Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Year's Resolutions and How to Keep Them

Reviewing New Year Resolutions


The secret to keeping New Year's resolutions lies in turning the resolution into a goal, making a plan, and keeping yourself motivated. Let's talk about how to do all three.
Time to make your
New Year's resolutions!
Have you made a New Year's resolution for 2017? Better hurry, you're running out of time! Or maybe you don't bother with resolutions anymore since you have a "Fail!" history when it comes to keeping them. That's true of most of us, but you don't have to fail at keeping resolutions. Here are three things to do to keep your New Year's resolutions, along with some specific tips.

When it comes to keeping resolutions, the secret lies in turning the resolution into a goal, making a plan, and keeping yourself motivated enough to stick with that plan. Let's talk about how to do all three.

1. Turn your resolution into a goal. Instead of "I resolve to lose weight this year," get more specific: "I will lose 10 pounds in the next three months." When you're specific, it's much easier to make a plan in order to reach the goal. And when the goal sounds reasonable, you're far less likely to become overwhelmed and quit before you ever get started. You may really want to lose 40 pounds this year, but that sounds so difficult! Losing 10 pounds sounds so much more doable, doesn't it? And when you reach that 10-pound weight loss goal at the end of three months, then repeat it in the next three months, then again and then one more time during the year, the 40 pounds you originally wanted to shed will be gone!

Is "exercise regularly" one of your resolutions? Get more specific than that. What kind of exercise? Have you thought about it? I'd suggest walking, the simplest exercise of all. Set a goal to work yourself up to 10,000 steps a day as quickly as possible and maintain that pace for the rest of the year. All you'll need is a pedometer, a calendar on which to record your progress, and a plan, which brings us to step two.

2. Make a plan to meet your goal. For the weight loss goal, you'll have to decide what you're going to do in order to lose those 10 pounds. My plan would be to simply eat less at each meal. That works best for me and probably will for you, too (seriously, you'll be amazed at what eating smaller portions can do for you). Plan, too, on eliminating all sugary drinks by substituting good, old-fashioned water. (Please avoid diet drinks with artificial sweeteners which actually stimulate your appetite.) Making just those two changes in your diet is a great plan, easy to stick with, and really will help you lose weight.

Walking is Easier With a Companion - New Years Resolutions and How to Keep Them
Plan: Add steps by taking your dog for regular walks.
As for a plan for meeting the exercise/walking goal, if you don't do much walking in the normal course of a day, you may need to dedicate 10, 20, or 30 minutes a day specifically for walking and accumulating steps. Choose a time of day to walk and stick with it. If you miss a day don't stress about it, just do it the next day. Additionally, make small changes in your routine, such as parking at the back of the parking lot when you go shopping. Take your dog for regular walks and extend the walk a couple hundred steps each day. That three-part plan will help you succeed in meeting your 10,000 step goal. After 21 days (that's how long it takes to form a habit) you'll realize that you're finding more ways to take more steps and actually enjoying the challenge. 

3.  Keep yourself motivated. Even when you turn the resolution into a goal, then make and carry out a plan to reach the goal, you'll probably lose focus and lose your motivation at some point during the year. There are various ways to deal with that, especially if you realize that adjusting your plan is fine and much, much better than losing track of your resolution/goal altogether, causing you to just give up. 

Developing daily habits by making the plan part of your daily routine will help keep you motivated. In addition, it's good to plan periodic rewards so that there's always a tempting carrot on a stick hanging not far down the path you're traveling on. Plan ahead of time to treat yourself by buying something special (maybe new earrings?) as a reward for accomplishing half of your total weight loss goal.  Plan to reward yourself with a new pair of walking shoes, perhaps, once you've walked and recorded your steps for six weeks in a row. 

The motivation found in the Life's Little Instruction Calendar will help you keep your New Year's resolutions.
Motivational materials with positive messages to read daily can go a very long way in keeping you focused and on track. Thousands of people love the motivation they find in the Life's Little Instruction Calendar. Each day's calendar page contains a thoughtful, usually light-hearted or even humorous message to help you start your day.

As you change the date each morning, read that day's entry purposefully, with the intent of learning something that will reinforce your positive mindset.  Memorize, read aloud, and/or meditate on each day's message. Tape the calendar page to your mirror or put it on your refrigerator door where you'll see it often.

Apply the positivity you find each day to your own life and let that positivity motivate you towards your goals. And remember that with each page you pull off the calendar, you're that much closer to accomplishing what you've set out to do this year! 

So let's review. I believe that anyone can keep a New Year's resolution if they follow the three steps discussed above: Turn the resolution into a goal, make a plan to meet the goal, and stay motivated in order to carry out the plan. 

Are you up to the challenge?

POLL: Will You Make a New Year's Resolution This Year?

Thanks for participating in the poll, and Happy New Year!

So tell me, have you made a resolution for 2017? What motivates you? Care to share? I'd love to read your comments below.

