Sunday, May 24, 2020

The Best Lawn Repair Product - Tested and Approved

We've used this product for years - works every time,
Highly Recommended!
Scotts EZ Seed Lawn Repair tested, approved, and now, reviewed.

It's a combination of mulch, seed, and fertilizer.

We've lived in our home for the past 26 years. We bought the house new and tackled our own landscaping.

In the early 1990's we put in about 52 small cedar trees around our backyard fence. The trees have since grown to about 25 feet tall.

Cedar trees require a lot of moisture and can slowly eat away your lawn - or so we discovered. We replaced our backyard lawn three times until I found EZ Seed Lawn Repair about ten years ago.

Why Scotts EZ Seed Lawn Repair?

In between our lawn replacements in those early years, we tried the usual - spread topsoil and add lawn seed. Nah, that sucked. It was still sparse in spots and didn't have the tidy finished look I personally prefer.

I also tried another lawn repair product by a popular competitor. Nope, it didn't take nearly as well as Scotts EZ Seed. I used the competitor's seed on one section, and Scotts on the other, and Scotts won the battle hands-down.

Scotts advertises that their seed consists of continuous release lawn food with super-absorbent growing material making it possible to grow grass anywhere. Yep, that's true. This stuff works.

How and Where I Use the EZ Seed Lawn Repair

I buy two large bags every year - our backyard lawn area is smaller - probably 600 square feet if I had to guess.

1. Wearing gloves, I scoop out handfuls and place the seed where it's needed  - I don't dump it from the bag - it's pricey stuff - so I place the handfuls of seed exactly where I want it.

2. I put seed along the entire perimeter of our cedar trees - the cedar trees eat away a good chunk of lawn, so I'll fill in the dead areas completely with seed.

3. I'll spread the seed about 1/8 of an inch thick, and evenly.

4. Once the perimeter of the trees is completed, I then fill in the thin areas in the center parts of the lawn.

5. Oh, and I don't do much to prep the lawn - just rake it - and sometimes sprinkle it with some water if it's bone dry dirt.

6. I've also used it in between our neighbor's driveway and ours - the grass just didn't grow well there and like I mentioned above, regular grass seed didn't take. So I used EZ Seed Lawn Repair, and yep, the lawn is now thick and lush. The stuff is amazing.

7. Water it every day! When you put this on your grass (in large sections) - don't cut the grass for four to six weeks. It needs time to grow. You have to water it. When I first put it on the lawn I'll water it by hand with the hose on a light spray setting. Once the lawn starts to grow, I'll use the sprinkler.

The clean edges of grass that come right up to the patio and trees are what I prefer - This photo is after the last sod was put in over ten years ago - Using Scotts EZ Seed keeps our lawn looking like this every year

In this photo, I've edged the lawn with Scotts EZ Seed - Turns out perfect every time
This picture is from a year or two ago

I highly recommend this product. It is pricey but in my opinion, worth every penny. We haven't had to resod our lawn. The lawn regains it's thick lush appearance with EZ Seed.

Today was the day I spruced up the lawn for spring/summer 2020. The EZ Seed project is all done for another year.

Oh, and yep, we've never had to resod the lawn since we started using Scotts EZ Seed.

Here's my other DIY gardening solution for areas of the yard where grass won't grow at all!

Scotts EZ Seed is Available on Amazon.




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Saturday, May 23, 2020

The Haunting of Hill House Reviewed

I have just finished the Netflix television series The Haunting of Hill House that Esquire coined as a spookier version of This is Us.   Not exactly how I would describe it!

The Haunting of Hill House, Television Series, Reviewed


I should also note that it is available to watch on Amazon Prime in the US (not sure about other markets), so if you don't have Netflix you can still watch it.

The series is based on the 1959 Gothic horror novel of the same name by Shirley Jackson.   I had actually watched the 1999 movie The Haunting that was also based on this book and although the critics panned it, I enjoyed it as I love psychological horror movies.   By the way, the series is very different to the film so it doesn't matter whether you've seen it or not.

It has been very hard to get my husband to watch any suspenseful or psychological horror films with me over the past couple of decades so when I saw this series I knew I would have to watch it by myself.   I stayed up late at night watching it and I loved it.

The series runs through two timelines (which is where the connection to This is Us comes from), the first is of the Craine family's childhood as they live in Hill House as children before their mother commits suicide in the house.

The second timeline is of them as adults and they are brought together when their youngest sister goes back to Hill House to commit suicide.

Each episode reveals to us how the different family members were impacted by their childhood in the haunted mansion.   I found I was eager to keep watching the next episode.   The youngest twin Nell was haunted during her childhood by the bent neck lady and in the episode aptly named the Bent-Neck Lady there is a surprising twist that I wasn't expecting as to the identity of this lady.

I was a little disappointed by how the season ended, but if I'm honest I'm not sure that I would've been happy with any ending.

I think the actors were perfectly picked for their characters and acted their roles really well, I found myself completely drawn into the series.  I recommended it to my daughter and my husband told her that he didn't need to watch it as he'd listened to my commentary, ' don't go, oh you had to go there didn't you?', I do not recall having that conversation with the television, but it is very plausable!

