Saturday, December 14, 2019

7 Ways to Maximize Space and Get Your Home Organized

7 Ways to Maximize Space in a Small Home or Apartment

With the New Year approaching, you'll soon be into cleaning and organizing again.

If you're like me, you may already be thinking ahead to a few changes you want to make to maximize the square footage in your home.

Let's review some creative ideas:

1. Chairs that Convert to a Bed

That's right; there are chairs that fold open and turn into a bed. These are ideal for small apartments or small rooms where you need a place for company to crash. Here are some examples of various styles; some unfold, some fold down, and others sit and fold directly onto the floor.

2. End Tables That Double as a Pet Crate

These are especially handy for smaller homes. They're an excellent solution for apartment dwellers with pets. They range in style, design, and color. Put one or two on either side of the couch, and you now have a place for the fur babies and coffee tables all in one piece.

3. Plano Storage Unit for Crafts and Supplies

Wednesday Elf from ReviewThisReviews discusses how she uses the Plano Storage Unit to organize her crafting supplies. If you're not interested in spending too much money but need an efficient organizational unit, this one works. We use these as well. Ours is in the basement, holding our Christmas decorations. They're also handy in garages.

4. Elaborate Ways to Use Space Under a Staircase

If renovations and a good-sized budget are in your organizational future, check out these design ideas for using space under the stairs; a reading nook, a washroom, extra sleeping space, a playroom, a dog house, and the list goes on.

5. Space Saving Table and Chairs

These aren't your grandmother's table and chairs, although some of those were pretty nice. Today's space-saving tables come in a wide variety of colors, shapes, sizes, and designs: There are the standard folding leaf tables, chairs the tuck directly under each part of the table, bench type seats, and more. These are the perfect solution for a tiny kitchen or enclosed porch and balcony.

6. Creating Additional Storage in a Bedroom

Here you'll find five suggestions on how you can add more storage space to the bedroom. My personal favorite is the bed skirt organizer. It's an actual bed skirt with plastic storage inserts for both sides. If you don't want to see the clutter in the bed skirt, add a bedspread that covers it, or put a cloth bed skirt over it. Other suggestions include a bedside cubby that stores items and fits under the mattress, ottoman storage, over-the-door storage units, and under-the-bed storage.

7. Loft Beds for Adults

Check out these funky designs. Living in an apartment in a city usually means that the square footage is minimal. If that's the case, you'll want to consider one of these lofts. Designs vary with some featuring desks, a table and seating area, and daybeds. Going vertical solves the small space problem, and these designs do precisely that.


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Reviewing Lego City People Pack #60202

As you can probably tell Lego City is my favorite of all the Lego themes, but there is often a drawback to them - a lack of minifigures.   This is particularly true in the Lego City Airport.   Sometimes buying minifigs can be expensive which is why I'm so happy that Lego City have started to make People Packs.

LEGO City People Pack – Outdoors Adventures 60202 Building Kit (164 Pieces)
Lego City People pack Outdoors Adventures Building Kit #60202 on Amazon


There's more than one Lego City People Pack available, but I've decided to review set number 60202 - the Outdoors Adventures Building Kit.  Let's have a look inside the box ...

What Do You Get With the Lego City People Pack - Outdoors Adventures Building Kit?


Say Cheese! and check out the egg, isn't it cute?
The main thing is 14, yes 14 Lego people aka minifigures!   There are a few other neat things in the set as well though including a very cool tent, dinghy, rock face, motorcycle and eagle!   As a photographer I also love the camera.

This really is an exceptional way to build your minifig collection up and is a great addition to other Lego City sets.

Pieces of note include the motorcycle which has thicker wheels than usual as it's a dirt bike so is really cool.   The baby minifig is just cute and you don't see many baby minifigs, in fact this is the only one I can recall seeing.   The eagle is a lovely touch as well (although I'll admit I do love birds in general so I may be a little biased!)

If this set doesn't appeal to you definitely keep your eyes out for the other Lego City People Packs as they are a must buy once you have a few other Lego City sets.   A perfect way to keep all of your Lego City more playable, different characters means different scenarios so let your child's imagination run away with them.

Happy building and maybe I'll bump into you in the Lego section of the toy store!

More Lego City Set Reviews



Lego City AirportReviewing Lego City Airport
Fancy going on a trip? Lego City Airport is the gateway to destinations around the world so why not visit and let your imagination run wild.


Lego City Fire Station ReviewLego City Fire Engine Review
All Lego Cities around the world need a fire station and this one is where the heroes of Lego City work out of to keep citizens safe and to even rescue Mr Muffins from a tree!


