iCoffee Opus Review

iCoffee Opus Update
The iCoffee Opus by Remmington has continued to serve my needs well the past couple of years. I do have a recommendation to insure that you are getting the most out of the product and making the best coffee possible on a consistent basis. Over time, I noticed that the coffee began to taste less strong and bold. The problem was consistent whether regardless of the brand of K-Cups I used.  After giving the iCoffee brewer a good cleaning with vinegar the coffee immediately improved back to the impressive level it was at the time of this review. The other recommendation I have is to remove the plastic taste from the brewer using the recommendations here: Coffee Tastes like Plastic. A new model, the Mozart has been introduced. From what I can tell from the manufacturer website these products are both the same and both names Opus/Mozart are being used to describe the product online. Scroll below for the full review on the iCoffee Opus which should also apply to the Mozart .

New iCoffee Model or Name (Mozart)


The price on the Opus seems to have sky-rocketed since I last did this review. The Mozart model seems to have the very same features and is considerably less money.

iCoffee Opus (Original Review: March 2015)

iCoffee Opus Review

This review also applies to the iCoffee Mozart. The name Opus and Mozart appear to be interchangeable. As you have probably noticed from my dozens of coffee-maker reviews, coffee brewers are a bit of a habit with me. I’ve tried percolators, drip makers, thermal carafe brew stations, grinder-drip makers, various single-cup Keurig machines, Tassimo single cup brewers, and French Presses.  The latest addition to my coffee maker addiction is a new and improved, off-brand version of the most popular, single-cup, K-Cup brewer, the iCoffee Opus. While there are a few other off-brand, K-Cup brewers, the iCoffee Opus utilizes a unique technology not found in other coffee makers.

How do you rate the iCoffee Opus? 

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Hallux Valgus

What is a Bunion?

Hallux Valgus RemediesHallux Valgus is a painful condition that can both quite literally and figuratively knock you right off your feet. The more common term for hallux valgus is a bunion, or a visible bump on the side of the big toe caused by a bone structure problem. Bunions can cause your big toe to lean towards the second toe rather than pointing straight forward. Basically, the bunion or visible bump is the result of a bone-alignment problem which is more than likely caused by doing lots of walking in improper shoes. The more you walk on your feet this way, the more likely you are to aggravate the problem and require surgery. I had this visible bump on the right side of my toe for two years, before finally discovering what it was. The reason I didn’t ever suspect I had bunions was because I’ve associated the pain and swelling with infrequent gout attacks and/or a fractured toe. I’ve had both of these ailments in the recent past. Now, having experienced all three of these foot problems, I feel pretty well qualified to describe the differences between all of them. I also believe I know how to deal with the problem of bunions in such a way to prevent the need for hallux valgus surgery which I will explain later.

The Difference Between Gout and Bunions

Gout attacks come on rather suddenly, but also heal rather quickly with an anti-inflammatory pain medication such as Indomethacin. I would rate the pain of bunions as a close second to a gout attack. The pain is not quite as severe, but unlike a gout attack, it takes my feet several weeks to heal. With gout, the pain for me can be just as excruciating whether I am on my feet or lying down. Bunions can be excruciatingly painful, but I am usually able to manage the pain a little better by simply resting my feet. Staying off my feet as much as possible is the only way to help the bunions heal. Gout pain tends to be more in the joint of the big toe. With my last bunion flare-up, the pain covered the upper and lower side of the big toe and even affected the bottom of my foot.  Bunions can also cause some very uncomfortable throbbing at night and make it difficult to sleep. Getting out of bed can be a traumatic experience, but overall, the pain is far more manageable than the worst stages of a gout attack which is constant, excruciating pain and extremely sensitive to the mere, light touch of a bed sheet.

