Friday, July 31, 2015

"The Proposal" with Sandra Bullock Movie Review

The Proposal starring Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds Blu-ray cover
Let me "propose" this solution for an otherwise boring evening!

The Proposal starring Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds is a delightfully entertaining movie.  Even though the movie is pretty predictable, it is refreshingly funny and romantic.

Sandra & Ryan really are a good match!  Not only are they a cute couple, but they appear to interact naturally with each other.

Betty White, Mary Steenburgen and Craig T. Nelson each added their own special touch of fun and awesomeness in their supporting roles.  The total cast really made this movie one of the best romantic comedies I have ever seen.

Review of The Proposal

 The Proposal (Single-Disc Edition)A hilarious romantic comedy that will keep everyone laughing!

This is one of the best movies I have seen in decades.  My son took me and my husband to see this movie the week it opened.  The guys really went just to accompany me, but they ended up being thoroughly entertained too.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I get really tired of going to the theater, paying astronomical admission prices, then going home more depressed than I was before I went.  Oh wait, I wasn't depressed before I left home!

Regardless, that was not the case with this movie.  I actually felt lighter and happier when I left the theater and wonders of all wonders, I was laughing.  When this happens, it is an occasion to rejoice; and write a review!

Be warned though, there is a nude, well mostly nude, scene.  However, it was so funny that I forgot to be embarrassed.

The Proposer 

Margaret Tate 

Sandra Bullock as Margaret Tate
Sandra Bullock has always been one of my favorite actresses.  Not only do I think she is beautiful and witty, she appears to be the type of person I would want for a best friend.

If I had read the screenplay first, I never would have pictured Sandra Bullock playing the part of Margaret Tate.  Gratefully, I was not on the casting committee because she certainly is the perfect choice.

She is extremely entertaining without being crude, rude or socially unacceptable.  Well, maybe she was a bit rude in this movie, but she is still somehow very lovable.

The Proposee 

Andrew Paxton 

82nd Academy Awards, Ryan Reynolds - army mil-66450-2010-03-09-180346b
Surprise, surprise, surprise!  Ryan Reynolds is truly remarkable!

While he has never especially impressed me in the past, I couldn't even tell you what I have seen him in before, he was phenomenal as Andrew Paxton. You absolutely must see this movie!  His expressions alone should make this a box office hit.

Nothing less than an Oscar deserving performance! 

While he may not have received an Oscar, he did win MTV's Best Comedic Performance Award for this movie.

The Plot of "The Proposal" 

Only a teaser. I won't give the whole movie away 

When Margaret Tate learns that she faces being deported due to an expired visa, the manipulative and despised executive declares that she is actually engaged to her unsuspecting assistant, Andrew.

The Proposal with Sandra Bullock on her knees
Shortly thereafter, Margaret and Andrew find themselves in the Immigration office insisting that they really are in love.  In order to prove to the suspicious immigration officer that they are the "real thing", Margaret once again lies and states that they actually have plans to spend the weekend with Andrew's family in Alaska, where they intend to announce their engagement to his family.  After being totally caught off guard by this declaration, Andrew decides to make a few demands of his own, starting with a proposal.

Alaska becomes the setting for one comedic episode after another.

At the risk of being redundant, You Simply Must See This Movie!

The Proposal Trailer

Join me for a brief look at the movie!

Others Opinions of "The Proposal" 


wedding party in The Proposal
Entertainment Weekly by Lisa Schwarzbaum
"The chemical energy between Bullock and Reynolds is fresh and irresistible"

The Hollywood Reporter by Kevin Lally 
 "The situations might be formulaic, but the teamwork of the two leads brings them to sparkling life"

Chicago Sun-Times by Roger Ebert 
"Recycles a plot that was already old when Tracy and Hepburn were trying it out. You see it coming from a great distance away. As it draws closer, you don't duck out of the way, because it is so cheerfully done, you don't mind being hit by it"

Los Angeles Time by Betsy Sharkey 
"Just a good old-fashioned romance, one in which people actually bring out the best in one another rather than the worst. How novel is that?"

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”

Thursday, July 30, 2015

True Grit 1969 Movie Review

Starring John Wayne as Rooster Cogburn

True Grit 1969 starring John Wayne available on DVD or Blu-ray or Watch instantly
Click to buy True Grit on DVD or Blu-ray
or rent and watch instantly
Hard to believe that True Grit, the movie, is over 45-years old. It's one of my favorite movies so just in case you haven't seen this classic film, I decided to review it here for you.

True Grit takes place in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and in Indian Territory, across the Arkansas River from Fort Smith in what is now Oklahoma. Mattie Ross, the young star of the story, has traveled from Dardanelle, in Yell County, Arkansas, to meet Rooster Cogburn, a U.S. Marshall assigned to Judge Parker's territory in western Arkansas. Mattie has been told by her family's attorney that Rooster Cogburn has "grit," so she is sure that he is exactly the one she's looking for, the man who can track down Tom Cheney, the outlaw who shot and killed her father.

