Thursday, May 31, 2018

Vintage Lamp Bird Bath - DIY Tutorial and Review


I was visiting my muse the other day, Pinterest, when I came upon the most delightful inspiration.  Have you seen the creative bird baths that are being made from vintage lamps?  I'm pretty sure I would never have thought of this fun, and ingenious, idea on my own.  As one who loves to give cast off items new life, this was the perfect project for me.  In case you also enjoy whimsical garden features, I am sharing my DIY process to prime your pump.


First, I needed an old lamp and bird bath basin, so I took a little field trip to a couple of thrift stores.  Goodwill had exactly what I needed.  On my first shopping expedition, I found a glass serving dish that reminded me of a sunflower.  Amazingly, that is the exact vision I had for the theme of my creation.  Who knew an egg platter could be so lovely?


Next, I went on the hunt for the right lamp to complement my new bird bath dish, and to serve as its base.  Because thrift stores are always receiving new donations, I found the perfect lamp on my very next trip to the store.  The crystal, marble, and brass features, along with the size of the lamp, were just right in every way.  I couldn't wait to get home and put the finishing touches on my vintage bird bath.


Step One: Unscrew the light socket and remove it from the top of the lamp.


Step Two:  Clip the electrical cord and pull it out through the lamp base.  


Step Three:  I removed each individual section of the lamp and reassembled the pieces to better support the basin section of my bird bath.  I moved the brass leaf section to the top of the column and reversed it (turned it upside down) to serve as the support arms for my glass dish.  


Step Four:  Though I had intended to glue the platter directly to the brass arms, I found that they weren't totally level, so I riveted a circular metal candle holder to the brass piece.  I spray painted the metal silver since it would show through the bottom of the water basin.  I wanted a natural looking reflection.




Step Five:  I used E6000 glue to affix the glass dish to the candle holder.  I ran a bead of glue all along the circular rim on the bottom of the egg platter and carefully applied pressure for a minute or two after centering the dish on the metal plate.  Then, I let the glue cure for a couple of days.


Step Six:  Since I don't want my glass bird bath to tip over and shatter, I ran a metal post up into the center column where the cord used to be housed.  I purchased an inexpensive plant hanger at the dollar store.  It has stakes to anchor the base of the lamp into the ground.  I measured the height of the lamp and then cut off the hook top of the planter stake.  For extra insurance, since the winds are often incredibly strong where I live, I drilled a hole through the center of a cement patio paver and inserted the metal rod through it before installing the rod inside the lamp.  Now my bird bath is very stable and far less likely to get knocked over by the wind or wild critters.  As a bonus, it now has a level platform on which to stand.  I'll be planting flowers around the paver to make it more attractive.









Your steps may not be identical to mine, because every lamp is slightly different, but there are enough similarities to give you a sense of how to go about assembling your bird bath.  You may be able to find a lamp that already has a glass shade.  In that case, you won't need a separate glass dish.  I preferred knowing that my glass dish would not be toxic to birds and I didn't have to seal any holes that had been drilled through a lamp shade.  

I am very pleased with my unique bird bath.  It is so satisfying to take an unwanted item or two and turn them into a conversation piece.  More than that, I feel like I am showing a little love to the beautiful creatures who share my garden habitat.  It has been an especially dry season.  With the mountain creek dried up at the moment, it feels wonderful to provide a source of sustenance for the precious birds that fill my life with their sweet presence and songs.

Let me know if you decide to make your own bird bath or garden art with a vintage lamp.  I would love to see how you use your creative gifts.









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Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Unique and Beautiful Watering Options for your Gardens

There are two reasons for this REVIEW TODAY! 

1. According to the Calendar of Days,  it is "Water a Plant Day" 

2.  Summer seems to be off to a fine start and I know my garden is in need of a daily drink!

Gardens are a place to rest and relax, to get your hands just a little dirty and to find something beautiful to enjoy!  Some of us have large gardens and others may have a small garden, but one thing is certain, everybody enjoys to see flowers blooming!  The garden doesn't have to do too much to make a weary soul smile. The hardiest of flowers can be enjoyed by everyone.  There is no need to be intimidated by thoughts of exotic plants (unless you want to be).  A pot full of marigolds is a beautiful sight.