If you can sleep after watching supernatural dramas that are full of suspense then I thoroughly recommend this one.   Apparently they are bringing out a second season based on another family and another house.   I'll be honest I probably won't watch that one as I feel like this was a one season show. 

Definitely worth a quiet night in and a big bag of popcorn.

More Television Series | Mini Series to Enjoy


If you don't fancy this television series I can also recommend the following shows (although please note I've only watched one season of Shetland):

Thirteen (2016 TV Mini-Series)Thirteen (2016 TV Mini-Series)
This mini-series starts with a young 26 year old woman running out of a house for a payphone and claiming to be a girl called Ivy who was last seen 13 years ago. Is it really her and what has happened over the last 13 years?


Good Omens 2019 TV MiniseriesGood Omens 2019 TV Miniseries
David Tennant and Martin Sheen are absolutely outstanding in this adaptation of Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman's book Good Omens. Even if you've never read the book you will love the writing and the chemistry between these two characters representing good and evil.


Upload, an Amazon Prime TV SeriesReviewing the Amazon Prime TV Series Upload
This dark comedy is based in the year 2033 where death doesn't always mean it's all over. If you have the money you can choose to upload your consciousness and memories into a virtual 'afterlife' where you can stay forever


Shetland Series ReviewedShetland Series Reviewed
Shetland is a crime drama set in the picturesque Scottish Shetland Islands, the main character is DI Jimmy Perez who's also a single father. The scenery is beautiful and the plots are full of twists which make them very watchable.


Reviewing Agatha Christie's the ABC MurdersReviewing Agatha Christie's the ABC Murders
The ABC Murders is definitely one of Agatha Christie's best novels, this adaptation does take some liberties that a purist may not like, but it is still an enjoyable mini series to watch.


The Widow Series ReviewedThe Widow Series Reviewed
This series starts with English widow seeing a news article where she believes she spots her late husband alive and well in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Of course this leads to her flying out to DRC in search of him, the series has twists and turns, suspense and action and is thoroughly recommended.


Reviewing Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan - The TV SeriesReviewing Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan - The TV Series
Jack Ryan is a character who was born in a novel by Tom Clancy, the son of a Baltimore cop and a nurse who serves as a marine before becoming a history teacher and finally joining the CIA. A few of the books were made into blockbuster movies and now we have a television series.


And Then There Were None - The Mini SeriesAnd Then There Were None - The Mini-Series
Based on an Agatha Christie novel this is one of her darker novels and is based in the 1930s around a nursery rhyme called 10 Little Indians/10 Little Soldiers. It will keep you guessing right up to the end.





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Friday, May 22, 2020

Bartact Mil-Spec Super Seat Covers for Jeep Wranglers Reviewed

We recently purchased an old Jeep Wrangler and my husband has spent a great deal of time restoring it.  I only had one request when he purchased the old jeep.  I asked him to buy new seat covers for it even though the original seat covers were still in good shape.

The jeep was very dirty inside and out when he got it. Apparently, the previous owner drove on muddy trails with the top off and the windows down, often.  The seat covers were filthy.  

My husband took the seats completely out of the jeep and spent three days vacuuming, cleaning, disinfecting, and cleaning them again.  He let me pick out the new seat covers which would slip over the original covers.  I spent about as many days looking at different options, but always returned to the Bartact seat covers.  They were more expensive, but there were excellent reasons for the price.  I felt the extra cost was well worth the added benefits.



Features of the Bartact Mil-Spec Super Seat Covers


Because I compared them to several other brands, I will tell you the features that stood out to me and influenced my final choice decision. 

  • Two Storage Packets (placement adjustable & attached to seat backs) 
  • Zippered rear pocket and zippered front pocket.  If you want to ride on jeep trails, having permanent zippered storage pockets is essential.
  • Easy Installation - It took us approximately 15 minutes to install both front seat covers. 
  • High grade waterproof-backed polyester fabric which is cool to the touch
  • Pre-cut slits for the seat belts and seat adjustment latch levers
  • Foam backing for added comfort
  • Mil-Spec - means made to US military standards 
  • Front Seat Covers are Sold in Pairs of 2
  • Made in USA

I listed the pouches and the zipper pockets first because I consider them essential.  In the jeep, there is very little storage.  Only a glove compartment is in our jeep.  There is no center console.  

My husband enjoys the jeep "feel" when exploring off-road jeep trails in our National Parks.  Me, I like to take pictures.  Therefore, I carry my camera supplies, like various size lenses and a spare battery.  The pouches on the seat backs are a better option for my camera than a separate camera bag bouncing around in the floor.

I also carry my "go bag" with us on our day trips.  Public restrooms are a necessity when we are out and about for 8 - 12 hours and I am a firm believer in carrying my own supplies.  (You can read about how I assemble my own public restroom survival kit here.)

Because the top and the windows on our jeep are removable, having waterproof backed seat covers is also essential.  You never know when a little black rain cloud will float overhead.



Installing Bartact Mil-Spec Super Seat Covers on Jeep Wrangler Seats


Installing the Bartact seat covers is super easy!  

