Friday, February 28, 2014

Romantic Movie Reviews: The Bodyguard, 10 Things I Hate About You, While You Were Sleeping, Anne of Green Gables, Brief Encounter, & The Way We Were

http://reviewthispersonalreviews.blogspot.com/2014/02/romantic-movie-reviews-bodyguard-10.html
I absolutely love being the romantic movies!  I have had so much fun reading the reviews of the best romantic movies for the last few weeks, and I have found myself grabbing my own old copies of the movies to watch them again.  

In a few cases, I have actually been introduced to new romantic movies by our review authors.  I really do love that!  Having a movie reviewed and recommended, truly helps me find entertainment that I have previously missed, but that I am sure to enjoy.  


Recommended Romantic Movie Reviews


The BodyguardThe Bodyguard review written by ThanksDevine, is a perfect example of an older movie being brought back to mind by an excellent review.  

Just reading his words filled my mind with memories of the scenes from that movie and made me want to relive the experience of watching Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner fall in love on the silver screen.  

This movie is filled with passion and I was reminded of looks of longing and desire these two exchanged with each other as I read this review.


http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00447L4KA/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00447L4KA&linkCode=as2&tag=review-this-20&linkId=4WTL23ZIFO2GGCCQDaisyDixon reviewed 10 Things I Hate About You and I was, once again, swept back to the past.

I had not even realized Heath Ledger was the male star in that movie.  When the movie was originally released, Heath was new to Hollywood.  As a matter of fact, since reading this review, I did a bit of research and found that "10 Things I Hate About You" was Heath's first movie.  

This was such a tender movie about first loves and discovering romance. I had to watch it again and, of course, my heart cried for both actors as their relationship developed.

I will admit, I also cried at the realization that the real man, Heath Ledger, was taken from all of us way too soon.   



http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/6304765266/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=6304765266&linkCode=as2&tag=review-this-20&linkId=SPG5YOSF4MBZOJVH
While You Were Sleeping  is one of my personal all time favorite romantic comedies. 

Crystalwriter wrote an excellent review of this fabulously fun movie.  Sandra Bullock and Bill Pullman both have a way of making you feel like you know them personally.

The two of them together in any movie is bound to be a hit, but this really is The Best Case of Unexpected Love.  

There are several quotes from this movie that you are apt to hear me reference on a daily basis.  I might mention "leaning" or "pencils" and if you have seen the movie, you will definitely grasp the implication.  


Romantic Movies by Special Request





http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0007NMHNS/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B0007NMHNS&linkCode=as2&tag=review-this-20&linkId=DQ2QBEADFFLWX2IF
WhiteIsland88  suggested that I include Anne of Green GablesI immediately applauded her movie suggestion.  In less than 24 hrs, she had written an outstanding review of the movies.

The romance part of the story comes more into focus in the second movie, but we chose to add and review the trilogy.  

While there is no question that you could enjoy the second movie without having seen the first movie, the trilogy is simply more complete with the beginning and end.  They are all worthwhile and highly recommended. 



Since I have never personally seen the movie Brief Encounter, karen1960's review was especially intriguing to me.


I do love the older movies and the beauty of black & white.  I always enjoy the close up look at historical places, architecture, clothing styles and political references of what would have been current day when the movies were originally made.

I have added this movie to my list of must sees.  I am certain there is a rainy Saturday in my future when this will fit with my desire of the day.


The Anniversary of a Romantic Movie Classic

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000W453KQ/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B000W453KQ&linkCode=as2&tag=review-this-20&linkId=7CDRIXVWK6DE6F6Z
I had not realized that it had been 40 years since I first viewed this movie until I read this review written by Serendipity831.

Talk about a flood of memories! I definitely experienced flashbacks as I was reading this review.  It is so hard to believe it has been 40 years.  I can easily remember exactly how I felt when I first saw The Way We Were.

Many of us grew up with the golden voice of Barbra Streisand setting the tone of our days and "singing" our lives. When she was teamed with the beautiful "golden boy", Robert Redford, to make this movie, it was bound to be a smash hit! 

Happy Anniversary to "The Way We Were" !


Future Romantic Movie Reviews

If you would like to share your romantic movie review with us, simple leave the link to that review in the comment section at the bottom of the list.  

I look forward to reading and sharing your review!
 





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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Sharing Chocolate Recipes

Favorite recipes are always fun to share with others. Anything chocolate is a favorite of mine. So share your chocolate recipes with me. Well, lots of other people, too. Simply by writing them out as Web articles.

Chocolate cake, chocolate brownies, hot chocolate, dipping chocolate. Whatever recipe you love can be shared.



