Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Food Review: Southern Good Luck Foods for the New Year


Set the table for a down-home New Year's Eve party. Give your family and friends the best of wishes with these Southern good luck foods for the New Year.

The Deep South of the United States is filled with good people, good times, and good food. Along with this goodness is an air of superstition and food symbolism. And, the New Year is no exception. On New Year's Eve, Southerners have three favorite dishes that are more than just good luck charms. These foods are plentiful and inexpensive.

Here are the three foods you'll find on a Southern table for New Year's Eve dinner. Serve these dishes to your party guests in the hope that y'all will gain wealth, health, and happiness in the coming year.

Serve black-eyed peas to grow your wealth

Don't go making the mistake of calling these dried packages of protein beans. Any Southerner will tell you that these are not beans, these are peas. Black-eyed peas, in fact, and they symbolize good luck.

It is believed that eating black-eyed peas will help expand wealth because the peas swell up and expand when cooked. Also, black-eyed peas can endure the rough spots. These peas grow in the harsh southern summer sun when many other plants wither and die.

Black-eyed peas are served often at our house. It's easy to cook black-eyed peas and there are so many ways to prepare these staple foods.  We make a simple black-eyed pea and vegetable soup with onions, carrots, and collard greens.

Patrick and Gina Neeley, from Down Home with the Neeleys on the Food Network, have an awesome recipe for Black-Eyed Peas with Bacon and Pork. Their recipe calls for chicken stock. If you are looking for a low-sodium and vegetarian soup stock, save your vegetable scraps and make your own homemade vegetable soup stock instead.

Add a side of collards to have hope for better things to come


Collard greens are the color of money, the color of hope, and the color of new growth. How can you go wrong with the triple crown of good luck?

This West Coast girl had never heard of collards until moving to the South. The bitter taste and tough texture weren't to my liking. Then we started growing collards in our garden and picking the young leaves for our dinners. The flavor is much milder and the leaves are much easier to eat.

Another popular Southern cook, Paula Deen, has a simple dish for a Quick Collard Green Saute that is delicious. If you don't like collard greens, you can substitute any of the cooking greens such as spinach, mustard greens, bok choy, or Chinese cabbage.

Clean your plate with cornbread to keep your good fortune

Leqenik by Violetamyftari. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
As my best Southern Gentleman would say, "Gotta slop up all those peas and collards, can't let the good luck go to waste." And a slice of golden cornbread is just the way to save your good fortune. The golden yellow of the cornbread symbolizes riches and because the cornbread rises as it cooks, it is a symbol of increasing wealth.

Add a touch of golden happiness to your New Year's meal with this Buttery Corn Bread Recipe from Taste of Home. This is a simple recipe that just takes a few minutes to mix together and 30 minutes to bake.

Sit back and enjoy your holiday get-together


After dinner, sit back and enjoy the Southern hospitality. Spend quality time with your family and friends. Share some laughter. Sing some happy songs. And, have hope in a prosperous new year.



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Sunday, December 28, 2014

Bruno Mars Spectacular 2012 Grammy Performance

Bruno Mars Doo-Wops and Hooligans on Amazon
Years before Bruno Mars became a mainstream talent, I remember my 'anti-mainstream son' calling me over to his computer to watch 'this really talented guy'...named Bruno Mars

My son, who's in a pop-punk band, must have an eye for talent because he also introduced me to Jason Mraz and The Fray before both were really well known.

Bruno Mars & the Hooligans 2012 Grammy Performance

If you search YouTube, you'll find a few videos of the 2012 Grammy performance. I had a video featured here, but unfortunately they come and go on YouTube, so it's best to search for yourself.

After the Grammys, I went on a search to listen to other performances of the song; Britain's The X Factor, 'La Maroquinerie in Paris, The Jungle Tour, The Today Show and many more! Their performance on The X Factor has a severely respectable 4.7 million views and it's great! However, I really enjoyed the Paris performance of Runaway (there's a bit of 'language' in the beginning). It's more of an intimate setting making you feel like you're crashing a private party!

Here's the Paris Performance!


(Warning: Language in this Video)

Bruno Mars is the Best all Around Entertainer Since Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson!

He's the total package; wicked fierce talent, charismatic sex appeal, and can he dance! He also has deep demographic reach. He's a multi-generational talent and although the younger generation may not appreciate the value of being able to attract all ages, it's a rare thing. It's one of the first signs that a star has the gift of 'staying power'.

