How to get rid of Wasps

How to get rid of Wasps
– A Review on Trapstik

how to get rid of wasps
TrapStik for Wasps

How do you Rate the TrapStik? 

Our Reader Score
[Total: 4 Average: 3.8]

How to get rid of wasps is not a one-size-fits-all solution. The answer depends on the type of wasps, location, and situation. I have had great success removing wasps from the row of hedges along side of our swimming pool late in the summer simply by spraying them with a couple of cans of wasp spray. Other times, I was able to control wasps by hanging up a couple of Wasp Traps with Wasp Attractant around the perimeter of the yard. This summer, we had a different problem: Wasps were gaining entry into the bottom of our porch through an open hole. Dozens were coming in by the hour I tried using wasp spray and tried using wasp attractant, but none of these things seemed to make a dent in the wasp population flying in and out of the porch hole. Finally, I sprayed the hole shut with insulation foam. The wasps appeared to not be able to get anymore, but it didn’t stop them from trying. The area was now a complete mess, swarming with wasps who were bound and determined to get inside the bottom of our backyard porch. Finally, I found something that appears to be working.

Read more

Ethernet over Power with the Netgear Powerline 500

ethernet over powerThe Netgear Powerline 500 uses Ethernet over Power technology to solve wife range problems in the home. Ethernet over Power technology has been around several years. With numerous products on the market designed for the home and small office there is a large selection of competing brands to choose from at a very affordable price. I am a disappointed in myself for not thinking of this sooner. Unlike modern homes today which are built with technology and digital entertainment in mind, my 28-year-old home is not equipped with ethernet jacks in every room. In fact, I am writing this article from my office on the only computer in the house with a wired, ethernet connection. All of the family’s laptops, PC’s, and mobile devices rely on the latest Cable Modem / Router provided by Comcast.

What is Ethernet over Power?

How does the Netgear Powerline 500 Work?

Netgear Powerline 500
Netgear Powerline 500 Adapter

Ethernet over Power (not to be confused with Power over Ethernet or PoE) offers you a rock solid network connection in situations where WIFI just isn’t cutting it in your home or office. With Ethernet over Power  you are provided with two or more RJ45 Network adapters. The Netgear Powerline 500 comes with two adapters, two Ethernet cables, and documentation. One adapter is plugged directly into your wall outlet. An RJ45 Cable is connected between the adapter and your router. The other adapter is connected to the power outlet near the remote PC. An RJ45 cable goes between the adapter and the remote computer’s Ethernet port. Once connected, you have a  rock solid network connection between the wired PC and the router with absolutely no dependence on WIFI range, distance or limitations. The Netgear Powerline 500 works completely independent of your router’s WIFI. Using Ethernet over Power is basically as good as an RJ45 connection.

Why use Ethernet over Power instead of WIFI?

The modem/router combo unit that Comcast provided me is supposedly the very latest and was designed to address the numerous complaints from customers about limited WIFI capabilities around the house. Despite being designed with the very latest WIFI capabilities and adequate, advertised range, the Comcast router still drops connections on other, distant WIFI devices, particularly on my son’s PC which is a fair distance away and separated by a couple of walls and different floor level.  This problem continued even after my son changed his computer from the upstairs bedroom to a closer downstairs bedroom and was well within the acceptable range of the router. His internet performance was extremely show even after trying three different network cards; and even when his WIFI status shows that his connection was rated as excellent. I was about to try a fourth network card when I remembered a similar situation at my school. Teachers relied on various routers throughout the building for WIFI on their laptops. We all had problems with very slow performance and losing our connection. The only exceptions were those laptops that were located in the same room as the router or at the very least on the same floor, in close proximity. In our case, we had to have additional routers installed which involved some additional and somewhat complicated setup from our IT professional. While it might be worthwhile to do this at a school or office, it might not be practice for a home situation. You might ask, why not just have an Ethernet drop installed in your house? The answer is cost and convenience. Either you’ll have to be handy drilling holes and dropping cables through them yourself, or you will have to pay someone anywhere from $85.00 to $200.00 per line drop. What does it cost to get a couple of Powerline Adapters, instead?

