Friday, August 12, 2022

Keurig K-Mini Coffee Maker - A Mini Keurig Single Serve K-cup Coffee Maker for Travel Reviewed

Keurig K-Mini
Many years ago, I purchased a small travel coffee pot that accommodated ground coffee and required a coffee filter. I was happy to have my own coffee pot when we traveled. It didn't make a lot of coffee, but it was portable and pack-able, which made it essential for travel. 

I stopped taking it everywhere when hotels started putting small coffee makers & packets of ground coffee in every room.  However, I have noted that many hotels have, once again, stopped providing the little coffee makers in the room since the pandemic began.

I need my coffee when I first wake up. I prefer to have it before I dress for the day. That requires having a coffee pot & coffee in the room. I also like being able to make hot tea in my hotel room any time of the day without having to order room service.

I don't mind taking my own coffee and coffee maker. Frankly, it is probably cleaner for me to use my own personal coffee maker, water, and coffee.

After our last trip and a hotel room that didn't have a coffee maker, I went in search of a new portable coffee maker. I was thrilled to find a mini Keurig coffee maker that uses k-cups. That is even more convenient than the travel coffee makers of begone days.

I love my new Keurig K-Mini Coffee Maker!  I have only discovered one downside to my K-Mini. I can't remove the water reservoir to wash it. However, there is a Keurig K-Mini Plus Coffee Maker that does have a removable water reservoir, but is more expensive. The Plus version also has a storage unit that holds 9 k-cup pods and stores in the opening for the mug when packing for travel. 

I purchased a tote bag for my Keruig K-Mini Coffee Maker that has a zipper pocket on the side for k-cups. In my case, I would rather be able to pack my personal ceramic coffee mug in the opening used by the storage unit on the Plus version, but I realize that is a personal preference.


The Keurig K-Mini Coffee Maker

This miniature version of the Keurig coffee maker is very easy to use. You simply add water in the reservoir using your mug. That way, you won't overfill it. Add your k-cup, close the lid, and push the button.

It takes a little longer for the mini to produce a hot cup of coffee because it doesn't start heating the water until you push the larger brew button (not the small "on" button). 



I do recommend cleaning your new k-mini coffee maker right out of the box with vinegar & water to remove any manufacturing dust or debris that may be inside the coffee maker.  

To Clean: Pour vinegar in the reservoir to the minimum (6) marked on the reservoir, add water to the maximum (12) fill line. Place a mug below the empty k-cup holder (the brew head), push the brew button and let it go through a complete cycle.  Then, brew a full reservoir of clean water only at least 2 times behind the vinegar to cleanse.

I washed every piece that was detachable, plus wiped down the unit with a soapy cloth. 

The Keurig K-Mini or K-Mini Plus Coffee Maker is the perfect travel companion for brewing coffee, tea, hot chocolate, etc.  In addition to traveling, it is great for a small kitchen.

 See More Travel Reviews & Recommendations On
Review This Travel!


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.”


Thursday, August 11, 2022

Update on Book Club


In January of 2020 I wrote a review on Book Clubs.  If you are interested in starting a book club, I would recommend you read that review here Review of Book ClubsIn that review you will find out how the book club I belong to is set up and how we handle the meetings.  In this post I will update you on what we have been doing since that last review and a little bit about some of the books we have been reading.

Our Book Club in 2020/2021

As you can all imagine 2020/2021 was a bit challenging for our bookclub.  With the pandemic we had to look at how we could do it differently.  We didn't meet at all for the first few months, but then in the summer of 2020 we all ventured out and met on my deck, where we could wear masks and social distance with each other.  We hadn't picked any one book to read, but rather all discussed what books we had been reading.  During the rest of 2020 we only met one more time in someone's family room where we could spread apart.  In 2021 we decided to venture out and start choosing monthly books.  A few didn't make it at first, but eventually most of our members returned to our monthly meetings.  

We read 11 books in a year, skipping the month of December where we all meet for a holiday luncheon instead of our regular meeting.  In the next section I will discuss the last 11 books we have read.

