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

Friday, February 15, 2019

Swiss Miss Hot Cocoa K-Cups Reviewed

Swiss Miss Hot Cocoa k-cups are the best hot chocolate in a k-cup. After trying several brands, I finally found a delicious milk chocolate hot cocoa mix k-cup.
When I am chilled to the bone by the winter cold weather, I seek out my Swiss Miss Hot Cocoa k-cups for my Keurig coffee maker. There isn't anything better than a cup of hot chocolate on a cold day, especially when I need it fast!

I was hesitant to try the Swiss Miss Hot Cocoa simply because I don't normally like hot cocoa.  In most cases, I much prefer hot chocolate.  But, I really wanted a hot chocolate k-cup that I could make quickly when needed to warm up.  So, I kept tasting and testing.  My search is now finished and I extremely surprised that it has ended with a hot cocoa k-cup instead of hot chocolate. Regardless, I am thrilled the search is over and I have a k-cup that meets, and exceeds, my requirements.


Swiss Miss Hot Cocoa K-Cups 

Swiss Miss Hot Cocoa K-Cups, Milk Chocolate, 72 CountSwiss Miss Hot Cocoa K-Cups, Milk Chocolate, 72 CountCheck PriceI tried several different brands of hot chocolate k-cups, but most of them tasted like nasty hot water.  As I said, I was hesitant to venture into the hot cocoa k-cups.  I really didn't wish to waste my money, again.  However, the Swiss Miss cocoa is a real winner!  

The Swiss Miss Hot Cocoa from the k-cup has a nice rich and delicious taste.  Plus, it really does have a milk chocolate flavor just like the package states.  Since it is made with water, and not milk, it isn't as thick as a homemade cup of hot cocoa, but it doesn't have that cocoa aftertaste.

Now, when I come in from the cold, I have a fast and easy hot drink to warm me up.  Oh, and it is extra delicious with those little marshmallows added. 



Swiss Miss Hot Cocoa k-cups are the best hot chocolate in a k-cup. After trying several brands, I finally found a delicious milk chocolate hot cocoa mix k-cup.

 

The Snow Leopard Mug

Snow Leopard Coffee MugSnow Leopard Coffee MugCheck PriceThe snow leopard mug you see filled with the Swiss Miss Hot Cocoa in the photo, is available on Zazzle.  It is one of my own personal photos that I have made available on a variety of Zazzle products.  The Snow Leopard mug does seem totally appropriate for warm hot cocoa on a cold day.  

Visually, I think the marshmallows bring out the beauty of the Snow Leopard's gorgeous fur.  



My mug is a little different from the one that is offered on Zazzle.  In my desire to feature the snow leopard face, I didn't realize I had off-centered the image until I got my own mug in the mail.  At that time, I went back into the Zazzle mug image set-up and centered the image on each side.  


Grab Your Mug of Swiss Miss Cocoa & Join Me Today!


Swiss Miss Hot Cocoa k-cups are the best hot chocolate in a k-cup. After trying several brands, I finally found a delicious milk chocolate hot cocoa mix k-cup.


 

Swiss Miss Hot Cocoa K-Cups Reviewed Written by:
House of Sylvestermouse





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Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Floor Liners For Jeep Reviewed

Dressing up A New Ride

jeep liberty
Hubby's Jeep Liberty
Last week my hubby traded in his old jeep for a newer model. You can see it pictured at the left. It is a pretty little thing, isn't it? It rides much better than the older one, too. 

So, he has a birthday approaching and I thought that it might be fun to get him something for his Jeep. The old floor liners are pretty sad looking even though they will fit this year and model. I went on a quest to see if I could find some new floor mats for him.

Sure enough, they were not difficult to find. I searched for floor liners for a Jeep Liberty and found the color that I thought would go well with his interior. To my surprise a pop-up appeared asking me to verify that the liners would fit the vehicle. It turned out that the ones that I had first picked would not fit the floor configuration of his year of Jeep. What a convenience! It would have certainly been a disappointment to me as the gifter and to him as the recipient if those new mats wouldn't work!

What I like about this particular brand of floor liners is that they are digitally measured and molded to fit the interior of specific models of vehicles. This line of mats is more than just a flat little piece of protection for the carpet of the car. They are molded to the contours of the floor board giving more protection. These will not slip around and allow mud and dirt to get under them. I like that because I really don't like having to vacuum those floors and my sweet hubby is a bit of a "Messy Marvin" when it comes to tracking in mud and dirt (in his vehicle and our home). The floor liners that I have decided to get for him are much nicer and sturdier than his previous ones. I think that he will be extremely happy with them.

Obviously, you may not have a Jeep but it doesn't matter what make or model of vehicle that you drive. You can find these well designed floor liners for any make and model feeling certain that they will fit your ride. These will be a birthday present but they would also work for Father's Day.



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Monday, February 11, 2019

Reviewing Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick and Quick Yarn

Reviewing Wool - Ease by Lion Brand Yarn Company
I have always loved to crochet. Recently, I have mindfully taken more time to crochet. As a result, my skills are improving and I've been creating things that people really enjoy. During this time I've begun to use a new yarn: Wool-Ease Thick & Quick by Lion Brand Yarns. Outside of using Bernat Blanket yarn in a couple of patterns, I've never branched out to the Bulky and Super Bulky yarns. But I stepped out of my comfort zone and I'm so glad I did. I am thrilled with this acrylic/wool blend yarn by Lion Brand.


Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick


I've never been a fan of wool - with the exception of work socks that have a small percentage of wool. I love those. But anything that has a larger percentage of wool I imagine as scratchy. I don't know why, but I do. I just always assume that wool is going to be uncomfortable.

During shopping trips down the yarn aisles, I am a toucher. I want yarns that feel good. One day I touched a skein of yarn that was so thick and soft that I bought a few skeins. I did not realize they were an acrylic and wool blend yarn until I got home. 

Wool - Ease Thick & Quick comes in two skein sizes: a regular skein size at 5 oz (87 yards) or the bonus bundle at 12 oz (212 yards).  Be aware if you are shopping online. It appears the some outlets show the regular skein size as the "bonus bundle". Be sure to read the weight/length if ordering online.




It is in the Super Bulky category (which is #6 on the label). And the recommended crochet hook size is "N" (knitting needle size 13).

Wool-Ease Thick & Quick is 80% acrylic and 20% wool. 

It is machine washable and dryable using cool temps. Do not bleach or iron.

I bought this yarn as I was experimenting - trying to crochet a very small neck warmer that someone had suggested. I ended up with the wrong pattern or the wrong size yarn during my experimenting. Then I gave this yarn and a "N" hook a try. And ta-dum, I have great neck warmers that people are enjoying.


Related Links:

My neck warmers on Etsy
If you'd like an acrylic/wool blend neck warmer and don't feel like making your own, keep your eye on my Etsy Store. I will offer these neck warmers with button closures at DawnRaeCrochet as I get them made.

If you'd like to make your own scarf from this yarn, you can check out the crochet patterns on Lion Brand Yarn Company site. If you are a beginner, this "Brunch With Friends Scarfie" would be a good pattern to try. 

I am not good at writing patterns. So I cannot give you an actual pattern for my neck warmers. But for those of you who do crochet this may make sense to you:

  • chain 9 to 11 (depending on the desired width)
  • turn and single stitch in each stitch; continue for 6 rows (beginning each row with a ch 1 and turn)
  • ch 3 and turn, DC in each stitch
  • continue for desire length (mine are around 27")
  • end with a row of single crochet for a finished edge
  • attach a button (or 2 buttons) near the end of 6 rows of SC
  • the button holes are the spaces between the DCs (making the scarf able to be worn in a variety of ways/lengths).



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Saturday, February 9, 2019

Reviewing Prepare & Endure by Phytosport - A Vegan Pre-Workout Supplement

Arbonne Phytosport Prepare & Endure - a non caffeine, vegan pre-workout drink
Phytosport Prepare & Endure
When you're training for an event or just working out the one thing you don't want to do is find your energy flagging part way through.

Enter the world of the pre-workout supplement, there are basically two different types of pre-workout those with caffeine and those without.

Arbonne's Phytosport Prepare & Endure is a non-caffeine pre-workout, so how does it give you energy?   

Basically this formula includes the amino acids arginine, glutamine and carnitine for optimum performance as well as B12 for energy and their own patented botanical formulation of cayenne, ginseng and tumeric.

My Personal Thoughts on Arbonne's Pre-Workout Supplement


I do like the Phytosport range although I didn't initially use the Prepare & Endure, but I have decided to take up running at the age of 49 (yes, probably a little crazy!) and so gave myself 5 weeks to go from not running to doing a 5km event.   I thought it was time to see what the Prepare & Endure was all about.

After 2 weeks I can honestly say that the day I forgot to take my Prepare & Endure was the only day I didn't manage to finish what was on my program to do.

As an Arbonne consultant I have held a couple of taste testings of the Phytosport range at my gym and the Prepare & Endure is a popular choice as far as the flavor goes.  Personally the flavor isn't my favorite as it's orange and pineapple, but what I do like is that it doesn't taste overly sweet like some of the pre-workout drinks are.

It does include some sugar in the form of cane sugar and there's a very good reason why cane sugar is used as it contains electrolytes.   

I mix my sachet up with 500 ml of water (it's recommended to use between 250 - 500 ml) and I usually start sipping it about 30 minutes before I start working out and continuing to drink it throughout my run.

More Details on How Prepare & Endure Works


When you combine the amino acids arginine & glutamine in a pre-workout you'll find it helps to increase your performance if you're using weights and attempting to build muscle and strength.   There have been some detractors over recent years, but a study by the American College of Sports Medicine showed that not only were they able to train longer before becoming exhausted they were also shown to recover quicker between workouts.

As far as athletic performance (aka my running) carnitine is the winner in my opinion.   This amino acid has been popular with both athletes and weightbuilders since the 1980s and for lots of good reasons.  When I first heard about carnitine it was in the 90s when I managed a health food store and we sold it as a fat burner to weightlifters.

There are lots of different ways in which carnitine is invaluable as a pre-workout supplement - 

  • Fat metabolism
  • Increases athletic performance
  • Aids in recovery
  • Protects your brain from stress while also increasing adrenaline levels so that your motivation levels stay high while exercising
  • Improves cardiovascular health
  • Improves your skin
  • Burns visceral fats
For more information about carnitine - Fitness and Power

More Phytosport Products


I use the Prepare & Endure in combination with Phytosports After Workout.   There is also a third supplement called Complete Hydration which I also love.

