Showing posts with label Dawn Rae. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dawn Rae. Show all posts

Monday, March 30, 2020

Movie Review: This Mountain Life

This Mountain Life is a beautiful, inspiring documentary about a grown daughter and her 60 year old mother who ski traverse the Coast Mountains of British Colombia, a six month trip in the winter. But this movie is not just about them or their trip. It is about people who choose to live their lives and pursue their passions.


Movie review: This Mountain Life

"Shot in cinematic detail, This Mountain Life is a riveting examination of human passion set high in the peaks of British Columbia". - This Mountain Life homepage.
Martina Halik (at age 29) is planning to ski/hike/climb the Coast Mountain range in British Columbia from Squamish, BC to Skagway, AK. This is a trip that is over 2,300k (1,400+ miles). She invites her mother to come. Martina describes her mom as super hardcore and very humble. 

Tania Halik was 59 when her daughter was planning this trip. Without hesitation she said that she would go along. And would consider the trip her 60th birthday present. Tania tells us how proud she is of her daughter. That her daughter has not done anything this difficult. She says this with love. And we learn that this is the 2nd time Tania has crossed mountains. I thought that I couldn't imagine taking this trip, but after learning about Tania's first trip I realized that this 2nd trip was probably the equivalent of a pleasure cruise compared to her first adventure.

"Maybe when I'm old I'll [do other trips]. And then I get these odd looks and I realize, oh they think I'm old now. I don't feel old. "  - Tania Halik

It is a wonderful thing to see a parent and an adult child admire and appreciate each other the way the Halik women appear to. 

The planned route
This movie is not a detailed look at their trip. Nor is it a how-to-traverse-mountains video. Although, you may learn something. For example, I had no idea that it was possible to ski up steep mountainsides! This documentary is a variety of brief glimpses at the Haliks as individuals, as a mother and daughter, and of the terrain they are traveling through on this very long trip. It is a movie about living.

In addition the Halik story, the movie cuts out to vignettes about 5 other people. At first, I found the vignettes to be pretty but jarring. But by the end of the movie I felt that it was a gift to have met these people. I viewed the movie a second time within the same week and those vignettes were my favorite portions. I looked forward to meeting those folks again.
"I'm not interested in dying. I'm up there because I want to live" - Barry Blanchard, mountain guide/climber

This movie is about people who are following their passion and living their lives. Really living their lives - not just going through each day habitually. It is also about the magic of the mountains and encourages us all to experience that magic.  Granted, not all of us will make art in the snow, survive an avalanche, climb frozen mountains, be a nun who skies across snowy clearings at the mountain monestary, live on a remote homestead for 50 years, or ski for 6 months from one country to another.

Us less skilled folks do not have to go into the backcountry for months in order to experience nature's benefits. But we can each appreciate the beauty of the outdoors around us and become rejuvenated through the sights, sounds, and fresh air. Us folks who are not skilled in the mountains, can choose to actively follow our passions where they lead us.

I watched this movie in bed late one night. I expected to fall asleep during the movie. Not only did I not fall asleep but I became energized. I got out of bed after the movie feeling stirred and excited to continue to pursue my own passions. It took me hours to settle and fall asleep - in a good way.

Perhaps this movie hit me hard because my dream is to live in a small house, on my own piece of land, in the mountains of West Virginia. But I think this movie would be appealing to a broad range of people. Especially those who want to live a more inspired life.

I saw the movie via Amazon Prime. You can find it here. Amazon also offers the video in DVD format.

Watch the official video trailer on Vimeo here

If you would like to know more about my mountain homesteading dreams, you can read more about me and The Shack here


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Monday, March 16, 2020

Book Review: Chesapeake by James Michener

Until now, I had never read Michener. For some reason I had the pre-conceived notion that his stories would be long and boring. I am happy to announce that I was wrong. While Chesapeake by James Michener is indeed a long novel, it is far from boring. It is a captivating account of the families who settled the colonies and waterways of the eastern United States. And their ancestors in the Delmarva region over the next 400 years. 

Reviewing Chesapeake by James Michener


I was in the mood for a story that highlighted life in the outdoors. As I searched my local library's digital selections I chose Chesapeake with the thought that if I find it to be over-rated, under--whelming, and difficult to read, at least it was free. I was surprised that I was immediately hooked with the first character.

This story begins in 1583. Pentaquod, of the Susquehannock tribe, is a widower who has voiced an opinion against the plans of the tribal council. As a result, the family of his new love interest has refused to allow her to marry him. He is looked upon with suspicion by the members of his village. Pentaquod does not want to war with the northern tribe and he wants to continue to live in peace. Because he disagrees with the tribal council, he is increasingly an outcast. He flees the village for parts unknown downriver.

"It was toward morning of the third night, when he had had only two small fish to eat in three days, that he came to those falls which his people called Conowingo, and here he faced the test which would determine the success of his escape. When he approached the white and leaping water he intended to drag his canoe ashore and portage it a long distance downhill, but as he paddled away from the middle of the river to the safety of shore.... "

Pentaquod's journey south by canoe from the Susquehanna River to Chesapeake Bay were stories that seemed familiar. The water and wildlife descriptions are similar to what can be experienced by those of us who sit along the banks or kayak these waters.  

Pentaquod had never traveled as far as the open water of the bay. He chose an island on the eastern shore for his new home. There he is introduced to Blue Heron's, crabs, and the natural rhythms of life on the water. Later, he joins a part of the local tribe (later named the Choptank) and lives a long, mostly peaceful life living on the rivers and in the marshes of that area. Michener's descriptions of the flora and fauna make me feel as though I am sitting there, on the banks of the Choptank river. 

