Monday, September 10, 2018

A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner Book Review

Reviewing A Fall of Marigolds. 
A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner is both heart-breaking and triumphant. It is a story of two women who lost the men they loved during two separated tragedies. A co-worker recommended this book to me. The first chapter was easy to read. I was immediately hooked. Then I got bogged down in the second chapter. My co-worker encouraged me to continue reading. I'm so glad I did! 


A Fall of Marigolds


Chapter 1 begins with Taryn and the setting is Manhattan in September 2011. Her story begins at her job - a job she loves in a boutique fabrics shop. Her specialty is identifying and matching old fabrics. Taryn's word-of-mouth advertising is that she can always find a match to old and rare textiles. Her response is, "Almost always."  There is one piece of material that stumped her. Lily's "French-made from an Indian design, and surely a hundred years old" marigold patterned scarf was a mystery. 

Taryn was a young widow, her husband killed during the 9/11 attacks. And she was raising her daughter alone. Taryn had no way of knowing how that customers scarf would tie together the past and the future.

Chapter 2 opens with Nurse Clara at Ellis Island, August 1911. The shift from a setting in this century to a setting 100 years ago was jarring for me. I got stuck in Chapter 2 and had to re-start it a couple of times (from a combination of the book and from my typical response of falling asleep as soon as I begin reading).  Clara's voice was subdued and her story seemed as though it was going to be boring compared to Taryn's.  I am so glad I continued reading because Clara's story was not boring. 

We spend days with Clara and the other nurses and doctors on Ellis Island as they care for the immigrants who are ill, contagious, and often dying. It became very hard for me to put the book down as the relationships on the island, and the characters become fully formed. Clara has reason to sound subdued. She lost her love in the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire. 

The Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire occurred and the issues with the elevator and stairs trapped the workers on the floors above the fire. 145 people died, either in the building or while jumping to their deaths from the windows. 

Part way through Clara's story, I began to think that the author would tie the two story lines together in some fantastical or annoying way. I was happily wrong. The lives of the characters were woven together in a beautiful way.


Author Susan Meissner


In the Author's Note, Ms. Meissner writes 
"I strive to be as accurate as possible when I create an imagined story in a historic place .... I have in these pages proposed how one nurse might have experienced Ellis Island Hospital in the second half of 1911."

I enjoyed reading about Nurse Wood and the writing was so engaging that I could completely imagine the setting. A setting that I had never before given much thought. I felt as thought I was on the streets during 9/11. And as though I were watching Nurse Clara care for those who were recovering or dying on Ellis Island. 

The book dealt beautifully with tragic events, grief, and mourning. The age-old battles of how to make sense of tragedy, how much to let yourself love, and how quickly to trust. And finally, how does each person try to make sense of life, the "hard and beautiful aspects of a full life."





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Sunday, September 9, 2018

3 Items to Help Get the Kids Moving Faster in the Morning

Review of Specific Products to Help Speed Up the Kids in the Morning

There are numerous blogging tips on things you can do to speed up the little ones.

However, rather than rehash the standard suggestions, below are physical items you can include in your day.

1. Getting The Kids Out of Bed with Clocky

Those little sleepy heads can be a handful to wake-up. Take your troubles, and hand them over to a fun alarm clock. Clocky turns waking up in the morning into an annoyingly laughable event.

The kids get one chance to hit snooze, then Clocky jumps off the dresser making fun noises while it rolls around the bedroom. With Clocky, the days of multiple snooze button taps are over.

The kids have to get out of bed to shut it off.

2. Make the Beds with Zip-Up Bedding

Professional bed making doesn't come close to making the list when you and the kids have to be out the door by a certain time. However, there is a way to get them to make their beds without taking forever.

Try Zip-Up Bedding. It will speed up the bed making process while teaching the kids responsibility. Zip-Up bedding is exactly what it says; it zips up. There are no sheets to tuck in and no blankets to pull wrinkles out of.

The kids just get-up and zip-up.