Recognizing the Difference Between Bunions and a Fractured Toe

I couldn’t have possibly been given a more confusing set of coincidences when it comes to understanding problems with my foot. I’ve had gout, a fractured toe, and a bunion all on my right toe within a time-frame of three years, or at least the latter two. When I first fractured my toe, I felt swelling and throbbing on my 2nd toe, rather than the big toe. I finally went into have the doctor look at it. She shook her head and told me that the swelling didn’t look like gout. She was absolutely right. X-Rays proved that I had a fractured toe. The degree of pain was similar to my most recent bunion flare-up. The only difference is that the swelling and pain was pretty much limited to the surrounding toe where-as the bunion pain covered a much wider area around the affected bone. The last time I felt pain in the area of my toe, I was uncertain if I was on the verge of having a rare gout attack or if my previously fractured toe was causing me some problems. By a stroke of good fortune, my mother happened to be visiting us that day and I decided to show her my foot. She immediately recognized the bump as a bunion. I looked up the condition online and found several pictures which looked exactly like mine. Then, just when I thought my right foot was beginning to heal, I felt some pain on the bottom of my left big toe. Two days later, I recognized the visible bump on the side of my left toe. The one thing I didn’t do was go limping into my doctor’s office. From what I’ve read about bunions, there is not much a doctor can do other than prescribe prescription-strength pain killers or recommend surgery. I knew I had a bunion problem, but what would I do about it? I spent the better part of six weeks learning about my ailment and tried to avoid using my feet as much as possible (not an easy task in my line of work). I am one to avoid doctors and surgeries at all cost, so I decided to do my own research and remedies on Hallux Valgus:

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Veggetti Veggie Pasta

Veggetti Pasta Maker
– a Review
VeggettiI never dreamed that veggie pasta would become one of my most desired food staples on the dinner table. The Veggetti will turn just about any reasonably sized squash or zucchini into a pasta dish in a couple of minutes or less. We’ve all probably seen spaghetti squash dishes used as pasta substitutes in the past. The Veggetti, though, which uses the narrower zucchini gives you a better taste and two different sized textures of vegetable pasta.  Unlike squash, the flavor won’t over-power your sauce, and the texture is just as firm as your favorite brand of al dente spaghetti. Some of you are probably asking why anyone would prefer veggie spaghetti over good ol’ regular pasta.

How do you rate the Veggetti? 

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The answer is, carbs and gluten. Doctors and nutritionists are proving that our food pyramid has been deliberately and wrongly turned upside down for the last several years. Our bodies were meant to eat a diet with less carbs and richer in saturated fats and cholesterol. Books and blogs such as Wheat Belly and Grain Brain are changing the way we view carbohydrates in our diets. Furthermore, a higher number of people seem to be suffering from wheat or gluten intolerance these days, and Celiac disease is on the rise. Why wheat has suddenly become suspect in all of this is still Uncooked Veggie Pasta being debated. It could be that our bodies were never designed for grains, or it could have something to do with the way wheat and grains have been genetically modified. It is not the intention of my article to elaborate on this topic; there are plenty of other websites and books that go into that. One thing I do know for sure is that I have never enjoyed packaged spaghetti pasta as much as I used to since they started removing the eggs due to the phony cholesterol fear. My mother always had our favorite brand in the cupboards: R&F Egg Vermicelli. The eggs gave the pasta texture which as I will explain, is the most important characteristic of pasta.

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Ninja Express Chop

Ninja Express Chop User Rating:

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Ninja Express ChopThe Ninja Express Chop is one of the most useful, electric kitchen appliances we’ve ever bought for our home. My wife actually bought this for me, but so far has has used it everyday, herself, for chopping vegetables and fruits. I spend a great deal of time hand-beating, scrambled eggs in the morning. I like to create as small a mess as possible, so I normally use a large glass and a fork or serrated knife to mix the eggs. This takes time and is hard on the right shoulder that I injured a few months ago. While the Ninja makes quick, easy, mess-free work out of eggs, this amazing express chopper does so much more. During the summer months, when we have an abundance of garden vegetables, peppers and fruits littering our kitchen counters, the Ninja Express Chop is practically begging to be used on a daily basis. The Ninja is actually a review I am excited to talk about and review in-depth. Below, you will find a detailed overview on the Uses, Operation, Performance, Convenience, pros and cons, and final conclusions on the Ninja chopping appliance. Also, I have included a real-life demonstration of the Ninja Express Chop in use. Enjoy the review and please leave me your comments.

Ninja Express Chop

Uses

Ninja-Chopper-UsesThe opportunities to effortlessly chop food things up are endless: Salsa, Pico De Gallo, fruit smoothies, coffee beans, nuts, beans, herbs, spices, sauces, gravies, eggs, and every other type of food known to man. My wife, who tends the garden and cares for the vegetables was using the Ninja far more frequently than me. Once I got my hands on it, though, it became a regular part of my routine for making omelettes.  A lot of times I didn’t get as creative and healthy with omelettes as I should have, simply because I didn’t want to go through the trouble of chopping things up. Now, the Ninja chopper sits on my counter and practically dares me to look for some peppers, onions and other vegetables to chop up and add to my eggs in the morning. It wasn’t til I actually experienced the Ninja that I fully appreciated the way it works. 

