Monday, September 30, 2019

Book Review: Chasing a Flawed Sun by Daniel McGhee

I thought I knew about addiction - how addicts think and behave. I thought I knew a good bit about how heroin is sold and bought in the streets of Baltimore. After reading Chasing a Flawed Sun, I realize I didn't even know what amounts to a single drop of water in a Chesapeake Bay-sized bucket.


Reviewing a must-read book - Chasing A Flawed Sun.


Daniel McGhee put his story on paper for all to read. And I was hooked as soon as I started the Before You Read This Book section:


"I had chosen not to jeopardize the integrity of the stories by watering down the language or vividness of the events that occurred. While reading, keep in mind that there is a happy ending, eventually." - Daniel McGhee

Daniel tells us that he was a small, shy child being raised in the suburbs by good parents. As an adolescent he smoked, painted graffiti, and was attracted to the negative pieces of pop culture. He was fighting, stealing, and by the time he was 15 he was drinking nightly. Daniel goes on to describe troubles that are every parent's nightmares: multiple school suspensions, police involvement, and getting that call to pick up your child from the station after he was involved in a shooting.

The story goes on to describe his transition from crimes and alcohol use to crimes and heroin use. I was completely caught up in this story. I recognized the small towns (Bel Air and Edgewood) where Daniel lived and the areas of the city Daniel went to buy heroin (Poplar Grove, Edmondson, Cherry Hill, Orleans Street). I was astounded at how many people - some of them functioning and holding down jobs - are in the middle of heroin addiction. All around us there are people whose sole focus is how to get their next high. And how after awhile, it's no longer a high. It is only battling off the sickness and getting well again.

The largest portion of the book describes the relentless pursuit of the drug and the things addicts will go through in order to get well. It is eye-opening and not easy to read. It describes Baltimore City and some of the common, everyday sights and sounds of an urban setting.

At the end of the book, Daniel describes how he's doing now. I think this is a must-read for anyone who is using, who loves an addict, or who works with addicts. I think it is also a must-read for anyone who works with troubled teens and pre-teens.





What I thought I Knew about Baltimore and Drugs


When I moved to the Baltimore area, my first job was at an adolescent group home. I worked with males from ages 13 to 18. All of them had stories about drugs. Most began to use around age 11 (smoking weed with relatives or friends) and then beginning to sell for the dealers in their neighborhoods by age 13 or so in order to earn money. They taught me about some of the "ethics" of being a dealer. For example, I once asked two of them, whose mothers had died from overdoses, why they would sell to people who may die. Especially after their mothers had died. One young man was offended that I'd ask if he would sell to his mother. He patiently explained to me that he'd never sell to his own mother. That's just wrong and offensive to sell to your own mother. But he'd sell to his friend's mother (gesturing toward the other young man). And vice versa. After all, they explained, it's about the money. It's just business. But you do not sell to your mom.

With that job, I did home visits and family therapy in all parts of the city including Poplar Grove, North Ave, Walbrook Junction and some areas "over east" that I can't recall the names of at this moment. All areas that some of my co-workers (originally from Baltimore) stated they'd never go and that I was crazy to go there.

I went. Doing my job. The white lady in certain sections of Baltimore. I never understood why groups of people yelled things like "Sheryls" and "new ones" at me. Back then, I thought they were mistakenly identifying me as the police and alerting people to my presence. Thanks to Mr. McGhee, I now know why they were yelling those things at a white woman in their neighborhood. 

Later in my career, I was visiting with a young man as he pan-handled on the corner. He was a young combat injured veteran. He was neat, clean, well-spoken and homeless. Homeless due to complications with his combat injury. I was trying to connect him with services for veterans. I had no clue that he was a heroin addict. Then he disclosed that bit of information to me. He was discharged from the army after his injury with an OTH (other than honorable) discharge due to beginning to use street drugs after his prescribed pain medications were no longer enough. He eventually became addicted to heroin and panhandled daily in order to get enough money to buy his daily fix. This young man taught me about the focus on "getting well", how even gift cards can be pawned, and that clean needles are sold by diabetics who can buy needles without judgement by pharmacy employees. 

But even with this education, I had no real clue about how many addicts are around us. That there are addicts working at jobs and going about their daily lives until the addiction gets too demanding. And that there are many addicts on the beltway with me each day, driving into the city to chase their sun. 


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Sunday, September 29, 2019

5 Positive Energy Home Decor Ideas - Keep Your Home Calm to Carry On



There are multiple ways to encourage positive energy in your home. The most common technique is to implement Feng Shui principles. 

However, today we'll focus on simple positive energy decorating symbols to incorporate into everyday pieces.

1. Butterflies

Butterflies symbolize renewal, hope, transformation, spirituality, and growth. 

If you or other friends and family members survived challenging times, then to symbolize transformation, feature butterfly decor pieces. If larger items aren't your thing, add small decorative pieces such as butterfly mugs or candles.

For larger impact butterfly decor ideas, you could include a unique butterfly area rug or check out these incredible butterfly sheer drapes. They're gorgeous!

2. The Dragonfly

Like the butterfly, the dragonfly also symbolizes transformation. However, this symbolic transformation is usually in the area of spiritual and mental growth. 

When you want pieces that encourage the advancement of the soul, add dragonfly decor. Here are a few ideas; dragonfly throw blankets, pillows, wall art, and bedding. 

For an especially unique dragonfly piece, check out this colorful and gorgeous Tiffany Dragonfly Lamp!. 