Reviewing Lego City Construction SiteReviewing Lego City Construction Site
Lego City is full of hustle and bustle as it swells in size, there always seems to be more buildings being done which is what keeps the Lego City Construction Site so busy and hard at work.






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Friday, December 13, 2019

A Very Nutty Christmas Movie Review

A Charming Christmas Movie starring Melissa Joan Hart and Barry Watson

A Very Nutty Christmas Movie Review
Earlier this week, I found an absolutely adorable Christmas movie to watch that I had never seen before.  I selected it solely because Melissa Joan Hart was playing the main character, a baker in a small town.  I also have an affinity for Nutcrackers, so the movie seemed perfect for me.

I'll tell you in advance, the Amazon description of the movie is rather misleading.  It says she "awakes on Christmas day to find a handsome soldier who might be the Nutcracker Prince".  Not true!  She awakes to the Nutcracker Prince in her home several days before Christmas.  Getting the proper chronology of events is pretty important! After all, the Nutcracker Prince helps her rediscover the joy of Christmas  BEFORE Christmas day. 

Also, the word "nutty" in the title made me think the movie would be funny.  While there were definitely times of lighthearted laughter, I wouldn't call it funny. The "nutty" clearly refers to the Nutcracker and not humor.

Now that we have set the record straight, allow me to tell you about "A Very Nutty Christmas" and why I would recommend it for your holiday viewing.


A Very Nutty Christmas Movie Synopsis


 A Very Nutty ChristmasCheck PriceKate is overwhelmed by the work load and orders coming into her bakery during the Christmas season.  She needs the money, but she also requires help to complete her orders in time.  With thousands of cookies to bake in 6 days, Kate and her friends turned co-workers have their work cut out for them.

When Kate's boyfriend breaks up with her, her stress level intensifies.  Even though she truly needs a reprieve, cookies must be baked and delivered.  When Kate drops off multiple shipments of cookies at the post office, she accepts an invitation to walk home with her neighbor. Along the way, they chat, share Christmas woes, and stop off at several outdoor vendor tables set up in town. 

It is in one of those temporary Christmas booths that Kate meets Randolf Drosselmeyer who gifts Kate with a special Nutcracker.  The following morning Kate wakes to find a live Nutcracker laying on her living room floor.  She mistakenly believes he is a holiday "houseshare" guest who is renting her spare room for a few days and is in town for the "Nutcracker" ballet presentation.  Then the fun begins!

When he visits her bakery, she discovers his unusual talent for cracking walnuts.  An ability she can definitely use since her nut cracking machine chose this season to break.  She immediately puts him to work.  Over the next few days, they have a variety of activities they share that include caroling, ice skating, a Christmas ball, and the ballet.  Without realizing it, Kate is rediscovering the joy of Christmas while in the company of the real Nutcracker.  


Conclusion


This is truly an enchanting story, perhaps we would liken it to a fairy tale, that is a sheer delight to watch.  I wasn't quite sure what to make of the ending, but otherwise I found this to be a pretty good movie.
I recommend the movie for a reprieve from your own holiday workload and a reminder to stop and have fun this Christmas season.






If you are seeking a sweet, enjoyable movie this year for Christmas, be sure to watch A Very Nutty Christmas.


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A Very Nutty Christmas Movie Review by:
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Thursday, December 12, 2019

Book Review- The School of Essential Ingredients

Are you looking for a good book to read that is just a bit different?  The School of Essential Ingredients has a delightful main character, an interesting take on cooking and a look into the lives of a wide variety of cooking students.
Apples are one of my Favorite Basic Ingredients

When our book club picked this book to read for the monthly meeting, I was not sure if I would like it.  I enjoy a good mystery or historical fiction and this book did not fit into either of these molds.  However, it only took me one chapter to get hooked on this book.  The author has such an interesting way of writing that I instantly got involved in the book.

Lillian, the main character owns a restuarant and conducts a cooking school in the back rooms.  She has a very unique way of cooking that instantly got me interested.  She didn't use recipes but rather concentrated on the basic ingredients for each dish and explored with her students how to make the most of the ingredients.  Lillian surely was a true artist when it came to her cooking.  She had a way of making everything magical and made me want to get in my kitchen and experiment.

The book is set up with a chapter for each student of the cooking class.  As the dish for that evening is explored we also learn a little bit about each of the students and why they came to the class to start with.  Each student had their own story and they were a very diverse group.  Lillian not only had a way with the food but also with each of her students.  She seemed to bring out the best in people and helped them to explore the situations in their lives.

                                                             
I don't want to spoil the story line for you.  But I will tell you if you enjoy cooking and reading you must try this book.  I highly recommend it.


