Showing posts with label Olivia Morris. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Olivia Morris. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Mid Summer Heat and Your Garden, It's Time to Rejuvenate!

Oh the Summer of 2019 will probably go down as one of the better ones we have had in a long time.  But, the heat can do some pretty mean things to your garden.  Let's do a quick review on how you can make those baskets and annuals look a little nicer than they do right now!

When May and June rolled around, everyone was just so happy to see the weather become warmer.  Garden centers everywhere were busy selling plants of every kind under the sun to people who had the worst cases of itchy fingers ever!

Who didn't go out to buy at least one or two hanging planters with bright colored geraniums or petunias?  I know I did and the garden centers thanked me.  

This is what they looked like when I bought them:

*photo from pixabay

Now that we are well into August, they are looking tired and sparse.  The stems that were so full of flower buds, have elongated into wisps of bare stems with maybe a flower or two at the end of the stem.  Nothing at all like they looked when I first purchased them.

                                            portulaca looking sad

But wait a minute, these plants can be revitalized with just a little tender loving care.  I'm here to help you make the next two to three months much nicer again with the same plants that you already have.

How to Revitalize Your Plants 

Let's get started.  

Cut back the long strands of petunias, calibracoas, or moss roses (portulaca). Dead-head your geraniums so that more flower heads will appear.  

1. Let the plant dry out just a little, so that you can remove it from it's hanging pot.
When you have the plant out, place it (soil ball and plant) into a pail of water.  You will notice that the soil around the plant has probably gotten very solid and holds the shape of the pot it was in.  That is part of the problem.  When you water this plant, the water just falls right out of the bottom of the pot.  The soil no longer holds any water close to the roots.  We need to fix that!  

2.  Take the roots and gently pry them apart (or if you are not too scared, take a knife and cut the root ball into quarters)   Do this inside the pail and place the pieces back into water.  You may notice that some of the old soil is starting to fall away from the roots.  Don't worry, that's what you want to have happen.  

3.  Get some fresh potting soil.  I like to use Miracle Gro soil.** I'll tell you why later.  Now take those quarters and place two or three back into the hanging pot.  Fill the rest of the space with fresh soil and water well.  You can even bury the crown of the plant in the new soil.

4.  Leave these plants in the shade for a day or two, just to give them some time to get over the shock.  Keep them watered well, but not drowning.  

5.  In a week, you should be able to see new growth coming up from the original root system.  In two weeks they will look like brand new plants, even though there isn't a garden center around with fresh planters.  

6.  Sit back, relax and enjoy your hanging baskets for another two months or more.  

If your hanging baskets are full of annuals, they will  keep blooming until frost arrives and that could be late October or November even.  They will slow down in blooming naturally once the long summer days are done, but they will bloom!  They will also look so much nicer than those long wisps with only one flower on the end of each stem.   

Now why do I like Miracle Grow Soil?**  I told you earlier that I would explain.  So here it is:
Purchased hanging planters from Pop-up Garden centers use plain potting soil for their planters (it's cheaper).  Miracle Gro soil is not just soil, but Sphagnum peat moss, perlite and compost.  It is also infused with Miracle Gro fertilizers that are time released for better blooms and healthier plants.  I have used this for years and I can't remember ever having a summer of disappointment with my hanging plants.  Now that I am in my apartment, I use this type of soil in all my balcony planters too. 




Annual plants are wonderful for their color, long lasting blooming period and they are not too expensive either.  So you really get a good bang for your buck.  At then end of the season, remember to compost your annuals or if you are really keen, start seed saving so that next year you can make your own hanging baskets with Miracle Gro soil from the start and seeds that you have saved.  

You can find out more about seed saving on another review right here: Let's Review The Best Proven Seed Saving Practices





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Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Summer's Bounty How to Make the Best of It!


Reviewing the Gardenmaster Food Dehydrator 


Summertime is here and the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables is upon us!  Let's review how to enjoy all of this goodness now and later too!   Food Dehydrators are not new, but they may be new to you!

If you are a gardener, I'm sure that your little (or big) plot is starting to show signs that there will be a good crop of some fruits and vegetables coming soon.  If you are anything like me, you can hardly wait for that first ripe tomato.  Everyday you go to the garden to see its growth.  Then it starts to turn red and the excitement is almost palpable.  Okay, I'm a little crazy for my fresh fruits and veggies.

Right now we are in the height of strawberry season, so you know where I will be.  Off to my closest "pick your own" patch to indulge in early summer sweetness.  After I have eaten my fill, made some jam and eaten some more, there will still be strawberries that I need to process somehow.

Now this is where my product review starts!  


Have you ever thought about buying a Food Dehydrator and drying the rest?  There are several ways that you can make the freshness of this seasons fruits and vegetables last through the year.  Making jams, jellies and chutneys are one way.  Preserving and canning is another. But wait, there is still the other option and that is to dry the goodness for use later!  Easy and quick too!  No more wasting your food dollars.



