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

Monday, November 30, 2020

Reviewing Fragrance Oils from Bramble Berry

 I have recently begun making my own soaps. While making soaps, I've started to purchase fragrance oils and I am already learning which fragrances I prefer. Which fragrance oils I can depend on. Bramble Berry is quickly becoming my favorite fragrance oil supplier.

Reviewing Bramble Berry fragrance oils 


Bramble Berry Fragrance Oils

I discovered Bramble Berry while looking for video tutorials related to soap-making.  They have a channel with many tutorials. I learned that they also offer supplies: molds, fragrances, oils, and more. Initially, I continued ordering supplies from Amazon - based on fragrance rather than brand or supplier.

One shipment from Amazon (from one of "these sellers") arrived and despite seemingly being packaged adequately (including bubble wrap) the oils had leaked making both a mess and triggered a migraine from the over-powering scent.

Other fragrances I've ordered work great in Melt & Pour soap recipes, but end up loosing strength in the cold process soaps I'm learning to make.

So far, the fragrance oils from Bramble Berry have been wrapped so that they don't break or leak during shipping. The lids are taped (or shrink wrapped?) to ensure they do not leak. These fragrances are rich-smelling and as described. The Bramble Berry scents remain through the saponification process (when the lye and oils turn to soap while some of the other scents I've used have weakened to the point of creating a nearly unscented soap.

The Bramble Berry fragrance is immediately one of my favorite oils. I have a cold process wine soap loaf curing now. The apartment smells divine. The Bramble Berry site describes this fragrance as:

"It is a sweet scent of bergamot, blackberry, raspberry, peony, honeysuckle, and violet leaf. Notes of white woods, golden amber, and musk add complexity and depth"

Even if you aren't interested in making soaps, people use fragrance oils for a variety of things: lotions, home and office oil diffusers, cleaning supplies, vaporizers, candles, and more.  

Pros:

  • wonderful, rich scents that smell as described
  • scents that remain through the saponification process; creating wonderful scented soaps
  • a variety of fragrances to choose from
  • packaged to prevent breaks or leaks
Cons:
  • compared to Amazon prime's very quick delivery, receiving an order from Bramble Berry takes longer (but delivery is within the time frame given).
  • some of the packing (padding) materials are large in size and while they are printed with recycle symbols, it seems like a lot. (Then again - I'd complain if the bottles leaked during transit wouldn't I?)
If you are interested in learning more about Bramble Berry, visit their website.

Related Link: Bulk Apothecary (Nature's Oils) on Amazon

When I MUST have a fragrance a few days sooner than Bramble Berry can pack and deliver, I do order with confidence from Amazon. But only when I order from the Bulk Apothecary Amazon store. They offer a "Nature's Oils" line of fragrance oils. 

My favorite scents from Nature's Oils are the Cinnamon, Orange, Clove and the Roasted Oatmeal Stout.





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Saturday, November 28, 2020

Dog Christmas Cards

As a dog lover I love seeing dog-inspired Christmas cards and as a Zazzle affiliate I know I'm not alone as I sell quite a few dog-inspired Christmas cards every year.


Card designs by Christmas Holidays on Zazzle



My most popular dog Christmas card features a pug, but this year I've sold quite a few dalmatian Christmas cards designed by fellow Zazzlers.

If you're wondering what this Zazzle is that I speak of then let me tell you about it.   Zazzle is a website where designers from around the world can upload their designs to various different products such as cards, t-shirts, mugs even yoga mats!

Buying something from Zazzle means you are helping a designer to provide for their family.   Some people 'Zazzle' alongside a 'day job', others do it alongside being a stay at home parent, yet more people do it as they have a disability that means they are unable to work outside of the home.   A few are able to survive solely on their Zazzle income.

I have brought a few products through Zazzle and I have always loved their quality.   You can see a selection of dog-inspired Christmas cards on this site - Dog Christmas Cards - from a selection of different designers.

Check out how I created my popular Pug Christmas card on this post - designing a pug Christmas card.

Here's a collection of my own dog-inspired Christmas cards that you can find on Zazzle:





Something else that I love about Zazzle is that you can personalize the cards - many people will upload their own dog photos to send out with their cards or even write a verse for the cards. Have you ever used Zazzle for any products?    I would love to hear about your experience.





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Friday, November 27, 2020

Deluxe Spicy Shelf for Spice Organization in Kitchen Cabinets or Pantries Reviewed

Spice Organization
Two years ago, I added gripper clips to my cabinet pantry door for easy access to the spices I use most often. They are truly fabulous and convenient. However, I still had dozens of spices, seasonings, baking extracts, powders, etc. tucked away and often lost in the depths of my pantry.  

I've had a carousel tray on the top shelf of my pantry to at least keep the spices all together, but the small containers somehow managed to flip off the carousel and get lost.  Or worse, they would keep the carousel from turning and cause an avalanche of spice containers.  Of course, that always happened when I was cooking and trying to find something quickly.

My son often heard me complain about my pantry cabinet and spice organization.  This past Mother's Day, he surprised me with the Deluxe Spicy Shelf.  I was thrilled!  I had never seen one before, but the picture on the box looked totally awesome and perfect for my needs.  Then, I opened the box!  Yikes!!!  The number of pieces to assemble my new deluxe spicy shelf intimidated me immediately.  I set the gift aside to construct "later".  Even I didn't realize "later" meant 5 months later.


Assembling My Deluxe Spicy Shelf

Deluxe Spice Shelf
Knowing the holidays were fast approaching and I would soon be seeking out those least often used spices, I set aside an afternoon to assemble my much needed organizer shelf.  With no small amount of dread, I opened the box once again.

