Friday, October 23, 2020

Forever By Your Side by Tracie Peterson Book Review

Forever by Your Side
As soon as I saw this book available, I requested a copy.  Tracie Peterson is one of my all-time favorite Christian fiction authors.  I always love her books.  

I didn't realize this was the third book in the series, Willamette Brides, but that was not a problem.  I had already read the first two books, so I was familiar with the characters and the background story for the book.

A reader would probably enjoy this book without reading the first two in the series, but I'm not sure it would mean as much to them.  Knowing the complete backstory, what brought us to this point in time on the Indian reservation, fills in what might otherwise be blanks in the book.  I do recommend reading the first two books first, but you will definitely want to read the resolutions in "Forever By Your Side". 


Synopsis of Forever By Your Side

 Forever by Your Side
(Willamette Brides)
Constance Browning is thrilled when she is hired to catalogue the history of the American Indians on the Oregon reservation, her own childhood home.  Constance's parents are still missionaries there and she is excited to return after years away at school.  

Tom Lowell, Connie's best friend, is the second half of the team hired to record the historical facts.  Together, they travel from the East Coast to the Oregon reservation.  Once there, they are welcomed to stay with Connie's parents instead of other government accommodations.  This is an optimum arrangement for Connie & Tom since they also hope to find out who is supplying the Indians with whiskey and guns.  It has been rumored that her parents are behind the shipments and are organizing an upraising.  

Connie is certain her parents are not involved in anything that would put the Indians in danger.  She knows their hearts and their mission to help the people they love.  Unfortunately, her opinion doesn't matter when there is evidence that her father is part of the operation.  

Since Connie knows some of the Indians, she & Tom plan to use their research as a cover for inquiring about a potential upraising.  They are stunned by some old friends who now consider Connie's family the enemy.  

Connie is equally surprised by the government agent, Clint Singleton, on the reservation who now expresses a romantic interest in her.  She had a childhood crush on him years before and he had totally dismissed her then.  She has to ask herself, is she still in love with Clint?

All the changes are confusing, but Connie is determined to prove her parents are innocent.  With the evidence against her father, that won't be easy to do.


My Recommendation

As I stated in my introduction, while this could be a stand-alone book, I believe the entire series should be read in order.  Connie's cousins, their marriages, and most especially one husband's murder, are important to understanding the entire Willamette Brides story plot and the resolutions in this book.  

Personally, I was glad to finally know the true identity of Mr. Smith and the reasons behind his actions.  

The previous books in the series, Secrets of My Heart and The Way of Love are wonderful books, full of love, mystery and an excellent story that carried through the series.  I highly recommend the Willamette Brides series by Tracie Peterson, especially now that we have Forever By Your Side that provides the answers and resolutions.


 

 

I received an advance copy of "Forever by Your Side" to review from NetGalley. I would like to express my appreciation to Netgalley, the author, Tracie Peterson, and the publisher, Bethany House, for this opportunity. 
 



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Thursday, October 22, 2020

The Last Correspondent Book Review

The Last Correspondent is a work of historical fiction written by Soraya M Lane.  It takes place during World War II just prior, during and after the invasion of Normandy.  The scenes are set in London and France during the war.  

This story is about three woman who fight to use their careers to tell their story in a man's world.  They show a tremendous amount of courage, grit and determination in order to get the story told.  This then is the story of a war correspondent, a photographer and a model.

I found this book to be a real page turner.  In fact after I was about half way through the book, I couldn't put it down till I read the whole book.  It is one of those books where the author does such a good job of making the characters believable that I couldn't wait to see what happened next.

The Three Women

  • Danni-  Danni is a seasoned photographer, who has photographed the war on several different fronts.  As the days close in on the Normandy invasion she finds herself in London.   Only the  men are allowed to get passes to cover the war during the invasion, but Danni is determined to find a way to get to the action.  She has teamed up with a correspondent, Andy, who has been with her during her last several assignments.  They have become good friends and cover each others backs.  Danni enlists Andy to help her sneak aboard a medical ship that is sailing toward Normandy.
  • Ella-  Ella is a reporter who has written stories  under a man's pen name in order to get her works published.  When she is found out, her publisher fires her.  She finds a job with a magazine reporting on the war from a women's point of view.  She interviews women working on the war effort and the magazine is so pleased with her work that they send her to London to report on the war.  Like Danni, Ella also finds she is limited in her access because she is a woman.  Ella goes by herself to try to find a way to the action and find herself on the same medical ship as Dani and Andy.  After a rough night hiding on board they decide to team up as they make their way to shore.
  • Chloe-  Chloe is Andy's sister who was a Vogue model prior to the war.  When she was in Paris on a modeling job she met Gabriel, an editor, whom she fell in love.  At the beginning of the story Chloe is at her home in England, longing to find a way to be with Gabriel in Paris.  She says she is a showgirl in order to make her way into Nazi occupied Paris.


