Homedics Shiatsu Massager

Homedics Shiatsu Massager

What is the Best Neck Massager?

What is the best neck massager you can buy for stiff, sore necks, shoulders and back? Had I not discovered the Homedics Shiatsu Massager yesterday, I would not even be thinking about writing this article, much less actually sitting up straight and typing it. I gave myself two treatments with the shiatsu massage pillow this morning. I literally feel as though I went into a professional Shiatsu spa for a professional massage. Shiatsu is a deep kneading form of massage that digs into tight, sore muscles; releases toxins and helps loosen up tension.  I have always been prone to getting stiff cricks in my neck. About 8 years ago, this rather common malady took on a whole new, more serious meaning when I was diagnosed with a ruptured disc in my neck.  After lots of ice, physical therapy and stretching every single day, I was able to avoid surgery and have even greatly reduced the frequency of neck ‘cricks’, as I call them.  On the rare occasion that I do suffer from a crick,  they usually seem to heal faster than they used to thanks for having the knowledge from my therapy, stretching and frequent use of ice.  This most recent neck crick was an exception. After two days, I was still feeling extremely sore, tense, tight and worried that my ruptured disc was acting up again. I was looking for a way to loosen up my tight muscles and kept stumbling upon reviews of these different types of the Homedics Shiatsu massager. Not all of the neck massagers by Homedics are equally praised by users as I’ll explain.

Neck Massage Types and Models

As I looked into vibration and massage solutions for my neck, I discovered there are two different types of Shiatsu Massagers by Homedics that are very popular: Pillow Massagers and Neck Massagers. The advantage to the shiatsu pillow massager is that it is not only for use around the neck. There are some clear advantages and disadvantages to both. One  has to do with cost and the other has to do with flexibility. Here is a brief description of each.

Shiatsu Neck Massager

Shiatsu Neck MessagerThe Homedics NMS-350 is a shiatsu neck massager made exclusively for the neck. The NMS-350 is a horse shoe shaped neck massager device that fits snugly around the neck. Inside the neck massager are a total of four rotating, pulsating, golf-ball sized shaitsu type thumbs which dig into your neck in a circular motion on both sides.  At the press of a button, you can get this NMS-350 unit to disperse some heat to your neck while it performs a shiatsu massage on your neck.  The NMS-350 Shiatsu Neck Massager was rated an average of 4-stars by 64 Amazon users.  Users were happy with the strength of the massage and the way it loosened up sore, stiff muscles in the neck. The major drawback to the NMS-350 is versatility. It will only fit around your neck and therefore is unable to reach your shoulders or other parts of your vertebrae.  There were a few other spurious complaints about longevity and overall quality, but for the most part, the NMS-350 was rated as an effective shiatsu neck massager. For me, a neck massager like theNMS-350, would be a little bit too limited. My disc problem is mostly in the lower part of my neck where it it couldn’t be reached. Also, I would like to be able to use it for a stiff, lower back occasionally.  The Shiatsu Massager seems like a great idea, but I would prefer something shaped like a pillow that can be moved around and used on different parts of the neck, back and spine.  Alas, I found it at my Walgreens store on my way home from work. I also picked up a bottle of  Max-Freeze analgesic cream which I’ll tell you about soon.