Since the time of Adam and Eve, we have nurtured gardens and tried to bring some of them under our control.  With trying to control their growth, we also need to control their watering and feeding.  You can't have one without the other.


water a plant day, watering cans, garden Review

Water a plant day brings up some interesting points about watering options for our gardens.  Let's for right now focus on watering cans and manual ways to keep our plants from dying of thirst!  I will leave drip irrigation methods to gardeners who really need that kind of extended watering options.  (Leave me a comment and I'll gladly discuss this with you!)

Water can be heavy, so when you are deciding on a watering can for your needs remember that you will need to carry it!  To that end, I will suggest that a watering can should hold around 2 gallons of water.  Any more than this and the weight becomes difficult to handle.  With my arthritis, I would not want to carry more than this personally.  It's also a good size when it comes to adding fertilizers to enhance the blooming of your flowers.

Now I'm going to show you one that gets a 5 Star rating and tell you why it's a good choice.

This watering can holds 2 Gallons so it's the perfect size. It has a fairly large opening to fill it and also to add any fertilizers. It is made of a light weight resin material that can be left out in the great outdoors without any problems.  It has a nozzle that makes the water fall like a shower on your plants.  The only down side to this watering can is that the nozzle is NOT removable.  This watering can is practical, but not very pretty.  If you are looking for function, this watering can will do the trick quite nicely and it's very affordable.



Now if you are looking for a watering can that does the job, but looks pretty too, there are many more options.  You can find watering cans that your children or grandchildren would love to use.  Any gardener that loves their hobby, loves to share that hobby with their loved ones too!  These watering cans would make playing and working in the garden a really fun time! Check out these lovely options in watering cans and see if one doesn't make you smile too! Little hands would enjoy the animals that could help them, help you! This is just a little sample of the many watering cans that you can get. I just happen to love the colors and the shapes of these ones. The child in me has never really grown up!

Now here are a few practical things to remember when using a watering can to give your plants a drink.  Plants don't like to be watered with ice cold water, especially on really hot days.  It is a shock to their tender roots.  Fill your watering can and let it stand outdoors for an hour or so before subjecting your plants/planters to their daily drink.  Water your plants early in the morning rather than at high noon.  The plants will be able to drink more and be able to cope with the midday sun easier when they are well hydrated.  If you are using the watering cans to water your planters, you might also look at a schedule for fertilizing these planters.  Check out the labels and directions for your favorite types of fertilizers and use them accordingly.

water a plant day, Review This, Gardening help

A closing bit of advice, when you are watering your plants, talk to them too!  Plants do respond by growing much better when they are coddled!  Ask any gardener and they will agree that Watering, Talking, Primping and Pruning will do wonders for anything you are trying to grow!





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Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Soothe XP Eye Drops Reviewed

When Your Eyes Are Dry Or Irritated

irritated eyes
Irritated Eyes image from Pixabay.com
Bausch + Lomb has eye drops that will soothe your dry or irritated eyes that I would like to review for you today. Soothe XP has given my tired old eyes some relief. 

I began to experience what is commonly referred to as dry eye. When I would wake in the morning, it almost felt like my eyelid was scratching my eyeball when I first opened my eyes. I started to notice that my eyes always looked red and irritated and I found myself blinking more during the day. 

An advertisement came on the television for Soothe XP and I took notice. As they described the wearing away of the protective coating as we age, I thought that it sounded a lot like what I was experiencing. So, I decided to try these eye drops to see if I found any improvement. I figured it wouldn't hurt me and it was much less expensive than a trip to the doctor. 



After using these eye drops the first time, I felt some relief. Using them for a few days in a row, my eyes feel so much better. In the past, I had tried eye drops of a different nature and found them to almost irritate my eyes further. Not so with the Soothe XP. The liquid felt cool and refreshing in my eyes. There was no burning sensation like others that I had tried.

