Sunday, February 25, 2018

Compact Air-Filled Sleeping Pad (Review)

One of my last non-homeschool-related reviews had to do with road-trips to my daughter's college and sleeping in her dorm, and so does this next one... :)

When hiking up three flights of stairs it's nice to be able to carry as little as possible, and when sleeping on a dorm floor it's nice to have some extra padding... so I was very interested to try out the Ultralight Sleeping Pad by VENTURE 4TH on my last trip.

There were a couple of features that I was particularly pleased with~

  • The size and weight~ it only added a pound to my load up the stairs, which really isn't much at all, and it packs down really small also~ 8"x5"x2"... so much more compact than a yoga mat or a traditional air mattress. For size perspective that is an iPad2 and a quarter... 
  • The amount of time and "air" it took to inflate. Due to the unique cell channel design and the strong, but lightweight material, it really did take only 12-16 breaths of air to inflate the mattress. No air pump or natural breeze required! 
When I first opened the package at home, and tested it out on my living room rug I figured I would try to mimic some of the great outdoors by placing a LEGO figure or two under the pad to serve as "stones." Amazingly enough, I couldn't feel them AT ALL! Wow! My Middlest son is going to appreciate this when we go camping...
*Note, when I first inflated it there was an area that didn't fill up with air. However, the second time I inflated it it was fine, it just needed to be loosened up.

It isn't a "soft cushy" pad, but rather has firm support that will smooth out annoying bumps from small rocks and stones.

I only had a couple of suggestions that would make this a better product in my opinion.

  • If the fabric could be "flocked" (which hopefully wouldn't add much weight) it would be just a smidge less slippery. It wasn't terrible by any means, but sippery sleeping bags, and a pad without any grippy texture at all meant a little more sliding around (and slippery sound) than is optimal. 
  • For non-hammock/non-tent-with-minimal-floor-space sleeping, I found the pad to be not quite wide enough for my legs that like to sprawl. However, for campong/backpacking purposes it is actually probably just right, so take that suggestion with a grain of salt, maybe? 
All in all, I think this is a fabulous product for hiking/backpacking, camping, and even having a space free of stones and pebbles at a park or outdoor event. Convenient, compact, and easily inflated.

(Actually received at a discount, not free ;) )

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Heirloom Audio Productions: Wulf the Saxon (Audio Adventure Review)


Heirloom Audio Productions, as you should know by now if you've read my blog for any length of time, puts out an incredibly high-quality series of Audio Dramas utilizing the works of G. A. Henty. In the past, my Middlest has been the main audience for these CD's, but this time around I brought along the newest offering, Wulf the Saxon Audio CD, with me to keep me company on one of my 7+ hour road trips to pick up my Eldest from college.

The actors are all highly regarded in their field on stage and screen, including Brian Blessed (Star Wars, Tarzan, King Lear), Chris Larkin (Master and Commander, Valkyrie), Helen George (Call the Midwife), Jack Farthing (Poldark), Sian Phillips (I, Claudius), and Patrick Godfrey (Les Miserables, Ever After). The Soundtrack Score by Emmy Award Winning Composer John Campbell only adds to the compelling telling of a heroic tale of bravery and honor as we meet Wulf the Saxon. 

The two and a half hours I spent listening to this story sped by rapidly, as I journeyed through England and France while driving through New Jersey and Pennsylvania. This tale of battle and bravery will likely be long connected with the hills and folds of the land I traveled, as I imagined them taking place where I drove.

I don't know how your High Medieval British history is, but mine always does better with a little brush-up of "story" to help me hang my hat on some of the details, and if that works for me, I'm thinking it works for our kids as well. My main brush with a timeline of English facts dates back to my high school English Composition class, which really was a History of England class, disguised as a literature class (our final was to fill out a timeline, and it wasn't all literary...), so I appreciate when I have the opportunity to add facts that will help my memory.

This story follows the adventures of Wulf, a young Saxon landowner, as he learns to care for his land, his people, and his country. It highlights the relationships of the warring English amongst themselves and also to the Normans. There were those within each country as well as across borders that were friendly and others which were treacherous.

