Saturday, April 20, 2019

Reviewing the Green Ogre Drink

The Green Ogre Drink - a healthy alternative to your morning coffee
The Green Ogre, photo via LouannesNation
I came across a variation of this drink towards the end of 2018 beginning of 2019.  I adapted the recipe using products I was able to get here in Australia (where I live) and so was 'born' the Green Ogre Drink.   I should also mention that these products are also available in the US, Canada, UK, NZ & Poland as well.

If you follow me on instagram you would have seen me regularly post about this drink as I have it every day.

I would like to have everybody in the world replace their morning coffee with this drink for 30 days.  I think everyone would benefit from it.

Why Should I The Drink Green Ogre Drink?


I should mention here that I am not a doctor or a medical professional, but I believe it can do a lot of things for you such as -

What's the three ingredients in the Green Ogre Drink
  • increased energy
  • increased focus and concentration
  • improved skin
  • and it could even lead you to both time and financial freedom!
Let me break it down for you ...

The Green Ogre drink uses 3 different Arbonne products (this means it's cruelty-free, vegan, gluten free, kosher & non-GMO), the products are - Greens Balance, Mind Health & Fizz Sticks.

We've talked about Greens Balance before as a good way to get more fruit and veg into your diet.   Imagine being able to get 2 servings of your fruit & veg in place of your morning coffee!   Last year I was following a couple of people on Instagram as they did a shot of Greens Balance every day for their skin health and they were really happy with the results.  This was obviously not a controlled scientific experiment, but it does make sense that taking a supplement that includes 37 different fruit and vegetables would help make your skin clearer doesn't it?

Mind Health includes phosphatidylserine & vitamin B12 both of which helps improve your focus and concentration which is the reason so many people feel the need for a coffee in the morning.

Fizz Sticks are the third ingredient and they contain caffeine to give you a boost of energy along with B vitamins which also helps boost your energy levels.

Fizz Sticks also contain chromium which helps to balance your blood sugar levels.  If your blood sugars are balanced then it's easier to keep your energy levels balanced.

Not All Caffeine is Equal


Now some people say, but hang on why take another caffeine drink to replace one that I know I like?  This seems like a fair question, but not all caffeine is created equal.

Let me explain the differences and why you should be substituting the Green Ogre drink for your first coffee of the day (note I'm not saying give up coffee completely, it tastes delicious after all!)

When you drink coffee the caffeine you're ingesting is acidic which can lead to inflammation in your body (not a good thing), the caffeine also causes you to crash after a while which is often when you grab for another coffee or a hit of sugar, or both!

The caffeine in the fizz sticks is derived from both green tea and guarana and the difference is that it is a more alkalized version of caffeine aka it won't cause inflammation in your body.   I've also noticed that it sustains your energy levels much more effectively so that you don't get that 'crash' that has you reaching for another caffeine hit.

I can't speak for you personally, but I've found that I don't need a drink mid-morning to keep me going when I have a green ogre drink.   I do take a fizz stick in water in the afternoon however, usually between 2.30 & 3.30pm which is a long time after my 8.30 - 9.00 am Green Ogre fix!

Are You Up for the Green Ogre Drink Challenge?


I'd love to hear from anyone who's up for swapping out their morning coffee for a Green Ogre Drink for 30 days - I would love to cheer you on and listen to your thoughts.

I do have to close with a warning though - after 30 days you may find you don't want to go back to your morning coffee, I've found I just don't want to live without my Green Ogre drink in the morning!



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Friday, April 19, 2019

Meet Margaret Schindel, Review This Roving Contributor

I’m delighted to be joining the Review This! team, pinch-hitting for our regular weekly and bi-weekly contributors as needed.

My professional writing experience dates back to the 1980s and spans a wide range of topics and formats, from executive speeches to corporate video scripts, training materials, blog posts, white papers and articles. My career began in fashion retailing in New York City, where I started out as an assistant buyer and later took over the company’s executive training program. I have been involved with the Internet since the mid-1990s, when I worked for IBM on their first e-business and e-commerce initiatives not long after Jeff Bezos launched Amazon. Back then, nearly everyone who’d actually heard of the internet was sure it was a flash in the pan, a fad that would last a few years at most. It was the Wild West days of the web – exciting times! I’ve also worked at marketing and public relations agencies.

Designing and making one-of-a-kind jewelry is one of my passions. My favorite jewelry making materials include vintage beads, gemstone beads, Swarovski crystals, polymer clay and silver. I create many of my jewelry pieces using metal clay, a unique form of silver, gold, bronze, copper or steel that can be manipulated in ways that traditional milled metal cannot. I was not only a contributor but also the senior editor and technical editor of Metal Clay Artist magazine.

A lifelong “foodie,” I love cooking and baking (and eating!) and enjoy developing and adapting recipes. I love music and sang in clubs in my late teens and early 20s. My favorite author is the brilliant, witty and prolific British satirist Terry Pratchett, whose hilarious and thought-provoking Discworld fantasy novels have brought me countless hours of reading and listening pleasure in both print and audiobook formats. My husband and I are also big fans of Hayao Miyazaki’s beautiful movies.

