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

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

The Silent Lady Catherine Cookson Book Review

The Silent Lady Catherine Cookson Book Review

I recently picked up and read the last Catherine Cookson novel, The Silent Lady. It met the standards of the previous Cookson novels that I have read and I particularly enjoyed the dedication from the author, which starts, "This story was not meant to be written." What follows in that chapter is the story of how she wrote this novel when she was bedridden and believed that she was finished on this earth. I think that it is pretty amazing that someone could compose such a manuscript entirely in his or her head and then record it on cassette tape.

The Silent Lady is a historical novel, set in the richest and the poorest areas of London, England, and ranges in dates from the year 1929 to the year 1959.

The main character, Irene Baindor, becomes known in the pages of the book more simply as The Silent Lady. Unbeknownst to her new family she had been a lady of high society and a wife to a well-known and respected businessman. However, what family and friends did not know was that he was abusive. The story follows Irene as she trades that horrific position as his wife for a life on the streets in the poorest areas of London. It tells of kind folk who, though hardly able to feed themselves, were willing to help others that have less than they do. Thirty years later, after good times and bad, Cookson tidies the story of this lost lady up nicely.

The title on my copy of the book calls The Silent Lady Cookson's "magnificent final novel." I agree with the first part as I think that it was a magnificent novel and equal to any of her nearly 100 published books. However, it turns out that it was not the last book ever published bearing the author's name. It was published in 2001 and there are at least three books that were published after that date.

Find your copy of The Silent Lady here on Amazon.

See you
at the book store!

Quick Links:

Did I or didn't I read a Catherine Cookson novel that year?

Another great novel for fans of historical fiction.

How Did I Become A Bookworm in which Louanne discusses how she was introduced to Catherine Cookson by her grandmother.

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Beautiful Flowers That Last Forever: Pop-Up Bouquet Greeting Cards

Few things can brighten someone’s day as much as receiving a greeting card. As our routine communications are increasingly digital, receiving a paper greeting card in the mail or by hand is a delightful pleasure.

Today, I’m reviewing my favorite type: pop-up bouquet greeting cards.

Pop-up Floral Bouquet Greeting Cards

My husband and I love gifting pop-up floral bouquet greeting cards for birthdays, Valentine’s Day, anniversaries, and other special occasions, and “just because” (the best occasion to receive a greeting card!). These cleverly designed laser-cut paper cards fold flat for mailing and then unfold to become 3-D paper bouquets.

Best of all, unlike traditional flowers, the recipient can cherish, display, and enjoy these beautiful blooms forever.

Why We Love Giving (and Getting) Pop-up Flower Bouquet Greeting Cards

Here are some compelling benefits of choosing these greeting cards to send for a special occasion or "just because:"

Exquisite Details

Different manufacturers offer different levels of quality. Lovepop's pop-up flower bouquet cards are extremely detailed and exquisite. The intricate laser-cut designs and vibrant color printing create a stunning visual impact, transforming a simple card into a work of art. The precision and attention to detail in these pop-up cards showcase the craftsmanship behind each creation.

Lovepop hibiscus pop-up flower bouquet laser-cut greeting card
The 10.25" tall Lovepop hibiscus flower bouquet greeting card I gave my husband lives in his home office so he can look at it often.

A Thoughtful Choice

By selecting a die-cut or laser-cut, pop-up floral bouquet card, you demonstrate the effort you've put into choosing a unique and thoughtful greeting. It adds a personal touch to your message, showing you've gone the extra mile to make the recipient feel cherished.

Halmark rose plant pop-up bouquet greeting card
This die-cut Hallmark rose pop-up bouquet is smaller and less intricate than the laser-cut Lovepop pop-up bouquet greeting cards, but no less lovely!

A Memorable Impression

Laser-cut pop-up flower bouquet greeting cards make a lasting impression. Both the beauty and unusual format of these cards make your message stand out, bring your sentiments to life in a visually striking way, and create a memorable experience for the recipients that will make them feel extra special.

A Cherished Keepsake and Memento

A beautiful 3-D paper flower bouquet greeting card is more likely to be kept as a cherished memento than a traditional card. Many recipients find them too beautiful to part with and choose to display them as a decorative piece, constantly reminding them of the special moment. For example, my husband displays the paper hibiscus bouquet card I gave him on the filing cabinet in his office.