3. The Lotus Flower

The Lotus flower represents sacred creation, divine birth and advancing spiritually. If you're trying to conceive, you may want to consider a gorgeous Lotus Bedding set. In fact, add Lotus items sporadically throughout the home. 

4. The Bluebird of Happiness

Yes, it really is an ancient symbol of cheerfulness, good health, and prosperity. When you'd like to enhance the mood in a room, include the bluebird of happiness in decor pieces. Since people gather in the kitchen and family rooms, that's an excellent place to feature the birdie. Display the bluebird in dishware, mugs, a wall clock, or this magnificent piece of wall art.

5. The Peony Flower

Peonies are the symbol of romance, a happy marriage, compassion, and wealth. To take advantage of these traits, feature Peony home decor items in the bedroom.

You've probably noticed that most of the symbols are intertwined in their meaning. However, there are differences. Use those subtle differences to determine which room each one belongs in.













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Saturday, September 28, 2019

The Golf Miracle Trilogy by James Patterson – Book Reviews

Featuring Travis McKinley

American author James Patterson has written almost 50 books in his best-selling writing career, many in series starring continuing characters who have become favorites of readers everywhere.

About a dozen years ago I picked up a small, quick-read book about a character who liked to play golf. I can't really say why I chose this book because I am not a golfer; in fact, have never even been on a golf course in my life.  But I like most of James Patterson's books and this was one I had not read. And I have golfers in my family and once lived in Augusta, Georgia (home of the Masters Golf Tournament), so a golf story wasn't that far away from the subjects I usually read.  

The book was “Miracle on the 17th Green”. Reading it, I became absolutely entranced, liking the story and the character (Travis McKinley) very much. It is a 'feel-good' type of story that leaves you with a sense of wonder. 

Shortly after finishing the book, my brother-in-law was visiting our home. George is about as close as you can come to a non-reader ~ someone who seldom reads anything more than an occasional magazine. But he is a golfer, so I gave him this book to read, thinking he might enjoy it.  Well, he couldn't stop reading and finished the book in a single afternoon. Even if you don't enjoy reading books, this one will capture your attention and give you pleasure. 

The feeling that book gave me stayed with me over the years and I was delighted to discover that James Patterson went on to write two more books in the 'Miracle' golf series.  I have now read all three and the synopses of this trilogy follow:


Miracle on the 17th Green


The Golf Miracle Trilogy by James Patterson
Miracle on the 17th Green

Travis McKinley is a middle-aged man whose life has reached a strange point. His job is about to be down-sized, leaving him out of work, plus he has been feeling an uncomfortable and distant disconnect with his wife and children. 

On Christmas Day Travis decides to play a round of golf while he thinks about the direction of his life. Something amazing happens that day on the course. He suddenly finds himself “in the zone”, playing like a pro for the first time ever. This becomes the beginning of an incredible adventure where Travis tries out for and is selected to play golf as an amateur on the Senior Tour.  As the tour continues, he finds himself qualified for and playing in the Senior Open at Pebble Beach where he advances to the final round. The miracle that takes place changes Travis and his family forever.


Miracle at Augusta


The Golf Miracle Trilogy by James Patterson
Miracle at Augusta

A year ago, Travis was an unknown golfing amateur. After winning the PGA Senior Open at Pebble Beach, he is now famous and makes his living playing the game he loves.  Everything should be perfect, but Travis wonders if he is an impostor who doesn't deserve his success, especially after a series of disappointments. 

Travis gets a shot at redemption in an unexpected way, in the form of a troubled teenage outcast with a natural golf swing. This unlikely duo set out to achieve the impossible at the famous Augusta National, home of the Masters Golf Tournament. They are about to learn that sometimes the greatest miracles take place when no one is watching. 


Miracle at St. Andrews


The Golf Miracle Trilogy by James Patterson
Miracle at St. Andrews

Travis McKinley has immensely enjoyed being a professional golfer on the Senior Tour. But there is a complication. To retain your playing privileges, a golfer has to finish in the top thirty-one on the money list.

Finishing the tour with a thirty-three, Travis is now off the tour and feels he is an amateur at golf and at the rest of his life. Therefore, he and his family decide to make a pilgrimage to Scotland to visit his Scottish McKinley roots and to see the mythical greens at St. Andrews, known worldwide as the home of golf. What happens next is as much a miracle as the first “eagle” Travis ever scored. 


“On the course where golf was born, sacred ground to every golfer, even an ordinary man, an ordinary player, can achieve a higher plane.”



Summary


Author James Patterson quoted to the New York Times about his Golf Miracle series:


“There is no other sport where somebody who's average at best can hit absolutely magical shots on occasion.”

Stated on the jacket of Miracle at St. Andrews:


“If golf novels had a leaderboard, Miracle at St. Andrews would be at the top.”

Golfer or non-golfer, the James Patterson Miracle Golf Trilogy will delight readers.



James Patterson's Miracle Golf Series


(c) Written by Wednesday Elf - 9/28/2019




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Friday, September 27, 2019

Darrow & Darrow Hallmark Movie Series Reviewed

Darrow & Darrow Hallmark Movie Series Reviewed
I recently discovered the awesome Hallmark movie series, Darrow & Darrow!  

It is a fabulous Hallmark series based on the legal cases handled by the law firm of Darrow & Darrow.  The investigations and clues in each of the cases are fun to watch while trying to guess the outcomes.  Add to that, the personal lives of each character, and you have a wonderfully captivating series. 

