Friday, September 11, 2015

Site Review: Lighthouse Musings

I have always admired Mary Beth's photography, but what I didn't expect was to fall in love with lighthouses because of her reviews.  While I appreciated lighthouses and their functional purpose, I never really looked at them closely until I started reading about them in her articles.  Mary Beth has a entire site dedicated to her lighthouse musings.  Please allow me to give you a short guided tour and highlight some of her lighthouse adventures.  I also encourage you to visit Lighthouse Musings yourself.

Rose Island Lighthouse

Lighthouse History

Mary Beth features lighthouses that she has personally visited.  In many of her articles, she shares the history of the lighthouse she is featuring alongside her breathtaking photos.

I am often fascinated by their stories and have come to seriously appreciate the efforts of many of the communities to save their beloved lighthouse.  It becomes very clear that the residents in the area have a very real relationship and respect for them.  They often go to great lengths to restore a lighthouse and to preserve the historical value.  Such was the case with the Rose Island Lighthouse.

I encourage you to visit Mary Beth's article and read about this incredible community and their beautiful lighthouse. 

Lighthouse Beauty

Because of their purpose, a lighthouse is most often built in a captivating setting close to a shoreline or on an elevated cliff, but the beauty of the beacon of light itself is indisputable.  I am sure we each would have a personal favorite based on architectural design, paint colors, or perhaps even the sheer size.  There is no doubt that each lighthouse Mary Beth features has it's own unique appeal.  However, I do want to show you my personal favorite.

Isn't it fabulous! 

So unique and with an incredible history.  I hope to one day visit and tour this stunning lighthouse.  You can learn all about Navesink at Lighthouse Musings. 

After you visit Lighthouse Musings and explore the dozens of lighthouses featured there, do come back here and tell us which is your personal favorite.

Lighthouse Getaways

Several of the lighthouses offer to host your wedding or special occasion, but what fascinates me most are the lighthouses that allow guests to spend the night.  I wonder if I could sleep a wink surrounded by such beauty and historical interests.  I expect I would not want to sleep!  I would want to make sure I toured and touched everything there.

This bench beckons me to come and stay for a while!

Big Bay Point Lighthouse

Thanks to Mary Beth and her introduction to these wonderful lighthouses, I find I am quite fascinated and awed by lighthouses.  I think you will be too.

Visit Lighthouse Musings by clicking this link and take your own tour at a leisurely pace.

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.”


Thursday, September 10, 2015

Nature Photography Tips

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Classes Great Way to Enhance Photography Skills

I have found that the world of photography is a never ending learning experience. I am always so excited to learn new techniques and new ideas for photographs.
The opportunities to increase your skills with your camera are everywhere you look. You might find a good book written by a photographer you admire. Studying the works of others is a great way to learn. There are also some great photographer groups on both Facebook and Google+ where you can view the work of others and even post your own photos. Other photo enthusiasts always seem eager to give advice and tips.
I like to take a seminar or a photography class every year. I feel that I always learn something new and many times skills that I had learned and forget to use are reinforced in these classes. When I have taken classes in the past, I have written a  a blog post on them. For me the act of writing down what I have learned reinforces my learning. I hope it also helps others who read these tips.
On this page I will write on a nature photography class I am taking at our local community center. Our instructor Garry Rose has a great way of explaining concepts so that they make sense to me.
photos on this page are by the author mbgphoto

Lesson One


In our first class the instructor gave us an introduction to nature photography. He described nature photography as anything taken outdoors that is not changed by man. Things like landscapes, wildlife, flowers, and animals would all be a part of nature photography.
We also talked about ethics for a photographer. Some key points included:
*Keep subjects safe
*Never dig up plants
*Never trim or snap plants
*Be careful not to expose nest or handle babies
A key point to remember is to leave the area looking exactly like it did when you arrived.

Know Your Subject

read or observe

It is always good to know your subject before you set out to photograph. You can do this by researching the subject or by observing what you see.
An example the instructor gave on knowing your subject is his own love of photographing dragonflies. Dragonflies are often times rather elusive but because our instructor has studied their habits he knows the best times and places to catch some great shots of dragonflies.