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Deep Eddy Vodka

deep eddy vodkaMy purchase of a 1.75 Liter of Deep Eddy Vodka at my favorite local liquor store was more of an informed decision than an impulsive one. Lately, I’ve been experimenting with a gluten-free diet. Since some vodkas are made from wheat and other glutenous grains, they are likely to contain some small level of gluten. The dietary advice for those who suffer from Celiac disease is that distilled liquors like Vodka, even though they are made from grains, are probably okay to drink. How is this possible? Apparently, grain-based vodkas lose most of their gluten in the distillation process. There is such small amounts of vodka in grain-based alcohols that most celiac health experts believe it is harmless for persons who suffer from Celiac disease. Unfortunately, not all sufferers of celiac disease are the same. Even a microscopic amount of gluten for my niece could have catastrophic consequences. For me, just about any type of alcohol probably doesn’t pose much of a threat, but I decided to go as gluten-free as possible. Deep Eddy Vodka is 100% certified gluten-free. The box boasts the claim that Deep Eddy is distilled 10 times and 100% natural. But, the absence of gluten was only one reason to buy Deep Eddy. How about the taste of the vodka?

Deep Eddy is a Bargain

The price I paid for a 1.75 Liter of Deep Eddy was $19.99. Granted, my local liquor store is full of great deals, but Deep Eddy would still be a bargain at any store. Like many other American vodkas, Deep Eddy is made in Austin, Texas and is 80% / 40-Proof alcohol and distilled from potatoes. The bottle I bought came came with one other perk: It was packaged in a nicely boxed gift-set which included two logo’d glass jars with the Deep Eddy logo. Those big jars, suggest, that one might use their vodka to make those big fruity  foo-foo drinks with lime and/or lemonade.  If you’ve read my numerous other vodka reviews, you realize that I would have preferred a couple of martini glasses since that is the way I normally drink vodka. That’s okay, I have plenty of martini glasses and the Deep Eddy jars make a nice addition to our assortment of bar glasses.  Deep Eddy was mainly purchased to replace my empty favorite bottle of Blue Ice Vodka which was also made from potatoes and certified gluten-free. Blue Ice has been the standard by which I judge all other vodkas. This one, however, was a few bucks cheaper. Could Deep Eddy be as good?

Taste Test

Deep Eddy proves once again that you don’t have to pay good money for good vodka. I’ve paid more for other brands that aren’t as good. Belvedere and Grey Goose immediately come to mind. I poured the first taste into my glass and tried it at room temperature. The initial taste was so smooth and light that I thought I had accidentally mixed water into my vodka. The finish went down like vanilla sugar water. I dried out the glass and tried it again and got the exact same outstanding result.  Deep Eddy is very clean, sterile, and somewhat of a sweet vodka. It might be a little too sweet for me to say it is my favorite over Blue Ice, but I would certainly buy it again at the great price of $20.00.  If you’re a vodka enthusiast that likes ethanol taste that is so prevalent in many other vodkas like say, Sobieski, Deep Eddy might not be the best choice for you. I think the ethanol gives it an illusion of air, lightness and carbonation that some people like. To me, it tastes like the inside of a rubber balloon. I never did care for that flavor. I can overlook the sweetness especially when olives are added.  I mixed my first martini with Deep Eddy by vigorously shaking it inside a stainless steel shaker of ice and adding  two Mezzetta olives to the glass.  When my wife saw the interesting box on the counter, she too, decided she wanted to try a vodka drink rather than her usual Rob Roy. I made her a martini with ice and lime juice, which is very appropriate for a hot summer evening. The power of suggestion is just one of the strengths of this brand. The main strength is its taste and Deep Eddy Vodka makes one of the best martinis I’ve had since, well, the last drop of the Blue Ice left my house.

