Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Hamama Microgreens Starter Kit and Seed Quilts Review

Image: collage of Hamama microgreens photos with superimposed title, "The EASIEST Way to Grow Your Own Microgreens"
With a Hamama Microgreens Starter Kit and the company's proprietary seed quilts, growing and harvesting fresh, delicious, and nutritious microgreens is nearly effortless!

Fresh, crisp microgreens are colorful, refreshing, and extremely nutritious. Since last year, when I committed to making healthy lifestyle changes, including a special focus on healthy food choices, I have been adding microgreens to salads, sandwiches, soups, eggs, and other dishes as often as possible.

Although buying packaged microgreens at our local Whole Foods is an expensive and frustrating proposition, growing my own hadn't seemed like a viable option, given my poor track record with keeping even healthy plants alive, much less growing them from seed.

Then, four months ago, I found out about an innovative microgreens growing system from a company called Hamama, which was designed to be as as simple, effortless, and low-maintenance as possible, so that even container gardening newbies like me could grow these healthy, tasty, nutrient-dense greens year-round.  

The proprietary, patent pending Hamama Seed Quilt Growing System is the brainchild of co-founders Camille Richman and Daniel Goodman, who met when they were mechanical engineering students at the world-renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Following their graduation from MIT, they worked together full-time at the MIT Media Lab, researching high tech indoor agriculture. After growing food both in the lab and at home for several years, they wanted to make it possible for more people to experience the benefits of growing healthy food at home.

In May, I decided to order a Hamama Microgreens Starter Kit, including three seed quilts and a reusable grow tray. I was surprised and delighted by the results, and a few weeks later,  I ordered two more growing trays and 18 more seed quilts. Although I've skipped a week here and there, I've successfully grown and harvested around more than a dozen seed quilts at this point. Now, I'm anxious to share my experience, and perhaps inspire others to try growing their own healthy, delicious, superfood microgreens, even if they have never had any experience, or luck, growing vegetables in the past.

P.S. Make sure to read all the way to the end of this review to find out how to get a 10% discount off the purchase price of your first order of a Hamama Microgreens Starter Kits, Seed Quilts, or other microgreens growing accessories!

Microgreens Are Superfoods That Pack a Powerful Nutritional Punch

Increasing our consumption of nutritious, dark leafy greens is an important part of healthy eating. The USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend eating more fruits and vegetables, including dark leafy greens. For those of us who have chosen a low carb, ketogenic approach to eating, dietary restrictions make it even harder to get enough nutrients from the foods we eat, rather than from supplements.

Adding more microgreens to our diets, in particular, provides even greater health benefits. A 2012 research study found that microgreens contain between four and 40 times higher concentrations of essential nutrients than their mature counterparts!

These nutrient-dense, immature plants can be excellent sources of key vitamins such as C, E, K, and also carotenoids including lutein and beta-carotene (a precursor to Vitamin A aka retinol), two important antioxidants provide a wide range of health benefits, including helping to protect our eyes against macular degeneration. 

Photo of a large, colorful, salad topped with Hamama microgreens
We enjoy a large, colorful, salad with a generous helping of freshly harvested microgreens every day!

Why Not Just Buy Packaged Microgreens Instead of Growing Them?

Unfortunately, many supermarkets and grocery stores either don't sell them, or run out of them quickly. Even when I've been lucky enough to find one or two containers, those commercially grown microgreens have cost a pretty penny. Far too often, the expensive organic microgreens we've bought at our local Whole Foods Market have become not just limp but slimy and inedible after just one or two days in the vegetable drawer of our fridge. Most are also sold in single-use, plastic clamshell packaging, which is bad for the environment. 

Finding organic microgreens or ones that have been grown from non-GMO seeds can also be a challenge. 

Unfortunately, since March, these problems have been further exacerbated by the widespread negative impact of the current, unprecedented health crisis.

The Pros and Cons of Using Hamama Seed Quilts vs. Growing Microgreens From Seed

Buying packets of loose seeds and growing them on a bed of moistened potting mix, soil, or coconut coir is, without question, the cheapest way to grow microgreens at home. However, it also requires watering the seeds once or twice a day, and monitoring their progress daily, from the the time they are planted until they are ready to be harvested, usually takes somewhere between 9 days and a few weeks. And they do best with 4–6 hours of direct sunlight, or natural light supplemented by a grow light(s).

While this may be a good option for experienced container gardening enthusiasts, not everyone was blessed with a "green thumb," or enjoys growing things from seed. Some of us just want to have convenient and consistent access to a variety of microgreens and enjoy them when they are at their freshest, tastiest, and most nutritious, and are happy to pay more for an approach that requires significantly less time and effort than growing these immature greens from seed.  

