Monday, December 31, 2012

(Product Review) Checks Unlimited Online Store

Checks Unlimited Online Store

Product Rating: 5

Community Rating: Very Helpful

In these days of debit cards and online bill payments, I don't use nearly the amount of paper checks that I used to. Still, there are times when paper checks become necessary, so I always like to make sure I have plenty on hand. Years ago, I used to order them directly from my bank or credit union, however I found that I was paying several times as much per check when purchasing them this way. I was happy to find Checks Unlimited because they offered me a variety of check designs for much less than what I was paying through my financial institution.

When I originally discovered this company, it was through an advertisement in a magazine. I tore the coupon from the magazine, filled in my information, and sent away for my checks. Since that time, I have placed multiple orders through the Checks Unlimited Online Store.

The site is easy to navigate. Along the top of the page you can click the appropriate tab for personal checks, business checks, accessories, special offers and more. At the bottom of the page are sections including how to order checks, why you should order them online, tracking your order, site map, a frequently asked questions section, and more.

The selection is good with over 110 different check designs. Some of the featured designs include a variety of special edition checks. The designs offered change from time to time, so be sure to pick up those you want right away. Included in these designs are Harley-Davidson, Disney Princesses, Looney Tunes, Pirates of the Caribbean, Precious Moments, Batman, American Heroes, and many more. You can even get checks with your own photographs as a background.

Not only can you choose from a large variety of check designs, but you can also pick up address labels, checkbook registers and covers, self-inking address stamps, and more. I have been quite impressed with the variety of items available from this online store.

These checks start at around $19 per box of single checks and $22 per box for duplicates. Of course, some checks such as the photo impressions cost a bit more, ranging from $23.95 for singles to $27.95 for the carbonless duplicate checks. Discounts are available when purchasing multiple boxes, for new customers, and sometimes for for return customers.

To order your checks, simply choose the design, format (one or two part checks), and quantity of checks you wish to order. Add any offer codes you may have. These are sometimes found online, and often on the site itself.

Next you will need to personalize your order by adding the required information about your financial institution including your routing number, account number, and check starting number, as well as your last name and zip code. Then, add your name and address as you would like it to appear on the checks. Be certain that this information matches the information on file with your bank. Depending on the product being ordered, you may then be given customization options such as customized fonts, symbols, or a personalized message for an additional charge.

Once your information has been submitted, you can choose your delivery option. You can choose standard delivery which takes up to 10 business days at no additional charge, secure trackable delivery for 4-6 day delivery for around $9, or a couple of other options including an in-plant rush to expedite your order for an additional charge. I have only ever used the standard delivery option, but always got my checks within 8-10 days.

Be certain to look over the order summary to be sure that everything is as it should be before finalizing your order so you don't get any surprises when your checks arrive. Even though your financial information is verified through your bank before printing, some typos such as transposed telephone digits may not be caught.

To finalize your order you will need to enter your credit card information and complete the checkout process. You will be taken to a confirmation screen which you can print out for your records if desired. You should also get an email confirming the receipt of your order.

Depending on the delivery option you have chosen, you should recieve your checks within a few days. You should verify the information on your checks right away in case there are any problems. They have a have a 100% satisfaction guarantee on their products, so if items are not printed as ordered, you can call their tollfree number and get them replaced. I have not needed to use their customer service, but it is nice to know that it is available if needed.

The checks I purchased from this company were every bit as good as the ones I got from my bank. They have security features including chemical protection, erasure protection and microprint signature line. The main differences in these checks and the ones I have purchased from the bank were the price and the variety of designs available. I would recommend this store and their products to anyone who uses paper checks.

Originally published on Epinions.

(Product Review) Disney Princess Christmas Dimensional Stickers

Disney Dimensional Stickers, Princess Christmas

Product Rating: 4

Community Rating: Very Helpful

Pros: Disney Princesses, larger sizes, nice assortment, the girls loved them

Cons: None

Summary: My granddaughters love the Disney Princesses, and these stickers were a big hit for them.

I have several granddaughters who love the Disney Princesses, so I always try to add a few of this type of item to their Christmas gifts. One of the items I found for them this year was the Disney Princess Christmas Dimensional Stickers pictured here.

You can find these at WalMart or online for anywhere from around $2-$5 for the package. I didn't mind paying $2 for them, but thought that the higher range was a bit much for a single sheet of stickers. Even so, the girls loved their Disney Princesses, so it would have been worth the price to see the smiles on their faces.

These are the dimensional stickers, meaning that they poof up, rather than laying flat. They can be used for a variety of purposes including scrapbooking, package decorations, adding them to invitations or gift bags, stocking stuffers and more.

Each of the girls got to decide how they wanted to use theirs so some were placed in a sticker book while others decorated a dresser and a toy box. The girls had no problem peeling the stickers from the backing and placing them in the desired locations. They stuck well to the wood and paper surfaces where they were placed.

The package contains a single sheet of stickers measuring about 4 inches wide by just under 6 inches tall. The larger 3-D princesses measure approximately 3.5 inches high by 2 inches wide. The remainder of the package contains several smaller items including ornaments, snowflakes or other items that coordinate with the larger princesses.

These stickers come in assorted styles, so you can pick your favorite Disney Princesses. I got an assortment for the girls, and it was nice to be able to choose a different one for each of the girls.

This particular package contains seven stickers in all, however sizes, shapes, colors and number of stickers per package varies depending on the sticker design. Some of the stickers are smaller than others, and these are not recommended for children under 3 years of age because of a possible choking hazard.

Originally published on Epinions.

(Product Review) Red Hot Shatterproof 4-Finish Christmas Ball Ornaments

Red Hot Shatterproof 4-Finish Christmas Ball Ornaments Review

Product Rating: 4

Community Rating: Very Helpful

Pros: Nice looking, shatterproof, 4 designs, hanging loop, available in a variety of sizes and colors

Cons: None

Summary: These ornaments are great for home or office use. Because they are shatterproof, they are safer for use around young children or pets than glass ornaments.

When decorating the Christmas tree, I use a lot of handmade ornaments along with several special ornaments, but I also use other assorted ornaments to fill in the gaps. A while back I found this 32 piece set of Christmas ornaments to add to my collection.

These Red Hot Shatterproof Christmas Ball Ornaments measure 3.25 inches in diameter. The collection of balls are all a bright, shiny red known as red hot in color. The surfaces of these ornaments are an assortment of finishes including shiny, matte, glitter drenched and holographic glitter sparkles. Each ornament comes with a gold colored ornament cap, and an optional gold colored string for hanging. If you wish to use ornament hooks, you will need to purchase these separately.

The ornaments could easily be mistaken for glass ornaments, however they are made from a shatterproof plastic. I have dropped a couple of them and had no problems with them breaking.

They are available in the red hot, as well as other colors including silver, gold, green, white, orange and more. They are also available in a variety of sizes ranging from around 1 1/2 inches up to 6 inches, so you can mix and match sizes or colors if desired.

These work well to decorate your home or office, and because they are shatterproof, they are especially nice for decorating where young children or pets may be tempted by a brightly colored Christmas tree.

I have been very satisfied with this set or ornaments, and will continue to use them for many years to come.

Originally published on Epinions.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

(Product Review) Nestle Tollhouse Premier White Morsels

Nestle Tollhouse Premier White Morsels 12 ounce (Pack Of 12)

Product Rating: 3

Community Rating: Very Helpful

Pros: Nestle brand name

Cons: Not white chocolate, artificial vanilla flavor

Summary: Don't be fooled into thinking these are white chocolate. They are artificial vanilla flavored, and not what I expected.

As I have mentioned in previous reviews, my family often enjoys cookies. I make them often for holidays and everyday treats. Sometimes these are homemade cookies, and sometimes ready to bake cookies. One of the cookies I bake most often from scratch is chocolate chip cookies. For these I prefer Nestle Tollhouse Semi Sweet Chocolate Morsels. At times I like to add a bit of variety to my cookie recipes by either substituting or adding other ingredients. One of the products I picked up to add variety to my cookies was Nestle Tollhouse Premier White Morsels.

I like white chocolate and had no problem picking up multiple packages of these white morsels for my cookies. Unfortunately, I was disappointed to discover that the white morsels are not white chocolate at all, but vanilla flavored chips instead. I wish I had read the bag more closely because nowhere on the bag does it state that these are white chocolate, simply white morsels.

These chips aren't bad, but definitely not what I was expecting. Instead of the rich smooth taste of white chocolate that I was looking for, I got a somewhat artificial taste of vanilla. I really didn't care for the taste of them straight from the bag, and decided against using them alone in a cookie recipe, but threw a lesser amount of these in with the chocolate chips without any adverse affects.

Like chocolate chips, you can use these in a variety of recipes including candy, cookies, muffins, and more. They also work well for decorating cupcakes or sugar cookies. I just wish that the flavor was more in line with what I was expecting.

Although I generally prefer Nestle Morsels to other brands, this is one product that I cannot recommend unless you enjoy artificial vanilla flavor. Personally, the reason I bought these was because I wanted to add some white chocolate for variety in my cookies, but don't be fooled into thinking that this is what you are getting because it is not.

Even though I didn't care for these morsels, I have to be fair and give them an average rating rather than a failing grade because even though they didn't meet my expectations, they weren't terrible. They reminded me more of a generic product than what I would expect from a company like Nestle, but were still usable, even if I needed to combine them with other chips to achieve the desired results.