Shiatsu Pillow

Homedics Shiatsu Massager Pillow

Shiatsu Pillow Massager

The Homedics shiatsu massager turned out to be a life safer. I took it home, opened the box, sat on the sofa and positioned right behind my neck. I had a difficult time getting the pillow positions properly on my neck until I realized I had it upside down. By turning it the other way, I was able to position so the firm,  rotating shiatsu thumbs were grinding and kneading on my neck exactly where I wanted them. It took a little while figuring out how to get comfortable at first. The massaging pillow needs to be positioned between you and a soft surface, but one that is not too cushy or bloated so that it pushes your neck forward in an uncomfortable way. It is possible to position the pillow between you and other pillows in such a way that you are leaning forward in a comfortable position. You can also place it on a flat surface like the sofa seat or bed so you are lying on your back. After 10 minutes of use, I can guarantee the results will be looser muscles and less pain in the affected area. Before going to bed, I gave myself a thorough shiatsu massage: 10 minutes on the upper neck; 10 minutes on the lower neck and 10 minutes on the lower back. The Shiatsu pillow massager by Homedics seemed like the best of both worlds. The pillow uses the same rotating, mechanical thumbs as the shiatsu neck massager and also disperses heat to the surface. The only difference seems to be the shape and size. The pillow massager can be placed on any portion of the neck, back and shoulders. I was only able to find 7 reviews on this product, but all 7 of them were from 5-star rated, happy users. The $40 price tag at Walgreen seemed a little stiff, but not as stiff as my neck. I needed immediate relief and I was in no shape to spend hours shopping on the internet for a better neck massager. The Shiatsu Massager proved to be the best neck massager for me. My shoulders and back think so too. My only concern with these Homedics shiatsu products is longevity and durability. With those hard balls rotating against the fabric of the pillow how long will they last before the fabric rips or tears or the motor wears out from the pressure and weight resistance of my body? The way I look at it, though, is that for $40, I’ve already gotten 4 very good massages from the Shiatsu pillow – way less than a spa would have charged me for two visits. Also, we were able to get you a new product review article out of the deal before the end of the year. Perhaps, but the pillow massager has already paid for itself and for my money is the best neck massager you can buy.

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O Face Horsetooth Hot Sauce

horsetooth hot sauce

Put on your O Face

The first time I tried O Face Horsetooth Hot Sauce anyone could tell by my own “O Face”  that this savory Habanero sauce is aptly named. But, the reason for my expressive o face isn’t what you think. It has nothing to do with the heat of the Habanero heat, but everything to do with the flavor. The Horsetooth hot sauce people are selling their product short if they think the heat is the only reason the sauce will make you say, “oh”. Habanero’s  have always been one of my favorite peppers, not so much because they are hot but for their earthy, exotic flavor. If you can get past the heat, habanero’s are the tastiest peppers on earth. The key is for the habanero peppers not to be so ridiculously hot that they you can’t enjoy the flavor – and I think the Horsetooth hot sauce people have accomplished this feat with their O Face habanero sauce.


The Real Reason for an O Face

o faceThe real reason for the o face is that the flavor of this sauce is oh-so-good. O Face Hot sauce is made from Habaneros, Cantaloupe and Sweet Carrots.  It’s flavor alone will literally make you say, ‘oh’ and the heat is just the icing on the expression, so to speak. The bottle is also filled with black pepper and tangy vinegar, but the #1 ingredient is indeed habanero peppers. The result is an orange, flavorful, tangy, spicy and sweet mixture of habanero peppers, black pepper and fruit. O Face is no where near as hot as Dave’s Insanity sauce, but it is a much tastier and more useful sauce as I’ll explain:


How to use O Face Hot Sauce

Many years ago, I discovered that habanero sauce is the best thing you can use on a dry piece of chicken, pork, turkey or steak. The habanero peppers, for some reason liven up the flavor, turning a ‘ho-hum’ face into an ‘o face’. Aside from just using O Face on your plate for dipping meats and chips, it makes an excellent marinade. O Face already has everything you need in the way of sweetness, tang, vinegar and spice to be used as a perfect marinade. Yesterday I had some rather bland, left-over sirloin steak. I chopped it up into bit sized pieces, doused it with the horsetooth hot sauce and stored in a bag overnight. The result was a delicious lunch bursting with flavor.  I would be tempted to use o face as a salad dressing. It would be especially good on a Taco Salad.


Other Flavors from Horsetooth Hot Sauce Company

Horsetooth hot sauce is made just 50 miles north of me in Fort Collins Colorado. They produce six other hot sauces with interesting names.


  1. The Green
  2. Naughty # 4
  3. Rubin’s Red
  4. Rubin’s XXX
  5. Smokestack Lightening
  6. Melt Your Face (For a Limited Time)


Horsetooth Hot Sauce Ratings

I have not had the chance to try the other six flavors from the Horsetooth Hot Sauce company, but this one gets my highest rating.

