Thursday, April 30, 2020

Learning to See - Book Review

Read an Excerpt
You have seen the photos.  The Migrant Mother.  Desperate families on the move.  Children experiencing abject poverty.  Desolate internment camps.

Migrant Mother (1936)
Credit: Dorothea Lange/Public Domain

You have heard the photographer's name.  Dorothea Lange.  But how many of us know the backstory of how Dorothea Margaretta Nutzhorn Lange (1895-1965) became one of the most famous documentary photographers of all time?

Dorothea Lange (1936)
Credit: The Library of Congress/No Restrictions

Learning to See is historical fiction that reads like an organic biography.  Elise Hooper used volumes of historical records and interviews to create this compelling memoir-like novel.  Like many based-on-true-life stories, the fiction morphs with the nonfiction into a very realistic portrait of the complex life and times of Dorothea Lange.

We are first introduced to the intrepid twenty-two-year-old Nutzhorn as she arrives in the bohemian San Francisco of 1918.  Having been the victim of a thief who makes off with her life savings, Dorothea must use her wits to secure housing and a job as a photographic assistant.  Before long, the renamed Lange decides to forge her own path as an independent studio photographer.

As things unfold, we discover Dorothea's many evolving iterations: friend, businesswoman, wife, mother, and fearless social activist.  There are elements of Lange's life that some will find upsetting (like choosing to foster out her children during the hard economic times of the Great Depression).  The sacrifices endured for the sake of Lange's calling will have lifelong ramifications.

This is a book for those who appreciate historical fiction, biographies, defining moments in time, photography, or reflections on the human landscape of America.  I couldn't help but see the parallels between the subjects of Lange's Depression Era portraits and those that are beginning to define this current time of economic collapse, migrant oppression, and social injustice.

As a photographer with a connection to our country's unseen and often marginalized individuals, the themes of this book deeply resonate.  For me, Lange's unvarnished look at the real America took me to a place deep within myself that wishes to compassionately acknowledge and respond to the pain of those who are struggling mightily.  We know there are multitudes experiencing the hardest times of their lives at this very moment in our nation's history.

Woman of the High Plains (1938)
Credit: Dorothea Lange/Public Domain
This is not the time to look away.  To peer into the haunting images of Dorothea Lange's America, is to have the opportunity of a lifetime to learn to see and to define who we will become in relationship to, and with, those who are trying to survive, while hoping for a better tomorrow.

I highly recommend this novel and encourage members of book clubs to consider Learning to See as a group selection.  It is sure to generate the kinds of conversations that matter.










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Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Fresh Lemon Hand Pies

Fresh Lemon Hand Pies


My mother made the best ever lemon meringue pie, it's one of my all-time favorites. Every time she made it I was like, "is it cool enough to cut yet mom".

Anyone else in the house was lucky enough to get a slice with me around. Today I'm reviewing how easy it is to enjoy that lemony taste that brings back some wonderful childhood memories.

Hand pies are so easy to make with store-bought pie crust and lemon filling, or any fruit filling for that matter. This perfect snack or dessert could be ready in 40 minutes or less.

Every year my cousin sends me these giant lemons for his backyard in Arizona. This weekend I decided to make homemade fresh lemon hand pies. The first thing that I did was make the lemon filling.

Homemade Lemon Curd

Lemon curd is really so easy to make. I made this and refrigerated it overnight, but you can make this and let cool for a couple of hours and use it for whatever your making.

Lemon curd is so versatile it can be used for cakes, cupcakes, donuts, or spread it on top of a scone of crackers.

Fresh Lemon Hand Pies Ingredients (Lemon Curd)

1 cup of sugar
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (4 to 5 lemons)
zest of 2 lemons
5 large egg yolks
1/2 cup salted butter (Cold)

Instructions
  1. You will need a double boiler for this, add some water and bring it to a boil.
  2.  Whisk together the sugar and egg yolks, continue to stir.
  3. Add the zest of the lemons and the lemon juice. Continue to stir the mixture for about 10 minutes, it will begin to thicken.
  4.  After 10 minutes remove the mixture from the heat, and add the butter one tablespoon at a time.
  5. Continue stirring, the mixture will become nice and thick. Once all the butter is melted into the mixture pour it into a bowl and let it cool for 2 to 3 hours before using it.
Pie crust ingredients

2-2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup Crisco (Cold)
6 to 8 tablespoons of Ice Water

  1. Cut the Crisco into smaller pieces
  2. Add flour and Crisco into a mixing bowl
  3. Mix until Crisco begins to fold into the flour
  4. Add ice-cold water one tablespoon at a time 
  5. Mix until a ball of dough forms
Divide the pie crust into two equal parts wrap each with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about a half-hour. I used my KitchenAid Stand Mixer to make the pie crust.

Making Lemon Hand Pies

Now, it's time to assemble and bake these little sweet treats. I rolled each ball of the pie crust out to about a 10-inch circle between two sheets of parchment paper.

