Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Last Chance to Enter the June Cat-Lover's Contest!

Mr. Cheddar here...

If you haven't already, there's still time to enter the June MRLR Cat Lover's Contest!

Contest closes June 30th.

If you are owned by a feline (or two, three...) you won't want to miss this one.

And if you aren't owned by a feline, I wanna know why??? Snort!!!

Good luck to all humans and felines entered.

Make sure to stop by the first week in July to see if you're the big winner. :<)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Kiju Organic 100% Juice

I tried Kiju Organic fruit juice for the first time, over a year ago. It was not a good experience. The juice had a very strange taste. Suffice to say, the word GROSS comes to mind. I ended up throwing it down the drain. I realised afterwards, I should have returned it to the store where it was purchased for a refund.

I was thinking about this juice again a few months ago and decided to give the company an opportunity to respond to the bad experience I had previously with their products.

Here's where it gets interesting and a bit humorous I think, too!

I emailed Kiju On February 9th of this year and this is the response I received that same day:

Hi Geraldine - so sorry for your experience. That is NOT what our juice tastes like at all. You clearly have a product where the packaging has been compromised at some point, allowing the juice to be exposed to air.

Do you still have the package so that we can get the BB date coding information. Also - what size of product was it?

Please send that info along with your address so that we can either send you proper samples for review and/or coupons. We really do have great tasting juices that taste just like you'd expect - juice!
Ok, I was game. I'm all for giving anyone, including companies a second chance to "get it right". I sent along my mailing info. to receive the coupons mentioned in their response.

And I waited, and waited...and waited some more.
I even sent another email to let them know I hadn't received any coupons, in case they had been lost along the way. But that wasn't the case.

Well, lo and behold, 2 juice coupons arrived in the mail on June 8th!
Wowsa, 4 months after my initial contact with this company, they finally sent me 2 coupons (yes, 2 whole coupons LOL) to make up for this bad experience with their products and the very long delay in making any attempt to rectify the problem. And to give me the opportunity to find out what their juices should taste like.
So, I took one of my long-awaited coupons to our local food co-op and got a carton of the Kiju Grape Apple juice to try again. This time, the taste was ok, not awful like my first experience. Ok but nothing special.

And I did note something interesting about the name and the ingredient list in this product:

Ingredients for Kiju Grape Apple Juice:

Filtered water, concentrated organic apple juice, concentrated organic grape juice, vitamin C

Ahh...that explains the rather ho-hum flavour of this juice: water and then (second) Apple and (third) Grape juice, in descending order of the ingredients listed in this product. It actually tastes like apple juice with a splash of grape added for color. I've certainly tasted better.

What really amazed me about this whole experience was the fact that my initial complaint was answered so quickly and it seemed so earnestly at the time.

But then it took the company  4 MONTHS to finally send me 2 coupons to make up for the bad experience I had with their products initially and the opportunity to give them another try. Ridiculous!

A big part of the quality and reputation of any company/product has to be about how they handle/respond to any issues that customers bring to their attention and in a TIMELY way. I wouldn't call 4 months in any way, timely.

Kiju:  I won't be back for more! ;<)

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

Friday, June 15, 2012

Hamilton Beach 1.5 Qt. Ice Cream Maker

It hasn't exactly been "ice cream weather" here in Interior BC for the past couple of weeks. But I recently received the Hamilton Beach 1.5 Qt. Ice Cream Maker (68321Z) as a gift and have been giving it a try out, in spite of the cooler temperatures. Ice cream with coffee or Caf-Lib is one of my fav combos so that helps! ;<)

This is the first electric/automatic ice cream maker I've ever used. A long time ago, we had one of those old-fashioned crank models, when I was a kid. It needed rock salt and plenty of muscle power to turn (make that churn) out a batch of homemade ice cream. Fun memories but how times have changed! Now it's oh so easy to make all kinds of ice cream treats, without any fuss or brute strength required LOL.

