Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Why Should You Have a Beautiful Advent Wreath?

We are in the full season of Christmas and part of that in our family is lighting the Advent Candles on our Christmas wreath.

The meaning of the candles and the wreath as a meditation for Christmas and beyond.  


Most people recognize an Advent Wreath when they see them.  They can be made out of many different types of materials.  The most common are evergreens, but there are many other beautiful options.  The wreath (round just by it's name)  usually has 4 candle holders spaced evenly around the wreath.   These four candles are usually in purple and pink( 3 purple and one pink), for religious celebrations of Advent.  Some have a central larger candle in White.  Other Advents wreaths can have red or white candles or whatever color you happen to like.

What's the significance of the colors in a Religious Advent Wreath?

Advent is a time of waiting and preparation.  Purple is the color of both Advent and Lent in religious ceremonies.  Both  of these seasons Liturgically are waiting periods.  Advent we wait for the coming of the Saviour in the stable and Lent we wait for the Resurrection from the Grave.  Let's focus on Christmas and Advent right now.

Each candle has it's own meaning.

  1.  The 1st Sunday of Advent is for Hope (purple)
  2.   The 2nd Sunday is for Peace (purple)
  3.   The 3rd Sunday is for Joy (pink)(it's pink because the light of the two other candles illuminates this week a little bit more and joy is bright)
  4.   The 4th Sunday is for Love (purple)
  5.   Christmas Day the center candle is lit, if you have an Advent wreath with 5 candles.  This central candle (usually in white) represents the Christ, the Saviour whose birthday we celebrate at this time.
The way we use our wreath, is to light one candle on the first Sunday, two on the second Sunday, three on the Third Sunday and all four candles on the Fourth Sunday.  For this reason it is advisable to use a good sized candle or long tapers.  After 4 weeks the first candle will be considerably smaller than the other 3.

If you want to increase the religious aspect of Advent, you can use Bible verses as a meditation for each of the four weeks, or sing some Christmas carols that speak more to the coming of the Saviour rather than  Santa Claus.  There are also some lovely Advent prayers to be found on You Tube and I have selected one for you with music.  The sound is soothing and a reminder of what Christmas is all about!  Check it out right here, and bookmark it if you like so that you have it for all 4 weeks.



Quiet Meditative Time 


Christmas with all it's hustle and bustle can sometimes overwhelm children, parents and other members of the family.  Do you ever wonder why you seem to see so many children having emotional meltdowns at this time of year.  I personally think it has a lot to do with sensory overload and children not having the coping mechanisms in place to deal with it all.

You might find yourself in that position of having to back away from all the noise, lights, music and people.  Taking some quality quiet time for yourself during this hectic time, is not only a great idea, but a necessity for some.  Everyone is different and will relate to the stimulus differently too.  One thing I do know from my own experience is that taking the time to light one candle for every weekend before Christmas is necessary for my well being.  It's a quiet meditative time for me and a way to refresh and renew my sagging spirit.

If you want to know more about sensory overload or aren't sure if that's what has you in it's grips, there is a great article here on Healthline.  It's worth the time it takes to read it. Not only will it help you to understand this malady, but it will also give you some coping mechanisms.  If you are looking for a more "spiritual way" to cope then I would recommend this article on Seasonal Depression and coping.

When you are faced with this "overload" and you know which methods of coping work for you, then it's time to put it into practice.  This is where my Advent Wreath plays a central role.  For me, coping with the seasonal overload means finding some quiet time, and meditating(some might call it praying).  Christmas for me has always been a "spiritual time" and while I love some of the more secular things about Christmas, I still try to keep it as a spiritual time in my home.  I have to do this for my own peace of mind and you might just find some peace if you try this too!



Why Should You Have a Beautiful Advent Wreath?  www.reviewthisreviews.com




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Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Immersion Hand Blender Reviewed

Easy Way To Blend or Puree Foods

tomato soup
Soup probably pureed with an Immersion Blender
image courtesy of pixabay.com 
I don't own an immersion hand blender yet but I want one pretty darned bad. So, I thought I would review the one that I think that I will purchase in the near future. 

