Showing posts with label The Savvy Age. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Savvy Age. Show all posts

Monday, June 24, 2019

City Pickers: Raised Garden Bed Review

My collection of pots for the container garden had become sad and unusable. A refresh was desperately needed and I went on the search for raised garden beds.

 I'd love to have truly raised garden beds about five feet high in the yard, but for now I was searching for a garden bed suitable for the deck. I am very happy to have purchased the City Pickers raised garden bed and will be purchasing more!
City Pickers green raised garden bed on wheels

City Pickers Raised Garden Bed


The size of the garden bed at 24.5" by 20.5" is perfect for the deck. Large enough for room to plant a nice selection of plants, but small enough to move easily. The watering system is also a huge plus as the system holds 2 quarts of water.

They seemed to think of everything when designing this mobile garden including:

  • Self Contained automatic watering system
  • Mobile, on caster wheels
  • Aeration
  • Mulch cover
  • Easy to move
  • Fun colors from the neutral to bold
  • Reasonable price point
  • Waist height version on wheels

Who Wants Color?


I loved the City Pickers is available in 9 colors!

  • Terra Cotta 
  • Aquamarine
  • Cobalt Blue
  • Brown
  • Grey
  • Hunter Green
  • Lime Green (my choice)
  • Red
  • Sandstone

How Much Potting Mix To Fill The Garden Bed?


I used 4 bags of 8 quarts each of potting mix to fill the garden bed plus the recommended cups of lime. The directions are very specific to use potting mix, not topsoil or potting soil! The directions stated 1.5 cubic feet of potting mix is needed to fill the bed; however it depends upon how much muscle you or you have access to! The smaller bags of potting mix are easier to transport and are also frequently on sale.

Assembly Of The City Picker


The City Picker does need to be assembled and the assembly took less than five minutes! It is very easy and quick and requires little labor. One of the advantages of a mobile raised gardening bed is the ease of movement and convenience.


The City Pickers is on wheels which do need to be inserted into the bottom of the bed. I was very pleased to find it took no effort to insert each wheel! Seems like a simple request, but one of my pet peeves for furniture that needs to be assembled is wrangling with the coaster wheels;  these wheels were so easy to pop in and lock on the bottom of the City Pickers garden bed.

Best Way To Save! Swagbucks Hack


This is my favorite way to earn rewards points combined with the ease online ordering! I found one color of the City Pickers in my local big box store, but knew there was a wide selection of colors as I had researched the garden beds online. I really wanted a cheery blue or fun green garden bed.

Back to the internet and I used my swagbucks account to order online from the big box store and have the bed delivered to my door. The option to have the item delivered free of charge to the big box store also is very handy to use and saves time as the items can be picked up at the door at the customer service area.

Swagbucks is a free account in which points are earned for purchases at most online and bricks and mortar stores. The points can then be used for gift cards which are ordered online from the Swagbucks account and the gift code is delivered to your inbox. I love it and this system has worked flawlessly for my shopping.

Click here to sign up for Swagbucks (free!)

 

More Reviews From The Gardeners And Nature Friends at Review This Reviews

Balcony Gardening Tips by Olivia Morris
Garden Kneeler Review by BarbRad
Water A Flower Day by Wednesday Elf
Hostess Gifts For The Gardener by Olivia Morris 
Planting In Spring For Summer by Cynthia Sylvestermouse
Creative Flower Photography by Mary Beth Granger



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Thursday, May 30, 2019

Hoopla Review: Free Streaming Service For Movies, Books, Television & More!

Cutting the cord is not quite as easy as it seems! Well, cutting the cable cord by cancelling cable TV is easy, but finding free economical and quality content can be a search. However, it is a rewarding search when discovering services such as Hoopla which offers free content which appeals to the entire household.
Collage of Hoopla features: credits, movies

What Is Hoopla?


Hoopla is the free online streaming service which offers a wonderful mix of free content including:

  • Movies
  • Television
  • Audiobooks
  • eBooks
  • Comics
  • Music


Your library card is the key to access Hoopla. Each patron has a monthly access limit quantified by credits. I have 20 credits per month and one credit equals one title. Just as with a physical library checkout, Hoopla requires the "return" of the item in 3 days.


Is Hoopla Free?

Yes and no or yes with an asterisk.
Yes, because there are no upfront fees, contracts or subscriptions.
No, because your library pays for access to Hoopla and your tax dollars pay for the library.

How Do I Access Hoopla?


Hoopla is accessed through your library card. Check the digital services offered by your local library to see if Hoopla is offered. Note: Super Sleuth Margaret Schindel of Review This Reviews! discovered when I reviewed the free streaming service of Kanopy it appeared the library did not offer Kanopy, but she found it actually was offered when the service was searched for on the app.

So check with your library, the library website and on the Hoopla App - Hoopla Digital (another reason cutting the cable cord can be a little more work!) Hoopla is very accessible. It can be accessed via desktop,  iPhone, iPad, Android devices and Apple devices, Fire TV and Apple TV.

What Is The Difference Between Hoopla And Kanopy?

It is apples to oranges regarding content which is a bonus for the user! Each offers different content with Kanopy having a strong selection of documentaries and classic cinema and Hoopla offers more mainstream content with a robust catalog from the British Broadcasting Company (BBC.)

