Friday, February 23, 2018

**REVIEW** Hirt's Gardens via

My budget is about as bad as my emotions sometimes are. Broke and depressed, I have found that houseplants are the cheapest way to beat the blues and decorate a home. I've already told you all about this though. Since I haven't been driving, it's best that I do what I can online. Or maybe not.

Walmart's Garden Center had beautiful and affordable plants when I was there a couple of weeks ago. I had to look at the budget and pay some bills first so I only just now got one for $13, but I'll get back to that later.

My photo does no justice!

When I saw online that there were a Cordyline and some other plants that I could actually afford (even including the shipping), so I ordered them and waited anxiously for their arrival. The shipping time was shorter than estimated. That's one good thing at least. The problem is, the plants were MUCH smaller than I thought they would be. They all - all FIVE - came in a box smaller than the one I once got a coffee pot in!

Okay now, let's play the ol' what-I-ordered-and-what-got game...

What I ordered...
Hirt's House Plant Collection

..and what I got

As you can see, that snake plant is a hearty little thing. It's the one I've been advising my friends to get if they have trouble keeping houseplants alive.

What I ordered...

Peace Lily Plant - Spathiphyllum

..and what I got

Okay, this one didn't come out so bad; it just wasn't as lush as the product photo represented.

 What I ordered...

Chinese Green Ti Plant - Cordyline 

...What I got

How sad is this?!


I think the cordyline was the biggest disappointment. It wasn't the size (I didn't expect a huge one), but that poor thing was all kinds of beat up! It's been about a week now and I'm slowly getting her to perk up. I was sick in bed myself the past day and a half so I checked on her this morning to see how she was doing. Thank goodness she's starting to look a bit healthier.

That's what happens, I guess when you order certain things online. And this is what happens when you go in and actually look at stuff in person...

Again, my camera kind of sucks!
 There were only three of them left. I guess I wasn't the only customer shocked to see such a great price on such a beautiful plant. I don't even want to think about what this would have cost me in Anchorage. Okay, I will guess at a low estimate of $30 maybe? I'll have to see if one of the nieces can run over and do a price check for me.

My camera does not show the full beauty of those colors. I do think the Walmart folk were over-watering her because her leaves have some browning and are brittle in a couple of places. At any rate, I love the plant. On my worst days, I will go lay in the living room just to look at all the plants and this cordyline is extra special. They should place these plants around patient areas in hospitals, seriously.

By the way, I don't see the brand of Hirt's Gardens on the large cordyline. Hmmm... This is what she looks like next to her mini-me:

Big sister, little sister

Now, I don't want to bash Hirt's because I'm sure they do the best they can to carefully package the plants for shipping. I kind of want to put the blame on the carrier. I could tell when I unpacked the plants that the box had gotten knocked around - and Hirt's had boldly labeled it as holding LIVE PLANTS. C'mon now people.

Anyway, I wanted to do this post for anyone else who may have thought of ordering plants online - from any seller, not just Hirt's.

Soon as I'm feeling better, I will do another post on the plants I've collected (yes, another one!). Meantime, I'll leave you with something I recently saw on Pinterest: don't stop be-leafing.


Wednesday, February 21, 2018

**REVIEW** Cossac Planner/Agenda

With so many phone apps, it's a wonder we need anything like calendars or planners. I love phone apps for most things but not for calendars. I have more trouble using phone and email calendars than I should! Certain things are just in the See-Hold-Feel category.

I think a lot of folks must agree with me because when I posted this on Instagram the other day, quite a few of my friends wanted to know more. I don't blame them.

That is a planner/agenda from Cossac. I hate calling it a planner because it's actually so much more. At first sight, I didn't like it. I didn't understand it. Ten minutes later (after reading over the enclosed instructions and checking the Cossac site), I was in love.

Most planners seem to be made to fit certain lifestyles. Usually, they are designed around people who work "regular" jobs. This one is perfect no matter what your day consists of. It's one of the first planners I've seen that someone could use - and I mean really use - whether they are a stay-at-home parent, working parent, student, or conventional employee. The whole idea behind this planner is to help you stay on track with whatever you are doing. For me, with my poor memory and organizing skills, this is just what I need. I can keep up with health appointments, medications, daily life hassles and commitments. Most important, it's going to be wonderful for helping me get on track and stay on track with writing projects.

