Showing posts with label BarbRad. Show all posts
Showing posts with label BarbRad. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Puzzles for Puzzle Day or Any Day: A Review

Puzzles for Puzzle Day or Any Day: A Review
Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay 


I love puzzles. I especially love jigsaw puzzles. It satisfies me to find the exact puzzle piece to fit into the space designed for it. I'm delighted when I finally finish a puzzle -- especially if it's a large one. Are you a puzzle fan, too?


Puzzle Day is January 29


If you didn't plan ahead or don't have time to work a puzzle on January 29, why not celebrate by buying a new puzzle you love, instead. Then enjoy it on any convenient day. Or have a puzzle party with your family or invite a friend or two to help you work your new puzzle. There are many excellent reasons to spend some of your leisure time working jigsaw puzzles.

Here's What Working Puzzles Can Do for You

  • Working puzzles can help you relax. When we work puzzles, we focus on our process instead of on our problems and the things that add stress to our lives.
  • Working a puzzle offers a welcome break from electronics and media. It lets us work at a slower pace and really focus instead of having our attention constantly refocused.
  • If you live alone, working a puzzle can keep you so absorbed you may forget you are lonely. Put on your favorite music and have a party for one. It beats television.
  • Working puzzles helps keep your brain working well. It keeps both sides of your brain busy and since both sides need to work together to complete a puzzle, the connections between the right and left sides of your brain grow stronger. The left side helps you sort pieces and figure out where to put them. The more creative right side uses your intuition as you consider where pieces may fit into the big picture or the individual section you are working on. Exercising your brain with puzzles may delay the onset of dementia or slow it down. The brain also produces dopamine when it's helping you work jigsaw puzzles.
  • Working puzzles together can foster closeness in families and between friends. Working a puzzle together is a social activity that puts people together who have a common purpose – working the puzzle – for an extended time. They may start by planning how to work the puzzle, deciding who will do what, but later they will naturally move on to subjects they probably wouldn't usually have time to discuss. Contributor  Dawn Rae has also written about her experience with puzzles paving the way for quality time. 
  • When children begin working jigsaw puzzles, it helps them develop many important skills. Among these are fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, problem solving skills, color awareness, spatial relations, concentration, and working towards a goal.

Jigsaw Puzzle Strategy


Like most jigsaw fans, I have a strategy. Mine is pretty common.
  • Turn over all the pieces first so you know what you have to work with.
  • Find the pieces with straight edges and make the frame by forming and  connecting the edges.
  • Make sure everyone working on the puzzle can see the cover on the box as they work.
  • Try to complete one section of the puzzle at a time until it comes together to complete the picture.
Do you also use that strategy?

Finding the Right Puzzle

For the happiest puzzle working experience, you need to choose the right puzzle for your time, your skill level, and your interests. You will be looking at that puzzle for a long time. If you're a beginner, choose a smaller puzzle of about 200-300 pieces to develop your skills before moving on. Chose a puzzle with smaller blocks of color and many shapes instead of a puzzle with lots of sky or water that's the same color. That makes it easier to figure out which pieces fit.

I like nature. I created this puzzle from one of my photos of the sunset at Larry Moore Park. It comes in many sizes, but for a beginner I'd choose the 252-piece size. There is enough  variation in color and the tree branch shapes to make it easy to see how pieces may fit together. (Check out some of the other California places I made into puzzles.)




As you become more proficient, choose more challenging puzzles with more areas the same color or less pronounced subjects or designs. Or choose a larger puzzle of 750 pieces or more with a design you love and may want to frame afterwards. (Contributor Bev Owens reviews a great way to preserve puzzles you want to frame.) I love books and cats. This 750-piece puzzle by Buffalo Games is one I'd love to have on my wall. Buffalo Games makes quality puzzles. If you click through, you will see what makes them so special.





If you want to get your preschooler off to a good start, you can't go wrong with a Melissa and Doug puzzle. I used to sell these at homeschool conventions and there is a wooden puzzle to fit every interest and ability level. I like these sets for children 3-5 years old. Children this age love color and animals. The puzzles in the first set have both. These puzzles come packed in convenient wooden trays. But if you want something more educational, the pegged set has puzzles that teach the alphabet, numbers, and shapes. The pieces in this set have pegs to make them easy to lift out so that children can find the attractive pictures underneath each puzzle piece.







Puzzles Make Great Gifts

When you gift someone with a puzzle, consider the receiver's age, interests, and previous experience. You can even use a special photo to make a personalized puzzle at Zazzle, such as the one I made of the tree in the sunset I showed you above. Just click that puzzle. It will take you to the product page. Click “customize” on the top right of the page under “Designed for You.” It will show you many options. The first allows you to substitute your own photo. You can also add text if you wish.

Puzzles make great gifts for grandparents and older friends who live alone. It will help them keep their thinking sharp and give them something fun to do by themselves or with a friend.

Give a young child a puzzle and you will be helping to develop that child's brain. Give a puzzle with a related book for a double treat that will let the child be thinking of the book as they work the puzzle.

Maybe you should also gift your own family with a new puzzle to work together.
Whatever day it is, happy Puzzle Day.







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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Wednesday, January 15, 2020

A Review of My Favorite Teas from Bigelow and Celestial Seasonings

A Review of My Favorite Teas from Bigelow and Celestial Seasonings
Image © Barbara Radisavljevic


Hot Tea Warms Me up During Every Season


I am a tea drinker. Although I tried, I could never learn to enjoy coffee. As I read my friend and fellow contributor Louanne's review on hot tea, I realized I had a few favorite hot teas, as well. The ones I drink on a daily basis are pictured above. You've probably seen them in the tea aisle when you shop -- unless they are missing. I've found I can't always rely on my local stores having them in stock when I need them. Here's what I do to make sure I always have the teas I drink daily on my shelf. And here's how I drink them.

