RSSArchive for the ‘product review’ Category
Posted June 6th, 2012 by Jen in family life, health/cooking/food, humor, product review
4 Comments »
Please do not ever, ever leave. You were my best imaginary childhood friend. I always wondered where you were going with that umbrella in the rain, worried that you might ruin your pretty yellow dress, but I wanted to walk with you and also to let you know that you were spilling your salt–you might run out, please be careful.
Remember that time when I was eight and my parents left me and my sister at home by ourselves while they shopped in Tucson all day? We made a Wowie Chocolate Cake—from that page in the cookbook that was rather crusty from overuse because we made this recipe so often since it didn’t call for eggs and we were always out of eggs—just us and a pinch of you, and we ate the whole thing before they returned in case they’d be mad. You’re so fun.
People I haven’t seen in a long time tell me I haven’t changed a bit, but you? Wow, it’s like a miracle, you have not changed at all since 1968!! Mr. Morton could have easily morphed you into a hippie or punk rocker or glam girl over the years, but somehow you are still the same sweet umbrella girl and I declare that the best branding decision ever.
It’s been over 30 years since those memories of making cakes and all manner of other cooking adventures first sifted out, but…gosh, tonight as I made hamburgers and poured the finest ever seasoning straight out of that timeless blue canister, it’s like not a day has gone by.
You are the salt of the earth. An icon. A classic. Stylish and carefree, ah, that’s what I loved, so carefree. So what that it’s raining and I’m spilling my salt? It’s a happy day! Thank you, darling.
Love, Jenny (as all my childhood friends called me)
Posted August 1st, 2008 by Jen in blog stuff, family life, humor, product review
12 Comments »
Thank you, Becky at Twisted Fencepost, for the cheerful and comfy oven mitts! I won Becky’s giveaway of her handmade oven mitts. These mitts have this wonderful little stretch to them that gently squeeze my hands as if to say, “You’re an awesome cook!” Oh, also, Becky included a lovely matching kitchen towel, which was unavailable for the photo shoot, as it was recently completely soiled and in need of laundering.
I told Becky how badly I needed them, because I couldn’t find a single oven mitt in the house, and I was in danger of burning off my sweet fingers. I need my fingers. These arrived the day after my birthday – I love surprise birthday gifts! And the day after that, I found the one oven mitt I did own – in my 7 year old daughter’s underwear drawer.
I had to explain the craziness to Becky, who may have wondered about my daughter’s stability – why was she stashing away an oven mitt with her underclothes?! An unknown fact was revealed: my mother, with Alzheimer’s or some mysterious mind-confusing disease that can afflict almost-80-year-olds, lives with my family. She loves to help put laundry away. You may find my t-shirts in my son’s dresser, dirty clothes mistakenly folded neatly into drawers, or oven mitts filed away with underwear. We work with it.
Another blog perk came my way when Sheila at Meditations and Confessions of a Homemaker sent me this pack of handmade cards. Each card has an inspiring scripture, wise saying, or encouraging word for women. Sheila is truly gifted (in many ways), and you can find more of her cards for sale at her Etsy shop. She has a great big heart for hurting and broken people, she blogs for the persecuted church (don’t miss her post on China), and is simply refreshing.
Sheila has also given me a few blog awards recently, which I’ll pass on soon. They are the Arte y Pico (best art) Award, and the Brillante Weblog Award. Thank you from the bottom of my heart! Coming up (or whenever I get around to it!) will be my awards reception in which I present these to some other excellent bloggers.
Have you enjoyed any blog perks lately?
Posted April 20th, 2008 by Jen in arts & crafts, features, holidays, product review
16 Comments »
There is nothing like the changing of seasons to make me want to freshen up my home décor. And with spring now in full swing (despite the brief flurry of snow today), I went hunting for some simple home decorating ideas to fit my frugal budget.
My first suggestion is to get some living color. Fresh cut flowers are always nice, but I prefer a plant that will continue to give me enjoyment beyond a few weeks. Cost-wise, a large bouquet of flowers is about the same price as a large flowering plant. Here is what I chose, an easy care Bromeliad Guzmania “Rana.” You can find these plants for about $10, depending on where you shop. Better deals will be found at your local nursery versus the grocery store plant section.
Something to keep in mind about this particular plant, however: Bromeliads are “monocarpic,” meaning they die after flowering, but it’s a slow process, usually taking up to 3 years. During that time, however, 1 to 3 offsets are produced which can be re-potted to continue the species.