~ Susan
Read more of my reviews

QUICK LINKS: 
Life's Little Instruction Desk Calendar
Inspirational and Motivational Quotes and Calendars
Record Your Progress on a Planner
Motivate Yourself With a Pedometer or Activity Tracker

"Almost Midnight" and "Dad and Dog" photos property Susan Deppner, all rights reserved




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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Reviewing the Bill Hodges Trilogy by Stephen King

A Detective Tale

If you have read any of my earlier posts here on Review This, you know that I am both an avid reader and a fan of  the author Stephen King. He has published 2 out of 3 books in a series known as the Bill Hodges trilogy and that is what I want to review for you today. This series of three books is King's first hard-boiled detective story but I hope it is not his last because I am truly captivated with his ability to take us through a mysterious plot of an evil villain. 

The first book in the series or trilogy is Mr. Mercedes where we meet some of the characters that will be in all three books along with a pretty evil and twisted villain. Bill Hodges is our main protagonist. We first meet him after he has retired as a detective of a midwestern city's police force. He had worked on a case a few years ago where an unknown person drove a car into a crowd of people who were in line waiting for a job fair to open. The police began calling the perpetrator Mr. Mercedes because he was driving a Mercedes when he plowed into the crowd, killing 8 and injuring another 15 more people. Not solving the case, haunts Bill.

Jerome Robinson is another main character in the books. He starts out in the story as Bill Hodges' hired help for mowing the lawn. We see the two become friends as Jerome helps Hodges with some computer knowledge and later with the investigation. Jerome is in the first two books and I would assume will be in the unpublished third book.

The other part of the detective team is Holly Gibney. She is the niece to Olivia Trelawney (Mr. Mercedes stole her car to run the people down). I love Holly's character! She suffers from Asperger's Syndrome and seems lacking in social skills but not at all in deducing what is going on around her. Holly is also in the first two books and I would assume she will be in the third.

In this first book, we learn about the real Mr. Mercedes. In fact, we as readers know his identity before Bill, Jerome and Holly do. We learn all sorts of twisted things about this psycho. I don't want to give away too much of the plot, just suffice it to say Mr. King sure knows how to twist things around so that you can't seem to make yourself put the book down.

Finders Keepers

I just finished reading the second book of the trilogy a few days ago and I thought it was even better than the first one. We have a new villain and a new crime for Bill, Jerome and Holly to become involved with. Our psychotic perpetrator in this story is an obsessed fan of a famous author who doesn't like how he developed a character in one of his books. What this sick man does is almost inconceivable but believable in the way Mr. King tells the tale. What happens over the course of the next thirty years is yet another tale I couldn't put down until the end! Oh, and just so you know the story does keep the original crime of Mr. Mercedes very much in play throughout the second story. 

Right now the working title of the last book in the trilogy is End of Watch. It is scheduled to be released in June of 2016 and I can hardly wait to find out how Stephen King ends this story line. I am assuming that Bill, Jerome and Holly will be involved and maybe even Peter from the second book but I can't be sure. I can see where Mr. Mercedes story will probably continue, also. 

Pretty much at this stage, I am sitting here thinking, "Well done, Stephen King, well done!" Yet again he has taken me into an adventure that I can't stop thinking about. 

You can read both of the first books in hardcover, paperback or digitally by going to Amazon.com with link above or you can choose to shop at Barnes & Noble for the books. If you love a good detective story along with a thriller of a tale, you will really like this new set of books by Stephen King. 



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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Review of Land's End Twin Extra Long Flannel Sheets

Cold Weather Makes Me Want Flannel Sheets


It seems that as soon as I bought my new REM extra long twin bed during the hot autumn, the weather turned cold. The only sheets I had to fit it were the cotton percale sheets that came with the bed. They were just right for hot weather, but as it turned cold, I wanted to find heavy flannel twin extra long sheets. After a long search that included Amazon and J.C.Penny and some sponsored Amazon links, I finally found the quality twin extra long flannel sheets I wanted at Land's End.  I will review them here and compare them to others I've looked at.



Review of Land's End Twin Extra Long Flannel Sheets



I Have Trusted Land's End for Decades


I have always trusted Land's End. I've been buying from their mail order catalog for about thirty years. I have never had a problem with their quality products or their customer service. I have bought flannel shirts, mock turtleneck tees, dresses, and much more, and always been happy. I confess that these days I usually buy from their sale section. There is always something there I can use at a price I can afford. I was very happy to find my extra long twin sheets there, since many places, even online, don't have them. Unfortunately, as I look today, these sheets aren't on sale anymore, but the same quality sheets are still available. In fact, they have improved the quality. 


Land's End Extra Long Flannel Sheets

My review of the Land's End Extra Long Twin Flannel Sheets I Bought


When my flannel sheets came, I was not disappointed. The fitted sheet fit snugly when I put it on my thick new mattress. There was room to spare, so the sheet doesn't start to come off like the one my mom had bought for the bed I was replacing. It was also extra long, but the mattress was half the thickness. My new mattress is about ten inches high. The sheet can fit a mattress (combined with mattress covers and memory foam pads) as thick as sixteen inches. I no longer have to push the sheet back in place after I get up in the middle of the night.