I Break All the Rules

I'm a tea heretic. I make my tea a pot at a time and reheat cold tea in the microwave as needed. When the pot is empty, I make another one. I first boil a full kettle of water in my Cuisinart Aura Kettle. I bought it and wrote that review in July, 2018. It's still serving me well after 18 months, and I expect it will last forever. 

While I'm watering for the water to boil, I prepare two of my five teapots by putting the bags in. I know I'm supposed to wait until the water boils and rinse out the pots with boiling water, but I don't. I still think the tea tastes good. I'm not a purist.

When the water boils, or slightly before for green or herbal teas, I pour it into my two prepared pots, one which makes about four cups and one which makes about two. If it's afternoon and my decaf teas are running low, I set up the larger pot with herbal and/or decaf bags. I make an herbal tea in the smaller pot, usually one my husband likes. If it's evening and my green tea is running low, I set up the large pot with my Honey Lemon Ginseng Green and the smaller pot with a decaf tea. I normally make four pots a day for the two of us to share. 

Morning Tea

Why I Like Celestial Seasonings Honey Lemon Ginseng Green Teas with White Tea for Smooth Taste.
Image © Barbara Radisavljevic


My preferred morning tea is Celestial Seasonings Honey Lemon Ginseng Green Teas with White Tea for Smooth Taste.  The teabags come in pairs. I use four bags in my larger teapot. This tea has just enough caffeine to ease me into my day. I like its mild taste with just a touch of sweetness. I prefer my tea with no sweeteners or milk. As you can see, the teabags are not sealed from the air. They have no strings, tags, or staples, either. This is because Celestial Seasonings wants its products to be sustainable and not put anything unnecessary into the landfills. That being said,  these bags are not as easy to remove from the pot as the less sustainable ones with strings and tags. 

Since I drink a pot of this tea every day, it goes fast. Each package is almost a week's supply for me, and I don't like to run out of it. So I order it in 6-packs from Amazon and use their Subscribe and Save plan so that I will get an even lower price and will be sure I won't run out. 
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Late Afternoon and Evening Tea


My preferred teas for late in the day are pictured in the image at the top. Again, I break the rules. I mix the two. I've always liked the mild orange-spice Constant Comment from Bigelow. It used to be the only tea I drank for several years after a friend told me about it. I sometimes also drank Bigelow's Lemon Lift, another great black tea. But I know I should avoid caffeine late in the day.

Now I use the decaf version of Constant Comment late in the afternoon and evening and mix it with the Celestial Seasonings Honey Vanilla Chamomile. I mix two bags of each in the large teapot. As you can see, Bigelow does seal their tea bags, and they do have tags and strings.

The Celestial Seasonings Honey Vanilla Chamomile is often out of stock where I shop, so to be sure I have it when I want it, I order it through Amazon's Subscribe and Save program, too. The chamomile helps relax me before bed and the delicate honey and vanilla flavor blends well with the orange and spices in the Constant Comment. Have you experimented with mixing tea flavors yet?

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Constant Comment is popular enough that I can usually find it where I shop, but sometimes they don't carry the decaffeinated version. Not everyone carries the Constant Comment Green Tea, either. That's why I also use Subscribe and Save to get those. It usually saves money, as well.

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Whenever and however you enjoy your tea, you may want to try one or more of the teas above that have become my favorites. And if you're not feeling up to par, you may also want to try a medicinal Life Style Awareness Tea. Learn more about all kinds of tea from Cynthia Sylvester Mouse, who started this blog so that all of our contributors could share their reviews in one place.



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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Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Transform Your Prayer Life with This Classic : A Book Review


Transform Your Prayer Life with This Classic : A Book Review of Prayer: Conversing with God
My Photo with some help from PicMonkey

My review of Prayer: Conversing with God by Rosalind Rinker


Does your small prayer or Bible study group find praying together awkward or uncomfortable? Do you spend more time sharing prayer requests than actually praying together? Do you find yourself thinking about what your own prayer will be as your turn to pray approaches? Or do you just not attend prayer meetings because praying aloud makes you uncomfortable?

Perhaps you don't see any reason for praying with a group. After all, didn't Jesus say to go into your closet to pray to our Father in secret? Yes, He did. But He also said that if two or three gathered together in His Name agree on what they ask in prayer, they will receive it, and He will be right there with them.

Rosalind Rinker's book addresses these seeming contradictions in detail. She shares God's promises and an exciting method of conversational prayer that can make your group anxious to pray together.

Who is Rosalind Rinker?


Ms. Rinker was a missionary in China from 1926 until 1940. When she came home, she studied at Asbury College and graduated in 1945. She then served as a staff member for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, a collegiate Christian group.

She also wrote. Christianity Today named Prayer: Conversing with God as the book that most influenced evangelicals from 1956-2006. (Facts via https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosalind_Rinker)

How I discovered Prayer: Conversing with God

Table of Contents, Prayer: Conversing with God by Rosalind Rinker
Table of Contents, Prayer: Conversing with God. My Photo.


While I was a student at UCLA, a friend from my dorm invited me to a small group Bible study at Hollywood Presbyterian Church. She drove, so we were able to get better acquainted as we talked coming and going. We often stopped at IHOP on the way home for pancakes.

