Showing posts with label Gifts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gifts. Show all posts

Friday, January 14, 2022

Swiss Miss Hot Cocoa Collectible Gift Tins Reviewed

Swiss Miss Tins
One of my favorite gifts that I received this year for Christmas was a set of Swiss Miss Hot Cocoa Tins filled with fabulous packets of instant hot chocolate.  This gift shows that my sister-in-law knows me well!

I am an unapologetic chocoholic. Any gift of chocolate is greatly appreciated.  Since I enjoy a mug of hot chocolate on a cold winter day, the hot cocoa was a perfect choice. 

I am also a collector of glass jars and tins.  I can trace my obsession to glass jars and tins to my favorite hobbies.  They make excellent and inexpensive containers for all kinds of craft supplies.  While glass jars are excellent for viewing contents, a tin won't break, which means they both have their place in my craft room.  

The adorable gnome tins will be an awesome addition to my collection of tins in my craft room when we have finished drinking the hot cocoa.  Correction:  when we have finished using them for hot cocoa. I have already had to replace the hot cocoa packets in two of my new tins and it has only been a few weeks since Christmas.  Most likely, I will keep two of the tins in my kitchen for continuous refills and use.

 

Swiss Miss Collectible Gift Tins

I had never seen the wonderful Swiss Miss tins before, but I will certainly be watching for additional sets.  

When writing this article, I checked Amazon to see if they had my gnome tins available.  While there, I noted some precious woodland animal Swiss Miss tins.  Of course, I had to order a set of those for my craft room.  I need more storage tins for craft supplies (yes, that was my excuse!) .  

Each Gnome tin contains 5 packets of hot cocoa.  My personal favorite is the marshmallow hot cocoa, but my husband prefers the milk chocolate. The animal tins contain 4 packets in each tin.  

For the first time in my entire life, I tried the peppermint hot cocoa that came in the tins.  I love it!  It is my new second favorite (sorry, the marshmallow can't be beat).  I also tried the caramel for the first time ever.  It is good, but the competition is stiff.  Still, if I run out of my marshmallow and peppermint, I'll be more than happy to enjoy a mug of caramel hot cocoa.  All of the flavors are fabulous!

 

How to Make Swiss Miss Cocoa Packets 

It is very easy to make hot cocoa with the Swiss Miss packets.  Simply pour the packet of mix into a mug, add 1 cup of hot water & stir.   It is important to note that you should only add 1 cup (measurement) of water.  More water will dilute it and diminish the chocolatey flavor.  

You can add fresh marshmallows, peppermint, or other toppings to create your own fun flavor of hot cocoa.

 

How to Get Your Own Set of Swiss Miss Hot Cocoa Tins

 Swiss Miss Gift Pack Tins Gnomes Characters, 6.9 Oz pack of 4. LIMITED EDITION. Milk Chocolate, Peppermint, Marshmallow and Caramel FlavorsCheck Price Swiss MIss Hot Cocoa Mix Milk Chocolate 3 Piece Gift Set, 1 Milk Chocolate Hot Cocoa Mix Tin and 2 Ceramic MugsCheck Price Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate Variety Pack (4 Flavors), Hot Chocolate Mix, Hot Chocolate Variety, Hot Chocolate Swiss Miss, Peppermint Hot Chocolate, Instant Hot ChocolateCheck Price

 





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Swiss Miss Hot Cocoa Collectible Gift Tins Reviewed by:
House of Sylvestermouse




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Wednesday, December 29, 2021

The Best Affordable Programmable Large- and Small-Batch Coffee Maker

One of my husband's holiday gift wish list items this year was a coffee maker that he could use to brew just one or two cups of really good java. He had been looking online at small-batch coffee makers that brew and hadn't found a reasonably priced one that had mostly good reviews. After doing my own due diligence on his behalf, I chose to buy him a Ninja CE251 Programmable Brewer with a 12-cup carafe and a small batch setting.

It makes delicious coffee in a choice of two brew strengths, brews at an appropriately hot water temperature for great flavor without bitterness, can be programmed the night before (so you wake up to the smell and taste of freshly brewed coffee!) and comes with a permanent gold-tone filter that you can use instead of disposable paper filters, if you prefer. It's also easy to fill and clean.

Most importantly, unlike most of the other coffee brewers I reviewed during my research, this Ninja programmable coffee maker with a superior-performing small batch function makes just one to four ups of Joe that's just as rich, hot and flavorful as when you're brewing a full carafe for up to 12 cups. 

Whether you want to brew a full pot for several people or a party crowd, or prefer to brew just one or two (or three or four) cups for yourself and maybe someone else, you'll love this Ninja CE251 Programmable Brewer with small batch settings. 

Image of Ninja CE251 Programmable Brewer with text "Program & Brew Delicious Coffee for one person or a crowd!"
Ninja CE251 Programmable Brewer

You Don't Need to Be a Gourmet to Appreciate Good Quality, Hot, Freshly Brewed Coffee

I grew up with a dad who was a coffee connoisseur (dare I say coffee snob?). He was fussy about his beans, insisted on buying them freshly roasted and grinding them just before brewing them in a drip coffeemaker (although, late in life, he eventually replaced his classic Chemex drip carafe with a programmable coffee maker) and refused to drink coffee that had been brewed more than 30 minutes earlier and wasn't practically scalding hot.

To dad's dismay, for most of my life I drank coffee only with sugar and cream. Even with that dilution, it tended to upset my stomach, so I became primarily a tea drinker. Even so, however, dad did instill in me an appreciation for freshly brewed coffee made from freshly ground beans over coffee that was made with lesser-quality, stale beans or has been sitting in the carafe on a warmer for an extended period of time. 

