Thursday, November 12, 2020

Review of Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom Updates

 

Jupiter Lighthouse with Cloudy Sky

I really love the  new features of Lightroom and Photoshop that came with the updates in October of 2020.  Most of the time I have found that I have to practice several times and try to remember all of the steps for a new feature.  However, with these new features I read a summary of the changes once and right away I was able to use the new features.  They were that easy to  use.  In this post I will give you some examples of my three favorite new features.

Sky Replacement


One of the really fun new features in Photoshop is the sky replacement.  You could always replace skies on photos, but in the past it required you to remember several different steps in Photoshop and it was hard to select just the right amount of sky.  With the new sky replacement all you do is pull up "Sky Replacement" from the drop down menu and the sky is automatically selected.  You then have a wide variety of choices on sky replacements or you can create your own skies.  In the photo of the lighthouse above and the three shown below I replaced the skies with the selections already built into the system.  Each replacement only took seconds.  Which of these skies do you like best?
Jupiter Lighthouse with Blue Sky





Jupiter Lighthouse with Rainbow



Jupiter Lighthouse at Sunset








Color Adjustments in Lightroom

With the new updates in Lightroom, color adjustments have never been easier.  First there is a color grading panel that gives you opportunities to separately adjust colors for the midtones, shadows and highlights.  They are very easy to use, I suggest opening the color grading panel in the develop module and experiment with what each of the color wheels will do for your photograph.

In the  photos below I replaced the color of the flowers.  This was accomplished in just minutes using the adjustment brush.  I clicked on the brush, set the size of the brush I wanted and then adjusted the color in the hue slider.  Next I brushed over the parts of the photo that I wanted to change the color and just that easy I turned the pink flowers into a orange colored flower.


The photo above shows the original pink flower.  In the photo to the right, I easily changed the color of the flower with just a few simple brush strokes.




Neural Filters

I find it fun to try out different filters on some of my photos.  With the latest update, Photoshop added a new section of filters.  They are found under the filter tab and then under Neural Filters.  They are very easy to try.  Just click on the filter you want to try and you will see a preview of what your photo will look like with that filter. There is also a button to select if you want to preserve the color and another if want to focus on the subject.  Along with those two choices there are several sliders that let you determine the amount of filter that you want to apply. In the photos below, I applied four different filters to the same fall scene.






Zazzle Products from my Photos

If you would like to see my photos on a wide variety of products, please stop by my Zazzle store at www.zazzle.com/mbgphoto





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Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Home Made with Love, Christmas Crafts to Blow Your Mind

Christmas has already exploded on the scene and I usually don't jump on board until the First Week of Advent!  But, if you are crafting, you need to start before then!  Cricut, a product review!



Cricut is a platform that lets you make and style so many different materials that you can use to enhance the decor in your home for just about any occasion.

Because we are so close to Christmas, we will focus on this holiday for now.  Rest assured though, that Cricut is not just for Christmas.  You can craft all kinds of things for other holidays too.

So what exactly is Cricut?  

Cricut is a machine that cuts several different types of materials, from fabric, to vinyl and even some thin wood products.  You can cut letters, designs, logos and so much more with this handy machine.  

Paired with your computer, you can make your own designs and within the day have a whole series of items made with that design splashed on T-shirts, mugs, windows and more.  Your imagination is the starting point.

Personalized gifts are easy and the WOW FACTOR is what makes your gifts stand out.  

Do you need inspiration?  There are limitless possibilities with a Cricut, but if you are stumped there are literally hundreds of Videos available to twig your imagination into overdrive.



Any new technology can cause some trepidation, but once you own a machine you will find many videos on YouTube to help you get started.  There are so many videos available and also  help from Cricut itself.  There are idea books, downloads and more to help you organize and execute your first project without any difficulty!

I'm sure you have seen those beautiful signs with Quotes that just make your heart melt!  Well you can make your own using the Cricut machine.  




