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

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.











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


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Wednesday, October 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!


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, 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






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, 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:
Stokes Seeds :


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






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 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.




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


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Wednesday, October 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!



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


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Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Cool Nights, Crafty Nights, How to Get Through the Fall

When Summer gives way to Fall, all of a sudden we find ourselves looking for ways to keep busy indoors instead of outdoors.  It seems the older I get the more I like the idea of hunkering down in the quiet comfort of my home.  Let's Review some ways to make this time productive and fun!

Looking back over the last few months I realize that I did not want to come indoors at all.  Summer was glorious this year, with warm sunny days and warm evenings too!  Alas, all good things must come to an end, especially when you live in the north!

Fall is a great time to get cracking on all those things you wanted to do but didn't.  Fall is also that gateway to all kinds of Holidays that require your time and talents. It's a wonderful time to try your hand at making something crafty too.  Decorating your space was never easier, with themes provided by the Holidays.  So to that end, we will start getting all our crafts in order! Or we will try something new!

hobbies, crafts, learn how to draw




Crafting gives our hands a chance to make something unique and beautiful.  It lets us express some of our hidden talents.  We see something we like and we just know that we could do that too!  So when we are indoors instead of running around outside, we can sit and give our hands a chance to make something that we have never done before.

Halloween and Thanksgiving are great times to try our hands at crafty ideas. We could start by  making special goodie bags for the children that visit our door on Halloween night.  If you have a little more time, maybe we could make something a little more personalized for our family who will visit during Thanksgiving.
Both of these holidays can launch us onto a new hobby.

Now unless you are reviving a hobby that you once invested in, I would not suggest that you go all out and purchase all the items you might be needing for a new hobby.  Head to your nearest  Dollar Tree! It's a great place to start a new hobby and you can do it on-line.  You just never know what you will find there that will twig an idea!  There are hundreds of items available that you might be able to use to fuel your creative genius.  From yarns, to paints, beads, canvases and findings, you know you will have a great time picking out the things that will be transformed under your hands.  Don't spend a lot of money on a craft or hobby until you are sure it is something that you will continue to do.  

There are a great number of "How To" books that will walk you through all stages of a new hobby.  Knitting, crocheting, leatherwork, macrame, rug hooking, drawing and so many more hobbies can be learned through the pages of a great How To book!  I've chosen just  a few to get you started.  There are also many You Tube videos that will give you a "working" look at how to make some things.  I guess what I'm saying is that your indoor time during these upcoming cold months can be productive and fun.  You just might find that you have a talent for a certain hobby. 



I have several writer friends right here on the REVIEW THIS team, that are so talented they have their own ETSY  shops, where they turn their hobbies into a small business.  All the contributors here are passionate about some form of hobby!  Greeting Cards, knitting, crocheting, photography it's all covered by our contributors.

If you don't feel inclined to make things yourself,  I would suggest that shopping at the Etsy Mall will help you find something beautiful, hand made and will help to support someone who is working hard to make things beautiful.   

crafts, hobbies, learn how to make anything





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Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Amazing Things to Do Between Christmas and New Years Day

One of my Favorite times of year is Christmas, but once it's over you can feel let down.  So let's Review Ways to keep that after Christmas Depression at bay!

If your family is anything like mine, the days leading up to Christmas have been full of all kinds of trips, errands to run, parties to attend and a host of other fun and time consuming activities.  Depending on the ages of your children or grandchildren, there will also be more than one Christmas recital to attend as well.
This is not a complaint, but, it is a reality.  We get so wound up with places to go and people to see, that when it stops, we feel lost!  Some of us will only feel that way after the New Year because we are still in the middle of all the partying still.  Others, who do not go "all out" for New Years will feel that way sooner.
The bottom line is, it doesn't have to be this way at all!

Part of your planning for the holidays should include that time between the holidays, so that holiday let down is minimized or completely obliterated.  No one really wants to be depressed at the best time of the year. 
christmas party, depression, let down, emotional times, familySo let's make those plans now!  If the plan is in place,  you will actually follow through.  

So let's get down to some concrete ways to stave off any negative feelings.