Know your Equipment

The best way to get to know your camera and equipment is to use them and practice with them. Our instructor encouraged the use of the histogram on our cameras to help us to determine if the light is right on our photo. This is particularly good to use on a bright sunny day when it is hard to see the screen on the camera. You can use the + or - button on your camera to lighten or darken the subject as needed.
Another camera feature that is good to know is the depth of field preview button. This will help you to determine if you have in focus what you want in focus. Check your camera manual if you don't know where your button is on the camera. The instructor gave us an assignment to help us learn about the depth of field with the various focal lengths on our camera. We were to photograph a 12 inch ruler using both the longest and the shortest focal lengths on each of our lenses. We were to use aperature priority set at F8 and make sure the ruler was in focus on each shot. I really enjoyed seeing how this changed the background in each of my photos. With my shortest focal length 18mm the house in the background is in focus as you see in this photo. Look at the photo below to see how that changes with the longer focal length.
With this lesson in mind I used my 300mm focal length to photograph a tulip in my neighbors yard. I was able to get the tulip in focus and the background blurred.

Same shot using a 300mm lens

Good Technique

The instructor gave us a lot of tips on good techniques to use during nature photography. Some of them were reinforcing techniques I already use and others were ideas that I need to incorporate into my photography.
These are some of the key points I took away from the lecture.
  • Always use a Tripod
  • Slow down and take your time. This is a great tip and one that I need to be work on.
  • Shoot both vertical and horizontal views.
  • Look for different vantage points. Everybody looks at a scene and takes it straight on. Find a way to make it different. Perhaps you might just photograph a section close up or photograph it with something interesting in the foreground.
  • Look for ways to frame the subject. This is one of my favorites. I love to find ways to frame my subjects as you can see in the lighthouse photo that I framed by colored leaves.
Here is a tripod that is the same brand and price range as the one that I use.  While it is not the most expensive, it is not the cheapest either and I find that it works well for my needs.
Click for more details on Amazon

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.”


Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Reviewing The Mystic Notch Cozy Mystery Series

A Fun Series For Fans Of Mysteries, Cats and Ghosts

I am an avid reader and love to read mystery novels and if they come in a series then I am even happier. I recently read the Mystic Notch Cozy Mystery Series by Leighan Dobbs and enjoyed it immensely. It was pretty easy to get attached to the characters (human, feline and ghostly)! I think that is why I like reading series books, you become fond of the characters and want to follow them through their different stories, at least I do.

A Little About The Books In This Mystery Series

The main premise of the the 4 books that have been published, so far, in this series is that Willa Chance has moved back to her childhood home after having inherited her Grandmother's home and bookstore. The name of the bookstore is Last Chance Books. She also becomes the guardian of her Grandmother's cat, Pandora. Just before her Grandmother passed away, Willa was involved in an accident that permanently damaged her leg but there seems to be another complication. She now sees ghosts that, of course, no one else sees. 

Willa discovers this new ability shortly after she moves back home when she finds the librarian dead in the local library. The ghost of the now deceased librarian insists that her death was murder and Willa must help find the killer so that she can go on into the next realm. It makes some sense that the ghosts seek Willa's help because before her accident she was an investigative reporter specializing in crime. She has the skills to look for clues and suspicious behavior. Her snooping doesn't usually sit well with her sister, Augusta, who happens to be the County Sheriff. The interactions with sisters are so realistic it isn't even funny.

Mystic Notch has a lot of history with many of the inhabitants celebrating generations of ancestors from the area. This includes the cats of Mystic Notch. There are the felines who have humans to keep an eye on and there are the feral cats that are supported by some of the town's people. The cats whether tame or feral have a special mission and have had for hundreds of years. It is the responsibility of these very special cats to keep the humans safe and to maintain the balance of good and evil with an emphasis of good having the advantage. 

I found these books very entertaining! I loved the mysteries in each of the books that the humans were trying to solve. I also loved the interaction and conversations with the cats! Pandora is considered a young cat since she is only on her first life but she meets with cats who are much older. Pandora wants to do things in the new ways and in one of the books even searches the internet for information on some suspects. The older cats often want to assist the humans in the old ways and get a little aggravated with the younger cats with their new ideas. It is hysterical when the cats often refer to the humans as rather inept and inferior to their own species. These cats are pretty clever!

