Embrace Your Magnificence – Book Review

I requested a complimentary NetGalley copy of this book in order to review.


I used to do a lot of book reviews, but I’m much busier these days and therefore, have limited amounts of time to read for pure leisure. I do LOVE to read, I’m just way more selective of my choices. I currently have a pretty nice list of books I want to read, some in my mind, others piled up next to my bed. You will NEVER find an empty bedside table in my house. Even the kids have books by their bed.

It amazes me how many books I’m pitched on a weekly basis. I turn down about 99% of them now. It’s a rare selection that catches my eye and I ask for a review copy. One of those books that struck a chord with me several months ago was Embrace Your Magnificence, by Fabienne Fredrickson. I think it was the title that got to me. I was going through a lot of changes at the precise moment I was offered a NetGalley copy of the book. My mother was going through surgery, I had just started a new business, not sure if I was ready… or where it would lead me. I have a big fear of failure and starting anything new at my age scares me. Still… my children were growing up, one starting high school and another starting junior high. I was at a crossroads and knew that I needed a little push. From someone. Or something.

The tagline for Embrace Your Magnificence is,

“Get out of your own way and live a richer, fuller, more abundant life.”

Oh wow! That is EXACTLY what I wanted (needed) to do. I read the book… and was inspired by it. But I didn’t write about it until now. It was one of those things that I wasn’t quite ready to talk about. It is the kind of piece that is going to speak to everyone a little differently, depending on where you are currently in life, where you want to go, what road blocks are in your way.

I learned that most of my road blocks were simply ME. Fabienne was right… I needed to get out of my own way and realize that I have all the qualities, skills, willpower I need to get where I want to go.

The beauty of Embrace Your Magnificence is that each of the 12 Chapters focuses on a different life area. You can read straight through like I did (I needed help in ALL areas) or you can skip around to the chapters that you need guidance from day by day. There are a total of 72 inspiring lessons that will help you unlock your potential and find the path that you were meant to travel on.

It all starts with YOU. Or, ME, in this case. I have found that many of the books I’ve been reading lately have focused on taking care of myself first. It’s usually the last thing we think of when we’re a parent especially. The kids or the husband or the parents or the pets always come first. But really, our happiness (and the happiness of our family) completely depends on us focusing on our needs. What might sound selfish when taken out of context is really so important for our own well being.

For those of you feeling out of sorts, static in your jobs, unsure of what steps to take next, I would suggest following Fabienne’s words of wisdom. She’s been through all of it before. She wrote this book after living these lessons herself… starting out where many of us are (were) and by focusing on what she needed… she was able to grow her business, have a happier family life, and prosper. Yep… that’s what I definitely need to do.





Big Dreams and Small Minds: What is Really Holding You Back?


A few weeks ago I came across a video of Steve Harvey being interviewed by Oprah. I’m not a big Steve Harvey fan, but it was the type of video that was making it’s way around the internet, so I stopped and watched. As Steve was speaking, I sort of had an a-ha moment. You know the type… when suddenly everything that you had been thinking, dreaming, feeling suddenly made sense. What did he say?

“Stop telling your big dreams to small minded people.”

As I sat and thought about that one sentence, I realized that most of what holds people back isn’t the lack of funds or the lack of time… it’s the lack of support. The lack of belief from your family and social circle. How many times have we shared what our hopes and dreams were just to be crushed by, “You don’t have the money for that.” “You don’t have the time to do that.” “Why don’t you try this instead?” “There is too much competition.”

It took some pretty crazy people with some pretty crazy ideas to completely change the world we live in. Hello… Steve Jobs anyone?

I’ve seen it firsthand… quite a lot lately. People with big ideas doing nothing more than staying in their little bubble because people didn’t believe in them. It’s pretty hard to believe in yourself when nobody else does.

We tend to settle for the safe and easy. Of course, because it’s safe and easy. The scary and difficult means that we actually have to stand up to the critics, buck the system, and step out of our comfort zone. But it also means that the rewards on the other end are phenomenal. Nobody ever became successful because they sat at home all day, doing nothing, and magically was handed a great opportunity on a silver platter. Every day, I see these people doing the same thing day in and day out while expecting a different outcome. Nope. Not going to happen.

You want to live your dreams? Change your path. 

