Sunday, October 20, 2019

Confessions of a Newbie Self Publisher

Confessions of a Newbie Self Publisher


To help you dreamers out, I'm writing this review about my experience of self-publishing my first paperback book through Amazon.

First off, I'm absolutely a newbie at this; the piles of pulled-out hair beside my desk rests as evidence. 

I'm going to go point-by-point with some of the major issues I faced during the learning process.

Again, this article isn't meant to come across as all-knowing, because I'm not all-knowing on this subject!

However, I did spend hours, and I do mean hours researching and learning and doing and swearing just to get that first paperback book up on Amazon. So from that perspective, I know a little bit more than I did a month ago.

What was most daunting was learning the technical aspects of getting that book up on Amazon.

You writers out there would probably agree that writing the book is the easy part! A few weeks back, I posted an article on getting a Kindle eBook up and running. You can read about that swearing event here. Again, I'm not a guru!! Just sharing my newbie nightmares.

So here we go, point by point on some of the things I learned about self-publishing a paperback book through Amazon:

1. You Need the Paperback Book Templates from Amazon

First, if you haven't already, sign up for KDP Self-Publishing.

Before you get started, go to the Amazon self-publishing help area to get those templates.

Download them, unzip them, then decide on the size you want your book to be. Choose the Template that reflects the size you want. You need the Template because it has all the borders and guidelines you have to follow when writing. While you're in that help area, watch their videos and read all their tips. Good stuff there.

Note: Standard size seems to be 6X9 - For my poetry book, I went with 7X10. There are a lot of sizes to choose from.

2. What Word Processing Program Should You Use to Write Your Book?

There's a loaded question. I must have landed on fifty different answers during those google searches from hell.

I don't have the full version of Microsoft Word on my computer, and I wasn't about to frigging buy it.

So I researched alternatives to Word. I found the common ones people use; one is a free download called OpenOffice.org, and the other freebie word processing download I found is LibreOffice.

I've used OpenOffice in business before but based on some of the comments I read from the LibreOffice users, I thought, what the heck, let's try that one.

So to answer the question, you can use Word, OpenOffice, or LibreOffice - maybe there's more? I dunno.

3. What About Writing and Preparing Your Book in Google Documents

That's the first thing I did before even starting the 'technical aspects of what to do after it's typed." I typed the book in Google Docs. At least I had it there for safekeeping until I knew what the heck to do next!

From what I've learned so far, you can type your book directly into your word processing program using the Template from Amazon KDP, of course! Can you skip the google docs part? Well, I still plan to write my books in google docs and then copy and paste them into the word processing program with the book Template.

4. LibreOffice - Using the Amazon Paperback Templates

I have no idea whether you can upload the Amazon paperback templates into Microsoft Word or OpenOffice. However, I'm going out on a limb and saying, yah, of course, you can.

With LibreOffice, the first thing I did was upload the Paperback Template I needed for the size of the book I wanted to do. At that point, it was a matter of learning the LibreOffice program. If you're familiar with word processing programs, you'll probably be able to muddle through. When in doubt, google those questions, that's what I did in spades.

Since my book was already written in Google Docs, I simply copy and pasted it section by section into the template.

LibreOffice: What I Like About it

When you open the program, your books are there, individually listed as nice sizeable Icons. It was fairly easy to learn, but I'm not a pro at it by any stretch of the imagination (yet).

LibreOffice: What I Don't Like About it

Holy Hannah, who designed the Footer Page Count area - YUK! Very difficult to use. Yes, my mouth needed to be washed out with soap a few times. Some of the comments I made (whilst hubby was laughing) "who designed this part of the program! Are they so self-absorbed with their intelligence that they had to make it complicated?."

Other word processing programs have easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy Footer Page Counts, but not LibreOffice! Yes, the table of contents auto-generates and the pages count properly, but it's the number system in the Footer and where the counts start that cause you to drink lots of wine!

Will I use LibreOffice again for my next book? Yep, I learned so much; I don't want to switch now. But I don't have that page count thing in the Footer sorted out yet! And yes, I watched a lot of YouTube videos on it - still not clear.

5. Prettying Up that Book as You're Putting it in the Template

I decided on font styles, headings, and font sizes. From what I read, consistency was important. However, my book is a Poetry Book, so it's different than a novel. A novel, I would imagine, is more straight forward.

I did quite a bit of research on what the best fonts are to use in books, particularly poetry books. After my research, I ended up choosing the Garamond font. I used that font throughout the whole book. I didn't choose it because it was the best for poetry. I preferred the look of it for easy reading on the page.

My paperback poetry book has chapters and sub-chapters, and also a few graphics throughout. So yah, more convoluted to lay it out.

6. How Should the Sections of Your Book Flow and in What Order?

I googled this over and over. You guessed it, different answers from different people. Being that I wrote a Poetry Book, I didn't follow the traditional page designations that a novel would. Here's how I laid out my poetry book:
  •  First Page inside the Book - Title Only

  •  Second Page inside the Book - Title, Sub Title, Author

  •  Third Page inside the Book - Copyright Page (I googled some content and modified it to suit my book). On the copyright page, you'll include your ISBN number - more about that below.

