Sunday, July 31, 2016

We'll Build This Love From the Ground Up - The Perfect Wedding Song by Dan + Shay

Find 'From The Ground Up' Plus Over 40 Additional
First Dance Wedding Songs Here
You're Getting Married Congratulations!

Your love is long standing, almost nostalgic, and trying to find a song that fits the two of you isn't easy. I'll bet you've long since figured this out.

Have you spent hours on end listening to every single word of too many wedding love songs already? Don't worry, we've all done it. Every relationship is unique, and the words we dance to represent part of the promise we're making to each other ___ which is why we're all so picky.

From the Ground Up by Dan + Shay - Is This You?

The song is sung from a man's point of view, and all that he'll be and do for his bride.

Grandma and Grandpa set the example of a life that held strong through decades of change, chance and choice. They've set the stage, and showed you what happens when love is built from the ground up.

It's not just a memory, it's not just 'I Do'. It's a commitment, a promise that the wedding day is one piece of the foundation you're building together. You're making this promise for a lifetime.

You'll build your own family and you'll stand beside each other through all of life's trials and smiles.

When you look at grandma and grandpa, you both understand that life goes by in a blink and today's wedding is the celebration of what you know will last til death do you part.

You'll be each others shelter during hard times, and as two old souls you know first hand that love is about being there for better or worse.  Your very clear about one thing; the path of grace is found on the road of love.

When your own decades have passed and it's your turn to sit in grandma and grandpa's chairs, you'll hold each others hands, watching your grandchildren make that same promise you're making today - a love built from the ground up.
"Just take my hand and I'll be the man your dad hoped I'd be" (lyrics)

The only way through life is to live it with love, compassion, promise and kindness. You both know this already, that's why you're perfect for each other. The depth of this song says it well.

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 30, 2016

Reviewing Reusable Foldable Shopping Bags

Reusable, foldable shopping bags
Foldable Shopping Tote
Have you seen the range of reusable foldable shopping bags that you can get?   I used to have a cute black nylon fold up shopping bag that I absolutely loved, it lived in my handbag ready to be used if I saw something I just had to buy.

Unfortunately my little bag got lost when I was on holiday which means I'm looking for a new one.

I am amazed at the range that are available in an array of different colors as well as a few different styles - my mother even has one of the cute reusable shopping bags that are shaped as a strawberry!

I'm looking to replace my original which was a foldable nylon shopping bag - the nylon bag was very sturdy and perfect for impulsive purchases.   The bag not only folded up, but it also had a zip which meant that it looked like a zipped up wallet in your bag when not being used.

Why Do You Need Reusable Foldable Shopping Bags?

I'll answer that question with another question - do you know why there's more jellyfish around these days?   I see so many of them floating around in the sea near me and I hear about more people being stung by them around the world.   Jellyfish have very few predators and it's main one is the sea turtle who's numbers are in decline around the world and one of the reasons for this is plastic bags.

As a community we humans send so much plastic into our waterways as rubbish that we should hardly be surprised that it is messing up our marine life.   Plastic bags in particular can look very much like jellyfish to a poor unsuspecting turtle - but I won't go on as we're supposed to be talking about shopping bags!

Now nylon isn't the most environmentally friendly material to make a bag out off, but having one of these bags and reusing it time and time again over a period of years is definitely better than using several different plastic bags every week and then throwing them away.

Foldable Nylon Shopping Bags - Part of My 2 Pronged Attack on the Plastic Bag Army!

These bags are part of a two pronged attack on the use of plastic bags in my household.   Now I'm not perfect I do use plastic bags sometimes, but I also take steps to reduce how often I use them.   Step one is my little foldable shopping bag for impulsive buys.   Step two is reusable canvas bags - I keep a few in the boot of my car as well as the boot of my husband's car for when we do the grocery shopping.

This is the closest foldable shopping bag that I can find to my original, it's made from a nylon polyester which I'm sure will mean it'll last the years that my first foldable shopping bag did.   A tote style of bag it comes in a pack of two - blue and gray.   This means that I'll have a back up which is always a great idea.

Reusable Grocery Shopping Tote
Reusable Grocery Shopping Tote from Amazon

The other thing I love about these foldable shopping totes is that they can also be zipped up - again like my original bag.

So let me ask you a question - what are you doing to stem the tide of plastic bags marching towards our waterways?   Make a small step in the right direction by getting yourself a foldable shopping bag to pop into your purse when you go out.

