Saturday, August 30, 2014

A Song for the One You Love

Country Music Fan Reviews

Country Music Fan Reviews

In your relationship, does your significant other make you a better person? 

Do they bring out the best in you and inspire you to tap into your better self? Country Music Artist Chris Young sings about the power of love and it's ability to bring out his better self in his moving hit song 'Who I Am With You'.

Every time this song comes on the Country Music TV Channel or the radio, I'll jokingly yell to my husband..."HUN! there's your song to me!' Of course, he yells back, 'Yep, I can hear it!'. That may not seem funny on the surface, but it was me who informed him of the fact that 'Who I Am With You' was now officially his song to me ...he busted a gut, lol .... I said, yah, seriously listen to the words!

(Lyrics) Who I am with you is who I really want to be, You're so good for me, And when I'm holdin' you, it feels like I've got the world in my hands, Yeah, a better man is who I am with you

One of the nicest things he'll say to me is that 'yes, it's true, you do make me a better man'. After decades of  marriage there may be some truth to that! When I think back to when we first met, dating, marriage, children, business and now with grown kids, I think of all we've been through and how, although  parts of our life haven't been easy, we've remained good friends. We can still make each other laugh, and I have to say,  that's my favorite thing to do..make him laugh.

I'm grateful for the little things I still get to do with him; stretch my feet across the bed at night and have our toes touch, put my arms around him whenever I want to, snuggle up on the couch ... all the crazy insignificant things that mean the most and are completely priceless in this life.

With dad recently passed away, I think of my mom sitting in her chair, with dad's empty chair beside her, and how she no longer gets the joy of those little things and it breaks my heart. One of the many things I've learned with my dad passing away is to treasure my husband a little more.  I'll never ever get over the death of my father; it has left the largest void in my soul and because of this deep understanding that nothing lasts forever, both my husband and I are appreciating each other a little bit more these days.

How about you? Is there a song that you and your significant other (past or present) share? Do you still make each other laugh and consider each other friends? If you have a story to tell about you and your loved one as it relates to a country song feel free to share a link to your story on the 'Country Music Review Facebook Fan Page'.

By Barbara Tremblay Cipak
Country Music Reviewer

Added Bonus Country Song: Don't miss the amazing song, 'Dirt' by Florida Georgia Line! The song speaks to the value of Love and Life, and it's true meaning - You can read about it and listen to it here. The song is rising up the country charts, and it's currently my favorite song. The video is extremely moving.

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.”


Reviewing Halloween Party Invitations

Planning a great Halloween party means choosing great invitations, too. In fact, I start with the invitations. They can help me pick the theme, give me decor ideas, even menu options. So I'm giving you a review of some of my favorite choices for great Halloween party invitations.

Halloween Party Themes

If you think your party theme is simply Halloween, I have some news for you. There are many different themes that can all fall under this holiday heading. When planning your party this year, there are things to think about. Such as: do you want to have a costume centered party? You might even give away prizes for the best costumes. Do you want to have a family-oriented party where it's appropriate for children as well?

Planning your theme can be as important as planning your menu. Many of your guests will enjoy designing their costumes based on your theme.

Vintage Halloween Theme

I've reviewed party invitations for a vintage Halloween theme. These are great for guests who really love to dress in period costumes. Vintage parties are easy to decorate. The look of old mansions or manor homes that have gone to ruin is not only vintage, but also traditional Halloween. So decorating ideas and props are plentiful.

Cute and Fun Halloween Theme

There is certainly a cute side to Halloween. For a family-oriented party where scaring the kids is not the idea, you'll want to choose a theme around the sweet side of the holiday. Smiling pumpkins, candy corn, and butterfly costumes can be a great theme. Of course, you want your guests to know your party is designed around the sweet side so choose cute and fun Halloween party invitations.

Ghoulish Themes

For many, the eerie, spooky and creepy side of the holiday is the best way to throw a party. Ghoulish Halloween Party Invitations reviews some those theme ideas. This theme opens up the costume options to many. Personally, a ghoulish touch to my costume is always fun. I've been known to add a little fake blood to a princess costume.

So start thinking early about your Halloween party. The planning takes some time and you'll want to choose invitations that not only match your theme, but also show your guests what to expect. 

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.”


Friday, August 29, 2014

Cooking for Dogs

Everyone knows how much we love our dogs.  In a way, we treat them like children.  If one seems out of sorts, we sit with them, pet them and try to figure out what might be wrong.  I have even been known to run to the vet's office without make-up and still in my pajamas. 

Any time we go out to eat, we absolutely must bring home a treat for our furbabies!  After all, they have had to stay home and guard the house.  They deserve a special something for their devotion and hard work, which brings me to our featured article for the day.

Cupcakes for Dogs

Susan Zatautas shared a recipe for  Cupcakes For a Dogs Birthday and I can hardly wait to pop some in the oven.  Why wait for a birthday?!!  My babies deserve a treat today!  I just know Merlin will devour the cupcakes in a flash and our prime & proper Daisy will take her time and savor the flavor.