Adorable actors, a bit of romance, a touch of mystery surrounding the cases, a spattering of family conflicts, all combine to make a thoroughly enjoyable series of movies.

My tolerance for television is normally limited to a few hours a week. I don't like constant noise, although I do know a lot of people who enjoy the "company".  I'm not bashing watching TV.  Just explaining that it has to be something really good for me to leave it on long enough to see an entire movie.

When I find a series that is binge worthy, then it is definitely something to talk about, and review.


Darrow & Darrow Hallmark Movie Series Synopsis


When you see the couple on the first DVD cover, you assume the title "Darrow & Darrow", is referring to a husband and wife team.  Or, perhaps, a brother and sister.  However, only one member of the couple shown on the first DVD cover, is a Darrow.  The man is Miles Strasberg, and the woman is Claire Darrow.  They are actually opposing attorneys.

 Darrow & DarrowCheck PriceDarrow  & Darrow is a law firm that was originally started by Claire's parents.  After her father died, Claire's mother, Joanna, took off to New York to make a name for herself with an influential and powerful law firm. Even though her mother was successful, Claire resents that decision. When her mother returns, requesting she be taken back into the family law firm, Claire is more than reluctant to embrace her again as a partner. They don't see eye to eye on most things, including the types of cases the law firm should be representing.

During the pilot movie, we get to know the main characters fairly well. Miles Strasberg is a mild-mannered widower and district attorney, who happens to be opposing council in the first case of the series.  Claire is an adorable widow that is raising her daughter alone.  As an attorney, she spends her days defending falsely accused individuals in court.  Well, at least people she believes are falsely accused. Claire's clear calling is to be a defense attorney for those who are less fortunate and can not afford a good lawyer, but deserve one.

In the first movie, Claire defends a doughnut maker who has been accused of robbing a jewelry store.  The masked intruder uses David Kellerin's bakery truck to smash the front window. Then jumps out to grab the jewelry in the display case.  When David is arrested, one of the stolen watches is found in his possession.  It seems like an open and shut case.  In spite of the evidence, David pleads innocent and Claire believes him. It requires a great deal of trust and detective work to defend Mr. Kellerin.

Her opposing counsel, Miles Strasberg, is attracted to Claire.  He respects her idealism and her ethics, as well as her desire to find the truth, not just represent someone wealthy who may be guilty.  Every month he asks her out to dinner.  Every month, he gets the same answer, until one day, to his great surprise, she says yes.  They do make a really cute couple!

Darrow & Darrow Hallmark Movie

My Conclusion


It is always exciting to find a new, enjoyable series to watch. When it is Hallmark movies, I know I am in for hours of excellent TV time. 

I really like Claire Darrow.  I enjoy watching her interactions with Miles, her co-workers, her daughter, and even her mother. The court cases, plots, and investigations are quite interesting too. It is fun to try to figure them out before they are revealed in the movies.  Therefore, I highly recommend this movie series to anyone who loves good, clean entertainment with a touch of mystery and romance!

 


Currently, "Darrow & Darrow" is available on Amazon with a subscription to the Hallmark Channel.  

Subscribe to the Hallmark Channel on Amazon.com
  


More Great Movies Reviewed


Check Out More Movie Reviews at
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Darrow & Darrow Hallmark Movie Series Reviewed by:
House of Sylvestermouse



 


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Thursday, September 26, 2019

Review of Refrigerator Liners

Refrigerator liners can organize the space and help to keep your refrigerator neat and clean.

I used to dread the job of cleaning my refrigerator.  Forgotten spills would become sticky and hard to clean. Then I read about organizing with refrigerator liners and my job became much easier.




Features of DII Refrigerator Liners


  • Ultra-absorbent
  • Reversible
  • Cut to Fit any Size Shelf or Drawer
  • Quick-Drying
  • Machine Washable
  • Shape Retaining

Above photo shows the patterned side of the liner.  Photo below shows reverse side which is a checked pattern.

What I Like about These Liners

I hated to clean my refrigerator.  It seems like I never saw the spills till after they were sticky and hard to remove.  Now when I see a spilled area on the liner I can just remove the liner and throw it in the wash machine.  No more scrubbing and rubbing and I always have a clean refrigerator.

The liners in the produce drawers are great too.  The liners have a cushy  feel and provide a soft place for fruits and vegetables.

The set I purchased had 6 12x24 liners which I cut to fit my refrigerator.  They ended up fitting all my shelves and drawers.


 




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Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Ian Rankin's Black and Blue Book Review

Eighth in the series, Black and Blue: is An Inspector Rebus Novel by Ian Rankin. Find my review here.
Interesting the number of covers Ian Rankin’s Black and Blue has had. I am surprised though I know that different book formats come with different covers. This book, however, seems to have had a lot of different looks. I suppose that is what happens to a successful book as it gains some age.

Of course, once you have a book in your hand, it matters not a whit what the cover looks like though the cover may have helped that book find its way into your hands in the first place. In this case, what it looks like did not matter because this book is one of the books that will be discussed in the late fall class I am taking in Ottawa through Carleton University’s Learning in Retirement program called Classics of Detective Fiction: From the 1960s to Today.

Ian Rankin’s Black and Blue is a fictional detective story, written  in 1997 and based firmly in the Scotland of the 1990s. In her class notes, our instructor Stefani Nielson calls the book “post-Christie,” “British realism noir” and she says that it features a “working class anti-hero.”