Foldable, reusable nylon shopping totes for your shopping needs.

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 29, 2016

Star Trek Beyond - Review of a Fantastic Movie

Star Trek fans will love this new Star Trek movie!  I know I did.  

Star Trek Beyond
It has taken me a while to adjust to the new Captain Kirk, Spock, Scotty, Chekov, Sulu and Uhura, but this movie somehow firmly set these actors in my mind as the new generation of beloved characters.  

As for Dr. McCoy, I love Karl Urban in that role!  I am so very glad Karl decided to stick with Star Trek instead of accepting a contract for a different movie that conflicted time-wise with Star Trek Beyond.  He is perfect for the role of Dr. McCoy in looks and ability to pull off the sarcastic wit of Dr. Leonard McCoy.  All of the actors are fantastic, but this new generation of the Star Trek crew would not be complete without Karl Urban.

This is a totally awesome Star Trek movie that Star Trek fans will not want to miss.  Trust me!  I understand loyalty to the original cast members, but this really is a great movie and these actors breath new life into our beloved Star Trek.
Star Trek characters

The Plot of Star Trek Beyond

star trek beyond
The plot may actually have had a lot to do with solidifying these actors in my mind as the Star Trek main characters.  It was a new plot, but a very familiar theme.  It reminded me a lot of those original weekly Star Trek TV shows of my youth.  

When a beautiful female stranger, Kalara, begs for help to rescue her captured crew, our gallant Enterprise crew of heroes answer the call and bravely go forth to fight this unknown enemy.  As the Enterprise approaches the planet Altamid, they are attacked by hundreds of swarming small ships under the command of Krall.  I call it a swarm because it resembled a bee or hornet attack.  The massive swarm of little ships targeted the entire surface of the Enterprise.  They swept in fast and with so many areas under attack at once, the Enterprise was completely defenseless.  It was actually rather awful to watch the Enterprise be destroyed.  

At one point, the swarm was commanded to sever the neck.  I had never thought about the Enterprise having a "neck" until the swarm attacked and did exactly as commanded.  They literally severed the power and propulsion units from the primary hull and bridge (the area that resembles a saucer).  Crew members scattered to pods in an effort to escape, but they were quickly captured by the enemy.

star trek enterprise

Spock and Dr. McCoy evaded capture and landed on the planets surface.  It was a good thing Dr. McCoy was there, because Spock was injured and needed immediate medical attention.  

Captain Kirk, Chekov and their new "friend" Kalara also land safely on the planet.  Since they had so quickly come under attack, Captain Kirk suspects they were lead by Kalara into Krall's ambush.

Not to far away, good ole Scotty has landed and soon makes a new friend when she saves his life.  Jaylah is fantastic!  I absolutely love her "face paint".  Not only is her makeup truly awesome, she herself proves to be a competent warrior.  

Jaylah takes Scotty to her home, which happens to be an old, lost Starfleet ship, the USS Franklin.  

Now!  I have set the stage and given you a small taste of what this movie is about.  There really is quite a bit more that you will not want to miss.

Once you have seen Star Trek Beyond, I would love for you to come back and share your opinion below.  As I have said, this movie made a difference in my own opinion of the new generation of the Star Trek crew.  I would love to know what you think!

Star Trek Beyond Movie Reviewed 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.”

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Review of a Day at City Museum in St. Louis

City Museum in St. Louis photo by mbgphoto
City Museum St. Louis

Unique Museum

Imagine an interactive museum built in an old shoe factory and made up of reclaimed building materials.  That is exactly what acclaimed artist, Bob Cassilly, did when he developed City Museum in St. Louis.  City Museum in St. Louis opened in 1997 in the former International Shoe Company building.

In the museum you will find reclaimed building materials such as chimneys, salvaged bridges, construction cranes, lots of interesting tiles and even two abandoned planes.  There is also architectural salvage from some wonderful old buildings from the early 1900's in St. Louis.  All of this is put together in an amazing maze of wonder and delight for children and adults alike.  In the museum every inch seems to be used.  There are tunnels between walls and under exhibits.  There is so much to explore both inside and outside the museum.  Even the roof is put to use.

On a hot July day I took two of my granddaughters, my sister, and her two great nephews to explore the museum.  The kids ranged in ages from 5 to 12 and there was something for everyone.  I'm not much for climbing and tunnels but I loved taking photographs and I will share our adventure with you on this page.

