DIY Self Watering Water Bottle Seed Starters

Friday, November 21, 2014

When you start seeds, the soil needs to remain moist at all times. But you shouldn't water from the top because it increases the risk of "damping off" and also displaces the little seedlings that are not firmly rooted.

Here's a quick and easy solution (albeit an ugly one...at least in the following example.)
I have cilantro growing in these water bottles.  They are easy to make - just cut a bottle in half, cut a hole in the cap or cut holes into the top if the top will make contact with the water.

Put an absorbent wicking material into the soil and extend it into the water (I used yard. Hot pink works best *kidding*) Then add moist soil to the top half of the bottle and water in the bottom.

The soil will drain into the bottom if it is too damp and will wick up water from the bottom if is to dry.

The soil will stay wet enough on it's own. When you need to add water to the system, just lift up the top portion and add water to the bottom. Easy.

Mine are "dirty" because I had way too much water in the soil at the onset and as the water drained through the soil into the water below. No biggie. Just a little ugly.

You can also use bigger bottles and/or cut them better than I did. Mine look horrible, but these are my first attempt. I was practicing with used water bottles but will save bigger bottles (preferably ones that are large enough that more of the top can fit into the water) for my main seed starts this spring.

I am growing cilantro in these containers because cilantro is a great test of the system. It takes forever to germinate (more than a week!) so it's the ultimate test of keeping soil moist.

I am happy to say that the cilantro finally germinated and the soil stayed damp. I only had to refill the bottom of the bottles once per week.

My windows provide almost no UV light, so I am anxious to see if they will survive and be able to transplant into larger pots. Either way, the system seems to work as it should and I will be using these for some of my larger seedlings this spring.

How to keep seedlings from getting leggy and reaching toward the sun without using grow lights or electricity

When you plant seeds without adequate light, they inevitably become leggy and stretch themselves toward the light source. The solution is of course to use artificial lighting, but that is not self-sustainable (or cost effective!)

I may have come up with an easy solution.

Tin foil! It works as a reflector to bounce the light back onto the plants. I popped off the top of my solar oven to use as a reflector for my plants. My houseplants always look pretty sorry because we have argon filled windows and that blocks up to 99% of the sun's UV rays.

With only 1% of the suns UV getting through, it's a miracle anything grows at all. Since I need to start seeds in the house and want to do it without using electricity, I am relying on the reflector to enhance the small UV exposure we do receive. I'll also be using a mini greenhouse outside and winter sowing a few plants, so between all 3 options, I am hoping we can effectively grow plants.

If you have non-argon windows, then the reflector should help by leaps and bounds and allow you to effectively window garden.  Let me know how it works.

Are Siberian Cats Hypoallergenic? Results after 4 years living with a Siberian Cat.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Four and a half years ago, we adopted a Siberian kitten. We bought her from an area breeder (you can read about the experience here.) My husband and son were severely allergic to cats (and dogs.)

We were most concerned about my son because he had basically lived on steroids and nebulizers since the age of 1 1/2. He had severe asthma, a peanut allergy, and allergies to pets.

But we were determined to make it work. Here is the plan we came up with: Living with a cat when you have allergies. The first few weeks were challenging. My husband and son both had reactions. They took antihistamines for a few days.

Then we tapered off the antihistamines and eventually things changed. Sort of. Today, my husband is still allergic to our cat, but he can live in our home and has no issues unless he spends a long time petting or holding her. If he visits homes that have non-siberian cats, he immediately gets red eyes and sneezy.

My son is no longer allergic to her at all. He has no symptoms and actually outgrew his asthma and peanut allergy. He is also less sensitive to other animals (though he does get red eyes and a "closed throat" when we visit grandparents that have 3 little dogs.)

When we have guests over, even allergic ones, they have no issues with our cat. Most allergic visitors avoid her, but she lives in every room of the house and her fur and dander is....everywhere. I have also eased up on the vacuuming. It may have helped in the beginning, but it's no longer necessary.

If I could pin point what helped the most in ridding my son of his allergy, I would guess the following:

1. Omega 3 vitamins
2. A decrease in processed foods consumed
3. Age - growing larger lungs etc
4. Desensitization through exposure (through the cat and through repeated peanut exposure with the intent to desensitize)
5. Siberian breed having a lower FelD1 levels
6. Luck

In the end, I would say that Siberian cats are LESS allergenic but probably not NON allergenic. Keep that in mind if you are considering bringing a cat home.