We purchased a  Food Dehydrator a couple of years ago, when my other half decided to make his own beef jerky.  Yes, you can make your own beef jerky, but that is not what I do.

I use this dehydrator to keep all my herbs, tomatoes, carrots, peppers and all other manner of fruits and vegetables for my winter time cooking.  I get the same flavor as I would if I had just harvested my garden.  I can also take advantage of the farmer's markets and buy more fresh produce, both for use now and for dehydration and use for later.


These pictures show you how I just finished drying a whole bunch of parley and basil.  It took less than an hour and my parsley flakes are beautiful in color and smell.  The basil dried to a light brown, but the smell is incredible. I will use these throughout the fall and winter in my recipes.


No more buying fruit roll ups with their questionable ingredients.  Make your own and you will know exactly what is in that delicious dried fruit.  To make fruit roll ups you will need to purchase some non-stick sheets that fit into the dehydrator.  This will keep the fruit from falling through the grids in the different layers.  You can make different fruit bars all at the same time.  Fresh and flavorful with no additives and preservatives.  Just plain really good fruit!



Save money by letting less of your food dollars go to waste!

We in the West are known for our mishandling of our food dollars.  So much of what we buy ends up in the garbage, wasted and useless.  Don't let this be your story!

Preparing foods for dehydration is not a difficult task.  Just wash your veggies and fruits well, cut them up, place them into the trays and set it on!

Your fruits and veggies will be ready in a few hours depending on what you are drying. Beef jerky takes a little longer, but oh my is the taste ever delicious.  It has store bought beat hands down.


Food Dehydrator and Recipe Book included!


Don't be afraid to try new things.  This food dehydrator will have you saving all those fruits, vegetables and spices without thinking twice.  No more buying fresh herbs for a recipe and then throwing away the rest.  Dry it instead, so that next time you need it, it is there for you!  Once you get the hang of it, you will find that you will waste less and really enjoy the fresh taste of homemade!


The only Accessory you might need:


If you are making fruit roll ups, you will need the non-stick mats that fit right into the trays.  Because of the sugar content in fresh fruit, you will have a sticky mess without these sheets.  They are inexpensive and will help you make better use use of the dehydrator!


I hope I have given you something that you can work with and enjoy for many years to come.  Fresh food and flavors that are just out of this world, can be yours, with a little work!  Your family will enjoy the benefits and the healthy snacks that will be made right at home in your kitchen.  










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Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Summertime Fun Our First Priority is Safety

Summertime is a Great Adventure!

Many families will take holidays over this period of time and look forward to spending time with their children.  Let's Review some products that you absolutely MUST HAVE!  These items will help to make your summer the best that it can be!  

summertime safety, flotation devices for children, first aid kits, staying safe

                                    
Image by lilacsandlavendertea from Pixabay


Many families will be getting together over the next two months to reconnect with their loved ones.  That's one thing that makes summer so much fun.  Whether you stay close to home or travel further afield, good company makes the journey that much more special.  Memories will be etched in our minds of the Summer of 2019!  Let's make it a summer to remember with smiles and laughter!


As adults, our children's health and safety is up to us!  

If we are going to the lake or the local swimming pool (or the one in the backyard if you are so lucky), our children will look to us to keep them from harm.  That means having some rules in place!  What prompts this review is a headline I saw a few days ago on one of the news feeds about parents being distracted by their cell phones, especially around pools of water.  

We all know that it doesn't take more than a few inches of water for a child to drown.  This is a most preventable accident.  If you have children and a pool or lake that you are using for holiday time, your attention needs to be on your children.  I'm not saying a cell phone isn't a handy item to have close by (there could always be an emergency), but when the children are in the body of water, they need your attention all the time.  

Being prepared for children in the pool is another whole issue.  If your children swim, but are not proficient at swimming, they should be wearing life vests or some flotation device.   No exceptions!

We as parents need to make that perfectly clear to our children.  No flotation device equals no pool time!  Period!  

Flotation devices are inexpensive and will make your time ( you and your children's time) in the pool so much more fun.  Children who have not yet mastered their swimming skills will enjoy hours of water fun with relative ease and the certainty that they won't drown.  Most flotation devices are held up to standards that ensure the safety of the wearer.  Nothing, and I will repeat that, Nothing is more important that having a responsible adult watching, while they are having fun.  

For less than $20.00 you can give yourself and your child a little added comfort in the water.  You want to get your child a vest that is Certified by the Coast Guard (USA) or Canadian Standards Association (CSA).  This little vest is cute and will fit most children between 30- 50 pounds.  There is no reason not to have one for each of your children.  I would even say you must have one for each of your children, especially if you have a pool in your yard.  
They come in several different styles, so even if you have 2 or more children, each one can have the one they like the best! This is a " #1 Best Seller" on Amazon. It is a small price to pay for some peace of mind while watching more than one child in a pool. Nothing is more important than the safety of our children.

