Showing posts with label Olivia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Olivia. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Reading, The Gift that is Helping Many Through "Covid" Times

Through these last few months many friends have taken up reading to get them through lock-downs and the inability to be with others!

Reading books can take you away from where you are, just let the words sink into your mind.  You could be travelling to India, Switzerland, Russia, the Historical Midwest or a thousand other places.

It is all possible within the covers of a good book!  But where, oh where do you find all those GOOD BOOKS?  Let me help you with that!





Review This Reviews.com has always had a wonderful group of writers that are willing and able to  share their reading preferences with you.  Everyone loves a good novel, autobiography, the latest How To, and so much more.

Sometimes we are drawn to a book because it has spent some time on the Best Sellers Lists of several Newspapers, The New York Times for example.  Other times we are drawn to a book because other literary giants are endorsing this new Title or Author.  Or if we are Amazon people,  they also rate their books too!


There are several ways to find out what's trending in reading materials and also several places to find totally new authors and titles.  

If you are a member of GOODREADS, you can sign up for their newsletters and see what others are reading.  If you don't know about GOODREADS, then you can sign up here! You can also recommend books to friends who are also members of this reading community.  I love Goodreads, because it helps me keep on  track to reading a certain number of books a year.  It's also a great place to leave a review and even follow an author. 

Why would you want to follow an author?  Well I can think of a few reasons.  If you really like a book they have written and you are following them, you might be one of the first to know when a new title is coming out.  You can sometimes join an authors night and hear what this person has to say about their own books, giving you insights that may not have come across at first reading.  But most importantly you are part of the group of people who encourage an author to continue honing their skills in telling a story. 
 



There are two more places that I love to find my next book to read.  These are two places where you can get Advanced Readers Copies (ARC).  These books have not yet been published, but are made available to avid readers.  Their only conditions are that you leave a review for the author!   Netgalley is one and Voracious Readers is the other!

Each of these sites are geared to new authors and new titles!  You can sign up with them and they will want an indication of your preferences.  Simple to do!  Then just watch your email "inbox".  It is that simple and that easy to do.

You will need an electronic book, Kindle or iPad to download the books.  These are electronic books you will be receiving.  Once you download them, you are free to start reading and enjoying a new author!

Facebook also has a page I love to find new books on.  My Book Tribe  has about 12,000 plus members.  Quite often new authors and established ones will have book give aways that you might be interested in.   If not, it's still a great place to find new titles and new authors.

Of course right here on Review This Reviews you can find lots of great books that have "our" stamp of approval. Just clicking on the Tab at the top for Books and a whole list will drop down for you!  Read a review and then get your book, it's that simple.

Just remember, that reading can take you to places, when you have no where to go!



 
 






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


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Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Hope for a New Year, Sunflowers Plant of the Year for 2021 A Garden Review

Everyone I know has had enough of 2020, so even though Christmas is still a day or two away, it's time to look forward! 

There seems to be many authorities on Plant of the Year for 2021 and I know we all need something to look forward to, so I'm going with the authorities at the Winnipeg Free Press!  They (and I agree with them) have dubbed 2021 the Year of the Sunflower!


There is so much about sunflowers that I just love and I'm going to fill you in on just a few of them.

  1. They are easy to grow from seeds.
  2. They will grow without any help from you.  No fertilizers, no need to baby them!
  3. By summertime, you will have a beautiful stalk of bright yellow flowers (or some other cultivar).
  4. They are beautiful cut flowers that last a long time.
  5. The bees will love you!  as well as butterflies, ladybugs, dragonflies, and other insects that all feed on the nectars they produce.
  6. The flowers are interesting not only for their colors (and there are many) but also for the seeds they are producing.
  7. If you are into "mathematics", they love working the Fibonacci Sequencing with the seed heads as they are revealed in growth patterns in nature.
  8. The seed heads are food for birds, squirrels, chipmunks, field mice and more.
  9. You can bake the seeds for human consumption too!  But you can also eat them raw.
  10. You can have a variety of sunflowers growing together.  They will delight you in so many ways.
So when you think of sunflowers are you just thinking of the big yellow multi petalled flower?  There are so many more varieties of sunflowers than the traditional yellow.  

Sunflower "Elf" is probably the shortest growing at stems of 16 inches or so in height.  Then there is one called Sunforest Mix which can grow up to 10 feet tall.  The seed heads can measure almost 12 inches across!  As it's name implies, if you plant a bunch of these you will have a "Sunflower Forest" growing.  What could be more beautiful?  The bees, birds and small wildlife will thank you!

Did you know that Sunflowers are also yellow with orange centers, or white?  Some varieties have just a few layers of petals around the seed head, while others are so full of petals that they look fuzzy!  

One thing that they all have in common is that they will surely bring a smile to your face!


Ripening Seed heads! Just one sunflower can produce hundreds of seeds.  That will feed a lot of birds!

            This bird can hardly wait for the seeds to ripen on this seed head and he's helping himself to a delicious snack!

