Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Wellie Wishers by American Girl, Les Cherie, H4H, Wellie Wisher size comparison

How do the new American Girl Dolls Wellie Wishers compare in size to Corolle Les Cherie dolls and Heart for Heart (H4H) dolls? 

I make doll clothes for all three of these dolls, so thought someone else might want to see a picture of them lined up to compare their sizes. 

The Corolle Les Cheries are obviously quite a bit different in height. I've seen a lot of patterns that state they fit both the H4H dolls and LesCherie dolls. Some outfits will fit both girls, but I've found that the H4H dolls really need a slightly bigger pattern to really fit properly. 

The new American Girl Wellie Wishers and H4H can wear the same patterns, as they are very close in size. 

In my eyes, the Wellie Wishers do have more of a natural childs body, in that the legs and arms have more substance to them, the torso looks more like a young girls body, where the H4H dolls have more of a young teenagers slim body with the start of a figure. 

Since these have a suggested age group of 5-7 years old, the Wellie Wishers body style seems the most appropriate.. 

However, I do love the H4H dolls.. I've read on a few blogs that they've been discontinued, but on the Playmates Toys Website, they state a new website is under construction for the H4H dolls and will be available in October 2016. I hope this means they haven't been discontinued as they really are very pretty dolls.

I've also love the Corolle Les Cherie dolls.. Just love that serious little expression on their faces and they also look very cute in their outfits. 

You might be wondering about their foot sizes.. 
The first foot in this picture is LesCheries foot, the 2nd is H4H and the 3rd is Wellie Wishers. 

As you can see, they all have different foot styles, although they're all pretty much the same length. 

They can wear many of the same shoes, although, Wellie Wishers do have a chubbier foot. They would not be able to wear the shoes that came with my H4H doll, as an example, but I have found doll shoes that fit all three nicely (available on Sweet Pea Doll Clothes)

I started out making just a few outfits for my new Wellie Wisher, but couldn't stop! They really are adorable little dolls that look very cute in their clothing. 
Their Sweet Pea doll clothing page is located HERE.

I hope they're a big success.. They seem like a great option for girls who are too young for a larger American Girl Doll or other 18" vinyl dolls, like Sweet Pea Girls

But I do think they're maybe a bit overpriced (in my humble opinion).. They cost $60 right now, but American Girl is offering free shipping on them till the end of July. 

Their eyes do not open/close and while their hair is okay, I can see where young girls might really have a hard time keeping it looking nice. 

The outfits they come in are cute and the boots are also very cute. My Wellie Wisher is "Willa", and while I think her outfit really is adorable, being a seamstress, I look at it like your typical cheaply made outfit. It isn't lined, the fabric is a cheaper quality and of course, I think my doll clothes are made much better. lol... (they really are)..

Willa has pigtails and I've seen other blogs where people have mentioned that the hair in back is short, so her hair has to stay in the pigtail style. I took her hair out of the pigtails to see if this is true, and found that I was able to style her hair in a number of ways.. 

I combed her hair out....

 I braided it...

I put it in a messy bun..

And I left it in pigtails..

So, her hair really can be styled in many ways..

As soon as I get the chance, I'll measure all three dolls and add their measurements. 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Make your own Coconut Butter

yummmmm....coconut Butter
I love coconut butter, or coconut mana, although, I don't use it like many people do... I don't use it as a butter, but rather put a spoonful of it in my breakfast smoothie, my husband puts a spoonful in his oatmeal, and I put a spoonful of it into our daily yogurt...

I love it in yogurt.. You can pour it on the top and leave it to harden, so it's kind of like that hard shell topping people eat on icecream..yummmm.....I also like to put a spoonful in the yogurt and stir it around and let it sit for a minute or two.. It creates a super creamy yogurt with a great coconut taste..

I'd been buying Nutiva coconut mana for a couple of years, but the price just kept going up and up and up.. It's now about $8.92 a jar, which is about $2 more than it was when I first started buying it.. I've also purchased a couple of jars of the Coconut Butters available. I can't tell the difference between Coconut Mana and Coconut Butter, other than the price. It has the same ingredients and it taste identical.

It's simple to make and really saves money, plus I like it better.. My handmade coconut butter, or mana, doesn't separate the way the product I buy does... When I get a new jar from my online supplier, I have to warm it and then stir it, and stir it, and stir it some more... It takes quite a bit to get it really stirred up, and to be honest, it's a messy job..

I'm not sure if it's because this type of product is made in huge quantities and by time it's shipped out, it's sat long enough that it separates naturally, or what, but my homemade product doesn't do this.. Maybe because we start using it right after I make it and continue to use it daily until it's gone.. At any rate, I like that the homemade stuff doesn't require constant restirring..

All you need is a food processor and a bag of unsweetened coconut. I use Bob's Red Mill brand that I buy from Amazon in packs of four.. I've used both flaked and shredded and either one works.. I prefer the shredded, only because it turns into mana, or butter, faster. 

