Monday, February 28, 2011

A Mr. Cheddar Review:Greenies Cat Treats

Mr. Cheddar LOVES Greenies!

Here's what he had to say about them this morning, in cat-speak:

"Meow, meow, meow yummmm....greenies. Now can I get back to my nap Meowmie?"

Well, I guess that's all the Ched plans to contribute to this particular post so I will take over.

I've been owned by a number of cats for many, many years. Dental health is always a concern when it comes to overall feline health and well-being. Having their teeth cleaned at the vets is an option but that involves sedation, is certainly stressful for cats and expensive too. If at all possible, it's great to find ways to keep their teeth healthy and clean on a daily basis and with Greenies that's been easier to accomplish.

"The moment you give Feline Greenies® dental treats to your cat, you’ll hear nothing but the sweet purring of joy. Not only does this treat deliver a taste cats love, but the unique teeth-cleaning shape of Feline Greenies® dental treats is clinically proven to help reduce tartar and plaque buildup cleans teeth, freshens breath, and stirs up purrs of joy."

It's been true in this feline household. And unlike many of the cat "treats" out there that contain some questionable ingredients (I've even seen sugar and flour  in the list on more than one occasion, yikes!) here's the ingredient list page for the various types of Greenies for cats.

What I really note that's different about Greenies is the texture of these treats, it's crunchy but still porous, easier for cats of all ages to bite into, while still a providing a good workout for the teeth and gums.

Our dear Mitzi, who lived to be (in terms of cats) a ripe old age of 21, was still active and frisky right up to her last week with us. She had gotten to the point in the last couple of years of her life that most regular kibble food was just too hard for her to bite into. But Greenies, those she could still crunch on and enjoy. I credit these treats with keeping her healthy and her teeth still ok, for probably much longer than they would have been, without Greenies.

I know that it's recommended that we brush our cats/dogs teeth, in-between vet cleanings but in reality, does that really happen on a regular basis? I've tried brushing my cat's teeth several times over the past few years. Usually the only thing that comes of it is a stressed-out cat and a chomp on my hand by way of a feline GET LOST and NOW Meowmie!!  If you've found a way to brush your pet's teeth, without them giving you a "just reward" in return, do let me know!

Greenies really seem to have a better than average product for cats and for dogs when it comes to a crunchy treat that is beneficial in several ways. They have a variety of products/flavors available (with some free/discount coupons available at their site on a regular basis too)in pet stores everywhere. They also have some Greenies for sneaking in meds. if required.

With February being Pet Dental Health Month, it's a good reminder to check out your pet's oral health on a regular basis. And maybe give Greenies a try too! I also recently noted several of their products available on Amazon and very reasonably priced.

BTW, The Ched didn't want me to bring up the D-O-G word but I thought, fair is fair! Equal time for the canines. Their teeth are very important too.

Overall rating for this product: Very Good. 4 out of 5.
**Updated rating as of October 2013: Unsatisfactory. 1 out of 5 **
(see my comment below)

Friday, February 25, 2011

New Blog Launch!

Starting Monday February 28th, I will be hosting a new blog:

This (my 4th!) blog will be my way of spreading some good vibes, happy thoughts, smiles and laughter online. I will be posting there on a daily basis, Monday to Friday.

 I hope you will stop by often for a happy break during your day.

We all deserve a break. And we all deserve to be happy!

Have a wonderful weekend. G

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Haiku Mind by Patricia Donegan

Haiku Mind, 108 Poems to Cultivate Awareness & Open Your Heart by Patricia Donegan is a special book.

The power and appeal of haiku poetry is explored in depth throughout this beautifully presented book.The author's detailed and thought-provoking interpretation of each poem is lovingly and heart-fully offered throughout.

This is also a wonderful book to relax with, at the end of a busy day or week. A source for words and phrases to meditate upon and inspire. And you don't have to be an expert or regular follower of haiku poetry to thoroughly every page.

I was touched by the work of this author. Moved by her thoughts for each haiku poem and what they meant to her on a much larger scale. Timeless, eternal lessons.

Some excerpts from the book:

"As our culture speeds up and our personal lives feel overbooked and busy, haiku can offer an easy way to slow down, appreciate the simple things around us and give us a moment to reflect on our lives."

