Sunday, December 18, 2016

A Coffee Table Desk - When a Regular Desk is Too Much

Coffee Table Desk, & More Here
When you just don't have the space to incorporate a typical office in your home, or simply want a second place to do your work, a Coffee Table Desk is an ideal solution.

A Review - The Top 10 Benefits of a Coffee Table Desk

1. The obvious benefit is the space saving aspect. A coffee table desk allows you to include a working surface in your living or family room without having to bring in another piece of furniture.

2. You're able to save money by incorporating two pieces of furniture into one.

3. You can also find coffee table desks that include built-in storage thus giving that designated square footage triple use. Store your office supplies inside your coffee table desk.

4. It's not only a desk to do your own work on, it's also a place for the kids to do their homework, or their fun creative projects.

5. The elevated surface gives you a way to have your coffee cup in a more convenient reach AND go ahead and eat dinner in front of the TV without a hassle.
My family room
has space for a desk in the corner.
However, a Coffee Table Desk
is another viable solution.

6. Some designs give you storage, a coffee table, and a desk combined. Despite all of this built-in convenience, the looks are sleek and easily blend with existing decor.

7. Prices range as do quality and design. If you need a more expensive elaborate piece, there are many to choose from. Or if you simply require a basic solution, there are designs with prices that reflect that purpose as well.

8. When you plan to redecorate and no longer require your coffee table desk in the room, its versatility allows you to transfer it to just about any other room in the home. Or go ahead and pass it along to a young adult for their first apartment or dorm.

9.  Many designs still offer an open bottom; something that's important in a small room. Closed full bottom coffee tables make a room look smaller. However, if your room is larger, go ahead and choose a fully closed-bottom coffee table desk. Many of the closed-in designs offer numerous built-in drawers.

10. And lastly, life is too short not to decorate your home the way your want!

You can check out additional coffee table desk designs here, where you'll find pieces ranging from traditional to modern.

Happy Funky Decorating :)



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Saturday, December 17, 2016

Sweet Ginger Cheese Muffins - Recipe Review

Sweet Ginger Muffins copyright BuckHawk 


Looking for easy, vegan and gluten-free muffin recipes, I came across a delicious looking sweet ginger one. But, it wasn't completely perfect to go with the soup I was planning for dinner. Therefore, I did the conversions needed to end up with Sweet Ginger Cheese Muffins.

Here I'll tell you about the original recipe along with the changes I made to create my new muffin recipe. Although my recipe is both vegan and gluten-free, I've included the easy changes you can make to convert it to standard diet fare.



The Original Muffin Recipe


Great Gluten-Free Vegan Eats
One of my favorite vegan and gluten-free cookbooks is Allyson Kramer's Great Gluten-Free Vegan Eats from Around the World. In her section titled Tasty Treats from Central and South America, she includes a recipe for Chilean-Style Sweet Ginger Cake. This was the recipe that enticed me into creating my own version.

Sweet Ginger Cake is meant to be a dessert. But, to go with the potato leek soup I was serving, I wanted something a bit less desserty. Ergo, less sugar and sweet ingredients and the addition of vegan cheese shreds and nutritional yeast. The result was a delicious cheesy muffin similar to sponge cake in texture.

Sweet Ginger Cheese Muffins Recipe


Ingredients and directions:
  • 2/3 cup vegan margarine 
  • 1/3 cup raw sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cream these ingredients together until they form a smooth paste. I used my stand mixer for this. It just goes so much faster.

Then add in:
  • 2 teaspoons dried, ground ginger
  • 1/3 cup tapioca flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 2 cups gram flour
  • 1/4 cup honey, agave or other sweetner
  • 1 1/2 cups almond milk
Mix all of this together until you have a smooth batter. Finally fold in 1/2 cup of shredded cheese. I used a combination of Daiya brand mozzarella and cheddar style vegan shreds.

Grease and flour 12 standard muffin cups and divide the mixture among the tins. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until golden brown on top.

Recipe Notes


For those of you who are not familiar with vegan and gluten free cooking, many of these ingredients will sound foreign. But every single one is available in health food stores and online.

