Made in the U.S.A. Monday – Arrow Ice Pop Maker

This week selection is a bit low tech, but ver y enjoyable. It’s an ice pop mold from Arrow. I have owned this product and can attest to it effectiveness and durability. 

The process is simple you select a ice popsjuice flavor and pour it into the mold. I am sure you know the rest. The upside is selection and portion control. One glass of juice can make four ice pops. You most likely won’t eat four pops in one sitting. By simply turning that cup of juice into a frozen treat you are shrinking your calorie input. 

As for selection, since you are choosing the juice you can opt for a healthy brand free of colorings and chemicals. A healthy juice makes a healthy pop. 

Economically it makes sense, a single container of juice can make dozens of pops. It you were to buy a similar amount of ice pops, it would cost you many times more then the cost of a jug of juice. 

This American made product can be bought for $5.99. A nice device to make a bunch of sumner treats. Beat the heat, and buy American. 

Leave a Comment

Filed under Made in the USA

My gardening Adventure – One Month Out

I crossed the one month mark last week and I have much to report. 1 monthMy crops are doing very well and I have a had very few problems at all. With so much to share, I will break down my progress by crop. 

Howden Pumpkins: These guys are monsters. They have leaves the size of my face, they spread a few inches a day now, and appear to be thriving. In the picture they are situated in the raised bed that is closest to the camera. Yesterday two of the vines breached the edges of the bed and are now on their way into the rest of the yard. Howdens take about 115 days to grow, with 80 or so days left I am a little concerned that these guys are really going to spread. I added some garden fences to prevent the pumpkins from crushing my cucumbers and breaching my corn. My pumpkin vines are long and strong. 

Cucumbers: The bride started theses guys in dixie cups are transplanted them into the section designated for my failed strawberries. At first they turned a bit yellow. I looked into it and it appears that this may have come from over watering. I dialed it back and they greened up. Their growth has been slow so I will wait and see. 

Golden Bantam Sweet Corn: Located in the middle bed my corn is almost three feet tall. It is also thriving, but I have a few concerns. First is the fact that I have several plants are growing in the same spots. I have tried to cut them back, but it really pains me to cut away good plants. I have done what I can and will cut back more in the next week or so. My other concern is the roots. My soil is only about 10-12 inches deep, then it gets rocky.  I am worried that as the corn gets taller the wind will knock them down. I amy have to add supports. 

Tomatoes: I have added support lattice to the plants to give then strength and room to climb. No flowers yet, but the plants are looking good. 

Sugar Baby Watermelons: About 50 days to go and these guys are kinda slow. The vines look healthy but compared to the pumpkins they are not only thinner but spread much much slower. Perhaps they will turn a corner and catch up. 

On top of the fencing and tomato cages I have added a soaking hose. I read that it is better to deliver the water right to the roots then getting it on the leaves. I will still do a traditional hose watering once a week to get the spots that the soaker has missed. As of now things are going better then I hoped. I still live in fear that some type of bug or blight will wipe out my crops, but as I stand right now I am very pleased. 

Leave a Comment

Filed under Intro

Made in the U.S.A. Monday – Plastec Watering Can

With my new home and all the responsibilities that come with having a yard my list of things that I need seems to grow by the week. The gutter are clogged? Gotta buy a ladder. Brown spots on the lawn, need seed. Got seed? Need a seed thrower, which lucky doubles as an ice melt thrower. Thank goodness for dual use items.

On my long list was a watering can. A lot of my friends and relatives gave the Bride and I plants, plants need water. For the last two weeks I was making multiple trips from the kitchen sink to the garden with my giants Yankees souvenir cup. It took a lot of trips and got old real fast. I decided I needed a watering can and would by an American made one if such a can existed.

Like I’ve said before, all you have to do is look. watercanI found this great watering can from Plastec on Amazon.  The reviews were good, as was the price. For $9.50 this watering can was mine. Could I have spent $7 for a cheap Chinese watering can? Could I have found one at the dollar store? Its possible, but those importer watering cans wouldn’t last, and I prefer to support American workers. 

Plastec is a woman owned small business. It is located in Florida and was started in 1989. They began with the invention of the “Plant Pallet” and have expanded their line to include various gardening stands and holders. They manufacture many of their products in American and design with and eye towards innovation and fashion. 

My watering can is easy to hold and pour from. It looks nice and feels very solid. I would recommend it for anyone with a small amount of plants. This is due to the watering cans small capacity. For those with a massive amount of hanging or potted plants you might want to go with a larger can. For me it fits the bill and I am very happy with my purchase. 

Leave a Comment

Filed under Made in the USA

My Time as Secret Agent, err Shopper – Field Agent

At the end of last year I was introduced to “Field Agent” a secret shopper app that allows smart phone users to earn some extra cash by visiting a store, answering some questions, and submitting a few photos.  Each of these jobs can pay anywhere from $2- $12 depending on the task. photoI eagerly signed up and in the following seven or so months have earned $12.60. Alright, I realize that this is not very impressive. I’ve only completed three jobs, but to be fair I bought a house, which I moved into, and am in the process of lightly renovating.