  •  Fourth Page - The Dedication

  •  Fifth Page - A Summary of the Books Contents (that's optional)

  •  Sixth Page - Acknowledgments

  •  Seventh to Eleventh Page - Auto-Generated Table of Contents (my table of contents ended up being 4 pages)

  •  Twelfth Page - A Chapter Page that summarizes the poetry content for Chapter One

  •  Thirteenth Page to page 136 - The content of the book with all chapters in there (I have six chapters)

  •  At the End: About the Author, with sections on 'Why I Decided to Write a Book of Poems' and 'What's Different About This Book of Poems'

  • My Personal Favorite poems are also listed at the end

  • "Thanks for Reading" was next. The gurus say to ask for a review - um, no I didn't do that

  • Closing Message to My Kids

7. Book is Done, Sitting in Your Word Processing Program - What the Heck is Next?

Logging into KDP Publishing is next. Start your engines. 

Select the type of book you're uploading (Kindle eBook or Paperback). 

Go through each of the areas to fill in the information they ask for (this is before any uploads). Honestly, I just watched a lot of tutorials and tips on how to fill everything in. 

Uploading Your Book:

If you're confident that your book is the way you want it, you can upload it. 

However, to upload your book it has to be in a format that's conducive to Amazon's format. LibreOffice extensions are not. After searching out how to do this, I discovered that you can upload the book to amazon in PDF format. (There are other acceptable formats as well). 

In LibreOffice, to get a pdf extension on your file, you simply go to - FILE - EXPORT AS - and CHOOSE PDF. Save it to your computer. Bingo, you're ready for uploading.

Don't worry if you upload the book and you need to change it for some reason - you can overwrite that upload easily if you're not live. Just don't approve it until you're sure. I ended up re-uploading mine a few times as I discovered some errors. I'm sure there are more I missed, being my first time and all.

Note: The Gurus strongly stress hiring a professional editor to check your book for errors. Yah, I didn't do that either. Are they right about that? YES. It's the smart thing to do. Hire a professional. But again, this is Newbie territory I'm in so of course, I'm not listening. Lol. Down the road, yes, that's something I will consider.

8. WAIT! You Need a Book Cover! OMG

Ok. The gurus say, 'get your cover professionally done.' They're right, did I do that, no. Why? Because it was my first book of poems and, well, I had to be the opposite. Plus, I wasn't ready to spend money on that until I felt more confident about what I was doing.

If you're a graphics guru, by using Amazon's KDP Cover Page Templates (you can download those - google search), you can make your own personally designed professional cover. 

There's no way on God's green earth I could possibly do this in a timely fashion. Yes, I tried. More booze. However, I am thinking of hiring a graphics professional down the road for other books I plan to write. 

Oh, I did create my own cover for the eBook version using the online program, Adobe Spark. But that's not useful for actual paperback books that need high-quality digital print.

Inside KDP, there's a Cover Creator Section.

The gurus say, don't use this! So I did the opposite, and for this book, I used it. It's better to hire someone, but I'm not there yet. Play with Cover Creator; you're not obligated to any design until you finally hit save. Even then, you can still change it if you want. You need a high-quality photo of yourself if you're putting it on the back of your book (at least 300 DPI - that was challenging!).

9. ISBN Numbers

Both eBooks and Paperbacks need them. They're different for each book, and every book. Yes, you can ask Amazon to generate one for you. 

The downside to having Amazon generate one for you is that you can only use that particular book with that particular ISBN number for Amazon. In other words, if you're going to offer your book elsewhere, you would have to get your own ISBN number for those.

So you're wondering, how do I get ISBN Numbers? Right?

Canadian ISBN Numbers:

If you're in Canada, you can go here, a Government of Canada page, and register to have the ability to generate ISBN numbers. It could take a few weeks before you're approved. I thought, what the heck, so I registered. 

I used my own self-generated Canadian ISBN number for my eBook Version. Easy. 

However, what I discovered with the Paperback Version is that along with the ISBN Number, the book needs a Digital Code thingy on the back, and I had no idea how to get one of those through my Canadian ISBN account. I'll learn later. 

So for the Paperback Version, I used Amazon's auto-generating ISBN number. Easy. Just be sure that when you get that number from your KDP Account, you put it inside your book on the Copyright page. Best to do that before you actually upload the book.

United States ISBN Numbers:

Since I'm Canadian, I didn't research this very much. However, from what I read, it seems Americans have to pay for those? Don't quote me on that though; I'm not sure. But, again, you can have Amazon auto-generate the numbers for you.

There's more, but that's enough for today.

In closing, my guiding principle while doing this was that famous quote, "don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." My goal was to get one done.

I'm already onto my next book (It's not poetry, it's not a novel, oh what could it be?) Just a tad addicting.

I hope this helps other newbies, because wow. :)

Here's what my newbie-book looks like - front and back covers.

Available on Amazon (Note: I'm an Amazon Associate, however
the link under this particular photo does not contain my AssociateID)




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Saturday, October 19, 2019

Reviewing a Multi Vitamin & Mineral in Powder Form

Arbonne's whole food multi vitamin & mineral supplement in powder form "dissolvable multi vitamin"
Purchase here
It doesn't matter how good a diet you have when food doesn't have the same level of nutrients in it as it did when our grandparents were our age.   This is one of the reasons why I've always thought of taking a multi vitamin and mineral supplement as a form of insurance - nutritional insurance so to speak.

