Tuesday, September 12, 2017

End of Summer Camping- Roraima Screen Tent Review

This summer the kids really enjoyed camping out in the backyard. We had campfires on the weekend weekends, and enjoyed cooking out over the fire.  We've been working on creating a nice backyard recreational area, where we can loung around and hang out in the evening, have dinner outside and just enjoy the summer.

When the kids have friends over, they love getting out the tent and camping in the back yard. We make a camp fire, cook veggie dogs, and roast veggie packs  in the fire pit.

We also have our hammock set up under the deck, and solar lights above it to create an inviting atmosphere. Eventually we'd like to make this area a walk out patio with decorative stone, a built in fire pit and maybe a hot tub. :)  We have a lot of plans for this area, but right now just enjoy it as our backyard camp spot.

We have a small table and chairs under the deck where we put the food out, but because it's right on the edge of the woods the bugs are terrible and constantly try to get in the food. i end up having to keep everything covered. It's kind of a pain.

So we recently got this screen tent by Roraima, to make cookouts far more enjoyable!  This bug proof screen tent is huge! It's 13 x 9 and around 7' tall. It has plenty of room to fit the table and chairs and an inflatable lounger inside! It's very spacious and incredibly easy to set up and take down.

The entire screen tent and poles pack up into this small duffle bag, and it only weights around 20lbs. It's really manageable to take on picnics, camping or to festivals! It has stakes and ties to secure it down so the wind doesn't blow it over. The poles are made from fiberglass, so it's pretty sturdy.

Setting up and taking down is really easy. You just unroll it and open it up so that the top of the screen tent faces up. There are three poles that fit into the top, and then 4 legs poles. Sets up similar to a tent, but honestly much easier. It was really straight forward. The screen tent has a zippered door on the front and back, and a hook for hanging a camping light. There are also attached tie strings if you want to tie the doors open.

We've really been enjoying our summer of backyard camping, hiking, kayaking and cooking out. i'm really bummed that summer is winding down, and the kids are back at school. The temperatures have really been cool for September, but i'm hoping for another Indian summer so we can camp and cookout a few more times before the winter comes.

i received the Roraima screen house for free or heavily discounted in exchange for my honest review, all opinions are my own.
This screen house is available on amazon http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0732V1WRX It's currently 20% off  and free shipping if you have prime.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Family Game Night! Wizard Roll- Board Game Review (sponsored)

This weekend we tried out a new game for family game night! The game is called Wizard Roll and it's a dice-matching pattern-building game of magical spells!  We love board games and all things magical themed, so i knew this game would be a huge hit! 

Wizard Roll is an award winning game Created by RoosterFin games.  Roosterfin strives to combine the fun of board games with the joy of learning. They makes games that are perfect for everyone, no matter if you are 6 or 60! Wizard Roll is perfect for all ages; from kids and teens, to college students, parents, and grandparents! Founded by Joe RoosterFin, a former teacher with a degree in mathematics, these award-winning games are easy to learn, educational, and fun for the whole family! 

Players compete to help the Wizard complete his spells by rolling the cubes and matching the rune pattern on their Spell Card. Wizard Roll improves strategic skills and memory. 

The concept of the game is simple enough, and at first the game seemed a little too easy...however, if you roll the magic wand on the dice you can choose to 'zap' your opponent so they have to put one of their rune tiles back.  Making winning a little more challenging than first expected. 

Once you complete your spell, you use the key card to say your spell.

We had a lot of fun with it! Every time someone got really close to winning, they'd get zapped and have to put back a tile. My girl who isn't a huge fan of board games gave it an 11 (on a scale to 1 to 10) and was begging to play just one more game before bed. 

Wizard Roll received the 2017 Preferred choice award by Creative Child Magazine. It's fast paced and easy to learn. Recommended age is 7 and up, but younger players could easily play with a little assistance. We had a great time playing it and zapping our opponent tiles back to the pile.

