Monday, January 4, 2021

Reviewing Grypmat: the Ultimate Tool Mat

 When I give gifts, I try to give something that connects with that person's passion. Or something that is very practical. It is a happy moment when I give a gift that hits both marks. I gave the Grypmat to my best friend and he immediately let me know how wonderful this product is.



What is a Grypmat?

A Grypmat is a trademarked, silicone tool organizer that sticks to surfaces and so much more.

Grypmats:

  • come in a variety of sizes
  • are made of silicone polymer and "special ingredients" to make it "extra grypy".
  • are anti-static and clings through a combination of suction and friction
  • protect surfaces from marring and scratching
  • prevent the loss of tools, bolts, and other small items
  • are not magnetic (does not pick up bits of metal fragments that scratch)
  • are rated for very hot and very cold temperatures (climate, engine, workspace, etc)
  • are washable; oils and chemicals (used in mechanic work) wash off easily and do not harm that mats
  • can be used in a variety of activities; mechanical work, jewelry-making, gunsmithing, and almost any activity that requires keeping track of items. 
I chose this size of Grypmat because it was in my gift-giving price range. The bright orange color is a bonus and will help him find the mat if (when) he misplaces it. Also, it is the size that fits on a ladder step. I cannot count the number of times I've watched my friend at the top of a ladder trying to hold on to multiple items while working. 

Comments, Photos, and a Brief Review from My Friend

I knew I'd review the medium Grypmat as soon as my friend started text-bombing me with photos and comments about the gift I gave to him. As a side note, my friend works in building maintenance and car repair. I know that he HATES when people are careless and scratch things by laying their tools on surfaces. I've been with him when the socket drops out of his hand, falls through the engine, and a hide-n-seek game ensues. As soon as I saw these Grypmats, I knew that he would put it to good use. But I had no clue how much he'd love it. In fact, I had apologized that this gift was probably a really boring/practical/work-related gift.

The following is a selection of photos and comments from my friend (used with permission):




"I'd say I've had numerous times I'd like to have it on the window....

a place to sit stuff"

"Even the mirror job... I had tools on the wiper cowl and if you miss one... crunch... hoodcrumple"



"Now watch this.. bridge over an area !!!!!!!"

"And it's an electrical insulator... won't arc battery..."




Of course, there are Grypmat knock-offs available. I decided to purchase the original Grypmat out of the expectation (an expectation that was met) that the materials would be high quality and the product would perform as advertised. I'd imagine that the knock-offs would provide a non-marring tool mat but I imagine that the "gripping" ability would be absent. For example, my silicone soap molds are heat-resistant in an oven and would prevent tools from making scratches in surfaces if used as a mat. But the grip factor is missing as is the industrial level quality. I am also not confident that my silicone items would stand up to the chemicals used in auto repairs and similar activities. 

Who Invented Grypmat?

"Grypmat is a Veteran-founded company founded by former Air Force F-16 Mechanic, Tom Burden" from the Grypmat official website.

Another reason I chose Grypmat was related to who the inventor is. While I am not someone who does a great deal of shopping, I do try to support Veteran-owned businesses when I spend money. I also support entrepreneurs and small business as often as I am able. Finally, who better to design a tool mat than an F-16 mechanic? 

I felt that my decision was validated when I realized that Tom Burden had also appeared on The Shark Tank. If The Sharks have faith in this product, I thought it would be a good choice as a gift for my friend.

And clearly, it was an excellent and much appreciated choice. 

Related Links:

If you are interested in a Grypmat, or want more information, you can check the official website. You can also find Grypmats on Amazon via the Grypshon store or using the link below. 


Photo credit: truck and Grypmat photos courtesy of Dawn Rae's BFF.




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Sunday, January 3, 2021

What to Put Above a Bench Seat

 

Ideas on What to Place Above a Bench Seat - Complete the Look

If you've added a bench seat to a foyer or against a wall in a bedroom, it can be difficult to figure out what to put above it.

If the bench seat is against the wall in a bedroom, it can look rather lost when you consider the distance between the seat of the bench and the ceiling. 

Obviously, you'll have to position items higher than where a person's back and head would be when they're seated.

