Sunday, December 31, 2017

Loading 2018 - Happy New Years Eve from ReviewThis

May you face 2018 with an unstoppable, focussed and determined attitude that brings you peace, success, and a ton of love.

As you celebrate, stay safe .... oh, and don't forget to keep climbing!


For a little motivation, listen to Rascal Flatt's 'Unstoppable' - And Remember it's Winter Olympic Season coming up, so whether you're watching the Olympics or participating, go for your dreams this year!


(Lyrics)
"You find your faith has been lost and shaken
You take back what's been taken
Get on your knees and dig down deep
You can do what you think is impossible
Keep on believing, don't give in
It'll come and make you whole again
It always will, it always does
Love is unstoppable"


Read More: Unstoppable by Rascal Flatts - And don't let anyone ever stop you from reaching your potential!



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Saturday, December 30, 2017

Her Fearful Symmetry - A Book Review

Click image to purchase book
I think I must be the last person on earth who has yet to read The Time Traveller's Wife (or to see the movie), but I did know the author was Audrey Niffenegger so when I saw another of her books I thought I'd have a read.   I'm very glad I did!

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger is unlike any other book I've read, it's not a can't put it up kind of book, but it's nonetheless a really good read and very thought provoking.

Have you ever wondered whether ghosts have to learn to be ghosts?   Funnily enough that idea was written so well that it just made sense to me.

The teaser to the book that I read said.....

Take mirror twins, a man with OCD and a ghost and what do you get?
I'm not sure what it was about that statement but I was sold.  The mirror twins in question are Valentina and Julia Poole, the ghost is the twin's estranged aunt who they haven't seen since they were babies and the man with OCD is an upstairs neighbor of their aunt.

A Riveting Tale of Obsession & Love

A Review of Her Fearful Symmetry, Don't Worry There's No Spoilers!


Her Fearful Symmetry is all about obsession, love and the urge to control.  Audrey Niffenegger's  novel begins with one of the central characters dying. This in itself is nothing new, but what is new in this novel is that this particular character 'stars' as a ghost.

Following on from her hugely successful debut novel - The Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger stays in the realm of the supernatural with this ghost story. The main character is a ghost who has been estranged from her twin sister for years and decides to leave her flat and money to her twin nieces who she has only met once when they were babies.

Now nothing is ever that straight forward in books so of course this inheritance comes with a clause - the twins, Julia and Valentina Poole must live in her flat for a year. The flat in question borders on a famous London cemetery - Highgate Cemetery.

While she was researching this book Audrey Niffenegger actually worked as a volunteer at London's famous Highgate Cemetery and a great facet to this book is the little snippets of trivia about the cemetery that she sprinkles throughout the book.

There are some complex emotions in the book and it poses some interesting questions such as - do ghosts really have to learn to be ghosts? An incident that occurs later in the book can really give you goosebumps and wondering if that sort of thing could really happen!




In all this was an interesting book and I enjoyed it, but I was rather deflated with the ending. There was a perfect place for the book to end, but when the story continued I felt I wasn't satisfied because I then wanted to know what else happened.

Would I read it again?  Absolutely, because I am sure that I would 'discover' more things that I had missed on my first reading.

Would I recommend starting it knowing that you don't have time to finish it in one sitting?  Yes, it was one that I definitely wanted to finish, but it was a book that I put up a couple of times to go and do things.......things that I could probably have postponed if I'd been reading a real 'can't put down' book.



Now I know that sometimes the last thing you want to read is a thought provoking suspense book, we had days when we just want to curl up with some historical romance or a cozy mystery etc.  Well don't worry we have reviewed countless books in different genres so please check them out - our book reviews.


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Friday, December 29, 2017

Wooden Puzzle Compartment Boxes by Kalotart on Etsy Reviewed

The Biggest Hit in Our Home on Christmas!

 Wooden Puzzle Compartment Boxes by Kalotart on Etsy
Each year, I try to find a unique surprise gift for our children for Christmas.  They make a wish-list for me which helps tremendously in gift selection, but I still enjoy giving that unexpected gift that will hopefully light their eyes with excitement.  The surprise gift choice I made this year may very well be the best I have ever selected.  I gave each of them a Wooden Puzzle Compartment Box made by Kalotart on Esty.

