Wednesday, August 31, 2022

An Unusual, Delicious Strawberry Chocolate Tea With 0 Calories

If you're a tea lover, like exploring new flavors and prefer your "cuppa" slightly sweet, The Republic of Tea's Strawberry Chocolate Tea is definitely worth a try. This delicious, low caffeine herbal tea has no calories, so it's a lovely, guilt-free sweet treat you can enjoy any time of day.

Strawberry Chocolate Herbal Tea No Added Sugar, Low Caffeine, Naturally Sweet & Delicious!

I have been a lifelong tea drinker. While I enjoy a cup of coffee from time to time and I have been having one more often since switching to a low carb / keto diet, I'm definitely not in the "don't talk to me until I have had my morning cup of coffee" camp. However (with apologies to the Florida Citrus Board), "An afternoon without tea is like a day without sunshine." My favorites are made by The Republic of Tea, Harney & Sons, Twining, Tazo and Stash.

For the first half of my life, I drank only black tea varieties, growing up with the ubiquitous orange pekoe, then branching out into English Breakfast and Darjeeling. Later fruit flavored black varieties such as peach, apricot and mango became my favorites. About 10 years ago, I began taste testing green, white and rooibos (red) for their health benefits as well as decaf and low caffeine teas for evening sipping, after noticing that my previously low sensitivity to caffeine was increasing with age. I found the flavor of most green teas so grassy as to be unpalatable, but eventually I discovered The Republic of Tea Decaf Ginger Peach Green Tea and the company's naturally caffeine-free Ginger Peach Red Rooibos Tea that, until recently, was the only red rooibos beverage I enjoyed.

Republic of Tea Strawberry Chocolate Tea and tall insulated stainless steel travel cup

Since I consume not just a cup or mug but a large, 16-ounce Thermos insulated travel tumbler (and sometimes two) of leafy brew that I sip on over the course of several hours each day, I like having a nice selection to choose from. This year, I was in the mood to find a few new favorites and take a break from some of my old standbys. Since The Republic of Tea offers the largest variety I've seen and frequently adds to its line, I focused my search on their herbal and low caffeine offerings.

I found several delightful, new-to-me flavors, including naturally caffeine-free Queen's Cake Vanilla Fruit Tea and refreshing Whistledown Punch hibiscus iced tea with hints of citrus and pineapple from the company's Bridgerton collection, as well as SuperAdapt Restore and Reset, an organic herbal blend with reishi mushrooms and cocoa that's earthy and calming, and my newest obsession, Strawberry Chocolate Tea.

Chocolate covered strawberries
Image by Brook from Pixabay

Smooth, Satisfying and Slightly Sweet

I adore chocolate and cocoa, but I had never heard of a tea flavored with either one before encountering the company's Cuppa Chocolate Tea collection. I was skeptical but also intrigued by this idea. I also love chocolate-covered strawberries. So, after reading the overwhelmingly positive customer reviews of The Republic of Tea Strawberry Chocolate Tea on the company's website, I decided to give that one a try and ordered a 36-bag tin on Amazon (along with the SuperAdapt Restore and Reset and the two Bridgerton collection flavors I mentioned).

According to the label on the back of the tin, the strawberry chocolate flavor is an "Herb Tea for Sweethearts" with an equally fanciful description: "Chocolate mingles with a hint of ripe strawberry atop the rich flavor of rooibos in this delicious, aromatic and romantic cup." After highlighting rooibos's high antioxidant content, it invites us to "Enjoy a lovely cup of dessert with your sweetheart." The copywriters' creativity failed to persuade me, but it did amuse me. My husband doesn't much care for tea and, if I were to offer him a cup of this magical romantic potion, no doubt he would look at me quizically before politely declining! 

Imaginary romantic associations aside, I hoped I would find this brew pleasurable to sip, whether alone or in my husband's company. What I never expected was that it would become my new current, go-to hot beverage!

Rooibos, with its gentle, smooth, nutty and slightly sweet (as well as somewhat earthy) flavor makes a perfect base for the chocolate and strawberry in this blend. To me, those two are more like "topnotes" or supporting players for the rooibos, but even though I'm usually not as fond of earthy teas, the rooibos flavor plays nicely with others and doesn't dominate. There is also a hint of vanilla that adds to this delightful cuppa.

Many customers find the natural sweetness sufficient for their tastes. I like mine a bit sweeter, especially since I often enjoy it in place of a dessert, so I stir in a spoonful of BochaSweet. You may prefer it with a little sugar.