I'm not a big food processor person, but I bought one just for this project. 
I purchased an inexpensive Hamilton Beach Food Processor in September of 2013 for $27. It's still working great and has more than paid for itself in the savings alone. 

All you do is pour a bag into the food processor and turn it on.. 
It turns from this, 
To this in 10 minutes or less.
Just keep processing until it's smooth, like creamed butter. 
You may need to stop half way through and clean off the sides with a Spatula, but I've found with the shredded coconut, I don't even have to do that. 
I saved quite a few of the jars from the Mana product I used to use, so I just scoop the fresh Mana into one, twist on the cap and it's good to go.  No need to refrigerate (in fact, don't refrigerate, it'll become super hard).. A jar last us 2-3 weeks and I've never had a jar go bad.. 

I get my coconut at a subscription price from Amazon. Right now it's priced at $10.22 for four bags, so a jar of this is costing me about $2.55 and 10 minutes of my time.  The price of Coconut Mana and Coconut Butter sold online varies from $7.50 - $19.00 a jar right now, plus shipping, so that's quite a savings. Plus making your own means it's fresh, I know what's in it and I don't have to deal with the seperation process... 
I've been making my own for over almost 2 years now.
It's just so easy!!

There are a lot of benefits to Coconut.. Just do a search and you'll have all kinds of info up. 

I recently discovered the Wellness Mama blog
She has a list of 101 uses for Coconut Oil that's really interesting. 
She also has a wealth of information about healthy living in general... 
I'm impressed!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Cleansing Conditioners like Wen

Cleansing Conditioners like Wen

Like most people, I've been intriqued by the Wen info commericals promising beautiful hair without shampooing.. I did some research on the product and found that some love it, some hate it, but most are very unhappy with the price. 

I went to their website to check out prices and found that the first shipment isn't that unreasonably priced.. But then I did a little search for customer feedback and found that most everyone ends up being very angry because when they purchased the reasonably priced started kit, they didn't realize they were agreeing to a automatic shipping program, where their credit cards were being charged about $40 a month. It seems people are having a heck of a time getting out of this situation, their accounts continue to be dinged even after multiple attempt to cancel. 

Wowsers! Thank goodness for customer feedback! I knew I didn't want to end up getting caught up in one of those deals, but did still want to try Wen.

My hair is very thick, curly, shoulder length and gray... The older I get, the dryer it gets. Curly hair is dryer than normal to begin with and as I age (I'm 60), it becomes dryer and dryer.. I also have a sensitive scalp and many shampoos make my head itch terribly. I had an allergic reaction to hair dye about 6 years ago and decided to go natural after that.. Since then, I've been using a lot of all natural shampoos and conditioners. Some are good, some not so good.. All are a little on the pricey side.. I thought if I'm going to spend more for shampoos, I might as well see if I can afford Wen.

So, with that in mind, I went to Amazon to see if they sell Wen without having to get caught up in a shipment program. They do sell it, but at $32 a bottle, not in my budget... 
I took the time to  read some feedback, and was pleased to discover there are alternative cleansing conditioners, and many reviewers preferred many of them to Wen.. 

Over the last 6 months or so, I've tried 7 different ones, from four different companies. I thought I'd write my experience with each, in case someone else is interested in cleansing conditioners but not sure where to start. 

First I tried 

Pantene's Cleansing Conditioners.


I was able to buy my first bottle from Walmart for about $5.  It's called 
I don't have colored hair, but they didn't have the Pro-V Damage Repair Cleansing Conditioner in stock, so I decided to give the Color Preserve a try. 
I was so pleasantly surprised! 
The product is very thick and creamy. I got my hair super wet, then aded 10 pumps of the Pantene to my palm, then started rubbing it through my hair, working it through to the ends.. I left it on my hair while I showered, then started rubbing it in to my scalp and throughout my hair. I discovered that adding just a little water created a really creamy product that felt very good on my hair.. It doesn't lather like shampoo, it just feels like a very thick, creamy conditioner.. I wasn't sure if it was cleaning my hair or not, but it did make my hair feel very sleek and smooth.. After rubbing it into my scalp and hair really well, I rinsed it.. It does take a bit to rinse it well, because it is so thick and creamy. 

It was easy to comb it out wet. It felt very smooth and silky. I only dry my bangs, then use a defusser to dry my hair a little bit, then let it air dry, as my curls get frizzy if I dry with it completely with a hair dryer. 

Both Pantenes have a very pleasant, clean scent that makes my hair smell good. 
After my hair was air dried,  it felt soft, my curls were good, and I was pleased. 
One bottle of the Pantene lasted over a month and seems like a great valu to me.

I was very pleasantly surprised to find that there was no itchy scalp, no problems at all..And my hair felt very clean! I now wash it every 3rd day, and it stays nice and fresh between cleansings.

I even found I was able to straighten my hair with a flat iron after a few weeks of using this prodcut and my hair stayed nice and smooth, which is unusual. 

I discovered that Amazon has a lot of cleansing conditioners offered as Add On items, priced between $4 and $7, so I decided to order a few of them to see how I liked them. 

