To say they are exactly what I hoped for is an understatement. LED grow trays, Kennedich Seed Tray Kits, are performing beyond my expectations. No leggy seedling growth is occurring beneath the intense lights. Hooray! These, and other similar trays, are still available for purchase online. In combination with seedling heat mats, even seeds three years old are sprouting in days.
Product – Gifts for Gardeners/Amazing LED Grow Trays
Sometimes recommendations are annoying, sometimes very welcome. Last week I had a recommendation pop up in my Amazon account, growing trays with an LED light attachment. It looked too good to be true, but it was a decent price, and so intriguing, I decided, ‘Why not?’
Kennedich Plant Seed Tray Kit arrived in just a few days. I was hoping I wouldn’t be disappointed by the trays, and I wasn’t, they are AMAZING! Hard, durable plastic, with a disk LED light that fits in an indentation in the top of the dome. The dome itself is double, maybe triple, the height of most other trays on the market. The cord needs a power block to plug into, not included with the product, but since we have several of these floating around the house it was no problem.
I use a lot of fresh herbs in cooking, and even though they are readily available from my local supermarket, growing my own will be fun and save costs in the long run. Placed on top of my heating mats, these seed trays should become one of my favored seed starting methods.
A few tips – I had to open up the middle hole a bit with a pencil so that the light fixture would lay flat. Also, the cord had kinks from being wound for mailing in a box. I laid it on the table and taped it down for a few days to straighten it out. One drawback, it would have been better if the cord was longer. I will have to use an extension cord to give me more length.
Product and Pheathers – Birdfeeder
I love birdwatching of all types, seabirds, raptors, backyard birds, all fascinate me. We live in an area where I can seek out all three. Years ago, I had a secondhand platform feeder I enjoyed filling and watching. This year, my husband bought me a new one for my birthday. I love this view of the inner roof with the Sapphire blue sky above it. Somehow, it reminds me of the ceiling in my grandmother’s church, the memory is decades old, but still so sweet. I hope the birds feel a sense of ‘sanctuary’ here too.
It took a day or two, but the birds have found the feeder. Typical of brash birdy personalities, the first to hover and land were the blue jays. Yesterday, I saw a couple small birds, a redpoll finch, and a junco. The same afternoon, a curious squirrel dug beneath the feeder, but thankfully didn’t climb up.
We are so pleased with this beautiful hand-crafted birdfeeder. You can read the link on the tag if you want to visit the builder: great product, prompt delivery, wrapped/shipped safely.
This post is part of Skywatch.
Product – My Pillow Slides/Sandals
I love my new ‘My Pillow‘ slides. I wore them in the storm-drenched grass this morning, and found they are still equivalent to walking on top of clouds when the conditions are wet.
What I love about the product: super comfortable, basic design and colors, excellent support, ease in walking, true-to-size. I like Mike Lindell and admire the fact that he is not afraid to speak the truth and supports conservative values. I’ve bought several of his products over the last year for this reason.
What I dislike about the product: not made in the U.S.A., the smell of the slides was horrendous when I opened the plastic-bag package. The shipping was not free and added a large amount to the total. Today when I went to the website I found the sandals are being sold for an even lower price. Bah!
I can’t change the fact that they are not made in the U.S.A. What I did change was the terrible smell that clung to them when I took them out of the plastic bag they were stored/shipped in. I used a diluted amount of dishwashing soap, washed/scrubbed them well with a soft rag, rinsed in hot water, and then placed them outdoors in the sunshine for a few hours. Anyone who has bought any type of rubber shoes will know the smell I am speaking of, and how repulsive it is. My fix worked, about 75% of the odor disappeared. I think the last bit of smell will work its way out as I wear them.
Product, Phun, Project – Color Shift Paint/Painting with Natural Objects
Shiny metallic paint and glitter prompt me to create Christmastime art. This year I came upon a paint by FolkArt called Color Shift. I’ve been pleased with FolkArt paints in the past and Color Shift did not disappoint me.