Books we have Read in the Last Year

  • When we started meeting again on a regular basis one of the first books we read was Educated by Tara Westover.  It was a very thought-provoking book that gave us lots to discuss.  Fellow reviewer Olivia Morris has also read the book and wrote a review which will tell you a lot more about the book. Educated
  • The next book we read was The Book of Two Ways by Jodi Piccoult.   Jodi Piccoult is a favorite author that always spends a lot of time researching the books that she writes.  This book deals with Egyptology along with discovering the relationships of the people involved.  Most of our members really liked the book, although a few wished it had a bit less technical items on Egyptology.
  • The Giver of Stars was a book we read by Jo Jo Moyes. This book takes place in depression-era America in the hills of Kentucky.  It starts with Alice who has married a rich American to escape the stifling rules of her parents in England.  She soon finds that the hills of Kentucky can be just as stifling, and she signs up to be a traveling librarian from Eleanor Roosevelts new plan to bring books to rural America.  The book shows us the brave women who worked this program and their relationships.  It is based on a true story, and we found it very intriguing.
  • The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson is another book about the traveling book program.  You can read more about it in the review that I wrote.  The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek and also one that fellow reviewer Dawn wrote Here .
  • The next book we read was Gray Mountain by John Grisham. This book deals with mining and many of the legal battles the ensue when it is abused.  It is very well written, and you can really become involved with the characters.
  • The Hypnotists Love Story is a novel by Liane Moriarity.  We have read several books by this author and know they will always give us a lively discussion. This one did not disappoint.
  • The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton is a wonderful mystery that takes place in Australia in the early 1900's.  It is a work of historical fiction.
  • The Husband's Secret is another book by Liane Moriarity.  Everyone enjoyed the discussion on this book, and we delved a lot into secrets and what we would tell and what we would not.
  • Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman was our next book. It was a very interesting book about a young woman who lives a very structured life.  She struggles with everyday social skills and tends to say exactly what she is thinking.  This all changes when she meets Raymond.  You must read this book to find out more!
  • Wish You Were Here by Jodi Piccoult.  This was my favorite book this year.  In this book Jodi tackles a very timely subject as the book begins in March of 2020 just at the start of the pandemic.  I wrote a review of the book which you can find at Wish You Were Here. 
  • A Divided Loyalty by Charles Todd is a detective story which takes place in England.  It features Scotland Yard detective Ian Rutledge and is an interesting mystery.  We had a good discussion on the methods used to solve the mystery.
  • The last book on my list is the one we will be discussing this month.  I have read the book and thoroughly enjoyed it.  It is Mitch Albom's Finding Chika. Fellow reviewer Pat Austin (aka Wednesday Elf) has written a review on this book. Finding Chika

I Hope you enjoyed hearing about these books and perhaps you will find one or more you'd like to read yourself.  Happy Reading!!

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.”


Wednesday, August 10, 2022

The Housekeeper by Joy Fielding ~ A Book Review

The Housekeeper by Joy Fielding is a book that will give you shivers up your spine and really make you stop and think!  While it is considered a "novel", it has threads of real life tied up in there too!

Anyone looking after ailing parents or relatives will be able to put themselves into this story!  

Joy Fielding manages to make you stop in your tracks and really think about the possibilities that happen when you put your trust into someone to look after your loved ones.  

                                                 Image by Tania Van den Berghen from Pixabay

Those of us who were born in the 1940's, 50's and beyond and are still blessed enough to have our parents here with us, are looking at the needs of the elderly through eyes that are living the reality of having aging parents and loved ones.  It is not easy! 

Right now I am the one responsible for both my mother and my uncle who are 91 and 92 respectively. I am lucky though because both of them are in fairly good health and still manage to live on their own.  I do a lot of running back and forth for them, but that is a minor job (so to speak). I can't imagine how much more difficult it would be should they be so ill as to not be able to live on their own.  I guess that is one reason that this book really hit a homerun with me!

Back to the "Book",  The Housekeeper is a rare find for Jodi!  She is busy with her real estate business which just happens to be booming.  Her father, Vic, whose personality is very controlling and his wife Audrey are her parents.  Audrey is diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and her health is quickly  deteriorating.     

Jodi's father decides to stop working (he was the founder of the real estate office) to look after his wife.  While this seems to be a great way to cope with their changing circumstances, it really isn't working out very well.  Audrey needs more help than her husband can provide.  They are well off financially, so it seems that outside help would be a good answer to the growing needs of Jodi's parents.  Her father (in whose eyes Jodi never seems to shine) is NOT happy with this change in his life.  He doesn't want another person in the house, yet, he agrees to give a housekeeper a chance.

Jodi sees the need to look for outside help, even though her father is still adamant that he can cope.  She herself,  is not able to do what needs to be done on a daily basis, so she starts her search for "The Housekeeper".  Her hope is that with someone to do the cooking and cleaning for her parents, her father and mother will be  free to spend their time together and still live a comfortable life in their own home.  Hopefully her dad will come to realize this is a good choice to make.

That's when Elyse shows up for the job!  She herself is a "younger senior", quite lively and willing to do the work that Vic cannot!  