Imagine my utter shock that it took me less than 30 minutes to assemble the shelves, remove the content from my pantry, and set it all back in completely organized, easy to see and so much easier to find a specific item.  I was so giddy that is was all accomplished in so little time that I considered putting it all in alphabetical order.  I stayed my hand there though because I wanted the things I would need for Thanksgiving toward the front.  Extra, unopened spices went to the back, but I can easily see them!  

As you can see in the photo below, I even found a great use for my carousel.  It has been serving me for so long, I didn't have the heart to toss it.

Spice Shelf

Because my cabinet pantry is so deep, I set one shelf in front of the other, instead of stacking them.  As you can see, that is perfect for me.  My short spices now tower over the taller bottles.

Because I have a few economy size spice bottles, I set them just in front of my carousel.  They are very easy to lift out and grab what I need from behind them.  No more tearing the cabinet apart to find one small bottle.

Spicy Shelf Organizer




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Monday, November 23, 2020

Review: Liven Up Your Zoom Background With A Green Chromakey Backdrop

Have you ever wondered how it seems everyone in a virtual meeting has THE perfect office as seen from the background of the camera. The perfect bookshelves, the perfectly clean office, the perfectly arranged room which shines from behind on the computer screen.

It is an illusion. An illusion provided by a green chromakey backdrop ala the green screen we are used to seeing in the creation of movies with special effects. The green screen is now available for online meetings and the ZOOM platform does make it very easy to switch in and out your favorite background.


As working at home is the new normal for many or for seasoned virtual workers, the Chromakey Green Backdrop is a great gift or stocking stuffer! This is the gift any virtual employee will appreciate and may not want to buy, but will love receiving.

A gift certificate to iron (see below!) and install the backdrop would be an added bonus!

How To Hang The Backdrop

What is key for this backdrop is your iron! Yes, I am not a fan of ironing. But as noted by many of the over 2,000 reviews the backdrop must be free of wrinkles to work properly. Have you ever been in a ZOOM meeting where one person seems to fade in and out of their background? A wrinkle is probably to blame. 

The illusion is slightly ruined when a face starts dropping in and out of the gorgeous window we thought?! was in the office. After the ironing is complete the installation of the Green Backdrop is very easy.

Installation Tips

Avoid breezes, fans, air ducts and heat return ducts! Air flow will create the same effect as a wrinkle. Viewers will suddenly find yourself in your actual room instead of the virtual background of your choice when the air conditioning or heat turns on.

My green backdrop is now hung with an inexpensive curtain rod at the top of the wall. If you'd like to try out the backdrop first before investing in a hardware or putting holes in the wall then the backdrop can be adhered to a blank wall with painters tape. Again, the backdrop still needs to be ironed.

The permanent but portable solution is to purchase a backdrop frame on wheels. This looks similar to a rolling luggage rack and allows the backdrop to be easily moved from room to room or from desktop to

a laptop in a different room. The backdrop does come with hanging clips for the installment option which works best for your virtual office.

Where To Find Fun And Free Zoom Backgrounds

Once your backdrop is ironed and ready to go then the fun can begin with shopping for backgrounds. A multitude of free resources exist to download backgrounds. Travel from the artic to the tropics to the office you wish you had! with the click of a download.

A few favorites to shop for ZOOM backgrounds:

Unsplash Sleek and modern

Pexels  Huge variety from all parts of the world!

Good Housekeeping  (Hallmark fan alert, there are Hallmark backgrounds!)

and ZOOM 

Shop around the web and find the background to make your virtual meeting just a little more interesting!






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Friday, November 20, 2020

White Turkey Serving Platter for the Holidays Reviewed

turkey platter
One of the first gifts my husband's grandmother gave me, was a large white turkey platter.  At the time, I had no idea what a treasure this one serving tray would become to our family.  It is now a part of our holiday tradition.  

Thirty-five years ago, my mother hosted Thanksgiving in her home and we all gathered at my grandmother's home for Christmas.  Both women cooked a lot for the holidays, but my mother always cooked the turkey for both celebrations.  Clearly, I didn't have a need for the large turkey platter when I first received it, but I still loved having it.

Over the years, responsibilities have shifted as needed.  Mom & I prepare the holiday food together, but we moved the cooking to my home for convenience when my children were younger.  The hosting house of the day of the actual meal varies and is determined by the number in attendance or convenience.  I don't remember exactly when it happened, but baking the turkey became my primary responsibility when cooking for the holidays, and that large turkey platter became a necessity.  

Since my Christmas china platters are not large enough for a turkey, I use the large white turkey platter at Christmas too.  Because it is white, it is the perfect compliment for my Christmas china.


 HIC Turkey Oversized Serving PlatterCheck Price

White Turkey Platter


There are several beautifully colored turkey platters, but I prefer my white turkey platter.  It coordinates with almost any china and looks pretty in any room regardless of the table settings or wall colors.

The embossed (raised) fruit pattern around the edge adds a touch of elegance to Mr. Turkey and is perfect for the holiday season. 

The porcelain platter on the right, which is similar to my platter, is microwave, oven, freezer and dishwasher safe, which makes using it a lot more pleasurable.  

It is 17½" wide, large enough for a a whole turkey if desired. We usually slice our turkey before serving.


