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

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Ken Follett's Never, A Book Review

If you love a political thriller, you should check out Ken Follett's Never, a book in which we find the world on the brink of nuclear war / disaster.

In the past, I have read and thoroughly enjoyed a few historical Ken Follett novels. Never, however, as a modern war or political thriller about the possibility of nuclear disaster, was a definite departure for me.

Never is a saga about a crisis that could lead to a third world war. Follett himself says that the story was in part a result of his discovery that no one wanted the first world war. This book spans the globe from Africa’s Sahara Desert to China and the United States. It is 800 pages of story filled with a large cast and numerous story lines.

The Washington Post calls Never “a cautionary tale of global catastrophe.” Exactly. They also say that it is “credibly detailed and alarmingly plausible.” Disturbing? Yes, but I agree.

VIDEOS


The first video shown below is a short trailer for the book, illustrating the Defcon system and alluding to the suspenseful nature of this novel. The second video, called Behind the Scenes with Ken Follett, is more interesting, detailing how he came up with the idea for this book.





RATING


Readers on Goodreads gave Never four stars; readers on Amazon gave it four stars as well.

Many reader comments show that people enjoyed the book, as I did. The story was extremely well researched and detailed and the storylines were interesting.

Many also found the book a bit longer than they thought it might have been and a bit slow or hard to be absorbed by at first and I agree on both of those points. I was also disappointed with how the individual story lines were sorted out and with the ending.

The premise of this book is disturbing. That is, seeing how a nuclear war might be played out. Let us hope that we never know the truth.

Like other readers, I give the book four stars and recommend it for those who enjoy political thrillers and for those who have enjoyed Follett’s previous contemporary thrillers. You can find Never here on Amazon in whatever format you prefer be that Kindle, audiobook, hardcover, paperback or audio CD.

See you
at the book store!

MORE KEN FOLLETT:




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


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Wednesday, October 12, 2022

The Best Dentist Approved, Inexpensive, 5-Mode Electric Toothbrush

I have been using Oral-B or Philips Sonicare ultrasonic toothbrushes for many years, at my dentist’s recommendation. In August, I replaced my old, expensive ultrasonic toothbrush with an excellent and surprisingly inexpensive model (from a lesser-known brand), which has smaller brush heads that fit into hard-to-reach areas, soft, rounded bristles that are gentle on my aging gums, and a choice of five brushing modes.

Even though my new Dnsly electric toothbrush had great customer reviews and was highly recommended by a well-known and respected YouTube influencer whose product recommendations I have come to trust, I was still a bit skeptical about the quality of such an inexpensive product. However, my oral health team was impressed with the state of my teeth and gums during my routine dental cleaning and checkup 10 days ago. I'm delighted that my new Dnsly has been dental hygienist- and dentist-approved.

I'm excited to share my product review of this terrific electric toothbrush set, which comes with seven regular brush heads, an interdental brush head and a fitted case for storage and travel and costs less than $30 at time of publication. Update 10/24/22—the entire set now costs less than $25 on Amazon!

Dnsly Electric Toothbrush With Custom Travel Case, Protective Cover and 8 Brush Heads

Why the Dnsly Electric Toothbrush Is a "Best Buy" For Savvy Consumers

Here are some of the key features that make this Dnsly Electric Toothbrush Set With Replacement Brush Heads and Travel Case a smart purchase.

40,000 VPM for Effective Cleaning and Plaque Removal

Although the American Dental Association says that both manual and electric toothbrushes can clean teeth effectively when using the correct brushing technique, clinical studies have shown that “electric toothbrushes, which combine ultrasonic and sonic (or acoustic and mechanic) actions, may have the most promising effect on good oral health” compared to manual toothbrushes.1 

On the Amazon product page, the manufacturer refers to this electric toothbrush mostly as "sonic" but also as "ultra sonic." It vibrates at up to 40,000 VPM (vibrations per minute), which is in the same ballpark as many ultrasonic toothbrush models from Philips Sonicare and Oral-B.