3. Set a Deadline Using a Calendar with Reward/Completion Stickers

Stickers alone won't do it. Having the kids put a completion sticker on a calendar isn't enough incentive: You need to give them a deadline. In other words, the sticker needs to be placed on the calendar by "x time" in the morning.

Only when the tasks are completed, can they put their sticker on the calendar.

Here are some items for the kids 'getting-ready' list (Things to do before putting that sticker on the calendar):
  • Got out of bed
  • Got dressed and cleaned
  • Made the bed
  • School bag packed (if applicable)
Depending on your child's age, you can add more or less to the list.
Chore Chart for Kids - Magnetic Reward Calendar Board - Dry Erase Schedule Responsibility Charts - Toddler Behavior - Wall Sticker Rewards Magnets - Multiple Toddlers Family - Potty Training PlannerChore Chart for Kids - Magnetic Reward Calendar Board - Dry Erase Schedule Responsibility Charts - Toddler Behavior - Wall Sticker Rewards Magnets - Multiple Toddlers Family - Potty Training Planner
By giving the kids a time that the completion stickers are to be placed on the calendar, you're teaching them about deadlines.

If they don't get downstairs in time to put the sticker on the calendar as per your schedule, then stand firm and don't permit them to place their sticker for that day.

The calendar becomes a way of tallying how they're meeting the morning deadlines.

Don't make it a competition between siblings. The goal is for each child to improve their own habits, not to make them feel bad if their sibling is faster than they are. 

At the end of the month count up the stickers and give them a prize for their effort. That prize could be whatever works for your family; a trip to the park, a movie, an evening out to eat, pizza ordered in and so on. You decide.

Here's to your family getting out the door on time!



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Saturday, September 8, 2018

Reviewing Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan - The TV Series

Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan
My husband and I have been waiting for the television series Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan to start ever since we saw the first trailer.  It was released on Aug 31st 2018 here in Australia and as a family we finished watching it on the 2nd September 2018.  This is a big deal as the three of us all have busy lives and it takes quite a bit for us to find the time to watch a whole season together and this is the fastest we've ever managed it.

In case that doesn't convince you, it was great!  Now the great thing about this is that we all have different levels of knowledge about Jack Ryan and yet we all enjoyed this Amazon Prime series.  So who is Jack Ryan?

Jack Ryan is a character who was born in a novel by Tom Clancy, the son of a Baltimore cop and a nurse who serves as a marine before becoming a history teacher and finally joining the CIA.  A few of the books were made into blockbuster movies and now we have a television series.

Who Would Enjoy Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan, the Television Series?


Well anyone who likes action packed spy dramas will enjoy this series, you really don't have to know anything about Jack Ryan beforehand.

Let me give you a little background from my family's perspective.  I have read a few of the Jack Ryan novels and enjoyed them before watching the movies.  I must admit when I watched the first movie released The Hunt for Red October with Alec Baldwin playing Jack Ryan I enjoyed it, but wasn't sure which I preferred the book or the movie.

My husband loved the movie - he doesn't really enjoy fiction books so this was always going to be the case.

The next two movies that were released were Patriot Games then Clear & Present Danger with Harrison Ford playing the lead role of Jack Ryan.  Now I preferred these two movies to the books which is a rarity for me, but somehow they just brought the character alive for me.   As you can imagine, my husband loved the movies too!

My daughter hadn't watched any of these movies or read the books, so she was coming to the television series with no expectations.

All three of us thoroughly enjoyed the series and will be waiting with bated breath to see if it gets renewed.

How Does This Jack Ryan Stack Up?


I enjoyed John Krasinski's take on the Jack Ryan character, I haven't really seen him in much up to now.  I think he played the role really well.

Now I could get nitpicky and say that a couple of the scenes could've easily been left out and the continuity of story (from previous movies/books) relating to his relationship to the person who ends up as his wife didn't quite gel, but in reality none of that mattered.

Will We Be Watching Season 2?