 







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Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Flippy Tablet, Kindle, Phone, and Book Stand Lap Pillow Review

Today, I'm sharing my product review of the innovative Flippy lap pillow stand, which is one of my favorite recent purchases, With just a flip of the wrist, you can change from the viewing angle of this versatile, multi-function media holder that can alternate duties as a tablet stand, Kindle or other e-reader stand, mobile phone stand, and book stand.

Photo collage of Flippy lap pillow stand overlaid with text box, "Flippy Tablet Stand Lap Pillow with 3 viewing angles"
My spiffy Flippy tablet stand pillow can hold my Fire HD 10 tablet, Kindle Paperwhite e-reader, iPhone, or printed books at three different viewing angles, in portrait or landscape orientation.

During this year's special two-day Amazon Prime Day event, my husband and scored some terrific products at significant discounts. Our two splurges were a 2020 model Toshiba 32-inch Smart HD Fire TV edition to replace the ancient, bulky, and very heavy cathode-ray-tube (CRT) set in our bedroom, and a new 10-inch Amazon Fire HD tablet to replace my entry-level 2013 Apple iPad Mini tablet (whose iOS operating system, browsers, and apps can't be updated with currently supported software versions). Even my husband, who got himself an 8-inch Fire HD tablet during last year's Prime Day event, was extremely impressed with how much better the picture quality was and how much larger the display area was compared to his Fire HD 8 tablet. 

Tip: Prime Day deals are just one of many valuable perks for Amazon Prime members only. If you haven't yet joined the program, you can sign up for the generous free 30-day Amazon Prime trial membership offer to experience the many exclusive, members-only contents, deals, and other benefits, so you can determine if they're worth more to you than the annual membership fee.

Meet Flippy, the Multi-Viewing-Angle Pillow Stand for Tablets, eReaders, Smartphone, Books and Magazines

As soon as I ordered my new 9th generation Fire HD 10 tablet, I started searching for an attractive and well-made tablet cover that was designed specifically for that model, and that had an auto sleep/wake feature and a built-in stand that offered multiple viewing angles and worked in both portrait and landscape orientations. I purchased one of the few that met all those criteria, the Grifobes Fire HD 10 tablet cover, even after reading reviews about the limited range of viewing angles. The only real downside was the lack of a 45- to 50-degree viewing angle option One of the reviewers recommended getting a pillow stand, which I had never heard of, as a workaround. That led me to do an Amazon search for pillow tablet stands. That's how I discovered the Flippy Multi-Angle Soft Pillow Lap Stand for Tablets, eReaders, Smartphones, Books, Magazines

The Flippy was unlike anything I had seen before. It appeared to be an elongated, triangular pillow whose sides met at three different angles, with each apex curving down over the adjacent side, like a cresting wave. Even after reading the product title twice and looking at the photo in the search results, I still had no idea how a "multi angle soft pillow lap stand" was used or how to change the viewing angle. 

Photo of a red triangular Flippy brand pillow lap stand for tablets e-readers, phones, books, and magazines
To change the viewing angle of your Flippy pillow stand,
just flip it so one of the other two long sides is facing you.

Still, I was intrigued by the unusual shape, soft materials and cushioned construction that made the Flippy so different from any of the other tablet or smartphone stand models I had seen. The impressive average 4.7-star customer rating from nearly 6,000 Amazon reviewers made me even more curious about the advantages of this lap pillow style, multi-angle tablet, Kindle, and smartphone stand over more traditional mobile device stands or tablet covers with built-in stands and multiple viewing angles. I also noticed that other companies were selling knock-offs of the original Flippy multi-angle tablet stand lap pillow, further strengthened my sense that there was something special about it that made it worthy of a closer look. 

Three Sides of Different Heights Provide Three Distinctly Different Viewing Angles

By flipping this triangular pillow lap stand on its horizontal axis to change which side of the Flippy is facing toward you allows you to move through the following three options, in order, and choose the one that best suits your position and viewing angle preference:

  • 8.5” tall, 49° viewing angle
  • 6.6” tall, 61° viewing angle 
  • 7.9” tall, 70° viewing angle

Comparison of Viewing Angle Choices

Side-by-side comparison diagram of Flippy tablet pillow stand's 70°, 61°, and 49° viewing angles
Each side of the Flippy lap pillow table stand provides a different choice of viewing angle


If you want your tablet, your ebook reader, or mobile phone screen to be at the 49° viewing angle, which I prefer when I have the stand sitting in my lap (or resting on my outstretched legs while I'm sitting up in bed), browsing my Amazon Prime Video watchlist in portrait orientation or watching a movie, TV show or YouTube video in landscape view. 

Photo of Flippy tablet pillow stand on a leather recliner, holding a Fire HD 10 in portrait orientation
Checking out my Amazon Prime Video watchlist in portrait orientation on my new 
Kindle Fire HD 10. You can tell that the tablet is set to 
a 49° viewing angle
because the embroidered Flippy logo is level and reads from left to right.

Photo of Flippy pillow stand on woman's lap, holding a Fire HD 10 tablet in landscape orientation
Watching a YouTube video on my Fire HD 10 tablet hands-free. The viewing angle
hasn't changed (the logo isn't visible in this reverse-angle shot, but this time 
the Flippy is sitting comfortably in my lap (or, in this case, closer to my knees).

When I'm making a recipe from a digital cookbook, I prefer to view it at the more vertical, 70° angle, so the Flippy sits on my kitchen counter with the embroidered logo on the right and perpendicular to the work surface.

Photo of Flippy pillow stand on a kitchen counter, holding a 10-inch tablet displaying a recipe in a vertical orientation
When the logo is at right angles to the surface it's resting on,
the tablet, Kindle, or phone screen will be at the 71° viewing angle.

