-STAR
Tune into Cynthia’s Radio show at www.StarStyleRadio.net
I am available as a speaker, designer, and consultant.

Living, Growing, Totally Spooky

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Empowerment
Living, Growing, Totally Spooky

pirate cynthia speaking - 2

By Cynthia Brian

“To the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself.” William Blake

The season of screams and scares is officially here! Halloween is right around the corner, and it’s time to embrace your inner ghoul. With only a few days left until a haunted eve, a walk in the park or around your personal garden will spark your spooktacular spirit as you encounter everyday species that ignite eerie imaginings, yet are friendly visitors. It’s time to put out our mystical welcome mat.
snake plant
Children have feared spiders since the days of learning the nursery rhyme “Little Miss Muffet”. We may not want them living in our homes, but in the garden spiders are considered beneficial bugs. There are generally two types of spiders-the weavers and the hunters. The big, beautiful, yet scary looking yellow and black argiope spider (Golden orb weaver) spins a web that catches garden predators twice her size while the hunters, the wolf spider and the crab spider, ambush their prey. Even their names evoke Halloween myths. These helpful arthropods (meaning eight legs) are considered more efficient eaters than our feathered friends eradicating aphids, spider mites, leafhoppers, armyworms, caterpillars, beetles, thrips, and other nuisances. Don’t squish the spiders nor destroy their webs because spiders are positive pest patrollers of our secret oasis.
euchalyptus bark
Allium sativum is renowned for repelling vampires. But the next time you witness darting dive-bombers of the dark, hide the garlic to usher in the bats. Contrary to common thought, these North American “vampires” do not attack people. Mosquitoes bite people and bats eat more than 600 mosquitoes per hour. Their droppings are rich in nitrogen and they guard gardens from invasive insects. If you have a pool, you’ll witness them skimming the water at twilight.

Many people are frightened of snakes, but finding a snake in the grass is a good omen. Most snakes are not poisonous and the most common snakes we find in our gardens are the garter or King snake. Rattlesnakes are venomous and like all pit vipers have thick triangular heads, easily distinguishable from their docile, non-poisonous relatives. Snakes eat mice, rats, and other rodents as well as snails and slugs.
king snake-veg garden.jpg
Do you have lizards in your landscape? Congratulations, you are gardening organically. A healthy garden boasts plenty of these small, fast moving reptiles. Without chewing, lizards swallow moths, grubs, flies, grasshoppers, beetles, and crickets whole. When you see a lizard with a missing tale, it’s not an ingredient in a witches’ brew, but probably digesting in the belly of a bird. Tales do grow back. Lizards are excellent neighbors. Encourage them to stay.

To attract any of these beneficial creepy crawlies or flying friends, make sure to offer hiding places, water, and eliminate all pesticides, herbicides, and non-organic fertilizers. Allow them admittance to your hunting grounds as they pursue, chase, and stalk plant destroyers.
HAlloween decor - 3
How else can we be scared in our own backyards this Halloween?

⎫ Trees can be frightening. Get up close to check out the bark of a eucalypts tree or recline under a pepper tree swaying in the wind. Let your imagination run wild. Do you see skeletons, witches, ghosts, or faces of the walking dead?
⎫ Investigate the babies of a spider plant, or be spooked by a hanging snake plant.
⎫ Admire the beautiful blooms and intoxicating fragrance of the sweetly named Angel Trumpet but don’t be tempted to taste it.  As a member of the Nightshade family, it is highly toxic, even deadly. Wear gloves!
⎫ Why is the fox by the fountain in the backyard? Or is the fox a shape shifter?
⎫ Are the coyotes howling at the moon or an evil eye wandering in the darkness?
⎫ Do you hear the hooting of the owls and the cawing of the crows? They too are hunting…and not for humans.

And, finally, a gardener’s Halloween quiz. (Answers at the bottom)
a. What is a vampires’ favorite flower?
b. What is a werewolf’s favorite legume?
pumpkins at night
Carve your pumpkins, light the Jack O’Lanterns, weave your webs, and dress up the skeletons you’ve been hiding in the closet. Nature provides the imagination for your supernatural trick or treat decor.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN to all the witches, warlords, pirates, princesses, paupers, pumpkins, and pilgrims!