The real test of a series is whether or not you'd watch the next season and in case you haven't realized the answer to that is a resounding yes.   I really do hope that they make a second series because otherwise there's going to be three very disgruntled people in this house!

Have You Read Tom Clancy's Books or Seen the Movies?

If you have I'd love to know what you thought of the Jack Ryan character (of course you could have read some of his other books!) and whether you think you'll be watching this series or not.



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Friday, September 7, 2018

Clorox 2 Free & Clear Laundry Stain Remover & Color Booster Reviewed

Clorox 2 Reviewed
I now add Clorox 2 to Every Load of Laundry!

Almost 2 years ago, we were forced to buy a new washing machine because our 20+ year old machine could no longer be repaired.  I was not at all prepared for what we discovered when shopping for a new laundry washer.  The newer models no longer have an agitator in the tub of the machine.  Many of you may have already discovered that during your own shopping quests, but I was shocked.

With a height of only 5' 2", I found I could not reach the bottom of the washing machine tubs on the display floor.  The salesman recommended I use a step stool.  Ugh, no!  I was not going to use a step stool to remove the washed laundry from my machine with every load of laundry, every day.  

I finally found a Kenmore washing machine at the 3rd store that had a sloped front inside the machine so I could actually reach the bottom of the tub when leaning in.  So, I thought problem solved.  I didn't expect the next problem at all.


Adding Clorox 2 to Our Wash 


Clorox 2 Free & Clear Laundry Stain Remover & Color Booster Reviewed
Washing Machine with No Agitator Requires Clorox 2
Our new machine arrived and I was thrilled to be able to wash clothes again.  That is, until I smelled the first few loads of washed laundry.  For a while, I was able to convince myself that it was because the machine was new.  It was not!  

Oh, how I missed my agitator washing machine!!!  My clean clothes smelled musty, which made me think they were not clean.

I tried adding vinegar to every load.  It seemed to help some, but I could still smell traces of that nasty musty smell.  Using a scented detergent might have worked, but I'm not keen on covering one smell with another.  Plus, I am allergic to most scented detergents.  Actually, I am allergic to all scented detergents that I have ever tried, but I said "most" simply because there might be one I could use that I have never tried.

Finally, after a year of hating the smell of our clean clothes and being clueless what to do other than buy another new machine, I spied the Clorox 2 on the grocery shelf.  I had used it years ago as a color booster so I knew I was safe to try it again.  Glory be!  It actually worked!!!  

Not only does it help maintain the color of our clothes, but it actually cleans away that musty smell.  Once again, our clothes, bed linens and towels smell clean.

 Clorox 2 Free & Clear Laundry Stain Remover & Color BoosterCheck PriceThank you Clorox 2 for giving me back clean, and not stinky, clothes & linens!

How I Use Clorox 2

I measure only to the first line on the  cup lid of Clorox 2 and add it in with my regular washing detergent.  That way, it lasts a lot longer, but still does the job.

If you find you are experiencing the same issue with the new agitatorless washing machines, or if you want a color booster for your clothes, I highly recommend Clorox 2.  I do prefer the "Fragrance & Dye Free" option, but decades ago I did use the regular scent and didn't have any problems with it.  I should note, I cannot touch bleach without having an allergic reaction, or even smell it without getting an extreme headache, but the Clorox 2 doesn't bother me at all. 

Here's to having clean, vibrant, and fresh smelling clothes!



 

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Thursday, September 6, 2018

Ryka Devo Plus 2 Walking Shoes - Review

Ryka Devo Plus 2 Walking Shoes Review
As a lifelong athlete and former coach, I have learned there is one thing we should never skimp on: our footwear.  This is true for anyone with an active lifestyle.  If your feet aren't happy, it's almost impossible to enjoy such simple pleasures as a revitalizing walk in a beautiful park.  Recently, when I began preparing with my dog, Finn, for a charity walking event, I could tell it was time to replace my worn-out running shoes.  My knees and hips were sore after every three-mile workout.  Fortunately, I was able to quickly alleviate my joint pain and discomfort by switching to a new pair of Ryka Devo Plus 2 walking shoes.  I'd like to share with you why this is my fifth purchase of Ryka shoes.

