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

Monday, January 18, 2021

Reviewing the Mueller Premium 1500w Electric Kettle with Speedboil

 I recently purchased the Mueller Premium Electric Kettle because I needed a way to heat water for teas and lunches in my office. There are many brands and types of electric tea kettles. I suppose they all work well but I'm really happy with my Mueller.

My Mueller Electric Kettle - Perfect for Home and Office

With the world gone topsy-turvy, my usual routines have been disrupted for the past 10 months. I have been very fortunate to keep a job during quarantine. It has just shifted from remote work only, to going to the office some days, back to remote only, and back to some days at the office and throws off any chance for routine.

I have almost always packed my own lunch or ordered lunch from our cafeteria. But during these many months, the cafeteria has been closed. I have been extremely hesitant to order fast food during this time. And I've been lazy about walking up and down all of the stairs in order to use the microwave or I don't always remember to bring a lunch.

I finally decided to buy "something" to heat water at my desk so I could have oatmeal, add-water meals/soups, and teas without leaving my office. I half-heartedly looked at electric kettles for weeks before making a purchase.

WOW... such convenience!  I wish I hadn't waited for so long!


The Mueller Premium Electric Kettle with Speedboil

I ordered this "water heater" because it was pretty, it had good reviews, and I liked the glass and lights (again, it was pretty). I also liked that it was 1500w - which is more powerful than some electric kettles I looked at.

This Kettle sits on the corded base. So there is no cord to get into the way while filling the pot or pouring the hot water.

The spout has a filter screen. For just boiled water, I think the screen doesn't matter much. However, my office is in a historical building and we sometimes have flying insects enter the building (those ladybug look-alikes!!). I'm thankful for the screen to keep pests out of my water.

This kettle is easy to use! Push the button to open the secure top. Fill it with water (I have to use a cup to fill it or bring water because our building sink faucets are too low), return the pot to the base, and click the switch on. The light comes on and very small bubbles start to rise from the bottom of the kettle almost immediately.  There is a full and rapid boil in less than 5 minutes. After the boil begins, the switch kicks off automatically so there is no risk of boiling it dry.

I LOVE watching the bubbles and the blue lights. It boils so quickly. I did take a video with my phone even though I am a fairly inept videographer. Unfortunately, my phone mic is very sensitive and the sound was obnoxiously loud.  You can hear the boiling but it is not loud enough to interrupt phone calls or Zoom meetings. And personally, I like the bubbling sound.

This little item has been more convenient than I had expected. I no longer have to walk down the stairs to find a microwave and then decide if I'm going to eat in the public breakroom or carry my hot food back up the stairs. I no longer have to wait for longer breaks between appointments in order to make hot water... I can start this little electric kettle between appointments.

The kettle is much larger than I had expected. I fill it once and use it over several days to a week (depending on how many days I'm working from the office and how many cups of tea I make).

It looks like this Mueller Kettle is available online through many stores: Home Depot, Office Depot, Staples, Walmart, Target, Macy's, and so on. I ordered mine from the Mueller store on Amazon.


My only complaint is the cord. While it is a 3-prong and heavy-duty cord, it is short. Plenty long for a kitchen countertop but not long enough to sit on top of my desk and reach the power strip on the floor. If your desk top area is far away from an outlet, as mine is, be prepared with a surge power strip that accepts 3-prong plugs. 

Related Link:

Mueller is a European company, with a California address, that appears to focus on Kitchen gadgets. This kettle is the first time I remember hearing of Mueller. While the company advertises as "Austria", my kettle was made in China. Which is not something I'm thrilled about. But this electric kettle seems to be made very well. The cord, glass, and synthetic handle material all have a very sturdy feel. The handle is large and isn't difficult for my hands (sometimes I have trouble with grip and/or lifting). This is the official Mueller website if you'd like to see what else they offer.




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


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Wednesday, January 13, 2021

OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro Loaf Pan Review

I discovered the OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro Baking Pan line while researching options for replacing my old Teflon nonstick baking pans with ones that had newer, more durable, and safer PFOA-free coatings. 

I purchased the OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro 1-Lb. Loaf Pan recently, and I am quite impressed with its value and performance so far. In fact, I'm seriously considering buying other pans from this line to replace my older Teflon nonstick bakeware.

Main image - text over textured background reads "Why the OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro Loaf Pan Deserves a Place in Your Kitchen"
This durable one-pound loaf pan features a durable molded, seamless construction, sturdy square-rolled edges to prevent warping, and a PFOA-free nonstick coating in a light champagne-gold color and micro-textured bottom surface that promote even baking.

Pre-2015 Nonstick Bakeware Is Not Safe to Use

Until six years ago, most nonstick bakeware (and cookware) used a Teflon coating made with both PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) and polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). PFOA has been linked to cancer and other health risks, and is one of a group of manmade chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). In 2006, because of concerns about the impact of PFOA and long-chain PFASs on human health and the environment, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched a PFOA Stewardship Program, asking the eight leading companies in the PFAS industry to commit to voluntarily eliminating PFOA and related chemicals and emissions by 2015. 

PTFE continues to be used in Teflon and other nonstick coatings, and while some people have concerns about its safety, most experts consider nonstick bakeware and cookware with coatings containing PTFE to be safe, as long as they are:

  • treated and cleaned with care to avoid scratches or abrasion
  • not overheated or preheated empty
  • replaced after a few years, when the coating begins to show signs of fine scratches or abrasion
  • discarded as soon as the coating is scratched or chipped 

Time to Replace Old Nonstick Baking Pans!

Last year, I replaced all my old nonstick pots and frying pans with Copper Chef Black Diamond Nonstick Cookware. During my research, I discovered that some of the newer nonstick coatings not only are safer, but also perform better than older types. Now, I'm starting the process of replacing my large collection of older nonstick baking pans, too. (Copper Chef Black Diamond Nonstick Cookware has a diamond-infused ceramic nonstick coating that is both PFOA-free and PTFE-free, and that I know from experience delivers excellent performance. If only they made baking pans, too!)