That's why Hamama developed its proprietary seed quilt system, which makes growing fresh, delicious, nutrient-rich microgreens indoors as easy, effortless, and care-free as possible. 

Anatomy of a Hamama Microgreens Seed Quilt

Each seed quilt consists of three layers (excluding the seeds):

  1. The bottom layer is a loosely woven coconut coir mat (aka coconut fiber mat or coconut husk pad).
  2. The middle layer is a thin sheet of white felt
  3. The top layer is some type of unbleached paper.

The seeds are sandwiched between the white felt layer and the light brown paper cover, divided into 20 long, narrow, rectangular, "quilted" sections that hold the seeds in place in a fairly even distribution.

Key Benefits of the Hamama Seed Quilt Grow System for Microgreens

  • By combining the seeds, the growing substrates, and the papery cover into a single, compact unit and pairing it with a perfectly-sized growing tray, Hamama has removed as many variables as possible.
  • The Hamama Starter Kit contains everything you need to grow microgreens, except the 24–26 ounces of water for the initial soak. (Depending on the quality of your tap water, I recommend using filtered water.)
  • Starting a new seed quilt takes as little as 1–2 minutes! After that, you can basically ignore it for the next 4–6 days, until the seeds have germinated.
  • This bottom-watering and self-watering growing system is the closest thing to "set-it-and-forget it." Once you pour water inside the grow tray up to the fill line and briefly submerge the seed quilt to get all 20 sections evenly moistened, you shouldn't have to mist the seeds quilt or seedling, or top up the water. (Toward the end of the growing period, I try to check the water level every couple of days, if I remember. just in case it drops below the midpoint of the coconut coir mat.) 
  • The brown paper cover helps to filter the ambient light during the initial 4–6 day germination period, then it peels off easily to provide the seedlings with full exposure to the ambient light.

Hamama Microgreens Seed Quilts Are So Effortless, They Practically Grow Themselves!

Growing a Hamama microgreens seed quilt is as easy as 1-2-3:

  1. Do the brief initial "soak." Add water to the growing tray's marked fill line (no higher) and submerge the seed quilt for 10–30 seconds, just until all 20 sections have uniformly changed to a darker shade of brown.
  2. After 3–5 days, when the seeds have germinated, pushing against the paper cover and causing the sections to puff up or balloon, peel the paper cover.
  3. Approximately 7–10 days after the initial soak, harvest your microgreens!

You can harvest the entire seed quilt at once and store whatever microgreens you won't use immediately in the refrigerator, if you wish, or harvest a few sections at a time over the next few days. 

Photo of Hamama Earthy Clover and Super Salad Mix seed quilts and are puffed up and ready to peel
I often grow more than one Hamama seed quilt at a time

What's Included In the Hamama Microgreens Starter Kit?

  • One reusable Grow Tray.
    • Black plastic or white ceramic
  • Your choice of three Hamama Seed Quilts (choose all one variety, or mix and match up to three different types) 

  • Easy growing instructions.

Choose From 10 Different Types of Microgreens Seed Quilts

Hearty Broccoli, Refreshing Cabbage, Spicy Daikon Radish, Super Salad Mix, Sweet Wheatgrass, Zesty Mix, Energizing Kale, Earthy Clover, Hot Wasabi Mustard, and Fragrant Fenugreek. All the seeds in Hamama's microgreens seed quilts are non-GMO Six are also organic (Energizing Kale, Fragrant Fenugreek, Hearty Broccoli, Spicy Daikon Radish, Earthy Clover, and Sweet Wheatgrass). The company is working on making the switch to an all certified organic line.

Save 10% on Your First Hamama Order!

Use my Hamama shopping link (or click on the image below), add the products you want to the shopping cart, then use the discount code SUPERGREENS during checkout to get 10% off your product total.


Hamama Microgreens Starter Kit and Seed Quilts Review by Margaret Schindel


Posts Related to My Keto Diet Journey

Hamama Microgreens Growing Kit Review & Success Tips

Good Dee’s Keto Cookie Low Carb Baking Mix Review

Low Carb Keto Chocolate Yogurt Granola Chip Pudding Recipe

Low Carb Muffins & Cupcakes: Treats to Enjoy on a Keto Diet

Preparing to Succeed on the Keto Diet, Part Two

Preparing to Succeed on the Keto Diet, Part One

My First Year on The Keto Diet


Reviews of the Keto Diet by Barbara C. (aka Brite-Ideas)

My Personal Keto Testimonial

How I Stayed Committed to the Ketogenic Way of Eating


Read more Gardening Reviews from our Review This Reviews Contributors




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Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Robin Sloan's Sourdough, A Book Review

Sourdough Book Review

We love Sourdough. It is nearly unanimous in our book club. Not a cookbook, it is instead a funny story that is very readable, which is what we all need this year. It is a bizarre yet magical fairy tale of sorts set in today's world. It is about finding your passion and following it and about baking bread and the science of baking bread. In particular, it is about sourdough bread and the life of one computer programmer who learns to make some very special bread. 


