Thursday, May 25, 2017

Review of Lighthouse by Eugenia Price

Marblehead Lighthouse
I thoroughly enjoy traveling and visiting lighthouses and when it comes to reading, historical fiction is my favorite genre.   So, when my daughter found this book about a lighthouse that takes place in the eighteen century it was the perfect gift for me.  


Lighthouse by Eugenia Price

This  book is the first of the Saint Simons Trilogy and after reading it I am anxious to start on the next in the series.
                                                         


The Setting

This book is set in the early days of the United States. It follows the life of a young man from his home in Massachusetts, to his travels to what is now Maine, Florida and finally Georgia. It starts out talking about Shays rebellion and follows history through the early 1800's.  Although it is a fictional story, the author did a lot of historical research and the main character along with several of the other people in the story were real people.

The Story

James Gould is a young man with a dream that he carries throughout his life.  He is raised in Massachusetts, but longs for the warmer climate in the lands of the south.  His other dream is to someday build a lighthouse.  He has plans that he has drawn for a lighthouse that he carries with him through the years, hoping that one day he can make his dream come true.  In the book you follow James life as he feels responsible to care for his mother and siblings and you root for him as he searches for a way to follow his dream first to the north to Bangor on the Penobscot River where he makes  a living to support his family, then to the south and lawless Spanish East Florida.  Along the way he meets a strong woman with whom he can share his dream.  The characters are very compelling and I found myself thinking about the book and looking forward to picking it back up whenever I needed to stop reading.

My Favorite Parts 

I love the way the author takes real people in history and weaves them into the story. It is also interesting to read about places I have visited such as Savannah and St.  Simons Island and imagine what they were like in the late 1700's and early 1800's.  Of course, I am very partial to lighthouses and the building of the lighthouse and then the care of the structure was the highlight for me.  It is hard to imagine the hardships early Americans struggled with during the beginning of the country.

This book is a real page turner and has my recommendation for anyone who enjoys historical fiction!

My  Visit to St. Simons

I visited St. Simons lighthouse several years ago, but now that I've read the book I'd love to visit again.  I think it will be much more meaningful after I've learned about the builder and his dream of the lighthouse.
Below is a Zazzle card I made from my photo of St. Simons lighthouse.



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Review of Before, Afdre, and After: Memoir of a Stroke Survivor

Just Imagine if This Were You

You are 33 years old, healthy, and in the prime of life. You have a great job in an advertising agency as a copywriter. One day at work you have a massive stroke and nothing is ever the same again. That's what happened to Maureen Twomey. It's a miracle she survived her stroke and recovered enough to write Before, Afdre, and After (My Stroke...oh what fun). Maureen's story is one of courage, the support of friends and family, and dedicated doctors and therapists. It's a must-read for anyone who knows someone or is caring for someone who is recovering from a stroke. 

Review of Before, Afdre, and After: Memoir of a Stroke Survivor
Image Courtesy of Pixabay, edited on FotoJet.com

Maureen's Miracle Story -  Before

The book opens as Maureen shows us her life before the stroke. She was born and grew up in California, graduated from UCLA as I did (but much later) and got some great jobs in advertising. At the time of her stroke, she was working in the Bay Area. She had oodles of friends and an active social life. She was taking a class in improvision, which she loved. She was known for her sense of humor. The stroke could not kill that in her. 

Maureen was at work the day she had her stroke, June 6, 2000. The first symptoms manifested while she had taken time away for an appointment with a dermatologist who saw her after 2 PM. She started to feel funny. Her right eye was flashing, but a few seconds later she felt better and walked back to work. It was there her coworker Amy found her crying in the hallway outside her office because she is anxious about her symptoms. The flashing lights in her eye are back and there is some tingling in one side of her body. She has a slight headache. But when she talks to her doctor and tells him she's not in pain, he just said to call back if the symptoms get worse. She starts to work again. It is now 3 PM.

