Plant & Product – Mistletoe Cactus

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

Color Your World - 120 Days of Crayola - Fern Green on Salada Package
Color Your World – 120 Days of Crayola – Fern Green on Salada Package

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.

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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.

Color Your World - 120 Days of Crayola - Fern Green on Salada Package
Color Your World – 120 Days of Crayola – Fern Green on Salada Package

Product – Kefir

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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
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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

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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.

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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.

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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:

CHEESECAKE CUPCAKES

6 Oreos halved, cream removed
2 8 oz Cream Cheese (softened)
1/2 Cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
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.

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I also top with chocolate chips when hot. These melt and create a chocolate disc on top.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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Product – Red Mill 10 Grain Cereal

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

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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 – Great Products with Great Recyle Potential

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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.

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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

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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.

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*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.

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Product and Planting – Glad Press’n Seal and Seedling Progress

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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.

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The photo above shows one of my hanging planters with Glad Press’n Seal

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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.

Product – Natural Reader

NATURAL READER

Sometimes listening to your written words read aloud allows you to hear mistakes that proof-reading by sight alone does not reveal. I can’t even begin to number the times I have read, and re-read my blog posts, only to find a grammatical, spacing or spelling mistake at a later date. It is hard, sometimes next to impossible, to edit your own work. The Natural Reader website helps alleviate some of these problems. Yes, the free voice is a bit stilted and robotic, but it gives a sense of flow to what you have written, revealing grammar mistakes, or errors of omission in your text. Give it a try!

Here are two links for Natural Reader:

Natural Reader Instruction Page
Natural Reader Home Page and Free Download

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Another good tool is Auto-Crit. You can try this program for free, and if you are a daily writer, you might want to purchase the program. It will reveal grammatical errors, word count, excessive word usage, etc.

Click here to try Auto-Crit: Auto-Crit

Product – Rooibos Tea

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I absolutely have come to love Rooibos Tea. I must say that at the first, I was a bit taken aback by it’s very different flavor. However, the more rooibos I drank, the more I loved it, and now am of the opinion the tea tastes as if I am drinking sunshine and flowers.

Some of the benefits in drinking Rooibos Tea are listed below:

  • Acts as an antioxidant and increases SOD levels
  • Prevents DNA damage
  • Cardiovascular protection through ACE inhibition
  • Suppresses fasting glucose levels
  • Improves glucose uptake and insulin secretion after a meal
  • Aids in liver tissue regeneration
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Acts as a bronchodilator and antispasmodic
  • Inhibits lipid peroxidation and brain aging
  • Rooibos extract improves immune defects such as HIV

A good article about Rooibos Teas can be found here: Rooibos Tea

I am very glad that my local grocery store carries this tea. Not only is it delicious, but it has multiple health benefits.

Pleasure and Product – Pap-Pap’s Sugar

My sister Susan’s honeybees often visit my yard. Bees can fly up to four miles from their hives to collect pollen, and I live only a mile away from my sister’s home and hives.

The honeybees love my spearmint, which happily is grown organically, as are all of my sister’s vegetables and flowers.

Here’s a jar of Susan’s honey. She calls it “Pap-pap’s Sugar” in honor of our grandfather who also loved bees and had many hives during his lifetime. The honey is so beautiful. I love the way the sunshine illuminates it’s golden and pure goodness. My favorite way to use it is in tea…a bit of heaven in a cup.

Product – Etsy and the Teeny-Tiny Fairy

I love handcrafted items. I sell a few of my pressed flower cards on Etsy, and sometimes buy from the other artists and craftspeople who sell their wares on the site. I loved this teeny-tiny baby fairy I came upon. Here she is hanging on a wreath in my home.

Here she is with a penny to show how very small she really is.

She is going to become part of an ongoing game with my grandsons. Each time they come I’m going to hide/hang her in a different room. It will be fun to see who can spot her first.

Another thing I love about Etsy is the personal touch and interaction I have with the other artists who sell on the site. It’s so nice getting a genuine “Thank you,” rather than the usual “Here you go…” response I receive so often as I am handed my bag in a big store or grocery. Thanks Tania. To visit Tania’s Etsy shop click on this link: FAIRY SHADOW SHOP.

To visit all of Etsy click on this link: ETSY

Product – Survival Hammock

On a recent camping trip my nephew brought along a survival hammock. This lightweight, full sized hammock fits inside a small bag and easily opens up into a strong and durable, weatherproof hammock. We were amused at how prepared he was for any problems he might encounter. All within reach were his flip-flops, a hatchet, and a fly swatter. He was prepared for any emergency.

These hammocks are quite expensive, but for the serious camper and hiker, worth the expense.