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

Friday, February 26, 2021

Relief for Migraine Sufferers with Cold Rice Packets Reviewed - Heated for Muscle Pain Relief

Eye Pillows

Years ago I learned the secret to getting some relief from migraine headaches by using rice filled cold compresses directly on my forehead. Used behind my neck, it will often relieve the nausea that accompanies migraines. 

I made cold rice compresses with kitchen towels for myself and to give as gifts for Christmas over 25 years ago.  I simply made the kitchen towels into "bags" by sewing the sides and ends together and filling them with a package of rice.  I used mine for decades.  However, I recently purchased eye pillows on Etsy filled with rice to replace my threadbare towel rice packs.

The rice packs can also be heated in the microwave for 15 - 20 seconds to apply to aching muscles or sore shoulders.  I made one towel rice pack for heating. 

Rice will mold around the area of your body which helps distribute the heat or cold.  In both cases, the rice "weights" the pack and holds it in place, unless you move.

While the cold packs will not cure a migraine, they do bring some relief while waiting on medication to work its magic.  The cold rice packs are absolute miracles themselves on their effectiveness to relieve nausea


Eye Pillow Face Rice Pack on Etsy

I love these extra-large eye pillows!  Because these eye pillows cover forehead and checks, they effectively shut out light, which is also imperative to migraine sufferers.

I keep my eye pillows in my freezer at all times.  Therefore, they are immediately ready when needed. 

 XL eye pillow/face rice pack:
Migraine & sinus relief hot/cold pack
Check Price

 

You can opt to have your eye pillows scented. I chose "Scent: none" because fragrance of any kind will increase the pain of my migraines.  

I purchased two eye pillows.  That way, when the first one starts to warm to room temperature, I can grab the second one from the freezer when returning the first to re-chill. 

My migraines normally last for hours but the pain lessens after the first hour or so once my medicine kicks in.  Unfortunately, some other family members suffer with them for days.  Granted, mine were much longer lasting when I worked full time and couldn't immediately grab a cold press and medicine.  I have vivid memories of coming home from work in great pain and sticking my head in the freezer for relief.  It really is easier to lay down with a cold rice filled eye pillow than to stand with your head in the freezer.




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Thursday, February 25, 2021

Reviewing a Heated Dog Bowl for Birds

 

Carolina Wren enjoying the Heated Dog Bowl


I enjoy watching and photographing birds in my back yard.  In order to attract birds to my yard I know it is important to provide a steady supply of food and fresh water. 

For food I fill several different feeders with different types of food.  I love song birds so I make sure to put out a steady supply of black oiled sunflower seeds.  I also put out nyjer seed for the little finches.  I love to attract woodpeckers so I offer both suet cakes and suet pellets.

For water I have a birdbath which the birds love both for drinks and bathing.  This winter has been particularly cold and the bird bath water is always frozen so I searched for a good way to provide fresh water.  I know there are heated birdbaths, but they were a little out of the cost range I was considering.  I read on one of my bird groups that a heated dog bowl works great for birds and is inexpensive so I decided to try that.

Heated Dog Bowl


After looking at several sites I settled on this dog bowl.

                                  

This bowl had several features which I find works well.  At one quart it is a good size for my deck.  It is thermostatically controlled so that it only operates when it is necessary.  The bowl has an anti-tip construction and the cord is covered with a heavy duty protector.  It comes in several colors and I chose the bright blue because I was hoping to attract some blue birds and I thought that would look great in the photographs.

I have had the bowl for 2 months now and it has worked great.  It has really been tested the last two weeks when our temperatures have been below freezing the entire time and we've had wind chills in the -10 area.  The bowl has worked perfect and provided water for the birds in the chilling weather.  When it has snowed the snow just melts into the bowl.  I am very pleased  with my purchase and I think my birds are too!

Photographs of Birds at the Water Bowl


Here are some photographs of birds taken at the new water bowl.  First of all it did attract the Eastern Blue Birds I was hoping to get.  I love the way their coloring matches with the bowl.





Here are some of the other birds enjoying the water. The Robin looks pleased to have some fresh water and the Cardinal and House Finch also enjoy the water.  








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Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Super Comfortable and Flattering Yoga Pants for Women

I finally discovered the joy of wearing comfortable yoga pants and workout leggings as an alternative to jeans or pants after beginning a successful ketogenic diet journey that culminated in a nearly 60–pound weight loss. After purchasing several different styles and sizes of yoga pants over the past 21 months, there have been three (so far) that I can recommend highly, each for different reasons. The pair I've chosen to feature in this product review, the IUGA high-waisted workout leggings, are by far the most comfortable yoga pants for women I've tried. 

They not only feel wonderful and are available in a choice of several, they're also flattering, even on those of us who aren't blessed with model-perfect bodies. 

Photo of IUGA yoga pants on model with superimposed text "The Most Comfortable Yoga Pants Super Soft Fabric That Doesn't Bag or Bind for a Flattering Fit
There's no bunching, bagging, or binding with these ultra-soft, ultra-comfy workout leggings! 

Yoga Pants and Workout Leggings Have Become Wardrobe Staples

The fashion experts at Vogue magazine just released this year's Vogue Wardrobe Essentials Guide. and black workout leggings are one of the editors' 34 wardrobe staples for 2021. (Who knew?)