The other reason is (although I know I've been writing about good nutrition a lot over the past year) because sometimes I don't make the best nutritional choices, I'm only human!  I have a sweet tooth and I also love me a cheeseboard!   Having said that I have been making much more healthier choices over the past 18 months as I've shared with you.

Why Did I Stop Taking a Multi Vitamin?


Now for years I took a multi vitamin and mineral tablet every single day, but I actually started to have problems swallowing them.  The tablets are so big, I can still swallow them if they're the right shape, but when they changed the tablets I used to take and the bottles were dark (which I realise is to keep the integrity of the ingredients intact) and the blister packs were shrink wrapped I just stopped getting them.

Luckily I discovered Greens Balance and this gave me lots of vitamins and minerals each day and I really noticed the difference when taking it.

So Do I No Longer Need a Vitamin & Mineral Supplement?


I still felt that a multi vitamin would've been a good idea, but I was eating well and took greens balance every day along with a good quality protein powder and fizz sticks.   When Arbonne introduced their whole food multi vitamin and mineral supplement I was really happy that it was in a powder form.

I tried it with water first as it was supposed to be tasteless - nothing is tasteless and although I couldn't say what it tasted like I wasn't overly happy with it.   I do have a protein shake at lunch time though so I diluted it in my shake and I couldn't taste it - mission accomplished!

My husband doesn't drink a shake so I got him to put it in a little tropical juice drink that he enjoys drinking and he liked it as well.

How Do I Feel After Taking This Supplement for a Couple of Months?


I don't feel a lot different, but everyone I've been working with has been really sick over the last few months and I haven't been so who knows if it's the multi vitamins or the greens balance or a combination.

What I can report is that I forgot to take them over a long weekend and I did notice my energy levels weren't as high as usual (but I also wasn't doing very much which could have made that difference).

In conclusion I don't know if a multi vitamin and mineral supplement makes a lot of difference, but I do like to take one as a form of nutritional health insurance.  I definitely recommend this powder form over a tablet as I believe it gets absorbed easier and it's a lot easier to swallow than some of the multi vitamin tablets I've had over the years.

Do you take a multi vitamin and mineral supplement?


Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Friday, October 18, 2019

The Memphis Zoo Review

A Zoo You Must See!

The Memphis Zoo Review - Red Panda Photo by Cynthia Sylvestermouse
The Memphis Zoo is definitely worth the drive! No matter where we go on vacation, we always take a day to visit that city's zoo.

From Florida to Hawaii we have visited zoos across the U.S.  By far, my favorite zoo is in Memphis, TN.  

The city of Memphis may be home of the Blues, Beale Street, Elvis, Graceland, Sun Studios and the Mississippi River Bluffs, but I would add the Memphis Zoo to their list of places you must see when you visit. As a matter of fact, if you ask me, it should be at the top of the list!

If you find yourself traveling through Mississippi, Arkansas or Tennessee, I would highly recommend a side trip to Memphis for a day at the zoo. 


Entrance of the Memphis Zoo at Christmas - Photo by Sylvestermouse
Entrance of the Memphis Zoo at Christmas


Entrance to the Memphis Zoo


Before you even buy your ticket and enter the zoo, you are greeted by Egyptian style architecture which is in and of itself a vision.  There are large concrete animals in rows out front where we saw parents taking pictures of their children proudly "riding" the animals.

This is your first indication of the adventure that awaits you inside the gates of the Memphis Zoo.



Tigers in Cat Country at the Memphis Zoo

The Memphis Zoo Review - Tigers in Cat Country Photo by Cynthia Sylvestermouse



Cat Country at the Memphis Zoo


The Memphis Zoo Review - White Tiger Photo by Sylvestermouse
White Bengal Tiger Photo by Sylvestermouse
You Can Learn More about Bengal Tigers at Amazing Wild Animals
This is one of the areas that make the Memphis Zoo spectacular. These gorgeous cats are not behind bars! They are in open fields created to mimic their natural habitat. Believe me, these "cats" can definitely make you feel like you are the prey in an African savanna with just a look.

Cat Country is the home of some of the most beautiful specimen of big cats. In addition to tigers, lions, leopards, cheetahs, and jaguar, this is also the area for a red panda, a gorgeous lynx and a family of meerkats, which are my daughter's personal favorite.

If you want to go on an African Safari for a reasonable price, this is the place for you! 

The Memphis Zoo Review - Meerkat Photo by Sylvestermouse
Meerkat Photo by Cynthia Sylvestermouse
Click Here for Meerkat Facts & Photos


Animals of the Night at the Memphis Zoo


The Memphis Zoo Review - Cacomistle photo by Sylvestermouse
Cacomistle Photo by Sylvestermouse
This is where I first fell in love with a vampire. Step aside "Twilight", the bat was here first!

There are so many wonderful creatures in this house. This exhibit is full of nocturnal animals. I doubt we even saw them all. In addition to the bats, they have an Aardvark, a Mole Rat, a few Porcupine, several different species of Loris, a Sloth, a Wombat, a Cuscus and a lot of other night time beauties. I have never seen a better nocturnal exhibit anywhere.


