Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Gloria Vanderbilt Jeans for Pear-Shaped Women: A Review

Gloria Vanderbilt Jeans Fit My Pear Shape

Believe me, when your waist and hip are the same size, it's hard to find jeans that fit. Often the inseam is too long. And I like to have my waist where it belongs naturally. None of those tummy-revealing low waists appeal to me. I  have too much tummy to reveal. 

Gloria Vanderbilt Jeans for Pear-Shaped Women: A Review
Gloria Vanderbilt Amanda Heritage Fit with Tapered Leg and Classic Rise, © B. Radisavljevic  

I took a chance on a recent visit to Costco and bought a pair of the Gloria Vanderbilt Penelope Convertible Cargo jeans I saw there. I knew I'd be making the trip again in a week and could return them if necessary. But they fit and I decided to keep them and look for more. When I returned a week later I found more Gloria Vanderbilt jeans in different styles. 

I bought two pair of the Amanda Heritage Fit with Tapered Leg, and Classic Rise.  They had stretch fabric to accommodate me as my weight fluctuates.  They have a classic fly front with a button at the top of the zipper. They also have belt loops for when you want to tuck in a shirt. They are also handy if you lose a bit at the waist and need help holding your pants up. 

What I Like About the Amanda Heritage Fit with Tapered Leg, and Classic Rise.

It fits my pear-shaped figure. Funny how the perfect figure I had when young turned pear-shaped by the time I hit sixty. My waistline seemed to disappear, but most jeans manufacturers seem to think one's waist should be smaller than one's hips. For me, that was no longer the case. When I tried the Amanda jeans on, they weren't too tight around the middle and they stayed up. The belt helped, but I could get along without it when my shirt was untucked, my preferred way to wear a shirt.

I also liked that I had no trouble buttoning the button above the zipper. I did not even have to hold my breath. The jeans stretched just enough to keep me comfortable. I even wore these while eating Thanksgiving dinner and the jeans did not get too tight.

Gloria Vanderbilt Jeans for Pear-Shaped Women: A Review
Gloria Vanderbilt Amanda Jeans with Shirt Untucked, © B. Radisavljevic 

To Belt, or Not to Belt

In most of these pictures I'm wearing a belt, since the jeans do have belt loops. I don't really like wearing belts, which is why I normally buy pull-on pants. I actually hadn't worn a belt in so long that I had forgotten where I'd put them. I finally found the two I had bought a couple of years ago to fit my growing waist line.

When I first  wore these jeans around the house for a few hours and then to the gym, I was wearing the belt. I decided not to take it on our trip to Madera to have Thanksgiving with the family, since I was planning to  wear my shirt untucked. The car trip was about seven hours round trip with about three pit stops each way. We  were at my nephew's house in Madera for about five hours. I would have been better off to bring the belt, since after several hours wear, the jeans were beginning to droop a bit at the waist.

Do you need a new belt for your current size? Here are some suggestions to go with jeans. I think I'm going to get that invisible belt that easily fits under even a fitted shirt. It not only doesn't show, but it also stretches to fit any size I happen to be. The leather belts are perfect for when I want a belt to show. I'm wearing a belt in most of the photos here.

Gloria Vanderbilt Jeans for Pear-Shaped Women: A Review
Wearing Jeans with Belt, © B. Radisavljevic 

Gloria Vanderbilt Jeans for Pear-Shaped Women: A Review
Back View of Gloria Vanderbilt Amanda Jeans, © B. Radisavljevic 
The Amanda style is available in many colors and sizes. I liked that I could get the short size with an inseam that fits me. The jeans also come in  average, tall, petite, and plus sizes. I bought the burgundy color I'm wearing in these photos, and also a pair of gray jeans.

My Gloria Vanderbilt Penelope Convertible Cargo Jeans 

These were the first pair I bought to see if the Gloria Vanderbilt jeans were sized right for me. They fit perfectly. They have two side pockets on the front, two buttoned pockets in back, and a buttoned pocket on each leg. There is another button on each leg to adjust the convertible roll cuff hem. The legs are loose and comfortable. These are great for hiking. Like the Amanda style, they have belt loops, and close in front with a button and zipper. You can see the Penelope in the photo below, along with the other styles. 