What's In It?

Here are the ingredients in this delicious Strawberry Chocolate Tea:

Rooibos, carob, cocoa kernels, sweet blackberry leaves, natural chocolate and strawberry flavor, and bourbon vanilla beans. 

Using all-natural flavors with nothing artificial helps to give this delightful tea its smoothness.

Naturally Low in Caffeine

Since I enjoy sipping tea in the evening as well as during the day, I always include some decaf, caffeine-free or low caffeine options. Fortunately, The Republic of Tea's Strawberry Chocolate Tea contains very little caffeine. Since both rooibos and carob are caffeine-free, I'm guessing the small amount of caffeine comes from the cocoa kernels.

A Sweet Treat That's Also Good For Your Health

Although it is marketed to appeal to romantics, anyone watching their calories, carbs or gluten will be happy to know that the lovely tea, with its natural sweetness, contains 0 calories and 0 carbs and, like all the company's products, is gluten-free. 

As this 2020 WebMD article about the health benefits of drinking rooibos tea explains, rooibos is rich in polyphenols, antioxidants that have important potential health benefits such as fighting inflammation, lowering blood sugar and reducing blood pressure.

So, while you're sipping your delicious cuppa, you're also doing something good for your body and your health.

Refill pouch of 250 strawberry chocolate tea bags

Save Money With Tea Bag Refills

I love The Republic of Tea's products and commitment to environmental sustainability and responsible use of natural resources, such as its signature round, unbleached tea bags that don't use unnecessary envelopes, strings, tags or staples and the air-tight, light resistant tins that can be refilled over and over or repurposed.

I always buy one of the 36-teabag tins when I want try a new flavor. If I don't love it, I always find an alternative use for the empty tin. For example, I have a couple next to our kitchen sink that hold dish/bottle brushes, and plan to cover a few others with decorative paper to hold some of my small jewelry making hand tools, pens, brushes, etc.

If I like the contents but am still on the fence, I can order a 36-teabag refill for the tin. When I fall in love with a flavor, as I did with the Strawberry Chocolate Tea, I buy the larger, more economical 250 teabags refill to replenish the original tin over and over.

Steeping Tips

The Republic of Tea recommends using one teabag per 6-ounce cup, and for herbal varieties like this one, to use boiling water (200–212 ℉) and steep for 5–7 minutes. I steep mine in my tall, insulated stainless steel travel tumbler, using two bags and 12 ounces of boiling water. 

When I followed the recommended steeping time, the flavor a bit too weak for my liking. Fortunately, I remembered that herbal teas, unlike the black variety, don't become bitter when "over-steeped." So, after experimenting a bit, I found that I much prefer the taste of my strawberry chocolate cuppa after letting it steep for 10 minutes (or even a bit longer). 


An Unusual, Delicious Strawberry Chocolate Tea With 0 Calories by Margaret Schindel

Posts About My Keto Diet Journey

My First Year on The Keto Diet

Preparing to Succeed on the Keto Diet, Part One

Preparing to Succeed on the Keto Diet, Part Two

Low Carb Muffins & Cupcakes: Treats to Enjoy on a Keto Diet

Low Carb Keto Chocolate Yogurt Granola Chip Pudding Recipe

Good Dee’s Keto Cookie Low Carb Baking Mix Review

Hamama Microgreens Growing Kit Review & Success Tips

My Favorite Hamama Microgreens Seed Quilt Accessories

Keto Cheddar Cheese Biscuits With Chives Recipe

The Ultimate Keto Hot Chocolate Recipe

The Best Low Carb Keto Gift Ideas: Keto Gift Guide

The Best Low Carb Keto Cinnamon Muffins

Wholesome Yum Keto Bread Mix and Yeast Bread Recipe

The Good Chocolate 100% Organic No Sugar Dark Chocolate Review

The Best Advice to Maintain Your Keto Diet Weight Loss

My New Irresistibly Delicious Keto Cheese Crackers Recipe

Luscious Low Carb Keto Triple Peppermint Cheesecake Brownies Recipe

Quick & Easy Livlo Blueberry Scones Keto Baking Mix Review

Snack Better With The Best Healthy Keto Cookie Dough Bites

The Best Quick and Easy Low Carb Keto Pizza Recipe

The Best Quick and Easy Low Carb Keto Shortcake Cupcakes Recipe

Comparing the Best Keto-Friendly Chocolate Hazelnut Spreads - No Added Sugars

The Best Low Carb Keto Sandwich and Burger Buns Mix

Blueberry Biscuit Scones — New, Easy, Low Carb Keto Recipe

The Best Keto Pizza Crust Mix With 0 Net Carbs

An Unusual, Delicious Strawberry Chocolate Tea With 0 Calories

Reviews of the Keto Diet by Barbara C. (aka Brite-Ideas)