"Basic Goodness:

first light
everything in the room
was already here"


migrating birds-
fields of pampas grass
show the way"

This book would also make a special and memorable gift.

Overall rating for this book: Excellent. 5 out of 5.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Burt's Bees Coconut Foot Creme

    Living in Canada during the winter usually means months of dry, cracked, uncomfortable feet. I've tried many products to relieve the problem and I have yet to find anything better than Burt's Bees Coconut Foot Creme.

So many of the similar products I've tried do little or nothing by way of lasting results. Burt's Bees Coconut Foot Creme is a winner in so many ways. It's very rich and soothing. It also has a lovely, mild coconut scent, not like some of the "pepperminty" over-the-top offerings of many other creams and lotions. I also have had some itching and rash reactions using other products, but with Burt's Bees never any adverse reactions, just soft, smooth, better-looking feet!

I found it most effective to apply the cream liberally at bed-time and then put on a pair of thin comfortable cotton socks to wear overnight. After only a couple of nights, the results were significant. Smoother skin, cracking visably reduced, even helps with cuticles around toenails.

Some information about this product from the Amazon page:

"Combines coconut oil, lanolin and vegetable glycerin to revive and rejuvenate even the driest, most neglected feet. There's also a hint of natural rosemary and peppermint oils to refresh tired feet. Coconut Oil The flesh of the coconut is rich in emollient fat and, when pressed, yields a white, sweetly-scented, super-moisturizing oil, which is a solid at room temperature but easily melts on the skin. "

I've always been a fan of Burt's Bees products. I was sorry when they quit selling cosmetics, they had one of the best natural lipsticks I've ever tried. I'm certainly glad though that they've continued to offer a wide range of skin care items, including this wonderful foot creme. If you've never tried this product and are looking for a way to improve the appearance of your feet significantly, give this one a try. It really does work. Great for the summer too and sandal-season is just around the corner. And there's no hiding rough feet then!

Overall rating for this product: Excellent. 5 out of 5.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Lion Brand Recycled Cotton

I really like this yarn...

It was easy to crochet with (except for a bit of minor splitting here and there but not bad considering it's a blend of fabric and yarn fibers).

And the finished results were even better than I hoped for:

This capelet turned out beautifully, made in this yarn.

Pattern took: three (and a bit!) skeins in Marine Blue for the Size Medium. Here's the complete post about this crochet project, from one of my other blogs: My Poetic Path .

Speaking of blogs, they are stacking up! I'm working on a new one (#4 )right now, stay tuned, will be online soon. I guess you could say I'm on a BLOG-ROLL LOL !!!!

I digress..back to the yarn. It has a soft but slightly textured finish to it and the combined colors of the yarn fibers really makes it attractive. I especially appreciate that it is using up fabric discards and turning them into something not only usable but beautiful as well.

Made from cotton fabric pieces that would otherwise be discarded when fabric is cut to produce tee-shirts, Lion Brand Recycled Cotton yarn reduces waste and conserves resources. These clippings are sorted by color, minimizing the amount of dyeing needed for the final yarn. The sorted cotton fiber is then blended with acrylic.

  • 3.50 oz./100 g (185 yd/169 m)
  • 72% Recycled Cotton, 24% Acrylic, 2% Other Fiber
  • Weight Category: 4 Medium: Worsted-weight, Afghan, Aran Yarn; 3-1/20-Ounce (100 g), 185 yd (169 m) 
With spring and summer just around the corner, it's a great time to start thinking about warm weather knitting and crochet projects. This capelet would also be a great beginner's project if you've had the urge to give crochet a try but haven't gotten around to it before. Happy Hooking!

Overall rating for this product: Very good. 4 out of 5.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

My Passion for Design by Barbra Streisand

I have been a Barbra Streisand fan for many, many years. Her amazing talent as a singer,actor, director... not to mention the inspiring story of her life and all that she conquered along the way and doing it "her way" makes her an easy person to admire, in many respects.

So, when I received this book (her first) as a gift recently, I was pleased. And what a  BIG book it is, almost 300 pages, with lavish color photography (most were taken by Barbra Streisand) throughout.

Barbra explores and details her lifelong love of design while taking the reader on an extensive tour of her home in California and all the decorating and renovating that went into making it her dream home. And far, far away from her humble beginnings in New York as a child.