Along with your actual recipe, feel free to offer tips or suggestions. Things that you've found to make it easier, tastier, or more elegant. Even offer some of the unique products needed to make your recipe. You can choose your products from the amazing number available
through Amazon.com.

  • Is your brownie recipe called the best ever by your family and friends? Then share it like Pukeko did here. 
  • Do you like to add interesting ingredients to your chocolate brownies? Then share it like I did with my Decadent Brownies. 
  • Maybe chocolate eclairs are a specialty of yours. ItalasDesigns shares her recipe.
  • If hot chocolate is your thing, share your favorite way to make it. Sylvestermouse shares hers here.

No matter what kind of chocolate recipe you have, you can share it. When you finish, be sure to share it by adding your link in the comments below. That way I can feature your chocolate recipe page. Being the chocoholic that I am, mostly likely I will be trying out your recipe, too.


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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Do or Di DIY


My Third Eye
When I was taking a high school Probability and Statistics class, believe me, an improbability in itself, my good friend and I sat in the back row repeating our mantra over and over again: “Ours is not to question why, ours is but to do or die.”  Then we would laugh.  Crisis averted. 

Sometimes DIYers get in a situation that begins to feel a little do-or-die.  I know I felt that way at least a couple of times during my recent kitchen renovation project.  That’s when you begin to ask: Whose idea was this?  What was I thinking?  How do I get myself out of this mess?

Home renovation, like grief, can offer up many stages: denial, anger, acceptance, and, finally, thank goodness, relief.  Geesh.  All I wanted was to reface my cabinets.  I didn’t know I was signing on for any heavy-duty emotional stuff.  I must admit, it was pretty cathartic.

I’ve decided there really should be home renovation support groups.  It is not unusual to need some therapy while in the midst of living in a home that is torn to smithereens.  DIY adventures are rarely neat and tidy.  We can all use a little encouragement to stay the course and push through to the other side.  It really is worth it.

Because I didn’t have a support group cheering me on during my kitchen facelift, I have decided to start one for all of you DIY brave hearts out there.  Our group meetings will take place on Facebook and Squidoo.  Therapy and cookies will be provided free of charge.  Just bring your renovation issues.  Of course, you are entirely welcome even if you have never experienced one single moment of DIY angst.  You can be our well-adjusted home renovation poster child. 

We have a new Facebook hangout.  I call it “Do or Di DIY” (the “Di” is me, Squidoo’s Home Renovator Contributor).  Please stop by and use your greatest DIY tool, your thumb, if you feel moved to do so.  A little love goes a long way.  And now, please pass the cookies... greatest therapy known to womankind.



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Monday, February 24, 2014

Insight

“I wish I could paint without me existing – that just my hands were there.  When I’m alone in the woods, across the fields, I forget all about myself. I don’t exist… but if I’m suddenly reminded of myself, that I’m me – then everything falls to pieces”Andrew Wyeth

Over the years, I have read many writing how-to books and tutorials.  There are so many that I can’t keep all of the tips and rules straight in my head.  Some have taught me entirely new information and others have reminded me of the writing rules I should have remembered from school.  None of them were the magic cure for my writer’s block.

The trick for me has been shushing myself and allowing my art to exist.

Does this sound confusing, the artist trying to lose herself in order to create her art?  After all, the artist has to exist in order to create. Right?  Well, yes. It is my mind, my body, and my imagination that produces my work. However, I understand Wyeth’s comment completely.

If I try to remember the rules, or worry about the expectations of others, I am not able to write.  If I set my imagination free and let it roam on it’s own, I am able to write. I must squelch the thoughts of rules, of chores and of the never-ending lists of things I must do.  I cannot allow my mind to wander into the realm of bills to be paid, chores to be done, and upcoming appointments blocks.  I am a slow writer, but I know that I write better and more productively when my mind isn’t stuck in the “what-ifs” and trying to figure out the rules before I write.

I also write better after I have had an emotional experience of some kind.  I am fortunate that I have had such an experience this weekend when I visited Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.  The conservatory was bustling, despite snow still covering the ground outside.  The Orchid Extravaganza was in full swing.  The sights, the sounds, and the heavenly scents rejuvenated my writing spirit. And like a child, I gazed with wide-eyed and open-mouthed wonder.  I lost myself and found plenty to write. 

I am excited that I am able to share this wonderful experience at Longwood Gardens with you. 


Image Credit: ©Dawn Rae – All Rights Reserved (Click on photo for larger view)










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Sunday, February 23, 2014

Writing Online -- Learn by Example

Writing online, especially when sharing stories about a subject you love, is easier than you might think. Writing for the internet is a far cry from what was taught in English - Language Arts classing in high school.

While you should still watch your grammar (or have someone proofread for you), online writing is better described as "conversation writing". Write like you would tell a story to a friend. I actually have a friend that talks to herself while working through writing a story online. In essence she is dictating to herself as she goes.

