Books Worth Reading: Sustainability Made Simple

A little while back I was offered a courtesy copy of the book Sustainability Made Simple by Rosaly Byrd and Lauren Demates (March 16, 2017 ISBN: 978-1-4422-6909-5 hardcover $36.00; Rowman & Littlefield). If you have been reading me for some time now you know I am all about sustainability, green living and healthy lifestyles (with a few indulgences now and then, because life is too short)

So I obviously jumped in delight when I heard about this book! Anything that can make my life simple, green and chemical free is always welcomed. However I try to stay critical and real with my choices. This book is perfect for anyone starting the sustainable living journey.


What I love the most about this book is how practical it is. All of the tips and suggestions are easy enough for the average person to follow. It introduces the readers to a world in which sustainable living is not only possible but achievable. In this day and age in which in some parts of the world the impact to the environment is being ridiculed, it is important to keep informed. Know how to separate fact from opinion and make your own judgement. Remember we have only ONE planet, and it is our responsibility to sustain life in it, not only for us but for generations to follow.

Small changes can make a big difference. If we all act united and together small changes become big changes in the long run. For example, Rosaly Byrd and Lauren Demates, offer small and simple little steps such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator, and to carry reusable cups and water bottles instead of contributing to plastic pollution. Same goes to reusable non-plastic bags for your grocery shopping trips – hemp bags are a brilliant alternative.

Eco-Lunchbox BPA free and reusable


The book is conveniently divided in sections, from household shores to travelling tips that cover all your sustainabe living needs. Best part? It is kid friendly, there are many activities in there you can do with your whole family and kids. Make concious consumers from an early age and you will change the world.

This educational and engaging book is perfect for someone who has heard the term sustainability and is interested in learning what it’s all about, the novice environmentalist looking for new ways to improve their impact, or anyone in between. Case studies and tables highlight interesting information and trends, and an extensive bibliography provides further reading for those who want to learn more about the world of sustainability.



About the Authors:

Rosaly Byrd is the co-founder and author of the blog The Sustainability Co-Op that works to engage readers on global environmental issues. She also writes as a freelance blogger for the Huffington Post. Rosaly has lived in Haiti and Brazil, working on environmental policy and sustainable development for the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and UN Development Programme (UNDP). Rosaly holds a Master’s degree in International Affairs with a focus on international environmental policy from University of California, San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy, and a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts from Florida Atlantic University Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College in Jupiter, Florida.

Laurèn DeMates is a sustainability professional committed to improving the environmental impact of government, corporations, and individuals. Her work has included applying behavioral and social science-based strategies to increase energy efficiency in the federal government and assisting companies collect and analyze corporate social responsibility metrics. Laurèn is a LEED Green Associate and a co-founder of The Sustainability Co-Op blog. She graduated from the University of California, San Diego with a Master’s degree in International Affairs, and from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo with a Bachelor of Science degree in Social Sciences.


OnixJ Book Release:: Find it, Read it, Keep it! #OnixJBooks

It’s December 1st! whoa, can you believe how fast 2016 went by? Big year, huh? Glad is over hopefully 2017 will come in with a lighter vibe and with some good advances in humanity. *wishful thinking*

Books make me happy 🙂

So in the spirit of giving back, I have decided to release 10 books from my personal collection! I will be giving away some of these books by letting them free for anyone to grab at different locations around Houston! Montrose area at the University of St.Thomas campus will be my starting point. Other books will be left at different coffee shops around Montrose.

Books to be released, Au Revoir!
1. Kissing the Virgin’s Mouth, by Donna M. Gersten
2. Moriarty, Sherlock Holmes Nemesis Lives Again, by John Gardner
3. Wrecked, by Charlotte Roche
4. The Solitude of Primer Numbers by Pablo Giordano
5. Prague, by Arthur Phillips
6. Uncage me, by Jen Jordan
7. The Keys of Egypt by Lesley & Roy Adkins
8. The Dante Club, by Matthew Pearl
9. Sea Glass, by Maria V Snyder
10. The Birth of Venus, by Sarah Dunant

I will tweet locations once I drop the books, sometime next week (December 5th) Join me on social media! Follow me on Snapchat and Twitter while I drop books around Houston, and feel free to join the fun!
Tweet: It’s Xmas time! @onixjihane is releasing books around the city! find them, read them, keep them! #OnixJBooks

If you find a book please post a picture and use #OnixJBooks, tag me if you want too @onixjihane (twitter/Instagram)

Happy reading!