Cricut even has it's own blog, so that if you are stumped or need some extra encouragement, it is right there for you! 

You can join the Cricut family and open an account.  That will help you to see what is possible with your new machine. They will keep you informed on all kinds of new techniques and materials.  Everything from wall art, decals, t-shirts, mugs, greeting cards and more can be done with your new machine.  

The only thing that will be necessary is a willingness to learn and the time to execute your ideas.  Once you get started though, I'm sure you won't be able to stop!  

Just think of all the Holidays that you can make special with a touch of your creativity and the help of a Cricut.

Chirstmas, Valentine's Day, Easter, Spring, July 1st or 4th, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and so many more holidays.  And then there are the special occasions too that will have you crafting something wonderful.  An engagement, wedding, baby, new home, new job.  Birthday markers like 20, 30 and beyond, all of them are crafting times and a great way to use your new tools.  

I don't like to spend my money on a craft that I will only do once!  Cricut is a craft that you will do all year long and for a myriad of reasons!  

The beauty is, that if you can imagine it, you can also craft it and make it your own!  There are endless ways to make your home and surrounding a reflection of your own personal tastes.  Grab hold of some wonderful ideas and run with them.  I bet all your friends will be amazed at what you can do.



You might even find yourself using your spare time to create beautiful things to make and sell.  Before you know what happened, your hobby has now turned the corner and you could be enjoying self employment.  You just never know what can happen when you start to create with your Cricut and show the world what you have made.


The picture used in this post is my niece's home!  She has made signs, stockings and pillows to help her fill her home with Christmas!  And that is just a small sample of the things she has made.   What is stopping you?

Shop The Best Machine Prices of the Year 

Happy Holidays and Let's Get Creating Some Beauty!




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Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Ian Rankin's Knots and Crosses Book Review

Knots & Crosses: Tartan Noir Crime Novel by Ian Rankin 

In 2019, I was introduced to Ian Rankin via Carleton University’s Learning in Retirement program, Classics of Detective Fiction: From the 1960s to Today. I really enjoyed Rankin's Black and Blue, which was the book we read but only recently returned to start at the beginning of the series and read Knots and Crosses.

When Rankin wrote Knots and Crosses in 1987 he thought he had written a standalone crime detective novel and had even planned on killing Detective Rebus at the end of the book. Success for Rankin and Rebus was not fast in coming. After publishing Knots and Crosses to little fan fare, Rankin put Rebus aside and moved on to write his next book with no idea that he would eventually return to Rebus' world and that he would still be writing books for the series in 2020

Knots and Crosses Book Review
Anyway, I read Knots and Crosses. I really enjoyed it. I recommend it. Need I say more? Well, yes, I suppose I should because you may not have read anything by Ian Rankin and you may not have seen my earlier review of the eighth book in the series, Black and Blue.

I wrote about the number of covers that the eighth book has had and you won't be surprised to hear that this book also has had many covers. I had to work a bit to find a picture of the original cover, which I believe the image at the bottom of this page to be since Rankin describes the original cover as having knots and crosses on it and this is the only one that fits that description. 

Knots and Crosses is a classic detective story with a strong plotline. It was written in 1987 and based firmly in the Scotland of the time. It is considered British Realism Noir or Tartan Noir as it was written by Scottish writers and is set in Scotland. The Scottish story has style elements from other American and European crime writers of the same time period. 

Detective Rebus is a former Special Air Service (SAS) officer now doing police work and coping with a difficult past in a very destructive manner. Typical to noir, he is a working class main character who doesn't have ordinary heroic qualities like idealism, courage and morality. He's a drinker and a smoker and does not have many friends nor successful relationships. He is not above stretching the law in an effort to solve the case he is working on, which is also common in gritty, noir detective novels. 

Knots & Crosses by Ian Rankin
Because Knots and Crosses is the first book in the series, we are given the back story of Detective Rebus while he attempts to solve the nasty case of a serial murderer who is killing young girls and advertising that fact to the police.