I love the scent of this product. It's fresh and minty.. I was a little disappointed though, the first time I used it, as it's very runny. It's actually kind of hard to keep the product in your palm because it's so runny.. I ended up using about 15 pumps of the product, and adding more later on.. It just kind of mixes in with your hair and doesn't feel particularly creamy. In fact, it kind of feels like you aren't actually rubbing anything but water into your hair.. I did the same thing I do with the Pantene... I let it sit on my hair while I showered, then added a little water and rubbed it into my scalp down through the ends. 
It just didn't feel creamy at all. I kept adding more product thinking I just didn't have enough, but it never did feel like much of anything. 

I rinsed it out really well....my hair felt kind of tangly, not smooth or silky, and I thought, this is the worse product ever. 
I applied a frizz ease product, then combed it out, which took a bit, then dried my bangs and defused the rest.. 
I was actually shocked because my hair did look smooth.. 
Despite my thinking it was the worse product ever, I continued to use it for weeks, and did feel my hair was looking healthier... 
Impressive, considering it really doesn't feel like it was doing much when cleansing my hair. 

I decided to try another, hoping it would give my hair the same healthy look, but be a thicker product. 

It's priced at $9 right now on Amazon, but I paid $10.99 for it, and at 12oz., it's the smallest of all the products I've tried. 
I'm sorry to say, I did not like this product at all. It made my head itch terribly, and I ended up with a flaky scalp. I have never had flakes before, so this was a bit shocking. 
Not to be someone who wants to jump to conclusions, I decided to make sure it was this cleanser, so I did give it a 2nd try later on, and sure enough, itchy, flaky scalp. 

I noticed Walmart had a Herbal Essence cleanser called 
Again, I don't have colored hair, but decided to give it a try. It was only about $5.

This product is thick, creamy, pretty pink and smells wonderful!! 
It's very much like the Pantene product and I have been happy with it. The only problem I have with it is that my hair has a more frizzy look after using it, even after using a frizz ease serum... I save this to use for days that are forcasted for rain and humidity since my hair will be frizzy no matter what product I use. lol.. I do really love the smell of this one and how thick and creamy it is.. 

Since I really liked the way my hair looks after using the Renpure products, I decided to give another one a try.

I looked on Amazon and found they have quite a few coconut products. I love the scent of coconut, so thought I'd give them a try. 
They have two cleansing products and I wasn't sure what the difference was, so I purchased both.. 

These products are called Renpure Coconut Cream Cowash and

I think these products are basically the same thing, only the pudding costs a bit more. The price seems to go up and down on Amazon. I paid $9.99 for the pudding and $7.99 for the Cowash.. I price right now is $7.99 for either.

Like the other Renpure product I used, I like the end results of these products, but they are also on the runny side and I have to use a lot of product with each cleansing. 

The Cowash has a light, fresh scent, while the Pudding has a bit of a spicy scent. I prefer the smell of the Cowash... 

The Pudding seems like it's may be just a bit thicker than the Cowash, but it's still runnier than the thick and creamy Panteen and Herbal Essence products. 

I washed my hair this morning with the Creme Pudding and I can still smell the spicy scent, which I really don't like... However, it is a clean scent and my hair feels very clean. 

Herbal Essence has another cleanser called 
Herbal Essence Naked Cleansing Conditioner
If I see it at the store, I'll be grabbing it to give it a try. 

For now, I'll be finishing off my Renpure products, but I won't be purchasing more.. 

Out of all the products I used, I have to say I think Pantene is my favorite. 
I'm glad I gave them all a try and for not a lot more than one bottle of Wen would cost, I got to experiment with quite a few. 

I do think the cleansing conditioners are better for my hair type.. Since my hair is dry, curly and thick, it feels much better conditioning my hair while cleaning it than using shampoos that strip my hair of it's natural oils, and then having to use conditioner like crazy to try to undo what the shampoo just did. 

If you've had any experience with cleansing conditioners, I'd love to hear what you think! 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Hoop House Garden

Hoop House Gardening

Four years ago, my husband put up a hoop house, the kind you see pictures of all over the internet. It was made with PVC pipes, wood and greenhouse plastic.  It sat on the edge of our side yard, facing the South..

It turned out really pretty, but unfortunately, it really took a beating every winter.. We live in Northern Michigan, and snow bent the pvc ribs every snowfall.. My husband put wood stands in it the 2nd year to help hold up the pvc ribs, but this past winter (2014) was so bitter cold and snowy, the damage was too much to save. We ended up taking the pvc poles and plastic down and have now made it a great big garden bed (looks like it has a headboard and footboard. lol).

It was a lot of work, though, and it really disappointed John that it didn't last longer. He was also disappointed in it's produce.. The first year we tried growing tomatoes, cauliflower, green peppers and green beans in the hoop house, but even though everything grew super tall, the only thing that produced fruit were the green beans.. The next 3 years, we only planted green beans in it.. 

