Thursday, November 12, 2015

Express Your Feelings With A Gift Of Willow Tree Collectibles

I was recently asked to share this article about Willow Tree Collectibles.  I had never heard of them, but after reading the information, I was eager to check them out.  Then, this evening Jeffrey and I attended an awards gala for Community Shining Star Award Finalists here in town. One of the finalists was sitting at our table, and she was given one of these figurines, appropriately called Shine.

It always amazes me how I can be completely unaware of something, and then when I find out about it - in this case these figurines - I'm suddenly seeing them everywhere.  Well, not everywhere, but what are the odds that I would just learn about them last week and then see someone receive one as a gift this week?

If, like me, you would like to learn more about Willow Tree Collectibles, read on:
If you're searching for a special gift that will really express your feelings, Willow Tree figures from the Demdaco Willow Tree collection could be the perfect choice.

Willow Tree figurines are unique collectibles that portray all of life's most touching moments, from the blissful arrival of a new baby to the happy excitement of holidays, birthdays, engagements, weddings, and anniversaries. They're a beautiful way to mark and remember special days in the lives of people you love.

But the Willow Tree collection goes beyond events and actually celebrates the deeply personal joy of relationships as well. The caring that holds families and friends together comes to life in these collectibles. They're the ideal way to tell someone "I love you" or let them know what they mean to you and how much you appreciate their presence in your life.

The Willow Tree collection is the creation of artist Susan Lordi, who uses her own friends and family for models as she painstakingly sculpts the original for each and every figurine. One of the things that makes this collection so unique is that while the figures are realistic and beautifully detailed, they're carefully crafted to be anonymous. Lordi says this makes it possible for everyone to see themselves and their loved ones in her art, so every figurine is truly personalized by the feelings of the giver and the receiver.

The figures have a lovely natural grace that makes them feel alive, and the way each figure is posed really expresses feelings in a way that's beyond words. The emotion behind each figure, whether it's love, joy, tenderness, or just the close connection you feel with someone special, comes through clearly.

Lordi's original sculptures are used as a pattern for the collectible figurines, which are cast in resin and hand-painted in warm, soft colors. The figures are delicate but durable, and are small enough to fit on a shelf, desk or table where they can be a constant reminder of that special day or relationship. The collection is affordably priced, so each figure is a luxury gift that's within anyone's budget.

The Willow Tree collection is available online at sites like Coppin's Gifts or at select retail stores.

Kind of neat, huh?

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Review: The Dog That Saved Stewart Coolidge

I just finished reading The Dog That Saved Stewart Coolidge.  I admit, I picked the book because the dog on the cover is quite cute, and the description sounded really interesting.

About the Book: (from Amazon)
A light-hearted love story about a young couple brought together by a four-legged bandit.

When a stray dog helps himself to a bone from a display in the supermarket, he doesn't know his actions will brand him a criminal and spark a romance between two humans. Stewart Coolidge works as a bag boy at the store, and his outraged boss offers a reward and demands Stewart catch the thieving animal. He fails at that, but now he finally has the perfect excuse to talk to his cute neighbor, Lisa.

Lisa has always dreamed of being a journalist and asks Stewart if she can interview him for the local paper. As she gets to know Stewart, she likes him more and more, and she's delighted to learn he shares her Christian faith. Stewart can't bring himself to tell her she's mistaken, that he's not religious at all. And that's not Stewart's only deception. When the dog shows up on the doorstep of their building, Stewart decides to harbor the furry fugitive. But this is no ordinary dog, he has a divine sense of how things should be--and recognizing how much Stewart needs Lisa, he decides to do all he can to bring them together.
While this book was OK and a fairly quick and simple read, I don't feel that it lived up to its description.  Things happened - the dog stole from the local grocery store (repeatedly) and Stewart took the dog in (instead of catching him and turning him over to the authorities), and then Stewart finally got to know the cute girl downstairs in the process.  It all sounds good, but it really didn't feel believable or that Point A really led to Point B.  The story just doesn't seem to carry itself, and I wasn't convinced.  I'm not sure that really makes sense, so obviously Jim Kraus is a better writer than I am, but I just don't think his writing is for me.

He's written several other books, several of them featuring animals used by God.  If you've read any of his other books and enjoyed them, I'm sure you'll like this one too, judging by the Amazon reviews.  I'd give this 3 stars.  I definitely didn't hate it, but it wasn't one of those books I'm going to be raving about or wanting to read again.  (So many books, so little time, and I don't even have time to read the entire list of books I really really want to read again.)

I received The Dog That Saved Stewart Coolidge for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Oh, November!

