Cool Links: A Cool Giveaway!

A post by Alex Chevarry, creator of Cool Lnks:

Popsicles, frozen peas, wet towels, fans full blast; she tried everything.  The hot flashes and night sweats were becoming more regular. She just turned 49 years old and didn’t want to enter her 50’s in discomfort.  The reality of menopause was sinking in.  Sometimes it was subtle or sometimes it was extreme, but either way she just wanted some relief.

My mom tried everything to beat the heat. It would be winter and she would run to the freezer, seemingly sweating, just to find some short term relief. When I was a kid, she always did everything to make sure I was taken care of and comfortable.  So it was difficult to see her going through this transitional period in her life without that comfort she was so good at providing.

The idea to provide relief from the heat came from a family outing on an overwhelmingly hot day at a local amusement park.  We could not find any product to truly cool us down.  After many years of testing & tinkering we created our own; the Cool Links: an ice cooling neck wrap providing long lasting and effective relief from the heat for everyone, including mom.

The Cool Links was designed to be the first adaptable cooling wrap to help people beat the heat.  It is created with individual links which help it contour around the body making it light and comfortable.

It is the first product to have removable cubes so you can keep extra ones in the freezer to swap out thawed ones and extend the cooling time as long as you’d like.

Cool Links

We made sure to use a wrap made of moisture wicking fabric so you can feel cool without ever getting wet; not to mention stylish and fun to wear.


After launching in July of 2017 at outdoor festivals throughout California, we discovered that we can now help anyone who needs to beat the heat.  Many women told us how much they love the relief they get with Cool Links as well as all of its great features.


Giveaway: Alex is giving a Cool Links wrap to TWO lucky Friend for the Ride winners. Winners may choose between the Tropicool and the Popsicool. For a chance to win, please enter a comment by June 25. Thanks!

Check out the Cool Links website here.


Take the Plunge: Go to Counselling


When reader Penny McMahan offered to write a post on going to counselling/therapy, I jumped at it. So many people are hesitatant to get professional help, but that help can be life-changing. Take it away Penny, and thank you!

Since I was a little girl, I had envisioned my life. It was a beautiful dream — but, a dream it was. Life has never really been as I expected from childhood, but it’s somehow been manageable with the help from the Lord. I am a Christian who prays regularly, but like many women, has a hard time waiting upon the Lord!

I wanted all my children living close by as adults, and I always dreamt of being a full- time grandmother. I didn’t ever imagine a child would move away. What an eye-opening experience that has been. My marriage was falling apart and my daughter, my first born, was about to graduate high-school. Much to my surprise, she was ready to leave the nest — and not just go across town with a roommate or a college dorm — she was going “back home” to her birth state where we lived until she was almost 15.  That blew my dream to pieces. Our move to Texas when she was 14 proved to be much harder than I had expected. She couldn’t wait to get back to Oklahoma — home to her.

My son, who left the nest, but returned a few times, has lived in Texas since he was nine. He loves his ties to Oklahoma and is even loyal to his OU football team, but his home is Texas. What?! They don’t even consider the same state to be home?

My little girl dream was shattered….Yes, in the past it was chipped, broken, hazy, and even forgotten about many times, but nothing caused it to fade like this. Not even divorce or other hardships in life made a dent in my dream compared to one of my little birdies leaving the state.

This is when I sought counseling. I needed help!

When I first began counseling, I was very uneasy about telling my life story and problems to a stranger but, I knew life should and could be better. Plus many others had told me they had great experiences with counseling. I knew it was something I definitely needed to do.

I thought about how embarrassing it might be but, then I realized I have already told so much about myself to doctors and health professionals for years. One delivered my babies, one prescribed medication for panic attacks, one does my colonoscopies, one talked to me about peri- menopause and the sexual, emotional, and physical side effects. Thinking about that, I wondered, why would we think twice about seeing someone well- trained and educated to deal with relationship issues, family problems, or making the most of our marriage?

And the answer was, we shouldn’t!  So, I went, and guess what? It wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought it would be. They are professionals, so they know how to do this. All you have to do is show up. They will let you work at your own pace, you can talk or not talk, give input or just sit and listen. There are no rules on how you open up. If you know it’s OK (and it is) to go and just sit totally quiet for the whole 50 minutes, then you have discovered just how easy it is to go.

I want to encourage every woman and every couple to go to at least three or four sessions and see if you gain some strength in any or maybe every area of your life. I promise you will gain something good from it! I may take some time off from counseling, but I always return with a new challenge at some point and am thankful for it as it gives me hope, and the counselors do have answers.

My first husband and I actually ended up divorced. I look back now and think why did we not seek counsel? I am remarried, and my present husband is willing to go to counseling with me any time I ask. Let me say that when a man decides he will go even if he thinks it’s stupid, embarrassing, or completely not needed, it gives you a great sense of being.