The main difference is the content from Hoopla can be downloaded! Excellent for those with an unstable internet collection or travelling. Listening to audiobooks when travelling is a breeze when the book can be downloaded to your phone.

BBC Fan Alert!

If you are a fan of television and movies by the BBC then Hoopla will not disappoint. Was it so long ago when I would seek, search and find an older BBC series on DVD at the library and then go through the checkout hoops of:


  • Putting the series on hold
  • In numerical order 
  • Find a parking space
  • Pay for the parking space
  • Checkout the DVD
  • Return on time
  • Wait for the next DVD to be available
  • Checkout the next DVD
  • Rinse and repeat
Along with the BBC content there is a large selection of British movies and television by Acorn TV. Acorn TV offers original British content including comedies, mysteries and drama series.




Streaming is so much easier especially for binge viewing!

My first Hoopla checkout is RBG , documentary of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.




Free Alternatives To Cable TV




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Monday, May 27, 2019

Kanopy Review: The Free Streaming Service

Free! Yes. Free. Kanopy is the free streaming service you may be unaware exists and unaware you can be a member with your library card! Movies on demand with the click of a mouse at no charge to you. No contracts or subscriptions are required.

What Is Kanopy?

Be Entertained. Be Enriched. is the tagline of Kanopy.

Kanopy is a movie lovers' dream! Particularly if you are a fan of documentaries, Indie Films and non fiction entertainment then you will not be disappointed. It is akin to being transported to your local library, but through the ease of your computer.

Who can Access Kanopy?


Kanopy is free to members of participating public libraries and universities.  Check the digital services section of your library website or university; chances are Kanopy is available.

How Does Kanopy Work?


The Kanopy membership is linked to your library card account number. Create an account on Kanopy and the activation of the account is triggered when the library card number is entered and then automatically verified. An account can be created, verified and activated in less than five minutes.

A member receives 10 credits per month and one movie equals one credit. The checkout process is one familiar to library card holders when checking out a DVD or CD. The movie must be viewed within 3 days of checkout except with canopy the checkout is online access to the movie.

How Do I View The Movie?


Very easily! Kanopy is available on the majority of platforms including: Apple OS, iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Android, Android TV, Chromecast, Roku, Fire stick, Fire tablet and desktop.Simply download the app or access Kanopy in the menu section of Roku or Fire TV.

My first two "checkouts" were the documentaries "Above The Fold" a profile of legendary journalist Robert Scheer and "Celebration of the 89th Anniversary of The Martha Graham Dance Company."

What Does Kanopy Offer?

The major categories of Kanopy are:

  • Movies
  • Documentaries
  • The Arts
  • Business
  • Health
  • Education
  • Media & Communication
  • Global Studies
  • Sciences
  • Social Sciences
  • Instructional Films & Lessons
The title selection is huge with over 30,000 titles including the Criterion Collection which features classic cinema at its' best.

Kanopy Kids

Looking for the littles?  Kanopy has a collection curated specifically for children at Kanopy For Kids. One of the main differences between the content on Kanopy For Kids and Kanopy is a parental control dashboard and unlimited viewing (because we know the littles love to watch and rewatch and rewatch their favorites!)

Again the variety of content is impressive with organized categories easily navigated:

  • Movies
  • Story Time
  • TV Series
  • Funny Stuff
  • Adventure
  • Quick Flicks
  • Explore Science & Math
  • Learning Languages
  • Animals
  • Tales From History ... to name a few.

Is Kanopy Really Free?


Kanopy is free with free* receiving an asterisk. The library or university pays a fee to Kanopy for access to the service. Just as your library card is "free" to obtain, but ultimately paid for by your municipality. Check with your local library or the library website to find out if Kanopy is available. Students and educators at .edu can also access Kanopy with their library card.

Cutting The Cable Cord?


Kanopy is an alternative to Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime. As I am currently in the process of cutting the cord with cable television I am thrilled to find Kanopy and even more ecstatic with the easy access to Indie films, documentaries and classic cinema which are genres I already favor.

More on my journey to cutting the cord ... it is a work in progress!




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Monday, May 13, 2019

My Favorite Dog Harness – The Puppia!


Oh dog harnesses! I have known quite a few. Today I am reviewing my absolute favorite dog harness The Puppia.

Through the years I have tried many dog harnesses and have also watched my acrobatic pup escape from quite a few harnesses. Many of these harnesses have been advertised as escape proof, but more than once been I have been left standing with just the leash and harness in hand! Less than ideal or safe!

The Puppia dog harness is my workhorse dog harness that delivers as promised.
Collage of black poodle in blue Puppia harness.

Fits The Hard To Fit Pup

The fit of any harness is definitely a key to the success of any harness. Each dog is different and of course it is difficult to standardize dog harnesses to fit all. My dog happens to be in between the standard sizes of a dog harness and is a small-medium size.

The straps are easily adjusted to fit dogs between sizes or for dogs with hair instead of fur. My pup also has curly thick hair which grows quickly between grooming visits; the adjustable straps are very convenient for the size difference between a freshly groomed pup and ‘fuzzy’  season.


Easy To Put On

The Puppia harness is very easy to 'install' with only one clip to manage. The harness does go over the dog’s head which can be a concern if your dog does not care for that type of harness. 

