Category Archives: reviews

CD Review: Birdsong of the Northwoods

CD Review: Birdsong of the Northwoods


Birdsong of the Northwoods is a CD of natural sounds without music. Like the title says, it features birds that are common in the northwoods, including Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, New York, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island. It is one continuing track progressing throughout the day, featuring birds not only in the woods but by a stream, in the rain, and as a thunderstorm approaches. As it gets toward night, there are crickets, frogs, loons, and owls. This is very relaxing and great to listen to any time of day. The only improvement I would make is to make the CD several different tracks so you could easily skip to the track you would like. I think that they are thinking that it would be more natural sounding to have it all in one continuous track, but the CD is an hour long, and it would be easier to skip around with different tracks. This only cost me about $10 so I think I got a really good deal on this.

species featured: Red-winged Blackbird, Eastern Bluebird, Northern Cardinal, Black-capped Chickadee, Brown-headed Cowbird, Mourning Dove, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Common Loon, White-breasted Nuthatch, Baltimore Oriole, Barred Owl, Common Raven, American Robin, Chipping Sparrow, Field Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Scarlet Tanager, Hermit Thrush, Whip-poor-will, Hairy Woodpecker, Eastern Chipmunk, Green Frog, Western Chorus Frog, Spring Peeper, American Toad, Green Treefrog, Crickets.

published by Adventure Publications,2005


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Book Review: 400 Knitting Stitches

Book Review: 400 Knitting Stitches, editors at Potter Craft


This is a book I have been using for a few years to help me come up with ideas for stitch patterns. It is really good for knitting scarves or coasters, because you can just choose the stitch pattern or patterns that you like, combining them however you like, and then you will be able to design your scarf. The book is organized according to different categories, such as Knit Purl stitches, Crossed stitches and Cables, Slipped stitches, Lacy stitches, Double stitches, Twisted stitches, Cast-off stitches, and Fancy stitches. One of the things I like about this book is it has the instructions both written out and in a chart. I don’t read charts quite as well as written instructions, but it doesn’t matter because there is a handy guide to all the symbols in the back of the book. There is also a basic guide to knitting in the front, but if you are new to knitting you might want to get something more in-depth. There are actually a lot of challenging stitches in here, but there are many that are fairly easy as well. The pictures are very clear and the examples are knitted with cream color yarn that looks sport weight. The only thing is I often use chunky yarn, so it would be interesting to see how these patterns would look in different yarn weights, but then maybe the book would be too long. The only real drawback to the book is that it doesn’t really have a lay flat binding. Also the cable section is really long, at almost a hundred pages. But maybe if you are really into doing cables, this would be a good thing. One interesting thing about this book is that it was originally published in France.

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CD Review: Madeleine Peyroux

CD Review: Madeleine Peyroux, Careless Love, 2004


Careless Love is an album of jazz songs, mainly ballads. Madeleine has a soft and rather unique sounding voice, and also plays acoustic guitar on this album. There are a lot of different musicians on here, playing piano, organ, guitar, celeste, and trumpet, among others. Even though there is only one song sung in French (“J’ai Deux Amours”, which I believe means “I have two loves”), the album still has a French feel for me, somehow. There is a kind of wistful and sometimes hopeful sound to a lot of the songs that I really like. Some of my favorite songs are “Don’t Cry Baby”, “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go”, “No More”, “Lonesome Road”, “J’ai Deux Amours”, “I’ll Look Around”, and “This Is Heaven To Me”. On the inside liner notes it says: “Dedicated to poets, writers of these songs, memorable people of memorable times such as these, wherever you are…”

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CD Review: Springtime in Paris

CD Review: Springtime in Paris

Springtime in Paris is a CD put out by Hallmark and Somerset Entertainment. It is a CD of French songs, but no singing. The sounds of accordion and violin are quite prominent on this CD. The other instruments include guitar, bass, and piano. This collection includes well-known songs like “Moulin Rouge” and “La Vie en Rose”, but also includes lesser known songs such as “Aubade d’oiseaux”( “aubade” has to do with a daybreak song, and “d’oiseaux” means “of the birds”, so taken together it probably means something like “Daybreak Birdsong”), and “Sous le Ciel de Paris”(literally, “Under the Sky of Paris”, or “Under the Paris Sky”). This music is really relaxing, and I wound up liking the accordion more than I thought I would. I studied French for a few years when I was younger, so I was glad I could find this collection. The only thing is, I would like it if there was singing on at least a few of the songs, with lyrics printed in both English and French.