Tip: Lay the parchment paper or wax paper on a kitchen towel. This prevents it from moving all over the counter while rolling.

Cut the crust with a 4-inch cookie cutter, place a tablespoon of the lemon curd in the middle. Then, fold them over and pinch the edges together. Press a fork around the edges to seal.

Hand Pies


Poke the middle of each hand pie with a fork. I made 12 hand pies, six out of each half of the crust. You will have to re-roll some of the crust to get the other 2 out of each half.

Baked Lemon Hand Pies

Now you will need two egg whites and a couple tablespoons of sugar. Beat the egg whites in a small bowl.

 Brush the hand pies with the beaten egg whites and sprinkle the sugar over the top. Or you could skip the sugar and dust them with powdered sugar right out of the oven.

Bake on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper at 350 degrees for about 18 minutes. Set them on a rack to cool and enjoy.

You might enjoy some of my other fresh lemon recipes





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Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Bird Feeder Station Reviewed

Feeding Birds Efficiently

Let's review an option for a bird feeder station that would be nice for anyone who loves backyard birding. I simply love all of the options to attract different species of our feathered friends!

bird feeder station
Looking at bird feeder stations
image courtesy of pixabay.com

If you are like me, you love to encourage the different varieties of birds to land in your yard. I could sit and watch them for hours. Well, truth be told, I often do! So, I've been looking at some options to replace some of the older feeders that need to be replaced. While looking for new things to place the bird seed in, I came across this bird feeder station and I think I must have one.

Six Ways To Feed On One Pole


What I love about the station that I accidentally found is that I can put 6 different feeders in one place in my yard. There are 4 hanger hooks in two different styles and can be used for feeders or other things. I particularly like the ones that fit on the top of the pole because if I choose to I can hang a couple of potted plants on those instead of a feeder for some colorful interest. The options are limitless, really. Two metal trays also come with the pole with hangers that will hold the round trays in place. One has drainage holes in it to keep the bird seed from getting too damp. The other is solid and can hold water for the birds to drink or bathe in. 

I like the idea of having one place to take the food and water instead of having to carry my bags out and then move them around to several places. The pole has a sturdy four pronged base that will allow for some good stability when I drive it into the ground. There are wing nuts that allow me to move the hooks and trays in any pattern that I want to. I just love the versatility of this pole.

This pole with its accessories should last for years to come since it is constructed from metal. It should be fairly resistant to rust. If I find after a few years pass that the paint is wearing off, I can always sweet talk my sweet hubby into painting it for me. 

Of course, that still doesn't take care of replacing those worn out feeders that I first went looking for. I will still need to find those but with the bird feeder station it allows me to look for ones that will work best with this station for my lovely little winged visitors. My daughter has recently realized how much she loves watching the birds in her backyard, this might be something for me to get her for her birthday this year. 



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Monday, April 27, 2020

Zoo Cam's Reviewed!

Who doesn't need a bit of calm in this topsy turvy world of late? Free, fuzzy and a whole lot of fun are the Live Cam's from zoos across the world!


Larger zoo's have multiple live cams for a dose of free entertainment. However, the animals may not always cooperate with on demand viewing (we all need our sleep don't we!). So checking back is necessary at times to find the action shots. Here are a few of my favorite zoo cams.


Panda Cam - Smithsonian's National Zoo

Not one, but two cams for the absolutely too darn cute Giant Panda.
There is also a robust archive of panda videos at the National Zoo including the arrival of baby giant panda Bao Bao.



Penguin Cam - Detroit Zoo

If there is one cam that will give you an immediate chuckle is the penguin cam. These guys and gals are too funny!

Butterfly Cam - San Diego Zoo


The butterfly house at my local zoo is a favorite to visit. Entering into the butterfly house is akin to being transported to a fairy garden of gorgeous flowers.  The San Diego Zoo's Hidden Jungle greenhouse has 30 (ish!) varieties  of gorgeous butterflys on the butterfly cam.


Koala Cams - Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

Lone Pine Sanctuary was established in 1927 as a safe refuge for Australia's koala bears. The sanctuary has its' mission to protect the Koala with its' efforts for a sustainable and biodiverse environment.

Lone Pine has quite a few Koala cams and I admit a huge fondness for the Koala! But the live cams at Lone Pine also have Platypus cams and Dingo cams.


Sloth Cam

For life in the slow and slower lane, check out the sloth cams. Sloths are active at night and no worries about missing the action with this slow mo crew.




Support Your Local Zoo

The vast majority of zoo's are currently closed and all could use financial support while America is staying at home. Now would be an excellent time to fast forward the holiday donation to your local zoo.




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Sunday, April 26, 2020

How to Color and Seal Grout in One Step - Checkout the Before and After Photos

How to Color and Seal Grout in One Step

My husband likes to keep busy. Lucky me, and that's not meant to be sarcastic!

He's always finding a task to do around the house and is an avid watcher of YouTube how-to videos.