We think it didn't allow enough ventilation because of the wooden front, wasn't getting the pollination it needed, plus the dirt just didn't seem very powerful.. We have nothing but sand here, so we had purchased a load of dirt from someone claiming it was super great, powerful dirt... It doesn't appear to be so... 

We also have a vegetable garden in our backyard, set up in large garden boxes... We've had good years and bad years, but one thing that's consistant is late frosts in June and early frosts in late August/early September.  Two years ago we had the most beautiful garden, but before we could take advantage of all the zuchinni, tomatoes, green peppers, cauliflower, cucumbers and muskmelon, an unexpected, non reported frost killed everything the 3rd week of August.. It was heartbreaking.. 

Every since then, I've wanted to put a hoop house over the entire garden space.. John wasn't too thrilled at the idea since he'd worked so hard on the 1st one.. I hinted and hinted until I was blue in the face, but he never made the move to build one. In his defense, he's been working on our new 4 season room we had built in place of the collapsed sunroom.. 
 I decided this year, if I really wanted one, I should just build one myself.. 

So that's what I did.. 

I'm not a builder, that's for sure. But I'm pretty good at figuring things out. I thought I'd add some pictures to the blog along with a description of how I built my hoophouse. Maybe it will inspire you to do the same, or at the very least, help you visualize a little bit on how to get started! 

First, I looked at a zillion pictures of DIY hoophouses on the internet and read every blog I could find on how others built their hoop houses.. I couldn't find directions on exactly what I envisioned, but with the knowledge I'd gathered from the one John built and from info I'd read on the internet, I decided to just go for it.. 

I  used the garden boxes we already have as the base.. The dimensions are 14' long x 15' wide.  John had used 1/2" pvc poles on the first hoop house so I decided to try the 3/4" to see if it'll stand up to ole man winter a little better.. 

I ran a frame of 2x4's around the existing boxes for the frame.  Most of the items I used, we already had, including all the pvc elbows and about half of the poles, so the hoop house really hasn't cost that much money..
Cha Ching... I love making stuff that doesn't end up costing us much :o)

I cut the poles to size using John's compound miter saw..Once cut to size, I attached the bottom row of poles by screwing them directly into the wood frame with two screws in each. I placed them 24" apart. The bottom row of poles are 48" long each. 

I attached the roof poles (or roof ribs) to each bottom pole using 45 degree PVC elbows.  

Wanting this thing to be as sturdy as I could make it, I added a sideboard to side pvc poles and attached them with 3/4" u-shaped clamps. 

I got up on the ladder and attached the center of the roof pvc's together, also using the 45 degree pvc elbows.. I felt pretty clumsy trying to get the first roof joints done. I'm sure I looked pretty funny.. My husband asked if I could use a hand, which made it much simpler. But once I had a couple of them together, I was able to do the rest myself.. My husband stood by saying "Are you sure you don't want some help?", but I really wanted to see if this was something a 59 year old woman could handle on her own!
 The answer is Yes!! 
Where there's a will, there's a way!

I added a  support pole down the center of the roof line.. I used pvc t-joints to add support poles that run down from the center pole to the ground, for "hopeful" support throughout the winter..I spaced these according to where the garden boxes are, and screwed each support pole into the garden boxes so they can't sink into the sand..  

I wrapped 2 or three zip ties around each of the roof joints just to tighten them up and make sure they couldn't shift. It was feeling pretty darn sturdy at this point. 

Our Rion sunroom had collapsed this past winter and we ended up tearing it down. Some of the poly windows were able to be salvaged, so I decided to use them around the bottom half of the hoophouse. In order to have a place to attach them, I added a 1x4 piece of lumber around the bottom frame, locking the pvc poles between 2 pieces of lumber, which I think should be added support for the winter. 

I started working on the front and back door frames, using pieces of wood we had available. I also attached two pieces of wood to a couple of the center poles, again to add extra support for next winter.. I used a lot of L-shaped metal brackets on corners, too... I added 1x4 strips of wood mid way up the roof line on both sides, attaching them with the 3/4" U-clamps..

We had an extra piece of the greenhouse plastic left over from John's hoophouse that's been rolled up all this time, so I decided to go ahead and use that on the top section.. John helped me get it up there and pull it tight, then we attached it to the wood strips using the electric stapler... 

 I called it a day, cause I was pooped out! But not bad for one days work. 

Day Two

I tightened the roof line wood strips to the door frames using zip ties and, what I call, steel bandaids...

I had purchased a roll of 

Warp Brothers 6CH20-C 6 Mil Clear Plastic Sheeting, 20-Foot by 25-Foot

plastic from Amazon to use on the hoophouse.. I'm not sure how well this will hold up, but we had spent quite a bit on the greenhouse plastic for the 1st hoophouse and knew we didn't want to spend that much again. Quite a few people left feedback for this product on Amazon saying they had used it on their hoophouse with good results.. 

So, the next job was to add this roll of plastic.. It's actually really easy to handle. John and I unrolled it so it was the length of the hoophouse, then we both got up on step ladders and walked it up and over the roof.. Since I planned on using the poly windows along the bottom, I only stretched this around the top half of the hoophouse.. 