When you want to view your screen at 60° angle, just turn your pillow stand so that the embroidered Flippy logo is upside-down and on the diagonal, with the "F" toward the bottom.

Photo of Samsung Galaxy smartphone at a 60-degree viewing angle on a Flippy pillow stand
When he's sitting up in bed and playing a game or checking email
on his Samsung Galaxy phone, 
my husband prefers the 60° viewing angle. 

The Flippy Multi-Angle Soft Pillow Lap Stand Would Make a Great Gift for Anyone (Including Yourself!)

  • It works with a wide range of mobile devices from nearly every technology brand. 
  • It can help reduce (or, with luck, prevent) painful "text neck," an increasingly common health challenge as people spend more and more time looking down at their screens. Unlike the vast majority of other phone, Kindle, or tablet stands, the Flippy pillow was specifically designs to balance it easily and comfortably on a person's lap or thighs, when they're sitting up, reclining, or stretched out on a coach or in bed. 
  • It can support their smartphone, Kindle or tablet while keeping the screen at their choice of three viewing angles (49°, 60°, or 71°), and switch between viewing angles in less than a second, just by flipping triangular pillow stand to one of the two sides. 
  • This durable foam pillow lap stand is covered in a yummy, soft, faux suede fabric that won't scratch your favorite geek's beloved tech toys valuable mobile devices.
  • Even low-tech family member, friends, and colleagues might enjoy using this lap pillow stand when they're reading a paperback book, magazine, or letter, reviewing (and, perhaps, grading) homework assignments, or perusing a mail-order catalog (especially during the holiday shopping season). 
  • At the time this review was published, the Original Flippy pillow stand was being offered on Amazon.com in 18 color and pattern choices to appeal to a wide variety of styles. So, finding at least one of them that will suit someone's individual preferences and taste shouldn't be a problem. 
  • This well designed, attractive, high quality multi-angle mobile device stand is a gift that will quickly earn a valued place in recipients will likely use and appreciate every day, throughout the day, This is the type of product that the people you give it to might not even have known about, or is something that interests them but they wouldn't have bought for themselves, but one they receive it as a gift turns out to be one of their constant companions.
  • The Original Flippy Multi-Angle Soft Pillow Lap Stand for iPads, Tablets, eReaders, Smartphones, Books and Magazines one of the best affordable gifts under $30. As of this writing, you can buy it on Amazon.com for $29.98, with free shipping!.
  • There are also a model with a slightly higher price tag that has a hidden storage compartment, as well as a smaller model designed for kids called the Flippy Jr.

Comparing the Three Flippy Pillow Stand Styles 

The Flippy Multi-Angle Soft Pillow Lap Stand for Tablets, eReaders, Smartphones, Books, Magazines is the model I purchased for myself last month, primarily to use with my new Kindle Fire HD 10 tablet. This original Flippy pillow stand design, which has been the primary focus of this review, is also the foundation of the brand's entire product line, which now includes two other variations. 

the focus of this product review. It's also the original Flippy design, and the one on which the two other variations are based. I decided to order mine in a bright, true red shade called Super Red. 

A word to the wise: There can sometimes be a disconnect between the color name and the actual color. The color names can sometimes be misleading, so make sure to click the thumbnail for For some reason, a few of the color names seem to bear little resemblance to the colors displayed in the corresponding product photos. As an example, I recently clicked on one of thumbnail images to see the full-size photo of the product to I recently clicked the thumbnail I clicked on the thumbnail of one of the color choices to view the product phot at full size , when I clicked on a thumbnail of one of the colors I liked a lot to view the photo of that color choice product photo in that shade. the color of cover fabric shown in the to view image to view the product photo full size in a color I liked, even though the color in the photo was a cross between Emerald Green and Bright Jade Green. (As always, of course, the color of any digital image will always appear slightly different on different devices with differently calibrated displays.

The Flippy with New Storage Cubby Multi-Angle Soft Pillow Lap Stand for iPads, Tablets, eReaders, Smartphones, Books, Magazines has the same dimensions, viewing angles, and soft, plush fabric exterior as the original version. The main difference is that it offers buyers the option to spend $5 more for a Flippy lap stand with a hollow section inside the center of the foam pillow, that has been lined with mesh fabric and opens and closes with a drawstring, secured with a cord lock toggle closure. The company calls this interior storage compartment its "New Storage Cubby," and says it's a place where you can "Keep your reading glasses, tissues, ear phones, snacks and anything else you like handy."

The Flippy Jr, Multi-Angle Soft Pillow Lap Stand for Mini iPads, Tablets, eReaders, Smartphones, Books, as it name suggests, is narrower that either of the two previous models. It's also geared more toward kids, teens, and college students (which is why this version includes small stash pocket for headphones and a built-in carabiner for clipping the Flippy Jr. onto a backpack or suitcase). The other differences between the Flippy Jr. and its older siblings are much more noteworthy.
  • The smaller Flippy Jr. cannot be purchased individually; it is sold only in sets of two.
  • The choice of colors and patterns is extremely limited, compared to the range of options for the Original Flippy and Flippy with the New Storage Cubby. And as far as I know, they don't offer the option to choose your own color or pattern combos in each set of two Flippy Jr. pillow lap stands. 
  • Many adults find that the Flippy Jr. works fine for their needs, and it's a much better value.
  • You can buy a set of two Flippy Jr. mini-tablet stands for the same price as a single Original Flippy.   

