Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Platform Bird Feeder Reviewed

Flat Bird Feeder Works Well

I just had to replace my original platform bird feeder. I thought I might share with you what I replaced it with. The original was made of wood and eventually rotted off of it's pedestal. Bummer!

platform bird feeder
Some birds like a platform to feed from
image courtesy of pixabay.com

I do love to feed my little backyard friends and I have found over the years that using a platform bird feeder works well for attracting a variety of the winged creatures to my yard. For one thing they are much easier to fill with seeds and treats and so much easier to keep clean.

Wood vs Recycled Plastic


As I mentioned above, the first platform or tray feeder that I purchased was made from wood. It lasted for several years but finally succumbed to the years of being in the weather and literally fell off of the pole that it was attached to. So, for a replacement, I found one that is made of recycled plastic. That shouldn't rot, me thinks! 

I have seen that many people complain that the little screens rot out in their platform feeders. I hadn't experienced that but the nice thing is that my new one came with two new screens. So, now I can keep the old ones as spares. 

The size of this feeder is nice! The inside measures 20 inches by 15 inches which allows for several birds to feed at a time. My favorites are the cardinals who prefer to eat from feeders that are stationary. I get all sorts of birds to come to the platform. I stopped using the ones that I have to take a lid off of to add seed. They get dirty on the inside and can cause bacteria to grow and they are so difficult to clean. The platform works best in our yard. 

I only have one complaint and it isn't the manufacturer's fault. Squirrels can easily come up and rob the feeder of food. I gave up a long time ago on trying to keep the critters away...it is a battle I can't seem to win. So, the squirrels eat at the feeder too. So, do raccoons but there is no getting away from it. 

It took longer for my new platform to arrive than I thought was necessary. Again, that isn't the manufacturer's fault. It was a shipping issue that caused the problem. Waiting longer was aggravating but once it came, I was extremely satisfied with my purchase. The birds are loving it, too.

If you find that you are in need of replacing your old feeder or would like to try one in your yard, I can highly recommend the platform feeder made from recycled plastic.





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Monday, January 6, 2020

Reviewing the Veehoo Elevated Dog Bed

I know someone who recently adopted a dog. I ordered a gift in celebration and welcome.  I sent them the large Veehoo Elevated Dog Bed. They both, human and dog, like it so much I thought I should share a review with you.


Reviewing the Veehoo Elevated Large Dog Bed

Radley, the dog, was adopted from a shelter. During the search for the right dog, the human noticed that all of the shelter dogs had raised beds in their kennels. I decided that Radley needed his own bed in his own home and perhaps an elevated bed would be something familiar or comforting as he gets settled in.

I chose the Veehoo Elevated Dog bed after reading many good reviews. It is made of durable mesh material and powder coated steel frame. The bed requires assembly. But that assembly does not require any tools. Veehoo offers this dog bed in a variety of sizes. Part of the reason I chose this bed was the reported durability as well as the non-skid feet. Radley is a rambunctious puppy and he's a huge 50+ lb puppy. 

Raised beds with mesh are thought to be comfortable to dogs due to keeping them off the floor. The mesh provides ventilation for cooling. Add a doggie blanket to provide warmth. Also, Radley is far too big to be a lap dog. His own bed in the living room provides him with his own spot near his new family.




Radley's human is very pleased with the Veehoo bed. He confirmed that the bed was easy to assemble and is plenty large enough to be comfortable for this big red dog. 




Related Links:

Review This contributors love their pets. For more pet-related reviews click here

Updated:

Five months later, there have been no problems with the bed itself and Radley clearly loves it! 










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Sunday, January 5, 2020

How NOT to Binge Watch a Series - The Three Rules of Survival

How NOT to Binge Watch a Series!
Save Yourself Before It's too Late
Tongue in cheek. Well, sort of. I kind-of mean every single word.

In the scope of life problems, this doesn't even rate. But that's why I'm writing about it. Since there's too much going on in the world, mindless drivel is temporarily appealing, almost necessary.

So, you probably guessed by now that I'm the recent victim of binge-watching a series. I can feel the professional binge-watchers rolling their eyes. Still, the pros need to remember, they were newbie-bingers once.