First of all, if you have family visiting, make arrangements to go somewhere on an outing.
  • visit the downtown area and look over the lights and Christmas Displays
  • Go sledding or skating, if your body allows that kind of seasonal fun.
  • Make Snow Angels (with the above caveat)
  • Go to a park with a handful of bird seed, for those birds who don't have a feeder close by
  • Pick up some small gift cards for a coffee shop and give them to "Street People" to enjoy
  • Visit a local church and see their Nativity Displays
  • take lots of pictures while out and about
  • when you come home, make some Hot Chocolate and watch a favorite movie
  • Be Thankful for the Blessing of Family and Friends.
Between Christmas and New Years is a great time to make some plans for the next year too!  Many a lively conversation could be had over those plans.  Will you make resolutions for 2018?  Will you decide to travel more or less?  How about making a resolution to get together with friends more often?  It is a great idea to look forward, but also take some time to look back and be thankful for all the good things that happened in the year just past.  

gratitude, family, visits, make plans
When the hustle and bustle has come to a standstill, it's no longer a dreaded fear, rather it's a time to take stock.  Look ahead at what might be coming your way, and look back to see where you have been.  If things weren't the greatest, find ways to make this year to come, better.  If the year past was wonderful all around then celebrate this wholeheartedly, and pray that the year to come will be as blessed as the one just past.  Gratitude for everything is a great way to live.  You don't become nearly as disappointed and you really don't let yourself become engrossed in the things you have no control over either.  

Start taking note of things you are thankful for and try to do something new in the coming year.

If you need help thinking of all the things to be grateful for, there are several different types of journals that can give you some coaching either in pictures or scriptures.  One of my favorites is the one:


If you don't have a gratitude journal, a blank book works well too. Sometimes though in our busy lives, we need a hint of encouragement and for that a true gratitude journal is a bonus. Each page will give you a little inspiration to get you started with the right attitude. If you are not a particularly spiritual person, there are journals that remind you of gratitude without scriptural readings. Whichever one is to your liking, will be a good choice and they are inexpensive.  Maybe Santa brought you one, but if not that's okay too.  You can always get your own when you feel the need for it.  It will be an investment in yourself, for your mental and physical and spiritual well being.

May I take this opportunity to wish you and all your family a most Beautiful, Blessed and Wonderful New Year!
gratitude, holidays, cheer, new year, thankfulness

pictures courtesy of Pixabay.com






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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Skeletons in the Closet, Life is Unfair

My Secret Sister: Jenny Lucas and Helen Edwards' Family StoryMy Secret Sister: Jenny Lucas and Helen Edwards' Family Story
It seems to me that many people use the quote "Life is Unfair" in a very flippant way! Usually when they don't get their own way about things. In the True Life story titled My Secret Sister, this quote really means what it says. I'd like to share this book with you and some thoughts of mine along the way, come along on my Review of My Secret Sister.


Jenny and Helen

Let's be clear, this is an autobiography of two women, who only recently became aware of each other. Their stories are on the opposite ends of the spectrum. Jenny Lee Smith and Helen Edwards only found out about each other recently. Through lots of lies, half-truths, and wanton disregard for their feelings, these two sisters are finally putting all of the questions about themselves and each other to rest. They are busy making up for 44 years of searching that finally brought them together.


Background

Jenny:
Jenny Lucas had a charmed life. Oh she wasn't born with a silver spoon in her mouth, but her parents doted on her and she was the center of their universe.  The only child in a family where mom and dad were on the "older" side, she was the apple of their eye.  When her father took up golfing, he brought his daughter along and taught her how to golf too.  He even made her the very first golf clubs she used because she was only a little more than a toddler. Golf became her driving ambition. She was such a natural with the clubs and it gave her precious time with her father, whom she adored. When her father died, she really felt lost.  Cleaning up after his death, Jenny comes across a birth certificate.  It's the first inkling that she has about the possibility that she is not who she thought she was.  Not wanting to hurt her mother, she files this information away.  

