Showing posts with label Product Reviews. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Product Reviews. Show all posts

Friday, August 23, 2019

Coleman CPX 6 Easy Hanging LED Lantern Reviewed

The Coleman CPX 6 Easy Hanging LED Lantern is essential emergency equipment!

Coleman CPX 6 Easy Hanging LED Lantern Review
I was reminded a few nights ago when we experienced a 2 hour black-out of why I keep my Coleman LED Lantern next to my bed.  Even if I am sleeping, something always wakes me when the power goes out in our area.  Long before it starts getting hot because the air conditioner is off, I know when our home is blanketed in complete darkness.  I suspect there is a noise level that changes in our house when the electricity is out, but whether it is the absence of the low hum of the refrigerator, or the exterior lights shutting off, I note the difference and wake up.

The first thing most of us do when we are sleeping and sense something amiss, is to reach for a light.  I keep a flashlight on my nightstand, plus I have my emergency lights in the electrical outlets throughout our home.  However, if the power is completely out in our area, I reach for my Coleman lantern for a source of constant light, sufficient to light the room.  


My Preferred Coleman Lantern


Our Coleman Lantern of choice is the CPX 6 Easy Hanging LED Lantern.  For starters, it is a nice, bright light that illuminates a large area whether you are inside or outside.  It will light up most of our backyard if I need to step outside for any reason.

 Coleman CPX 6 LED Work LanternCheck PriceI should note, it is also perfect for the car.  If we should need to stop to change a tire, it would offer enough light to preform the job.  

Clearly, if camping, it will light the tent or the area surrounding your tent.  The batteries add weight to an otherwise lightweight unit, but that is a good thing.  You don't want wind to turn your lantern over if you need to set it on the ground.

The handle can be adjusted for hanging, or tightened for a more secure grip if carrying the lantern.  Since we use ours in our home, we keep the handle tightened down along the back of the light, therefore there is a short handle on the top instead of the longer loop you see in the image on the right.

The feet and the top edge are made of impact resistant rubber.  We all know how important that can be if you are actually using it while working.

All of the aforementioned features are fabulous, but my favorite feature about the Coleman CPX 6 LED Lantern is the length of time it will work without needing new batteries.  There are two light setting optionsThis awesome lantern will light your area for up to 65 hours on high or 155 hours on low.  Our recent 2 hour black-out was no challenge at all for this fabulous lantern.

If you don't like using batteries, there is a Rechargeable Power Cartridge available for this lantern.

In my opinion, every home should have at least one Coleman CPX 6 LED Lantern for emergencies, or just for lighting your own backyard or camp site when needed.

 






Additional Emergency Equipment Reviewed on Review This!


Power Failure Light ReviewPower Failure Light Review
Every home should have a power failure light that automatically comes on during power outages.
I have one of these lights plugged into an outlet in the hallways and main rooms of my own home.



Halo 800 Lumen Handheld Flashlight ReviewHalo 800 Lumen Handheld Flashlight Review
Flashlights come in all sizes, colors, and price range, but I would recommend the Halo 800 lumen flashlight above all the rest!

The Halo 800 Lumen flashlight is lightweight and small, with exceptional lighting ability.




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Coleman CPX 6 Easy Hanging LED Lantern Reviewed by:
House of Sylvestermouse





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Monday, August 12, 2019

Nonni's Biscotti Reviewed

Nonni's Biscotti Reviewed
Looking for a light and airy snack? Perfect to accompany a nice cup of tea or coffee? Nonni's biscotti is a yummy alternative to the after meal cookies and sweets or a mid afternoon snack.

Biscotti The Alternative Snack

The biscotti are made with real butter, eggs and sugar. No preservatives or artificial flavors are used in Nonni's recipe.

Each biscotti is individually wrapped which is very user friendly and keeps the biscotti fresh. The biscotti are light and airy yet crispy. These are perfect for those who like to dunk a crispy treat in their coffee, tea or milk.

These are a very nice alternative to sweets and cookies, but remember that biscotti does translate to a crisp cookie or biscuit. Biscotti is the plural of biscotto and biscotti are traditionally twice baked to obtain the light and dry consistency.

Who Is Nonni?


Nonni is the grandmother of the founder of Nonni's Bakery. The lore of the biscotti recipe began with Nonni in Lucca, Italy an area of Tuscan. The family recipe was then brought to America over a century ago.

Flavors Of Nonni's Biscotti


There are quite a few flavors for the Biscotti!


  • The Originali
  • Cioccolati
  • Dark Almond Chocolate
  • Limone
  • Salted Caramel
  • Toffee Almond
  • Turtle Pecan
  • Triple Chocolate


Where To Buy Nonni's Biscotti


The Biscotti are not inexpensive at our local independent grocer or brand name grocery store. I have found the selection and prices are much better on Amazon. If you'd like to look for Nonni's in your area, check the retail store locator here.

Amazon has a very nice variety pack of Nonni's Biscotti which has four flavors of the Biscotti: Originali, Limone, Turtle Pecan and Cioccolati. The biscotti are much lower priced online than I found locally.


Biscotti are a nice change of pace for those who like sweets and snacks. The flavors are subtle so no need to be worried about being over powered by the flavors. 

As they used to say, "Try it - you may like it!" The tagline of Nonni's is Nobody treats you like Nonni's!





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Saturday, August 10, 2019

Reviews of Silicone Kitchen Tools and Accessories for Cooking and Baking Enthusiasts

Silicone sponges, potholders, spatulas, baking pan liners, muffin pan liners, food storage bags, cooking utensil rests, chocolate chip molds, ice pop molds and other silicone molds have become some of my favorite and most-often-used items in my kitchen.