I became an avid home baker at the tender age of nine. During my mid-twenties and early thirties, when I was married to an attorney at a prominent New York City law firm, we did a lot of formal entertaining, and our dinner parties always ended with a choice of elaborate cakes or pastries for dessert. Now, more than 30 years later, I am happily married to a man in a different profession, and we live in the Boston suburbs, and if I never host another five-course dinner party extravaganza, that will be just fine with me! Since I live a very different lifestyle now than I did back then, I've decided to replace only the pans I use on a regular basis, rather than the entire, extensive collection of both basic and specialty bakeware I am getting rid of.

Since trying out nonstick pans from a few different companies was a successful strategy that helped me determine which brand and type of coating performed best in my kitchen, I'm planning to follow the same approach as I begin the process of replacing my old nonstick baking pans 

Ever since I switched to a low carb keto approach to eating in May 2019, I have been baking, rather than buying, the majority of the low carb bread I use. So, I decided to shop for a nonstick loaf pan first. 

After doing a bunch of online research, as usual, before deciding which one to buy, I recently ordered an OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro Loaf Pan (with fast, free shipping, thanks to Amazon Prime!). I thought it might be helpful to share the things I looked for in narrowing down the available options, and why I ultimately chose this particular pan. I will need to see how well it performs over time before I can recommend it without reservations. 

I often like to bake two loaves of bread and put one in the freezer, which doesn't take much more time and effort than baking a single loaf. Given my strategy of testing individual pieces from a few different brands (or with different coating materials), I'm still trying to decide which one to buy for my second nonstick loaf pan. However, when I do, I am looking forward to comparing how the two measure up against each other. Stay tuned for future updates!

Key Features and Benefits of the OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro Loaf Pan

Amazon product image of OXO nonstick loaf pan
Product image courtesy of Amazon

I have long been a fan of the OXO kitchenware brand, and have been buying and using their products for a very long time. However, I was quite surprised to discover the OXO Good Grips brand (which I have always associated with kitchen tools and cooking utensils) on a line of bakeware, as I was doing my online research! 

It's definitely not a brand that comes to mind when I think about baking pans. But, since the kitchen tools and cooking utensils I have bought from them over the years have been durable, well made, and well designed, I decided to give OXO the benefit of the doubt and keep an open mind. I'm glad I did!

Here are the most important features and attributes that influenced my decision to choose the OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro Loaf Pan, rather than one of the many other nonstick loaf pans on the market from competing brands.

Ceramic-Reinforced, Two-Layer, Commercial Grade Nonstick Coating for Durability

Obviously, the most important among my selection criteria when researching and shopping for a new loaf pan was a PFOA-free nonstick coating. I also knew from my experience with my Copper Chef Black Diamond nonstick pots and pans that a ceramic component adds durability to nonstick coatings, so I was pleased that the OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro line uses what the company describes as a "Swiss-engineered, PTFE, ceramic reinforced, two-layer, commercial-grade coating," ILAG Non-Stick Ultimate Resist R Plus, that resists scratching, staining, corrosion, and abrasion. These qualities help give these pans a longer, safer, useful life, as long as they are treated with care and not preheated empty or allowed to get too hot. (For example, I would never use a pan with a nonstick coating to bake a recipe with a topping that needs to be caramelized under the broiler.)

Light-Colored Nonstick Coating and Micro-Textured Surface for Even Baking

Most nonstick loaf pans, cake pans, muffin tins, and other bakeware has a dark coating. Unfortunately, since dark colors absorb heat, the sides and bottom of whatever you put in them bakes (or cooks, in the case of a meat loaf, for example) faster than the top or center of the pan's contents. In fact, by the time the center tests done, the bottom and sides are often overbaked or even burned. Until recently, all nonstick baking pans had dark-colored coating, which is why some recipes tell you to reduce the oven temperature if you use a nonstick pan. 

By contrast, light colors reflect heat instead of absorbing it. So using a pan with a light-colored nonstick coating promotes more even baking (or cooking). 

I first discovered bakeware with a light, metallic gold- or champagne-colored nonstick coating quite a few years ago at Williams-Sonoma. Then Nordic Ware came out with gold-colored nonstick versions of their gorgeous, elaborate, specialty baking pans. I confess, I have secretly coveted them ever since! But back when I was drooling over them, the prices for pieces with the light-colored coating seemed exorbitant, compared to the cost of their counterparts with the much more common dark-colored coating, and I refrained from indulging. 

When I started my current product research product, I was surprised and delighted to find that the prices for pans with a lighter champagne- or gold-colored nonstick coating have come down quite a bit, which makes these a much more affordable and practical option. 

I also love the look of these lighter-colored coatings. Since I usually make myself choose function over form when buying something practical, like a nonstick loaf pan, it's quite a treat to find one that whose excellent performance is also paired with a beautiful finish.

Extreme close-up photo of micro-textured surface on the bottom of the pan
The light-colored ceramic-reinforced PFOA-free nonstick coating promotes even baking, and the micro-textured bottom surface of the pan promotes airflow. 

There is also a unique, micro-textured surface pattern on the bottom that minimizes contact between the food and the pan, and allows some airflow under the loaf. I've found that this not only prevents my bread loaves from having a burned bottom crust, but also avoids sogginess that can occur from steam condensation when a freshly baked loaf needs to stay in the pan at the start of the cooling cycle before being removed to a wire rack to finish cooling completely.

Seamless Interior and Rounded Corners for Easy Clean-Up

One of my pet peeves about nonstick baking pans is the seams, especially the corner seams. I always grease my pans, even those with an anti-stick coating, before adding a dough or batter, sometimes followed by a thin coating of cocoa powder or low carb flour. Thoroughly cleaning the residue from the narrow points at the bottom corners, using nothing narrower or firmer than the edge of a soapy sponge (to avoid abrading the coating), can be challenging. 

I always dreamed of having nonstick baking pans with rounded corners and no seams, like my old glass cake pans. When I saw this OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro loaf pan, it felt like someone had overheard that dream and decided to make it come true.

The seamless interior and rounded corners really do make this loaf pan is an absolute breeze to clean! I'm pretty sure that the lack of seams or sharp corners will also make the nonstick interior less prone to wear or cracking.