It is a beautiful book to browse through and the love for her home and the incredible amount of work that went into decorating each room, is evident. But for me, what came to mind again and again, looking through the book and studying the rooms was how austere, even cold so many of them seemed to be. Almost a museum-like atmosphere.

No, I didn't expect socks on the floor, ashtrays and TV tables but somehow I pictured a warmer, more relaxed setting than what the reality is for Barbra Streisand.

It's also staggering to consider what must have been spent on getting things "just right" as the attention to detail in every room, every garden etc... is hard to even comprehend. The years that went into this project. It may be a design accomplishment on the grandest of scales, but is it a home?

Here's what one disgruntled reader had to say about this book on Amazon:

Alan W. Petrucelli (THE ENTERTAINMENT REPORT (ALAN W. PETRUCELLI)) - See all my reviews

She was, by far, the greatest star. And everyone knew it. Now Barbra Streisand has added "author" to her resume. "My Passion for Design" is being billed by Viking flaks as a book that "focuses on the architecture and construction of her newest home, the dream refuge she has longed for since the days when she shared a small Brooklyn apartment with her mother, brother and grandparents." Actually, it's a 288-page exercise in excess, of self-indulgent pleasure, a glossy and slick photographic smear against the unemployed, the working class, the ordinary Joe. She has more money than you and I ever will have, and she makes she knows it. Most of the photos were taken by Babs . . . of a zillion-dollar home that looks uncomfortable and actually resides only in the pages of AD. She offers a tour of her basement which is a mini strip mall, complete with stores that have only one customer. She writes about polluters and those who destroy the environment, yet has no problem telling us she cuts down dozens of trees to make room for a pool. If I didn't see her name and photo on the dust jacket, I would have bet her Tiffany lamps that this book was a cruel hoax, a pitiful year-end practical joke. Streisand promises "a portion of the proceeds" from the sale of the book will be donated to the Barbara Streisand Women's Cardiovascular Research and Education Program at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center." A portion? At $60 ($500 for the "deluxe edition," signed and numbered with a DVD tour directed and narrated by guess who!), she should give all profits to needy causes. I love her talent, but I have lost my respect for the woman.
Amen, Alan! Enough said!

OK, I wouldn't put what I thought about this book and what some of it represents that harshly but he has got some points that ring true.

Oh Babs, maybe you should have left the photographs in an album instead of flaunting them to the world! LOL

I'm still reading through the text of the book, a little at a time but I probably won't finish reading it all. It's certainly a detailed account of Barbra's work on this property, the gardens, the rooms, the furnishings,the history. Also, a look back at her life and her journey to define her own sense of style that is lavishly displayed throughout her home. But looking at it from the standpoint of my own vision of Barbra, it was a disappointment. If you've had a look at this book yourself, I'd love to know your opinion.

Overall rating for this book: Fair. 2 out of 5.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Botanical PaperWorks

While recently browsing a health-food magazine at our local food co-op, I happen to find an article about Botanical PaperWorks, a company selling unique and eco-friendly paper products.

What makes their products so special? After the paper has been used in a variety of items including: journals, invitations,business cards,calendars and many others; instead of ending up in the recycle bin (or worse- the trash) they can be planted and the end result is wildflowers or herbs, not waste! Now that's my kind of recycling!

One of many journals and notebooks available. These can be personalised and make special, memorable gifts. Also perfect for company promotions, events etc. I have several of these notebooks and love the idea of my thoughts and words going on long after the time they were written. Back to the earth and to bloom again as flowers.

A wedding invitation that would certainly leave a lasting impression. And long after the special day is over, beautiful wildflowers to keep the memories alive for months to come.

An example of one of the calendars.


And the final blooming results:

I haven't planted any of the paper yet so I can't attest to how the wildflowers turned out for me. These photos from their website certainly look pretty! I am looking forward to "planting time" to see this final, sustainable result, when I have used up my notebooks/journals and it's time they move along in life's cycle.

Botanical PaperWorks is providing some of best items I've seen/used, when it comes to innovative and beautiful  earth-friendly paper products.