You simply pull them over the existing seat covers, lining up the holes with the seat belts and the seat tilt levers.  Pull the velcroed panels between the cushions and press the large Velco pieces together.  

In minutes, you have beautiful new seat covers beckoning you to go for a ride.  

Watch this guy put on his seat covers.  
 


Limited Availability on Amazon - For a larger variety of colors, I recommend Quadratec.com




Jeep Owners, You May Also Enjoy: 


 

Floor Liners For Jeep ReviewedFloor Liners For Jeep Reviewed

Find the perfect fit for floor liner in your Jeep or any vehicle. What I like about this particular brand of floor liners is that they are digitally measured and molded to fit the interior of specific models of vehicles.



Reviewing the Smittybilt Tent for JeepsReviewing the Smittybilt Tent for Jeeps

The Smittybilt Tent - With a jeep roof rack, you can mount, carry, & sleep in a tent on the top of the jeep. Keep that tent off the ground, high and dry even in bad weather and sleep like two snuggle bunnies.



Backseat Barker Dog Bed for SUV or Jeep ReviewBackseat Barker Dog Bed for SUV or Jeep Review

The Backseat Barker is the best dog bed for a car, SUV or jeep available! 3" bottom foam with side pillows for comfort and protection.




Read More Product Reviews On
ReviewThisProducts.com

 


House of Sylvestermouse




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Thursday, May 21, 2020

The Honey Bus - Book Review

Read an Excerpt
Honey has long been known as the elixir of life.  For Meredith May, a young child whose life had been turned upside down and inside out by parental discord, the miraculous powers of honey, bees, and her beekeeper grandfather would be a vital lifeline.  To read Meredith's memoir, The Honey Bus, is to be mesmerized by how honeybees took the raw material of a confused girl and turned her into something golden.

At five years of age, May found herself uprooted from everything familiar.  Due to the divorce of her parents, Meredith and her brother were suddenly moved cross-country to live with their grandfather in California.  This was an incredibly upsetting, and confusing, turn of events.  For May, things no longer made sense, as no one had explained what was happening.  To make matters worse, her mother barricaded herself behind a bedroom door, and entered a seemingly endless season of child abandonment.

Sensing the need for connection, nurturing, and something to fill the deep hole in his granddaughter's psyche, Franklin Peace began to introduce Meredith to the wonders of beekeeping.  That journey began with a flurry of bee stings—which would terrorize most children.  Counter to what one might expect, the temporary pain of that surprise attack by swarming bees built up a kind of immunity to the deeper sting of feeling alone in the world.

Like a bee drawn to honey, May's curiosity about the rusty old Army bus in her grandfather's back yard was not to be denied.  The ramshackle honey bus was the object of Meredith's great desire.  She longed to be granted entry into that portal, for she knew that magical things happened inside her grandfather's top secret laboratory.  On the day when she was finally deemed old enough for a membership into the honey bus's secret society, May's joy knew no bounds.

As her grandfather's beekeeping apprentice, Meredith not only entered into the fantastical world of honeybees, but more importantly, she found her forever family.
Bees need the warmth of family.  Alone, a single bee isn't likely to make it through the night.  A beehive revolves around one principle—the family.  I knew that gnawing need for a family.
May's sage, quietly unassuming grandfather used the language of bees to reveal the ancient ways that were relevant to learning how to persevere through collective strength.  As she fed off of this Way of the Bees, Meredith learned all that she could not learn from her birth parents.  It was the bees that were, in essence, raising her.  From them, the author gained insight into compassion and how to thrive by caring for others. 



In following Meredith through the mystical portal into honeybee society, we find ourselves joining in the dance of the bees.  You will revel in the poetry of what it is to be in the presence of sacred creatures that exist for the greater good.  The artistry of Meredith May's writing was, to this reader, the sweetest of nectars.

Just as honeybees make themselves essential through their generosity, this book is essential reading in that it gives us what we need to enter into the bee's state of grace.  Bees give far more than they ever take.  Spending time in The Honey Bus has given me the desire to be more of what someone else might need right now.  And, perhaps, that is the true elixir of life.









Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Copper Chef Black Diamond Nonstick Cookware Review

Copper Chef Black Diamond nonstick cookware has a diamond-reinforced, black ceramic coating and textured cooking surface that make these pans the most durable, scratch-resistant, best-performing nonstick cookware I've tried — and I've tried a lot!
Image - title and photo collage for Copper Chef Black Diamond Nonstick Cookware review by Margaret Schindel
©2020 Margaret Schindel, all rights reserved
Several years ago, I began replacing our large collection of old nonstick cookware. All the pans had visible scratches in the coating after years of use, so they no longer had their nonstick qualities. I also didn't want to risk the possibility of accidentally ingesting a speck (or flake) of loosened Teflon, especially since the older Teflon coatings were manufactured with PFOA.

Since I had a lot of pans to replace (my husband and I both cook a lot!), I research the newest generation of nonstick coating options and cookware. I tried a T-Fal skillet and, later, an OXO Good Grips nonstick frying pan, both recommended by Cook's Illustrated at the time, as well as a highly-rated set of two skillets from Sur La Table, but I found they scratched too easily for my household's needs (my husband tends to be a bit hard on pans!).

