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

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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Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Gardeners and Valentine's Day What a Great Combination Reviewed

There is no doubt about it, when February comes calling, gardeners are already itching to get into the "dirt" of the matter!

#gardeners gifts #valentines day gifts for gardeners #winning combinations for the gardener
Valentine's Day and Gardeners are a great combination.  Around every corner you will find something that will satisfy and excite the gardener in your life.  All gardeners are spending much of February pouring over Seed Catalogs and planning to attend the local Garden Shows that are sure to be happening in March.  I know that I am planning not only my flower gardens, but my vegetable garden too!  I can hardly wait for that first snowdrop or even (heaven forbid) that first dandelion!

What it means is that Old Man Winter is leaving and the warmth and loveliness of Spring is on the way.  Even dandelions with their yellow heads are welcome after a cold and dreary winter season.  And the ladybugs are just an added bonus.  

Valentine's Day is a great time to think about those things that will make the gardener in your family really happy.  There is a list and it can go on and on.  But let me help you make some good decisions when it comes to the gifts that a gardener would really love to have.  

First on the List is Books! 

I don't know any gardener that would not love a beautiful book that highlights not only plants, but gives great instructions on growing them too!  Along with books would be a subscription to Gardening Magazines of which there are many to choose from.  You can find magazines specific to your area and growing zones. You can also go to more general magazines that will cover a multitude of plants, vegetables, trees, shrubs and in gardening zones around the world.  Sometimes pictures are worth the time to dream!

Second on the List is Plants!  

Your local garden center will have a multitude of plants available, especially since it is coming close to Valentine's Day.  You don't need to buy cut roses to make a gardener happy.  Primroses, potted tulips and daffodils, even indoor tropical plants are a welcome addition to the household.  They are reasonably priced and will last a lot longer than any cut flowers.

Third on the List is Pots! 

I personally love pots that are beautiful to look at!  My indoor plants always look amazing because they are in pots that match or contrast with my decor.  It makes a plain plant look amazing when it stands out as a focal point in a room.  And the added bonus is that the indoor plants do a great job of cleaning the air indoors.  This is particularly important in the winter months when windows and doors are shut up tight to keep the cold out.  When you have some really good indoor plants working for you, the air never gets that winter "stale" feel.

Fourth on the List is Garden Tools! 

Every year I know there is another garden tool that I want.  It never fails.  From hoes, rakes, wagons, potting benches and saws to hand tools and garden hoses, there is always something I need.  Make it part of your conversations and I'm sure you will find there is something needed or wanted that would make a unique Valentine's gift.  You can find some great reviews here: Review This Gardening

Fifth on the List is Hand Soaps and Creams! 

Most gardeners are always fighting with dirt under the fingernails and hands.  Playing in the dirt can be very taxing on the skin as well.  A good hand cream/balm and some really fine soaps would be welcome by every gardener that I know.  Even though we love to play in the dirt, we also like our hands to be clean and our skin soft.  There's no need for calluses even though we work with our hands.

Sixth, Seventh, Eighth and Ninth on the List!

If none of the above floats your boat, then there is this extended list too......
6.  Garden lights, Tiki lamps, outdoor fireplace
7.  Garden seating, chairs, umbrellas, tables
8.  Bird Feeders, hummingbird feeders anything that will attract birds and bees.
9.  Bird baths, Fountains, running water.

Last but not Least the Tenth!

10.  I know I mentioned tools, but there are other things that would help a gardener that are a little less obvious.  How about garden hoses, timers for lights, Outdoor glassware (non-breakable),  or a good water bottle to keep that gardener hydrated!

This list is by no means complete.  There are always new products and garden decor that can change just as the seasons do.  It's a great starting point for anyone who wants to make a gardener they love happy at Valentine's Day, that's for sure.  



The products I have chosen to show are just a small sample of what's available.  Just remember that Gardeners love anything that will help them to grow something beautiful or delicious and sometimes both.  
Happy Valentine's Day
   May your garden overflow with the love that you pour into it.
valentine's gifts for gardeners, 10 great gift ideas for gardeners, Valentines Day and Gardeners a great combination





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Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Are You in Charge of Someone Else's Health Care?

How to Effectively Be an Advocate for Your Loved Ones

Today many people find themselves in "charge" of a loved one's personal and medical needs. This could be a parent or another relative, or just a really good friend who has no one else to advocate for them. I am in that position on two different fronts. I have my mother and my uncle who are both in their late 80's and finding daily tasks to be more difficult everyday.

