Sunday, January 17, 2021

Review of a Bedding Set and Throw Pillow Covers - Ideal for Teens and Young Adults

 

Review of An Affordable Bedding Set for Teens and Young Adults

One of my sons recently switched to another bedroom in our home. In the process, he opted to make a few changes to his decor.

After scrolling through Amazon to find a bedding set that wasn't too expensive, he selected the Queen Size "Madison Park Essentials Cozy Bed in a Bag Comforter Set." The set he selected was charcoal and tan. You'll notice several designs and colors to choose from.

What is Included in The Madison Park Bedding Set:

  • A comforter
  • A sheet set which includes the fitted sheet, flat sheet, and two pillowcases with the queen set
  • A bed skirt
  • Two matching shams
  • One decorative pillow
The nice thing about this set is the price. At the time we purchased it, it was just over the hundred dollar range on Amazon Canada, and is under that range on Amazon USA.


Here's a Photo of  the Tan Madison Park Bedding Set in My Son's Bedroom:


Madison Park Bedding Set - Photo from My Son's Room

What I Like About the Bedding Set:

  • I like the price. Since you get the sheets, the comforter, the skirt, pillowcases and throw pillow, I feel it's a good price.
  • I like the design. It's masculine enough for a boy's room, but of course, it could work for either a girl or a boy.
  • The bedsheets are very nice. They're not "cheap feeling" like can sometimes happen with these less expensive bedding sets.
  • The bedsheets washed nicely as well. Granted, we've only washed them once.
  • It looks gorgeous with his black and tan decor. The photo doesn't do it justice.
  • The comforter is a satisfactory thickness. 

What I Don't Like About the Bedding Set:

  • I don't like the feel of the comforter. That's a personal thing. My son likes it. It's kind of a shimmery finish. I'm not sure if I'm describing it accurately - but it's not heavy fabric.
  • Since the comforter's fabric isn't heavy in texture, my concern is that it may pull at the seams easier or not hold up in the wash.

Here's A Close Up Photo:


The Throw Pillow Covers


This set does not include the two black throw pillows, throw blanket, and the two body pillows featured in our photos.

We used the body pillows (two of them) to raise up the pillows for decorating purposes. On top of the body pillows are two regular-sized pillows that feature the pillowcases from the sheet set. Positioned in front of that stack of pillows are two pillows with the comforter's matching shams.

We ordered two pillow covers to cover two existing throw pillows we already had. We selected throw pillow covers with a furry texture to provide contrast. I highly recommend them. They don't shed, and they look terrific. Here are the throw pillow covers we purchased on Amazon.

Also on order are two black body pillow covers to complete the set.

Do I Recommend This Bedding Set?


For a teenager's room, child's room, even a guest room, absolutely. However, I would want a higher quality, more durable set for the primary bedroom.


Madison Park Essentials Cozy Bed in a Bag Comforter SetMadison Park Bed in a Bag Comforter Set

 




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Saturday, January 16, 2021

Devoted by Dean Koontz – A Book Review

 

Long-time fans of Dean Koontz know he is a dog-lover and, in particular, of Golden Retrievers. He has written 3 books from the point of view of Trixie, the first Golden that he and wife, Gerda, owned, plus a memoir about Trixie after her death.  Today they live with their Golden Retriever Elsa and the enduring spirits of Goldens Anna and Trixie.


All of us Koontz fans have read Watchers, which featured a very smart Golden Retriever. All together, Dean Koontz has written four novels where one of the main characters is a dog.  Now, with Devoted, he again features a very special Golden Retriever around whom the story revolves. 




Cast of Characters:


Woody Bookman – an 11-year-old boy who has never spoken a word. Woody has been diagnosed with a rare form of autism, although he is also a high-functioning autodidact with a high IQ. He taught himself to read at age 4 and was reading at the college level by age 7. He is also an accomplished computer hacker. 


Megan Bookman – Woody's mother, who loves him with all her heart.  Widowed at age 30, she is an artist whose paintings are quickly gaining a following. She doesn't really care whether critical acclaim waxes or wans; she's just grateful to have discovered that there was life after life after her first life ended with the death of her husband, Jason. Now her art and her child are enough for her. Keeping her boy safe and happy is what matters. 


Kipp – a uniquely gifted dog with a heart as golden as his breed. Kipp is devoted beyond reason to people. When he hears the boy who communicates like he does, without speaking, Kipp knows he needs to find him before it's too late. 


Lee  Shacker – The villain protagonist.


The Plot


A Mother, A Boy, and a Dog Against the Night


Woody believes his father's death was not an accident. He believes a tremendous evil was behind it and now threatens him and his mother.  As Woody gathers information through his computer skills and his suspicions take shape, an evil man sets a depraved plan into motion. And he's coming after Woody and his mother. Only a force greater than evil can stop what is coming next.


One boy with the power to save the world. One man with the will to destroy it.  ~Google Books


Other Dean Koontz Books Featuring Dogs


Watchers, Fear Nothing, and its sequel Seize the Night, and The Darkest Evening of the Year.


Summary



Devoted by Dean Koontz


Devoted was published in March, 2020. If you love mysteries or thrillers with dogs and children and great writing, you will love this book. I  found it fascinating and impossible to put down.


Dean Koontz writing has the ability to show the extremes of good and evil, and the overwhelming power of love.


Book Facts:


Originally published: March 31, 2020

Author: Dean Koontz

Genres: Suspense, Thriller, Horror fiction


*Available in hardcover, paperback, audio book and on Kindle Unlimited on Amazon.


Book Review of Devoted written by (c) Wednesday Elf.