Strength and Structural Rigidity for Warp Resistance

I have a few pieces of cookware and bakeware that, despite being constructed from heavy-gauge metal, tend to warp after they have been on a hot stove or in a hot oven for a while. This really bugs me, and especially on a nonstick pan, whose coating was not designed to hold up to repeated flexing and twisting! So, now that I'm shopping for new pans, I'm looking for ones that are made to resist warping. 

One of the things I liked about the OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro Loaf Pan it that was designed with structural integrity and rigidity in mind, which increase durability and help prevent warping. 

Square-rolled edge increases rigidity, creates a wider lip/more secure grip
This metal pan is made from commercial grade, heavy gauge, aluminized steel, which not only has excellent thermal conductivity for fast, even heat distribution, but also provides durability and structural stability. The micro-textured bottom also contributes to the pan's structural rigidity. 

The square-rolled edge is another important feature for better structure, strength, and durability. Unlike most loaf pans, whose rim is formed by folding the sheet metal over a piece of wire, the rim around the OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro Loaf Pan is formed from a single piece of steel, molded into what the company calls "a unique square-roll shape." This uniform construction and substantial, square-rolled edge creates a thick, solid rim that not only adds structural rigidity, it also makes the pan easier to grip and lift. That's a design feature I really appreciate, especially when I'm moving a full, hot metal loaf pan from the oven to a heatproof mat or cooling rack!

Commercial Grade Materials and Construction for Superior Performance

While it may be tempting to buy the cheapest nonstick pans you can find, since they have a limited recommended lifespan, in my experience, that approach is penny-wise and pound-foolish. I've only made that mistake twice, when I was much younger, and it taught me the value of spending a bit more to get nonstick bakeware made with high quality materials and durable construction. Commercial grade materials and construction, designed to meet the much more demanding requirements of a commercial kitchen, will perform better, last longer, and resist not only warping but also scratches and abrasion, significantly extending their safe, useful life before they need to be replaced. 

I have found that in the long run, the cost of buying well made, commercial quality bakeware and cookware is almost always a better investment than buying cheaper, lower quality, less durable pans that don't perform or hold up as well and need to be replaced much sooner.

Versatile Size for Different Types of Recipes

The OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro Loaf Pan is designed for a 1-pound loaf, which is pretty standard. Since my previous loaf pans had always been 9" x 5" and this one is 8.5" x 4.5", I wanted to make sure the slightly smaller dimensions would work for the majority of recipes. 

The baking pros at King Arthur Baking Company are a trusted, authoritative source of professional expertise. Their advice (like their recipes) is consistently excellent, helpful, and reliable. So, when I was researching nonstick loaf pans, their website was one of the resources I turned to.

The King Arthur blog post on "Choosing the right bread pan" explain that some yeast bread doughs can be baked successfully in either a 9" x 5" or an 8.5" x 4.5" loaf pan, while others turn out better in one size pan or the other, depending on both the type of flour and the number of cups of flour the recipe calls for. 

According to the post, any yeast bread loaf recipe that uses 3 cups of flour (or slightly less) should be baked in an 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" pan. A recipe that uses 3 1/2 cups of flour can be baked in either size pan (although the smaller loaf pan is recommended for whole grain breads and the 9" x 5" pan is preferred for yeast doughs made with all-purpose or bread flour). The only yeast bread doughs that definitely should be baked in the larger pan are single-loaf recipes that use at least 3 3/4 cups of flour, regardless of type. 

Since I can't foresee many occasions when I might want to bake a really large loaf of bread, the article confirmed that an 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" loaf pan would be fine for the majority of recipes, including the (yeast-free) low carb bread I'm mostly baking these days, most of which specify this pan size. It's also a nice size for baking a meatloaf whose slices fit neatly between two slices of bread. (Meatloaf sandwich, anyone? Yes, please!)

photo of length and width markings stamped into the inside of the nonstick loaf pan
The length and width markings are permanently stamped into the metal, instead of the more common printed dimensions that can wear off over time

I also really appreciate having the dimensions in both inches (4.5 x 8.5 in) and centimeters (11.5 x 21.5 cm) stamped permanently into the metal, in large, raised letters and numbers that are very easy to read, without having to turn the pan over to see them.

Note: The exterior dimensions of the OXO pan are 9" x 5", due in part to the wide square-rolled edges; however, the interior dimensions, which are the ones that count, are 8.5" x 4.5".

Made in the USA

It's getting harder to find well made, reasonably priced products manufactured in the USA. I prefer to buy American-made goods, when possible, so the fact that this OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro loaf pan is made in the USA was definitely a big point in its favor. It feels good to support American businesses that make high quality products and continue to manufacture them in this country and providing employment opportunities for American workers, especially now that so many companies have relocated or built plants in countries where they can lower their labor costs by paying cheaper wages.

Note: This pan is "Made in the USA from globally sourced materials." That's not surprising, since fewer and fewer products are being manufactured exclusively with USA-sourced materials. 

Excellent Value

For me, the value of a product is a function of both price and quality: is what the product provides in terms of function, form, useful lifespan, etc., worth the price? It's common for manufacturers to compete for market share by identifying popular, successful, highly rated products from other companies and creating their own versions (knock-offs) that look and sound extremely similar and cost less. But in order to sell the product for less, they need to manufacture it for less (or use a different distribution model, such as direct-to-consumer sales). And, often, the way they bring down the retail price is to cut corners, either by removing certain features or using less expensive (and usually lower quality) materials or manufacturing/construction methods. 