The Men in Their Lives

  • Cameron- Cameron is a Lieutenant that Danni first meets and has a conflict with when she is covering the war in Sicily.  She meets up with him again in a bar in London and then in Normandy.  They have a real love/hate relationship.
  • Andy- Andy is a war correspondent and best friend to Danni.  They have been together on several war zones and he always has her back when she is pushing the envelope.
  • Gabriel-  Gabriel is Chloe's lover and she sneaks in to Paris to be with him, only to find out the it is very pre-occupied working for the resistance.  
  • Michael - Michael is also a war correspondent and Ella first meets him at the bar at the Savoy in London.  This is a meeting place for many of the correspondents and photographers.  She next meets up with him in Normandy.

Recommendation

If you are a lover of historical fiction this is a wonderful  read.  It is full of history, women's fight to be treated as equals, and just a bit of romance.  A great read all around.  I highly recommend it.




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Wednesday, October 21, 2020

My Favorite Hamama Microgreens Seed Quilt Accessories

Recently, I wrote about my successful experience with growing microgreens, using Hamama Seed Quilts. I thought it would be helpful to also review both the decorative accessories and most helpful extras I use and love for growing these delicious and extremely nutritious microgreens indoors, in the comfort of my living room.

Although the Hamama's bamboo grow tray frame, seed quilt label holder, and other decorative accessories are designed specifically for the company's innovative, patent-pending growing system, the other recommended products I'm reviewing here would be both useful and beneficial to anyone who enjoys gardening, cooking, or both!

Photo of bamboo accessories and other supplies for Hamama micgrogreens growing system, overlaid with title text, "Hamama Seed Quilt Microgreens Growing Accessories"
My favorite accessories and useful supplies for growing microgreens with Hamama's seed quilt growing system
Microgreens are a delicious, nutritious way to add essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to salads, sandwiches, and other dishes for those of us who try to live a healthy lifestyle. Since health was my primary motivation for losing nearly 60 pounds on a keto diet, my new healthier lifestyle focuses quite a bit on healthy eating, and especially on getting more nutrition from food and relying less on supplements, something that is especially important when following a ketogenic approach to eating.

My Favorite Hamama Microgreens Growing System Accessories and Helpful Supplies

As I shared in my previous post, the Hamama microgreens seed quilt growing system is so easy, even this “brown thumb” gardening amateur is successfully growing delicious, healthy, nutrient-dense microgreens throughout the year, even here in New England. Now that my husband and I are no longer are at the mercy of the unpredictable and often scant selection of packaged microgreens at our local stores, we use our fresh, home-grown microgreens for more than just garnishes. In fact, they make up half the dark, leafy greens in our large, nightly dinner salads!

Along with Hamama's seed quilts and grow trays, the core of their unique container gardening system, I've also purchased a few accessories and supplies that have made the process of growing my own fresh, nutritious kale, broccoli, clover, daikon radish, zesty salad mix, and other varieties of microgreens more enjoyable and convenient. 

Hamama's Custom Growing System Accessories

Bamboo Grow Tray Frames and Seed Quilt Label Holders

Photo of two side-by-side Hamama seed quilts with decorative bamboo grow tray frames and seed quilt label holders
I love the way the bamboo grow tray frames and seed quilt label holders dress up my microgreens growing setup by our living room windows
Since counter space in our small kitchen is at a premium, I grow my microgreens in our living room, which has a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows (although Hamama microgreens seed quilts don’t require a lot of light). So, I successfully harvested a few different varieties of microgreens using this unique growing system, I decided to spring for Hamama’s proprietary bamboo frames and seed quilt label holders. The bamboo frames fit either style of the company's grow tray. I started with Hamama's white ceramic tray. See how nice the bamboo frame looks with it?
Photo of microgreens growing in white ceramic Hamama grow tray with bamboo frame
The white ceramic grow tray is thicker (and heavier) than the black plastic tray.
Not long after, I decided to switch to the black plastic grow trays, which weigh very little and are much easier to carry back and forth to the kitchen (on the other end of our house) for cleaning. Although I try to avoid buying plastic for disposable items, these trays are reusable, and I plan to be using them for the foreseeable future. The walls are much thinner, allowing a narrow margin around the seed quilt, so it's much easier to check the water level in relation to the coconut coir mat (and to add a bit more water, if it's evaporating faster than expected). The marked fill line is also thinner than on the white ceramic tray, so it's easier to gauge how much water to add for soaking the seed quilt.

Whether you prefer the black plastic or white ceramic grow tray, the simple, sleek and stylish bamboo frames make them much more attractive and blend well with any style of home décor. There is a Hamama logo in the lower left corner of one side of the frame. Usually, I'm not a fan of displaying brand names, especially on decorative items. But in this case, I think the logo has been done quite tastefully and doesn't detract from the look. However, it can easily be hidden by facing that side of the frame toward the window, if you prefer.