This is where things start to go wrong and yet, Elyse is the answer to Jodi's prayers, or so it seems.  Her children love the "housekeeper" and her dad seems to have a little more bounce in his steps since she arrived. 

What could possibly go wrong?

I'm going to leave the story here only because I know you will want to know what happens next.  

The Housekeeper is a story that had me thinking for days after I finished closing the book.  I know you will find it interesting and I would even call it riveting.  I could not put this book down.

Maybe it's because this is where my life is at right now, or maybe it's because I never thought of the possibilities that could happen, but this book really opened my eyes.

While it's a novel and none of the story is true or real, this story could be a reality and that is the scary part.  This is a thriller, murder/mystery and is due for publication on the 16th of August this year.  It is a timely topic that I'm sure will have many people talking!

Put "The Housekeeper" by Joy Fielding on your Must Read List, I know you won't be disappointed.

Happy Reading!

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.”


Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Review Of Wolf Garten Shears For The Garden

Good quality tools are necessary when working in the garden. I prefer to use manual tools whenever possible in our garden. I find it more peaceful to use manual tools, better for wildlife and much quieter for ourselves and our neighbours. I also feel more connected somehow to our garden plants. 

Sometimes power tools are necessary for the garden, but using manual tools rather than electric ones is an even greater consideration now for us that electricity prices are so high. 

We find these Wolf Garten Shears easy to use with no energy costs at all, apart from your own physical power. 

We do like tools that are easy to use and do not require too much effort. I would also rather buy quality tools that suit our needs and aim to buy tools that are longer lasting.  

Wolf Garten Shears

Wolf is one of the brands I trust for gardening tools and are one of the brand of tools I use on a regular basis to keep our garden looking at its best. We also have secateurs of the Wolf brand and you can read my Review Of Wolf Garden By Pass Secateurs here. They have also proved a really great purchase. 

The shears are used in our garden for cutting back shrubs, perennials and herbs such as lavender and geraniums where we need to cut a larger area of foliage. We use them to cut back annual flowers and any straggly growth as well. 

Important aspects of garden shears are that they are sharp and cut cleanly. That it is easy to use with an ergonomic grip, a buffer to reduce jarring and pressure on our hands and wrists and it has a smooth action. In my experience, the Wolf Garten shears excel in all these areas. 

I do think for the price and the quality that Wolf Garten Shears are excellent shears.

Cutting Back And Pruning Plants With Shears

 Perennials require cutting back in late autumn after flowering has finished and when they are dying back. Equally, we can leave them until the following Spring. A Spring cutting back means that we leave the hollow stems and cover for our wildlife.


 Lavender is best cut back after flowering but it is important to not cut back into old wood as it may not regrow. We need to cut so you can still see green shoots. This cutting back ensures a more compact shrub that will have the best chance of flowering well the following year and we can also use the cut flower stems as decoration in the home. 

Hebes can be cut back lightly or some can be shaped into topiary-like balls as you prefer. 

Our Laurel hedge gets cut back a few times a year to keep it looking neat and manageable. 

Geraniums need cutting back after flowering. If we do this it tidies it up and also there is an opportunity that it may flower again. It will look bare for a week or two but the new regrowth is fresh green and lovely. 


 For any perennial you are cutting back it is important to cut close to the crown of the plant but above any new growth. We need a tool that will cut cleanly and not tear the plant.  

I love the way that these shears cleanly and easily slice through our thick lavender borders and cut our small conifers cleanly. In my experience, they do not pull or injure the plants. We do not want to be tearing or pulling on plants that need cutting back and these shears just make this job so much easier and quicker to complete. 

For a long time, I used my Grandads shears for these cutting jobs. While I love them because they were my Grandad's and are a link to a wonderful man I never knew as he died shortly after I was born, they are not easy shears to use for a long time. 

I will always love and treasure my Grandad's shears, when I hold them I feel a part of history and closeness to my Grandad. In addition, all these decades on they are still in great working order. However, I do believe these Wolf Garten shears offer an added level of comfort and features that I do appreciate these days! 


Good Qualities Of Wolf Garten Shears

  • When I use my Wolf Garten Shears I find they are so much easier on my hands and arms and are of good solid quality. I find they are the nearest shears to the robust, quality and feel of my Grandad's shears but with the added level of modern comfort!

  • Nonstick coated blades mean they rust a lot less and are much better when using them to cut plants with sticky sap. I clean them with a damp cloth and sometimes WD40 and a cloth. 

  • In my experience, they cut stems cleanly and sharply which is much better for the plants. 

  • Comfortable handles make the task of cutting back so much easier. They are simple to use and not hard on the hands or arms. 