Next thing I know, he's painting/sealing the grout in the hallway. I'll quickly review the steps he followed to get the lovely finished result featured in the photos below.

1. He Used Polyblend Grout Renew

I'm always confident that hubby will select a quality product because he's very thorough when researching choices.

This product is an all-in-one colorant and sealer. You'll want to match the color of your own grout. The sealer protects the grout from traffic, dirt, and floor washings.

He purchased several bottles and color-matched them to the color of our floor. We prefer our grout to be as close to the same color as the tiles. I suspect most people prefer that.

By having the grout and tile similar in color, the floor looks more like one flowing piece. This is especially useful if your hallway isn't very large. Darker grout lines can leave an area feeling chopped up and smaller.

Here's an actual photo of the grout he
purchased - Yep, it's available
on Amazon
2. Tools Needed For The Job

All he used was a toothbrush (or 2) and some cloths for wiping. He trimmed the toothbrush to the width needed to fit the grout gap between the tiles. The gap between the tiles in our hallway is a bit wider than most, but he still had to trim the toothbrush.

Trimming the toothbrush makes applying Grout Renew easier because it fits nicely in the gap and has less chance to overlap onto the tile.

Here's a look at the toothbrush he trimmed for the job
3. How to Apply The Grout Colorant and Sealer

This job requires you to be on your hands and knees. Unfortunately, that's not easy for some of us. Thankfully hubby doesn't have any health issues in the knee department. It was hard on his back though, so be forewarned, it may take several days to complete. Take your time, don't overdo it.

He applied the grout paint sealer directly onto the grout line and painted it into the grout using the toothbrush. It was very time-consuming.

Don't worry if a bit of grout paint gets on the tiles, as you can wipe that off as you go along or do a few floor washings after it's had a chance to set for a day.

Here's the Before and After
Photo of the Grout Work
4. The Finished Look

Check out the finished look below. Hubby completed this in the fall of 2019 and it's currently spring 2020. This grout colorant/sealer has held up nicely. The floor still looks like he just finished the job. You'll notice that this grout colorant/sealer comes in many color choices, so go crazy and do the whole house.

Grout Colored/Sealed - Finished Look
Did I just add something to your honey-do-list? Sorry :)





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Saturday, April 25, 2020

Wireless Keyboard and Mouse Review


In January, the Windows 7 operating system on my desktop computer ended all updates.  My son (an IT Tech by profession) upgraded my computer to Windows 10. At that time, I took a good look at my peripheral devices and realized that my years-old keyboard had over one-half of the letters worn off.  Being a touch-typist, I hadn't really looked at the keyboard in a long time, but now decided it was time to get a new one. 


Wireless Keyboard by UHURU

Wireless Keyboard by Uhuru

After looking online at a number of keyboards, I decided on a wireless keyboard. This one by UHURU also came with a wireless mouse and a mouse pad. In addition, the batteries needed  for operation were included, one A A battery for the mouse and two AAA batteries for the keyboard. 

My wireless keyboard is compatible with Windows 10 and provides automatic connection link for fast data transmission without any delays.  A 2 in 1 Nano receiver unifies the keyboard and mouse connections quickly into one plug and play USB port. It also has 13 hotkeys to instantly access movie, music, internet, e-mail, volume and more. The advanced chip provides automatic connection from up to 33 feet.

It is a full size keyboard and has foldable stands to provide a comfortable angle for typing. The description states that this keyboard also has a sensitive touch for smooth typing that is easy on your fingers.  My ONE complaint may be that it is a bit TOO sensitive for the way I type as I find I often end up putting 2 spaces between words when I only wanted one. Perhaps I need to slow my typing speed a bit to compensate....LOL. But having made my living as a typist, this may be hard to do. ^-^. 

The keyboard has a power-saving mode which automatically lets it go to sleep within 8 minutes of no operation.  Click any key to wake it up.

Wireless Mouse


Wireless Mouse

The wireless mouse has many of the same features as the keyboard, working from up to 33 feet away with automatic sleep feature when not in use to conserve battery power. The Mouse works off the same plug and play USB port as the keyboard. Not only is it compatible with my new Windows10 operating system on my PC, but also works with Windows 8/7/Vista and XP and works with Notebooks, Laptops  and Smart TV with no extra software or set up needed.


Summary


Altogether, with the many features and the low price, I found this wireless keyboard and Mouse to be an excellent buy. I am very pleased with my new wireless keyboard and wireless mouse. 




Related Articles:




Quick Links:

Wireless Keyboard & Mouse by Uhulu


*Wireless Keyboard and Wireless Mouse Review written by (c) Wednesday Elf (4/25/2020)




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Friday, April 24, 2020

Backseat Barker Dog Bed for SUV or Jeep Review

The Backseat Barker SUV Dog Bed

Dog Car Bed for Jeep & SUV - Backseat Barker Review
If Merlin had a middle name, it would be "Go"!  He never wants to be left behind.  Therefore, we sought and found a wonderful dog bed for our old jeep.