There is something to be said for surrounding yourself with like-minded people. The problem comes from exactly what type of like-minded are you going for? We can hang out with family and friends who are content with their middle class life, but chances are that isn’t going to drive us forward. Let’s say you have a big dream of inventing a new product. You have the idea, but you aren’t sure how to make it happen. Telling your plans to your circle probably isn’t going to get that new product made. You’ll end up being frustrated that nothing is happening, you still don’t know how to accomplish your goal, and people will think you are out of your league. But that dream persists.

What if you joined an inventors group on Facebook? What if you sought out inventors, who have actually patented a product, created a mock-up, and are successful living their dream? How about developing a relationship with them where you can get to know them and share conversations about all those big ideas. How did they proceed? What steps did they take to get where they are?

I had a friend who wanted to be a realtor. She had some other friends who were already licensed realtors and she became good friends with them. She learned the business by listening to their conversations, chatting with them about education and property values and what kinds of traits make a good realtor. She ended up getting her real estate license and working with one of those friends. Had she not sought out realtors and become part of their circle, she would probably have never started a new career.

Enough with the Excuses!

I used to use all the excuses too. I have no money. I have no time. The kids need me. There is too much to do around the house. I have no skills. It’s a vicious cycle and in some cases, those excuses are very valid, especially when you are hearing them from other people. BUT… they are excuses, ones that can absolutely be circumvented IF you really want to.

My biggest issue to starting a business has always been the fact that I didn’t have time and I didn’t have money. We all know that it takes money to make money. Don’t tell me it doesn’t… it does. But… it might not take as much as you think, and there are certainly ways to be primed to move forward so that when you do have a little money, you can jump on the opportunity immediately.

I always knew I wanted my own business. A business with a staff, and an office, and lots of happy clients. I wanted to be successful… just wasn’t sure how I was going to get there. For years, I either kept that dream hidden, or told those “small minded” people what I wanted to do. I had little to no support. Remember… all those “excuses” kept popping up.

I started a blog many years ago because I thought it would be something fun to keep me busy when I had 3 little kids at home. I had no money so I started a free Blogger blog. A domain at the time was probably around $5 but the thought of actually having my own domain kind of freaked me out. I wasn’t that technical and had no idea what I would even do with it. I blogged for about a year before I realized that I needed to go further. Bloggers were becoming a big thing and I was already primed to take the next step. I sprung for that domain and I joined some blog groups that were starting to help bloggers get paid for writing. I had a very limited number of followers, but my little blog was growing steadily and I was actually chosen for some campaigns that paid me to write a blog post about them. I made a few bucks. Very few. But… it was enough for me to find a blog designer and actually have a professional looking blog designed. Baby steps.

One Step at a Time… Just DO IT!

Once I had a great looking blog, my numbers started to grow. I found Facebook and Twitter and StumbleUpon and started to promote myself. More and more opportunities started to come my way. I studied blogging like you would study math or history. As I applied to join more blog networks, I had the chance to work on more sponsored posts. Each time I made money, I would earmark it for a blog conference or seminar. I went. And I learned.

So, what’s the moral of the story? It’s the fact that I didn’t stop. I kept growing and dreaming. I surrounded myself with people who were ahead of me professionally so I could learn from them. I started changing the people I followed on social media. I love my blogger friends, but I started following more social media blogs, websites and joined dedicated social media groups. I took it upon myself to learn everything I could and in the end, I altered the path I was on. I took my time, took one step at a time, and moved to the place I pictured in my dreams.

I’m not all the way there yet. Far from it. But I’m closer than I was a year ago.

Don’t Underestimate the Need for a Mentor

It doesn’t matter what rung on the ladder you are currently on, you are never too smart to need a mentor. One thing I’ve learned from my own journey is that we can’t possibly know everything. I’ve been so fortunate to have been able to learn from some really amazing people… mostly women, who have opened up their minds and hearts to me. You’ll never know the answer if you don’t ask the question. Of course, there will always be people who keep their secrets close to the vest, but most of the people I’ve met have been very generous in sharing what they know, how they got where they are, and what mistakes they made along the way. Believe it or not, I haven’t come across one person who hasn’t made some huge mistake in business… and learned from it. Mistakes make us stronger… and they also teach us that maybe we need to change our direction. If something isn’t working… do something different! It’s okay to change your direction or your focus. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s not. Many of the most successful people I know were doing something different just months ago. Lives are ever-evolving, we need to not beat ourselves up if something isn’t working.