  • They have a solid quality comfortable feel to the product which is important to me.  

  •  Good bright points of orange-red colour mean they are not easily lost in the garden. This is essential for me as I am always putting down tools in the garden, getting distracted and forgetting where I left them! 

There is a range of Wolf Garten shears, some normal sized for general cutting jobs, others about half the size developed for topiary hedging and smaller work, it all depends on your garden and what you need your shears for. 

Here Is A Selection Of Wolf Garten Shears

I personally would not attempt to cut a very large hedge with these shears but for tasks such as cutting back herbs and perennials, smaller hedges, smaller conifers, some topiary, annual flowers and general everyday pruning these manual Wolf Garten Shears are a great tool to purchase and wonderful quality addition to a useful garden tool collection.  


More Gardening Articles

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.”


Monday, August 8, 2022

CORQUE Marshmallow Roasting Sticks Review

 Did I hear S'more? Did I hear outdoor fire pit? Did I hear grilling season? This is the handy tool you didn't know you needed and will be so happy to use. Marshmallow Roasting Sticks will bring smiles to the faces of your guests and make s'more making so much easier whether it be in the backyard or campsite.

Colors & Size

Jumbo sized and so much fun! Oh sure, back in the day we just used branches. Which is not to devalue the practical branch as a tool for your marshmallow roasting, but....

I thought these Jumbo roasting sticks would be a slight upgrade for guests. Not that browsing for branches is not fun in the middle of winter... but perhaps better left for the younger guests as an adventure.

The adults appreciated these Jumbo Roasting sticks! The kids appreciated the cheerful colors.

Each of the eight sticks is marked with different colors for easy identification. No double dipping! The sticks come with a convenient nylon carrying case for easy storage.

Outdoor fire pits both large and small have increased in popularity tremendously the past few years. In our house no fire pit is complete without a christening of making s'mores. The marshmallow sticks were a hit with all and hint hint - would be a perfect gift for fire pit owners. 

Gift Ideas

I also gifted a set to friends who are fervent campers and the sticks were again a big hit. The kids used the sticks for marshmallows and the adults also used the sticks as skewers for campfire cooking. Win win for all.

I also plan to gift a set as a housewarming gift this summer. The marshmallow sticks fill the I'd love to have them, probably would not buy for myself, but love to receive as a gift lane.

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.”


Sunday, August 7, 2022

My Plunge Into the TikTok World for Marketing, Business and Fun!

Stumped Riddles TikTok

I reluctantly took the plunge into the TikTok marketing world.

Out of pure stubbornness, I vowed to avoid that particular social media platform. However, I had a come-to-reality moment, encouraged by my son, that my riddle business would be served well by that platform.

In quite a short time, my son has nearly 27,000 followers and over 263,000 likes, all with approximately 40 personal video uploads. That's not easy to do and quite impressive!

His TikTok handle is @charles.mackenzie if you want to take a peek. Just an added note, in all fairness to us mere humans, my son has a knack for being in front of the camera. However, as I detail below, you don't have to be on camera to benefit from TikTok.

I'm A Newbie TikTok User for Business - The Basics

Since I'm a newbie, I can't give you any big secret tips, but I can provide those of you with a business, some of the things I've learned so far as it relates to my own riddle business:

  • Go to the APP Store on your cell phone, and download the Tiktok App
  • Yes, you can log in to your TikTok account on your laptop; however, I found all the creative features more accessible via my cell phone.
  • When you download the App, you're on the service, not registered yet to use it. You can scroll through the videos and have fun. Oh yeah, it's a bit addictive.
  • Create your account to set yourself up to use TikTok for business. I won't go through the steps; simply follow the instructions and prompts.
  • I converted my account to a Business Account. There's no charge for that. Here are TikTok's instructions on how to do it; it's easy.
  • In your profile, you tell TikTok your interests so that videos that align with your taste are displayed on the front "For You" page. In my case, I selected media/entertainment, inspirational (or something like that), home decor, and a few other topic areas.
The "For You Page" on TikTok

What I've learned about the "For You Page" is that every user who opens the App is immediately connected to their For You Page to watch and start scrolling videos. 

You can like, comment, save, share, or scroll past videos. This differs from other platforms in that you go directly into the content. Content is presented to you; it's not something you choose (except via the interests you indicated in your initial profile sign-up).

I've learned that the "For You" page is a powerful marketing tool. Everyone wants their videos to land on everyone else's "For You" page. 

In fact, you'll notice that some people use the hashtag #foryoupage or #fyp to try and encourage the TikTok algorithm to place their video on other people's "For You Pages." I have no idea if that works or not.