Digel, I., Kern, I., Geenen, E. M., & Akimbekov, N. (2020). Dental plaque removal by ultrasonic toothbrushes. Dentistry Journal, 8(1), 28. https://doi.org/10.3390/dj8010028

Choice of Five Brushing Modes

There are five tiny LED lights down the front of the handle labeled W, C, S, P and M, respectively, that allow you to choose among the following brushing modes to customize your oral health care routine:

  • White mode (W): strong vibration helps whiten and brighten teeth by removing surface stains.
  • Clean mode (C): medium vibration for routine cleaning / twice-daily brushing.
  • Sensitive mode (S): gentle vibration for first-time electric toothbrush users or those with sensitive teeth and gums.
  • Polish mode (P): stong vibration/invert frequency helps polish and brighten teeth.
  • Massage mode (M): gentle vibration/invert frequency for gum massage and increased circulation to improve the health of your gums.
    • Note: I could not find any information on what "invert frequency" means (or does) in the context of electric toothbrushes.

Just press the large Power on/off button (inside the gold circle) repeatedly to cycle through the different modes. The nice thing is that it will remember the mode you used last and return to that setting automatically the next time you press the Power button. 

I have used the Clean, White and Massage modes so far. I think the White mode is gentle enough for daily use, thanks to the soft, rounded bristles on the brush heads.

2-Minute Smart Timer With 30-Second Pauses and Auto Shutoff

Most dentists recommend brushing your teeth for 2–3 minutes, or 30–45 seconds per quadrant. This Dnsly Electric Toothbrush pauses after each 30-second interval to let you know it's time to move on to the next quadrant, then shuts off automatically after two minutes.

7 Brush Heads and 1 Interdental Brush

The American Dental Association recommends that you replace toothbrushes, or brush heads for an electric toothbrush, every three to four months (or sooner, if the bristles are visibly frayed). 

The Dnsly brush heads have blue bristles at the top and bottom that, with use, gradually fade from blue to white  as a helpful reminder to discard and replace the brush head.

I really like the smaller brush heads and the thin, pointed, interdental brush head with white bristles, since both make it easier to get into tight, hard-to-reach areas. The interdental brush is also great for cleaning around and in between dental braces.

The DuPont bristles with rounded tips are gentle on gums and enamel, which is another reason I decided to try this set.

30-Day Rechargeable Battery Life

A full charge, which takes 4 hours, lasts for at least 30 days, based on brushing for two minutes twice a day.

USB Charging (Charging Cable Included)

The included USB cable can be plugged into any socket with a USB interface, such as a car, laptop or phone charger adapter or power bank socket. You can keep both the cable and an inexpensive USB wall charger/plug adapter in the bathroom for when the battery needs charging (roughly once a month).

The Dnsly electric toothbrush has a low battery indicator that lets you know when it's time to recharge it. It also automatically shuts off after the battery has been fully charged to prevent overcharging.

Fitted Travel Case and Protective Brush Head Cover

The hard plastic, fitted toothbrush travel case has molded sections to hold the handle, one brush head and the interdental brush head. There is also a space-saving clear, hard plastic brush head cover if you want to travel with just the handle and one brush head, rather than the larger, fitted storage case that also holds the interdental brush head.

IPX7 Waterproof

The IPX7 Waterproof rating means your Dnsly electric toothbrush can survive immersion in water up to 1 meter deep for 30 minutes without damage.

You can thoroughly clean the entire brush with soap under hot running water and even brush your teeth while you are taking a shower, if you wish.

Two Color Choices

I purchased this set in black, but there is also a pink Dnsly electric toothbrush set with 8 brush heads and travel case that is identical to the black version, except that it comes with three types of brush heads and the bristles are pink and yellow.

Less Than $25 for the Entire Set

At just $24.29 for the black set ($26.09 for the pink and white set) with free shipping for Amazon Prime members as of 10/24/22, this Dnsly set delivers a huge bang for the buck.