Although I love cooking and baking, I don’t enjoy washing dishes, so I appreciate being able to toss my silicone kitchen tools into the dishwasher. It’s often just as easy to hand wash them with just a soapy sponge, since even sticky foods wash off easily.
Read on for my reviews of the best silicone kitchen tools and accessories!

Silicone Scrubber Sponges

I started using silicone “sponges” a while ago to protect our nonstick pots and pans. I liked them, but found them hard to handle because they were thin, floppy and a bit small. Also, when something did stick a bit, they didn’t work at all to remove the stuck-on food.

When one of them eventually ripped, I decided to look for something a bit larger and sturdier. I was a bit skeptical when I ordered this set silicone scrubber sponges, but I really liked the fact that they had the nubby silicone sponge “fingers” on one side and a sturdier scrubber pad on the other side. I find it much easier to hold these thicker, less floppy scrubber sponges while washing dishes, utensils, pots or pans. And, like the ones they replaced, they’re made of silicone, so they protect the nonstick finish, don’t trap bacteria and don’t get smelly, as cellulose sponges can. They’re also dishwasher safe.
These silicone scrubber sponges won't scratch nonstick pots and pans
The set includes 3 silicone sponge scrubbers, so I can keep one at the sink, one in the dishwasher and still have a spare. I wish the colors were a bit less drab, like the thinner, brightly colored silicone sponges I purchased originally, but I’m happy to trade less attractive color for more effectiveness in my kitchen.

Silicone Potholders

My hands are very sensitive to hot and cold temperatures, so I've gone through a lot of potholders over the years. The first silicone potholders I tried were the OrkaPlus cotton-lined silicone mitts by Mastrad. These long mitts were like barbecue mitts, providing great coverage that protected my fingers, hands, wrists and the lower half of my forearms. This appealed to me a lot, since I'm prone to burning myself in the kitchen! They also came highly recommended by a respected cooking magazine and had great reviews. Unfortunately, I found them very clumsy and had a hard time getting a good grip on the edges of cookie sheets without smooshing the big silicone thumb part into the cookies (or whatever else was in the pan I was trying to remove from the oven). Next, I tried a pair of small, ribbed silicone pinch mitts, also called mini oven mitts, that just covered my fingers, thumbs and palms. But I found them very awkward to use.
These ribbed silicone potholders protect your hands without getting in the way
Finally, I bought two Architec Silicone HotGrip ribbed silicone potholders that turned out to be the perfect solution. I use them every day, throw them into the dishwasher every evening and they still look like new. They're thick, large enough to protect my hands and grip well, thanks to the ribbed texture. Mine are red, since at the time the pretty teal blue color wasn't available. I can't imagine them wearing out, but if they ever do, I'll definitely be buying the blue ones!

Silicone Spatulas

I frequently use nonstick cookware and bakeware and silicone spatulas help protect the nonstick coating. I’ve added to my silicone spatula collection over time because I use them for so many things.

The first ones I bought (many years ago) had silicone heads attached to handles of a different material (wood, metal or plastic). I soon realized I’d be better off with a seamless, one-piece design. This eliminates the possibility of the business end of the spatula becoming detached from the handle (something that happened to me several times with two-piece designs) and eliminates seams and crevices that can trap food and breed bacteria.

Two years ago, I purchased 4-piece silicone spatula set made by UpGood. I was unfamiliar with the brand but bought it because I liked the shapes and sizes in the set, the reviews were great and the price made them an excellent value. The set includes a long, slim spatula for scraping out jars, a curved spoon spatula and both long and short traditional scraper spatulas with one curved edge and one straight edge, These are very nice quality and they're still going strong in my kitchen a couple of years later, And the charcoal gray color is a neutral that won't clash with your kitchen's color scheme. Here's a photo of the spoon/spatula (AKA "spoonula") from the set.
One of the spoonulas in my growing collection!
I find myself using the spoon/spatula shape the most for cooking and baking. Since I rarely have only one pot or pan going on the stove when I cook, I decided to get a couple more in that shape. I was delighted to find one in a pretty aqua/teal, my favorite color, so I ordered the GIR (Get It Right) 11-inch Premium Silicone Ultimate Spoonula in Teal. This high quality, seamless spoon spatula is made of pharmaceutical grade platinum-cured silicone that's heat resistant up to 550 °F. It also has a sturdy fiberglass core that doesn't heat up like the more common iron or stainless steel spatula cores. It's still one of my favorite cooking utensils - I just love the color and using it makes me happy. (It's the little things, right?) It also comes in Red, Orange or Gray.

I use an iSi Slim Silicone Spatula to scrape out my very tall Vitamix blender. It works extremely well for this purpose and I am very pleased with it.
This iSI slim silicone spatula is perfect for scraping the bottom of my Vitamix blender
Note: Any silicone spatula that is used to scrape out the contents of a blender will eventually get cuts or nicks from the sharp blades, at which point it should be replaced for sanitary reasons.

Silicone Baking Pan Liners

I've been baking for decades and, as any experienced baker will likely tell you, silicone baking mats are a baking staple. When I was younger, I used baking parchment much more often than I do now. But the older I get, the more concerned I become about the pervasiveness of wasteful habits that wreak havoc on the environment. So, increasingly, I've been trying to switch from disposable to reusable items.

For many years, I've used Silpat baking mats to line my cookie sheets. This French brand is so closely associated with this type of silicone bakeware liner that it's most often used as a generic term for them. But when I lost the use of my full-size double oven, I needed to get some smaller ones that would fit the smaller rimmed baking sheets for my tabletop oven.