The front legs are inserted through the leg openings or the dog can step into the leg opening. The one piece design I believe lends to the strength of the harness as the majority of the harness is material and not clips or nylon.Sometimes less is more!

Lightweight and Strong

The Puppia Dog Harness is lightweight with the mesh construction and deceptively strong. My pup is a “puller” especially when encountering squirrels during a walk. The pup has yet to escape from the harness.

Breathable And Water Resistant

The harness material is breathable and water resistant; both useful features for warmer and inclimate weather.  I’ve used this harness in driving rain and snowstorms and it is durable!


Washable

The harness is machine washable, however the manufacturer does recommend hand washing and air drying. I have had no problems machine washing the harness on the gentle cycle (and even dried the harness on air dry in the dryer).
Black poodle in blue harness sitting in lawn with purple flowering tree.

Variety of Colors

Who doesn’t like to add a little fashion to the daily walk? The Puppia harness comes in a variety of solid colors and fun prints. Don't forget the color coordinated Puppia leashes!


Recommendation


I highly recommend the Puppia dog harness!
Special thanks to Aunt Amy, the Dog Whisperer,  for pup sitting and photography!

x



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Sunday, April 7, 2019

Reachers And Grabbers Reviewed

O, the reacher and the grabber - I've known a few!  Reachers and grabbers have become an integral part of this household. The design of reachers and grabbers have evolved through the years to become lightweight, affordable, practical and indispensable!



The Difference Between The Reacher And The Grabber


The reacher and grabber I have found each perform well together, independently but each has a specialty function which is very helpful and practical.

The reacher is lightweight and can be used to easily extend your reach in both directions. Extend your reach down to help put on socks or pick up items off the floor. Extend your reach up to help take lightweight items off a shelf or even change a lightbulb.

The grabber is great for heavier items which require more strength to grab such as canned food in the pantry or medium to heavier items off the floor or under the bed. The grabber also works very well in the grocery store to retrieve items on the top or bottom shelves.


My favorite Reacher And Grabber

I and my family members have tried a few reachers and grabbers through the years and these two are the favorites.

The Duro Med 32 Inch Aluminum Reacher With Magnetic Tip

This is very lightweight, foldable and has a magnetic tip which is invaluable for retrieving small metal items off the floor or items which find their way under the refrigerator. I love the reacher can be folded up with ease to carry with you to the grocery store or store in the car.


Ettore 34-Inch Grib'n Grab


This grabber is heavier than the reacher and it is deceptive as to how heavy an item can be grabbed and retrieved. I call this the workhorse of the reacher and grabber category and many obviously agree with over 4,000 positive reviews!


Why You Need Both!


As I discovered when caring for a family member after hip replacement surgery, not only is a reacher and grabber both necessary devices to help a person perform daily living activities independently, two devices are necessary!

Two are necessary because the reacher and/or grabber somehow tends to wander and miraculously ends up NOT by the immobile person. This happens quite frequently in a two floor home; it is a reacher/grabber phenomenon akin to the missing laundry sock. If you are upstairs, the reacher is downstairs. If you are in the living room, the grabber is in the kitchen. Buy two!


Different Functions


The reacher and grabber I have found each perform well together and independently, but each has a specialty function which is very helpful and practical.

The reacher is lightweight and can be used to easily extend your reach in both directions. Extend your reach down to help put on socks or pick up items off the floor. Extend your reach up to help take lightweight items off a shelf or even change a lightbulb.

The grabber is great for heavier items which require more strength to grab such as canned food in the pantry or medium to heavier items off the floor or under the bed.


Yardwork


The grabber is a cherished member of the yard work team! A true back saver for picking up twigs, branches, debris and even fallen branches. The reacher is perfect to rearrange items on the garage shelves or retrieve items which roll under the car.

Once you own a reacher or a grabber (or both!) it is amazing the different ways each can be used to make your life easier and your back and knees happier! Reachers and grabbers also make very practical gifts a gift recipient will appreciate.


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Sunday, March 31, 2019

Greenworks Blower Reviewed

Let the Spring Clean Up begin! Tidy up the yard, the  porch, the lawn and the garage in minutes with the Greenworks Single Amp Electric 160 mph Blower.

Greenworks blower

Easy To Use

Very easy to use with a one touch control. The Greenworks blower was ordered with Amazon Prime and arrived in two pieces. Simply snap in piece A to piece B and the assembly is complete in under one minute.
The cord is adequate, but more than likely an extension cord rated for outdoor use will be necessary depending upon the location of the electrical outlet. I highly prefer a lightweight blower with an extension cord versus a heavier cordless model.

Power

The Greenworks Blower has plenty of power for blowing leaves off the deck, the front porch and off the driveway. It provides enough power for a light Fall or Spring clean up for a small yard or between visits by a lawn service if the area is full of trees.

Trees drop their leaves in our area from September through November and last year we were buried in leaves between the last lawn mowing and the Fall Clean Up. The blower was a great convenience to blow a path on the driveway until the Fall Clean Up was completed.

Light!

The Greenworks 160 MOH Blower weighs in at a nice and light 5.6 pounds. Light enough to generate the power needed with the maneuverability necessary to aim the blower at its' target(s) without shoulder and arm fatigue.

Dust Off The Car Inside And Out!