Keep in mind you will not always find a perfect client-counselor partnership on your first try, so don’t hesitate to change and try someone different if you feel they aren’t giving you tools that work for you. And never go to someone who just listens. Always, go to someone who will give you tools, challenges, and resources to use outside of counseling. A good friend can listen, but a counselor knows how to teach, guide, and challenge you to be your very best

Believe it or not, we aren’t the best judge of how to do life right! We need help from our spiritual leaders, accountability from family and friends, and medical professionals and counselors to help us be our very best. Just like birthing classes or parenting classes, job training, or learning in any other aspect of life, it’s best to reach out to those who know more than we do and to not keep taking shots in the dark.


Penny McMahan is a former soccer (really basketball and ballet) mom living in Austin,Texas, trying to find her way and purpose, one day and one challenge at a time.

She works part- time, and volunteers at her local police department and church. She likes reading, baking, walking, outings with her girlfriends, Bible study, and cuddling with her two very witty and full- of- personality dogs, and last but, certainly not least, bonding with her grandson in real time and bonding with her out-of-town grandchildren via video chat and free two-day shipping 🙂

The photos above was taken during her candy-making class, one of many ventures she has enjoyed as she “learns to do things just for me.”



Downsizing: Finding Happy Homes

Cliff and I are still downsizing as we move into our new home. A burst pipe in the fire sprinkler system set us back this winter. The pipe was incorrectly insulated by the builder. It sounded like Niagara Falls when I walked in on that freezing January day to discover that one wing of our house was already flooded.

The repairs, done begrudgingly by the builder, have taken forever, but we were fortunate as it could have been so much worse. Lucky I came into the house when I did.

In the meantime, we’ve continued to empty the old house (and we’re now living in the new one for the most part). My downsizing mission has been to put almost nothing in the landfill, and I’ve had great success. A second mission was to be creative in giving away my goods, so that they found the best possible home.

Our love seat became an important part of the set of Orange Community Player’s production of California Suite. Not only did I have a blast playing Mattie the Maid in the show, but I loved seeing how well my love seat worked on the set.

My church, Hillsborough Presbyterian, supports refugee families. My friend Alice delivered our guest room bedding to two little girls in one of the families.

Alice reported that the girls were delighted. Here’s Zakara on her  newly made up bed. (For those of you who remember the old Eddie Bauer home stores, that’s where this set came from.)

Their mom, Sekeena, is a seamstress. I sent dust ruffles to her too, hoping she can  use the eyelet in some of her projects.

I commissioned Sekeena to make potholders from extra fabric I bought years ago to match our living room couches. The couches aren’t coming to the new house, so the potholders make great souvenirs. I’ve got a stack of ten or so. Should last a while!

We bought this school desk when we were first married and living in Pittsburgh. I love it but have no place for it in the new house. One day it popped into my mind that a children’s museum might like a school desk. A few weeks later, our desk was on its way to the  Children’s Museum of Alamance County. We look forward to visiting it there.

And I sent these framed quilt pieces to  Ali Givens, who does fabric art. Hopefully she can use the smaller roses in a project.

After the flooded wing of the house is painted next week, we plan to move over another load of furniture. Then I’ll find a home for those couches, among other projects.

Soon comes the biggest downsizing project of all: Getting our 180-year-old house on the market.

Anyone want a house in historic HIllsborough? We’ll fix the shutter before you move in…




You Are Not Alone: A Heartfelt Guide to Grief, Healing, and Hope (and a Giveaway)


Just off the presses:  You Are Not Alone: A Heartfelt Guide to Grief, Healing, and Hope by Debbie Augenthaler.
For those of us who haven’t experienced it yet, we wonder what it would be like to be thrown into immeasurable grief. That’s what happened to the author of this riveting book. Debbie Augenthaler not only recounts in vivid, compelling prose what it was like to lose her husband, but she offers clear and encouraging coping suggestions for those enduring intense grief. I found this book so deeply moving and encouraging that I could turn right around and read it again.
Here’s what the publisher says about You Are Not Alone:  Debbie is a psychotherapist in private practice in New York City. Her husband, Jim, died suddenly in her arms when she was only 36 years old. He had been healthy and vibrant – the doctors compared the probability of his death by heart attack to being struck by lightning. That lightning strike ended her life as she knew it and thus began the “baptism by fire” that brought her to her new future.

You Are Not Alone is the book she wishes she’d had when she was grieving. With the connection of a shared experience, Debbie guides the reader through grief to transformation and a new beginning.

“This is my story of loss, healing, and the spiritual journey that led me to know that love never dies. This book is about hope. As hard as it might be for you to believe right now, I want you to know: you will heal, you will not only survive, but you can thrive and find joy and meaning in your new life. This may not be the life you had before; but it is still your life to live.”

Giveaway: The publisher is giving a copy of You Are Not Alone to two lucky Friend for the Ride readers. For a chance to win, please enter a comment by June 10. U.S. only. Thanks!



Alvoru Clothing: A Giveaway!