Now hopefully summer is nice and warm, with sunshine making up the better part of the day, so one other safety item I would recommend would be SUNSCREEN!  Not too long ago Margaret wrote about them and her review is worth a good read.  What you put on your children's skin to keep them from getting burnt to a crisp is important.  You can read all about it here!
You don't want your children to suffer from the effects of too much sun on their skin in their later years.  
The only other safety item I would like to see in everyone's home, is a good First Aid Kit.  If you have children, then you know there will be scrapes, cuts and bruises.  Part of being a child is riding bikes, roller blading, skateboarding and just running around.  Accidents will happen even if you take the best precautions.  Like the Scouts, I would say, Be Prepared

This First Aid Kit is a great addition to anyone's car, boat, trailer or home! Sometimes a bandage just isn't enough.  Summertime and being prepared for all possible accidents will make you a more relaxed parent.  You know that you can handle almost anything that your children might need to stop the tears, and start the healing.  

Your cell phone will be handy too, but only to make an emergency call if necessary!  Do not let yourself become distracted.  Your little ones are much more important than anything that you could have happening on your phone.  It is for emergencies only.



I would like to take this opportunity to wish you and your families a wonderful, relaxed and fun filled summer!  Stay safe and enjoy all the good things Summer has to offer!





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Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Option Ocean: Navigating the Sea of Possibility A Book Review

Devotional, spiritual, christian books
                                                           
Image by RENE RAUSCHENBERGER from Pixabay


Option Ocean: Navigating the Seas of Possibility is categorized in the Christian Devotional category on Amazon.com.  

 **Warning, Warning**  It is more than just a book to be read, it is a workbook!   Just published on May 28th 2019, it is the second book in a set of inspirational books written by Kristi Bridges.  Unlike other books (like a good novel), this book is so much better if you take the time to read it as a "guide"!  

How long or how quickly you go through this book, is entirely up to you.  But, if you are searching for meaning in your life, this book should be read slowly and very mindfully.  Each day will bring a new way of looking at your life.

Where most books are broken down into "chapters", Option Ocean: is broken down  into "days".  That is one reason I suggested that it's not a book to be read in a hurry.  It's best taken one day at a time.  There are lessons  for us as we grow in  devotion, understanding  and prayer.  We will take what we understood in the first day and build on that foundation as the month unfolds for us.  Each day there is a "theme" and then there are questions for us to ponder.  Personally I think this book is better when we are prepared to share, with ourselves, the insights and questions that will come to our minds. We will open up our physical, mental and spiritual understanding of God.  To that end I would encourage anyone to have a journal ready.  Use your own style of writing to make points to consider, passages to revisit, and questions that come to mind.

The world today has little time for us to ponder those things that are of a spiritual nature. We are constantly encouraged to live for today, live in the moment and not to think about anything beyond that. Navigating the Seas of Possibility encourages us to live in the moment of course, but to also listen and see the Hand of the Almighty at work in our daily lives. 

Christians are called to do much more than that.  We are called to have a personal relationship with our God.  To proclaim Him in our lives and our actions and be inspired by His Words to us in the Bible.  We are called to worship and adoration to the God who created all things and calls us each by our name.

As Christians we can find living life mindful of God,  hard to do sometimes.  Especially when things happen around us that are not nice, kind or loving.  We can lose our way so easily.  That's why it's nice to have some help and guidance for our individual journeys.  Everyone walks their own path to God through all the trials and tribulations of life.  Your way and my way might be completely different.  But our ultimate goal is the same.  To come to know the will of God in our lives and to give thanks for all we have.

Christian Devotional, Olivia Morris, Book Reviews
                                       
Image by John Hain from Pixabay

Navigating the Seas of Possibility would be a great book for any Christian that is questioning their faith.  It's not a book just to be read, but rather, it is called to be "lived".  It is a workbook for  Christians, all Christians.  After reading the introduction you will already see that this book is more than words on a page or a story to keep our interest.  It is a call to action, a call to prayer, understanding, and a call to search for God in our lives.  It is also a call to remember Gratitude, Love, Peace and Joy!



Christian devotional, faith workbook, spiritual book, Olivia Morris
                                       
Image by Jeff Jacobs from Pixabay



My hope is that during the summer months, when you get a chance to sit back and relax, read one day of Option Ocean: Navigating the Seas of Possibility.  Use what you have learnt and keep a journal.  I bet there are lessons for everyone, but most importantly for you!  This is your life and He knows your name.  



** I was given a copy of this book to read prior to publication, by the author, in exchange for my review.  The opinions stated are my own and no coercion was involved.






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Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Four of the Best Father's Day Gifts for the Handy Dandy Dad Reviewed

The next big event on the horizon for everyone to get excited about is Father's Day!  I know my teacher friends are already busy getting the craft ideas ready so that Dad's will get a nice surprise on June 16th.  

Key finder,Tile,  father's day

I'd like to bring your attention to some interesting handy gifts that any Dad will want and enjoy too.

Whether they are true handy men or not, these tools will stand the test of time and usability.  I know from experience that even mom's would appreciate this gift. (What does that tell you?)