I was wondering what would be the best view to show you of my new flannel sheet set. ( See photo at top.) I decided to show it just the way it looks when I hop into it at night. The sheets are beechnut color. I  took this photo with natural light. My adjustable bed makes any sheet bunch up a bit in the middle since it's normally concave there when I sleep. I have slept on this for several days. That Bedtime Bliss Sleep Mask on the pillow helps me sleep late in the morning after the sun makes my room bright.

The only thing I've noticed on the downside is that the pillowcase is harder to get on after I washed it and put it through the dryer. The pillow that came with my bed is thicker than the average standard pillow and I had to fight with the pillow a bit to get the case on. I've had this trouble with other standard pillowcases on down pillows, as well. Flannel doesn't slide on as easily as cotton percale or other smooth fabrics. I'd rather fight a bit with the pillow and be warm and snug than use slipperier percale. The cotton flannel is triple-brushed to make it extra soft and fuzzy as flannel should be.

Some reviewers complained about pilling but I haven't noticed any, and neither did most of the other reviewers. Flannel does have more lint than percale does, but the pilling can be lessened by washing the sheets before putting them on the bed. I always do that anyway before using new sheets. If for any reason you discover you are unhappy with anything you purchase from Land's End, they will refund your money – period. You cannot beat their guarantee. I liked these sheets so well I ordered another set.


My Price Comparison Research on Other Sites


 

If you want to check Amazon and compare quality and prices on extra long twin flannel sheets, here's a link to a set I especially like for winter because of its printed snowflake design on heavy 100% cotton fabric. Unfortunately, it's hard to compare quality, since different manufacturers use different measurements. The Land's End extra long twin sheets I ordered have 5 ounces of cotton flannel per square yard and the fitted sheets fit mattresses as deep as 16 inches. The flat sheet measures 70" x 110." The Amazon sheet description doesn't include weight per square yard and fits a mattress 15 inches deep. Amazon's extra long twin flat sheet in this set is 70" x 104." The Land's End sheets seem longer than I really need so I wouldn't miss those extra six inches at all. 

During a recent sale, I went back to J.C. Penny and bought the blue and white snowflake pattern you see if you follow the link. It's still on sale as I write this on December 17, 2016. If that sale expires there will probably be another one. These sheets aren't as high quality as the Land's End sheets, but they are still satisfactory. They are the same size as the sheets at Amazon, so smaller than my Land's End sheets. 

Recently I discovered Linen Bargains. Their prices on quality extra long twin sheets and all other sheets are comparable to those found on Amazon. I loved their Christmas designs, and they also had solid colors. Their site provides metric specifications which you can compare to Amazon and Land's End sheets. They do have good buys. 


I highly recommend Land's End's flannel bedding in any size you need. Some places may offer something that appears similar a little cheaper, but I know from years of dealing with Land's End that I will get my money's worth in value. I also know if it turns out something is not what I expected I can return it with no hassle. If you haven't got a set of cozy warm flannel sheets, I urge you to get some from Land's End today. The sale I took advantage of may be over when you read this, but there is normally always something on sale. Even at regular prices, you get value for your money. 



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Monday, December 28, 2015

New Year's Countdown!

It's Official!  We are now on the Countdown to New Year's Eve!

2016 Happy New Year
By Viscious-Speed [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons
Christmas is officially over and all the wrappings, running around, visiting and partying with family and friends has come to a trickle, we can now gear it up again for the New Year.

Traditionally it's a time to reflect on the year that has passed and look to the future and what 2016 will bring our way.

Now without a crystal ball, it will be difficult to figure out exactly what will happen in the year ahead, but with some foresight, we can make sure that certain possibilities do happen.

What do I mean?  Well, let's just say that instead of trying to project what we hope will happen, how about we make sure by our actions, that changes we want see,  actually do happen.

I'm talking about making changes in our lives that will actually result in some of our expectations coming to fruition.

For a good many writers, that will mean something like:  making sure that you have your blogs in place for publishing when they are expected, especially if you belong to a group of writers!  If you are running your own website, it means learning the skills to make that website successful.  It will mean taking the time to learn and then put into practice those lessons that have been imparted to you.

It will also mean that you need to focus! Focus on what you wish to accomplish with your blog and/or your website.  There are people out there who are doing what you wish to be doing and to that end, they are sharing their expertise, so that you can do this as well.


From personal experience I can also tell you that there are two ladies out there who have had years of experience and are sharing their knowledge with many bloggers and website builders.  They have even shared how they earn make money, blogging and building their websites,  from home.  They offer courses in how to blog for money, build a website in a day, and how to learn to place affiliate links that will earn you an income, and all for reasonable investment.  They are the real thing, and I can tell you from personal experience, there are many more out there who just want to hook you in and then let you sink!  Not so with Pajama Affiliates!