The area above my Christmas village needed some color. A quick Christmas painting was my intent. I painted the background bluish-black to depict a nighttime sky. After the background was complete, I realized the composition needed something to break up the darkness by accentuating the outer edges. I didn’t want to spend a lot of time fiddling around with a complicated border. Hmmm, what to do?
Stenciling, or printing with an object seemed a good idea for a quick border. Outdoors on my lawn lay exactly what I needed, fallen leaves from my Bald Cypress tree. I also gathered a few ‘holey’ oak leaves while walking around the neighborhood. More on that later.
The Color Shift paint worked perfectly. Fluid enough to fill in the lettering without clumping, yet thick enough to dip my Bald Cypress leaves into for printing. (The paint looks a bit faded in this photograph, but it is only intense sunlight beaming across my work area.)
I needed a randomness of mind when I painted the stars. This is an artistic area I struggle with when painting. I find I quickly become uniform in design when painting a large amount of subjects such as stars or dots. The oak leaves came to my rescue and forced me to leave left brain logic behind and create with the bold randomness of the right side of my brain. I used the holes of the leaves to paint the stars. The pattern on the leaves, created by hungry bugs, quickly depicted the scatter of stars I wanted in the background. I’ve used this technique in the past and once again I found success using leaves as a stencil.
I also indulged the child within me and glittered the trees, top to bottom, with glittery balls and stars. The glitter, very fine in texture and easy to use, was found in the local dollar store in gorgeous colors. So much fun. This project was easy and under twenty dollars. The Color Shift paint was a bit pricey, but any other metallic paint could be used in its place.
Plant & Product – Mistletoe Cactus
On a recent trip to Longwood Gardens I spied this amazing hanging basket filled with Pseudorhipsalis ramulosa, or as it is also known, Red Mistletoe Cactus. I love the combination of soft pink with apple green. (Granny Smith Apple – Color Your World – 120 Days of Crayola) I would love to grow this beautiful plant in a hanging basket, but have no idea where it is sold other than mail-order. Perhaps I can find a source for seeds.
This year, for the first time, I have found a large variety of hard to find seeds on Etsy. I’ve ordered from three sellers and have been very pleased with the packaging and speed of delivery. Upon searching the site, I found seeds for the Mistletoe Cactus, but they were rather pricey at 11.95. A little high for something without a guarantee to grow. Check out Etsy for rare and unusual garden and houseplant seeds.
Product – E-cloths/Chemical Free Cleaning
There are so many reasons to try E-cloths. They work without chemicals, water is all you need for thorough cleaning. There is no added scent. They create no pollution. After the initial purchase they are long-lasting. I’ve used them for a few months and I love them. All I need to do is launder them and they are ready to use again and again.
I recently took dozens of paper snowflakes down from my windows and the E-cloths made the clean up super easy.
Check out their site for more information: How Ecloths Work. A healthy alternative to the overload of chemicals in our homes. E-cloths are available in stores and online.
Product and Perspective – The Laminator
My husband recently brought home this cute photocopy fellow employees at his workplace had posted around the store. I loved the way the photo captured the twinkle in his eyes, and wanted to protect it as a keepsake.
Photocopy paper is fragile, so to protect it, I pulled out the laminator I purchased for just over $10.00 this past year at Aldi Supermarket. Years ago, laminating artwork or important papers was expensive; I was charged for lamination by the inch. Now the lamination of items is an easy do-it-yourself project.
The hat my husband is wearing in the photo expresses his opinion concerning the upcoming election, the button expresses mine.
The quote below is from the transcript of the second debate, and one I agree with wholeheartedly:
TRUMP: We have a divided nation. We have a very divided nation. You look at Charlotte. You look at Baltimore. You look at the violence that’s taking place in the inner cities, Chicago, you take a look at Washington, D.C.
We have an increase in murder within our cities, the biggest in 45 years. We have a divided nation, because people like her — and believe me, she has tremendous hate in her heart. And when she said deplorables, she meant it. And when she said irredeemable, they’re irredeemable, you didn’t mention that, but when she said they’re irredeemable, to me that might have been even worse.
COOPER: She said some of them are irredeemable.