Second, some spring color can be splashed into your living room by way of throw pillows. This is an inexpensive way to give a new look. It’s time to store the winter throws and pillows and replace them with pastel colored or lively spring patterned pillows. Like I said, I’m on a budget, so here is what I found at Goodwill, for a mere $1.99 for the red flowered one and .99 for the purple beaded throw, and $2.99 for the new wooden chair cushion. I tossed these pillows in the wash, and they’re good as new to me.
Next, I turned my attention to the kitchen. Put away are the holiday and winter napkins and table decorations. These new table linens – a set of 4 cloth napkins – caught my eye. I adore hydrangeas, so I snapped this set up for only $1.99, also at the thrift store. I looked for some porcelain to be a permanent spring table decoration, and I almost passed this lovely salt & pepper set by, thinking it was made in China. But when I turned the set to check the bottom markings, I was ecstatic to see “Made in Italy.” This, my dears, is the thrill of thrifting! The salt and pepper set was just $2.99, and the small matching pitcher was $2.99.
I didn’t want to leave the bathroom out of all the fun, so I bought a new shower curtain with a wonderful spring look. It was $4.99, brand new at Goodwill, and truly needed because the upstairs bath currently has no shower curtain at all. The kids always take a bath in there, and the downstairs bathroom for the guests already has a shower curtain.
Not to leave the children’s bedroom out either, the kiddos were all with me while I did this shopping spree. JJ picked out this wooden-framed picture of the vase of red tulips (.99) and JoJo wanted this decidedly spring-y girl picture (the matted frame was $1.99 and the picture was $1.99, and I put them together – the girl came in a very ugly gold frame that had to go). One of the kids also grabbed this .99 orange button-framed picture for big brother’s dresser top.
I almost forgot the smell of spring! The fresh flowers may do the trick, and some people like the flower scented plug-ins. For myself, I’m allergy-prone and artificial scents give me terrible headaches. So, I opt for essential oils or natural candles. I love the scent of lavender, and with a drop of the essential oil on the lightbulb, I’m suddenly skipping through lavender fields in Provence. I already have several essential oils on hand, but they can be purchased for about $5/vial. Another natural scent tip is to place several cinnamon sticks and a few drops of vanilla in a small pot of water and simmer it on the stove.
So, there you have it – a simple spring home make-over on a budget for less than $40! Of course, if your finances allow, you certainly don’t have to be as frugal as I was, and I know that not everyone is willing to shop at thrift stores. But it can be done, and I would love to hear about your own spring decorating ideas, whether budget-minded or deluxe.
Posted April 15th, 2008 by Jen in arts & crafts, blog stuff, carnivals, giveaways, product review
I’m pleased to announce the winner of my Gardening with Children book: commenter #17, AreWeThereYetMom, your book will be on the way shortly! Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots: Gardening Together With Children is sure to delight your whole family! Thank you so much, everyone who left me a comment on that post. Thanks to Laura for mentioning this book giveaway!
My current book giveaway is two homemade books from the Diary of 1 family, for those interested in native plant life. You may leave me a comment on The Child’s Spring Book by this Sunday to learn about these books and enter the drawing.This giveaway actually has a project attached to it – my kids are putting together an Oregon plant/nature book – a cute ziplock-bag-book – to pass on to a child who lives anywhere other than where we live. And I hope that child will then create a book highlighting his/her region to pass on to another child, and so on. It’s a very simple book, so don’t be intimidated to try it! -P.S., our Oregon book will have some child-intriguing extra odds and ends from our property, like these:
One more note about contests: I actually won something!! SmallWorld had a spring poetry contest, and my mom’s poem, Morning, was chosen, and I hear that I have a basket of spring goodies on the way to me, which of course I’ll share with my mom – can’t wait to show you!
Posted March 30th, 2008 by Jen in features, health/cooking/food, history, product review
3 Comments »
The multimillionaire Swiss-born entrepreneur and winery magnate Donald Hess is switching his attention from Napa to a remote region of the Andes foothills in Argentina, in the province called Salta. In 2001, Hess added the Argentina holdings to his existing vineyards in California, South Africa, and Australia.
After a visit to the southern part of Salta in 1996, with his wife Ursula, Don Hess was directed to Cafayate, the center of wine production in the region. It was there that he drank an intriguing Malbec-Cabernet blend from Colomé, and there that he began fermenting the idea that he could plant a world class vineyard at over 9000 feet. As Hess explained,
Hess now owns a vineyard in Colomé, along with a stunning hotel and art gallery which he built, about a four hours’ drive from Salta, in northwest Argentina. Colomé’s vineyards include century old vines that pre-date the deadly vine disease phylloxera, being planted on original French rootstock. This land encompasses about 96,000 acres, and then, of course, there is the 60,000 acres at Altura Maxima (near Payogasta) and another 865 acres at nearby El Arenal. Currently, just under 300 acres are being cultivated.