My Amanda Classic Fit Denim Jeans

These are still Amanda jeans, but they have a sleeker look than the Heritage Fit. Both have the waist where it naturally should be. The Classic Fit Denim jeans look just a tad dressier. This pair is just as comfortable as the other two styles. The reason I don't have photos of me modeling them is that I think Hubby was tired of taking the pictures. You can see this best-selling style below with the pictures of the other jeans. It's the left one in the top row.   

Where to Buy These Jeans

You may get lucky and find these locally like I did, but you may find that style, size, and color choices are limited. Online stores are likely to have a better selection. You can click any of the pictures above to check out the availability of your chosen styles and colors at Amazon. There is also a great selection of the Amanda jeans at eBay you may want to check out.

There's only one thing I did not like about my jeans. They had way too many tags and labels to remove. Most came off easily, but not this one. It was firmly stuck and only came off piece by piece. But don't let label removal discourage you. They probably stick those babies on to make life a bit harder for shoplifters.

jeans with hard to remove label
Long Label Was Hard to Remove. © B. Radisavljevic 

Isn't it time to buy a new pair of jeans? 

Gloria Vanderbilt Jeans for Pear-Shaped Women: A Review


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, November 29, 2016

Stuffed Elephant Toy Reviewed

 For A Child Who Loves Elephants

herd of elephants
African Elephants from
Today, I am reviewing a stuffed elephant toy that I want to get for my 5 year old granddaughter. This post will be more than just about a toy, though. Last spring my granddaughter and her Mom visited Disney World where she learned of the plight of our elephants. Bless her little heart she took the information quite seriously and has vowed to save the elephants! 

She is so serious about it that she wants to create a vlog to get the word out to everyone she can. When asked what her goal was she said, "I want all of the children to know about the killing of the elephants because if we don't do something my kids won't have any elephants." Did I mention that she is 5 years old? She and her Mommy figured out that with 35,000 elephants killed each year that by the time she is 19 there will be no more elephants in the wild. I know that I am her Grandmother and a little biased but I think this is pretty impressive for one so young. 

So, I am doing what I can to help her learn about elephants by giving her books and films about real elephants. I also want her to be able to cuddle with an elephant and that is why I came up with the idea to get her a stuffed one. 

I have always been fond of the Jellycat line of stuffed toys so I immediately searched for one from that company. 

I know from having purchased stuffed animals made by this UK firm before that they are made with care and are quite durable. I think she will like this one because it sort of resembles the African elephant with the large ears. He looks so sweet and soft and I am curious to hear what she names him. There is no doubt in my mind that he will have center stage on her bed!

I want to applaud Disney for educating children not just about elephants but about our environment as a whole. They do quite an impressive job as witnessed by how much they affected my granddaughter. This child has taken all of this to heart and can quote so many statistics about elephants that it would blow your mind. She can look at a picture and tell you whether the elephant is from Africa or Asia. She can tell you why elephants are so important to the eco system. Her passion for this project not only touches my soul but makes me want to help her.

I knew that poaching elephants for their tusks was a horrible problem but hadn't really given it too much thought other than to think what an awful situation. Now, that my little granddaughter has decided that she can save them; I have learned so much more. Most of the information is brought to me from the mouth of a 5 year old who has the determination of a 35 year old!

I keep thinking that on a trip where you would think that a 5 year old would come back with tales of the Princesses, the rides, and the characters of Disney that what she came away with was the desire to save the elephants. As I said, I am biased but she is one very incredible child! She is already showing us that she will be a leader of some sort. She will not just sit by and let things happen; she will be an activist when it comes to changing things for the better.

Perhaps you could help her and the elephants by teaching your children and grandchildren about elephants.

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, November 28, 2016

Butterfly Christmas Tree Ornaments - A Beautiful Holiday Theme

butterfly ornaments christmas tree
Butterfly Christmas Ornament Photo by Louanne Cox
of  Lous
Have you ever heard of butterfly Christmas tree ornaments? I had never thought of adding butterflies onto my Christmas tree until recently when I saw this tree (pictured) decorated in a local store with it's large silver butterfly ornaments on it.

This year we've been treated to record numbers of Caper White butterflies in our garden along with the usual Common Crow, Orchard Swallowtail and just a couple of Monarchs so I'm very pro-butterflies at the moment!

There's just something magical about butterflies and the way they flit around, there's also something magical about Christmas which means they're a perfect fit!

There are lots of different types of butterfly Xmas ornaments around so I've just selected a few that I like the look of to share with you and think about how to incorporate them on your Christmas tree.  Let's review some of the gorgeous ornaments I've found including glass ornaments, silver ornaments and bright ornaments....