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Friday, January 15, 2021

Did You Hear About the Morgans? - Comedy Movie Review

Did You Hear About The Morgans?
I discovered this movie when seeking an easy movie to watch that would make me laugh. This movie definitely fit that bill! 

I've read mixed reviews on "Did You Hear About the Morgans?" which I really don't understand.  This is not meant to be an epic movie, rather it is light entertainment.  While neither of the main actors are on my list of favorites, I must say, this movie made me like both of them better.  Together, they really made me laugh.  

Admittedly, having a cameo appearance of a stunning grizzly bear, did help.  Hugh Grant's reaction and facial expressions during his bear encounter truly made me laugh out loud.

This is a movie to watch when you simply want to sit back and enjoy a show that doesn't require a great deal of emotional involvement, other than humor.  


Did You Hear About the Morgans? Movie Synopsis

"Did You Hear About the Morgans?" is a just for fun movie starring Sarah Jessica Parker (Meryl Morgan) and Hugh Grant (Paul Morgan). 

 Did You Hear About the Morgans? DVDCheck PriceThe Morgan's live in New York and are both successful in business.  Meryl owns a real estate company and Paul is an attorney.  In spite of their professional success, there are problems in their marriage.  Due to Paul's infidelity, the Morgans are separated.  Of course, adultery is not funny, but in this movie their separation does provide the set-up for some rather humorous situations.

Meryl agrees to have dinner with Paul and afterwards they decide to walk to her next appointment together.  Upon arrival, they witness the murder of her client.  They see the murderer and he sees them!

When it is clear, the murderer plans to eliminate the witnesses, Meryl & Paul are placed in the witness protection program "together" as a married couple and sent to a very remote area in Ray, Wyoming.  They are placed under the protection of two federal agents who happen to be married.  

Clay (Sam Elliott)  and Emma Wheeler (Mary Steenburgen) have provided shelter and protection for many witnesses in the past. They have a bedroom set up just for their "guests" and have restricted access to phones and computers, which keeps their guests from contacting friends or family.  Meryl still manages to make a phone call back home, which brings the killer right to their temporary door step.

I highly recommend "Did You Hear About the Morgans?" for a anyone seeking to relax, laugh and enjoy the show!







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Did You Hear About the Morgans? - Comedy Movie Review Written by:
House of Sylvestermouse



 


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Thursday, January 14, 2021

Book Review of What It's Like to Be a Bird

Robin in my Backyard

 Are you ever curious about the habits of birds?  Did you realize that a bird's senses of vision, hearing, touch and smell many times surpass the same senses in humans?  Did you know that if you "ate like a bird" you might eat more than twenty-five pizzas each day?  These are just a few of the many things you'll learn about birds in the book What It's Like to Be a Bird.  


I received a copy of this book as a Christmas gift and have found it fascinating.  It is a rather large, coffee table type book that is full of information on the birds of North America.

The book is divided into three sections.  In this review, I will give you some insight into each of the sections.  The photographs I am including in this review are birds that I photographed in my backyard.


First Section: Introduction

Female Downy Woodpecker

  • The introduction section of the book is 32 pages full of information on birds in general.  This section talks about the feathers on birds, the senses of birds and how they relate to human senses.  There are sections on 
  • Food
  • Survival
  • Social Behavior
  • Movement
  • Physiology
  • Migration
an much more.  This area is full of interesting information.  Some examples include:
  • There are 11 thousand species of birds today and 800 are regularly found in North America.
  • Birds visual ability varies greatly between species.  Owls have great night vision  and Eagles see five times more details than humans and 16 times the colors.
  • Some birds spend their entire winter in the air, even sleeping while they fly.

Second Section: Main Body of Book

In this section of the book the author tells us about over 200 different species of birds.  The author has two pages for most species and they include beautiful colored illustrations of the birds and are full of interesting facts about each type of bird.

One good example is the section on Finches.  The first page shows a beautiful illustration of a male and female House Finch building a nest.  The information says that these finches are aptly named because they have adapted to living around houses and often make their nests on items around the houses such as hanging plants and window ledges.  On the page with Goldfinches we are told that they travel in flocks almost all year and it is believed that some birds stay together in small groups for months or even years.

Third Section: Listing of Birds in this Book

In this last section of the book you find a list of all the birds that have been covered in the book.  It includes the page number for more information along with a paragraph summarizing that particular bird.

Here is some of the information included on the Northern Cardinal.  It tells that the bird is named for its bright red color which is like the cardinals in the Roman Catholic church.  The paragraph goes on to say that the Northern Cardinal is one of the most widely recognized birds in North America.  It adds a couple of interesting facts such as that it is common for male cardinals to feed the adult females.  In this way they are signaling their ability to find food.

This is a book I would highly recommend for anyone interested in finding out more about birds.
Here is a calendar I made of my backyard bird photos.  It is offered on Zazzle.
  



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Wednesday, January 13, 2021

OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro Loaf Pan Review

I discovered the OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro Baking Pan line while researching options for replacing my old Teflon nonstick baking pans with ones that had newer, more durable, and safer PFOA-free coatings. 

I purchased the OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro 1-Lb. Loaf Pan recently, and I am quite impressed with its value and performance so far. In fact, I'm seriously considering buying other pans from this line to replace my older Teflon nonstick bakeware.

Main image - text over textured background reads "Why the OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro Loaf Pan Deserves a Place in Your Kitchen"
This durable one-pound loaf pan features a durable molded, seamless construction, sturdy square-rolled edges to prevent warping, and a PFOA-free nonstick coating in a light champagne-gold color and micro-textured bottom surface that promote even baking.