Give Yourself or Someone Else You Love the Gift of Self-Care

I'll bet there are several people on your birthday and holiday gift list who would love to receive a Flippy.

If you spent more than 30 minutes a day total on your mobile devices, I also encourage you to order yourself to one of these high quality, practical, and extremely affordable Original Flippy multi-angle pillow stands, in your favorite color or pattern. This versatile, low-tech, high-touch, $30 pillow stand can help reduce the daily, repetitive strain on your eyes, wrists, and hands by holding your device at the most comfortable viewing angle, leaving your hands free to knit, crochet, or simply relax in your lap. It's a small price to pay for the gift of daily self-care!

Another option to consider is to spend that $30 on a set of two Flippy Jr., stands, so you can keep one for yourself and share the other with a family member, friend, or colleague.
 


Looking for even more great gift ideas and inspiration? Check out our extensive collection of helpful reviews at ReviewThisGifts.com.


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Flippy Tablet, Kindle, Phone, and Book Stand Lap Pillow Review by Margaret Schindel







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Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Keto Cheddar Cheese Biscuits Recipe With Chives


Today, I'm pleased to share my review of my quick and easy low carb cheddar cheese and chive biscuits recipe, whose not-so-secret ingredient is HighKey Keto Buttermilk Biscuit Mix.

I've enjoyed putting my own spin on my baked goods ever since I was a kid, whether I'm making them from scratch or using a high quality packaged mix as a shortcut. So, when HighKey Snacks, one of my favorite keto food brands, came out with a delicious keto-friendly buttermilk biscuit baking mix, I couldn’t wait to start playing around with my own ingredient add-ins. One of my favorite variations so far is this quick and easy, 5-ingredient recipe for keto cheddar cheese buttermilk biscuits with chives. They're so buttery and delicious, everyone in your family will ask for more, and they'll never guess these treats are keto-friendly. This is now one of my go-to low carb recipes, and I usually bake a dozen every two or three weeks, depending on whether my omnivorous husband is in the mood for some. 

Main image - photo collage with text "Keto & Low Carb Cheddar-Chive Buttermilk Biscuits"
Tender, flavorful, cheddar cheese keto biscuits with chives, ready in 30 minutes or less

Enjoy Big, Buttery Drop Biscuits, Even on a Keto or Low Carb Diet

I have tried—and loved—every baking mix in HighKey’s keto-friendly, low carb product line. So, I was really excited when the company announced it was coming out with a new keto buttermilk biscuit mix. I was confident that it, too, would be a winner, and I wasn’t disappointed! 

Since making a traditional flaky biscuit requires using wheat flour or other another grain, the texture of those made with HighKey’s buttermilk biscuit baking mix makes them more similar to traditional drop biscuits. Just add eggs, They’re extremely versatile and taste great, whether you eat them plain, toasted and buttered, or in sweet or savory dishes, from keto strawberry shortcake (with fresh berries and whipped cream) to sweet or savory low carb sandwiches.

Even though this biscuit mix has great buttermilk flavor, I was surprised to learn that it contains no buttermilk. In fact, it’s dairy free and soy free, and has no added sugar or artificial ingredients, so it’s a great option for people with those dietary restrictions, regardless of whether they’re following a ketogenic or low carb diet.

Photo of two baking pans of freshly baked keto cheddar-chive biscuits
Tender, low carb, keto-friendly cheddar cheese biscuits with chives, just out of the oven

My Quick and Easy Keto Cheddar Cheese and Chive Biscuits Variation

Using HighKey Buttermilk Biscuit Baking Mix

Variety is the spice of life, especially when your food choices aren’t free of limitations. Both my husband and I are huge fans of cheddar cheese bread. These days, however, the yummy, carbohydrate-laden cheese bread we used to buy from our local bakery is now off-limits (for me, at least). My husband also loves chives. So, one of the first ideas I had for varying the original HighKey buttermilk biscuit mix recipe was to add sharp cheddar cheese and chives. 

I had to experiment with the proportions bit to get the prominent cheddar flavor I was looking for. Increasing the amount of cheese also made the biscuits somewhat less crumbly, which means I can also use them as hamburger buns. And, while I love having a slice of hot, gooey, melted cheese on my burgers, using these cheddar-chive keto biscuits as a bun gives me that great cheeseburger flavor even if I don’t add any additional cheese. 

I usually prefer to use fresh chives in my dishes. For this recipe, however, I decided to go with freeze-dried chives, since I would need only a small quantity, and I no longer eat mashed potatoes (which I always make with plenty of fresh chives) now that I follow a ketogenic diet. Fortunately, freeze-dried chives work fine for these cheddar cheese biscuits.

One of My Favorite Keto Bread Options

With or without chives, these cheddar cheese biscuits are not only delicious but also versatile. Even though they are moist, rich, and yummy just as is, I also I love using them to add extra flavor to a sandwich or burger, as a filling side dish to turn a soup or salad into a satisfying, high-protein, low carb meal, or just sliced, toasted, and buttered for breakfast (or a hearty snack).  

Just be aware that you may want your burger with a knife and fork if you serve it in one of these tender biscuits.

Photo of hamburger on a biscuit, served on a plate
Last night's dinner: this juicy burger on a keto cheddar-chive biscuit,
served with a big, colorful, pretty and nutritious salad

Low Carb Keto Cheddar Cheese and Chive Buttermilk Biscuits Recipe 

These quick and easy keto biscuits are sure to become one of your favorite low carb recipes.