Then, in 2019, after I adopted a ketogenic diet that helped me lose nearly 60 pounds, my husband and I read "biohacker" Dave Asprey's bestselling book The Bulletproof Diet and I started drinking "bulletproof coffee" most weekday mornings, using Asprey's official Bulletproof coffee recipe made with freshly brewed Bulletproof brand coffee frothed in a blender with grass-fed ghee (clarified butter) and Bulletproof Brain Octane C8 MCT oil. The fat keeps me full and satisfied for hours, and the C8 MCT oil not only helps burn fat as part of a very low carb or ketogenic diet but also helps keep my brain and attention more sharp and focused while I'm working, while the caffeine helps keep me awake and alert. This mixture is so smooth and creamy and the low acidity of the Bulletproof coffee beans agrees with my digestive system far better than ordinary coffee beans, so I no longer need to add cream. Instead of sugar, I sweeten it with one of my favorite keto diet-friendly sugar replacements, such as BochaSweet granulated or Besti monk fruit and allulose blend granulated sweetener.

My husband also has been drinking bulletproof coffee twice a day, a cup first thing in the morning and a second cup mid-afternoon. He finds that it helps tremendously with maintaining his mental acuity, focus and energy during his long and stressful workdays without making him feel wired and jittery, which regular coffee always does but Bulletproof brand coffee does not.

Integrated coffee measuring scoop on side of Ninja CE251 Programmable Coffee Brewer
The Ninja CE251 Programmable Coffee Maker has an integrated coffee measuring scoop

Don't Brew More Coffee Than You Need

Before I bought my husband his new Ninja CE251 Programmable Brewer, we were using my dad's 20-year-old coffee maker, which also had a 12-cup glass carafe but no small batch settings. Using it to make a small batch of coffee (4 cups or less) produced terrible coffee, so he would brew a full carafe's worth. Unfortunately, that was also the case for most of the coffee makers with small-batch settings I looked at that didn't cost a fortune, as well as the single-serve coffee makers that weren't inordinately expensive and didn't use K-cups or other coffee pods, which he have stopped using as we are trying try to minimize our consumption of single-use plastic disposable items.

Good Coffee Is Too Expensive to Waste

Good quality coffee, including sustainably grown, Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee beans that have been tested for mycotoxins (harmful mold toxins), like those in Bulletproof brand coffee, is expensive and a shame to waste. 

So, after brewing a carafe of it, my husband would pour out a cup of the fresh brew for himself (and one for me, if I was having some that morning), then let the rest cool in the carafe to room temperature, pour it into a couple of large hydration bottles and refrigerate them. In the early afternoon, he would decant and reheat a cup of the refrigerated Joe in the microwave it before blending it with grass-fed ghee and MCT oil to make his second Bulletproof coffee of the day.

Coffee Should Be Consumed as Soon as Possible After Brewing

Unfortunately, the coffee oils that give the brew its rich flavor and aroma oxidize when they are exposed to oxygen, both in the air and in the water used to brew it, especially when heated. So, the longer the coffee sits after you brew it, the more the oils oxidize, making the beverage taste more bitter and smell stale. So, the sooner you drink your coffee after brewing it, the better!

That's another reason not to make more coffee than you plan to drink in the next 30-60 minutes. 

Photo of Ninja CE251 programmable coffee brewer with 60-oz. removable water reservoir
The 60-oz. removable water reservoir is easy to bring to the sink to fill

Why the Versatile, Affordable, Programmable Ninja CE251 Is the Best Small Batch Coffee Maker Option

Here are the features and benefits that make the Ninja CE251 the best programable coffee maker for brewing both large and small batches without breaking the bank.

Delicious, Rich Flavor and Aroma, Whether You Make a Single Cup or a Full Carafe

Unlike most other 12-cup carafe programmable coffee makers with a small batch option, this versatile Ninja model delivers the same excellent, flavorful, piping hot brew when you use the small batch settings (for 1–4 cups) as when you make a larger 6–, 8– 10– or 12–cup batch.

Note: Virtually all electric coffee makers consider a "cup" of coffee to be 5 fluid ounces, not the 8 fluid ounces in a standard US measuring cup.  

Affordable

The Ninja CE251 Programmable Coffee Brewer was available on Amazon for less than $80 at the time this post was published, a great price for a coffee maker with such thoughtful design, excellent performance and consistent brew quality for both large and small batch brewing.

Two Custom Brew Strengths

A choice of Classic or Rich strengths and Ninja's Thermal Flavor Extraction® Technology produce hot, flavorful coffee with no bitterness. The Rich strength setting provides a darker, more robust brew and maintains its smooth flavor when you add milk or cream.

Removable Water Reservoir 

One of the things my husband and I really disliked about my dad's 20-year-old coffee maker that we had been using was the fact that the water reservoir was permanently attached to the machine, so we had to use the carafe to measure the water and then pour it into the reservoir, which was hard to do without spilling any. The water reservoir was also black opaque plastic with a window, which made it inconvenient to see the water level.

The water reservoir on the Ninja CE251 large and small batch coffee maker is see through, BPA-free plastic with clear, easy-to-read markings and indentations that make it easy for even small hands like mine to hold it securely when pulling it out to fill at the sink and carrying it back to reattach to the coffee maker.

24-Hour Programmable Delay Brew

You can program your brewer as much as a day in advance, so you can set it up at night to wake you with the aroma of fresh coffee. One of my favorite childhood memories waking up to the smell of Dad's strong, freshly ground and brewed coffee in the morning!

Flavor Straw and Mid-Brew Pause

The "flavor straw" keeps the coffee circulating as it's brewing so the heat and flavor are uniform throughout the batch, while the mid-brew pause lets you remove the carafe briefly to pour a cup or two while waiting for the rest of the batch to brew.