So what do I have in  store for you? Let's see!


Number One Father's Day Gift


Vitorinox, better known as the Swiss Army Knife, comes in a wide variety of styles. This one shown has a 5 out of 5 star rating and it is the one that my husband got many years ago from his children. He is never without it. I cannot tell you how many times he has tightened a nut and bolt on the kids' bikes or used it to pry out something that was stuck where it should not have been and so on.  This knife is small, but fits nicely in his hand to use and into his jeans when he's done.  I think the only time he's without it is when we are at a wedding or a function where we are all dressed up.  Even then, this knife is so handy that it  would fit into his jacket pocket without being too bulky.  It truly is a handy and useful tool that every father should have.  You just never know when you might need it.  It will not replace his tool box, but in a pinch the Swiss Army Knife is ready to do the job.


Number Two, Three and Four

There are countless father's out there that on a busy morning have forgotten where they put their keys or their cell phone. 


 Let's get that crazy picture out of our heads and find a way to make that scenario a thing of the past.  There is a new gadget out there that will help to make Dad's life a little easier.  It's call the "Tile"




It's a little gadget that will really get used!  Just this past weekend I was with my grandchildren and Dad misplaced his keys.  Frantic running around ensued, when his  lovely wife says,  "Tile your keys with your phone!"  Lo and behold, his keys started "chirping" and the sound was getting louder till one of the kids came up with the "lost" keys.  The whole search process lasted less than a minute, and dad was on his way. Everyone had smiles on their faces too!




This item is Number two, three and four, for good reason.  With this package you get Four Tiles.  They are small,so they can be attached to several different objects!  Most people use them for their keys, but you can attach the Tile to almost anything.  If your briefcase isn't where you thought it should be, you can add a Tile to that.  It has a small hole in one corner so that you can attach it with split rings to almost anything.  Afraid someone will notice the "Tile" on your briefcase?  No problem, mount the "Tile" in the briefcase and no one but you knows it's there.  Problem solved and future problems averted!  This is a #1 Best Seller.

**Now the only thing I dislike about this package is that this model of the "Tile" only lasts one year.  Newer models are made with replaceable batteries but will cost you about double what this package runs.  If you are not sure that this would be a workable item for your Dad, you could always try it for the year and then decide if you should upgrade to the newer models.  It would be something to think about.  
**This is my own personal opinion!

 Fathers all over the world will be proud of their families and best of all,  they will all be Handy Dandy Dads with your help!

Father's Day, Gift ideas for men, Swiss Army Knife, Tile





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Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Two of the Best Products for Alzheimer's Patients: A Product Review

dementia, alzheimers, help for caregivers, tools
Dementia and Alzheimer's are two very real illnesses of our day.   Memory starts to change and we are left with someone who might or might not have the ability to remember.  There are products that can help people who are in the different stages of this disease.  Memory and remembering things are two different sides of Dementia/Alzheimer's.  People that are affected sometimes remember things in the past, like they were yesterday, yet they cannot remember what day it is today.  Taking care of someone who is losing their ability to remember the smallest of tasks, can be terrifying for the person who can't remember and for the family of that person too! If you are a care giver, for someone you love, it is heartbreaking at times.  It's also really hard to come to terms with the changes that we see in the person we knew so well.

I have many friends who are in the same boat and we have found that simple tools can help the person who is having troubles with their memory.  This clock is one of those tools.  It has a nice look to it and will help the person see what day it is, what time and whether it's morning or evening.  A quick look and you are already one step ahead.  It may not seem like much to you and me, but the person who is having difficulty remembering will find this tool useful.  No more answering the same question over and over again.  What day is it?   What time is it?  etc.etc.etc.




Being able to figure out what day it is, seems like a reasonably easy task.  For Alzheimer's patients it is not easy at all.  This clock helps though.  With it's clear, concise display, there will be no doubt what day it is and whether it's morning or evening.  This clock also has the capability to set up to 5 different alarms.  These could be for medications, bathing, or getting ready to go out.  All of the possibilities will depend on your own needs.

The second tool that I would recommend is an Erasable White Board!  



This Board is inexpensive and will give you a great place to write down all those appointments that need to be taken care of.  Doctors appointments, Dentist, going shopping, social times, all of them can be easily written on the board with dates and times so that there is no second guessing about where you are going and what you are doing.  Most Alzheimer's patients are still interested in doing things even though they can't remember at times.

These two tools will make life a little easier for the caregiver.  The clock is #1 and the white board for me is a great #2.  They are not cures, unfortunately there isn't one, but they are solid reminders for the mind that has trouble focusing from one minute to the next.  


Caregivers need as much help as possible when walking down this road with their loved ones.  In some places there are even social clubs where Alzheimer's patients can be taken and they can enjoy an afternoon with others.  These are supervised short term respites that caregivers need to recoup and get themselves back on track. 

