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

Monday, November 12, 2018

Biscuit Egg Pie Recipes

Egg and green bean biscuit pie on the grill.
Somewhere on one of my social media groups I saw a photo of someone's beautiful biscuit-egg casserole. It looked delicious. And easy. Well, the crust didn't necessarily look easy. I think I saw the photo on one of my homesteading groups; with the biscuit/crust made from scratch. It didn't take me but a minute to think of a shortcut; using Pillsbury refrigerator rolls for the crust.  However, it seems I'm behind the times, as usual. There are many versions of these "egg pie" recipes and I'm going to list a few here.

My Egg Pies


I have made these in a variety of flavors. And both at the apartment in the oven and at The Shack on the grill.  I especially like egg pies at The Shack.  I have a hard time making fried or scrambled eggs on the grill. Egg pies are a super easy way to make breakfast on the grill.

My two favorite recipes are: green bean/egg/sriracha and egg/refried bean/salsa. No matter which ingredients I choose, I melt Kerrygold Butter on the top. 

I have used pie pans, casserole pans, and my favorite small dutch ovens. I have found that the deeper dishes cause trouble with getting the eggs cooked completely. Now, I'm sticking with the shallow Pyrex pie plates.

A slice of my egg pie - salsa and refried bean version

I have used both Pillsbury Grands and Pillsbury Crescent Rolls.  I thought I'd prefer the crescent rolls, but I have come to prefer the Grands or the Flaky rolls. I pop the can open and use each roll after peeling it in half. The rolls are easy to press into the bottom of the pie pan - creating the crust. Sometimes I used any extra roll pieces on top. Sometimes I bake the extra rolls separately. 

Typically, I do not use recipes. In preparation for this post, I looked for recipes. It seems that people have been making "egg pies" with these biscuits for a long period of time. For real recipes, check out the links below.

Pillsbury Cheesy Southwest Egg Bake - combining the flavors of sausage, eggs, peppers, Mexican cheese, and biscuits. Yum!

Cheesy Southwest Egg Bake

Pillsbury Sausage and Egg Biscuits - small, individual sausage, egg, and biscuit pies. Such a great idea! Such a fast and easy, hot breakfast.

Sausage and Egg Biscuits

Pillsbury Sweet and Savory Mini Hand Pies - apples and sausage baked in biscuits. Individual breakfast pies that would be great on-the-go.

Apple and Sausage mini pies




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


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Monday, November 5, 2018

Reviewing the Teamoy Tunisian Crochet Hook Case

The Teamoy Tunisian Crochet Hook Case
Organization is not my strong suit. So I'm really happy when I find something that helps me to be more organized. I have found the Teamoy Tunisian Crochet Hook Case and I'm thrilled about how roomy, well-made, and helpful this little case is. Not only does it hold my brand new Tunisian Crochet Hooks, there is plenty of room for my other crochet hooks and other small supplies. 


Teamoy Tunisian Crochet Hook Case


This case is tall and thin; made to hold Tunisian crochet hooks (crochet hooks that are very similar in length and size to a single knitting needle). 

This little soft-sided case has two main zippered sections, Within each of those sections there is a variety of pockets and elastic bands that can organize longer crochet hooks (or knitting needles), traditional crochet hooks, as well as smaller supplies such as my locking stitch markers.

Not only are the crochet hooks held in by elasticized straps, the ends tuck in under flaps. This awesome design is going to prevent my clumsy self from accidentally dumping the contents out onto the floor each time I open the case. At this point, I can't imagine anything falling out accidentally. The zippers seem like quality zippers; not those cheapo zippers that are on many items.

This case is made from a "high quality and durable material, water-resistant and easy to clean up". There are also several colors/prints to choose from. I chose the cute cat print. 

The BEST feature about this case was the small price tag. It cost only $16.99 ! 

The only small complaint I have about this case, and it may be a complaint specifically to me, is the smell of the case when it arrived. It was wrapped in a sealed plastic bag. The smell of the "durable material" was strong when I opened that sealed packaging. It had an oily, "plastic" smell that bothered me (I am very sensitive to some chemical smells). I wiped off the case with a damp, slightly soapy cloth and then let the case air out before I spent time checking out all of the little pockets. There is no lingering odor.

If you crochet (or knit) and are in need of some organization, Teamoy may have a case for you.



If you'd like to see my first Tunisian crochet project (with gorgeous DK Colors yarn) check out my post here

my first Tunisian Crochet on Treasures, Travel, and Tales 




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Monday, October 29, 2018

Jesus Always by Sarah Young Book Review

Jesus Always: Embracing Joy in His Presence
I seem to be able to manage stress and chaos less well as each year goes by. And I am very aware that when I meditate or pray I am able to feel more peaceful. Thing is, I'm not so good at the praying part. I have been looking for ways to slow down and find joy and peace. 

Recently, I was wandering around a Christian book store, looking for something I might like to read. This was probably the third time in my adult life that I've ever entered a Christian book store. I picked up Jesus Always and flipped through a few of the short devotionals. It was written in a way that was easy to read and it spoke to me, so I bought it. And thus far, I'm reading it daily and enjoying it. 

Jesus Always: Embracing Joy in His Presence


Susan Young is the author of the Jesus Calling series. She writes to help people connect with Jesus and the Bible. She and her husband were missionaries. They currently live in the U.S and she has written this series of devotionals.

