Thursday, June 30, 2016

Celebrating an All-American 4th of July - Part I

Our reviewers have teamed up to help you celebrate an All-American 4th of July. Enjoy our menu ideas, recipes, and entertainment.
This July 4th, the United States of America celebrates its 240th birthday.  At Review This!, we're celebrating with good company, great food, and more!

Our group of dedicated reviewers have teamed up once again to provide menu ideas, recipes, and entertainment, this time in honor of Independence Day.

I'll provide main dish ideas and recipes today, then watch for desserts and appetizers the next couple of days, followed by special music and a fireworks show. We've got you covered for the entire 4th of July weekend!

Main Dishes for an All-American 4th of July

When I think 4th of July, I think picnic. And when I think picnic food, I think of hot dogs and hamburgers. I'll admit, those two staples are my favorite picnic main dishes, but these days it's fun to think outside the box a bit, too.

For instance, baby back ribs and brisket smoking on the grill are mainstays for many families around the country, especially here in the mid-South where I live. If you're not sure how to proceed, our good friend (and excellent cook) Sam shares instructions on how to cook ribs on the grill.  Mmmm, looks and sounds delicious!
ribs on the grill
How to Cook Ribs on the Grill
from Sam's Place
Many backyard cooks turn to chicken, from grilled boneless chicken breasts to rotisserie chickens cooked slowly above the coals. Chicken drumsticks are an inexpensive way to feed a crowd and are easy to prepare on the grill. Try Cajun Blackened Chicken on the Grill, as we did. Is your mouth watering yet?
Cajun Blackened Chicken on the Grill Recipe from
Cajun Blackened Chicken on the Grill
from Recipes For Real People
For more out of the box, all-American options, there's a growing list of vegetarian and vegan picnic food. If that sounds like your 4th of July cup of tea, don't miss this Grilling Vegan Style cookbook review, written by our own team member, BuckHawk. The recipes include vegan burgers (portobello, anyone?), hot dogs and sausages, as well as awesome outdoor food such as Summer Bruschettas and Grilled Eggplant and Herb Rounds. I can make a main dish out of these tasty bites any day of the year, can't you?

I hope these Independence Day main dish recipes and menu suggestions have your mouth watering. Check out the links above, then follow the links below as we continue to celebrate an All-American 4th of July!

Join us at the links below as we continue our All-American 4th of July celebration. Next up: 

This installment of "Celebrating an All-American 4th of July" brought to you by
Susan Deppner

Have a Safe and Happy 4th of July!

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, June 29, 2016

Could You Survive Emigrating to An Untamed Land? A Book Review

Could You Survive An Untamed Land?

Those who emigrated beyond the American Frontier in the 1800's were a special breed. They knew they would have to conquer an untamed land in order to survive in their new homes. Laura Snelling puts us into their shoes as we read An Untamed Land (Red River of the North #1). This historical Christian novel follows two Norwegian brothers who emigrated from Norway to America with their wives and children in 1880. They wanted to homestead in the Dakota territory. One of the children was born on the ship during the journey to the United States.

Could You Survive Emigrating to An Untamed Land? A Book Review
Photo Courtesy of Pixabay, modified on PicMonkey

The book opens with the entire family gathered together to discuss whether the brothers should emigrate. There was a great deal of emotion, since everyone knew that if the brothers left, it was unlikely they would ever see their families again. Gustav's younger brother was already in America. Roald and Carl had read his letters. 

You will pick up the sadness of Gustaf as he thinks of his family separated by an ocean.  Yet Gustaf and Bridget knew their younger sons had no real way to work on their own land  if they stayed at home. 

Why Did the Brothers Want to Emigrate?

The brother were part of a large family in Norway.  It was traditional for the eldest son to inherit his father's lands.  The other brothers would have to work the land belonging to others. A Norwegian journalist, Paul Hansen, who had immigrated to the Red River district of  North Dakota and Minnesota,  wrote glowing descriptions of free flat land for those willing to homestead it. Carl and Roald Bjorklund, sons of Gustaf and Bridget Bjorklund, wanted to go and build their future on their own land in the Dakota country. 

Once the family had given their reluctant blessing, everyone worked to raise money for the sea voyage to America. Roald and Carl took jobs on a fishing boat. Roald's wife Anna moved in with the Bjorklund family to help Bridget and save money on rent. When they moved out, they sold everything from the house they would not need in America.  Roald and Carl's sister Augusta then got a job outside the home to help raise money.

It was with great reluctance their parents let them go. Roald had married Ingeborg after his first wife, Anna, had died in childbirth. Thoriff is their first son, now five. Although Roald and Ingeborg respected each other, Roald was still grieving over Anna, and Ingeborg liked, but did not yet love Roald. Carl was in love with Kaaren Hejelmson, and married her before they left.  