  • O Face Hot Sauce: 98


Order a bottle or two of this today – you will be glad you did.
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Strongest K Cup Coffee

What is the Strongest K Cup Coffee you can Buy?

strongest k cup coffeeWhat is the strongest K Cup coffee you can buy? I’m not certain, but I can definitely tell you that the Barista Prima Columbia is the strongest one I’ve tried to date. Barista Prima is not only the strongest k cup coffee I’ve tried, but competes with Starbucks as among the most expensive. I found an 18 pack of Barista Prima for $14.99 at my local Target store. The other brands; Newman’s Organic, Caribou are $11.99 for an 18 Pack. The Starbucks sells for $13.99 for a 16 pack. Roughly, there is a 20% premium for Barista Prima over all of the non Starbucks Coffee K Cups. It is probably no coincidence that it also seems to be about 20% stronger than any of these other brands, including Starbucks. Perhaps, there is 20% more coffee inside the Barista Prima. Still, the Barista Prima brand is a little cheaper than Starbucks despite tasting like a stronger coffee. Target had the Starbucks on sale for $11.99 along with a $5.00 card for buying any selection of 2 Boxes of K Cups. Finally, I had a good excuse to try this peculiar, more expensive brand of coffee and compare it to Starbucks and the others.  I bought one box of the Barista Prima Columbia and one box of Starbucks Pike Place Roast. If you’re curious as to how these different k cups price out per cup on a regular basis at Target, here is a quick break down:

Target K Cup Pricing

  • Starbucks: 87 Cents
  • Barista Prima: 83 Cents
  • Other Quality Brands: 67 Cents
  • (Newmans, Caribou, Donut Shop, Van Houtten, Van Houtte, Emeril’s, etc..

Barista Prima Columbia Tasting Notes

The Barista Prima Columbia comes off very strong and rich right from the very first sip. The box advertises this as a medium-dark roast. I cannot argue too much with that description, though I will add that it tastes and looks much darker than your typical Columbian Coffee. It is exceptionally strong – and I could tell that not only from its taste, but from the jolt of caffeine I got after finishing the cup. There is not much advertising on the box about this coffee. What makes it so special? Why is it so expensive? Is there more coffee in each k cup to make it stronger? The Barista Prima Coffeehouse website might offer some clues about this good, strong coffee. I would rate certainly rate this one as the strongest k cup coffee I’ve had, but maybe not the best. I think I prefer the Pikes Place Roast ever so slightly for its balance and overall smoothness of taste and flavor. But if you’re looking for the strongest k cup coffee and Starbucks doesn’t do it for you, give Barista Prima Columbia a try!

Strongest K Cup Rated from 1-5

  1. Barista Prima Columbia
  2. Starbucks Pikes Place Roast
  3. Newman’s Organic Extra Bold
  4. Caribou Obsidian
  5. Emeril’s Big Easy Bold

How do you Rate Barista Prima K-Cups?

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Youngs Double Chocolate Stout

Youngs Double Chocolate StoutA four pack of Youngs Double Chocolate Stout in the 16.9oz cans found it’s way to my home by mistake. I was at a beer and wine store looking at the dark imported beer when I grabbed a 4-pack of the Youngs Stout, thinking I was getting an unusual variety of Guinness. It is close, but not quite the same. This one is made in England. While the size of the can and familiar rattling of the plastic ball is the same as Guinness, the most notable difference is chocolate. I don’t mind hints of dark chocolate and coffee in my stout beers, but I was a little put off by the label which indicates that chocolate flavor is intentionally added to the brew. I prefer beers where the hints of dark chocolate flavoring comes as a natural result of brewing process and aging in the barrel. See my review on Bourbon Barrel Stout. To be honest, I would not have bought the Youngs had I read the label more carefully and had I known it was only 5.5% alcohol as opposed to the hefty 10.3% alcohol level of premium beers like Bourbon Barrel Stout and Woodcutter # 5 by Odell brewing in Fort Collins. England is a good distance away from Fort Collins, Colorado and so is the taste of this interesting beer.