Photo of keto cheddar-chive biscuit on a small plate
Prep Time:

15 minutes

Cook Time:

15 minutes

Total Time:

30 minutes

Recipe Yield:

12 large biscuits

Calories:

257 kcal


Ingredients


Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 ℉. Line one or two baking sheets with parchment paper. 
  2. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the baking mix, shredded cheese, and chives.
  3. Stir in the chilled butter cubes, then cut in the butter with a pastry blender until it resembles coarse crumbs. 
  4. Stir in the eggs to form a soft, sticky dough.
  5. Scoop the dough onto the parchment-lined baking sheet(s) in 12 equal mounds, spacing them well apart to allow for spreading.
  6. Bake for 14–15 minutes, until the tops and edges of the biscuits are a light golden brown.
  7. Let them cool for a minute or two, then remove them to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Screenshot of recipe nutrition information in Carb Manager app on iPhone screen
Nutrition Facts

If you're on a keto diet and counting your macros, here's what the Carb Manager app calculated. Although it's based on the specific brand of extra-sharp aged cheddar cheese (and eggs and butter) I used, the calories and macros should be very similar, regardless of the brands of ingredients you use.

These big, delicious cheese biscuits are extremely filling. Each contains 2.6 net carbs, 257 calories, and just over 23 grams of fat, 9 grams of protein, and 6 grams of dietary fiber. 


Helpful Baking Tips for Making Keto Cheddar and Chive Buttermilk Biscuits


Make the Entire Package of HighKey Buttermilk Biscuit Mix at a Time (and Freeze What You Don't Need For Later)

The first time I prepared a bag of HighKey Buttermilk Biscuit Mix, I measured out 1-1/3 cups of the dry mix and combined it with 1/4 cup of butter and two eggs to make 6 biscuits as directed on the package. Unfortunately, when I started making my next batch, I discovered that there was only about a cup of leftover dry mix in the package! Subsequently, I have seen comments on Facebook and Amazon from people who had the same experience after following the package directions. Now, I always make a dozen buttermilk biscuits at a time, using the entire bag of mix. Fortunately, like most baked goods, these biscuits freeze beautifully, and thaw quickly at room temperature.

Use a Pastry Blender to Cut in the Butter

When I was a girl, my grandmother taught me to cut fat into dry ingredients by scissoring it into the flour mixture with two sharp knives. That experience definitely has made me appreciate the ease and efficiency of using a pastry blender instead. In addition, this handy tool, also called a pastry cutter or dough blender, creates more uniform bits of butter for more even distribution throughout the dough. It's also possible to use a fork, but that tends to mash the butter into the flour, rather than chopping it into nice little individual flour-coated bits. So, although the HighKey Buttermilk Biscuit Mix package directions give you the choice of using a pastry cutter or a fork, I strongly recommend using the former.
Spring Chef Dough Blender on Amazon

I recently replaced my dull, 40-year-old pastry blender with a Spring Chef Dough Blender, and it turned out to be a major upgrade! It has sturdier and much sharper stainless steel blades, as well as a wide, comfortable, soft-grip handle. Both these features make it a pleasure to use, especially since this high quality, heavy-duty cutter doesn't feel heavy in my hand. In addition to cutting butter or other fat into dry ingredients, I also love using it for other cooking and baking tasks that my previous pastry blender would not have been up to, such as chopping nuts and making salsa and guacamole.

Use a #14 Scoop to Portion the Dough Evenly

Dividing any dough or batter evenly into equal-size portions is always desirable, since it enables all the biscuits, cookies, etc., to finish baking at the same time with the same degree of doneness. If you are baking for yourself or others who are monitoring their food intake, whether tracking macros on a low carb or keto diet or counting calories, protein, fat, carbohydrates, fiber, cholesterol, sodium, potassium, or other nutrients for a medical, health, or weight loss reason, portioning equal servings of a recipe becomes even more important. Over time, I have assembled a collection of high quality Norpro stainless steel scoops in several different sizes, the largest of which is the 4-tablespoon (#16) Norpro scoop with a comfortable, soft-grip handle, none had the right capacity to measure out 1/12 portions of this keto buttermilk biscuit dough, with or without added cheese. Guesstimating how much to overfill  the #16 size always left me with too much or two little dough for the last few portions, and I was spending more time weighing each mound and shuffling around bits of dough to equalize the portion sizes than I did preparing it in the first place.

Eventually, I managed to find a #14 stainless steel scoop with a capacity of 4-3/4 tablespoons, which turned out to be the perfect size for portioning this keto biscuit dough into twelfths. It's a huge time-saver, makes nice, rounded mounds, and has a sturdy spring-action mechanism for the scraper blade.

Don't Skip the Baking Parchment Paper

These drop biscuits will likely stick, and stick badly, to the baking pan if you try to grease it instead of using baking parchment. I prefer using unbleached, precut sheets of parchment paper, which are less toxic than bleached baking parchment and don't curl like paper sold in rolls. If you are trying to cut down on single-use disposable products, a reusable silicone nonstick baking mat is a great alternative.

Consider Making Them With Extra-Sharp Cheddar 

The first time I made these, I used regular sharp cheddar, and only half an ounce. (I also left out the chives.) They tasted good, but weren't as cheesy or tangy as I had hoped. So, for the next batch, I not only doubled the amount of cheese, and used aged, extra-sharp cheddar. It made a huge difference! So, if you enjoy the taste of extra-sharp cheddar, I encourage you to try using it in these biscuits.