REVIEWS


"Most of Knots and Crosses is claustrophobically situated inside his mind – and it’s a lonely, uncomfortable place. His asperity, his broken marriage, his drinking, his cold flat, his falling asleep in chairs because he can’t quite drag his tired hide into bed … Perhaps you could argue that these too are the stuff of cop cliché. But they feel real here. He feels like a character with weight. Rankin...nails the essentials."  I agree with The Guardian, Rebus seems perfectly developed in this story.

Another review on The Guardian says, "It is not always easy to read because of the context, but it grips you so hard that it feels compulsory to read on..."  Yes, this book has some uncomfortable moments but it will have you wanting to know who did it and you will read on.

Ian Rankin's First Book, Knots & Crosses
Finally, in the year that this book was written, Kirkus said, "Solidly drawn characters, keen psychological insights and an intriguing, well-knit plot—along with a rather florid but individual writing style—make Rankin a newcomer to watch." More than twenty successful novels later, I say they were right with that prediction. 

Knots and Crosses comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by me.

WHO WILL LIKE KNOTS & CROSSES? 


If you enjoy a well-written detective novel, I believe that you will enjoy this one. It is a crime fiction classic now and it is immensely readable. It does have violence, sex, drugs and murder but nevertheless I enjoyed the story, getting to know Detective Rebus a bit better in the process. For armchair travelers, it is also a look at the nice and the not-so-nice underbelly of Scotland's Edinburgh.

On Amazon, you will find Knots and Crosses by clicking here and all of Ian Rankin’s Inspector Rebus novels by clicking right here.

See you at 
the book store! 
Brenda 
Treasures By Brenda 

Quick Links



Knots & Crosses Book Review

Ian Rankin's Knots and Crosses Book Review







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Monday, November 9, 2020

Tips And Tricks To Make Holiday Fudge

Christmas and the holidays mean one word in this house - Fudge! It was and is the annual tradition to make fudge for the Christmas holidays. Fudge is not difficult to make, but does require strict attention to the recipe for a successful fudge dessert. I have compiled a few tips and tricks to make fool proof successful fudge for the holiday season.




The Original Fantasy Fudge Recipe is my favorite fudge recipe. It is tried and true. A smooth and creamy consistency that melts in your mouth. This is fudge made with marshmallow creme in a jar - old school with the original recipe ingredients. The recipe on the jar of today is slightly different from the original and as always, Grandma knows best when it comes to recipes. 

Fudge Tips And Tricks

One cooking tip I have learned through which is now probably hundreds of times making fudge (disclaimer: the annual Christmas fudge tradition has transitioned into making fudge a few times a year, so I am not 100, but have probably made fudge at least 100 times through my fudge career) is the boiling time.


Perfect, creamy, melt in your mouth fudge with this recipe requires five minutes of rocking and rolling boiling. Not a second more, not a second less and the fudge comes out perfect. 

The second cooking tip I have learned is to stir stir and stir. While the ingredients are boiling the fudge must be stirred constantly or the bottom will burn on the pan. Not only does this ruin the taste the pan will be absolutely horrendous to try and clean. Just when your arm is exhausted is not the time to walk away from boiling ingredients - keep stirring!

The third cooking tip I have learned is to split the cooked fudge into two batches: one with nuts and one without. Fudge lovers are definitely in two distinct groups as to if fudge should be with or without nuts. I prefer fudge without nuts so am very partial to leaving the nuts out entirely. This is a large recipe so there is plenty of fudge to make 3/4 of a batch without nuts and 1/4 batch with nuts or vice versa.




