Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Lessons in Chemistry Written by Bonnie Garmus ~ A Book Review

Warning Warning Warning:

Lessons in Chemistry is a book that will make you smile, get hot under the collar, shed a tear or two and make you turn the pages and not put it down.

Bonnie Garmus has written this book and it's a winner in my opinion. Today is the day that you can get this book in hardcopy or  you can read it from Kindle Unlimited!



Lessons in Chemistry takes place in the late 1950's early 1960's.  For anyone who grew up during that time period, you know as many women today still know, there is a disconnect in society when it comes to intelligent, talented, women in sciences.  It is getting better these days,  but for Elizabeth Zott life was not easy at all.

Elizabeth was a scientist, a chemist to be exact.  Her intelligence and understanding of complicated chemical processes is far superior to many of her male counterparts.  She, herself,  is never taken seriously though!  

She does manage to get a job at a Research Facility and there meets Calvin Evans another scientist who has the same intense understanding of Chemistry as Elizabeth.  He takes her seriously and they work side by side making good progress on their existing projects.  

Falling in love wasn't quite in the books for either Calvin or Elizabeth, science was their first love.  But another type of chemistry starts to blossom.  

Calvin, because of his "elevated" position at Hasting Research, is able to pave the way for Elizabeth to continue working in the research labs.  She has him to thank for the position she currently has.

But, like all things, nothing is static and things are always changing.  When Elizabeth is no longer welcome in the labs(due to changes in her personal life), her natural good looks and a sense of desperation,  take her to afternoon TV and a cooking show.  

There are so many twists and turns coming that I would be giving away too much of the plot to tell you more here.  

Let me just say that I could not put this book down.  

Smart women, glass ceilings, misogenistic groups all play a part in Elizabeth Zott's life.  What she does about it, is what makes this book such a good read.  

Put this book on your "TO READ" list, you won't be disappointed!






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Tuesday, March 29, 2022

National Crayon Day Review

March 31st is National Crayon Day – a day to celebrate the creation of crayons and the joy of coloring.



Children love to color and a box of crayons and a coloring book will give them hours of fun. Today, even adults enjoy this childhood activity; albeit with intricate designs created just for them as an artistic challenge of expression.


The Origin of Crayons


Image Source: Pixabay

Crayons date back to the 17th century, although those were not made of wax and were not as durable as today's wax crayons. Colored wax crayons for children were invented by  Binney & Smith in 1903. They are a company which produces paint, pigments and slate pencils for schools. They also produce a dustless chalk, originally invented at the request of teachers. The wax and chalk-based crayons are also popular with artists.


Crayon Trivia


  • Did you know that the smell of crayons is the most recognizable scent of all?
  • There are 120 Crayola Colors
  • The most popular crayon color is BLUE
  • Crayola has made over 237 billions crayons over the years.


Crayola Crayons


Image Source: Pixabay

The first box of Crayola crayons was sold as an eight-pack with colors; black, brown, blue, red, violet, orange, yellow, and green. We still have this first box of colorful creations today with the same original colors, just with a more modernized look. Boxes of crayons come in many sizes from 8-count to 120. There are also various varieties of crayons, including washable and erasable.

Check out Crayola.com for the names of all 120 colors available today. 


Summary


To celebrate this colorful day, get out some crayons and a coloring book and get to work. Coloring is a kid-favorite activity. And, if you are an adult, it will surely bring back fond memories and make you feel like a kid again. 


National Crayon Day
March 31


Image Source: Pixabay


Links to Coloring Article Reviews:




*National Crayon Day Review written by Wednesday Elf






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Monday, March 28, 2022

Tiny Showcase Review

Tuesday is tiny artist day on the Tiny Showcase! The tiny showcase is a fabulous showcase for the independent artist offering small scale and affordable art for all.  



The About page eloquently and accurately captures the vibe of Tiny Showcase "We remain a quiet island" and can't we all appreciate a quiet island! What a wondrous resource the online gallery of the tiny showcase. I find it so refreshing and just darn fun to browse the current art as well as the archives from prior years.
 

Tuesday is Tiny Day!

Every Tuesday limited editions of tiny art by one artist is released. Prospective customers or browsers can sign up for the email notification as a gentle reminder. I love viewing the selections each week. Some may be my taste, some may challenge my taste or some may be a perfect gift. 

Each art piece can be customized on the order form according to your preference. The selections include unframed, framed with mat, framed in maple. Art pieces from prior years (if not sold out) are also available in the archive shop. It is always great to find a new artist then discover the artist may just be new to you and then find prior pieces you may be interested in purchasing or viewing via the archive shop.

 

Does Tiny Showcase Only Feature Art?