My Personal Keto Testimonial

How I Stayed Committed to the Ketogenic Way of Eating

Read More Food Reviews by Our Review This Reviews Contributors

Read More Product Reviews by Our Review This Reviews Contributors

Read More Reviews About Health and Wellness by Our Review This Reviews Contributors




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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Tuesday, August 30, 2022

A Review of Making Pickles Without Canning

 


If you have ever made pickles with a hot water bath canner, there is a good chance you ended up with rubbery, soggy pickles with no crunch.  I did!  I tried many different recipes and even tried adding an envelope of some stuff I bought that was supposed to keep your canned pickles crunchy. They were still awful.  I had pretty much given up and resigned myself to forever buying pickles from the grocery store which was a real shame since we grow our own wonderful cucumbers every summer.

One summer day about three years ago, I was talking to a friend of mine on the phone and lamenting about the sheer number of cucumbers I was getting from my garden when she asked me why I didn't make pickles.  I told her of my lack of success in pickle making and she told me about the cold pack pickles she makes every summer.  I was shocked!  I had never heard of making pickles cold, but I had to admit that it made sense, if you wanted them to stay crunchy.  I wrote down the recipe and immediately checked the cupboards to make sure I had all the ingredients, which I did!  

I could not believe how easy it was to make these pickles!  It did not take any special equipment, all I needed was a large bowl, a knife, a ladel and a jar.  It didn't even have to be a mason jar, any jar with a tight fiting lid would do.  I decided to use some large containers I had saved from some deli pickles I had bought for my husband.  That was another great thing about this recipe, you did not have to make 10 jars at a time and spend a whole day pickle making.  My friend's recipe made two jars at a time and took only a few minutes to make. I remember thinking to myself "this has got to be too good to be true!"

Here is what you need:

  • 6 to 8 medium or 8 to 10 small cucumbers 
  • 1 3/4 cups white vinegar 
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup chopped fresh dill weed or 3 to 4 tablespoons dried dill
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped 
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons pickling salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons pickling spice 
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste  (optional)
  • 4 sprigs fresh dill weed or 1 teaspoon of dried

I was lucky, I had all this stuff left over from my prior pickle mishaps and I grow fresh dill in my garden, so I didn't have to go to the store, but if you do, you can get all these ingredients at any large grocery store.  If you don't grow your own cucumbers, just buy some at a produce market.

Making them is really easy, here's how:


Wash and cut up your cucumbers.  You can cut them as rounds or as spears, the shape is up to you.  

Mix the water, vinegar, chopped dill, sugar, garlic, salt, pickling spice, and red pepper flakes in an extra large bowl and stir till the sugar and salt dissolve.

Place the cucumbers in the bowl and stir gently.  Make sure all the cucumbers are fully immersed in the liquid.  Place the bowl on the counter and let it marinate for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Take your freshly washed jars and put a sprig of fresh dill in each or a pinch of dried dill, if you don't have fresh.

Ladel the cucumbers and pickling liquid evenly into the two jars and screw the lids on tightly.  Shake each jar and then place them in the refrigerator.

In ten days you will have delicious dill pickles, cold and crunchy.  If you have any left over juice, you can put it in a jar and keep it in the refrigerator till you have some cucumbers to add to it!




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Monday, August 29, 2022

Book Review: The Promise Between Us by Barbara Claypole White

The Promise Between Us is a novel about a group of people living with varying degrees of anxiety. Trying to get through each day is difficult enough, then add to that that some of them are trying to keep their individual past traumas secret. The characters are flawed and their lives are complicated and messy. 



"Best selling author Barbara Claypole White writes hopeful family drama with a healthy dose of mental illness" - About The Author on goodreads.

 The Promise Between Us by Barbara Claypole White

Maisie MacDonald, 5th grader, is a quirky, young girl living with her father and step-mother. Her mother passed away when she was very young. At least, that is what she has been told. On the outside, to those who meet her, she looks and sounds confident. She has her own style of dress and is quite able to self-advocate. On the inside, she is constantly worried about things such as whether she's been bad or disrespectful. If those around her are going to die and if they do it will be her fault.  She tries to keep her fears and thoughts secret but they are starting to show to those observing her.

