Tuesday, February 28, 2017

White Vinegar For Cleaning Review

A Less Expensive Way To Clean: White Vinegar


We all have to have cleaning supplies in our homes but we do not have to always purchase the most expensive products. White vinegar has been a favorite cleaning supply in my home for years. Let me share with you some of the ways that I use this inexpensive product to do some pretty basic cleaning around the house.

You will find that it can be used in just about any room in your home to assist you in ways that you may never have even considered. I use it most in my kitchen, laundry and bathrooms but they are not the only areas where white vinegar can be your cleaning buddy.

In The Laundry Room: 

Do you ever encounter new clothes that have colors that "bleed" or run into the other colors? Fabrics sometimes do not hold the dye properly and when we wash our clothes that pretty red blouse just might make our white shirt become pink. There is an inexpensive way to stop that from occurring! The first time you wash an article that you think might not hold the dye well, wash it in cold water and use 1 cup of white vinegar in the load. The vinegar sets the dye into the fabric and it will not bleed or run onto your other clothes in the future. I recommend washing that article by itself that first time or at least with like colored items.

Many Uses In The Kitchen:

I use white vinegar in my kitchen for more than just adding to a recipe from time to time. In fact, I probably use it more for cleaning tasks than I do for cooking. There is always a 1 gallon jug under my sink for cleaning purposes. 

We are plagued with extremely hard water in my area and the lime deposits are always an issue. When I boil water for any recipe there is often a residue left in my pans. It does not wash out easily with simple soap and water. So, I pour about 1/2 cup of white vinegar into the pan and let it sit for about 5 minutes. That dissolves any lime residue and then I can successfully wash the pan as usual. 

Got a faucet that isn't giving you the pressure it once did? Or worse it has started to spray water out the side instead of streaming downwards! If you unscrew the tip of the faucet and soak it into white vinegar for about an hour, you will get rid of those little rocky minerals that have clogged the faucet tip. Rinse it off and screw back on...your pressure is back and there is no more spraying where it isn't supposed to be. 

I also like to make a solution of 1 part vinegar and 1 part warm water to use to clean my counter tops and range about once per week. They get wiped down with soapy water after every use but once a week, I like to clean them with the vinegar solution to help get a deeper clean. 

I also use that same 1 to 1 ratio for my windows around the house. I just put it into a spray bottle and spray the glass and wipe it all off with old newspaper. There are no streaks and the windows are sparkling clean. It is also good to wipe off chrome and metal fixtures in your kitchen and bathrooms.

Clogged drains:

Got a drain that is running slow or is just plain clogged? You can use those products made for unclogging but a lot of those are toxic to breath and can harm your drains and pipes. Try this instead. Pour baking soda down the drain, then pour vinegar on top of that. Let it bubble and sit for an hour or two and then rinse it down with boiling hot water. Voila! Your drain has now been unclogged. If it is a really bad clog, you may have to repeat the process. This method is much less toxic to you and better for your drains.

In The Bathroom:

I use the vinegar solution that I mentioned about to clean my sinks, showers and tubs on a regular basis. It helps to get rid of any soap scum that has built up and it helps with any lime scale that is starting to build up. 

I also use white vinegar in my toilets about once a month. Before I go to bed, I pour the vinegar into the bowl and let it sit overnight. In the morning I brush the bowl and flush. It helps break up any lime that may be forming and disinfects the bowl. 

Stains:

I use vinegar and baking soda to work on stains, also. I form a paste with the baking soda and a little vinegar. I apply the paste to the stain, let it dry and then wipe off. If it is clothing, I just wash the article and the stain is gone. I have used it on fabric on my furniture, too. In the case of furniture I just vacuum the dried paste up. It also works on carpets. Obviously with carpet or furniture you should probably test it first to make sure you don't remove the dye in the fabric. Honestly, I have never had a problem with discoloration when I use the vinegar paste method.

These are just a few ways that I use vinegar around my home. How about you? Do you have a cleaning tip using white vinegar?





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Monday, February 27, 2017

Recipes for Real People a Site Review

Recipes for Real People is a recipe and kitchen website that offers recipes and food ideas that are quick, easy, and useful for everyday meals. From Aprons to Vegetables, you will find comfort food recipes, meal ideas, and kitchen gifts for you and your family.

Why I Turn to Recipes for Real People


I can't even begin to guess the number of recipe websites on the internet. So why would I turn to Recipes for Real People?  There are several reasons I look to this site for ideas. Just this morning I woke with many things on my mind. I have household chores to do, reports to write for work, and assorted things I would like to accomplish with my own website. I have to find a way to save some time today.

After unseasonably warm days, a thunderstorm rolled through last night and brought behind it a very cold and cloudy morning. I am craving comfort food and not sure what I have in the kitchen. After having spent the past few days driving around with the Jeep top open and enjoying the warm weather, I had no reason to buy ingredients to make chili or stew. But now it is very cold outside, the furnace is on, I am under the blankets, and I am craving something warm and filling. Something like stew or chili. However, to make either of those things, I'd have to run out to the store.

Thanks to a recipe found on Recipes for Real People, I have found a meal idea and won't have to go to the grocery after all.

I should clarify that I am writing this on Sunday and it will be published on Monday. On Monday I will be back at the office, hard at work - giving my time and energy to others. So I am especially thankful for time-saving ideas that allow me to spend more time on the weekends on myself. 