I find the word irredeemable to be a prelude to the word expendable, much as it was applied to those sacrificed in Benghazi in 2012. As a conservative and Follower of Jesus, I feel I must be on my guard concerning Mrs. Clinton. I also found Anderson Cooper’s immediate interruption on Clinton’s behalf, using the word ‘some’ as clarification, to be another example of the mainstream media being biased for Hillary Clinton.
Those who consider themselves the ‘Educated Elite’ are being led to vote for Mrs. Clinton by their egos, and they will be the next to be lumped into the deplorables basket when they wake up with wide-open eyes to the destructive changes she means to bring about in our country and the Supreme Court.
I’m horribly ashamed of, and disillusioned by, all the Republican politicians who have changed allegiances.
Never in all the years I have voted have I felt my vote is more important.
Product & Plants – Tea and Seeds
I love Salada’s Lemon Lively green tea blend. A little honey and a teabag in boiling water bring me a few moments of peace.
I also use the tea packets to share seeds with relatives and friends. Early this morning I was at my desk, wrapping some new varieties from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds in foil and inserting them in tea packets, to give to my sister later today.
I love products that have packaging that can be recycled. At this time of year I save salad containers and other clear plastics to use as miniature greenhouses for seed starting. Gardening is expensive and it helps to find good ways to cut corners by recycling. Happy Gardening…Spring is on its way.
Product – Kefir
I’m in love with Kefir! This delicious smoothie is satisfying as a snack and boosts my immune system and mood.
Kefir is loaded with good bacteria for your body. The vitamins, minerals and easily digested protein kefir contains strengthens the immune system, and has been thought to lower blood pressure and lessen anxiety. A good article about kefir can be found at
Be Well Buzz.
Kefir contains tryptophan, the amino acid that helps raise the levels of serotonin in your brain.
We can all use a little boost to our mood when the sunlight wanes in winter. Lifeway Kefir has a terrific website that lists the Benefits of Kefir. Check it out, and try some kefir this year. It will improve not only your mood, but also your health.
Produce, Pots and Pans & Product – Plums, Cheesecake Cupcakes & Peas in a Pod
The choices in the supermarket were slim this week for sampling a new fruit or vegetable. There were a few novelties such as dragonfruit, but at 7.99 each, I passed on this one. I chose instead yellow plums. I’ve eaten golden plums in the past, but these were a brilliant lemon yellow when I purchased them. I set them on my windowsill to wait for them to ripen. Little did I know they would sunbathe and “tan” to a beautiful coral color. The flavor was delicious, but since plums are rather an ordinary fruit I wanted to do something different with them. I decided to stew them down until just tender, caramelize them and sprinkle with coarse salt.
I didn’t have a recipe to follow. I peeled the plums since they were imported (possible unknown pesticides) and sliced them. I added a bit of water to the saucepan and lightly simmered the fruit until they were barely soft. At this point I added brown sugar and cooked them until the water and sugar became syrupy. I turned the heat off and sprinkled with coarse salt and let everything cool.
I decided to make my recipe for cheesecake cupcakes and place the cooled plums on top. The recipe calls for a vanilla wafer, but I used half an oreo, minus the cream, in the bottom of the cupcake liner. The recipe for cheesecake muffins follows:
6 Oreos halved, cream removed
2 8 oz Cream Cheese (softened)
1/2 Cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Fruit Preserves ( I used my carmalized plums)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place cupcake liners in 12 regular sized muffin tins. Cover bottom with Oreo half. Combine cream cheese and sugar in bowl. Beat until well combined. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat again until blended and without lumps. Scoop into muffin tins. I use an ice cream scoop. Fill about 3/4 full. Bake for 25 minutes…a few minutes longer if they are too loose in the middle. Chill in the fridge. Top with preserves.
I also top with chocolate chips when hot. These melt and create a chocolate disc on top.
These are super easy, delicious, and low in sugar. I can’t say they are low in calories, but they are VERY good!
The adorable Peas in a Pod Salt and Pepper Shakers in the first photograph in post can be found at Amazon.com. I bought several of them at Christmas and everyone who received a set loved it.