The main reason that I want one of these hand held blenders is that I love tomato soup and I want to be able to make my own. In order to get the correct consistency the soup needs to be pureed. Now, cooking up a big pot of tomatoes for soup and then having to pour batches of it into a regular blender is a pain in the royal keester. For one thing there is the most likely possibility that I will burn myself or spill quite a lot while trying to maneuver the contents from pot to blender. There is also the time involved! Not to mention that the clean-up will be a hot mess! I would have to clean up the pot that the soup is cooked in, the blender and the pot that I would need to put the pureed soup into while going through the blending process. An immersion blender solves all of those obstacles. 

With a hand held blender I can just puree the tomatoes in the pot that they have cooked in eliminating the use of so many tools, the burn factor and the spill factor. Easy peasy lemon squeezy! 

So, I have been looking at my options and there are several to choose from. I can go the expensive route or I can try to save myself a little money. I decided that maybe the best route to pursue is the one that most folks seem to be happy with. So, I looked at ones that have the best reviews and then picked the one that is marked as Amazon's choice; which by the way, happens to have the best review history.

Here is the model that I believe I will purchase after the holidays. There is a possibility that Santa might leave me one so that is why I plan to wait. 

I like that it has two attachments. One for blending and a whisk. So, I will be able to puree all sorts of foods or easily whisk ingredients for many recipes. There are six speeds so that should be handy, too. I will be able to make smooth and wonderful tomato soup or wonderful fruit smoothies. I think my possibilities will only be limited by my own imagination.

I think it might be helpful if I let you on something. Depending on the cook these hand blenders are known as immersion blenders or sometimes they are called emulsion blenders. Those two words are describing the same tool.

How about you? Do you own an immersion hand blender? If not, do you think it would be something that you would use? Not only do I plan on using mine a lot but I think this is a wonderful idea as a wedding gift or a holiday gift for your favorite cook. 



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

Monday, December 10, 2018

Snowglobes are Great Gifts and Seasonal Decor

Holiday snowglobes on Review This!
There is something magical about snowglobes. It doesn't seem logical. After all, Snowglobes are simply water-filled globes of glass (or plastic) encasing some sort of item or scene. Shake the globe and the little flakes begin to "snow". But there is something special about that frozen moment in time surrounded by the movement of falling snow.

At this time of year, snowglobes always come to my mind. They are a wonderful part of holiday decorations. Because holiday snowglobes are offered in such a wide variety of styles they can also be very thoughtful gifts. Each one individualized to reflect special interests of the giver or the receiver. Snowglobes range from the tiny plastic trinkets that you can find at just about any souvenir gift shop to high-quality pieces of seasonal art that can be enjoyed and passed down for generations. 


Santa Claus Snowglobes



This review came to mind after recently purchasing a beautiful snowglobe depicting Santa's workshop. There was a piece of synchronicity that led me to thoughts of how special snowglobes can be. 

Scenes with Santa are my favorite snowglobes. And there are MANY Santa scenes to choose from:
  • Seated in his workshop with the elves, making toys. 
  • Flying in his sleigh through the snowy sky. 
  • Dressed in his suit with the huge bag of toys slung over his shoulder. 
  • Seated with a child seated on his knee
Santa's Workshop - musical snowglobe


Musical Snowglobes


Some snowglobes come with a music box option. Typically, the music box key is under the base of the snow globe. Simply turn the globe over, turn the key a few times, then place the snowglobe on the table to watch the snow and listen to the tune.

Tunes that are as familiar as Jingle Bells and as traditional as Oh Holy Night can be found with some snowglobes.


Religious Snowglobes



A variety of religious scenes are depicted in snowglobes. From angels to the nativity scenes (simple and ornate) a snowglobe reminding us of the "reason for the season" can be found.


Nativity - musical snowglobe



Snowglobes and Nature Scenes



In the areas of the world that have four seasons and the possibility of snow during the holidays, snowy naturescapes are reminiscent of Christmas. Trees drop their leaves and make unique silhouettes against the sky. Native backyard birds are easier to see against the white background of snow. Polar bears, penguins, and white hares are wildlife that are often associated with a winter wonderland. 


Penguin snowglobe - plays "Let It Snow"



Baby's First Christmas Snowglobe



Special occasions, such as baby's first Christmas, can be commemorated with an engraved snowglobe. And those globes can last a lifetime.

Baby's 1st Christmas snowglobe



Snowglobes with Favorite Movies, Places, Things



Perhaps your family has made a tradition of watching the Nutcracker during the holidays. Or watching the Wizard of Oz has become an annual event as the holidays approach. 