Hamburger Vegetable Soup Recipe


Susan's Hamburger Vegetable Soup recipe is just the type of thing I am craving.  Her four-ingredient recipe is easy and made from ingredients that are often found in the kitchen at any given time.  I do not currently have any fresh ground beef in the fridge. But I do have ground sausage. So I will substitute the sausage for the ground beef and have a filling, warm, comfort meal and won't have to leave the apartment today!  In fact, come to think of it, I have a few different cans of soup that I could use as substitutes for the vegetable soup in Susan's recipe. Perhaps I'll add the sausage to a can of creamy chicken soup.  I don't know. I will decide later.  But I am relieved that a trip to the grocery is something I can remove from today's full to-do list.  All thanks to Recipes for Real People.


 (photo by Susan)


A few more reasons I turn to Recipes for Real People


  • Recipes for Real People is a website owned by one of our Review This! contributors - Susan Deppner
  • I trust that Susan is sharing recipes that she cooks in her own home
  • these recipes call for few ingredients that are readily available
  • quick and easy prep recipes
  • leftovers are used in the Recipes for Real People kitchen - I am a firm believer in using leftovers



  • Susan's kitchen helpers are adorable


    Related Recipe Links


    The Review This! contributors share some of their favorite recipes on this site. The variety of recipes, meals, kitchen items, and food reviews that the contributors bring is amazing. From slow cooker beans and TexMex lasagna to buttery shrimp pasta and party menus, there is something to suit everyone's tastes. To see those recipes, use the Review This! recipes tab and scroll. Our own Sylvestermouse Cynthia enjoys food, entertaining, and the holidays.  She is the owner of two food-related sites Fun Food and Cooking for the Holidays.

    Fun Food focuses on "fabulous fun food". I swear some of the ideas shown are works of art!  From bright and colorful swirls of jello to snake cakes and food castles, these recipes are as fun to look at as they are tasty to eat.




    Cooking for the Holidays is exactly as advertised - meals, desserts, and appetizers specific to holidays and entertaining. This website is elegant and offers recipes that will likely never happen in my little kitchen for one but are perfect for those who enjoy celebrations and entertaining. 









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    Sunday, February 26, 2017

    Spring Cleaning of the Soul or Soles or Both

    Creative Shoe Bench! See This & More Here
    When spring is springing we get the urge to neatly place, organize and tuck

    Things around the home that didn't bother us over the winter months, like piles of shoes and boots in the closet and the front door, start to get under our skin.

    So we spring into action.

    Typical Scenes Across the Country...

    With hands on our hips, crookedly we stand in the foyer evaluating our winter clutter, thinking ... 'how did I stand this for so long' !

    And before we know it, the itch to organize turns into a full blown rash and we're looking around the house trying to reshuffle pieces of furniture, repurpose dressers, and re-do closets.

    Freeing ourselves of the unnecessary, we start with the basics ... we bag'em and tag'em.

    We only mean to clean the house, but our soul gets spit and polished too.

    What?

    We don't plan for this to happen, in fact we never do. But year after year, without fail, we feel lighter.

    Closets Come First...

    We've jammed our closets with extra sweaters, bulky coats, mitts, hats, boots, and too many pairs of shoes. It's not right.

    We know it's not right. Guilty.

    But, during the holiday season we really did have bigger fish to fry ... Like cozying up to a warm fire. Overflowing closets somehow made the fire feel better. It's winter ... we're not all there. There's a name for our condition: Cabin Feveritis.

    But the frequent appearance of the sun along with the disappearing biting cold begins to wake us from our tolerant coma and we're ready to make tough choices ... But where do we start? ....

    We figure it out.

    To clean our soul, we start with soles.

    The stinky invaders come first.

    Ahhhh, we've lightened up just thinking about it ....

    Sorted shoes; who'da'thunk that all it took was 'sorted shoes'?

    All this time we thought life was complicated. Sole ... Soul? Well my gawd, life's greatest mystery has been solved.

    Moral of the story - clean your closets, organize your soles, and the future is yours! ... Not really, but at least your closets will look great while your soul floats.

    Don't Stop with Shoes, Here are additional Ways You Can Organize Your Life:


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    Saturday, February 25, 2017

    Easy in the Kitchen: Slow Cooker to Make Homemade Beans

    Programmable Slow Cooker
    Yes, I admit it. I have 2 slow cookers and I use them both regularly. Easy in the kitchen is my preference and I'm going to review with you how I make things easier with my slow cookers. They aren't just for making dinners anymore. There's plenty to enjoy about slow cookers.

    My two are different sizes. I have a smaller one that is a 4-quart cooker, and I have a larger programmable 6-quart size (www.kitchen-basics-small-appliances.com/programmable-slow-cookers-easy-cooking). I have made plenty of chilis, stews and soups in my slow cookers and I will continue to do so. The joy of tossing in all the ingredients, turn the thing on and come back to dinner ready to serve can't be beat. Plus, why not make enough for 2 or more dinners? That's easy in the kitchen in my book.

    Homemade Beans


    One of my favorite uses for my slow cookers is making my own homemade "cans" of beans. I was one of those people who would buy cans and try to force myself to use them. Sure beans are good for you, but I could never stomach the boring taste and slimy liquid canned beans were packed in. Discovering how to make my own beans made a world of difference.