Jesus Always consists of an entry for each day of the year. This devotional is meant to "bring joy for each day" and  "strengthen your relationship with Jesus" (from the author's website)

The hardcover version I purchased has easier-to-read print than many devotionals offered and is a well-made book. The book lays open, not quite flat, and includes an attached ribbon book mark. The book feels as though the paper and the cover will last for many years.

Why I Choose This Devotional


There are MANY Christian books for sale. Shelves full of devotionals, Bibles, testimonials, and more. So why am I recommending this particular book?

It is easy to read. Bible studies and reading the Bible alone feels too far over my head. Despite all of those years in Vacation Bible School as a child, I just "don't get it" when I read most of these types of books. I can't focus and it feels too much like work.

Susan Young has written Jesus Always as though Jesus were the writer. The daily entries are short - only a page in length. The writing is in a conversational and friendly tone which makes it very easy to read. 

Corresponding verses are listed. Each devotional is followed by several verses from the Bible that correspond with the entry. My skeptical side doesn't have to wonder how much of the writing is personal opinion - the verses repeat what was written in the entry. I like that. And there are not so many verses that it feels like homework.

My Birthday Entry. I sampled many of the devotionals on the shelves of that bookstore that day. Flipping through them, flipping specifically to my birthday, and considering each book. Some had print that was too small to read. Some had writing that was too much like a Bible study. Some used very formal language. Then, when I flipped open Jesus Always to the September 5th entry, I found this:


"Joy is a choice. You may not have much control over your circumstances, but you can still choose to be joyful."

That is exactly what I am looking for. A way to let go of my anxiety and grouchiness, and find joy. The photo below shows the remainder of the entry that spoke to me (and there are more samples on Amazon in the "look inside" feature).




Related Links and Other Books of Faith:

Our Bev Owens wrote a review of Mary's Message to the World. Bev writes, ".. if you are open to spiritual growth and want to grow in your faith; I recommend that you read this book." The book she reviews documents Annie Kirkwood's reported visits from Mother Mary.

Cynthia reviews the Bibles that make the best gifts. In her article she recommends different versions; from a family Bible, to a pocket version, to a study Bible, and more.

Olivia recommends watching The Young Messiah movie. In her review, she explains why she recommends this movie, especially during the upcoming holiday season, despite it being a work of fiction. 

Finally, in my search for peace, joy, and finding balance I am combining learning to pray with mediation from a variety of approaches. I have found meditation beads and chants (Christian and OM mantras) to be helpful. You can read my post about those things here. When I meditate, I am significantly more relaxed. And now I have added the Jesus Always daily devotions.




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


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Monday, October 22, 2018

What Have You Done Book Review

Book Review: What Have You Done by Matthew Farrell
What happens when you are a forensics specialist and you realize that you are the prime suspect in a brutal murder of the woman you were dating? And how would your brother, a homicide detective, be able to help you? Or maybe he would be of no help to you. What Have You Done by Matthew Farrell is a psychological thriller full of twists and turns. It kept me awake at night, reading. And that says a lot about any book.

What Have You Done

Liam Dwyer is a forensics specialist in Philadelphia. The impact of his own childhood trauma follows him into adulthood - unwilling to take a bath so great is his fear of water. Unwilling isn't the correct description. He's terrified of the bathtub. For good reason. Liam is married to Vanessa and that marriage had been on shaky ground. But they've gone to therapy and are trying to repair their relationship.

Liam had been cheating on Vanessa but broke it off recently in an attempt to save the marriage. Then his girlfriend suddenly pops back into his life - as a murder victim at a brutal crime scene. Liam is the prime suspect not just because he dated the victim, but because of the evidence. His fingerprints are at the scene. And Liam has no memory of where he was or what he was doing during the murder. But he remembers the paper flowers his mother made when he was young. Why are they showing up now?

Sean is Liam's older brother. Sean has always taken care of his baby brother. And Liam turns to him now for help. Sean is a homicide detective so he has contacts within the department to help investigate Liam and the murder; before the assigned detectives figure out the connection between his baby brother and the murder victim.  Don is one of those connections.

Don is Sean's partner. He is juggling his job and looking after his ailing, aging mother. Don has mentored and looked after the Dwyer boys over the years. He's a good guy, but when Sean asks him to bypass procedures to buy Liam some time, he does. 

I chose this book from Amazon Primes' First Reads. I like getting free books. 

I do not normally gravitate toward police procedural and crime novels but I do like psychological thrillers. In this story, I liked the twists and turns. Near the beginning of the book, I thought I knew the "who did it". But the twists and turns threw me off. In the end, I wasn't fully surprised as my initial guesses were on track but even so I liked the journey of finding out the truth.

This was a quick read and interesting plot. It wasn't the most expert writing, but it kept my attention. I found myself wanting to know what would happen next and how the murder would be solved. I wanted the cover-ups exposed. And they were.

I believe What Have You Done is Matthew Farrell's debut novel. I look forward to his next book I Know Everything, due to be released in August 2019. 







Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


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Monday, October 1, 2018

Reviewing Vistaprint for Business Cards

Business cards from Vistaprint
I am in the process of starting a small business. An Etsy store to offer my crocheted items to an audience beyond my circle of friends. In this beginning stage of the process, I quickly decided that I wanted a "business card" to include with my sold items. I chose Vistaprint and am thrilled with the service and product they provided. So thrilled that I'm writing this review to share the information with you.