Originally, yoga pants and workout leggings were made specifically for yoga practice and working out, respectively, and had different fabric and design features. But as they have evolved from fitness-only to fashion, those distinctions have gradually eroded, and now the terms "yoga pants" and "leggings" are often used either together or interchangeably in product descriptions.

Yoga Pants Provide Greater Comfort and Freedom of Movement Than Pants or Jeans

My first time buying a pair of yoga pants wasn't until shortly after my 65th birthday, when I began a health-driven weight loss journey and switched to a clean, ketogenic approach to eating. I completely eliminated sugars, grains, and highly processed foods from my diet, and between May 2019 and August 2020, I lost 59 pounds and went from a size 16-18 to a size 6-8. Every two to three months (even less, at the beginning), I was dropping a size, and boxing up my almost-new clothing to donate. Having to buy them again in a smaller size every few months meant limiting my clothing purchases to a few, basic wardrobe staples—underwear, jeans, black pants, shorts, and a couple of tops—until I reached my weight loss goal.

As you may have noticed, neither yoga pants nor leggings were on my initial list of wardrobe staples. I had always associated them with much younger, slimmer women and girls, with taut, toned bodies and cute figures, so they weren't even on my radar at that point! However, my attitude toward this type of clothing changed significantly once I accepted that my commitment to healthier living would require becoming more active, in addition to nourishing my body better.  

One of the most important benefits of losing weight and follow a clean, ketogenic diet was the amelioration, and eventual elimination, of the chronic, acute pain in my knees, hips, back, and feet that I had been living with for decades. Being able to go for a walk or a Segway ride with my husband  without being in agony was not just liberating, but life-changing! As I was searching online for a new, smaller pair of classic, high-waisted, basic black pants (which I wore more often than anything else I owned), I was surprised to see more high-waisted leggings and yoga pants than regular pants in the search results. It occurred to me that it might be a good idea to expand my list of wardrobe staples to include a couple of pieces of activewear, to support and encourage my efforts to make physical activity part of my new, healthy lifestyle. In fact, it might even be time for me to consider a pair of workout leggings a try.

Of course, I could wear them...but should I? Would it be possible for yoga pants to look attractive (or, at least, not unattractive) and age-appropriate, on this out-of-shape senior? I debated with myself for a while, but finally acknowledged that I couldn't see myself objectively, and decided to ask my husband what he thought, knowing he would give me his honest opinion. He encouraged me to order a pair and try them on. 

When I did, I was surprised and delighted at his reaction, which was more positive than I could have imagined! You could have knocked me down with a feather. I also was thrilled to discover how much more comfortable and less restrictive those yoga pants felt, compared to the jeans and tailored pants I had always worn, Before long, I found myself wearing them several days a week, not only for walks and Segway rides, but also for routine, everyday activities, like working, reading, cooking, or watching a movie. They quickly went from being completely off my radar to becoming a staple in my new wardrobe. 

I'm pulling my hamstring and calf muscles together as far as I can, the fabric doesn't bind or cut into them, it simply conforms to the compression I'm creating

Since that first pair, I have purchased other pairs from different brands and with slightly different features, and my IUGA high-waisted workout leggings have been the most comfortable yoga pants I've owned to date. 

What I Love Most About My IUGA High-Waisted Leggings

Ultra-Soft, Opaque Fabric

  • The first thing I noticed about these yoga pants was the extremely soft, silky, luxurious fabric, which gave these a totally different feel than any of my other leggings. The best word I can think of to describe it is "touchable," with a lovely, tactile quality similar to that of microfiber. 
  • The "non see through" fabric is completely opaque. 

Flattering Fit

  • The fiber content blends polyester for shape retention with spandex for excellent stretch and recovery, as well as abrasion-resistance.*
  • The 4-way stretch provides good compression and support. 
  • The high-waisted silhouette, seamed front and back yoke construction, and increased compression around the lower torso are designed to "contour your curves" and "pull in your tum and bum." 
  • They are made in six sizes, ranging from XS to XXL, and there's a size chart to help you determine which one will fit you best. (I followed the size chart when I ordered mine, and they fit me perfectly.)
* Note: The description on the Amazon product page states that the fiber content of these workout leggings is 80% polyester and 20% spandex. However, the fiber content printed inside my light blue IUGA yoga pants is 87% polyester and 13% spandex. Sometimes, a product's fiber content may vary slightly different from one color to another, which is one possible explanation for the discrepancy, but your guess is as good as mine.

Extremely Comfortable

  • The smooth, soft, supple polyester and spandex fabric also wicks moisture away from the body to keep you dry and comfortable while working out.
  • These yoga pants provide less compression around the the legs than around the lower torso, so they don't bind or cut into your legs, but also enough to remain conformed to your legs and prevent the fabric from bunching or sagging as you move, bend, and stretch. 