A Year-Round Miniature Indoor Garden

The moment your recipient opens your floral bouquet card, they are greeted with a burst of vibrant colors and a three-dimensional floral arrangement. It's not just a card; it's a miniature garden that comes to life, instantly uplifting that person's spirits and spreading joy. As you can see in my photos, our paper pop-up bouquet greeting cards are a welcome splash of bright color even in the middle of winter!

Hallmark and Lovepop pop-up bouquet greeting cards

Not Just a Card, But a Gift

Laser-cut, 3-D pop-up bouquet greeting cards are more expensive than traditional 2-D cards, but they're also lasting gifts rather than just greetings. It's a way to send a beautiful bouquet of flowers that won't wilt or die after a week and can be enjoyed indefinitely. When viewed that way, I think they're well worth the extra cost. Lovepop's mini bouquets are also roughly half the price of their larger counterparts.

Make Someone's Day With a Pop-up Flower Bouquet

Make your heartfelt messages blossom with these charming and memorable greeting cards. Why not make someone's day by sending them a beautiful laser-cut flower bouquet? Here are some of my current favorites available on Amazon, with free delivery for Amazon Prime members.

Beautiful Pop-Up 3-D Floral Bouquet Greeting Cards

Beautiful Flowers That Last Forever: Pop-Up Bouquet Greeting Cards by Margaret Schindel

Read More Gift Reviews by Our Review This Reviews Contributors

Read More Product Reviews by Our Review This Reviews Contributors

Read More Valentine's Day Reviews by Our Review This Reviews Contributors

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Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”

Sunday, January 21, 2024

Recommended Throw Blankets with Inspirational Messages

Recommended Throw Blankets with Inspirational Messages

One of my favorite gifts to give revolves around the warmth of throw blankets paired with uplifting messages. 

I'm particularly drawn to throw blankets that convey beautiful sentiments explicitly tailored to the recipient. In my quest for such heartfelt gifts, I stumbled upon ButterTree, an Amazon-based business that has become my go-to for inspirational throw blankets.

A Personal Touch with ButterTree's Inspirational Blankets

Recently, I purchased two inspirational blankets from ButterTree, and the response from my friend was overwhelmingly positive – she absolutely loved it! 

Despite being an Amazon shopper who usually prioritizes products over their providers, ButterTree has left a lasting impression. The prospect of finding another soul-soothing throw blanket would undoubtedly lead me back to their products.

Avoiding International Shipping Fees is Important to Me, As Is a Timely Delivery

When sourcing these blankets, I often encounter the challenges of high costs or international shipping with potential duties and import fees. However, ButterTree blankets eliminate these concerns. 

Living in Canada, the swift delivery – often within one or two days, especially in cities – is a significant plus. The affordability of their blankets, particularly in the Canadian market, pleasantly surprised me. Even more so for our friends in the USA, who enjoy even better prices.

A Unique Gift That Lasts

What sets these blankets apart is their ability to transform a simple gift into a meaningful, personal gesture. 

Whenever I'm seeking a special touch for a present, these inspirational throw blankets from ButterTree consistently deliver. They offer a lasting gift that envelops the recipient in words of kindness, inspiration, and love. 

They have become a staple in my gift-giving repertoire, adding a touch of magic to every occasion.

In my eyes, these blankets from ButterTree unquestionably earn a five-star rating ★★★★★. 

You can view the inspirational message blankets by ButterTree here on Amazon.

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Barbie Board Games: A Discussion and List

Here's a collection and a list of new, used and vintage Barbie board games complete with a list.
Anyone who loves Barbie and board games might find themselves wondering, as I did, what Barbie-themed board games are available. A simple search revealed the short list of Barbie-themed games that I review here on this page. However, the more I looked the more games I found and so you will also find on this page a longer list of games at the bottom of this page. This list may help you if you are seeking a particular game from a specific time period. Most of the games on this page (including on the list) are vintage but there are a couple of new games that were released along with the hit Barbie movie in 2023.


First up is the game with a blue cover shown above called simply, The Barbie Game. It was released by Mattel in 1960 and could well be the first game ever made. Beware that there are two versions of Queen of the Prom as it was re-released in 1994. Both are vintage games but have a decidedly different appearance.

The description of the game on the box of the newer version reads, “You are Barbie. Win if you are the first crowned Queen of the Prom. To win you must have a steady boyfriend, a prom dress and be elected president of a school club. Midge, Skipper and Ken share the fun.”