Now, I just need to figure out how to keep their "dad" from eating their cupcakes too.  Of course, I didn't see anything in the recipe that would prohibit him from testing these delicious treats too, even if they are labeled Cupcakes for Your Dog.

Bone App├ętit Puppies!  

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.”


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Seascape Photography

Sometimes we all need a break from the everyday world and escape to a calmer and quieter place.  For me the ocean is that calming break, but since I live in the middle of the country it isn't always possible to actually go to the ocean.  I have found that having photos and objects with these serene scenes in my home helps me to relax.

Seascape Photography

I love photographing beach scenes.  There is something quite calming and relaxing about looking out at the ocean and I want to capture that serene feeling in my photos.  When I visit the ocean I take lots of photos so that I can relive them in times of stress.

  My Photos on Zazzle Products

When I return home from a trip to the ocean, I work on my photographs and turn many of them into products on Zazzle. Here is one of my most popular scenes.  I have sold this one scene 709 times on 9 different Zazzle products.  It was taken at the beach at Ocracoke Island in the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  This beautiful scene can now be seen on prints, postcards, mugs, mousepads, magnets, tote bags and many more interesting items  Here you see it on a print.
bymbgphoto Browse for more framed art posters at zazzle

One of my favorite beaches to photograph is the beach area around Jupiter Florida.  We spend a month there each winter so I have plenty of time to take photos.  Here are a few of my favorite shots made into Zazzle products.
Coral Cove Beach Print

Coral Cove Beach Print by mbgphoto
Check out Ocean scene Posters online at zazzle

View other Palm by ocean Canvas Prints at
Look at more Poster templates and designs online at Zazzle

Zazzle Products by Review This Authors

Several of the other authors of Review This also showcase their water photography on Zazzle.  This first one by Heather is a beautiful array of colors.

Peaceful Evening Card
Peaceful Evening Card by Heather426
I love this turtle that Coletta photographed in Hawaii.

Hawaiian Honu Sea Turtle Hand Towel
Hawaiian Honu Sea Turtle Hand Towel by CryptiTicArt
This serene scene at the sea by Ruth is sure to make you feel relaxed.

Sunset Sea of Serenity Dry Erase Whiteboard
Sunset Sea of Serenity Dry Erase Whiteboard by abitosunshine
Shop for Sunset Dry Erase Boards online at

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.”


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Stop For A Moment And Think Green

There is so much that each of us can do to save our planet and make this world a better place for each and every one of us. All it takes is to stop for a moment and Think Green.


Before you toss that garbage into the trash, stop for a moment and think green. Could that useless piece of garbage be turned into a priceless treasure? Our Sesame Street friends at Oscar's Junk Band have a lot of fun creating music from items others have thrown in the trash. Stop for a few minutes and listen to their tune. What Bob thinks is a broken broom handle, Oscar turns into a rotten, terrible, junky song. It's all about recycling and recycling is good!

Oscar isn't the only one that thinks creatively. In Paraguay, kids living next to a garbage dump are Making Musical Instruments from Trash. They triumph over the tragedy of poverty by finding the good buried beneath the waste.

Turning trash into treasure isn't the only way to protect our fragile environment and protect Mother Earth. It's easy to reduce our impact on the environment with these 8 Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint. It's as simple as using cold water to wash clothes, turning down the temperature on the heater, and turning off the lights when no one is in a room.

Next time you're about to throw something in the trash, stop for a moment and Think Green. Could that piece of garbage be put in the recycle bin instead? Could that old CD be turned into a crafting project? Is that old sweater in good enough shape to donate to a thrift store? Think green and turn an old broom handle into a musical instrument. Oscar did!

Please help save our Mother Earth. She's fragile and she needs our help.

Until next time, Think Green!


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.”


Monday, August 25, 2014

Fort McHenry and the Star Spangled Celebration

There are many places in the United States of historical significance and the mid-Atlantic region is no exception. In fact, the area landscape is dotted with historical markers, buildings, bridges, and grounds.  I would like to spotlight one location that is highly rated and of great importance to visit.  I have not yet had the pleasure of visiting but I will soon.  That place is Fort McHenry.    

Photo of Fort McHenry courtesy via CC Share Alike license
Have you heard of Fort McHenry? Before moving to this area, that name would have been something that sounded vaguely familiar but I would not have been able to pull any details from the storage files in my mind.  I guess that goes to show that students should pay more attention in school. I should have anyway.

In the event that you too daydreamed through high school, this list may jog your memory

  • The War of 1812 had begun and was still raging.
  • The Battle of Baltimore occurred on September 13-14, 1814
  • The star-shaped Fort McHenry and the people who battled there were able to withstand 25 hours of bombardment by the British Navy.
  • This battle inspired Frances Scott Key to write the song: Star-Spangled Banner
You may wonder why I'm choosing to tell you about Fort McHenry now, especially since I have yet to visit. It is because I want to spread the word about the Star-Spangled Spectacular September 10-16, 2014. 