The Komodo Dragon at the Memphis Zoo

The Memphis Zoo Review - Komodo Dragon Photo by Cynthia Sylvestermouse
Komodo Dragon Photo by Cynthia Sylvestermouse

This dude is huge!  He made me feel like I was on exhibit for him instead of the reverse.

While the Komodo Dragon is not normally dangerous to humans, it was obvious to me that he eats mammals. Ironically, I was not the least bit intimidated by any of the big cats or the bears, but this guy scared the dickens out of me.

But don't worry, he has a gigantic fan club. I'm just not a member. 


Tropical Bird House at the Memphis Zoo


Memphis Zoo Review - Bird House Photos by Cynthia Sylvestermouse
This is another house where we could spend hours. So many beautiful birds and so little time. 

The colors on these birds are so bright & vivid.

Seeing them up close truly is better than seeing them through binoculars. In spite of the fact that I thoroughly enjoyed seeing them up close, I honestly had the desire to set them all free, but logically I know that they are healthy and well cared for by their keepers at the Memphis Zoo.

While there are lots of gorgeous birds behind glass enclosures for one to view up close, the fabulous attraction in this house is the vast open room with trees and water literally filled with birds. The sounds and sights in this area are breathtaking.

This really is a birdwatchers fantasy come true! 

Nicobar Pigeon

(Do you see the little Yellow Headed Blackbird in the background left?)



Hippos at the Memphis Zoo


The Memphis Zoo Review - Hippopotamus Photo by Cynthia Sylvestermouse
Hippos can be viewed daily at the Memphis Zoo. These awesome Hippos recently moved into their new home, "Zambezi River Hippo Camp" 

This section of the zoo also features other animals found near the Zambezi River such as the Nile Crocodile and Okapi.
Memphis Zoo guests are able to enjoy seeing hippos both on land and below water.

Did you know that Hippos are considered the deadliest animals in Africa?  You can find out why by visiting Amazing Wild Animals!


Aquarium at the Memphis Zoo


This is another building one could explore for hours. The Aquarium is home to 156 species of marine and freshwater organisms from around the world.  The Memphis Zoo currently breeds and exhibits two species of cichlid that are extinct in the wild.

If fish, turtles, or aquatic wildlife are your passion, this is the place to be!


The Memphis Zoo Review - Aquarium Photos by Cynthia Sylvestermouse


Herpetarium at the Memphis Zoo


The Memphis Zoo Review - Poison Dart Frog Photo by Sylvestermouse
If I ever lost my son at the zoo, the Herpetarium is where I could find him. This building is literally packed with frogs, spiders, snakes, lizards and small alligators.

While there are plenty of faces crowding around the snakes, I am glad to say that we crowd around the frogs. The colors on frogs are so bright and vivid. It is hard to choose, but I think our favorite would be the Poison Dart Frog.

However, the Memphis Zoo is reknowned for being the first zoo to successfully breed the endangerd Mississippi Gopher Frog.   The Memphis Zoo has produced 93 Mississippi gopher tadpoles, a number nearly matching the 100 frogs still living in the wild.


 

Penguin Rock, Round Barn & Once Upon a Farm


The Memphis Zoo Review - Penguin Photo by Cynthia Sylvestermouse
These are a few areas that little children especially enjoy. My daughter would never allow us to visit a zoo without locating the penquin. She adores the little "tuxedo" babies and believe me, there are plenty of penguin on Penguin Rock.

Close by is the Round Barn, an exhibit of smaller exotic hoofstock and birds. It is the home of the gazelles and warthog.

"Once Upon a Farm" is an exhibit where visitors can learn about the basics of farm life. This area is built to resemble a farm in the 1900's. They even have a working well that pumps up fresh water and everyone can enjoy a ride an old-fashioned train around the exhibit. 


China Exhibit at the Memphis Zoo


The Memphis Zoo - Panda Photo by Cynnthia Sylvestermouse
The Memphis Zoo has built a big, beautiful home for the Giant Panda Bears. 

As you enter through the gates of the China exhibit, you follow a path that leads to Ya Ya and Le Le, but long before you get to them, there are huge ponds of fish, a variety of birds, ducks and several other species native to China. There is even a little Otter. 

No question the Panda's are fantastic, but the other animals in this "house" are fascinating as well. 

The Memphis Zoo Review - Asian Small-Clawed Otter
Learn All About the Asian Small-Clawed Otter on AmazingWildAnimals.com


Primate Canyon at the Memphis Zoo


Primate Canyon is another area that features naturalistic, outdoor exhibits. This large open area is home for a variety of monkeys and apes. Monkeys, Orangutans and Gorillas abound in this exhibit.
Primate Canyon is in the center of the zoo. As a result of its location, you call hear the monkeys howling throughout the park. It opened in 1995 and has been a top favorite of Zoo visitors ever since.


Butterfly Garden


The Memphis Zoo - Luna Moth photo by Sylvestermouse
This extraordinary Butterfly Garden is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. It is absolutely filled with gorgeous flowers graced by lovely butterflies. Some were so exquisite that they didn't even look real, but they were definitely alive.

