Showing posts with label Mary Beth Granger. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mary Beth Granger. Show all posts

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Book Review of What It's Like to Be a Bird

Robin in my Backyard

 Are you ever curious about the habits of birds?  Did you realize that a bird's senses of vision, hearing, touch and smell many times surpass the same senses in humans?  Did you know that if you "ate like a bird" you might eat more than twenty-five pizzas each day?  These are just a few of the many things you'll learn about birds in the book What It's Like to Be a Bird.  


I received a copy of this book as a Christmas gift and have found it fascinating.  It is a rather large, coffee table type book that is full of information on the birds of North America.

The book is divided into three sections.  In this review, I will give you some insight into each of the sections.  The photographs I am including in this review are birds that I photographed in my backyard.


First Section: Introduction

Female Downy Woodpecker

  • The introduction section of the book is 32 pages full of information on birds in general.  This section talks about the feathers on birds, the senses of birds and how they relate to human senses.  There are sections on 
  • Food
  • Survival
  • Social Behavior
  • Movement
  • Physiology
  • Migration
an much more.  This area is full of interesting information.  Some examples include:
  • There are 11 thousand species of birds today and 800 are regularly found in North America.
  • Birds visual ability varies greatly between species.  Owls have great night vision  and Eagles see five times more details than humans and 16 times the colors.
  • Some birds spend their entire winter in the air, even sleeping while they fly.

Second Section: Main Body of Book

In this section of the book the author tells us about over 200 different species of birds.  The author has two pages for most species and they include beautiful colored illustrations of the birds and are full of interesting facts about each type of bird.

One good example is the section on Finches.  The first page shows a beautiful illustration of a male and female House Finch building a nest.  The information says that these finches are aptly named because they have adapted to living around houses and often make their nests on items around the houses such as hanging plants and window ledges.  On the page with Goldfinches we are told that they travel in flocks almost all year and it is believed that some birds stay together in small groups for months or even years.

Third Section: Listing of Birds in this Book

In this last section of the book you find a list of all the birds that have been covered in the book.  It includes the page number for more information along with a paragraph summarizing that particular bird.

Here is some of the information included on the Northern Cardinal.  It tells that the bird is named for its bright red color which is like the cardinals in the Roman Catholic church.  The paragraph goes on to say that the Northern Cardinal is one of the most widely recognized birds in North America.  It adds a couple of interesting facts such as that it is common for male cardinals to feed the adult females.  In this way they are signaling their ability to find food.

This is a book I would highly recommend for anyone interested in finding out more about birds.
Here is a calendar I made of my backyard bird photos.  It is offered on Zazzle.
  



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


FOLLOW US ON:

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Review of Christmas Season 2020


 Christmas 2020 will soon be "Christmas past" and it certainly has been one for the books.  We will remember it as the year of the pandemic, the year without large family gatherings, the year of wearing masks, the year without Christmas parties, and the year of live stream church services.  And yet....it has not been a year without joy for me.  I may have had to look a bit to find it in other activities but as this Christmas season draws to a close I find  that I feel peace even in these crazy times.

Photographing our Decorations

I thoroughly enjoy my photography hobby and this year has given me a lot of time to take classes on photography and Photoshop.  I used some of my new found skills to photograph our holiday decorations.  Here are a few of my favorites. The first two are our tree and the outside of the house.  On both of them I used some new filters I learned how to use on a Photoshop online class.



The next two photos were made for a photography challenge on a group that gives us a weekly theme and we come up with creative ideas.  The theme for this week was "bubble wrap".



Watching Christmas Movies New and Old

I have enjoyed watching movies I have not watched for sometime and also I've found a few new Christmas movies to enjoy.  Last week fellow reviewer Sam Monaco wrote a review on Bing Crosby and White Christmas and it inspired me to rewatch that classic Christmas movie.  Here is a link to Sam's review. Bing Crosby

I also watched a movie that was new to me, although it came out in 2013.  It is called The Christmas Candle and has a delightful story of a minister who comes to a church in a small English village.  

The True Meaning of Christmas


The photo above depicts one of our Christmas decorations.  It is one of my favorites.  It is a cross that holds within it the scenes from the first Christmas.  As in every Christmas it is important to keep our hearts on the seasons true meaning.  

Luke 2:11

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”

King James Version (KJV)

May you and your family experience Peace and Joy during this Christmas and throughout the coming year! 