In 1606, Captain John Smith brings ships and crews to the New World with a plan to "conquer Virginia". He also brings Edmund Steed. The Steed family is one of the families we follow over the centuries.

In Chesapeake, the focus is on a 400 year saga of these families who settled the area. Each of the families intertwine with the others over the years. While the characters, and an island on which one of the main families settle, are fictional the issues are historical. We are reminded how the people in the first colony barely survives. We are reminded that many of the first settlers are fleeing religious persecution and how that continues in the New World. As time goes on, "letter brides", indentured servants, and slaves join the growing population. Public whippings - including that of a Quaker woman - are the norm of the day. I was reminded that settling this country was no easy task. And this was just the beginning.

James Michener paints a picture of the area and of the families whose ancestry intertwine over time from the 1500s to the late 1970s. I will think of them every time I sit along the banks of the local waterways or watch the water spilling from Conowingo Dam.




Related Link:

Not long after I began reading Chesapeake, BarbRad reviewed The World is My Home by James Michener. She explains that in this memoir he shares stories of his life, travels, interests, and writing. I've added this memoir to my reading list and look forward to learning more about the author who wrote the engrossing story I'm reading now.


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Monday, March 2, 2020

Easy Meal Recipes: Fish Tacos

I am always looking for easy week night meals that are easy and inexpensive. Thanks to a suggestion from my son, I made these easy and delicious fish tacos. I want to pass this meal idea on to you.


Easy and delicious Fish Tacos with Avocado Cream Sauce


My youngest son regularly sends photos of the beautiful and delicious meals he prepares for his family. One recent evening, in response to his mouth-watering food photo, I responded something like: 


" I'm stopping for frozen fish sticks. Yay."

He responded that I should make fish tacos. That sounded way too difficult after a hard day at work and an irritating commute home on the beltway. Fortunately, he sent a link for avocado cream sauce. That did it. I stopped for the frozen fish sticks and the 5 ingredients that I didn't have in my kitchen already. And I made easy and delicious fish tacos. I am so glad I did.


Avocado Cream Sauce


The link he sent was the Avocado Cream Sauce recipe by Barefeet in the Kitchen. Along with the recipe on the page there are links for many recipes using the avocado cream sauce. But my taste buds were firmly set on fish tacos.



Avocado Cream Sauce shopping list


I did not use a blender to prepare my sauce. I was too tired to drag out a blender, wash it, and put it away. So I used a potato masher and mashed the avocados, adding the other ingredients while mashing. I liked the slightly chunky texture and I think it turned out great. But if you prefer a smoother sauce, make sure to use a blender as directed in the original recipe.


Cheap and Easy Weeknight Fish Tacos


Of course, these fish tacos would be even more delicious with fresh fish in place of the frozen fish fillets. However, whether you are cooking for yourself or for the family after a hectic day of work/school/activities, frozen fish fillets make this an easy meal.

Meal Ingredients:

  • small flour tortillas - approximately 6" size
  • frozen fish fillets - prepared per package instructions
  • half head of cabbage - shredded
  • Avocado Cream Sauce - prepared per the recipe instructions
Directions:
  1. Bake fish per the package instructions
  2. While the fish bakes, make the sauce using the avocados, sour cream, fresh garlic, lime juice, salt and pepper. Set that aside in the refrigerator.
  3. Cut the cabbage into small strips
  4. Allow the fish to cool slightly before assembling the tacos. Then assemble by placing a bed of cabbage onto a tortilla, a fish fillet on the cabbage, and a spoonful of avocado cream sauce on top of the fish.
Enjoy!

This recipe was a wonderful change of pace from my normal easy/cheap meal line up. The avocado and lime added a fresh summery flavor in the middle of our mild but dreary winter. The fish, avocado, and cabbage was definitely a healthier alternative to most fast food drive-thru meals. 

Related Link:

After looking more closely at the Barefeet in the Kitchen site I learned that the author is Mary Younkin. She has published recipe books that look right up my alley! Ms. Younkin caught my attention with the philosophy of "cooking from scratch as simply as possible".








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Monday, February 17, 2020

Reviewing the Muscle Max Massage Ball

The Muscle Max Massage Ball looks like a gimmick. It looks like an over-sized, hard rubber tennis ball with grooves. However, it is somehow much more than that and has helped me immensely with pain relief. After the first time I used one I knew I had to have one of my own. 


Reviewing the Muscle Max massage ball on ReviewThisReviews.com


The Backstory


I have had migraines and a constant daily headache since the late 1980s. Relief has been elusive. And costly. The causes of migraines are as individual as each person that has them. In my opinion, that is what makes them difficult to treat. I have recently found pain relief with treatment and the Muscle Max Massage Ball by Epitome Fitness is a part of that treatment. 

I have started treatment that has included chiropractic, dry needling, stim/heat treatment, stretching and exercise. With this treatment, I'm experiencing greatly reduced pain and actually have some days with no pain at all.


The Muscle Max Massage Ball


The physical therapy portion of my treatment began with the initial focus of loosening me up and increasing range of motion. The pain over the decades had kept me in a constant state of gritting teeth and shrugged shoulders. When the PT staff handed me this little rubber ball, I was so skeptical that I nearly laughed. But I did as instructed.

Standing against the wall, I placed the ball between my back/shoulders area and leaned back. As I moved my body up and down or side to side, the ball gave a deep muscle massage. I could adjust the pressure by how hard I leaned back. Finding a knot in my muscle, I pressed back and rubbed until I could feel the knot loosening.