I discovered via the Analytics area that many of my own videos were put on other people's "For You Pages" before I started using or even knew about the For You Page hashtags.

The Bottom Bar Appearance When Logged In to TikTok
  • HOME: (that's where you get to all the fun and sometimes hilarious videos to scroll through -um, be careful, it's so addictive!)
  • FRIENDS: (that's where you can quickly access the videos of your friends that you've connected with)
  • + Plus Sign: (That's your prompt to start the upload process of videos or images - yes, you can upload images)
  • INBOX: (That's where you get notified that you have responses to your videos or new followers)
  • PROFILE: (That's your personal profile that features your content, and your logo/image and blurb about you)
I Avoided TikTok Because I Had No Interest Or Desire to Put Myself on Any Videos!

You don't have to put yourself on camera or even make videos.

You can upload a static photo/graphic and enhance that page with fun sticker elements and commercial-free music provided by TikTok.

For my business, static Riddle Graphic photos are perfect for this! 

I've already created nearly 1000 photo riddles for my website and books, so uploading them to TikTok with music and some fun sticker elements is a perfect marketing fit.

The TikTok Voice-Over Feature

If you decide to type text on static photos, you can ask the TikTok AI Voice-Over feature to read the text! You don't have to use your own voice! It's easy to use. 

How Am I Doing So Far? 

I started using TikTok on August 2, 2022, and today, as I'm typing, it is August 6, 2022

In 4 Days:
  • I've uploaded 11 riddles
  • I've had 5,441 video views (mainly on the "For You" pages)
  • I've had 29 profile views
  • I've had 43 Likes
  • I've had 17 Comments
  • I've had 13 Shares
  • I've had 5 Follows
I'm delighted with the potential TikTok offers for my Riddle business. Perhaps it's something that could work for you as well?

The Biggest Problem:

Other people's videos can consume your time - especially the funny ones. Seriously, some are hilarious!

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.”


Saturday, August 6, 2022

World Lion Day – An Animal Awareness Holiday Review

 World Lion Day was begun in 2013 by Derek and Beverly Joubert, a husband-and-wife team with a passion for big cats.  It was started as an awareness holiday to protect the remaining big cats living in the wild.

World Lion Day is celebrated yearly on August 10.

Lion Facts

  • Lions are the second largest big cat in the world. Only the Asian tiger is larger.
  • Lions weigh 300-550 pounds and are admired for their speed and muscular strength.
  • Today, lions are only found in the wild in Africa and certain sections of Asia when once they were found all over Africa and the Eurasian continent. This is mostly due to loss of their natural environment.
  • Lions are not currently on the endangered species list, but are considered 'vulnerable' because their number has been reduced by fifty percent over the years.
  • Researchers estimate that there are only 30,000 to 100,000 lions left on the planet.

The Three Purposes of World Lion Day

  1. Raise awareness of their plight and the issues that the species faces in the wild. 
  2. Find ways to protect the big cat’s natural environment (such as creating more national parks and reducing the areas in which people can settle). 
  3. Educate people who live near wild cats on the dangers and how to protect themselves. Big cats and humans can live in harmony together, if they understand how to do so.

Places to See Lions Other Than in the Wild

Zoos – many zoos today designate wild areas where the zoo lions can roam outside in a simulated natural habitat. This way they do not need to be caged, yet people can safely see them.  

Photo by Sylvestermouse

Sylvestermouse shares a fantastic photo of two such lions – Fred and Savannah – when they were living at the Memphis Zoo. Her interesting article with facts on the African Lion, and on Fred & Savannah, can be found on her Amazing Wild Animals website.

Wildlife Parks, such as Tanganyika Wildlife Park in Goddard, Kansas (near Wichita) which is a family-friendly destination where parkgoers can have up-close and hands-on interaction with the animals. 

Plush Lion

Luke, the crocheted plush lion

Children who wish to have a lion of their own could safely do so with a cuddly plush lion. :-)

Luke the Lion is a plump round roly-poly kind of Lion who is soft and fun to hold. He's a very friendly little lion who seldom ever roars, and likes to do 'quiet' things, like reading and playing board games.

Luke the plush lion is handmade in crochet and can be found in the Etsy Shop of Coastal Crochet Crafts.


So, celebrate this “King-of-the-Jungle” on August 10 each year. An interesting and fascinating animal awareness holiday. 

For more Holiday Reviews, check out

*World Lion Day holiday review is written by Wednesday Elf

Learn about Lions:

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.”


