Showing posts with label Gifts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gifts. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Erin Napier The Lantern House Book Review

Discover HGTV Home Town's Erin Napier's children's picture book - The Lantern House.

Erin Napier’s The Lantern House is exactly what you would expect from a mother who also happens to be the designer of a hugely popular HGTV decorating show like Home Town. It’s a children’s picture book, which tells the story of a house as it becomes a home, effectively sharing the life cycle of a house. 

Napier’s simple, sweet pose combine to take us on the house’s journey. The story starts with a new 1940s-era house and follows as the house grows and develops when a family moves in, when children are born, when they grow up and leave and when the couple grows old until just one of them remains and finally, the family’s ownership or stewardship of the house comes to an end. The house waits until a new family arrives and it starts the process again. There's a lot to think about here. The book shares as a house does both life's happy and life's sad moments.

What started as a story for Erin and Ben Napier’s daughters is now available for all of us to enjoy. According to People magazine, Napier said, "The house is a watcher, a keeper and a guardian of the families that live there.” It starts as a shell but the occupants make it become more human, taking on life along with those who take up home within the walls.

Napier says it seemed natural for her to write a story about a house for her children because she has worked with and learned the story of so many houses. On one page of the book, the family’s daughter is married at the hearth, a story directly taken from the history of the author’s own home. See what the author has to say about the book in this short video:


FAST FACTS:


Author - Erin Napier
Illustrator - Adam Trest
Format - Hardcover picture book
Pages - 40 
Publication Date - May 2022
Publisher - Little Brown
Size - 9 inches x 9 inches x 0.4 inches
ISBN Number - 9780316379601
Age Recommendation - Preschool to Grade 3

The book is illustrated by American artist Adam Trest. He illustrates this particular story with a lively blue house, a red-headed family and a spirited dog that everyone will love.

The Lantern House is a lovely story book for any child, sharing the story of both family and home. However, besides being appropriate for children, I think it would also make an unusual but interesting gift choice for any book-loving young couple taking up residence in a house and beginning the process of growing their own home and family or even for anyone who simply loves houses. Find The Lantern House here on Amazon.

See you
at the bookstore!
Brenda

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Friday, July 15, 2022

Pride and Peppermint NovelTeaTins on Etsy Reviewed

NovelTeaTins
For Mother's Day last year, my daughter sent me a Pride and Peppermint Novel Tea Tin, which came with a Mr. Darcy bookmark. What an awesome gift for a Pride and Prejudice fan who loves tea. Plus, the peppermint tea is fabulous!

The Jane Austen books, Pride & Prejudice and Sense & Sensibility, have long been my favorites.  In fact, the two movies based on those books are my favorite movies. I have often thought the movies made me more fond of the two books because they brought the characters to life.  They provided faces to the fictional characters. 

My daughter and I spend many wonderful afternoons watching the two movies together when she was in high school. Those memories are another reason why I love the movies so much. Just hearing the opening theme songs beckoned us to the television. It was almost worth being sick just so we could take a day or two off to watch. Whenever I watch either of the movies, I think of my daughter and our precious time together.  

Sending a related gift that evoked those wonderful memories was the perfect Mother's Day gift from a beloved daughter who now lives in a different state. 


Pride & Peppermint Novel Tea Tin

novelteatin
NovelTeaTins on Etsy

The tea comes in a collectable tin. I love collectibles which is just one more reason this was the perfect gift for me. The tea tin keeps the tea fresh and dry. It could also be washed and reused if you are careful to not mess up the label while washing

The blend is a loose tea, so you either need a disposable tea bag, a separate tea infuser, or a mug that comes with an infuser.

Peppermint tea has several benefits for some tea drinkers. Those benefits include easing digestive issues, headaches and even sinus problems. Some claim it even improves their energy level.  These benefits are enough to recommend peppermint tea, but it is also delicious and smells wonderful.


The tea is a blend of rooibos, peppermint & camomile. It is caffeine free, therefore you can drink it anytime.   

Loose Tea refills are also available by clicking here

 Sense and SensibilityCheck Price Peter Rabbit Tea TinCheck Price Classic Literature Tea BundleCheck Price Anne of Green GablesCheck Price




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Saturday, June 18, 2022

Reviewing Wordy Gifts for your Favorite Bookworms

Bookends are the perfect Wordy gift for all the bookworms in your life.

*Intro photo is of Luxe Crystal Acrylic Bookends A-Z by Vandue on Etsy.

