Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Genuine Wax Flameless Candles — An Elegant Gift Everyone Will Love

One of my favorite gifts to give or receive is genuine wax flameless candles with a lovely, flickering "flame," a timer, and a remote control that lets me "light" them or "blow them out" from across the room at the touch of a button.

When flameless wax candles first came out, the quality of the "flame" from most manufacturers was pretty poor. Fortunately, the technology has improved and prices have come down a bit over the years. Now you can buy nice ones that are suitable for both gift-giving and home decor at moderate as well as premium prices.

Whether you buy a single flameless pillar candle, a pair of tapers, or a set of votives, they're sure to add beauty and timeless elegance to your home and be a gift that keeps on giving.

Gift and Decorate with Flameless Real Wax Candles
Flameless wax candles are elegant and safe to leave unattended.
My favorites also include a timer and remote control that let you "light" and "blow them out" from across the room.

Why Choose Flameless Candles?

Here are some of the qualities that make flameless candles appealing for both gifts and home decor, during the holidays and year-round.

Long-Lasting Beauty

These flameless candles let you enjoy the timeless beauty of genuine wax candles that never burn down. We have used ours frequently for many years with no end to our enjoyment in sight (unless we run out of batteries).

Flickering LED "Flame"

The flame on these LED flameless candles moves randomly to simulate the flicker of an open flame on a traditional wax candle. Close-up, of course, no one will mistake it for a real flame. However, from farther away, the "dancing flame" effect can be quite realistic.

No Drips

Unlike traditional candles with wicks, the wax body of these flameless candles remains at room temperature and won't melt or drip (unless you subject them to excessive heat). A grouping of pillars or some tapers make a lovely centerpiece that can't set your tablecloth on fire if they're accidentally knocked over while passing a serving dish. You could even use them on a finely finished antique wood table without fear of marring the surface.

No Smoke

Another advantage is that flameless candles are smoke-free. You can "burn" as many of these beautiful candles as your heart desires without worrying about setting off the smoke alarm! I love the look of candles everywhere, especially during the holidays.

Candlelight That's Safe for the Whole Family

Since there isn't an open flame, these flameless candles can be left unattended, unlike traditional wax candles. They're safe to leave on in your windows during the holidays. They provide a romantic glow in the bedroom, with no worries if you happen to fall asleep before turning them off.

They're also safe to use around children and pets.

Perfect for the Dark Winter Months

Here in New England, the winter months can be brutally cold and the sun sets quite early. We have flameless LED candles in nearly every room of our house, and during the winter we set them to turn on at dusk, so we never have to walk into a completely dark room. The LEDs draw very little power, so a set of batteries usually lasts us the whole winter and beyond.

Melted edge wax flameless pillar candles
Two of our Luminara flameless pillar candles with our set of three color-changing flameless pillars

Luminara Flameless Candles: Perfect for Gifting

There are many brands of flameless candles, and the quality can vary significantly. We've tried a few inexpensive brands and have mostly been disappointed. The brand we count on for consistently high quality is Luminara.

Luminara makes top-of-the-line flameless candles made of hand-poured paraffin wax. Most styles have a timer and a remote, and all are boxed for easy gift-giving.

The company offers a wide range of styles, from everyday essentials to specialty items like real birch flameless candles filled with paraffin wax (gorgeous for country or rustic home decor) and Christmas-themed styles.

Here are some of my favorites.

Luminara set of 3 pillar candles with remote
Luminara set of 3 melted edge
wax pillar candles with remote -
click the image to view on Amazon

This set of three melted edge wax pillar candles is one of Luminara's best sellers. The graduated-height, 3-inch wide pillars are 4.5", 5.5" and 6.5" tall, respectively.

The included remote control operates all three candles. Even if you split them up and place them in three different locations, you can control each one with the same remote, which is very convenient.

These are unscented (although Luminara does make some scented styles), so they're ideal for someone who is sensitive to scents, has allergies, or prefers to use other home fragrance products such as potpourri or sprays.

These also come in a choice of colors. I think the burgundy is very festive for the holidays and would be great as an accent color in a mostly neutral decor palette, while ivory or white are more subtle and very elegant any time of year.