A little about The Song Runaway by Bruno Mars and the Hooligans
You'll find the song Runaway on the studio album Doo-Wops & Hooligans. It was released on October 4, 2010. The doo-wop sound of the album was chosen to appeal to a broad range of listeners from both genders. The album charted all over the world! If you remember the song, 'Just the Way You Are'..well it was the lead single and it stood number 1 for four weeks on the Billboard Hot 100. This album features numerous hit songs; Grenade, Just the Way You Are, Runaway Baby and Marry You - every song on this album is a hit.


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Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas from the Review This Staff



Merry Christmas

From all of us at
Review This

May your hearts sing with Joy at the Wonder of the Season!

May you Delight in the Beauty around You!

May you enjoy the laughter and joy of family and friends.

May the peace of God surround you as you celebrate the birth of His Son!



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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A Guide to France and a Review of It...Well, More Like a Love Letter!

Why I Love France! 

I'm traveling in Europe, and decided to spend a while in France. It's just as awesome as everyone says! Well not everyone thinks so, of course, and France has a reputation for being unkind to Americans, but my husband and I wonder why. Everywhere we go we are met with kindness and people go out of their way to help us.  This is a welcome change from our Italian experience!


Colosseum Rome
Colosseum, Rome, Italy

Yes we loved Italy;  the ruins, the food, the art, the beauty, and everyone at all our hotels. But the average Italian on the street? Not so much. They all seem in a hurry, and not interested in helping anyone, let alone Americans who don't speak Italian. In fact they seem sort of angry. 

If we hadn't had our guidebooks, and my Google translator app for my phone, I think we would have been lost a lot more than we were. (We were totally lost several times in Florence and walked miles out of our way!) They are sort of rude, even to each other. Just not what I expected at all.

Like I said, the people in hospitality are generally nice. But don't get me started on the people at the train stations! (The ticket office people I mean.) At restaurants they can be either really nice, or really snotty. It's a toss up!

Florence Italy
Florence, Italy


We Love France Even More Than Italy! 

But we love France! Everyone here seems generally happy and nice and they go out of their way to help, not just the hospitality people, everyone on the street. I had 4 different men try to help me with my luggage at the train station even when it meant they might miss their own train! And the station employees are also very nice and helpful. 

Our train to Lyon broke down so it was unavailable; a train employee cheerfully informed us they would find a solution, and they did!  20 minutes later a bus arrived to take us to Lyon and he drove like a madman to get us to the station on time to make our connection. (We barely made it!)  We were not even able to get to our correct car or we would have missed the train.  

I was worried after our Italian train experiences, but not to worry.  The French ticket agent just smiled and said no problem, you're on the train and that's what counts. So refreshing! All the people around us smiled and smiled. They even tried to talk to us and since I speak some French it was totally enjoyable. 


Toulouse France
Saint Sernin Basilica, Toulouse, France

So here we are in Toulouse which is sort of like a mini Paris. It's called the Pink city because many if not most of the buildings are constructed from pink bricks. And it's breathtakingly beautiful too.  Since it's Christmas time, there are lights everywhere, and everyone seems to be in a great mood.  

But the difference between France and Italy  is that when French people hear us speaking English, they stop and tell us where to go for good food!  Ah, the French and their food. All I can say is the reputation is deserved. We love it! 


Palm Tree Cathedral Toulouse France
Jacobins Convent ceiling, Toulouse, France also known as the Palm tree ceiling

Before we left the USA, I checked out several travel books, and after my research I decided that the Fodor's ones are not only tried and true, but they are the most helpful for the kind of traveling we are doing; we don't have a schedule or a plan other than to stay where we like the vibe, and move on after we're done exploring. So if you're going on a trip, I highly recommend the Fodor's guides! We are using this one: Fodor's France 2015 (Full-color Travel Guide).

But there are older ones available too, and of course guides for any country you can imagine.  So far every recommendation has been totally helpful and thorough. I don't think you can go wrong using a Fodor's Travel guide!

For more stories and photos about my travels, follow my travel blog: Peace, Love, Travel Light!  More countries coming up! Do you have a favorite European country? Let me know, as we are open to seeing new ones! 