I did not know what was meant by that last term, anti-hero, so I googled it and Wikipedia shares that “An antihero is a main character in a story who lacks conventional heroic qualities and attributes such as idealism, courage and morality.” Inspector Rebus is a hard-working, hardened police officer and former SAS officer now coping in self-destruct mode with what life has thrown at him. He is anti-social and struggles with relationships. He is a drinking man with sometimes questionable scruples who is determined to get the job done regardless of who is in the way.

The Story


Black and Blue finds our anti-hero unofficially working four cases at the same time. Among the four, two stand out. He is searching for a mass murderer nicknamed Bible John on a cold case from the 1960s and 1970s and he is searching for a copycat murderer who has been nicknamed Bible Johnny. Set in Scotland, the author helps us visit his Scotland from the comfort of our arm chairs. Our travels will include time in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Shetland and even the oilfields in the North Sea.

It is a long book at more than 550 pages but it is action packed so if you love to read, that should cause you no issues. If you read the book, you will become heavily invested in the main character and consumed by the desire to know who is responsible for the crimes committed and if and how they are all connected.

Is this a good time to tell you that Black and Blue is the eighth in a series of books about Inspector Rebus? It is my first Ian Rankin novel because I am reading it in preparation for my class. In normal circumstances, I would have picked book one as a starting point.

Who Will Like This Book?


Anyone who likes a well-crafted detective novel and does not mind the world that a police officer travels in. This book definitely has violence but it is far from the worst I have ever read and, of course, it has a police officer who drinks, smokes and cuts corners.

Reviews


Goodreads says, “Written with Ian Rankin's signature wit, style and intricacy, Black and Blue is a novel of uncommon and unforgettable intrigue.” The readers who right the reviews on the website rate this book 4.08 out of 5. One of those readers says, “Now this is how you write a really good crime novel!

On his blog, Simon McDonald says, “…this book is one of the author’s best… more than awhodunit, it is a searing commentary on mid-nineties Scotland, told so palatably, so relentlessly…

Personally, I have really enjoyed this novel and meeting Inspector Rebus. It is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by me if you enjoy crime detective fiction. I will definitely have to go back to the start of the series, which is where, I imagine, you will start if you decide you would like to travel in Inspector Rebus's world. You can find all of Ian Rankin’s Inspector Rebus novels on Amazon quickly by clicking right here.

Ian Rankin's Rebus The Definitive DVD Collection

Interesting Facts


This book is considered an important story in Tartan Noir, which is genre in crime fiction written by Scottish writers and set in Scotland. Wikipedia says that Tartan Noir has roots in Scottish literature but adapts elements from other writers like era-specific American crime writers and European crime writers.

The title of the book, Black and Blue, relates to the Rolling Stones album of the same name, it relates to the state we often find our anti-hero in and it relates to the oil fields and the policeman of this story.

The Dancing Pigs, the successful punk music band featured in this book, were recreated from an unsuccessful band that the author played in for a year as a 19-year old. Rankin enjoyed making the band successful in his book. Who could resist? I think I would have done the same.

You may also have seen a mini-series called Ian Rankin's Rebus about the character that aired in 2000. Find it on Amazon here.

Be sure to come back and let us know how you enjoy any of Ian Rankin's books and, if you have seen the mini-series, we would love to hear that, too.

See you
at the book store!
Brenda
Treasures By Brenda

Quick Links:

Buy Black and Blue on Amazon.
Find Ian Rankin's Rebus The Definitive DVD Collection on Amazon.








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Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Ken Burns Country Music Film Reviewed

A Ken Burns Film You Shouldn't Miss

Country Music the Ken Burns documentary film now being aired on your local PBS station is one, in my humble opinion, that you shouldn't miss. My husband and I have sat spellbound as each two hour segment has been presented.

ken burns country music
Some of the legends in this Country Music Mural are featured in Ken Burns film
image courtesy of pixabay.com
Mr. Burns has a way of telling us about pieces of our history and our diverse cultures that not only inform us but entertain us as well. His latest creation about Country Music doesn't fall short on those notes, in fact I think it might be the best one he has done to date. That is saying a lot when you consider his work on the Civil War, Baseball, Jazz, Prohibition, WWII and the Viet Nam War.

It is more than just the music


One of the quotes that is repeated often is from Harlan Howard. He once said, "Country Music is three cords and the truth." I think that is probably why I have always loved Country Music; so many of the lyrics in the songs are about my truth, your truth or our truths. Some songs make us want to move our feet, others remind us of the happiness of loving someone while others break our hearts. There is literally something to listen to no matter what your mood might be. 

The segments that will total 16 hours by the time all are shown cover the history of the music that is uniquely American. We hear portions of songs but it is the backstories that I find the most fascinating. Ken Burns and his incredible crew of people tell us about the artists who made the songs popular and the people who wrote the songs. We find out about how they grew up (some of 'em will just break your heart!); how they got started and portions of their careers that might surprise us. 

I have always been a "words" kind of gal. Yes, I love to dance but it has always been more about what the story in the song says to me. I think that is why I am drawn to the people who write the songs. Those poets who don't always get a lot of recognition but can sit down and put words together that touch us in some way. In the documentary we find out quite a bit about those songwriters. Some performed their own music while others wrote for others. It has been fascinating!