You can find out more info about Roosterfin Games on their website  www.RoosterFin.com.  
follow them on social media

Facebook- RoosterFin Games 
Twitter- @RoosterFin 
Instagram- @roosterfin

To join mailing list visit: https://roosterfin.com/pages/contact
How to Play : https://youtu.be/Wo8iUo-m6ME

i received the game Wizard Roll in exchange for my honest review. My opinions are my own.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Garden Update- End of August

Only a days behind. i started the post at the end of August anyway.  Here are a few pictures from last month.

Mid August and tomatoes really coming in. Starting to get a few from all the different varieties i planted. Still getting lots of beans and cucumbers, getting a few squash as well.

Rainbow tomatoes make me happy. These are Early girl, Yoder's German yellow, Golden Jubilee, Cream Sausage, Yellow pear, Blue Beauty and Black Krim.

August 26.  Still getting peaches! Peppers are starting to ripen, getting lots of tomatoes and beans. Late season blueberries which i'd forgotten about are starting to ripen.

August 29-  My striped tomatoes which had been taking their time and finally starting to ripen. These are Berkley's Tie Dye, Striped Roman, Casidy's Folly, Tigerella, and Violet Jasper.  Most of these are new varieties for me, although i've planted the Tigerella and Violet Jasper before.  i tried growing the Striped Roman last year, but they never did much.

The Tigerella have done really well this year. The plants are totally loaded, however, they are not split resistant. After we had a drought the first half of the summer, then it finally rained,  every single tomato on the plant not only split but basically exploded.  The plant is loaded again, and so far they seem to be doing well. If we get a heavy rain again though, i'll need to pick them quickly.

My cold/storage pantry is really starting to fill up. We've since dug more potatoes, and added several dozen cans of tomatoes and peaches. It's looking good for end of August, into September. i haven't dug sweet potatoes or harvested winter squash yet and i'm still canning. i was just gifted apples, and i have a second planting of beans coming in. 

It feels amazing to see all the food i've been able to grow and put up for my family. The whole state of the world right now has me a little anxious, i'm feeling a bit like a homesteader turned prepper. This past week, i've been filling the deep freezer and will get back to canning soon. i also have a fall garden planted, and hope to continue harvesting up until the first frost. 

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Ripley's Believe it or Not- Shatter Your Senses!

All true, 100% ALL NEW, Ripley’s Believe It or Not!® Shatter Your Senses! will amaze and astound readers from the first to the last page.  Hair-raising photographs, incredible stories, and the mind-blowing facts Ripley’s is famous for promise hours of entertainment for every Ripley fan! With thousands of stories—including submissions from readers around the world—you’ll discover something new each time you read it!

If your kids are anything like mine, then the recently released Ripley's Believe It or Not! Shatter your Senses! would make the perfect gift!                                                             There are around 250, full color pages of weird and interesting facts! Both of my kids can spend hours reading the Ripley's books. My son will memorize the weird facts and then randomly share them when we are in the car. His brain is like an encyclopedia of weird facts and trivia. :)  He really loves this stuff.

Ripley Publishing has been releasing an annual book showcasing the weirdest and strangest facts from around the world along with hundreds of colorful photos. Shatter your Senses! is the 2018 edition of the bestselling annual series by Ripley’s Believe It or Not! There’s no way to prepare yourself for this all-true, all-new collection filled with incredible facts, unbelievable stories, and mind-blowing photography. A sensory overload, Shatter Your Senses! is sure to amaze and astound children and adults alike.

Some of the photos are a little gross/gory so the recommended age is 10 and up.    The eye ball on the front cover look 3-D and pop right off the page. It's really a fun book!  Ripley's Believe It or Not! is globally renowned as the authority on the weird, the eccentric, and the amazing. Ripley's Believe It or Not! provides entertaining book which educates in a humorous style. The Ripley brand is known around the world as a trend-setting source of family-friendly fun and excitement! Every day the researchers at Ripley's are busy digging up the craziest true stories and the most unbelievable facts.