As you can see in the photo, we laid the dog bed directly on the jeep floor.  That required us to find a dog bed that was thick enough to really cushion and separate him from the hard, unforgiving surface. 

Normally the pillows on each side would lay at an angle.  In our case, we wanted the larger size bed so the pillows would stand upright on the side and give him more protection from the hard side panels of our jeep.  Merlin likes to stand up and look around even when the car is moving.  Protecting our "big dog" is always our first priority.  

When we are traveling in our SUV instead of our little Jeep, we simply move the Big Barker to the larger vehicle.  Here is a picture of Merlin on his Big Barker bed in our SUV.  As you can see, the side pillows tilt to the sides and make a great head rest for our big dog.

Backseat Barker Dog Bed
Merlin loves his Big Barker



The Backseat Barker Dog Bed for Cars, SUV, & Jeeps


There are several features about the Backseat Barker that would prompt me to recommend it for dogs.  First and foremost, the thickness of the orthopedic cushion provides a more comfortable ride for our "big dog".  
Backseat Barker Dog Bed for Jeep & SUV
I left that one side up slightly after Merlin got out, so you could easily
see the thickness of the bottom pad

The size of the bottom bed cushion is perfect for our jeep floor.  As you can see, the large 3" thick cushion goes all the way up to the back of the front seats.  Therefore, Merlin can stretch out comfortably when he wishes to lay down and still be close to us.

As I said in the introduction, I also love the side pillows!  Normally, in a larger SUV, the pillows would be slightly tilted so a pup could use them for propping his head on them.

There are several sizes of the Backseat Barker Dog Bed available.  We purchased the Extra Large (61 x 45 x 3) dog car bed so it would fit snugly in the back of our jeep, which has a smaller area in the back than an SUV.  

The cover has zippers on the bottom pad and on the pillow sections.  That allows us to remove all 3 of the foam pieces and machine wash & dry the cover when needed.  According to the manufacturers, the foam can also be washed and air-dried, but that has not been necessary for us yet.

The Backseat Barker Dog Beds come with a 10 year warranty.  We all understand the importance of a trustworthy warranty.

One note, like most orthopedic foam, the foam in the beds have a strong odor.  We let Merlins' bed foams air out for about 3 days and I washed the cover immediately.  After a few days, all was well, no more smell!










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Thursday, April 23, 2020

Kate Quinn's The Huntress Book Review

The Huntress Book Review
Told in three narratives, Kate Quinn's book, The Huntress, dives into Nazi-era Soviet Union and post-war Boston. It follows the post-war efforts of a small company whose purpose is hunting for and bringing to justice war criminals.

The main characters include Ian, a proper British journalist who was on the ground in Europe during the war and who turns postwar away from journalism to the task of finding war criminals. His purpose becomes a bit clouded by vengeance when he searches for the elusive target for whom this book is titled. That is, the Huntress who ruthlessly lured and killed men, women and children.

The second character is Nina, a woman who grew up dirt-poor and savage in Siberia. As an adult she becomes a pilot for the Soviet Union and a member of the all-female Night Witch bomber regiment who, during her time on the ground during the war, has an encounter with the Huntress.

Finally, we have Jordan, an ambitious teenager who lives with her father and sister in Boston. She wants to become a photographer and to break out of the societal requirement for a woman of the times that says she must get married, settle down and have children.

In the end, all are brought together by the Huntress.

THE HUNTRESS OFFICIAL BOOK TRAILER


Here’s a peek via the official book trailer from publisher Williams Morrow:




REVIEWS


Readers on Goodreads gave The Huntress a 4.27 out of 5 stars and 91 percent of Amazon readers gave it a 4- or 5-star rating. That’s pretty good.

On the back cover, Booklist says that this book is “An impressive historical novel sure to harness WWIIi-fiction fans’ attention.” I agree.

The Washington Post calls this book a “compulsively readable historical novel” and says that it is a “powerful novel about unusual women facing sometimes insurmountable odds with grace, grit, love and tenacity.” I agree.

WHO SHOULD READ THE HUNTRESS?


Fans of World War II fiction, which by the way comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by me, will enjoy this book. In particular, if you would like a look into the hunt for war criminals, Russian folklore and the lesser-known world of the Night Witches, you will want to pick this book up. If you enjoyed Kate Quinn’s The Alice Network or Heather Morris’ The Tattooist of Auschwitz you will want to read this book. It quickly becomes a thriller and a page turner demonstrating how war changes people and the costs of seeking justice.

You should know that this book has numerous adult themes, which is what you naturally comes with a book about war crimes. Those themes include abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), alcohol use, war and sex.

Do be aware that there are numerous books called the Huntress. Don't make the mistake that a friend of mine made and read the wrong one. You can find your copy of Kate Quinn’s The Huntress on Amazon by clicking right here.