Let's Review the Three Rules:

1. Don't Pick a Series With Only One Season

For gawd-sakes, before you even scroll through Amazon Prime or Netflix, decide that any series with only one season is off-limits.

Want to know why?

Because when you're finished watching Season 1, you'll be googling to find out when Season 2 is coming out.

Then you'll toss your perrier in the fireplace when you find out it hasn't been renewed for a second season. Or if it has been renewed, that filming doesn't start until March of 2020, which means the fall of 2020 before you get to watch it again - one darn episode at a time!

Yes, I binge-watched 'Another Life' on Netflix last night and yep, one season only, and season two doesn't start filming until March 2020. I have this uncontrollable urge to see if they'll hire me on the crew so I can get a heads-up on the story. I need help.

Since I mentioned the series 'Another Life,' are you wondering if I recommend it? Well, if you like Sci-Fi with a connection to Earth as we currently know it, then I hate to say this, but you're going to love it.

Warning, resist it because you'll only want more. Or go ahead and keep me company for a year until season two starts. I'm already looking forward to Fall 2020, how sick is that?

2. Don't Start Binge-Watching at Midnight

Yah. I did that too.

So there I was, scrolling Netflix for a movie. You know, one that's maybe ... like ... 2 hours at the most. I had noticed 'Another Life' before, and that it was a 'series,' and avoided it for that reason.

Last night, I was powerless. I gave in to my 'no series' rule and couldn't fight the urge to not click 'watch next episode' all.night.long.

I figure if you start watching around 7pm and decide to binge, then there's a good chance you'll be heading to bed before 4am. Plus, there's also the chance that life intrusions will prevent you from watching every episode at once! At midnight, there's no one awake to rag on you.

Ok. I did have some discipline, I only watched eight episodes and viewed the final two this afternoon. I can't get this show out of my head, can you tell? I'm so curious about the next season. Grrrr.

3. Don't Be Afraid to Use the Pause Button

It seems logical, right? When you need to take a break, hit the Pause button, and go do your thing. I mean, we're not Gremlins that can't be fed after midnight, are we? But come to think of it, I was more like Stripe last night.

Apparently, that's too much common sense for me, and I held it way too long. Sheesh, I wasn't even stuck in a vehicle.

So, pause your series for snack and pee breaks. When you're really into your show, you'll resist stepping away, and all I can say is resist the resistance -  'taint good for the bladder.

Here's the trailer for Another Life, to lead you into temptation :)



Is There a Series with More Than One Season that I Recommend?

Omg, that's a screaming YES!!

My all-time favorite program in the history of programs is the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon! I know I'm screaming again. It's based on the books, and it.is.absolutely.fantastic. The fans, me included, are chomping at the bit to watch Season 5, which starts in February of 2020!

So guess what, if you binge-watch all 4 seasons of Outlander, you'll be able to start watching Season 5 right away with the rest of us crazies.

I'm so obsessed with this show that I follow it on Twitter and Instagram? I need an intervention.

Oh, here's a heads-up warning:

When you get to the episode called 'The Wedding,' umm, watch it without kids in the room. The wedding night is very, very very and very physical with a lot of nudity. If that's not your thing you can skip it, but I must say, it's pertinent to fully appreciate Jamie and Claire's connection.

I'm leading you into temptation one more time with the Trailer for Outlander Season 1, but this show has 4 seasons to consume your life - a much better way to get lost in space.




I'll close by saying that I don't watch a lot of TV. Don't laugh, it's true. However, when I do watch, I apparently go all in?

So let's summarize the three rules:

1. A show with more than one season
2. Don't start binge-watching at midnight
3. Take breaks

Or ignore them, and watch what you want, when you want :)


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Saturday, January 4, 2020

Rand McNally Road Atlas Review

The ultimate road trip accessory

In today's technological world, road maps and directions are available on GPS devices and Smartphones under the Google Maps app. They are also available as built-in accessories to the newer automobiles. Voices announce the turns for us via satellites without the need to read a map.  Other travel information is available on these devices, such as where to locate a restaurant or hotel/motel. You might say that printed maps are no longer necessary. I disagree. 