The group was going to study two books. The first was The Life and Teachings of Jesus Christ by James Stuart. The other was Prayer: Conversing with God. During the first part of the meeting we'd study the book about Jesus, and during the second part we'd pray, using what we were learning from the Rinker book.

I didn't know anyone in the study group but my friend Betty. Yet as we began to practice conversational prayer, we all drew much closer together. Why? Because we were talking to Jesus together as we met with Him. As we each got closer to Him, we also got closer to each other.

P. 48, Table of Contents, Prayer: Conversing with God by Rosalind Rinker
My Photo

What's the difference between conversational prayer and other methods of group prayer?


Usually small group prayer times take one of these forms. The members of the group share their prayer requests first, and then the members go around a circle, each praying by turn.  One problem with this method is that the members spend so long sharing their prayer requests that's there's little time left to actually pray. Another is that people are often thinking more about what they will say when it's their turn than actually hearing the prayers of the others who come before them in the circle. Some shy people may be intimidated by praying aloud with others. Sometimes people just pray as the Spirit moves them, but often each one who prays tries to cover all the requests. This can lead to a very long meeting.

Rinker addresses each of these problems as she explains how to pray conversationally instead. It's simple and natural. Instead of sharing the requests with each other before praying, those in the group speak to each other and God at the same time, introducing topics one at a time. Then people pray about each topic until the Spirit leads someone to introduce a new topic of prayer. Rinker gives examples of how this works in practice. I've noticed that using this method, no one feels pressured and most are excited about praying.

I have shown you the Table of Contents and an excerpt from the book in the images above. Rinker covers a lot of ground. Most Christians who read this book cannot wait to get a couple of friends together to try conversational prayer. Once they've done that they don't want to return to their old prayer habits.

This book is now out of print. Some of the best books are. You can still buy this used at Biblio and help support independent book dealers. Or you can buy it at Amazon if you prefer. Both sources offer only used books, and often the same dealers list the same exact copies in both places. I prefer buying my used books at Biblio. Both links are affiliate links. Wherever you get the book, I believe reading it will transform your prayer life in both group and private prayer. I highly recommend it.

Let 2020 be the year that you revolutionize your prayer life.

Happy New Year!


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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Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Review of The Only Clue: A Gorilla Novel by Pamela Beason

Review of The Only Clue: A Gorilla Novel by Pamela Beason: Mother Gorilla with Baby
 Image by Curtis Yancey from Pixabay 

The Open House


It was obvious to Grace McKenna that Neema, the mother gorilla, was worried and getting closer to a melt-down. She and her baby Kanoni weren't used to so many humans around.They weren't used to hearing blaring music, seeing and smelling popcorn carts, and having reporters and cameramen constantly in their faces. They really hated the smell of the portable toilets that had been brought into the area surrounding their compound for the day.

Gumu, the huge father gorilla, was the most upset of all. He had retreated to his "nest" --  a bunch of tangled blankets at the top of his two-story enclosure. Although Gumu was twice Neema's size, he was much more afraid of strangers than she was. When he was a baby back in Africa, he had watched helplessly while poachers shot the rest of his family and cut up them into pieces.

Neema, Gumu and Kanoni trusted very few humans. Grace McKenna and her staff and volunteers were about the only humans the gorillas would let get near them. Grace was studying the ability of the gorillas to learn language. Neema knew about 500 words of sign language. She could use her sign language vocabulary intelligently with humans and with her gorilla family.

The local college was funding Grace's studies, and the board had insisted on this Open House as a prerequisite for continuing their funding. Grace had a splitting headache, there were rude children teasing the gorillas, and Grace just wanted the whole event to be over.

She was glad when her boyfriend Detective Matt Finn and his helper finally ushered all the visitors out. They had volunteered to handle security for the event. Matt invited Grace to relax at his place for the night. The staff had a party on their trailer on the compound.

Back in the Gorilla Enclosures

Image by m k from Pixabay 


After the humans were gone, Neema ate some strawberries and wanted to play. She went in search of Gumu, but he wasn't in his nest. So she took Kanoni back to her own nest in the barn to see if Gumu was there. But he wasn't anywhere. Instead all she found was a big wet spot on the floor.

"Creeping closer to the big dark wet, holding Kanoni tight, she looked at the spot out of the corner of her eye. Red wet. She leaned close. Meat smell. She touched her fingers to the red and tasted the wet. Meat wet. Red meat smell. Bad, hurt, she signed."
Where was Gumu? She wondered if Gumu was meat and was never coming back. She turned to the back of the barn and saw the wall was open a crack. It had never been open before. She pushed the wall away, grabbed Kanoni, and went outside to search for Gumu.

The Next Morning


When Grace went to feed the gorillas the next morning, all was quiet in the barn. She called them to breakfast, but no gorillas came. They were gone. Someone had removed the padlock from the outside of the door. Matt began to look for evidence, since the animals could not have escaped by themselves. Then Jon Zyrnek, the staff member who got along best with Gumu, discovered the huge puddle of blood and called them all over.

Matt immediately wanted to put out an all points bulletin, but Grace nixed it. Many of their neighbors in their town of Evansburg opposed having the gorillas in their neighborhood in the first place. They had gotten out once before and they were almost closed down then. Word of the escape getting out would endanger their funding, as well.

Grace finally talked Matt into investigating the the disappearance by himself and the staff promised to keep quiet. They canceled all the volunteer shifts, saying that Jon had the flu and they'd all been exposed. They couldn't chance passing it to the gorillas.  They also made up a story about a valuable missing dog that had been at the open house. They needed to report some case involving an animal to get the blood they had found tested at the lab. Jon and Grace continued to search outside, calling and naming the gorillas' favorite foods, but no gorillas responded.