It’s the Altura Maxima property that is gaining fame these days, as this vineyard currently holds the world record for vineyard at the highest altitude. In a country where bottles of wine are marked with the specific altitudes of their vineyards, there is a machismo contest going on amongst the landlords over who can go the highest. To give an idea of the heights, the California vineyards top out at 3,000 feet, and Europe at 4,300 feet. In Argentina, vineyards average 5,500 feet, and Altura Maxima boasts vineyards at close to 10,000 feet.
The high altitude, while still a very experimental thing, is thought to be viticulturally advantageous. The extreme elevations give the vines an abundance of solar radiation, and some researchers think this increases the level of healthy polyphenols in red wine. The thinner air and lower humidity seem to cause the grapes to develop thicker skins, resulting in a more flavorful, aromatic, and tannic grape.
Argentina is clearly a special place for Donald and Ursula Hess, who now spend half the year there. They love the people, and in fact, when they bought Colomé, they inherited not only the oldest winery in Argentina, dating back to 1831, but also its 400 inhabitants. Hess has been kind to these natives, who previously were forced into slave labor. Colomé employs at least one person from each extended family. Hess takes time to train them, provides them with health insurance and has built facilities to meet their needs: a clinic, community center, and church.
Hess also takes great care of the land itself. At Colomé, he installed an Italian-made hydro-electic turbine for energy, he grows everything from the vines to the food he cultivates for the hotel using traditional biodynamic principles, and the entire estate is self-sufficient. You’ll find sheep and cattle there producing organic meat and milk, and their manure fertilizing the vines and gardens.
If you think you might want to go start a vineyard, keep in mind the timetable. Hess realizes that Argentina will probably be the cap of his career, because these ventures take a great deal of not only money, but time. Here is his projection:
Time will tell if Donald Hess’ high altitude experiment will pay off. As he battles the unique hurdles of the region – frost, hail, wild donkeys, minimum oxygen, and the Argentine leaf-cutting ant (which destroyed 13 acres of his first planting), Hess still presses on.
The Hess Group produces four wines at its Colomé vineyards, just three of which you can find in the United States in very limited quantities: Colomé Torrontes, Colomé Estate Malbec, and Colomé Reserva. If you have the opportunity to travel to Argentina, you’ll want to stay at Hess’ Estancia Colomé.
photo credit: Estancia Colomé and USA Today
Posted March 19th, 2008 by Jen in blog stuff, carnivals, product review, sports, the office
1 Comment »
Oh, the places you’ll go. Dr. Seuss.
Whew, I’ve been to a lot of places, and more to go!
Puss ReBoots thinks I rock. Wow, what a compliment! I’m passing this blog award on to:
Check out these blogs that rock – I think you might agree.
Announcing the winners of my sports products Giveaway:
Living For God: New York Giants Rug
Congratulations to these blogging winners!
Posted March 16th, 2008 by Jen in features, health/cooking/food, history, product review
3 Comments »
Italy’s tiny village of Sorbo Serpico in Campania’s Irpinia region is home to the highly acclaimed Feudi di San Gregorio estate, established in 1986. For many years this southern Italian area was overlooked by other winemaking powerhouses to the north, but the folks at Feudi have tapped into the incredible potential of Campania’s unique terroir and ancient varietals.
Close to Mt. Vesuvius, the land is layered with mineral-rich deposits of volcanic ash, remarkably favorable to vines, producing a grape with very distinctive flavors and aromas. Many of the vines used by Feudi di San Gregorio are centuries old, including the oldest Aglianico vines in the country, a grape with origins in ancient Greece. When a food writer and wine lover set out to find Italy’s oldest vineyard, his quest eventually led to one of Feudi di San Gregorio’s vineyards, about which he was told:
This is an ancient grapevine, not a tree:
Enzo Ercolino and his wife Mirella Capaldo started Feudi di San Gregorio, and along with Italian enologist Riccardo Cotarella, they have taken every advantage of the natural conditions of Campania, and added a modern technology twist to make exquisite modern wines from ancient vines. You will not find them stomping grapes with their feet, despite the ancient history. Feudi di San Gregorio took a high spending approach, building a $25 million winery and hospitality center.