I happen to know a little bit about the Fort Smith, Arkansas, area; that's my neck of the woods. Judge Parker was real and is a very important part of our local history. I know something about the area across the river, too, and I know it doesn't look at all as it's portrayed in the movie, but I decided not to hold that against the makers of this film, which is more than worthy of a spot on my top favorite movies of all time list.

I love the characters in this story. I love Mattie Ross, partly because she reminds me a lot of myself (I think she even looks a little bit like me), and who doesn't love John Wayne no matter what character he portrays, and Rooster J. Cogburn is a character, indeed.

When the True Grit movie remake was released in 2010 I was very anxious to see it, and I liked it, but the John Wayne version is still my favorite. If you haven't seen True Grit starring John Wayne, you must.

The Fort Smith Connection

If you're a fan of either or both True Grit movies, or the novel on which they are based, then you may already know about the real Fort Smith, Arkansas. That's the setting of the story and the city the fictional Marshal Rooster Cogburn called home. Today, Fort Smith is also the home of the soon-to-be-built U.S. Marshals Museum.

--Susan Deppner

About the author

Posted by Susan Deppner

Susan Deppner

About the Author

Susan Deppner is a baby boomer, a cancer survivor, and a Southerner who believes in the Golden Rule. She enjoys writing about food, faith, and fitness; health, home, and holidays; people, places, pets, and patriotism, and more. Follow Susan on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Reviewing The Can Strainer

What Is A Can Strainer?

can strainer
I am fairly certain that you know what a colander or strainer is in the kitchen. They are usually a bowl shaped tool that we use often in cooking. Straining the water off of pasta comes to mind. What in the devil is a can strainer, then? Well, it is a handy dandy little tool that I did not even know that I wanted until I got one as a gift. Now, I use it quite often! 

Many times in the cooking process we are using a canned ingredient in the recipe. It could be a can of crushed pineapple and the recipe says to separate the juice from the pineapple and set the juice aside. In the past, I partially opened the can and drained the juice into a bowl or measuring cup by applying pressure on the lid. That could get messy and for goodness sakes it is a real pain to then get that lid back up and out of the way. I would have to use a butter knife or something to pry it up. I found out the hard way that using your fingers is not a good idea! Those can lids are sharp!

Well, let me tell you, that is no longer a process that I have to deal with. I received a can strainer as a gift one year and now the process of draining liquid out of a can is easy peasy! Just remove the lid and place the strainer over the can and turn upside down. Voila! Drained with no muss or fuss!

Have a can that is larger around than the strainer? A can of tuna? It might look like you won't be able to use this little gadget, but think again. Flip the strainer the other way, flip the can upside down and apply pressure to the strainer, badda bing badda boom the liquid is drained out and you have dry tuna.

You Don't Have To Wait...

I was lucky enough to get my little can strainer as a gift but you do not have to wait for someone to give you one. You can purchase one for yourself. 

You even have an option of getting a different color if the white doesn't appeal to you. I have seen them in a turquoise and even stainless steel. I just love my little can strainer and honestly do not know how I managed without one for all of those years. Well, I do but it was a pain. Now, I don't have to worry about cutting my fingers on the can lid and there is never any food that spills out of the can when I drain it.

how to strain liquid for a can
I usually buy several at a time and hold them for when I have a bridal shower to go to or a housewarming gift to give. I just add them in with whatever else I am giving. One year, I placed one in the canned goods I was donating for the local food pantry drive.

The can strainer is one of those handy dandy little gadgets for your kitchen that you probably would never think of getting for yourself but once you have one, you find you use it all of the time. Clean-up is a breeze! It is dishwasher safe and once cleaned is ready for the next time you need to drain a can of ingredients. It does not take up much space to store, either. I keep mine in my little gadget drawer near the sink.

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Review of Samantha Kincaid Legal Thrillers by Alafair Burke

Why I started Reading Alafair Burke's Books

One day at the library I was looking for enough books to get me through an unpleasant medical procedure.  A man who was browsing the new books next to me recommended I check out the first three Samantha Kincaid Legal Thrillers.  I'm glad I did. I had not read anything by Alafair Burke before, but I'd like to read more of her work.

Review of Samantha Kincaid Legal Thrillers by Alafair Burke

Samantha (Sam) Kincaid is a Multnomah County deputy district attorney (DDA) in Portland, Oregon. Sam had been an Assisant U. S. Attorney in New York before her then husband Roger had gotten a job as in-house counsel with Nike in Portland, so she had moved with him. After they had moved, she discovered he was playing around and she divorced him. Her first DDA assignment was in the Drug and Vice Division (DVD).

