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russian rose tomato

Russian Rose tomato

Got seeds from: @betweenthelimes
Planting info: I started this from seed and it is now planted in the raised bed reserved for tomatoes. It gets the best possible conditions in my yard: raised bed with the most sun, and the one that is first in the soaker hose line so it gets the most water.
Beauty points: I wish I had taken a pre-slice picture of the first one I picked. It was gorgeous and huge! Size varies from huge to medium, but I don’t think there’s been a blemish on any of them. You can pick them when there’s still some green striping in the shoulder so they don’t go bad on the vine.
Taste: Mild and sweet, not tangy. Better with salt. But the consistency…the first bite I took I thought it was disgusting because it was all meat! Hardly any juice or gel at all. So at first I thought it was gross, but then the second bite I took, I liked it. Because I really like the part right by the skin most on all tomatoes, anyway.
Other considerations: The meatiness of this tomato means it holds up to slicing very well. So to me, this would make a great sandwich tomato, or could be used for tomato salads etc where you want the tomato to be able to kind of stand up to some punishment and still be a little cube or slice of tomato.
Will I grow it again? I think so. I’ll have to either save seeds or purchase some, but I really like the consistency of this one. It’s almost like a roma/paste tomato, but a slicer version. I like it!


A few months back I was approached by Ethel Gloves on twitter and asked if I’d like to be one of the few people try out a new kind of glove they may be offering. The new gloves, I was told, would be vegan and made from synthetic fibers, and should be cooler and allow for more dexterity than the other Ethel gloves. Already a fan of Ethel, I said um…hell yes! as per my usual response to being asked to review something.

proof of their superspecialsecretness

These have actually quickly taken over from my cute blue Ethels as my go-to gloves. I have a more sturdy pair of Womanswork gloves I wear for mulching and more heavy-duty tasks, but these are my defaults now (though I still use my other Ethels, which I have several pairs of). Here are my thoughts…

-fingertips seem sturdier. My old ones busted through when mulching last year, but I feel like these could take it. Still will prob use sturdier ones for mulch, though, just because.
-consequently (because they’re stronger), you lose some fingertip feel, but not a lot
-wrist elastic keeps dirt out, just like on all ethel gloves (BIG bonus! I hate when dirt and mulch get in the wrist and stuck in the fingertips!)
-more lightweight – the only time I felt I needed to rip them off was when planting small seeds. You can feel what you’re doing very nicely (due to thinner palm). Also good on HOT days!
-vegan is nice if you’re looking for that. esp if the cost is about the same as other options.
-usually i just rinse out my gloves very well with a hard stream of water and hang them in the shed to dry. I wash them every once in a while, but usually just rise. With the regular ones, they tend to get very “hard” the next time you go to put them on after that (they loosen up, but it’s weird at first). These didn’t seem to do that to quite the same extreme, which is nice.

-well, they’re not as cute because they’re just black. lol 🙂
-again, while the palm dexterity is great, you lose some in the fingertips. I think it’s a good tradeoff though – I would rather not have my nails poke through the fingertips than have fancy fabric.
-they seemed a bit shorter than my other M size ones (the elastic came lower on my wrist, almost to my plam), but I’ll chalk that up to a trial size. Fingers fit fine, but the palm seemed smaller. Still a much better fit than the standard women’s gardening gloves, which is Ethel’s main claim to fame (and a valid claim!).

I haven’t machine washed them yet, but I spray them down with a strong stream from the hose after wearing them and they’re still in great shape after 2 months of regular gardening wear!

If the price point is the same, I think I’d probably buy these from now on because of the fingertip issue (especially if they also came in cute prints). While I love my other ethels, I’m careful not to use them while spreading mulch or doing more hardcore tasks, because I have fingernails and they have poked through past pairs. In these I don’t feel like it would be a problem. And it almost feels like it’s because of they STYLE of the fingertips, not just the material. The way they’re sewn so the strip goes across the finger, maybe? Not sure, but it makes things seem more sturdy to me.

In action while making my succulent wreath:

Disclaimer: I received this item from Ethel Gloves to review, good or bad. I receive nothing in return for posting a good review versus a bad one – these opinions are my own and are an honest review of the product mentioned above. I read reviews extensively before purchasing almost anything, so I’m happy to review things so others can do the same. Let me know if you find this review helpful!

A couple months ago I was contacted by Allsop Home and Garden to see if I wanted to check out some plant tags for them. Allsop is a pretty cool company – all family owned and all the products they sell they design themselves. Their solar lighting is really gorgeous, as are their plant tags.


my usual plant tag style

I was intrigued by the plant tags because it says that if you use a gel pen (it originally said ballpoint, but they changed it to gel), they are washable and you can re-use them year after year! For some reason I can NEVER find a grease pencil that works well or is sharpened (suggestions welcome), so I just usually end up using a permanent marker that fades mostly by the end of the year and I re-mark it (I just mark my annual veggies). Not the best system, so I was intrigued by these super cute tags. At $15.99 they are a bit pricey, but worth it to me if they are re-usable AND renameable.