It was so effective that I left my appointment and hopped on Amazon to order my own Muscle Max Massage Ball.  

A few descriptive blurbs from the Epitome Fitness site:

  • high density rubber
  • trigger point massage grid
  • provides Myofascial Release therapy (MFR)
  • relaxes contracted muscles
  • improves blood circulation

The Epitome Fitness site also highlights a few different ways to use the ball.

Clearly, the Muscle Max ball is only one piece of my recovery. I would not say that it alone cured my migraines. I would say that it immediately feels good and I can feel improvement each time I use this strange rubber ball. With daily use, the tension in my shoulders has released dramatically and my range of motion has increased noticeably.

Important Note: I am not a doctor or physical therapist. If you have chronic pain or health problems, as always, consult your provider before beginning a new treatment or exercise. 





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Monday, February 3, 2020

Reviewing the Honbay Convertible Sectional Sofa

When furnishing a living space your first thought might not be to shop Amazon. It sure wasn't my first thought. That is the last place I would have considered shopping for a sofa before now. But I ended up purchasing the Honbay Convertible Sectional Sofa through Amazon Prime and it turned out to be a great decision in several ways.


Reviewing this sectional sofa from Amazon.

My son recently moved to the area and was in the process of setting up short-term living arrangements in a small apartment. My youngest son and I wanted to give him a sofa. Small living space translates to small furniture. We searched nearly every furniture store in the Baltimore metro area to find a compact, inexpensive sofa that would fit the space and be easy to handle during his next move.

Every local small sofa on sale was nearly $400 and included approximately a $100 delivery fee. And some deliveries were scheduled for weeks out.

My son suggested Amazon and I was not initially agreeable. We chose the Honbay Convertible Sectional Sofa and I skeptically waited for delivery (expecting to feel regret at the purchase).

He is very pleased with the sofa! I was thrilled that it arrived quickly and with Amazon Prime's free shipping. I know that he really likes the sofa but when asking for the purpose of this review what he likes, he immediately listed:

  • easy to assemble
  • sturdy and well-built for the price
  • tear-resistant linen cloth
  • excellent size for a small space
  • seating for 3 adults comfortably

It is currently priced at $319 with no delivery costs - saving us nearly $200! It was delivered as easily as any other Amazon package.

This sofa has been great with the dogs. The cloth is durable - no punctures or rips from those sharp dog toenails. Because of the low price tag, I expected the covering to feel scratchy or cheap. It does not.

The chaise portion can easily be changed to either the right or left side by changing the placement of the ottomon and long cushion.


HONBAY Convertible Sectional Sofa 

I highly recommend this sofa for:

  • small spaces 
  • living spaces that are up or down stairs
  • temporary living situations 
  • folks who relocate frequently and want easy-to-move furniture
  • people with a tight budget
  • college students
  • young families just getting started
  • older folks who are down-sizing
  • furnishing that guest suite
  • seating for a large bedroom
  • seating for entertaining and conversation areas




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Monday, January 20, 2020

Reviewing Acorn Spice Dish Soap by Mrs. Meyer's

I am a big fan of the Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day household cleaning products so I was excited to receive my latest shipment of dish soaps. Acorn Spice is a new favorite and it smells as wonderful as it cleans.


Reviewing Acorn Spice dish soap.

In 2018, I was introduced to the Mrs. Meyer's soaps during a visit to my son's home. I've been a satisfied customer since then. I am always looking for a cleaning solutions that use few (or no) chemicals, smells good, and cleans well. Mrs. Meyer's soaps are made using plant products and essential oils. At that time, my favorite scents were: lemon verbena, sunflower, and then radish.

With this order, I decided to branch out and try new scents. One of those is Acorn Spice. The nutty, outdoorsy, spiced scent seemed familiar. Reminiscent of holiday meals cooking in grandma's warm country kitchen. This soap leaves a wonderful aroma in the kitchen.

Mrs. Meyer's describes the scent as:
"The satisfying, nutty scent of acorn is blended with a touch of cinnamon and vanilla for an irresistible air of comfort and warmth"
In addition to the Acorn Spice, I ordered two other scents (Mint and Orange Clove). I'm stocked up for awhile with some really amazing cleaning products. 

Because I am raving about the wonderful scents, you may be wondering if these soaps are functional. I have found that these soaps cut grease better than the majority of the dish soaps available at the grocery stores. 

If your focus is putting fewer chemicals into the environment, avoiding scent-triggered migraines, enjoying clean scents in your home, or all of the above like me, I believe you'll love Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day Acorn Spice dish soap too.

Related Links:

You are able to purchase Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day products on Amazon, Prime Pantry, and from the Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day website. When I am ready to order, I check all three stores in order to find the scent I want and to find the best price and shipping deals. 

You can read my original review of Mrs. Meyer's soaps here


Reviewing Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day soaps




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Monday, January 6, 2020

Reviewing the Veehoo Elevated Dog Bed

I know someone who recently adopted a dog. I ordered a gift in celebration and welcome.  I sent them the large Veehoo Elevated Dog Bed. They both, human and dog, like it so much I thought I should share a review with you.


Reviewing the Veehoo Elevated Large Dog Bed

Radley, the dog, was adopted from a shelter. During the search for the right dog, the human noticed that all of the shelter dogs had raised beds in their kennels. I decided that Radley needed his own bed in his own home and perhaps an elevated bed would be something familiar or comforting as he gets settled in.

I chose the Veehoo Elevated Dog bed after reading many good reviews. It is made of durable mesh material and powder coated steel frame. The bed requires assembly. But that assembly does not require any tools. Veehoo offers this dog bed in a variety of sizes. Part of the reason I chose this bed was the reported durability as well as the non-skid feet. Radley is a rambunctious puppy and he's a huge 50+ lb puppy. 