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


FOLLOW US ON:

Thursday, December 10, 2020

The Magnificent Dappled Sea Book Review


 
In this delightful historical novel by David Biro, a young boy from a small town in Italy is discovered to have leukemia and can only be helped by a bone marrow transplant.  The search for a donor brings up secrets from the past and stretches across the ocean to a rabbi in the USA.  I found this to be another one of those novels that I couldn't put down and wanted to keep reading.  It is also one where the characters come alive to the reader and linger long after you have put down the book.

Characters from the Book


  • Luca- A fascinating young boy who comes down with a dreaded disease.  Luca has a wonderful imagination and a "friend" he talks to that only he can see.  His parents were killed when he was very young and he lives with his grandparents in a small Italian village.  
  • Giovanni- Luca's grandfather who loves his grandson dearly, but is haunted by a decision he made years ago during the war when he found his son Paolo (Luca's father) and brought him home to raise him as his own.
  • Nina- A young nurse who is very dedicated and helps to lead the search to find a donor for Luca.  This search turns into a life changing event for her.
  • Rabbi Joseph Neiman- A rabbi in Brooklyn, New York who is struggling with his faith.  When he works to help a young girl in his community find a bone marrow donor, he has his own marrow tested and finds he is a match for a young  boy in Italy.  What secrets will be revealed to show how a young Catholic boy can have Jewish genes?  
  • Sarah- The wife of the rabbi who has very bad feelings toward anyone from Italy, where her grandparents were captured and sent to a concentration camp during the war.
  • Samuel- The son of the rabbi.  Samuel makes friends with the young boy from Italy.

The Book on Amazon



Lessons from the Book


The book is a work of historical fiction, which contains lessons for us all.  The book challenges our identities and shows how as humans, we are really more alike than we are different.  This is a wonderful novel which I highly recommend.



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


FOLLOW US ON:

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Thankfulness in 2020

 



In this crazy year we call 2020, it is easy to find lots to complain about, but I would like to take a few minutes to reflect on those things for which I am thankful.  Won't you join me?

Family and Friends

I am very thankful for my family and friends.  During times when we couldn't get together we have family and good friends who have stayed in touch by phone call, texts, and emails.  At the beginning of April my husband and I spent 12 days in the hospital and we never missed a day without hearing from so many people that are near and dear to us.

Now that we are home, and our health is good, these friends and family continue to contact us.  When the weather was good and we could sit out on our deck with masks and social distancing our friends would join us.  We had several small groups gather and it was wonderful to see people.

My next door neighbor is working from home and we are able to take daily walks in the fresh air.  We often go to a park near our house.  I am thankful for Teresa.  Sometimes we bring our cameras and take photos along the way.





Technology

I am very grateful for technology this year.  It has allowed us to connect in ways we otherwise couldn't.
  • We have live streamed our church services every Sunday on our TV and it has been a great comfort to worship in this manner.  




  • Our church has increased online opportunities for Bible study and for prayer services.  They are available on Zoom, Facebook, and You Tube.
  • Zoom allowed us to have visits with our doctor while we were safe in our own home.
  • Zoom also allowed my photography club to meet so we could share ideas and connect with each other.  I had never used Zoom before and it has certainly been a blessing this year.
  • We also did a Zoom call with our family for my husband's birthday.

Books

I have always enjoyed reading books, but this year I am particularly thankful for the opportunities that a book brings.  Here is a quote that I think is very fitting.

           Reading gives us someplace to go
           when we have to stay where we are.
                         Mason Cooley

Photography

Hobbies are a wonderful thing to occupy your time.  I am very thankful for my hobby of photography.  It has certainly helped to keep me grounded this year and also to help me appreciate all that is beautiful in nature.

I have had plenty of time to take online classes in photography and various software programs.  I have spent hours honing my skills and this has brought hours of enjoyment to me.  

I have then taken the skills I have learned and visited "safe places" like my yard, my neighborhood, and nearby parks.  I am so thankful for all the time I have had to devote to my hobby this year.

Here are a few of the photos that I have taken. 






Today is Thanksgiving Day in the USA.  May you and your family have a blessed Thanksgiving.  May you take a few minutes to reflect on the things for which you are thankful.






Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


FOLLOW US ON:

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Review of Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom Updates

 

Jupiter Lighthouse with Cloudy Sky

I really love the  new features of Lightroom and Photoshop that came with the updates in October of 2020.  Most of the time I have found that I have to practice several times and try to remember all of the steps for a new feature.  However, with these new features I read a summary of the changes once and right away I was able to use the new features.  They were that easy to  use.  In this post I will give you some examples of my three favorite new features.