Pre-2015 Nonstick Bakeware Is Not Safe to Use

Until six years ago, most nonstick bakeware (and cookware) used a Teflon coating made with both PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) and polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). PFOA has been linked to cancer and other health risks, and is one of a group of manmade chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). In 2006, because of concerns about the impact of PFOA and long-chain PFASs on human health and the environment, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched a PFOA Stewardship Program, asking the eight leading companies in the PFAS industry to commit to voluntarily eliminating PFOA and related chemicals and emissions by 2015. 

PTFE continues to be used in Teflon and other nonstick coatings, and while some people have concerns about its safety, most experts consider nonstick bakeware and cookware with coatings containing PTFE to be safe, as long as they are:

  • treated and cleaned with care to avoid scratches or abrasion
  • not overheated or preheated empty
  • replaced after a few years, when the coating begins to show signs of fine scratches or abrasion
  • discarded as soon as the coating is scratched or chipped 

Time to Replace Old Nonstick Baking Pans!

Last year, I replaced all my old nonstick pots and frying pans with Copper Chef Black Diamond Nonstick Cookware. During my research, I discovered that some of the newer nonstick coatings not only are safer, but also perform better than older types. Now, I'm starting the process of replacing my large collection of older nonstick baking pans, too. (Copper Chef Black Diamond Nonstick Cookware has a diamond-infused ceramic nonstick coating that is both PFOA-free and PTFE-free, and that I know from experience delivers excellent performance. If only they made baking pans, too!)

I became an avid home baker at the tender age of nine. During my mid-twenties and early thirties, when I was married to an attorney at a prominent New York City law firm, we did a lot of formal entertaining, and our dinner parties always ended with a choice of elaborate cakes or pastries for dessert. Now, more than 30 years later, I am happily married to a man in a different profession, and we live in the Boston suburbs, and if I never host another five-course dinner party extravaganza, that will be just fine with me! Since I live a very different lifestyle now than I did back then, I've decided to replace only the pans I use on a regular basis, rather than the entire, extensive collection of both basic and specialty bakeware I am getting rid of.

Since trying out nonstick pans from a few different companies was a successful strategy that helped me determine which brand and type of coating performed best in my kitchen, I'm planning to follow the same approach as I begin the process of replacing my old nonstick baking pans 

Ever since I switched to a low carb keto approach to eating in May 2019, I have been baking, rather than buying, the majority of the low carb bread I use. So, I decided to shop for a nonstick loaf pan first. 

After doing a bunch of online research, as usual, before deciding which one to buy, I recently ordered an OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro Loaf Pan (with fast, free shipping, thanks to Amazon Prime!). I thought it might be helpful to share the things I looked for in narrowing down the available options, and why I ultimately chose this particular pan. I will need to see how well it performs over time before I can recommend it without reservations. 

I often like to bake two loaves of bread and put one in the freezer, which doesn't take much more time and effort than baking a single loaf. Given my strategy of testing individual pieces from a few different brands (or with different coating materials), I'm still trying to decide which one to buy for my second nonstick loaf pan. However, when I do, I am looking forward to comparing how the two measure up against each other. Stay tuned for future updates!

Key Features and Benefits of the OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro Loaf Pan

Amazon product image of OXO nonstick loaf pan
Product image courtesy of Amazon

I have long been a fan of the OXO kitchenware brand, and have been buying and using their products for a very long time. However, I was quite surprised to discover the OXO Good Grips brand (which I have always associated with kitchen tools and cooking utensils) on a line of bakeware, as I was doing my online research! 

It's definitely not a brand that comes to mind when I think about baking pans. But, since the kitchen tools and cooking utensils I have bought from them over the years have been durable, well made, and well designed, I decided to give OXO the benefit of the doubt and keep an open mind. I'm glad I did!

Here are the most important features and attributes that influenced my decision to choose the OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro Loaf Pan, rather than one of the many other nonstick loaf pans on the market from competing brands.

Ceramic-Reinforced, Two-Layer, Commercial Grade Nonstick Coating for Durability

Obviously, the most important among my selection criteria when researching and shopping for a new loaf pan was a PFOA-free nonstick coating. I also knew from my experience with my Copper Chef Black Diamond nonstick pots and pans that a ceramic component adds durability to nonstick coatings, so I was pleased that the OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro line uses what the company describes as a "Swiss-engineered, PTFE, ceramic reinforced, two-layer, commercial-grade coating," ILAG Non-Stick Ultimate Resist R Plus, that resists scratching, staining, corrosion, and abrasion. These qualities help give these pans a longer, safer, useful life, as long as they are treated with care and not preheated empty or allowed to get too hot. (For example, I would never use a pan with a nonstick coating to bake a recipe with a topping that needs to be caramelized under the broiler.)

Light-Colored Nonstick Coating and Micro-Textured Surface for Even Baking

Most nonstick loaf pans, cake pans, muffin tins, and other bakeware has a dark coating. Unfortunately, since dark colors absorb heat, the sides and bottom of whatever you put in them bakes (or cooks, in the case of a meat loaf, for example) faster than the top or center of the pan's contents. In fact, by the time the center tests done, the bottom and sides are often overbaked or even burned. Until recently, all nonstick baking pans had dark-colored coating, which is why some recipes tell you to reduce the oven temperature if you use a nonstick pan. 

By contrast, light colors reflect heat instead of absorbing it. So using a pan with a light-colored nonstick coating promotes more even baking (or cooking). 