    • Black beans
    • Chickpeas
    • Black-eyed peas
    • Pinto beans
    • Navy beans or any white bean
    I start with dried beans - so much cheaper! About 1/2 cup of dried beans will equal a standard can size of cooked beans (about 1 1/2 cups). My smaller slow cooker easily handles a cup and half of dried beans, so I make 3 "cans" of beans at a time. 

    Dried beans need to be soaked first, so I do this in my slow cooker. Usually overnight. Then drain and rinse the beans, put them back in the slower cooker, add enough water to cover the beans with about 2 inches of water on top, and cook. I set my slow cooker on high for 4 hours and the beans are cooked to perfection. If you have a programmable slow cooker, you can set it to cook the beans when it's most convenient for you. 

    Packaging Homemade Beans


    Freezing your cans of homemade beans is the easiest option.  I use half-pint mason jars which hold about 1 1/2 cups of cooked beans - the equivalent of a standard can. Remember to label them with the date as well. Frozen beans should last about 6 months. Of course, I can't ever test that out, I use my frozen beans too fast! 

    Here's an easy in the kitchen trick for you. With any frozen foods, top the food with a piece of parchment paper. That will prevent ice crystals from forming and will keep freezer burn out of your food. 

    Choosing a Slow Cooker


    If you're in the market for a slow cooker, whether your first, second or ninth, there are things to consider before you buy. The options are numerous. You'll want to think about what size you need, what features will be helpful and what your budget allows. When you have the right appliance for the right cooking needs, you will have an easier time in the kitchen. 

    So stop depending on store-bought cans of beans. Make your own. Flavor them to your own tastes and enjoy healthy and delicious homemade beans in your slow cooker. 





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    Friday, February 24, 2017

    Duck and Hippo in the Rainstorm Children's Book Review

    Duck and Hippo in the Rainstorm Children's Book Review
    Duck and Hippo in the Rainstorm Book
    Page 1
    Duck and Hippo in the Rainstorm is a delightful book for children written by Jonathan London and illustrated by Andrew Joyner.  It is the first book in a new series featuring Duck and Hippo.  Quite honestly, I look forward to reading about their next adventure together. 

    You may wonder why I chose to read a book for children, but I did have my reasons.  First, I recently purchased a Kindle Fire and I love being able to see the pictures in color now.  What better than a children's book to look at pictures, right?  Second, the book was a free choice on Kindle First* in February 2017 if your are an Amazon Prime member.  And last, but by no means least, I wanted to be able to review the book for Review This!

    The release of this book is perfect timing!  Since their day of adventure takes place in early spring, releasing the book on March 1, 2017 is consistent with the season and weather described therein. 


    Duck and Hippo in the Rainstorm 


     Duck and Hippo in the Rainstorm
    (Duck and Hippo Series Book 1)
    This really is a precious story about two unlikely friends, clearly a duck and a hippopotamus, who venture out together in the rain.  They encounter a few mishaps with just enough intrigue and suspense that a child will be enthralled without being frightened.  The illustrations help with alleviating any stress because the characters are shown smiling even in the midst of possible disaster.  

    As with many children's books, the pictures in this book are fabulous!  I love the way the artist dressed the animals.  The suit and bow tie are perfect for the more reserved hippo, while the red slicker and polka dot yellow umbrella reflect the ducks adventurous and outgoing personally.  I foresee that Duck will likely dream up all kinds of ventures for the more sedate Hippo in future books. 

    This promises to be a great book series for children ages 3 - 7 and I would certainly recommend the delightful first book, Duck and Hippo in the Rainstorm.  


    Children's Book on Kindle Fire


     Fire Kids Edition Tablet, 7" Display, Wi-Fi, 16 GB, Blue Kid-Proof CaseI am thrilled to share that there are Kindle Fires made just for children!
     
    As an adult I wanted a Kindle that would feature the images in color for my craft books and cookbooks.  After consulting with our in-house electronics expert, Susan Deppner, I selected the Kindle Fire.  It was an excellent choice.

    Once I received it, I couldn't help but think how wonderful it would be for children, especially at bedtime or when riding in a car.  It would most certainly reduce the weight of books in a backpack too.  I did a little more digging and found there is indeed a Kindle Fire made just for children.  While I have no desire to replace the home library and real books, I do think Kindle Fires are fabulous when portability or weight is an issue.





    *Kindle First gives Amazon Prime members the opportunity to read a new book that will be published the following month for FREE.  You can check it out by clicking here!

    Read More Book Reviews at
    ReviewThisBooks.com




    Duck and Hippo in the Rainstorm Children's Book Review Written by:
    House of Sylvestermouse





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    Thursday, February 23, 2017

    Bodum Chambord Coffee Press Review

    French Press Coffee Makers Make the Best Coffee!
    Reviewing the Bodum Chambord Coffee Press

    French Coffee Press Review

    Coffee is one of life's greatest pleasures for me. I can't wait for that first cup in the morning so I will wake up and see the world through fresh eyes again. I drink a fair amount of it too, so it's very important to me how it tastes. 

    I love the whole experience of making it too, and don't opt for the K cups or automatic coffee makers unless I'm having company and need a lot of it, or many flavors. No, I like to savor the experience and the flavors wafting through the house. 

    In my travels I had seen coffee presses being used in fancy restaurants so I went on a hunt for one. In 1984 I found a Bodum Chambord coffee press in a little gourmet coffee shop in San Diego, California and have been using it ever since. One time in the 1990's the glass carafe broke and I was able to get a new one in another coffee shop for less than $20, so it definitely was a bargain for a real gourmet coffee maker. 