So why did these young couples emigrate? Why did they leave all they had known to face hardship and danger settling in a foreign land where they didn’t even know the language? Because they wanted a better life for their children where they could have their own land and live free.

New York

The author skips telling us about the ocean voyage, except for sharing the vivid memories the family members had as they were preparing to go ashore. You can only imagine how hard it was for Karen to give birth on the ship. She had been seasick for most of the voyage, and had been sick since the baby was born. She was so sick when they reached New York that Carl had to carry her off the ship. Ingeborg helped to look after her and the new baby and encouraged Kaaren not to give up hope. Ingeborg has discovered she is also pregnant. 

As they prepared to leave the ship, Roald told Ingeborg to wait below to avoid the crowds, even though she was dying to see the ship land.  Below it was so crowded with belongings one could barely move. There was no fresh air and it stank, for many had been seasick. 

Once off the ship the families were amazed to see the tall buildings and the busy, crowded dock. The families' first stop was to be Castle Garden, where they were to go through immigration. Kaaren was afraid she'd be turned away because of her illness. 

Could You Survive Emigrating to An Untamed Land? A Book Review
Castle Garden, By Unattributed [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Roald started walking with a load of luggage, asking Ingeborg to follow with Thoriff. Roald was walking so fast, without looking back, that she lost him. She also lost Thoriff in a crowd and not knowing English made it hard to get help. Finally someone who understood Norwegian came to her aid, and they found Thoriff, but he was already in trouble. Ingeborg meets a new friend -- a wealthy man who becomes important in the rest of the book. 

The Journey West

Travel was hard. There were no fast food places along the way to stop for meals. Tired women had to get out of the wagons after a hard day of travel and prepare a meal over an open fire using whatever they had left of provisions and whatever meat or fish could be procured by the men. When the families finally reached their land, no home was waiting. They had to continue to live in the covered wagon until they got a home built. They had to share a cabin until they could spare time to build another one.

Since I’ve read more than handful of memoirs by pioneer woman, little in this book was new to me. But it struck me again how hard these women worked physically compared to most of us today. Their very lives depended on how well they could plan ahead what they needed when the general store might be an overnight trip or longer.

Survival on the Land

Could You Survive Emigrating to An Untamed Land? A Book Review
By Solomon D. Butcher [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The couples got along well, and they shared the first home they built -- a sod house such as was common on the prairie. They shared the work of turning the sod, planting a garden, and later, caring for livestock. Remember, Kaaren had been sick to start with and Ingeborg was also feeling the effects of carrying a child. They were dependent mostly on each other for medical care. 

There are some treatments I could not have stood to watch were they on film. We take so much for granted today -- anesthetics, antibiotics, and other modern treatments. We wouldn't want to have to sew up someone we love without them, let alone be the patient.  The only help they had was a woman who was half Indian and half white who thought the land they were claiming was really hers, since she was squatting there and thought her dead husband had title to it. She knew how to use native plants to treat illness, and without her knowledge and care Ingeborg would have died after falling and hitting her head while fishing. She lost consciousness and it was hours before anyone discovered her. 

When the families finally had neighbors they were able to help each other build barns and homes and do seasonal jobs in the fields. One family could buy a cow and the other a bull for and they could share them for breeding. Best of all, they could experience friendship again in their new land. 

For the first years settler families had to put all their efforts into survival -- building, planting, harvesting, food storage, and gathering wood and water. Getting a well was a big event. Schools and churches would have to come later, after basic needs were met. Everyone worked, even the children when old enough, to help care for animals, do chores, and produce food. All the while, there was the feeling of loss because family and old friends were far away in the land they had left.

Later they replaced sod homes with wood homes with real floors, like this pioneer house, built 1873 in Cass County, North Dakota for Johannes Hellestvedt from Hardanger, Norway. It is a log cabin.

Could You Survive Emigrating to An Untamed Land? A Book Review

Was Coming to America Worth the Cost?

That's a judgment you, the reader, will have to make.  The Bjorklund families did get free land as they had hoped, but it exacted a very high non-monetary price from them. Their faith was seriously tested, especially that of Ingeborg. This is not your typical historical prairie romance. It is a realistic look at marriage, family life, and pioneer life on the American frontier. I would classify it as Christian historical fiction. After you read it, you will very much appreciate your life today, no matter how rough it may be. 

An Untamed Land is the first in a series. I first read this book a couple of years ago, and I reread it before writing this review. I am anxious to read the other books in the series when I can find time. If you finish the first book, you will want to continue reading to see what happens next. 