BOOK SUMMARY

Robin Sloan's Sourdough Book Review
Author Robin Sloan reckons that Sourdough may be the first English book to feature a sourdough starter that has feelings as as an important supporting character.  The other main character is a lonely young woman named Lois who takes a programming job in San Francisco where she passes the days and nights of her life doing work that she does not care for. 

Eventually, Lois is finds an escape after repeatedly ordering takeout from a mysterious little café. The owners of the café serve up  combination of spicy soup and sourdough bread that is very comforting to Lois and that restores both her body and her soul. She becomes their Number One Eater or at least a very loyal, regular customer. However, her relationship with the café comes to an abrupt end but not before she takes ownership of the sourdough starter. The starter is alive, which means she has to look after it or it will die. 

Anyway, it turns out that this starter is quite special and Lois makes the best sourdough bread ever with it. Indeed it is so successful that she leaps head first into baking bread and the bread literally changes her life. It helps her to climb out of the low spot that she has been barely surviving in by introducing her to new people and giving her a passion project. 

Eventually the bread leads her to a farmer's market unlike the one you thought of when I said the words farmer's market. This market is a part of the underground economy. It is radical and it is filled with experimental foodstuffs. To be invited to this market means that there is something unusual about what you do and in Lois' case it is because of her story. That is a successful software programmer turned baker. What happens next? Well, let me just say it is all very unexpected and you will have to read the book to find out.

Sourdough is about San Francisco. It is about geeks, nerds, coders, secret societies, conspiracies, books and even about robots. It is a look at two kinds of culture: the worlds of high-tech culture and bread culture, which you might not think could collide. Finally and obviously, it's about bread.


IS IT RECOMMENDED?

Sourdough Bread Story by Robin Sloan
Yes! The book Sourdough  is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by me though I am pretty partial to sourdough bread, too. The book may have bread as the focus but it is not boring. It is a work of fiction that is easy and light and might just make you happy. Consider what these others have had to say about the book:

The Guardian says, "Sourdough is a soup of skillfully balanced ingredients: there’s satire, a touch of fantasy, a pinch of science fiction, all bound up with a likeable narrator whose zest for life is infectious. The novel opens a door on a world that’s both comforting and thrillingly odd. Savour it."  I like this recipe and I did savour the book.

The L.A. Times says, “Sourdough displays both lightness and a yearning for escape, but only in the best sense." I agree. Lois is on an entertaining adventure that I was only too happy to go along on.

In her letter to the book blogger Nut Free Nerd (NFN) says, "You (the book) reminded me of the value of carving out time in a busy schedule to do the things you love, and that you never know where life will take you...You were so wacky and whimsical and witty and entertaining that I found myself constantly thinking about you in between reading you and I still find myself thinking about you all these weeks later." I'm with NFN. I was reminded to stop working and to make time for life and the things I love and enjoy and like NFN, I am still thinking about the book, still cultivating sourdough starter and still trying to make sourdough bread in my bread machine. 

Finally, here's a one-minute review of the book:


 

WARNINGS

Sourdough by Robin Sloan is a Good Loaf
Some prefer the first half of the book to the second as the second half takes a turn you might not see coming. I was okay with the twist, which is simply totally unexpected and not offensive in any way. There is really not a lot to be offended by in this book. There is some mild swearing and of course, this book will make you want to to eat or maybe even bake sourdough bread. There is the potential to gain weight if you find yourself needing sourdough bread. Finally, there is a lot of food wastage but at least, it's not real food that is being wasted and definitely no characters go hungry in the book. Slurry, anyone?

WHO WILL ENJOY THIS BOOK?

I think a lot of people will enjoy this book including but not limited to foodies and bread lovers, bakers and non-bakers and computer folk.  Anyone who is looking for something fun with an almost discernable scent of bread will enjoy it and as the L.A. Times says, anyone who is looking for a book that is "light but not trite" will find that this book rises to the occasion , pun intended. This book will entertain you and it might also leave you pondering which is a better of doing things - the traditional way or new and improved ways.

I recommend buying the hardcover copy of the book. It has a textured cover that glows in the dark, which is totally appropriate for the this book and the properties of the sourdough starter. Find your copy of Sourdough in whatever format you prefer on Amazon by clicking right here

Finally, I want you to admit that the loaf of sourdough bread in the introductory photograph was not baked by me. It is a product of the most amazing folk at Black Walnut Bakery in Cumberland near Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

See you
at the bookstore!
Brenda

Quick Links:



Sourdough or, Lois and her Adventures in the Underground Market by Robin Sloan


A review of the novel about Sourdough bread by Robin Sloan








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Monday, October 5, 2020

Review Updates: Anker PowerPort and Anker PowerCore

During a recent camping trip I once again depended on my Anker solar charger and battery charger. I realized how long I had been using those items. It was then that I decided to begin writing updates for a few of my favorite reviews.