Honestly, even if Country isn't the genre of music that you prefer to listen to; this Ken Burns film is one that I think you will enjoy. After hearing the history of the it; you might even be converted to a fan. There are segments that will make you smile, move your feet and touch your soul. I don't know if they will repeat this series soon or not. Don't despair if you have missed the first episodes. It is available in DVD and Blu-ray.





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Monday, September 23, 2019

Downton Abbey: The Movie Reviewed

This was a very, very excited movie audience! I thought I heard a few audible gasps and sighs of thanks when the familiar theme music began to play. Last week I saw a screening of Downton Abbey: The Movie and it has been a long wait for Downton Abbey fans since the conclusion of the television series.


The audience was in rapt attention and displayed perfect movie manners throughout the entire movie.
No one moved for the entire two hours.

  • Not one cell phone rang, beeped, lit up or vibrated.
  • Silence. No one was talking. Only listening and enjoying the movie.
  • The excitement for this movie was palatable.
  • These Downton Abbey superfans were ready!




The Plot

All of your favorite characters are back! The full contingent of characters from upstairs and downstairs at Downton Abbey have returned to continue where the story left off after the BBC series ended after 52 episodes and six seasons.

I do not want to spoil the plot of Downton Abbey: The Movie for its' devoted fans. The main plot is a visit by the King George V and the Queen in 1927 and the preparation for the visit by the family and staff.

Of course there are a few twists and turns as the characters navigate the visit and while the downstairs plot is a bit sketchy for the visit, Downton Abbey fans won't mind.


The Witty Repertoire


As a compliment to the script of Downton Abbey, these fans GOT IT. They laughed at the right places, chuckled at the double entendres and verbally cheered certain moments of the movie.

The highlights of course of witty banter were the characters of Violet Crawley played by Maggie Smith and Isobel Crawley played by Penelope Wilton. There were quite a few dry, witty, sarcastic and pointed exchanges between these two characters along with a twinkle in each of their eyes. The audience loved it.

As usual Lady Mary Crowley played by Michelle Dockery can throw a dry and sarcastic comment like no one else! I appreciate her directness.

I would have liked to see a more developed storyline for a favorite Downton Abbey couple, John Bates and Anna Smith played by Brendan Coyle and Joann Froggatt , but it was not to be for this movie. Both characters are in the movie, but not in major roles.

The Recommendation

When an audience stands up at the end of the movie and applauds - that says it all!
I heartily endorse all Downton Abbey fans to see this movie. You will not be disappointed!


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Sunday, September 22, 2019

How to Make Smaller Rooms Look Bigger


Whether you're selling your home or not, these essential design tips will help you make a smaller room seem bigger.

1. Put a Large Vertical Framed Mirror on the Wall

If you have the wall space, consider featuring an oversized mirror. With 8-foot ceilings, a mirror that's about 5 feet in height by 4 feet wide will make a powerful impact. Of course, the size will have to vary according to the space you have on the wall. The main point is that the mirror impacts the space by reflecting light, furnishings, and colors in the room. Wall mounting a heavy mirror may not be an option, especially for tenants; if that's the case, you can lean it up against a wall. Keep the area around it clear for maximum effect. Here's a free-standing mirror to give you an idea of the look.

2. Don't Block Windows and Doorways with Furniture

This can be a tricky task in a small room. However, put that thinking cap on and consider how to layout the furniture so that windows are left unobstructed. This is especially true for rooms with floor to ceiling windows, patio doors, and longer lower windows, as shown in the photo below.


Although the room featured in the photo below has high ceilings, it's still a small space. The design layout is ideal for the area as the couch, or other furniture doesn't block the window, helping to create an open feel.


3. Hang Your Drapes Floor to Ceiling

This technique is especially useful if your ceilings are standard height or a bit low. By bringing the drapes up to the ceiling, you help eyes to be drawn upwards, which in turn creates a feeling that the room is larger. Take another look at the above photo to see how the homeowners successfully accomplished this with their drapery position.

4. Don't Be Afraid to Add Larger Furniture Pieces

With a smaller room, the natural instinct is to shy away from larger furniture pieces. However, the opposite approach actually works better. Choose one, or maybe two at the most, large items rather than multiple smaller ones. Too many smaller pieces can make a room feel cluttered and disorganized.

5. Go Easy on Accessories

We all love pillows, throw blankets, decorated coffee tables and dresser tops, however, that's a recipe for creating a crowded feeling in a small room. Choose the items you prefer sparingly. Don't be afraid of putting one larger decorative piece on top of a cabinet or dresser. By limiting your decorative accessory choice to one impressive impact-piece, you keep the smaller items in that smaller room to a minimum.

So there you have five easy ways to help make your small room seem bigger. Let's review: 
  • Keep the windows open and clear
  • Use a large impressive vertical mirror
  • Install floor to ceiling drapes
  • Add one or two larger furniture pieces
  • Limit accessories
How to Make a Smaller Room Look Larger




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Saturday, September 21, 2019

Make #selfcare FUN with this Pink Clay Face Mask!

Let me review this absolutely gorgeous face mask that you just have to try, but first ...

Arbonnes Rescue and Renew Face Mask featuring French Pink Clay
Louanne showing Arbonne's Rescue & Renew Face Mask in Action!
Yes you can smile while wearing a face mask, you know I'm going to go off on a tangent for a moment and tell you a true story.   For many years when I was young I thought that if I dare smiled (or talked) while I had a face mask on it would crack my face!   Now I can imagine you all laughing at young teenage me let me talk about this awesome face mask.

