Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A Mr. Cheddar Review: Jiffy Cat Grass Kit

Mr. Cheddar here.
Yes, I'm baaaaaack....finally!
It's been a long, dreary winter here and Meowmie has been spending even more time on the computer these days, making it difficult for me to get my own work done.
But today, I've finally commandeered (how's that for a swanky, big word) the keyboard and have another fav feline product to share with all my cat and human admirers.
I'm a big fan of the Jiffy Cat Grass Kit.
Meowmie and I have tried many brands of these kits over the years. Truth be told, a lot of them stink, big time!! Even though the instructions were followed to the letter (And I make sure to supervise the humans here with any delicate operations such as this) many times, they have refused to produce even the minimum of green, verdant grass as expected.
Not so with the Jiffy Cat Grass Kit. This product is the real deal.
As you are probably already aware, house-bound felines in particular (and my outdoor pals in winter too) all need a source of greens provided to nibble on, to keep us at our best.

I like to think of my Jiffy Cat Grass Kit as my own personal salad bar! But without the heavy, fattening dressings that the humans seem to crave with their own salads, of course.
Here's how easy it is to use this handy kit:
First, the attractive package!
 Note the sensuous kitty on the front.
I just KNOW that's a female. And yet another of the fairer sex that I LOOOOONG to meet. So many gals out there and so little spare time!!! Sigh....sorry, I digress.

Next step, the big "burgery" chunk of soil stuff is then placed in the growing container and watered until it expands to mammoth proportions!  Well... maybe not mammoth, but it sucks up that H2O real good! Sluuuurp!!! ;<)
After that, the soily stuff is spread out just like cake batter snort....and the seeds are inserted, one by one. This is the part my Pawmie likes to do with a chopstick. What can I say, he doesn't get out much......
Then the plastic dome goes on top and the little seedlings get to take a rest in a dark place for a few days. When they start to shooost up and we see the green of their eyes (make that roots) it's time to put them in the sunshine to finish the process.
Then it's time to chow down! Yummm-O!
I love a few good chews a couple of times a day, to keep myself ahhhem...oh so regular and feeling fine. Also helps with any furball issues. Heh, we all need greens, not just the humans. So if by chance your human hasn't provided you with your own salad bar yet, make sure they read this review and get one of these kits real soon.
They can also read this info. about the need for greens in our feline diets.
Cats do NOT live by kibbles alone! No sir reee Bob! Snort.
We usually buy these kits at the local pet store but Meowmie also did a search for me over at Amazon today and found this kit in an organic form. And you know how much Meowmie loves organics, if you've been reading here for any length of time. The kits I get do not have any chemicals added to them and that's the main thing. But this is another Jiffy option that's a goodun too!
Well, it's long overdue that I bedded down for my morning nap so I'll bid you a wonderful day for now and I promise that my absence from this blog will not be so long next time. I know how much my fans miss me, based on the thousands of emails and letters I receive every week from adoring felines around the world. Just's probably only hundreds but who's counting. Snort.
And in case you've missed it, I have a new employment sideline, you can read about here.
Yes, I'm also a Private Eye these days:
Ched Perkie: Feline PI!!!!!
Talk about a babe magnet profession. There's some real perks to this gig I'll tell ya! Wink, wink!
That's 50 kibbles a day, plus expenses.
Just the facts maaaaam!!!!
Overall rating for this product: Excellent. 5 out of 5.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Practical Conscious Creation by Jackie Lapin