Seed heads are easy to harvest.  Just grab a sharp knife (be careful) and cut the seed head off.  You don't need to remove the seeds from the rest of the flower head, unless you want to.  Turn the heads upside down and suspend them with some string and the birds will come for them.  If you have lots of seed heads, you might want to ration them out a head at a time, so that as winter sets in you still have some heads for the birds.  Sunflower seeds are a great source of food for the birds in the winter months.  They are loaded with oils that birds need for energy during the coldest months of the year.  

If you want to get an idea about how many colors and sizes of Sunflowers there are, here is a link to HGTV's 13 Crazy and Colorful Sunflowers!  

I think I would love to have a few acres that I could plant with sunflowers of all types, can you just imagine the riot of color that would be seen? 

As we lead up to Christmas, I won't fill your minds with too much more than beautiful pictures of the Sunflowers that hopefully will grace your gardens in 2021.  In the language of flowers, sunflowers mean Adoration, Loyalty, and Longevity!  We( all the writers) at Review This Reviews, adore our fans and readers.  We will loyally bring you a variety of reviews that you will enjoy and we want to be with you and have you visit us often.   A very fitting flower for us, for this time of year and the year to come.  


Decorate your life with a little sunshine that lasts and lasts.  Sunflowers are just one of the cheeriest flowers and so charming in their own way!





I can't think of a flower that would make me smile bigger and longer than the sight of a bright yellow or red sunflower!



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Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Show a Little Love: Stuffies That Will Make you Smile

Today is National Stuffed Animal Day!  Guess What?  I love my "Stuffies" and I'm not alone! 
A Gift Review

Is there anything more fun than going out and getting a new stuffed animal for the child (ren) in your life?  I don't think so.  Every kid I know, by the time they are 5 or 6 years old, are the proud owners of at least 5-10 stuffed animals.  Let's try to understand why these are such a great gifts at any time of the year, for kids and grown ups too!

From newborns to seniors, stuffed animals are always a favorite toy/gift.  Whether it's baby number one or more, each newborn is sure to receive a Teddy Bear!  They are the #1 stuffed toy that people reach for.  I have witnessed the connection kids can have with that first stuffed animal first hand as my granddaughter (12) still has her Teddy Bear right there in the bed beside her every night.  My other granddaughter happens to love her unicorn and my grandson has his favorite bunny and dog snuggled right up to his pillow every night.

Some people love Teddy Bears, others love Sheep, Lady Bugs, or their favorite Cartoon Characters.  All of them are available as Stuffed "animals", although that is really a misnomer.  Not everything that is stuffed is an animal,  there are lots of stuffed "characters" as well.  That's why I prefer to call them "Stuffies", because you just never know!  

For years past, children loved their Raggedy Ann and Andy stuffed toys. It was a great way to engage children with the story books too.   Today, Raggedy Ann and Andy are not quite as popular, but there are many others that have taken their place.  Mickey and Minnie Mouse have been favorites for years as well. Paddington Bear and Winnie the Pooh all have story books to read to the little ones while they are busy hugging  their "Stuffie"!

Whenever a new Family Movie comes out, there are at least six or seven (or more) new stuffed toys that are offered in the marketplace.  Monsters Inc.  was a fantastic movie for kids and afterwards, there were kids that wanted "Mike" or "Sulley" stuffed toys to add to their collection.  Toy Story also had a great run with kids and there were so many stuffed animals and characters out on the marketplace after that movie as well.  Buzz Lightyear and Woody come in a variety of toy styles.  Add the Little Mermaid,  Gremlins, Wookies and a host of other "Other Worldly" characters and you know that the list of Stuffies is almost endless.  

Whether they are a character from a movie or cartoon show, or just your favorite Bear, Bunny, Elephant, Sheep or other animal.  There are so many out there and each one has it's own pull on your heartstrings.  If you need some help figuring it all out, here's my Favorites that you can go through. Olivia's Favorite Stuffies

Kids need to have a toy that is cuddly and soft.  They love to carry them around and even share their treats with their little stuffies.  I know my grandchildren had fun watching movies and snacking with their best buddies tucked comfortably in the crook of their arms. The connection that kids make with their favorite stuffed toys is really heartwarming to see.  My one granddaughter has shared her times in hospital with her favorite bear!  If you want to know more about that you can read about her need for some comfort right here!

Stuffed Animals and Characters really do play an important part in a child's life and so I really do believe that it's great to celebrate these toys with a special whimsical holiday. 

This year especially due to our restrictions, this just might be a great way to celebrate Halloween with the little ones in our lives.  A great movie and some treats along with their favorite stuffie and you have a party to remember!
 







Happy Halloween everyone, stay safe and healthy! But please find time to have some fun too!


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


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Wednesday, May 27, 2020

The Prayer Box: A Book Review

Summer is on it's way and hopefully you have a list of Books to take to the cottage or read on those lazy summer nights!


                                   

I have just finished reading The Prayer Box, by Lisa Wingate!

