Sunday, February 28, 2016

How to Sweep Your Floors Without Lifting a Finger

Floor Cleaning Slippers
They Come in Other Colors & Styles
Whether it's Spring or Any Other Season, the Floors Always Need Sweeping ... Ugh!

Did you know you can sweep your floors all day long without thinking about it or using a broom?

Yes that's right .... all you have to do is walk around your home with slippers that sweep for you.

Do You Have Pets that Shed?

Are you buried in animal fur? Do you need a rescue team to come in and find you and the kids buried in a fog of dog hair? Ok, sure it's not that bad (it could be?).

Well, if you need a rescue, then get the entire family their own pair of dusting slippers. They come in sizes that fit men, women and kids.

Are You Sick of Seeing the Dust on Your Hardwood Floors?

You're not alone. Did you know that darker shiny hardwood flooring shows almost every speck of dust, especially when the sun beams down on them through windows (yah, you know that already) ... and did you know that's one of the reasons people now choose a flatter finish for their hardwood.

In fact my brother and his wife just finished building their home and they specifically choose hardwood that wasn't shiny to avoid seeing every bit of dust and dog hair they used to see in their
Another Style
An affordable choice for your cleaning party!
previous home.

Well, these slippers are also a great house warming gift for people moving into a new house.

In fact, a creative basket of cleaning goodies to make life easier, is an ideal gift!

Add these slippers to your cleaning gift basket and they'll love it! Hopefully my brother and his wife don't read this article, because guess what they're getting from me?

So How Do You Clean the Slippers that Do the Cleaning?

It's easy. Just detach the bottom velcroed micro-fiber cleaning piece and toss them in the washing machine. Depending upon the style you choose, some come as an entire piece as featured in the photo here labelled 'another style'.

Get a pair for everyone in the family and have them wear their cleaning slippers throughout the day and at least you'll stay ahead of the dust!

How About A Slipper Party?

Yah, that's weird.

But if you're into wacky-party themes, you can hold a 'Help Me Clean My House Party' and everyone gets a free gift! A pair of cleaning slippers that you provide for each person as they enter and that they have to wear at the party.

Sure, your house will be a mess of glasses, food and other party goodies, but at least your floors will look good! Best of all, no shoes on in your home, no bare-feet, and no smelly socks. All your guests will be wearing a new pair of cleaning slippers.

Would it be expensive - well, if you compare these to other items you have to acquire for a party, this is in the range .... 10 Slippers would be about $70 to $150 bucks, depending upon the style you choose.

Have Fun Cleaning!
by Barbara


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Saturday, February 27, 2016

Grilling Vegan Style, Cookbook Review

With outdoor grilling season soon to be upon those of us in the colder climates, it's time to tell you about a new cookbook I found. Grilling Vegan Style, by John Schlimm, is way more than just another vegan cookbook. It turned out to be an eye-opener for me.

It's true I have had to turn to vegan eating for my own health, but I also discovered how exciting and delicious the foods can be. One thing I wanted to do was to grill vegetables. Haha - you think a vegan lifestyle is stuck with grilling veggies only? Then you are in for a treat with Grilling Vegan Style.

For the Novice Griller and Expert Alike


Now, I will have to admit that I was a complete novice when it comes to using an outdoor grill. I had just gotten my first grill. But how much charcoal do I put into it? How will I know when the coals are ready? My list of questions was long. And author John Schlimm came to my rescue. He starts off with a simple explanation of how to handle a charcoal grill. After reading his explanation, I made my first grilled dinner easily.

So maybe you have lots more experience than I do. Maybe you have a gas or electric grill. Don't worry. Schlimm has you covered there, too. He details what temperatures look like on your settings, how to prepare your grill for cooking, even how to work with direct and indirect heat.

Covering Recipes for All


Granted, my initial grilling attempts were simple things like veggie kabobs and veggie burgers, but I knew I would expand into all numbers of delicious dishes after looking through Grilling Vegan Style. Schlimm shows you how to grill any number of foods including fruit. Grilled pear halves is now a great favorite at my house.