This is not my original idea which begged me to ask myself, "Why didn't I think of that!" It is a little leaf blower hack that works great!

My friend mentioned to me when the Fall weather started to worsen and the outdoors was not conducive to car washing. Use the leaf blower to dust out the interior of the car. Yes!
Simply open all four doors and remove any objects in the car that are NOT to be blown onto the driveway or the garage.

Point the handy dandy Greenworks blower to the interior of the car and blow out all the dust! It works! Fabulously! Three minutes and the dust and debris from the interior of the car is gone.
This was a great hack for the middle of winter to freshen up the car in the throes of salt and winter weather.

Recommendation

I highly recommend the Greenworks blower if a lightweight blower is necessary for the health of your shoulders and arms. The blower has come in very handy and is one of my favorite home purchases. This Spring the blower has already used for a car dust off, driveway clean up, garage clean up, porch dust off and cobweb clean out.




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Sunday, March 24, 2019

Blue Shoe Guys Disposable Shoe Covers Reviewed

Weather is a challenge! It is raining,it is pouring, it is still snowing and welcome to Spring! Spring in the northern midwest can wreak havoc on your lawn, carpet and landscaping. Last year after a particularly challenging and wet Spring I purchased Blue Shoe Guys Disposable Shoe Covers and it was one of the best purchases of the year.
blue disposable shoe cover

What Are Blue Shoe Guys Disposable Shoe Covers?

Yes, the name is self explanatory. Strong, resilient, convenient and disposable paper shoe covers once associated with the the blue shoe covers seen in the hospital or on the shoes of the plumber or the cable television technician visiting on a service call.

The shoe covers have migrated to the mainstream and are an affordable and extremely easy way to protect carpet, hardwood floors, tiling and automobile carpet from the elements all with the flick of the shoe cover.

Shoe Covers For Fall And Spring

Four letters in this area describes the grass, mulch and landscaping with Spring and Fall ... mush!
Spring is a combination of snow melt, rain, more snow, more rain and so it goes through May. Fall brings the opposite of rain into snow, add another dose of rain plus a nice dollop of clay soil and the lawn and landscaping are soggy!

Uses For Blue Shoe Guys Shoe Covers

Saves The Carpet & Floor

I originally purchased the shoe covers as a landscaping required many trips touring the yard in wet, mushy conditions. Loved the convenience of quickly putting on the shoe covers to run in and out of the house without bringing in wet mulch, mud, grass clippings.

The shoe covers are a carpet saver for light colored carpets!


Dogs  

(Do dogs on outdoor leads only get the lead tangled in bad weather?) The shoe covers are perfect to pop on to head outside to retrieve the dog and just as easily pop off when entering the home. There seems to be a direct correlation the dog will go out on its'lead and seek and find the one lone branch to create the dog/lead/fallen branch tangle.

Guests/Visitor

So easy to have shoe covers available for service techs or guests who pop in during in climate weather when light colored carpet is a concern. It's not unusual for guests to carry a spare pair of shoes when visiting during the winter as no guest wants to track winter into your home. The shoe covers are great to have on hand when the guest forgets their spare pair of shoes and the guests are so thankful they don't have to walk around the house in stocking feet.

Car

Tuck a pair or two into your car for emergencies! I've been grateful more than once to have a pair handy for an unexpected muddy park to walk the dog or visiting a friend in the winter where I am the guest who forgot the spare pair of shoes (see above!)

Not Just For Shoes

The shoe covers are very flexible and forgiving in size. I've used the covers for any size and type of shoe or boot from the slimmest shoe to the very sturdy and very wide fuzzy winter boot.

Recommendation

I highly recommend the Blue Shoe Guys Disposable Shoe Covers! One pack contains 100 shoe covers which is more than ample for a home with a few extras to tuck into your car, briefcase or garage.


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Friday, March 8, 2019

The Famous Wigleys Corned Beef Reviewed


When I see St. Patrick's Day on the calendar I immediately think of corned beef and the traditional Irish boiled dinner. Actually an authentic boiled dinner is the perfect comfort food year round in our household and if you are from an Irish depression era family - well, Grandma did tend to excel at boiling :) !
Wigleys Famous Eastern Market Corned Beef. The best corned beef in Detroit reviewed.

Wigleys Famous Eastern Market Corned Beef provides the perfect mix of seasonings and high quality corned beef that allows the flavor of the corned beef to shine while the seasonings enhance the corned beef versus overpowering the beef.

Who Is Wigley?

Wigleys dates back to the 1880’s in England and the Wigley family meat recipe.  Job Wigley arrived in Detroit in 1924 with the Wigley family meat recipe along with the vision of the American dream. The family tradition continues to this day with Job’s grandson Tom continuing the Wigley business.

What Is Eastern Market And Why Is It In The Name Of Wigleys Corned Beef?