Plant-Based Diet Made Easy! with Micaela Cook Karlsen’s Book

If you follow my blogging rambles, you probably know we are mostly vegetarian (my son and I) – and I say mostly because we still eat some dairy (yogurt, cheese) and the occasional chicken as well as fish and seafood. However, we do embrace the plant base life as much as we can. Our diet is 75% plant-based at the moment, and it consists of much more than only salads.

Spinach and Puffed Quinoa on Toast, and Jasmine Tea ❤

Last week my son traveled to L.A with my parents, so I decided, since I was child-free and living the crazy life (right?) to do a whole 100% plant based week diet last week. That meant no dairy! I equipped myself with a variety of vegetables, cereals, and legumes and I started my plant-based week.

Why? well, I was inspired by the book “A Plant-Based Life” by Micaela Cook Karlsen, which I received a few weeks ago and which is now on sale for you to grab. The book, unlike many others, offers way more than just recipes. It offers a comprehensive and detailed list of things to consider when going plant-based.


Micaela, a doctoral candidate in nutritional epidemiology has crafted a book easy enough to understand so all you need is the will and the desire to learn more about the plant-based diet.

“Going plant-based doesn’t mean you have to give up meat and chicken totally,” she says ” but if you make fruits and vegetables the main part of the meal and use meat to support the many, you’ll be well on your way to switching to a mare plant-based diet”

Micaela recommends you start by finding your motivating force, what is it that motivates you about a plant-based diet? some people have personal goals such a healthier lifestyle, others have environmental and ethical goals such as to end animal cruelty. So whatever your reason is embrace it! Micaela then guides you through the process of adding little by little more and more plant-like elements to your daily eating habits. Then she provides a nice long list of recipes and food variations for you to try.


“When you build your meals primarily with plant foods, you fill your body with fiber, vitamins, minerals and healthy fats and a host of needed chemicals and nutrients that most people simply don’t get enough of,” Karlsen says.

I loved the amount of information in the book because it helps me understand the nutrients I get from food, and it also gives me ammunition against anyone who comes along with the eternal question “But, where do you get your protein if you don’t eat meat” – Oh the joys!

My plant based week included:

Drinks: coconut milk for my tea, green tea, jasmine tea and lots of water.

Meals: eggplant parmigiana, beef-less beef (tofu based) sauce and veggie pasta, spinach and quinoa on toast, salads, carrot and coconut soup, cauliflower au gratin*, potato-leek soup*, homemade rice cakes, oatmeal, veggie bowl (from Chipotle) and vegetable sushi (from HEB)

Snacks: fresh fruit, nuts, bliss balls (dates, pistachios, dried cranberries and quinoa)

* recipe in the book. 

I loved my plant-based week! and I am looking forward to continuing to develop the healthy eating habits needed to sustain a long term diet change. If you want to start and don’t know how I strongly recommend “A Plant-Based Life”. Eating healthy doesn’t have to be boring or restrictive. With some organization it is possible!

TIP: if you run a busy life and don’t have much time to cook through the week, consider prepping all your food on a Sunday. It makes life much easier.


Environmental facts to consider:

Meat, fish and dairy products have the heaviest environmental footprint of all food groups due to their effect on greenhouse gas emissions, water, and land use. Avoiding them or reducing their intake significantly makes a sustainable future possible for the whole world.

A free copy of this book was provided for reviewing purposes . Opinions are my own 

Consult your doctor before you make a significant diet change in your life. 