Those of us who enjoy tailgating have a friend in Schlimm. He has a whole chapter full of great recipes just for tailgate parties. Take a look as his Halftime Pizza recipe for example.

More than just tailgating, he covers picnic options, summer salads topped with grilled goodies, even PB & J sandwiches for the kids in all of us. Personally, I can't wait for watermelon season. Yep, you heard that right. Grilling Vegan Style includes a recipe for a grilled watermelon salad.

Helpful Tips Make a World of Difference
Grilling Vegan Style


John Schlimm is not just your average cookbook author. He adds many helpful tips to make grilling easier, better and more flavorful. My favorite trick, learned from Schlimm, is to soak potato fries in hot water before grilling them. That gives the fries that crispy outside.

He includes a whole chapter on marinade recipes. Not only are they delicious, but he offers timelines to help you. How long to marinate different veggies, fruits and other yummy treats, like tempeh and tofu.

As my world starts to gain warmer days, I'm grilling more and more outside. And my go to cookbook, not only for new recipes, but new ideas as well has become Grilling Vegan Style. Frankly, I'm not sure I would have been so successful from the beginning without it. May you have as much fun grilling as I do.







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Friday, February 26, 2016

Review of Hotels.com

How to Find Hotels While Traveling


When I started to think about how to find hotels while traveling on my around the world trip, I researched a few hotel sites and gave them each a trial. I did this by checking prices and booking hotels in a few cities and then cancelling so I could see how hard that would be if I needed to do so. Because besides being able to find hotel deals, I wanted to be able to cancel easily and get a refund easily.



Of course I also checked prices on the exact same hotels to see how much surcharge the sites added to the basic hotel price. Then I read the fine print so see what else could be a factor. Last, I checked the perks of using each site. I wanted to use one site for the whole trip so I could get the most free nights! Hotels.com gives you a free night for every 10 nights you pay for! I love that and took full advantage.

I also wanted to be able to find hotel rates and book from my iPhone on the fly in case we liked a town and wanted to stay as an impromptu adventure. All the sites I checked had this and the prices didn't vary by much so it really came down to customer service, and how easy it was to cancel and get a refund. Based on all these factors I decided to use Hotels.com and I am so glad I did.

Alumudena Cathedral Madrid Spain
Mary and Jesus, Almudena Cathedral, Madrid

Great Customer Service from Hotels.com

Maybe my Madrid story will illustrate why I love Hotels.com so much. First of all, Madrid was the only city where our hotel did not exceed our expectations. But I'm not sure it was the fault of the site anyway. Our "adventure" started a few hours after I booked our room when I got a message from the hotel that was not friendly informing me that I had better not be late or I would be at their mercy and might have to wait up to 4 hours for them to come back and check us in. They explained that they had several properties and would meet us, thus the need for us to be timely. Okay, but we were traveling by train with no control over the train's timeliness, and didn't know how hard it would be to get a taxi or how long we would have to wait for it.

This made me ill at ease so I emailed customer service at Hotels.com that I would like to cancel and get a different hotel because they seemed so nice in the description and then changed into jerks about being on time. But somehow I used the wrong email address and it was not received until the following week so I never got a response.

Madrid Plaza de Cibeles
 Plaza de Cibeles, Madrid, Spain


So we went on to Madrid anyway and actually got to the hotel before we were due but guess who was late? Them!!! The other thing I should mention is that I had emailed them and told them I had a broken ankle and would need to be on the bottom floor or there would need to be an elevator. So guess where they placed us? On the 5th floor!!! And there was no elevator!!! I did manage to climb the stairs to the top but the last straw was that this room looked nothing like the photos that had been posted on Hotels.com. I won't bore you with all the details of how different it was! LOL

This was just too much to deal with so I called customer service even though it was very expensive for me to do so. (Roaming charges are expensive for my carrier!) After telling the representative my sad tale and explaining that the room was nothing like the photos and I thought they had been defrauded by the hotel, the representative put me on hold for just about 2 minutes and said they would be crediting my account $200 and investigating the photo situation. And of course I did not have to stay in a room so high up with no elevator! Yay! Plus I got the correct email address so this would never happen again.