If you haven't discovered the Ryka brand yet, you are in for a treat.  First and foremost, Ryka is a company specializing in footwear for women.  It makes all the difference in the world when such an important product is customized for the female anatomy.  Until I found Ryka, my super sensitive feet suffered when forced into shoes that were essentially men's footwear sized down for women.  For a long time, that was really the only option we had.

Imagine my delight, then, when I tried on my first pair of Ryka training shoes.  My feet were ecstatic.  For the first time in, well, forever, blisters, sore heels, and aching arches were a thing of the past.  Fast forward to today — nearly 15 years and thousands of miles since buying my first Ryka fitness shoes.  Having previously owned four pairs of their running and cross-training shoes, it was time to purchase a pair specifically geared towards walking.  In case you are wondering, yes, it does make a difference when you wear shoes made for a particular activity.

It was easy to choose the Ryka Devo (Devotion) Plus 2 walking shoes.  They are wildly popular and are a best-seller on Amazon.  As I skimmed through a sampling of hundreds of five-star rated reviews, it was apparent why so many women are totally devoted to this particular Ryka shoe.  As soon as my new shoes arrived, I joined the legion of fans.

Right out of the box I experienced something quite rare: no break-in period with the Devo Plus 2 shoes.  Amazingly, I was able to immediately walk for miles without my usual knee pain.  What a relief!  Here are a few additional things I love about my new Ryka walking shoes:

  1. Luxurious cushioning.
  2. So lightweight I barely know I am wearing shoes.
  3. Breathable mesh that keeps my feet perfectly cool.
  4. My feet feel refreshed even after a 12-hour day on the go.
And did I mention all the great color options?  I went with the navy/teal combo, which goes so well with my typical casual wardrobe.  I have a feeling you will be drawn to one of these pleasing color choices: black/purple, blue/pink, white/blue, grey/coral, plum/turquoise, grey/teal, black/pink, or navy/teal.  I like several of these combinations.

As you can probably tell,  I highly recommend the Ryka Women's Devo Plus 2 walking shoes.  I am completely satisfied with their value, excellent quality, and the great deal I got on Amazon (25% off retail and free two-day shipping).  When you check out additional buyer comments, by following any of the links in this review, you will learn that many women have made this shoe their preferred everyday work shoe (like nurses and other professionals who spend a lot of time on their feet every day).  Having worn these shoes daily now for about a month, I am not surprised.  Have you tried the Ryka brand?  If so, I hope you will share your experience.  Thanks for stopping by!





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Wednesday, September 5, 2018

How to Make Your Fall Garden Clean UP a Breeze

Fall Garden Clean-up Can be EASY with the right tools!  Let's Review two that will make your work so much easier!

Gardening is a hobby that tugs at my heart, but after a day out there, my hamstrings, back and arms are aching.  Did you know there are some really great tools available that will make the garden clean-up much easier and less labor intensive?

If you have trees in your yard, you know that there will be some clean up required before Ole Mr. Winter rears his head.  If you have trees that produce nuts, pine cones or fruits, there will be even more clean up required.   I'm here to tell you not to get your overalls in a knot!  I just saw and revelled at a new garden tool that I'm sure everyone will want.  No more stooping over to pick up all those "presents" that so many trees give us.

Leaving fruits and nuts on the lawn over the winter months is not a recommended practice. It is much better for you and your garden to get that mess cleaned up in the fall.  You will have a nice clean area to work with come springtime. Many fruit trees, nut trees, and evergreens can harbor diseases and small animals (rodents) and you really don't want that. Nut trees like Black Walnuts will damage your yard as they contain chemicals that prohibit the growth of other plants. Plus you will have to deal with the hassle of cleaning up in spring when it's wet and messy! This makes fall a much better choice. This Nut Harvester, will pick up nuts, acorns, pine cones, fruit that has dropped before ripening, lemons, limes, apples and more. Left in the ground these fruits are a magnet for wasps and other critters that bite! If you have children playing in the yard, that is definitely a no-no. Personally I have gone out to the garden and turned my ankle on an apple that had fallen off the tree. So I know that this is not a pleasant experience.