But I NEED A Pre-Workout with Caffeine!


If you feel that you really need to have a caffeinated pre-workout then you can try what I used to use which was combining Phytosport Complete Hydration with an Arbonne Fizz Stick in 1 litre of water.  I found this worked really well (although I'm now preferring the Prepare & Endure).   

The Fizz Stick contains caffeine derived from green tea and guarana, the added bonus with this is that it's a more alkaline caffeine (as opposed to the acidity found when it's derived from coffee beans) and it's more stable so that you don't experience the caffeine crash.





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Thursday, February 7, 2019

Ruff Relief Organic Pet Paw, Nose, and Skin Balm - Review


My adventure dog, Finn, is finding winter conditions to be hard on his sensitive paws.  When I rescued him, the pads on Finn's feet were as silky smooth as baby skin.  That is because Finn had never been outdoors.  Recently, during a walk at the park, Finn stopped moving and started whimpering a bit.  After quickly checking his feet, I realized he was communicating discomfort related to an ice ball that had formed between the toes on a front foot.  Not long after that incident, Finn let me know that he could not tolerate any small amount of the chemical de-icer that was present on city sidewalks and roads.  What to do?

As I considered possible solutions, such as dog booties and paw wax, or hibernating until June, I came across a highly rated organic paw balm called Ruff Relief.  The key factor that sold me on this particular pet product had a lot to do with the fact that it is rated at a human grade food level (the first time I have seen that).  Given that dogs frequently lick their feet, it was really important to me that anything Finn put in his mouth was natural, non-toxic, and hypoallergenic (along with made in the USA).  The fact that Ruff Relief has earned a USDA certification sealed the deal for me.

You may be wondering about the ingredients.  That was the first thing I wanted to know.  Here they are:
  • Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Organic Coconut Oil
  • Organic Beeswax
  • Organic Carnauba Wax
  • Jojoba Wax
  • Non-GMO Vitamin E
These natural ingredients are safe to use on paws, noses, and other skin hot spots.  Though I think of winter as the toughest time to keep my animals' skin protected, summer presents its own challenges (think burning hot pavement and concrete).  Ruff Relief provides year-round protection from ice, snow, and heated surfaces.  If your pet ever suffers from cracking, chapped, or dry skin, you may wish to give Ruff Relief a try.  There's really no risk given that the company provides a 100% satisfaction guarantee.  You have 30 days to test drive this product.  If you aren't happy with the results, simply request a full refund.

Since I have just started using this balm on Finn's paws, I'll have to keep you posted about our longer term results.  I am fully expecting good outcomes given all of the positive online reviews.  Stay tuned for updates.

Before closing, I thought I would share some fun facts I discovered while searching for information about dog feet.

Fritos Feet
What is that corn chip smell??  Why do dogs have feet that smell like Fritos, Cheetos, or popcorn?  Actually, that is totally normal.  The smell comes from natural bacteria that grow on canine paws (mixed with a dog's unique paw sweat gland odor).

Did You Know?
Some dog breeds, think Greyhounds, Dobermans, and Akitas, have "cat feet" (smaller feet with high arches).  These features, along with the lightness of their feet, enhance their endurance.

Pop Quiz
Does your dog have webbed feet?  If so, you should ace this quiz.  In the comment section, please name a breed of dog with webbing between the toes/pads.

Finally, have you had to treat your pet's feet at certain times of year?  If so, what worked well for your four-legged friend?








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Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Heart Waffle Maker Reviewed

Another Way To Say I Love You

heart waffle
Heart Waffles image courtesy of pixabay.com
With Valentine's Day rapidly approaching, I have had hearts on my mind. I found an adorable little kitchen gadget that will allow me to make little heart shaped waffles anytime of the year that I want to. 

The fun part is that with this mini waffle maker you and I are not constrained with just making waffles. Any wet batter will work. So, we can make heart shaped hash browns, paninis or even biscuit dough for a little heart shaped pizza. Now isn't that a fun idea? 

This little waffle maker is very light weight (about a pound) and does not take up much room for storage. It is a perfect size for a small apartment and can even travel with you on vacation. It heats up fairly quickly, too. The one drawback is that it only makes one waffle at a time but it shouldn't take too much time to whip up several due to the miniature size. 

I couldn't help but think of one of my family members who traveled around the country in an RV. This little heart waffle maker would have been great for them to have on their trips because it would pack away nicely in that very limited kitchen area. You are not limited to a heart design, either. There is an option for traditional round waffles if you would rather have them instead of hearts. 

What a fun idea for a house warming gift or a gift for the new bride and groom. Kids can make heart shaped waffles for Mom or Dad on Mother's and Father's day. There are just so many fun ways that this little gadget can be used! I think that it would be such a fun little addition to any kitchen. What about you? Do you think that you would have some fun with it? 




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Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Bamboo Pizza Paddle Reviewed

Convenient Way To Remove Pizza From Oven

pizza
Pizza image courtesy of pixabay.com
I recently received a bamboo pizza paddle and honestly wasn't sure that I would ever use it. To my surprise, I actually love it! Can I tell you how many times that I have burned myself trying to take a pizza out of the oven? Let's just say a lot and leave it at that. 