    All stainless steel parts so it's easy to clean too. No more filters to buy either, just a one time investment so it's much less expensive in the long run than any other coffee maker.

    And it's not that hard to use either. You just boil up some water, grind your coffee beans, (or use ground coffee) put them in the carafe, add the water, let it set a few minutes and press. Voila the freshest best tasting coffee ever!!

    Click here to check it out and/or purchase it right now, or read on for more information. 

    Best French Press Coffee Maker


    Of all the French press coffee makers on the market, the Bodum coffee press is the one most often mentioned in recipes and videos about making coffee using the French press method. Mine is still going strong so if longevity were the only criteria for a coffee maker then this one would definitely qualify as one of the best ones ever. 

    But I want way more than that from my coffee maker. I want it to make the best tasting coffee! And years later, after trying coffee from many coffee makers, I still prefer the coffee from my little Bodum Chambord coffee press to any other coffee I've ever tried, including the fancy coffee houses.

    So if you like to make your own coffee, and want the freshest beans and taste, you cannot go wrong with a coffee press. This one is very well made and as you can tell from my experience, it will last you forever. Thumbs up for the Bodum Chambord Coffee Press!



    The following are my favorite coffee grinder and 2 of my favorite coffees from my favorite coffee company. Well, one flavor, two types of it. I buy all whole beans and grind them right before I make my coffee for the freshest flavor.

    But if you don't want to do that, the already ground ones from Don Francisco are the best I've ever tried, and I've tried a lot of coffee! To read more about Don Francisco coffee, read my Don Francisco Coffee review. Or check out my summaries below.

    The Coffee Grinder I Use
    Braun KSM2-WH Aromatic Coffee Grinder, White


    I've had my Braun Coffee Grinder for at least 20 years and it still seems new. I love how fast it grinds! And with a clear top you can see how fine you are grinding so if you don't want it fine, check every few seconds. It's fast! I see that parts are still available for very old ones too; Braun has always been a quality company who stands behind their products.



    Don Francisco Coffee
    My Favorite Coffee of All Time


    Don Francisco coffee is my favorite and it usually only goes on sale once a year where I live so I used to stock up and put the bags in the freezer to keep them fresh. But Amazon sells it at a discount year round.

    I have Amazon Prime so it's free shipping too. How cool is that? Now I can get it at the low price all year round and save freezer space. Meanwhile, it's way cheaper than the trendy brands which shall remain unnamed and it tastes wonderful. 

    Don Francisco Family Reserve
    Vanilla Nut Whole Bean Coffee, 32-Ounce


    The Vanilla Nut coffee pictured here is my favorite flavor. It's really strong vanilla flavored too, no wimpy wisp of a flavor, this is serious vanilla! I like it as is for desserts, but for everyday, I actually mix it with Colombian coffee. A little vanilla goes a long way. 



    Ground Don Francisco Vanilla Nut Coffee  

    If you don't have a coffee grinder, this Vanilla Nut coffee is the best you can get. Very strong vanilla flavor!



    Make French Press Coffee


    Learn how to make French Press coffee. It's really easy once you get the hang of it. And once you taste the flavor you will probably never want your coffee any other way!


    Enjoy your coffee! And for some sweet treats to go with it, visit Food, Decor, Kids Blog


    Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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    Wednesday, February 22, 2017

    How to Grow Your Way to Happiness and a Great Garden A Review

    Growing My Way to Happiness!  A Review!


    Many studies have shown that Growing a Garden reduces stress and increases your happiness with just getting your hands dirty. As I review this idea of growing seeds for the garden, I agree that these studies are true.  I know that in my own life, as February is coming to a close, I start to look for those little signs that spring is indeed on it's way.  Little sprouts coming out of the ground are cause for me to jump for joy!  My husband still doesn't understand that completely.  Oh well, I can't explain it any more than to say my heart does indeed leap with joy, and I know that better days are ahead.  No more Seasonal Affected Disease and no more need to sit under lamps to get us out of our "funk".  The countdown is on for when we can really get our fingers into the ground and just feel wonderful.

    galanthus bulbs, snow bells, spring bulbs
    Snow Bells in Spring
    https://pixabay.com/en/flower-rod-snowdrop-garden-nature-2080981/


    So now that February is almost done and we can honestly say that Spring is just around the corner, it's time to get those seeds started that we saved from last year.  Just to be on the safe side though,  don't start just yet.  It is still February!

    Preparation is the Key to Successful Spring Seed Growing

    All of my die hard gardening friends have already been to at least one "Seedy Weekend".  What is that, you might ask?  Well, for anyone who lives in an Urban area with either Greenhouses or a Botanical Garden nearby, most of these will have a late winter get together called a "Seedy Saturday or Sunday".  The whole point of the weekend being that gardeners get together to share the abundance of seeds that they have saved from their own gardens and share with others for seeds that they might have.  It increases the number of seeds any gardener has and let's them share stories of their own particular gardens with like minded people.  It really is a social for gardeners who have missed being outdoors during the winter months.  If you are in the Toronto area for a visit, this weekend is the Toronto Botanical Gardens Seedy Saturday(Feb. 25),  so come on over for some fun and some great new seeds.