Netgear Powerline 500 Cost and Performance

I chose the Netgear Powerline 500 because it was the only Ethernet over Power product available at my local Best Buy Store at a reasonable price. There are other, cheaper powerline adapters with very good ratings, but I was not able to find any of them locally. Still, I paid only $55.00 for the Netgear Powerline 500. In other words, I paid roughly half the price of what it would cost to have a line dropped in the house. Even the line drop is a somewhat limited solution. Would if you were wanting to move the computer to another location or room? As its name implies, the Netgear Powerline 500 offers network speeds of up to 500Mbps. Real-world tests indicate that these kinds of speeds are not actually achieved, but it really doesn’t matter. The Netgear Powerline 500 blows away the speed of any 100Mbps wired connection and is way faster than any internet connection of today will require. Now, you might be asking, why don’t all businesses use Ethernet over Power technology instead of wiring cabling all throughout their buildings? This might have to do with the actual speed limitations. Businesses today, are looking ahead at the very fastest connection speeds available, including things like Fiber and PoE. Power over Ethernet or PoE is basically a way of transmitting power over existing data lines for maximum speed and connectivity. There are other, faster and more expensive Ethernet over Power products that might find its way into enterprise and data center markets, but as of today, this technology is mostly desired by home users and small office environments. While I am not aware of speed and distance limitations of Ethernet over Power technology, I am sure there is much information to be found online in case you are curious.

Does it Really Work?

Connecting the Netgear Powerline 500 was probably the simplest and fastest hardware installation I have ever made.  Unlike setting up WIFI devices, Ethernet over Power requires absolutely no connection or security settings on the computer or router because you are hard wiring into your router. It is as much plug-and-play simplicity as you can possibly get. While other users have complained of a little hitch or two getting it going, I had no such trouble at all. The instant I plugged my son’s computer and ethernet cable into the powered Netgear adapter and his Ethernet jack on the back of his computer, he was connected to the internet.  Since making the Netgear Powerline 500 installation 3 weeks ago, my son’s internet connection has remained fast and connected 24-7.


Cordless Hedge Trimmer makes easy work of Difficult Jobs

cordless hedge trimmer
The Kobalt 40V Lithium Ion Cordless Hedge Trimmer

Before I purchased the Kobalt cordless hedge trimmer, I found myself searching for a battery powered chain saw and I’m not sure why. While a cordless hedge trimmer does resemble a gas-powered chainsaw with it’s inch long spikes minus the chain, it is completely different in form, function, and purpose. When I think of chainsaws I think of a heavy duty piece of machinery designed to saw through massive tree trunks. I have a hard time believing any battery powered chainsaw is going to have enough power and endurance to get through a thick tree trunk. The Kobalt 40V lithium powered hedge trimmer comes with 24″ duel action blades that can easily cut through tree branches and trim hedges and shrubs around the home and it does the job far more quietly than a chainsaw.

How do you rate the Kobal Hedge Trimmer? 

Our Reader Score
[Total: 3 Average: 4.3]

Why a Cordless Hedge Trimmer is better than a Gas Trimmer

While I have not tried any other battery-powered hedge trimmer brands, the Kobalt 40v Lithium-Ion hedge trimmer, in my opinion, puts any gas-powered tool to shame for most jobs around the house. While it is true that gas gives you more power and the ability to do larger jobs, the Kobalt cordless hedge trimmer provides you with a lightweight tool that is sure to get more use due to its convenience, ease-of-use, and instant-on operation. In the time it would take me to merely think about gassing-up and starting up an old gas hog, I could just about have the entire pear tree in my back yard pruned and trimmed. Because the Kobalt cordless hedge trimmer is so light-weight and easy to handle, it instantly creates trimming opportunities that might otherwise be pushed aside or forsaken for too much trouble and effort. In short, a cordless hedge trimmer makes you more productive

Uses for the Kobalt Cordless Hedge Trimmer

Because it is light-weight, I don’t mind taking the Kobalt cordless trimmer with me up a ladder to prune the higher-up limbs on our trees. It cuts through most tree limbs in one-pass though it is light-weight enough that I don’t have to worry if I miss a few here and there – I simply go over them again. My wife has used our Kobalt cordless hedge trimmer to reshape bushes, hedges and trim an entire row of butterfly bushes along our backyard.  The key advantages here are ease-of-use and convenience. It is literally probably more work to clean up the branches and mess afterwards than it is to actually trim and cut down limbs, branches and re-shape rows of bushes.

Compatibility with other Kobalt Tools

The Kobalt battery-powered hedge trimmer uses the same 40V battery as my other Kobalt Tools: Kobalt Lawn Mower and Battery Powered Leaf Blower.  Now, owning all three Kobalt tools, I have more batteries and more chargers than I will ever need. If I have one and only one complaint It might be that Kobalt should offer its customers an option to buy their tools without the battery.