Bookend Gifts


What would be a more appropriate gift for the libraries of readers and writers than word-related bookends? 



READ is the perfect word for bookworms ~ lovers of books of any age.


Paul of Oregon creates beautiful bookend sets that he hand cuts with a scroll saw from 1/2” thick, furniture grade Birch plywood.  His bookends are then sanded and finished with satin interior non-toxic paint.


This heavy duty two-piece set of bookends has a bottom surface protector which will extend under a few books for enhanced book support. This set, and many more designs in words and in intricate shapes of animals and sports activities are available in Paul's Etsy Shop he calls ScrollMaster Designs



An appropriate gift for your writer friends would be this set of WRITER bookends. Handmade and designed by Knob Creek Metal Arts of Louisville, KY, the bookends are solid steel and heavy enough to hold up your reading collection. Sold in a set of two pieces, they are finished in a black powder coat.  Dimensions are approx. 6 1/2" t x 6 1/2" w x 4" d. 



A darling set of bookends for a child's book collection is one that is personalized with your child's name. For a little girl's room, this Butterfly Bookends set is so adorable. Or choose from many sets, all with cute designs, from the Etsy Shop of Nelsons Gifts.  Jon and Roseann Nelson specialize in personalized nursery and home décor.


Cooks are bookworms too, with cookbooks being their favorite genre. So a set of bookends with the word COOK is an ideal gift idea for your favorite cook. 



This set from Amazon is made with quality steel and is very durable and able to hold many large and heavy books such as you often find in favorite cookbooks.  These bookends have a powder-coated surface, so it is smooth and anti-rust, with a non-slip base. 


Summary


So, choose a Wordy bookend set as a gift for your bookworm friends and family. 


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*Wordy Gifts for Your Favorite Bookworm was written and compiled by Wednesday Elf










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Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Father's Day, A Gift That Will Become a Favorite!

 Everyone I know seems to scramble for something interesting for Father's Day.  They are searching for a gift that will keep on giving in some way that "The Dad" in the family will enjoy for a long time to come.  Well I think I have hit on a gift that fits that bill for the Father in our household and everyone can chip in to make it an affordable and lasting gift.

Are you curious?  What could it be?

Well, let me tell you a little more and then maybe you could guess.  We live in an area where we are close to the airport and our balcony faces in a way that we seem to have an arrival highway to the airport.  We enjoy sitting out on our balcony in the evenings and watching the planes.  Sometimes it's easy to see them and then there are other times when they are just too far away.  

We also enjoy watching the hawks that are always circling around our buildings.  These birds are amazing animals and up close and personal is the best way to appreciate their beauty.

Now the other thing we love doing is getting out to baseball games.  For our retired way of life, we usually get some nose-bleed seats and watch the overall game.  But, there are times when your favorite batter is up and you just need to get a closer look.  

What you may ask, could possibly cover all of these different activities?  Well if you guess Binoculars, you would be right on the money. 


                                                            Image by Siggy Nowak from Pixabay

What we love about the  binoculars featured here, is that they are waterproof, lightweight and yet still give you a really great close up of whatever you happen to focus on.  When your Dad is out and about they hang around his neck without being bulky and cumbersome. For the serious, but practical bird/plane/baseball player watcher (also known as Dad) these are a perfect pair of binoculars.  The best part is that they are so affordable and everyone in the family can still share in the cost and then take Dad out for dinner too!   You can get your Dad a great pair of Binoculars right here:  Bushnell Binoculars:


Of course you are not limited to what I have shown you here.  If your Dad requires a more sophisticated pair of binoculars, you can go all out and break the bank if you want to, but it really isn't necessary.  He will be able to do a lot of watching up close and personal with the ones I have chosen to feature here for you.  

Wishing all of the Dads, Granddads and Dad figures a wonderful and Happy Father's Day on Sunday June 19th!



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Wednesday, June 8, 2022

The Best Powerful, Lightweight Stick Blender With Versatile Attachments

A stick blender, also called an immersion blender, is great for puréeing soups and sauces. Using a lightweight stick blender with a whisk attachment can be a lot more comfortable to use than a traditional hand mixer for mixing batters or whipping heavy cream. Several months ago, after the plastic housing and whip attachment on my 1980s-era Braun MR72 MultiPractic deluxe hand held blender with variable speed control eventually cracked, I did a lot of online research before choosing a new stick blender.