See you
At the bookstore!
Brenda
Treasures By Brenda

QUICK LINKS:

Buy your copy of The Huntress on Amazon.
The Ragged Edge of Night Book Review.
Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale Book Review.
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas Movie Review.









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Wednesday, April 22, 2020

New Balance Running Shoes Review

New Balance Running Shoes Review

Many years ago, I needed to get into shape and lose some weight.

A good friend of mine suggested that I should start exercising. By exercise, he meant running. Well, I haven't done any running since high school.

After thinking about it, I decided to give it a try. So, I put my tennis shoes and sweat pants and drove to the school track.

I couldn't even make it around the track one time, and it was only 1/6 of a mile track.

I'm not one to quit, so I stayed with it and before long I was running 5 to 6 miles a day. I lost some of that weight and I was getting in really good shape.

It wasn't long before I started to feel some aches and pains. My legs, shins, and back started to bother me. I thought maybe that I was overdoing it by pushing myself so much.

My running partner; who was the same guy that talked me into this wonderful world of running suggested that I really needed a good pair of running shoes.


New Balance Running Shoes:


Now, I was off to investigate running shoes. I found New Balance to be the perfect running shoe for me. I wear a 9-1/2 wide and New Balance seemed to be the only running shoe that I could find in half sizes. I find the support and comfort to be superior over other shoes that I tried on.

My friend was right because soon my aches and pains vanished, as I continued to run, (No not like Forrest Gump). Every day when I came home from work, I changed into my running gear and it was off to the park for my 5-mile run. Rain, snow or sunshine I was out there running.

Okay, maybe I was a jogger and not a runner, but it was a good aerobic workout. I would welcome anyone to tag along with me running an 8 to a 9-minute mile for 5 miles.

The New Balance shoes made all of the difference in the world, they have excellent cushion and support and I felt like I was running on clouds.

Fast forward to today. I really don't run anymore. But, I do a lot of walking and I'm wearing my New Balance walking shoes. New Balance is the only sports shoe that I'll ever wear.





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Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Watership Down Book Review

Wonderful Book To Read

A review of a classic book for you  to consider reading, Watership Down. You may have been required to read this book when you were in Middle or High School. I fall into an age group that wasn't; when I was still attending school it hadn't been written yet. So, I'm quite late to the game but I enjoyed this book a whole lot and would have loved writing a report on it or discussing it in a classroom. (I was one of those strange kids who relished those book assignments!)

watership down rabbits
Would the rabbits of Watership Down look like these two?
image courtesy of pixabay.com

I had heard of this book written by Richard Adams and first published in 1972 but had never considered reading it. From the title I guess I thought that it probably had something to do with a ship or a sea battle. I couldn't have been more wrong. Watership Down is actually a chalk hill in Hampshire, England. The story is about a group of wild rabbits who flee from their colony and warren when one rabbit senses that danger is on the way.

Richard Adams didn't set out to write a book but instead began to make-up the story to entertain his children on a long road trip. His daughters loved the tales so much that they encouraged him to write it all down and make it into a book. Adams was rejected by several publishers before Rex Collings Ltd took a chance on him and published it for him. The book was so well received that it won both the Carnegie Medal and the Guardian Prize. I wonder what those publishers that rejected it thought when that happened!

My attention was drawn to the book when I was watching a re-run of a British television show. The presenter was in Hampshire showing properties to a couple who wanted to move to the country. He pointed to the real Watership Down and referenced the book. My curiosity was peaked so I looked up the novel and ended up buying it. I was not disappointed!


Brief Synopsis of Watership Down


The main characters of this wonderful book for children or young adults are wild rabbits. Just like with humans each has his or her own personality. Fiver and Hazel are friends growing up in a colony of rabbits in England. Both are about a year old and haven't found their place in the hierarchy of the colony yet. Life is hard for young rabbits in any warren; it is a bit harder for Fiver because he is smaller than most rabbits of his age and most think he is more than a little strange. Fiver shares a vision that he has had with his friend that warns of some kind of danger coming to their hillside home. He insists that the entire colony needs to flee immediately. Hazel has learned that his strange little friend is usually right when he "sees" things and encourages him to go tell the Chief Rabbit.

The Chief dismisses little Fiver when he hears the warning. He figures the little buck is just trying to find an insured spot in the colony since he will never be able to be in the warrior or guard class, he is just too small. A few believe the small rabbit while others are rather easily convinced. A small band of young male rabbits leave the warren in the middle of the night to follow Fiver and Hazel to a new land that is believed to be safer for them to begin their own colony in. 

As you can imagine their trip to the down (hill) that they can see on the horizon is filled with adventure and danger. The young rabbits form stronger friendships and try things that are new to them. Each finds strengths they never knew they had. 

I loved this story! Even though it was originally written for children, adults can and do enjoy it, too. It is rather a tome with over 400 pages but I think you will find that it isn't difficult to finish, it is so well written and interesting that you just keep flipping those pages. It is a great book to read for yourself but also one that would be wonderful to read to a child or group of children in several sittings. You can share it with children aged 8 or older and I think they will love it just as much as you will.