Raised beds with mesh are thought to be comfortable to dogs due to keeping them off the floor. The mesh provides ventilation for cooling. Add a doggie blanket to provide warmth. Also, Radley is far too big to be a lap dog. His own bed in the living room provides him with his own spot near his new family.



Radley's human is very pleased with the Veehoo bed. He confirmed that the bed was easy to assemble and is plenty large enough to be comfortable for this big red dog. 




Related Links:

Review This contributors love their pets. For more pet-related reviews click here







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Monday, December 30, 2019

Movie Review - The Aeronauts

The Aeronauts is a beautifully filmed movie that is both entertaining and educational. It gives the audience a glimpse into a pivotal event in the 1860s that impacted meteorology and scientists' ability to begin to understand and predict the weather. 


The Aeronauts an Amazon Original Movie

I use the word glimpse because this is a fictional version inspired by a true event. Some of the movie storyline strays far from the actual event. But overall, this is a beautiful movie depicting explorers who risked their lives to further our understanding of the weather that impacts our earth. 

My son recommended that I watch The Aeronauts via Amazon Prime. I am so glad he did. I enjoyed this movie immensely. I have always been in awe of explorers and inventors - not understanding how humans can be so inventive. I often say, "how in the world did they think of that?".  The Aeronauts kept me glued to the screen and made me realize that I've been completely unaware of an entire group of adventurers who fundamentally began space exploration from baskets lifted above the clouds by balloons.

James Glaisher (Eddie Redmayne) is a scientist, a meteorologist, who is determined to gather data while in the sky. He appears in front of the Royal Society to plead his case of creating a science of the weather. He is convinced that the ability to predict the weather could come from studying the weather while in the sky.  He advocated, and finally received funding and support for an expedition in the skies. Mr. Glaisher, a meticulous and studious young man seems to be the polar opposite of young Ms. Wren.

Amelia Wren (Felicity Jones) is the female aeronaut who reluctantly agrees to pilot Glaisher's trip. She is conflicted, not wanting to be his chauffer on one hand yet having a philosophy of "Look up. The sky lies open... ". Ms. Wren is as entertaining and dramatic as she is strong and athletic all while fighting the sad memories of the loss of her husband two years prior.

The balloon lifts the two explorers to heights that is currently the typical cruising altitude for commercial jets (37,000 feet). The views in the movie are breath-taking. The setting both beautiful and stressful; on the balloon, those in the balloon, and me while I was watching. The temperatures, oxygen issues, and atmospheric impact on the balloon are things that caused me to hold my breath and sit on the edge of my seat. 

I very much enjoyed Felicity Jones' portrayal of Ms. Wren. I don't think I have words that are sufficient to explain why I enjoyed her performance so much.  So I'll just leave it at that. 


The Aeronauts - Facts Versus Fiction


As it turns out, during the late 1700s to mid-1800s, women were passengers then pilots of balloons for entertainment purposes. These people who piloted the balloons were called aeronauts. Skilled as these women were, they were not a part of the scientific world. 

The Aeronauts that inspired this story were scientists James Glaisher and Henry Tracy Coxwell. These two men made significant discoveries related to weather during their record-breaking flights. And began the school of thought that weather can be predicted.

I found it a bit irritating that Coxwell was replaced with a woman. I'm not sure I like this sort of re-writing of historical events. It seems to take credit away from the very important life's work of another human being. 

However, if the director felt the need to put a female in place of one of the male scientists, I am grateful that he did so without a plot that included romance. 

In other parts of the internet, Director Tom Harper is quoted with an explanation that the worlds of science and Hollywood have had clear gender bias against women, and "we need to be active in our pursuit to redress that."  (Time, December 2019). I suppose that is why he replaced Mr. Coxwell with the fictional Ms. Wren. 

Even with my concern about erasing Coxwell from the movie, I highly recommend this movie. I enjoyed the themes of exploration, bravery, defying gravity, and a reminder of those who have been instrumental in society's progress over 100 years ago. Weather forecasts are something we seem to take for granted and it was very interesting to see a portrayal of someone so passionate in their career.




Related Links:

The contributors of Review This! enjoy watching and reviewing movies. Check out all of our movie reviews here.

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For more information about Mr. Glaisher and Mr. Coxwell and their record-breaking flight, click here  (I recommend watching after you see the movie - to avoid small spoilers). You can be sure that I will be learning more about the early aeronauts, male and female, and their brave exploration. 


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Monday, December 16, 2019

Movie Review: Charged - The Eduardo Garcia Story

"Being alive with a few handicaps is much better than being dead ... that's for damn sure" - Eduardo Garcia. 


A story of life and healing.


Charged: The Eduardo Garcia Story is a movie that chronicles a man's recovery after an electrocution accident that should have left him dead in the back country of Montana. Not only did he survive, he thrives. 

As an adult, Eduardo returns to Montana. While on an outing in a glorious wilderness setting, he finds a bear carcass in a old steel tube. Curious, and with no warning that the old tube was an electrical station, he touched the bear and was electrocuted with 2,400 volts. When he regained consciousness, he somehow walked back down the trail and found help. He was life-flighted from Montana to Salt Lake City Burn Trauma ICU. 

It is mysterious to me that life is both fragile and strong beyond understanding. An accident can kill us in the blink of an eye. Or we can continue living through that which should have killed us. With no explanation to the how and why we survived. This is the case for Eduardo. It is beyond our ability to understand how he survived. 