Waistband Pocket

Photo of built-in pocket in the waistband of the IUGA workout leggings/yoga pants
  • The built-in pocket is completely hidden, and remains undetectable unless or until you decide to place something inside it.
  • Although I haven't had to use it very often, I'd guess it could easily hold a couple of keys, a lip balm, and a few tissues, for example.  
    • According to the product description, "You will be able to stash your phones and keys safely." Keys? Probably. But unless your phone is quite small, I wouldn't consider the waistband pocket a secure place to stash it. 
  • Access is easy and convenient.

Excellent Quality

  • I purchased my IUGA High Waisted Leggings three months ago, and I machine wash and then hang them over a clothes drying rack to dry. After having laundered them quite a few times so far, there appears to have been no fading, pilling, or changes in the fit or performance of these yoga pants. 
  • At the time this post was published, they had more than 5,400 5-star ratings from Amazon customers.

A Choice of Colors and Lengths

  • Currently, these yoga pants come in black, dark coffee (dark brown), dark violet, dark blue, gray, light blue, pale red violet, carnation purple (lilac), maroon, and tranquil green. 
    • Note: The ones I own are the "light blue" shade. In real life, the color is a bit less aqua than it appears in the Amazon product page photos.  
  • Most of the colors (but not all) are offered in both regular and capri lengths. 

Very Affordable

  • These IUGA workout leggings retail for $24.95 and, at the time of publishing, were priced at $19.95 on Amazon with Prime free one-day shipping and free returns for Amazon Prime members.

Super Comfortable and Flattering Yoga Pants for Women review by Margaret Schindel


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Friday, February 19, 2021

Camera Strap Harness Reviewed

While hiking at Fort Pillow State Historic Park a few weeks ago, I realized that I really needed a camera harness that would take the weight of my camera off my neck and redistribute the weight across my back instead.

Camera Harness
I carry a Nikon D3100, which came with the standard 18-55mm zoom lens.  However, when I am hiking in the woods, I prefer my 55-300mm zoom lens, which is heavier.  The longer lens is required for capturing close-up images of birds in the trees, animals in the distance, or points of interest in the woods.  Normally the weight doesn't bother me at all.  However, on a 2 mile trail hike up and down hills, I've found that I do notice the weight.  After our hike at Fort Pillow, I found myself rubbing the ache from my neck and shoulders. Therefore, it was past the time to find a camera harness.

As soon as I got home that day, I went in search of a camera harness and found this awesome harness. Upon arrival, I put it on my camera, adjusted the straps and prepared for my next hiking adventure.

As you can see in the photo, I opted to leave my neck strap attached to my camera.  It is the strap I will use in my everyday life.  Since the harness has quick release buckles, it is very easy to leave off and quickly reattach for hiking.   


Excellent Features of the USA Gear Camera Strap Harness

 USA GEAR DSLR Camera Strap Chest Harness with Quick Release BucklesCheck PriceThe camera strap harness that I selected is available in multiple colors and patterns.  It features a small pocket on each strap.  The pockets are a suitable size for batteries or SD cards.  The pockets alone would make this harness an excellent choice.  I always carry a spare battery when hiking.  The pockets have Velcro closure which makes them easy to open quickly, even when wearing gloves, but are otherwise securely closed. 

As I mentioned in the introduction, the harness has quick release buttons so the harness can be used during specific activities like hiking, but not a permanent attachment when it is not needed.  These buttons are also helpful if you need to raise the camera above your head to get a certain shot.

This camera harness is very inexpensive too.  If you wish to buy several in order to color coordinate with apparel, you could certainly do that.   

Very easy to use!  Slips on exactly like backpack arm straps.





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Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Reading, The Gift that is Helping Many Through "Covid" Times

Through these last few months many friends have taken up reading to get them through lock-downs and the inability to be with others!

Reading books can take you away from where you are, just let the words sink into your mind.  You could be travelling to India, Switzerland, Russia, the Historical Midwest or a thousand other places.

It is all possible within the covers of a good book!  But where, oh where do you find all those GOOD BOOKS?  Let me help you with that!





Review This Reviews.com has always had a wonderful group of writers that are willing and able to  share their reading preferences with you.  Everyone loves a good novel, autobiography, the latest How To, and so much more.

Sometimes we are drawn to a book because it has spent some time on the Best Sellers Lists of several Newspapers, The New York Times for example.  Other times we are drawn to a book because other literary giants are endorsing this new Title or Author.  Or if we are Amazon people,  they also rate their books too!


There are several ways to find out what's trending in reading materials and also several places to find totally new authors and titles.  

If you are a member of GOODREADS, you can sign up for their newsletters and see what others are reading.  If you don't know about GOODREADS, then you can sign up here! You can also recommend books to friends who are also members of this reading community.  I love Goodreads, because it helps me keep on  track to reading a certain number of books a year.  It's also a great place to leave a review and even follow an author. 

Why would you want to follow an author?  Well I can think of a few reasons.  If you really like a book they have written and you are following them, you might be one of the first to know when a new title is coming out.  You can sometimes join an authors night and hear what this person has to say about their own books, giving you insights that may not have come across at first reading.  But most importantly you are part of the group of people who encourage an author to continue honing their skills in telling a story. 
 



There are two more places that I love to find my next book to read.  These are two places where you can get Advanced Readers Copies (ARC).  These books have not yet been published, but are made available to avid readers.  Their only conditions are that you leave a review for the author!   Netgalley is one and Voracious Readers is the other!

