Friday, July 31, 2020

When Calls the Heart - Hallmark TV Series Reviewed

When Calls the Heart
Many years ago, I read the "Canadian West" book series by Janette Oke.  A few years ago, I started watching the Hallmark channel series "When Calls the Heart" which is based on that book series and is titled after the first book in the series.  

A few weeks ago, I decided to start watching the TV series again from the beginning.  I do love the show!  With the promised release of season eight in 2021, I wanted to go back to the beginning before the new series actually airs.  Yes, I realize I have plenty of time before 2021, but I rarely spend a lot of time watching TV during the holidays and I expect it to take me a few months to watch all of the episodes again.

I would also like to read the book series again.  Janette Oke is one of my favorite authors.  Decades ago, her books were responsible for my discovery of romantic books with a religious theme, which is my preferred book genre.  Any time I see her name on a book, I know I am safe to read that book.  That is extremely important to me.  I don't like grotesque or explicit content in a book or in movies.  Having authors I know will protect my eyes and mind from uncomfortable subject matter makes my book and movie selections a whole lot easier.

This sweet series, that deals with real life issues, is an inspiration.  I really like all of the characters and actors past and present.  

There are extremely sad times in the show, but overall I am left with a feeling of happiness after watching an episode.  And, I am always eager to watch the next one. It is so nice to be able to watch them back to back, without delays or months between the seasons. I have been surprised to realize there were a few things I had forgotten and have enjoyed rediscovering them.


The Synopsis of the Hallmark Series, When Calls the Heart


 When Calls the Heart - Seasons 1-5
Ultimate Collector's Edition
Check Price
In search of a purposeful life, Elizabeth Thatcher (Erin Krakow) accepts a teaching position in Coal Valley in western Canada.  She immediately discovers that her wealthy family background has not prepared her for the frontier.  That is pretty obvious to everyone, but she is determined to survive, thrive, and succeed.  Fortunately for Elizabeth, she is befriended by a very respected and loved resident, Abigail Stanton (Lori Loughlin) who supports and encourages her in her new life.

Coal Valley has recently endured a horrific coal mine explosion that has made dozens of the women in town (including Abigail Stanton), widows and many of the school children fatherless.  Their church, which housed their school, was burned down.  The classroom has been moved into the saloon, the only local business with a large enough room.  The saloon also doubles as a hotel, which means the students are occasionally interrupted by guests coming in or out, even though the bar is closed during school hours.

Shortly after Elizabeth arrives in Coal Valley, a newly assigned Mountie arrives.  Constable Jack Thornton is not happy with his new assignment.  He was headed to the desired and prestigious assignment of Cape Fullerton when he was redirected and sent to Coal Valley instead.  As soon as Jack hears Elizabeth's last name, he realizes she is the reason he was reassigned and is immediately resentful.  She is clueless about why the new Mountie seems to be mad at her until he explains that clearly her father had him reassigned so he could watch over his "princess" daughter.  Elizabeth isn't happy about it either.  She wants to prove herself capable and independent. She doesn't want or need a Mountie "taking care" of her and she is quick to point that out to Constable Jack.  This is just the first of many conflicts and misunderstandings between Elizabeth and Jack.

Each episode is filled with frontier adventure, drama, life, love, & loss.  Elizabeth is the main character, but there are several other individuals whose stories and lives become very important to the viewer.  Be prepared, you may find yourself talking to the TV, laughing, crying, hissing or even booing some of the people and scenes in this fabulous Hallmark series which will leave you wanting more.  
 

One Extra Note: Be sure you have access to Season 6 before you watch Season 5. You won't wish the finale of Season 5 to be the last thing you see.






Currently, the "When Calls the Heart" seasons can be purchased on DVD linked above, but are also available on Amazon to pay per episode though Season 7.  


More Great News for "When Call the Heart" - Hallmark has announced there will be a Season 8!


Check Out More Movie Reviews at
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Or TV Series or Mini Series Reviewed Here



When Calls the Heart - Hallmark TV Series Reviewed Written by:
House of Sylvestermouse



 


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Thursday, July 30, 2020

DIY Copper Bookmark - Painting With Fire

DIY Copper Bookmark

I have always been a maker.  At the moment, I find myself fascinated with copper as canvas. There is something entirely mesmerizing about painting with fire on copper.  Over the past few days, I have experimented with the creation of copper bookmarks.  I'd like to share the process for those who might enjoy giving this a try.