The electrical shock blew off part of his side, head, and hand/fingers. It left him without a large portion of muscle. The film shows his treatment and wounds - including scenes that are not for the squeamish. I am not squeamish and I had to look away from the screen several times. The burnt skin and holes in his body looked like movie special effects but the damage filmed was real.

This documentary is not about a perfect hero. No. Eduardo has his flaws and difficulties in relationships. His ex/best friend/business partner, Jennifer, remains at his side during his recovery. Eduardo recognizes that caregivers are the forgotten victims of such trauma. He family members, including his previously absent father, are shown throughout the process of physical and emotional healing. 

Eduardo, a chef prior to the accident, resumes cooking when he returns home. He jokes that at least with the prosthetic arm he no longer has to worry about cutting his fingers while chopping. He resumes outdoor activities; running, hiking, surfing, and hunting. 

We all have pain and trauma - our individual crosses to bear. What makes us different is how we choose to live our lives while facing difficulties. Frankly, I'm not so good at it. I see others who seem to be optimistically facing much more hardship than I am, yet I continue to struggle to get out of bed many days. But I'm working at finding ways to stay upbeat and productive. Eduardo inspires me to keep working at it and to appreciate every single day. We are not promised tomorrow.

Eduardo Garcia reflects about his need to take a full appraisal of himself. His strength and tenacity is displayed from the moment he walks out of the wilderness to find help to the end of the movie while he's continuing to address relationships and living. But his realization of the need to take a good look at all aspects of himself I think is what requires the most bravery. No one wants to take an honest look at our own character flaws.

I saw this movie for free with my Amazon Prime account. It is also available on Blu-ray. If you are looking for a motivational movie to help you keep on, keeping on... this might be it. 

Related Link:

MontanaMex.com is Chef Garcia's website with original spice blends and sauces for sale. He also lists many recipes






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Monday, December 2, 2019

Reviewing the Kuppet Mini Clothes Washer

A friend recently gifted me a Kuppet Portable Clothes Washer. This tiny machine is amazing and I am so thankful to have it! If you wash clothes by hand, prefer to wash your clothes at home, live in a small space, want to conserve water, or just try to avoid public laundries at all costs this may be perfect for you too.

The Kuppet portable washing machine


The Kuppet Portable Clothes Washer is everything it advertises and more. It is portable. I place mine in my bathtub for easy use. At only 22 lbs. it is easy to lift in and out of the tub. I am also considering purchasing a small kitchen cart on wheels and use it at the kitchen sink. Either way, I will need to purchase a hose adapter to fill the washer from a faucet, but that's okay. That will be easy enough to do (it comes with a fill hose, but without the faucet adapter I need).

Currently, I place the washer in my tub. I fill it with only the amount of water needed using a small bucket. Thanks to the transparent front of the machine, I can see exactly how much water that is. 

The control panel is on top of the machine. A timer for the wash, a dial to choose drain, and a timer for the spinner. 

I fill the washer side with warm water, soap, and my clothes and set the time.  The agitator moves the clothes well.  It spins in one direction, pauses, and spins in the other direction. I am amazed at how energetically the wash moves.




A small load of 7 shirts and less than
3 gallons of water (compared to the
15 - 30 gallons used in most high-
efficiency washing machines).


After washing, I set the dial to drain. After the water has drained, I refill the wash side with clean water and allow it to rinse. When that cycle has finished, I drain the machine and move the clothes to the spin side.

THE SPIN CYCLE IS AMAZING.  Yes.  I'm yelling. If you've hand washed, you know that it is hard to get the majority of water wrung out of the clothes.  This spinner spins so well that the clothes do not drip at all when you hang them. They are only damp. Some of my thinnest t-shirts are all but dry. They dry after only an hour hanging on the balcony. However, please don't be mistaken as one you-tube reviewer was: this is a spinner - not a dryer. 

At less than $100 this machine will pay for itself in no time (versus $3 loads at a public laundry plus gas, time, and effort). Oh how I wish I had this washer when the kids were young and wore small clothes but had to be changed multiple times through the day! I was lugging their clothes to the laundromat back then. This would have been a wonderful thing to have in that situation.

Finally, I could see that this machine would also be very useful in homes that have a full-sized washer and dryer. At some point, we all have wanted to wash just a couple of items and hopefully we all cringe at the idea of wasting water by running an extremely small load through a full-sized washer. This Kuppet mini clothes washer would be an awesome addition to any residential laundry room for convenience and water savings. 

Note: The cord is relatively short. From the bathtub, it reaches only to the floor just outside of the tub. You will need a 3-prong extension cord if you use you machine in the bathtub. 





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Monday, November 18, 2019

4 Ingredient Baby Lima Bean Soup

The best thing about cooler weather is making easy soups that basically cook themselves in a slow cooker. Today I am reviewing a new favorite; a super easy, four ingredient comfort soup.



A friend kept talking to me about one of his favorite comfort foods, lima bean and bacon soup. He told me how to make it. Initially, I didn't think it sounded at all tasty. But I tried it because, honestly, I'm lazy in the kitchen. And I don't have much time to cook. With my schedule the options are either easy recipes or fast food. 

I looked up Baby Lima Bean and Bacon recipes on the internet to make sure I hadn't misunderstood my friend. I hadn't. I made the soup and liked it so much that it is becoming a favorite.