Vistaprint - The "Everything to Market Your Business" Site


I see the Vistaprint commercials frequently. This constant advertising is why I checked out their site first. Sheer laziness on my part. I ordered with some skepticism - as some businesses that advertise the most are not the best. But I am glad I ordered my cards from Vistaprint. Before I start rambling, the mini-review is:

  • Super easy-to-navigate website
  • Many business card styles to choose from
  • Choices ranging from completely designed by you (including your own photo) or use one of the existing designs
  • Preview function that shows you exactly what you have created
  • Fast service (ordered on 8/22 and received on 8/29) even with standard shipping


My Business Cards


I knew I wanted a somewhat "rustic" design. The purpose of the card would be a thank you and continued advertising with my store URL. I needed a thicker paperstock as I would be punching a hole in many of the cards and attaching them to my handmade item with a ribbon.

I was able to choose rounded corners (to avoid snags in my yarn), "standard glossy" front of card (to add to the durability of the card), and print on the back of the card (for a more personal message). Not feeling creative enough to design my own card, I quickly found one of their templates. The overall front design of the template was not adjustable, but I could add customize with my store name.  I could also choose a couple of color variations.  Scroll to the very bottom of this article to see a very small sample of some of the designs. 

The back of the card allows for print. So I added the personalized printed message I wanted. The back of my card is not glossy paper.


I had expected to receive flimsy, poor-quality business cards (like the ones we have at work). Instead, I received cards that I am thrilled with. I paid $25.58 for 100 cards and shipping. 

I will continue my orders with Vistaprint, adding fabric care cards to my packaging. I have also begun to consider purchasing postcards for advertising after seeing all of the fantastic design possibilities.

If you are in need of business cards and other paper products for your business, I highly recommend Vistaprint

finished and ready for delivery - with card attached


Related Links:

Our own Tracey (The Savvy Age) recently reviewed a free online logo maker called DesignEvo. If you feel more confident in your creative abilities than I do mine, DesignEvo Free Logo Maker may be a great site to use. I LOVE the logo she created in "2.5 minutes". 

My Etsy Store. My goal is to retire at The Shack; tending my garden, chickens, and land. That retirement dream includes sitting in a rocking chair on the deck and crocheting. If that crochet adds a very small bit of retirement income (aka more money for yarn) all the better. 


an extremely small sample of some of the existing business card designs on Vistaprint




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Monday, September 24, 2018

Reviewing Mrs. Meyer's Soap

Reviewing Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day products.
My son and daughter-in-law use Mrs. Meyer's soaps and cleaning products. It has been during visits to their home that I've used Mrs. Meyer's products. I like the soaps and have ordered my own. Mrs. Meyer's is a line of cleaning products and hand soaps that are made with essential oils rather than harsh chemicals. I like products with essential oils - and try to avoid chemicals if I can.


Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day


Mrs. Meyer is a real person, not just a brand name/gimmick. Her site lists her as an Iowa homemaker and mother of NINE. The story goes that her daughter was shopping household cleaners and wanted something that "cleaned like the dickens" and smelled good. Oh boy, I can relate to that. I want clean, but why does the chemical stench have to come along with the clean?  Good news, it doesn't.
"Lets make cleaners that smell nice, like my mom's garden, but still work like the dickens on daily dirt and grime." - from Mrs. Meyers - Our Story
While visiting, I used Mrs. Meyers hand soap (sunflower) and the Lemon Verbena dish soap. I liked both very much and have since ordered my own. The dish soap worked well with degreasing. And the hand soap did not dry my hands. And like many essential oil products, the scent is "nature" and does not trigger my migraines.
radish

My daughter-in-law has since added "radish" to her collection and lists that as her favorite. Because she has such good taste in cleaning products, I've ordered radish dish soap for myself. 

I prefer natural products for not only my health, but also for the environment. When camping, my used water is thrown out onto the ground. While I am slowly making the transition to more chemical-free products in my apartment, I use natural products almost exclusively when camping. I am thrilled to add Mrs. Meyer's soaps to my supplies.

Important note: You can order your Mrs. Meyer's soaps directly from their website or from Amazon. I ordered from both sites. I do want to recommend that you check out the prices on both sites, as I saved several dollars ordering from Amazon.  I saved $3 with the coupon and $6 on shipping with Amazon Prime. 


Related Links:

My preference for soaps made of essential oils began long ago with my love of Dr. Bronner's Castile peppermint soap. For my review of that soap (I most often use it for bathing, camping chores, and migraine relief) click here

Our Louanne is our Arbonne essential oils expert. Maybe you are farther along in the essential oils and aromatherapy journey than I am and need a regular supply of essential oils. If that is the case, check out Louanne's Essential Oil Holiday Set article or scroll down through her list of articles to find information about specific oils or a variety of uses for the oils. 





Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


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Monday, September 17, 2018

Reviewing Forgotten Ellis Island

Forgotten Ellis Island.
I recently reviewed an interesting book that was set on Ellis Island in 1911. While reading that book I realized how little I knew about the early days of Ellis Island. Immediately after finishing the book, I looked for more factual information about immigration via Ellis Island in the early days.  I found Forgotten Ellis Island based on multiple recommendations. And I'm here to recommend this documentary to you.

In the novel, A Fall of Marigolds, I learned about Nurse Clara and what her job entailed on Ellis Island. That brief visit piqued my interest. I wanted to know more about the doctors, nurses, and healthcare provided in those early days. In the days before antibiotics. While some immigrants arrived with diphtheria, cholera, trachoma, and other severe physical ailments.