Had I been of a mind to make vanilla chip cookies, I suppose I might have been more satisfied with this purchase, but as it stands, I can only give them an average three star rating.

Originally published on Epinions.

Friday, December 28, 2012

(Product Review) Nestlé Nestle Tollhouse Semi Sweet Morsels

Nestlé Nestle Tollhouse Semi Sweet Morsels, 12 Ounce

Product Rating: 5

Community Rating: Very Helpful

Pros: Natural ingredients, no preservatives, great taste, real chocolate

Cons: Slightly more expensive than some others, but worth it.

Summary: Nestle Tollhouse Morsels are great for holiday baking or everyday treats.

Whether baking for the holidays or every day treats, my family loves chocolate chip cookies. Sometimes I pick up a package of ready to bake cookies, but I also enjoy making homemade cookies when I have the time and energy. When making home baked chocolate chip cookies I always make sure to use chips made of real chocolate rather than the imitation kind. Although there are a couple of brands that I use, the one I use most often is Nestle Tollhouse SemiSweet Chocolate Morsels.

I usually purchase these in the 12 ounce bags, although they are also available in other sizes as well. One 12 ounce bag is the perfect amount for most cookie recipes that I use, and the cookies always have the delicious taste of real Nestle Semi Sweet Chocolate. I like that they also come in 24 and 36 ounce bags for times when I need to bake multiple batches of cookies at once.

These delicious chocolate morsels not only taste great in chocolate chip cookies though, but also in many other treats as well. They work well in brownies, muffins, and fudge as well as many other types of cookies and candies. They also add a sweet touch to homemade trail mix and other similar treats, and are a delicious treat right out of the bag as well.

I like that Nestle Tollhouse Semi Sweet Chocolate Morsels are made with natural ingredients and that they contain no preservatives. This, combined with the fact that they have a great flavor make them the chocolate chip of choice in my home as well as many others.

The delicious chocolate flavor goes great with many other flavors. We enjoy them in peanut butter cookies, as a coating for chocolate covered pretzels, mixed with a handful of nuts and berries, and more. Although these are usually mixed into other items, they can also be used to decorate cupcakes, cookies or other treats.

I recommend Nestle Tollhouse Semi Sweet Chocolate Morsels to anyone who enjoys baking, as well as anyone who enjoys chocolate.

Originally published on Epinions.

(Product Review) Yankee Candle Mango Peach Salsa

Yankee Candle Mango Peach Salsa 22 oz

Product Rating: 3

Community Rating: Very Helpful

Pros: Yankee Candles is a name I trust. Burns evenly, lead-free wick. Pretty jar. Long lasting.

Cons: Scent is pleasant, but much to weak to enjoy.

Summary: Good quality candle, but the scent is much to weak to be enjoyable. I would opt for another fragrance instead.

I have always loved candles. I use a lot of handmade candles, but sometimes I choose to buy jar candles such as this Yankee Candle Mango Peach Salsa Jar Candle. Although I bought this particular candle in the large 22 ounce decorative jar, it is also available in both medium and small size jars.

This jar candle usually costs around $25-$30 per candle, however if you shop around you can often find it for less, especially if you watch for coupons and sales. I paid around $15 for this particular candle, which is much more reasonable in my opinion.

At first glance, this candle is a large peach colored candle in a pretty glass jar with a snugly fitting lid. I liked the color, and upon removing the top, enjoyed the fruity aroma of mango and peach. I looked forward to bringing this candle home.

Once home, I again removed the top and lit the candle. Although the aroma was still pleasant, it seemed much weaker than any of the Yankee Candles I have purchased in the past. This was somewhat of a disappointment because I often burn candles to enjoy the aroma throughout my home, and it was barely noticeable even when placed next to the chair where I was sitting. I might have expected this from some of the off-brand candles I have used at times, but not from a Yankee Candle. These are generally strong enough to provide a pleasant scent to a much larger area.

The fruity scent of the unlit candle was nice, however the scent was much too light to be enjoyable once the candle was lit. This would be fine for those who purchase candles strictly for lighting purposes, however, if you enjoy the aroma of a scented candle, this is probably not one you would enjoy.

Even so, I burn this candle from time to time and it always burns evenly. The wick is lead-free and I have had no issues with the way it burns. These candles are made to last, and have a long burning time. I couldn't say for sure how many hours these will last, but have burned it off and on for several months and it still has a long life ahead of it.

Even though I love Yankee Candles, I can't recommend this particular scent because it simply isn't strong enough to make it worth the price of the candle. I would opt for one of the many other fragrances instead.

Originally published on Epinions.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

(Product Review) Oriental Trading Company Christmas Tree Craft Bags

Oriental Trading Company Christmas Tree Craft Bags - Party Favor & Goody Bags & Paper Goody Bags 

Product Rating: 4

Community Rating: Very Helpful

Pros: Cute, functional, handles are a nice touch.

Cons: None

Summary: Inexpensive, cute, and functional for gift wrapping made easy.

We use a lot of gift wrapping supplies around my house at Christmas time as well as many other occasions. I like to keep a variety of gift bags around to simplify some of my gift wrapping tasks. A couple of years ago I found these Christmas Tree Craft Bags for around $5-$6 per dozen, so I picked some up to add to my gift bag collection.

One of the best things about using gift bags as opposed to gift wrapping paper is that they are so easy to use. This is especially true for some of the oddly shaped items that I have needed to wrap. Just slip the presents into the bags rather than trying to find a way to wrap those difficult gifts.

Each paper gift bag measures  9 inches by 6 1/2  by 3 1/4 and has a gusseted bottom so the bag is easy to stand up for easy filling, yet folds flat when not in use. These gift bags are printed with a Christmas tree design although they are also available in a variety of other patterns such as snowmen, angels and other holiday designs. I picked up a few different ones for variety, and was happy with all of the ones I bought.

The simplistic Christmas tree pattern on these bags is an appropriate design for any gender or age group. Additionally, the design is not cluttered, and there is plenty of tan background area in case you wish to add your own personal touch to the bags.

These bags come equipped with 4 inch jute handles for easy carrying. Both the bags and the handles are sturdy enough to accommodate most gifts you would normally use a gift bag for. I have used these mostly for toys, books, games and clothing items, as well as for some of my handmade gifts and have never had any problems.  I can't speak for the results if used for very heavy items, but they worked well for everything I used them for.

In addition to using these for wrapping Christmas gifts, these also come in handy as goody bags to send party favors home with holiday guests. You can fill them with an assortment of holiday toys and treats for your guests to take home after the party.

Originally published on Epinions.

Friday, December 14, 2012

(Product Review) FloraCraft Straw Wreaths, 10-Inch Straw Wreath

FloraCraft Straw Wreaths, 10-Inch Straw Wreath

Product Rating: 4

Community Rating: Very Helpful

Pros: Inexpensive, natural straw, biodegradable, attractive, great for crafting, indoor and outdoor.

Cons: May shed a small amount of straw when handled.

Summary: I have been happy with these wreaths, and would gladly recommend them to anyone who enjoys crafting, and wants an inexpensive base for their wreath or centerpiece.

I enjoy arts and crafts, and also enjoy decorating for a variety of parties as well as for the holidays. Because of these combined interests, I have found myself purchasing a few FloraCraft Straw Wreaths over the years. The FloraCraft 10 inch Straw Wreath was one of my purchases last Christmas.

Depending on the type of wreath I am making, I have used a variety of base materials. This particular one is made from straw, formed into a circular wreath. The straw is wrapped at 3 or 4 inch intervals by fishing line, holding the wreath together nicely. Even so, there will be small bits of straw that come off the wreath with handling, but that is to be expected from this sort of wreath. I have tried other brands that shed much more than this one, and am happy to have a lesser amount of shedding from this one.

The FloraCraft Straw Wreath works well for an assortment of craft projects. I have used this type for both centerpieces and for wreaths because the natural straw coloring blends well with a variety of materials such as flowers, branches, leaves and much more. It is easy to anchor your crafting materials to the wreath and make a variety of beautiful decorations.

This Christmas wreath was made by attaching several pine boughs to the base, then adding in several glittered pine cones along with a bit of mistletoe, and a big bow. I finished the project with a light mist of the spray snow and ended up with a very nice looking decoration.

FloraCraft Straw Wreaths are available in a variety of sizes. I have used several sizes from 8 inches up to 18 inches for my projects, and was satisfied with all of them. The straw wreaths come wrapped tightly in a clear plastic film, and depending on your project, you can remove the wreath to access the bare straw surface, or you can leave the film on if desired. I have used them both ways for different projects.

These wreaths are made mostly of natural straw, so they are biodegradable. They work well for both indoor and outdoor decorating. If you enjoy crafting, you can make some beautiful holiday decorations, or use them for other themes as well.

I have been happy with these wreaths, and would gladly recommend them to anyone who enjoys crafting, and wants an inexpensive base for their wreath or centerpiece.

Originally published on Epinions.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

(Product Review) Carex Bed Buddy Hot and Cold Pack with ThermaTherapy

Carex Bed Buddy Hot and Cold Pack with ThermaTherapy

Reviewed by kelly60 on 2012-12-09

Product Rating: 5

Community Rating: Very Helpful

Pros: Fast, effective relief from aches and pains. Hot and cold therapy. Reusable.

Cons: Surface washable only.

Summary: Provides soothing relief for sore, aching muscles, swollen joints, arthritis pain, and lots more.