It's funny, I read mine out loud after I've written it to make sure it's easy to understand -- she does it as she's writing. There is no right or wrong, just what works for you.

Storytelling Everyday


At parties, in the bleachers or around the water cooler at work, we tell stories everyday. Simply start writing the stories that can be helpful to other people in some way. The internet is about helping each other by sharing our passions, experiences, successes and even failures. (I personally believe there is no such thing as a failure as long as you learn something from it.)

I have recently written 2 articles (lenses) on Squidoo that revolve around party planning. One was about a baby shower I co-hosted and the other was my daughter's sweet 16 party. In both instances, I shared what we did and made suggestions others can use when they go to planning a party for any occasion.

They didn't take much time to write but can be found by the right person searching for ideas for their particular party or shower. 93% of online activity begins with a search engine. Hopefully, my stories -- my articles -- will be indexed and displayed for those searchers.

Learn by Example


The contributors on Squidoo write their own stories as well as promoting the stories of others to help get the word out. Learn by their examples and the examples they feature.

Writing a story from personal experience, about a topic you have passion for, and publishing it to the web will help others find you too. You can be a writer -- you just have to write from the heart!


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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Reduce Your Online Risk

Reuse and Recycle Your Web Presence


The Web is the two-edged sword of the 21st century. It's the good, the bad, the pretty and the ugly. It's a wonderful world where helpful information and useful products are shared freely. But, on its dark side, predators lurk in the corners, waiting for an opportunity to rob us. Avoid the bad guys. Be safe, surf smart!


Hello Friends!

Today let's take a different route to recycling and talk about reducing, reusing and recycling our online personalities to make our Web travels as safe and pleasant as possible. I've been on the Internet since 1984 and, over the years, I've noticed some changes that have me concerned. I'd like to share these concerns with you so that we may change the tide and keep the Web a clean, healthy and positive place to gather together.

The Mystery of the Unknown Relative


As my mom found out recently, even an innocent post can wreak havoc on a person. Mom's name and the city in which she lived were listed in an online obituary. Mom wasn't alone in the list, there was a long  list of relatives. That announcement, meant for family members, 
almost cost my mom several thousand dollars. 

Mom received a phone call from a man claiming to be her nephew, he was in trouble and needed money. She was ready to open her checkbook but decided she needed to be certain of this man's identity. She did the smart thing. The man was an impostor. What if she had given in to her emotions to help someone she had not seen in decades?

How do we protect ourselves from online predators?


The Case for Privacy


Do you have friends that post pictures of their every waking moment? There are people on the Web that I've never met, but yet I've seen every day of their child's life. It's been a virtual tour of the child's first ultrasound, first breath, first time at church, first solid food, first birthday and first Christmas.

How do we protect our right to privacy?


When TMI is Too Much Information


The search engines encourage people to tell their personal stories. Maybe personal isn't the right word. Some writers take this encouragement to a level that is uncomfortable for many readers. I love reading stories about how people overcome challenges and adversities. I feel uncomfortable when these stories shed a bad light on another person. I quit reading stories that only talk about the negative side of the story without showing how the problem was overcome. This negativity is not productive.


How do we protect our integrity?

What Can You Do?


Avoiding predators, safeguarding privacy and promoting integrity are big jobs and these are essential jobs if the Web is to remain a safe, clean and healthy place to play and work. Here's how you can make a difference.



Reduce the Information You Share
Reduce references to your residence, place of work, birthdays and other personal details. Share only details that are essential and necessary. Make it hard for thieves to find you.

Reuse Photographs and Profiles
It's not necessary to flood the Internet with photos of every moment. Sometimes it is much more effective to reuse a few select profile pictures, pictures of family members and other recognizable images. 

Recycle Unproductive Information
Recycle any negative comments or feelings to the trash bin. Nothing is gained from an online rant or complaining session. On the Web, when you say something bad about a person or product, your comment cannot be erased or forgotten.

As a Web writer who shares personal stories in how-to articles, recipes and family tales, I always ask myself a few questions before I click the Publish button.
  • Would I share this with an absolute and total stranger? 
  • How much of my personal life do I want exposed to the entire world?
  • What impact will my story have on the lives of others?
  • Does my story share a useful skill or give the reader a positive feeling?
Giving a story or blog post time to sit before I publish has always been my best protector. Before I make a story public, I read every word, sentence and paragraph with a critical eye. Anything that I feel will put me in harm, violate my privacy or tarnish my reputation is tossed in the trash bin.

Until next week, be safe.

Coletta



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Friday, February 21, 2014

Imagine, Create, Inspire!

Today I'm going to talk about why it's so great to share your crafts for kids online, and the best ways to do it!