In the United States you can find a local chapter of the Alzheimer's Society, where they offer advice, programs and support.  Anyone who is looking after a loved one with Alzheimer's needs all the support they can get!  Check it out at Find your Local Chapter.


In Canada there are also support groups and you can find them online or click on this link: https://www.alz.org/ca/dementia-alzheimers-canada.asp

Alzheimer's is a disease that slowly (or sometimes quickly) changes the ways we deal with our families as they age.  It is frustrating, upsetting, life altering (for everyone), and nothing makes sense anymore.  There is help to deal with this disease and the first part is knowledge and then tools to help you along the way.  The links I've included above have great reading material to help those who haven't yet been touched by this disease, understand it a little better. 

Caring for our loved ones as they age is a beautiful responsibility, but, with Dementia and Alzheimer's, there are extra burdens.  Help yourself and your loved ones by being informed and having the tools around to help you, help them.  

caregivers, dementia, alzheimer's, tools for people with dementia





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Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Grandmothers Love to be Remembered Come Mother's Day (A Book Review)

Being a Grandmother is one of the most satisfying jobs in the world.  We get to have fun with our Grandchildren and not have the day to day responsibility of raising them.  (We have done that already!)

We are the ones that love to see our children and their children in settings that are remembered with much fondness.  I know I enjoy seeing my son and his children doing some of the same things that we did when he was a youngster.  Grandpa loves watching them play road hockey! Some of the funniest memories come from when he played with his children.  They still laugh an awful lot about some of those times.

When Mother's Day rolls around (and it does every year), sometimes Grandmothers get overlooked.  But, I must say this, when we are remembered, it is a wonderful feeling.

We grandmothers are called upon to look after little ones when Mom and Dad just need some "quiet" time on their own.  Date nights can be a rarity when you have little ones that are always on the go!

I'm just getting back from a week at their house, while mom and dad headed south for a 10 year anniversary "get away"!  Believe me, grandmomming for a week at a time can be a workout!

Having said that, I came across a great book for Grandmothers (and there is even one for Grandfathers), that makes being the "Grandparent" a special treat!  It would make a great little gift for that special "Grandma" in your life!  Especially great at Mother's Day!



This is a book that every grandmother should have!  I love the story and how it reverses the roles of the sitter and the one being babysat!  This Grandmother in particular, loves reading books to her "grands", so this is a shoe in for me.  Whenever I am in charge of looking after my little ones, reading is one of the pastimes that we all enjoy.  This book makes it even easier, because the little ones enjoy the role reversal.  They are the ones looking after Grandma!

With the cost of greeting cards these days, I would much rather receive a book like this one and the cost is not much more!  Being remembered by your children on a day special to all mothers (and grandmothers) makes your heart swell  just a little bit and you get a great story to share with those that you love so much.  Try it out for your grandmother and see if there isn't just a little twinkle in her eyes.  Shared love and sharing a great story are two of the best things in life, at least for this grandma!





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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Bats, the Good, the Great and Why You Want Them!

April 17, 2019 has been designated as "Bat Appreciation Day" by those wonderful folks at the Days of the Year!  So let's do a review on Bats and why you would encourage them to become part of your backyard and garden areas!

Bats have had a bad reputation for many years and much of it comes from not understanding this mammal and all of it's wonderful attributes.  Halloween, scary stories, murder mysteries and more have used scenarios with bats as a harbinger of bad things to come.  Stories of bats becoming entangled in people's hair and attacking at night have added to the fear many people have when it comes to this animal.  Vampires and other "horror" scenes have reinforced the idea that bats are "bad news". I'm here to set the record straight!


Let's start with what we know about bats!

Bats are found almost everywhere where people are.  If there is a food source around, there will be bats as well.  The only place where bats have not been found is in Antarctica!  

Bat are mammals that hibernate like bears in the winter months.  Once the weather starts to warm up and the bugs come out of the ground, you will if you are lucky, start to see bats as well.  

Bats feed on bugs, fruit, beetles, and insects and there are a few species that will drink blood too  (this is where their bad reputation comes from)!  None of these blood suckers make their home in North America, so don't worry.

Bats eat up to 50% of their body weight in bugs every evening.  Yes, you should re-read that statement.  Bats eat up to 50% of their body weight in bugs every evening.  





Bats are the only flying mammal with great eyesight and the ability to echolocate their food!  No bats don't fly into your hair accidentally.  They have food to locate and eat.  Bat's are evening creatures that do most of their living while we are sleeping.  As morning comes Bats just want to go into a dark place to sleep.


Bat's with their voracious appetite help our farmers cut down on the need to use pesticides!  That is a GOOD thing.  

Unfortunately, Bats are in trouble!  They need our help.  Many bats have been dying because of a disease that is called  "White Mold Disease" and it attacks the bats as they are hibernating.  When they come out of hibernation they are sick and quickly die.  There are many efforts being made to help the bats through this debilitating disease and providing them with clean and safe places to hibernate, is one of these initiatives.