Demonstration of the Kobalt Cordless Hedge Trimmer

The convenience and light-weight operation of battery-powered tools has encouraged me to do a lot of little extra yard work that I normally wouldn’t have done. Whenever I see something around the lawn that needs a little trimming, I know that my cordless hedge trimmer is only the press-of-a-button away from making me instantly productive. If I see a few grass blades on the driveway that I normally would have let go, I don’t hesitate to put a battery in the leaf blower and get them cleaned up. When my grass was growing twice as long in the early summer, I mowed more frequently than I normally would have thanks to the easy, light-weight operation of the Kobalt Battery Powered Lawn Mower.

If you are really into keeping a neatly groomed lawn and garden, I cannot recommend the Kobalt cordless hedge trimmer enough. On the other hand, if you don’t care much for doing yard work and extra trimming around the house, that is probably the best reason of all to get a cordless hedge trimmer.


Aroma Rice Cooker

Aroma Rice CookerAroma Rice Cooker

This affordable rice cooker offers a very simple, fast, and easy way to make perfect rice every time. While this product is certainly not limited to a single function, I bought the Aroma rice cooker solely for this purpose. Gradually, I became intrigued and even excited as I discovered some of the other meals that can be made using the Aroma rice cooker. First, let’s talk about how to make rice with the Aroma.

How do you rate the Aroma Rice Cooker? 

Our Reader Score
[Total: 3 Average: 3.7]

How to Make Rice

Using the Aroma Rice Cooker

We’re not huge rice eaters in my household, but we enjoy it enough to tell the difference between good rice and rice that is poorly made. Prior to buying the Aroma rice cooker, our conventional way of making rice was to add two cups of water and 1 cup of rice to boiling water, then turn it down to low and wait until it appears to be ready to eat. This 20-year old method of ours was inconsistent at best. We still have our old rice cooker, which we seldom use because it is small and inconvenient to clean. The Aroma rice cooker solves both problems by making consistently good rice very quickly and conveniently, with very little hassle cleaning up.

How to Cook RiceTo make rice with the Aroma rice cooker, simply fill the inside of the cooking pot to the indicated number line with water and add the equivalent number of cups. For instance, if I want 4 cups of cooked rice,  I fill the cooking pot up with water to the line numbered, 2. Then, I simply add 2 cups of rice using the cup that is included. Note: the cup included is specifically equal to 3/4ths cups of uncooked rice. I’ve included a picture of the chart showing how much water vs. rice to use. You can make between 4 and 20 cups of rice. With water and rice in the cooking pot, I simply close the lid of the steamer, turn on the power button on the left-hand side, then press the digital button, labeled, White Rice. The rice will be finished in about 30-35 minutes, will beep to let me know it is done, and then the light will go off. The rice will stay warm until we’re ready to eat it. The quality, I think, is as good as it is at any Asian restaurant. It comes out consistent, thoroughly cooked, not too watery, not too sticky (unless it is sticky rice), and not crunchy at all even if left on warm for a long time. Finally, the Aroma rice cooker has a very nice ‘delay-feature’. Let’s say it is 3PM and I want to have 4 cups of cooked rice ready at 5:00PM. Instead of worrying about whether or not I will remember, I can simply put the rice and water in the pot and set the program for 2 hours. The rice will be completely ready by 5PM! Now, that is how to cook rice with little trouble or guess-work. I’m no expert on rice, but I think the Aroma rice cooker is worth the $30 I paid, just as a rice cooker, alone.  I would even go so far as to say that I am actually enjoying plain, ol’ white rice a great deal more than I ever have in the past. I am finding that it goes well with just about anything and am finding myself looking forward to eating rice more than ever. My wife and I love the fact that the pot inside the cooker is removable and extremely easy to clean.  The other good news is that the Aroma rice cooker does a lot of other things well, too.

Other Used for the Aroma Rice Cooker

Aroma Rice Cooker FeaturesIn addition to cooking white and brown rice, the Aroma rice cooker will steam vegetables, saute, simmer, slow-cook soups, stews, sauces, and even cook an entire beef or pork roast, complete with potatoes, carrots, and vegetables.  The aroma rice cooker can actually replace our old crock pot as a slow-cooker. One particularly brilliant and convenient feature, I think, is the saute and simmer function. Let’s say, for example, I want to brown some Italian sausage and/or meatballs, then simmer them in a pot of spaghetti sauce. Instead of having to use a separate frying pan to brown the meat, I can put them right into the rice cooker pot. Next, I simply press the saute-then-simmer button and let it brown for a while. Once the meat has been browned to my satisfaction, I can add the spaghetti sauce, and the cooker will automatically switch-over to simmer mode! This is handy as all get-out, and it really works as advertised. The Aroma rice cooker is one of the best things we’ve gotten for our kitchen since the Veggetti and Ninja Express Chop. Besides rice, the Aroma does a whole lot other things. The graphic to the right will give you a much better idea of its features and capabilities. Use your imagination. By searching YouTube, you will find a variety of other ways to cook various foods with a rice steamer or rice cooker. The Aroma is programmed and designed in a clever way to make full use of its cooking possibilities. In case, you’d like to see an actual demonstration of the Aroma rice cooker, I’ve located a great video for you below.