I've always been interested and believed in the concept of manifesting and the law of attraction. I've seen it's power come to fruition many times in my life already.
Over the years, I've read many books on this topic, including the mega-popular: The Power by Rhonda Byrne (click to read my 2 star review of that book).
What I've found lacking in so many of these other books is truly practical advice how to implement the power of manifestation and to enjoy it's many benefits and at times, seemingly miraculous results.
Author Jackie Lapin has written: Practical Conscious Creation a resource book that demystifies the art of manifesting. Each page is filled with practical, positive and (easily) doable suggestions how to enjoy the power and magic of manifestation in our daily lives.
A small sampling of topics explored (and in depth) in  Practical Conscious Creation:
- The Magic of Changing Your Perspective
-The Gift of Risk
-Twenty Ways to Trigger Abundance
-Clear Your Cache
-Fear: The Siren Call to Change
and many, many more.
This book is the most comprehensive and enjoyable book I've read about manifestion/law of atraction to date. There is actually enough material in these 250+ plus pages for more than one book!
My only "complaint" (make that suggestion) to the author is regarding the inclusion of : Practical Conscious Creation Tips throughout the book, which highlight particular suggestions. I found that these detracted a bit from the flow of each chapter as I was reading along. I would have appreciated these tips being included only at the end of each chapter, not interspersed throughout the book. A small change but one that I think would add to the overall enjoyment of this book.
Jackie Lapin (click to visit her wonderful website) is a world leader in educating, mentoring and coaching people on manifesting, providing ways for all of us to incorporate changes in our lives that can reap long-term, positive benefits. She certainly held my attention throughout this book and I'm looking forward to reading more of her books and information at her website, in the near future.
I've already been using some of the suggestions in this book with good results. I find that re-reading a few pages or a chapter on any given day, is what works best for me. That way, I can focus on these suggestions in particular and use what I can in a conscious and meaningful way.
One of the reviews at the beginning of this book that stood out for me was written by author: Don Baron. Here's an excerpt:
"Law of Attraction. Blah-blah-blah, it's a lovely idea, but ideas without practical application have left large groups of disillusioned people in their wake. Finally someone steps up and gives you the nuts and bolts of Practical Conscious Creation...."
 I couldn't agree more.
This book does not leave the reader "high and dry" wondering why manifesting and the laws of attractions are not working in their own lives; even though they may have diligently tried numerous, popular approaches (I can so relate)!
What I really object to in so many other books on this topic is the implication that everything that comes into our lives is due to our own "law of attraction". That we always manifest bad things that happen, through our own wishes, thoughts and actions. This kind of "doctrine" is a slap in the face to every innocent person who has been the victim of crime, abuse,neglect...and that's just wrong.
Practical Conscious Creation stands out from so many other books written about the laws of attraction and manifestation, from start to finish. If you read one book this year on this topic, make it this one. You won't be sorry. Available in paperback and Kindle versions.
Overall rating for this book: Excellent. 5 out of 5.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Pyrex Bake/Storage Ware

As any of my regular readers already know, I am an avid cook and cookbook author.
(My cooking/craft/cat blog can be found at: Veggies, Yarns & Tails if you'd like to take a look!)
With all the time I spend in the kitchen, I have definite likes and dislikes when it comes to bake and storage ware. Up until the past couple of months, I was a big fan of Pyrex ware, but no longer!

This is one of the bowls (lid colors have recently changed) that came in a set of Pyrex that I've had for about 2 years.

 I used these bowls on a fairly regular basis but ONLY for food storage.
I have never used any of them for cooking or baking, not even for heating anything up. And when I've stored anything that was hot that needed to go in the fridge, I always made sure that it was cooled before I did, to insure that the temperature change wouldn't be a concern for breakage.
One of the things I always liked about Pyrex was that if a piece was dropped (in the past) it usually didn't even break/crack. Well, Pyrex isn't what it used to be. I found that out a few weeks ago when I dropped this same size container a short distance, onto our arborite kitchen counter and....

It shattered like a piece of fine china!
Shards of glass everywhere, most of them so fine that they needed to be vacuumed up, which I did in a big hurry as Mr. Cheddar was curious to check out what was going on! I wish I had a photo of the mess from that day, but I did save a few of the bigger shards:

How I didn't end up with some of this glass in my eyes is a miracle. It just exploded on impact.
Even days later, after several vacuuming, there were tiny shards of glass in the hall and living room, adjacent to the kitchen. On the day the container broke, I had a large pot of soup cooking on the counter and that all had to go in the trash too. WHAT A MESS but it could have been so much worse.
Somewhere along the way, Pyrex has changed in terms of durability/formula although according to their company website, that never happened. This is not the same quality that I remember from years ago. My mom used Pyrex in the stove and for food storage for years and never had anything break like this container did.
This was a very upsetting and unexpected experience and a few days later, I decided to contact the Pyrex company to let them know about my experience. I filled in a customer service form at their website, explaining what had happened. Then I waited....and waited.
After sending this third detailed email:
Third attempt to contact your company! No one is getting back to me. Here's the previous email I sent last:
I wrote about an product issue I had over a week ago and haven't had an answer, it was in regard to this set:
one of the bowls in this set shattered into a million tiny pieces, when I recently dropped it a short distance to the kitchen (arborite) counter. It was very upsetting and unexpected and we were picking glass shards out of the carpet in the next room for days afterwards, they flew that far. Also, I had a large batch of soup cooking on the counter at the time, and this all had to be thrown out, with the risk of glass having landed there too.
These bowls were never even used for cooking, just for storage. Very unexpected and upsetting as I said above. I expect something to be done by way of compensation for the lost bowl, wasted food, wasted time and the shock of having this happen. It could have been even worse, if one of these shards had hit my eye.
Geraldine Hartman
PS: This set is a couple of years old fyi
Finally, I got a high priority email in reply to this one, with apologies and an offer of a credit for more Pyrex by way of compensation.
Funny that it took three emails AND mentioning my upcoming reviews to get any response! ;<) Well, not really funny, I'm guessing they get a lot of complaints to respond to, these days.
The last thing I want or need at this point is more Pyrex!
 I explained the whole experience in detail, repeatedly and asked for a small monetary credit in lieu of the shock of what had happened, all the cleaning, wasted time, wasted food....and was told I would have to submit a detailed, written complaint and send in some of the broken glass to be analysed and they would consider my request.
More delays, more wasted time, several emails back and forth and LOTS of forms (customs, labels, incident report....) to print again and again and fill out. Then, for over  a week this package was suppose to be picked up but never was.

I finally gave up in frustration. This whole fiasco had been going on since the early December with no resolution in sight.
I won't be buying anymore Pyrex in the future and I'm now in search of a safe, reliable alternative for glass bake/storage ware.
If you've been using Pyrex with a sense of security when it comes to it being safe/shatter-proof, think again! This was a very unexpected and upsetting experience and as I said above, it could have been so much worse!
Here's just a sampling of the Pyrex horror stories  I recently read online. What I think is even more frightening in my own experience is that these containers were NEVER even heated for cooking or baking, not once and this one still shattered like china.
This is not safe bake OR storage ware. Buyer beware!
Overall rating for this product: BAD 0 out of 5.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Best Meditations On The Planet by Dr. Martin Hart and Skye Alexander

I've been interested in the practise of meditation for a long time.
I can't say that I've been faithful to meditating on a daily basis over the years. But I know that when I do meditate; I feel better, sleep better, feel calmer...and the small investment in time required has always been worthwhile.
I recently read: The Best Meditations on the Planet by Dr. Martin Hart and Skye Alexander and I was impressed by this book for a number of reasons.
For many people, meditation seems like something that is just too much of an effort, time consuming, hard to understand and perhaps even a bit too "new age" to appeal.
The Best Meditations on the Planet demystifies the practise of meditation so that anyone can try it and find out just how much it can impact their lives in positive and long- term ways. And unlike a lot of books and articles on meditation that I've read previously, this book provides many ways to meditate and for dozens of purposes.
Some of the varied and interesting meditation topics included in this book:
-Improve Your Athletic Ability
-End Ties that Bind
-Focus on Forgiveness
-Quiet the Voice of Fear
-Release Stress at the End of the Day
-Release Performance Anxiety
and many more, providing a range that will be of interest to people of all ages, depending on their own particular needs.
The book is well organized. It's easy to find a meditation that's just right  at any given time in life.
This is a user-friendly approach to meditation that will be especially of value to anyone who's ever considered or perhaps tried meditation in the past but gave up when they couldn't seem to "get it". With this gentle, easy-to-understand approach, meditation is something that anyone can now experience and enjoy, for years to come.
A visually attractive book, making it a great idea for gift-giving too. And who doesn't know someone who is super-stressed and would appreciate a truly, thoughtful gift like this book? And one that provides numerous ways to easily facilitate and incorporate much needed "me" time into their daily routine.
The authors make the suggestion to record favorite meditations if this helps with the visualization process that is part of most meditations. I think that is a great idea.
I have also suggested to author: Skye Alexander that a CD to accompany this book or to be sold separately with some of the meditations recorded on it, would be most helpful too. Hopefully this is something that the authors will consider adding in the future, as a valuable tool for enjoying this book to the fullest.
If you've always meditated or even if you've never tried it before but always wondered about meditation; this is a book you won't want to miss.
Stop by Skye Alexander's site to read more about this book and to browse her many other wonderful books and articles, written on a wide range of topics. Also available at in paperback and Kindle formats.
Overall rating for this book: Excellent. 5 out of 5.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