For years I have followed and purchased art from Tiny Showcase. The products have expanded in recent years from tiny art to also include: stationary, cards, puzzles, toys, textiles and wearable art. Diversity is wise and the theme of affordable independent art continues whether the purchase is art or art on a card!

Gift cards are also offered to help keep Tiny Showcase a tiny showcase for online curated independent art.





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Sunday, March 27, 2022

Homemade Italian Chicken Bow Tie Soup for a Large Family

This soup recipe is basically an assembling of flavors that I know my family likes.

I frequently purchase ready-made roast chicken from Costco and other grocery stores. Our family is large, so I usually buy three chickens.

When we're done with the chickens, I use the carcasses to make chicken soup broth. You can use any chicken broth. However, I've prepared enough food for two days by purchasing or making three roast chickens and then making soup.

A Bowl of Italian Chicken Bow Tie Soup

Italian Chicken Bow Tie Soup Ingredients for a Large Family

  • Chicken Broth (from leftover cooked chickens, or you can use 7 boxes of store-bought chicken broth)
  • Chicken pieces cut up from the above-cooked chickens, or use 3 separate chicken breasts, and oven bake them (don't let them brown), then cut up into small biteable pieces
  • Hot Water
  • 6 Bouillon Chicken Cubes
  • An Entire Medium Sized Bag of Carrots
  • Full stock of Celery
  • 1 Large Onion
  • 7 Garlic Cloves
  • 1 Green Pepper
  • 4 Tablespoons of Butter
  • 500 grams of Pasta Bow Ties (about a box and a half, with a box holding 340grams)
  • 5 Bay Leaves
  • 3 Teaspoons of Oregano (or whatever amount you prefer)
  • 3 Teaspoons of Basil (or whatever amount you prefer)
  • 5 Teaspoons of Parsley (or whatever amount you prefer)
Step One - Get the Broth Ready

In a large pot, prepare the following: (I use about a 14-quart soup pot - seen below). I fill the pot to about 3/4 with homemade soup for our big family.

This big soup pot feeds our large family - I fill it 3/4 full with homemade soup
  • Boil the leftover whole chickens, then screen the meat out through a strainer. Put the meat aside so you can pull off all usable bites to go back in the soup. I let the chicken meat cool, then put it in the soup near the end.
  • If using the chicken carcasses to make the broth, I boil it for several hours.
  • If you're using store-bought chicken broth, put 7 boxes of broth in the pot - you could even use more!
  • Add 6 bouillon chicken cubes
Step Two - The Carrots

I add the carrots next because they take longer to cook. I use a whole bag of medium carrots. Scrape them, cut them into biteable pieces, and then add them to the soup broth.

Step Three - Lightly Fry These Ingredients

In a frying pan, melt 4 tablespoons of butter, then lightly fry:
  • An entire stock of celery, chopped into biteable pieces
  • A large green pepper, cut into biteable pieces
  • A whole large onion, chopped into fine, ground pieces (I use a mini-chopper)
  • 7 whole garlic cloves chopped fine (I put them into the mini-chopper as well)
I usually fry them on medium heat for about ten minutes, constantly stirring. Put the entire mixture into the soup broth. 

Step Four - The Pasta Bow Ties
  • Boil the pasta bow ties separately until nearly fully cooked
  • Drain and rinse the pasta in cold water
  • Put the pasta in the soup broth
I always cook the pasta separately, then rinse them to reduce the amount of starch in the soup.

Step Five - Add the Chicken
  • Use the chicken from the carcass that you set aside or the chicken you made in the oven. If you're using oven-baked chicken, don't let it brown - you want the color of the soup to be light.
  • Be sure to cut the chicken into small biteable pieces
  • If you're using chicken from the carcass, double-check that there are no bones! I catch bones while pulling the meat away from the carcasses and when I cut it into small pieces. The bones reveal themselves when cutting. Take your time, and be extra careful.
Step Six - The Flavoring

I never measure this part; I simply add the amount I think makes the soup taste right for my family. The measurements below are merely for your own guidance.
  • Add 3 teaspoons of Oregano (or whatever amount you want)
  • Add 3 teaspoons of Basil (or whatever amount you want)
  • Add 4 teaspoons of  Parsley (or whatever amount you want)
  • Add 5 Bay Leaves for flavor (don't eat them)
  • Salt to taste (optional - I don't salt, I allow each person to salt their own bowls)
Step Seven - Add The Boiling Water

At this point, I boil water using my tea kettle and pour the boiling hot water into the soup pot until it reaches about three-quarters full from the top of the pot.

Leave it on the stove on low heat, and let everyone eat soup all day long!

Homemade Italian Chicken Bow Tie Soup for a Large Family






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Saturday, March 26, 2022

One Step Too Far – Book Review

 Book 2 in the new Frankie Elkin mystery series by Lisa Gardner. 



