Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Simax Glass Bake/Storage Ware (and Pyrex Update)

**** A select, top- rated product at My Real Life Reviews: to order ****
As some of my regular readers will remember, I previously wrote this review/post about my recent BAD experience with a Pyrex glass container that "exploded" on impact, when I dropped it a short distance, onto a kitchen counter.
Since that upsetting and potentially dangerous experience, I've been doing a lot of reading online about various glass bake ware options and also about the different types of glass used in popular kitchen glass bake ware that is available. You can read more about  borosilicate glass vs soda lime glass here.
I recently found out about Simax glass bake ware that is made from borosilicate glass, not the soda lime glass that is now used in Pyrex and also Anchor Hocking products, another popular glassware product line.

I decided to recreate a similar experiment to what happened the day I dropped the Pyrex storage container.
I dropped the Simax storage container (seen below) from approximately the same height (about 8-10") as I had dropped the Pyrex container previously (this time wearing safety goggles, just in case).
First drop:
I tried again, second time:
 nothing, nada...
The Simax container came through with flying colors! :<)
It just bounced slightly and landed on the counter completely intact, as seen here:

Unlike what I was left with, after dropping this similar sized Pyrex container, once:

Here are just s a few of the larger glass shards that I saved from that experiment.
The whole kitchen counter, floor and carpet in the room adjacent where covered with tiny, sharp glass shards that we were finding even a week later, embedded in the carpet fibers, under heat registers etc... A REAL MESS!

On the plus side, this experience with Pyrex has inadvertently been an education in itself.
 I've also been reading extensively online about many, many bad (and most a lot worse than mine) experiences reported by angry (and usually long-time)Pyrex users have had. Some lawsuits reported too, I'm not surprised.
It also led me to try a viable alternative for glass bake/storage ware: Simax Glass and as someone who uses glass in the kitchen whenever possible, that's been a real plus!
Here's just a small sampling of Simax's gorgeous bake ware/ glass products:



Isn't this beautiful? I want this teapot!


Simax Glass (Technical Information) from their website:

"By its chemical composition and properties Simax glass ranks among the types of glass of the group of clear „hard“ borosilicate glass „3.3“, which excel in a high heat and chemical resistance and which are defined by international ČSN ISO 3585 Standard. It complies to the full with the properties prescribed by these standards.
A wide range of technical and laboratory glass products, industrial equipment and household boiling glassware is made of SIMAX glass. Thanks to their properties and a high use value these products have become much-sought-for in many countries all over the world.
Owing to its properties SIMAX glass is utilized there, where the highest demands are made on the products with regard to the heat and chemical resistance and neutrality in relation to substances or preparations, which may be in contact with them. i. e. in chemistry, petrochemical, food and power energy industries, metallurgy, medicine, microbiology, pharmacy, machinery and laboratories,
Products made of SIMAX glass mass are smooth and imporous, perfectly transparent, indifferent to catalysts, corrosion resistant even in a heavy duty operation of up to 300 degrees Centigrade without a sudden temperature variation.
SIMAX glass is very much environmentally-friendly and in terms of environmental protection it is absolutely faultless."

Simax is available from these online retailers:
I'm looking forward to trying more of Kavelier Glass/ Simax's bake, serving,storage...products, in the future. I'll keep you posted with my results.
So far, I'm impressed, not only by their beautiful and durable products but also their outstanding customer service team. They have been most helpful in answering all of my questions, promptly and completely. And that counts for a lot too!
Overall rating for this product: Excellent. 5 out of 5. 