Not only did we see hundreds of butterflies, but my son found a Luna Moth. Because a Luna Moth has such a short life, it is rare to sight one. Clearly, seeing the Luna Moth was the highlight of our visit to the Memphis Zoo.



African Veldt at the Memphis Zoo


The Memphis Zoo Review - Giraffes Photo By Cynthia Sylvestermouse
The African Veldt is an area dedicated to Giraffes, Rhinos, Zebras, & Elephants.

We were there at just the right time to see the whole Giraffe family. Mother, father & baby giraffe all came out to eat while we were standing in front of their enclosure. While the baby may not be little next to one of us, she was absolutely dwarfed by her parents.

The African Veldt is where the ostrich and the antelope play. Okay, I admit it, this is usually the point where I start singing "home, home on the range."  Seriously, you know those little antelope look like deer.

Oh, well, at least Memphians are accustomed to various styles of musical talent and my family learned decades ago to either laugh with me or to ignore me.

The Memphis Zoo Review
Grant's Gazelles & Bongo Antelopes (laying down)



White-Naped Crane Photo by Sylvestermouse
White-Naped Crane

World of Waterfowl


This area is a more peaceful area than the rest of the zoo. It is aptly named because there are indeed a world of waterfowl!

There are two bridges to walk across and watch beautiful Swans,
Pink Flamingos or a variety of geese and ducks swimming or view a Crane just standing around.

The area around the waterfowl lake is lovely too. It would make a great background spot for photos. I have often imagined a wedding party enjoying this wonderful opportunity for outstanding and original pictures. Or, perhaps, an anniversary party.

Like all of the photos in this article, the picture of the White-Naped Crane is from my own personal photo album. I was thrilled to be able to snap this shot! 


Northwest Passage at the Memphis Zoo


Memphis Zoo Review - Polar Bear Swimming Photo by Sylvestermouse
He is Almost Close Enough to Touch!
Another one of my favorite exhibits at the Memphis Zoo is the Northwest Passage. In this exhibit there is an air conditioned, indoor viewing area where you can watch the Polar Bears swim. There are even a few stadium benches for you to sit and rest a while.

The Polar Bears are beautiful. Who would ever imagine such a large bear could be so graceful when it swims? These giant animals seem so playful and cuddly when you have a thick piece of Plexiglas between you and them. What a magnificent way to enjoy the company of bears.

Northwest Passage is also the home for the sea lion observation bubble and a 500-seat amphitheater for daily sea lion shows.
Outside the viewing area, are the Bald Eagles and the Ravens. Both of my children "talked" to the Ravens and they answered. They are beautiful, majestic birds with attitude.

This is also the area of the Black Bear. I loved this beautiful, big pawed, pacing baby! I would swear he was waving to me every time he lifted his big paw to turn around. 

I've been back to the Memphis Zoo several times since this photo was taken.  I always go by to visit this guy.  I think he is probably my favorite animal in the zoo.

The Memphis Zoo Review - Black Bear Photo by Cynthia Sylvestermouse


Teton Trek at the Memphis Zoo


The Memphis Zoo - Teton Trek Building Photo by Sylvestermouse
Home of the real Memphis Grizzly! 

In February, 2008, the Memphis Zoo began construction of the zoo's gorgeous Teton Trek exhibit. The four-acre Teton Trek exhibit is now home for animals native to the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem such as Grizzly Bears, Elk, Gray Wolves, Trumpeter Swans and Sandhill Crane.

I was among the guests at the Teton Trek in the Memphis Zoo the very first week it opened. Let me tell you, it is the most beautiful zoo exhibit I have ever seen, arguably the most beautiful in the world!

The entrance to the Teton Trek lodge is not only inviting, it is charming with a rustic appeal befitting it's occupants. A lovely 25 foot geyser greets visitors and even allows children, or adults, to cool off in it's spray and surrounding pool.

The Great Lodge, itself, is a two-story, 5000 sq. foot multi-purpose building suited for a gathering or dinner party and features a fabulous large fireplace. A spacious upper mezzanine provides a photo and artifact area that leads to a outside deck for animal viewing at a safe distance.

The Memphis Zoo Review - Teton Trek Lodge Photo by Sylvestermouse


For the truly adventurous, you are free to walk around the actual grounds via the boardwalk. It is extremely safe, so fear not! Don't miss the opportunity to walk through the entire park.

The Memphis Zoo Review - Grizzly Bear Photo by Cynthia Sylvestermouse


Read More about the Teton Trek at the Memphis Zoo

  • Teton Trek at the Memphis Zoo
    I absolutely love zoos! My all time favorite zoo is in Memphis, TN. They have been improving and adding new addtiions to the Memphis Zoo for years. Every time I go, it is like a new adventure. Their most recent addition, called Teton Trek,...



The Photos in this article are the Exclusive Property of ©Sylvestermouse.
Please Do Not Copy, Reproduce or Use the Photos without the written permission of Sylvestermouse Cynthia.

Many of the photos are available for purchase at Zazzle.com if you would like to own a legal copy.

