Showing posts with label review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label review. Show all posts

Thursday, June 21, 2018

DIY Mercury Glass



It's time for a DIY project for the true romantics out there.  Is there anything lovelier than fresh cut flowers in an antiqued mercury glass vase?  Perhaps the reason mercury glass is such a popular centerpiece at weddings is the nostalgic effect it has on us.  I absolutely love the understated beauty and elegance of silvered glass.  The look, and the effect, is way too wonderful to save only for special occasions.  

I invite you to follow along with me and transform your own gorgeous flower vessels.  It takes very little time and money to create the beautiful mercury glass effect presented here.  In less than an hour, you can be enjoying your own timeless centerpiece.  If you're like me, you'll get hooked and create any number of these mercury glass vases for yourself and for gifting to friends and family.  This is a gift you can be sure will be used and appreciated.


What You Will Need
* Glass vase
* White vinegar
* Water
* Misting pump bottle
* Paper towels

Optional
* Tarp or plastic drop cloth
* Wooden dowel rod
* Gloves

Steps 1-5
  1. Mix one cup of white vinegar with one cup of water.  Pour into misting bottle.
  2. Use a paper towel or soft cloth to wipe your glass clean.
  3. Protect work surfaces with a tarp, newspapers, or a drop cloth.  
  4. Test mister to ensure you will get a very fine spray.
  5. Shake up your spray paint for two minutes.

Step 6
Depending on the type of glass container you are painting, you may find it very helpful to use a dowel rod.  Supporting your vase with a dowel makes it easy to mist and spray all of the surfaces at the same time (without getting paint on your hands or fingerprints on your vase).  It also enables you to spray the bottom of the vase without waiting for the paint to dry on the sides of the container.

When I was painting the test tube vases, I used short dowel rods that I stood on end in an old piece of wood.  All I did was drill some holes in a two-by-four.  Then, I stacked each test tube on a dowel, leaving enough space in between to give me room to maneuver with the mister and spray paint.



Steps 7-8
Spray a very fine mist of the vinegar water on your vase.  The key to success is to start with a very light coating of the mist.  If you get large, running droplets, go ahead and wipe it down with a paper towel and start again.

Immediately spray over the mist with a light coat of the Looking Glass spray paint.  You will repeat these steps two to three times, so it is important not to try to get all of the silvering done all at once.  Light layering is essential to getting the desired vintage look of mercury glass.






Step 9
Very gently dab all over the misted and painted surface of the glass with a clean and dry paper towel. You want to blot up all spots of water and any larger droplets of paint.  This step creates the aged look of the silvered glass.











Step 10
Repeat the misting, painting, and blotting process until you are happy with the final effect.  I repeated the process three times on the vases pictured in this tutorial.


Step 11
Once the paint is dry, experiment with arranging your favorite flowers in your gorgeous mercury glass vases.  They look really nice in groupings of various sizes and shapes.

In this example, I placed three mercury glass test tubes in an antique bed spring.  The addition of a beveled mirror base created stability and an interesting reflective quality.  Peonies seemed just right for this type of vintage floral arrangement.















Mercury glass centerpieces don't have to be expensive to look like you spent big bucks at a floral shop.  Use the glass you already have at home.  It is so easy to upcycle any ordinary jar or cheap vase into something extraordinary.  There is something incredibly satisfying about giving a face-lift to a common, plain item.

We all hold the power of transformation in our hands.  Let's go create and share some beauty today.



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Best Choice Products 2 in 1 Dog Trailer - Review

Finn's New Adventure Mobile
Let's go!  These are the magic words that make my dog's heart sing.  Finn is always thrilled when we head out for an adventure, but his disability requires thoughtful solutions that enable him to enjoy rigorous outdoor activities.  This is why I bought Finn the Best Choice Products 2 in 1 Dog Stroller/Trailer this week. Now he can go on extended hikes and bike rides without hurting or overly stressing his body.

When I adopted Finn a few months ago, the first thing I acquired for him was a standard dog stroller.  That stroller has been an important mobility aid given Finn's limited use of his rear legs, but it has significant issues.  The stroller is tippy and its small wheels can only handle paved surfaces.  Given the rugged terrain where we live and play, it quickly became apparent that we needed a different style of dog stroller.