I had been planning to buy the iconic Silpat brand again, but the name commands a premium and my income is not what it was when I worked in the corporate world. So, when I looked at a pair of silicone baking mats from an unfamiliar brand that had both great reviews and a great price, I took a chance.

Both my husband and I have been using these Quarter Sheet Silicone Baking Mats by WildCow several times a week. They're great for baking, of course, but we also use them to line our tabletop toaster oven rimmed baking sheets before inserting a rack to oven-bake regular or turkey bacon. We much prefer this method to pan frying, since there's no splatter, no turning and no watchful eye needed. These 11 3/4” x 8 1/4" nonstick cooking and baking mats fit inside the 12" x 10" rimmed baking sheets we use in our tabletop toaster oven (although I may trim the tips of the corners on a diagonal at some point). Despite the excellent price, they're thick and sturdy and have held up great. I can hand wash them quickly with my silicone scrubber sponge and hot, soapy water or just toss them into the dishwasher. (I can't figure out why the mat looks stained in this photo, since it isn't in real life!)
This inexpensive silicone baking mat works as well as my expensive Silpat mats
Be aware that these are heat resistant up to 400 °F, so don't use them for something that requires higher heat, such as browning the top of something under the broiler.

If you're using regular 18" x 13" pans — known in  professional kitchens as half size pans — I recommend getting the AmazonBasics Silicone Baking Mat Sheet, Set of 2 in the Standard size. AmazonBasics is one of Amazon's popular private-label "house brands".These silicone baking mats measure 11.6" x 16.5" and can also be used with 11" x 17" baking sheets (although they'll overhang two of the sides slightly). These mats currently have an average customer rating of 4.7 stars based on more than 4,300 customer ratings, are heat-resistant up to 480 °F and are also very well priced.

Silicone Mini Prep Bowls / Pinch Bowls

I've had a set of medium-sized stainless steel prep bowls for years that I still use. But when I set out and prepare all the ingredients before starting to cook or bake (an activity known in the chef / foodie / Food Network world as mise-en-place), it's also nice to be able to prep and measure out small amounts of ingredients, such as seasonings or garnishes.

My Norpro set of 4 silicone mini pinch bowls are perfect for that purpose. The four colorful bowls in the set are bright red, blue, yellow and green, respectively. These cuties are just 2.5" in diameter and 1.5" tall, so they take up practically no counter space, which is a big advantage if you're prepping a lot of ingredients. In the photo, you can see how tiny they are next to a 1-cup measuring cup.
These tiny, colorful silicone pinch bowls are perfect for small amounts of ingredients
The nonstick silicone means I can measure and set out even sticky ingredients, like a couple of tablespoons of molasses or honey, and easily scrape them into a pot, pan or mixing bowl. These bowls are also microwave safe and heat resistant to 500 °F, so I can melt small amounts of butter or coconut oil in them. And because they're flexible, it's easy to pinch the sides of these flexible prep bowls (hence the name "pinch bowls") to control and direct the ingredients as I'm pouring them into my pot or bowl or drizzling melted butter or chocolate or a sauce over a dish.

When I'm through with whatever ingredients I used them for, I just toss these brightly colored mini pinch bowls into the dishwasher.

Reusable Silicone Baking Liners / Baking Cups

I often bake in cupcake or muffin tins, and even more so now that I’ve switched to eating low carb. I love baking batches of low carb, high-protein, sugar-free chocolate muffins made with almond flour or low carb mini cheesecakes that I can keep in the freezer. Baking a recipe in muffin tins rather than full size cake pans helps me with portion control, since I can just grab one serving and defrost it.

While I could just grease the wells of my muffin tins for my protein muffins, that won’t work for recipes like the mini cheesecakes, since they're too soft to turn out onto a rack after they come out of the oven (and since if I chilled them first to firm them up, they wouldn't release easily from the greased muffin tin).

I stopped buying disposable, single-use paper cupcake liners a few years ago, so I decided to look for some reusable silicone baking cups. Also, since our wall oven died a year or two ago*, we’re using a tabletop oven that isn’t wide enough to fit a full-size, 12-cup cupcake or muffin pan. So, I wanted silicone baking cups that were sturdy enough to be used on a baking sheet, without the support of a muffin pan so I could bake a dozen muffins (or mini cheesecakes) at a time in my small tabletop oven. And, of course, they could also be used as cupcake liners for my 6-cup muffin pans, which do fit my tabletop oven.

After considerable research, I chose Pantry Elements Silicone Cupcake Baking Cups & Liners. They’re made from high-quality, 100% food-grade silicone with no fillers, as demonstrated by the fact that they pass the “pinch test” perfectly. (According to numerous sources, if you pinch or bend and twist a flat area on a colored silicone food preparation product and the color appears white in that stretched area, it can indicate the presence of fillers vs. 100% silicone.)
These reusable baking cups work so much better than paper cupcake liners!
They are also thick and sturdy enough to hold their shape after being filled with thick muffin batter. However, if you use them as stand-alone baking cups rather than as cupcake liners inside a muffin tin, place them on the baking sheet before you fill them with batter. Because they are flexible, moving them to the baking sheet after filling them with batter can be messy. (Ask me how I know, lol!)

Cleanup is easy. Sometimes I let them soak in warm, soapy water for a bit and wash them by hand with my silicone sponge, but they’re also dishwasher-safe. And they come in a rainbow of bright, pretty colors, which adds a nice, cheery pop of color to my kitchen.