Below Is a List of Items to Consider When Decorating Above a Bench Seat

  • Wall racks with metal hooks are ideal above a bench seat. Whether in a bedroom or a foyer, a wall rack with hooks provides a place to hang coats, sweaters, hats, or just use it to feature a gorgeous array of decorative wreaths. If you're not a fan of clothing hanging out in the open (some prefer clothes hidden in closets), then use the hooks to feature decorative hanging pieces, such as dream catchers, tin signs on wire hooks, a collection of colorful cloth bags, decorative umbrellas, or narrow baskets filled with colorful dried flowers. Just remember to gauge the distance between where to place the hooks and how far down items should hang to not land where someone's head would be when seated.

  • Place a floor-to-ceiling strip of decorative vinyl or paste wallpaper behind the bench. The bench then becomes its own decorative area. If you're a fan of brick, there are many brick-look wallpaper designs to choose from. Add photos on the paper above it or hooks, or just let the wallpaper speak for itself.

  • A large decorative wall clock makes an excellent decorative piece when the bench seat is in a hallway. Again, place it high enough not to collide with people, but make it large enough to make an impression as a substantial decor item. The nice thing about a clock is it's fairly flush, and won't protrude very much from the wall.

  • Use metal art to add dimension and texture as a backdrop. You can check out some of the metal art featured on the product display below. Metal art comes in multiple designs, ranging from butterflies to birds, to sayings, to abstract collections. If the area you're decorating needs something other than simple photos, consider textured art.

  • A Collage of Photos and Various Textured Items. Don't be afraid to mix photos with wreaths, dream catchers, and word art. Mixed textures such as wood, cloth, greenery, and even lights can create a lovely rustic decoration piece, especially for an entryway. Consider a shelf positioned quite high up, then place the items that are flush to the wall below it.

Check out some of the above-suggested product ideas below:






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Saturday, January 2, 2021

Gorton's Grilled Tilapia Review

 


Good seafood that is good for you.


I've lived in coastal communities on both the West Coast and the East Coast in years past and thereby acquired a real love for fish and seafood.  Coastal living also has the advantage of the availability of fresh seafood.


Now life circumstances have brought me back to the Midwest where 'fresh' is only found in specialty markets at a premium price due to coastal seafood having to be shipped inland. So a readily available, but tasty, substitute had to be found to satisfy my seafood and fish cravings.  I found just such a product in Gorton's Grilled Tilapia fillets with roasted garlic & butter. 


Gorton's Grilled Tilapia



This frozen grilled tilapia fillets dish is delicious. It is quick and easy to prepare (20 minutes at 400 degrees baked in a conventional oven) and has a nice, fresh taste. I like mine served with white rice, as the garlic butter sauce lends itself well to this accompaniment. 



The 6.3 ounce package has two fish fillets in it and each fillet is only 100 calories. Seasoned with real herbs and spices, these Tilapi fillets are also gluten-free.  One fillet per person is perfect when served with side dishes.

The fillets can also be cooked in the microwave, but I prefer the oven baking method best. Plus, if I cook long-grain rice to go with it, the rice also takes 20 minutes. Perfect timing. 




Other Gorton Tilapi Products


Gorton's also has other varieties of their Tilapia dishes. The Signature Grilled Tilapia tastes like it has been grilled outside.  And Gorton's two Skilled Crisp Tilapia selections are lightly battered and coated with garlic and herb seasonings or with classic seasonings  with just a squeeze of fresh lemon.


Gorton's Seafood Company


Pixabay
Begun in Gloucester, Massachusetts (America's oldest seaport) in 1849, Gorton's has been in operation for 170 years. Gorton's was one of the first to develop frozen convenience food, and many of us have been familiar with their frozen fish sticks for years.

Today you can find just about any kind of fish or seafood with the Gorton's name.  This article is about their Tilapia dishes, but they also have salmon, haddock, flounder, cod, shrimp, clams, crab and much more.

From delicious classics such as fish sticks and popcorn shrimp to lighter options in the Smart Solutions line to the chef-inspired Everyday Gourmet line of dishes, there is a fish or seafood entrée for everyone. Check out Gorton's 56 varieties of fish and seafood products here and see which one(s) you would like to try.  


Note: Gorton's fish and seafood products can usually be found at most grocery stores. 