You can do so much with copper, but I am focusing, right now, on hammered, stamped, and annealed copper.  I call the annealing of my pieces "painting with fire."  It is my absolute favorite part of this project.  When you take a torch to copper, you never know exactly how the finished piece will look.  I am always delighted to see the surprising effects of heat on my metal works of art.

My M.O. (modus operandi) happens to be the repurposing of materials.  I love nothing more than to bring new life to those things that have unseen, or unused, potential.  In this case, I was fortunate enough to reclaim some small copper sheets that were the remnants of a solar installation.  Though the metal was scratched and tarnished, with irregular edges, I knew it held great promise, and a beauty to be found when its true colors were revealed.  These are the steps I took to transform the copper.

Step One: Cutting the Copper
I first considered using a hacksaw to cut the copper sheets into bookmark-sized pieces.  After trying that, I decided it would be much faster and easier to use my Dremel Saw-Max with the metal cut-off wheel.  That worked perfectly.  The important thing was to protect the surface of the copper using painter's tape.

Cutting the Copper Using Dremel Saw-Max

Step Two: Filing the Rough Edges
After cutting the copper, the edges needed to be deburred to remove the sharp slivers of metal.  I used a round file for this step.

Filing the Metal Burrs

Step Three: Rounding the Corners
Because the corners of the bookmark were sharp, the next step was to use my Dremel rotary tool, with a sanding bit, to gently round off those points.

Rounding the Corners Using Dremel Rotary Tool

Step Four: Cleaning the Copper Surface
Before heating the copper, I needed to clean off the surface tarnish, fingerprints, etc.  The simple way to do this is with fine steel wool (00 grade) and a little elbow grease.  When I was done, the copper was nice and shiny (see the center image below).  I chose to leave some of the character marks (a few nicks and minor scratches).  My work is not meant to have a machined look.  I want it to be wabi-sabi (where the imperfection is the beauty).

From Tarnished to Bright, Shiny Copper

Step Five: Painting With Fire
I love this step!  My bookmark blank is now laid on a moist sand mound.  I place the front side of the bookmark facing down (because that is the side of the copper that will have the most colorful effect after I torch the back side).  I use a mini butane torch to paint (anneal) the copper.  Basically, I just heat the metal until it begins to turn vibrant purple, blue, and fuschia colors.  The possibilities are endless and no two "paintings" are ever the same.

Butane Mini Torch and Fuel

Painting With Fire - Torching the Copper Blank

Newly Torched Copper Bookmark

The Infinite Variety of Fire-Painted Copper Bookmarks

Step Six: Water Bath
Using a forceps, I then plunge the hot metal into a cool water bath.  Next, I pat dry the copper with a soft cloth.  (It's also important to wear clean, soft gloves so you don't mar the metal surface with fingerprints, etc.)

Cooling the Torched Copper in a Water Bath
Step Seven: Stamping the Bookmark
At this point, I used metal stamps (Impress Art uppercase alphabet set) to imprint a message on the front of the bookmark.  This is the hardest part of the process.  Getting the spacing and impressions right can be extremely challenging.  I had to leave the perfectionist in me out of the equation and just go for it.  What will be, will be!  And that is okay.  It is the charm of handmade art.

Stamped Copper - Rumi Quotation


Step Eight: Edging the Bookmark
Depending on the look you want, you can leave the edges of the bookmark plain, but I wanted a hammered copper look.  This is where I used a ball-peen hammer to make some shallow depressions all around the perimeter of the piece.

Creating Hammered Copper Edge Using Ball-Peen Hammer

Step Nine: Finishing the Piece
I used a tiny bit in my Dremel rotary tool to drill a hole in the end of the bookmark (for attaching a chain and embellishments).  Next, I applied a finish wax (a natural carnauba wax) to protect the surface from fingerprints, tarnish, etc.  Finally, I chose a pair of wing charms to be a whimsical play on my chosen sentiment.

Finished Copper Bookmark

Your acts of kindness are iridescent wings of divine love,
Which linger and continue to uplift others
Long after your sharing.  ~Rumi

I may consider creating a few custom bookmarks for my Etsy store.  Most likely, though, these pieces will be offered as gifts because they are truly a labor of love.