Original Copper Chef Nonstick Cookware

A few years ago, my mother-in-law bought us a set of the original Copper Chef pans, after she had bought herself some and loved them. Admittedly, I was skeptical about the quality of "As Seen on TV" nonstick cookware purchased from an infomercial, and I didn't immediately understand the appeal of a square skillet or pot. But I soon discovered how much better and more durable the ceramic nonstick cooking surface was, compared to the others I had tried.

The set John's mother gifted us came with a square 9.5" fry pan, a square deep 9.5" pan, a square basket insert for deep frying or draining (e.g., pasta), a steamer insert, a slightly domed, square tempered glass lid that fits both pans, and a cookbook. Since the exact set she got us is no longer available, I've provided a link to a newer version, identical to ours except for the added set of 4 nonstick-safe cooking utensils. You can learn more about one of the original Copper Chef pans from my fellow Review This Reviews contributor Cynthia (Sylvestermouse), in her review of the original Copper Chef square fry pan.

After six or so months of heavy use, my husband and I were pleasantly surprised at how well the two pans my mother-in-law had given us were holding up, so we decided to start slowly investing in more Copper Chef cookware. We were using the shallow fry pan the most, so we bought the Copper Chef Square Fry Pan 5 Piece Set, which includes an 9.5-inch square griddle pan with a glass lid (that also fits the two pans we received as gifts), a larger 11" square griddle pan with a glass lid, and an 8" ridged grill pan.

Copper Chef Black Diamond Nonstick Cookware — Even Better Than the Original!

A year or so later, we had enough experience with the durability of the CeramiTech coating and the excellent heat conductivity of the built-in stainless steel induction plates on our glass stovetop to confidently expand our collection further. This time, when I looked on Amazon to see what other sizes and types were available, I discovered there was a new, improved line: Copper Chef Black Diamond nonstick cookware.

Boxed 5-piece set of stackable space-saving Copper Chef Black Diamond nonstick cookware
My first Copper Chef Black Diamond 5-piece stacking non-stick cookware set
©2020 Margaret Schindel, all rights reserved

We chose the Copper Chef Stackable Black Diamond 5-piece Non-Stick Fry Pan Set, which comes with a 9.5" square grill pan (with grilling ridges), a 9.5" square griddle pan with the raised diamond pattern interior bottom, a 4.5-quart, 9.5" deep square pan with the same raised texture on the inside bottom, two 9.5" tempered glass square lids (which fit all three pans, as well as most of our other Copper Chef pans), and a recipe book.

View of textured interior bottoms of Copper Chef Black Diamond nonstick pans in 5-piece set
Raised 3D interior texture on Black Diamond pans
©2020 Margaret Schindel, all rights reserved

Diamond Reinforced Ceramic Coating + 3D Textured Interior Bottom = Even Less Sticking

Not only are these pans extremely attractive, with their copper-colored exteriors and black interiors, they also are more durable, because the CeramiTech nonstick coating is reinforced with thousands of tiny diamond particles. In addition, the inside bottoms of the Copper Chef Black Diamond pans (except the ridged grill pans, which don't need it) have a raised, diamond pattern surface, rather than the original, totally flat surface, which enhances their nonstick performance.

Oven-Safe Coating

The deep square pan also works well as a casserole, since the pans are oven safe. The CeramiTech diamond-reinforced ceramic nonstick coating on the inside, and the regular CeramiTech coating (the same as on the original CC pans) is temperature-resistant up to 850° F. The tempered glass lids, however, are only temperature-resistant up to 350° F, so make sure not to exceed that temperature (or let the glass lids get too close to the heating elements), or just cover your casserole with aluminum foil.

Quick and Easy Cleanup After Cooking

After cooking, just let the pans cool to room temperature before washing. They clean up quickly and easily with just a sponge, mild liquid dish soap and hot water. Alternatively, you can fill them with hot, soapy water and let them sit until you're ready to do the dishes after you've finished your meal.

Space-Saving, Stackable Design For Convenient Storage, Even in Small Kitchens


All three pans can be stacked, a space-saving feature we love and took advantage of until my husband finally built us a wall-mounted bar of hanging hooks for storing our growing collection of nonstick pots, pans and lids in our very small galley kitchen.

Image of 3 Copper Chef Black Diamond square nonstick pans, stacked, with lids
The pans stack compactly in this space saving cookware design
©2020 Margaret Schindel, all rights reserved

When the two frying pans (flat bottom and grill pan) and the deep pan (more like a saucepan or pot) are stacked, the collective dimensions, including the long handles, are 19.5" X 10 X 7.75" — not a lot of space for two frying pans and a pot, each with 25% more cooking area than round equivalents!

Not All Brands of Copper Ceramic Coated Nonstick Cookware Perform Well!

As we expanded our collection, we tried pans with copper ceramic nonstick coating from a few other brands and discovered that, while they may all look similar (and, in some cases, nearly identical), the quality of some brands isn't on a par with that of Copper Chef. For example, we bought an 11" square griddle pan for my husband, who wanted it to make French toast, that looked like it matched our collection. However, it didn't have the built-in stainless steel induction plate, so it didn't heat up as quickly or evenly as our Copper Chef pans.