Best of all, unlike paper cupcake liners, they release cleanly, so I don't end up losing the outer layer of crumbs to the trash. Just look at those sharp, crisp ridges on that muffin!
See how few crumbs stick to these cupcake liners?
I bake with these silicone cups every week and they still look and act brand new. You get 24 liners for around 50 cents each in a convenient, see-through, lidded storage tube. I can’t imagine ever having to replace them.

*In case you're wondering, our defunct double wall oven, which is original to this 1950s house, is too old to be repaired, according to several appliance technicians who have looked at it. Unfortunately, we also can't replace it because it’s surrounded by built-in cabinetry that runs the entire length of the wall and contemporary ovens don’t fit the opening. Believe me, we've tried!

Reusable Silicone Food Storage Bags

Since I switched to a low-carb diet, I’ve been baking grain-free, sugar-free rolls, bread, muffins and brownies to make it easier for this former carbohydrate lover to stay on track. To make this process less time-consuming, I’ve started measuring the dry ingredients for multiple batches and storing them in freezer bags. Now, I can just pull out a bag of my “baking mix” for that recipe, let it come to room temperature, add the wet ingredients and put the batter in the oven. Easy peasy!

Since I am trying to reduce my use of plastic wrap and food storage bags that end up in landfills. So, rather than using disposable plastic freezer bags for this purpose, I decided to get some reusable food grade silicone food storage bags. The ones I chose have bottoms that let them stand up on the counter, which makes them easier to fill. The sliding closure is a bit stiff at first, by design, but loosens up just enough after the first few uses so they’re easier to slide but still airtight. They can also be used in the microwave and for sous-vide cooking and they’re dishwasher-safe for easy clean-up. The one in the photo holds the remaining 1/4 of a psyllium bun from my last batch — time to get baking!
These reusable silicone food storage bags keep disposable plastic bags out of landfills
At roughly 9.5 inches x just under 7 inches, they’re a good size for my baking mixes. And, unlike rigid food storage containers, these fold flat for efficient, space-saving storage when not in use.

Silicone Cooking Utensil Rest

For many years, we’ve kept a marble spoon rest next to the stove. I bought it because I thought it was pretty. However, pretty is as pretty does, and this kitchen gadget has been a thorn in my side for a long time! Marble is absorbent, so the surface frequently stained when I was cooking a tomato-based sauce or dish. Also, I rarely use just one utensil when cooking. So, even though the marble spoon rest was fairly wide, it wasn’t big enough to accommodate multiple cooking utensils.
This easy-to-clean utensil rest holds up to 4 cooking utensils
I finally got rid of it and replaced it with a multi-slot silicone utensil rest. It’s certainly not the prettiest thing in our kitchen and the only color choices are a medium grey or a bright yellow-green, but both my husband and I love it. The four slots are wide enough to accommodate the handles of any of our cooking utensils, but also narrow enough so that the business ends of the utensils are held at an angle, so four utensils can fit without resting on top of each other. That also allows the base to be narrower than it would need to be if the “heads” of the cooking utensils were lying flat. In addition, there’s a small lip or rim around the edge of the base, so if there’s a bit of liquid that drips off a utensil, it doesn’t spill over onto the stove or countertop. The only cooking utensil we have that it isn’t large enough for is our enormous slotted spatula, which is nearly 5” wide!

Best of all, because it’s made of silicone, it’s stain-resistant, non-stick, heat-resistant up to 450 °F and dishwasher safe.

Silicone Chocolate Chip Molds

Most commercially available chocolate chips aren’t as high quality as those same brands offer in bars or chunks. In fact, many of the best quality chocolate manufacturers don’t make chocolate chips at all. So, if you’re a true chocolate lover like I am, whenever you use chocolate chips in a recipe, you’re usually settling for second (or third) best.

In addition, as I’ve matured, my taste buds have evolved. Now I prefer really dark chocolate, which has the added benefit of being heart-healthy in modest amounts. Unfortunately, it’s hard to find high-quality, very dark chocolate chips. The so-called dark chocolate chips in the grocery store are 60% cacao; but for heart health benefits, dark chocolate should be labeled 70% cacao or higher according to the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic.

If you want sugar-free chocolate chips, it’s even more of a challenge. The darkest I’ve found are Lily’s stevia sweetened chocolate chips which, while delicious, contain only 55% cacao – much too low to improve heart health.

Whether you prefer traditional or sugar-free chocolate, the lower the percentage of cacao, the higher percentage of other ingredients, which increases the number of net carbs per serving.
Sure, you can chop up a sugar-free dark chocolate bar instead, if you’re using them in a recipe. But sometimes you really want real chocolate chips!

So, I was delighted to find these silicone chocolate chip molds, which allow me to make my own healthy, sugar-free, dark chocolate chips that look as though they came right out of a bag from the store.
These adorable chocolate chip molds let you make better quality chips for less!
If I’m feeling lazy, I can just melt a sugar-free dark chocolate bar, smooth it into the molds, let the chocolate harden (or chill the molds for a bit during the hot summer months), then invert and twist the molds to release the chips. I store them in one of my silicone food storage bags until I’m ready to use them in recipes (or eat them just the way they are). The molds come in a set of three. I've shown two facing up and one facing down so you can see the shape of the chocolate chips it makes.

If I have a bit more time, however, I make my own sugar-free, melted dark chocolate from scratch and use that in the molds. Homemade chocolate chips are also less expensive for the quality you get. Either way, I can get sugar-free dark chocolate chips with a much higher percentage of cacao than I can buy commercially.