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Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Umbrella: The Word, History, Origin, Parts and A Few of My Favorites

Umbrella: The Word, History, Origin, Parts and A Few of My Favorites

This page is a resource page for things related to a tool that I and many others consider essential, the umbrella. Here you will find a bit of information about the umbrella including a definition, the history, the origins of the word and even a great info graphic that shares the names of all of the parts for you. Finally, you will find a few of my favorite umbrellas with links to more reading about them.

THE WORD UMBRELLA DEFINED


An umbrella can be loosely defined as a canopy to help shield one against rain. They're a tool that is generally designed to be hand held and often are very fashionable. Umbrellas can also shield from the sun but are lesser used in that regard and I think of a parasol as something to be carried to protect from the sun.

HISTORY OF THE UMBRELLA


The basic umbrella was invented over four thousand years ago as a device for protection against the sun. It was the Chinese who waterproofed them for rain protection but it wasn't until the 1900s that the umbrellas which we are familiar with today were invented.

ORIGIN OF THE WORD UMBRELLA


The word umbrella is derived from the Latin word umbra which comes from an ancient Greek word, ombros which means shade or shadow. 

OTHER WORDS FOR UMBRELLA


The word brolly is a slang word for umbrella that is often used in Britain, New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa. Other terms for umbrella include bumbershoot and 'bella with the second coined by pop music star Rihanna. 

PARTS OF AN UMBRELLA


Yes, all of the parts of an umbrella have a name. Here’s an info graphic for those who are curious about what the various parts are called.


Umbrella Parts Infographic


NATIONAL UMBRELLA DAY AND MONTH


Did you know there was such a thing as National Umbrella Day? How about National Umbrella Month? If not, you can read more about National Umbrella Month here and about National Umbrella Day here.

FAMOUS AND INFAMOUS CELEBRITY UMBRELLAS

The umbrella shows up in an endless variety of fictional stories as well as in real life now and historically. Curious about some of the stories tied to celebrity umbrellas? Check out a page of famous celebrity umbrellas by clicking here

FAVORITE UMBRELLAS


I love a beautiful umbrella with a design that suits the user and I love almost any umbrella that is made by Totes. You can discover more about Totes and Totes umbrellas here.

Though I love the patterned umbrellas, there are times when Totes Clear Bubble Umbrellas are the perfect solution. Walking in a crowd? This umbrella will let you see the way forward clearly. You can learn more about Totes clear bubble umbrellas here.

Alternatively, there is the Rainbrella Golf Umbrella. It is good for keeping you dry and it is good for more than just golf. Learn more about the Rainbrella Golf Umbrella here.

Do you have a favorite umbrella? Do you consider yours an important accessory?

See you
under your
umbrella!
Brenda
Treasures By Brenda

Info Graphic Source: Wikipedia


Umbrella: The Word, History, Origin, Parts and A Few of My Favorites





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Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Birthday Gift Ideas & Suggestions Reviewed on Review This Reviews!

Treasures from the Archives of Review This Reviews! 


Birthdays are something everybody has even though birthday celebrations vary drastically.  The type or size of gift also varies based on the needs or desires of the recipient as well as the pocketbook of the giver.

Some people prefer to have a quiet birthday dinner with their immediate family, while others enjoy huge birthday parties with a combination of friends and family.  

Regardless of the type of celebration, it is always nice to be remembered on your birthday.  However, choosing a gift is often a challenge.

Children almost always have a list of gifts they would like to receive, but sometimes we still need additional ideas.  Some givers like to give surprise gifts.

Adults are almost always harder to buy a gift for.  To begin with, you don't always know what an adult may want or need.  Often, they are not nearly as forthcoming with gift requests as children.  That is when we are on our own to find the perfect gift.



Birthday Gift Ideas from Our Contributors 


With over a dozen contributors, all with personal experience in selecting gifts for just about anyone, Review This Reviews offers some really unique and wonderful birthday gift idea suggestions.

Here is a sampling of what you will find reviewed by our contributors.  See our Birthday Gift Ideas Pinterest Board for More!

