Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying

The Bright Hour
Some books are so achingly beautiful they cry out to be read.  This is one of them.  To not read The Bright Hour would be to deny yourself one breathtaking moment after another.  This is a memoir that reveals how to savor every day—even the days, especially the days, we would not typically love.


When Nina Riggs was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 37, it was one small spot that seemed fixable.  “No one dies from one small spot,” she reassured herself.  Within a year, though, Riggs was dealing with a terminal diagnosis.  Lest you think the book turns grim at this point, let me assure you that this is not a dark accounting of impending death—far from it.

The question at the heart of The Bright Hour is this: What makes for a meaningful life when your time is limited?  It is an extraordinary individual who can see and illuminate for us the radiance and joy to be found in the seemingly mundane moments that fill our lives with meaning.  Nina Riggs’ poetic eye, and soul, gifts us over and over again with word pictures that not only dazzle, but that enrich our spirits.

What if, like Nina Riggs, we were to live the answer to that question every day?  Isn't that the key to loving our days and living with fullness of life?

The Bright Hour is the most important book I have read this year.  Having recently lost a good friend to cancer, I found this memoir to be a poignant way to reflect on how Susan also lived her life with great meaning and purpose.  It can be healing in many ways to read a book that celebrates a life force that is not diminished by death.  I highly recommend this book.








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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Halloween Garden Cleanup and Planting Time Too! Let's Review How to Get This Done

Summer's Heat has given way to Autumn cooler temperatures, let's review ways to get your garden ready for the oncoming cold that is sure to happen.


Autumn is that wonderful time of year when the weather gets a little cooler and the days start to have a little bite in them.  Leaves are turning those beautiful shades of yellow, gold, orange, and red. Everywhere the eye goes, it's a myriad of beautiful colors to keep us all in Awe!  What a wonderful mystical, beautiful time of year.  The Maker's  paintbrush is never still and our picture changes daily.
Everyday,  I look out over my balcony and the trees are changing colors from one day to the next.  Yesterday the leaves were all green and today it seems that they are turning shades of gold, red, browns and oranges.  One day makes such a difference.


It's also time to get cracking on the Autumn garden chores! 


If you are not sure what to do with all those leaves,  give that link(Autumn garden chores) a quick review, your garden will love you for it.  It doesn't hurt to organize our chores for the best outcomes in our gardens. 


Cooler Days and changing colors are a shock to the system after all of summer's warm days.  Time moves on and these changes are a gardener's Alarm Clock, because the next thing is garden cleanup before the winds of winter come.


Don't fret!  Garden cleanup is easier than you think.  You just need the right tools and the right attitude and your job will be done lickety split!


Because Autumn is also the time for Halloween, we can do two things at once!  By using our leaves in funky Halloween decorator bags, we now have our glorious pumpkin display all done.  Or if you prefer you can also make crazy spiders and pumpkins to give all the kids a good chuckle.   Packing those bags will be child's play after raking them all together and then using our monster hands to stuff the bags. Now after all the festivities are over, don't throw all those beautiful leaves away. Use a chipper/grinder to make the world's easiest and best mulch for your garden beds. The extras can go into the composter along with the worms and everyone will be happy! You won't believe the work that those worms will do in the composter.  Even in the winter months, those worms are working away.  The beauty of a compost heap is that it will remain warm all winter long.  The worms will be happy and so will you when you see what they accomplish while you are inside staying toasty warm.

Autumn is also a great time to buy yourself a new pair of gloves, because I'm sure the ones you started out with in the spring have seen better days, and they just might be on sale at this time of year. You know you will always use them.



Once the gardens are all cleaned-up, it will be easy to see where to plant all the tulips and daffodils, crocus and snowbells, grape hyacinths and some irises too!  The time to do that is now!   Fall Bulbs are available in just about every garden store around.  If you want that gorgeous Spring Garden you do have to plant those bulbs in the fall.  Spring will be just bursting forth sooner than you think and those bulbs will be so happy to grow in your well mulched beds. It's a little bit of heaven in just a few short months and something to pin your hopes on while the cold winds blow. The Leaves you have mulched added under the bulbs will give those bulbs an extra boost of good compost right under their roots, so they will grow big and strong! You won't be disappointed. Good gardeners and great gardens all give so much credit to the mulch that is brought right down into the soil. Best of all, it's free fertilizer and no chemicals! All natural, Mother Nature will thank you and so will all your family when they are enjoying the fruits of your labor. Such a pretty sight, a well tended garden can bring a smile to you and everyone else too!