Callum (Cal) MacDonald is Maisie's father. He would do anything to protect his daughter. Cal has recently married Lilah. Together, they are working together to sort out the intricacies of becoming a family. They are aware that Maisie has some anxiety; especially about transferring to middle school after 6th grade. 

Uncle Jake,  "who's Dad Point Two" as Maisie refers to him, is a family friend (Cal's best friend) who has helped raise Maisie thus far. On one hand, he is a shallow, handsome actor. On the other hand, he cares for Maisie deeply and probably understands her the most.

Katie Mack is an artist that is volunteering at a program for 6th graders.  Even though Maisie is only a 5th grader, she and her friend have been enrolled in this program. Katie and Maisie meet at the art museum. Katie has struggled with debilitating (life-threatening) anxiety and OCD with fire being one of her main fears. She responded by taking control of those fears to the best of her ability and learning to weld and create metal sculptures. Maisie is drawn to Katie's work. 

Personal Thoughts About The Promise Between Us

Perhaps I enjoyed this story so much because I work with children who have a variety of mental health diagnoses. Day after day, I am both exhausted by the work AND exhilarated by something said or done by these unique individuals. Day after day I have the thought that if we (the allegedly "normal" folks) tried a little harder to listen or understand our lives would be that much more enriched. Instead, we generally try to teach others to "act right" or "behave" or think a certain way. I enjoyed The Promise Between Us because of it's real portrayal of characters who are struggling. 

There are a small number of reviews that mentioned their dislike of the repetition in the story. The truth is, that is the reality of anxiety and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Repetitive and intrusive thoughts that occur over and over and over.  That sort of repetition is what real humans live with on a daily basis. Although, difficult to read at points (yes, it is repetitive) it is part of what made this story so believable and made the characters real. If the repetition irks you, imagine what it is like to try to live a productive life with that happening in your head.

Warning: This book deals with difficult subjects related to anxiety, OCD, and trauma. There are difficult scenes in the story that may trigger some people.  And if it were a movie, it would carry a warning for nudity/sex. 





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, August 28, 2022

Self Publishing 100 Activity Books - A Huge Personal Goal

Self Publishing 100 Activity Books

Most of you who know me know that I have a goal of publishing 100 activity books.

Although this goal is ingrained in my being, I had no idea how to achieve that milestone.

My Newest Activity Book, Easy Sudoku for Adults, Helped Me Breakthrough Being Stuck - Let me Share How

Since 2019, I've published 14 activity books and 1 poetry book for a total of 15 books. That figure includes the newest book "Easy Sudoku for Adults." I've been stuck, and it is absolutely part of the process.

"The How Breakthrough"

I'm not one to wallow in problems. Without a doubt, finding solutions is part of who I am. In the case of finding a way to publish 100 activity books, I've had to think and think and think!

There are numerous 'how-to' videos on self-publishing; I've watched many of them. The guidance is out there; however, finding what works for you and how to implement suggestions is hard.

Most importantly, many how-to's include an automation process that isn't personal. 

Automating is essential, but not at the expense of your product's quality or personalization. Having said that, I've found an efficient way to automate WITH personalization.

So, in summary, work as hard as you can to automate and duplicate, but still, keep your books personal to you. In other words, don't just upload auto-generated activities or content, but do find a way to generate them so you can personalize them!

