Wednesday, February 28, 2018

How to Get Your Screen-Loving Kids to Read Books for Pleasure: A Book Review

Do You Worry Because Your Children Prefer Screen Time to Reading Time?

Today's kids love their electronic devices. Whether they are playing games, texting their friends, or hanging out on social media, parents often wish they'd pick up a book to read for fun.   Is there something parents can do to encourage their children to enjoy reading? Kaye Newton believes there's a lot parents can do to turn their children on to books. She shares this in her book: How to Get Your Screen-Loving Kids to Read Books for Pleasure

How to Get Your Screen-Loving Kids to Read Books for Pleasure: A Book Review
Photo Courtesy of Pixabay Text added on PicMonkey

How We Encouraged Our Children to Read 

I was a natural bookworm. So when my own learning disabled adopted children weren't reading for fun, I worried. I also tried some of the following tricks, some of which Kaye Newton also recommends. 
  1. I read to our kids all the time and we talked about the books we were reading.
  2. When I knew my middle grade son could read a book but he'd rather I read it to him, I'd start reading it aloud and when I got to an exciting part, I'd remember something important I needed to do and he'd then finish the book himself. 
  3. I had books on topics that matched the children's interests visible where the children liked to hang out -- handy to pick up and read. 
  4. For every birthday and Christmas, I'd take the children to a children's bookstore and let them pick out two books they wanted for their own. They prized those books they'd picked out and often read them.
  5. I took the children to the library often and we'd all pick out books. 
  6. My husband and I both read for pleasure, thus modeling the behavior we hoped our children would pick up.
As a result of these activities, both our children eventually began to read on their own for fun when they weren't playing outside or engaging in other activities with friends and organizations. My son liked to read in bed at night to wind down from an active day. These humorous stories of outdoor life were some of his favorite night reads when he was in middle school. I would hear him laughing in his bed as I'd walk past. We also read McManus books together as a family.

Newton's Suggestions for Turning Your Kids on to Books

I had it easy getting my kids to read because personal computers were just entering homes and we didn't yet have access to the internet. There weren't any mobile phones in most homes yet, either. By choice we didn't have a television. So we didn't have to worry about the competition with screen time as parents do today. Newton addresses how to get children away from their screens in a variety of ways and entice them to use some of their leisure time to read. Here are some of the things she covers in her book

Why Is Reading for Pleasure Important?

Parents who were not recreational readers themselves may not be convinced that their children need to be. So Newton addresses the importance of recreational reading. She states these benefits researchers have discovered:
  • Reading reduces stress.
  • Reading makes people smarter.
  • Reading helps develop empathy.
  • Reading helps teens sleep better.
  • Reading prepares teens for college and the workplace
  • Reading helps connect the generations.
  • Reading may help people live longer. 

Encouraging Older Children and Reluctant Readers to Read for Fun

Some children, like me, naturally took to reading for pleasure. Others like my brother, hated to read, even though we read to him all the time and he enjoyed the stories. We later discovered he was dyslexic. Back then it was a condition just being discovered. Children with learning disabilities usually need special help and direction before they will read for pleasure.

Newton offers suggestions for helping these children learn to enjoy reading. She also addresses how to encourage children who read below and above their grade levels. She explains to parents the various measures of reading levels and what they mean. She addresses vision problems and how to solve them. She also discusses social pressures, such as being labeled a "nerd."

Here are some suggestions for high interest fiction and biographies for secondary students in middle and high school who are reading below their level. I thoroughly enjoyed the biographies myself and read almost the entire Creative Minds series when I used to sell these books.

If you want to get your children interested in history, try these highly visual books which bring American History to life for all ages

What Counts as Real Reading? 

Are text messages and social media posts real reading? What about graphic novels? Is seeing the movie just as good as reading the book? How about SparkNotes as a substitute for reading a book? How about manga, picture books, and chat fiction? 

Is it important that children stick to their reading levels? What if children have low reading comprehension skills? Should parents be concerned about a noisy reading environment or a strange reading position? Is reading an ebook on an electronic device as good as reading a bound book? Are there reading apps that will get teens interested in reading?  Should parents use their authority to have their kids take screen breaks for a couple of hours?

Newton's Family Reading Project  

Newton describes the two goals she had set for her family:

  1. Help her teens and preteens become self-motivated independent readers
  2. Increase reading of any long-form text, such as articles, blogs, magazines, etc. 

She spends a lot of time helping parents find the books that their children will want to read. This includes recommendation lists by age and interests and a list of reasons why children read accompanied by book suggestions that will address each reason. 