At 4:20 she is still at work and her symptoms get worse and more resemble classic stroke symptoms. She had decided to skip her improvisation class that night and was typing an email to explain her absence. Suddenly the words made no sense to her. Then she fell on the floor. Amy heard her fall and start crying. Symptoms are full-blown. Amy calls the doctor back to get an appointment for Maureen and the doctor told her to call 911. 


At the Hospital - Afdre


When the paramedics arrive to interview Maureen it is 4:50. Maureen can express herself with some difficulty. Although the paramedics take her to the emergency room at California Pacific Hospital, they don't think this is an emergency that merits lights and the siren. It takes 20 minutes to get to the emergency room. By this time three hours have elapsed since the onset of symptoms. At 6:20 they do a CAT scan. At 7:30 they do a spinal tap. They release her to spend the night with her father and his wife Judy. 

The next morning, June 7, as Maureen tried to eat breakfast, she started feeling strange. Then she couldn't remember anything. Her dad was so alarmed he carried her to the car and drove her straight back to the emergency room. By then Maureen could neither walk nor talk. She finally was diagnosed with a massive stroke, but it was too late to give her the clot-busting drug that can prevent permanent damage. It has to be given in the first hours after onset of symptoms. 

Stroke Survivor Memoirs 

I plan to soon read some of these stories by and about others who have survived strokes. Some contain helpful information on recognizing early symptoms months before the onset of a stroke, as well as advice for stroke prevention. It amazes me how many of these stories were written by people only 33 -- like Maureen. 

Maureen's Miracle Story: After

The rest of the book was written after Maureen recovered enough to use words again. She had to completely rebuild her life and learn again everything she'd ever learned -- how to talk, the alphabet, words, how to read, how to write. Before she recovered any of these abilities, her father sent our regular updates on her progress to her circle of friends and extended family. These emails are part of the book, as are illustrations of some of Maureen's first attempts to write during her recovery.

Although Maureen's recovery was much longer than she expected, she writes with a humorous and optimistic voice that won't accept defeat. As a result of that spirit and a lot of hard work, she accomplished much more than the doctors expected her to. She now is able to live alone again, drive, and write. You can follow Maureen Twomey on Twitter


My Review of Before, Afdre, and After

This book is different than most I read because the author is working under an extreme handicap compared to most. Although her stroke happened 15 years before she was able to write and publish her book, she has not completely recovered the all verbal and motor skills she once had. Her typing speed isn't what it used to be. She still can't always retrieve the words she wants to use from her memory bank. (If you are reading this, Maureen, please feel free to comment and correct anything that may have changed in the past two years.) 

I read the book to see what a stroke looks like to the one who has experienced it. Maureen is good at explaining what it was like for her, day by day. Although much of the book is in her voice, some of it consists of copies of emails sent by her father, coworkers, and friends. She also includes a copy of her resume and a list of resources. 

There are a number of photos and scans of some of the work Maureen did as part of her rehabilitation. She even has scans of some pages she completed from Explode the Code, a popular phonics workbook I used to sell at homeschool conventions. I was thinking how hard it must have been for her to start over learning to read and write with disadvantages healthy children learning the same things don't have. I can't even imagine how difficult that would be.

I'm glad I read the book and I recommend it to others who want a day-by-day look at what life is like for someone recovering from a  massive stroke. Maureen tells her story in a matter-a-fact way with a touch of humor. Since her stroke, she has moved back into an apartment, learned to drive again, participated in a walk for the Heart and Stroke group of the American Heart Association, and finished her book. She still can't run as she used to.

The only thing I didn't like was that I had chosen to buy the ebook so I could start reading right away. On my Kindle Paperwhite the illustrations, especially the scans of Maureen's written work, were too small to see clearly. I suggest you get the paper copy of the book if you don't want to miss anything. In this case, the illustrations are an important part of the book. I am finally able to see them on the Kindle App for my iMac. 

I hope you will show support for Maureen by buying her book and leaving her a review on Amazon so that her book may start showing on the first page of an Amazon search for stroke survivor memoirs. That way more people may be able to find it. Also, why not follow her on Twitter? 