We have pizza often at our house. There is an establishment near us that makes them for you to take home and bake in your own oven. These pizzas are delicious and this paddle has come in handy when I am ready to remove them. The size of the paddle more than accommodates the size of the pizza and it is so easy to use. Another advantage is that with it being constructed of bamboo, I can take the pizza out of the oven and also use the paddle as a cutting board. 

I don't know if you are aware of this or not so I'll share something about cutting boards and bamboo. This dense wood has become very popular with chefs and cooks around the world for use as a surface to cut fruits, vegetables and meats. Bamboo does not need as much maintenance as some of the other woods that are used for cutting boards. The bamboo doesn't retain water so your board won't become warped or cracked like the others do. Plus bacteria is less likely to grow because there is no water in the wood for it to propagate. Knives do not scar the bamboo as easily as other woods. Those scars can also be a breeding ground for bacteria. Bamboo is earth friendly and easier to grow than say a maple tree. The bamboo will mature in three to six years where a maple won't mature for thirty or more years. 

So, I am loving my bamboo pizza paddle as both a way to remove a hot pizza out of the oven and as a cutting board for the pizza and other foods. It is lightweight and with the handy hole at the end, I can hang it on the side of one of my cabinets for storage. Honestly, I wish that I had purchased one a long time ago. 

What about you? Do you already own one or are thinking that maybe one would be nice to have in your kitchen?



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Friday, January 25, 2019

Velvet Hangers for Clothes Reviewed

Velvet Hangers for Clothes Reviewed
For decades I used plastic hangers because I hated the creases made across the shoulder of my blouses when I used wire hangers. However, I recently started changing out my expensive plastic hangers and replacing them with thin velvet hangers. 

I absolutely love the velvet hangers!

I'll be the first to admit that I am really surprised by how much of a difference the velvet hangers make in my closet.  When I first purchased them, I wanted to see if they would really keep my blouses and sleeveless tops on the hangers.  For years, I have fought the battle of having my blouses slide and fall off the plastic hangers simply because plastic hangers are smooth and slippery.  

What I did not expect was to end up with more room on my closet clothes rod.  



Black Velvet Hangers for Clothes


 Premium Velvet Heavy duty-50 Non Slip Black Suit Clothes Hanger Hook Swivel 360-Ultra Thin, 50 PackCheck PriceSince we have extreme weather during the winters and the summers, I have a lot of seasonal clothes.  During the winter months, I rarely wear anything lightweight or sleeveless.  However, during the hot summer months, you won't catch me wearing sweatshirts.  Unfortunately, that means I have what seems like too many clothes for one person and those clothes take up a lot of room in the closet.  At least six months out of the year, I have sleeveless shirts and lightweight blouses that are not touched.  They just hang there taking up space.  Likewise, the sweatshirts, heavy sweaters and jackets just take up space during the summer.  

I have two rods in my closet for my clothes.  One is above the other.  The lower rod doesn't give me as much grief simply because I can easily reach it and if a second sweater starts to come off the hanger when I am removing one beside it, I can usually catch it before it hits the floor.  However, that is definitely not true for the blouses and tops that hang on the upper rod.  

Before I started using the velvet hangers, I couldn't get dressed without having a second blouse come off the hanger next to the one I was trying to remove.  That was extremely annoying since I was already having to reach up over my head to get a shirt.

By the way, dress slacks don't slip off velvet hangers either!  Just make sure you purchase the ones shown here with the lower pants rod across the bottom of the hanger.


My Introduction to Velvet Hangers


 Home-it 50 Pack Shirt and dress Clothes Hangers Black Velvet Hangers - Ultra Thin No Slip neck (hook) swivelCheck PriceLast summer I needed a few new hangers.  I went to my favorite online shopping place to buy a package of plastic hangers.  When I looked down the page at the "related items", I saw the velvet hangers and I was intrigued.  After reading a few reviews from women stating their clothes didn't fall of these hangers, I bought my first set of velvet hangers.  What a difference those hangers made in my closet!  I no longer have to fight blouses, shirts and tops on all sides just to remove one to wear.  I call that more than awesome!

When winter arrived and I started fighting my sweaters just trying to remove one, I thought to myself, oh no I won't!  I promptly purchased a set of 50 velvet hangers.  Each time I take something out of my closet now to wear, I hang it on a velvet hanger, after it has been laundered, instead of the original plastic hanger.  My closet is being transformed a little at a time.

Now, nothing slips from the hangers and another fabulous unexpected benefit, there is more room on my rods!  Yes, that is right!!!  The velvet hangers are a lot thinner than the plastic hangers and it really does make a difference.  Even though they are thinner (like a wire hanger) they do not make that horrific crease across the shoulders of my blouses.

My battle of the slipping garments has now ended and I will never go back to plastic. 




 



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Thursday, January 24, 2019

Reviewing Dryer Balls







During the Christmas holidays, I was washing a batch of sheets when one family left and another would be staying in the guest room.  I was frustrated because the sheets tangled in the dryer and didn't get dry in the middle.  My daughter was observing this and said "Mom, haven't you tried dryer balls.  They work great to keep things from tangling in the dryer and your clothes get dry faster."  

I had never heard of dryer balls before, but thanks to my thoughtful daughter a bag of the balls were delivered to my house 3 days later.