I got my first Bed Buddy as a Christmas gift over a decade ago. I couldn't have asked for a more useful gift. Since that time, I needed to get additional Bed Buddies in order to have enough for the entire family because it seemed that everyone always wanted to use it.

The Carex Bed Buddy Hot and Cold Pack with ThermaTherapy is a wonderful hot and cold pack. It provides moist heat, or cold therapy to help relieve my aching back, neck, shoulders, or other areas. It is great for aching muscles, stiff neck, swollen joints, sprains and strains, and lots more.

The Bed Buddy is a long slender pouch filled with natural organic grains. It measures approximately 23 inches long by 4 1/4 inches wide so it works well for many areas of the body. I have used it mostly as a hot pack for back, neck and shoulder pain, although it works great for just about any area where you need either hot or cold therapy.

To use the Bed Buddy, simply place it in the microwave. I generally microwave mine for about a minute and a half, and would suggest this as a starting point for most people. If it isn't warm enough, you can return it to the microwave a little longer. I recommend 15 second intervals until you reach the desired temperature. It shouldn't take more than a couple of minutes to reach the desired temperature, although since microwaves may vary, your results could be slightly different than mine.

 I haven't used it nearly as much as a cold pack, however placing it in the freezer for a couple of hours will give you a soft, gentle cold pack that can easily be applied to most areas of the body. I have used it on my neck, back, shoulders, knee, and forehead as a cold pack and found it to be effective for cold therapy as well.

Not only is the Bed Buddy great for soothing sore, achy muscles and other pains, but it is also great to get rid of a chill on a cold winter night. Applying a hot pack to my neck and shoulder area can really help when I come inside from the cold winter weather. Sometimes I toss it under the covers to take the chill off a few minutes before crawling in bed. During the summer, I have placed the cold pack across my neck and shoulders to help cool off.

The Bed Buddy is made of 72% cotton and 28% polyester. It has rope handles on both ends making it easy to hold in place, or even to strap it in place if desired. It is large enough to be useful for anyone, however the manufacture's age recommendation is age 15 and over. I have used it on all ages, however you should always be sure to test the temperature before applying this because it can get too hot if you aren't careful. Even when applying it to my own skin, I have heated it a bit too much and had to remove it for a few minutes until the temperature was right. The heated Bed Buddy can hold it's heat for up to an hour, although it will cool down gradually over time.

Although these are reusable, because the Bed Buddy is filled with grains, it is not machine washable. It is surface washable only, and can be wiped down with a damp cloth if necessary. I have several of these, and all of them have held up really well to repeated use.

This is probably one of the most used Christmas gifts I have ever been given, and I was very happy to receive it.

Originally published on Epinions.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

(Product Review) Afrin No Drip Original Nasal Decongestant Pump Mist

Afrin No Drip Original Nasal Decongestant Pump Mist

Product Rating: 5

Community Rating: Very Helpful

Pros: Works well to relieve congestion and reduce swelling of nasal passages. No-drip mist, long lasting.

Cons: None

Summary: Fast and effective temporary relief from nasal congestion. No-drip mist keeps the medication from running down your throat or dripping from your nose.

I have been a regular user of nasal decongestant sprays for many years because of my sinus and allergy problems. I generally use a prescription medication, however I was given the opportunity to try Afrin No Drip Original Nasal Decongestant Pump Mist, and have been very happy with this product.

Like most, if not all similar products, this nasal decongestant comes in a small bottle with a pump on top. When you depress the plastic top, the decongestant is sprayed into your nostril.

Unlike many similar products, this nasal spray is a no-drip formula. Many other products tend to run and drip either down the throat or out the nose. I did not experience this problem with this product. The decongestant liquid is dispensed in a fine mist that essentially stays where it is sprayed. There is no need to keep sniffing the liquid back into my nose, and no burning from spray that drips down the back of my throat. Additionally, this product doesn't have the strong, unpleasant smell that some of the others have.

Besides being dripless, this product is also quite effective. I really like the fact that this product lasts the full 12 hours as claimed, and best of all, it seems more effective at clearing my sinuses than the prescription brand that I have been using for the past couple of years. Since using this brand, I have been pleasantly surprised to still be able to breathe easily at the end of the day or even after a full night's sleep.

Even though this product allows me to sleep well though, it is not just for nighttime use. It does not cause drowsiness like some of the others, so it is safe and effective for daytime use as well. Combine all of this with the fact that it works quickly, and I think that this is one of the best nasal decongestant products I have found so far.

The manufacturer states that this is the number one recommended brand of doctors and pharmacists. It provides temporary relief of nasal congestion due to common colds, hay fever, upper respiratory allergies and sinusitis because it shrinks swollen membranes so you can breathe easier.

This product is intended for adults and children 6 years or older, although supervision is recommended for children. You should use 2-3 sprays in each nostril every 10-12 hours as needed, not to exceed 2 doses in 24 hours. You should not give this product to children under 6 except under the advice of your doctor. You should not use this product for more than 3 days except as recommended by your physician.

It is further recommended that  you check with your doctor if you have heart disease, high blood pressure, thyroid disease, diabetes, trouble urinating due to an enlarged prostate gland. You should discontinue usage and consult a physician if your condition worsens, or if it doesn't improve after a few days. You should contact your poison control center in the event of accidental ingestion.

Before the first use, you will need to remove the childproof seal, then remove the protective cap, then prime the metered pump by depressing the pump a couple of times. Always shake well before use.

Active Ingredients: Oxymetazoline Hydrochloride (0.05%) (Nasal decongestant)

Inactive Ingredients: Benzalkonium Chloride Solution, Benzyl Alcohol, Edetate Disodium, Flavor, Microcrystalline Cellulose, Carboxymethylcellulose Sodium, Polyethylene Glycol, Povidone, Sodium Phosphate Dibasic, Sodium Phosphate Monobasic, Water

Note:  This item was received as a sample to use and tell others about from

Originally published on Epinions.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

(Product Review) Honey-Can-Do Traditional Wood Clothespins with Springs

Honey-Can-Do Traditional Wood Clothespins with Springs

Clothes Pins Traditional Wood w/ Spring 50-Pack Wooden Clothespins

Product Rating: 3

Community Rating: Very Helpful

Pros: Great for laundry or craft projects

Cons: none

Summary: These aren't as heavy duty as some of my older pins, but work well for most laundry and craft projects.

As I mentioned in a previous review, I don't hang nearly as much laundry out on the clothesline as I have in the past. Still, I sometimes like to hang some of my laundry on the clothesline when the weather is nice. I have lost or broken a large share of my clothespins over the years, and needed to pick up some more. I recently reviewed my purchase of Honey-Can-Do Traditional Wood Clothespins which was one of the clothespin purchases I made. Since I like to keep an assortment of clothespins on hand, I also purchased a package of  Honey-Can-Do Traditional Wood Clothespins with Springs.

These are the old fashioned spring clothespins I grew up with. These spring clothespins, referred to as bulldog clothespins are made up of two pieces of wood held together by a spring. When you squeeze the two pieces of wood together on one end, the opposite end opens. To use the clothespin, simply squeeze the end to open, slide the pin over the clothing, then release the pin allowing it to close over your clothing item.

These clothespins measure just over 3 inches long by about a half inch wide. Even though they are not as sturdy as the older ones I have, they seem sturdy enough to do the job. According to the manufacturer, they are rated to hold up to ten pounds per clip. I can't vouch for that since I don't weigh my wet laundry before hanging, but they seem to work well for my laundry.

The manufacturer also states that the birch hardwood construction and heavy duty spring are built to last. I have had a couple of these come apart in my clothespin bag, but for the most part, they are holding up very well.

In addition to using them for laundry, I also have used some for various art projects. The kids enjoyed painting them up like animals, making an alligator clip to hold notes. They can easily be turned into anything from a Christmas ornament, to a note holder, to any number of other craft projects. I found a few more interesting ideas online that I will be trying when I get a chance.

Whether purchasing these for hanging laundry or for craft projects, these clothespins worked well for me, so I have no problem recommending them to others as well.

Originally published on Epinions.

Friday, November 9, 2012

(Product Review) Boo Boo Pack Cold Packs: Reusable Cold Therapy Just for Kids

First Aid Boo Boo Pack Cold Pack 

Product Rating: 5

Community Rating: Very Helpful

Pros: Cute and functional

Cons: Can't be used as a hot pack

Summary: Great to have on hand for young children. These cute ice packs help make pain more bearable for little ones.

I try to always keep a well stocked first aid kit wherever I go because wherever there are kids (and often adults too) there are going to be a variety of scrapes, cuts and bruises. Although there are times when we need to use a disposable ice pack in the first aid kits in the vehicles, at home, I like to keep a Boo Boo Pack Cold Pack in my freezer for little ouchies.

This past summer, I couldn't begin to tell you how many times my granddaughters came running in the house with a scraped knee or elbow from a biking accident, skating accident, or other injury. For them, I like to keep the Boo Boo Pack Cold Packs on hand and ready to grab in a moment's notice.

The Teddy Bear Shaped Boo Boo Pack pictured here is just one of several assorted shapes and colors of reusable cold therapy designed especially for kids. Some of the others include a lady bug, butterfly, bee, gold fish, dog, cat, and a few sports related themes including a baseball, soccer ball and a basketball. I have several including this cute little teddy bear in both green and blue, so I can easily swap for a fresh cold one when one starts to warm up.

Each cold pack is filled with a nontoxic silica gel, so instead of freezing solid like an ice cube, the gel remains soft and pliable even when frozen. This makes it much more gentle and soothing for icing injuries on young children. Of course, the adorable shapes can also help to distract your little ones from the pain.