While they are in good health generally, there is much that needs to be tracked to keep them that way.

When an emergency hits, then you are in real "trouble", so to speak. And this is why I am here to let you know about a resource that will help you in those stressful times.

What do you do in an emergency?


Just recently I had to call an ambulance for my mother. She could not walk, she was in a lot of pain and she had just been diagnosed with an auto-immune disease that came up out of nowhere. To say I was a little stressed was the understatement of the year. The EMT's (emergency medical team) were wonderful. When they arrived though, they had questions that I should have been able to answer at my fingertips. Because of the stress of the moment, there were things that I forgot about, or did not have the answers too! Who knows if that would have made a difference. All I know is that I was very upset with myself for NOT having all the answers to their important questions. Because of this incident, I have been looking into ways to keep track of her symptoms, medications, dates of surgeries, prognosis (es) and such.

She has seen many different doctors for different episodes in her life, and they are all important!

When the answer to a situation is calling an ambulance, then it is much better for you and for your loved ones, if you have all the answers to all the questions right there in front of you.


Do NOT Rely on Your Memory!


I have called an ambulance for my mother on three different occasions and each one was a "medical emergency". Now you would think that having to call an ambulance would solidify that date in your mind. Well I'm here to tell you that it does not. I had to really rack my brains in order to come up with the year(s) that each of these episodes happened. This is not a good scenario when it comes to emergency medicine. They need to know everything about this person's health in the last 20 years. So unless you have a photographic memory, you should have a written record of each of these episodes readily available. To that end, I have found what I think will work really well for my mother and my uncle. It is a Medical Records Journal!  I cannot stress enough, how important this is.

Keep your Journal Up to Date!  It doesn't help if you don't keep the records for all doctor's appointments.  


I like this Medical Records Journal because it has pages that are removable(for things you don't need, like baby immunizations) or places to add pages(like when they had a flu shot or other procedures).   It  has a place for all the different times that she has been to the doctor for regular check ups and extra space for those times when something else has happened to change the direction of her health care. There are pages for specialists that she has seen, medications that they have prescribed and on-going return visits. I wish I had had one of these just a few weeks  ago.  There is even pages for emergency responses so that you can keep track of who and when they were transported to a hospital.  These are all very important things that you as a care-giver should know and have access to.  No more guessing if the heart attack happened in November of 2010 or January 2011. 


                                              

There are pages in this Medical Journal to keep track of all the information regarding the different physicians that have treated her.  There is space for their names, phone numbers, addresses and more.  You may not think that is important, but I'm here to tell you it is!  


There are pages with envelopes attached where lab results, blood work results and more can be inserted.  Pages of information regarding the patient's "medical issues" and ongoing care can be inserted into the proper spaces too.  Things like blood sugar levels, heart rhythms, kidney dialysis
days, and more.  Everything is in a really nice binder with a clasp, so that nothing goes missing.

https://amzn.to/2DkZd7K. medical journal, keeping records of illness

It is a great resource not only for doctors visits, but for you as well.  I know I listen intently when we are at the doctor's, but I often find myself going over the instructions in my head.  It is much better for you and for the patient, if you have everything written down. When all the emotional upset has cleared, you can revisit exactly what the doctor recommended.  What you hear and what your loved one has heard may be two different things altogether.  Written instructions are the much better alternative.

It is a great responsibility and pleasure to be able to care for a loved one but, it is also stressful.  When they are healthy it's great, but when something out of the ordinary happens, you have to be prepared.


Here's wishing you a Happy Healthy New Year with all your loved ones.

**I am not a doctor, what I have written here comes from my experience. If you are not sure ask your doctor for his/her recommendations.  I am sure they will agree that this is a great resource for you and for your loved ones.








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Wednesday, January 9, 2019

What's Bugging Your Plants And How To Solve The Problem

Winter has set in for the long haul and if you live in Canada or the Northern United States, the plants you brought indoors for the winter months are probably showing some signs of distress.

Why does that happen and what can you do about it? 

Simply put, your indoor space as nice as it may be, is not the "great outdoors".  All gardeners wish they could just bring the summer inside so that they can survive those crazy cold winter months.  Alas, that is not possible.  We all have some plants that we love and want to "overwinter" in our homes.  I know I have a few that I just love and I always start early in the fall to get these favorites ready for their move indoors.