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Wednesday, December 11, 2019

My Christmas Confession! Heart Warming Stories Make Me Happy!

Yes, I have a confession to make.  

Since my husband and I decided to get into Amazon Prime, my Television watching has increased by 100%.  I thought I'd take a moment and review why my TV habits have changed.

For years now, our television set was just a big black screen that we would show our family pictures on.  Neither myself nor my other half were interested in anything that was being shown for entertainment purposes, on most cable channels.  So our TV became our picture show instead.  Our cable was cancelled and the only thing he missed was his hockey games.  I did not miss anything about the TV.  I did start reading a lot more and that was not a bad thing either.  Then............

That all changed when he signed up for Prime!  Initially he signed up so that our items would ship for free and quickly.  He's the impatient one in our family.  What he did not fully realize when he signed up, was all the added bonuses that came along with his membership in the Amazon Prime community.

Because we have Prime, we are now able to watch many varied and wonderful shows that cable companies don't offer.  I haven't even scratched the surface of what's available on Amazon Prime.  

So here's part of the confession:  I go to Prime Movies and look for fun and new Christmas Specials.  After all, it is that time of year.  There are so many movies that I have never heard of before.  There is a category called Family and Kids Movies!  That is exactly what they offer!    I know when I pick something from this category, that I won't need to worry about the content being for "adult audiences".  

Family Movies is full of wonderful films that are good for all ages.  There are animated movies and movies from all over the world.

I just happened to come across a movie called the Christmas Story.  I expected the usual Santa Claus story and while it was along that line, it was a whole new story to me.  This one had a twist in it that made it a real heart tugging movie.  Filmed in Finland and Lapland, the scenery is breathtaking and the actors are pretty good too.  There is no one in the movie whose name I recognized, but, there is talent out there in the world too.



Prime not only offers you TV that you will enjoy watching, but books (with membership you get 3 free books a month), and music.  So these have all been added bonuses for us.  My other half just wanted to save money on shipping and time.  What he got was a whole lot more!  

All together I would say that getting Prime for your family would be a gift that will keep on giving long after Christmas is over.  Those are the kind of gifts I like and would really enjoy!  I'm sure there is someone out there that feels the same way and has not yet taken the plunge into the world of Prime.

I had given up watching Television for over 4 years and now that we have Prime available to us, I know that when the itch to watch something hits, I can get a show that I  know I will enjoy.

If you don't have Prime yet, consider it for your family.  I'm sure that you won't regret it.








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Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Monopoly Unicorns vs Llamas Game Reviewed

A Different Game of Monopoly

I love to play board games with my grandchildren and Monopoly is one of them. Monopoly Unicorns vs Llamas is one I think I should have so that my youngest grandchild can play, too. The standard version is a little more than she can handle at her age but this new release would be right up her little alley.

monopoly game
Monopoly: a great family game
image courtesy of pixabay.com

The new release of an old favorite is geared more for the younger set. I know my little cupcake will enjoy playing it and I can tell you right now which team she will chose to support. The unicorn team, she is wild about those mythical creatures!

Slightly Different Play in the Game

Instead of individual play in this new edition of Monopoly, the game is played with teams. Players decide which team they want to play for, the unicorn team or the llama team. Properties aren't purchased but instead as you move around the board you collect titles for your team. Things like the Sweetest, the most colorful, or my personal favorite the twinkliest eyes. You know when the game is over when all of the titles have been collected. The winning team is determined by the team who has the most titles. Now, I'm asking you. Doesn't that sound like loads of fun?

This game can be entertaining for children ages 8 to 88. Although, I love playing the original version of Monopoly, it can take hours and hours to play. The nice thing about the Unicorns vs Llamas game is that the time-frame for the game doesn't take forever for someone to win. 

Board Games Encourage Family Time

When my girls were little, I loved playing games that we could all play together. Can I tell you how many times I've played Candy Land? It wasn't so much the game that we were playing but the family time we were spending together. Once the grandchildren began to arrive, I've kept up the tradition. 

How about you and your family? Do you play games together? If you have small ones, I think a nice round of the Monopoly Unicorns vs Llamas might be enjoyable for all.





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Monday, December 9, 2019

Shipt Delivery Service Review

The groceries are here! Yes, in the driveway and I never entered the store. How fun is that! If you dislike grocery shopping (raising my hand) then Shipt is a service which can lighten the burden, save time and make life just a little easier.


What Is Shipt?

Shipt is the home delivery service in which groceries and essentials are delivered  to your home. The items are ordered via the Shipt app or the desktop version and can be at your home within 2 hours.

