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

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? 





Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

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.





Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

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.

 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.







Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Hamilton Beach Wave Crusher Blender Reviewed

Make Milkshakes or Smoothies With A Blender

milkshake
Milkshake image courtesy of pixabay.com
Santa brought me a new blender with a travel jar this year for Christmas. I thought that a review of it was in order today. To be honest I didn't ask Santa for a blender and was a little disappointed when I unwrapped the box. I had asked for a milkshake maker so that I could make my own milkshakes. I already have a blender; never mind that it is probably 30 years old or older. The point is that I have a blender and I can make a milkshake in it but it isn't quite the same. When I looked at the box, I couldn't help but think that Santa did not have his listening ears on when I made my simple request. I should have known that most of the time he knows what I need better than I do. 

So, on Christmas morning I am trying very hard to hide my disappointment while secretly thinking that I really don't need another blender. After all of our gifts had been opened, I took the box out to the kitchen to try and figure out where I would put this second blender. As I begin to remove the parts from the box, I ungratefully think that this new one doesn't do even half the functions that my old one does. The little devil sitting on my left shoulder was working overtime to make me think negative thoughts! The little angel on my right shoulder says, "Now, be nice and give it a chance! Look a little closer, dear."  I look at the function buttons and realize that I had rushed to judgement unfairly. The functions are: Mix Milkshake, Puree Smoothie, Dice Chop, Grind Crush Ice. "Well, smack me with butter and call me a biscuit! Maybe Santa had done better research than I had." The little devil grunts and rolls her eyes but the little angel smiles her approval.

Suffice it to say, that I absolutely love the Hamilton Beach Blender with a travel jar that Santa picked out for me. I can make a milkshake in the 40 oz glass jar or I can make one in the 20 oz glass travel jar. The Wave Crusher Blender is really versatile. It is pretty ingenuous, really. The base will hold either jar securely. You see, the blade attaches to the large jar or the smaller one and then to the base. The removable blade makes for a really easy and thorough cleaning, too. No more worry about slicing my fingers while trying to clean the blade! Trust me, that is a real advantage in my case because I have a history of cutting myself with sharp objects. I think they call it the clumsy gene or something like that. 

I have already made a few milkshakes with this new little tool and I was able to find a place on the counter for it. Currently, my favorite is a chocolate peanut butter concoction but I am sure that I will come up with some other ideas as this new year rolls on. I may get brave and make a few fruit smoothies sometime soon. 

Santa knew what he was doing and I am very happy with his choice. I think you might be happy with one, also. 

May this new year bring you much joy, laughter and love! 



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

How to Clean Silver & Other Metals

An unexpected product that cleaned our silver
like nothing ever has!
For the past thirty-five years I've cleaned our silver using an electrolytic cleaning plate. I bought the plate in 1980's. It's a common and popular way to clean silver.

An electrolytic cleaning plate works with hot water and a water softener, Calgon. I've never used another water softener with it, only Calgon.

I wanted to clean the silver today and was out of Calgon, so thanks to google I tried baking soda and Borax with the cleaning plate. Neither worked very well. 

My husband, the car cleaning fanatic saw me struggle trying to clean the silver and jumped in and said, "I have a product that will clean that". When he demonstrated it, I was shocked at how amazing it worked!

Get this, he used Mothers Mag and Aluminum Polish for All Metals. He uses it to clean many items, including the rims on the car wheels. He swears by it.

The best way to explain this product is to show you via the photos featured below:

Our Silver Tea Set was Severely Tarnished
(The photo is blurry because it's cropped from a larger photo)

Unfortunately I hadn't cleaned our silver tea set all year. By the time the holidays rolled around, the tea set was a mess. As mentioned above, I used the electrolytic cleaning plate but it didn't work well because I was out of water softener. However, the electrolytic cleaning plate has NEVER cleaned the silver like this.

Here's Our Tea Set after Hubby Used 
Mother's Mag and Aluminum Polish on it!