Photo of Hamama microgreens germinated seed quilt in tray with decorative bamboo grow tray frame and seed quilt label holder
The Hamama bamboo grow tray frames and matching seed quilt label holders give my microgreens growing setup a more attractive, "finished" look.
The matching bamboo label holders are great for displaying the coated cardstock labels that come with each seed quilt at an easy-to-read angle. These labels provide a useful reminder of which type of microgreens I’m currently growing, as well as the approximate number of days until the paper cover should be peeled, and the total number of days until harvest. Before I got these label holders, I used to tape the cardstock labels to the grow trays. The tape left a sticky residue and wasn’t very attractive. Now, my bamboo seed quilt label holders coordinate perfectly with my grow tray frames.

Each holder is a nicely finished, rectangular block of bamboo the exact length of a Hamama seed quilt label, with a thin slot for the label. Whenever you start a new seed quilt, simply slide the label that comes with it into the slot, which holds it upright and angled slightly back for easy reading. When you finish harvesting your microgreens crop, just remove and discard the label from the holder, so it’s ready for the label from your next seed quilt.

More Matching Bamboo Accessories

Hamama makes a matching seed quilt holder for storing your extra seed quilts, but since I don’t store mine out where people can see them, I didn’t need one. The company has just announced its brand new bamboo "grow shelf," a gorgeous self-standing, five-shelf, open shelving unit to current customers, who can preorder one now. I expect it to be added to the Shop section of the website soon, so everyone who wants will be able to order one.

Extra Hamama Grow Trays

Once I knew I was going to be using this unique microgreens growing system regularly, I ordered two additional grow trays. As of this writing, the price of two black grow trays is only four dollars more than the price of just one. And, since it’s essential to clean each grow tray thoroughly after harvesting one seed quilt and before starting another, it’s nice to have an extra tray so there’s a clean one standing by to start my next microgreens seed quilt as soon as I harvest the previous one. I can soak, scrub, and disinfect the used tray at my leisure (it’s also safe to clean in the top rack of the dishwasher).

Hamama Microgreens Harvesting Kit

The company offers a convenient set of three tools for harvesting the microgreens grown with their proprietary seed quilts and grow trays. The kit contains:

  • 1 reusable Stasher silicone bag (sandwich size)
  • 1 pair of scissors (with the Hamama logo)
  • 1 bamboo scrub brush with natural fiber bristles (for thoroughly scrubbing your grow tray)

It's a very useful kit, particularly if you prefer to harvest your microgreens by trimming them just above the top of the seed quilt, rather than pulling them out, roots and all. Alternatively, you can purchase a Stasher silicone food storage bag, a pair of sharp, stainless steel scissors, and a bamboo scrub brush with natural fiber bristles (or use equivalent items you may already own) to create your own customized microgreens harvesting kit.

Save Money on Your First Hamama Grow Kit, Seed Quilt, or Accessories Order

Helpful tip: Don't miss my Hamama shopping link and discount code at the end of this article to save 10%!

My Favorite, Practical Products for Growing, Harvesting and Storing Fresh Microgreens

Stasher Silicone Food Storage Bags

You don't have to grow microgreens to fall in love with these fabulous food storage and cooking bags

In August 2019, I wrote a review of my favorite silicone kitchen tools and accessories, including silicone food storage bag. But, after trying the Stasher silicone bag in my Hamama Harvesting Kit, I fell in love with it. I purchased three more in larger sizes, and I definitely plan to add more over time. Although they cost more than other silicone bags, they're totally worth the price!

These Stasher silicone bags are a cinch to open and close, unlike any other brand of silicone food storage bags I've tried. Yet, they're also airtight and watertight. Many people use them for sous-vide cooking, placing the sealed bag of raw food in a pot of boiling water. And since these bags are leakproof, They're also perfect for marinating meats, poultry, seafood, fish, or vegetables to infuse them with extra flavor.

Photo of four Stasher silicone food storage bags
The Stasher silicone food storage bags I have purchased to date

The Stasher bag that came with the Hamama Harvesting Kit is the sandwich size (7.5" x 7.5" x 1"), which has a 15 oz. capacity. (It's the smallest one in the photo of my current Stasher bag collection.) However, since I wrap my harvested microgreens loosely in a paper towel before placing them in the bag to store in my refrigerator, I find that I need a larger size if I want to harvest all (or most) of a seed quilt at one time.

The sizes I use to comfortably contain an entire crop of paper towel-wrapped microgreens from a Hamama seed quilt are the tall Stasher Silicone Reusable 1/2 Gallon Food Storage Bag (10.25” x 8.25” x 1.5” with a 64.2 oz. capacity), and the Stasher Silicone Reusable Stand-Up Food Storage Bag (7.75" x 7" x 3" with a 56 oz. capacity) that, true to its name, stands up on its own for easy filling and removal of the contents.