First off, crafting for little ones is so very important, because it encourages them to be creative and imaginative from an early age, makes for great messy play (also very important!) and can benefit them in a number of other ways, ranging from fine motor skills to learning counting, colours and shapes.

It can be hard to know where to start for new parents, so anything online that can help inspire moms and dads is a wonderful thing - it's where I started when I was a new mama! Reviews of books and kits, ideas for resource materials and basics, and step-by-step tutorials for different age groups are all so very helpful to your readers! And even when you're a crafting pro, fresh inspiration for your kids is always welcome, so any more complicated crafts and fabulous ideas you may have are perfect for young crafters as well!

Remember, everything that you do with your kids that makes them happy, could make other children happy too! Sharing resources with other parents means you are inspiring others to imagine and create their own crafts and fun ideas.

As the Little Crafty Kids Contributor, writing about kids crafts comes easy for me because, chances are, we'll be doing crafts weekly anyway, I'll be taking photos anyway, and I'll be wanting to share them online anyway! So it's really easy to find things to write about each week. Plus I love doing it, so hopefully that shows in the writing! Be inspired by the seasons, festivals and events, what you can find in your recycling bin, or the story you've been reading together at bedtime. What can you make today?



To write a great article or tutorial about what you're doing with your kids, make sure you take nice, clear photos of each step, as well as the finished result! It can help to have a not-too-cluttered background, but hey, this is parenting, so that's not essential! Take some colourful pictures of the materials you're using, too. Pictures of your children actually doing the crafts are fab, but if you prefer not to put pictures of them on the internet, then take back-of-head shots of them crafting, or shots of each stage on the tabletop. If you're a wiz in a photo editing program, then you could make a montage of some of the photos with a tagline like "How to make a Toy Oven out of an Old Box" or "10 Great Crafts to Make with Pine Cones"! You could use this as an intro photo and also to promote the article on social media, especially great for visual ones like Facebook and Pinterest.

Think about niches and keywords, and how to get traffic for different kinds of craft articles. Individual how-to's might not get many searches, especially if your tutorial is something unusual, but if you can slot it into a niche phrase that is searched for, then write a piece that incorporates it - for example, you might have a review of an Easter Make and Do book, a tutorial on how to make an Easter bonnet, and a how-to on different ways to dye and decorate eggs, and so on. Write a lens or blog post on "Fun Easter Activities for Preschoolers" or "Easy Easter Crafts for Toddlers" and link to each of your related articles!

How else can you help other moms and dads? Last time I talked about reviewing craft kits. Craft books are also great to review - most parents will want to buy at least one or two of these, but there are so many out there, a really good selection of reviews can help them choose. If you put effort into your reviews and really show your enthusiasm or passion for the book (along with things you've actually made) then your readers will turn into shoppers!

Share your thoughts on:
  • The ease of instructions for each craft
  • Age suitability
  • How clear/inspiring/beautiful the photos are
  • How many projects and ideas there are
  • Levels of difficulty
  • Do they work? Are they easy to make? Are there good challenges? 
  • And most importantly - do your children enjoy making the projects? 
 I created a list of craft books suitable for under-fives here, which you can use as a starting point for writing a book review. There have been some fantastic reviews written by Squidoo'ers in the last few weeks, such as this review of Show Me a Story by MeltedRachel, which shows the passion she has for the book as well as lovely photos of how she used inspiration from it to make story mats and maps from her leftover textiles. Meanwhile, tonyleather shared this bumper binder of books for making things from household items, which gets his granddaughter in the creative mood! Finally, CorrinnaJohnson gives a great example of how to review a seasonal crafts book with her take on Valentine Things to Make and Do.



Of course, when it comes to crafts for little ones, you don't have to just stick to basic crafts - you could also come up with recipes and ideas for materials (home-made paint, play-dough and so on), crafts to create toys and other items (we've been making rainbow rice for sensory play, and we've saved an enormous cardboard box to make a rocket out of!), and crafts for grown-ups to make things for preschoolers. The sky is the limit when it comes to creativity!

Next time I'll be looking at making recycled crafts from household items. Happy crafting!








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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Sunrise-Sunset and Night Photography

Taking  photos in low light can present challenges, but if you keep a few tips in mind you will be rewarded with some wonderful photos.  To get really clear photos in low light settings a tripod is a must.  Here is a photo that I took in my front yard on the 4th of July. 

Taking photos of fireworks can be a fun adventure. There seems to be lots of fireworks around our neighborhood so each year on Independence Day I set up my tripod on our front walk and wait for just the right shot.  I have found that the tripod is a necessity to get a clear shot.