These work great for fever, swelling, and other pain, and are also great on a hot day just to help cool an irritable child. These cold packs remain cold for up to 30 minutes, then toss it back in your freezer or cooler for next time. As I mentioned earlier, keeping a second one in the freezer can be a big help as well, so you can just switch to a fresh cold pack while the first one is getting cold again.

These ice packs measure approximately 4.5 by 3 inches, depending on which shape you choose. They are the perfect size for small boo boos and children love the fun shapes and colors. Even though these are made especially for kids, adults can use them too. I sometimes grab one of these out of the freezer to treat one of my migraines, or a small injury on myself.

According to the manufacturer, you should remove from packaging and freeze for around 2 hours before the first use. To make them last longer, you should keep them in a sealed plastic bag in the freezer when not in use. This will prevent the gel inside from drying out and getting hard. I have had mine for a year or two now and mine are still in good shape.

When treating injuries, you should place a towel between the skin and the ice pack, although these do not appear to damage the skin the way many other ice packs do. Ice packs should only be left on for 30 minute intervals unless otherwise directed by a doctor.

Some of the precautions include warnings that you should not lie, sleep or sit on the ice pack, and watch for skin irritation. This is especially important for young children who might not let you know if there is a problem. These gel packs are not intended for use as a hot pack and should never be heated in the microwave or otherwise. To care for your Boo Boo Pack Cold Pack, wipe any moisture from the pack, then return to the freezer until needed again.

Recommended to help make pain more "bearable" especially for young children.

Originally published on Epinions.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

(Product Review) General Mills Monster Cereal, Count Chocula Cereal

Monster Cereal, Count Chocula Cereal, 10.4-Ounce Boxes (Pack of 12)

Product Rating: 5

Community Rating: Very Helpful

Pros: Fun to eat, great taste, vitamin fortified, whole grain nutrition, boxtops for education

Cons: Seasonal availability, small boxes go too quickly

Summary: Pick some up if you can find it. Check the expiration dates and stock up if you can because you may not see it again until next year.

It is Halloween morning, so what is for breakfast? One of our seasonal favorites is Count Chocula Cereal from General Mills. This chocolaty marshmallow cereal is impossible to find locally, except for the availability around Halloween, but my family loves it for a delicious change of taste.

Count Chocula is actually one of three different Monster Cereals available from General Mills this time of year. Although Count Chocula is my personal favorite, I have also been known to indulge in a tasty bowl or Boo Berry or Franken Berry cereal from time to time. Like the Count Chocula, these are difficult if not impossible to find in my area any other time of year, but your experience may be different, depending on where you live.

Count Chocula has a sweet,  chocolaty taste. The cereal pieces are not too hard, nor do they get soggy as quickly as some other cereals I have eaten. I like to take my time and enjoy a bowl, and this is one of the cereals that aren't soggy by the time I finish my bowl of cereal. This also works well when being served to my granddaughters because they can be easily distracted at times and even at those times when the cereal sits a little longer than it should, it doesn't get too soggy to eat after a few minutes. Even my son enjoys it, and he wil not eat soggy cereal.

Count Chocula Cereal is also loaded with delicious frosted marshmallow bats, much like Lucky Charms contains assorted marshmallow shapes. These marshmallow bats used to all be uniform in shape, size and color, but these days they vary from solid brown color to a swirled color. They add a delicious sweetness to breakfast.

It may not be the healthiest breakfast because let's face it, a chocolate and marshmallow treat is not going to be the most healthy thing out there, but it isn't the worst either. Although it has a higher sugar content than some other cereals, it is fortified with vitamins and minerals, including iron. A 3/4 cup serving contains 110 calories, and contains 170mg sodium.

From what I understand, the original Count Chocula Cereal was temporarily discontinued years ago because of concerns about the high sugar content. Since that time however, it has been reformulated to a whole grain corn cereal and reintroduced. Even though it is a little different than the original cereal the taste is still great, but now it is healthier than the original product.

Although my family enjoys this cereal, there are a couple of problems with it. First is availability issues. As I mentioned, this is not readily available in my area except around Halloween time. I can get it online whenever I want to, but searched every store in a fifty mile radius a few months ago and was unable to locate a single box. Aside from that, my main issue is that the 10.4 ounce boxes are pretty small and are gone much too quickly.

I never buy a single box because of this. Instead, I pick up several boxes, or even a case at a time to be sure that everyone gets some. I find it best to stock up when it becomes availabe because it won't be around for long. Just remember to check the expiration dates on the boxes and you will be able to enjoy a fresh box of this cereal for months to come.

Another good thing about this cereal is that General Mills participates in the Boxtops for Education program. Every box has the Boxtops for Education which can be given to your local school to help them purchase supplies and other items. It is an easy way to donate to your school district without costing you anything.

During the short time that these cereals are available, you can often find them on sale for around $2-$3 per box. You can often find coupons available as well, which can really save you some money if you don't mind shopping around and using coupons. Personally, I take every opportunity I can find to get this cereal and other items for the best price.

I highly recommend this cereal to chocolate lovers everywhere. I have tried substituting other cereals, but nothing compares to Count Chocula Cereal. I only wish it were available year round.

Originally published on Epinions.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

(Product Review) Ruffies Color Scents 8 Gallon Garbage Bags

Berry Plastics Corp 981266 "Ruffies Color Scents" 8 Gallon Small Garbage Bag, 50-Count

Product Rating: 3

Community Rating: Very Helpful

Pros: Inexpensive, come in a variety of colors and scents

Cons: Not a heavy duty bag, but adequate for light duty trash removal.

Summary: These bags come in an assortment of colors and scents. They work well for light duty purposes, but are not recommended for heavy loads.

There are many trash bags on the market, and although Ruffies Color Scents Trash Bags are not a heavy duty garbage bag like some, they work well for lesser tasks such as in my home office. Since this particular wastebasket is a 7 gallon size, I chose the Ruffies Color Scents 8 Gallon Garbage Bags for this location.

Although these bags are not as sturdy as some of the major brands such as Glad or Hefty, they still have their place in my home. The bags are plenty strong enough for lighter trash removal tasks such as office waste or light duty trash receptacles.

The thickness is 0.35 mils compared to the .95 mil thickness of Glad Forceflex that I often use for my kitchen trash. This is thick enough to do these lighter tasks, but would not hold up well if loaded with diapers or some of our heavier kitchen trash. Since the majority of trash added to this particular container consists of paper and other lightweight materials, these work well for this container.

I have tried Ruffies Kitchen Bags before as well, but soon determined that they were not efficient for heavy loads. Since these trash bags are much less expensive than the sturdier bags though, I still use these in selected areas of my home that don't require a stronger bag.

Ruffies Color Scents Trash Bags come in assorted colors and scents. The almond colored bags are vanilla scented. These are my favorites and the ones I buy most often. They also have at least a couple of other colors such as blue and green to choose from. The colors and scents available vary by the size of the bags.

These bags come in a roll of 50 bags, packaged along with twist ties in a plastic bag. To use them, you need to remove the roll from the bag, then unroll a trash bag or two from the roll. You then need to tear them apart at the perforation, then open the trash bag. Waving the bag around a bit as I open it spreads a bit of added fragrance to the room as well, so by the time I get the bag into my wastebasket, the surrounding area generally has a pleasant aroma.

The bags fit nicely into my wastebasket, with just a bit of room to spare. They work well in my office, as well as bathrooms, bedrooms or any other area where you have a smaller size of wastebasket. As previously mentioned though, these are not a good choice for heavy loads. Additionally, these are a thinner bag which is rather transparent, so if you are concerned about others seeing the contents of your trash, you may not want to use these bags.

Ruffies Trash Bags are available in 4 gallon, 8 gallon and 13 gallon sizes, so although this listing refers to these as small garbage bags, these are actually the medium size. I have used all three sizes, and find them acceptable for light duty trash receptacles.

If you are looking for an inexpensive trash bag, and don't need a heavy duty bag, these will serve you nicely. I recommend them for light duty purposes only because they are not nearly as strong as some of the other brands. Even so, they are well worth the money spent on them if I can use these for those wastebaskets that don't require the extra strength of the more expensive brands.

Originally published on Epinions.

Monday, October 29, 2012

(Product Review) Rubbermaid Black 7 Gallon Soft Molded Plastic Rectangular Wastebasket

Rubbermaid (295600BK) Soft Molded Plastic Wastebasket, Rectangular, 7 gal, Black

Product Rating: 4

Community Rating: Very Helpful

Pros: Made in USA, sturdy, inexpensive, easy to clean, nice size for my home office.

Cons: None

Summary: Recommended for home or office use. This lightweight wastebasket fits nicely under most desks, or other similar areas.

I have a variety of trash receptacles of various sizes around my home. They range in size from a small wastebasket to a full sized trash can. One of these wastebaskets is a Rectangular 7 Gallon Rubbermaid Soft Plastic Wastebasket.

This Rubbermaid Wastebasket is the perfect size for my home office use, and fits nicely beneath my desk. This 28 quart wastebasket measures approximately 15 inches high, and is rectangular with dimensions of 14 3/8 inches wide by 10 1/4 inches thick. I slide it under the edge of my desk for easy access.

This wastebasket is made of molded plastic, so it won't rust, dent, or chip. Even though this basket is lightweight at just a couple of pounds, it is sturdy enough that I expect it to hold up for a long time. The rim is rolled for added strength and durability, and is easy for me to grasp the receptacle from beneath my desk for easy removal.