One of the very best things about being a part of the Review This! team is knowing that we write about the things we truly use, enjoy, and honestly recommend. The recipes are the foods we cook and enjoy. The product reviews are the things we use. Our site is not clickbait; clogged up with ads. And we very rarely write reviews because someone has approached us, asking for a review of their products. It is an honor to be a part of this group. 

Anker PowerPort Solar Charger and Anker PowerCore Battery:

I go camping regularly; off-grid in West Virginia.  Even though I go with the plan to be unplugged and get away from it all, I still want to have a fully charged cell phone at all times. I have 2 items from Anker that have been super reliable and keep me feeling secure at all times.

The Anker PowerPort Solar Charger was my first Anker purchase.  I reviewed this charger in September 2017.  I still use this solar charger during every, single camping trip and I have had zero problems with it. On 2 occasions, it shut down briefly and I thought perhaps I had broken it. But those were 2 extremely hot days and very bright sunshine. In hindsight, I wonder if it (or my phone) got overheated and shut down temporarily. That has not happened outside of those two occasions. 

This charger is lightweight but folds up in a way that is easily to carry in a backpack. I HIGHLY recommend this item for camping, hiking, and other off-grid situations.

Because there were times that I was camping during several days of rain, or in the winter when daylight hours are shorter, I added the Anker PowerCore battery to my camping supplies in 2018. I also keep it fully charged during hurricane season. 

This item is basically a rechargeable battery. I charge it fully using the outlet or my laptop (using the USB cord) and then keep it in my camping supplies. It provides enough power to charge my cellphone for multiple days. I have only had one issue with the PowerCore Battery and that was due to operator error. In short, Willy (my dog) got the zoomies in The Shack and ripped the battery off of a shelf when he ran under the cord. It was quite impressive how far the battery flew... and the cord now has to be finessed into the opening in order to make full contact. Frankly, I'm quite impressed that the battery didn't break during that incident.

The PowerCore battery chargers are offered in different sizes (or would that be capacities?).  I purchased the largest that I could afford at that time. But I plan on purchasing one that has a larger "mAh" capacity as soon as I am able. That way I am prepared with more charges in the event of a longer term camping or weather situation.
Between the solar charger and the battery, I am prepared for any weather and several days of being off-grid - whether intentional or due to emergency circumstances. 

In Summary:

Yes, that was a lot of rambling to say that I purchased these items in 2017 and 2018. I use them regularly. The dogs and I are clumsy and a little rough on things. And these two items have withstood our abuse. These two purchases were well worth the money spent. And years later, I still highly recommend them! 
 
The Links for the original reviews:

Reviewing the Anker Portable Solar Power Charger (on my personal blog: Treasures, Travel, Tales).

Reviewing the Anker PowerCore Portable Charger.





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Sunday, October 4, 2020

Furniture With Built-In Bluetooth Speakers

Product Page Here

Last week I featured funky furniture that comes with built-in USB charging stations. As mentioned in that article, tracking down unique, slightly different home decor products is my passion.

For those who aren't familiar with the variety of home decor pieces that come with built-in Bluetooth, here are several home decor items that may surprise you.

"Product Page: You can view all the products discussed below here"

Mirrors with Bluetooth Speakers

What a great idea! Did you know you can get vanity mirrors or regular mirrors to feature above a dresser, a sink, or anywhere you want that have built-in speakers? What a great idea for a gift as well. The product page features several designs. 

End Tables with Bluetooth Speakers

As discussed in last Sunday's article, many end-tables come with the USB charging stations. However, did you know that some also come with built-in speakers? Isn't that convenient? What a terrific, unique gift idea as well. If you're not sure what to get a couple for a wedding gift, this is something they can always find a spot for.

Ottomans with Bluetooth Speakers

If you prefer your furniture with Bluetooth to be mobile, then an ottoman is the way to go. Carry your ottoman from room to room, or to the outdoor porch or patio! Again, it makes an excellent gift, and best of all, they're relatively affordable.

Couches with Bluetooth Speakers

Yes, you can find these as well. I featured a few on the product page. Again, this is a perfect solution for small apartments or those who consider themselves minimalists. Your sofa serves as an all-in-one media center.

Headboards with Bluetooth Speakers

Not only can you get headboards with built-in USB charging stations, but you can also get them with built-in Bluetooth speakers! How handy is that! When you want music in your bedroom, no more ugly speakers; just turn on the speakers in your headboard.

