NEPA BlogCon Announces Blog of the Year Award Winners

nepaNEPA BlogCon is proud to announce its winners of the 2016 Blog of the Year Awards! Nominated by and voted on by members of the greater Northeastern Pennsylvania community, these award-winning bloggers, podcasters, and vloggers represent the growing community of digital influencers and communicators in our region.
Blog of the Year Award certificates will be awarded this coming Saturday at NEPA BlogCon, the region’s first blogging and social media conference, now entering its 5th year.
Also, as members of the press, we’d love to invite you to this year’s NEPA BlogCon on Saturday, October 15 at Penn State Worthington-Scranton. If you’re interested in attending with a press pass, please let me know and we’ll get you set up!
Any support you can give us in helping us spread the word is very much appreciated.
Thank you for your time and consideration!


NEPA BlogCon Announces Blog of the Year Winners

NEPA BlogCon is excited to announce winners of the 2016 Blog of the Year Awards. Winners of 13 categories including favorite blogs, vlogs, and podcasts will be awarded with the coveted Blog of the Year title for their respective category, at NEPA BlogCon.

Celebrating its 5th anniversary, NEPA BlogCon will be held Saturday, October 15, 2016 at Penn State Worthington Scranton.

Winners of NEPA BlogCon 2016 Blog of the Year Awards are:

Best Sports Blog

Pens Fans 4Ever

Best Tech Blog

NEPA Geeks

Best Life Blog

Maloney of NEPA

Best Food or Beverage Blog

It is a Keeper

Best Hobby, Activity or Special Interest Blog

Mysterious Writings

Best Travel Blog

Uncovering PA

Best Fitness or Health & Wellness Blog

Physical Therapy Associates of NEPA

Best Beauty or Fashion Blog

Keep Calm & Chiffon

Best News or Political Blog

Andy Palumbo

Best Music, Arts or Entertainment Blog

NEPA Scene

Best Business Blog

Indraloka Animal Sanctuary

Best Video / Vlog

My Beer Buzz

Best Podcast

The NEPA Wingmen Podcast

NEPA BlogCon is designed to bring together bloggers of all experience levels, as well as those interested in marketing, social media, creativity, leadership, technology, and branding. Professional communicators, small business owners, non-profit organizations and students alike are welcome to attend – and do!

Tickets are available for $15 at and include admission to the day long conference and expo, SWAG, and lunch refreshments.


Thanks to the support of sponsors and partners like TecBridge, Penn State Worthington Scranton, WNEP-16, Net Driven, and others, NEPA BlogCon is able to offer its event at a low cost to the community.

Mandy Pennington, Co-Founder, NEPA BlogCon


Health & Wellness Adaptogens: Nature’s Miracle Anti-stress and Fatigue Fighters


Stress and fatigue. Judging from the proliferation of coffee and cupcake shops popping up these days, clearly caffeine and sugar are what a lot of folks are using to try to fight back. The problem is, they don’t actually work. Sugar and caffeine do offer a quick lift, but the crash is never far behind – so it’s back to Starbucks to start the cycle again, turning your day into a rollercoaster ride of highs and lows. Fortunately, there are healthier ways to get through the day – and one of my favorites is with “adaptogens,” the special herbs that help your body adapt to stress and resist fatigue. Here’s my adaptogens-at-a-glance guide:


Adaptogens are a unique group of herbal ingredients used to improve the health of your adrenal system, the system that’s in charge of managing your body’s hormonal response to stress. They help strengthen the body’s response to stress and enhance its ability to cope with anxiety and fight fatigue – slowly and gently, without jolts or crashes. They’re called adaptogens because of their unique ability to “adapt” their function according to your body’s specific needs. Though the effects may initially be subtle and take time to make themselves felt, they’re real and undeniable.

Where have they been all my life?

Unlike big pharma drugs, adaptogens weren’t born yesterday. In fact, they’ve been used in Chinese and Indian Ayurvedic medicine for centuries, to boost energy and resilience in the face of stress. Recently, several studies have found evidence to support what those of us in the sustainable wellness field already knew – that adaptogens offer positive benefits —and are safe for long-term use. (Take that big pharma!)