This large hardcover, full color book retails for $28.95 and is currently onsale for $19.99. It can be purchased at Ripleys.com, Amazon and all major bookstores. 

*i did receive this book at no cost in exchange for my honest and unbiased review. i only recommend products that we truly love and would use ourselves. 

Friday, September 1, 2017

Raising Monarch Butterflies

If you've followed my blog at all, you know that every summer, we gather all the Monarch eggs and caterpillars off the milkweed that grows along our road to raise inside. We do this for several reasons. Monarchs are considered endangered because of loss of habitat. Our county mows all the weeds on the edge of the roads to help with viability, but they often take down a lot of milkweed in the process. So we gather the eggs and caterpillars off of the milkweed, before the mowers come through. 

 In the wild, statistics show that only one out of every 10 eggs survives to maturity.  By raising them inside,  i've had a 85-90% survival rate. Almost ever year i lose one or two to parasitic wasps, which infect the caterpillars before i've collected them. Occasionally the caterpillars will cannibalize other monarch eggs  if they come across them on the leaves, and i've lost a few to different monarch diseases. However, compared to a 10% survival rate of those in the wild, i'm okay with an occasional loss. 

 Raising monarchs is not difficult at all. You just have to have a good source of milkweed to feed them.  You want to look for fresh green disease and pest free milkweed leaves. Always wash both sides of the leaves before giving them to the caterpillars, to wash away possible fungal disease spores.

i keep my caterpillars in a 10 gallon glass aquarium. Placing the milkweed in a small vase of water to keep it fresh. The caterillars only leave the milkweed when it is time to shed their skin or pupate. They will move to the top of the aquarium to create their chrysalis, so you need to make sure they can not escape through the holes in the wire mesh top.

My cats like to sit on top of the aquarium, and the silk holding my chrysalis to the top because loose. So i moved them to a branch instead. It also is a good idea to move them if you have to continuously open to the top to add more milkweed. 

The chrysalis can be moved buy getle tugging on the silk that attaches it to the top. Then i use hot glue to glue the silk to a tiny square of paper. Then hot glue the paper to the twig. Be careful not to get the hot glue on the cremaster (black part above chrysalis) or the actual chrysalis. 

This photo shows the silk used to attach the chrysalis to the top. As you can see,just by the weight of the butterfly,  It's quite easy to pull it off with out damaging the chrysalis. When the butterfly first emerges is wings are crumpled and it's body is swollen and filled with fluid. The butterfly pumps the fluid from it's abdomen into it's wings to unfurl them. 

 Once the wings are open and the new butterfly will sits for several hours until the wings are dry.  Drying time depends a bit on the weather. On rainy or humid days it takes longer for the wings to dry.

So far we have released 6 butterflies, and i have 8 chrysalis and one more caterpillar still munching.  Raising caterpillars is easy to do and fun for the whole family. We all love releasing the butterflies and watching them fly away and sometimes return to the flower garden a day or so later.

Raising monarchs is something we look forward to every year, and even if they were not endangered, i know we would continue to do it. Ever year i plant more and more flowers for the butterflies and am still working to establish a large patch of milkweed that is just for the monarchs. i like to believe that although i can not save all the monarchs from the county mowers, disease, parasites and destruction of habitat, i can still make a difference to a few.

What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly. ~Richard Bach

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Peach Season- 2017

 This year we were eagerly awaiting peach season! i have two trees that were completely loaded, but with the lack of rain we had during the summer the peaches were small and green. When we finally got a good rain, the peaches immediately plumped up. The trees were so full that the tops of two of the trees broke in half.
Next year the trees will have to be pruned way back, i'm not sure how this will effect them next year, but this year we are enjoying beautiful peaches!!

"Millions of peaches, peaches for me Millions of peaches, peaches for free" Every year when we get a good peach harvest we sing the President's of the United States Peaches song. Husband says the song isn't really about peaches, but what ever. i'm going to sing it every peach season.