As I initiated a search for Finn's next adventure mobile, my wish list included the following features: lower center of gravity (closer to the ground); bigger wheels; dual use features (bike trailer option in addition to stroller function); and affordability (many dog trailers cost several hundred dollars).

After considering several products, I found one that offered more than I was seeking.  The price was right (two to three hundred dollars less than other models offering fewer features) and the shipping was fast and free.  Everything arrived carefully packed.

Here's what I received in the box (clockwise from bottom center): tool kit; instructions; front swivel wheel and fork; safety flag; handlebars with brake; rear wheels; and trailer body.



In addition to getting the larger wheels (19-inch) on my wish list, I was especially happy to receive the bonus of a suspension system that will provide shock absorption.  I want Finn to have as smooth a ride as possible.  This is one of the more important features for a dog that cannot balance on all four legs.






I was ready to purchase another trailer model until I read complaints about the front wheel being stationary.  Because the wheel did not swivel, turning was tedious.  I now realize what a mistake it would have been to go with a stroller that was hard to maneuver around curves and corners.  The front wheel on this model can swivel 360 degrees and is 9.5 inches high.











Another complaint about some of the other dog strollers that I initially considered was that they lacked any storage options.  This model has two pockets, one on each side of the trailer body, that are just perfect for storing a cell phone, keys, or a wallet.













Though the trailer can be compacted for travel, I find it is easiest to just leave it fully assembled and use the bed of my truck for moving it around.  Even though I have a short bed on my Sport Trac, it is large enough to haul this trailer.  Anyone with a van, SUV, or truck will have plenty of room to easily transport this dog trailer.  The external dimensions are: 30" wide x 46" long x 38" high.  At 37 pounds, I can easily lift and load this stroller/trailer by myself.


Let's move on to what Finn likes about his new ride.  When I asked him, he wanted to make sure I mentioned his awesome sunroof.  That's pretty much his favorite feature.  I've been keeping the roof open while we're cruising so Finn can keep an eye on my driving.  The sunroof does have a screen and rain guard.  Given that the weather can change every five minutes in Colorado, I'm sure that hatch cover will be put to use.




Finn also likes the roomy interior of his carriage.  There is plenty of space to lie down comfortably.  The internal dimensions are: 23" wide x 28" long x 22" high.  He also enjoys all of the screened in picture windows.  This is one fabulous room with a view.








Most of all, Finn and I love the anticipation of all the places we will now be able to go.  We highly recommend the Best Choice Products 2 in 1 Dog Trailer.  It's not just for disabled dogs.  Most dogs could benefit from this mobility aid during some season in their lives.  Young pups and senior dogs often tire easily on long walks.  Also, many dogs have periods of time when they are recovering from something that limits their capacity to get around (a surgical procedure, injury, etc.).  It is so hard for a dog to be grounded.  Anything that keeps a dog's spirits up and is good for his overall well-being is so worth the investment.

Stay tuned for updates as we test the bicycle trailer option and take our first road trip.
















Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Embark Dog DNA Test Review

Embark Dog DNA Test Kit

Dogs are such wondrous mysteries.  When we adopt a rescue animal, there is this vast unknown.  It is only natural to have a desire to discover as much as possible about a new family member.  In the quest to uncover a newly adopted fur baby’s history, more and more pet parents are choosing to explore their dog’s breed mix, heritage, and health profiles through DNA analysis.  This is where the Embark Dog DNA Test comes into play.

Finn's Disability is Congenital
I have had so many questions about my newest dog, Finn.  Because he was rescued from a situation of extreme neglect, and because Finn has a congenital condition (Medial Patella Luxation), it seemed especially critical to know more about potential health issues.  Of course, like most people who choose to have their dogs tested, I was also excited to gain a greater insight into Finn’s family tree.  One of my biggest questions, with regard to Finn being rescued with a group of dogs (a hoarding case), has centered on what his relationship might be to the other dogs that were trapped in the same household with him.

My decision to send Finn’s DNA to Embark’s veterinary geneticists came about when a fellow adopter of one of the dogs saved with Finn spoke to me about Clark’s DNA results.  I suspected that Finn and Clark might share a Border collie ancestor.  Curiosity led me to go online and order my Embark Dog DNA Test so I could compare Clark and Finn’s results.  Amazingly, my test kit arrived within three business days. 