Still I like this app very much and would recommend to anyone with an interest in making a few hundred dollars a year in extra income. I believe that this is possible if you have the time. Here is my break down of “Field Agent”.

Ease of Use: Very easy, you pull up the map and up pops all the jobs. You can preview each job to see how much it pays and what is required of you. Once you select the job you will have two hours to complete it. I usually pick jobs that are very close to where I am so it is never an issue.

What is a job like?: To be quite frank, its can be little weird. My first job was at a CVS, I had to take some pictures of the display stand that sat on the counter. It required me to answer a few questions and take a picture of the displays. The trouble was that the cashiers are right there. It was very awkward to take a photo of something while someone watches you, wondering what you are doing. My last job was much easier, it was in a Target, I was alone in the aisle and could answer the questions and take as many pictures as I wanted.

How Much do you think you could earn in a week?: That is an excellent question. If you woke up every morning and set out to just run jobs for “Field Agent” I would estimate that over 8 hours you could earn between $30 – $125 a day. This is a very wild guess, sometimes I look on the site and their are almost no jobs, lately it seems like they are ever

How do you deal with employees?: Simple, lie. Tell them that you aren’t sure if the product is the one you spouse wants, click a picture and pretend to text it to them. Most people can relate to this as such behavior is increasingly common. I know it feels bad trying to deceive someone, but in the big picture what they don’t know won’t hurt them.

Going forward I plan to try and get more jobs. The hardest part for me is trying to find jobs near me, driving 20 minutes out of the way just doesn’t seem worth it. Still if I could make $25 a month, pay for a couple of meals at work, that would be good enough for me. All in all I give it an A – .

Leave a Comment

Filed under Earning Ideas, Intro

The PiggyBankBuilder Portfolio Trade Update

I mentioned it prior. I am cashing out of a position in my fake investing portfolio.  I am “selling” my OIH position. oilThis was my oil play and historically oil prices tend to peak in the summer months. I am happy in the performance, it has gained over 20% in just a few months. It may have more room to run, but I am content to lock in some profits. OIH is trading for  $56.99 for a total of $1481.74. I have no intention of letting that cash just sit there for long. I have another idea kicking around and will share to with you shortly.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Earning Ideas

Made in the U.S.A. Moday – “Dezign With a Z”

Almost two years ago I wrote about the graphics company,”Dezign with a Z” with the plan to buy and display one of their giant decals once I bought a home.Birds Last week I made good on that proposal and bought this amazing tree and bird decal. The tree itself stand at about 5 feet tall and I positioned the birds as a flock swooping into land on the tree. This fills out the wall and adds a sense of movement to the display. 

What I love about this decal is what it does for the room. We painted all of the walls in our living room a light blue and left one wall bright white. To this space we Dezignwithazadded the decal which really draws your eye. Now anyone entering our living room immediately notices our wall art and comments about how much they like it. The pictures don’t really do it justice, but the dimensions of the room make it impossible to shot the room and the decal in the same shot.

My experience with “Dezign with a Z” was top notch. Creating and ordering the decal were very easy. It shipped quickly and arrived in a neatly organized tube. The installation took me about two hours and the directions were very straight forward. They even supplied an application tool that helps get the job done.

With a decal this big it would probably be best to have someone help you. I watched a few videos online to figure out some tip and techniques. All in all it was very easy, but at times a little stressful. You have to be extra cautious not to rip or bend the decal as you rub it onto the wall and very slowly removed the backing. 

I installed it while my Bride was out with company so she had a nice surprise when she returned home. Our decal came out just as we had hoped, it adds an artistic and unique element to our room and I am very pleased with my experience. 

“Dezign with a Z” is a great company making an innovative product right here in America. If you are looking for a new look for your home and don’t want to spend a huge amount of money this might be exactly what you need. Add some art to your walls to liven up your rooms. 

Leave a Comment

Filed under Made in the USA

Made in the U.S.A. Monday – Suncast Garden Hose Reel

I have had some personal experience with Suncast. Last winter I bought one of their snow shovels and I loved it. As I am sure you remember it was a record year for snow fall and that shovel and I got quite the work out. It performed admirably and left a good impression with me regarding the Suncast brand

When I saw a hose reel made by the Illinois based company I felt confident in buying one. I was near the Home Depot check out when I say it, it was on sale for $19.88, I need one so I bought it. 

Then I got home and read some of the reviews, they were pretty bad. I hadn’t attached my hose reel yet, but it seemed fine in the store. I thought about returning it, but decided against that. The price was so low and I was tired of two weeks of hand reeling wet hoses. 

Having used my Suncast garden hose suncast hose reelreel  I can say with certainty that the reviews are wrong. They say the reel falls over all the time. Well, if you look inside, taped to the reel are a set of metal anchor hooks. They say it jams. Agin if you read the description, it’s a 100 foot reel. It you over fill it or wind the hose in a sloppy fashion it will over fill and jam. 