Olivia's Brugmansia

This is my all time favorite flower.  It is really more like a tree and in the southern states it grows to be as big as a tree.  Here in the north, with proper care it can also become quite large, but keeping a plant this big indoors over the winter months is not an easy task.  So I prepare early to bring in cuttings from this amazing plant.  It roots easily in water and once the cuttings have a good root system I plant the cutting in soil and bring that indoors.  You can also go through the process of keeping these in a cool cellar over the winter months, but that is another whole process.  I find it easier to keep just a few cuttings and watching them grow ever so slowly in the winter.  

What's the biggest problems with keeping plants indoors over the winter?

There are really three problems that will cause plants to decline over the winter months.
  1. Light, not enough of it.
  2. Water, too much of it.
  3. Pests, hitchhikers that you didn't expect to give a home to.
Today we are going to discuss the "Hitchhikers"!

There are six common pests that can attack indoor plants and most often they hitchhike in the soil.  They may be dormant for a little while, but once January comes around they seem to explode on the scene.  Let's find out more!

The six pests are:
  1. aphids
  2. soil gnats
  3. scale insects
  4. white flies
  5. spider mites
  6. mealy bugs

There are a few pests that can literally take over in a matter of a few days.  In the summer months when the plant is outdoors, it has the advantage of natural pest controls.  Ladybugs, praying mantis and just better growing conditions can make these pests less of a problem.  Once indoors the natural controls are no longer there.  Additionally, if you bring in the plant with it's soil from outdoors, you are probably giving the hitchhikers a first class ride into their winter residence as well.

Whenever you bring a plant from the outdoors in, you should take steps to make sure the pests are not coming in with them.  There are several ways to do this.  One is to drench the soil with neem oil products (natural and organic controls).  Spray the leaves and undersides especially to knock off the aphids and wipe out any eggs.  Or you can take cuttings that will be rooted and planted in fresh soil.  

If you notice a plant not doing well, leaves that are falling off, discolored leaves, tips that are browning and not growing, you know you have a problem.
The next step is to isolate the plant (most pests will gladly jump from one plant to another if they are in close proximity), and seek out information on what kind of problem you have.  Some of these pests are easy to find if you know what to look for.  Others might be a little harder, but you can get help if you need it from a reliable nursery.  Bring in the plant, or a leaf and see if they can help you identify the pest, then you can also purchase what you need to help control or get rid of your "problem" before it becomes an all out infestation.

Most people know about aphids, controlling them is rather easy.  You must be consistent but a good blast of water will dislodge aphids and within a few weeks your problem should be over.  Every three days check your plant, if you see aphids, get them into the shower and give them a good hard spray with lukewarm water.  Wash them all down the drain.  Keep your plant segregated until you see no more signs of aphids.  

Soil gnats are not really a "problem pest" in that they won't kill your plant.  They are rather annoying though.  When you disturb the plant, you will see little black flies come out of the ground and fly around and then go back into the ground.  Water your plants with neem oil added to their water and keep the soil on the dry side until you no longer see these little flies.  Over watering is one of the biggest mistakes made when bringing plants indoors.

Scale insects are much more difficult.  They are sneaky and if you don't know what to look for, you will miss them completely.  Scale insects like to hid under leaves and in the meeting of stem and leaf.  They can also attach to flowering stems.  One of my orchids has a scale problem and what set me to find this was a stickiness on the leaves.  This stickiness is from the scale excreting honeydew after sucking the plant juices.  Scale look like little bumps on a stem or leaf and can look like part of the plant.  If you scratch the edges of the scale, you will find it will lift off of the plant.  The easiest way to get control of scale insects is with rubbing alcohol and a Q-tip or cotton ball.  The rubbing alcohol will damage the scales outer shell and expose the bug for removal.  It is important to watch a plant with scale as they will suck the life right out of the plant in short order.  Check the plant weekly and remove any scale using this method.  
Scale insects on leaf and stem. (Picture from WikiCommons)

White flies are also a nuisance.  They attack the undersides of the leaves of many plants.  They also multiply readily, so an infestation is quite possible in a few days time.  Like aphids the best way to keep these under control is to knock them off with a good spray of water.  Do this every 2 to 3 days and then treat the soil with neem oil so that any eggs that may have fallen into the soil will die.  You can also purchase Yellow Sticky traps for these pesky white flies.  They seem to be attracted to the yellow color.