Outside Adventure

The outside is a maze of wire tunnels, slides, and lots of places to climb.  Here are a few of our photos taken in the outside museum area.  You could even climb up into this old airplane.
Outside the City Museum in St. Louis photo by mbgphoto

City Museum in St. Louis photo by mbgphoto
City Museum in St. Louis photo by mbgphoto

photo by mbgphoto

Inside the 600,000 Square Feet Building

The inside is full of surprises at every turn.  The kids really enjoyed all the slides and tunnels.  On one of the upper floors is a huge area set aside for toddlers under 6 and there is a small train ride they can take around the area. One of the slides was 3 stories tall and others were shorter but made of different shapes.  On one floor there was a restaurant and lots of unique old signs.
photo by mbgphoto

Sign City Museum in St. Louis photo by mbgphoto

photo by mbgphoto

Architectural Features 

I found many of the old architectural features fascinating.  There were signs near many of the items telling what old buildings they were taken from.  A good part of one of the floors was full of these old features.  They were a photographer's delight!  I understand this area can also be rented for wedding receptions and corporate events.

City Museum in St. Louis photo by mbgphoto

City Museum in St. Louis photo by mbgphoto

City Museum in St. Louis photo by mbgphoto

Our Exploring Crew

Here is our group for the day.  Back row my granddaughter Rachel, my sister Julie, and granddaughter Ella.  Front row great nephews, Nathaniel and Alex.  They are standing in part of an old train. We  spent about 5 1/2 hours in the museum and the kids probably would have stayed longer.  It was a fun filled day.  In addition to all the climbing and sliding they tried some old time pin ball machines and went to a short old time circus performance.
photo by mbgphoto

Visiting the Museum

The museum is located at 750 N 16th Street in downtown St. Louis.  For more information you may cal 314-231-2489 or check out

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 27, 2016

Review of The Time of Grace Series by Alicia Ruggieri

It Is Always Time for God's Grace

The Time of Grace Christian romance series is different than most I've read. Its overall theme is that God himself is the great lover of the men and women who live their lives from day to day. The secondary theme is the difference Christians can make in the lives of those who live in despair because they have not experienced God's grace and have no hope.

Review of The Time of Grace Series by Alicia Ruggieri
Image Courtesy of

Not Your Typical Christian Romance

Most Christian romances I read have two main characters who fall in love but encounter obstacles on the path to marriage. These are often due to a misunderstanding on the part of one or both of the characters. Maybe they overheard some gossip they accepted as fact, or saw something that was different than it appeared to be. The main action in these romances is getting the two people together and married so they can live happily ever after. We don't usually see what comes after.

The three books in the Time of Grace Series are not like that. The main character, Jesus, is never seen except in the lives of his people and their efforts to reach out to those have not yet accepted his free gift of grace and salvation. We see God dealing with the main characters as families and as individual members of those families.

The three Christian historical romance novels in this series are set during the depression years in Rhode Island. Book 1, The Fragrance of Geraniums, begins in 1934. In it we first meet fifteen-year-old Grace Picoletti, as she auditions for the school chorus, humiliated because the rubber band holding the sole of her saddle shoe has burst, and her shoe is flapping. Her family is destitute. We also meet her teacher, Mr. Kinner, who is conducting the auditions. He and his wife, Emmeline live in a lovely home and Emmeline grows geraniums from hanging pots on her porch. Grace looks forward to seeing the beauty of these red geraniums every day as she comes home from school. We also meet Paulie Giorgi, one of Grace's classmates, son of a prominent doctor. 

Review of The Time of Grace Series by Alicia Ruggieri
Photo in Public Domain Courtesy of Pixabay

The Families

The Picoletti Family

The Picoletti family is destitute. Grace's mother Sarah lives in despair. Her husband Charlie is unfaithful and abusive. As the book opens Grace's oldest brother Ben makes a surprise visit. He tells Grace their father is planning to bring his latest mistress home to live on a cottage on their property. He reveals he has fought with his father about this and has just punched Charlie out because of it. He tells Grace he has to leave again.

The other four children are minor characters in the book. Sarah finally sends her favorite, Evelyn, to live with her wealthier sister so she can have a better life. Grace's two older sisters leave home to get jobs and live on their own to get away from the violence. Then they get married and we don't see much of them after that. Cliff, the younger brother, is out of control and often gets into trouble.