Since the OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro Loaf Pan looks quite similar to the higher-priced Williams-Sonoma Goldtouch Pro Loaf Pan of the same size, I decided to compare their technical specs and product descriptions before finalizing my decision to purchase the OXO pan. Here's how they stack up against each other, as of this writing, with differences highlighted in green (better value) or orange (not as much value):

OXO Good Grips Non-Stick ProWillams-Sonoma Goldtouch Pro
Size:8.5 x 4.5 x 2.75 inches high 8.5 x 4.5 x 2.75 inches high
Capacity:1 lb.1 lb.
Where It's Made:Made in the USA with globally sourced materialsMade in the USA with globally sourced materials
Materials:Commercial-grade aluminized steelCommercial-grade aluminized steel
Light-colored, ceramic-reinforced, PFOA-free nonstick coatingLight-colored, ceramic-reinforced, PFOA-free nonstick coating
Max Temperature:Up to 450 ℉Up to 450 ℉
Dishwasher Safe:Yes, but hand washing recommendedYes, but hand washing recommended
Construction:Seamless, molded constructionSeamed, folded construction
Square-rolled rim formed from a single sheet of steelRim reinforced with coated wire
Micro-textured diamond-patterned bottom surfaceSmooth bottom surface
Price as of 1/12/21:$17.99 on amazon.com$21.95 on williams-sonoma.com
Shipping Cost:Prime FREE delivery (for Amazon Prime members)$6.99 shipping and processing fee for standard shipping (3-Day Select)
MA Sales Tax:$1.12$1.37
Total Cost (Delivered):$19.11$30.31

Based on the product information I was able to find on Amazon, Williams-Sonoma, and other retailers' sites, the two pans are extremely similar in some ways. However, the OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro Loaf Pan's seamless, molded construction and rounded corners give it an edge in terms of durability, warp-resistance, and ease of cleaning. Best of all, those superior features and attributes also come at a better price. The total cost for this pan, including the purchase price, sales tax, and delivery, is 30 percent less than the total delivered cost of the similar Williams-Sonoma Goldtouch Pro Loaf Pan!

Getting a better pan for less money definitely makes the OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro pan an excellent value.

Timing is Everything!

The day before this post was published, I noticed this pan wasn't in stock on Amazon, but could be ordered with an expected delivery date in late February. However, it is a few minutes before this post is set to publish, and it appears that, at the moment, the pan is no longer available to buy new at the $17.99 price with free delivery. A couple of sellers are offering new pans for twice that price, and it's currently available in Used - Very Good condition from Amazon Warehouse for $16.55 with free Prime Delivery. If you're interested in getting one or more of these nonstick loaf pans, I suggest checking back once a week over the next few weeks to see when it becomes available to order new for $17.99 again with free Prime delivery.

Wouldn't Someone You Know Love to Receive a New, High Quality Nonstick Loaf Pan?

Most home cooks and bakers own at least one loaf pan. But chances are good that either they don't yet have a well-made, nonstick loaf pan that's in good shape and has a PFOA-free coating, or that they have a nonstick loaf pan (or two) that is starting to show a few scratches and is no longer safe to use, but they haven't yet gotten around to buying a new one to replace it. 

Either way, I'm sure that one (or a pair) of these OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro Loaf Pans would be a welcome addition to their kitchen cabinet, pantry, or wherever they keep their baking pans. And with a price tag of only $17.99, it's an affordable as well as thoughtful gift that they will likely get a lot of use from. 

Happy baking!


OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro Loaf Pan Review by Margaret Schindel


Posts In This Series About My Keto Diet Journey

The Best Low Carb Keto Gift Ideas: Keto Gift Guide

The Ultimate Keto Hot Chocolate Recipe

Keto Cheddar Cheese Biscuits With Chives Recipe

My Favorite Hamama Microgreens Seed Quilt Accessories

Hamama Microgreens Growing Kit Review & Success Tips

Good Dee’s Keto Cookie Low Carb Baking Mix Review

Low Carb Keto Chocolate Yogurt Granola Chip Pudding Recipe

Low Carb Muffins & Cupcakes: Treats to Enjoy on a Keto Diet

Preparing to Succeed on the Keto Diet, Part Two

Preparing to Succeed on the Keto Diet, Part One

My First Year on The Keto Diet


Read More Product Reviews by Our Review This Reviews Contributors






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Monday, January 11, 2021

Guard Your ID Stamp Reviewed

 I received this very practical and very useful gadget for Christmas and the Guard Your ID stamp has quickly climbed to the top of my favorite gadget list!




How The Guard Your ID Works

I believe this gadget falls under the "Why Didn't I Think Of That!" category for paper management. While I make every effort to go paperless I still receive unsolicited and undesired direct mail advertisements printed with my personal information.

Many times the direct mail advertisements are heavy on paper and envelopes, but have your personal information just one spot. The Guard Your ID stamp is perfect to quickly eliminate the personal information to then dispose of the mailer in the trash or in the paper to be shredded pile. 

Easy as 1-2-3 simply open the stamp, blot out your personal information on the mailer and you are done!

Quick, Easy & Convenient

I love the ease of this gadget. All you have to remember is to replace the cap, give a twist to the cap and the ink and stamp is stored safely for the next use.

Paper Shredders Plus Guard Your ID

The Guard Your ID stamp is the perfect companion to the traditional paper shredder to protect personal information. If you have ever tangled with a home paper shredder I have found that our home shredder is not fond of the mailers and envelopes. Nothing like having a few unwanted envelopes stuck in the shredder to try and untangle.


Fun Practical Gift

I liked this gadget so much I purchased the three pack to have one at the office and two in the gift bag stash. A great little add on for practical gift giving. Savings Hint: Coupons on the single stamp and three pack are available frequently on amazon for a nice savings!




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Wednesday, January 6, 2021

The Carry-All Wagon That Will Make Life Easier For Everyone in 2021! A Product Review

We have always been on the look out for something that will make our chores easier!  After all we are seniors! 

The wonderful thing is that when searching for things that will make senior life easier, we sometimes stumble on things that are useful to everyone!  

We are in an apartment and so when doing our grocery shopping, we often take a bundle buggy with us, so that bringing up our purchases can be done in one trip.  Hauling groceries to the elevators 2 or 3 bags at a time just doesn't appeal to me or my other half.

grocery shopping, carts, shopping carts



Sometimes though, that bundle buggy just doesn't cut the mustard, so to speak, and we are left tripping up and down the elevators ad nauseum.

There has to be a better way!