Birthday Gifts For Men:  



Birthday Gifts For Women:  


Birthday Gifts For The Cook




Birthday Gifts For Children & Teens:  



For Anyone:  



You may also find some really wonderful gift ideas from our collection of Book Reviews, Movie Reviews, or Music Reviews.




A Review This Reviews Pinterest Board - Birthday Gifts Reviewed 


The board below features 30 of our most recent reviews.






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Monday, July 27, 2020

Instacart Vs Shipt Reviewed

My how we have become attached to the Grocery Delivery services Instacart and Shipt in my area. These services have been invaluable for no contact grocery delivery during a time of grocery challenge!


I've used Shipt and Instacart frequently in the past months and have been pleased with both services. Shipt is an annual fee of $99 with delivery for free on orders with a $35 minimum. Instacart is $99 annually or a monthly fee of $9.99 with Instacart Express and delivery for free on orders with a $35 minimum.

The App Design


Both the Instacart app and Shipt app have definitely progressed in the last year. The product offering has increased along with a huge improvement in the accuracy of stock on the shelves. I slightly prefer the Instacart app as it it more intuitively friendly for me, but each app is easy to use and does not require any skills beyond beginner.

Both apps are also available on desktop for those not phone friendly or prefer a larger screen when ordering. The functionality of the desktop or the phone app is the same.

The Stores


The selection of stores for Instacart far exceeds Shipt. The stores will vary by your location. Instacart offers: Meijer, Target, CVS, 2 higher end Independent Grocery Stores, Gordon Food, Kroger, Costco, Aldi, Big Lots, Staples, Petco, B.J.'s Wholesale, Fresh Thyme, Better Health.

Shipt offers: Meijer, Target, Petco, CVS, Office Depot, Sur La Table, Fresh Thyme and Meijer Corner Market.

Shipt is owned by Target. Instacart is privately owned with rounds of fund raising.

Substitutions

Each app has evolved to offer the option of choosing a substitution from a similar product when the order is placed. This can save time for the shopper and yourself for if the stores are running low on stock, given the advance authorization the shopper can substitute in real time without having to text you mid shop.

I have found shoppers for each service to be very good at choosing substitutions or initiating contact via text to approve a substitution. Many shoppers will text an image of the proposed substitution to ensure the order is accurate.

The Surcharge

Once upon a time (as in last year) I paid the same price via the app as I did when shopping in store. This is no more. Each service does bump up the prices and it also varies per store. One store charged a 12 percent surcharge on each item which I found was not cost friendly! Be sure to read the fine print for each store on the app. For items you frequently purchase in store you will recognize the surcharge amount.

No Contact Delivery

Just a few short months ago I would meet the shopper on the driveway. Now and for the foreseeable future no contact delivery is preferred. There is an option in the app to specify exactly where the order should be delivered.

The shopper will text when on the way and text after delivery. I have been utilizing this all purpose cart for groceries and while this cart wasn't the intent when purchasing -  it has sure come in handy. I roll the cart out to the door and the shopper can easily unload the groceries.

This rolling and foldable utility cart has a multitude of uses around the home and I have been very pleased with the purchase. The cart is rugged and can be easily pulled across the lawn for gardening, weeding, planting.

Tipping


Each app gives the option to choose the amount of tip before or after the order is placed. This was not always the case when the apps offered tipping after delivery. There are pros and cons to this feature. In times of high demand a tip can be an incentive for your order to be chosen; however the option always exists post order to adjust the tip.


My Preference?

I actually do not have a preference; however, one of the perks of Shipt is the new Meijer Corner Market. This is  a new version of the traditional Meijer store. It is a much smaller Meijer specializing in groceries plus products from local merchants. This store has become a go to favorite.

Now that demand is less I have found the delivery time slots are available on each. Shipt does have an option to delivery early which I have found very handy and convenient. This is an option where the shopper is allowed to select and deliver the order early; so if a 10-11 a.m. delivery is selected then the shopper could deliver anywhere from 8 a.m. - 11 a.m. You will be notified when the shopper is starting order and notified along the way as the shopper progresses throughout the order to actual delivery.