Power Tek Fire Talon Multi-tool Pocket Knife Review

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


Power Tek Fire Talon Multi-tool Pocket Knife 

Every one needs and emergency kit in their home and car. I just added the Power Tek Fire Talon Multi-tool pocket knife to mine. Now I'm thinking I might want a second one fro my purse....and my backpack....

I have multiple pocket knives and I carry a scissors, but this tool pretty much takes care of both of those items, plus has a built in flash light, bottle opener, screw drivers and pliers.

This is a heavy duty multi tool. I don't think it would break easily. It can be challenging to open without pinching yourself so be careful and practice with it a bit. 

My favorite thing about it is the pliers. They are big and strong and they line up with each other. I am fanatic about pliers and tweezers actually lining up and this is a quality set that you can use for real projects and emergencies.

I would highly recommend them as stocking stuffers this holiday season and for emergency kits of all kinds.
I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

AmbrosiaTM Apples Review

There's a new apple on the market! Actually, it's been around for 10 years, but I have yet to see it in my area stores. Luckily for me, a small crate of Ambrosia apples arrived on my doorstep and I had the chance to try them.

As an organic gardener, I am always open to trying to varieties and believe that widening our produce diversity is a good thing. Ambrosia apples add to the diversity of apples available. And best off all, they were bred by chance (by nature!) and not created in a laboratory or through a series of cross breeding.

So what are they like? Well, the apples that I received were huge! They were also a peachy blond, red, pink and yellow.  The apples were crisp and hard like a honeycrisp or gala. But they had a distinctly floral undertone. The apple was sweet and delicious and I would definitely buy them again.

I only had 4 apples to try, so I ate them all out of hand. I would love to try baking or saucing these apples. I could imagine they would make a very sweet pink applesauce. I'll have to look for them in the stores in order to get the chance.

It looks like they are currently growing in Washington, and it's possible they could pop up at nearby orchards. I'll be on the look out for them in the future and you should too.

*If you see them at your local market, leave me a comment. I'd like to find them in my area.

Disclosure: I received complimentary apples and compensation for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.



Lemon Zester Cheese Grater Review



I have become newly obsessed with preserving food. And lemon zest was high on my list of the products I wanted to dehydrate and jar for the winter. But zesting a bunch of rolling lemons with a peeler just isn't that much fun. Plus you end up with way more pith than you intended.

Enter the Lemon Zester Cheese Grater. It couldn't have arrived at a better time. I used it to zest up a bunch of meyer lemons and popped the zest into the dehydrator. I also used it to shave chocolate and to zest clementine oranges.

I plan on using it for nutmeg and hard cheese in the future. This zester is pretty much the perfect size to make the job easy. It's long, but that provides good leverage and strength. I imagine it will last for years with regular use.

My favorite part about the zester is the plastic shield that covers the blades. I can safely store the zester in the drawer without fear that my children or husband will accidentally cut their hands. The shield snaps on easily and perfectly and is a brilliant touch to make this zester stand out among the crowd.
I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

2.5% Retinol Moisturizer Review



I made a mistake when I took a break from using retinol creams. About a year ago, I decided to use only all natural products and stop buying creams at the drugstore. I noticed some quality changes to my skin, but one horrible side effect erupted. Acne.

Retinols had kept my acne at bay for years and stopping them was a big mistake. But honestly, in order to get an semi-decent percentage of retinol in the products I bought I had to pay exorbitant prices and the products were filled with "other" ingredients.

In my battle to repair the ravages of acne, I came across Body Merry 2.5% Retinol Moisturizer. 

This moisturizer has retinol at a strength of 2.5% (2 1/2 times the amount of retinol as the standard 1% strength found in most retinol creams and is the strongest percentage available without a prescription.) It is also free of parabens, sulphates, and phthalates. And they do not test on animals.

A higher percentage means I can use less of the product and the 3.4oz size means it will stretch a lot further. Since I am just getting used to retinol again, I am glad it's almost winter! The sun and retinol are a dangerous mix.

This is a moisturizer so in addition to the benefits of retinol, this product hydrates and plumps your skin. So far, I am quite happy with it and I would recommend it to others.
I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Bio'Sensiya Rejuvenating MultiVitamin Night Time Serum, with A.B.C.D.E Vitamins, Hyaluronic & Ferulic acid Review


Bio'Sensiya Rejuvenating MultiVitamin Night Time Serum, with A.B.C.D.E Vitamins, Hyaluronic & Ferulic acid 

Almost 20 years ago, I came across a serum that was loaded with vitamins. It did wonders for my complexion and I used it every single day. Then after 6 or 7 years, the company discontinued it and I had been on the hunt ever since. 

