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.