More Grocery Delivery App Reviews


Instacart Review by Bev Owens
Shipt Review by The Savvy Age
Grocery Delivery Services Reviewed by The Savvy Age


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Sunday, July 26, 2020

12 Step Summary of Preparation Tips for Creating a Niche Book Series

Preparation Tips for Creating a Book Series

In October of 2019, I decided it was time to tackle one item on my bucket list: To publish a book featuring a collection of my personally written poems.

I've written several articles on my experience as a newbie self-publisher. Here's my most recent article that talks about Glossy versus Matte Finish Book Covers.

In the beginning, self-publishing wasn't easy! In fact, it took perseverance, patience, and a bit of holy water followed by soap to wash my mouth out with!

Creating My Series of Riddle Books

Once the poetry book was under my belt, I decided to create a series of Riddle Books. I have this crazy knack for writing riddles, so I decided to use this quirky ability for books.

My driving force for writing riddle books is to create something light, fun, and distracting. It turns out 2020 needs a lot of that!

I started with one book, then decided to create a series under the same topic. I'll keep adding to this series until my mind runs out of ideas.

To date, I've written and self-published four riddle books. I've just completed the content for Riddle Book number five, Halloween Riddles, which is scheduled to be published in August 2020. I also have a sixth riddle book halfway completed but don't have a date planned for that release yet.

Although I'm not a guru-self-publisher, I'd like to share my own process for creating a series of books for a niche. Note that as of this date, I've self-published via Amazon's Self-Publishing platform; however, I plan to expand to other writing platforms in a few months. I'll write about that learning process later.

Note: These are summary tips. I didn't delve into the detail of each. The tips are meant to give you a mental picture of the entire thought process before you dive into the process. In other words, things to consider if you're truly serious about your endeavor.

My Personal Twelve-Step Summary Guide to Creating Your Own Niche Series of Self-Published Books:
  1. Choose a topic for your series of books.
  2. Write and self-publish your book in both eBook and Paperback format. 
  3. Don't rush, take it one book at a time and don't limit yourself to a specific number of books.
  4. Decide if the format for each book will be the same: For example number of chapters, introductions, closing pages, and structure.
  5. Be willing to change your covers several times in the beginning if needed - I did this a lot.
  6. Create a website that reflects your book's topic.
  7. Design and decide upon a Logo for your series.
  8. Create a business Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter page for your book's topic.
  9. Create engaging posts about your book's topic on these social media business accounts.
  10. Create a video that speaks about who you are and put that video on your website and your social media accounts.
  11. Include your social media links and website links at the back of your ebooks and paperback books. Be sure to follow Amazon's rules on links in eBooks.
  12. Create and set-up your Amazon Author page - be sure to link to your website's RSS feed to your Author Page so that the new posts on your websites are updated automatically to your author page. 

Here's a Four eBook Series of My Riddle Books

Amazon automatically created an eBook Series for me. In other words, I didn't have to create the amazon page that offered my eBooks as a series. They put two and two together and created the page. However, for a paperback series, I'll have to assemble that offer to the public myself. I'll let you know how that goes - I still have to learn how to do it!

My About Me Video

Here's the video I created for my Website and Social Media Websites. It's intentionally not 'guru-professional.' My goal was to introduce myself to my followers - to be real - to be who I am, nothing more. There are several video services you can use online, I used Animoto.


Again, these tips are meant as an overview to help you consider the big picture before you start writing your book series.

Happy Creating!


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, July 25, 2020

Reviewing The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

This riveting historical fiction novel is one that is hard to put down once you start reading and takes you on a journey through both the first World War as well as post World War II.

review of the alice network by kate quinn
The Alice Network by Kate Quinn, photo by Lou16


A little while ago I read a review on this very site for a book called The Huntress by Kate Quinn which peeked my interest so when I was in a bookstore and saw The Alice Network by Kate Quinn author of The Huntress I just had to buy it.   The Alice Network was actually penned first and after reading it I am even more keen to read The Huntress!

The Alice Network was actually real as was the leader and Kate Quinn has done a marvelous job of interweaving actual historic events into a story that is hard to put down.

A WWI female spy - Louise de Bettignies - featured in the historical novel The Alice Network
The Queen of Spies herself, courtesy of Wikipedia
The novel features two strong heroines - Eve Gardiner and Charlie St Clair.   Eve's story takes us through the world of women espionage during the first World War and introduces us to the real life Queen of Spies, Louise de Bettignies.   What I found great after finishing this story was the author notes at the end which mention which of the characters were actually based on historical figures and which weren't.   Something I thought very interesting was where Kate Quinn got the idea for Eve's story, along with her spy name.