Maybe you've traveled during the holidays and want a reminder of those special places.


Whatever your holiday traditions include, chances are good that there is a snowglobe that gives a shout out to those special memories.

design courtesy of pixabay.com

Whether you are looking for long-lasting holiday decorations or a special gift for that special someone, snowglobes are a great choice. 

My love of snowglobes was recently renewed during an incident of coincidence. Or maybe it wasn't coincidence at all. I'm not completely sure. If you would like to read about how I came to own my most recent Santa Claus snowglobe you can read about it on my personal blog. 


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

Sunday, December 9, 2018

10 Easy Ways to Personalize a Birthday Party

If you're planning a birthday party but want it to be personalized, here's a list of affordable ways you can accomplish your goal:

1. Make A Personalized Card:

Make the card from scratch on your own, or have the kids do it. There are numerous places online where you can design your own. Zazzle.com is a popular place to create custom cards. If you're sending out invitations, you can personalize them to reflect the chosen theme of the party.

2. Write a Personal Message Inside Your Birthday Card:

Writing personal messages is probably one of the most valuable gifts you can give. Get inspired from some of the personal messages here. Use them as is, or modify them to fit what you really want to say.

Place a giant card on the wall, or at a table where everyone can write their own personal message inside of it. When a card fills up, bring out another one.

3. Personalize a Birthday Cake, Say More than Just Happy Birthday:

Who says a birthday cake has to say, 'happy birthday'. Have a funny quote, loving message, or other pertinent saying displayed on the cake. If you need some ideas on what to write, you can find a list of suggestions here. Have the balloons behind the cake with the words 'happy birthday' on them. That way you still have 'happy birthday' expressed with the cake.

4. Create a Birthday Playlist:

Music makes the party. Put together a playlist of birthday themed songs, or songs that express messages about growing up, aging and celebrating milestones. If you need some help finding the songs to include, here's a place with unique and lovely birthday song ideas.

5. Decorate a Birthday Tree:

Pick a tree that works best for the space your party is in. Decorate the tree with photos of the birthday person, items important to them, birthday ornaments, personal messages written on cards, plus anything else pertaining to the birthday person's life. Use tree lights that include their favorite color. 

6. Party Favor Bags Made with Retro Candy from the Birthday Person's Generation:

You can find retro candy from many places online. Amazon usually has every decade covered in this department. Who doesn't like the candy from their childhood! It's a personal and thoughtful party bag favor to create.

7. For Large Parties, Name the Tables after Major Events or Famous People from the Birthday Person's Generation:

Name each table based on the birthday person's interests. If they love current events, give each table a name pertaining to a news event of that time. Or, if they love the movies use movie names or actors. If they're big fans of music, name the tables after famous singers of that day.

8. Personalize Napkins for the Party:

You can personalize just about anything these days. Decorate each table setting with personalized napkins. Choose napkins in their favorite color and have their name or favorite quotes featured on them. Position one on every plate to add to the décor.

9. Use Tablecloths that Reflect their Year of Birth:

Again, there are multiple angles you can use here. News events, décor themes, tv shows, music or games. If you search online you're sure to find tablecloths that tie into what you're looking for.

10. Have Guests Dress Up in Clothes that Reflect the Year the Person was Born or the Year they were a Teenager:

By doing this, you've turned the event into a costume party. If full costumes are too much, have people show up wearing one piece of clothing that reflects the era you want to the party centered around. Clothing ideas are: Wigs, scarfs, hats, shirts, pants, ties or bow ties, skirts, dresses, shoes and belts.



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

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Advice from the Ocean T-Shirt Review

 Advice From Nature Products

(c) Elf. Ryan's New Beach-Themed T-Shirt
I recently moved from the Georgia Coast to the Midwest to be near family. Before I left Georgia, I wanted to gather together a few beach-related mementos to give to my family members who had all visited me in Georgia at one time or another.  I thought the items would be a nice memory of our time spent together in the South. 

One family member is my grandson, Ryan.  At age 16, it's harder to choose a gift he'd enjoy as teenagers have set preferences. When I saw this T-shirt with an ocean theme found in the Tybee island, Georgia Marine Science Center, I thought “this is the perfect gift”. Ryan loves the beach and the times he spent at the Atlantic Ocean. 