What a great story about a lady who lived her whole life in a small vacation community and yet remained a mystery to that whole community.

It doesn't take long for this book to grab you and reel you in.  Iola Anne Poole had lived on Hatteras Island her whole life and died at the ripe age of ninety one!  Hatteras Island is a community of people that live there all year long and an increased population during the summer season.  Artisans and good people call this home and wait for the influx of visitors in order to finance their off seasons.  Home cooked meals, coffee shops with caring staff, make this island a wonderful place to live and an even better place to spend your summer months.  Everyone who lives here knows everyone else.  With the exception of Iola Anne Poole!

What starts out as a new beginning for Tandi Jo Reese, ends up being her lifeline to a future without fear.  Tandi Jo is hiding from a controlling and manipulative man.  She and her two children are literally running from a past of fear and control, into a future that will hopefully be better.

Iola, rents Tandi a cottage that is part of the property she owns.  Tandi in search of a better place for herself and her children jumps at the chance of having a secure roof over their heads without the fear of being found.  Her landlady is even willing to rent to her on a weekly basis.  

Just two weeks into this new beginning, Iola dies!  Tandi is already having problems with the rent.  Her "ex", (you'll learn more about him when you read the book)  does not know where she is and she does not want him to find her.

Iola, left her belongings and everything else in her life to the church just up the road from her Rambling Victorian home.  The pastor needs help to clean out Iola's home.

Tandi, now has a job.  Hired by the pastor to clean out her home, Tandi comes across a walk in closet full of decorated boxes.


Image by Luisella Planeta Leoni from Pixabay

What happens next is for you to find out.  I really don't want to spoil this novel for you.  So much happens in such a reasonably short time frame.  You will need to pick up this book and enjoy it for yourself.

Those boxes and life on Hatteras Island has made it possible for Tandi to understand that there is more to life than running and hiding.  That there are good people in the world and that everything you learn from life can come to your aid when you need it the most.




This book has won many awards, and  has been recommended by Debbie Macomber , one the New York Times Bestselling Authors.  (I enjoy her writings as well).

It is the firsts in a series of 3 novels, and, I know I will read all of them.

The Prayer Box is a lovely summer read and will have you thinking about your own relationships, familial and with the people around you.  This book really is a summer gift and I'm sure you will enjoy it as much as I have.



About the Author

 Lisa Wingate has written several novels and each one has had it's share of acclaim.  


While I was busy taking in this novel, my co-writer Bev Owens just finished reviewing another of her books, Before We Were Yours!  I had read this book as well and enjoyed it immensely.  So when I saw The Prayer Box, I was already enchanted with the author. Her stories are really enjoyable and I can see why she has such great reviews!  




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


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Wednesday, January 22, 2020

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane - A Review

If you have been reading our reviews, you know that January is Tea Month!  It is also part of the Chinese New Year celebrations that will be happening all around the world on the 25th of  January.

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane Book Review

It's also time to share a new book that I truly enjoyed.  The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane caught my eye on two counts.  One, I love birds, so was interested in the address and the second was the ambiguity of the title.  Who goes around being known as the "Tea Girl" and why?


The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane Book Review


Lisa See, the author has extensive knowledge of what is happening in the areas where China has taken over the lands that once belonged to some really isolated tribes.  Such are the Akha, that  lived in the high mountainous regions of Laos, Myannmar, Thailand and Yunnan province in China. 

                                                           Map courtesy of Google Maps

As with many indigenous tribes, they are unaware of the political struggles or the ramifications of being overtaken by another government.   They farm and cultivate their land for their own use. Daily life is difficult enough without worrying about politics.  Rice, tea and poppies are their main crops.  Opium, derived from their crops is sold to the outside world for medicines.  They themselves have used opium for medicines for centuries.  Tea is the other common denominator.  They grow tea and cultivate the leaves of trees that are hundreds of years old.  This tea is sought after by tea aficionados from around the world.

They are a land of people who have stayed together and lived according to the laws and customs of their "tribe".  They have their own language, yet they are encouraged to learn Mandarin and leave their language behind. Education is minimal unless they show a talent for learning.  Then maybe they have a chance at a better life.  The question is, "Who's ideas of a better life will they follow?" 

Each child can confirm their lineage for 7 generations.  This is one of the most important things they know for sure.  Girls and boys can recite their lineage and will do so when they find a mate.  The elders of the community will give their permission to marry, based on that lineage!  There will be no marriages allowed that are too close in family ties.

Image from Wikipedia 


This story and it's people grabbed my attention and held it right to the very end.  I was fascinated by their customs and horrified by some of their practices too.  What really caught my interest though was how the people, because of their beliefs did things that we would consider so unacceptable.  The Akha, like many of the Asian peoples, have a profound wish that their first child be male. Because of China's one child law,  many girls are given up for adoption.   

Over the years, these girls have been adopted into American, Canadian and European households.  The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane finds herself caught up in a cultural tug of war.  Her adopted parents are caught up in it as well.  She does not look like them, She will never look like them!  Yet, her parents love her as if she were born to them like any other child.  