Reviews of the Samantha Kincaid Legal Thrillers

Judgment Calls

In Book 1,  Judgment Calls, Sam's first case involved an almost dead thirteen-year-old prostitute, Kendra Martin, who had been dumped into the Columbia Gorge after being raped, beaten and left for dead. The case had been assigned first to the Major Crimes Team (MCT) when it had appeared Kendra was dead. When she wasn't, Tim O'Donnell, a senior DA in the major crimes unit, didn't want to prosecute the case as an attempted murder. Instead he wanted to kick the case down to the general felony unit, for crimes not considered serious, where everyone knew there wasn't enough motivated manpower to prosecute the case thoroughly. Prosecutors for general felonies tried to get rid of their cases quickly by pleading them out for reduced sentences.

As Judgment Calls opens, Sergeant Tommy Garcia, who was in charge of the department's vice unit, is explaining the circumstances of the case to Sam. Garcia wants Sam to take the case as part of DVD because drugs and prostitution are involved and he knows Sam will put the energy needed into the prosecution. Tommy and the MCT believe the case is serious and they want  to catch the bad guys and prosecute them to the full extent of the law. Garcia arranges for Sam to meet with two MCT detectives in the cafeeria, Jack Walker and Raymond Johnson, about the case. It turns out that Sam's old on-again, off-again boyfriend, Chuck Forbes, is also in the MCT. His partner is Mike Calabrese.

By the time the meeting in the cafeteria was over, the way was paved to keep MCT working on the case with Sam in charge of the prosecution. Her relationship with Chuck is a subplot. So is Sam's relationship with her father and her best friend, Grace. These characters appear in all the books.

The other character that appears in every book is Lisa Lopez, an attorney often called in to defend indigent defendants. She is a naive “true believer” who is sure all her clients are innocent, whether they are or not. Naturally, she is called in to defend Frank Derringer, one of the two men Kendra said kidnapped, raped, and beat her. She had identified him from a picture, but she did not know who the second man was. Lisa is Sam's nemesis in all the books I've read so far.

I won't say any more about the details or outcome of this case. I will say there is lots of action and the reader will see a detailed account of how both the police and the prosecutors do their work and what a political atmosphere they work in. The author does a great job in developing the main characters and showing how difficult it is to convict a suspect when most evidence is circumstantial. The plots are complicated enough to keep one interested without confusing readers.

Missing Justice

By the second book in the series, Missing Justice, Sam has been promoted to the Major Crimes Unit after her performance in the previous book. This time she needs to prosecute the killer of a missing administrative judge who later turns up dead. Burke does an even better job with the plot and characters in this book than in the last one. My experience so far with Burke's books is that they are not simple cases of finding one culprit. They are more like complex webs that need to be unraveled, where characters rarely turn out to be as they appear to be, the crimes are committed by more than one person, and the victims may not be innocent themselves . The fun for the reader is in trying to identify those who ought to be suspects, following the threads of the investigations, and  trying to piece together what is found in the investigation before Sam does. There's also enough suspense to keep the reader holding her breath until the end.

Close Case

The last of the three books in the batch I read this week is Close Case, in which a black news reporter, Percy Crenshaw, is murdered in his car. A black woman has also been shot through her windshield by a white police officer who claims it was self-defense, even though the woman was unarmed. Later, there is a drive-by shooting that kills one black woman and badly injures another who is a well-known black activist. A major help in putting the pieces together to solve the crime was a wannabe reporter –a news staffer who had helped the police who were searching Percy's office after his death. This was my personal favorite of the books.

My Recommendation

I would recommend these novels to all who enjoy thrillers, and who can live with colorful language and main characters who have affairs or shack up. These books do not assume that all police and prosecutors are good guys. You will see a very seamy side of life, but that comes with the territory in detective novels and legal thrillers.

The author, Alafair Burke, is a former DDA in Portland who now teaches law and appears on television as a legal commentator. We can assume she has first-hand knowledge of her subject. I'm hoping to pick up another of her books soon. I was sorry to see the last one end.

Review of Samantha Kincaid Legal Thrillers by Alafair Burke

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Here's an Original Party Idea, Riddle T-Shirts!

Here's a Riddle T-Shirt!

Wear a Riddle & Stump the Crowd - Riddle T-shirts are Great for Parties, Fun Events, or Social Gatherings

If you're going to a party, put one on just to drive everyone nuts! More Riddle Shirts Here
With the riddle on your back, you could have a crowd competing to solve it. Although the answer is on the front of the shirt, you can cover it with the "Guess the Answer" sticker until someone figures it out!
Do you know how else you can drive someone around the bend?
Standing in line at the grocery store with the shirt on! The person behind you may tap you on the shoulder for the answer... They would need the answer before they could leave. Otherwise, it could get stuck in their brain!
5 Ways You Could Save the World by Wearing a Riddle T-Shirt:
  1. You'll cure boredom for everyone standing in line at the DMV
  2. Line-ups at public bathrooms will become more interesting
  3. When you get asked to step outside of your vehicle, turn around and play 'stump the officer' - he'll be busy trying to solve your riddle (just kidding!!! Don't do that)
  4. For those who still end up in lines at the bank, life just got more enjoyable for them, thanks to you
  5. People may actually look up from their Cell Phones to converse with others!!!! Oh my gawd, that's a biggy.
On the other hand...