All photos,© Heather Burns




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Monday, December 22, 2014

Reviewing Chicken Soup for the Soul

By now, it is likely that everyone has heard of the book series "Chicken Soup for the Soul". According to their official website, the idea of touching lives through telling positive stories began during Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen's motivational speeches.  After some time, they compiled these stories into a book. A small publisher gave them a chance after they had been turned down by the big publishers. And so, the Chicken Soup for the Soul series began.

Over the years, I have read several of the books.  Then I had basically forgotten about them. Until recently.  

For several reasons, work related and writing related, I picked up newer copy of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. And I was again reminded of how down-to-earth and wonderful these books are.  

Living with Alzheimer's photo by Amazon

I am currently reading Chicken Soup for the Soul: Living with Alzheimer's & Other Dementias.  As I read, I am struck by how educational and supportive the book is. It is quite a bit like being at a good support group but never having to get out of my pajamas or leave the couch.  I do not currently have any family members or close friends who are suffering from dementia. But I have learned a great deal from this book and believe it would be very helpful to the family members and friends of folks who are living with dementia.



Teenage Soul photo by Amazon


Because I work with special education students and am always on the lookout for positive messages for them, I purchased Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul and took it to work. I understand that the kids will always listen to other kids before they listen to a boring, old social worker.  While many of my kids at the school are too young, I did have some teenaged students who read portions of this book. Some of the the students seemed to benefit from these stories.  In fact, my book disappeared. Which means, one of them related well enough that they borrowed it permanently. 



As I mentioned, there are 250 books in the series.  Some of the topics or themes you will find include:holiday:

  • pets
  • age-specific (teen, pre-teen, seniors)
  • motivational
  • dealing with illness
  • religion (angels, miracles)
  • self-help (empowering yourself, finding happiness)
  • and much, much more


It's Christmas photo by Amazon

If you've never heard of the series, I strongly recommend that you find a copy on a topic that interests you. Because there is such a large variety of topics, I'm sure you will find a one that suits you perfectly.   If you've heard of the series, but like me, hadn't read any of them for awhile, I urge you to pick up a copy. 

Slow down during this hectic season and take time to feel good.  Soothe your soul with a little chicken soup.



Disclaimer: In affiliation with Amazon.com, Dawn Rae is a blogger and content writer who may earn compensation from the sale of Amazon products


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Sunday, December 21, 2014

A Good Romantic Comedy for the Whole Family

Available on Amazon
If you're looking for a good romantic comedy movie, look no further! While You Were Sleeping is a flirty, fun, cheerful film that the whole family can watch.

What's the Movie About?

Sandra Bullock plays Lucy Moderatz, a Chicago Transit Token Collector who's in love with a handsome man she's never met, but sees everyday taking the train. That man is played by Peter Gallagher; his character's name is Peter Callaghan.

On one particular day, a mugger pushes Peter onto the tracks, and Lucy, without thought for her own safety jumps into action and saves Peter from an oncoming train. When he's brought to the hospital, unconscious and in a coma (where he stays for most of the movie), they won't let Lucy see Peter because she's not family...at which point she quietly says under her breath, 'oh that's alright I was just going to marry the guy'. One of the nurses hears what she says, misunderstands it, and lets her see Peter, explaining to the hospital staff that she's 'Peter's fiance'. His family show up and are told by a nurse that Lucy is Peter's fiance - they're rather shocked! It seems she's not really Peter's type as Peter is a high powered lawyer, where Lucy is a down to earth loving, single, non-manipulative women...the type Peter doesn't usually attract.

Lucy Falls in Love with Peter's Whole Family

The story centers around Lucy being unable to tell Peter's family that she's not really his fiance because for the first time in a long time she feels like she's part of a family again. You see, Lucy lost both her mother and father, was an only child, and doesn't have family.

The story centers around Christmas time as well, so being invited over for Christmas and being around all the fuss of the season in a family home gives Lucy a sense of connection she's long needed.

Things Get Complicated When Lucy Meets Peter's Brother Jack

Lucy ends up spending the night on the couch at Peter's parents home after dinner and late that night Jack, played by Bill Pullman, comes home..Lucy hears him speaking to his sister Mary, pretends to be sleeping and tries to slip out quickly in the morning to avoid speaking with Jack. Unfortunately that plan doesn't work; Jack is waiting on the staircase to speak to Lucy before she leaves. You can see that despite that fact that he doesn't believe she's Peter's fiance, he's very attracted to her. Thus, things begin to get emotionally complicated when neither Lucy or Jack can tell each other their true feelings about each other..since, after all, Lucy is engaged to his brother (but not really!).