The Photos by Sylvestermouse Available for Purchase at Zazzle.com



 
Thank you for stopping by!
Do Come Back and See Me Again!

© 2009 Cynthia Sylvestermouse - This Article was originally published on a website that has closed.


Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Thursday, October 17, 2019

Final Gifts Book Review

Read More Five-Star Reviews
Though it is not rare to encounter individuals who speak multiple languages with great fluency, it is less common to find someone who understands the unique language of the dying.  Too often the gifts that are offered up in the final days of a loved one's life are missed because of the symbolism that may be mistaken for confusion.

Hospice nurses, Maggie Callanan and Patricia Kelley, share with us, through moving personal stories, how individuals near the end of their lives communicate in often cryptic ways.  When we learn how to listen more closely, and through the filter of what has held meaning for that individual, we may enter into the grace and beauty of the Final Gifts they are offering us.

I can understand if you are sitting here wondering why anyone would want to read about death and dying.  It's not as depressing as you might imagine.  I've found it to be quite the opposite when you find compassionate authors who want to offer their readers the kinds of gifts that make it possible to be what a dying person needs them to be.

What Callanan and Kelley have learned over the years is that their patients enter a stage they call Nearing Death Awareness.  While in this critical phase, it is not unusual for people to know exactly when they will die.  We see from their stories that clues are being given to family members to help them get ready for an impending transition.

For instance, someone who always enjoyed traveling with his partner was expressing the following: I need my ticket.  It's time to get in line.  Where's my passport?  This was the indication that he was soon to depart on his final journey.

The patient who always celebrated his July 4th anniversary with a sparkler cake confused his family by saying it's time to get the cake in June.  He knew he was going to miss his anniversary, so he wanted everyone to celebrate early.  These pronouncements are important, but easily missed when chalked up to the stupor of pain medications, or the confusion of being deathly ill.

By becoming more aware of how the dying communicate their needs and desires, we can better support leave-taking on their terms.  By doing so, we are opening up the gifts they have lovingly chosen for us.  And, we are offering up the gift of honoring the wishes that help bring peace at the end of life.

ALSO HIGHLY RECOMMENDED:  Final Journeys














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Wednesday, October 16, 2019

You Can Stop Colds From Ruining Your Day, A Health Product Review

The Seasons are changing again.  We just has the most beautiful Full Hunter's Moon over the weekend and Fall colors are being painted on the trees!  It's time to think about how to keep ourselves healthy during cold and Flu season.  I have already tasted the first snow fall during my holidays, so I know that the dreaded sniffles, coughs and colds are just around the corner.  This year I will be ready to tackle the colds before they get a chance to ruin my fall and winter.

Let's review some interesting facts about colds and flu! Then let's become ambassadors for eliminating many of the common reasons that colds seem to spread.
Did you know:


  • Colds are minor infections of the nose and throat caused by more than 200 different viruses...
  • A cold may last for about one week, but some colds last longer, especially in children, the elderly and those in poor health.
  • In the United States, colds account for more visits to the doctor than any other condition.
  • Adults get an average of two to four colds per year, mostly between September and May.
  • Young children suffer from an average of six to eight colds per year.
  • Colds are highly contagious.  They most often spread when droplets of fluid that contain a cold virus are transferred by touch.  These droplets may also be inhaled.
Colds and flu are one of the most preventable diseases that afflict our society. ** The American Lung Association



How to Avoid Catching a Cold or the Flu


The #1 way to keep from getting a cold or the flu, is to wash your hands.  Wash them every time you are out and come back home.  All hard surfaces like door handles, shopping carts and counters are breeding places for cold germs.  Even breathing next to someone who has a cold can be the reason you get sick.  Covering your mouth and nose with a handkerchief when sneezing or coughing is advisable.  If you don't have a Kleenex handy, then cough or sneeze into your bent arm.  The germs will land inside your elbow and not on your hands.

Using your hand as a shield only makes it worse because now everything that you touch is germ laden.  Don't do that!  

When I was working in the hospitals, they encouraged everyone to use the hand sanitizers often.  It worked well in that environment and I know that they would work  well in your family too.  Have some hand sanitizer in your purse or backpack at all times.  Train yourself to keep your hands away from your mouth and nose.  If you must touch your own face, use sanitizer before you blow your own nose or wipe your eyes.  When you get home wash your hands well.  




If you still manage to get a cold after all of the precautions have been taken, make sure you have some gentle, but effective Vicks VapoRub on hand to help with breathing and keeping your nasal passages open.  This happens to be my favorite brand, but there are others.  Or you can also get herbal rubs to help with breathing and sinuses.  Eucalyptus and menthol are the active ingredients in most rubs.


Keep Kleenex or paper hankies available and if your nose is really sore from wiping and blowing, have a good scent free lotion or cream to keep the skin moist. 

If your cold is bad enough, please learn to stay home until you are feeling better.   Grab your favorite blanket and teddy bear and just rest.   Work will get along without you for a day or two.  Even your boss would rather see you at home, getting better, than coming in to work to make everyone else sick. 

Because the average cold is a virus related illness, there are no magic pills that will make you feel better.  Treating the symptoms is your only way to the road to recovery.  Drink lots of fluids to keep you hydrated.  Even if you lose your appetite, you should eat healthy meals.  Soups and stews are great comfort food and easy to down with a sore throat.  Taking a good multivitamin even when you are healthy is a good idea.  

