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

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

When is the Best Time to Learn Something New? September Sewing Month

September is Sewing Month and a Great Time to Learn Something New!

Fall Season has arrived and the evenings are getting so much cooler that spending lots of time outdoors isn't quite as appealing as it was in July.  So what are you going to do with all those evening hours?

If Television isn't your thing, then learning a new craft just might be.  I know I love to keep my hands busy and sewing is one of the ways I do just that.
                                                  
Image by Larisa Koshkina from Pixabay

Now, I must admit to you that sewing had been a big part of my life.  Before my retirement I was a designer/dressmaker for many, many years.

I was taught the craft by my mother, and by several courses taken from my early teens and beyond.  Each course building on what was taught previously.  

My grandfather used to say, "Learn something that you can do with your hands so that if need be, you would have a "job" using your talents. No one can take that away from you."    I think he was pretty wise with those thoughts.

Sewing is a talent that everyone can develop if they have the will to do so.  I know my very first attempts at learning how to sew, were used to make my room, mine.  I loved pillows and crazy colors.  So with my need to personalize, my mother wisely let me choose some fabrics that I loved and encouraged me to experiment with her sewing machine.  Of course I had her help (I was only seven or eight years old at the time). 

My point is that if a child shows a willingness to learn something, we as parents or grandparents can help them along by imparting our knowledge to them.  Arts of any kind require an inquisitive mind.  Children are always curious about all kinds of things.  It's a great time to teach and have fun without pressure!  At the same time, our kids learn that originality and creativity can go hand in hand in many different ways.  

While sewing and sewing skills are geared more for girls, I think that boys should have the ability to learn too, if they are so predisposed to do so.  Many of our esteemed fashion designers are men!

To help with this avenue for creativity, there are several kits available that girls and boys may find interesting.  I like these two for a starting point.  Pictures feature both girls and boys making and sewing their own creations.


The first book is geared to teaching some hand sewing techniques, while the second book includes the use of a sewing machine as well.  Depending on your children's motor skills and how well they can handle each task, you may like one better than the other.  **I will add a caution hereParents and/or Grandparents should be able to sit with the children while they are making these items.  There are sharp instruments involved and extra precautions should also be in place.**

If they are new to sewing, start with the first book and then when they have mastered or expressed that they really like this kind of craft, you can move to the second in the series.

Who knows if you will be the one to spark a new hobby, that could lead to much bigger and more beautiful creations.  

What started out as a pillow in my case ended up with me designing and executing some beautiful gowns, dresses, suits and so much more.  I made a nice living doing something that I enjoyed and also gave pleasure to my many customers over the years.

You never know the power you have to guide and form a new designer, they could end up on Making the Cut! (Our own Tracey, did a review on this show and it is quite a revelation in how many got started in the sewing and tailoring business)

Children love to learn new concepts and this is one that they can take with them into adulthood.  Mending and remaking clothes for the budget conscious may just become a "vogue" idea again.  Our days of "throw away everything" have got to stop.  Who knows where and when these skills will be put into practice as our children grow.  One thing is certain, there will always be a need for clothes and if you learn how, you can become quite a master!


I went from Pillows and Bedroom Decor to making beautiful gowns like this one!  Just one gown from my archives!  This was for a graduation and it's still one of my favorites.

Whatever you do, don't underestimate the joy that spending quality time with your children and grandchildren can have.  It will be memories for you and for them and teach them a really important life skill.  




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Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Why are Teddy Bears the Best Gift Ever?

According to the Days of the Year.com, September 9th is Teddy Bear Day!  It's coming up soon, so you have time to get ready!

Now I just have to ask, "Who doesn't Love Teddy Bears?"


Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

In our family Teddy Bears have always played an important role.  Starting with my Uncle, who has in excess of 80+ bears in his collection, and my Mother-In-Law who collected bears for many years right down to our grandchildren who have their favorite bears, we are a teddy bear loving family.

When you hear that someone is expecting a baby, one of the first things that baby will receive as a gift is a Teddy Bear.  Everyone always loves to give that Teddy a squeeze or two before it goes home with the new baby, you just can't help yourself.

What makes these bears so lovable?

Let's start with a bit of history!  Teddy Bears got their first real stroke of fame after 1902!
Then, President Theodore Roosevelt, refused to kill a bear while on a visit to a Natural Area in Mississippi!  They had chained a bear so that it would be an easy kill for him.  The President refused to shoot him.  A toy maker in New York, loved the story so much, he made a toy bear and asked the President's permission to name him "Teddy".    Hence the first Teddy Bears bore the name "Teddy" in his honor.

Fast forward to today, we are still in love with this icon of a toy!  In fact I don't know a single child who hasn't had a teddy bear somewhere in his life.  

It's a great toy for either boys or girls and sometimes even for the young and the young at heart.  When we were in Jasper (Alberta, Canada) last year, the only thing my uncle wanted was a Teddy Bear!
We didn't fail in our attempt to bring him one either.  The Jasper National Park had a Gift Center and Teddy Bears (Black Bears) were there!   The purchase helped raise money for on going Naturalist Programs in the National Park.  So we purchased a bear and felt good that we were fulfilling two wishes with the one purchase.    

There isn't a celebration anywhere that can't be enhanced by the addition of Teddy Bears!

Baby Showers, Gradations, Weddings have all been settings where Teddy Bears have had a place.  