Maps have been around for hundreds of years, dating back to early explorers when some thought the world was flat and maps stated the edge of the known world with pictures of dragons  (“Here there be dragons”) for the uncharted territory.


Road Trip



Weather Condition Images from Pixabay

On a recent road trip in early November, while traveling north from St. Louis, Missouri to my home in the Quad Cities of Iowa, I encountered first rain, then snow, making the 4+ hour trip quite hazardous. I was using the map app on my Smartphone when ice began to accumulate and suddenly I lost all connection to the internet. I do not know if the cell towers were affected or if the information beaming down from a satellite could not get through, but I was saved by the fact that I had brought along my Rand McNally Road Atlas.  


Source: Pixabay
The most helpful part of the road map was that it showed me where rest stops were located.  Because of the weather, I needed to stop at several rest stops to clean the ice off my windshield wipers and kick the accumulated snow/ice pack from around the bottom of my car. (Many other motorists were doing the same). So much slushy ice & snow was thrown up from the road and from passing trucks that it was becoming packed around my wheel wells due to immediate freezing from temperatures which had dropped into the 20's. Big blocks of it were sticking out touching my tires. And, despite  having new windshield wipers, the ice accumulation on the wipers prevented them from clearing the windshield enough to see well. I had to constantly stop and clean off my windshield with paper towels and water in my water bottle! It was a mess. 

I eventually made it safely home a couple hours later than normal, but I was grateful that I could easily locate each rest area to clean off the car. Luckily I knew what highways to take, having made this trip many times, but it was handy to be able to check the route via my Rand McNally Road Atlas without a working GPS monitor. 


History of Rand McNally


The Rand McNally Road Atlas has been in publication for over 160 years.  The company  began in 1868 when Andrew McNally and William Rand (Rand McNally) took over the Chicago Tribune's printing shop and began to print tickets and timetables for Chicago's booming railroads, which are the nation's premier railroad hub. 


  • In 1904, Rand McNally published the very first automobile road map. It was of New York City and it's vicinity.
  • On a map of Peoria, Illinois in 1917, the company debuted a new highway numbering system which eventually became the model for the system used across the United States today.  
  • The first full-color Rand McNally Road Atlas premiered in 1960.


Throughout the years, the company continued to publish railway tickets and timetables. They have expanded over time to include many products used extensively today by many industries.  By merging with or acquiring other companies in the field, they developed an electronic system for delivery of routing and mileage information to the trucking industries (1980), are now a leading school map and globe publisher (1984), and are a leading producer of consumer and business-to-business maps and atlases (1993).  They also introduced TripMaker® software (1994) and StreetFinder® street navigation software (1996)  for travel planning on personal computers. 

These are just a few of the many products Rand McNally produces today.  Here is a handy link if you want to read all about their interesting history. 


Summary


Source: Pixabay

In 2016, Rand McNally celebrated its 160th birthday and 80th year in the commercial transportation market. I have done a lot of traveling from one side of this great country to the other in my life and have always had a current road atlas.  Even with today's helpful electronics and technology, having a real 'map' I can look things up on is a standard accessory for my 'road trips'. My most recent trip in terrible Midwest weather in November proved to me that the Rand McNally Road Atlas is a travel necessity.




Newest Version of the Rand McNally Road Atlas (2022)


2022 Rand McNally Road Atlas




Product Review of the Rand McNally Road Atlas written by Wednesday Elf on 1/4/2020


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Friday, January 3, 2020

How to Make a Quilt Magic Kit Wall Hanging Reviewed

Last year I made a Quilt Magic wall hanging for each of my children for Christmas.  They turned out to be really beautiful gifts and a surprise that I hope my children will treasure.  

How to Make a Quilt Magic Kit Wall Hanging Reviewed
Quilt Magic Kits are awesome! They make a great beginner craft, as well as a unique project for more experienced crafters.  The kits take more time than you might expect, but that is part of the value of a finished project. 

I am well accustomed to working with fabric.  After all, I have been sewing since my early teens.  As an experienced crafter, I enjoy taking on new crafting challenges.  I tend to consider any new craft technique a call to action.  The Quilt Magic kits caught my attention immediately and seemed to beckon me.  Needless to say, I answered the call.