Review of The Time of Grace Series by Alicia Ruggieri
Photo in Public Domain Courtesy of Pixabay
The author focuses mostly on Sarah and Grace, both of whom have little hope. There is not enough to eat, Charlie publicly humiliates them with his blatant infidelity, and they can't afford decent clothes or shoes. Sarah has let herself go physically, since Charlie pays little attention to her anymore except to demand she cook, clean, and take care of his laundry – or else. The family is Catholic, but they don't connect what happens in church to their daily lives. They have no notion of a God that loves them personally. They have no hope of improving their lives. 

Grace is highly intelligent, but Sarah is expecting another baby and insists Grace will need to quit school to help her. The baby is born 85% of the way through the book, and Emmeline, who has become a friend to Sarah, stays to help her. Charlie shows no interest in the baby and wants no part of him. This crushes Sarah.

Charlie's mistress Gertrude leaves him and takes everything of value that was in the room they shared. Charlie goes to town, gets drunk, and is killed in an accident. He leaves Sarah no source of income and much debt, since he has not paid the bills or the mortgage in months and the bank is about to take the house. She sees no solution except to move in with her brother in New Jersey, taking Cliff and Grace, and leaving friends and her grown children behind.

The Kinner Family

Geoff and Emmeline Kinner attend the First Baptist Church. They are a middle class family and economically well off enough to share what they have with others. They are kind to all. Geoff is Grace and Paulie's teacher, is truly interested in his students, and prays for them.

To outsiders, Geoff and Emmeline appear to have an ideal life. But they want to start a family, and Emmeline has never been able to carry a child to full term. At the beginning of this book she has told her husband she is four months pregnant, and they are ecstatic, since Emmeline has never carried a baby this long. But when Emmeline sees the doctor the next day, he dashes her hopes and tells her she probably will lose this baby, too.

The Giorgi Family

Review of The Time of Grace Series by Alicia Ruggieri
Photo Courtesy of Pixabay

Doctor Samuel Giorgi and his son Paulie, seventeen, live in a mansion with a staff of servants. Samuel's wife, Julie, Paulie's mother, died of an aneurysm six years ago, and Samuel and Paulie miss her terribly. They also attend First Baptist Church.

After Julie's death, Samuel hired Mrs. McCusker as a house keeper to run his household and help out with Paulie. Sam is a prominent obstetrician who often has to leave to deliver babies at all hours of the night. In the last chapters of The Fragrance of Geraniums we learn that Samuel had once been engaged to Sarah before he left for college. His family had disapproved of her, and said if he married they would not pay for his education. He had intended to get get through medical school and then come back and marry her. She had felt betrayed because he had chosen his education over her, and had married Charlie. Sam later met Julie and fell in love with and married her.

Three Books, One Story

After reading what's above, you can probably guess a lot of the plot. Paulie and Grace are classmates and fall in love despite their different economic classes. Emmeline and Grace become friends, and through that relationship Emmeline also meets Sarah and reaches out to her. When Charlie badly burns his face badly in the last quarter of the book, he comes to Sarah for help. She sends Grace to get the regular doctor, but he's away at a conference. They can't afford the hospital or an ambulance, and even though Grace is trying to avoid Paulie, she sees no option but to run to his house to see if his father will come.

Mrs McCusker answers the door and says the doctor cannot be disturbed, but Paulie hears the conversation and gets his dad. Mrs. McCusker treats Grace shabbily. Sam and Paulie drive Grace home. As Sam treats Charlie, Sarah is holding his head. Sam and Sarah recognize each other. She did not know he had returned.

By the end of the first book, Grace has finally understood that Jesus does love her and has given her life to him. Sarah has been listening at home in her darkest hours to a Protestant radio station, mostly for the music. What she hears conflicts with much she has believed as a Catholic, but she wants to believe that Jesus loves her and can change her. She just isn’t sure how to approach him. Emmeline has shared her faith and how Jesus helps her through her grief over the loss of her child. 

The book ends with Charlie's funeral. All three families are there. We have seen God's answer to the prayers of Emmeline and Geoff.  The reader is left hanging as to what will happen to the Picoletti family. Will Sam and Sarah renew their relationship now that Charlie is dead? Do Grace and Paulie have a future together? Those questions are answered in the last two books, which I had to purchase because I couldn't stop reading until I reached the last page of the last book.