If you are still sitting on that big dream and can’t shake it out of your head, find one person who can be your cheerleader. It only takes one person to listen and spark and idea… or a direction… or a contact… that can help you take that first step.

It’s not WHAT you know, it’s WHO you know!

Of course you have to be knowledgeable, but it’s pretty easy to learn the things you don’t know yet. What isn’t so easy is making those contacts that can truly help move you forward. Usually, we know more people who can help us than we think we know. Today, more than ever, we have the world at our fingertips. Theoretically, we have access to everyone on the planet via the internet. We just need to put ourselves out there. Start a LinkedIn profile and join groups targeted to the area you are interested in. There are thousands upon thousands of Facebook groups who do nothing but talk shop on a daily basis. Jump right in… ask questions. Make friends. Go to local meetings. STEP OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE! You need to meet people who do what you want to do and can help you get there as well.

Inspired yet? I am moving in the direction of my dreams… I want you to do the same. It will change your life. Really!

If you are struggling with where to start or are scared to put that first foot forward, feel free to shoot me an email. Let me be your cheerleader.


Get Ready to #CrushHalloween at Lombardi Ranch

This post has been sponsored by Crush Soda. All opinions are my own.




We’ve got some serious Halloween lovers in our family. For us it goes beyond the trick-or-treating and we’re all about becoming immersed in the sheer fun of the holiday. Last year we spent months planning and purchasing supplies to turn our house into a Pirate Ship. Yes… I said PIRATE SHIP! This year we aren’t tackling such a huge project, but we do have some spookiness up our sleeves. We’re thinking more along the lines of creepy crawly things and giant spiders and all those nasty bugs that you fear are crawling under your covers.

Truth be told, we kind of like to #CrushHalloween. This year, Crush Soda has teamed up with Harry, the not-so-scary Scarecrow, and the adorable YouTube kids from KittiesMama to help create a family-fun Halloween experience.

Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 8.01.14 PM

I’m still trying to figure out my costume, but the kids all know what they are going to be. In fact… I’m pretty sure my weekend will consist of hand making an Anna dress. Why don’t my kids want those store-bought costumes that everyone else has? No… MY kids want me to hand make everything. Sheesh! But when I’m not trying to remember how to use my sewing machine, we’ll be heading over to Lombardi Ranch to purchase our pumpkins.

Lombardi Ranch has been a tradition for us since Temera was born. In fact, every year, our entire Kindergarten takes a field trip to pick out pumpkins there. If you are from Santa Clarita, you know how special Lombardi Ranch is. And if you aren’t from here… take a drive up and spend the day. There are hay rides and a petting zoo and a train and pumpkins of every size and color… and an incredible farm stand.

On October 23rd & 24th, Lombardi Ranch is having a special #CrushHalloween event happening from 10am – 5pm. If you don’t have your pumpkins yet… what are you waiting for? Halloween is NEXT WEEK!!!!

Lombardi Ranch is located at 29527 Bouquet Canyon Road, Santa Clarita 91390. If you are planning on attending the #CrushHalloween event, let me know and I’ll try and head over to say Hi. Seriously… it’s practically right down the street from me.



And… we’d love for you to join the #CrushHalloween Twitter Party on October 28th and 3:00pm EST (12:00pm PST). There will be awesome prizes ($100 Visa Gift Cards and Halloween Fun Kits). RSVP and use the hashtag #CrushHalloween to be eligible for prizes.

So tell me… are you ready for Halloween? We’ll be putting the finishing touches on our costumes and decorations this weekend, and then all that’s left to do will be to buy the candy. Shhhh…. I always buy the candy I like so that if there are any extras, I get to hide them from the kids and eat them myself. What? Like you’ve never done that before?


Harry the Scarecrow on Crush Facebook
Check out more family-friendly Halloween fun at facebook.com/crushsoda

A Day in the Life – Instagram Style


I’m here to warn you…

Starting when I wake up tomorrow, I’ll be participating in the ONE day project on Instagram. Bloggers and social media influencers all over the web will be capturing their entire day in photographs posted to Instagram. It’s a great way to get to know each other and answer the question, “What on earth do you do all day?”