What fun it is to see the original game in this 1960s television commercial:


This vintage 1980 game was released by Whitman. The description on the back of the box reads, “Travel with Barbie by car and plane on her tour and visit movie studios, grand openings, charity telethons and more. If you are first to appear three times and then reach the awards presentation, you win.” It evokes all of the excitement of a glamorous life in the 1980s. 


The Barbie Dream Date game was released by Golden in 1992. In this game, “…girls play the Dream Date Game with Barbie and Ken! Ken picks out beautiful gifts for Barbie and might take her horseback riding, snow skiing or maybe even to a ball! Players collect gifts for Barbie, moving around the board and taking photos of their dates. At midnight, the individual with the most gift and date cards wins!” The cover definitely reminds me of the 1990s.


Another Golden release, this game was created in 1993. In this one you “play with a Barbie doll trying to be the first player to collect all of Barbie’s fashion accessories without getting a broken heart.” This game would be especially fun for anyone who loves fashion.


Monopoly has released hundreds or more likely thousands of board games on every theme you can possibly think of. Monopolyland says estimates range between 300 and 7,000 games and that the largest known collection of Monopoly games claims to have 3,500 games. Anyway, when I looked, I could find two Barbie versions. 

This is the official Barbie Monopoly board game that was released in conjunction with the 2023 movie, Barbie.

The first version was the Barbie Boutique Edition from 2007, which was packed in a pretty pink box. Finding a description of it proved difficult though pictures show that it was beautifully presented in a jewelry-style box.

The second version was official movie merchandise that was released in tandem with the movie Barbie. It is widely available and the box reads, “You can be anything with Barbie…Follow your dreams around the board. Buy famous streets, build DreamHouses and draw Dream Closet and Dream Career cards for extra twists. Flex your unique skills, dream a bit, own it all and be anything!” I expect a lot of people received this version of the game for Christmas in 2023. If you are interested, you can find Barbie Monopoly on Amazon by clicking here.


As I was reading about the games mentioned above, I kept discovering more new, used and vintage Barbie-themed games. I guess that is not really surprising given the length of time that Barbie has been around. The gaps in years tells me that this list is not likely complete but here’s my list, not definitive, but definitely long, arranged in chronological order: 

Queen of the Prom Game (1960)
Keys to Fame Game (1963)
Skipper: Barbie's Little Sister (1964)
The Barbie World of Fashion game (1967)
Miss Lively Livin’ (1970)
Take a Personal Appearance Tour with Barbie. (1980)
Charms the World (1985)
Barbie Meets Ken in the Game of Their Dreams! (1987)
Just Us Girls (1989)
Shopping Spree Card Game (1991)
We Girls Can Do Anything (1991)
Dream Date (1992)
Fun Fashions Memory Game (1992)
Butterfly Princess (1995)
Dress Up Game (1995)
Sparkle Kingdom Game (1996)
Go Shopping! (1999)
Enchanted 3-D Game (2001)
Barbie Says (2002)
UNO: Barbie (2002)
Barbie of Swan Lake (2003)
Rapunzel (2003)
The Nutcracker Playset Game (2003)
UNO: Barbie California Girl (2004)
The Princess and the Pauper Game (2004)
Guess the Look! (2004)
Barbie in the 12 Dancing Princesses (2006)
Barbie and the Magic of Pegasus (2005)
World of Models (2008)
Race to the Party Game (2010)
Shopping Day (2011)
Charmed Travels (2011)
Fashion City (2011)
Gems! (2012)
Bring The Bling Game (2012)
Shop with Barbie (2013)
UNO: Barbie The Movie (2023)
Monopoly: Barbie Movie (2023)


If you are searching for any of these games, new, used or vintage, I suggest following this link to eBay's collection of new, used and vintage Barbie board games. There you will find many of these games in assorted condition. New games that are out of production will likely cost more. However, if you shop carefully, you can likely find a used game that is in good condition. 

Have I missed a Barbie game that you used to play?

See you
At the toy store!
Treasures By Brenda


For Barbie enthusiasts who love to build, there's a collection of fun Mega Bloks sets.

Barbie in my eBay Store
Discover what's in store! 

My Barbie Doll Memories 
I was a child when Barbie was released. Discover a few of my earliest Barbie memories.

Uncover my pick of the best Barbie movie gift idea.

Discover the movie fashioned after Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds movie!

