Saturday, July 11, 2020

Reviewing Twinings Chamomile, Honey & Vanilla Tea

I absolutely love my tea which is why I thought I would review another tea staple in my life - Twinings Chamomile, Honey & Vanilla.

Reviewing Twining's Chamomile, Honey & Vanilla tea - a relaxing blend
Photo from Pixabay
I am a big fan of Twining's teas and have actually written about their peppermint tea previously.   As much as I enjoy a good coffee, tea is the staple drink of my life.

Every day starts with a mug (I don't really do tea cups unless I have a pot to top it up from!) of Arbonne tea and when I get home from a busy day at work nine times out of ten I'll have a mug of Twinings Chamomile, Honey & Vanilla tea.   I usually also drink this tea before going to bed, except for the odd nights I made myself a Milo.

Chamomile as a herb is known for it's relaxation properties and I do remember the first time I tried it, it was made from actual dried chamomile flower (like the photo above) and it had a back taste that I really didn't like at all.   I have tried various brands several times over the years both as a loose tea and in a tea bag form and I haven't been able to stomach the after taste of the Chamomile.

A couple of years ago I tried a Spiced Apple and Chamomile blend from Twinings which I didn't mind so when the Twinings teas were on special again I thought I would try the Chamomile, Honey and Vanilla - I haven't looked back!

I don't know if my taste buds have changed as I've gotten older or if it's the addition of the honey and vanilla flavours, but I thoroughly enjoyed this blend and, as I've said, it is now a staple in my life - in fact I think I have four boxes in my cupboard as I write this!

If you want a caffeine free tea (complete with relaxing properties) to drink before going to bed I can really recommend this one.

There are quite a few tea drinkers that write for Review This Reviews and you can check out their reviews right here - Tea Related Reviews.

Have you tried this tea blend before?






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Friday, July 10, 2020

Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Double Dutch Oven With Loop Handles Reviewed

Cast Iron Dutch Oven and Lid Skillet
When fellow contributor, Dawn Rae, started tempting me with homemade bread recipes, I decided I needed a dutch oven.  My husband loves homemade bread and I enjoy cooking, so it was time to test my bread baking skills again.

It has been years since I have baked bread other than my banana bread.  I used to bake bread every week, but I got out of that habit when I let my sour dough starter ruin.  I would love to find another really good sour dough starter.  Until then, Dawn's Artisan Bread Recipe is great!  Actually, it is faster and easier than the sour dough bread I used to make and my family seems to be just as happy with Dawn's Artisan Bread. 

There are a lot of dutch ovens available, but I wanted the cast iron version.


The Versatility of Cast Iron


 Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Double Dutch Oven on Gas StoveI have cooked with a cast iron skillet my entire life.  It is heavy compared to other skillets, but you can't beat it when frying fish, frying pork chops, or baking cornbread.  

You can use cast iron on a stove top, electric or gas, as long as it has range burner elements (not recommended by some glass stove top manufacturers for a flat surface glass stove top).  
Update: Contributor Sam Monaco comments below that he uses his cast iron skillet on his glass stove top all of the time.

Cast Iron will also go in the oven, which is how my mother, my grandmother, my great grandmother and I have all baked cornbread.  That is why I wanted the cast iron dutch oven.  I knew it would be most excellent for baking!

Cast Iron can also be used on a open flame, like a campfire.  I have been known to fish which is rather ironic since I don't eat trout or catfish.  However, when you come from a family with 4 brothers and a mother who loves catfish, you better fish or you are left behind counting the hours.  Besides, I love quietly floating down the river in a boat, soaking in the sun and the beauty of nature surrounding me.  

One year, Dad hired a guide.  We caught our limit by midday, but didn't have any desire to stop fishing.  So, we pulled to shore, built a campfire and cooked our fish in a cast iron skillet along with some potatoes the guide provided.  After lunch, we fished a few more hours and brought home fish for dinner.  That is how I discovered a cast iron skillet could be used over a open campfire!


My Cast Iron Dutch Oven


 Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Double Dutch Oven With Loop Handles, 5 qtCheck PriceI purchased a 5 qt. Lodge brand cast iron dutch oven and I have be thrilled with it for several reasons.

  • The lid doubles as a skillet
  • I really like the handles on both the lid & the dutch oven
  • It is just the right size for the oven
  • Perfection in cooking due to even heating 
  • Easy to wash, dry & re-season* 
  • I know it will outlast me, which means I will never have to buy again
  • Lodge is a trusted name in cast iron.  Over 100 years in business

*Seasoning cast iron is simply rubbing it lightly with vegetable oil after washing while it is still warm from the hot water wash or you can place it back in a warm oven after applying the oil.