The label says that you may experience a little blurriness after the application but I did not find that to be true. Of course, we are not all the same so your experience might be different.

So, if you are experiencing dry eyes or tear loss from the aging process or your environment, I highly recommend giving Sooth XP by Bausch + Lomb a try. I think you will see an improvement like I have. 



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Monday, May 28, 2018

Mindfulness on Memorial Day 2018

Bataan Death March reading.
Today is Memorial Day in the United States. This day is set aside to remember those in our armed services who have given the ultimate sacrifice to defend our nation. The meaning of the day can easily become lost over a three day weekend of travel and barbecues. That is the reason why I've begun to set the day aside to intentionally remember and to learn about someone who has given their life during service to their country. Here I will review some of the books and movies that have helped me to do that.

For all of the families (children, parents, wives, and husbands) who have lost a loved one in service to our nation, you are in my thoughts today and every day. 

Bataan Death March


During my history classes in high school I remember learning about the bombing of Pearl Harbor by Japan. I never heard about Japan also invading the Philippines and the war atrocities that took place there. It was only last year, while channel surfing, that I caught part of a documentary about the Bataan Death March in the Philippines. How was it that I had never heard of this! 

Also last year, I was seeing clips of a 75th anniversary Memorial Bataan Death March. This memorial march occurs annually at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico. And I saw video of a Bataan Death March survivor walking the memorial march in Mexico.  

As a result of seeing bits of videos, I made it a point to teach myself more about what occurred in the Philippines to both Americans and Filipinos. And to remember the thousands who were held as POWs from 1942 to 1945 and the thousands who lost their lives during that time. 




Operation Redwings and the Lone Survivor


In 2005, a special reconnaissance mission was occurring in Afghanistan. Four Navy Seals were sent to the mountains on this mission and only one returned. Lone Survivor is ultimately the story of Marcus Luttrell and how he survived. He was saved by an Afghan village and a man in that village who hid Luttrell from the Taliban. Even though that story is about Luttrell's survival, it is also about how others gave their lives. Murphy, Dietz, and Axelson you are remembered.  As are those 16 people on the Chinook who lost their lives when it was shot down during a rescue attempt. 

I prefer the book over the movie because the movie is so condensed. You do not get the feel for the amount of time that passed as Luttrell was fighting for his life in the mountains. But both the movie and the book are a good way to remember those lost during that mission in Afghanistan. 




Practicing Mindfulness on Memorial Day 2017


Last year, I read World Changer: A Mother's Story: The Unbreakable Spirit of US Navy Seal Aaron Vaughn. You can see what I wrote about that story and about Memorial Day here

When someone makes the ultimate sacrifice, they leave families, friends, and battle buddies behind. I am always amazed when those left behind find a way to turn that loss into strength and good things. Karen Vaughn works tirelessly to honor her son's memory and is a dedicated spokeswoman for the current defenders of our nation.

photo courtesy via creative commons CC0


I hope that you are able to take a moment today, no matter your thoughts on politics and military, to think of those who have died in the service of our country.


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Sunday, May 27, 2018

Blessings on Your Memorial Day Weekend

From the Writers of ReviewThis we would like to send our United States readers best wishes for a lovely Memorial Day Weekend. 

In remembrance, we celebrate by honoring those who have paid the ultimate price to defend our freedoms.

For those outside of the USA, here's a quick summary of what Memorial Day is about: It's origins are from Decoration Day, a day of honor following the US Civil War. By 1971 Memorial Day became an official federal holiday to honor all those who lost their lives serving in the US armed forces.

Honor, Grace and Love - To All Who Lost Their Lives in Defense of Country
Photo: Via Pixabay 
This hauntingly gorgeous song, "When the Angels Came Down" by Kevin Costner (yes that Kevin Costner) and Modern West, remembers history and the Fallen - It's very moving.