If you want to follow along with me and see what a day in the life of ME is like, my Instagram handle is CarolynRWest. My twitter handle is the same @CarolynRWest and make sure you follow me on Facebook as well.

Want to participate yourself? Leave me a comment and let me know so I can follow you and we can compare our days. Make sure to use the hashtag #OneDayHH. All the details can be found over at Hollywood Housewife.

This could get ugly, or boring, or something really fabulous might happen. I have no idea what my day will be like, other than having a morning school board meeting. Let’s see how much trouble I can get into.

Gaviña – The Family Owned Coffee Roaster Behind that Awesome McDonald’s Coffee

Thank you McDonald’s for arranging this special tour of Gavina.


I love a good story. Almost as much as I love a good cup of coffee.

Once upon a time there was a man who had a coffee farm in Cuba. He emigrated to the U.S. with his family and settled in Southern California. Luckily, he was able to do what he loved… take his experience and establish a successful coffee roasting business in Los Angeles. From generation to generation, the business remained in the family, growing and prospering and producing such high quality coffee that one day, McDonald’s came knocking.

Okay, maybe it wasn’t a knock on the door, but with a few introductions between business owners, Gaviña Coffee Roasters became one of 4 national suppliers of coffee to McDonalds. All with just a handshake. Because that’s how you do business between honorable people. And wow… have you had a cup of McD’s coffee lately? That’s some good stuff!

Several weeks ago I had the opportunity to tour the Gaviña factory. I’ve never been to a coffee roaster before and I certainly had no idea of the intricacies involved in making sure the coffee we drink is the finest it can be. This was a great learning experience for one who drinks coffee every day. It all starts with the tree.


It takes beans from an entire coffee tree to produce one bag of coffee that you purchase in a store. The beans, similar to wine grapes, have different properties depending on where they are grown. Weather, the soil and other factors all come into play. McDonalds has pretty high standards, and in fact, requires their suppliers to meet the highest level of roasting standards in the business. It starts with the finest Arabica beans that can be sourced.


All coffee beans are not picked at once. The trees are gone over 2 or 3 times so the coffee growers can make sure each bean is picked at the exact right time. Coffee beans are one of the last crops that is still picked by hand. It is a labor of love for the coffee growers.

Once the beans are picked, they are packed in sacks and exported to countries around the world. There is something pretty cool about seeing a warehouse full of coffee beans.


Once the coffee arrives here, the real fun begins. A percentage of every single bag of coffee is inspected for defects. Any shipment that isn’t up to standards is discarded. But Gaviña doesn’t waste anything. Beans that aren’t used in their products are earmarked for other purposes. Once the beans are approved, it’s time for the experts to give them a taste test.

Have you heard of cupping? It’s this amazing process where only some of the beans are roasted and then brewed individually by professional coffee tasters. I know… sounds like a job right up my alley. The process of cupping is pretty incredible… and very ritualistic. If you have ever seen a Chinese or Japanese tea ceremony, it’s very similar.


With a selection of coffee grounds in front of us, boiling water is added and the coffee is mixed with a spoon until a foam forms on top of the cup. That foam is then scooped off carefully and what is underneath is what you will sip. Or slurp. Or do that thing that makes a lot of noise. Yep.. you don’t actually drink when you are cupping. You take your spoon, fill it with coffee… and slurp! Loud! It’s the way that you really get all the flavor to surround your taste buds. But wait… DON’T SWALLOW! Like a fine wine tasting, you actually spit out the coffee. Just let your taste buds savor the flavors. There is a LOT to taste in coffee… most flavors we have no idea about because we tend to add so much sugar and flavored creamer to our cups. An expert knows what to look for. For me… I just enjoyed learning how many different varieties of coffee beans there were. It’s definitely a science.


The Gaviña tour was an amazing experience… and I have a whole new appreciation for coffee. I want to thank the Gaviña family for their hospitality. It truly is a family business… and one that I’m proud to support.

GOOD NEWS! McDonalds is FINALLY bringing their coffee into our homes. In 2015, in partnership with Kraft Foods, you will be able to brew McDonald’s brand coffee at home!