Sky Replacement


One of the really fun new features in Photoshop is the sky replacement.  You could always replace skies on photos, but in the past it required you to remember several different steps in Photoshop and it was hard to select just the right amount of sky.  With the new sky replacement all you do is pull up "Sky Replacement" from the drop down menu and the sky is automatically selected.  You then have a wide variety of choices on sky replacements or you can create your own skies.  In the photo of the lighthouse above and the three shown below I replaced the skies with the selections already built into the system.  Each replacement only took seconds.  Which of these skies do you like best?
Jupiter Lighthouse with Blue Sky





Jupiter Lighthouse with Rainbow



Jupiter Lighthouse at Sunset








Color Adjustments in Lightroom

With the new updates in Lightroom, color adjustments have never been easier.  First there is a color grading panel that gives you opportunities to separately adjust colors for the midtones, shadows and highlights.  They are very easy to use, I suggest opening the color grading panel in the develop module and experiment with what each of the color wheels will do for your photograph.

In the  photos below I replaced the color of the flowers.  This was accomplished in just minutes using the adjustment brush.  I clicked on the brush, set the size of the brush I wanted and then adjusted the color in the hue slider.  Next I brushed over the parts of the photo that I wanted to change the color and just that easy I turned the pink flowers into a orange colored flower.


The photo above shows the original pink flower.  In the photo to the right, I easily changed the color of the flower with just a few simple brush strokes.




Neural Filters

I find it fun to try out different filters on some of my photos.  With the latest update, Photoshop added a new section of filters.  They are found under the filter tab and then under Neural Filters.  They are very easy to try.  Just click on the filter you want to try and you will see a preview of what your photo will look like with that filter. There is also a button to select if you want to preserve the color and another if want to focus on the subject.  Along with those two choices there are several sliders that let you determine the amount of filter that you want to apply. In the photos below, I applied four different filters to the same fall scene.






Zazzle Products from my Photos

If you would like to see my photos on a wide variety of products, please stop by my Zazzle store at www.zazzle.com/mbgphoto





Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


FOLLOW US ON:

Thursday, October 22, 2020

The Last Correspondent Book Review

The Last Correspondent is a work of historical fiction written by Soraya M Lane.  It takes place during World War II just prior, during and after the invasion of Normandy.  The scenes are set in London and France during the war.  

This story is about three woman who fight to use their careers to tell their story in a man's world.  They show a tremendous amount of courage, grit and determination in order to get the story told.  This then is the story of a war correspondent, a photographer and a model.

I found this book to be a real page turner.  In fact after I was about half way through the book, I couldn't put it down till I read the whole book.  It is one of those books where the author does such a good job of making the characters believable that I couldn't wait to see what happened next.

The Three Women

  • Danni-  Danni is a seasoned photographer, who has photographed the war on several different fronts.  As the days close in on the Normandy invasion she finds herself in London.   Only the  men are allowed to get passes to cover the war during the invasion, but Danni is determined to find a way to get to the action.  She has teamed up with a correspondent, Andy, who has been with her during her last several assignments.  They have become good friends and cover each others backs.  Danni enlists Andy to help her sneak aboard a medical ship that is sailing toward Normandy.
  • Ella-  Ella is a reporter who has written stories  under a man's pen name in order to get her works published.  When she is found out, her publisher fires her.  She finds a job with a magazine reporting on the war from a women's point of view.  She interviews women working on the war effort and the magazine is so pleased with her work that they send her to London to report on the war.  Like Danni, Ella also finds she is limited in her access because she is a woman.  Ella goes by herself to try to find a way to the action and find herself on the same medical ship as Dani and Andy.  After a rough night hiding on board they decide to team up as they make their way to shore.
  • Chloe-  Chloe is Andy's sister who was a Vogue model prior to the war.  When she was in Paris on a modeling job she met Gabriel, an editor, whom she fell in love.  At the beginning of the story Chloe is at her home in England, longing to find a way to be with Gabriel in Paris.  She says she is a showgirl in order to make her way into Nazi occupied Paris.