I chose the basic cast iron dutch oven mainly because I loved the dual purpose lid.  I knew I could flip the lid and bake cornbread on top while a roast baked below it in the dutch oven.  The top would not only be a lid for the roast, but also a skillet for the cornbread.  

One note about using the lid on the dutch oven.  In the photo, you see the lid and dutch oven handles are evenly aligned.  I prefer to offset them slightly so lifting the hot lid is much easier.

Dawn Rae chose an enameled cast iron dutch oven which should be fine for cooking on a flat, glass stove top.  You can read her review here: Enameled Cast Iron - Pricey But Worth It 


You too can Bake Dawn's Easy No-Knead Dutch Oven Artisan Bread! 
To make my bread in the intro photo, I used Dawn's recipe. 
I added 3/4 cup cranberries, 3/4 cup walnuts & 1T honey.
Simply click the image below for her recipe. 

crunchy-no-knead-round-loaf-bread





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Thursday, July 9, 2020

Review of The Lending Library

The Lending Library by Alice Fogelson is a delightful story about a teacher's love for books and how she helps the community when the town library is temporarily closed.  I found the book when it was one of the Amazon Prime monthly First Read books.  I love that feature on Amazon because it has introduced me to so many interesting books and authors.


Summary of the Book

The book is about a confirmed bibliophile and frustrated artist, Dodie Fairisle, who moves from New York city to a small Connecticut town where she teaches art in the elementary school.

When the Chatsworth town library is found to have asbestos it is forced to close indefinately.  Dodie is so frustrated for herself and the town that she decides to create a lending library in the sunroom of her home.

Dodie is very committed to making the library a success and she uses her skills as a baker providing treats and her love of books to recommend books for each person who comes into the lending library.

One person that comes regularly to the library is a construction worker named Shep Jamison.  Shep is very handsome and Dodie spends a lot of time picking out books that she feels Shep would like.

The first part of the book is setting up the library and the people that Dodie meets.  The second part of the book becomes bogged down with many side stories, including love interests of friends, death of a friend, adoption processes and Dodie's stressed out desire to become a mother.

My Thoughts on the Book

I picked up this book at a time when I was looking for something lighter to read.  The book, for the most part filled that need.   I particularly  enjoyed the parts about Dodie and her work with the library. I also enjoyed the interesting cast of characters, including Dodie's friends and the people that frequented the library.

 There were times though in the second half where the story became a bit intense and perhaps unbelievable.  Even so, I enjoyed the book and would recommend it.

Find the Book on Amazon

                                                                     


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Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Get Your Socks Wet and Keep Your Feet Happy Too! - A Product Review

Wherever you are in North America or North of the Equator, I think it is safe to say, "That Summertime is Here!"

Everyone is especially happy about that!  The weather has finally warmed up and we can get outside without all the layers to keep us warm.

What can make a fun time at the beach a little disturbing to little ones, is the temperature of the sand when the sun has been beating down on it all day.  I know I've done what I call the "Beach Polka", where you literally run over the sand as quickly as possible, looking for possible cool spots, so the bottoms of your feet don't burn. Once you reach the water's edge you are safe!  

Now for parents with a whole family of little ones, this can be a difficult dance to do while carrying the kids to the water's edge.  No need to do that dance unless you really want to!  I've found the perfect solution.  There is this neat product called water socks or water shoes!  They are meant to be used in the water either on the beach or in the pool.  

For children they come in all sorts of really cute prints and colors.  Boys and girls will love designs on these water socks.  You won't have to fight with them to keep them on their feet. With dinosaurs and unicorns, octopii, sharks and rainbows, there is a design for every one of your children. Once they find out how nice it is to walk along the beach without having your feet burn they will happily wear them.  

These water socks/shoes have 36 different colors and prints available, so that even if you have 2 or three little ones, they can all have different designs on them! I personally love the unicorn socks!  They are just so cute!

Cute is only part of the story.  These water socks will help your children be a little safer on the beach because they have a nice rubber sole that will protect their little feet from any sharp objects or rocks hiding under the sand.  The rubber soles even help them to stay secure on things like boogie boards, surf boards and even piers where slipping could be a problem.

There are no laces or ties of any kind to worry about either.  Kids can slip these onto their feet usually without any help required.  They get wet easily and they dry very quickly too.  