We own this set of three pillars in ivory as well as a tall pillar in a discontinued color (blue sage) that coordinates with our living room color scheme.

Luminara ivory flameless taper candles
Luminara ivory flameless taper candles -
click the image to view on Amazon

Another choice that will grace your or your gift recipient's dining table for years to come is this set of ivory flameless wax tapers.

Elegant ivory wax tapers are a classic, timeless style for good reason. Classic elegance with the safety and convenience of a flameless "flame" is a win-win!

Measuring 1" wide by 9.75" high, these flameless tapers can be used in any standard taper candle holder. Even reheated leftovers can become a festive meal with these flickering beauties on the dining table.

Although these do not come with a remote control, they do have a timer function that allows them to turn on for 5 hours and then shut off automatically for 19 hours.

These flameless taper candles also come in a variety of colors for a less classic, more contemporary style.

As with all Luminara candles, they come nicely boxed for easy gift-giving.

Luminara birch wax flameless candle
Luminara real birch wax pillar candle -
click the image to view on Amazon

Another of my favorite Luminara flameless candle styles is this hand-poured wax pillar wrapped in genuine birch bark. Every time I see one in a store I am tempted to add one to our collection!

This is available in a selection of sizes including 3.5" x 4.5", 3.5" x 6.5", 4" x 5" and 4" x 7".

Just one of these is striking enough to make a statement in any room. Investing in a group of them in different sizes would make a real conversation-piece display!

The on/off switch on the bottom also has a timer setting.

Although this beautiful birch pillar doesn't come with a remote, it is compatible with Luminara's on/off remote, sold separately, which is well worth the extra money, in my opinion. We use our Luminara remotes all the time.

Color-Changing Flameless Candles

One of the best gifts I ever gave my husband was a set of three color-changing wax flameless candles. I prefer white Christmas lights and he prefers colored ones, and it was a big concession for him to go with white icicle lights along our roof and on our Christmas tree. So, one year I decided to give him a form of colored lights we both could enjoy: color-changing flameless candles.

These turned out to be an even bigger hit than I had hoped. I took a video of ours to show the color-changing effect, which was hard to capture on video and is MUCH prettier in person. (If you can't see the YouTube video below, you can access it via this link to my color-changing flameless candles video.)

Set of 3 Flameless Candles with 12 Changing Colors
Set of 3 color-changing flameless candles
with remote control and timers -
click the image to view on Amazon

In real life, the color changes are smooth and seamless, and the unsightly flickering of the image caused by the low-resolution video doesn't exist. I wish I could show just how beautiful these are in person!

The candles have an on/off switch and a remote control that allows you not only to turn the candles on and off but also to choose from a wide range of different colors or rotate through the colors, as shown in the video.

There is also a timer feature, which we use to automatically turn on the candles in our bedroom at dusk and turn off either 4 or 8 hours later, depending on the time of year (and how late dusk arrives).

The brand I purchased a couple of years ago is no longer available. However, I found a similar set with a subtle, elegant, tone-on-tone damask pattern in the wax shell that makes them even prettier, in my opinion.

If you want to splurge, Luminara also makes lovely color-changing pillars.

Don't Forget Batteries!

Whether you're buying these for yourself or as a gift, make sure to also buy the appropriate batteries for your candles and, if applicable, the remote control.

The set of three Luminara pillar candles, the smaller Luminara birch pillars, and the Luminara tapers take AA batteries. The larger Luminara birch pillars take D batteries. The remote takes a CR2025 button battery.

The three candles in the set of color-changing pillars I featured all run on AA batteries.


Beauty, long life, safety, and convenience — just some of the reasons to treat yourself and those on your gift list to some genuine wax flameless candles!


Genuine Wax Flameless Candles — An Elegant Gift Everyone Will Love by Margaret Schindel


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Monday, December 4, 2023

White Beans and White Bean Soup Recipe Review

Making white bean (Great Northern Beans) soup is a holiday tradition in our home.  I don't just make white bean soup during the holidays, but it is a part of the holiday week menu of recipes that I look forward to making and eating.

Every holiday, whether it is Thanksgiving, Christmas or Easter, I bake a big ham for the family.  I can hardly wait for the ham to be devoured so I can use the bone in a big pot of white bean soup.  The ham, itself, is usually served at least twice over the course of a few days.  I admit, sometimes (like this past Thanksgiving) I don't wait for all of the ham to be gone before I claim the ham bone for soup.