Tasting Notes

The pouring and appearance of Youngs Stout is very similar to Guinness and in the way that the foamy head sticks to the inside of your glass. The aroma of Youngs might make you think you’re about to drink a chocolate milk shake from McDonalds. Milk chocolate, more than beer is the first thing I imagined before the beer touched my lips. While the actual taste of Youngs is a bit chocolaty, it really does taste more like a good dark beer than a chocolate milk shake. The Chocolate Stout has a pleasant, smooth and light taste of vanilla, milk and caramel along with a hint of hershey-like instant chocolate flavoring. It is really not bad, especially if you are a milk chocolate lover and don’t mind it being artificially introduced into your beer. Many of the beer snobs online described a lactose taste in this particular creamy stout beer. I would agree with this perception. Overall, it’s a good beer, but is it a hit?

Ratings: 84 / 100

From 1 – 100, I give Youngs Double Chocolate Stout an 84. It is good, overall, but the chocolate flavoring make it a little bit too sweet for me to consider it among my favorites dark beers or preferred next to a black patent malt.

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Leopold Bros Cranberry Liqueur

leopold bros cranberry liqueurI was recently given a bottle of Leopold Bros Cranberry Liqueur for Christmas. I love to try new liquors, so needles to say, the cork on the cranberry liqueur only lasted until the same evening I brought it home and popped it open for a sample. Though I am not a fan of sweet type drinks or liqueurs, they do have their place; either for mixers or sipping on a cold, winter evening. Leopold Bros is a small batch distillery in Denver, but the cranberry liqueur is made from real cranberries from New England. I was impressed with the 20% alcohol rating on the bottle and thought this might be something I could enjoy either as a splash in my vodka martinis ala cosmopolitan or mixed with bourbon whiskey for a tangier tasting Manhattan. Of course, it can also be drank straight which is how I tried my first sip.

Tasting Notes

I will confess that I didn’t take much time to smell the cranberry liqueur before taking my first sip. As a result, I quickly got a taste somewhat reminiscent of Robitussin cough syrup. It was not all that bad, so I took a step back; cleared the fumes, and swished the cranberry-colored liquid in my glass. My nostrils were filled with the very deep and pleasant sensation of fresh cranberries. Ahh..much better. The next sip tasted as cranberry-like and delicious as its aroma. I loved it. Leopold Bros Cranberry Liqueur would make a great holiday shot or served over ice in a highball glass. It is rich and tart, but very satisfying and refreshing. I immediately though of how well this would go with Vodka in a Cosmopolitan. Instead of diluting the vodka with straight cranberry juice, why not blend it with an alcohol distilled from real cranberries for a much heartier, more robust and tastier Cosmo? I think this cranberry liqueur would also go very well shaken with and poured over crushed ice in a small, whiskey glass. But, there is one other way to enjoy Cranberry Liqueur.

Strong Drink Recipe using Leopold Cranberry Liqueur

I thought bourbon would be the perfect match for a rich, tart and tangy cranberry liqueur and my instincts didn’t disappoint me.

New Recipe for your Martini Glass


  • 1 Part Leopold Bros Cranberry Liqueur
  • 2 Parts Bourbon

Shake ingredients with crushed ice and pour into your martini glass. Add a cherry or orange slice.
Not sure what you’d call this drink, but the

    Leopold Bros cranberry liqueur

mixes really well with Bourbon. A bourbon cranberry splash is a great way to warm up on a cold winter day or evening.

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Shake Weight Reviews

What are Shake Weights?