Eve's chapters take us through the perils of life as a female spy during World War I in France.   The other heroine is Charlie St Clair who finds herself (an American college girl) pregnant and unwed at 19 during the aftermath of World War II.

When her mother takes Charlie to Europe to dispose of her 'little problem' they make a stop in England where Charlie leaves the hotel to search for Eve Gardiner who was a name on the bottom of a missing persons report for her French cousin who went missing during the war.

Together they head to Europe, along with Eve's Scottish helper and driver and start on their individual quests - Charlie to find her cousin Rose and Eve to hunt down her enemy who handed her over to the Germans during WWI.

As the book interweaves through the two story lines we learn more about both heroines along the way and find where they both have to make major decisions which could totally change the outcomes of their lives.   The book also exposes the double standards women faced during WWI and showed how little these double standards had changed by the 1940s. 

Obviously as with any historical fiction some liberties were taken, but I'd love to think that Louise de Bettignies did buy ridiculous hats when travelling and was able to inject some fun into her life of intrigue.   I like the idea of her having the personality that was displayed in the book as the life of a spy in France at that time was very bleak - as it was for most every day people in Europe at that time.

I would love to see this book turned into a movie as I'm sure my husband would enjoy it.  What can you expect from this book?   If you pick up this book expect suspense, intrigue, a little romance and so many twists and turns.




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Friday, July 24, 2020

Bird Decor for the Home Reviewed

Bird Decor
I like all wildlife decor, but I recently realized how often I choose bird decor for my home.  

I love birds, but I'm not sure if my decorating choices are because of my love for birds, or if it is because of availability.  I do see a lot of decorative accessories that feature birds.  

I also take a ton of pictures of birds.  Again, they are what "decorate" my backyard daily and are easily available to photograph. I enjoy seeing the flashes of color zipping across the sky, as well as, sitting in my trees. 

We also enjoy walking wooded trails, driving along jeep trails, and exploring nature.  I get really excited when I capture on bird's photo in a unique setting.  That was the case with the gorgeous owl photo (shown below) now available in my Zazzle store.

Birds always remind me of scripture.  So many verses come to mind when I see a dove, a sparrow or an eagle.  Perhaps, that is the main reason I love birds so much.  They always remind me of God and His promises to mankind. My relationship to God is the core of my very being and I delight at every reminder of Him. 


Bird Pillows Make Home Decor Impact

Barred Owl - Here's Looking at You! Throw Pillow - Available on Zazzle - Photo by Cynthia SylvestermouseBarred Owl - Here's Looking at You! Throw Pillow - Available on Zazzle - Photo by Cynthia SylvestermouseCheck Price
I have multiple throw pillows on my couches, chairs and even beds that feature birds.  Several are only birds, but others have birds as part of the wildlife & nature scenes with flowers, rabbits, or foxes.  All are welcoming additions to my home decor.  

Using pillows that feature birds are such a great way to add a touch of color  or contrast to a room, just like they add to nature.  

Most of my furniture is tan or brown with dark wood.  My home needs those sparks of beauty interspersed among those otherwise bland decor choices.  I consider the brown to be the background for the beauty.

These are a few of the bird throw pillows that liven up a room by adding contract or color in home decor. 




Bird Magnets Hold Reminders


Click Magnet Image to Purchase
I have at least a dozen bird magnets on my refrigerator.

We use them to hold notes, newspaper clippings, recipes, or even photos in place.  My favorites are the ones that also feature quotes from the Bible.  I like those little reminders around. 

I work in the kitchen almost all day long.  Whatever happens, conversations, accidents, or actual work, it is usually in my kitchen or I hear about it in my kitchen.  

I find myself glancing at those scriptures as I catch my breath.  They help calm me and remind me that God is always in control and is here with me.

I find it rather ironic that something so inexpensive can make such a huge impact on my daily life. 


Bird Coasters in Every Room

Click the Coaster Image to Purchase these Bird Coasters

We have coasters in every room of our home to protect our wood and marble table tops.  