Spider mites as their name implies are very much like spiders, but they are tiny(almost microscopic) and you could need a magnifying glass in order to see them.  What you might see before you actually see the bugs, is a webbing all over the ends of the plant stems.  Imagine tent caterpillars in miniature.  The effect is similar.  When you see those webs all over the plant you will have to get that plant into the shower and wash them off.  Again the undersides of the leaves and the ends of the plant are favorite spots for this pest.  

Mealy Bugs like scale are harder to control and require that you actively search your plants for their presence.  They like the scale have a hard outer shell that will keep them firmly attached to the plant.  Using rubbing alcohol will dislodge them and kill them as well.  

If you want to know more about houseplant pests a great website is from Colorado State and you can find it right here!  They also have some great pictures of these pests if you want to know what they look like or you are not sure if what you are seeing is a pest or not.

I personally have a great collection of Rubbing alcohol and cotton swabs and cotton balls for my houseplants.  Once a month I water all of my plants with Neem Oil added to the water as a preventative measure to keep my plants happy.  Spring and Summer are on their way, but until then, keep a close eye on your favorite plants.  Make sure that no pests will spoil your indoor gardening period.

For your convenience I have included my must haves for over-wintering my favorite plants and keeping them healthy until they can go back outside again in Late Spring and Summer.  Hope this helps you keep your favorite plants happy too!










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Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Why Should You Have a Beautiful Advent Wreath?

We are in the full season of Christmas and part of that in our family is lighting the Advent Candles on our Christmas wreath.

The meaning of the candles and the wreath as a meditation for Christmas and beyond.  


Most people recognize an Advent Wreath when they see them.  They can be made out of many different types of materials.  The most common are evergreens, but there are many other beautiful options.  The wreath (round just by it's name)  usually has 4 candle holders spaced evenly around the wreath.   These four candles are usually in purple and pink( 3 purple and one pink), for religious celebrations of Advent.  Some have a central larger candle in White.  Other Advents wreaths can have red or white candles or whatever color you happen to like.

What's the significance of the colors in a Religious Advent Wreath?

Advent is a time of waiting and preparation.  Purple is the color of both Advent and Lent in religious ceremonies.  Both  of these seasons Liturgically are waiting periods.  Advent we wait for the coming of the Saviour in the stable and Lent we wait for the Resurrection from the Grave.  Let's focus on Christmas and Advent right now.

Each candle has it's own meaning.

  1.  The 1st Sunday of Advent is for Hope (purple)
  2.   The 2nd Sunday is for Peace (purple)
  3.   The 3rd Sunday is for Joy (pink)(it's pink because the light of the two other candles illuminates this week a little bit more and joy is bright)
  4.   The 4th Sunday is for Love (purple)
  5.   Christmas Day the center candle is lit, if you have an Advent wreath with 5 candles.  This central candle (usually in white) represents the Christ, the Saviour whose birthday we celebrate at this time.
The way we use our wreath, is to light one candle on the first Sunday, two on the second Sunday, three on the Third Sunday and all four candles on the Fourth Sunday.  For this reason it is advisable to use a good sized candle or long tapers.  After 4 weeks the first candle will be considerably smaller than the other 3.

If you want to increase the religious aspect of Advent, you can use Bible verses as a meditation for each of the four weeks, or sing some Christmas carols that speak more to the coming of the Saviour rather than  Santa Claus.  There are also some lovely Advent prayers to be found on You Tube and I have selected one for you with music.  The sound is soothing and a reminder of what Christmas is all about!  Check it out right here, and bookmark it if you like so that you have it for all 4 weeks.



Quiet Meditative Time 


Christmas with all it's hustle and bustle can sometimes overwhelm children, parents and other members of the family.  Do you ever wonder why you seem to see so many children having emotional meltdowns at this time of year.  I personally think it has a lot to do with sensory overload and children not having the coping mechanisms in place to deal with it all.

You might find yourself in that position of having to back away from all the noise, lights, music and people.  Taking some quality quiet time for yourself during this hectic time, is not only a great idea, but a necessity for some.  Everyone is different and will relate to the stimulus differently too.  One thing I do know from my own experience is that taking the time to light one candle for every weekend before Christmas is necessary for my well being.  It's a quiet meditative time for me and a way to refresh and renew my sagging spirit.

If you want to know more about sensory overload or aren't sure if that's what has you in it's grips, there is a great article here on Healthline.  It's worth the time it takes to read it. Not only will it help you to understand this malady, but it will also give you some coping mechanisms.  If you are looking for a more "spiritual way" to cope then I would recommend this article on Seasonal Depression and coping.