A Video Demonstration

How to Make Rice with the Aroma

A Video Demonstration

Making Spaghetti Sauce

No doubt, I probably made everyone a little hungry talking about spaghetti sauce. I was not able to find a good video demonstrating the saute and simmer feature of this versatile steamer/rice cooker, so I will have to come up with my own in the very near future. I promise to include a video using my recipe, Homemade Spaghetti Sauce from Scratch, using the Aroma rice cooker next time it’s on our household dinner menu. It’s not just a rice cooker, the Aroma really does do a lot of things very well. If there is one limitation I can think of, it’s that the 20-cup capacity will probably not be enough to handle a large, Italian family dinner. Still, the Aroma is a great rice cooker, and more!


Kobalt Battery Powered Leaf Blower

Battery Powered Leaf BlowerBattery Powered Leaf Blower

The Kobalt Battery Powered Leaf Blower is the third in a series of cordless lawn and garden tools I’ve bought from Kobalt. Last year, I bought the Kobalt Battery Powered Mower and have been pleased with both its performance and reliability thus far. Next, I purchased the Kobalt Battery Powered Hedge Trimmer. So far, I have been impressed with this light weight chain-saw substitute, but I have not had enough experience with it to complete a review. I hope to give the hedge trimmer some use in the next few days and will review it soon, so check back soon. One thing all of these cordless tools from Kobalt have in common is that you can buy them from here: Lowes Sells Kobalt Tools. Now, back to the Kobalt leaf blower. Before, I get into the specifics of this product, let me do something I rarely do and give you a quick run-down on the pros and cons of the Kobalt battery powered leaf blower:

Pros and Cons of the Kobalt Battery Powered Leaf Blower

Pros

  • Convenient – no cords. Quick charge.
  • Affordable for a lithium ion re-chargeable tool.
  • Light Weight and small for portable, easy storage.
  • Easy to Handle – nice ergonomics.

Cons

  • Weaker air flow  than with other corded and gas blowers – Only good for grass blades, leafs and other light-weight, dry debris.
  • Kobalt forces you to buy both the battery and charger whether you need them or not. With my hedge trimmer and mower, I have more than I can use.

Do the Cons outweigh the Pros?

Read more

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? 

Our Reader Score
[Total: 7 Average: 3.9]

Read more

Best Tequila for Margaritas. Is Price really so Important?


Best Tequila for MargaritasIn a perfect world, the best tequila for margaritas would be the one that tastes best by itself. Enjoying those kinds of margaritas on a consistent basis, however, is outside most of our budgets. When searching for the best tequila for margaritas, one key is to find the brand that tastes the best at an affordable price. There are other considerations for margarita drinkers.  While we would all agree that smoothness is important, the taste and character of tequila are subjective things that may or may not add to the overall enjoyment of a margarita. It might be that the best sipping tequila in the world has qualities and characteristics that are too bold to make the perfect margarita. It is also likely that the unique taste of world class tequilas is completely lost and unappreciated.  Before I provide my Best Tequila for Margaritas list, I would like to provide some general criteria.

 

Rating Criteria

The Best Tequila for Margaritas

I have come up with three categories that I think are important for margarita drinkers:

  • Smoothness – A smooth tasting tequila obviously makes a smooth tasting Margarita.
  • Price – For the vast majority of us, it doesn’t make sense to use expensive sipping tequilas for Margaritas.
  • Neutrality – This category sort of works hand-in-hand with price. Very pricey tequila full of bold character and flavor will either be underappreciated or over-shadow the margarita mix. Speaking of margarita mix, I believe the simpler, the better. I will share with you my own recipe.

 

Recipe used to rate Best Tequilas for Margs

Even an affordable and good tequila will go to waste in a bad mix. I am not a fan of the overly sweet or sour cook-aid type mixes that most restaurants serve. I use three simple ingredients: 1 part fresh-squeezed lime juice, 2 parts tequila, and a splash of Contreau or Stirrings triple sec.   I like to shake the ingredients vigorously for about 30-40 seconds and serve up (or neat) in a glass with salt around the rim. One thing to beware of is that a bad lime can spoil everything. Good, fresh limes are usually shinier on the outside with bright green color and have a thick skin when they are sliced. Getting a good lime can be tricky, but it is well worth taking the time to find a grocer where they are consistently good. A sour lime will pretty much drown out everything that is good about the drink, including the tequila.

