Friday, October 28, 2016

My thoughts on Windows 10

Windows 10

Usually, this is where I put the Product Description, but since this is a WELL known product, I don't think I need to.

I make it well known I use a Chromebook. It's simple, it works when I need it to, and it has state-of-the-art security (and one day here, I WILL be doing a review on this system).

But, for the longest time, I was a Windows Fangirl. My first Windows system was a Packard Bell desktop with Windows 95 on it. It worked enough for the school essays I had to do during my Senior year, and it was fine for Internet access through AOL.

My next system was a Gateway Select 900 desktop with Windows ME installed, and it was purchased for me through OVR for a 'college course' I was taking, and the Win95 system would NOT handle the software I needed to use. Most people had infinite amounts of trouble with Windows ME, but that system was still working WAY past the EOS (Rnd of Support) date in 2006. Truth be told, I only pulled the hard drive and tossed the tower, because it was outdated and not upgrade-able.

I then migrated to Windows XP, and stayed there until 2014, when the XP desktop I had crashed so hard, I had no choice BUT to move to Ubuntu.

I moved BACK to Windows earlier this year, when Mama Melissa got herself an Alienware gaming laptop, and I took her 'old' Dell Inspiron 5558 laptop, which runs Windows 10.

And that is when the troubles of Windows 10 began.

As I said before, I used to be an AVID graphic designer. I was self-taught for the majority of techniques I can do. One of the downfalls of going to Ubuntu was not having a program I truly enjoyed, Adobe Photoshop. Sure, there is GIMP, but it's not the same. So, when I returned to Windows 10, one of the FIRST things I did was try to install my copy of Adobe CS3 Master Collection.

and it was a bust.

Oh, sure the programs OPENED, but they weren't usable. PS wouldn't 'parse' the pictures... I didn't even BOTHER with trying to use anything else. I even tried running it in 'Compatibility Mode...' Nada.

Okay, fine, whatever. Affinity Designer for Windows was due out soon anyway; I could wait.

Well, then The Anniversary Update (Version 1607) was released, and while it installed on my Dell Inspiron laptop fine, it messed Mama Melissa's Alienware laptop to the point of where it was completely unusable; the activity light would go nuts for no reason.

Now, I get it that Windows 10 'phones home' a lot, but this was almost a constant thing. The activity light would continuously be lit, even if she was just watching a YouTube video or simply reading her email on the web. A lot of her drivers were not compatible with Version 1607, in particular one of her graphic cards... which until I googled a solution, made her favorite game, Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2, completely unplayable.

But, Mama Melissa LOVES that system, so to make it SOMEWHAT usable, we installed Linux Mint 18. It had minor bugs, but at least the system was usable. The funny thing is, Linux Mint should not have even been able to be installed.

One day, Mama Melissa decided to 'recover' the Alienware to Windows 10 using the recovery USB stick sent to us by Dell. It recovered fine, but now we are at the point of where Version 1607 REFUSES to install, even after at least 3 additional 'recoveries.' The machine is stuck in a 'download-install attempt-failure' loop.

And this is where this reviewer has her issues with Windows 10.

Seriously, it should not be this hard to install an update... Nor should it be near IMPOSSIBLE to get ANY help from the company or in this case, companies!

I first went through Dell/Alienware for a copy of the newest OS, or at least a copy of what the system shipped with (Version 1511) and they basically told me all their USB sticks have the 'Base' build (Build 10240) and any subsequent builds/updates would be available through Windows Updates.

Here's the thing; I know Version 1511 (and Version 1607) is not a different OS; it's equal to a service pack. I understand this fully. However, If I had bought a system that came with Windows 7 SP1 from the factory, I'd expect the recovery media to have the same Windows 7 SP1 on the recovery media... Not just the Original Windows 7 release and I'm on my own to download the SP1 update!

Okay, Fine... I even asked Microsoft for a USB stick of the Anniversary Update. I was told to download the ISO file and try it that way. After explaining that we have TRIED this way as well, and it did not work either, I was told the only solution to the problem was to REBUY Windows 10.

Um, Excuse me? Why should I buy another copy of something I already own? No! I shouldn't shell out MORE money for something that was included in the HEFTY price of the computer!!

Microsoft then said to 'disable your Anti-virus software prior to installation.' When I replied that we were using Windows Defender, which is built into Windows 10 by default, I was THEN told that some '3rd-party anti-virus prograns do interfere with the installation.'

Really? Windows Defender is HARDLY a '3rd-party program,' especially when it's built into the system.

We even tried a 'Remote Access' through Microsoft Help. Neither browser would allow the remote connection.

Now, I'm not saying Windows 10 isn't a nice operating system. For some people, it's perfect... especially if you are heavily tied into the Microsoft ecosystem or you use programs that are reliant on Windows 10.

But there are too many things that isn't worth it.

Why does Microsoft NEED to call home so much? That is MY system. Unless I am having a problem with it, you don't need to know what *I* am doing on *MY* system. You don't need to know what files or what programs I have on my system. This is what you have the Windows Insiders program for. They can be the guinea pigs for new features.