The Books' Themes

Several themes play out in this series. First is God's unconditional love. This theme pervades all the others. Christians need, by God's grace, to forgive those who hurt them physically and emotionally, in order to be whole themselves.

Love is sacrificial. This theme comes to a climax near the end of the last book. God's love is redemptive. Sam shows us this in the last book very vividly.

God's love persistent. Both Paulie and Sam persist in reaching out to members of the Picoletti family even when their efforts are rejected.

God seeks and saves those who are lost in despair and bitterness. He uses his people to help, as he used Sam, Paulie, and Emmeline in this book. They prayed, and they shared their faith, but first they listened and helped physically with unspoken needs.

An example: Emmeline initiated a relationship with Grace just because she knew Grace always paused at her house to look at something on the way home from school. She used that knowledge to reach out to Grace and get acquainted. She suspected Grace didn't get enough to eat, so she made sure there were fresh cookies and milk whenever Grace visited. She suspected that Grace was ashamed of her home so she invited Grace and Paulie to have their tutoring sessions at her kitchen table, along with refreshments.

The author shows that only people who get their sense of worth from the knowledge that God loves them are secure enough to be who they really are. Since they know God accepts them, they do not need to live for the approval of or fear the judgment of others.

A good part of The Fragrance of Geraniums consists of passages from the Bible that the characters share with each other or encounter in radio or church sermons. This might be a bit much for some people, but each passage is relevant to the themes. The characters share their reactions, not always positive, to these passages.

My Opinion of the Series

Overall, the series held my interest because from the beginning I cared about the characters. I empathized with Sarah and Grace. I wanted Paulie and Grace to straighten out their friendship when it became strained. I wanted Sarah and Grace to experience the grace of God. And I wanted Ben to surrender his bitterness and false pride and answer the nudging of the Holy Spirit. I wanted to see how God would accomplish his plan in each life.

I felt there were some weaknesses that we see in many Christian novels. Although there was a lot of showing in the lives of the characters, there might have been a bit too much telling. It was preachy. Sam and Paulie were so godly they were unrealistic. I loved them, but they were almost too Christlike. They were both very good at turning the other cheek and praying for those who hurt them when most people would at least say something hurtful back and ask forgiveness later. They did sometimes have thoughts that weren't loving, but they hardly ever gave voice to them. I can't think of one example where they really lost it, even though they were tempted.

The author was good at foreshadowing future events. She dropped enough clues to enable the reader to predict why there was a problem between Grace and Paulie in the last book. To say anymore would be a spoiler.

The relationship between Paulie and Sam was one any father would envy. It contrasted with the terrible relationship between Ben and his father Charlie. Emmeline and Geoff showed Grace that all men were not like her father and that a marriage could be healthy and loving.

Unlike most romances, the books in this series are serious and deal with heavy subjects like abuse, bereavement, and rebellion. The marriages are not always the “live happily ever after” kind – even when the man and wife are Christians. Even forgiven sins have consequences that make life hard. God works his plan out even in these marriages that aren't ideal. The main love is between God and the characters, and until they are rightly related to him, the human love affairs don't go very smoothly.

As you read the looks, you may find yourself grappling with issues instead of escaping into a pleasant world with a happy wedding at the end. There are plenty of dark valleys to walk through before you see a rainbow. It's still a journey I'm glad I took -- realistic or not. Book 1, The Fragrance of Geraniums, is free for your Kindle as I  write this. I hope it will hook you and that you will want to read the other  two books, as I did. I would suggest you get all three books at once. Just click on the book covers above.

Review of The Time of Grace Series by Alicia Ruggieri

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 26, 2016

Reviewing Polident Denture Cleanser

Effervescent Cleanser For Dentures 

Public Domain Image From Wikimedia Commons
If you are new to denture wear, as I am; you may be wondering about the need to use an effervescent cleanser for your new teeth. Today, I will review my choice for a cleanser and give you the reasons why I chose this particular brand. 

First of all, the cleanser that you use on your dentures needs to be non-abrasive. Regular toothpaste would be too harsh and scratch your denture and would not necessarily clean them as well as you would hope. 

Using an effervescent cleanser once per day will clean your denture of any odor causing bacteria and remove any stains from foods or liquids that you might have consumed during the day.  