In this photo I used my Canon SX40 camera.  For my settings I used a F8 aperture and held the camera open for 2 seconds.  The ISO setting was 100 and I zoomed to the 80mm setting.




I also enjoy taking photos in low light settings.  The time just before and for about 30 minutes after sunset can produce some beautiful photos.  I give you hints on taking photos during this time at How to Take Sunset Photos

I am not usually an early  morning person but the beauty of a sunset can get me out of bed and behind the eye of a camera.  Here is a shot I took at sunrise in Juno Beach Florida.  I arrived at the pier about 1/2 hour before sunrise, set up my camera and waited for the perfect shot.  I was able to take about 20 photos before the sun got too high in the sky.


I have been fascinated by sunrises for quite some time and have written about other encounters with photographing sunrises on this page Beautiful Sunrises.

As I visited the pages of other photographers this week I found two that I particularly enjoyed their takes on night time and low light photography.
  • Patgoltz is a wonderful photographer.  On this page Night Photography , she gives us great hints on taking photos at night.  She also suggests some interesting night time subjects.  I would think of photographing the moon, fireworks, and Christmas lights; all of which Pat gives some wonderful tips.  But how about subjects like flowers, birds, lightning and even snow?  Those are some of the interesting night subject Pat explores on her lens.
  • EditionH gives 5 tips for taking photos of the sunrise and sunset.  This lens was granted a Lens of the Day on 2/10/14 Sunset and Sunrise Photos  Be sure to stop by to see some beautiful photos and learn how you can take these photos.  My favorites are the photos with the morning fog!



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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Golden Rule


I Live What I Write - This is Real

As the Green Living Contributor for Squidoo, I often go in search of articles and reviews to feature.  My ultimate goal is to promote exceptional content energized by a writer’s real world engagement with a product, subject, or lifestyle.

When it comes to green living, I have found an endless number of online marketers hitching their stars to the sun.  It is truly unbelievable how many individuals attempt to sell solar power systems and photovoltaic panels.  Almost none of them have ever used solar power.  They have no expertise in this realm.  I spend no time on web pages that represent empty selling.

A few years ago, when I first delved into online publishing, in addition to writing with authority and establishing credibility, I learned another very important lesson:  Offer at least 20 things of value before asking for something.  It’s the Golden Rule of marketing and connecting in meaningful ways with others.  

The 20 things of value may take many different forms.  You might offer valuable information in the form of blog posts or complimentary e-books.  Or, the gift could be an honest review that won’t lead to a sale (because you knew the product was not all that it was promoted as being).  An outstanding tutorial is always valuable, as is a professional video or Podcast.  You earn loyal followers, and eventual sales, as a result of your generosity and legitimacy.

A quality blog offers the perfect opportunity to give first.  The same is true of Facebook or Google+ communities.  One of the reasons I am establishing new Green Living hangouts and circles is to be in a position to connect generosity to genuine interest and solution-oriented offerings.  As we come together in these places, and bring something worthwhile and meaningful to the interactions, our capacity to be seen and heard expands in ways that will generate good energy.  That energy, like the sun’s power, may be harvested in due season.





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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Meet BuckHawk, Review This Writer


Writing is more than a passion for me, it's part of my life. So when the opportunity came to write on Review This, I grabbed it. With my pen name, BuckHawk, I'm thrilled to be one of the featured writers here on Review This.

You can find me on Review This writing about chocolate, recipes, holidays, toys, home decor and online writing tips. And as we go along, count on me adding more topics to my list. You can read my reviews all you want.

 

The History of BuckHawk Writing


Online writing was another progression in my long history of writing. And yes, writing everything from business proposals to cozy mystery novels. In early 2006, I started writing online product descriptions. And went from there to writing online articles and pages.

By the time 2010 rolled around, I was launching my first website. While I continued to write for online sites like Squidoo, Wizzley, Hubpages and a few others, I put my focus on writing for my own growing list of focused websites.

All the time striving to improve my writing style, making it more readable for the online audience. I'm happy to report that both my articles and sites earned accolades and awards. I'm doing something right!

 

My Online Writing Name


Starting out online was a venture that I needed as the director of an animal rescue center - my other major passion. Fund raising via the Internet became a reality and my writing helped with that effort.

The name of the animal rescue center is BuckHawk. It was a simple choice to make my online pen name the same.

My online writing is still a benefit to the Center and probably always will be. That is where my two major passions intersect. 




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Monday, February 17, 2014

The Story of How I Rubbed Elbows with King Henry VIII

Hear ye, Hear ye, I have met a King.

Yes, I am name-dropping and I am pretty proud of it. I met King Henry VIII. How, you ask?  Well, I was strolling along a path through the merry village of Revel Grove and suddenly, there he was. The King in all his glory.

Then he was gone.