Listen: Five Simple Tools to Meet Your Everyday Parenting Challenges by Patty Wipfler

A little way back I came across a book by Patty Wipfler, called Listen: Five Simple Tools to Meet Your Everyday Parenting Challenges. Being a “single mom”  (yes, I remarried recently but my son is my parental duty and sole responsibility and he will always be) I always worry about being able to give him the tools for him to become a well-rounded adult. Parenting is not easy, even less so when done by only one parent, I always joke how babies don’t come with manuals and how it would be much easier if they did.


Anyway, I will review the book at a later date but for now, I want to leave you with this guest post that Patty has prepared for all of you.

What Are the Five Simple Tools You Need
to Meet Your Everyday Parenting Challenges?

By Patty Wipfler, Hand in Hand Parenting

Listen: Five Simple Tools to Meet Your Everyday Parenting Challenges.  Copyright © Hand in Hand Parenting, 2016

Each of the five Hand in Hand Listening Tools plays an important role in building wellbeing for your family. The tools work together to connect you and your children. And your child’s developing mind needs a close sense of connection with you as surely as she needs food, shelter, cleanliness, and sleep.

Special Time is a simple way to pour love and attention into your child. You set aside one-on-one time, and let your child choose what the two of you will do. She will use this time to show you what’s important to her and reveal her struggles. Special Time lets your child feel seen. It deepens her trust in you, while giving you a window into her thinking. It builds the sense of safety that promotes cooperation. Special Time can help connect you and your child from her earliest years through her adolescence, young adulthood, and beyond. It’s almost always the first Listening Tool to reach for when you’re thinking, “I don’t know what to do with this kid!”

Staylistening transmits your caring while your child feels hurt or afraid, and is expressing intense feelings. She pours out the hurt she feels; you listen, and pour in your quiet confidence that she’ll recover. You protect her while she feels alone and undone. Listening to your child’s upset doesn’t mean approving of her feelings; it’s your way of bathing her in your caring during her toughest moments. As her feelings pour out, an emotional burden will lift, and she’ll be left with the deep imprint of your love and support in its place. Both you and she will learn that feelings of hurt will heal when someone listens and cares. Because most of us were not listened to in this way, Staylistening can be challenging for a parent. But this tool has the power to lift your child’s spirits and transform bothersome behavior.

Setting Limits is crucial in your work as a parent. Your child needs and deserves a limit the minute her behavior starts to veer off track. A good limit gives your child the chance to offload the emotional tension that clouds her behavior, so she can return to the fun of learning and enjoying those around her. We’ll help you recognize the early warning signals your child sends out, and show you how to set limits without harshness. There are even ways to bring a limit that will fill your child with laughter.

Playlistening is the art of eliciting laughter in play with your child, without tickling. A heartwarming, creative tool, it will strengthen your connection as you make time for fun and enjoyment. Laughter is a powerful antidote to stress. Your child’s confidence will build as you learn to instigate playful role reversal and games full of friendly challenge and affection. Laughter will foster warmth in your family.

Finally, the Listening Partnership gives you a way to replenish your energy for parenting. An exchange of listening time with another parent can help you shed the stress that crops up when you live with young children. A Listening Partnership also gives you a haven for learning. You get a safe, private place to unfold your thoughts and feelings. How do you want your parenting to be different from the way you were raised? What gifts from your parents do you want to pass on? When you find yourself struggling with your child over a particular issue, how does your own past experience come into play? You’ll also have the privilege of listening to another parent as they think, feel, and learn. You won’t exchange advice, but you’ll learn from one another every time you meet. As you listen and are listened to, you’ll find it easier to enjoy your children, and to connect warmly with them during their troubled moments.

So there you have it!

Each tool is powerful in its own right, but no one tool is meant to be used alone. Setting limits—your use of parental power—is tempered with Special Time, which puts your child in the driver’s seat for short chunks of time. Playlistening, the lighthearted side of parent-child interactions, helps to balance out the full-throated drama your child goes through as you Staylisten. Your Listening Partnership is a vital learning laboratory, as well as your sanctuary. There, you are respected and understood. Your every feeling is welcome, every experience is of interest, and every thought, an important one.

With these five Hand in Hand Listening Tools, you can fully express your deep love for your kids and strengthen your family life. Enjoy!