The sleek new wine cellar has capacity for 5,000 barrels, and their state-of-the-art technology includes vineyards equipped with solar-powered meteorological stations which are constantly gathering weather data. This high tech method actually minimizes the need for artificial viticulture. The Feudi di San Gregorio estate also includes a gourmet restaurant, a stunning glass enclosed tasting room, a wine shop, lush landscaped gardens, and an outdoor amphitheater. It’s well positioned to be a world-class tourist destination.
And the wine, ah, I hear it’s good.
photo credits: New York Times, Vinography
Posted March 9th, 2008 by Jen in features, health/cooking/food, product review
5 Comments »
The face of Central Oregon farming is changing, and wine grapes are the newcomer. Doug and Gina Maragas are the owners of the only winery in Central Oregon, and just last July planted their first acre of Vitis vinifera.
Doug, a Greek/Italian with a long family history of wine making, and his wife Gina, half-Italian herself, seem the perfect couple to be taking on this historic task. The idea for Maragas Winery was first dreamed up by the couple in 1999, and by 2001 Maragas had produced its first vintage – out of a four-bay garage on the east side of Bend, and by 2003 in a nice downtown Bend location. But all this with grapes from outside of Central Oregon – currently the Maragas wine is made from the grapes of Western and Southern Oregon, and California.
At this point, it’s helpful to know that Doug Maragas had a very industrious Greek grandmother. Anna Maragas and her husband owned a grocery store in Canton, Ohio in the 1940s. When good oranges were nowhere to be found, she said, “I can do better,” and set off to California. By herself. And came back with a train car full of delicious oranges, somehow obtained on credit. Anna began brokering fruit, and eventually grapes, up and down the west coast, her tenacity landing her with the only train car permit to do so during the war. Once the good lady had her hands on some fine grapes, she did what any industrious woman would do – she began to make wine.
So, I can imagine Doug Maragas paying the great amount of money that winemakers must pay for grapes, and saying, “I can do better.” And like his grandmother, doing it all against the odds and with great tenacity, despite the risks.
You may wonder why Maragas Winery is the only one operating in Central Oregon. Goodness, vineyards abound in the Willamette Valley of Oregon where the Pinot Noirs are as famous as anything from the Napa Valley. The freezing winter temperatures are probably the biggest deterrent. Spring and fall frosts can also be deadly to the crop – as Gina says, it can frost here at any old time, and lastly, Central Oregon has a short growing season. There simply must be enough heat to ripen the fruit.
There is some encouraging news, however.
The new Maragas Winery and Vineyard, completed in November 2006, is located about 20 miles north of Bend in a fortuitous microclimate. The 40-acre property is at a lower elevation and gets more sun than other parts of Central Oregon, possesses a beneficial sandy loam, volcanic soil, and most advantageous, is protected by rock cliffs that serve to draw cold air away from the vines.
With help from the Oregon State University viticulture experts, Maragas carefully picked 16 of the heartiest varieties most likely to survive and thrive and produce an excellent wine. The Maragases opted to not plant any hybrids at this point (which are actually more suited to cold-climate growing), instead cultivating the traditional Vitis vinifera varieties because of their status as the best-tasting wine grapes. So far, they have planted a one-acre pilot vineyard, to test the varieties before choosing the vines for the remainder of the acreage. It will take about three years to know the results.
The first vines are now springing forth with new buds, a hopeful sign of an agricultural breakthrough that will someday soon christen Central Oregon as wine country.
photo credits: Maragas Winery, Google Images, Wines and Vines.
Posted March 2nd, 2008 by Jen in features, france/french, health/cooking/food, history, product review
8 Comments »
This begins the story of Domaine Rouge-Bleu. Jean-Marc Espinasse, the charming man behind this Provençal vineyard, went on from that first wine making adventure to begin his very own vineyard just over a year ago. He was offered 25 acres of old vines, and with his lovely American wife Kristin and their children, began the amazing task of creating Rouge-Bleu, along with renovating a nearly 400 year old Provençal farmhouse. I was immediately drawn into this story because of that endearing quality of a man living out his dream.