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Monday, April 20, 2020

Reviewing Meditation Videos as Sleep Aids

photo courtesy of Pixabay
While some people have suffered from insomnia over the decades, this review is being written during the current pandemic situation. And during an increase in sleep problems. Including my own. I have found that meditation videos and a sleep timer on my television have been very helpful for me. 

Historically, I am generally exhausted. I quickly fall asleep each evening. I would occasionally have some insomnia caused by particularly concerning things happening at work or because I am a light sleeper and I have noisy neighbors. Sleep hygiene is something I'm familiar with but had not been something I've had to be particularly focused on for myself - until now.


Sleep Hygiene


Sleep Hygiene is another way of saying good sleep habits.  It is often the topic of discussion in my work. No matter the age, most humans benefit from getting sleep that is long enough and deep enough.

The CDC gives tips for better sleep here. Not all of those tips work well for everyone. But I've included the list because it is a great place to start thinking about what might work for you. For example, I'm such a light/anxious sleeper that for decades I needed the television to be on as a background noise to cover any outside noises that would wake me and prevent me from falling back to sleep. As a rule, it is recommended to remove electronic devices from the bedroom. Including the television. But in my case a television has been helpful. Not every sleep hygiene tip will work for every person. But that list includes great things to consider.


Major Insomnia


Wow. I've been hit with major insomnia during this stay-at-home time period. I was trying a variety of things with very limited success. Even my trusty television as white noise was suddenly a distraction and it was keeping me awake.

Stretching, doing yoga, and meditation before bed helped. But not enough. 

Then I discovered the sleep timer and meditation videos on my smart tv.

I find a relaxing video on YouTube and start it. These videos are created on loops so the same thing runs for many hours at a time. I then set the television sleep timer for 90 - 120 minutes (which is enough time for the neighbors to settle down). The video lulls me to sleep and the tv eventually turns off. I remain asleep and have noticed that I'm getting a much more restful sleep. I'm waking up refreshed in the mornings.


Types of Relaxing Videos for Sleep



There are many types of meditation and relaxation videos to choose from. Far too many to list here. I tend toward the thunderstorm or rain/wind chimes sounds.  Additional themes are:
  • beaches/waves
  • birds
  • forests
  • meditation chants
  • talk/guided meditation
  • Native American flute music
  • what I generally refer to as "spa music"
  • a crackling fire
  • and much more

Some of the videos have one photograph as the visual. Others have a black/blank screen (which would help if light in the room keeps you awake). And still others have scenes with some movement such as raindrops falling, lightning flashing, or scenes that have some very minimal movement added digitally. I like the videos that show the rain drops.

As examples, I am including my two favorite relaxation videos. You may find that these are not helpful to you. That's okay. There are plenty of others to choose from.

Rain and Wind Chimes:



Rain and Native American Flutes:



Swamp Sounds at Night (in this video, it is the visual that relaxes me. I enjoy the fog and the smoke from the chimney. Others may find this particular video a little on the creepy side):




Related Links:

I am not a tech-nerd. Far from it. I usually do not replace any of my electronics until they are so out-of-date that they no longer work properly. But I purchased a smart tv and LOVED it so much that I bought a second one for the bedroom. The two televisions are different brands, therefore they have different apps. But both allow me to watch Amazon Prime and Youtube. It is the wonderful new technology that allows me to watch these relaxing videos while in bed. You can read my smart tv review here.

Our BarbRad has written about the things that help her get a good night's sleep. Among other things, she finds that a sleep mask is very helpful. Barb gives extremely good tips about finding an effective sleep mask here

Don't have a smart tv? Or a television in the bedroom? There is a large selection of video and audio relaxation selections on Amazon. There are just a few:





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


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Sunday, April 19, 2020

55 Different Ways You Can Show Someone You Love Them

55 Ways to Show Someone You Love Them
If anything 2020 has taught us, it's that life is precious. During these crazy pandemic-times, today's review features big and small ways we can show our love to each other.

In the end, it's only love that matters. Our family lost someone yesterday (not from the pandemic), and we've been reflecting and remembering that love is the most valuable asset we take with us.