Even in hard times, Teddy Bears can make life easier, especially for children.  I know my own granddaughter took her Teddy "Alfie" with her when she needed her appendix removed.  Having his comfy, stuffed body close to hers made going to the hospital a little more "bearable".   The nurses at the hospital even had a tiny hospital gown for the bear!




There is something about their plump, plush bodies that seem to give comfort to an ailing child.  Many a child has used their bears as a "confidante" or a reading mate.  Children are even encouraged to bring their favorite Bears to school.  Show and Tell time would be pretty dull without at least a bear or two. Even riding in the car is more fun when you share your Car Seat with your favorite friend.



The Police and Ambulance workers in our city carry Teddy bears with them on patrols!  If a child is in need of comfort, there is a Teddy Bear ready and willing to be with the child in need.  Traumas can come in many different places and the Teddy Bears are there just waiting to help.  One size Bear fits all!  

Social workers use Teddy Bears with children in some very hard and dark places in their little lives.  The children seem to relate to the bears and will tell them all kinds of things that they may not tell an adult.  To many children, their teddy bears are their best friends!

September 9th this year is Teddy Bear Day.  Why not have a great Teddy Bear Picnic at your house for all your furry, fluffy and stuffy bears (and whatever other animals you have)!  Invite the Grandchildren to bring theirs along too!  

You can then tell them the story of the Teddy Bears Picnic and if you still have time for some fun, put on the music too!  

If you are really interested in Teddy Bears as a collectible (and some are) then you could invest in a book. 



 The Teddy Bear Encyclopedia is one book that we had purchased for my Mother In Law when she was setting out to collect her bears.  She knew everything there was to know about what made them collectible or not.  This book is a great resource for everything you could want to know about Teddy Bears!  I bet you didn't know there was such a book!

My own collection of Teddy Bears is pretty neat I think.  Inherited from my mother-in-law is the one Steiff Bear, he's little, but oh so lovely!  Steiff Bears are definitely collectibles and are easily known by the "button" you find in his left ear!  If you buy one of these for your children, do not remove that stud!  You can find  out more about Steiff Bears right here!  Some of the bears pictured below are from my own childhood and they still live with me. 



Teddy Bears have all kinds of facial expressions and sometimes it\s hard to find that one that just speaks to your heart.  This bear is an Amazon Favorite.  He just has so much character in his face and the size of the bear is just perfect for little kids and bigger ones too!

Philbin as this bear is known, is the same one my granddaughter has, she renamed him CoCo!  I love the character that comes through his facial features.  He just is so much cuter in person (so to speak)!  He's soft and squishy, molds easily to a little ones face or body and is just cuddly.  He's one popular bear for those reasons and more.

Of course there are also many hand made Teddy Bears that are also special in their own way.  Someone took the time to craft a bear just for you!  It is a "one of a kind" and will always be that.  How special could your next Teddy Bear gift be?

One of our contributors here at REVIEW THIS REVIEWS, makes hand made bears and other animals all available at her Etsy Shop, just click the link  CoastalCrochet Crafts !  I'm sure Miss Elf (as she's known here) would only be too happy to send you one of her "special bears".  

There are many days in the year dedicated to celebrating Teddy Bears and I love to celebrate often.  It certainly has made 2020 more enjoyable.  Teddies don't worry about spreading anything but love!










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, August 19, 2020

Vacuum Packing Made Easy-One Great Kitchen Tool!

Vacuum packing is not new, but it is a wonderful tool to have in your kitchen. ~ A Product Review




If 2020 has taught us anything, it's that nothing stays the same!  While the world is healing slowly, we
are left with finding ways to make our budgets go further.  I don't know if you have noticed, but food prices are on the rise again.  

For my family that means buying vegetables and fruits when they are in season.  You get twice the bang for your buck by doing this.  First you get the freshest of fruits and vegetables and because they are in season, the price usually reflects the abundance, by being much lower than when imported.

I prefer to go out and shop at my local farmer's markets, or when I visit my Sister's family, we make a trip out to the St. Jacob's Market, in St. Jacob's Ontario.  This is a great place to visit for a day trip or if you live close by, to shop at!  You know you are supporting local farmers and the Mennonite Community as well. (I digress!)

We try to buy our vegetables when the season is high.  They are the freshest and tastiest vegetables that you could ever want.  Picked at the perfect time and very cost effective, you just know you are getting nature's best.  But, if you don't have a way to keep them, all that goodness is missed.



With our new Vacuum Sealer, we can purchase more of these vegetables and bring them home.  My husband and I sit and clean, divide and package the goodness either the same day or the day after.  Once they are all vacuum packed, they go into the freezer.  Summer fresh goodness is ours even in the middle of winter.

We don't stop at the fruits and vegetables though.  When we go to market, there are many farmers who make homemade sausages. Some farmers have,  cattle, chickens, pigs and lambs.  Yes we love our meats!  There is a real pleasure involved in bringing home the freshest, grain fed, and antibiotic free meats.  You know you are eating the finest quality foods available.

With our Vacuum Sealer, we separate our meats into family (for us it's two) sized portions. Some of the  Roasts and chicken get treated with spices and then packaged. 


When it's time for dinner, out comes a package and while it is defrosting it is also marinating in the spices.  We save a lot of prep time, by having everything already put together.

Our Vacuum Sealer is getting a really good workout. We have a roll of freezer sleeves, that can be custom sized so there is no waste in the plastic.  It is entirely up to you how small or how big you make your bags.  The sealer seals both ends, one before you fill and one after you have filled the bag to your liking.  Then you have the choice of just bagging it and sealing it, or bagging and vacuum sealing.  Both are options.