I first discovered bakeware with a light, metallic gold- or champagne-colored nonstick coating quite a few years ago at Williams-Sonoma. Then Nordic Ware came out with gold-colored nonstick versions of their gorgeous, elaborate, specialty baking pans. I confess, I have secretly coveted them ever since! But back when I was drooling over them, the prices for pieces with the light-colored coating seemed exorbitant, compared to the cost of their counterparts with the much more common dark-colored coating, and I refrained from indulging. 

When I started my current product research product, I was surprised and delighted to find that the prices for pans with a lighter champagne- or gold-colored nonstick coating have come down quite a bit, which makes these a much more affordable and practical option. 

I also love the look of these lighter-colored coatings. Since I usually make myself choose function over form when buying something practical, like a nonstick loaf pan, it's quite a treat to find one that whose excellent performance is also paired with a beautiful finish.

Extreme close-up photo of micro-textured surface on the bottom of the pan
The light-colored ceramic-reinforced PFOA-free nonstick coating promotes even baking, and the micro-textured bottom surface of the pan promotes airflow. 

There is also a unique, micro-textured surface pattern on the bottom that minimizes contact between the food and the pan, and allows some airflow under the loaf. I've found that this not only prevents my bread loaves from having a burned bottom crust, but also avoids sogginess that can occur from steam condensation when a freshly baked loaf needs to stay in the pan at the start of the cooling cycle before being removed to a wire rack to finish cooling completely.

Seamless Interior and Rounded Corners for Easy Clean-Up

One of my pet peeves about nonstick baking pans is the seams, especially the corner seams. I always grease my pans, even those with an anti-stick coating, before adding a dough or batter, sometimes followed by a thin coating of cocoa powder or low carb flour. Thoroughly cleaning the residue from the narrow points at the bottom corners, using nothing narrower or firmer than the edge of a soapy sponge (to avoid abrading the coating), can be challenging. 

I always dreamed of having nonstick baking pans with rounded corners and no seams, like my old glass cake pans. When I saw this OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro loaf pan, it felt like someone had overheard that dream and decided to make it come true.

The seamless interior and rounded corners really do make this loaf pan is an absolute breeze to clean! I'm pretty sure that the lack of seams or sharp corners will also make the nonstick interior less prone to wear or cracking.

Strength and Structural Rigidity for Warp Resistance

I have a few pieces of cookware and bakeware that, despite being constructed from heavy-gauge metal, tend to warp after they have been on a hot stove or in a hot oven for a while. This really bugs me, and especially on a nonstick pan, whose coating was not designed to hold up to repeated flexing and twisting! So, now that I'm shopping for new pans, I'm looking for ones that are made to resist warping. 

One of the things I liked about the OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro Loaf Pan it that was designed with structural integrity and rigidity in mind, which increase durability and help prevent warping. 

Square-rolled edge increases rigidity, creates a wider lip/more secure grip
This metal pan is made from commercial grade, heavy gauge, aluminized steel, which not only has excellent thermal conductivity for fast, even heat distribution, but also provides durability and structural stability. The micro-textured bottom also contributes to the pan's structural rigidity. 

The square-rolled edge is another important feature for better structure, strength, and durability. Unlike most loaf pans, whose rim is formed by folding the sheet metal over a piece of wire, the rim around the OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro Loaf Pan is formed from a single piece of steel, molded into what the company calls "a unique square-roll shape." This uniform construction and substantial, square-rolled edge creates a thick, solid rim that not only adds structural rigidity, it also makes the pan easier to grip and lift. That's a design feature I really appreciate, especially when I'm moving a full, hot metal loaf pan from the oven to a heatproof mat or cooling rack!

Commercial Grade Materials and Construction for Superior Performance

While it may be tempting to buy the cheapest nonstick pans you can find, since they have a limited recommended lifespan, in my experience, that approach is penny-wise and pound-foolish. I've only made that mistake twice, when I was much younger, and it taught me the value of spending a bit more to get nonstick bakeware made with high quality materials and durable construction. Commercial grade materials and construction, designed to meet the much more demanding requirements of a commercial kitchen, will perform better, last longer, and resist not only warping but also scratches and abrasion, significantly extending their safe, useful life before they need to be replaced. 

I have found that in the long run, the cost of buying well made, commercial quality bakeware and cookware is almost always a better investment than buying cheaper, lower quality, less durable pans that don't perform or hold up as well and need to be replaced much sooner.

Versatile Size for Different Types of Recipes

The OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro Loaf Pan is designed for a 1-pound loaf, which is pretty standard. Since my previous loaf pans had always been 9" x 5" and this one is 8.5" x 4.5", I wanted to make sure the slightly smaller dimensions would work for the majority of recipes. 

The baking pros at King Arthur Baking Company are a trusted, authoritative source of professional expertise. Their advice (like their recipes) is consistently excellent, helpful, and reliable. So, when I was researching nonstick loaf pans, their website was one of the resources I turned to.

The King Arthur blog post on "Choosing the right bread pan" explain that some yeast bread doughs can be baked successfully in either a 9" x 5" or an 8.5" x 4.5" loaf pan, while others turn out better in one size pan or the other, depending on both the type of flour and the number of cups of flour the recipe calls for. 

According to the post, any yeast bread loaf recipe that uses 3 cups of flour (or slightly less) should be baked in an 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" pan. A recipe that uses 3 1/2 cups of flour can be baked in either size pan (although the smaller loaf pan is recommended for whole grain breads and the 9" x 5" pan is preferred for yeast doughs made with all-purpose or bread flour). The only yeast bread doughs that definitely should be baked in the larger pan are single-loaf recipes that use at least 3 3/4 cups of flour, regardless of type. 