SHINEURI 5-piece set of nonstick saucepans and saute pan on Amazon
We love the SHINEURI 5 piece nonstick
copper cookware set we purchased
on Amazon
The good news is that we also discover some winners among the competitor brands. At the time, Copper Chef wasn't making any round pots or pans, and we wanted a set of small and medium covered nonstick saucepans to replace the ones we threw out, as well as a couple of small to medium size round skillets for making omelets and such.

I was delighted with both the quality and the appearance of the 5-piece set by SHINEURI that we purchased, which has the reverse color scheme of our Copper Chef Black Diamond pans and looks terrific with them. The 1.5 quart and 2.5 quart saucepans with glass lids and the open 8" sauté pan look as though they were designed and manufactured by the same designer and factory as the original Copper Chef pans. Even the slightly domed lids and hollow stainless steel handles look exactly like the original CC pans, and they also perform just as well as those, although not as well as the Black Diamond pans.

Fortunately, the Copper Chef Black Diamond line has since expanded and now includes round pots and pans.

Another high performer we purchased from a competing brand was the Home Hero 8" round nonstick skillet with glass lid, which also had the built-in stainless steel induction plate and has performed as well as our original Copper Chef pans, although it doesn't look quite as nice, in my opinion, and doesn't have the textured interior bottom or diamond-reinforced nonstick coating of the Black Diamond pans.

Copper Chef Black Diamond Nonstick Cookware Makes a Great Gift

We loved our 5-piece set of square Black Diamond pans so much that we bought two more sets as Christmas gifts, one for my in-laws and one for my brother. They agree with us that these are by far the best nonstick pans we've ever owned.

Set of copper cooking utensils with silicone tips for nonstick cookware on Amazon
You can buy this gorgeous set of
copper metal and black silicone
cooking utensils on Amazon

Anyone who cooks would likely be delighted to receive a set of these good-looking, durable, well-designed, nonstick pans. As a bonus, the company's packaging is attractive and perfect for gift-giving.

For an even more special gift, consider adding this set of beautiful set of copper cooking utensils with black silicone tips. I think they would look absolutely stunning with Copper Chef Black Diamond or original CC pans, or even similar pans from competing brands.

I admit that I'm really tempted to put these on my holiday wish list, even though I already own plenty of perfectly functional utensils suitable for nonstick pans. But they're so freakin' pretty. And they look as though they were custom designed to go with the Black Diamond pans, don't they?

If you prefer round pans to square ones, this Copper Chef Black Diamond 10-piece set is another excellent choice. It comes with 8-inch and 10-inch round skillets with curved sides (to make stirring foods and sliding or flipping omelets easier), a 2-quart sauce pan, a 4.5-quart casserole pan, three metal-rimmed tempered glass lids that can be mixed and matched to fit all four pans, plus a roasting rack and a nonstick-compatible serving spoon and slotted spatula. My husband and I both think we'd get a lot of use out of this set, which would complement our existing pieces nicely, and we hope to be able to add these pots and pans to our collection eventually.

Either set would be a wonderful gift for someone special — including yourself!

Care and Cleaning Tips

The manufacturer says these pans are dishwasher safe. However, I strongly recommend hand washing these (which is a breeze, using just a regular or silicone sponge and hot, soapy water as soon as the pan cools, or after soaking if you don't want to wash soon after using). Dishwasher detergent is abrasive, which is why glasses that are washed in the dishwasher frequently will become cloudy over time. The cloudiness is actually a result of the detergent gradually etching the surface of the glass!

When I noticed that my husband had repeatedly burned spilled Sloppy Joe mixture (and who knows what else) onto the underside of one of our original Copper Chef fry pans without cleaning off the burned-on food residue, I discovered the hard way that a Scotchbrite or similar scrubby sponge is too abrasive for cleaning the CeramiTech nonstick coating, which covers both the inside and outside of the Copper Chef pans (other than the stainless steel induction plate and handle). Also, if you use a steel wool pad to scour the induction plate on the bottom of the pan and don't take care to keep the steel wool away from the CeramiTech coating, the metal fibers in the pad will quickly remove the nonstick coating right down to the metal underneath.
Bottoms of original and Black Diamond Copper Chef nonstick fry pans after cleaning correctly and incorrectly
©2020 Margaret Schindel, all rights reserved

Pan on the left: Original Copper Chef fry pan
with repeatedly burned-on food, cleaned with
a scrubber sponge, plus overzealous scouring
of the built-in stainless steel induction plate
with steel wool scouring pan.

Pan on the right: Copper Chef Black Diamond pan,
cleaned with regular or silicone sponge, induction plate
scoured with steel wool pad. I scoured the perimeter of the
stainless steel induction plate to avoid accidentally
scouring off the nonstick coating on the surrounding areas.

Similarly, if you want the CeramiTech coating on your pans to retain its nonstick properties as long as possible, I recommend using only plastic or silicone cooking utensils designed for non-stick cookware with these pans, something Tristar, which manufactures Copper Chef and other cookware brands, also advises.

