Monday, August 13, 2018

I Can Only Imagine - Movie Review

The Bart Millard story.
I Can Only Imagine is a movie that was recommended to me by one of the young people I work with. That speaks volumes alone. If one of my work children tells me that a movie meant something to them, I watch it as soon as possible. And I'm here to tell you that you should consider watching it as soon as possible. This is a movie about pain, abuse, life, choices, anger, and eventual forgiveness.

I Can Only Imagine is a movie based on the life of Bart Millard; his abusive father, runaway mother, his hopes and dreams, and the anger that he can't release.


I Can Only Imagine The Movie


Bart Millard is growing up in a rural area. His father is abusive to both Bart and his mother. The abuse is both physical and verbal. Mr. Millard shames his son during what seems like every waking moment - pushing him to follow in his high-school-star football footsteps.

I ache from the irony of an abusive parent pushing a child to be like them.

Mrs. Millard drops Bart off at camp, which becomes the best week of his life. Only to return to find that she has left the family. Leaving Bart to learn to navigate living with his father on his own.

Bart attempts to become a football star too. He outgrows his dad physically. But is still finding his own way as an emerging adult. We hope that he outgrows his dad emotionally. But he waivers and also begins to hurt the ones he loves. 
The Very Best of MercyMe album

Clearly, he eventually finds his way and it leads to the record hit crossover song I Can Only Imagine by the group MercyMe. 

The messages of the story (and song) are far greater than the number of records and movie tickets sold. It is a powerful story of those who struggle, of real relationships, and how to find your way.

Cast: J.Micheal Finley, Dennis Quaid, Trace Adkins, Madeline Carroll, Cloris Leachman and more. 



My Personal Take


This is a Christian movie. Should that keep you away from watching it if that's not "your thing"? No. A resounding no. I probably would best be categorized by others as a non-believer. This movie is full of real human experiences. And how to be a better person. Don't limit yourself based on genre.

This is a movie about redemption.

Redemption:
  • the action of saving or of being saved from sin, evil, or error
  • the action of regaining or gaining possession of something in exchange for payment, or clearing a debt

Which of us don't have debts (the relational debts that are a part of being human) that need to be cleared? 

There are lessons in his story. And one of those lessons are that what we experience as children can be the baggage we carry with us for the remainder of our lives - impacting us in ways we don't want to be impacted.

There are no eloquent tel-prompter type monologues. The conversations are simple and real. Too simple according to some negative reviews. I did not share that opinion. 

In my opinion, people of the Christian faith and things related to that faith are currently the victims of the bullies. I truly believe some of the negative reviews online are based on the reviewer's personal feelings about faith rather than on the movie itself. And interestingly enough, seem to parrot what mean Mr. Millard would have said.

This may not be your cup of tea. That's okay. It definitely touched me. And at least one young person I know, who liked it enough to recommend it. My only complaint is that it wasn't long enough. I wanted more. More details about the journey.

Good thing there is a published memoir by Bart Millard. I'm ordering it today.


The Movie on Amazon





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

Sunday, August 12, 2018

How to Get Your Bed to Look Like a Professional Decorator Made It

Photo Design by Funkthishouse.com
photos via Pixabay
The problem for most of us is that our bedding lacks style, quality and most probably, fluffiness!

If we're being honest, we tend to keep our Comforter/Duvet Sets for much too long without changing them. When we're stuck with the same bedding, we're stuck with the same drab look.

Beyond the bedding color, pattern and design, there are certain items that can give your bedroom a pick-me-up.

Below are a list of basic items or variations of them that you'll need in order for your bed to look like a high priced decorator assembled it.

Duvets Versus Comforters - Which One is Better?

With a Duvet, you buy the fluffy insert separately and it's the quality fluffiness that gives your bed it's professional look. The benefit of buying an insert separately is that you can choose one that's long lasting and of higher quality: The higher the quality the longer it will stay fluffy.

Since it's an insert, you can change the actual duvet cover, and thus the look of your room, anytime you want.

Next you'll want duvet clips to secure the Insert to the Cover so it's free of lumps, bumps and wrinkles.

Comforters are all-in-ones, in that the comforter and insert are one piece thus eliminating the need to buy an insert or duvet clips. Also, they usually come with pillowcases, a comforter, a bed skirt and sometimes bed sheets.

However, the downside to a comforter is that if the quality is lower (and many times they can be), it will lose it's fluffiness and start to look flat on the bed (like a bed sheet does).
Here's an 8 Piece COMFORTER Set (Not a Duvet Set) Rochelle Pinched Pleat Gray Comforter Set QueenHere's an 8 Piece COMFORTER Set (Not a Duvet Set) Rochelle Pinched Pleat Gray Comforter Set Queen
A flat comforter will take away from that professional look you're going for, unless of course you're aiming for a simple almost Japanese look to your room.