The Undercurrents


Matt doesn't like Jon because he and the volunteer staff are all part of the Animal Rights Union that has been freeing lab and other animals they believe are mistreated. They've all been arrested and Jon had served time. They had begun their volunteer work with the gorillas as a community service sentence. But they enjoyed the work so much they kept at it.

Matt is sure Jon and the others are involved somehow. The gorillas are very valuable, especially since they can sign and paint. The sale of their paintings has helped fund the work. Jon's father recently got out of prison. Matt also considers him a suspect. 

Grace is worried about whether her gorillas can survive on their own in the woods, if that's where they are. She's convinced at least one of them has been killed. When you read the book, you will also be concerned for them and wonder what happened. I couldn't stop reading.

My Review  


I recommend this book to those who are interested in the intelligence of gorillas and their ability to talk to humans. They would find the book fascinating even if there were no mystery. I read this, the second book in the Neema series, because I had enjoyed the first book so much. Now I see a third book is also available and I plan to read that one, too. I like learning more about the capabilities of gorillas. But I also like trying to solve the mystery.

I would recommend this to any animal lover who likes mysteries  It's full of not only gorillas, but also dogs and Neema's two pet cats. The human characters are believable, though Matt seems to have a stereotyped view of Jon. The animal characters are also well-developed.

I found myself looking for clues right along with the detectives. The author shows us not only what the humans are doing, but also what Neema is doing. We know just enough to hope that the story will end happily, but we still have to wonder until the very end.

You might also be interested in my review of the first book in the series: The Only Witness.






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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Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Corrie ten Boom, Tramp for the Lord: A Review

I took the photo of the book cover from my own copy and added the quote.

Released from Ravensbrück with a Message for the World

Corrie ten Boom's family worked for the Dutch Resistance when the Nazis occupied their land of Holland during World War II. Corrie wrote of their activities and their consequences in her first book, The Hiding Place.

Until she was fifty years old, Corrie had lived with her family above the watch shop her father owned. After the Nazis took power, the ten Boom family helped hide persecuted Jews in a specially built hiding place in their home. But an informer betrayed them. The Nazis arrested and imprisoned the entire family.

Corrie's father died after a few days. Some family members were released. But Corrie and her sister Betsie were sent to Germany and imprisoned in the Ravensbrück women's labor camp for several months, where Betsie died. A clerical error caused the Germans to release Corrie a week before all the women her age were sent to the gas chambers.

Bundesarchiv Bild 183-1985-0417-15, Ravensbrück, Konzentrationslager
Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-1985-0417-15 / CC-BY-SA 3.0 [CC BY-SA 3.0 de (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/deed.en)]

While imprisoned, Corrie and Betsie had tried to encourage those who had lost all hope. The picture above shows the kind of work these women in Ravensbrück did. The photo above was taken at Ravensbrück a year before Corrie was imprisoned there. This link leads to more photos taken of the prisoners in this camp and their life there. You can see why most had little hope. Most did not leave while alive. They saw the smoke from the crematoriums as they worked. Could anything be more depressing?

In The Hiding Place Corrie explains how God was able to work among the women--even in the barracks of the concentration camp. The book was made into a movie. I recommend it. I saw it when it first came out in 1975.




Corrie's Life After Release

After her miraculous release, for I believe God was behind that clerical blunder, Corrie spent some time regaining her health and reconnecting with the remnants of her old life in Holland. Then, for about twenty more years, she traveled the world spreading her message of God's love and forgiveness. She called herself a tramp for the Lord because she circled the world twice, living out of a suitcase, with no real home to call her own. I call her an ambassador for Christ, for she carried his message of reconciliation wherever she went. She chose the title for her book because it reflects her lifestyle during those years. It is the sequel to The Hiding Place.


Corrie's Message Was Consistent


Corrie had suffered hardship and betrayal. She had watched as her sister died due to conditions in the concentration camp, illness, and the cruelty of a particular guard. She had slept with fleas and lice. She had almost starved to death. But still she spoke of God's love and faithfulness to her.

During nightly Bible times  in the barracks, she gave hope to many women without any. She had managed to sneak a Bible in and she used it for spiritual strength for herself, Betsie, and anyone else who wanted to participate. (That story is in this book.)

Corrie's message was one of reconciliation. She told stories as she shared the convicting and healing words of the Bible. One of her most frequent themes dealt with the bitterness that many have when they believe they have suffered injustice or betrayal. She taught that the cure was forgiveness. On p. 59 she says, "If we forgive other people, our hearts are made ready to receive forgiveness."

But God has a way of testing us so that we will know ourselves. Corrie was not exempt from that testing.

One night Corrie spoke about God's forgiveness at a church in Munich. She had told the assembled Germans that when we confess our sins, God casts them into the deep ocean and they are gone forever.

And then she saw a man approaching her in an overcoat and a brown hat. Except she suddenly saw him as she had known him before -- in a blue uniform and a visored cap with a skull and crossbones. The man had been one of the most cruel guards at Ravensbrück. As he thrust his hand out he said it was good to know all his sins were at the bottom of the sea. He seemed not to recognize Corrie. He told her he'd been a guard there, but had become a Christian now.

He said, '...I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there, but I would like to hear it from your lips, as well....will you forgive me?' Out came his hand again.

All Corrie's memories of the terrible times and the way her sister died flooded her mind. Corrie wrote: "And I stood there--I whose sins had again and again to be forgiven--and could not forgive."

