Saturday, November 19, 2016

Preparing for Winter's Backyard Birds

Backyard Bird World

It's time to review how to prepare your backyard for those charming birds that will spend the Winter months with us. It's not a difficult job, but it's a fun time to share the chores with children. Once the preparation is complete, you and the kids will enjoy a chance to see many different types of birds, even in the snow.
 
 
 
 

A Simple Preparation Process


Preparation for the Winter birds in your backyard involves a few easy chores.
  • Clean out birdbaths
  • Empty and clean all of your bird feeders
  • Repair or replace any damaged bird feeders
  • Fill feeders with a winter mix of seeds
Before you put away your outdoor hose, it's a good time to clean out your bird baths. Use a scrub brush on any concrete or porous surface baths in order to get any debris left. Then fill the bird bath with fresh water. And that chore is done.

Next tackle your bird feeders (www.backyardbirdworld.com/bird-watching/window-bird-feeders/). Make sure to empty any old feed and seed hulls. Clean them by either washing in mild soapy water, rinsing well, or wipe clean with a damp cloth.  This is the perfect time to check for any damage. Cracks in a bird feeder will only get worse with freezing temperatures. Repair the ones you can, but replace those you can't.

The last step is the most fun. Fill your bird feeders with good appropriate seed mixes. There are many options available on the market. Some are designed for all seasons, some are designed just for the winter months. So choose which is best for the birds that enjoy your backyard.

A Word About Birdhouses in Winter


Personally, I refrain from even touching my bird houses once they securely in place. Many of my backyard birds return to the same nest in the same house year after year. They handle repairing the nest as needed. I don't want to add my human scent to their protected baby-rearing home.

Choose a New Bird Feeder


www.Backyard Bird World
If I don't need to replace a bird feeder, then I choose a new one just to offer more feeding stations for my backyard birds. My favorite is a window feeder. I have several already, but adding another one just makes viewing the Winter birds easier.

Window feeders are mounted to the outside of your window with suction cups. Most are very easy to remove for cleaning and refilling. Once it's filled with food, the birds have no problem finding it.

So take a little time to prepare your backyard (www.backyardbirdworld.com/bird-houses-feeders/get-your-birdfeeders-ready-for-fall) for the birds that will share Winter with you. The chores are not difficult and it's a great time to show children the value of backyard birds. Make it an annual family event.


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Friday, November 18, 2016

DC to AC Power Inverter / Adapter for Cars Review

 DC to AC Power Inverter / Adapter for Cars
Many years ago, we purchased an APC DC-to-AC Power Inverter/Adapter for our car.  It has to be one of the single best purchases for car travel that we have ever made.

We were preparing for our annual fall break vacation to Florida and the time of departure was upon us.  Our son was packing his Nintendo GameCube and games so he and his friend could play video games together at night.  Someone commented on how nice it would be if they could play the games on the long drive too.  Thus,  the search was on!  

Never one to dismiss a challenge, my husband was determined to accommodate the boys.  He ran to the local Target store and returned with this awesome inverter.  Honestly, I had no idea such a thing existed.  It worked like a charm and has continued to work for more than 15 years since. 


How to Use the DC-to-AC Power Inverter/Adapter


It is really very simple to use the DC to AC Power Inverter.  You simply plug it into the cigarette lighter receptacle, then plug your electric device into the inverter via the 3 prong AC outlet

 APC Air/Auto TravelPower TeleAdapt DC to AC Power Inverter (75W DC/AC, 120V) (Discontinued by Manufacturer)For many years, the kids have used the inverter adapter to plug in the video game consoles, but it has also been used for other electrical devices.

  1.   Laptops
  2.   Kindles
  3.   iPad
  4.   My Camera's Rechargeable Batteries  (My #1 Use)
  5.   Cell Phone Chargers 
  6.   Media Players
  7.   Electric Throw Blanket
  8.   Rechargable Flashlight
  9.   Coffee Mug Warmer
  10.   My Husband's Tailgating Leg Lamp 
This unit does have an auto shut-off to protect your car battery once the car is turned off and a built-in circuit protector to protect your electronics.  There is also a little green display light that shows when the inverter is powered.  