The Movie is Filled with Numerous Funny Characters

One of the funniest characters is Joe Fusco Jr., played by Michael Rispoli! He's the son of the landlord in the building Lucy lives in. He has a 'thing' for Lucy, but of course, she's sweet to him, but doesn't have 'those feelings' for him. He flirts with her in comical ways..one day he's standing at the bottom of the staircase as Lucy's unlocking her apartment door, flashing some tickets, he shouts up to her.."Tomorrow night, eight o-'clock... I got ice capades...I know I guy" - This movie line gets tossed around in our house all time!
Peter Boyle plays Ox Callaghan, the father and his dry sense of humor adds dimension to the film as well as Jack Warden who plays 'Saul', the family friend.

How does it End?

I won't be spoiling the ending on this one, so if you haven't seen it, you'll have to watch to see how it all turns out. It's a wonderful feel good movie to watch on girls night or with the family. It usually comes on TV during the holiday season. I watch it every year!

My Personal Sense when I Watch the Movie

I'm not sure if this happens to you; but some movies bring me back to a point in my own life and leave me almost missing that time gone by. My early 20's remind me of Lucy's life: I moved to Toronto, had finished school, was working and loved being a city girl. The 'city setting' makes me think of my young days of living on my own, in my own apartment in Downtown Toronto...a time I loved. Watching the characters walk through the city, and laugh together...the cold winter days and nights...all of it brings a familiar smile to my face. Her fun loving relationship with Jack also reminds me of another time in my own life: Love how this movie makes me feel!

Here's a teaser with the movie trailer!



By Barbara Tremblay Cipak
Funkthishouse.com


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Saturday, December 20, 2014

"Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus"

Every year millions of children question if Santa Claus does exist. Just like 8-year-old Virginia did in 1897. The response of "Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus" became the most quoted editorial in world history. But, it became more than that. 

Young Virginia wrote her question in a letter to the editor of the New York Sun newspaper. At the time "if you see it in THE SUN, it is so" was a popular belief.  Editor Frank P. Church responded with the famous line. But, he wrote so much more in his eloquent editorial (www.newseum.org/exhibits/online/yes-virginia). 

"He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence." - See more at: Newseum (www.newseum.org/exhibits/online/yes-virginia/#sthash.jpxGOSIS.dpuf)  


Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus!" The world would be exceedingly dreary indeed. I think of the awe of seeing beautifully decorated houses as I drive down the street. I think of the anticipation as I see gaily wrapped packages under the Christmas tree. And I think of the laughter when I wake each morning to see a small pile of ornaments carefully guarded by my cat. 


Yes, Virginia, my Santa Claus exists in my own pleasure of the season. The Santa Claus of my world
may not be a physical person, but that matters not at all. My Santa brings awe, wonder and humor to my world. A better gift I could not imagine.

More than a century later, we can still look to Frank Church's editorial and agree. "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus."


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Friday, December 19, 2014

Christmas Animated Classics Reviewed

Christmas is almost here! 

A huge part of the excitement of Christmas has always been the days leading up to Christmas when we sit and watch our favorite Christmas Animated Classics together as a family. 

In our household, we each have a different "favorite", but truth be told, we love them all. Watching the annual Christmas shows is part of our Christmas family tradition. We haven't always been able to be together when they aired on tv, but with a little help from vhs and dvd, we have that covered now. 


 
 

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer 


 Rudolph The Red Nosed ReindeerCheck PriceAs we decorated the Christmas tree this year, I found myself singing "we're on the island of Misfit Toys, here we don't want to stay". Why that particular song came to mind while hanging ornaments on the tree is absolutely beyond me. I can only assume one of the ornaments triggered some unconscious thought about toys. The song itself is a bit melancholy for the joyous occasion of tree decorating, especially since both of my children were helping me decorate. 