4 Ingredient Baby Lima Bean and Bacon recipe



Ingredients:

  • 1 lb of your favorite bacon (I've used both turkey bacon and pork)
  • 1 medium sized onion
  • 2 (16 oz) bags of frozen baby lima beans
  • 1 (32 oz.) carton of chicken broth 


Cooking directions:

  1. Brown the bacon
  2. Saute the onions (until they are translucent)
  3. Place the bacon, onions, and frozen lima beans in a large slow cooker
  4. cover with chicken stock
  5. cook on high for 2 1/2 - 3 hours (or until the beans are tender)

Personal Preferences:

I use unsalted chicken broth to reduce sodium and add pepper to taste when I serve it. You can cook your beans at a slower setting and/or for a shorter period of time for al dente beans. As I mentioned previously, this works with a variety of bacon (including turkey bacon to avoid the pork) or the bacon can be substituted with smoked meats such as ham hocks or smoked turkey meats.

If I'm not feeling too lazy, I make cornbread to go with the meal. Otherwise, toast with butter is a wonderful and easy side.

Baby Lima Beans are Nutritious:

Apparently lima beans are not only delicious but are good for us. They contain dietary fiber, copper, folate, potassium, iron, magnesium, vitamin B1 and B6 among other nutrients.  




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Monday, November 4, 2019

How to Have Warm Feet at Night

I hate cold feet when I go to bed almost as much as I hate sending a large amount of money to the local utilities company. This creates a dilemma in cold climates. I will review my cost saving solution to going to to bed with warm feet. 


Reviewing how to have warm feet in bed.

The nights have turned cold and I dread turning on the furnace. I don't mind living in a cooler environment but I can't stand crawling into a cold bed. It takes forever for my feet to warm up on cold sheets. The solution is an electric blanket. If you have cold feet in bed, or have a partner that puts their cold feet on your warm feet in bed, this may be a helpful solution for you too.

In my drafty old apartment, it is far less expensive to use an electric blanket than it is to try to heat the entire apartment.  So every evening as I'm preparing for bed, I click on the electric blanket and turn the thermostat way down. By the time I crawl into bed, there is a warm, toasty spot for my feet.

I've tried electric blankets before but I got too hot when I was completely covered with a heating blanket. Perhaps you would prefer that kind of all-over warmth. If so, buy an electric blanket to match your bed size.

I tend to just have a problem with really cold feet at night. The rest of my body remains at a comfortable temperature at night. A throw-sized electric blanket just at my feet worked better for me than a full-sized blanket.

But since I'm a restless sleeper, the problem became a waded up blanket tangled around my feet.

When I began placing the throw-sized, sherpa-lined blanket under the fitted bed sheet, at my feet, all of my problems were solved. The electric throw remained exactly where I placed it. The cord with the control is long enough to reach the outlet and be easily accessed. My feet stayed toasty warm but not too hot (I'm starting to feel like I'm Goldilocks, looking for the bed temperature that's not too cold, not too hot, but just right!)
plush faux fur throw

And best of all, I pay a much lower bill to the utilities company when I'm not trying to heat my drafty apartment and half of the great outdoors. It is a small way to help my finances and to decrease my impact on the environment. And every little bit helps in both of those areas.

Winter is coming in the US. If you don't like to be cold but don't want to give your entire paycheck to the utilities company, consider using an electric blanket and turning that thermostat down.





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Monday, October 21, 2019

Reviewing Alaska Photoventures: Season 1

In Alaska Photoventures, Dan Redfield explores Alaska through photography. This is an unscripted photography series in which each episode takes place on a different location in breathtakingly beautiful Alaska via a different mode of transportation (i.e. kayaking, hiking, biking, etc). This series hits both my curiosity about Alaska and my enjoyment of beautiful photography.


Reviewing Alaska Photoventures

I initially clicked on Alaska Photoventures with the thought that it would be a tutorial on photography in Alaska. While there are some general tips, it truly was focused on Dan's adventuring in Alaska and displaying those interesting places via his drone videos and photography. 

The episodes of season one include:
  1. Knik Glacier ATV Adventure
  2. Jet Ski to Blackstone Glacier
  3. Downhill Mountain Biking in Hatcher Pass
  4. Exploring a WW2 Fort in Seward
  5. Fly Fishing on the Kenai River
  6. Super Cub to a Floating Ice Cave
  7. Nighttime Kayaking
  8. Snow Machine Jumping w/Arctic Cat Athletes

I enjoyed all of the episodes, especially the kayaking episodes but I think Downhill Mountain Biking in Hatcher Pass is my favorite. Perhaps because it also includes some photos of nearby Independence Mine. Perhaps because Hatcher Pass is amazingly beautiful. Perhaps because guest Matt Sanders has such a great attitude and big personality.  Probably a combination of all of the above.

When shooting the riders on the biking trail, Dan noted that the sky was very bright but the light was not getting to the trail in the pass. He described it as "super hot blown out sky and then a really dark foreground".  Dan notes that he had to adjust for this so that he could get both some details of the riders and in the sky. He shows a photo of the examples of the different settings. However, he does not give an actual ISO setting or any other numbers (sorry, I'm only a very amateur photographer so my vocabulary here is lacking). Some people who are looking at this series as a tutorial may be disappointed by the lack of the actual settings. 

There is a chance that I like this series more than other people might because Dan Redfield and friends put me in mind of my sons. Also, visiting Alaska is on my bucket list. But honestly, I think that a variety of people will enjoy this series; viewers who have been to Alaska and want to reminisce, viewers who have always wanted to visit this beautiful state but have not yet been able to, and photographers at many levels of ability. 

Related Links:

Amazon Prime. I watch this series on Amazon Prime. I LOVE Amazon Prime for many reasons. But one of those reasons is because I refuse to pay a cable bill. I want to invest my finances elsewhere. With my Roku television and with Amazon Prime, Youtube, and Sling, I have more things than I can watch on any given day. 