I have not personally used the APC Power Inverter / Adapter on an airplane, but the airline adapter is also included.


Buying a DC-to-AC Power Inverter/Adapter


Sadly, our unit has been discontinued by the manufacturer.  When the one featured above is sold out, you might want to consider one of the units below.  The are highly rated by consumers and offer USB ports too, which is something that my APC unit does not have.



Airplane or Auto DC to AC Power Inverter / Adapter Review Written by:
House of Sylvestermouse





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Thursday, November 17, 2016

Miracle on 34th Street Movie Review

I've never doubted that Santa Claus is real, possibly because when I was a little girl I watched the movie Miracle on 34th Street. Here's my movie review.

Classic Movie Proves Santa Claus is Real


I've never doubted that Santa Claus is real, possibly because many years ago when I was little I watched the movie Miracle on 34th Street. In the movie, proof is offered - and upheld in a court of law - that indeed, Kris Kringle does exist and he is Santa Claus!

Oh, I get excited writing those words and just thinking of the movie that I watch at least once a year between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I love this movie and absolutely adore the characters. And of course the outcome, while maybe somewhat predictable, is exactly the way I would have written it.




In case you're not familiar with the story, Miracle on 34th Street stars a very young Natalie Wood as Susan, a little girl who believes that Santa Claus isn't real because her very well-meaning but pragmatic mother told her so. The movie opens as Susan's mother (played by Maureen O'Hara), who works at Macy's, due to an unfortunate set of circumstances must enlist the help of a very Santa-looking gentleman to portray Santa Claus on the store's float in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. This last-minute Santa, who goes by the name of Kris Kringle, does such a perfect job and goes over so well with the crowd that Macy's hires him to work as Santa during the Christmas shopping season.

As more circumstances unfold (I don't want to reveal too much information) Kris Kringle's true identity is questioned. Susan's new friends, Kris and an attorney neighbor (John Payne), give the little girl reason to question her mother's claim that there's no such thing as Santa Claus. In the end, the truth is played out in an unforgettable courtroom scene and Kris Kringle's true identity is confirmed.

While the movie credits claim that Edmund Gwenn plays Santa aka Kris in the movie, I have to believe that the real Santa Claus was certainly on the scene as coach and wardrobe consultant as no one could have done a better job in that role.

Black and White or Colorized Miracle on 34th Street? Old Version or New?


Personally, I prefer the original black and white version of the movie. Happily, the DVD package linked above includes one disc with B&W, another with color along with other special features.

I also absolutely recommend the original 1947 version with Natalie Wood and Edmund Gwenn. I've watched the 1994 version and was very disappointed in the changes, particularly omissions, made from the original. The original movie is upbeat and magical; the new one is totally uninspired and uninspiring.

Watch this trailer (the short version) to get a good flavor for the classic (colorized) Miracle on 34th Street.




The clip below is one of my favorite scenes in the movie, one that brings a tear to my eye every time I watch it. In it, Santa's interaction with a little Dutch girl causes Susan to start questioning her belief that Santa isn't real.




Is Santa Claus real? You know what I believe. How about you? If you're not sure, then you probably should watch the movie and review the legal facts for yourself. The link takes you to the DVD version as well as a rental option so you can stream and watch the movie right this minute!


~ Susan

P.S. This ornament features a Kris Kringle Quote from Miracle on 34th Street.
You might have heard it in the trailer above.







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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

5 Best Kids Books on Pilgrims and the First Thanksgiving: Reviews

What's the Truth about the Pilgrims?

When I was in school, I learned that the Pilgrims had come to the New World from England to flee persecution for practicing their Separatist religion. After a hard journey on a small ship called the Mayflower, they founded a colony at Plymouth (Plimoth) under the leadership of William Bradford and William Brewster.

The Pilgrims arrived on the Mayflower on December 21, 1620, and made Plymouth Rock famous. No one who landed on that day, though,  wrote anything about it's being the place where they stepped into the New World.