11/22/63 A Novel by Stephen King

I don't usually read Stephen King novels but when I heard about 11/22/63 I decided to make an exception. With the 50th anniversary of JFK's assassination coming up this year (and possibly more from the Warren commission report finally being revealed)  it sparked an even greater interest for me in reading King's take on this historic event. A day in history that continues to captivate and intrigue so many people, and many of those not even born at the time.
First of all, don't even consider reading this book if you're not in for the long-haul. This is one BIG book. The hardcover copy I have is 849 pages! I'm a fast reader but it still took me a couple of weeks to get through this book.
I wanted to love this book, I really did. It had all the makings of a page-turner, based on the title and several blurbs I had read about it online.
The story begins in Maine, about a teacher: Jake Epping. The year is  2011. Epping, through a series of personal events finds himself on an unexpected journey back in time, presumably to save JFK from being assassinated. And in the process altering the history of the U.S. from that time forward (hopefully) in a positive way.
Well, if you're thinking that this is all centered around the assassination of Kennedy and the back stories leading up to that fateful day, think again.
When Epping first passes over into the past, it is not in 1963 or even 1962 but rather all the way back to 1958! There are many, MANY sub-plots in this book and it is only around page 700 that the reader gets to the day of the assassination itself.
Yes, some of the details are related to the shooting before that point in the story and there's quite a bit about the background of Lee Harvey Oswald the alleged assassin of JFK. But there is also a lot of twists and turns that for the most part only detract from the book.
Stephen King goes into minute (ie: tedious,boring,repetitious) detail about many events and characters that Jake Epping encounters along the way that have little to do with the actual assassination of JFK and don't add much to the overall appeal of the story.
Here's an excerpt from one  reader's (1 star review) from over at Amazon that I think sums it up in a nutshell:
"And then, about 550 pages in, it occurred to me. JFK's assassination is not the point of the book. The half cracked romance is. It would've been better if he'd titled the book something more pertinent to the "Romance Across Ages...oh, and a president."

Moreover, the book dragged on and on until the last fifty pages where he inserted characters that had no explanation
As for me, all of the above where the heck did the color coated time-police come from? and then summed up the changes to the present (made by meddling with the past) as Armageddon. Because that is OBVIOUSLY the ONLY conclusion that we could've jumped to here.

As long as the reader KNOWS going into this book that the plot against JFK is a sub-plot and not the point, they might not feel duped."


Duped indeedy! ;<)

And there are plenty of 1 and 2 star Amazon reviews for this book!
I don't even know why I kept on reading this book after the first 2-300 pages. As I said above, I wanted to love this book and I kept expecting that the next chapter would finally get to the real point of the story and move things along. It didn't.
I was very disappointed by this book. I think it could have been wonderful and memorable. Instead, I just wanted to get it over with.

The title is very catchy and Mr. King certainly grabbed my attention and millions of other readers with it. But things steadily go downhill from there. All the way to the ending that is just plain lame.
A waste of paper, time, eyestrain....a story that probably could have been told (and for the better) in about 400 pages, not this bloated "doorstopper" of a book.
Overall rating for this book: Unsatisfactory. 1 out of 5.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Vickie Howell Sheep(ish) Yarn

I recently finished my first pair of knit handwarmers. I wrote a post about this project at my cooking and craft blog: Veggies, Yarns & Tails that you can read here, which includes the link to the easy pattern.
I love the pattern and how toasty these handwarmers keep my hands and wrists on cold days, when I'm typing a lot.
But the yarn I used:

Caron Vickie Howell Sheep(ish) Yarn left a lot to be desired.
This is a 70% acrylic, 30 % wool blend yarn in a worsted weight, 3 oz. skeins.