If you want to make these muffins in a more conventional way, you can easily replace the vegan margarine for butter, replace both the tapioca and gram flour with all-purpose flour, skip the xanthan gum and replace the vegan versions of milk and cheese with dairy versions.

Nutritional yeast is not like standard bread yeast. It's deactivated and more similar to brewer's yeast. It adds a cheesy flavor and vitamin B12 to anything it's added to. Nutritional yeast is found in a dried version, either flakes or powder. If you don't have nutritional yeast, you may want to add more cheese shreds.

Either way you want to make this recipe, you will enjoy a combination of flavors. Unexpected combination, I agree, but the result will complement soups and stews wonderfully.


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Friday, December 16, 2016

Christmas in Connecticut Movie Review

http://www.reviewthisreviews.com/2016/12/christmas-in-connecticut-movie-review.html
Last week I reviewed a fabulous contemporary romantic Christmas movie, The Spirit of Christmas. This week I am shifting the focus back to an old holiday classic.  Christmas in Connecticut may be over 70 years old, but it is far from outdated.  It is simply a fun movie about a woman who gets caught in her deceptions and tries desperately to cover her tracks, and keep her job!

Barbara Stanwyck takes the lead role as Elizabeth Lane in this Christmas romantic comedy and Dennis Morgan plays the part of the unsuspecting soldier who joins her "family" for Christmas.
 
For some of you it may matter that this movie is in black and white. It has not been colorized like some of the old classics.  For me, I enjoy the step back into a simpler time and a movie that stands on it's own as pure entertainment.



Synopsis of the Christmas in Connecticut Movie Plot


Elizabeth Lane is an extremely popular journalist who claims to be a fabulous cook, a wife, a mother, and the ideal homemaker.  She is able to write well enough that no one even suspects she is unmarried and completely clueless about preparing food.  Even the publisher has no idea she is a fraud. 

 Christmas in Connecticut (BD) [Blu-ray]The story takes place during WWII.  Jefferson Jones is one of two survivors when his naval warship was torpedoed by a German submarine.  He and his fellow survivor spent 18 days in a raft on the ocean.   Needless to say, they were literally starving and Jefferson dreamed of a fabulous meal anytime he slept.  When they were finally rescued and hospitalized, Jefferson could not eat solid food and was placed on a milk diet.  He continued to crave a real meal.  He was so desperate to eat, that he even proposed to one of the nurses so she would take sympathy on him and bring him food.

After 6 weeks in the hospital, and many meals, he was no longer anxious to get married.  The nurse thought that if he simply experienced a home for Christmas and observed how wonderful it could be to have a wife, that surely he would follow through and marry her.  She wrote Alexander Yardley, the publisher of the magazine that employed Elizabeth Lane.  She requested that they extend an invitation for Christmas to this soldier who had been through such an ordeal and had no where to go for the holidays.  In response to the letter, Mr. Yardley insisted that Elizabeth Lane and her family include Mr. Jones in their Christmas celebration.  No only that, Mr. Yardley invites himself to come spend a few days with them for Christmas too.

That is where the fun begins!  Elizabeth must find a farm, a husband, a child and learn to cook outstanding meals in a few short days before Mr. Jones and Mr. Yardley show up to join her and her family for a Christmas in Connecticut. 

http://www.reviewthisreviews.com/2016/12/christmas-in-connecticut-movie-review.html


Christmas in Connecticut Trailer


This is an old Hallmark channel trailer.   I did check the Hallmark channel schedule for showtimes.  At the time of publishing, Christmas in Connecticut was not on this seasons schedule.   However, you can continue to check it here:








Check Out More Movie Reviews at ReviewThisMovies.com



Christmas in Connecticut Movie Review Written by:
House of Sylvestermouse





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Thursday, December 15, 2016

Inferno Book Review

Dan Brown Inferno Book Review

A page turner. A real thriller. I absolutely could not put it down. Obviously, I was not alone in my appreciation for this book as it was number one on the New York Times bestseller list for eleven weeks.