The rest of the series

The great thing about these books is that you can get them in printed form if you prefer holding a book in your hands as you read or you can read them in digital form. I have linked to the books available on Amazon for downloads to your reader but you can also use your Nook and download from Barnes & Noble, if you wish. 

These books are light reads and are usually around 200 pages or less. I am sure that Leighann Dobbs must share her life with at least one cat because she describes their actions so well. I've caught myself looking at my own cat a little differently after having been introduced to the cats of Mystic Notch, that is for sure. 

If you love a good mystery, love cats and don't mind a friendly ghost or two then you will love this series of books that take place in the fictional town of Mystic Notch. 

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.”


Monday, September 7, 2015

If you were a kid of the 70's, 80's or 90's
There are a few things that would have made an impact on your lives.  It didn't matter whether you were a girl or a boy, because you would have been touched by this either way.

What in heaven's name am I talking about?  Well believe it or not, just as you were touched in the '70's, '80's and 90's so will the kids of today start to understand as they become the next generation to be "touched" by the STAR WARS phenomenon!

Today, the 4th of September was the roll out day for marketing  all things new and old from Star Wars, as the newest addition to the Movie sequence is about to happen in December of 2015.

The powers that be, already know they have a loyal following as bits and pieces are leaked to the media and people all over the US, Canada and beyond, are eating up anything and everything regarding the new movie.

Star Wars figures, jet planes, trackers, planets, scenes and games are all the rage, as are a whole new aresenal of weapons and robots, transporters and many other futuristic space related items.  All of them coming from the imaginations of the writers, producers, directors and actors in the new film. Film makers and their crafts, will again be highlighted in the production of "The Force Awakens", the newest addition to the Star Wars Movie Family.

The battle between Good and Evil is a theme that will never be old.  O h the characters may change and the surroundings are different, but the basic principle is the same.  Will the strength of a Few Good Men out do the Evil Ones.

If you haven't seen all the Star Wars Movies by now, I would highly suggest that it would be a good time to take in the Series or even better to review and recapture the excitement and wonder before the next installment comes to the Big Screen.

Then be prepared for your children asking for those same toys (just newer) that you loved as a child.  I know my boys will be wishing they still had their original R2D2's and Luke Skywalker figures, along with a few more.  These toys never get old and somehow, the boys of the 70's and 80's can hardly wait to indoctrinate a whole new generation into the story of  "STAR WARS".

The trailers I have seen for the newest edition, will have me wanting to line up early in the month of December, for an eye full of imagination and the excitement of what might be in the future......

To help you get ready for this Action Packed Thriller, I suggest a few Movie nights with the family, so that you are with the "Force" and the "Force" is with you, when it makes it's comeback.

Star Wars: The Complete Saga (Bilingual) [Blu-ray]

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.”


Sunday, September 6, 2015

3 Funny Cheap Gag Gifts that are Sure to Make 'em Laugh!

Parking Ticket Gag

Parking Ticket Gag Gifts

If you know someone who gets a lot of parking tickets, this gag gift could bring a big laugh, however I'm not personally endorsing them ... they're funny but not nice!
There's insulting messages on them, so be sure the person you're giving them to has a very good sense of humor.
A lot of people purchase these to put on cars that park illegally at the mall or on the street. I just couldn't do that, and was shocked to read the stories of how they've been used! Bad, bad, bad.
You better be sure of the laws before you start plastering them over other people's cars!
But hey, as a Secret Santa gift for the "right person at the office" this could be perfect; particularly if that person is the type who takes other people's parking spaces!

If you're wondering what's listed on the ticket, here are few boxes that can be checked off when handing them out: They aren't called 'Big Mouth' tickets for nothing!

  • Parking too close to a real car
  • Creating a parking space
  • ...and more...that I can't (won't) type here! 
  • you'll have to read them for yourself on the ticket!

A Flying Screaming Monkey - Gag for a
Flying Monkey
Stressed Out Co-Worker?