These past few days have been absolutely glorious.  Sunshine and 70s in November mean only one thing - get outside and enjoy it!

I spent Monday afternoon raking leaves, not that you would know it now because that same part of the yard is again covered in leaves.  But that doesn't really matter.  I got to be outside.  In the sunshine.  In November.  I'll take it.

Bright leaves and brilliant blue skies.  It would have been a shame to stay inside all day.  I filled up both trash toters and two paper leaf bags and set them out by the street to be picked up Tuesday morning.  Of course, then on Tuesday morning I read something on Facebook that said there are scientific reasons for not raking your leaves.  Oh well.  I may keep that in mind, in case the weather isn't so nice next time the leaves need raked...

There are still a few leaves left on the tree, and they'll end up on the ground soon enough.  Along with those that have already fallen.  After I raked on Monday.

I got outside for a bit Tuesday and today, too.  Because I had to.  I told Jeffrey he should play hooky from work this afternoon and we should go for a ride on the motorcycle, but he couldn't.  Unfortunately.  I almost went walking again just to get out, but I ended up working in the garden instead pulling out the old bean plants and the lettuce that went to seed and dried up.  It will be interesting to see how much lettuce comes up in the spring.  There are still a few peppers on the plants and quite a few tomatoes so those plants will stay until the weather changes drastically.  Which it will.  They (the weathermen) keep saying it will.  We can all choose to ignore that, right?

What did you do with this amazing November weather?

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Magnetic Copper Bracelet from Earth Therapy

I've been wearing this Pure Copper Magnetic Bracelet pretty much all the time for a couple of months now.  I've heard good things about the benefits of copper and magnets - being an Effective Natural, Non Invasive, Pain Relief Aid for Arthritis, RSI, Carpal Tunnel, Migraines, and Fatigue.  This bracelet combines the two, being made from the Best Quality Solid Copper and including 6 Powerful Therapeutic Magnets, along with being sleek and stylish.

This bracelet is a medium Size (6.5") and adjusts to fit most sized wrists.  I have quite small wrists, so I have to squeeze it together until the ends almost meet.  It then fits securely with the magnets against my wrist, but it is loose enough to push up my arm when I'm trying to work.  I usually only take it off when I go out in the sun, since it's been summer, so I don't have a copper-bracelet-sized line on my arm.  And then I put it on again.  So far it seems to be holding up really well with all the squeezing and loosening of putting it on and taking it off.

I can't say for certain what the benefits of wearing this bracelet have been, but I have had some pain in my right shoulder for a while now.  I was trying to help Jeffrey carry parts of The Coolest Garden Ever, which he built in front of the house, and then they had to be carried to the back yard, and I ended up hurting my shoulder.  Thankfully a very nice young man lives next door, and he helped Jeffrey carry the majority of the garden sides to the back yard.  Anyway, my shoulder does still bother me occasionally, but I have noticed that it's usually on those evenings when I have taken the bracelet off and not yet put it back on.  So, I'm going to believe that it's helping, and I would certainly rather use something natural like this than even think about pain killers or drugs or anything like that.

I noticed that several reviewers (on Amazon) mentioned that the magnets in their bracelets fell out after just a few days, but like I said, I've been wearing this for a couple months, and I haven't had any problem with the magnets.  They're all right where they belong.  The bracelet is starting to look a little scratched up, because I do wear it all the time.  While I like the smooth look of this particular style, I think I'd go for one with a braided or designed look, like this Mens Heavyweight Pure Copper Magnetic Bracelet (which I really wanted to order, but I knew it would be too big for my wrist), if I were to order another one.  I think that would hide the wear better.

The bracelet comes with the Magnetic Therapy eBook "Heal Your Pain Through Magnetic Therapy" by Dr Tulsi Dabhi along with a RISK FREE. 60 Day Earth Therapy Full Satisfaction Money Back Guarantee and a 1 Year Product Warranty.  There are several other styles and sizes available.  Be sure to scroll down to the Special Offers and Promotions section to see how you can save when you buy two or more Earth Therapy products.

Disclosure: I received a Magnetic Copper Bracelet from Earth Therapy in exchange for my review.  All opinions are 100% mine.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Review: We Love Disney

Thanks to One2One Network (#O2O) I've been able to listen to the new #WeLoveDisney CD the last few days. The album features the hottest artists from across the pop, rock, R&B, and country worlds delivering their own unique interpretations of classic Disney songs.

These were all (mostly) songs I was familiar with, and I really liked hearing them re-imagined.  I was not familiar with most of the artists featured on this album, but after listening to We Love Disney, I am ready to check some of them out and see what the rest of their music sounds like.  I am really enjoying the vocals on this.