Dan Brown InfernoDan Brown's Inferno is the fourth book in the Da Vinci Code series following The Da Vinci Code, The Lost Symbol and Angels and Demons.  In the latest volume, character Robert Langdon awakens in hospital suffering from amnesia. He remembers nothing of the previous days but memory or not, the book erupts into chaos fairly quickly. Langdon is in possession of a special code and discovers hidden parts of Florence and ancient secrets as well as a scientific situation that may improve or devastate life on earth.

Inferno is set mostly in Florence with some time spent in Venice and Istanbul. The jacket says that it "is a sumptuously entertaining read - a novel that will captivate readers with the beauty of classical Italian art, history and literature while also posing provocative questions about the role of cutting edge science in our future." I agree.

If you are up for an exciting adventure, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this book. If you are going to Florence, Italy, there is simply no choice. You HAVE to read this book. Inferno was but one of the Italy-themed books we read before we had the opportunity to travel to Italy in October and I am glad that we did read it. If you cannot travel to Italy in person, you can do some armchair travelling with the book, which brilliantly explores Florence's Palazzo Vecchio, the Boboli Gardens and the Duomo.

Personally, I would love to own the special edition book shown above, which is illustrated and includes more than 200 color images. It is the version that I would choose if I were gifting this book to a mystery reader, a Da Vinci Code fan or to someone travelling to Italy.  Here's a video peek at what to expect in the special edition version of the book:


Just watching the video makes me want to read the book again and, of course, go back to Italy! If you are interested, you can find all of the versions of Inferno on Amazon here.

On a final note, the movie version of Inferno was fine.  It was interesting to visit Italy again through the eyes of the movie camera but be warned that it paled in comparison to the book. I also found myself wondering how much one would enjoy the movie if they did not have the knowledge of the story that reading the book gave. This is definitely a situation where the book far surpassed the movie.

Please stay tuned for more Italy-themed book reviews.

Happy Reading!
Brenda
Treasures By Brenda

Quick Link:

Buy Dan Brown's Inferno on Amazon.







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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Use MalloMe LED Camping Lanterns When Lights Go Out: A Review

Light Up the Darkness with a MalloMe™ Lantern

Power outages don't normally warn you before they occur. Your power can fail any time -- not just in stormy weather when you might be half expecting an outage. All it takes is for a car to hit a power line. Suddenly you may be in the dark -- unless you have an emergency light supply handy.




As I learned one day, even birds on a power line can cause a short. Two weeks ago I learned a fuse can blow out in a transformer in my neighborhood. That day we lost power for four hours. These men were fixing the problem. 




The Night the Lights Went Out

Silly me! There we were watching TV. There was a popping sound that silenced the TV and knocked out all the power. We had one flashlight within reach. I didn't even know where the candles were. After scrounging through the cupboards I found a few, but they weren't really suitable. I had to use them anyway since my camping lanterns were all at our other house. I hadn't thought to bring them here. 

 Except for those candles and a couple of flashlights, we were in the dark. Fortunately, the outage only lasted about an hour. It was a wake-up call. The next day the power was off during the day for about four hours. When it came back on I was off to Amazon to prepare myself for the next failure. I bought several more flashlights and these wonderful MalloMe LED Lanterns


Why Did I Choose the MalloMe™ Lanterns?

I wanted lanterns that were powered by AA batteries and were easy to operate. They needed to be small and lightweight. I wanted them to be able to hang or to stand on a table. These lanterns met my requirements. In addition, they are built with military grade water-resistant materials. 

The lanterns in my photo above are about 2/3 of the actual size. With the handles all the way up, these are ten inches high. When they are fully collapsed for storage with the handles down they are only 4.9 inches high. Their footprint is just 3.46 inches in diameter. They are about the size of a soft drink can, but a tad wider. 


 

Getting My Lanterns Ready to Use


The package was user-friendly. Unlike the flashlights I ordered, these lanterns came in an easy-to-open cardboard box. I didn't hurt myself trying to open it. Each lantern had its own compartment and all I had to do was pull them out of the box -- not pry off clamshells to get at them. 

I  bought a box of four, each in a different color. That makes it easy to tell them apart if necessary. Each color could be assigned to a different family member. One can also keep track of when batteries are changed in each lantern more easily. 