For more fish and seafood recipes and product reviews, search ReviewThisReviews for Seafood


*Gorton's Grilled Tilapia Review written by (c) Wednesday Elf on 1/2/2021







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Friday, January 1, 2021

It's 2021! Are You in The Twilight Zone?

Twilight Zone
For many years now, every New Year's Eve and New Year's Day is celebrated with the Twilight Zone marathon.  Even though we cut the cable a very long time ago, we didn't cut the Twilight Zone tradition in our home.

In reviewing how you can see the marathon, I'll tell you that CBS usually airs the Twilight Zone marathon starting on New Year's Eve and lasting until the early morning hours of Jan 2.  But, you can now set your own schedule thanks to Netflix & Hulu.

Hulu has all 5 seasons available and Netflix is currently offering seasons 1-3 & 5. 

What better way to start 2021 than with the voice of Rod Sterling!

 


January 1, 1960

 The Twilight Zone - Season 1
(The Definitive Edition)
Check Price
Do you know what happened on January 1, 1960? 

To be honest, I wasn't there, but I know what history tells us. On January 1, 1960, the 13th episode of the 1st season of the Twilight Zone aired.  That episode is entitled "The Four of Us Are Dying".

It is about a con man who can change his face to look like whomever he chooses by simply concentrating.  36 year old Arch Hammer doesn't always pick the best people to impersonate, but he always has an angle or reason for his selections.  Some schemes require a lot of money though and getting that can be very "expensive" as well as dangerous when you don't know the life story of the person you choose to impersonate.

You can watch that episode this New Year's by visiting Netflix or Hulu.  If you don't mind waiting and you would rather own the entire first season, you can do the same thing we have done in my household.  You can buy the full season, all 36 episodes, on DVD.


Favorite Twilight Zone Episode

The January 1, 1960 episode is a thought provoking episode for anyone who thinks they would rather be someone else.  However, that is not my personal favorite episode, or the one that reflects my greatest desire or fear. 

I admit, it is hard to choose a favorite episode out of all of the Twilight Zone shows.  There is one that haunts me though, so I think it must demonstrate some fear or concern in my own "twilight zone".  It is "Time Enough At Last".  If you know the title, it must haunt you too.  If not, you will find it in season 1, episode 8.

Now tell me.  What is your favorite or most memorable Twilight Zone episode? 

 





Check Out More Movie Reviews at
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It's 2021! Are You in The Twilight Zone? Written by:

House of Sylvestermouse




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Thursday, December 31, 2020

Elsewhere by Dean Koontz – Book Review



They have a key to open doors that no one else can see. It's the “Key to Everything”


As is now almost expected from a story by Dean Koontz, a best-selling master of suspense, this is a novel of wonder; this is a novel of terror!


Synopsis


Jeffy Coltrane lives a quiet life in Suavidad Beach, CA where he works at maintaining a normal life for himself and his 11-year-old daughter Amity since his wife, Michelle, left seven years ago.  Life is simple for the pair of them. Jeffy is a dreamer who wishes he had lived in the era of the 1930s when Big Bands like Benny Goodman performed. Or in worlds that never were and never can be. He admits he's all about Big Bands and Hobbits. Amity shares his love of Science Fiction and Fantasy. They share a small house and a simple life where Amity is home-schooled and Jeffy repairs and restores Bakelite radios and collects and sells vintage posters and other Art-Deco articles from past times. 


Then, a local eccentric they call 'Spooky Ed” shows up on their doorstep.  Ed insists that Jeffy hide a strange and dangerous object that “he must never use”


The next morning, a group of ominous men visit and search their house. Jeffy & Amity have hidden the 'object' from the subsequent search these supposedly government agents make. Later, they accidentally activate the object Ed had called “the key to everything”, where they discover an extraordinary truth. The device allows them to jump between parallel planes both familiar and bizarre, wondrous and terrifying.  And they wonder if the key could help them find Michelle. 


But Jeffy and Amity soon find that others are interested in the device, including a man determined to use the key's grand potential for profound evil. Unless Amity and Jeffy can outwit him, the place they call home may never be safe again. 


Author Dean Koontz


*Image of Dean Koontz - "424471817_e337d8f8ec_o"  by  jeremyvaught  is licensed under  CC BY-NC 2.0 


Dean Koontz has written more than 100 books, 14 of which have hit the top spot on the New York Times Best Seller list. He has sold over 500 million copies. He lives in Southern California with his wife, Gerda, and their current Golden Retriever, Elsa. Koontz has a deep love for Goldens and has included them in several stories.