Most drinking glasses or mugs will leave a ring on whatever surface it is resting on.  Therefore, I always want my coasters to protect my tables.  

I have several sets of the bird coasters featured on the right.  They are my favorite coasters in my home.  Not only do I adore the bird images, but I also like how easy they are to clean.  These coasters are made for ceramic tile and have a protective backing to prevent scratching the wood table tops.  

It is really hard for me to choose which of these birds I like the best because they are all so beautiful.  Even the female cardinal, which is not known for her color, holds a special place in my heart.  After all, without her, there would be no vibrant red male cardinals.


Bird Trinket Boxes


Bird Trinket Box
My Photo is Linked to a Similar Trinket Box Available on Amazon
I also collect trinket boxes. Among my favorites, are of course, my birds. 

My husband has sought out and given me some of the most beautiful bird trinket boxes. He even gave me a display tree for my bird boxes for Christmas one year. It certainly makes displaying my jeweled boxes a lot easier. Now I can adore them all at once and they take up a lot less space. 

I know some people consider these knick knacks to be useless clutter, but I consider them trinkets of love. After all, it took decades to build my collection of bird trinket boxes. Each one reminds me of a special occasion, a thoughtful gift and a very considerate giver. 



Additional Ideas in Bird Home Decor include Kitchen Towels, Bed Linens, Decorative Lamps, Bird Teapots, Bird Platters/Trays, Sugar Bowls & Creamer sets, Salt & Peppers Shaker Sets, Figurines & more.  The ideas really are extensive.




 Bird Decor for the Home Reviewed by:

House of Sylvestermouse




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Thursday, July 23, 2020

Visit Missouri-Fort Zumwalt Park


We have several parks in our area, but my favorite is Fort Zumwalt Park.  This 48 acre park is both scenic and historic.  It has a wonderful 3.5 acre lake and lots of trails and paths to enjoy nature.


Newly Renovated

The lake named Lake Wetsel, after a board member that championed the lake, was completely dredged during 2019.  At that time several small bridges and a walking path were added.  This makes it a wonderful place to take a stroll or go for a more energetic walk.




Historic Features


I love seeing the fort each time I go to the park.  It is a wonderful recreation of a log cabin from the late 1700's.  Here is a quote about the Zumwalt home from the O'Fallon city website.   https://www.ofallon.mo.us/fort-zumwalt-park
"It’s hard to imagine the O’Fallon area as the leading edge of the American frontier. But in 1799, when Daniel Boone and his family settled just a few miles away, the area was a wilderness in which Native Americans hunted, fished and trapped game.
At about the same time that Daniel Boone arrived, Jacob Zumwalt and his extended family settled in the O’Fallon area circa 1798, building a large log home. A few years later, when the War of 1812 set off deadly guerilla raids with Native Americans ambushing and killing American settlers, local families fled to the shelter provided by the Zumwalt’s home, which is said to have been fortified with a stockade fence.  A spring, which is now Lake Whetsel, supplied water.
Zumwalt’s Fort, as the fortified house came to be called, was one of 35-plus “settler forts” that once stood in Missouri. Boone’s Fort at present-day Matson, Missouri, was the largest.
The reconstructed Zumwalt’s Fort opened in 2015 as a gift to the City from the O’Fallon Community Foundation. It is the only rebuilt War of 1812 settler fort in the state.
Interpretive signs at the site provide structural details and information about the people who lived here in the days when the O’Fallon area was part of the American frontier."

Another historic house in the park is the Heald house.  It is a large brick home built near the fort on a hill called "Stony Point" .  It was first built in 1884 and was renovated by the City of O'Fallon in 2001.  I love taking photos of the flowers around the house.



Wildlife

Wildlife abounds in the park both in the woods surrounding the lake and in the lake itself.  I particularly like watching the colorful ducks in the lake.




















Here is an Iris I photographed along the lake.

Other Activities at the Park

The park features many other attractions and special events.  Here are a few of the most popular.
  • Picnic Areas
  • Pavilion for Group Gatherings
  • Large Playground
  • 18 Hole Disc Golf Course- this scenic 18 hole course winds it way through the park.  The course is free for open play and scorecards are available near the first tee.
  • Celebration of Lights- each December the park hosts a annual celebration of lights.  This celebration features a drive-through display of seasonal lights.  It also has nights set aside for a walking tour and some nights there are carriage rides available.
  • Founders Day Celebration-The park hosts this celebration in May with live blue-grass music, hands on activities and heritage demonstrations.
  • The Park is the host for The St. Charles Model Railroad Club.