Fun Fudge Recipes From The Savvy Age

What else can you do with Fudge? Alot! Fudge is such a hit for the holidays with a little experimentation I have found fudge is also quite versatile. The favorites fudge spin off recipes so far: 

Fudge Christmas Cutouts



Fudge Cups - Snickerdoodle Fudge



Fudge Balls






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Sunday, November 8, 2020

Basic Tips I Learned on My Self-Publishing Journey

Self-Publishing Tips for Newbies

Let me start by saying that I'm NOT a self-publishing guru. I'm just a work-from-home-self-taught woman who decided to jump in and tackle some of those dreams left dying on the table.

I've written quite a bit here on ReviewThisReviews about self-publishing books. You'll find a list of the links below.

To date, I've self-published eight books and am currently writing the ninth. 

The topic of the books are Riddles, Poetry, and Sayings for Cards. Currently, I'm focussed on building a series of Riddle Books. There are five riddle books in the series and the sixth should be published in one to two months.

A General Overview of What to Do When You Self-Publish (According to my Personal Journey)


Note: To date, I've only published via Amazon's KDP self-publishing platform

  • Amazon Author Page: Once you've published your book, complete a detailed page about yourself on Amazon's Author Central Page. Here's Amazon's author central page for the USA. When publishing my books, I had to create author central pages for the UK and USA separately. Perhaps, Amazon will amalgamate things at some point, so we only have to do it once. Here's the UK author central page in case you need it.

  • Amazon Author Page Photo: Decide whether your Author Central page will feature a Logo or your personal photo. At first, I put up my logo but changed it to my personal photo. I prefer to emphasize that I'm just a regular person, not a 'big company.' 

  • Build a Website that Relates to Your Books: If you've never built a website or can't, you can hire someone or just build a blog related to your books. I've built websites (I'm not a website building guru either!), so I was able to create a website to coincide with my Riddle Books. You can take a look at my StumpedRiddles.com website here. Think about how you want people to navigate your site before you build it; write it out, give it a lot of thought. The ease at which people can work their way through your website is important. The top navigation bar on my riddles website features these tabs: Home, Riddles, Answers, Riddle Books, About/Contact. Within those headings are subheadings. Don't forget to include all the legal jargon you need on the site.

  • Facebook Business Page: Build a business Facebook page that features a Shop with your books. It takes a little learning, and you need a certain amount of products before you can build a shop. I chose to link my books back to each of their product pages on my website; that way, when you publish your book on multiple platforms (not just Amazon), you don't have to worry about changing links - since each product/book will direct back to your own product page on your own site.

  • Social Media Main Photo & URL Names: Create social media pages for your business/books. Decide whether you want to use your logo or your personal photo. I decided to use my Riddles logo for my social media pages, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. However, I created a Promo-Video and included that video at or near the top of each social media site: It features my personal photo and personal story. You'll have to choose your social media URL based on what's available; I wasn't able to get "Riddles" - it was taken. However, I choose URL's that were close: Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

  • Promo-Video: Create your promo video using your favorite video platform. I used Animoto. If your book/business dictates it, I would suggest being personal while describing your books' purpose. You can take a look at the promo video I created here.

  • Your Tag Line and Book Purpose: If you're able to establish a "purpose" for your books, create a consistent tag-line that describes your purpose and includes that tag line on your social media, website, and books. The tag-line I came up with is "Turn the World Off With a Smile." It's a twisted variation of a lyric line in the Mary Tyler Moore theme song. I know, I'm aging myself! That lyric was "she can turn the world on with her smile." Given the craziness of the world today, I decided my riddles are created for the distinct purpose of helping people to "turn the world OFF with a smile."
Here are some additional articles I've written relating to self-publishing - Again, I'm not a guru, just learning as I go!

As I learn more, I'll add more articles here on ReviewThisReviews. My next learning journey will be how to self-publish on platforms other than Amazon. That should be challenging.