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Salt Water Pool Systems

Salt Water Pool Systems
– A review Worth its Salt

Salt Water Pool SystemsThe first thing to understand about salt water pool systems is that they still use chlorine to sanitize the swimming pool. With that said, I still think there is a great deal of misinformation and underestimation of the benefits of salt water pool systems. Much of this has to do with a lack of experience with proper pool chemistry. I am no expert, myself, but I have learned from others who have helped me through my many hardships and experiences maintaining a properly chlorinated pool over the past 8 years. Since I inherited a swimming pool with the house we bought 8 years ago, I have learned that a salt water chlorination system is the only way to conveniently chlorinate my swimming pool. There are other automatic chlorination systems that use traditional chlorine pucks such as the one that came with my own pool, but as I will soon explain, they are greatly flawed and may actually cause damage and harm to you or your pool; or both.  Convenience the old-fashioned way comes at a price. So, the question is, can you have both convenience and a successfully maintained pool? Before I get into the review on the salt water pool systems I just purchased, I would like to give a brief and unscientific explanation of how a salt chlorinator works and outline the most compelling reasons for owning one salt water pool systems over manual chlorination or automatic chlorination with tri-chlor pucks.

How Salt Water Pool Systems Work

A salt water pool essentially uses salt to generate its own chlorine and dispenses it automatically into your pool. There is a salt water cell that is installed into the pool plumbing which transforms salt water into usable, free chlorine. The chlorinator usually comes with a display box where the outflow of the chlorine can be adjusted. The display box also provides you with information such as the level of salt that is in your swimming pool and display codes which indicate other issues or potential problems with your system. A salt water pool, of course, needs one other thing: Salt. My 11,000 gallon pool required about 6 x 40lb bags of salt. The recommended level of salt is 3,500PPM. My pool already had a certain level of salt before the chlorinator was installed, due to the fact that I have used regular, unscented chlorine bleach to chlorinate my pool the past few years. Chlorine bleach contains sodium hypochloride which deposits small levels of salt into the pool. If you do not have a salt water chlorinator, there are some excellent reasons for using regular, unscented liquid bleach to chlorinate your pool which I will explain shortly. Unfortunately, jugs and jugs of bleach, day after day is a messy system and is not a very convenient way to chlorinate your pool. You will soon see that this was my main impetus for going with a saltwater system for my pool.
This was my unscientific explanation on how a salt water pool systems work. For the scientific explanation, click here: How a Salt Water Chlorinator Works.

Why use a Salt Water Pool System?

Comfortable and better for Your Skin

Just about any pool company or pool guy/girl can tell you that the levels of salt used to chlorinate your pool are better for your skin. It feels sort of like you are swimming in a saline solution rather than a harshly chlorinated pool. I can attest to this fact, first hand. My skin used to get so dry after I was out of the pool for a while. Even with chlorine and other chemical levels the same, the salt water pool feels better and softer on the skin. This is a fact. It is also important to note, that since you are not putting large amounts of chlorine into the pool at one time, that the chlorine is more evenly and consistently dispersed throughout the day as your pool pump is running. This means you are not going to ever be exposed to higher levels of chlorine at different times of the day. This, of course is better for your skin, hair and your body.

It is Better For the Health of you and your Swimming Pool

One huge thing that gets overlooked even by some of the pool gurus is the chemical relationship between Stabilizer (CYA) and Free Chlorine. Even many pool professions do not realize that the higher more stabilizer in the pool means higher chlorine levels are needed to properly sanitize it. An ideal level of stabilizer is between 30 and 50PPM. So, here is why I used regular, non-scented chlorine bleach to chlorinate my pool all these years: It doesn’t raise my stabilizer!
A traditional, tri-chlor, puck chlorinator can raise the CYA level of your pool by up to 25PPM per month. That number, according to one website I read, is for a very large pool; 35,000 gallons. You see, Chlorine pucks (trichlor) are made up of 50% stablizer (CYA). Since higher levels of stabilizer require higher levels of free chlorine to properly sanitize a swimming pool, many of our traditional chlorination methods which use stabilizer are creating a huge problem for us: As we chlorinate our pools, we need higher and higher levels of chlorine to keep them properly sanitized. After a month or two of tri-chlor pucks, for example, we can expect our CYA level to be up to 100PPM or higher. Some chemists recommend that a properly sanitized pool, should have a free chlorine level which is 8-10% of our CYA. For a pool with a CYA reading of 100PPM, we would need to keep our free chlorine around 10PPM to keep the swimming pool properly sanitized. Anything less could not only result in green water and algae, but expose us to potential health risks. And as more and more stabilizer gets added, the situation only gets worse. I experienced this first hand with my own swimming pool. I had a tremendous algae outbreak before I realized how high my stabilizer was and also had trouble keeping stains and other chemistry in balance. I also had to make a very expensive replacement of my pool heat exchanger which I suspect was corroded-out and rusted from the excessively high levels of chlorine. I got on a couple of website forums and discovered the Three Bs of Pool Chemistry and Maintenance: Bleach, Baking Soda and Borax. These are the only three chemicals you will ever need to maintain a healthy pool manually. Unfortunately, the manual way is expensive and inconvenient. And, you have to worry about recycling all of the 2-3, large plastic, empty bleach jugs each weak. Knowing what I know about pool chemistry today and my past problems, however, this wouldn’t stop me from continuing to do it this way if I had to. Fortunately, there is a better way. Salt water pool systems offer benefits in three ways: 