I immediately purchased a fabulous Quilt Magic wall hanging to make for our son.  However, I needed one for our daughter.  It took me two years to find the right kit for her, but as soon as I laid eyes on the elephant Quilt Magic Kit, I knew I had finally found the right one.  Then the fun began!


Quilt Magic Kits


The kits include almost everything you need.  You will also need scissors, an iron, and a punch tool for pushing the fabric into the form.  You can use a dull kitchen knife, but I highly recommend purchasing the Quilt Magic punch tool separately.  A standard kitchen knife doesn't have a pointed end, which you need for some corners.


How to Make a Quilt Magic Kit Wall Hanging Reviewed
Kits Include:  Pre-cut Form, Easy to Follow Pattern, & Fabric Pieces (to cut)


How to Make a Quilt Magic Kit Picture


How to Make a Quilt Magic Kit Wall Hanging
I know you will be excited to get started on the project, but you need to iron the fabric first.  This is extremely important!  You will not want the fabric to be creased.  You need it to lay flat when "punching" it into the form. 

I cut out the pieces from each fabric, pinned their numbered pattern piece to the cut fabric, and placed them in a baggy until I was ready to add the piece.  I had a separate baggy for each fabric.

Start with the border & back.  The back piece is one large piece that you attach to the form by folding the ends over the front side and pressing the edges in the border grooves.  You will need to trim the fabric at the corners twice to make the fabric slip into the cut corner grooves.  Be careful not to cut too much off.  There is no extra fabric included for mistakes.

Note:  The corners of the form are not pre-cut deep enough to hold the fabric.  You will need to cut the corner form groove with a sharp knife per the enclosed instructions.  Otherwise, all of the grooves are pre-cut for you.

   

From here on, it is pretty smooth sailing.  You simply match the number on the piece to the number on the pattern and push the fabric into the pre-cut grooves for each section.


How to Make a Quilt Magic Kit Wall Hanging


I opted to add the the pieces cut from each fabric all at one time.  However, you may prefer to add the pieces section by section, left to right, or whatever type of layout organization works best for you.  I have friends who would rather see the project come to life one area at a time.





 
The Quilt Magic no-sew kits are easy, but they do take longer than advertised to make.  Each picture kit took several days to cut and assemble, but the end results were definitely worth the time.

How to Make a Quilt Magic Kit Wall Hanging Tutorial
Quilt Magic Wall Hanging Gift for My Son
 
How to Make a Quilt Magic Kit Wall Hanging Tutorial
Quilt Magic Wall Hanging Gift for My Daughter

You may or may not wish to frame your finished Quilt Magic wall hanging.  Both of my children opted for a Quilt Magic Frame for easy hanging.  But, they are not necessary.




A Variety of Quilt Magic Kits Are Available


Quilt Magic Kits are available in many different styles, colors and themes. There are even holiday Quilt Magic Kits for those who enjoy holiday wall decor.

See More Quilt Magic Kits by Clicking Here!

 

 Read More Crafts & DIY Reviews On
ReviewThisCrafts.com!


House of Sylvestermouse





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Thursday, January 2, 2020

Noom Healthy Weight Loss App Review


Wouldn't it be great to kick off the new year with a five-pound weight loss?  I decided to get a head start on my resolutions and do exactly that.  Five days ago, I started my two-week Noom trial and have already exceeded my expectations for early success.  Here's a quick review of how the Noom healthy weight loss app has helped jumpstart a healthier 2020 for me.

Noom has been all over the news lately.  I kept seeing the promos and decided to check it out.  There was really nothing to lose in giving it a try (except maybe a little belly fat).

First, you need to know that I am not a fad dieter.  I was glad to learn that Noom is not a diet.  There's no special food to buy and you can pretty much eat what you want (within certain parameters).

It was super easy to get started.  I set up a trial account with Noom and downloaded their free app (available for both IOS and Android platforms).  All of that took less than two minutes.

Next, I was asked a few questions about my health goals.  Noom is a program based on tapping into your motivation and encouraging the behavior changes needed to support what you wish to achieve.  Whether you want to lose weight, feel healthier, be more fit, or eat right, Noom is there to gently nudge you in the right direction.