Closeup view of inside of Copper Chef Black Diamond nonstick grill pan
Close-up shot of the ridged interior bottom
 of the nonstick grill pan
©2020 Margaret Schindel, all rights reserved

As you can see from this close-up of our grill pan, our Copper Chef Black Diamond pans — which have been in heavy, daily use for a long time now — not only still perform beautifully but also hold up remarkably well, as long as you care for them properly!

The Inexpensive, DIY Pot and Lid Storage Rack My Husband Built for Our Copper Ceramic Nonstick Cookware

When our collection of copper ceramic nonstick coated pans continued to expand, my husband — my very own MacGyver — put together an inexpensive, space-saving pot rack next to our stove, using just leftover wood strips and some coat hooks. Sadly, the beautiful, half-round, French-looking wrought iron pot rack I had purchased long ago for my Manhattan apartment doesn't work in our ranch-style home now. (Not only do we have many more pots and pans to store, but we also have only a short, narrow "mini hallway" between the stove and the side entrance to our house, which opens into our kitchen. So, our pot rack needs to be fairly flush to the wall to allow the door to open.)

One of the things I really like about his design it that, because each coat hook has an upper and a lower hook, the lids to our collection of nonstick pots and pans now have a convenient "home" for storage when they're not in use, since the glass lids can't be stacked. As you can see, it even holds our two large stainless steel mesh spatter shields!

It was meant for functionality rather than looks, but you could easily stain and varnish the wood, and even use a router to shape a scalloped edge, if you like.
Homemade wall-mounted rack for storing pots, pans and lids
My clever husband's inexpensive DIY pot rack
for our nonstick pans, lids and spatter screens
©2020 Margaret Schindel, all rights reserved

Happy nonstick cooking!

Copper Chef Black Diamond Nonstick Cookware reviewed by
Margaret Schindel


You'll find a wide range of other reliable product reviews from our Review This Reviews contributors at ReviewThisProductReviews.com.


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Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Reviewing the Moon Hare

Have You Seen The Moon Hare Or Moon Rabbit?

Have you noticed the Moon Hare or the Moon Rabbit instead of the "man in the moon"? I still remember being on a date many years ago and being introduced to the rabbit on the moon. The guy I was with at the time pointed it out and ever since then I no longer see a man's face but a rabbit or more specifically a hare. Little did I know back then, that there is a place in Asian mythology for that Moon Hare. 

moon hare
Hares and rabbits have been on my mind
image courtesy of pixabay.com
A few weeks back, I wrote about fear and how rabbits seemed to be hopping into my mind a lot, lately. Well, I'm still sort of consumed with the furry little creatures. Turns out there is a reason why. I'm currently working on a new book in a new genre (for me anyway) and the hare is playing a significant part in the story. (More about that later.)


Moon Hare In Asian Mythology


As I have researched the hare for my book, I have discovered a few things about the creature. First of all, a hare is different from a rabbit. The hare is larger, has longer ears, and tends to be more solitary than its cousin the rabbit. Hares live above ground instead of below. They do share a lot of the same characteristics.

Most of the time the mythical hare in the moon is said to be using a mortar and pestle. In Chinese folklore the Moon Hare is pounding the elixir of life for Chang'e the Moon Goddess. She brought the hare with her when she moved to the moon after having drank the elixir of life. She wanted to forever watch over her husband Houyi the archer. In Japanese and Korean folklore the Moon Hare is pounding the ingredients for rice cakes.

Having this information helped me to firm-up an idea in my head for the character of Jipsee who is sent to Khenlee to be her wisdom companion in her journey through life as a healer and Shaman. Khenlee is special and she is given a special spirit animal. The girl is of two races of her world. So, I wanted something that was special to at least two different cultures. The hare fit perfectly. I've mentioned the Asian mythology but the hare is also significant in Celtic mythology, too. It was seen as being supernatural and associated with the moon. They were looked upon as mysterious and magical by the Celts. Seemed like a good fit for an animal guide for young Khenlee. The hare was also special to the Northern European Saxon Goddess Eostre. (Easter was named after her).

Building a World and a Story


So, as I build a different world I'm having good and bad 'hare' days. The book will be in the YA Fantasy genre which is turning out to be a lot of fun to write. The working title right now is Khenlee of Alerassa, although, I might change that up a bit. The gods have spoken, they want Khenlee to be the next Shaman/healer for the village of Alerassa. She is 12, she doesn't want to be a healer, and she struggles with the same angst that girls of her age do here on Earth. She also faces the prejudice of people due to her dual heritage. When Jipsee comes to her, they don't exactly fall in love with each other. The hare is disgusted that she is meant to work with a child that appears to be less than bright. The girl doesn't even know the difference between a hare and a rabbit. How in Ethoria can she become a wise woman who heals the bodies and souls of mortal creatures? It is beyond Jipsee's understanding. Khenlee believes the gods are playing a practical joke on her. How can she depend on a creature who is afraid of its own shadow?

The two will travel and grow together throughout the story. They will help each other and they will argue with each other but in the end they will become what they were destined to be. 

So, anyway, I've shared a little about the Moon Hare from a few cultures. I've given you a short look into the world in my head. I think I might need to get myself a stuffed animal to sit on my desk as I type out the words. I thought this one was kind of cute....