Her adoptive parents go through all the trials and tribulations involved when you have a child that is "different".  As many parents are aware, whenever something is NOT just so,  many questions are asked and need answers.  Yes, their child is adopted.  No, they don't know anything about why she was given up for adoption.  No, they are her parents and they love her unconditionally.  Yes, she asks questions all the time.  No we don't have the answers to all her questions.

What makes this story interesting is that bond between the birth mother and the daughter that she no longer knows.  I don't want to give anything away from this story, I want you to go and pick up the book and read it for yourself.  


My Conclusion & Final Thoughts


I learned so much about the Akha people and I also learned a lot about myself.  It was easy to put myself into the characters of this book.  What would I do?  How would I react?  How would I feel about being given away?  Where do my loyalties lie?  These are all questions you will find yourself asking as you are reading this book.

There are no right or wrong answers.  For the Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, there are lots of different answers and many roads that could be taken.  See how she deals with the way,  and the road,  her life has taken.  I promise, you will learn something about yourself in the pages of this book.







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


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Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Reading, The Gift that Keeps on Giving in So Many Ways

Reading is a gift, a renewable, ever changing, gift that covers all ages and stages of life.

There is no doubt that many of the writers here at Review This Reviews love to read!  You just need to take a quick look at all the Book Reviews to know that there are many readers with varied tastes in subjects to read about.  There are even some authors on our Review This Reviews pages too!

What I am most interested in sharing with you today is  some timely ideas to help youngsters become avid readers.  

Why?  Well it is well known that reading is the basic building block for a lifetime of learning.  No truer words were ever written, and it bears repeating!  


READING IS THE BASIC BUILDING BLOCK FOR A LIFETIME OF LEARNING!

What's the best way to start a child on this road to learning?

That's an easy one to answer!  There is no time like the present to begin a child on a path to explore and learn new things.  Children are magnets for learning and giving them the tools can't start too early.  One of the best gifts you can ever give any child, is books.  You night not expect that books would be a great Baby Shower Gift, but I'm here to tell you differently.  So many times the new parents are inundated with cute outfits, booties and all the paraphanalia needed for their babies.  Give them a gift that will stand out!  Books, Classic Books that will become favorites for their children as they years go by.  Books that can be read by the parents and grandparents.  Books that will fuel their creativity and at the same time become the basis for their language skills.

Here is a list of Classic Books that will be a great start to any child's library:
  1. The Tale of Peter Rabbit
  2. A Bear Called Paddington
  3. Little Golden Books
  4. The Velveteen Rabbit
  5. A Treasury of Curious George
  6. Elmo's Big Book of Friends
  7. My Favorite Berenstain Bears Collection
  8. Classic Storybook Fables
  9. On the Night You Were Born
  10. The Very Hungry Caterpillar
The last two books on this list are "modern" classics.  The other 8 suggestions are stories that have been around since you were a child.  They are the "Classics" that really should be in every child's library.  They have withstood the test of time and are still found to be entertaining and full of great life lessons. 

How to keep your child entertained while reading:


Our goal as parents and grandparents is to keep our children motivated to enjoy the story we are telling them.  At the end of a long day, make time for reading.  Set the children's bed time for a half hour earlier than when you actually want them to close their eyes.  This time is set apart for reading!  Unless they are sick, make sure that you do this on a regular basis.  If not every day, then maybe 3 days a week.  Make the reading time not just a page turning experience, but be expressive in reading so that by your tone, they will know something exciting is going to happen.    Using the pictures in the story to keep our children's imaginations fueled will go a long way in them wanting you to turn more pages.  




What happens when they have a favorite book and they just don't want you to read another?


First of all don't worry, that is perfectly normal.  Certain books just have that quality that makes children want to hear the story again and again.  This is actually a great time to teach them to sight read certain words, because they already know the story off by heart.  Pointing to the words and showing them how the word sounds out, will help them to recognize that word in other stories too.  When our children would ask for the same story over and over and over again, we got creative in telling the story so that we would not be bored to tears.  I can remember one night in particular, when it was Dad's turn to read, he was so tired of reading story the way it was written, that he took the book and read it backwards.  Starting at the last page, he worked his way to the front and the children laughed and laughed so hard, that I needed to get up and see what in heaven's name was going on.  Well, needless to say from that point onwards, the children wanted the book read forwards and backwards.  Bedtime or reading time was just increased another 15 minutes to accommodate the extra reading.  What a great way to make them enjoy their stories in a whole new way.

Other Great Ways to Get Children Started on Reading!  


Reading starts with children grabbing a book and turning the pages.  As I said earlier, you can't start this habit too early.  So get your babies/children books that are make especially for them.  There are soft books made of fabric, that can be put into cribs or playpens.  They are usually filled with colorful pages and pictures.  Even babies love to turn pages that have something special on them.  Books with flaps that lift, tabs to pull and bits and pieces of sensory friendly fabrics are a must have for little hands.  Tactile fabrics, squeakers  or buttons that you can push are extras that little hands just love to play with.



