Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Nature Clean Natural Liquid Hand Soap

I like the convenience of liquid hand soap for washing my hands. I also like products that are unscented and not full of unnecessary or harmful ingredients.
I recently tried Nature Clean Natural Liquid Hand Soap (unscented) and I'm pleased with how it performs.
This soap cleans very well and a little goes a long way. I give the bottle one pump and that's plenty for washing my hands.
And the pump works great, not one that you have to "fight with" to get the soap out or one that sprays the walls! ;<) Have you had that kind of soap experience?
NO scent, love that but it also comes in 2 fragrance choices: Citrus and Peppermint. These sound rather nice, if I did like fragranced soaps. ;<)
The ingredient list for Nature Clean Liquid Hand Soap (unscented) :
Can't get much simpler than that!
Compare that with :
Softsoap Liquid Hand Soap Advanced Benefits Collection
Energizing Pomegranate & Mango
                             Energizing Pomegranate & Mango                   
  • Water
  • Sodium Laureth Sulfate
  • Acrylates Copolymer
  • Cocamidopropyl Betaine
  • Methyl Gluceth-10
  • PPG-10 Methyl Glucose Ether
  • Fragrance
  • Sodium Hydroxide
  • DMDM Hydantoin
  • Zea Mays (Corn) Oil
  • Butyrosprmum Parkii (Shea Butter)
  • Tetrasodium EDTA
  • Gelatin
  • Acacia Senegal Gum
  • Mica
  • Sodium Chloride
  • Xanthan Gum
  • Punica Granatam (Pomegranate) Fruit Extract
  • Mangifera Indica (Mango) Fruit Extract
  • Benzophenone-4
  • Citric Acid
  • Titanium Dioxide
  • FD&C Red No.4
  • D&C Red No. 33
  • FD&C Blue No. 1 
Yikes, I know which one I'm buying!!!
And did you know that many of the mainstream liquid soaps are also anti-bacterial? Read here why that can definitely not be a good idea, for regular use. What we use on our skin is ingested into our bodies and does have consequences for our long-term health.
I've always been careful to choose liquid and bar soaps that are not anti-bacterial, for these same reasons but it seems that a lot of the mainstream brands are anti-bacterial. For some consumers that might not be something that they've looked into, before purchasing these kinds of products. Again, buyer beware.
Nature Clean Natural Liquid Hand Soap comes in a generous 16.8 oz. US/ 16 oz. Canada  bottle and is priced at about $6 at the places I checked online, including Amazon. It's also available in a large 3L refill size.
And it's biodegradable, eco-friendly and not tested on animals.
The only (two) things that would make this product even better would be to have one with a moisturizing formula and if possible organic too. I wash my hands many times throughout the day and adding a moisturizing ingredient to this liquid soap would be great. I'd be willing to spend a few extra dollars for organic too!  
If you're looking for a reasonably priced alternative to the mainstream, chemically-laden liquid soaps that are available, you might want to give  Nature Clean Liquid Hand Soap a try. Sometimes, simple is best!
Overall rating for this product: Very Good. 4 out of 5.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Kindle Paperwhite

As the saying goes: never say never!
I was firmly entrenched in the "I will never own an ereader" category for a long time but not any more! I am now the proud owner of a Kindle Paperwhite, which I received as an early birthday present. :<)
So far, I am enjoying the Kindle Paperwhite but there were a few tense moments when it first arrived here. Well maybe not tense, but a bit frustrating!
I'm careful to follow the instructions with any kind of electronic gadgets,  how to set up etc..when I get a new "toy" . Yes, I actually do read the instructions!
Well, when it came to printed instructions with the Kindle Paperwhite, there wasn't any included with the package. I didn't know if I should charge it up first, turn it on first, did I need to be connected to WiFi for charging, set-up... as a non-techie person, I had a few questions and was left wondering how best to proceed.
I then checked online at Amazon and it was still rather sketchy when it came to step-by step set-up  on how to get started. And so much info. to browse through, that wasn't pertinent to what I was trying to find either. I finally just plugged it into my computer, allowed it to charge and then went ahead with the set-up, following the prompts on the Kindle itself.
Yes, I know that we are all trying to cut down on paper these days but a simple: Quick Set-Up Card or Page, included with the package itself, would have been most appreciated. And do they really need to send instructions in Canada and the U.S. in a gazillion different languages? I don't think so. That's sometimes the excuse for not including instructions with an item now. .
After getting things up and running, WiFi passwords and all (I usually don't use it, feel more secure with having my Notebook hard-wired to Internet) it was fun to try out some of the features that come with the Kindle Paperwhite.
I appreciated that the screen is really close to reading from an actual white paper book page, not like some of the earlier ereader models I checked out that had a greyish cast to them.
The page forward is so quick and easy too, without that unpleasant "scroll"  that again was what I disliked when I looked at ereaders a couple of years ago.
The pages load fast, no lag time. I'm a very fast reader and again, this was one of the things I didn't like about earlier ereader models I had tried out. Seemed way too slow to be pleasant to read with them. Not the case with Kindle Paperwhite.
The estimated reading time feature based on the speed you read, is so cool too.
I have noted already that the battery doesn't stay charged up as long as I had expected, when you are using the Kindle Paperwhite for hours at a time. I'm guessing this one will probably allow me about 10 hours of actual use, based on what I've noted already. Sometimes I read for hours at a time, so I guess I'll have to get use to charging this unit up on a fairly regular basis.
Overall, I'm happy to finally have an ereader and I'm glad that it's the Kindle Paperwhite.
I did a lot of research comparing the various options available with different brands/models before I decided on the Kindle Paperwhite. As is the case with any gadget, I picked out the features I thought I'd enjoy most and so far, it's exceeded my expectations. Still learning how to use all the features and feel a bit clumsy typing on the onscreen keyboard, but hopefully will improve on this in time. At least I know the keyboard, LOL and don't have to "hunt and peck" as some people do.
If you have an ereader, do share which brand/model you chose and why.
If you don't have one, are you planning to purchase one soon?
March 19th update:
 Here's the link to my Kindle (knit) Cover  that I mentioned below in a comment, in case you want to knit one too. :<)
Overall rating for this product: Very Good. 4 out of 5.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Ford County by John Grisham