If you want to read more about this song, the story behind it's writing and it's meaning, you'll find it explained here at The Heart of Country Music.

For those who have suffered loss and who are remembering their loved ones, we're thinking of you and we thank you and your family. We remember.


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Saturday, May 26, 2018

National Hamburger Day Review

Image Source: Pixabay

Date Celebrated:  May 28


Memorial Day and the 4th of July wouldn't be the same without a juicy hamburger, so it is appropriate that a national day has been set aside to celebrate this favorite picnic food. There is no official origin for 'hamburger day', but we are glad someone picked out a day to celebrate it. 

Cook your burgers on an outdoor grill or fry them up inside.  Add your favorite fixings and enjoy!  If you add cheese, you suddenly have the popular cheeseburger, which has it's own day (National Cheeseburger Day ~ September 18).





(c) Wednesday Elf

If you don't want to cook your own, or are out-and-about on “Hamburger Day”, then stop by a local Five Guys Restaurant for a tasty burger fixed in a homemade style. 



A Few Hamburger Facts



  • The hamburger was originally created in Hamburg, Germany (thus the name), but eating a hamburger on a bun is an American idea.
  • The hamburger was originally made from ground up meat scraps from cutting up other meats.  First it was made with beef, but today it can be found in other forms, such as ground chicken and ground turkey for those who prefer a non-meat burger.  Other meats, such as Buffalo Burgers, have also become popular. 
  • Seymour, Wisconsin has a 'Burger Fest' each year and in 2001 they made the largest hamburger ever – weighing 8,200 pounds. Burger Fest is held each August and includes a parade, a hot air balloon rally, and, of course, lots of hamburgers to eat. Check out their website Home of the Hamburger for details.
  • Americans eat about 50 billion burgers every year, which equals approximately three burgers a week for every person in the U.S.



Handmade Hamburgers


The title of this paragraph indicates that here I will give you a lesson in making the perfect hamburger patty – so I will.



Image courtesy of Pixabay
Take a ball of meat the size you wish your burger to be.  Some like them big served on large hamburger buns; some like them a bit smaller.  The choice is yours.

Press the meat into a patty, pressing down in the middle and patting in from the sides as you turn the burger around in your hand.  Continue until the patty is even and uniform.  It needs to be a solid disk of meat that is compacted tightly

A tip I read online at EATS – How to Make Hamburger Patties said to prevent the cracks around the edges as the burger cooks (caused by shrinking due to the cooking process), slightly depress the center of the patty when you are finished shaping it to make it thinner in the middle than it is around the edges.  The depression tends to push a little extra meat towards the edges, making an even patty once it is cooked.


More Handmade Hamburgers


Now, since I am a craftsman of handmade items, I shall continue a bit with my 'Handmade Hamburger' theme and show you a few clever handmade items representing this favorite food.


Hamburger Cookies


Homemade Hamburger Cookies
Mona Flood of Orlando, Florida makes homemade cookies.  Her Hamburger Cookies are adorable and perfect for a picnic-themed party or to celebrate Hamburger Day in a fun way. Each cookie is roughly 3 inches in size and is individually packaged in a FDA compliant clear cellophane baggie and heat sealed to ensure freshness and a safe arrival. 

They are a made with a Shortbread cookie recipe, a rich buttery cookie that melts in your mouth.  

The ingredients list is in the listing in her Etsy Shop called Merci Bakery.  Each cookie is individually decorated. 









Hamburger Apron




Handmade Hamburger Design Apron - Etsy
This hamburger design apron is perfect for those backyard BBQs, especially when burgers are on the menu.  Handmade by a crafter from Clare, Michigan and featured in her SweetApronzNCupcakes Etsy Shop, this is an adult size apron made of a black fabric with large hamburgers on it. Some of the hamburgers are singles, others are double deckers, some have bacon on top, others have lettuce and tomatoes.