When I got them, first off I was REALLY impressed by the packaging! It’s freaking adorable and TOTALLY gift-worthy.

The pieces themselves also feel very sturdy. The plastic is actually kind of rubbery and bendy, but doesn’t feel like it will crack. The metal stakes are very strong – I couldn’t bend them with my hands at all. I brought home a gel pen from work, matched the pictures to the “feel” of my tomatoes (ie pink thing for Russian Rose, yellow thing for Sungold), and filled them out. I may just have a crap gel pen, but I did have to kind of write over the words twice to get it to any level of darkness. Very cute, though!
Allsop tags

allsop tags


So…how have they held up? Well, I put them up on 5/2/10. They have held up very well in my opinion! I will say that they have yellowed a bit (a bit more since this pic, which is a few weeks old), but they are still sturdy and look cute.

allsop tags

yellowed a little

I wanted to leave the writing on a while before attempting to wipe off the writing, so I did that a few weeks ago after I took the above pic. It suggests you use water, soapy water, or water with some alcohol. I figured I’d take the best of all 3 and used a clorox wipe. Unfortunately, even after a bit of scrubbing and fingernail scraping, it still looked exactly like the photo above and didn’t wipe off. I should have taken it in and tried again with soapy water, but I didn’t. I will try that at the end of the season and hope it works because I probably won’t grow all these same varieties next year and definitely want to reuse them. It may also be the fault of my aforementioned crappy gel pen (though the pen was definitely a gel pen as required). Not sure.

So…would I buy them again? I think I would definitely buy them as a gift for a gardener. They are adorable and very well packaged – very gift-worthy. For myself? Though they are pricey, if they worked with the wipe-off factor I would consider getting another pack for my veggies. I am going to give the wipe-off test a more intensive try in the fall and will re-evaluate.

All in all though, Allsop is a very cool company with some unique products that you should definitely check out!

Disclaimer: I received this item from Allsop Home and Garden to review, good or bad. I receive nothing in return for posting a good review versus a bad one – these opinions are my own and are an honest review of the product mentioned above. I read reviews extensively before purchasing almost anything, so I’m happy to review things so others can do the same. Let me know if you find this review helpful!

A few months ago, I was asked by the people of Troy-Bilt if I’d like to review something this season. Last year I won a cordless trimmer in a contest and reviewed that on the blog (though I didn’t have to). Um, heck yes!

Hubby and I went back and forth trying to decide whether to get a tiller or a pressure washer. Both are things we could definitely use. We borrow a tiller from either my or his parents at least once a year to till up a spot to fix grass seed or build a new garden. Both sets of parents also have pressure washers, but we hadn’t borrowed one of those since moving in (to clean the deck). In the end, we decided on the Troy-Bilt 2700 PSI 2.3 GPM Gas Pressure Washer. Though we’d get use out of a tiller, we figured we’d get more use from the pressure washer: deck, cars, siding, driveway, sheds, etc.

We got it in a while back – I was disturbed to find a giant box that said, more or less “Big Expensive Thing You Can Steal!” sitting on my front stoop one day after work. Way to go, FedEx man! (The mail lady and UPS guy know to leave stuff, especially stuff like that, on the back deck.) I dragged it in the house and it sat there until hubby very quickly put it together when we were cleaning up before going on vacation a couple weeks ago (assembly was very easy, according to hubs). He broke it out this weekend to use it.

First of all, let me just say that you seriously never know how many plants and things you have on your deck until you have to take them off one-by-one after getting home from work.

Anyway…deck before and afters! We’re pretty sure this deck was never sealed or anything (built by previous owners), and we would like to eventually do a bigger one ourselves, so we aren’t going to seal it and all that since it will likely be coming down in a few years anyway (we’ll see). It’s kind of weirdly shaped and not built great anyway. Power washing makes it look a TON better, though. There were tons of gross green spots and darkened spots from having plants and stuff on there. They are pretty much all gone and the whole deck looks WAY better. For some reason you can’t tell as much of a difference in the first set of pics (may be a lighting thing), but I assure you that our deck is a different color now.

Hubby also did the driveway (nice long cord and hose…it allllmost reached to the end of the driveway). He also did the siding. The siding really needed it. It was gross. This is the original 1979 siding (thank god they picked white back then), and most likely it has never been washed. He bought a big siding brush and some (garden safe!) siding cleaning solution and went to town. Now granted, we have a VERY small one-story house, but he got it all done in a few hours (with the help of a ladder – which the hose did not encumber him from using) in one night. Pretty good in my book! He even did a quick spray-off of the cars.