Consoles with Bluetooth Speakers

Consoles double as storage and provide a decorative piece for hallways or fill walls that need a little something. Look for consoles that come with Bluetooth, and you'll have a place to play your music. The nice part about a console is how they look more like a music cabinet.

Desk or Gaming Chairs with Bluetooth Speakers

Go ahead and choose a gaming chair as your home-office desk chair. They typically come with built-in speakers. When you're working at your desk, you'll be able to listen to your music via your chair's speakers.




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Saturday, October 3, 2020

Halloween Skeletons Make Great Decor

 How do you like to decorate for Halloween?  I think skeletons are a great choice.

Hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil - image from Pixabay.com

There are a number of different ways to incorporate skeletons in your Halloween decor from basically a few bones in a graveyard style theme to using actual poseable skeletons.

You can even use animal skeletons like a dog or a cat for a little bit of intrigue.   I actually have a friend who's a yoga teacher so when I saw skeletons doing yoga I thought that would be fun for her Halloween display.

Photo by Lou16, purchase online here

The best image I saw to incorporate a skeleton inside was in a private Halloween group, unfortunately, I can't share that image with you, but it was basically a skeleton in a wedding dress sat in a chair.

I love the idea of getting a posable skeleton and putting an old wedding dress on it and sitting it in a rocking chair in the corner of the room.   It was a very good looking display (although they didn't use a rocking chair) and let's face it many of us keep our wedding dresses without ever using them again so a perfect way to give them a little airing as well.

Of course if you wanted an outside skeleton bride you could always pop her
on a garden bench with or without a groom - photo from Pixabay

How would you incorporate a skeleton into your Halloween decor?




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Friday, October 2, 2020

Reviewing "MyPillow" Mattress Topper

MyPillow Mattress Topper
I previously reviewed our MyPillow pillows, which we still love. Because the pillows were such a hit in our home, we also opted to buy the MyPillow mattress topper. 

I wanted to wait a while to review the mattress topper. For me, it was as important, if not more important, than the pillows. Plus, it is a lot more expensive than pillows, therefore I wanted to make sure it was worthy of my recommendation. Now that we have been sleeping on the topper for 4 months, I believe I can give you a review based on experience, not just first impressions. 

For me, a mattress topper is not just about making a bed more comfortable.  It is about being able to sleep through the night without experiencing discomfort from being too soft or too hard.  Both can result in pain.  My days of sleeping on floors or on the ground, long ago passed.

 

Why I Need a Great Mattress Topper

I have mentioned in past articles that I was born with severe scoliosis (curvature of the spine). Because of the multiple curves in my spine, as well as having a pronounced raised hip on one side, I do experience pain, especially if I do not have good support when sleeping or sitting. My mattress matters a lot to me, as I think it does to everyone, whether they suffer with scoliosis or not.  I'm not quick to embrace any kind of change. However, it was time for a new mattress on our bed. 

When You Hear the Price of a New Mattress
My husband and I started shopping for a new mattress, only to discover many of the current mattresses are made of foam. I wasn't quite sure how I felt about that fact and started testing the mattresses with a great deal of apprehension.  In spite of feeling like we were on display in the store, we tried several mattresses. There was only one that would suit my needs. When the salesman, unapologetically, quoted an astronomical price that exceeded $15,000, I walked.   No, perhaps you could say I ran from the store. I was not about to spend that kind of money on a mattress that may or may not feel great for 8 hours each night, for years to come. I thought our mattress was looking a whole lot better and clearly had at least 15 more good years.  In the car, my husband was saying he would do whatever I needed regardless of price.  My mind was saying, $15,000 for a mattress?  I paid less than that for my first automobile! 

When we got home, I promptly went online and ordered a Memory Foam mattress topper.  The Memory Foam Topper price in 2017 was $116.00, clearly significantly less than $15,000.  I had to wait several days after we received it to put it on the bed.  It smelled awful!  It took a while for it to air out enough to be able to sleep on it, but I felt this was a good compromise.


The MyPillow Mattress Topper

After sleeping on our MyPillow pillows for a month, I decided to try the MyPillow Mattress Topper too.  My Memory Foam mattress topper was now 3 years old.  My husband described its condition as having to sleep in craters.  Okay, so it had clear recesses.  I guess it's "memory" of our body impressions was just a little too good, but I was still not in the mood to spend an automobile price on a new mattress and the Memory Foam mattresses were no longer available.  So, we bought the MyPillow mattress topper.

 MyPillow Three-inch Mattress Bed Topper (King)Check Price

The first week was a real adjustment for me.  It was harder than the Memory Foam, but I was definitely sleeping through the night and waking up pain-free.  After a month, all was still well and I no longer thought it was too firm.  After 4 months, I can say, with certainty, that this mattress topper is the right choice.