Forgotten Ellis Island is a PBS documentary that shows us the inside of the abandoned medical buildings of Ellis Island. Did you know there are 3 islands that are a part of Ellis Island? I had not known that prior to reading this book and watching this documentary. In the documentary, we learn about the medical center being used as the first defense, and attempt, to stopping contagious diseases from spreading through the country. We hear about the treatments used - before medical knowledge grew and provided better treatments for diseases. Specifically for trachoma. 

I enjoyed seeing the photos of the nurses, touring the inside of the buildings, and seeing the fashions during that time period. If you are interested in this time period, in "the great wave" of immigration, or in early medical care, A Fall of Marigolds and Forgotten Ellis Island is a wonderful combination that brings this time period alive. 

There are many ways to view this video; television, streaming apps, or purchasing the DVD. I want to mention that I watched it for free via Amazon Prime. Also, I watched it on my Insignia Roku television. With all of these free and nearly-free shows and movies, I'm LOVING this tv!






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Monday, September 10, 2018

A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner Book Review

Reviewing A Fall of Marigolds. 
A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner is both heart-breaking and triumphant. It is a story of two women who lost the men they loved during two separated tragedies. A co-worker recommended this book to me. The first chapter was easy to read. I was immediately hooked. Then I got bogged down in the second chapter. My co-worker encouraged me to continue reading. I'm so glad I did! 


A Fall of Marigolds


Chapter 1 begins with Taryn and the setting is Manhattan in September 2011. Her story begins at her job - a job she loves in a boutique fabrics shop. Her specialty is identifying and matching old fabrics. Taryn's word-of-mouth advertising is that she can always find a match to old and rare textiles. Her response is, "Almost always."  There is one piece of material that stumped her. Lily's "French-made from an Indian design, and surely a hundred years old" marigold patterned scarf was a mystery. 

Taryn was a young widow, her husband killed during the 9/11 attacks. And she was raising her daughter alone. Taryn had no way of knowing how that customers scarf would tie together the past and the future.

Chapter 2 opens with Nurse Clara at Ellis Island, August 1911. The shift from a setting in this century to a setting 100 years ago was jarring for me. I got stuck in Chapter 2 and had to re-start it a couple of times (from a combination of the book and from my typical response of falling asleep as soon as I begin reading).  Clara's voice was subdued and her story seemed as though it was going to be boring compared to Taryn's.  I am so glad I continued reading because Clara's story was not boring. 

We spend days with Clara and the other nurses and doctors on Ellis Island as they care for the immigrants who are ill, contagious, and often dying. It became very hard for me to put the book down as the relationships on the island, and the characters become fully formed. Clara has reason to sound subdued. She lost her love in the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire. 

The Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire occurred and the issues with the elevator and stairs trapped the workers on the floors above the fire. 145 people died, either in the building or while jumping to their deaths from the windows. 

Part way through Clara's story, I began to think that the author would tie the two story lines together in some fantastical or annoying way. I was happily wrong. The lives of the characters were woven together in a beautiful way.


Author Susan Meissner


In the Author's Note, Ms. Meissner writes 
"I strive to be as accurate as possible when I create an imagined story in a historic place .... I have in these pages proposed how one nurse might have experienced Ellis Island Hospital in the second half of 1911."

I enjoyed reading about Nurse Wood and the writing was so engaging that I could completely imagine the setting. A setting that I had never before given much thought. I felt as thought I was on the streets during 9/11. And as though I were watching Nurse Clara care for those who were recovering or dying on Ellis Island. 

The book dealt beautifully with tragic events, grief, and mourning. The age-old battles of how to make sense of tragedy, how much to let yourself love, and how quickly to trust. And finally, how does each person try to make sense of life, the "hard and beautiful aspects of a full life."





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Monday, September 3, 2018

The Mountain Between Us - Movie Review

The Mountain Between Us on DVD.
As soon as I had seen the trailers for The Mountain Between Us I knew I wanted to see the movie. Survival stories based in the wilderness and extreme conditions are some of my favorite tales. I missed seeing the movie at the theater but finally had a chance to watch it on DVD this weekend. 


The Mountain Between Us 


The movie was based on the book of the same title by Charles Martin. In the movie version, Alex and Ben (two strangers) are stuck at an airport in Salt Lake City and are desperate to fly out. Ben (Idris Elba) is a surgeon and has a surgery the next day and Alex (Kate Winslet) is on her way to her wedding in New York. Alex had overheard Ben talking about his need to get home to Baltimore for this surgery but all flights are cancelled. She has an idea - they'll grab a flight out on a small private plane.

The charter plane pilot agrees to fly them out quickly to get them to Denver ahead of the storm. The pilot, his dog, Alex, and Ben head out - crossing the High Unitas Wilderness area.

The pilot has a stroke in flight and they crash in the mountaintops. Ben, Alex, and the dog survive the crash.

Much of the movie involves Ben and Alex trying to determine which choices to make in order to give them a better chance at survival; stay with the wreckage or try to walk out, etc. The cold, the rugged terrain, lack of food and water, and the mountain lion that views them as food are all barriers to their success. Alex has a broken leg, which doesn't help matters. 



Comparing the Book Versus the Movie


I read the book before I saw the movie. Many times I will read the book and avoid the movie but in this case I wanted to see the setting and the scenery. I also wanted to see some of the events that I had imagined in my head. 

For an excellent review of the book you can read Renaissance Woman's book review. I very much agree with what she had to say about the character development. We fell in love with the characters. All of them. Even the pilot and his dog, Tank. We rooted for all of them, for Ben especially, as he tried to MacGyver his way to rescue.