Established in 1891 Eastern Market was originally a market for wood and hay. Additional sheds were added in 1921, 1926 and moved to its’ current location. The end of W.W. II brought the wholesale food industry to the market. Hence why Wigleys Corned Beef has Eastern Market in its’ name.
Photos courtesy of CC 4.0:  Sarahebrowning,
Bill Whittaker, Etx313
Eastern Market is renowned in Detroit and the metro Detroit area. Before farm to table became trendy, vendors at  Eastern Market have provided the freshest meats, seafoods, vegetables, spices, candies,  flowers in an open air market.  Enjoy the amazing murals, antiques, art and crafts throughout the market as a destination stop for locals and tourists.
Whether it be for corned beef or flowers, Eastern Market is a treasured Detroit tradition and institution which was recorded to the National Registry of Historic Places in 1978. Wigleys and its’ corned beef is an integral part of the tradition.

The Fool Proof Corned Beef - How To Cook Wigleys?

So easy and so fool proof! Wigley’s corned beef is packaged pre seasoned; the seasoning surrounds the corned beef like a marinade.  Simply remove the corned beef from the package and squeeze the seasoning from the package and into the pot. Cover the corned beef with cold water and simmer. Depending upon the size of the brisket the corned beef will be ready in 3-4 hours.
Perfect every time!

Where To Buy Wigleys

If a visit to Eastern Market is not possible Wigleys is available throughout the metro area at grocery stores and specialty markets.  




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Monday, January 21, 2019

Kong Cloud Collar Reviewed

The dreaded two words for any dog or cat parent. The Cone. It is tough to be a conehead if you are the pet and sometimes even tougher to be the furball parent of a cat or dog recovering from surgery or an injury who returns home attached with the dreaded cone.

You are not happy. The pet is not happy. But you both will be sharing custody of the new nemesis in your life. The Cone.

Pets acclimating to wearing a cone run into everything and everyone! Imagine walking around with a plastic cone around your head and it is not difficult to imagine the problems it presents with eating, sleeping, playing, napping, squirrel chasing, stairs and the list never ends.

Kong's Cloud Collar


The Kong's Cloud Collar is an inflatable cone akin to an inner tube covered with washable soft fabric designed for comfort while not obstructing the peripheral vision of the pet. One of the main problems with a plastic cone excluding the discomfort is the lack of vision, difficulty navigating and eating from a bowl.

The Cloud Collar is designed to battle the inherent problems of the plastic cone. I purchased the Cloud Collar after my pets' last surgery and found the cone to be quite an improvement over the traditional plastic cone.


Positives Of The Cloud Collar


Easy to quickly put on and easy to take off
Soft
Adjustable collar
Washable
Pet adapted easily

Considerations


The velcro on the cone serves its' purpose to make the size of the cloud collar easily adjustable, however velcro is sticky! The velcro does attract the dog hair depending on whether the dog has fur or hair. My dog happens to be have curly hair which is a velcro attractor.

This is a consideration addressed in the customer comments so I was aware of the velcro consideration and prepared! The work around indeed worked like a charm: simply use one half of an old sock and cover the area on the collar where the velcro attaches.

The other main consideration is the type and location of the injury or wound the cone is trying to protect. A plastic cone generally stops the pet from reaching the area to be protected; the cloud collar provides the pet more mobility and therefore may be able to reach the area. My pet is very nimble and agile (code name gumby) and could reach the surgical area if he was so inclined.

Less Injury For Pet Parents


I still remember not so fondly when my dog in his energetic style of greeting ran full force into my shin with the cone. It was not pretty and surprising how much damage a plastic cone can inflict. The fluffball was no less worse for wear, but my shin was added to the recovery list.

I used a combination of the Cloud Collar and traditional plastic cone for the recovery. My dog definitely preferred the cloud collar and while under supervision I used the cloud collar. It was a nice break for the dog from the plastic cone and as the surgical area improved I used the cloud collar more.

Ten days or more is a long oh so very long time to keep a pet restricted plus wearing a plastic cone. I knew the wheels were starting to fall off when the we were gifted with a ten inch snowfall during the recovery period. Plastic cones are also excellent to scoop snow and throw snow and play with... snow! After being cooped up with snow and pet recovery cabin fever as a craft project we bedazzled the cone; confirmation the wheels had fallen off the snowed in recovery house.

Recommendation


Every pet is different regarding the tolerance of the plastic cone and cloud collar during the recovery phase. It can be a battle to keep any cone on! I recommend the Kong Cloud Collar as a means to aid the recovery while increasing the comfort of the pet and the pet parent.





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Thursday, November 29, 2018

DesignCap Free Online Poster Maker Reviewed

DesignCap is the free online poster maker offered by PearlMountain to make all your poster and flyer graphics easy to make and easy to design. The variety of templates, colors, text and background options are endless and will whet your appetite to make free posters in a few minutes for all your events.

WYSIWYG What You See Is What You Get


The DesignCap software is WYSIWYG which is very helpful for all levels of poster designers.
Beginner designers will enjoy the ability to change a template with the click of a mouse and the visual changes are immediate. Graphic designers with more advanced skills will find the templates easy to adjust with the text, color and image options.

DesignCap is an online program which is a bonus as software is not required to download to your computer; design the poster and simply save the poster as a download for its' future use.

I used the cover of my cookbook to test DesignCap and loved the ability to upload an image and change the background in a few seconds.

Background Options DesignCap

DesignCap offers a large variety of background colors and one can get lost (in a good way!) browsing through the options and making changes.

This is the DesignCap template I used for my cookbook.



This is the same template with a different border using the background menu.
The Low Oxalate Cookbook

The border was changed with a quick of the mouse when browsing the background menu. It was very helpful to have different colors and designs available to change the colors of the background.