Love this part!

If you feel overwhelmed by all that you have to do, or if you just want to be more focused or keep a record of goals and progress, this is an awesome planner. I am not exaggerating even a little bit.

This planner uses the organizing concept of general-to-specific.

When I did the review for this on Amazon, I tried to highlight some of my favorite features, so I'll run through them here:
  • The layout is structured so that the user can focus more on primary goals in a 6-month period - month by month; week by week; and/or day by day. I will probably use the monthly pages for medical appointments just to glance at. What I will use most are the weekly and daily pages for my writing projects. 
  • The paper is good quality for writing and not having a pen bleed through. (I am using a pencil in mine because I want to re-use!).
  • The hardcover binder has a really nice texture that I can only describe and "creamy" smooth. Best of all is that you can flatten the planner without damaging the binder because of the way it's made. 
  • I've already mentioned that this planner doesn't assume anything about the user; it's set up to work for every kind of occupation or lifestyle.
  • The planner is most helpful for keeping a user from getting overwhelmed with whatever they are busy with. Everything is set up as in a flow of review backward and plan forward. That's what will help me most at the end of the day - to see what I've done (or should have) and plan for the next day.
  • I love the way the Daily view is set up. It's constant reinforcement of what you "aim for" that day; what the general priorities are; more detailed "schedule/tasks"; a place to jot notes and ideas; then the review for the day. 
Pretty cool, yeah?

There are a couple of features I don't think I will even pay much attention to. There is a small space at the top of the Daily pages called a "Habit Tracker":

I guess that would be great for me to track my water-drinking habit but, nah, I don't dig that part so much. It could be great for someone who can use it, but I will be busy tracking appointment and writing projects.

There you have it. For better photos, go on over to the Amazon product page.

-- Free

DISCLAIMER: I received the product featured in the post either for free or at a discount, but not for writing this blog post.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

**REVIEW** Covery USB C Adapter (for cellphones)

Don't you hate when you upgrade your cell phone and realize you now also have to upgrade all your charging cords? That happened to me last year with my Samsung. I have used some kind of Galaxy phone for the past several years and I had collected all kinds of cords - long ones, short ones; plastic-and fabric-covered ones. Understand that when I get a phone, I keep and use it until it burns out. No running out and replacing it with the newer, flashier models just because. No suh. Can't afford it. Can barely afford a phone in the first place.

Yeah, yeah, I'm going to get to the review. Give me a second to vent first.

I had all these cords that fit the Note 4 (and most Galaxy phones, I think) but ended up having to trade up for the S8. Guess what? Samsung went and changed the USB ports. The old cords worked for my old tablet but not for the phone. I had probably 10 or more of the old cords and just the one for the new phone. Maybe I'm lying; there might have been two new cords that came with the S8. I don't remember.

This is where these Covery USB C adaptors come in. What a lifesaver.

No need to toss all my old cords and buy new ones. Thank goodness!

Okay, my photos suck so let's look at theirs.

These are nice, neat little things that you can (as you see in the photos) clip to your wallet, purse, or backpack. I still worry about losing one so I just keep one in the zip pocket of my purse.

I am telling you that these are so much easier (and cheaper) to get than it is to buy all new cables. I already had good cables of various lengths that I like and didn't want to have to start a new collection. If I go somewhere and take both my tablet and my phone, I only need the one cable since I can switch the USB with the adapter. Perfect.

At the time that I tested these for review, they were around $7 for the 4-pack. Four of these is plenty even if there are two of you in a household. I only needed one for my phone, but I keep the spares in different places around the apartment


Monday, February 12, 2018

Check Out the New Blog "Wait. What?"

I have a new blog where I share posts about all the conspiracy theories I keep up with. There are only a couple of posts so far: one about the music of the sixties and seventies (come on, people, now), and another about the Jabbawockeez and my fears that they might be part of the brainwashing machine that is screwing up all my entertainment.

Down the road (maybe right around the corner), I plan to do some YouTube videos to embed on the blog.