Most of all, I enjoy sharing my special finds, from my favorite cookbooks to my favorite jewelry making tools – with others. I’m looking forward to sharing them with you here on Review This! You can also find my articles on HubPages and its sister sites, FeltMagnet and Delishably.


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Thursday, April 18, 2019

On Call in the Arctic - Book Review

On Call in the Arctic
I have been on a medical memoir jag lately, and On Call in the Arctic: A Doctor's Pursuit of Life, Love, and Miracles in the Alaskan Frontier, has certainly whetted my appetite for more.  Part Northern Exposure, part MacGyver, this is the perfect read for anyone who enjoys the kind of adventures that can only take place off the beaten path.  Though the story takes place in the Alaskan frontier of the 1970's, its themes of cultural divides, and racism, along with an undercurrent of hostility, make this a very timely book.

As Dr. Thomas Sims is about to enter his pediatric surgical residency, his status suddenly changes overnight when he is informed that he is about to be sent overseas to serve within a M.A.S.H. unit in Vietnam.  With a wife nine-months pregnant, and a two-year-old daughter, Sims is relieved to be given an alternative.  He can choose to accept a plum military placement as a U.S. Public Health Service physician in Anchorage, Alaska.  Not only does that mean that Dr. Sims can keep his family together, and be stateside for the impending birth of his son, but Sims is also offered the position of his dreams—Chief of Pediatric Surgery in a well-equipped urban hospital.

Perfect, right?  Well, not so fast.  Upon arriving with his family in Anchorage, Sims is shocked to receive new orders to report to Nome, Alaska, where he will be the only doctor in a very isolated setting.  Not only will Dr. Sims serve the remote outpost of Nome, but he will also be responsible for the medical needs of thirteen outlying Eskimo villages. 

This is where things get mighty interesting.  Imagine the shock, if you have been trained in state-of-the-art medicine, to enter a medical world without adequate facilities, with very few supplies, and almost no support.  Not only that, but a major scandal which occurred during the previous physician's tour of service has created the kind of mistrust and prejudice that will make relationship-building almost impossible.

The most fascinating element of this memoir involves the stories of frightening, and yet exhilarating, medical emergencies.  How do you save the life of a patient whose appendix is about to explode when you don't have an operating room, the right supplies, or a surgical team?  How do you deliver a huge baby in distress when a C-section isn't an option?  This is where Dr. Sims has to use a combination of intuition and MacGyver-like ingenuity to save the day.

I can't help but believe his time in the Alaskan bush made Thomas Sims a better doctor.  Medical training in perfect conditions is one thing.  Learning to improvise in the heat of a life-or-death emergency is another.  To be able to master both the art and science of medical service requires a rare gift.  The beauty of this story is in watching that gift emerge.

From harrowing medical procedures, to death-defying bush plane and snowmachine travel in wicked weather conditions, this book has it all.  Though the harsh conditions and interpersonal divides take their toll, On Call in the Arctic is a book that dwells in the miracles that can happen in the midst of hardship, misunderstandings, and the messiness of living outside your comfort zone.

I recommend this memoir to anyone who enjoys living, or living vicariously, the kind of life that takes one to the wilder side of existence.  There is something essential to be gained when we leave the safe confines of a predictable way of life.  Somewhere out there are brave new worlds to be found and explored.

Reading this book is one way to step into a world where the past may inform the future, especially given the common threads between our current societal struggles and those with which Dr. Sims wrestled.  Here's to finding our way to a brave new tomorrow. 





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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Bats, the Good, the Great and Why You Want Them!

April 17, 2019 has been designated as "Bat Appreciation Day" by those wonderful folks at the Days of the Year!  So let's do a review on Bats and why you would encourage them to become part of your backyard and garden areas!

Bats have had a bad reputation for many years and much of it comes from not understanding this mammal and all of it's wonderful attributes.  Halloween, scary stories, murder mysteries and more have used scenarios with bats as a harbinger of bad things to come.  Stories of bats becoming entangled in people's hair and attacking at night have added to the fear many people have when it comes to this animal.  Vampires and other "horror" scenes have reinforced the idea that bats are "bad news". I'm here to set the record straight!


Let's start with what we know about bats!

Bats are found almost everywhere where people are.  If there is a food source around, there will be bats as well.  The only place where bats have not been found is in Antarctica!  

Bat are mammals that hibernate like bears in the winter months.  Once the weather starts to warm up and the bugs come out of the ground, you will if you are lucky, start to see bats as well.  

Bats feed on bugs, fruit, beetles, and insects and there are a few species that will drink blood too  (this is where their bad reputation comes from)!  None of these blood suckers make their home in North America, so don't worry.

Bats eat up to 50% of their body weight in bugs every evening.  Yes, you should re-read that statement.  Bats eat up to 50% of their body weight in bugs every evening.  