When you are faced with this "overload" and you know which methods of coping work for you, then it's time to put it into practice.  This is where my Advent Wreath plays a central role.  For me, coping with the seasonal overload means finding some quiet time, and meditating(some might call it praying).  Christmas for me has always been a "spiritual time" and while I love some of the more secular things about Christmas, I still try to keep it as a spiritual time in my home.  I have to do this for my own peace of mind and you might just find some peace if you try this too!



Why Should You Have a Beautiful Advent Wreath?  www.reviewthisreviews.com




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Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Christmas Inflatables Make Decorating Easy and Fun

In a Heartbeat, Thanksgiving is over and everyone is in Full Christmas Holiday mode!

Part of the whole fun of Christmas is decorating, both indoors and out!  I know many people are just chomping at the bit to get their Christmas trees up and decorated, so that they and their families can enjoy this holiday for as long as possible.
Christmas Decorating getting to difficult for you to handle?  Don't want to be climbing on ladders and such?  There is an easy way around that!  And you will feel the spirit with just a flick of a switch......
Photo courtesy of my niece Tara Hocaliuk!  One very talented lady! (Please do not copy without permission)

Children love getting into the "spirit" of the holidays too!  Schools and Church groups are busy making Christmas decorations or preparing for those Christmas pageants that every parent and grandparent love to attend.  Videos and pictures will grace everyone's favorite social media and the joy of our children will be shared everywhere.

For years we decorated not only the inside of our homes, but we would put up Christmas lights and boughs of evergreens on our porch with the Most Beautiful Wreath on our front door!  These sights would greet all our friends and family as they came for visits over the holidays and we had lots of visitors! 

 Christmas Decorating getting to difficult for you to handle?  Don't want to be climbing on ladders and such?  There is an easy way around that!  And you will feel the spirit with just a flick of a switch......
Photo courtesy of my niece Tara Hocaliuk!  One very talented lady! (please do not copy without permission)


Today, I would not ask my other half to get up on a ladder to attach lights to our gutters, even though he did this for years.  Decorating outdoors has become much easier!  Thank goodness for the ability to share ideas on Pinterest and other social media as well.  If you have the time, these ideas are all very doable and need not cost an arm and a leg.

If you don't have the time, then there is another alternative!  And it does not require anyone getting up on a ladder either!  

Christmas inflatables have become very popular and they are so easy to install and enjoy.  If you have a power source, you are ready to decorate in minutes.  You just need to take the inflatable out of it's box, and plug it in.  Done!  It can't be any easier and there are so many different styles to choose from.

The larger the inflatable, the more expensive they become.  Don't be discouraged, these inflatables can start at very affordable prices and make a big impact!  Santas and snowmen, trains and sleighs, polar bears and penguins are all very popular motifs for the holidays.  Many of them will come in several different sizes, ready to fit your decor ideas.  

Inflatables are a lot of fun, easy to install and enjoy.  Again the choices are many and varied.  Some of these inflatables are animated as well.  That just adds another whole dimension of enjoyment. The biggest problem (I hate to admit there might be one) is that someone may be tempted to steal it from your front lawn.  This is easy to remedy with a little forethought and a handyman or woman.  All you need to do is get a few metal tent pegs and a couple of holes drilled in the base of your inflatable.  Hammer the stakes into the ground and your worries are over.

The children and the adults as well will enjoy the sights that you have so thoughtfully prepared for the Holidays.  I'm sure more than one person will stop to admire your handiwork!  The best part, you didn't have to get up on a ladder and worry about falling off!

Christmas home decor is one of the fun parts of getting ready for the best holiday of the year.  Take a little time and let the whole world know that you still believe in the Magic of Christmas!






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Wednesday, November 14, 2018

"Surprise", the Latest New Trend for Little Girls!

I love Surprises, don't you?  Well let me tell you L.O.L. Surprise will be the next BIG thing for little hands to play with!

Okay, I have to admit something right here.  I'm just a big kid, that wants to get in on all the newest things for little kids, both girls and boys.  I am also a grandmother!

It's so much fun for me when I hit upon the next "big" thing that my grandkids are interested in.  Guess What?  I think I have found it!