Earth Sun Moon Trading Company


The T-shirt is the product of Earth, Sun and Moon Trading Company, located in Grove City, Pennsylvania.  The themes of their t-shirts reflect the company's mission to be “Good to the Earth”. You can read about their commitment here.



(c) Elf. Advice from Nature

Earth, Sun & Moon's “Advice” nature themes have scenes with a large number of animals, birds and insects we share our earth with (i.e. Advice from a Buffalo, Advice from a Bear, Advice from a Cardinal), as well as places such as this one “Advice from the Beach”. Each design is expertly printed in beautiful colors and features words of advice presented in a funny and delightful way.


Advice from the Beach Slogan


For instance, the words for this 'Advice from the Beach' T-shirt state:





Be shore of yourself | Come out of your shell | Take time to relax and coast | Avoid pier pressure | Sea life's beauty | Don't get tide down | Make waves!

As you can see in the intro photo, Ryan enjoyed receiving this reminder from Grandma of his visits to the Georgia Coast, beach and ocean.


Summary


So if you are shopping for a nature lover, you will find the choices from Earth Sun Moon to be unique and fun for both the gift giver and the recipient. The company has been creating their T-shirts, sweatshirts, hats and more since 1996, all with original designs. Therefore, there is sure to be a design of an animal or outdoor theme that perfectly fits any occasion, like this ocean theme for Ryan did for me. 









(c) Wednesday Elf Product Review written 12/8/2018






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

Friday, December 7, 2018

Debbie Macomber's Mr. Miracle Hallmark Movie Review

Debbie Macomber's Mr. Miracle Hallmark Movie Review
Mr. Miracle is a delightful Hallmark movie about a new angel and his first assignment on earth. 

As always, Hallmark provides us with an hour (actually 86 minutes) of entertainment appropriate for all family members.  

Not only does this movie have a touch of romance and divine intervention, but it also provides a few laughs.  That bit of comedy is needed though as a relief to the intense subject matter.  Addie is facing her first Christmas after her father's death and having to come to terms with her own purpose in life.      

Also, the movie Mr. Miracle looks like the perfect setup for a series of "Mr. Miracle" angel movies.  Since I really like the actor and the character, I hope there will be more to come.


Debbie Macomber's Mr. Miracle Movie Plot


Harry Mills (Rob Morrow) is an angel on assignment for the first time.  Part of the fun is that everything on earth is completely new to him.  This provides a touch of comedy to the movie since Harry takes everything literally.  What might be common phrases to us, mean something totally different to him.  As a cover for his angel duties, Harry is placed in the community college as a literature professor and provided a home across the street from his "assignment".

As I mentioned in the introduction, Addie (Britt Irvin) and her mother are facing their first Christmas without Addie's father.  After returning home and re-enrolling in the community college, Addie lacks the confidence to stick it out and succeed.  She feels the need to graduate only to meet her father's expectations, not because she has a direction.

Harry is quite certain he can solve all of Addie's problems quickly once he identifies her purpose in life.  He plans to set her on the right course and move on quickly.  It isn't as easy as it sounds in the beginning, and even though Harry resists help from his angelic mentor, he must also find the right course for his duties.



Debbie Macomber, the Author


Debbie Macomber has long been a recognized author that we can all depend on for a great story with clean content. Her books and movies don't require a lot of graphic images or colorful language to grab, and hold, your attention.

A few of our Contributors here on Review This, have previously reviewed some of Debbie Macomber's books.

Reviewed by BarbRad.  How does a woman move on after a painful divorce? Debbie Macomber tackles this subject in her new novel. The book follows the emotional journey of two women after they divorce their husbands.



Reviewed by Diana, Renaissance Woman. Book review of New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber's One Perfect Word. She shares how her chosen words have changed her life in profound ways



Reviewed by BarbRad. If you love a romance series that is true to life with characters you can relate to, you will want to read the Rose Harbor Series by Debbie Macomber. Each story builds on the last, so start at the beginning for an enjoyable journey through stories of hurt, love, and healing.





Currently, Debbie Macomber's "Mr. Miracle" is also available on Amazon with a subscription to the Hallmark Channel.  
 


