Sunday, July 10, 2016

3 Ways to Light Up Your Yard Without Using Electricity

By now we're all pretty familiar with solar string lights for the backyard, however there are additional creative ways you can incorporate solar lighting.

Here are three creative ideas to help you light up your yard at night by using the power of the sun during the day:

Table Umbrella with Solar Lights Via Amazon

Find Additional Solar Umbrellas Here
1. A Table Umbrella with Solar Lights 

In the evening, your backyard celebration will surely include people sitting around a patio table either chatting, eating, playing games or just relaxing. 

Most of the time we light a table using candles (sometimes bug candles). You can still light up that bug candle to keep those bugs away, however, a solar patio umbrella is a better way to naturally light up the entire table. Although lights attract bugs, we've battled that very effectively by putting a huge mosquito net over our patio umbrella. We've used this net when we have a sit-down dinner outside in our backyard as well. 

The top of a solar umbrella has a rechargeable solar panel that charges all day. At night, your umbrella will light up via an on/off switch. On average you'll find most solar umbrellas have approximately 24 to 40 lights. Of course that will vary depending up the size and manufacturer.

If you haven't heard of Luci Inflatable Solar Lights, you're going to love their many multiple uses and applications.

These compact solar lights that deflate to approximately 1" in size make them ideal for not only backyard gatherings, but also to take camping, hiking, as emergency lighting, pool lights, indoor mood or night lighting, and much more.

In terms of backyard gatherings, these waterproof inflatable solar lights are a great way to provide lighting in a pool at night. Just toss a bunch of them in the water and your pool will have multi colored night time funky lighting!

The goodness doesn't end there: The lights are made by USA based MPOWERD, a socially-conscious company who aims to provide lighting to poorer countries around the world where access to electricity is non-existent or limited. One example of their mission is the difference they've made providing portable inflatable solar lights to the victims of the Nepal earthquake in 2015.

If you're looking for a funky way to light up your backyard patio table and are especially eager to add colorful interest, then you're going to love these little gems!

They're appeal are the colors they emit at night and of course, the lovely mosaic glass also looks decorative during the day.

You can set this crystal glass mosaic solar light to single color mode or set it to cycle through all colors. You can also set it to emit a clear light through the funky colored mosaic tiles to give off a lovely constant pattern as you see in the photo displayed here.

Again, like all things solar, they charge during the day in the sun, and have an on/off switch for you to use it or not use it at night.

There you have it, three ways to light up your yard at night without flipping that electricity switch.

Happy Summer Savings :)

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Saturday, July 9, 2016

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry - Book Review

by Fredrik Backman

A Delightful and Most Charming Story

Elsa is seven-going-on-eight, and different.  Granny is seventy-seven years old, and nutty. They are best friends and love each other dearly.  Elsa admits only to herself that her granny is her ONLY friend, as her school chums think her strange and are mean to her. Elsa's strangeness is only in the fact that she is extremely smart and very grown-up for her age (constantly looking words up on Wikipedia!). Her world revolves around her grandmother, her parents, adventures in the fairy tales granny tells, and her admiration for superheros and Harry Potter.

Elsa's parents are divorced and she sees her dad every-other-weekend.  The rest of the time she lives with her mom, who is expecting a baby, and George on the top floor of a 4-story flat across the hall from her grandmother.  The rest of the apartment building is filled with a strange mixture of people we learn about as time goes on. 

The Land-of-Almost-Awake


For quite some years, Granny has been telling fairy tales to Elsa to help her go to sleep and get her to practice Granny's secret language.  The fairy tales take place in the "Land-of-Almost-Awake" and the "Kingdom of Miamas" where everybody is different and nobody needs to be normal. 

Later, Elsa's grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters apologizing to people she has wronged.  The letters are entrusted to Elsa to deliver, bringing about her greatest adventure ever.  The stories of the people who live in the apartment building, including a brave dog who is very much like the 'wurse' in the Kingdom of Miamas, are revealed to us one by one.  As each letter is delivered we learn the truth about fairy tales and kingdoms and a grandmother like no other.