Pillows Finish the Bed's Look:

Have you noticed that a bed with a duvet or comforter looks decoratively unfinished with only two pillows on the bed? Especially on a king size bed.

To give a bed that professional decorator look, you'll want to have at least four standard or king size pillows, and then finish the pillow-look with a few decorator pillows.

Bolsters also work. They're a long oval pillow you can use against the bed frame or the wall for the other pillows to lean against.

They do exactly what their name says, 'they bolster' the pillows in front so you have a fuller look of pillows on the bed. If you don't have a bed frame, they're also a way to get pillows off the wall. However, even if I have a bolster, and I do, I still use 4 pillows.

Make sure the pillows are fluffy as well. Flat, over-used pillows will make the bed look drab. So if your pillows aren't fluffy and you can't go out and buy more, put two old pillows, or even three old pillows inside one pillowcase. I've done this several times and it works well.

I've overstuffed the pillowcases at the back, and put two new fluffy pillows at the front. That way I only had to buy two new pillows instead of four, saving a bit of cash while still maintaining that fluffy full look.

Pillowcases, Don't be Afraid to Mix and Match:
With pillowcases you can go two ways. 
Either they can exactly match the duvet or they can be complimentary in pattern and color to the duvet. 
If you have a lot of extra pillow cases, you may already have some that are complimentary with your new duvet thus saving you the expense of having to purchase extra pillowcases. 

Bed Skirts for Duvet and Comforter Sets:
Some people like bed skirts, and some don't. 

My mom isn't a fan of bed skirts, so rather than a duvet or comforter, her bed has a bedspread. A bedspread goes right to the floor to hide the box spring, thus removing the need for a bed skirt. 

However, if you don't like to see any part of the box spring when the bed is unmade, then even with a comforter, you'll want a bed skirt.

Bed Sheets - They Don't Have to Match the Duvet or Comforter
This is misunderstood by many bed makers.

If you already own bedsheets that are complimentary to the duvet/comforter set you purchased, then use them!

That way you can focus on buying the most important elements to making your bed look professional: A high quality duvet insert, duvet clips and at least four pillows, decorator cushions and a bed skirt if you don't already have one.

Use an existing bed skirt if you have one that's complimentary! Again, it doesn't have to match exactly.

Pull it All Together:
  1. You have your fluffy bedding - either a comforter set or a duvet set with a quality insert and duvet clips
  2. You've got a bed skirt to hide the box spring
  3. You've got at least four standard (or King) pillows and a couple of decorative pillows.

However, Making the Bed is Where it Will Get that Final Professional Look:
  1. Fold down the top part of the duvet so the reverse side is showing by about six to twelve inches. You can even fold it down a couple of feet if you have a lot of pillows and you want some of the bed sheets exposed because of their design and quality. However, the standard fold down of the top portion of the duvet/comforter is about one foot.
  2. Pull the wrinkles out of the comforter/duvet
  3. Make sure the comforter/duvet is even all the way around
  4. Details matter, don't let the bed sheets hang past the duvet cover/comforter on the sides or ends. If they're too long, tuck them in

There you have it! Think fluffy and you'll nail it.


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

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Reviewing Arbonne's Focus Blend - An Aromatherapy Blend of Essential Oils

Focus Oil
Purchase here!
I do love using essential oils so when Arbonne released a new blend of essential oils I couldn't wait to see what it smelt like!   Their Focus Oil has a very pleasant fresh & herbacious scent that isn't overpowering or divisive in aroma.

This blend of oils contains basil, rosemary, frankincense, bergamot and lemon.   The combination of these oils helps to clear the mind and uplift your emotions which is perfect for increasing your focus and productivity.

I have been using it in a diffuser while my daughter studies (she's in her last year of high school).  Now I think her attitude has changed as she's been more diligent even before I got the focus blend, however she does seem to be able to concentrate a lot easier since I started using the blend and is really excelling with her assignments.

So why these particular oils?


Basil oil is great for clearing the head as well as being uplifting, let's face it when we're happier we can concentrate better so this is a good start for the blend.  Don't take my word for it though according to Robert Tisserand (The Art of Aromatherapy) basil oil 'clears the head, relieves intellectial fatigue, and gives the mind strength and clarity.'   He goes on to say that the oil is ' uplifting, clarifying and strengthening.'

Now we add Rosemary oil to the blend.  Rosemary has traditionally been used for memory and is also a classic remedy for headaches and migraines.  I think this makes it ideal for use when we need to focus on something as that can lead to headaches so another great addition to this Focus blend.