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Book Review: Ballet Basics

ballet basics book cover

Ballet Basics


Ballet Basics

by Sandra Noll Hammond


National Dance Week is April 22 – May 1

Ballet Basics was the book that was used for my college ballet class. It is similar to Jump into Jazz, the book I just reviewed, in terms of how it is organized. I have the fifth edition (2004), but there is probably something more recent by now.

Chapter 1: The Ballet Class – This chapter goes into all the different things a beginner would need to know, such as attire, music, posture, shoes, and the structure of the class.

Chapter 2: Ballet Technique: Barre Work – Barre exercises for the beginner are explained, with illustrations.

Chapter 3: Ballet Technique: Center Work – Ballet exercises away from the barre, (in the center of the room) are explained, including port de bras (carriage of the arms), arabesque (balancing poses where the leg is extended behind), connecting movements, and pirouettes and other turns.

Chapter 4: Ballet Technique: Allegro – Allegro is an Italian word that means fast and lively. In ballet, it applies to both quick little jumps (petite allegro) or larger jumps (grand allegro) that may look fairly simple but can be quite challenging to do well.

Chapter 5: The Ballet Body – Information on different types of exercise that complement ballet, injury prevention, and nutrition.

Chapter 6: The Ballet Profession – Information on performance, and opportunities for a career in dance.

Chapter 7: Ballet History – This is a very detailed chapter that traces the roots of ballet from the middle ages to the present time. I used this chapter as a basis for a research paper I wrote for my college dance appreciation class.

There are illustrations throughout of both male and female dancers, and the book is specifically designed for adult students


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Book Review: Jump into Jazz

Jump into Jazz book cover

Jump into Jazz

Jump into Jazz

by Minda Goodman Kraines

and Esther Pryor

National Dance Week is April 22-May 1


Jump into Jazz is the jazz dance textbook that I had in college. It is appropriate for beginner through intermediate. I have the fourth edition which is copyright 2001. I’m sure they have something more recent now. This book is divided into twelve chapters that cover pretty much anything that you would want to know.

Chapter 1: Basic attire, shoes, types of jazz dance, how to have a successful class.

Chapter 2: Basic body alignment

Chapter 3: Ballet exercises for jazz dancers. Although it’s not required at the recreational level, a lot of jazz dancers take an additional ballet class, as it’s very good for body alignment and can also be relaxing and promote awareness of different muscle groups. A lot of the time a jazz dance teacher will incorporate ballet exercises into the class, but they may practice them in parallel position instead of turned out.

Chapter 4, 5,6: Basic positions, warm-ups, basic jazz steps.

Chapter 7: More advanced steps.

Chapter 8: Information on musicality, staging, performing.

Chapter 9, 10: Fitness, injury prevention, and nutrition.

Chapter 11: Different jobs in the dance field.

Chapter 12: One of the most interesting chapters, a history of jazz dance.

All in all, this is a really well thought out book, one that you can keep for years. It has nice illustrations of both male and female dancers, and some photos of dancers performing as well.



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Organic Peachy Green Tea Review

I recently came across a new tea by Tazo called Organic Peachy Green.

It is a blend of green and black tea, with the flavor of peach and cucumber.  It has a very nice, smooth flavor and a wonderful peachy aroma.

Ingredients:  Organic Darjeeling Green and Organic Black Teas, Natural flavors of Cucumber and Peach


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