I hope you take the time to enjoy the changing of the seasons and preparing your gardens for the Spring of 2018!  In planting for the spring, you give everyone a reason to hope for the future and the brightness of your fabulous garden to come.
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All pictures are courtesy of Pixabay.  




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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Double Black Diamond K-Cups Reviewed

Darkest Roast Coffee From Green Mountain

Cup of Dark Coffee image from Pixabay.com
Starting a k-cup in my brewer is one of the first things that I do in the morning. My husband accidentally purchased the Double Black Diamond k-cups recently when I had asked him to get me the usual dark roast that I keep in our cupboard. (I'm guessing he didn't have his glasses on, saw a D in the title and threw it in the cart.)

I will admit that I was a little upset but decided I would give this blend a try. It was a dark roast after all and that is what I prefer. My first cup seemed just a tad strong but I quickly became used to it. Now, I'm actually glad for his mistake because I really like the flavor. The packaging states that it is the darkest roast that they make. I chuckled at their claim on the box that says on a scale of one to ten this one rates an eleven.

The coffee is also an Extra Bold which is a term that is often confused with the roast profile of a coffee. It has nothing to do with the roast which could be light, medium or dark. The roast is determined by how long the beans are roasted in the machine for that purpose. The longer the beans are roasted the darker the beans become. The term extra bold actually has to do with how much coffee is in the k-cup. They don't specifically say how much more coffee is in the cup but often the standard is as much as 25% more. Depending on one's taste buds that could result in a richer body or a better flavor.

I personally like a strong flavor to my cup of coffee; often a light roast almost tastes watered down to me. So, I enjoy the dark roast of Double Black Diamond and since it is extra bold (with more coffee) a k-cup gives me a nice strong cup to start my day.

One might think that because you are brewing the darkest roast with a little more coffee that it would just be exploding with caffeine. Actually the amount of caffeine in any cup of coffee (light, medium or dark) is pretty darned close to the same. Oh there might be a minimal difference but not much. The amount of caffeine in a cup of coffee actually has more to do with how the grounds were measured out to make a cup or pot and not by the roast. The roasting process doesn't alter the amount of caffeine much at all.

To me it is about flavor. I like a lot of flavor to my coffee and that is why I am glad that my husband made a mistake when he brought home a box of Double Black Diamond K-cups instead of my usual choice.



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Sunday, October 15, 2017

Three Easy Ways to Bring the Fall Season Inside Your Home

You'll Want to See These Fall Duvet Sets!
Without giving it a second thought, when we decorate for a new season our tendency is to add ornaments, lights and maybe a flower grouping or two.

However, if you're especially feeling the need for a seasonal change, dive right in with these three simple reviewed décor tips:

1. Easily Change Your Bedding to an Autumn Themed Design

You'll be surprised how easy and affordable it is to interchange your bedding.

Duvet covers make easy bedding changes possible.

The best part of a duvet is your ability to simply put it over your existing comforter and remove it when Fall is over. At that point, put on your winter themed duvet, or go back to your original set.

It's simple, affordable, and you can collect several duvets that reflect all four seasons; Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer.

This small change can scratch your redecorating itch and prevent you from spending too much on a renovation or new furniture.

2. Change Your Draperies for Autumn
Check Out These Gorgeous Fall Drapes


If you've never seen these gorgeous Fall Drape designs, you're missing out. They come in simple branch and leaf art, as well as full three dimensional scenery art.

Contrary to what most people think, changing out your drapes is not a difficult thing to do. Simply use the type of drapes that go with your existing drapery rod.

If you're able to plan ahead, the easiest style of drapes to interchange are curtains made with built-in rings. Any normal rounded curtain rod will work with these drapes. They're also easy to open and close.