I cut off the excess to use on the doorways and then stapled it to the wood frame all the way around, wrapping it around the doorways and stapling in place for a tight fit.. 

Once I had all the plastic securely stapled in place, I started adding the poly windows around the bottom.. That part was really easy.. I just screwed them along the tops and bottom of each window into the wooden frame.. The poly didn't crack and didn't require a pilot hole.. Easy peasy. Of course, if you don't have poly windows left over from a collapsed Rion sunroom laying around, just attaching the plastic all the way to the ground would work just as well.. 

I used the new Gorilla Clear Outdoor tape to seal the seams between each window (the windows are 24" x 48" each).
The Gorilla tape worked okay for this, but it is expensive.. You don't get very much on a roll and my husband had to run downtown and buy two more rolls of it for me, and that still wasn't enough.. We both went down to the hardware store to get more, but noticed they had Scotch tough transparent duck tape, so I suggested we try a roll of that instead, especially since it had 20 yards to a roll compared to only 9 yards on the Gorilla Tape for just a few dollars more. 

As it turned out, some of the gorilla tape released after a thunderstorm, but the duck tape has held tight. I redid all the windows with the duck tape. So far, so good.. No leaks or split seams. 

I still had to do the doors, but first wanted to get everything planted.. We didn't have much luck last year with our plants.. They grew, but just kind of fizzled out and didn't produce much. We decided that "powerful" dirt we purchased was most likely the culprit, so we decided to invest in several bags of Dairy Doo.. 


I don't know if other states carry Dairy Doo, but it is fantastic stuff!! 
It's bascially cow poo.. 

It's sold by Morgan Composting, Inc, which is a family owned business here in Michigan. 

I dumped a bag of the Dairy Doo in each box and mixed it in well with a hoe.. Then I planted the veggies we had purchased at a local farm market. 

The lettuce in the black container came up voluntarily, as did the flowers in the center box.. Looking at the picture of that box last year, I don't even see these flowers.. I'm really not sure how they came to be, but they are beautiful!

This was as far as I could go because we had a granddaughters graduation and a family get together in Southern Michigan to attend.. 

The following week I had lots of orders to work on so I didn't have time to get back to the hoophouse for almost two weeks.. The weather channel was reporting a threat of frost (on June 13... REDUNKULOUS), so I had to get the doors up fast.. We had a grandson's graduation party to attend on the 14th, so I had one day to get the job done.. 

I decided to make simple roll up doors, both because they would be fast to get up, and also because I want the hoophouse to be really open all summer so lots of ventilation and bees can get inside.. 

I put up identical doors on the front and back, using 2 sheets of the plastic for double protection. I attached PVC poles along the sides and bottom of the doorway with screws, and attached the plastic door along the top with the staple gun. I then put a thin piece of wood over the plastic and screwed it in place for a tight fit.. 

I have a bright pink roll of velcro that I never seem to use, so I decided to use it for the doorways.. The longer strip is on the inside of the door, and is the soft side of velcro. The little strip across the top is screwed into place and is the rough side.. I've had the doors rolled up now for 2 weeks and the velcro is holding great. 

When unrolled, I attached pvc clips (purchased from Amazon), clamping the plastic tight against the frame, keeping the cold out! 

From the inside, it looks tight as a drum. Should make a good seal once the weather turns chilly this fall. 

I closed up both doors and we left for the graduation party.. The greenhouse was closed up for 2 days.. When we got back, the doors were still tight as could be, even though there had been high winds here, and all the plants were snug as a bug in a rug.. 

Two weeks later and everything is looking great.. 

Of course, time will be the test. We'll see how the plants do and if we get a good crop this year. I'm thrilled knowing I can start closing the hoophouse up mid August and not have to worry about a random frost doing in the garden.. 

I also want to see how long we can actually grow things up here in Northern Michigan. I've read that other people have continued growing in their hoop houses through November. I've already purchased another roll of plastic, which I'm going to use as another layer on the hoop house once we start getting chilly weather up here. We also have a little heater we plan to use in there once it gets chilly.. 

Crossing my fingers the hoop house will provide us with lots of fresh veggies into the fall and provide us with enough canned produce to use all winter long!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Rion Lean-to Greenhouse Sunroom.. Our experience...Manufactured by Palram Industries

I have always wanted an endless pool... It's been a dream of mine for a long time, but I knew we couldn't afford one, and even if we could, there's a lot of other things more important than spending money on one, since they cost $10,000 and up.. 

Somehow I found out about the Fitmax iPool, which is an exercise/therapy pool that costs a fraction of the endless pools... I got really excited about the idea of buying one of those pools and having a body of water to exercise and swim in... But where to put it? 

Living in Northern Michigan, I knew it'd be really hard to keep it warm, and clean, if it was sitting outside.. We had already had an above ground pool for a couple of years that proved to be too chilly to swim in most of the time and it was next to impossible to keep pine needles out of it, since we're surrounded by jack pine trees... 

