December 15, 2011

Tweezerman Facial Hair Scissors review: For Facial Hair and Unwanted Shirt Threads

Tweezerman Facial Hair Scissors

These sleek, silver, scissors sliced through threads seen only with the finest eyes. True, most days the scissors removed hair from ears and elsewhere, but no more superb thread cutter was found than this.

The Scene: A dim cafe in the Midwest. Third table, by the window, farthest from the door.
The Future: Nancy would walk in the door, with a smile, bringing in sunlight to my life.
The Past: A new shirt purchased just for the occasion.
The Problem: A nagging, unbearable, itchy thread along my left side, just below my arm.
The Tension: Nancy's arrival would be in five minutes. By this time, she had parked her car in the garage and was coming down Charles Street, just around the corner.

The solution was found next door, at a pharmacy. A credit card swipe sped up the transaction. A step into the restroom to discretely cut the offending threads (there were three), and I was done. As I sat down, she stepped in, as lovely as my memory of her.

May your scissors cut all hair, threads and whatever else is needed on time.

Buy a Tweezerman Facial Hair Scissors.

December 09, 2011

Schott Zwiesel Tritan Crystal Barware Paris Collection Longdrink 9.3 Ounce, Set of 6 review - Simple, Elegant, Functional Tumbler

Schott Zwiesel Tritan Crystal Barware Paris Collection Longdrink 9.3 Ounce, Set of 6

This simple cup recognizes no elaborate design. It makes no statement, and is not purchased to say, "Look at me." It exists to be used until no more, and then, to be replaced by its kin. No logos or etchings adorn it. Yet, for all of this, it is attractive.

This tumbler may hold no more than water, some ice, and the occasional lemonade. Expect it to always be graceful in its humility. It is solid enough to use daily, to be used to push a cold drink across the table to a friend as stops by unexpectedly, or to greet a neighbor as he gardens next door.

Clean it in your dishwasher, or in the sink. This cup does not care. Spots will be minimal and invisible.

May your drinks always be refilled, and your neighbors visits frequent.

Order up a set of Schott Zwiesel Tritan Crystal Barware Paris Collection Longdrink 9.3 Ounce, Set of 6.

December 05, 2011

Cuisinart DCC-RWF1 Replacement Coffeemaker Water Filters Review - Good Coffee Starts with Good Water

Cuisinart DCC-RWF1 Replacement Coffeemaker Water Filters, Set of 2 by Cuisinart

Good coffee starts with good water and good beans. While having good beans is not always easy, having good water is.

These filters are simple to replace, durable, and, most importantly, they serve the function intended. Water is cleaner for having passed through it. This means your coffee tastes more like coffee and less like chemicals.

I double filter any water I make coffee with. First, it goes through a pitcher-style filter that I use for all water. Next, it filters through the Cuisinart Charcoal Filters.

If you have never replaced your filters, please do so. And go buy some good beans. You will notice the difference in every cup.

Order up a copy of Cuisinart DCC-RWF1 Replacement Coffeemaker Water Filters, Set of 2 by Cuisinart.

November 30, 2011

Guinness World Records - Dreams and Laughter Are Found Are Found Here (review)

Guinness World Records 2012

Dreams and laughter are built with the "Guinness World Records." I know. I grew up dreaming to be included, to have accomplished some astonishing stunt or to have achieved an incredible level of physical prowess. And I laughed at the ridiculous obsessions of some of those who made it.

I'm not in it. I tried a few times with some community events in which the most people to do certain things all at once. Inevitably, we would have far too few participants to impress the editors at "Guinness World Records." It was wonderful to try.

Now, the internet satisfies a lot of my curiosities about the bizarre things people do, but the value of this book remains: to serendipitously discover the amazing people in this world. Real people do these things, and are verified by the book's staff.

Every dentist office, auto fix-it shop, and home coffee table needs a copy of this. Readers won't mind waiting quite as much.

Order up a copy of Guinness World Records 2012.