She wrestled with God internally over the hardest thing He had ever asked of her. She wrote "For I had to do it--I knew that. The message that God forgives has a prior condition: that we forgive those who have injured us. 'If you do not forgive men their trespasses,' Jesus says, 'neither will your Father in Heaven forgive your trespasses.' I refer you to Chapter 7 in Tramp for the Lord to see what happened next.

I took the photo of the book cover from my own copy and added the quote.
Each chapter of Tramp for the Lord is short, but Corrie doesn't need a lot of words to share what she has learned through her suffering and from the Bible. I was impressed most by the fact that Corrie was an ordinary Christian quietly making watches and doing her best to obey God when she was arrested. She had learned to trust God before prison, and she kept trusting Him during those months at Ravensbrück in spite of the horror of her surroundings and the cruelty she suffered and witnessed.

She continued to trust him on a daily basis as she traveled the world as a tramp for the Lord. He remained faithful in providing her needs until her death on her 91st birthday in 1983. When she said "He made me rich" she didn't mean materially rich. He supplied all her needs so she would not have to ask for money. He gave her peace, forgiveness, and the victory that comes with obedience.





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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Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Review of the Best Two Books on Prayer I've Ever Read

Review of the Best Two Books on Prayer I've Ever Read
Scan of my two books. Image created on PicMonkey


I'll Never Get Rid of These Two Books on Prayer

I bought these books back when they were published in the early 1970s. I began working at Logos Bookstore in Westwood in 1972, and as long as I worked there I could borrow and read anything on their shelves any time I wanted to.

We had three cases of books on Christian devotional and prayer life. I must have read half of what was in those cases during my nine years at Logos. Of all those books I read, these are the two books I bought about prayer. They are the keepers.

Hallesby Makes It Simple


I recently started rereading Hallesby's book. It's taken me two weeks to get through the first chapter -- 34 small pages. Why? Because every sentence is packed with important thoughts to ponder.  The chapter attempts to define what prayer actually is. Hallesby says, "Prayer is the breath of the soul, the organ by which we receive Christ into our parched and withered hearts."

Photo © B. Radisavljevic. Quote added.


If you're as old as I am, approaching my eighties, and have been a Christian for as long as I've been, since I was twelve, you've probably had a lot of teaching about prayer. You've heard why you should pray, how you should pray, when you should pray, and with what attitude. You've probably heard what topics you should pray about and in what order. You've probably heard you need to pray in faith with no doubting in order for God to answer your prayer.

If you're a bit like me, you've sometimes started to pray and gotten intimidated by all you've heard. Sometimes I get so tripped up by all those details and how-tos I can hardly pray at all. I feel quite helpless as I mentally check the details off my mental list. After all, I want to make sure I'm praying in a way that God will hear and answer.

Hallesby addresses my condition in his first chapter. He says helplessness is our best prayer,  and that the call of the helpless heart to the heart of God is more effective than any words we can utter. He compares our helpless condition before God to that of the helpless child dependent on his mother's care. A tiny infant cannot tell you what he wants and needs. He just cries. And a mother's heart is always tuned to hear those cries and help.

The prayer of an infant is his cry to his loving parent.
Created on Get Stencil from public domain image it provided. I added the quote.

I'm still rereading the  rest of the book but it does address some of the difficulties people encounter in prayer, prayer as work, what it means to wrestle in prayer, misuses of prayer, forms of prayer, and more. The book is practical and very readable. I believe this is the first book anyone wanting to develop a serious prayer life should read on the subject. Find reasonably priced used copies at Biblio, a site for independent booksellers. This link to one copy will also lead you to the others.  You can find a newer expanded edition for Kindle on Amazon.


The Hidden Life of Prayer by D.M. M'ntyre (or McIntrye)


If you want to go beyond what you've learned from Hallesby, it may be time to pick up The Hidden Life of Prayer. The author ministered in England and Scotland for over fifty years before entering Heaven in 1938. He led a life of prayer and in his book he often quoted other prayer warriors. These quotes are often in the footnotes, which I'm often prone to skip. But in this book you mustn't skip them or you will miss a lot of the treasure.

What some people today may find difficult about the book is the language the ideas are dressed in. The style and vocabulary may intimidate some of today's readers, especially if they are young. Academics may be more comfortable with it. But those who are willing to make the effort will find it rewarding.


It's full of quotes from historic Christian figures who accomplished much in their service for Christ. One quote I found on page 26 was from a book, Waiting on God, by Dr. A.B. Davidson. I'd like to share it will you.

Quote on what it means to wait on God in prayer
Image created on Get Stencil App with public domain photo it supplied. I added the text.


"To wait is not merely to remain impassive. It is to expect -- to look for with patience, and also with submission. It is to long for, but not impatiently; to look for, but not to fret at the delay; to watch for, but not restlessly; to feel that if He does not come we will acquiesce, and yet to refuse to let the mind acquiesce in the feeling that He will not come."
Contrast M'intyre's definition of prayer below with the one I shared near the beginning of this post from Hallesby:

"Prayer is said to be the gathering up of all the faculties in an ardour of reverence, and love, and praise. As one clear strain may succeed in reducing to harmony a number of mutually-discordant voices, so the regnant impulses of the spiritual nature unite the heart to fear the name of the Lord."  [sic]
 To find treasure, we often have to dig deep. We have to be willing to exercise our minds. This is not a book one skims like a blog post. But if you are at the right stage of your prayer life and your desire to have it mature even more is great, this may be the next book on prayer you should read. Its 94 pages are packed with spiritual nutrients. Like the Hallesby book, it is easily found used at a price anyone can afford. Find it  at Biblio or at Amazon.