I want to do all of those things.  After plugging my answers into the app, I was provided with a two-week plan.  That plan includes eating more nutrient-dense foods, gradually increasing the number of steps I take each day (with an eventual target of walking 10,000 steps), doing a daily weigh-in, and logging my meals.

After calculating my weight-loss goal, my age, my current weight, and other pertinent factors (like any physical limitations, energy needs, etc.), I was given a target of consuming no more than 1,200 calories per day.  That may seem restrictive, but I have found it reasonable and doable.  I'm not starving or feeling deprived (because I am eating foods that are filling and satisfying).

Noom wants me to focus on caloric density when I choose my foods.  Eating foods with a low caloric density is one of the keys to successfully achieving my goals.  The app will teach you what you need to know, but essentially, fruits and vegetables typically have the best ratio when it comes to low calories and high nutritional value (think foods with fiber and a decent water content).

Foods are categorized into three color groups: Green, Yellow, and Red.  I am allowed to eat what I choose within those groups, as long as I don't exceed the calorie recommendations for each.  The Noom app provides me with an instant analysis of my food choices.


Noom is a research-based program that makes us more conscious of the triggers that guide our actions when it comes to eating and healthier living.  We are shown how triggers lead to thoughts, thoughts to actions, and actions to consequences.  I find myself being more mindful about my choices.

Who might be drawn to the Noom approach to healthier living?
  • People on the go with a busy lifestyle.  
  • Anyone who enjoys the convenience of interacting with an app rather than having to be in a certain place at a specific time.  
  • Those who enjoy a light-hearted interface that offers up quick, easy-to-understand tidbits of health-related information followed by fun quizzes.  
  • The individual who likes to be affirmed for making progress.  
Noom provides you with a personal coach who checks in with you at the start of the program (and at least weekly).  You can message your coach any time through the app.  Your coach will make suggestions after reviewing your goals and activities.  I just received these messages from my coach this morning:



To get the most out of Noom, I choose to engage in all of the opportunities on my daily action list.  When I log in each morning, I take a few minutes to check out these activities because I get a sense of accomplishment and enjoyment from doing so.  This was today's checklist:



In addition to the basics, there are a number of extras that can be added on.  Once your trial concludes, you have the option to continue for a monthly subscription fee.  I'm still in the first week of my trial, but can say it has been working well for me.  I would have been happy losing two pounds my first week.  To lose five pounds makes me ecstatic.

Having to weigh myself daily as a part of my Noom commitment is not my idea of a good time, but I must say that the accountability of doing so, and logging that weight, makes me try harder.  The same is true of logging my daily meals.  I'm not going to eat junk when I have to post it for someone else to see.  Accountability makes such a difference.

You know what else keeps me going?  Affirmations.  It is so nice to receive a high five when I do something right.  It's the little things like this that make me want to stay the course and keep on keeping on.



Earlier today, I asked one of my friends about her Noom experience.  This is what Jan had to say:
It was easy to lose weight, the daily information was fun to read, the program was/is sustainable.  I didn't participate often in the large group support activities and my personal coach was ok but not great.  I loved that I was able to recover from two knee replacement surgeries (low activity levels for several weeks) and still lose weight! 
Jan also mentioned that she had referred others to the program and was recently thanked for doing so.  One woman who lost 14 pounds as a result of that referral shared that it had changed her life.  It doesn't get much better than that!

I have no doubt I will reach my ultimate goals (and sooner rather than later).  Why don't you join me on Noom.  Give it a two-week go to see what you can accomplish in a short window of time.  If you use any link in this review, you will receive a free trial (I paid for mine) and a 20% discount on a Noom subscription.  Click here to try Noom for free.

Let's make 2020 our best year yet.  We hold the power to do so within us.  All we have to do is unleash it.