Some future topics I'm going to be covering are to do with the whole "hollow earth" theory, angels and demons among us, and some of the interesting folk I follow via their YouTube, blogs, and podcasts.

Make sure to go over and check out Wait. What? (or You See That Too) and let me know what you think.


"I'm not a conspiracy theorist - I'm a conspiracy analyst." (Gore Vidal)

Sunday, February 11, 2018

**REVIEW** Magnesium Oil from Dead Sea (from Livana)

After seeing my doctor this last time, I've added a couple of things to my natural health care arsenal. Magnesium oil spray is what I'm reviewing today. I will review the trace minerals tomorrow.

This is not the first time I've tried a magnesium oil spray. I tried a couple in 2016 and reviewed one of those oils. That one was part of a review and I used it until it ran out just before moving here to Iowa. I hadn't had a chance to try it again because it was no longer available. Back then, I was combining the oil use with changes in my eating habits so I saw good effects.

These days, my fatigue is worse and I have been having those "tired but wired" insomnia problems again. My doctor suggested melatonin tablets, but I remembered the magnesium oil. While looking through the choices, I saw that this one had good reviews and was priced so I could afford it. I consider it a part of my healthcare expenses. Also, I was attracted by the fact that the source is the Dead Sea.

their photo was better than the one I took!

 What I noticed when looking through all the magnesium oil choices is that there are 2 sources for magnesium chloride that are most popular: the Dead Sea or the Zechstein Seabed. This is because they are both "ancient seabeds" and I guess that's kind of a big deal when it comes to the minerals and nutrients. Makes sense to me and, of course, I want to try an oil sourced from Zechstein (and it was actually priced better but for a larger size). For now, I am happy with this $8 bottle that I could get right away.

The one thing that annoyed me was that, when I opened my package, the bottle was damp and had leaked out some of this precious oil. For now, though, let me give you the highlights of my experience with this product. And, trust me, when I say that there are differences between brands. The other oils I tried were good but this one is powerful good (as my Big Mama might have said).

It NOT an "oil"

Yeah. Magnesium oil is more like water. There is zero oiliness to the stuff. Because my bottle leaked, this is what the spillage looked like on my hand:

Look like I been eating powdered donuts!

This is why when I used it at bedtime, I followed it up with some coconut oil. 

You need to be careful when applying this product because if not, most of it will roll right off. Think of spraying water onto the skin, right? I like to spray my throat then quickly rub it in before it has a chance to drip.

Ingredients in this one

The other oils I tried had magnesium chloride and water. This one has Magnesium Chloride, Purified Water, and Dead Sea Salt. I'm sure it's the salt that left the ashy residue on my hand. I am curious about the salt being useful for my psoriasis (and other skin ailments). I might have to ask the doctors about that and try it. If you think you want to try some Dead Sea salt products, you can check out many brands. I found this one site that looks interesting (and affordable). This brand is also Amazon-available.

It put me right into Sleep Mode

Once again, not all oils are created equal. The other oils I've used did help me sleep a lot better. A lot. I would spray my armpits (I will tell you why in a moment), my hair, my stomach. I would go spray crazy! When I used this before bedtime last night, I was thinking of those other oils and (thinking that I was holding back to make this last until I can get a bigger bottle) I spritzed my throat just twice. Within about 5 minutes, I was getting droopy eyed. 10 minutes and I was done. 

I don't know what would have happened if I had sprayed on any more of this oil. Probably I'd still be asleep right now. I've rarely taken anything but OTC sleeping pills but I did have an Ambien or something when I was hospitalized and I hated the drunk way it made me feel. I only slept well for a few hours before I was restless again, and I remember feeling very hungover the next day.

Here's the thing with this oil: I did not feel groggy at all this morning. Not a bit. Matter of fact, I felt better upon waking than I have for a while. I guess that's what getting a good night's rest does for a body. I slept deep until I'd say around 1:30/2:00 when I had to get up to do a bathroom and water run. Usually, I have trouble getting back to sleep if I get up like that. Not last night.

I can't wait to let my doctor know how great this worked for my sleep.