Shake WeightsYou have probably noticed these Dumbell-looking exercise devices called Shake Weights near the check out stands of your local department stores. I became curious as to what they actually are supposed to do as opposed to your typical, boring set of 10lb, 20lb or 30lb dumbbells. Shake Weights are basically dumbbells with a pulsating motor in them. The inertia of the motor inside the dumbbell is designed to give you better upper body strength and tone through the physics of Dynamic Inertia. That is what the makers of them claim, anyway. The motor doesn’t actually run electronically. You activate by simply doing what the name of the product implies: shaking. Typically, the product package includes one shake weight dumbbell along with an exercise video and sells for about $20.00. That might not seem complicated, but like any popular fad, I’ve noticed a number of different sizes, colors and flavors; as well as a package for men and a different package for women.

What is the Difference between Shake Weights for Men and Women?

Size and weight are what distinguishes the men’s weights from the women’s. The women’s dumbbell is 2,.8lbs and the dimensions are 12.2 x 3.3 x 3.3 inches in size. The men’s weight is 5.8lbs and is 15 x 5.3 x 5 inches in size. Of course, the men and women’s shake weights are interchangeable depending on your strength, size and needs. Perhaps a better question is, do these motorized dumbbells really work?

Do Shake Weights Really Work?

The advertisement on the box suggests you can improve your muscle, body tone and upper torso strength in just 6 minutes per day. Of course, the results will vary based on how often and how long the shake weights are actually used. To answer whether or not Shake Weights really work as claimed, I scanned over 300 Amazon reviews: That’s 180 for women and around 120 for men. Surprisingly, the mens reviews were rated a little higher. Men gave the product an overall rating of 4 stars. Women rated it just over three stars. Perhaps the reason for the slightly higher rating in men is because some women complained of shoulder pain and other neck and shoulder-related injuries from the exercises they performed. Nearly half of both men and women gave the product a 5-star rating and said they were very pleased with the results in getting flabby, weakening arms looking and feeling toned and strong again. Some users who were less than satisfied claimed that they could get just as good results shaking a partially filled bottle of water. I find it hard to believe that a bottle of water would be as ergonomic; easy to hold and use. For $20.00 the convenience size and exercise DVD make it a no brainer for anyone wishing to find ways of strengthening their arms and feeling better about themselves without going to a gym. Based on the total sum of Shake Weight Reviews,  the product does seem to provide benefits for most of the people who use them or they wouldn’t continue to be such a big seller and average 4 star ratings between men and women.

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Tasin TS-108 Meat Grinder

Tasin TS 108How do you rate the Tasin TS-108 Meat Grinder: 

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Sometimes I get so excited about a product that I have to review it before I even try it. After some exhaustive research on electric meat grinders, I just ordered the Tasin TS-108.
I am looking forward to this as much as a kid looks forward to a Playstation 3 for Christmas. One of the top reasons I chose this particular electric meat grinder over all the others is that it seemed to the very favorite of those who are actually using it for my very same purpose: Making homemade, raw cat food or dog food. I viewed a very detailed video demonstration of how this meat grinder could be used to make a raw cat food recipe with the same ingredients I wished to use. (You can view this You Tube Video of the TS-108 in action at the bottom of the page). As demonstrated by the video, this electric meat grinder makes quick work of whole cuts of meat and bones. This Tasin meat grinder easily handles and grinds-up the bones in raw meat like turkey, chicken, hen and other poultry products. This is perfect for making a delicious raw food recipe for cats or dogs. Dogs and cats need the nutrients from the bones and skin on raw meet. We tried buying our own raw cat food in a brand called, Rad Cat. This is an excellent product, but shipping, handling and the middle men who bring it to the pet stores make it cost prohibitive  as a long term solution for feeding our two cats. I knew there was a better way, but it would require a high quality electric meat grinder to make it possible. Of all of my research, this is the one that comes out on top for a few reasons:

Benefits of the Tasin TS-108 Electric Meat Grinder

Meat and Bone Grinding Horsepower

The Tasin has a 1200 watts motor. This is 3-times as much as some of the other brands that our selling for under $100 at Walmart, Amazon and other retailers. The meat grinder is built with the quality you’d expect from electric meat grinder. I didn’t want to go with an under-powered, cheap home-style meat grinder. The strong motor is what sold me first on the TS-108 model.