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Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Transform Your Prayer Life with This Classic : A Book Review


Transform Your Prayer Life with This Classic : A Book Review of Prayer: Conversing with God
My Photo with some help from PicMonkey

My review of Prayer: Conversing with God by Rosalind Rinker


Does your small prayer or Bible study group find praying together awkward or uncomfortable? Do you spend more time sharing prayer requests than actually praying together? Do you find yourself thinking about what your own prayer will be as your turn to pray approaches? Or do you just not attend prayer meetings because praying aloud makes you uncomfortable?

Perhaps you don't see any reason for praying with a group. After all, didn't Jesus say to go into your closet to pray to our Father in secret? Yes, He did. But He also said that if two or three gathered together in His Name agree on what they ask in prayer, they will receive it, and He will be right there with them.

Rosalind Rinker's book addresses these seeming contradictions in detail. She shares God's promises and an exciting method of conversational prayer that can make your group anxious to pray together.

Who is Rosalind Rinker?


Ms. Rinker was a missionary in China from 1926 until 1940. When she came home, she studied at Asbury College and graduated in 1945. She then served as a staff member for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, a collegiate Christian group.

She also wrote. Christianity Today named Prayer: Conversing with God as the book that most influenced evangelicals from 1956-2006. (Facts via https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosalind_Rinker)

How I discovered Prayer: Conversing with God

Table of Contents, Prayer: Conversing with God by Rosalind Rinker
Table of Contents, Prayer: Conversing with God. My Photo.


While I was a student at UCLA, a friend from my dorm invited me to a small group Bible study at Hollywood Presbyterian Church. She drove, so we were able to get better acquainted as we talked coming and going. We often stopped at IHOP on the way home for pancakes.

The group was going to study two books. The first was The Life and Teachings of Jesus Christ by James Stuart. The other was Prayer: Conversing with God. During the first part of the meeting we'd study the book about Jesus, and during the second part we'd pray, using what we were learning from the Rinker book.

I didn't know anyone in the study group but my friend Betty. Yet as we began to practice conversational prayer, we all drew much closer together. Why? Because we were talking to Jesus together as we met with Him. As we each got closer to Him, we also got closer to each other.

P. 48, Table of Contents, Prayer: Conversing with God by Rosalind Rinker
My Photo

What's the difference between conversational prayer and other methods of group prayer?


Usually small group prayer times take one of these forms. The members of the group share their prayer requests first, and then the members go around a circle, each praying by turn.  One problem with this method is that the members spend so long sharing their prayer requests that's there's little time left to actually pray. Another is that people are often thinking more about what they will say when it's their turn than actually hearing the prayers of the others who come before them in the circle. Some shy people may be intimidated by praying aloud with others. Sometimes people just pray as the Spirit moves them, but often each one who prays tries to cover all the requests. This can lead to a very long meeting.

Rinker addresses each of these problems as she explains how to pray conversationally instead. It's simple and natural. Instead of sharing the requests with each other before praying, those in the group speak to each other and God at the same time, introducing topics one at a time. Then people pray about each topic until the Spirit leads someone to introduce a new topic of prayer. Rinker gives examples of how this works in practice. I've noticed that using this method, no one feels pressured and most are excited about praying.

I have shown you the Table of Contents and an excerpt from the book in the images above. Rinker covers a lot of ground. Most Christians who read this book cannot wait to get a couple of friends together to try conversational prayer. Once they've done that they don't want to return to their old prayer habits.

This book is now out of print. Some of the best books are. You can still buy this used at Biblio and help support independent book dealers. Or you can buy it at Amazon if you prefer. Both sources offer only used books, and often the same dealers list the same exact copies in both places. I prefer buying my used books at Biblio. Both links are affiliate links. Wherever you get the book, I believe reading it will transform your prayer life in both group and private prayer. I highly recommend it.

Let 2020 be the year that you revolutionize your prayer life.

Happy New Year!


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Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Review of Year End

One Year Ends Another Begins

As I write this we are celebrating the Year End of 2019 and welcoming in the new year and a new decade...2020. 

year end new begin
Wishing you all a Happy New Year
image courtesy of pixabay.com

Here is wishing you all the best in the coming year. I would like to leave you with this toast to end the year and begin our new one. It is a quote from Edith Pierce:

"We will open the book. It's pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and it's first chapter is New Year's Day."