Adjustable Warming Plate

Although I highly recommend drinking your coffee within an hour of brewing it for the best flavor and aroma, the Ninja CE251 gives you the option of programming the warming plate to stay on for up to 4 hours.

Permanent Gold-Tone Filter

A permanent gold-tone metal coffee filter is included with this Ninja coffee brewer. You have the choice to use either the permanent metal mesh filter or disposable #4 cone paper coffee filters; do not use a paper coffee filter inside the permanent metal mesh filter.

If you use the permanent metal mesh filter, you will retain more of the coffee oils for a more flavorful, aromatic brew. If you fill it with ground coffee with a medium grind in the permanent metal filter, as recommended, there should be minimal sediment from the "fines" (finely-ground, powdered coffee too small to be filtered out by the metal mesh). 

Alternatively, you can remove the gold-tone filter and use #4 disposable paper filters instead, which will absorb a lot of the coffee oils and make the brew less flavorful and aromatic but also filter out more of the fines, if having even a small amount of sediment bothers you. I highly recommend using natural, unbleached #4 cone paper filters for both flavor and health and safety reasons. 

Twist-Lock Carafe Lid

Unlike the lid to the glass carafe of my dad's old coffee maker that we had been using, the lid to this Ninja programmable coffee brewer easily locks and unlocks with a simple twist. Now I don't have to risk breaking a nail to attach or detach the carafe lid!

Easy to Clean and Maintain

One of the things my husband hated about our old coffee maker was that, because the water reservoir was not removable, in order to clean it he had to put the entire machine into the sink, even though the built-in electronics needed to be kept dry. In addition, the opaque black plastic made it almost impossible to see whether it was properly cleaned or needed descaling.

The Ninja CE251’s see-through removable plastic reservoir can be carried to the sink for filling or cleaning while keeping the electronics well away from any water. 

Although it is preferable to hand-wash the permanent gold-tone coffee filter, the removable water reservoir and the glass carafe, all three are top-rack dishwasher safe. The manufacturer recommends using a ball-shaped, soft foam brush for thoroughly cleaning the inside of the glass carafe.

As with any electric coffee maker, periodic descaling is recommended to remove buildup from the heating element inside the machine. Although you can use a special descaling solution made specifically for cleaning coffeemakers, 16 ounces of ordinary white vinegar works fine and is significantly cheaper. Follow the simple instructions in the Ninja CE200 series product manual and quick start guide for pouring the descaling solution or vinegar into the removable water reservoir and pressing the Clean button on the control panel on the front of the coffee maker, followed by running a Classic brew cycle with just clean, fresh water. 

You Don’t Have to Be a Coffee Connoisseur to Appreciate the Difference in Taste!

My husband doesn’t consider himself a serious coffee enthusiast like my dad by any means, which is why he was surprised and delighted at how much better the same freshly-ground Bulletproof coffee “The Mentalist” medium dark roast beans tasted after being brewed in his new Ninja CE251 Programmable Coffee Brewer compared to the previous batches brewed in our old coffee maker.

A Great Gift for Any Coffee Lover

Although we haven't had our Ninja CE251 Programmable that long yet, so far we are both thrilled with this purchase. My husband couldn't be happier! It would make a great gift for yourself or someone else who enjoys a great-tasting cup of coffee, needs to brew small amounts most days but also appreciates the ability to brew a full 12-cup carafe when company comes, as well as ease of use and easy cleaning and maintenance. 

Close-up photo of Ninja CE251 Programmable Coffee Maker control panel
The control panel on this programmable large- and small-batch coffee maker is simple, intuitive and easy to read

For those of us who work from home, it's also a treat to be able to brew a small quantity fresh throughout the day.


The Best Affordable Programmable Large- and Small-Batch Coffee Maker by Margaret Schindel


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Posts About My Keto Diet Journey

My First Year on The Keto Diet

Preparing to Succeed on the Keto Diet, Part One

Preparing to Succeed on the Keto Diet, Part Two

Low Carb Muffins & Cupcakes: Treats to Enjoy on a Keto Diet

Low Carb Keto Chocolate Yogurt Granola Chip Pudding Recipe

Good Dee’s Keto Cookie Low Carb Baking Mix Review

Hamama Microgreens Growing Kit Review & Success Tips

My Favorite Hamama Microgreens Seed Quilt Accessories

Keto Cheddar Cheese Biscuits With Chives Recipe

The Ultimate Keto Hot Chocolate Recipe

The Best Low Carb Keto Gift Ideas: Keto Gift Guide

The Best Low Carb Keto Cinnamon Muffins

Wholesome Yum Keto Bread Mix and Yeast Bread Recipe

The Good Chocolate 100% Organic No Sugar Dark Chocolate Review

The Best Advice to Maintain Your Keto Diet Weight Loss

My New Irresistibly Delicious Keto Cheese Crackers Recipe

Luscious Low Carb Keto Triple Peppermint Cheesecake Brownies Recipe

Quick & Easy Livlo Blueberry Scones Keto Baking Mix Review

Snack Better With The Best Healthy Keto Cookie Dough Bites

Reviews of the Keto Diet by Barbara C. (aka Brite-Ideas)

My Personal Keto Testimonial

How I Stayed Committed to the Ketogenic Way of Eating






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Sunday, December 19, 2021

The Best Baby Booties - A Personal Recommendation


The arrival of our Granddaughter has given me an education on what's popular and what's not with baby products. 

Having raised four sons, I know a thing or two about constantly losing baby socks. 