I think one of the best parts is that these water shoes/socks can be worn just about all summer long.  Even if the kids are playing in the driveway, their feet will be a little safer for having something covering them up.  Boating and beach volleyball are easier and a lot more fun with a nice pair of water shoes/socks on their feet!  Even splash pads are more fun without getting stubbed toes or athlete's foot! Just having your feet covered keeps you that much safer from these summer woes.   That anti-slip sole can make all the difference in the world!  No more slipping and sliding on possibly wet and greasy feeling areas.  Splash pads are notorious for that greasy feeling.  All the sunscreen creams make for an invisible slick area sometimes.  

Beach safety and water safety in general are very important to me!  I like to know that my grandchildren can have fun without possible harm in every summer situation.  I'm a big believer in safety around the water for our children, without making them fearful humans.  It's great to have the summer months to make great memories while relaxing our guard just a little.


A couple of years ago I wrote about Personal Flotation Devices for children and I still would recommend that this is of the utmost importance.  Never ever let your guard down around children and water!

With water socks/shoes, you can at least relax a little bit more and not worry about stubbed toes!  They are well protected just by being covered.  



Happy Summer to all and Stay Safe!

All pictures courtesy of  Pixabay.com







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Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Mamma Mia Movie Review

I was a teenager in the '70s and of course, loved the music. In 1972 the Swedish group ABBA became popular. Their music topped the charts worldwide from 1974 to 1982. ABBA's music is so uplifting and is such feel-good music.

In 1999 a successful broadway musical hit the stage "Mamma Mia" the name of ABBA's 1975 top hit. The Broadway Musical became a hit that has since played in 40 countries and all 6 continents and has incorporated so many of ABBA's hit songs.

Mamma Mia came to theaters in Toronto in 2000. We live in Western New York so it was easy for us to get there in 2003. Watching this Broadway Musical live was just amazing. The music of ABBA was so fantastic and uplifting. Their music just gives me that all over good feeling.

Mamma Mia Movie Review



In 2008 the Broadway Musical was adapted into a movie. After seeing the Broadway Musical there was no way that I was going to miss this movie. 

Movie Plot:

The story is about Donna played by (Meryl Streep), and her daughter Sophie played by (Amanda Seyfried).

Donna and Sophie live on a small Greek Island. Donna owns a villa and tries to run it as a hotel, unsuccessfully. Sophie is about to be married and would love that her father is able to walk her down the aisle. The only problem is that Sophie has no idea who her father is.

Sophie sneaks a peek at Donna's old diary. She finds the names of three men that her mother was intimate with from her mother's younger days. Sophie is convinced that of these three men is her father. 

Sophie sends wedding invitations to all three men and signs her mother's name, in hopes that she will know her father once she gets to spend some time with him.

The three men arrive on the island, Sam Carmichael the architect played by (Pierce Brosnan), Harry Bright the British banker played by (Colin Firth), and Bill Anderson the Swedish sailor, traveler, and writer played by (Stellan Skarsgard).

Sophie explains to the three that she is the one who sent the invitations in hopes of finding out who her father is. I'll stop here just in case you haven't seen Mamma Mia. Trust me, this movie is full of laughs and the amazing music of ABBA.

Ten years later in 2018, a sequel was released. "Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again" Featuring most of the original cast and some surprise superstars. The sequel starts out in present-day but reflects back on Donna's life and how she ended up on the island and how she met her three lovers.

Both of these movies are worth the time. They are filled with laughter and ABBA's upbeat and feel-good music.

Just in case you don't remember, here is the original 1975 hit Mamma Mia by ABBA



I'm sure these two movies are streaming on Netflix or Amazon Prime. If not you can buy the DVD's

 C



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Monday, July 6, 2020

Home Decor Reviewed on Review This Reviews!

Treasures from the Archives of Review This Reviews! 


Home is our safe place, our hideout, and our own area to decorate.

We all need a place that we can call our own.  Whether it is a house, an apartment, a dorm room, or just our own bedroom, we need to fill it with the decor that we prefer.  

Furniture and accessories should reflect our personalities, our hopes, our beliefs, and even our memories. 

Selecting furniture is only the beginning of a home decor adventure!  How we paint our walls and even ceilings will often reflect our favorite colors, or at least the colors that make us feel comfortable.

Floors can be changed completely, or simply by adding beautiful area rugs.

Bed linens, table linens, lighting, and even organization pieces can make a room more pleasing and inviting.  Isn't that what we really want to do?  Invite ourselves into a room of comfort, enjoyment, and beauty.  


Home Decor:  For Ourselves & Others


We decorate our personal living areas in styles and colors that speak to us.  However, a family has to find decor that suits everyone in the home.  Height, weight, personal needs of each individual, all must be considered in the main rooms of our homes.  Even our pets have special considerations.  