The album starts off with the suave, big band feel of Friend Like Me, which I absolutely loved.  Check out the video on YouTube; I think you'll like it too.  I looked up several of the original songs from the Disney movies on YouTube, just to compare them to the ones on this album - Friend Like Me, I Wanna Be Like You, and Everybody Wants to Be a Cat, to name a few.  I feel like all the songs stay true to the originals while being something entirely updated and new at the same time.

I'm liking the Rascal Flatts and Lucy Hale version of Let It Go better than the original.  Also, even though I usually consider It's a Small World one of the most annoying songs on the planet, probably because of having to ride the ride over and over and over with my children, I almost like it on this album.  They did a very nice job.

The We Love Disney track list:
1. NE-YO Friend Like Me (Aladdin)
2. Jessie J Part of Your World (The Little Mermaid)
3. Jason Derulo Can You Feel the Love Tonight / Nants Ingonyama (The Lion King)
4. Gwen Stefani The Rainbow Connection (The Muppet Movie)
5. Ariana Grande Zero To Hero (Hercules)
6. Jhené Aiko In a World of My Own/Very Good Advice (Alice in Wonderland)
7. Fall Out Boy I Wanna Be Like You (The Monkey Song) (The Jungle Book)
8. Tori Kelly Colors of the Wind (Pocahontas)
9. Kacey Musgraves A Spoonful of Sugar (Mary Poppins)
10. Charles Perry Evrybody Wants To Be a Cat (The Aristocats)
11. Jessie Ware A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes (Cinderella)
12. Lucy Hale & Rascal Flatts Let It Go (Frozen)
13. Various Artists It's a Small World
Deluxe Version will include two extra tracks:
Brenna Whitaker It’s Not Easy Being Green (The Muppet Show)
Yuna A Whole New World (Aladdin)

We Love Disney will be available October 30th and  can be pre-ordered now on  iTunes and Amazon.
For more information, visit the Official We Love Disney website.

I participated in the We Love Disney album review program as a member of One2One Network. I was provided an album to review but all opinions are my own.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Review: Harry Connick Jr. - That Would Be Me

I have enjoyed Harry Connick Jr's music for quite a while now, so I was very excited to see that he has a new CD coming out - tomorrow! October 23, 2015.  I was even more excited when I was given the chance to listen to it early through One2One Network.

On That Would Be Me, Connick threw himself out of his comfort zone and into the studio with two ‘external’ producers, Eg White (Sam Smith, Adele, Florence And The Machine) and Butch Walker (Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Pink, Weezer, Fall Out Boy). The album was recorded in London with White and Nashville with Walker, and the result is a carefully crafted record full of surprises and stirring musical conjurations, delivering 11 new songs and new insights into his artistry.

So far I've listened to That Would Be Me twice, and loved everything about it.  That Would Be Me is a very upbeat and fun album, and I had a hard time sitting still through it.  If I hadn't been on my computer listening...  Body parts were definitely moving.  Currently my favorite songs, if I had to pick some, are (I Think I) Love You A Little Bit and "the sultry/funky damn-near-‘70’s sounding" Songwriter. I'm also liking Right Where It Hurts.

Here are a couple snippets of the lyrics I really liked:
you put your smile right where my self control was s'pposed to be
the last thing I expected
you caught me by surprise
everything was fine until I looked into your eyes

I've been burned before but you sure got my fire lit
I think I love you a little bit

That Would Be Me is available everywhere October 23, 2015.  You can grab your copy on iTunes or Amazon.  You'll want to be listening to this one.  For more information, be sure and visit the Official Harry Connick Jr. website and his facebook page.

Track Listing:
  1. (I Like It When You) Smile
  2. (I Do) Like We Do
  3. Tryin' To Matter
  4. Songwriter
  5. Do You Really Need Her
  6. You Don t Need A Man
  7. You Have No Idea
  8. Where Prisoners Drown
  9. (I Think I) Love You A Little Bit
  10. Every Time I Fall In Love
  11. Right Where It Hurts

I participated in the That Would Be Me album review program as a member of One2One Network. I was provided an album to review but all opinions are my own. #ThatWouldBeMe #O2O