Walnuts, acorns, pine cones, crabapples, chestnuts and more can be easily removed from the yard before that last mowing takes place.  There is a new tool that lets you roll over all this detris and make it a thing of the past.  Made by the same people that gave you the Garden Weasel, this tool is lightweight, easy to handle and makes stooping down a thing of the past.



If you have a teenager living at home and a golf course nearby, they could get a job collecting golf balls too! Dual purpose and easy to do too.



Now the other tool that I really like will help you gather all the leaves that will be falling soon. This tool will require a little bit of stooping over, but your "Garden Hands" will help make each bend over much more productive.By increasing the size of your hands, you are able to pick up that much more and make the gathering of leaves a job that gets done likety split. 

The other option as far as leaf gathering goes, is to leave them on the lawn and mow them over a few times. Hopefully you have a mulcher option on your lawn mower, so that the leaves are broken up into small pieces that will nourish your lawn as they break down. This option is for gardens that don't have a lot of leaves. If you have trees everywhere, and lots of leaves on the grass, you are much better off to pick those leaves up. Breaking them down into smaller pieces will only smother the grass underneath if the layer of mulched leaves is too thick!  The grass needs nourishment, but doesn't like to be smothered under a blanket of rotting leaves.

Those are my two suggestions for making your Fall Garden Cleanup and much easier routine.  Besides enjoying the crisp fall air, you will get a great level of exercise in before winter hibernation routines kick in. 


Fall is one of the most beautiful times in nature and it's great to get out there and enjoy the sights, sounds and the beauty all around us.  



For more Gardening Reviews you can Check out this link:  Review This Gardening  There are lots of articles from fellow members of the Review This team!




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Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Video Walkie Talkies For Kids Reviewed

Fun For All Ages

walkie talkie
Walkie Talkie set image courtesy of Pixabay.com
If you are looking for a fun toy to give as a gift to a child, think about a set of video walkie talkies! I can review one choice option for you today because one of my grandchildren has a set from Spy Gear. 

We have a similar set of walkie talkies to the one pictured at the left at our house. They have been a source of entertainment in our home for many years. The grandkids love to play with them, especially with Grandpa who is a kid at heart. After seeing the models that now have video capabilities, the kids may not find ours so much fun anymore. 

Recently, my granddaughter who loves everything pertaining to being a spy received a set of Spy Gear Video Walkie Talkies for her birthday. Oh my goodness we all had so much fun playing with them! Yes, the little kids and the big kids had a ball! The adults were pretty impressed with this set working as well as they did. They are toys, after all and the quality is very much toy-like but they were pretty danged awesome. The video shows well on the screen and is actually very clear. There was a bit of lagging as it focused but then the video was good. The sound quality was excellent! The size is small enough that a child's hand can accommodate holding one in their hand and being able to operate the button to talk. 

One thing to remember if you purchase a set as a gift is to also include some AAA batteries. Each walkie talkie needs three to work and since there are two in a set you need six right out of the box. Both little radios need to be turned on in order for them to work. You will also need a screwdriver to open the back up to insert the batteries. I just thought that I would mention this so that a child won't be disappointed when they can not immediately play with this fun toy. 

The great thing about a toy like a video walkie talkie set is that both boys and girls can have hours of fun with them. They are not going to take up much room in a toy box; if they ever make it into one that is. Honestly, I think any child on your gift list that is at least six years old or older would really enjoy a gift like this. 


For more toy ideas from Review This, click here.



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Monday, September 3, 2018

The Mountain Between Us - Movie Review

The Mountain Between Us on DVD.
As soon as I had seen the trailers for The Mountain Between Us I knew I wanted to see the movie. Survival stories based in the wilderness and extreme conditions are some of my favorite tales. I missed seeing the movie at the theater but finally had a chance to watch it on DVD this weekend. 