You'll Find Some Funky Throws Here
Halloween Throw Blankets for the Fall Season\

Halloween Throw Blankets don't have to be skulls, ghosts and ghouls, in fact many of the designs you'll find are pumpkins, leaves, bright orange in color, and cartoon sketches.

Halloween Throw Blankets let you add a touch of whimsy to an otherwise dull or neutral space. Put up your drapes, add a Halloween throw blanket over the side of a chair or ottoman and finish off the look by putting Halloween Pillow slip covers over your existing cushions.

When the season has run it's course, remove it all 'til the season rolls around again.

Don't spend a fortunate, simply punch up the room the easy way.

Enjoy the Fall - Here's a Relaxing Video Featuring Lovely Homes Surrounded by the Glorious Colors of Fall





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Saturday, October 14, 2017

Eat, Drink and Be Scary – A Halloween Review

Eat, Drink & Be Scary Sign
A local news story recently reported on an upcoming event in my area called 'Eat, Drink and Be Scary'. It appears to be a regular event around the country, but the story reminded me of the many Halloween reviews I've read in the past by Review This! Contributors on food and drinks and 'scary' costumes.  

Today, I'd like to share some of them with you to give you some ideas for your own Halloween party or community event you may be attending this October 31st. 


*Eat, Drink & Be Scary Sign is a downloadable printable created by Happy Life Printables on Etsy.



Halloween Eats


Source: Pixabay
Start your Halloween party buffet with some spooky appetizers by Sylvestermouse.  


Her appetizer blog post includes recipe links for fun 'eats' such as Jack-O-Lantern Sandwich Bites, Wonton Bats, and a Halloween Veggie Platter with a Cauliflower Skull in the center.



 

Blood Shot Deviled Eggs Photo by Mandee Sears
The appetizers could be 'scary', like these Blood Shot Deviled Eggs (recipe by Mandee Sears).  They  may LOOK icky, but are really tasty deviled eggs with black olives and red gel cake icing for the decorations. 

Mandee's recipe and suggestions for serving can be found at Halloween Haven.



 

 

Halloween Drinks


Source: Pixabay
Concoct some wicked brews and beverages for your Halloween get-togethers using some suggestions from Review This writer Cynthia Sylvestermouse. 

From Halloween cocktails for the adults who imbibe, to Eyeball Punch and Shrunken Heads in Cider, which the kids will love, you're sure to find a Halloween 'brew' everyone will enjoy.


Be Scary for Halloween 


Source: Pixabay
The scary part of your Halloween party or event will most likely be your costume.  There are many, many to choose from. I have selected a few ideas to get you started on your search for the perfect one to suit your personality.

For a themed party, you could dress up in a group with these suggestions from RT writer Louanne Cox. 
Star Wars and Avengers are among this season's top favorites.

Louanne is also our Zombie expert. Check out these Celebrity Zombie costumes for a scary outfit. 






For kids who might want to be just a little 'scary' for a school Halloween party or an at home event, a simple T-shirt with a sort-of-scary design would be perfect.





So, this Halloween, enjoy your favorite event with 

Eat, Drink and Be Scary!






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Friday, October 13, 2017

Trick or Treat Pumpkin Tote Bags for Halloween

Trick or Treat Pumpkin Tote Bags for Halloween
North American Bear Co. Pumpkin Goody Bag
Click to Purchase
Halloween and trick or treating are definitely special times in a child's life.  Having a unique Halloween trick or treat tote bag is really cool, especially if you consider how they can be used after Halloween. 
 
I remember trick or treating as a child and the fun that I had with my siblings on Halloween.  We loved going door to door and receiving candy treats from our neighbors.

Then, as a young mother, I loved taking our children trick or treating.  The years flew by too fast, but I cherish those memories. 

Each year my children would choose new costumes and each year, we searched for Halloween candy tote bags for them to carry.  They were always so adorable!  Of course, the trick or treat candy tote bags were often as big as my little trick or treaters and by the end of the night, their trick or treat bags seemed to weigh more than they did.  But, we had fun and the collection of Halloween trick or treat tote bags are great reminders of our annual neighborhood walks.