You can also get a set of two Dnsly sonic toothbrushes, one black and one pink, with 8 color-coordinated brush heads (four of each color), 2 interdental brushes and 2 clear brush head covers (but no fitted travel cases) on Amazon for just $34.99. Having two sets in different colors makes it easy for spouses, partners, siblings, roommates, etc. who use them to tell which toothbrush is theirs.

Inexpensive Replacement Brush Heads

Replacement brush heads for Philips Sonicare and Oral-B ultrasonic toothbrush models tend to be expensive. At the time of this post's publication, a set of 7 Dnsly black toothbrush replacement heads costs just $8.89 and a set of 7 Dnsly pink and white toothbrush replacement heads costs just $6.99. 

Each set of replacement brushes includes three "daily" brush heads, three "hard" brush heads with firmer bristles and one interdental brush. The savings on not only the initial toothbrush set but also the replacement brushes was a major selling point for me.

Features Not Included in the Dnsly Electric Toothbrush Set

Even though this set is excellent and a tremendous value, there are a few features that some of my previous Oral-B and Philips Sonicare ultrasonic toothbrushes had that the Dnsly does not.

No Charging Base

The only way to charge the Dnsly is with a USB cable (included). While many people prefer this method, some may prefer having a dedicated charging base plugged in near the bathroom sink.

Since hearing several respected medical and dental experts advise "don't brush where you flush," I have started storing my toothbrush in my bedroom instead of my bathroom anyway, so the USB charging requirement isn't an issue for me.

No Battery Charge Level Indicator

My last Oral-B ultrasonic toothbrush had four stacked LED lights on the handle to indicate how much charge was left. Since I used to store the toothbrush on its charging base, however, I never looked at it unless I was traveling for an extended period.

The Dnsly's low battery indicator works fine for my purposes.

No 3-Minute Timer Option

I liked the choice of 2-minute (30 second intervals) or 3-minute (45-second intervals) brushing times on my pricy Oral-B model. However, if I want to spend a bit more time on certain areas, it's easy enough to press the mode button of my choice to resume brushing after the 2-minute automatic shutoff.

Note: None of my Oral-B or Philips Sonicare toothbrushes had bluetooth connectivity or wireless fast charging, and neither does my new Dnsly model. However, one or both of these features are built into many of the newer models from these leading brands.

The Perfect Travel Toothbrush

Even if you don't want to replace your current ultrasonic toothbrush, this very inexpensive Dnsly set would be great to keep in your carry-on luggage for traveling, thanks to its long battery life, convenient USB charging, toothbrush travel case and protective brush head cover.

A Great, Affordable Gift Under $25

This Dnsly electric toothbrush set would make a great gift for anyone who is currently using a manual toothbrush, wears braces, is a college student, or has difficulty getting their current toothbrush into hard-to-reach places.

It also makes a great stocking stuffer. No one would guess that this set, complete with travel case, brush head cover, seven brush heads with fading bristle replacement indicators, interdental brush head and USB charging cable, costs less than $25!


The Best Dentist Approved, Inexpensive, 5-Mode Electric Toothbrush by Margaret Schindel

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


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Wednesday, September 28, 2022

The Best Affordable, Super Sharp Kitchen and Steak Knives Set

Sharp knives are the most important tools in any kitchen. A good chef’s knife, slicer (AKA carving knife), santoku, utility or prep, paring, and serrated bread knife (along with a boning knife, if you frequently debone bone-in meat or poultry) can help you accomplish any food cutting, slicing or chopping task faster and more efficiently.

Using only very sharp kitchen knives is extremely important, not just because they enable you to make faster, easier, more precise cuts but also because they’re safer. A dull blade that doesn’t slide easily into the food you are slicing, paring, etc., requires more force and is much more likely to slide off the food and slice into your finger or hand instead.

Fortunately, with a little effort, it is possible to find good quality kitchen knives that retain their sharpness well with just simple, routine maintenance. In this product review, I’ll share the well-made, affordable, super sharp kitchen and steak knives set I bought last month that also includes a wood storage block.