I love the holidays and cooking for the holidays, but after several days of heavy feasting, I am always ready for a lighter fare of soup for a few days.  For some, white beans are exclusively a side dish.  For me, they make a fabulous soup!  And, just so your know, I do make white beans as a side throughout the year.  I make the side dish exactly the same way as I make the soup, but with less water.

 


White Bean Soup Recipe by Sylvestermouse
ReviewThisReviews.com


 Camellia Brand Dried Great Northern Beans, 1 Pound (Pack of 2)…Check Price I use a package of dried white beans.  I do have a preferred brand, but I have been known to use different brands if I can't find the Camellia Great Northern Beans in the store.  I have found that the Camellia brand has less beans that I need to throw away before cooking.

I use the entire package of beans in one pot of soup.  I start by inspecting the beans as I rinse them in small batches in my colander.  I toss any shriveled, dark or broken beans, as well as any bean loose or floating "skin". 

All whole, white beans that pass inspection are placed in a large dutch oven size cooking pot, covered with water, and left sitting out on the kitchen counter to soak for 8 hours, or overnight. 

 

Directions for White Bean Soup

  • Rinse the Beans & Soak for 8 hrs. or overnight (water should be 2/3 up the pan since the beans absorb water while soaking)
  • After 8 hours, Rinse the Beans again and put them in a dutch oven pot with Ham (Ham Bone Preferred) OR (2 T Bacon Grease if a ham bone is not available)
  • Bring to a Boil, then turn the heat down to a low boil  (on my stove top that is 3­½)
  • Add a generous amount of salt and pepper and stir the seasoning into the beans
  • Cook covered (tilted lid or Pampered Chef Boil Over No More cover) on low simmer for 1½ - 2 hours 


*Note: I normally check the cooking beans a few times to add water as needed to keep the water from boiling down too low 


 Wisconic 2 Pack Mini Colander Dishwasher Safe - Made in the USA - Prussian Blue & Light TealCheck Price Pampered Chef Boil-Over No More Pot Cover Splatter Guard Cooks Standard Dutch Oven Casserole with Glass Lid, 6-Quart Classic Stainless Steel Stockpot, SilverCheck Price

 

Bacon Grease

I mentioned bacon grease in the recipe above because I season white beans with bacon grease if a ham bone is not available.  Bacon grease is exactly what it sounds like.  It is the grease that is rendered when cooking bacon.  I cook bacon in the microwave on a bacon tray or rack that allows the grease to settle below the bacon.  I literally pour the bacon grease from the tray into a bacon grease jar to use as needed, whenever needed.  You will find a partly filled jar of bacon grease in my kitchen at all times.


 Nordic Ware Microwave Compact Bacon Plastic Rack,10-Inch by 8-InchCheck Price Ceramic Bacon Grease Container Keeper with Strainer, Frying Oil Storage Can, TurquoiseCheck Price

 



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White Beans (Great Northern Beans) and White Bean Soup Recipe Review Written by:
House of Sylvestermouse





© 2023 Cynthia Sylvestermouse
 




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.”


Sunday, December 3, 2023

Deck the Halls: Embrace the Festive Spirit with Christmas Area Rugs

Christmas Area Rugs

The holiday season is upon us, and what better way to transform your home into a winter wonderland than with the magic of Christmas area rugs? These versatile and festive floor coverings are not just accessories; they're the secret ingredient to elevating the holiday ambiance in your home. 

Why Decking the Floors Can Be Fun

Instant Cheerful Transformation:

Rolling out a Christmas area rug is like waving a wand and turning your home into a festive haven. The vibrant colors, playful patterns, and iconic holiday symbols instantly infuse a sense of joy and merriment into any space.

Warm and Cozy Atmosphere:

There's something inherently cozy about the holiday season; a Christmas area rug takes that coziness up a notch. The soft, plush textures underfoot create a warm and inviting atmosphere, making your home the perfect retreat from the winter chill.

Express Your Style:

Christmas area rugs come in various styles, from traditional designs with classic motifs like snowflakes and reindeer to modern, whimsical patterns. This allows you to express your unique style while keeping with the festive theme. Whether your taste is timeless or trendy, a holiday rug suits every preference.