I admit, the challenge to find a worthy surprise gift gets harder every year now that our children are both grown, especially since our daughter is married.  That means instead of two, I try to find something all 3 kids will enjoy.  

How I Found the Wooden Puzzle Compartment Boxes by Kalotart on Esty


Wooden Puzzle Compartment Boxes by Kalotart on Etsy
I shop year round for Christmas.  You see, my Christmas gift to myself and to my husband is that Christmas is paid for before Dec. 25th each year.  Neither of us like debt and we wouldn't be able to enjoy Christmas at all if we felt the heavy burden of debt waiting for us on Dec. 26th.  Therefore, when I made the surprise gift selection for our children back in July, it was not unusual.  But, it was hard for me to wait until Christmas to give it to them.

One of my favorite online sites is Etsy.  I started my search for a unique gift there and found the Wooden Puzzle Boxes by Kalotart.  When I read about László 'Kossuth' Antal, maker of the boxes, my decision was made!   There is something very special about knowing he makes the boxes based on a design by his great-great-grandfather.   A family tradition of beautiful craftsmanship!

However, even I must admit, I didn't realize how fabulous my choice was until Christmas morning.


Giving the Gift of Wooden Puzzle Boxes by Kalotart

Wooden Puzzle Compartment Boxes by Kalotart on Etsy
Our daughter spent this Christmas with her inlaws, so we Skyped each other and opened our gifts together.  I had shipped her box to them in advance with instructions to not open it until we were connected on Skype.  I handed our son his package to open once we were all seated and ready to rip of the wrapping paper.  The boxes were an instant hit because of their visual outward beauty.  Anyone would appreciate the lovely colors and designs.  

I selected a white box for our daughter & son-in-law, and a green box for our son.  I laughed because they each thought their box was the prettiest.  First score for Mom!  I chose the right color for each child.  

I wrote a note on the top of each box that told them they had to discover how to open the puzzle box in order to discover the surprise inside.  They immediately started investigating their boxes.  I offered hints, but they all replied with an emphatic "no!"  I honestly had no idea that our son-in-law loved puzzles too, but he was as invested in discovering the secret way to open the box as either my daughter or my son.

They tilted, turned, inspected, shook, and pushed sections of the box until they each found a solution, but it did take a while and was exactly the level of challenge they all enjoy.    

My parents were here for the Skype / Gift Opening session.  It was truly as much fun for us to watch "the solving game" as it used to be to see their reactions years ago to their gifts from "Santa".

Oh, one more thing!  In case you are wondering who got the third box shown in the intro picture, it was a gift for my parents which they received later on Christmas day.  


How to Purchase Your Own Wooden Puzzle Compartment Boxes by Kalotart on Etsy


The boxes are offered individually or at a reduced price in purchased in lots of 2 or more.  There are several different designs and sizes that are available in a variety of colors.  

The workmanship is beyond outstanding.  These boxes are beautifully carved and tightly assembled with exceptional fittings.  You would never know just looking at the box that it is also a fabulous puzzle with secret compartments inside.






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Wooden Puzzle Compartment Boxes by Kalotart on Etsy Review Written by:
House of Sylvestermouse




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Thursday, December 28, 2017

Review of Cape St. George Lighthouse

Cape St. George Lighthouse
On the beautiful island of St. George, just off the Florida panhandle stands a historic lighthouse.  Cape St. George has been rebuilt 3 times since it was originally built in 1833.  Powerful storms, hurricanes and even the civil war interrupted the light being used to guide ships into the cotton port of Apalachicola. The current lighthouse was completed in December of 2008.  

Visiting Cape St. George

The current lighthouse is reached by traveling a 4.2 mile bridge over to St. George Island.  As you approach the island you can't miss the lighthouse that stands in the center of the island.  On the day that we visited it started raining as we approached the island so we decided to stop for lunch at the Blue Parrot before taking photos of the lighthouse.  We were rewarded for our patience by the lighthouse taking on a beautiful glow after the rain shower and a rainbow appearing near the bottom third of the lighthouse.