Hallmark Channel Subscription through Amazon


More Movies Reviewed that are Available with Subscription to the Hallmark Channel






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Debbie Macomber's Mr. Miracle Hallmark Movie Review Written by:
House of Sylvestermouse



 


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

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Anne of Green Gables Early Reader Chapter Book Reviews

Anne of Green Gables Early Reader Books
I do not have any wee folk around anymore nor did I ever have any wee girls about the house but that did not stop me from holding throughout my life a love of all things related to Anne of Green Gables and Prince Edward Island.  A hold over from my girlhood, I am thrilled to know that the red headed heroine we loved as girls continues to be introduced to successive generations of girls through some beautiful books and television programming.

Green Gables in Anne Arrives
Anne Arrives and Anne's Kindred Spirits are a retelling of the traditional Anne of Green Gables story for early readers in an easy chapter book format that have been adapted by Canadian author Kallie George. Kallie, that is, with an e. Anne Arrives was released in 2018 and Anne's Kindred Spirits will be released in 2019.

The first story introduces the young reader to Anne Shirley and sets her down at Green Gables where we all know that she belongs. She settles in, that is, after a rough start when they find out she is a girl and not a boy and after she has a run in with the neighbor, Mrs. Lynde.

The second story introduces Anne and the reader to her bosom buddy, Diana. In this book, Anne enjoys a community picnic, which is her first, although that outing is jeopardized when Marilla's prized brooch goes missing.

Author Kallie George has written a number of other books for children including a picture book about Anne Shirley called Goodnight, Anne. Kallie says that she believes that she and Anne Shirley are kindred spirits!

Anne Shirley in Anne Arrives

The illustrator Abigail Halpin says that she was gifted with a copy of the original book when she was a teenager and that that book still holds a special place on her book shelf.  The illustrations in Anne Arrives, she says, were "influenced by her memories of one of the most beautiful, magical spots on the planet, Prince Edward Island." Her illustrations were crafted using a combination of traditional and digital media.

Both of these books were written with children aged 6 to 8 or in grades 1 through 3 in mind. However, if you child is not quite ready to read these books on her own, you could certainly read them to her. Although intended for children, they are suitable for any one who loves Anne.

I think that this book is wonderful, sharing as it does a simple version of the classic story with the accompaniment of some charming illustrations. My favorite picture might be the two page spread that shows Green Gables in the distance, shown above.  It sets the scene in my head, for sure.

As you can tell, yes, this book is RECOMMENDED by me. I think it is lovely but I am biased toward anything from Anne's world.  However, Kirkus Reviews calls Anne Arrives, "A dream of an adaptation that is an unabashed love letter to the series that inspired it." In my mind that is high praise indeed.

I think that either book would make a beautiful gift for anyone who loves Anne but it would be especially appropriate for any young girl who is learning or will soon be learning to read. If you want to expose your children to Anne's world, you can never start to young!

You can find both books on Amazon by clicking here.  If you are looking to put a great gift set together, you might consider bundling one of these books with one of the beautiful Anne of Green Gables gift ideas found on this page.

See you
at the bookstore!
Brenda

Quick Links:

Buy Anne Arrives and Anne's Kindred Spirits on Amazon.
Find a page full of beautiful Anne of Green Gables gift ideas.


Anne Arrives by Kallie George

Anne's Kindred Spirits by Kallie George






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

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Review from a First Time Smartphone User

Why I Finally Bought a Smartphone 


I have been using a flip phone since the 1990's. I only bought it because  I traveled on business and needed a way to communicate on the road. There weren't any smartphones then. The little phone fit easily in my purse or pocket and I used my landline whenever I was home. I only gave family members and very close friends my cell number -- and, of course, services that insisted I get two-step verification by text message. I don't really text anyone myself -- yet.

Almost everyone I know seems to have a smartphone and  many seem addicted to them. But I didn't want one. I hate typing on tiny keyboards with my arthritic fingers. I like to work on a desktop where I have it all. So I happily blogged on and resisted the smartphone. I processed my photos nicely without one and took a digital camera on my photo walks. Then came Instagram and I couldn't join the party. Unless I got a smartphone. So five days ago I finally got one.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9  Review from a First Time Smartphone User
My Galaxy Note 9 with Accessories


Why I Bought a Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Instead of an iPhone