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry was written by Fredrik Backman, a native of Sweden who lives in Stockholm. This is only his second novel, but you get the feeling from this well-written story that he has been writing for a very long time. 

His first novel is A Man Called Ove, which became a #1 bestseller in Sweden. 

*Note: When Backman's second book was first published in England in 2014, it had the title: My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologises. 

My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She's Sorry


My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry is an absolutely charming story filled with humor and wisdom, and with a glimpse into a fairy tale world we all wish we could visit.  I took Elsa and her grandmother so much to heart that when I finished the book I wanted to immediately go back to page one and read it all over again. You'll laugh, you'll cry, and you will fall in love with these delightful characters. I highly recommend this book.

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Friday, July 8, 2016

Good Cook Safe Cut Can Opener Reviewed

Are you tired of can tops that will cut your fingers and hands?  This simple safe cut can opener opens the can without leaving a sharp edge on the lid.
Are you tired of can tops that will cut your fingers and hands?  Do you worry that anyone who sticks their hands in the trash can will cut their hands on can lids with sharp edges?  Or perhaps, you stress that just compressing the trash with your hands will result in an injury due to sharp can lids.  If this is a problem in your home, than I have a solution for you. 

I know that intro just sounded like an infomercial, but this article is in fact a review of the Good Cook Safe Cut Can Opener.  I can tell you from years of experience that this simple can opener will make working in the kitchen safer when opening cans.    

This simple safe cut can opener removes the lid from a can without leaving a sharp edge on the lid top.

Discovery of the Safe Cut Can Opener

 Good Cook Classic 4 in 1 Can OpenerSeveral years ago, we were vacationing in Florida.  We rented a condo that was fully furnished which included dishes, silverware and appliances in the kitchen.  Upon arrival, everyone was hungry.  Since we had brought groceries with us, that was no problem.  I grabbed the sea shell pasta and started preparing a light lunch of everyone's favorite pasta dish.  I had no trouble finding the large saucepan in the cookware or the spaghetti strainer in the condo kitchen, but I couldn't find the can opener for the tomato sauce anywhere.  I had found something that looked like a can opener, but it didn't work!  It wouldn't grip the can and cut it open.  

Several people in the condo tried their luck at making the blade-less can opener work.  Then, miracle of all miracles, our young son who had actually never used a hand held can opener, tried this unique can opener and it worked without any problem for him.  So, I tried to open the next can.  Nope!  Didn't work.  I called my little magician back into the kitchen and again, no problem.  He whipped that lid off so easily it actually started to annoy me.  

I studied the can opener, I studied the can for an explanation.  Then I checked out the lid and discovered the biggest shocker.  There was no sharp edge on the lid!  Now, that just really freaked me out.  I was seriously wondering if my son really did have magical abilities.

For several days, I played around with that can opener determined to solve the mystery.  It was one handle piece that didn't seem to latch down like a normal hand held can opener.  Day after day I kept calling on our son to open the cans for me.  Then, one day, out of the beautiful Florida blue, that can opener latched on to a can for me.  I turned the handle, and viola', the lid was off!  It was a gentle glide that didn't seem to cut at all.  Actually, I was surprised to find the lid was cut off the can.  I couldn't "feel" the can opener severing the lid from the can, but the lid was off and the edges of the lid were smooth.  That was just weird, but really cool!

This simple safe cut can opener opens the can without leaving a sharp edge on the lid
To Open:  Rest the Metal Guide Bar on Top of Can,
Hold the handle and turn the knob clockwise. 
Cutting wheel automatically engages once the knob starts turning.

It turned out that my mistake when trying to open the can was that I wanted the opener to latch onto the can before I started turning the knob.  You must start turning the knob for the cutting wheel to engage.

Before we left Florida that year, I had already found and purchased a can opener just like the one in the condo.  I still use it to this day.  When our children started college and moved into dorm rooms, I included a Good Cook Safe Cut Can Opener in their dorm room college supplies too.