Of all the animals that you can have in the garden (and all of them have a job to do), I would be encouraging bats to find me.  Having a bat box ready for them is step #1.  These are easy to build and can be fastened to a nice cozy dry spot.  Just under the eaves is a great place. 


Here are some books that you can share with your children and get them on board to helping Mother Nature take care of her bats!  You can also build your own Bat Box and see if they will come!  Sitting on the patio in the cool evenings will be a lot nicer for you and your family when there are bats around to take care of all those nasty mosquitos.  It's a win-win situation.




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Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Easter and Church A Simple Way to Make It Easy for Children

Children and Faith, Our Duty as Christian Parents and Grandparents During this Holiday Season.

In the last 30 years Church attendance has dropped significantly.  Christians still want to attend services at special times of the year and one of them is coming up very shortly.  There are two major celebrations in the Christian community.  Christmas being the first.  Easter is the Second.  Both of these times in the year are  Holidays, and important in the life of a Christian community.  Christmas we celebrate the Birth of Jesus Christ and at Easter, we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus from the Tomb.  Both of these "Holy Days" are usually marked by increased attendance at your local church's worship services.

Easter Church Services

Attending Church services with our family is one of the most wonderful times in a parents and grandparents lives.  It's a great time for us Parents and Grandparents to acknowledge our faith and share it with our families. 

The Question remains, how do we get our children (many of which haven't participated in regular Church Services) to sit quietly at the Services we are attending?  Every parent enters the church with trepidation and fear that their little ones will be disruptive during the Easter Service.

I'm here to tell you that with a little planning ahead, children can and will behave in a way that will not put you to shame.  But it does take some planning.

So let's get to it. Prepare, prepare, prepare!


First of all let's find out how long the church service will last.  Sometimes it will be 30 to 45 minutes and other services may last a few hours.  Knowing how long you need to keep your children engaged will help you plan better. 

Let's assume that services will be about an hour long.  That 60 minutes of quiet time that your children need to get a handle on.

Let's Pack a Church Bag* to take with us to services.  Inside will be all kinds of quiet activities that your children can do when they become restless.  So these are the things I would take along:

*Contents of a great Church Bag

  1. Books, depending on the age of your children, they can be picture books or story books.
  2. Stickers and some paper for them to make their own picture of the Bible story they  will hear.
  3. Coloring books with crayons. (if you have more than one child, make sure you have a book for each one of them!)
  4. Puzzle books, find the words, or crosswords are great!
  5. Small soft Easter type toys, stuffed bunnies, chicks or eggs. You can find some really cute ones here at Coastal Crochet Crafts! 
DO NOT PACK Candy of any Kind.  That would be setting you up for a sugar rush and you don't want to have that during this quiet time.   You should prepare your children ahead of time.  Make it a game to see how long they can be quiet at home, before the Church event happens.  Small rewards for being able to be quiet can help you to increase the time span.  Tell them that they are practicing for the quiet time that they will have to adhere to while Church services are happening.  Practice whispering to each other if conversations need to be had.   Bringing electronic toys to church is not a good idea.  They are very distracting to your child and to others around them.  Even adults are distracted by electronic toys.  Better to stick to bringing a book or two.  Picture books are great and children are always enchanted by stories that they can read.  I happen to like Easter Books that tell the Story of the Resurrection.




There are several available and they will help you to explain to your children what this Season of Easter is all about too!  Children learn from their parents and grandparents about their faith beliefs and it is up to us to encourage that faith.    After Church Services are concluded, I'm sure there will be time for the infamous Easter Egg hunt.  Children especially like this part of the Easter festivities.  Dinner on Easter Sunday will be a gathering of all the family at the table to share in the wonderful foods and desserts that have been lovingly prepared for us.  After all Easter is a whole season of REJOICING!  Everything is new including the seasons.  Everything is in bloom or will be soon.

Please know that most Christians are very happy to see the little ones at church services!  They are a delight to us older folks who remember all to well taking our own children to Services.


Happy Easter to all, The Lord is Risen, He is Risen indeed!




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Wednesday, March 27, 2019

What You Need to Know about Basic Birdhouse Construction

birdhouses, building birdhouses, learning about birds

Basic Birdhouse Construction, What you Need to Know.


For years I have built birdhouses for friends and family and for myself.  Why?  Well let's just put it this way, I love my garden and I love nature.  When I'm working outdoors there is nothing more special than being able to watch the birds and the bees while taking a short break.

To say that I enjoy their antics would be an understatement.  You will find me out in the garden at almost any hour of the day, just to see what there is to see.  Most of the time it is the birds and the insects that I purposely attract to my garden that give me the thrills of the day.  And because I love them so much, I want my friends to enjoy them that much too!

I want to focus on birdhouses in this review, because, while everyone loves birds, enticing them into your garden is a special thrill!   Seeing them rear their babies is even more fun.  If you have children or grandchildren, it is also a wonderful time to teach them some nature lessons and life lessons too.