Intuitive Design

Overall I found the menus easy to use and intuitive. The text menu to change the font size was less intuitive; however this is more than likely dependent upon the skills the designer has prior to using DesignCap. Two options exist to change the font size: the A+ or A-  or the font size can be changed manually. I like the ability to choose the font size manually; however, a first glance it appears the font size is limited to the drop down menu sizes when in fact any size font can be chosen by typing in the size. DesignCap offers tutorials for assistance and step by step guidance through its' menu options.

Image Size


The design can be saved in either jpg or png format. Remember this is a poster therefore the size is large. The image can then be scaled down if necessary or optimized prior to using on a website.

PearlMountain

DesignCap is the latest online design program from PearlMountain along with the established Fotojet and DesignEvo, the free online logo maker. The mission of PearlMountain, "We aim to make professional photo editing and graphic design capability accessible to everyone."





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Saturday, October 27, 2018

Top Ten Hallmark Christmas Movies Reviewed

Ready! Set! Hallmark! Today marks the beginning of Hallmark Christmas movies! This year Hallmark has 27 new Christmas movies on its' schedule: 22 for the Hallmark Channel and 15 for the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Channel.


As an unabashed fan of the Hallmark Channel Christmas movies and a frequent fan who rewatches the movies  - this is my time of year to enjoy friendly romantic and romantic comedies offered by Hallmark. My top ten list of Hallmark Christmas movies contain a few of the actors we have come to know and love on the Hallmark: Danica McKellar, Lacey Chabert, Andrew Walker, Alicia Witt, Brennan Elliot, Candace Cameron Bure, Paul Greene and Nikki DeLoach.


My Favorite Top Ten Hallmark Christmas Movies 


  1. A Royal Christmas (2014)
  2.  A Crown For Christmas (2015)
  3. Christmas Under Wraps (2014)
  4. Christmas In Homestead (2016)
  5. Ice Sculpture Christmas (2015)
  6. A Christmas Detour (2015)
  7. Coming Home For Christmas (2017)
  8. A Very Merry Mix-Up (2013)
  9. The Mistletoe Inn (2017)
  10. Christmas At The Cartwright's (2014)


Actually it is very difficult to narrow down the selection to a top ten list and as Hallmark fans know their is a commonality amongst the plot lines of the movies. We know this! We like this! Escapism into the Hallmark world at Christmas works!


Countdown To Christmas

Hallmark begins their Countdown To Christmas the last weekend of October. Look for a schedule full of Christmas cheer new and original holiday movies mixed in their stable of Christmas movies from years' past. 


Where To Find Hallmark Christmas Movies?

Amazon offers a nice variety of Hallmark Christmas and Hallmark movies on DVD; many of which are affordably bundled to view at your convenience. If you do not have cable the Hallmark Channel is available through the streaming packages on Sling TV, Directnow and Dish plus Hallmark's own streaming channel Hallmark Movies Now.

Coming soon is the new Hallmark Drama Channel - Hallmark fans be on the lookout for a new addition to your Hallmark channel lineup.


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Saturday, October 13, 2018

Favorite Christmas Pop Up Books By Robert Sabuda

Pop Up books always bring a smile to my face! My favorite pop up book creator is Robert Sabuda. I was first introduced to Robert Sabuda when moonlighting at Borders Books (ah, I remember it well, we miss you Borders!). His pop up books bring the Christmas classics to life and are a must on the Christmas list for all ages!
Robert Sabuda pop up reindeer.

Christmas Pop Up Books By Robert Sabuda


 My first Christmas pop up book was The 12 Days Of Christmas! One of the special treats in the pop up books are the extra pop ups intertwined in the story. Loved finding a reindeer in my 12 Days Of Christmas !
The 12 Days Of Christmas

The Christmas pop up books by Sabuda cover the Christmas and winter classics like no other and are a wonderful addition to your library. These books will be a permanent addition to your library.


  • The 12 Days Of Christmas
  • The Night Before Christmas
  • The Christmas Story
  • Christmas Alphabet
  • Winter In White
  • Winter's Tale
  • Cookie Count
  • Believe




Who Is Robert Sabuda?


Robert Sabuda is the author, creator and renowned paper engineer who creates intricate pop up books for kids. The books are unique, whimsical and visually stunning. His artistic career spans many mediums with a specialty in 3-D paper engineering which uses to transform children's stories into stunning pop up books.

Find out more about Robert Sabuda in the video > (in his own words.) It is fascinating to hear the authors' view of his craft.

How To Make Pop Up's?


Feeling crafty? Robert Sabuda's website offers step by step tutorials on how to make your own pop up! The tutorials are organized by category and skill level plus provide pdf templates, instructional slideshows and motivation to DIY a pop up. My next DIY is the Pop Up Lion and Reindeer for the holidays.

Christmas Pop Up Books For All Ages


What I love about the Robert Sabuda collection of Christmas books is the appeal to all ages. If a book lover is on your Christmas list I guarantee delight when a Sabuda pop up book is received. Half the fun of giving a popup book is watching the facial expressions as the pages are turned and each page brings spectacular artistry mixed with the classic stories of Christmas.