About a month ago, I noticed our super-cute Granddaughter had these very warm, comfy, and secure booties on her feet. I asked my daughter-in-law what kind they were, and she informed me they were called "Hudson Baby Booties."

Hudson Baby Booties Come in a Variety of Sizes, Designs, and Colors - They're Awesome!

Here's One Pair Our Granddaughter Wears

I've since purchased two additional pairs for our Granddaughter, and I highly recommend them for gifts. If I were a new mom starting out, I'd want many pairs of these to go with a wide variety of outfits.

What's So Great About These Booties?

  • They're soft and comfortable
  • They're cozy and warm
  • They're easy to put on and remove
  • They have never fallen off of our Granddaughter's feet!
  • They come in multiple designs, sizes, and colors
  • They make a lovely gift
  • No more losing sockies
  • They open up wide for baby's feet to go in
  • They velcro-wrap for closing
  • Great for cold winter nights or cooler days
  • A good choice when taking baby for a walk or in the car
Notice How Much They Open So You Can Easily Put Them On

The Tongue is Soft - Pulls Forward so Foot can Easily Go Inside


Here's a Look At the Velcro Close

The Two Velcro Sides wrap around Baby's Ankle - They Stay On!

I highly recommend these booties for the baby in your life. Several pairs of these, in multiple sizes, make an excellent gift. In fact, these are now my go-to baby gift. They're usable, cute, and practical. Our Granddaughter, especially now during the winter months, wears hers daily.

You can find Hudson Baby Booties here on Amazon




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Monday, December 6, 2021

Reviewing Handmade Kirigami Greeting Cards by Paper Love Cards

I recently received a card with a note in the mail at my new address. I was touched by the personal letter included in the card and mesmerized by the card. I opened and closed the card repeatedly, looking at the details. Throughout the day I moved the card from one shelf to another looking for the best place to display my new miniature piece of art. This card lay flat in the envelope but when I opened it I was surprised by an exquisite butterfly on a bouquet of foliage expanding into a three-dimensional paper sculpture. I was so intrigued by the card that I immediately looked up the company information.



This card was created by Paper Love Cards. Paper Love cards are exquisite pop-up cards handcrafted by origami and kirigami artists. I am familiar with origami. Origami is the art of paperfolding and making shapes (often birds, with the crane being one of the most popular. Origami utilizes folding only, no cutting or gluing.

I first learned the term kirigami when researching these cards. Kirigami is a form of origami that includes the folding and the cutting of paper that results in three-dimensional forms. I am unclear as to whether Kirigami originated in Japan or China, but all sources report that it has a very long history. By the 17th century, it was recognized as a true art form in Asian culture and became popular in America in the 1960s and 1970s. 

Paper Love Cards

The Paper Love Cards design office is based in New York, United States while the cards are made in by origami and kirigami artists in Vietnam. They advertise "A pop of art for every occasion" and they aren't lying. The offer cards for holidays, birthdays, changes of seasons, 

These cards are suitable for recipients of all ages. The Dabbing Santa Christmas card would tickle many younger people.

Paper Love can be ordered online via their website or Amazon store and are currently sold at Walmart and Walgreens.

The card sent to me was of a butterfly design. As I opened the card, it eclosed and fully displayed itself to me. The colors are vibrant and the foliage is in many shapes. My photos do not do the dimensions and details of this card justice but perhaps they will help show some of the details better than I am able to describe. 




The Lost Art of Tangible Communication

In this day and age of a constant barrage of text messages, video chats and constant conversations in our ears via earbuds, handwritten messages are becoming a lost art. How wonderful to recieve a heartfelt message from someone who takes the time to put a card into the mail. While I am not at all good at doing this on a regular basis, I had already sent out a few handwritten messages. 

Digital communication is very important. It is instant and frequent. It helps us to remain in close and quick contact. However, tangible communication, that can be held and saved, is a special thing. Especially when that communication includes a bit of handmade art.

Special Cards for Christmas, Thank You, Birthday, and More

The wide variety of cards available is wonderful. There is literally probably something for everyone and there are so many designs to choose from. There is a brief video on the Paper Love Cards Amazon store that currently shows the opening of a Christmas card.  It also shows the small insert of paper were a brief message can be written. It is about the size of a business card. 

I would like to encourage you to take a peek in order to see how these 3D designs pop open. And to take a peek at the selection of cards so you are prepared when you shopping for an extra special card for a special someone. 








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Monday, November 29, 2021

Battleship Classic Board Game Reviewed

 

Battleship Classic Board Game Reviewed

Battleship is a classic naval combat board game of strategy and excitement. In this board game, you will search the ocean floor to destroy your opponent’s fleet of ships.

The board game was first introduced by Milton-Bradley in 1967 as a plastic board and peg game. The game battleship comes from earlier versions of a pencil and paper game from the 1930s.

Battleship has also evolved into many electronic versions of the game today. The game I had growing up was the original plastic board and peg game. I have spent many hours playing this game with my brothers and friends.

The game we have today is the same, but it was made by Hasbro. I have never tried one of the electronic versions but thought about it many times. Today I play the same battleship game with my grandchildren that I played growing up.

How to Play Battleship:

Each player has a fleet of five ships consisting of the following:

Class of Ship                       #of Hits to Sink the Ship

Aircraft Carrier                                  5

Battleship                                          4

Destroyer                                          3

Submarine                                        3

Patrol Boat                                        2

Battleship classic board game

Each player has a plastic case with two grids, white pegs, and red pegs. One grid is the ocean floor, this is where you place your fleet of ships either horizontal or vertical. The upper grid is to record your misses with white pegs and your hits with red pegs.

 You can also use your ocean floor to track your opponent's misses with white pegs. This is an option and I never use it.