Life Before My Safe Cut Can Opener

I loved my under the counter Spacemaker can opener.  It was actually one of the first things installed in my kitchen when we first moved in.  I can go further back than that even and tell you that I adored my electric can opener that sat on the kitchen counter before the days of under the counter appliances.  

I was never crazy about hand held can openers.  They were simply a necessity in the kitchen until the invention of the electric can openers.  However, I was more than happy to return to a hand held can opener when we discovered the safe cut can opener.  Having a smooth lid edge is definitely worth the minor inconvenience of holding the can opener.  I will also note that the Good Cook Safe Cut Can Opener is lighter weight than the older hand held can openers.  It also glides when cutting so you don't feel like you are expending the same amount of energy or effort to remove the lid.  

I will never go back to can lids that turn into blades in the trash now that there is a smooth lid edge option!

The cutter also includes a pop-top opener and a grip twist wrench in the center of the handle, plus a pull tab lifter under the cutting wheel area.

 Edited to Include this Video Showing how to Use the Good Cook Safe Cut Can Opener

Fay, Favored1, commented below that she watched a video on how to use this can opener.  I thought it would be a wonderful addition to add the video here for all to see, so no need to search it out yourself.  One thing he does mention that I neglected to mention above is how to release the can opener after it has finished cutting the lid.

He is using a different Good Cook Can opener without the pop top opener, but the can opening mechanism is the same on both.

The Good Cook Safe Cut Can Opener Reviewed by:
House of Sylvestermouse

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Thursday, July 7, 2016

Reviewing Earthbath Totally Natural Pet Shampoo

What do I believe is the best shampoo for dogs with dry, itchy skin? Earthbath Totally Natural Pet Shampoo with oatmeal and aloe. Here's my review.
When our dog, Daisy, was just a young pup, she suffered terribly from itchy skin. While she scratched, we researched and consulted with friends, as well as the vet, searching for a solution. Eventually, we found help for that dryness, itching, and irritation from scratching in the form of a product that we still use today, eight years later. What do we believe is the best shampoo for dogs with dry, itchy skin? Earthbath Totally Natural Pet Shampoo with oatmeal and aloe. Oh, what a difference and what a relief!

Daisy likes to sit in the grass, observing nature all around her, and we think the combination of bugs and grass, along with summer heat, tend to trigger her occasional episodes of excessive licking and scratching. As I write this it's early July and, just recently, the symptoms occurred once again. So this past weekend we hooked up the hose, grabbed the trusty bottle of Earthbath Oatmeal and Aloe and put it to work.

Besides the fact that the shampoo does such a great job at relieving her itching, we love using it because it smells wonderful and, while it's softening her skin and coat, it makes our hands soft, too. Today, almost a week after her recent bath, her coat still feels soft and she still smells good, too.

When we bathe Daisy we're liberal with the shampoo, but a 16-ounce bottle of Earthbath Totally Natural Pet Shampoo goes a long way and lasts a long time. Earthbath makes a variety of shampoos, even a version for cats and one for puppies, and you can choose based on your favorite scent or ingredients. Oatmeal baths are known for relieving itchy skin and aloe, of course, helps skin heal, so this version is perfect for our dog's needs. The ingredients are all natural, as the name implies, including the almond and vanilla essences that give it such a wonderful fragrance.

While I can't promise that the same shampoo will heal your dog's skin issues, the makers claim that it is safe, gentle, and effective. Based on our experiences, I have to agree with them 100 percent. This is a top-rated product, awarded 4.6 stars overall by over 1500 users on

I hope Earthbath products are around forever because I plan on being a customer for life. That's how much I love this pet shampoo.

Where To Buy Earthbath Products

If you're an Amazon Prime customer, you'll find the best price for Earthbath's products on Amazon. If you don't have Prime, then order your Earthbath shampoo on eBay to save money on shipping. Look for more Earthbath products here, including conditioners and grooming wipes for dogs and cats.

~ Susan
Read more of my reviews

Photo above property of the author.