Friday, February 22, 2013

U is for Undertow by Sue Grafton

I'm a late-comer reader to the Sue Grafton, Kinsey Millhone Mystery series.
Many years ago, I read G is for Gumshoe and although I enjoyed the book at that time, I didn't read any more of this series until the last couple of years. But I've made up for lost time, having now read almost all the books in this series to date which is currently at:  V for Vengeance.
What's been the biggest surprise reading this series has been how varied the style of story, Sue Grafton has written for each one. In some ways, that's been a good thing, keeping things fresh and entertaining. In other respects, not so much. I'll get into more about that in a minute...
For any of you that aren't familiar with this mystery series: Kinsey Millhone, the main character, is a private detective living and working in the fictional city of St. Teresa, CA which appears to be loosely based on Santa Barbara.
The stories are set during the 1980's and Kinsey remains a single woman (with two marriages in the past) in her 30's throughout. Kinsey is small in stature but for the most part, a " tough cookie" not afraid to take on the bad guys and definitely suited for the life of an 80's gumshoe .
Working as a PI during that time appears to be a lot more low-tech and labour-intensive than would be the case for modern day detectives. IMO, setting the stories in that era is a good thing, adding to the appeal of the books. But I'm guessing for some younger readers, it might be hard to fathom the pre-Internet world that Kinsey inhabits.
U is for Undertow was published in 2009 and is one of my favs in this series. I like a lot of stories that feature two separate time lines running parallel throughout the story and this is the case in U is for Undertow set back in the 1960's and also the present day of 1988 for this particular book.  
The story begins with Kinsey being hired by 27 year old, Michael Sutton who has been haunted by a memory from his childhood in the 60's that he wants Kinsey to look into. One that he believes will lead to solving a kidnapping that's been a cold case for over 2 decades.
Sue Grafton found just the right balance in this story featuring intriguing and varied characters, many with dark secrets that will finally be revealed by the end of the book and just enough detail and description, to keep the pages turning.
What I've disliked in some of Ms. Grafton's previous books is when there has been too many insignificant characters brought into the story (and for no apparent reason even by the end of the book) and sometimes over-the-top attention to details about surroundings, clothing, food...the list goes on and on. Happily, not the case in U is for Undertow. 

Not once does Kinsey obsess about her lack of clean socks or less than stellar hair style in this story! There's not even a mention of the nail scissors coming out for a trim this time. And although Kinsey's "all purpose" black dress IS mentioned briefly, it doesn't come up again and again in U is for Undertow.
If you've been reading along with this series, you'll know of what I speak when it comes to Ms. Grafton's love of minute details! ;<)
Another thing I do like about this entire series is the fact that you don't have to read the book before the one you have to get into the story. Ms. Grafton does a great job of bringing the reader up to speed with Kinsey, recent cases if relevant and then it's onward to the story at hand, in short order.
So, even if you haven't read any previous Kinsey Millhone Mysteries, you could definitely pick up a copy of U is for Undertow and enjoy it, without the need for referencing earlier books in the series.
I'm looking forward to see what W brings!
Hopefully Sue Grafton has already got that one in the works.
Overall rating for this book: Excellent. 5 out of 5.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Popular Nutritional Bars: A Hexane Watch List!


I recently found this extensive list of popular nutritional bars that includes information about the soy ingredients used in many of them and those that are derived using a: hexane vs hexane-free process.
And there goes another convenience/snack food that I enjoyed, off my list: Cliff Bars.
I was surprised and disappointed to see that this company (likely) uses hexane derived soy in it's snack bars. :<(
I'm going to find the time to make my own nutritional/snack bars from now on. I don't want to eat foods that have even traces/residues of hexane (click to read an in-depth report about the dangers of hexane) in them. More and more, it seems that "from scratch" is the only way to insure this isn't the case.
On a more positive note, here's a post from my cooking blog with several options for easy homemade snack bar recipes you might want to try. Plenty more recipes online too.
Fast and easy to make, healthier, taste so much better and fresher. And cheaper too!
All win-wins! :<)

Friday, February 15, 2013

Giovanni Hydrate Body Lotion (Cassifluer White Tea)

Right about now, I think most people are in need of some serious skin care moisturizing options. For me, it's my hands in particular that get dry and rough, this time of year.
I recently tried Giovanni Hydrate Body Lotion (Cassifluer White Tea) and I loved it right from the start!
 As my regular readers already know, I'm not usually a fan of fragranced products of any kind. But I received this lotion as a gift and given the light, pleasant scent I noted immediately I decided to give it a try; instead of regifting as I often do, when I receive any kinds of scented products.
I'm so glad I kept this one! ;<)
-This product does a great job of really hydrating the skin without it feeling greasy or oily.
-The lotion absorbs well into the skin. Very soothing.
-I note that even after repeated handwashings throughout the day, my hands still feel and look softer, after using this product. 
-As I've mentioned above, the white tea fragrance is lovely. Light and pleasant.
-An ingredient list that's far superior to most moisterizing lotions on the market and, includes several organic botanicals and essential oils and not a long list of questionable chemicals that is unfortunately, so often the case with these types of products.
Click through for additional information about this lotion from the Giovanni site.
This lotion also comes in a variety of other fragrances that sound amazing.
 Click here to check out all of them (I can't decide what to try next!)  and to browse Giovanni's complete product line, which is extensive.
I also previously reviewed Giovanni's (amazing) hair gel (click to read the full review).
I still think this is the best hair gel on the market. And again, with an ingredient list that is a lot better than other leading hair gels, including natural and (by a mile!) for the mainstream brands.
If you are need of a little pampering right about now as Februrary oh so slowly moves along (sigh...) you might want to try a bottle (and what a pretty bottle it is, love the shape) of Giovanni Hydrate Body Lotion.
Would make a great gift too, on it's own or to add to a spa/gift/shower/Mother's Day basket. And who doesn't appreciate a thoughtful and pampering little gift ? :<)
Overall rating for this product: Excellent. 5 out of 5.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