Barbie games

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

The Best Ultrasonic Humidifier: Ultra Quiet, Easy to Clean & Fill

We live in New England, where the winters are cold and the indoor air is dry from the heating system. I am also susceptible to respiratory illnesses such as colds, flu, bronchitis, and pneumonia in the winter, so using a humidifier is necessary for both health and comfort.

We have found that ultrasonic humidifiers, which we prefer for reasons I'll go into below, tend to last only a few years. So, we have tried a variety of brands and models. The Levoit LV600S Smart Hybrid Ultrasonic Humidifier we purchased a month ago is our favorite by far.

Levoit LV600S Smart Hybrid Ultrasonic Humidifier
The Levoit LV600S is the New York Times Wirecutter's top pick as
The Best Humidifier of 2023. We love ours!

How to Choose a Room Humidifier

After purchasing multiple humidifiers over the years and doing a lot of product research before each purchase, we've gotten good at choosing a good one. Here are the key considerations when shopping for a humidifier.


There are four main types of portable room humidifiers we considered, which differ based on how the humidity is generated.

Warm mist humidifiers heat the water to create the vapor, i.e., steam. They're great for cold, dry winter climates like ours, and the heat cuts down on germs and bacterial contamination. We have found that they can create a lot of humidity — sometimes too much if you don't keep an eye on the moisture levels. However, warm mist units tend to be noisy, use more energy, and be more difficult to clean than cool mist models. Also, if you have children or pets, a reservoir filled with boiling water may not be the safest choice.

Cool mist units increase the humidity of the room without raising the temperature, so they're ideal for dry, warm climates. They tend to be pretty energy efficient. The units emit a humming sound that may bother some people, while others may experience it as "white noise" that is acceptable. We have found that they can be prone to developing mold and mildew and need to be cleaned more frequently than other types.

Evaporative humidifiers are a subset of the cool mist category. These units create vapor by using a fan to blow air through a moist filter, speeding up the natural process of evaporation, and that vapor is emitted or blown into the room. Like other cool mist models, evaporative humidifiers are safe for children and pets (because the mist is cool or room temperature), and are energy efficient. The filter needs to be changed regularly.

Ultrasonic humidifiers use high-frequency sound vibrations to break the water into droplets, which are then expelled into the air. These units are very energy efficient and extremely quiet, making them a great choice for bedrooms. Many models offer the option of producing cool or warm mist. They may or may not require a filter.

After having tried several types, we prefer an ultrasonic.

Size of Room

As with choosing an air conditioner or space heater, it's important to choose a model designed for rooms of a similar size to the one for which you are purchasing the unit. The power of whatever is creating the mist determines the volume of space the unit can humidify.

Reservoir Capacity

The size of the reservoir determines how long the unit can produce vapor (not how much it can produce) and, therefore, how often you will need to refill it. For that reason, it's important to make sure the reservoir is at least large enough to continue producing mist throughout the night, while you are sleeping.

I look for a large-capacity reservoir that I can fill only once or twice a day.

Ease of Filling

A top-fill reservoir is much easier to fill than a bottom-fill tank. A top-fill reservoir can be filled without removing it from the base unit, whereas a bottom-fill reservoir must be lifted off the base, carried to a faucet, and inverted under the tap to fill it. This can be messy (the water drips) and, if you have a large tank, heavy after you fill it.

Our last ultrasonic humidifier had a bottom-fill reservoir, and we hated it. The sink in our master bedroom's en-suite bathroom is old and small, and we couldn't get the opening of the reservoir under the faucet. That meant we had to carry the dripping tank to and from the kitchen.

Also, since a humidifier should only be on when the reservoir is in place, we had to remember to turn off the power, remove the tank, fill it, replace it, and turn the unit back on.

Ease of Cleaning

It's important to clean your humidifier frequently to avoid breathing vapor filled with germs, mold, and mildew. So, choosing a model that is easy to clean has become one of our top criteria.

Consider the size of the reservoir opening (can you reach inside easily?), and the size and number of corners, nooks, and crannies in the base and tank.


Consider whether you want manual or automatic controls or a choice. For example, you might want to manually set the rate at which the unit produces mist (regardless of the ambient humidity level), or you might want to set a target humidity level and let the unit automatically start and stop producing vapor as needed to maintain that humidity.

If you live in a climate where the humidity is fairly constant, manual controls are fine. However, if you live in an area with more variable weather conditions, like New England (where the saying goes, "If you don't like the weather, just wait a minute"), a unit with an automatic setting to maintain a target humidity level will be important.