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Summertime Learning Fun

Summertime Learning Fun happens when you spend some time together, exploring our world and answering all those questions that come up.  Like what's that Noise?  

If your children are anything like mine, and I'm sure they are, summertime means adventures.  It means spending a lot of time outdoors.  It means looking for things to do and exploring.  It means turning off the TV or computer games and getting back to nature in the great outdoors.  It could mean swimming every day, or going to the park, or camping.  Where ever you go, there is something to learn about!  

What else can you do?

Summertime opens up a whole new world for our children to learn.  While the kids are looking to 
relax and have fun, they are also looking for something that catches their imaginations or their need to know about their world.  To that end, most families will be spending some very special together time while on holidays. No baseball games, soccer practices, dance classes or other interruptions, just good old family time.     

Learning takes on a whole new meaning when summertime rolls around.  No "textbooks" and no real "agenda" means that learning is done on a whatever crosses my path and intrigues me basis. That can even happen at home too!  As I am writing, I can hear the toads singing in my pond. I need to learn more about them, so when my grandchildren come to visit, I can tell them some things that I'm sure they don't know.

Be Prepared!  

As parents who prepare to take our children on hikes and overnight camping trips, we need to be ready to answer questions that are sure to pop up.  Like "What's that noise?"  Even a trip to the zoo can be filled with questions that need answers.  Be prepared to either answer the questions or make note of the questions and when you are home again, look up the answers  together, so that both you and your child will  have learnt something new and you will have done it together.  This is what makes family memories.  We still laugh at some of the things that happened when we went places with our children. Now they are doing the same thing with their children and telling stories about when they were younger.  It's time to pass on family history as well as having time to enjoy nature.

Playing games with the kids can be so much fun too. We would take ours camping and find that the welcome station had many printouts for educational purposes. We would make the most out of these "handouts". One camping trip, they had a print out of all the birds that nested in the area, with hints for the kids. We would go on hikes and try to spot nesting areas and then spotting the birds too. There were print outs of the different trees and their leaves. We made a collection and even did bark rubbings. Have you ever stopped and looked at all the different types of bark on trees? It is fascinating! When the kids found what they were looking for, they would take a picture to go along with their leaves and bark rubbings, carefully noting the type of tree and all the nuances of it's growth. So much to learn, just from a tree! Birds and reptiles, amphibians and mammals of the area were all duly recorded. If we needed to learn more, a note was made in our notebook to look it up when we got back home. The kids loved their nature hikes, because it wasn't just walking through the woods, it was stopping and seeing what made up those woods. The trees, birds, bugs, flowers and everything that was in our path, was food for our "Discovery Book".

Guide to Free Campgrounds: Includes Campgrounds $12 and Under in the United States (Don Wright's Guide to Free Campgrounds)

So What Can you Do to Prepare for a great Outdoor Adventure?

Well first and foremost, check out the link above, to find some low cost campgrounds. It's a great way to pinpoint where your family will spend some quality time together, without breaking the bank.
This guide will help you look for a place that has some great outdoor adventures, be it hiking in the mountains, camping by a lake, or visiting a beach somewhere new. Go with the eye of an adventurer. Take along a "Discovery Book" a journal where you can make notes, tuck in leaves or flowers, keep a daily diary of what you saw, whether it was birds, bugs, beetles or trees. Answer the questions that you know the answers to and make a note to find the answers to those questions that you don't know the answers to. When you are finished your holiday, you will have a great little diary on what everyone saw and learnt about during your time in the great outdoors.

My Travel Journal

Above all, be ready to have some fun, make some memories and enjoy each others company in the great, beautiful and special outdoors.  Happy Summer Everyone!

Pictures courtesy of Pixaby, free stock photos. 

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Reviewing Kris Kristoffersons New Boxed Set

Perfect Gift For The Kristofferson Fan

Image Courtesy of
I recently treated myself to a little gift. Kris Kristofferson has released a new boxed set of compact discs that coincides with his 80th birthday. If you are a fan of his like I am or you know someone who is, this boxed set is a must have. 