You can use this either with or without a trash bag because it is made of solid plastic, unlike some of the other waste paper baskets I have used. The matte finish hides fingerprints or other dirt, and is easy to wipe clean with a damp cloth. Because it is made entirely of plastic though, you could also easily wash it out in a sink or tub if needed.

This wastebasket is made in the USA, and is available both online and in stores. I paid around $5 for mine at Home Depot, and have seen similar pricing at several online sources. This review is of the black wastebasket, however these are available in other colors as well. Although this is a simple open-topped wastebasket, there is an optional swing-top lid that can be purchased separately if desired.

Originally published on Epinions.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

(Product Review) 3-Tier Chrome Hanging Basket

Stacks and Stacks 3-Tier Hanging Basket (Chrome) (30"H x 12"diameter) (HB300)

Reviewed by kelly60 on 2012-10-28

Product Rating: 4

Community Rating: Very Helpful

Pros: Attractive, versatile, functional, convenient, sturdy

Cons: None

Summary: Attractive and versatile way to store and display a variety of items within easy reach.

My mother always had a three tiered wire basket in her home. A few years back I picked up one for myself as well. The 3-Tier Chrome Hanging Basket is great for a variety of purposes. Not only does it keep the clutter on my counter to a minimum, but it works well for storage and displaying fruits and vegetables, allowing for air circulation around these foods.

This hanging basket consists of three wire baskets suspended on a set of three chains. Unlike the hanging baskets I remember as a child, these are not the lightweight, mesh type, of baskets. Instead, these are made of a sturdy chrome finished steel wire that will hold up indefinitely. The baskets graduate in size with the bottom basket being 12 inches, the second basket being 10 inches, and the top basket being 8 inches in diameter. The entire unit is 30 inches long.

The unit has a hook at the top which can easily be hung from a bar or a ceiling hook. It hangs down nicely, holding whatever contents you wish to store in it.

As mentioned previously, it works great in the kitchen to hold fruits and/or vegetables. It also works well for holding a variety of snack foods within easy reach. I keep healtier snacks in the lower tiers for easy access, and some of the less healthy snacks in the smaller basket on top.

I find it rather handy in my craft area for keeping a variety of craft supplies within easy reach. In the bedroom, it works well suspended from a closet rod for easy access to accessories. I have used a similar hanging basket to hold a variety of hanging plants, however this one is much sturdier and would have worked much better if I had owned it at the time. It works well for keeping toys or pet supplies put away when not in use. My mother has long had one in her kitchen, and also has one in her bathroom, decoratively displaying various bath and body items for guests.

This attractive hanging basket is both attractive and functional, and would make a lovely addition to any kitchen, bathroom, office, playroom, garage, craft room, or wherever you need an attractive way to display stored items.

Originally published on Epinions.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

(Product Review) Scott Bathroom Tissue

Scott Bathroom Tissue 1000 Sheets 6-Count (Pack of 8)

Product Rating: 2

Community Rating: Very Helpful

Pros: Less expensive than some others, but must use more to get the job done.

Cons: One ply, not as soft or absorbent as most other brands I have used.

Summary: Not that I condone toilet papering your neighbor's houses on Halloween, but as I see it, there is little else that Scott Bathroom Tissue is good for.

In an effort to save money, a friend of mine purchased the Scott Bathroom Tissue. The price was much lower than the brand of toilet tissue she previously used, and since her grandchildren always used excessive amounts of toilet paper, she decided that this would be a good way to save money.

Scott Bathroom Tissue comes in a six roll package with 1000 single ply sheets each, amounting to 1152 square feet of toilet paper each. You can purchase these packages individually, or purchase a case of 8 packages if you like. Scott Bathroom Tissues are also available in other package sizes, so you can purchase as much or as little as you wish. This toilet paper claims to be septic safe, and as far as I know, my friend has not had any septic problems over the past few years.

Although Scott Bathroom Tissue is not the worst toilet paper out there, it is far from acceptable for my needs. To start with, this is only a one ply toilet paper, and since the single ply tissue is only about half as thick as the two ply tissues I normally use, it is not very absorbent. It may have saved a bit of money on what the kids used, but for the rest of us, we needed to use twice as much toilet paper to get the job done.

This toilet paper is so thin that it is easy to accidentally put your finger through it while attempting to wipe. It also takes several layers to be able to blow your nose because the toilet paper pretty much blows apart in your hands. It is not at all strong, and without using several layers, you are likely to have a mess on you hands, and elsewhere.

As for softness, it was not nearly as soft as many other brands I have used in the past. Although not as rough as some of the cheap toilet paper I have come across in gas station restrooms, it was far less gentle than most other brands I have tried in my home.
Equipped with a large enough wad of toilet paper, you can manage to clean yourself after using the bathroom, however, the job would be much simpler and more comfortable with a much lesser amount of a decent quality toilet paper.

I have spent a lot of time at my friend's house, but always hated to use her bathroom because of this toilet paper. When spending a few days at her home a couple of years ago, I considered bringing along my own toilet paper, but thought that she might be offended. I did bring along a pocket full of tissues for blowing my nose, however I suffered through the weekend with the Scott Bathroom Tissue.

Even though I don't condone toilet papering your neighbor's houses this Halloween, I don't find this particular toilet paper good for much else. It doesn't work well when wiping after bathroom use, and you might as well forget using this to blow your nose as well.

Originally published on Epinions.

(Product Review) Honey-Can-Do Traditional Wood Clothespins

Honey-Can-Do Traditional Wood Clothespins 96-Pack DRY-01389

Product Rating: 3

Community Rating: Very Helpful

Pros: Easy to use, hardwood construction won't rust, use for laundry or craft projects

Cons: Slightly smaller than my older clothespins, some roughness on surface of a few pins

Summary: These aren't as heavy duty as some of my older pins, but work well for most laundry and craft projects.

Although I don't hang my laundry out on a clothesline nearly as much these days as I did in the past, I like to keep a few clothespins around for some of the larger items such as sheets and blankets, rugs, and during the summer, hanging towels when we return from a day on the water. Most of my clothespins have either broken or disappeared over the years, so I had to pick up a new supply.

As most of you probably know, there are a couple of kinds of clothespins to choose from. I like the spring-type ones for some things, but the Honey-Can-Do Classic Round Wooden Clothespins work great for so many things.

Unlike the spring loaded type, these Honey-Can-Do Traditional Wood Clothespins are easy enough for even youngsters to use because you don't have to worry about whether they might accidentally pinch their fingers. They also work well for those of us who have trouble with our hands. There is no need to squeeze these clothespins together, just drape your clothes over the line and slide these pins down into place. Your items stay even on a breezy day. Removal is just as simple. Just grasp the pin and slide it off the clothesline to release your clothing. Nothing could be easier.

Another advantage to this type of clothespin is that they are made entirely of wood, so there is no chance of getting rust stains on your clothing from hanging wet clothing with them. The spring type, or bulldog clothespins can sometimes get a bit of rust on your clothing because of the metal spring used in their construction. Because no metal is used on these pins though, there isn't going to be any rusting.

Additionally, these Honey-Can-Do Traditional Wood Clothespins are not going to fall apart like the others sometimes do. They are made in one solid piece, and even though they are not unbreakable, they aren't going to fall apart unless you ram them onto a heavier rug and break the wood.

These clothespins measure approximately 1/2 inch in diameter by just under 4 1/2 inches long. According to the manufacturer, they are rated to hold up to 10 pounds per clip. I can't vouch for this because I have never weighed my wet laundry, but I can say that they have worked well for me.

This isn't to say that these are perfect for all laundry uses though. Even though you can easily hang most laundry items with them, the slot is a bit narrower than some of the older clothespins I have been using. This makes it a bit more difficult to hang some of the heavier items mentioned such as heavy rugs or blankets. When hanging these items, you will need to slide the pins on gently so as not to break them. Even so, some of the pins will spread just a bit further than others, so you may or may not have problems when hanging thicker items.

Additionally, a few of the pins were a bit rough on the surface. This isn't a big deal for me since I only hang certain items on the clothesline, however the roughness of some of these pins could snag dedicates if used to hang them. I'm sure that with a bit of use, these will smooth out, but the roughness is present on some of the pins when they first come out of the package.

The birch hardwood construction of these pins works well for hanging laundry, but also works well for a variety of craft projects. One of our preschool classes used them to make adorable clothespin people to take home as Christmas ornaments. They work well for other occasions too, such as Halloween ghosts, or even animals for any occasion. We have also used them for hanging freshly painted t-shirts to dry.

Originally published on Epinions.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

(Product Review) Fun Express 2.5 inch Zoo Animals Slide Puzzles

Fun Express Zoo Animal Slide Puzzles (1 dz) - 3915220

Product Rating: 3

Community Rating: Very Helpful

Pros: Inexpensive. Challenging for kids to learn how to put them together.

Cons: Can stick or fall apart. Order extras so everyone gets a working puzzle.

Summary: Recommended as an inexpensive party favor. These are cheap filler items for goody bags, but will not hold up well.

As I have mentioned in previous reviews, I like to pick up assorted odds and ends for goody bags for the kids. One of the items I purchased was a package containing a dozen 2.5 inch Zoo Animals Slide Puzzles. I thought these would be something that the kids would enjoy, and they fit in nicely with a recent safari themed birthday party.