If you found this review useful, please share it with friends who might appreciate this book. The image below is just right for sharing on Pinterest.

Could You Survive Emigrating to An Untamed Land? A Book Review
Please pin me.
What would have been the hardest adjustment for you as a homesteader in this Dakota Country?

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, June 28, 2016

Reviewing The Royal Wizard Of Yurt Book Series

Fun Fantasy Series Of Books

Last week while trolling around for something new to read, I discovered an older series of books The Royal Wizard of Yurt by C. Dale Brittain. The first book in the series of fantasy fiction was published in 1991 and can be found in both paperback and digital formats. Ms. Brittain penned 10 books in total for this light and fun reading journey.

a bad spell in yurt book cover
A Bad Spell In Yurt
(First Book In Series)

In the first book, we are taken to a fantasy world that could be in a medieval era except that there are modern types of conveniences like telephones and lighting that would not be available for several centuries. Now, these appliances are not quite like what we know of today or even like the ones that were first invented some 140 years ago. The lighting and the telephones are made by magic by the wizards in this fantasy realm. There are small little kingdoms scattered throughout with the story taking place in a tiny little kingdom of Yurt. The modes of transportation are not as modern as the phones and the lighting. People either travel by horse or walk, unless you are a wizard and then you can fly using a flying spell or by hiring a flying contraption that resembles a dragon.

Daimbert, has been hired as the Royal Wizard of Yurt fresh out of Wizard School. He was not the best student in the class but rather a bit of a goof-off that barely graduated. Daimbert had cut most of his classes and rarely paid attention in the ones that he did attend. Imagine his surprise when he applies for the job of Royal Wizard and finds out that he has been hired!

It doesn't take long after arriving at the castle of the King and Queen of Yurt for Daimbert to figure out that something is not quite right in the kingdom. He senses an evil presence that he can't quite figure out and the people who live there all become suspect in his mind. He pushes that task aside when he finds out that his first assignment is to create a telephone system. What will he do? He didn't pay attention in the few classes where they learned the magic for telephones! Hopefully, he can find a book in the previous wizard's books that will tell him how to do it or in one of the books that he has brought with him.

This was a fun book to read! Daimbert muddles through what little magic he has retained and learns on his own spells that he should have learned at Wizard School along with some he creates himself. He becomes acquainted with the old wizard who retired from the castle and falls in love with the Queen of Yurt the moment he lays eyes on her.

There are amusing twists and turns in this light read that I enjoyed very much. The young wizard grows in his skills as he bungles along trying to figure out who is behind the evil he senses. I don't like to spoil stories so I am not going to reveal much more. You will have to read the first book yourself to find out what is going on in the land of Yurt whose Royal Wizard slept through most of his wizardry classes.

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.”

Monday, June 27, 2016

The Swans of Kensington Garden~Perfect for Swan Lovers!

Review: The Swans of Kensington Garden

Why am I reviewing my own book? Because many people love to give coffee table books as gifts and I am one of them. Who doesn't love a beautiful book of photographs to look at? They make perfect gifts for people who seem to have everything. Plus they are a perfect accessory for the coffee table and a conversation piece when guests come over. With that idea in mind I recently published a coffee table book of my own: The Swans of Kensington Garden.

It all started with a trip to London, England and a visit to the gardens surrounding Kensington Palace. I just could not get over all the beautiful Swans in the lake there so I went home to grab my camera and started snapping away.  My husband and I love birds a lot and Swans in particular so this was a dream day in London for us. In the end I had more than 300 photos of the beautiful Mute Swans that inhabit the lake. When I got home I decided it would be wonderful to share all my photos and some fun facts about the Swans so the book was born.

I used Create Space to publish the book on Amazon. It was actually very easy to do, although there is a learning curve. I think the hardest thing was choosing only 36 photos out of the more than 300 I had taken. Actually maybe the hardest thing was formatting them and the text to fit in the template provided. But I am very happy with how it turned out, and now I have a permanent reminder of that beautiful day in my living room and not only do my guests get to see it, but anyone who purchases the book does too. I might be biased but I think it's a beautiful book and fun to read. I added little tidbits of information about the Mute Swan and several poems so you might even learn a little about Swans that you didn't know.

My friends who have seen my Swan book have all  remarked on the quality of the cover and the photos, so if you ever want to create a permanent memory of a trip and have a wonderful gift to give your friends, I highly recommend using Create Space to create a book very inexpensively. Very soon I will be writing an article explaining how to do that.

Meanwhile, if you love Swans, or know someone who does, my little coffee table book of Swans is sure to please them and would make a wonderful gift.