Frankincense was one of the most highly prized substances of the ancient world hence the offering of frankincense by the Magi to the infant Jesus.  Although in centuries past frankincense has been revered for it's skin care preparations it also has an elevating and soothing effect on the mind and emotions.

Bergamot doesn't really seem to help with focus and concentration as such, but it is one of the more uplifting oils and is regularly used to help with depression and states of anxiety.  I think the inclusion in this blend is because of it's uplifting qualities.   You can concentrate on things a lot easier and your mind stays a lot clearer if you're happier than if you're sad.

Lemon is another oil that is uplifting - all of the citrus oils seem to promote happy feelings.

When to Use the Focus Blend

Anytime you need to focus or concentrate on something you'll find that the Focus Blend is ideal so whether you're writing a blog post, a proposal for work, studying for an exam or trying to balance the books - Focus Oil is the one for you!

Another time when I would be using this blend of oils is on a long car trip.  You can easily buy car diffusers these days and I would definitely advise investing in one if you travel alot.  This blend can keep you focused on long journeys or if driving home from work after a long day.

If you don't have a car diffuser you can still use the oil in a car, back when I first discovered the power of aromatherapy I couldn't find an affordable car diffuser so I simply placed a few drops of oil on a handkerchief (or even a tissue on occasion) and attached it over the air vents of the car.
You can also use this oil in the home when you feel people need more focus or clarity, like if they're suffering from grief, depression, recuperating from sickness.

If you're an anxious person, or you have an important meeting, event and are nervous about it then you could use a few drops of the focus blend in an aromatherapy necklace or on a tissue in your pocket to sniff throughout the day/ before the meeting.

Could You Use Some Focus Blend in Your Life?


I definitely have days when my mind feels like it has about 50 browser windows open and a 100 sticky notes stuck all over it so I really do need to use the focus blend in order to get things done!  I'd love to know if you need this oil or not.


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

Friday, August 10, 2018

Reviewing & Photographing The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum in Piggott, Arkansas

The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum in Piggott, Arkansas


Reviewing & Photographing The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum in Piggott, Arkansas
The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum in Piggott, Arkansas
Photo by Cynthia Sylvestermouse
Touring and photographing Ernest Hemingway's "home" and studio in Piggott, Arkansas was a fabulous way to spend a day, and a wonderful memory.  The house actually belonged to the Pfeiffer family, but it was "home" to Hemingway when he was in Piggott.

I admit, while I have read several books by Ernest Hemingway, he is far down my list of favorite authors, but he is on the list.  He is also one of my husband's favorite authors.   When we discovered we could tour his home in Arkansas, we were definitely up for the adventure.  

Prior to visiting The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum, I didn't know a lot about Hemingway's personal life.  I was in for a lot of shocking details!  We were basically given a private tour of the home and our tour guide was extremely knowledgeable.  Because we were the only two people there, we asked lots of questions and I had plenty of opportunities to take pictures.   Expecting to be in for a real treat, I had packed two cameras and all of my lenses.  I am really glad I did.  It turned out that I needed them all to get the shots I wanted! 

The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum Home in Poggott, Arkansas - Ernest Hemingway - Photo by Cynthia Sylvestermouse



Ernest Hemingway & Pauline Pfeiffer


Reviewing & Photographing The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum in Piggott, Arkansas
Ernest Hemingway & Pauline Pfeiffer
Photo by Cynthia Sylvestermouse
Our guide give us a great deal of historical detail.  It was clear that she greatly admired Pauline Pfeiffer.  She bragged to us about how Pauline Pfeiffer was a journalist for Vogue magazine in Paris, France.  It was there that Pauline met Ernest Hemingway and his wife.  According to our guide, Hemingway was immediately enamored with Pfeiffer and they engaged in an affair.  When Hemingway told his wife that he was in love and wanted to marry Pauline, she suggested that he take some time to think about it.  If he wanted a divorce so he could marry Pfeiffer, she would grant him the divorce.  And, so it was...

Pauline and Ernest married in France that following spring.  When Pauline discovered she was pregnant, they moved to Piggott, Arkansas to live with Pauline's family and to await the birth of their child.  That home is now a part of  The Hemingway-Pfeiffer museum.  It is also the place where Hemingway wrote parts of "A Farewell to Arms" in the barn studio located on the property.  



The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum House & Home

Reviewing & Photographing The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum
Stickley Chair in The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum
Photo by Cynthia Sylvestermouse

By today's standards, you might not think the house is very big.  However, I have no doubt it was considered quite large in Piggott during the late 20's & 30's when the wealthy Pheiffer family owned it.  