Thursday, October 15, 2015

What You Need to Know About Flood Maps

FEMA is about to revise its flood maps, and this might mean physical or financial changes for your family if you live near a body of water. The good news is that the changes aren't necessarily bad. If you'd like to learn more about flood maps, here's some basic information.
  1. Flood maps refer to geographic locations where there's a risk of flooding. FEMA has released many over the years, with the latest revisions coming out in 2013 and the newest expected to come out this fall.
  2. Base Flood Elevations (BFEs) are expected to increase across the entire country. BFEs refer to the amount of water expected to rise during a flooding situation. Each state has its own BFE, and your state's might be affected by everything from your number of lakes to your annual level of precipitation.
  3. A Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) is an area particularly vulnerable to flooding; this may be because of rain, storms, river flows or just low ground elevation.
  4. If your home is decreed to be in a SFHA, this could raise your homeowners insurance or even require you to purchase flood insurance specifically. Your property value might also decrease because of the stigma or the inconvenience to new buyers.
  5. A silver lining of SFHAs: Sometimes homes are added to them by accident. If you think your house doesn't belong in a hazard area, contact a flood insurance company and ask about a Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA). This amendment will take you out of the SFHA and release you from all its expenses and obligations.
  6. If your home does belong in a SFHA, you still don't have to fret right away. There might be steps you can take to protect your property from floods and therefore exempt yourself from some of the worst SFHA regulations. Again, contact a flood insurance company to figure out your options.
  7. Though flood maps may seem like a hassle, it's important to remember that they save lives. Even if you find yourself inconvenienced by a flood map, there's a reason they exist.
These are just a few things you may or may not have known about flood maps. As you can see, there's a lot to parse about them, so don't get discouraged if you need additional research to figure it out. Simply check out sites like Flood Zone Mitigations ( to learn more.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Review: Andrea Bocelli's Cinema

Andrea Bocelli is the biggest selling living classical music artist. His albums have sold over 80 million copies! Andrea even recently sang for Pope Francis on his trip to the U.S.

I'm not sure where I've been, but I have not been listening to any of Andrea Bocelli's music.  Until now.  Thanks to One2One Network, I have had a chance to listen to his new album Cinema.  The album, Bocelli's first new studio recording in two years, will be released on October 23 by Verve Records.  It includes a collection of interpretations of songs from classic movies like West Side Story, The Godfather and Gladiator.

Bocelli said the following:
With the album Cinema, I’m fulfilling a wish that I’ve harboured for decades. I’ve never made a secret of my dream of bringing to life a recording project associated with soundtracks, as I truly believe that it’s an exceptional artistic treasure trove.

It’s an area that has always fascinated me: the scores written for films are very free and potentially very creative. A vast grassland where the composer can roam as he pleases, whatever his inspiration, where he can experiment without having to submit to the norms of the classical song (based on the sequence requiring two strophes, one short instrumental passage, one strophe, one short instrumental passage), or to a theme that is necessarily the conventional one, relating to love.

If films are a “dream factory”, the music that supports them embraces these dreams and heightens all of the magic and emotional vitality. My invitation, my token is for these immortal “classics” to merge with the experiences, with the most precious memories, with the emotions of every listener, to become the inimitable soundtrack to their life.
True to his status as a truly international artist, Andrea has recorded songs in five different languages (Italian, French, Spanish, English and Sicilian) and has partnered with global superstar Ariana Grande on the heart wrenching duet E Piu Ti Penso from Once Upon A Time in America/ Malena and Nicole Scherzinger on the epic musical anthem Don’t Cry For Me Argentina from Evita.

Here is the entire track listing:
  1. Maria (From West Side Story)
  2. La chanson de Lara (From Dr. Zhivago)
  3. Moon River (From Breakfast At Tiffany's)
  4. E più ti penso (From Once Upon A Time In America/Malèna) duet with Ariana Grande
  5. Be My Love (From The Toast Of New Orleans)
  6. The Music Of The Night (From The Phantom Of The Opera)
  7. Brucia la terra (From The Godfather)
  8. Por Una Cabeza (From Scent Of A Woman)
  9. No Llores Por Mi Argentina (From Evita) duet with Nicole Scherzinger
  10. L'amore è una cosa meravigliosa (From Love Is A Many-Splendored Thing)
  11. Mi mancherai (From Il Postino/The Postman)
  12. Cheek To Cheek (From Top Hat) duet with Veronica Berti
  13. Sorridi amore vai (From Life Is Beautiful/La vita è bella)
  14. Historia De Amor (From Love Story)
  15. Ol' Man River (From Showboat)
  16. Nelle tue mani (Now We Are Free) (From Gladiator)
I'm sure some of those are familiar to you, and you'll love hearing Andrea Bocelli's amazing voice on them.  I will admit that, not only have I not been familiar with Bocelli's music, but I was not familiar with many of these songs, either.  It didn't matter though.  I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the entire album.  I did enjoy the songs I was most familiar with most - Maria and The Music of the Night, to name a couple.  I'm pretty sure I'm going to come to love all of the songs on the album, the more I listen.  I'm loving the music (I'm loving the guitar on Brucia La Terra.) and especially Andrea Bocelli's voice on each and every song.  This man can seriously sing!  (I know, you probably could have told me that already)  But seriously - just WOW