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Wednesday, August 28, 2019

A Review of Heavenly Hunks: A Perfect Gluten-Free Snack


A Review of Heavenly Hunks: A Perfect Gluten-Free Snack
Heavenly Hunks at Almost Actual Size -  © B. Radisavljevic

I Love to Snack


I tend to graze my way through the day. But I don't want to eat junk food. So I try to find healthy snacks. I often eat nuts or crackers made with whole grains or seeds. Whenever possible I prefer gluten-free or organic snacks. Heavenly Hunks meet my criteria. For those to whom it matters, they are also vegan and dairy free. They are good any time of day, but I most often have them for breakfast.

My Strange Breakfast Habits


I used to be a big fan of breakfast. As I entered my last quarter of life I began to feel a bit queasy when I woke up most mornings. My routines changed when my medication changed and I had to take my medication schedule into account when planning my meals, snacks, and sleeping hours. I have to eat something before I take my medication, and I often have to take it within a few minutes of waking up. So I need to put something in my stomach before I feel like eating. Sometimes all I can handle is a soda cracker, so I have it as soon as the alarm goes off, take my medication, and wait until I have more appetite before eating much more. If I feel up to it, I might have a banana or some grapes.

I used to have a Heavenly Hunk, but then Costco stopped carrying them. I was delighted to find them back in stock again last week, so I picked up a few bags. One or two of them with a banana makes a breakfast I can tolerate and it goes well with my morning tea.
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Each small tasty hunk contains oatmeal and dark chocolate chips as the first two ingredients. I get a gram of fiber, and a gram of protein. I admit I also get 7 grams of sugar, but they are good sugars. (Well, as good as any sugar can be.) I often balance those sugars with a handful of salted peanuts for another form of protein. It works for me. If I don't feel up to that much sugar, I have some BelVita Breakfast Biscuits, which I also keep on hand. They aren't quite as sweet.

Heavenly Hunks Are Tasty Snacks Anytime


They also are good for dessert when you want to satisfy your sweet tooth without feeling too guilty. You can always have a few nuts of your choice to accompany the hunks to feel more virtuous. Actually, an apple and a few walnuts would be perfect.

Heavenly Hunks are also a valuable addition to my emergency food shelf. The electric company has given fair warning that they may shut us down for days at a time during fire season. Hot foods or foods that require using dishes will be inconvenient, as will be freeze-dried foods. Water will be scarce.

So we are stocking up on nutritious snacks like the Heavenly Hunks, BelVita, dark chocolate, dried fruit, nuts, and trail mix. We will also have to rely on canned fish and vegetables more than we like. We usually have apples, oranges, and bananas that don't need refrigeration, and we keep whole grain crackers on hand. We will also have the protein drinks my husband likes and I don't like much. It will be a departure from our normal diet of fresh foods, but we won't starve. 

A Review of Heavenly Hunks: A Perfect Gluten-Free Snack
© B. Radisavljevic


You Can Now Find Heavenly Hunks at Amazon


I was happy to see this, since Costco is an unreliable source. That's a shame, since the treats are about half the price at Costco when they do have them. Amazon also sells smaller bags with different flavors, like peanut butter.

Wherever you get these, they are tasty morsels. If you get a chance, try them. Snack on them and keep them handy for emergencies. You won't be sorry.


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Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Moonstone Beach in Cambria: A Review in Photos




Moonstone Beach Is My Go-To Place When it's Hot


I live about forty minutes from Cambria, California. When it's hot, Moonstone Beach is my favorite place to beat the heat. It seems people visit for a lot of different reasons. Most people just walk the boardwalk as my husband is doing in the photo above. Others like to play on the beach or visit the tide pools. Some fly kites. Some build things from the driftwood they find on the beach. And some hunt for jade left on the beach by the waves. I mostly walk on the beach and boardwalk and take pictures. Below is a another beach walker.

Man walking the shoreline at Moonstone Beach in Cambria, © B. Radisavljevic

Most of the people I see at Moonstone Beach are not sunbathers. The weather is generally cool and often windy, as you will see in some of the videos below. The people I see in the water are generally not swimmers, but surfers. Most people don't venture deeper into the water than knee high. A lot of people build sandcastles near the water's edge.


Moonstone Beach is a Family Friendly Place


We once saw a family having a reunion there. The activity of the day for intergenerational fun was flying stunt kites. I'd never seen one before, and it was fascinating. In case you haven't seen them in action, either, I took a video with the family's permission. The grandfather was teaching his teenage granddaughter to fly the stunt kite with him. In between watching the action in the air, there are plenty of views of the beach, the commercial/residential area across the highway from the beach, and the structures people have built and left on the beach. Enjoy.




Sometimes as I sit at my computer trying to tend to business, I remember how much fun this family had that day. It might be fun to try it myself. Here's the kite I might get if I had a grandchild to share it with. It appears to be simple enough for me and a child.




Nature is On Display at Moonstone Beach



I enjoy watching the waves and those trying to ride them. I also like to watch the wildlife -- especially the ground squirrels. They star in two portions of the video below. You'll also see a boy trying to figure out how to catch a wave on his boogie board and another climbing the rocks in the tidepools. It only looks like I'm in the water. Take a few minutes, unwind, and watch the waves with me.



As you saw in the video, there are quite a few ground squirrels, and they can put on quite a show. They aren't really tame, but they don't run away and hide until you get a bit too close for their comfort. I was happy to see and get to snap this.


Those two appear pretty skinny in comparison to the one below. I'll bet it does a lot of begging from beach goers. You can also see some of the  beach flowers in bloom.