Here's the first riddle book I created - I went through several cover designs before finally deciding on this one:

#StumpedRiddles - Riddle Book
#Stumped - Riddle Book - First Volume






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Saturday, November 7, 2020

Review of Progresso Panko Crispy Bread Crumbs


I was first introduced to Panko flakes over 6 years ago when I met my new daughter-in-law, whom I will introduce here as J. She is a delightful girl who is originally from South Korea. She's also a wonderful cook, naturally specializing in Asian dishes  (which my son loves). One of the first dishes she made for me was Panko coated shrimp deep fried in a Wok.  It was absolutely delicious.

I watched (and helped) J. make the Panko Shrimp that evening and, after tasting how good the Panko coating was, I have used it ever since. J. does a lot of food shopping at a local Asian Market, but I found a product similar to her Asian Panko Flakes in a product by Progresso. Not only is it good on shrimp, but it is equally delicious on fried chicken fingers and on pork chops. 

 

Progresso Panko Crispy Bread Crumbs


Panko is drawn from Japanese crusine. It is a delicious flaky bread crumb which can be used in a variety of recipes.  My favorite way is as a coating for fried meat and seafood. It adds a golden crispness to fried creations and makes the food crunchy  and flavorful.


Panko bread crumbs can be used in many ways.  

  • It makes a delicious stuffing for chicken breasts or pork chops when combined with cheese, onions and herbs.  
  • You can make quick croutons by browning in a skillet with melted butter and spices for a tasty salad topping.
  • I  haven't tried this yet, but I can just imagine how tasty it would be to replace your usual amount of regular bread crumbs with these Panko bread crumbs in your favorite meatloaf recipe. 
  • Mix these Panko bread crumbs with olive oil and your favorite seasonings and sprinkle on top of casserole in the last few minutes of baking.
  • Panko Crispy Bread Crumbs come in two varieties – 'Plain' and 'Italian Style'. I prefer the Italian Style because they are so deliciously seasoned that no additional seasonings are needed.  The Plain version is good if there are specific seasonings you prefer to add to your bread crumbs. 

Panko Coated Pork Chop Dinner

My teenage grandson's favorite meal served by his G-MA (the grandmother name he calls me) is pork chops and white rice with butter, along with applesauce. Here is a sample of our Panko-coated pork chop dinner. 


Panko Fried Shrimp Recipe 


Panko Fried Shrimp


For your dining pleasure (and a tasty way to duplicate the delicious deep-fried shrimp meal my daughter-in-law J made me), here is a recipe for Panko Fried Shrimp from AllRecipes.


Recipe: Japanese-Style Deep-Fried Shrimp


Ingredients


1 pound medium shrimp, peeled (tails left on) and deveined

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

½ teaspoon garlic powder

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon paprika

2 large eggs eggs, beaten  

1 cup panko crumbs

1 quart vegetable oil for frying


Directions:


Step 1:

Place the shrimp in a bowl and season with salt, pepper and garlic powder. In a small bowl, stir together the flour and paprika. Place eggs and panko crumbs into separate bowls.

Step 2:

Heat the oil in a deep-fryer or deep skillet to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Dip each shrimp into the flour mixture, then into the egg, and finally into the panko crumbs to coat. Fry a few at a time until golden brown. This should take no longer than 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels before serving.

Yield:  4 servings


Progresso


The Progresso brand has been around for more than 80 years. Begun by the merging of two prominent Italian importing companies in New Orleans in 1925, they specialized in canned Italian food products. They are most known for their soups, as well as canned tomato products, olive oil, spaghetti, ravioli and beans. Progresso was acquired by Pillsbury in 1988 and today it is in the General Mills family of products.


Where to Purchase:


Progresso Panko Crispy Bread Crumbs are available on Amazon, which is convenient as it is delivered right to your door. And, in addition, besides the single packages, it is also available in bulk (6 and 12 box units). 

It is also available online and in-store at Target and Walmart

Wherever you purchase your Panko Crispy Bread Crumbs, it is a very tasty product to have on hand for all the reasons I mentioned above. 