So much fun in a book for little hands and growing minds.

 For Parent's Who Love to Tell Stories


For Parent's who are natural story tellers, there are also some really great picture books that will help you tell stories and get your child to interact at the same time.  Our children loved the "Where's Waldo" books.  They would sit for long periods of time looking at all the different pictures and looking for Waldo, who, you knew, was hiding in the pages somewhere.  What made these fun and interactive was the places and situations that Waldo would find himself in.

Richard Scarry books are also great for young readers.  They can learn about trucks and trains, planes and places.  His wonderfully illustrated books make it easy for parents to tell the story and sometimes segue into stories of their own.  Your imagination and the help of these books will fuel your child's world and widen their perspectives on everyday things around them.

We are our children's first educators and we teach them by spending quality time with them in a number of activities.  Reading is one of the most important activities.  It's the start of a life long love of books, that will see your children expand their horizons and will help educate them too.

It all starts with ABC and it will take them anywhere their minds can imagine and more.  Avid readers are the start of a life long love of learning new things.  They will develop a critical mindset that will help them in their everyday lives as they grow and mature.  Reading will never ever go out of style or popularity either.  Books will remain part of their lives from now until they are reading to their children too!

Will your favorites as a child, become your children's favorites too?

It could happen, but they might also find a story that is their own favorite and that is okay too!  There isn't one book that is "better" than another.  Everyone needs to find their own favorites and expand from that point on!  Books will give your child more than a 30 second sound bite of information.  Let's encourage our children to make good choices in how they spend their leisure time by having some great books for them at all stages of their reading skills.











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Wednesday, October 16, 2019

You Can Stop Colds From Ruining Your Day, A Health Product Review

The Seasons are changing again.  We just has the most beautiful Full Hunter's Moon over the weekend and Fall colors are being painted on the trees!  It's time to think about how to keep ourselves healthy during cold and Flu season.  I have already tasted the first snow fall during my holidays, so I know that the dreaded sniffles, coughs and colds are just around the corner.  This year I will be ready to tackle the colds before they get a chance to ruin my fall and winter.

Let's review some interesting facts about colds and flu! Then let's become ambassadors for eliminating many of the common reasons that colds seem to spread.
Did you know:


  • Colds are minor infections of the nose and throat caused by more than 200 different viruses...
  • A cold may last for about one week, but some colds last longer, especially in children, the elderly and those in poor health.
  • In the United States, colds account for more visits to the doctor than any other condition.
  • Adults get an average of two to four colds per year, mostly between September and May.
  • Young children suffer from an average of six to eight colds per year.
  • Colds are highly contagious.  They most often spread when droplets of fluid that contain a cold virus are transferred by touch.  These droplets may also be inhaled.
Colds and flu are one of the most preventable diseases that afflict our society. ** The American Lung Association



How to Avoid Catching a Cold or the Flu


The #1 way to keep from getting a cold or the flu, is to wash your hands.  Wash them every time you are out and come back home.  All hard surfaces like door handles, shopping carts and counters are breeding places for cold germs.  Even breathing next to someone who has a cold can be the reason you get sick.  Covering your mouth and nose with a handkerchief when sneezing or coughing is advisable.  If you don't have a Kleenex handy, then cough or sneeze into your bent arm.  The germs will land inside your elbow and not on your hands.

Using your hand as a shield only makes it worse because now everything that you touch is germ laden.  Don't do that!  

When I was working in the hospitals, they encouraged everyone to use the hand sanitizers often.  It worked well in that environment and I know that they would work  well in your family too.  Have some hand sanitizer in your purse or backpack at all times.  Train yourself to keep your hands away from your mouth and nose.  If you must touch your own face, use sanitizer before you blow your own nose or wipe your eyes.  When you get home wash your hands well.  




If you still manage to get a cold after all of the precautions have been taken, make sure you have some gentle, but effective Vicks VapoRub on hand to help with breathing and keeping your nasal passages open.  This happens to be my favorite brand, but there are others.  Or you can also get herbal rubs to help with breathing and sinuses.  Eucalyptus and menthol are the active ingredients in most rubs.


Keep Kleenex or paper hankies available and if your nose is really sore from wiping and blowing, have a good scent free lotion or cream to keep the skin moist. 

If your cold is bad enough, please learn to stay home until you are feeling better.   Grab your favorite blanket and teddy bear and just rest.   Work will get along without you for a day or two.  Even your boss would rather see you at home, getting better, than coming in to work to make everyone else sick. 

Because the average cold is a virus related illness, there are no magic pills that will make you feel better.  Treating the symptoms is your only way to the road to recovery.  Drink lots of fluids to keep you hydrated.  Even if you lose your appetite, you should eat healthy meals.  Soups and stews are great comfort food and easy to down with a sore throat.  Taking a good multivitamin even when you are healthy is a good idea.  