In all seasons but winter there's usually something you can find in bloom or even dispersing seeds. When I was there in August this bush lupine was forming pods.



I think the pods look a bit like caterpillars. What do you think?

The buckwheat also blooms in August. It almost makes the beach look like a garden, unlike the beaches I used to frequent in Southern California.




Seagulls seem to be everywhere, but they seem to really like hanging out on the tops of streetlights.


Sometimes, though, they like performing close to the water. This is part of the Santa Rosa Creek Watershed you see on Moonstone Beach.



Now the gulls have taken to the sky.  The watershed captured the sky's reflection so that it looks like an island of sky surrounded by the sand.



Make Some Memories on Your Visit 

Then share them with somebody.








There's so much more to see than I've room to show you here. But there are a couple of things I should tell you before I post this. The beach does have some public restrooms. They are near the parking lot.



If you want a really private place to take someone special, this is not far off the boardwalk. Behind this tree is a lone secluded bench facing the ocean. You can see a couple enjoying it now.



Although one can usually find a place to park in the lot, if you're driving a long trailer, be careful. This lot, the one by the restroom, wasn't really designed to handle parking something as long as this man is driving.  He obviously got it parked, but  getting it out of the space he parked in presented a problem. You can see how much difficulty he's having. I had to go over and help direct him so he wouldn't hit anything or get stuck.





Our Central Coast is Full of Beaches

Our Central Coast beaches each have a distinct character and people visit them for different reasons. A lot of the sunbathers prefer Pismo Beach. Surfers especially like Cayucos and Moonstone Beach. You can see a how different Cayucos is from Moonstone Beach in Enjoying the beach at Cayucos, California. Get a brief look at most of our beaches and coastal towns here



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Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Reviews of My Favorite Graphoanalysis Books

Image created on Fotojet.com

What Sold Me on Graphoanalysis 

I had my first experience with graphoanalysis in the 1990s. At the time I had an IBM clone  computer in the days before Windows and before I had the internet. I don't quite remember how I acquired the floppy disks I got my shareware programs on or how I even found out about them back then. But one of those disks had a program for analyzing people's signatures for their hidden meanings.

My friends and family weren't safe. I immediately used the program to find out all about them. Of course, I shared  my results and most people thought the results were correct assessments of their personality traits.

In 1990 the IRS decided to audit us. They asked for a ridiculous amount of paperwork and receipts over the course of several weeks. We'd go to an appointment and then the agent would ask for more. By mail. With her signature. Hubby said, "Why don't you analyze her signature?" So I did. That analysis gave us enough information to plan a strategy that worked and helped us win our case. After that handwriting analysis became a sort of hobby.

Later I Turned to Handwriting Analysis Books


As technology progressed, I had to upgrade my computer. I could no longer use a floppy disk. But I wanted to learn more about graphoanalysis. So I started buying books. My collection now includes six books on the subject. I will review my two favorites here.

My foundational book was Handwriting Analysis: The Science of Determining Personality by Graphoanalysis by Milton Bunker, founder of the International Graphoanalysis Society. He was a shorthand teacher who had learned and taught seventeen different shorthand systems. He began to research handwriting in 1910 and through his observations developed his techniques for analyzing it. He explains how he developed and tested his system. He believes it's as valid a science as psychology is. Not everyone agrees. My own experience leads me to believe there's something to it.

After the first chapter, every chapter teaches you a rule to use when evaluating handwriting. Each of these chapters is followed by an short exam so you can test yourself. All the answers are at the back of the book. There is a "Dictionary of Grapho Analysis" at the very end of the book.

The book itself was first published in 1959. I have the 1975 printing and its cover design shows it. The type style  and layout of the book are not as easy to read as more modern styles, but it's still worth what I paid for it and I'd buy it again because it's so interesting. The covers below give you an idea of the style. That back cover will get big enough to read if you click it.

My Scans of Front and Back Covers of Bunker's 1975 Printing, © B. Radisavljevic


See the signatures of the rich, famous, and infamous, as well as their analyses. Learn how the ability of someone to analyze another's handwriting prevented suicides.  Between the covers of this book are numerous stories I simply enjoyed reading. People have used graphology to settle court cases, help law enforcement, and protect loved ones from unhappy marriages and even murder.

Milton Bunker introduced me to the way graphoanalysis developed and its basic principles and techniques. He showed me how useful it is to learn it. Andrea McNichol provides a more modern book that makes handwriting analysis easy to learn -- Handwriting Analysis: Putting It to Work for You. Both books are entertaining and held my interest with anecdotes, case histories, and instruction.

Nuggets from Milton Bunker


Bunker calls the ability to analyze handwriting "an insurance policy." He says it can protect your wallet and even your life. He tells several stories where this turned out to be the case. Appearances are often deceiving. Some scoundrels are very good actors and convincing liars. But their handwriting doesn't lie. You can learn a lot about someone from their signature alone. I certainly found that was true as I dealt with the IRS agent during our audit. Graphoanalysis helps one look behind a person's facade.

Here is Bunker's advice for applying what you learn from his books:

  1. Study the rules
  2. Use them to study actual samples
  3. Test and prove your result
He says if you do these things, what you learn will stay in your mind even if lose your books. 

Bunker says analyzing your handwriting will help you get to know yourself better. It can also help you help your child. Sometimes it can uncover unrecognized family dynamics so families can deal with unhealthy situations. 