Cynthia Brian’s Mid Month Reminder

I’m sounding like a broken record, but remember to chill your bulbs for a minimum of six to ten weeks before planting. Keep them in the dark at 38-45 degrees Fahrenheit before putting in the ground as we live in a warm zone and many bulbs, including tulips native to colder Holland, will not thrive. Make sure that no fruits or vegetables are in the refrigerator, as they will emit harmful ethylene gas. In November and December when ready to plant, make sure the soil has been properly prepared before removing your bulbs from refrigeration. Plant promptly.
angel trumpet vine

Quiz answers
A: Bleeding Hearts
B. Human Beans

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Happy Gardening, Happy Growing!
©2015
Cynthia Brian
The Goddess Gardener
Starstyle® Productions, llc
Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com
www.GoddessGardener.com
925-377-STAR
Tune into Cynthia’s Radio show at www.StarStyleRadio.net
I am available as a speaker, designer, and consultant.

spider in web.jpg

Cynthia Brian is a New York Times best selling author, speaker, coach, and host of the radio show, StarStyle®-Be the Star You Are!® broadcasting live every Wednesday from 4-5pm PT on the Voice America Network.. She also is the creator and producer of Express Yourself!™ Teen Radio and Executive Director of Be the Star You Are!® 501c3 charity.

Halloween Spooktacular, Trick or Treat for Literacy

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Empowerment
Halloween Spooktacular, Trick or Treat for Literacy

PumpkinsCarved-Halloween - 6
The season of screams and scares is officially here! Halloween is the time to embrace your inner ghoul. Health Matter’s Heather Brittany keeps you safe during her favorite spooky holiday with tips and tricks.
Legend has it that garlic repels vampires and wards off the evil eye. Popularized by Bram Stoker’s Dracula, garlic not only is effective against the blood-sucking princes of the night, but also fends off the undead, including witches, warlocks, and werewolves.  Goddess Gardener, Cynthia Brian tells us how to plant, store, and use this miracle vampire repellent.

Special guest, Be the Star You Are!® Teen Ambassador and Host of Express Yourself!™ Teen Radio, Henna Hundal joins the conversation to talk about Trick or Treat for Literacy, her Halloween favorites, and making a difference with her BTSYA volunteerism.

For some spooktacular holiday inspiration, Starstyle®-Be the Star You Are!™ will shoot you into the spirit of Halloween faster than you can say BOO!
pumpkins at night
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Cynthia Brian’s October Gardening Guide

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Empowerment
Cynthia Brian’s October Gardening Guide