Summary


ELSEWHERE by Dean Koontz

Elsewhere is suspenseful, sometimes terrifying, often humorous and a delightful read consistent with what readers and fans expect from Dean Koontz. 


Book Review of ELSEWHERE by Dean Koontz written by (c) Wednesday Elf






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Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Charleston South Carolina Historic Vacation Reviewed

South Carolina Folley Beach Pier
South Carolina Folly Beach Pier

 If you're planning a vacation in the new year and you love history, or maybe you just like to relax on you're vacation, consider Charleston South Carolina.

We’re lucky enough to have family living in Charleston. If we didn’t have family living there I don’t know if we would have ever have considered taking a vacation there. What a mistake that would be, as we’ve traveled there many times to visit and every time there is something new to see and do.

As you know this is where the Civil War started, when confederate soldiers fired on Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, which was occupied by Union forces. This was known as the first shot fired in the Civil War. Okay, enough history; you can read this anywhere online. What I want to tell you are some of the fun things that we like to do when we visit Charleston.

Folley Beach

Folly Beach is on James Island, we always make it a point to visit this beach in the morning. We walked to the beach and collected some beautiful seashells. We’ll later use these seashells to do some crafts with our grandchildren.

The beach is so very peaceful in the morning, and if you can get there early enough to see the sunrise it’s a beautiful sight. Although we didn’t do this every day, come on, I’m on vacation right. If you miss the sunrise, the sunsets on Folly Beach are epic.

Charleston the downtown market

Baskets in the maket place

Take a day to visit the huge outside market in downtown Charleston, we like walking through and stopping to see the many vendors and their wares. You’ll find everything here from fine art to the smallest trinket to take home as a keepsake. There are some very talented people, who hand weave these baskets. Well, it’s hard to see the people in this photo, but I really wanted you to see the baskets.

As you walk through, you’ll see people throughout the market crafting and weaving their baskets. We have purchased several; after all, you can never have enough baskets, right? Some of them are a bit pricey, but most time the vendors a willing to make a deal.

Carriage Tours

Once you're downtown take some time to check out the carriage ride guided tours of the city. These tours have so many different routes around the city, and you can take a different one every time. It’s a beautiful ride through the streets of Old Charleston, the tour guides are well versed in the history of the city, and the horses are very friendly too. If you’re going to visit Charleston, put this on your things-to-do list, you won’t be sorry.

 This is the tour that we have taken a couple of times. The Palmetto Carriage Tour is an hour-long carriage ride through the city. I love the history on these tours, I learn something new every time.

Plantation
Walk around the city just to enjoy the beauty and architecture. Soak in the history of Old Charleston. 

Walking along the Battery off in the distance, you can see Fort Sumter. Very often you can see dolphins jumping around the shoreline.

As I walk through the streets of this historic city. I can’t help but think of all the generations that have lived in these homes. Homes that have been here for hundreds of years, the history just pours out of them. After the war, Charleston didn’t have a lot of money to rebuild so they restored and restored, keeping the old buildings for us to enjoy.

This is my favorite thing to do as I see something new every time we take a walk around the city. These are some of the things we like to do when we visit Charleston. There is so much more to enjoy here, with so many wonderful restaurants and parks to visit.

Charleston Where History Lives

Find more Travel Reviews here: ReviewThisTravel.com

Charleston! Charleston!: The History of a Southern CityCharleston! Charleston!: The History of a Southern City

 




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Tuesday, December 29, 2020

6 Ways To Help Wildlife In The Year Ahead

 

Butterfly On Wild Flowers By Raintree Annie

If one of the things you would like to do in the New Year is to do more to help our precious and often at-risk wildlife here are six easy ideas reviewed.

Even if we do just one of these we will be helping wildlife and nature. Do all six and your garden could be transformed into a wildlife haven in less than a year! 

In our gardens, balconies and patios we can all do one thing for wildlife and make such a huge difference. Some of these ideas are very easy indeed while others require a little more thought and time but all are fun and not difficult for most people to achieve. You may well find children enjoy being involved in many of these activities as well.