Bunker tells the story of a family that was about to "lose" their son. The parents knew he was headed for trouble and they didn't know what they were doing wrong. After an analysis of a sample from the parents and the child, they discovered the boy felt his parents didn't love him. They had both been so active outside the home they didn't give the son the attention he craved. The boy agreed that was the problem and the family was able to make changes and turn the situation around.
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What to Do with Your Discoveries


Milton Bunker cautions us to be ethical in the way we use what we find when we analyze someone's handwriting. He reminds us that we should not use it to judge people or as a basis for gossip. He offers this example. As you analyze someone's signature, you may discover its owner has a tendency to steal. But because a person has that tendency doesn't mean he has ever actually stolen anything or ever will. You should simply recognize that the tendency is there and not let him handle your money. Watch him carefully if he handles money or other things of value. Use the information to protect yourself and those you love. 

You may also discover things about yourself you don't like when you analyze your own writing. Bunker and many other graphologists believe you can actually change some traits you don't like by changing your handwriting. I have no personal experience trying to do this, but he does offer some guidance on the subject. 

A Fun Way to Learn Handwriting Analysis 


My Scan of My Book
Andrea McNichol wrote a workbook designed to help anyone learn to analyze handwriting for personal reasons. Handwriting Analysis: Putting It to Work for You is easy to use and makes learning enjoyable.

Ms. McNichol has sterling qualifications. She did her undergraduate work and got a teaching credential at UC Berkeley and studied graphology in Europe. She also participated in more specialized study and research related to substance abusers, mental patients, and criminals, some under the auspices of the University of California. She designed and taught the first graphoanalysis course at UCLA and went on to teach the course at seven other UC campuses. Her students have given her consistently high ratings in their reviews. As a professional consultant for law enforcement and businesses, she has used her skills in high profile cases such as the contesting of the will of Howard Hughes.

The book cover I scanned above gives you a good preview of the format and style of her book. My affiliate links above or below will take you to the book page where you can look at a few sample pages inside. They will give you a realistic idea of what it's like to use this book. You will see the introductory quiz that demonstrates how much just your common sense can discern.

McNichol defines graphology as the study of all graphic movement. She believes it applies not only to handwriting but also to doodles, sculpture, and painting. She says it gives insight into the writer or artist's physical, mental, and emotional state, but in this book she limits herself to handwriting analysis. She does devote a brief chapter at the end of the book to doodling.

When We Write We Leave "Brain Prints"


Image Created on Fotojet.com


Ms. McNichol points out that people's handwriting is as unique as their fingerprints. Our handwriting is like an x-ray that reveals what's in our minds. Scary? She says "Our brain prints reveal who we are and how we think, feel, and behave. The are an x-ray of our minds....No two people have the same brain prints."

The purpose of McNichol's book is to show us how to read these brain prints so  we can understand more about people than their spoken words and their actions may reveal. Her easily readable presentation is full of samples and illustrations that will engage you in actually testing what you learn as you go.

Two Approaches to Handwriting Analysis


McNichol offers two paths to interpreting handwriting.

  1. Look for the individual traits of a person's handwriting and determine what each reveals. 
  2. Start with an individual personality trait you want to check for and then see if the person's handwriting has signs of that trait being present. 

Suggestions to Increase Accuracy When Analyzing Handwriting



Don't jump to the wrong conclusion when you see one or two traits that point in the same direction. Look for several different traits that mean the same thing. If possible, use several samples of a person's writing that were taken at different times. 

Consider the conditions a person wrote under. In the introductory photo at the top of this post is a sample of my writing taken under abnormal conditions. I was writing with the "pen" that came with my Samsung Galaxy Note 9 smartphone. I wanted to use a handwriting sample as part of the image and the easiest way to do that was to use the pen to write on my phone screen and then make a screen shot to edit as part of the total image collage. I then used Fotojet to build the collage of cover scans and the handwriting sample. 

Writing on a phone screen is a bit like signing your credit card on one of those terminals that supplies the pen and allows you to scribble something that only faintly resembles your signature. On the phone screen I can at least see what I'm writing, but the surface is much different than paper and one needs to concentrate more. Handwriting samples are best taken when a person is not trying to concentrate on the writing process. The important part of an analysis is what a person is unaware of doing. Something written on paper at a table or desk is a better sample than something written on a computer train or while holding a phone in one hand and the pen in the other. You get the idea. 

Make sure the person who wrote the sample intended for others to read it. We are often careless when we are taking notes just for ourselves, especially if we are trying to hurry. A grocery list may not be the best thing to use. 

Other Considerations 


McNichol tells us that children's writing is often undeveloped. We need to analyze their writing differently than that of adults. They often display traits in their writing that is normal for their age but would horrify us if we saw it in an adult's writing. This book is intended for analyzing adult handwriting only. 

It can also be useful to know which system a person learned to write with. Many people learned to write with the Palmer method and some parts of the book applies mostly to people who learned that way.  If you know how a person learned, it's easier to spot deviations from that method of writing. 

Why Not Learn to Analyze Handwriting Yourself?


It's not only an enjoyable hobby, but it's a great way to get to know people -- really know them. Most of the friends I asked were happy to give me samples. Of course, they also wanted to see the results. Most were surprised their writing revealed so much they'd never told me. 

Write a letter to your younger self and sign it. Or write a letter to anyone you don't intend to send. Don't think about your handwriting -- just what you want to say.  Then use one of these books or a computer program to help you analyze your writing. I have used all of the books below and found them helpful. Many others have been written since I bought mine that I'm also tempted to try. Sometimes it's better to learn from more than one teacher.

You may surprise yourself with what you learn from your handwriting.  And you will also begin to notice the traits you see in the writing of others. Have fun.






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