My New Blog Announcement

I have a new blog!
Woven Dreams Prompts is a creative prompt blog that welcomes participants each week (new prompts up on Sunday) to share their creative interpretations in whatever form they choose for that particular week:
poems, prose, photos, sketches, quotes...
Read more about Woven Dreams here.
Hope you'll come and join us soon.
Happy Week! :<)

Friday, February 8, 2013

Sol Cuisine Mushroom Rice Burgers


Although I've been making an effort to "cook from scratch" more and more, including the basics like: bread, buns, burgers, dressings....there are times when it's great to enjoy the convenience of good store- bought options.
I've been using Sol Cuisine Mushroom Rice Burgers for a couple of years now. A tasty, vegetarian burger patty with an ingredient list that's far better than many of the other meatless burger choices out there:
Ingredients for Sol Cuisine Mushroom Rice Burgers
for Canada:
Filtered Water, Vegetables (Portobello and Button Mushrooms, Onions, Carrots, Red & Green Bell Peppers, Potatoes, Garlic), Organic Cooked Brown Rice, Soy Protein Concentrate, Modified Cellulose, Sunflower Oil, Organic Wheat Free Tamari Sauce (Water, Organic Soybeans, Salt), Yeast Extract, Spice, Sea Salt, Organic Evaporated Cane Juice.
and for the U.S.
Filtered Water, Vegetables (Portobello & Button Mushrooms, Onions, Carrots, Red & Green Bell Peppers, Dried Potatoes, Garlic), Organic Cooked Brown Rice, Soy Protein Concentrate, Yeast Extract, Modified Vegetable Gum, Sunflower Oil, Organic Wheat Free Tamari Sauce (Water, Organic Soybeans, Salt), Spice, Sea Salt, Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, Parsley, Onion Extract, Garlic Extract.
I LOVE mushrooms and these burgers have a definite mushroomy flavour.
I also appreciate that the vegetables are at the beginning of the ingredient list for these burgers, not at the end, as is the case with some of the other brands. Definitely not an afterthought with Sol Cuisine Mushroom Rice Burgers!
These burgers have a nice, meaty texture that doesn't get soggy or gooey after they are cooked. Don't you just hate when that happens? Some of the other brands I've tried over the years were inedible after they were cooked, for that reason alone.
These burgers cook up fast on the grill or stove top. 
Each burger contains only 90 calories, low in fat and sodium and provide 8 grams of protein.

Well, these were all good points about these burgers and I was feeling good about recommending them until I received an email from one of Sol Cuisine's company reps, yesterday:

Here is their email (emphasis/bolding is mine):

"All our products are hexane free however we do use hexane-extracted soy. We've thoroughly researched our alternatives and to-date have found that we cannot achieve the same great texture our customers love using non-hexane-extracted soy. That said, we are continuing experimentation at our plant… Stay tuned.

Several of our burgers use soy we extract here with a hexane-free process or do not use soy at all. They are our Almond Grain Burger and our (COMING SOON) Indian Masala Burger (called the Indian Aloo Tikki Burger in the US) and our Sprouted Quinoa Chia Burger.

We use organics in many of our burgers – for example the Mushroom Rice uses organic brown rice. Our Almond Grain Burger is 67% organic. We use organic and local ingredients wherever possible, while keeping our products at a price point our consumers find accessible.

Our new Sprouted Quinoa Chia Burger uses a base of organic quinoa and we have 3 organic certified SKUs: our Falafel with Sauce, BBQ Tofu Ribs and Veggie Crumbles.