My brother and many of my friends have iPhones and love them. My husband has a Galaxy S7. I've seen people do amazing things with smartphones and I thought they were using iPhones. One day I was at a winery with a friend and had forgotten to bring my phone. I borrowed hers and it took fantastic photos. I had seen my nephew scan a document by taking a photo with what I thought was an iPhone. I was all set to get an iPhone. But when I double checked with my nephew and my friend, I discovered they both had Galaxy phones. The camera I had borrowed was on a Galaxy Note 8 or 9

I wanted to buy the phone with the best camera. My plan was to start making more videos where I could just talk to people, so I needed a front-facing camera. I also wanted to get great nature and product photos and videos for my blogs and for making Zazzle products. And, of  course, I wanted to be able to post to my Instagram account with my own phone -- not Hubby's. I was using my PC to like and comment on posts from my friends, and I wanted to join the fun and post more. Now I can. If you like nature, books, gardening, or a simple lifestyle, you can follow me on Instagram and see the quality of what I've posted so far from my new phone. I'm barbradis on Instagram.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9  Review from a First Time Smartphone User
Cyclist in Riverbed of Salinas River in Paso Robles Taken with Galaxy Note 9


I decided on the Galaxy Note 9 because it had great cameras. Yes, the iPhone camera is also a good one, but for my purposes, the Galaxy Note 9 tops it. There is also a lesser reason. I have both a Windows PC and an iMac. Both have been sick. While my PC was really sick, I used the Apple almost exclusively, even though it was really slow. I couldn't find anything. I called our local guru to come fix it and he confirmed that Apple just hides things and you have to know the tricks to get around that. I like a clear file path. I think in Windows, not Apple. I understand Google better than Apple. I thought over the long haul I'd be happier with Android.


The Learning Curve


If I had already been a smartphone user just trading up or getting a different brand, I don't think the learning curve would have been as steep for me as it's been these last five days. I'm used to the space and options I have with a desktop. I work with forty tabs open in Chrome, four notepads to cut and paste from, and several Windows Explorer windows open at once. Although the Galaxy Note has a larger screen than many phones, it doesn't come close to the 21 inches my computer monitor has.

The Note 9 lets me open several apps at once and flip between them, but I had some trouble getting an email with a pin I needed to put in a registration form for Verizon or Samsung -- I forget which. Once the email came in through the GMail app, I couldn't get  back to the form where I was supposed to enter it. I think that would have happened on any smartphone. So most of my learning curve is just learning to use a smartphone instead of a PC -- not something unique to the Galaxy smartphone. It's a totally different way of working. It will take time to really get good at this.

The thing that bothered me most was that tiny keyboard. It's hard for me to hit only one key at once -- even though the Galaxy Note 9's keyboard is larger than most. I have two work-arounds for that. First, I use that little microphone on the keyboard and talk instead of type when I can. I also have a small wireless keyboard I bought to use with another device. It plays nicely with my Galaxy Note 9, as would just about any portable Bluetooth keyboard. So if I'm free to talk without disturbing anyone, I make my Instagram captions and hashtags with my voice and correct most of my mistakes using the keyboard. The speech recognition does confuse to with too or two. I have to speak slowly. It mistook my friend Celia's name for silly. But I can live with that as it learns to better understand my voice.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9  Review from a First Time Smartphone User
What Happens if You Hold the Volume Button Down Too Long  While Taking a Photo

What I love about the Galaxy Note 9

  • The large 6.4" screen
  • The ability to type with my voice instead of my fingers
  • The quality of the front and back cameras
  • The way the phone camera handles lighting differences -- what's in the shade shows better than it does in my Canon PowerShot photos if the photo subject is partially shaded. 
  • When I shoot videos while walking, they are less shaky than the ones I shoot with my Canon PowerShot SX410 IS. I'll show you one of my photo walks below.
  • Easy updates for software
  • Ease of installing the apps I want
  • Easy flipping between apps
  • The ability to take multiple photos in quick succession by holding down the volume button. I learned this accidentally. 
  • Clear voice reception on calls. I called my landline and my husband just to make sure.
  •  Easy contact management, but I confess that I used my little bluetooth keyboard to help enter the names and numbers.
  • Fast charging and long battery life.
  • Flaps that cover the ports for the charger and headphones to help keep them safe from water and dust during everyday use. 
  • The S-Pen with its many amazing features, only some of which I've tried so far. I can't do it all in five days. So far I've found it very handy when I have to use the keyboard since I can better control what I click. A video I watched showed many more pen features I have yet to try. The S-Pen can even control some phone features remotely. 
  • The ability to make a monitor act like a PC if you have the right cable, monitor, and the S-pen. It will work with your monitor if it has an HDMI port and you have an HDMI to USB Type C cable 
  • I can use the Do Not Disturb setting to keep away all notification sounds during the hours I sleep. While I'm trying to fall asleep I can play relaxing music for as long as I set the timer for -- all while my phone is charging.  