Benefits of the MyPillow Mattress Topper 

  • Available in 7 sizes
  • 3" Thick (requires deep pocket sheets to cover existing mattress & topper together)
  • Includes a Removable Zippered Cover made of Phase Change Material (body temperature regulated) which is Machine Wash & Dry
  • 4 Corner Straps that Holds Topper in Place
  • 10 Year Warranty
  • Made in the U.S.A.

Upon receipt, it is necessary to let the mattress topper lay out for a day to regain it's full shape after being wrapped for shipping.  The faint odor will also disappear quickly.





If you would like to read my review of the MyPillow pillows which I mentioned earlier, you can find it by clicking here.



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Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Plants That Need to Be Brought Indoors Need Special Care

Plants that need to be brought indoors need special care- A Garden Review


Summer is the time when we gardeners are itching to get our indoor plants outdoors for all the growth opportunity that summer sun and warmer temperatures brings.  But come the end of September, gardeners are counting the days until they need to bring all those tender plants back indoors!

I know I am scoping out all the window areas of my apartment for possible "growing spots", for all the plants I took out to my balcony in the spring.  

One of the most important parts of bringing our favorites back to the indoors, is making sure there are no hidden "bugs" hitchhiking their way indoors.

During the summer months outdoors your plants have been visited by many flying, crawling and maybe even jumping insects.  Believe it or not I had a grasshopper on one of my plants and we are on the 18th floor of our building.  So anything is possible.

When I am bringing my plants indoors, I like to un-pot them!  Yes you heard me right.  I take my plants out of their pots, set aside the soil they were growing in and move the plants into by bathroom.  

Then I shower them well with warm water, on both the top sides of the leaves and the bottom sides as well.  I check their roots and if there are roots that look decayed I will snip them back.  

I also check their stems to see if there are any scale insects that may have made their home on my plants.  One of my Ivies is infested with scale, so I will take cuttings from it and treat the cuttings with Safer's Soap spray.  Then I will root these cuttings and start with fresh soil in a few weeks.  They will be potted up only when I am sure they are free of the scale insects and have set new roots.

I do get the pots and clean them out with a good hot soapy water solution, and then let them air dry.  I will use fresh soil in these pots to give the plants and cuttings a good start in their indoor home.

With my plants, especially the orchids, I let them stay outdoors until the temperatures drop to about 10 degrees Celsiusor 50 degrees Farenheit.  Most orchids like a real drop in temperature for a few nights as it signals the plant to set flower bearing stems.  Do NOT let these delicate plants freeze!  If there is a chance of the temperatures going down close to freezing, bring them indoors for the night.  

By January you should be seeing lots of stems on your orchids that will surely lead to some gorgeous flowers.  One of my orchids starts blooming in January and doesn't stop till June or July.  They are truly one of my many joys.



Having said that, orchids do need special care.  Their leaves are tightly figured and can harbor scale or other bugs.  I make sure they are drenched with Safer's Soap Spray before they come in for the winter!  You can spray them once a week on both sides of their leaves.  Better to be safe than sorry.  If one plant comes in with a scale infestation, it can ruin all your plants in very short order.

Bringing our plants indoors is a time consuming endeavor if you are a crazy gardener like me.  If you only have a few plants(3 or 4) outdoors, you should be able to do this in a weekend.  If you are more like me, and have 8-10 plants to bring indoors, you might need a couple of weekends to finish the task.  

You don't need to be in a hurry yet, but don't leave this task till late October or November.  Then you will be scrambling to get it done.  Bringing in the plants without checking them well for pests, could be your downfall.  Take the time while the weather is still relatively nice and do it now.  Check them all closely and if you don't want to start with fresh pots and soil, you can also drench the plants and soil with the Safer's Soap.  It is better to do that then to just bring them indoors without any preventative measures at all.


 
This is the product I use on all my plants and I have never been disappointed in the results. It takes care of all the insect/bug problems you could have with moving your plants indoors.  I use this product on my plants all through the winter months(if I see a problem) and will be using it again in spring and summer of 2021.  Pests are always just waiting to get a hold of something they like and your houseplants could be on their menu.  Don't be disappointed, be prepared and have a great time in the winter enjoying your healthy happy houseplants while the snow flies outdoors.



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Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Books I Read (Or Tried To Read) During Spring and Summer 2020: A List


Books I Read (Or Tried To Read) During Spring and Summer 2020: A List

The spring and summer of 2020 unfolded in ways none of us could have foreseen. The virus that plagued the world changed our daily life forcing many of us to stay home for all but the most essential errands. As a home-based eBay seller, I was able to work again after the initial lockdown was over. However, with family, friends and all of my other interests and activities unavailable there was definitely more time for reading.