Dan Redfield's Official Page. Learn more about Dan Redfield here

The photographers of Review This! I am realizing how much the Review This Reviews writers are photo-adventurers. Mary Beth in particular takes us on her lighthouse photo-adventures and shares photography tips. 


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Monday, October 7, 2019

Book Review: The Naturalist's Notebook by Nathaniel T. Wheelwright and Bernd Heinrich

The Naturalist's Notebook: An Observation Guide and 5-Year Calendar-Journal for Tracking Changes in the Natural World Around You is a beautiful, hardcover book that is an excellent purchase for any person who loves the great outdoors. Whether the reader's interest is plants, climate, gardening, birds or other outdoor pursuits, this is a perfect place to jot a daily note about the experience.


Appreciating and documenting the natural world.

The Naturalist's Notebook: An Observation Guide and 5-Year Calendar-Journal for Tracking Changes in the Natural World Around You by Nathaniel T. Wheelwright and Bernd Heinrich is part how-to write field notes, part inspirational, and part 5-year calendar. This book is a way to document and appreciate your natural surroundings.


"In the words of writer Richard Mabey, natural history is "a meeting place for wild life and human feeling" - Nathaniel T. Wheelwright 

The illustrations are wonderful. If you click the Amazon link, you'll be able to view some of the artwork using the "Look Inside" feature. I love these type of illustrations.




The pages are thick paper rather than thin paper or glossy paper. This paper stock is good for keeping the journal entries from bleeding through the pages as well as compliments the rustic illustrations. 

The written portion of the book is clearly written by people who love our natural world. Their passion translates from the page to the reader - motivating the reader to immediately begin being more aware outdoors.

The written chapters are:
  • Chapter One - Being Attentive
  • Chapter Two - How to Become an Observant Naturalist I
  • Chapter Three - How to Become an Observant Naturalist II
  • Chapter Four - A Naturalist's Toolbox
  • Chapter Five - Simple Experiments as a Way of Learning
  • Chapter Six - Knowing Nature Where You Are
  • Epilogue - Bird by Bird


Followed by a 5-Year Calendar-Journal. The calendar grid is numbered in such a way that you can begin on any date and any year, by adding the year in the blank spot on the left side of the pages and writing under the number that corresponds with the date. 
  • The Naturalist's Notebook ends with:
  • Personal Glossary for Abbreviations and Symbols
  • Useful Books
  • Metric Conversion
  • Timelines for Species and Events You Follow
  • Acknowledgements
  • About the Authors


I am really happy to have this notebook that both validates my love of the natural world that surrounds me as well as helps me to think about my observation skills. This book also helps me to appreciate the efforts of those who came before me. This is not an in-depth study of people such as Lewis and Clark, Henry David Thoreau, and others. But it does remind us of what a great impact their documentation of the natural world had on us. Or a biology text book. 

This book is a timely and important reminder that the natural world is important and lessons come from our own personal awareness and appreciation of the changes and seasons around us. 

Related Link:

I already sometimes document the natural world around me when I'm camping in the mountains. It is easy to notice the wildlife, weather, and plants while I'm at The Shack. I sometimes document through photography but I want to become better at documenting things more specifically. For example: exactly where and when I saw this beautiful newt. I'd like to increase my chances of finding one in the future. As the terrain there changes, I hope newts continue to live there. 

found during my hike in April




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Monday, September 30, 2019

Book Review: Chasing a Flawed Sun by Daniel McGhee

I thought I knew about addiction - how addicts think and behave. I thought I knew a good bit about how heroin is sold and bought in the streets of Baltimore. After reading Chasing a Flawed Sun, I realize I didn't even know what amounts to a single drop of water in a Chesapeake Bay-sized bucket.


Reviewing a must-read book - Chasing A Flawed Sun.


Daniel McGhee put his story on paper for all to read. And I was hooked as soon as I started the Before You Read This Book section:


"I had chosen not to jeopardize the integrity of the stories by watering down the language or vividness of the events that occurred. While reading, keep in mind that there is a happy ending, eventually." - Daniel McGhee

Daniel tells us that he was a small, shy child being raised in the suburbs by good parents. As an adolescent he smoked, painted graffiti, and was attracted to the negative pieces of pop culture. He was fighting, stealing, and by the time he was 15 he was drinking nightly. Daniel goes on to describe troubles that are every parent's nightmares: multiple school suspensions, police involvement, and getting that call to pick up your child from the station after he was involved in a shooting.

The story goes on to describe his transition from crimes and alcohol use to crimes and heroin use. I was completely caught up in this story. I recognized the small towns (Bel Air and Edgewood) where Daniel lived and the areas of the city Daniel went to buy heroin (Poplar Grove, Edmondson, Cherry Hill, Orleans Street). I was astounded at how many people - some of them functioning and holding down jobs - are in the middle of heroin addiction. All around us there are people whose sole focus is how to get their next high. And how after awhile, it's no longer a high. It is only battling off the sickness and getting well again.

The largest portion of the book describes the relentless pursuit of the drug and the things addicts will go through in order to get well. It is eye-opening and not easy to read. It describes Baltimore City and some of the common, everyday sights and sounds of an urban setting.

At the end of the book, Daniel describes how he's doing now. I think this is a must-read for anyone who is using, who loves an addict, or who works with addicts. I think it is also a must-read for anyone who works with troubled teens and pre-teens.