There is something amazing about high vitamin serums. My skin just craved it and drank it in as soon as I applied it. My skin was so much more radiant and alive when I "fed it" vitamins.

So I was so happy to try be able to try Bio'Sensiya Rejuvenating MultiVitamin Night Time Serum, with A.B.C.D.E Vitamins, Hyaluronic & Ferulic acid. 

This product is the closest I have found to the multivitamin product I used decades ago. If you have sensitive skin, this product contains 1.5% Vitamin A (retinol) so it will be less harsh than a full strength retinol product.

So far, I am enjoying the serum. It goes on well and I have noticed a brightness in my skin tone. This is a great "everything" serum and I have enjoyed using it. I hope it will stay in production by the time my daughter hits her teen years because this is the product I would recommend for her.

I would also recommend it for older women, but some of us are at the stage where our skin requires higher retinol percentages. This is a great "every day" product and something that would be useful when you want to give your skin a break from high retinol use. And as mentioned previously, this would be fantastic for teen and young twenties to prevent damage and keep their young skin healthy and youthful.
I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Dr Song Professional Teeth Whitening Kit 44% Carbamide Peroxide Review



People comment on my teeth all the time.... Not because their beautiful, but because they are white. Noticeably white. That's all thanks to carbamide peroxide.

I first whitened my teeth with a kit from my dentist 16 years ago. The kit contained carbamide peroxide and that one kit created white teeth that lasted 15+ years. I do touch up every 2 or 3 years for about an hour, but that's it.

The secret is not in going to the dentist, but in the carbamide peroxide. Unfortunately, it's hard to find carbamide peroxide in a "dentist strength" concentration. Until now.

The Dr Song Professional Teeth Whitening Kit contains 44% Carbamide Peroxide. It also contains a blue light and moldable trays.

To be honest, the trays kind of stink. They are easy enough to mold but the molding is not very precise. This is the only advantage to going to the dentist for whitening products. They will create a very accurate (and expensive) mold of your teeth that will last for years. I still have mine and it still fits perfectly.

These molds can not give you a perfect fit, but the dentist molds cost me almost $1000!!  The Dr. Song kit is less than $30 and comes with way more gel than my dentist kit came with.

So does it work as well as the dentist kits? How did I try it if I already have white teeth? Good question. I tried it on a family member that has never whitened his teeth. After 2 very short sessions, his teeth have improved dramatically. I am confident that after finishing the kit, his teeth will be brilliantly white. It's the same gel the dentists use and it really works.

We have not been using the blue light. I don't know if it works or not for whitening. I do know that the gel works without it and it's an extra step and I may or may not try it in the future. I also didn't use the paint brush. I think it's unnecessary.

I also should let you know that carbamide peroxide will make your teeth sensitive. It just does. It will go away over time and you can make it better faster by using a remineralization gel. Dr. Song sells one for under $10. If you tend to feel pain easily or are a sensitive person, then order the remineralization gel right along with the whitening gel. You'll probably get free shipping that way too.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

2.5% Retinol Serum Review


Retinol products can work wonders for your skin, but finding a quality product is imperative! Both the concentration and the delivery are important. I recently had the opportunity to review Body Merry 2.5% Retinol Serum

This formula does not contain parabens, sulphates, pthalates, fragrances or alcohol. As a bonus it is not tested on animals! 

That is all extremely important, but the best part about this serum is the results. I had went "all natural" with my skin and saw some amazing changes....but also  a return to acne. Yes, as an adult I have acne. Well, I don't have acne when I regularly use retinol products. But since I stopped, I saw it return with a vengeance.

I stopped the other products because of the quality. I was buying over the counter products that had little retinol for the price. And the other ingredients were questionable as well. 

Body Merry 2.5% Retinol serum contains a high percentage of retinol but also contains  plant derived hyaluronic acid and organic green tea. My skin has improved dramatically since using it (in the areas of acne and skin coloring.) 

It is easy to apply and absorbs readily into the skin. It  has not left my skin feeling dry or tight like some other retinol products. I think that's because of the HA. I am a fan and it's reasonably priced on Amazon, so I have the ability to reorder. I would recommend it. 

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.