Price of Consumables

Some types and models require water filters, mineral absorption pads, or other consumables, some of which may be optional (like the aroma pads for our new unit) or may depend on whether you have hard or soft water in your house.

It's important to determine which consumables, if any, are required, how often they will need to be replaced, and how much they cost, to help you determine the total cost of ownership over the expected lifetime of the product.

Customer and Expert Product Reviews and Recommendations

When my husband and I are researching products like humidifiers, we always do our due diligence. We comb through Amazon product reviews and look to expert product reviews and recommendations such as those from Consumer Reports and The New York Times Wirecutter to help us narrow our short list of candidates and finalize our product selection.

Levoit LV600S ultrasonic humidifier and filtered water pitcher
The Levoit LV600S Smart Hybrid Ultrasonic Humidifier can crank out plenty of humidity when needed, and for a long time, thanks to its powerful output and large-capacity, 6-liter water tank.

Why We Love the Levoit LV600S Smart Hybrid Ultrasonic Humidifier

After trying so many different humidifiers over the years, here are the reasons we love our new Levoit LV600S humidifier.

The NYT Wirecutter's Top Pick

This ultrasonic humidifier topped our list of candidates after we read the New York Times Wirecutter article "The 6 Best Humidifiers of 2023" and saw that the Levoit LV600S Smart Hybrid Ultrasonic Humidifier was their top pick. That was a compelling expert recommendation, and when we looked at the Amazon customer reviews for this product we were extremely impressed with the overwhelmingly positive feedback.

Hybrid Warm/Cool Mist Ultrasonic

If you're not sure which type to buy, the Levoit LV600S Smart Hybrid Ultrasonic Humidifier gives you the best of all worlds. This model defaults to cool mist, but there is a Warm Mist button that cycles through your choice of warm mist settings (low heat, medium heat, high heat, heat off).

For example, if someone is sick and has chest congestion, you can select one of the warm mist options to help them breathe easier.

The brand's "exclusive" Warm Mist mode claims to have improved mist dispersion and a powerful output: "Set at 550ml/h, the warm mist function generates temperature variation, boosting air circulation for 4× faster relief from discomfort" vs. cool mist.

There is also no risk of being scalded by hot vapor, as the mist is released at a safe temperature of 86-120 °F.

Designed for a Large Room

With its powerful 550ml/h output, the Levoit LV600S is designed to humidify an area as large as 753 square feet. 

Large Reservoir

One of the things we love about this model is the large 6-liter capacity reservoir. We keep our humidifier cranking 24/7 during the cold, dry, New England winter months, and although we top up the water daily, the tank is usually still about half full after 24 hours.

Depending on the settings, the manufacturer claims the unit can produce humidifying mist for up to 50 hours on a single tank of water.

Easy to Fill

The Levoit LV600S is a top-fill model. So, instead of having to turn off the power, remove the water tank, carry it to the sink, turn it over, unscrew the cap, maneuver it under the tap, fill it, replace and tighten the cap, carry it back to the base, and seat it properly before turning the power on again, as we did with our previous model, we can just lift the lid, top up the tank with filtered water from our Brita pitcher, and replace the lid. Easy peasy!

Easy to Clean

This is by far the easiest-to-clean ultrasonic humidifier we have owned. The large opening in the tank makes it easy to reach inside, and the interior corners of both the base and the water tank are very accessible. The cleaning brush that comes with this model is also larger than those from our previous units.

Ease of Operation

The Levoit LV600S has simple, intuitively labeled buttons on the front control panel and a large, easy-to-read, digital display (which is turned off automatically in Sleep Mode).

Automatic Humidity Control

Since we live in New England, the ability to have the unit adjust the volume of mist output automatically to maintain a desired target humidity level is essential. We love this set-it-and-foreget-it mode. However, you can also set the mist output level manually, if you prefer.

Reasonably Priced Consumables

The Levoit Replacement Mineral Absorption Pads should be replaced every 2–4 weeks depending on the hardness of your tap water. A pack of 10 costs $9.99 on Amazon at the time of this post's publication. You can also find less expensive replacement pads that claim to be compatible with this model.

The Levoit Water Filter Sponges should be changed about once a month, depending on the water hardness in your area. At the time of this article's publication, a 10-pack costs $9.99 on Amazon.