This made our eventual room in Madrid essentially free so we still love Hotels.com. It could have been prevented but they fixed it and paid us back. What more could you ask for?

That is the only bad experience we've ever had anyway! Most of the hotels we booked turned out to be prettier and much nicer than the photos. And we have gotten so many free nights! Plus many of the hotels we stayed in upgraded our room for free. I have never stayed in so many beautiful rooms. I think this is because they want to be on the top of the recommended list at Hotels.com. So they treat its customers really well hoping for good reviews. It works! I'm a very happy customer!





You can read all about my travels around the world at Peace,Love,Travel Light

All Photos © Heather Burns, All Rights reserved.






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Thursday, February 25, 2016

Review of Photography book by Scott Kelby

The Perfect Gift for the Photographer on Your Gift List

Do you know someone who loves books and photography? If so, I have the perfect gift idea for them. I too love both books and photography, so reading about photography is a natural for me.
My favorite series of photography books are written by Scott Kelby. Scott gives tips to the reader as if he were on a photo shoot with them. He doesn't bore you with tons of details but rather gets right to the point and says "try doing it this way". Whether you are a someone who just likes to take photos for fun or you are a new or not so new photographer trying to get the most out of your photos, Scott has some great tips for you.
I invite you to look over the books on this page and then think about those people on your gift list. I bet you have someone who would really love these books!
Happy Shopping
all photos by the author-mbgphoto

The Digital Photography Book - Scott Kelby

This book was my first introduction to Scott Kelby and I can tell you the pages are getting rather worn from all the times I have read and looked at this book. I love the way Scott gives you step by step instructions on how to perform various photography skills.
Scott starts out the book with a basic chapter on telling you how to get really sharp photos. The following chapters tell you how to shoot like a pro whether you are shooting flowers, weddings,landscapes,sports, or people. Scott also includes chapters on avoiding problems, traveling with a camera and printing. All of these chapters are great and the way they are designed you can review a certain chapter right before you are going to shoot that subject.
The last chapter in the book shows beautiful photographs and then gives you the formula for shooting the photo. The book has great, easy follow instructions.

Predawn Sky in Minnesota - colorful predawn sky

This photo used a tip found on page 62 of The Digital Photography Book . It is entitled The Golden Rule of Landscape Photography and states a landscape photographer can only shoot during two times each day; dawn and dusk.

The Digital Photography Book -Volume 2 - photography tips

Book two is written in the same format as book one and gives you many more great tips for photography. It adds a chapter on using flash, one on setting up a studio and a great chapter on shooting portraits. In addition it has chapters on landscapes, weddings, travel, and macro that give you more great tips on these subjects.
One of my favorite tips from this book is found in chapter 4 on page 114 where it tells you not to stop shooting after sunset. It states if you are patient and wait, after many of the photographers have packed up their bags, you will capture some magnificent shots. On many nights just after sunset the sky turns a deep,deep blue and beautiful colors appear. These will only last for about 10-12 minutes so you must be ready.
In September, I went to the grounds of a nearby college and I was shooting sunflowers at sunset. I had gotten some great shots, but then I remembered the tip about waiting around after the sunset for the great colors in the sky. I waited about 10 minutes and the sky broke out in beautiful colors. There was a fountain nearby and I photographed the beautiful sky reflected in the water of the fountain and pond. The resulting photo is seen below.
Beautiful Sky after Sunset
Beautiful Sky after Sunset
Beautiful Sky after Sunset

The Digital Photography Book- Volume 3 - tips to shoot like a pro

Volume 3 picks up where book 2 stopped. It has two more chapters on using a flash and using your studio. This book also has a great chapter about tips to using different lenses. it tells which lens to use under different circumstances. It also includes chapters on shooting products, people, outdoors and sports.
I have always found the fisheye lens to be fascinating, but was never quite sure when to use it. In chapter 3 of this book, Scott explains that he like to use a fisheye lens if he is sitting up high in a sports stadium and if he is shooting skyscrapers and wants to get them all.