Silicone Ice Pop Molds

Who doesn't love to cool off with a sweet, refreshing ice pop during the dog days of summer? Many years ago I stopped buying them and started making my own at home. My homemade ice pops are healthier, more nutritious and much cheaper than what I can buy at the store. More importantly (to me), I have complete control over the choice and quality of the ingredients. I use organic produce, dairy, coconut milk and other ingredients as much as possible. No food coloring in my food, thank you! Now that I'm eating low carb, I've also cut out not only processed sugars but also organic honey, maple syrup, date syrup and other natural sweeteners. So, pretty much the only way to ensure that the ice pops I eat meet my strict criteria for food quality and nutrition is to make them myself.

One of the low carb ice pop recipes I've really been enjoying is called Creamy Keto Fudgesicles. Personally, I think they taste much richer and creamier than their namesake, more like a chocolate pudding pop. They're made by blending ripe avocado, unsweetened cocoa powder, full fat coconut milk, erythritol, vanilla and a little sea salt, pouring them into frozen treat molds and freezing them. The first time I made the recipe, I discovered that the pudding-like mixture was too thick to go through the silicone funnel that came with my Lebice Popsicle Molds (which are very nice unless you're trying to make a frozen treat such as pudding pops or cheesecake pops that involve a very thick mixture). When I tried spooning the mixture into the molds with a teaspoon, even though I was extremely slow and careful I was unable to prevent some of the mixture from getting on the lip and exterior of the ice pop molds.

Since I knew I'd be making this recipe often, especially during the summer, I decided to look for a set of molds with wider openings. I wanted these new molds to have not only wider openings but also reusable lids and sticks. Ideally, they would be dishwasher safe. They would need to be made of BPA-free, FDA-approved food-grade materials and release the frozen ice pops without a struggle.
These brightly colored ice pop molds make nice, big popsicles
The pudding pop recipe makes 6-8 pops, depending on the size of the molds, so I decided to buy a Silicone Popsicle Molds Set with two molds that can make up to 8 ice pops. One of the molds is a deep, bright pink (which the manufacturer calls "rose red" for some reason) and the other is a bright lime green. The set comes with integrated one-piece lids/sticks, two each in pink, lime green, orange and aqua-turquoise. (Kids probably would love getting to choose their favorite color.) And each well holds a generous 3.38 ounces.


Believe it or not, I've got even more silicone kitchen tools, and I'm sure there will be more in my future! If you have some favorites, I'd love to hear about them.



Silicone Kitchen Tools and Accessories for Cooking and Baking Enthusiasts reviewed by 
Margaret Schindel


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Friday, August 9, 2019

Clean Your Bathtub Without Harmful Chemicals or Fumes

Mr. Clean Magic Erasers Reviewed

Clean a porcelain bathtub without any fumes or harmful chemicals!  The Mr. Clean Magic Eraser does a better job of cleaning the tub too.
For many years, actually decades, I knew cleaning day would end with a migraine headache.  Even if I took a pain reliever before I started, I still ended up in excruciating pain.  

I knew the smell of the strong chemicals was to blame, but we had to have a clean home.  Therefore, week after week, I toughed it out, cleaned and suffered.  

Even with fans and open windows, the fumes were just too much for me, until I discovered Mr. Clean Magic Erasers.  No only do they erase dirt and grime, they do it without harmful chemicals.  Therefore, they also erased my cleaning day migraines and I am most grateful!

Though it may no longer be necessary because of chemicals I can smell, I still protect my skin by wearing disposable nitrile gloves when I clean.


The Mr. Clean Magic Erasers


My husband's aunt was the first person to recommend the Mr. Clean Magic Erasers to me.  She shared how they easily cleaned scuff marks off her kitchen floor, baseboards and walls.  I purchased a package for that purpose.  

Then one day, not too long after I started using the awesome erasers on my baseboards, I had an epiphany.  If they work so well on baseboards and scuff marks, why not try them on the bathtub?

Eureka!  I had finally found a way to clean a porcelain bathtub without any fumes or harmful chemicals!!!  What's more, that little eraser does a better job of cleaning the tub, in my opinion.

Clean a porcelain bathtub without any fumes or harmful chemicals!  The Mr. Clean Magic Eraser does a better job of cleaning the tub too.
The Magic Eraser shows the Dirt & Grime Removed From This Bathtub

The bathtub in the photo is used every day for showers, and it is over 20 years old.  This particular tub is in a windowless bathroom.  It was the one I dreaded cleaning the most because I had only a fan to help eliminate the fumes while cleaning, and that simply was not enough to forestall the migraine.   

I have no doubt my body was trying to tell me something, loud and clear, with those migraines.  Believe me, it wasn't that I didn't understand, nor was I ignoring their warnings.  It was simply a matter of necessity.  I had to clean our bathrooms!  Now, I can enjoy a clean bathroom without paying a painful price.


How to Clean a Porcelain Bathtub with the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser


The erasers need to be wet to work.  I leave the bath water running and draining while I rub the entire surface of the bathtub with the wet Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.  Then I swoosh the water around to rinse the residue.  It really is very easy and odorless.  My biggest complaint now when I clean the tub, it won't stay that way for long.  They shiny porcelain beckons one to bathe.

Now, I can sing while cleaning.  I can take deep breaths and hit high notes that are not related to pain and suffering.  

The Mr. Clean Magic Erasers are one of the greatest discoveries in my life!  








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House of Sylvestermouse



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Monday, July 29, 2019

Reviewing the Origami Rack: Folding Storage Racks

Reviewing my Origami Rack.
A friend told me that he had a shelf for me. He said he'd bring it over if I wanted it. I said yes with some hesitance. Maybe I am a shelf snob. Because I did NOT want a flimsy plastic rack or one of those ugly metal racks that are often used in workshop spaces. Fortunately, the shelf unit he brought to me is an Origami Rack and it is AMAZING! I couldn't be more thrilled with this storage solution.