Review of Before, Afdre, and After: Memoir of a Stroke Survivor
Image Courtesy of Pixabay, edited on FotoJet.com

Have you ever had a stroke, known someone who survived one, or cared for someone recovering from a stroke? Is your experience similar to Maureen's?

***




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Fathers Day Gift From Daughter

Dads With Daughters

A father and daughter courtesy of Pixabay.com
As Father's Day approaches, I have been looking for gifts for the fathers in our family. I typically look for things that a daughter can give because, well, I'm somebody's daughter. 

When I was little (actually even now) my Dad would tell me that I was (am) his little princess. There is such a wonderful bond between a father and his daughter. Not that Dads don't love their sons, but his girl or girls are so special to him. 

When my girls were little their Daddy doted on them and yes they were his little princesses. 

So with the princess theme in mind, I found a great gift for the Dad with daughters! It is something he can wear, comes in a variety of sizes and colors and it is perfect for just about any father.


Princess Patrol T-Shirt

A shirt like this is great for a father of any age. He can be a young dad, middle aged dad or the dad of an older princess. No matter his age, he will always protect his special girl or girls. If a tee shirt isn't really something that your Dad will wear, there is an option to get a mug with the same sentiment.

I feel blessed that my Dad is still with us. We have always had a very close relationship and I treasure it more as we both get older. We get together every Wednesday morning and go out to breakfast, we even have our special table at a local cafe. When I was a little girl and he was a young father, he used to take me to a little restaurant in our home town. It was the hang-out for the teens and young adults in the area. Dad would put money in the jukebox and then lead me to an open space and we would dance. It was magical!

So, how about you? What do you plan to give to your Dad for Father's Day this year? 




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Reviewing Gift Tags by Nature Cuts


Recently, I have attended a few special occasions and have been invited to others. I am always amazed at how some people can throw a themed party with all of the trimmings. I am especially delighted with the thought that goes into those party favors and gift bags that follow the theme. Then I ran across these awesome gifts tags by Nature Cuts. Although I have not recently thrown a party or hosted any type of gathering, I had to review these themed gift cards.  


Gift Tags and Confetti by Nature Cuts


Nature Cuts offers handmade confetti and gift tags. While I've seen confetti used in very creative and beautiful ways recently, I am focused on the gift tags. 

Nature Cuts tags are handmade in Wisconsin, USA. Nearly all of the hundreds of gift tags offered have a nature theme; animals, trees, birds, fish, flowers, and more. 

They are made from 65lb cardstock. These gift tags come in two size/amount options:



25 tags (2.5" x 1.5")
12 tags (4" x 2.3")


Having lived in Maryland for the past decade, I am especially drawn to the crab design.  Gathering around a crab feast, with beer and friends is a way of life here. Special occasions here, such as graduations and goodbye parties, include crabs by default. I can imagine these crab gift tags put to good use at a good number of special occasions in this area.

I am sure that people who regularly host events can think of many ways in which these tags could be used. But these are the occasions I can think of:

showers
  • crab feasts
  • beach parties
  • destination weddings in rustic settings
  • beach weddings
  • bridal showers
  • baby showers
  • birthdays
  • graduation parties
  • camping family reunions
  • retirement parties
  • Halloween
  • and so many more holidays and special gatherings
spider/Halloween gift tags

Nature Cuts tags can be found in their Etsy store as well as on Amazon. The Etsy shop has been open since 2014 and there are hundreds of good reviews.  Or maybe Amazon is your favorite convenient mode of buying party supplies. Either way, there are many, many interesting and unique tags to choose from.

Woodland or Christmas Tree gift tags

Related Link:


Several of our Review This! contributors host parties, plan gatherings, and host for the holidays on a regular basis. They share their expertise with party tips, decorating, and recipes here (click link then scroll down). If you enjoy hosting events and parties, I am sure you will find something interesting and helpful there.



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Best Water Bottle to Carry Around

If you need to drink water consistently throughout the day, you'll love this water bottle.