I can remember when my granddaughters were into the latest fad of Shopkins.  They just could not get enough of these little pieces and share or trade their "doubles" with friends.  We spent hours with the girls trying to come up with the names of these characters and the girls would laugh and laugh as we (Poppa and Grammie) inevitably got the names all wrong.


childrens toys, little girls toys, christmas toys, fun toys
Because we had so much fun with those little figures,  I know in my heart, that this next generation of toys for little girls will be just as big as the Shopkins were.

Let me introduce you to L.O.L. Surprise!

Now you might be asking yourself, what the dickens is she going on about now.  Well let me tell you, there is a reason that these toys are on the "Amazon's Choice" list!

First and foremost, there are several different choices when buying these little toys.  You don't have to spend a fortune to put a smile on your grandchild's face.  These "Surprises" are a little more interactive than the Shopkins were in my humble opinion.  These toys are little people, with faces, and characteristics that make each one different.
They have a style and a little pizzazz for little hands and accessories that they can put on or take off.  Each one is different and each Surprise comes in a neat package with some figures, accessories and outfits.  And they are affordable (which once you are retired becomes of utmost importance!).



Sets of L.O.L. Surprise start at less than $10.00 and you just know that there will be some delight when they see what's inside. That for me is one of the highlights of this little gift. You just don't know what's in it until you open it up!  So it's a gift and a surprise all at the same time.  

For all you grandparents who will be seeing family over the Thanksgiving weekend, this is a great time to have all your presents ready for those family members that you won't be able to see over the Christmas holiday.  Your grandchildren will delight Christmas morning when Grandma and Grandpa have their gifts under the tree already. 
lol surprise, grandma, granddaughters, toys for girls


Childhood is about all those "little" things that make the memories that will last a lifetime. 



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Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Unique Gift for The Blogger in Your LIfe


Is there a Blogger in your life, your mom, dad, grandmother or aunt?  Let's review a great gift idea for anyone who spends a lot of time sitting!


If anyone tells you that blogging is easy, they are wrong.  It requires spending a lot of time researching and writing and then re-writing to get your blog or post just perfect.

Do you need a really creative and useful gift idea for the blogger in your life?  Believe me when I tell you that this is one gift they will enjoy for years to come!




All that time is spent with your backside down on a chair. You may find that your tailbone becomes sore after a little while.  Concentrating on your subject matter is difficult when your tailbone is screaming for you to get up.   Don't let that become a discouragement for you.  There is relief!

As we get older our natural padding tends to become less cushioned.  It doesn't become smaller, just less dense.  This can lead to sore back-sides and no one I know likes to have a sore derriere.  When you are in the middle of a great blog post, you don't want to drop your line of concentration just because your backside is complaining.  Once you get up, you might lose your train of thought (that's an age related thing too).   Better stay where you are and finish that part of your blog.  But oh, to stand up for just a minute or two!  

Well I'm here to tell you there is relief for sore backsides.  I was complaining to a friend of mine who is wheelchair bound.  Now if anyone is getting a sore rear side, it has to be someone who has no choice but to sit.  So when we were together for coffee, I asked him, "What do you do when your rear end is complaining about being sat on all day?"  After laughing at me, he quickly replied that he has a special cushion on his chair that let's him sit comfortably for the whole day.  

Well I thought that was a great idea.  Let me see what I can find out about this!  Well, I guess I am not alone in thinking of ways to make my backside happier.  There is a whole line of memory foam cushions made just for those of us who spend a lot of time in a sitting position.  Truck drivers, transit workers, school bus drivers, computer gurus, and many more people enjoy the benefits of specialized cushions made just for them.




There are several styles of cushions available and all of them are portable, so you can use them in your car or whenever you know you will be sitting for a while. Taking them to a ball game is a great idea too, those bleacher seats are killers for older people.

Now my other half loves hockey games.  I know from experience that it gets really cold in those arenas.  When we watch our grandkids, sitting on the bleachers is a pain in the assets!  So these cushions would not only make that pain go away, but it will also insulate your posterior from the cold benches.  It's a win-win situation for me, that's for sure.
memory foam cushions, sore tailbones, sitting a long time


These cushions are lightweight and most come with a carrying handle.  I know that my backside will be much happier when it spends some time on an extra well padded chair seat.  They are affordable, comfortable and they do the job!  My tailbone has never been happier.

With Christmas coming, this would make a great gift idea for any grandparent, aunt, uncle, or anyone else you know who will spend some extra hours in the sitting position.  I'm hoping that your backside will be happier for knowing about these great cushions!