Helen: 
Helen on the other hand was abused physically, mentally and emotionally most of her life. Her mother and father were either hateful, selfish and self centered at any given time. If any of those two characteristics came together at once, Helen paid the ultimate price for their mental state. Always told she was at fault for any and every turn of bad luck, she quickly learned to steer clear of her parents or do their bidding, whatever that may have entailed. Beatings at the hand of her father were not uncommon and her mother would just watch in a state of indifference, lest she also become a target of his rage.  Helen has an older half-brother who doesn't live at home anymore, but comes around trying his best to save Helen from his step father's wrath.  He is her "knight in shining armor." 

For years these two girls each wanted a sister, a confidant, to share their stories, troubles and tribulations with. Each in their own way was longing for some sense of belonging that wasn't being fulfilled in their own lives.  It would be years though before they would find each other.
I don't want to give away too much of the story, but want to encourage you to read it. 
my secret sister, siblings, sisters and friends,  family secrets
There is nothing like having a sister in your life.


Insights from my perspective:

If you know of anyone who is adopted, or if you are part of a circle of "Family Secrets", I want you to understand that those secrets can be very destructive and divisive.  They hurt people who are looking for answers.  If someone in your family comes to you with questions and they are old enough to know the answers, I would encourage you to talk to the parents, but if they are no longer alive, then tell them the truth.  Don't sugar coat the truth, don't make excuses, don't embellish the story, just tell them what you know to be truth.  

I am so grateful for the opening up of adoption records, so that children who want to know about their birth parents have that opportunity.   It doesn't mean that everything will be rosy and perfect, there is no such state in life, but it gives the person seeking answers, a hope that could fill in a lot of blanks.

From my own experience, I have an adopted grandson and I'm so thrilled that he is in our lives. He came to us at 2 days old.  He knows he's adopted and he also knows that we love him dearly. When and if he wants to know more he will be told the truth by his parents (my daughter and son-in-law).

 I also have a niece that was given up for adoption 40 plus years ago.  We (our whole extended family) became reunited 3 years ago.  It was a most joyous celebration of lost family, found. She was able to express to her birth mother that she was happy, and the birth mother had a hole in her heart filled. We have her in our lives again and it's wonderful. 

Unwanted pregnancies are as old as time itself.  It is high time that we take the stigma off of being born "out of wedlock" or "not wanted" and realize that when children are given up for adoption, the mother and/or father are trying to make the best decisions for their child.  They should be applauded for understanding that they may not be equipped to be the best parents, but they should also be ready to possibly meet that child again when they are all grown up.

My Secret Sister was not an easy book to read, maybe because of our family dynamic.  In the end, there is still longing and heartbreak, but there is also hope and joy.  It was a very interesting and enlightening book!

Picture from Pixabay.com





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Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Let's Review The Best Proven Seed Saving Practices

Summer is coming to an end and already we (gardeners) are looking forward to next year's gardens. Let's Review what happened in the garden this year and the best way to keep seeds for next years masterpiece.   Looking at what we have  growing now , gives us the opportunity to analyse what worked in the garden and what didn't.



Every gardener I know has some complaints about the plants or vegetables that have made their garden home for the last few months.  We are never completely satisfied with our results!  I think the gardener's motto must be something like:  Next Year The Garden will be Perfect!

Alas, that year has never happened for me and if I know most (humble) gardeners would say the same thing. Even the most perfect garden seems to fall short, somewhere.  Let's not dwell on that, let's look for ways that we can improve what we have.

Garden Journal

Hopefully you have been keeping a "Garden Journal".   What's a Gardening Journal?   Simply put, this is a book of your choice, where you note how your plants are growing, flowering, and going to seed.  You can also add information like what kind of pest problems they have encountered or how much watering they require.  Where they were planted, ie:  Full Sun, Partial Sun, Afternoon sun etc.  If you want to be really technical, you can also take note of other garden issues.  What plants go well together and which combinations were not as effective as you would have liked.  How well they flowered and so on.  The details of each plant and how it fared in your garden, are completely up to you. The garden journal I have shown you in the Amazon listing is great for filling in all kinds of details.  But, you can also do this with a simple plain lined notebook.