The Mountain Between Us 


The movie was based on the book of the same title by Charles Martin. In the movie version, Alex and Ben (two strangers) are stuck at an airport in Salt Lake City and are desperate to fly out. Ben (Idris Elba) is a surgeon and has a surgery the next day and Alex (Kate Winslet) is on her way to her wedding in New York. Alex had overheard Ben talking about his need to get home to Baltimore for this surgery but all flights are cancelled. She has an idea - they'll grab a flight out on a small private plane.

The charter plane pilot agrees to fly them out quickly to get them to Denver ahead of the storm. The pilot, his dog, Alex, and Ben head out - crossing the High Unitas Wilderness area.

The pilot has a stroke in flight and they crash in the mountaintops. Ben, Alex, and the dog survive the crash.

Much of the movie involves Ben and Alex trying to determine which choices to make in order to give them a better chance at survival; stay with the wreckage or try to walk out, etc. The cold, the rugged terrain, lack of food and water, and the mountain lion that views them as food are all barriers to their success. Alex has a broken leg, which doesn't help matters. 



Comparing the Book Versus the Movie


I read the book before I saw the movie. Many times I will read the book and avoid the movie but in this case I wanted to see the setting and the scenery. I also wanted to see some of the events that I had imagined in my head. 

For an excellent review of the book you can read Renaissance Woman's book review. I very much agree with what she had to say about the character development. We fell in love with the characters. All of them. Even the pilot and his dog, Tank. We rooted for all of them, for Ben especially, as he tried to MacGyver his way to rescue.

Movies usually deviate from the book. In this case, the movie version changed Ashley's name to Alex. Also, movies are always more condensed so important "scenes" are always left out and time seems shorter. I expected that. However, in the movie version, the plot came across as a long walk down a large hill. Compared to the book, which was literally a moment-by-moment fight for survival.

In the movie version, Alex/Ashley was not critically injured as she was in the book. I found myself wondering if Hollywood was attempting to make Ashley a stronger woman. I found myself thinking the opposite. In the book, even critically wounded and on deaths door she was a stronger presence than she was in the movie.

I do like Kate Winslet. And I thought her role was well-acted. I have no complaints about her portrayal of the character and I believed her. I just think the book version of Ashley was a better character.

The details of the endings (book and movie) were very different but the final outcome was the same. In the book, I personally thought threads of the outcome came together a little more clumsily than the first 90% of the book. I liked the ending - it was unexpected and an "aha!" moment that suddenly made so much sense. It just seemed slightly choppy.  I loved how the ending of the movie occurred. It was at that moment that the acting was the best. We cared most about Alex(Ashley) and Ben at that point in the movie. More than we did when they were walking their way down the mountain. The movie ending left the extremely important final setting of the book ending out. In a perfect world the final chapters of the book and the ending of the movie would be combined.  I hope that makes sense. I don't want to give away the ending of the book.

I enjoyed both the book and the movie, but if you are choosing one over the other, I recommend the book. But don't just take my word for it. Renaissance Woman recommends the book - and as always her recommendations are spot on. 

I can tell you with certainty, I will be adding more books by Charles Martin to my reading list. I am glad to have been introduced to this author.


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Sunday, September 2, 2018

How to Position Twin Beds to Create Separate Areas in a Room

Reviewing How to Layout Twin Beds So They're Separate from Each Other

The standard room layout for twin beds, is to place them side by side with a nightstand in-between.

However, there are creative ways to define areas in a shared room.

Below are three typical bedroom shapes you'll find in most homes: Rectangular, Square and L-Shaped.

Furnishings for a room with twin beds tend to be two beds, two nightstands, two desks, one or two dressers and or storage trunks and accessories.

Tip: If the room has a decent sized walk-in closet, put the dressers inside of it. You can place dressers under a section of clothes, and use the area above the dresser to hang smaller items.