A Video of a Photo Walk I Made Yesterday

I made this video with the Galaxy Note 9 in the morning during a lull between rainstorms. 


Here's the Camera and Accessories I Use With It

This is my phone color. I also bought the case and screen protector to keep my investment safe. I already had a portable keyboard to use.



What I Didn't Love as Much

Much as I love my new phone, there are some things I don't love as much.


  • The phone is somewhat heavy because of its size.
  • The shape of the phone, though similar in shape to most other smartphones, is harder for my arthritic hands to hold while trying to take a photo than a camera is.
  • If I want to take a horizontal photo, it's really easy to press the button that will make the phone take multiple shots in a row as long as the button is held down. I'm learning to be careful how I hold the phone. 

Selfies

I have never yet found a camera that made selfies I liked. I'm afraid the problem is not the camera but the subject. Nevertheless, I made a selfie so I could photograph the screen for you. The weird colors are the result of the artificial lighting in the room that my Canon couldn't handle well. Flashes leave light bursts I didn't want. You do see the editing icons here. I don't normally edit photos except to crop them or add text, but I think I'll learn to use some of those available apps that remove wrinkles, etc. 

Since I haven't learned to use those apps yet, I'm hiding behind the camera. The editing icons are above the circle-shaped camera icons. The bottom row of icons are for the whole phone. The quality of this photo has nothing to do with the smartphone camera, since I didn't know how to use the Note 9 to take a photo of itself. It probably would have done a better job with the lighting. I think I  did use one filter and kept it because it changed my hair from gray to the blond I was born with.

Apps

Once I got my Note 9 smartphone, I started adding more apps. It's almost impossible not to when you see all that's available to play with. The thing that's hard is organizing those apps so you can find them again. The Note 9 gives me the Apps Edge. Most of the time it sits almost invisibly on the right edge of my screen, but I can slide it out whenever I need it. I can choose ten apps to put there, so I included what I use most. I guess they are also put in files. If I click the files icon (far left under open apps screen below) it will show me every app that's currently open and I can go back to working in it. Handy! I love both these features. Perhaps other smartphones also have them, but I only have experience on this phone.

So far my favorite free app besides Instagram is Relaxio. It gives me a choice of sixteen kinds of white noise I can listen to alone or combine with other sounds. I can choose from city traffic noises, falling rain, ocean waves, birds, crackling fire, wind, a flowing brook, night nature sounds, coffee shop, and a few other white noise sounds I haven't figured out. I love this app for falling asleep, since I can set a timer for how long it will play. I let it play beside my bed while the phone charges at night. 




Comparing Photos


This morning I decided to photograph some books in a bookcase in my office. The only light source was across the room and partially blocked with my iMac monitor. I made the shots as identical as I could except I used a flash for the shot from my Canon PowerShot SX410 IS. The phone, of course, needed no flash. I didn't guess accurately the number of books included in each shot, but I think it's close enough for you to get the idea. Except to crop and size these for Instagram and add a background color in PicMonkey, I did no photo editing to change tone, lighting or anything else. I added no effects. Here are the shots, as I will post them to Instagram later.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9  Review from a First Time Smartphone User


Samsung Galaxy Note 9  Review from a First Time Smartphone User

As you can see, I didn't edit as much extraneous stuff out of the phone shot as I did the Canon shot. I'd never tried putting backgrounds on before in PicMonkey and I wound up using FotoJet to crop the photos when I hadn't gotten the images the right size for the background. I've never used layers before and PicMonkey just added them to their app. In the end I put the wrong photo in the shot above, not the one that trimmed the lower shelf out. I think you still have a fair comparison between the Canon and the Note 9 cameras.