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Winegard HDTV Antenna


Winegard HDTV AntennaI bought the Winegard HDTV Antenna on impulse, on-site without having any prior knowledge of the brand, research or reviews. What prompted me to buy this particular outdoor HDTV antenna was the low, $35.00 price tag at Home Depot. I was actually shopping for both a splitter and an inexpensive, outdoor HD antenna. As it turns out, I didn’t need a splitter. You may or may not need a coax splitter either, but before we get to the installation concerns and questions, let’s talk about the actual benefits of having an outdoor HDTV antenna.

Why an Outdoor HDTV Antenna?

Over a year ago, I gave up pay TV and started using internal, HD antennas to pick up local channels off-air. I will get into the specifics of why I gave up pay TV a little bit later in this article, but for now, let me explain why I decided to go with an outdoor HDTV antenna. I have three HD TVs in my house: A 42″ LG LCD Flatscreen in my den; a 32″ LCD in my upstairs bedroom and a 65″ Mitsubishi, Projection HD television in the basement. When I cancelled my DirecTV service over a year ago, I bought three, inexpensive, indoor HD antennas for each of these televisions.  The television antennas worked pretty well, if not for two problems:

Problems with Indoor HD Antennas

  • One, Indoor antennas do not help with your room decor.  In order to get the most consistent picture, it seemed I had to place my antenna in the most conspicuous places.
  • Two, even when I found the best place for the antenna, the picture would often freeze and become scrambled on the most used and popular, local stations such as CBS, NBC and ABC.

My best reception came from bedroom television upstairs which was positioned high up on the wall of our vaulted ceiling. This also happened to be the cheapest antenna of the three I purchased. This is when it dawned on me that the position of the antenna was way more important than the quality of the actual HD antenna. An outdoor HDTV antenna started to make a lot of sense. It made even more sense when I realized that my old, DirecTV dish was already wired to all four televisions in my house. Since the wiring was already there, shouldn’t I be able to just replace the current TV dish with an inexpensive outdoor HDTV antenna? The easiest way to test this would be to take one of my current, indoor HDTV antennas and simply connect it to where the cable leads into the DirecTV dish.  Can I use satellite dish as antenna?

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Olmeca Altos Tequila




Olmeca Altos TequilaIf you don’t want to pay good money for good tequila, you will want to read this full, review on Olmeca Altos Tequila. Before I get into the specifics of the brand and its qualities, I want to make a point about ambiance. Let’s face it, when it comes to enjoying a good tequila, atmosphere makes a huge difference. I think the reason many of us are so fond of Tequila in the first place is that the taste reminds us of our most recent vacation where we once enjoyed refreshing, margaritas near a crystal clear swimming pool or white-sand beach in the middle of an ordinary work week in the middle of an ordinary January day. During those cold winter months, if we’re lucky enough to make that trip to Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, Cozumel or the many other dozens of beautiful vacation spots of warmth and sunshine, the taste of a fresh, lime-squeezed margarita will leave us with an indelible memory of relaxation and care-free paradise. Obviously, even the best tasting bottle of tequila in the world won’t replace the enjoyment we get from a week of paradise, but it goes a long way in improving our attitude,  even if it is only for the memories. So, for this reason, I have to be honest by admitting that my most recent review of Olmeca Altos tequila is a bit influenced by the beautiful weather and surroundings in which it was enjoyed.