If children are to read, they need easy access to books. Kaye suggests sources for inexpensive books and also how to make reading the most desirable activity in a room. If children find books intimidating, subscribe to magazines your children will enjoy. My son was a Scout and he would devour his monthly issue of Boy's Life when he wouldn't voluntarily pick up a book.

 Newton encourages parents to model reading for pleasure and to help make reading enjoyable for their children. She suggests ways to make reading a social activity, since teens love to be with their  friends. 

Other topics Newton covers are whether parents should use reading rewards, summer reading and traveling with books, book clubs, and getting schools to promote a reading culture. She spends time on helping your children learn the difference between real and fake news. `

How to Get Your Screen-Loving Kids to Read Books for Pleasure: A Book Review
Courtesy of Pixabay

My Review

I agree that what Kaye Newton proposes in her book are effective techniques for turning older children into readers. I like her suggestions for parents and children interacting together about their reading. I firmly believe parents should be aware of what their children read, and even read portions of books their children are reading so they can discuss them together. 

I'm not completely with Kaye when she says children should be allowed to chose any books they want when they read for pleasure. I happen to believe that some books are just bad for kids. It doesn't bother me if a child wants to read picture books or other books that aren't on his or her exact reading level. Reading for pleasure should be relaxing.

But just as we encourage our children to eat healthy foods, we should encourage children to read books that will build healthy values rather than destroy them. I would let children pick the books they prefer to read from a collection the parent has screened. Your children tend to form attitudes and values from the books they read just as they do from the shows and movies they watch. 

I suppose one reason I feel so strongly about this is that we adopted two older children, and one of them carried a lot of emotional  baggage that most children don't. When left to her own devices and the advice of friends with similar emotional baggage, she would choose books that were dark and made life seem hopeless. 

She seemed magnetically attracted to the books that could do her the most harm. We could not prevent her from reading them because her friend sneaked them to her. The house was full of high-interest good books with lots of excitement and adventure, but she was irresistibly drawn to books full of orgies and violence like things she had witnessed and been part of as a young child. Because I was unaware she was reading these books, we could not discuss them. 

When I was selling books and getting free samples from publishers, I saw books it was hard to believe were aimed at the young adult market. They were  full of  drug use, promiscuous sex, and confusion. They did not model how a confused teen could escape that confusion. There were no good role models that had their lives together. These books weren't just junk food for the mind -- they were poison to the spirit.

How to Get Your Screen-Loving Kids to Read Books for Pleasure: A Book Review
Courtesy of Pixabay

So many wonderful and uplifting books are available that can encourage a child's spirit and feed a child's soul in a constructive way! These books, too, are full of action, romance, mystery, and adventure, yet their characters solve problems in a constructive way, have healthy relationships and aren't afraid to turn to adults to help them over rough places. They show there is an alternative to darkness and despair and that drugs and sex aren't necessary ingredients in having fun. 

So although Newton's suggestions do get kids reading on their own for pleasure, I think parental involvement in helping children learn to make good choices is important. I think it does matter what children read -- not just that children are reading. The wrong books in the hand of an alienated teen could be dangerous, because books do feed the mind and help form values. 

Newton's suggestions work best when parents follow her guidance about modeling behavior and being involved with their children's reading. She assumes parents reading her book care about getting their children on the road to reading success and that they will fill their homes with books that appeal to their children and make reading a family priority. Just as Kaye got her own children reading with these methods, I believe parents as involved as she was who follow her example will also turn their children into recreational readers. 

If you care about helping your children become independent readers who will be more successful in life, get this book to help you encourage them in that direction. 

How to Get Your Screen-Loving Kids to Read Books for PleasureHow to Get Your Screen-Loving Kids to Read Books for PleasureCheck Price

How to Get Your Screen-Loving Kids to Read Books for Pleasure: A Book Review
Courtesy of Pixabay, Text Added in PicMonkey

How do you get your children away from their screens and into books?

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, February 27, 2018

Google Pixel 2 Smartphone Reviewed

If you are in need of a new smartphone

old black rotary phone
Not a smart phone image courtesy of
A few weeks ago my husband and I purchased the Google Pixel 2 smartphone to replace our other cell phones. The phones that we replaced were not really very old but my husband is extremely hard on his phones. His was no longer working properly. So, off we went to find new ones. 

It never ceases to amaze me, the advancements in technology is just incredible! I have said this before and I will say it again. My phone is actually smarter than the first, second and even third computers that I owned! I love my new phone, so let me tell you why!