There are also optional Levoit Aroma Pads that can be used with essential oils and placed in the Aroma Box compartment at the back of the base. The mist will diffuse the aroma when the humidifier is in use. A pack of 16 costs $9.99 on Amazon as of this writing.

Extremely Quiet

At a noise level of less than 28dB, the default unheated, cool mist mode is practically silent, which we love. The sound increases when the Warm Mist settings are used to heat the water, but this model is still extremely quiet compared to our previous humidifiers.

Sleep Mode

The Sleep Mode turns off the lighted controls display and changes the mist setting from a manual mode (if applicable) to an automatic mode and uses the humidity sensor to automatically adjust the mist level to maintain 50-60% relative humidity. 

Sleep Mode also turns off the warm mist, if applicable, to reduce noise, but you can press the Warm Mist button to turn it back on if desired.

My husband can't sleep well unless our bedroom is completely dark, so being able to keep the display turned off is a great feature for us. We keep our set to Sleep Mode all the time unless we need to change a setting manually, which makes this appliance much more unobtrusive.

Minimal "White Dust"

After running our Levoit LV600S nonstop for the past month and filling it with filtered tap water from our Brita pitcher, we still haven't seen any sign of the dreaded mineral residue on our furniture or floors.


Although we have not yet needed to use it, you can set a timer to automatically shut off the unit after a preset interval (between one and 12 hours).

Memory Function

This model will remember your Mist Level, Humidity Level, Warm Mist, and Wi-Fi settings even when the unit is turned off or unplugged. It will not remember your Sleep or Timer settings, however, and the display will turn on automatically when the unit is turned back on.

Aroma Box

At the back of the base, there is a compartment called the Aroma Box. You can pull it out, put 8–10 drops of essential oil onto an Aroma Pad, place the scented pad into the compartment, and replace it. This will lightly scent the water vapor. We have not tried this yet.

“No Water” Indicator With Auto-Shutoff

If there is no water in the tank, this indicator will blink 10 times and the humidifier will shut off automatically. The indicator lights up when the water tank is removed and remains on until the tank is re-seated on the base.

Mobile App

What makes the Levoit LV600S Smart Hybrid Ultrasonic Humidifier "smart" is that it is Bluetooth- and VeSync-enabled. VeSync is a smart home app that allows you to control connected devices remotely from anywhere.
Screenshot of the VeSync smart home mobile app on my iPhone. The app lets you
control your humidifier and other VeSync-enabled devices from your smartphone.

We only started using the app this week, and it's a great option with an extremely intuitive, easy-to-use interface. It's also nice to know that we will be able to control our humidifier remotely when we travel.

The app allows also you to access additional smart functions including a sophisticated Plant Mode and is compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant for voice commands.

Sleek Design

Although appearance is less important to us than function and features when we choose an ultrasonic humidifier, this one has the advantage of looking streamlined and unobtrusive and doesn't detract from our home decor. A nice bonus!

Helpful Humidifier Tips

Optimize the Humidity Level

If you live in a climate with cold winters, keep the humidity level low enough so the mist doesn't condense on your windows (and potentially rot the wood window frames).

Consider a Standalone Indoor Hygrometer

A humidifier's built-in humidity sensor (humidistat) measures the humidity in the immediate vicinity. For a more accurate measure of the room's humidity, we put an inexpensive indoor hygrometer on the far side of the room and set the humidifier's target humidity so that our desired humidity level displays on the hygrometer.

Protect Against Possible Leaks

The only time we had an ultrasonic humidifier leak, it was the result of user error. (It had a bottom-fill tank and when we refilled and replaced it on the base, we didn't seat the reservoir correctly, so the water leaked onto the table.) So, as a precaution, we now put our ultrasonic humidifiers on an old plastic cutting board on top of a sturdy plastic 12-gallon lidded storage container. The cutting board provides a stable surface for the unit to sit on, and the interlocking flaps at the top of the crate are not water-tight, so if there is ever a leak, the water would fall through the interlocking flaps and be contained inside the crate with no risk of damaging our hardwood floors.

If you want to keep the humidifier manual and consumable supplies (e.g., filters) next to the humidifier, as we do, put them in a zippered plastic freezer bag to keep them dry and protect against possible leaks.

Use Distilled or Filtered Tap Water

If your tap water is hard, you can cut down significantly on the dreaded white mineral dust (the residue from the minerals in the water after the emitted mist evaporates) by using distilled or filtered water. We keep a Brita water filter pitcher next to our humidifier and use the filtered water to refill the reservoir.