I don't like the idea of needing to use a 3rd-party program to control MY privacy. I should be able to go right into the settings and disable EVERYTHING I don't want Microsoft to know about my system.

I also don't like the idea of Windows 10 telling me what programs I have to use. I have NO use for Cortana. I don't need a personal assistant helping me through my computing day. If I did, I would hire one. But there is NO way to fully turn Cortana off, so she is constantly listening/watching what I am doing... and no doubt, reporting my every computing move BACK to Microsoft.

At least with my Chromebook and the various Android devices I have used, I have the option to disable 'OK Google' from the settings. You can also disable Siri on iOS/MacOS devices from the respective Settings menu... So WHY is Cortana downright IMPOSSIBLE to disable on Windows without a registry hack?

And I surely don't appreciate Windows 10 telling me WHAT programs I should uninstall. It cracks me up that Windows 10 tells me to uninstall CCleaner, a program my household has used for years on EVERY Windows system we've owned, just 'to save space.' No, more like Microsoft wants my system to get bogged down with junk files, so I either pay for their 'help' to get my system working again or buy a newer system, and they will get a cut of the purchase price. Besides, a full install of CCleaner is not going to cause 'insufficient space' on a 1 TB drive.

Why do I NEED to sign in with a Microsoft account? If I wanted to be tied into your ecosystem, I'd use MORE of your services. Just go back to the OLD way, when a local account was default. It made things SO much easier. Furthermore, This should be a better visible option on the Installation/Recovery page, not just a 'Skip this Step' link in a really tiny text, that is easily missed.

Why do the updates have to be so HUGE? Seriously, I'm wondering if my problems with Verizon this past weekend wasn't that they thought I was pirating movies and/or TV shows, with as much traffic was coming from my IP address and they capped me! An update should NOT be 4 GB+, especially if it's not an entirely new OS. Granted, Apple's newest OS, MacOS Sierra is 4.78GB in size, but this is NOT just an update, this is an entirely new OS.

If you're aiming for a 'seamless' experience, Why can't I use apps on my computers the same way I do on a mobile device? Let's take Instagram, which is one of Windows 10's newest app releases. For me, typing on a physical keyboard is 100x easier than a touch keyboard. So, why can't I upload photos from my Windows computer using the Instagram app available in the Windows Store? I can do everything the Windows Store app does right from the Instagram website!

In short, it's too big, too clunky, too intrusive and just not ready for major usage.  If you are on an older version of Windows that still has support, STAY THERE FOR AS LONG AS YOU CAN. When your Windows version reaches its EOS date, either move to a Mac product or start looking at alternative OS options. There are MANY distrubutions of Linux or even Chrome OS devices.

If you still want to try Windows 10, This is available from Microsoft Store for $119.99 for the HOME version.


Wednesday, October 26, 2016

ADMIN POST: Again with the Internet problems...

Verizon Internet issues
October 2016 edition

And we're at it again!

My speeds are being ABYSMAL... AGAIN. It's been this way for the past 5 days. It's been a LONG time since I've had weather-related connectivity issues.

I pay for the 1.1-3 Mbps tier and after the last time we had a Verizon Tech out here (I posted about this visit here), we were actually getting OVER that. For the LONGEST time, we were clocking 3.4 Mbps downstream and 0.9 Mbps Upstream, which was absolutely perfect for the three users.

But last weekend (October 21, 2016) we had a rainstorm and the speeds crashed down to 2.2 Mbps downstream and 0.6 Mbps upstream, which still would been FINE...


they continued to slow down over the course of the weekend. As of this post, My MODEM page says 1.8 Mbps Downstream and 0.4 Mbps Upstream... However, my extension says OTHERWISE...

So, where does that leave us?

Honestly, I don't know. We had a Verizon Tech out here on Tuesday (October 25, 2016) and he replaced some of the outside wiring, since he thought that might be the issue. However, That didn't fix it.

The tech NOW has to return sometime today (October 26, 2016) with another tech to try and fix it, since the first tech is stumped.

I personally DON'T think it's us. I think something happened at the remote site and we're getting the blame for it.

Whatever the case, I'm hoping to get these issues fixed SOON.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Practico Kitchen Bamboo Cutting Board and Serving Tray

Practico Kitchen Bamboo Cutting Board and Serving Tray

Stop Wasting Time Looking for the Best Cutting Board

With all the choices out there for cutting boards or chopping boards, it's hard to figure out what's good and what isn't.

You probably have had issues with cutting boards that warp, split, or break only after a few times of use.

With Pratico Kitchen's extra large cutting board, you need not worry.