You might have heard through the grapevine that this phone has an excellent camera. They are not just whistling really is an incredible camera. The images are really remarkable and there are some fun editing features to use, too. I don't usually choose which phone that I want for the camera but this was a very nice bonus to get.

I am amazed at how fast my new smartphone reacts to anything that I want to do. I also like that Google Assistant is a part of the phone. You can set it up in a matter of seconds during the getting started process. It is pretty cool! The other night we were watching television and all I said was OK and the silly thing came on wanting to know its next command. You can also call up the assistant by squeezing on the sides of the phone.

The battery on a phone is a source of concern for me. How often am I going to have to charge it and how long will it take? I have had phones that seemed to run out of juice very quickly and then take forever to get a full charge. This Google Pixel 2 has been a very nice surprise. The battery lasts quite a long time and it charges very quickly. It was a good thing that the phone came with its own charger because my old charger won't work on the new phone. The jack is slightly wider than my old one.

Not that I want to ever try this feature out but it is supposed to be waterproof. That is pretty neat! I have known a few people who have accidentally dropped theirs into places that I wouldn't even have my phone near (another story for another day!) and the wet phone was done for. I still don't plan to have my phone close to that particular receptacle but it is nice to know that it should survive getting wet.

Probably the most impressive part of this smartphone is the software that it runs on. The Android Oreo is the best that I have encountered.

We are very happy with our choice and I would highly recommend this smartphone to anyone who is in the market for a new one. I sincerely believe that you will not be disappointed.

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, February 25, 2018

Hoover Power Scrub Elite Review

The Hoover Power Scrub Elite
There are probably as many reasons to own a carpet shampooer as there are carpets. For my own reasons, I have purchased the Hoover Power Scrub Elite carpet shampooer and have been very happy with it's performance. If you have pets or small children, or tend to make your own spills on your carpet, I highly recommend that you have your own carpet shampooer. I am very pleased with mine.

Hoover Power Scrub Elite

The Hoover Power Scrub Elite seems to be a sturdy and reasonably priced residential carpet shampooer. There are several features about this shampooer that are more handy that I expected.

Wash & Rinse. The clean water reservoir is divided. Initially, I thought that would bother me (there is a small reservoir for the carpet cleaning solution within the fresh water reservoir).  However, I have found that I really like the solution separate from the fresh water. And there is a handy button to choose "wash" or "rinse".  No more refilling the jug to go over a wet carpet with clean water to rinse. I can rinse each small section as I go.

Dries 2xs Faster. Okay, I don't really know if it dries exactly 2xs faster than my previous shampooer. The "dries 2xs faster" is the claim that Hoover has printed on the box. But it does dry FAST! When I began using this shampooer, we were in the winter months - and the air was very dry. I assumed the super fast drying of the carpet was due to the climate. Not the shampooer. Then I shampooed on a humid day. I dread shampooing on humid or rainy days as it often takes so long to dry. But not with this machine. I'm not certain whether it is due to the strong suction power or the "HeatForce" drying. Whatever the reason, I am thrilled with the short drying time.

Spin Scrub Brushes. My last shampooer had only one spinning bar of brushes. The Hoover Power Scrub Elite has five spinning brushes in a row. It cleans and fluffs my carpet.

Removes Pet Odors. I'm not sure if it is the scrubbing brushes, the HeatForce, or the cleaning solution formula that came with my machine but the odors from Daisy's and Willy's occasional accidents are gone!

The Many Reasons I Own A Shampooer

There are many people who hire folks to come in and clean their carpets. And just as many people who rent commercial shampooers from a store to DIY.  There are many reasons I don't want to do either of those things.

Expense. Hiring someone to clean my carpet is expensive. And with customer service becoming what it is, I don't want the muss and fuss of someone coming into my home. Besides, I have a very small apartment with only a bit of carpet.

Bugs! Renting a commercial shampooer to do it myself makes me cringe. In this day and age of things like Bed Bugs I'll have to pass on using something that cleaned someone else's carpet. Someone will probably tell me that bed bugs can't travel in a shampooer but I still can't stand the thought.

Convenience.  I have dogs. And a cat. Occasionally they have accidents. And worse than that, I'm terribly clumsy. I spill things. All the time. Whether it's just a touch up in one spot, or the entire carpet needs cleaned, I want to shampoo when I want to. And I can do that with my own shampooer.

Extends the Life of the Carpet. Okay, in this shabby (but not chic) apartment, there's not a lot I can do to extend the life of this el-cheapo carpet.  But, I can keep it clean, fresh, and "fluffed".  I hate how the "high traffic areas" in a room get matted and flat. The scrubbing brushes on this shampooer are especially good at improving the looks of this carpet.