Friday, August 5, 2022

Silver Dollar Duke: An American Victorian Romance (Hearts of Arizona Book 1) Reviewed

Silver Dollar Duke
I am quickly becoming a big fan of historical fiction books written by Sally Britton. Previously, I read the Supposed Scandal series and loved all three books.  

Silver Dollar Duke is the first book in the "Hearts of Arizona" series and I really enjoyed the story. I have no doubt I will love the next 2 books in this series as well. I plan to start reading the second book, Copper for the Countess, immediately.

I wasn't sure how an American silver dollar would relate to an English duke, but I was rather intrigued by the title. Turns out, the silver dollar played a big part in the duke's life, but I won't ruin that touch of mystery for you by sharing that significance in this review.

This is a rather light, entertaining read that any historical romance fiction fan would enjoy. In most of the books I read, the female is the central focus of the story. While there is a prominent female character, the duke and his childhood dreams are the highlight of this book.


Silver Dollar Duke Synopsis

As the second son of a marquess in England, Evan Rounsevell had his life mapped out for him. He knew he would be required to “work” for his father even though all of the family property would be inherited by his older brother, and then his brother's son. 

 Silver Dollar Duke: An American Victorian Romance (Hearts of Arizona Book 1)Check PriceDuke didn't resent the expectations or family obligations, but he did have a lifelong dream. As a child, he had met Buffalo Bill and had seen him perform. Duke wanted to visit the wild west of America and experience being a cowboy firsthand before he was completely entrenched in England. He spent his childhood learning to shoot, practicing lassoing a cow by lassoing sheep, and riding horses. As an adult, he knew he would have to run away for a little while to have the opportunity to make his dream come true. That is exactly what he did! 

Duke quickly found himself running out of money as he traveled across America. He needed a job to continue his adventure and for his return ticket home. When he met the Bolton brothers in Tombstone, Arizona, they offered him a job as a ranch hand on their father’s ranch along with the promise of getting to participate in a cattle drive. Duke was thrilled by this fabulous, once in a lifetime opportunity. It was exactly what he had always desired. 

There were some unexpected experiences in his wild west journey including falling in love with the ranch owner's daughter, Daniella "Dannie" Bolton.

The last thing Dannie needed was another "temporary" man in her life. From the very beginning, Duke had made it clear that he had to return to England. They agreed to be friends and nothing more, but the "best laid plans" often go awry.

Read More Book Reviews at

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.”


Thursday, August 4, 2022

The Perfect Predator - Book Review

Imagine being on vacation halfway around the world when your robust loved one is suddenly struck down by a mysterious condition that is immediately life-threatening. By the time you can get your partner on a medevac from Egypt, to Germany, and then back home to San Diego, his chances of surviving are slim to none.

The Perfect Predator is as real world as it gets. This medical thriller memoir could soon be your story, or mine. Thomas Patterson's life-or-death struggle against the deadliest antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the world is no longer an isolated phenomenon. By 2050, someone will die every three seconds as a result of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. It's already happening far too often—death by superbug.

By the time Patterson's diagnosis is made, his medical team soon runs out of answers and treatment options. It will be his wife, Steffanie Strathdee, an infectious disease epidemiologist, who refuses to give up... refuses to lose hope. Ultimately, it will be Strathdee's detective work that saves her husband's life.

Sometimes, the way forward is backward. One hundred years ago, before the advent of antibiotics, scientists were exploring phage therapy. Phages, which are viruses that prey on bacteria, though promising, were largely forgotten when antibiotics became the golden drug, the go-to treatment for infections. 

While reading this book, I became completely blown away by the science, and wonder, of phages. They are everywhere (including within our bodies). A single drop of water may host a trillion phages! It turns out the right phage, aka The Perfect Predator, can take down even the deadliest of superbugs. 

With the assistance of a rapidly deployed dream team (including key people from the FDA, Texas A&M University, the Navy, and the University of California San Diego), Strathdee and Patterson achieve an impossible outcome: a sure death is defeated.

If ever there was a timely read, this is it. The Perfect Predator is not only an exceptionally enlightening examination of the state of medicine in a world battling rampant global health emergencies, but it is also the kind of hero's journey that proves the power of one (plus one, plus one). One individual can make a difference, especially in combination with even a small community of people willing to go all out to achieve the impossibly possible. 

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Wednesday, August 3, 2022

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

Recently I decided to bake a batch of low carb blueberry scones using my favorite mix, the Livlo Blueberry Scones Keto Baking Mix I reviewed in December. It was nearly bedtime and I was tired and not paying close enough attention, and just after I incorporated the small cubes of butter into the Livlo Baking Mix with my pastry blender, I realized that I had added an entire stick of butter (1/2 cup) rather than the half stick (1/4 cup) that was called for. This low carb keto baking recipe is the result of that happy accident, after I turned this "lemon" situation into "lemonade."