    Back to preparation for Seed Sowing

    Make sure you have purchased new seedling soil for your seeds. You never want to reuse soil from previous years, as they might be harboring bacteria that will be harmful to new seedlings.  This special seedling soil is composed of  a mix that contains very little "soil or dirt",  rather it is made up of moss, vermiculite and perlite.  These can be purchased separately and mixed together one part of each, or you can purchase it premixed.  You can fill up your home made containers, using newspapers, or half egg shells, or half a toilet paper tube.  All of these would be perfect for seed starts and are bio-degradable. It also makes it so much easier to plant in the garden afterwards because you just plant the whole thing into the ground.  No need to disturb young forming roots.

    seedlings, starter tubes, repurposing toilet paper tubes
    https://pixabay.com/en/macro-nursery-plants-seedlings-1840261/

    Have whatever containers you choose to set up for your seeding, on heat mats. You are trying to make the seeds think it's May with nice warm soil to grow in.  Warm soil and lots of light are the two most important things you need to start your indoor seeds off right.  If you just plant seeds into little pots and set them on a window sill, you will surely get the seeds to grow, but they will suffer in a few weeks time.  Why?  Well it's really just too early for them to growing without some added help.  Warming the soil with heat mats is akin to being outdoors in May.  The sun warms up the soil outdoors so that seeds will germinate and grow.  The days are getting longer with more hours of sunshine available than in March, so that the seedlings that are growing in the ground will be hardy and strong.  Indoors we need to mimic the garden in May as much as possible if we want strong seedlings.  Without the added attention of heat and light, your seedlings will be tall, lanky and very spindly looking.  Most often they will fall over because the stalks are not strong enough to hold them upright.  Once that happens you can almost count the days to total death of the seedling.  All that work is gone and you have to start over again, if you have enough seeds.  If you don't you will be buying more seeds in short order to start all over again.  

    Indoor Gardening Done Right

    If you decide that you really want to grow your seeds from scratch in the early months of March and April, then be prepared to have the right set up in place.  Yes there is a bit of effort involved, but  the end result will be well worth the effort.  You can purchase an indoor garden set up with shelves, heat mats and lights all in one unit.  This is usually more than enough for your average home gardener.  You are not going to become a commercial greenhouse operation, but you will have lots of seedlings for your garden and maybe some friends too.  Doing it this way is a little expensive, but you would have the unit for years to come.  I prefer the doing my seeds with heat mats and grow lights that I have purchased separately.  For my garden needs, this is more than enough space to grow seeds.  You have to decide for yourself which set up is right for you!


    With some of these choices you can start your own indoor gardening center and have some really good success with it too. The heat mats are inexpensive and will provide that much needed warmth at the soil level. The grow lights are also inexpensive and will help to keep your seedlings compact and strong.  The additional light with at least 8 to 12 hours of light, will mimic the days in May and June. Or if you really want to guarantee success, you can try one of the Areo Grow Systems for indoor herb gardens.  They have the lights and warmth built right into the unit, so that your success with these is almost a given.  Gardening is a joy especially for us northerners.  We love our changing seasons, but the change from Winter to Spring is the one that we seem to love the best.

    Happy Gardening and Seed Sowing to all of you!


    Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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    Tuesday, February 21, 2017

    The Velveteen Rabbit Reviewed

    Every Child's Library Should Have This Book


    Could This Be The Velveteen Rabbit?
    I do not remember how old I was when I first heard the story of The Velveteen Rabbit but I do know that after having it read to me; it became my favorite story of all time. I do not know for sure which I relate to more the child in the story or the toy rabbit. Truth be told, probably a little of both. 

    I will fast forward in time to the day that I found out that I was expecting my first child. Do you know what I did just after hearing the news? I went straight to the local book store and purchased a copy of The Velveteen Rabbit. Once purchased I went straight to the car, took the book out of the bag and proceeded to read the story to my growing baby. I had no idea whether I was reading to a boy or a girl at that moment but what I did know was that I was going to love that child with as much love as the boy did his toy rabbit. 

    As time passed, I read that book to both of my children over and over again. We will fast forward again to the day that I found out that I was to be a Grandmother. The very first thing I bought for that baby and all of the grandchildren since is the book, The Velveteen Rabbit

     

    What is it about The Velveteen Rabbit story with me?

    I guess in a nutshell it is that powerful message of love. I am not sure why as a child it resonated so strongly with me but it did. It still does. The magic of love is about the most powerful thing we experience as humans. The giving of love and the receiving of love. I believe it is what makes us "real". 

    Imagine being a new toy in the room and wondering what all of this is about. Imagine hoping that the child will pick you up and play with you. Imagine that at night when the child is sleeping all of the toys come alive. Some of them are rude to you and some even make fun of you. Imagine there is one toy that seems wiser than the others. It shows you kindness and shares wisdom with you. It is the Skin Horse. The tattered old horse tells you that the goal of all toys is to become "real" from the love of a human. This confuses you so the Skin Horse explains....

    "Real isn't how you are made. It is a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with  but REALLY loves you, then you become Real." 
    I encourage you to share this book with a child in your life. Perhaps you will remember it from your own childhood. It has been a classic since 1922 when it was first written by Margery Williams. The story transcends time with the message of love. As the Skin Horse says, "It does not matter what we look like or where we are from; what matters is to be loved." Well, that is paraphrasing a bit but it really is the message. We become our real selves when we receive love and I believe give love to each other and the world we live in. Isn't that an important message that every child should learn at a very early age? Perhaps, I identify more with that old tattered horse who knows what it feels like to become "real"from the love of a child.... 



    Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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    Monday, February 20, 2017

    Baby's First Personalized Easter Bunny Review

    Personalized Easter Bunnies
    This winter has been mild and the spring flowers are already starting to poke through the earth.  Spring makes me think of Easter. Easter makes me think of frilly dresses, baskets, and hunting for colorful eggs at Grandmother's home. These personalized plush bunnies are perfect for baby's first Easter basket. 


    Baby's First Easter Basket


    Are you unsure of what to put into baby's first Easter basket? The stores are already displaying shelves full of enormous stuffed animals and a large assortment of plush bunnies of every size.  But wouldn't it be wonderful to give a bunny with baby's name embroidered on the ear?  


    The Ultra-Plush Personalized My First Bunny 


    These ultra-plush bunnies are 16" tall and have weighted bottoms to help them sit up.  The bunny comes in pink or blue accents. Personalize these bunnies with names up to 12 characters long. That option to personalize is FREE

    These beautiful ultra-plush bunnies are described as "my first bunny" but I think they are a beautiful Easter basket addition for anyone of any age.  What a wonderful, lasting gift to receive from mom, dad, grandparent, aunt, uncle, friend, or anyone who wants to give a personalized gift that will last after all of the chocolate, jelly beans, and marshmallow chicks have been consumed.


    Ultra-Plush Personalized Bunny

    Did you have a favorite stuffed animal from childhood? I did. Of course, that was long ago. Long before embroidered names was such an easy option.

    One last thought and gentle reminder - it is recommended that infants sleep alone, without stuffed animals, in their cribs. The recommended age for this gift is 12 months and up.  


    Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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    Sunday, February 19, 2017

    How to Easily Create a Textured Wall


    The Challenge of Creating a Textured Wall can Kinda be Deceiving - It's not that Hard to Do After-all

    Textured Walls look complicated and expensive to do, and they can be...

    But....

    They don't have to be.

    Most of us who step into a grand foyer with artistic texture strewn all over the walls immediately think ... A) THAT  must of cost a fortune, or B) Who sculpted that!

    Well rest your weary head my lady because there IS a benefit to living in a pre-fab world.

    If a long drawn out expensive project just ain't your thing, then you'll love this artsy-fartsy tip; you can use 3D easy to install wall panels.

    What are 3D Wall Panels and Why Would You Use Them?

    3D Wall Panels are lightweight pre-fab panels made of varying material with the most common being plastic, that come in boxes of 12 or so (that can vary) and generally speaking are about 20inches by 20inches give or take depending upon the manufacturer.
    • They come in various design choices; brick look, geometric contemporary, funky shapes, and more.
    • Most can be painted to match or provide a contrast to the paint in a room
    • Those made of plant fiber products tend not to crumple over time, so they're a good long term solution
    • Most can be bent or flexed over a curved wall
    • Many are water resistant making them easy to wipe down and clean when necessary
    • No tools other than scissors or a utility knife are needed to put them up (No Grout, No Glue)
    • You can do it yourself
    • They're lightweight and easy to handle
    Now Why and Where Would You Use Them?
    • As a backdrop for a feature wall for the TV
    • As a bedroom headboard backdrop
    • As a kitchen backsplash
    • To add dimension to a boring staircase wall
    • To cover a wall that may be a little damaged and hard to paint
    • As a form of protection
    • To create an interesting and dramatic foyer
    • To complete the look of a home office
    • For commercial applications; entry ways, offices, waiting rooms
    • For better soundproofing and/or an acoustic changes
    Don't settle for less than what you want in your home's decor and plan your next re-decorating project with the intention of including a feature wall. You can do it.




    Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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    Saturday, February 18, 2017

    A Review of Greeting Cards for Pet Lovers


    Unique Greeting Cards for People Who Love Their Pets


    Baron, our Golden Retriever (c)
    Express your love, happiness, good wishes and special thoughts through greeting cards with friends and family. Send or give them a card to wish them a Happy Birthday, acknowledge an Anniversary, send 'Get Well' wishes, or in recognition of a special event or holiday.

    Christmas cards have been a traditional way of expressing the sentiments of the holiday season for many years. In fact, the first Christmas Card can be traced back to 1843. But greeting cards for Valentine's Day, Easter, Mother's Day and more continue to be very popular. It's estimated that the average person sends 55 cards per year.  I send cards throughout the year to my smallest grandsons just because they love to get mail.

    This page is filled with card designs that have a unique appeal for pet lovers. From humorous cats to sweet photos of darling puppies, all animal lovers and pet owners will enjoy receiving one of these. Browse through these selections that I found to be particularly special and see which is your favorite.



    The Golden Retriever


    Golden Retriever Dog Birthday Cards

    Because I once owned a Golden Retriever (Baron, shown in the introduction photo), I am naturally drawn to images of Goldens. This one of Murphy owned by professional pet photographer Karen Hoglund especially appealed to me.  And knowing how much most dogs love to chase squirrels, this scene of Murphy 'reading' a book about squirrels is most adorable. 

    This photograph of Murphy is featured on a set of 4 birthday cards created by Karen.  The inside of the card says: 

    "Squirrel! May all your birthday dreams and wishes come true."  

    The set is available in her Etsy Shop known as Karen Hoglund Photography.