 

1. What To Do With The Old Christmas Tree 

I hope you had a lovely time at Christmas and an attractive, decorated Christmas tree.

We will keep ours up in the house for a little while longer but now is the time to think about what to do with it once the time comes to take it down.

I find it quite depressing to see all the Christmas trees outside people's houses ready to be taken away by the refuse collectors, of no more use to the neighbourhood. 

I do not like waste and feel there is a better way to recycle our old Christmas trees long after they have given us so much happiness. 

Making a woodpile with the chopped branches, creating a stumpery, shredding it and using the shreddings for mulch or even just laying it down in an undisturbed area of the garden for habitat and shelter all help our gardens and our wildlife.

What Do You Do With The Old Christmas Tree discusses more uses for our old Christmas trees.  

 

2. Don't Be So Tidy in The Garden! 

This may be an easy one to follow! However, I understand many of us like to have a neat and tidy garden, all edges carefully trimmed, leaves gathered up and all weeds eradicated. There is something very pleasing about a neat and tidy garden. However for nature, for wildlife they need us to be a little messier in our gardens.

Wildlife view our gardens as s source of food, warmth, shelter and breeding sites so they look for leaves, woodpiles, shrubs, water and long grass to name a few. 

There is a way to have a mainly neat and tidy garden and to help wildlife though. Messy does not have to mean ugly.

A small log pile can be made attractive to us and useful for wildlife, leaves left in borders or in a small pile out of the way are an invaluable source of shelter and food and just leaving things a little less manicured can be a boon to nature generally. 

We can easily designate a small area of the garden where we allow it to be a little wilder. In fact, I think a garden that aims to attract wildlife is especially beautiful and full of sound and sights and life. 


Diary Of a Wild Country Garden. Are we Too Tidy In Our Gardens? Raiintree Annie 


If you decide to do this you will reap the benefits in terms of seeing more birds, butterflies and bugs and attracting more insect and bird predators to your garden to help you with the pests and diseases all gardens have to deal with. For more ideas please see Are We Too Tidy In Our Gardens? 


3. Provide Water For The Birds 

Perhaps the most important thing we can do for birds is to provide water. Birds need water to drink and clean their feathers. This is vital for their health and wellbeing.

It is also something that fewer homes provide. Many people think about feeding the birds but less think about the need for water and bathing. Do You Have A Bird Bath In Your Garden? discusses this further with tips to help our beautiful birds. 

As long as the water is clean and fresh and ideally we need to change it every day or every few days, it does not matter too much what the container is. 

However, many of us choose to have a lovely looking birdbath or a cute novelty birdbath to make our gardens look gorgeous while assisting the birds. You can find beautiful examples here Reviewing Basalt Birdbaths 

In addition to beautiful birdbaths, I  also use plastic saucers on the ground on our patio to help the smaller birds like these gorgeous sparrows in my garden. I know other wildlife like hedgehogs and squirrels visit the water as well. 

 

Sparrows Bathing by Raintree Annie

One of the main pleasures to us of having a birdbath is to watch and photograph the gorgeous, beautiful, fascinating birds every day from the comfort of our own home.

I like a variety of birdbaths around the garden and so we have several beautiful birdbaths and these ordinary saucers placed around the garden so that the birds do not have to compete for water and bathing rights! 



4.Leave An Area Of Long Grass 

This is an easy one to fulfill if you have a garden with a lawn. Simply designate one area of the lawn and do not mow it all. 

Rather than taking action to help wildlife, this one is all about inaction! Do nothing and wait and see what happens to that small patch of long grass.

It will be interesting to see if you grow any wildflowers or clover. See how liberating it can be to grow daisies and dandelions and how insects love them! Watch out to see if your long grass attracts bees, butterflies or hoverflies. 

It's easy, free and a very simple way to help wildlife especially insects. It does not need to be a big area, just what you feel you can allow to grow a little wild.  

If you do want to take it a step further and grow some wildflower seeds, you will need to take up some of your grass as grass will generally out-compete the wildflower seeds. 

Simply strip the grass away, rake the soil into fine tilth, sow the seeds according to the seed packet and wait for them to grow. The only work you will need to do then is to cut back the wildflowers in autumn.