Here's why you should start using Pratico Kitchen's bamboo chopping board:

★ Premium Construction and Bamboo - Professionally manufactured and made from 100% premium Moso bamboo ensures many years of use
★ Large & Lightweight - Measures 18 in x 12 in x 3/4 in and weighs 3 lbs making it easy to use, store, and transport
★ Durable & Safe on Knives - Bamboo is stronger than traditional hardwood cutting boards and is gentle on knives
★ Great for Food Safety - Bamboo is naturally anti-microbial and because it is less porous, it prevents bacteria from forming
★ No Mess - Features extra large juice and drip groove lip which keeps fruit, meat, and vegetable juices on the board and not on your countertops
★ Versatile - Reversible surfaces allows you to use a chopping block, epicurean cutting board, cheeseboard, or breadboard
★ Easy to Clean and Maintain - Wash with warm water and soap and air dry. Periodically rub with mineral oil to prolong life
★ Lifetime No-Hassle Warranty - If anything happens to your cutting board, let us know and we will replace it
What are you waiting for?

Add the Pratico Kitchen Cutting Board to your cart now and start enjoying the benefits of bamboo today!
I really like this board. It's lightweight and easy to lift and handle, but sturdy enough that I wasn't concerned with it breaking easily. I found the tray grooves a great addition to the board, because any juices from the foods ran right into the grooves and away from the food itself.

^^What I received^^

The board itself was VERY easy to wash, and I haven't seen any sort of 'staining' as of yet, unlike my plastic cutting boards, which are very stained and WILL NOT come clean, no matter what I use on it.

I have not used this as a serving tray yet, but it seems elegant enough not to look out-of-place or trashy. It also seems sturdy enough for this purpose.

I really can't see disabled people having any problems actually using this. It's very lightweight, so it won't be a chore to lift or move. The most difficult thing disabled people will have trouble with is the outer plastic wrapping. It can be a bit difficult to remove.

This is available from Amazon for $22.99.

One of the better cutting boards I've used.  Good quality and solidly built, but still lightweight

**As per FTC guidelines, I received this product in exchange for an honest review. Only compensation I received is the product(s) mentioned above. All opinions are my own and your usage/results may vary.**

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Love With Food September 2016 GF Box

Love with Food
September 2016 box

What is Love With Food?
Love With Food helps you discover new organic or all-natural snacks delivered to your door every month. Our subscription membership starts as low as $10/month. Every month, Love With Food members will receive a curated box of unique, hard-to-find tasty snacks which varies based on seasonal themes.

For every box sold, we donate a meal to several food banks such as the Feeding America Network and Share Our Strength - No Kid Hungry. Join us to help end child hunger one meal at a time!

Say goodbye to boring grocery selections and start discovering your Love With Food experience!
October's box is supposed to be here with today's mail, so after the past week of dealing with computer issues (bouncing back and forth between my Chromebook and Linux Mint 18) I figured, 'Well, I better get on the ball and get this posted!'

September’s theme is ‘Love is Learning.’ We never stop learning, no matter how old we are - whether it’s learning a new language, learning about a new culture, or just learning a new skill. But let’s face it, learning can be a hungry business! This month’s box is packed full of snacks that are perfect for enjoying while broadening all your horizons. So go ahead - share your knowledge and share your snacks!

Again, this month’s box didn’t come with an information sheet, like the other Love with Food boxes usually come with. It just had a card with the paragraph above and a few other tidbits that really didn’t have anything to do with the snacks. While it saves ME time from not having to type the info, it makes it a bit hard to disclose all the dietary guidelines. Apparently, this is their new method, so I will try my best to provide what diets can have the snacks.
*It would be safe to assume these snacks are gluten-free only unless otherwise noted..

^^what I received^^

FROM THE CAN: Fresh flavor that has other lemons feeling pretty sour. But they’re just jealous.
If we had to describe Sulawesi Limon in one word, we’d say delicious, exciting and cool. We know that’s three words, but with a flavor this fantastic, it’s impossible to choose just one word. We tried.

So, I goofed up and didn’t drink this cold, like the info card said to do.
That being said, I actually liked this, which surprised me because I usually don’t like low-sugar drinks (Propel Water excluded) and this has 1g of actual sugar, but 10g of Erythritol. So, it still tasted sweet to me. It reminded me a LOT of carbonated tart lemonade. Mama Melissa did NOT like this, which surprised me since she normally likes these types of drinks.
TASTE: 8/10
PERFECT FOR THESE TYPES OF DIETS: Gluten Free, Low Glycemic, Non-GMO, Kosher, Vegan, Soy Free

FROM THE POUCH: About HAPPYFAMILY: We are moms, nutritionists, and pediatricians who come up with tasty recipes using organic nutrition and yummy ingredients. Our mission is to provide you with the absolute best for your little ones.

Okay, so this is essentially baby food. Why they’d send this in a box aimed typically for adults is beyond me, but I have ‘ate’ my good share of Kabrita goat milk yogurt pouches, which are aimed more at kids than adults.
I was kind of worried about tasting the chia, since another item I had contained chia and I absolutely HATED it… but this tasted like pears, with no real taste of other ingredients.
TASTE: 8/10
PERFECT FOR THESE TYPES OF DIETS: Gluten Free, Organic, Soy Free, Wheat Free, Dairy Free, Non-GMO

FROM THE BAG: Simple Mills enriches lives and bodies through simple, delicious, real food. We strive to make healthful choices easy by offering food that tastes great in the moment and nourishes your body in the long-term. We believe in clean, nutritious food for a better life -- it’s that simple.