Some information from the Botanical PaperWorks website:

Founded in 1997 by paper experts and authors Heidi Reimer-Epp and Mary Reimer, Botanical PaperWorks is the world-leading producer of eco-friendly paper products that grow into flowers when planted. We manufacture and design stationery, invitations, wedding favors, and corporate and promotional products made from paper embedded with seeds.When planted, the seed paper grows into wildflowers or a variety of culinary herbs.
Our clients are individuals and companies who want to make good environmental choices and celebrate life's special events in an eco-conscious manner. From individuals purchasing wedding favors to Fortune 500 companies like Starbucks, Sony and TimeWarner, Botanical PaperWorks is trusted for events and celebrations around the globe. And we appreciate the media who regularly feature Botanical PaperWorks' innovative and eco-friendly paper products, Martha Stewart, Fast Company, the Wall Street Journal and the Huffington Post.

Stop by their site to check out all their products. Well worth the time.

Overall rating for this product: Excellent. 5 out of 5.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Blogging for Bliss by Tara Frey

I have been blogging for a few years now, on a strictly "fun" basis at my cooking,craft and cat blog and also my poetry blog (see sidebar for links). When I started planning the set-up for this new review blog, I bought a couple of books to help me with the many questions I had how best to proceed. I wanted to create a more commercial blog that was not only useful to readers but one that would also be "easy on the eyes" and tastefully presented.

I visit a LOT of blogs/sites in any given week. I cringe and usually exit pronto!!! when I see some of the flashing blinkies, banners,pop-ups and just plain junky presentations that assault visitors on many of the more commercial blogs and sites.

I wanted to do better. And that's my ongoing goal as I continue to grow this blog and it's readership. The positive feedback I've been getting so far has definitely been encouraging and most appreciated. I credit reading Tara Frey's: Blogging for Bliss as one of the reasons I'm apparently on the right track so far!

I am still learning and have a lot of work ahead of me, but what a wonderful learning experience this has turned out to be. Books like: Blogging for Bliss make it so much easier to accomplish all of the things I'm trying to do here and believe me, there are not a lot of blogging books out there that are non-techie and yet still packed with useful information and resources.

Tara Frey
 delivers in her beautifully crafted book. Not only does she provide helpful and easy to implement tips in terms of blogging platforms,photography, post suggestions etc...she also provides many helpful links to other blogs that provide a wealth of excellent (and usually free)resources and plenty of inspiration.

This is a blogging book that is unlike the rest out there. It doesn't just go through the "meat and potatoes" of set-up, writing,SEO suggestions and the regular fare. The author's focus on the beauty and appeal of a well-crafted blog throughout is what really makes this book unique. I really appreciate the creative approach that Tara Frey has taken in this book. It stands out from the rest of the how-to blogging books available in so many ways.

In other reviews that I've read about this book, the inclusion of a number of Tara's favorite blogs had been a negative point for some readers. On the contrary, I thought that including beautiful examples of creative and well-designed blogs to be a definite plus. As the saying goes: "a picture is worth a thousand words" and after visiting many of the suggested blogs from this book, I came away inspired and even more excited about getting my new blog up and running.

Tara Frey has done a great job with this must-have blogging book. Currently on sale at Amazon so this is a great time to buy!

Overall rating for this book: Very Good. 4 out of 5.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

KnitPicks Shine Worsted Yarn

I am in love with this yarn!
I recently knitted this lovely shrug, in KnitPicks Shine Worsted- Serrano. It came out beautifully, made in this oh so soft to the touch, worsted-weight yarn:


 Here are the details of this yarn, from KnitPicks :

Content: 60% Pima Cotton, 40% Modal® natural beech wood fiber
Weight: Worsted Weight
Knitting Gauge: 4.5 - 5 sts = 1" on #6 - 9 needles (4.0mm-5.5mm)
Crochet Gauge: 11–14 sc = 4" on I - K hooks (5.5 mm-6.5 mm)
Amount: 75 yards/50 gram ball
Care: Machine Washable/Tumble Dry Low

Modal® natural beech wood fiber gives high quality Pima cotton an elegant sheen and soft drape while minimizing pilling and stretching. This very appealing yarn can be used in any of your favorite designs calling for worsted weight yarn. Supremely comfortable for warm weather garments, and the easy care of machine washability fits right into your summer lifestyle. Excellent for showing off textured stitches and cables.

What do I love about this yarn?