Different Perspectives of the Lighthouse

As I have stated in this blog before, I love walking around the area of the lighthouses I photograph to find different perspectives.  The newly washed area from the rain gave me some great material on this visit.  Here are a few of my photographs.




Sea after the Storm





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Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Amazing Things to Do Between Christmas and New Years Day

One of my Favorite times of year is Christmas, but once it's over you can feel let down.  So let's Review Ways to keep that after Christmas Depression at bay!

If your family is anything like mine, the days leading up to Christmas have been full of all kinds of trips, errands to run, parties to attend and a host of other fun and time consuming activities.  Depending on the ages of your children or grandchildren, there will also be more than one Christmas recital to attend as well.
This is not a complaint, but, it is a reality.  We get so wound up with places to go and people to see, that when it stops, we feel lost!  Some of us will only feel that way after the New Year because we are still in the middle of all the partying still.  Others, who do not go "all out" for New Years will feel that way sooner.
The bottom line is, it doesn't have to be this way at all!

Part of your planning for the holidays should include that time between the holidays, so that holiday let down is minimized or completely obliterated.  No one really wants to be depressed at the best time of the year. 
christmas party, depression, let down, emotional times, familySo let's make those plans now!  If the plan is in place,  you will actually follow through.  

So let's get down to some concrete ways to stave off any negative feelings.

First of all, if you have family visiting, make arrangements to go somewhere on an outing.
  • visit the downtown area and look over the lights and Christmas Displays
  • Go sledding or skating, if your body allows that kind of seasonal fun.
  • Make Snow Angels (with the above caveat)
  • Go to a park with a handful of bird seed, for those birds who don't have a feeder close by
  • Pick up some small gift cards for a coffee shop and give them to "Street People" to enjoy
  • Visit a local church and see their Nativity Displays
  • take lots of pictures while out and about
  • when you come home, make some Hot Chocolate and watch a favorite movie
  • Be Thankful for the Blessing of Family and Friends.
Between Christmas and New Years is a great time to make some plans for the next year too!  Many a lively conversation could be had over those plans.  Will you make resolutions for 2018?  Will you decide to travel more or less?  How about making a resolution to get together with friends more often?  It is a great idea to look forward, but also take some time to look back and be thankful for all the good things that happened in the year just past.  

gratitude, family, visits, make plans
When the hustle and bustle has come to a standstill, it's no longer a dreaded fear, rather it's a time to take stock.  Look ahead at what might be coming your way, and look back to see where you have been.  If things weren't the greatest, find ways to make this year to come, better.  If the year past was wonderful all around then celebrate this wholeheartedly, and pray that the year to come will be as blessed as the one just past.  Gratitude for everything is a great way to live.  You don't become nearly as disappointed and you really don't let yourself become engrossed in the things you have no control over either.  

Start taking note of things you are thankful for and try to do something new in the coming year.

If you need help thinking of all the things to be grateful for, there are several different types of journals that can give you some coaching either in pictures or scriptures.  One of my favorites is the one:


If you don't have a gratitude journal, a blank book works well too. Sometimes though in our busy lives, we need a hint of encouragement and for that a true gratitude journal is a bonus. Each page will give you a little inspiration to get you started with the right attitude. If you are not a particularly spiritual person, there are journals that remind you of gratitude without scriptural readings. Whichever one is to your liking, will be a good choice and they are inexpensive.  Maybe Santa brought you one, but if not that's okay too.  You can always get your own when you feel the need for it.  It will be an investment in yourself, for your mental and physical and spiritual well being.

May I take this opportunity to wish you and all your family a most Beautiful, Blessed and Wonderful New Year!
gratitude, holidays, cheer, new year, thankfulness

pictures courtesy of Pixabay.com






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Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Social Media For Writers Reviewed

Authors Need To Market Their Work

writers market
Writer Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
One of the gifts that I just received for Christmas was the book Social Media For Writers. My daughter thought it might be helpful for me to brush up on the skills needed to be successful with the use of Social Media in regards to my marketing strategy in order to sell my books. 

