Category Archives: Product reviews

Home and garden product recommendations from first hand experience.

Gardeners solution to dry hands

Working in garden soil sucks the moisture out of my hands. Frequent hand washing only dries my hands even more. I tried Udder Ointment to soothe the dryness. I like Dr. Hess Udder Ointment in the 4 ounce tube. I keep a tube in my garden tool box.

Owner Polly Tribe also sent a sample of the Udder Stick, a Lip Balm with SPF 15. I was happy indeed to discover the flavored lip balm in Original Vanilla, Mango, Pomegranate and Vanilla Mint. I think it lasts longer than the usual over the counter brand of lip balm I used to buy. The Udder Stick is my new everyday spf 15 lip balm.

The Great Grand Daughter, Polly Tribe now owns Dr Hess Products. Read the story of udder ointment on their website. Originally developed in 1893 for treating chapped teats and udders of dairy cattle, farmers were soon remarking as to the healing effect it had on their own hands.

I use Udder Ointment on my hands and feet at night before bed. Magic happens overnight.

Go to the website to learn where you get your hands on Dr Hess Products.

Dr. Hess Products, LLC, 23 N Scenic Hills Circle, North Salt Lake, UT 84054, Fax – 801.295.7313

Dairy farmers discovered this ointment helped their dry hands.

La Chamba Cookware

Handmade the same way for 700 years.

La Chamba cookware is handmade in Columbia from clay that contains mica which allows it to withstand heat. It can be used in the oven, microwave and on the stove top. I didn’t believe that, so I tried it myself.

ham and beans with fresh cilantro added before serving

I like this cookware because it’s pretty enough to go from the stove to the able as servingware. That keeps food hot and moist longer.


There are no toxins in the La Chamba because no glazes are used (the pieces are hand-burnished) and there is no lead in the clay. Care is easy: a quick soak and wipe down with a sponge is all that is needed.

New to me, La Chamba‘s origins can be traced back at least 700 years to the vases and pitchers found in pre-Columbian archaeological sites. It is still made in the traditional manner, by families in the village of La Chamba, on the banks of the Magdalena River in Central Colombia.

It’s not cheap, but it is beautiful and handmade. So, I plan to add a piece now and then to my collection.

La Chamba email

vegetable soup in La Chamba

Winter food at my house is a lot of slow cooked soups and stews. It’s rare that I serve a meal with out herbs.

Curly or Flat Leaf Parsley – which is better?


From Herb Combanion Blog

A Kitchen Garden essential

reseeded parsley

Volunteer parsley and chives are up and growing before other herbs.

I’m already thinking about spring. It’s time to order seeds and think about what I will grow in my home garden. One seed I know I will be ordering is parsley. Parsley seed is best started indoors and then planted in the herb garden. Although it is very slow to germinate, don’t give up; don’t be discouraged!

I grow both the curly and flat-leaved variety. They can be interchanged in most any recipe. However, dedicated Italian cooks will swear that flat-leaf parsley (or Italian parsley) is the very best.

Really, I use whichever is available (or which plants need a trim). When curley parsly leaves are small or young, they are milder and sweeter; the full parsley flavor comes as the plant matures. Its flavor intensifies even more after it is chopped for recipes.

1-6-2011-parsley stew
I use my La Chamba pottery to serve Braised Beef and Short Ribs with Parsley.
Photo by Patsy Bell Hobson

Parsley is an excellent source of vitamins A and C. In fact, a glass of parsley juice would have as much vitamin C as a glass of orange juice. Now, I’m not advocating that you give up your glass of morning sunshine—the idea is probably not a trend setter—but it might help you feel virtuous about eating your garnish.

Fresh herbs add sparkle to any recipe

If this is your first try at growing herbs from seed, don’t give up. Start seeds indoors to get a head start.

When you eventually transplant your parsley, also scatter a few seeds near the plant. The plant will serve as a marker to remind you when the seed does come up.

In addition to the volunteer parsley that comes up earlier than anything I sow, I am starting Italian ‘Gigante’ parsley from seed. I have always had great success with seed I order from Renee’s Garden. Find additional help and encouragement on the Renee’s website. There are some very creative and original recipes there too.

Spinach, Spring Green

Herb Companion Blog


Spinach Seeds for Your Spring Garden

Grow spinach this year for fresh salad greens. Photo by faria! Courtesy Flickr

I am growing a vegetable I used to hate: If your introduction to spinach was from a can

of that salty gray-green plant matter, you understand. Not even Popeye could change my mind.

In 2006, an Escherichia coli bacterium (E. coli) outbreak in spinach was followed by more food contamination incidents. In 2007 a company recalled bags of its spinach after finding salmonella during testing. And in 2010, spinach potentially contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes was recalled. Seed sales tell us that record numbers of people are purchasing vegetable seeds. More and more, we want to know where our food comes from. Food contamination is rarely a problem if the food comes from our own backyard. You can supplement a lot of family meals by growing spring greens, like spinach, beets, turnips and lettuce.