Ultimately, I purchased a Müeller Multi-Purpose Ultra-Stick Hand Blender (model MU-HB-02) with three versatile attachments: an immersion blender, a wire whisk and frother. Today I'll share my review of this excellent, powerful, lightweight stick blender.

Müeller Ultra-Stick 3-in-1 Hand Blender
The Müeller Multi-Purpose Ultra-Stick Hand Blender (model MU-HB-02) is one of my most used kitchen tools. It is also one of the best kitchen gifts and can replace several small appliances!

The Müeller Multi-Purpose Ultra-Stick Hand Blender Is Surprisingly Powerful

Having used the Braun MR72 MultiPractic stick blender and whisk attachment for several decades gave me a much better idea of which features were important to me when choosing my next model of one of these small appliances. After narrowing down my top contenders for a new immersion blender, the powerful 500W motor on the Müeller Multi-Purpose Ultra-Stick Hand Blender (model MU-HB-02) weighed heavily in its favor, since the 150W motor on my old Braun made it underpowered for my needs.

When using any immersion blender, it's important to hold the blades above the bottom of the pot, pan or other container and control the tool as the suction created by the blade and its housing try to force the shaft downward. The first time I used the blending shaft attachment on my new Müeller hand blender, I could feel how much more power it has compared to my old Braun model!

Müeller Multi-Purpose Ultra-Stick Hand Blender speed control dial, power button and turbo button
The slim, contoured, ergonomic shape is easy for even a small hand like mine to hold comfortably. The speed control knob turns continuously, and the power and turbo buttons require just a thumb press.

Variable Speed Control Knob, One-Touch On/Off Button and Turbo Button Let You Control That Power Easily

My old model had a variable-speed control dial, but it had only 6 speeds. That, in combination with the 150W motor, provided a very limited range of speeds. By contrast, the Müeller Multi-Purpose Ultra-Stick Hand Blender (model MU-HB-02) offers a choice of 9 speeds, thanks to multiple power and speed controls that give you more control over its powerful 500W motor.

The top of the motor body housing is the speed control knob. On the side near the top are two stacked buttons: The power button and the turbo button.

Speed Control Knob: After inserting the desired attachment—immersion blender, whisk or frother—into the motor body housing, plug the hand blender into the wall outlet. Then, the speed control dial clockwise to increase the speed or counter-clockwise to decrease the speed.

Power Button: Press your thumb on the one-touch on/off power button to turn on the motor and continue to depress it as you blend, whisk or froth your food or beverage. Release the button to turn off the hand blender. The company advises not to hold the Power button down for longer than 50 seconds at a time. However, I have not found that to be a limitation, since the 500W motor provides enough power to complete most tasks I have tried in less than 50 seconds!

Turbo Button: The Turbo button lets you kick things up a gear when you need to, whether you are puréeing cooked vegetables or whipping egg whites or heavy cream. Just slide your thumb down from the Power button to the Turbo button (directly underneath it) and press it for a quick burst of increased power.

Müeller Multi-Purpose Ultra-Stick Hand Blender (model MU-HB-02) with attachments and instruction manual
The Müeller Multi-Purpose Ultra-Stick Hand Blender (model MU-HB-02) with the immersion blending shaft attached, along with the gear box, whisk and frother attachments and simple instruction manual

Immersion Blending Shaft, Whisk and Frother Attachments Are All Extremely Useful

Blending Shaft: Attach this to the motor to use the Müeller Multi-Purpose Ultra-Stick Hand Blender as an immersion blender. Its extremely sharp, stainless steel S-shaped blade lets you blend shakes or smoothies and purée soups, sauces or baby food.

Whisk Attachment: I use this lightweight stick blender with the whisk attachment several nights a week to make fresh whipped cream to serve with berries, ice cream, or another dessert. The difference in taste between store-bought whipped cream in a pressurized can and freshly whipped, lightly sweetened heavy cream with a splash of vanilla is significant. And with my new Müeller stick blender and wire whisk attachment, I can whip up a small batch of whipped cream, just enough for my husband and me, in just seconds!

I just pour a few tablespoons of heavy whipping cream into a 2-cup Pyrex glass liquid measuring cup, add my sweetener of choice and some pure vanilla extract, then insert my hand blender with the whisk attachment and move the whisk in circles, holding it slightly above the bottom of the measuring cup. I start on the slowest speed for 5 or 10 seconds to avoid splattering, then dial the speed up and finish whipping the cream to the desired consistency. After spooning the topping over our dessert, I just pull out the which attachment and wash it and the measuring cup. Easy peasy!