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Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Cool Nights, Crafty Nights, How to Get Through the Fall

When Summer gives way to Fall, all of a sudden we find ourselves looking for ways to keep busy indoors instead of outdoors.  It seems the older I get the more I like the idea of hunkering down in the quiet comfort of my home.  Let's Review some ways to make this time productive and fun!

Looking back over the last few months I realize that I did not want to come indoors at all.  Summer was glorious this year, with warm sunny days and warm evenings too!  Alas, all good things must come to an end, especially when you live in the north!

Fall is a great time to get cracking on all those things you wanted to do but didn't.  Fall is also that gateway to all kinds of Holidays that require your time and talents. It's a wonderful time to try your hand at making something crafty too.  Decorating your space was never easier, with themes provided by the Holidays.  So to that end, we will start getting all our crafts in order! Or we will try something new!

hobbies, crafts, learn how to draw




Crafting gives our hands a chance to make something unique and beautiful.  It lets us express some of our hidden talents.  We see something we like and we just know that we could do that too!  So when we are indoors instead of running around outside, we can sit and give our hands a chance to make something that we have never done before.

Halloween and Thanksgiving are great times to try our hands at crafty ideas. We could start by  making special goodie bags for the children that visit our door on Halloween night.  If you have a little more time, maybe we could make something a little more personalized for our family who will visit during Thanksgiving.
Both of these holidays can launch us onto a new hobby.

Now unless you are reviving a hobby that you once invested in, I would not suggest that you go all out and purchase all the items you might be needing for a new hobby.  Head to your nearest  Dollar Tree! It's a great place to start a new hobby and you can do it on-line.  You just never know what you will find there that will twig an idea!  There are hundreds of items available that you might be able to use to fuel your creative genius.  From yarns, to paints, beads, canvases and findings, you know you will have a great time picking out the things that will be transformed under your hands.  Don't spend a lot of money on a craft or hobby until you are sure it is something that you will continue to do.  

There are a great number of "How To" books that will walk you through all stages of a new hobby.  Knitting, crocheting, leatherwork, macrame, rug hooking, drawing and so many more hobbies can be learned through the pages of a great How To book!  I've chosen just  a few to get you started.  There are also many You Tube videos that will give you a "working" look at how to make some things.  I guess what I'm saying is that your indoor time during these upcoming cold months can be productive and fun.  You just might find that you have a talent for a certain hobby. 



I have several writer friends right here on the REVIEW THIS team, that are so talented they have their own ETSY  shops, where they turn their hobbies into a small business.  All the contributors here are passionate about some form of hobby!  Greeting Cards, knitting, crocheting, photography it's all covered by our contributors.

If you don't feel inclined to make things yourself,  I would suggest that shopping at the Etsy Mall will help you find something beautiful, hand made and will help to support someone who is working hard to make things beautiful.   

crafts, hobbies, learn how to make anything





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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Halloween Costumes: Important Tips for Everyone's Safety

Kids everywhere are already discussing what they will dress up as for their favorite holiday,  Halloween!  

Let's review some important safety tips so our children/ grandchildren can continue to enjoy this holiday.

Even though the end of September is quickly coming, adults and kids alike are getting into the Halloween spirit.  Everywhere you look there are dozens and dozens of costumes just trying to get your child's attention.  At the end of October every neighborhood will have dozens of Superheroes, Doctors and Nurses, Witches and Werewolves prowling about.  

Halloween safety tips, halloween costumes, childrens safety
These are my grandchildren, Miss BoPeep and her Sheep!
               

The excitement of  all the Treats has most youngsters just chomping at the bit to get out on Halloween night.
  
Let's just take a minute to review some important safety tips to keep our children/grandchildren safe during their escapades.

1.  Never ever let your children go out alone and unsupervised.
-team up with some neighborhood parents  and share the role as supervisors.  There are always some big kids that will take advantage or prey on younger children that are alone.  Instead of having fun, they are robbed of their candy and may even suffer some physical injury.

2.  Make sure their costumes allow them to walk without tripping, climb stairs without "face planting" on the next step and just see where they are going.  

3.  If they have chosen to be a witch, zombie, ax murderer or some other very dark creature, make sure that somewhere on their costume there is reflective tape or better yet, a  bright flashlight that will illuminate them in the dark.

4.  Rather than masks, try using makeup to augment their costume.  If you slather them with cream before makeup application, it will be much easier to come off later.  Makeup does not hinder their ability to see what's around them.  Masks tend to slip, dip and drop and the children are more interested in keeping that mask in place, than looking at where they are going.