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Monday, May 18, 2020

Reviewing the Dexter Russell 8-Inch Bread Knife

All knives are equal in the kitchen, right? Wrong! I immediately put my original bread knife in the trash after using the Dexter Russell scalloped bread knife for the first time. 



Over the past couple of years I have focused on learning to bake homemade bread and biscuits. I typically need very easy recipes. As I bake successful loaves of bread, I tend to share with friends and family. Recently, I baked a wonderful Artisan-like loaf of crusty bread. The bread itself was amazing. But as usual, I struggled cutting even slices.

My friend laughed at me, as he watched me saw and hack away at the bread. Sometimes squishing the softer loaves more than cutting them. He said I needed a bread knife. I told him that I had a bread knife.

It was only a few days later that a bread knife arrived in the mail. After my very first slice of bread I immediately realized why my friend laughed at me and my original bread knife. With the Dexter Russell knife I could cut even slices of bread, thick or thin, with great ease.  There was no "sawing" involved.

I am so incredibly thankful for this knife!


Dexter Russell 8" Scalloped Bread Knife with Polypropylene Handle



This knife is SHARP, cuts through bread like cutting through warm butter, and seems very durable. The handle is very comfortable and large enough that I can firmly grip it.

You may already know that Dexter Russell is advertised as the "largest manufacturer of professional cutlery in the United States." So although this is my first experience with a Dexter Russell knife, it is clearly a company that has a history and a good reputation.

Some facts about this bread knife:

  • made in the US
  • superior blade shape
  • 400 series stain-free, high carbon steel
  • formed handle with finger guard
  • slip-free polypropylene handle

My knife was ordered and shipped via Amazon. However, knives ordered on the Dexter Russell website can be engraved at extra cost. 



An engraved bread knife would make a special and memorable gift for a housewarming, wedding, or culinary arts graduation. I know this gift is a much appreciated addition in my kitchen.


My Favorite Bread Recipes



In 2016 I had my first bread baking success with this Peasant Bread recipe. The round loaves are incredibly easy to make and end with a buttery flavor and crunchy crust.



In 2017 I began having success with making delicious loaves using Patara's bread recipe and a Pullman Loaf pan. Making my sandwiches using my own bread is wonderful. And having a good knife to cut those bread slices will be even more wonderful!



Only recently I became successful at baking crusty, round loaves of bread. I think this bread's appearance is as wonderful as the taste. If you'd like to know more about this bread, you can read about it here





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Sunday, May 17, 2020

A TV Series about a Digital Afterlife - Reviewed and I Was Glued

A personal review of the Prime Series "Upload" - About a Digital Afterlife

Upload is available on Amazon Prime.

Before I tell you about the series, let me start by saying that I broke every one of my own rules about binge-watching! I started watching late at night, didn't get up for snacks (lol), watched every episode .... and the worst part, I chose a series with only 1 season!

Ok. That's off my chest.

Are You a Fan of Shows About the Afterlife - If So, You'll Enjoy Upload

My favorite types of movies are time travel, the afterlife, catastrophes, new planets, life exploration, spiritual revelations, and mankind lessons. Weird right? Lol. I know.

After reading what Upload was about I knew I'd be giving this one a try. It's a fun and interesting look at preserving a person's consciousness after death. Personally, no thanks - let me go. But hey, the creative aspect of this is futuristic, and who knows what the future holds.

The Story Line of Upload

In the year 2033 when a human passes away, they have the choice of uploading their consciousness into a virtual afterlife.

The premise of this show is that the main character, Nathan, is uploaded prematurely. The plot is about this mystery, and why.

It offers love, manipulation, humor, and some dark comedy.

Making Money on Selling an Afterlife, WHAT!

Omg. I was actually mad about this (in a disgustingly funny way), but it's critical to the story - it's part of the story!

There are expensive afterlife locations and cheap ones for those with less money. Capitalism in death, sheesh. Get this, in this story, your living loved one pays for your stay in the virtual afterlife location of your choosing, and also pays for the things you use there. LOL - like a hotel! Go easy on the afterlife minibar?

So unless you have a lot of greenbacks, your afterlife is destined to be low quality and low budget! If your bills aren't paid, your consciousness is frozen until more gigabytes are purchased or the bills are paid.

There are a Few Shocking Bloodless Scenes

I almost want to tell you what it is so you don't jump out of your body like I did! But I won't. Or should I? No. I won't. I'll give you a hint; when Nathan is being 'Uploaded', get ready for what happens, because that's one of the parts where you'll jump out of your seat.

Do I Recommend This Series?

Yes. If you're curious where a writer goes with a topic like this, you'll enjoy it's dark, fun creative aspects.

Apparently, Upload has been renewed for a second season. Yippee, I'll be watching.

The Trailer is excellent - Watch it on Prime.





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Saturday, May 16, 2020

Spirit of the Season by Fern Michaels - Book Review


Spirit of the Season is a Holiday Romance book by Fern Michaels, best-selling author of The Sisterhood Series and The Men of the Sisterhood books. 