I was expecting more of an almond flavor to these, but all I tasted was onion, garlic and sea salt. I really didn’t even taste anything with the cracker; the other spices complete overpowered the taste.
The only MAJOR problem I had with these was the size of the bag. It was very small, and had MAYBE 15 pieces, 10 of which were just broken pieces of cracker. I would have liked a bigger bag of these.
TASTE: 8/10
PERFECT FOR THESE TYPES OF DIETS: Gluten Free, Organic, Soy Free, Wheat Free, Dairy Free, Non-GMO

The soft and delicious Black Forest Organic Gummies are made with colors from natural sources. They’re also fat free and come in a variety of great fruity flavors.

Gummies are one of my favorite candies. I seem to recall eating the gummy worms by this company as a child and loved them.
I would have liked more cherry flavor in these, but they were one of my faves in this month’s box.
TASTE: 9.5/10

Take a Mounds bar and strip the chocolate from it; you now have this bar.
This was very similar to the Banderitas Coconut bar I reviewed here, just without the food coloring. It was also very crumbly. I was making a mess eating this.
TASTE: 8/10

FROM THE PACKAGE: Sesame Energy Bar with Orange & Honey
Did you know sesame seeds and Greek honey are among the best natural sources of energy? Packed with fiber, vitamins and minerals, these Mediterranean favorites have been boosting performance since ancient times. We added pistachios from Aegina Island to bring you a nutrition bar bursting with flavor. Just a little taste of the Mediterranean Diet’s infinite wisdom -- made to enjoy on the go.
Good Health. It’s in our nature.

I reviewed another flavor here, That one being the Pistachio and Honey flavor.
This flavor did not disappoint either. I loved the little bits of orange peel IN the bar. This was completely soft on the teeth, almost to the point of crumbling in my mouth.
Out of the two flavors I’ve tried, this is my favorite.
TASTE: 9/10

That’s the sound of Bakery on Main’s Crunch Crusader taking on your taste buds. Fighting the snack attack is easy with the POWer of audaciously premium whole grains and bakeshop delicious flavors such as Dark Chocolate Sea Salt with Chia and Coconut Cacao

These tasted like a mix between Cocoa Krispies and Cocoa Puffs. They had a nice taste to them, but they were extremely hard on my teeth and hurt when they would hit my oral issues.
TASTE: 7/10

I seriously can’t find much info about these flavors. They seem to be discontinued, which makes me more than a little rattled to even try them. If/When I do, I’ll update this.

FROM THE PACKAGE: Spirulina is one of the hardest working superfoods in the world, packed with 18 amino acids, as well as loads as vitamins and minerals. True, it may look like it’s only for health nuts, but this bar is delicious with a capital “D” -- made from coconut, banana, dates and sprouted sesame seeds, which are heart healthy, high in fiber and support skin, hair and bone health.
Get healthy and Go Raw!

I’m completely unsure how to begin describing this… Nasty would be a start though.
When I opened the wrapper, I was actually expecting a sweet, fruity smell, considering this has three different fruits in it. It smelled like banana with the ‘green fuzzy mold’ stench… kind of earthy and musky.
After doing research and realizing that Spirulina is basically ALGAE that is safe for human consumption, I had MAJOR reservations about eating this. I don’t care if it’s ‘safe for human consumption’ or not, I’m LEERY of eating algae!
But, for review purposes only, I broke a corner off and ate it. To me, all I was tasting was the banana and the coconut. That was the saving grace of it, but not enough of one to make me want to eat ALL of it. I threw the remainder of this in the trash. It also was very crunchy and hard to chew.
TASTE: 5/10
PERFECT FOR THESE TYPES OF DIETS: Gluten Free, Non-GMO, Vegan, Nut-Free, Organic

FROM THE BAGS: If you’re ready for a unique experience, then let Cosmos Creations take you there. Every bag begins with pure, non-GMO corn, baked in the oven for a taste that’s out-of-this-world. Every bite is an explosion of flavor and a mouthful of happiness.

I received three snack-sized bags; Caramel Apple, Coconut Crunch and Salted Caramel.

I was actually amazed at how well you could taste the apple on these. The caramel tasted more like a brown sugary syrup flavor, but still yummy. I was a bit surprised at how crunchy these were.
TASTE: 9/10

This reminded me of the toasted coconut macaroon cookies I buy from Dollar General sometimes. I really liked the crunch on these. I noticed the sweetness level was less than the macaroon cookies. My favorite of the three.
TASTE: 9.5/10

This reminded me of caramel corn or Cracker Jack without the peanuts… or the ability to break my teeth. If you like caramel corn, but don’t eat it because it gets in your teeth, you’ll love these! It also not as sticky as caramel corn or Cracker Jack.
TASTE: 9/10

I had every intention of trying this. However, I peeled back the foil ‘wrapper’ and saw the unblended peanut oil on the top. This would normally have not bothered me, BUT… I was unable to mix the oil in with the plastic spoon I had on hand. Instead of going and getting another utensil, I just put the lid back on and trashed it. I was too sick with a late summer cold at that point, and the container was way too small for me to try to mix the oil in.