This is the exact model that we have purchased and we are delighted with the ease in operation.  We spend a day or so with the prepping, but once it's done, we can relax and just enjoy. 

When we purchased our Vacuum Sealer we also purchased extra rolls of plastic because we knew that we would be making great use of this new addition to our kitchen.  This Sealer is so much better than plastic wraps and easier to use too.  We have even frozen leftovers for use at a future date.  

Now, just a word of caution, you still need to prepare your vegetables like you would normally do.  Wash them, blanch them and then pack them into the freezer.  It couldn't be easier than that.

If you are a baker, then you will love this sealer too!  Bake breads and buns, some for today and some for a later date.  Freeze them and when you are ready, it's like you just baked them that day.


I don't like clutter in my kitchen, and have found that many gadgets are "extra" stuff.  However, I would highly recommend that you think about getting one of these Sealers!  If you are interested in saving money,  buying food that is fresh and wholesome, even freezing your herbs, then you won't be disappointed.  Gardeners will love this Sealer!  When the cabbages, cauliflower, broccoli and your other vegetables are ready, there will be no waste!  Use what you can and freeze what you can't!  This really is a winner in my books.






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Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Totally Natural Healthy Ways to Increase Your Garden's Growth - A Garden Review


It's mid-summer and everyone who has a garden is starting to reap the rewards of their spring labor.  Now I must confess, I did not do a whole lot of back breaking labor.  I live on the 18th floor of an apartment building and digging in the ground is not an option for me.  So I have three Rubbermaid Tubs on my balcony.  These are my "garden" and that is my space to grow my tomatoes and cucumbers.  




Don't go feeling sorry for me, I like it this way.  I gave up my "home garden" a few years ago, but missed my fresh tomatoes so much, I had to find a way to grow some higher up.  

When we first moved into the apartment, I tried to grow tomatoes in smaller pots (10 inch diameter), I would water, feed (with fertilizer) and talk to them daily.  I was somewhat successful that first year.  My husband would eat his balcony fresh tomato and say, "that was a lot of work for this tomato, you can buy them cheaper at the farmer's markets now that they are in season!"  

He was right, the first year, even though I did my best at caring for these plants, they did not produce anything that would have made a gardener's heart go pitter-patter!  Our garden produced a few tomatoes that we did enjoy, but overall we were disappointed.

Fast Forward to today:  My balcony garden has been expanded (no more little pots) and I have found the secret (I think it's the difference between the first year and now) to keeping my garden happy, healthy and producing more fruits than ever before.  


So do you want to Know What Made the Difference?

As a gardener (we share what works and what doesn't work) I will tell you!  I have NOT used one ounce, tablespoon, teaspoon or any other measuring device, of fertilizer this year!  Yet, I have already picked, eaten and enjoyed at least 10 cucumbers since the beginning of July, and countless cherry tomatoes!

As you can see in the picture above and the ones below, there is no lack of little tomatoes for us to enjoy in the next little while.



Our balcony garden has been prolific in producing these cherry tomatoes for our enjoyment.  I attribute it all to the help I have procured for my containers.  The "help" is totally organic, pesticide free, natural and abundant.

What is this help that I keep mentioning? 

Red Wigglers (they get all the credit)  have made all the difference in my containers this year.  

As I mentioned earlier, I have used NO chemical fertilizers in my containers this year.  A dear friend of mine (Cheri Kochir Salt (owner and operator of  Mobius8Organics.) and I have been trying our best to minimize our carbon footprint on the earth.  Many people are interested in doing this and have no idea where to start.  If you are a gardener, you could start right here.
 
In many discussions with her, I found that red wigglers can make all the difference in the world to your gardens (whether in the ground proper or in a container). Helping the earth to renew, means (for me anyways) not adding any extra chemicals and getting rid of organic wastes, without adding to landfills.  

When you have red wigglers in your containers you can do both of these things.  Red Wigglers love to eat all your organic waste (peels, cores, egg shells, coffee grounds, tea bags and even your paper products).  Yes you should read that list again (and it's just a small list, there is much more they could eat if you have an outdoor garden and compost heap.)
These are just a few of my "Red Wiggler" family, who are enjoying their home on my balcony!  I have uncovered them for you to see how these guys and gals (actually worms are both male and female scientifically known as hermaphrodites) work.  Their home usually looks more like this picture below:

Red Wigglers and earthworms in general do not like the light!  They work best in a dark, damp environment.  So, I make sure that they are happy by covering the soil surface with damp cardboard or my weekly newsprint flyers!  You can also see coffee filters with the coffee grounds still in them on the surface of the soil.  My worms, like myself,  seem to love coffee.......

Now the only absolute must that you have to maintain is a certain level of moisture in your containers.  You cannot let them dry out, or your earthworms will dehydrate and die as well.  So far in my experimentation this year, that has not been a problem.  I water regularly and sometimes the rain helps too.  My worms seem to be happy and multiplying without any further help from me.  

What do these worms do that makes the garden grow so well?

Earthworms and red wigglers in particular are prolific at eating  organic waste.  When they eat this waste, the worms then expel the waste(worm poop) and if your garden is in a container, this waste becomes part of the soil composition. Vermicomposting is the "proper name" for working with worms in the garden.  For you homesteaders who are looking for a cottage industry growing  worms and selling Red Wigglers for both fishermen and farmers is a growing industry (no pun intended).  Once you have your vermiculture set up, there is nothing more for you to do!  