For more Recipe Reviews, check out ReviewThisReviews: Recipes




(c) Written by Wednesday Elf (11/7/2020)






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Friday, November 6, 2020

How to Lose Weight While Playing Video Games on the Kindle Fire

Video Game AppsI have been shocked by how much weight I have lost while playing video games when exercising.  Previously, I found exercising to be boring and I simply couldn't force myself to stick with it.  That was before I discovered video games on my Kindle Fire!

How It All Began for Me ........

Several years ago, one of our fellow contributors, Susan Deppner, helped me select a new Kindle Fire.  Susan had lots of experience with the various electronic readers and I trusted her to know exactly what I needed.

I loved my Kindle Paperwhite, but I wanted a Kindle with color pictures for cookbooks and children's books.  We all know images are the first impression of either of those kinds of books and are often the determining factor in which ones we purchase.  After all, I'm not likely to even try a recipe without seeing a photo that looks delicious.

I remember laughing when Susan said a Kindle Fire with 32 GB would be more than enough, unless I played a lot of video games.  I laughed because, at the time, I didn't play video games.  The only video games I had ever encountered required a specific console & controllers connected to the television.  

Fast forward 4 years and you will find me playing video games on my Kindle Fire every day.   


Video Game on Kindle Fire

How Video Games Helped Me Lose Weight

Video Game Apps on Kindle Fire
It has been said many times that video game players pack on the pounds while playing video games.  That is simply not true for me!  I play my video games on my Kindle Fire while I exercise. 

I've never liked exercising.  Frankly, in the past, I considered it boring and most often a waste of time since I couldn't force myself to stick with something so mind-numbing.  When my daughter shared how someone she knew had lost a lot of weight on an exercise bike, I thought that very impressive, but lamented that I could not exercise an hour per day.  

Time and experience has proven me wrong on that opinion too.

Fast forward 32 weeks and I am happy to say that I have worked up to exercising an hour per day, 5 days a week, on my recumbent exercise bike.  I don't find that exercise boring because I play my video games while pedaling.  I have lost 30 lbs. in 32 weeks without giving up my favorite food!

 

Favorite Video Games I Play on My Kindle Fire  

My first encounter with a video game on my Kindle Fire, was a hidden object game.  I quickly advanced to Candy Crush.  From there, I discovered lots of games I love to play!  Perhaps an hour a day is not enough.

These are some of my favorite free game apps that I have downloaded to my Kindle Fire.  If you are already an experienced gamer, I recommend starting at the bottom of the list to discover new games you might enjoy.



Simply talking to my husband or son, you would find out quickly that everyone has a different taste or preference in game choice.  That is totally okay!  There is something for everyone in the Amazon Game Apps that can be downloaded to the Kindle Fire. 

For me, I have always chosen the free game apps.  They all have options to purchase specialty items, tokens, gems or whatever the game requires to continue playing or advance faster.  That is not necessary.  Most of the time, I simply switch to a different game and play until my "lives" are restored on my current favored game.




Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. You should consult your physician before starting this or any exercise program to determine what is best for your needs.



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Health Reviews

 


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Thursday, November 5, 2020

Hiking Naked - Book Review

 

Kindle Unlimited Link

Are you taking a leave of absence
She whispered her question as if I were planning a prison escape.

No.  What Iris had in mind did involve absence, but truly, it was more about arriving back at presence.  In Hiking Naked, Iris Graville takes us along on her journey of stripping life down to what is most essential.  This is a book about reclaiming your joys.

If ever there was a time to plan a prison escape, surely it would be now.  Just as Iris felt imprisoned by the burnout of years in the public health field, who among us is not wishing for an escape from the weariness of daily crisis... from the pandemic stress in which we are engulfed?

For me, being immersed in the author's sojourn to a place far removed from constant bombardment was not only a much-needed respite, but also a knowing, as Graville put it, of "the riches of attending to what's truly important."