I stumbled upon Jean-Marc’s blog recently, and was excited when I saw that he and his wife were doing a west coast tour! But, I read his blog a few days too late, as he had already passed through Portland, just hours from me. I left a comment on his blog anyway, mentioning our dream of a vineyard on our property someday. I was so surprised to see an email several days ago titled Vineyard in the desert, from Jean-Marc! He asked the telling question:
I knew immediately I was in trouble. I responded that it was quite doubtful, since we had to drill through over 60 feet of solid rock, plus another 200 feet, to hit water when we installed our well. Monsieur Espinasse is a gracious but straightforward Frenchman, and gave me no-nonense advice:
Ah, well, let’s talk about Rouge-Bleu! Their “Dentelle” Cuvée is scheduled to be bottled in just over a week, and I imagine everyone is very excited. Organic and ancestral practices at Rouge-Bleu call for some interesting viticultural procedures. Jean-Marc’s latest post involves egg whites — don’t worry, they won’t end up in your bottle. Evidently, the albumin contained in egg whites aids in the clarifying process, and using them allows Jean-Marc to avoid too much filtration, which kills the natural sediments so vital to their natural wines.
What are the benefits of organic grape farming? Jean-Marc says that the combination of natural cultivation and harvesting at low yields allows the vines to produce their very best. The result will be good levels of alcohol, high levels of acidity, the right balance of sugar, and a promising aging.
Another term you’ll hear around Rouge-Bleu is biodynamic viticulture. It’s hard to define, as each grower will modify his practices to suit his needs, but it seems to go beyond organic farming. Biodynamic farming will also take into account timing, and, for example, apply certain soil applications according to traditional seasonal markers. A biodynamic approach to a vine disease, for instance, would be not to focus on how to kill the disease, but to ask why the plant is sick in the first place. There is something depleted in the soil, let’s fix the soil, instead of, there’s just something wrong with the vine. This makes sense, but biodynamic philosophy can also lead into mysticism, at which point I would depart.
Here’s a nice sampling of how Jean-Marc practically applies his farming philosophy:
Provence is an ideal location for wine making, as Jean-Marc is discovering. The Mistral, which is the strong, cold northwesterly wind that blows through southern France and into the Mediterranean, can be deadly; however, the dry Mistral winds minimize vine disease and can return health to the vineyard. The stony ground and soil rich in calcium carbonate is quite amenable to vines and little else. The Mediterranean climate is famously favorable to the vines.
If you have any questions about Rouge-Bleu, be sure to check in at Jean-Marc’s website. I think I’ll be asking how to get my hands on some bottles of the upcoming Dentelle Cuvée and also the Mistral, which is scheduled to be released later this year. If you live in Houston, Texas, you’re in luck — French Country Wines imports the Domaine Rouge-Bleu wines.
photo credits: Rouge-Bleu
Posted February 24th, 2008 by Jen in arts & crafts, book reviews, features, history, politics/world news, product review
10 Comments »
However, passing time and a view through a lens clarified by our own humanity is providing a fresh take on Rockwell. Are we not in need of art that springs from sentimentality about American values? Is there not a desperate call to understand the dignity of the common man? Isn’t this a time to celebrate democracy and the individual? Do we not need hope for our nation in the face of economic and international uncertainties? The engaging power of Norman Rockwell paintings are for such a time as this.
If one judges Norman Rockwell by popular appeal, he has always been wildly successful. Though derided by the art world, he was embraced by the people. Though his storyteller style was out of fashion in the modern, abstract art establishment, Rockwell was clearly understood. Rockwell wrote in 1936:
Rockwell was born in 1894 in New York. He was a prolific painter, producing over 4000 original works. It’s fitting that one of his first jobs was art editor for the Boy Scouts of America, and Rockwell’s annual contributions to the Boy Scouts’ calendars between 1925 and 1976 have earned him a permanent place in the hearts of millions. Steven Spielberg has said that Rockwell’s scouting paintings inspired him to pursue his life’s work.
Norman Rockwell was best known for his Saturday Evening Post covers, of which he painted hundreds over a period of 47 years. Of these, there are four from 1943 that are among his most famous and influential works. The Four Freedoms series, published in 1943, was inspired by president Franklin D. Roosevelt’s speech in which he set forth four principles for universal rights: Freedom from Want, Freedom of Speech, Freedom to Worship, and Freedom from Fear. The wartime effect of the bold statements made by these powerful paintings cannot be underestimated.
Lest we forget what American life was like in the 20th century, we have Rockwell. We can remember the best of America and the worst of America, but always with benevolent affection. The everyday happenings of everyday people were the subject of most of his work, painted with accuracy and an appealing sense of tradition.
Posted January 28th, 2008 by Jen in carnivals, giveaways, product review, sports, the office
58 Comments »
Super Bowl XLII is set for February 3, 2008 in Arizona, a showdown between the New York Giants and the New England Patriots!! Diary of 1 and TeamMASCOT are hosting another giveaway right here, right now, in honor of this great football tradition!