Either of my children would have loved the soft sided plush fabric pumpkin shown on the right.  I really hate they were not available when we needed them.


Choosing the Right Trick or Treat Tote Bag


When I was a little girl, just about everyone carried a plastic pumpkin or a pillow case for their candy on Halloween.  After years of carrying plastic pumpkins that would bump my knees when I walked or having the little handle break and spill all of my candy in someone's front lawn, I finally resorted to carrying a pillowcase.  It wasn't as pretty as my little pumpkins, but it sure was easier on the knees and it held more candy. 

Plastic Pumpkin Tote
Then came the plastic bags with pictures printed on the front.  They were okay.  The looked better than the old pillowcases, but the sticks on the suckers and lollipops would poke through the bags.  As the bag got heavy with candy, the holes would get bigger.  By the time I had finished trick or treating for the night, I was leaving a trail of candy that was, unbeknownst to me, dropping piece by piece from my plastic bag. 

When my daughter started trick or treating, she also carried the little pumpkins or the plastic bags.  By the time her little brother started trick or treating a few years later, we had discovered canvas bags.  

Back then, we decorated our own canvas bags, but now Halloween trick or treat canvas tote bags are pre-made and readily available.  If I had to choose just one, I do believe I would have a very difficult time selecting a Halloween trick or treat tote bag.  Fortunately for me, I do not have to choose just one, because now I use my tote bags to carry groceries, magazines, books, and craft supplies.  I even use a tote bag as a carry-on bag when I fly or as an overnight bag. 

Here are just a few that I have found and really like.  I thought it might be fun to share my favorites with you!



Check Out More Halloween Fun Reviews at
Halloween on Review This!

 

 Trick or Treat Pumpkin Tote Bags for Halloween Written by:

House of Sylvestermouse





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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Review of Worldwide Photo Walk

Worldwide Photo Walk

 Saturday, October 7 was the Scott Kelby World Wide Photo Walk.  This walk sponsored by Kelby One had over 21 thousand participants on 985 walks throughout the world.  As I looked at the map I noted that just over half of the participants were in North America and the rest of the walks were scattered throughout the world.  The stated purpose of the walk is for photographers to go out on a walk, shoot photographs and have fun with other photographers.

The walk will have a contest at the end where everyone is asked to submit one photo from the walk.  The photo at the top of the page is my submission.

Supporting Charity

The participants of the walk are encouraged to donate to The Springs of Hope, a Kenya orphanage.  The organization feeds, houses, educates and empowers young orphans.

View of Barge going down Missouri River

Walk in St. Charles Missouri

The walk that I participated in took place in the historic downtown and the riverfront area of St. Charles.  A group of us (about 15) met at 8:45 Saturday morning at the old train depot on the riverfront.  We were given a bit of guidance from the leader of the walk and then we all gathered for a group photo.
After the group photo we broke into smaller groups and began our walk. The group I was in walked down the riverfront for about a half a mile, talking, laughing and stopping to photograph interesting sites.  

After a while we turned up from the river for a stop at a farmer's market.



Next we followed the itinerary for the walk and walked a block up from the river to historic Main street in St. Charles.


Main Street is a delightful area with cobblestones streets and lots of wonderful old buildings that are turned in to shops and restaurants.  It can get quite busy on a weekend afternoon, but since we were there in the morning the crowds were slim and we were able to get some good shots.  The next photos are the sidewalks and shops along Main Street.



Changing Decor for the Seasons

It is early fall when we are taking our walk and the shop owners have decorated for the season.


Taking a Rest

Our walk lasted just over 2 hours.  Here are a few of the group stopping for a rest on some bundles of hay.  After the walk several of the participants stopped at a local restaurant to enjoy some good food and discuss photography.  It was a fun morning that I enjoyed thoroughly.


Photography Books

I enjoy reading photography books to get ideas from other photographers and to hone my photography skills.  I have found Scott Kelby's digital photography books to be very helpful.  Here is a book he now has with the best of the other books.





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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Grief and Mourning for Those We've Lost

Review This! Is Mourning the Loss Of Our Fellow Contributor, Susan Deppner. 