If you are a regular reader of Review This, you are probably aware that I published my first Cozy Mystery novel in October of 2017. Then in November I published my second book in the series. It isn't like in the past when if you were lucky enough to find a publisher for your books who offered you a contract. Back then if you were a writer with a large publishing firm, they did a lot of the marketing for you. A lot of us have gone the self-publishing route which means that all of the marketing is up to us, the author. Even if we had a big name publisher we would need to market our own work. Most publishing companies of today only spend their advertising money on well known authors (who kind of don't need it but that is another topic all together!). 

Those of you who know me probably think that I probably already understand how to use social media because this isn't my first rodeo with a writing gig. I might have published my first fictional work but I've been around the block several times when it comes to promoting my online writing ventures. I do understand the basics of social media and use it regularly but I will admit not to its fullest potential. The game is different for authors in particular and let's face it...the way to use these social networks changes on a regular basis. How many times have you reached a point where you feel that you have figured it all out, to have one or two of the popular sites change the playing field? I'm guessing a lot!

So, I really appreciate my daughter gifting me this book! I'm reminding myself of the basics while being able to come up with a strategy for my writing and promotions.

What I like about this book by Tee Morris and Pip Ballantine is that it is written in an easy to understand format. As I said, I'm not new to social media but even if I were the content would be easy to understand. They do a really good job of explaining how each option works and best practices for a writer to use on each platform. They cover blogging, podcasting, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram. Do they recommend that you try to use all of them? Actually, no. They understand that if one were to try to have a solid presence on all of them; there would be no time for the actual writing of the books. They suggest that you pick the three that you are most comfortable with and go from there.

As I am studying this book, I feel confident with their advice. They are both authors in their own right and I can tell by the content that they actually use social media to promote not just this book but a series of books that they have co-authored together. I don't know about you but for me that is huge. I'm sure that you have experienced the same as I have over the years with getting advice from a so called expert who has less experience than you do when the dust all settles.

I really like that the authors break down the formats and give realistic time frames for using them. Having experience with most of these social media networks, I can tell that they are giving good information on the time that can be invested in working with the different options. They are even honest about having invested a lot of time on a few of them and figuring out that for their needs and their time constraints, it wasn't worth it. That doesn't mean that you will come to the same conclusion because we all have different styles and comfort levels. I do appreciate their honesty in the results for themselves!

Now, I realize that not all of you are planning to write a novel or a work of non-fiction; that being said I do know that many of you have a strong online presence either contributing here on Review This or your own sites. Perhaps you contribute on another multi-user site. My point is that much of the information will be beneficial for your online work as well.

I know in the past, I have tried to have a presence on all of the social media sites. It doesn't take long to get burnt out trying to keep up. Reading a book like Social Media For Writers is helpful in reminding us of what it is we want to accomplish and the audience we are trying to reach. This book gives some realistic advice on coming up with a strategy that is not overwhelming and that with the proper effort put forth should offer a successful result. It is not going to happen overnight but with dedication and a good plan, it can happen.

I am finding this book very helpful and I think that many of you will, also. I know I am changing my strategy after having read it. I am going to concentrate on three platforms and not worry about all of the others. How about you? If you were going to limit your marketing to three platforms, which would you be willing to invest your time in?



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Monday, December 25, 2017

Christmas Wishes

To our readers,

We wish you peace during this holiday season.

We wish you safe travels. 

We wish you warm homes -

And hearts filled with warm experiences.

We wish you contentedness - 

And joyous times with belly laughs.

We wish you good health.

And we wish you the best gift of all - love.


Merry Christmas,


From Dawn Rae 
and the Contributors of Review This!






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Sunday, December 24, 2017

T'WAS the Night Before Christmas

When all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse

Relax and enjoy the Classic 'Twas the Night Before Christmas Cartoon' with the family tonight:



To your family from ReviewThis, ... Merry Christmas to all, and to all a goodnight. <3 




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Saturday, December 23, 2017

Take Out by Margaret Maron – A Book Review

The final book in the Sigrid Harald series.


Available on Amazon
Author Margaret Maron admits in her Author's Note in Take Out that she had not intended to write a final book starring Sigrid Harald.  But.... then there were those pictures left stashed in the basement of the Breul House in Corpus Christmas (Book #6 in this 9 book series) which kept begging to be taken out of that trunk.  And many readers wanted to know if Sigrid would find true peace of mind in the end.  So here is Take Out – the book that wraps up the series.