As you fill the pages of your book of Opportunity, I hope you have few filled with sorrow and many filled with happiness. From myself and the other contributors of Review This, we wish you the best for this coming year and decade!




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Monday, December 30, 2019

Movie Review - The Aeronauts

The Aeronauts is a beautifully filmed movie that is both entertaining and educational. It gives the audience a glimpse into a pivotal event in the 1860s that impacted meteorology and scientists' ability to begin to understand and predict the weather. 


The Aeronauts an Amazon Original Movie

I use the word glimpse because this is a fictional version inspired by a true event. Some of the movie storyline strays far from the actual event. But overall, this is a beautiful movie depicting explorers who risked their lives to further our understanding of the weather that impacts our earth. 

My son recommended that I watch The Aeronauts via Amazon Prime. I am so glad he did. I enjoyed this movie immensely. I have always been in awe of explorers and inventors - not understanding how humans can be so inventive. I often say, "how in the world did they think of that?".  The Aeronauts kept me glued to the screen and made me realize that I've been completely unaware of an entire group of adventurers who fundamentally began space exploration from baskets lifted above the clouds by balloons.

James Glaisher (Eddie Redmayne) is a scientist, a meteorologist, who is determined to gather data while in the sky. He appears in front of the Royal Society to plead his case of creating a science of the weather. He is convinced that the ability to predict the weather could come from studying the weather while in the sky.  He advocated, and finally received funding and support for an expedition in the skies. Mr. Glaisher, a meticulous and studious young man seems to be the polar opposite of young Ms. Wren.

Amelia Wren (Felicity Jones) is the female aeronaut who reluctantly agrees to pilot Glaisher's trip. She is conflicted, not wanting to be his chauffer on one hand yet having a philosophy of "Look up. The sky lies open... ". Ms. Wren is as entertaining and dramatic as she is strong and athletic all while fighting the sad memories of the loss of her husband two years prior.

The balloon lifts the two explorers to heights that is currently the typical cruising altitude for commercial jets (37,000 feet). The views in the movie are breath-taking. The setting both beautiful and stressful; on the balloon, those in the balloon, and me while I was watching. The temperatures, oxygen issues, and atmospheric impact on the balloon are things that caused me to hold my breath and sit on the edge of my seat. 

I very much enjoyed Felicity Jones' portrayal of Ms. Wren. I don't think I have words that are sufficient to explain why I enjoyed her performance so much.  So I'll just leave it at that. 


The Aeronauts - Facts Versus Fiction


As it turns out, during the late 1700s to mid-1800s, women were passengers then pilots of balloons for entertainment purposes. These people who piloted the balloons were called aeronauts. Skilled as these women were, they were not a part of the scientific world. 

The Aeronauts that inspired this story were scientists James Glaisher and Henry Tracy Coxwell. These two men made significant discoveries related to weather during their record-breaking flights. And began the school of thought that weather can be predicted.

I found it a bit irritating that Coxwell was replaced with a woman. I'm not sure I like this sort of re-writing of historical events. It seems to take credit away from the very important life's work of another human being. 

However, if the director felt the need to put a female in place of one of the male scientists, I am grateful that he did so without a plot that included romance. 

In other parts of the internet, Director Tom Harper is quoted with an explanation that the worlds of science and Hollywood have had clear gender bias against women, and "we need to be active in our pursuit to redress that."  (Time, December 2019). I suppose that is why he replaced Mr. Coxwell with the fictional Ms. Wren. 

Even with my concern about erasing Coxwell from the movie, I highly recommend this movie. I enjoyed the themes of exploration, bravery, defying gravity, and a reminder of those who have been instrumental in society's progress over 100 years ago. Weather forecasts are something we seem to take for granted and it was very interesting to see a portrayal of someone so passionate in their career.




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For more information about Mr. Glaisher and Mr. Coxwell and their record-breaking flight, click here  (I recommend watching after you see the movie - to avoid small spoilers). You can be sure that I will be learning more about the early aeronauts, male and female, and their brave exploration. 


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Sunday, December 29, 2019

2020 is Body, Mind, and Spirit - Complete Life Balance, A Personal Commitment

2020 - Body, Mind, Spirit

Have you decided upon a new year's resolution for 2020? Do you prefer to avoid making one? When you review 2019 for you or your family, how does it rate?