Movies usually deviate from the book. In this case, the movie version changed Ashley's name to Alex. Also, movies are always more condensed so important "scenes" are always left out and time seems shorter. I expected that. However, in the movie version, the plot came across as a long walk down a large hill. Compared to the book, which was literally a moment-by-moment fight for survival.

In the movie version, Alex/Ashley was not critically injured as she was in the book. I found myself wondering if Hollywood was attempting to make Ashley a stronger woman. I found myself thinking the opposite. In the book, even critically wounded and on deaths door she was a stronger presence than she was in the movie.

I do like Kate Winslet. And I thought her role was well-acted. I have no complaints about her portrayal of the character and I believed her. I just think the book version of Ashley was a better character.

The details of the endings (book and movie) were very different but the final outcome was the same. In the book, I personally thought threads of the outcome came together a little more clumsily than the first 90% of the book. I liked the ending - it was unexpected and an "aha!" moment that suddenly made so much sense. It just seemed slightly choppy.  I loved how the ending of the movie occurred. It was at that moment that the acting was the best. We cared most about Alex(Ashley) and Ben at that point in the movie. More than we did when they were walking their way down the mountain. The movie ending left the extremely important final setting of the book ending out. In a perfect world the final chapters of the book and the ending of the movie would be combined.  I hope that makes sense. I don't want to give away the ending of the book.

I enjoyed both the book and the movie, but if you are choosing one over the other, I recommend the book. But don't just take my word for it. Renaissance Woman recommends the book - and as always her recommendations are spot on. 

I can tell you with certainty, I will be adding more books by Charles Martin to my reading list. I am glad to have been introduced to this author.


Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


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Monday, August 27, 2018

Saving Money with the Insignia Roku 32" LED TV

Just a few viewing options on my Insignia Roku TV.
My television stopped working and couldn't be repaired. It was a sad day that sent me out looking for a replacement. My #1 criteria while looking for a replacement TV was expense. I wanted to spend as little as possible. Fortunately, I found the Insignia Roku 32" LED television.  The out-of-pocket price tag was slightly higher than I wanted to pay but in the long run, I'll continue to have significant savings because I'm refusing to buy cable or dish services at this point in my life. I've had this Insignia TV for almost a month now and I'm loving it. If you are looking to stop making yourself cable-poor, this may be an option that works well for you too.


Insignia 32" Roku LED Television



I window-shopped at several stores, looking to buy a television at $100 or less. Then I found the Insignia Roku 32" LED TV at Best Buy. I thought about it for a bit and asked around.  

With this television, I could continue to watch via antenna (which is my preference, and why I thought I'd get a TV for under $100).

Also, with this television, I could watch my Sling channels and YouTube.

I could also watch Roku, which my son keep telling me to check into.

The official features of the TV are listed as:
  • Roku Smart TV - access to stream 500,000+ movies/television shows.
  • 31.5" screen - measured diagonally from corner to corner.
  • 720p resolution for quality HD images
  • LED tvs perform well in all lighting conditions and provide rich colors.
  • Built-in Roku smart platform (ability to stream from Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, Plus, or choose from 3,000 other streaming channels
  • Two 8w speakers
  • 3 HDMI inputs (cable not included)


I unboxed the TV and attached the legs. I plugged it in and attached my antenna. The television prompted me to connect my Wifi.  I also easily followed those prompts to add my existing Sling TV account, Amazon prime video library, and YouTube channel. 

Because the Roku TV has so many viewing options, I find it slightly cumbersome to remember to toggle from the two menus (the one on the left of the screen that lists things such as: home, My Feed, Search, Settings, and more) to the visual menu on the right that lists such things as: AV, Antenna TV, Netflix, Prime Video, Sling, YouTube, and etc. But that is a mild annoyance, and something I am becoming accustomed to. And an exceedingly small price to pay for a huge amount of free (or nearly free) entertainment.

I gotta tell you, I LOVE watching my YouTube crochet tutorials on the television screen. I could sit all day and watch the DIY channel on Sling. And what fun to watch my Amazon prime movies on a screen bigger than my laptop screen!


Antenna TV


Except for a 2 year (approximately) period of time that I gave cable a second chance - a chance to redeem themselves and a chance they squandered, I have watched television via the channels broadcast over the air. To do this, I use a little antenna that screws in to the back of the TV. Easy peasy and free local channels. 

This indoor antenna is the new and improved version of the antenna I've used for the past few years. 




Verizon Jetpack



The least expensive internet connection that I have found, and that suits nearly all my needs, is the Jetpack by Verizon. It is a portable, mobile hotspot device that I use at home or when I travel. The "unlimited" data isn't fully unlimited. I do have internet connection for the entire month but if I do a lot of streaming, after a certain point I experience "bandwidth throttling". Which means they set me at slower speeds. It is occasionally annoying but not enough to cause me to purchase one of the other packages.

Unfortunately, my Verizon Jetpack does NOT work while I'm at The Shack. Hopefully, by the time I relocate, Verizon has stepped up and provides service in that area. Otherwise, I'll have to figure something else out. 

I'd hate to make changes since this set-up is working so well. But I have some time to figure it out. 


Sling Tv


Fortunately, Sylvestermouse Cynthia introduced me to Sling via her review Get Rid of Cable TV and Still Have Live Major Network TV with Sling TV in 2015. Since that time, I have been able to watch DIY, Hallmark, FYI, Food Network, Travel, Cooking, Disney, HGTV, and more on my laptop.