How do adaptogens work?

Adaptogens work a bit like a thermostat. When the thermostat senses that the room temperature is too high it brings it down; when the temperature is too low it brings it up. Adaptogens can calm you down and boost your energy at the same time without over stimulating. They can normalize body imbalances. By supporting adrenal function, they counteract the adverse effects of stress.  They enable the body’s cells to access more energy; help cells eliminate toxic byproducts of the metabolic process and help the body to utilize oxygen more efficiently. In short, adaptogens are amazing!

Which adaptogens should I use?

I prefer combination adaptogenic herb formulas and the adaptogen herbs I consider most important include Asian Ginseng, Eleuthero, Ashwaghanda and Rhodiola Rosea. Depending on your needs and physical condition – consult your doctor before taking any herbs and see cautions below – you can take these adaptogens individually or in a combination formula like my Be Well Adaptogens. When buying a formula, look for one that has at least 3 of the above adaptogens and make sure it has some Rhodiola in it. Again, remember consult your doctor first to get the all clear before you start.

Asian Ginseng

For thousands of years, Asian Ginseng has been one of the most valued (and expensive) medicinal plants in the world. It’s believed to affect the body by influencing metabolism within individual cells, and it has been studied extensively for its ability to help the body withstand stress. Western herbalists say that it restores and strengthens the body’s immune response, promotes longevity, and enhances the growth of normal cells. Research indicates that it promotes a sense of well-being and may protect against some kinds of cancer.

Dose: 100-200 mg per day of a standardized extract. Most standardized ginseng extracts supply approximately 4-7% ginsenosides. Or 1-2 grams per day of the dried, powdered root, usually taken in gelatin capsules.

Caution: At the recommended dose, ginseng is generally safe. Occasionally it may cause agitation, palpitations or insomnia. Consuming large amounts of caffeine with large amounts of ginseng may increase the risk of over-stimulation and gastrointestinal upset. If you have high blood pressure, your blood pressure should be monitored when taking it.  Ginseng is not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women.


Eleuthero is used in traditional Chinese medicine for muscle spasms, joint pain, insomnia, and fatigue. In Germany, its use is approved for chronic fatigue syndrome, impaired concentration, and convalescing after illness. Western herbalists note that it improves memory, feelings of well-being and can lift mild depression.

Dose: 2-3 grams per day of the dried root.

Caution: As with Asian ginseng, Eleuthero is generally safe. But occasionally it has been associated with agitation, palpitations or insomnia in patients with cardiovascular disorders. If you have high blood pressure, your blood pressure should be monitored when taking it. I generally don’t recommend it for pregnant or breastfeeding women, even though limited research hasn’t turned up evidence of harmful effects in the fetus.


Ashwagandha has been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine. Like Asian ginseng, ashwagandha is used to help increase vitality, energy, endurance and stamina, promote longevity, and strengthen the immune system. Today, herbalists often recommend it for people with high blood pressure, insomnia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and impotence associated with anxiety or exhaustion. It enhances endocrine function, especially the thyroid and adrenals. Ayurvedic healers have long prescribed the herb to treat exhaustion brought on by both physical and mental strain.

Dose: 3–6 grams per day of the dried root

Caution: Avoid during pregnancy or if you are taking sedatives or if you have severe gastric irritation or ulcers. Also people who are sensitive to the nightshade group of plants should be careful.

Rhodiola Rosea

Rhodiola rosea acts like a hormone thermostat, especially as it pertains to cortisol, one of our main stress hormones. I believe that cortisol, which is secreted in sync with your circadian rhythms is usually, if not always, out of whack when you’re stressed out and exhausted. This means the cortisol level is either too high when it should be low or not high enough when we need more. Getting your cortisol back in rhythm when you’re compromised is crucial and Rhodiola literally helps balance the cortisol levels in your body, raising or lowering it as needed. That’s why this herb is particularly useful for treating my stressed out clients! What’s more, rhodiola has demonstrated a remarkable ability to support cellular energy metabolism. It positively affects brain function, depression, and heart health. In my experience, most patients who take rhodiola start feeling better within a few weeks to a month.