You can pick up a package of these puzzles for anywhere from $4 on up, depending on where you purchase them. If you are willing to purchase larger quantities, I have seen them for under $2 per dozen if you wish to purchase at least 6 dozen.

For those unfamiliar with the concept of these slide puzzles, they are a brightly colored square plastic tray which contains 15 square tiles and an empty space. Each tile contains a piece of the puzzle, in this case, assorted zoo animals such as a lion, tiger, monkey, and a giraffe. The object of the game is to slide the square tiles in various directions, trying to put the puzzle together. You can only move the tiles in limited directions because there is only one open space at a time, so you have to try to figure out how to get the pieces to end up where they need to be.

I remember really enjoying the slide puzzles as a kid, and thought that these kids would get just as much enjoyment out of them as I did, so I placed one in each of the goody bags for the kids. I had mixed reactions from the children, and soon realized that some of the puzzles didn't slide as nicely as they should have.

For younger children, you might want to only mess up one small corner so they just need a couple of moves to put the puzzle back together. Of course, it is likely that they will end up with the entire puzzle messed up, so be prepared to help them "fix" their puzzle if needed. Older kids can generally get these puzzles back together with a little patience, and usually seem to have fun doing it.

I guess the old saying holds true here, that you get what you pay for. I really didn't expect quality for the price I paid, but some of the pieces wouldn't budge at all, and a couple of the puzzles broke right away. This may have been due to a couple of impatient kids with sticking pieces, although I'm not sure about this. In any case, I ended up tossing a few of these into the trash and replacing them with a working puzzle. Once they all had working puzzles, they seemed to enjoy them much more.

These are an inexpensive party favor, which is what I was looking for, so they served their purpose. I didn't expect them to hold their attention for a long period of time, and I don't expect these cheap toys to last forever, and neither should you. I wish that all of the puzzles would have been usable, but even so, I had enough puzzles to give one to each of the kids to play with and take home with them. It worked well to fill the goody bags with inexpensive items, and the kids were all happy with the things they got.

One word of caution for these puzzles is that they do occasionally fall apart, and the tiles are rather small. This makes these a possible choking hazard for younger children. Because of this, you should always supervise their use around small children.

I will recommend these puzzles if you can find them for a low price, but with the warning that you should pick up a few more than what you will need in case some of the puzzles don't work properly. The kids did seem to enjoy them, and they always like to get a few of this type of trinkets in their goody bags.

Originally published on Epinions.

(Product Review) Petco Rubber Textured Bone Dog Chew Toy

Petco Rubber Textured Bone Dog Chew Toy

Product Rating: 4

Community Rating: Very Helpful

Pros: Safe, non-toxic, fun, textured

Cons: None

Summary: Recommended for dogs of all sizes. This is a great toy for teething, playing catch or fetch, and more. It is one of Jasmine's favorite toys.

I'm not sure where it came from, obviously one of Jasmine's friends came to visit her and brought a toy from home, but I recently found a Petco Rubber Textured Bone Dog Chew Toy in my yard while Jasmine and I were walking around. As soon as she spotted it, she immediately picked it up and began to play with it.

This doggy chew toy is bone shaped. The outer rim of the bone is covered in a thick black textured rubber, while the center area of the bone is a bright yellow. The entire bone is textured, with the black part resembling tire treads and the yellow area made up of firmer rubber nubs.

This Petco Doggie Bone measures approximately 3 inches by 6 inches, which is a great size for Jasmine, who is a Greyhound, Lab and Boxer mix. Obviously, whoever brought it over liked it well enough to carry it with them from their yard to ours, then apparently forgot to take their toy home with them.

In any case, this Rubber Bone is something of a teething toy for dogs. Just like my grandson's teethers, the nubs work well for young pups. Providing puppies with chew toys is important because all pups are born with a natural urge to chew, and supplying them with a chew toy such as this can prevent damage to furniture, shoes, or other inappropriate objects.

Adult dogs like Jasmine enjoy chewing on this as well though. When she found the toy in our yard she immediately snatched it up and began chewing on it. She was tossing it around and grabbing it back up for a few minutes before she invited me into the game. Playing catch, or fetch was fun for her, and a quick game of tug-o-war was easy with this toy too because the textured bone was easy to grip. Another fun feature of this bone is that when thrown, the shape of this bone makes it bounce in odd directions at times. The bone sometimes hits the ground in front of Jasmine, then bounces in an unexpected direction, making the game a bit more interesting for her.

This bone is made of durable non-toxic thermo-plastic rubber, so it is both safe and long lasting. She has had it for around a month or two now, and despite showing some signs of use, she will likely keep playing with this for quite a while longer before it will need replaced. She is an aggressive chewer and toys rarely last this long for her.

The important thing to keep in mind is that pets should be supervised during play because most toys can become choking hazards if pieces are broken or chewed off. I expect that this toy will last her for a long time yet, but it is always a good idea to inspect your pet's toys regularly.

I recommend the Petco Rubber Textured Bone Dog Chew Toy for all dogs as a safe and fun toy. Jasmine really enjoys playing with it, as do the pups. 

Originally published on Epinions.

Monday, October 15, 2012

(Product Review) Necco Mary Jane Candy Chews - 240 piece Tub

Mary Jane 240 Piece Tub (Necco)

Product Rating: 4

Community Rating: Very Helpful

Pros: Made in USA, retro treat, individually wrapped

Cons: None

Summary: I recommend this handy container full of nostalgic candies. These are great for goody bags, pinatas, trick-or-treats, party favors, candy dishes, or any time treats.

For Halloween, as well as several other occasions, I like to provide a variety of treats for the kids who come to visit. The treats include chocolates, non-chocolate items, and non-food goodies for the children to enjoy.

One type of candies I have purchased in the past was Necco Mary Jane Candy. These chewy candies come in a 240 piece tub, which weighs in at 67.5 ounces of candies.

These bite sized candies remind me of the Bit-o-Honey candies that I recently reviewed. They are yet another nostalgic candy that many will remember from their childhood days. These have been around for over a hundred years, and were available as a penny candy when I was growing up.

According to the manufacturer, these are "Named for the favorite aunt of the original manufacturer, Mary Janes Original taffy chews feature a molasses-flavored, sticky-sweet shell that hugs a real peanut butter center. After a long, slow chew, the crumbly goodness of genuine peanut butter will melt in your mouth and leave you reaching for more."

The texture is rather sticky, and sometimes can be difficult to remove from the wrapper. If you enjoy molasses and peanut butter, they are worth the effort though. These are a refreshing change for those who are looking for an alternative to chocolate candies.

These retro candy favorites are individually wrapped in a yellow and red waxy wrapper. They come in a plastic tub, so you could easily use the tub for passing out these goodies to trick-or-treaters. The clear plastic tub comes with a plastic lid so you can easily just replace the top and place them on the counter like a cookie jar.

In addition to passing them out to the ghosts and goblins that come out trick-or-treating on Halloween, these also work well as party treats in goody bags, as pinata fillers, or as a convenient take along snack or lunch item.

A serving is considered to be 5 pieces, although my sweet tooth is often satisfied with just two or three. Each 5 piece serving contains 160 calories, 4 grams fat, 32 grams carbs, and 1 gram of protein.


corn syrup, dry roasted peanuts, sugar, molasses, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil [cottonseed, soybean], soy lecithin, salt, mono & diglycerides, hydrogenated vegetable oil [rapeseed, cottonseed & soybean], glycerin and natural flavor

Warning: Contains peanuts and soy

* Nutrition information can and does change from time to time. For the most current nutrition/ingredient information consult the website or product packaging.

Originally published on Epinions.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

(Product Review) Prepac Slimline Multimedia Storage Tower

Prepac Slimline Multimedia Storage Tower Review

Slimline Media Storage Tower BMA0160 Prepac (772398220024)

Product Rating: 4

Community Rating: Very Helpful

Pros: Made in USA. Attractive and functional. Great for small spaces.

Cons: None

Summary: Recommended for smaller media collections, or as an overflow area for larger collections like mine. Sturdy, attractive and made in the USA.

I should start by saying that between karaoke and audio CDs, games, software disks, movies, and other assorted CDs and DVDs, I have thousands of CDs and DVDs in my home. I started with smaller media storage areas, but had to add more and more storage space to accommodate all of my music, games, movies, and software.

One of the storage spaces I purchased was the Slimline Media Storage Tower. Although this particular shelving system doesn't hold a lot, it is perfect for a smaller area because it takes only a small space in the room.

The tower measures just 13 inches wide by 8.75 inches deep and 51 inches high. The dimensions are a bit deceiving though because the 13 inch base extends beyond the sides of the tower for added stability. The tower is steady and I have never had a problem with it tipping, but keep in mind that it also means that there will be a bit of wasted space on both sides of the tower. The assembled product weighs in at a bit under 20 pounds.

Even so, it is a nice size to fit in a small space, and works well for storing discs within easy reach. The tower claims to hold up to 160 CDs, 65 DVDs, or 120 Blu-ray discs, or 40 VHS tapes. Of course this will vary by how you have it set up. The tower comes with 5 adjustable shelves, so you can position them however is most convenient for your needs.

Of  course, you can optimize your space by setting up the shelves to best utilize the space, and by using slim cases for your CDs rather than the thicker ones. This will double the amount of CDs that will fit on the shelves.

Although some assembly is required for this tower, the one I purchased was a pre-assembled display model at Walmart. It does appear to be a simple project though. After glancing over the included instruction manual, I feel confident that I could have assembled it if needed.