Each of these sites are geared to new authors and new titles!  You can sign up with them and they will want an indication of your preferences.  Simple to do!  Then just watch your email "inbox".  It is that simple and that easy to do.

You will need an electronic book, Kindle or iPad to download the books.  These are electronic books you will be receiving.  Once you download them, you are free to start reading and enjoying a new author!

Facebook also has a page I love to find new books on.  My Book Tribe  has about 12,000 plus members.  Quite often new authors and established ones will have book give aways that you might be interested in.   If not, it's still a great place to find new titles and new authors.

Of course right here on Review This Reviews you can find lots of great books that have "our" stamp of approval. Just clicking on the Tab at the top for Books and a whole list will drop down for you!  Read a review and then get your book, it's that simple.

Just remember, that reading can take you to places, when you have no where to go!



 
 






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Monday, February 15, 2021

Reviewing Handmade Pottery Mugs by Worthington Pottery

I have just purchased a beautiful handmade pottery piece by Jackie of Worthington Pottery. I am over the moon about my mug and very excited to introduce you to Jackie and her artwork.

Reviewing Worthington Pottery on Review This!

I have planned on buying a few handmade mugs for some time. They've been on my long list of things to have for the new house. One of my splurges. Little pieces of functional art for my new kitchen. I only had a vague idea of what I was looking for in mugs; that they must be handmade by a small shop owner and they must reflect or celebrate the natural world. Beyond that, I hadn't a clue where I would shop.

I had been watching Etsy for awhile, following the recommendations of others. There are so many artists creating so many beautiful mugs that I was more than a bit overwhelmed by all of the choices. Add to that the current supply chain problems and my home construction moving at a snail's pace (or slower) that had led to me feeling as though there is no rush to make a purchase. Also, I didn't feel that I had to have any of those mugs right now. 

Yes, there are many, many handmade pottery mugs available that are gorgeous. Created by many talented potters. But artwork is a very personal thing and none of those mugs called my name.

Then one day on Instagram, I saw pottery on the_crazy_potter_lady account and fell in love. I saw this snowflake mug, on a cold and snowy day, and knew I had to have it. 

The snowflake transfers are clean and cool, like newly fallen snow up at The Shack. The glaze at the top of the mug looks like an abstract painting of my view of the woods down the ridge from my future bedroom window.

The view from my future home with colors ever-changing

The colors of that glaze!

Cleary, I bought this mug because of the emotional response I had to it. Here are some factual bits about my mug:

  • Large size, holds the contents of a 16.9 fl oz soda bottle
  • a light, porcelain-like feel - but strong (I was concerned it would weigh a ton)
  • food, dishwasher, and microwave safe
  • beautiful glaze colors
  • sturdy, beautifully curved handle 
  • the snowflake transfer is permanently applied

My mug was mailed the day after my order/payment was complete and arrived safely in a priority mail box, marked fragile, wrapped in paper, and cushioned by packing peanuts. This card was also included:




Jackie Worthington aka The Crazy Potter Lady

Not only do I like Jackie's nature-themed pottery, I also like her presence. I look forward to her posts on Instagram.  She is genuinely warm and welcoming toward her followers and attempts to celebrate each day.  

Jackie also does short live videos while she is creating her pottery. I have always been intrigue by pottery wheels and it is extra cool to see the artist creating the mugs that are being sold. It is a cool process - one I had always wanted to learn but my hand-eye coordination is the pits. I think it is beyond cool that Jackie invites us to watch as she works.

Jackie currently sells her items via pre-sales. Contact her via InstagramFacebook, or her webiste to discuss what you would like to pre-order. I was fortunate, and the mug I purchased was waiting for me on her website thecrazypotterlady.com. She is currently working on pre-orders and does not have a restock/release date for her store.

Jackie is a veteran (as is her husband - thank you both for your service) and it is quick to see that she is concerned with issues of mental health and PTSD. She uses the hashtag #throwingforptsd to bring awareness to Veteran suicide.  

She has this message for Vets:


"Never give up on yourself. It gets rough at times but always remember to take care of yourself first". - Jackie

 

I am so happy to have found Worthington Pottery. I prefer to support artists, small businesses, and Veteran owned businesses when I am able. How wonderful that my beautiful mug came from such a business.

Related Links:

Although time gets away from me and I don't write as frequently as I would like, you can read more about my adventures on my land at Treasures, Travel, and Tales and see a brief tour of my home under construction here.




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Saturday, February 13, 2021

Review of Itasca Boots for Women

 

Itasca Women's Tahoe Suede Winter Boot
Itasca Women's Winter Boots
I moved from Coastal Georgia, which has mild winters with almost never any snow, to the Quad Cities area of Iowa. The reason for the move: to be near family. The result: the need for snow boots for the winter months.


After finding myself in snowy Iowa, I began to check out a variety of snow boots.  I shopped for everything from the over-the-shoe style (like the galoshes-type I remember wearing in my youth, growing up in New York State winters) to fleece-lined 'shoe' boots. The boot I chose is the Itasca Women's Tahoe Suede Winter Shoe Boot.