First of all, a soft, very smooth texture that doesn't pill (I've already hand-washed and blocked this shrug). A great price (total for this shrug was less than $20 wow!!! I used 7 skeins). My kind of bargain. No dye running when I washed it, not a bit, amazing, considering the brilliant red this Serrano is. Cotton fiber mixed with the beech wood fiber makes it an interesting blend. Cotton is always my favorite when it comes to knit or crochet garments. Comfortable year round. A wonderful yarn to work with, no splitting or breaking at all, in spite of it being a blended yarn.

I will definitely be using KnitPicks Shine Worsted yarn again. It also comes in a Sport weight. See the glorious colors available. And the customer service department over at KnitPicks is wonderful too. Very prompt replies to any question I've sent to them.

Read more about this yarn with a link to the free shrug pattern over at my cooking and craft blog: Easy Lace Knit Shrug.

Overall rating for this product: Excellent. 5 out of 5.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Clorox Green Works Dish Soap

In my continued efforts to switch over to more earth-friendly products, I recently gave Green Works Dish Soap a try.

 I had used some of the other Green Works products previously, the laundry detergent and one of the spray surface cleaners. Both of these worked well. I can't say the same for the Green Works Dish Soap.

First of all, it takes too much product to achieve any kind of suds, when washing dishes. It doesn't cut grease very well either. And the "fragrance" of this product (which seems to linger on some dish surfaces after they are thoroughly rinsed) is not the best. A chemical smell instead of no smell at all. In my opinion, when dishes are rinsed, there shouldn't be any lingering scent of any type, pleasant or otherwise. You can read more about Green Works Dish Soap here.

I'm still looking for a good green dish soap. I've tried a couple of other products in addition to Green Works. Again, the cleaning was just not up to par.

I'll let you know if I find any green dish soaps that I think are better than Green Works in the future. If you have any suggestions, do leave a comment and share!

Overall rating for this product: Unsatisfactory. 1 out of 5.

KD SMART Pasta Dinner

        OK, I admit it.

I am a long-time and probably will be lifetime KD FAN!

An "addiction" that I never grew out of. I know that I'm in good company in that respect. There are a lot of KD lovers out there, some admit it, some don't.LOL And for me, being a "foodie"/cookbook author  has not changed that either. Not that we make this a diet staple by any means, but as the saying goes sometimes: "it's just gotta be KD".

So when the new "Smart" version of Kraft Dinner came out, I was interested in seeing what they had created in terms of a hopefully healthier but still classic KD flavoured mac and cheese in a flash. It seems that more and more mainstream food companies are looking for ways to add nutritional value to their family favs.

I don't know if much can be said in that respect when it comes to the new KD Smart (a serving is suppose to contain the equivalent of a 1/2 serving of cooked vegetables)  but the taste is just fine IF you like cauliflower. And yes, I do. If they are trying to corner the market on picky-eaters who hate all veggies, I don't think that's going to happen with KD Smart. It has a definite cauliflower flavour in my opinion. Not unpleasant but again, not for someone who loathes this veggie. Read more about KD Smart ingredient/nutritional info. here.

I have found that it takes less time to cook the pasta in this mix, about 5 minutes instead of the usual 8-9 minutes that the regular KD pasta requires. The Smart pasta tends to clump a bit, if left to cook longer or not prepared ready to serve right away.

I think it's a step in the right direction when it comes to a family convenience favorite but I still wouldn't call this nutritious fare. Add some veggies on the side though, a scoop of tomato salsa to top it and it does make for an adequate lunch or light supper. If it's "gotta be KD" in your home this is a product that is worth a try. As long as you aren't expecting the exact replica of KD Original. If that's the case, this isn't it.

Overall rating for this product: Good. 3 out of 5.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Tofurky Beer Brats Gourmet Vegan Sausages

As an avid cook, cookbook author and long-time vegetarian, I am always on the look-out for new products to try that are vegetarian or even better vegan and of course,taste great. They are some winners and losers out there, particularly when it comes to meat-substitutes/alternatives: veggie burgers, patties, hot dogs, sandwich slices. With so many people looking for ways to cut down or gradually eliminate meat from their diets, these products are steadily gaining popularity with not just vegetarians/vegans but meat-eaters too.

If you are looking for a good veggie sausage product to try, the Turtle Island Company definitely has a winner with their Beer Brats. Yum, yum...and not anything like some of the rather "scary" choices available that are in my opinion only a small improvement from regular meat wieners and sausages. And some of these with very questionable ingredient lists too.