Kid-Friendly Fun:

If you have little ones running around, a Christmas area rug can become the focal point for holiday activities. From playing board games to opening presents, the rug serves as a designated festive zone that adds extra excitement for the kids.

Easy Seasonal Decor:

Only some have the time or energy to transform their home into a winter wonderland. A Christmas area rug is a quick and easy way to inject holiday spirit into any room without elaborate decorations. It's a hassle-free option for those who want maximum impact with minimal effort.

Take a Look at the Christmas Rug Product Page

Yearly Tradition:

Investing in a Christmas area rug can become a delightful annual tradition. Each year, as you unroll the rug and place it in its designated spot, it becomes a symbol of cherished memories and a reminder of the joyous holiday seasons.

Perfect for All Spaces:

Whether you're decorating the living room, bedroom, or kitchen, a Christmas area rug can seamlessly fit into any space. Choose a size and style that suits the room's aesthetic, and watch as the holiday magic unfolds.

Consider adding a festive flair to your home this holiday season with a Christmas area rug. These rugs enhance the visual appeal of your space and create a warm and inviting atmosphere that embodies the true spirit of the season. 

So, why wait? Roll out the festive carpet and feature some Christmas art on the floor.

πŸŽ„πŸŽ„πŸŽ„πŸŽ„πŸŽ„πŸŽ„πŸŽ„πŸŽ„πŸŽ„πŸŽ„

Check Out a Selection of Fun, Decorative Christmas Area Rugs Here




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Saturday, December 2, 2023

A Candle Day Review

Candle Day is held each year on the first Saturday in December. For 2023, that day is December 2.


A collection of candles


Candle Day


The retail company “Bath and Body Works” started 'Candle Day' to promote their annual candle sale. The sale gives candle lovers time to stock up on world-famous candles at special low prices. Since candles are great for gifting, especially during the holiday season, this annual 'sale' day in early December is perfectly timed.


Brief History of Candles


Candles have been around for more than 5,000 years. Early civilizations used wax made from available plants and beeswax. They were used to provide light in the many years before electricity was invented. 


Today, candles are mainly a symbol of celebration and for religious ceremonies. They come in many shapes, sizes and scents.


In addition to the Bath and Body Works sales day on December 2, we also celebrate World Candle Day on March 1.  That International candle day was begun by two associations, the Latin American Candle Manufacturers Association and the European Candle Manufacturers Association. 


Let's look at a few sources of candles.


Champagne Candle


A 3-wick candle by Bath and Body Works

Bath and Body Works is famous for their 3-wick candles. This Champagne Candle is perfect for a New Year's Eve celebration. It is a 14.5 oz jar candle with an amazing scent. 


Ocean Air


Yankee Candle called 'Ocean Air'

Another well-known candle brand is Yankee Candles. This Ocean Air candle will allow you to enjoy memories of your beach vacation or those of a fresh breeze off the ocean anytime you want, even in the middle of winter. 


Handmade Candles


Shopping on a handmade site like Etsy, you can choose any scent you want, from favorite kitchen odors like apple pie baking in the oven to holiday and seasonal scents. These candles come in standard jars or pretty glassware, in pretty tins and wood, in fancy & novelty shapes and sizes, and with delightful scents, including aromatherapy. 


Knot Candle


Knot Candles
Knot Candle on Etsy


Being a yarn crafter, I fell in love with this Knot Candle, as it reminded me of the Knot Knit Stitch. The twisted knot shape would look so pretty in my craft room. 


It's a homemade soy wax candle handmade by Urban Craft Style on Etsy.


Cat Candle


Cat-shaped soy candles
Chubby Cat Candle on Etsy


Round or square candles, stand-alone or in a glass jar, often appear to be the standard type of candles. But a novelty type candle in a cute shape is also popular. 


Cat lovers like me would love this adorable chubby cat candle. It comes in a variety of colors and scents from the Etsy Store of Melou Candles of Toronto, Canada. Lara also makes her candles in the shape of owls, elephants and teddy bears, among many others. I think they would make darling gifts.