This is not an exaggeration, our set has never looked this clean! It looks almost new now. Hubby didn't just do this quickly though, he was thorough. Check out the photos below for the steps to follow.
He Used a Toothbrush to Clean the Pieces
Where Intricate Areas Need Detailed Attention

I had already attempted to clean the above piece using the electrolytic cleaning plate, but it just didn't come clean without Calgon. So again, hubby used Mother's Mag and Aluminum Polish on it. He detailed it using a toothbrush.

Here's the finished result! 

I'm shocked at how amazing the Mag and Aluminum Polish works! Our silver hasn't looked this clean for years.

Here's a Close-up of our Polish
Step by Step How-to Instructions:
  1. Apply polish on the surface with a microfiber cloth
  2. For detailed hard to clean areas use a toothbrush
  3. With the toothbrush work the polish into all the crevices and tight spots
  4. You can put a cloth over the toothbrush to help get into the tight spots
  5. Let it dry for three or four minutes
  6. Then remove the polish with a microfiber cloth, keep using multiple cloths if they get too dirty
  7. Repeat until the product is cleaned
  8. When done, give it a final polish with the microfiber cloth
  9. The final step is to clean the silver with a little bit of dish soap and water. Give it a quick wipe down, then dry it. You don't need to submerge the pieces in water. Just dip the cloth in water, wipe the silver piece, then dry it thoroughly.
Note, my husband cleaned our silver tea set and five other pieces in just over two hours.

If I had to choose between an Electrolytic Cleaning Plate and the Mother's Mag and Aluminum Polish, it's the Mag and Aluminum Polish all the way!



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Fabulous Heavy Duty Gift Wrap Storage Bag Reviewed

Fabulous Gift Wrap Wrapping Paper Storage Bag Reviewed
Last year, I purchased a fabulous gift wrap storage bag from Current catalog.  I didn't know if I would like it or not, but the price was right and I had very little to lose by trying it.  I knew if it worked for me, I would be thrilled to have a protective way to store my wrapping paper from year to year.

As it turns out, this is one of the best purchases I have ever made!

Like most gift givers, I spend a lot of money on wrapping paper.  I love to have pretty gifts under the tree.  Or, an attractively wrapped gift for birthdays and other occasions.  However, I don't like dirty or ripped paper and I often end up buying new wrapping paper annually for Christmas or even if I have only one gift to wrap.  I have always known that it was a waste of money to buy a whole roll for one gift, but I won't give a gift unless it is attractively wrapped.  I have been known to even re-wrap a gift if I don't think it is pretty.

Gift Wrap Clear Vinyl Storage Bag - 8-1/2" x 31" Long

Gift Wrap Clear Vinyl Storage Bag - 8-1/2" x 31" Long

 

Clear Wrapping Paper Storage Bag

https://amzn.to/2URIYFZ
There are several things I really love about this wrapping paper storage bag.  To start with, I love that it is clear and I can see the paper being stored without opening the bag.  I really do hate having to hunt for a specific wrapping paper just to wrap a gift.

I also love that it keeps my wrapping paper clean and pretty, ready to be used immediately.  When I stored my wrapping paper in the shipping box, not only could I not see what was inside without opening the box, but the paper would often get creased or even torn when the box was moved around.

Since I store my Christmas wrap in my attic, I am especially thrilled that no attic dwellers or debris can get inside the bag and be my special Christmas surprise. 

This storage bag is large enough to hold 8 - 10 rolls of wrapping paper, depending on their size.  As you can see in the photo, it will hold the longer wrapping paper rolls too, or you could use that top space for bows, ribbon, tape, and other wrapping supplies.

I absolutely love the handles!  The top handle makes it easy for me to carry down the attic stairs and the reinforced double handle on the sides make it easy for me to carry from room to room.  The zipper top allows easy access, plus keeps the storage bag closed up tight when not stored.  