Well, I think I have found it.  Bundle buggies take up a lot of space in the trunk of the car.  When shopping is the order of the day though, you need to find that space.  No questions asked, you will need a way to get those groceries to your doorstep as easily as possible.

Now I have found that there are these really great collapsible wagons that can do the job as well or better than a bundle buggy.  They are compact, take up little room in the car, and open up to reveal a substantial amount of space to place all your groceries and any extras you might have picked up.

What I really like about this wagon is that it is not just for groceries or for older folks.  This wagon is useful for everyone. 

Families when they are going on a picnic, or to a sporting event with their children, can load this wagon with chairs, extra toys for the children that aren't on the field, snacks, drinks, blankets and any other possible need to keep the kids out at the park for the duration.  No need to be running back and forth to the car for extra things.  It's all in the wagon, ready for you!

Going to the cottage would be a fantastic time to use this wagon as well.  Just think of unloading the car, with blankets, food for the week, drinks, water toys, bathing suits and the like.  Pile it all into the wagon and I'm sure you will have fewer trips back and forth.  Even the children can pull the full wagon without too much difficulty.  Help is on the way in more ways than one.

Gardeners and garden lovers, can use this cart to move around new plants, soil, compost, tools and so much more.  All of it just goes into the wagon and it goes where you need it.  How wonderful is that?



 

Collapsible wagons come in a variety of sizes and styles.

There are a few things that you should discern before you purchase one of these wagons!  What is the ultimate use for the wagon going to be?  If you are using it for transport from one location to the next, you might want to check out the specific size and weight of load  the wagon can handle.  

Are you going to use it just for carting things from the car to an apartment, or are you going to walk to the store and use it to carry your purchases on the way home?  You might think this is a silly idea, but let me tell you, some of the "attributes" of the wagon you choose could make the difference between a good hike home or not.  Do you need brakes on your wagon?  How about an adjustable handle?  For our purposes, the adjustable handle is a must have.  I'm 5'7" and my other half is 6'5",  My arms and his are not the same and our ability to grab that handle and go with it would need adjustment.  There are a few different options on these wagons as you might expect and it's good to think about that before you buy one.

If you are going to use this wagon year round, you might want to go with wheels that are a little larger to get you through snow easier.  Some have rotating wheels that makes it easier to move it about!  You can either pull it or push it.  

These wagon/carts can be opened up with one hand and it can collapse with one hand too!  Their footprint is small so that your trunk isn't all taken up with the wagon in it's storage position.  But it is there when you need it.  You can also purchase a tarp to carry things that might overflow the body of the wagon.  

Just imagine a coach of a soccer team with 24 or more soccer balls.  They would all fit into the wagon with the tarp overlay keeping everything secure!  How's that for a time saver and trip saver too!  


As I get used to having this new tool at my disposal, I will keep you up to date on more uses for this handy wagon.  I know I will make good use of it especially on the days that I walk to the grocery store or those days when recycling needs to be disposed of.  No more trotting back and forth, it will get done in one trip!








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Monday, January 4, 2021

Reviewing Grypmat: the Ultimate Tool Mat

 When I give gifts, I try to give something that connects with that person's passion. Or something that is very practical. It is a happy moment when I give a gift that hits both marks. I gave the Grypmat to my best friend and he immediately let me know how wonderful this product is.



What is a Grypmat?

A Grypmat is a trademarked, silicone tool organizer that sticks to surfaces and so much more.

Grypmats:

  • come in a variety of sizes
  • are made of silicone polymer and "special ingredients" to make it "extra grypy".
  • are anti-static and clings through a combination of suction and friction
  • protect surfaces from marring and scratching
  • prevent the loss of tools, bolts, and other small items
  • are not magnetic (does not pick up bits of metal fragments that scratch)
  • are rated for very hot and very cold temperatures (climate, engine, workspace, etc)
  • are washable; oils and chemicals (used in mechanic work) wash off easily and do not harm that mats
  • can be used in a variety of activities; mechanical work, jewelry-making, gunsmithing, and almost any activity that requires keeping track of items. 
I chose this size of Grypmat because it was in my gift-giving price range. The bright orange color is a bonus and will help him find the mat if (when) he misplaces it. Also, it is the size that fits on a ladder step. I cannot count the number of times I've watched my friend at the top of a ladder trying to hold on to multiple items while working. 

Comments, Photos, and a Brief Review from My Friend

I knew I'd review the medium Grypmat as soon as my friend started text-bombing me with photos and comments about the gift I gave to him. As a side note, my friend works in building maintenance and car repair. I know that he HATES when people are careless and scratch things by laying their tools on surfaces. I've been with him when the socket drops out of his hand, falls through the engine, and a hide-n-seek game ensues. As soon as I saw these Grypmats, I knew that he would put it to good use. But I had no clue how much he'd love it. In fact, I had apologized that this gift was probably a really boring/practical/work-related gift.

The following is a selection of photos and comments from my friend (used with permission):




"I'd say I've had numerous times I'd like to have it on the window....

a place to sit stuff"

"Even the mirror job... I had tools on the wiper cowl and if you miss one... crunch... hoodcrumple"



"Now watch this.. bridge over an area !!!!!!!"

"And it's an electrical insulator... won't arc battery..."




Of course, there are Grypmat knock-offs available. I decided to purchase the original Grypmat out of the expectation (an expectation that was met) that the materials would be high quality and the product would perform as advertised. I'd imagine that the knock-offs would provide a non-marring tool mat but I imagine that the "gripping" ability would be absent. For example, my silicone soap molds are heat-resistant in an oven and would prevent tools from making scratches in surfaces if used as a mat. But the grip factor is missing as is the industrial level quality. I am also not confident that my silicone items would stand up to the chemicals used in auto repairs and similar activities. 

Who Invented Grypmat?

"Grypmat is a Veteran-founded company founded by former Air Force F-16 Mechanic, Tom Burden" from the Grypmat official website.

Another reason I chose Grypmat was related to who the inventor is. While I am not someone who does a great deal of shopping, I do try to support Veteran-owned businesses when I spend money. I also support entrepreneurs and small business as often as I am able. Finally, who better to design a tool mat than an F-16 mechanic? 