Dose: 200 to 600 mg per day of a Rhodiola rosea extract standardized to contain 2-3% rosavins and 0.8-1% salidroside. Or 2-3 grams per day of the nonstandardized root.

Caution: Avoid if you have manic depression or are bipolarRhodiola is not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women. Although it’s unusual, at high doses rhodiola can cause insomnia.

Fast Oatmeal Molasses Cookies

by Andrea Hartley

This natural. unprocessed cookie is easy and quick to make. It’s delicious and quite filling. It’s health benefits are, the molasses offers high vitamin-B and iron content. The oatmeal offers heart-healthy fiber and olive oil is the best oil you can use to help keep your Omegas balanced.

½ cup olive oil

1 cup molasses

1 cup whole rolled oats

2 cups flour

For a delicious variation, you can add raisins.

Mix oil, molasses, oats, and flour and stir well. Drop by spoonful on greased cookie sheet. Bake until golden brown at 325 for 15-20 minutes.

Asthma on the Increase, Reasons Why

Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired?

Andrea HartleyBy Andrea Hartley

If local officials notified you that they were going to build a landfill next door to you, what would your reaction be? Would you be outraged? Would you object? According to Sloan Barnett, a regular contributor to NBC’s  Today show and author of the book, Green Goes With Everything, the landfill is a lot closer to you than next door.

“Most Americans, but especially children, have dozens of pesticides and other toxic compounds in their bodies, many of them linked to health threats,” she writes. “A source of many of these toxins? Common, everyday, run of the mill household consumer products.landfill2

Barnett’s own child, who suffered from asthma, was the inspiration for her research. She had spent her career as a consumer reporter, so she knew how to dive right in. She discovered that the United States is “in the midst of an asthma epidemic”. “There’s no polite way of saying this: your body is a landfill; a dumping ground for a mind-boggling array of toxic chemicals. So is mine, so is your child’s.”

One of every 13 school-age children in the United States has asthma. This is an increase of 160 percent from 1980. That’s about 9 million children, to say nothing of the number of adults who suffer from it.

What is the suspected cause of these stunning numbers? According to Barnett’s book, which was published last year, six well-designed epidemiological studies published in well respected journals have found one answer. There is a strong link between the use of certain cleaning products and asthma. She writes, “That stopped me cold. I may have been poisoning my own son.”

For example, Barnett lists the chemicals that are found in your fabric softener: “toluene, trimethylbenzene, styrene – which are neurotoxins according to the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health; phenols, xylene, a-terpineol, (irritates mucous membranes and causes central nervous system damage); benzyl acetate, (eye and respiratory irritant); benzyl alcohol, (can cause headache, nausea, dizziness, drowsiness, respiratory irritation and a drop in blood pressure); camphor (on the EPA’s hazardous waste list); ethyl acetate, (eye and lung irritant); limonene, (irritant); linalool, (affects central nervous system); and pentane, (eye and skin irritant and that may cause headache, vomiting, dizziness, or loss of consciousness).”

Could this be the tip of the iceberg? Could the increase incidents of cancer, autism, Alzheimer’s, and many other diseases be attributed to our excessive use of toxic chemicals in our everyday life? A man’s home is his castle, according to the old adage; but according to the research, a man’s home has become a contributor toward his ill health.

In the book, Barnett tells how to make your own fabric softener. (An added advantage to this is you will save money). Add a half cup of baking soda to the wash cycle. To eliminate static cling, add quarter cup of white vinegar. To eliminate static cling in the dryer, dry natural-fiber clothes and synthetic fiber clothes separately.

Stains in fabric? Make an inexpensive, healthy alternative to spot removers.

2 tablespoons of cream of tartar
2 drops peppermint or lemon essential oil Water.

Combine to make paste, spread on stain, allow to dry before washing. (Source: Kayn Siegle-Maier.)

Barnett chose to change her lifestyle and go green. Many others who were sick and tired of being “sick and tired” have done the same.