Glass Butterfly Christmas Ornaments

I love this glass butterfly ornament for a couple of reasons (besides the fact that it's gorgeous that is!), one is that it can be personalized which means it can be used to commemorate an occasion/person or be used as a gift idea.

The second reason is that it's clear so you can use it with any color scheme on your tree and it will reflect the other decorations beautifully. This ornament is definitely on my short list for adding these gorgeous creatures to my tree for the holidays.

I also like the idea of getting a set of butterfly Christmas ornaments and I thought this next set of three was absolutely gorgeous.   My daughter would have found them very pretty when she was younger (as a teen I'm not sure what her thoughts would be now!)

glass butterfly christmas ornaments

Set of 3 Colorful Glass Butterfly Christmas OrnamentsSet of 3 Colorful Glass Butterfly Christmas Ornaments
Each of these gorgeous ornaments has hand painted detail on them and also come with a silver cord for hanging.

Reading through the reviews it sounds as though these ornaments are a nice weight for hanging on the tree which is really good. I definitely think these make my short list for butterfly Christmas ornaments, now I just have to convince my hubby that I need even more ornaments for our trees.

One of the happy customers also mentioned adding this set of butterflies to a set of hummingbird Christmas ornaments to pop on their tree which has me thinking 'ooh hummingbirds'! I do think that these ornaments would look great with any bird ornaments, but they would also look good as a change from the 'standard' bauble style ornament as well.

Silver Butterfly Christmas Ornaments

Adding Sparkle to Your Holidays!

As it was a silver looking (although not genuine silver) ornament that first made me aware of butterfly Christmas tree ornaments I just had to include some here and there are certainly a lot to choose from starting with this following set found on Amazon.....

set of silver butterfly Christmas ornaments
Set of silver butterfly Christmas ornaments

It doesn't tell me what these ornaments are made of, but looking at them I think they look very lightweight and certainly not a really high quality ornament (although I could be wrong),  I do like this set of 6 though because it looks very similar to the large ornament I saw in the store I mentioned.

I could see these ornaments shining on my white Christmas tree with my 'vintage colors' bauble style ornaments that I purchased earlier in the year.   These are dusky muted pinks, muted golds, very pale blue colored ball ornaments.  They are remarkably similar in color to the other ornaments used on the tree I featured in the introduction image.

Another idea of silver butterfly ornaments are the range of filigree ones that are available like this in loving memory one -

So do you think you'll be hanging a few butterflies on your Christmas tree this year?  I'm hooked on the idea, I just have to get it past hubby as he does think I have too many Christmas ornaments (I didn't realize that too many existed!)

How to Showcase Your Butterfly Christmas Ornaments

The best way to showcase your butterfly ornaments really depends on which ornament you choose and how many.   Since I've been looking for some of these ornaments I've come across a few different images including a tree that was heavily laden with butterfly ornaments (and no other type) in lots of bright colors.

A combination of butterfly and floral ornaments on your tree will help to give a feel of spring to your Christmas tree which will make it unique.

Although I'm thinking of adding any I buy to a white tree, I do think a green tree would best suit butterfly ornaments.   Having said that silver butterflies on a black tree would look very dramatic.

Let me know how you think butterfly ornaments should be showcased on a Christmas tree.

Before we go though let me share a few gorgeous butterfly ornaments that I've found on Etsy (I do love that site, but my savings account doesn't!)

Oh, I so NEED a third Christmas tree!  You can find me indulging in my love of Christmas ornaments at Christmas Tree Ideas.

Butterfly Christmas tree ornaments

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, November 27, 2016

Furniture That Doubles for You and Your Pet

Furniture That Doubles for You and Your Pet

Did You Know You Can Find Furniture that Doubles as Home Decor for You and Provides a Space for Your Pet?

Living space is at a premium today, particularly in urban centers.

For example, at the time of writing, the average price of a 1 bedroom apartment under 700 square feet of living space in New York City is generally over $3000 per month.

Indeed, those living in apartments struggle to allocate space for their pets. We're in a good-sized home and struggled to find practical room for our doggie without compromising our home's overall decor.

Check Out This Aquarium Coffee Table

For those who are sticklers about flow and decorating coordination, some furniture items double as a space for pets and serve a purpose for our own use.

An Aquarium Coffee Table:

Well, aren't these cool! When you visit this product's link above, you'll notice they come in coffee or end table designs.