The Amazon description page said there would be two light colors, but mine were all white -- the way I like them. There was also mention of a  marshmallow roasting and Smores making recipe ebook at no extra charge, but I can't find a way to access it. It seems someone used the description of the two-pack on the page for the four-pack. I don't really care about getting the book, so it doesn't matter to me. 

Inserting the batteries is easy. Just unscrew the bottom of the lantern to expose the battery compartment. Then insert the three AA batteries (not included) as clearly indicated. The lid as pictured here is larger than the actual size. 


Now screw the lid back on and you are ready to roll. 

Operating the MalloMe™ LED Lanterns

To turn the lantern on, pull the handles up. What could be easier! To adjust the amount of light, just move the handles up and down to expose more of the lantern or shield it. 


How Much Light Can You Expect to Get?

I took some photos to show you. First, let's see how dark the bathroom is with only a rechargeable flashlight plugged in. It's a pretty good night light, and it turns into a flashlight when the power goes out. It also gives light when it's recharging. I bought two of those at the same time I bought the MalloMe LED Lanterns. For some reason the light reflects twice against the shower door, multiplying the light. 


The flashlight is plugged into the wall by the door and you can't see it here. It's behind me as I take the picture. 

The lantern is on the top of the toilet. I unplugged the rechargeable flashlight before taking this photo. The lantern provides enough light to do what one needs to do in the bathroom safely. One can still brush teeth, wash hands, etc. 


Since the lantern has a stable bottom it can sit on any flat surface. It  can also hang if you have a place to hang it. You can also easily carry it to a different room. We can carry them wherever we need to go, so four is enough. My husband found it gave him enough light to read by. I can use my Kindle's light for reading. 

Where Can I Use These Lanterns?

You can use them in the house, in the garage, in a workshop, or outdoors.  Although I purchased these to use indoors during power outages, they are really camping lanterns. They are light enough to go in a backpack, and they don't take up much room. They are perfect for lighting tents. They are described as water resistant. Some reviewers have used them in rain with no damage.

I can see they would be great to have in the car in case we have a problem on the road. I think I'll also take one along next time we go to a motel, since they are easier to carry to the bathroom than a flashlight and will stand flat. Normally we use a flashlight because we don't want to wake each other during the wee small hours. 


My Opinion of the MalloMe™ LED Lanterns

I am very happy with this purchase. I'm actually sorry that I didn't buy more of these and I probably will buy another set later. The light is bright enough to keep us functional during power outages and it spreads in all directions, unlike a flashlight. Here I turned out all the lights in the family room at night. All the light comes from the lantern. I did not use a flash to take this photo. Unfortunately, the lantern gave enough light for you to see my husband's stack of stuff he's supposed to sort to see what we can get rid of.



I like the small size and the light weight that makes these lanterns so portable. Even with batteries, they are not heavy. Though they are light, they are not flimsy. They take very little storage space. Their simple design and attractive colors help them blend into the rooms where I want to keep them.

I have hidden a couple in the family room. Photo A has a lantern on the mantle. If I didn't have the handles up you might not see it at all. I shot from a different angle in Photo C to make the lantern clearly visible. Photo B is the top of the TV cabinet. I shot from an angle to make the lantern obvious. In Photo D I almost hid it. You wouldn't notice it at all if you were looking straight at the photos from the front. 





   I really appreciate how easy it was to get these ready to use. Compared to the heavy camping lanterns we bought years ago that we keep at our rural house, these are much more convenient to set up and use. No pouring of fuels or priming. No odd-sized batteries. The lanterns use the same AA batteries (not included) that I keep on hand for my flashlights, computer keyboard, and mouse. Some reviewers use rechargeable batteries. 




I highly recommend these to anyone who needs a temporary light supply inside or out. I am  very glad I bought them. Get a set or two of these and you'll be prepared to see your way around whether you have electric power or not. 

I took all photos with a Canon PowerShot SX410 IS Point and Shoot Camera. Most photos were taken without using the flash. This camera works  better in low light than my Nikon point and shoot cameras. 


***



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Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Elephant Necklace Reviewed

Gift Idea For The Elephant Lover

elephant necklace
Elephant Necklace In Gift Box
In the last few weeks I have talked about my little granddaughter who has a passion for elephants and wants to protect them from poaching. I decided to review an elephant necklace that she will also be getting as a Christmas present this year for today's post. Grandma has made this an elephant themed holiday for this precious little girl.