Finn's DNA Sample
Collecting Finn’s DNA sample took just 30 seconds.  Using the swab in the kit, I soaked up a small amount of saliva and secured the sample in the vial provided for preservation.  Mailing the vial could not have been easier.  A postage paid label and box were provided.

Embark is exceptional when it comes to communication.  At every step along the way, I was notified by email and text message about what was happening with Finn’s DNA sample.  For instance, I knew when it was in the centrifuge, when it was being purified, when the DNA was being replicated (one million copies!), and when the geneticists were beginning to build Finn’s profile chromosome by chromosome. 
Finn's Health Summary
First, I received Finn’s health summary.  I was relieved to see that he is clear of each of the common genetic conditions identified for his breed mix.  Competitors charge extra for each test.  I appreciated the advantage of having all of these genetic disease tests included in the price of the Embark test kit.  As a bonus, a custom report was provided for Finn’s vet.  



Finn's Breed Mix
Next, the greatly anticipated breed mix report arrived through my online portal.  Wow!  I was expecting Finn to be part poodle and part Border collie.  That was confirmed.  What I didn’t anticipate were all of the other interesting breed mixes and percentages.  

Finn's Family Tree

There are other advanced features and analyses too involved to cover in this review.  One thing I will mention is that Finn now has the opportunity to contribute to cutting-edge research.  When I chose the Embark Dog DNA Test, one of the factors that appealed to me most was that of the ongoing research which would provide me with continual updates. 

Though there are less expensive DNA tests, with faster results, I am completely sold on Embark's comprehensive package.  I feel the cost was reasonable for what I gained in terms of knowledge about Finn, reassurance about his genetic disease risk, and the fascinating details about canine genes.  I highly recommend Embark's Dog DNA Test.










Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Easily Increase Your Vegetable Intake with a Spiralizer

how to make zucchini noodles with a vegetable spiralizer
Image by Lou of Lou's Designs
If you're looking to increase your vegetable intake or reduce some of the heavy carbs like pasta from your diet then a spiralizer could be the answer.  Let me review why I think you'll adore having a vegetable spiralizer - I personally love mine, I don't know why I didn't get one sooner.

At the time of writing this I'm doing the Arbonne 30 Day Plan to Healthy Living and Beyond and basically that means that (for this month at least) I can't eat pasta, I can eat zucchini however ... enter zoodles! 

I have been meaning to try and made zoodles aka zucchini noodles for ages which is the whole reason I purchased my vegetable spiralizer.

Making the zucchini noodles was so easy and I'm now seeing lots of other recipes using other vegetables in place of pasta.  What a cool way of getting your child to eat more vegetables than to make their spaghetti bolognaise with zoodles?

So my vegetable spiralizer came with three different blades like the Paderno World Cuisine one below, but you can also get them with 7 blades, Amazon's best selling vegetable spiralizer comes with 7 blades and is the second one featured.




The actual one that I have doesn't seem to be available online which is why I've given you two alternatives.  Now I've only used the blade to made noodles so I'd just get the 3 blade one personally, but...

They were super easy to make you simply placed the zucchini (or vegetable of choice) on the spiky guard, making sure that the other end is in the middle of the round thing that is going to basically core your zucchini so that it looks like a very weird toadstool after the noodles are all made.

The next step is to simply turn the handle, however if that is all you do you won't get very long noodles, you'll just get little curls (they don't say that in the instructions).  What you need to do is as you're turning the handle you need to also be applying a gentle pressure inwards (towards the vegetable) then it will work beautifully.

It is super quick and I simply popped the zoodles into boiling water for a few minutes - basically treating them like fresh pasta noodles.  I've since been told of other ways of cooking them that involve almost sauteing them in coconut oil, but I haven't tried that (and probably won't).

how to make zucchini noodles so that your kids want to eat their vegetables
Image by Louanne Cox, Arbonne Independent Consultant

I would recommend starting with zucchini as it's quite a bland vegetable which makes it ideal to replace spaghetti.  I would also recommend a pinch of salt in the water when cooking it, I didn't do this the first time and it was much better when I did do it.

You can use sweet potato, carrot, parsnips and who knows what other vegetable, just use your imagination.

I will be trying out sweet potato next as I think that will go really well with a number of dishes I enjoy.

Have you ever tired zoodles or thought about making them?  If so then why wait, just do it as Nike would say!