Bats are the only flying mammal with great eyesight and the ability to echolocate their food!  No bats don't fly into your hair accidentally.  They have food to locate and eat.  Bat's are evening creatures that do most of their living while we are sleeping.  As morning comes Bats just want to go into a dark place to sleep.


Bat's with their voracious appetite help our farmers cut down on the need to use pesticides!  That is a GOOD thing.  

Unfortunately, Bats are in trouble!  They need our help.  Many bats have been dying because of a disease that is called  "White Mold Disease" and it attacks the bats as they are hibernating.  When they come out of hibernation they are sick and quickly die.  There are many efforts being made to help the bats through this debilitating disease and providing them with clean and safe places to hibernate, is one of these initiatives.

Of all the animals that you can have in the garden (and all of them have a job to do), I would be encouraging bats to find me.  Having a bat box ready for them is step #1.  These are easy to build and can be fastened to a nice cozy dry spot.  Just under the eaves is a great place. 


Here are some books that you can share with your children and get them on board to helping Mother Nature take care of her bats!  You can also build your own Bat Box and see if they will come!  Sitting on the patio in the cool evenings will be a lot nicer for you and your family when there are bats around to take care of all those nasty mosquitos.  It's a win-win situation.




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Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Notre-Dame de Paris Reflections

Mourning The Loss Of History

notre-dame de paris
Notre-Dame de Paris image courtesy of pixabay.com
Today I will be reviewing some history of Notre-Dame de Paris with you. The world watched in horror and shock yesterday, 04/15/2019, as this beautiful historical landmark of Paris burned. Whether you are a member of the Catholic Church or not, the loss of this beautiful cathedral that had survived wars and rebellions for over 800 years was devastating to see. This icon of the city of Paris and the country of France will never be the same. 

Our Lady Of Paris, the English translation of Notre-Dame de Paris, was commissioned to be built in 1160 by Bishop Maurice de Sully. He would never see his dream fulfilled of the French Gothic structure because it took almost 200 years for the church to be completed. It does not appear that the Bishop randomly chose a site for the cathedral to be constructed. He must have felt that there was something sacred about the land, at least I feel that way. A religious structure of one kind or another had been on that piece of ground since the days of the Roman Empire. A Gallo-Roman temple dedicated to Jupiter was the first known structure. Four churches would eventually replace the temple before Notre-Dame began to be built. A 4th Century basilica dedicated to Saint Stephen was the first. In the 7th Century the basilica was replaced with a cathedral for Childebert I who I happen to be a descendant of. Two renovations of the Romanesque style churches followed. The Bishop of Paris, Maurice de Sully, opted to demolish the existing building but did recycle many of the materials for what would become the most popular tourist attraction of France and the city of Paris.

As I watched the soaring red flames lighting the sky of Paris yesterday, one of the factoids by a reporter caught my attention. Something like 52 acres of wood had been used to construct the portion of Notre Dame that burned. It was often referred to as The Forest. No wonder it seemed to be consumed by fire so quickly! The timber had been drying for over 800 years. 

You might have assumed as I had that this historical cathedral belongs to the Vatican and the Catholic Church. The statement of President Macron that Notre-Dame de Paris would be re-built baffled me at first. Why would he be so committed to re-building when the French Government feels so strongly about the separation of church and state? Wouldn't it be up to the Pope to decide on what to do? Well, a little searching on my part revealed the answer. A law in 1905 made the famous cathedral the property of the French state. The Catholic Church is the designated beneficiary with the exclusive right to use the building for religious purposes. The paying of employees, the maintenance of the building, the utilities, security and other expenses are the responsibility of the Archdiocese. The Catholic Church does not receive any subsidies from the French Government. I found that fascinating to say the least.

If you would like to find out more about the history and architecture of the cathedral, there is a wonderful book that you can purchase. 

 They may be able to build a new structure but it can never be what stood before. There are not artisans today like the ones who built the original. The amazing craftsmanship of the past would be very difficult to replicate. 



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Monday, April 15, 2019

Gardening Reviewed on Review This

Treasures from the Archives of Review This!


 Gardening Reviews on Review This! As the winter winds roar away, the spring breezes arrive whispering the names of gardeners everywhere, beckoning them to come out and play. Our contributors respond to those breezy whispers, not only by working in their gardens and flower beds, but also by sharing tips and gardening suggestions here on Review This Reviews. 

We recommend plants, flowers, gardening tools, garden maintenance and care tips, as well as, how to attract and provide for birds & butterflies.  We even feature a bit of gardening decor just for fun. 

Readers have a world of gardening experience and expertise literally right at their fingertips when they visit Review This.  Because our contributors live in a variety of climates, states and countries, we are able to offer something for everyone, just about anywhere.