Birdhouse Basics

If you have a yard, you have a great place to start.  Flowers, shrubs and a tree or two would be ideal as well.  A water source or a bird bath will surely entice some lovely feathered friends to come for a visit.  After that, if you want to build some birdhouses, that will help them to target you for their next place to live!

It is said that if you build it, they will come! (Taken from the movie ............The Field of Dreams.)  This may be true for birdhouses and it may not be true.  Some birds really don't care what their homes look like, but they are particular about the size and the placement.  Other birds will readily nest in any dry and sheltered spot, Robins in particular will nest in a dry space and not really need or want a birdhouse.

If you are hoping to attract certain kinds of birds to your yard, you need to build a house that they will really like.

Placement of that birdhouse will also be important.  Some birds require homes set at a certain height and proximity to other essentials  for their welfare.  Water and food sources being the most important ones.

Some birds are solitary nesters and others need to live in community.  So again depending on the birds you want to attract, you will need to take these things into consideration as well.

I have found this book on Amazon will help you build birdhouses, but also takes into account each different species likes and dislikes.  Working with an ornithologist, these plans have been made for specific birds.  It doesn't help you to build a house that no one wants to occupy.  So build something that you know they will appreciate and you will be rewarded with the lovely sounds of birds thanking you.


Here you will find plans to make up to 19 different types of birdhouses. Each one can be executed by the novice as well as the expert woodworker. These are great projects for Moms and Dads to make with their children.  The basic houses are wooden and can be left plain or dressed up with colors.

Three things that you should never do!

While we are on the subject of attracting birds to your garden, I want to make absolutely sure that you don't do these things:
  1. DO NOT put out lengths of yarn for birds to use as nesting material.  
  2. DO NOT put out dryer lint for the birds
  3. DO NOT put out pet hair for their use either.
You may ask WHY NOT!
Here are the reasons,  yarn, unless it is cut up into tiny (less than an inch long) pieces, can actually act as a noose that works it's way around baby birds necks.  When they try to fly out of the nest, they strangle.  Birds are used to  scavenging for nesting materials and they know what they want in there.  If you feel inclined to help them, rake up your grass and leave little piles of dried grass for them to find.  

Dryer lint is also a definite no-no.  Most people use fabric softeners of some sort with  their dryers and the chemicals in those sheets or liquids also ends up in the lint.  These chemicals may harm the babies either by contact, or by ingestion.  Don't do it!

Pet Fur is also a no-no.  If your pet is taking medications, or you use flea powders or flea shampoos on them, their fur is also "contaminated".  Baby birds are naked (just like human babies) when they are born.  Anything that cause a reaction to their tender little bodies should be avoided at all costs.
birdhouses, building birdhouses, watching nature
Naked baby birds!


It would be much better for you to spend your time reading a little about what they would appreciate and then building a nice house for them to enjoy.  The most perfect part of this whole idea is that you will build one house, but that two families will get to enjoy it.  The bird family and your family too!

More about Birds from the writers at Review This Reviews:


You can read more about the life cycle of a Robin at Tracey's Review of that incredible sight at her home.
Birdwatching and Photography go hand in hand.  One of Review This Reviews writers, Mary Beth Granger, has shown and taught us how to capture some beautiful pictures of the birds in her area. If you love Bluebirds you can read up right here!  Or if Woodpeckers tickle your fancy, you can check out some great pictures and facts Review of Woodpecker Facts and Photography 





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Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Birds Butterflies and Bees in the Garden, What you Need to Know

How to successfully attract birds, bees and butterflies to your garden and enjoy them all season long!

Everyone that I know is so tired of winter.  Once the clocks have moved ahead for Daylight Savings Time, all of us are just counting down the days until we see those first signs of spring.
I have not yet had the delight of my first Robin or Blue Birds.  I know though that they will be coming very shortly.  And I am ready to welcome them all with some special treats that I know they will love.
birds, butterflies and bees in the garden, attracting wildlife, garden birds
Monarch Butterfly and bee on Asters
                                          

Three Basics That Are Essential

If you want the birds, bees and butterflies to come to your yard, you need to provide some of the things they will want.  
Like any other living creature, these little marvels of nature are looking for shelter, food and water.  Those are the essentials for any living being that you would care for.  Garden visitors are no different in that regard.  The only other thing that they may be looking for, would be a safe place to nest.  Trees and bushes are great for that!


Flowers are food!

Bees and butterflies and yes even the birds are looking for flowers to feed their appetites.  Pollen laden plants are a bee's best friend.  Butterflies and bees like nectar laden flowers too.  Birds are more attracted to seed heads that will come later in the year.  But they will use petals, and leaves to line their nests.  


Attracting different kinds of birds.

If you set out bird houses, you will certainly get some feathered friends calling your yard their home too.  Feeders for finches and hummingbirds will almost guarantee their arrival at your doorstep.  Plant the right kinds of flowers and you will have an abundance of these lovely little creatures to watch and enjoy.