The Plot


Source: Pixabay
Siqrid Harald is an NYPD Detective who heads up a homicide team.  Still grieving after the death of her lover, an acclaimed painter, she is called to investigate the deaths of two homeless men, found dead on a park bench with take out food boxes nearby.  Analysis proves that the men died from what is discovered to be poisoned takeout food.  The subsequent investigation uncovers a fascinating neighborhood history involving a haughty mafia widow and her disgraced godson (one of the victims), a retired opera star with dark secrets, an unsolved hit-and-run and a long-missing painting that will rock the art world.  

The case gets complicated with too many suspects and motives.  Which of the two homeless men was really the intended victim (since they both ended up sharing the take out meals)?  And what is the connection between the mafia widow and the retired opera star who live on the same block in the West Village, the same block where the homeless men died?

While Sigrid is busy working the murder investigation, she can't stop wondering what led her lover Oscar Nauman to California where he died in an accident on a mountain road.  Until she meets a man who may hold the answers she seeks! 


Sigrid Harald


The main character in Margaret Maron's Sigrid Harold series is a Scandinavian woman who is a Lieutenant with the New York Police Department.  She heads up a homicide team.  Sigrid is related to a character in Maron's Deborah Knott Series* through her Southern grandmother. 

*See more information about Deborah Knott below


Deborah Knott Mystery Series


Source: Pixabay
Margaret Maron's other long-running mystery series is the Deborah Knott Series.  Deborah is a North Carolina District Judge married to a Sheriff's deputy in the small Carolina town her family has lived in for generations.  Deborah, her tobacco farmer (and former bootlegger) father, and her 11 older brothers make up a delightfully full group of stories around a rural lifestyle.  Filled with true Southern charm and sprinkled with mysteries to solve interwoven with the 'doings' of this large extended family, Deborah Knott becomes as fascinating in her small town way as Sigrid Harold is in her big city life. Since Author Margaret Maron is soon to publish her final Deborah Knott book, we will be back with more about the Deborah Knott Mystery Series in another review.


Author Margaret Maron


Source: Wikimedia Commons

Margaret Maron was born and raised in North Carolina on a tobacco farm.  Then marriage to a native New Yorker (Brooklyn) had her spending several years living in NYC, where she eventually began writing novels about NYPD Lt. Sigrid Harald, mysteries set against the New York City art world.

Eventually, the love of her native state and a desire to write from her experiences in the Piedmont area of North Carolina where she grew up led to moving 'home' and the creation of her popular character, District Court Judge Deborah Knott.  Margaret's city-born husband has discovered a similar love for this southern rural lifestyle as well. 


Summary


If you have never read any books by Margaret Maron, give Take Out a try, or begin with the first book in the Sigrid Harold series (One Coffee With) to be introduced to this interesting character.  If you love Maron's style of writing as much as I do, you will want to continue on to the rest of the Sigrid series, and then move over to Deborah Knott and her 'kinfolk' in the current 18-book series.  Along the way you will learn a lot about the NYC art world and the southern lifestyle of rural North Carolina. 


Interesting note: The North Carolina books feel sunny and light while the New York books are darker and less humorous.  Sigrid Harold is a loner, has almost no family (just a mother, a housemate, and a Southern grandmother) while Deborah Knott has a large sprawling family (her dad and 11 older brothers with spouses and children who meddle in her affairs and try to boss her around..  They DO finally meet through their southern connection in Three-Day Town

I loved reading my way through these two series as both characters are worth getting to know, each in their own way.  Meeting the other characters in each series is fun too.

Now that I have read the final book in the Sigrid Harold Series (Take Out reviewed here) I look forward to the final Deborah Knott book. 


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(c) Book Review written by Wednesday Elf




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Friday, December 22, 2017

The Santa Clause Movie Collection Review

The Santa Clause Movie Collection Reviewed
A few days ago, I was looking for a movie to watch so I could take a break from work.  I wanted a movie that would be easy to watch.  Not one that required a lot of thought or emotional investment.   Comedy preferred.  After scrolling past dozens of Christmas movies, my husband recommended "The Santa Clause".   My first reaction was negative simply because I am not really a big Santa fan, however I am a Tim Allen fan.  Since nothing else appealed, I thought why not!  It turned out to be a really good choice and I ended up watching all 3 movies in the Santa Clause collection.  The movies were lighthearted and funny.  Perhaps, even enchanting and magical.  That was the perfect combination for my movie day. 