Without exaggeration, this is the ONLY water bottle I use! There are multiple reasons I call it the best, but before I list them, let me stress the number one feature that makes the Contigo Autoseal Water Bottle my fave: It's easy to carry around without the worry of spilling.

Since I work from home, I drag this water bottle around the house all day long. Here are the reasons it's tops in my book:

1. The handy carry handle lets you grab it with a couple of fingers so you can easily haul it around when you're carrying other stuff. For example, I have multiple places I work from in my home; the family room, at my desk, the living room, and in my bedroom. I'm constantly hauling my laptop from place to place and like to have my water bottle with me all day. The convenient carry handle makes it easy to carry the water bottle and laptop at the same time.

2. The autoseal on the water bottle lets you tip it any which way without the worry of spilling. Simply press to sip from it. Once you let go of the button the autoseal kicks back in and you have a non-spill container.

3. Another convenient aspect is being able to keep a water bottle beside my laptop without the worry of water accidentally spilling onto it. I'm extra careful about cups of liquid near my computer and the Contigo Water bottle eliminates that concern; if I happen to knock it over, it doesn't spill.

4. When I go to bed at night, I'm able to have this water bottle on the end-table without the worry of accidentally bumping it and having it spill. Also, during the night when I need a sip, I can reach over, grab it, and drink from a lying down position! Actually, I prop my head up just enough and take a sip without the worry of spilling - if I happen to drop it, no problem - won't spill.

5. Travelling in the car with this water bottle is easy-peasy. I simply fill it up, put it in the cup holder and off I go. Since you can drink from it using one hand, it makes it very convenient to use while driving.

6. Other perks: It's made out of FDA-approved, BPA-free Triton, which provides high impact resistance and won't stain or retain odors, is dishwasher safe and comes with a lifetime warranty.

So yes, yes, yes, I recommend this water bottle.


Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Reviewing My Favorite Hand Held Labelling Machine

My Favorite Hand Held Labelling Machine - The Dymo Letratag
Get Your Own Dymo!
I own a pink (yes I said pink!) Dymo Letratag label printer and it really is my favorite hand held labelling machine and not just because the color brightens up my day! I brought my Dymo Letratag when my daughter started pre-school which means it's about a decade old and it's still doing it's job really well so this is an investment that will last.

Now I'll be honest when I went to the shops to purchase a label printer I wasn't planning on getting this one, I didn't think I needed a hand held one, I was looking at one that would sit on my desk.

The reason that I got the Letratag was because it was marked down and the couple of pink ones that were available were marked down further (apparently no one likes brighter colors, they want a subdued label printer!). I'm so glad of my decision because a hand held one is awesome and the only sort I now recommend.

Not only is it a wireless, hand held label printer (it runs off batteries) which means it's portable it also fits comfortably in my hand. The way Dymo have shaped their Letratag allows it to nestle nicely in one hand as you type the label with your other hand. It is also a nice weight, altogether the most comfortable label printer I've ever held.

Dymo certainly know their business as they've been producing label makers for years - can anyone else remember the vintage Dymo label maker that had a dial on it and you had to click on each letter (or number)? My mum had a red one from memory. As kids we thought it was great fun!

Features of the Dymo Letratag label printer

The Dymo Letratag printer is super easy to use with no messy ink to worry about or hard to thread tape for labels, let's have a look at the components....

Dymo hand held label maker
The batteries are located in the back, you simply push down on the bottom of the machine (where there's an indent) to release and the back comes off.

As you can see it takes 6 AA batteries which I thought seemed a lot at first, but I've only changed them twice in about 10 years so in my mind that is pretty good!

I do use my label maker quite a bit so I'm glad that it's economical to run.

If you can change the batteries in your television remote then you can change these!

Now what are the labels printed on?  Well unlike some other machines you don't need to add ink and tape as Dymo have combined the two in a little cartridge.

Dymo Letratag Labels
At the top of the machine there's a flap that you simply flip up to reveal the cartridge.  When one is finished you simply pull it out and put another one in.

There's no threading or anything it just pops in - not quite as easy as popping a pop tart into the toaster, but not much harder!