From the book to the movie, the animated classic Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer has been a personal favorite. Normally, I prefer a book, but in the case of Rudolph, I actually prefer the movie. As a child, I adored Burl Ives. I would know that voice anywhere! I suspect that has a lot to do with why that particular show was my favorite of the Christmas animated classics. Besides, who wouldn't love a snowman who comes to life and scoots across the snow just to tell us a wonderful Christmas story about a red nosed reindeer?!! 

The music from "Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer" is truly fabulous and easy enough for a child to learn, especially if they watch the movie several times each year, year after year. Rudolph may be the main character, but he is definitely not the only memorable animal in the show. Clarice wins everyone's heart when she serenades Rudolph with "There's Always Tomorrow", plus her back-up singers are adorable! 




How The Grinch Stole Christmas 


 Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Deluxe Edition)Check PriceLet me start by saying, Dr. Seuss is fabulous!   His books have always been a huge hit with children and parents alike.  When you couple his genius with animated television, you are bound to have a major hit.

Here we are, almost 50 years later, and Dr. Seuss's Grinch on tv is still entertaining us each year.  The fun part of animation is the suspension of reality.  When the Grinch is able to gather up all of the Christmas decorations, gifts, and food from Whoville, then cram it all into bags loaded on a sleigh, we truly see animation at it's best.  

The really cool thing about this show is that in less than 30 minutes, we go from detesting the "foul one" to loving him and perhaps even feeling sorry for him.  




A Charlie Brown Christmas


 Charlie Brown Christmas 50th Anniversary, A: Deluxe EditionCheck PriceChristmas would not be complete with Charles M. Schulz and his Peanuts gang.  Watching "A Charlie Brown Christmas" is always a fun family activity, but it is also a reminder to remember what Christmas really is all about and to reject, or at least resist, the commercialism that is always so rampant this time of year.  To read the complete review of "A Charlie Brown Christmas", join me by clicking here.

Snoopy is most often the Peanuts favorite, but I do think Linus stole the show here. 



                                     


Now please tell us, what is your favorite Christmas animated classic!  







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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Zazzle Ornaments- Create a Special Memory

Share a Special Memory with a Customized Ornament

Last year my sister took a trip to Africa to enjoy a safari. Here is an ornament I made from one of her photographs from the trip. Ornaments that depict special trips bring back those memories each year when you put the ornaments on the tree.




Zazzle Ornaments come in a Variety of Shapes

You can make your own ornaments on Zazzle or choose from one of the hundreds that are listed on their site.  Here are a few of the different shapes for Zazzle ornaments.  All of these shown are from my photograph collection.


Ornaments make Special Gifts

Zazzle ornaments can be customized with a text of your choice.  I put the persons name and the date on the back of these ornaments.  I have made my granddaughters ornaments picking their favorite animals or characters from that year and then customizing them with the year and their name.




Favorite Ornaments by Review This Authors





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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Food Review: The Best Simple Snacks for Santa

Food review of the best simple snacks for Santa (by Coletta Teske)

When Santa stops at your home, treat him nice with some special treats. Find a food that will please in this food review of the best simple snacks for Santa.

During the holidays, Santa is one busy person. Going from home to home, visiting all of the good girls and boys can sure work up an appetite. When Santa stops at your home, show him your hospitality and offer Santa a snack to warm him from his frosty nose to his icicle toes.

These snacks are made with real foods and can be served to unexpected visitors in just a few minutes. With a little advance preparation, these snacks can be heated up quickly to give you more time to spend with friends and family. And Santa, of course!

Offer Santa something hot to drink


Santa will enjoy a hot chocolate to drink after being out in the cold snow

After being out in the cold and snow, Santa will enjoy this delicious Homemade Hot Chocolate Recipe. Dash to the pantry for some milk, cocoa powder, honey, and coconut oil. Then, turn on the stove and warm up the whole mix. In five minutes, you'll have a hot chocolate that's sure to bring Santa back next year.

This simple snack for Santa is so much better than the pre-made packaged hot cocoa mixes. The best part about his recipe is that you control the amount of sugar in the hot cocoa.

Set out a plate of Christmas cookies


Offer Santa a favorite Christmas cookie, the gingerbread cookie

Santa loves cookies and he'll be looking for that plate of cookies near the fireplace. Cookies give Santa a jolly feeling. This year, give Santa a traditional Christmas cookie made from real foods and made by hand.