Features of Dryer Balls

  • Great for people with sensitive skin.  Non-toxic and Hypoallergenic
  • Reduce wrinkles and drying time
  • Eco-friendly way to soften laundry
  • No more tangled laundry
  • Good for 1000-2000 loads
  • Reduce need to iron clothes
  • Minimizes clothes damage and lengthens clothes life
I have been using the balls since I received them.  The bag came with 6 balls so the will last for years.  I put 2-3 balls in each small to medium load of wash and 3-4 balls in a large load.  I am very pleased with the results.


Buy Your Own Dryer Balls

Here is a link to the dryer balls like the ones I use.


                                                                       


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Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Are You in Charge of Someone Else's Health Care?

How to Effectively Be an Advocate for Your Loved Ones

Today many people find themselves in "charge" of a loved one's personal and medical needs. This could be a parent or another relative, or just a really good friend who has no one else to advocate for them. I am in that position on two different fronts. I have my mother and my uncle who are both in their late 80's and finding daily tasks to be more difficult everyday.

While they are in good health generally, there is much that needs to be tracked to keep them that way.

When an emergency hits, then you are in real "trouble", so to speak. And this is why I am here to let you know about a resource that will help you in those stressful times.

What do you do in an emergency?


Just recently I had to call an ambulance for my mother. She could not walk, she was in a lot of pain and she had just been diagnosed with an auto-immune disease that came up out of nowhere. To say I was a little stressed was the understatement of the year. The EMT's (emergency medical team) were wonderful. When they arrived though, they had questions that I should have been able to answer at my fingertips. Because of the stress of the moment, there were things that I forgot about, or did not have the answers too! Who knows if that would have made a difference. All I know is that I was very upset with myself for NOT having all the answers to their important questions. Because of this incident, I have been looking into ways to keep track of her symptoms, medications, dates of surgeries, prognosis (es) and such.

She has seen many different doctors for different episodes in her life, and they are all important!

When the answer to a situation is calling an ambulance, then it is much better for you and for your loved ones, if you have all the answers to all the questions right there in front of you.


Do NOT Rely on Your Memory!


I have called an ambulance for my mother on three different occasions and each one was a "medical emergency". Now you would think that having to call an ambulance would solidify that date in your mind. Well I'm here to tell you that it does not. I had to really rack my brains in order to come up with the year(s) that each of these episodes happened. This is not a good scenario when it comes to emergency medicine. They need to know everything about this person's health in the last 20 years. So unless you have a photographic memory, you should have a written record of each of these episodes readily available. To that end, I have found what I think will work really well for my mother and my uncle. It is a Medical Records Journal!  I cannot stress enough, how important this is.

Keep your Journal Up to Date!  It doesn't help if you don't keep the records for all doctor's appointments.  


I like this Medical Records Journal because it has pages that are removable(for things you don't need, like baby immunizations) or places to add pages(like when they had a flu shot or other procedures).   It  has a place for all the different times that she has been to the doctor for regular check ups and extra space for those times when something else has happened to change the direction of her health care. There are pages for specialists that she has seen, medications that they have prescribed and on-going return visits. I wish I had had one of these just a few weeks  ago.  There is even pages for emergency responses so that you can keep track of who and when they were transported to a hospital.  These are all very important things that you as a care-giver should know and have access to.  No more guessing if the heart attack happened in November of 2010 or January 2011. 


                                              

There are pages in this Medical Journal to keep track of all the information regarding the different physicians that have treated her.  There is space for their names, phone numbers, addresses and more.  You may not think that is important, but I'm here to tell you it is!  


There are pages with envelopes attached where lab results, blood work results and more can be inserted.  Pages of information regarding the patient's "medical issues" and ongoing care can be inserted into the proper spaces too.  Things like blood sugar levels, heart rhythms, kidney dialysis
days, and more.  Everything is in a really nice binder with a clasp, so that nothing goes missing.

https://amzn.to/2DkZd7K. medical journal, keeping records of illness

It is a great resource not only for doctors visits, but for you as well.  I know I listen intently when we are at the doctor's, but I often find myself going over the instructions in my head.  It is much better for you and for the patient, if you have everything written down. When all the emotional upset has cleared, you can revisit exactly what the doctor recommended.  What you hear and what your loved one has heard may be two different things altogether.  Written instructions are the much better alternative.

It is a great responsibility and pleasure to be able to care for a loved one but, it is also stressful.  When they are healthy it's great, but when something out of the ordinary happens, you have to be prepared.


Here's wishing you a Happy Healthy New Year with all your loved ones.

**I am not a doctor, what I have written here comes from my experience. If you are not sure ask your doctor for his/her recommendations.  I am sure they will agree that this is a great resource for you and for your loved ones.








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Monday, January 21, 2019

Kong Cloud Collar Reviewed

The dreaded two words for any dog or cat parent. The Cone. It is tough to be a conehead if you are the pet and sometimes even tougher to be the furball parent of a cat or dog recovering from surgery or an injury who returns home attached with the dreaded cone.

You are not happy. The pet is not happy. But you both will be sharing custody of the new nemesis in your life. The Cone.

Pets acclimating to wearing a cone run into everything and everyone! Imagine walking around with a plastic cone around your head and it is not difficult to imagine the problems it presents with eating, sleeping, playing, napping, squirrel chasing, stairs and the list never ends.