Last June I reviewed Book 1 (Before She Disappeared) in the Frankie Elkin series. At last, Book 2 has arrived ~ One Step Too Far


Frankie Elkin is a recovering alcoholic who travels the country searching for missing people. She does this for no money or recognition. Her reason is known only to her, but she feels compelled to search for those whom the police have given up on due to too many other cases that CAN be solved, and when the public no longer remembers and the media has never bothered to care. 


Synopsis of One Step Too Far


Wyoming Wilderness -Image Source: Pixabay

A young man goes missing in the wilderness of Wyoming. He and his 3 best friends had gone on a camping trip in the mountains for his bachelor party prior to getting married. The trip was Timothy O'Day's choice of a pre-wedding time with his friends. Tim was a very experienced camper who knew the woods and surrounding wilderness well. 

A set of circumstances caused Tim to leave the campsite and somehow disappear completely. He left behind his guilt-ridden groomsmen, two heartbroken parents, and a pile of clues that don't make any sense. Numerous searches were conducted, yet no trace of him was ever found.

Five years later, Tim's father is organizing one last search in an attempt to find what surely has to be nothing but bones now. But it's time for closure. The rescue team is made up of eight people, including the 3 best friends from that fateful night, a trained woodsman friend of the father, an experienced guide and a woman with her search & rescue trained dog.

Frankie Elkin doesn't know the woods, but she knows how to find people. She joins the rescue team, despite their reluctance. As they hike into the mountains, it becomes apparent that something dangerous is at work in the woods. Someone seems to be trying to stop their search. Time is running out and Frankie and the search party soon discover that evil waits for those who go one step too far..... 


Summary 


Amazon gives mixed reviews of this book. Some readers love it, some hate it. I liked it. I liked the character in the first book in the series and was interested in seeing what happens with Frankie in Book 2. I am also a fan of author Lisa Gardner and her 23 other suspense novels. I enjoy her style of writing. I particularly like the fact that she ends the story, then does another chapter of an Epilogue, filling you in on all the things that happen after a situation is resolved. Many books leave you to wonder. Lisa answers the questions you may have been left with. 

So, if you are a Lisa Gardner fan and like suspense stories with a continuing character, I recommend One Step Too Far. I would suggest you begin with Book 1 – Before She Disappeared – as the author makes a few references to things that happened to Frankie on her first missing person's case in Boston. 


Related Links of Lisa Gardner Book Reviews:




*Book Review of One Step Too Far written by Wednesday Elf




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Friday, March 25, 2022

Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Brownie Mix with Chocolate Chips in the Mix Reviewed

Brown Mix
I recently tried Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Brownie Mix made with a special ingredient and loved it!  

My sister, sister-in-law and I went shopping together before Christmas.  When I spotted the Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Brownie Mix, I commented that I would like to try it because it included the chocolate chips.  While I rarely use baking mixes, I thought using the mix might make the Christmas baking a little easier.

The sales associate of the kitchen shoppe offered to make a batch of her brownies so we could taste them.  She had a special ingredient she added that she thought we would want to try.  I am so glad we accepted her offer.  They were the best brownies I have ever eaten.  

Needless to say, we left the shoppe with several gift bags that included the brownie mix and the shoppe's special ingredient, blood orange olive oil.

 

Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Brownie Mix

 Ghirardelli Brownie Mix, Dark Chocolate, 20 ozCheck PriceThe #1 reason I wanted to try the Ghirardelli mix is because it included chocolate chips and required only 1 egg, water and olive oil to make.  Those are ingredients that are always in my kitchen.

Using the newly discovered blood orange olive oil gives these delicious brownies an extra punch with a slight taste of orange. Everyone in my family loves them!  I definitely look forward to using the blood orange olive oil in additional recipes.

We don't all agree on whether brownies should be iced or not, so I make a small recipe of icing.  Those who want the icing don't agree on whether it should have nuts or not, so I divide the icing in half and mix walnuts or pecans in half of the icing.  Therefore, one batch of brownies makes 3 different treats.  Add a scoop of ice cream and you have the perfect dessert.

 

Easy Brownie Frosting Recipe

Brownies
*Baking Products are Linked in recipe so you can see recommended product packaging. 
However, prices are based on shipped products. 
Most likely, the items will be much less expensive in your local grocery store.
  1. In a medium mixing bowl, stir powdered sugar and cocoa together.  
  2. Heat butter & milk together in a small saucepan to melt the butter.  
  3. Gradually beat (with a hand mixer) the butter & milk into the cocoa/sugar mixture until smooth.  
  4. Stir in pecans or walnuts, if desired.