As I see it what we have here are people who are either too rough with their reel or they are not reading the directions. This is my only gripe with online reviews, they are only as good as the people who are writing them.

My experience with my Suncast garden hose reel has been fine. It worked as advertised. I have no complaints. If I choose to get something bigger and sturdier I will buy a metal reel, but that will cost a whole lot more and right now I am watching my budget.  

I am normally a big review guy, but in this instance they missed the mark. This is a solid little plastic garden house reel for an unbeatable price from a company that manufactures right here in the USA. I recommend it. 

Leave a Comment

Filed under Made in the USA

The PiggyBankBuilder Portfolio 1/2 year Update

We are six months chartinto 2014 and  my educational fictitious portfolio is growing by leaps and bounds. It’s performing so well that I am kicking myself for not following my own advice, perhaps next year. Two quarters in the books and here is where things stand:

  • Market Vectors Oil Services ETF (OIH) - Purchase Price – $47.98, number of shares 26. Current Price: $57.68, a gain of $252.20
  • Cablevision (CVC) - Purchase price – $17.96, number of shares 68. Current Price: $18.29, a gain of $23.12
  • Microsoft (MSFT) - Purchase price $37.47, number of 33. Current Price: $41.80, a gain of $142.89
  • iShares Silver Trust (SLV) - Purchase Price $18.92, number of shares 66. Current Price: $20.29, a gain of $90.42

That is correct, not only is the portfolio up big, but all four stock are, for the first time, green as well. My fake portfolio is up $508.68, a hair over 10%! I can’t help but give myself a pat on the back. Last years portfolio was a failure, but I took those lessons and I applied them. I am feeling confident in the rest of the year, but I do plan to make some changes as we end the summer. Keep an eye out for my next big idea and please tell me what you think of my progress. 

***Please not that I am not and investment advisor.Please consult your investment advisors before making any financial decisions that could result in loss.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Earning Ideas

Made in the U.S.A. Monday – Nelson RainTrain Review

At the beginning of this month I featured and raintrainpurchased a “Nelson RainTrain Traveling Sprinkler”. Now that I own it and have used it several times I would like to offer a review on this product.

Build: This thing is a tank, it’s made of cast iron and you can really feel it when you pick it up. The solidness suggests quality and it helps keep the “RainTrain” on the track. In this case the track is the hose.  The down side is that I don’t want to put it on any high shelves because I know that if it were to fall it would be a disaster. For now it stays on the garage floor. 

Ease of Use: Its pretty simple, you lay out the hose in the path you want the RainTrain to go, hook it up, and turn on the water. The pressure from the water propels the train slowly forward. It’s very simple. 

Value: This is very tricky. The rain train costs $60. You could get a stationary sprinkler for about $15. You would have to move it and I don’t think it would last as long as the “RainTrain”. For me the traveling aspect of this sprinkler makes it worth it. 

Effectiveness: This thing does a great job, I set it up, and let it go. It takes about 2 hours to cover my yard and it delivers an even, wide, water coverage on my plants and lawn. It makes a hypnotic whooshing sound as it goes and for some reason I find myself just watching it. 

Overall: I like the “RainTrain” and I am pleased with the purchase.  I believe that it will last me many years and will serve as a great alternative until I decide to get an unground system.  A-  

Leave a Comment

Filed under Made in the USA

My Gardening Adventure – 10 Days In

True patience is one of the traits that a good gardener must posses. I’d like to think I am patient, but when it comes to my “crops” I come up a little short. I planted them, the next day I watered and looked, then the next, nothing. By day four of this I had begun to think that I had failed as a farmer. Now I know that from everything I have read, none of my plants will emerge till at least day seven, but I just couldn’t shake my fears.

Then it happened! Corn! cornThat first set of corn leaves broke through my organic soil. The next day three more sets joined the first and some pumpkin leaves followed. Here I sit a week and a half later and I have started to see some success.

Of the 16 corn plantings, 11 have sprouted. For a healthy crop of corn, the saying goes, knee high by the forth of july. I am pretty confident that I can hit that mark or a least get pretty close to it.

All three of my pumpkin plantings have come up and they are very robust. Pumpkins grow on vines and these guys look like they are going to spread fast. With my limited amout of space it going to be a real challenge trying to wrangle them.

My “SugarBaby Watermelons” gave me a scare, they sprouted a few days after everything else. 10 DaysIt looks like both sets of plants are coming up, but neither looks strong. I don’t know if this is normal or if the plants just aren’t doing well.

Everyone said that starting tomatoes from seeds was very difficult, they were right because none of mine came up and neither did my strawberries. Its very disappointing, but fortunately for me my neighbor Bill gave us some of his fledgling tomato plants from his green house as a house warming gift. I will transfer them over tomorrow and the Bride has already claimed the empty strawberry section for her cucumber seedlings. We are making the most out of our set backs and we are pushing on.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Intro, Quality of Life