I really don't see disabled people having a problem eating these snacks, barring any chewing/swallowing issues. The hardest thing I see would be opening the box and the individual packages.

The Love With Food Gluten-Free box has merged with Taste Guru. Please visit this link for more info.

Still loving the variety in this month's box. I like how I got lots of snacks that are good for me.

**As per FTC guidelines, I received this product in exchange for an honest review. Only compensation I received is the product(s) mentioned above. All opinions are my own and your usage/results may vary.**

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Discover Our America May 2016 box

Discover Our America May 2016 box
May 2016 box

What is Discover Our America?
Discover Our America is a subscription box that empowers people to celebrate each state’s uniqueness. Each month, Discover Our America carefully curates 5-7 products from each state for you to enjoy. Every month, you’ll receive a new state-themed box.
What’s inside each Discover Our America box?
Food and goodies that represent that state well. We also include a photography-filled, printed overview of the state, highlighting its unique history, geography, culture and places to see.
Who is behind Discover Our America?
We’re a group of U.S.-travel-loving Americans who sought a way to discover more about each state when travel wasn’t possible. That’s why we’re bringing the states right to the door.
Not just another subscription box
Discover Our America was founded to empower people to spark conversation and interest in discovering more about each state. Discover Our America brings families together, promotes education, fosters tourism and supports local businesses.

Subscriptions are $39.95 with free shipping. You can also gift Discover Our America boxes in 6, 9 or 12 month options.
Single boxes are also available for purchase at $39.95 per box; however, these ‘Single purchase’ boxes DO NOT have free shipping.
As you can tell, I'm WAY behind, as this was the May 2016 box... I'm SLOWLY pushing myself to get caught up! (Moving to Linux Mint was one of the best decisions I made!!)

May’s ‘State of the Month’ was Georgia. Discover Our America included a book with facts about Georgia. Here are some of the facts.

If anyone ever claims Georgia to be anti-Yankee, then correct them by stating that Georgia is opposite-Yankee. Life in the Peach State moves at its own pace. Residents are rarely found to be in a hurry and are never short on manners. But don’t mistake Georgia as simply a supersized, quaint southern town. Georgia is diverse in culture and uniqueness.
POPULATION: Just over 10 million
TOTAL SIZE: 59,425 square miles

~”The City of Savannah,” the first steamship to cross the Atlantic Ocean, left from Georgia
~The Vidalia onion can only be grown around the fields of Vidalia and Glenville
~There were five cities prior to Atlanta that were the official capital of Georgia
~Georgia is the largest state east of the Mississippi River
~The Nation’s first gold rush did not happen out west, rather, in the now ghost town of Auraria, Georgia
~Atlanta was originally named Terminus and Marthasville
~There are more than 55 streets named “Peachtree” in Atlanta
~Georgia was the first state to allow 18-year-olds to vote
~Georgia license plates are easily identifiable with two peaches featured

-Martin Luther King Jr National Historic Site
-World of Coca-Cola
-Stone Monument Park
-Jekyll Island
-Georgia’s Back Roads

One of my BFFs when I first moved to PA now lives in Georgia, so I was excited to get this box!

^^What I received^^

Let’s take a look at the Georgian products in the box...

The path to making Grits Bits had many twists and turns for Diane Pfeifer. Before starting her company, she was a pharmaceutical chemist, a back-up singer for Tammy Wynette, a country music songwriter and a lead guitarist in an all-female rock band - just to name a few. She invented Grits Bits - cheese snack biscuits and cookies baked with grits, joining two Southern favorites, Vidalia onions and grits into one crunchy biscuit.
HOW TO ENJOY BEST: Cheesy and savory Vidalia Onion Grits Bits are best enjoyed as an afternoon snack on your own or shared with your entire family, if they last that long!

FROM THE BACK: Kiss My Grits!
We’ve wedded two southern favorites: sweet Vidalia onions and cheese grits, and baked them into crispy biscuits. Bite-Sized and Ready to Eat!
Southerners and Yankees can finally agree on something -- GRITS BITS are GREAT!

Now, I have NEVER had grits before, which is saying a LOT, since my father was born in Alabama. So, I had NO idea what to expect.
These reminded me of Cheez-it crackers, to be honest. Very soft on the teeth. I really enjoyed these.
TASTE: 10/10

Founded by farmers in 1988, Blackberry Patch harvests local Georgia fruits and uses time-honored Southern techniques to make jams, jellies and syrups. Combining Georgia’s staple peach and the popular dessert of peach cobbler into one jam, the Blackberry Patch stays true to its company goals since the day they were established: to make handmade, small batch and high-quality goods using all-natural, real fruits and family recipes.
HOW TO ENJOY BEST: Although we couldn’t provide the actual dessert, this jam is the next best thing. Picture yourself in the sunshine of the beautiful state of Georgia as you add this delicious jam to a piece of toast or scone.