This product is made in the USA. It is well constructed, and according to  the manufacturer, it is made of CARB-compliant laminated composite woods with a sturdy MDF backer. It is a sturdy shelving system, and as I mentioned previously, the over-sized base makes it much less likely to tip than one without such a base.

Although this unit doesn't require much in the line of maintenance, it is easy to clean with regular dusting and an occasional wipe with a damp cloth if necessary. It makes an attractive storage/display area for CDs, DVDs, Blu-ray disks or VHS tapes.

Originally published on Epinions.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

(Product Review) Smarties Candy Rolls

Smarties Candy Rolls 160 Ct

Product Rating: 5

Community Rating: Very Helpful

Pros: Nostalgic candy, fat-free, sodium-free, low calories, easy to share or take along, classic favorite.

Cons: None

Summary: This nostalgic favorite candy is great for Halloween, pinatas, candy dishes, lunchbox treats, or any time.

As mentioned in previous reviews, I like to provide a variety of treats for all of the little ghosts and goblins who come trick-or-treating on Halloween. The treats I offer include both chocolate and non-chocolate items, plus a few non-food items. Smarties Candy Rolls are one of the many different treats I have offered over the years.

These nostalgic candies look like little candy pills, wrapped up tootsie roll style in a twisted up cellophane wrapper. Although the rolls come in different sizes, the ones we will be discussing here are the 160 roll box of Smarties. This big box works great for Halloween, pinatas, party favors, candy dishes and much more.

Each roll contains approximately 10 candies. The flavor is a mixture of sweetness and tartness, not to be confused with sweet tarts candies. These come in assorted flavors which the manufacturer lists as being orange cream, pineapple, cherry, strawberry, grape and orange. The artificially flavored candy tablets do not contain a strong flavor of any sort, only a mild fruitiness among the sweet and tart flavors.

Each 10 tablet roll (4 grams) of Smarties is considered to be one serving. There are 15 calories, 4 grams of carbs and 3 grams of sugar per serving. These candies are fat free and sodium free. Smarties are free of any of the top common allergens. In addition to being a healthier alternative to many of the other candies out there, these are great for sharing and are easily portable.

Smarties are made in the USA by Smarties Candy Company. This classic favorite has been around since 1949. These are offered online for around $9 for the 160 count box, but if you shop around, you may find a better deal.

Ingredients: Dextrose, Citric Acid, Calcium Stearate, Artificial Flavors and Colors (Red 40 Lake, Yellow 5 Lake, Blue 2 Lake, Yellow 6 Lake).

Allergen Statement: Smarties contain none of the following: gluten, (from wheat, barley, oats and rye), milk, egg, fish, Crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, wheat, peanuts or soybeans. 

* Nutrition information can and does change from time to time. For the most current nutrition/ingredient information consult the website or product packaging.

Originally published on Epinions.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

(Product Review) Granite Ware 18 Covered Oval Roaster

Granite Ware 18 Covered Oval Roaster. - CH0509

Product Rating: 5

Community Rating: Very Helpful

Pros: Made in USA, cooks evenly, easy cleanup, large size, not too heavy, inexpensive

Cons: Absolutely none, except that the porcelain could possibly chip but this does not affect performance.

Summary: This 18 inch covered roaster does a great job of cooking everything from Thanksgiving turkeys, Christmas hams, pot roasts with all the fixings, large casseroles, and lots more.

The holidays are fast approaching, which means getting ready to prepare holiday meals. Several years ago, my mother gave me a Granite Ware 18 inch Covered Oval Roaster that she picked up at an estate sale. She has been using hers for as long as I can remember, and really didn't need another one, but knew that I wanted one.

Since that time, I have used mine many times. I have used it for cooking Thanksgiving turkeys, Christmas hams, large pot roasts, and more. This 18 inch roaster works great for so many things, especially larger items that just won't fit in a smaller pan.

This roaster measures 18 inches long by 12 1/4 inches wide and 7 1/2 inches high.  You can easily cook an average sized turkey, or a larger ham or a big roast with all the fixings in this pan with no problem. According to the manufacturer, it holds a 15 pound turkey or an 18 inch roast. I find this to be fairly accurate if using the lid, but once cooked a 26 pound turkey in this roaster by using aluminum foil instead of the lid. I have used it for all of these things and more.

My mom uses hers for many other things as well. An extra large batch of lasagna is one thing she often prepares in the roaster and brings to family gatherings. It also works great for large batches of meatballs, scalloped potatoes, baked beans, apple cobbler, and other foods for potluck dinners.

The manufacturer states that the dark porcelain surface and steel core absorb the heat to distribute it evenly to the contents of the pan. All I know is that it does a great job of cooking everything I have prepared in this pan. I have never had any problems with things cooking unevenly when using this roaster.

This roaster has sturdy handles on each end, and they work well for lifting your roast, turkey, ham or other meal in and out of the oven. The domed cover fits snugly to keep the natural juices inside so meals are always flavorful and never dry. There is a large sturdy handle in the center so you can easily lift the lid. Remember though, that the handles will get very hot, so you should use a potholder to avoid being burned.

Before I got this roaster I tried roasting a turkey in one of the cheap aluminum pans. Never again! The pan was so flimsy that I nearly lost my turkey on the kitchen floor. Disposable pans like the one I used may work well for some purposes, but roasting a ham or turkey is not one of them. This roaster is perfect for what I needed. It is obviously not going to be as lightweight as an aluminum pan but is light enough that it is fairly easy to handle. Of course, once I put in that 26 pound turkey I mentioned earlier it was a whole different story. But then again, this isn't the fault of the pan.

Cleanup is fairly easy with this roaster too. I use Dawn Dish Detergent and a little hot water, and it cleans up nicely. For stuck on foods, I occasionally have to soak it for a short time, but even then, it wipes clean easily. This is also said to be dishwasher safe, although I usually wash my pans by hand. I see no reason why this would be harmed by the dishwasher though, since I have washed other porcelain items this way.

I also like that Granite Ware is made in the USA. I prefer American made products when possible, and for a price tag of around $10-$15 for a roaster like this, you really can't go wrong. I got a great deal because of my mom found me this used one for a great price, but I would have gladly paid full price if she hadn't found this one.

The only thing I don't like about this pan is that at some point, the porcelain got a tiny chip in it. This isn't uncommon for porcelain, and really makes no difference in the way this product performs. The small blemish was there when I got the pan, so I am not sure if it got banged around, or how it happened, but as I said, it isn't a problem.

I love this roaster, and would recommend it to anyone who cooks. It is one of my favorite pans, and works well for a variety of foods.

Originally published on Epinions.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

(Product Review) Novelty Manufacturing Gold Coins

Novelty Manufacturing Gold Coins (144 pieces)

Product Rating: 4

Community Rating: Very Helpful

Pros: Use for party favors, games, decorations, and more.

Cons: You may find a coin or two with rough spots (easily clipped or filed down)

Summary: Recommended for decorations, party favors and more.

While foil wrapped gold coins are great for some purposes, sometimes you might want non-candy Gold Coins for decorating or other purposes. You can pick these up for around $5-$6 from Novelty Manufacturing, and other retailers.

Novelty Manufacturing Gold Coins are made of sturdy plastic. The coins measure approximately 1 1/2 inches in diameter and come as a gross (144 coins). The color of the coins is supposed to be gold, but unlike the picture, is actually somewhere between silver and gold. This isn't a big deal, just something I felt should be mentioned because the picture is nowhere near the actual color of the coins.

These Gold Coins are great to use as play money when playing house or shopping games, as well as for decorations for your next St. Patrick's Day or pirate themed party. One note on these coins though is that they are not what most would refer to as pirate coins since the picture is of a Roman man, rather than any sort of pirate theme. Still, since these are geared more toward kids, I doubt that any of them would notice the difference, and no matter what the picture on the coin, they work well for the intended purpose.

We have used these as party favors in the past by placing a few into the loot bags we hand out, and keep some on hand for the kids to play with. For the most part though, we use these for decorating purposes. You can scatter a few on party tables, add them to a treasure chest or pot of gold for an attractive centerpiece, in pinatas, as incentives for kids to earn rewards for doing chores, getting good grades, or following rules, as prize tokens to buy prizes at carnival type games or other events, for playing a variety of party games. There are lots of great ways to decorate with these Gold Coins as well.

As I said, the coins are sturdy, and have multiple uses. Aside from the fact that they are made in China rather than USA, there is only one thing I don't like about these coins. They are manufactured in sheets of coins, kind of like the model cars you may have put together as a kid. If you have done this, you will probably remember that once the pieces are snapped apart, you may come across an occasional rough spot or nub on some of the edges. This isn't a problem for most decorating purposes, but if people will be handling them much, you might want to check them for any sharp edges. These can easily be filed down or clipped of if you find one. This worked well for the ones given to the kids for play money, although I didn't bother doing this for the ones used strictly as decorations.

As I mentioned earlier, these coins measure about one and a half inches in diameter, so you should use them with caution around small children because they could be considered a choking hazard. This is just a standard precaution for any small items, and should be common sense to most of us. Even so, even preschoolers can use these under close supervision for things like practicing math skills and counting.