5 Ways You Could Cause Havoc by Wearing a Riddle T-Shirt:

  1. Someone waiting in line for the bathroom passes on the next available stall to solve your riddle instead and pees on their shoes, or worse, pees on yours
  2. Customer Service Reps at the DMV get sidetracked with your Riddle T-Shirt and cause the lines to get longer, and then people start to hate you
  3. The Police Officer couldn't solve your Riddle-T and gives you a bigger ticket
  4. Everyone stops using bank machines to get in line to read and solve riddle T-shirts, and all Bank Machines begin to rust.
  5. Everyone starts talking to each other, eye to eye, and start falling in love, cheating on their significant others; divorce court gets overcrowded...but on the upside, you could keep everyone in line at Divorce Court busy trying to guess your T-Shirt Riddle? Just don't piss off Judge Judy.
So, are you up for solving any more of my personally written riddles?? Don't do it! Don't try to solve these riddles, it'll only suck precious time out of your day, RESIST!!!! Ok, fine, you're weak, go here.

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Hewlett-Packard Printer Review

HP Envy 5530 e-All-in-One Series Computer Printer

HP Envy 5530 e-All-in-One Series Computer Printer
Available on Amazon

I recently upgraded the operating system on my home desktop computer.  As a result, my old printer could no longer 'talk' to my computer, so I needed to purchase a new printer.  I wasn't surprised, as my old printer was 8 years old and was made for operating systems 4 upgrades ago!

After getting my newly revised computer back, I went shopping for a compatible printer, first doing some research online.  I knew I wanted a printer that would do more than print, as I often need to make copies of documents and I do a lot of scanning.  The computer tech who upgraded my computer advised me to first look at the prices of ink cartridges and find a model that was inexpensive, since the ink is the biggest ongoing expense you will have with a printer.

HP Ink Cartridges

HP Ink Cartridge
Easy Order on Amazon
The printer I purchased not only had reasonably priced ink cartridges, but also happened to be made by a company I've been pleased with in the past ~ Hewlett-Packard.  My very first computer printer back in the early 1990s was an HP and I liked it very much.  And, come to find out, not only are the ink cartridges for my new printer less expensive than the model I was using previously, but they print more than TWICE as many pages per cartridge (up to 190 pages) than the others did and the print is very crisp and sharp on the page.  

HP Envy Printer Model 5530

HP Envy 5530 e-All-in-One Series Computer PrinterNeedless to say, I am VERY pleased with my new HP Envy 5530 e-All-in-One (print-copy-scan) computer printer! It has a color control panel on the front you can activate with the touch of a finger (or use the printer controls from the computer).  The ink cartridges and paper are both easy to load.  You can print from your smartphone or your tablet, and from an Internet-connected PC. And it has wireless capabilities so it can be located anywhere you need it to be.

This HP Envy printer has so many more features than my old printer did.  For instance, it is able to do two-sided printing, and you can view and print photos from the color touchscreen and produce borderless, lab-quality photos.  And the best part, when I was ready to buy, I found that this HP printer was on Sale!

So now my home office is all set for awhile – a completely revamped desktop computer with a new OS and additional RAM…. And, a brand new spiffy-looking printer. 

Article by Wednesday Elf

*Written on 7/25/15. Updated 7/27/2018

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”

Friday, July 24, 2015

Terminator Genisys Movie Review

Terminator Genisys blu-ray & dvd cover
Thirty years ago I was captivated by the original movie The Terminator.  It was one of the few science fiction action films that I really enjoyed.   I remember well being fascinated by Arnold Schwarzenegger even though he scared me half to death as the Terminator.   With his ability to maintain that stoic look on his face, he easily made you believe he was a cyborg bent on murder.

Ten years later when The Terminator II: Judgement Day came out in theaters and Arnold Schwarzenegger was allowed to be the "good" Terminator, I was truly spellbound.  It took me a bit to adjust to him being the good guy, especially since he maintained that stoic appearance, but I freely admit I much preferred him in that role.   I liked liking Arnold.

However, a few days ago I had the opportunity to see the latest sequel of The Terminator series and found it to be the best yet. Arnold Schwarzenegger is not only a protector in this latest film, but he has developed some human traits while living with humans even though he is still very much a cyborg.   He seems to have developed paternal feelings for Sarah Connor and his attempts to smile like a real human actually make you laugh.  I really like Arnold in this role.  How cool it is to look back across the last 3 decades and realize that I have gone from be scared witless by Arnold to loving his character in Terminator Genisys.

Terminator Genisys Synopsis

 Terminator Genisys (Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD) [3D Blu-ray]Check Price As you would expect, there are some very obvious changes in the movies, but Arnold Schwarzenegger masterfully playing the part of a time traveling cyborg is consistent.

The plot is once again about individuals from the future traveling back in time to change the course of events.  This time, however, the mission is to stop Skynet before it ever starts there by eliminating the war between humans and artificial intelligence.  