Let me know in the comments if you've tried any other vegetables as I'd love to hear how they went.


Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Amazing Hobby Kits That Will Encourage Dexterity and Fun! A Review

Kids love to use their hands! Let's Review how to help them make beautiful and fun things!

Christmas is just days away and everyone, kids and grown ups too, are looking forward to those fun family times that they can spend together.  Making great memories is all part of the fun at Christmas time.  Those memories are made up of the times we play together, learn together and just have some fun together. So let's get down to Reviewing some great ways to make memories and get those children using their creative juices in fun and crafty ways.

I can't think of a better way of making lasting memories than sharing what we love!  It's so easy to do, with a little foresight and planning your children and grandchildren will be so engaged in something new.



hobby kits, sewing, crafts, review this
Crafts that keep their hands busy are especially wonderful.  They will learn new skills  and make something that they can share with their friends too.  These crafts like embroidery, can easily be taught to those children in the 7 to 9 year range or older.  They have enough dexterity in their fingers to handle the tiny details.  They can try to make something extra special with several different kits that you can put together yourself or there are kits available that have everything needed to complete a project from start to finish.

Whether it's knitting or sewing, origami (paper folding), or needlepoint, little hands love to try and we as parents and grandparents love to share!  Premade kits are available and generally they have a great range of ages that are capable of following the instructions!  You don't want to overwhelm them with something too difficult for their little hands to accomplish.

I personally love this kit from Amazon!  You see I was a dressmaker for many, many years and my love for sewing started out when I was 7 or 8.  I made pillows and little critters for everyone.  My mother whose 86 now, still has a pillow that I made for her!  So if sewing is one of your favorite pastimes, this kit would be a perfect way to share that love!

So many projects and they are all very interesting and creative too! You don't have to invest a lot of money into a craft, just find out if that particular craft resonates with your young ones. If not, then they will still have learned a lesson in creativity!

Maybe your little one's hands aren't ready for those really small motor skills or they are much more interested in putting their visions and ideas onto paper!  One of my granddaughters is a master at drawing and loves to do that more than anything.


hobbies, making memories, family time, review this
Her poor dad is always running out of computer paper because my little Miss Addie, has drawn on each and every page available to her.  We needed to find something for her so that her Dad could keep his paper where he needed it and she could draw to her hearts content.  We found a great compromise and she is over the moon about it too!

Have you heard of Boogie Boards?  They are similar to the "Etch-a-Sketch" that we had in our day, but easier to use.  Kids can draw on the pad with a stylus and then erase it at will.  It's great for long road trips when you know the children will get restless, and a great way for kids to use their hands creatively.

Now if you have a budding scientist in your midst, then I would suggest one of the many kits that are available for them too. They can Tumble rocks or grow their own crystals, or even make their own soaps and beauty products. There are kits for knitting and crochet, macrame and T-shirt printing. Anything that is hobby related has a book or several books to give children ideas and projects that will keep their hands busy.

Grammie Olivia's Hobby Central
This is one of my favorite pages on Amazon. All of my grandchildren will be getting something special from these pages, because there is just so much to choose from.  Please let me know if you find that special something for your children or grandchildren!  Have fun making memories and great crafts too!

My friend Bev, just did a great review on a Science Lab that would be perfect for little girls too, you can check out her Review right here!


pictures are courtesy of Pixabay.com




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

3 Outstanding Picture Book Stories to Win Little Hearts

Three Outstanding Picture Books to Win Little Hearts (A Review)

Today we will look at three books written by Pat Furstenberg


Everyone knows that children love Pictures and Picture books with lots of interesting words and sounds.  Part of every childs' development comes from those times when they are snuggled up with mom or dad, Grammie or Grandpa listening to the words and looking at the pictures.  It's also a wonderful time to bond with our children and grandchildren in a way that will bring fond memories back to them one day.


From my own experience, there is nothing quite like the quiet time spent with my little ones telling a story, listening to them describe how they see the pictures and teaching them some great life lessons all at the same time.  Books and the words they contain are stepping stones that children love to learn and hear.  So when you come across some books that you know children will love, it's only fair to share what you have found.


Rhyming and word-play are an important part of every child's verbal development.  There are word rhymes that are still taught to children today that go back at least 60 to 70 years and we are still teaching these same rhymes with their sing song rythms.  The kids just love them all.