There are several ways you can explore our gardening articles section. You could click here to see a list of gardening articles on our site directory.  Or, perhaps, you would prefer using the tab at the top of our site labeled "Gardening' which provides an easy drop down list of articles.  Plus, there is Pinterest.  We have a Pinterest board dedicated to our gardening articles shown below that allows you to peruse via images.  By simply clicking the image of the article of interest, Pinterest will automatically redirect you to the published review here on Review This.


Sit back, read, relax and enjoy.  Then, listen for your name on the wind and be ready to respond to the invitation.  For many of us, gardening is the best form of therapy and meditation.  Plus, it yields gorgeous rewards.


Welcome to Our Garden!  



 A Preview of the Pinterest Board - Gardening Reviews 

 There are over 50 Gardening Reviews on Review This! 
This small board features the 30 most recent reviews. 





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Sunday, April 14, 2019

Review of the Death On Demand Series by Carolyn Hart

The “Death on Demand” series acquired it's name from the Mystery Book Store [Death on Demand] owned and operated by the series' central character, Anne (Lawrence) Darling. The stories take place on a fictional South Carolina island (Broward's Rock) located off the coast of the mainland and reached only by ferry boat. 

I only recently discovered this mystery series and am currently reading my way through the entire series of 27 (to date) books.  I had seen Carolyn Hart's name in the library mystery section several times, but had never read any of her books until about 2 months ago. After reading the first book, I became 'hooked'. The characters are charming, the plots interesting, the reading 'light' with humor and good taste and downright fun throughout. 

Although there is usually a murder (or two), it is secondary to the stories of the characters who solve the mystery of the crime. By that I mean there are no heavy details (like blood & gore) to wade through about the actual murder. The descriptions center more on the characters, their backgrounds and the uniqueness of life lived on an island. 


South Carolina Low Country


South Carolina Low Country (Source: Pixabay)

The main reason I love the setting is the author frequently mentions island residents going into Beaufort or Charleston, SC and Savannah, GA, all quite easily reached after taking the ferry from Broward's Rock to the mainland. After having spent years camping at Hunting Island State Park just past Beaufort, having visited Charleston several times and having lived in the Savannah, GA area for nearly 20 years, the author's descriptions of these places is so familiar and such fun to re-visit through the pages of the books. If you have never been to any of these places in the 'Low Country' (a geographic and cultural region along South Carolina's coast, including the Sea Islands) you will find the descriptions of the area delightful).  


Death on Demand



Book One in the "Death on Demand" Series
In Book 1, simply titled “Death on Demand”, Anne Lawrence has returned to the South Carolina island of Broward's Rock where she spent many summer vacations as a child to take over her uncle's mystery book store she inherits after his death. The plot begins with a weekly meeting of island mystery writers at her book store during which one of the writers (the most irritating one) is murdered. Anne becomes the primary police suspect, but she and her boyfriend, Max Darling, investigate and solve what appeared to be a classic 'locked-room' mystery. 

As the Death on Demand series continues, Anne Lawrence marries Max Darling and together they seem to become involved in one mystery after another, often solving them with the help of several friends who are regulars at both the bookstore and in their lives. One of them is Max's mother Laurel. Laurel is often joined by two other older ladies, Henny, a former WWII pilot and former teacher and Emma, a mystery book writer who also  lives on Broward's Rock Island. Max and Anne also become good friends with the island's Chief of Police, Billy Cameron, who is a regular character in the series, along with his wife, Mavis and other members of this small island police force. As I read my way through the series, the characters become as familiar as my own family. 


(Source: Pixabay)
By using a mystery bookstore for her background, Hart has given her characters the opportunity to talk freely about other mystery authors and books. If you are a mystery story fan (as I am) you will recognize many of the book titles and authors mentioned throughout the series. 

Cats play a regular role in the stories too, with a black cat named Agatha (after Agatha Christi, Anne's favorite mystery writer) who lives at the Death on Demand bookstore and a white cat named Dorothy L (primarily Max's cat) who lives at Max & Anne's home.



Carolyn Hart



Author Carolyn Hart
Carolyn Hart, a former newspaper reporter born in Oklahoma in 1936, has been writing books since she left journalism upon the birth of her first child. Early on, women writers were not much recognized for writing mysteries, but with the advent of authors such as Sue Grafton and Sara Parentsky, publishers began to recognize American female authors in the field of mystery.

Carolyn Hart also has written two other regular series, the Henrie O mysteries which features a 70-something retired newswoman, Henrie O'Dwyer Collins, as she travels the country and the world, solving crimes that seem to follow her as she travels, and the very humorous Bailey Ruth Raeburn Ghost series about the ghost of a woman killed at sea who returns to earth via the "Rescue Express" to help her fictional hometown of Adelaide, Oklahoma while trying not to violate the Precepts for Earthly Visitation and adjusting to her powers on earth. 

In 2015, Hart decided that keeping up with all her series and characters was becoming too much, and decided to end the Anne & Max Darling series to give her more time for her Bailey Ruth series.  Instead, as Hart wrote "Anne and Max looked me in the eye and said, “Don’t even think about it!”, so (thankfully) Anne and Max returned. 