While searching for an elephant necklace I had a few things that I wanted to find in that necklace. I wanted it to be no longer than 18 inches because it will be worn by a 5 year old little girl. I figured that at that length she will be able to wear it for years to come.

I also wanted for it to be sterling silver so that it would last for years to come and not tarnish with wear. Little girls can be rough on jewelry; so I wanted something of value.

The last item on my list of "it must haves" was that the trunk had to be up on the elephant. We will talk more about  the reason for that choice in a minute.

I found there was quite a nice selection to choose from and it took me a while to find what I think was the perfect one for her. So, here is the necklace that I decided would work well for my little grandchild.

The image above looks large but that is so that you can see the detail of the elephant. The actual size is small and very delicate looking. It will not be too large for her small frame and as she grows it will remain quite feminine looking as she wears it.

Why did I want the trunk up on the elephant? Many say that an elephant with its trunk up will bring good fortune or good luck to people. Some might even say that if the trunk is down it will bring bad luck. That being said, I did find that some people believe the opposite and that an elephant with its trunk down allows good fortune to flow through easily. I am going with the trunk up theory because it makes more sense to me and besides the elephant looks happier and less menacing in my humble opinion.

dainty elephant necklace
Dainty Elephant Necklace
As you can see from my images the elephant necklace comes in a pretty little gift box. I also felt that sharing my own images with you might give a better perspective of how dainty the little pendant is on the chain. The chain, itself, has a nice delicate look to it but appears to be good and sturdy which is also a necessity for a child.

One of the features that sold me on this particular choice was the added little bling. It looks like the pachyderm is wearing a necklace of diamonds. Of course they are not real diamonds but it does give the illusion of them. She is very much a little girl who loves fancy and shiny things! I think she will be delighted when she opens the gift on Christmas morning. I can already hear her saying, "Grandma will you help me put it on?"

Although, I picked this gift for a child; it is a nice gift idea for a girl of any age who happens to love elephants. It is very nicely made and would look great with casual wear or dressy attire. 



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Monday, December 12, 2016

Tabletop Christmas Tree Reviews

'Tis the season to decorate. The problem is that you may believe that you do not not have sufficient time or space to bother with decorating a full-sized Christmas tree. Perhaps, you are feeling as though you are lacking in Christmas spirit. I am happy to let you know that there is always time and space for a tabletop Christmas tree. In this review, I will share some of my favorite small Christmas tree decorating ideas.

Because I am very busy, live on the third floor, and have an empty nest I have not put up a full-sized tree for years. There have been years that I haven't put a tree up at all. But when I do, as I have this year, I lean toward small trees for convenience. I tend to pay close attention to how others utilize tabletop and small floor stand Christmas trees. The following trees are a few of the best choices for small spaces. 


Lighted, Ceramic Christmas Trees

Lighted, green ceramic tree

I remember these lighted, ceramic, tabletop Christmas trees from my childhood.  I loved the green ceramic tree with the multi-colored bulbs that my grandmother had on the table most years.   She also always had a fresh cut tree, often reaching to the ceiling. But as a child I always thought there was something magical about Grandma's tiny tree.

Over the years, these ceramic trees were sometimes painted with white glaze. Or were painted green with a spray snow added to the branches. Some of the trees have white lights. But my favorite will always be the green trees with multi-colored bulbs. Trees such as this can become a family heirloom.


Charlie Brown's Christmas Tree


14" Charlie Brown tree
One year a friend's parents gave my friend a Christmas tree.  It was a Charlie Brown Christmas tree complete with one ornament on a spindly branch and Linus' blanket wrapped around the trunk.  I fell in love with that little tree and have always planned to get one for myself. I have not yet done so. 

Every time I see a little Charlie Brown tree, warm and fuzzy childhood memories come back - Charlie Brown and friends gathered together around their tree.