Dedicated Scissors

If you prefer to harvest your microgreens with scissors, it's a bad idea to use your general-use utility scissors that are also used to cut paper, crafting materials, etc. I highly recommend dedicating a pair of scissors exclusively to harvesting microgreens and herbs, and cleaning the blades scrupulously before each use. They don't need to be fancy kitchen shears, but they should be sharp and comfortable and have stainless steel blades. (Who wants specks of rust in their microgreens or herbs?) 

If I were putting together my own harvesting kit, it would include the Fiskars 01-004761J Softgrip Scissors with 8-inch stainless steel blades (or something similar), which are backed by a lifetime warranty. 

Bamboo and Natural Fiber Bristle Scrub Brush

It's important to clean Hamama grow trays very thoroughly before starting each seed quilt. Although the trays are top-rack dishwasher safe, the top rack or our modestly sized dishwasher is usually filled to capacity with glasses, cups, bowls, long-handled spatulas, cooking tongs, etc. So, I prefer to scrub my grow trays by hand.

It can be challenging to clean between the ridges inside the black grow trays, particularly at the corners and around the perimeter. That's why the Hamama Harvesting Kit includes the small, round, bamboo handled scrub brush with natural fiber bristles, which I find invaluable for this purpose.

When I looked for a similar brush, most of them had either synthetic bristles or components made of plastic or other non-biodegradable components. After considerable searching, I finally found a palm-sized, mildew-resistant round bamboo scrub brush with organic, natural fiber bristles, very similar to the one in the Hamama Harvesting Kit. As a bonus, it comes with soap dish that can also be used to store the scrub brush out on the counter, if desired (just make sure both the brush and the dish are completely dry first). 

This versatile brush has medium-hard bristles that can also be used to clean even non-stick pots and pans, dishes, vegetables, and more.

3% Food Grade Hydrogen Peroxide and Fine Mist Spray Bottle

Only one of my Hamama seed quilts has ever developed mold, back when I was still a seed quilt "newbie." It was hot and humid in our living room, since we don't have central air conditioning and only turn on each room's A/C unit when we are actively using the room. I made the common rookie mistake of over-watering that one seed quilt, so that the paper covering was wet. When, unsurprisingly, about a third of the sections failed to germinate. I then compounded the problem by covering those water-logged sections with strips of newspaper for two days, after reading a troubleshooting tip for a different problem. (I did say I had a brown thumb!) Of course, when I pulled off the newspaper strips at the end of two days, there were signs of mold, and unfortunately, the seed quilt was unsalvageable at that point.

Before throwing away the moldy seed quilt, I took a couple of photos and shared them in the Hamama Friends group on Facebook and asked how I could prevent a recurrence. The answers were very instructive. One of the best recommendations I got was from a woman who recommended that spraying the surface of the water in the grow tray with food-grade 3% hydrogen peroxide before soaking future seed quilts. She also said she mists the leaves with it after peeling off the paper cover, and hasn't had any mold issues since she started doing that.

I immediately ordered a bottle of food grade 3% hydrogen peroxide. A while ago, I had purchased a dozen small, cobalt blue glass mister bottles. I filled one of them with the 3% hydrogen peroxide and labeled it (since the rest of my cobalt glass misters are also filled with clear liquids), and it now lives next to my Hamama grow trays to remind me to spritz the water before soaking each new seed quilt. And, like the helpful person who suggested I use the 3% hydrogen peroxide for this purpose, I haven't seen a speck of mold since I started following her excellent advice!

I find these pretty and practical cobalt blue glass spritzer bottles useful for many different purposes. They spray a very fine mist, which makes them ideal for evenly and lightly moistening metal clay with distilled water, since this material dries out very quickly when exposed to air while working with it. I keep another filled with isopropyl alcohol for sanitizing makeup brushes, tweezers, manicure implements, etc. in between full soap-and-water cleanings. I also find that they don't leak, so I'm considering keeping another bottle filled with a CDC-approved alcohol-based disinfectant in my purse for when I leave the house. The cobalt glass isn't just pretty; it also helps protect the contents against UV rays.

Save 10% on Your First Hamama Order!

If you haven't ordered directly from the Hamama website before, you can use my Hamama shopping link (or click on the image below), add the products you want to the shopping cart, then use the discount code SUPERGREENS during checkout to get 10% off your product total. And if you're lucky enough to have receive a Hamama grow kit as a gift, you can use this link and discount code to save 10% on the beautiful bamboo accessories made exclusively for the Hamama seed quilt and grow tray system.