Olmeca Altos Plata is Perfect for Cocktails

Olmeca Altos PlataThe bottle pictured above is of the Olmeca Altos Plata 100% blue agave tequila. As you can see by the photo of the empty bottle, the very last drop was enjoyed in the cocktails pictured above. A May, 70-degree, calm, sunny, early evening in Arvada, Colorado on a southern-exposure deck with a nice view is about as close as you can get to being on a beach in Mexico in January. So, I have to confess that my review, here, may be slightly biased by the outstanding climate, good feelings and vibes of my immediate surroundings where I enjoyed making this critical analysis. For starters, let me state the obvious: Olmeca Altos Plata is a very smooth liquor – much smoother than any bargain-priced tequila I’ve ever tried. There is no need to drown its flavor with sugary lime-aid mixes. The Plata tequila is actually good enough to be sipped on its own. This is an exceptionally smooth tequila which easily rivals some of the more popular brands which cost twice as much or more. Don Julio and Petron, both come to mind. While I am a big fan of Don Julio, I think Patron is an over-rated brand with a big marketing budget. To be honest, I don’t think it is even as good as, Olmeca Altos. In fact, I don’t think I would even pay 3-times the price for Don Julio knowing how good this one is.  If you’re a true tequila aficionado, don’t expect the Altos Plata to give you those over-tones, substance and character of more expensive, award-winning brands. However, this tequila definitely gives you that full, sweet taste of agave nectar. I also note a fair hint of white pepper, vanilla and just a hint of smoke. The initial taste has a it of a burn, but it quickly tapers off to a very sweet and smooth agave finish. This is the perfect tequila for dry mixers such as the cocktails pictures above. Here is the recipe in case you’d like it:

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Kobalt Battery Powered Lawn Mower

Kobalt Lawn Mower
a Complete Review

Kobalt Battery Powered Lawn MowerI made a bold decision today and bought a Kobalt Battery Powered Lawn Mower. I have always been one to jump on new ideas fairly quickly. While battery-powered mowers are not exactly new, the larger, more powerful 40 volt and 56 volt lithium batteries are a fairly recent innovation which opens up new possibilities for lawn and gardening tools such as mowers. My 18 Volt Milwaukee drill and Impact driver made a lasting and favorable impression on me and so did my Ryobi, 40 Volt Rechargeable Grass and Weed Trimmer.  The big question many of us have is this: Could something as big as a battery-powered lawn mower ever replace the long-time, standby gas lawn mowers that we’ve been using for years and years?

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Arnold Power Rake Review

Arnold Power RakeA Better Way to Rake Your Lawn

The Arnold power rake is a dethatcher blade specifically built for 21″ and 22″ push-behind, lawn mowers.  The purpose of a power-rake, of course, is to ease the pain and burden on your back and hands associated with manually raking up your dead grass and thatch. A good power rake is a tool that can be rented from an equipment shop and costs hundreds of dollars to buy. A power rake or dethatcher blade is a very inexpensive part that you replace with your lawnmower blade in a matter of minutes. The Arnold power rake, unlike other dethatcher blades which use metal tines, has a number of rigid, orange plastic tines which are spread out across the length and width of the dethatcher blade. The plastic tines, according to user reviews, do not risk doing as much damage to the lawn as the traditional, metal-tine dethatcher blades. There are other dethatcher blade sizes made by Arnold, but the 21-22″ size is probably the most common and happened to be the one that fits both of my lawn mowers. As you can see by the photo, the Arnold power rake is quite a bit different than most dethatcher blades. I bought this blade because it got better ratings from users than the traditional thatcher blades.

Why Power Rake Your Lawn?