Is someone in your office running around in circles, maybe pounding their fists on the desk? Can you hear screams of stress coming from their office? 

Do they curse their busted-down computer too much? Are they just generally off the wall? ....and finally did you draw their name for a gift at holiday season? Oh goodie! 

If so, stop the hunt because this funny monkey may cause some giggles and help them unwind (for at least 10 seconds). 

Stretch it back and fling it, and listen to it scream. Not a lot of money for a ton of laughs!
Leg Lamp

How about the Classic Leg Lamp from the Movie "A Christmas Story"

This is a "clean" gag gift for Christmas. Choosing a gag gift for the holiday season needs to achieve two things: 
1. Make people laugh and 2. Don't offend anyone. Of course, if you're aiming to offend, that's a different thing.
If you know someone who's a big fan of the movie "A Christmas Story", this is the perfect gag gift. There's a following of people who love this Christmas movie and this lamp featured in it is not only funny, but also symbolic of the movie.
This leg lamp night light is approximately 8 inches tall, and it's made of plastic and features a nylon fringe surrounding the lamp shade (as seen in the movie). It plugs into a standard outlet and uses one C-7 Watt Bulb which is included.

So have fun handing out laughs!

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.”


Saturday, September 5, 2015

CATCH ME …. CAUGHT. Two Book Reviews

Reading is one of life's greatest pleasures...

There's No Such Thing as Too Many Books! Postcard
There's No Such Thing as Too Many Books! Postcard by friendlyspirit

Recently I came home with four books to read; two by a couple of my favorite writers. Since I was looking forward to reading all of these books, it didn't matter which one I read first. Therefore I simply picked up one and began to read. 

When I finished the first one, I picked up the next book.  About half-way through the story, my eyes happened to catch the title CAUGHT and it suddenly struck me that the book I had just finished was titled CATCH ME.  How interesting ~ Catch Me – Caught!   Quite a coincidence as those titles definitely fit in with the category of my favorite genre – Mystery/Suspense/Thriller!  If you are a mystery book fan, you might also be interested in reading these two books, so let me tell you about them.

CATCH ME by Lisa Gardner


CATCH ME was written by Lisa Gardner in 2012 and was a finalist in the 2013 'Thriller Award for Best Novel'.  For fans of Lisa Gardner, you'll be delighted to know that the story features one of Gardner's well-known continuing characters, D.D. Warren, homicide detective with the Boston P.D.

As the story opens, Det. Sgt. Warren has just returned from maternity leave when she and her team are called to a murder scene.  Ordinarily, D.D. would be in peak form, being a workaholic who loves her job, but two hours of sleep after a night up with baby Jack has left her cranky!.

As D.D. is leaving the crime scene, a woman named Charlene Grant (Charlie) shocks her with an incredible story.  In the past two consecutive years, Charlie has lost her two best friends, each murdered at 8 p.m. on January 21 with no known motive.  It is now just 4 days until the next January 21 and Charlie believes she is next in line to be murdered.

D.D. Warren is busy with her latest homicide, which is discovered to be connected to a vigilante gunman who is killing pedophiles in Boston, while trying to cope with exhaustion due to her new baby and complicated home life.  Now it appears she also needs to look into the murders of Charlie's friends to find answers before the January 21 anniversary.

 Is Charlie in danger, or is she hiding behind a terrifying secret?  This Number 6 in the D.D. Warren series will keep you on the edge of your seat!

Lisa Gardner, Author

Lisa Gardner (nee Lisa Baumgartner) is a crime thriller novelist with 17 books to her credit. Four of her novels have been made into movies.  She has written two series with continuing characters and several non-series stand-alone books.  One series includes the cast of Pierce Quincy, an ex-FBI profiler, his partner 'Rainie' Conner, a cop, and his daughter, FBI Special Agent Kimberly Quincy.  Gardner's other series takes place in Boston and features either D.D. Warren, a police detective or Bobby Dodge, a state police sniper. 

Lisa came up with a fun way to involve her readers.  She created a “Kill a Friend, Maim a Buddy” Sweepstakes where you can nominate the person of your choice (even yourself) to die in Lisa’s latest novel.  Check out how the sweepstakes works and some really amusing facts about this author on the Lisa Gardner website.