I pay a minimal monthly amount ($30) for Sling TV. I could pay less but it is "al carte" television and the channels I chose create the amount I pay. Now, with my Insignia Roku television, I can watch all of those channels on the television screen!

The savings by using Sling TV, other streaming entertainment options, and my Verizon Jetpack is significant (at least to me it is). When the cable company increased my monthly bill, it was approaching $150 a month.  In my current situation, I'm paying $30 a month for Sling TV and the Verizon Jetpack is a part of my phone bill which totals $110 a month. Cutting that cable bill saves my budget approximately $1,400/year. 


Related Link:


If I were not pinching every penny in order to rebuild The Shack, I would have chosen a better, bigger television. I would have chosen an HDTV. The quality of the picture is so much better.

Our Bev Owens reviewed her purchase, a Samsung MU6300 HDTV.  This would be a great television to own!  I love the colors and clarity of the picture on an HDTV.


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Monday, August 20, 2018

Easy Snack - Ham Rolls on Celery

Healthy and delicious ham rolls on celery.
I haven't been eating as healthily as I should and I can feel it. This weekend I made a concerted effort to cut back on sugars, carbs, and caffeine. As a result, I ended up making this delicious, healthy, and EASY snack - ham rolls on celery sticks. I have always liked ham and cream cheese rolls, but this new twist on a favorite recipe was extra delicious and satisfied those cravings. 


4 Ingredient - Ham Rolls on Celery


This spicy, creamy snack is super easy to assemble and my version consisted of only 4 ingredients: celery, ham, cream cheese and sriracha

Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks of celery
  • 4 slices of ham 
  • cream cheese
  • sriracha


Assembly:

  1. spread cream cheese on a ham slice.
  2. roll the ham, jelly roll style
  3. wash the celery sticks, trimming the ends then cutting each remaining stick into 1/2. 
  4. place a couple of drops of sriracha in the celery stick 
  5. place the ham and cream cheese roll in the celery stick - on top of the sriracha 

add sriracha to your taste

I am not a nutritionist so I cannot instruct you on what includes healthy eating for you. But I do know with certainty, that overdoing it on carbs, sugars, and caffeine causes me problems. This snack helped me avoid the snacks that I wanted to avoid this weekend. And ended the cravings I was having for the sweets. 


Recipe Inspiration


My inspiration came from those cream cheese and ham rolls many of us have enjoyed at parties and celebrations. 

The Kraft version of the recipe is here. The Kraft version uses chives for the flavor kick, cuts the rolls into smaller sections, and places the pinwheel sections on crackers.


Ham Pinwheels recipe by Kraft

There are other variations of pinwheels, including rolling a pickle in the ham wrap with the cream cheese. I like the pickle version too and may pick up some pickle spears to give it a try on the celery sticks. 


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Monday, August 13, 2018

I Can Only Imagine - Movie Review

The Bart Millard story.
I Can Only Imagine is a movie that was recommended to me by one of the young people I work with. That speaks volumes alone. If one of my work children tells me that a movie meant something to them, I watch it as soon as possible. And I'm here to tell you that you should consider watching it as soon as possible. This is a movie about pain, abuse, life, choices, anger, and eventual forgiveness.

I Can Only Imagine is a movie based on the life of Bart Millard; his abusive father, runaway mother, his hopes and dreams, and the anger that he can't release.


I Can Only Imagine The Movie


Bart Millard is growing up in a rural area. His father is abusive to both Bart and his mother. The abuse is both physical and verbal. Mr. Millard shames his son during what seems like every waking moment - pushing him to follow in his high-school-star football footsteps.

I ache from the irony of an abusive parent pushing a child to be like them.

Mrs. Millard drops Bart off at camp, which becomes the best week of his life. Only to return to find that she has left the family. Leaving Bart to learn to navigate living with his father on his own.

Bart attempts to become a football star too. He outgrows his dad physically. But is still finding his own way as an emerging adult. We hope that he outgrows his dad emotionally. But he waivers and also begins to hurt the ones he loves. 
The Very Best of MercyMe album

Clearly, he eventually finds his way and it leads to the record hit crossover song I Can Only Imagine by the group MercyMe. 

The messages of the story (and song) are far greater than the number of records and movie tickets sold. It is a powerful story of those who struggle, of real relationships, and how to find your way.

Cast: J.Micheal Finley, Dennis Quaid, Trace Adkins, Madeline Carroll, Cloris Leachman and more. 



My Personal Take


This is a Christian movie. Should that keep you away from watching it if that's not "your thing"? No. A resounding no. I probably would best be categorized by others as a non-believer. This movie is full of real human experiences. And how to be a better person. Don't limit yourself based on genre.

This is a movie about redemption.

Redemption:
  • the action of saving or of being saved from sin, evil, or error
  • the action of regaining or gaining possession of something in exchange for payment, or clearing a debt

Which of us don't have debts (the relational debts that are a part of being human) that need to be cleared? 

There are lessons in his story. And one of those lessons are that what we experience as children can be the baggage we carry with us for the remainder of our lives - impacting us in ways we don't want to be impacted.

There are no eloquent tel-prompter type monologues. The conversations are simple and real. Too simple according to some negative reviews. I did not share that opinion. 

In my opinion, people of the Christian faith and things related to that faith are currently the victims of the bullies. I truly believe some of the negative reviews online are based on the reviewer's personal feelings about faith rather than on the movie itself. And interestingly enough, seem to parrot what mean Mr. Millard would have said.

This may not be your cup of tea. That's okay. It definitely touched me. And at least one young person I know, who liked it enough to recommend it. My only complaint is that it wasn't long enough. I wanted more. More details about the journey.