As you decorate each room in your home, consider who will be using that room and for what purpose.  Then, have fun making a wonderful environment for everyone to enjoy together.  

You will find over a hundred home decor articles on Review This Reviews to help you create the home you desire.  


A Review This Reviews Pinterest Board - Decor Reviewed 


The board below features 30 of our most recent reviews.


Click through to Pinterest to see all of the Home Decor Tips & Recommendations for Your Consideration that have been Reviewed by Review This Reviews Contributors! 




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Sunday, July 5, 2020

My Three Favorite Songs About America - Music for Your July 4th Weekend

Celebrating July 4th - My three favorite songs about America

As your Canadian neighbor, I've grown up on all things Canadian and American. It's always been the music that had me at hello - from both of our countries.

I was a young child in the 1960s, and a teenager in the 1970s and honestly feel for people who didn't get to live in those decades, lol: The clothes, the hair, the music, the tv shows! Before there was internet, bank cards, and cell phones - it was the best!

My Three Favorite Songs About America - Spanning Mulitple Decades

1. America The Beautiful

The first time I heard America The Beautiful was in the late 1960s featured in the movie Pollyanna. The song was sung by Haley Mills, and as an 8-year-old, I was utterly mesmerized. I actually had the album from the film and could be heard continually singing America The Beautiful. Pollyanna was originally a 1913 novel written by Eleanor H. Porter and was made into multiple movie versions. The 1960 Disney version of the movie was the one that got me hooked as a little girl.

Here's a Gorgeous Rendition of America The Beautiful by The United States Navy Band - Enjoy!



2. America by Neil Diamond

This song still gives me chills! Of course, the first time I heard it was in the 1980 remake of the film classic The Jazz Singer featuring Neil Diamond. If you've never seen this movie, treat yourself! The film stars Neil Diamond, Laurence Olivier, and Luci Arnaz. The video below features the final scene of the movie when Neil Diamond belts out the moving song about the American dream ... America.



3. American Heart by Faith Hill

The song is fantastic, but it's the combination of the video with the song that takes it to the next level. The song was written by Jim Beavers and Jonathan Singleton, and the video features Faith Hill along with 10-year-old T.J. Jones performing a Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers inspired dance number. The lyrics primarily focus on the resilience of the American heart. It's my favorite country song about America. If you need more songs about America, I've put together a playlist featuring additional country tunes here.




Happy 4th to my American neighbors xxoo




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Saturday, July 4, 2020

Playskool Heroes Transformers Review


Grandson Tyler just turned six. Since we only get to visit in person a couple times a year, I always need advice from his parents as to what his latest 'favorite' toy is.  This time the recommendation was for a Heroes Transformers action figure by Playskool. 

Due to the marvel of today's video chats, I was able to watch-in-person while Tyler opened his birthday gift from grandma. Judging by his reaction, my birthday gift of this transformer action figure was a BIG hit. 


The Optimus Prime Rescue Bot Action Figure



The Robot Mode


Available on Amazon



The Vehicle Mode


Available on Amazon


This Rescue Bot Action Figure manufactured by Hasbro (a trusted toy company) has an easy-to-do conversion. It converts from robot mode to vehicle mode and back again. As a fierce truck, Optimus Prime is ready to roll to the rescue in a (pretend) dangerous situation. Then the vehicle can be quickly converted into a heroic robot figure to save the day! 

This 2-in-1 toy is sized just right for small hands and recommended for ages 3-7. The perfect toy for newly 6-year-old Tyler. 


Transformers Boys' Optimus Prime T-Shirt

Transformer T-Shirt

As a grandmother, I also like to be 'practical' when it comes to purchasing gifts for my five grandsons. It is also appreciated by the parents.  So, in addition to the Transformers Toy, I also sent a Transformers Boys' Optimus Prime T-Shirt to match the toy. The T-Shirt has an Officially licensed graphics decal on the front that matches the Transformer Toy. The shirt is 100% cotton, has a super soft crew neck, is made in the USA, and is machine washable. 


Summary


My little Tyler liked both the Transformers Rescue Bot Robot toy and the T-shirt to match. He knows all about the Transformers Cyberverse Adventures by Hasbro..... and Grandma is now being educated about this world of Transformers. :)


Happy Birthday, Tyler!