1. Suggested Layout for Twin Beds in an L-Shaped Bedroom:

An L-Shaped room is the easiest floor plan to distinguish separate sleeping areas.

This floor plan makes the twin beds appear almost hidden to each other. Both areas have a nightstand, a desk and in this design a shared dresser. Again, if possible, put the dresser in the closet.

Floor Plan Layout by Funkthishouse

2. Suggested Layout for Twin Beds in a Rectangular Shaped Bedroom:

With a rectangular shaped room the tendency is to assume the beds have to be positioned side-by-side. That's absolutely not the case.

If the room is narrow, and doesn't allow for a lot of furniture, then use twin sized beds with drawers built in the bottom. That way you've eliminated the need for a dresser. Or again, if there's a walk-in closet, put the dresser in the closet.

When space is very tight, choose beds with built-in drawers. Here are a few examples:



Remember, if you decide to get beds with drawers, a nightstand positioned incorrectly can block the opening of those drawers. Twin beds with storage can also come in a large number of designs including some with storage in the headboard. If the headboard doesn't offer built-in lights, add creative strip lighting.

Floor Plan Layout by Funkthishouse.com

3. Suggested Layout for Twin Beds in a Square Shaped Room:

This layout will depend upon where the doors and windows are positioned in the room. However, you can still create defined areas by thinking outside the box.

In a square room, our design instinct is to place twin beds side-by-side. But don't let that thinking stop you from setting up defined areas. Even square rooms can have separate areas for twin beds.

In the floor plan below you'll notice the room was split in half. The position of the main door allowed for that. Essentially one half of the room is allocated to one twin bed area and the other half for the second bed.

In this design there wasn't room for a dresser, but as mentioned above, there are multiple ways to accommodate storage. Here you'll see a storage trunk at the end of each of the beds. The beds can have drawers, or a dresser can go inside of a large closet.

Floor Plan Layout by Funkthishouse.com

BONUS TIP: Small Bedrooms and Selling Your Home

During my real estate years frequent comments were about bedroom size. Most people feel that an empty room is larger than a furnished room. It isn't.

An empty room looks small.

People tend to need a visual to gage what will fit into a space. If the room is small, use bed and wall storage to illustrate how efficient the space can be.

Measurements to give you a sense of bed sizes and space:
  1. Standard king size beds measure 76 inches wide by 80 inches long. (6.33ft by 6.66ft)
  2. California king size beds measure 72 inches wide by 84 inches long. (6ft by 7ft)
  3. Standard queen size beds measure 60 inches wide by 80 inches long. (5ft by 6.66ft)
  4. California queen size beds measure 60 inches wide by 84 inches long. (5ft by 7ft)
  5. Standard double size beds measure 54 inches wide by 75 inches long. (4ft by 6.25ft)
  6. Standard twin size beds measure 39 inches wide by 75 inches long (3.29ft by 6.25ft)
  7. Extra long twin size beds measure 39 inches wide by 80 inches long. (3.29ft by 6.66ft)
Next, learn how to affordably convert twin sized beds into a king bed...



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Saturday, September 1, 2018

Ed McBain's 87th Precinct Mystery Series – Book & Author Review

The 87th Precinct Series

This series of police procedurals were featured around a group of detectives in a big city police department. McBain's publisher was looking for a new group of mystery stories with a fresh and original lead character.  McBain decided his character would be a cop dealing with murders, along with the other crimes most cops have to deal with on a daily basis. But then he thought if he were going to do a whole series, then having just one cop as the central character wouldn't be realistic enough if the character was the only person solving the crimes over and over. 

Instead, he decided to base his characters on a squad-room full of cops with different traits and ways of handling situations, all working together. That way he could introduce new characters along the way as one cop got killed or transferred to another department.  Thus his 'lead character' became a conglomerate of characters, different ones being featured in different books in the series, with the others being visible to various degrees throughout each story. 