If your cold seems to be getting worse instead of better, then you might want to give your doctor a call.  If you have problems breathing, pain in your chest, high fever or pain in your ears, then a trip to the doctor is a good idea.  Sometimes a simple cold can lead to other ailments that will require medical help.  

I hope that knowing the facts about colds and flu help you and your family get through the coming winter months! 

***Olivia is not a medical practitioner and this information is for your benefit.  If you are sick and not sure if it's a cold or a bacteria infection, call your doctor!


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Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Popsocket Review

Handy Tool For Cell Phones And Tablets

Let's review a popsocket today. Chances are you have at least seen a popsocket but you might not have known what it was. Basically, they are a type of grip to attach to your cell phone or even your tablet. Of course not all grips are Popsockets but a whole lot of them are.

popsocket
This woman must not have a popsocket on her phone
image courtesy of pixabay.com

These funky looking discs attach to a phone for a variety of uses. Probably the most popular use is for having a better grip on your cell phone making it less likely to drop it. This comes in real handy if you are the type who likes to carry your phone in your hand instead of your pocket or purse.

People who like to take selfies say the popsocket allows them to hold the phone better for snapping that shot. I'm not one that takes a lot of those so I don't know whether it makes it easier or not.

Popsocket and other brands


Not all of the brands of grips perform like the little popsockets. The uniqueness of this brand is that it is collapsible. It can go flat and then pop out once and then once again in an almost accordion like fashion. I like that you can collapse it when you want to place it flat on a surface and when you want to put it in your back pocket. If it is sticking out an inch or two in your pocket it might look rather alarming to someone behind you. 

You can completely remove the popsocket when you want to. The adhesive is reusable. This comes in handy if you want to re-charge your phone with one of those wireless chargers. There might even be a reason to remove it in order to place it in a different place on your phone. 

Why move it around? Well, another use for the popsocket is that you can use it like a stand. Yep, you can prop your phone up for hands-free time. I don't watch many videos on my phone but a lot of people do and with a popsocket they can prop their phone up on a desk or tabletop and watch without holding on to the phone. I would imagine this would be really nice if you are watching a movie on your phone; I would think you hand would get stiff having to grip for so long.

I even saw an example where someone used two of these handy little discs on the back of their phone to wrap the cord neatly from their earbuds. I thought that was pretty clever! 

Lots of choices

Another really fun thing about these little grippers is that you have a multitude of choices in how they look. You can keep it simple or you can find one that is suited to your tastes and personality. There are colorful ones, elegant looking ones and of course whimsical ones. Some can even be personalized to have a saying of your choice on yours. They aren't very expensive so you could pick one or two and switch them out as your mood changes. 

Personally, I think they would make a great little stocking stuffer for people on your gift list. How about you? Have you got a popsocket?



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Monday, October 14, 2019

My Favorite Hallmark Couples Reviewed

Hallmark has become synonymous with the light romantic comedy with a family friendly happy ending - is that a bad thing?


Ah yes, I have seen quite a few Hallmark movies and through the years a few actors have hit upon a winning chemistry and their movies spurred sequels. Yes, Hallmark fans are aware the story lines are romantic, perhaps formulatic. Long lost loves reuniting is a frequent theme - and we are ok with that! Opposites attract and fall in love - and we are ok with that! The commoner and the royalty fall in love at the palace - and we are ok with that!

Enjoy a few of my favorite Hallmark couples and series; bookmark these movies for a nice two hours of happy entertainment.

Lacey Chabert And Brennan Elliott

The All My Heart series:

This duo have been dubbed the Hepburn And Tracy of The Hallmark Channel and their chemistry and comedic timing are evident. The All Of My Heart series began when both inherited a run down country inn; although neither knew each other prior to the inheritance.

Different worlds and different goals collide as they decide to renovate the home into a Bed And Breakfast.

Travel along their humorous journey of inn renovation when roommates turn into soulmates.

 All Of My Heart
All Of My Heart: Inn Love
All Of My Heart: The Wedding

and now teaming together on the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Channel in Crossword Mysteries.

Jack Wagner And Josie Bissett


Seventeen years after Melrose Place and this duo has teamed up for The Wedding March Hallmark movies.

Mick (Jack Wagner) and Olivia (Josie Bissett) are college sweethearts who unexpectedly meet when Olivia's daughter books her wedding at Mick's charming country inn. Of course Olivia's daughter had no idea of their history and the inevitable sparks of unresolved sweethearts begin to fly.

Once again it is the chemistry that is difficult to ignore as the romance progresses. The quips and banter is witty and natural just as one would expect with long time friends and former co-workers.

The Wedding March Series
The Wedding March:
The Wedding March 2: Resorting To Love
The Wedding March 3: Here Comes The Bride
The Wedding March 4: Something Old, Something New

Rachael Leigh Cook And Brendan Penny

Enter the gorgeous scenery of wine country as this couple navigates competing family run wineries and learning to love their craft and each other along the way.

 The In the Vineyard series highlights the witty banter, competitive humor and likability of the couple.