Anyone who has ever fantasized about moving to a remote haven far from the madding crowd will relish this account of Graville's time spent in Stehekin (a Native word meaning a way through), Washington.  As Iris ferries us via her writing to this uplake North Cascades paradise, we discover ourselves in a place any lover of Northern Exposure would find intriguing and refreshing.  

Imagine living without TV, phones, freeways, or frenzy.  Think what it would be like to mail-order your groceries (and have a stranger named Alice select your food items for you).

Envision a time of reading, writing, hiking, and just being.  Wrap your mind around days filled with art, bread-baking, letter-writing, laundry-hanging, and journaling about the desires of your heart.

In the process of becoming "Stehekinized," Graville found her own way through the tumult of both internal and external fires and floods.  As she sought balance, and let Stehekin live within her, Iris found the path to what was next.

I highly recommend this book to anyone searching for clarity, for renewal, for a clear sense of calling, for a return to the essence of life.  Here's to finding your own Stehekin.  May the way through be a journey to joy.





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Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Lawn Leaf Blowers

 

Lawn Leaf Blowers
Lawn Leaf Blowers Reviewed
Photo from Getty Free Images

We Live in a small quiet village in Western New York, surrounded by so many big trees. We have a small yard so it's not that difficult to take care of. When the fall season arrives, and the leaves turn those beautiful colors it's a breathtaking sight and so beautiful.

It's not long before the leaves fall to the ground, cover the lawn and clog the gutters. Last year my electric leaf blower burned up, I wasn't too disappointed when this happened as I've had it for many years.

Lawn Leaf Blowers Reviewed

It was time to find a new leaf blower so I began my search. I had to decide between electric, gas-powered, or Cordless. My first thought was, instead of dragging a couple of extension cords around the yard how about a new gas-powered leaf blower.

As luck would have it a friend of mine let me use his gas-powered leaf blower for a couple of days. As far as blowing leaves it worked very well. But, for me, I found it too heavy and hard to start. This was my opinion I'm sure many people love their gas-powered leaf blowers.

There are many cordless leaf blowers on the market. I wasn't thrilled with the reviews that I read on cordless. I think the cordless is great for blowing off sidewalks, patios, and decks. I just wasn't convinced that cordless would be good enough for the big job of the leaves.

I decided on a new electric Weed Eater Leaf Blower. Since my old one was the same brand and it served me well. It's lightweight, with an ergonomic handle for ease of handling, has an airspeed of 130 MPH, with low noise.

I couldn't be happier with my new leaf blower. I use it throughout the year to clean off my deck and to blow the leaves out of my rain gutters. I made my own extension attachment from some leftover downspout and an elbow. Since we live in a one-story home it's easy to clean the gutter from the ground.

I would recommend this leaf blower to anybody. There are other popular brands on the market. I find this one to be inexpensive with a five-star review.

Turbine Leaf Blower Electric Corded Powerful 7 AMP - Corded Weed Eater Leaf Blower Black Nozzle 130 MPH Max Air 2 Speed Lawn Blower for Women Garden Patio Lawn Backyard Dust SnowTurbine Leaf Blower Electric Corded Powerful 7 AMP - Corded Weed Eater Leaf Blower Black Nozzle 130 MPH Max Air 2 Speed Lawn Blower for Women Garden Patio Lawn Backyard Dust Snow

 

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Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Reviewing The Joys And Uses Of Autumn/Fall Leaves

Autumn/Fall Leaves

I appreciate all the seasons and I love the time of year when the leaves start to change colour. Although the vibrant colours of the beautiful spring and summer flowers are now a fond memory, Autumn leaves are equally gorgeous. 

I love to see all the different colours and when you look more closely all the diverse shapes and textures of the leaves. Underfoot if it's dry they feel scrunchy and if it's wet they are all slippery.

When the wind blows you can hear the rustle of the dry leaves and some get caught up and fly higher into the sky like wild confetti! 