One tree was ripe before the other, so by the time the second tree was ripe i was almost peached out. i've been working on canning them, i also worked on pasta sauce earlier this week. :) Canning peaches is a pretty simple, but time consuming process. i used the directions from the PickYourOwn website. This site is a valuable resource for canning and preserving fruits. i did the hot pack method, where you cook the peaches for 5 min. in boiling syrup before packing them in the jars. In the past i've also done the cold pack method, and i'm not sure which i prefer. The cold pack is quicker, but the hot pack is supposed to be safer. While searching for peach recipes i came across one for peach honey, which is made with all the peach peelings that you remove when canning. i love this idea of 'no waste' even though the peeling will end up in the compost and are not really wasted.

i had so man peaches this year, i ended up giving 4 big boxes and a couple bags of peaches away, and still had a crazy amount on the trees. This is just from the first tree, when they first began to ripen. The rain was knocking them out of the tree so i picked as many ripe ones as i could so they wouldn't hit the ground and bruise.

Besides canning peaches, i made peach butter in the crock pot. i didn't really use a recipe. i just cooked down a bunch of skinned peaches with a couple cups of sugar, a bit of lemon juice and some cinnamon. i think i did 5 hours on low, then turned it up to high until it was the correct consistency.

Yesterday i started peaches round two...with peaches from the second tree. After canning the peaches in a light syrup, i cooked down the leftover syrup and made a peach sauce. This can be used on icecream or pancakes.

i also made a peach crisp and peach sorbet which i drizzled with my peach sauce. So good! i'm down to my last box of peaches, so i need to decide what i'm going to make with them. Many are bruised ( i canned the unbruised ones) so i'll probably use them in baking or freeze them.

It's been sort of a weird garden season, with so little rain but things are still doing well. Besides peaches, i've been canning a ton of tomatoes and still have tons in the garden. The weather has started to cool down a bit, so garden season will be winding down soon as well. i did get some fall crops planted, but need to put in a few more.  Feeling pretty good about the amount of produce i've been able to put up this year.

"Blow up your t.v. throw away your paper Go to the country, build you a home Plant a little garden, eat a lot of peaches Try an find jesus on your own" - John Prine, Spanish Pipedream

Friday, August 25, 2017

Sweese Butter Crock Review and Giveaway!

Sweese kitchen and dining is dedicated to creating the most useful products that’ll be a staple of your kitchen! They want to create products that not only enhance your daily cooking chores, but become an integral part of your everyday life. Efficiency and durability are two of their biggest values, and it’s one of the guiding principles when it comes to making their plates, bowls, and cooking tools.

This week, i had the opportunity to review this lovely porcelain butter crock. A butter crock, also called a Butter Bell or French Butter dish allows you to store butter at room temperature, so it is always soft ready to spread on bread.  The Sweese butter crock is made from  pro-grade porcelain. It is FDA- approved and made of durable porcelain, a type of premium lead-free and non-toxic ceramic, chip-resistant and more sturdy than glass or stoneware.

This butter crock design makes the butter stay fresh for up to a month in the water seal. There is a water line in the base, so you just pour cool water up to the line and pack the lid with softened butter, then place the lid into base, leave on worktop away from sun. It is a wonderful way to keep butter and have it soft enough to spread without it tearing bread or muffins. Just remember to change the water every 3 or 5 days.

It also works great to store my homemade butter. Just make sure to pack it in well or it could fall out. Butter easily absorbs the odors of other foods and air is the source of turning butter rancid. This airtight design helps keep your butter fresh, soft and tasting great!

The Sweese Butter Crock comes in 5 lovely colors! 

BUY IT! You  can purchase the Sweese Butter Crock here  https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B06XKT4G5Y

To enter leave a comment on my blog letting me know which color you would pick.
Then click the image below and enter your name and email address!
*Please note, winner must have amazon Prime to enter.