Product & Pressed Flowers
I found a new set of pearlescent watercolors this weekend. They are made by Yasutomo and available in craft stores and online. The set was less than ten dollars, and with the added benefit of a 40% off coupon, quite a bargain. I use Winsor & Newton watercolors, but am enchanted by the idea of adding a little touch of shimmer to a few of my more creative watercolor attempts.
The first thing I did was number the paints and make a chart to see how the watercolors reacted on paper. They are very pearly and quite sheer. The permanent marker is easily seen through all the colors.
I also experimented with a scrap of torn painting. The pearlescent pink added shimmer to the petals, but still let the detail come through.
Another plus is the watercolors perk up the faded colors of old pressed flowers. These johnny-jump-ups were very drab, but the pearlescent paint added a bit of gleam and color. I can’t wait to experiment with this effect and will probably create a few greeting cards to have on hand.
If you like to paint give these lovely watercolors a try.
PostScript: I found these to be very hard in texture. Before using, add a bit of water to each pan. Allow the water to sit and loosen up the paint for a few minutes before you begin to paint.
Product – Snapeas
In the Springtime you can often find me, along with my grandsons, in the backyard, standing beside the Square Foot Garden, popping sweet peas in my mouth right out of the pod. I don’t know what it is about the taste that is addictive, but it seems to be genetic in our family.
You can imagine how elated I was this weekend to find a new snack, actual pea pods, seasoned, baked, and beautifully packaged. If you love peas right off the vine, try to find this delicious and nutritious snack. You won’t be disappointed.
More information and where to find Snapea Crisps.
Product – Red Mill 10 Grain Cereal
Over the course of the past year I have discovered a brand of products I love; Bob’s Red Mill grain cereals have become my go-to breakfast even in the height of the summertime. My day starts off great with a little self-nurturing through a bowl of hot cereal. It doesn’t hurt the cause that the 10 Grain cereal I choose to buy reminds me of mornings at my grandmother’s home, waiting on her cracked wheat hot cereal.
The cereal takes 7 – 10 minutes to cook on the stovetop; the wait only serves to make my anticipation build. I’ve never been disappointed. I add a pat of butter and brown sugar to mine, and cool it with a splash of milk.
I experimented with the recipe for breakfast muffins I found on the back of the package. These would be good for breakfast on the go. They are a tad heavy and dense, but if you were flying out the door in a hurry, it would be wonderful to grab one for a nutritious breakfast. If I make the muffins again I might add some blueberries.
I’ve noticed there are also flour, grain mixtures, and additional cereals offered by this terrific company. I hope to try quite a few over the course of 2015. Give a package of Bob’s Red Mill cereals a try. They are economical and last a loooooonnnnnggg time. I store mine in the refrigerator after I open it. Happy Breakfast to You!
Product – Herb Stripper
I found this small kitchen gadget while shopping for Christmas presents in my local Target store. I picked it up, took a look, and immediately decided this was a present for myself. I use fresh herbs weekly, if not daily, in my cooking. I grow them on my kitchen windowsill in the Winter, in the outdoor kitchen/herb garden in the Spring, Summer and Autumn. One problem I have, especially with the smaller leafed herbs, is removing the foliage from the stem without driving myself batty. When I cook up soups/stews the stem is fine for adding to the broth, it can easily be removed when the stewing is complete, but I don’t want to have pieces of stem in salad dressings and other non-cooked foods. This small gadget perfectly strips leaves away from the stem and drops them in the bowl of the spoon, or as in the case of the oregano in the photo below, forms a sweet rosette within the confines of the stripping hole.
I wish I had thought of using this technique throughout the years I’ve relied on fresh herbs. If you can’t find this amazing little gadget, priced under three dollars, you might be able to whip one up yourself using a measuring cup or spoon. I think if you drill or create graduated holes around the top of a plastic cup you will be able to strip herbs as easily as with this terrific little kitchen tool.