These White Chocolate Dipped Chewy Gingerbread Cookies (www.jamhands.net/2013/12/white-chocolate-dipped-chewy.html)from Jam Hands will have Santa coming back for more. And, he may want to take the whole cookie jar home with him. These cookies aren't the hard and stale gingerbread men that stand guard over the gingerbread house decorations. These cookies are moist and chewy. And, the cookies can be dipped in white chocolate or almond bark for added flavor.

Send Santa on his way with a handheld snack


Santa will enjoy these simple snacks of meat pies and vegetarian pies

Santa has a busy night ahead of him and he'll need something hearty to fill his belly before he heads back out into the cold. Send Santa up the chimney with a savory snack that he can hold in one hand and eat along the way. Savory meat and vegetable pies will surely keep Santa from getting hungry as he makes his rounds all around town.

This Mushroom, Gorgonzola, and Caramelized Onion Hand Pies Recipe (www.10thkitchen.com/2013/11/mushroom-gorgonzola-caramelized-onion-hand-pies-recipe) can be made in advance and frozen until you're ready to feed Santa his Christmas feast. If you're afraid of making pasty dough, this recipe has an easy crust recipe that uses sour cream as the secret ingredient.

If you don't want to fuss with a crust, try these Crustless Mini Quiches (www.wickedgoodkitchen.com/crustless-mini-quiches-gluten-free-self-crust/) from Wicked Good Kitchen. These mini quiches are so easy to put together. Just pour the ham, bacon, cheese, and whipped eggs in muffin tins and bake. These quiches can be made in advance, stored in the freezer, and warmed up when you're ready to serve this simple snack for Santa.

Simple snacks for simple holiday pleasures


Be prepared for visitors this holiday season. Keep your refrigerator and pantry stocked with ingredients that can be mixed up and heated up quickly. Fix a few hearty handheld snacks in advance to keep dish washing to a minimum. Keep your holiday foods and beverages simple. You'll have more time to enjoy the season.



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Monday, December 15, 2014

Bernat Blanket Review

I do not consider myself a crafty person typically. But every winter I do find myself sitting and crocheting.  And every year I am able to make at least one item for a gift.  This year, I have made a very exciting discovery.  There is a fairly new line of yarn that has me head-over-heels with crocheting this year.  It is the Bernat Blanket Yarn.

Crocheted Cowl by the author
My first project was a cowl that I made for myself.  I very loosely followed a different pattern I had found on the internet. The good thing about just winging it was that I ended up with a cowl that I love. The bad part is that I can't replicate it exactly since I didn't count stitches or pay close attention to how many rows.  I can tell you that I started with joining a chain in order to make a loop around my neck at what I thought was a desired length.  I completed the second row of single stitch. Then I used rows of double stitch, with one row of decreasing.

My second project was an easy scarf pattern. I am making a gift for a child at the school.  He has asked me to teach him to crochet and since that first lesson he has been busy making gifts for his family members.  I thought he might like to have a scarf of his own. The scarf is 8 single stitches across each row. Easy peasy.  

After I finish his scarf, I think my next project will be a throw or blanket. Perhaps the one featured in the following video. 

This video is a bit long, but excellent in showing a step-by-step blanket pattern with this yarn. It shows steps from start to finish.  Please note, how soft and lush this yarn appears.  It feels even better than it looks. 









Bernat Blanket Yarn, Mallard Wood - photo by Amazon

Bernat blanket yarn can be found at craft stores as well as online.  It is a Gauge 6 - Super Bulky Chenille yarn.  It comes in ball size: 300 g/ 10.5 oz, 201 meters/220 yards. It is machine wash and dry.  When I bought my first ball, it seemed a bit pricey. But I have made two scarves so far, and haven't gotten to the end of that first ball.  


Crochet Hooks for Bulky Yarn - photo by Amazon
I wasn't prepared to crochet with this yarn since it was an impulse purchase. I saw the yarn, touched the yarn, and had to have a ball of it right then.  I didn't have a pattern and I had no plans to crochet that weekend. I knew that I didn't have any hooks that were large enough so  I did purchase a set of crochet hooks for bulky yarn. I'm happy using the N hook.  The size N hook gives me a really nicely sized stitch.  


This Bernat Blanket yarn (and I'm sure I'll try the Bernat Baby Blanket yarn soon) is amazing stuff.  You can bet that my crocheting this season will not end with just these two scarves. If you like to knit or crochet, I urge you to check out this luxurious yarn.