The Hamilton Beach 1.5 Qt. Ice Cream Maker is so easy to use. And clean-up is a breeze too.

The inner freezer compartment needs to be put into the freezer for about 24 hours before you are planning to make ice cream. It's suggested in the instructions to just clean the unit after use and return to the freezer, so that it's ready for the next batch of ice cream yummies!

After the liner is thoroughly chilled, it's placed in the outer plastic unit, and the chilled ingredients are poured in. Unit on....churning and presto, 20-30 minutes later, perfect homemade ice cream. Made with your choice of ingredients and add-ons. And with no thickeners, additives, colors...as is the case with most mainstream commercial ice cream. Just fresh and oh so delish results!

I've made Vanilla and Mocha Pecan ice cream so far, both were wonderful. You can read the post about the Mocha Pecan Ice Cream with recipe here.

I've also got an: Ice Cream Lover's Giveaway coming up shortly, so stay tuned for that!

Only a couple of things that I think would make this product even better. When the ice cream is finished churning, it needs to be scraped out of the freezer bowl and into a container for storing. It would be great to have a small, rigid spatula included to make this easier. I used a large cake spatula that I had, so as not to scratch the interior of the freezer bowl but it wasn't ideal.

Also, the churning paddle is adequate but I think it could be a bit more "heavy duty". Perhaps one in stainless steel instead of the rigid plastic this one is made of? It gets put through it's paces, when it's close to the end of the churning process and the ice cream is getting very thick.

Another thing to mention, if it looks like there isn't enough ingredients in the container at the beginning of the churning process, you'll be amazed how it expands as it's processing. Definitly good to follow the recipe instructions and stick to the amounts suggested.

There are a few recipes included with this product in the instruction book but I've got a couple of amazing Ice Cream recipe books to share with you soon. And of course, creating and tweaking your own ice cream favorites to make is part of the fun too!

If you've been considering buying an Ice Cream Maker, this is a good one to buy. Reasonably priced to at about $35. -40. It will pay for itself in no time, if you've been buying premium ice cream products on a regular basis.

Visit the Hamilton Beach site to read more about all of their fine small appliances and products. And stop by Europe's Best to enter their current Hamilton Beach small appliance contest too. Some great prizes up for grabs.

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

Monday, June 11, 2012

CreateSpace (Self-Publishing)

CreateSpace is an Amazon company that specializes in self-publishing services including books, ebooks, music and film.

I tried out CreateSpace for the first time, a few weeks ago and I'm certainly glad I did.

I had been wanting to publish a collection of my poetry for a long time. I had started and stopped this project many times. With a couple of other self-publishing services that I had tried previously, including Lulu and IUniverse, there was always something that kept me procrastinating and not focused on actually completing my book.

 In terms of Lulu, I had high hopes initally after reading some reviews about their services. But when I attempted to download my completed poetry document file at their site; right off the bat, I was faced with an error message that made no sense at all. Listing several font errors for a font I wasn't even using! I was turned off big time and decided not to waste any more time there!

CreateSpace makes the whole process of self-publishing a book not only easy but fun too!  I was able to download my poetry document and with only a bit of minor tweaking to adjust for the page size I had chosen; it was ready to go within a couple of days, after being checked over by the CreateSpace team.

Here's how my book turned out:

And here's a link to the Amazon page with the Click Inside the Book feature included. (The back cover may be still appearing as it was for the first one I created (green) as this may still be in the processed of being updated on the Amazon product page.)

I then had a few things I wanted to change after I received the first copies of my book, including the cover and a few tweaks of the text, that were minor errors I had missed. No problem. I submitted an updated document, chose a new cover photo (this time, one I took myself) and presto, my book was on it's way to being updated to my complete satisfaction.

CreateSpace provides a Cover Creator option that makes this process so easy. And completely customizable. Not some "cookie cutter" same old, same old....options, as is the case with some of the other self-publishing companies offerings.