In fact, the manufacturer of our model recommends that all users use distilled water or filtered water to fill the Levoit LV600S Smart Hybrid Ultrasonic Humidifier instead of tap water, which they say "might leave white dust and grow mold."

Give the Gift of Health and Comfort

If you know someone who lives in a cold or dry climate, has respiratory issues, or gets colds easily, the Levoit LV600S Smart Hybrid Ultrasonic Humidifier would make a great gift!

The Best Ultrasonic Humidifier: Ultra Quiet, Easy to Clean & Fill by Margaret Schindel

Read More Product Reviews by Our Review This Reviews Contributors

Read More Gift Reviews by Our Review This Reviews Contributors

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Read More Health Reviews by Our Review This Reviews Contributors

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”

Monday, December 18, 2023

Reviewing The Republic of Tea Ginger Peach

I recently purchased Ginger Peach full-leaf loose tea from The Republic of Tea and enjoy it so much that I had to make sure to share a review with you. As I am trying to make the move away from soda and toward more natural drinks, I have purchased several different teas and this, by far, is my favorite new tea.

Package of tea
Delicious Ginger Peach Tea

I am not a tea connoisseur. Far from it. However, I know what I like and what I don't like. I do not like sugary, syrupy teas or teas that have what seems like an artifical flavor. Most of the bottled teas that I have tried seem to fall into those categories. So I have been experimenting with herbal teas, such as Mullein, that I have harvested from my yard. I also enjoy Chamomile and plan to grow and harvest my own. In the meantime, I've purchased a large tea cup with a lid and infuser and have begun ordering small amounts of loose leaf tea. 

The Republic of Tea -- Ginger Peach

I purchased a 3.5 oz bag (steeps 50 cups) of full-leaf loose Ginger Peach Black Tea. The packaging describes it as:

"This full-leaf tea offers the natural flavors of a lush, juicy peach seasoned with the tingle of spicy ginger, creating a fresh and flavorful cup" 

I believe that description to be accurate. The peach flavor is wonderful, much like eating a fresh peach on a late summer day balanced with the earthy, spicy flavor of the ginger.

The ingredients list is: Black tea leaves, natural flavor, and ginger.

The packaging is a waxy-like, foil-lined, recloseble envelope. This envelope has kept my tea fresh and at my fingertips on the shelf. 

I chose the Ginger Peach for the possible health benefits and flavor of Ginger.  Because I am not a medical professional I will not repeat the alleged benefits of Ginger, Turmeric, and other herbs and roots. You may have already heard some of the reported health benefits. If not, there is a ton of opinions to be found with an internet search.  I do believe that there are likely some health benefits and if not, I do enjoy the spicy, earthy, or peppery flavors that these herbs and roots provide. I especially like the sweet peach and peppery ginger flavor combination.

Making Loose Left Tea for One

I use my Mueller electric pot to boil the water quickly (and without fear of leaving the stove on as I leave for work in the mornings) and my new tea mug with infuser to steep the tea. Because I prefer iced tea, I then pour my tea into a mason jar filled with ice with top with one of my mason jar lids and a straw. The Ginger Peach tea is delicious warm or iced. I just prefer iced tea. 

I ordered my Ginger Peach tea from Amazon. But the Republic of Tea website is great place to shop also. Whether you are shopping for yourself or a gift from someone else, there is a large variety of teas, sweeteners, mugs, and brewing accessories to choose from 

Additional Links:

I bought my Mueller Electric Kettle in January 2021 and I still use it on a frequent basis. This Kettle is a quality small appliance and hasn't given me a bit of trouble. If you'd like more information you can see my review here. 

I have tried a variety of infusers off and on over the years. My new mug is my favorite by far. I chose the Sweese ceramic 20 oz mug with lid and infuser. The infuser is durable with very small holes; not allowing the tea leaves to end up in my drink. The 20 oz size is great for making my single cup of iced tea. This mug would make a great gift.

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”

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.

This set of three Luminara melted edge wax pillar candles is one of the company'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.

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

Elegant 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 come in classic ivory as well as a variety of colors for a more contemporary style.

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

Another of my favorite flameless candle styles is this hand-poured Luminara wax pillar wrapped in genuine birch bark.

Every time I see one in a store I am tempted to add one to our collection. We bought one as a gift for my mother-in-law this Christmas and she loves it!

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.)

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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