Add to the mix the very different ways each approaches the business of the vineyard and each other which allows the chemistry to shine.

In The Vineyard Series
Autumn In The Vineyard
Valentine In The Vineyard
Summer In The Vineyard




There are of course more favorite Hallmark movies, click here to find my Top Ten Hallmark Christmas movies.




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Sunday, October 13, 2019

Hurricane Style Lamps - An Outstanding Vintage Heirloom Look

Hurricane Style Lamps - Vintage Heirloom Look
I've stayed a fan of unique lamp designs my entire life. Standard lamps, those we see just about everywhere, are lovely as well. However, there's something incredibly gorgeous about adding a lamp that's not like anything you typically see.

Unique lamps, especially those with a vintage feel, can fit with any decor, even contemporary. If your decor style is to bring amazing pieces into a room, vintage lamps, especially Hurricane Style Lamps, meet that criteria.

Back in the 1980s, when we purchased our second home, lamp selection was a meticulous process for us. I'll never forget the moment I noticed the outstanding, custom hand-blown glass Hurricane Lamp featured on this page. We purchased two, and they're still front and center in our home. No matter how often styles have changed, this design has stood the test of time.

What Are Hurricane Lamps
Hurricane Style Lamp
Custom Hand-Blown Glass

The oil lamp eventually became the Hurricane Oil Lamp invented by Francois-Pierre Aime Argand in 1780. The invention of the glass insert protected the flame from the wind and elements. Over the centuries, Hurricane Lamps progressed in design from oil to electric. 

However, a Hurricane Lamp describes the style of a lamp, and styles can vary. Glass designs and shapes can differ quite a bit. You'll notice when online shopping just how vast the choices are.

The lamps we purchased are similar to Quoizel Lamps. Their style, of course, is vintage Hurricane. They've worked in the main rooms of the home as well as the bedrooms. 

Over the decades they've traveled with us from home to home, and we plan to keep them in the family. They're quite substantial in size, approximately two and a half feet in height.

Where Can You Find Similar Hurricane Lamps

I haven't seen any that match ours. However, I have come across a Quoizel Lamp that is close in design. It's slightly smaller in size, but still lovely. You can view it here on Amazon.

Happy vintage ambient lighting!







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Saturday, October 12, 2019

Ace Hardware Store Review



Celebrating 95 years of service

History


In 1924, a small group of hardware store owners in Chicago banded together to buy merchandise in bulk for their individual stores. This allowed them to save money by purchasing at the lowest possible prices, enabling even the smallest stores to compete. This was the beginning of the Ace Hardware Corporation. To this day, each store is owned solely by local Ace retail entrepreneurs.


Background




Today there are over 5,000 Ace Hardware stores around the world. These men and women owners are each part of your local community. As small business owners, they live and work locally and are knowledgeable about their store products and also about the local businesses and their needs. That's why they say a visit to Ace is like a visit to your neighbor. Customers call the owner by his/her first name and the employees know the names of all their regular customers.    



Ace is the Place


Ace stores are all sizes and shapes. Since 2016, I have worked part-time at two widely different sized Ace stores, yet they are basically the same; serving the needs of their local communities. 




I worked for a very large Ace store (Islands Ace) located on the islands East of Savannah, Georgia. This Ace serves local residents and many businesses and contractors. Currently I work for a small Ace store (Jerry's Ace) in a small town located just north of the Quad Cities in Iowa. While this Iowa Ace does not carry the large lots of lumber, or decorative paving stones for patios or the large gardening center that the Georgia Ace does, it meets the needs of the local residents and businesses.  

As with all Ace stores, you will find a wide variety of paint, lawn and garden, tools, and just about anything you'll ever need to fix, repair and maintain your home and yard.  If your local store does not have an item in stock, they can order it for you from AceNet, the online website. You can also order online yourself and arrange to have the item picked up at your local Ace Hardware. All Ace stores order from central warehouses and usually have deliveries of new products arrive once a week. The staff at your local Ace calls the arrival "Truck Day". Unloading and restocking keeps us busy. 

They also offer local niche services. For instance, the Georgia Ace I was with before my move to Iowa had the space for a gift department and a clothing department. Located just 10 miles from the Atlantic Ocean and the beach, their clothing department carries a variety of beach-related clothing and their gift department has locally made merchandise from the Savannah area. This Iowa Ace offers fishing and hunting licenses for local residents. Our Iowa Ace also carries snow blowers and snow shovels and other seasonal items not needed in Georgia! 

As you can see, any Ace store will be based on the needs of each individual neighborhood. Ace Hardware stores are most certainly the place with the 'helpful hardware folks!  Ace is such a 'friendly' place and a 'helpful' place, especially compared to the large, impersonal big stores. 


95th Year Birthday Celebration




On October 19, 2019, Ace Hardware will celebrate 95 years of service. Your local Ace Hardware stores will be offering special sales and events to celebrate. Come visit on October 19th, or any day you need a tool or a can of paint or a part for anything around your house or yard. You won't be disappointed. 



Ace is the Helpful Place! 


Quick Link:

Ace Hardware Website


(c) Wednesday Elf review of Ace Hardware Stores. (10/12/2019)




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