I sure wish I had this wrapping paper storage bag sooner!  I carefully select our annual Christmas paper and I wish some of our older paper was still in good enough condition to use.  It would be a tremendous money saver to be able to use the leftover paper.

I should add that I also have a separate gift wrap storage bag for birthday wrapping paper.  I keep it in our hall coat closet for extremely easy access.  I just reach in and grab the bag when I need to wrap a gift.  The only way it could be easier, or better, is if the gift would wrap itself.

The featured wrapping paper storage bag is available on Amazon or directly from Current catalog.  Both are linked below for your shopping convenience. 

Click Here to Buy from Amazon




For More Gift Wrapping Reviews, Check Out These Articles 




Read More Product Reviews On
ReviewThisProducts.com

 


House of Sylvestermouse



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Sleep Better with the Amtooch Sleep Mask: A Review

The Amtooch Sleep Mask Really Does Block Light


I'm a night owl who generally tries to sleep between 2 am and 10 am. I have a rechargeable power failure nightlight in my room and lights from many electronic helpers which charge next to my bed at night. One of these is my new Galaxy Note 9 Smartphone. I charge it next to my bed because its Relaxio App helps me block out noise and get to sleep faster. In the morning when the sun rises, it sends bright light through the mini blinds over my east-facing window.

Sleep Better with the Amtooch Sleep Mask: A Review
Amtooch Sleep Mask and Ear Plugs with a Case for Storing Each


I finally bought a sleep mask a couple of years ago that helped block out most of that light. (See A Review of Products that Help Me Get a Good Night's Sleep.) I used that Bedtime Bliss sleep mask for three years, but the elastic in it finally got so weak it no longer fit snugly enough to do its job properly. So this year I decided to replace it. I choose the Amtooch mask instead because it does an even better job of blocking light.

What I Really Like about the Amtooch Sleep Mask



  • It has a really snug fit. 
  • It's comfortable
  • It does a great job of blocking light
  • It comes with a convenient attractive carrying case
To completely block light, a sleep mask has to have a snug fit. Although both the Bedtime Bliss mask and the Amtooch mask are contoured to be three-dimensional, the nose opening is different. Unless your nose is the exact size as the indentation in the Bedtime Bliss mask, it will let a little light seep through no matter how snugly the elastic strap fits. 

The Amtooch mask doesn't attempt to fit your exact nose size. It has a slit for the bridge of a nose to fit through. When you adjust the mask properly, the indentation adjusts so there is no space for light to come through. Look closely at the top photo in the image below. That mustache-shaped foam around the nose helps seal the light out. The Bedtime Bliss is flat around the nose and some light seeps in. (I increased the exposure on that image so you could see the nose spaces in more detail. The bottom part of the top photo shows the inside of the Amtooch mask and the outside of the Bedtime Bliss mask. The outside view of both masks shows in the bottom photo. 

Sleep Better with the Amtooch Sleep Mask: A Review


I was really impressed with how snugly the Amtooch mask fit me without making my head feel like it was in a vise. The masks use two different types of elastic and have different ways of adjusting. The Bedtime Bliss strap closes with Velcro with no way to make it tighter. When the elastic starts to go, you can't adjust it any tighter.  The Amtooch strap adjusts by pulling the elastic through metal adjustment slides until the mask fits your head exactly. Because it is tight enough for a firm hold to my head, it doesn't slip and let light in when I sleep on my side and the mask connects with my pillow.

Who Needs the Amtooch Sleep Mask?


Anyone who needs a darker sleeping environment needs this. That includes day sleepers, those who need to sleep in a work environment or in a hospital. I used my Bedtime Bliss mask when I was in the hospital after surgery in 2014. I still had a problem with noise, but at least it was dark enough to sleep, and that helps. This also would have helped when I shared a dorm room with someone whose habits were different than mine. (Or helped my roommate when she went to bed first.)