Brownies
Pampered Chef Brownie Pan for Perfectly Shaped Brownies

 

A Note about the Specialty Shoppe We Visited

As far as I know, the Bazaar Orange Olive Oil that we purchased is only sold at the Bazaar store in Collierville, Tn, located in the historic Collierville Town Square.  Sadly, I couldn't find an online resource. 

If you love to cook and are ever in Collierville, Tn, you should definitely plan to spend a few hours in this store.  It isn't a big store, but it is packed with fabulous unique kitchen items, including their specialty oils and vinegars.  I love this kitchen specialty store and their extremely helpful sales associates! 



Check Out More Recipe Reviews at
ReviewThisRecipes.com






Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Brownie Mix with Chocolate Chips in the Mix Reviewed Written by:
House of Sylvestermouse





© 2021 Cynthia Sylvestermouse
 



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Thursday, March 24, 2022

Book Review Smoke on the Whiteadder

 

This thrilling historical novel takes place in Scotland in the 1500's.  It is very well researched and in addition to following the  tale of the Cowan family you will learn about historical figures such as Mary Queen of Scotts, Queen Elizabeth, King James I, Sir Walter Raleigh, and many more memorable people from this time period.  

The Plot Line

     The story follows the lives of the Cowan family who live in Chirnside, Berwickshire, Scotland in the estate called Edington.  They are tenants of Sir Lauder.  Sir Lauder lives in the castle on the  manor and his tenants live on his property in meager housing.  They tend the land around their homes and pay a portion of their income as rent to Sir Lauder.  Sir Lauder has great control over his tenants including what they plant and what animals they have.
      In this book we are first introduced to Paul Cowan, as he is meeting with Sir Lauder for his report of his crops.  In the book we follow the joys and sorrows of the family through three generations.  We rejoice in the marriages and births and are sad when death, famine and home burnings are way too prevalent through the years.  The book shows how the political and religious turmoil of the times effects the family and their lifestyle.

The Book on Amazon

Here is a link to the book which can be purchased through Amazon both as a paperback and in electronic form.  Smoke on the Whiteadder

The Author's Notes

The author's notes are of course at the end of the book, so I didn't realize that the Cowans were a real family until I got to that point.  For me, this made the story even more interesting,  Here is a quote from the author's notes.
     "This family saga is based on the genealogial journey of my maternal ancestors, the Cowans.  It necessarily includes mention of related families as they encoountered the Cowans.  Consequently, you will be introduced to people with many other surnames.
     I like to put my stories in context with the broader social picture, especially as it describes the conditions that resulted in particular actions on the part of the story's charcters.  For this reason, the book includes vignettes about people like Henry VIII, Mary I, known as Bloody Mary, Elizabeth I, Sir Walter Raleigh and many more."

My Recommendation

I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  I found  it very compelling and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical fiction.  I am looking forward to the next book by the author where he continues on with the story of the Cowans.




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Wednesday, March 23, 2022

The Best Bone-Conduction Bluetooth Headphones Review: Shokz OpenRun Pro

If you enjoy listening to music, radio, podcasts or audiobooks, watching TV, movies, YouTube, etc., Bluetooth headphones are a must-have — especially if you don't live (or work) alone. If you want to be able to hear ambient noises, such as a phone call, someone speaking to you or an approaching car as you're crossing the street, you'll want to choose open-ear headphones, rather than on-ear or in-ear styles, such as earbuds. And if you care about sound quality and comfort, I highly recommend investing in a good pair of lightweight bone-conduction Bluetooth headphones.

Shokz, which changed its name from Aftershokz in 2021, is the leading brand of bone-conduction Bluetooth heaphones, for good reason. I have owned several pairs over the years and the company's products just keep getting better. 

I recently purchased the new, top-of-the-line (as of this writing) Shokz OpenRun Pro premium bone conduction Bluetooth headphones, which were launched in January 2022 and are significantly superior to my older models. In this product review, I'll share what I love most about my new Shokz OpenRun Pro on-ear headphones and why I think they are worth their premium price tag. I will also recommend some less expensive models of Shokz bone conduction headphones that are also well worth considering, depending on your needs and your budget.

Main image: Shokz OpenRun Pro Bone Conduction Open-Ear Bluetooth Headphones

Bone Conduction Headphones

I first learned about bone conduction headphone technology in 2015 from my husband, who researched and purchased his first pair of Shokz (then called Aftershokz) bone-conduction headphones after his primary care doctor advised him to stop wearing earbuds, over-ear or on-ear headphones because of his ear eczema. When his new 'phones arrived, he invited me to try them and I became a fan almost immediately (it did take a couple of minutes to get used to the mild vibration against my outer cheekbones the first time I put them on).