More Robert Sabuda Pop Up Books


Classic children stories and topics are also artistically created by Sabuda and a wonderful gift for any occasion. Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, The Wizard Of Oz, Beauty And The Beast, The Little Mermaid, The Movable Mother Goose and Cookie Count are among my favorites. Dinosaur fans will love -  absolutely love the Dinosaur book.




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Monday, October 8, 2018

The Robin Revue: Watching Our Baby Robins Hatch

Oh what a show I enjoyed this Spring! I enjoyed an up close and personal seat to a family of baby robins being born. As a nature and animal lover I was in awe of two industrious robins persevering in a city neighborhood to expand their family on my front porch. I usually write reviews on Review This!, but thought this was a revue all could enjoy.


Day 1 What Is On The Porch Light?


As I drove into the driveway I noticed something hanging on the front porch light. Hmmm. The something looked like straw. Upon further investigation I determined the something was dried lawn clippings and a few pieces of string. Hmmm. The light bulb had not quite shown brightly yet.

The light bulb began to glow a wee bit brighter when hours later I drove down the driveway and noticed quite a bit of activity on the porch light; I saw a bird flying to the porch light with a mouthful of string. When I returned hours later I discovered a nicely built nest on top of the porch light. (It took awhile for the light bulb to burn brightly, some days are like that!)


I wasn't sure this would be the best place for a nest - but what do I know. I love all animals, but admit I know little about birds. At this point I wasn't sure what type of birds had built the nest as I had not gotten a good look at the nest. Although the nest looks lopsided and perhaps flimsy the nest was actually anchored around the point of the top of the porch light.

 Mom And Dad Robin Continue Nest Building


The nest became a very popular hangout for Mom and Dad Robin. I had identified the birds as robins and they must have been doing a little internal nest housekeeping with the amount of activity to and from the nest from the trees nearby. I was still questioning if this was a great place for a nest. I tried to look at the location from the robins' point of view. Yes, the nest was high off the ground and well, that was about all I could come up with ...  I thought about not turning the light on at night or what would happen if the light was accidentally turned on? I thought about the UPS deliveries, the dog walkers, the dog who lives in the home of the nest! The porch light did not seem like a great location, but of course I was vested in keeping this nest safe.

As the robins did housekeeping in the nest I found both robins quite nonchalant about the location and the bustling activity in and out the door. I was warned robins could dive bomb you if you are too close to the nest, but these two robins were pretty laid back. Until.... the eggs were laid.

We've Got Robin Eggs


Disclaimer: The photos are not always are not always the best quality as the porch light is 8 feet high and I had to get on a step ladder and then blindly hold out the camera over the top of the nest while trying not to fall off the ladder! 

One egg and Two Newborn Robins


And then there were 3 baby robins. Okay, not exactly the cutest little fuzzballs!



But growing fast!


Starting to get feathers!


Dad Robin Is An Excellent Guard


As Mom robin tended to her duties on the nest it was clear Dad Robin was not going to allow anyone near the nests. He was either in a tree about 50 feet away chirping or on this bush 10 feet away standing guard. If you opened the front door or he saw you approach the front door from the interior through the storm glass he would start shrieking and start dive bombing the door. (Dive bombing bird = not good photos!) I was so curious to see the robins, but did not want to disturb their newborn family or stress the birds. 



Taking photos of the bird nest became a two person challenge. If both birds were gone I would very very quickly try to take a photo.

The Family Of Three Robins Grows


Since I could not see what image I was taking it was always a surprise when I checked the photos.


I can't believe how quick the baby robins grew. The average baby robin takes two weeks to reach the size of their parents. The nest was quickly becoming a tight fit for the three babies.


The babies would hold their heads up and cheep cheep waiting for mom to return.


By ten days old the feathers had grown and it was difficult to find the babies in the nest with all the feathers.



I don't know if there is a runt of the litter in the bird world, but one little robin always seemed to be buried in the nest while two of the babies were adept at sticking their heads up above the nest.


Day 12 brought a nest full of what appeared to be very mature robins. By this time the family had become very territorial of the robins and anxiously checked all day to make sure they were safe. However due to their size it was clear leaving the nest was in the imminent future.

Time To Say Goodbye!


Right on schedule Day 13 brought the departure of the baby robins. I did not want to disturb the robins as we anxiously awaited lift off so did not take any photos. My family kept their distance to nervously watch the departure. It was more of a kerplunk then lift off. Thankfully the exit was a safe kerplunk into the fluffy tree and then the babies and parents flew to the tree about 50 feet away.

Whew! I was definitely vested in this little ole family and was relieved it was a successful journey from egg to exit.
Collage of the birth of baby robins.


All that was left was the nest as a reminder of our time together! As if on cue after the babies exit the nest fell off the porch light on Day 14. 






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Thursday, October 4, 2018

Bagster Review

Have you ever started a home improvement project and found the debris begins taking on a life and area of its' own?  Improving one's home can be like opening Pandora's Box; one never knows what you will find lurking in, under, or behind an older home which brings the inevitable problem of how to dispose of construction debris.

We recently demolished an old and small wooden deck. Somehow the little deck turned into a very large pile of debris which seemed to keep growing and growing. Remodeling can be like cutting your own bangs; once you start it is hard to stop. Since we were demolishing the deck... well, of course we should cut down the old unwieldy bush and then could not ignore the well worn railroad ties around the garden bed which had outlived their usefulness.