The Digital Photography Book Part 4 - more advanced photography tips

This book is on my wish list for Christmas. It has great reviews. It picks up where volume 3 leaves off. One of the reviews I read said that if you are a beginner you will want to start with volume 1, but for the more advanced photographer part 4 is by far the best of the group. I can't wait to delve into this book.

The Digital Photography Books - boxed set

This set contains volumes 1-2-3-and 4. It also includes a new #5 that I have not read yet. It would make the perfect gift for the photographer on your list. Whether they are a beginner or someone who is more advanced, they are sure to find helpful hints in Scott Kelby's series of digital photography books.



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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Mark the Date: March 19th Zeppole Day!

For many of you who just read the title of this piece, you probably think I meant to write March 17th.  After all, that is the day the whole world turns Irish, but I assure you I meant March 19th!

After all the green beer and shenanigans that went on just two short days earlier, we find ourselves again celebrating another  Great Saint's Feast Day.

This one is St. Joseph's Day.  He traditionally was known as the Foster Father of Jesus Christ.  So from this auspicious beginning comes the Italian way of celebrating Father's Day.

Now St. Joseph's Day isn't celebrated like St. Patrick's, with parades and lots of drinking, but, as with any celebration, there is food!  You cannot celebrate anything without some special culinary delight!

The Italians have this lovely pastry called Zeppole di San Guiseppe.  If you have never tried one, I recommend that you make your way to the nearest Italian Bakery and ask for this lovely concoction. Traditionally it was only made for March 19th, but, as with anything that becomes successful, many bakeries now make this famous treat available at least a month in advance of St. Joseph's Day and some even make them all year round.

Here is my recipe for these delightful Zeppole, and I bet once you try them, you will be hooked forever.  You will have another reason to celebrate the month of March.  It will become the St. Patrick's, and St. Joseph's Day feasting.  By the time you are done with that, it will be great to return to the practices of Lent and do a little fasting....because you know that Easter is on the way.

To Make the Pastry:

1 cup of water
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3  cups of cake flour
5 eggs
6 to 8 cups of good quality oil for frying

To Make the Cream Custard

3 1/4 cups of whole milk
Rind of one lemon
8 egg yolks
2/3 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup cornstarch
3 1/2 tablespoons of all purpose flour
4 tablespoons butter cubed.
Brandied Cherries for decoration and taste.

Directions:

Pastry:  In a saucepan, bring the water, butter, sugar and salt to a rolling boil.  Make sure the butter is in small cubes as it will melt better and combine with the water, salt and sugar mixture.  Add all the flour in one movement.  remove from heat and using a wooden spoon blend in the flour until it is all incorporated.  Put back on the heat and stir the mixture over medium, heat for about 5 minutes.  Do not let the mixture dry out.  Remove from heat and after allowing the mixture to cool completely put into a mixing bowl.  There you can begin to add one  egg at a time mixing well after each egg is introduced.

Place all of this mixture into a pastry bag with a star shaped tip (the tip should be at least 1/2 in diameter)  Cut squares of foil or parchment about 4 inches square.  If using foil you must spray oil on the foil before immersing in the deep fryer or frying pan.

Pipe out a circle of 3 1/2 inches around on each piece of foil or paper.  Fry the zeppole on each side for about 4 minutes, removing the paper or foil after flipping them over. Do only two or three at a time and drain them on paper towels.

Let them cool thoroughly.


Custard:  Place the milk and the lemon rind in the  pot, leave for 20 minutes and then bring the milk to a boil. Remove from heat.  Let the lemon rind steep in the milk of 10 minutes and then remove.  In another bowl, whisk together the sugar and egg yolks until the mixture is fluffy.  Add the cornstarch and flour and whisk to combine.