We literally just rubbed elbows. But that’s fine with me. As a female, I’m not sure I would want to have a meaningful moment with the King Henry VIII.  I’m more than a little attached to my head. But enough chat about the King.  Let me tell you about the glorious village I visited.

In case you weren't aware, Revel Grove is a village that is populated for 9 weeks out of every year here in Maryland. It is the setting for a wildly successful Renaissance Festival.  If you like festivals, you must find a way to attend this one. The song, dance, food, jousting, crafts, and people worth watching make the entrance fee a bargain.  Plan to stay the entire day as there is so much to experience.

My writing renaissance.


I have found renewed motivation and energy with my craft due to certain recent events. There had been a period of time that I had all but given up any form of writing with the exception of a grocery list. But I have found a home on the Review This! blog and I am beyond delighted to be able to write about Maryland's Renaissance Festival.  I am eager to share the highlights of this region, as I see them.  Maryland alone has many must-see festivals and fairs.  The Renaissance Festival is one of the best.  

Successful businesses are similar to successful writing.


As I write this I am realizing the themes that make a successful business also make successful writing.  For example, the things that make the Renaissance Festival so successful are much like the very first lessons in learning how to write successfully. 

How so, you ask?  Here are five things that create successful businesses and are helping me to become a successful writer:



  • Love what you do --  Loving what you do will help you focus on your creations rather than on creating the fortune you imagine you will make.   The first person who held a “Renaissance Fair” was reportedly a teacher who was doing something for her class; not attempting to make a profit.
  • Keep the attention of the customer -- Bored festival attendees will not return. Bored readers close the book.  Your writing must be mesmerizing. Or at least interesting.
  • Practice, practice, and practice -– Practice makes closer to perfect.  Don’t expect perfection in the beginning.  But continue to work toward that goal.
  • Don’t hide; advertise –- As frightening as it is in the beginning, you must show your writing to others.  Blogs, social media, and word of mouth of your friends, if you don’t advertise your writing, no one will be able to read it.
  • Know your customer -- Renaissance festival fans expect horses, knights, Kings and Queens.  If your readers want fairy tales and unicorns, you can’t give them Norman Bates and Jason.
I have found my place on Review This! If you are a writer (or an "aspiring" writer, as I called myself for many years) I hope that you are already following the five tips listed above and are on your journey to successful writing.


Image Credit: These photographs are my personal photographs from my travels. Images are ©Dawn Rae - All Rights Reserved.







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Sunday, February 16, 2014

Niche & Focus in Party Planning Articles

What is a niche? No, not the recess in a wall for displaying items but rather the definition as it pertains to writing for the internet.

Merriam-Webster defines a niche as:

: a job, activity, etc., that is very suitable for someone

: the situation in which a business's products or services can succeed by being sold to a particular kind or group of people

I think the contributors here on Review This! fit both bills. Our chosen niches are very suitable for us because we live them or are very active within the subject.

As the Squidoo Contributor in the Party Planning niche, I am always looking to hook up with others -- whether as readers or writers or both -- that are active within this niche topic.

If you are a young mom, you have lots and lots of birthday and other occasion party planning in your future and might could use some inspiration from others that have been there and done that.

Others of you might have already hosted a lot of different parties with great success. You have a sure-fire party food recipe or are super organized when it comes to planning and can share your tips or maybe you are a DIY Queen and want to share your party decorating ideas. All are welcome and encouraged!

There will always be people planning parties in need of inspiration and ideas. By sharing our personal experiences and knowledge, you help our fellow man/woman. What could be better?

Focusing When Writing in the Party Planning Niche


When we write, sometimes we have a tendency to include every little thing in our lens or article. What happens then is the helpful information a reader was searching for is lost in a sea of other information they don't really need. Result? Hitting the back button and no interaction or conversion from the article.

The best way to really reach our target audience is to focus on one or two elements instead of the whole. Squidoo used the example of a camera.

baby shower buffet table
My Sister's Baby Shower Buffet Table
Let's say you are taking a picture of a park playground. The whole picture involves lots of elements. This one might have a slide, a merry-go-round, monkey bars and swings. There's lots going on in the whole area. But, you can narrow the wide angle camera lens down to a telephoto shot of just the slide or the swings and have a much better chance of your target audience finding your article.

In party planning, there are tons of areas: Food, Games, Decorations, Invitations, take home treats, themes and more.

By narrowing the focus to one area, people that are looking for help in that particular area will find what they need quickly. They will also be more apt to interact or convert than they will if they have to sift through information they don't want or need.

I just published an article/lens in my niche this week. It had to do with a baby shower my sister and I threw for our other sister. But, instead of filling it chock full of ideas and possibly overwhelming a reader with unwanted information, I chose to focus or narrow it down to the baby shower food and buffet table we made for the party.