Since I can't foresee many occasions when I might want to bake a really large loaf of bread, the article confirmed that an 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" loaf pan would be fine for the majority of recipes, including the (yeast-free) low carb bread I'm mostly baking these days, most of which specify this pan size. It's also a nice size for baking a meatloaf whose slices fit neatly between two slices of bread. (Meatloaf sandwich, anyone? Yes, please!)

photo of length and width markings stamped into the inside of the nonstick loaf pan
The length and width markings are permanently stamped into the metal, instead of the more common printed dimensions that can wear off over time

I also really appreciate having the dimensions in both inches (4.5 x 8.5 in) and centimeters (11.5 x 21.5 cm) stamped permanently into the metal, in large, raised letters and numbers that are very easy to read, without having to turn the pan over to see them.

Note: The exterior dimensions of the OXO pan are 9" x 5", due in part to the wide square-rolled edges; however, the interior dimensions, which are the ones that count, are 8.5" x 4.5".

Made in the USA

It's getting harder to find well made, reasonably priced products manufactured in the USA. I prefer to buy American-made goods, when possible, so the fact that this OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro loaf pan is made in the USA was definitely a big point in its favor. It feels good to support American businesses that make high quality products and continue to manufacture them in this country and providing employment opportunities for American workers, especially now that so many companies have relocated or built plants in countries where they can lower their labor costs by paying cheaper wages.

Note: This pan is "Made in the USA from globally sourced materials." That's not surprising, since fewer and fewer products are being manufactured exclusively with USA-sourced materials. 

Excellent Value

For me, the value of a product is a function of both price and quality: is what the product provides in terms of function, form, useful lifespan, etc., worth the price? It's common for manufacturers to compete for market share by identifying popular, successful, highly rated products from other companies and creating their own versions (knock-offs) that look and sound extremely similar and cost less. But in order to sell the product for less, they need to manufacture it for less (or use a different distribution model, such as direct-to-consumer sales). And, often, the way they bring down the retail price is to cut corners, either by removing certain features or using less expensive (and usually lower quality) materials or manufacturing/construction methods. 

Since the OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro Loaf Pan looks quite similar to the higher-priced Williams-Sonoma Goldtouch Pro Loaf Pan of the same size, I decided to compare their technical specs and product descriptions before finalizing my decision to purchase the OXO pan. Here's how they stack up against each other, as of this writing, with differences highlighted in green (better value) or orange (not as much value):

OXO Good Grips Non-Stick ProWillams-Sonoma Goldtouch Pro
Size:8.5 x 4.5 x 2.75 inches high 8.5 x 4.5 x 2.75 inches high
Capacity:1 lb.1 lb.
Where It's Made:Made in the USA with globally sourced materialsMade in the USA with globally sourced materials
Materials:Commercial-grade aluminized steelCommercial-grade aluminized steel
Light-colored, ceramic-reinforced, PFOA-free nonstick coatingLight-colored, ceramic-reinforced, PFOA-free nonstick coating
Max Temperature:Up to 450 ℉Up to 450 ℉
Dishwasher Safe:Yes, but hand washing recommendedYes, but hand washing recommended
Construction:Seamless, molded constructionSeamed, folded construction
Square-rolled rim formed from a single sheet of steelRim reinforced with coated wire
Micro-textured diamond-patterned bottom surfaceSmooth bottom surface
Price as of 1/12/21:$17.99 on amazon.com$21.95 on williams-sonoma.com
Shipping Cost:Prime FREE delivery (for Amazon Prime members)$6.99 shipping and processing fee for standard shipping (3-Day Select)
MA Sales Tax:$1.12$1.37
Total Cost (Delivered):$19.11$30.31

Based on the product information I was able to find on Amazon, Williams-Sonoma, and other retailers' sites, the two pans are extremely similar in some ways. However, the OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro Loaf Pan's seamless, molded construction and rounded corners give it an edge in terms of durability, warp-resistance, and ease of cleaning. Best of all, those superior features and attributes also come at a better price. The total cost for this pan, including the purchase price, sales tax, and delivery, is 30 percent less than the total delivered cost of the similar Williams-Sonoma Goldtouch Pro Loaf Pan!

Getting a better pan for less money definitely makes the OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro pan an excellent value.

Timing is Everything!

The day before this post was published, I noticed this pan wasn't in stock on Amazon, but could be ordered with an expected delivery date in late February. However, it is a few minutes before this post is set to publish, and it appears that, at the moment, the pan is no longer available to buy new at the $17.99 price with free delivery. A couple of sellers are offering new pans for twice that price, and it's currently available in Used - Very Good condition from Amazon Warehouse for $16.55 with free Prime Delivery. If you're interested in getting one or more of these nonstick loaf pans, I suggest checking back once a week over the next few weeks to see when it becomes available to order new for $17.99 again with free Prime delivery.

Wouldn't Someone You Know Love to Receive a New, High Quality Nonstick Loaf Pan?

Most home cooks and bakers own at least one loaf pan. But chances are good that either they don't yet have a well-made, nonstick loaf pan that's in good shape and has a PFOA-free coating, or that they have a nonstick loaf pan (or two) that is starting to show a few scratches and is no longer safe to use, but they haven't yet gotten around to buying a new one to replace it. 

Either way, I'm sure that one (or a pair) of these OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro Loaf Pans would be a welcome addition to their kitchen cabinet, pantry, or wherever they keep their baking pans. And with a price tag of only $17.99, it's an affordable as well as thoughtful gift that they will likely get a lot of use from. 

Happy baking!


OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro Loaf Pan Review by Margaret Schindel


Posts In This Series About My Keto Diet Journey

The Best Low Carb Keto Gift Ideas: Keto Gift Guide

The Ultimate Keto Hot Chocolate Recipe

Keto Cheddar Cheese Biscuits With Chives Recipe

My Favorite Hamama Microgreens Seed Quilt Accessories

Hamama Microgreens Growing Kit Review & Success Tips

Good Dee’s Keto Cookie Low Carb Baking Mix Review

Low Carb Keto Chocolate Yogurt Granola Chip Pudding Recipe

Low Carb Muffins & Cupcakes: Treats to Enjoy on a Keto Diet

Preparing to Succeed on the Keto Diet, Part Two

Preparing to Succeed on the Keto Diet, Part One

My First Year on The Keto Diet


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Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Jeffrey Archer's False Impression Book Review

Jeffrey Archer's False Impression Book ReviewI started reading both the new book about Megan and Harry and the new book about the former U.S. president before I settled in with another Jeffrey Archer book, False Impression. I found the royal book a bit pretentious, the presidential book interesting but not quite what I wanted to read at the moment and the Archer book, a conspiracy thriller, riveting. Therefore, I am able to offer you a book review today of False Impression. Which book would you have chosen?

Anyway, it turns out that the difficult year of 2020 has had a very real impact on my reading choices. I seem to want well-crafted page turners, which give me a break from the simple, everyday routine of a life that is home bound. I work online, run essential errands, take plenty of walks and, like so many that are privileged to be able to stay home to stay safe, I do not do much else or see family or friends. A book to escape with has proven essential and Jeffrey Archer has fit the bill. 

I spent a large part of the spring and summer with his mammoth seven book series the Clifton Chronicles so this is the eighth Archer book I have read this year. When recently I could not settle in with any of my own book choices, my husband magically produced Jeffrey Archer's False Impression. I expect my husband was remembering how much I enjoyed the previous Archer books and that he picked this one because it includes a good look into the art world, which I do enjoy learning about.

THE STORY


The story? Well, start with a woman murdered in England the night before 9/11. Add in a brilliant art expert currently working for a crooked banker who is obsessed with owning various masterpieces at any price with his current choice being Van Gogh's Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear. Finally, add the banker's unlikely secretary, an honors graduate, and a handsome FBI agent.

The trip follows these characters around numerous bends that takes us on a trip that includes the cities of  New York, London, Bucharest and Tokyo until the Van Gogh painting finally has a new owner.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED


I could not put False Impression down. I read it for hours in the middle of night. I read it when I woke up in the morning. I gave my husband a good laugh when hours later I was still reading. Not surprising really given how much I enjoyed the previous Archer books but definitely surprising given that I am usually up bright and early every morning preparing eBay parcels and working online

Yes, this book is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by me. It does a good job of sharing a bit about the twin towers, art history, English aristocracy and it includes a nasty villain, a female assassin and the FBI. The story keeps you wanting to know what happens next and it does so until the end of the book. I particularly enjoyed the armchair travel, the art and art history and the occasional humor, which mainly arose between the two main characters.

You should know that the book does include the tragic events of 9/11 and that the main character works in the North Tower. 
  

MORE REVIEWS


Well, this is when normally I say "but don't take my word for it" and give you a few stellar quotes from other online reviews but it turns out that this book received mixed reviews from the professionals so I cannot do that. However, Artis-Ann of The Yorkshire Times did like the book saying "she realizes and admits that you can enjoy the most erudite (knowledge filled) compositions alongside a jolly good yarn which doesn’t require very much concentration. After all, each to his own and the world would be a poorer place if we all liked the same thing." She also said that "she enjoys the temporary escapism that books offer and their variety and that this is another example." I think she summed it up nicely. 

Amazon readers liked False Impression with 88 percent of them giving the book a 4 or 5 star rating and Goodreads readers gave it a score of 3.81.

If you're looking for an easy to read in the form of an entertaining book with art, art history and travel, you should add False Impression to your list. You can see all of the versions available on Amazon by clicking right here.

See you
at the book store!
Brenda
Treasures By Brenda

Quick Links:

Buy False Impression on Amazon. 

Jeffrey Archer False Impression - Vincent Van Gogh's Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear








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Monday, January 11, 2021

Guard Your ID Stamp Reviewed

 I received this very practical and very useful gadget for Christmas and the Guard Your ID stamp has quickly climbed to the top of my favorite gadget list!




How The Guard Your ID Works

I believe this gadget falls under the "Why Didn't I Think Of That!" category for paper management. While I make every effort to go paperless I still receive unsolicited and undesired direct mail advertisements printed with my personal information.

Many times the direct mail advertisements are heavy on paper and envelopes, but have your personal information just one spot. The Guard Your ID stamp is perfect to quickly eliminate the personal information to then dispose of the mailer in the trash or in the paper to be shredded pile. 

Easy as 1-2-3 simply open the stamp, blot out your personal information on the mailer and you are done!

Quick, Easy & Convenient

I love the ease of this gadget. All you have to remember is to replace the cap, give a twist to the cap and the ink and stamp is stored safely for the next use.

Paper Shredders Plus Guard Your ID

The Guard Your ID stamp is the perfect companion to the traditional paper shredder to protect personal information. If you have ever tangled with a home paper shredder I have found that our home shredder is not fond of the mailers and envelopes. Nothing like having a few unwanted envelopes stuck in the shredder to try and untangle.


Fun Practical Gift

I liked this gadget so much I purchased the three pack to have one at the office and two in the gift bag stash. A great little add on for practical gift giving. Savings Hint: Coupons on the single stamp and three pack are available frequently on amazon for a nice savings!