Photo Shoot

I love to do photo shoots with my granddaughters and the park is the perfect place to take their photos.  Here are a few from their recent visit.






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Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Awesome Solar Lights set the Mood Beautifully - A Product Review

Summertime and the Living is Easy!

During the warm months of the year, it's really nice to be able to spend as much of that time as possible outdoors.  The lovely evenings are just so nice with warm breezes blowing and all the lovely scents and sounds of summer filling the air.  With a little bit of planning, you can make your backyard into an evening wonderland.  The addition of Fairy Lights in the trees, around the fence and over a pergola will allow you to enjoy that outdoors for hours after the sun goes down.



If you have taken the time to really make your space beautiful and useful, I'm sure that you would have added some fairy lights to your space.  My niece loves her fairy lights and has made their pool area and the kids play area like a magical place to be.  There is enough light to keep the kids swimming well after the sun has gone down.  With this summer of 2020 being one of the hottest so far, the kids are enjoying the added time they have in the water.





Wonderful, Beautiful and Economical Solar Lights

Years ago we would never have thought to add this kind of lighting anywhere. You would have to have a power source installed.  And then it was just too expensive to plug all those lights in.  Just think of the added costs when Christmas rolls around and the decorations are all up, the difference in the Hydro bills was sometimes staggering.  

Well, that is not a problem anymore.  Solar technology has come a long way in making outdoor lighting not only beautiful and functional, but it is affordable too.  LED lights make them bright and most important, they are waterproof.  So it doesn't matter if they get wet!   The initial cost is in purchasing the lights.  Once you have them, there is no further cost involved anymore.  The only thing you have to think about is placing the solar panel somewhere where the sun will shine on it for at least 6 to 8 hours a day.  The longer the sunshines on the solar panel, the longer the lights will glow into the night.  Mine usually turn on about 8:45 in the evening and they are still lit at 4:30 in the morning.  

You don't even have to buy all your lights at the same time.

If you are on a budget, then buy one or two strings of these solar lights at a time.  Whatever you can afford, and then the following year purchase another couple of sets.  Depending on how much light you want in your yard, you may stop with just one string.  If you are truly an outdoorsy type in the summer, you may opt for many more.  My niece and her family, spend all their evening outdoors, so they have outfitted their area with lights so that the kids can go swimming right into the wee hours.  After all it is summer and school is out!  

As you can see from these pictures, her home is done with all white fairy lights, but they also come in colors. The colored lights have programs attached so that they can fade, or twinkle on and off, or run like a billboard.  You choose how you want the lights to act.    

Fairy lights can even make the garden path glow!  You can take a walk through the grass and check for nightlife in the flower beds. Moths love the fairy lights, coming out and enjoying them as well.   Pets sure don't mind having their yard lit up!  You might even appreciate that you can check where your dogs or cats are and if there are any unwanted critters about!  Having your yard lit up can save you the trouble of giving Fido a Skunk bath!  Skunks are nocturnal, so beware.  Fairy lights on the Patio are wonderful when you have company.  No more trying to see each other in the dark.  You can still bring out some candles for ambiance if you wish, but the fairy lights themselves would be enough.

Let your imagination run wild and stir up some interest in the great outdoors!  Even after the kids have gone to bed, it's nice to take a glass of wine, some cheese and crackers and just wind down under the magic of the fairy lights and the stars.  It's a great way to relax your mind and body!

For myself personally, the only other thing I would add to my enchanting backyard, would be a nice wireless speaker playing some soft music. You can use your playlist from your phone, tablet, Amazon Music and so much more on them.   Tracey from ReviewThisReviews.com had a great wireless speaker featured you can read her review here: OontZ Angle 3 Bluetooth Speaker.


Don't let the summer months go by without enjoying them fully.  Evenings outdoors are wonderful and relaxing for mind, body and spirit.  Everyone I know can really use this relaxation these days.


All the pictures in this post are from my niece's home (Tara Hocaliuk)  shared with her permission.





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