I felt that my decision was validated when I realized that Tom Burden had also appeared on The Shark Tank. If The Sharks have faith in this product, I thought it would be a good choice as a gift for my friend.

And clearly, it was an excellent and much appreciated choice. 

Related Links:

If you are interested in a Grypmat, or want more information, you can check the official website. You can also find Grypmats on Amazon via the Grypshon store or using the link below. 


Photo credit: truck and Grypmat photos courtesy of Dawn Rae's BFF.




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Saturday, January 2, 2021

Gorton's Grilled Tilapia Review

 


Good seafood that is good for you.


I've lived in coastal communities on both the West Coast and the East Coast in years past and thereby acquired a real love for fish and seafood.  Coastal living also has the advantage of the availability of fresh seafood.


Now life circumstances have brought me back to the Midwest where 'fresh' is only found in specialty markets at a premium price due to coastal seafood having to be shipped inland. So a readily available, but tasty, substitute had to be found to satisfy my seafood and fish cravings.  I found just such a product in Gorton's Grilled Tilapia fillets with roasted garlic & butter. 


Gorton's Grilled Tilapia



This frozen grilled tilapia fillets dish is delicious. It is quick and easy to prepare (20 minutes at 400 degrees baked in a conventional oven) and has a nice, fresh taste. I like mine served with white rice, as the garlic butter sauce lends itself well to this accompaniment. 



The 6.3 ounce package has two fish fillets in it and each fillet is only 100 calories. Seasoned with real herbs and spices, these Tilapi fillets are also gluten-free.  One fillet per person is perfect when served with side dishes.

The fillets can also be cooked in the microwave, but I prefer the oven baking method best. Plus, if I cook long-grain rice to go with it, the rice also takes 20 minutes. Perfect timing. 




Other Gorton Tilapi Products


Gorton's also has other varieties of their Tilapia dishes. The Signature Grilled Tilapia tastes like it has been grilled outside.  And Gorton's two Skilled Crisp Tilapia selections are lightly battered and coated with garlic and herb seasonings or with classic seasonings  with just a squeeze of fresh lemon.


Gorton's Seafood Company


Pixabay
Begun in Gloucester, Massachusetts (America's oldest seaport) in 1849, Gorton's has been in operation for 170 years. Gorton's was one of the first to develop frozen convenience food, and many of us have been familiar with their frozen fish sticks for years.

Today you can find just about any kind of fish or seafood with the Gorton's name.  This article is about their Tilapia dishes, but they also have salmon, haddock, flounder, cod, shrimp, clams, crab and much more.

From delicious classics such as fish sticks and popcorn shrimp to lighter options in the Smart Solutions line to the chef-inspired Everyday Gourmet line of dishes, there is a fish or seafood entrée for everyone. Check out Gorton's 56 varieties of fish and seafood products here and see which one(s) you would like to try.  


Note: Gorton's fish and seafood products can usually be found at most grocery stores. 


For more fish and seafood recipes and product reviews, search ReviewThisReviews for Seafood


*Gorton's Grilled Tilapia Review written by (c) Wednesday Elf on 1/2/2021







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Friday, December 18, 2020

Sennheiser HD280PRO Headphones Reviewed

Wired Headphones
I have had my Sennheiser headphones for over 9 years and they are still awesome.  No problems internally or externally.  Therefore, I can highly recommend this brand and the old model of HD280Pro headphones.

I originally purchased the headphones so I could listen to music without disturbing anyone else in our home.  We all have different sleeping hours and schedules.  All too often, someone is sleeping when I would like to listen to music.  

I have also discovered how wonderful the headphones are when I want to watch a movie on my laptop that other family members aren't interested in seeing, or hearing.  

It is not unusual for several of us to be working in the same room on different projects.  Sometimes noise, even music we all enjoy, can be disturbing when one is trying to concentrate.  The Sennheiser headphones are essential to a happy "work" environment for everyone.

 

The Sennheiser HD280Pro Headphones

I didn't expect excellence when I purchased my headphones.  The low price tag made me think they would be acceptable.  However, I have been thrilled with the quality & clarity of sound, as well as, the noise isolation they provide.  

 Sennheiser HD280PRO Headphones
(old model - best model)
Check Price
When I am using my headphones, I can't hear other things going on in the same room, unless I uncover one ear.  Therefore, if another family member is talking on the phone, I am not disturbing them and they are not disturbing me.  Previously, I had to mute my music or movie if someone was on the phone.  It was the polite thing to do, but it often left me having to listen to one side of a conversation I wasn't the lest bit interested in hearing.

Other family members can't hear what is being "piped" through my headphones either.  Therefore, their concentration is not being disturbed by whatever I am playing.  I can even listen to instructional videos without bothering anyone else.  

The Sennheiser headphones are also comfortable to wear.  The padded earpieces allow me to wear them for hours without feeling pressure or pain.  Even if I am wearing my glasses, the glasses arm is only slightly pressed against my face or ears.  Not enough to hurt.

I plug my headphones into my laptop, but they could also be used with iPads, Android tablets, stereos, recording equipment, or whatever device uses a 1/4" plug.

Sure, you could pay a lot more for headphones, but I highly doubt you would get noticeably better headphones for sound or comfort.

One note, I do have the "old model".  I have read there is a new model available, but I cannot personally comment on them.  Their reviews would lead me to believe you would probably want to buy the "old model" if you are interested in purchasing the Sennheiser HD280Pro Headphones while they are still available.








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House of Sylvestermouse




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Monday, December 14, 2020

What's A Spurtle? The Spurtle Review

I admit I have a special fondness for kitchen gadgets. Oh I have tried a few! Some are winners, some are losers and some end up in the Kitchen Tool Hall of Fame! The Spurtle is a kitchen tool which has turned out to be a favorite and deserves a place in the Kitchen Tool Hall Of Fame!


What Is A Spurtle?

A spurtle is a wooden kitchen tool from Scotland. It dates back to the fifteenth, yes the fifteenth century. It was used to stir porridge and originally had was shaped like a dowel. This design helped keep the porridge lump free.