Lighted, Fiber Optic Christmas Tree


36" tall fiber optic tree
Fiber optic trees are great for small spaces. They come in many heights and colors. Whether or choose a green tree or a white tree, you will love the ease of set-up.  I own a fiber optic tree and have set it up over the past several years. It only takes a few minutes to pull it out of the box, spread the "branches" back out, and set the tree on the base. My particular tree plugs in to an electrical outlet. Other fiber optic trees require batteries. The brightly colored fiber optics change colors and cast a subtle, pretty glow. 

With the lights built-in to the tree, you don't have to try to untangle cords or work at spacing the bulbs on the tree.  You can add ornaments if you wish but don't have to since the changing lights are pretty enough on their own. 

I did not originally think I'd like a fiber optic tree, but I really did. The only reason I didn't set it up this year is because I wanted a live tree this year.


Live, Potted Evergreen Trees


photo credit:  FotoJet and Pixabay
This year I chose a live, potted evergreen.  I chose it thinking that I would plant it on my land in the spring.  I brought the tree home then did some research. Oops.  Potted evergreen trees (meant for planting outdoors later) do better if they are brought indoors for only a matter of days. The change in temperatures in cold climates from the nursery, to inside your home, and back outdoors is often too shocking. Or, if the plant is kept indoors until spring, it is not easy to keep it from becoming too dry after being exposed to the heat of your living space. 

If you want to buy a potted evergreen in order to plant it outside, please do some research. Many people do plant their Christmas trees successfully after the holiday. Better Homes and Gardens has a helpful article that you may want to read so that you are prepared. 

Fortunately, my tiny potted tree is in a very cool section of my apartment, so there may be hope even though I plunged in without the helpful information.

There are many reasons to buy a potted Christmas tree. These are a few:

  • the qualities of a fresh cut tree - including fragrance
  • possibility of planting after the holidays
  • an enormous selection of sizes, shapes, and tree varieties
  • pre-decorated selections - matching almost any decor
  • a large selection of mini-lights and ornaments so you can decorate your own tree


Mini lights and Ornaments for Potted Christmas Trees


I have been tempted by the many, very pretty pre-decorated trees. But this year I wanted to decorate my own in silver.  I purchased a string of 50 white mini lights, a pack of silver jingle bells, and one "full-sized" glittery snowflake ornament.  I strung the lights, hung the jingle bells, and used floral wire to attach the snowflake to the top as my "star".  

No matter your tree decorating preference (country, sparkling, minimal, loaded) or your color preference, you will easily find small ornaments to meet your needs.


"Old World" mini ornaments

If you have time, space, and Christmas spirit to spare, you probably already decorate with table top trees in addition to a larger tree. And already have your own favorite type of tiny tree. But if you have never tried a table top tree, maybe this is the year to do so.


Related Article:

Our own Review This! contributor, Barbara Tremblay Cipak, reviewed time- and space-saving Pull Up Christmas Trees. These pre-decorated trees store in a flat box or bag and "pull up" to 
a standing tree in a matter of moments. If you prefer a slightly larger tree, but need the smallest storage space possible for the remainder of the year, these pull up trees and the fiber optic trees mentioned above are very good choices. Both of these options eliminate the extra storage of lights, ornaments, and accessories.



Introduction photo design courtesy of FotoJet and Pixaby


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Sunday, December 11, 2016

Christmas Tree Alternatives

Christmas Tree Wall Decal - A Fathead
More Here
Last Sunday we talked about the convenience of Pull-Up-Christmas-Trees, and this week's feature is another Christmas Tree alternative that's even simpler...Christmas Tree Wall Decals.

TIME - The Gift We Give Ourselves

How many times during the holiday season have you heard someone say, "I'm so busy, I don't know how I'll get everything done"

If you haven't heard it yet, congratulations, you're surrounded by a bunch of calm people!

Christmas is just around the corner, and I personally know a few people who will either skip putting up a tree or are still undecided.

There's no need to skip the holiday season entirely: Christmas Tree Wall Decals are an excellent alternative to putting up a standard tree. Best of all, they're not expensive, making them easy to feature throughout the home.

Most Wall Decals Go Up Easy, and Come Down Easy

Although most decals go up easy and come down easy, one of the better brands is manufactured by a company called 'Fathead'.