Quality Materials Workmanship and Properties

Unlike other other electric meat grinders, the parts are not all cheap plastic.  The Feed Pans are made from aluminum alloy and the mesh plates and blades are made from sturdy carbon steel. More importantly, the internal gears are made from metal rather than plastic on some of the other electric meat grinders, which will eventually wear out. The body and functions of the Tasin is made from heat-resistant ABs Plastic, so you shouldn’t have to worry about any cheap plastic parts cracking or breaking off.  The TS-108 weights 16 lbs and comes with #12 sized Grinder and a 2.5″ diameter mouth.  Having compared other models, the #12 and 2.5″ diameter mouth seems to be the perfect size for an electric meat grinder.

Features and Accessories

There is not a whole lot of room for bells, whistles and technological gadgetry on an electric meat grinder.  The TS-108 unit is equipped with an on/off switch as well as a reverse setting for un-jamming. One nice little touch  is an internal storage compartment for extra plates and cords.  The TS-108 does come equipped  a kubbe, sausage stuffer and a plunger. I’m not sure what either the kubbe or plunger are, but I will definitely be looking up some sausage recipes.  For the reasonable price of $150, I also got an extra, stainless-steel blade which is reportedly worth $15.00. I did not one small complaint about the Tasin TS-108. The parts are not dishwasher safe, though they advertise the detachable cap, worm and head as hand-washable for easy cleaning.  The motor is CE certified and comes with a circuit breaker to prevent damage to the motor.  The unit comes with a 1 year warranty. I paid $158.00 and some change for the Tasin TS-108 Electric meat grinder. For what I spend on raw cat food, I expect the Tasin TS-108 to pay for itself well within the 1-year warranty. While, the solid construction and features of the Tasin TS-108 seem impressive enough, how does it all operate?

Tasin TS-108 Electric Meat Grinder in Action

Here is an impressive video demonstration of how easily meat and bones are ground up through the Tasin TS-108 Meat grinder.

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Starbucks K Cup Coffee Review

Were Starbucks K Cup Coffee worth the Wait?

…and the extra money?

Starbucks K Cups ReviewOkay, now that the wait for Starbucks K Cups is over, are they worth all of the hootin’, hollerin’ and mouth-watering anticipation? More, importantly, are Starbucks K Cups worth the extra cost? On average, Starbucks K Cups are 15% more expensive. From Walmart for example, you can expect to pay $13.88 for an 18-Pack of Starbucks vs $11.88 for the other top brands; Emeril’s, Caribou, Newman, etc. I gave Caribou Obsidian, Newman’s Extra Bold and Emeril’s Big Easy Bold all very high marks in previous K Cups Reviews. Since Starbucks is no longer being made in T-Discs, just about anything available in K Cups for the Keurig is superior to the weak and inferior Gevalia which is about all you can find for Tassimo brewers at the store these days. The Tassimo K-Cups, however, were so superior to anything else I’ve tried for the Tassimo brewer that it became my standard for which all other K Cups are measured. Starbucks Columbian in T-Discs remains my very favorite single-brewed cup of coffee. Unfortunately, it is impossible to do an exact comparison of Starbucks T-Discs vs. Starbucks K Cups because they do not make them in Columbian. They do make Verona, however, which was a close second in my opinion, to their Columbian T-Discs. I also think that the Newmans, Emeril’s Big Easy Bold and Caribou Obsidian Black were pretty close runner-ups to my Starbucks Tassimo favorites. Starbucks offers six different blends of coffee for the Keurig Brewer, ranging in light to very dark: Breakfast Blend, House Blend,Verona, Pike Place Roast,Sumatraand French Roast.  As to whether or not any of these Starbucks K Cups are worth the extra cost, it is impossible for me to answer until I’ve had the more time to enjoy them all. There is a couple on the list that I won’t buy because they are either too dark and smoky or too light and acidic. First, I will give you my run down on how all of these K Cups Taste and below that a table which describes their tasting notes and a preliminary rating from 1-100.