Much of the furniture in the home today, was furniture owned by the Pfeiffers and in use when Hemingway was there.  That alone, makes the tour very interesting.  I could easily imagine Ernest Hemingway sitting in this front room with a romantic fire.

Apparently, the Pheiffers loved Stickley furniture as much as we do!  This is the front room on the right as you enter the Pfeiffer home.

If you look carefully, you will see that the photo of Ernest & Pauline is sitting on the end table.  Of course, I had to take a close-up photo of the couple.

 Reviewing & Photographing The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum in Piggott, Arkansas
Front Room of The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum
Photo by Cynthia Sylvestermouse

On the left, as you enter the home, is a grand piano.  The comfortable chair would certainly be inviting to sit and listen to an accomplished pianist.  

Photos from The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum taken by Cynthia Sylvestermouse
The Grand Piano in The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum
Photo by Cynthia Sylvestermouse

The stairs to the bedrooms is directly across from the front door.  You could literally run through the front door and up the stairs if you desired.  Again, I could easily imagine Ernest Hemingway doing that very thing.  Then calling out to Pauline as he reached the landing at the top of the stairs, all excited about news of a new hunt.

Reviewing & Photographing The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum
Stairs in The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum Home
Photo by Cynthia Sylvestermouse



The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum photo by Cynthia Sylvestermouse
Top of the Stairs at The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Home
Photo by Cynthia Sylvestermouse


Prayer Room in The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum


I found it extremely interesting the Pauline Pfeiffer's mother, Mary Pfeiffer, had a prayer room in her home.  Our guide explained that Mary required a prayer room since there was no Catholic church close by to attend and she was a devout Irish Catholic.  

The existing prayer room was set up to look like Mary Pfeiffer's prayer room.  She had a real altar there, but it is currently being used by a church.  You can see the real altar in a photo that is sitting on the makeshift altar.


Prayer Room in The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum - Photo by Cynthia Sylvestermouse
Mary's Prayer Room in the Pfeiffer Home
Photo by Cynthia Sylvestermouse

Mary also had a quilt closet upstairs. This was probably my favorite room. Not because of the room itself, but because of the story of the room. According to our guide, the Pfeiffer's were surrounded by people who had very little.  Many of the women of the community would quilt and sell their quilts just to get by.  Mary Pfeiffer never refused to buy the quilts.  She stored them in this room and when they were needed, she gave them away.  

Of all of the people I heard about the day of our tour, I think I would have liked Pauline Pfeiffer's mother, Mary, the most.

Reviewing & Photographing The Hemingway Pfeiffer Museum in Piggott, Arkansas
Mary Pfeiffer's Quilt Room
Photo by Cynthia Sylvestermouse

The Display Case Held Ernest Hemingway's Autograph


One of my favorite photos was taken upstairs in one of the bedrooms.   There was a display case that contained a book from the Hotel Taube in Schruns, Austria.  This book was not interesting because it was an alpine skiing manual, but because it held Ernest Hemingway's autograph in the upper right corner.  The glass display case sits right under a window, which is why you see the curtain details reflected in the photo.


Reviewing & Photographing The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum
Alpine Skiing Manuel from Hotel Taube
Photo by Cynthia Sylvestermouse
Ernest Hemingway's Autograph - Photo by Cynthia Sylvestermouse
Ernest Hemingway's Autograph
Photo by Cynthia Sylvestermouse




There were several other rooms in the home and I have lots of pictures, but I chose some of my favorites to share with you today.  Perhaps, one day soon you can tour the home for yourself and see it all in person.  


Reviewing & Photographing The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum in Piggott, Arkansas

 

The Ernest Hemingway Barn-Studio in Piggott, Arkansas


Apparently, the upstairs studio of the barn was Ernest Hemingway's place of solace and the place where he went to write.  

Due to the time of day, I was not able to get a great shot of the exterior of the barn-studio.  As you can see, I was staring straight into the sun.  

Hemingway's studio was located up the stairs on the right.

Hemingway Barn-Studio at Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum - Photographed and Reviewed by Sylvestermouse
Hemingway's Barn-Studio
Photo by Cynthia Sylvestermouse



I'm not pro big-game hunting and I really hated what I saw inside the studio.  It truly put a damper on my day and I admit, I stopped listening to the guide for a while.  However, I will still share the photos with you. 

Ernest Hemingway's Barn Studio
Hemingway's Barn-Studio
Photo by Cynthia Sylvestermouse

 Stove in Hemingway Barn-Studio Game Table in Hemingway Barn-Studio



No doubt, I would have been better prepared to hear the stories that day of Ernest Hemingway's life if I had read any of the books featured below.  


 

 

 See More Photography Reviews On
ReviewThis!