5 Best Kids Books on Pilgrims and the First Thanksgiving: Reviews

What I Learned about The First Thanksgiving in School

By the time the Pilgrims celebrated what we now call the First Thanksgiving, about half their number had died of sickness. Those who had survived had a great feast to thank God for all He had done to preserve them.  Native Americans gave them some corn and taught them how to plant it for an abundant crop. When they harvested their crops, they invited their Native American friends to share their feast as they thanked God for the food they had been able to grow. Both in school and in the Pilgrim journals, the Native Americans were called Indians. A friend of mine who knows a lot of Native Americans say they still don't mind being called Indians.


5 Best Kids Books on Pilgrims and the First Thanksgiving: Reviews
Replica of Mayflower at Plimoth Plantation, photo edited from Pixabay


What Some Children Learn in School Now about the First Thanksgiving 

Unfortunately, my curriculum materials that are used in schools today aren't accessible as I write this, so I did some research online to see how the teaching about that first Thanksgiving has changed. The first thing we learn is that we shouldn't call it aThanksgiving feast at all since there was no such holiday back then. The purpose of the feast was to celebrate the harvest. Only in retrospect do we call this the First Thanksgiving.   

I did some of my research on the Plimoth Plantation website where children can research the holiday for themselves with interactive activities. Here are a couple of telling remarks from the Teacher's Guide, which has all the text from the activity pages. 

Fact or Myth?
Many people think that "history" and "the past" are the same thing. But they aren’t! The past is what actually happened. The past can never change. You would’ve have to have lived at the time to truly know about the past. History is how we think and write about the past. History is always changing. So events that occurred in 1621 (the past) will never change. But how we think about these events (history) has already changed a lot!

Culminating Activity
A few years ago, historians at Plimoth Plantation decided to look at the 1621 harvest celebration in a whole new way. They knew there was more to the story than the "Pilgrims" and "Indians" having dinner together. They decided to set aside what they thought they knew and look at the event with fresh eyes. They also realized that it was important to look at the events of 1621 from both the English and Wampanoag sides of the story. A lot of their research and new ideas about 1621 have gone into the creation of this web site.
5 Best Kids Books on Pilgrims and the First Thanksgiving: Reviews
 Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth, MA. Photo courtesy of Pixabay


The gist of this is that historians can't change history -- what actually happened, but they can change the way it's interpreted and taught to match whatever political view prevails in the education establishment. What I learned in school may not have been completely accurate, but neither is the current curriculum in many schools. We now live in a more secular and multicultural society that cares much more about the Native American culture than the culture and beliefs of the Pilgrims who lived at Plimoth Plantation.

The Truth about The Pilgrims


The truth is somewhere in the middle. We need to recognize how God brought Squanto to the Pilgrims, along with Massasoit, Chief of the Wampanoag tribe. Squanto taught the colonists how to produce food in their new land and gave them some corn to plant.  Massasoit signed a treaty to live in peace with the Pilgrims, and that peace lasted for fifty years.

So, yes. The Native Americans did play a big role in the survival of the colony. But so did the faith the Pilgrims had in their God, whom they trusted daily to provide their needs. They saw the friendship of Squanto and Massasoit as part of God's providence, a way He was meeting their needs. A reading of the primary sources, such as Of Plimoth Plantation by William Bradford will make it clear what the Pilgrims believed. It is this faith element and God's providence that contemporary teaching often leaves out.



Children's Books about the Pilgrims that Strike the Right Balance

5 Best Kids Books on Pilgrims and the First Thanksgiving: Reviews

I have chosen these five books as the best for teaching children about this period because most draw heavily from the primary sources. Some almost paraphrase parts of them in language children can understand.  Those sources are Of Plimoth Plantation, linked to above, and Mourt's Relation, a journal usually attributed to Gordon Winslow and William Bradford. Both were eyewitnesses to the beginnings of the Plimoth colony.

The First Thanksgiving Feast by Joan Anderson

5 Best Kids Books on Pilgrims and the First Thanksgiving: Reviews
This book brings the Pilgrims and Native Americans to life through the black and white photos taken by George Ancona at Plimoth Plantation. It has a comfortable print size for its intended audience in grades 5-7. I believe many in lower grades would also be able to read this independently. 

The first part of the story is told through quotes from actual colonists.  The last part of the book is narration by the author drawn from the source material. The last page discusses the development of the tradition of the American Thanksgiving and is not actually part of the story.  This book is out of print. You can get it at Amazon or at eBay.  