Summary


Candles can give you magical mood moments. Depending upon the scent, they can transport you to a garden of roses or a sunny day on a tropical beach. Light the wick, take a deep breath, and let a favorite scent transport you where you want to be for a few quiet moments. 


So choose your favorite brand, or a fun handmade candle, and enjoy. 


Happy Candle Day!


Link to a Related Candle Review:



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*Candle Day Review written by Wednesday Elf




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Friday, December 1, 2023

Banana Bread Mini Loaves Recipe and Mini Loaf Pan Review

mini loaf bread
After getting the Wilton mini loaf pan that makes 8 mini loaves of bread at one time, I have found that I actually prefer the mini loaves to one large loaf of bread.

My husband likes walnuts in banana bread, but I don't like walnuts in mine.  Therefore, I often end up making two large loaves or one that is not going to please both of us.  Making a pan of mini loaves is the perfect solution!

After I have mixed the batter, I add walnuts to half of the batter.  Therefore, I can make 4 mini loaves of banana bread with walnuts and 4 without walnuts. 

I can also share the mini loaves with friends and family.  These would make lovely gifts of homemade food during the holidays.  For our friends who have differing ingredients preferences like us, I could send several loaves.  

A variety of bread mini loaves will certainly make the food at family gatherings more appealing.  By labeling the mini loaves, everyone will know exactly what they are getting.  No more surprise walnuts in my piece of banana bread!

 


Mini Banana Bread Loaves Recipe by Sylvestermouse
ReviewThisReviews.com


Heat Oven to 350°

Grease & flour pan 


Ingredients 

  • 1/4 Cup Shortening 
  • 3/4 Cup Sugar 
  • 2 Eggs 
  • 2 Cups  Bisquick or Jiffy Baking Mix  
  • 1 Cup Mashed Banana (usually 2 or 3 very ripe bananas) 
  • 1/3 Cup Chopped Nuts, if desired

Instructions 

In a large mixing bowl, cream shortening and sugar together with a mixer

Then, add eggs, baking mix, & mashed bananas. Mix until well blended 

Stir in walnuts - If you are dividing the number of loaves that have walnuts, divide batter into two mixing bowls and stir walnuts into only one

Pour into the prepared pan 

Bake mini loaves for 30 minutes - Check if done by sticking a toothpick in the center of a mini loaves.  If the toothpick comes out clean, the bread is done

Let cool for 10 minutes and remove from pan 

Let the mini loaves cool completely before you wrap them in foil or plastic wrap.  


 Wilton Perfect Results Non-Stick Mini Loaf Pan, 8-Cavity, 15.2 IN x 9.5 IN x 1.6, GrayCheck Price




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Mini Banana Bread Loaves Recipe and Loaf Pan Recommendation Review Written by:
House of Sylvestermouse





© 2023 Cynthia Sylvestermouse
 




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.”


Thursday, November 30, 2023

A Review of the Best Stocking Stuffers for Men Including Seniors



Stockings are a traditional part of Christmas as far back as the 1800s.  There are many stories of how the tradition came to be, but there is no proof that any of them are factual.  However they came to be, hanging stockings and filling them with presents is one of the most beloved customs of Christmas.  

In my family, you are never too old to have a stocking.  My parents had a stocking for me every year, until I got married, when then handed the baton to my husband.  My husbands family, on the other hand, only gave stockings to the youngsters.  He was delighted to reinstitute the practice between the two of us.

Since then it has become a fun challenge to find new and unique things to put in each others stocking every Christmas.  So here are some of the things that I have given to my husband.....who for the past few years has been a senior, which is why I have put a special section at the end of the page for senior stocking stuffers.  I hope you find some things to help you stuff your stockings!


Mini Drone - These are small drones that you can fly in or outside.  Trust me, any man will love this!!  They start around $30.



Mini Drone


Magnetic Wristband - Usually nylon with Velcro closure.  Interior magnets will hold screws, nails, nuts, staples, just about any small metal object. No more  having to repeatedly reach into your toolbox!  Starts around $7.

Password Keeper - If your man is constantly forgetting his passwords, this is the perfect gift!  You can get him a password book if he is an old style guy for about $8. If he is a more digital type, you can get him a computerized handheld keeper that starts at around $20.