As your wellness coach, I can encourage and guide you into healthier, more loving thought patterns that will increase your health and well-being. There are many ways that we will employ to accomplish this. Some are education, personalized meditation and thought affirmations, accountability, emotional support and my “Association Technique”. This technique will help you to develop love, peace and calm in your life.

If you are willing to dedicate yourself to your personalized wellness program, I would like to partner with you. I will give you a free one hour session, valued at $40 to help you find your wellness plan and create your vision.

Call me at  609-533-7966

Andrea Hartley is the publisher of Lehigh Valley Woman’s Journal, wellness coach, and  personal trainer with a specialty in mind body connection, certified by AAAI/ISMA.

____________________________________________________________ [Read more…]

March Against Monsanto






Find the March Against Monsanto Event Near You


Search Engine Optimize Your Food

by Andrea Hartley

Healthy food 2Search Engine Optimization means that the best key words are used to help the search engines find your content on the internet.  This is of great value  because it doesn’t matter how great your website or article is, if no one can find it or read it.  You must give the search engines optimal key words so your content can be found and utilized as you intended it to be.   Likewise, your body requires optimum nutrition to perform as it is intended to.   Giving your body optimum nutrition is one of the greatest challenges the American people face today, since our soil is often deficient of key nutrients.  In many cases, an apple today does not possess the same nutritional value that it did 100 years ago.  If that weren’t bad enough,  we in America face a challenge that most other countries in the world do not.  Industry is trying to force genetically modified food on us, turning us into human  guinea pigs.  This food has not been tested and the nutritional value is suspect, at best.  It is often referred to as “Frankenfood”.  Strawberry ShortcakeMost processed foods contain genetically modified food. Scroll down below  and you can see some of the problems with eating genetically modified food and there is an excellent research paper written by Lauren Williamson which discusses that as well. (See her paper here) Moreover, it contains MSG, artificial colors, artificial flavors  and preservatives.Healthy face

Search Engine Optimizing your food, assumes you already know that the standard American diet is one that should be avoided.  If you are not sure why, you can click on any of the links in the article.  The purpose of this article is to help those individuals who want to eat more healthy foods.  It doesn’t have to be expensive or difficult.  It can be challenging at first, but I have been studying this for over 30 years and use what I learn in preparing good, real and healthy food for my family and myself.

Sweet Potato Pie-0I am including a link to a video where I teach how to make sweet potato pie. Click here for the FREE natural food recipe video

To help you SEO your diet, I will share with you what I have learned.  You can receive a monthly newsletter which will contain recipes, food tips and a video lesson on preparing natural, healthy food without artificial colors, flavors, preservatives and  MSG free.  Be the first 20 people to sign up and you will receive this newsletter absolutely free for 6 months! To Register Click here.


10 Top Dangers of Processed Foods

According to Invigorate360

Although the threats of processed foods are numerous, knowing the 10 top dangers of processed foods may be enough to rethink your next meal or snack.

1. CANCER – Some cancers are known to be caused by carcinogenic properties which are included in processing foods.

2. OBESITY – Processed foods are most often high in fat, sugar and salt. If counting food calories, these are the perfect ingredients to cause excessive weight gain.

3. HIGH CARB CONTENT – Most processed foods include an overabundance of carbohydrates and not nearly enough protein.

4. HEART DISEASE – The trans fat in many processed foods will spike the cholesterol level and lower the HDL.

5. HYPERTENSION – Blood pressure is elevated by the high salt and fat content in foods.

6. DIABETES – The high sugar products and fast acting carbohydrates will raise the glucose to unhealthy levels.

7. FOOD ADDITIVES AND UNKNOWN EFFECTS – For color, consistency, taste, shelf life and more, processed foods include additives while the effects are unknown.

8. UNKNOWN FILLERS – Several foods like hot dogs and processed meats are filled with unknown parts.

9. LACK OF NUTRIENTS – If processed foods are the main part of the diet, the body will be lacking the nutrients needed to fight disease.

10. ARTIFICIAL VITAMINS – Synthetic vitamins, which lose their potency during processing, are added to some processed foods like bread.