If there is any reason you are in the market for a carpet shampooer, give the Hoover Power Scrub Elite serious consideration. I've only owned mine for several months but I already know that it is significantly better than my previous shampooer.

Related Link:

If you do not want to buy a shampooer, but need to do some spot cleaning, make sure to read Bev's review of Shaw Carpet & Rug Stain & Soil Remover. She explains, "I absolutely love this stuff! It works like a dream!"

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, February 24, 2018

Dan Brown ORIGIN Book Review

Dan Brown Origin book cover
I was intrigued when I read in Dan Brown’s newest book Origin that the book includes only “Art, architecture, locations, science and religious organisations that are real.” I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to the heart of Italy with Dan Brown in Inferno and then with my husband in real life and one day I hope to visit Brown’s Bilbao, Barcelona, Madrid and Seville in person after having enjoyed my visit with him in this novel.

I’m not quite sure why I picked up Origin but it was at least in part because of the memories and discussions that my entire family had after we all read the first two books in the series, Angels and Demons and The Da Vinci Code. I know that not all of the books in the series were quite as well received by my family and I have to admit to wondering how many times poor Robert Langdon could be called out to save the day.

Well, as it turns out, at least one more time. In this, the latest book, we are armchair travellers to Spain where Langdon is solving a murder mystery and focuses on the origin of man. It involves the art work, symbols, architecture, locations and religions of Spain. This time, the debate includes some interesting familiar and unfamiliar high-level technology and even a super computer. You will find yourself wondering is that really true and find yourself thankful for Brown’s statement that everything in the book is real.

Origin is the first Dan Brown book to feature modern art since Robert Langdon is not much of a fan of that genre and it focuses on the work of Joan MirĂ³. I recommend googling her to have a feeling for her artwork. It really is different from the masters that Langdon normally prefers.  The book also features literary references to William Blake and Friedrich Nietzsche, authors whom I was not particularly knowledgeable of.

The effort required to put this book together with real details and facts is mind boggling. Apparently, Brown employs a team of fact checkers to make sure he is accurately presenting all of that history and science.

Is Origin recommended?

Yes, Origin is recommended by me. Is it highly recommended? I am undecided. I found the novel a bit heavier on religion than I care for and I can honestly say I have never thought about where I came from or where I am going to in such depth. Of course, thinking about our creation and destiny is not necessarily a bad thing.

I was, however, totally fascinated by the high-tech science in this book that includes quantum computing, artificial intelligence in the form of a thinking computer and a self-driving Tesla Model X. The conspiracy website is a nice link between our current online world and the book.

Barcelona Super Computing Center exterior

Barcelona Super Computing Center Interior
Barcelona Super Computing Center
Finally, I liked the glimpse into Spain. Yes, there is really a super computer built inside the walls of a church in Barcelona in this book and the pictures shown here are from the website of the real Barcelona Super Computer Center.

I expect that if you enjoyed Angels & Demons and the Da Vinci Code, you will likely enjoy Origin.

Origin was published on October 3, 2017 and was number 1 on the New York Times bestseller list in that same month and it remains on that list in the number eight position as I write this post in February, 2018. It is also currently number 2 on Amazon’s bestseller list of the top 20 most sold and read books of the week. Is there a movie? Not yet but maybe.

The New York Times finds fault and praise for the book but concludes: ”…for all their high-minded philosophizing, these books’ geeky humor remains a big part of their appeal. Not for nothing does Kirsch’s Tesla have a license plate frame reading: “THE GEEKS SHALL INHERIT THE EARTH.” Brown continues to do everything in his playful power to ensure that will happen.”

Here's an exciting peek at Dan Brown, his books, and Origin. Warning: It will make you want to go to Spain with me.

Origin is fun. Don’t take it too seriously. You can find it here on Amazon. If you decide to read it, be sure to come back and let us know what you think. If you have already done so, have you figured out where we come from and where we are going and, more on point, would you recommend this book to your friends and family?

See you
at the bookstore!


Angels & Demons (2000)
The Da Vinci Code (2003)
The Lost Symbol (2009)
Inferno (2013)
Origin (2017)


Buy Origin on Amazon.
Read my review of Inferno.

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, February 23, 2018

The Voice of Josh Groban Touches Deep into the Soul

By watchwithkristin (Josh Groban & Emilie de Ravin)
[CC BY-SA 2.0 (],
via Wikimedia Commons
Exceptional talent, gorgeous tone quality and inspiring song selections all contribute to why Josh Groban is my favorite current day male vocalist. 