Unlike traditional wired and wireless types, Bluetooth headphones with bone conduction technology bypass the eardrum entirely! Instead of sending vibrations through the air to your eardrum, bone-conduction headphones use transducers to transmit those vibrations through your cranial bones (mainly cheekbones and jawbone) directly to your inner ear, causing the cochlea to send signals to the brain, which processes those vibrations into the sound coming through the headphones.

Interesting fact: Since bone conduction technology bypasses the eardrum, it is also used in certain types of hearing impairment tests and hearing aids.

Advantages of Open-Ear Bluetooth Headphones

We continue to move inexorably from wired to wireless technology. We have become accustomed to the freedom and convenience of no longer being tethered to our devices or having limited mobility while using them because they need to be plugged in. This is especially true when it comes to headphones. Most wireless headphones and the devices we use them with, such as laptops, tablets and smartphones,  have built-in Bluetooth technology. So, for example, when I'm out taking a walk, I can listen to an audiobook through my wireless Bluetooth headphones while the iPhone I'm playing it on is safely zipped inside my purse, backpack or belt bag.

Types of wireless Bluetooth headphones include:

  • Earbuds that fit inside your ears.
  • In-ear monitors (IEMs). These are often the choice of serious audiophiles, professional musicians, band members and sound engineers.
  • Over-ear headphones with cushioned ear cups that enclose your ears completely to isolate whatever you are listening to from ambient noise. Again, if you are a serious audiophile, professional musician or sound engineer, or if you are a frequent traveler, these definitely have their uses.
  • On-ear headphones, where the cushioning rests against your ears, rather than enclosing them, so there is less sound isolation (i.e., you can hear some ambient sounds and others may be able to hear what you are listening to, i.e., sound leakage).
  • Open-ear headphones, which have a slim, wrap-around headband that goes behind the head and above the ears, with the ends resting on your cheekbones just in front of the ears. Most open-ear headphones, including the Shokz OpenRun Pro headphones, use bone conduction technology.
Here are some of the key benefits of open-ear Bluetooth headphones:

  • Comfort. Open-ear headphones tend to be significantly more lightweight than other types that have bands. In addition, some people (including me) find earbuds and IEMs painful. In my case, I can't get earbuds to stay in my ears, and I have tried many different types including those designed specifically for people with hard-to-fit ears!
  • Safety. Open-ear headphones allow you to hear what's going on around you while you're listening to music, audiobooks, podcasts, videos or TV, taking phone calls, etc. So, if you're out for a run in the park and a cyclist is bearing down on you from behind, you won't be caught off-guard. Similarly, if you're vacuuming and an important call comes in, you can not only hear the phone ring but also pick it up and talk with the caller without having to pull out your cell phone or walk over to a land line.
  • Hygiene. When you cover your ears with earbuds, over-ear or on-ear headphones, you're creating an enclosed, warm, moist environment that bacteria thrive in. Earbuds and IEMs are especially non-hygienic, since you are repeatedly inserting them inside your ear, where they become covered with bacteria that can continue to grow after they have been removed. Ick!

    In addition, some people (including my husband and me) have ear eczema, which makes the skin in and on our ears dry, flaky and itchy. Wearing headphones that cover our ears, and especially earbuds or IEMs that fit inside them, exacerbates this condition, whereas open-ear bone conduction Bluetooth headphones allow the skin in and on our ears to "breathe."
  • Unobtrusive appearance. The band on most open-ear Bluetooth headphones is narrow and can be worn under your hair, if desired (unless it's extremely short), so that the only visible part is the small ends containing the transducers, which sit just in front of your ears.
Photo of man wearing Shokz OpenRun Pro Bluetooth bone conduction headphones
The Shokz OpenRun Pro wrap-around band is extremely thin, lightweight and comfortable.

It can easily be hidden underneath your hair, if you wish, so that only the small transducers are visible in front of the ears.

Why I Highly Recommend Shokz OpenRun Pro Premium Bone Conduction Open-Ear Bluetooth Headphones

In addition to the pros of open-ear, bone-conduction Bluetooth headphones I've already covered, here are some features and benefits specific to the Shokz OpenRun Pro model I own:

  • close-up of Shokz OpenRun Pro bone conduction headphones control buttons
    Simple power & volume control buttons
     on the right side (above magnetic charging port