When you live in a city of less than 10,000 people as I do and take taxis on a fairly regular basis (we sold our two cars when we moved here 5 years ago, our major "act of green" and with no regrets) you get to know the regular drivers fairly well.
One man that drives for our one and only local taxi company is an avid reader and I always enjoy discussing what we we both currently reading, when I get him as a driver. The conversation moved to John Grisham on a recent ride home and the book Ford County came up. He hadn't read it so I gave him my (twice) read copy to enjoy. How's that for a unique tip! ;<)
Thought I'd share my thoughts here on this wonderful book too.
I've been a long-time fan of John Grisham's books but never a fan of short stories by any author, for the most part. I usually find that short stories end much too soon for my liking, just when the story is starting to unfold. Not the case with Ford County by John Grisham.
 I picked up a copy of this book at a library book sale a couple of years ago. In spite of it being short stories, my love of most things Grisham won out and I shelled out the $$ to buy it. It was money well spent. :<)
Ford County takes the reader back to the setting for his first novel: A Time to Kill and John Grisham's home state of Mississippi.
I read all the stories in this book in a couple of days. Some of them made me laugh... loud and long. Some brought tears to my eyes. All were entertaining from start to finish. As is the case with most of Grisham's books, the characters were so real and memorable, long after I read the last line of each story,  making each of them a pleasure to read.
Down on his luck divorce lawyer, Mack Stafford gets a phone call that promises to turn his endless misfortunes around, fast and in a big way. 
Sydney, a dull and unpretentious data collector discovers a new skill for winning at a local casino and at the same time, making the man who stole his wife, pay for his misguided decision.  
When three "good, old boys" make the trek to Memphis to donate blood to a seriously injured friend, things run way off course in a big way and helping their pal is soon the last thing on their minds.
Just a small sampling of the entertaining characters and stories this book provides.
From the John Grisham website:
"Featuring a cast of characters you’ll never forget, these stories bring Ford County to vivid and colorful life. Often hilarious, frequently moving, and always entertaining, this collection makes it abundantly clear why John Grisham is our most popular storyteller."
"Grisham has always had a rare gift for breaking hearts when he invokes unforgettable images of the broken, hopeless South. Some of the stories are hilarious, and Grisham’s gift of humor has never found a showcase like this. One of these stories should find its way into the anthologies of the best short stories of 2009. It might not happen, but I for one think the stories in Ford County are that damned good.--Pat Conroy"
I couldn't agree more, on all counts.
Even if you've never been a fan of short stories either, this definitely is a book that might be the one to change your mind.
As I titled my review over at Amazon this is: Grisham Gold!
Overall rating for this book: Excellent. 5 out of 5. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Hamilton Beach 2 Speed Hand Blender (with whisk & chop)

As an avid cook and cookbook author, I've used a lot of blenders and food choppers over the years.
When it comes to portable, immersion types of blenders/choppers there are several features that I look for and expect:
-Easy to use, with attachments that connect quickly and stay in place while in use.
-Easy to clean.
- Powerful.
 Reasonably priced. ($30- 40 range)
-Not too heavy of a power base to use for extended periods of time.
-Added attachments that I will actually use.
-Quiet operation.
I recently tried the Hamilton Beach 2 Speed Hand Blender (model 59765) and it stacked up very favorably, on all counts!

I decided to give the chopper attachment a try first and I was happy with the results, chopping two veggies that I use in so many recipes: onions (and who likes chopping onions!) and carrots:

Two onions before.

And after a quick buzz with the chopper!

Four carrots before.