Hamburger Playfood Crochet Toy



Crochet Amigurumi Hamburger/Cheeseburger Play Food

Kimberlie of Redlands, California created this cute hamburger/cheeseburger play food 7-piece toy for kids who love to play in a pretend kitchen. The set contains 7 separate play-pieces to stack the perfect burger.  They include the Top bun, Tomato, Lettuce, Onion, Cheese, Patty, and Bottom bun. 
All the pieces are soft and squishy, especially the top bun, which has been stuffed with polyester stuffing. 
The entire stacked burger measures about 3.5" tall, and about 3.5" wide. 

It can be found in Kimberlie's Etsy Shop she calls ShopKimberlie.


Related Links:




Handmade Crochet Hamburger/Cheeseburger Potholders Tutorial

And for my fellow crafters, here is a free tutorial to crochet a set of potholders which look like a hamburger or cheeseburger when stacked together. 




Hamburger Month



In addition to May 28th being a DAY to celebrate the humble hamburger, The entire month of May is is known as National Hamburger Month. 

So get those burgers grilling, pile on the condiments, and enjoy National Hamburger Day and Month with a tasty hamburger! 


(c) National Hamburger Day Review by Wednesday Elf







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Friday, May 25, 2018

Wonder Woman (2017) Movie Review

Wonder Woman Movie Review
The new movie, Wonder Woman (2017), took me by surprise.  I didn't expect to like it.  As a matter of fact, ever since I saw the first preview for it in the theater, I have made comments about how no one could ever be Wonder Woman after Lynda Carter.  However, when my son gave me the DVD for Mother's Day, of course I immediately popped it into the DVD player for us to watch together.  I now freely admit, Gal Gadot is fabulous as Wonder Woman and I loved the movie.

I was a teenager during the Wonder Woman television series back in the seventies and I can easily remember how much the guys in school "admired" Lynda Carter.  Admittedly, her costume was too racy for me to want to wear, but everyone thought she was perfect.  In today's world, that Wonder Woman costume seems rather mild by comparison to many of the others that are made for women.

Speaking of the costume, the new costume design for Wonder Woman is pretty awesome.  It seems more appropriate for an Amazon warrior.  While it still has the corset bodice, it is designed to resemble armor.  The gladiator paneled skirt is definitely an improvement.  In my opinion, this costume does give Wonder Woman more credibility as a fighter instead of just a visual feast for men.


Wonder Woman Movie (2017)


 Wonder Woman (2017) -
Available on DVD, Blu-ray, Amazon Video, & More
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I loved the way this movie gave us the entire backstory on Diana, Wonder Woman.  If I ever knew it, I certainly didn't remember it.  That alone made the new movie worth watching.  I also appreciated the historical setting.  From the very beginning, we are able to identify the time period simply by the German insignia on the uniforms.  The soldiers wore the iron cross (WWI) instead of the swastika of the Nazi party (WWII). 

After a few "current day" introduction scenes, we are transported back in time and to the island of Themyscira, homeland of the Amazon.  Diana's mother is the queen of the Amazons and she desires to keep Diana safe.  Defying Queen Hippolyta's orders, the queen's sister, Antiope, starts training Diana as a warrior.  Both women know Diana's true identity and purpose, but the queen wishes to protect her as long as possible.  Antiope wishes to prepare her for the inevitable.  When Hippolyta discovers Antiope is training Diana, she is furious, but after reasoning with her, Antiope convinces her that Diana needs to be trained for war.

When an airplane breaks through the barrier that separates our world from the island of Themyscira, Diana dives into the water to investigate.  She subsequently saves the pilot's life and brings him to shore.  Unfortunately, Steve Treyor's plane is followed by a warship and the first battle of the movie begins between the Germans and the Amazons.  Once the Germans are defeated, the women interrogate Steve.  By using the lasso of truth, they are able to quickly get information about "the war that will end all war".  Recognizing that humanity needs her help, Diana volunteers to take Steve back and aid in the war against Ares, the god of war.  Together, Diana and Steve travel back through the separating barrier and to London.  "Wonder Woman" is determined to fight against darkness and evil, but Diana finds that isn't as easy to identify as she expected.