Photo of Astercook 15-piece knives and knife block set

True confession: I held onto our 30+-year-old Chicago Cutlery stainless steel kitchen knives for way too long. I received the set as a gift when I was too young to know that kitchen knives shouldn't go through the dishwasher (regardless of "dishwasher safe" marketing claims that benefit manufacturers and retailers by increasing both short-term and long-term sales, since blades with ruined edges needs to be replaced more often). The riveted wood handles had become loose and wobbly thanks to swelling and shrinking during dishwasher cycles, and the blades had become so nicked and dull that they couldn't hold an edge even with routine honing and sharpening. This made slicing, dicing, chopping and cutting slow and laborious and caused more frequent cut fingers. I don't know why I waited so long to replace them.

Not All High-Carbon Stainless Steel Knives Are Alike

Several years ago, I took advantage of an Amazon Prime Day deal for a kitchen and steak knife set with sharp blades and molded plastic handles. It also included kitchen shears and a wood storage block with a built-in blade sharpener instead of a honing rod (before I knew that frequent sharpening was a bad idea!).

I explained to my husband that, unlike our previous, beat-up set that had been through the dishwasher countless times (and had the beat-up, dull edges to prove it), our new one had high-carbon stainless steel blades that would need to be hand washed and towel dried thoroughly immediately after use to avoid rust. John is a wonderful cook who makes dinner on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights (I am so blessed!). However, whereas I try to clean as I go when I'm cooking, he prefers to focus on the food and leave the clean-up until after dessert. Old habits are hard to break, and despite his best efforts, he often forgot to wash and dry the new kitchen knives right away. Predictably, the blades routinely developed light rust spots. Eventually, we gave the set to a young relative who was moving into his first apartment.

I bought a Victorinox Fibrox Pro 8-Inch Chef's Knife (model 45520), the winner of Cook's Illustrated favorite chef's knives under $75, which my husband and I really enjoy using. It has a molded, ergonomic, thermoplastic handle for a comfortable grip and sharpens very nicely. Best of all, it can be hand washed and left to drip dry in our awesome over-the-sink dish drying rack without developing rust stains, which makes both of us happy, and cost less than $40 on Amazon (as of this post's publication date). We love it so much that I gifted one to my brother when he started teaching himself to cook. It's still my husband's go-to kitchen knife.

We already owned an excellent handcrafted, serrated bread knife with a beautiful handle that I had purchased long ago at an upscale art and craft fair from the man who made it. Between it and our Victorinox Fibrox Pro, we made do just fine for a year or two. However, while a chef's knife is the single most useful size, shape and style, it isn't optimal for tasks like paring, carving, or making precision cuts or paper-thin slices. So, a few months ago I started looking for a new kitchen knife set that we could use without having to worry about rust spots developing if they weren't washed and dried as soon as we finished using them.

My first step was to check out Cook's Illustrated's knife block set reviews. None of the preconfigured sets they tested met their criteria for top picks. Instead, they put together two highly recommended sets that buyers could assemble but purchasing specific, individual kitchen knives and the testers' favorite knife block. The total cost of these two assemble-your-own "knife block sets" came to $440 and $224, respectively, well above my target price range.

Next, since I really wanted the sharpness and more refined edges of high-carbon stainless steel blades, I decided to look at moderately-priced high-carbon stainless steel kitchen knife sets with "dishwasher safe" marketing claims. Even though I would never put mine in the dishwasher, I reasoned that a set that claimed to be dishwasher safe might be less prone to rust or corrosion than our previous set.

After copious research and reading products reviews to see what customers experienced in terms of both performance and ease of maintenance, I found an affordable set with good reviews on Amazon and decided to buy it.

Astercook 15-piece kitchen knife block set
My Astercook 15-piece knife set with storage block includes kitchen shears, an excellent honing rod and six serrated seak knives (one of which is shown below the honing steel).