Today Carolyn Hart, author of more than 60 novels and one non-fiction book about Oklahoma,  today resides in Oklahoma. She is a delightful author who specializes in traditional mysteries, also known as cozy* mysteries.


*Wikipedia defines 'cozy' also known as "cozies", as a subgenre of crime fiction in which sex and violence are downplayed or treated humorously, and the crime and detection take place in a small, socially intimate community.  

I would definitely classify Broward's Rock Island, South Carolina as such a small intimate community and Death on Demand as a very delightful series. 



Source: Pixabay



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Book Review written by (c) Wednesday Elf (2019)




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Saturday, April 13, 2019

Day of the Mushroom Review

Basket of Picked Mushrooms (Wikipedia)

Mushroom Day, or Day of the Mushroom, is celebrated each year on April 16.  No one appears to know who created Mushroom Day (or why), but it has become quite popular on cooking and recipe websites, 



What is a Mushroom?



Definition per Wikipedia: A mushroom, or toadstool, is the fleshy, spore-bearing fruiting body of a fungus, typically produced above ground on soil or on its food source. 

Many kinds of mushrooms are poisonous. The mushrooms most of us care about are the 'edible mushrooms'.  The most common of these are the white mushrooms or button mushrooms many of us use in cooking. A couple other popular edible mushrooms are the Portobello and the shiitake mushrooms. 


(c) Wednesday Elf

We have always been told that the mushroom is a fungi, but to further classify it, the Department of Agriculture considers mushrooms to be vegetables because they provide many of the same nutritional attributes of vegetables. For a complete history of the edible mushroom, click here.

Celebrating Mushroom Day


There are numerous ways to eat mushrooms and dozens of dishes which use mushrooms as an ingredient. To celebrate Day-of-the-Mushroom you probably should fix a favorite mushroom recipe.

I never ate mushrooms as a child, being a very fussy eater who wouldn't 'try' new things. So it wasn't until I was grown, married and a parent that I was introduced to a mushroom treat that changed the way I thought about mushrooms forever more! 


Crab Stuffed Mushrooms by Small Town Woman

We had moved to the Central Coast of California near San Luis Obispo and a new neighbor invited us over.  There were several appetizers prior to the meal, one of which was a plate of Atascadero Stuffed Mushrooms. Now, Atascadero Mushrooms are well known in the central coast area of California. This was our first introduction to these mushrooms. They look like button mushrooms, but are very large.

Our host had fixed them by cutting off the stems, chopping them and mixing them with crabmeat, bread crumbs & seasonings then stuffing them back into the base of the mushroom cap, sprinkling Parmesan cheese on top and popping them in the oven. The taste ~ unbelievably good. I became a mushroom fan immediately. 

If you want to try your own crab-stuffed mushrooms, this recipe on a blog by Small Town Woman for Quick and Creamy Crab Stuffed Mushrooms sounds fabulous and close to the stuffed mushrooms which won me over to being a mushroom lover.

Mushroom Decor and More…


The mushroom has become so popular over the years, that it is enjoyed in more ways than just as food.  Many home décor items are decorated with scenes of mushrooms and mushrooms appear on wearable items such as T-shirts. 



The mushroom has even become a fun toy item. 


Mushroom Garden Interactive Toy

I love this colorful Mushroom Garden educational interactive toddler toy.  It lights up, has music and fun sounds, and teaches colors and numbers. It also has a memory game. Tots have fun and learn at the same time. 



So enjoy the DAY-OF-THE-MUSHROOM on April 16. 



Related Mushroom Dates:


  • Stuffed Mushroom Day – February 4
  • National Mushroom Day – October 14



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Holiday Review written by Wednesday Elf







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Friday, April 12, 2019

Love's Complicated - Hallmark Movie Review

Love's Complicated - Hallmark Movie Review
While searching for light entertainment last weekend, I came across the Hallmark Movie, Love's Complicated starring Holly Marie Combs and Ben Bass.  Within a few minutes of watching, I knew that I had found exactly what I had been seeking. 

Hallmark is always a reliable source for good movies that usually leave me feeling relaxed, and sometimes even revived after a long day of work and stress.  I know I never have to worry about nudity, excessive foul language, or extreme violence when I turn on the Hallmark channel.  

In a time when movies seem to compete to see which one can be the most extreme, I am most appreciative of a reliable source of mild, lighthearted entertainment that is never embarrassing to watch regardless of whether I am alone, in mixed company, or with my children and parents.  


Love's Complicated Movie Synopsis 


It is easy to like the mild mannered, considerate & compliant Leah in Love's Complicated.   She is the type of person we all enjoy being around.  She rarely, if ever, complains, she does not engage in debates or challenging opinions, she simply goes along happily with whatever others in her life dictate.  Leah doesn't really intend to be a doormat for others, she just doesn't like confrontation.