Now I've always used the plastic labels as I use them to label containers that are going into the freezer and I'm not sure that paper labels would work that well for this job.

There are a range of different types of labels available from plastic to paper and metallic to polyester.   There are also different colors that you can choose from.  I've only ever used the plastic black print on white labels.

I have read that people use different types of labels for different jobs - I'm too lazy for that I pop my cartridge in and leave it until it runs out!

If you're looking to get organized and need a tool like this the Dymo Letratag is hands down my favorite hand held labelling machine and I can't recommend it enough.

Now I can't find a pink Dymo Letratag available anywhere at the moment, but I have found a few in other colors which I'm sure will work equally well for you.   These other colors just may not cause you to smile as you pick them up!





Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Guardians of the Galaxy 2 Movie Review

Guardians of the Galaxy Movies Reviewed
Guardians of the Galaxy is a truly fabulous Marvel movie that I would recommend for anyone!   The movie is a mix of sci-fi, great animation, several engaging stories & witty dialog.  There were several times in both movies, Guardians of the Galaxy & Guardians of the Galaxy 2, where I couldn't help myself and laughed out loud.  It is really wonderful to walk away from a movie feeling like you had a great time, not to mention the characters feel like friends. 

For Mother's Day, my son surprised me with the DVD of the original Guardians of the Galaxy DVD and movie tickets to see Guardians of the Galaxy 2.  We spent the afternoon together watching the Guardians.  We started with the DVD and then immediately went to the theater for the second movie.  What a wonderful day and the perfect way to celebrate! 

I highly recommend watching the movies back to back. 


The Plot of Guardians of the Galaxy

 

 Guardians of the Galaxy
(Plus Bonus Features)
Check Price
The original DVD introduces you to  all of the main characters and shows us exactly how several unrelated outlaws end up banding together to become the "Guardians of the Galaxy".  

The movie starts with Peter Quill as a child listening to 80's music while sitting in a waiting room at the hospital.  His mother is dying from a brain tumor and his whole world is about to be turned upside down.  When his mother dies, he runs from the hospital devastated by the reality of what just happened.  It is at that very moment that he is abducted by Yondu and his team of ravagers (thieves) from another planet.  We do find out later that they were hired by his father to retrieve him from earth when his mother dies.

We are quickly fast-forwarded 26 years to Peter as an adult and we discover that he has been raised by Yondu as a ravager.  Peter seems happy enough, but it is a time of unrest in the galaxy.  A peace treaty has been signed between the Kree and Xandar, but not everyone is willing to adhere to that treaty.  Ronan is a powerful Kree who wants more than revenge, he wants complete annihilation of all Xandarians.

Yondu's group of pirates have been  commissioned to "acquire" a precious orb.  However, Peter decides to go alone to steal the orb.   Once he has the orb in his possession, he does have to battle Ronan's warriors to keep it.   When Peter goes to the Broker to sell the orb and tells him about his battle with Ronan's army, the Broker no longer wants anything to do with the orb and forces him to leave his shop.

Peter meets Gamora, who has been sent by Ronan to retrieve the orb.  A tussle for the orb leaves both Gamora and Peter vulnerable to bounty hunters who want to capture Peter for the reward offered by Yondu for the betrayer, Peter.  And, this is how we meet Rocket (the raccoon to earthlings) and Groot (a live tree).  

They are all arrested by Nova Corps officers and sent to Kyln (prison).  Because of her association with Ronan, the prison is full of inmates who want to kill Gamora.  One of those inmates is Drax.  


Now, we have been introduced to the characters who become the Guardians of the Galaxy:  Peter Quill, Rocket, Groot, Gamora & Drax.  They form an alliance to break out of Kyln, but that alliance becomes a "family" who battle Ronan for possession of the orb and it's contents, an infinity stone.  Possession of that infinity stone ensures the salvation of the entire planet of Xander.