Astercook 15-Piece German High-Carbon Stainless Steel Knife Set with Storage Block

Our new Astercook 15-piece German high-carbon stainless steel kitchen knife block set has performed admirably since I bought it nearly two months ago. It is serviceable rather than fancy, which is exactly what we need, and it has not only the essentials but also several nice-to-have and bonus tools.

The Essentials

  • 8" chef's knife
A Western-style chef's knife, with its curved tip, is the most versatile and efficient tool for many tasks, especially those requiring a rocking motion. It's the one we use most often.

    • 8" serrated bread knife
    This versatile blade has many uses beyond just slicing bread. We like using it to cut through fruits that have a thick skin or rind (e.g., pineapple, watermelon) and delicate foods (e.g., slicing cake horizontally into layers).

      • 3.5” paring knife
      The blade is a great length for tasks like peeling, quartering and coring apples, while the sharp, pointed tip makes hulling strawberries a breeze.

        The Nice-to-Haves

        • 7" santoku
        This smaller, lighter, sharper Japanese-style chef's knife was designed for the more precise cuts used to prepare Japanese food and is nearly as versatile as its Western counterpart. I love it for cutting very thin slices of cucumber and other vegetables and prefer it to a serrated bread blade (which also works) for slicing tomatoes cleanly with minimal loss of the interior jelly and seeds. (Did you know that most of a tomato's flavor is in the "guts," i.e., the jelly and seeds?)

          • 8" slicer
          The long, straight blade makes this our tool of choice for carving large, even slices of meat, poultry or fish.

            • 5” utility knife
            Shorter than the chef's but longer than the paring, we love using this versatile midsize, mid-weight blade for slicing hard cheese or salami, mincing parsley, breaking down or deboning poultry and many other tasks.

              Bonus Items

              • Six serrated steak knives
              The 4.5" serrated blades slice effortlessly through cooked meats and stay sharp longer than blades with straight edges.They definitely add to our enjoyment of a good steak!

                • Honing rod (AKA honing steel)
                Like all blades, the ones in this high-carbon stainless steel kitchen knife set require frequent honing to keep them sharp and prolong the need for sharpening. The honing rod that comes with this set does a fabulous job and is far superior to the one from my 30+-year-old set. Just a quick pass or two lets me restore the edges from somewhat sharp to razor-sharp.

                Note: This stainless steel blade honing tool is often referred to as a "sharpening steel" or "sharpening rod." See "What's the Difference Between Honing and Sharpening?" (below) to understand why that's a misnomer.

                  • Kitchen shears
                  These have so many uses! I find it quicker and easier to use kitchen shears for things like making a chiffonade of fresh basil leaves (i.e., stacking, rolling and cutting them into thin strips), snipping fresh chives or scallions into small pieces, cutting up sticky dried fruits (oil the blades first to minimize sticking), and trimming excess pie dough, green beans, fat, etc. As a bonus, this thoughtfully designed pair also has a handy built-in bottle opener!

                  Tip: To help keep the blades sharp, reserve these kitchen shears for food use only and keep a pair of utility scissors in your kitchen drawer for non-food tasks, such as cutting open bags and boxes or cutting baking parchment paper to size.

                    • Acacia wood storage block
                    The wood knife block is not as well made or nicely finished as the tools it holds, which was a bit disappointing but definitely not a deal-breaker. The one we received is darker and has a less attractive wood grain pattern than those in the Amazon listing photos (but is very similar to the one in the product video) and the edges around the slots are a bit rough.

                    That said, it does its job of protecting the knives, kitchen shears and honing rod when not in use and, as you can see, it looks fine on our kitchen counter.

                      Excellent Value, Affordable Price

                      Here are some of the attributes that make this Astercook 15-piece knife set with storage block my pick for the best affordable, super sharp kitchen and steak knives set.