Bernat Blanket Yarn,Vintage White - photo by Amazon
Bernat Blanket Yarn, Silver Steel - photo by Amazon





Written by Dawn Rae
Disclosure: In affiliation with Amazon.com, Dawn Rae is a content writer who may earn compensation from the sale of  Amazon  products.




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Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Family Man, A Christmas Movie Tradition

The Family Man DVD
Have you ever wondered how different your life would have been had you made another choice, and taken another road at a key time?

Well, that's the premise of The Family Man; except the successful Wall Street President Jack Campbell, played by Nicolas Cage, seemed perfectly content with his apparent rise to the top until an Angel, played by Don Cheadle, brings upon 'a glimpse' of what Jack's life would have been like had he married his college sweetheart, Kate Reynolds, played by the beautiful Tea Leoni.

Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately (depending on how you view life), unmarried Jack goes to bed in his very expensive Penthouse condo perfectly content on Christmas Eve, and without notice or warning, wakes up on Christmas morning living in 'the burbs' married to Kate for the past thirteen years. They have two little kids named Josh and Annie. Of course, the look on Jack's face at that moment in the movie is what draws you completely into the story.

Jack's mission, although never clearly stated, is to learn about love, and probably the most profound lesson that Jack learns is the love he has for his family, a family he didn't have or think he needed, much less wanted. He also finds that his love for Kate never ended; a testament to the definition of true love.

Jack finds his way, and finds happiness in his new family life, however he knows he'll be taken from it as quickly as it was thrust upon him. The sense of losing the family he now has and loves becomes a much larger loss than the loss of his money and status was.

Once back into his very wealthy, successful existence, Jack takes steps to contact Kate and reaches out to her in a way that he never did thirteen years previous.

Here's a scene from the movie, nearing the end of his 'glimpse' - Jack had found a way back into the corporate world he was aces at, and was surprised when Kate was less than thrilled about moving into a new up-scaled life:


Have you seen the Family Man? - I've watched it twice so far this Christmas Season :)

by Barbara Tremblay Cipak
Funkthishouse.com


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Browse Review This for Gift Ideas

The contributing writers for Review This have compiled some wonderful reviews of gift ideas. It's time to feature them for all of us to enjoy again. We never seem to have enough ideas for those on our gift lists, so sit back and browse to your heart's content. Get the ideas that will make your gifts stand out. 


The Review This Holiday Gift Guide


Of course all of us on Review This couldn't help but put together a marvelous collection of places online where you can select ideal gifts. Whether it's Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries, showers or just because you want to gift something to yourself, the Holiday Gift Guide is the perfect place to start. 

From home decor gifts to toys and just about everything in between, a great choice awaits you. Each of the sites featured is chosen by our writers so you know we picked those good ones. 


Books and Movies for Fun Gifts


Books and movies are favorites for many of the writers on Review This. So we share our best picks for those. Really, can we ever have too many books to read or too many movies to enjoy?

Take a hilarious tour around Christmas Movies: Comedies for some great ideas. Then enjoy a book review just for the holidays. Noel the Christmas Ornament Book is wonderful for the whole family to enjoy for the holidays. Of course, you don't want to forget a great gift for all readers.


Uniquely Designed Gifts


Something different or unique is always welcome. But that doesn't
Mugs Make Great Gifts
mean expensive. Our writers share some great ideas for those uniquely designed, yet affordable gifts. How about mugs? Mugs really do make great gifts and what a selection to browse around. 


Personally, I'm excited about giving calendars as affordable gifts and we have writers that are like me. On Review This, we include those special calendars. Not only beautiful photographic calendars, but easy ideas to make personalized ones as gifts. 

Relax and Browse Review This


It doesn't matter what occasion you need a gift for, the writers on Review This have found some great ideas. So relax and browse around. The very best idea may just be sitting right here for you.




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Friday, December 12, 2014

Christmas Movies Reviewed: Comedies

During the holidays, I frequently need a break from decorating and cooking for guests.  It is at those moments that I reach for a Christmas movie that will make me laugh.  I always feel rejuvenated after resting and watching a comedy that really makes me laugh till I cry.