The worms will provide you with deep rich soil, full of nutrients and depending on how you set yourself up, you may even have worm compost tea to feed your plants.  This worm tea (my version) is the best fertilizer you could ever want.  It's rich in nutrients, has no odor and your plants will thrive. This worm compost tea won't burn the roots of your plants either.  I have a set up on my balcony that allows me to enjoy collecting this worm tea and if you are interested you can do this too. 

Behind the picture of my worm tea, you can see my garden tower.  It has 50 different pockets to plant and a nice tower in the center to add organic waste without disturbing your plants.  There is a drawer at the bottom which collects all the extra water and worm tea (again my version).  The castings remain in the tower for your plants to thrive on.  You can watch a video here and see the difference between this and other vertical gardening options: Garden Tower 2 Project

There will be no need for Chemical fertilizers!  Chemical fertilizers, if they are incorrectly mixed  can sometimes do more harm than good.  Save yourself the time and trouble by using an Earth Friendly Natural Way to fertilize your plants. I know that this has made the difference between my first attempts at gardening 18 stories up and this year's attempt!  We've had a great year so far and I'm sure it will continue to prosper and grow well into the fall.

If you want to know more about Vermiculture or Worm Farming there are several really good websites and YouTube Videos that you can watch. 
Basic Vermicomposting or 
How to Compost are just two of the really good sites to learn from. 

If you want to get started you will need a good bin.  I use these ones for both growing my garden and I will use these for my worm farm too! 

My own experiment will continue in the fall as I try to bring my worms indoors so they won't freeze over the winter months.  I will let you know how it goes come spring of 2021.
 
Stay tuned there is more good sound ecological information coming up!



***All of the pictures in this Post are from my balcony garden, taken August 4, 2020.  




 




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Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Awesome Solar Lights set the Mood Beautifully - A Product Review

Summertime and the Living is Easy!

During the warm months of the year, it's really nice to be able to spend as much of that time as possible outdoors.  The lovely evenings are just so nice with warm breezes blowing and all the lovely scents and sounds of summer filling the air.  With a little bit of planning, you can make your backyard into an evening wonderland.  The addition of Fairy Lights in the trees, around the fence and over a pergola will allow you to enjoy that outdoors for hours after the sun goes down.



If you have taken the time to really make your space beautiful and useful, I'm sure that you would have added some fairy lights to your space.  My niece loves her fairy lights and has made their pool area and the kids play area like a magical place to be.  There is enough light to keep the kids swimming well after the sun has gone down.  With this summer of 2020 being one of the hottest so far, the kids are enjoying the added time they have in the water.





Wonderful, Beautiful and Economical Solar Lights

Years ago we would never have thought to add this kind of lighting anywhere. You would have to have a power source installed.  And then it was just too expensive to plug all those lights in.  Just think of the added costs when Christmas rolls around and the decorations are all up, the difference in the Hydro bills was sometimes staggering.  

Well, that is not a problem anymore.  Solar technology has come a long way in making outdoor lighting not only beautiful and functional, but it is affordable too.  LED lights make them bright and most important, they are waterproof.  So it doesn't matter if they get wet!   The initial cost is in purchasing the lights.  Once you have them, there is no further cost involved anymore.  The only thing you have to think about is placing the solar panel somewhere where the sun will shine on it for at least 6 to 8 hours a day.  The longer the sunshines on the solar panel, the longer the lights will glow into the night.  Mine usually turn on about 8:45 in the evening and they are still lit at 4:30 in the morning.  

You don't even have to buy all your lights at the same time.

If you are on a budget, then buy one or two strings of these solar lights at a time.  Whatever you can afford, and then the following year purchase another couple of sets.  Depending on how much light you want in your yard, you may stop with just one string.  If you are truly an outdoorsy type in the summer, you may opt for many more.  My niece and her family, spend all their evening outdoors, so they have outfitted their area with lights so that the kids can go swimming right into the wee hours.  After all it is summer and school is out!  

As you can see from these pictures, her home is done with all white fairy lights, but they also come in colors. The colored lights have programs attached so that they can fade, or twinkle on and off, or run like a billboard.  You choose how you want the lights to act.    

Fairy lights can even make the garden path glow!  You can take a walk through the grass and check for nightlife in the flower beds. Moths love the fairy lights, coming out and enjoying them as well.   Pets sure don't mind having their yard lit up!  You might even appreciate that you can check where your dogs or cats are and if there are any unwanted critters about!  Having your yard lit up can save you the trouble of giving Fido a Skunk bath!  Skunks are nocturnal, so beware.  Fairy lights on the Patio are wonderful when you have company.  No more trying to see each other in the dark.  You can still bring out some candles for ambiance if you wish, but the fairy lights themselves would be enough.

Let your imagination run wild and stir up some interest in the great outdoors!  Even after the kids have gone to bed, it's nice to take a glass of wine, some cheese and crackers and just wind down under the magic of the fairy lights and the stars.  It's a great way to relax your mind and body!

For myself personally, the only other thing I would add to my enchanting backyard, would be a nice wireless speaker playing some soft music. You can use your playlist from your phone, tablet, Amazon Music and so much more on them.   Tracey from ReviewThisReviews.com had a great wireless speaker featured you can read her review here: OontZ Angle 3 Bluetooth Speaker.