Origami Folding Racks



My friend carried the folded shelf up to my third floor apartment. In the living room, he pulled the shelf open with one move and fastened it open with two small latches. My shelf is on wheels, so I easily wheeled it to the corner of my teeny dining room.

These racks are great for indoor use, laundry rooms, garages, and anywhere that extra storage space is needed. 

The folks at Origami Racks state:



If I don't need to use this shelf, it folds flat to approximately 3 inches thick. (Unfortunately, I did not measure it while it was still folded).


My Storage Needs



I need storage in this teeny, tiny apartment. There is barely space to turn around, let alone store things. Even though I'm not looking for "pretty" storage, it helps that this shelf isn't ugly.

My rack measures 63" tall x 2' wide x 2' deep. It is on wheels and has four shelves.

When in use, this shelf is incredibly strong. On one shelf I have two partial 20 lb bags of dog food, the plastic dog food bin (I mix two brands and put the ready-to-use food in the bin) and a 5 gallon bucket that is full of cans of food and bags of rice (we were expecting a hurricane and I stocked up on food). One shelf easily holds these large items. I will need to do some re-arranging and decide exactly what I want to store on these shelves. I just excitedly threw these items on the shelves: glad to get some of these things out from under my table and up off the floor. Also, the cat litter took up a large bit of the space in my bathroom linen closet. I'm glad to have extra space in that closet and thrilled that the Origami shelf holds such heavy items. 

Some of the photos online make the shelves appear flimsy, as though the joint in the shelf would be a weak point. But be assured that these shelves are strong!

Related Links:

Origami Rack has a shop on Amazon - if you are like me and are a prime member and love the free shipping and the delivery (I hate carrying things up my three flights of stairs). On that Amazon page, you can see a variety of items as well as photos of the shelves when folded. 

Visit the Origami Rack website for more information and to see what shelves are currently offered. 




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Friday, July 26, 2019

Slim Wallet with RFID Reviewed

Slim Wallet with RFID Reviewed
Many years ago, I discovered the convenience of carrying a wallet in my pocket instead of a purse.  I've always hated the "bulge" created by a wallet, but fashion can't always be the priority in life for most of us.

In my teen and young adult years, I always carried a purse.  During those years, it never really occurred to me that there was an alternative.  Handbags were not only a normal accessory for females, they were often a fashion statement.  I enjoyed selecting and changing my purse to match my shoes.  Without really meaning to, I had quite a collection of purses in my closet.  However, motherhood changed all of that for me and the "practical" replaced my business pumps and purses.

I quickly found out that trying to balance a baby on my hip, a diaper bag and a purse, was simply overwhelming for me.  I had to reduce my daily "luggage" and I certainly was not going to leave my child behind.  Therefore, the purse had to go!  

Because I had to have my drivers license, I opted for a small wallet that I could carry in my pants pocket.  I hated leaving behind my wallet of photos, but that sacrifice had to be made.  I remember it really was an adjustment for me at the time.

My children are adults now, but I have never returned to carrying a purse.  In fact, my wallets have been streamlined and the hated wallet bulge has disappeared.   



My Slim Wallet


 Slim Wallet RFID Front Pocket Wallet Minimalist Secure Thin Credit Card Holder (Waterproof Grey)Check PriceAfter a few decades of carrying a thin wallet that resembles a pocket with a flap, I recently changed to a slim wallet.  You wouldn't even notice that I was carrying this flat wallet in my back pocket unless you were intentionally looking.  When we went hiking recently, I actually carried it in the upper pocket of my vest and could barely see the outline of the wallet.  Again, I doubt most people would even have noticed it.  

I admit, I have had to get used to having an "open" wallet, but I definitely prefer the flat construction.  

This slim wallet has built-in RFID blocking material which allowed me to eliminate one card I was carrying in my wallet.  There are 6 card slots and a front clear ID window for my driver's license.  The top loading pocket is perfect for folded dollar bills.

These slim wallets come in a variety of colors.  While I don't think it is necessary to match my wallet to my shoes, it would be possible if I wanted to just for fun!







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Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Summer's Bounty How to Make the Best of It!


Reviewing the Gardenmaster Food Dehydrator 


Summertime is here and the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables is upon us!  Let's review how to enjoy all of this goodness now and later too!   Food Dehydrators are not new, but they may be new to you!

If you are a gardener, I'm sure that your little (or big) plot is starting to show signs that there will be a good crop of some fruits and vegetables coming soon.  If you are anything like me, you can hardly wait for that first ripe tomato.  Everyday you go to the garden to see its growth.  Then it starts to turn red and the excitement is almost palpable.  Okay, I'm a little crazy for my fresh fruits and veggies.

Right now we are in the height of strawberry season, so you know where I will be.  Off to my closest "pick your own" patch to indulge in early summer sweetness.  After I have eaten my fill, made some jam and eaten some more, there will still be strawberries that I need to process somehow.

Now this is where my product review starts!  


Have you ever thought about buying a Food Dehydrator and drying the rest?  There are several ways that you can make the freshness of this seasons fruits and vegetables last through the year.  Making jams, jellies and chutneys are one way.  Preserving and canning is another. But wait, there is still the other option and that is to dry the goodness for use later!  Easy and quick too!  No more wasting your food dollars.