The powerful motor of this hand blender also means I can use it to beat egg whites or mix cake, cupcake or other thin to medium batters, rather than pulling out my large, heavy KitchenAid stand mixer (which I now reserve for mixing thicker, heavier batters and doughs).

Frother Attachment: My husband and I drink Bulletproof coffee (hot coffee whipped with clarified butter and MCT oil to a creamy, foam-topped consistency) in the morning. It has several valuable benefits, as I've discussed in my product review of The Best Affordable Programmable Large- and Small-Batch Coffee Maker. We had already purchased a cordless milk frother for this purpose, but it devours batteries and is underpowered, which is even more noticeable as the two AA batteries run down.

The frother attachment to our new Müeller Multi-Purpose Ultra-Stick Hand Blender is a significant improvement in terms of power (110V vs. 3V), and we no longer are chewing through AA batteries.

Close-up of extremely sharp stainless steel blending shaft blade
The stainless steel blending shaft has an extremely sharp blade. Fortunately, it's also dishwasher safe!

Easy to Assemble and Disassemble

The plastic whip attachment for my old Braun hand blender was a pain in the neck to attach and detach from the motor housing. Fortunately, assembling and disassembling my new Müeller Multi-Purpose Ultra-Stick Hand Blender (model MU-HB-02) with different attachments is a breeze!

Make sure the motor body is unplugged before attaching or detaching anything to or from it.

To attach the immersion blending shaft, insert it into the motor body and turn it counterclockwise so it snaps into the housing (you will hear a click).

To connect the whisk attachment or milk frother, first insert the shaft of the attachment into the gearbox. Then, insert the gearbox into the motor body and turn it counterclockwise so it snaps into the housing (you will hear a click).

To remove the immersion blending shaft, whisk or frother after using, simply reverse the process: Turn the blending shaft or gearbox clockwise and pull gently to detach it from the motor body housing, then gently pull out the whisk or frother attachment from the gearbox, if applicable.

Quick and Easy Clean-Up With Dishwasher-Safe Attachments

The motor body housing and gearbox should never be immersed in water, but can be cleaned easily just by wiping with a sponge or damp cloth.

The blending shaft, whisk and frother attachments can be hand washed in warm soapy water or put in the dishwasher for easy clean-up.

Müeller Multi-Purpose Ultra-Stick Hand Blender assembled with blending shaft as an immersion blender
Connect the stainless steel blending shaft to the motor housing for a powerful immersion blender

Lightweight, Slim and Comfortable to Use

The Müeller Multi-Purpose Ultra-Stick Hand Blender model MU-HB-02 weighs only approximately 1.9 pounds. It is lightweight, slim and has an ergonomic grip that is comfortable even for small hands like mine.

It is also 12.6 inches tall, so if I'm puréeing hot soup in a stockpot or Dutch oven, for example, my hand stays comfortably elevated above the heat.

Surprisingly Affordable and an Excellent Value

I could have spent more money on an immersion blender with whisk and other attachments that had features this one lacks, such as a speed dial that be operated with the dominant hand while the power is on. However, the quality/price/performance ratio on this Müeller Multi-Purpose Ultra-Stick Hand Blender is quite impressive and it does everything I need it to at an extremely affordable price—less than $35 at the time of publication.

Since this stick blender with the whisk attachment is made mostly of stainless steel (unlike many others), takes the place of frother and a hand mixer (and is much more comfortable to use), can stand in for a regular blender or food processor in many cases and does a better job than either of those for blending small amounts of ingredients, it's really a terrific value. The America's Test Kitchen expert testers also recommended this immersion blender on the Cook's Illustrated website.

Don’t Use the Immersion Blending Shaft in Nonstick Cookware

The only other feature I could wish for would be a removable pan guard for the immersion blending shaft's blade housing, like the one on the KitchenAid KHBV53BM Variable Speed Corded Hand Blender, that wouldn't scratch nonstick cookware. However, the pan guard appears to be plastic, and I wouldn't feel comfortable using a plastic attachment inside a hot pan or pot of food that's directly on the heat anyway. In addition, that KitchenAid model has only 180W of power, doesn't come with a whisk or frother attachment, and the removable immersion blending arm isn't dishwasher-safe.