Since there is more than one brand on the market, which one should you choose? It all boils down to preference, I guess. I chose to use Polident because I was familiar with it. My Mom used this brand for as long as I can remember. She wore dentures for 40 or more years before she passed several years ago. I figured, why try to re-invent the wheel when I knew Mom had much success with this brand. 

I chose the 3 minute tablet due to it's quick results. The box says that for better stain removal that you can leave your denture in for 5 minutes or longer. I do leave mine in the fizzing solution for 5 minutes each night. Dentures are porous so it is important to make sure the solution has time to remove the stains. My main concern for staining is the coffee I drink during any given day. So, far the Polident is keeping my nice new teeth pretty and white.

I, also, really liked getting a box with 96 tablets in it because that is going to last me for a little over 3 months. There are two other strengths of cleanser by Polident; one is an overnight solution and the other is made for smokers. I like that people have options from the same brand.

For me, the choice seemed simple. I chose to use the brand that I knew worked well because I saw it in action for over 4 decades. You should also know that I use a special toothpaste for dentures after meals and a special toothbrush specifically designed for dentures. In the near future, I will review your options for those products.

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, July 25, 2016

DeWalt Cordless 20V Drill Review for Beginners

My compost bin frame in process
I do not have much DIY experience. I have zero woodworking experience.  I certainly have not used power tools as an adult - before now. It would seem that I am not the best candidate for writing a review about a cordless power tool. On the other hand, perhaps I am the best reviewer of tools for DIY beginners.  If you are anxious about your first power tool purchase, be confident that the DeWalt Cordless 20v Max Drill Driver Kit is an excellent choice.

Why I Needed to Purchase Tools

I have purchased a small piece of land with a very rustic hunting "cabin" in West Virginia - affectionately referred to as The Shack.  I plan to live up there at some point.  In the meantime, I want to learn to be as self-sufficient as possible.  Which includes learning to do more than unclog a toilet, replace light bulbs, and change locks on doors. I can paint and I have laid carpet successfully in very small rooms.  But that is the extent of my DIY ability.  But I want to do so much more.

My very first project was building a wooden trellis (with much help) and tearing it back down for transport. The plan was to install the trellis on my own.  So far, digging the holes in my yard has me stymied and that project is on hold.

My second project, which I have successfully finished, is a small wooden and wire compost bin.  I purchased the DeWalt Cordless 20v Drill for this project. I had dire misgivings about purchasing a cordless. And I made a beginner mistake that made me think my review of this item would be negative.  However, it ended up that this drill works GREAT. I found that once I fixed my mistake, this drill is reliable.  I am so glad I purchased it.

My Dad - The Roofer and Builder

My dad owned his own roofing and pole barn business.  He also built our barn.  I was young, but I helped with both building our barn and occasionally with his business during the summer.  I held boards, carried shingles, and pounded nails occasionally.  But I did not handle the power tools.

This feels like a million years ago. But I clearly remember the portable generator and the corded saws and tools.  Surely, I can build things now.  It's in my should come naturally, right? No. Not so much.

Shopping for Power Tools

How overwhelming, shopping for power tools when you have no experience.  I very much wanted to follow in my father's footsteps with the generator and the corded tools.  However, generators are expensive.  They also weigh a good bit.  Depending on which one I purchased, I wouldn't be able to haul it up in the back of my Jeep Wrangler.  I also noted that tools don't "feel" like they did all those years ago.  Due to being much lighter and made with more plastic components they feel cheap and chintzy.

I felt like I "gave in" and purchased a cordless drill. After much window shopping, I chose the DeWalt Cordless 20v Max Drill with the lithium ion battery. Although, at the time of purchase, I felt little to no confidence about a "power tool" that was battery operated.  I intentionally saved my receipt so I could return the drill after it failed.

My DeWalt Cordless 20v Max Drill and Driver 

My drill came with a bag, two batteries, the charger, and the drill.  I purchased a set of drill bits separately.  Once I was no longer hesitant, the drill worked great for pre-drilling holes and screwing in screws. It was powerful and I could easily adjust the speed. Changing bits was exceedingly easy.  The light feature was very helpful as I was working inside my shack with little natural light in the area I was working. The bag was perfect to make sure I had everything together in order to carry it back and forth between the apartment and The Shack.