Starbucks French Roast

starbucks french roast k cupsI’ll confess that I have never tried this coffee because French Roast is simply too burnt, smoky and dark for me. I’ve already tried Starbucks French Roast in the bag and I’m sure this one is no better. The problem with coffees that are this dark is that they taste weak. Too much smoke and not enough coffee flavor.

Starbucks Breakfast Blend

starbucks breakfast blend k cupsThis was the first box of Starbucks K Cups I tried. I found it to be a little too light and acidic for my tastes. This one is similar to Donut Shop Coffee by Coffee People. In fact, it is not distinguished enough that it is worth the extra 15% cost. I’d go with the Donut Shop Coffee if this is the kind of coffee you like: Good, perhaps great for those who like a lighter, more acidic roast, but not my cup of tea – err, Coffee.

Starbucks House Blend

starbucks house blend k cupsThis one is billed by Starbucks as being lively and balanced and I think they couldn’t have described it more accurately. I would describe the taste as being somewhat between the Donut Shop and Newman in boldness. It has some acid to it, still, which is okay if you like a lighter coffee. I can get used to this. Not bad. I think it is much better than Breakfast Blend or French Roast and I may even prefer it to some of my other favorites due to the so-called “liveliness”.

Starbucks Sumatra

Starbucks Sumatra K CupsThe Starbucks Sumatra K Cups might be confused with French Roast to some because it is intensely dark. Starbucks advertises this one as herby and earthy, but I would describe it more as a bit rubbery and a little over-roasted. I’ve bought StarbucksSumatrabagged coffee before and have never been too impressed with it. I’ve had other brands ofSumatrathat are better and more aptly fit the description of herby and earthy. This one needs to be a tad lighter in my opinion.

Starbucks Verona

Starbucks Verona K CupsThis is a very good coffee and easily competes with the best I’ve had. This one could become my favorite or runner up after having some more time to get familiar with it. I believe I still have a Tassimo T-Disc ofVeronaat home. I will do a side by side comparison and let you know how similar it is. Starbucks calls this one dark cocoa and roasty sweet. I kind of think it may be just a tad too sweet and in need of a bit more roasted cocoa, but we’re nitpicking here.Veronais one of my favorites.

Starbucks Pike Roast

Starbucks Pike Roast K CupsThere is a reason that Pike Roast has become the regular coffee choice at Starbucks stores – it is just an all around great coffee – very balanced and non-offensive to a wide variety of tastes. It is described by Starbucks as Smooth and Balanced and both of those adjectives are very accurate descriptions. I think the Pike Roast might be the one I prefer the most out of all 6 Starbucks K Cups choices, but only because it is that I will get the least tired of drinking. If there is a problem with it, it could be that it is just a wee bit boring. There is nothing very distinguished or unique about the taste of Pike Roast, but it is smooth, bold and rich enough to keep you from getting tired of it. That is why it has become the Starbucks favorite.

Summary of K Cups by Starbucks

There is not a bad k cups variety in the bunch – it’s a matter of what you like and are used to drinking. I haven’t decided ifVeronaor Pike Roast is as good as what I can get over the counter of an actual Starbucks store, but it is close enough to keep me wondering for a while. I am also undecided as to whether or not I would continue to pay more for Starbucks K Cups over my other favorite three coffees: Emeril’s Big Easy Bold, Caribou Obsidian Black and Newman’s Extra Bold. I have a hunch that over time, Cafe Verona and Pike Roast will become my two favorites of them all.