November 26, 2011

Assists Turtle Tank Cleaners to Grab the Right Toothbrush - Band-Aids reviewed

To clean a fish-now-turtle tank, at age eight, delicate devices were required. A quick hot sponge, even with a coarse cleanser, was not enough. A toothbrush, preferably one with hard bristles, flat across, could clear all corners of the vilest of turtle vestiges. I recommend wrapping the handle of the one used on the tank with one of these bandages.

Knowing which toothbrush is for teeth, and which is for industrial-strength home cleaning is important. A smartly placed waterproof Band-Aid will keep order. Tape, if sturdy, could work, but there is not point in using anything except that which handy to any bathroom.

April is turtle season. Not for hunting, but for pet catching. Come around later, and it was clear May was tank cleaning season. All turtles were returned to their homes by then, but they left behind more than memories.

Solving the problem of toothbrushes, however, was unknown to me in these younger years. As it happened, the sale at the Ben Franklin one Saturday brought home two matched brushes in one packet, each blue.

Suited for the bathroom, in the tub, cleaning the tank took only an hour, with rinsing. Church the next morning, rushed as usual with eyes half-closed, had me searching blindly for a toothbrush, for its marketed use. I grabbed the wrong one. The taste, though remarkable, but not pleasant.

When buying like-colored toothbrushes, take measures such as the one I suggest to identify which is meant for your mouth. The taste will make all the difference.


November 21, 2011

Review: Bourbon: 50 Rousing Recipes for a Classic American Spirit - Nice Recipes for Party Hosts

Bourbon: 50 Rousing Recipes for a Classic American Spirit (50 Series)
I am not a bourbon fan, not in the way that complex recipes usually involve. I drink it watered down, on ice. I like it that way. Maybe a squirt of lemon or of orange liqueur. That said, my eyes (or taste buds) were opened. More importantly, I have now a tool for treating my guests with more than what I like.

"Bourbon: 50 Rousing Recipes for a Classic American Spirit" is a neat little book. Rousing recipes? That's misleading. After sampling a recipe (or two, or was it three?), I felt more relaxed than roused.

Of the recipes, given my general preferred simplicity of bourbon, "That Horse Race Pie" was my favorite. Apparently its twin brother is the very famous Derby Pie, but legal reasons limit their ability to say. Or maybe they were just being nice to the originators of the pie. Really, though, it is just a variation on pecan pie. In small slices, warmed, with adequate dollops of whipped cream (by adequate, I mean extraordinarily, indulgently generous), it is quite tasty. Good with a Colombian drip coffee, no sugar or cream. A French roast will do as well.

All the recipes are cleanly presented. If you put your drink on a folded napkin, on the spine, near the bottom, it holds open well enough. The introductions to each recipe are occasionally interesting, so, while not actually hosting a party, set the book in your bathroom for quick reading.

In all, if you, like myself, host frequent gatherings, and are looking to expand your library for luscious drinks (not, no lush library, but, with enough testing of the recipes, you can have that as well)... this is the way to go.


Review: Family Tree Maker 2011 Deluxe - Impressed: Easy to Use, Fun to Do

Family Tree Maker 2011 Deluxe
I am new to the digital genealogical world, and see this product through that limitation. That said, I am impressed.

What I wanted was a way to organize a massive amount of data. I tried Microsoft Excel, but it simply is not intended to do what I needed.

I have added numerous relatives. Each, as I have data, includes their spouse, parents, and children, along with dates and locations for all related events. I can add photos and various other media, like certificates and other supporting documentation.

Naturally, I have plenty of blanks yet to fill. I have yet to connect my family to either Noah or Adam, but, as I can, I add someone. The word is out among my cousins that I am in the hunt, and so things are trickling in.

I will see a fuller benefit when I hit a critical mass of ancestors. The process is slow going as I dig up the information. However, when I get there, I look forward to seeing my family's range and path mapped out over the years.