Kong's Cloud Collar


The Kong's Cloud Collar is an inflatable cone akin to an inner tube covered with washable soft fabric designed for comfort while not obstructing the peripheral vision of the pet. One of the main problems with a plastic cone excluding the discomfort is the lack of vision, difficulty navigating and eating from a bowl.

The Cloud Collar is designed to battle the inherent problems of the plastic cone. I purchased the Cloud Collar after my pets' last surgery and found the cone to be quite an improvement over the traditional plastic cone.


Positives Of The Cloud Collar


Easy to quickly put on and easy to take off
Soft
Adjustable collar
Washable
Pet adapted easily

Considerations


The velcro on the cone serves its' purpose to make the size of the cloud collar easily adjustable, however velcro is sticky! The velcro does attract the dog hair depending on whether the dog has fur or hair. My dog happens to be have curly hair which is a velcro attractor.

This is a consideration addressed in the customer comments so I was aware of the velcro consideration and prepared! The work around indeed worked like a charm: simply use one half of an old sock and cover the area on the collar where the velcro attaches.

The other main consideration is the type and location of the injury or wound the cone is trying to protect. A plastic cone generally stops the pet from reaching the area to be protected; the cloud collar provides the pet more mobility and therefore may be able to reach the area. My pet is very nimble and agile (code name gumby) and could reach the surgical area if he was so inclined.

Less Injury For Pet Parents


I still remember not so fondly when my dog in his energetic style of greeting ran full force into my shin with the cone. It was not pretty and surprising how much damage a plastic cone can inflict. The fluffball was no less worse for wear, but my shin was added to the recovery list.

I used a combination of the Cloud Collar and traditional plastic cone for the recovery. My dog definitely preferred the cloud collar and while under supervision I used the cloud collar. It was a nice break for the dog from the plastic cone and as the surgical area improved I used the cloud collar more.

Ten days or more is a long oh so very long time to keep a pet restricted plus wearing a plastic cone. I knew the wheels were starting to fall off when the we were gifted with a ten inch snowfall during the recovery period. Plastic cones are also excellent to scoop snow and throw snow and play with... snow! After being cooped up with snow and pet recovery cabin fever as a craft project we bedazzled the cone; confirmation the wheels had fallen off the snowed in recovery house.

Recommendation


Every pet is different regarding the tolerance of the plastic cone and cloud collar during the recovery phase. It can be a battle to keep any cone on! I recommend the Kong Cloud Collar as a means to aid the recovery while increasing the comfort of the pet and the pet parent.





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Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Valentines Rock For Him Reviewed

A Gift For Him

valentine hearts
Hearts For Him image from pixabay.com
Valentine's Day is rapidly approaching and I have been on the look-out for something to give that special man in my life. I would like to review a gift that I think is pretty neat for my man and might be for yours, also. 

When it comes to that special "him" in our lives it is sometimes difficult to come up with something clever and yet a little on the romantic side. At least it is for me. 

Some of you may not be old enough to remember the "pet rock" fad that swept across the U. S. back in the 1970s but I think a lot of you probably will remember. Just in case you don't recall this phenomenon, I'll give you a little history. Back in 1975 an advertising executive named Gary Dahl came up with the idea of pet rocks. For about six months these rocks were all the rage. Dipping into your wallet for around $4 you could get your own pet or one for someone else that came in a box with breathing holes and straw to keep the little guy or gal comfortable. Apparently, this Mr. Dahl was a bit of a genius because it is estimated that he sold 1.5 million of these quiet little pets that needed no extra care making him a millionaire six times over. Now do you remember? 

I've seemed to digress a little but I felt you should understand why I have picked this particular gift for my honey for Valentine's Day this year. There is some sentiment involved and some nostalgia. That was part of my quest in looking for a gift for him...a bit of nostalgia. I found this particular item that just seemed catch my eye.

I love the sentiment about my heart beating for him and that he is my rock. He truly is, you know. Always there standing firm and strong. Unlike the pet rocks of old, he does need to be fed and looked after but I don't mind doing those things for him at all.

So, what do you think? Would a Valentines Rock for him work this year? 





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Monday, January 7, 2019

Chicago Metallic Commercial II Non-Stick Perforated French Bread Pan Review

Baguette loaf bread pan.
Years ago I purchased a bread pan that I really liked. Currently, with the cold and gloomy weather, I've been in the mood to bake some bread. I have a couple of bread recipes that I can rely on producing successful loaves of bread. The Chicago Metallic Commercial II Non-stick Perforated French Bread Pan is the pan I depend on when I want baguette-style loaves of bread. 

The Chicago Metallic Commercial II Non-stick Perforated French Bread Pan has nearly a 5 star rating on Amazon which supports my belief that the pan is a main reason I'm successfully able to bake these small bread loaves.

The first time I used the pan, I made a small Wheat Irish Soda Bread loaf. I was afraid the dough would stick badly in the perforations and I was afraid the loaf would break. I sprayed the pan very lightly with cooking spray. After the loaf was baked, I ran a spatula along the sides of the bread to make sure it wasn't stuck before I tipped the loaf out of the pan. I was concerned for nothing. The bread was not stuck to the pan at all.  Also, because of the holes and the shape of the pan, the loaves come out evenly baked, nicely shaped, and delicious. 

The Chicago Metallic Commercial pan is non-stick and clean-up is super easy. When I am finished baking and after the pan has cooled a bit, I soak the pan for a couple of minutes in hot soapy water, to get any bits of bread out of the air holes. I follow the soak with a rinse in hot water.