My Recommendation


If you need a phone with an outstanding camera, I can't think of a better one than the Samsung Galaxy Note 9. I bought it for the camera, but also love the pen and the ability to use it to  turn my phone into something very much like a PC should I ever need to. Just tonight I downloaded the Amazon Music app and discovered I also get great sound quality for the songs I love when I play them on the Note 9.

Now if my Note 9 could only take a selfie! There's probably an app for that, but I still need to find it. My advice? Get yourself or someone you love a Galaxy Note 9.


Don't miss our other contributor's reviews of electronic products on this site. 



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Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Multi-use Cake Stand Reviewed

More than just a place for cakes

no cake stand
Cake not on a stand (image from Pixabay.com)
One of the things that my youngest daughter asked for this Christmas was a cake stand. She also wanted a salad bowl. As one of Santa's dedicated elves, I found a perfect solution! Let me tell you about it. 

To be honest, I planned to purchase both of those items for her. When on my quest to find a nice cake stand, I came across something that has multiple uses that surprised and delighted me and I know it will be perfect for my daughter. 

The wonderful set can be a cake stand with a dome. The dome can be flipped over to create a salad bowl or a punch bowl. The base can be turned upside down to be used as a chip and dip tray or veggie dip. There are six different ways to serve whatever you need with this one set. Isn't that amazing? 

I also like that instead of having to store six different pieces for six different functions, this set only takes up the space of one piece. That is wonderful for my daughter since her storage space is limited. I think she will be thrilled!

I also like the simple design because it will go with any style of dinnerware and can be used throughout the entire year. It is made from acrylic so it isn't heavy to move, either. Let me tell you, this Santa's helper is so excited about this find!

How about you? Can you use something like this for your serving needs? Perhaps you know someone on your list who would appreciate its multi-function features. It is perfect for a gift for a bride or a house warming gift, too. 



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

Monday, December 3, 2018

Reviewing the Anker PowerCore Portable Charger

Anker PowerCore Review
Anker is becoming a brand name that I trust and depend on. And the PowerCore portable charger is no exception. Whether you travel and do not want to have the security risk of plugging in to public charging stations or you spend time off-grid but still want to keep that cell phone charged for emergencies, the Anker is an excellent choice for portable, secure, and dependable charging.

I bought one for myself but I think this little gadget would be a great gift idea.


What is an Anker PowerCore Portable Charger?


My description of the PowerCore is a rechargeable battery that is small enough to fit in my coat pocket but holds enough power to fully recharge my phone (and Kindle) many times. 

Even though it is an electronic gadget, it is foolproof. 

Three easy steps:

  1. Plug it in to charge the battery using the USB cord (using my laptop or the same plug I use to charge my phone and my Kindle)
  2. Remember to put it into my purse, coat pocket, or camping tote
  3. Plug my phone (or Kindle) into the PowerCore to charge as needed.



The Description from the experts:

  • Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 (24w) with Anker's proprietary PowerIQ and VoltageBoost technology - fastest possible charge to almost any USB device. 
  • 7 days of power (fills the iPhone 7 almost seven times, the Galaxy S8 more than four times, and iPad Air 2 one and a half times) 
  • Quick Charge input, a full recharge is over in half the time of standard portable chargers. (written by Anker about the PowerCore 20000 Quick Charge 3.0)

Why I Chose the Anker PowerCore 20000 Quick Charge 3.0


I go camping at my cabin for days on end. I own the Anker PowerPort Solar charger and love it. It is dependable and perfect for off-grid living (see my review here). Perfect, except for when it isn't. 

This year was a record-breaking rainfall year in my area. Rain means solar charges aren't able to work properly (if at all). Lack of sunlight was causing either no charge on my phone or a walk (in the pouring rain) to the Jeep to charge (slowly) my phone. Due to all this rain, I bought the PowerCore "battery".  I charge it fully at the apartment, throw it into my camping tote, and I have a dependable way to charge my phone - rain or shine.

I depend on the Anker PowerPort Solar charger - except during a season of record rainfall.

I chose the 20,000 based on the higher number of charges it provides (compared to some of the more compact PowerCore chargers) and the price tag was as high as I wanted to spend that day.  

My PowerCore came with the charger, the USB cord to charge it, and a slightly padded travel bag. It did not come with the plug that is used in a wall outlet. But I already had several of those. 

There are many Anker PowerCore choices, smaller/less expensive and larger/more expensive.  I love that Anker provides so many options.





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