 It was (very) annoying to work with as the yarn kept splitting and flattening out on the needles. But I persevered and completed the handwarmers, as I had already wound the skein into a ball and it would have been a hassle to return.;<)
I was reading more about this yarn today online and it's described at some sites as a roving type yarn, which is usually a much heavier, coarser type of yarn. That is not mentioned on the ball band on this yarn and the 5 MM needle size recommended is in keeping with an average worsted weight yarn NOT a bulky weight yarn. Again, it wasn't what I wanted or was expecting when I ordered this yarn online (sight unseen!)
As you can see in the handwarmer photo above, the finished results had a fuzzy appearance. Again, not what I wanted or expected. If you don't mind working with yarn that splits and flattens on the needle, this one might be OK but there are much better choices for worsted weight yarns available, lots of them actually.
I'm making another pair of these handwarmers right now in a nice bright gold yarn to wear over thin black gloves for outdoor wear and I'm already much happier with the results, after knitting just one cuff so far.
If you're looking for a smooth, easy to work with worsted weight yarn, keep looking!  Caron Vickie Howell Sheep(ish) Yarn is not one I'd recommend.
Overall rating for this product: Unsatisfactory. 1 out of 5. 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Racketeer by John Grisham

I've been a fan of John Grisham's work for a long time. I had been looking forward to reading: The Racketeer for weeks and finally got around to it during the Christmas holidays. Now I'm wondering why I bothered to put in the time.
The story starts out OK. Not great but OK. In keeping with most of Grisham's previous books , the pace of this story is fast and kept me relatively engaged until about half-way through. There, the story takes an implausible turn and things quickly go downhill from there.
From the Amazon product page:
"Given the importance of what they do, and the controversies that often surround them, and the violent people they sometimes confront, it is remarkable that in the history of this country only four active federal judges have been murdered.

Judge Raymond Fawcett has just become number five.

Who is the Racketeer? And what does he have to do with the judge’s untimely demise? His name, for the moment, is Malcolm Bannister. Job status? Former attorney. Current residence? The Federal Prison Camp near Frostburg, Maryland.

On paper, Malcolm’s situation isn’t looking too good these days, but he’s got an ace up his sleeve. He knows who killed Judge Fawcett, and he knows why. The judge’s body was found in his remote lakeside cabin. There was no forced entry, no struggle, just two dead bodies: Judge Fawcett and his young secretary. And one large, state-of-the-art, extremely secure safe, opened and emptied.

What was in the safe? The FBI would love to know. And Malcolm Bannister would love to tell them. But everything has a price—especially information as explosive as the sequence of events that led to Judge Fawcett’s death. And the Racketeer wasn’t born yesterday . . .

Nothing is as it seems and everything’s fair game in this wickedly clever new novel from John Grisham, the undisputed master of the legal thriller."
Sounds good, doesn't it?
Well, I won't go into plot details in case you are planning to read this one. Suffice to say (in terms of being unbelieveable) if for example this is how the FBI actually conducts itself, or even close, I would be very surprised. When protagonist: Malcolm Bannister is actually allowed to keep "the loot" in addition to the other "perks" he had been granted,  I just shook my head as I was reading. Come on Mr. Grisham! I know there are times when law enforcement agencies have to make allowances, cut corners.. in order to obtain evidence that they need to prove a case but this goes too far. By the author's own admission at the end of the book, he did little research for this one.

And sad to say: IT SHOWS!
The reaction to: The Racketeer over at Amazon is a very mixed bag, much more so than with most of Grisham's earlier books. There are a lot of 1 and 2 star ratings for this one, all saying pretty much the same things: implausible plot, unlikeable/unmemorable characters and a lack of quality in the writing that has a lot of people questioning if Grisham even wrote this one!
I'm not giving up on John Grisham, YET.
Hopefully, he'll get back on track with his next thriller. There wasn't much by way of (believeable) thrills in this book. I hope this isn't the beginning of the end when it comes to John Grisham's previous quality of work as a first-rate novelist.
No matter how big an author gets, in the book biz, a few "stinkers" can still bring them down and hard. It made me wonder, again after reading what Grisham said about his lack of research for this one, if he has decided to rest on his laurels for now and let his reputation as the master of the legal thriller, continue to sell mega copies of his new releases. It won't wash, at least in the long run. As is the case with most creative ventures, when you're a writer: you really are only as good as your last book.
Mr. Grisham, read the reviews, listen to your fans!
You didn't get to the top of the book pile, writing books like: The Racketeer.
Overall rating for this book: Fair. 2 out of 5. 
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