How Does Ordering Work?

You are virtually shopping on the computer screen and adding items to the cart. The interface is very user friendly and the screens are self explanatory through the ordering process.

After the cart is filled you "check out" and select a delivery time frame. The delivery window is by the hour.

The shopping order is then processed and waiting for a shopper to accept the order. Once a shopper accepts the order you are notified via text or within the desktop screen.

The Delivery

Delivery is free if a minimum of $35.00 is spent. Orders under $35.00 are charged a delivery fee.

Thus far the deliveries have been very smooth with only one 'bumpy' order. The shoppers have been very communicative, courteous and pleasant. This is a real time collaborative shopping experience with the shopper. The shoppers can (your option) communicate with you during the order via text should any stock problems arise.

I have ordered items by 1 p.m. and the groceries have been on the driveway at 2 p.m.,  the deliveries have been very expedient.

I have been impressed thus far and one of the reasons I have been trialing Shipt is to vet the service for a homebound neighbor. This could be a very valuable asset to have in the toolbox for caregiving, not just the convenience factor of home delivery.

What Stores Participate In Shipt?

In my urban area (where big box stores are in great abundance) the participating stores are Target, Meijer and Petco.

What Is The Cost Of Shipt

I have been participating on the trial which is free. 
The annual fee is $99.00 a year; however I have seen sales for the service for $49.00 a year.

Delivery Or Pickup?

Thus far I have only used the Shipt delivery service; however the Pickup option can also be utilized. Because I do live in an area where it is not unusual to find multiple stores within 5 miles, the Pickup option can be very useful. I have frequented other services which offer the pack and pick up service and I have found this service to be a huge time saver.

Pros

User friendly screens
Fast service
Courteous shoppers
Reasonable annual cost
Convenient, easy to use
Free trial offered

Con


This  one area I would like to see an improvement is the stock in store versus the stock reflected on the app screen. Just as happens with an in store shopping experience items are not always in stock. The majority are, but sale items are in high demand and the shopping app stock is not always reflective of the actual stock found by the shopper.

Recommendation 


I've definitely enjoyed the service and would recommend using the trial offered by Shipt to explore if this would be a useful service for your lifestyle. I do plan on giving Shipt as a Christmas  gift this year!





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Sunday, December 8, 2019

5 Inspirational Theme Songs for 2020

What is your life theme for 2020? 5 Life Theme Songs 

Last week I reviewed five inspirational quotes to carry you through 2020. This week's review is about musical inspiration.

Which one of these five areas in life do you feel you need to or want to focus on in 2020?

COURAGE

For me, strangely enough, for 2020, it's courage. It's strange because I've always been a doer, a person who steps-out, steps-up, and gets things accomplished. I've always had the courage to fight for others, and help them with their tasks and build their goals. However, if I'm honest with myself, my weakness is in fighting for my own goals. It's scary when you're only doing for yourself! To keep myself on track and accountable, I've created a specific plan and told most of my family what it is.

More than ever before, I'm feeling a sense of independence. I can't explain it, except to say that to complete my 2020 career-related goals, I need courage and the discipline to follow the plan I've laid out for myself.

Celine Dion's new song 'Courage' is about her new life without the love of her life, her husband, Rene, and the courage needed to step out of her own comfort zones. However, there are lyrics within the song that speaks to exactly how I feel:

"Courage, don't you dare fail me now,
I need you to keep away the doubts
I'm staring in the face of something new
You're all I got to hold on to
So, courage, don't you dare fail me now"



BELIEF

Whether you're trying to achieve a dream, accomplish a goal, or want to believe in the power of good, Rascal Flatt's Olympic Version of Unstoppable is your song. A few New Years ago, I wrote about this being a choice song to start fresh.

Belief gets us to where we're going. It's hard to hold onto, especially when things come crashing down around us. That's when we have to dig deeper, and believe that there's sun on the other side. Mastering self is the hardest battle we'll fight.

Belief for me begins with realizing that the only person I can control is myself. We can't change other people, we all know that, yet we spend so much mental energy trying to. Letting go, in my opinion, that's the road to self-belief.



HOPE

Is 2020 all about holding onto hope? If so, you'll want to add Natasha Bedingfield's song 'Hope' to your new year's playlist.

Holding onto a positive outlook isn't always doable, that's why we have music. The right song, with the right message, can wake us up and help us see things from a different perspective.

My word is Hope. What's a personal word? It's the word that you choose to govern your life by. My children have even selected their own life words. I'm wearing a necklace with the word Hope written on it; it was a gift from one of my closest friends. I never take it off.