You can use an end-table fish tank on either side of a bed or couch or use the coffee table design in a central room. Granted, these items can be pricey. However, they're meant to solve space issues, create interest, and house our fishy pets.

The lovely added benefit of a coffee table fish tank is the beautiful relaxing water and ambient lighting they provide. Essentially, they're a constant night light.

They work for residential properties and are an excellent idea for business foyers or as added interest and decor in an elaborate office.

End Tables that Double as Beds for Cats or Dogs:

This is a fantastic solution when finding a bed space for your fur baby is an issue.

Checkout This Coffee Table Pet House

When your home doesn't practically allow for your pet's bed, coffee table pet cubbies solve the problem.

Many of us who have or have had pets know they often sleep under the table, and most certainly, YOU CAN create your own pet bed directly under any open table.

However, if you need an enclosed space for your pet with a door, there are several lovely coffee table pet designs

If you have dog cages in your home to house your pet for a few hours while you're out or at bedtime, you know only too well how these items can disrupt the overall look of a room.

That's where lovely coffee table cages provide the perfect solution: They'll blend with your room's design and give your pet a beautiful dog/cat house.

There are always solutions for creative space management - Check out these additional ways you can maximize space for just about anything in the home:

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, November 26, 2016

A Review of Sports-Related Soft Toys for Tiny Tots

Plush throw pillows in a sports theme
Plush Sports Throw Pillows

Is dad or big brother or sister a sports fan, or does your family participate in sports?  The littlest family members love to imitate and these sports-related soft toys are just the thing for little brother/baby sister to feel a part of the sports world the rest of the family enjoys.

When a new baby is born, how many times have you heard the new dad say "I'm going to get him a bat and ball and teach him baseball" (or football or basketball).   Or the big brother who plays soccer has a little brother or sister who wants to play too.  

The regular sized sports equipment is too big for little ones to use.  And babies & toddlers need toys that are soft for safety. The sports toy suggestions presented here are just the thing for the smallest family members.

Sports-Related Soft Toys for Tiny Tots

First Sports Bag

This 5-piece playset is recommended for ages 6 months to 5 years

It's never too early to start practicing to be an all-star! Perfect for one of baby's first toys and other younger siblings who want to imitate the big brother or sister who is into ball sports! 

This soft-sided bag includes a soft baseball that crinkles, a basketball that rattles, a soccer ball that boings, and a football that squeaks.   The balls all fit inside a colorful bag complete with touch and close fasteners for secure storage.

Baby Gund My First Sports Bag is a fun stuffed sports-related toy for babies and toddlers.

My First Golf Bag


my first golf bagA Sporty Plush Playset for ages one month to 5 years

The next pro golfer in your family can start to practice at an early age with this four-piece playset that has a soft 6" golf bag with touch and close fastener, a plush golf club, a tee and a ball that rattles.

Made by Gund, My First Golf Bag Playset is just what your junior duffer needs to score a (mini) hole-in-one.

First Tackle Box

first tackle box
This plush tackle box toy is recommended for children from 6 months to 5 years

Is grandpa or dad a fisherman?  Kids want to watch when grandpa is tying flies for his fly fishing trip or dad is checking out his tacklebox for a fishing day at the lake.  Give your toddler his very own tackle box that is soft and safe for him to play with while you are working with yours. 

This plush toy tackle box is just the right size for the youngest anglers, measuring about 7" long and 4" high. It also has a handle for carrying around.

Three soft play pieces come with the tackle box and fit inside.  There is a cute plush worm that crinkles, a little blue fish that squeaks, and, of course, a fishing pole.  The fishing pole has a red bobber that has a touch & grab white ring which makes it easy for baby to 'catch' the fish! 

First Tackle Box is a GUND plush playset for the smallest 'anglers'.

Soft Toys by GUND and Melissa & Doug

All three of the soft playsets with a sports theme shown here are made by Gund, a company that has been known as the 'World's Most Huggable' since 1898. For more than a century, GUND has been creating unique teddy bears and other soft toys recognized the world over for their quality and innovation.

The plush basketball, baseball, soccer ball and football shown in the opening photo are sports throw pillows by Melissa & Doug, a well-known company of quality products since their beginning in 1988. Decorate a child's bedroom with these sports pillows, or toss them around as soft ball toys.

It's Holiday Shopping Time!

For more toy suggestions for the children on your shopping list, check out the items in the 'Holiday Gift Guide: Online Shopping Directory' from our Review This! contributors. 