Over the years, each celebration at Fort McHenry has been showcased in the local news, and each year I think, "I won't miss next years celebration"  This year's celebration is the 200th anniversary of the Star-Spangled Banner and I find myself thinking, "I don't want you to miss this celebration". 

For more information and other reviews about Fort McHenry from travelers who have been there check out the tripadvisor reviews.   

As I shared with you, I am not a history buff.  I know the bare basics of some bits of history.  While searching for something that teaches the history of the War of 1812 or the Battle of Baltimore, I came across this highly recommended book 1812: The Navy's War by George C. Daughan.  I cannot bring myself to learn about history through dry factual texts. I can learn history, and enjoy it, through factual story-telling.  This book is highly recommended both for it's readability and for it's factual accounts.  If you'd like to know more about this history, be sure to check out this book.

*note: the amazon affiliate link is not mine. I do not make any profit from the sale of this book. Thank you Ruth for letting me use your link to share this book with others.

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.”


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Today I'm Gonna Try and Change the World

Do you believe you can change the world?

When you listen to the lyrics of Canadian Country Artist, Johnny Reid's song 'Today I'm Gonna Try and Change the World', you'll hear how the smallest actions by one person to another can make the biggest difference. It's in the giving that we receive.
(Lyrics) "I'm gonna say hello to my neighbor, Greet him with a smile, Shake the hand of a stranger, Sit and talk for a while, Tell someone I love them from the bottom of my heart"
Most of us understand that it's the little things we do in a day that make the biggest impact, 
especially for those we love.

The lyrics to this country song speak about how today he's going to greet his neighbor with a smile and thinking about it, sometimes our face is void of a smile without our even being aware of it. We're not intentionally being unkind, it's often because we're preoccupied or stressed.

If we began to look at smiling the way we look at taking a vitamin, brushing our teeth or any other essential daily activity, we just might change the world.  

We need a viral social campaign called 'Giving out Smiles to Change the World' 

Can you imagine millions or even billions of people doing this! Picture this, no matter our struggles or stresses, we look up at one, or more than one person, every single day then kindly acknowledge them with a big toothy grin or a compassionate smile that connects our eyes to theirs! The sheer collective energy this would generate from people all over the world could probably fuel a country ... similar to the concept presented in the popular kid's movie, 'Monsters Inc.'

Even the most cynical among us feel a sense of possibility with a simple smile or hug. The power of good out weighs the power of bad by so much that I'll go out on a limb and say, it's immeasurable. Yes we've all been through terrible things in our lives, some more than others, but none of us get out alive without a lesson to learn, a contribution to make or a hand to hold. No one is perfect, we're all students of the human condition.

Johnny Reid's uncomplicated lyrics get straight to the message...Today he's going to try and change the world. You can find more about Johnny's terrific award winning music on his website, and you can find this song for download here.

Do You Have A Passion for Country Music?

Country Music can be counted on to deliver poignant life lessons and you'll find another one in a country music fan review written by Ruth Cox, on Aaron Tippin's song 'Stand for Something Right Against Wrong'. Ruth's review is a good example of how you too can write about country music. If you're passionate about a song or a country artist, and feel compelled to write about it, be sure to share it on the Country Music Fan Review Facebook Page! That way, I'll be able to read it and share it with others!

Go forth and smile ... changing the world requires a paradigm shift of monumental proportions started by just one person. Thank you Mr. Johnny Reid.

Written by Barbara Tremblay Cipak
Country Music Reviewer

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.”


Friday, August 22, 2014

Are You Ready for Halloween?

Yes, I will openly admit it. I love Halloween. I do love everything about Halloween. What a great time to be just the right amount off-the-edge and nobody seems to mind. People don't even look at you funny. But, doing up Halloween right means getting ready. So I will share with you some of the fun things that I found.

Maleficent, the Costume to Crave

The first review up is the most popular female costume this year. Maleficent is the great Disney villain from Sleeping Beauty. I found a fabulous page designed to help us get the look of this beautiful, yet evil, woman. In Maleficent Costume, author Sylvestermouse not only shows us how to get the girls' version of this costume, but also helps us create our own. Now that is helpful.

Those of us who like to create our own costumes know that the time is never too early to get started. Obviously, I want to make sure that I get all the components I need to make my costume before the good stuff is sold out.

Ninja Costumes for the Kids

We can't leave the kids out of our Halloween preparedness. Some people think Halloween is for the kids. So, you need to be thinking about their costumes, too. And Ninjas are great for that glorious dress-up day.

Now, don't count on your kids only wearing their costumes for Halloween parties or Trick-or-Treating. These Ninja costumes for kids are ideal for pretend play as well. But, be aware, there are some things you need to know before just rushing out and buying that costume.

Author Sylvestermouse walks you through those things you need to know. In her article, Ninja Halloween Costumes for Kids, she offers great tips. She has a preference for keeping kids safe on Halloween and that's clear with her writing.

So, Are You Ready?