KINDNESS

Is kindness your major theme for 2020? Are you planning to seek out more of it? Or are you going to lead by example and be the best person you can be? I imagine most of us think of ourselves as mostly kind anyway. Maybe resisting those moments we want to be unkind is a way to stretch that kindness goal a little further. Most of those tests are within families, and sometimes online.

If you're looking for a song for 2020 that can help stay within the margins of kindness, add Tim McGraw's gorgeous song, 'Humble and Kind' to your playlist.


GRATEFUL

Are you choosing 'Grateful' as your theme for 2020? Get the tissues out and listen to Josh Groban's song 'Thankful.' The lyrics remind us that each of us must find our truth and that it's so long overdue.

As we look into the face of those we love, and smile, we don't always grasp that, that alone is enough. Appreciating all that we have, it's as easy as that isn't it? Would you agree that understanding the concept of being grateful comes more into focus with age?






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Saturday, December 7, 2019

Bake Cookies Day, December 18 – Holiday Review

Bake Cookies Day (Source: Pixabay & Fotojet)
  'Tis the season for baking cookies, so how appropriate that Bake Cookies Day is held every December 18th right in the middle of the holiday season. 

The word 'cooky' or 'cookie' comes from the Dutch word “koekje”, meaning “little cake”. Cookies arrived in America along about the 17th century, although they may date back as far as 7th century Persia! Today they are a global phenomena, coming in more varieties, flavors and styles than you can possibly imagine.

The writers on Review This Reviews often write on the subject of food and have reviewed recipes for many varieties of cookies. It seems appropriate for Bake Cookies Day to share a few here. 


Cookie Varieties and Recipes on Review This Reviews


Cookie Recipe Reviews on ReviewThisReviews!












  • If you want to give a gift of cookies, but don't have time to bake your own, try out  Byrd's Famous Cookies reviewed by Wednesday Elf. They are delicious.



Other Cookie Days



Source: Pixabay

There are other dates throughout the year that celebrate 'cookies'. 


  • National Chocolate Cookie Days happens on August  15th.
  • National Homemade Cookies Day is October 1st.
  • National Gingerbread Cookie Day is November 11th.
  • National Cookie Day is December 4th. 



Summary


So, enjoy Bake Cookie Day December 18th, or any of the other fun cookie days all year long. And don't forget to leave a couple cookies out for Santa on Christmas Eve! 



(Source: Pixabay)


Bake Cookies Day
December 18







(c) Wednesday Elf 12/7/2019




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Friday, December 6, 2019

Rubbermaid Brilliance Food Storage Container Reviewed

Airtight, Leakproof, Microwavable & Freezer Safe Storage 

 Rubbermaid Brilliance Food Storage Container Reviewed
I recently purchased 3 Rubbermaid Food Storage Containers. I needed an airtight container for rolls & crescents so they would last longer. I selected the 9.6 cup size which was perfect for my needs. As it turns out, there are many more uses for these containers than just bread storage. 

During the recent holidays, I discovered these containers will hold liquid or dry food.  Since they are leak-proof due to their tight seal, they will even store leftover homemade soup.  Plus, they are microwavable when it is time to reheat the leftovers.  Therefore, there is no need to transfer leftovers from their storage container to heat.  Less clean-up is always appreciated.

I love my faithful Tupperware, but sadly, if I can't see it, I am likely to forget it.  So much fruit is discarded simply because it is forgotten once it has been stored away.  Because these containers are transparent, it is easy to see at a glance what is stored in which container. 


 Rubbermaid Brillance Food Storage Container Reviewed


Rubbermaid Food Storage Containers


 Rubbermaid Brilliance Food Storage Container, Large, 9.6 Cup, Clear, 3 PackCheck PriceNot only are they clear, airtight, leak-proof, microwavable and freezer safe, their flat design makes them stackable in the the refrigerator, freezer, or pantry.   

Since we don't have to worry about the spilling, transporting food from one location to another is easy.  Of course, if you are dropping off food, you might not get these nifty containers back. The recipient will be tempted to forget where they came from originally.

Now that I have had experience with the larger containers, I will definitely be buying the smaller single serve size as well.  That will make lunchtime so much easier! 

To use in the microwave, simply lift the locks for venting.  

The only possible negative that I have found with these containers is that they seal so tightly.  It takes more effort to remove the lids than it does with a snap lid.  But, after a few uses, I knew what to expect.  Now I grip the container with one hand and remove the lid with my other hand.  In my opinion, that is a simple inconvenience to enjoy the airtight storage.

Oh, and did I mention, the price is right!  No wonder they named these containers "Brilliance".








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