About my Tequila Ratings

I’ve decided to use a few of the familiar tequilas that I’ve tried and rated here on Product Review Ratings. Each tequila is rated in each criteria on a scale of 1 – 10. Of my two favorites, I will warn you that the Rancho Alegre does give me a headache. I didn’t think it would be fair to use that criteria in my ratings since so far, I am the only one I know that complains of this unwelcome phenomenon. I have not done nearly enough research to make this a thorough review, but hopefully these ratings on the best tequila for margaritas will lead you in the right direction.

Best Tequila for Margaritas

Rated by Smoothness, Price, and Neutrality

Tequila Smoothness Price (750ML) Neutrality RATING
El Ultimo Agave Reposado  8 9 ($14.00 – $15.00) 8 83%
Rancho Alegre Plata 7 9 ($13.00 – $15.00) 9 83%
Rancho Alegre Reposado 7 9 ($13.00 – $15.00) 8 80%
Olmeca Altos Plata 8 8 ($16.00 – $18.00) 8 80%
Olmeca Altos Reposado 8 8 ($16.00 – $18.00) 8 80%
El Charro Reposado 7 9 ($14.00 – $17.00) 8 80%
Camarena Reposado 7 8 ($17.00 – $19.00) 8 77%
El Zarco Silver 8 7 ($14.00 – $17.00) 7 73%

 

El Ultimo Agave Tequila. Low Price, but how Good?


El Ultimo Agave Tequila
El Ultimo Agave

El Ultimo Agave Tequila joins my short list of reviews on excellent tequilas that most of us can afford. I bought the 750ml Reposado El Ultimo Agave Tequila at a local liquor store for around $14.00. This puts it in the same price range of one our favorite marg-making standby’s over the last couple of summers, Olmeca Altos Tequila. The price on Olmeca ranges from $27 – $31.00 at my local liquor stores for a 1.75 liter bottle. Another favorite, which is far cheaper than both of these is, Rancho Alegre. All three of these tequilas are 100% agave. There are a couple of reasons, I prefer the El Ultimo Agave to either of these other bargain-priced tequilas:

Taste Comparison

El Ultimo Agave Tequila

Compared straight-up to Olmeca Altos Tequila, both my wife and I preferred El Ultimo De Agave in a blind, taste-test. I was really surprised. Both are smooth tequilas that mix well for margaritas, but the El Ultimo Agave just seems to have more flavor and character.  I noticed hints of honey, fig, banana, butter, orange and ginger. The Olmeca Altos just doesn’t offer as much flavor. For the money, I’d rather pay a little extra for the El Ultimo Agave tequila. Other tequila websites seem to agree with my opinion on El Ultimo Agave. Users and tequila critic snobs alike, have rated it very highly. I did not have the Reposado version of Rancho Alegre, but while I was in the mood, I did do another comparison.

Rancho Alegre Silver vs Olmeca Altos Tequila

A 1.75 bottle of Rancho Alegre is only around $21.00 and for taste-alone, remains the best deal there is. In another blind taste-test, my wife and I much preferred the cheaper Rancho Alegre over the Olmeca Altos tequila and I suspect it would give the El Ultimo Agave a run for its money if I had the same, two types to compare. However, this is a moot point for me. It has been painfully proven to me time and time again, that Rancho Alegre gives me a headache. My wife doesn’t have this problem, so it could just be me. If you haven’t tried Rancho Alegre, I encourage you to try it. Once the secret gets out on a good, cheap tequila, they become much easier to find, though the price tends to rise accordingly. At any rate, I will continue to try bargain-priced, 100% agave tequilas as I find them. The question is where can you find it?

Where to Buy El Ultimo Agave Tequila

Here is where things get tricky. El Ultimo Agave Tequila is listed as an uncommon tequila on the UndertheLabel website. I located El Ultimo Agave at Sams Warehouse Liquor in Westminster, Colorado. Though Sams is one of my favorite liquor stores, they are not in the most convenient location for me. Sams had an excellent selection of tequilas and trying a new one for the first time is a difficult choice. It turns out I made the right choice after fondling bottle after bottle of unknown tequila brands. The problem is, I have not been able to find El Ultimo Agave in any of the other liquor stores near my local neighborhood. If you can find El Ultimo Agave tequila at your local liquor store, I highly recommend it.

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:

Read more

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? 

Our Reader Score
[Total: 1 Average: 5]

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.

Read more

Ninja Express Chop

Ninja Express Chop User Rating:

Our Reader Score
[Total: 7 Average: 4.9]

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. 

Read more

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.