Transformers Review written by Wednesday Elf on (c) 7/4/2020





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Friday, July 3, 2020

Just CrossStitch Magazine in Print, on Kindle, & DVD Reviewed

Just CrossStitch Reviewed
Very few magazines are interesting enough for me to pay for a subscription, especially since just about everything can found on the internet.  However, I do subscribe to Just CrossStitch.  Every time a new issue arrives, I drop whatever I am doing and browse the pages.  Then I set it aside for later, when I have time to really examine the patterns and mark what I might want to stitch.

Just CrossStitch includes beautiful pictures of each finished project, plus easy to read full patterns.

I have saved years of back subscriptions of Just CrossStitch!  I never know when I will feel the itch to stitch and I do love having a variety of patterns available.  

Long before I started my subscription, I would buy the issues every time I visited Barnes & Noble, which used to be quite often before I was gifted with a Kindle.  It was our favorite date night to dine out and then head over to B&N.   
 


Just CrossStitch Magazines


 Just CrossStitch Magazine -Single Issue
December 2017
Check Price
Unlike books, a magazine is very lightweight, which makes it easy to carry when we travel. I always carry either a cross stitch project or a crochet project with me in the car or on a plane.

I well remember cross stitching a bookmark from a Just CrossStitch magazine pattern for my son in the airport on a layover with a flight delay.  It was such a restful way for me to wait.  I didn't stress at all over the delay.  As a matter of fact, I remember thinking how I wished I had time to make a bookmark for our daughter too.

Every time I see my son using that bookmark, I think how glad I am that I used that layover time to make something special for him.  I am also glad the magazine had just the right pattern within its pages.  Of course, that was probably why I selected that particular issue to carry with me.  

Tip:  Patterns for bookmarks only require being small single images pulled from any cross stitch design.  They don't have to be titled "bookmark" for the pattern to work well on a bookmark.

You can purchase the individual issue that you want like I did in years past, or you can subscribe to receive your issue in the mail.  An annual subscription includes 6 issues, plus the Christmas Ornament special edition.

Surprisingly, the Just CrossStitch magazine is now available on Kindle!  I haven't personally tried viewing the magazine on my Kindle since I have the print issue subscription, but I can see how it would be awesome to get them on my Kindle Fire.  (The Kindle Fire will provide color pictures.)



Just CrossStitch DVD's

Just CrossStitch Collection 1983-–1990Just CrossStitch Collection 1983-–1990Check Price
Don't stress if you wish you had discovered this wonderful magazine years ago!  You can purchase DVD's that have the back issue patterns for multiple past years. 

The DVD's contain every issue of the years noted of the Just CrossStitch magazine.  They consist of PDFs that are searchable, plus provide printer-friendly charts. Therefore, you can print out a pattern and carry it with you wherever you go.  Even though I have the magazines, I like having the convenience of the DVD for searching out a pattern of choice.  

When you insert the DVD into your computer's DVD-ROM drive, it will open a list of file names. Simply select the year, then the month you wish to view and open using the free version of Adobe Reader. You can print the patterns by clicking on the print icon of the Adobe Reader.




I Prefer to View On Full Screen and click my mouse to click through the pages. 
 (use the ESC key on your keyboard to close the full screen viewing) 


There are also Halloween or Christmas patterns from the Just CrossStitch magazine available on DVD.








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Thursday, July 2, 2020

Fast Girls - Book Review

Order Fast Girls Today
Three fast girls.  Three very different pathways to the 1936 Berlin Olympics.  Three: the number of seconds between "get set" and blasting off the starting line into your future.  Three young women running, for all they are worth, for their lives.

Fast Girls is historical fiction that introduces us to real women who broke world records, achieved Olympic gold, rose above rampant racism, sexism, and the societal norms meant to keep them off the track... out of the running for their dreams... out of their place in history.

Betty Robinson.  Louise Stokes.  Helen Stephens.  Remember their names.  These fast girls will teach us much that goes far beyond 100 meters.  From them, we will gain the perspective and insight that becomes a kind of second wind, which is what you need when you hit the wall during a race, or in the midst of dealing with life's hard challenges.

Each fast girl had to rise above tremendous obstacles to become who she was destined to be.  Take Betty Robinson, for starters.  As the first American woman to achieve Olympic gold, at the very first Olympics that included female athletes (Amsterdam, 1928), it seemed the "Golden Girl" had it made.  Not long afterwards, Robinson was involved in a near-fatal plane crash that left her body wrecked beyond hope of any kind of recovery, or any return to her former glory.  Everyone counted her out.  Everyone, that is, except Betty herself.  What she does with her brokenness is what will define her greatness.