DeWalt cordless 20v max drill and driver kit

Initially, I thought the fully charged batteries were going dead following just a few holes and screws. I was ready to return it - my biggest concern being realized. Then I realized that the light on the charger lights as though the battery is fully charged when you just lay the battery onto the charger - as I was doing.  However, and this is very important, the battery must click onto the charger in order to charge properly. I feel silly admitting that I hadn't known that but am sharing the information to make sure the next beginner understands that.

That one slight user error was the only thing that has given me pause about this wonderful cordless drill.  The price was great. The drill has plenty of oompf. Figuring out the settings was easy for even a rank beginning like me.

And with the help of my drill (and a DeWalt cordless 20v Max saw) I was able to successfully build my first item - a wooden and wire compost bin.  

For DIY beginners as well as those of you who understand the meaning of volts, RPMs, 3 speed transmission, ratcheting chuck, and carbide insert may be interested in this video provided by DeWalt.  

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 24, 2016

5 Personal Choice Country Songs that are Easy to Sing

Read about More Songs at The Heart of Country Music
Review Your Own Talent...Did you sing any Songs?
How did you do, were they easy?
This list is purely based on personal choice, so you may not find these songs the ones you would choose!

Just wanted to give you a heads up in case you're gasping in shock at what I've deemed 'easier'.
Let's face it, if in your own opinion you can't sing, there isn't a country song that can fix that. But, if you like to hum a country tune for fun, give these a try :)

I've selected the song videos with lyrics so you can have your own private karaoke session right here while you're reading.

Don't be shy either; If you haven't heard the song before, listen to it once, then on the second run through, sing along and judge for yourself.

Stay by Sugarland - A Beautiful, Heartbreaking Song - Jennifer Nettles Singing, with Kristian Bush on Guitar

A Song About Infidelity - In the Key of A & uses the Chords D,A,Em,G,F#m, and Bm

There's just Jennifer and the guitar in this song, and it's spectacular. 

If the song is in your key, with only a guitar, you may find it an easier song to sing. Apparently, Kristian Bush' brother is playing the Organ as well, but I have to be honest, I hadn't noticed that. If an acoustic song is your thing, be sure to try this one out.

Jennifer Nettles wrote Stay completely on her own. She tells the full story of how the song came to be on CMT (Country Music Television). She explains how she wanted to write a song from the perspective of the mistress versus the traditional position of the wife being cheated on.
In 2009 Stay Won the Grammy for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal, and Best Country Song

Stay was released as the fourth single on Sugarland's album 'Enjoy the Ride' - The album came out in November 2006, and Stay, was released in September of 2007. The song sold nearly 2,000,000 copies as of April 2013 and was certified Platinum.

The Video for the Song is a very simple presentation of Jennifer singing, however it still earned a number ten spot on CMT's Hundred Greatest Videos.

This Kiss, by Faith Hill - Sing a Happy, Bouncy Country Song!

The Key of E Major - Notes in E Major: A, B, C#/Db, D#/Eb, E, F#/Gb, G#/Ab , and the Chords in E Major: E, F#m, G#m, A, B, C#m, D#dim

What makes this song so much fun to sing is the way the lyrics flow together, especially the chorus where the main words have several syllables: 'it's centrifugal motion, it's perpetual bliss, it's that pivotal moment, it's subliminal'. If you like a bouncy sound with phrasing that alternates quite a bit within a song, then you'll probably enjoy singing this one. The slight changes in pace and the way the words tell a story, makes 'This Kiss' a terrific good mood song to sing!

This Kiss by Faith Hill Became a Very Popular Cross Over Country Hit

It was number one on the US and Canadian Country Charts as well as receiving numerous other accolades from many other countries. It reached number 13 in the UK Singles Chart, 52 on the German Chart, and 4th in Australia.

Crazy, by Patsy Cline is Crazy Good and I'll Venture a Guess that Almost Everyone Who Knows the Song has Tried to Sing It !

Chords in the Key C - With 12 Key Variation

Just adding this song to the page has caused me to start singing it endlessly! For those of us who categorize this song as 'easy to sing' I'll say it's because of it's crisp, clean easy flowing music and lyrics. There aren't too many surprising changes of direction. Although, to really sing the crap out of this, some god given talent comes in handy!

The Story Behind How 'Crazy' Was First Introduced to Patsy Cline, is Fascinating!

Patsy Cline's song, Crazy, was composed by Willie Nelson. She chose the song as the follow up to 'I Fall to Pieces' and the song helped to further propel her cross over fan base.