                      • 15-piece set includes everything a home cook needs to choose the best cutting tool for any task
                      • Comfortable in the hand, with enough clearance under the handles to wrap your fingers around them
                      • Forged (vs. stamped), seamless construction
                      • Extremely sharp, German high-carbon stainless steel blades that hold their edge well with frequent honing
                      • Rust-resistant (not rustproof)
                        • Even though the Amazon product listing claims this set is "dishwasher safe", that claim (for any knife set, not just this one) is a marketing gimmick. Believe the Astercook user manual that comes with the set, which clearly states that blades should never go into the dishwasher. That said, if you really don't want to wash and dry them by hand, you can run them through the dishwasher as long as you are willing to have them sharpened frequently and accept that they will need to be replaced much sooner than if you care for them properly.
                      • Lifetime warranty (note that a few Amazon reviewers had difficulty reaching the manufacturer)
                      • Impressive value—a full set of six good quality kitchen knives, six serrated steak knives, a honing steel, a pair of kitchen shears and an acacia wood knife block, all for less than $40 with free Amazon Prime shipping (at the time of this post’s publication)

                      How to Keep Your New Kitchen Knives Sharp

                      Frequent honing will maintain a blade's sharp edge(s) and prolong the its useful life, since most can only be re-sharpened a limited number of times.

                      What's the Difference Between Honing and Sharpening?

                      Honing realigns and smooths the metal along a blade's existing cutting edge to restore its sharpness. Since no metal is removed, you can hone a blade as often as you wish (some people do it either before or after each use) without damaging the edge, as long as you maintain the correct angle as you are sliding it across the honing rod. However, honing won't sharpen a dull blade, which is why it's important to hone frequently to maintain the sharp edge as long as possible.

                      Sharpening removes metal (with abrasives such as a whetstone, diamond sharpening block or manual or electric knife sharpener) to create a new cutting edge. Even with routine maintenance, a blade that gets a lot of use will dull eventually and will need sharpening. Creating the original cutting edge and sharpening the blade correctly when it becomes dull requires precision. For example, different types of blades have cutting edges at different angles, and some are beveled on both sides while others are beveled on only one side. A professional knife sharpening service will deliver the best results at a very reasonable price. However, it's also possible to do a creditable job yourself if you are willing to invest in a high quality knife sharpener, such as Cook's Illustrated's top picks, the three-stage Chef's Choice Trizor 15XV Knife Sharpener and the more affordable, two-stage Chef's Choice 315XV Knife Sharpener.

                      Side view of Astercook 15-piece knife block set
                      This attractive, well-appointed set would make a wonderful gift!

                      A Thoughtful Gift

                      This 15-piece set of high-carbon stainless steel kitchen and steak knives, kitchen shears, honing rod and knife block makes a great gift under $40! Here are just a few ideas for potential gift recipients:

                      • Engaged couples or newlyweds
                      • Cooking enthusiasts
                      • High school graduates headed to college away from home
                      • Anyone who is moving into their first apartment or house and needs to outfit their first kitchen
                      • A would-be home cook who wants to improve their knife skills
                      • Grandparents who haven't replaced their kitchen knives in many years
                      • Anyone with old, dull, or low-quality kitchen knives
                      • Someone who frequently cuts their fingers while prepping food
                      I'll bet there's someone on your gift list who would be thrilled to receive this set as a wedding, engagement, graduation, housewarming or "just because" present.

                      Also, if your current tools aren't as comfortable, well-balanced and sharp as you would like and prepping ingredients takes more time and effort than it should, consider this affordable, super sharp kitchen and steak knives set as a gift to yourself. Remember, dull blades are more likely to skip, slip and accidentally cut you instead of your food. A set that can maintain a very sharp edge with just routine honing makes food prep not just faster, easier and more enjoyable but also safer! 


                      The Best Affordable, Super Sharp Kitchen and Steak Knives Set by Margaret Schindel

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


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


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                      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




                      See More Gift Suggestions Here or Tea Recommendations Here on Review This Reviews!





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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. 


                      Related Links:




                      *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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