My Favorite Hamama Microgreens Seed Quilt Accessories by Margaret Schindel

Posts In This Series About My Keto Diet Journey

My Favorite Hamama Microgreens Seed Quilt Accessories

Hamama Microgreens Growing Kit Review & Success Tips

Good Dee’s Keto Cookie Low Carb Baking Mix Review

Low Carb Keto Chocolate Yogurt Granola Chip Pudding Recipe

Low Carb Muffins & Cupcakes: Treats to Enjoy on a Keto Diet

Preparing to Succeed on the Keto Diet, Part Two

Preparing to Succeed on the Keto Diet, Part One

My First Year on The Keto Diet


Reviews of the Keto Diet by Barbara C. (aka Brite-Ideas)

My Personal Keto Testimonial

How I Stayed Committed to the Ketogenic Way of Eating


Read More Reviews About Health and Wellness by Our Review This Reviews Contributors

Read More Gardening Reviews by Our Review This Reviews Contributors






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Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Heather Morris' Cilka's Journey, A Book Review

Heather Morris' Cilka's Journey, A Book Review

Following the very successful novel The Tattooist of Auschwitz, comes Heather Morris' 2019 book, Cilka's Journey. Yes, it is a sequel of sorts to the first book though it definitely stands alone. 

Frankly, this book is another dark look into a horrible time in man's history. That's to be expected based on the subject of the novel. Initially, I did not care for how the story flipped back and forth between the main character's time in the Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp in Germany and in her time in the Vorkuta Gulag Labor Camp in Russia but I quickly managed to overcome the darkness and the style and be absorbed by the very real characters in the story.

Cilka was sent to Birkenau when she was taken from her home at the age of 16 simply because she was Jewish and young and healthy and able to work. When Birkenau was liberated, she was tried and sent to the Siberian labor camp for having slept with the enemy. For her crime, she received a sentence of 15 years of hard labor. 

Whether the beautiful 16 year old really had any choice about whether to sleep with the enemy or not is debatable but the book is about her journey through and survival of both facilities. I don't need to say how unpleasant that situation was and I will not reveal how it ended.  Here's the official book trailer:


 


This second video is from the author and discusses albeit briefly the connection between this book and her first, The Tattooist of Auschwitz. 

Warning, this next video has LOTS OF SPOILERS but it does do a good job of telling you about the story.



FICTION OR NON-FICTION?

If you watched the preceding video, you know the answer to this question. Cilka's Journey is a fictional account of the true-life story of Cecília Kováčová. 

Of course, the story is filled out with details the author cannot really know but in large part it is said that the book is based on the conditions and situations people including Cilka found themselves living in at those two facilities. 

Descendants, however, declare the story to be outrageous calling it "lurid and titillating." They say that this is not the way Cilka shared her story to them.

The author defends the book saying that it is based on first-hand testimony given by people she interviewed and the experiences of women who were subjected to the life in those camps. She says, "It is a novel and does not represent the entire facts of Cilka's life." You can read more about the controversy here on The Guardian

In another interview with ABC, the author defends the disputed fact that women were used sexually in the camps and sums up with, "If it's all the same to you I think I'll go with their testimonies because they were there."


Heather Morris' Cilka's Journey Book Review


IS IT RECOMMENDED?

Yes, this book is HIGHLY RECOMMEND by me. The book has an average 4.39 stars on Goodreads and 92 percent of the reviewers on Amazon gave the book a five-star rating.

WARNINGS

Well, I feel that writing a warning about the unpleasant reading that comes in a book set in Nazi Germany and a Siberian Labor Camp in the 1940s is almost unnecessary I will say that this book deals with sex, starvation, murder.  The main character's work in the Labor Camp finds the reader face to face with terrible workplace accidents. It is definitely not nice but it is present and it is an intricate part of the story.  Plus, of course, there is the controversy of just how true this story really is.

WHO SHOULD READ THIS BOOK

Anyone who has an interest in historical fiction will enjoy the book, with consideration to the warnings given above. Anyone who read The Tattooist of Auschwitz and liked it will enjoy this book. As author Heather Morris says in the second video shown above, you should enjoy this book "not for the horror and evil that is included but for the humanity and the compassion and the love and the hope." I agree.

You can find your copy of Cilka's Journey on Amazon by clicking right here. Be sure to come back and let us know what you think of the book.

See you
at the bookstore!
Brenda

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Monday, October 19, 2020

Reviewing Beginning Soap Making Supplies

 I have always wanted to learn soap-making but have been intimidated by the recipes and working with lye. This year I tried an even more basic soap-making process with Melt & Pour soap base. I completed two batches using this easy method. It was an excellent start and required only a short list of supplies.



I ordered the Honey Melt & Pour Soap Base, a silicone soap mold, and a mixing cup with a pour spout. I already had essential oil, inexpensive mixing spoons, a spray bottle with rubbing alcohol, a cutting board and a knife.  The only other thing needed is a heat source. Most people use their microwaves for this process and some use a double boiler pan on the stove. 

The shortened version of melt & pour soap-making is:

  • purchase a melt & pour soap base
  • cut that base into small chunks and melt in the microwave using very short bursts of time
  • once melted, add in a very small amount of essential oil 
  • stir very gently (in order to avoid making bubbles)
  • pour into a soap mold
  • spritz the top of the soaps with alcohol (this removes the bubbles and is not a required step)
  • allow soaps to dry before removing from the molds

The Melt & Pour soap bases come in a variety of ingredients. I chose the honey base first. And so far it has been my favorite. I have since used a Shea Melt & Pour base. 