And with Amazon behind a book, well the opportunities to take it to whatever level you aspire to, are definitely there. Channels offered include: Amazon US, Amazon Canada, Europe, UK...library distribution, online distributors....impressive!

Their support services are excellent too. And again, an area that I think is so important and is lacking with too many companies, of all types it seems. I had numerous questions along the way and all were answered in a friendly, timely and professional way. No "jumping through hoops" to get someone to respond to questions and that's something that I really appreciate.

Price-wise. Hard to believe. For a mere $25. investment I not only was able to create my book to my complete satisfaction. The $25. also included the expanded distribution options, mentioned above and only available through CreateSpace,editing assistance and a free ISBN number. This was $25. very well spent! And without the expanded distribution, initial costs are FREE! Hard to go wrong.

Only two things that I can think of that would have made my experience with CreateSpace even better.

I had asked about the title and my name being included on the spine of the book but was told that for a book with 70 pages (as mine is) the spine was too small to allow for print. I know that Lulu does offer this service and it would be most helpful to have this provided at CreateSpace, especially when targeting bookstores and libraries for selling prospects.

Also, when checking the proof of my book online at the CreateSpace site, the magnify page option is a bit "wonky" with only a very large and rather small size of magnification offered. To have incremental zoom options, again would be helpful and appreciated.

I am now working on another book, this one a collection of my haiku poems. I am also putting together a marketing plan specifically targeted to regional libraries including a media release for both of my poetry books. Wish me luck! To see a labour of love come together as has been the case with both of these book projects is oh so satisfying!

If you've been delaying your own creative indie project be it a book, ebook, Cd....make sure to stop by CreateSpace to find out just how easy, inexpensive and rewarding it can be.

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

Friday, June 8, 2012

Jason Sea Fresh Toothpaste

I recently started using:  Jason Sea Fresh All-Natural Sea-Sourced Toothpaste . I had been a fan of Green Beaver toothpaste products (click for my review) for a long time and in spite of being satisfied with their products; it's always nice to give something new a try-out.

*Jason Sea Fresh Toothpaste has a pleasant, minty flavour.

*It leaves teeth clean and breath, very fresh.

*A little goes a long way.

*And with the larger than average sized 6 oz. tube for about $6. at our local food co-op and just over $5. at Amazon, it's very reasonably priced too.  A 75ml. 2.5 oz tube of Green Beaver brand is almost the same price, so it pays to look at the actual quantities you're getting in a tube. When they are all packaged and sealed in boxes, it can be misleading.

I did some checking re: the Blue Green Algae which is one of the ingredients in this product and found this informative article. Based on this information and some other articles I read online, it appears that the type of Algae used in this product is not only safe but can be beneficial for your health in a number of ways. Not that I'd recommend eating toothpaste! But of course, we do ingest small amounts when brushing teeth.

Here's the ingredient list for this toothpaste:

Calcium Carbonate, Aqua (Water), Glycerin, Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate, Mentha Viridis (Spearmint) Leaf Oil, Carrageenan, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice (1) , Aphanizomenon Flos-Aquae Powder, Bambusa Arundinacea Stem Powder, Carum Petroselinum (Parsley) Extract , Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Seed Extract, Perilla Ocymoides Seed Extract, Stevia, Rebaudiana Leaf/Stem Extract, Silica, Sodium Bicarbonate, (1) Certifed Organic Ingredient

and some additional information, from the company's website:

Strengthen your teeth and freshen your breath, without harsh abrasives or irritating chemicals. Sea Fresh® All Natural Toothpaste features Blue Green Algae (Aphanizomenon Flos-Aquae), rich in Calcium, proteins and antioxidants, to naturally strengthen your teeth and gums and potent Spearmint and Parsley Extracts to keep your breath fresh and clean. Our exclusive blend of natural polishers and stain-fighting botanicals includes Bamboo Powder, Calcium Carbonate and Silica to help prevent tartar build-up while gently brightening your smile. For a strong smile and fresh breath, use JASON Sea Fresh® toothpaste and mouthwash twice a day.