5.  Keep the children off the roads.  One accident is one too many.  Check your route, and see that you do one side of the road and then cross to the other side.  Cars and kids running amok are not a good combination.

6.  Don't allow any treats to be consumed until they have been checked over.  With food allergies and treats being tampered with, eating on the run is never a good idea.

7.  Have fun and take some pictures along the way!  They will make some great memories in the future.

If you are looking for a great flashlight for your children to use on Halloween night, I would suggest this one:



I  like this flashlight because it can be used at Halloween, but it can be used at other times of the year too.
It is an Amazon Choice and has three light settings.  It's a regular flashlight with a powerful beam, it's a reading light with a softer and wider light surface and (here's the reason I really like it) it has a powerful red flashing emergency light too!  That would add just another facet to any Halloween costume out there.

We have three of these in our apartment and they really work well when there is a black out!  So after Halloween, keep these flashlights in and around your home, so that if the power ever goes out, you are prepared.


Halloween Safety Tips, Halloween costumes, Keeping children safe








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Wednesday, September 5, 2018

How to Make Your Fall Garden Clean UP a Breeze

Fall Garden Clean-up Can be EASY with the right tools!  Let's Review two that will make your work so much easier!

Gardening is a hobby that tugs at my heart, but after a day out there, my hamstrings, back and arms are aching.  Did you know there are some really great tools available that will make the garden clean-up much easier and less labor intensive?

If you have trees in your yard, you know that there will be some clean up required before Ole Mr. Winter rears his head.  If you have trees that produce nuts, pine cones or fruits, there will be even more clean up required.   I'm here to tell you not to get your overalls in a knot!  I just saw and revelled at a new garden tool that I'm sure everyone will want.  No more stooping over to pick up all those "presents" that so many trees give us.

Leaving fruits and nuts on the lawn over the winter months is not a recommended practice. It is much better for you and your garden to get that mess cleaned up in the fall.  You will have a nice clean area to work with come springtime. Many fruit trees, nut trees, and evergreens can harbor diseases and small animals (rodents) and you really don't want that. Nut trees like Black Walnuts will damage your yard as they contain chemicals that prohibit the growth of other plants. Plus you will have to deal with the hassle of cleaning up in spring when it's wet and messy! This makes fall a much better choice. This Nut Harvester, will pick up nuts, acorns, pine cones, fruit that has dropped before ripening, lemons, limes, apples and more. Left in the ground these fruits are a magnet for wasps and other critters that bite! If you have children playing in the yard, that is definitely a no-no. Personally I have gone out to the garden and turned my ankle on an apple that had fallen off the tree. So I know that this is not a pleasant experience.

Walnuts, acorns, pine cones, crabapples, chestnuts and more can be easily removed from the yard before that last mowing takes place.  There is a new tool that lets you roll over all this detris and make it a thing of the past.  Made by the same people that gave you the Garden Weasel, this tool is lightweight, easy to handle and makes stooping down a thing of the past.



If you have a teenager living at home and a golf course nearby, they could get a job collecting golf balls too! Dual purpose and easy to do too.



Now the other tool that I really like will help you gather all the leaves that will be falling soon. This tool will require a little bit of stooping over, but your "Garden Hands" will help make each bend over much more productive.By increasing the size of your hands, you are able to pick up that much more and make the gathering of leaves a job that gets done likety split. 

The other option as far as leaf gathering goes, is to leave them on the lawn and mow them over a few times. Hopefully you have a mulcher option on your lawn mower, so that the leaves are broken up into small pieces that will nourish your lawn as they break down. This option is for gardens that don't have a lot of leaves. If you have trees everywhere, and lots of leaves on the grass, you are much better off to pick those leaves up. Breaking them down into smaller pieces will only smother the grass underneath if the layer of mulched leaves is too thick!  The grass needs nourishment, but doesn't like to be smothered under a blanket of rotting leaves.

Those are my two suggestions for making your Fall Garden Cleanup and much easier routine.  Besides enjoying the crisp fall air, you will get a great level of exercise in before winter hibernation routines kick in. 


Fall is one of the most beautiful times in nature and it's great to get out there and enjoy the sights, sounds and the beauty all around us.  



For more Gardening Reviews you can Check out this link:  Review This Gardening  There are lots of articles from fellow members of the Review This team!




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