And after.
What I really appreciated was that it wasn't necessary to pre-chop the carrots or onions into small pieces, as was the case with some chopper/blenders I've previously used.
I broke the carrots in half, added them to the blender bowl and voila, a medium dice, after less than a minute of using the chopper. And if it works this well on hard, fibrous carrots, that's a very good indication how it will perform with other types of foods!
The blender bowl comes with a separate rubber base/lid which helps to keep the bowl in place on the counter, when chopping. What a great idea!
And relatively quiet too, Mr. Cheddar didn't even wake up from his nap when I was using it. :<) He is NOT a fan of the larger food processor I have which makes a lot more noise than the Hamilton Beach 2 Speed Hand Blender.
Another plus, the blender bowl is a 3 C. capacity, not too small to allow for chopping a good amount of food at one time. I've used other mini-choppers that had bowls that were so small they were basically useless. If I'm going to forgo chopping with a knife for smaller amounts of food prep, I need an appliance that makes the clean-up worthwhile afterwards.
The  Hamilton Beach 2 Speed Hand Blender definitely does!

 Blender base with attachments.
A couple of other pluses:
5 year limited warranty on this product. Don't see that very often with small appliances!
Also, a big, bulky English/French user guide was NOT included with this product, just a one page, safety/general use guide. I appreciate this as well. How many times does anyone every really read through the humongous user guides that still come with so many products? Not me!

And in Canada, that includes a French version, across Canada. So much wasted paper. More information about this product and recipes etc...are all available at the Hamilton Beach site. If I want it, I'll find it there. So far, what was included on the one-page user guide was more than adequate to answer my questions about using this product.

Only one thing that I thought was lacking: a beaker for blending smoothies and other drinks. I intend to use this blender for that purpose a lot, but need a container that's right for that type of blending. The beaker is sold separately but it would have been nice to have it included with the set.
If you are looking for a small kitchen appliance for blending, chopping, whisking...that you will actually use and not just have stashed in the back of the cupboard, collecting dust ;<) the Hamilton Beach 2 Speed Hand Blender is definitely one to consider.
Overall rating for this product: Very Good. 4 out of 5.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Stitch 'N Bitch Superstar Knitting by Debbie Stoller

I've been a fan of Debbie Stoller's knitting books since the first Stitch 'N Bitch book was published back in 2004.
Since then, there's been several additions to this book series including:
 Stitch 'N Bitch Superstar Knitting Going Beyond the Basics: published in 2010. 
And once again, Debbie did not disappoint!
I love so many things about this book. Debbie Stoller takes on the more challenging techniques and types of knitting: Fair Isle, Cables, Intarsia, Lace, Knitting with Beads, Steeks...and makes it all seem not only doable but fun too!
Speaking of Fair Isle, I recently tried this type of knitting for the first time, after reading the chapter on Fair Isle in Superstar Knitting and I was FINALLY feeling it was something I could actually do.
Ironically, the pattern I made: Fairly Easy Fair Isle Cardigan was featured in one of Debbie Stoller's previous books: Stitch N Bitch Nation.
But just reading the pattern and other articles on Fair Isle had left me with a number of questions that were all answered in Stitch 'N Bitch Superstar Knitting, including how to easily incorporate the yarn "floats' along the back of the knitting.
Yes, there are floats in knitting and they have nothing to do with water. ;<)
 If you're a knitter, you'll know what I mean.

Here's a photo of my finished results:
Not too shabby for a first Fair Isle try!!!
You can read more about this project here.
If I can learn Fair Isle, any knitter can!!! ;<)
And a big part of tackling this project and completing it successfully was feeling confident enough to try Fair Isle, after reading the instructions in Superstar Knitting.
If you've been looking for a easy-to-understand, "go to" guide for taking your knitting to the next level, Stitch 'N Bitch Superstar Knitting is a resource book, you'll refer to again and again. Complete with excellent diagrams throughout that are easy to understand too! And I've seen a lot of knitting books that fall short when it comes to the diagrams!
In addition to the instructions for a variety of knitting techniques, the book includes a beautiful selection of 41 original patterns: including something for everyone in the family and incorporating many of the skills you'll learn in this book.
I love the Tiptoes (toe) socks, Gretel Tam, Crush Shrug, Leafy Lace Cardigan, Life Aquatic Pullover and Dress to Impress Baby Sweater to name but a few.
The only addition I'd like to see in this book is adding yarn weights to the patterns, not just listing the actual yarn that was used in the design as photographed.
There are a lot of times that I'm trying to use up a stash yarn or can't find a particular recommended yarn. I find it most helpful if a pattern lists the actual weight/type of the yarn required (worsted, lace, bulky...) so that a substitute yarn can be used successfully too.
If you're already a fan of Debbie Stoller's work, you'll definitely want to add this one to your collection. And if you've never checked out the series before, Stitch 'N Bitch Superstar Knitting is a great place to start! Would make a thoughtful gift too.
Overall rating for this book: Very Good. 4 out of 5.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...