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, June 26, 2016

Patriotic Bedding Sets - Celebrate July 4th Even When You Go to Sleep

Find This American Bedding Set Here
"When we re-decorate our bedrooms, we normally approach it as a one-time style change until we're ready to tackle it again - Who says we have to do it that way?"

Have you ever gotten the itch to make a bedroom decor change for a special occasion like Christmas, or even July 4th but didn't think a temporary change was worth it or could be done?

It's actually easier than you think when you choose bedding duvet sets.

Why Bedding Duvet Sets?

Of course, yes, you can use a comforter set, but a Duvet Set allows you to put the duvet cover over your existing comforter. That way, when the special occasion is over, you simply remove it along with any other pieces you put out such as sheets and pillow cases.

The problem that prevents us from making these quick changes is matching it to our existing decor. The paint, wallpaper, and furniture may not match another bedding set. True enough. Sometimes it won't. However, sometimes it will, or you can make it work by strictly using accessory pieces:
If your walls are busied-up with a lot of pattern and color, then to add a full seasonal or special occasion duvet set may be difficult. 
Idea: Just because you can't feature an entire set, doesn't mean you can't feature something patriotic, like a pillow, throw blanket, or bed sheets.
When you do decide to fully re-decorate a space, selecting a fairly neutral base decor, makes temporary seasonal changes easier.

Pick a couple of your favorite holidays or special occasions and find sets that are easily interchangeable with your room's base decor and go ahead and switch out your bedding for that much needed decorating pick-me-up. When you're ready, just remove the duvet set, and it's back to the way it was.

Have funk'n fun!

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, June 25, 2016

Camera Day and a Review of a Canon PowerShot Digital Camera

June 29 is National Camera Day

Illustration of a stick figure holding a camera
Source: Pixabay

National Camera Day is an unofficial holiday with no known creator.  We observe this day each June 29 to celebrate this irreplaceable tool we all use to record and save memories of events, people and places.  Before the invention of the camera, recording such memories could only be done on a painting.

Brief review of the camera

From 1825 to today, we've come a long way in how we take photos.

  • French inventor, Joseph NiĆ©pce invented the heliograph, which was a technique used to produce the world’s first known photograph in 1825, the view from the window at Le Gras the families estate.
  • In 1839, Louis Jacques Daguerre took the first fixed image that didn’t fade, inventing the daguerreotype process of photography
  • George Eastman invented flexible and unbreakable film that could be rolled. This led to the first Kodak that was offered for sale in 1888.
  • In 1948, Edwin Land invented the Polaroid, the world’s first instant-picture camera with no development needed.  This camera was able to produce finished positive prints from the exposed negatives in under a minute.
  • Japan produced the first digital camera commercially sold in December of 1989.
  • By 2010, nearly all mobile phones featured a built-in camera.

My New Camera - Canon PowerShot SX410 IS 


Canon Powershot Camera

I've gone from a Kodak Brownie to slide cameras to a simple Kodak digital camera.  Recently, my Kodak digital camera wore out and I replaced it with the Canon PowerShot SX410 IS.  My new camera has so many more features that, in the 3 months I've had it, I've only learned a very few of them. 

Amazon says this camera has:

  • 20.0 Megapixel sensor and Canon DIGIC 4+ Image Processor
  • Powerful 40x Optical Zoom (24-960mm) and 24mm Wide-Angle lens
  • 720p HD video at up to 25 frames per second with clear sound
  • 3.0-inch LCD screen with a great resolution of approximately 230,000 dots 

Photo of clouds seen through tree branches
(c) Wednesday Elf
I don't (yet) understand 'megapixels' or resolutions, but I do LOVE the 40x zoom and wide angle lens.  This picture was the first 'zoom' image I captured on Day one of owning my new camera. I took this picture outside my apartment looking up at the clouds through the trees.

As time goes by, I hope to learn all the features this camera offers and try out the other shooting modes available.  For instance, there are ways to shoot under low light and specific ways to shoot portraits.  I can also apply special effects, such as shooting in monochrome, with long exposures, in vivid colors, and with a self-timer. Next month I am taking my new camera with me on a trip to visit my grandchildren.  You KNOW what I will be shooting then! 

Say Cheese!

Young boy smiling
Grandson Ryan at age 7


So on Camera Day and every day, celebrate with snapping photos of all the memories you want to preserve.

Related Articles:

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, June 24, 2016

While We Were Watching Downton Abbey Book Review

For recovering Downton Abbey addicts a book review: While We Were Watching Downton Abbey by Wendy Wax.
While We Were Watching Downton Abbey is a light and easy read designed for those of us who were addicted to the highly popular PBS mini-series Downton Abbey. I will readily admit that I am one of those addicts and that I enjoyed this lightweight book. I bonded with the characters and at moments laughed out loud.