Blogging Course : "Learn to Blog for Money"

Just as Review This is a site to find out all kinds of information, your website can be the place that people go to, when they are on the look out for the information, that you are sharing.

Learning how to rank your website and then properly doing the work to make sure that your website is optimized properly, will draw those people that are out there "searching" through the different search engines, like "google" or "yahoo", "ask" or "search".

Affiliate Marketing and Amazon Masterclass


Are you confused yet?  If so, the best place to start is with someone who can help you make your site the best and be totally committed to helping you learn the "right" way to make this possible.

I joined and I have not regretted this for one moment.  Lesley and Robin are there for you.  Once you join, if you need help, they are there to help you along.  Do you need more coaxing?

When you join the Pajama Affiliates group, not only do Lesley and Robin help you with any problems you might have, but the whole community of bloggers will help you with their knowledge as well.  That is just one of the many perks of belonging to this group.

Your New Year's hopes and aspirations are waiting for you to make the first move.  Get blogging and learn how to turn that into some extra income for you and your family.

Now I would like to wish you and your family a very Happy, Health and Prosperous New Year!

Let's meet back here and see how 2016 turned out!







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Saturday, December 26, 2015

Bose Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones Review

Available on Amazon


The best way to listen to the new music gifts you received this holiday – without interruption and interference by other noises – is with a pair of noise cancelling headphones


Why we like the Bose Headphones


A few years ago, a gift to ourselves was the Bose Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones. There are other brands out there, but after doing our research we were sold on these made by Bose.


Many people are interested in using noise cancelling headphones to reduce unwanted and distracting noise when listening to music and other audio performances. We wanted that too, but for a slightly different reason. Since reaching 'grandparent age' we discovered that the unwanted noise around us was more than just a distraction to the music we were listening to. We actually were having trouble "hearing" the music. Older 'ears' just couldn't hear as well!


For whatever reason you might choose a noise cancelling headphone set, we think you would be very pleased with the innovative combination of the best noise reduction technology and the best headphone audio performance of the QuietComfort Acoustic Noise Cancelling headphones by Bose


Bose Headphones come in various sizes and styles

Bose Headphone Sets


There is a headphone style to suit everyone!


We chose the Bose headphones that fully cover your ears as it eliminates almost all extraneous noise. But many styles are available to suit any activity. A smaller and lighter version is great for airline travel for working on a laptop computer or listening to music during flight. There are 'around-the-ear' headphones like ours, in-ear headphones and the on-ear style. 


Singing Along to the Music... While Listening to our Bose Headphones


My husband, Bob liked to lie down on the couch with his headphones on, while listening to his favorite music. Often he would 'sing along', and have his eyes closed. The Bose headphones shut out extraneous noises so well, he couldn't hear me call him. I'd have to touch him on the shoulder to get his attention.

I'm introducing hubby with this image of a Monkey DJ because he was a broadcaster during his working career, beginning with DJ work at radio stations.

The monkey image is from his long-time joke when asked what he wanted for our first expected child - a boy or a girl - and his answer was ~ 'a chimpanzee!' :-)



Our Bose Headphones work great with the Bose Portable CD Player

 

Bose PM-1 Portable CD Player

When we ordered our Bose headphones, we also ordered the Bose Model PM-1 Portable Compact Disc Player. Bose headphones will plug into a number of audio devices, but since we did not have a portable CD player at the time, we decided to get this one from Bose, along with the headphones. It is a nice set and has given us many hours of listening pleasure.


Listening to our Music...

Our Favorite Sounds - Folk Music - From the '60s!

 


Available on Amazon


Among the many vintage LPs, music tapes and CDs we own, a large percentage are of folk artists from the era of our college days ~ yep, the late 50s to mid 60s!  The music CD here "The Golden Age of American Popular Music - The Folk Hits" has selections covering our most favorite era, the top folk songs from 1958 to 1966.  On this CD are many of our favorite artists of that time, along with the songs that were highly popular, reaching Billboard's Hot 100 list.  The list contains songs such as If I Had A Hammer by Peter, Paul & Mary, Tom Dooley by The Kingston Trio (our all-time favorite folk group), Michael (Row the Boat Ashore) by the Highwaymen, and OUR SONG (Greenfields by The Brothers Four). We know every word to every song!

The Doobie Brothers - Listen to the Music

 

 


My favorite music is 1960s Folk Music.  What's your favorite music? Listen to it with ease and high quality sound with a Bose headphone. 

The Sound Quality of the Bose Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones is.... Out of this World!


 




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Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!

It is Christmas Day! 

This is the day we have all been anticipating, preparing for, and looking forward to for weeks, even months.  Many of us are celebrating with our families and friends, but regardless of how you are spending your day, or who you are spending it with, the Contributors of Review This want to take a moment to wish you and yours a very, merry Christmas! http://sylvestermouse.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Christmas-Tree-Photo-by-Sylvestermouse3-731x1024.jpg
 


 


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Thursday, December 24, 2015

We Wish You a Merry Christmas








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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Reviewing Bridal Shower Scratch Off Tickets

Easy Game For Bridal Showers

Since my youngest daughter is planning a wedding for 2016, I know I will be invited to a few of the bridal showers that will be thrown in her honor. I am looking forward to going to each one but then I also dread them, too. I love watching the gifts being opened and the visiting with people. The treats are usually yummy but the games are not usually my favorite thing. 