(c) Wednesday Elf 11/26/2016

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, November 25, 2016

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review

Whether you are a Harry Potter fan or not, most of us can easily enjoy the movie "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them".  As a animal enthusiast, I was instantly enchanted by the Fantastic Beasts!  I wanted a pair of each one and I suspect everyone in the theater felt exactly the same way.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review

If you are a Harry Potter fan, you will already be familiar with terms like "muggle" and "Magizoology".   But, even if you have never been exposed to Harry Potter, you would quickly figure out their definitions.  I know this with certainty because a member of our group had never seen a Harry Potter movie, nor had he ever read any of the books.  I asked him if that was a problem for him and he said, "Not at all!  You don't have to be familiar with Harry Potter to recognize the face of evil".  He went on to say, "this movie can stand on it own merit."  That is actually very important to note.  The movie can and does appeal to even non 'Harry Potter' fans.   

The movie really gets started with a platypus or echidna looking creature called a Niffler that fancies sparkly things.  An adorable little thief if ever I saw one.
A note of interest for animal lovers:  The platypus and the echidna are both members of the same mammal subclass called monotremes.

*Please read my caution for children

"Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" Movie Plot

 Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find ThemUnlike the Harry Potter movies, "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" is not based on a published book.  It is a screenplay based on a text book that was written by a fictional character in the Harry Potter books.  In the Harry Potter books, the Magizoologist (magical beast zoologist), Newt Scamander, is the expert on magical beasts and the writer of the textbook "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them".  The textbook, Newt Scamander, magizoologist, and the Fantastic beasts are all imaginary creations straight from the mind of J. K. Rowling, the very real author of the Harry Potter books.  She simply wrote the screenplay to expand on a character, Newt Scamander, that was not fully developed in the Harry Potter books.   

In the movie, Newt Scamander, the author of the book, "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them", arrives in New York with only a small suitcase in hand.  That suitcase is actually a portal into his world of Fantastic Beasts.  It is also the creatures way into the human world.

When the Niffler escapes the suitcase, the excitement begins as Newt tries to track the little bandit.  His path crosses with Jacob Kowalski who happens to be carrying an identical suitcase.  The suitcases are accidentally swapped and Jacob gets the surprise of his life when he gets back home and opens the one he has.  Several fantastic beasts escape into the city.  

As you would expect, Newt has also discovered the mix-up.  However, Newt himself has attracted the attention of an Auror, a police officer of the wizard world, and she is tracking him because he is an unregistered wizard in the city.  The Auror, Tina, and Newt end up searching for Jacob and the lost animals together.  When they find him, they discover that he has been bitten by one of the Fabulous Beast.  Because they need to keep the muggle, Jacob, under observation to know if he will have a reaction, the 3 end up going to Tina's apartment for the night.  It is there that the guys meet Tina's sister, Queenie.

After they have retired for the night, Newt takes Jacob into the world of Fabulous Beasts via the suitcase portal.  It is here that we, the audience, also meet these magnificent magical creatures.

Even though Newt and his Fabulous Beasts are not responsible for the evil in the city, they are brought into the battle between the dark wizard, Gellert Grindelwald, and the Magical Congress of the United States of America when Newt is falsely accused of being Grindelwald's ally.

Aside from telling you a few of my favorite things about the movie, this is where I am going to stop because I really don't want to spoil anything for anyone.

My favorite Fantastic Beast is actually the Thunderbird.  Such a magnificent, powerful yet gentle, bird. As the name implies, this Fantastic Beast is a catalyst of thunder, lightning and rain. He also warns of impending immanent danger. I do so love a creature that warns us to get prepared.

My favorite movie quote from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is "worrying only makes you suffer twice."

My favorite character was a real surprise to me!  When I heard that Johnny Depp was in the movie, I expected it to be his character.  However, as I left the theater, I realized that my favorite character was actually Jacob.  Funny!  It was a movie full of wizards, yet it was the muggle that I admired the most.

One interesting note, Jacob is a baker.  Once you have seen the movie, you will want to look at these Fantastic Beast Biscuits!  Years before the movie, Elynmac shared these Dragon Biscuits with the online world.

Elynmac's Dragon Bisquits
Elynmac's Dragon Biscuits - Simply Click Here to See Her Featured Biscuits


Is "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" for Children?