I’m growing spinach (Spinacia oleracea ‘Bloomsdale Long-Standing’) this spring. In fact, those first few leaves of these glossy greens never made it to the kitchen last year. I ate them in the garden. (They were that good.) A fan of heirlooms or not, this is a good spring greens choice that has been around for more than 100 years.

Bloomsdale heirloom spinach, a home garden favorite for over 100 years

For this cool-season crop, save a few seeds from your spring planting and sow again for a fall crop. Expect a heavy, continuous yield of thick-textured, glossy dark green leaves. If you grow lettuce, you can grow spinach; its soil and light requirements are similar. Greens are a cool-season crop that love full or partial sun. Put a few radishes in with the spinach to serve as row markers. Gardening Tip: Try a couple of spinach varieties to possibly extend the season and see which one grows best for you. It might not be the same choice every year.

‘Bloomsdale Long Standing’ spinach is slow-growing, slow to bolt and has better-than-average heat and drought resistance. It will usually grow a week or two longer than other spinach varieties. It grows more upright than most spinach, keeping the leaves cleaner or less gritty.

Try This: Let your kids or grandkids help you plant a container of salad greens. Spinach, served fresh in salads or cooked in quiches and souffles, is a delightfully different thing than canned spinach. It supplies vitamins A, C and the B-complex, calcium, and proteins. Try this easy Spinach Souffle Recipe from Burpee.

spinach quiche by Pille - Nami-nami Courtesy Flickr

If chives are up, use it in your spinach salad. I suggest that you use spikey chive leaves instead of green onions, or break apart blossoms and sprinkle the flower petals on the salad.

You can buy spinach seed, Spinacia oleracea ‘Bloomsdale Long-Standing’ from many seed sources. Mine is from Burpee Seed and I have always had good luck with their seeds.

Fiskars Indoors and Out

Bypass pruner

Where are your Fiskars? In the tool shed, sewing basket, crafts drawer, and in the office.


I had a light bulb moment today. At lunch with my scrap booking girlfriends, Fiskars craft tools came up. They were talking about crafting with Fiskers equipment like stamping tools, punches and paper trimmers they use in craft projects.

Who knew? I just thought Fiskars made some of the best garden tools I own. That is when we punched in Fiskars on our ipods.

“They make sewing stuff,” Liz said.

“I use those orange scissors all the time,” said Gail.

“I just thought they made these really cool paper punches.”

The Reel, Reinvented
(Momentum Reel Mower – Reviewed Spring 2011)

I have several pairs of Fiskars pruners in my garden tools box, all cleaned, ready and waiting for spring. There is also a Fiskars Momentum™ mower in the garage waiting to be tested with the first lawn mowing of 2011.

This is the reel thing.

I am looking forward to using the ergonomically designed mower that says it is much easier to handle, has StaySharp™ blades, and a greater cut range. Every Fiskars tool I’ve used so far has been easy to use and long lasting. But the Momentum™ is way more than the precision pruners I love.

When was the last time you heard anyone say they were looking forward to mowing?

Learn more about Fiskars products

Enter to win the Fiskars® Ultimate Scissors Collection. Giveaway package featuring 8 premium pairs of scissors. Deadline is February 20th, 2011.

Pruning Stik® Telescoping Tree Pruner

The 12′ Pruning Stik® Telescoping Tree Pruner was a big help after last years winter storms. It’s the easiest overhead pruner I’ve used. This is much easier to control

Muck Boots for Christmas

Muck Boots for gardeners

I bought a pair of these Muck boots two summers ago. And that’s why I am not showing you my shoes. I’ll be honest, I was not a great fan when they arrived in the mail. You have to admit that Muck Boots won’t be winning any footware beauty pagents.

But now, I love these garden shoes. They are confortable, easy to get on and off when I have my hands full of plants and tools. In the summer, I keep these shoes by the back door for quick on and off. After two years of season stretching garden work, these shoes are still in good shape.

The reason I’m telling you this is because these Muck Boots are on sale and any gardener would be delighted to find them under the Christmas tree. A  gift certificate wood be a great stocking stuffer.

Their website says “Muck Boots are the most comfortable, 100% waterproof rubber boots & shoes you’ll ever own. Whether you’re working hard on the farm, in your garden, hiking in the snow, slopp’n in the mud or standing on the sidelines at a sports event – your feet will be dry and warm.”

All this is true. But, I also like Muck Boots because they are not hot or heavy on my feet. The stretch-fit top keeps the gravel and dirt out of my shoes. The snug shoe top a handy feature that you may not appreciate until you put on other shoes.

I clean my Muck Boots with a garden hose.

Go to to order online. And you get free shipping. I’m just telling you this because I like mine and I know you will like them too.

Christmas Shopping Done!