CAUGHT by Harlan Coben


Harlan Coben is another of my favorite mystery authors.  In CAUGHT, written in 2010, Coben tells a complex story about seventeen-year-old Haley, pride of a loving New Jersey family, who suddenly goes missing, and a reporter, Wendy Tynes, who uses her nationally televised news program “Caught in the Act” to expose sexual predators.  Dan Mercer, a social worker who works with troubled teens, becomes the latest person to be exposed by Wendy.  But is he really guilty?

Is there a connection between the missing girl and a predator?  Is Dan guilty as accused, or can the reporter not trust her own instincts?  In Caught, Harlan Coben takes us through an exciting, tension-filled story about guilt, grief and our capacity to forgive. The ending will surprise you.



Harlan Coben, Author

Harlan Coben, an award-winning mystery fiction author, bases most of his non-series stories in his home state of New Jersey.  Of Harlan Coben's 27 novels to date, he now has 60 million books in print worldwide, and his last eight novels have all debuted as #1 on the New York Times bestseller list.  CAUGHT is one of these.

Ten books feature Myron Bolitar, a former basketball star who turns sports agent after injuries curtail his pro career.  His office is in New York City and he seems to end up investigating a number of complicated problems (including murder) involving the athletes he represents.  The Bolitar series are suspenseful thrillers, yet are often surprisingly funny.

Since 2011, Coben has written 3 Young Adult novels featuring Mickey Bolitar, Myron's nephew, a high school student who comes to live with his uncle after his father is killed and ends up with his own set of adventures.

Harlan Coben lives in New Jersey with his wife and 4 children.  Visit the Harlan Coben website to read about all his books.  I'm currently reading his latest just published in March 2015 ~ The Stranger.

Writers are Readers!

Before one becomes a writer, they are first a reader.  My family and I have a deep Love of Reading.

Check out the many other delightful Book Reviews from the readers and writers on Review This!

Happy Reading!

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.”


Friday, September 4, 2015

How to Make a Recipe Binder Organizer

Organize Your Favorite Recipes

I love having a recipe binder to organize my recipes!  By simply adding photo sheets to a binder, I can create my own recipe card binder with all my favorite recipes.  

In my recipe organizer, I can add, delete or move my recipes around for specific occasions or label the sections with tabs by courses.

The photo sheets will also protect my recipes from spills, smudges or tears.  My recipe binder organizer is my own personal cookbook of favorite recipes and meals.


My Recipe Card Binder

I personally selected the Green Marble Recipe Binder (shown above) and I left the text "My Favorite Recipes" on the cover even though it can be personalized with any text.  I also liked the font so this binder was perfect for me.

Zazzle Binders are designed for 8.5" x 11" sized paper or photo sheets.  Each binder has 4 pockets inside.

You can select the size of binder you desire.  I opted for the 2" spine binders simply because I have a lot of recipes that I wanted to add to my binder, but you could easily select several 1" binders and have a separate binder for appetizers, entrees, desserts, etc. 

My Photo Sheets

I personally selected two different types of photo sheets.  Each style of photo sheet fits neatly into the Zazzle 3-ring binders.

One set of photo sheets holds six 4"x 6" cards. (2 vertical and 1 horizontal) If you select this photo sheet, the recipe cards you place in the vertical pockets will need to be trimmed approx. 1/8" to fit.

The second set of photo sheets holds four 5" x 7" cards.  Obviously, there would be no need to trim your recipe cards for these pockets, but it holds 2 cards instead of three.

Photo of Set I with Recipe Card

 20 (Twenty Pages) - BCW Pro 3-Pocket Page (4 X 6 Cards, Postcards or Photos)

Photo of Set II with Recipe Card

 (50) BCW 2-Pocket 5 x 7 5x7 Postcard Photo Binder Pages

Printed Recipe Cards 

The recipe cards you see featured in my binder are all available on   I love the printed recipe cards professionally printed by Zazzle.  I purchased several of my favorite recipe cards to add to my Recipe Binder.

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.”