The Men in Their Lives

  • Cameron- Cameron is a Lieutenant that Danni first meets and has a conflict with when she is covering the war in Sicily.  She meets up with him again in a bar in London and then in Normandy.  They have a real love/hate relationship.
  • Andy- Andy is a war correspondent and best friend to Danni.  They have been together on several war zones and he always has her back when she is pushing the envelope.
  • Gabriel-  Gabriel is Chloe's lover and she sneaks in to Paris to be with him, only to find out the it is very pre-occupied working for the resistance.  
  • Michael - Michael is also a war correspondent and Ella first meets him at the bar at the Savoy in London.  This is a meeting place for many of the correspondents and photographers.  She next meets up with him in Normandy.

Recommendation

If you are a lover of historical fiction this is a wonderful  read.  It is full of history, women's fight to be treated as equals, and just a bit of romance.  A great read all around.  I highly recommend it.




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


FOLLOW US ON:

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Fall is in the Air - A Review of 2020 Fall Favorites

 

Fall 2020
Fall is my favorite time of year.  I love the chilly nights, the cool and crisp days, and the wonderful array of colors in nature.  Fall is the time for apples and carmels, sausage and sauerkraut, colorful mums, and fall festivals.  Fall is also the time for candy corn, Halloween, jack-o-lanterns, pumpkin pie and of course Thanksgiving.  

Fall is also a wonderful time for photography.  The sun is not quite as intense and therefore the lighting is better for daytime photographs.  I love to wander in neighborhood parks and on trails and I always bring along my camera.  On this page I will review with you some of my favorite things from the fall of 2020.

Parks and Sculptures

This year in my town of , O'Fallon Missouri, we have ten sculptures on loan and displayed around town in various parks.  On my first fall outing, I visited three of our parks to photograph the sculptures.  It was late September and a little early for full fall color in Missouri, but I was pleased to catch a glimpse of color as I took my photos.

     Westoff Park

In this park I photographed a sculpture called Zig  Zag Zugguret by Michael Quintero.  I was also able to capture some pretty colors on the hillside.



     Dames Park

In Dames Park I photographed my favorite sculpture Solitude of the Journey by Jeremy Colbert.  I felt that whole photograph had a fall feel to it from the beautiful fall grasses surrounding theFh sculpture to the expressive clouds in the fall sky.

     Civic Park

My last stop on this outing was to photograph Blue Rail by David Lobel.  It was an interesting sculpture and I also photographed some of the colorful purple mums that were nearby.



Fall  Foods



In the fall I seem to have a renewed interest in cooking and baking.  I love baking apple muffins and pumpkin bread.  I especially like making anything with apples.  I made an apple cake last week and apple pie is always a favorite with my husband.  One of my favorite apple delights is homemade applesauce.  I love the smell of apples cooking on the stove.  My recipe is quite simple.  I just peel, core and cut the apples in chunks and then add them to a pot and cover them about 2/3 of the way with water.  I add some cinnamon and put them on the stove to simmer.  It only takes about 15-20 minutes and they are so good.  Can't you just smell them cooking in the photo below?

Another favorite is microwave apple crisp.  It is delicious and so easy to make.  See the recipe on the Zazzle magnet below.

Fall Decorations

I love to decorate my home for fall.  I usually put up my decorations in the first week of September and take them down after Thanksgiving.  My decorations are fairly simple, just a few colorful leaves and some pumpkins that I purchased at the local craft store.   The two special items that I have are the mini quilt on the entrance table that a friend made for me and the photograph on the mantle.  It is a photo that I took of a lighthouse in Minnesota during the fall and I was able to capture the fall leaves in the framing of the photo.  I had it printed on canvas and it sits on my mantle in the fall.  Here are a few photos of my decorations.

Front Door Wreath



Fall Zazzle Products from my Photographs




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


FOLLOW US ON:

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Book Review of Honeysuckle Season

Greenhouse

In this book we are introduced to Libby a young women who has many recent struggles and an unknown future.


Summary of Book


Libby is a young woman who has just gone through several miscarriages, a painful divorce and the death of her father.  Since she is at a true crossroads in her life she decides to return to her roots in Bluestone, Virginia.  Here she moves into her father's home and begins a career as a wedding photographer.

She is asked to photograph a wedding at the historic Woodmont estates.  This is a place she remembers going to as a child with her mother.  The place brings back memories and after the wedding the owner Elaine Grant asks her help in getting the place ready for special events.  Elaine has also asked a young widower, Colton Reese to help in the restoration of a greenhouse on the estate.

The greenhouse was once the scene of many community gatherings.  It was built as a wedding gift for Elaine's grandmother and was at one time a beautiful and magical place.  The years have not been kind to the place and it is overgrown with honeysuckle vines and lots of weeds.  The greenhouse is said to be haunted and it hides secrets from years gone by.