I put my little thinking cap on and came up with the idea of building a sun room that would house the iPool... I spent weeks looking at diy plans and kits to build your own sunroom.. I found lots of info on the Rion Lean-to Greenhouse Sunroom, and I was really intrigued.. 

The reviews I found on their products were glowing and they were advertised as a "snap" to put together..I contacted the company, Backyard Living Source, and asked them all kinds of questions, and got all the right answers.. 

 After a lot of consideration, and I mean a LOT of consideration, we decided to go with Rion.. After all, they're warranted for 7 years and they have a picture of a greenhouse with men standing on top of it on one of their websites, not to mention bookoo pictures of them covered with snow a foot deep... And the fact that they're a snap to put together, and priced better than aluminum framed sunrooms, made the choice seem like the smartest one we could make.. They claim the frame is stronger and longer enduring than aluminum frames, and with a 7 year warranty, surly it would be expected to last at least 7 years and beyond.. 

Silly us...

First, we built a very strong and secure deck to hold it. We dug 42" footers to make sure we were well below the frost line and added more footers than necessary to make sure it could hold the weight of the pool.. 

The Rion sunrooms are 6' wide, and since we wanted the room to be 10' wide, we put up the frame for a 4' wall extension and added a 4' roof extension..

We were very careful to insure we were using the correct height given by the Rion company to insure this would work with the sun room.. Rion lists the height of their sun rooms as being 7'11".. We followed their measurement guideline to the letter.. That was mistake #1...

This is how the Rion greenhouses and sunrooms arrive at your home by UPS.. 

Each section comes in it's own box. We had purchased a 20' sun room as well as a 10' one, to be used as a greenhouse. Silly, silly us... 

Each box contains the windows panels and frame pieces, which are all apart. There are a zillion pieces, each with a part number molded into the part. The problem with this is that the part number is very hard to read, since it's the same color as the rest of the part. You have to go through each box and sort the parts into piles before you begin to make sure you have all the correct parts and/or to make sure none of them are damaged.. This isn't easy since many, many of the parts look just alike, but are just slightly different in size.. 

We did have quite a few broken parts, but since we had purchased two different kits, we were able to swap out parts.. I contacted the Rion company, and to their credit, they did ship out the replacement parts very quickly. 

Once you have all the parts sorted (this took us an entire day), you start putting the frame together. Unfortunately, the manual isn't as good as it could be and we had to figure out quite a bit as we went... The bottom part of the sunroom was relatively easy to put together..Once you have the frame pieces together, the windows just slide in pretty easily.. This however, was the only easy part of the sunroom. 

When we started adding the sides, we realized the sunroom is actually 8', not 7'11" like the manual and the Rion website stated.. This created a problem because we had built the roof line at 7'11".. We had to readjust the roof line, which wasn't an easy task. Thank goodness we hadn't built the wall extensions yet. 

I contacted them telling them it was actually 8' tall, not 7'11" and it had created a bit of a problem for us.. I've noticed on many of their websites, they have changed the height to 8', although some of them still list it as being 7'11"... If you decide to buy one of these, just know that they are 8' tall.. 

The manual tells you to build the roof frame on the ground, not too far from the structure, and then lift it into place... That was mistake #2..

We followed the directions and then tried to lift it.. Bahahahahahhah.. What a joke.. The only way you would be able to lift a 20' roof is to have someone holding each section.. Each section is 2' wide, so you would need 10 people to lift this size.. We live up North away from family and all our neighbors are senior citizens (like us).. We didn't have 8 additional available people to lift this thing up.. 

No matter how we tried, lifting it meant parts popped apart..We gave up on that idea after a couple of hours and took it apart and reassembled it one section at a time, connecting it to the bottom frame as we went...

The parts are suppose to be a snap to put together with no tools required.. It's true you don't need any conventional tools, but you do have to use this little wooded tool the include with a small Allen wrench sticking out the end.. You use that to insert there little plastic connectors where each part meets.. The tool in itself is very uncomfortable to hold and use.. The tool is cut at a slant on the other end, which is suppose to assist you in inserting rubber tubing around each window.. As you use it to insert the plastic connectors, the slanted part is stabbing the palm of your hand.. When you use it for the rubber tubing, the Allen wrench stabs your palm.. Let's just say, it's a stupid tool. 

The parts however, do not "snap" together easily.. They are incredibly hard to fit together and require brute strength.. Once you get the frame up, you have to insert the windows, which are suppose to glide easily in the little grooves on the side of the plastic frames.. As we found out, the windows do not glide along the plastic easily. In fact, pounding the ends of the windows with the palm of your hands will move it about 1/8" each pound.. Each window took an hour or more to get in place.. You then have to add this long plastic part to the top of each frame piece, which is intended to keep the window in place.. That part is a nightmare to snap down.. Most of them pop out of the groove after you get half of it in place, meaning you have to start all over.. there are also chambers at the top and bottom of each window that the windows need to stick in.. It's not hard to get the windows into the top chamber, but you have to slightly bend the window to get it in the bottom chamber.. Not an easy thing to do.. More times than not, this caused the window to completely pop out of the grooves, so we'd have to start all over again...