Getting ready for Halloween does take some planning. Whether you like to just buy a costume off the racks or make it yourself, the sooner you get thinking and planning the better off you'll be come the last day of October.

As for me, I'm not ready yet, but I'm planning. The vacations are over, the kids are in school and my sewing machine is poised to get started. Not to mention, my off-the-edge bones are dying to get started! Hope yours are, too.

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.”


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Photographing Washington DC

If you want to photograph on the mall in Washington DC, Sunday mornings are a great time to catch some beautiful shots of the scenes without a lot of people in your photos.  On a recent trip up the east coast we got in a snarl of traffic on Saturday afternoon and decided to stay just south of Washington DC for the night.  Sunday morning we got out early to avoid traffic and decided to make an unscheduled stop in the capitol for me to take some photographs.

Well I can tell you our timing was perfect.  When we arrived at about 8 am there were parking places available all along the mall.  My husband was able to stop at one area, let me take some photos and then we moved on to the next area.

I took a lot of photos of the capitol building but my favorite was the one above.  In this photo I sat down on the ledge in front of the reflecting pool to capture the capitol building along with the reflection.  I think the cloudy morning sky added to the photo too!

Use Smithsonian Buildings as Flower Backdrops

The beautiful brick of the Smithsonian Castle building made a great backdrop for the gardens surrounding it.  I tried to take shots of small groups of flowers to create interest.

The hanging pots were in full bloom.  I took some shots of the entire arrangements but I like this one with part of the hanging plot in the photo with the building.

The roses were especially beautiful on that August Sunday morning.  I love the way they stand out in front of the windows of the Smithsonian Castle.

I like the way these colorful sunflowers stood out against the grey buildings of the Smithsonian.

Capture the Monuments

I love photographing the monuments.  These two views each give a different view of Washington Monument.

Learning from the Works of Others

As we each transition away from our comfort zones and to other writing sites, both our own and/or other platforms I think we will find that there is much to learn from others.  Isn't it great to expand our horizons?  Here are some links I found to Hubpages featuring photos in Washington DC
I enjoy making Zazzle products from my photographs.  Please stop by and see my store at Mbgphoto Zazzle Shop   Here is one of my products from Washington DC
Reflections- US Capitol Beverage Coasters
Reflections- US Capitol Beverage Coasters by mbgphoto
Check out Us capitol Cork Coasters online at zazzle

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.”


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Let's Sew Together and Build Lasting Memories

Ask me where I learned to sew and you’ll get the answer that’s commonly expressed by seamstresses, tailors, and designers all over the world. “My mom taught me to sew!” Ask that question and look into our eyes. You’ll see a fondness as we recall awesome memories of spending time with our moms and their sewing machines.

When I opened the cover of Let's Sew Together: Simple Projects the Whole Family Can Make by Rubyellen Bratcher (Potter Craft, New York, 2014), memories of the time I spent sewing with my mom flooded my eyes. No matter what kind of problems mom and I may have had while I was growing up, we always ironed things out with the help of mom’s sewing machine.

Mom and I bonded early in life over the sewing machine. She didn’t have a how-to manual, she just let me play along with her on projects that wouldn’t harm my tiny hands. As I got older, she trusted me to cut the fabric, not my long hair.

Mom and I made some cool projects over the years. Clothes, dolls, handbags, quilts, and anything else that caught our eyes. As I thumbed through Let’s Sew Together, I saw how mom and I could have made our projects even cooler with the tips offered by Bratcher. With four young daughters, Bratcher knows what kids like, how to get kids involved in sewing, and how to hold their attention.

Let’s Sew Together is written for the mom that has a basic knowledge of sewing and knows how to operate a sewing machine. Moms with no sewing skills shouldn’t be discouraged from trying this book. There are ten no-sew projects for moms and kids to learn together. Start by making a pom-pom for some soft ball tossing fun. Make little boys a bold bow tie and little girls barrettes with baubles. Or, make stories come to life with a no-sew storytelling box.

For the mom that feels comfortable using a sewing machine, there are 27 sewing projects that are appropriate for pre-school age kids. Bratcher provides easy-to-sew projects that even adults will love. I fell in love with several of the projects and have already started the Quirky Rag Doll found on page 124.

I admire the way Bratcher combines sewing lessons with learning lessons. While helping children make Cheerful Flip’Em Placemats (page 68) and Prep & Play Place Settings (page 71), Bratcher suggests books with a food theme for parents to read with kids, shows how to teach proper place setting, and talks about the importance of feeding our children well. There are similar helpful learning activities sprinkled generously throughout the book.

I appreciate that Bratcher includes sewing projects for boys. Not only can boys help make their own clothes, there is a super hero robot to share adventure stories, a fortress for hide-and-seek fun, and drums to make a lot of noise.

If your child has expressed an interest in sewing, I highly recommend this book. There are a variety of projects for clothing, jewelry, table settings, pillows, educational toys, fun time toys, and party decorations. You’ll also find ways to make each project unique by letting kids have their hand at fashion design.