Although I didn't have a second package of the blueberry scones mix in the pantry, I did find a bag of Livlo Biscuits Keto Baking Mix, which calls for the same added ingredients in the same quantities and the same baking instructions. By adding it to the bowl with the scones mix and butter cubes, then adding four eggs instead of two and stirring in a cup of fresh blueberries, I not only salvaged the situation but invented a new low carb, keto baking treat.

My husband devoured two as soon as they came out of the oven and dubbed this biscuits and blueberry scones hybrid "biscones." His tongue-in-cheek quip has become their official name in this household.

I promptly ordered more of both Livlo keto baking mixes so I could make another batch of blueberry "biscones" last night. Although the texture is different from either drop biscuits or blueberry scones made with wheat flour, these tender, tasty treats are delicious. 

Anyone who follows a low carb or keto diet will love the macros for these delightful baked goods. Each blueberry biscuit scone has just 184 calories, 2.6g of net carbs, 3.6g of fiber, 17g of fat and 5.6g of protein. 

This recipe makes 20 yummy blueberry "biscones," enough to share with others. They don't have to be watching their calories or carbs to enjoy them! 

Quick & Easy Blueberry "Biscones" Recipe Low Carb Keto-Friendly

Recommended Tools and Equipment for Making Low Carb, Keto-Friendly Blueberry "Biscones"

In addition to basic baking tools and equipment like baking sheets, cooling racks and a measuring cup, here are some of the other items you will need to make this recipe, including my personal product recommendations.

Silicone Baking Mats or Unbleached Baking Parchment Paper

You will need either silicone baking mats or unbleached parchment paper to line your baking sheets to keep the biscones from sticking. (I often use a silicone baking mat topped with a sheet of parchment to help keep my baking trays clean.) The Katbite Silicone Nonstick Baking Mat Set of 3 is inexpensive, works well and is a great value. In addition to two 11 5/8" x 16 1/2" mats for lining half sheet pans, it also comes with a bonus 11 1/2" x 8 1/2" mat for lining a quarter sheet pan, which I use in one of my toaster oven baking trays. As of this recipe's publication date, the price for all three mats is less than $15 on Amazon with free Prime delivery. 

I use unbleached baking parchment and love the convenience of flat, pre-cut sheets. Before I discovered them, I used to hate trying to wrestle with the stubborn, curling edges of the sheets torn from a roll! I can recommend the Baker's Signature Precut Non-Stick & Unbleached Parchment Paper Baking Sheets which come in a variety of shapes and sizes.

Large Mixing Bowl

Since you will be making two batches of baking mix batter or dough in one bowl (one each of the Livlo keto blueberry scones mix and one of the Livlo keto biscuits mix) and adding an extra cup of fresh blueberries, you'll need to use a large mixing bowl. Whenever I'm mixing a batter or dough by hand, I prefer using the appropriate size bowl from my OXO Good Grips 3-Piece Stainless Steel Mixing Bowl Set, which includes 1.5-quart, 3-quart and 5-quart bowls, rather than the bowl from my KitchenAid electric stand mixer. The round interior bottoms of the OXO bowls make it easy to stir and scrape ingredients cleanly, and the non-skid exterior bottoms prevent the bowls from sliding even when they are tilted at an angle. For this recipe, the 5-quart bowl is the perfect size. 

Silicone Spoon Spatula (AKA "Spoonula")

One of my favorite silicone cooking and baking spatulas is the GIR Premium Silicone Ultimate Spoonula, Ultimate 11 inch, a combination silicone spatula and spoon with a deep, spoon-like "bowl" and a thin, flexible edge that scrapes up every last bit of dough or batter easily. I love my pretty teal GIR "spoonula," but it also comes in other colors and sizes.

Pastry Blender AKA Pastry Cutter

I started baking when I was a kid and was taught to make biscuits by "cutting in" the butter into the dry ingredients with two knives, using a scissor-like motion. It was only later in my years as a baking enthusiast that I discovered the joy of using a pastry blender, also called a pastry cutter. It makes quick work of cutting the chunks of very cold butter into small, "petite pea-sized" bits while coating them in the flour mixture and distributing them evenly throughout the dry ingredients. 