It is difficult to come up with decent games for any kind of shower, I know. So, I do appreciate when the hostess comes up with something fun and unique. My other daughter will most assuredly have one of the showers for her sister and I have a suggestion for one of the games. Most people love to do the lottery scratch off tickets and I have discovered that you can get them printed for a bridal shower. Who knew? 

Now, isn't that the most clever idea you have seen in a while? I love the idea! There are a variety of styles and colors to choose from. I noticed that some come in packages of 25 and others offer packages of 10. There will always be only 1 winner in the package which makes it easy. The winner ticket is always on the top, too. You can shuffle them up before handing them out so that it is a surprise as to who gets the prize. Another option would be to hand them out to people as they arrive, if you didn't shuffle them first you will know that the first guest gets the prize.

What I love about this option for a bridal shower game is that there is really no one attending that is at a disadvantage. There are no silly questions that involve the bride's past, no physical feats (other than the action of scratching off the film) and no embarrassing questions or answers to go through. Simple and fun, period.

How about a few ideas on when to give the ticket to each guest? I mentioned giving them when they arrive but there are other options, too. Perhaps place a ticket on each plate when the treats are served. When the bride to be opens a gift from each guest, the guest is given their ticket at that moment. You could place them on a table and tell the guests to be sure to take just one. Then there is the simple one of just having the hostess pass them out before or after one of the other games. There is a multitude of ways to do it, any of which are simple and easy to do.

If by chance the shower is a large one and there will be more than 25 guests in attendance, you will need to get more than one package. Then, you will have to decide if you want more than one winner. If not, just remove the top ticket of each pack so that there is only one winner. 



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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Reviews of California Jigsaw Puzzles

Working a California Jigsaw Puzzle Together is a Great Family Activity


Reviews of California Jigsaw Puzzles
California jigsaw puzzles are beautiful. Working them together as a family can help children and adults develop or refine many important skills. These include management skills as the family plans who will work on which part of the puzzle; organizational skills as one sorts pieces; and spatial relations and analytical skills as one begins to learn and predict which pieces will fit together and why. Learn more about the benefits of working jigsaw puzzles.

Adults will find that working puzzles may help ward off senility, since both sides of the brain need to work together while completing a jigsaw puzzle. Working puzzles exercises the short-term memory as you try to remember just where that piece you saw that will fit in the hole is, or where the hole is that a piece you have in your hand will fit. It's a more complex version of the card game Concentration.

As families sit around a table and put puzzles together, they not only develop brain skills, but they also have plenty of opportunities to talk to each other. We often don't spend much time getting to know our other family members because we hardly ever make time to sit down with each other in a relaxed setting. Working puzzles together is an informal way for children to spend quality time with parents and siblings or wives with husbands. If the conversational well needs priming, one can always talk about the puzzle working process.

 Why California Puzzles?

So why work jigsaw puzzles with scenes of California on them? Why not? California is the third largest state in America. It has some of the most famous amusement parks. It is a large producer of wine. It has scenery that encompasses mountains, deserts, volcanoes, beaches, rugged coasts, large cities, growing fields, orchards, and a variety of fauna and flora. As a family works California puzzles, children can learn a bit of geography, no matter what state or country they live in. Adults can see places they've never been, or families can remember and reminisce about places they have visited as they work puzzles with the photos of those places on them.

California is home to some of the most beautiful places in America. Of course, I may be a bit biased, since I'm a native Californian. I currently live on the California Central Coast, but I used to live in Southern California and was one of the first visitors to Disneyland when it was built. My dad helped build it.

Now I live among the vineyards in Templeton.  I often walk the downtown area of Paso Robles, as well as its vineyards. I love walking the boardwalk of Cambria and the beaches of the San Luis Obispo County South Coast. I never go anywhere without my camera.

 I enjoy sharing the beauty of my state with others. I share photos of my local area of Templeton and Paso Robles in my blog, Capturing the Paso Robles Area with My Camera, and I love making Zazzle puzzles of some of my favorite local scenes, especially of the coast, the trees, and the missions. You can see all these puzzles together from this Zazzle link. 

Zazzle puzzles come in two sizes. Both come in lovely gift boxes with the image on the top so you can see what the finished product should look like. The 8" x 10" size has 110 pieces. The 11" x 14" size has 252 pieces. Both are suitable only for those over three years of age. Below are some photos I have used on the puzzles you can access from the link above. I took these photos at the Santa Barbara Mission. They are just two views of this mission I put on puzzles.