I give this book 5 stars. Click on the book cover below. This is an Amazon link that will take you to the book's detail page where you can purchase your copy.

Disclaimer: I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review. My opinions are my own.

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.”


Monday, August 18, 2014

Is Your Give A Damn Busted!

Do you have an emotional limit? ... A line that, once crossed, there's no returning from? Then hold on to your short hairs, you need a theme song to go with that kiss-my-bleep attitude!

Count on country music to come up with a song that tells it like it is. When we're not feeling tolerant of anyone or anything, the last thing we need to hear is a typically useful saying like 'turn lemons into lemonade', when really what we would prefer to do is turn lemons into simulated road kill!

My Give A Damn's Busted, by Jo Dee Messina

So don't deny your fed-up status, claim it! Go ahead and scream out these words to anyone who'll listen, and if they're not willing to listen, open a window and let the neighborhood know that your 'Give a Damn is Busted'... <---maybe that's not a good idea?

Considering the damaging affects that anger and frustration have on the body, it's probably a good idea to play both of these songs when you've maxed out your patience!

Here's another 'shove-it' country tune you can amp up when you need to wipe away those tears. If all you wanna be is Done, then 'Done' by the Band Perry is one hundred percent about just've had enough garbage and you've decided to stop letting someone or something rent space in your head; you're done!

Done, by The Band Perry

So get whatever it is you're fed up with out of your system and remember, it's ok to be mad for a while. But not for too long ... feel the pain, go through it, and get passed it. Then go ahead and celebrate your life changes with a huge glass of lemonade!

If you're a fan of a particular country artist or song, don't hesitate sharing your own reviews, opinions, or videos here on the Facebook Country Music Fan Review Page! It's a terrific way to support your favorite artists!

By Barbara Tremblay Cipak
Country Music Reviewer

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.”


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Reviewing the World of Mystery Books

One of those great things about having a website that reviews mystery books is publishers send you new mysteries for your review. Which means I get to read plenty of the new stuff before it's released. That's a nice advantage to having put in all the work to build the site and build its reputation.

Not an Overnight Success

Building a website and building its reputation are not an easy thing to do. I'm giving you fair warning up front. In fact, to create a website that draws the attention of some of the big publishers takes a labor of love and plenty of time.

In the web world, that "plenty of time" is referred to as aging. It means your site is not a fad, flash in the pan, or feeble attempt on your part. It means you are committed to making it work and keeping it going. The months and months of building up it's content may not see a single reward other than your joy of writing about your topic.

My love of reading mystery novels turned into a website. That was my own labor of love. Each new mystery I read turned into an article reviewing that novel. Like my love of Jana DeLeon and her Miss Fortune novels (

The Mystery of a Reputation of a Reviewer

It's not really a big mystery of how to build a reputation as a reviewer. In fact, it's simple. Be honest.

Sounding like the back jacket of a book cover won't garner any respect from readers. But, giving them the good, bad and the ugly is being honest. Oh, yes. There were plenty of novels where I just couldn't find any bad or ugly. But that was still honesty on my part.

I also had to be honest with those offering me free books to read. I have been asked to review books that really did not fit my genre. Certainly, it was nice to be asked. But I had to decline. I had to be true to the reputation I'd worked hard to build. And that reputation was with my readers, not with the book publishers!

Reaping the Rewards the Right Way

Those wonderful times when a publisher requests a review, and the mystery novel is right for my site,
I love doing that. It's exciting for me to discover new talent bursting on the mystery book scene. Most especially when I can enjoy the story, characters and setting, then look forward to more from that author.

Rory Flynn happens to be one of those. I was asked to review his first mystery novel, Third Rail. And am I glad I did. Take a gander at my review: Enter Eddy Harkness in Third Rail ( You'll see why I'm anxious awaiting the next book in his series.

Yep, reviewing the world of mystery books has it's rewards, but it takes hard work and time to be able to get to this point. For me, it was all worth it.

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.”


Friday, August 15, 2014

Romantic Broadway Musicals

I dearly love going to the theater to see a Broadway musicals even if I have seen the same musical a dozen times before.

When I was a teenager, I volunteered to usher at our local community theater just so I could see the plays for free.  I was always enchanted by the musicals.  

Night after night I would sit totally engrossed in the play and the music.  Occasionally, I would be so moved by the actors that I would forget that I actually had responsibilities during intermission and after the production ended.  I really just wanted to sit there, close my eyes and try to memorize the scenes, the lyrics, the lines, simply everything that I had seen.

Broadway Musical Favorites

The Phantom of the Opera (Original 1986 London Cast)
 As an adult, I am still captivated by the stage, and I am still especially fond of musicals.  I shall never forget the first time I saw Andrew Lloyd Webbers "Phantom of the Opera" or the incredibly fantastic version of "Les Miserables" featuring the music by Claude-Michel Schonberg. 

While those two Broadway musicals stand out in my mind as my personal all time favorites, I have seen many other remarkable musicals including Beauty & The Beast which I just happened to take in while visiting Chicago.  I had always considered it a child's play, but I found it incredibly enchanting and entertaining even as an adult.