There is so much more here that I have yet to explore. A true, complete review will examine every feature, but for me, the ability to connect people in a clean, unlimited way is impressive.


November 07, 2011

Review: Smuckers Strawberry Jam - Remember the Best Days of Childhood with Strawberry Jam

Smuckers® Strawberry Jam - 200 case

Some eat jam because they are hungry. Some eat jam to forget. I eat strawberry jam to remember.

How many years has it been since I was six, and Nancy was six, and we both sat in the lunchroom nervously confused that first week of first grade?

How long has it been since I opened my brown bag in despair, seeing I had only half of a great sandwich? The half missing was the jam. I had two slices of white bread surrounding a couple swooshes of peanut butter.

What all has passed since Nancy, my neighbor from three doors down to the south, smiled (as she always would)and gave me half of her cleanly sliced PBJ?

Her grace and friendship then was not forgotten, and every year, every autumn, I find myself with some jam, a spoon and a smile, wondering if she remembers too.

Grade A, and fancy, and as tasty as any jam outside of your mom's recipe, Smucker's is my regular choice. I hope it helps remind you of good days when you were six.


September 22, 2011

Calphalon Stainless Turner review: Perfect for Scooping Chili

Calphalon Stainless TurnerSpatulas)

Thick chili wore a gentle sheen born with simmering eight hours in a stone pot. Brown with reddish undertones, the rich beans and beef and onions, and spices found in a secret part of the cabinet all combined in a melded symphony.

When game time came, and halftime hit, the chili required relief from its pot. Six men needed bowls filled. A spoon would be too slow. A stainless steel turner, retired from its earlier use flipping burgers, rested on the corner, ready for use.

No one saw the quiet silver patina, or the non-slip grip. The motion was effective, fast, and unnoticed, as it should be. The elegant understated style meant nothing, as the tool served its function. Instead, the turner scooped and bowled the chili before the second commercial began. And six men ate their fill, and then ate some more.

A swift rinse, and the stainless steel turner was delivered into the dishwasher.

May your chili always scoop quickly into your bowl.


July 05, 2011

Great for Everyday Espresso: Intelligentsia Coffee Black Cat- Regular, Whole Bean Blend (Misc.)

Great for Everyday Espresso: Intelligentsia Coffee Black Cat- Regular, Whole Bean Blend (Misc.)

This is what I drink (I usually rotate between Illy, Caribou's Sumatra and Black Cat). I first found it fresh in the Intelligentsia's Chicago Loop shop location, and now always buy it as fresh as I can. When I can, I prefer some of their single plantation beans, but the Intelligentsia Black Cat serves as nice everyday espresso.

Intelligentsia Coffee Black Cat- Regular, Whole Bean BlendSweet, a blend of several beans (Minas Gerais, Brazil and Santa Ana, El Salvador in this case), it finds an excellent balance that successfully avoids the burnt-bitter taste of other espressos.

Feel good about it being direct trade, but buy it because of the quality. Help yourself enjoy it by purchasing it with as few middlemen as possible. I often get mine at a local grocer, but it is already a week old.

Enjoy your next cup.


Intelligentsia Coffee Black Cat- Regular, Whole Bean Blend 

May 03, 2011

Cuts Construction Paper into Perfect Imperfection: review, Scotch Precision Bent Scissor, 8-Inches

The sleek matte steel finish of the Scotch Precision Bent Scissor sliced through the crisp green construction paper. That's all I wanted it do it, and now it is done.

Scotch Precision Bent Scissor, 8-Inches (1448B)The blades bit tightly on each side of the sheet. Crunching through, the edges of my project were straight and true. Sharp, yes, it is true, and magnificently so. Comfortable opening and closing the blades, the grips never slipped from my hold.

My project finished imperfectly, per my lack of skill and not the scissors' capacities: I fashioned snowflake-esque shapes as I bode my wait for a phone call. I expect these scissors to live a long life helping distract me from my impatience, and cutting more ordinary things such as coupons and queries from well-meaning politicians delivered by post.