Next up, Louise Stokes.  As a member of the first integrated Olympic team, Stokes, a black athlete, will face the kind of abuses no one deserves, or should ever experience.  Her treatment, how she copes with it, and where it leads, even to today's Black Lives Matter movement, is not just a lesson for the history books.  It is living history.  It matters as much right now as it did back in 1932.

Which brings us to Helen Stephens.  Stephens, a misfit, unwanted by her father, mocked and bullied by her childhood peers, so different, so confused about her identity, so incredibly talented.  What will become of Helen?  Who will see her immense promise and provide a means for her to leave the bleak, hardscrabble existence of her youth?

Fast Girls is about so much more than blazing speed.  Even though these women, at their peak, were the fastest women in the world, what mattered, and still matters, is what they did with their enormous capacity for turning tragedies into personal triumph.  Their disappointments and losses, perhaps even more than their triumphs, are what make for compelling reading.

This is a book for the history buff, the athlete, the coach, the teacher, the enthusiastic spectator, the one who cares about the worthiness, and enormous value, of every single person who asks only to be allowed the opportunity to fly down that straightaway toward the achievement of a dream... toward the fulfillment of personal destiny.

*I received an ARC of Fast Girls from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.  I wish to thank the author, Elise Hooper, and her publisher, HarperCollins, for this opportunity.

**You may also wish to check out my five-star review of Elise Hooper's fabulous book Learning to See.









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Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Six Historical Fiction Books Set in Canada

Historical Fiction Set in Canada

Happy Canada Day! This is the day that Canadians from coast to coast to coast don their red and white and head out to celebrate our fabulous country, which was born on this day, July 1, 1867. It is with history in mind that I thought I would share six interesting historical fiction novels that are at least partly set in Canada. If you love historic fiction, I hope you will find a new book to add to your reading list.

Despite the unprecedented virus situation in Canada Day 2020, this list is by no means an indicator that Canadians will be staying home and reading on July 1. I will be wearing red and white, cooking up something special on the grill, eating some ripe red strawberries, having a walk in our neighborhood to see from a safe distance many Canadian flags flying high and our red and white attired neighbors before coming home and toasting Canada. Here's how we're celebrating Canada Day Together, Apart in 2020 but I digress. Here's the promised list of six fabulous historical fiction books set in Canada.

UNDER THIS UNBROKEN SKY


UNDER THIS UNBROKEN SKY

Under This Unbroken Sky by Shandi Mitchell is a close look at the settling of Canada. Read this book and you will wonder how the prairies ever came to be settled. If it was not one thing it was another for this poor Ukrainian family when they took up a homesteading on the Canadian prairies in the 1930s. Truly a look at how tough life was for those immigrant settlers with a story line that will capture your attention. I have not written a full review of this fascinating book yet but you can read more about Under This Unbroken Sky on Amazon here.

ANNE OF GREEN GABLES: A NEW BEGINNING


ANNE OF GREEN GABLES: A NEW BEGINNING

Anne of Green Gables may be thought of as a children's book but they are totally appropriate for adults, too. They are an interesting look into Lucy Maud Montgomery's Prince Edward Island in the early 1900s.

Anne of Green Gables: A New Beginning was written by Kevin Sullivan. Sullivan was the creator of the original Anne of Green Gables movie series. This book is his more recent prequel to the Anne of Green Gables stories. You can read my complete review of Anne of Green Gables: A New Beginning here. I have always been a fan of Anne Shirley and I enjoyed this book.

BEFORE OF GREEN GABLES


BEFORE OF GREEN GABLES

Before Green Gables was written by Nova Scotia's Budge Wilson and was my preferred version of what Anne Shirley's life might have looked like before she was sent as an orphan to live on Prince Edward Island. Interesting that two prequels with two totally different stories were published and that they were published just a year apart.  You can find my complete review of Before Green Gables here.

THE HOME FOR UNWANTED GIRLS


THE HOME FOR UNWANTED GIRLS

Joanna Goodman's The Home for Unwanted Girls is set in in French Canada in the 1950s and tells the story of a woman forced to give up her daughter and the tale of that daughter in the Canadian system. There is a lot of heartache in this book but that it is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by me. You will find my complete review of The Home for Unwanted Girls here.

THE PIANO MAKER


THE PIANO MAKER

The Piano Maker was written by Kurt Palka and tells the tale of a woman's life taking her from France in the era of the First World War to Canada in the 1930s. I enjoyed this book because it was partially set in Canada. It is particularly interesting for anyone who is interested in the piano and who wants a look into war-time fiction set in Canada's maritime provinces. Find my complete review of The Piano Maker here.