I can see a couple of good reasons for power-raking your lawn as opposed to doing the manual, back-breaking, old-fashioned, annual, Spring hand-raking. One, after the dead cold chill of winter, spring raking becomes necessary for removing the dead grass and debris from the grass and giving your lawn plenty of fresh air and room to breath and produce new, green grass. My north-facing front yard happens to face the brutal cold winters of Colorado. Not only is the climate hard on the grass, but the debris and salt from shoveling snow off the driveway gets left on the lawn. It is going to take more than hand-raking to clean up the harmful substances on the lawn, even if it means mowing at a very low setting. It becomes absolutely necessary for me to rake up the dead grass and remove the harmful chemicals and soot from the driveway as efficiently as possible.  The second reason is that hand-raking is never as easy as it looks and usually turns into a seemingly endless job. Whenever I begin my spring lawn raking, I always tell myself, I will just concentrate on the dry spots and won’t bother to even rake the areas that are already green. Once I get started, I can never seem to stop. There seems to be an endless amount of thatch to remove and once I get done with the dry spots, I feel as though I’ve neglected the rest of the lawn that is green. So, I usually end up raking the entire lawn and it becomes very tiresome after a while. Getting started with a rake is easy, but finishing the job is not. The Arnold rake makes it possible to bypass the rake entirely. The job is as easy as mowing your lawn once or twice. The final reason, of course, is that a good, professional power rake will do a much better job than human, back-breaking, manual hand raking. So, the question then becomes, ‘can a simple replacement dethatcher blade do a better job than you can do with your old fashioned rake? I decided to look at power rake reviews and the one that looked the best was, Arnold.

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Healthy Low Fat Snacks

The other day, I was feeling hungry while shopping the aisle of my local grocery store. Yet, I refused to buy any of the snacks simply because of the disappointing claims that they contained less fat. You see, ‘low-fat’ doesn’t Low Fat Healthy Snacksmean the same thing to me as it does most of the world. Believe me, it used to. There was a time when I was a fanatic about all of these low-fat, health ideas. I was convinced that I would jeopardize my heart and life if I didn’t remove the fat from everything I ate. Before, I even delve into how and why that as all changed, let me just simply state the way I feel today:  The truth is, I want all of my food to contain good, saturated and natural fats, even my snacks.  So, when I read that the infamous package of Gardetto’ Snack Mix claimed to be reduced fat, I had no interest in buying it. The reason I was craving a snack in the first place was because my body was hungry for fat, oil and salt. Unfortunately, today’s food industry has removed all of the healthy, natural fats from their products.  For example, coconut oil and lard – these things are considered bad for us and nobody will touch them with a 10-foot pole.   Even the RF, Egg-Vermicelli Spaghetti my mom used to buy as a kid is no longer available because eggs contain cholesterol. Cholesterol is bad, right? Not really. Nobody has ever died from high cholesterol; nor has it made anyone more likely to have a heart attack. With some research of the data with a critical eye rather than one that accepts popular propaganda, we will eventually learn the truth: Low fat diets and lowering one’s cholesterol neither improves one’s health nor lower one’s weight.

The Misnomer of the so-called, Healthy Snack

If you are looking for healthy low fat snacks you are fighting a losing battle. Nothing that is labeled low-fat or less-fat is healthy. Believe me, nobody has ever become healthier by eating less fat … period. The problem is that we’ve been fed the big fat lie in our world that fat is a villain to be avoided like the plague. Fat, particularly animal fat, is what our body craves.  Snacks which claim to be made with ‘50% less fat’ or ‘low-fat’ are the ones we should avoid. Aside from the big-fat lie that fat is bad for our heart, has anyone lost one single pound because they bought foods at the grocery store which were labeled, ‘low-fat’? Unfortunately, the foods that use to be healthy have been loaded up with lots of sugar and starches to compensate for the lack of the flavor. There is overwhelming evidence that sugar and starch are the bigger cause of problems like heart disease, weight-gain and diabetes. Is it any coincidence that these three problems grew proportionately with the decrease of fat and increase of sugar in our diets?  Many people laugh at fried pork-rinds, but in reality, they are practically harmless compared to most snacks. Most fried pork rinds have only two ingredients. Fried-out Pork fat and salt. Neither of these ingredients are as harmful as sugar and trans-fats. In fact,  fried pork rinds will satisfy your hunger. 

Snacks need less sugar and more Natural Fats

We need to send a message to the food companies that it is not less fat we want in our snacks, but less sugar. These so-called, ‘healthy’ low-fat snacks are usually made with added sugars to compensate for the lack of flavor missing from low-fat foods. If snack foods just used lard, coconut oil, real butter, and/or other natural, saturated fats, there would be no problem with finding healthy snacks. Unfortunately, the good guys have been made the villains. The bad guys like sugar and starch are largely ignored or considered a minor obstacle in the mission to replace the sinful fats that kill us all.  