Thursday, September 3, 2015

A Turkey Platter for your Family's Thanksgiving Table

Since the turkey is the centerpiece of most Thanksgiving celebrations and makes an appearance on Christmas dinner menus as well, a beautiful turkey platter is a must for most families. While some have heirloom platters (and family stories to go along with them), others are looking for a new tradition. Let's review a few popular platter choices to see what might work best for your family.

Spode Woodland Design Turkey Platter

Spode Woodland Design Turkey Platter for your Family's Thankgiving Table
This design reminds me of my childhood, growing up in the 1950s and 60s. The Spode company has been designing and making dinnerware and serving pieces for nearly 200 years. Their timeless designs are favorites in many homes and this "Woodland" pattern is very recognizable.

Perhaps you've had a Spode Woodland platter handed down through the family. Or maybe it's time to start your own family tradition. This is a perfect piece to start with.

This is a classic pattern, very old-fashioned in design but modern in that Spode's earthenware material, Imperialware, is both dishwasher and microwave safe.

A tidbit of turkey platter trivia for you: This turkey platter was featured on the Thanksgiving 2011 episode of the show Blue Bloods on CBS television. I recognized it right away.

You can find this Spode rectangular turkey platter on Amazon. Or see what's available right now when you look for a Spode Woodland Turkey Platter on eBay.

Lenox Turkey Platter with Handy Handles

Lenox Turkey Platter Aluminum Alloy Goes With Any China Pattern or Color
This beautiful, sturdy turkey platter from Lenox features a classic turkey shape and autumn designs with pumpkins, fruit, and leaves. Large at 16 x 24 inches, you'll be able to bring the biggest roast turkey to the table. Or pile on the turkey slices and drumsticks, plenty to feed extended family and friends. 

The design is beautiful; click on the link then mouseover to see the details in the feathers. Gorgeous! 

Since this is aluminum alloy with the look of pewter, it goes with any china pattern or color. The price is excellent, too. If I were in the market for another platter right now, this would be my choice. 

Colorful Turkey Design Ceramic Platter

Colorful Turkey Design Ceramic Platter Features the Beautiful Colors of Autumn
Who doesn't love the beautiful colors of autumn? This is the perfect ceramic platter for any Thanksgiving table, but especially pretty when you need to add some color to the decor. 

It's a bit smaller than the platters above at 18 x almost 13 inches, still plenty big enough for a small or medium-sized roast turkey. 

Hand wash this one to maintain the bright colors. You can read more or order it here.

Any of these turkey platters would be wonderful to hand down to future generations, to help pass along old family stories or make new memories around the Thanksgiving table. If you still have another style in mind, perhaps one that reminds you of your family's Thanksgiving platter, just visit this link to find exactly what you're looking for, whether a stainless steel turkey platter, a white Corelle or Corningware platter, or a solid color turkey platter in the round, oval, or oblong shape that your heart desires. 

Does your family have a turkey platter that holds a special place in your heart? Or are you looking for something new? Feel free to tell us about your family's Thanksgiving turkey platter or share another, similar holiday tradition. I love traditions almost as much as I love turkey!

Quick Links:
Find a turkey platter at
Or search for one on eBay  

--Susan Deppner

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.”


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Reviewing Jigsaw Puzzle Glue

Ways To Save Your Puzzles

Are you looking for a way to save the jigsaw puzzle that you have been working on? Let me tell you about a jigsaw puzzle glue that allows you to do that very thing. Last week, I reviewed some of my favorite Susan Winget Jigsaw Puzzles and one of the comments that I received asked me if I ever glued my puzzles. The answer is: I have glued a few of them. How did I do that? Well, it wasn't by gluing each little piece together as one might think. It is much easier than that.

There are actually special glues on the market that you spread on the finished puzzle that will then harden so that the jigsaw puzzle can be framed or hung without a frame. For the ones that I wanted to save, I used the product below.

It is really simple to use and preserves your puzzle in relatively no time. When you have decided to work a puzzle that you feel that you will want to frame, I suggest that you place some newspaper on the table where you will be working the puzzle before you start. This will protect the surface of the table when you apply the puzzle saver (glue).