 Hello, Dolly! (1994 Broadway Revival Cast)
 Many years ago, I had the pleasure of seeing some of what I consider to be the Broadway Musical classics.  I mentally danced along with Anna and the King of Siam in The King & I, I explored the mountainside and fell in love right along with Maria in The Sound of Music.  I played a serenading violin in my mind as I absorbed Fiddler on the Roof and I shall never, ever forget seeing Carol Channing up close and personal in Hello Dolly.  I was gifted front row seats for that musical and Miss Channing was beyond incredible!

I remember some of the musicals plays I attended in my youth better than others, but I very much look forward to seeing their revivals in upcoming productions.  I often seek out reviews of Broadway musicals prior to purchasing tickets to determine if I really wish to see a particular production.  That is especially important in difficult economic times when we need to be a bit more discerning about how we spend our money.  

Therefore, I would love to read your reviews of your favorite romantic Broadway musicals!  If you have previously published a review, please leave the link in the guestbook below.

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.”


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Add Interest to your Writing with your Photos

Wherever I go I carry a camera.  It might be a DSLR, a point and shoot or at times just my camera phone.  This gives me the flexibility to take photos to use with my writing.  When I first started writing online, I use to look for photos that I could use from a variety of online sources.  I found this to be cumbersome for several reasons.

  • Difficulty finding the right photo
  • Confusion on the copyright and how I could use the photo
  • Very time consuming
To solve this dilemma I started to take more of my own photos.  I now keep files of photos on my computer labeled with keywords such as foods, flowers, lighthouse, etc.  This way  I can easily retrieve the photos when I need one for an article I am writing.  

I asked several of my fellow contributors to Review This to share lenses they created where they used their own photos.  As you will see there are many ways that photos can be used to highlight an article.

Photos on this page are all my own-mbgphoto.
Top photo is a rose in front of the Smithsonian Castle in Washington D.C.  Photo to left in Concord Point lighthouse in Maryland.

As you can see from the links above there are many different ways you can use photos to enhance your writing, using your own is easy and you will be assured that you have the legal right to the photo.  I hope to see your photos on your pages soon.

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.”


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Getting Ready for an Upcycled, Recycled, and Earth-Friendly Halloween

Halloween is in full swing on the Web and writers are busy telling tales of their favorite Halloween costumes, crafts, decorations, movies, and books.

I have been having so much fun getting ready for Halloween, too! Boxes of scrap fabrics, bags of odds and ends, and baskets of ribbons are scattered all over my crafting room floor in anticipation of haunting crafts to come.

As you can see, it's not a spooky kind of Halloween for me. Oh no, it will be A Low Key, Fun and Not So Scary Halloween Party here at the Recycler crypt. Setting the tone for this year's festivities, these Big Bows for Steampunk Halloween Decorations will be seen hanging from vintage family portraits and sitting next to our spooky sculptures.

There are more upcycled and recycled Halloween crafts sitting on my crafting table. I can hardly wait to show off my Steampunked fashions.

I've sent Halloween Party Invitations to a cast of characters and I'll need treats for kids young and old.

My sweet-toothed little goblins are sure to gobble up these Organic and Fair Trade Halloween Candy selected by GraceOnline. She's put together a list of gummy candies, jelly beans, lollipops, and bite-sized chocolates that are earth-friendly and contain organic ingredients.

The sophisticated ghouls are a bit of a puzzle. Maybe I'll take a lesson from Poetvix and learn How to Make an Apothecary Bottle of Unicorn Tears and fill it with homemade bath salts for the hairy monsters, herb-infused vinegar for the sourpusses, and vanilla sugar for the fairy princesses.

And, if anyone wants to slip a little treat into my trick-or-treat bag, my favorite candy bar is Endangered Species Panther, Extreme Dark Chocolate (88%).

That's all for today folks! Thank you for spending time with us today and we hope you've found some inspiration to recycle your way to a Happy Halloween.

Best wishes,


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.”


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Mid-August and the Bounty of the Garden means IT"S TIME TO SHARE!

Have you ever just stopped and thought, "Where is all the time going?"  It seems like just yesterday we were discussing what we were going to grow in our gardens and now we are starting to reap what we have sown!

For some of us that means a bounty of beans, peas, beets, tomatoes and zucchini!  It seems that anyone who has planted zucchini, is now trying to find friends and neighbors who don't have any.  That's what gardeners do, they share the bounty that Mother Nature is providing after finding a hundred ways to prepare zucchini.

But the bounty of the garden isn't all we share, we also share our delight in this years garden, while dreaming of the garden that is to come next year.  So many of us are also sharing the seeds from this years plants, getting a head start on what will come next year.

To that end,  I hope you find a few of these reviews interesting and informative.

Let's start with this years garden and all the bounty that is found therein......
Basil Garlic Pesto Recipe  Use all the herbs that are growing in leaps and bounds.  Don't let them go to waste!