We purchased a  Food Dehydrator a couple of years ago, when my other half decided to make his own beef jerky.  Yes, you can make your own beef jerky, but that is not what I do.

I use this dehydrator to keep all my herbs, tomatoes, carrots, peppers and all other manner of fruits and vegetables for my winter time cooking.  I get the same flavor as I would if I had just harvested my garden.  I can also take advantage of the farmer's markets and buy more fresh produce, both for use now and for dehydration and use for later.


These pictures show you how I just finished drying a whole bunch of parley and basil.  It took less than an hour and my parsley flakes are beautiful in color and smell.  The basil dried to a light brown, but the smell is incredible. I will use these throughout the fall and winter in my recipes.


No more buying fruit roll ups with their questionable ingredients.  Make your own and you will know exactly what is in that delicious dried fruit.  To make fruit roll ups you will need to purchase some non-stick sheets that fit into the dehydrator.  This will keep the fruit from falling through the grids in the different layers.  You can make different fruit bars all at the same time.  Fresh and flavorful with no additives and preservatives.  Just plain really good fruit!



Save money by letting less of your food dollars go to waste!

We in the West are known for our mishandling of our food dollars.  So much of what we buy ends up in the garbage, wasted and useless.  Don't let this be your story!

Preparing foods for dehydration is not a difficult task.  Just wash your veggies and fruits well, cut them up, place them into the trays and set it on!

Your fruits and veggies will be ready in a few hours depending on what you are drying. Beef jerky takes a little longer, but oh my is the taste ever delicious.  It has store bought beat hands down.


Food Dehydrator and Recipe Book included!


Don't be afraid to try new things.  This food dehydrator will have you saving all those fruits, vegetables and spices without thinking twice.  No more buying fresh herbs for a recipe and then throwing away the rest.  Dry it instead, so that next time you need it, it is there for you!  Once you get the hang of it, you will find that you will waste less and really enjoy the fresh taste of homemade!


The only Accessory you might need:


If you are making fruit roll ups, you will need the non-stick mats that fit right into the trays.  Because of the sugar content in fresh fruit, you will have a sticky mess without these sheets.  They are inexpensive and will help you make better use use of the dehydrator!


I hope I have given you something that you can work with and enjoy for many years to come.  Fresh food and flavors that are just out of this world, can be yours, with a little work!  Your family will enjoy the benefits and the healthy snacks that will be made right at home in your kitchen.  










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Monday, July 22, 2019

Defiant Wireless Motion Sensor Solar Light Review

Need an outdoor light but no electrical outlet? The wireless motion sensor solar light by Defiant can assist. I recently needed to light an outdoor walkway which was marooned between electrical outlets and hard wiring the area was not an option.


I purchased the Defiant Wireless Solar Light to solve the no electrical outlet, need light problem and have been very impressed with its' performance. 


Brightness

Brightness
Motion Sensor

x
This is a bright light! It is not for subtle soft lighting along the deck, patio or home. The solar light has the equivalency of 20 LED lights.

The unit actually has two lights. The main light facing out and an interior back light behind the main light. The two lights are synchronized to provide the full brightness. The motion sensor feature then regulates how the lights are dimmed after activation.




Motion Sensor


I found the motion sensor to be very accurate. The small unit is deceiving as to how quickly it will pick up motion. Activity to trigger the motion sensor is up to 26 feet with a 120 degree radius according the the specifications.

There are two settings for the motion sensor:

1. When motion is detected the front and back light turns on to full brightness. After 10 seconds of no motion both lights turn to low brightness.

2. Standby mode. When motion is detected the front and back light turns to full brightness. After 10 seconds of no motion the front light turns off and the back light turns to low brightness.

The light does not have an option for both lights to be turned off after activation. 


Solar Light & Wireless

The solar light takes eight hours of charging to provide 12 hours of continuous light during the night. 

The wireless feature is perfect for areas of the home, deck, landscape or yard which are not located near an electrical outlet. The unit is easy to install as it is lightweight and requires two wall screws (included.) However I liked the portability of the unit due to its' lightweight and shape so I positioned the unit on the deck stairs to face the sun.

 

 

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Saturday, July 20, 2019

Ace Hardware Color of the Year Review


Ace Hardware is known for it's multiple paint products and their paint mixers which are able to give the customers the exact paint colors they desire. In mid-2018, in conjunction with Clark and Kensington Paint, Ace decided to run a consumer-led color contest to select a new batch of colors for 2019. 

Ace held a Neighborhood Paint Party in March, 2018 where consumers were encouraged to hand mix, create and name their own paint color for a chance to be entered into Ace's Color of the Year Contest.





The Winning Color of the Year


Twenty-five finalists were selected from the entries by a panel of Ace color experts and over 35,000 fans voted for their favorite color via social media channels. 



The winning Clark+Kensington color was created by a New Jersey woman who states she was daydreaming about enjoying a delicious dessert while on a relaxing vacation.


“The color is soothing and yet bright; sweet with just a bit of tartness.” 

She named her mellow yellow winning color “Pineapple Cream Granita”. As the winner, she also received a $1,000 Ace Gift Card. 


Runner-Up Winners



Six runners-up were also selected and these colors are now all available at your local Ace Hardware store.  The six other colors are:


  • Jack Come Back! (a burgundy red) 
  • Shake Your Flipper (a sea blue) 
  • Leroy the Rooster (an orange shade) 
  • Warm Llama (a gray tone) 
  • Tina's Patina (an aqua blue shade)
  • Miracles in D'skies (a deep blue with a turquoise tint). 


The six runner-up winners each received a $250 Ace Gift Card. 