Once the milk has been cooled it can be added to the egg mixture .  Return it to the heat and whisking constantly, cook for 2 minutes or more until it is thickened.  Add the cubed butter to the custard and mix well.  Remove from heat and place in a glass bowl covered with plastic wrap .  Make sure the wrap is touching the top of the custard or it will develop a skin and we don't want that.  Cool thoroughly.  Place the custard into a pastry bag and pipe either on top of the pastry or the way I like it, in the middle of the pastry......


Traditionalists will fill the center of the Zeppole with the custard and place a brandied cherry on top and then dust it with icing sugar.  

Some Bakeries do it the way I like them best, they slice the Zeppole pastry in the middle, add the custard to the inside, add brandied cherries on top of the custard and then replace the top part of the pastry, dusting all with icing sugar.

By Lucas81 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons



Traditional Zeppole, ready just for you!


Pictures: The top picture comes from my favorite bakery in Toronto, San Remo's (www.sanremobakery.com) and the picture at the bottom comes from Wikimedia.





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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Reviewing Two Hearts Wedding Theme Ideas

When Two Hearts Find Each Other

As many of our regular readers know, our family is looking forward to a wedding this fall. The mother of the groom and the mother of the bride (that's me) are both so thrilled that these two hearts have found each other and plan to walk life's journey together. We both admitted to one another when we met that we were beginning to wonder if either one of them would ever find that special someone, it had been a long search for both of them. 

After having met my daughter's soon to be Mother-in-law, I kept reflecting on those two hearts that seem so perfectly matched. Wouldn't a two hearts wedding theme be perfect for the both of them to celebrate their special day? It just seems so fitting in my mind. Of course, it is up to my daughter and her fiance to make the final decision but I am loving the idea.

A two hearts wedding theme would be so easy to work with. There are a multitude of supplies to be found with this theme. One can easily find napkins, plates and cups for the reception with those hearts entwined. I particularly like the cake topper in lieu of a more traditional bride and groom one.


In my research, I have found that just about anything you would want to use at the wedding reception can be found with this endearing theme. A lovely guest book with a pen holder that matches could be placed at the church for the actual ceremony. Pretty champagne flutes for the bride and groom to toast each other at the reception are an option. Well, the list just goes on with choices. Personally, I think my daughter will love this idea when I present it to her. It may be a little on the sentimental and "soppy" side but it just so fits their lives.

Those two hearts who have walked alone through life are going to join as one to walk hand in hand on the path that they were destined to find. Two hearts who were just fine separate but together become complete and whole. Two souls who chose not to settle but to wait until "the one" came along. Well, to say that we are thrilled for both of them just doesn't seem to cover the extent of my emotions and it pleased me to find out that the mother of the groom feels the same way.


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Monday, February 22, 2016

Whale Music Book Review

Whale Music Book Review
Sex, drugs and rock and roll. After reading the innocent sounding title, Whale Music, you might be surprised to find that this book has all of those things and more.  In the end, however, it turns out to be an interesting story of betrayal, of breaking away and of redemption.

Penthouse magazine called Whale Music, "The best novel written about rock 'n' roll."

In his award-winning book, Whale Music, Paul Quarrington tells the story of a successful rock star turned recluse, of the path that took him there and of his current reality.

"Naked, rich and fabulously deranged, he subsists on a steady diet of whiskey, pharmaceuticals and jelly doughnuts and occasionally works on his masterpiece, Whale Music."

If the plot line sounds familiar at all, that could be because it is based on a real person. My book club read this book and wondered aloud during our discussion if it was based on someone in real life and, as it turns out and according to Quarrington's own words, it was.

Whale Music was loosely based on the life and times of Brian Wilson of Beach Boys fame. Quarrington said that the book came after he thought, "I bet I can construct a set of circumstances where scurrying under the blankies and hiding your head for a year is the most sane and the most rational response to what's going on." Wilson is rumoured to have said that it is the best book that he has read about the Beach Boys. You can hear the author discuss Whale Music on CBC by clicking here.

Being the winner of prestigious literary awards like the Stephen Leacock award and the Governor General's award does not necessarily make a book one that you would recommend though I will admit to eventually being taken in my Quarrington's main character, Des Howell. However, I also spent much of the booking waiting to see what was going to happen. In the end, I did want to know whether Howell survived or even emerged from his destructive lifestyle and what happened to his alien friend.