The Plot of Guardians of the Galaxy 2 - Currently in Theaters

 

 Posters USA -
Marvel Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 II Movie Poster GLOSSY FINISH
Guardians of the Galaxy 2 picks up where 1 leaves off.  The Guardians are now an official team of Marvel defenders.   They have been hired to protect valuable batteries from an attacking monster.   Their payment for that job is given in trade form.  They are paid with Gamora's sister, Nebula.

Rocket can't seem to resist the temptation to steal a few of the batteries and the Guardians are pursued by the Sovereign.  They are forced to crash land after they are saved by a mysterious ship.   When the unidentifiable ship lands, Peter Quill finds himself face to face with his father, a man he has never met before.  Ego (Kurt Russell) invites Peter to his planet.  Peter, Gamora & Drax leave Rocket to repair their ship and go with Ego to his planet. 

A lot of secrets are revealed on Ego's planet and Peter has some difficult realities and choices to make.  

Both of these action packed movies are filled with witty dialog, lovable characters and scenes of strong emotions.  Guardians of the Galaxy 2 forces the Guardians to come to terms with a lot of their own personal relationships and the "people" who they really love.

One additional point of interest about Guardians of the Galaxy 2 is the introduction of Sylvester Stallone as Starhawk, the overall commander of the Ravagers.  


Great Actors in the Guardians of the Galaxy Movies

Peter Quill - Chris Pratt
Groot - Vin Diesel
Rocket - Sean Gunn (on set)  & Bradley Cooper (voice)
Gamora - Zoe Saldana
Drax - Dave Bautista
Yondu - Michael Rooker
Nova Prime - Glenn Close
Corpsman Dey - John C. Reilly (arrested the Guardians & Peter's Nova corps contact)
Ego the Celestial - Kurt Russell
Starhawk - Sylvester Stallone
Peter's Grandfather - Gregg Henry
David Hasselhoff - David Hasselhoff
Stan Lee - Creator of the Marvel characters - appears as random character in both movies





The Guardians of the Galaxy

  




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Guardian of the Galaxy 2 Movie Review Written by:
House of Sylvestermouse





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Thursday, May 18, 2017

When The Grid Goes Down: A Book Review

When the Grid Goes Down by Tony Nester, reviewed by Susan Deppner, ReviewThisReviews.com
If you consider yourself a "prepper" and have both a plan and supplies to support the plan over the course of a major or long-term disaster, then you don't need to read this book or my review. You're good to go and I thank you for stopping by.

However, if you're among the two-thirds of us who don't have an emergency plan in place and have nothing more than a few extra cans of food, a bag of rice, and a case of bottled water in the pantry, then it's very important that you stop what you're doing, read the book, and start working on a survival plan for your family.

The book to which I refer is called When the Grid Goes Down: Disaster Preparations and Survival Gear for Making Your Home Self-Reliant. Its emphasis is more on developing both a plan and a mindset as you implement your plan than it is on where to buy a good bug-out bag. The latter information you can find anywhere; the former is not discussed in emergency prep books nearly as much as it should be. That's one of the reasons I liked this book so much and recommend it highly to those who tend to get overwhelmed when the subject of emergency preparedness is discussed. (What, you haven't started building your passive solar straw bale house yet??)

Author Tony Nester is a survival expert and teacher with an impressive resume, well-respected in the survival training community. He also has a good writing style and presents this important information in a way that makes sense rather than trying to scare us into buying the latest gadget, gizmo, or fad on the prepper market.

In his book the author discusses in depth six key survival priorities then encourages us to tackle those basics in a "layering" method (for example, start with your case of bottled water, then add water jugs, later add a rain barrel, and eventually learn how to purify water from surrounding ponds or springs). This method will enable our families to survive short-term first, then long-term as our plans and prep levels progress. He convincingly encourages readers to take action, step by step, to bring their plan into a workable reality. No reason to get overwhelmed if you follow this advice.