Don't let the summer months go by without enjoying them fully.  Evenings outdoors are wonderful and relaxing for mind, body and spirit.  Everyone I know can really use this relaxation these days.


All the pictures in this post are from my niece's home (Tara Hocaliuk)  shared with her permission.





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Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Get Your Socks Wet and Keep Your Feet Happy Too! - A Product Review

Wherever you are in North America or North of the Equator, I think it is safe to say, "That Summertime is Here!"

Everyone is especially happy about that!  The weather has finally warmed up and we can get outside without all the layers to keep us warm.

What can make a fun time at the beach a little disturbing to little ones, is the temperature of the sand when the sun has been beating down on it all day.  I know I've done what I call the "Beach Polka", where you literally run over the sand as quickly as possible, looking for possible cool spots, so the bottoms of your feet don't burn. Once you reach the water's edge you are safe!  

Now for parents with a whole family of little ones, this can be a difficult dance to do while carrying the kids to the water's edge.  No need to do that dance unless you really want to!  I've found the perfect solution.  There is this neat product called water socks or water shoes!  They are meant to be used in the water either on the beach or in the pool.  

For children they come in all sorts of really cute prints and colors.  Boys and girls will love designs on these water socks.  You won't have to fight with them to keep them on their feet. With dinosaurs and unicorns, octopii, sharks and rainbows, there is a design for every one of your children. Once they find out how nice it is to walk along the beach without having your feet burn they will happily wear them.  

These water socks/shoes have 36 different colors and prints available, so that even if you have 2 or three little ones, they can all have different designs on them! I personally love the unicorn socks!  They are just so cute!

Cute is only part of the story.  These water socks will help your children be a little safer on the beach because they have a nice rubber sole that will protect their little feet from any sharp objects or rocks hiding under the sand.  The rubber soles even help them to stay secure on things like boogie boards, surf boards and even piers where slipping could be a problem.

There are no laces or ties of any kind to worry about either.  Kids can slip these onto their feet usually without any help required.  They get wet easily and they dry very quickly too.  

I think one of the best parts is that these water shoes/socks can be worn just about all summer long.  Even if the kids are playing in the driveway, their feet will be a little safer for having something covering them up.  Boating and beach volleyball are easier and a lot more fun with a nice pair of water shoes/socks on their feet!  Even splash pads are more fun without getting stubbed toes or athlete's foot! Just having your feet covered keeps you that much safer from these summer woes.   That anti-slip sole can make all the difference in the world!  No more slipping and sliding on possibly wet and greasy feeling areas.  Splash pads are notorious for that greasy feeling.  All the sunscreen creams make for an invisible slick area sometimes.  

Beach safety and water safety in general are very important to me!  I like to know that my grandchildren can have fun without possible harm in every summer situation.  I'm a big believer in safety around the water for our children, without making them fearful humans.  It's great to have the summer months to make great memories while relaxing our guard just a little.


A couple of years ago I wrote about Personal Flotation Devices for children and I still would recommend that this is of the utmost importance.  Never ever let your guard down around children and water!

With water socks/shoes, you can at least relax a little bit more and not worry about stubbed toes!  They are well protected just by being covered.  



Happy Summer to all and Stay Safe!

All pictures courtesy of  Pixabay.com







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Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Spies, Wars, Winners and Losers, It's All So Intriguing To Me!

Reading is a wonderful Summer pastime, one that will take you to places that you've only dreamed of and so much more.




Image by Terri Cnudde from Pixabay

There are so many titles available,  but sometimes you just need someone to point out a book or two that you know will  be enjoyed from the moment they open that first page.  This is a Book Review of The Huntress, by Kate Quinn, published Feb. 2019.

My preferences lie with books that will keep me turning pages until the darkness of night and sometimes even till the morning light seems to be upon me.  I have been known to read until my eyes are literally streaming with tears to keep them lubricated enough to continue turning pages..

Recently, I got caught up with some spy thrillers, and historical novels about World War II and all the turmoil after the war was over.  Lives that had been shattered, families that lost loved ones and the most intriguing to me, the ones who just disappeared!

I have read all of these books and each one held me and my imagination from the opening pages to the very end.  I found myself even going back into the books to re-read chapters that had really captivated my yearnings to know more about this time in history.

Now I must remind you that these are all novels, but you know from in depth investigations after the war, that some of these scenarios are quite possible and not just figments of an authors musings.


The Huntress had me hanging by my fingernails, wanting to know what was going to happen next.  The cast of characters is so believable that I'm sure they could be neighbors of mine.

 From a group of young Russian women pilots (known by the Nazis as the Night Witches), to Nazi wives and/or lovers, to a couple of guys who are determined to bring down a high ranking German "killer".  This story has you spellbound within the first two pages.   


Image by Ella_87 from Pixabay


I should have known that I would be totally engrossed with The Huntress, because I have read Kate Quinn's, "The Alice Network", with just the same amount of interest.  She just writes so well that you are taken right into the heart of the story before you have finished the first chapter. You just need to know what is going to happen next.

The other book that I really enjoyed from this same time frame in history is Pam Jenoff's The Lost Girls of Paris.  What could possibly be in a suitcase left on a train stations platform?

If you want to enjoy a trio of books that will make your summer reading enjoyable, I would highly recommend that you start with any one of these three books.  Each one is amazing in it's own right.  I'm sure you will spend some quality time at the beach, pool, or just sitting in the yard enjoying both the good weather and a great book too. 