Let's not wait until it's too late to show those we love how we feel; let's start today. Here's a quick list of ways we can demonstrate we care:
  1.  Call or video your I love you message and say it
  2.  Physically mail a letter or a card
  3.  Make them dinner and clean up the mess
  4.  Clean the house for them
  5.  Give them me-time; watch the kids
  6.  Bring them a coffee, or two
  7.  Play board games and laugh
  8.  Email articles and photos to let them know you're thinking of them
  9.  Write them a poem
  10.  Dedicate a song to them via the radio
  11.  Sing them a song; if you can't sing, even better!
  12.  Create a video that lists all the reasons you love them
  13.  Thank them for all they've done for you
  14.  Accept or give forgiveness
  15.  Say "I love you" as often as you can
  16.  Bring them breakfast in bed
  17.  Send flowers or a plant
  18.  Drop off treats, gifts, personal drawings or groceries when social distancing
  19.  Have cozy gifts delivered; throw blankets, pillows
  20.  Snail mail a card every day, with a beautiful quote, for a month or a year
  21.  Let them talk; be a listener
  22.  Don't offer your opinions, just be there
  23.  Don't try to solve unsolvable problems, just be there
  24.  Accept each other's differences and just love each other for who you are
  25.  Use please and thank you with your family members
  26.  Speak with a kind voice to your loved ones
  27.  Give sarcasm a break from time to time
  28.  Remember they were once a little child, see them that way
  29.  Keep dark thoughts at bay, and send people love and light often
  30.  Remember none of us are perfect
  31.  Go 24 hours judgment-free - judge nothing, forgive everything
  32.  Read together, sing together, dance together
  33.  Set a goal to laugh with them at least 20 times in one day
  34.  Live for the moment, the specific moment you're sharing
  35.  When possible, if possible, hug each other
  36.  Start a story by email where everyone adds their portion and emails it to the next person
  37.  Pray together in person or virtually
  38.  Use your thoughtful inside voice when you have to ask for something
  39.  Give them something personal that holds special meaning to you
  40.  Ask them their opinion, so they feel they matter
  41.  When they've made a mistake, remember your own mistakes before reacting
  42.  Be a safe place for someone to land
  43.  When they speak to you in confidence, keep it confident
  44.  Don't gossip about people you love to other people you love
  45.  Serve your community in some fashion; do it together
  46.  Give each other space
  47.  Be on their team in life
  48.  When discussing testy issues, do it with grace and respect
  49.  Smile at your loved ones - this one seems silly, but try it, you'll be surprised
  50.  Laugh at their jokes
  51.  It's ok to be happy; show joy in front of your friends and family
  52.  Don't be afraid to apologize if you've made a mistake
  53.  Forgive them if they can't apologize when they've made a mistake
  54.  Be the change you want to see in a relationship
  55.  When you need love, give love
When summed up, we should consider the lessons taught in the Paradoxical Commandments, also known as The Anyway Poem. Listen to the gorgeous song interpretation by Martina McBride here in her famous song, Anyway.

The above suggestions are fairly obvious to most of us; however, sometimes we forget it's how we make each other feel that's remembered. 

I'll end with a video poem I created a few months ago called Living in Light - Stay safe and blessings to you.






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


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Saturday, April 18, 2020

Reviewing Arbonne's Lip Duos - The Best of Both Worlds for Lipstick Lovers

Now I should start off by saying that I generally don't wear much make up.  When I do get the urge to 'doll myself up' I tend to just stick to a CC cream, lipstick and sometimes a lick of mascara so it does seem strange that I'm reviewing Lip Duos!

Arbonne Lip Duos - Matte and Gloss lipstick in one


When it comes to lipstick though I must admit as soon as I tried Arbonne's Lip Duos I was hooked.   This weekend Arbonne have launched 17 new products including 2 new Lip Duos.   This has made the colour selection a lot more rounded in my opinion as it was lacking in the pinks before.

Arbonne's Lip Duos - Pink Matte Lipstick & Pink Lip Gloss in the one stick
The two new colours

Why are Lip Duos Better Than Lipsticks?


I think Lip Duos are way better than lipsticks because they are (as the name suggests) doubled ended.   One end is a matte lipstick while the other end is a gloss, in my mind as someone who doesn't wear cosmetics very often this gives a lot more choice.

I usually prefer a matte look which these provide, my daughter however prefers a gloss look which these also provide.   You can also use the gloss end over the top of the matte for a really finished, deep look. 

I always had quite full lips when I was younger, but as I age I have noticed that they have become thinner and these lip duos are ideal if you have thin lips.

Lip Duo's Minimize the Look of Thin Lips


Choose from the selection of colours available in the Lip Duos (or get all of them so you have variety).   Apply the matte lipstick to your lips and then take the gloss and simply apply it on the Cupid's bow of your lips and down into a point in the middle of your lower lip, similar to the shape of a love heart.

How to add gloss over matte lipstick to make the lips seem fuller
Image from Pixabay adapted by Lou's Designs


As this is adding gloss to what is the fullest part of your lips it 'fools the brain' of anyone looking at your lips into thinking they are fuller.   It's a tip I was taught as a teenager when I didn't need to use it, but I'm grateful that I remembered it and that the lip duos make it easy to apply.

Lip Duos are So Easy To Apply


Using a lipstick when you're not used to it sometimes doesn't give an even line (in my case anyway), back in the day I always used a lip liner, but that was when I wore make up all the time.   I have never mastered applying lipstick with a brush so that idea was out.

When I got my first lip duos (2 years ago) I discovered that they come with these cool applicators that are simply a breeze to apply - I really don't think you can mess these up!