If your cold seems to be getting worse instead of better, then you might want to give your doctor a call.  If you have problems breathing, pain in your chest, high fever or pain in your ears, then a trip to the doctor is a good idea.  Sometimes a simple cold can lead to other ailments that will require medical help.  

I hope that knowing the facts about colds and flu help you and your family get through the coming winter months! 

***Olivia is not a medical practitioner and this information is for your benefit.  If you are sick and not sure if it's a cold or a bacteria infection, call your doctor!


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Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Birds Butterflies and Bees in the Garden, What you Need to Know

How to successfully attract birds, bees and butterflies to your garden and enjoy them all season long!

Everyone that I know is so tired of winter.  Once the clocks have moved ahead for Daylight Savings Time, all of us are just counting down the days until we see those first signs of spring.
I have not yet had the delight of my first Robin or Blue Birds.  I know though that they will be coming very shortly.  And I am ready to welcome them all with some special treats that I know they will love.
birds, butterflies and bees in the garden, attracting wildlife, garden birds
Monarch Butterfly and bee on Asters
                                          

Three Basics That Are Essential

If you want the birds, bees and butterflies to come to your yard, you need to provide some of the things they will want.  
Like any other living creature, these little marvels of nature are looking for shelter, food and water.  Those are the essentials for any living being that you would care for.  Garden visitors are no different in that regard.  The only other thing that they may be looking for, would be a safe place to nest.  Trees and bushes are great for that!


Flowers are food!

Bees and butterflies and yes even the birds are looking for flowers to feed their appetites.  Pollen laden plants are a bee's best friend.  Butterflies and bees like nectar laden flowers too.  Birds are more attracted to seed heads that will come later in the year.  But they will use petals, and leaves to line their nests.  


Attracting different kinds of birds.

If you set out bird houses, you will certainly get some feathered friends calling your yard their home too.  Feeders for finches and hummingbirds will almost guarantee their arrival at your doorstep.  Plant the right kinds of flowers and you will have an abundance of these lovely little creatures to watch and enjoy.

Butterflies, birds  and bees will enjoy a bird bath.  The birds will splash around cooling themselves off in the heat of the summer, while the butterflies and bees will also stop for a drink and a little rest.  Butterflies and bees can also make use of the sugar water that is in your hummingbird feeders, so don't be surprised to see them there too. 

Having a place that is rich in flowers and shrubs with a few trees for their safety will make all of these creatures very happy to call your home, their home too!

Picking the flowers and shrubs to enhance your garden!

If you really want the butterflies, bees and birds in your garden, here is a list of some of the best ones to plant.

  1. Butterfly bush, as the name indicates is a magnet for many different types of butterflies, but they are also a magnet for hummingbirds too!
  2. Sunflowers, their flat heads are wonderful landing pads for all garden critters.
  3. Coneflowers will attract bluebirds, bees, and butterflies as well.
  4. ServiceBerry Bushes will attract cardinals, robins, cedar waxwings and more.
  5. Phlox is another great plant to attract birds and butterflies.

If you enjoy having these critters in the garden with you, make their lives easier by planting lots of the flowers that they love.  The list above is just a small sample of what plants are great to encourage wildlife in the yard.  It is by no means a complete list.  For that I refer to my book produced by Birds and Blooms Magazine.  


Gardening for Birds, Butterflies and Bees!



You can get your own right here! It is a great resource book and one that you can come back to and reference for future garden projects or additions.

You might also like to take up photography when you see how beautiful it is to have these creatures in your garden.  Mary Beth (another writer on Review This) shows us what it's like to take pictures and how to do it too!  You can check out her article right here: Bluebird Facts and Photography

Having a natural flower filled garden will surely bring you and all the visitors to your garden a lot of joy and happiness.  The colors and scents, along with all the activity will inspire you to enjoy the beauties of nature.

butterflies in the garden, attracting butterflies into the garden, garden flowers
Swallowtail Butterfly
attracting bees into the garden, garden bees, garden flowers
Bee with sunflower






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Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Excellent Gardening Advice from The Old Farmers Almanac

Gardening Advice


Gardeners are a wonderful bunch of people who just can't seem to get enough dirt under their fingernails and still have lots of fun. February and March are the months when their fingers get really itchy to be in that soil and moving it about!


Image by kmicican on Pixabay
Everywhere they look, they see the signs of spring to come.  Maybe the weather has had a few nice warm sunny, or there has been a small thaw.  The ground under the snow is peeking out and just teasing the heck out of all.  Most of us are tired of the winter and are ready to move on.  Then there are the gardeners who look out on that frozen wasteland and just know that in a few short weeks, everything will change for the better.


So What is a Gardener Supposed to Do Until Spring Arrives?

Well I know that I have been spending the last couple of days with the seeds that I have saved from last year's plants that I really loved.  I'm just checking that they are still looking good (they haven't got mold on them or rotted from being mishandled in the fall.  So far my seed stash is looking great.    The next thing that gets my attention is all my plant catalogues** from several different suppliers.
When I have exhausted all these lovely reminders of the season to come, I sit back and enjoy the musings from the Old Farmer's Almanac!