A player calls out a location on the grid and the opposing player says either hit or miss. If it is a miss the first player marks the location with a white peg, so he doesn’t call that location again. If it is a hit, then he places a red peg in that location and the opposing player places a red peg in the ship that was hit.

Now, the first player must figure out if the ship is placed horizontal or vertical on the opposing player’s grid. Once a player has sunk the other player's entire fleet, he wins the game.

Battleship is just another classic game that has been around for many years and will provide hours of fun.

For more classic toys and games visit me at

 Cherished Toy Finds


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 Battleship Board Game for ages 7 and up makes a perfect gift for hours of fun.

Hasbro Gaming Battleship GameHasbro Gaming Battleship GameCheck the Price

 




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Friday, November 19, 2021

Lazy One Fuzzy Feet House Slippers Reviewed

It seems I am cold all of the time, even in the summer.  That is in large part due to the fact that my husband prefers cooler temperatures. Because I can always layer clothing, we keep our home cold.  At least "cold" by my definition.  Therefore, warm fleece lined house slippers are the perfect gift for me!

When my parents visited Yellowstone National Park, they discovered the Lazy One Fuzzy Feet house slippers and decided they were exactly what I needed.  When my mother spied the slippers with the brown bear fabric, she knew those slippers were made for me.  There was only one pair available and fortunately, they were in my size.

To say I was thrilled with this gift would be an understatement.  I have worn them every day since I received them.  The first thing I do in the morning is slip them on before I leave the warmth of our bedroom carpeting.  The last thing I do at night is slip my Lazy One slippers off and leave them at the side of the bed for when I awake.

Our bathroom has tile flooring and can give quite a jolt to bare feet, but not to my feet when they are protected by my beautiful camping bear slippers.  The slippers also have a nonslip sole which keeps one foot firmly in front of the other when walking across smooth tile or hardwood floors.

I was recently discussing how much I love the slippers with my mom.  After I left that day, she decided to try to find me a second pair so I would have them if and when I wear out my original pair.  She even tried calling the Yellowstone gift shop, but was unsuccessful in obtaining a replacement pair.  Being my mother and relentless in a search for something for one of her children, she started searching online, which is a tremendous challenge for my mom.  She doesn't really like computers, therefore she would never be called computer savvy, but she is tenacious.  

Would you believe she found my beloved slippers on Amazon?  Of course, she ordered them immediately. I now have a back-up pair of my Camping Bear Lazy One Fuzzy Feet house slippers hidden away in my closet for the time when the originals need to be replaced. 


Lazy One Fuzzy Feet House Slippers

 Lazy One Fuzzy Feet SlippersCheck PriceAfter Mom discovered the house slippers on Amazon, I had to check out the other designs available.  The collection is so vast, it would seem there is a design for everyone.  I love my brown bear and do not desire to replace him, but I must say there are some really cute slippers that would be quite the temptation.  Plus, there are a few holiday designs.

Because the slippers can be washed on cold and tumble dried, they stay clean in spite of the fact that I might follow Merlin, our Labrador Retriever, out onto the patio on a chilly morning without changing from my slippers to shoes. 

The price is also right! Finding a gift that is less than $20 is difficult these days.  I know I will be looking closely at the Lazy One collection when buying Christmas gifts.  Perhaps, I should pick out a pair or two for my mom.  She tends to stay cold too!









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House of Sylvestermouse



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Friday, November 12, 2021

Give a Kindle Unlimited Gift Subscription Reviewed

Kindle Unlimited is the perfect gift for people who like to read!

We frequently hear the term "the gift that keeps on giving".  That phrase is especially true about a subscription to Amazon's Kindle Unlimited.  You can give a 6 month, 12 month or 24 month subscription depending on your gift giving budget.  Plus, it makes the perfect annual gift for someone who has everything.

Personally, I like to give a Kindle Unlimited subscription for birthdays, especially to family members who live in other states.  Because you choose the date of delivery at the time of purchase, you can even buy it on the very day and have it delivered immediately.  I'm not as likely to forget the date of Christmas, but birthdays do tend to slip up on me. However, if I get to Christmas Eve and realize I need to send a gift, Amazon has me covered with a Kindle Unlimited subscription.

Whether you are buying a Christmas gift, a birthday gift, an anniversary gift, or simply a "thinking of you" gift, Kindle Unlimited always comes in the right size with free shipping.  All you need is the recipient's email address! 

 

How to Gift a Kindle Unlimited Subscription

It is as easy as clicking this link, making the subscription length choice, filling in the email address, date of delivery, and adding a gift note (if desired), then checking out.  

Kindle Unlimited Gift Subscription
Prices May Change - Subscription Cost Shown is Price at Published Time of Article

Kindle Unlimited Gift Subscription


 

It takes on a few minutes to give a gift that keeps on giving and will be used all year long! 

 

You may also wish to give a Kindle Fire (color illustrations) or a Paperwhite Kindle (smaller & lighter than the Fire) along with the KindleUnlimited subscription.  This would truly be the ultimate gift for someone who loves to read.

 








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House of Sylvestermouse



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Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Mirror Mirror on the Wall - A Gift Suggestion

How many times have you stood in front of the mirror first thing in the morning and thought, "What words of wisdom do you have for me today?"

There are many times in my life where I have been overwhelmed, upset, depressed, down in the dumps or excited about something that will be happening.  All of these feelings sometimes just grab hold of me and I stare at my reflection hoping that some wisdom will come me and help me over whatever hurdle seems to be in my path.

Now I've been thinking a lot about my grandchildren who have just gone through two years of hardship and stress.  I know that they have missed out on so much with all the restrictions put in their path.  I also know that kids are resilient little beings and that they will bounce back.  In the meantime, I have been thinking about ways to help them cross those barriers and climb over their disappointments so that they can look at themselves through my eyes and smile.