I've grown to love peach flavored things... my go-to flavor of commercial iced tea is Peach. So it was a no-brainer that this was going to be my favorite item in the box. I love putting this on rye toast in the morning. It also spreads onto the toast very easily, even straight out of the refrigerator.
TASTE: 10/10

Scott Galt has a passion for barbecue cooking and barbecue sauces. At age 16, his parents gifted him a grill that ignited his lifelong passion. Scott tried all of the commercial barbecue sauces for his grilling, but none were good enough. After nearly 10 years of trial-and-error cooking, his "homemade ketchup" was made with a secret blend of 17 eastern and western spices and the fresh zing of lime. Georgia's Sauce is all natural and free of preservatives and fillers.
HOW TO ENJOY BEST: Just how Scott would prefer it, Enjoy Georgia's Sauce on chicken, steak, pork and other popular dishes for a unique taste of Georgia.

This was too 'thin' for me. When I think of barbecue sauce, I think of a thick, rich sauce that has a bit of a 'ketchup texture' to it. This was very runny. I think even A1 Steak Sauce has a thicker consistency to it.
That being said, it tasted okay. I used it on the burger I had at our Father's Day cookout and I did like the taste. However, I don't know what it is about sauces/condiments with vinegar in them, but they always taste rancid or spoiling, and this was no exception. I'll use this up when we have beef for dinner, but I probably wouldn't buy this myself.
TASTE: 6/10

Southern Breeze Sweet Tea is sweet tea inspired by the South itself. It is a bottomless glass of hospitality and refreshment made with real tea leaves in a bag that you hot-waterbrew, steep and chill. The sweetener is already in the bag. At zero calories, you can enjoy it with thirsty abandon.
HOW TO ENJOY BEST: Serve a batch of original sweet tea to quench the thirst.  Your family, and taste buds, will thank you.

I did a review of this tea at this link. I can't really say any more than I already have.

Georgia Grinders Premium Nut Butters was launched in 2012 based on a recipe for almond butter (NaturAlmond) created by Jaime Foster's grandfather in 1970 as part of an initiative to combat his genetic disposition to cardiovascular disease. In 2014, NaturAlmond expanded its offerings to include Georgia Grinders Peanut Butter. The peanut butter is made with only two simple ingredients: peanuts and sea salt. The company sources Georgia-grown peanuts and then slow roasts and grinds them to their signature texture.
HOW TO ENJOY BEST: Thinking about making a batch of cookies soon? Consider adding a cup of Georgia Grinders Peanut Butter to your recipe for a healthier alternative. A tablespoon also makes a great addition of protein and flavor to smoothies.

What I love about this peanut butter is the fact that even though it's considered 'Natural,' it doesn't separate like most 'natural' peanut butters do, even the commercially available ones (Grandma bought a jar of Smucker's All-Natural Peanut Butter for Grandpa and even that likes to separate)
This was VERY easy to spread on toast, and it isn't runny. I really couldn't tell a difference in texture between this and other commercially available brands. However, I did taste the peanuts more in this.
TASTE: 9/10

Only problem I see disabled people having with the box (minus any food allergies) is opening the packages. There were outer safety wrappers on all but the Grits Bits, but they were in a bag inside an outer box. There was nothing needing to be cooked/prepared in the box, so there are no worries of injuries from the oven/stove.

This is available from for $39.99 per box.

I actually enjoyed this subscription box. The price is a little steep for my personal budget, but it's well worth the cost for someone who loves trying different foods from around the country.

**As per FTC guidelines, I received this product in exchange for an honest review. Only compensation I received is the product(s) mentioned above. All opinions are my own and your usage/results may vary.**

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Carolina Cookie Company Sugar Free cookies

Carolina Cookie Company
Sugar Free cookies

Carolina Cookie Company is proud to produce the South's finest homemade premium gourmet cookies just for you. Baked fresh and shipped the same day, our gourmet cookies delivery goes right to you or your recipient in one of our gift boxes, tins, baskets, towers or gift sets. Tastefully packaged for any occasion, they are sure to bring a smile. Our recipes are perfected by a Master Baker and incorporate fresh ingredients that define old-fashioned goodness. Our Cookie of the Month Club is a popular gift that keeps on giving—a dozen or two of our gourmet cookies each month. What a sweet treat! Please take a few moments to browse our entire selection of fresh-baked cookies and buy gourmet cookies from Carolina Cookie Company today!
Recently, Mama Melissa has been diagnosed with Pre-Diabetes. She's managing it with diet and medication, and she's been doing pretty well with it. However, she misses her sweets.

So, I set out to find some sweets Mama Melissa could have without raising her sugar levels... and I found the sugar free cookies from Carolina Cookie Company.

For this review, We were sent the Sugar Free Gold Cookie Gift Box.

^^The unopened box^^

The cookies arrived in a gold box, with a ribbon tied in a bow. I liked that little detail, since it made the package actually like a gift.