 

House of Sylvestermouse





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

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Fastest Things on Wings - Book Review

 Fastest Things on Wings Book Review
She huddles over the ice-cold, lifeless body wondering if any resuscitation effort can make a difference at this point.  It appears that Gabriel is gone, but Terry tries one last-ditch attempt to revive him.  While tenderly cupping the tiny hummingbird in her hands, Terry gently bathes Gabriel in the warmth of her breath, in the heat of her life-giving essence.  Against all odds, Gabriel responds with a twitch of the teeniest of feet.  And so the real work, magic, and mystery of rehabilitation begins.  Though the healing journey will be long and arduous, Gabriel is fortunate to have landed in the hands of Terry Masear, the miracle-worker you would want if you were an injured or desperate hummer fighting for your life.

To read Masear's Fastest Things on Wings: Rescuing Hummingbirds in Hollywood, is to enter the mesmerizing world of the astonishing hummingbird, along with gaining a deep sense of gratitude and reverence for the extremely rare individuals who choose to give all that they've got to save the lives of these magnificent creatures.  This book is far more than a fascinating chronicle of what it takes to rescue and rehab a day-old nestling the size of a bumblebee.  It is truly a love letter to be cherished by each of us who has ever known the romance of being in the presence of a hummingbird's majesty.  The rescue stories shared provide glimpses into both the human heart and the heretofore misunderstood, or unknown, nature of the world's mightiest warrior on wings.

Though seemingly fearless, Masear's patients reveal a tenderness and vulnerability few people ever get to witness.  Take Pepper and Gabriel, for instance — two birds that had previously experienced the kind of dazzling flight not even known by the highly vaunted Blue Angels.  Pepper and Gabriel could fly backwards, upside down, in a 360-degree spin or barrel roll, and dive at the speed of 385 body lengths per second.  As Masear notes, the grounded hummingbird, the one with serious back or wing injuries, is the one that often elicits the greatest heartache in the rehabber.

"Young hummingbirds like Pepper who have lost everything at such an early age hit me hard, even after all of the tragedies I have seen in rehab.  Their memory of flight and overpowering desire to float freely again drive every fiber of their being and make me want desperately to help."

As we accompany Masear on her daily rehab rounds tending to hummingbird victims, we meet birds that have somehow survived being driven down the Los Angeles freeway at speeds in excess of 70 miles per hour, while trapped under flapping windshield wipers, for over 90 minutes, plus victims of limousine windshield collisions, and birds trapped in sky-diving wind tunnels, along with victims of encounters with cats, dogs, tree-trimmers, soccer nets, and hummingbirds injured by both their own species and the human species.

You are sure to develop an affection for Brad, Iris, Pepper, Gabriel, and any number of other rehab patients.  These extraordinary hummingbirds teach us all vital lessons about nurturing others, about the nuances of healing both body and spirit, and about the powerful connections that defy previously held notions about the relationships that are possible between humans and hummingbirds.  You don't have to be involved in animal rescue or rehabilitation to appreciate the intricacy of Masear's ministrations to the baby hummers she affectionately calls the "naked babies" (newborns), the "bobbleheads," or the "dinofuzz."

But, if you happen to have previously engaged in saving the life of a precious animal, this book is likely to touch your heart in unforgettable ways.  It is now the height of hummingbird season where I live.  I found this to be the perfect time to immerse myself in Masear's mission to help all hummers not only survive, but thrive.  Though I have read volumes about hummingbirds in my quest to know as much as possible about these birds that I adore, I was delighted to gain so many new insights.  I highly recommend this book.  It is the type of tribute to beautiful creatures, and their loving champions, that will bathe your spirit with life-giving warmth.








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

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

10 Spices That Are So Easy to Grow & Great in Recipes

Whether you are a seasoned gardener or a beginner, there are so many spices that are so easy to grow!  Let's review some of these spices and maybe they might help trigger some creative cooking too!

spices, easy to grow, spice bible, tasty cooking, review, flavor bible

Gardening is about enjoying what you and the earth can produce.  Nothing tastes as good as fresh from the garden.  That's why many people decide to go out to the country on the weekends to stock up on fresh from the farm goodness.

Having a spice garden is relatively easy and when it really starts to grow, it can become bountiful.  What a tasty treat for all your home cooked meals.  Let's get on to the list of easy to grow and great to enjoy spices that are just a few steps away from the kitchen.


10 of the Most Used and useful spices:


1.  Parsley:  either curly or flat leafed.  Wonderful for dressing up salads, potatoes, stews, and more.

2.  Chives:  Great with stuffed baked potatoes, salads, soups and more.

3.  Peppers:  These can be hot (hotter than Hades) or sweet as in bell peppers.  Some can be used for a meal as a vegetable and others for spicing things up.  Be careful, some of the peppers that are being grown today are so hot, you need to handle them with rubber gloves.