Tim Allen never ceases to entertain!  I highly recommend spending a day in his company and watching Tim magically become Santa.


Plot of The Santa Clause Movies

Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) is a divorced father who spends most of his life working. He is pressed for time as he is rushing home on Christmas Eve to meet his ex-wife who is dropping their son off to spend the night. As was obviously the norm during their marriage, Scott and his wife's conversation turned into an argument when Scott discovered his ex-wife and husband told his son, Charlie, that Santa was a myth.  He felt that was a decision that he should have been consulted about beforehand and not just informed of after the fact.

 The Santa Clause DVD
(Full Screen Special Edition)
Scott wishes to make his son's Christmas Eve perfect.  He tried to make the perfect dinner, but burned the turkey.  They ended up having to eat dinner at a restaurant.  He read "Twas the Night Before Christmas" to his son, but Charley fall asleep while he was reading, or at least it appeared he was asleep.

After Scott had gone to bed himself, Charley heard a noise on the roof and ran to his father's bedroom.  Scott immediately ran outside without getting dressed to investigate and saw Santa on his roof.  He yelled up at the man on his roof and startled him so bad that Santa fell off and onto the snow covered ground in front of him.  Searching him for identification, Scott found a business card inside the coat that simply identified the man as Santa Claus.

When Charley came running out, he saw the reindeer on the roof and wanted to climb the ladder that mysteriously appeared.  Of course, Scott followed, but he was freezing.  When he looked back at the spot where Santa had landed, the man had disappeared but his clothes were still laying there on the ground.  He grabbed the suit and started up the ladder.

Charley and Scott climbed into the sleigh and at Charley's insistence, Scott put on the Santa outfit.  The reindeer took off!  They delivered gifts miraculously appeared in the Santa bag at each house where the reindeer stopped.  Then, Scott said "let's go home" and the reindeer took them to the North Pole.  It was there that he discovered that by putting on the Santa coat, he had agreed to become Santa as stated on the card inside the Santa suit.  Of course, as with many legally binding contracts, the clause was written so small on the card, that Scott could not read it without a huge magnifying glass.  They were "returned" home the next morning, but Scott immediately started noticing a difference in his appearance.  He gained a lot of weight and even after he had shaved, a beard would immediately start growing back.  He was becoming Santa whether it wanted it or not.

The ending was expected, but still cute.  The story was fun and easy to watch.  When I noted that was a "Santa Clause 2", I wanted to continue watching.

I actually liked the second movie even better.



The Santa Clause 2 Movie Plot


In this movie, Scott, who is now Santa, is informed that he must marry if he wishes to remain Santa Claus.  The story is mostly about him seeking a wife and how he met the woman who would end up becoming Mrs. Claus.  However, my favorite part of this movie had to be Comet, the reindeer.  I also liked that they included a council of other fictional characters like mother nature, father time, the Easter bunny, the tooth fairy, and more.  Those characters made this movie truly delightful.

Between the dialog of the fictional figures, the animated reindeer and Tim Allen, I found myself laughing out loud several times during this movie. Plus, it is truly amazing how much Tim Allen looks like a plump, rosy cheeked Santa.

 Santa Clause 2
(Full Screen Edition)

 



The Santa Clause 3:  The Escape Clause Movie Plot


In this final movie, we are introduced to "Jack Frost" who wants equal status with Santa, mother nature, father time and the rest.  When Frost discovers the secret of the "escape clause" for a serving Santa, he devises a way to trick Santa into returning to his former life so Frost himself can become Santa Claus.

All of these movies were filmed and released over a decade ago, but I just discovered them.  Since I enjoyed watching them so much, I decided the collection should be reviewed and recommended to anyone else who may have missed seeing them in the past.  I can tell you based on my own experience, that even those of us who do not fully embrace Santa Claus, will still enjoy these delightful movies.