May your scissors cut a sharp line in all your projects.


Scotch Precision Bent Scissor, 8-Inches (1448B)

April 03, 2011

Bulk Candy, Nut, Gumball Machine Double Head T Stand review: Twist, Plunk, Truth. Classic Device is Filled With Memories and Great Treats

Shining glass blockaded me from pleasure. I stood outside the tiny windowed box with my quarter, looking right and left. One quarter, one choice, and time ached for a decision. The brilliant red base held sternly the beautiful bounty above. That beauty, that delicate sweet joy awaiting me caused my heart to tingle. On the right, the tart sharpness of hard candies whistled silently. On the left, the slow smooth chew the highly coveted grape bubblegum balls mixed in with the cherry and orange winked knowingly. I knew what I wanted, and that was the purple gum, but dare I risk my hard-found money and instead receive the deplored pink flavor for my gamble?

The sun flickered off the chrome top as I considered. I sunk my quarter in the left. Twist, plunk, truth. Blueberry. Next time, I thought, will surely be grape.

A gambling man I ought never be, but this is the classic machine found across America. Solid construction, receives money easily, and returns the product quickly. May yours always deliver the best flavor, whether tart, gum or toys.


Bulk Candy, Nut, Gumball Machine Double Head T Stand 

March 24, 2011

The Same Crackers Found in Campfire S'Mores: Honey Maid Fresh Stacks, 12.2-Ounce (Pack of 6) (Grocery) review

Honey Maid Fresh Stacks, 12.2-Ounce (Pack of 6)Honey Maid Fresh Stacks, 12.2-Ounce (Pack of 6)

Lingering evenings by campfires, sitting on old stumps, fumbling through the delicious art of s'more making always involves Honey Maid honey grahams. These are those crackers.

Unlike their classic brethren, these are batched in six packs of eight crackers. Otherwise, they are the same. Future campfires can include passing out a pack to each person (I dare not say child, knowing adults love them as well).

The recipe is simple:
* Two crackers make a sandwich around a piece of milk chocolate and a marshmallow.
* Hold tightly together (but not too tight) over a fire with tongs.
* When the chocolate and marshmallow melt just enough to be squishy, eat.
* Wash down with hot chocolate.

Eight crackers are also just enough for a snack, as I am having now, accompanied by orange juice.


  Progressive International GMMC-68 Microwavable S'Mores Maker
Progressive International GMMC-68 Microwavable S'Mores Maker 

March 23, 2011

White Diamonds By Elizabeth Taylor For Women, Eau De Toilette Spray, 3.3-Ounce review: A Scent That Begins Romance

White Diamonds By Elizabeth Taylor For Women, Eau De Toilette Spray, 3.3-Ounce

Before I saw her, I wondered, and before we exchanged glances, I smiled. Her scent was familiar, classic, alluring yet set apart. Syncopated between the brusk but pleasant notes of espresso in a favorite cafe, I found her engaging me with the gentle warmth of White Diamonds.

Turning from my table, I saw her equal to my imagination. She too turned, and we shared a glance, then conversation. The poetry I had been reading paled as I learned her name, and her voice.

What more could I want from a perfume that embodies the modern and the sophisticated beauty of Elizabeth Taylor?

May your visits to cafes be as serendipitously delicious as mine. Begin by wearing White Diamonds, and be ready to say hello when a man reading Keats turns to greet you.


White Diamonds By Elizabeth Taylor For Women, Eau De Toilette Spray, 3.3-Ounce

March 08, 2011

Beautiful Picture of the Elegant Luna Moth: Male Luna Moth Photographic Poster Print by Adam Jones, 24x32 review

Male Luna Moth Photographic Poster Print by Adam Jones, 24x32She floated in like moonlight and grace. Her gown lilted in the spring breeze with angelic elegance. Alighting on rough bark, or on moist soil, her delicacy brightened and refined the coarse earth. This is her week of regal love.