Reviews of Jigsaw Puzzles with California Scenes
My Favorite Puzzle of the Santa Barbara Mission, © B. Radisavljevic



Reviews of Jigsaw Puzzles with California Scenes
This image appears on my most popular Santa Barbara Mission Puzzle from Zazzle
Below is one of the many beach scenes I put on puzzles of the California coast.

Reviews of Jigsaw Puzzles with California Scenes
This photo of the rocky coast of Cambria also appears on a Zazzle puzzle. © B. Radisavljevic
I have even more puzzles with scenes from the Paso Robles wine country. These are mostly of vineyards, tasting rooms, and even grape processing. In my puzzles grapes are shown on the vine both green and ripe and even withering when left on the vines after harvest. Vineyard jigsaw puzzles show vineyards in summer when  they are green and in autumn when their leaves turn lovely shades of red and gold.  Some of these would be just right to work while you are waiting for a midnight toast on New Year's Eve at home. Here are a couple of favorite photos I used on these puzzles.

Reviews of Jigsaw Puzzles with California Scenes
Vineyard at Harvest Time, © B. Radisavljevic

Reviews of Jigsaw Puzzles with California Scenes
Patio of Croad Tasting Room in Paso Robles, © B. Radisavljevic

Although I love making puzzles at Zazzle, they may not be big enough to satisfy some people. Amazon's jigsaw puzzles feature California places I have not visited with a camera.  Some puzzle pictures feature art work rather than photographs. The topics for which you can find 1000-piece puzzles give you many choices. Here are some of my California puzzle favorites.



Next time you want to spend quality time with your family without leaving home, plan a family puzzle party. Pop corn, make hot chocolate, and work a California  jigsaw puzzle. Pick up one now while you are thinking about it. You won't be sorry, because you never know when  the next rainy day or next power outage will occur. Be prepared.



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Monday, December 21, 2015

Christmas Cookies Bite-Size Holiday Lessons Children's Book Review

Simple Christmas Lessons For Young Children

Beautifully put together, Christmas Cookies: Bite-Size Holiday Lessons was written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrated by Jane Dyer. It is the perfect addition to your holiday library and will allow you to introduce your young children to vocabulary words like 'tradition' and 'celebrate' and provide a basic guide to good manners in certain social situations. Savor the wisdom along with the illustrations that will have you and your children dreaming of sugarplums!

This book includes twenty-two simple lessons that are appropriate for all ages...

TRADITION means each year at the same time we make the same cookies and wear our special matching aprons. GRACIOUS means putting out a plate for our special guest.

CELEBRATE means time to get out the sprinkles!

While appropriate for all, this book is really aimed at children in preschool up to Grade 2.

Each page or two-page spread is illustrated with children demonstrating the word and/or lesson and each page features added characters for an extra touch of whimsy. I love the mice that the book opens with, the bunnies at the kitchen table, the lion in the dining room and the elves lending a helping hand. I have no doubt that you and your children will also love this book, too.

Amazon reviewer Cherry Ames says:

"If you have ever grappled with explaining an abstract concept to children, like tradition, disappointed or the all-important sharing, then Amy Rosenthal and Jane Dyer's cookie books are for you. Through the simple analogies of baking and eating cookies, which is something children can easily relate to, Rosenthal explains those sometimes difficult-to-understand ideas/values like gratitude, appreciative, gracious, and many more."

"Jane Dyer's soft, expressive child/animal illustrations complement and illustrate the concepts. The 'Christmas Cookies' book includes holiday-related words like joy, believe, celebrate and peace. Both of these titles are excellent choices for a child 3-6 years of age."

Who Is Amy Krouse Rosenthal?

Amy Krouse Rosenthal is perhaps most well known for her memoir called Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life which was very well received everywhere because of its unusual format and its wit with regard to the ordinary stuff of daily life. It was one of Amazon's top 10 memoirs in 2005. She has also published 11 children's books with plans for many more.

What Christmas lessons will you share with your children this year? Or what were the important lessons you taught your children when they were young? Do you think this book would be helpful?

See you
in the book aisle!
Brenda

Quick Links:

Order your copy of Christmas Cookies from Amazon.
See all of Amy Krouse Rosenthal's books here.

More Christmas Reading:

Rose Levy's Christmas Cookies Cookbook.
The Farm Chicks Book Reviews (in the Kitchen and Christmas).
A Very Brady Christmas Movie Review.






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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Sunday, December 20, 2015

How to Make Changes in Life - A Famous Quote that Gives Us the Answer

Available on Amazon
A Famous and Wise Quote about How to Create Change in Life
“You never change things by fighting the existing reality; to change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete” by R. Buckminster Fuller
Despite the fact that Richard Buckminster Fuller isn't from our time, his wise words still resonate deeply. Also known as 'Bucky' he was born in 1895 and passed away in 1983 at the age of 87. His extensive resume includes American Architect, Systems Theorist, Author, Designer and Inventor.

In Today's World of Challenges, Buckminster's Quote Applies More Than Ever Doesn't It?