While We Were Watching tells the story of a group of women discovering not just Downton Abbey but friendship, too. Written by Wendy Wax, it shares their modern day struggles and how they support each other through the ups and the downs that life has thrown at them.

Set in The Alexander, a historic Atlanta apartment building that sounds absolutely lovely, this story features three main female characters:

Samantha Davis, a wealthy woman who married for money for herself and her younger siblings.

Claire Walker, a struggling author now also struggling to be happy on her own as an empty nester in a new environment.

Brooke MacKenzie, a woman married to an unfaithful husband and a decidedly un-nice husband.

Author Wendy Wax pictured George Clooney playing butler Edward. What do you think?
Author Wendy Wax pictured George Clooney
playing butler Edward. What do you think?
Picture available on Amazon.
All three are brought together inadvertently by the male concierge, Edward when he decides to host a Downton Abbey night once a week in the building's movie room. Of course, he does so brilliantly and you will wish you could watch the series with this cast of characters. You will want to join them for a glass of wine and you will want some of the Downton-style British-themed treats, too.

The story unfolds with both drama and humour. You will find yourself cheering the ladies on. The story will quickly draw you in and, unfortunately, be over far too soon.

If you are looking for something fun to read that harks back to Downton Abbey, you might want to pick up While We Were Watching Downton Abbey. It would of course make an excellent gift choice for someone who is enthralled with the series. You can order your copy of While We Were Watching Downton Abbey from Amazon by clicking right here.

Are you a Downton Abbey fan?

Happy Reading!


Books by Wendy Wax
Wendy Wax set aside other projects in order to write about Downton Abbey since she and the rest of the world were so keen on that series. Her other books include the Ten Beach Road four-book series shown here. You can check out all of Wax's books for yourself on Amazon by clicking right here.


Downton Abbey Tea Cups 
A page from the 31 Days of Coffee Mugs; a great set of teacups.

Downton Abbey Christmas Video Parodies 
Did you see the Downton Abbey Christmas parody videos? They feature all of the original cast members and a few surprises.


Writing Jane Austen Book Review 
Imagine if you were given a chapter of a seventh Jane Austen novel. A novel, that is, which she never finished. Then imagine being asked to finish the book for her and you will have a basic understanding of what this book is all about.

Mildred Pierce: The Book, The Movie & The Mini-Series 
After first thoroughly enjoying the book Mildred Pierce, I went on to watch and enjoy the 1945 Joan Crawford movie and the 2011 HBO mini-series that stars Kate Winslet. 

Austenland Book Review 
As a huge fan of Jane Austen movies and books, my antennae perked up when I heard of the new movie, Austenland. I would love to have a vacation there.

The Pink Dress by Anne Alexander
A 1950s story of teenage life. Written for high school aged girls, who fondly remember the book and want to share it with their female children and grand children.

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, June 23, 2016

Review of Patriotic Photographs

American Flag
I love to capture images of the American flag in my photographs.  The photograph above shows the flag flying on my house on Memorial Day.  The photo is taken from my front porch where I was sitting and enjoying the beautiful day.  The flag always gives me a feeling of patriotism and thankfulness for the freedoms we enjoy in the USA.

On this page I will share with you my photographs of the flag and other images that remind me of our freedom as Americans.

The Flag is a Symbol of Patriotism

Here are some interesting facts I found about the American Flag when searching online.

  • The American Flag, as it is called today was first called the "Stars and Stripes" when it was  approved in 1777.
  • The original flag had 13 stripes and 13 stars.  One for each of the 13 colonies.
  • Today's flag still carries the 13 stripes for the original colonies but it now has 50 stars.  One for each state in the union.
  • There are several myths about the designer of the American flag.  The journals of the Continental congress show that the designer was Francis Hopkinson, a Congressman and patriot.
  • Today the original flag can be found at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D. C.

The Flag Used as a 9/11 Remembrance

9/11 remembrance day in St. Louis, American flags flying with never forget banner
The flags in the photo above were part of a remembrance display that the city of St. Louis hosted on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy.  The hill below the St. Louis Art Museum was covered with flags.  One flag for each person that lost their life in the 9/11 attacks.

I visited the display with a few friends and was moved by the solemn beauty of the flags flying in remembrance of those who lost their lives.  
Flags of Valor display in St. Louis photo by mbgphoto
American Flags of Valor photo by mbgphoto

Flags Flying in Public Places

The American flag is flown in many public and private places.  It is a symbol of our country that I enjoy photographing.  The photograph below was taken at Tawas Point lighthouse in Michigan.  It was a slightly windy day and I moved around and took several shots to capture the flag in front of the lighthouse.
Tawas Point Lighthouse photo by mbgphoto
Tawas Point Lighthouse

Canadian Flag flying alongside the American flag photo by mbgphoto
The above photo was taken in Canada just across the St. Clair river from Ft.  Gratiot, Michigan.  I had crossed the river to get a better view of the lighthouse and found these two flags one Canadian and one American on the boardwalk along the river.  I love the way the seem to symbolize a sense of unity between the countries.