GRACE KELLY 24X36 B&W POSTER PRINTHer home is oak, cherry, chestnut or sumac. It could be hickory, maple, beech or willow. But her true home, for her one week of life, is in the air. April wind is the robe this princess wears, and her kingdom is the night. A perfumed huntress, she lives only to entice a lover, then, gives life to 200 children. Flying off lonely, she lands and dies.

Here, you see her mate, the male Luna Moth. His wings are spread four and a half inches to welcome his beloved, or to wave his sorrowed good-bye.

May this brilliant poster of a male Luna Moth remind you always of the brief and excellent passion found one April evening.


Male Luna Moth Photographic Poster Print by Adam Jones, 24x32 

March 07, 2011

Speedy, Adequate Espresso: review: Nescafe Dolce Gusto for Nescafe Dolce Gusto Brewers, Espresso, 16-Count Capsules (Pack of 3)

Nescafe Dolce Gusto for Nescafe Dolce Gusto Brewers, Espresso, 16-Count Capsules (Pack of 3)I own and use regularly an espresso machine. The Nescafe Dolce Gusto machine isn't that. It is a single-cup brewer. What it is, however, is a solution when time is in the way.

My home is open, and friends know they are welcome to stop by without much notice. The beauty of this is I can enjoy the company of wonderful people. The challenge is that my time to prepare is minimal. Using a single cup system, I meet their needs, while focusing on hosting duties. Given time, I can grind beans, whip cream, and more. Without time, guests can still enjoy a better than average espresso.

The term 'espresso' is used here loosely, but accurately. Unlike some single cup systems, high pressure is used to make the espresso. Is it the same as a standard espresso machine? No. It is not that sophisticated. Still, for what is asked of this machine, the espresso flavor is very good. There is a nice crema, and the roast is medium to slightly dark. Those looking for a stronger flavor ought look elsewhere, but, for the average chain coffee house customer, this will be more than adequate.

A better solution for those looking for speed with a more authentic espresso should invest in a standard espresso machine and ESE pods. The pods are single-serve, ready-made. However, if you own the Nescafe Dolce Gusto machine, and love its convenience (great for other flavors), give these a shot. Keep them handy when friends honor your home with an unexpected visit.


Nescafe Dolce Gusto for Nescafe Dolce Gusto Brewers, Espresso, 16-Count Capsules (Pack of 3) 

Big Boss Juicer, 700W 18,000 RPM review: Better than Expected Juicer for Me, a Juicing Neophyte

With trepidation, I opened the box. My first juicer. My friends all have them and use them. This one, the Big Boss Juicer, is an entry level one compared to theirs. I cannot say I was only a little intimidated.

The directions were clear, eliminating concern number one: could I put it together. Yes.

Would it work easily? Yes. Dropping various vegetables and fruits in (different drinks), from carrots to tangerines to strawberries to apples, all worked well.

Some pulp found its way through to my glass, and I had to tilt the device to pour remaining juice.

Big Boss Juicer, 700W 18,000 RPMWould it taste good? The carrot juice was too much, but might serve well as a sweetener. The apple juice was authentic, better than the grocery store brand names. A little cinnamon might help. Leveling off the recipes of the others is a work in progress. I could see adding a shot of vodka might help some.

How does it clean? Be careful here. Sharp edges. It cleans general well, but attention need to be spent on the filter.

I am happy with the Big Boss Juicer. I am not ready to say I want the next level up, but I am enjoying experimenting with the drinks.


Big Boss Juicer, 700W 18,000 RPM

March 02, 2011

Of All the Gin Joints in All the Towns in All the World: Casablanca, As Time Goes By

As Time Goes By (from 'Casablanca')"Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine." Casablanca (movie). The line is on my mind today. I am avoiding all gin joints as a result.