It's hard to get back in the groove of writing a normal review. Losing Susan has affected me deeply, even though I never got to meet her in person. I felt I knew her better than many of the people I have actually met. When you work together online for years, read each others heartfelt posts, share each other's joys and sorrows, and pray for each other, you form a deep connection. So all of us here at Review This! still have fresh grief from losing Susan last week. 

Encouragement for Those Who Mourn
Photo © B. Radisavljevic


Cancer is a Thief

Cancer has stolen many I have loved from my life. It took both my parents. Dad was gone within days of his diagnosis. Mom had more notice -- a whole eight weeks. I had the privilege of caring for Mom in those weeks with help from Hospice. Here's my story of that time with a tribute to Mom. Being with Mom when she passed into the next life was precious. I wanted to see her off and I did. 

The same kind of cancer that took Susan from us also took one of my very best friends in 2010. A year earlier, the last time I'd seen her, was the previous Christmas. She lived five hours away from us, but we were in the area to see my brother on Christmas Day. 

Sandy and Her Mother Making Mochi Together for the Last Time
Photo © B. Radisavljevic


Sandy invited us to spend the morning and early afternoon before we were due at my brother's sharing a special annual event in the life of her extended family. Sandy's family is Japanese and traditionally met on Christmas each year to make mochi -- something I'd never heard of. I happened to have my camera so I documented the activities for a Squidoo lens that still lives on HubPages: How to Make Mochi. This is not a recipe, but a look into the home of a family that has been making this traditional Japanese food every Christmas to get ready for their New Year's Celebration. It was especially meaningful for us to be included because it was the last time we saw Sandy alive. Ironically, the next year, we attended Sandy's memorial service the day after Christmas. 


Both Susan and Sandy had friends and family who loved them. Both fought hard with faith and hope in their hearts. Both wanted to see their grandchildren grow up. Neither had the opportunity. Both were examples of living out the verse shown on the mugs below.




When God Calls a Loved One Home

We are never really ready for someone we love to leave our lives here on earth. Some leave us suddenly with no warning. Some linger for years fighting an illness like cancer. Maybe we have prayed they would be healed. We wonder why God did not answer that prayer in the way we hoped. Instead we've watched someone we love suffer. Was God not listening?

Many with strong faith, like Susan and Sandy, did not win their battles with cancer. Surely they did not die because they and their praying friends did not have enough faith. Yet some try to lay blame on those very people and tell them they just didn't pray with enough faith.

Edith and Francis Schaeffer founded L'Abri Fellowship, based in Switzerland, to help young people or any others who came to stay in their community find answers to their questions about faith. They were very strong Christians who served God with all they had. Though people all over the world were praying for him, Francis died of cancer.




 During the time Francis was ill, Edith wrote a book about the reasons we have suffering and affliction in our lives as she watched her husband slowly leave her. She helps us grapple with the "Why?" of the pain in our lives. She explains why those prayers for healing may not be answered the way we like.

 I highly recommend this book to all who are trying to understand why they or their loved ones are suffering. I have owned the book for about thirty years now, and I've passed it to many friends who've had cancer and wanted answers. They fought, but they did not all win.

Knowing Why Doesn't Do Much to Make Grief Go Away

Jason's Grave: A friend made the wreath. © B. Radisavljevic
 


I've had my share of grief and bereavement. Both my children preceded me in death. I lost both parents. Our best friend took his own life when he believed cancer would steal his mind. Another very close friend died of cancer in 2013. I should have earned a doctorate in the school of hard knocks for dealing with grief by now. One can and does get through it, but it always leaves an empty place and a scar in the heart. Here's what I've learned through my grieving experiences: How to Grieve and Go on with Life.

Our country music contributor, Barbara Tremblay Cipak, shares part of her grief journey after losing her dad in The Incredible Power of Love. The video she shares there is a fitting end for this post.

Grief and Mourning for Those We've Lost: Encouraging words and help for working through grief
© B. Radisavljevic


Have you lost a loved one recently? What helps you deal with your grief? Feel free to comment or ask questions below. 




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