This Super Bowl Giveaway is an auto accessories package for the team of your choice: The Patriots or the Giants of course — and I will even let you choose a different NFL team, because I know those team loyalties run very deep! The package will contain the following three items:
1. An auto emblem: an officially licensed auto emblem made of hard plastic with a metallic finish and adhesive on the back to stick to your car or truck, or any hard surface – refrigerator, RV, door, etc. Measures approximately 3×3 inches and 1/4 inch thick.
2. A sheet of static cling decals: Better than a sticker, remove and reuse these team logo window decorations whenever you like. Each sheet contains five decals with team logos and graphics, of various size and design. Removable and fade-resistent. The sizes of the static clings are: One is 2.5″x4.75″, one is 4.75″x6.5″, two are 5″x9″, and one is 3.75″x19″.
3. A plastic license plate frame: These team logo license plate frames attach easily to any vehicle and feature bright graphics and team colors. The license plate holders are 6.25″x12.25″ and meet the vehicle standards for display of registration tags. These auto tags are made of hard, sturdy plastic.
How to win: Simply leave a comment below, and include the name of the NFL team you want for the auto accessories package, and I will randomly choose a winner on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2008! I will notify the winner via email on Sunday, Feb. 3. If you are a blogger and would like to have an extra entry included in the drawing, just mention this contest on your blog with a link back to this post. You must have a U.S. mailing address to win this contest.
This contest is part of the Bloggy Giveaway Carnival at Rocks in My Dryer. Head over there for literally hundreds of amazing giveaways all week!!
Posted January 23rd, 2008 by Jen in health/cooking/food, product review
12 Comments »
I’m not one to go around talking about underarm hygiene habits. But here goes. I finally found a deodorant I really like. It’s Crystal Body Deodorant Spray, and if you can read the label there, significant to my armpit health is the fact that this product contains no aluminum chlorohydrate. Nearly all conventional deodorant/antipersperants have aluminum. Not to make a big stink out of a lot of talk flying around, because I can’t seem to get to the bottom of this issue, but it’s been publicized for years that aluminum may be linked to both Alzheimer’s Disease and breast cancer. The flap is enough for me to take notice and make changes.
I used to use a sort of salt rock deodorant before I switched to the Crystal spray. It had basically the same minimal ingredients, but every time you used it, you had to wet it with water to moisten it up enough to roll under your arm. What a hassle. And honestly I didn’t think it was all that hygienic, all that wetting and rubbing. The beauty of this product is that it’s a spray and never comes into contact with your skin, so it maintains purity and can be used by multiple users.
The Crystal Body Deodorant Spray contains the following: purified water, natural mineral salts, and potassium alum. That’s it! This product is also fragrance and paraben free. Frankly, if you’re in a real bind, just rub some salt water under your arms and you’ll be okay. Just to clarify, the ingredient alum has a very different composition from the other forms of aluminum in question.
Also, note that I’m only addressing deodorant, not antiperspirant, which is a different thing altogether, and I would avoid it. Here’s how the FDA describes antiperspirants:
A temporary plug within the sweat duct? Most people say don’t sweat it, but I think I’d rather.
What Wikipedia has to say about aluminum:
Dare you share what works for your underarm odor control? (Or your feet, for that matter. I just read on the back on the Crystal spray bottle that it can be used to eliminate odor on your feet).
You can find more Works for Me Wednesday tips over at Rocks in My Dryer!
Posted January 9th, 2008 by Jen in carnivals, health/cooking/food, product review
9 Comments »
Spectrum Naturals makes a vegetable shortening from organic palm oil. It’s a healthy alternative to traditional shortening and makes the flakiest, yummiest pie crusts. Its resume is impressive: no hydrogenated oils, trans-fat free, 100 percent certified organic expeller-pressed palm fruit oil, which is in a naturally solid state at room temperature.
I have a 24 ounce tub of this shortening that I use daily, and no, I haven’t been making any pies lately. The label forgot to mention how great this is for the SKIN! Since I’m a freak about parabens, PABAs, laureths and other synthetics in my lotions, I have a hugely difficult time finding a lotion or cream I can use with good conscience. (See this list of chemicals to avoid in your cosmetics and soaps). I’m cursed with dry skin, and my kids all suffer from eczema, especially right now, in the high desert in winter, so a product like this is a necessity.
I’d already tried rubbing olive oil on my skin with good results, so I naturally tried the Spectrum Shortening, which I had in my cupboard. If it’s good enough to eat, surely it’s just fine for your skin. And only one ingredient, which name I can easily pronounce and understand: palm oil. And, truly, it works just as well as any lotion or cream I’ve tried for dry skin. I like that it’s naturally in a solid state – it has a creamy texture that’s not too messy like an oil. You don’t need to refrigerate it, just keep it at room temperature in the pantry.