5. Grow A Window Box For Wildlife

We do not all have big gardens and lawns and may wonder what can we do to help wildlife when we live in a flat or apartment or a house with a hard landscaped yard.

However, if we have a balcony, room for a hanging basket, a window box or a small patio area for pots we can undoubtedly attract and help wildlife. For more ideas on how to attract wildlife in a smaller space, please see Can You Attract Wildlife If You Only Have A Patio Garden Or Window Box

It is amazing how butterflies, bees, lacewings, hoverflies and ladybugs will find their way to your window box given the right flowers and conditions. 

 Depending on where you live you may need to protect the container in winter. If you are gardening on a balcony, always bear in mind the weight of any containers when filled with soil and plants does not exceed what the structure can take. 

A simple container is all we need. You can fill your window box with flowers both perennial and annual or decide to grow vegetables, it is up to you. 

Some flowers are better for wildlife than others, but really as long as the plants have some flowers the insects and bees will find them. 

Flowers I have found successful in window boxes and hanging baskets and troughs include bright cheerful Marigolds along with Nasturtiums and evergreen Ivy for trailing. Verbena, Fuchsia in a bigger pot and Heather are lovely. 

You do need to give Heather acid or ericaceous soil so it will need to be mixed with other acid-tolerant flowers. I also like to put in a few dwarf yellow daffodil bulbs to cheer up the containers.

If you like you can grow wildflowers in a pot and I have done this for several years. You do just need to make sure that the soil is very poor as wildflowers, in general, need poor soil. I use old compost and lots of grit in my wildflower containers. Bees and all manner of insects adore these wildflower pots! 

I love to grow herbs such as Rosemary and Lavender and Chives do well also in containers. I would give most herbs a try in pots. Good for us to eat and great for wildlife. Bees seem to always love my Chives!



Your container can easily look good for you and be good for wildlife. You will want some evergreens like Rosemary or Heather there and other summer flowering perennial and annual flowers for interest and nectar for as long as possible.

For ideas on making a healthy balcony garden please see Totally Natural Healthy Ways to Increase Your Garden's Growth - A Garden Review


 


6.Give Nature A Home 

One lovely way to attract and help wildlife is to give them a home to live in and raise young. Whether it is a Bird Box, a Bee House, Insect House or a home for hedgehogs it is possible for everyone with any outdoor space, however small to contribute. Here is an idea for a lovely Birdhouse For Eastern Bluebirds 

Over the years many habitats that our birds and insects require to live and breed have been lost. Houses are built without space for birds to nest, grass that is artificial is useless for wildlife and there are fewer places left for bees and bugs to live, hibernate and breed. 

However, if we all do a little we can help to reverse this and give our valuable wildlife a home. 


 


If you love nature and know adults and children who would like to do more for wildlife you may wish to buy nature-related gifts for Birthdays, housewarmings and special events this coming year. For ideas please see Wildlife Gift Ideas Reviewed






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Monday, December 28, 2020

Book Review: Craving London by Jessica Stone

When I read Jessica's introduction I immediately thought of the infamous "You Had Me At Hello..." scene in Jerry Maguire. Why? And how does Tom Cruise and Rene Zellweger relate to this book? Because my immediate thought after reading the introduction to Craving London was "You Had Me At the Introduction..."

What a great way to begin the journey into Jessica Stone's Craving London! A delightful romantic memoir of Jessica moving from New York to London with no predefined plan and the intertwining of discovering London through its' food, culture and of course romance. 

This book is a memoir of the journey of love, life and alot of laughs in a new country. Easy to summarize in a sentence, but not so easy to navigate as reality.  Admire her guts and tenacity navigating London without a safety net and then add her Cuban heritage and a dash of Paris for a full menu of diverse stories and recipes all can enjoy.

Foodies And The Recipes

Craving London is not a cookbook. But with delight for all foodies are recipes sprinkled throughout the book cohesively interwoven with Jessica's love affair with London. 

I love old school tried and true recipes. Each recipe has a backstory which are part of the charm; however, even more charming is that the recipes are for cooks. Not chefs, not fancy ingredients one cannot find or afford, but recipes across the food spectrum you will immediately say, "I can make that." Or more importantly, "I can't wait to make that!" Which brings us to my favorite chapter title...

Who Moved My Grilled Cheese?