As for the design of these coins, they are molded plastic, with heads on both sides. Each coin has the slogan, "Veni-Vidi-Vici" (Latin for I came, I saw, I conquered) printed along the top rim of the coin. Along the bottom rim there is a date printed in Roman Numerals. These ones have the number MCMLXXXXIV, which translates to 1994, although I am not certain whether all of the coins are dated the same. Maybe these double headed coins are not the most authentic coins out there, but they look decent as far as plastic coins go. The kids were very happy with them, and several people complimented me on the party decorations at our last event.

No matter how you use them, these coins are a decent product for a reasonable price. You will probably want to order more than one since 144 coins doesn't go very far, especially if entertaining a larger group or using them for purposes like filling treasure chests or pots of gold.

Update 11/26/15: Although the gold coins I originally reviewed don't appear to be available at this time, you can find a variety of gold coins to choose from here.

Originally published on Epinions.

Monday, October 1, 2012

(Product Review) Apex Ultra Bubble Lok 7 Day Pill Organizer

Apex Ultra Bubble Lok 7 Day Pill Organizer

Product Rating: 5

Community Rating: Very Helpful

Pros: Inexpensive, sturdy, easy organization, great for travel, doesn't spill

Cons: None

Summary: Recommended for organizing your medications at home and on the road. Quality product at an inexpensive price.

I have medical issues and therefore find myself taking several medications on a daily basis. Keeping track of these medications can sometimes be an issue, so I had to find an easier way to keep track.

The Apex Ultra Bubble Lok 7 Day Pill Organizer is an easy way to lay out medications for yourself or for a loved one so that it is easier to keep track. The plastic organizer has seven separate compartments, one for each day of the week. Each compartment has a snap lock lid to so you can open just one compartment to get the pills necessary for the day. Just press the bubble top of each compartment to release the lid, then remove the pills from the contoured compartment. The pills slide out easily.

The seven pill compartments are labeled for the days from Sunday through Saturday with large letters for easy identification. It is easy for even those of us with failing eyesight to tell at a glance which compartment is for what day of the week.

These organizers come in assorted colors, so you can choose a different color for different family members, or if you want to use a separate organizer for morning and evening dosages of your medications.

The compartments are quite large, enough to hold about 6 large capsules, or many more smaller pills. Most people won't need more space for their daily medications. As I mentioned earlier though, if you like, you can use a couple of these for morning, evening, bedtime doses, or any other way you find convenient for dosing ease.

This organizer can be used in your home, or as a travel medication dispenser. The locking system on the compartments works well to prevent your pills from spilling in your purse, suitcase, backpack or pocket. To open a compartment, you simply push the contoured bubble lock and the lid will open. The container does not pop open when dropped though, so the contents remain securely inside of their compartments. Closing the compartments is just as easy. Simply press down on the lid until the lid snaps shut. Your pills are locked securely inside and ready for use.

As with any medications, this container should be kept out of reach of children. The lids are made to prevent spilling, yet be easy to open, and children may open them as well.

Overall, I recommend this product to anyone who wants to keep better track of their medications, or as a travel medication container. It works well, is easy to open and close, and doesn't spill in your purse, pocket, or luggage.

Originally published on Epinions.

(Product Review) Shake-N-Go Equal Single Nutrasweet Packets

Shake-N-Go Equal Single Nutrasweet Packets - Office Snax Equal - OFX20008694

Product Rating: 1

Community Rating: Very Helpful

Pros: Individual packets make it easy to take along, low calories

Cons: Slight bitter taste, can cause health problems

Summary: Low in calories, but associated health problems make it a bad choice. It is a major migraine trigger for many, plus there is research suggesting many other health problems.

Years ago, I decided to look for ways to reduce my calorie intake. I experimented with many low calorie products as well as a variety of artificial sweeteners. Nutrasweet was one of the artificial sweeteners that I tried.

The Shake-n-Go Equal Single Serve Nutrasweet Packets are easy and convenient. They are easily portable as well. You can purchase a 100 count box, and have enough individual packets of Nutrasweet to last you for a long time.

Each packet contains enough artificial sweetener to sweeten your coffee, cereal, or other items. Just tear open the little blue packet and pour the white powder onto your food or drinks. Personally, I found it to be too much to sweeten my foods and drinks, and used only one half packet per serving instead. Each packet is considered a serving and contains just 4 calories.

As for the taste, a little goes a long way. As I mentioned previously, using an amount of this sweetener that is proportionate to the amount of sugar you would add might be a bit too much. Unfortunately, it also has a bit of bitterness to it, though not as bad as some of the other artificial sweeteners available. You can definitely taste the difference, and you know right away that you are drinking an artificially sweetened drink.

Unfortunately, some artificial sweeteners have side effects, and for me, Nutrasweet (also known as aspartame) is one of the worst. It is a migraine trigger for me, and for many others as well. I didn't realize it at first, but continued to get horrible migraines on a daily basis throughout the entire time I was consuming this product. Although I still get migraines often, removing this product from my daily diet eliminated at least half of the migraines I was suffering, in addition to the severity of many of the migraines I still had.

In addition to the problems I had from this product, I have seen a lot of research as to the ill effects that this product causes. Some of the articles I read blamed this product for everything from migraines, seizures and convulsions, chronic fatigue, depression, multiple sclerosis, asthma, blood sugar control problems, and much more. While I can't vouch for most of these issues, I do know what even short term use of this product did to me.

Many people are able to tolerate this product, as is evidenced by the massive consumption of diet products on the market that contain Nutrasweet. It is found in many diet sodas, diet candies and gums, and much more. I know many people who consume this product regularly and don't seem to have any problems.

If it works for you, then go ahead and give it a shot if you like. Personally, I can't recommend any product that has such horrible effects on my health, but if you really want to try it, I would suggest testing it from a restaurant where they offer the packets free with your coffee rather than purchasing them one hundred at a time.

Originally published on Epinions.

(Product Review) Tootsie Roll Midgets Candy

Tootsie Roll Midgets: 5LBS (Tootsie Roll)

Product Rating: 5

Community Rating: Very Helpful

Pros: Tasty, individually wrapped, easy to take along, versatile for all occasions

Cons: None

Summary: Delicious candy treat that is enjoyed by all ages. Trick-or-treaters love them, as does my family.

Tootsie Rolls have been a long time favorite for most of my kids, and I must admit that I enjoy one now and then myself. The Tootsie Roll Midgets are something that I pick up quite often. They are a great item to add to my trick-or-treat candy, candy dishes, goody bags, or just eat out of the bag.

A five pound bag of these tasty morsels contains approximately 720 bite sized pieces of candy. There are just over 23 calories per piece, while a 6 piece serving contains 140 calories.

These candies have the consistency of a soft toffee. They are easy to chew, or to enjoy the flavor longer, you can leave one in your mouth until it dissolves. Either way, you will enjoy the taste of a chocolaty treat, with just a slight hint of fruitiness.

Each piece is individually wrapped. They are easy to open by simply pulling on the ends of the wrapper, and popping the chocolate candy into your mouth.

These work well for a variety of purposes. I have purchased them for multiple occasions in the past, and they were enjoyed by both children and adults. They are perfect as Halloween treats, goody bag items, pinata candies, in stockings, in candy dishes, or any other occasion.

I recommend Tootsie Rolls Midgets for any type of party, snack, or treat. They are great for kids and adults, and make a wonderful addition to your lunch or any celebration.

Originally published on Epinions.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

(Product Review) Tootsie Roll, Junior Mints Candy

Tootsie Roll, Junior Mints - 1.84 oz Each X 24 Pieces (Tootsie Roll)

Reviewed by kelly60 on 2012-10-05

Product Rating: 5

Community Rating: Very Helpful

Pros: Fresh, minty goodness, covered in chocolate, bite size pieces, great for sharing

Cons: None

Summary: I've enjoyed these candies for decades, and feel good about offering them as Halloween treats, or sharing them with friends and family.

As I mentioned in previous reviews, I like to provide several choices when it comes to Halloween treats for all the ghosts and goblins who come to my house. I like to offer an assortment of candies as well as a few non-food choices, so I can be sure that everyone has something they will enjoy.

Junior Mints from Tootsie Roll are one of my favorite candies, and have been since I was a child. These delicious little candies were first introduced in 1949, and have become a favorite of many over the years. They are a miniature version of York Peppermint Patties.

I generally buy them in the 1.84 ounce boxes, which can be purchased in the 24 count case for those times when you need enough to pass out as trick-or-treats, goody bags, or other occasions. Besides those I intend to pass out to guests, I often purchase these for myself, as well as for my kids and grandchildren.

Junior Mints are made of a rich, delicious, dark chocolate, surrounding a cool, refreshing peppermint center. Each bite sized piece floods your mouth with flavor. Just pop one into your mouth and enjoy the freshness.

I really enjoy the cool minty goodness mixed with the delicious chocolate taste of these candies, and would rank these candies as one of my personal favorites. There are very few people that I know who do not also enjoy them.

Each box of Junior Mints contains 220 calories, 35mg sodium, and 10% of the recommended allowance of iron. Of course, you don't have to eat the entire box, however once you start, you may find it difficult to stop. I like to open a box when my granddaughters come over so I can share with them. This way, I am not tempted to eat the entire box myself. That is one thing great about these bite sized pieces is that they are great for sharing.


Sugar, Semi-sweet Chocolate (Sugar, Chocolate, Cocoa Butter, Soya Lecithin - An Emulsifier, Vanillin - An Artificial Flavor), Corn Syrup, Confectioner's Glaze, Modified Food Starch, Peppermint Oil, Invertase (An Enzyme), Soya Albumin (A Protein), Gelatin.

Originally published on Epinions.