I used this silicone soap bar mold and I like it a lot. It came in a pack of 3. 


With the silicone soap mold, the bars popped out easily (pushing them from the back side) once they dried. Also, with 3 molds, I didn't feel pressured to make then pour the exact amounts needed for the mold. I just poured bars of soap until my mixture ran out. I made small batches so that was only about 6 bars of soap. 

Using Melt & Pour soap base is a great way to get over your fear of beginning soap-making. After I made 2 batches of soap using this process, I did move on to making a batch of soap using lye.

Soap making with lye can be done using either a hot process or a cold process. I used the cold process as it seemed the next natural step after using melt & pour. Someday I'll advance to the hot process of soap-making using lye.

In addition to using Melt & Pour as a beginning step in learning soap-making as a hobby, I highly recommend this as an activity to do with the children. Note: the melted soap base is very hot so children should be fully supervised and assisted. But like cooking and baking, making soap would be a great quality time activity with the kids. 

I do not feel qualified to instruct you in making Melt & Pour soap. There are many video tutorials if you search using the terms "melt and pour". I do highly recommend the honey base I've shown and the silicone molds I purchased. The initial cost for these items is not too high. And when finished, you'll have your own soap to use. 

With a little creativity, you can personalize your soaps. I used my favorite spiced orange essential oil in one batch. In another batch, I added some pulverized tea leaves and aloe vera from my plant. That batch ended up as an ugly bar of soap in appearance but I LOVE what it does for my skin. Melt & Pour is limited in that you cannot add large amounts of additional ingredients or you will change the ratio that is what makes it soap. However, just a few drops of essential oils goes a very long way. 

If you have been wanting to try soap-making, but haven't yet, consider giving Melt & Pour a try.

My first batch of soap: Honey Melt & Pour base.






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Sunday, October 18, 2020

Book Related Home Decor - A Review of Various Product Ideas


With the holidays creeping up, gift ideas start rolling around in our heads.

For the avid reader, book-related home decor is an excellent choice. Generally speaking, home decor can be quite expensive, so you may want to pool your resources. 

You Can View a List of Suggested Book Related Home Decor Products Here

Book Themed End-Tables

You have to check these out. They vary in design and style, and some feature the base or tabletop in the shape and/or look of stacked books. They're quite pricy, so as mentioned above, you may need to pool resources to give one of these as a gift.

Area Rugs Featuring Book Art

These particular rugs come in multiple styles. The most common designs are the book-themed area rugs for children. You've probably seen many of those online. They're bright and colorful and ideal for a nursery, playroom, or even the classroom. Nowadays, they're a practical addition to the homeschooling work area.

There are other styles of book rugs suitable for an adult space. They feature original artwork of books or book pages on the rug. An adult-themed book area rug is ideal for a home office, home library, a reading room, or a bedroom designed with a book theme. 

Lamps Designed With Books

If an area rug or book-themed end table is too large an investment, take a look at these book-themed lamps. Some are sculpted with a prominent figure standing on top of a stack of books. Check out the prices; I think you'll be surprised at their affordability for a wedding shower or birthday gift. The likelihood that someone else shows up with one of these lamps is probably slim to nil, so you're sure to be gifting something unique.

Book Wallpaper, Murals, Art and Decals

When we consider book-themed decor, we generally think in terms of art pieces. You can find wallpaper that mocks the look of a library wall or go with smaller vinyl graphics. Wallpaper that looks like a bookshelf filled with books makes a stunning addition to a room decorated in a warm, deep, comfortable theme. You can view a larger variety of book artwork on the product page link above; however, here are a few examples to give you an idea of just how rich-looking these can be.




So, for that book lover in the family, you don't have to resort to just giving books as a gift - go for something different. The above product page also features several additional book-themed items not discussed here - be sure to take a look.




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Saturday, October 17, 2020

Review of Lincoln Rhyme: Hunt for the Bone Collector

 I have to say that I loved the Denzel Washington & Angelina Jolie movie, The Bone Collector that was based on the book by Jeffrey Deaver so when I heard that they'd made a television series I just had to watch it!

Lincolm Rhyme: Hunt for the Bone Collector television series
Hunt for the Bone Collector Publicity Photo from NBC.com

Lincoln Rhyme was Denzel's character in the movie and in the television series he is played by Russell Hornsby.   We see in the first episode how he became a quadriplegic and we also meet Amelia, the NYPD officer who is to become his eyes and ears.   Like the character in the movie played by Angelina Jolie, Amelia (played by Arielle Kebbel) stops a train to save the evidence.

The storyline isn't exactly the same as the movie which means that both the fans of The Bone Collector and people who have never seen it before can enjoy this series.

As well as hunting for the serial killer known as The Bone Collector, the team headed by Lincoln also delves into other cases such as the kidnapping of a politician's daughter and another serial killer who has perfected the perfect murder ..... until he came into Lincoln's orbit that is.