    Shokz's newest, most advanced bone conduction technology. Bass tends to be an issue with open-ear headphones, but the new OpenRun Pro 'phones feature Shokz TurboPitch 9th Generation Bone Conduction Technology with CoreCushion bass enhancers inside the transducers for full, rich sound.
  • Multi-point pairing lets you pair with two devices at the same time. I have my Shokz bone-conduction Bluetooth headphones paired with my laptop and my iPhone by default, so I don't have to disconnect and re-pair my Shokz each time I switch from one electronics device to the other multiple times a day.
  • Simple, intuitive controls. The buttons have been enlarged, which makes it much easier to avoid pressing the wrong button.
    • On the right side, there is a large Power/Volume+ button and  Volume- button. Press and hold the Power/Volume+ button for two seconds to power up the headphones, then press and hold it for three seconds to turn them off.
    • Close-up of multifunction button on Shokz OpenRun Pro headphones
      The multifunction button on the
      left side is context-aware.
      On the left side, there is a single, large, context-sensitive multifunction button. Phone calls: Click it once to answer or end a call. Music: Click once to play/pause, double-click while the music is playing to skip to the next song, or triple-click while the music is playing to go to the previous song.
  • Up to 10-hour of music and phone calls on a full charge. Note: With any Bluetooth or other wireless headphones, your actual battery life will depend on the type of audio you're listening to, the volume, the ambient temperature and the output of the USB port used to charge your headphones.  
  • Full charge time: 1 hour. That's pretty fast for 10 hours of use!
  • 5-minute quick charge = 1.5 hours of use. Since these are so lightweight and comfortable, I sometimes forget I'm wearing them and don't remember to turn them off when I'm through listening to my music, audiobook, etc. So, being able to quick-charge them for 5 minutes and immediately use them for another 1.5 hours is an awesome feature!
  • close-up of magnetic induction charging cable and headphone jack
    Magnetic induction charging =
    no fumbling to align the
    charging cable with the charging port!
    Magnetic induction charging cable. The magnetic charging pad on the Shokz OpenRun Pro charging cable firmly snaps into place automatically as soon as it gets near the magnetic charging pad next to the power and volume buttons. Fast and effortless! The location of the charging pad on the headphones has also been moved to make it more easily accessible.
  • Audio battery level notifications. There's no need to guess how much charge you have left, because each time you power on your headphones, a voice will say "Battery High," "Battery Medium," "Battery Low" or "Charge Me." How cool is that?
  • LED charging/charged indicator glows red when charging, then turns blue when fully charged.
  • 20% smaller than previous models. My new Shokz OpenRun Pro headphones are not only more unobtrusive than the older models I have owned, they are also much more lightweight and fit my small-ish head much better, while stil fitting my husband's much larger head equally comfortably.
  • IP55 certified water-resistant. Wear your Shokz OpenRun Pros during a sweaty workout or outdoors in the freezing rain, snow, or blistering heat—they can take it! Just remember that they're water-resistant, not waterproof, so take them off if it starts to pour.
  • Moisture detection alerts. Shokz OpenRun Pro headphones will beep to let you know if it detects water, perspiration or other moisture on the charging pads, so you can stop charging and allow the area to dry completely before charging. 
  • Dual noise-canceling built-in microphone. Perfect for making or taking phone calls or participating in Zoom meetings without annoying electronic feedback.
  • 33 ft. wireless range lets my phone be in one room while I listen to music or audiobooks playing on it in another room.
  • Lightweight nylon fitted zippered hard shell storage and travel case makes it harder for me to lose my new headphones, charging cable, sports headband, warranty card or user guide and protects my investment when I throw them into my purse or suitcase.
  • Optional elasticized headband (included). I have never used mine, but I gather it is to make sure your headphones can't come off while you are running or doing other forms of strenuous exercise.
  • New color option: blue! While I wouldn't sacrifice quality for appearance when choosing an electronics product, I admit I was delighted to see that these superb Shokz OpenRun Pro headphones are available in a pretty aqua blue as well as in black.
  • 2-year warranty. The manufacturer's warranty covers product defects. If you order your Shokz headphones on Amazon you can also purchase an ASURION 2- or 3-Year Portable Electronic Accident Protection Plan with Tech Support for a small additional fee, if you wish.
Photo of aqua blue Shokz OpenRun Pro Bluetooth headphones in black nylon zippered case.
My aqua blue Shokz OpenRun Pro headphones in their
black nylon fitted case (with a loop for the charging cable

The only real "con" is the premium price tag. As of this writing, Shokz OpenRun Pro premium bone conduction open-ear headphones retail for $175.95, much more than I would normally consider spending on this type of product. However, for all the reasons I've listed, uncluding the unmatched comfort, great sound quality, magnetic induction charging and quick charge feature, I consider them a worthwhile investment. 

They are marketed as sports headphones, but I consider them top-of-the-line, open-ear Bluetooth bone conduction headphones for all-around use.