Now I have talked about Arbonne's Cellular Renewal Mask in the past so you are probably wondering why I'm talking about yet another one so let me explain.  The best way I can think of it is that the cellular renewal mask is more like a scrub for people who shouldn't be using an abrasive scrub anymore.   Yes I'm getting on in life and after the age of 30/35 you really shouldn't be using an abrasive scrub but should try something like the cellular renewal mask instead.

Now whatever age you are anyone can appreciate a creamy French pink clay mask and Arbonne's Rescue & Renew mask is a really dreamy one.   I love this mask because it's one just about anyone can enjoy using.   My 18 year old daughter loves using it, my 50 year old self loves using it and my (don't tell her I revealed her age!) 71 year old mum loves using it.   To me if you can get three generations loving the same mask you're doing something right!

Arbonne's Rescue & Renew products are known among their consultants as our spa range because with a few of these products you really can create a spa like experience in your own home.   I love nothing more than soaking my feet in the Detox soak while wearing a face mask and laughing and talking with my daughter.

My daughter loves putting on the face mask with friends as they talk and laugh and binge watch horror movies on sleepovers.

I think there's just something about having a luxurious feeling face mask that makes you feel good and getting close friends around for a bottle of wine, good conversation, lots of laughs and a face mask just sounds like heaven - don't you think?

So what makes this face mask so much better than other clay masks?   For starters it's made with a French pink clay formula which pulls out all the impurities in your skin making your skin look and feel better.   There are also added botanicals such as dandelion, tumeric and ginger root, these botanicals help to detox your skin, and promote radiant looking skin which is what we all want.

The face mask also contains rosemary oil which helps to hydrate the skin (very important to keep your skin looking younger and more radiant).  There are also some self-neutralizing acids to help brighten the appearance of your skin tone.

The best thing about this mask is that it comes with a 45 day money back guarantee which means you can buy it, use it a few times and if you decide it's not for you send it back - you can't do that with many face masks can you?


This Gorgeous Clay Mask is a Great Christmas Gift Idea


Now I talked about this mask as being a wonderful Christmas gift idea during my Christmas in July event in my Christmas Shopping List Facebook group.  At the time I was just talking about the regular face mask, but it is also featured twice in Arbonne's 2019 Festive Line.   Now if you like these two gift ideas please grab them quickly as the Christmas line ran out extremely fast last year.


These cool holiday ornaments are available to purchase separately and include mini versions of some of Arbonne's popular products including the face mask which I can imagine on quite a few people's Christmas tree this year.   I just love this idea and will be giving the face mask and mascara to a number of young ladies on my Christmas list.

Arbonne's Clarity Facial Christmas Set for the Holidays

This is another set that I think will be among the first to sell out as it features the awesome clay mask along with a headband and an exclusive Detox All Over Mist.   This set is the only way you can get the mist that sounds absolutely divine.

Will you be trying this luxury face mask?  



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Friday, September 20, 2019

Hausse Retractable 2 Story Home Fire Escape Ladder Review

House Fire Escape Ladder
A fire escape ladder is essential for any 2 story home, especially if the bedrooms are upstairs! 

Many homes have bedrooms upstairs. It isn't something I am particularly fond of myself. I would rather have all bedrooms on the ground level. However, I have been told that it is a simple matter of economics. It is cheaper to build up than to build a single story home with a lot of rooms. 

For some, having the bedrooms upstairs, away from the entry doors to a home, is comforting.  For others, like myself, it is a way to end up trapped in a house with no easy way out. Regardless of your home construction preference, being able to escape in a fire is always preferred.


My Own Fear of Fire


When I was a young child, our family owned a really nice single story home that had 3 bedrooms downstairs. The girls shared a bedroom, the boys shared a bedroom, and our parents had their bedroom.  An awesome arrangement!  

When there was a fire in our home one night, we were all able to get out of the house as soon as smoke was detected, even before the fireman showed up.  I can't say that I actually remember much about that night since I was around 4 years old.  Of course, my older siblings and parents remember it well.  I've been told that our father did have to go back in through a window to carry my sister outside.  Fortunately, with all the bedroom windows being at ground level, that was easily possible.

But what if all of the bedrooms had been upstairs? 

When we moved to a new home, it was a 2 story home with all of the bedrooms upstairs.  I always feared a fire in that home and envisioned myself leaping out of the second story window to safety. As a child, I was okay with that idea.  As a adult, I can see how that was not a good escape plan.  Thankfully, I have never had to test my super leaping powers.


Be Prepared for Home Fire


 Hausse Retractable 2 Story Fire Escape Ladder, 13 FeetIt is entirely possible that my current day requirement to have a home fire ladder in every bedroom upstairs is tied to my childhood experience and subsequent plans.  Again, we have never had to use the fire ladders, but we do have them.

Being trapped upstairs during a fire would be scary, and possibly deathly.  The cost of a fire ladder is minimal when compared to the cost of a life.  For me, it is a no-brainer.  We all buy home insurance for our possessions.  Why in the world wouldn't we buy this practical use "insurance"?

Yes, I know. We ask ourselves, would we really climb down a ladder hanging from the window? I believe if we are awake and recognize we are trapped in a fire, we would grab that ladder, hang it from the window ledge, and start climbing without a second thought.  After all, it beats leaping!

 







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Thursday, September 19, 2019

Final Journeys Book Review

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As Finn and I take our therapy team training to the next level, our focus has been on preparing to bring comfort to those nearing the end of their lives.  Experiencing my mother's transition from this life while in hospice had a profound impact on me and inspired me to pursue this ministry of care.  In my current process of pursuing certification as an end-of-life doula, I am reading some deeply meaningful books that everyone could find beneficial.