If you love the thrill of vicariously trying to catch a serial killer while solving other crimes and being on the edge of your seat as members of 'your team' are put in danger then you will love this series.

There's only one problem with this series, they decided to cancel it after one season so my tip is to stop watching it about five minutes before the end of the final episode.   Otherwise, you'll be like me and forever be asking a question that was left as a cliffhanger.

Not only do I 100% recommend watching this series if you haven't seen the movie yet - check it out!  My husband and I are thinking of re-watching it since we've finished this series (which we did over two days - it's definitely binge-worthy!).

We watched the series on one of the free to air channels here in Australia, but I was thrilled to find that it's also available to watch on Amazon Prime.   I really do enjoy having Amazon Prime, we get to watch great shows and I also get to read some great books and that's just two of the perks!




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Friday, October 16, 2020

Halloween Videos for Kids

Halloween Videos
Not all Halloween videos are scary.  I have previously reviewed several Halloween videos for kids.  These movies are fun and entertaining without be too horrifying.  After all, we don't want our children frightened or having nightmares.

When my own children were young, we enjoyed watching Halloween movies together.  Actually, I still enjoy watching movies with them and sometimes we even watch the animated cartoon videos they loved during their childhood years. 

When our daughter got married, we even had a special video night with her new husband just so she could introduce him to her most beloved childhood videos.  That was a fun night for all of us!  

 

Beloved Halloween Videos for Kids

Of course, everyone loves Charlie Brown in It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.  That would be the first video I would recommend for a Halloween family video night.  No matter how old we get, or how old the video gets, it is still entertaining.  

Because I love Winnie the Pooh, one of my favorite Halloween videos is Pooh's Heffalump Halloween.  Until this video, I had never paid much attention to Heffalump.  Now, I love that purple elephant! This is a very fun and entertaining Halloween video that the whole family can enjoy.

The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss has been popular for my entire life.  Children of all ages love that cat in the red and white top hat.   However, they may not realize he knows a lot about Halloween and a lot of other things.  Not only is this video fun and entertaining, it is also educational.  The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot about Halloween is only one of the many episodes in The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That delightful series.  This episode is available separately for Halloween viewing.

Lumpkin the Pumpkin is a lesser known Halloween video.  It's a cute video about a young witch who has no desire to be scary or cruel.  She teams up with Lumpkin, a pumpkin, to help teach safety tips on Halloween.  It is a cute and entertaining way to make children more aware of the possible dangers when trick or treating. 

 

You Can Read The Full Reviews Here:

 It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown Movie Review Pooh's Heffalump Halloween Movie Review for Children The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About Halloween Movie Review Lumpkin the Pumpkin Video Movie Review

  

This year for Halloween, why not gather your whole family around to watch a fun and entertaining Halloween video, or perhaps several! 

Here are a few more Halloween videos for kids that have not been previously reviewed, but would no doubt be quite entertaining & fun.

 



Check Out More Movie Reviews at
ReviewThisMovies.com



Halloween Videos for Kids Written by:

House of Sylvestermouse




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Thursday, October 15, 2020

Review Of Wolf ByPass Secateurs

 




As an avid gardener, there is a myriad of tools to buy to help with everyday tasks and it can be confusing to know what you really need. You could spend a significant amount of money on dozens of tools. With an experience of your needs and your garden's requirements, you will probably find you settle in to a few that become old friends and you use them all the time. 


Uses Of Bypass Secateurs

One of my most treasured and most used tools is a pair of bypass secateurs. They are so well used I just keep them in my pocket or hang around my waist whenever I venture into the garden. There is always a spent flower head to be snipped off, a stray tendril to be clipped, flowers to be cut for the house, or a shrub that just needs a little neatening around the edges. 

 



We have a  lot of beautiful roses and so there is much deadheading in the summer months. Bypass secateurs give a nice clean cut to snip off the faded flower heads and do not damage the plants. I also love taking cuttings of a variety of plants and find bypass secateurs are great for this job. 

Over the years I have had many secateurs, some good, some awful. There were the ones that hurt my hands due to the jarring action. The ones which broke all too easily, the green ones I lost and never did find and the ones that were just not up to constant use in my garden! The best pair I had I inherited from my Mum, but after years of use, they needed to be retired. 




For those few months I didn't have any secateurs  I felt a little lost walking around the garden and certainly frustrated trying to prune with a large pair of kitchen scissors which did neither my plants nor me any good!! As my most used tool I always coveted Wolf secateurs and this spring my husband gifted me a pair.


Using Wolf Bypass Secateurs

Wolf Bypass Secateurs

I am impressed. They look good and are mainly red in colour and therefore easy for me to see in the garden. This is important as if I get distracted I can and do leave them anywhere, but red is a good colour for me to notice! 