Terminator Genisys has otherwise changed things quite a bit.  Sarah Connor is now a young, pretty, and competent warrior who was raised by "Pops", Arnold Schwarzenegger, since she was nine years old when her parents were killed.  The part of Sarah Connor, who was originally played by Linda Hamilton, is now cast with Emilia Clark, but the personality of Sarah Connor is different since her childhood is now different.  Surprisingly, it is not that confusing when you see the actual movie.

The human resistance leader, John Connor, still sends Kyle Reese, his father, back to protect and team up with his mother, Sarah Connor.  However, they really are more of a team this time instead of the hero who saves the defenseless woman by offering the ultimate sacrifice of his own life.  As a matter of fact, Sarah Connor, Kyle Reese and the Guardian aka the original Terminator, Arnold, make an awesome team trying to destroy Skynet before it ever starts.

There is a lot of action and blowing things up in this movie, just like it's predecessors, but the biggest difference for me is that the first few movies seemed more fantastical.   Where I was afraid of the Terminator in the original movie, with this movie I find myself more afraid of Skynet.  Perhaps that is mostly because I now believe the idea of artificial intelligence taking over the planet is not that hard to envision.  In fact, throughout the movie, I kept thinking about the Amazon Echo sitting on my table back home.  I felt a strong desire to unplug her and throw her away as soon as I got home.  As I write now, I am wondering if she is reading what I have written.   Yes, I am jesting, but it did cross my mind.

My Recommendation

I would definitely recommend seeing Terminator Genisys, even if you have not seen the previous movies.  Not only do I prefer the characters in this sequel, but I liked the clear shift of humans being smart and proactive enough to strike the origin of the problem instead of simply defending themselves. 

This movie could easily stand on it's own as a cautionary tale to all of us with a message to be careful of what we ask for and what we so easily embrace as the way of the future.  After all, we do want to preserve our human future over advanced technology.

One note:  There was another Terminator movie sequel, Terminator Salvation, that did not feature Arnold Schwarzenegger at all.  He was governor of California in real life and unable to work as an actor during his terms in office.  I do not personally consider that a viable Terminator movie because, as far as I am concerned, Arnold Schwarzenegger IS the terminator and without him, the movie is an empty shell.

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Review of Photography Tips

Class Offers Helpful Tips

bleeding heart image by mbgphoto
It is a good idea for every photographer to review some of the basic techniques for photography from time to time. I have taken many classes over the years and I always think I will remember the techniques I have learned and I do for a time. But then, I will find myself falling back into old habits or trying new techniques and forgetting to use some of the basics. 

For that reason, I think it is great to have a review of basics on a regular basis. In the nature photography class I am taking the instructor used the second session to go over some of the basic techniques. He reminded us of things like using a tripod, watching your vantage point, taking both vertical and horizontal shots and watching your background. 

 On this page I will be sharing some of the tips he gave us and showing you photos that I have taken using these techniques. 

 The first photo here is one I took of a bleeding heart flower. I set my aperture on a 5.6 and zoomed in to get a closeup. The resulting photo shows the flower in detail and a soft blurr for the background. 

 All photos on this page are my own-mbgphoto. 

Photographing Waterfalls 

Photographing waterfalls - photo by mbgphoto

I love photographing waterfalls. When I come to a waterfall i usually shoot it at a variety of speeds. It is a great way to learn how your camera works at various speeds. Here are the tips the instructor gave us get that smooth blurring look in the water.
  • Set your camera to your lowest ISO
  • Set your speed at 1/15 sec or slower
  • Always use a tripod

The photo above is one I took of a waterfall at Missouri Botanical Garden.


Pop Up Reflectors are Great Tools

plow photo by mbgphoto
In this photo and the one below you can see the difference a reflector can make in a photo. I was with my friend photographing a garden when I came upon this old plow.

The first photo I took had a glare from the sun on the wheel. I kept moving around but could not get rid of the glare, so I asked my friend to help. She stepped just outside of my frame and held the black side of the reflector over the wheel to block the sunlight. 

It was amazing, as she lifted the reflector to block the sun I looked at my camera screen and it was if someone was drawing a dark line around the wheel. The light spot disappeared and you could clearly see the wheel.  The resulting photo is shown below.

Plow Using Reflector to Shade the Sun

plow photo by mbgphoto - using reflector

The reflector below is the type I used for these photos.

photography reflectors
Click here to View Amazon Link

Watch Your Background and Foreground - frame your photos

lighthouse photo by mbgphoto
In our class the instructor spent quite a bit of time talking about backgrounds and framing your photo. So many times we get so caught up into getting the object we are photographing to look just right that we forget to look at what else might be in the photo. There is nothing more distracting than having an unwanted person or object behind our main subject. The instructor suggested that before you click the photo you should run your eyes around the perimeter of the photo to make sure you are only including what you want in the photo.
Foregrounds are also important and if you can find an object to frame your photo it can give your picture a very focused look. In the photo above I used falls leaves to frame the Split Rock lighthouse in the distance. In order to do this I climbed up on a rock and made sure the branches of the tree framed the outside perimeter of my photo.