Product – One for the Ladies
One for the Ladies: Burt’s Bees Lip Shimmer
My lip shimmer favorite is called Peony. I am thrilled with this product. Usually, when I try to buy color for my lips I struggle to find the right product. Let me count the problems I have encountered. Quite often the shine is too metallic, or nonexistent and overly matte. Sometimes the consistency of the lipstick accentuates wrinkles, or is the wrong color. Let’s see…what else annoys me about buying lipcolor: shade changes, dried out lips, doesn’t match the color on the display chart, is discontinued, outrageously priced. Does any of this sound familiar? I have to admit, I have wasted too many dollars trying to find just the right shade of lipstick.
I was going through the dilemma of trying to find a new tube of lipstick, when by chance I happened upon the Burt’s Bees display. Hooray! I felt like I hit the jackpot the minute I spotted the tubes. How have I missed these little gems? Because I love the lip balm, I had an instant intuition that the lip shimmers would be grand, and yes, they are all I hoped to find in a lipstick…only better.
They stay put, the color is subdued, delicate, but long-lasting. I get a pleasant little tingle when I apply it to my lips, much the same as the lip balm delivers. I must admit they are not inexpensive, and they are rather small, but still, at $4.95 compared to 8.95 & up, they are a real bargain. They sell in my area in drug stores, larger retailers such as Target, and even in the supermarket. I bought two, one for my makeup bin at home, and one for my purse. Happy Smiling!
Product – Chocolate Cheerios
Oh the JOY! Chocolate Cheerios are delish! I found them in the grocery stores a few weeks ago. The grandkids and I have devoured them ever since. 🙂
Light chocolate, dark chocolate…both are scrumptious. We don’t eat these Cheerios in milk, we eat them out of hand, dry and portable in small bowls.
Even better they are low in calories. Hooray!
Product – Great Products with Great Recyle Potential
I found Teatulia Lemongrass Tea in the photograph above at my local Target store. The price initially seemed high, over $5.00, but there are thirty bags in the cardboard cylinder and the contents are organic. Oh My! The taste is spectacular. The tea bag contains only two ingredients: lemon grass and bay leaf. The flavor is light and delicate without being weak. I LOVE it! Even better…the round curves of the cardboard cylinder seem to cry out to me, “Make something special out of me!” It’s a terrific package for the tea, and I hope by the time I drink up the contents, I’ll have a project in mind that is worthy of the container.
Another new favorite were these delicious Royal Dansk Spiral Wafer Cookies. I love to eat them right out of the tin, and also enjoy using them to dress up a bowl of ice cream when I have company. Two scoops of ice cream with two cookies stuck in the top, and you have an elegant dessert to serve. Even better these were on sale for $ .79 this week in my local grocery. Yes! You read me right! Non-sale price is $1.19, still a bargain for something so beautiful and yummy. And wait…yes…the tin is perfect for creating amazing projects. Oh the Joy!
Please check out the comment section for some additional sites on lemongrass, etc.
Product – Starbuck’s Blonde Veranda Blend
Only one word is needed to describe this coffee: Sensational! Starbuck’s Blonde Veranda Blend Coffee lives up to all the good things said about it in the television commercial. I love milder coffee, and the flavor is divine. My husband, who likes a darker brew, agreed it was delicious. Even though we enjoyed it mid-afternoon, it didn’t seem to keep us from sleeping, or cause our slumber to be restless. The coffee blend is expensive, but sometimes the taste of the sublime is worth an extra dollar or two.
*Save the bag the coffee is packaged in if it is specially marked with a free offer. If you return the bag when you visit a Starbuck’s you will receive a tall brewed coffee. Wow! You can’t beat this product or the offer of a good cup of coffee.
Product and Planting – Glad Press’n Seal and Seedling Progress
Glad Press’n Seal is one of my favorite Garden Accessories. When I sow seedlings nothing works better for sealing in the moisture and creating a mini-greenhouse effect.
The photo above shows one of my hanging planters with Glad Press’n Seal
Within a week my tomatoes were up and beginning to grow. Time to take off the Press’n Seal and watch their progress. When the plants are at this stage I must check each pot daily to make sure they are not drying out.