This page is a look back at the books that I read. Hopefully, it will steer you toward or away from a new book.

WHAT DID I DO?


I met several generations of a powerful and influential family. I survived industrialized 19th century Britain. I settled on the harsh Canadian prairies. I visited but failed to enjoy St. John’s, Newfoundland. I raised sourdough bread. I solved a murder mystery and finally, I visited short stories.

WHAT DID I READ?


JEFFREY ARCHER'S CLIFTON CHRONICLES


JEFFREY ARCHER'S CLIFTON CHRONICLES     


The best book that I read was actually a seven-volume saga about the adventures and misadventures of a powerful and influential family by Jeffrey Archer known as the Clifton Chronicles. It was so good that I struggled to put each book aside in order to make time to read the latest book for my book club. This series is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by not only myself but also my husband and my sister-in-law and my friend Alanna and her husband. There is a lot of well-crafted reading here with threads that cross generations. You will find the seven-book boxed set here on Amazon.


CATHERINE COOKSON'S RILEY


CATHERINE COOKSON'S RILEY


I was reunited after a long absence with author Catherine Cookson via her book Riley. I wrote more about the book, which is set in industrialized 19th century Britain, and talked about the prolific writer here. It is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED and if you have yet to 'meet' Catherine Cookson and you like historical fiction, you should give her a try. You will find it here on Amazon.


SHANDI MITCHELL'S UNDER THIS UNBROKEN SKY


SHANDI MITCHELL'S UNDER THIS UNBROKEN SKY


Under This Unbroken Sky by Shandi Mitchell is a Canadian novel set in Alberta in 1938. It was good book, a close look at the extremely tough job of settling the prairies. However, it was dark with tragedy upon tragedy heaped upon the Ukrainian settlers. It is RECOMMENDED by me for those interested in the history of the prairies and immigrants to Canada but NOT RECOMMENDED if you need something a bit more positive, which was something I felt that I needed during this difficult time. You will find it here on Amazon.


MEGAN GAIL COLES' SMALL GAME HUNTING AT THE LOCAL COWARD GUN CLUB


MEGAN GAIL COLES' SMALL GAME HUNTING AT THE LOCAL COWARD GUN CLUB


The next book that I read was Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club by Megan Gail Coles. It is a Scotiabank Giller Prize nominated book set in St. John’s, Newfoundland. A very dark, dreary modern-day story and I only read half of it. Six or so of the members of my book club made it through but not happily and four did not. One determined reader intends to keep trying.

A review on Google Books says that Small Game Hunting "is a difficult book to read because of its brutality -- people are mistreated and not valued because they are women, non-white, or gay. But it's worth it." Quill and Quire says, this book "forces the reader...to be made uncomfortable and prompted to think rather than be simply entertained." These might be reasons for you to consider reading this book. However, it is NOT RECOMMENDED by me unless you are looking to challenge yourself about difficult subjects. If you really want to, you can find it here on Amazon.


ROBIN SLOAN'S SOURDOUGH


ROBIN SLOAN'S SOURDOUGH


The next book was Sourdough, a brilliantly funny fictional story about sourdough bread, about the computer world and even about San Francisco. Very funny, it is truly a book you should read if you want a add a bit of levity to your reading and your life. My full review of Sourdough can be read here if you want to know more about this book during this time when people ‘knead’ to stay home more and make bread. Sourdough the book and the bread is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by me. You will find it here on Amazon.


DONNA LEON'S QUIETLY IN THEIR SLEEP


DONNA LEON'S QUIETLY IN THEIR SLEEP


I have a few series that I am working my way through including Donna Leon's Commissario Guido Brunetti Mysteries. This volume, Quietly in Their Sleep, delivers for an armchair traveler who wants to travel to Venice, Italy from the comfort of home, which of course is the kind of travel that we can do right now. It suits someone who would like to visit as well as someone who has been there who will recognize landmarks in and issues of the city as the story progresses. It is not the first in the series but I do HIGHLY RECOMMEND this book or any that came before it.  You will find it here on Amazon.


ROALD DAHL'S THE GREAT AUTOMATIC GRAMMATIZATOR AND OTHER STORIES



ROALD DAHL'S THE GREAT AUTOMATIC GRAMMATIZATOR AND OTHER STORIES


The latest book that I pulled from our collection of books that has been hanging around our house unread for too long was Roald Dahl's The Great Automatic Grammatizator and Other Stories or The Umbrella Man and Other Stories, as it is called in the United States. It's a book of short stories chosen from Dahl's adult stories picked with the intention of suitability for teenagers. I haven't read all of the stories yet because I prefer to enjoy short stories one by one and truth be told, I don't usually care for them at all. However, I am thoroughly enjoying these stories thus far and am comfortable HIGHLY RECOMMENDING this book of stories to you and you will find it here on Amazon

Well, once again, I hope to have given you inspiration for your book list. I apologize to any books that I forgot to include on this list.