Fathead's are a superior graphic that use a low-grade adhesive making them easy to remove without the worry of wall damage.

They're also made from tear resistant high-grade vinyl. However, you will be paying more to get this kind of quality, but they're still reasonable in comparison to putting up a fully decorated tree.

There are other manufacturers, styles, designs and price-ranges to choose from. When you visit the link under the above photo, you'll be taken to a page that features several other artsy choices.

Find a wall, put up a tree, then store it away til next year .... doesn't get much easier than that!

Have a Merry Christmas NOT a Harry Christmas!


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Saturday, December 10, 2016

Gift of a Letter - Book Review

Gift of a Letter

As Christmas cards and holiday letters from faraway friends and family begin to arrive in my mailbox, I'm reminded once again of how much I love receiving handwritten notes.  In today's 'instant' society, with communicating reduced to emails and cell phone texts, our outside mailboxes now contain mostly junk mail and any bills one hasn't changed over to 'paperless' delivery. Seldom do we find a real letter today arriving as 'snail mail', except greeting cards for holidays and birthdays, perhaps with a handwritten note.


Gift of a Letter by Alexandra Stoddard


Available on Amazon

In her book "Gift of a Letter", Alexandra Stoddard tells us about the 'power' of a letter and includes the elements of letter writing and how it touches those you love.

Letters are the most natural form of autobiography, allowing us to be personal and specific. The author tells us that by writing a letter to a friend, it brings that person into your day! The scenes and stories told linger as long as the letter, and beyond!  It's a special way of sharing ourselves with others.

Image Source: Pixabay
A phone call is a convenience, an email or text is quick, but a LETTER is a Gift!  It's never interrupted, it doesn't require immediate attention, and it can be saved and savored.   It's a treat with no strings attached.

Letters are sent to people we want in our lives and a way to stay close to friends who mean so much to us. Re-reading old letters can remind us of past pleasures and memories.  The  nostalgia it produces can be a wonderful reward.  Author  Stoddard states that "there is always time to write, just as there is time to enjoy life."



I Love Mail


Image Source: Pixabay
The importance of receiving letters became immediately apparent to me my first week in college living in a dormitory.  Suddenly I found myself over 1,000 miles away from home ~ for the very first time. Going away to college is an adventure and a wonderful feeling of being independent and 'grown up'. But you don't realize until then also how lonely those first few weeks can feel. The first letter-from-home I received was such a happy moment.  Before I even read the letter, the feeling of being loved and 'remembered' nearly overwhelmed me. Such a small thing, that letter, yet it instantly connected me with my faraway family in a way I've never forgotten. After that day, mail call became my favorite part of each day.  The anticipation of receiving a letter got me through some difficult adjustment times in the beginning.  And it set up an expectation I've never gotten over -- so much so that even today, 50 years later, I still hope to find a real letter or handwritten note in my mailbox. With today's instant communications, it doesn't happen very often, but when it does it's a very special moment.


Because of the joy I've always felt from receiving letters, all my life I have been a  letter-writer. Even with the quick availability of emails and such, I just enjoy mailing out everything from long letters to a couple lines on a postcard to cute greeting cards all year long to my grandsons. Kids LOVE getting mail addressed to them. It makes them feel someone knows them for themselves. 


Notes as a Thoughtful Gesture


Image Source: Pixabay
Letters don't have to be long to be enjoyed and appreciated by the recipient. How many of you have done as I have and stuck little 'smiley face' notes in our kids' lunch pails or a quick "I Love You" note in our husband's briefcase. 


Coming across little notes like that is sure to be a sweet surprise and undoubtedly will bring a smile to their faces. 


Author Alexandra Stoddard


When Alexandra was just five years old, her godmother sent her a note inviting her to visit for the weekend.  She remembers vividly that her full name was spelled out on the envelope and the letter was signed by an adult she loved.  To her godmother, she was a real-live person, not just her parents'  little girl. That letter instilled in Alexandra a passion for letter writing and receiving she has had her entire life. 


Alexandra Stoddard is more than an author of numerous books; she is also an interior decorator, a contemporary philosopher, and a speaker. You can find her website at alexandrastoddard.com


At age 75, she continues with her writing, seminars and lectures which contain a positive personal philosophy of ways to live a beautiful and happy life.  For a list of her other books available on Amazon, click here.