  • Visit Sweese Fan Page on Facebook to get more chance to win.
  •  USA  only and must have Amazon Prime.
  • Visit Sweese Fans on Instagram
Giveaway ends in 2 weeks, and the winner will be chosen and contacted by Sweese.
Good luck!

i received this butter crock in exchange for my review. My opinions are my own.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Natrogix Bliss Essential Oil Set- Review

i really love using essential oils in my diffuser and homemade bath products. i have a nice collection of oils, but i'm always looking to add some new scents.

This #Natrogix Bliss essential oil set contains 9 different fabulous smelling oils. The set contains Rosemary, Sweet orange, lemon, lemongrass, frankincense, tea tree, peppermint, eucalyptus and lavender oil. Each bottle has .33 fl oz and is in an amber glass bottle. 

It also comes with a booklet with information about each scent//oil and recipes/uses for around the house.  i really love the packaging of this oil set, it would make a fabulous gift! The cardboard sleeve has the design cut out, and then it slides over the purple box that houses the oils. It's really packaged lovely. 

 The backs of each bottle contains information about the use if each oil, how it was extracted, plant part used and which oils it blends well with. Natrogix essential oils are all carefully sourced in the USA! 

i'm having fun playing around with different scent combinations in my oil diffuser.   What are some of your favorite combinations? 

The set is available $18.99 on amazon and comes with a free e-book. #natrogixessentialoil 

*i received this product in exchange for my honest review, i was not compensated. 

Brickfair 2017- Chantilly, Virginia

Last year my son wanted to go to Brickfair (lego convention) when he found out that members of his online Bionicle podcast would be there. It was a really neat experience, and so he found out they'd be back again this year he wanted to attend again. This is the last weekend, before school starts so we decided this would be a fun way to end the summer.

This year, there were a few additional members from the podcast that were not there last year and so the first thing we did was wait in line to meet them. Even though the podcast members are basically a bunch of kids themselves, my kids think of them as celebrities. It was fun to see their excitement getting autographs and pictures. 

My boy was thrilled to get the chance to chat with his favorite podcast members. He also had everyone sign the back of his TTV podcast shirt. 

Sage was recognized right away, and stole the show again. :)  She finally got to meet her favorite podcast member, Purple Dragon (girl in the back) and there was a lot of hugging and crying going on. It was super sweet. :)

Brickfair is always pretty overwhelming! It was really large and there were so many people! One of the rooms had all the lego models on display. These are not sets you can buy, but models people created on their own just using lego pieces. They were truly amazing! i'm sharing a couple of my favorites.  There was also an area for venders with Lego sets, mini figures and custom pieces for sale. They had bingo going on all day. It was free to play, and you could win lego sets if you were lucky.  In a second room there were more displays, bounces houses and lego vending machines, an area for kids to build legos and a snack bar.. 

 The Harry Potter Quidditch pitch was my favorite. The details are unbelievable. Harry and Malfoy are both on broomsticks in the field. You can see Snape, Hagrid, Dumbledore etc up in the stands. i could have stood there all day looking at all the details and finding different mini-figures we recognized.

i'm normally the one to take pictures, but my son really wanted to take the photos this time so i (reluctantly) gave him my camera. i ended up with about 400 slightly blurry pictures to sort through. :) He did get a few good ones though.

There were tardises everywhere! It was fun to see a tardis in almost every display. This one was especially clever,  if you peek inside the door you'll see it really is bigger on the inside. 

One of my favorite things is the 2-d art. Some of the pieces were so amazing, and to think they were all done with legos. Just crazy. This was my favorite.

There was a  crane machine that was really fun and one of my favorite parts of brickfair. It would actually pick up scoops of legos! It was .25 to play or 6 scoops for $1. They had ziplock baggies there so you could collect your legos.  We had to wait in a long line to try it, but it was so much fun! You really ended up with a lot of legos for your dollar!  We are already planning to go back next year, and i'm going to save my dollars for the crane machine. tee hee. So fun.

This was our last real hurrah before school starts again. We already have one back to school night done and one more to go. Then we head back to school Thursday. i'm so not ready. 

We really enjoyed the Brickfair, and plan to make it an annual back to school trip.