2019 has been a challenging year for our family, and I know for many others. I'm looking forward to putting this year behind me.

I've made a resolution that I'd like to share here. It's about balance, but it's not about work-play balance. The balance I'm seeking is to nurse all three of these aspects in my life carefully.

Body, Mind, Spirit
Sounds corny right?

Not to me, not at this stage in my life. I've neglected my spirit. Even though it seems like I'm in a state of constant prayer, I still feel I haven't been feeding my soul properly.

The section on Spirit isn't meant to be about religion; I'm simply sharing what I do to expand my soul. However, whether you believe in God, a higher power, regardless of faith, or are a non-believer, we can all connect with our inner self, and free our minds with a little spiritual exercise.

I'm not an overtly religious person, but I do feel connected to a world beyond this one. It doesn't matter whether we feel that or not, what matters is that we make an effort to deepen our connection with humanity.

How I Personally Exercise Mind, Body & Spirit

The Mind

This one is pretty easy for most of us.

Chances are if you're reading this, you spend time online and probably have a blog, website, work for a company, or go to school. Just the amount of reading and learning we do to stay up-to-date with the above can give our mind a workout.

Most of my mind exercise comes from online reading. It seems I'm in a constant state of learning. If you're not online enough to be learning that way, then, of course, there are the usual, crosswords,  puzzle books, reading actual books and best of all, stimulating, productive and positive conversations with friends.

The Body

We all know that respecting our bodies can be pretty tough at times.

Eating healthy, exercise, and keeping ourselves free of substances not prescribed by a doctor are the common areas to focus on.

Personally, for health reasons, I made significant changes with my body in 2019. I decided to try the Keto Diet. I hate calling it a diet because, for me, it's not - it's a way of eating. I started May 4, 2019, and to date have lost 50 pounds; another 25, and I'm at my goal.  Anyway, I won't get into all the details of Keto; that isn't my point, taking control of my health is.

Sometimes caring for our body means relaxing more, enjoying ourselves more, and if we're healthy, merely being happy with the body we have.

The Spirit

In 2019 I did focus fairly successfully on Mind and Body, but I neglected spirit.

I started around December 12th, 2019, to do the soul work I should have been doing all year. The work I do is more than prayer. You can use the general concepts I use and convert them to fit your belief system. It's never my intention to push religion on anyone. I'm merely sharing the way I personally enhance inner-peace.

At night, a lot of people listen to meditation tapes, music, and audiobooks to fall asleep. If what you're doing is feeding your soul, keep doing that.

What I Do to Personally Feed My Soul

I was seeking a greater connection.

Six years ago, I came across a YouTube video Channel called Off The Left Eye. I had listened and followed them for several years, then life got in the way, and I drifted.

Off The Left Eye examines life through spirituality and faith, through the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg's (1668-1772 - Theologian, Scientist, Philosopher) personal experience with the afterlife.

Swedenborg was a famous scientist. After his otherworldly experience, he wrote ten thousand pages on his journey through the veil. Consequently, he was shunned by the scientific community of his day.

When I'm tucked in for bed, I listen to the videos featured by Off the Left Eye. Despite all of life's challenges, I do consider myself a peace-filled person. However, watching these videos expands my horizon and brings me to an even deeper level of understanding. Also, when I'm having a bad day, they're a must for rejuvenation.

These videos are erasing that persistent horrible feeling that another shoe is about to drop. I hate that feeling! I'm mastering its eradication with the help of these videos.

I love the metaphors that the Host, Curtis Childs uses; he has such a fun way of getting you to understand a concept that may seem too complex to grasp through Swedenborg's writing alone.

At any rate, for me, understanding the bigger picture is grounding. Letting God in, blocking out dark energy, and constantly praying (lol) makes for a happier me.

Whether you use music, quotes, other religious teachings, yoga, or meditation, it doesn't matter as all of it will feed the inner you.

Here's the very first video, from six years ago I tripped on by Off The Left Eye (It's a short inspirational summary of humanity):



Here's to a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2020. Happy New Year!





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