I take both the sleeping mask and my Marpac noise machine if we need to sleep in a motel when we travel. Motels often have lights coming through the window and doors banging in the hall or outside in the parking lot. There is also electronic light in motel rooms from the television, a charging phone, or, in my case, my husband's CPAP machine he needs to help him breathe when he's asleep.

Maybe you know someone who needs a sleep mask as a gift. There's no gift quite like better sleep. Get one for someone you love. 

A Note about the Ear Plugs Included in the Package


Before there were any alternatives, I think I tried every kind of ear plug available to sleep through my husband's snoring. It was so loud that when we were at family camp on Catalina Island, I could find my way in the dark to the cabin from the beach, a walk of at least a block, late at night, just by listening. I always was a night owl.


 The only ear plugs I ever found somewhat effective were the Mack's Silicone Putty Earplugs. I could mold them to the shape of my ear and they stayed in. Eventually all ear plugs began to cause pain in my left ear and I stopped using them in favor of white noise. I never found any ear plugs that completely blocked noise. The best just lowered the volume.

I tried the ear plugs that came in the package with the Amtooch mask by putting them in my ears for a few minutes. I realize that's not a really fair trial. But they are made of foam, and foam ear plugs have never done much to even lower the volume of the noise a little. These didn't do much either. I just consider them an extra that was in the package so I could get the mask. You may have better luck. If you really need to get rid of disturbing noises at night or any other time, either use the Mack's EarPlugs if you prefer ear plugs, get the Marpac white noise machine, use the free Relaxio app on your smartphone, or find another source of white noise. White noise not only covers up most annoying sounds, but it often is soothing and relaxing.

I wish you a great night's sleep. 

Sleep Better with the Amtooch Sleep Mask: A Review
Have Mask, Will Sleep. My photo edited with PicMonkeyBasic




All photos not included in Amazon's ads were taken by me of products I have purchased. I used both PicMonkey and Fotor editing programs to assist in editing these images.


Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Monday, December 17, 2018

How to Make Super Easy Gingerbread Cookies

If you have wanted to make gingerbread men but are too intimidated or short on time I have a great kitchen cheat for you! Even I was able to successfully bake these cookies with Wilton Gingerbread Man Cookie pans and Betty Crocker Gingerbread Cookie Mix. However, please note that the Betty Crocker Gingerbread Cookie mix is "limited edition". Perhaps it is only seasonal. So stock up now for your future gingerbread cookie-baking adventures.


Betty Crocker Gingerbread Cookie Mix



I depend on cookie mixes. And have had really good luck with the Snickerdoodle and the Peanut Butter flavors. So it was an easy thing for me to buy the Betty Crocker Gingerbread Cookie Mix.


I followed the directions on the bag to make the cookie dough. The ingredients list is super short:

  • bag of cookie mix 
  • stick of butter 
  • one egg 
  • tablespoon of water.

I split the dough in half - using one half for each pan - and dropped by small spoonfuls into the pans. 





Wilton Gingerbread Man Cookie Pan


When I saw these adorable cookie pans at a local big box store, I could not resist. I'm not at all skilled with baking, but I really wanted to try these shaped cookie pans. I have had a great time making these cookies and I think these would be fun pans to use when baking with a child.

The pans are nearly 12" tall! They are non-stick (I still used a very light coating of spray cooking oil). And the pans have raised details that create slight indentations in the finished cookies. The indentations can be guides for icing placement. I left mine plain (I tell myself that because I left the frosting off the cookies were a "healthier" version of cookie!)


Big Gingerbread Man cookie pans by Wilton



Super Easy Gingerbread Cookie Pros and Cons



The best things about these super easy gingerbread cookies are that they are quick, easy, and tasty. Minimal time is spend in the kitchen and the cookies are oh so good.

When the pans are filled using the "dropped by small spoonfuls" technique the cookies are big and soft (similar to a brownie). I prefer that type of cookie.

My picky-eater friend said that the flavor was very good. I agree.

The possible "cons" of these cookies are that these are not the gingerbread cookies your grandmother made. If you are looking for original gingerbread men, this may not be what you are looking for. 