The Mushroom Rice Burger's a great SKU to review because it's an elevated take on the traditional
mushroom rice burger, which uses field mushrooms, white rice and often cheese. Ours uses portobello and button mushrooms (we recently doubled the quantity so you get great mushroomy flavour in the product) and organic brown rice, in addition to red and green bell peppers… Yum."
Oh, oh....there goes the alarm bells!!!
Seems to be some definite double-talk (to put it politely) when it comes whether there is hexane in these burgers.
I was under the impression from previously checking into Sol Cuisine products that they were ALL hexane free. But if they are using hexane-extracted soy in these burgers, I wouldn't personally consider this a hexane- free product.

And based on what's being said in this email, their IS a way to extract soy without the use of hexane!
If you aren't aware of the dangers of hexane in foods, you can read more here.
And as I wrote about here some other popular vegetarian burger options leave a lot to be desired too. It really is worth it to do some research online before deciding on what brands you want to buy and consume.

But based on this experience, I realize now that sometimes you have to dig deeper, to get ALL the pertinent facts/details.

I also previously reviewed Sol Cuisine Original Burgers (click for full review). Looks like I'm going to have reassess that review/rating, based on the information I'm now being told by this company.

For now, it's back to making and freezing homemade veggie burgers for me. I don't want to have to worry about picking the right variety (ie: hexane-free) of a veggie burger, from any product line!

I can live without the convenience factor of store- bought veggie burgers, if I can't feel good about eating them. And I'll keep checking for other better brands/products too.

On a more positive note and related topic, I'm re-posting my recipe for Bread-Machine Rosemary Flax Buns over at my cooking blog today.

These are the best burger buns I've ever tasted and that's not because it's my recipe! ;<) This is a  very popular recipe from my cookbook.

And without a good bun, any kind of burger is just a burger! LOL

If you've never made your own burger and hot dog buns, this is a quick and delish recipe to get started.
Overall rating for this product: Unsatisfactory. 1 out of  5.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Erzulie Gentle Eye Make-up Remover

I'm always on the look-out for more natural alternatives to mainstream products (including cosmetics) that still do what they're suppose to do, with no compromise.
 I recently tried Erzulie Gentle Eye Makeup Remover and this one's definitely a product that not only stacks up favorably compared to mainstream eye makeup removers, it actually exceeds all the brands I've tried in the past. And there's been quite a few, over the years.
-Erzulie Gentle Eye Makeup Remover comes in a generous 2 ounce sqeeze bottle.
-It has a pleasant, mild fragrance, definitely not over the top in this respect, and that's a good thing.
-A little goes a long way.
-Non-greasy, it has a soft, gel consistency.

-Very reasonably priced at $6.

-An ingredient list that's hard to beat:

"Organic Ingredients:
Olive Oil, Grapeseed Oil, Vegetable Wax, Sunflower Oil, Castor Oil, Citricidal (Grapefruit Seed Extract), Lavender Essential Oil."
 And best of all, it really works!
I don't wear eye shadow but I do wear mascara and eyeliner on a fairly regular basis and with one swipe of this product on a warm washcloth, voila....it's all gone. And no red, runny eyes afterwards either.
Here is some additional information about this product from Erzulie Cosmetics:
"This highly effective, moisturizing eye makeup remover really works!! It easily takes off all eye makeup. Liner, waterproof mascara, eye shadow, ect. A small amount goes a long way and its all natural, organic and vegan. I was having trouble finding a formula that actually worked and I hate putting chemicals in and around my eyes.

Who said oils were bad for you?All these oil- free formulas are loaded with chemicals. Oils help new lashes grow and keep them healthy.

So here it is my dream eye make up remover formula. creamy and super soft. Restores beautiful lashes. Great as an intense moisturizer too!!
2 oz malibu squeeze bottle super gentle no stinging or burning".

I've been a fan of Erzulie Cosmetics for years. I previously reviewed their liquid foundation and eye depuffer balm (click to read my complete reviews) which are two of the many Erzulie Cosmetics that I use on a regular basis.

Stop by Erzulie Cosmetics over at Etsy or at the Progress in Health site that offers not only Erzulie Cosmetics but many other outstanding natural product lines. This is a company that  provides consistent quality, reasonable pricing and customer service that is hard to beat.

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

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