    Karen says that "Being a pet photographer has brought together my interests and talents in a way I never imagined. As a fine art major in college, I learned about color and composition. I mastered design as an art director for advertising agencies. It was a happy day when I realized it was possible to combine my artistic side with my love of dogs!"  

    In addition to featuring her pet photographs on greeting cards in her Etsy Shop, Karen also works as a pet photographer in the metro Denver area. Check out more pictures of "Murphy" and other dogs she has photographed at her Karen Hoglund Photography blog


    The Boston Terrier

     

    Chocolate Boston Greeting Card


    This image of a beautiful Boston Terrier created by Whitney of Tulsa, OK  is on a precious greeting card perfect for any occasion! The card features a black-and-white Boston Terrier pup holding a heart-shaped chocolate in her paws. Cute phrase "I love you more than chocolate!" floats above. It's on a pretty mocha background.

    Whitney on Etsy has a shop called African Grey Designs.  She carries a line of paper goods which feature beautiful colors and whimsical designs. Her illustrations are not Photo-shopped or filtered photographs - each one is hand-drawn by her with 100% love. Whitney's favorite subjects are dogs, cats, otters...basically anything cute and cuddly!


    Boston Terrier Puppy
    Abbi, a Boston Terrier Rescue Pup

    This is the perfect greeting card for me to use for my brother & sister-in-law who are the owners of Abbi, the Boston Terrier shown here. My sister-in-law has a birthday on the 4th of July and now I know what card she would absolutely love. Her Abbi-girl is a joy to her.




    Send a Card for Holidays, Special Events, Birthdays...


    Greeting cards with pictures of dogs are perfect for friends and family who love their pets. Whether you are sending Christmas cards that reflect your favorite dog or finding a birthday card or other holiday card for that special someone, cards with darling puppies and dogs will be a big hit.  Check out boxed sets and single cards of your favorite breed of dog on Amazon. 



    From Dogs to Cats...


    Mama Cat & her Kitten (c) Kimberly Austin Daly*

    *Cat drawing by my artist daughter Kimberly Austin Daly made as a personal greeting card for me.

    Cards for Cat Owners...

     


    3 cats and a dog
    A collection of cats (Bennie, Bacchus and Jack) enjoying a bit of catnip. Abbi, the household's Boston Terrier, is trying to figure out what the cats already know! :-)


    Cats AND Dogs


    Cat/Dog Note Cards - Set of 8 on Amazon

    Cute puppies or kittens in a set of 8 with two different designs in each set of eight (8) cards.  Blank inside for your own message, these cards are perfect for thank you notes, birthdays or for just  keeping in touch. Perfect cards to send to your friends who have both a cat and a dog. 

    I like these for notes to my brother who has a Boston Terrier puppy and three cats (as shown in the picture above).






    Black Cat All Occasion Card on Zazzle




    This image of a black cat is a particular favorite of mine because it reminds me of my favorite black cat Spooky!


    Funny Cat Cards

     


    The Swinger Birthday Cards


    Cat images make the funniest birthday cards ever as there is nothing more appealing to a cat lover than a cat in a funny pose. This 'swinger' cat will definitely bring a smile to your favorite cat fancier on their birthday!
     

    A sweet and amusing 2-card set with matching envelopes for cat lovers, available on Amazon.

    We Love Our Pets!



    Yukari on Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

    Whether you own a dog, or have a cat that owns you, these pet related greeting cards are fun to give and receive.  

    Perhaps you don't have a cat or a dog, but instead have a bird, a horse, a gerbil or some other kind of pet animal. Or you are not a pet owner at all, but are a pet lover.  No one can resist such cute images of animals.

       

     

    *PS: February 20 is "Love Your Pet Day"

    April 11 is National Pet Day!


     

    More Greeting Card Suggestions


    Susan Deppner has written a review about a wonderful source for printable greeting cards. These cards are available on Etsy. Quick downloadable files that you can print at home, ready to be delivered or mailed.

    Reviewing the Best Birthday Cards for Online FriendsReviewing the Best Birthday Cards for Online Friends
    Selecting birthday cards for friends you've never met in person is a challenge. Find the perfect greeting in this review of birthday cards for online friends.  Coletta Teske tells us how in this review.


    Thanksgiving Cards Show You CareThanksgiving Cards Show You Care
    Thanksgiving is a wonderful time of the year to show your appreciation and thankfulness to people who are special to you. Reviewed by Mary Beth Granger.

    Do Not Toss Your Greeting Cards--Reuse Them! Do Not Toss Your Greeting Cards--Reuse Them!
    Recycle your pretty greeting cards from Christmas or other times of the year into another greeting card. Cut off the front and paste it onto card stock or blank greeting cards. Make gift tags the same way. Tips & hints by Mickie_G.

    Beautiful Easter Greeting CardsBeautiful Easter Greeting Cards
    Remember your far-away friends and family at Easter with a beautiful Easter card. Choose from cute or whimsical, or vintage cards that take us back in time. Or a special religious greeting card meant to remind us of the real meaning of Easter. Shared by Sylvestermouse.





    © 2012 Wednesday-Elf. Updated 1/26/2019




    Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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    Friday, February 17, 2017

    Wine Pearls Chilling Wine in Style!

    Wine Pearls - cooling wine in style
    Wine Pearls
    Let's review a popular gift idea for wine drinkers - wine pearls, chilling wine beautifully and looking good at the same time!  They really are a great gift idea, but do they work?  Well I just had to try them out for myself.