Good thing there is a published memoir by Bart Millard. I'm ordering it today.


The Movie on Amazon





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Monday, July 30, 2018

Reviewing Northern Lights by Nora Roberts

Reviewing Northern Lights by Nora Roberts
I enjoy books written by Nora Roberts, specifically the romantic suspense books that she writes. Northern Lights is at the top of my list of my favorite books. Recently, I've been so tired that it has been difficult to concentrate on new material and find myself stuck reading the same paragraphs night after night. I decided to read something familiar and that wouldn't require so much concentration but couldn't find my print copy of Northern Lights. I looked to the internet for a digital copy. Because Nora Roberts is a prolific writer, with well over 200 titles published, I found that this book may be lost among them so I decided to highlight one of my favorite stories by this author.


Northern Lights in Lunacy, Alaska


Ignatious Burke (Nate) is a Baltimore cop who accepts a job in Lunacy, Alaska. The baggage he brings, that doesn't fit in his carry-on bags, includes the trauma of watching his partner die on the street in Baltimore. Nate can't shake those feelings of guilt. So he accepts a job in a tiny, remote Alaskan town. So remote that he arrives by small plane.


"Strapped into the quivering soup can laughingly called a plane, bouncing his way on the pummeling air through the stingy window of light that was winter, through the gaps and breaks in snow-sheathed mountains toward a town called Lunacy, Ignatious Burke had an epiphany.
He wasn't nearly as prepared to die as he had believed." - excerpt from Northern Lights 

As you would expect, in Lunacy, there is a cast of eccentric characters. To be expected as the 500+ residents of Lunacy refer to themselves as Lunatics. Nate's job duties include, but are not limited to, Moose versus vehicle incidents, taking care of drunks, and watching over his quiet little town. Quiet until the remains of a body - clearly murdered - is found preserved in an ice cave.

The murder victim is Meg's father. 

Meg was born and raised in Lunacy, is a bush pilot, and is quite able to fend for herself. She lives with her dogs, outside of town. Meg is described by some reviewers as unlikable and cold. I describe her as efficient. She is not needy or clingy. Meg begins in a casual physical relationship with Nate but over time it begins to become a more meaningful connection. 

Like small town life, the story line is in no rush. Other reviewers refer to the story line as a "gradual climb" and a "slow burn". I agree and I would add that it is comfortable. When Meg's father's body is found the story begins to become more tense and we begin to find reason take a closer and more suspicious look at the many eccentric residents of Lunacy.  

Who has killed Mr. Galloway - keeping the secret for all these years and walking the snowy streets with the unsuspecting Lunatics of Lunacy, Alaska? And now that the body has been found, who will the killer go after next in order to cover his/her/their tracks?


Additional things to consider about Northern Lights  


Because I am recommending a book that won't be everyone's cup of tea, I feel I should add a few side notes and warnings.  

  • There is a bit of "gore" (there's been a couple of murders after all - one in Alaska and one on Baltimore). 
  • There is profanity. 
  • There are a couple of sex scenes (4 sex scenes for a total of 10 pages is what another reviewer counted). 
  • This novel was written years ago, about a setting years before that (published in 2004, with a journal entry in the book dated February 12, 1988). It is not PC by some standards today.
  • There is also a review that reports a dislike for how the Alaskan residents are portrayed. 
This story will not be everyone's style. It is mine. I like gritty and a bit of gore. Swearing typically doesn't bother me. I tend to like my fiction slightly caricaturized - after all, why read a story if the character is as mundane and boring as I am? And finally, I am very familiar with people who talk, think, and behave just like the people of Lunacy. So this level of alleged political incorrectness was not shocking to me. But I have read a couple of reviews (out of hundreds) in which readers seemed to be significantly triggered so I felt I should give this bit of information in the interest of full disclosure.

If you are curious, but not sure about the story, Amazon provides a sizable "look inside" sample. If the story sounds intriguing but you aren't quite sure, take a peek at the Northern Lights free sample. 

I enjoyed this story, characters, and setting very much. I have read this book multiple times and have it downloaded to begin again. In my opinion, reading about snowy Alaska during the tired, heat-wave days of summer is a great escape. 




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Monday, July 23, 2018

Reviewing Younique Lip BonBons

My LipBonBons: chocolate truffle.
I am not much of a make-up wearer. Mascara is a necessity. And some sort of lip balm is a must-have. Otherwise, I'm not interested in make-up.  I have recently discovered Younique products. Their Lip BonBons tinted lip gloss is awesome. I've used it every day since I received it and I recommend it to others who don't like lipstick, who do like lip balm, and who would like to have a bit of tint on their lips.


Lip BonBons Tinted Lip Balm by Younique


Younique describes their moisturizing, tinted lip balm as:


"....a creamy, smooth, and extra-nourishing balm. With a mild vanilla fragrance, fruit extracts and five natural oils, all you need is just a touch throughout the day to add a subtle hint of color while moisturizing and pampering your lips" - Younique

I decided to review BonBons tinted lip balm because I am excited about my first order from Younique and their quality products.

There are four colors to choose from and one clear.
The colors of Younique Lip BonBons

I do not like a waxy feel on my lips, which is why I historically don't like lipsticks. Lip BonBons are not waxy. The consistency, to me, is mid way between a Chapstick (which is close to waxy) and Blistex (not at all waxy).

I like the barely there tint. This tint adds just the slightest hint of color - which is what I like. Lipstick (to me) is too BAM! I prefer subtle and this is very subtle.