Little words of encouragement are always needed by everyone and our children and grandchildren are no exception to the rule.  So because we aren't physically close to them, we can still be an encouragement for them from afar.

How?  Well, this year, I'm making sure that my Grandchildren know what they mean to me daily! And this is how I'm going to do it. 

We are buying each one of the Grandchildren  a mirror to be hung on their wall in their rooms.  Hung at a height that will make it possible for them to check out how they look and at the same time have a message that will either make them smile, or pause and think, or just laugh!  

So how are we going to get a message on their mirror?  Easy peasey when you have a set of  Liquid Chalk Markers!  

These markers write on glass easily and are erasable too.  So when you need a new message on your mirror just clean off the old with a damp cloth and add the new.

Everyday you can change up the message, or leave one there as a reminder of your Grandparent's thoughts for you! 

Everyone loves a little encouragement and there are lots of ways to add that spark to your mirror with Words to Live By !  Checking out Pinterest is another great source for Quotes for all kinds.  




My Grandson's are going to love that their mirror will say "You make me smile!" and "You are the kindest boy I know!"

My Granddaughters are going to love theirs too!  One will say, "You are poetry in motion!"  While the other one will say, "Your imagination just makes me happy!"  



Can you just imagine what seeing these words on their mirrors everyday will do to their spirits?  I imagine and hope that it will give them a positive outlook that will carry them over any hurdles they happen to be facing.  

When they need a little pick me up, grab the Liquid Chalk and write a note to them or let them write a note to themselves.  

I'm looking forward to seeing their reactions and when they are finished with needing some positive reinforcement, they will always have a nice mirror to see themselves in!

I know they will see a wonderful person who has empathy and joy in their lives, that is for sure!





 



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Wednesday, November 3, 2021

How to Make a Stylish Beaded Coil Wrap Bracelet

Main image: Beaded Coil Wrap Bracelet Tutorial

Beaded bracelets are wonderful accessories that can add a pop of color to any outfit. Unlike necklaces and earrings, bracelets allow you to enjoy looking at them throughout the day while you’re wearing them. Vintage beaded coil wrap bracelets from the 1940s and 1950s designed by top jewelry icons of that era, such as Miriam Haskell and Robert DeMario, are coveted by vintage jewelry collectors. They have also come back into fashion repeatedly, for good reason.

While bracelets with clasps can be quite challenging to fasten and unfasten, even with a bracelet helper tool, beaded coil wrap bracelets made with memory wire are a cinch to put on and take off your wrist. During my three decades of designing, making and, periodically, selling one-of-a-kind beaded jewelry, my coil wrap bracelets featuring vintage beads have remained among my most popular jewelry designs, regardless of fashion trends.

In this jewelry tutorial, I’ll review how I made my most recent memory wire coil wrap bracelet with a mix of contemporary and vintage beads, which is a birthday gift for a very dear friend. The friend for whom I made this one owns several beaded coil wrap bracelets I’ve designed for her in different colors. She loves wearing them so much that when I asked her what type of jewelry she would like me to make as her birthday gift this year, she requested another coil wrap bracelet, this time in shades of olive green.

These beautiful, classy, distinctive bracelets make wonderful gifts for any jewelry lover (including yourself), and especially for someone who has difficulty putting on or taking off her favorite bracelets with clasps. 

Beaded Memory Wire Wrap Bracelet Tutorial

Materials, Tools and Supplies You Will Need

  • Assorted beads in a range of sizes, shapes, materials and surface finishes.
    • I used a combination of rare vintage glass beads, vintage Swarovski crystals, contemporary glass beads, including Japanese and Czech seed beads and glass pearls, and small (2mm and 3mm) 14k gold-filled beads. 
    •  I've written an article on The Best Sources for Vintage Beads, Findings and Jewelry Components, if you are interested in using vintage beads in your memory wire beaded coil wrap bracelet designs. Buying beaded jewelry at thrift stores, auctions and estate sales and taking them apart can be a great way to buy more unusual and vintage beads less expensively. 
    • You can also make beautiful bracelets with inexpensive beads from the crafts store, if you prefer. 
  • A bead board.
    • While not strictly required, a bead board will make it much easier to plan out, play "what if" and rework parts of your design. 
    • The BeadSmith bead board I use has three channels for designing multi-strand bracelets and necklaces, a flocked surface to help keep beads from rolling around too much as you are laying out your jewelry designs, six recessed compartments of different sizes to hold and organize beads, findings and other jewelry components, and a plastic cover to protect your work-in-progress from dust and keep your laid-out design in place in between work sessions. 
  • Steel bracelet memory wire. 
  • Memory wire cutters.
    • Memory wire is extremely hard steel wire that will ruin the cutting jaws regular jewelry wire cutters intended for softer metal wire, such as silver, gold or copper. I highly recommend using either memory wire cutters made specifically for this purpose or a heavy-duty wire cutter from the hardware store.
      • An old, heavy-duty toenail clipper with straight or slanted (but not curved) jaws that you don't mind ruining is another option.
  • Bead stoppers.
    • These are steel coil spring clamps that prevent beads from slipping off stringing wire. I find they are also useful when stringing beads on memory wire bracelets.
    • I have both the basic Beadalon wire bead stoppers, which I am showing in this project because they are less expensive, and the cushioned Soft-Flex wire bead stoppers, which I prefer because they are more comfortable to use and less likely to escape from your fingertips.
    • As an alternative, you can try using ribbed clear silicone ear wire clutches, if the holes fit your memory wire.
  • Memory wire end caps.
    • Memory wire end caps are half-drilled metal beads that are glued onto the trimmed ends of the memory wire to keep the rest of the beads in place on the finished memory wire wrap bracelet and leave a smooth, rounded end that won't scratch or snag on clothing.
    • Choose silver-plated or gold-plated end caps to match your wire or spacer/accent beads.
    • Alternatively, you can use heavy-duty memory wire looping pliers to turn a small loop at each end of the wire. Finishing the ends with small loops also gives you the option of making and attaching beaded dangles to them.
  • Strong, two-part epoxy glue that dries clear. 
  • Wooden toothpicks and scrap cardboard.
    • Toothpicks and pieces of cardboard cut from shipping cartons or cereal boxes are the perfect disposable mixing tools and palettes for preparing and applying small amounts of clear two-part epoxy to the ends of the wire.
  • Close-fitting latex or nitrile exam gloves.
    • You'll wear these to protect your fingers while sliding small spacer beads and memory wire end caps onto the epoxy-coated wire ends. Choose gloves that are aren't too large, too loose or too thick to maintain the dexterity required to hold the small memory wire end cap beads securely and quickly maneuver the wire into the small holes before the epoxy sets.
    • I find that unpowdered nitrile exam gloves work great for this purpose. 
  • Ultra-fine point permanent marker.