These cookies were not the "crispy"/"crunchy"  original style of gingerbread men. 

I have made these cookies using these pans three times. I have learned that the gingerbread dough does not "spread" during baking as much as some other cookie dough. So my first attempts resulted in the hands and feet not being fully formed. On my most recent attempt, I dropped small spoonfuls of dough in the cookie pans feet and hands. That created fully formed hands and feet.

My next attempt will include pressing the dough down into the pan to see if the result with be the thinner and more crunchy cookies. 




Related Link:


Do you love Snickerdoodles? 
Do you prefer super thick, cake-like cookies?  

Me too! 

Check out my Easy Snickerdoodle Cookie Pie recipe. 




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Reviewing How To Reboot Your Body

reviewing how to reboot your body
The end of the year is often a time for reflection  and our New Years start off with  promises to ourselves of keeping good habits, kicking bad habits, taking time out for gratitude and other things.

This year I started my January by doing Arbonne's 30 Days to Healthy Living and Beyond plan and I felt fantastic on it.   This plan is a great way to basically give your body a reboot!

I will be 'rebooting my body' again in January 2019 and I'm going to review the reasons why as well as the what, whys and hows of the plan.

Why I Love The Basic Principles of The 30DTHL Plan


There are three principles behind the plan as I see it -
  • First foods that are often allergenic, acidic or hard for the body to digest are eliminated - don't worry it's only for 30 days!
  • Second, you nourish your body with good, clean food and quality supplements.
  • Thirdly you support your body as it goes through it's rebooting process.
Doesn't that sound good?  This was what attracted me to this plan as I had discovered over 10 years ago that a certain food could cause my Rheumatoid Arthritis to flare up and yet other foods that cause other people to flare up didn't appear to affect me.

The idea of eliminating and then (this plan does include the words and beyond) re-introducing the different foods gradually so that you can see how they may or may not affect you, this idea is one that I think is brilliant.  Everyone is different, but I do think that everyone would benefit from a reboot at least once so that they can find out how different foods affect them.

I also love how the importance of nourishing your body correctly is handled.  This program provides you with protein powder to use twice a day leaving you to only have to prepare one meal a day (and snacks).  Initially I was a little unsure how I felt about this, however if I had to prepare three meals to the proportions recommended and not including processed foods I would probably not have lasted the whole 30 days.

We live busy lives and that's what Arbonne gets.   The protein powders are specially formulated (and by the way all of the products are vegan, gluten-free & kosher) and although I was skeptical about them filling me up they really do!   If you don't want shakes that's fine as you can cook with the protein powder too and there are recipes available for protein porridge, pancakes and lots more ideas.

Personally I love making up a shake in the morning as I find it quick, easy and filling.   On the weekends I will often treat myself to a smoothie bowl -

https://www.reviewthisreviews.com/2018/05/reviewing-smoothie-bowl-recipes.htmlReviewing Smoothie Bowl Recipes
A smoothie bowl is essentially a thick smoothie that is served up in a bowl with a variety of toppings. It is delicious and feels like a decadent treat while also being a very healthy choice.

Gently supporting your body in a delicious way with their herbal tea and body cleanse is also great.   If you live in the US, Canada or the UK you also get what they call Digestion Plus to take every day and this works wonders on your gut health which is really important.

Who Needs to Reboot Their Body?

I think most of us need to reboot our body at some point so that it's working efficiently.  I think of when my internet connection is dropping out or just seems to hang, the first thing I do is hit the reset button on my wifi router and 99% of the time that's all it takes.

So why would you need to hit the reset button on your body?  Well let me list a few symptoms that may show your body isn't working as well as it could be -


signs you may need to detox
  • Bloating
  • Bad Breath 
  • Feeling Tired
  • Dry Lips 
  • Insomnia
  • Sore Muscles 
  • Hormonal Imbalance
  • Low Libido 
  • Brain Fog
  • Skin Breakouts 
  • Headaches
  • Depression 
  • Gas
  • Skin Rashes 
  • Low Energy


What Do I Get with the 30 Day Pack?