 Love's ComplicatedCheck PriceWhen her boyfriend of 2 years enrolls her in a conflict management class, she doesn't understand why she would need to be there, especially when she finds out he is not attending the group with her.  Of course, it makes her mad and confused, but she decides to comply with his wishes and attend the sessions.  However, in an unexpected turn of events, she comes face to face with the most annoying people she has ever met.  After all, it was Cinco Dublin who criticized her published book on his radio show, stating that "although well written, Ms. Townsend's safe, Leave it to Beaver take on her childhood, leaves me wanting nothing more from this author, ever."  It is clear from the beginning that Leah has built up resentment toward Cinco and the conflict management class gives her the perfect opportunity to unleash her pent-up emotions. 

The verbal exchanges between Leah and Cinco are revealing about both of their personalities and are often humorous.  They might not be funny to me if I was one of the participates in the conversations, but listening to them made me laugh several times.  

When Leah accepted an unwanted proposal of marriage from her boyfriend, just because she wanted to comply with his desires, and her parents wishes, she finally realizes that she must learn to confront real issues.  Otherwise, she will end up in an unhappy marriage and always letting someone else dictate her life.  At that point, the need for the conflict management classes becomes apparent to Leah.



Additional Thoughts About the Movie, Love's Complicated


While I very much enjoyed this movie and watching a romantic relationship develop, I found I was more intrigued by the concept that conflict management classes were also for people who needed to learn to express their anger, instead of keeping it inside.  I've always thought those classes were for people who lashed out uncontrollably or without an obvious reason.  Recognizing that some attendees might just need to learn how to express their feelings, was rather enlightening for me.



Currently, "Love's Complicated" is available on Amazon with a subscription to the Hallmark Channel.  

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Thursday, April 11, 2019

Dog Medicine - How My Dog Saved Me From Myself - Book Review

Dog Medicine - How My Dog Saved Me From Myself - Book Review
Dog Medicine by Julie Barton
Most of us have so much going on in our own lives that we seriously question reading a book that will immerse us in someone else's unrelenting anguish.  Why would we want to do that?  We already know from reading the reviews that Dog Medicine is going to make us cry.  When reviews use words like raw and brutal honesty, we know we are in for a read that will demand something from us.

Perhaps that is the point.  Could it be that the demanding, heart-wrenching accounts most grow our humanity, our compassion, and our capacity to connect with others in the ways that are most authentic and useful?  In a genre overflowing with I-was-saved-by-my-dog books, what does it take to transcend it — the genre and what cynics would say is the same old, same old story?

Well, here's the thing: this story matters because Julie Barton and Bunker matter.  Without Bunker, the author's Golden retriever puppy, Julie would surely not have lived to write this book.  And this book needed to be written just as much as we all need to read it.

When initial therapies failed to lift Barton out of the deep, dark depression unleashed by long-term childhood trauma, it took the powerful medicine of Bunker—his unfailing solace—to bring Julie back from the brink.

It is in how the author captures the first glimmers of healing that this book soars.
Perhaps what began to save me was that I started creating this sacred, safe space where he and I met.  In this space, there was no ridicule.  There was no doubt or loneliness.  There was no sorrow or anger.  It was just pure, beautiful being.  It was looking at the world with wide-eyed, forever hopeful puppy wonder.
Could it be that we share in vicarious healing in reading about the transformation brought about by the kind of love that can only be known in relationship with a dog that has chosen his human?  Ultimately, I chose this book because I cherish my animal relationships and the healing they bring me.  I deeply related to the purpose Barton found in caring for a dog with special medical needs.  When Julie's broken psyche bound up Bunker's broken body, the result was a unified whole that the two of them could not have found by any other means.  We are all broken in ways that call for us to find our healing in offering up the gift of compassion... in being the sacred space needed by another.

Given my recent launch as a therapy dog team member, I found inspiration in knowing that, like Julie, the good medicine in my life, in the form of my dog Finn, will make itself manifest in the lives of those who enter the sacred space he and I share.  For what is the sacred, if it is not that which exists to bless others?

It is my hope that Julie and Bunker's story will bless you in whatever way you most need at this point in time.  I will close here with a reviewer's blurb that I found compelling when deciding whether or not to read Dog Medicine:
Read it for the voice, read it to savor the power of love, read it to enjoy an inspiring, hopeful story, read it to learn about healing, read it if you're depressed and want to get better, read it if you're happy and want to stay there.  Whatever else you do, read it.  ~Peter Gibb
Yes.  Read it and savor the power of love.




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Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Robert Galbraith's Lethal White Book Review

It is a bit awkward to start with the fourth book in a series but, since that is the one I have just read, that is where I am starting.

It is telling that I waited anxiously for Robert Galbraith’s fourth novel, Lethal White. It finally arrived in in September of 2018 and unsurprisingly, it was a giant book worthy of the wait.

Lethal White follows three excellent detective novels crafted by J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame and published under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.  Cuckoo’s Calling, The Silkworm and Career of Evil were all page turners and Lethal White is more of the same. A lengthy read, complex and interesting.