Patty Bio Pic

By Patty Wipfler and Tosha Schore the authors of
Listen: Five Simple Tools to Meet Your Everyday Parenting Challenges.

To learn more about this unique approach to relationships in the family and get your own copy of Listen, click here.


The Spinfords : Different is Beautiful

In a world so focused on our differences, this book makes perfect sense. Between school stress, peer pressure, family dynamics and a list of other “worries” today’s kids deal with more anxiety than ever before.

We live in a world,  in which the access to social media has given us all the power to judge, to criticize, to give our opinion, and to hide behind screens and faces. We jump into conclusions and judgments so fast and precariously, many times in front of our kids without even noticing. They notice, though.


“The challenge, especially during the formative years of childhood, is teaching kids that what makes them different is exactly what they should celebrate, not hide”

Ann Marie, the author of the beautifully written children’s book The Spinfords, tells a story that in a simple yet magical way explains to both kids and parents how differences make us unique. It doesn’t matter if you are tall or short, white or black, girl or boy. It doesn’t really matter if you do things in a different way. What it matters are your pure and true intentions. What matters is who you are in essence, inside and out. We are all beings who want to be loved and accepted and appreciated. Let love conquer all.


This book speaks volumes to me. Not only am I the sister of a child with disabilities, but I am also very passionate about equality. My brother has encountered a significant amount of judgemental people in this world, but he has also encountered people willing and able to treat him like any other human being regardless of his disabilities. Growing up, my mom had to take him out of “regular” school once because she was told that they didn’t have time for “kids like him” – My brother is 27 years old now. He is bilingual, he is a functional member of society. Yes, he is has some challenges being deaf and with Aspergers but that doesn’t make him less of a person.

My son is also different. I mean how many vegetarian, compassionate 10-year-old do you encounter every day? Probably not that many. I don’t think this quality is unique to him, but it does make him different when at parties he doesn’t want that hotdog or that pepperoni on his pizza.


The Spinfords teaches:

  • Different is beautiful
  • People can surprise you
  • Moms and dads aren’t perfect
  • Anything is possible
  • Never be afraid to be 100% yourself

“Each spiderweb is uniquely woven, each individual does things in their own time and way” Ann Marie Martin

The book is also beautifully illustrated by Steve Hannigan . Hannigan a freelance graphic designer has volunteered for The Trevor Project, an LGBTQ+ youth suicide prevention organization, and seen from a very close distance how difficult it can be for our youth to deal and accept being different.

BE different. BE you. BE unique.



Word of the Day: Motivation

Let’s start by defining and understanding the nature of motivation:
Noun. The reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way.
synonyms: motive, motivating force, incentive, stimulus, stimulation, inspiration, inducement, incitement, spur, reason;
the general desire or willingness of someone to do something.

Lately, seen an increase in the amount of many life coaches, motivational speakers, and life architects.

“A motivational speaker or inspirational speaker is a speaker who makes speeches intended to motivate or inspire an audience.”

I have been to a few conferences and I have been in touch with some motivational speakers which without a doubt are wonderful people. They are above all people with charisma and a compassionate personality, they are people with a story to tell, and never afraid of telling it. But I have never been too keen on motivational speech nor keen on motivational books, and don’t take me wrong, I LOVE reading, I just don’t seem to click with these type of books. To me all the tools to be successful lay within ourselves, and I have been “blessed” (not keen on the overuse of that words nowadays either) with the inner capacity to harvest my own motivation without the need of a boost from external forces. Therefore, I am fascinated by the underlying psychological and social reasons that explain why humanity finds these tools (books and speeches previously mentioned) so powerful. But which reasons are those? does it take a certain type of personality? or perhaps it has to do with confidence and culture? Does it take a certain type of upbringing?

It makes me wonder if there is perhaps a personality trait that makes me find both motivational speeches and self-help books unnecessary? In Latin America, everyone likes author Paulo Cohelo. Coelho is a Brazilian lyricist and novelist. He is the recipient of numerous international awards, amongst them the Crystal Award by the World Economic Forum. The Alchemist, his most famous novel, has been translated into 80 languages. He is well known for his motivational and inspirational novels/stories… I have read two of his books the first one when I was around 18 years old, and I didn’t like it. The second one as a young adult about 10 years later and I still don’t like him. Simply not my cup of tea.