Never Compromise Quality

  • Finding programs that generate your puzzles (or whatever your project is) can help. However, they are not the answer to speed! 
  • To achieve volume, you need speed, but not at the expense of quality.
  • You still have to find a way to personalize your book. Make them a reflection of you!
  • Check the negative reviews on the competition of other books in your genre. Use those negative reviews as tips for your newly created book.
  • When creating a book, always think about fulfilling a need or solving a problem. 
  • Think about the consumer.
  • Take pride in your creations; after all, your name is attached to them.
  • Oh, that's another thing; I only use my given name, which keeps me honoring my own personal level of integrity.
  • Don't take negative reviews to heart. You will get them; they do hurt. But use those to improve your books! 
  • With Amazon self-publishing, I aim to stay within a three to five-star review rating on each book. So far, so good. 
  • I'm all over negative reviews! I read them, and if the complaint is legitimate, I modify my book based on that review ONLY if it makes sense!
  • Don't be afraid to completely revamp a book if you believe it will help your overall reviews to be positive. I re-did the layout of all 7 of my riddle books for both paperback and ebook versions! That project re-do took me three months!
Automating Includes Developing a Functioning, Duplicatable System
  • Find and use a word processing systems that allow for easy duplication for the next book in a series.
  • Develop consistent templates that can be used, reused, and modified.
For Those Who Don't Have Expensive Word Processing or Other Graphics Programs, Here's What I Use
  • I don't have the paid version of Microsoft Word, so I downloaded "Liberty Office" for free. I use those for my Riddle Books.
  • I use the free version of Canva for my Wordsearch and Sudoko books and probably all other activity books I have yet to create.
  • I create my own book title pages using the free version of Adobe, Adobe-Spark.
  • I use the free version of "Gimp" to change the DPI on my book covers to printable quality.
Create a Website That Will House All of Your Books
  • I plan to expand to other self-publishing companies. I'm only publishing on Amazon's KDP, but my long-term plan is to expand to other self-publishing services. I'm in the middle of learning more about that process. My brain hurts, lol. With your own website, you can direct all your marketing to your website so that when you do expand to other self-publishing companies, you can simply add those options directly to your website. 
  • I rarely ever direct link to Amazon when marketing my books. I don't like having links out there that could potentially change! For that reason, I link to my website.
  • Decide upon a navigation system on your website that makes sense with the books you are creating. I have created a menu on my website that features; Riddles, Answers, Wordsearch Books, and Sudoku Books. I can expand that as I make more books. 
  • When you're creating your site, give thought to your planned growth.
My Final Tip for Today:

You HAVE TO LOVE what you're doing. If you don't, doing the work necessary to achieve any goals is challenging.

I've been stuck along the way, and it's very frustrating. So frustrating that I questioned myself about my goals. But I've long since realized that my goals are real and attainable. 

The biggest tips I can offer anyone taking on a project/passion like this are:
  1. Don't quit.
  2. Keep going.
  3. Take breaks.
  4. Develop duplicatable systems.
  5. Be willing to learn from your own mistakes.
  6. Be ready to make changes.
  7. Take breaks when you're fed up.
  8. Celebrate every book you publish.
  9. Don't let that look of doubt on the face of others affect you in any way.
  10. Monitor the sales activity for the books in your genre.
  11. Keyword research every book you create.
  12. Make sure your goal is what you want.
  13. Visualize where you want to be in a year.
  14. And as my friend Margaret said to me once, "Trust Yourself." I have carried that piece of advice with me for years. Thank you, my friend.
Introducing My 15th Activity Book - Easy Sudoku for Adults




Additional Self-Publishing Articles:

  1. Basic Tips for the Newbie Self-Publisher
  2. Matte or Glossy Book Covers
  3. Confessions of a Newbie Self-Publisher
  4. 5 Helpful Self-Publishing Tools
  5. 3 Tips for a Newbie Self-Publisher
  6. How to Get Started on Your First eBook
  7. 5 Handy FREE Tools for Self-Publishing





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, August 27, 2022

The Big Dark Sky by Dean Koontz – Book Review

Dean Koontz is a master storyteller. His fiction journey began when he was a senior in college and won an Atlantic Monthly fiction competition. Since then, he has never stopped writing.



Koontz latest book published in 2022, The Big Dark Sky, is all we have come to expect from this master of suspense.


Synopsis


Image by Daniel Burkett  from Pixabay 
The setting is Montana where, as a girl, Joanna Chase lived on a ranch until tragedy changed her life. At age 9, after both parents die, Joanna goes to live with an aunt in Santa Fe, New Mexico.


Now it is twenty-five years later. Joanna is a writer still living in Santa Fe. She has only vague memories of the past until she begins to receive pleas – by phone, through her TV, in her dreams.


I am in a dark place, Jojo. Please come and help me.


Unable to ignore these desperate pleas, Joanna is compelled to return to Montana.  Unknown to her until she arrives back at Rustling Willows Ranch, other people, including a scientist, a boy from Joanna's childhood, a private investigator and a computer expert, have also been drawn to this isolated area in Montana, haunted by a sense of imminent danger.


Meanwhile, on the outskirts of this remote ranch, a madman lurks with a disturbing vision which tells him that mass murder is the only way to save the future. 


Summary


Available on Amazon

The synchronicity of coincidences brings together this band of strangers under Montana's big dark sky. Will they be able to defeat the threat that could spell the end for humanity? 