Where and how to dispose of all these goodies? Even though the pile kept growing the size did not warrant renting a dumpster. At the suggestion of the carpenter the Bagster was investigated to help unload our pile of construction debris.


What Is The Bagster?

The Bagster is a disposable bag which can hold up to 3,300 pounds of debris or waste. The purchase of the Bagster allows access to the Bagster Pick Up and Disposal Service operated by Waste Management. It is an on demand debris removal also referred to as a dumpster in a bag.



Dumpster or Bagster

In my area it is difficult to rent a small dumpster due to the booming construction industry for both pros and DIYers. Small dumpsters are difficult to rent and one must also have the room to park the dumpster.

It was clear when the deck (it looked so small) was being removed and parked on the lawn this was more construction debris then anticipated. The pike kept growing ! Who knew such a little deck could produce so much construction debris? The dirt was also filled with concrete from the original construction of the house over 50 years ago.

Now what? Enter the Bagster.




Where To Find The Bagster

I purchased the Bagster from Amazon  for $29.95. For our project we needed 1.5 Bagsters so of course not wanting to pass up the opportunity to clean out the garage we made great use of the remaining area in the Bagster.


Note: Review the Do’s and Dont's as to the type of materials accepted in the Bagster. We had old pieces of odd shaped concrete which had been hanging around the garage for years we happily filled up the remainder of the Bagster. Actually everything we wanted to put into the Bagster was on the Do list for our area.

Schedule The Bagster Pick Up

The system worked flawlessly. I used the online scheduler at approximately midnight on a Monday. I received a confirmation email of the order and subsequent emails throughout the progress of my order through the process.On Wednesday morning at approximately 5:30 am I heard a rumble outside and it was the very large crane/truck arriving to pick up the 2 Bagsters. Shortly after the pick up I received an email completing the process.

Pricing Of the Bagster Pick Up

The pricing of the Bagster and debris removal is two fold: the cost of the Bagster plus the cost of the removal by Waste Management. The cost varies per area and the flat rate can be obtained on the Bagster website. Two Bagsters plus the pick up charge was lower than the cost of renting a small dumpster and so much more convenient!

The Yellow Bagster Handles

The Bagster deceptively indeed holds ALOT of debris.It is critical the yellow handles “touch” for the Bagster to be picked up by the truck as a large crane must be able to lift the
Bagster up by grabbing the handles.


This information is clearly stated on the Bagster bag instructions and the website and do not ignore! 

Coupons

Online scheduling allows a customer to take advantage of a discount off the pick up price of more than one Bagster. Coupons are also available online by searching Bagster coupons.

Recommendation 

I highly recommend the Bagster. It worked flawlessly from start to finish. I’m still surprised how much construction debris can fit into one Bagster. Quick, convenient and on demand debris removal fit our construction project perfectly.


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Saturday, August 18, 2018

DesignEvo: Free Logo Maker Reviewed

Need a logo in minutes? DesignEvo is a free online logo maker which gives users the ability to make a logo in minutes; whether a novice or graphics professional DesignEvo provides the online software to make, create and design a logo quickly and easily.

Easy As 1-2-3

 

DesignEvo promises that a logo can be made in minutes and what is promised is delivered. I actually timed the making of this logo with a DesignEvo template. I used my lifestyle website and tagline to explore designing a new logo.


How To Use DesignEvo


I launched the free logo maker, scrolled down to my chosen category (Letter), scrolled through the options, entered the website name (or Company Name),  tagline and voila! Total creation time including download and social share =  2.5 minutes.
After creating the logo I quickly modified a few parts of the design. I tweeked the size,  modified the dot icons, changed the background color and then proceeded to download the logo and the required social share.

The requirement for a FREE logo to download for your use is very simple; a social share is required prior to downloading and credit on your website or blog. After downloading you will find a zip file with the logo as a jpg, png and a readme file with the share requirements.


What You See Is What You Get

The design interface is very user friendly and intuitive. Once the logo is created a Preview is available to see your logo on business cards, letterhead or media products.

This is a very nice program for novices to instantly create a logo by using the provided templates; for those with more advanced graphic skills the online software has the features to further customize the logo.



Customize Your Free Logo

Your logo can be easily customized with the color, font and transparency options. If you have the HEX colors for your company then the color of your logo can be changed with a few clicks of the mouse. The interface is clean, self explanatory and easy to navigate; if help is needed video tutorials and FAQ's are available under Support.


Who Is DesignEvo?

The About page of DesignEvo gives insight into the evolution of DesignEvo. Pearl Mountain developed Fotojet, a free online collage maker and is also the creator of DesignEvo. The logo maker is free or users have the option to purchase advanced features for a one time annual fee. Logo features such as resolution, copyright, vector files are restricted to the paid version.


Recommendation

I enjoyed the ease of using DesignEvo, the user friendly interface and the instantaneous results of a ready to use logo within minutes.  Colors, fonts, icons and graphics are just a click away to personalize your logo to your brand or create a brand new logo with a customizable template.




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Review This is Dedicated to the Memory of Our Beloved Friend and Fellow Contributor
We may be apart, but You Are Not Forgotten

Susan DeppnerSusan Deppner