If I close my eyes and just listen to him sing, I feel transported from this world to a higher plane of existence. To say he has a heavenly appeal would not be an exaggeration. I believe his voice is truly the voice of an angel.  His ability to smoothly sing notes with an unparalleled vocal strength is amazing, beautiful and touches deep into my heart and soul. 

When I feel anxious or have work to do that doesn't exactly thrill me, I turn on my Josh Groban cd and let his voice raise my spirits. Before I know it, my housework is done and I am happily breezing on to my next responsibility. 

Josh Groban Songs

The first Josh Groban song that caught my attention was "You Raise Me Up".   I suspect that is true for most of us.  However, that is far from his only song that touches deep into the soul. 

Ironically, my favorite Josh Groban cd is "Awake".   I say that is ironic only because "Your Raise Me Up" is not on that cd.  I love listening to him sing is different languages.  You may wonder why a vocalist would sing in foreign languages.  In my personal experience and opinion it was always about perfecting the notes, the tone of the voice and the deliverance.  While the words and message are always the most important part of a song, a vocalist needs to develop a song beyond enunciating the words.  I have heard vocal judges say a soloist makes love to their audience.  I've never particularly liked that phrase, but I understand what they mean.  

Listen to this song and I think you will understand too.  You may even find you know the song already.  If so, I feel sure you will have a new appreciation for it after you hear this performance.  Of course, I must give credit to those fabulous string instruments, which include the piano, that introduce his voice.  They truly set the tone and the feeling for the song.

Close Your Eyes and Just Listen!


In case you do not know, Un Giorno Per Noi is the Italian version of "A Time for Us".  It is the love theme from Romeo and Juliet.

All Time Best Musical Song Sung by All Time Best Male Vocalist

For those of you who know me well, you know "Les Miserables" is my all time favorite musical.  I have seen it in several opera house theaters and even in a few different countries.  I still cry when
Jean Valjean performs this breath-taking, heart-wrenching musical plea to God.


Josh Groban is Limitless

Josh Groban is a "star" by anyone's equation, but he doesn't come across as arrogant in any way.  He has preformed duets with a variety of other soloists who are popular in their own music genres, including Barbra Streisand, Celine Dion, Kelly Clarkson, Brian McKnight, Faith Hill and the magnificent Andrea Bocelli.  

And just to show his wonderful personality and why everyone loves him, watch this performance with Ellen Degeneres. I admit, this leaves me cracking up!  


 AwakeCheck Price Stages Live (CD/DVD)Check Price A CollectionCheck Price All That EchoesCheck Price Closer (CD)Check Price


Check Out More Music Reviews

The Voice of Josh Groban Touches Deep into the Soul 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, February 22, 2018

Review of Facts and Photos of the Dark Eyed Junco

Dark Eyed Junco photo by mbgphoto
Snow Bird
I think I must have gotten my love of birds from my Mother.  She loved to watch the birds in her yard and one of her favorites was a small grey bird with a white bottom that she called the "Snow Bird".  I have found this bird to be one of my favorites.  They are called Dark Eyed Junco's and it is particularly interesting to watch them hop around on the ground on a snowy day.

Dark Eyed Junco photo by mbgphoto

Identifying the Dark Eyed Junco

  • Slate Colored mostly grey with white belly
  • Medium Sized Sparrow
  • Round Head
  • Small pale bill
  • Prominent white outer tail feathers
There are other Junco's in North America whose coloring varies across the continent but all are a dark grey or brown and have white outer tail feathers the flash open in flight.  In the western US Junco's have a dark hood and a brown back. These are called the "Oregon Junco"

The Dark Eyed Junco that I show in this article are found throughout Canada and in the eastern US.  I live in eastern Missouri and they are plentiful in my backyard.

Dark Eyed Junco photo by mbgphoto

Feeding Behavior

These birds feed primarily by hopping around the base of trees and shrubs looking for fallen seeds.  In the spring and summer they will eat mainly insects.

In my back yard they usually are found beneath the feeders picking up seeds that have fallen when other birds have been at the feeders.  Here is a photo taken on a snowy morning when two Junco's decided to stop at a feeder.  The ground was covered with snow and there weren't any other birds around to knock food off the feeders so they had to go get their own.  Later in the day when more other types of birds were around they were again on the ground pecking away at fallen seeds.

Dark Eyed Juncos on feeder photo by mbgphoto

Breeding Behavior

In order to court the females the males will fan and flicker their tail feather and hop up and down.  The males and females will make a nest together and they defend their territory together.  The male however is a bit fickle and is known to mate with several females.