In situations that seem hopeless or all consuming, there’s really only one way out:
'to create a new situation that makes the existing situation obsolete'
This logical approach applies to every area of life:
  • Relationships - We aren't getting along? Stop fighting the situation and person, and build a new road
  • Work - We have problems, have gotten laid off, or the Boss is on our case; instead of going into fight mode, we build a new road
  • World Conflicts - Solve the problems by developing new ideas that make the existing problems obsolete
Best of all, while we're creating that new model, we're also creating a new focus and purpose.

Instead of thinking of a way to change the current situation, Fuller's suggestion is to take the focus off the problem. If it's possible to forget it, forget it, and begin anew by building that new plan, that new approach.

Imagine what we could accomplish if we put down those spinning wheels and simply decide to build a new path.




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Friday, December 18, 2015

I Miss You Most at Christmas Time - Music Review & Personal Narrative

I Miss You!

http://www.reviewthisreviews.com/2015/12/i-miss-you-most-at-christmas-time-music.html
It is the week before Christmas and I am already surrounded by my family, but there is someone missing.

9 years ago my brother died.  During the holidays, when he should be here with us, the grief washes over me and I, once again, mourn the death of my beloved brother.

The holidays should be joyous and for the most part they really are festive.  There is a lot of family togetherness and laughter. Ironically, it is when we are all laughing that I hear the voice in my mind of one that is no longer laughing with us.  If ever there was anyone who loved to laugh, loved life, loved family, and loved Christmas, it would be my brother.

I wonder if there will ever be a Christmas that I don't remember and grieve his absence.

The photo above is from my own personal photo album.  It was taken on Christmas day, several years ago and is an actual photo of my brother and grandmother together.


I Miss You Most at Christmas Time by Mariah Carey

Several years ago, at Christmas, I heard "Miss You Most (At Christmas Time)" by Mariah Carey.My tenderhearted brother was with me then and we joined together as we cried and grieved the death and separation from our grandmother.

It never occurred to me that his would be the next family death and that when I heard the song again, it would be him that I would be missing.



Separation is for Just for a Season

St Peter's Basilica Dove Stained Glass Window Photo
St Peter's Basilica Dove Stained Glass Window
After my tears are spent, I recall the promise made by our Savior, Jesus Christ, thousands of years ago and I regain the strength to step into the next moment of my life.

John 6:38-40

"For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent me. And this is the will of Him who sent me, that of all that He has given me, I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day."


Comfort

https://reviewthispersonalreviews.blogspot.com/
My Brother's Monument
I find great comfort in that scripture passage and in His promise.  I am not wishing my life away, for there is work yet for me to do, but I know that one day I will be reunited with my brother and all who have gone before me.



My Brother's Monument
My Brother's Monument

About the Dove in the Photo & the Monument


The photo of the dove is of a stained glass window in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.  I shall never forget the first time I ever saw that window.  It was brilliant!  I loved that window and took lots of photos before we left.  I can't adequately describe the magnificence and awe of seeing that window in person or the sense of longing and adoration it evokes.   The image of the sun lite stained glass dove stayed in my mind's eye long after we left Rome. 

When we were designing my brother's monument, that was the image that came to mind.  As you can see, the monument artist was able to replicate the image on the monument from the photo.

The inscription is a quote from the sonnet "Death, be Not Proud", written by John Donne.  I truly believe that it is death that dies when we wake eternally.   

I wrote this article about myself and my own personal thoughts, but I also recognize that there are many among us who are grieving during the holidays.  It is my sincere desire that these words may also comfort others who are grieving.

May the One who bottles your tears, comfort you now!

Scripture reference: Psalms 56:8
House of Sylvestermouse



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Thursday, December 17, 2015

Hollywood Fashion Tape Review

Use Fashion Tape to Prevent Wardrobe Malfunction


Hollywood Fashion Tape, the absolute best fashion tape for fixing wardrobe emergencies before they turn into wardrobe malfunctions!
Fix wardrobe emergencies before they turn into
serous wardrobe malfunctions!
Had any wardrobe malfunction close calls lately? It happens! I've found the absolute best fashion tape for preventing gaping spaces between blouse buttons, fixing straps that slip, and even repairing hems. Hollywood Fashion Tape is the perfect solution for wardrobe emergencies!

I first found this wonderful product when I put off trying on an evening dress that I had bought for a cruise. I knew it didn't fit quite right, but I didn't realize how much help I was going to need with this dress until it was too late.

The straps were the culprit. One was wide and ruffly, the other narrow and just not placed exactly where it should have been. When I finally tried on the dress then adjusted the wide, ruffled strap to fit properly, the narrow strap on the other side simply would not stay up. And vice versa. No matter how I adjusted the dress, there was obviously a strap problem - and a danger of a serious, embarrassing wardrobe malfunction.

The solution? I googled it, of course. In doing so, I found THE one best solution for all types of potential wardrobe problems and malfunctions, Hollywood Fashion Secrets Double Stick Fashion Tape Strips. Fortunately I'm an Amazon Prime customer, so I had it in my hot little hands in two days, which left me with one day to give it a try and make it work. So try I did and wow, was I impressed! Why hadn't I discovered this great tape years ago? (The answer to that is that my normal wardrobe of t-shirts in the summer and sweatshirts in the winter rarely pose those particular threats.)