The Itasca Tahoe Suede Winter Boot for Women


My warm Itasca Winter Boots (c) Elf

The Itasca Tahoe boot has a durable suede upper over a waterproof TPR shell.  The plush boa collar is warm and attractive and has the added benefit of keeping the snow from getting inside your boots. 


The inside has a Thermolite insulation, which is nice and warm.  And the traction rubber outsole does a dandy job of giving you traction walking on snow and ice. 


The front zip opening makes taking boots on and off really easy, especially handy for stepping out of the boots on a mat inside the door without getting your socks wet. 



Sizing


The boots I purchased were sized a bit different than I am used to when buying shoes.  What I considered my normal shoe size were a little too small in boot size. And the next size up was just a tiny bit too large. I have compensated for that by wearing a pair of the warm fuzzy socks I wear around the house on really cold days over my regular socks inside the boots. Those socks fill in the extra space so that my boots now fit perfect without any slippage. 


Summing Up My New Winter Boots


Wintertime in Iowa (c) Elf

Shoveling snow in my Iowa winters has now been made a little more palatable, if not particularly pleasurable, due to boots that keep me from slipping or falling. And keep my feet warm as well. 


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Review of the Itasca Tahoe Suede Winter Boot for Women written by (c) Wednesday Elf.







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Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Open Jars Easily With Jar Heads Rubber Jar Opener Gripper Pads

I have always found opening jars with very tight lids to be a challenge, since I have fairly small hands and limited grip strength. Now that I'm over 65 and my hands are weaker, that task evolved from a challenge into a struggle, until I discovered Jar Heads rubber jar opener gripper pads. They make opening jars significantly easier for anyone, and are especially helpful for someone with small, weak, or arthritic hands. They're also thoughtful, practical gifts for seniors. 

Here is my product review of these terrific Jar Heads jar opener rubber grips, which have become kitchen essentials at our house.

Main image text: "Made in the USA Jar Heads non-slip textured rubber grip Jar Openers from 100% post-consumer recycled tires"

Finding the Best Jar Opener For People With Limited Grip Strength or Arthritis Can Be Hard

There are many types of jar opening tools and gadgets on the market. Many, if not most, claim to be good for seniors and people with weak hands or arthritis. Nearly all of them have mostly 5-star ratings and glowing reviews on Amazon. (It's really unfortunate that Amazon's customer ratings and reviews system seems to be easily "gamed," and isn't nearly as helpful in making purchasing decisions as it used to be.) So, despite having more experience than most with online product research and comparison shopping, I found that picking out a jar opener that had a high probability of living up to those claims was a bit like playing roulette. 

So, if you are looking for an extremely effective jar opener that not only would be a welcome addition to any kitchen, but could also be a blessing for someone with small or weak hands, arthritis, or limited grip strength, I hope to spare you considerable time and effort by summarizing the most popular types of jar openers available and sharing some of the products I purchased, or seriously considered, before I discovered the awesome Jar Heads rubber jar gripper pads that I have been using, and loving!

The Most Popular Types of Jar Openers and Rubber Jar Grips

Traditional Handheld Jar Openers

In my experience, most traditional jar openers and screw-top bottle openers are only moderately effective, and often quite frustrating. 

  • None of the ones without teeth that I've tried over the years, especially the strap wrench (AKA grip wrench or loop wrench) types, have worked well on very tightly sealed screw-top bottles or glass jars with metal lids.
  • I've found that, for the most part, jar openers with sharp, serrated teeth (like the older version of this OXO Good Grips Jar Opener I've owned for many years) can be more effective than the "toothless" models at breaking the vacuum seals on new, unopened glass food jars. Unfortunately, they often end up skidding around the rim of those stubborn, firmly stuck, tightly sealed metal lids, rather than biting into and gripping the metal securely as you twist the lid counterclockwise. Consequently, the teeth can score a deep, sharp-edged gash around the perimeter of the pugnacious jar lid, whether or not the jaws successfully break the seal and loosen the lid. Sometimes I have had to wrap the sides of those lids with flexible, nonwoven, self-adhesive bandage strips to protect our hands from the sharp, jagged-edged score lines around the rim when we subsequently open or close the jar.
  • All these types of handheld jar openers require not only grip strength in both hands (the one that holds the jar and the one that turns the lid), but also sufficient leverage to twist the jar and lid in opposite directions. 

Mounted, Under-Cabinet Jar Openers

Two of the issues with traditional handheld jar lid and screw-top bottle openers are weak grip strength and lack of leverage. A jar opener that is mounted securely to the underside of a cabinet above the kitchen counter(s) and has a V-shaped area with large, serrated metal teeth on one side of the "V," such as the popular and highly rated EZ Off Jar Opener, can help with both these issues, and also accommodate a wide range of bottle cap and jar lid diameters. It enables you to grip the jar more securely with both hands as you turn it counterclockwise, and holds the lid firmly in place as you twist the container.

When trying to open very tightly sealed jars, however, the large, serrated teeth could bite into the sides of the metal lids deeply enough to cut grooves or gouges with sharp, jagged metal edges.