Mini DVD Player - This gift is really great for everyone, not just the guys!  These small DVD players fit in your hand and usually play movies, music CDs and show photos.  Perfect for places with no WIFI, or in a plane or car.  Entertainment on the go!  They start around $25 like the one below from Amazon.

Craig Mini DVD Player


Universal Socket - I already bought this for my husband's stocking!  Whether your man is a beginner or has a monumental toolbox, (like mine) this is a great item to keep in you kitchen drawer for small jobs.  It will save him from having to go search for the correct size!  They start around $7.

Deodorizing Balls - If your man has a stink problem, be it shoes, gym bag, locker or closet, this is what he needs!  These little balls will help rid any confined space of distressing odors for only about $7 for six balls.

Beef Jerky - Don't put candy canes or chocolates in your man's stocking when what he really wants is JERKY!!  Small, individual packets of jerky always go over great, just stuff them right in that stocking and see his face light up!

Mini Bluetooth Speakers -  These speakers are small in size but big in sound.  You will be surprised at the quality of the sound.  They are available in all shapes and sizes, but I recommend the one below, which I have and runs about $19 and comes in six different colors!

INSMY Mini Bluetooth Speaker


Knit Hat with a Light - I got one of these for my husband last Christmas.  I was afraid that he would never use it, but I could not have been more wrong!  He wears it all the time.  Anytime he needs to go out and do something at night, he puts it on.  Putting our animals away, going out to retrieve something he left in the car, he even uses it when we grill on the deck at night.  He says it is one of the best things I ever bought him because it leaves his hands free while giving lots of light!  His is USB rechargeable and cost about $9.

Solar Charger Power Bank - These are about the size of a phone, a bit thicker, and one side is covered will solar panels.  You can charge the bank by plugging it in and at full charge it will fully recharge your phone three times.  If you are someplace with no plug in, you can charge this power bank using the solar panels.  This is a great gift that could save a life in a bad situation.  Starts at around $20.

Belly Band Holster - Because many people don't know what these are, I decided to include a picture of one so you would know what I mean.  These holsters can be used for guns, but they can also be used for so many other things.  It is especially nice for hiding things you don't want out in the open in case you are mugged or threatened, or you don't want to carry a purse.  They are also useful for walkers or joggers. The compartments and pockets in these bands are awesome for smart phones, wallets, inhalers, medications, pepper spray, ID, cash and so much more.  These are great gifts!  They start at about $16.


Belly Band Holster


Personalized Playing Cards - Wouldn't your guy love to have a deck of cards with a his favorite photo on the back of each card?  Show you really care with this personal gift!  You can order these from Shutterfly for about $20 along with other great personalized stuff like calendars and magnets.

Leather Apple Watchband - These bands are made especially to fit Apple watches and look far more stylish than what comes with them.  They start around $12.

Mini Survival Kit - If your guy drives long distances, or if he jogs, hikes or camps, he needs a survival kit.  This kit is very small with only the bare minimum of survival equipment, but it has things in it that you will need if you find yourself caught out with no resources.  Each kit has different things, but most include at least an emergency blanket, fire starter, multitool, compass and wire saw.  These mini kits are usually small enough to fit in your glove compartment, but in an emergency they could save your life, for around $20.  A thoughtful gift.


Mini Work LightsI bought these lights for my husband a couple months ago.  We were both really shocked at how bright they were and all the extras they had.  Three different levels of brightness, strobe, on/off switch, means to hang it up or stand it up, keychain attachment and bottle opener.  For the price, you will never get a better small light.  I keep one in my car, and one in my kitchen in case we lose power.  They charge with a USB plug and the lights I bought were two for $12.

Mini Work Lights



Stocking Stuffers for Senior Men


Though senior men would probably love any of the suggestions above, there are some items that are especially loved by older gents.  Here are a few!

Neck Light - My husband uses his all the time when he reads, as the lamp by his chair is not bright enough for him to read easily.  You simply drape them around your neck and the legs are bendable into any position you like.  A great gift for people who like to read or do crafts.  Prices vary widely but start at around $10.

Neck Light


Newspaper or Magazine Subscription - Some seniors still prefer to receive their reading material on paper, and the price of these items has risen greatly in the last five years.  The Wall Street Journal is $33 for four weeks and a year subscription to TV Guide is $56!  Many seniors have a problem with high cost of their favorite print material, so a gift subscription would be a blessing for them!