Once you have all of the pieces in place, you can apply the puzzle glue to the front of your jigsaw puzzle. The Elmer's glue that I show above comes with a plastic applicator to make this process go smoothly. You pour the glue into the center of the puzzle and then use the applicator to spread it out over the entire surface of the puzzle. It is recommended that you start to brush the glue from the center to the edges going towards the top corners and bottom corners. That is the method that I used and it worked very well.

You will want to let the glue dry well before you turn the puzzle over to apply to the back side of the jigsaw puzzle. The glue dries clear so you do not have to worry about any discoloration to your piece. I waited 24 hours before I turned my puzzles just to make sure that all of the surface front was dried completely.

It is up to you whether you do the back of the puzzle or not. Personally, I felt that I wanted that extra protection for mine. After having spent close to a month working on it, I really did not want it to fall apart when I picked it up to frame it. It might be fine if you are placing it in a frame with good support but if you plan to hang it without a frame, I would definitely coat both sides for the additional strength.

This process, whether you use the Elmer's Puzzle glue or a different brand, can be a little messy. That is why I recommend placing something underneath before you start your puzzle. I have not tried the peel and stick sheets  that are available so I can not attest to how well they work. They look pretty simple to apply, my only concern would be that you can only place the sheets on the back of the puzzle. That would mean that once pieced together, you would have to somehow get the puzzle with the back side facing up without breaking up your work. Personally, I think that could get quite tricky.

I can tell you that using the actual jigsaw puzzle glue worked well for me. I wish that I could show you a picture of the ones that I saved. I liked them so well that I actually gave them away as gifts so there is no picture of my finished work.

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.”


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Review of Selected Books Dealing with Murder, True and Fictional

Murder: True or Fictional?

I have been an avid reader of murder mysteries for many years. In 2013, I started to read true crime books because I thought maybe it would be better to see what really happened rather than reading what only occurred in an author’s imagination. Either way one gets to follow a detective's thinking, but the novelist can make the book turn out any way he or she wants. The detectives can’t do that with the real cases they try to solve.

My exposure to true crime began with several true crime stories by Ann Rule, including “A Rose for Her Grave,” “Campbell’s Revenge,” and “The Hit Person: Equal Opportunity Murder.“ Fictional murder mysteries I've enjoyed include many James Patterson novels and several J.D. Robb (Nora Roberts) books from the “In Death” series. One of the most recent crime thrillers I've read is Eyes Wide Open by Andrew Gross. (Keep reading for more on this book)

So what’s scariest? For me it’s realizing how wicked people are, without anyone needing to embellish the facts. Men do really kill do woo and then kill wives who live trustingly with them just for the insurance money. (Randy Roth, Washington State.) Rape victims are brutally slaughtered, along with children and neighbors who happen to be present, by their paroled rapists. (Charles Campbell, Seattle area.)

These are things we pass quickly over in the news. The killers whose crimes I am most familiar with from the news are the California Zodiac Killer who was never caught, Richard Ramirez, (the Night Stalker) and Charles Manson and his “family.” I followed those cases in the papers and heaved a sigh of relief when Ramirez and Manson were finally behind bars. 

Gary L. Stewart claims that he discovered the identity of the Zodiac killer when he tried to find out who his father was. He believes his father, Earl Van Best, Jr. committed the Zodiac murders. His book explaining what led him to this conclusion, The Most Dangerous Animal of All, was published in 2014.  A related book, The End of the Zodiac Mystery: HowForensic Science Helped Solve One of the Most Infamous Serial KillerCases of the Century, was published at about the same time. I hope to read one of both of them soon. I once thought I had a clue, myself, thinking it might be someone I had known in college, but, fortunately, I was wrong. 

I pay attention to parole hearings. A Manson Family member is currently up for parole, and that gives me the shivers because I just read Eyes Wide Open by Andrew Gross. I'm sure it's a novel based on the Sharon Tate and other murders committed by the Manson Family, changing the names and moving the setting of the murders to Santa Barbara. (The author, Andrew Gross, even states in an interview that he once met Manson in his father's home before he became a murderous cult leader and that part of the idea for this book came from that incident. )

In Eyes Wide Open, Charlie, is told his son Evan has commit suicide. His brother Jay, a successful surgeon in New York, comes to visit him in California to try and help him through his grief. Both suspect foul play rather than suicide, even though Evan was bipolar. Jay decides to see if he can find out the truth about whether Evan had jumped from high on Morro Rock into the Bay, as the police believe, or whether he had been pushed.