My Recommendation  - Wonder Woman (2017)


Wonder Woman (2017) is truly a wonderful movie.  I encourage everyone to set aside any preconceived notions about Wonder Woman and watch the new movie.  I think you too will be pleasantly surprised. 



 

 

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Thursday, May 24, 2018

Challenge Yourself to Take Better Photographs

Fuchsia Plant


Review of Tips to Becoming a Better Photographer

In this article I will review tips I have passed on in the past and offer a new tip to challenge yourself to increase your skills. Whether you like taking photos for yourself and your friends or you want to take them professionally there are several things you can do to enhance your skills. Of course the first is practice, practice, practice. But besides using your camera regularly there are many things you can do to become a better photographer.  Here are a few of my favorites.

Take a class on photography or attend a photography seminar.   

 No matter how many times I take classes or seminars, I always come away with something useful.  I try to take at least one class or seminar each year.   There are many different places to find classes or seminars.  Just type "Local Photography classes" into your search engine and you will find lots of choices.  If you are short for time you might try some of the online classes that are listed, but I always try to take one in person at least every other year.  I think sharing with other people you meet at the seminars and classes is a great part of the learning experience.   

Study the work of Photographers you Admire.

A great way to become a better photographer is to study the photos that you enjoy.  There are photographs all around us.  Look in books, check out photos of your friends or look at the many sources online.  I'm sure you've looked before, but have you looked at the photographs critically.  Take the time to examine  a photograph.
  • What makes it appealing to you?
  • Is the lighting good for the subject?
  • What can you learn from the photo?
  • What would you do differently?
Here is a photo I took of a bird in my backyard.  Take your time and examine this photo and answer the four questions above.
Baltimore  Oriole on Hummingbird Feeder
Now try the same four questions on this pot of flowers.
Backyard Flowers

Take a 52 week Photography Challenge.

This year I am taking a photography challenge.  The particular challenge I am taking is on Facebook in a group called 2 Lil Owls Photography Project.  You can find lots of similar challenges online or you and some friends could start your own.  Here is how the challenge works.  We have a list of words, one for each week in the year.  The challenge is to create a photograph using the word.  How you interpret the word is entirely up to you.  This challenge  has you getting out your camera each week and finding creative ways to use the weeks word.  Here are a few of the words we've had this year and some of my photos.
 Window







Path



In a Distance


    Shadows





A few of the other words for the challenge include: large, small, scattered, up close, looking out, red, flowers, fill the frame and daily habit.  Of course there are many  more but this gives you an idea of how it works.

Zazzle

Stop by my Zazzle stores to see my photos on products.Zazzle/mbgphoto




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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Every Dog is "As Good As Gold" : A Review

Can we all agree, every dog is "As Good As Gold" !

I had the pleasure of reviewing a few children's books by author Patricia Furstenberg a while back.  I loved those books with their colorful and quaint illustrations.  The stories were cute as well.  If you want to know more about those books you can read my review right here.

Now Patricia Furstenberg is back with a whole book of poetry that just makes you relax and smile.  Here is my Review:


As Good As Gold is being launched today May 23rd and I'm so pleased to be part of this massive roll out!  This book is light hearted and a delight.  Humans who have had dogs often wonder what their dogs are thinking.  As Good As Gold may give you just a little inkling of what is going on in that mind!  Dogs who are cared for seem to have minds that are always sharp and ready to find the "new and different".  In this book Ms. Furstenberg gives those dogs a voice.  I'm sure when you are reading these words, you will agree, quite possibly, this is exactly what my dog was thinking.


https://www.reviewthisreviews.com/2018/05/every-dog-is-as-good-as-gold-review.html?spref=fb

The poems in As Good As Gold, will make you smile and think to yourself, "Ahhh, that's what was going on in my fur baby's mind!"  