The best part of all this reading material is that there are options for you if you want to read them for free.  Life doesn't get any better than that.  You will have to check out these options for yourself !  

Happy Summer and Happy Reading!





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Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Father's Day Gift Ideas That Won't Break the Bank!

It's a great time to start thinking about Father's Day.


Although many of us have not been able to get together with family like we have in the past, it's no reason to forget Father's Day which is coming up shortly!  

June 21st is the third Sunday and the one dedicated to those men who have the honor of being the Father or Father Figure in our lives.  Just so you know, this can also include Grandfathers, Uncles and Step Dads  as well.



Dads can be really hard to buy for!  (Moms tend to be easier, chocolates and flowers every year works.)  Not so much for Dad!  Tools and Dad stuff tends to be more expensive somehow!  But check below and see some really inexpensive alternatives!

10 Great Gift Ideas for Dads


  1. Family Manicure Kit, not just for the ladies anymore.  
  2. Car Stickers (some are really funny, like this one) But there are many others that can work for your Dad!
  3.  iPad Protector (there are many to choose from but this is an Amazon Choice with 5 star rating)
  4. Father's Day T-Shirts (this one says it all, but there are many more to choose from)
  5. Fisherman or Hunter Dads (great tools to use while out in the wilderness)
  6. For the musical Dad, Guitar Picks (sing me a song)
  7. A Special Key Ring 
  8. A Special Book
  9. B.B.Q. Tools
  10. Man's Apron
This list is Dad Approved by both my other half and my son (who happens to be Dad to 3 children).  They looked it over and each of them without being asked said they would love any one of the items in this list!   

 
  



Now these are great gifts for dads on their special day, but there are so many more things that Dad would love to have and might not indulge himself with.

If you need some help trying to figure out what to get your Dad for Father's Day,  ask yourself some questions...........


If Dad loves to read, there are hundreds of books available from Amazon or your favorite book retailer, like Chapters.

Does Dad love taking pictures?  How about a new Camera Strap with a bonus, you can read about it here!  Sylvester Mouse Cynthia found a great way to make this even better.

Does Dad love to build?  How about a new tool or a magazine with all kinds of neat ideas that Dad could try to make?

Does Dad like to run, walk or exercise in general?  Maybe a pair of Nordic Walking Sticks would be the ideal gift.

Is your Dad a sports fanatic, then there are literally hundreds of items big and small that would make a lovely Father's Day gift.  Pick your team and off you go!

Sometimes Dad's are just happy with a nice card.  You can make or buy one that will suit your Dad to a "T".  


Father's Day is the  21st of June this year.  Don't let the day go by without some lovely acknowledgement for all the things Dads do every day of the year.









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Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Easter Sunday is Over, But There are 50 More Days of Easter to Come! A Holiday Review!

Easter, the chosen, olivia morris, faith

Easter 2020, will probably be remembered by many as the Easter that wasn't.  Let me explain, Easter still happened, but not in the way that many of us Born Christians would recognize.  So we have had to find some creative ways to celebrate the Greatest Holy Day of the Christian Calendar.

To that end, my husband and I have been searching for ways in order to make Easter come alive again!  We don't have any problem with following services on You Tube, or Facebook, but Easter calls us (personally) to dig a little deeper into our faith.

I am a Christian and not at all ashamed or embarrassed to admit it!  I'm sure I'm not alone.  The thing that always surprises me is that after Easter is over, many Christians think Easter is a done deal.  One day, Easter Sunday and then everything goes back to "normal".  (Well 2020's normal will be different than most.)

Many people don't understand that Easter Sunday is just the beginning of the Easter season.  It does NOT END until 50 days later at the Feast of the Pentacost!

That gives Christians a whole 50 days to deepen their faith and strengthen their belief system.

bible, jesus, easter, celebrations, Olivia Morris
The trouble is that you can only read the scriptures for so long and then hopefully have a good discussion on what was read.  Our God speaks to each of us through these scriptures and each of us will take away lessons that are meant just for us.  Each will take away a lesson that speaks to them personally, and it may not be the same message that you get!  The Bible is alive and speaks to each of us in a way that we will understand in our hearts.

Being in house arrest has given us some time to look for other ways to celebrate our faith and grow at the same time.

We are so lucky that we can search out lots of different ways to celebrate our Christian Holidays.  You Tube, Facebook and the Internet offer us unlimited ways to enhance our faith journey.  Alan and I were blessed to spend 3 months in the Holy Land in 2018.  We were there from the middle of January to the Middle of April, which just happened to be Easter of that year.  What an experience that was and it still resounds with us today.  If you would like to see where we lived and worked during that time here's a You Tube video about the region and why it was so important to Christians all over the world.  https://youtu.be/Jcfkn9zivis

After having spent that time in Magdala, we came back home really driven to look into our faith, deeper, so that we are well informed Christians.

Now, during this time in our lives, that has us more upside down, than right side up, we are looking again for ways in which to make our faith "come alive".  To that end, both of us have been trying to figure out who the person of Jesus was and who His followers were too.  We have had many lively discussions on this aspect of our faith and really haven't come to any conclusions.  What we see in the Scriptures can look pretty cold and too Godly or shall we say Jesus sometimes come off as unreachable.  But that is not the Jesus we want to believe in, we want a Jesus that is just like us, happy, sad, funny, serious and a whole lot more....He is the Jesus we could relate to!