We will all deal with dying and death.  Perhaps some of you reading this are caring for a loved one who is seriously ill, or maybe you have been given a terminal diagnosis.  The shock, heartbreak, and grief can be devastating, but amazingly, there are also elements of deep meaning, inspiration, and beauty in knowing how to live fully right up to our last hour on Earth.

In Final Journeys, Maggie Callanan, a compassionate hospice nurse who has guided families for over twenty-five years, provides us with the insights she has learned from those in her care.  The true teachers are those who are actually figuring out how to turn a dying experience into something peaceful and, in many cases, even celebratory.

Until recently, death hasn't been a topic of conversation that most people chose to address proactively.  I know that my own family was not very prepared to deal with the critical decisions needing to be made at the time that my mother and father were in end-of-life comas and unable to express their desires.  My siblings and I did what we had to do under the circumstances, but in many ways, the fabric of our family was torn irreparably in the process.  Things could have been handled so much better had we known then what Callanan shares in this practical guide.

As the author provides us with poignant personal stories, we gain wisdom about what to expect, how to best communicate, when to get specific types of support, and how to navigate the physical, emotional, and spiritual challenges of dying well (and helping others do the same).  Perhaps most importantly, in learning what we need to know about life's biggest transition, we are encouraged to reflect on what we most want in life and at our time of death.

I found Final Journeys to be much more than a useful guide to directing my future work in hospice service.  For me, it has been a highly reflective journey that has positively touched the parts of me still processing the losses in my own life.  It was an uplifting, and in many ways, healing read.

I only wish this book had existed when I first entered into nursing care as a young woman.  Perhaps, though, I was more ready to receive its teachings now that I have experienced significantly more love and loss over the years.  As a result of taking this journey with Maggie Callanan, I feel much better prepared to enter into new ways of bringing comfort to the living and the dying.  I also feel ready to orchestrate my own beautiful transition when the time comes.





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Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Autumn Chores: Planting Trees Now It's the Right Time! A Garden Review

Autumn chores in the garden should include planting some trees! A Garden Review for you!

autumn tree planting, guide to trees, planting trees for success


Now don't get your knickers all in a knot!  Some people think that fall is the time to stop gardening, clean out the flower beds and put everything to sleep for the winter months that are fast approaching.  I'm here to tell you that you are wrong, so wrong!  Those are some of the jobs that will need doing, but right now think about trees!

Autumn is a great time to plant trees and shrubs.  There are several reasons that you should be doing some tree planting at this time.  Trees are the lungs of the earth and healthy air around your home is a must! 

In the fall the ground has been nicely warmed up.  Summer heat gets right down to the deeper parts of the ground.  The soil is warm and generally moist.  When you dig a hole for a new tree you will see for yourself that the soil is nice and warm .  When you plant a tree in that warm soil, the roots that have been bound up in a root ball, will nicely ease their way into that warmth.  You can wait till spring, but have to wait until the soil is frost free for best results.  Late April or early May are target times for spring planting.  In the fall you can plant right up till the first signs of snow.  The ground will keep it's warmth even with a snow cover.  The snow, believe it or not, is a great insulator.


In the fall, trees naturally go into a state of dormancy.  The saps run down into the roots and the leaves fall. The energy of the trees are already in the lower parts of the trees.  So placing them into warm soil will make them very happy.   Autumn rains will also help get those roots to stretch out and grab hold.  But proper planting techniques are still a good rule to follow.

Before you start to think about planting a tree, make sure you know what kind of tree you want in your space.  If you have a large area, then plant whatever you like, but, if you live in an urban area, you may have to think about this a little more.  Do you want a lot of shade in your yard?  Are you looking to mask the sounds of traffic, or are you wanting some fruit for your efforts.  All these questions should be asked and answered before you buy and plant anything.


Some trees have deep roots, some have shallow ones!  Planting a tree close to foundation walls is never a good idea.  Nor is planting a tree that gets very deep expansive roots.  Some research is necessary if you want to have a good result.
 

Trees have different shapes and natural heights that they will grow to.  Depending on what you want from the tree, you will have to make some educated choices.  I like this link from Arborday.org, for some really good information, so that once you decide to plant the trees, you will have made the right decisions.  

Trees are a wonderful addition to any landscape and will give you years of beauty.  The birds, bees, and small critters will thank you and grace you with their presence.  Mother Nature will appreciate your help in keeping the air fresh and clean as well.   

Put this book on your shelf, so that you will have easy access to some of the best information and suggestions for picking, planting and maintaining your trees as they mature.


It is wonderful to be able to reach the information you need in the garden when you are busy with the task at hand.

Happy tree planting and here's to your healthy!  I hope you enjoy your happy gardening space.




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Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Cabin 9 Mysteries New Book Launch Review

Book Two Coming Soon


I'll be launching the second book in the Cabin 9 Mysteries series in the near future. Book two is titled Untimely Checkout. I thought it might be fun to talk a little about the series and the newest book today. 
cabin-nine-mysteries
Cabin 9 at Whispering Oaks Campground
image courtesy of pixabay.com
Back in August of this year, I released the first book in this new series, Campground Corpse. Readers met my main character Taylor Reigler who had inherited a campground in Indiana. She arrives at the old campground site in April to find the cabins filled with inches of dust and the ground waist high in grass and weeds. Her dream of spending about a month to get things up and running seemed destined to failure with all of the work that needed to be done. She meets Gavin Bishop and his sister Gwen on her first day at the grounds which begins a new friendship. That is where the mystery begins to unfold.