Wisdom, Planting Tips and Tricks,  and so much more!

For many years, the Farmer's Almanac has been a source of tips and tricks, planting advice and so much more. Every gardener I know has either heard about it (and really wants a copy)  or has a copy somewhere in their stash of garden related books.  If you have a gardener or two in your family, I know that this little desk calendar from the people at the Farmer's Almanac, would be an asset to them.  Filled with daily hints, facts, folklore and pictures of beautiful flowers, it will certainly brighten up a corner of their desk or workspace. What I love about these Calendars is that they are each so lovely and even though we are already into the year 2019, the dates that have already gone by, are still pretty to look at and have some interesting or funny anecdotes on them.  

Farmer's Almanac calendars are full of useful information too.  When to trim plants, moon phases and schedules for planting and replanting too.  This is one handy, beautiful and practical gift or just a necessary gardening tool like a new hoe or spade.  

Dreaming about what is to come is something Gardeners at this time of year can really excel at.  I know I have my visions  and dreams in place!

**Here are some handy links if you would like to receive some gardening catalogues:


In the USA:

40 Free Garden Seed Catalogues
https://www.almanac.com/content/garden-seed-catalogs-mail

In Canada:

Canadian Seed and Plant mail order Sources:

These are just a couple of links, you can "google" seed catalogues and come up with many more.  

The time to dream is now and in just a little while, your dreams will start to take shape.

Image by Hans on Pixabay






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Wednesday, December 26, 2018

December 26th, Time to Write a Thank You Day

Boxing Day Blues can sometimes strike when all the awaited  festivities are over.  

And they do seem to be over so quickly.  All the hustle and bustle of preparing for the BIG day gives way to feelings of let down and down right depression.  Knowing this before hand might just help you to get through those feelings and come out the other side with a new sense of wellbeing and a new purpose too.


thank you note, mental health, Christmas let down, coping mechanisms
Christmas time and all the build up to this holiday can make some people really "crazy".  There are all the lists for food, drink, presents, guests and so much more to attend to.  Then there is the cleaning and other preparations for the BIG day.  

By the time it arrives you are physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted.  And just when you think it's perfect, it's  over in a heartbeat.  

The let down can be so significant, that many mental health agencies start to prepare for the fall out early as well.  But it doesn't have to be this way if you do just a little more preparation for this amazing holiday gathering.

Having a plan in mind to help you cope with the let down will significantly make the holidays much happier.  To that end, I am going to make some suggestions that just might help you, or someone you love, get through that post holiday let down.

Today, on the Calendar of Days, is Write a Thank You Note day.  Now, you may not think this is a good idea, but I'm here to suggest it's a great way to relive the excitement, joy, and happiness of the Christmas gathering.  It will help you to capture what was really important and let go of the myriad of small disappointments that may have happened to make the day less than perfect.

After all, getting the family together and enjoying each other's company is the real beauty of Christmas.  The gifts and the food and everything else is secondary to just being together.  

Sitting down and writing a thank you, will let you put into words how much you enjoyed and appreciated all the efforts everyone made to make this Christmas special.  It really acts as a way to relive the excitement and the funny things that happened during the previous day.  

If that doesn't work for you there are many other ways to get through that post holiday letdown.  Here is my list of ways to do that and maybe you can add some of your own ideas.

  1. Write that Thank You note to someone who went out of their way to make the holiday special.
  2. Plan a trip to the zoo. Christmas antics aren't just for people.
  3. Arrange some time to go for a walk in the neighborhood to enjoy the lights, decorations and all the sights.
  4. Let yourself relax with a good movie or go out to a show.
  5. Invite someone you haven't seen in a while for coffee and a good chat.
  6. Go out and play in the snow (if you have any).  Bundle up with those new scarves, hats and mitts.
  7. Start a new hobby.  Scrapbooking, knitting, crocheting, drawing or woodworking.  Coloring pages are still a great way to relax too.  
  8. add your own ideas here.......

dealing with emotional let down, Christmas let down, emotional exhaustion 
All the expectations, disappointments and let downs seem to disappear when you have a plan in mind.  Just writing a note can help you get through that emotional build up of the past month.  Going out to park, zoo, or being with a good friend,  can give you a release for all the frustrations you may have felt or are still feeling.  It's hard to stay disappointed when you are at the zoo checking out all the Christmas treats the zookeepers have in store for the animals in their care.  Just watching the Polar Bears, penguins, monkeys and more,  get their treats can be a delight for your overworked body and spirit.  The walking and exercise are good for you too.  Too much food and drink can be the trigger to make some people feel cranky and "out of sorts".  Drinking water and walking can help undo all the overeating and indulgences that took place the day before.  If you can't do the exercise, then just sitting back and watching a favorite movie, with full permission to just enjoy it, can also revive the drooping spirits.  A new hobby will keep your mind and hands occupied while you try to figure out just what you are supposed to do. An active mind doesn't have time to dwell on things that didn't go as planned and that's a good thing.   