Step 1: Choose Your Color Scheme and Assemble a Varied Selection of Beads to Design With

First, decide what your main color will be. Choose a wide variety of beads in different shades of that color, sizes, shapes and finishes. Then, decide on a couple of complementary accent colors. Start with a broader selection than you think you will need. I find that I can never predict exactly which beads will end up in my final design, and the more choices you have to play with, the more creative you can be.

My friend wanted the dominant color of her bracelet to be olive green. This photo shows just some of the light to dark olive-toned vintage and contemporary beads I selected from my very large collection for this design, along with some small accent beads in gold, bronze and deep red shades, from garnet to cinnabar.

Photo of bead board with coil of bracelet memory wire and memory wire cutters

Step 2: Cut Your Memory Wire to the Desired Finished Number of Coils, Plus Some Extra 

A memory wire wrap bracelet can have as few as two coils or as many as you can fit on your arm! I usually prefer to make by beaded coil wrap bracelets either three or five coils wide.

Although it's possible to leave the entire memory wire coil uncut until you have finished stringing all your beads from one end, I find it much easier to cut the purchased memory wire coil to a more manageable length and add beads from both ends, since I always make multiple design adjustments as I go along.

It's important to cut the wire longer than you want your finished bracelet to be, for a few reasons. You need enough extra wire at both ends to hold onto as you get closer to stringing the last of your beads and to allow space to clamp the wire ends with the bead stoppers so the beads won't slide off one end while you are adding beads to the other end. Also, the width of the beads will increase the diameter of the coils, so if you start with just three coils of wire you might end up with only two coils once the beads have been added. Wider or longer beads also prevent the memory wire from curving as much, which also enlarges the beaded coils and takes up more of the wire. 

So, if I'm planning to make a three-wrap beaded coil bracelet, especially if I will be including 8mm and larger focal beads in the center of my groupings, I will usually cut five or  six coils memory wire and then trim the excess after all my beads have been strung and I am happy with the design.

Remember to use either a memory wire cutter or another heavy-duty wire cutter whose cutting jaws won't be ruined by this very hard wire!

Photo of bead board with beads laid out in beginning of design

Step 3: Begin Playing With Design Ideas

You can string your beads in a random pattern, if you wish. The most important thing is to have a harmonious mix of bead colors, shapes, sizes and finishes. 

I prefer creating memory wire wrap bracelet designs that combine apparent randomness with symmetry. I do this by creating "bead stations," small groupings of odd numbers of beads in symmetrical patterns, usually featuring a larger bead in the center flanked by smaller and medium-size beads interspersed with tiny spacer beads. I find that this creates a pleasing "rhythm" and "flow" to the design.

Occasionally, I will include a larger grouping of symmetrically arranged beads, such as the one I experimented with in the upper channel of the three-strand bead design board shown in the photo above.

Photo of beads strung on memory wire held in place with a bead stopper clamp

Step 4: Start Stringing Your Beads Onto the Memory Wire

Once you feel comfortable with the initial direction of your beaded coil wrap bracelet design, it's time to start stringing your beads onto the memory wire. Clamp a bead stopper about half a coil away from one end, then start stringing the beads in your desired order or pattern.

I usually repeat some of the smaller and medium-size spacer beads from one "bead station" grouping when designing the adjacent grouping, making slight changes and using a different center focal bead for each successive pattern. 

Step 5: Adjust as Needed So the Bead Stations Complement Their Neighbors, Both to the Sides and On the Other Coils

I've found that it's nearly impossible to create a final multi-strand beaded coil wrap bracelet design before stringing the beads on the memory wire. 

While the mechanics of cutting memory wire, stringing beads and finishing the ends are fairly simple, designing the bracelet so that the colors, sizes, shapes and patterns of each bead grouping complement not only the ones to either side on the same coil but also their counterparts on the adjacent coils is definitely a challenge (a bit like playing the three-dimensional chess game from Star Trek, lol). 

As you can see in the photo above, my final design turned out to be significantly different from the initial pattern groupings I was experimenting with at the beginning in order to get all three parallel beaded coils to fit together nicely.


Extreme close-up photo of final beaded coil wrap bracelet design before trimming and finishing the wire ends

Step 6: Do a Final Alignment Check

Snug the beads down firmly, gently stretching the coils apart and adjusting the bead stopper clamps, if necessary, to ensure there are no gaps where the wire shows between the beads.