4.  Basil:  There are several varieties of Basil, from large Green Leafed Basil, to Purple Basil and even small leafed basil.  One thing is certain, tomatoes with fresh basil is a little bit of heaven right here on earth.

5.  Dill:  Great for making home made pickles, but also added to salads it adds just a little bit of a different taste sensation.

6:  Cilantro:  This is one spice that you either love or dislike(dare I say "hate").  It depends totally on your own taste buds.  Some people when eating anything with cilantro will taste a "soapy" flavor.  They are sure not to like this spice.  But others find cilantro to be refreshing with a crisp clear taste!  Great in salads and stews, soups and even sandwiches.

7:  Mint:  There are all kinds of mints available and all of them are really easy to grow.  Some might even be considered invasive.  Mints can be used in cooking as well as making teas (hot or cold) to enjoy on a hot summer's day.

8:  Sage:  Pretty in green or purple sage has a very strong flavor that will pack a punch of flavor in your cooking.

9:  Oregano:  Easy to grow and will often overwinter.  A great spice for all Italian dishes from spaghettis to pizza.  Added to soups and stews it adds a lot of flavor with a tangy zesty taste.

10: Rosemary:  this spice is easy to grow and can be used not only for cooking but as a decorative plant.  It prunes really easy and can be used as small topiaries.  This spice is great for lamb and grilled or roasted vegetables.  Taken indoors for the winter months, it will continue to grow without any problems.

This is my list of 10 favorites, but there are so many more and each one will add a dimension to your cooking that you may not have realized yet.  Below you will find a "cookbook" to help you make the most of the spices you grow yourself and the ones that you need to purchase because they just need a climate that we don't have.  Either way, home grown spices will definitely make you think twice about the way you cook and the way you enjoy your meals with your family.


Guide to Using Spices


If you are looking for help in pairing spices to make your recipes pop and sizzle, then I would highly recommend this Cookbook!  I use the term "Cookbook" with a certain amount of caution, it is not so much a "cookbook" as a real guide to using spices in combinations that will make your food preparation and your family's taste buds sing.


With a rating of 4.5 stars from Amazon, and over 1,000 verified purchases (mine included), I know that you will enjoy this addition to your cookbook collection!  As with many books today, there is a "Kindle" edition.  Alas, the Kindle version does not get very good ratings at all. (This decline in ratings I'm sure dropped this from a 5 star to 4.5 star rating) With the Kindle book, there is not the same ability to skip to other pages easily and quickly.   Some books just need to be in a paper version!

This truly is a REFERENCE BOOK  that every kitchen should have.  You will use it more often than you ever thought possible.


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

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Project MC2 Spy Bag Reviewed

Fun Spy Kit For Little Girls

spy camera
Spy camera image courtesy of Pixabay.com
Last weekend my granddaughter and her mommy came for a visit. The Project MC2 Spy bag came with them so that Grandma and her budding little secret agent girl could play together. We play a lot of things when she comes but currently she is really into playing detective and spy type make believe. She has quite the imagination and Grandma is thoroughly entertained!

Project MC2 (pronounced project MC squared) is a web television series featured on Netflix that encourages girls to have a growing interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathmatics). OK, so I already love it! Their logo has the words "smart is the new cool" and you know that I love that, too! The series is based around the adventures of McKayla McAlister and her best friends who are agents for the NOV8 (innovate) organization. Young girls are entertained in each episode with the various assignments of these very smart young teens while being exposed to how cool and helpful the various aspects of STEM can be. 

When little McKenna came into the house carrying a plastic bag that looked like a pink quilted purse, I commented that I liked her new handbag. She winked, grinned and replied, "It is a special purse that I bought with my very own money. Wait until you see what is inside, Grandma!" After they were all settled in, she opened her bag for me. Oh my goodness what fun things were inside!

The shimmery make-up doubles as fingerprint powder. The lipstick has a secret compartment that can launch messages when you need to. The compact has a fake mirror that swings out to provide a magnifying glass when needed. The perfume bottle can act as an air blower when squeezed. Oh the fun we had using these tools to find clues and help save the world last weekend!

As a mother of two daughters, I repeated the motto of Smurfette on a regular basis: "Girls can do anything!" As a Grandmother, I am thrilled that my granddaughters are being encouraged further by their own mothers and society to be all that their hearts call them to be. I love that they are being given the message that being smart is a cool thing to be and that their gender is not inferior. It lightens my heart to think that when they are grown women perhaps true equality will be a reality no matter the race or gender that a person is. I believe the real change will come from children being given the examples and beliefs that we are all equal in our abilities rather than any laws that have been or might be passed. It is perception that will make the biggest difference, in my humble opinion. Sorry, I guess I stepped up on a soapbox for a minute.