Daytime use is tricky

I think I mentioned in the previous reviews that magnesium oil is supposed to help relieve anxiety. This particular brand oil is too strong for me to test it undiluted during the daytime. When I got that residue on my hands opening the package, I washed my hands because of the ashy look. Good thing.

For daytime use (stress, anxiety, you know - me being me), I figured I'd better be on the safe side and cut this oil with... some oil. 

Had to slap a label on this one

This bottle is labeled as 1/3 ounce. I spritzed in a couple sprays of magnesium and filled the rest of the bottle with jojoba oil. I think any kind of oil will do; I just happened to have jojoba on hand. I've rolled on some a few times today and it's been okay but I think I need to add more magnesium to the mix.

Now I don't know if my body will get used to this and the effects will start to lessen. I will have to let you know about that.

This is a natural deodorant

If you type in "magnesium oil deodorant", you'll get slammed with sites offering up DIY recipes, benefits, and folks' stories about how it changed their lives. When I used the other brands before this one, I just sprayed the stuff right on my pits. It did work, but I don't think I can use this one the same way. Like I said, I'd probably go right into a cold doze before I could do anything to work up a sweat. That said, I do plan to try dabbing a little under my arms. I can't use it at my regular nighttime application because I don't want to put oil under my arms. 

Like I said, I can't wait to tell my doctor about this stuff. She digs natural products so maybe some of her other patients would be interested in using this over melatonin for sleep.

I'll update this post if I need to. For now, I'm happy.


Monday, February 05, 2018

Plant Life & Plant Love

Those of you who have even sporadically followed this blog know that I deal with health issues - both physical and emotional. I've been working hard on the physical stuff by upping my nutrition and exercise game, but it didn't have much effect on my mental health. Then I got a plant. Not just any plant. This beautiful (and cheap) beauty here.

She's a moth orchid - or, more formally, a Phalaenopsis (praise copy/paste!). I found her at Walmart and she only cost $10. Perfect.

Who knew what a boost this would be to my emotional health! Also, notice that she really does kind of resemble a moth if you look close and hard.

I still struggle with keeping depression at bay and I'm dealing with the constant fatigue and some anxiety but... Oh, my goodness, how this plant brightens even my worst days.The only problem I can see with having a living plant is that there are days when I might be bringing it down! Poor plant is probably struggling with its own emotional health. I think she's okay though (and, yes, I think of it as a 'she') because she's rebloomed once already after losing her first petals at the start of the cold weather season.

When I noticed her petals falling away, I remember thinking that she was dead. Then I realized her leaves were still so beautiful and healthy. Thanks to a site called Just Add Ice, I learned how to nurse my plant back into the reblooming stage.

Now, understand that I not only physically have a melanin-rich thumb, I have the proverbial brown thumb like you wouldn't believe. My mother could bring a plant back from the dead and once grew a plant from a freaking potato. My sister was great with plants and three years after her passing, my niece still has her surviving ivy, ferns, and plants we don't know the names of. Me? I once killed a cactus. True story.

When I managed to get my orchid to rebloom, I almost couldn't believe my eyes. It happened really fast. I was able to track the reblooming with date-stamped photos I took with my cell phone.

I'm pretty sure that I got her at the end of August 2017 and she was pretty bloomed up then:

Slowly, she began losing blooms...

... until she was bare. This was her on December 18th:

Gorgeous leaves tho!

Notice that those leaves are still gawgeous tho! I followed the advice I found on Just Add Ice and used some love and Miracle Grow a few times a week.

 The leaves stayed healthy but there were just some little nibs where the old blooms had been. Then about 5 weeks later, she began showing up and showing out:

I was pretty pleased! Of course, there are a couple more buds that haven't opened yet, but someone advised me that that is normal. They also suggested that I move her to a bigger planter. I have one for her but I'm scared to move her. Things have been going so well that I don't want to irritate the gorgeous thing.

While I was posting and telling all my friends about my plant, I saw that one of my neighbors had one outside her door the other week. First of all, how cute is that snail planter? Second, look at those blooms! I ranted and raved and even shared photos of this plant before my neighbor informed me that it's a really good fake. The leaves feel so real! 