Pilgrim Music for Thanksgiving

It is likely that when the Pilgrims gave thanks they sang a hymn. The one churches still sing today that the Pilgrims probably sang is from the Genevan Psalter that dates from 1562 and was used by the Separatists. We know that hymn today as "Old Hundredth," and the Doxology sung in many churches has the same tune.  This version is probably close to what the Pilgrims sang.



You can find this version at Amazon in digital form.
You can find the CD form at eBay. 

I think it ironic that I found the same hymn being sung (different arrangement) at Westminster Abbey in a service commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth. It shows much of the ceremony that the Separatists despised and separated themselves from. As the processional of the choirs and the Queen and other dignitaries came down the aisle, I was temporarily taken aback, wondering who that bewildered looking younger person in the black and white clip with the crown was. It took me a minute to realize it was a clip of  the Queen on her actual Coronation Day superimposed on the processional.



Pilgrim Voices: Our First Year in the New World  Edited by Connie and Peter Roop

5 Best Kids Books on Pilgrims and the First Thanksgiving: Reviews
The clear, easy-to-read, double-spaced type tells the story of the Pilgrims’ first year in the New World as a series of diary entries written in the first person. The primary sources the authors drew from were Mourt’s Relation and Of Plymouth Plantation, sources authored by Edward Winslow and William Bradford. The editors modernized the language and changed Bradford’s journal from the third to the first person for unity of voice. About half of the 45 pages in this God-honoring history are gorgeous color paintings by Shelley Prichett, making this volume a feast for the eyes. The book, suitable for all ages past preschool, also contains a forward full of historical background, the text of the Mayflower Compact, a glossary, a bibliography, and an index.

This, too, is out of print. It is available in a Kindle edition or used at Amazon or used at eBay. Many of the used eBay copies have free shipping, and many of the Amazon cheap copies don't.


Three Young Pilgrims by Cheryl Harness

5 Best Kids Books on Pilgrims and the First Thanksgiving: Reviews
This paperback book for children 5-10 is my personal favorite because of its visual appeal. It is also based on Bradford’s writings. The author and illustrator, Cheryl Harness, has created a panorama of paintings that captures the Pilgrim story.  It focuses on three young children, Mary, Remember, and Bartholomew Allerton.  Their mother, Mary, along with her new baby, died in 1621.

We first meet the children in the middle of the ocean on the Mayflower and follow their life in the colony. Young Mary Allerton grew up and died of old age in 1699.  She grew older than anyone else who came over on the Mayflower.  

If your children are visual learners, you’ve got to get this book. The first major painting is a map of the Atlantic Ocean showing the sailing Mayflower with geographical notes tracing the adventures of the Pilgrims from the time they fled England for Holland until they settled in Plymouth. The next double-page spread is a cross-section of the Mayflower showing the people and supplies crowded onto the various parts of the ship. 

The main story is illustrated by spectacular paintings showing life on the Mayflower and in Plymouth. Then there is a labeled picture-map of Plymouth Plantation with a timeline of earlier New World explorations along the bottom and an illustrated chart on the far right showing what else was going on in other parts of the world while the Pilgrims were having their adventures. The last pages in the book contain labeled pictures of all the Mayflower passengers, with one double-page spread allotted to the Saints, and another to the Strangers, and the difference between them is explained. The Indians get their own double-page spread which is bordered with small drawings of native plants, animals, and sea-life. The last page is a bibliography. This book is, fortunately still in print and available new and used at Amazon. You can also find it on eBay if you prefer to look there. 


The Pilgrims at Plymouth, a Landmark Book by Lucile Recht Penner

5 Best Kids Books on Pilgrims and the First Thanksgiving: Reviews
The illustrations by S.D. Schindler are as appealing as those in Three Young Pilgrims.  These illustrations are on the edges of the pages, accompanied by small bold text to differentiate it from the larger text in the story.

The author tells the story of the Pilgrims' struggle to create a new home in the wilderness of a new land and how both the settlement they founded and the principles they established helped to shape the new American nation. Each double-page spread deals with one aspect of the Pilgrims' adventure, beginning on the Mayflower and ending with the Thanksgiving feast. This book states that Mary Allerton Cushman died in 1704, which contradicts most other sources I've seen. The text of this book was copyrighted in 1996 before the term "Indians" was deemed politically incorrect. 