I have no doubt this is a question that will be debated for many years to come.  However, I am going to step out with a personal opinion.  I do not think the movie "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" is a movie that would be appropriate for any child under 12.  

I don't offer that opinion lightly.  I think all children of any age would love the beasts and be fascinated by the fantastical animals.  My concern would not be with the animals, but with the violence in the movie.  There are several murders in this movie and they are somewhat jarring and unexpected.  

If I err, I would err to the side of caution, especially with the minds of precious children.  They will see enough violence in their lifetimes without having to endure it in the form of entertainment at an early age.

When you see the movie, do come back and tell me your favorites!  I would love to hear them.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review 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.”

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving from the Staff of Review This

Thanksgiving postcard photo by mbgphoto

Happy Thanksgiving 
from the staff of
Review This

Today we celebrate Thanksgiving in the USA.  On behalf of the Review This staff, i would like to take this time to thank our readers.  We truly appreciate your support and wish you all a blessed holiday season filled with love and joy.

fall leaf photo by mbgphoto
Fall in Missouri

fall leaves photo by mbgphoto

fall leaves photo by mbgphoto

fall leaves on the tree photo by mbgphoto

fall leaves photo by mbgphoto

red leafed tree photo by mbgphoto

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, November 23, 2016

Ma, He Sold Me for a Few Cigarettes ~ A Book Review

Ma, He Sold Me for a Few Cigarettes Book cover
This book came into my hands quite by accident!  We (the grandpa and I) had been babysitting our lovely little ones for the weekend.  My son an avid reader left for the weekend with the heads-up that there was a pile of books on his desk and to help myself.

Ma, He Sold Me for a Few Cigarettes, by Martha Long would not have been a book that I would have purchased for myself. I am more of a mystery book, suspense book reader.  But the title of this particular book intrigued me.  It is an autobiography, one that is very difficult to read, both for the content and the language idioms it is written in.

The Authors note inside the front cover sealed the deal.  She writes, "This is a true story of my early childhood.  Originally, I did not write it for publication.  Instead, my intention was to rid myself  of the voice of the little girl I had once been."

So what made me pick up this book from the stack of many others?

All I can say is I picked it up, read the Acknowledgements and moved onto the Author's Note.  It was that note quoted above that sealed the deal.  I knew I was going to read it and see where it took me.

Written in the vernacular language of the Irish slums, it really is hard to get used to the cadence of the writing. But and this is a big BUT, it is a necessary evil along with all the swearing and blunt realities of this child's world.

An In-depth Look at "Ma, He Sold Me for a Few Cigarettes" 

There are parts of this book that will make you laugh and parts that will make you cry. The realities are something that we (middle-class people) would have a hard time wrapping our heads around.  What is evident is the character strength of this young girl.  Her mother (I give her that title only because she bore Martha) is a young girl herself, who hasn't fully developed her own character or had much opportunity to develop her mind.  She is at the whim of any man who will pay her some attention.  She is a teen with a baby.  Her family can't help her and she can't seem to help herself.  Her own self-worth seems to be wrapped up and dependent on having a man in her life.  Any man will do, she's not fussy. Before long she has two children and hooks up with yet another man, who preys on her and her children.   She finds herself pregnant again, Martha is only 5 years old and already taking care of her brother and more. "Jackster" the "father-figure" and I use that term very loosely too, beats up on the mom and Martha.  He is a drunkard, down on his "luck" and totally abusive when life doesn't go according to his plan.

This story is one that will leave you shaking your head at the brutality and yet admiring the strength of character in this little girl. Things go from bad to worse, she's angry with God, she's angry with her mom, she's angry with Jackster.  She is very angry at the whole world.  Yet through all this anger, she comes to be the strongest one.  She sees with eyes that are so much more mature than her years.

This book is a reality I had known nothing about and had a hard time understanding.  I was fortunate to grow up in a country that made it easy for my parents to look after us.  There were jobs and work for anyone who wanted to earn their way through life. There was also a moral compass, there were lines that would not be crossed.  Not so much in Martha's life, with poverty and no drive to make life better, the moral compass goes out the window.  Anything and everything in life is negotiable, for a few slices of bread or a few cigarettes.