The Big Dark Sky is listed as a #1 Bestseller in Amazon's Science Fiction Adventures~


More Reviews of Books by Dean Koontz:




*The Big Dark Sky – Book Review by Wednesday Elf


  










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Friday, August 26, 2022

A Regrettable Proposal: A Regency Romance (Memorable Proposals Book 1) by Jennie Goutet Reviewed

This is the first book written by Jennie Goutet that I have read, but it won't be the last! 

I have stayed up late, into the wee hours of the morning, for the last two nights reading "A Regrettable Proposal" because I was so absorbed in the story. I simply could not put the book down, even though my eyelids keep closing out of sheer exhaustion. I would wake with a start and begin reading again.  While I desperately needed sleep, I hated it when I got to the ending of the book. Fortunately, there are two more books in the series.  I will start reading book 2 tonight and I can hardly wait. 

Like all Regency Romance novels, this historical story takes place in 19th century England. "A Regrettable Proposal" follows the traditional style of writing by being clean & wholesome to read. It beckons us back to a time of elegance, balls, elaborate ballgowns, horse drawn carriages, and high society. 

In my personal opinion, it is the mark of an extraordinary writer to be able to captivate a reader with a romantic story absent explicit sex, foul language, or extreme violence. 

 

A Regrettable Proposal Synopsis
1812 - London, England

 A Regrettable Proposal: A Regency Romance (Memorable Proposals Book 1)Check PriceStratford Tunstall never expected to be the fifth Earl of Worthing, but when both of his male cousins were killed in war and his uncle died, he fell heir to the Worthing estate, title, and responsibilities. "Family members who had not cared to know him before now would descend upon him at Worthing."  Also, his uncle had taken a ward under his protective wing many years ago and she was also being summoned to the reading of the will.

Eleanor Daventry had no idea what was about to happen to her, but she knew she would survive somehow.  She had been fortunate that her father's long time friend, the fourth Earl of Worthing, had provided for her since her father's death. Under his guardianship, she had received an excellent education and he had already provided for her upcoming "first season" to be presented to society.  While the expectations would be for her to secure a titled suitor, she would prefer to secure a job and marry for love. Regardless, she would try to enjoy her season in London with her best friend, Lydia Ingram, from school.    

The reading of the will surprised everyone, especially Eleanor. Now, what must she do?  

The reading of the will also made Stratford wonder what he must do.  

___________

 

While the Regency time period paints the picture of elegance, beauty, gentility & tranquility, people have always been human. Therefore, there has always been pride, arrogance, envy, & harsh realities. 

This Regency Romance novel is one I can highly recommend to anyone who enjoys historical romantic fiction.


At publishing time of this review, "A Regrettable Proposal" is available for free with a Kindle Unlimited Subscription. Or, you can purchase it with the link below.






House of Sylvestermouse







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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Thursday, August 25, 2022

Sharing Your Memories

Sharing Your Memories
Have you ever wanted to share your memories for your grandchildren and future generations?  There are so many ways to accomplish that and yet, sometimes it is hard to know where to begin.  You could record yourself talking about your memories, write them out by hand into some type of book or type them into various memory book programs.  In this post I will review three of the different methods I have used to share memories with my grandkids.

Memory Book

When my oldest two granddaughters were 13-14 years old, they went through Confirmation at their church. As a gift for each of them I presented them with a book of memories from my life.  The book I used was called, Grandmothers Memories to her Grandchild (a journal of faith and love).


This book has pages for you to write small paragraphs about yourself and other family members.  The paragraphs are interspersed with beautiful photographs of Thomas Kinkaid paintings and faith-based prose.

The book has a place to add the members of your family tree and a page about your birthday, full name and place of birth.  In addition to these pages there are many other topics for you to write your memories.  Here are a few of the topics:
  • What happened in the world when you were born?
  • My favorite verse about love.
  • The best thing about being your grandmother.
  • Memories of my Mother.
  • Memories of my Father.
  • Favorite photos of you and me.
  • Favorite Bible verse.
There are many other subjects that help to give you ideas of what to write.  I found this book easy to write and I like the way it turned out.  I wrote in the book over a 6-month time frame to give me time to think about each subject and then put down my thoughts.