I'm not much of a baker and my skills at baking bread are fairly new. I started with Irish Soda Bread. It was my first success at baking bread because it did not require yeast. It was also a very dense, heavy bread. Later, I became really good at baking two different breads that require yeast: Peasant Bread and Patara's Bread Recipe

I have absolutely nothing negative to say about this pan. I think that everyone who enjoys baking bread should have one of these highly recommended bread pans. I purchased the two-loaf pan but for those of you who bake more than I do there is also a four-loaf pan available.




The next bread I want to learn to bake is a Subway Sunflower Crunch bread. Their bread is delicious. I feel more confident experimenting while using the Chicago Metallic Commercial pan. I hope I am able to find a sufficient copy cat recipe. Wish me luck.

Related Link: 

Sam on Ahead of Thyme blog shares a sunflower seed bread recipe. I have chosen this sunflower seed bread recipe to try first because the ingredients list seems to be the closest to what the Subway restaurant version tastes like to me.





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Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Apps to Help You Learn German in Small Doses: A Review

The Best Way to Learn German or Any Language


The best way to learn a new language is to immerse yourself in it and use it daily. Language is definitely a case of  "Use it or lose it." That's why my two years of college German had almost completely disappeared in the 45 years I didn't have any occasion to use it. A few years after graduation special circumstances compelled me to teach a bit of German to some select elementary students, but then I stopped teaching and started selling books and blogging. Spare time was scarce. I simply wasn't motivated to study when I'd rather be using my leisure time to read. But now I'm motivated since I discovered these two apps for my new Galaxy Note 9 phone.

Apps to Help You Learn German in Small Doses: A Review of Drops and DuoLingo

Small Doses of Language Work Best for Me


Both of the apps I use, Drops and DuoLingo, have very short daily lessons. Both have positive reinforcement built into their programs. You know immediately whether your answers are right or wrong. I have been using both of these for about two weeks now. I got tired of the ads so I bought the paid versions after trying them out. Both programs encourage you by keeping track of what you've accomplished.

In the image above are two images from Drops. The first, in purple, is my page at the end of a session. It shows me how many words I've learned so far and how long my session lasted. It also shows which level I've achieved in my current topic. Underneath the time is a brief review of the words I've learned and reviewed during this session. This is really handy, since some words need more practice than others. Sometimes I haven't quite gotten the pronunciation down. If I click on an image in this section, I will see the English meaning and hear the German pronunciation again. If I still didn't catch it, I can tap again and I will hear the word again --  more slowly. I use this feature a lot.

The second Drops image shows the current topic I'm working on. The yellow lines show how much progress I've made. The yellow stars on the red row of squares underneath indicates that I've mastered the words in those topics.

How Drops Works

I have the premium plan and no longer see ads. I also can choose the length of each session. I think the session length begins at five minutes. I am now doing fifteen minutes a session and often I do two or more sessions a day if I have time. It's fun. It keeps my brain exercising. At the beginning of each session you receive a word drop. It looks like a large water drop and it brings you a new word you haven't yet seen. You also see a picture that represents it and the English meaning as you hear the the pronunciation of the German word. If you don't want to practice that word because you already know it, you swipe it up. If you want to learn or review it, you swipe it down. 

Apps to Help You Learn German in Small Doses: A Review


The next screen shows you the word again and two pictures (far left of image.) It lets you choose the one picture it matches. You hear the German word again. After that you may have any of the other exercises pictured drop down. The rust-colored exercise helps you look more closely at the word and put the parts of the word into the blank spaces below. If you hesitate, they give you a hint of where to start by wiggling one of the ovals. If you've worked with the word a couple of times before they may add another group of letters that isn't a correct part of the word just to make it more challenging.

The blue screen shows one of my least favorite exercises. It's a word search. You get the first letter and have to tap the others in order to spell the word correctly. I've learned how to cheat when I don't know the correct article form and there's a choice. I find the blank oval and tap to get to it because I know it comes right after the article. It's tricky, though. Even if you know how to spell the word (which I often don't) you may have the same correct letter in two different positions you can choose. You have to look ahead to see which leads to spelling the rest of the word. If you guess wrong, the program will correct you until you make the right choice.

There's another spelling game I didn't show you. It has the picture and you have to keep picking letters from a group of a few letters on the bottom until you spell the word. When you pick a letter, another moves into its place, so you don't see all the choices at the beginning.

My favorite game is the last one -- the matching game. I don't have to spell anything for this one. I just tap the pairs that match. No matter which game, once you make the correct choice, you will hear the word that is the correct answer repeated again. Approaching the word in so many different ways -- as a whole, as an image, letter by letter, section by section, and as sound -- helps your brain cement it in your memory. Words you studied at the beginning keep reappearing in later lessons so that you don't get a chance to forget them. You can probably tell I really like this app. You can use it easily on a phone or a computer.




What I Don't Like So Much about Drops


Overall, I enjoy using Drops, but there are a couple of things I don't like. Part of the reason is in the program itself and part of it is my own lack of knowledge. I have a problem with the artwork. Now I definitely could not do better myself, but I have trouble figuring out what some pictures are supposed to be. Here are some examples in the screenshot below.