The directions say over and over again that soaking the pieces in soapy water will ease putting them together.. We had those parts soaking for hours, and then for days.. It didn't aid in putting them together in the least. 

Days later, when you finally have the thing together, you have to take this skinny rubber tubing and stick it between the windows and the frame all around the bottom and side pieces.. They also suggest you soak this before using to ease the application. Again.. soaked it...didn't help a bit.. 

Once done you realize there are little gaps where each window ends. They give you little dark gray foamy inserts to stick in these holes.. They look ugly and won't stay put very long.. As soon as the temperature changes from day to night, they expand or shrink, depending on the temps, and pop out of place.. We ended up sealing every hole with silicone (as per a customer service rep at Rion)... 

Each sunroom comes with a vented roof window.. We soon discovered ours leaked like the titantic... I sealed it with silicone but it never did stop leaking.. I contacted them about it, and they did send me a new window.. However, after getting it I realized how impossible it would be to replace it, as it was in the middle of the sunroom.. There would be no way to insert the long plastic pieces that keep the window in place. You have to add those after inserting each window by standing on a ladder in the unfinished window spot next to it.. Another option is to slide that long piece into place from ground level using a mallet.. I used that method on the smaller lean-to we put up.. It worked but was actually more difficult and the piece usually popped out of place half way up the part, so I'd have to pull it back down and start again.. There just simply is no easy way to put these things together.

We finally did finish the sunroom, working morning to night.. It took us almost 2 weeks to complete the sunroom, including inserting all the tubing (that took days). We then finished off the wall extensions with tongue and groove boards (we also insulated them) and sealed off every spot we could find where air could get in.. 

Now that it was built, we could finally put up the exercise pool.. The pole in the middle was for extra strength.. We wanted to make this as strong as possible.. the foam boards were put down for added insulation for the pool and also to make the floor of it more comfortable.

We added the iPool and filled it..   

Then put chairs and plants in the space left so we had a nice little sunroom along with the pool area.. 

I loved it.. I really, really did.... We were so proud of what we'd built and so pleased with the way it looked.. 

Then winter came, and after the first snowfall, one of the windows popped though, landing a pile of snow in the empty pool.. 

Try as we might, we could not get that window back in place.. My husband ended up making a temporary window out of a clear pvc roofing panel from home depot. It was enough to keep any more snow from getting in... We contacted Rion, and they did send us a new panel, saying that there are two sizes of window panels, almost identical, but one is slightly small, and sometimes they get mixed when packing the boxes. The customer service rep felt we had probably gotten one of the smaller panels by accident and that's why it popped out.. 

Okay, we accepted that and appreciated them sending us a new panel, even though we couldn't fix it till spring because of the snow.. 

I had also talked to her about the door and the fact that there is no way to seal it properly, so rain and snow got in.. We had sealed it off with a piece of insulation board for the winter, but needed a better solution.. She sent us a box of rubber tubing and some rubber stripping stuff to see if that helped.. It didn't, but I appreciate that she tried to help.. The problem was not  with her, it's with a door that was engineered stupidly!

Other than the one panel popping through, the sunroom did hold up nicely through the winter.. Although, we did need to go out and clean it off every time it snowed...

Once it thawed and the snow around the sun room had melted, we got the new panel in and everything seemed good again.. I filled my pool in March and was exercising in it when it was snowing outside.. It was chilly in there, but because the pool had a heater, it was very enjoyable.. 

The next summer, we noticed more and more leaks and realized how hot the house was in the middle of summer because there wasn't really much ventilation to the sunroom.. On top of that, the door had to be left open to get air, but there is no way to attach a screen. Because the door frame is plastic, you can't attach a screen door to it.. I tried attaching one of those instant screen thingies they show on tv, the ones that attach with velcro, but the sticky stuff on the back of the velcro just melted from the heat and slid off, taking the screen with it..I tried sewing a seam on the top of the screen (like a curtain panel) and using a tension curtain rod, but it kept sliding down the plastic door frame. We ended up propping a sliding door screen in front of it, which was very inconvenient, but if we left it open, we had a room, and pool, full of bugs...

Once fall arrived, we were worried that more windows could possibly pop out, so we decided to cover the sun room with a huge clear solar blanket.. It was expensive, and a bear to get up there, but it did seem to protect the windows, stopped the constant leaking and helped insulate it.. It also created a surface where snow just slid off of it.. 

The next summer, we weren't sure what to do. Should we take the blanket off and put up with constant leaks? We ended up leaving the blanket there and put a greenhouse tarp on the top to create shade..We tried a number of things to stop the vented window from leaking, but nothing worked..  Leaving it covered with the blanket was the only thing that finally stopped the leak.. 