Remember, always tell people exactly what your article is about in the title and then deliver in the body of the article. Good luck and remember to contact me when you write in the party planning niche so I can help you promote and build a following!


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Saturday, February 15, 2014

Valentine Upcycle Events and Celebrations

Recycle the Valentine Happiness All Year Long

Valentine's Day is a day to share love, happiness and appreciation. It's a day for which many crafters spend weeks in preparation. Homemade cards, hand crafted gifts and upcycled decorations are all created for this one special moment. Share your love and happiness all year long by recycling the sentiment of Valentine's Day.

Hello Recycling Sweethearts!

I hope you all had a wonderful Valentine's Day and that you were able to spend the day with those people that are special to you. 

Last week, Valentine crafters around the Web were busy preparing for this romantic and caring event. To celebrate their handmade creations, the Recycler hosted an impromptu Hashtag Event. Crafters were invited to share their Valentine creations by Tweeting their stories and pictures using the hashtag #ValentineCrafters.

Almost 200 crafters were seen at the Valentine Crafters 2014 #ValentineCrafts Hashtag Event. Some showed up with just a photo of their hand crafted Valentine present. Others came dressed to the nines with detailed step-by-step instructions to duplicate their sentimental creations.

Vallain was seen Making Homemade Valentines. She saves scraps of paper and greeting cards so that she has a supply of recycled materials from which to choose according to her muse. Her Valentine card ideas can easily be reused to make greeting cards for any holiday.

MSchindel made a splash wearing the jewels she designed during her Romantic "Queen of Hearts" Earrings Project. I love these earrings, I love this earring style and I'd love to make several pairs, all with different beads to complement the different seasons.

It was a ton of fun to host the Valentine Crafters 2014 #ValentineCrafts Hashtag Event. It was so much fun that plans are being made for the Easter Crafters 2014 Hashtag Event. So, get your upcycled, recycled and reused Easter crafts ready. Write a how-to or recipe to show us your creative magic. We'll be announcing the date and sending out invitations in a few weeks.

Until next week, be clean and be green.

Coletta



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Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentines Day Special Edition ~ Romantic Movies & Music

Happy Valentines Day and welcome to this special edition of Romantic Movies & Music!

As many of you already know, I am a hopeless romantic!  Love and Romance are the essence of the beautiful rose called life.  Without it, most of us would wither and die.  

Because "forever hopeless romantics" are in love with love, we naturally gravitate to romantic movies and music.  In celebration of Valentines Day, the day set aside every year for love and lovers to celebrate, I am featuring a large selection of romantic movie and music reviews written by other forever hopeless romantics on Squidoo.  

These are all exceptional reviews and I warn you now, it is truly impossible to pick a favorite.  So get out those tissues because, without further ado, I give you:


Most Excellent Forever Hopeless Romantic Movie and Music Reviews

*All Photos are Linked to Actual Review Articles Written by Noted Authors

 
 Is Your Love Somewhere in Time? ~ A Fabulous Movie Reviewed by notsuperstitious13 The Notebook-True love at its best! An Outstanding Review by FreshStart7 Review of "The Cutting Edge" Movie ~ Precious Memories by DecoratingforEvents A Personal Reaction & Review of You've Got Mail by nicolepyles86 A Good Romantic Comedy Movie for the Whole Family ~ While You Were Sleeping Movie Review by Brite-Ideas Love Doesn't Just Happen, Sometimes You Have to Work For It! ~ Love Comes Softly Review by Grammieo Only You Movie with Robert Downey Jr ~ Reviewed by Kinworm "Grease": A Wholesome Youth Musical Review by Charito1962 Before Sunrise: a Different Romance Movie ~ Review by Aibrean82 40 Year Ago ~ Memories of Romeo & Juliet by Grammieo Who Could Ever Forget Wuthering Heights Reviewed by Kiwinana71


 

More Romantic Movies & Music

Because love and romance are a part of every day, I will continue to search for more romantic movies and music reviews to share with you right here on Review This!  

I would also welcome your romantic music & movie reviews!  Please, share the links to your reviews with me.  I would hate to miss something awesome!







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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Photography-Up Close and Personal

Close up photography gives you a different perspective on the world around you.  When I first started to photograph nature close up, I found myself noticing details that I didn't even know existed.  One of my first adventures into up close photography was at The Butterfly House in St. Louis where I worked as a volunteer.   Before my shift each week, I would bring my camera and photograph all of these beautiful insects.  I was fascinated with the details that I saw on each different butterfly.



The photo to the right is one that I took of a Monarch butterfly in the outside garden at The Butterfly House.  The details in the wings really come to life when you see a photo shot up close.  I love the way the white dots outline the wings of this wonderful creature.