Would I recommend this book? Well, I am not sure. If you have a keen interest in the lives of the rich and famous, yes I would though remember that this book is fiction. Other caveats are the drugs and alcohol though if sad I did not find them very disturbing to read. Also, you will have to be able to overlook numerous references to sex though I no longer remember if any actually took place in the book. Certainly they were not described in great detail, which makes the sex in this book tame, if you can say that though certainly referenced a lot. If you want an easy-to-read though because of the subject matter not exactly fluffy book that is often times funny, yes and it was funny from the very first lines...

"There is a toe sticking out from underneath a green blanket on my living room sofa..."

You can read more about Whale Music on Amazon by clicking right here.

Happy Reading!
Brenda
Treasures By Brenda

Quick Links:

Read more about Paul Quarrington in this CTV article that appeared after he passed away in 2010.





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Sunday, February 21, 2016

How to Change the Look and Feel of a Room Without Spending a Fortune

A Simple Facelift to our Washroom: A paint job,
new accessories, de-cluttering and cleaning
Total Cost: $150
If you live in a place where changing seasons are a part of life, you know exactly what it means to 'feel the coming change in the air'.

You probably find it hard to explain to someone who's never experienced this artful conversion, what it does to the senses, and how it unwittingly triggers a multitude of emotions within us.

How Changing Seasons Get Us Thinking About Changing our Homes or at the Very Least, Changing Our Decor

Since, at the time of writing this, Spring is on it's way, typically many urges hit us. Some of them include renewal, freshness, cleanliness, and in the case of selling and buying a home, the urge for a new beginning. However, before you jump into the often exhausting process of selling a home, read this article to test your resolve.

So How Can You Make Changes in Your Decor Without Dropping Big Bucks?

Here are Four simple, inexpensive decor ideas:

  1. Add an Area Rug to a Room: If you have a room with tile or hardwood flooring, changing your existing rug, or adding one where one never existed, can dramatically change the look and feel of the space. You may be thinking that Area Rugs are just too expensive, however, be sure to check out these very popular and affordable rugs, you'll be surprised by the big bang you get for your buck!
  2. Clean and De-Clutter Your Space: This one change costs nothing but time and effort. Stand back from your room and take stock at what's in your room, and make a decision to remove any pieces of furniture and knick-knacks that seem to overwhelm the space.
  3. Re-Arrange Your Space: This makes the biggest change. Take a look at your space; look at the position of the window, the door(s),  and how the traffic in the space flows, then change the space by keeping 'traffic flow' in mind. In other words, don't block any area where people would naturally walk as they enter, with furniture. This small technique will visually increase the size of your space and also give your room a greater sense of openness. 
  4. Add Accessories to Warm Up the Room: Point number two talks about de-cluttering, but that doesn't mean you have to remove every single decorative accessory. The items that generally add to the 'feel' of a space are Throw Blankets and Pillows. Without over doing it, sparingly include these items and you'll absolutely soften the space. 
There are many other ways to change the look and feel of a room without spending money, as well as an endless supply of DIY projects you can tackle, however, before you jump into these more complex tasks, start by using what you have - look around your house, re-use pieces from another room - creatively use the pieces you already own! 

Change doesn't have to involve spending a fortune!

by Barbara Tremblay Cipak



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Saturday, February 20, 2016

The Final Cut - Book Review

by Catherine Coulter (and J.T. Ellison)


The Final Cut

Author Catherine Coulter has written a series of suspense thrillers about continuing characters Special Agents Lacey Sherlock & Dillon Savich who are not only partners in their FBI roles as agents and computer specialists, but are partners in private life. This husband & wife team has given readers & fans exciting adventures since being introduced in the first book of the series (The Cove) in 1996.