Thank goodness that I found a series that really delves into the "humanity" of Christ!  This series has 8 episodes and each one of them is really so well done.  The series holds true to the Biblical Christ, but also opens up the Humanity of him who is known as the Messiah.

I would like to share with you a link to get to this series and I'm sure that you will be moved just as I was.  This series is not available on DVD or any other media other than at the APP store.  I have a link for you right here.  It is called The Chosen.  This is an 8 part series each one is about an hour long and focuses on the beginning of Jesus' life and ministry.  While following Biblical texts, there is a lot of interpretation allowed in this series.

Not only are we treated to a "human" Jesus, we are also treated to the characters who become his Apostles and Disciples.  His mother and other relatives also play a role in this series.  I found it to be very interesting and profoundly moving.

My hope is that you started your Easter celebrations with Cynthia Sylvestermouses' Review of Jesus of Nazareth!  And I hope you continue your Easter reflections with The Chosen.

Please come back and tell me what you thought!  I know for myself personally, this series was a valuable tool in more ways than one.  It brought so many characters to life that I had not connected with through just reading the Scriptures.  My faith is alive and new ways of understanding that faith are always welcomed.  You can watch the official trailer for The Chosen right here!

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, meme, possible text that says 'I was one way, and now I'm completely different. And the thing that happened in between... was Him. TheChosen.t'

**Please note: at the end of every episode there is a bit of "advertising", but you can skip that and move to the next episode easily.  If you are touched by this series you can PAY IF FORWARD.  But please don't feel that you must do this.  I want you to enjoy this series as much as I have and that is my sole purpose in sharing this with you.  I make no commissions or any other reward for sharing this with you.  Happy Easter for the next 50 days at least.....







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Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Funny, You Don't Look Autistic-A Book Review

April 1st, is that day that many of us dread.  Will we be tricked or will we impose a trick on someone else?


Now because of the current climate within our communities and world in general, the joke seems to be on us all.  There will be no pranks to play on anyone, if you are being socially responsible and socially distant from others and I hope you truly are.

So instead of doing a whole write up on practical jokes and such, I decided to go in the exact opposite direction.

Instead of bemoaning my isolation, I decided to learn something new!

It's fitting that it also falls in line with one of my New Year's Resolutions.  I promised myself that I would read more and at the same time look at many different genres that I might not have done before.  To that end, I picked up a book that really was entertaining and informative in so many ways.

Funny, You Don't Look Autistic, caught my eye.

It is an autobiography of a young man who early in his life (age 5)  was diagnosed with Autism.  What made this book catch my eye is that one of my granddaughters has been diagnosed with this disorder as well.  I wanted to understand it better so that I could have some meaningful conversations with her, her parents, and her siblings as well.  

Michael McCreary is the young man at the center of this book. He is very open about his life, family and what it means to be autistic.  

Now let's be clear, this is not a clinician's book, it is the story of a young man, who with the help of his family and a diagnosis of autism, is trying to find his way in the world.   Michael is very blessed in that his level of autism is high functioning in the ASD (autism spectrum disorder) scale.  The things he does are not things that all autistic children will be able to do.  His parents learn how to integrate Michael's abilities with his inabilities.  This makes for a very adaptable world for Michael.  Not all autistic children are that "lucky".   There are so many different levels of autism and we just don't understand all of it.  We are making great progress, but there is still much that we don't understand.

Most of you will remember the movie Rain Man (starring Dustin Hoffman), that was my first real glimpse at autism.  His level of autism is called Savant.  Savants are another whole level of Autism.  Yet it is so much more complicated and varied than what was presented here.

There are so many different levels of Autism

As I mentioned earlier Rain Man (a Savant) had a level of autism that allowed him to understand numbers to the point of being able to figure out a date, and being able to know it was a Monday or Tuesday....you get the picture. But autism has many different levels and with those levels people have certain abilities or lack thereof. 

Autism is here and with our growing understanding of the condition, children that are diagnosed with this can look forward to a better understanding from both parents and the educational system.

Sensory overload is a common trait in autistic children.  They either have too much or not enough sensory responses.  They may be bothered by the feel of clothes on their bodies, noises that we generally are able to push into the background , are like bells and whistles going off in their minds.  So their reactions to these stimulii is completely different than ours would be.  I know my granddaughter always has one leg of her pants rolled up to her knee, she just cannot handle the cloth rubbing on her leg.  One of my nephews needs headphones to block out sounds that are overpowering to his mind.  These are just some small examples of what having an autistic child can look like.  There are many and "Autism" is a misnomer.  The true way to speak of this disorder is to call it the Autism Spectrum.  Spectrum, lets us understand that there are just so many levels of this disorder in the general population.

Reading This Book Has Helped

Michael in this book has made me see what it is that can undo an autistic persons demeanor.  I did not understand sensory overload at all.  But reading about it through his eyes, it made more sense to me.

Autistic children, at least high functioning autistic children, usually have a gift of some sort.  Michael's was being on stage and making people laugh.  He fed off of the reactions to his "story" and made sense of his time with those reactions.  It also helped a lot of people who did not understand Autism to take a second look at what that means.  

If you want to learn more..........

I really recommend this book.  It is light-hearted, optimistic, funny, and yet opens some doors and windows into a disorder that has many parents, grandparents and the general public wondering.  I found it to be entertaining as well as informative and that to me is a double bonus.