For goodness all year long that started in your garden you could try this, How To Freeze Rhubarb  Nothing says loving like something from the garden to the freezer to the table.

For all those who are reaping an abundance of peppers, you can do this with the red or green varieties and I'm sure your family will love them.  How to Roast Red Peppers

Jaguar Julie's got a vegetable that many people don't like, but try them in her recipes and maybe, just maybe your taste buds will thank you!  I Love Brussels Sprouts : 5 plus 2 Fabulous and Tasty Recipes

There are lots of things growing in the garden and I know for a fact that zucchini is probably one of the most prolific plants.  It's green and good for you, but what do you do with all the abundance? 

Now when all is said and done with the vegetables,  there is also a lot happening with the flower garden too!  It's time to collect seeds and keep them for a beautiful garden next year.  Get out there and start saving something from the present, to add to the future.   If you have never done this before,  there are some great ideas here to help you get started. The Time is Ripe for Seed Saving

Well, I'm hoping that I have given you just a few ideas on how to make the most of your garden abundance with an eye to the future.  Gardeners are the most optimistic people in the world, if it doesn't work this year, there is always next year!

Hope you enjoyed the review, I am the Weekend Gardener Contributor, come join me and many others, who write about what they love!

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.”


Monday, August 11, 2014

Seashells and Lighthouses as Summer Wanes

It is mid-August and summer in the U.S is slipping away.  I always feel a melancholy as my birthday approaches in the beginning of September.  Not so much because it means another year has passed and I’m growing older, which is true too, but because my birthday marks the ending of swimming, vacations, and barefoot days at the beach floating in the waves.

I love all of the seasons and spend time outdoors no matter the season. But there is something a bit sad as summer begins to fade away.  There is a feeling of freedom associated with not having to bundle up before going outdoors.  A feeling of abundant life as the insects, birds, and animals move around you.

In celebration of summer, I want to introduce you to Mary Beth Granger’s Lighthouse blog. In her most recent entry, she takes us on a tour of the Hereford Inlet on Jersey Shore.  Thank you Mary Beth for sharing this historical and beautiful building and grounds with us.  I swear I can smell the sweet scent of the flowers and the tangy salt of the ocean.

As summer comes to a slow close, I am squeezing in as much time as possible loading my kayak onto my Jeep and heading out to the tributary rivers of Maryland to kayak.  There is one area with a small lighthouse in the water. The osprey and other water birds are very active in that area and I watch as I float around. I can think of no better way to pass the last days of summer.

 Image Credit: ©Dawn Rae – All Rights Reserved

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.”


Sunday, August 10, 2014

A Relaxing Country Song About the Beauty of Unwinding on a Sunday


That's What I Love About Sunday, by Craig Morgan

Relax and listen to Craig's video featured below while you read! 

Does your own life allow you to have a do-nothing-day on Sundays? I hope so.

Maybe your rest time lands on another day of the week? Again, I hope you at least get that weekly break you rightly deserve. After all, what's it all for if we can't stop and enjoy the company of those we love.

There's something powerfully productive about doing nothing at all, and let's face it, many of us need to master the art of  'stopping'  ... especially with 24-7 access to the internet. So what in the world are you doing here on this page! Go rest!! Oh yah, I forgot; you're looking for a country song about Sundays - one you can play while you take that much needed sunny day stroll.

(Lyrics) 'That's what I love about Sunday, cat-napping on the porch swing, you curled up next to me, the smell of jasmine wakes us up, take a walk down a back road'

There's clear evidence that life is getting harder for our kids ... not easier, as it's supposed to. Neil Howe, Contributor for Forbes Magazine, provides an interesting and detailed explanation in his article "Generations in Pursuit of the American Dream", of how every generation, up until now has had it better than their parents. You may be wondering what this has to do with relaxing on a Sunday to a soothing country tune ... well, as per the principle of Ockham's razor, 'the simplest explanation is usually the better one', and the simplest explanation is this:

With the constant worries of life, like work, family and of course, money, our ability to decompress becomes an integral part of 'getting through it all'. In order to successfully tackle our life challenges, we need to find balance  ... more so today than any other time.

That's where the art of telling stories, mostly found in country music can play a role: The lyrics help our mind paint a picture of what an emotion really means. The story helps us feel the song; it's those feelings that govern thought, and it's our thoughts that govern our beliefs, and in turn, our beliefs then govern our actions. So go ahead and unwind! Not only will your mind thank you, but so will your body.

Story telling in country music, whether it's new country or that old time sound, has managed to remain part of the genre for generations. Craig Morgan's song offers the newer sound of today's country, but the story being told in his relaxing tune could have easily been one from any previous decade.

You deserve a break. Here's a toast to you for taking it ... I hope you enjoy Craig Morgan's wonderful Sunday song. You can find more about Craig Morgan on his website. Country music fans matter, so don't forget to Like 'Country Music Fan Reviews' on Facebook!

By Barbara Tremblay Cipak, Country Music Reviewer - Heart of Country

Photo Credit

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.”