So many people today, are still in the midst of the same downward spiral of  what life must have been like for Martha in Ireland.  There are those in places that are being destroyed by factions that want power over the people at any cost.  This book made me pause and think about all the young girls in the world. The girls in Africa and India, where they are married at 7 or 8 years of age.  They will endure the same bonds that held Martha captive for so long. We are not a better world today than the world Martha lived in back in the 50's.

slum city - run down, abandoned apartments
"Slum City" Picture courtesy of

At the end of the day,

I'm really glad that this book grabbed my attention.  It is an emotional rollercoaster ride that will take you out of your comfort zone many times.  Martha Long in trying to get that little girl out of her mind, has opened up a window to a world that I never knew existed.  For that,  I would like to thank her.  I'm sure that it was not an easy book to write and I pray that she has found some peace.  

This book gave me reasons to be Thankful for where I live, for food, friends, and family that protect and hold me dear. It makes me stop and realize that not everyone is so blessed and that I have every need to be totally Thankful for all the blessings I have in my life.

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, November 22, 2016

The Tinkerer's Daughter Book Reviewed

Steampunk Inventions and more to be enjoyed

steampunk drawing
Steampunk drawing from
I just finished reading the first book in a three book series written by Jamie Sedgwick that I found quite enjoyable to read. The first book is called The Tinkerer's Daughter and introduces us to Breeze the main character of the book. I loved the premise of this book that was labeled as a steampunk fantasy book but it turned out to be so much more than that. 

Breeze is unique in her world. She is what we would term as a mixed race child; the difference being that her father was human and her mother was an Elf (called a Tal'mar in her world). I loved that the author touched on the difficulties that any child encounters when they are the result of a match by two people who are from different races, cultures or religions. It isn't always easy for these children. Often, they are not truly accepted by either side of the family. In the case of Breeze, she is looked at as an abomination by both the humans and the Tal'mar. That really isn't fair to any child because honestly, they had no say in the matter of being born. 

We first meet Breeze as she is being taken to an unknown location by her father. She is only four years old and is confused and instinctively knows that something is not right about this trip. Her father takes her to a valley where an eccentric man lives alone. It turns out to be Tinker's home where he invents all sorts of unusual items including a steam wagon and more. Breeze's father leaves her with Tinker as he departs to report back to the war. The war of over 1,000 years  is between the humans and the Tal'mar. What Breeze doesn't understand is that her father feels she will be safest with Tinker; all she knows is that she feels abandoned. 

As Breeze grows, she and Tinker become as close as father and daughter. She learns so much from the brilliant loner who accepted her into his home. He introduces her to all sorts of interesting theories and concepts that he makes into reality.

I don't want to go too far into the plot of this book because I hate for stories to be ruined by spoilers. What I will tell you is that I loved the character of Breeze and of Tinker. I remember when my girls were small; I wanted to instill in them that they should never feel at a disadvantage because they happened to be born a female. My oldest daughter had a poster in her room for years that was of Smurfette and it said: "Girls can do anything." I tried to never miss an opportunity to remind both girls of this truism...they could do anything that they set their minds to. The author has Breeze grow up with that same promise with a bit of a twist. Not only could she accomplish things that weren't necessarily done by other females but also she could do things that she wasn't supposed to be able to do with her mixed races.

I enjoyed this book enough that I have now begun to read the second book in the series. I applaud the author for coming up with a story that is slightly different and that has a main character that is an intelligent, capable and lovable female. I like that he touches on the ugliness of bigotry and how sometimes someone special comes along to change the racist thoughts of the masses. The ending of the first book was really touching and I love who he insinuates Tinker really is.  

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, November 21, 2016

3 Classic Movies for the Thanksgiving Season

In the United States, Thanksgiving is about giving thanks for the things we appreciate. It also typically includes traveling long distances, large family gatherings, a feast, and televisions tuned to football games. Thanksgiving can be a hectic time of year. It is good to find time to relax during the down time between traveling, visiting, eating, shopping, and watching sporting events. Whether you are taking a break from the hustle and bustle, or just enjoying a long weekend, relaxing with a classic movie is a wonderful choice. These 3 movies are my favorites for lounging around and relaxing during this season.

 The Wizard of Oz 

The Wizard of Oz is a classic and has been shown on television nearly every year since the 1950s. While it has been televised at different times of the year, I get the urge to watch Dorothy find her way home every year around Thanksgiving. 

Dorothy and her dog Toto are whisked away by a violent tornado. They land in unfamiliar territory and embark on a sometimes frightening adventure in which the value of friendships and the threats of foes are the themes that are explored.  In this new land they find the help (and hindrance) of strangers along the way. 