The JĀSÖN natural toothpastes promise:
√ No Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfates
√ No Preservatives
√ No Artificial Colors
√ No Artificial Sweeteners
√ No Saccharin
√ No Propylene Glycol
√ No Gluten

If you've been considering changing to a more natural toothpaste product and want one with a clean, fresh taste and that is economical to use, you might want to give Jason Sea Fresh Toothpaste a try. It also makes a nice change, if you've already been using a natural toothpaste.

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

Friday, June 1, 2012

MRLR June Cat-Lover's Contest (and May winner!)

Mr. Cheddar here.

Yes, I am spending a lot of time these days "chilling out" on the floor tiles and dreaming of the next big bug catch! Meowmie and I have also been putting together a prize package sure to please all you who are owned by felines for this month's contest, here at My Real Life Reviews!

Here's what's up for grabs this month:

Isn't this cool?

Meowmie actually wants this for herself but I told her no-can -dooodoo!!! Snort.

 This lovely cat-inspired tote has been kindly provided by Georgia's Gifts.

Here's a bit of info. about their feline-fab gift-galore website:

Georgia's Gifts is a website for cat lovers and gifts for cat lovers. Featuring Whimsiclay Cats, we continue to search for other whimsical ceramic and plush cats. cat home and garden decor, accessories and jewelry to add to our products.

You simply must stop by to check out all the goodies over at Georgia's place. She is an enchanting human and of course owned by felines herself. This tote bag is a mere sampling of the delights that await all feline-lovers. A great place to visit if you are looking for feline-themed gifts too, that are unique and oh so reasonably priced.


Our next prize:

The book: Crafting With Cat Hair is one that I've already reviewed here at MRLR:

This is a book that I can personally and whole-catedly endorse. You can read my full review here. And if you simple can't wait to see if you're the winner, there are ordering options included with my review.

 BTW, for all of you who have been inquiring about my hopes of meeting that babe on the cover, I'm still waiting for a reply email from this goddess! She is never far from my thoughts though, sigh...

Thanks to Random House for supplying a copy of this groooovy book, for this contest.

And last but certainly not least.

A feline sampler pack, personally chosen by me. Several sample bags of gourmet, personal fav cat foods will be included in the bundle! A whole lotta chompin' to follow. Sure to delight even the most discerning of felines!

Meowmie is in charge of packaging though, snort....as cello-tape and my fur do not make a good match! I leave the mundane tasks to the humans, whenever possible.  


The lucky winner will get all 3 prizes valued at over $50.

Contest open to residents of the US and Canada. Cat-owned humans only this time please.

Winner will be chosen by a random system. Contest ends June 30th.

To enter:  leave a comment below, including the names of your own felines, to be entered.

Winner will have 2 weeks to claim their prize, after the winner is announced the first week in July. If not claimed in that time period, a new winner will be chosen.

How easy and fun is that? Definitely human-doable, I believe! Snort!!!!


I'm looking forward to reading your comments/entries and DOOOOOO specify if any of the feline-females out there are also looking for love, I am listening. I can't wait forever for that cover-babe!

Laters, Mr. Cheddar, Feline Celeb Blogger, Fearless Bug Warrior and STILL looking for love.

Now Meowmie has something to add:

The winner of the Fab Foodie May Cookbook Contest is: RumpyDog!

Congrats, Rumpy and Happy Cooking!!!

and an update re: March Nature Clean contest:

Jen at Muddy Boot Dreams has now been chosen as the alternate winner for one of the gift packages as it was not claimed by the first winner (Jessica) who was previously chosen.

Brenda Cavanagh at Mullin Ave. Workshop was the other winner in this contest.

Winners have 2 weeks to claim prizes.

Send your mailing info to: myreallifereviews  at myway.com 

and I will get your prizes sent out.

Meow, Meow and Good luck everyone! :<)

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