I was first introduced to the spurtle by Mad Hungry's Lucinda Scala Quinn who has her own line of spurtles with todays' version. The current spurtle design has a longer flat area.  

I consider the spurtle a hybrid; a cross between a wooden spoon and spatula. When you think of the multitude of ways wooden spoons and spatulas are used in cooking and baking then you can see how many different ways a spurtle can be used. The difference is the spurtle does it better than my wooden spoons and spatulas.

Mashed potatoes, soups, any kind of dough, creamy salads, oatmeal, egg dishes and stuffing are just a few ways I use the spurtle. 

Of course making cookies is a definite favorite and the spurtle excels at not only mixing the dough, but scraping the edges of the bowl. No waste with the spurtle!

 

The 27th Golden Spurtle Championship

Every kitchen tool needs a championship and the spurtle is no exception. The 27th Golden Spurtle World Porridge Making Championship is held in Scotland annually to celebrate the heritage of the spurtle and its' porridge origin. Adapting to the theme of 2020, this years' competition was virtual with competitors submitting videos and their favorite spurtle porridge recipe. 

Spurtles now come included in wooden kitchen tool sets or sold by themselves. Try it you will like it is my motto with the spurtle. Your mashed potatoes will thank you!








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Sunday, December 13, 2020

Color Changing Power Failure Night Lights - A Review

Power Saving Color Changing Night Lights


My husband recently purchased the Sunbeam 3 in 1 Power Failure Night Lights, and I have to say, they're awesome. We love color, and the fact that the lights rotate through different colors is pretty festive.

What I Love About Color Changing Night Lights


1. Motion Sensor & Low Light Activation

You can turn the nightlight motion sensor on or off. We have the motion sensors on for all of the lights. When they detect a lack of ambient lighting or motion, they will turn on. That's especially handy in washrooms. The light doesn't stay on all of the time; it simply goes on when it's too dark or it senses that someone has walked in. It's instrumental in the primary bathroom when you've stumbled in during the middle of the night; the light comes on for you, and best of all, it's not bright - and it rotates through different colors. You're not left with light-shock.

2. They're Festive - All Year Round

It doesn't have to be the holiday season to enjoy colorful lights. We love color, so these lights are ideal for our home. They're lovely with our Christmas decor right now and add a little festivity in the kitchen, bathrooms, and hallways.

3. They Have a Built-In Battery Power Failure Back-Up

They're not just a night light; they're a safety product as well. It charges itself as it's plugged in (I assume that's how it works?), and if the power goes out, the light's bright LED back-up comes on. The nightlight is a good size (4.7 inches tall), providing quite a bit of light while in power failure mode. It has about 300 hours of back-up time in power-failure mode - or that's what I read. I couldn't speak first hand to that as we've never lost power that long! Actually, knock-on-wood, we rarely lose power. However, knowing it's there is peace of mind. Place them in your kitchen, washrooms, and hallways, and you'll feel a bit safer should the power go off. Not only that, walk around with when there's a power failure! It's like having a ready-to-use flashlight at your fingertips.

4. They're the Ideal Gift - Practical, Colorful, and Safety

My mom doesn't know it yet, but this is one of her Christmas gifts. After seeing how handy it was to have them throughout our home, I immediately thought of my mother's house. She has frequent power failures, so these lights are not just gifts for her, but a little bit of peace of mind for me. I think she should put one in the upper and lower hallways and one in her primary washroom. The power failure light is very bright, so that should throw enough light when she's sitting in the family room should the power go off. I'm actually thinking about giving her an additional two nightlights - one for the kitchen and family room, just in case.

They're an excellent choice for a baby's room, the cottage, the garage, or workshed. In all these cases, they'll only be activated via motion or meager ambient light (if that's how you've set them). Since they're LEDs, they're cost-efficient.

Check Them Out:

Sunbeam 3 in 1 Power Failure Night Light
Available on Amazon



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Friday, December 11, 2020

A Fabulous Anti-Theft Designer Backpack Reviewed

Backpack Review

I stopped carrying a purse decades ago. For many years, I simply carried my wallet & keys in my jeans pockets. However, during the last year or so, I have enjoyed keeping my iPad with me so I would hear Ring camera notifications, could check maps, or simply read articles on the internet. It is really nice to have my iPad with me in the car or when I visit friends or family.  

I also like to keep my Propel water with me at all times.  Plus, my car now has a fob instead of a key.  A fob is more bulky in pockets than a key.  Sometimes I hook the fob on my jeans belt loop, but that is not very attractive and I don't always wear pants with loops. 

Unfortunately, now that I carry my iPad, my key fob & water everywhere I go, I need something to carry it all in instead of trying to carry them in my hands.  I tried a tote, but I really prefer having my hands free.  So, I went in search of a backpack.

I found exactly what I wanted and my parents gave it to me for my birthday!  Now that I have carried my backpack for a few months, I love it and can recommend it for many reasons.

 


My Westbronco Anti-Theft Backback - A Great Gift

It is hard to know where to start when reviewing this backpack.  Not only is it attractive, but it has a lot of wonderful features that recommend it over other backpacks.  Here is a list of the features that really matter to me.

 
  • Anti-Theft - the zipper opens in the back instead of the front
  • Attractive & Soft PU Leather
  • Water Resistant
  • 3 Pockets Inside (1 is a zipper pocket)
  • 2 Side Pockets (perfect for my water bottle)
  • 2 Exterior Zipper Pockets (on front side under the fold)
  • Top Attached Handle for Grab & Carry
  • Backpack Straps, plus a separate Detachable Shoulder Strap
  • Available in Several Colors 
  • Great Size for Women 

 WESTBRONCO Women Backpack PU Leather Anti-Theft Fashion Designer Backpack Ladies Shoulder BagCheck Price

 

The backpack came in a dust cover which is an awesome storage bag when I am not using it.  It truly does keep the dust off of the backpack while waiting for our next adventure.

I highly recommend this backpack for anyone who needs to carry several small items and doesn't like carrying a purse.  The problems I have had with backpacks in the past are eliminated by having the entry zipper against my back instead of accessible to anyone standing behind me.  I also prefer this smaller size that is big enough to hold an iPad, wallet (in the interior zippered pocket), key fobs, cellphone, water bottle and more.  I can even add my Kindle Fire so I can play my games when I am away from home.  