While "home" is not perfect for most of us, there is some truth in the message that "there's no place like home" and the love that can be found there. And there's not much that is more soothing that caring, familiar faces surrounding us.

The Wizard of Oz

The Other Sister

The Other Sister is one of my favorite movies, ever. I am listing it here because it takes place around Thanksgiving but more importantly, because it reminds me of the important of love, independence, and being grateful for others - despite their perceived weaknesses. This movie is about acceptance, love, and family.

Carla Tate (Juliette Lewis) returns home after an extended stay in an out-of-home placement, a place where people are trained to address her special needs.  She returns sometimes misguided, but loving, family as a young adult. 

We watch this family try to both take care of Carla while helping her become independent.  Inevitably, conflict arises as some family members are more willing than others to let her spread her wings. Carla meets Danny (Giovanni Ribisi) and they traverse the bumpy road of falling in love. 

This movie has made me laugh and cry, as well as feel like a schmuck for not experiencing life more fully and being more thankful for the small moments in life. 

The cast is amazing - Juliette Lewis, Giovanni Ribisi, Diane Keaton, Tom Skerritt are the main four characters and in my opinion they give amazing performances. The other characters are believable and memorable.

The Other Sister

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles 

Perhaps Planes, Trains, and Automobiles is not a classic movie by definition, but the struggles related to holiday travel, especially toward the snow-prone areas of our country, is a classic theme. Blizzards, cancelled flights, and finding alternative modes of travel are problematic, but throw in to the mix a traveling buddy that makes you absolutely crazy, and we have fun entertainment (as long as we are only the viewers and not the participants!)

Neal Page (Steve Martin) just wants to get home to his family in Chicago for Thanksgiving but his flight is cancelled. He is faced with dilemma after dilemma; one of the dilemmas is being paired up with a travel companion who is his polar opposite. Del Griffith (John Candy) is a goodhearted but highly annoying travel buddy. If you've ever traveled and experienced tantrum-inducing delays and cancellations due to weather, this movie may be fun to see.  A word of caution though: there is one brief scene that includes an adult tantrum with many adult words i.e. f-bombs.

The comedy of Steve Martin and John Candy with the topic of the travel stress of the holidays is a great combination.  

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

These three movies are the three that I think of when I think of the Thanksgiving season. I also think of Charlie Brown's Thanksgiving and I am aware that many people think of Miracle on 34th Street since it's story line spans from Thanksgiving to Christmas. 

For an in-depth and loving review of Miracle on 34th Street, be sure to see the post from our own Susan. Believe it or not, I've never seen the movie. But I'll be sure to watch this year, after reading her review.

Does your family have any movie traditions? Are there any movies you make sure to see during this time of year? 

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, November 20, 2016

A Song for People Enduring Cancer

Brett Kissel, I Didn't Fall in Love with Your Hair
and More Here
'I Didn't Fall in Love With Your Hair' by Canadian Country Music Artist Brett Kissel & Featuring Carolyn Dawn Johnson

Written by Rachel Bradshaw, Kyle Jacobs and Billy Montana, this moving song was released in September 2016 for Cancer Awareness month with proceeds donated to the cause between the dates September 9th and October 28th 2016.

Philanthropist W. Brett Wilson, also played a role by matching the amounts earned and donating those funds to the Canadian Cancer Society.

Like most songs do for the artist, it struck a personal chord for Brett Kissel; his mom has battled cancer.

Why This Song Says So Much

Battling cancer certainly goes deeper than potentially losing our hair. However, when the news hits us that we could be facing this horrendous fight, some of us think of this superficial thing...our hair.

After first hearing this song blaring from the radio in my kitchen, the lyrics stopped me in my tracks. Listening to every word, the tears flowed.

The song speaks to the love of one soul for another; it reminds us what true love means and that our body really is our temporary home. The cliche 'beautiful on the inside' has greater meaning when you process these lyrics.

Love is an unseen force, yet the most powerful in the world.

How do we know we are loved by another?

We know because we feel this invisible energy. The feeling of love resonates in this gorgeous song. 'He didn't fall in love with her hair' - he fell in love with her soul, her being - This untouchable force survives all things tangible.

We are reminded that our love for each other cannot be measured by something physical, like our hair or our body shape. Love is a connection that survives the seen. This intangible force captures our spirit, and in doing so, gives us the secret to life.

We are all here perfecting that secret. 

Love is where we find the light and it's the only road that takes us home. Get out the tissues as you listen to this song.

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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