Automatic Electric Jar Openers

Many women (especially those who have limited grip strength), seniors, and people who suffer from arthritis are fans of automatic electric jar openers, and find that these (theoretically) hands-free electric openers give them a greater sense of independence in their daily lives. They can be quite effective at opening straight-sided glass jars (ideally without rounded "shoulders" at the top) that have tightly sealed, hard-to-open, metal screw-top lids.

However, these kitchen gadgets are more expensive than most manual bottle or jar openers, and have some limitations that manual openers don't. 

  • These automated openers should not be used with plastic jars or on plastic lids. 
  • While it is possible to use this type of automatic opener with tapered glass jars, doing so requires placing a hand on top of the gadget and maintaining firm downward pressure to prevent the plastic arms from slipping. Obviously, that isn't optimal, particularly for someone with arthritic or weak hands.
  • If one of these electric jar openers malfunctions, or just slips off a glass jar with "sloping shoulders" (potentially knocking it over, and perhaps causing it to break), they don't turn themselves off automatically, which I consider a safety risk. 
  • This type of opener operates fairly slowly, and it is important to wait until the entire automated cycle is complete before removing both the gadget and the newly-loosened bottle or jar lid. For someone who either lacks patience or needs to prepare a meal in a hurry may find this wait frustrating, or even be tempted to try to stop or remove their automatic electric jar opener prematurely. If they remove it during the cycle, the opener will continue to operate until the cycle completes, and stopping it mid-cycle would require removing the batteries while it was still running, which would be dangerous. 
  • They are wider and bulkier than most other types of jar openers, and may not fit in a crowded kitchen tools drawer.  
  • Most run on two AA batteries, which will need to be replaced for as long as the product remains in use. 
Despite those limitations, these electric jar openers are a wonderful option for anyone who is physically unable to grip both a jar and its lid securely and twist it open with the aid of a handheld or under-cabinet jar opener or rubber gripper pads. As long as they can press the enormous button on the top of this tool to initiate the cycle, the process of opening a jar is fully automated and hands-free, except for jars that are tapered or have rounded "shoulders." (As I mentioned, opening those types of jars requires placing a hand on top of the device and holding it firmly in place throughout the entire automated cycle, to prevent it from slipping off the lid, which makes that a hands-on vs. a hands-free operation.)

Rubber Jar Openers AKA Rubber Jar Grips, Jar Opener Rubber Grips

I would never had considered buying a rubber jar opener, or even looked at the terrific Jar Heads rubber jar opener gripper pads, if my husband and I hadn't received one as a promotional gift from our favorite local barbecue restaurant many years ago, when we lived in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood. It was a large, pig-shaped cutout made from a thin, pink, textured rubber sheet, emblazoned on one side with the restaurant's whimsical logo and its address, phone number, and website in bold, black permanent ink. At the time, we thought it was a cute idea, but nearly threw it out. How could this flimsy piece of rubber sheet work better than a traditional jar opener with sharp, serrated, stainless steel jaws? 

Fortunately, we never got around to tossing it. One day, on a whim, I decided to give it a try. I was astonished at how much faster and easier I could open a brand new jam jar with an extremely tight lid by using this silly, pig-shaped, subtly textured rubber "rag" than with any of the traditional handheld jar openers I had owned over the years. When my husband came home from an errand, I was excited to show him how much more securely I was able to maintain a grip on a stubborn lid and twist it open successfully with Porky's help, compared to my usual struggles with hard-to-open jars. Seeing how well it worked for me piqued his curiosity, and he wanted to experience the difference  between using this thin, rubber jar opener pad and using our traditional model, with stainless steel jaws with large, sharp teeth on one of the sides. Even though my husband is very strong, has a powerful grip, and doesn't need the help of a jar opener most of the time, he also was impressed by Porky's performance. He also liked the idea of using this simple rubber jar gripper pad to help him subdue the occasional extra-defiant lid and break the vacuum seal without having to rely solely on brute force. 

It's ironic that this mildly amusing, but seemingly worthless piece of thin, floppy, lightly textured rubber sheet, which we had nearly thrown in the trash bin, turned out to be by far the most useful, memorable, and appreciated promotional item either of us has ever received from any business. In addition, my husband and I soon figured out that if we could get two of these rubber jar openers, using one in each hand would strengthen my grip on the jars as well as the lids and increase my leverage, so that I wouldn't need as much strength or have to use as much force to open even stubborn jars with tightly sealed lids. 

At the time, our crazy work schedules and pressing family health issues left us with neither the time or energy to pursue the possibility of acquiring a second Porky. Then, after several years of loyal service, poor Porky met his demise in the line of duty, when the thin rubber sheet tore as grappled with one recalcitrant jar lid too many. Since we were no longer living in the city, I decided to call the barbecue restaurant and ask whether they still had any of their old promotional jar opener rubber grips and, if so, whether they would let me purchase half a dozen (two for immediate use and four more as spares). That's how I learned, to my dismay, that the restaurant had closed the previous year.

It was it was time to begin the search for a worthy successor to our beloved porcine rubber jar opener. 