What I thought I Knew about Baltimore and Drugs


When I moved to the Baltimore area, my first job was at an adolescent group home. I worked with males from ages 13 to 18. All of them had stories about drugs. Most began to use around age 11 (smoking weed with relatives or friends) and then beginning to sell for the dealers in their neighborhoods by age 13 or so in order to earn money. They taught me about some of the "ethics" of being a dealer. For example, I once asked two of them, whose mothers had died from overdoses, why they would sell to people who may die. Especially after their mothers had died. One young man was offended that I'd ask if he would sell to his mother. He patiently explained to me that he'd never sell to his own mother. That's just wrong and offensive to sell to your own mother. But he'd sell to his friend's mother (gesturing toward the other young man). And vice versa. After all, they explained, it's about the money. It's just business. But you do not sell to your mom.

With that job, I did home visits and family therapy in all parts of the city including Poplar Grove, North Ave, Walbrook Junction and some areas "over east" that I can't recall the names of at this moment. All areas that some of my co-workers (originally from Baltimore) stated they'd never go and that I was crazy to go there.

I went. Doing my job. The white lady in certain sections of Baltimore. I never understood why groups of people yelled things like "Sheryls" and "new ones" at me. Back then, I thought they were mistakenly identifying me as the police and alerting people to my presence. Thanks to Mr. McGhee, I now know why they were yelling those things at a white woman in their neighborhood. 

Later in my career, I was visiting with a young man as he pan-handled on the corner. He was a young combat injured veteran. He was neat, clean, well-spoken and homeless. Homeless due to complications with his combat injury. I was trying to connect him with services for veterans. I had no clue that he was a heroin addict. Then he disclosed that bit of information to me. He was discharged from the army after his injury with an OTH (other than honorable) discharge due to beginning to use street drugs after his prescribed pain medications were no longer enough. He eventually became addicted to heroin and panhandled daily in order to get enough money to buy his daily fix. This young man taught me about the focus on "getting well", how even gift cards can be pawned, and that clean needles are sold by diabetics who can buy needles without judgement by pharmacy employees. 

But even with this education, I had no real clue about how many addicts are around us. That there are addicts working at jobs and going about their daily lives until the addiction gets too demanding. And that there are many addicts on the beltway with me each day, driving into the city to chase their sun. 


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Monday, September 16, 2019

Book Review: Hello, Crochet Friends! by Jonah Larson

This little book packs a powerful punch! Hello, Crochet Friends: Making Art, Being Mindful, Giving Back: Do What Makes You Happy written by young Jonah Larson and his mother Jennifer Larson is the most uplifting and motivational book I've read in years.

Hello, Crochet Friends! written by Jonah Larson


Hello Crochet Friends!: Making Art, Being Mindful, Giving Back: Do What Makes You Happy is one part autobiography, one part inspirational, and one part crafts. It includes topics of international adoption, school behavioral problems, and the importance of finding one's passion. 

Jonah Larson is an 11 year old crocheting phenom. I came to know about him from looking for crochet patterns and tutorials on the internet. This young man has a gift with crochet. His talent is nearly unbelievable. Watching his little hands fly as he works on his current projects is mesmerizing to me.  And all the more impressive when I learned a bit more about him.

Jonah was adopted by the Larsons when he was a baby. He began crocheting at age 5 by accident - when a single crochet hook was found in a bag of items. It became clear very quickly that crochet was his thing.

I work with children in a school that is focused on addressing their behavioral and learning difficulties. I run a small crochet club, teaching them just the basics (sharing my limited skills), because I know that crochet is a wonderful coping skill for some children. I ordered Jonah's book so that our students could read about a child who loves crochet. 

I was moved to tears when I received the book and read how Jonah also struggled with significant disruptive behaviors in school and how crochet helped him. And not only has crochet helped him manage his behaviors in school, he is using his art to give back to those in need in the country he was born. An astounding story and life lesson for all of us.

What this book is:

  • an age-appropriate picture book about an 11 year old who was adopted from an Ethiopian orphanage
  • a book that is written in a gentle, uplifting, honest and encouraging voice
  • an inspirational book - encouraging everyone to find their passion and do it
  • a helpful book for teachers and school staff - showing the positive results of thinking outside the box and helping students identify what calms and encourages them
  • an encouraging book for children who struggle with behaviors - helping them to feel as though they are not alone and that something can change
What this book is not:
  • this is not a book of crochet patterns
  • this is not a crochet tutorial
I'd like to express my gratitude to Jonah and his mother for writing this book and sharing this story. It has touched me and has been well-received by the students in my little crochet club. You are inspiring to so many others.


From the Amazon listing: "Hello, Crochet Friends! is the first title in the KWiL Publishing's Rock Star Kids series of books about young people doing incredible things in the world". Personally, I am looking forward to future books in the series!

Related Links:

While I am not as talented as young Jonah, I do love crochet. I am able to do beginning and easy intermediate patterns. I have written about a few of the easier patterns. If you are thinking about beginning crochet, look for one of the many online tutorials, find someone that matches your style, and just begin.

My review of Dabbles & Babbles Done in a Day pattern. This pattern is pretty, more interesting than just straight crocheted rows, and is versatile. I've made several different sized blankets with several different types of  yarns with this pattern. I have also used this pattern to create a long, rectangular piece that was used as a type of shawl for an elderly gentleman. 

Although loom knitting is not the same as crochet, it is an easy way to make interesting and beautiful hats. If you can't quite enjoy crochet, you could create your own treasures with loom knitting. The flower applique is crocheted and from the only flower pattern I've ever been able to complete successfully. This pattern is Flowers by The Dozen by Yarnspirations and I review it here






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