Jules and I made a holiday shopping deal. I tease him that Bass Pro Outdoor World is the original man cave chain. “Well I bet I can shop for you and get all your Christmas presents here too,” he challenged. And I said I could do all my shopping for him this year in Bass Pro.

Santa's on his way“

This seems like a doable and more precisely a winable challenge. One more thing you should know: Jules and I are not hunters or campers and I only trout fish rarely, and then it’s catch and release.

This is how we spent the better part of a day in one store and got all our Christmas shopping done. We had a lunch break at Hemingways. If you have kids in tow, they can have bunches of fun at Bass Pro.

For the Kids:
Santa’sWonderland where there is over 3,500 square feet of free holiday magic. With elves moving trains, arcades, free craft activities and even make and take tree ornaments on weekends.

Bass Pro has the old fashioned Magical Wonderland where the post man takes your letters to Santa. There are even free pictures with Santa. Go to to check times for photos through December 24. The Wonderland Santa is at every Bass Pro store.

There is a Thanksgiving 4-day sale and a seperate Black Friday 5 Hours Only Sale (November 26, 6am-11:00 pm)

More than hunting and camping equipment

Bass Pro Shops is an online sporting goods retailer that offers a large selection of hunting and fishing gear. Founded in 1971, they are one of the largest outdoor retailers in the United States

The granddaddy of all Bass Pro stores is in Springfield, MO. It is also a major tourist attraction in the state of Missouri. Bass Pro Shop:1935 S. Campbell, Springfield, MO 65807, Phone: 417-887-7334

GPS Coordinates: 37.1798ºN, 93.2973ºW (WGS84/NAD83)

To learn about accomodations in the Springfield area. Springfield, Missouri, Convention & Visitors Bureau, 3315 E. Battlefield Road- Springfield, MO 65804. 
Downtown Visitor Information Center, 815 E. Saint Louis St., Suite 100 – Springfield, MO 65806 
(800) 678-8767 or (417) 881-5300 – fax (417) 881-2231

Askinoise Chocolate

Christmas Gifts for Gardeners

Askinosie Chocolate – eating your way to a better world.  Askinosie Chocolate is a small batch bean to bar chocolate manufacturer located in Springfield, Missouri.

Because it’s Christmas, I want to share the amazing Askinosie Chocolate story. I’ve taken the tour a couple of times because I love Askinosie chocolate, and I admire entreprenuer Shawn Askinosie.

My BFF just sent The Chalk-late Box.™ It has a chalkboard-top that is a perfect way to send a message to friend or foe (remove the chocolate if sending to foe).

This is a top selling gift item on the website. The Chalk-late Box.™ It’s filled with four-85g Chocolate Bars: 70% San Jose Del Tambo Dark Chocolate Bar, 77% Davao Dark Chocolate Bar, 70% San Jose Del Tambo Nibble Bar™, and a Malted Moo Moo Dark Milk Chocolate Bar. It also comes with chalk and a blank top for easy customization. See all the gifts.

Price: The Chalk-late Box™ $43.

More good news: I can usually buy fragrant cocoa bean mulch, when I stop by the Askinoise chocolate factory at a fraction of the cost at Garden Centers.

Gardeners Christmas List

What Gardeners Want

Christmas Gifts for Gardeners

Bass Pro in Springfield, MO

Go Caddy

Perfect tote for garden phographers

This Go Caddy can carry more than you might think.  It folds flat and stays in my suitcase, ever ready for my travels.

Askinosie Chocolate

Eating your way to a better world with bean to bar chocolate.

Dark Chocolate

Milk Chocolate


Gator Grabber

Geta Gator Grabber

The Gator Grabber it’s much easier to keep my balance when picking up

pine cone or

black walnuts.


Soap for Gardeners

This Herbaria soap has cornmeal to gently clean hands.



Long lasting

Watch your Garden Grow with Plant Cam

The Plant Cam photos can be converted to movies.

I’m going to photograph my

daffodils and


Watering Can

The Best Gift U CAN   give a Gardener

This U CAN watering can is well balanced and easy to carry.

Best Tote for Gardeners

Christmas Gifts for Gardeners .

Go Caddy

The hands free Go Caddy™ is a compact tote that has enough compartments to hold all the necessities by your side for hands free traveling, hiking, daytrips and garden tours.

The black nylon unisex tote will hold a typical sized water bottle with a cooler sleeve. (included) A cruise ship pass fits in the front pocket and closes with a flapped Velcro closure. There is room for a charge card, cash, license or identification, cell phone, camera, a pen and little note book.

You know I only recommend things that I have used. The Go Caddy, minus the water, went with me every day for two months while traveling and shooting garden photos. I carried a passport instead of a cruise ship pass, but everything else on the above list went with me every where. (Plus my business cards, lipstick and comb.)

That’s a heck of a lot for a 4 1/2” wide x 10” tall tote. Go Caddy™ folds flat in my suitcase. (where I always keep it between trips.) $19.99

Buy yours on line BVT Products or use the store locator on their web site.

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