A post by Jeanette Knittel, founder of of alvoru:

The middle of the night and I woke up wondering if I was swimming! Seriously, how could I be soaked? The sheets, mattress pad, me—everything was screaming wet! I thought for sure I would find a pool of water under the bed!

Maybe it was a freak incident? But wait this happened the next night, and the next, and the next! Welcome to my beginning of peri-menopause and night sweats.

While I knew that night sweats and hot flashes are a part of the aging process, I was so unprepared for the misery that would be a part of my life for years. After months of the same scenario, night after night, I decided to go online and look for sleepwear to help with the night sweats. What I found was a number of companies with wicking fabric but OMG…no way at 46 was I ready to be wearing granny gowns for the rest of my days! So much for any sex appeal in my bedroom! Still, I desperately needed sleep so I bought the best-looking option out there. Lo and behold, it helped, yet it wasn’t at all what I wanted in appearance, performance, and function.

After letting the idea percolate for a number of years (along with continued pool parties!) I decided to look into creating a line of clothing of women that would help them feel sexy, cool, confident and comfortable while struggling with hot flashes and/or night sweats. Nearly 10 years later, I launched alvöru and I’m thrilled to share my passion for my product with other women who suffer like I did (and still do!).


My brand, alvöru, is an apparel line designed for women who want FEMININE, CLASSIC, and COMFORTABLE clothes to balance career and casual while dealing with hormonal fluctuations that cause hot flashes and night sweats. Aside from menopause, many women face challenges due to increased body temperature occurring in pregnancy, chemotherapy, various medications and other illness or disease.

avöru utilizes the technology that went into space gloves used by NASA to regulate astronauts body temperature using what’s called PHASE CHANGE MATERIALS.  Imagine ice cubes in a drink; as the ice cube changes from solid to liquid, it absorbs heat and cools the drink, keeping your drink at the desired temperature for longer. Our clothing works the same way – as the skin gets hot, the heat is absorbed, and as it cools, that heat is released.

The alvöru collection is created using a blend of fabric that feels great against your skin. Current designs are made from a jersey knit of supima cotton, viscose and spandex. All of these components bring you the comfort of that old worn T-shirt but in a STYLISH and CLASSY design that works whether under your business suit, with jeans or even to sleep in. And, everything about our product is proudly Made in America.

Being COOL, COMFORTABLE and CONFIDENT throughout your day is so easy with alvöru.

tank giveaway-2 (1)

Giveaway: Jeanette is giving away a tank (above)  to one lucky Friend for the Ride reader. Here’s the description:

The perfect tank – sizes XS-1X  in black or off white
A lifestyle wardrobe essential, the alvöru perfect tank, will be your go-to basic tank. With flattering not-too-low and not-too-high scoop neck along with bra-friendly straps and some slight waistline tailoring, our perfect tank will fit into your business and casual style with ease. Being cool and comfortable will never feel the same!

For a chance to win, please enter a comment by June 10. Thanks!

About Jeanette: Jeanette Knittel never knew after graduating from John Brown University in Siloam Springs, AR with a B.S. in Home Economics/Child Development & Psychology, decades later that education would be integral when starting alvöru clothing.

Prior to alvöru, Jeanette worked 10 years in the computer graphics industry owning Computer Images of Wichita and Kansas City with such clients as Pizza Hut, Inc. Sprint, AMC Theaters, and Boeing. Upon selling, Jeanette took her talents of relationship building to various sales careers – in computer-related industries and her last employment with the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce.

With acceptance in 2012 into UMKC’s Entrepreneurship Scholars Program, the decision to turn a dream into a business became reality.


The Ladies Room Door Art Series: Part Forty-three

From Matt, Felinni’s Restaurant in Charlottesville, Virginia

Susan G. found these  funky doors in Spain.


And more obviously: His:

Susan sent this more subtle sign, too.

Rachel went on safari in Africa. Here’s a ladies room door at Serena Lodge in Masai Mara, Kenya.

A Masai couple indicates ladies vs. gentlemen at Serena Lodge in Amboseli National Park, Kenya.

The fine elephant sign graces Lake Maynara National Park, Tanzania.

Rachel included a photo of the Eastern squat toilet.

On the home front, Susan took these photos at Moe’s Southwestern Grill in Durham, North Carolina.


I snapped this at The Mellow Mushroom near our ballpark in Durham, NC.

From Tom, Luciano’s in Huntsville, Alabama

A friend of Ken’s sent these. Look carefully…

Here’s an old time sign at the Graham Cinema in Graham, NC. Cliff and I love this theater because it’s cheap and so is the popcorn (with unlimited butter).

From Matt, The Pie Chest in Charlottesville, Virginia. Broom closet and bathroom!

Judy sent us this link to the World’s Most Scenic Bathroom. And it’s a public bathroom too, near the town of Gildeskål in Norway. Talk about a fun place to go to the potty!

Thank you one and all for your wonderful doors. Onward as potty trips continue.