The females usually have between 3-5 eggs at a time and they are incubated by the female for 12-13 days.  The baby birds are ready to leave their nest in 9-13 days.


Junco's are ground nesters and prefer to make their nest on the ground sheltered by either dense shrubs or rocks.  Their nest is an open cup made of fine twigs, rootlets and leaves.


  • Cornell Lab of Ornithology online
  • Backyard Guide to the Birds of North America by Jonathan Alderfer and Paul Hess

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, February 21, 2018

Lark Rise To Candleford Review

Lark Rise to Candleford
Take a trip into 19th century Oxfordshire, England as its' residents battle the economics, challenges, changes and the rural landscape in this pivotal time in rural England.The Lark Rise to Candleford series is based on the semi-autobiographical novels by Flora Thompson and reminds us how difficult daily life can be in that era, but as always the human spirit prevails through challenges, heartbreaks and triumphs.

This series is uplifting, realistic, charming, entertaining, visually stunning. You will care about the characters and rejoice with their successes and tear with the heartbreaks. Some of the best shows on television have been momentarily forgotten and archived. This television series deserves a search through the television archives with the reward of an endearing series families can watch together and thoroughly enjoy.

Fans Of The BBC

If you are a fan of the BBC (British Broadcasting Company) historical drama then Lark Rise to Candleford is for you. This is a character driven series in which the characters are fully developed along with the depiction of Oxfordshire and its' surrounding communities.

Long before Downton Abbey captured a new generation of BBC fans the BBC has offered quality television dramas along with the classic Masterpiece Series. It is definitely worth a look through the archives of  BBC series and you will find many hidden treasures perfect to stream or purchase for todays' binge viewers. 

Lark Rise to Candleford Book

Many fans of the Lark Rise to Candleford television series found themselves so enthralled they were propelled to seek out the original book by Flora Thompson. Lark Rise To Candleford is a trilogy published in 1945 comprised of the books: "Lark Rise", "Over To Candleford" and "Candleford Green."

The trilogy offers 556 pages of richly described landscape, English villages and countryside. The book is a wonderful way to envelope yourself into the 19th century English countryside which is so integral to the television series. 

I highly recommend the Lark Rise To Candleford: Complete Collection and here are a few of my BBC hidden treasures perfect to curl up on the couch and enjoy!

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, February 20, 2018

Black Rifle Coffee Reviewed

Good Coffee Supports Veterans

military veterans statue
Coffee Made With Vets in mind. Image courtesy of
Black Rifle Coffee is more than just a good cup of brew for your enjoyment, it is a company with a purpose that I can get behind and I think you might, also. 

I have reviewed several blends of coffee over the years and that is because I really do love a good cup of coffee. Recently, my husband saw a piece on television that piqued his interest and he ordered a variety pack of coffee from the Black Rifle Coffee Company. We have not been disappointed with the coffee and we are happy to support their mission.

What? A coffee company with a mission? Well, I guess most do have a mission and that would be to sell a lot of coffee. Am I right? This company is different. Oh sure, they want to sell a lot of coffee but let me explain about these guys. 

The company was started by military veteran Evan Hafer in his garage with about $1800 dollars as working capital. He wanted to create good coffee because during his tours in Iraq and Afghanistan he found that the option for coffee was pretty awful and he loves a good cup of 'Joe'. Then he had an idea that he presented to one of his veteran buddies. What if, they made coffee and employed veterans in the process? There are many unemployed vets around the country that they would like to help, not with handouts but with employment. That is where the dream started and it is working!

Right now, they have two actual stores that employ veterans along with a manufacturing facility that also employs vets. They are working on getting more stores built around the company and have gained quite a presence with online sales. The last report that I saw says that they have something like 104 employees with that number including about 47 or more veterans. Another thing that I like about these guys is that they also have several women in the company, many of which are in upper management.

So, what about the coffee? Well, I'm here to tell you that it really is good! In our variety pack we received:

  • AK47 
  • JB (Just Black)
  • BB (Beyond Black)
  • SS (Silencer Smooth)
All of them make a great tasting cup of coffee! My favorite is the AK47 with a solid boldness about it. My husband likes all of them but his favorite is the JB blend. There are other blends that we can try but we wanted to start with the variety pack first. 

I like that this company was formed by Veterans of our military and that they support the hiring of veterans in their company. They know first hand what a soldier goes through when he or she returns from deployment in war torn areas. PTSD, disabling injury, and depression are common in Vets from any conflict. Who better to help them cope than people who have been through the same experience?