See you
at the bookstore!
Brenda

Books I Read (Or Tried To Read) During Spring and Summer 2020: A List





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Monday, September 28, 2020

Garage Parking Sensor Aid Review

Loving this new garage gadget! This Adjustable Garage Parking Sensor Aid is just the gadget I needed to help park the car safely in the garage and avoid tangling with a wood shelving unit. This shelving unit came with the garage and while handy is a bit problematic to fit the car in the garage.


What one does not want to hear when driving the car into a tight sized garage is the sound of crackling wood. While this wood organizer unit can be very handy and it is very utilized, it appeared the prior owners of said organizer may have had a few run ins with the support posts. 

Just guessing, but a little bump of the support post produced .... a cracked post. 



Going Bump In The Night

On the advice of a handy neighbor he told me about automatic garage sensors to help with judging the distance between the wood shelves and the car bumper. I had been using the tried and true low tech tennis ball as a guide to stopping; however if juggling two differently sized cars, which may or may not park in the same spot, the tennis ball has its' limits.

Handy Gadget

The length between the shelving unit and the garage door is very tight with very little space to maneuver. Enter the Garage Parking Sensor Aid

I love gadgets that are practical, fulfill a need with the bonus of affordable and easy to install. The Garage Parking Sensor fulfills all of the above!

 

Easy To Install

The unit can be installed in less than five minutes! It is that easy. No need to be handy. The unit runs on AA batteries or can be charged with a mini USB connection. 

Decide where the bumper of the car should stop and align the bottom sensor with the bumper. 

The top part shaped like a stoplight can be adhered with the included double stick tape or as many reviewers suggested using a cable tie or velcro. There happen to be a wide ledge I could prop the top part of the unit so no tape was needed.

The top and bottom sensor are connected with a generous length of wire to adapt to all size vehicles.

The Approach

What is very nice is how the distance from entering the garage to the stopping point is measured. The stop sign indicator is large enough to easily view. 

As the car approaches the light of the unit progresses from green to yellow to red. The yellow to red progression is very helpful as a guide point to be prepared to stop.

This quick video shows in real time the Garage Parking Sensor at work.



This really is a 1-2-3 open the package and install in five minutes! I can now send the tennis ball back to the court where it belongs!









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Sunday, September 27, 2020

Furniture Pieces that Come with Built-in USB Charging Stations

Furniture with Built-In USB Charging Station
Furniture with Built-In USB Charging


Did you know there is a wide variety of furniture choices that come with built-in USB charging stations? It's not something we typically think of when we're shopping for recliners and end-tables; however, we should.

For Funkthishouse.com, I'm always on the hunt for creative finds for the home. Yah, I spend too much time scrolling through furniture, rugs, drapes, and bedding ... you name it. It's like hunting for little golden nuggets lol. I sure enjoy it.

Anyway, today's article features pieces of furniture, big and small, that come with built-in USB charging ports.

"Product Page is Here" - You can view all the furniture ideas discussed below on the product page - Be sure to check them out, some are pretty funky :)


Coffee Tables and End-Tables with Built-In USB Charging


Unless you want a full-blown Smart-Table, you can easily find coffee/end-tables that come with built-in USB charging stations. How convenient is that? When you need to charge your device, reach over and plug it into the outlet on your table. If you're wondering what a "Smart-Table" is, here's a brief article.

Couches and Chairs with Built-In USB Charging


Yes, that's right; if you're in the market for a new couch or chair, be sure to check if it comes with a built-in USB charging station. You'll notice you don't have to spend a fortune (you can if you want) for pieces with built-in charging stations. They come in a wide variety of designs and styles.

Lamps with Built-In USB Charging 


If end-tables, chairs, or couches are too much of an expense, the next time you need a lamp, choose one that has a built-in charging station. They're incredibly convenient for desks or work stations. I've included several styles for you to examine on the product page.

Desks with Built-In USB Charging 


This one is expected. Indeed, with working from home and home-schooling, desks that feature these built-ins add another level of convenience. Get a lamp with a charging station, and you're all set.

Headboards with Built-In USB Charging


Yes, you'll be able to find one of these as well. These headboards come in a broad range of prices, but you can get them in the lower price range as well ... and they're just as lovely. Check out the ones I've featured; they're pretty cool.

Again, here's the product page featuring the above furniture pieces. 

If you can think of any other furniture items with built-in USB ports, let me know. I'm always on the hunt for something different in home decor.






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