Tracker - These small items clip on to car keys, remotes, pill satchels or other things that are commonly misplaced.  Must have a smart phone or smart home to use most trackers.  Simply download the free app and search, your tracker will ring out so your item is easy to find.  Prices start about $17.

Lazy Shoe Horn Helper - Many older folks have trouble getting their foot in their shoes.  The heel folds in and it is very frustrating.  These shoe horn helpers solve this problem instantly.  You simply slip them on the back of the shoe and your heel will slide down the horn and right into the shoe.  My husband loves his!  They start at around $6.  This is what they look like:




Back Scratcher - I know it sounds silly, but you would be surprised how hard it is to reach places that itch if you have arthritis, or a bad back.  A nice telescoping back scratcher is a thoughtful gift for any senior's stocking, man or woman!  You can pick these up for about $5.


And last but not least, this is my favorite stocking stuffer for seniors.  However, if you plan to give this, make sure the recipient has a good sense of humor!  





Stockings full of lots of small presents make a great gift for anyone, who says kids are the only ones that should have them?  My husband and I always have stockings hung by the big screen TV with care!  (we don't have a fireplace)  After all the gifts are opened on Christmas morning, they are the last thing we open.  It is so fun to see what unique stuff our better half has gotten us, small enough to fit in a stocking!  

Merry Christmas!




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.”


Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Panda Girl ~ A Historical Novel by Lawrence V. Drake ~ A Book Review

 So I'm going to tell you a secret!  Historical Novels are one of my favorite genre of books. It doesn't really matter what the time period is, I just happen to be very adept at getting my mind into whatever period I am reading about!

Panda Girl by Lawrence Drake is one of these books.  Set in the period of the Second World War, just after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, this novel had me right from the opening few sentences of the Prologue.

Based on true life experiences, Panda Girl captivates and sheds some light on a part of WWII that many people don't know anything about.  It certainly was the case for me.  We think of the war as taking part mostly in Europe, but there was a whole contingent of the War that was taking place in  China, Burma, and India. 

Known collectively as the CBI Theater of WWII,  the Americans, while fighting Germany and the Japanese in the Pacific, also vowed that Japan would not overrun China.

https://amzn.to/46vRcHz

Victor Dance (the main character) knows little about the world beyond his family's dairy farm in Montana.  He is reserved, shy, a hard worker and well liked.  He's also a talented artist in his own right.

When Pearl Harbor was bombed and the scope of destruction was realized, Victor and many of his friends enlisted in the Army to do their part for America and world peace.  Victor knew he wanted to fly!  It was a dream of his since he once witnessed Lindbergh flying over the family farm.  

When Victor and his friends had enlisted, their minds were full of thoughts of flying to France or England, they had never in their wildest dreams thought they would end up in India and  thought much less of the terrain they would be flying in.

Lawrence Drake does a wonderful job of bringing the realities of some of these missions to the pages of this book.  At times I felt that I was drowning in the heat that many of these pilots had to endure and just as I was getting comfortable in the heat,  I'd find myself freezing right along with them when they were flying at 20,000 ft.  I can't imagine the shock to the body when those kinds of extremes are happening within a short span of time. 

Missions over the Himalayas  were treacherous as winds, clouds and some of the highest mountains in the world stood between the pilots and their missions to take out Japanese tankers, railroads, bridges and transfer stations.  

Sometimes the only thing that kept these guys in the air and focused on their missions were the thoughts of those people back home who were counting on their success in this War. Letters from home were the only way many of these men kept going.  Hobbies helped too, as Victor in his "off time" was often drawing.  His talents as a pilot and an artist were in high demand, but you will have to read the book to see why.

War is never an easy thing and writing about it in a way that makes you fully understand the sacrifices is a real gift for us who have never had those experiences.  Truly it makes you even more thankful that we have not had to take part in this kind of "action".

If there is someone on your list of friends that enjoys Historical Novels, then this book gets a big Green Light from me.  I really enjoyed the story and came away with a much better understanding and thankfulness for all the sacrifices these men and women made for us.