“When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” Cohelo.

I find motivation in every morning that I wake up to, rain or shine. I find it in the walks I take through the parks and forests among the greenery and the soft yet vibrant colors of the earth. I find it in meeting people and learning their stories of life and survival. I find it easy, and perhaps that is my human “super power”. We often get caught up in the routine, and we forget about the brilliant colors that surround us. Perhaps we grow up and we forget about the simplicity of life and we get lost in bills and sorrows… we forget to live plentifully, and in that we lose our motivation?

Recently someone asked me “what do I expect from a business community? is it motivation or knowledge that you seek?” To me, the answer is always knowledge. Give me knowledge, educate me, teach me how to do things and that itself will keep me going forward. But for other people the daily “You can do this!” is needed in order to drive toward their goals. And you know what? both perspectives are OK, but just keep in mind that not everyone needs a motivational boost every day. Also as business owners, as managers, as heads of the family is is important we know out staff, our customers, our friends, and family. Know what makes each one of them grow and flourish. Knowing the people near us gives us the power to empower, and that my friends, that is motivation by itself.


H.E.B Books for the Little Ones


Just a quick post to share my recent discovery with all mothers out there. I found this and many other cute little books at H.E.B supermarkets, Houston, Texas. The books are only $1.00 each, they are beautifully made with colorful illustrations, glossy pages and engaging little stories. The perfect treat for those little boys and girls beginning to read.
I purchased “Bunny Loves to Read” for my 7 year old and he really enjoyed the story.
Perhaps this Easter swap some if the candy for a few of these books!
That’s all for now…



Book Review: Fifty Shades of Grey

So, if you are a woman and you haven’t heard about this book, something is terribly wrong. Ok maybe not but almost everyone has heard of “Fifty Shades of Grey” by E.L James by now. The controversial book has been banned from public libraries across the nation for its explicit content. So, I being the little rebel that I am, decided to read the book as soon as I heard the word BANNED. In a recent conversation someone described the book as “an orgasm in every page”… I wouldn’t go as far as to say in every page but there are certainly a lot of orgasms in this novel; each one of them explained with unshakable detail.

Fifty Shades of Grey is extremely erotic and explicit in nature and should not be read by the faint hearted. It seems to be directed to women as the story is narrated from the female’s point of view and it idolizes the male character, very much a like “Twiglight” does, minus the supernatural element. Puritans and extreme religious people who cannot handle hotness served on an ink platter should abstain from reading this book. Other more adventurous people please join in and let the sensual, pseudo porn literature begin.

Fifty shades of Grey offers a way to explore into the dark side of psychologically disturbed sex yet it comes (no pun intended) with a few hints of sweetness and devotion. The male character is disturbed without a doubt and it becomes an obsession for the reader to find out more and more of his past. The male character is intoxicating, charming and controlling and in his imperfection lays perfection only possible in novels and books alike. The heavy sexual content doesn’t start until chapter eight or so and it continues in a roller coaster motion towards the end to the book. To be honest it gets a bit too much at times or perhaps I simply don’t have what it takes to sustain hard core (errm no pun indented, again) quantities of erotic activity in a row. Perhaps there is some supernatural in the book after all – as it is to me a mystery how these two never cease their thirst for each other and go on, and on and on… moans included. I am afraid some women will look at their partner with disappointment (or perhaps with relief) after they read E.L James’s book and consequently the Fifty Shades trilogy. ( Oh yes! A threesome… I mean, three books of Mr Gray and Miss Steele’s saucy encounters)

Nevertheless I have some issues with the writing style. The book is amateurish and repetitive and it has an overly elaborated vocabulary (at times). It seems like the author sat with a GRE vocab book while writing this story; real people simply don’t express themselves as the two main characters of this book do. I get it, it makes it seem more sophisticated, mysterious even, and it brings out the whole dominant v submissive vibe out and into perspective. Yet I found it annoying at times even if I did understand the words because incidentally I studied for the GRE not long ago. It is by no means a “great book” in terms of content nor quality, yet sex sells and this is an exquisite example of that.