    The first brand I tried were the ones pictured which, as you can see came in a beautiful looking box making them a great gift idea.

    I placed the four 'pearls' in the freezer before going to bed one night and decided to try them out the following evening.  I should add the manufacturers say you only need to chill them for four hours while some reviewers have indicated 2 hours are sufficient.

    The next evening was a Friday and after a long week at work I thought a nice chilled glass of moscato would go down nicely!

    I got the wine pearls out and the one I placed in my glass of wine was so cold to touch I just knew it was going to work beautifully!   This gorgeous wine cooling pearl kept my wine at a perfect temperature and even when I'd finished the glass it was still lovely and cold.

    My daughter asked if she could hold it and was surprised at how cold it was remarking, "it's like an ice pack for your wine" which sums it up pretty well.


    Why Do You Need Wine Pearls?


    The idea behind the wine cooling pearls is great - keep your wine cool without altering the taste - there's nothing worse than having ice cubes in your favorite moscato or chardonnay (although I do know people who have committed this crime!)

    There was a suggestion a few years ago of adding frozen grapes to your favorite glass of vino.   I liked this suggestion, but that was more for the excuse to freeze grapes (have you tasted a frozen grape, they're like little pops of ice cream - yum!).

    The only drawback is that different grapes have different levels of sweetness and flavor that can be at odds with some wines.   Personally I find them fine, but I'm not a wine expert by any stretch of the imagination!  I just enjoy a nice moscato or a certain dolcetto & syrah blend in the summer heat.

    These wine pearls are made from food grade stainless steel and have a non-toxic freezable gel core, I was very hesitant about trying them as I thought they could add a metallic taste to the wine.   Luckily that thought was unwarranted.  The wine pearls just kept the wine cool without altering any of it's flavor - just perfect!

    Wine Pearls, chilling wine in style!


    What if You Don't Drink Wine?

    These wine pearls aren't just for wine you can forget about whiskey stones and use wine pearls in your whiskey and scotch as well - they even look sophisticated enough to pop into a martini, shaken or stirred!

    If you're a non-drinker that's okay, pop one of these wine pearls into a mocktail or soda for a refreshingly cool drink.

    Wine Cooling Pearls - not just for wine!






    Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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    Thursday, February 16, 2017

    Reviewing Prime Reading

    Free Access to Books, Magazines, and More With Your Amazon Prime Membership


    If you love to read, Prime Reading is an Amazon Prime feature that you won't want to miss!
    Prime Reading is a Feature of Amazon Prime
    that you won't want to miss.
    If you're an Amazon Prime customer, you probably already take advantage of free two-day shipping and several of the other discounts and freebies available with Prime. But there's one advantage that you might not be aware of. It's called Prime Reading and if you love to read, it's a feature that you won’t want to miss. Here's how it works.

    With Prime Reading, automatically included with your Prime membership, you get access to a library of over a thousand books, magazines, and Audible narration recordings, all at no additional cost. While 1000+ books and magazines doesn't sound like much in the big scheme of the Amazon bookstore, the selection is good and, personally, I've saved quite a bit of money borrowing books and magazines from Prime Reading as opposed to buying them. I think it's a great deal!

    Do I Need a Kindle To Use Prime Reading?


    You might be wondering if you need a Kindle reader to take advantage of this program and the answer is "no," you do not. As with all e-books in the huge Amazon library, each can be read from your phone, your iPad, or your other Android or iOS device using Amazon's free reading app which is simple to download to your device. If you don't own a Kindle reader or Fire tablet, simply look for the "Read with Our Free App" link below the Kindle format of any book to get started. (To learn more, check out my review of "The Three Best Ways to Read Kindle Books.")

    What Types of Books Are Available for Prime Reading?  


    The Prime Reading library consists of books in many genres from nonfiction to romance to business and money and more. Titles include current bestsellers, classics, and likely books by quite a few authors that you haven't read yet. What a great opportunity to explore new titles when you're on a budget (I'm always on a budget!).

    The magazines that are available are current issues of many of the bestsellers on the Kindle Newsstand. While e-magazine subscriptions are very reasonably priced, as far as I'm concerned you can't beat "free" for the cost of a magazine. I'll admit, I'd rather borrow HGTV Magazine or Birds & Blooms or Real Simple and read them for free than pay for a subscription. Borrow it, read it, save it for a while then exchange it for something else, all from the comfort of your own computer. It's even "greener" than recycling, don't you agree?

    Where Do I Find Prime Reading?


    Find Prime Reading Eligible items in the left margin of the Kindle Store.
    When you're logged in to your Amazon account, visit the Prime Reading page to see the catalog of what's available and view your personal library. You can always access a link to Prime Reading Eligible items in the left margin of the Kindle store, as shown in the photo.

    If you're not an Amazon Prime member yet, this is another great reason to join. Currently the price is just $99 a year, very worth it, especially when you take advantage of all the features of the program that you may not even know exist, including Prime Reading. To see the list of what's included or to join Amazon Prime, just follow the link.

    So tell me, if you're a member of Amazon Prime, did you already know about Prime Reading or did you learn something new today? I love to save money on books and magazines and hopefully this information will help you save a few dollars here and there, too. Happy reading!

    ~Susan
    Read more of my reviews.




    Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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    Review This is Dedicated to the Memory of Our Beloved Friend and Fellow Contributor
    We may be apart, but You Are Not Forgotten

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