If this all fails, then you can always go to the internet and start planning something different, a vacation in the new year, places you want to see or books you want to read.  On Review This Reviews, you can find lots of book reviews, Do It Yourself projects, movie reviews and more.  I dare say you could spend the better part of a day just checking out all the articles and I'm sure you will find a few that will trigger some ideas of your own.  


The most important thing on December 26th is to relish and relive, enjoy and form the memories of the day before.  Writing that note may be the first step in some well deserved "self-care" that will keep you from drowning in some very powerful negatives that could be plaguing your spirits.  Don't let Christmas let-down, get you down.......there are plenty more good times coming your way. 

don't let Christmas let down get you down......coping mechanisms, depression,

**Olivia is not a health care specialist, if you are feeling down or depressed, please check out your local  health professionals.




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Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Are Your Ears Up for an AMAZING AUDIO REVIVAL?

Technophiles, audiophiles and all like minded people are realizing that old records have never sounded better!

Many changes have occured in the music industry over the years.  From the types of music that are being generated, and to the way we listen to it.

Music in my heyday was listened to on a small, possibly portable turntable.  We were not allowed to use the big "STEREO" in the living room.  That was our parent's domain.  Mine was all in one and had a couple of small speakers attached on either side.  I spent many hours listening to my favorite records on that turntable.  When I grew up I had a similar stereo like the one below, with really good speakers mounted on the walls.

I have seen the advent of many different portable listening devices and the changes in the way things are recorded.  I went from records with  speeds of 78 , 33 and 1/3 or 45's, to cassette tapes, 8 tracks and CD's.  Now you don't have to admit that you fully understand all of this.  ( You'll be giving away one of your best kept secrets if you do!)  Portable turntables all looked something like this:
vinyl record players, audio lovers, record revival

Now I have to tell you that in my house music is very important.  My husband is constantly playing something and I'm never sure what is going to come out of his music room.  One thing is certain, when the music is playing, the memories are also filling my mind of days long ago.  Every song brings a smile to my face and sometimes one or the other will bring a tear or two as well. 

Right now, we are busy cleaning records that we haven't listened to in a long time.  Most of the music we really love has been repurchased on CD's.  After all, we were lead to believe that this was the ultimate sound for any recordings.  I think we were wrong! It was a great marketing ploy.   After all everyone now was rebuying all their favorites in a new format.  The one truth about CD's is that they are much more portable than record players ever were.  So there is room for both formats in most people's homes.

Now this is where this review is going to get right down into the nitty gritty grooves!  One word of caution,  start doing this on a record that you really don't care too much about.  I don't want you to ruin your prized and priceless favorite record right from the start.

But, did you know that you could clean your old records in an easy and inexpensive way?  They will sound so much better than they ever did.  It's easy, doesn't require any special tools or talent and everyone can do it.  

The secret?   Carpenter's glue!  There are many different name brands that you can try, but make sure it's carpenters wood glue and not some "super glue".   There are many different brands of "wood glue", and the favorite seems to be the Titebond, but all of them work and none have been found to have an adverse effect on the records. 



Super glue will get you into all kinds of trouble. So let's not do that! In the pictures below you will see how easy it is to clean your old vinyl records, so that the sound coming out of the speakers is just the way it was recorded.  Full sounds that some CD's just can't match.

removing dust from record albums, glue removal of dirt from LP's,  new uses for carpenters glue
1. Glue spread out over record album.

carpenters glue, dust free records, new uses for carpenters glue, audio revival
2. My other half using his fingers to spread the glue over the record.

audio revival, record cleaning, carpenters glue new uses
3.  Records that have been treated, now drying!


new uses for carpenters glue, audio revival, LP's
4.  Dried glue being peeled off the record face.

5.  The negative "glue" of the album in its entirety.




That's how easy the process is. It takes about 8 hours to dry completely.  You can use a toothpick to carefully lift the glue at the edge and then slowly peel the rest of the dried glue away from the face of the record.


Now why would you do this? Old records get dusty. It was one of the reasons that records sometimes sounded so scratchy. When you do the glue treatment on your albums, the glue gets right down into the grooves of the records and lifts out any impurities (dust and dirt)  that may be lurking there. You don't have to do this everytime that you want to listen to a record! Get your favorites out (after a test run on another record you don't really care about) and give them a good cleaning. Then after listening to the difference, carefully place the record back in its dust cover. Store your records where they won't be affected by dust, dampness, sunlight and heat. Ours are in a rack, almost like the ones they had in the record stores at the time, and inside a closet. It's a nice cosy place for our favorites and every weekend you can hear the likes of The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Melanie and a few more playing in our wonderfully music filled home.  We love the scores from old musicals so have many of them on LP's as well.  So you know you'd be in for a treat musically, our records have never sounded better!



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