Friday, August 8, 2014

Cheap Date Ideas: Inexpensive Dating for Couples

Whether you are a single couple searching for inexpensive dating ideas, or a married couple with or without children seeking ideas for cheap date nights, the ideas featured here today will provide you with dozens of suggestions for things a couple can do together without having to spend a fortune.

Dating can often "break the piggy bank", especially in difficult economic times.  Many of us are barely paying the rent, much less having surplus income to pay for expensive date nights.  We all need a bit of dating advice and suggestions for how to date without going into debt.

Spend Time Together Without Spending a Fortune

  1.   Go on a Picnic, a Walk in the Park or a Combination of the two.
  2.   A museum 
  3.   An art gallery or art show that features "starving artist"
  4.   An antique store & be amazed at the memories they can elicit and the stories you each could tell.
  5.   The local Zoo happens to be my personal favorite.
  6.   The local Botanical Gardens.  Be sure to pay close attention here and find out her favorite flower.
  7.   Horseback Riding
  8.   Hiking!  Scout out short trails in advance and be sure to tell her to dress for walking outside.
  9.   Go swimming.
  10.   Bowling can be lots of fun, especially if you don't keep score.
  11.   Skating:  Depending on your area, it could be either roller skating or ice skating. 
  12.   Kite Flying is really inexpensive, especially if you already own a kite.
  13.   Rent a movie and make your own popcorn at home.
  14.   Any local event like the fair, craft fairs, free concerts, etc.
  15.   Walk around the mall, chat and have lunch in the food court.
  16.   If you happen to live close to one, go to the beach and take your own cooler of soft drinks.
  17.   Play a video game together.
  18.   Play board games or cards 
  19.   Cook dinner together.
  20.   Take the music into the backyard and dance under the stars.

More Cheap Date Suggestions 

If you have additional cheap date suggestions or if you have already published an article about dating, I would love to hear from you.  Simply leave your article link in the comments section below.

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.”


Thursday, August 7, 2014

National Lighthouse Day

Today, August 7th is National Lighthouse Day in the USA.  In honor of the day I will be posting photographs of lighthouses that I have taken during my trip to the New Jersey coast this past week.

This first lighthouse is the oldest continuously operating lighthouse in the US.  It was first put into operation in 1764. Sandy Hook is found at the tip of the peninsula just across the harbor from New York.  
Very near Sandy Hook high on the hill overlooking the harbor I saw the dual lighthouses of Navesink.  With my long lens I was able to capture this photo.
On the very southern tip of the New Jersey shore we visited the lighthouse at Cape May.  It is a tall lighthouse that is open for visitors to climb.  I took this photo as I walked along the wood walk out to the shore.
One lighthouse I really enjoyed visiting was Hereford Inlet light.  This lighthouse is located on the Jersey shore about 1/2 hour south of Atlantic City.  It has beautiful gardens that surround the lighthouse.  Here a couple of photos of the lighthouse and the gardens.

Atlantic City also has a lighthouse called Absecom.  It was hard to get a good photo because of the fence and the lighting but here is one that I was able to shoot.
In the last 8 years I have traveled all around the US and some of Canada photographing lighthouses, as of yesterday I photographed 101 lighthouses.  It is always an adventure locating the lighthouses and looking for the best angles for photographs.  I hope you enjoy my latest photos.  

If you have a hobby you would like to share I encourage you to write about it .

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.”


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Major League Baseball Stadiums

Busch Stadium, St. Louis, MO
If you are a baseball fan, there is nothing better than being at a game in person. And when the game is a Major League Baseball game, it's even better, especially when it's your favorite team!

Girl's Day Out at the Ballpark!
 In June 2014, while visiting my daughter in St. Louis, we acquired tickets to a St. Louis Cardinals' afternoon game. The seats were fantastic, the view outstanding, the weather beautiful (although very hot) and the game fun, even though the 'Cards' lost 3-2 to the NY Mets. In past years I had been to a number of Cardinals games at the 'old Busch Stadium, but this was my first visit to the 'new' Busch Stadium which opened in 2004.

Ballpark Village at Busch Stadium, St. Louis

Ballpark Village, St. Louis, Missouri
We also had the opportunity before the game to visit 'Ballpark Village', a new dining and entertainment district in St. Louis located next to Busch Stadium. It just opened this 2014 baseball season and is located on the site of the 'old' Busch Stadium. Between the 'village' tour and the Cardinals game, it was a full (and fantastically fun) afternoon.

Favorite Baseball Stadiums

My favorite major league stadium is Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Home of the St. Louis Cardinals, my favorite team.

Kurt, known as BallparkEGuides1 on HubPages  gives us some great tips for enjoying a game at the new Yankees Stadium in the Bronx, NY. 

It doesn't really matter which baseball stadium you visit or which team is your favorite. If you are a baseball fan, any visit to a baseball game becomes a joyful summer experience.

'Take me out to the ballgame!' 

Available on Amazon

*Baseball Stadium Photos are (c) Wednesday Elf

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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