The new addition to the collection look like a lot of fun, but if you're not a pink girl then that's okay there are plenty of others to choose from.   My favourite (at the moment, I'm waiting to try the two new ones) is Jasmine.   Which colour do you like best?



Oh and I forgot to mention these are vegan, cruelty-free, paraben free, mineral oil free and feel absolutely gorgeous on.

BTW, Yes, I am an Arbonne Consultant!


If you are interested in any of the Arbonne products I've reviewed please reach out to me either via Messenger or DM me on Instagram, I'd love to talk about any products that you want more information on as well as make sure you get the best deal possible.

Here's a few reviews you may have missed:


Reviewing Arbonnes pink clay face maskMake #selfcare FUN with this Pink Clay Face Mask
Arbonne's Rescue & Renew range is basically like having a day spa set in your home and my favorite 'member' of that set is the face mask. Formulated from French pink clay I have one word for this face mask - heavenly!

Reviewing Arbonne Essentails Herbal Tea one of the products from the 30 days to healthy living programReviewing Arbonne Essentials Herbal Tea
Known in some countries as herbal tea and others as a detox tea this is a drink I have every day as it's formulated with herbs that help to support my body. It also happens to taste really nice, I even know a few people who do not call themselves tea drinkers who now enjoy this beverage.

Reviewing Arbonne's Prepare & Endure by Phytosport - a vegan sports supplementReviewing Prepare & Endure by Phytosport
Arbonne's Phytosport Prepare & Endure is a vegan, non-caffeinated pre-workout. The formula provides your body the energy it needs for optimum performance from amino acids, B12 and a botanical formulation of cayenne, ginseng and tumeric.

Keeping soreness at bay with Phytosport's After Workout Supplement - a reviewHow to Keep Post-Workout Soreness at Bay - the Easy Way
Arbonne's Phytosport range includes a post workout supplement called After Workout. This supplement includes BCAAs which are taken to help your muscles knit together quicker and so reduce muscle soreness post-workout.

Reviewing Arbonne's RE9 Advanced Cellular Renewal MaskReviewing Arbonne's RE9 Advanced Cellular Renewal Mask
The active botanical ingredients in this face mask are pineapple and papaya and these fruits are used because they are a natural source of AHAs. This review will tell you what AHAs are and how they work, but from a lay person's perspective they just mean silky smooth skin with a WOW factor!

Tea Tree Oil and it's usesReviewing Uses for Tea Tree Oil
I have been using Tea Tree oil for over 20 years now and absolutely love it. In this article I share different ways you can use the 100% pure essential oil around your home as well as for your skin and other ailments.

Reviewing Arbonne's Multi Vitamin & Mineral powder supplementReviewing a Multi Vitamin & Mineral in Powder Form
Now I don't know about you, but I am convinced that tablets are just getting bigger and bigger in fact my last multi vitamin tablets looked like horse tablets (as my mum would say!), when I heard that Arbonne had released a multi vitamin & mineral in powder form I just had to try it and then review it for you!

Reviewing the Green Ogre drink - a healthy drinkReviewing the Green Ogre Drink
The Green Ogre Drink is a health drink that I have every single morning. It is basically made up of four different Arbonne nutritional products and water and I enjoy it instead of a morning coffee. In this review I talk about what I believe it does for me as well as going through the ingredients for you.

Reviewing how to reboot your body with Arbonnes 30 days to healthy living and beyondReviewing How to Reboot Your Body
This review talks about my experience with Arbonne's 30 days to healthy living and beyond plan. I think this nutritional plan is amazing and it is the reason that I have become such a keen ambassador for Arbonne products. My body was certainly 'rebooted' on this program and I am far from alone in my findings.

Reviewing Arbonne's Focus Blend - essential oils for concentrationReviewing Arbonne's Focus Blend
I absolutely love essential oils and have been using them for years (way before I had heard of Arbonne). I was really keen to try their blends and this one is one that has been formulated to help provide clarity and focus. I review the different oils that have been used in the blend and what properties they each bring.

Reviewing Greens Balance by ArbonneReviewing Greens Balance by Arbonne
I am sure that your mom told you to eat your greens, I know mine did. Greens Balance by Arbonne provides a serve of fruit and veg from a rainbow of different coloured fruit and vegetables. It is great to add into your food, take as a shot or in a shake as I know many people struggle to get enough serves of fruit and veg in their day.

Why Fizz Sticks Should be Part of Your Emergency KitWhy Fizz Sticks Should be Part of Your Emergency Kit
If you're wondering what fizz sticks are they are basically a natural energy drink. Now you may think well I don't need them in my emergency kit, but what if you have no electricity or any way to make yourself a coffee, then add the stress of whatever emergency situation you're in (perhaps throw in a young family), you need a quick and simple way of getting caffeinated (and staying hydrated) enter fizz sticks.




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


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Review This is Dedicated to the Memory of Our Beloved Friend and Fellow Contributor
We may be apart, but You Are Not Forgotten

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