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The Santa Clause Movie Collection Review Written by:
House of Sylvestermouse




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Thursday, December 21, 2017

The Mountain Between Us - Book Review

The Mountain Between Us - Book Review
In every life, there are mountains to be crossed.  For some, those mountains are physical.  In other cases, the challenges are emotional or relational.  For Ashley and Ben, in The Mountain Between Us, those mountains come in all three forms.  On the surface, their story appears to be one of wilderness survival, but as we delve deeper, we will see that it is really about crossing over into your own truth after braving the storms of life.

As the story begins, Ashley Knox, a magazine writer, and Ben Payne, a surgeon, are about to be stranded in Salt Lake City as all flights are being shut down by a massive storm system.  Ashley is desperate to get home for her wedding, while Ben has surgeries to perform.  Given the situation, the only option left to them is to charter a private flight around the line of growing storms.  The plan is to fly to Denver while there is still the possibility of making it home.

Mid-flight to Denver, their pilot has a heart attack and makes a crash landing in one of the most remote and rugged areas of the country (the High Uintas Wilderness of Utah).  To make matters worse, a flight plan was not required, so no one knows the whereabouts of these three passengers (or even that Ashley and Ben got on that plane).

Now, with their pilot dead, and Ashley seriously injured, Ben must figure out a way to keep both of them alive.  Stranded at a very high elevation in the midst of winter storms, without food or other necessary provisions, the odds are not good for them to make it.  Without hope of a search and rescue operation, their bleak situation will cause both Ashley and Ben to reflect on the things that matter most in life.  During their odyssey of searching for a way to survive, both will discover what it means to truly live and love.

There are many things I liked about this book.  First, I must admit that I am really into wilderness survival stories.  There is just something about rising up above your circumstances, no matter how bleak, that speaks to me.  Nobody survives a devastating accident without being changed in critical ways.  It is the story of that transformation that greatly appeals to me.  I think, too, that it is impossible not to insert yourself into the situation to reflect on how you would handle things, or be changed by such life-altering circumstances.  One of the things I enjoyed most about the story is how Ben uses the few things available to him in a MacGyver fashion.  It was interesting to see how he came up with creative solutions to daunting challenges.  In a life-or-death situation, I would want Ben Payne by my side.

I appreciate how author Charles Martin tells a story.  He makes me care about his characters and they become real to me.  Though this book has been newly released as a movie, I'm glad I chose to read the book first.  The reviews for The Mountain Between Us, in book form, are much better than those for the movie.  It seems that many moviegoers felt a disconnect between the two leading actors.  That is so different from what you will experience about the connection between Ashley and Ben in the book.  The two become very bonded, though neither character violates any promises made to spouse or fiance during their time together in the wilderness.

This is a good book to read during the holiday season.  It reminds us that love conquers all and that we can each climb and cross any mountain that rises up in our lives.





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Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Reese's Peanut Butter Christmas Trees Review

Source: Wikipedia
We're all familiar with the popular candy Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.  It was one of the confections created by Harry Reese who began his H.B. Reese Candy Company in 1928.  

Reese originally worked at a Hershey dairy farm in Hershey, Pennsylvania. From the very beginning of his candy company he used Hershey's chocolate in his confections. Harry's Peanut Butter Cups became so popular that Reese eventually discontinued his other lines.

Reese died in 1956 and passed the company on to his six sons.  In 1963, the Reese Brothers merged the H.B. Reese Candy Company with the Hershey Chocolate Corporation and by 1969 Reese's Peanut Butter Cups became The Hershey Company's top seller.


Over the years, many variations of these Reese's Peanut Butter Cups have been produced, including different sizes and various chocolates (white, milk chocolate and dark chocolate, etc.).

Holiday editions


I work as a cashier at a retail store and candy is displayed near the cash registers. It wasn't until I noticed the manager opening the latest orders of candy boxes that I discovered that there are holiday-themed candies now on display.  


The one that caught my attention was the Reese's Peanut Butter Christmas Trees ~ Milk Chocolate and peanut butter in evergreen tree shapes.  These are available mainly in November and December for the Christmas season.

Reese's also offers miniature Reese's cups in a Christmas bell shape and a milk chocolate-covered Reese's Snowman, wrapped in a snowman foil. The peanut butter snowman is three times larger than the peanut butter tree.