Other Shokz Bone-Conduction Open-Ear Bluetooth Headphones Worth Considering

Shokz open-ear Bluetooth headphones are consistently top-rated by expert technology product review sites such as TechRadar, which named Shokz OpenRun Pro their top pick of The Best Bone Conduction Headphones of 2022. Given their steep price tag, however, there are other, less expensive Shokz models as well as some specialty models that also merit consideration.

Shokz OpenRun have the 8th (vs. 9th) generation of the company's bone conduction technology (with PremiumPitch 2.0 vs. Shokz TurboPitch) and have an 8-hour battery life (vs. 10-hour), a 1.5 hour charge time (vs. 1 hour), a 10-minute quick-charge time for 1.5 hours of usage (vs. 5-minute quick-charge time for 1.5 hours of usage), compared to the Shokz OpenRun Pro. However, they also are IP67-certified waterproof (vs. IP55-certified water-resistant), priced $50 lower than the OpenRun Pro model ($129.95) at the time of publication, and are available in a choice of four colors: Black, bright blue, grey or red. 

Shokz OpenRun Mini headphones are the same model but with a smaller band to fit smaller heads. They only come in black.

Shokz OpenMove have the 7th generation of the company's bone conduction technology with PremiumPitch 2.0, a 6-hour battery life and are IP55-certified water-resistant. They have a partial titanium frame (vs. a full wrap-around titanium frame), use a USB-C charging cable (vs. magnetic induction charging), and don't have a quick-charge feature. On the other hand, they retail for only $79.95 as of this writing, $100 less than the OpenRun Pro model. They come in a choice of blue, grey, pink or white.

Shokz Bone-Conduction Bluetooth Headphones Make a Great Gift

Most people I know own at least one and, for the most part, multiple Bluetooth-enabled devices, such as laptops, mobile phones, tablets, TVs, smart watches and fitness trackers. From college students to seniors, there's a Shokz bone-conduction open-ear Bluetooth headphones model to suit their needs and your budget.


The Best Bone-Conduction Bluetooth Headphones Review: Shokz OpenRun Pro by Margaret Schindel


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Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Photography Reviewed on Review This Reviews!

Treasures from the Archives of Review This Reviews! 


Every writer, blogger, publisher, or editor knows how important images are in an article or book.  People love to see what they are reading about, especially in a review.

All of the contributors on Review This Reviews feature photos in their articles.  Many of us take our own pictures, and on occasion we even explain how we edited the image.  Or, we might offer the image printed on an item like a coffee mug, greeting card, t-shirt, etc. on Zazzle or Amazon.

While we all dabble in photography to some degree, none of us are more experienced than our own contributor, Mary Beth.  We are truly honored to have her as a member of our contributing team.  In fact, she is one of the founding members.  Mary Beth has been sharing her photos, photo tips, and photography expertise with us since day 1 of Review This Reviews!  We have all read excellent advice, tucked away her tips for our own use, and have learned valuable lessons from Mary Beth's photography pages.

Not only are there tips for taking better pictures on Review This Reviews, but there are recommendations for photography equipment, accessories, and editing an image. 

Some of the most popular articles on Review This Reviews can be found on our travel reviews where several contributors share their personal photos from fabulous destinations.  Our gardening reviews would not be complete without the lovely photos featured in them, while our recipe review photos will make you want to run to the kitchen and start cooking.

Photos also take centerstage in our Craft & DIY tutorials, as well as our Pet Product reviewsDiana Wenzel (Renaissance Woman) has a unique talent for combining those two categories with her wonderful DIY pet beds & bird feeders.  I might also mention here that Diana is an extraordinarily talented photographer.

Sometimes it is just fun to flip though the articles on Review This Reviews just to look at the pictures. 
 

We invite you to explore our world of photography!

The board below features 30 of our most recent reviews.







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Monday, March 21, 2022

Family Game Night - Reviewing Here to Slay

 Here to Slay is a strategy card game. I had never heard of the game prior to a recent visit with my youngest son and grandchildren. And when my son asked me to play, my initial reaction was "oh gross". But I gave it a try and I loved it. We had so much fun that we are planning on figuring out how to play long distance video chats.


Here to Slay

My first thought was one of dread. I fully expected this game to be a copy-cat version of Dungeons & Dragons (D&D). I am not cut out for playing D&D. It just doesn't compute for me. Role-play and creating your characters is too much for me. I've had young people at work try to "teach" me. Or, when we don't have access to the actual game, these hopeful students would give me watered down role-play versions via asking me "what would you do" scenarios. My answers were always based on what I would really do - which is always very mundane. For this reason, I thought I'd try Here to Slay once then gently guide us back to the other board games we had been playing.

But once we got started, I found that I LOVED Here to Slay. As did my son. We had a great time. One of the many good things about the game is that it doesn't take a long time to get through it. So we played round after round and enjoyed each game more as we became accustomed to the rules.