Suffice it to say, I love this little toy and the series that encourages little girls to be curious, to be interested in science and to use their brains to solve problems. If you have a little girl in your life, you might consider introducing them to Project MC2 if they are not already aware of it. I think they will love it and that you will too.



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Monday, August 6, 2018

Mosaics By Maria Review

Looking for mosaic tiles? Glass tiles in the size, shape and color needed for your mosaic tile or glass projects can be difficult to find whether it be an online merchant or bricks and mortar store.

Quality glass tile can be difficult to obtain as brick and mortar stores which carry a wide selection, are very tough to find even in large cities.



I have tried more than a few tile sources and always return to the tried and true online store of Mosaics By Maria.When I was learning to create mosaic tile projects it was my teacher/mentor who referred me to Mosaics By Maria and it was a wise recommendation indeed.


Variety Of Mosaic Tiles


Mosaic tilers and stained glass artists know how much labor is involved with crafting pieces requiring small intricate glass cuts. Pieces take hours to make and the less time nipping glass the better!

Mosaics By Maria offers rectangles, squares, mini rectangles, skinnies in a variety of sizes between 1 inch and 1/4 inch; cut with accuracy for a clean and straight edge. For those of us who tend to wander when attempting to cut a straight line these tiles are perfect for backgrounds as is or can be easily nipped to adjust the size.



Off Cut Mosaic Tiles


Off cut tiles are the remnants or scraps from the cutting of tiles from large glass sheet. Mosaics By Maria always has a large selection of off cuts sold in bulk. The off cuts are all shapes and sizes which are a must have if you tile regularly. I love the off cuts in white and black as these are colors always needed when tiling and the off cuts are a nice saving for your time, tile budget and preventing tiler elbow!


Glass Tile Sheets Offer Convenience


Smaller glass sheets are also available and the main attraction is the smaller size! Glass sheets from commercial suppliers are usually large and difficult to manage for the hobby tiler. The glass sheets must be cut down multiple times before the glass can be sized to a smaller home mosaic pieces. Mosaics By Maria offers 6 inch square glass sheets which are easy to store and easy to use.
I like to use the sheets for projects such as Chauncey The Lion.



Chauncey is made with abstract cuts from a glass sheet to form the lion.



Giraffe Mom made with pre-cut tiles in squares and rectangles nipped to size.



Turning Your Dog Into A Mosaic Tile


Yes, I turned my dog into a mosaic tile as a Christmas gift for Grandma Dog. It may seem a bit overwhelming for a novice tiler to transform a pet into a mosaic tile, but I promise a DIY er can do it. If you are interested in turning your dog or cat (fish, gerbil, rabbit!)into a mosaic tile, I provide a tutorial here.




This project was a combination of using pre cut square tiles and a glass sheet cut abstractly for the background.


Recommendation

I highly recommend Mosaics By Maria for quality mosaic tiles. My orders have always been shipped quickly, the orders have been accurate and I love the selection of pre-cut tiles to meet all your mosaic tiling needs. Always a pleasure to support a company or service which delivers as promised.


My Favorite Tile Nipper


I'm frequently asked what tile nipper I would recommend. I have definitely tried quite a few and always go back to one of the most affordable nippers which performs well consistently. I have found the Roberts/q.e.p. Glass Tile Nipper far outperforms the much more expensive tile nippers.







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

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Magnetic Therapy for Relief and General Wellness

For More Than Twenty Years, Before It Was Even Fashionable, Our Family Has Been Using Magnetic Relief Products

What seems like ions ago, my brother introduced me to magnetic therapy. My first thought was, what in the heck is that, followed by, laughter.

But my Bro had the last laugh after he demonstrated what magnetic energy could do for my body.
He repeatedly spun the magnetics on a small handheld item called a MagDuo for about ten minutes, in the air, around my body, and up and down my arms.
But before doing that he had me stand with my arms out and asked me to reach my arm back as far as I could. After the air around my body had increased magnetic energy, he asked me to try to reach my arm back again, and I couldn't believe that my arm went further back by what seemed like an entire foot! Essentially it increased my range of motion. I can see why golfers love it!

Thus began my learning about the benefits of magnetic therapy.

Of course, I'm not a doctor, and the research I undertook was from reading and talking to others who used the products. What I learned about magnetic therapy was amazing.