If I need to purée a soup or sauce, it's easy enough to use a stainless steel pot or to transfer the contents of a nonstick pot to a stainless steel bowl for immersion blending and then return the puréed mixture to the pot. This minor inconvenience is well worth it to have all the advantages and versatility of the Müeller Multi-Purpose Ultra-Stick Hand Blender, especially given its affordable price.

An Affordable and Versatile Small Kitchen Appliance Any Home Cook Would Love

Click image to order the
Müeller Multi-Purpose Ultra-Stick Hand Blender
(model MU-HB-02) 
on Amazon

This is one of those kitchen tools that you don't realize you needed until you have one. In fact, since I don't do a lot of immersion blending, when my old Braun stick blender with plastic parts cracked, I thought about not replacing it. But I really loved being able to whip up a small batch of fresh whipped cream or whip just one or two egg whites without having to drag out my heavy KitchenAid stand mixer, which is what prompted me to take a look at getting another hand blender with a whisk attachment. Finding a lightweight, stainless steel model with a much more powerful motor at an affordable price made the decision very easy.

The fact that this stick blender also has a milk frother attachment was a nice bonus that many gift recipients would appreciate, since lattes, cappucinos and other frothy drinks have become so popular. And, of course, anyone who drinks Bulletproof coffee would definitely love such a powerful frother.

I find myself using this versatile stick blender nearly every day, sometimes multiple times a day, for frothing coffee, making fresh whipped cream, or puréeing a sauce or gravy to get the lumps out quickly and easily. I'll bet someone you know would get a lot of use out of this Müeller Multi-Purpose Ultra-Stick Hand Blender, too.


The Best Powerful, Lightweight Stick Blender With Versatile Attachments by Margaret Schindel


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Friday, June 3, 2022

McIntosh Van Gogh Fine China Tea Mug with Lid & Infuser Review

Van Gogh Mug
I love my new Van Gogh fine china lidded tea mug that my son gave me for Mother's Day this year.  Not only is it beautiful, it is quite serviceable.  

The mug came with an infuser which allows me to steep my loose tea leaves in the mug, plus a lid to cover it while it steeps. 

The infuser basket fits right inside the top of the mug. The lid has an opening that allows it to slip over the basket tab and completely cover the mug. The lid can be used with or without the basket inserted. 

The basket could also easily accommodate a tea bag, but I was thrilled to be able to simply pour my loose leaf tea in the basket, pour water over it, put the lid on, and let it steep. It is nice to eliminate the need for a tea bag. I enjoy being able to purchase loose leaf tea blends that allow me to add or mix flavors as desired.

The mug and lid are made of fine bone china, therefore it is very lightweight even when it is filled with tea. The lid could also be inverted to use as a coaster.

Previously, I have always covered my tea mugs with a saucer while the tea steeps.  It is wonderful to have a perfectly fitted matching lid with this beautiful tea mug, which I will, no doubt, use every day.

 

Van Gogh Designs on Fine China Tea Mugs

 McIntosh Van Gogh Almond Blossom Fine Bone China (15 oz) Tea Mug with Lid and Infuser in Matching Gift BoxCheck Price The design on my mug is the Vincent Van Gogh "Almond Blossoms".  Since blue is my favorite color, it was the perfect gift choice for me. 

Thanks to Van Gogh's style, the Almond Blossoms painting looks a lot like my favorite flowering tree, the dogwood. Thus, when I look at the lovely blue mug with the ivory blossom tree, it all represents my "favorites" to me, especially since it was a gift from my favorite son.  Okay, you got me!  He is my only son, but he is still my favorite son in the whole world.

The mug, lid and basket are all dishwasher and microwave safe.  I did wash them in the dishwasher before and after the first use without any issues.  While I may choose to wash them by hand, it is nice to know they can be washed in the dishwasher.

The mug, lid and infuser set are available in several Van Gogh designs. Each comes in a matching gift box. They are all lovely!  I do believe my son has hit on a new collection that he could add to each year for several years to come. 


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Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Special Days in May ~ A Gift Review

 While all of us are desperately waiting for Spring to bring forth it's flowers and warmer weather, May is coming along fast and furious with many "special days" to look forward to.  

Of course everyone knows it's Mother's Day on the 8th of May, but did you also know that we celebrate Nurses Day and Teachers Appreciation Week in the same month?


Mother's Day can be a time to give her something that she can really use to pamper herself just a little bit!  Instead of the usual chocolates, flowers or cards, give her the gift of Color Street and let mom indulge herself with a little self-care.