Some people do not appreciate his singing voice and even he has said in the past that he thinks he sounds like a frog but his music transcends his voice, in my opinion. He is, by far, one of the best songwriters to ever walk this earth. I've been a fan of his songs for many decades now and for me it has always been more about the stories he tells in the songs that he writes. Kris makes you "feel" something when you listen to the words that make up the music. You may feel sad, happy or even sometimes a little angry when you listen to him, but always entertained. 

The boxed set includes 16 compact discs! There are 11 that are the first albums released by Kristofferson and then 5 CDs that are live performances done at various venues back in the day. What I love about this set is that the songs are his early work and those are the songs that I love the most. They bring back so many memories for me. Of course there are the standard favorites of mine but then there were songs that I had kind of forgotten about but was so happy to hear again.

Over the decades, I have gone to many of his concerts and have even talked to him afterwards as he stood outside of his tour bus. Maybe that is another reason that I am such a huge fan of his. He always seems so humble and surprised that anyone wants to listen to his music or to talk to him. As I have listened to the discs in this set, I have remembered hearing him sing different songs live and the different concerts. So, it has been a trip down memory lane and just the pure joy of hearing his music again.

I did hesitate when I saw the price of the set but then I realized that with the 16 discs, it was actually a good deal. Each disc averages out to be just a little over $6 each. Not bad, huh?

I am truly enjoying listening to these songs again and I know that if you are a fan or you know a fan that you or they will, also. 

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Monday, July 4, 2016

Happy 4th of July!

Photo credit:  Cynthia Sylvestermouse

Happy Independence Day!

This is the day we have been preparing for and looking forward to for some time. Many of us are celebrating with friends and family. Some of us carry on traditions from one July 4th to the next. Regardless of how you are spending this day, the Contributors of Review This want to take a moment to wish you and yours a happy and safe 4th of July!

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Sunday, July 3, 2016

Celebrate July 4th with Lighted USA Wall or Window Signs

Lighted USA Sign Via Amazon
More Letters & Sign Choices Here
Whether you're Decorating for a Patriotic Party or Choose to Feature Your Pride of Country all Year Round, a Lighted USA Sign Works Perfectly

When we celebrate special occasions, we tend to think of lighting in terms of decorative strings, however there's a way to incorporate art, decor and lighting when you use marquee signs or lighted letters and symbols. Not only do they funk-up a space, they also provide ambient lighting.

In fact, make it a habit to slowly collect all the letters of the alphabet, plus a few a popular letters in duplicate, so you can spell anything you like for all special occasions. 

As an example on July 4th, spell out 'USA', and change it up for other celebrations. Here are just a few popular ways you can interchange letters for other holidays and parties:
  • Valentines Day, spell out 'LOVE'
  • How about 'EASTER'
  • For someone's birthday, spell out their name in lights
  • For Halloween, spell out 'BOO' in lights
  • Of course, there's 'Merry Christmas'
  • Use them for weddings, 'Bride & Groom' or spell out the couple's names
  • How about 'The Bride Rocks'
  • Or 'BrideZilla"
  • or just get funny, and spell out something sarcastic and feature it in your front window!
You get the lighted picture!

With all the letters of the alphabet, you're only limited by your imagination. So go ahead and start with the letters USA; use them to celebrate July 4th, or to honor a returning soldier, then continue to collect the rest of the alphabet. 

What's July 4th without a Patriotic Song

Take a minute to enjoy this fantastic song by Faith Hill, called 'American Heart' - The video is as much fun as the song!

Happy 4th.... <3

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Saturday, July 2, 2016

Reviewing July 4th Appetizers - Part III of the Review This 4th of July Menu

Ah, appetizers, the food teaser for any fun meal gathering. July 4th, in the heat of the summer brings many families and friends together for some great meals. That naturally includes appetizers. So it's time to review some of these. Be sure to check out Parts I and II in our 4th of July Menu reviews as well. Susan Depner brings us some delicious main courses and Sylvestermouse presents favorite red, white and blue desserts.