It has been months since her father's death and Libby is now ready to start going through some of his things.  When she does, a letter she finds in his desk will bring to light long buried secrets with ties to the Woodmont estate.  

The author, Mary Ellen Taylor, weaves a wonderful story of love and loss, secrets and forgiveness, and a wonderful hope for the future.  Along the way you meet interesting characters and become caught up in their lives.

My Thoughts on the Book


I liked this book from the very beginning and was delighted with the way the author introduced the characters.  There was a hint of the secret throughout the book but I really didn't catch on till near the end.  This made it a real page turner.  The characters were lifelike and I took a real interest in their lives.  This would be a great book for book club discussions.

Other Books by This Author


Mary Ellen Taylor is an award winning author of Winters Cottage and Spring House and several other women's literature books.  She also writes under the name Mary Burton as a New York Times best selling suspense novelist.




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


FOLLOW US ON:

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Visit Missouri- Review of Frontier Park-St. Charles


Located on the Missouri Riverfront in St. Charles you will find a wonderful park, the Lewis and Clark Boathouse Museum and a delightful nature center.


Lewis and Clark Boathouse Museum



The Lewis and Clark Boat House and Museum is a wonderful way to spend time reviewing the history that took place in this area.  There is a wonderful display on the Lewis and Clark Expedition with maps for you to follow the paths taken.  There is a replica of a keel boat used during the expedition times and many other artifacts from the era.  

The  museum also gives a lot of information on the Missouri River ecosystem.  

Outside the museum you will find a wonderful nature center.  It is a small area but packed with informational signs and lots of beautiful flowers.  I particularly like to photograph the sunflowers.  

Here are some photos from a late July visit to the area.


 




I was delighted by all of the colorful cone flowers that were in bloom on this visit.






Frontier Park

Just east of the museum area on the riverfront you will find Frontier Park.


The park covers 16 acres and is a wonderful way to spend a leisurely time watching the boats on the riverfront, watching events on the stage, visiting the old railroad depot, or taking a walk along the Katy trail. Here are the features of the park according to the St. Charles Parks website.

  • 16 Acres
  • 15 Foot Lewis & Clark Statue
  • MKT Depot
  • MO Dept. of Natural Resources Katy Trail runs through Frontier Park
  • Outdoor Jaycee Stage
  • 2 Picnic Shelters
  • Paved Hike/Bike Trail
  • Rest Area (Benches)
  • Restrooms are open year round.


From <http://www.stcharlesparks.com/park/frontier-park/



At Christmas time the city celebrates a "St. Charles Christmas Traditions".  One of the traditions includes a parade featuring Santa's from various countries.  At the end Santa Claus stops at the railroad depot above for children to visit and have their photos taken with Santa Claus  A couple of years ago my two youngest granddaughters were visiting before the holidays and I took them to see Santa.  The depot was a wonderful spot for this tradition.  



The St. Charles area features a lot of festivals held in the area and the stage seen above is often the place where entertainment is featured. People can bring their lawn chairs and sit in the grassy areas surrounding the stage.  Some of the festivals include an Independance Day Celebration, Festival of the Little Hills, Craft Fairs and much more.

This area along the Missouri riverfront in St. Charles is a real treasure of the city and an area I never tire of visiting.

Zazzle Products from my Photographs





Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


FOLLOW US ON:


The Review This Contributors

Cynthia SylvestermouseCynthia SylvestermouseDawn Rae BDawn Rae BMary Beth - mbgphotoMary Beth - mbgphotoBrite-IdeasBrite-IdeasBev OwensBev OwensWednesday ElfWednesday ElfBarbRadBarbRadOlivia MorrisOlivia MorrisRenaissanceWoman2010RenaissanceWomanLou16Lou16The Savvy AgeThe Savvy AgeTreasures by BrendaTreasures by BrendaMargaret SchindelMargaret SchindelSam MonacoSam MonacoRaintree AnnieRaintree AnnieBuckHawkBuckHawkDecoratingforEventsDecoratingforEventsHeather426Heather426Coletta TeskeColetta TeskeMissMerFaeryMissMerFaeryMickie_GMickie_G

 

Review This is Dedicated to the Memory of Our Beloved Friend and Fellow Contributor
We may be apart, but You Are Not Forgotten

Susan DeppnerSusan Deppner

“As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from purchases.” Disclosure Statement

X