I really enjoyed seeing all things from snowflakes and autumn leaves, to other creatures in the garden, through all these dog's eyes.  What we consider normal and everyday for our puppies and our older dogs, may not be so ordinary and normal.  Maybe we could learn from the excitement of our dogs, a new "wonder" in all the things around us.  Like children our fur babies are busy learning about their world.  

How many times do our fur babies find themselves in "trouble" of some sort?  With the heart of an innocent, these poems written by Pat Furstenberg, bring a small modicum of understanding when they get into something they don't understand.  Meeting frogs and birds, snakes and cats, and many other animals in their "world", makes their innocence even more poignant.  Dogs often they get into mischief or mishaps, just because they are curious.  When that happens, maybe we should stop and think, putting ourselves into their paws (so to speak). Reading this book of poetry reminded me to never lose that sense of exploration or learning something new.  Dogs are masters at teaching us to enjoy the simple things in life and the beautiful things around us.

Some beautiful Haiku at the end of the book will make you settle down with a loving sigh......They are the diamonds to keep you smiling long after you are finished reading.  This is a great book to enjoy with children.  I'm so sure that the children will relate to learning new things just like the dogs are doing.  It's a fun and enlightening read.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Clicking on the blue As Good As Gold in this review will take you to the Amazon link where you may purchase this book if you like!


                                                          OCEAN
                                              Undecided water
                                   Moving between sky and sand.
                                            Lullaby, hush, hush.

                                                                P. Furstenberg (from the book)
as good as gold, pat furstenberg, grammie olivia, review this
                                                                                             picture courtesy of Pexels.com







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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Magnolia Table Cookbook Reviewed

Delightful Recipes To Cook

cooking
Cooking For Family
Joanna Gaines can do more than decorate a home! I would like to review her cookbook Magnolia Table for you all today.

I received this cookbook for Mother's Day this year and was thrilled to get it. I am a huge fan of Joanna and her husband Chip. I have probably watched every single episode of their popular television show "Fixer Upper" at least three or four times. Sure, I love to see how the two work together to remodel a house for a client into a home that the new owners will love for years to come. There is more to it than that, though. I love the example the two give in each episode of two people who love each other. Through each episode they show how a couple can and should be partners in life; they have taken it further by actually being in business together for an even stronger partnership. Their love of family is apparent, too. I greatly admire both of them. 

It amazes me that with all of the different little businesses that Joanna has going plus raising her children (which by the way is about to grow) that she has time to cook at all. Cook, she does and from the recipes in the cookbook I would say she does it well.

Not only does Joanna share recipes that she cooks with love for Chip and the kids but she adds little messages about each recipe. For instance, she tells about how she kept trying to perfect the biscuit recipe until she finally got it right...she knew it was right when everyone in the family voiced their approval. There is a sweet little message about her oldest son Drake going to summer camp and writing home telling her that he missed her and asking for her to make a certain dish when he got home. She shares that Chip loves breakfast and wants the entire family to start their day together sharing breakfast every morning. So, this is way more than just another cookbook!

I haven't had time to try many of the recipes yet but I am working on it. This weekend I fixed the Three Cheese Quiche recipe. Oh my word it was delicious! It was extremely easy to make and filled the kitchen with a scrumptious aroma as it baked. The final test was how would my husband like it. You see, he is a strong "meat and potatoes" kind of guy. He wrinkled up his nose when I said I was making  a quiche so I had my fingers crossed. After his first bite, he remarked that it was good but not with a lot of enthusiasm. I thought, "Well shoot, I guess this will be a recipe that I will make when the kids come home." Personally, I thought it was a slice of heaven. So, when he finished the first piece and asked for a second; I almost fell out of my chair! He actually loved it! I have to admit my eyes leaked a little.

I highly recommend this cookbook for your kitchen. I think you will enjoy making the recipes inside but most of all you will enjoy eating them! This cookbook would be an excellent gift for a new bride or someone who is moving into their first home away from home. I know I love my copy which is even more special because my family made sure that I got a signed first edition. Wasn't that sweet? They know how much I admire Joanna as a woman so they took that extra step as an act of love. Something that I share with Joanna is the love of my family and the joy of cooking for them. 