Who will take care of your family when a disaster strikes? Photo: Evacuating Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina, from FEMA/Jacinta Quesada, In the public domain.
Who will take care of your family
after a disaster?
Photo: FEMA/Jacinta Quesada
In the Public Domain
Being prepared means something different for everyone, depending on where they live, size and makeup of their family, geographic and weather considerations where they live and work, and even income, but there are important overlaps. No matter whether you're more likely to deal with the aftermath of a hurricane than a tornado, the six priorities you'll learn from Tony apply to everyone. That's why I believe every beginning to intermediate "prepper" can benefit from the information in this book. And if you're in the very beginning states of planning and prepping, that especially means you.

Whether the cause is a cyber-attack, a natural disaster, a nuclear attack, or something somewhere in between, chances become greater every day that you will be called upon by circumstances to take care of yourself and your family during a major service and power outage. Such an episode could be lengthy and certainly could alter your life in a major way, starting within hours of the event, when you least expect it. This excellent book will help you prepare.

When The Grid Goes Down by Tony Nester is available in both paperback and e-book format for your Kindle or other reading device. The book has received 4.3 stars from over 225 reviewers and is a bestseller in multiple categories on Amazon.com.






~ Susan
Read more of my reviews.




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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Excellent Advice for a Balcony Gardener: What You Need Know!

I love to garden, it's not secret!  But, and this is a big BUT,  gardening on a balcony is totally different than growing your garden on level soil!  Let's review some of the differences.

At some point in everyone's life, they must re-evaluate what is important in their lives.  So it came to pass with my husband and I.  We have lived in the same home for almost 40 years and the daily upkeep of the gardens, grass and the household was becoming arduous to say the least.

We started looking for ways to make our lives easier and less strenuous on our bodies.  Apartment/Condo living was looming before us.  Neither one of us could do the stairs well any longer.  So to that end, we made the decision that many find difficult!  We gave up our primary residence for an apartment.
                                                     https://pixabay.com/en/home-facade-architecture-barcelona-964537/


So What's So New About That?

Well anyone who knows me, knows that I can garden from morning till evening without stop.  What will I do when there is no longer a patch of ground that needs my attention?  Truly I was a little distressed at the upcoming move.  But, at this point I am here to tell you that so far I have survived without having the time to weep over the weeds, mourn the loss of the dirt, or sympathize over the lack of sore muscles after having over done the weeding in the first weeks of May.  


Let's Review What Can be Done 18 Stories up in the Air!


Reviewing what I can do in my new space has given me a new direction for my gardening abilities or lack thereof.  Well let's just agree that my gardening skills 18 stories up in the air have not been tested yet.  One thing is certain, after only two weeks in my new surroundings, I know that my gardening efforts will be different.  No Question About IT!

There are a list of things that you need to know about your new surroundings!

  1. You need to know which direction you face.  Is your apartment facing north, south, east or west or a combination of those.
  2. You need to know if your growing zone has changed.  That will depend on how far away you have moved.
  3. You need to know what is allowed and what is forbidden as far as growing things on your balcony. (This assumes that you do indeed have a balcony)
  4. Then you need to decide what you absolutely have to grow, like tomatoes or cucumbers or beans.
  5. Now you need to do some research.  What will grow well in pots and how big do those pots need to be?

When you have reviewed those answers then you can make some decisions.  


I am blessed in that our apartment faces south, so sunlight is abundant, but not overwhelming.  Having an overhang helps to keep the balcony sunny but it does not become an oven, even in the heat of the day.
So for my particular circumstances, I will be able to grow tomatoes, peppers, beans and more.  What I need now is a way to grow all of these without loosing so much space that there is nowhere to go out and enjoy the view.  
                                                                        https://pixabay.com/en/fordon-slope-view-residential-area-904300/


Vertical Gardening

I have found the answer to my prayers.  The biggest new fad in gardening seems to be making the most of the space you have available.  That for me is a blessing.  My space has diminished by at least 50% and of that 50% I want to be able to sit and enjoy my surroundings.  So my actual space is quite a bit less than I had before.

When you can't grow wide, you need to grow tall.  Use the space in the air for everything that you don't have space for in the ground. It makes a whole lot of sense really.