Teachers can be undone with all the coffee mugs and chocolates as well.  Why not think outside the box and give them some fun for their fingertips.  I can just see the little eyes wanting to check out the fancy nails on their favorite teacher.  

Nurses who are run off their feet with caring for others, could also use a nice little pick me up.  Color Street Nail Strips are perfect!  While your favorite nurse is on a coffee break, she can do up her nails in less than ten minutes.  A little self care help for the ones who care for everyone else before themselves.  

Your hands are always visible to everyone and when your nails are nice and polished they make a statement without having to say anything out loud.  It says, " I care about myself too!"

If you are anything like me, I don't like to sit waiting for things to be ready.  Color Strips Nail Strips are ready and done in less than 10 minutes.  Once applied, you can continue on your day and accomplish all the things that need doing.  No waiting for nail polish to dry and once applied, they last for at least 2 weeks.  No cracking, peeling, smudging is going to happen, unlike liquid nail polish!

Until I found these Color Strips, I hated doing my nails.  I just could not seem to get a good application happening.  One coat would go on great and the second coat would get all smudged.  Frustration was the name of the game in my case.  NOT anymore! 

What I really like is that with these Nail Strips you can mix and match or mix and contrast as you like.  One set of strips are enough to do a full manicure if you have long nails, or two if your nails are kept on the shorter side.  Just make sure that you seal the package after you are finished with the Strips.  A curling iron will seal the package nicely until you need them again.  

https://www.colorstreet.com/Olivia72/nailbar/3523400


Color Street Nail Strips are only available through a Stylist and they are not hard to find. So if your Teacher, Nurse or Mom really likes this gift, she can order for herself after having used your gift!  They are affordable and a really nice gift that says so much.

If you are a little bit artistic, you can do so much with these Nail Strips by thinking outside the box (so to speak).  

When you have a great product, people begin to notice and the awards for excellence start to roll in.  So it is with Color Street!  They have been awarded the Best in Nail Care!  Check this out:
 



Needless to say, I'm pleased to have joined this company as a Stylist and also appreciate that this company gives back to their communities.  You will find that they support causes like Epilepsy, Birth Defects, March of Dimes, Breast Cancer Awareness and so much more.  

If you want to see for yourself just how easy Color Street Nail Strips are to apply you can watch this You Tube video!

I hope you get a chance to try these out for yourself and I would love to know what you think!  Don't hesitate to leave a message!   For those of you who look after "Elders" these Color Strips also make a wonderful way to spend some time spoiling them with a little bit of fun!  




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Saturday, April 2, 2022

Rick Mercer Talking to Canadians Book Review

Rick Mercer Talking to Canadians A Memoir is a fun read for anyone who appreciates Mercer's comedic genius.

Rick Mercer's autobiographical book appeared under many a Christmas tree in 2021. I myself gifted it to a number of family members after watching a program on which the 
Ottawa International Writers Festival featured Canadian journalist Linden MacIntyre interviewing Mercer and reviewing Mercer's life so far as depicted between the covers of this book. 

For those who might not know, Rick Mercer is a Canadian celebrity. He is a comedian who had great success on television on shows that included This Hour Has 22 MinutesMade in Canada, Talking to Americans and his biggest success and the program with which my family was most familiar, the Rick Mercer Report. When he eventually ended the Rick Mercer Report after 15 seasons, a question arose. What was Rick Mercer going to do now? 

The answer? He went back to stand up comedy, performing to packed shows wherever he went. That is, until the pandemic arrived. 

CELEBRITY REVIEWS


Mercer had to pivot again and this time his pivot found him writing this book, Rick Mercer Talking to Canadians: A Memoir. For once, Mercer was talking about his own life instead of about the lives of others.  It is an interesting tale, telling the story of his development from that of an unsuccessful student to that of a very successful comedian. 

On Twitter, Canadian author Margaret Atwood, said that the book is a "funny, pitfall-strewn, no-holds-barred memoir from the ranting TV uproarist, edge-walker, envelope-pusher and pot-stirrer who once talked me (Atwood) into impersonating a goalie!" On the Rick Mercer Report, Mercer talked many people into doing things out of their comfort zone.

Policy Magazine called the book "alternately funny, moving and always heartfelt." Touché!