We’re very happy with this and will definitely be using it a lot. Now that we have it, we’ll probably pressure wash the deck each year and the siding every few years. It’ll be used to especially grimy car days as well. Probably its next big project will be when we repaint the old shed that came with the house (from the icky color gray it is now, to taupe and maroon to match the other shed and what we’d eventually like for the house). We’ll use the pressure washer to clean off the old paint and get a nice clean surface for the new paint. Many projects to come!

Disclaimer: I received this item from Troy-Bilt to review, good or bad. I receive nothing in return for posting a good review versus a bad one – these opinions are my own and are an honest review of the product mentioned above. I read reviews extensively before purchasing almost anything, so I’m happy to review things so others can do the same. Let me know if you find this review helpful!

Additional note: Allergies have been KICKING MY ASS all day long. Leaky faucet nose all day. It’s one of those days where you just say “eff it” and do this:

I HIGHLY, highly recommend any tissue with menthol in it. Whenever I find them in the store I buy a bunch of boxes because it’s hard to find. It’s never good news when I have to break it out. It has finally calmed down a bit though (gah as soon as I typed that I sneezed, though), and I am drinking my second cup of pineapple mint and (an eensy bit of) stevia tea from the garden. Very nice! (And I keep on not doing the Herbal Almanac thing. I’ll feel motivated to do it eventually).

my new 20-volt trimmer (aka weed whacker)

my new 20-volt trimmer (aka weed whacker)

You may remember that a few weeks ago I was totally excited to have won a Troy-Bilt trimmer via twitter. It was made clear that I didn’t have to review it or anything, but I mean what the heck? I’m going to use it and it was free and the info might help others, so I’m reviewing it. Well, true to the word of @allisonpeltz, it came in the mail while I was away in Hawaii (my dad was on the lookout for it while on cat-feeding duty). It rained a lot while we were away, so the yard REALLY needed a cut and trim when we got back. I took off the day after we got back to readjust, and my hubby only had to be in court for a few hours that day (he’s a cop, so they scheduled all of his court cases for the first day they knew he’d be back!). So I did a lot of work in the garden and he cut the grass when he came back. I did the trimming pre-grass cutting. (Note: I took a picture with me holding the trimmer, but I looked awful, so you get the artful leaning trimmer image – the garden to the left is what used to be my herb garden. I stuck a hosta and a sweet potato vine in there for now. Most of the herbs found a home in various pots since it was too wet there (sadface).).

The trimmer, a Troy-Bilt TB57, says it charges in about 4 hours – we’d let it charge overnight, so I can’t say if that’s true or not. But I will say that it trimmed my entire yard without dying! We had a fair amount of trimming on our just-under-an-acre, so I was trimming for probably about 30 min or so. And when my husband got home later, he did some additional trimming and the battery power was still fine. I assume we’ll have to charge it before its next use, though.

The trimmer isn’t too heavy and was plenty powerful. Our normal trimmer is gas powered, so I thought this one (a 20 volt) might have less pickup, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. I hardly ever use the gas one, because it’s just so darn complicated to get the thing started that my husband has to be home for me to use it anyway, so he just does it himself (we trim usually every other time we cut grass). This is great – now I can just go ahead and do some trimming if it needs to be done and my hubby is at work! Awesome for me.

Using the trimmer was a little uncomfortable for me, but I think I just need to figure things out. You have to push two buttons to get it to go, one trigger-like button and then a button on the side – a good safety feature. But I found it awkward to have to push both even though I kept moving my fingers around. I even tried both right and left hand (and the first thing my husband noticed when he came home was that I was “holding it retardedly”) and it just felt funny. I ended up with the battery part kind of under my armpit, so I don’t know. Maybe I’m not just an accomplished trimmer.

So anyway, I think this thing is great. Much easier to deal with than the gas powered one, and you don’t have to keep buying gas. This tool also can share a battery with some other tools, among them I think a hedge trimmer and a pole-chainsaw, so if the battery stays good for a while, then that’s some money saved right there (thought it is often hard to buy battery-powered tools without the battery unless you buy a whole set that shares a battery at once, which is annoying). We could never use a corded one in our yard (we’d need to use a really long cord to get to all the places that need trimming, so it would be impractical), so I really like the battery-powered trimmer as a solution.

I think @allisonpeltz is going to send me some other Troy-Bilt goodies as well that I can give away on the blog, so if I do end up getting those, stay tuned for a fun giveaway! Note that doing a review was not a condition of winning the trimmer (it really was just a contest, as stated in the beginning), but I’m a review whore myself when buying something, so I always review things I get when I can. And since I got it for free, it’s the least I can do! Also note that if you want to send me something for free, I will totally review it for you! (*wink wink*)

(Note: If this review helped you, leave me a comment and let me know! It would be much appreciated!)


@jennahw on twitter!


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