Butterflies, birds  and bees will enjoy a bird bath.  The birds will splash around cooling themselves off in the heat of the summer, while the butterflies and bees will also stop for a drink and a little rest.  Butterflies and bees can also make use of the sugar water that is in your hummingbird feeders, so don't be surprised to see them there too. 

Having a place that is rich in flowers and shrubs with a few trees for their safety will make all of these creatures very happy to call your home, their home too!

Picking the flowers and shrubs to enhance your garden!

If you really want the butterflies, bees and birds in your garden, here is a list of some of the best ones to plant.

  1. Butterfly bush, as the name indicates is a magnet for many different types of butterflies, but they are also a magnet for hummingbirds too!
  2. Sunflowers, their flat heads are wonderful landing pads for all garden critters.
  3. Coneflowers will attract bluebirds, bees, and butterflies as well.
  4. ServiceBerry Bushes will attract cardinals, robins, cedar waxwings and more.
  5. Phlox is another great plant to attract birds and butterflies.

If you enjoy having these critters in the garden with you, make their lives easier by planting lots of the flowers that they love.  The list above is just a small sample of what plants are great to encourage wildlife in the yard.  It is by no means a complete list.  For that I refer to my book produced by Birds and Blooms Magazine.  


Gardening for Birds, Butterflies and Bees!



You can get your own right here! It is a great resource book and one that you can come back to and reference for future garden projects or additions.

You might also like to take up photography when you see how beautiful it is to have these creatures in your garden.  Mary Beth (another writer on Review This) shows us what it's like to take pictures and how to do it too!  You can check out her article right here: Bluebird Facts and Photography

Having a natural flower filled garden will surely bring you and all the visitors to your garden a lot of joy and happiness.  The colors and scents, along with all the activity will inspire you to enjoy the beauties of nature.

butterflies in the garden, attracting butterflies into the garden, garden flowers
Swallowtail Butterfly
attracting bees into the garden, garden bees, garden flowers
Bee with sunflower






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Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Educated: The Life Story of an Amazing Backwoods Girl

Everyone who has paid taxes and continues to do so, has  dreamed of living "off the grid".  Educated, is the memoir of Tara Westover, who because of her family,  did just that!

Let me start by saying that this book once opened and in your hands, will be hard to put down.  So be prepared to let everything else slip, while you get drawn into this memoir.


                                                              Photo from the New York Times



Tara and her family live on Buck's Peak in Idaho.  They are a tight knit family not because of undivided love, but rather necessity.  They are a large family of seven children. Living off the grid is not easy and Tara's father has long held that government and modern times are both evil.  These are to be avoided at all and any costs.  The family does not have strong ties to the community which is small at best.  But they are strong in their faith life.  Reading from the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and the Mormon prophets is their only entertainment.

Mom is an herbalist, with a love for natural healing from the abundance around her.  Tara and her mom are always working to prepare the family for the inevitable downfall of all humanity.  Dad speaks to "God" and has his own visions of what needs to be accomplished to keep his family safe in the trying days to come.


While running his scrapyard, he is also consumed with the coming Y2K debacle and the end times.  He is constantly preparing bunkers with food and water, staples and gas so that when the inevitable last days arrive, they will be safe and saved. 


                                            Buck's Peak in the Fall

Tara never goes to school proper.  She and her siblings are home schooled. Mom make tinctures and creams.  These will be their only forms of medicine, because Dad doesn't believe in Doctors.  Mom also becomes the local midwife, after learning from the elderly woman who has been the midwife for years.  All of this is kept very quiet as they don't want any interference from the government.  Every birth is punctuated with worry that things will not "go" according to plan.  Heaven help them if a mother should die in the birthing process.  

Tara's brothers are a mixed bunch.  Some take care of Tara with tenderness and love, while one of the eldest has a mean streak the width of a country road.  While Tara is terrorized by him, Dad and Mom just keep on working and ignore any of his actions and the subsequent injuries that Tara has received at his hands.  Even such simple things as birth certificates were not issued for the children.  All were home birthed and never registered anywhere.  Not until one of the brothers wants to get a driver's licence does Tara's mom start the process of registering the birth of her children.  

Tara's story is unique in that it takes place today.  With all the means of communication and learning, the Westover family knew none of it.  

Despite her lack of many material things, Tara is gifted with a tenacity that will not let her fail.  Once she has made the decision to leave the mountain, there is no holding her back.  Educated is a story that is real, interesting, happy and sad at times, but never dull.

I read this in three days and just hated when my eyes were so tired they could not read another page.  


Educated is a story of re-birth both physical and emotional.  It's a story of choices and the possible breakdown of all that you knew to be true.  Tara is like the caterpillar turning into the butterfly.  Change though can be painful too and you will see that in the pages you are reading.  

From a seventeen year old girl, who has never entered a classroom before, to a young woman who has a PhD and has studied at Cambridge and Harvard, she certainly has learned that you and you alone can become "Educated" 

For your reading pleasure you can start a free trial with Audible and get to read "Educated" for the best price ever $0.00! 








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