I looked high and low for something similar, but there wasn't much to choose from at the time. I purchased a pair of white, flower-shaped, jar opener rubber grip pads, currently sold as NORPRO 597 Non-Slip Rubber Jar Openers, so I could use one in each hand to help me hold the glass jar securely while I twisted the lid open. I also liked the wider, 5.5-inch diameter of this style, and the rubber was thicker and, presumably, more durable. Unfortunately, that thickness made the rubber much stiffer and less pliable, so it couldn't conform to the lid, and the surface was smooth and almost slick, all of which made it harder to get a good grip with these, despite the "non-slip" marketing claim, 

A few years later, I found two more possible contenders. One was a set of natural rubber jar openers with an open waffle pattern similar to foam shelf liner, which also had a wider, 6-inch diameter. And, since they came in a set of four, I would have one to hold the jar, one to grip the lid, and two extras for backup. However, I worried whether the soft foam material and open weave might make them less grippy or less durable than I needed (or both), and in reading through the customer reviews, I found several that mentioned those issues. 

The other contender, the Prepworks by Progressive Jar Grips Multi-Purpose Lid Openers, looked very promising. This set of three rubber jar openers includes one teal blue, square grip pad approximately 5" wide, made from thin, flexible, lightly textured rubber sheet that looks to be very similar in weight, thickness, and flexibility to that the jar opener we had; a somewhat smaller green round sheet made of a slightly thinner material, and a red, 2" wide, rubber grip shaped like a truncated cone for gripping bottle lids, and made thicker and, presumably, somewhat sturdier material. Unfortunately, as I read through the numerous reviews, many of the customers who gave this set 5-star ratings did so primarily because of the bottle opener. People seems much less enthusiastic about the two rubber jar openers, which some considered too flimsy and likely to tear.

Jar Heads Rubber Jar Opener Gripper Pads for the Win!

When I felt that my search for Porky's replacement had reached the point of diminishing return, I decided to stop looking for additional candidates and go with options I might have missed, order a set of Jar Heads rubber jar openers, and cross my fingers that they would actually live up to their claims. 

Lady Luck must have been smiling on me, since the first time I used my new Jar Heads rubber jar opener grippers, I knew at once that I had hit the product roulette jackpot with these well made, easy to use kitchen gadgets!

Here are the main attributes, features, and benefits that led me to choose Jar Heads Rubber Jar Opener Grippers over the other rubber jar openers on my "short list" of contenders. 

Thin and Flexible Enough to Conform to Jars, Bottles, and Lids, Yet Tough Enough to Hold Up Under Pressure, and Over Time

  • Even though these jar opener pads are only about 1/16" thick, they're also sturdy and substantial.
  • Made from recycled rubber tires, which are designed to withstand much more abuse than twisting open bottle and jar lids! 
  • After 10 months of frequent use, and being squeezed into a drawer crammed with kitchen tools and kitchen gadgets in between uses, all five of our Jar Heads still look, feel and perform the same as they did when I first opened the package. 

Made From 100% Post-Consumer Recycled Tires

  • Uses sustainable, eco-friendly, recycled material and manufacturing practices.

Superior Grip Strength Lives up to "Non-Slip" and "Works Great for Weak Hands,...Seniors With Arthritis and Children" Claims 

  • While nearly every rubber jar opener product’s marketing makes these claims, few live up to them.
  • By contrast, Jar Heads take advantage of the powerful grip strength that has been engineered into the rubber tires from which these jar opener gripper pads are made, which also gives them exceptional durability

Wide Enough to Grip Large Jars, Flexible Enough to Grip Small Bottles

  • The 5" diameter make these rubber discs are wide enough to grab onto even oversized pickle jars or  party-sizes pretzels sold in bulk at warehouse stores like Costco or Sam's Club.
  • They are also thin and flexible enough to grip a small, slender hot sauce bottle and its extremely small screw-on lid. 

Made in the USA

  • Buying products made in the USA supports American companies, workers, and their families.  

Sold in Sets of Five

  • That's enough to share, or use in pairs, and still have spares!

Strong, High-Quality Jar Openers for $2.50 Apiece

  • At the time this post was published, a 5-pack of Jar Heads was selling on Amazon for $12.50, with free shipping for Amazon Prime members. That works out to just $2.50 each for these excellent jar opener rubber grips! 
  • At that low price, you could give these out as stocking stuffers to everyone on your holiday gift list, or as small "just because I'm thinking of you" gifts any time of year.

30-Day, 100% Money-Back Satisfaction Guarantee

  • I respect and prefer to buy from companies that have enough confidence in the quality and performance of what they make or sell, and have a strong enough commitment to their customers to stand behind their products with a risk-free, 100% money-back satisfaction guarantee. 

    Jar Heads are sold by First Class Products of NY, which describes itself as a "Small Family Run Business founded in New York" on its Amazon Seller Profile Page, where you can contact them directly with a question or concern, and also read the overwhelmingly positive seller feedback from their Amazon customers. 

A screenshot of the seller's Amazon Seller Profile page 

Jar Heads Make Great Gifts for Seniors

Or Anyone With Small or Weak Hands or Limited Grip Strength

  • Gives them more confidence to open jars and bottles by reducing the legitimate fear of losing their grip on glass containers and knocking over or dropping them, potentially causing them to break into dangerous, sharp glass pieces and shards.
  • Reduces the frustration and embarrassment of needing to rely on someone else to take care of this routine task for them, and waiting for someone to be available to help.