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Sunday, January 10, 2021

Review of LED Rechargeable Strip Lights for Closets, Kitchens and More

LED Rechargeable Strip Lighting - No Batteries Required

I purchased LED rechargeable strip lights for my son's closet as a small Christmas gift, and wow, great product.

LED Strip Lighting for Closets and More

My son loves ambient lighting and has positioned stip-lighting behind his desk, his piano, and bed headboard, and they look amazing. However, those particular strip lights require electricity, and that's fine for furniture pieces near an outlet, but not for a closet.

In my search for a creative gift, I came across strip lights that are rechargeable. My first thought was, what-the-heck is rechargeable strip lights? First of all, I despise lights that require batteries. Batteries are simply an added cost. So the word "rechargeable" piqued my interest.

My son's closet is big enough to step into, and I wanted to get lighting for it without resorting to something that requires batteries.

In my search, I came across these Medulla Strip Lights and decided to give them a try. Good decision. They're fantastic. 

Here's how they look in his closet:


One set was enough to reach across the back of the closet. The closet is about 5.5 feet wide. He positioned the lights along the back wall of the closet. You can put them under the top shelf; however, he felt they would be better across the back. 

Here's Another Look at His Closet:


Settings on the Led Strip Lights

On his model, there are three settings; On, Off, and Auto. Also, the brightness can be adjusted up or down. Auto activates the motion sensor - which is fantastic. The lights stay off until it senses motion when you open your closet. That helps to preserve battery life.

Easy to Install With Built-In Adhesive

Simply peel the protective backing off of the strip lights and install them where you want. They secured perfectly for my son. His were placed on wood. The rechargeable unit also has adhesive on it and can easily be positioned where you want to put it.

How Long Does the Battery Last?

The instructions indicate that when you have the strip lighting set at Auto (Motion Sensor), assuming you open and close your closet 5 times a day, the charge should last approximately 30 days. My son hasn't had it that long yet and hasn't had to do a recharge.

How Do You Recharge LED Strip Lighting?

This unit has a USB port and a short USB cord. Simply plug it into a USB outlet. I imagine you could use your computer to recharge; however, we have a power cord with built-in USB slots, so we intend on using that.

Other Places You Can Put this Convenient Strip Lighting:

  • Staircases
  • Under bedframes for kids for added lighting when they step out of bed.
  • Sheds and Garages
  • Under kitchen cupboards
  • Dark corners that need lighting from time to time
  • The back of headboards for ambient lighting
  • Home entertainment systems
More Info On Recharging the Battery

Below Margaret asked some good questions that I thought would better be mentioned up here:

Does the Recharging Unit Detach for Charging?

Yes, it does. Simply pull it out from the end where the connection is made to the lights.

More Info on Recharging

My son plans on using a recharging brick (you know, the ones from cell phones). He'll simply plug the charging unit into the brick, and then plug the brick into the wall. The unit comes with a short cord to attach the closet charging unit to the brick. Of course, you can plug it into a laptop or PowerBar with USB connections as well. I think the brick connection is the easiest. 

How the Charging Unit Attaches to the Wall

The unit comes with a magnetic strip with an adhesive backing. Simply place the magnetic strip on the wall (stick it), then the rechargeable unit attaches to the magnetic strip for easy removal when it's time to recharge.






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Saturday, January 9, 2021

How Did I Become a Bookworm?

 I haven't written many book reviews when you consider how many books I've read in my life.  The reason why is because I don't want to inadvertently ruin the book for someone by mentioning a twist or alluding to something I saw in the book that they interpreted differently until much later.

Image from Pixabay

Hi, my names Louanne and I'm a bookworm, I've been a bookworm for as long as I can remember certainly before I started school.   My parents always read to us before going to bed (until we wanted to read by ourselves) and my mum told me a few years ago about dad trying to skip a few pages and make up the story in order to get me asleep quicker and I would get quite pretentious in telling him - that's not what it says and making him start again!

My daughter went into daycare from about 14 months old and I was told by the staff what a large vocabulary she had.   Like my parents before me, I had always read to her because, in my opinion, teaching a child to read a book is like ensuring they will always be able to choose their own adventures.

There are books on every topic and if your child loves space they only have to find a quiet space and the right book and they can transport themselves onto a new planet or a spaceship and have an absolute ball.   If they want to become dragon slayers, fairies, or pirates - there are books available for all of them.

I have always read a wide variety of books, both fiction and non-fiction and I credit this habit of reading for allowing me the ability to think outside of the box and also for doing well at trivia quizzes!

When I was younger I used to read at least one book a day and I collected Bookworm Certificates at school so often the teacher couldn't believe how much I read, she actually told my parents, "Louanne doesn't read books, she inhales them."   I've always remembered that because I was going to put it on my author bio when I published all of my literary works.   Well writing a book hasn't happened (I'd much rather read!), but a couple of my friends (and reviewers on this site) have done so.

Beverley Owens has written some great cozy mysteries, check out her Amazon page here

Barbara Tremblay Cipak - has written riddle books which are so much fun (although sometimes frustrating!), check out her Amazon page here.

What Kind of Bookworm Are You?

Throughout my life people have always asked me one of two questions - who's your favorite author? or what genre of books do you like to read?

I really can't pick a favorite author, there are just so many.   When I was younger I remember loving

Enid Blyton books
Enid Blyton and I would alternate between preferring the Famous Five or the Secret Seven (the Secret Seven won out the most!).   I can remember getting a few of her books as sets for Christmas - Malory Towers & St Claires and I loved that as it wasn't just one book, but a whole set.   After inhaling both these sets I really, really wanted to go to boarding school!