Some find the company a little controversial because of their support of guns. I personally do not. These guys were in our military, they put their lives on the line and of course they know guns. It was very much a part of their jobs while they served our country. To me, that isn't something to condemn them for, we should applaud that they are providing opportunities for their fellow veterans while operating a worthwhile business. 

I think that families that have members who have served will appreciate this company and its goals along with getting the pleasure of drinking a really great cup of coffee. 

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, February 19, 2018

The Guilty Book Review

The Guilty by David Baldacci book cover
In The Guilty, David Baldacci takes you on a non-stop, action packed adventure in Cantrell, Mississippi.

When a top ranked government assassin is unable to perform his job, he heads home to deal with unresolved issues from his past and winds up embroiled in his father's murder investigation.

Making matters more difficult is the fact that he has been estranged from his father for 20 years. Talking to his father is no easier now than it was when he was a lad and his father's life being on the line does not seem to make a difference. His father wants no help from his son and is resigned to his own personal situation.

Robie, however, refuses to let his father take the murder charge without fighting back. His efforts, combined with those of an equally skilled coworker, to save his dad eventually help him start a proper relationship with his father. Better late than never, as they say. It turns out that his book is about murder and about family.

I was amazed at the action that took place in the first half of the book, which meant that there was lots more still to come. It was fast paced and hard to put down.

Yes, The Guilty is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by me. Read more about it or order your copy from Amazon by clicking right here.

As it turns out, The Guilty is number four in a series called Will Robie and David Baldacci has written many other books, which I look forward to checking out. It is always great to find a new author that you enjoy and if all of Baldacci's books are as good as this one, I will have some more sleep deprived nights ahead.

See you
At the bookstore!
Treasures By Brenda

Quick Links:

Order The Guilty from Amazon here.

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, February 18, 2018

Why Drink Kefir? If You're Not Including this in Your Diet, You May Want to Rethink That...

Are You Familiar With Kefir?

If you haven't read up on Kefir, you're going to be surprised by all it's benefits.

In case you aren't familiar with Kefir, Kefir is fermented milk. Hey, I heard that gag.

I remember when I first told my mom about Kefir, and used the words 'fermented milk' to describe it, she about up-chucked on the spot.

However, stop right there, it's not sour milk .... it's more like drinkable yogurt.

Kefir comes from the Turkish word 'Keif' which means, "good". So that settles it, it's good.

So Why Drink Kefir?

I tripped upon Kefir's benefits about two years ago while researching inflammation remedies for a very unexpected health matter. Since then, it's been a daily (or almost daily) inclusion in my diet.

According to Healthline there are a number of Benefits to Kefir - Here's a summary of a few of Kefir's good stuff:
  1. Kefir contains high levels of vitamin B12, calcium, magnesium, vitamin K2, biotin, folate, enzymes and probiotics
  2. There are approximately 30 strains of good bacteria that help protect against bad bacteria overgrowth, tumors, leaky-gut syndrome and more.
  3. It helps to boost immunity. One of the ingredients that's unique to Kefir is Lactobacillus Kefiri which aids in the protection of other harmful bacteria like Salmonella and E. Coli.
  4. Another ingredient in Kefir is Insoluble Polysaccharide, also known as "Kefiran" and Kefiran is said to be an antimicrobial that guards against Candida. (Candida is a type of Yeast Infection that's mostly found in the mouth, vagina, intestinal tract, mucus membranes and skin). By the way Candida can give you a lot of symptoms - A white coating on your tongue, fatigue, brain fog, joint pain, gas, bloating, chronic sinus issues and more.
  5. Kefir is made from Whole Fat Dairy and has high levels of Calcium. Due to it's make-up it also helps you better absorb the calcium. All of this is good for your bones, especially if you're battling Osteoarthritis.
  6. It's anti-carcinogenic benefits make it a good cancer prevention addition to your diet.
  7. All of the above components give it the traits that aid the fight of Allergies, Irritable Bowel Syndrome as well as improving your skin.
  8. This one benefit may be hard to believe considering it's made with milk, however, it is said to help those who are lactose intolerant. Like yogurt does, Kefir does this more effectively: It's live microorganisms help your immune system suppress allergic responses.
So How Does It Taste?
Lifeway Probiotic Low Fat Plain Kefir, 32 Ounce -- 6 per case.Lifeway Probiotic Low Fat Plain Kefir, 32 Ounce -- 6 per case.
There's plain Kefir and flavored Kefir. I've had both, and tried many flavors. As mentioned above, it tastes like drinkable yogurt, but has a slight tang to it. However, it's not tangy, it just has that hint of difference from other typical drinkable yogurts.