Synopsis



Spirit of the Season - A Holiday Romance Story

Joy Preston grew up in a small town in North Carolina where her grandparents and mother ran a successful Bed and Breakfast called Heart and Soul. In her teens, Joy falls in love with Colorado on a family vacation. Subsequently, she decides to go to collage out there where she majors in Business and Marketing.  While thinking of starting her own company, her marketing professor tells her class that when designing a product the simplest ideas were almost always the most successful. Joy comes up with the idea for a Nail Polish Company and calls it Simply Joy. 

When the story begins it is seven years later and Joy is CEO of her own successful company, which she runs with the help of her two best friends. Their small office is located in Denver, with the product produced in a lab in New York. While working late one night, she gets a call from Izzy, who has worked for her grandmother at the B&B for many years. The news is not good; her grandmother has died of a heart attack.

It is almost Thanksgiving as Joy returns to North Carolina to help her mother & Izzy make arrangements for keeping the B&B running, as it is filled to capacity for the upcoming holidays. This is partly due to the fact that Heart and Soul has a special charm, especially at holiday time, because of how it is always elaborately decorated for the season, with themed guest rooms and dazzling lawn displays. And rumor has it that, during the holidays, guests can be reunited with the spirit of a loved one who has passed on.  

After a private memorial for her grandmother, Joy and her mother meet with estate attorney Will Drake, Joy is shocked to learn that her grandmother's will stipulates that Joy is to take over Heart and Soul and live at the B&B as owner and operator for six months.  Otherwise, the B&B will become the legal property of the state of North Carolina. 

Joy is quite upset and cannot understand why her grandmother would add such a thing to her will.  Though she misses her Nana dearly, Joy has her own company to run and loves living in a big city. She also thoroughly enjoys Colorado's winter sports. She has always been sure she would never live in a small town again where everyone knows everything you do. 

But it IS the holiday season and the B&B is fully booked and decorated, ready to participate in the Parade of Homes competition and gingerbread house contest.  So, since her company can be run from anywhere, Joy decides to stay for the six months to honor her grandmother's wishes.

Add together the Spirit of the Season, handsome attorney Will Drake, and perhaps a little ghostly matchmaking from Joy's beloved Nana, and we have a delightful holiday romance novel. 


Summary


Christmas is a time for remembering loved ones past and present. In this new novel by  New York Times  bestselling author Fern Michaels, the holidays are also the time to discover a future that, like the perfect gift, is as satisfying as it is surprising . . .







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Spirit of the Season Book Review by (c) Wednesday Elf 




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Friday, May 15, 2020

A Summer Romance Hallmark Movie Reviewed

I can always depend on Hallmark to provide wholesome entertainment!

A Summer Romance
Hallmark movies have been called "cookie cutter", "unrealistic" and "predictable".  Okay, that may well be true, but who cares.  I love Hallmark movies!  

Hallmark movies are what I call easy watching, like easy listening music.  Not especially profound or deep, but they leave me feeling happy and relaxed.  For me, that is most important when watching movies.  I don't personally need depressing or upsetting, or even realistic all of the time.  But, I'll take "happy" anytime!

I happened upon "A Summer Romance" recently, starring Erin Krakow, who I think is adorable.  It did take me a few minutes to adjust to her character in this movie.  After all, I see her as Elizabeth in "When Calls the Heart" which is an awesome Hallmark series.  She also stars in a Christmas movie I previous reviewed, Finding Father Christmas.  She does an excellent job of acting in all of these movies and has quickly become my favorite Hallmark actress.  Krakow is not exclusively "Hallmark".  They just happen to be where I have seen her most often.

"A Summer Romance" is another sweet romantic movie that ends exactly the way we all hope it will.  Still, it's fun to watch, especially when they take a boy out of the city and introduce him to an unpretentious country girl.  



Plot of the Hallmark movie, A Summer Romance


 A Summer RomanceCheck PriceSamantha Walker is now the sole owner of the Montana ranch that has been in her family for generations.  Unfortunately, a large ranch is expensive to maintain.  Repairs have required Sam to take a bank loan, which she is several months behind on with payments.  That leaves her ranch vulnerable to vultures who desire to build a country club on her land.

Richard Belmont (Ryan Paevey) has already developed a plan to acquire a certain ranch in Bighorn, Montana.  He is certain he can persuade the owner to sell.  What he doesn't realize is that the owner has plans of her own to make her ranch profitable.  

Sam is weighing all of her options, which is why she agrees to meet Belmont and consider his offer.  But, the ranch has been in her family for generations and it is home.  When Richard arrives in Bighorn without reservations for a room, Sam ends up inviting him to stay in the guesthouse on the ranch.  

As Richard spends time with Sam and the residents of the ranch, they all actually become friends.  That is not the best alliance for the man, and the company, who plans to buy the ranch home out from under the owner, now friend.  

Richard only thinks he is completely in charge of the deal.  Sam only thinks she is making the decision.  And, yes, you will have to watch the movie if you want to see what happens.





Currently, "A Summer Romance" can be purchased on DVD linked above, but is available on Amazon with a subscription to the Hallmark Channel.  

Subscribe to the Hallmark Channel on Amazon.com
  

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A Summer Romance - Hallmark Movie Review Written by:
House of Sylvestermouse



 


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