Apr 272014
 

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? I think so. After all, it took a long time for battery powered tools to become efficient and powerful enough to replace corded tools. I imagine the same skepticism existed with even electrical tools when they first replaced manual tools. Most professionals now, use battery-charged power tools almost exclusively.  How could something that is quiet, weighs little and makes only a fraction of the noise, be as powerful as the old-fashioned gas lawnmowers? And how can you expect to keep your lawn in tip-top shape without the handling, noise and smell of good ol’ gas and oil? Can a mower be powerful without the noise? Having taken the plunge into re-chargeable mowers, I have refuted a few of the myths we’ve adopted about about some of our old, gas-powered tools. One, a machine doesn’t need to make a lot of noise to cut your grass. Two, there is enough power to get your lawn cut without having to pull a cord and burn gas. Three, a lawn mower doesn’t need to be heavy to get the job done. Myths aside, are these good enough reasons to replace your conventional gas-powered unit with a battery powered lawn mower?

Advantages to the Kobalt Battery Powered Lawn Mower vs a Gas Mower

The idea of never having to use or smell gas every time I mow the lawn is probably an appealing enough reason on its own to make the switch.  There are a few other good reasons:

Less Noise

The Kobalt, battery-powered lawn mower makes only a fraction of the noise as traditional, gas lawn mowers. In fact, I can be mowing the lawn without worrying about my wife or neighbor wife sneaking up behind me and scaring the daylights out of me. This is only one reason to desire a quiet lawn mower. I have an unwritten rule that I will never mow before 09:00Am on a weekend or holiday as to not wake up any neighbors. The Kobalt lawn mower is quiet enough that I would feel comfortable mowing early in the morning if I had to or felt like it. Hopefully, I won’t need to test this idea very often, except for maybe on one of those predictably, unseasonably hot summer days.

Cordless Easy Start-Up

Kobalt 2-Step Easy StartTo me, this is a big deal. No matter how easy, my corded, gas mower was to pull, the motion of jerking that cord back wreaks havoc on my lower back. There were times when the engine would flood and I would hurt my back pulling the cord to get it started. There is never a concern with that on a battery powered lawn mower.  I put the battery inside the compartment; press a button, pull back the handle and the mower is running. Continue reading »

 Posted by at 5:30 pm
Apr 192014
 

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. Continue reading »

 Posted by at 12:30 pm
Apr 082014
 

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.

 

 Posted by at 8:02 pm
Apr 052014
 

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. Continue reading »

 Posted by at 2:47 pm
Dec 282013
 

Hamilton Beach 12 Cup BrewstationThe Hamilton Beach 12 Cup Brewstation makes a very powerful argument against the every day use of single-cup coffee makers like the Keurig.  Not too long ago, I began to feel that the convenience of the single cup Keurig coffee brewer topped my reasons to ever buy another coffee maker.  I even wrote articles about how coffee is enjoyed one cup at a time, not one pot at a time. Why deal with messy coffee grounds and coffee that sits in a pot and gets old and tastes burnt? On the other hand, single cup coffee makers give you only one cup at a time. Would if you want just a little bit more, but don’t want to waste $.40 to $.87 cents on that second full cup? Perhaps, when you consider the the limitations of single cup coffee makers, they aren’t so convenient, after all. Does life really happen one cup at a time? Would if you want just a little more or a little less and don’t want to pay for the entire cup? And, why does it have to sit in a pot and get old? Why can’t we have the best of both worlds?

Hamilton Beach 12 Cup Brewstation

Is it a  Single Cup Coffee Maker or a Coffee Pot Brewer?

The Hamiton Beach 12-Cup Brewstation is neither a single pot or single-cup coffee maker. It brews coffee into a holding tank that can be dispensed into your cup when, as often, and in the quantities you like. The Hamltion Beach Brewstation keeps the coffee fresher because there is no carafe or coffee pot sitting on a hot plate to burn it and make it taste bitter. I discovered the Brewstation at a condo I stayed at for the weekend in Copper Mountain, Colorado. I became intrigued with the Brewstation’s simplicity and flexibility. I could sip as much coffee as I wanted without being in a hurry and didn’t have to worry about the costs of cracking open another k-cup or two. So, how do you make coffee in this thing? Continue reading »

 Posted by at 8:40 pm
Dec 282013
 

Coffee Tastes Like PlasticIf your coffee tastes like plastic there are a couple of good reasons for this: One, your coffee maker is made from plastic. Two, you just bought a brand new coffee maker. It is unfortunate that even most expensive coffee makers are made from plastic. Plastic, particularly when it is new, contains chemicals which become significantly more active when hot water is added. There is nothing worse than tasting plastic in your favorite brand of coffee, especially when you just purchased a new brewer which is supposedly designed to extract the most flavorful cup of coffee possible. Unfortunately, there is no way to get around the materials manufacturers use to make their coffee brewers. There is, however, a fool-proof way to permanently get rid of the plastic odor and taste for good.

How to get rid of plastic taste in coffee maker

Getting rid of the plastic taste in your coffee maker is so simple, I wish I had thought of it. The only ingredients you will need are a bottle of 70-90% rubbing alcohol and a few minutes of your time. Don’t be fooled by the claims that vinegar works. I’ve tried it several times and it simply doesn’t do the job. Using vinegar will only make your coffee smell like both plastic and vinegar at the same time. The rubbing alcohol works and chemists have confirmed the scientific reasoning for this. The chemicals contained in plastic are soluble in the alcohol. More importantly, I’ve tried it on a brand new, Hamilton Beach Brew Station and the strong odor and taste of plastic have completely vanished. Here’s how I recommend doing it. Pour half of the bottle of rubbing alcohol in the bottom of your brew dispenser. Fill the dispenser with water, leaving room for the rest of the alcohol. Fill the top up with the remaining rubbing alcohol and brew. I recommend leaving the fully brewed hot water/rubbing alcohol mixture sit in the coffee maker for about 10 – 15 minutes before emptying it. Then, you will need to brew about 2-3 pots of additional water until you’re confident that the alcohol is completely diluted from your brewer. Continue reading »

 Posted by at 4:35 pm