Bottom line? The fashion tape worked like magic. I used it on both straps and I was able to breathe easily the entire evening of our event without even the threat of a slip. Since then I've found lots of additional uses for the tape. How did I ever manage before without it?

Better than sliced bread? I'm serious, it is! Hollywood Fashion Tape gets the Sassy Susan Seal of Approval and a spot in my closet, my dresser drawer, and my purse.

Remember the Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction? If only Janet Jackson had had Hollywood Fashion Tape!
Remember the Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction?
If only Janet Jackson had used Hollywood Fashion Tape!

How to use Hollywood Fashion Tape


Peel the backing from one side of the tape strip. Press the tape firmly onto your skin or the fabric. Remove the other backing section and press onto the surface to be secured. Amazingly, the backing is easy to separate from the tape and the tape sticks very firmly. When you're ready to remove it, the tape pulls off easily without damaging the fabric. And it doesn't irritate skin. Truly, this tape is amazing!

Use it to:

  • Tame slippery straps
  • Close gaping gaps in necklines or between blouse buttons
  • Repair hanging hems or snagged leggings or pantyhose
  • Flatten flappy belt ends
  • Secure scarves
  • Keep wrap dresses or skirts from unwrapping

Order the tape in a multi-pack. Carry one in your purse, keep one in your desk, store one with your wardrobe accessories, and keep one in your suitcase if you travel a lot. Put them everywhere. Trust me, you will use them.

Hollywood Fashion Tape is a wardrobe accessory that I had no idea I needed - until I did. Bet you'll think of plenty more uses for yours.

How would you use Hollywood Fashion Tape? Bet you have a wardrobe problem to solve, too. Leave a comment below to let me know how you'd use your fashion tape.

P.S. Fashion Tape is essential to have on hand for proms, weddings, and other special occasions. Makes a great stocking stuffer for a teenage girl, too!

QUICK LINKS: 
Try Hollywood Fashion Tape from Walmart
Order a multi-pack from Amazon.com
Find more fabulous products from Hollywood Fashion Secrets

~ Susan
Meet the Reviewer





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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Reviewing Bridal Bargains A Wedding Planner

Planning A Wedding On A Budget

My youngest daughter is planning a wedding for this coming fall and so we have been looking at what all needs to be done before she and her happy fella actually walk down the aisle. My goodness the costs can add up very quickly if you are not careful. I read somewhere that the average wedding costs around $25,000 in the US. Well, her wedding has to fall way below the median number! Golly, my first husband and I didn't spend much more than that to buy our first home! 

I am pleased to say that my daughter is quite the little bargain hunter. She has always been that way; so, I know she will want to find ways to cut corners for the wedding, too. Her and her fiance have already said that they want a small ceremony but would like to have a huge reception. Even with a small ceremony the costs can add up rapidly with the gown and flowers for the church. 

I found this book and purchased it for my lovely little bride to be. She laughed and said, "Mom, you know me well!" She couldn't wait to get it home and start going through it from cover to cover. 


Bridal Bargains: Secrets To Planning A Fantastic Wedding on a Realistic Budget
is proving to be areal help as she starts to look seriously at planning her special day. Not only are there lists of all things to consider for the wedding but there are some really great questions to ask each of the different vendors that you might have for the different parts of the ceremony. Things like what to ask the photographer and the florist which are ideas you might not think of asking but could make a huge difference in the product you receive.  There are recommendations on how to save up to 40% on nationally advertised wedding gowns and also suggestions for websites where you can find bargains for gowns, flowers and even invitations. There are ideas for bargains for the honeymoon, too. 
Needless to say, my daughter is very happy with this book and is finding all sorts of ways that she can keep the costs at a minimum. I looked at other books for planning a wedding but for goodness sakes even some of those were outrageous in the pricing for just the book. When my eyes fell on this title, I immediately took it from the shelf and thumbed through it. I knew there was no need to look any further, as it was perfect for my daughter. 

I also felt good in knowing that this book is in it's 11th revision so it must be pretty popular with a lot of brides. I noticed in one of the reviews that a gal said she used the book to plan her wedding and now gifts it to her friends when they become engaged. Sounds like she found it just as helpful and my daughter is finding it. 



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The Review This Contributors

Cynthia SylvestermouseCynthia SylvestermouseDawn Rae BDawn Rae BMary Beth - mbgphotoMary Beth - mbgphotoBrite-IdeasBrite-IdeasBev OwensBev OwensWednesday ElfWednesday ElfBarbRadBarbRadOlivia MorrisOlivia MorrisRenaissanceWoman2010Renaissance
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Review This is Dedicated to the Memory of Our Beloved Friend and Fellow Contributor
We may be apart, but You Are Not Forgotten

Susan DeppnerSusan Deppner

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