In the Fall/Autumn season we are treated to the stunning show of reds, golds, bronze and russets to lift our spirits as the days grow colder and shorter. I do have happy memories of Autumn that stay with me always.

There are many beautiful and lasting memories that can be made at this time of year between children and their parents or grandparents and I wanted to highlight some of the uses and joys to appreciate this season's beautiful falling leaves.

There is nothing quite like standing under a large tree when its leaves are changing color to golds and reds gazing up at the sky as the sun is streaming through, it is truly a magical experience.


Autumn/Fall With Children

This time of year always raises memories of my childhood. My parents always encouraged a love of the outdoors and Autumn always evokes memories as a child walking through deep rifts of crunchy leaves holding hands with my Mum and Dad kicking up the leaves, having fun!

We collected leaves of all shapes, colours and sizes to press, make into a picture and learn about. To succeed in this process on a basic level all you need is tissue paper and a very heavy book. Simply lay the leaf between 2 layers of tissue paper then place in the middle of a heavy book, close and leave. Before very long you will have beautifully preserved leaves. If you wish to learn more about leaf and flower pressing this book is a great starting point to learn how to create really lovely personalised art from simple leaves and flowers.

The Art of Pressed Flowers and Leaves


For younger children dried leaves can be laid down on white paper, the outline drawn and then coloured or painted in whatever authentic or imagined colours they like!

Autumn leaves are so beautiful to paint and also to take photographs of. They have amazing colours and shapes and are always interesting for the artist. Such gorgeous rich colours and moods to capture. 

When older children are involved in looking at and experiencing nature in this way it is then very educational to teach children about the different leaves and which trees they come from. 

This gorgeous book is a wonderful resource, beautiful, visual and well organised to teach children about leaves, trees, seeds, flowers and so much more to encourage an interest in and appreciation of nature.


Trees, Leaves, Flowers and Seeds: A Visual Encyclopedia of the Plant Kingdom




Children and adults can enjoy making a collage of beautiful shapes and colours together from collected Autumn leaves.

As a child, I did this activity throughout Autumn with my parents and it was an enjoyable craft in the long dark evenings.

 All we need is a large sheet of paper, a safe means of adhering them to the paper and dried pressed leaves. The only limits are our imagination!




Making Leaf Mould For The Garden

I heard a neighbour say the other day how he would like this time of year if it wasn't for the leaves falling. I was surprised to hear this as I always see this time of year as a bounty! Fallen Leaves are a great harvest for me. Each year I eagerly wait in anticipation for the leaves to change colour and then fall. My task is then to gather them all up to make gorgeous leaf mold.

I make it by first raking up all the leaves on a dry day, then I set the mower blades on the highest setting and give a gentle mow over to break them down into smaller pieces. This helps to speed up the process. Next, I either place the leaves into black bags or a simple chicken wire crate.

If they are in black bags I make holes with a fork for drainage.  If it is not raining I water them and place them out of sight around the back of the garage. This is so easy to do and I simply wait a year and then I have lovely crumbly free leaf mold to mix in with potting compost and use freely on our beds and borders!


Autumn/Fall Leaves And Wildlife

We can all enjoy the fall leaves but we should not forget about our wildlife. I always leave piles of leaves around in the borders of the garden in sheltered places so as not to be destroyed by strong winds. If we add large or medium-sized logs or piles of sticks that assist wildlife even more by providing protective cover.

Over the years I have seen blackbirds kicking these piles of leaves around to find dinner beneath, hedgehogs taking the leaves to another place getting ready for their winter hibernation, or even deciding that the pile itself will make a cosy home!

There are also all the unseen bugs, creatures and minibeasts who will inhabit the leaf pile to make it their home and find some winter comfort there. 


So just a few examples of how we and our garden creatures can enjoy and use this bountiful resource that is the fallen Autumn/Fall leaves. How do you enjoy Autumn/Fall leaves?   



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