My Favorite Brands of High Quality, Low Carb and Keto Baking Mix Products

One of the keys to my successful keto diet journey, which helped me lose nearly 60 pounds and, more importantly, has enabled me to maintain that weight loss, has been finding keto-friendly versions of my favorite baked goods. Although I’ve always loved to bake (and still do), I also wanted to spend less time thinking about food, which meant spending less time cooking and baking, especially during the first six months of my new, healthy eating lifestyle after switching to a ketogenic diet. So, while I absolutely love using the recipes in Carolyn Ketchum’s The Ultimate Guide to Keto Baking (my keto baking bible) and my go-to low carb and keto blogs and websites, more often than not I’ve been using the excellent baking mixes from HighKey Snacks, Good Dee’s, and Keto and Co, which not only taste great but are also made with wholesome (and, for the most part, minimally processed) ingredients. You can learn more about these brands’ high-quality baking mixes in my review of homemade low carb keto cupcakes and muffins.


More Reviews of Low Carb and Keto Baking Mixes and Recipes


Keto Cheddar Cheese Buttermilk Biscuits Recipe With Chives by Margaret Schindel







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Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Home Made with Love, Christmas Crafts to Blow Your Mind

Christmas has already exploded on the scene and I usually don't jump on board until the First Week of Advent!  But, if you are crafting, you need to start before then!  Cricut, a product review!



Cricut is a platform that lets you make and style so many different materials that you can use to enhance the decor in your home for just about any occasion.

Because we are so close to Christmas, we will focus on this holiday for now.  Rest assured though, that Cricut is not just for Christmas.  You can craft all kinds of things for other holidays too.

So what exactly is Cricut?  

Cricut is a machine that cuts several different types of materials, from fabric, to vinyl and even some thin wood products.  You can cut letters, designs, logos and so much more with this handy machine.  

Paired with your computer, you can make your own designs and within the day have a whole series of items made with that design splashed on T-shirts, mugs, windows and more.  Your imagination is the starting point.

Personalized gifts are easy and the WOW FACTOR is what makes your gifts stand out.  

Do you need inspiration?  There are limitless possibilities with a Cricut, but if you are stumped there are literally hundreds of Videos available to twig your imagination into overdrive.



Any new technology can cause some trepidation, but once you own a machine you will find many videos on YouTube to help you get started.  There are so many videos available and also  help from Cricut itself.  There are idea books, downloads and more to help you organize and execute your first project without any difficulty!

I'm sure you have seen those beautiful signs with Quotes that just make your heart melt!  Well you can make your own using the Cricut machine.  




Cricut even has it's own blog, so that if you are stumped or need some extra encouragement, it is right there for you! 

You can join the Cricut family and open an account.  That will help you to see what is possible with your new machine. They will keep you informed on all kinds of new techniques and materials.  Everything from wall art, decals, t-shirts, mugs, greeting cards and more can be done with your new machine.  

The only thing that will be necessary is a willingness to learn and the time to execute your ideas.  Once you get started though, I'm sure you won't be able to stop!  

Just think of all the Holidays that you can make special with a touch of your creativity and the help of a Cricut.

Chirstmas, Valentine's Day, Easter, Spring, July 1st or 4th, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and so many more holidays.  And then there are the special occasions too that will have you crafting something wonderful.  An engagement, wedding, baby, new home, new job.  Birthday markers like 20, 30 and beyond, all of them are crafting times and a great way to use your new tools.  

I don't like to spend my money on a craft that I will only do once!  Cricut is a craft that you will do all year long and for a myriad of reasons!  

The beauty is, that if you can imagine it, you can also craft it and make it your own!  There are endless ways to make your home and surrounding a reflection of your own personal tastes.  Grab hold of some wonderful ideas and run with them.  I bet all your friends will be amazed at what you can do.



You might even find yourself using your spare time to create beautiful things to make and sell.  Before you know what happened, your hobby has now turned the corner and you could be enjoying self employment.  You just never know what can happen when you start to create with your Cricut and show the world what you have made.


The picture used in this post is my niece's home!  She has made signs, stockings and pillows to help her fill her home with Christmas!  And that is just a small sample of the things she has made.   What is stopping you?

Shop The Best Machine Prices of the Year 

Happy Holidays and Let's Get Creating Some Beauty!




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Saturday, November 7, 2020

Review of Progresso Panko Crispy Bread Crumbs


I was first introduced to Panko flakes over 6 years ago when I met my new daughter-in-law, whom I will introduce here as J. She is a delightful girl who is originally from South Korea. She's also a wonderful cook, naturally specializing in Asian dishes  (which my son loves). One of the first dishes she made for me was Panko coated shrimp deep fried in a Wok.  It was absolutely delicious.

I watched (and helped) J. make the Panko Shrimp that evening and, after tasting how good the Panko coating was, I have used it ever since. J. does a lot of food shopping at a local Asian Market, but I found a product similar to her Asian Panko Flakes in a product by Progresso. Not only is it good on shrimp, but it is equally delicious on fried chicken fingers and on pork chops. 

 

Progresso Panko Crispy Bread Crumbs


Panko is drawn from Japanese crusine. It is a delicious flaky bread crumb which can be used in a variety of recipes.  My favorite way is as a coating for fried meat and seafood. It adds a golden crispness to fried creations and makes the food crunchy  and flavorful.


Panko bread crumbs can be used in many ways.  