If you are interested or want to delve into an Autistic life a little further, this book would make a really good read.  I'm glad I stopped to pick it up and I'm sure you will be entertained and learn something new at the same time.  It really is a winner in my books.

If you want to learn more about Autism there are many websites devoted to the subject and I offer a few here:



Now just in case you were wondering....April 2nd is World Autism Day.....Happy April Fools Day!








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Wednesday, March 18, 2020

A Time to Grow, Now is the Time! A Garden Review!

growing, garden, review best practices

If there ever was a time to look forward, it is now.  

Don't be stuck with the majority looking for doom and gloom, there is life out there and we gardeners mean to have it to the full extent we can.  

To that end, I am offering you some "jobs" that need to be done before the growing part can start!



My Spring To Do List!

  1. Clean out the pots! Seedlings 2020 coming up.
  2. Trim Bushes
  3. Check Foundation Beds
  4. Select the flowers and vegetables that I want to grow this year.
  5. Make sure I have all the necessities (to avoid frustration)
  6. Plant, Mark and Place in the Sun
  7. Watch patiently as Mother Nature does her magic!

 

This is Just the Beginning, Now Let's Get Started!

 

1.  Cleaning out last years pots is necessary.  You don't want to carry over any diseases or bugs from last year into this year.  So empty the pots of their ground, but don't throw it away!  Place it into your compost bins!  The heat generated in the composting will kill off any bugs or disease so don't worry. 

When the pots have been emptied, take them into the shed, or garage or whatever work space you have and sanitize them as well.  A Bucket of warm water with bleach and a good scrub brush are all that's needed.  Mix your solution approximately 9 parts water to 1 part bleach and soak your pots for at least 10 minutes.  The warm water will soften the mineral deposits and dirt from the pots for easier scrubbing.  Use a stiff brush or a pot scrubber to remove any deposits on the pots .  If there is still some residue, you can soak your pots in dish detergent to remove any other debris.  Let your pots air dry before refilling them with new soil. If you like you can watch this video on cleaning pots it's only 3 minutes long (How to Clean Pots)

While your pots are air drying, get outside and check out how the garden fared through the winter months.  It's a good time to pull back any debris that you did not remove in the fall.(See #3)  Now BEWARE,  you should check your own climate to make sure that no further hard frosts will happen.  Be ready to cover young growth in case of really cold nights that might still happen.




2. Before the weather gets really warm, you can trim some of your flowering bushes!  Again, be knowledgeable you don't want to trim those bushes that will flower early in the spring, especially lilacs and forsythias.  If you trim these in the spring, you will likely lose all the flowers for that year.  A rule of thumb to follow for good results is this:  If it flowers in early spring (lilacs, forsythia, azaleas and such) do not prune until after they have flowered for this year.  If the bushes flower later in the year, early spring is a good time to trim and resize.  These bushes will have plenty of time to set buds for this coming 2020 season.  The Farmer's Almanac is a good guide just click on the link: When to Prune Shrubs

3.  Your pots are drying and you are doing a foundation check.  It's a great time to look at the flower beds, see what is sprouting already and gently pulling back on the ground cover (leaves) that you put there in the fall.  Look for bees that are coming out of dormancy and leave them some mulch to use as blankets at night when it's still cool.

4.  When you have done all this cleaning and spotting what's new in the garden, you just might need a little rest.  All work and no fun is not a good way to garden.  The Fun comes from checking out all the seed catalogs for new and exciting plants you want to try to grow for this year.

There are numerous garden centers that offer seeds and you should check out your local growers/suppliers for their catalog.  If you don't have any local suppliers, you can try Veseys, Dominion Seed House  and many, many more.  The Spruce offers 60 free seed catalogs where you can either get a hard copy catalog or view it online. 

5.  What are the necessities?  Well, you are going to need fresh garden or potting soil.  If you are doing seeds, then a good seeding mix would be a good idea.  You have your clean pots and hopefully you have some old saucers or containers to use for catch trays (please make sure these are clean as well)

You need the seeds, so hopefully you have had some time to check out what's new for the gardens this year.  Or maybe you have kept seeds from last years harvest.  Good for you! 

Clean tools are also needed.  You don't want to spoil all the hard work you have done, by plunging a dirty trowel into your newly cleaned pots. 

6.  Plant markers, unless you are a master gardener and can spot a bean sprout from a pepper sprout, then marking your seedlings is a must.  Maybe you are trying a new variety and want to log it's growth and more, then plant markers are a must!  Even for flowers, I find that I can't rely on my memory to tell me what I planted in which pot.  (Brain Fog comes to me naturally, so I rely on my markers)  These can be home made by cutting up white plastic and using a waterproof marker to label the pots.  If you are creative there are many other ways to make some really nice markers. I've included a video here!  Making Garden Markers 

7. Now you can sit back and relax, watch a video or two, and dream.  Hopefully there are some nice sunny days coming your way.  Find a nice little sheltered spot where the sun shines and just sit back and let your body get it's quota of Vitamin D. 

Now it's time to order whatever it is you still need to get those seedlings started.  New soil is the Number 1 item that should be on your list and if you are a Prime Member, you will get it tomorrow.....





This is my favorite potting medium and I get free shipping with my Prime Membership.  Miracle Gro has been around for years and it has a 5 star rating, do I know it's a good choice. I still don't like having to lug these bags of soil around, so shopping online is the way I get mine.  It comes to my door and that makes me very happy.  My garden this year will be off to a great start.  Join me!



growing, spring, garden review




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