The list of the dangers of processed foods can go on. Back to basics with home cooking using wholesome, nutritious, and unprocessed foods may add healthier years to your life.


To learn more about the dangers of MSG from Dr. Russell Blaylock, M.D. click the following two links:


For more information about MSG and GMOs see link below:


My mission is to help others live healthy lives.

I am a AAAI (American Aerobic Association International) and ISMA (International Sports Medicine Association) certified personal trainer in Mind-Body Connection. I can assist you in discovering where you want or need to  retrain your brain– to retrain your body and increase your health and well-being, and assist you in discovering effective ways for you to achieve that goal.   I can also assist you in discovering where you expend your brain’s energy, like Bruce Lipton writes of, and how to use that energy for your good.

As your wellness coach, I can encourage and guide you into healthier, more loving thought patterns that will increase your health and well-being. There are many ways that we will employ to accomplish this. Some are education, personalized meditation and thought affirmations, accountability, emotional support and my “Association Technique”. This technique will help you to develop love, peace and calm in your life.

If you are willing to dedicate yourself to your personalized wellness program, I would like to partner with you. I will give you a free one hour session, valued at $40 to help you find your wellness plan and create your vision.

Call me at  609-533-7966

Andrea Hartley is the publisher of Lehigh Valley Woman’s Journal, wellness coach, and  personal trainer with a specialty in mind body connection, certified by AAAI/ISMA.

Kicking out Restless Legs



Andrea Hartley

*Author’s note:  This is an article about the author’s own personal experience with restless leg syndrome.   It is not meant as advice or treatment recommendations.

I remember as a teen, I would lie in in bed and my legs would ache.  I was told that it was “growing pains”.  I would raise my legs while lying down and I would do a bicycle pedal in the air.  Then I would suddenly plop my legs down the bed with a bang.  This would provide some temporary relief.  The problem cleared up for many years, only to resurface in my late forties.    At this point, I researched the problem online.  I discovered that it is described as an urge to move your legs while at rest.  The cause is unknown. It produces an aching or crawly feeling in the legs and irresistible urge to move them.  Sometimes they move on their own.  For some, it may be caused by a deficiency in iron, magnesium or folate, but generally the cause is “unknown”.   One thing I have found, personally, my symptoms disappear, for the most part, when I eat copious amounts of wheat germ every day.  I am talking about at least 4 tablespoons.  One thing that tends to cause my symptoms to reoccur, is taking antihistamines that cause drowsiness.  Another preventative measure that has helped me greatly is to go to bed regularly at 10:30 pm.  Usually I fall asleep before any “kicking” takes place. [Read more…]

Breaking Free from Unhealthy Internal Dialogue

Internal dialogue happens constantly for most people.  It occurs mostly as words rolling around in our heads but there are also feelings that accompany the words or sometimes just the feelings alone.  Feelings of fear, worry, anger or feelings of peace, joy, serenity.  I used to think that I had no control over this inner dialogue.  After all, if someone has done something that I deem stupid, inappropriate, or mean, I thought that it was only normal to react with anger.  It may be considered normal or “to be expected” but is it wise?  Medical science shows us that negative emotions make us sick and can lead to pre-mature death.  Metaphysics tells us that thoughts are substance and can manifest materially in our lives in accordance with whether or not the thought is a positive one or a negative one.   [Read more…]

Anger Management Tips


1.)    Admit to yourself that you are angry and need a time out.

2.)    Get by yourself, go to the bathroom if that is the only place you can be alone for 10 minutes

3.)    Accept that you have the right to your feelings; so you have the right to feel angry.

4.)    Ask yourself “Why am I angry?” [Read more…]

Neuroplasticity: The Way To Greater Health And Well-being

by Andrea  Hartley

                                                            Reprogramming the Brain

A Path to Healing Disease, Happiness and Well-being

          Few people would question the value of maintaining a physical fitness program.   Increasing numbers of people are finding that their health and quality of life improves as they increase their physical activity by walking and working out.   Health experts encourage people to maintain a regular a fitness program and this has become an important goal for many people.    Some people are finding that a fitness program for the brain has incredible benefits as well and this may also soon become a common goal. [Read more…]