What do I like about Tofurky Beer Brats? Well, the taste and texture of these sausages is exceptional. Spicy but not overly. A nice "meaty" texture that stays that way even after they are cooked. And ingredient lists that are much better than many similar products from other companies. Certified vegan too. One concern: I'd like to see a lower sodium content for these. Up with the herbs and spices (my cooking mantra these days) and lower the salt! Perhaps a low-sodium version is something this company might consider in future? I hope so.

I've found the best way to cook these veggie sausages is to saute lightly with a tablespoon of vegetable oil for a couple of minutes then add a small amount of water (2-3 tablespoons) cover and steam for about 3 minutes more. They also work on the grill but I do think the addition of water and steaming is even better, in terms of keeping them at their best for serving.

I noted at the Turtle Island site that the ingredients for U.S. and Canadian versions of these Beer Brats are quite different. Not sure why. This review is based on the Canadian product and I'm pleased to see that organic tofu tops that list.

If you haven't tried Tofurky Beer Brats and have been looking for a good, meatless alternative to sausages/hot dogs I think you will be pleasantly surprised. I know I was!

I also use these in a variety of recipes including the Russian Beet Borscht from my vegetarian cookbook: Not Just for Vegetarians. Finely chopped, they add a nice rich flavor to this and many other soups such as split pea, bean, corn.... Stop by my cooking blog to check out a number of soup recipes from the archives that include chopped vegetarian sausages or slices as an ingredient. Beer Brats are a flavourful choice for these or just on their own with side dishes or in a bun. I've also tried the other varieties of these sausages: Italian and Kielbasa, very good too but Beer Brats still came out as the top choice!

Keep in mind, these are BIG sausages (a whooping 3.5 ounces each) when deciding how many you need to buy for yourself and for your family! Visit the Tofurky site at: Turtle Island/Tofurky products. 

PS: FYI. Update from an email I received from the Turtle Island customer service department:  "The Canadian ingredients are different than the American ingredients because Canada has different requirements than the US. For instance, Canada requires vitamin fortification for meat alternatives and the US doesn't. Also, Canada forbids the use of the term non-GMO, so we leave that off our Canadian packaging even though all our ingredients are non-GMO. Also, yes, we are working on lower sodium options. "

Overall rating for this product: Very good. 4 out of 5.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Shangri-La Diet by Seth Roberts

I am not a follower or believer in most diet plans. For the most part, I think they are doomed to failure, almost from the get-go. The Shangri-La Diet by Seth Roberts has been the exception for me.

After years of slowly watching my weight creep up (and all the denial and elastic waist-bands that go with that scenario) I happened to find this book at a book sale and decided to give dieting ONE MORE TRY! I am so glad that I did. As of today, I am 22 pounds lighter than when I started The Shangri-La Diet (about 4 months ago) and I am feeling great. Not a fast weight loss perhaps by some standards but it's been consistent and I've kept it off with no backsliding.

So why has The Shangri-La Diet been such a good experience for me? First and foremost: NO HUNGER PANGS! Isn't that the death of even the most sincere diet efforts for most of us?

Some other great features of this diet: you eat what you normally would eat (sensible portions of course) but no crazy  or unfamiliar/disliked foods that you must eat or absolutely forbidden fare that you can't.

If you are at all familiar with this diet you will already know that the basis is a "dose" or two of fructose-water or water mixed with light olive oil, taken a couple of times a day. I went with the fructose water (and only once a day for the most part)and it worked like magic! It may seem too simple to work but it does. And it's a realistic and very easy way to keep motivated and on track, whatever your food preferences are.

I've still got another 15-20 pounds to go, to reach my goal weight. I hope to achieve this goal in the next 2-3 months. I know that I need to step up my exercise regime, that's been a bit hit and miss with the winter arriving this year in BC with lots of snow. It's made for icy sidewalks and trails. Brisk walking being my favorite exercise and miles at a time has been hard to keep up consistently. I've been resorting to working out at home: aerobics, dancing etc...not the same but better than nothing. I'm going to increase my activity in whatever ways I can and hopefully will reach my goal sooner than expected. I'm OK with the weight loss rate that I've had so far. It's been almost effortless and it's really given me a boost in confidence already. Skinny I come!