Give the 'Gift of a Letter'


(c) Wednesday Elf
This book "Gift of a Letter" was published in 1990 and today is hard to find.  Some sellers on Amazon and others on eBay still have copies. 


Other books on the subject of letter-writing ARE readily available, as seen in the list below. But I DO like my little book, as it's a wonderful reminder for me to dash off a note or send a card with a hand-written message or even write a long letter to a dear friend I've been missing.  The time it takes to do so is rewarded ten times over by the joy the recipient has when the letter/card/note arrives in their mailbox! 




Quick Links:

Gift of a Letter on Amazon
Gift of a Letter on eBay



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Friday, December 9, 2016

The Spirit of Christmas (2015) Movie Review

 A fabulous romantic suspense Christmas movie.  When Kate is tasked with selling Hollygrove Inn, she finds the house is haunted by a handsome ghost who she finds hard to resist.
When I am decorating for Christmas, I have to take breaks to eat.   During those breaks, I kick my feet up and enjoy my dinner with a movie.  I frequently depend on the classics like "Miracle of 34th Street" or "Christmas in Connecticut" because I know the stories will be delightfully enchanting.  This year, instead of pulling out one of my faithful DVDs, I decided to watch a new movie online.   Well, at least for one of my breaks, I decided to watch a new movie. The classics still await!

After a brief search on Amazon, I found a new Christmas movie that sounded quite appealing to me.  The description of The Spirit of Christmas reminded me of one of my all time favorite movies, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir.  Now, it would be most unreasonable for me to think I could happen upon a current day movie equal to The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, but I did very much enjoy watching The Spirit of Christmas

Part of what makes The Ghost and Mrs. Muir such a fabulous movie, are the actors that play the main characters.  Gene Tierney is timelessly gorgeous and Rex Harrison is simply a phenomenal actor that is appropriately dark, yet dignified.  By comparison, the main actress in The Spirit of Christmas, Jen Lilley, is stunningly beautiful and Thomas Beaudoin is a very handsome, distinguished ghost.  Both ghosts simply wish to be left alone in their homes.  Both women are determined to stay right where they are regardless of moody, sometimes overbearing spirits.

Plot of The Spirit of Christmas

The main story takes place current day, but as one would expect with ghosts, the past plays a huge part in the present.  Ninety-five years ago, Daniel Forsythe was returning home to his one true love for Christmas when he was murdered in the yard of his home.  Every year, he returns to Hollygrove Inn 12 days before Christmas.
 The Spirit of Christmas  
Present-day, Kate Jordan is a successful lawyer who is not successful in love.  Her career at Patton and Turner law firm comes first. And frankly, she isn't sure she even knows how to love.  

After the death of Henrietta Forsythe, Patton and Turner law firm becomes the executor of the Forsythe estate, which mostly consists of Hollygrove Inn.  As such, Kate is tasked with getting the inn appraised and sold before the end of the year.  That only gives her 3 weeks to get the job done.  The biggest problem Kate faces is getting a loyal appraiser for the property.  It is widely known that Hollygrove Inn is haunted by it's previous owner, Daniel Forsythe.

Shortly after arriving at Hollygrove Inn in Vermont, Kate meets Daniel Forsythe.  He is not at all what she expected.  To begin with, he is well dressed and she can actually touch him.  Plus, he enjoys eatting real food.  He is nothing like what she expected of a ghost.  After hearing the story of how he was murdered and how his fiance' subsequently married his brother, Kate decides her number one focus should be solving Daniel's murder so he can rest in peace.  Thereby, also resolving the ghost problem of the inn.  As Daniel and Kate start working together, digging into his past, exploring his memories, they quickly become friends.  She finds that she actually cares about him and what really happened to him. 

However, it is not that simple and Daniel is not the only ghost haunting Hollygrove.





This really is a wonderful romantic suspense Christmas movie that I can highly recommend!  So, be sure to take a break this holiday, sit back, kick your feet up and watch The Spirit of Christmas




The Spirit of Christmas Movie Review Written by:
House of Sylvestermouse





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