I also found a fondness for Agatha Christie as a teen as she was one of my nan's favourite authors, my nan also introduced me to these cheap little paperback mystery books (the name of the series escapes me now) that were written to be consumed quickly and by a range of different authors.   They were written in much the same style as cozy mysteries which I think is probably why I love settling down with them.

I also discovered Ruth Rendall as a teen and after reading A Murder of Crows was thoroughly hooked.   At the same time as I was reading these, my best friend was delving into the books of Jean Plaidy.  Of course, I had to see what she was reading and so I started 'inhaling' historical fiction as well.

What' genre of books do I like to read is also too hard to answer as I'm sure you can tell from the above paragraph!

When I had finished all the Ruth Rendall & Jean Plaidy books in our local library I decided to pivot and started to read biographies.   I just grabbed the biographies without worrying who they were about - some people I had never heard of before!  I read every biography in the library, some were boring but the majority were so interesting and now and then they'll be a trivia question and I'll say the answer without thinking and I have no idea how I knew it.   Reading - it's great for building knowledge!

When I was 18 &19 I lived with my Gran for nine months and her favorite author was Catherine Cookson so I found myself devouring all of those.  She also enjoyed Danielle Steele.

After that, I tended to alternate between whodunnits and family sagas.   I had moved to a smaller town when I was 19 so I would start reading an author and then read every book the library had by that author before trying a new one.   It was a great way of getting to know new authors, it was where I first came across Penny Vincenzi and I would put her new book title on my Christmas list for several years afterward.

I have the Kindle Paperwhite
Gradually I started adding 'Chick Lit', psychological thrillers & John Grisham to my book lists.  It seems like the only type of book genre I haven't really been able to immerse myself in is science fiction.   I prefer my Sci-fi on the screen.

I am now in my 50s and finally have a kindle which doesn't stop me from reading actual books, by the
way, it just seems to mean I read even more!   I have started to add personal development books into the mix.

Let's have a look at a few of the books I have reviewed here on Review This, let me know which one's you've read as I wouldn't dream of asking you for a favorite author or genre!







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Friday, January 8, 2021

Chocolate Hot Cocoa Bombs Recipe & Review

Hot Cocoa Bombs Recipe


When Wednesday Elf introduced me to Hot Cocoa Bombs in her Cocoa Day review, I knew I would be making them soon! 

I enjoy trying new recipes, especially when they are decorative and fun to make.  I have always referred to that as Fun Food created while crafting in the kitchen.  It combines my two favorite things to do:  cooking & crafting.

I decided to make the Hot Cocoa Bombs as a special treat for my family on Christmas Eve. They were fantasic! Truly the best hot cocoa or hot chocolate I have ever tasted and we all enjoyed watching them "explode" inside the mug.

This delicious hot drink would be a wonderful treat for any holiday party, gathering, or just for fun!

 

Hot Cocoa Bomb Recipe

I looked at several existing recipes before I decided to combine ideas instead of using just one. 

To start, I liked the idea to create a round ball by "gluing" two pieces together.  I promptly ordered 2 sets of large sphere shaped silicone molds which would make 12 round hot cocoa bombs.  I have worked with silicone molds many times and love them!   

An alternative to gluing two pieces together would be to simply cover each filled 1/2 sphere with a layer of melted chocolate chips. I will try this at some point in the future.  Decorating a flat surface would be fun and would still provide the same tasty treat. 


Preparation Time Using 1 Set of Sphere Silicone Molds

Set your silicone molds on a cookie sheet for easy moving!  Use a microwavable glass bowl

   
Prep Time Microwave Time Ready In Yields
30 minutes 45 seconds,
then 15 sec intervals to melt
1 hour 30 min. 6 servings

 

Ingredients for My Hot Cocoa Bombs

 
  • 12 ounce bag Chocolate Chips
  • Hot Cocoa Mix  (I used 2 packets of Hershey,s
  • Mini Marshmallows, chopped peppermint, chopped toffee (for filling)
  • Sprinkles or Chocolate shaving for decorating

 

Directions for Making Hot Cocoa Bombs

  1. Melt 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips in the microwave in 15 second intervals, stirring in between cook times until fully melted
  2. Chocolate Hot Cocoa Bombs
  3. Using a spoon, smooth 2 teaspoons of melted chocolate (for each cavity) up the sides and around the bottom  (save any leftovers and don't wash your bowl yet)
  4. Set in the refrigerator for 30 minutes
  5. Lay the silicone mold face down on a cookie tray and carefully "roll" the silicone cups from the chocolate bomb pieces one at at time.  (take your time!  You don't want to break the chocolate bomb pieces)
  6. Fill 6 cavities with 1 Tablespoon hot cocoa mix, 6 or 7 mini marshmallows and/or other selected fillings
  7. Melt about a teaspoon chocolate chips and use this as the "glue" to attach the top sphere to the lower filled sphere
  8. Set in the refrigerator for 30 minutes
  9. Decorate your cocoa bombs with sprinkles, chocolate shavings, chocolate drizzle, etc.
 

To serve, pour hot milk over the chocolate bomb and watch for melting drama to unfold! Of course, you will need a spoon to stir the ingredients the bomb has "exploded".

 

I found that melted chocolate chips were not a great consistancy for drizzle and did not make beautiful thin drizzles, but since the hot cocoa bombs are so big, it didn't really matter. If you want a pretty thin drizzle, I recommend buying melting chocolate and using a drizzle spoon.






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Chocolate Hot Cocoa Bombs Recipe & Review Written by:
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© 2021 Cynthia Sylvestermouse
 



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