New York City - Source: Pixabay
McBain wanted to place the series in New York City, his hometown with which he was familiar.   As he began his research, he found he was at the NYPD almost daily and soon became a pain-in-the-neck to that police department who were too busy working real crimes to sit and discuss fictitious ones. If he were to base his books in New York City, he'd have to verify every fact.  

Instead, he decided to 'invent' a city that was LIKE New York but not quite New York.  Thus, a mythical city was born.  McBain named his city Isola, which is Italian for 'island' and if you are at all familiar with NYC you will recognize Isola as Manhattan, as well as knowing that 'Calms Point' is Brooklyn. McBain stated that he had a ball 'inventing' historical background and naming places to suit his fancy for each section of his 'city'.  Along the way, the city then also became a character. Quite a unique approach to a mystery series and one that did not seem to have been done previously. 


Who was Ed McBain?


Evan Hunter a.k.a. Ed McBain nee  Salvatore Albert Lombino (Source: Wikimedia)

The 87th Precinct police procedural mystery series was written under the pseudonym of Ed McBain. Prior to this series, the author had written and published a variety of short stories under several different pseudonyms.  But unknown to me until I did MY research, Ed McBain's real name was Salvatore Albert Lombino which he legally changed to Evan Hunter in 1952.  

Evan Hunter was the author of the well known book and movie 'Blackboard Jungle' and also the screenplay for the Hitchcock film The Birds. By the time he switched to writing crime fiction, he was best known in the literary field as Ed McBain. 


How Ed McBain Wrote the 87th Precinct Mystery Series



Source: Pixabay


"I usually start with a corpse. I then ask myself how the corpse got to be that way and I try to find out—just as the cops would. I plot, loosely, usually a chapter or two ahead, going back to make sure that everything fits—all the clues are in the right places, all the bodies are accounted for.”

*(quoted in the Wikipedia article about the 87th Precinct.)

  

Summary


Available on Amazon Kindle
My favorite part of the background for the 87th Precinct series was the story McBain told in an afterword to the third book, The Pusher.  He had set up this group of characters, detectives working in the 87th Precinct, which he called his 'Conglomerate Hero'.  He introduced them to us individually (see the list of regular characters in the Wikipedia article called 87th Precinct - the detectives of the 87th Precinct), let us as readers find our favorites, then proceeded to bump off mine and everyone else's top favorite ~ Detective 2nd Grade Steve Carella ~ in book three.

See, McBain had originally described the series as being about cops going and coming, cops getting killed and replaced by other cops, as a way to keep the readers interested by introducing new characters here and there. Steve Carella gets shot in The Pusher, mistaken for someone else, so McBain ends the book by killing him off. He thought he was pretty hot stuff, doing something no one else had ever done in crime fiction writing, killing off a guy we'd all been rooting for throughout the first two books. McBain figured he was being innovative! 

So he gleefully sends off book three to his agent, who calls the next morning and said “What did you do?  It's Christmas Day, Carella is dead, you've killed the hero.”  McBain tried to tell his agent that no, Carella isn't the hero, he's just one of the characters. It doesn't matter that this is the third book he's been in and that the story ends on Christmas Day!

The agent sends the manuscript on to the publisher and the  next day McBain gets a call from his editor saying “What did you do?” “It's Christmas day, Carella is dead, you've killed the hero.”  McBain kept saying “No, no.” Remember what I told you in the beginning about cops getting killed, other cops replacing them…..remember all that?”  His editor answered with, yes, but nobody said you could kill the hero.  McBain tried again to say “but he isn't the hero.”  His editor replied “He's the hero. Period.”  McBain went back to his typewriter and rewrote the ending.  

Needless to say, Steve Carella survived and remained the hero of the 87th Precinct throughout the series! 


Cop Hater, First Book of the Series
McBain's first 87th Precinct book, 'Cop Hater' was published in 1956. By the time the series ended shortly before the author died in 2005 at age 78 McBain had written 55 books in the series. (And I've read them all more than once). A truly terrific series of mysteries!









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