If you will be using the Spectrum Shortening for cooking, I’d recommend having a separate tub just for the skin. My kids help themselves to the shortening tub and just love getting their sticky little fingers in there and rubbing it on their own skin. So you can imagine I’m not very willing to cook with it after that!
The Works for Me Wednesday Master List is Here. Oops, I just realized today is Backwards day, in which you ask a question, not give a solution – oh, well, please just go rub some shortening on yourself, and ask, is this working?
Posted November 29th, 2007 by Jen in giveaways, product review, the office
48 Comments »
To win, just leave a comment below, letting me know which item you’d like to win. You have until next Wednesday, December 5, at midnight, to post your comment. U.S. and Canada bloggers only, please. I’ll have a random drawing and announce the thirteen winners in next week’s Thursday Thirteen! I’m offering free shipping and delivery guaranteed before Christmas. Links back to TeamMASCOT and this Diary of 1 post would be appreciated.
1. Boston Red Sox Wall Clock
2. Detroit Red Wings 3×5 Flag
3. Detroit Lions Blanket: Woven Tapestry Throw
4. North Carolina Tarheels Stainless Steel License plate
5. New York Yankees 27×37 Vertical Hanging Flag
6. Chicago Cubs Glow Pen
7. Atlanta Hawks Pennant
8. Michigan State Lapel Pin
9. Dale Earnhardt Jr. #8 Trash Can
10. Dallas Cowboys Stainless Steel Water Bottle
12. Oregon Ducks Chrome License Plate Frame
13. New Orleans Saints Auto Emblem
Thanks for visiting the Diary of 1 Holiday Giveaway of Sports Stuff! You can visit the Thursday Thirteen meme hub here.
Posted September 13th, 2007 by Jen in product review, the office
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Tomorrow is the start of another Diary of 1 giveaway, in partnership with my online business, TeamMASCOT.com. I’m very excited and so thankful to Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer who is hosting this bloggy giveaway for me! Tell your friends and run on over there tomorrow, the contest runs from Sept. 14-18.
I told Shannon I wanted to give away two youth College Cheerleader Uniforms, since Halloween is coming up. Then several days later I said to her, wait, I forgot about the little boys! So, I added the youth Football and Helmet uniform sets, which we carry in both College and NFL teams. Shannon and I ended up deciding to choose FOUR WINNERS, and they can choose from either the cheerleader or football costumes. These always sell out, so I chose the earliest blog giveaway date that Shannon offered…good luck to you all!
We don’t actually celebrate Halloween at my house, but we do go to a church Harvest Party, so our kids still get to dress up and have a ton of fun. I tell you, the one time I took my kids trick-or-treating in the neighborhood, the people who opened their doors to give out candy were often scarier than the children dressed up like a bleeding brain.
My kiddos will all be decked out in these fun uniforms this year. My 6 year old girl wants to be an Oregon Ducks cheerleader, since we live in Oregon, and my husband and I both went to the University of Oregon. My 4 year old girl wants to be a Michigan Wolverines cheerleader, since I’m from Michigan and nearly my entire family still lives there, including my awesome cousin who’s right in Ann Arbor, the heart of Wolverine country! My 8 year old and 3 year old boys want to be Dallas Cowboys football players because that’s Daddy’s team! I promise I will post pictures of them all dressed up!
Okay, folks, have fun playing over at the Rocks in My Dryer Bloggy Giveaway! I’ll be in touch with the winners to make shipping arrangements.
Posted June 11th, 2007 by Jen in arts & crafts, education, product review
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In honor of this week’s Carnival of Homeschooling theme of “Fun,” (up tomorrow) this post is about a fun past-time over here, puppet shows.
My gift to the kids this past Christmas was a Puppet Theater. You really don’t need a store-bought model, but I found a sale and we’ve dramatized over this enough to pay for it several times.
We began with about a dozen puppets I gathered from various stores, and I’m such a frugal shopper that I found them all for between $1 and $5 – and some free, if you count the socks and gloves. I’m still on the lookout for some reasonably priced little boy and little girl (normal-looking children) puppets, so if you know of a deal, pass it on. I will not pay $15 for a puppet, so don’t bother passing that information along.