McDonald’s was Healthier in the Olden Days

I remember when McDonald’s stopped using beef fat in their fries to make them ‘healthier’. Instead of lard, they went to trans-fats which are considered deadly and even banned in some places. Now that trans-fats are considered the world’s biggest health villains they are no longer used either. However, the new vegetable oils don’t taste as good and still not considered, ‘healthy’ by many experts. The beef fat fries were so much tastier, more natural and healthier. Haven’t we heard, “You can’t fool mother nature?” And now we’re supposed to believe the so-called health experts who pressured these changes upon food chains like McDonald’s that we’re better off with bad-tasting fats like, canola oil? I am simply amazed at how firmly the false ideas on low-fat and cholesterol have been etched in our minds. Would any snack or food company dare advertise that their products are made from real, natural, saturated fats and contain less sugar? If only we could get back to these real, natural, fatty foods, we’d be a healthier, happier lot of people. I would love to taste those old McDonald’s fries once again!

Who’s to blame? In all honesty, how can you fault consumers for doing what they think is best for their family and themselves? I’ve peaked into the grocery carts of some pretty obese people at the grocery store and I see things like, low-fat  cottage cheese, cholesterol-free pasta, fat-free this, that and the other thing. On top of that are breads and loads of other foods rich in starchy carbs – and yes, soda pop..both sugar and sugar-free. It’s like we are trying to fake our bodies into thinking they don’t need what they naturally want? You want real cheese, but you can’t have it? So, load up on the fake cheese? Or load up on the chips and dips with more sugar and less, natural saturated fats. Does that really make sense? The ingredients of the shopping cart of the average, obese person is right in line with the popularly accepted diet in America and most of the world because this is the low-fat fraud we’ve all had shoved down our mouths for 40 years or so. Yet, parents are failing both themselves and their kids on these high-starch, low-fat diets. It’s not their fault. This is what they have been told to do. The fact that it isn’t working must mean they are hopeless, right? It’s really pretty sad.

How to find Healthy Snacks

The key to a healthy snack is one with less sugar and refined carbs and more of the fats that were once considered, natural and not unhealthy. These fats include Coconut Oil, Lard, Butter and Palm Oil. Good luck finding something like this at your typical grocery store. In fact, most of the so-called, health food stores still don’t understand this. Our bodies crave coconut oil, butter, animal fats and salt. The carbohydrates won’t hurt us if we eat them in moderation. If your body craves something crunchy with oil and salt, your best bet is to make it yourself. When it comes to snacking, however, I realize that nothing beats the convenience of something you can pick-up at your grocery aisle that is ready for you to munch at a moment’s notice. Though they are few and far between, there has got to be a few healthy and delicious choices out there for us to choose. Please leave your comments about healthy snacks you’ve been able to buy and enjoy.

 

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Canon SX510HS Camera Review

Canon SX510HS CameraRight off the bat, I can make three, important claims about the Canon Powershot SX510 Superzoom Camera: One, I am absolutely certain that the SX510HS does not provide the greatest image and video quality of any digital camera. Two, I am equally certain that the Sx510 does not possess the biggest nor best superzoom capabilities of any digital camera on the market. Three, the Canon Powershot SX510 provides perhaps the biggest punch and bang for the buck of any digital camera for its price range. At around $200.00, the SX510HS allows you to capture stunning, detailed photographs and videos of far-away subjects which cannot be revealed with the naked eye. Below is a brief sample of a German Shepard wanting in the back door of his/her home from around 200 yards away from my deck. You can see the scratches on the door paint and frame around the window as well as the color of the dog collar and the expressions on its face.

Canon Powershot SX510HS Superzoom Demonstration

SX510HS Offers Greatest Bang for the Buck of any Digital Camera

Obviously, the subtitle is only my opinion, but having a 30X, full-motion zoom lens in such a small form factor is what makes the $200 Canon SX510HS Camera an extremely impressive tool. Canon probably has one of the best reputations around for making digital cameras, but not all of their consumer-grade products are adored by true photo enthusiasts and camera review blogs. I usually spend a good deal of time on sites like Dpreview, Steves-Digicams and Digital Camera World while shopping for a new camera. While these are excellent websites for gaining a truthful and comprehensive view of the capabilities and quality of cameras, they don’t always represent the needs and desires of your typical bargain-hunting, digital camera user. I knew this camera would be well worth the $200 I spent on it, simply by browsing the dozens of reviews of other users like myself who appreciate the power of a superzoom lens in a small unit.

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