There are two Christmas movies that are great comedies that our entire family loves, so no matter who is visiting, I know these movies will be fun to share.  

If you haven't seen them before, get ready for some real belly laughs! 



 

A Christmas Story  (Rated PG)


A Christmas Story (Full-Screen Edition)A Christmas Story (Full-Screen Edition)Check PriceI will admit, "A Christmas Story" was not a personal favorite until I was married and old enough to identify with the characters.  There were highlights in the movie that would make me laugh when I was a child, but now I absolutely roar with laughter over the "relationship" with the leg lamp, and I can certainly imagine big dogs eating our Thanksgiving turkey.  Those things were simply too far from my own personal experiences as a child for me to really understand how funny they are to parents.

The "gift" from Aunt Clara has significance to everyone!  Don't we all receive gifts we end up wearing just so the giver thinks we like them?  While the bunny outfit might be a bit outrageous and exaggerated, I think we can all appreciate Ralphie's plight, but I especially "appreciate" the father's reaction. 



As you can well imagine, there are several gifts that are perfect for "A Christmas Story" fans.  You can see them here:  A Christmas Story Gifts



Christmas Vacation (Rated PG-13)


National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (Special Edition)National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (Special Edition)Check Price"Christmas Vacation" starring Chevy Chase and a host of other favorite actors, is my all time favorite Christmas comedy.  We actually watch it several times each year and still laugh like it was the first viewing.  

There are so many wonderful characters that make this movie great.  All of the actors do a tremendous job, but the outlandish actions of Cousin Eddie throughout this movie, either remind us all of a relative or make us appreciate our own relatives more.  

Randy Quaid very nearly outshines Chevy Chase in this movie.  Truly, one without the other would not be as funny.  The two together make Christmas Vacation a fabulously hilarious comedy.





This movie has a PG-13 rating for good reason. While we all find it hilarious, it really is not appropriate for children due to profanity and adult situation references.    

You can find a selection of gifts for the Christmas Vacation fans here:   "Christmas Vacation" Gifts


More Christmas Comedies


I am sure I have left no doubt in our readers minds, that I suggest breaks full of laughter, from the work surrounding the holidays. Finding something that makes us laugh adds to the natural rejuvenation of our body and spirit which will help us to enjoy our holidays more thoroughly.  

Here are a few more Christmas Movies:  Comedies that will make you laugh out loud.

 


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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Mugs make Great Gifts

Mugs for Everyone

Mugs are great gifts for everyone on your gift list.  They come in all sizes and shapes and can be customized for your recipient.  Take a look at the blue hydrangea mug below.  This is one I made on Zazzle with a photograph I took of my daughter's hydrangea bush.  Wouldn't it be great for the flower lover on your gift list?  
Zazzle has mugs available in a variety of designs or you can design your own mug.  The mugs are dishwasher and microwave safe and come in 11 and 15 oz sizes.  Just click on the link above to order a pre-made mug, there are hundreds to choose from,  or customize one of your own.


Fill Your Mugs with Goodies

Now that you have picked out a  mug, how about filling it with goodies to present as a gift.  Here are some suggestions for fillings.


  • Packages of hot chocolate mixes, small bag of marshmellows, and a few cookies.
  • Specialty coffees and creamers.
  • Special tea packets and perhaps a nice tea strainer
  • Christmas candies
  • Chocolates
  • An assortment of holiday cookies


Travel Mugs make Great Gifts

Zazzle also has a line of travel mugs that are great. These 15 oz. mugs have a spill proof lid and are great for people on the go who like to take their favorite beverage with them. Design one of these mugs with a photograph of a favorite hobby or perhaps someplace your visited in the past year and you have a real winner. I love to travel and photograph lighthouses so this lighthouse mug of Round Island lighthouse in Michigan is a favorite of mine.
Round Island Lighthouse Coffee Mug
Round Island Lighthouse Coffee Mug by lighthouseenthusiast
Put your photos on mug designs at zazzle.com

Mugs from Review This Authors

Several of the writers on Review This also have Zazzle stores.  Here are some favorite mugs created by the RT staff.

Moon Angel Mug
Moon Angel Mug by Heather426
Check out other Moon Mugs at zazzle.com
A Day Without Coffee Mug Design
A Day Without Coffee Mug Design by BuckHawk
Check out more Coffee Mugs at Zazzle



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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

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