As Time Goes By (from 'Casablanca')  (mp3 - $0.99)

You know the scene. Humphrey Bogart as Rick Blaine has just met Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman) after years away. She left him in Paris without notice, and he was left tormented. "As Time Goes By" was the song he remembered, and so, asked it never be played again.

I allude to the movie in two reviews:

March 01, 2011

My Blue Pen Writes Well on All Occasions: Foray® Retractable Ballpoint Pens, 1.0 mm, Medium Point, Assorted Barrel, Blue Ink, Pack Of 12 review

Foray® Retractable Ballpoint Pens, 1.0 mm, Medium Point, Assorted Barrel, Blue Ink, Pack Of 12The Foray Ballpoint Pen is just a pen. Blue ink. Retractable. 1.0 mm (standard if not thin). Just like it says. Mine is the blue one.

I carry this pen with me wherever. Where I was, where I remember, where Nancy and I met is where I think of now: in a cafe in the upstairs of a bookstore where we talked of poetry. I took notes, read her poems. The ink never failed me.

The pen is here now on my desk as I write. Still full of ink. Comfortable to hold. It never streaks or skips. It will write other things. I will remember what it once wrote.

I knew soon after we connected, when I realized we connected, heartbreak was the only end. Heartbreak starts when the end is in sight, and it was always in sight.

So I am sad because I cannot pretend, because I cannot smile and think my smile is true. It could never really be, but I smiled anyway. I was happy.

I am sad we will not have tea the way we had tea and talk about the construct of a poem. But I will still write, and likely, the Foray Ballpoint Pen will be the one I use.


Foray® Retractable Ballpoint Pens, 1.0 mm, Medium Point, Assorted Barrel, Blue Ink, Pack Of 12

February 28, 2011

Acceptable Haircut Kit for the Ordinary Person: review: Remington Products HC5550AM Professional Cord/cordless Rechargeable Haircut Kit with Turbo Boost:

Remington Products HC5550AM Professional Cord/cordless Rechargeable Haircut Kit with Turbo BoostSometimes in the flurry of writing all day, of venturing into galleries, and sipping coffee in cafes reading old magazines left by earlier customers, a haircut is skipped. In that flurry, time is spare, but trims are needed. My haircut kit arrived just in time.

Testing all the attachments would not be done. The main trimmer sufficed. The trimming I needed was behind my neck. With this, the Remington Products HC5550AM Professional Haircut Kit sufficed. It charged quickly, indicated when I could use it, and provided the grooming necessary. The device cleaned easily, though hardly was required. It felt comfortable to hold, and the two levels of speed work with the touch of a switch.

Missing on my model, but on a different model is the feature indicating how much time is left to use before charging again. The USB charger will be handy if I ever travel and have a trimming emergency, but I think it may go used as an electrical outlet will probably be nearby.

Soon, I will need the skills of a trained stylist. Today, and for a while, I can avoid this expense.

May your hair be forever in place, but when a few strands go renegade, keep them in check by trimming with a Remington Haircut Kit.


Remington Products HC5550AM Professional Cord/cordless Rechargeable Haircut Kit with Turbo Boost

February 15, 2011

Sophisticated Practicality: Cashmere Feel Camel, Black, White and Red Plaid Scarf (review)

Never have I worn a more comforting scarf. In the cool of an early November evening, just after dusk, when the breeze blows inward, flirtatiously, willing, and yet tentatively, the secure warmth of a classic plaid scarf is like a hearth-bound fire, all girded in goodness, all gentle and sure.

The plaid pattern, of course, brings a sophisticated though pleasantly masculine presence to whatever you might wear. It has an afternoon tea-like class to it, but a brisk morning practicality. Whether tossed on as an accessory on your way to see "Don Giovanni," or part of a snow-shoveling ensemble, you'll find these scarves meeting the intended need without compromise.

Cashmere Feel Camel, Black, White and Red Plaid Scarf--Brockeim

Cashmere Feel Camel, Black, White and Red Plaid Scarf

Cashmere Feel Camel, Black, White and Red Plaid Scarf