The Pilgrims at Plymouth offers more details about daily life in the Plymouth colony than the previously mentioned books, including an accurate portrayal of the Pilgrims' faith. It also goes into more detail on the life of Squanto. Both this book and Three Young Pilgrims are good supplements to the more journal-like books first reviewed. They answer more of the questions about details left out of the other books.  44 pages. For grades 2 and up. This book is out of print but is available from both Amazon and eBay.


Daily Life in the Pilgrim Colony 1636 by Paul Erickson

5 Best Kids Books on Pilgrims and the First Thanksgiving: Reviews
The author and photographers who created this book paint a captivating portrait of an early Pilgrim settlement. Many of the photos come from Plimoth Plantation, where history is still alive. I have been there and watched as my rebellious daughter was called out by one of the adult male enacters who heard her talking back to my husband. The "Pilgrim" told her she'd never get a husband with that rebellious attitude. She was in total shock. No one she knew would have dared tell her such a thing.
In the book, Paul Erickson describes the duties of each family member -- even the children -- and their roles in the community as a whole. We watch people at work through the seasons as the women tend to the home, animals, and garden. The men do the heavy work in the fields and handle trading and defense. Children help their parents with their daily chores. We watch the activities of the family as they start their day, get dressed, work, and get ready for bed at night. 

Education was also handled at home. Parents taught their children to read so they would be able to read the Bible, which was considered the most important book. Children also learned practical skills as they helped their parents cook, farm, garden, and make clothing from the wool to the finished garments. 

The book explains how the government worked and how the colony was founded and organized. The author also describes a typical worship service in the meeting house. That couple of paragraphs is about all we learn about the religion of the colonists, except the importance of the Bible in their lives. We also learn a bit about health and how illnesses were treated. 

The author describes celebrations and special occasions. He gives three paragraphs total to what we now call the first Thanksgiving. Part of that is a recipe for the traditional Plymouth Succotash.  

Unlike the books I reviewed above, this one doesn't  tell us a story or let the characters themselves say much. It has a more academic tone, showing and telling us about life in the colony. The last page analyzes the Pilgrims' place in history. Readers will learn what happened but probably won't relate to it as much as they will by identifying with the characters in the other books.  Vivid full-color photos and drawings along with smaller black and white drawings show us a family and the items they would have used in their home and in the fields in Plymouth. 

The book also features a timeline of the colony from 1455, when Guttenberg finished printing the Bible to 1863, when Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving a national holiday. There is a reproduction of a 1635 map of the world so students can compare it to maps depicting today's world. We also see a color diagram map of Plymouth Colony. A glossary and index are also included. This book is the most secular in tone of all the ones I review here. Like most of the others, it is out of print. It is available at Amazon or eBay. For ages nine and up. 48 pages. 

5 Best Kids Books on Pilgrims and the First Thanksgiving: Reviews
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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Christmas Pillow Covers Reviewed

Cover Pillows As A Part Of Your Christmas Decoration

christmas decoration
Christmas decoration from Pixabay.com
Christmas is my most favorite holiday of the year and I absolutely love decorating every room in the house for the season. Until this year, I had not considered using Christmas pillow covers as a part of the decor.

I have a few pillows that already have a Christmas theme and I always bring them out. The trouble with that is, they are only used for about a month or so and then boxed away until next year. I have discovered that pillow covers are available that have the holiday theme which can go over existing pillows and they really are not very expensive to use. Actually, they are much less than the cost of purchasing a single pillow with the Christmas theme. When the season is over, I can box the case or cover and still use my decorative pillows for the rest of the year.

There are several options when it comes to pillow covers for Christmas. My favorite was this set:



I love the whimsical and festive designs on the six covers and the vintage look to the patterns in this particular set. They bring some nostalgic thoughts to my mind.

Of course none of us are limited to a vintage themed set; there are many choices available. You can purchase them in a set or as a single case in a variety of patterns.

I really think that the option of using Christmas pillow covers is a fun idea but it is also economical. What about you? Did you know that you could use a cover for your pillows to decorate for the holidays? Would you use them?