O'Fallon, Missouri Veterans Memorial

Another symbol of patriotism is the many veterans memorials found throughout our land.  They show the honor and respect we have those who sacrificed themselves for our county.  We have a unique memorial in the town that I live in, O'Fallon.  It depicts pairs of cast bronze boots positioned as though marching.  Called the Veterans Memorial Walk it was dedicated in 2001 as a place to honor soldiers both past and present.  
veteran memorial boots photo by mbgphoto

Veterans Memorial Walk photo by mbgphoto

Monuments are Symbols of Patriotism

There are many monuments throughout the country that are seen as symbols of our history and patriotism.  This is a photo I took of the Washington Monument in Washington D. C.  Note the circle of flags at the base of the monument.
Washington Monument photo by mbgphoto

Enjoy Patriotic Gifts from my Photographs

Celebrate Card
Celebrate Card by mbgphoto
Look at American flag Cards online at

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, June 22, 2016

Green Thumbs Love Daylilies!

What grows without too much trouble, looks beautiful and makes gardeners all over the world smile?

You could answer with a multitude of plant names and I'm sure that some gardeners, somewhere, would agree with almost any suggestion.  The answer I'm looking for right now is Daylilies!

With over 30,000 different cultivars, you know that the plant world has taken this plant and just loved it so much that developing a new cultivar is like finding gold.

Hemorocallis is the proper name for the genus of Daylilies and comes from the Greek words Hemera (day) and Kallos (beautiful). So the Latin name is very appropriate and a straight translation. They are called Daylilies because each flower usually lasts only one day.  One every stem though you can have 5 to 10 buds.  So they last a lot longer than one day.  July and August are the greatest months for Daylilies.  They are  blooming like crazy during the summer months.

yellow daylilies
                                      Picture from my garden, please don't copy.

With over 30,000 different cultivars, it is highly unlikely that you will ever see all of these beauties in one place.  There are gardeners all over the world who use their gardening skills to breed new cultivars of Daylilies in the hopes of bringing another beauty into being.

variety of daylilies
Picture Wikimedia Commons

Developing new cultivars is not for the faint-hearted gardener.  It can take 3 to 5 years and sometimes longer to develop a new strain and then it must be tested to make sure it comes true to it's cross and does not revert back to one of the parent lilies.

When I first fell in love with Daylilies, they just happened to be the most ordinary Daylily. Ordinary in the sense that they are common and found all over the world.  They are just plain orange, but bloom with lots of buds on each stem, so they flower for a long time.  Most people call them Tiger Lilies.  

Today I have a few more Daylilies that are quite beautiful.  I have fallen in love with one called Devil's Delight, that is a dark red/burgundy with a green throat.  Ruffled edges on the petals make it look like a ladies evening gown.  That root cost me a small fortune and looking at my pictures I realize I have never taken her picture.  Sorry, I would have loved to share her with you.

I have neighbors go by my garden asking me for a root of that particular Daylily, but I am not so keen to share it.  

The other one that I really like is called Moonlight Dance ( see the picture above)  and she is yellow with a halo of darker orange and the edges are also the dark orange and ruffled as well.  They remind me of ballerina tutus.

This weekend June 24-26th there is a Daylily Festival in Tennessee.  If you are close by, I would say go and be prepared to be awed by over 200 varieties of Daylilies.

pink daylilies
Photo by Ken Oakes 

Why Grow Daylilies?

As I was telling you earlier, there are so many Daylily cultivars, that I'm sure no one has seen them all in one place at one time. Why are there so many?  Well I'd like to guess that it's partially due to the ease with which you can grow this plant. While it is originally from the Eurasian area, China, Korea and Japan, daylilies have found their way around the world and can grow in a variety of settings.

They can be large flowered with multiple petals, or large with singular petals. Some have stripes or rings, some are ruffled and others are not. Colors vary from the common orange, to dark reds, violets, pinks, yellows and everything in between.

Their root systems are so strong that they will get denser and denser as the years go by.

If you leave a clump of daylilies growing without any interference, it may take a pick ax to dig it out again. I tend to let mine grow for a year without disturbance, and then the next year, I will go in and remove some of the roots for planting elsewhere or sharing with friends and family.

The large strap shaped leaves look like a giant spider plant, until the spikes of flowers begin to show in mid-July. Then prepare yourself for some breath-taking beauty.