Cabin 9 Mysteries Book Two


In Untimely Checkout, the second book in the series, the story continues with a new mystery to solve. The story moves forward to early June with progress being made on the restoration work Taylor had hired done. Taylor and Gwen are testing out recipes in the main lodge on the crew of Webb Nailed It. Taylor hopes to get the campgrounds opened to overnight guests in the very near future and wants to decide what foods will be served as a part of the breakfasts. The crew is more than happy to come in every morning to eat for free and give their opinions as to what they liked or didn't like about the breakfast fare. 

As with most Cozy Mysteries, before the first chapter ends a body is found and a murder needs to be solved. I won't spoil the plot here and tell you who was found or who done it or why, obviously I hope you will want to read the book when it comes out. I hope that I have woven a story that you will enjoy as you visit the activity at Whispering Oaks Campgrounds.

If you read Campground Corpse, you will remember Gwen and Gavin and the contractor Glenn Webb. They join us in the second book along with Aunt Flossie, the great-great-aunt of Taylor who happens to reside in spirit form on the grounds. You will meet some new characters in book two that I hope you enjoy. I know that I certainly enjoyed bringing them into the story as I wrote it. 

As you read this new book, I hope there are times that you giggle, times that you say awww, and times that you think about something shared. As the plot unfolded in my head, I certainly had those moments.


Uncertain release date


I wish that I could tell you a specific day that the new book will be released. The story is finished with all of the i's dotted and t's crossed. It has gone through all of the edits and is waiting for a cover. That is the hold-up this time around. I waited a little late to ask my cover designer to make the new one. He is away on a holiday and when he returns he promises to get right on it. In the meantime, if you haven't read the first book in the series, you might want to read it before Untimely comes out. You don't have to, I feel that both can stand alone but reading the first one will help you know a little history of the returning characters. 




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Monday, September 16, 2019

Book Review: Hello, Crochet Friends! by Jonah Larson

This little book packs a powerful punch! Hello, Crochet Friends: Making Art, Being Mindful, Giving Back: Do What Makes You Happy written by young Jonah Larson and his mother Jennifer Larson is the most uplifting and motivational book I've read in years.

Hello, Crochet Friends! written by Jonah Larson


Hello Crochet Friends!: Making Art, Being Mindful, Giving Back: Do What Makes You Happy is one part autobiography, one part inspirational, and one part crafts. It includes topics of international adoption, school behavioral problems, and the importance of finding one's passion. 

Jonah Larson is an 11 year old crocheting phenom. I came to know about him from looking for crochet patterns and tutorials on the internet. This young man has a gift with crochet. His talent is nearly unbelievable. Watching his little hands fly as he works on his current projects is mesmerizing to me.  And all the more impressive when I learned a bit more about him.

Jonah was adopted by the Larsons when he was a baby. He began crocheting at age 5 by accident - when a single crochet hook was found in a bag of items. It became clear very quickly that crochet was his thing.

I work with children in a school that is focused on addressing their behavioral and learning difficulties. I run a small crochet club, teaching them just the basics (sharing my limited skills), because I know that crochet is a wonderful coping skill for some children. I ordered Jonah's book so that our students could read about a child who loves crochet. 

I was moved to tears when I received the book and read how Jonah also struggled with significant disruptive behaviors in school and how crochet helped him. And not only has crochet helped him manage his behaviors in school, he is using his art to give back to those in need in the country he was born. An astounding story and life lesson for all of us.

What this book is:

  • an age-appropriate picture book about an 11 year old who was adopted from an Ethiopian orphanage
  • a book that is written in a gentle, uplifting, honest and encouraging voice
  • an inspirational book - encouraging everyone to find their passion and do it
  • a helpful book for teachers and school staff - showing the positive results of thinking outside the box and helping students identify what calms and encourages them
  • an encouraging book for children who struggle with behaviors - helping them to feel as though they are not alone and that something can change
What this book is not:
  • this is not a book of crochet patterns
  • this is not a crochet tutorial
I'd like to express my gratitude to Jonah and his mother for writing this book and sharing this story. It has touched me and has been well-received by the students in my little crochet club. You are inspiring to so many others.


From the Amazon listing: "Hello, Crochet Friends! is the first title in the KWiL Publishing's Rock Star Kids series of books about young people doing incredible things in the world". Personally, I am looking forward to future books in the series!

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While I am not as talented as young Jonah, I do love crochet. I am able to do beginning and easy intermediate patterns. I have written about a few of the easier patterns. If you are thinking about beginning crochet, look for one of the many online tutorials, find someone that matches your style, and just begin.

My review of Dabbles & Babbles Done in a Day pattern. This pattern is pretty, more interesting than just straight crocheted rows, and is versatile. I've made several different sized blankets with several different types of  yarns with this pattern. I have also used this pattern to create a long, rectangular piece that was used as a type of shawl for an elderly gentleman. 

Although loom knitting is not the same as crochet, it is an easy way to make interesting and beautiful hats. If you can't quite enjoy crochet, you could create your own treasures with loom knitting. The flower applique is crocheted and from the only flower pattern I've ever been able to complete successfully. This pattern is Flowers by The Dozen by Yarnspirations and I review it here






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