If you'd like to read more about my diet journey to date, including several tips that have helped me keep on track and motivated and a link to Seth Robert's blog/site, here are my previous diet update posts at my cooking and craft blog: The Shangri-La Diet.

If you've been on this diet, do share your experiences here. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the Shangri-La Diet. I'm a believer and I am so glad I picked up this book and gave dieting, one more try. This one's been the charm!

Overall rating for this book: Excellent. 5 out of 5.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

HerbaTint Hair Color

I tried this "herbal" hair color product a few months ago. I was not impressed with the results I got. I actually gave it a couple of attempts, adjusting the shade I had originally chosen (first Brown, then Light Chestnut) attempting to achieve a medium brown color. What I ended up with was a blotchy mess! And both times, the color was also much darker than what I expected, almost black at the back of my head,where my natural  hair color is darker.  It took weeks to lighten up and I ended up snipping off a considerable amount of hair at the time to get rid of the unexpected/unsatisfactory results.

At the time of my first HerbaTint application, I hadn't used any color products on my hair for several months. Not exactly "virgin" hair but at the same time, not with a lot of build-up from other products that could have impacted the results I got from this product.

My hair was also very dry and brittle after using Herbatint. I personally know of another woman who swears by this product, I don't really know why though. Her hair is a mess: frizzy and a very unflattering blotchy mix of colors, at the best of times.

I bought HerbaTint at a health food store and for that reason, believed at the time that it was safer and less toxic that the mainstream hair color choices like: Clairol, L'Oreal etc. I should have done my homework it seems. Based on the ingredient list here, and some toxicity reports I've read online since I used it, it's questionable if this is any better, in terms of a safer alternative to hair coloring.

I don't really know if there is such a thing as a natural hair color product (for me, it's been to attain a medium brown color) unless you stick with homemade mixtures such as: sage rinse (tried it, didn't do much), walnut shells, various herbal teas and rinses etc...or henna (can be a bit tricky to achieve consistent color results and quite messy).

So for now, I'm giving my hair a rest from any type of coloring. Instead, I'm focusing on getting my hair into good condition and plan to go for a significant "trim" in the near future.

Shiny, healthy, attractive hair can and does come in many colors, even when it's mixed with some grey or white. I colored my hair for many years with the mainstream commercial hair color products. I don't want to continue to use these products for many reasons now. But if a more natural and eco-friendly alternative does present itself (if you know of any, please share) I'm still up for giving it a try.

Overall rating for this product: Unsatisfactory. 1 out of 5.

A Mr. Cheddar Review: SlimCat Exerciser/Toy

Mr. Cheddar and  I have both been making an effort lately to get more exercise and eat sensibly. For me, it's been voluntary. For the Ched, let's just say he's not one to over-exert himself, unless of course yarn attached to knitting needles/a crochet hook is involved. ;<)

 Since the passing of our dear Mitzi , Mr. Cheddar has gotten a bit lazy to put it bluntly. In spite of our daily efforts to engage him in playtime, he's still not convinced that a nap or a snack is ALWAYS a better idea.

Enter the SlimCat toy/exerciser! I found these at our local pet store last week. They are also available (at a better price!) at  A plastic ball that you put treats/kibbles into and adjust the opening so that they come out (slowly) when the ball is moved around. It seems to be working. Mr. Cheddar is still happier when the grub shows up in his stainless steel chow-bowl, but he is getting " the goods" from this new toy too, which we are subbing at mealtimes, a few times a week.

If you tried SlimCat with your own cat(s) let me know how it went, thanks!
Chiao for now, from me and the soon to be svelte Mr. Cheddar!

Update: Since this review was first written a few months ago, the locking mechanism has loosened up quite a bit, for adjusting the size of the opening, where kibble is released. It still works but not as well as it did originally. Mr. Cheddar is still using the SlimCat but not on a daily basis. He's not crazy about the concept of working a bit for his chow but he will if there's no other options at din-din time.

I still think this is a good product and one that can really benefit more sedentary cats. I do think the design needs a bit of work though, to make the lock more secure and sturdy. I also think that adding a measuring spoon/cup would be a handy feature. Just pouring in kibble is not very accurate. I've been using a measure we have on hand for this purpose.

Overall rating for this product: Good. 3 out of 5. 
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