Jann Arden, another Canadian comedian and songwriter, endorsed the book when she said "I laughed so much reading this, I kept waking up my dog in bed. Rick is a determined writer - he never stops pulling you into his stories and he never stops looking for the punchlines in everyday life. He made me realize how funny ordinary things are, how funny and how incredibly interesting. It's heartfelt and honest and generous and edgy - just like Mercer himself. Read it! It's fabulous!" I agree.

My only quibble with the book is that it isn't finished but then again, Mercer isn't finished. Who knows what the next book will have to share.

WHO SHOULD READ RICK MERCER'S MEMOIR? 


For one, anyone who is familiar with Mercer's television programs and comedic abilities will love this book. If you know his work, you will particularly enjoy learning about his background. If you enjoy true stories and autobiographies you will likely enjoy this book. If you have a Canadian connection in particular with Newfoundland and Labrador, you will enjoy it. It is an easy to read, funny book and I do find funny books hard to come by.  They say that writing humor is difficult. Obviously, Rick Mercer does not have that problem. Apparently, the audiobook is particularly enjoyable because Mercer himself reads it. With the audiobook, you will not only 'hear' his way of speaking in the words on the written page but you will literally hear them. Find your copy Rick Mercer's Talking to Canadians of the book on Amazon here

See you
at the book store!
Brenda
Treasures By Brenda

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Friday, April 1, 2022

12" Baking Pans & Casserole Dish that Fit Calphalon Countertop Ovens

Countertop Oven Cookware
Last year I purchased a new Calphalon Performance Cool Touch Countertop Oven, which I still love and use often.  The biggest challenge I had when I purchased my countertop oven was finding baking dishes that were large enough for meals, but small enough to fit inside the oven.  

The interior rack is approximately 13" x 11" which is misleading because it sounds like most standard baking pans would fit, however most do not fit due to handles or depth size.  Therefore, I needed new cake pans, pizza pans and a casserole dish that didn't slant at the top or have handles.  Surprisingly, the casserole dish was not easy to find.

Most cookware is measured at the bottom.  A standard cake pan bottom will be 12" x 8½", but the top measurement is closer to 15" x 10" and will not fit in a 13" (interior measurement) countertop oven.

In addition to handles, casserole dishes often have rolled edges or "lips", which means the lovely top of the casserole dish ends up making that dish to big for a countertop oven.  Needless to say, when I found a plain, flat sided 12½" casserole dish, I was thrilled. 


My 12½" White Casserole Dish that Fits My Countertop Oven

 HIC Oblong Rectangular Baking Dish Roasting Lasagna Pan,
Fine White Porcelain
Check Price
During my search, I found I had to rely on customer reviews by individuals who actually measured the cookware.  Ironically, in most cases, they were complaining that the dish was slightly smaller than advertised.  For me, that half-inch made all the difference.  I assume the seller measured the outside of the box instead of the actual dish, which is actually a pretty common mistake when writing a listing online. 

Not only does this awesome casserole dish fit my countertop oven, it is also dishwasher safe

I have used this casserole dish for lasagna, lemon chicken, pork chop casserole and more.  All of these dinners easily fit inside the dish and cook splendidly. I have not cooked a cake yet, but other reviews indicate that it is also great for a cake or brownies. 

This is a must-have casserole dish for 13" (interior) countertop ovens!


12" Pizza Pans & Other Bakeware

 Pizza Baking Pan Pizza Tray - Deedro 12 inch Stainless Steel Pizza Pan Round Pizza Baking Sheet Oven Tray Pizza Crisper Pan, Healthy Pizza Cooking Pan for Oven, 2 PackCheck PricePizza pans were another challenge.  I had never considered the size of a pizza pan before.  It simply isn't an issue in a regular oven.  However, all of my pizza pans have handle grips and are over 14" wide, which is too large for the countertop oven.  Therefore, the pizza pan search began and it was just as hard as the casserole dish.

My Calphalon Countertop Oven included one pizza pan.  Since my husband and I do not like the same toppings, I always prepare two pizzas for dinner.  Therefore, I needed a second pizza pan.

I was very excited to find the pizza pans featured on the right.  They come in a set of two, which is actually great.  That means I now have 3 pizza pans that will fit in my countertop oven.  That is pretty awesome when our son is here for dinner too.

I have also used these pizza pans as baking trays under pies.

In addition to the casserole dish and pizza pans above, I bought a set of small baking trays & pans for cookies, toast, cobblers, etc. A separate bread pan is not necessary since loaf pans already fit the countertop oven.





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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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