By now, our pretty sunroom wasn't so pretty looking anymore and we weren't enjoying it like we had in the beginning.. We could sit out there in the spring or the fall, but it was too hot to use in the summer, other than to use the pool, and too cold in the winter.. We also had to keep the door to the house shut in the summer to keep the hot air out.. 

It was nice in the spring because it would get warm in there.. We could open the door to the house and get free heat.. Same in the fall, but for the little bit of time this was beneficial, it really wasn't a big bonus.. 

Fast forward to 2014.. The sun room is now 3 1/2 years old.. We've had a bitter cold winter, the coldest my husband and I can remember in our lives.. One night in January, we heard, what sounded like, a small earthquake... It was pitch black out that night and we couldn't really see what had happened looking out the windows.. It was also well below zero, so we weren't about to go out in the middle of the night and wade through snow to find out.. 

In the morning, this is what we found..

It appears the frame broke on one, or both, ends and the rest of it just imploded.. 

You can see here that one of the bracket pieces just snapped.. That piece should be 3 times as long.. 

Our pool is damaged, the antique hutch has water damage, a tv, dvd, couch and some fans were all destroyed..

Rion states that these sun rooms can hold a snow load up to 1100 lbs.. We have had a lot of snow this year, but with the solar blanket in place, much of it slid off... We really wonder if the frame became really brittle because of the freezing cold temps.. We don't know why else it would just shatter like it did.. There were small, broken pieces all over inside the sunroom.. 

I contacted Rion right after it happened, asking what their 7 year warranty covers.. In fact, I have asked them that question 3 times now.. No one will tell me.. I just keep being told the situation is being handed over to the manager, and then to Palram Applications who actually manufacture them.. No one from that company has been in contact with me. It has now been over 6 weeks and they have done nothing but give me the run around.. 

We do not want another Rion greenhouse/sunroom kit.. But we would like to be compensated for a product that has a 7 year warranty, but only lasted half that time frame.. We also want to warn other people about what can happen with these Rion kits.. We wish we had seen an honest review before we purchased ours...

Would I recommend Rion products? No way, no how.. Putting them together is anything but easy, they have problems with leaking and windows that pop out, and now this.. They very obviously are not built to withstand a harsh winter.. 

As for their glowing reviews...I have tried leaving honest reviews on their sites since we put this thing up, giving both cons and pros to their product.. I gave it 3 stars and marked that I would not recommend them to others.. But they will not print my review.. I have tried multiple times to leave a review, mostly now as a game to see if they will print a mostly negative review or not.. They won't!! No wonder they have glowing reviews.. They ignore the ones people are leaving pointing out problems with these products... 

In the last couple of years, after a lot of digging, I did find other forums with reviews on the Rion products.. The problems we've had are very, very common among Rion owners. Most state they would never buy another Rion product again.. 

As I mentioned, we foolishly bought two of these.. The other one is a 10' lean-to we use as a green house.. There are no wall extensions. It butts up to the house, under the eves... We did not build a foundation for it, but rather dug a trench and put 4x4's in it, then attached the sunroom to the 4x4's.. We've had problems with that one, too.. The windows leak and the top looks sunken.. One of the windows popped through last winter and we've never been able to get it to stay in properly. We have a pole propped up to keep it from popping through.. 

We'll be taking that one down this summer and using the windows in a greenhouse we intend to build with a wooden frame.. 

It really is too bad these greenhouses aren't what they say they are.. Maybe they would be great in warmer climate, but then again, maybe the heat would do them in... And now that I think about it, even if it didn't break down, there's still the problem with the constant leaking, gaps between windows and the door that doesn't seal properly... 

Ours is now gone.. We had a builder come tear it down and rebuild with an enclosed porch.. They did an awesome job and even took all the sun room debris away.. Other than the smaller lean-to we will be taking down this summer, our once beautiful sun room is just a bad memory... 

If you are buying one, or have bought one, I hope you have better luck than we have... I give the Rion company 5 stars for customer service (up until now when they're giving me the runaround), but as far as this snap together greenhouse/sunroom goes... 0 out of 5 stars... Not worth the hassle...

UPDATE: It's now been over 6 months. We purchased this sunroom from Backyard Living Source, through their website. They kept passing the buck where the warranty is concerened, and finally told us they'd sent our claim on to Palram Industries in Israel.. 

We were a bit shocked, since we didn't realize we had purchased this thing from a company in Israel, let alone Palram Industries.. Nothing on the boxes or the product itself had the name of Palram on it. 

That company has just ignored us.. The other day I found their website and sent a message through their website stating we have waited over 6 months for them to cover the warranty. 

I received an email today simply stating our problem is not covered under the manufacturers warranty. Backyard living source say they aren't responsible because Palram Industries must cover damages like this. 

Palram also sent me an email copy of their so called warranty. It completely and totally protects them from absolutely ANY damage done to these products.. It completely and totally removes any product protection for the company. 

In other words, this company does not stand behind their product and if you look for Palram Industries, they are now advertising a lot of greenhouse's under that name.. 

If I were you, I'd look for an American company that will stand behind their product..