In the past week, I have been paying particular attention to writers who publish articles on close up photography.  There are some very talented photographers who write online.  Here are several of the lenses that I thought you would enjoy.
  • On this page amateur photographer takkhis shares with us some of his tips for insect photography Insect Photography.  He has some good basic tips that he has learned through experimenting with insect photography.
  • I have learned a lot from the pages of photographer Steve Kaye.  In this lens he gives us hints on photographing birds up close. Pay particular attention to the eyes of the birds in these photos.  They are truly fascinating.  Birds Up Close  Steve was previously the Nature Photography Contributor on Squidoo.
  • In this lens Rob3 shares with you the joy of close up flower photography. Macro Photography Flowers


Flowers are always a great subject for a photo.  I don't think I ever really looked at a flower up close till I started to take close up photos of flowers.  They are really amazing.  Here is a close up I took of a Cone Flower in my back yard.  I love the way when you get up close you notice each petal of the flower.

Have you noticed how photos in articles really help to  make your lens more interesting.  Remember the phrase "a picture is worth a 1000 words", I think that  phrase is particularly true in articles on the internet.  Everyone wants to get the message quickly and a good photo can convey that message.  On this page Photos Tell Stories I give you some hints on adding photos to lenses.  You will note in the article I have a photo of a fruit bowl that was taken up close.  When you need to convey details clear, up close photos can really enhance your articles.








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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

10,000 Shades of Green


As Squidoo’s new “Green Living” Contributor, I have a dream of pioneering an entirely new kind of online ecovillage.  Together, you and I, along with other kindred spirits, can build something uniquely vibrant that has the capacity to make a real difference.

We hear a great deal these days about living green, but what does that really mean?  It means something different to each one of us.  I like to say there are 10,000 shades of green.  Though my shade of green is off grid green, not everyone has the desire or immediate capacity to take that leap.  And that is okay.  Be your own shade of green.

When I first made the decision to live more sustainably, I had a lot to learn.  Come to think of it, I still have a lot to learn.  That is the best part of finding my inner green… growing every day.  The thing is, it is much more rewarding to grow together.

What if we thought of our online interactions as a form of human photosynthesis?  Being bathed in the light and energy of those who care about leaving the world a better place is one way we increase our own green.  One hour of sunlight makes a huge difference to a plant.  Just imagine the power of one when it comes to shining your light in a way that greens up the planet.

I invite you to bring your green.  Be the photosynthesis you wish to see in the world.  Tell us your story.  Review the green products you use and love.  Share a tutorial that shows us how you do green.  You can start by taking a moment to visit our new village green.  While there, if you haven’t yet become a Squidoo member, please take a few seconds to join.  It’s one more way of increasing your green.

As Tom Bodett always says, “We’ll keep the light on for you.”  In this case, it will be the light of your new Squidoo friends.  Welcome home.



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Monday, February 10, 2014

Gunpowder In The Winter



“I prefer winter and fall, when you can feel the bone structure in the landscape---the loneliness of it---the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it---the whole story doesn't show.” 
 
Andrew Wyeth

There is a special beauty during wintertime in the mid-Atlantic region. The four seasons here provide that change, the death of winter followed by the birth of spring. Because much of the mid-Atlantic coastal region experiences relatively mild winters, the whole story is only barely hidden from our view.  We wait, knowing that it will be only a very short time until the spring story is revealed.

On a Saturday afternoon in early February, we walked the Gunpowder South Trail.  That the name that trail signs still proclaim and how it is referred to in older travel books. However, it is also a very well known section of trail in the fishing community and has since been dedicated as the Lefty Kreh Fishing Trail.

This area includes a handful of miles just under the Prettyboy Dam.  It doesn’t matter which name you use for the trail.  The important thing is that you should experience it if you have the opportunity.



We parked in the far lot, up the hill from Falls Road bridge.  We walked from the lot down the steep Highland Trail.  Despite having been whirled around in the Polar Vortex for much of the season, it was a glorious day. Warm and quiet. Just cool enough for the snow to remain solid and our feet dry.  No threat of bad weather approaching. The snow on the ground still lay undisturbed, marred only by infrequent footprints of man or wild beast.

We followed a feeder creek to the South/Lefty Kreh trail, along Gunpowder River.  We passed a pair of hikers as soon as we turned onto the main trail.  We didn't see humans again until we were exiting the trail at Falls Road bridge.


It was a glorious day, spent on a Maryland trail.  To keep updated about my adventures, please join me on my  mid-Atlantic travel page on Facebook.









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Review This is Dedicated to the Memory of Our Beloved Friend and Fellow Contributor
We may be apart, but You Are Not Forgotten

Susan DeppnerSusan Deppner