cynthia brian-pelagoniaums, dahlias

“Go forth under the open sky, and listen to Nature’s teachings.”
~ William Cullen Bryant
cosmos, bachelor buttons 4'oclocks
Autumn is with us. The sun is still scorching our soils with heat during the days while the nights offer chilly dew. October is the best month of the fall season to take care of garden chores before winter arrives. With the drought a forever threat, we are all seeking ideas for a low-maintenance garden that will thrive with little care and less water. It is clear that we need to stand under the open sky to listen and look at what Mother Nature is telling us about our future in the outdoors.
waterfall
Visit your favorite nursery or garden center and talk to the professionals. Choose plants appropriate for your soil and sun requirements. Determine whether you have a shade or sun garden, how much moisture your area needs, then pick the plants that will flourish in those conditions. For example sun-loving specimens such as canna, lamb’s ears, sweet alyssum, geraniums, salvia’s, fountain grass, and boxwood planted densely will out-compete weeds while providing you with an elegant, low maintenance area. Plant the clump forming fountain grass and the evergreen shrub, boxwood, towards the back, with the fragrant sweet alyssum as a border in colors of pink, cream, purple, and white in the front. The wooly silver evergreen lambs-ear with its spikes of purple looks great with the salvia and tall spikes of the robust perennial canna in red, yellow, or orange. Geraniums are available in color clusters of red, pink, white, purple offering continuous blooms above bright green leaves spring through mid winter, when it’s time to prune them to the ground.
red bachelor button queen anne's lace
Other low maintenance plants for full sun include Russian sage, rosa rugosa, daylily, and rudbeckia. For a shade garden, consider hosta, Lenten Rose, and ferns. If your soil is extremely dry, succulents including hen-and-chicks, lavender, sedum, and St. John’s Wort are easy choices while astilbe and Japanese iris will prosper in wet soil. A re-circulating water feature, waterfall, or pond will keep the pollinators around while adding a calming resonance in your environment.
purple veined sorrel
Halloween will be upon us soon. Allow your sunflowers, cornstalks, and pumpkins to continue in the garden until it’s time to decorate.
pumpkins on vine
⎫ MOVE baskets and pots to a shady area when Indian summer is hottest.
⎫ PRUNE your berry vines hard after you have harvested the fruit for easier picking next season.
⎫ ORDER spring bulbs from catalogs now for planting in November
⎫ PICK sorrel to add to salad, sauces, and soups.
⎫ DEADHEAD spent annuals.
⎫ PROPAGATE geranium and pelargonium by cutting back no-blooming stems and planting in damp soil.
⎫ DESTROY invasive star thistle that may have taken root in your garden. Animals and birds will not eat it and it must not be added to the compost pile.
⎫ BUY trees boasting autumn colors now.
⎫ VISIT nurseries to check out the fall selection of plants and bulbs. Suggestions in the tulip category include Greigii, single or double early blooming, triumph, Giant Darwin hybrid, lily flowering, parrot, peony, heirloom, viridiflora, fringed, crispa, single or double late blooming. Amazing how many varieties there are.  Make sure to cool them in the refrigerator for six to 10 weeks before planting. Other bulbs to buy include narcissi (and there is an equal amount of varieties, sizes, shapes, and colors), amaryllis, paperwhites, crocus, galanthus, scilla, iris, freesia, hyacinths, muscari, anemone, fritillaria, Dutch iris, allium, peonies, and Asiatic lilies….for starters.
⎫ CHECK around your house for fire hazards and flammable materials. October is the height of fire season.
⎫ FERTILIZE begonias and roses for more blooms.
⎫ GATHER seeds from bachelor buttons, cosmos, 4 o’clocks to dry and save for spring planting.
⎫ FEED your citrus.
⎫ TRANSPLANT calendulas, Iceland poppies, dianthus, forget-me-nots, primroses, Shasta daisies, agapanthus, and daylilies.
⎫ FREEZE or can your extra harvest of fruit and vegetables for winter health.
⎫ EAT the flowers of chives, garlic, basil, mint, dill, and other flowering herbs. Delicious and pretty in salads, sandwiches, and soups.
⎫ HARVEST the last of your grapes. Add the colorful leaves and twine the vines to form a spectacular autumnal arrangement.
⎫ RAKE your leaves into a compost pile. Add lawn clippings, eggshells, food scraps (no meat), and coffee grounds. Stupendous soil will be ready to use before the holidays.
⎫ Re-seed tired lawns using low-water loving clover for less maintenance, and fast, healthy growth.
⎫ DECORATE your front porch with sunflowers and cornstalks from your garden at the end of the month.
⎫ SAVE sunflower seeds to feed the birds as well as to sow for next season.
⎫ PICK your pumpkins at the end of the month and make a family day of carving Jack O’Lanterns.
⎫ SEE you at the Pear and Wine Festival on September 26th at Moraga Commons. Visit the Be the Star You Are!® booth to receive a FREE brand new book as part of the literacy outreach project, “Read, Lead, Succeed!”  Thanks to our sponsors, Children’s Success Unlimited, Michael Verbrugge Constructions, and The Lamorinda Weekly for making this giveaway possible. Pick up FREE seeds, bookmarks, and potpourri for all of our garden readers.
sunflowers
Happy Gardening and Happy Growing.

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nook with geraniums
Cynthia Brian is a New York Times best selling author, speaker, coach, and host of the radio show, StarStyle®-Be the Star You Are!® broadcasting live every Wednesday from 4-5pm PT on the Voice America Network.. She also is the creator and producer of Express Yourself!™ Teen Radio and Executive Director of Be the Star You Are!® 501c3 charity.
black eyed susan-lilies
©2015
Cynthia Brian
The Goddess Gardener
Starstyle® Productions, llc
Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com
www.GoddessGardener.com
925-377-STAR
I am available as a speaker, designer, and consultant.
Tune into Cynthia’s Radio show at www.StarStyleRadio.net

star thistle

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