Set during the 2012 London Olympics, Lethal Weapon covers much ground including political corruption, blackmail, murder, deception, betrayal and suicide.

The series continues with the latest mysteries to be solved by the now two-person detective team at Cormoran Strike’s detective agency. It follows the one-legged detective Strike and his new partner Robin as they solve crimes. Both characters continue to live on the edge financially, personally and professionally and wind up in precarious situations in all three areas of their lives.

Strike continues to live in near poverty in a room behind his office. He’s a disabled war veteran who barely looks after himself in general and, as we are given to understand in the book, his leg in particular. He is an amputee, which makes the physical requirements of his job sometimes difficult and perhaps even more so because he fails to look after his leg properly. If I had one complaint about this novel, it would be Strike’s continued difficulties with his leg. Come on Strike, look after your leg! Yeesh. I don’t look after myself perfectly all of the time but if I had a chronic problem, I hope I would do so better than Strike does his leg.

Robin struggles with her personal life as well as with her new career as a private detective. Her family believes she should not be doing the job she is doing because of the danger element but Robin knows that she has landed where she needs to be. This is the work she has always dreamed of doing but never made an effort to pursue.


Rowling says that she wrote this book while writing a play and two screenplays for Harry Potter’s world. At 650 pages long, Lethal Weapon goes on as Rowling’s books tend to. Some readers wish they could cut out a bit but if you enjoy a well crafted story, you will appreciate the plot, characters and insights given in this novel. As The New York Times says in their review, sometimes more is better than less.

The Guardian’s review says that this book contains much "highly inventive storytelling” and there is no surprise there. J.K. Rowling is a master at doing exactly that.  The Guardian goes on to say that “there is much here for mystery fans to enjoy” and I agree completely on both counts. Lethal White is HIGHLY RECOMMEND by me for you if you love a good, long detective story. You will, of course, have to read the first three books first. You can find all of Robert Galbraith’s books on Amazon by clicking right here.

See you
At the book store!
Brenda

Quick Links:

Robert Galbraith’s Lethal White on Amazon.
More J.K. Rowling reading on Movie Treasures By Brenda.
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Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Best Ever Backyard Birding Tips Reviewed

Want more birds in your backyard?

backyard jay
Backyard Blue-jay image courtesy of pixabay.com
When I first retired one of my first goals was to attract more birds to my backyard. I purchased the book Best-Ever Backyard Birding Tips to help me in that process. I would like to review it for you today.

The book is written by Deborah L. Martin who specializes in gardening and nature topics. I particularly like her easy to understand writing style. She filled 339 pages with tips and illustrations of tips to attract more birds. An additional 17 pages are dedicated to resource pages, an index and a hardiness map. 

One of the tips that I found interesting pertained to water for birds. Now, I knew that birds like a birdbath to drink from and wash their little bodies in but I didn't know about mud puddles. Have you ever noticed after a significant rainfall that leaves puddles and mud in the yard that there are more birds? I always thought they were foraging for worms in the softer ground. Well, that might be but they are also eating the mud. Birds need certain minerals in their diet which they find in the mud. 

Have you ever been tempted to try to knock a wasp nest out of a tree? I am not that brave because I don't want to get stung! I found in the book that it is better to leave it alone and not just because of the stinging factor. If you look closely around that wasp nest, you might just see a bird's nest too. Those stinging insects are actually help to defend against predators that might try to get into a nest with baby birds in it. Now, isn't that cool? 

Did you know that you can place pieces of fruit in your backyard to attract birds? Many varieties of our winged friends love fruit. Try it with a piece of melon or a ripe peach and sit back and observe which birds swoop in for a treat. Butterflies will flutter in, too.

There are 11 chapters covering all sorts of tips on backyard birding. The last chapter even covers some of those lesser appreciated guests that will come to your feeders and yards. Some bird species are more pests than they are welcomed guests and this chapter gives tips about how to deal with them. It also talks about squirrels that although some may think are cute will rob more than their fair share of the food you want the birds to enjoy. Raccoons and other wildlife might also visit, the author gives suggestions on how to let them know that they aren't really on your guest list.

I have learned a lot from the book and still refer to it once in a while. If you love birding in your backyard, I think that you will find it helpful, too.



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Monday, April 8, 2019

Attracting Northern Cardinals

How to attract Cardinals.
I love Cardinals. And frequently see them in the area around my apartment near Baltimore. They are plentiful here. But I rarely see them at The Shack. The Shack is located on a ridge in Northeastern West Virginia. I enjoy birdwatching at The Shack and have been puzzled about the absence of these beautiful red birds at my feeders there. So I reviewed what they are attracted to and am sharing that information here.


Types of Bird Feeders and Seed that Northern Cardinals Prefer 


Cardinals are attracted to the type of birdseed I purchase; mixes with black sunflower and/or safflower. Where I may be going wrong at The Shack is that they tend to prefer platform feeders or feeders with trays. My feeders at The Shack all have the circular openings for the seed.