How to Play

As we read through the brief How to Play we felt thoroughly confused. And I thought the one page (front and back) of instructions clearly was not sufficient. But it was! It is a strategy game with many different options and outcomes but really very simple.

"In this game, you'll assemble a full Party of Heroes to slay dangerous Monsters while working to avoid the sabotage of your [friends] enemies. You'll also equip items to your Heroes, harness powerful mage, and use roll modifiers to tip the adds in your favor."

We played with just the 2 of us. Which was fun. But the game can accommodate up to 6 players. The more players to battle, curse, and steal their heroes the more fun (and strategic) the game would be. 

Each play chooses a Party Leader card. Each Party Leader has a special skill/power. I chose the Leader that had a bit more strength against fighting the monsters. My son chose the Leader that had a bit more power during each roll. 

During each turn, the player has 3 "actions". During those actions, you could choose to draw cards, battle a Monster (which takes 2 of your 3 actions) or roll to have one of your Heroes do something against your opponent.  

To win the game you must either slay 3 Monsters or gather a party of Heroes that represents at least one each of the 6 classes (Fighter, Guardian, Ranger, Thief, Wizard, Bard). During each turn you have to try to build your Party of Heroes or do something to try to set back your opponent. 

There are challenge cards and modification cards. These cards can make your rolls of the dice stronger or your opponents rolls weaker. Or, you can challenge your opponent and if you win the challenge roll of the dice you can in effect take away their turn.

I am probably making it sound more difficult than it is. Perhaps some visuals will help. 

There was a handy and very helpful direction card to keep next to me. To remind me of what my turn (my 3 actions) could consist of. It also reminded me of the 6 different party classes - an easy reminder of the different Heroes I was trying to collect.



These were my favorite Party Leader and Hero cards so far. The Divine Arrow Party Leader added one point to each of my rolls against the Monsters. And Wiggles the Hero allowed me to steal my opponent's Hero card - if I was able to roll a 10 or higher.



If you have children (or grandchildren) who like strategy and/or role playing card games but you aren't as enthused about them this may be a wonderful compromise. If you are competitive and like to steal things from your opponent or block their play, you will love this game. I was a skeptic. But it turns out that the game was so much fun that I have been trying to figure out how to Face Time or Zoom with my camera pointed at my table. 

                                         


Related Reviews:

If you are more imaginative than I am, you may want to take a look at Wednesday Elf's Dungeons & Dragons - Fantasy Role-Playing Game Review. In that review she shares how she is familiar with the game. Two years ago she wrote, "D&D is here to stay". Ms. Elf was not wrong about that. As I mentioned above, there have been quite a few students I work with who play the game today (and try to get me to play despite my imagination limits). 

You can see her review here




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Sunday, March 20, 2022

Which Personal Product Review Still Gets 5 Stars After a Year?


After giving it some thought, I picked my favorite personally used and reviewed product over the past year.

While pondering and pedaling, I realized my favorite purchase (actually, it was a gift) out of all the reviews I've written and recommended is ... drumroll .....  "The Cubii."

This Personally Reviewed Product Still Rates 5 Stars After Nearly One Year of Use

I'd give The Cubii ten stars if I could. My mother purchased it last year for me as an early birthday gift, and it's been sitting under my desk since then. 

I use it every day. In fact, I'm using it right now as I'm typing this article.

What's So Great About This Product?

Here's the list, based on my personal experience:
  • It's top quality
  • It's not cheap feeling or cheap looking
  • It's completely quiet! It doesn't make a sound! No squeaks whatsoever!
  • It fits nicely under my desk
  • It's always there, so the possibility of exercise is always there
  • It has a grip mat, so it doesn't slide around
  • As soon as I sit at my desk, I can pedal
  • When stressed or frustrated, I pedal faster
  • If you're desk-bound for the entire day, you can pedal all-day
  • Stop and start pedaling whenever you want
  • It's addictive in a good way!
  • Your glutes and thighs get a workout
  • I feel less guilty sitting for an extended period when I'm pedaling!
  • It helps me to think of new ideas when I'm creatively stuck
  • It feels good to pedal
  • You can adjust the tension, track calories burned, etc
  • It's not too big
  • It hides nicely under my desk, making it unassuming
You can read more about the Cubii from my original review featured here.

Which Personally Reviewed Products Over the Past Couple of Years Rank 2 and 3 as a Fave?
2. Something for the yard or garden - I still love this one.

3. Something for the bedroom -  Yep,this does the job. 

Summary

If you've seen the commercials for the Cubii and wondered whether it does what it says, I say, wonder-no-more; it's a solid, useful product. After one year, it still gets 5 stars from me.




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