Apparently Willie Nelson, who was a struggling artist at the time, convinced Patsy's husband, Charlie Dick, to have Patsy listen to the song. Because the demo featured the song by Willie as mostly speaking the lyrics off the beat, Patsy hated the song! However, the song was rearranged as a ballad to become the hit we know today.

The House that Built Me, by Miranda Lambert

The Key of F Major

What I find nice about this song is the slightly lower tones in the verses and the way song peaks higher in the chorus. Sounds typical of most songs but the way this song makes the key changes makes me personally feel comfortable singing it.

The emotion and story attached to it also makes it an easy song to connect to as well. Of course, any song where you have a connection to the lyrics, you're automatically going to sing better. 

This song is about a girl all grown who goes back to her family home, now owned by another family, and asks if she could have one more look around...she says, I won't take nothin' but a memory. If these words reflect your life story, then you'll enjoy putting your heart into this song.

'The House that Built Me' was Planned for Blake Shelton to Record, Until Miranda Lambert Heard it

The song was released in March of 2010 on her third album, Revolution. It turned out to be the fastest rising single to date of her career. By the 12th week of it's release it was Miranda's first number 1 hit on the U.S. Billboard Country Charts. It stayed there for four weeks as well. The song went Platinum.
Miranda Lambert received a Grammy for this song at the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards in 2011 for Best Female Country Vocal Performance for the song.

Temporary Home by Carrie Underwood - A Song with a With a Spiritual Message

In the Key of C Major

What's most beautiful to sing about this song is the message.

It's a passionate song telling a story of difficult plights using showing that each journey is our Temporary Home - A little boy's temporary home in foster care, a mother and child in a temporary home seeking shelter, and the last most powerful verse, a dad on his dying bed in the hospital saying goodbye to his daughter explaining that this was simply his temporary home. 

If you're looking for a song, and feel comfortable singing in the key of C major, then you'll find this one a beautiful song to try.

Carrie Underwood was Inspired by the Book 'The Purpose Driven Life' by Pastor Rick Warren - In the book he states, our human existence is simply 'our temporary home'

The song was released in December of 2009 and was the Second Single from her Third Album, 'Play On'.
Carrie Underwood is a spiritual person and her heart is poured into this song with tremendous emotion.The song manages to avoid being preachy by showing people's tough life circumstances in a way that ultimately leads to hope, no matter the struggle.

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 23, 2016

The Chocolate Days of July in Review

Image of chocolate candy
Source: Pixabay

The month of July is a chocolate lovers paradise. There are two official chocolate-related days to celebrate.

July 7th is the official Chocolate Day. No one knows the origin of this day, but we wouldn't be surprised if it was created by chocolate confectioners! 

It's a day to enjoy your favorite chocolate all day long.

  • Breakfast could be chocolate cereal or chocolate cream-filled donuts washed down with a little hot chocolate. If you would rather be a bit healthier, but still have your chocolate, check out Buckhawk's Chocolate Smoothies
  • Enjoy a mid-morning snack of a chocolate candy bar.
  • How about a glass of chocolate milk with your lunch.
  • Then you could eat healthy (?) and have chocolate covered raisins for your afternoon snack. This contains both vegetable and fruit. Chocolate is a vegetable. It comes from the Cacao tree found in tropical rain forests. True fact! 

Chocolate covered strawberries
Chocolate Covered Fruit (Source: Pixabay)

For more fruit and chocolate recipes, check out these delicious looking chocolate covered treats by Sylvestermouse, found on her Cooking for the Holidays Site:

  • Dinner would be delicious with chocolate flavored coffee.  Dessert could be your choice of chocolate cake or pie, or chocolate ice cream if you prefer.
Brenda Little (Treasures By Brenda) brings us a special chocolate cake recipe which includes MY favorite chocolate dessert - chocolate pudding.  Check out her Chocolate Pudding Cake recipe for a mouth-watering dessert.

More Chocolate Days

If you missed Chocolate Day on July 7th, never fear.  Another chocolate holiday happens on July 28 - National Milk Chocolate Day. This is not an official holiday, but it is a favorite chocolate of millions of people and is enjoyed in candies and in baking.

Many more chocolate holidays occur throughout the year, including the whole month of February, which is known as National Chocolate Lovers Month.  For a list of more chocolatey holidays, check out the chocolate section on the blog article by Wednesday Elf about National Candy Month.

                                        Happy Chocolate Days!

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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