  • It makes a delicious stuffing for chicken breasts or pork chops when combined with cheese, onions and herbs.  
  • You can make quick croutons by browning in a skillet with melted butter and spices for a tasty salad topping.
  • I  haven't tried this yet, but I can just imagine how tasty it would be to replace your usual amount of regular bread crumbs with these Panko bread crumbs in your favorite meatloaf recipe. 
  • Mix these Panko bread crumbs with olive oil and your favorite seasonings and sprinkle on top of casserole in the last few minutes of baking.
  • Panko Crispy Bread Crumbs come in two varieties – 'Plain' and 'Italian Style'. I prefer the Italian Style because they are so deliciously seasoned that no additional seasonings are needed.  The Plain version is good if there are specific seasonings you prefer to add to your bread crumbs. 

Panko Coated Pork Chop Dinner

My teenage grandson's favorite meal served by his G-MA (the grandmother name he calls me) is pork chops and white rice with butter, along with applesauce. Here is a sample of our Panko-coated pork chop dinner. 


Panko Fried Shrimp Recipe 


Panko Fried Shrimp


For your dining pleasure (and a tasty way to duplicate the delicious deep-fried shrimp meal my daughter-in-law J made me), here is a recipe for Panko Fried Shrimp from AllRecipes.


Recipe: Japanese-Style Deep-Fried Shrimp


Ingredients


1 pound medium shrimp, peeled (tails left on) and deveined

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

½ teaspoon garlic powder

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon paprika

2 large eggs eggs, beaten  

1 cup panko crumbs

1 quart vegetable oil for frying


Directions:


Step 1:

Place the shrimp in a bowl and season with salt, pepper and garlic powder. In a small bowl, stir together the flour and paprika. Place eggs and panko crumbs into separate bowls.

Step 2:

Heat the oil in a deep-fryer or deep skillet to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Dip each shrimp into the flour mixture, then into the egg, and finally into the panko crumbs to coat. Fry a few at a time until golden brown. This should take no longer than 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels before serving.

Yield:  4 servings


Progresso


The Progresso brand has been around for more than 80 years. Begun by the merging of two prominent Italian importing companies in New Orleans in 1925, they specialized in canned Italian food products. They are most known for their soups, as well as canned tomato products, olive oil, spaghetti, ravioli and beans. Progresso was acquired by Pillsbury in 1988 and today it is in the General Mills family of products.


Where to Purchase:


Progresso Panko Crispy Bread Crumbs are available on Amazon, which is convenient as it is delivered right to your door. And, in addition, besides the single packages, it is also available in bulk (6 and 12 box units). 

It is also available online and in-store at Target and Walmart

Wherever you purchase your Panko Crispy Bread Crumbs, it is a very tasty product to have on hand for all the reasons I mentioned above. 


For more Recipe Reviews, check out ReviewThisReviews: Recipes




(c) Written by Wednesday Elf (11/7/2020)






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Friday, November 6, 2020

How to Lose Weight While Playing Video Games on the Kindle Fire

Video Game AppsI have been shocked by how much weight I have lost while playing video games when exercising.  Previously, I found exercising to be boring and I simply couldn't force myself to stick with it.  That was before I discovered video games on my Kindle Fire!

How It All Began for Me ........

Several years ago, one of our fellow contributors, Susan Deppner, helped me select a new Kindle Fire.  Susan had lots of experience with the various electronic readers and I trusted her to know exactly what I needed.

I loved my Kindle Paperwhite, but I wanted a Kindle with color pictures for cookbooks and children's books.  We all know images are the first impression of either of those kinds of books and are often the determining factor in which ones we purchase.  After all, I'm not likely to even try a recipe without seeing a photo that looks delicious.

I remember laughing when Susan said a Kindle Fire with 32 GB would be more than enough, unless I played a lot of video games.  I laughed because, at the time, I didn't play video games.  The only video games I had ever encountered required a specific console & controllers connected to the television.  

Fast forward 4 years and you will find me playing video games on my Kindle Fire every day.   


Video Game on Kindle Fire

How Video Games Helped Me Lose Weight

Video Game Apps on Kindle Fire
It has been said many times that video game players pack on the pounds while playing video games.  That is simply not true for me!  I play my video games on my Kindle Fire while I exercise. 

I've never liked exercising.  Frankly, in the past, I considered it boring and most often a waste of time since I couldn't force myself to stick with something so mind-numbing.  When my daughter shared how someone she knew had lost a lot of weight on an exercise bike, I thought that very impressive, but lamented that I could not exercise an hour per day.  

Time and experience has proven me wrong on that opinion too.

Fast forward 32 weeks and I am happy to say that I have worked up to exercising an hour per day, 5 days a week, on my recumbent exercise bike.  I don't find that exercise boring because I play my video games while pedaling.  I have lost 30 lbs. in 32 weeks without giving up my favorite food!

 

Favorite Video Games I Play on My Kindle Fire  

My first encounter with a video game on my Kindle Fire, was a hidden object game.  I quickly advanced to Candy Crush.  From there, I discovered lots of games I love to play!  Perhaps an hour a day is not enough.

These are some of my favorite free game apps that I have downloaded to my Kindle Fire.  If you are already an experienced gamer, I recommend starting at the bottom of the list to discover new games you might enjoy.



Simply talking to my husband or son, you would find out quickly that everyone has a different taste or preference in game choice.  That is totally okay!  There is something for everyone in the Amazon Game Apps that can be downloaded to the Kindle Fire. 

For me, I have always chosen the free game apps.  They all have options to purchase specialty items, tokens, gems or whatever the game requires to continue playing or advance faster.  That is not necessary.  Most of the time, I simply switch to a different game and play until my "lives" are restored on my current favored game.




Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. You should consult your physician before starting this or any exercise program to determine what is best for your needs.



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