A Helpful, Inexpensive Aid That Makes Anyone, Regardless of Their Grip Strength

  • Even people who have strong enough hands to loosen tight lids or break the vacuum seals on new, unopened bottles and jars will appreciate how much less effort it takes to open them with the help of these Jar Heads rubber grip pads.


Jar Heads Rubber Jar Opener Gripper Pads product review by Margaret Schindel


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Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Ninja Foodi Grill Review

 

Ninja Foodi Grill Review

Our daughter got this Ninja Foodi Grill as a Christmas gift and I just have to tell you how amazing this kitchen gadget really is.

Fran and I are both retired but we both work part-time jobs. On the days that we work, we don't always prepare a meal for when we get home. 

With the Ninja Foodi Grill, we have a nice hot meal in 30 minutes or less. You can grill, air fry, bake, roast, and dehydrate with the Foodi Grill. Take foods from frozen to grilled juicy perfection in 30 minutes or less.

Ninja Foodi Grill Features and Settings:

Grill Control, Low, Medium, High, and Max

Time Setting button in minutes

Air Crisp Setting

Dehydrate Setting

Roast and Bake Settings

Ninja Foodi Grill accessories

Above is a photo of everything in the Ninja Foodi Grill box:

Recipe Book
Quick Start Guide
Owner's Guide
Foodi Grill
Splatter Shield
Removeable Cooking Pot
Grill Grate
Crisper Basket
Cleaning Brush

The recipe book has 15 great recipes for you to try. There are also charts for grilling, air frying, and frozen food. The charts give you the amount of food, preparation tips, Cooking temperatures, and recommended cooking times. 

Sausage and Grilled Peppers

We made these Sausage and Pepper Grinders, the recipe is on page 26 of the included recipe book. 

Grilled peppers and onions

First, Fran cut 2 bell peppers and one onion and tossed them in a plastic bag with 2 tablespoons of canola oil. 

Then, insert the grill grate and close the hood. Select Grill, set the temperature to low, and set the time to 28 minutes. Then, select start/stop to begin preheating. The unit will beep to indicate that's time to add the food, I love this feature it really takes the guesswork out of preheating. 

Add the peppers and onions on top of the grill grate and close the hood. The timer will begin to count down. Grill the peppers and onions for 12 minutes, when the timer counts down to 16 minutes lift the hood, place them in a bowl and cover with tin foil for later.

Grilled Sausage

Add the sausage and close the hood, the timer will begin to count down again. We cooked the sausage for 7 minutes per side for a total of 14 minutes. The recipe cooks the sausage for 6 minutes per side but I added 2 minutes at the beginning of the process knowing that I wanted my sausage cooked a little more.

Lift the hood and remove the sausage. There will be 2 minutes left on the timer, add your sausage rolls on the grill top and close the hood for the last 2 minutes. Now you'll have nice toasty rolls for your sandwich. These sausage grinders were delicious, I went a little overboard and ate 2 of them myself.

I like the fact you can cook your whole meal by setting one time. We've also made shrimp and fish fillets in the air crisper from frozen to perfection.

Last week I made a couple of ribeye steaks. I brushed them with canola oil, seasoned them, and grilled them for 6 minutes per side, they were a perfect medium-rare. Let's say someone in the family likes their steak cooked medium, all you have to do is leave one steak on the grill and add another minute or two.

So far this has been a great addition to our kitchen gadgets. We've been having a lot of fun experimenting with different foods and time settings.

By the way, the splatter screen, removable cooking pot, grill grate, and crisper basket are really easy to clean.

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Monday, February 8, 2021

USPS Informed Delivery Reviewed

 Ever wonder what the mail will bring? Are you trying to track a lost package or envelope? Try the Informed Delivery Service offered for free by the United States Postal Service. Incoming mail and packages are scanned by the USPS and the images are delivered to you everyday via email.



Email Delivery

Every morning around 8:00 a.m. I receive an email with the scanned images of incoming mail. Incoming envelopes and some direct mail flyers are scanned, larger junk mail is not included.

I have found the service to be very accurate as to what is actually delivered and of course shout out to a wonderful mailman we are lucky to have.



Packages

The service also tracks any incoming packages. This has been very helpful when trying to track a package ordered online, but the package is mailed via two delivery services. I have found this to be happening more and more frequently where one major delivery service hands off the package to the local USPS for delivery.

When you track the delivery route at times it has been difficult to determine when/if the package is being delivered and by which service.


How To Sign Up?

A few clicks of the mouse will bring you to the sign up page for Informed Delivery Service.

Click here to view the sign up instructions.

The service is free. An USPS account is not needed. If you already have an online account with the USPS you can sign in and then navigate to the instructions if desired.

Looking For A Specific Piece Of Mail?

This service is wonderful if you have an important piece of mail you are expecting or if unfortunately a piece of mail is expected, but has not arrived.

A Handy Dandy Companion

The Guard Your ID Stamp is a handy dandy companion to the USPS Informed Delivery service along with your paper shredder to protect your personal information.

Review of the Guard Your ID Stamp is available here.





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