This backpack would also make a great overnight bag!







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House of Sylvestermouse




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Monday, December 7, 2020

Reviewing Gift Ideas for People Who Crochet

People who learn to crochet often get hooked (pun intended) and always desire more yarn,
more supplies, and more time to crochet. We joke about our excessive hoards of yarn but would go shopping for more in the blink of an eye. My dream is to someday go on a Crochet cruise vacation (yes, those existed prior to social distancing limits) and if anyone would like to gift me a crochet cruise I'd happily accept. However, there are many great ideas for crochet gifts with smaller price tags. 



Crochet Gifts

There are so many gifts that can be given to someone who crochets. From Tshirts and mugs with messages that make yarn lovers smile to items that make the process of crocheting easier there is something for every crocheter. I've compiled a few samples in this review. 

Crochet sets. There are sets that include a little bit of everything. This set by BeCraftee is a good example: case, stitch markers, yarn needles, a set of hooks, and more. This is a great option and would be an appreciated gift. 

Crochet Set by BeCraftee

Yarn Bowls. What are yarn bowls?  They are wonderful "bowls" (usually made of wood or ceramic) that hold the balls of yarn that is currently being used. Why is this important? Because nothing is more irritating than knots in your yarn while you are crocheting or the balls of yarn rolling off the table or your lap while you are working. A yarn bowl holds the ball of yarn in one place while allowing it to spin freely while crocheting. A very functional item that is also a pretty gift.

Yarn Bowl by Athena's Elements


Round Knitting Looms.  Round looms aren't quite knitting or crocheting. With a bit of yarn, a hook, and a round loop almost anyone can make cute hats! I love my round knitting looms and use them when I want to add a bit of variety to my crafts or take a break from a large crochet item. I love my round looms so much that I wrote a separate review and you can see that here.

Round Loom Knitting Set

T-Shirts. This is a T-shirt that people who crochet will understand. There are others to chose from, with a variety of yarn and crochet messages. Some messages are funny, some a bit naughty, but this one fits me (and many people who crochet) perfectly!

T-shirts for Crocheters


Coffee Mugs. There are some really funny, and some really bawdy, coffee mugs with messages that suit crocheters perfectly - including a coffee mug that matches the T-shirt listed above. The message on this mug made me laugh and sums up 2020 perfectly.

Crochet Coffee Mug

Crochet Books

There are many books about crochet; stitch and pattern books galore! One of the best crochet books ever isn't about the stitches or patterns, it is about a young crochet phenom named Jonah Larson. You may have seen him on social media or talk shows with celebrities. I had. Even so, I didn't fully know his story. This book about this young man is a wonderful story and would make a wonderful gift. You can read my full review here

Hello Crochet Friends by Jonah Larson


This list is a small sample of the many pattern and crochet stitches books:

A to Z of Crochet: The Ultimate Guide for the Beginner to the Advanced Crocheter

Dog Sweater Crochet: Step by Step Guide to Get Crochet Sweater for Your Dogs

Big Book of Christmas Crochet 

Cats in Hats: 30 Knit and Crochet Hat Patterns for Your Kitty


Gift Cards !!!!

Does my list of options make your head spin? Are there too many options? If so, you can never go wrong with gift cards. Amazon offers many crochet and crafting items. Joann Fabrics and Michaels are two of my favorite crafting stores. All of these cards are available through Amazon - which is an convenient way to give long-distance gifts. I especially like (giving and receiving the Amazon gift cards in the holiday tins. Others prefer the digital/emailed gift cards.

Gift Cards

Crochet Stocking Stuffers

Like many people who crochet, I feel that I could always use more hooks, stitch markers, measuring tapes, round counters, and other small items. These items make excellent stocking stuffers.

Dedicated Scissors or Yarn Cutter. There is nothing more annoying than crocheting and having to get up to look for scissors. I eventually bought a pair of dedicated scissors that are supposed to be used for crochet only. However, they still sometimes wander off. Also, I have found that pointed scissors in my project bag sometimes snag the yarn. So, my crochet scissors are currently blunted tipped scissors (like child's school scissors). I would very much like some of the ornamental "embroidery" scissors or this yarn cutter pendant by clover! Such a great idea. And ends the frustration of not being able to cut yarn when I need to.

Yarn Cutter by Clover


Locking Stitch Markers. Stitch markers are such a little thing but such a huge help. They are small, plastic pieces that work very much like a safety pin. But because they are plastic they do not snag your yarn. I never knew how much I needed stitch markers until I bough some. Now I can't do without them. I like them so much that I wrote a review that you can read here

Locking Stitch Markers


Counters. Another little gadget that helps keep track of rows or rounds, that I'm not sure how I managed without for all of those decades of crochet, is a counter. No more misplaced slips of paper trying to track what row or round I'm on in the pattern. Such a helpful tool to have.

Click Counter

 

Vacations for People Who Love Yarn

Cruises: Prior to 2020 and related pandemic restrictions, I was trying to determine how I could go on a crochet cruise. Mikey from the Crochet Crowd provides some of my favorite online video crochet tutorials. I was THRILLED when they began offering crochet cruises. Currently, of course, cruises are not being offered. But I am including this link for future reference. 

Fiber Festivals: An internet search for "Fiber Festivals" provides a list of festivals where yarns and crafting supplies are the focus. During normal times (when travel and gatherings are not restricted), you could plan a day trip to a local festival or a full vacation that includes a festival in the area you are visiting. 

Farm/Ranch/Fiber Mill Tours: Many people who love yarn crafts also want to know more about the fiber animals, spinning, dyeing: all of the steps in the process of creating natural yarns. Again, an internet search can locate Farms, Ranches, and Mills that are open for tours and sales of the fiber. In just a few moments, I located Mountain Meadow Mill (sheep/wool in Wyoming) and Mountain Hollow Farm Store and Studio (cashmere goats/yarn, classes, and more in Tennessee)





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