After doing a bit of research, I've learned that Christmas isn't the only holiday for which Reese's makes the peanut butter cup treats in holiday shapes. Each holiday shape is available for about two months around each holiday. A partial list is shown below: 



  • Reese's Peanut Butter Hearts for Valentine's Day
  • Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs for Easter
  • Reese's Peanut Butter Pumpkins and Ghosts for Halloween
  • Reese's Peanut Butter Trees, Bells and Snowman for Christmas
Available on Amazon
The Reese's Peanut Butter Trees are perfect for stocking stuffers, and any of the Reese's shapes, including the well-known 'cups', are great for holiday snacking.

So indulge your sweet tooth with a Reese's Peanut Butter Christmas Tree treat for the holidays.




(c) Wednesday Elf


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Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Multi Function Pressure Cooker Reviewed

Sometimes You Want To Cook Fast

cooking in pot
Cook It Slow or Fast? Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
I asked Santa Claus to bring me a multi-function pressure cooker for Christmas this year. I sure hope that my name is on his "good list" and that he will consider leaving one under my tree. 

I can remember my grandmother and mother used a pressure cooker often when I was a child. It isn't a tool that I have ever owned but now I think I want one. 

Back when the girls were small and during the time that I worked outside of the home, I had a tendency to use a slow-cooker for many of our meals. It was nice to put it all in the pot and let it cook all day so that we could eat shortly after I got home. I still use the slow-cooker from time to time. 

Now that I am home all of the time, I think that having a pressure cooker would be nice. I will be able to cook healthy meals in much less time. Unlike the versions that my mother and grandmother owned, the new models offer several functions to use depending on what you are cooking. 

I love the versatility of the features in the one pictured above. There are 25 functions available with 12 of them being automatic features. I can set the timer for cooking for as little as 5 minutes or as long as 12 hours which makes it a fast cooker and a slow cooker in one pot. I also love that one of the automatic settings is a reheat. So, when I have leftovers that need to be warmed up, I will no longer have to heat up the oven to get dinner ready. That will save energy and time.

This multi function pressure cooker also comes with its own measuring cup, spatula, steam tray, trivet and recipe book.  Those should come in handy, I think.

I'm really hoping that Santa remembers that I asked him for one of these this year. I told him that of all of the things that I have mentioned as gift ideas, this pressure cooker is the one that I most want. Of course, I am never disappointed with anything that he leaves me under the tree. That jolly old elf always delights me with his choices every year.

How about you? What have you asked Santa for this year?



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Monday, December 18, 2017

KeySmart Compact Key Organizer Review

Organize your keys with the KeySmart on Amazon
KeySmart is an ultra light weight but very durable organization system for keys. Are you tired of that mess of keys on your key chain. And that lump of keys in your pocket or the jumble of keys rattling around in your purse? This may be the perfect solution. Do you know someone whose job requires access to many keys at all times? This would be the perfect gift for that person. 


Vote of Confidence From a KeySmart Owner


Word-of-mouth recommendations are often the best way to gain information. In this case, the best review comes from someone who has owned and used this little gadget. 

I was recently with a friend who had purchased this item for himself over a year ago. And then liked it so much that he had purchased it as a gift for his brother last Christmas. I was surprised to see my friend still using the KeySmart after all this time has passed.

"You like that little thing?" I asked him

"Oh man, do I." 

How to use your KeySmart Extended Key Holder:

  • Purchase the KeySmart based on how many keys you want to organize. Note: I am referring to flat keys - such as typical house keys. Car keys will big fobs will attach to the end of the KeySmart with the loop.
  • Unscrew the sections of the KeySmart, and place your keys inside - with a washer on each side of each key.  
  • Screw the sections back together.

The KeySmart has become similar to a Swiss Army Knife of your keys.

When I told my friend that I was considering writing a review, he said, "Gadgetry, tinkery, mechanical folk will like it." He then immediately took photos of his KeySmart with the quote after "one and a half years of HARD use."

He carries his in his pocket and in his tool bag. He works hard and his tools do too. 

At first, I was skeptical and thought this was just a gimmick. But now I've decided I want one of my own for my sets of keys. 


Photos courtesy of WLSIII




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