Make Your own Background

flower with black background
Sometimes the best way to get the background you desire for your photo is to make your own background. In our class several different ways to make backgrounds were suggested. The instructor carries squares of fabrics in various colors in his camera bag. A black or a green piece of fabric draped behind a flower can give you a great backdrop. This way just the flower is in the photo and it gives you a dramatic look.

In this photo I used a velvet skirt and draped it over my kitchen chair. I then sat the plant on the chair to get this image.


Use a Polarizer - a must for the serious photographer

autumn tree by mbgphoto
Our instructor suggested that if you were only getting one filter for your camera the one you should get is a polarizer. I completely agree. A polarizer will cut down on glare and really make the colors pop in your photo. It is like having sunglasses for your camera. A polarizer is particular useful when shooting foliage and fall colors. 

The items below are made from photographs I took of Split Rock Lighthouse in Minnesota.  I love taking photos of lighthouses from lots of different vantage points. 

by mbgphoto

I learn at lot from studying the tips found in photography books.  I highly recommend Scott Kelby's series on digital photography.  The book below is the first in the series.

digital photography
Click on Photo to view book on Amazon

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Reviewing Head Lice Treatment Products

Just About Every Household Deals With Head Lice

As much as none of us would want to admit that these little buggers have come to our homes for a visit, I can't think of many households that haven't had to deal with head lice at some time or another. As the time rapidly approaches for the children to return to school, these little critters need to be on our minds. We can start a preventive routine or we might find they have found a home on one of our children. It is time for a lice check, Mom; before they start school. No one wants to get that call from the school nurse saying that we need to come get our child for head lice!

Now, here is the thing. Our kids can get these nasty little bugs just about anywhere there are other children or adults. It may be that they went to a camp of some kind over the summer, they went to a sleepover, or they were in a daycare situation. The most common way that head lice spread is the close contact that children have with each other's heads as they play. An adult louse could have dropped onto the car seat that your child rode in and then attached itself to their hair. They could have been on a pillow they slept on, a chair in a restaurant or the comb or brush they borrowed from a friend. Perhaps they swapped hats at a sporting event. They can be anywhere that hair comes in contact with objects. The thing about head lice is that they don't care what your income level is or how clean your home is, they just want a live head of hair to feed on. They don't discriminate!

What Is The Best Treatment For Head Lice?

Basically you need 4 items. A medicated shampoo, a medicated hair gel, a spray for items that can't be washed and a nit comb.

You can purchase all of these items separately but getting them in one package is a more economical way to go, at least in my humble opinion. Read the directions carefully when starting the treatment. For instance, the first step is applying the shampoo but you need to put it on dry hair first. The water will dilute the solution.

One application will not necessarily take care of the lice. You need to plan on a 3 week regiment in order to be sure that all of the little head bugs are gone. That is an entire cycle of these creepy little critters.

An adult louse can live from 24 to 48 hours when it is not on a hair shaft. That is where the spray comes in handy for car upholstery, pillows, furniture and other places hair might drop a live louse. They can't fly or hop but they do have little claws that allow them to crawl.

Another important step is to make sure that the combs, brushes, barrettes and other hair related items are cleaned properly. You can clean them with the medicated shampoo but a less expensive solution is to place them in hot water (at least 130 degrees or hotter) for 5 to 10 minutes. You can also clean them with rubbing alcohol. I have used the hot water with a little white vinegar added as a precaution to clean the hair utensils.

The medicated shampoo tells you to repeat the treatment after 7 days. What about the time in between? What if you didn't get all of the lice with that first application? A live louse can lay eggs 3 or 4 times a day. A good precaution is to wet the hair every other day and use that nit comb on the hair. That will get any eggs and live lice out in between the treatments.

In the past, when we found these little creepy crawlies, I made sure that I changed the pillow cases everyday and washed the ones from the night before immediately. That might be overkill but it is what I did for my kids and family.

Our family decided that a good practice to prevent an infestation would be to periodically use that nit comb in our daily bathing just to be on the cautious side and as a a preventive measure because you never know where you might encounter these little bugs when you are out in public.

Do Not Panic

If you find yourself having to deal with these little buggers, don't panic. I know they are creepy and disgusting but you can get rid of them. It won't be overnight but you can follow the steps and get rid of them. Also, do not feel ashamed. I know it is embarrassing and not exactly something you want to share with all your friends but as I said before these little guys never discriminate on where they decide to live. We all go out in public places and have the potential to innocently pick one up in our hair. 

This isn't the most exciting topic to discuss and quite frankly as I write it, I find my skin crawling just a tad but I know from experience that just about all of us have to deal with head lice at some point in our lives. It doesn't mean we are dirty or have bad hygiene habits; it just means we accidentally let our hair touch a place where the little critters had been. Typically, they are passed the easiest with our children because they don't know to be cautious but an adult can just as innocently encounter a "little head bug" from time to time. Now you know a good way to get rid of them or prevent them from spreading.