Finding the Seeds

If you go out in your garden you have to find the seeds.  If you are saving flower seeds, you will have to look where the flowers are and look at the base.  It helps if you have a little knowledge of plant biology.  You don't have to be a scientist, but it will make finding the seeds easier if you know where to look.


A Beginner's Guide to Flower Structure  


Every flower has the same "basic" structure in that there is the flower, inside is the pistil and stamens (these are the important parts when it comes to seed production) and underneath there is the sepals/calyx to hold the flower all together.  Let's see if a picture can make it easier to understand. The first picture is a jasmine blossom.  The petals of the flower are white.  Internally you can see the stamens and pistil.  If you look at the flower facing away from the camera, you will see the sepals/calyx.  Bees or other insects come and rub against the stamens to collect the pollen that they produce.  When the insect is leaving the flower, it may rub against the pistil and that will trigger seed production.  This is the basic way seeds are produced and if you'd like a little more in depth breakdown of the Parts of a Flower you can watch this short but precise You Tube Video: Parts of a Flower
Jasmine Flowers showing Basic Flower Parts


Poppy Flower Pods Center one is ripe and the two on either side are not quite ready yet.
In this picture you see the seed pods of a poppy flower.  The tallest one is ripe, you can see that there are little holes under the "cap". Tilting this stem will make the poppy seeds pour out.  The other two pods in this picture still need to mature a little longer.  Once they show signs of the little holes, they too will pour out their seeds easily. Poppy seeds are small round and black or dark brown.  Each seed pod has thousands of poppy seeds within.  It is one of the most prolific seed producers.


Storing the Seeds

So now that you know where to look for your seeds, we need to store them until spring.  This is an important part of the whole exercise.  If you don't store the seeds properly, they may turn moldy and rot.  Then when spring comes you will be left with buying seeds again.  So let's not do that.  Let's store our seeds so that when spring arrives, we will have plenty of seeds for our wonderful garden of 2018.

Seeds can be stored in a variety of ways.  I personally like envelopes that are opaque.  They let you see the seeds within the packets so that you know right away that they are not rotting.  If you place your seeds in plastic bags, any moisture will remain contained and could adversely affect the seeds within.  Some of my gardening friends keep their seeds in old pill bottles.  That works too, so long as the seeds are really dry when they are placed inside.  Always use clean containers that will be labelled with the name of the plant on the outside.  Again I like to use envelopes because I place them into my Garden Journal along with the notes about that particular plant. Make sure you label your envelopes with the flower's name, color, and any other information you might want to keep.

If you are using a different method of storage, whether old pill containers or small jars, again, make sure you label them.  Keep all your seed filled containers in a nice box for easy storage.   You think you will remember what seeds  you put into each jar or pill bottle, trust me, you will not remember. It's much easier to do it NOW! 


Cool and Dark and Dry

Now that you have all your seeds nicely categorized and labelled clear out a nice dark and cool space to keep your journal or container of seeds.  Make sure it's a nice dry spot too.  We don't want to disturb our seeds during the months that they will be sleeping.  We just want to ensure that when the right time comes (spring of 2018) they will be more than ready to do their magic.  


Seed Collecting is Fun

Seed collection is fun, but it is also a great way to educate your children and grandchildren.  With all the talk about Genetically modified seeds and plants, you know that you can have your own supply of seed that is not modified and will grow.  Heirloom seeds are making the news all the time.  You can start your own heirloom seeds if you follow the instructions you find here.  This Review is about flower seeds mostly, but the same principles can apply to vegetables too.  That is why I included some books for your reading pleasure. Vegetable seeds need a little more attention when it comes to collecting, preparing and storing them.  Please do yourself a favor and do some reading, I don't want you to be disappointed with your results.  

Beginners will want to start with seeds that are easy to find.  Here's a whole bunch that will start you off on the right foot!

  • poppies
  • Four O'Clocks
  • snapdragons
  • moss roses or portulaca
  • marigolds
  • cosmos
  • morning glories
  • bleeding hearts

Please let me know in your comments if you are planning to do some seed collecting and what types of seeds you will be adding to your "stash".  I'm always interested in knowing more about other people's gardens.  




**all pictures are from Pixabay.com 










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