Charlie has always been unsuccessful and disturbed. He and his wife have lived dependent on the state for support for years. As the book unfolds, Jay learns Charlie had decades ago lived as “Chase' on the Riordon Ranch with Russell Houvanian (The Charlie Manson figure) and his followers, and had helped the police investigators find the evidence they needed to convict Russell and the others.

 Charlie and another woman at the ranch who were not in the inner circle and not participated in the murders both cooperated with police. At the very beginning of Eyes Wide Open, readers witness the brutal murder of Sherry, that other woman, who had put that past long behind her to move on to live a productive and normal life. The reader doesn't understand that murder until the book is over half over. As we get into the book, we discover that one of Houvanian's accomplices, Maggs, had been released from prison after serving a thirty-year sentence. Dead bodies continue to pile up until the climax of the book is reached. I highly recommend this book to those who love thrillers, but I won't spoil it for you by telling you more. Even with what I've said, you won't be able to put the book down until you finish it. You can get Eyes Wide Open as an audio CD, but I suggest you keep the lights on while listening. 

Back to true crime. Like many living in Southern California in the 1980's, I was nervous about leaving my windows open in the summer until Richard Ramirez, aka the Night Stalker, was apprehended and locked up. He used to kill his victims by entering houses through unlocked doors and windows. I wouldn't have what it takes emotinally to read the account of his evil deeds and twisted mind, but a highly reviewed and well researched book on Richard Ramirez by Philip Carlo is available. I also lived in the Seattle area for a time when the Green River Killer, later found to be Gary Ridgway, was still on the loose. Several true crime books about the Green River Killer are also available.

The true crime books lay all the events and facts and trials out factually. Those happenings as they played out in people’s real lives seem more terrifying than any made-up crime that never happened. We all know these crimes happen and to stay sane we have to not actively think about having them happen to us, even though we know anyone can be a victim.

Naturally, we all need to take reasonable precautions not to be a target of violent crimes, but we also know that a good percentage of victims have taken those precautions to no avail. I deal with these facts by realizing that God will not let anything happen outside his control and that He will give the grace to deal with any situation when it’s needed. We need to live our lives wisely and leave the rest to God.

To get back to the books, I think the main difference between true crime and detective novels is that the novels allow one to escape reality for a bit, whereas the true crime books bring you face to face with reality. Bad things do happen to good people because sin is in the world and God has allowed men to choose to do evil rather than good. People make that choice to do evil every day. All of us do evil occasionally, but most of us just make less violent choices than the criminals do. Our weapons of choice are often just words that hurt or thoughts that aren’t fair to someone.

Some evil exists in every human heart. Sometimes it just takes the right situation for us to be able to see it in ourselves, or worse yet, to turn evil thoughts to evil actions. All evil actions began as wicked thoughts. Most of us deal with them before they become actions that will hurt someone else. Some of us take those things to God when we examine our hearts and find them, and we ask him to deal with our sin in those areas of our lives. We know he will forgive us for our sins against him and others. We trust him to cure our problem at the heart level.

Some people, though, the ones that become violent criminals, either have no sense of right and wrong or their emotions or peer pressure overrule conscience. Others give up control of their minds and bodies to substances that alter their thinking and judgment, leaving their natural impulses in charge of their actions. People such as these are loose on our streets. We see them in the news every day. We want to avoid having our names in the news with them, so we are as careful to avoid them as we know how to be.

It's No Mystery Baby Doll Fitted T-ShirtTrue crime books help us to know the kinds of things that can happen and the minds of the criminals. The novelists offer us some escape from that reality by giving us a situation that is controlled and where justice is usually done for the victims. Which do you prefer to read? 

This It's No Mystery Baby Doll Fitted T-Shirt is available in many other styles for men, women, and even children. 

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