Then, do a final check to make sure you're happy with the way the beads on each coil align with those on the other coils. Even though I am careful to keep re-snugging the beads as I go, I usually have to make a few minor adjustments after snugging the beads one last time.

Photo of gluing the last few beads to one end of the memory wire

Step 7: Glue The Last Several Beads to One End of the Bracelet, Then Trim the Memory Wire and Glue on the End Cap

Place one end of the memory wire into the jaws of the memory wire cutter. Using just enough force on the handles to compress the wire without cutting through it, make adjacent, parallel grooves along the first 1/2-inch of one end of the memory wire. This will create some "tooth" on the smooth metal surface to help the epoxy adhere better. Use an ultra fine point permanent marker to place a small mark about 3–4 mm from the tip of the wire.

Next, prepare a very small amount of the J-B Weld clear two-part epoxy. Put on your exam gloves, then squeeze equal amounts from both sides of the syringe dispenser onto a scrap of cardboard and mix them together thoroughly and quickly with a clean toothpick.. 

Clean off the tip of the toothpick, then use it to pick up a drop of the prepared epoxy mixture and apply it to the small section of wire where you made the grooves, starting at the mark you made about 3–4 mm from the tip and spreading it inward along the remainder of the grooved section. Quickly remove the bead stopper clamp and slide the last several beads down onto the glued section of wire, taking care not to get any of the epoxy on the last 3–4 mm of the grooved end of the wire. Slide one more bead down next to the glued beads, replace the bead stopper next to it to keep the glued beads in place while the epoxy sets, then prop the bracelet with the exposed tip of the wire facing upward.

When the epoxy has not only set but also cured, tug firmly on the glued beads to make sure they are securely attached. Then, slide a memory wire bead cap onto the clean end of the memory wire to gauge how much of the wire to trim. Remove the end cap and use the memory wire cutters to remove the excess length. 

Helpful Tip

Trim a little less wire from the end than you think you need to. Removing a bit more, if necessary. However, if you trim off too much, there won't be enough wire to allow the epoxy to bond it securely to the end cap. It's better to leave the wire a smidge too long and have a tiny gap between the last bead and the end cap than to trim it too short.

Close-up photo of gloved fingers aligning the hole of the memory wire end cap to the glued, trimmed wire end
Coat the tip of the trimmed and ridged wire end with a dab of epoxy and align the end cap hole.

Close-up photo of pressing the end cap onto the glue-coated wire end
Then, quickly and carefully, push the end cap firmly onto the glued tip of the memory wire.

Using a fresh piece of cardboard and a fresh toothpick, prepare another small amount of two-part epoxy. Quickly apply a dab to the exposed end of the trimmed wire, align the hole of the memory wire end cap and guide it onto the wire tip. Hold the end cap securely in place for at least 60 seconds, applying pressure from the end with a clean, gloved fingertip. Slowly and carefully remove the pressure, then prop the bracelet with the freshly glued end pointing upward, so that gravity continues to pull it down onto the clipped wire tip. 

Allow the epoxy to cure fully, then give the end cap a tug to make sure it is firmly secured to the end of the wire before moving on to Step 8.

Step 8: Trim and Glue the Other End of the Bracelet

Finishing the second end is a bit trickier than the first. Slide the loose beads down the bracelet wire, snugging them firmly against the glued beads at the other end. Use the ultra fine point permanent marker to mark the wire at the last loose bead. Then, carefully slide several beads off that end of the wire and place them in order in a channel of the flocked bead board, making note of which end of the row of beads was at the end of the wire.

Use the memory wire cutters to indent parallel lines into the section of memory wire adjacent to the remaining strung beads, as before. Put on the exam gloves, prepare a small amount of epoxy, re-snug the beads and apply the glue to the section of exposed wire between the end of the strung beads and the mark you made. Quickly slide the beads you removed back onto the wire in the correct order and snug them down onto the glued section. Wipe off any visible epoxy that might have squeezed out onto the adjacent exposed wire. Replace the bead stopper and allow the epoxy to cure fully.

When the glue has cured, carefully remove the bead stopper and tug firmly on the glued beads to ensure that they remain firmly attached to the wire. Examine the adjacent wire carefully, scraping off any tiny areas of cured epoxy residue with a utility blade. 

Trim the excess wire, testing the length of the remaining exposed wire at the tip with the memory wire end cap and leaving just slightly more than the depth of the end cap bead hole. If necessary, use the memory wire cutter to impress additional closely-spaced parallel indents into the exposed wire end.

Prepare a small amount of epoxy and glue on the bead cap, applying pressure with a gloved fingertip for at least 60 seconds as before, then prop the bracelet with the freshly glued tip facing up and allow it to cure fully.

Tug on the end cap bead to ensure it is well secured to the end of the wire.

Close-up photo of finished beaded coil wrap bracelet being worn on woman's wrist
I'm modeling the finished, one-of-a-kind, vintage beaded memory wire wrap bracelet I designed and made as a birthday gift for my dear friend Sally.

Wear or Give Your Beaded Coil Wrap Bracelet With Pride! 

Although I collect rare vintage glass beads and Swarovski crystal beads and love to use them in my jewelry designs, making beautiful beaded memory wire coil wrap bracelets can be as easy or challenging and as inexpensive or costly a project as you decide to make it. 

Wouldn't it be fun to get some inexpensive beads from craft stores and find and disassemble beaded jewelry at bargain prices from yard sales and thrift shops, then pick up some memory wire, a heavy duty wire cutter and some epoxy and invite your favorite teens or college students over for a jewelry making "play date?"

I hope you decide to give this beaded coil wrap bracelet project a try. If you do, I would love to see what you make!


How to Make a Stylish Beaded Coil Wrap Bracelet by Margaret Schindel

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