They are light, so carrying them around is not a chore and they are small enough to fit easily in my pocket. The handgrip is good and the correct size for me. I have not yet felt any hand strain from using them and I can be out in the garden for hours at a time.

They are strong! I have so far had no problems with any of the cutting and pruning jobs I needed to do. These have coped admirably with small jobs and the more challenging tasks. For example, I have deadheaded flowers, taking cuttings of shrubs and lightly pruned back a large jasmine plant, ivy and hebes with no issues. They are not for heavy pruning jobs and thick branches though, we need different tools for that task. 

Do check the width you are supposed to cut when buying any secateurs and try to stick to it. You will feel if they are struggling and it's best not to push too hard or you will shorten the lifespan. Get the right tool for the job and you will be fine. I have included two Wolf Bypass secateurs in this review because they cut at different widths and you need to choose the correct one for your garden needs. 

The bypass action makes them precise and neat enough to do more delicate pruning as well and I can now power round all our roses and other flowers deadheading with precision speed and ease!  





Generally, in my experience, these secateurs glide through jobs with no problems. I have noticed occasionally if I am doing a lot of jobs one after the other, where they might become sticky with sap, sometimes the blades clamp together.  I then need to clean them with either just a damp cloth or sometimes WD40 and a cloth. They are easy to keep clean and I have always had to do this with secateurs though, so for me, it's just a part of the process. 

These secateurs also come with a guarantee. This is important to me. I want to know when I buy garden tools now that they are going to last. If I am going to spend money and buy quality, I would like to have them for a long time. Like with any tools, if we want them to have a long life, we do need to look after them, clean regularly and don't leave out in the rain!!
 

As we all have different needs in the garden I also wanted to include this pair of secateurs for if you feel you need a pair of secateurs that will cut greater widths.

Wolf Bypass Secateurs


 

More than all of that I simply enjoy using my Wolf Bypass Secateurs. It is a pleasure, not a chore and so lovely to be able to do those tidying jobs and pruning required with ease to make our plants and gardens look and feel beautiful! 



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Warm Toes and Funny Socks are a Great Combination

Summertime has ended and it's now time to get out the woolies!  Cold feet are one of the first things I notice when the weather changes!  Here's a great Gift Idea!

Not many of us like cold feet and for me personally, it is the first thing that I notice as the fall becomes a fact of life.  I hate having cold feet! Add a pair of socks and I'm feeling warm well into the evenings after sundown.  Toasty toes are something that I really like.  


In the summer months that's not a problem, but once October rolls around, I'm scrambling to get my tootsies into something that will keep them and me happy. 

Bring on the socks!  

The days of putting your feet into a pair of boring socks are gone forever.  Today, many of us are choosing to use our feet to help tell our story! 

There are so many choices and some really fun ideas to keep the word "BORING" out of your sock drawer.  

My son's wedding a couple of years ago, was a great time to let loose, even though it was a very formal and "special" occasion, they still wanted to add some fun.

All the groomsmen were outfitted with Socks with Star Wars themes on them!  Both the Bride and Groom loved Star Wars, so it was fitting to add  little "Space Extras" into their day.


Novelty Socks have taken the market by storm.  Today you can get socks to show support for your favorite team or sport.  You can get socks that have funny sayings on them and lots with colorful patterns.  The best thing is that these are not just for the kids anymore.

These socks come in adult sizes for both men and women.  Oh children can still get some wonderful socks too!

Funny Socks really make a great gift for almost anytime of year. Even funny socks will be useful.  They aren't too expensive either.  So you can have some fun without breaking the proverbial bank!

When my grandchildren were younger I would buy them socks that were colorful and full of many different designs.  Sorting socks after washing became a game and some fun for them too.  It's so much easier to sort socks when there's a bold design on them, then just your regular white, grey or black sports socks.

Funny and Bold socks are just so much fun compared to what we have been used to.  Designs cover every holiday, sports teams, lifestyle choices and so much more.  You can even have socks custom made just for your and your family.

My best friend gifted me a pair of socks last year.  Looking at them you wouldn't think they were too outlandish, but when you see the soles of the socks, you just have to laugh.  She knows me far too well.

You can get some idea of the socks that are available on the link below.
Novelty Socks for the Whole Family

Novelty Socks are a great gift idea all year long.  Because they are affordable, you can send someone a gift without having to worry and with Amazon you can have it sent directly to the recipient.  Just remember to mark it as a gift at the check out!  

Are you and your best friends having a sports showdown?  Get them a pair of socks with their favorite team and let them walk the walk in style and support!

I like that you can send someone a pair of socks and you know that they will find them useful and I'm sure they will have a good laugh at your choice for them.  

My eldest Grandson would love the socks with sayings on the bottom!  His favorite would be " Do Not Disturb and I'm Busy Gaming" on the feet.  
These are the ones I have and the ones I'm getting for my grandson!

I'm sure you will find a time and a celebration that would be a perfect time to send some special socks to rock your family and friends.



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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