Our initial “plays” consisted of bopping the other’s puppet over the head and spiraling into wild screams and laughter. This is all good, but sometimes you want a little more. :-)
Occasionally, I visit the Well-Trained Mind swap board, and that’s where I discovered our first scripts. Thank you, Kristin!! There’s this amazing homeschool mom on a farm in Nebraska, Kristin Greenhalgh, who’s written several Christian-themed Puppet Script books. I ordered every single one, and you can find them here. We’ve performed several of these, and most are perfect for 1-4 children of a variety of ages, maybe ages 6-12. My favorites are The Reason for the Seasons volumes, covering every holiday from Advent to Yom Kippur.
I told Kristin many months ago that I’d review her books here, so considered them reviewed: A+. Along with the Seasons scripts, Kristin has written Walking with God, 16 short scripts depicting important steps in the Christian walk. We like “Taming the Tongue.” Her scripts aren’t cheesy or tacky like some I’ve seen, but have very age appropriate dialogue. The third series, Living Like Jesus, includes 20 short scripts teaching Christ-like character traits and virtues. Great discussion questions follow each script, and when I say short, they are 1-2 pages long, perfect for young performers.
You may also be interested in some online scripts that you can download for free. Reader’s Theater Editions has dozens of free scripts adapted from stories written by Aaron Shepard and others – lots of myths and tall tales. Reader’s theatre is different from puppet theater, but I’ve easily modified them. My kids especially enjoyed taking to the stage with The Baker’s Dozen.
Acting and playmaking is such a wonderful, creative outlet for children. For homeschoolers, consider practicing a play with your own family or joining with another family, and put on a show for friends and relatives. You certainly don’t need the traditional “school play” model preventing your homeschooling kids from putting on a grand production!
Posted February 18th, 2007 by Jen in product review
Serve up the knowledge! Learn your rocks and minerals or your geography or math at the breakfast table.
We love these laminated placemats. The price runs about $3.00 each, and the manufacturer, Painless Learning, makes over 40 different educational designs! Here’s a few that grace our table:
A definite winner – great price and easy to use. These placemats are just handy to have around and I’m a big fan of integrating education into everyday life. These are called “painless learning” placemats for a reason!
Posted February 12th, 2007 by Jen in education, product review
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My first product review is, fittingly, on my favorite product: a book I can’t live without as a homeschool mom.SampleYes, it really is as simple as it sounds. I bought this book, Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, by Siegfried Engelmann, when my oldest child was four and a half. I taught him, along with his five year old friend, how to read, in less than four months, just doing twenty minutes a day. They were at about a second grade reading level when they finished. I’m currently teaching my five year old daughter (who only has one month until she’s done) and also my very bright 3 and a half year old daughter, who is just beginning.
I really love that this book stands alone. You don’t need any fancy computer program or flash cards or any other bells and whistles. This book, which I bought brand new at Barnes & Noble for $20, along with a sheet of paper and pencil, is it. Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons is brilliant.
This book, which is the DISTAR reading program (Direct Instruction – parts to whole, logical progression), has been involved in over a dozen comparative studies, including an enormous educational study done by the U.S. Department of Education, and guess what? It outperforms them all. Don’t ask me why every public school in the country isn’t using this system, because I don’t have the time or energy to rant and rave about public education. Do you wonder why I homeschool my kids?
Do NOT skip the first 27 pages of this book, which is the Introduction and Parent’s Guide. It’s invaluable, and you cannot teach this correctly without carefully reading that material. You do NOT have to be a reading teacher to teach your child to read, and in fact, you will know more about teaching reading than most teachers out there by the time you’ve gone through this book with your child. I happen to be a former public school teacher, and have my Master’s in Teaching. But I learned nothing valuable about teaching reading in my educational training, not even when I was a reading specialist! There IS a right way to teach reading, and it’s very systematic, and Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons lays out the sequence better than I have ever seen.
This is a scripted program, and there’s a reason for that. Every detail is covered, right down to how to effectively correct any type of mistake the child makes. You’ve got to understand that this program was tested on thousands of children, and you benefit from all of those trials. So don’t feel like you don’t have the “freedom” to teach how you want; the truth is that you have so much more freedom to have fun with your child, and you can heap on the praise, because your child has received the absolute most effective communication from you (through the script), and will be successful.
I’ve seen different educational tools out there that claim to work “like magic.” Well, I don’t think Zig Engelmann has ever made that claim, but I’ll make it for him! My kids all have such differing “learning styles” but this book works for everyone. So, if you’ve been cutting and pasting together your reading program for your child, or you’re just hoping he’ll figure it out by reading to him a lot, then this book would seem like magic, because what you’re doing won’t work (at least not well).