Drink it or Make Smoothies With It

If you can't stomach drinking Kefir (and once you start drinking it, you'll oddly begin to crave it) - then make smoothies with it.

I like to keep a flavored Kefir in my fridge when I'm not in the mood to make a smoothie, and I keep a bottle of plain Kefir for smoothies. I find plain Kefir too hard to drink, but added to smoothies it's ideal.

My Favorite Kefir Smoothie Recipe:

In my Vitamix:
  • 1 Cup of Frozen Pitted Cherries (buy them in the frozen fruit section of your local grocer). The frozen cherries replace 'Ice' - If you use fresh cherries, you'll have to add ice - (too much work)
  • 1/2 Cup of Kefir (honestly I don't measure, I just kinda pour it in)
  • I'll add one single cherry flavored yogurt cup (any flavor is fine - buy regular fat yogurt, don't use any of that '0 percent stuff'- it's all fake sugar!)
  • About 1/4 cup of lemon water (we always keep lemon water in the fridge - just water with two whole lemons cut up in it) - use plain water if you must
  • Optional: a handful of spinach
  • Adjust the thickness you want by adding more or less of any of the above ingredients - just play with it. If you want a richer cherry flavor, add more cherries.
By the way, I'm not a doctor or health professional! Because of my own health issues I had to become informed on the right foods to include in my diet, and Kefir hit my radar.

Here's to your health *clinking kefir glasses*

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, February 17, 2018

Reviewing Hide & Seek Rock Painting Kit by Creativity for Kids

Hide & Seek Rock Painting Kit for kids
Hide & Seek Rock Painting Kit
While working part time in a retail shop over the holidays,  I checked out a 'grandmother' and her purchase. The minute I saw what she was buying for a grandchild ~ this Rock Painting Kit ~ I knew immediately that it was the perfect Christmas gift for MY grandson as well.  Naturally, by the end of my work day, I had purchased my own kit to send to my artistically inclined 8-year-old grandson David. 

David loves to draw, color and paint, and is a very creative child, so it is not surprising that 'Creativity for Kids' has a variety of creative kits that appeal to kids like him. 

Creativity for Kids Company

Creativity for Kids is a division of the Faber-Castell company, established in 1761 by the cabinet maker Kaspar Faber and  is one of the oldest industrial companies in the world.  

The company is the world’s leading manufacturer of wood-cased pencils with a varied range of products for writing, drawing and creative design.

Faber-Castell acquired Creativity for Kids, the leading U.S. specialty manufacturer of creative activity products for children of all ages, in 1999 and is now headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio.  The next year (2000) the company introduced Children’s Art Products, which are a line of playing and learning art supplies for children.  

The creative kits include a wide variety of artistic play from painting, jewelry making, garden crafts, lighting crafts, science-related invention kits, and a host of other kits in many fields.

You can see the whole range of kits at their website.

Hide & Seek Rock Painting Kit

The kit I chose for my grandson, David, age 8,  was the Hide & Seek Rock Painting Kit.  

Contents of Hide & Seek Rock Painting Kit
Image from Amazon of kit contents
The kit comes with 10 River Rocks, 8 paint colors, 2 paint brushes, 20 transfer designs, tracking stickers, a transfer sponge and instructions.  

This rock painting kit is called 'Hide & Seek' because you can hide the rocks outside and leave clues on the company's Facebook page for people to go and find your rocks. The online link is printed on the package.

I thought this would be a fun project for David & Tyler who love to spend time outside in parks in their area. And when they finish painting all the rocks that came in the kit, they can find more rocks in parks and woods to continue using the kit.

Grandson with their finished painted rocks from the Hide & Seek Rock Painting Kit
David & Tyler with their painted rocks (c) Elf
The age group for this craft activity kit states it is for children 6 years and up, but David's little 3-1/2 year old brother enjoyed 'painting' the rocks too and both  enjoyed the projects (as you can see in the photo).

The company's motto states:

“Rock Painting is a fun way for you, your friends and family to spread kindness, encouragement and happiness throughout your community – one rock at a time."

Creativity for Kids helps develop children's problem solving and critical thinking skills. I found this rock painting kit to be a fun and delightful educational toy for my young grandsons.

My Grandsons' Collection of Painted Rocks!

Collection of painted rocks

More Toy Reviews can be found at: 

(c) Wednesday Elf 2/17/2018

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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