A Tasty Dip Appetizer

Deb Lindsey for the Washington Post

Although I've not enjoyed hot and spicy food, I did enjoy this take on a south-of-the-border favorite. is a tasty dip appetizer that combines pumpkin seeds (pepitas) and a flavorful variation on tomatoes (tomatillos). It's simple to make and can be prepared ahead of time. That's a big help for busy folks who still want to have a great gathering for July 4th.
Pepita-Tomatillo Dip

The Washington Post newspaper published this recipe with it's variation from Food editor Joe Yonan. Be sure to check out his delightful addition of a touch of honey to make this a great addition for your July 4th celebration.

Refreshing July 4th Appetizer

I was delighted to find one of my favorite chefs, Jacques Pepin, has created a delicious and refreshing appetizer to enjoy for any July 4th celebration. His Watermelon with Feta Cheese and Mint adds a bright spot of color to your table. It doubles nicely as a salad, too. And who doesn't love double duty recipes?

This is a simple to make dish. But, fair warning - make on the day of your celebration for the best presentation. Watermelon tends to lose its crispness when stored for very long. The good news is that it takes very little time to make Watermelon with Feta Cheese and Mint. So enjoy this refreshing appetizer.

And Speaking of Watermelon Appetizers 

Deb Lindsey for the Washington Post
As long as we are enjoying watermelon, we can't forget the delightful gazpacho as a July 4th refreshing appetizer. Worldlyvegetarian blogger Visi Tilak has created a delicious gazpacho from watermelon and tomato. 

This is one simple recipe. (Hmm, I guess you might be noticing a theme in these appetizers - simple, easy.) Literally just run everything through a blender and serve. Tilak adds a topping if you want to do that. Frankly, I was just delighted with how delicious the base recipe was. But, you can make a nicer presentation with her basil, avocado, and red onion topping. And yes, this recipe works nicely to make ahead and store in the fridge.

More July 4th Menus from Review This

Be sure to check out more of Review This July 4th menus. Start with main dishes reviewed by Susan Depner. She offers up some fun, interesting and unique options for your celebration.

Then get all the patriotic dessert ideas you want from Sylvestermouse. She presents some of the most beautiful looking and delicious desserts.

Enjoy your 4th of July celebration and keep it safe.

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Friday, July 1, 2016

4th of July Desserts Reviewed - Part II of the Review This 4th of July Menu
The 4th of July desserts are not only delicious, but they are quite colorful.  They are a great way to include red, white & blue in your Independence Day menu. 

My family loves desserts and the 4th of July recipes provide a great opportunity to play in the kitchen while preparing unique treats.

Of course, many of the cakes and cupcakes require food coloring, but there are other ways to create beautiful 4th of July desserts using fruit to add the desired colors to the holiday meal.

There are lots of spectacular dessert options created just for the 4th of July celebrations.  Join me today as we explore and review a variety of recipes that we believe you and your family will also enjoy.  Choose the one that best suits your families dietary needs and culinary preferences.  

4th of July Dessert Recipes in Red, White & Blue

Cakes & Cupcakes 

All three of these recipes are delicious and decorative for the 4th of July.  None of these cakes or cupcakes require food coloring to create a colorful presentation.

Fruit Desserts

Sometimes all we really desire is a easy to construct fruit dish to serve for dessert. 

Special Colorful Treats

These colorful treats require a bit of advance planning and preparation, but they are well worth the time and trouble.

More 4th of July Celebration Recipes & Articles from the Contributors of Review This!

Presented by Dawn Rae on July 4th

Additional Recommended Reading

Could You Survive Emigrating to An Untamed Land? A Book Review Written by BarbRad that begs us all to consider what it was really like for immigrants to America in the 1800's. 

Note:  A Special Thank You to Susan Deppner for Creating our 4th of July Celebration Intro Photo Template!

All of the images used in this article are from the original sites of the featured dessert.
The Fourth of July Sprinkles in the intro photo can be purchased by clicking this link

4th of July Desserts Reviewed by:
House of Sylvestermouse

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”

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