Story Worth Book

On Mother's Day, my son and daughter-in-law gave me a subscription to the "Story Worth" memory book.  Each week I was emailed a question from the company and then I would write my answer to the question and add any photos that I had that would go with that subject.  At the end of 52 weeks the questions and answers, along with the photos were put into a book.   Here is the cover from my book.
Here are a few of the topics from my book.  They are all listed in the index of the book.
  • How did you feel when your first child was born?
  • Which fads did you embrace while growing up?
  • Describe one of you most memorable birthdays.
  • What is one of your favorite memories of your mother?
  • Did you have a car in high school?
  • Who are the best cooks in your family?
  • What did you read as a child?
  • Who inspires you?
  • What simple pleasures of life do you truly enjoy?
  • If you could choose any talent to have, what would it be?
  • Tell me about your siblings.
This is just a sampling of the questions to give you an idea of the types of questions in the book.  If you are sent a question that just doesn't work for you, you can ask for a replacement question.  I did this a couple of time during the year but after some thought I found I could find something to write for every question.

Shutterfly Book

After making memory books of my life, my husband and I decided we would also like some books made of his memories.  I have always made a photo book each year using the format in Shutterfly.  In looking at their options I found that I could also use pages of text in Shutterfly in addition or instead of photos.  We decided this would be a good option for making a book of my husband's memories.

We started with some basic questions that he answered, and that I put in the book along with corresponding photographs.  We then looked at all the questions that I answered in my books, and we used those questions as a starting point for his book.  Each week I give him one or two questions.  I then add the answers to the book.   I also go through old photo albums and copy any photos that will work with the questions.  We are still in the process of creating this book, but I really like the way it is turning out.

Whatever method you decide to use, I encourage you to get started.  I think it is good to do it over several months to a year.  At the end of the project, you will have a wonderful sense of accomplishment and your family will have a wonderful gift from you.



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Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Two Replaced Knees and a Broken Elbow Equals.......A Product Review

No this is not one of Barbara's Riddles, although she has some great Riddle Books! (You can check them out on Review This Reviews if you like right here!


 But the answer to my riddle is dirty floors!  

I must admit that I like clean floors but I don't particularly like cleaning them!  Getting down and dirty in order to clean those tiles can be back breaking at the best of times.  But after having double knee replacements and a broken elbow, getting down on that floor is impossible.  Plus, since I started my Keto Lifestyle (with Margaret's help)  a couple of years ago, my Hubby decided that is was his turn to take over the cooking chores!

I'm not complaining because he is very careful and cooks for me with my Carbs ever on his mind.  But after my wonderful husband has been in the kitchen chopping and peeling and generally making a mess, the floor looks less than fantastic!

Now I must admit, I'm a little bit of a nut when it comes to having the kitchen floor clean.  There is nothing like getting down on the hands and knees and scrubbing  all those little nooks and crannies!  But since arthritis and recent the knee surgery, that is not happening anymore.  I had to find someway to get my floors as clean as I like them.

Yes, I have a mop and bucket, many different types of cleaning apparatus with micro cleaning attachments and several different kinds of cleaning cloths.  None of them were satisfactory for my personal tastes.  Plus, I needed something that I could use quickly and have it really do the job!

Well, after much searching and lots of different products, I think I found the one I like the best.  It's the Bissell Powerfresh DeLuxe 1806 Series!  


It is compact, lightweight, easy to use and it really does make the floors look great.  I was sceptical about how well it would work, because nothing up till now matches the cleanliness of getting down and scrubbing!  But surprise, surprise, after giving the kitchen a good sweep (to get the big stuff up), I plugged in my new little friend and within 10 minutes the floor was steam cleaned and dry!  Hubby walked by and took a quick look and then came back and looked again.  His comment was that the floor looked like it did when we first moved in to the apartment.  Now I have to agree with him.  This is the cleanest I have gotten the floor since my knees were replaced last year.  I am a happy camper!

If you are looking for something that will help you get your floors looking great, I would highly recommend this little but powerful Electric Steam Mop!  

My only regret is that I did not find this appliance sooner.  Shiny clean floors are something that makes me happy!  This mop is one that I will use on a weekly (or more often depending on how the cook is doing) basis!  It's easy to use and doesn't take forever to heat up.  I had my floor cleaned in less than 10 minutes yet they looked like I'd been scrubbing for hours!  Now that to me is a Big Win!

Now, Two replaced knees and the broken elbow equals nice clean floors for sure!  And healing joints as time goes forward!  The cook is no longer worried about the messes he makes either!  All around this was a great investment!  I have a happy cook and a happy housekeeper (me)!






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Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Reviewing Ten Ways To Keep Garden Plants Alive During A Drought

 




 We have been going through a period of heatwaves with 35-40 degrees Celsius and now have drought conditions that are unusual for where I live in the UK. 

I love our garden and have found that I need to change the way I garden under these conditions. Many of the plants I love to grow are not drought tolerant and while this may need to change if we have frequent droughts in the years to come, for now I want to try to keep them all alive.