My Catherine Coulter Books


(c) Wednesday Elf
I've followed Dillon & Lacey (who goes by Sherlock) through all 21 books (to date) as they meet during training at Quantico, fall in love, and get married. They work together as a married couple FBI team (most unusual and probably would only happen in fiction) solving crimes, and, as the series continues, become parents to the light of their life ~ their son Sean.

With The Final Cut, Coulter (and co-author J.T. Ellison) introduces us to what has fast become another favorite character and series. Nicholas Drummond, American-born chief inspector at Scotland Yard, comes to America and joins Dillon & Sherlock to solve an international crime.

Introducing Nicholas Drummond, a Brit in the FBI


An FBI Thriller
The first book in a brilliant new international thriller series starring that 'Brit in the FBI', handsome Nicholas Drummond, a dashing 'James Bond' type.

New International Thriller Series

In The Final Cut, our favorite team joins Nicholas Drummond in his search for an international jewel thief (The Fox) who has stolen the Koh-i-Noor diamond, currently a centerpiece of the Queen Mother's Crown displayed at the Tower of London. The diamond was on loan for a special exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and, while heavily guarded, was snatched through a clever plot. Scotland Yard and the FBI combine to chase the jewel thief from New York to Paris to recover the diamond.


We learn of the diamond's long, complicated history, which once weighed an incredible 793 carets and was once the world's largest diamond and how it passed from hand to hand (perhaps beginning with the great god Krishna) ~ always coveted, but never bought or sold, only gained through conquest.

The title 'Final Cut' refers to the last time the diamond was cut. The diamond is real -- this story about the theft of the stone is fiction. Blended together, the facts & fiction make a very good story.

Introducing the character Nicholas Drummond to us through a set of favorite characters we already love is a unique and clever twist by an author – we fans of one series are easily led to meet a new (and delightful) permanent character. And judging by the fact that the second and third Nicholas Drummond books have already been published, us readers know that a new Catherine Coulter series has now begun.

An Interview with Author Catherine Coulter


In this interview with Catherine Coulter, the author tells us how she found her co-author, J.T. Ellison, and about how they joined up to write The Final Cut.



The Second Book in the Nicholas Drummond Series



The Lost Key


Published in September 2014, The Lost Key is the 2nd book in the new Coulter series starring that 'Brit in the FBI', Nicholas Drummond!  With help from his partner, Mike Caine, they are in an  eleventh-hour race to stop a madman from finding a cache of lost World War I gold—and a weapon the world has never seen.  I've already read this book as well.







Third Nicholas Drummond Book

The End Game


As I write this review of the first book in the Nicholas Drummond series, I have just finished reading the third book in the series, The End Game.  My original favorite characters (Dillon Savich and Lacey Sherlock) join Drummond, along with the CIA, the Secret Service, and Mosssad as they move to defeat remarkable enemies.   


Fourth Book in the Series Starring Nicholas Drummond



The Devil's Triangle
Nicholas Drummond (the Brit in the FBI) and his  partner Michaela Caine are now part of the Covert Eyes team.  But their first case with the team may be their last when they  once again come up against the dangerous thief known as the Fox. 






Scene From My Home Collection of Mystery & Suspense Books

 



Catherine Coulter - One of my Favorite Mystery/Suspense Genre Authors


As you can see in the photo above, I'm a big fan of the Mystery Genre. I collect entire series of favorite authors, such as Catherine Coulter. 

Are you a fan of Catherine Coulter's books? Have you read the FBI Thriller series with Special Agents Savich & Sherlock? Come meet a new character - Nicholas Drummond, the Brit in the FBI.


Quick Links:

 

The Final Cut

The Lost Key
The End Game
The Devil's Triangle


Read more book reviews at ReviewThisBooks.com



*(c) Wednesday Elf.  Review originally written on 2/20/16. Updated on 1/4/2018.








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Friday, February 19, 2016

Reviewing Music by Don Francisco - Christian Singer, Songwriter & Musician

Do You Know this Man's Name?
https://reviewthispersonalreviews.blogspot.com/
Music has been a driving force in my life for as long as I can remember.  Over the years, many singers and their songs have touched my heart and they have left an indelible mark.  But, there are a few who have touched my soul.  Their lyrics have spoken to the very deepest part of my being.