THE QUINTLAND SISTERS


THE QUINTLAND SISTERS

I have long been interested in the lives of the Dionne Quintuplets. Pierre Berton's 1978 novel introduced me to the sisters and I have followed the true life story of these mistreated sisters ever since. They were the world's first set of quintuplets to survive infancy. This book, written by Shelley Wood, is an interesting look into their lives in the 1930s when the world was glad to embrace the sisters even if it meant that they were taken from their parents and displayed as a tourist attraction. Find my complete review of The Quintland Sisters here.

There. I hope you have found a novel with a Canadian theme to add to your list!

Happy Canada Day
and Happy Reading!
Brenda
Treasures By Brenda

Quick Links:

Discover how we're celebrating Canada Day, 2020.
Discover a page full of fabulous Anne of Green Gables gift ideas.


Six Historical Fiction Books Set in Canada





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Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid Review

The big screen has had its share of famous duos. Either Hollywood knows how to pick them, or it's just luck that two actors work together so well. 

To name a few of these famous duos that we have come to love and adore; Spencer Tracey and Katherine Hepburn, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, and how about Mel Gibson and Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon.

These actors and so many more have teamed up to make so many classics. Their characters and personalities complemented each other to take us into another world for a few hours. They make us laugh, cry, gasp, or sit on the edge of our seats to see what happens next.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid Review


Paul Newman and Robert Redford, in my opinion, were one of these duos that were perfectly matched. In 1969 they teamed up in the film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. This film was said to have launched Robert Redford's career.

Movie Plot:

The film is based on real-life outlaws in the late 1890's. Robert Leroy Parker is known as Butch Cassidy played by (Paul Newman), and Harry Longabaugh is known as the Sundance Kid played by (Robert Redford). Butch is the leader of the group known as The Hole in the Wall Gang.

The gang devises a new plan to rob the Union Pacific Railroad on both the eastbound and westbound runs. The first robbery goes well, but the second robbery things go wrong. A second train shows up carrying six lawmen.

 As the six lawmen jump off the train on their horses, the gang decides to split up, Butch and Sundance go one way and the gang goes another. But, the six lawmen follow Butch and Sundance. All attempts to elude the six lawmen are failing.

 Butch and Sundance find out the group is lead by a famous Indian tracker known as "Lord Baltimore" and a determined lawman Joe Lefors.

They find out from Sundance's girlfriend Etta played by (Kathern Ross) that the team of lawmen was hired by the head of the Union Pacific Railroad. Their job is to track them down and kill them. Butch, Sundance, and Etta move to Bolivia to try and start a new life.

I don't want to spoil the rest of the movie if you haven't seen it. This is one of those movies that will make you laugh, and you're going to find yourself rooting for the bad guys.


This short video is one of my favorite parts of the movie

Paul Newman and Robert Redford teamed up again in 1973 to make "The Sting". After these two hits by this duo, they never made another movie together. What a shame because they worked so well together.

You can find this classic on Amazon Prime or other streaming sites. Or, you could buy the DVD here.

These are the only two movies that Paul Newman and Robert Redford made together.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (Widescreen Special Edition) by 20th Century FoxButch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (Widescreen Special Edition) by 20th Century FoxThe Sting [Blu-ray]The Sting [Blu-ray]

 Clich




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Monday, June 29, 2020

Reviewing Royal Wing No Waste Bird Seed with Fruit

If you would like a larger variety of birds visiting your bird feeder and you haven't used Royal Wing Total Care No Waste bird seed with Fruit, you should give this a try!


Royal Wing bird seed brand available at Tractor Supple Company

I enjoy bird-watching have had a large variety of bird feeders over the years. But I have had the most luck with this particular feeder and bird seed combination. The birds literally began to line up as soon as I put this No Waste Blend with Fruit in a hanging platform feeder. It has been amazing.

In the past, I would put out Nyjer seed for the finches, suet for the nuthatches and mixed bird seed for everyone else. Of course, Cardinals like sunflower seeds. Some seed mixes did not seem to attract Cardinals. Perhaps not the right type of sunflower or not enough sunflower seed to other seed ratio. I don't know.

In an impulse buy during a shopping trip at Tractor Supply Company (TSC), I bought this seed. It is a bit more expensive than the mixed seed at the big box stores but it was well worth it! The very next day I saw Cardinals and a variety of other birds - some birds I've never seen at my feeder before -- such as this Grosbeak. This was the very first Grosbeak I've added to the list of birds I've seen! In addition to the Rose Breasted Grosbeak, I am excited that the Indigo Bunting pair have nested somewhere very close to this feeder and a Spotted Towhee makes a daily appearance and sings to us -- both birds I had never seen prior to bird watching at The Shack.  I think this food has helped attract them to the area on a daily basis. 