^^(L to R) Peanut Butter, Oatmeal & Chunky Chocolate^^

​Sugar Free Gold Cookie Gift Boxes
These elegant gold gift boxes are filled with our soft and chewy, sugar free cookies.

Our sugar free cookies are truly different, with great taste baked into every single bite. And Carolina Cookie offers three great sugar free flavors everyone loves: Classic Chunky Chocolate, yummy Peanut Butter, and Oatmeal. Perfect for anyone who is on a sugar-free or special diabetic diet, our sugar free cookies are sinfully delicious but without the sugar. When you buy gourmet cookies from Carolina Cookie Company you know they are fresh baked. Please be advised that our sugar-free cookies are not a reduced calorie cookie. They are intended for consumption by diabetics.

This was our favorite of the 3 varieties we received. Very soft and crumbled easily in the hand. It reminded us of a Chewy Chips Ahoy! cookie. The only hard bits in the cookie were the chocolate chips themselves. But I noticed sometimes when using sugar-free baking chips, they don’t melt down the best. These also left a bit of a funky aftertaste… then again, most sugar-free chocolate does.
TASTE: 9/10

Nice peanut butter flavor to this. Not overpowering, but not underwhelming either. The little bits of peanuts (or were they peanut butter chips?) were a really nice surprise.
TASTE: 8.5/10

These were the least favorite of the 3 varieties we received. Mama Melissa doesn’t like any type of oatmeal to begin with, and to me, the cookie was dry. It had a grainy texture to it, and didn’t really taste like oatmeal. I would have liked more of an oatmeal flavor in these.
TASTE: 6/10

What we really liked about these cookies were the fact that they really didn’t taste sugar-free. They reminded me a LOT of the Archway brand or the Grandma’s brand of cookies, where you KNOW they are store-bought, but they don’t taste it.

The only problem I see disabled folks having with these cookies is the inner bag they ship it. If you have trouble using sharp objects (scissors, a knife, etc) to open bags, you may need help with this. The bow may also be an issue, but it is just tied in a normal bow, so it can be untied with a pull.

As with all diabetic sweets, excessive consumption could lead to diarrhea/stomach issues. Please keep this in mind if you need help with toileting.

This is available from the Carolina Cookie website. Prices may vary.

Delicious cookies that don't spike blood sugar numbers. A complete win for diabetics or people just watching their sugar intake.

**As per FTC guidelines, I received this product in exchange for an honest review. Only compensation I received is the product(s) mentioned above. All opinions are my own and your usage/results may vary.*

Monday, October 3, 2016

OrangeGlad Dessert Subscription Box July 2016

OrangeGlad Dessert Subscription Box
July 2016

[ Passion. Craftsmanship. Dedication. ]

Through working with numerous talented confectioners, we find that the story of an artisan usually involves a firing passion for epicurean creation, a secret recipe, and an unforgiving dedication in delivering high quality treats.

The journey typically begins at a Sunday farmers markets, where artisans from around the country enthusiastically showcase their handcrafted treats. Whether they’re makers who are participating at their first farmer’s market or someone who has built a successful brand with what started out as a small-batch operation, these sweet makers rely heavily on getting their products directly in the hands of those who would appreciate them-- sweet-lovers from around the country!
Believe it or not, I'm REALLY not one for sweets in general. I'm VERY fussy when it comes to the sweets I enjoy. I enjoy coconut candies, cookies and sweet drinks. It's easy for me to walk past the candy aisles in stores. (The chips aisle? Well, That's a whole different story...) I'm not really one for chocolate either... unless it's on an Almond Joy bar.

But I was excited when OrangeGlad offered me a box for review. I had heard LOTS of good things about their boxes, so I couldn't wait to try the goodies!

^^What I received^^

Let's take a look at the yummies inside!

Unique, sophisticated sweets brimming with fresh flavors that taste of real, luscious fruit picked straight from the garden. You’ve certainly never tasted anything like these candies. Carefully crafted from all natural ingredients, the candies feature sophisticated dual flavors of tart California pomegranate with sweet freestone nectarine. No additives, no artificial flavors or colors. Just pure fresh, delicious satisfaction

USDA Certified organic | Kosher certified hard candy | Non-GMO | gluten free | casein free | nut and soy free | No artificial dyes or artificial flavoring | All at just 12 calories each

These were okay. I couldn't really taste the pomegranate in these, just the nectarine. I'm not one for hard candies. I only 'eat' them when I have a sore/dry throat and I'm trying to soothe it. Not entirely sure I'd buy these myself.
TASTE: 7/10

Inspired by the classic candies, marshmallows and chocolates curated by The Candy Store, these were designed in collaboration with OrangeGlad and local pastry chefs. Crisp chocolate and graham cookies are topped with a fudgy layer of burnt marshmallow. Enjoy as-is or try dipping in coffee, milk or hot chocolate for a unique take on a classic summer treat.