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Monday, November 14, 2016

IKEA Luxurious Bathmat Review

Ikea bathmat
It is time to replace my TOFTBO bathmat by IKEA. Not because it has worn out, but because I'm in the mood to change my bathroom colors to oranges and yellows.  My luxurious, blue IKEA bathmat has been a favorite for years. It is just time to change colors.  If you are looking for a fast-drying, soft, vibrant colored bathmat, you should peek at the TOFTBO by IKEA.


Reviewing the TOFTBO Bathmat by IKEA


I love my IKEA bathmat and am amazed at how it has held up over the years.  I am only changing it out because I'm ready for a different color pop in my bathroom.  The blue mat will just be moved to a new spot in the apartment.

A few of the many reasons I love the IKEA TOFTBO bathmat are:
  • SO soft on my feet - made of microfiber
  • gorgeous colors - bright colors or more neutral colors. There is a color to suite your mood
  • super absorbent
  • dries quickly
  • washable and tumble dry
  • while the IKEA site recommends use of a non-slip underlay, I have never had a problem with it slipping or moving out of place
  • there is no yucky rubberized layer on this bathmat
  • perfect size 35"L x 24" W 


IKEA TOFTBO Bathmats - a few of the many colors


Who doesn't love a bathmat that makes them happy? Whether you go with an IKEA bathmat or another brand, bathmats are an important part of bathroom comfort, safety, and decor. Bathmats are fairly mundane items in our homes but you don't have to settle with a bathmat that doesn't excite you. 





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Sunday, November 13, 2016

A Moms Song for a Child Leaving Home

If I Could by Barbra Streisand
A Further Review about the Song Meaning Here

One of My Sons is Moving Out in Two Days & the Lyrics to this Song Say What We Moms Feel

I've been one of those lucky moms; all four of my sons still live at home.

Yes, that's right, and we love it that way.

But my second boy, a guitarist and artist on the rise in a band called Coldfront, is moving out on his own. He's anxious to fly, but I'm not ready to let him. I'll never be ready.

Totally biased I'm about to blurt out all the cliches moms say: He's smart, organized, gorgeous and talented. I guess that's suppose to bring a measure of comfort.

But really, how did all the moms of the world get through this part of life! It's hard.

He's turned out to be a wonderful young man, and he's ready. The high point is what he's given me; the proof that he's ready.

After our son explained his plans to his dad and I on how he's going to manage this big step, we were so proud. Later that night we were lamenting on how hard this is, and how much we would miss him. But then his dad said, 'he's just like you! he's so much like you, and for that reason, I won't worry so much'.
"I've Watched You Grow So I Could Let You Go" (Lyrics)
Most of my friends have had their children move out already.

Looking back, I know I'm feeling my own mother's heartache as my brothers and I moved out.

At 19, mom and I drove to Toronto where I would start University and share an apartment with a friend. Mom helped me set-up the place, spent two days with me and after hugs and kisses, I remember standing at that apartment door watching her walk down the hall towards the elevator where she waved a final goodbye.

This coming Monday, I will understand what my mother felt that day. I'll say goodbye to my boy, my life, and pretend he's just going away for the weekend and that he'll be back in a few days. Without doing that, I'd be a mess, and on such a milestone for him, don't want him to feel my pain.

Right now I'm lucky. I can hear the boys laughing and talking to each other from their bedrooms. My dad used to say to me that he was happiest when all of us were home safe and sound. I miss my dad. I sure could use a hug from him right now. Dad would be so proud of him, of all the boys.
(Lyrics)
If I could, I would try to shield your innocence from time
but the part of life I gave you isn't mine
I've watched you grow so I could let you go
if I could
I would help you make it through the hungry years
but I know that I can never cry your tears
but I would
if I could
If you're looking for lyrics that say exactly what a Mom wants to say to her children, this is the perfect song - Get the tissues ready - I'm spent after listening to it <3



Things I'll have to deal with in the coming days:

  • How will I handle walking by his empty bedroom?
  • Missing the big glorious mess he leaves in his room
  • His cooking for us once in a while
  • His smile
  • His hugs
  • His brothers will miss him too
That's it, we're going to visit him - did I mention he's moving 5 hours away.