Grab your own copy of Andrea Bocelli's Cinema now.  It's available for pre-order on iTunes and Amazon right now. Also be sure to look for Andrea Bocelli: Cinema, which will make its initial airing as the final presentation of PBS’ Fall Arts Festival, and is set to air nationwide across hundreds of PBS stations on November 27. The concert event will be personally arranged for Bocelli’s extraordinary voice by musical director, David Foster. I'm marking my calendar now!

Now let me get back to listening to Cinema by Andrea Bocelli.  After which, I will probably check out some more of his music on YouTube.

I participated in the Andrea Bocelli “Cinema” album review program as a member of One2One Network. I was provided an album to review but all opinions are my own.  #Cinema #O2O

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Three Important Ways to Protect Your Home From Dangerous Chemicals

Having a place to call home is one of the best feelings in life. It is important, however, to ensure that your home is safe for you and everyone who lives in it. Protecting your family and pets from dangerous chemicals which might reside in your home is a big responsibility, but one that ensures the safety of you and your home. Chemicals can enter your home through a number of avenues. Paints, kitchen appliances, cleaning products, and faulty heating devices can all bring in harmful chemicals. In order to ensure that your home environment is safe, take these three precautions to test for and eliminate dangerous chemicals.
  1. Lead
    Many homes built before 1978 were constructed with lead paint on the walls, cabinets, staircases, and other parts of the house. In the late 1970's, however, it was discovered that when the lead begins to chip, it releases dangerous chemicals into the atmosphere. These chemicals can seriously inhibit brain development in children and cause a host of other health problems. If you fear that your home may have lead paint, it is important to have it professionally tested. If there is lead in your paint, you will need to have it removed.
  2. Radon
    Radon is an invisible, radioactive gas, which is naturally occurring in the atmosphere. A leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, Radon can enter a home in a number of ways. Most commonly, it enters through the foundation of a home when radon is present in the soil. It is important to have your home tested for radon. If radon is present, the source should be identified and a radon gas mitigation system should be stalled. Companies such as SWAT specialize in venting this gas out of your home and creating a safe living environment for you and your family. 
  3. Carbon Monoxide
    Carbon monoxide is a combustion pollutant which is caused by burning materials. This dangerous gas is deadly if breathed into your body in large quantities. It can enter your home through appliances, heaters, clothes dryers, ovens, stoves, furnaces, and other common household items. It is important to have a carbon monoxide detector present in your home. This device can measure levels of the gas in your home and notify you it reaches an unsafe level. 

Sunday, October 11, 2015

What to Buy for Your Boss

Buying a gift for your boss, whether it’s for a holiday or for reaching a milestone at work, can be a difficult task.  While there are tons of different gifts out there, you need to choose based on the occasion, and the relationship you have with your boss.
Vintage Eversharp Fountain Pen and Pencil Set
Here are some tips and suggestions to help you pick out the perfect gift for your boss the next time you need one:
  • Pen Sets
    You work with your boss, so getting him or her a work related gift just makes sense, doesn’t it? One of the best work related gifts that you can get anywhere is a pen set or a fine pen.  While your boss may already have a nice pen or two, that doesn’t mean that he couldn’t use one more. Best of all, your boss will think of you every single time he uses that pen, and that could be a subconscious boon for your career. Don’t underestimate the power of a great gift for your boss when it comes to your work life!
  • Flowers
    When you buy flowers for your boss the best type are wildflowers or ones that look good in an office setting. Avoid romantic bouquets like roses and go for native flowers that offer a bright pop of color to an office. Examples include sunflowers, lilies or even small plants in pots.
  • Alcohol
    Not everybody drinks, so you'll want to first be sure that your boss does.  If he enjoys a good bottle of wine or scotch, that makes for a wonderful gift.
  • Cookie Baskets
    Everybody loves cookies, and cookie gift baskets are both personal enough to mean something and impersonal enough that you could give one to pretty much anybody. If you know your boss has a favorite cookie you should obviously pick that type of the gift basket.  If you don’t know his favorite cookie, you can get a mixed cookie gift basket that anybody will love. Even if your boss isn't the world’s biggest cookie fan he'll  enjoy taking them home and sharing with family, or may even choose to share with the entire office. 
Do you have any other gift ideas?  Feel free to share them in the comments.