Some are scented and re-bloom later in the year as well, but not all of them. It's hard for any plant to be this beautiful and smell nice too! Whatever you don't get in scent is certainly made up for, by the depths of colors and intricacies in this plant.

Can I make some suggestions for your garden?

If you have never grown Daylilies I would start with this one, The Stella d'Oro is a rebloomer, meaning that it will bloom more than once.  It is beautiful in it's golden color and it smells nice too! You will not be disappointed with this plant.

yellow daylilies25 Bareroot Stella D'Oros Daylilies--1-2 fan

Do you want to learn more?

I only made one suggestion for your garden because I could not possibly choose the others for you.
Rather,  I would suggest getting this book, for some really nice summer time reading and dreaming.

You will enjoy seeing the multitudes of daylilies within the pages and the descriptions of what makes each one "special".  It will also open your eyes to at least 1700 different cultivars that are available.

This book will become bookmarked with your choices in colors and types of daylilies.  Leave it out in the open for your children to see, so next time there is a gift giving opportunity, they will know at least one thing that you would love to have in your garden. If you are inclined you could even use some sticky notes to mark out your favorites.........Sneaky, right?

daylilies encyclopedia bookThe New Encyclopedia of Daylilies: More Than 1700 Outstanding 

I prefer to be this kind of sneaky and get something that I really want in my garden than to have my kids bring me cut flowers that will surely last only a few days.  This way, your plants will come back year after year becoming more beautiful with the passing of time.  They will be a living reminder of the gift given once and enjoyed ever after.

Just one word of caution, once you have one daylily in your garden, you will want more!  

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, June 21, 2016

Reviewing Seresto Flea Collar For Cats

Have A Flea Problem?

tabby cat
Cat Image From
In my neck of the woods we are in the full swing of flea and tick season. I have just placed a new flea collar on my cat, the Seresto Flea Collar for cats. I haven't used a collar for many years, mainly because they became hard to find. We had switched to the topical type of flea prevention which was fine but rather on the expensive side when you had to apply it once per month. 

The old type of flea collars for cats were taken off of the market because of the problem of causing neurological problems for our little feline buddies. So, most of us had to find other ways to protect not only our kitty cats but our homes as well. 

Bayer, the aspirin people, have come out with a line of products for cats and dogs and they are making a flea collar that seems promising. I'm giving it a try, anyway. So, far so good.

I really like the convenience of not having to apply any topical stuff once a month. This collar is supposed to work for 8 months. I have been watching carefully and there have been no indications of fleas on my cat and she has not had any adverse effects from wearing the collar. She was not very happy when I first put it on her but she was never very excited when I applied the topical medication on her either.

I also liked that the flea collar comes in a tin can with a nice little pamphlet that tells you how to apply the collar and possible reactions to watch for in your cat. It also has some little clips that you can apply to the collar that will reflect light at night if your cat wanders around the neighborhood. Our cat doesn't go outside at night but it is nice to have them to use if we feel the need. There is also a sticker that you can apply to your calendar to remind you when the 8 months is up.

At first, I thought the pricing was a little high but when I figured it lasts for 8 months it is quite a bit less costly than the monthly topicals that I had to purchase. All in all, we are happy with the flea collar from Bayer.

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.”

Monday, June 20, 2016

Healthy and Delicious Smoothies

Photo courtesy of D Sharon Pruitt (creative commons)
Last week I shared my excitement about my new NutriBullet Pro 900 series with you.  I have enjoyed green smoothies for some time now but settled with using an inexpensive blender for far too long. Now that I have a NutriBullet juice extractor, smoothies have become even more important to me and even easier to make on a daily basis.

Why Smoothies Have Become Important to Me

Some time ago I began trying to eat healthier foods and cut things from my diet such as soda.  I find that as the years pass, my health is harder to maintain and my weight continues to increase.  I also began making smoothies because store-bought juices are typically too sweet.  I like water with a splash of orange juice or cranberry juice. So it was an easy jump to the Smoothies.  Finally, when I drink smoothies regularly, I feel noticeably better.

Green smoothies are my favorite. Especially green smoothies using the following ingredients: 
Spinach, orange juice, blueberries, banana, water/ice, and a few leaves of fresh mint from my balcony garden.

My plan is to try many different smoothies.  I now have a recipe book to browse and an app to download. And a NutriBullet Pro that pulverizes ingredients. For more information about my new NutriBullet, take a peek at my review

Tempting Smoothie Recipe Suggestions From a Few Friends

Cynthia Sylverstermouse shares her Tropical Fruit Smoothie with us. If you are a fan of mango, strawberry, and papaya you must take a peek at this recipe. She also suggests we take a look at the Ultimate Smoothie Book for more delicious smoothie recipes.