FAKE! (But a great fake)

 I was kind of selfishly happy that such a perfect plant was artificial. Ha! My plant is real and thriving. The orchid has done so well that I got this other plant that I saw on sale this week:

This one is labeled as being the "world's longest blooming plant". It's called an anthurium and is also called the "flamingo flower". I love that and I just adore the colors. She and the orchid look good together and they use the same type of care - ice and indirect sunlight and moderate to warm temps. 

. They both bring me so much joy. There's a sense of nurturing that I've missed the past few months. Also, plants are the cheapest kind of decoration for a living space. I can literally sit for an hour, just looking at these plants and contemplating what an amazing world the Lord prepared for us here.

So, if you are feeling a little down, get a plant. If you don't want to take care of one, get a fake one since there are apparently some great fakes out there!


Saturday, February 03, 2018

**REVIEW** Book of the Month (BOTM) Club

Remember the Book of the Month Club? You know, back before Audible got to be so popular? Yes, well, I checked it out recently and I'm not such a fan.

I open and close my Audible account like a crazy girlfriend who is in one of those love-hate relationships. It's all based on finances and health. If I'm broke but having a decent few weeks of health, I shut my account down. Then I'll get sick and stuck in bed for several days and need Audible to hold and comfort me until I'm feeling better.

The other day, I was stuck in bed again and started thinking it would be nice to hold an actual copy of a book and read myself past the icks. So I signed up for the Book of the Month Club. I had immediate regrets.

First of all, what the hell is up with that Satanic-looking logo?

I'm putting a spell on you!

Okay, I'm just being silly with that one. Kind of. That is some weird-looking symbolism though. Makes me want to wrap myself in tin foil and douse myself with some holy water. Ugh.

Getting past all that, my real problem with BOTM is that you can't just go in a choose a book from a large selection. Matter of fact, you can't go in and choose a book at all until someone says "Go!" (Why didn't I read the FAQs first?)

Because I subscribed near the end of a month, I was told that I had to wait for the next month's selections before I could choose a book.

Strike One.

They sure didn't wait until the next month to charge my debit card. So, what? I was stiffed out of that month's book? I decided to wait and ask about that later. I was still sick and didn't have the energy to email a nasty letter right then.

The next week I get a notice that now I can choose a book from that month's selections. Soon as I can, I go over to pick out a book. I see 5 books lined up to choose from. FIVE. Just five. This is what's printed on the selection page:
We love these five books, and think you will too. Choose your favorite today.

Strike Two.

Here's the thing: I don't care what books someone else might "love". Really, I don't. (And, by the by, I didn't like any of the five books that these other folks were so in "love" with.) I thought that I was going to get to pick a book from a wide selection of books. Apparently, I was wrong.

Members aren't limited to choosing from those featured 5 books (thank goodness, because those all sucked), but when I checked out the wider selection of "Extra Books", I discovered the selection wasn't that wide. Also, I wasn't thrilled by what I saw.

Okay, well, different strokes, right? Apparently, there are some people who like the BOTM thing. Good for them. It's not for me so I decided to cancel my unused membership. And... of course, that is never made easy.

Strike Three.

I had to hunt through the FAQs (which I was obviously reading for the first time) to learn that I had to email or call BOTM to cancel a membership. Fine. I shot off a quick email. This is the response I received.
Hi Trudy!
Thanks for contacting us. Since it’s the beginning of the month, we’re responding to a large number of excited customers, so it may take us a few days to get back to you. Rest assured, we’ll be in touch soon to address any issues you may have!
If you’re having an issue with your box and need immediate assistance, please call us at : 1-877-236-8540. We’re open Monday–Friday, 8 a.m.– 6 p.m. EST.
Oh no no no they di'int! (I sent a follow-up email basically telling them to get my refund processed as fast as they processed the withdrawal.)

Yeah. So. I learned my lesson. No more BOTM for me. I'm still looking for membership in a club that will allow me to choose actual books to populate my bookshelf. I don't need a BOTM that limits my selections or tries to sell me "swag" ($20 book totes with cheesy sayings printed on them or something called "Sunday Socks" for  $10). I just want to buy a book every now and then.

I guess I will just put my Prime membership to use or see what Barnes and Noble has to offer. For now, I have to go and make up with Audible again. Our relationship needs work but we've got a good history.