One such writer who has the ability to write a song with such simplicity, but with great depth, is Don Francisco.  I first heard him sing in the 70's, but his music and songs still play in my head.  I raised my children singing his "Lullaby" to them at bedtime.  There have been times when my faith was bolstered by recalling the lessons his lyrics teach.  Then there were other times when I was able to remember a bible story because I remembered his song.

While he may not have received tremendous accolades on this earth, his voice or style may not appeal to everyone, and his name may not be a household word, there is no question he will receive rewards in heaven.  His voice is pleasing to God and the only One who matters in the end knows his name.

If you have never heard of him, let me introduce you.  If you already know who he is, enjoy the memories by listening to his music below.   

I have included 7 different music videos in this article.  You may not have time to listen to all of them right now, so be sure to bookmark this article and return to listen to them one at a time, when you have time.

Oh, I should tell you, he writes all of his own music. 


Lullaby by Don Francisco 


This is the lullaby I referred to earlier in the introduction.

Even as an adult, I appreciate the reminder that Christ is right here with me while I sleep.  I love the line "With the peace that Jesus brings."   It is only with these assurances that I find rest myself.




The Best Known Song by Don Francisco ~ "He's Alive" 


This is the song that first draw my attention to Don Francisco.  He opened a concert for the Gaithers once when I was in attendance and this song received a standing ovation.  Honestly, I think he stole the show. 

It is a song that describes the events that followed the crucifixion of Christ.  It is told from the stand point of the disciple, Peter.   So many of us can identify with Peter.




Why I Admire Don Francisco


There are several reasons, aside from writing wonderful lyrics, that I admire Don Francisco. 

He has a very unassuming presence when he sings.  Usually it is only Don and his guitar sitting on a stool center stage.  No major production, no fancy costumes, no theatrical presentation, just a jean clad regular guy praising God. 

His wife, Wendy, often accompanies him.  Not just in person, but also on the guitar.  He doesn't look to the crowd for reassurance or praise for himself.  As a matter of fact, I don't know if he even looks at the crowd but he still somehow connects with them. 



 

One of my Favorites ~ "I Don't Care Where You've Been Sleeping" 


This song is now one of my favorites.  I remember my first thoughts about this song vividly, I thought it was shocking

My favorite bible verses can be found in Psalms 139.  Frankly, I love the whole chapter, but there is one verse that says "If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, Thou art there."  

Once I made the association between the scripture and the song, I readily embraced the lyrics. 

Oh, so many people need to hear this message:  "There's no sin you could imagine that is stronger than My love"





Teaching with Lyrics ~ Balaam


This song lays out the story of Balaam's encounter with an angel in a way that is easy to follow and memorize.  Believe me when I say, if you don't know the story of Balaam before you hear the song, you will never forget it after you hear this song.

You catch a real glimpse of Don Francisco's wit in this song.  The deliverance of the song and story is lighthearted, fun and humorous, but scripturally accurate.   What I love most about this bible story is that God used an animal to deliver His message.





The Storyteller ~ Adam Where Are You? 


In this song Don Francisco shows his remarkable ability to "string a phrase" and tell a story. 

This is one of those songs that tell the story so well that in my mind I can just envision the scenes unfolding and my heart breaks for God and Adam.

I also know He continues to call out to all of us.  






Too Small A Price by Don Francisco 


If you don't have the time to listen to any or all of the others songs featured here now, at least Listen to this one!

This song is written from the perspective of the thief on the cross next to Christ.  

There are several messages in this song.  I suspect which one speaks to you will depend on where you are in life.  Over the last 40 years of listening to this song, I can tell you from experience, perspective matters.  The message I heard when I was a teenager was different than the one I hear today due to the verse and lyrics that capture my focus. 


 

 

Albums by Don Francisco

Don Francisco has a number of albums that he has recorded. These are the albums that include the songs featured in this article. 




Reviewing Music by Don Francisco was Written by:
House of Sylvestermouse





Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


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