Starbucks K Cup Ratings

[table “6” not found /]
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75 South Whiskey

75 South Whiskey

Give us your rating on 75 South Whiskey: 

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75 South is a lower-shelf, blended whiskey. I picked up a 1.75 Liter bottle of this at a Safeway store in Tucson, Arizona while my wife was shopping for wine for Thanksgiving dinner. I’ll be honest, when I checked out of the store, I still wasn’t sure if I was holding a bottle of bourbon or scotch. The label didn’t exactly go out of its way to explain what this brownish liquor was, either. The bottle simply read, Blended Whiskey.   At $10.99 for a 1.75 Liter bottle, I figured it was a bargain whatever it was and I can drink either bourbon or scotch so the 75 South was worth sampling. The label, 75 South, sort of hinted to me that it tastes a little bit more like something from Kentucky than say, Scotland. There is a section of Interstate 75 South that runs through Tennessee,Kentucky,Georgia and Florida. Does that geography have something to do with its name? The whiskey looked a little darker in color which also made me think of the richer, darker taste of bourbon. I tend to gravitate more towards heavier whisky in the colder months of the season, so I wouldn’t mind having a bottle of bourbon on hand.

75 South Tasting Notes

This is a cheap, blended whiskey so don’t expect me to be overly descriptive. The nose of 75 South definitely suggests bourbon flavor. It is caramel-like with a hint of oak wood and sherry. The front of it tastes like bourbon; maybe a little thinner and with just a hint of maple. I expected the 75 South to have an awfully short-lived and harsh finish, but that wasn’t the case. To be sure, it has a thinner palate than Jim Beam or Maker’s Mark, but it not entirely unsmooth. For the price, I wouldn’t hesitate to buy 75 South for mixing or sipping on the rocks. I rarely like cheap whiskeys unless it’s scotch for mixing Rob Roys, 75 South is actually a bourbon like whiskey that I can enjoy by itself.

75 South Final Rating: 79

On a scale of 1-100, I’d give 75 South whiskey a 79. Prior to this short write-up, I read another, less favorable review which had 75-South rated at 67 out of 100. I don’t understand such a harsh rating on a blended whisky that is not harsh at all. For only $2.00 more, I’d rather drink Ezra Brooks, but 75 South is not a bad tasting whiskey at all.

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Solar Christmas Lights

solar christmas lightsAre Solar Christmas Lights worth the money? In a word, no. In two words, it depends. Let’s start worth the no, then we’ll move on to the depends part of the equation.


If you want to light-up the outside of your home like the City Courthouse, you’d better have enough money to buy the courthouse, if not a good-sized town. One string of 50 Solar LED Christmas lights typically costs $20.00. For kicks, my wife and I decided to try the Solar Lights experiment this year. For starters, we bought two strings of LED lights for $40 and were able to decorate two small bushes in the front of our home. Just think, for another $2,000 we could have purchased 100 strings for a whopping total of 5,000 lights. In case you’re wondering, that falls about 10,000 lights short of competing in your neighborhood Christmas Decoration contest. If cost is not a good enough deterrent for the LED Solar Christmas Lights experiment, we discovered a few other problems:

For one thing, you need to be able to place your solar panel where it gets enough sunshine throughout the day to charge the lights so they will stay lit most of the evening. Since our home faces north it was difficult to find places to stake the solar panels in the yard which are not covered in shade most of the day. If you wanted to put the lights on your eaves or roof, you’ll find that the charging cord is not long enough to reach the ground. You’ll have to mount them on the roof or gutter or somewhere else and here-in is the next problem with solar Christmas lights: Even if you went crazy and bought a bunch of these things, how ugly is your yard, roof or gutters going to look with this square, 4×4” solar panels littered everywhere? If that’s not bad enough, what happens if it’s cloudy all day or snow covers your panels and prevents any sun light from charging your lights? You’ll be left with a plain, undecorated house and looking like the neighborhood scrooge.


Okay, so that covers just about all of the disadvantages of solar lights. At this point, it may be hard to believe, but they do serve a useful purpose. The real purpose for solar Christmas lights is to fill gaps in areas which otherwise might be ignored. Everyone has small bushes, wreathes, windows, roof or other areas of the home that are hard to reach with a wall outlet and require an extension cord. As long as these areas get enough sunshine, you’ll be able to decorate in areas which might otherwise be ignored. In short, Solar Christmas Lights are not well suited for replacing traditional lighting. Rather, they are a useful addition to your yearly Christmas decoration tool chest.

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