This is a chapter after my own love affair with grilled cheese sandwiches. It's rare for me to meet a grilled cheese sandwich I do not like. While Jessica trained in patisserie at Le Cordon Bleu,  I appreciate her sharing the recipes throughout her London travels and trust me, this is a grilled cheese recipe you will want to try. 

The Ending?

Does Jessica find love? Is there a happy ending? Of course I cannot spoil the journey, but just as authentic is Jessica's life journey, the ending of this book is just as authentic.

Recommendation

I highly recommend Craving London. If you are a fan of memoirs with a sense of humor, recipes with a sense of purpose and navigating the twists and turns of romance then this is a book for you. If you have ever thought, dreamed, considered or are on the fence about changing up your life without knowing exactly where you will land enjoy the trials and tribulations of Jessica's journey from the comfort of your home - laugh, live, love vicariously through her journey while you are considering your own.

I received this book from the Publisher in exchange for an unbiased review.





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Sunday, December 27, 2020

What is Faith? As Seen Through a Personal Life Journey

What is Faith? As Seen Through a Life Review

Challenges, endless challenges, or so it seems. Then without warning, there it is, light.

This article isn't meant to be preachy. My life is as imperfect as everyone else's. What's different now is the feeling that my soul is on track, on the right road to home. It doesn't mean life is always easy, although I'll take that if it happens, only that living in the light helps to make sense of it all. I actually wrote a video poem about that very thing; Living in Light.

My family's challenges and what I've had to witness as a mother, wife, daughter, and friend should have broken me. When I reflect back, I see clearly, that instead, it made me. 

Each of us has our own bridge to peace, to inner calm. What I've learned along the way is that faith means many things throughout life.

FAITH - The Long Road Home - What is Faith? 

  • Faith is the belief that, in the end, everything WILL be ok: I believe that to the core of my being, I know this to be the absolute truth as sure as I breathe.
  • Faith is losing it all and having to start over again, and you do.
  • Faith is holding on when your heart has been torn to shreds, and you realize, even with that terrible pain, you've kept the most sacred thing you have safe in your heart. Love. You still love, you still can love. That horrible pain didn't steal anything from you - you discovered it couldn't.
  • Faith is being able to let go and forgive when you've been betrayed and disrespected. You're still able to look beyond your own pain and assess the situation from the other person's perspective and flaws. You don't forgive for brownie-points; you do so because it's the only road to peace for all parties concerned. You hold on to the faith that the person who hurt you will grow, for their own betterment, not for yours. Whether they do or not, you love them anyway.
  • Faith is a thousand prayers you've repeated in your heart and mind for your children. You watch them grow, and your heart fills with incredible worry for them until faith steps in to remind you that 'in the end, everything WILL be ok.'
  • Faith is watching someone you love step back from the edge of addiction, and save themselves. The hardest thing in the world is bearing witness to something you have no control over. Along with a shoulder and helping hand, the only thing you ultimately can have is faith.
  • Faith is watching your child drive away into their future endeavors. Your heart goes with them, and faith keeps you strong.
  • Faith is working your way through a life long disease and still believing that 'everything will be ok.'
  • Faith is when your children, even as adults, deal with sickness, and you still find faith, even through helplessness and tears.
  • Faith is watching your friends battle cancer. Knowing you can't take away their pain, you pray, and you keep the faith for them.
  • Faith is creating something, never knowing if anything will come of it, but you do it anyway.
  • Faith is seeing your father's face in the casket and knowing, within the depths of your being, that he isn't in there. That his body was truly a temporary home. That he is standing beside you as you cry. That he hasn't left. Faith is the gift of total understanding that we live on. My father sealed that faith. I was raised with the belief in an afterlife and always had that belief. However, when I saw my dad's face in his casket, it was as though a bright light of knowledge filled my heart. I knew for certain that he was still here, that his body was just that, a body. His soul was still very much alive. I felt it. I still feel it.
  • Faith is holding on so tight to your mother as she ages and lives without your dad. Your heart belongs to her in a way that nobody can truly understand. It's personal between you and her, and you love her so much that the only thing that erases worry is prayer and faith. I wrote this for mom a long time ago, and it's still how I feel.
  • Faith is losing your parents' wedding rings that were gifted to you and praying so hard for their return: Then five months later, you're in your mother's room changing her bedsheets, asking that when you go back into your own room to "please let me find those rings." You know they can't possibly be there because you and your brother lifted that mattress right up and off the bed months ago, and nothing was there. Plus, you searched your room for months only to conclude that there is no way on God's green earth they can be there. However, because of faith, you prayed again the day you were changing those sheets. You didn't expect to find the rings, but you prayed anyway. When you got to your room, you peeked under one side of the bed's mattress, laughed to yourself, and nope, they weren't there. You were about to leave the room, and something compelled you to lift the mattress again on the other side of the bed. You were expecting nothing, but a miracle was delivered, and yes, both those rings were laying neatly just under the top mattress, one slightly overlapping the other!! You gasped! Almost fainted! You were gifted another powerful moment to keep in your heart for life. This is a moment in my life I'll never ever forget. I'm still shocked by it!
Every time I begin to lose faith, I remember my parent's rings miraculously showing up under my mattress. I didn't expect that prayer to be answered in such a magical way. What an amazing gift that was. Finding those rings is my 'Faith-Reminder.' Every single time I begin to stress or worry about something - my parent's rings appear to me. As the lyrics in the beautiful song below say, "you will find your way if you keep believing, I've seen miracles just happen, silent prayers get answered, broken hearts become brand new - that's what faith can do." If you're viewing via mobile, the video is here.