After studying a bit about cardinals I realized that I already had witnessed that Cardinals preferred to feed from the ground or from platform feeders. A friend had kept a seed block on the ground and the Cardinals had flocked to it constantly.  At The Shack, the most bird seed that ends up on the ground occurs during the process of my filling, flipping, and hanging the feeder. After that process, the majority of the seed remains in the feeder. 


Cardinals Love Trees and Plants with Berries


While I have had some shrubs and trees that produce berries, I don't have a great amount of those plants. I have planted a thornless blackberry plant and plan to plant blueberry bushes. After reviewing what Cardinals like, I suspect I'll spot many more Cardinals after my berry bushes begin to produce!

Cardinals also are attracted to Viburnum shrubs and Mulberry trees. The Viburnum Dilatatum "Henneke" is highly recommended to attract cardinals. Yes, I've just added Viburnums to my lengthy plant shopping list.
Viburnum Dilatatum "Henneke"
Dogwood trees also attract Cardinals. I do have Dogwood trees but they are deep in my woods, at the bottom of my property. Perhaps I have more of these gorgeous red birds at my property than I know. They may stay down at the other end of my land.


Bird baths


Cardinals are a type of bird that "readily visits bird baths". I need to get a bird bath. The water at the top of my ridge is limited. And while I have no way of keeping the bird bath full during the dry months and in between my visits, at least I could fill a bird bath each time I visit. 

I've had my eye on the Stone Age Creations bird baths for a long time. Maybe it is finally time to splurge!
Granite Boulder Birdbath by Stone Age Creations
Hopefully, planting more berry-producing trees and shrubs, hanging a different feeder, and putting out a bird bath will help attract these birds to my yard at The Shack.

*photo courtesy of wikimedia commons/public domain. Photographer: Ken Thomas.

Related Link:

Mary Beth recently reviewed Facts and Photos of the Northern Cardinal. If you like these beautiful red birds, be sure to take a peek at Mary Beth's article.

My online source for bird identification and information: Cornell's All About Birds. The variety of photos and audio clips of the bird's songs are very helpful.


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Sunday, April 7, 2019

Reachers And Grabbers Reviewed

O, the reacher and the grabber - I've known a few!  Reachers and grabbers have become an integral part of this household. The design of reachers and grabbers have evolved through the years to become lightweight, affordable, practical and indispensable!



The Difference Between The Reacher And The Grabber


The reacher and grabber I have found each perform well together, independently but each has a specialty function which is very helpful and practical.

The reacher is lightweight and can be used to easily extend your reach in both directions. Extend your reach down to help put on socks or pick up items off the floor. Extend your reach up to help take lightweight items off a shelf or even change a lightbulb.

The grabber is great for heavier items which require more strength to grab such as canned food in the pantry or medium to heavier items off the floor or under the bed. The grabber also works very well in the grocery store to retrieve items on the top or bottom shelves.


My favorite Reacher And Grabber

I and my family members have tried a few reachers and grabbers through the years and these two are the favorites.

The Duro Med 32 Inch Aluminum Reacher With Magnetic Tip

This is very lightweight, foldable and has a magnetic tip which is invaluable for retrieving small metal items off the floor or items which find their way under the refrigerator. I love the reacher can be folded up with ease to carry with you to the grocery store or store in the car.


Ettore 34-Inch Grib'n Grab


This grabber is heavier than the reacher and it is deceptive as to how heavy an item can be grabbed and retrieved. I call this the workhorse of the reacher and grabber category and many obviously agree with over 4,000 positive reviews!


Why You Need Both!


As I discovered when caring for a family member after hip replacement surgery, not only is a reacher and grabber both necessary devices to help a person perform daily living activities independently, two devices are necessary!

Two are necessary because the reacher and/or grabber somehow tends to wander and miraculously ends up NOT by the immobile person. This happens quite frequently in a two floor home; it is a reacher/grabber phenomenon akin to the missing laundry sock. If you are upstairs, the reacher is downstairs. If you are in the living room, the grabber is in the kitchen. Buy two!


Different Functions


The reacher and grabber I have found each perform well together and independently, but each has a specialty function which is very helpful and practical.

The reacher is lightweight and can be used to easily extend your reach in both directions. Extend your reach down to help put on socks or pick up items off the floor. Extend your reach up to help take lightweight items off a shelf or even change a lightbulb.

The grabber is great for heavier items which require more strength to grab such as canned food in the pantry or medium to heavier items off the floor or under the bed.


Yardwork


The grabber is a cherished member of the yard work team! A true back saver for picking up twigs, branches, debris and even fallen branches. The reacher is perfect to rearrange items on the garage shelves or retrieve items which roll under the car.

Once you own a reacher or a grabber (or both!) it is amazing the different ways each can be used to make your life easier and your back and knees happier! Reachers and grabbers also make very practical gifts a gift recipient will appreciate.


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