Wulf grows from a cheeky young lad in the care of a lord to a young man who has learned respect and gained respect. He shows courage, ingenuity, and faithfulness to friends both new and old as he navigates the murky waters of Saxon and Norman tensions.

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this well produced historical fiction account, and the next time someone mentions The Battle of Hastings I might even remember in what century it took place ("story" is the key!). I will note that for those with "sensitive" children, as with all Henty books, there is some form of "violent" adventure that takes place, in this case the sounds of battle, so use some discretion with the recommended age of 6+.

I will also note that in the past we have been given access to Heirloom Productions Study guides and ebooks, but this time we were sent only the physical CD. In my last review of Captain Bayley's Heir, we were given access to the new Live the Adventure Club Website, and you can check that review out to see more details. I can tell you that the Live the Adventure Club includes all the bonus materials you need to expand this two and a half hour CD set into a Unit Study for multiple ages.

Not So Nutty Nitty Gritty 
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Thursday, February 15, 2018

Swagbucks... earn Amazon Gift Cards for Real!

Even though Valentine's Day is over, you can still "Share the Love," AND get an extra boost to your budget in February.

If you haven't tried Swagbucks before, you can get a bonus $3 for signing up as my referral this month. If you're a frequent reader, you already know that Swagbucks is a rewards site where you earn points (called SB) for things you're probably doing online already, like searching, watching videos, discovering deals, and taking surveys. Then you take those points and exchange them for gift cards to places like Amazon, Starbucks, Walmart, Target, or PayPal cash. (Personally, I go for Amazon Gift Cards most of the time, which helps me stretch my gift-giving budget throughout the year!)                        

When you sign up through me this month, you can earn a $3 bonus! Here's how:               1. Sign up using this link                        
2. Earn 300 SB total before 3/1/18. You'll get a $3 (300 SB) bonus for it!                           3. If you want even more bonuses, you'll get a $10 (1000 SB rebate) bonus for making your first shop purchase! That's in addition to the SB you earn for every dollar you spend.    
That's it. It's super easy, and Swagbucks is for real. I use it myself, and last year, pretty much just using Swagbucks for searching, I earned $60 in Amazon Gift cards... which may not seem like much, but for our family it's a huge help.

If you use the search function at all, try Swagbucks instead, and earn some Swagbucks!


Wednesday, February 7, 2018

What's for Dinner Wednesday? A MacGyver Meal of course!

Had to write down what I did for this one, so I would remember... in case I want to make it somewhat on purpose next time... ;) and figured I'd share with you all as well. :) 

I almost always start any main meal with an onion, but I had no onion, so I chopped and sauteed... 
·               The last few stalks of a couple of celery hearts, including the leafy greens of the very inside ones.
·               And  one orange pepper

·               3 small garlic cloves and sauteed them for a bit

Added what was left of
·               1 carton of chicken stock in the fridge, and
·               1 carton of beef broth

Used one of my Christmas presents (a Kitchenaid Immersion Blender) to whip up those veggies so they wouldn't bother anyone.  

Brought it to a boil and added
·               Two peeled, medium, chopped potatoes
·               Two peeled, large, chopped carrots
·               One bag of Ancient Grains (Bulgur and Quinoa) from Aldi
·               1 can of pumpkin puree
·               Some Orgininal Mrs. Dash Seasoning (1 tsp?) and
·               Sage  (1/2 tsp?) on its own for good measure
·               Pepper to taste

Brought to a boil again, and covered it, letting it simmer for 15 minutes

Added in
·               What we had leftover from a deli-roasted chicken (about 1 cup)
·               The end of a bag of  frozen corn (1/4 cup?)
·               About ½ cup of frozen French sliced green beans

Put the lid on and let that cook for another 5 minutes or so.
Served with
·               A dollop of sour cream
·               A sprinkling of Pepitas (roasted Pumpkin seeds)

The verdict here was thumbs up! :) 
If you make this let me know what you think ~ I'd love to hear how it works out for you.
The only other thing that I would suggest, is that those who want a little spice add a little Siracha, but other than that, I was pretty happy with it. ;) 




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