I've learned that faith is something that needs to be nurtured; to feed our soul, just as we feed our body. 

For 2021 I'm holding onto faith that humanity will find its way back into balance; body, mind, and spirit. If all of humanity is too big of a goal, I hope my friends and family can find or maintain that balance. 

"We Will Have Morning Smiles" - 50 Years of Poetry by Me - Available on Amazon.





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Saturday, December 26, 2020

Reviewing A Splendid Ruin by Megan Chance

 If you embrace the saying, revenge is a dish best served cold then you will love this historical novel by Megan Chance.

A Recommended Read

Although this author has many titles to her name this is the first novel of hers I have read and I loved it.   The novel is divided into 3 parts.   The first part introduces us to May Kimble who has been living in Brooklyn, New York until after her mother's death.   She receives a letter from her mother's sister of whom she had no idea even existed and is welcomed into the arms of her newfound family in San Francisco in 1904.

She has lots of questions, but receives no answers to them and is unfortunately too naive to realise that she is being manipulated.   She suspects things are amiss, but doesn't act on her instincts or her laudanum addled aunt's ravings at her to go home.

Part one culminates in the death of her aunt and the ultimate betrayal from her family and May realises just how she's been played.

Part two is terrifying as May learns how to survive in a place that her mother hadn't even thought to prepare her for.   She learns her lessons quickly and uses her knowledge to improve her conditions while thinking of her revenge.   Why do I call it terrifying?  It's certainly not a scary, horror book, but it's terrifying as to how easy it was in 1904 for this to happen and it's something that I have read about in other historical books and novels alike.

Part Three is called Retribution and begins on April 18th, 1906.  For any American history buffs out there you may recall that this is the date of the great San Francisco earthquake.   The earthquake gives May a chance to escape where she was and she takes advantage of that.

May proves to be very resourceful and brave.  You really see how she has grown since arriving in California.   She plots her revenge and also falls in love (well, I believe the seeds for falling in love were planted in part one, but now she is ready).

The ultimate revenge doesn't come in the way that May and her paramour planned, but was the perfect moment and absolutely embodied the saying, revenge is a dish best served cold.

I really enjoyed this historical novel and a little glimpse into San Francisco's turn of the century society and also how the earthquake was dealt with by the people on the ground - the author portrayed the confusion that would have been about really well.

I recommend this read for anyone that enjoys historical fiction with a strong heroine (although she was frustratingly naive in the first part, she certainly grew into a strong heroine).  I will certainly be reading other books from this author.

This book was available as part of Amazon Prime - I love Amazon Prime as not only does it have Kindle books, it has a number of television series that I enjoy on it and also gives me free shipping when I purchase anything - find out more about it here.

It is also available as part of Kindle Unlimited which is great if you enjoy reading, I started with a free trial and am now in my second month of it.   Definitely worth the free trial, especially over these holidays when there aren't as many get together as usual - more time for reading!




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