When you order the plan you will receive 2 x bags of protein, 2 x boxes of herbal tea, 2 x boxes of fizz sticks, 1 x bag of fibre, 1 x box digestion plus*, 1 x box of Body Cleanse and 1 x tub of Greens Balance.

*Only available in the US, Canada & UK

You also get access to a private coaching group on facebook, a downloadable recipe book, 30 days worth of meal plans (both vegan and non-vegan plans) and you can message me any time.   I've actually done this plan a few times so can help with any questions you have.

30 days to healthy living and beyond - rebooting your body the healthy way
30 Days to Healthy Living and Beyond

Changes I Have Personally Experienced


When I did my first 30 days to healthy living I found that I had lost 5kg (11 lb), I had lots of energy, I wasn't experiencing any mood swings (I am menopausal and these had been quite bad), my hot flushes had stopped, my sleeping had improved, my energy levels were really high and (as a total surprise) I was no longer sore or stiff in the morning when I woke up.

Now that last point was a big surprise to me as I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis approx 16 years ago.  I had come off of my medications about a decade ago and had been managing my condition with diet & lifestyle.   I had accepted, however, that I would be stiff in the mornings and sometimes a little sore - a combination of RA and getting older.   I have discovered that while doing this plan that was no longer the case and hasn't been all year!

Now I'm not claiming that this will work for everyone, but I can't think why you wouldn't give it a try!

What Happens After the Reboot


Part of the health reboot is eliminating certain foods for 30 days, now if you want to maximize the effect of this plan you need to gradually reintroduce these foods one at a time over the following few weeks.   This way you can pinpoint which foods (if any) effect you.

Foods can affect you differently as you age as well.  When we get older our bodies produce less digestive enzymes and this is why when I was on an elimination diet over a decade ago only one food seemed to effect me.   I now know that I have to reduce how often I eat other foods too.

The other thing that will happen after you've been making your clean meals for one meal a day (most people have dinners, but you may have chosen lunch) is that it's much easier to make your second meal as well.   I admit that a number of people I know actually continue to have a smoothie for their breakfast after finishing the plan.   In my case it's because it's easy, yummy and keeps me full!

Interested in Learning More?


Contact me via messenger on my Facebook page or leave a comment below and I'll get back to you with more information including how to order it at a discount.





Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Immersion Hand Blender Reviewed

Easy Way To Blend or Puree Foods

tomato soup
Soup probably pureed with an Immersion Blender
image courtesy of pixabay.com 
I don't own an immersion hand blender yet but I want one pretty darned bad. So, I thought I would review the one that I think that I will purchase in the near future. 

The main reason that I want one of these hand held blenders is that I love tomato soup and I want to be able to make my own. In order to get the correct consistency the soup needs to be pureed. Now, cooking up a big pot of tomatoes for soup and then having to pour batches of it into a regular blender is a pain in the royal keester. For one thing there is the most likely possibility that I will burn myself or spill quite a lot while trying to maneuver the contents from pot to blender. There is also the time involved! Not to mention that the clean-up will be a hot mess! I would have to clean up the pot that the soup is cooked in, the blender and the pot that I would need to put the pureed soup into while going through the blending process. An immersion blender solves all of those obstacles. 

With a hand held blender I can just puree the tomatoes in the pot that they have cooked in eliminating the use of so many tools, the burn factor and the spill factor. Easy peasy lemon squeezy! 

So, I have been looking at my options and there are several to choose from. I can go the expensive route or I can try to save myself a little money. I decided that maybe the best route to pursue is the one that most folks seem to be happy with. So, I looked at ones that have the best reviews and then picked the one that is marked as Amazon's choice; which by the way, happens to have the best review history.

Here is the model that I believe I will purchase after the holidays. There is a possibility that Santa might leave me one so that is why I plan to wait. 