My old garden was probably about 20 feet by 35 feet.  My balcony is about 20 feet by 6 feet.  So my choices in ways to garden have been severely changed.  I will grow flowers to make my soul happy in balcony planters which are allowed in my building.  Having two already, I will increase that number to six within the next few weeks. Then for my vegetables I have decided to go with a vertical garden that also combines the ability to compost.




These choices that I show you here, don't allow you to grow in abundance, but will be great for herbs, some smaller flowers and just the ability to get your hands dirty.  For me this would be just a tease.  For many gardeners though, this would be enough to keep them happy.

Is it enough for me?


For my own purposes and for my joy of gardening I have gone the whole nine yards(no puns intended).  My choice is a little expensive, but offers me the ability to grow many vegetables, herbs and flowers in one place. It also offers the ability to compost all my kitchen scraps and have a vermi-culture happening all at the same time.  For myself it is a win-win proposition.  I didn't have to think about it for too long.   I'm talking about the Grow Tower 2.  I saw an ad for this unit and researched it further.  I am convinced that it will be my new favorite growing station all in one place.



This unit is my newest addition to my balcony since moving two weeks ago......and here's a link for you to see why I think this is going to be one heck of a great addition to my living space. Garden Tower  Project will let you see why I'm so excited to be gardening in this totally new way. I can control the plants I want to grow.  I can use the composted material to naturally feed my plants and I can see that there have been no pesticides in use too.  All natural and good for us is the way I want to garden and I will do so in a very limited space.  I'm looking forward to this new escapade and will keep you all in the loop.

Stay tuned! 

I promise to keep you updated on the results of my new foray into the world of gardening in a limited space and let you see my pictures of the Garden Tower Project so you can review the changes as they occur on my own balcony in a zone 6a growing area.  Maybe this Review will help you to make the leap into vertical gardening and have you enjoying the fruits of your own labor too!





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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Caught Dead In Wyoming Series Reviewed

A Fun Mystery - Detective Style Series

Western scene courtesy of Pixabay.com
I have just recently become a fan of Patricia McLinn and her series called Caught Dead In Wyoming. I was looking for a mystery to read and the title of the series caught my attention since my youngest lived in Wyoming for a while several years ago. 

Suffice it to say, I have not been disappointed in the books. I just started the 4th book in the series last night. Ms. McLinn has me captivated with her plots and characters. Each book has moved along nicely with plenty of interesting little twists and turns. 

I think one of the things that has captivated my attention is the ability of Ms. McLinn to describe living in a small town in a believable and sometimes humorous way. The stories take place in and around a small town in Wyoming. Having grown up in a small town, I recognize the excellence in her writing by the characters she has included in her make believe town. Every small town would have people like them. One of my most favorites is the check-out gal at the one and only grocery store, Penny. That woman is hysterical!

The premise of each book is that E. M. Danniher (Elizabeth) has had a rather successful career as a TV news broadcaster in cities like Chicago, New York and Washington D.C. All was fine until her divorce. Her now ex-husband was on the management side of television and had really messed her up in the last contract that he had her sign. Should I mention she didn't pay close enough attention to the dirty little details until it was too late? 

So, Elizabeth finds herself working at a small little television station in Sherman, Wyoming. She is to finish out her contract with the network in this western town. The only job that the station manager will give her is a consumer affairs position called "Helping Out". No longer will she report on National News but will help people resolve problems with defective toasters and such. 

It doesn't take long for an event to crop up that causes Elizabeth to use her journalistic detective skills and to solve a mystery and crime. 

I do not like to spoil stories for people so I am not going into a lot of detail for each of the books that I have read so far. What I will say is that the cast of characters that the author has created are so well thought out that you almost feel as if you know them. I also get the feeling that the author knows first hand what it feels like to be an outsider in a small town. All of this makes the stories enjoyable and the plots believable because they seem so real and are entertaining to boot.

The main character, Elizabeth, is funny, smart, good at her job but also a little broken and vulnerable. She finds a way to make some new friends and enemies. All in all, I think that if you like to read mysteries that this series; Caught Dead In Wyoming is a great one for you to begin to read. 




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