However, it is also very important in a rough situation not to drain necessary water from the system so as to preserve as much as possible both inside and outside our homes. 

So here are a few tips I have picked up from other gardeners and my own experience


1. Water Plants Deeply Once A Week.

Doing this is a much better approach than watering a little every day. We need the water to reach the roots not just wet the top few inches which will just evaporate in the heat anyway. 

Always water either very early morning or late in the day when the sun is fading and there will be less moisture loss. Put your finger into the soil to check how far down the soil is wet. 




2. Use Shade For Plants.

For plants in containers move them into the shade wherever possible. Place plants in pots under the shade of a tree or by a north-facing wall of a house or garden shed or garage. That way they will be shaded for more of the day. Group plants in pots together. Sharing space will help each other stay cooler. Also if you can place smaller pots above bigger pots any water that drips through will help to water plants below, thus saving more water. 





3. Make Shade For Plants

If the containers cannot be moved into the shade try to provide them with shade. I like to use the shade of other plants, especially those who don't mind the sun so much but even an open umbrella over them, a patio umbrella or a cardbox box strategically placed will help. 


4. Use Large Drip Tray Containers.

For plants that do not mind being in standing water and are in pots, put any container that holds water under the pot.

I find that these drip trays that we often use for houseplants are good to hold some water underneath our garden plants in pots, but not so much that the plants then get waterlogged. I tend to use larger sizes to hold more water.



5. Prioritise Plants For Water.

Concentrate on the plants that you know need more water such as roses and also plants that look dry, dropping leaves or droopy. Prioritise plants in pots and perennials over annuals. Plants that are more suited to Mediterranean or hotter environments and those like Bottlebrush, Lavender, Thyme and Rosemary will cope better than roses and new cuttings or young plants. I rarely water any existing shrubs or trees in the ground, the hope is that their deep roots will seek water low down.  




6. Leave The Lawn.

Do not water the lawn- most lawns are robust and will recover once we start getting rain. Also, our lawn is now mainly brown and not growing at all so there is no point trying to mow it. When autumn comes we will feed it and take care of it but for now the best thing is to leave it. 


7. Use Watering Spikes.

Use some of these water spikes devices. They release water slowly into the pot. If you make a hole first deep into the pot. Connect a water bottle to the spike, turn upside down and very gently insert the spike into the hole so that you do not break it or injure any roots. The water will seep to where the roots are rather than wasting water at the top of the pot. I use them for when we go on holiday and I prefer the terracotta ones, although you do need to take more care of them being more fragile, they do a better job in my opinion. Now they are valuable for simply giving a gentle water source. A litre bottle should last about a week to ten days.



8. Stop Feeding Plants.

Do not feed plants as this encourages growth. I am finding that many of my plants are going to seed much more quickly and some are already adopting their autumn colours. I think this may be a way of ensuring their survival. If they are under stress they want to make seed quickly in case they die and by losing their leaves they need less energy.




9. Use Rain Barrels Or Water Butts.

Install a Water Butt or Rain Barrel to prepare for any future drought. The water butt will fill up when we do have rain in winter and then can be used in a summer heatwave or drought when water is in short supply.


 

10. Use "Grey Water" To Water Some Plants. 

Watering plants If there is a ban on using hosepipes or using house water can be difficult. Instead, we can use water from handwashing clothes or washing up water on our plants. Always allow the water to cool down first though.

However, never use this kind of "grey water" on fruit, vegetable or herb plants. Do be careful though as some plants may be sensitive to chemicals in your grey water. This is another reason a water butt will be useful.




People say you can always replace plants but they are expensive and this is not always possible when a plant has a special memory or was gifted to you by a loved one.

It breaks my heart to see them suffering in the heat and drought so if I can do these small things to help them I certainly will. So far I have to say they are doing remarkably well and I do feel while I have had one or two losses that most will come through this and recover once we get some good rain.


It may be in the future that we will have to adapt our gardens even further and grow more drought-resistant plants but we will see. So for now I will do what I can to keep them alive while keeping the drain on the water systems to a minimum.

In addition, while caring for our plants never forget the wildlife and do leave out a shallow bowl with a few pebbles and water in it to help hedgehogs, bees and other insects get through the drought and a birdbath to help the birds care for their feathers, bathe and drink

As a final thought and this may be unpopular among people who love the sunshine and hot weather, I am hoping for lots of gentle steady rain very soon!! 


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