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Monday, May 21, 2018

Tips for Better Hummus at Home

Smooth and creamy hummus.
I like hummus. I like hummus a lot. A lifetime ago, a friend who was vegan introduced me to hummus. But I could never make my own and have it turn out right. Frankly, I had given up trying. Then while living in Baltimore, my roommate brought home a tip about hummus. Cook the chick peas. Since then, I use that tip to make the kind of smooth and flavorful hummus that I like to eat.

Hummus is a spread made of chick peas, tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and garlic. Tahini is a "Middle Eastern paste or sauce made from ground sesame seeds" (online dictionary). Think peanut butter made from sesame seeds. 


Tips for Making Better Hummus at Home


Cook the Chick Peas.  A few years ago, my roommate came home with exciting news. A person had shared their delicious hummus with him. When he asked what the secret was, the person told him that it was boiling the chick peas and mashing them when they are still warm. I use two cans of chick peas. I dump them into a sauce pan and simmer them until the juice has simmer away. Be careful not to burn the beans (that stinks up the kitchen and is hard to remove from the pan). I then strain the remaining juice off before mashing the chick peas.

Use Fresh Tahini. Tahini comes in a can and is much like peanut butter but with oil floating on top. I only just now learned that oils can go rancid, and this includes the oils in Tahini. Which explains why I once made hummus - using a can of Tahini I found in the back of the cupboard - and it tasted terrible. I thought it was just because I'm not good in the kitchen and the odds of me messing up even the most simple recipe are high.  But in this case, it was the old Tahini. Make sure you have Tahini that was recently purchased. Stir the layers of paste and oil together before scooping out the amount you want.

Use a Food Processor or Nutri-Bullet. If you like extremely smooth Hummus, use a food processor. I use my Nutri-Bullet.  I first use a potato masher to mash the chick peas and Tahini together. I add the additional ingredients and give it all a spin in my Nutri-bullet. The Hummus turns out very creamy and easy to spread or dip. 

There are days that I want more coarse Hummus and on those days, I just mash with a potato masher and stop there.


I don't do recipes. 
For a recipe that is the same as how I make my hummus 
check out this Easy Hummus Recipe by inspired taste. 


Basically, I simmer the chick peas (two 15 oz. cans). Strain the remaining water off. Add around a 1/2 cup of tahini, a squirt of lemon juice, a pinch of garlic salt, and a squirt of olive oil. Tonight I added a can of black olives. I mashed the mix with a potato masher. Then I added the mixture to my Nutri-Bullet with about a 1/4 cup of water. Blend briefly. Tonight I served with a few drops of sriracha and baby carrots. 

Customize Your Hummus


Add the ingredients that you like. I really like to add a can of black olives to mine. I also use a splash of water and use less oil.

Other Hummus flavor ideas are:

  • sriracha
  • cumin
  • roasted red peppers
  • mushroom
  • spinach


Additional Links About Hummus


I like the taste of Hummus. I think it is a great light meal or snack. I eat it on bagels, tortillas, chips, carrots, or pita bread. I don't eat it because I think it is a super food. Some people believe that Hummus is a food that is high in protein, helps with digestion, and is an anti-inflammatory. Others say that claims of high protein are inflated and that Hummus is only high in carbs and fats. If you are looking at Hummus for it's health benefits, please consider both sides of the debate.  Dr. Axe writes on the side of hummus being a very healthy food with many different health benefits, including being a good source of protein. While Jessica Cording writes for Shape Magazine that hummus not only is not high in protein, but IS high in fat and carbs. 

My thinking about the health benefits of hummus are somewhere in the middle. I do know that I love the taste when I make my own and it has to be far healthier than that entire bag of M&Ms I'd eat as a snack if I didn't have hummus. 

Intro Photo: Hummus courtesy of Pixabay under CC0 license




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