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Review of the Rose Harbor Inn Novels by Debbie Macomber

Introduction to the Rose Harbor Series

I'm a sucker for stories with a bit of romance that leave a lot to the imagination . I like watching people in complicated relationships work through their problems. I am drawn to beautiful settings. I especially like having protagonists I wouldn't mind inviting to sit around my own dinner table. The books I have read so far in the Cedar Cove Rose Harbor Inn Series are Book 1, The Inn at Rose Harbor, Book 2, Rose Harbor in Bloom, and Love Letters, Book 3These books by Debbie Macomber, all have the elements I mentioned above.

Reviews of Two Rose Harbor Inn Novels by Debbe Macomber

Meet Widow Jo Marie Rose, Innkeeper 

The Inn at Rose Harbor opens with Jo Marie Rose, recently widowed, introducing herself. She is still grieving over the loss of her husband Paul, who had gone down in a helicopter while serving in Afghanistan. She had purchased a bed and breakfast inn in Cedar Cove off the coast of Washington as sort of therapy to keep her busy and involved with life. She hired a handyman, Mark Taylor, on the recommendation of a friend, though she knew almost nothing about him, to help her make a sign and plant a rose garden. He turned out to be very competent in helping her make the necessary repairs, but he was gruff, often a bit rude, and never wanted to talk about himself or his past. 

Review of the Inn at Rose Harbor by Debbie Macomber
Buy The Inn at Rose Harbor
In the The Inn at Rose Harbor, the first book in the Cedar Cove Rose Harbor Inn series, Jo Marie meets her first two guests. Neither wanted to be in Cedar Cove, but both felt obligated to be there and were dreading what they had to face. Both had grown up in Cedar Cove and left. Joshua was back to tend to his step-father who hated him but was about to die. A neighbor who had been looking in on him, Michelle, an old high school friendof Joshua's, had called to say he was needed to help get Richard, Joshua's step-father, signed up for Hospice. 

Richard resisted  help from anyone. Richard didn't even want Joshua to be there. Michelle had suggested she go with Joshua for his first visit or he might not even get it. Richard had kicked Joshua out of the house just before he had graduated from high school. He had been good to Joshua's mother, who had loved him, but she had died of cancer not long before Joshua left. He loved his own son, Dylan, but seemed to hate Joshua, with whom Dylan got along well. Richard had accused Joshua of stealing two hundred dollars from him, would not listen to Joshua's denials, and had kicked Joshua out. The one who really stole the money was Dylan. Dylan had later died in an accident. Richard had been alone ever since, seeming to hate everyone and everything. He started neglecting his house, and even the yard he had always cared for. Joshua dreaded the reunion, since he knew he would be unwelcome. Joshua was hoping he could retrieve some of his personal belongings he was not allowed to take when he had to move out, as well as his mother's Bible and some other parts of his family history before his mother married Richard. 

Abby was coming to Cedar Cove for her brother's wedding. She hadn't been back since she had left for college after a car accident had killed Abby's best friend, Angela. Abby had been driving. She blamed herself and believed everyone in town blamed her, too. Angela's parents had made it clear they hated her and had called her a murderer when she tried to see them after the accident. They had not even let her in. She dreaded seeing anyone she knew, and she hadn't even seen her parents much since they had moved to Arizona and she had moved to Florida when they began to feel rejected by the their friends in Cedar Cove. 

While her guests go about their business, Jo Marie is learning more about the town and meeting new friends, including the librarian,and the owner of the other bed and breakfast in town, who gives her some tips. She also lets readers know how she met her husband Paul, and how he died, and how he sometimes still seems to be right there with her. One of her new friends encourages her to adopt a dog from the shelter, and she comes home with Rover, who seems to have chosen her, and is a very different sort of dog than the one she had intended to bring home. 

By the end of The Inn at Rose Harbor, Jo Marie is feeling more secure about being an inn keeper and believes Paul approves. Mark is working on her sign and has promised to put in her rose garden in the spring. Rover has settled in. Joshua stays a couple of days longer than he had planned after Richard's death with the intent of getting to know Michelle better, and Abby had not only been welcomed by some old friends, but has picked up a relationship with a friend of her brother's she had dropped along with everyone else after the accident. 

The body of the book deals with all the details, heartaches, and steps to healing that took place, details which readers won't want to miss. It's not the end that's important, but all the action leading up to it. This book is the perfect preparation for reading Love Letters,the third book in the Cedar Cove Rose Harbor Inn Series. Each book can stand alone, since only the residents of the town, Jo Marie, and Mark, remain the same. The guests are always different so that the readers don't have to remember them from book to book. When I read Love Letters, I actually thought it was the first book and that The Inn at Rose Harbor was a prequel. That's why I read the third book first. Amazon set me straight, so this afternoon I got the second book, Rose Harbor in Bloom, I read it, and I enjoyed it as much as the others.