Lip BonBons are moisturizing. Years ago I bought a lip tint with a color I really, really liked. But the product was more dry and the best way I can describe it is that it "flaked" off through the day. Lip BonBons don't flake. 

I really like the packaging. The tube is a fat, metal tube. The lid screws on. That makes the tube easy to find in the bottom of my bag... and no messy surprises from a cap that has popped off!

If you are ready to shop for Younique Lip BonBons, you can click here


Younique Brand and My Presenter Liz


I wrote quite a bit last week about the brand and about Liz, the person I made my purchase from. I also wrote about the amazing Moodstruck Epic Mascara. I encourage you to take a quick peek at that review and information here.

I rarely take selfies, but I was so excited that first morning I wore the mascara and lip tint that I took a couple of photos.


LOOK!  I have eyelashes and lips for a change. 

For more information, live tutorials, giveaways, and easy online ordering, use the links below. 

Liz's Enhance Beautiful You  FB page (live demonstrations can be found here)

Her Enhance Beautiful You VIP FB group page (a place to post your questions, join weekly giveaways, etc)

Liz's personal Younique company page - the place to make online orders.


Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


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Monday, July 16, 2018

Reviewing Younique Moodstruck Epic Mascara

Moodstruck Epic mascara review.
What is a mature woman who has never worn full make-up on a regular basis doing reviewing make-up? I have found a mascara that I'm super excited about, that's why. I splurged on Younique's Moodstruck Epic Mascara and like it so much that it will be my daily "eyes".  If you like to have good lashes, I think you'll like this mascara too.

Moodstruck Epic Mascara by Younique


I LOVE this stuff. I rarely wear make-up with the exception of mascara. Mascara is a necessity. I try really hard to never leave the house without mascara. I even wear mascara when camping at The Shack.

My eyelashes are puny and nearly invisible. But I hate spending money, so I nearly always buy the cheap stuff in the health and beauty aisle at Target or Walmart. Occasionally, I have purchased more expensive brands - but they flaked, smeared, or ran. So I stuck with the popular but cheap brand.

Last week I splurged and bought Moodstruck Epic Mascara and WOW!  My lashes suddenly looked like those ladies at work who have really good lashes. I thought they all went to the salon to have such great lashes but with Moodstruck Epic my lashes are now pretty great too. My lashes were suddenly long and thick; with individual lashes visible. My lashes were visible! 

What I like about this mascara is:

  • The brush actually brushes my lashes. I can feel it "combing" them. Not just passing across them.
  • It coats the lashes separately. 
  • The mascara hasn't smudged or ran all over my face yet. 
  • It takes no more time or work to apply than my cheap mascara
  • The difference in quality was noticeable immediately
  • It is very thick, but not clumpy.
  • It is more expensive (I don't like spending extra money) but I realized that I was spending money on mascara that really wasn't doing much at all - in the long run, this brand may not be much more expensive after all.

Here is my attempt to show you the vast difference in my lashes with no mascara, my box store mascara, and my amazing lashes with the Moodstruck Epic mascara.


Before: my puny, almost invisible eyelashes

side by side comparison: LEFT -popular box store mascara - RIGHT - Moodstruck Epic

If you are only looking for information about the mascara, you can skip straight to shop for the mascara here. The rest of my review will be a brief bit about the company and my wonderful presenter, Liz. 

note: I hate photo comparisons that are "staged" or use different lighting to make the product look better.  I did my best to use the same angle, distance, and lighting to give a real comparison. But as a person who doesn't take selfies, this was the closest I could get. And yes, I really did apply the mascara on the left. The way I normally do. And the way that I had mistakenly thought helped my eyes look better. 


More About Younique


I want to tell you a bit about the company and about Liz. I am a supporter of women and their home businesses. I'm on a tight budget so I can't always support these businesses as much as I would like. But in this instance, the company, my presenter, and the product make it worth the extra couple of bucks.

Younique is a direct sales beauty product company. Their statement on their About Us page is:
Younique's mission is to uplift, empower, validate, and ultimately build self-esteem in women around the world through high-quality products that encourage both inner and outer beauty and spiritual enlightenment while also providing opportunities for personal growth and financial reward 
Women become presenters and show the items they use and love. If  you are my age, you can think Tupperware parties - except with Younique the home parties happen only if you want it to. Most of the sales are "virtual parties" or individual orders (like mine).

Also, unlike home parties from days gone by, customers are able to order online just like they order any other product that is offered online. No commitment to having a party, no high-pressure sales, no having to clean up and plan to have guests (unless you want to - but I don't have the desire to "entertain").  


Meet Liz - My Younique Presenter


Liz is one of the kindest women I know. She also happens to be my grandson's other grandmother so I have gotten to know her a bit over the past few years. I have seen her putting on her face in the mornings and it's clear that she loves her make-up. And watching her, it was easy to see why. Her make-up always looked so good.

Then she very recently started her own business with Younique. Liz (and other Younique) presenters give online demonstrations and tutorials. The very best part of this is being able to watch women of my same age using make-up. I am excited about Liz's new  business adventure and wish her the best of luck.


Liz following a live tutorial

Where to find Liz:

Her Enhance Beautiful You  FB page (you can watch her live demonstrations here)

Her Enhance Beautiful You VIP FB group page (you can find weekly giveaways here and you can post your questions and comments on her timeline)

Liz's personal Younique company page - the place to order the goodies from her. Online orders with no fuss, no muss.


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