Ace is the Place


For more than 90 years, Ace Hardware has been known as the place with the helpful hardware folks. The paint contest has now made their paint department even more helpful. 


If you need paint, especially a unique color, for any of your household projects, visit the Paint Studio at an Ace Hardware near you and enjoy choosing the one that suits you best. All seven of these new customer-created colors are exclusive to Ace Hardware. 


Visit ACE online or 
your local neighborhood store and choose your favorite paint color


*Ace Hardware paint color contest article written by (c) Wednesday Elf on 7/20/2019

**Images scanned from a free paint chip flyer obtained at my local Ace Hardware ~ Jerry's Ace in Eldridge, Iowa. 


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Thursday, July 18, 2019

Paws and Pals Dog Ramp Review

Finn's New Dog Ramp
As I approach the second anniversary of bringing Finn, my special needs/strengths dog, home from the animal shelter, I find myself reflecting on his extraordinary capacity for achieving things he wasn't supposed to be able to do.  Finn has grown well beyond the initial confines of his physical disability, which compels me to provide him with more and more opportunities to do as much as possible through his own initiative and power.  Yesterday, I bought Finn a portable dog ramp that will provide him with more freedom to access his world.  This review shares our first impressions and experiences with the Paws and Pals ramp.

Finn, like all of us, has his own way of approaching new challenges.  I've gotten better at understanding his learning style and anticipating Finn's insecurities (before they kick in), which helps me to be a more effective trainer.  A good starting point today was to take Finn to his favorite park for the first lesson in using a ramp.  I wanted Finn to be relaxed, and for him to associate good things with the pet ramp.

Step One - Explore the Ramp Flat on the Grass
First, to allow Finn to discover the scent, texture, and sound of being on the ramp, I laid it flat on the grass.  This was a very nonthreatening way for him to check it out.  I brought a high-value treat to reward Finn's every success (cheese works magic).  By strategically placing three cubes of cheese on the ramp, it was very easy to entice Finn to take his first steps up onto and across the ramp.  From his second crossing on, I could tell by reading Finn's body language that he was already feeling confident, and even enthusiastic, about this new game.  After the third ramp crossing, I didn't even have to offer a treat.


Having mastered the low-risk, no fear element of ramp exploration, I decided Finn was ready to take it to the next level.  I found a broad tree stump with a height a few inches above ground level.  Because I thought the surface of the plastic ramp might be a little slippery when elevated, and because Finn is very sensitive about his footing, I covered the ramp with some inexpensive rubberized shelf liner.  The new ramps come with sheets of grip tape, but the gently used model I bought did not have that option.  My solution worked perfectly.  Finn climbed the gentle slope with no hesitation.

Nonslip Liner on Ramp
Since Finn appeared to be having fun with our lesson, was having complete success, and didn't appear mentally or physically fatigued, we forged on.  Had that not been the case, I would have spread these ramp lessons over several sessions on different days.

Next, I used a park bench to elevate one end of the ramp about 14 inches off the ground.  We were now approaching the level Finn would need to master to use the ramp for getting into a low vehicle, or for getting up on furniture.  One great thing about this dog ramp is that it can be used indoors or outdoors.

Park Bench Height Ramp Elevation
I lured Finn up the elevated ramp by leading him with a piece of cheese.  It was important to keep him on a short leash and to walk alongside him on this first climb up a steeper angle.  I didn't want Finn to be tempted to jump off the side of the ramp.  We took it slow and he had no problems making it up onto the bench.  At that point, I felt Finn had done enough for day one.  As always, Finn accomplished even more than I had planned for him, and he laid to rest any concerns I had about whether or not a dog with only partial use of his rear legs could balance on, and ascend, a fairly narrow elevated ramp (it's thirteen and a half inches wide between the rims).

Finn will mostly use his Paws and Pals ramp inside the house.  My vehicle is not really conducive to having Finn load himself, although I won't rule it out until I let him give it a try.  He's sure to surprise me.  A car, van, or hatchback vehicle would be more ideal for the use of this ramp (nothing requiring too steep an incline).  I mainly want Finn to be able to get up and down off the bed for starters.  From there, we'll work on graduating to ever greater challenges worthy of Finn's capabilities.

Light, Compact, Easy to Carry and Store
Given such fast success with the ramp, especially for a cautious dog, Finn and I are giving it a Four Paws Up rating.  I really like all of the main features:

  • Folds up compact for storage (15.5" wide x 10" long x 16.5" high).
  • Lightweight (just eight pounds).
  • Made of a durable, easy to clean plastic.
  • Easy to carry with the attached handle.
  • Simple to use (no assembly required).
  • Long enough for typical uses without being too bulky to handle (60" when fully extended).
  • Strength rated for up to a 110-lb. dog.
  • Multiple applications for indoor or outdoor use.
  • Good value and quality for the price (least expensive ramp I found).
Who could benefit from a pet ramp?  Senior dogs, puppies, injured dogs, disabled dogs, small dogs, convalescing pets, and any weak dog or cat.  It is also a major help to those who care for animals (especially those who are physically unable to carry or load a large, heavy dog).  Even totally healthy animals enjoy using ramps.  It's good, stimulating exercise for a pet to try new ways of balancing and climbing.  

We'll keep you posted and continue to add photos as Finn becomes the master of his domain.  I'm sure he will continue to push the boundaries and to constantly redefine what it means to be a special strengths dog who just happens to have been born with legs that work differently.  Finn acts as though he has no limitations.  I feel it is my responsibility to give him as much rein as possible and to not do for Finn the things he can do for himself.  We're learning together how to be the best versions of ourselves in ways that elevate one another.



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