I love peanut butter, and know that it is considered to be very nutritious, but I have never considered having it in a smoothie with berries. On Recipes for Real People you can find the recipe for Peanut Butter Triple Berry Smoothie.

And if your mouth isn't watering yet, this compilation of Chocolate Smoothie recipes by BuckHawk is sure to cause you to crave chocolate. AND rush right out to purchase a smoothie maker if you do not already own one. I think an Almond Joy Smoothie for dessert sounds like a wonderful thing!  But if almonds, coconut, and chocolate isn't your thing, there are several other chocolate smoothies to choose from. 

Photo courtesy of Ralf Kabelitz (creative commons)

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, June 17, 2016

How to Change a Blogger URL to a Custom Domain URL

Custom Domain URL on Blogger - Easy Instructions

Easy Instructions for Changing a Blogger URL with Photos

There are several reasons why you might want to redirect a blogger url to a custom domain url.  In my case, I didn't want to transfer all of the articles on blogger to a new site just to have the custom domain url.  Custom domains are easier to remember since they most often match the site name.  They also don't require readers to remember the "blogspot" part of the url.  It is so much easier to tell friends, family, and readers to visit than it is to tell them  Now that our site has been redirected, either the old url or the new custom domain url will land you here.

Even though we have owned the custom domain name for years, I was hesitant to make the redirect.  I feared all kinds of evils would befall us.  I worried that we might even be offline for hours or days.  All of those concerns were unfounded.  Nothing bad happened and within 30 minutes, our custom domain was completely set and our site was redirected.

Now, let me share our extremely easy directions for redirecting a blogger site to a custom domain.  These instructions are written with bloggers in mind, not computer web designers.  The instructions are written in plain, easy to understand English and I have included lots of screenshots so you can see exactly what I am talking about in each step. 

Instructions for Redirecting a Site URL

If you follow these instructions, they will work.  Some steps may require waiting time for the DNS settings to activate, but that does not mean you have made a mistake.  Simply be patient and allow the internet to process your commands. 

1) Purchase Custom Domain - I use Namecheap, so these instructions will show their dashboard 

2) On the Blogger Dashboard, click Settings > Basic 

3) Click the link "+ Setup a 3rd party URL for your blog" 

Easy Instructions with Photos for Changing a Blogger URL to Custom Domain

4)  Go to the Namecheap Dashboard and click "Manage" by the url you wish to use, then select "Advanced DNS" from the top tabs.
Easy Instructions for How to Change a Blogger URL to a Custom Domain URL

Easy Instructions for How to Change a Blogger URL to a Custom Domain URL

5)  Copy the domain url, go back to the blogger dashboard, and paste the domain url in the box.   
(If there is a / at the end, remove it)
Easy Instructions for How to Change a Blogger URL to a Custom Domain URL

6)  Click Save - This will auto-populate the information you need for the next step.
Easy Instructions for How to Change a Blogger URL to a Custom Domain URL

7)  Copy the destination ( and Go Back to the Namecheap Dashboard.  Paste in the CNAME record value box replacing ""  Make sure the www is in the Host section  

8)  Click "add a new record" and select to add another CNAME Record (See Screenshot Below)  

9)  Paste the second line of letters and numbers in the appropriate CNAME boxes  

Easy Instructions for How to Change a Blogger URL to a Custom Domain URL

10)  Click all of the check marks - they will disappear and little trash cans will appear 

11)  Go back to the Blogspot dashboard and click Save.   (If it doesn't save right away, wait 15 - 20 min and try again.   One of my blogs took about  15 min for the DNS settings to activate so I could save it.) 

12)  Once saved, confirm the new domain url is working by viewing your actual blogLook at the address to confirm url change.
Easy Instructions for How to Change a Blogger URL to a Custom Domain URL

13)  One last VERY IMPORTANT STEP!   

On the Blogger dashboard, under Settings > Basic, click the "edit" link beside the new url and check the box beside "Redirect 'YourSiteName'.com to www.'YourSiteName'.com.    This ensures that the www.  is not required in the url to find your site.   (This may also take a few minutes before it will allow you to save it)  

Easy Instructions with photos for changing a blogger url to a custom domain url

You are done, so go Celebrate!!!

You may also enjoy seeing our new Quick View Home Page here on Review This!  This page features articles you may have previously missed, while also providing excellent examples of the types of reviews published on our site.  

I will be sharing instructions on how to create your own Quick View Home Page for your blog soon.

Quick View Home Page on Blogger


How to Change a Blogger URL to a Custom Domain URL written by:
House of Sylvestermouse

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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