Two years ago, I bought a new pastry blender that works much, much better than any other I have used. The Spring Chef Dough Blender Large Pastry Cutter is a heavy-duty, professional grade pastry blender with sharp yet thick, sturdy blades and a comfortable, wide, soft-grip handle. It comes in a choice of 3" and 4" sizes (I bought the larger, 4" model) and a range of grip colors. I recommend it highly to anyone who makes biscuit dough, pie crusts, etc., by hand rather than in a food processor.

Spring-Action 4-Tablespoon Stainless Steel Scoop

I have a collection of trigger or spring-action stainless steel scoops that I use constantly for baking and cooking, for everything from portioning cookie dough and cupcake batter to making evenly sized meatballs. Most of mine are made by Norpro, which are excellent quality, very durable and easy and comfortable to use and measure accurately.

By trial and error, I found that my Norpro 56mm 4-Tablespoon Stainless Steel Scoop is the perfect size for dividing the blueberry biscuit scones batter evenly into 20 nicely shaped mounds. Being able to easily make all the biscones the same diameter, height and volumes helps ensure that they bake evenly at the same time. It's also helpful if you are tracking the calories, carbohydrates, and other nutrition metrics of the food you consume.

Low Carb Keto Blueberry Biscuit Scones Recipe (AKA "Biscones")

Baked blueberry "biscones" on plate on lace tablecloth
These 10 fragrant, freshly baked low carb, keto blueberry biscuit scones are just half the recipe's yield; the other 10 have been frozen to enjoy in the future.

These keto-friendly, low carb blueberry "biscones" are quick and easy to make, thanks to two delicious Livlo Keto Baking Mixes with clean, wholesome ingredients. Just add cold butter, eggs and fresh blueberries!





Ingredients for Low Carb Keto Blueberry Biscuit Scones Recipe
Setting out and preparing the ingredients makes everything go even quicker.

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 ℉. Line two full-size baking sheets (or four smaller baking trays, if baking in a countertop oven) with silicone nonstick baking mats or unbleached baking parchment sheets. Cut the butter into 1/4" cubes, beat the eggs lightly and rinse and dry the fresh blueberries.
Cutting the butter cubes into the dry baking mixes with a pastry blender
My large, sturdy pastry blender makes cutting in the butter cubes a snap!

  1. Empty both the bags of keto baking mix into a large mixing bowl. Stir the cold butter cubes into the dry ingredients with a silicone spoon spatula (spoonula), then use a pastry blender to "cut in" the butter into smaller pieces and distribute them evenly throughout, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl and the blades of the pastry blender as needed.
Biscones dough in mixing bowl after adding beaten eggs
Stirring in the lightly beaten eggs creates a stiff batter or dough.

  1. Stir in the beaten eggs with the silicone spoon spatula to form a thick batter or dough, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl.
Biscones dough after adding fresh blueberries
Adding fresh blueberries ensures that every bite is filled with juicy, flavorful berries!

  1. Stir in the fresh blueberries until evenly distributed.
Mounds of raw keto blueberry biscuit scones dough on lined baking sheets
A 4-tablespoon scoop makes it easy to portion the dough into uniformly sized and shaped mounds.

  1. Use the 4-tablespoon stainless steel scoop to portion the dough evenly into 20 mounds on the lined baking sheets or trays.
  1. Bake until the tops of the blueberry biscones are golden, approximately 15 minutes. Do not overbake!
Baked blueberry "biscones" (biscuit scones) on cooling rack
Make sure to let them cool on the baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring the biscones directly to the cooling rack.

  1. Transfer the baking sheets to cooling racks and let the biscuit scones cool for a few minutes before removing them from the pans. (Lifting them off the baking sheet while still hot makes them prone to crumbling.)

Nutrition Facts

The following was calculated by entering the nutrition data for each of the ingredients into a "custom recipe" in the Carb Manager app. 

Amount Per Serving (1 blueberry "biscone" (1/20 recipe))



Total Fat


  Sat. Fat


  Trans Fat






Total Carbohydrate


  Dietary Fiber


  Total Sugars


    Added Sugars


  Sugar Alcohols (Erythritol)




Net Carbs
9.2g total carbs-3.6g dietary fiber-3g sugar alcohols = 2.6 net carbs

2.6g net carbs

Recipe Notes

These blueberry biscones are delicious as is, but even better if you split, butter and lightly toast them or drizzle them with a bit of glaze (the instructions for making a glaze are on the Livlo Blueberry Scones Keto Baking Mix package). 

They're great for breakfast, brunch, dessert, or as a low carb snack with a cup of tea or coffee or a glass of cold nut milk or other low-carb, plant-based milk.

Since this recipe makes 20 biscuit scones, I like to freeze some of them to enjoy at a later date.

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

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

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

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