These three books by Pat Furstenberg are all written in this way.  The pictures are delightful and the stories themselves are ones that will resonate with big and  little hearts.  Children will enjoy the stories of unlikely friends, while parents and grandparents can tell little side stories too. 


The Cheetah and the Dog are an unlikely pair, yet they become and remain good friends even though no on thought this was possible.  Too many differences don't matter when your hearts are in the same place.  How many times does that happen in real life?  Do you have a friendship that is still as strong as the Cheetah's and the Dog's? 



The Elephant and the Sheep is an endearing story too!  How often we make friends but don't think beyond what we see right in front of us.  Each of our lives are different, but, the one thing we all need is a friend.  A friend that can see beyond our hardships and differences. Only when we try really hard do we sometimes find out the truth.  Little sheep learns a valuable lesson about friendship,  love, and family.  Elephant learns something too,  family can be much more than living with other elephants.  Family can be living with those who love us!


The Lion and the Dog is another story about our differences and how they really don't matter.  What matters is how we care and treat each other.  Lion is so sad, yet the little dog Milo doesn't give up on Leo, even when he is less than friendly.  Milo knows what every good dog knows,  everyone needs a friend!  


If you have children, reading them stories about friendship and caring for others is a great way to encourage empathy at a young age.  The world needs more of that!  Word play and stories with great illustrations makes it easy for parents and grandparents to instill little life lessons in a very heart-warming way.  

If you are a member of Amazon Prime, you can get these books and so many more by Patricia and other authors as well, delivered right to your Kindle device and some are free with Prime Membership.









Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The Art of Racing in the Rain Book Review

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein was the latest book for my book club. As usual in the weeks leading up to my book club's meeting, my husband could be heard uttering his usual reminder, "Have you finished the book?" This time, however, he was particularly interested in the book because the main character is a dog named Enzo Ferrari. Yes, Ferrari as in the car.

The story is told from Enzo's perspective. The idea of reading a book from the point of view of a dog might seem weird but it worked. It doesn't actually seem like a dog talking although the narration definitely looks at the world from the Enzo's point of view.

Enzo believes in reincarnation and really wants to be reincarnated as a human being so that he can voice his views (and so that he can have thumbs.) He understands everything that people say and wants to add his thoughts to the conversation.

Did I say that the story is about a race car driver, too? Enzo's master is a driver and Enzo is therefore often immersed in the world of race car driving. Don't let that put you off though. If you are not into race car driving, you will still enjoy this book. Race car driving is simply the world that the characters in this book live in though if you are like me, you might also learn a bit about race car driving. There is never anything wrong with learning about another world.

Enzo is not like other dogs. He is a philosopher and is almost human in a number of ways. He is self-educated with the help of his television and his master, Danny Swift. In the story, Enzo reflects back on his life, the life of the Swift family, on what he has learned about being human and, as the book says, "how life, like racing, is about so much more than simply going fast."

I expected my book club book to analyze this book. However, they did not. Instead, they pretty much unanimously agreed that it was a pleasant book and a nice read. Some questioned a few life-changing decisions on the part of the main characters and some including myself particularly enjoyed the comical moments in the book.

So is it recommended? Yes. The Art of Racing in the Rain was a New York Times best seller for many weeks. It is a good story. It is lighthearted though sometimes sad and there are definitely some things between the covers to think about. I think the book is perfect for dog lovers and enjoyable for the rest of us, too.

The way, the image that I think most reflects what Enzo looks like is at the top of the page. That image just seems to capture Enzo's spirit. You don't have to agree with me on that point but you can see all of the artwork available on the covers of The Art of Racing in the Rain on Amazon by clicking right here. Of course, you can also order yourself a copy of the book at that location, too.

This book is set to become a movie though originally Universal Studios picked up the rights and then did not follow through. However, The Hollywood Reporter says that Walt Disney Studios has picked up the rights so now all we have to do is wait and see what Disney puts together for us. Disney has made a lot of successful dog movies; let's hope they do this one properly.

Have you read The Art of Racing in the Rain? Would you recommend it? What else have you read lately?

See you at the bookstore!

Brenda
Treasures by Brenda

Quick Link:

Order your copy of The Art of Racing in the Rain on Amazon here.







Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.