So as a summary, what to expect from Fifty Shades of Grey? Explicit sexual and psychologically disturbed sex combined with moments of bi-polarity mixed in a semi-romantic story full of ups and downs. Mystery and over pomposity. Desire and lust. Gallantry and corrupted innocence. Charm and foul language. Gags, orgasms, moans and an array of “firsts” (you will understand the latter after you read the book) Fifty Shades of Grey is an addictive story and I promise you won’t be able to put the book down until the last page, wanting for more… Fifty Shades Darker. Unless you can’t take it, and instead run to the hills after you reach chapter eight and never come back to it again.

Either way I’ll say it’s worth it, it keeps you entertained but you have been warned.

I shall come back with a review for Fifty Shades Darker in the next few weeks..



May is Latino Book Month

May is Latino Book Month and since I love books so much this was the perfect chance for me to learn about new Latino Books in the market and re-learn from old Latino classics. I mean hey the words Latino and books make me think of reading while zipping on a cold margarita, I don’t know you… and no, I am not stereotyping because I am too, Latina.

But who doesn’t like reading and margaritas?

(If you don’t, you are reading the wrong post…)

Anyway as a young reader I remember embracing my passion for arts and literature reading books. Among my favourites Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Cien años de soledad (One Hundred years of Solitude) one of the best written novels of all time (Spanish) and Amor en tiempos de colera (Love in times of Cholera) an impossible love story in a deep colonial era, in which taboos and social clase where core elements of the daily life. Love in times of Cholera also has a movie starting Javier Bardem (2007) which is exquisitely made, keeping colonial South America intact and at its best; La Casa de los espiritus (The House of the Spirits) y Como agua para cholocate (Like Water for Chocolate) from Isabel Allende which also has a movie. My old time favourite and winner of the Alfaragua prize in 1999 A Son de Mar (Sound of the Sea) an erotic drama of an eternal and salty love by Chilean writer Manuel Vincent. For poets, Pablo Neruda, Chilean poet and his book Veinte Poemas de Amor y una cancion desesperada ( Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Dispair) is a must have. A classic of mesmerizing quality and detail.

Did you know? ** According to online sources: “The Italian film Il Postino, inspired by Antonio Skármeta‘s 1985 novel Ardiente Paciencia (Ardent Patience, later known as El cartero de Neruda, or Neruda’s Postman), centres on the story of Pablo Neruda (Philippe Noiret) living in exile on Salina Island near Sicily during the 1950s. While there, he befriends the local postman and inspires in him a love of poetry.” **

In later years I discovered writer Carlos Ruiz Zafon. Fair enough he is not Latino as he is from Spain, but since his books are written in Spanish it is worth a mention due to the astonishing quality of his work. He famously describes “old” Barcelona in amazing detail and warmth; a Barcelona of mysteries and dark passages that open a whole new world into the undiscovered. His books include El príncipe de la niebla (The Prince of Mist, 1993), earned the Edebé literary prize for young adult fiction. El palacio de la medianoche (1994), Las luces de septiembre (1995) and Marina (1999) all Young Adult (YA) genre. Maquiavelic and dark Carlos transports you into his inner darkest thoughts with these books.

La sombra del viento (The Shadow of the Wind),  his first “adult” novel, established him as a serious author winning many international awards and breaking record sales in the UK and placing him as one of the most successful contemporary Spanish writers.  El juego del angel  (The Angel’s Game)2008. It is a prequel to The Shadow of the Wind, also set in Barcelona, but during the 1920s and 1930s.

Last but not least I recommend La catedral del mar 2006 by Spanish writer Ildefonso Falcones. Also concentrates on the Barcelona from the XIV Century in which aristocracy and poverty mix with history and story.

So next time you are at the book store of just browsing around your Nook© why not give Latino Books a chance. Latino’s eternal fire and passion are the staple not only of our culture by our way of living. These books have that essence from beginning to end.

Come on! Get that margarita and read. It’s Latino Book’s Month. for more books and reviews