The birds line up for their turn at this seed. I have continued to use the remaining nyjer seed. But it seems the finches are coming even when I don't add the nyjer seed.  



If you are not familiar with TSC (Tractor Supply Company) or prefer shopping via Amazon there are similar "waste free" seeds with fruit to chose from.





Related Links:

I'm not as good at bird photography as I would like to be. Our own Mary Beth is both a wonderful photographer as well as a bird-lover. Please check out some of her posts featuring birds such as Review of Spring Bird Photography and Review of Bluebird Facts and Photography. I love bluebirds and Mary Beth's photos of them are outstanding!

To read more about my personal adventures at The Shack click here. It is my piece of land, and future home, on top of a mountain ridge in West Virginia. Bird watching there has been an amazing experience. 

My basalt bird bath by Stone Age Creations has been very popular with the birds. The Eastern Bluebirds and sparrows (Chipping Sparrows I think but I'm not sure) are daily bathers. I was very excited to see a Cardinal using the bath recently. See my review of this particular bird bath here. This bird bath has been one of the best splurge purchases I have ever made.






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Sunday, June 28, 2020

Matte or Glossy Covers on a Self Published Book? Which One To Choose?



That is the question, matte or glossy?

Let me start off by admitting that I'm not a self-publishing guru! The entire self-publishing process has been self taught.

In 2019 I made a decision to tackle a bucket list item; publish my personally written life's collection of poetry. Since then, and to this date, via Amazon Self-Publishing (KDP), I've self-published a total of seven books, and am in the middle of writing my eighth and ninth book.

I've written multiple times about the learning curve to self-publishing. I have to admit it wasn't easy. However, now that I have a few books under my belt, I'm learning more about the nuanced details that make a difference in a book's appearance and presentation.

As an example, I learned how to create professional-looking book covers, and have changed my covers multiple times to what they are as of this date. I actually made another slight modification to one of them again today! I'm planning on stopping these changes soon - Nah, probably not lol - but hopefully I'll get the covers to a place where I'm completely satisfied! Building book covers from scratch is tough at first, but after you get the hang of it, it's a ton of fun and very addictive!

A Matte or Glossy Finish on the Cover of Your Self-Published Book - Which Should You Choose?

I googled the crap out of this. Watched videos - you know, the usual stuff we do when we have questions. However, I didn't get a suitable answer. So, when I published the first editions of each book, I decided to go with a matte finish for the covers.

Guess what? For my books, a glossy finish is much nicer and more practical. So, I'm in the process of changing them all to glossy. I'll do all future books in a glossy cover format from now forward.

Why a Glossy Cover Works for This Genre of Books

I write riddle books, books about sayings for cards, and of course, a poetry book. I haven't written, nor plan to write novels. Novel covers may be better in a matte finish, but honestly, I can't give you advice on that.

For Activity Books (Like My Riddle Books & Saying Books and Poetry Books), Here's Why I Believe a Glossy Cover is Best
  1. These types of books are picked up and put down often, and a glossy cover is more durable. The matte cover actually ended up with smudged fingerprints on it from too much handling. 
  2. They look way more professional with glossy covers! My husband put it this way - he said, 'the matte finish made it look like it was purchased at the dollar store, and a glossy finish gives it a bookstore feel' - Yikes!
  3. A glossy cover feels nicer to hold in your hands (a personal thing)
  4. The shiny cover helps the colors to pop more. With fun activity books, the colors are essential, so yah ... glossy all the way for that reason alone.
  5. The matte finish looks more like a school book, the glossy finish gives it an 'author feel.'
The Cellphone Photos of the Books Below Don't Really Capture the Difference Between Matte and Glossy However There is A Big Difference:


Both of These Riddle Books Have a GLOSSY COVER
 #STUMPED - A Party Game

The Book on the Left is a MATTE Finish
The Book on the Right is a GLOSSY Finish
Boredom Buster Riddles - #Stumped Volume 4

The final vote of approval came from my adult kids and my husband, they all agreed that the glossy covers were superior to the matte covers. Sorry matte.

My Non-Guru Self-Publishing Journey in Articles:
1. How to get started on that eBook you've been meaning to do for decades
2. Confessions of a Newbie Self-Publisher
3. 5 Helpful Tools from a Newbie Self-Publisher
4. 3 More Tips from a Newbie Self-Publisher


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