Yesterday he was just a baby.



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Saturday, November 12, 2016

A Review of the Crochet Book "Amigurumi Two"

Discovering Amigurumi Crochet

Amigurumi Two! by Ana Paula Rimoli
I have been a crochet crafter for more than 30 years and love to create plush animals. I began making stuffed toys for my children when they were small, and then for my grandchildren. Today I crochet cute plush critters for children everywhere and feature many in my Etsy Shop.

I love handmade crafts, particularly in the field of fiber arts. Throughout my crafting years I've been familiar with patterns for stuffed teddy bears and cute crocheted cats and fun frogs. Then, as I visited and admired the crocheted creations in other Etsy Shops, I began to see some strange dolls and animals. They called them 'Amigurumi'. I thought they were rather silly looking with big heads and skinny bodies, arms & legs and sometimes with quirky or funny faces on non-animal things like toy hammers or a baseball bat & ball. I thought they were very weird.

The more I looked around, the more I noticed that these strange creations appeared to be very popular. Finally, I had to find out what it was all about. I discovered that Amigurumi is the Japanese art of crochet (and knitting) small stuffed animals & dolls. The technique is also used to give 'personality' to inanimate objects!



And then I fell in love with Amigurumi!


Amigurumi Bunny Girl in Blue (c) Elf
Because of my initial reaction to the style, I didn't become a fan until I finally got around to actually crocheting an Amigurumi-style bunny one day.... and absolutely fell in love with how adorable it turned out. The style began less than 15 years ago (2003) and has no practical use, but is loved because of its Cuteness Factor.


 

Bunny Girl in Amigurumi Crochet


Bunny Girl in Blue is the first Amigurumi animal I created ~ and the one that made me fall in love with the Amigurumi Style of Crochet. I found the pattern originally on the Lion Brand Website.





This is my latest version of an Amigurumi Bunny Girl.  Cuteness Indeed!


New to my Crafting Library


Crochet Toys for Me and You and Baby Too.

Needless to say, my crafting library has now been expanded to include a number of patterns and books of Amigurumi. The one featured here, Amigurumi Two! by Ana Paula Rimoli, is filled with over 25 fun, adorable designs to crochet for babies and toddlers. The author designs her own patterns and has two small daughters who are her inspiration for her toy designs - and are also her quality control kids! Ana also has a shop on Etsy and a website where many of  her designs and pattern books are featured.


About "Amigurumi Two!"


I have had more fun crocheting cute Amigurumi toys from this book. When I'm not crocheting, it's just a fun crochet pattern book to read. The author (and pattern creator) Ana Paula Rimoli prefaces each pattern with personal notes on why she created this pattern based on a childhood memory or something her little girls like or wanted. This book is more than a crochet pattern book; it's as if a fellow crochet crafter was sitting with you discussing the art of Amigurumi crochet and the fun we have with crochet.



Examples of Patterns from the Book 'Amigurumi Two'

 



One example from the 'Amigurumi Two' book is called Little Fish and her Daddy

They are two cute colorful plush tropical fish you could create in the color combinations shown here or in your own color choices.  




 
Amigurumi Tropical Fish available on Etsy







The back of the Amigurumi Two craft book, showing more cuties to crochet including an adorable little plush bumble bee.


Baby Bumblebee in Plush on Etsy


Author Ana Paula Rimoli


The author of Amigurumi Two!, Ana Paula Rimoli, has written a number of craft books and all her creations are adorable.  She currently resides in New Jersey, but is originally from Uruguay.  She thanks her neighbor Marta in Montevideo, Uruguay for teaching her how to crochet when she was little, maybe 6 or 7. Ana says "I  love love love crocheting and making toys."


A Few More of Ana Paula Rimoli's Amigurumi Crochet Books Available for your Craft Library




Do you crochet? What do you think of the Amigurumi style?


 


© 2013 Wednesday-Elf

 










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Friday, November 11, 2016

Doctor Strange Movie Review

The movie Doctor Strange is based on the Marvel comics character, therefore it pushes beyond any realistic boundries.  However, this is truly a fabulous fantasy movie that is mostly accurate with the depiction.  I do love it when movies stick to the original book or source plot.  