Love Letters

Review of Love Letters by Debbie Macomber
Buy Love Letters
At the beginning of Love Letters, Jo Marie introduces herself again, sharing some details that were not in the preceding book. She tells us about an old sweatshirt of Paul's she often wore for comfort, and a letter he had asked a friend to deliver in case anything ever happened to him. She had read the letter once, and put it away, since it made her miss him all the more.

It still bugs Jo Marie that she cannot find out even the simplest facts about Mark, even though it appears she found out a bit more in the first book than she seems to know in this one.  He tells her nothing in response to her many questions and beats a hasty retreat if she keeps asking   

As the book begins,Jo Marie is expecting two parties who made reservations, and she is mulling them over. The first, Ellie Reynolds, had made a reservation, then canceled it, and then rebooked. She wondered why Ellie seemed to be so indecisive. Maggie Porter, on the other hand, seemed wonderfully happy and appeared to be looking forward to celebrating an anniversary weekend.

Rover, Jo Marie's comfort dog, has by now, become Jo Marie's friend and constant companion. Rover always lets Jo Marie know when someone has arrived, and he gets along well with the guests, who often enjoy petting him. He and Mark also get along well.

Mark is in the process of building a gazebo, and Jo Marie worries that he will take his time about completing it as he did with the rose garden. She gets the feeling that Mark does as he pleases and that her jobs often seem to be last priority with him She is determined to find out more about his past and plans to drill him again next time she bakes cookies to bribe him with.

As the new guests arrive, Jo Marie learns that Ellie, who is happy to talk, is meeting Tom, someone she met on the internet and has been corresponding with, for the first time. She also learns that Ellie has a very controlling mother who texts her and calls every few minutes and who was against her meeting Tom. Ellie's father, whom she hardly remembers, left her mother, Virginia Reynolds, when Ellie was very young. It seems Virginia's parents thought he wasn't rich enough to marry Ellie, and they had already picked out someone else. Ellie has always wondered why her father never wrote to her or tried to see her. She believes he has abandoned his family, and Virginia has given her that impression.

When Maggie and Roy Porter arrive at the inn, Jo Marie can tell from the beginning that something is wrong. Roy seems angry and abrupt. Maggie apologizes for Roy's bad mood, saying he hadn't want to take the time off work to come. The reader learns the truth watching them talk in their room. They have come to try to save their marriage. A few months ago, Roy had been emotionally intimate with a sales rep for one of his suppliers and Maggie had found out. She was so upset she had left, gone to a bar, gotten drunk, and had a physical affair with a stranger who bolstered her wounded ego. Neither Roy nor Maggie can get past that.

Maggie has brought a love letter Roy had written her after she had first broken up with him when they were going together. She had learned he'd gone to a strip club with friends. It had crushed her and destroyed her trust in him, while he considered it just fun that didn't mean anything. Roy's letter had caused her to weep because she really did love Roy, and they got back together and eventually married.

This weekend at Rose Harbor Inn was the first time they had been away together since their two young sons had been born. As the book moves on, it appears Maggie and Roy may resolved their differences, until another complication appears that Roy seems not to be able to handle. It is the usually silent Mark, strangely enough, who turns the tide.

When Tom picks Ellie up, it appears the two are really connecting. Their first dinner date goes well, followed by a romantic walk on the beach. Tom has invited Ellie to go sailing with him the next morning, and he says after that he has a surprise for her, and in spite of her begging, he won't give her a clue as to what it is. Alert readers may pick up a few hints, but when the surprise is revealed, it completely shakes Ellie's world and she wants nothing more to do with Tom, whom she thinks had just used her. She is blaming herself for not listening to her mother.

Jo Marie and Rover provide a listening ear and comfort to both Ellie and Maggie. Then Virginia Reynolds appears to complete the party. Overall, it is a healing weekend, but you'll have to read the book to watch the characters put their lives back together. At the end, only one relationship has not resolved itself the way I would have liked.

My Recommendation

I recommend these books to anyone who likes well-written romances that could actually happen. The complications seem natural instead of contrived as they are in some novels. Instead of existing only in the character's minds, they are real obstacles in relationships instead of the “He or she could never love me because _________” variety, where a character has seen or heard something that plants a wrong idea. 

These books are free from steamy explicit scenes. They are about love and romance and genuine relationships rather than casual sexual encounters. 

I am eager to read the next books in the series, Silver Linings, and Sweet Tomorrows, which is brand new. I hope it will resolve the relationship that was left up in the air in Love Letters. If you're ready for the perfect romance to read on the beach or on the plane or when you just want to relax at home, order The Inn at Rose Harbor today. You won't be sorry. Better yet, get the five book series, now out in Kindle form.

Please share this review with anyone else you think might enjoy these books. There are sharing buttons just below this last photo, which is just the right size for Pinterest.

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Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”

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