I can honestly say I’ve never made/eaten a s’more in my life. I’ve had s’more-flavored things, like cocoa and cereal, but to actually make and eat a traditional s’more… nopel
Before this, I don’t think I’ve ever had biscotti either.
If I were to based my like of biscotti on this, I’d pass. I just didn’t like it. Maybe it was the flavor I got, but it was just WAY too chocolatey for me. The only thing I liked was the marshmallows on top.
TASTE: 6/10

The subtle floral bouquet of lavender blends delicately with sweet honey to form a sophisticated and fragrant shortbread cookie

As you can see by the video above, I thought these were going to be disgusting, but they actually were pretty good. I really couldn’t taste lavender in the cookies… then again, I don’t make it a habit of eating lavender petals. *giggle*
I tasted the honey heavily in this. I really liked these cookies. A bit crumbly, but then most shortbread cookies are.
TASTE: 9.5/10

A decadent and rich chocolate brownie is flavored with espresso and drizzled with freshly made dulce de leche.

These were REALLY rich. I'm actually not one for brownies overall, because they have too much of a cake texture, and I RARELY eat cake, unless it's a no-bake cheesecake.
However, these weren't very cake-like at all. Very soft and chewy. I couldn't taste too much of the espresso in this, and because I don't like strong 'road tar' coffee, this was a major plus.
TASTE: 9/10

Made with The Cravory’s in-house salted caramel, infused with vanilla chips, and finished with sea salt sprinkles, this soft and moist cookie was truly crafted in cookie heaven! Your mouth probably is screaming for milk without even tasting it, so we recommend a tall, chilled glass of it along side.

Wow. I usually like sweet things, but this was just too much, even for me.
When I first opened the bag, my nostrils filled with the scent of well-melted caramel, almost to the point of smelling BURNT.
The cookie was very soft and chewy. I liked it, but I wish I could have tasted more of the vanilla chips.
TASTE: 8/10

This is available from OrangeGlad's CrateJoy page for $25.00.


**As per FTC guidelines, I received this product in exchange for an honest review. Only compensation I received is the product(s) mentioned above. All opinions are my own and your usage/results may vary.**

Friday, September 23, 2016

Balmshot Lip Balm

Balmshot Lip Balm

Wayne S. Forrey, the company's founder and product inventor, contracted lip cancer in 1983 due to his outdoor lifestyle and frequent sunburned lips. After successful lip reconstruction surgery, he began using lip balm everyday to protect and moisturize his lips. Wayne became dissatisfied with industry standard lip balm dispensers because the knurled disk base would twist and rotate in his pants pockets...thereby mashing the balm into the cap...making a gooey mess. Many people told Wayne they experienced the exact same gooey mess. To solve this problem, Wayne went to his garage and invented a much better lip balm dispenser system including a firmer twist base and tighter fitting cap. BALMSHOT was the result of this innovative effort, and a new Idaho company was born in 2010.
Chapped lips are usually not a problem for me. I have poor saliva control, so I'm usually dealing with wet lips and sore, chafed chin skin, where it's inflamed because of 'sitting' in wetness for long periods.

However, there ARE times where my lips DO get dry and uncomfortable. But normal lip balm doesn't really work for me. It usually washes right off. Enter BalmShot, which is made with beeswax, so it has better staying power than petroleum jelly-based balms.

I received a box full of 3 different flavors of BalmShot; Classic, Cool Mint and Vanilla Mint. Let's take a look at them.

^^what I received^^

I gave this to Mama Melissa when she had a cold and her lips were cracking. Since she is diabetic (well, TECHNICALLY Pre-Diabetic, but let’s not split hairs here), I wasn’t 100% sure if the other two flavors had any sugar content in them, and I wasn’t about to raise her numbers over lip balm.
She instantly fell in LOVE with it. She said the dial turned easily, the balm was NOT goopy or slimy, and it applied very smoothly to her lips. She also said she felt instant relief from the burning her lips were experiencing.

I was a bit disappointed in this flavor. It didn’t seem as heavy on the mint flavor as I would have liked it to be, considering it was a strictly mint flavored lip balm. The smell reminded me of a mint teabag. It tingled my lips more than the Vanilla Mint flavor, but I thought it fell flat when it came to the mint smell/taste.

This was interesting… when opening and applying, it smelled like a York Peppermint patty. I really didn’t smell too much vanilla scent, nor did I really taste it either.
The actual lip balm went on smooth and silky, and I did experience some tingling because of the peppermint oil in the balm.

I had some difficulty getting the caps off, but I did like that I had more ‘real estate’ to work with. The grooves in the caps also made gripping them easier when pulling them open.

The thing that I see disabled people having the most trouble with is twisting the base. The two I personally tested worked harder than traditional lip balm bases. I know this is a feature of the tube, but depending on how affected their arms/hands are, it will be very difficult for disabled people to use this.

This is available from Amazon for $15.97 or you can find a local retailer by clicking on Find your local Retailer.

Finally, a lip balm without the goop and mess! Can't beat that!

**As per FTC guidelines, I received this product in exchange for an honest review. Only compensation I received is the product(s) mentioned above. All opinions are my own and your usage/results may vary.**