Apps to Help You Learn German in Small Doses: A Review of Drop and DuoLingo
Screenshot from the Drops App. Get more information here.

I had no problem with the words and pictures on the left side of this screenshot from the review at the end of the session. But I had a tough time figuring out just what that man on the right top corner was doing. I thought maybe he was doing some sort of dance. I had to check the English translation, which was "I like." Yes, his thumbs are up. But when I hear the words, this is the image with which I associate it. Verbs are hard to illustrate.

My other problem was probably one I inherited from my mother who used to keep a novel inside her geography book during class. I'm not very good at identifying countries other than my own by their map shapes and/or flags. So it's only the German word that helped me recognize Greece (lower right corner of image.) When we learn the words for nationalities instead of the countries, we keep the flag and instead of the map there is a common object or a building often associated with the country. I had no trouble figuring out that bagpipes were Scottish, but many buildings in Eastern European countries seemed similar to each other. So I had to learn flags, country shapes, and architecture along with the language. I suppose that's good, but it confused me. That's why I started to pull out the old German books from college and the children's illustrated German dictionary  I used to sell. Those books  were great supplements to the apps.

Visual dictionaries for children are very good even for adults beginning the study of a foreign language. Here are two of the best available now. Mine are out of print.



DuoLingo or Drops?


I find DuoLingo boring. There is little color as far as I've gotten. It's more like doing textbook exercises on the computer. I understand the logic behind it, but maybe I should be at a more advanced level than I chose. It seems the several short sessions I completed never got past various ways of mixing these words (in German and English, in and out of sentences) : man, woman, men, women, boy, boys, girl, girls, is, are, he, she, it, you, they, the, a, and that. They were used in questions and statements. I realize this is establishing basic sentence patterns and teaching forms of the verb "to be" and singular and plural nouns, pronouns and articles. It's still boring. More color and variety in activities would go a long way to making this more fun.  Below is the screenshot of a scorecard after a brief review exercise. These are the instructions and the right answers. 


Apps to Help You Learn German in Small Doses: A Review of Drops and DuoLingo

Below is a screenshot of the correction screen for one of the exercises above. This is about as visually exciting as it's gotten so far. I'll let you guess which app I use most often. 



In all fairness, I have not explored all the options in this app yet, even though I have paid for the premium version. I have not joined a club  to practice with other people. I can't find one in my community, and now I'm beginning to wonder if I misunderstood that. 

I did check out the stories -- one reason I got this version. They aren't very exciting.  More like the dialogues in beginning textbooks. Bilingual children's books are much more interesting and colorful. Check out the wide variety on Amazon. Many of them are available to read for free on Kindle Unlimited. That's how I've been able to read so many of them this week. Some with very familiar stories are only in German. I will need to improve my skills before I'm ready to read those, but they are on my wish list.

In my opinion Duolingo is like a textbook put on a computer. You hear or read German and write what you see or hear in English. Or you do the opposite. I can only use this program on the computer because I can't seem to switch to a German keyboard on my phone. To be able to hear and speak comfortably I need to be on my MAC because my headsets for speaking and listening on my PC are somewhat uncomfortable for a complete session.

I probably would not buy the paid Plus version of DuoLingo if I had it to do over. It does give me a kind of practice Drops doesn't have, but it is more academic than I wanted in an app. Drops is much more fun and I seem to learn better with that kind of practice. I have a stack of German texts if I want to study the subject academically. 


Apps to Help You Learn German in Small Doses: A Review
My College Texts and German References with Other Books I've Picked up Since Then
© B. Radisavljevic



My Current Plan for Studying German


My daily routine includes at least one session of using the Drops app a day, and I do it first thing in the morning on my phone before I get out of bed. That's the only way to make sure I get it done. I  also keep the Beginner's German Dictionary close to me in case I want to use it for visual review. It's a picture dictionary I used to sell. It's now out of print. For visual learning it's hard to beat Usborne books, but you can only get most of them used now. I don't think one book in my stack above is still in print, since I've had most of these for over fifty years.

Books in my stack are good for reference and review, but I need to update the dictionary. Many words have been added to the language since 1964. Here's my wish list to supplement my references. I didn't really see an adult dictionary I want yet. I will stick to the one I have until I find a more useful one. The DK Visual Dictionary (below) will have some of the more modern words in it. It will serve my purpose since it is intended for adults.

I also will keep downloading German or bilingual picture books I can read for free on Kindle Unlimited.  There are also many books there on how to learn German that I have downloaded to evaluate. When I have a bit more vocabulary, I will get the story book below. I need more experience with using the language. I hope to find my German Christmas carol book I got in college and start singing the carols again. I have some on CD's and can also listen to German music free as part of my Amazon Prime Membership. I've already found some great children's songs in German.


The most recent thing I've done is start following people on Instagram who speak German . This allows me to see how Germans actually speak informally to each other and I can read the German memes and jokes they post. I have found some real goodies so far. One of the most helpful accounts I follow is German for Mummies. Every day it posts a cute cartoon drawing with labeled thematic photos. Most of the posts include simple sentences using words in the drawing. Here's one of my favorite posts from the feed: a frog in a pond.

 I hope if you want to learn German, too, some of my ideas, reviews, and recommended materials may help you. Feel free to ask questions in the comments or talk to me on Instagram or Twitter. And don't forget to follow this blog, Review
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