Doctor Strange Movie Review

Benedict Cumberbatch was perfect for the part of Dr. Stephen Vincent Strange!  I was amazed at how much he actually looks like the comic illustration of Doctor Strange.  His image will now forever be fixed in my mind as the face of Doctor Strange.

In addition to having the looks, he did an excellent job of playing the role.  He was quite convincing as an arrogant, self-centered doctor with a god complex.  Then later, as a superhero straight from the pages of our favorite comic books. 

Doctor Strange Movie Review



Synopsis of Doctor Strange Movie Plot

 DOCTOR STRANGE MOVIE POSTER
2 Sided ORIGINAL INTL FINAL 27x40
BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH
Dr. Stephen Strange is an accomplished neurosurgeon who has received multiple awards for his outstanding work.  He is revered and hated by his colleagues.  They need his expertise, but they despise his superior, know-it-all attitude.  That "untouchable" and infallible attitude is exactly what costs him everything.

While he is driving at high speeds in the rain, he is talking on his cell phone and also looking at the images that are being sent to him on it.  Distracted from driving the car, he ends up in a serious accident that causes irreparable nerve damage to his hands.  In desperation to regain his surgical abilities, he undergoes several operations.  Some are even considered extremely risky.  

During rehab, he learns of one patient who actually was able to beat the odds and was miraculously healed.  Dr. Strange goes to visit the man to find out his secret.  The man sends him in search of the "Ancient One".  When he finally finds her, she rejects him at first, but is convinced by Mordo, one of the masters, that she should reconsider and admit Dr. Strange.  That is when the martial arts instruction and spiritual teaching begins.

Because Dr. Stephen Vincent Strange has a photographic memory, he learns the fundamental basics of sorcery quickly by reading, but the actual focused ability takes longer for him to master.  Once he does, he has to decide if he wants to harness his new found abilities to heal his own physical handicap or if he will stand as the defender of the universe against the evil Kaecilius, who wishes to usher in the master of darkness to rule the world eternally.

To find out what Doctor Strange decides, you will need to see the movie yourself.


Conclusion and My Opinion of the Movie Doctor Strange


This is a great movie that I could easily recommend to anyone.  Since it is based on the Marvel comics, it is intended for all ages.  As with any fiction, especially comics that feature superheroes and supervillans with extraordinary powers, there is a required ability to suspend reality.  However, the struggle between our world and the supernatural does seem to have a parallel to reality and our constant struggle of good against evil.

One note, Mordo's character is a bit different in the movie than in the Marvel comics.  In the movie, he is a needed ally, however in the comics Mordo is a supervillian who plots to kill both the Ancient One and Doctor Strange.  I believe the movie ended in a way that sets the stage for Mordo to transition to his original character, but in this movie, he plays a good guy.
 


When you see the movie, be sure you stay until the very end of the credits.  There is extra footage that you will not want to miss!  

To my fellow contributor Buckhawk, you will be especially interested in that footage because it includes Thor.




See More Movie Reviews on ReviewThisMovies.com

Doctor Strange Movie Review Written by:
House of Sylvestermouse





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Thursday, November 10, 2016

Visiting Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse

Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse

Reviewing our Visit to Portsmouth Lighthouse

 

Our son moved to New Hampshire this summer, so we made our first trip to visit his family in September.  While there we all took a Sunday afternoon drive to the coast and visited the town of Portsmouth Harbor.  I love lighthouses and I was anxious to show my two young granddaughters their first lighthouse.

The Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse is just north of the city of Portsmouth on the grounds of Fort Constitution.  Fort Constitution is a Revolutionary War fortification.  My granddaughters enjoyed walking around the grounds and seeing the old fortress.  After looking over the grounds we made our way to the lighthouse.  The lighthouse was available for climbing that afternoon so several of us decided to make the climb.  We found out the lighthouse is sometimes called  Fort Point Light, New Castle Light, and Fort Constitution Light in addition to Portmouth Lighthouse.

The photo below shows my granddaughter Emily climbing the steps to the lighthouse with her Mom.

 

View from the Top


Here are several photos I took from on top of the 48 foot lighthouse.  The first is the lens that can be seen for 12 nautical miles.


 

Zazzle Products from my Photographs

 





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