What Magnetic Therapy is and What it Isn't
  1. It's not a cure for anything
  2. It's wellness therapy
  3. It provides relief to an area, or the body in general
  4. The results are similar to Acupuncture
  5. Magnetic energy apparently clears your Meridians
  6. It's said to increases blood flow to an area
  7. It's considered prevention as well
  8. Don't put magnets on a fresh injury (As an example, a sprain), Ice is always best first to draw blood away from the area, then about 24 to 48 hours later you could consider applying magnetics. Remember magnetics draw blood to an area, and you don't want blood drawn to an area that has a fresh injury. 
  9. All Magnetic Products are not created equal. The Magnetic Gauss (the measurement of magnetic flux density - magnetic induction) matters. Be sure to research the company selling the product to ensure they're not fly-by-night. We use Nikken magnetic products and have never used another brand or type. Nikken has been in business since about 1989.
Dr. Oz Explains Magnetics Much Better than I Can:


What I find hilarious about all of this is that we've been using Magnets since the late 1990's and back then I remember receiving many snarky-giggling comments from nay-sayers, and today it's basically accepted.

Ha figures.

To understand how magnetics work on our body, it's best to watch the above video.

I LOVE My Magnetic Necklace! Nikken Perfect Link II Magnetic Necklace, Perfect for All Occasion (Silver)I LOVE My Magnetic Necklace! Nikken Perfect Link II Magnetic Necklace, Perfect for All Occasion (Silver)
The Magnetic Products We've Used for Over 20 Years
  1. Magnetic Insoles for shoes
  2. Every bedroom in our home has a Magnetic Mattress Pad or Magnetic Blanket, or a Ceramic Reflecting Blanket on the bed
  3. We have magnetic wraps for elbows, wrists and knees
  4. I've worn a magnetic necklace for over 20 years (I've gone through 3 of them - it relieves my neck tension)
There are many additional magnetic relief products available that I couldn't possibly list here. Some are, bracelets, pet pads, sleeping masks (that mask is awesome!)… there's so many more. If you do a search you'll see the list is practically endless.

For me, I feel as though magnetics slowed down the onset of an auto-immune condition that I was diagnosed with in 2016. By slowed down, I mean, it's quite possible I could have had this condition show up ten years earlier based on the extensive history of auto-immune diseases in my family.

So many of my family members have been struggling with a variety of auto-immune diseases for decades, long before I had the issue show up. My problems didn't show until my late 50's, so in that sense I was lucky. But I want to stress that there's no hard proof to support my belief that magnetics slowed the onset, it's just something I feel.

There's a saying I heard about using magnets: "May you never know what you prevented".

Of course, you should always consult a doctor before starting a new therapy. However, don't be surprised if your doctor isn't into magnetic therapy. Many aren't, although I do believe there's a paradigm shift coming.



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

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Baseball and the Star-Spangled Banner

Baseball Sports Decor Wall Hanging
Reviewing how the Star-Spangled Banner became associated with sports. 

September 14, 2014, marked the 200th anniversary of the “Star-Spangled Banner”.  

It originally was a poem called "Defence of Fort M'Henry" written by Francis Scott Key 0n 9-14-1814 after witnessing the bombardment of Fort McHenry during the War of 1812. Key was inspired by the American victory and by seeing the American flag flying over the fort.  The poem was later set to music and published under the name “The Star- Spangled Banner”.

The song gained popularity throughout the 1800s and was played by bands during public events.  On July 27, 1889, Secretary of the Navy Benjamin Tracy made it the official tune to be played at the raising of the flag. 

In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson ordered that "The Star-Spangled Banner" be played at military and other appropriate occasions. 

And on March 3,1931 President Herbert Hoover signed a law officially adopting “The Star-Spangled Banner” as America's National Anthem.


How Did Our National Anthem Become Associated with Sports?



The National Anthem
So, how did the song become associated with baseball?  It happened during the 1918 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Boston Red Sox.  A band had been hired by the Red Sox owner for each game in the World Series and, as a tribute to enlisted players and other soldiers in Europe during WWI, they played “The Star-Spangled Banner” during the seventh inning stretch.  The song was many years away from becoming our national anthem, but players still stood at attention and saluted the flag during the performance.  Servicemen in the crowd found themselves cheering and everyone burst into applause at the end of the song.  

Near the end of that World Series, the tune was played before the first pitch at Fenway Park and it was the beginning of a tradition that became a baseball game standard during World War II.  Eventually the playing of the American National Anthem became a custom adopted by other American sports and continues to this day.

This reminds me of that oldest of baseball jokes: "What are the last two words of the national anthem? Play ball!" 

Baseball American Flag Toddler Shirt on Etsy




(c) Wednesday Elf, the Review This! Baseball Contributor





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