I like that it has two attachments. One for blending and a whisk. So, I will be able to puree all sorts of foods or easily whisk ingredients for many recipes. There are six speeds so that should be handy, too. I will be able to make smooth and wonderful tomato soup or wonderful fruit smoothies. I think my possibilities will only be limited by my own imagination.

I think it might be helpful if I let you on something. Depending on the cook these hand blenders are known as immersion blenders or sometimes they are called emulsion blenders. Those two words are describing the same tool.

How about you? Do you own an immersion hand blender? If not, do you think it would be something that you would use? Not only do I plan on using mine a lot but I think this is a wonderful idea as a wedding gift or a holiday gift for your favorite cook. 



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Snowglobes are Great Gifts and Seasonal Decor

Holiday snowglobes on Review This!
There is something magical about snowglobes. It doesn't seem logical. After all, Snowglobes are simply water-filled globes of glass (or plastic) encasing some sort of item or scene. Shake the globe and the little flakes begin to "snow". But there is something special about that frozen moment in time surrounded by the movement of falling snow.

At this time of year, snowglobes always come to my mind. They are a wonderful part of holiday decorations. Because holiday snowglobes are offered in such a wide variety of styles they can also be very thoughtful gifts. Each one individualized to reflect special interests of the giver or the receiver. Snowglobes range from the tiny plastic trinkets that you can find at just about any souvenir gift shop to high-quality pieces of seasonal art that can be enjoyed and passed down for generations. 


Santa Claus Snowglobes



This review came to mind after recently purchasing a beautiful snowglobe depicting Santa's workshop. There was a piece of synchronicity that led me to thoughts of how special snowglobes can be. 

Scenes with Santa are my favorite snowglobes. And there are MANY Santa scenes to choose from:
  • Seated in his workshop with the elves, making toys. 
  • Flying in his sleigh through the snowy sky. 
  • Dressed in his suit with the huge bag of toys slung over his shoulder. 
  • Seated with a child seated on his knee
Santa's Workshop - musical snowglobe


Musical Snowglobes


Some snowglobes come with a music box option. Typically, the music box key is under the base of the snow globe. Simply turn the globe over, turn the key a few times, then place the snowglobe on the table to watch the snow and listen to the tune.

Tunes that are as familiar as Jingle Bells and as traditional as Oh Holy Night can be found with some snowglobes.


Religious Snowglobes



A variety of religious scenes are depicted in snowglobes. From angels to the nativity scenes (simple and ornate) a snowglobe reminding us of the "reason for the season" can be found.


Nativity - musical snowglobe



Snowglobes and Nature Scenes



In the areas of the world that have four seasons and the possibility of snow during the holidays, snowy naturescapes are reminiscent of Christmas. Trees drop their leaves and make unique silhouettes against the sky. Native backyard birds are easier to see against the white background of snow. Polar bears, penguins, and white hares are wildlife that are often associated with a winter wonderland. 


Penguin snowglobe - plays "Let It Snow"



Baby's First Christmas Snowglobe



Special occasions, such as baby's first Christmas, can be commemorated with an engraved snowglobe. And those globes can last a lifetime.

Baby's 1st Christmas snowglobe



Snowglobes with Favorite Movies, Places, Things



Perhaps your family has made a tradition of watching the Nutcracker during the holidays. Or watching the Wizard of Oz has become an annual event as the holidays approach. 

Maybe you've traveled during the holidays and want a reminder of those special places.


Whatever your holiday traditions include, chances are good that there is a snowglobe that gives a shout out to those special memories.

design courtesy of pixabay.com

Whether you are looking for long-lasting holiday decorations or a special gift for that special someone, snowglobes are a great choice. 

My love of snowglobes was recently renewed during an incident of coincidence. Or maybe it wasn't coincidence at all. I'm not completely sure. If you would like to read about how I came to own my most recent Santa Claus snowglobe you can read about it on my personal blog. 


Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.