You can get your own copy right here and I do hope you enjoy it as much as I did!





Happy Reading, until the next Review!



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Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Reviewing Our Experience Of The Treetop Walkway Kew Gardens London

View of green leafy tree canopy at Treetop Walkway Kew gardens

The Treetop Walkway is an exciting part of Kew Gardens London. Stepping up to the walkway in the tree canopy and looking out over the vista of the gorgeous Kew gardens was one of the highlights of our trip.

The many steps to reach the top was absolutely worth it and we took our time and enjoyed the views on the walk up to the top. 


View across the trees at Treetop Walkway at Kew Gardens


I have wanted to visit and experience Kew Gardens Treetop Walkway for years and when I got the chance I was so happy. I was especially excited to find out what it felt like walking high up amongst and above the tree canopy and it was amazing!

The walkway itself is essentially a walk at height on a wide safe pathway through the treetops of Kew Gardens. It is an amazing piece of architecture built with more than four hundred tonnes of weathered steel, which although quite industrial looking, has its own beauty and surprisingly does become absorbed and integrated by the trees all around.

View across to the walkway at Kew Gardens

The structure needs to be strong though as there are 118 steps up to the main walkway in the sky, then you walk up onto the pathway which is 18 metres or 59 feet above the ground! 

The walkway itself is 200 metres or 656 feet long and that means you really do get a great experience literally walking in amongst the amazing trees and seeing them with a totally new rarely experienced perspective.


Trees and branches with leaves at Kew Gardens Treetop Walkway


As a child I was always climbing trees and loved being high up in the midst of a tree among the leaves and berries and closer to the birds. However there is no way I could have safely climbed this high and now I would not even attempt it! So enjoying the amazing tree canopy in a safe way like this is just perfect.

Horse chestnut trees with seeds
 

I love looking up at trees from the ground level and being in awe of their beauty and majesty. It was amazing to be walking amongst the uppermost branches of the trees really close to the birds taking a rest in the branches, the fruits of trees, seeing the insects that live there and noticing he fungi and lichen at that level. It felt a real privilege and joy to be there. 


View between trees to the Glasshouses At Kew gardens


It is however important to note a few safety aspects of the walkway. By its very nature being so high up you need to be Ok with walking around at that height. 

The walkway is quite wide and has semi circular places where you can stop and look out over the views and let others pass as necessary. In some areas there are benches to sit.

To me it all felt very safe and secure. The walkway is designed to flex a bit and we certainly did feel that from time to time which initially was a bit strange, but we got used to it. We found it not bouncy and not at all like the swinging of a ropewalk, but rather feeling sturdy with some movement. The flex in the walkway is an important design feature so that it can cope with the winds without breaking.

The weathered steel walkway at Kew gardens Treetop walk

You do have to leave buggies and pushchairs on the ground and young children must be closely supervised. The rails are high but I would not like to take chances with very young children, so best to keep hold of them.  

 As there are 118 steps up and many steps down, you do need to be fit enough to walk them. You can certainly take your time, which we did and look out over the wonderful views on the way up, but if you have any issues with climbing steps it would be better to use the lift provided. It may be best to check ahead of your visit if you need the lift or assistance to ensure it is available and suitable for you. 

View looking down on the lift at Kew Gardens Treetop walk
 

Also personally we did avoid the large school parties which were there. It was wonderful to see the children so engaged and excited, but we wanted to go at a calmer time so that we could go at a steady pace on the way up without feeling rushed or obligated to go faster, and could drink in the atmosphere in a more peaceful way.  

View over the green tree canopy

It is best to check before visiting when the walkway is open both in dates and times. Clearly safety is always considered first so weather conditions need to be taken into account. Have to say although I am good with heights I was glad it was a still and warm day. I am not sure if I would have enjoyed it as much had it been windy and cold.

Spring, Summer and early Autumn are all wonderful times to visit and will give very different experiences of the tree canopy.  It does often close or partially close during the Autumn and winter months.

I thoroughly enjoyed the treetops experience and am glad that we took the time out to experience it. We spent probably about two hours exploring and absorbing the treetops. We saw some people wizz around in less than an hour and we could have probably stayed longer but had so much more of Kew Gardens to explore! It is both an educational and enjoyable experience.




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