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Provella Probiotic Dietary Supplement Review

provella My little girl is over a year old now and I’ve been trying to focus on taking better care of myself.  I haven’t neglected my family, by any means, but I’m trying to purposefully care about/pamper/better myself.  That’s a good thing, right?  I’ve been trying to lose weightget more sleep, drink more water, and slow down and enjoy life.  A few weeks ago I was added Provella to my diet and it has made a pretty big change.

 

Provella is a probiotic dietary supplement that was specifically designed for women.  Provella knows moms are busy and often have a lot on their plate.  They’ve combined a unique blend of beneficial bacteria that will promote feminine and digestive health and boost the immune system.  That means that it will help keep moms healthy and energetic for all the duties that come with being a mom.

 

I’ve been taking Provella for just over two weeks now.  At first I didn’t notice any difference but I stayed with it and lately it’s been pretty great.  I don’t want to get into details because that’s just not my personality but I will say that things have been working regularly lately.  No upset stomach, no reaching for a bottle to deal with the pain, it’s great.  I haven’t exactly noticed an increase in energy but remember that I have the sleep disorder hypersomnia and that could account for the lack of extra energy.

 

Provella is available over the counter so you don’t need a prescription to get started!  It’s available at retail pharmacies nationwide and is also available on drugstore.com.  PLUS, if you’re interested in getting started right away I have a coupon for you!!!  A $6 Provella coupon to be exact! Provella is designed to help promote digestive, feminine, and immune health.  What’s not to love?  For more information about Provella please watch the video below.  Oh, and men can take it too!

 

 

Disclosure: “I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Provella. I received product samples to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for participating. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.”

Sleep Number Delivery and Review

We recently got the exciting opportunity to review a M9 bed from Sleep Number.  We’ve been using it for two weeks now and are ready to report in!  You can read about my Sleep Number store experience and finding my Sleep Number here.

 

We went to the Sleep Number store to find our perfect number and then we anxiously waited for the delivery of our Sleep Number M9 bed.  The delivery was scheduled with a four hour window and the team arrived on the very early side of that.  The delivery team was top notch.  They were very professional and had the installation down to an art.  You can assemble the bed yourself and the directions look like they are very well done.  It would have taken us a lot longer to do ourselves but it is definitely doable.  The biggest problem we had was actually the removal of our old bed (which is free with the purchase of the installation fee).  This pointed out another huge advantage of a Sleep Number bed.  You can put one of any size you want in any room of your house.  With our house design you can just barely get a queen sized box mattress around the corner going up our stairway.  The Sleep Number bed comes in pieces that are assembled in the bedroom so you are only limited by the size of the room itself and not by the route through the house.  We couldn’t fit a king sized bed in our bedroom comfortably but if we wanted to give up that space we would not have been limited by the corner of the stairwell as we would be with other beds so this is something to consider when deciding on a bed and this is another unique advantage to Sleep Number.  After the setup the delivery team did a very thorough explanation of how to use the remotes and care for the bed.  They left no mess and did a great job.

 

Sleep Number Frame 2

They assembled the frame in our room.

 

Sleep Number Assembly

Then comes the cover.

 

Sleep Number Foam Assembly
Foam layer.
Sleep Number M9 Foam Walls
A cover for the foam.
Sleep Number Air Chamber Assembly
Two separate air chambers with a lot of individual air chambers inside.  Very nice!!

 

Sleep Number M9 Memory Foam

5 inches of memory foam on top!  : )  My favorite!

Sleep Number Delivery

Knowledgeable delivery men explaining all the details of assembly in case we decide to move one day.

 

 

Sleep Number in Bedroom

Here’s our new, completed Sleep Number bed!!!

 

Honeymoon Matress

Here’s a picture of our old mattress.

 

The next step was sleeping!  Our old spring mattress was 11 years old (about the life of a spring mattress) and it was what we used to call a “honeymoon bed” 🙂 because it had developed a big dip in the middle  that always brought us together.  As delightful as this forced cuddling was it also had the adverse effect of putting a tremendous amount of pressure on our back and hips.  Just like the deflated pressure map test in the store, once the springs started to give over the years there was not enough support to take off that pressure and the result was some back pain.  Neither of us had bad backs but we would still wake up aching every morning for the past few years.  Admittedly just about any bed would have been more comfortable in contrast to this but the M9 was so much better.  No back pain in the morning and less tossing and turning meant more uninterrupted sleep.  My husband usually gets really hot at night and was worried since he heard that memory foam slept hot.  He noticed no big difference in spite of the LuxFit™ foam so the temperature balancing sleep surface seems to have worked in that area.  We have both tweaked our number in the two weeks since we’ve been using it.  I dropped down from a 35 to a softer 30.  My husband tested his sleep number on his back and was a 50 but he sleeps on his side and needed a little more firmness for that so he’s now a 50.  Once you hone in on your sleep number the bed is quite comfortable.

 

Sleep Number Remote

The easy to use Sleep Number remote.

 

The memory foam element to the M9 bed is so unbelievably nice.  I had heard rumors that some memory foam will leave you hot but that hasn’t been the case for us.  The M9 includes 5 inches of CoolFit™ foam with gel technology that keeps the surface cool. It’s also suppose to make it more breathable.  We’ve had no issues with the bed feeling warm and we’re trying it out in the summer {a hot sticky NC summer!}.

 

In addition to the memory foam on the M9, you also get the exclusive Sleep Number DualAir™ technology which lets you adjust firmness on each side of the mattress. This DualAir technology element has made it possible for both my husband and I to pick our perfect of softness or firmness. We’re actually on different sides of the firmness scale so I’m glad we found the Sleep Number brand or we may have never decided on a bed.  My Sleep Number is a 30 and my husband is 50.  I was amazed at how quiet the whole thing is when adjusting itself even with people laying in it.

 

All in all, from the sales to the service to the M9 bed itself we are very impressed with the Sleep Number company.  And looking forward to the future, we’ll also note that where a traditional spring mattress lasts about 10 years, a Sleep Number bed offers a 20-year limited warranty.  This is something you should consider when you are pricing mattresses.  There are no springs to give in over time and develop the “honeymoon dip” so you’ll just have to take the initiative to cuddle on your own.  They also offer a 30-night in-home trial, on the M9 and most other models, to make sure you find it comfortable.  You’ll still have to pay for shipping and return shipping but will be reimbursed for the cost of the bed itself.

 

In summary we love our M9 from Sleep Number for many reasons:
-Individualized comfort.  We can pick our own sleep number for each side of the bed.
-We can change our sleep number as our bodies change (from aging, pregnancy, etc.).
-There are no springs to weaken over time.
-If we move we don’t have to worry about fitting it into any room of the house.
-We won’t have to buy another bed until our kids are grown.
-5 inches of LuxFit™ foam to sink into every night!
-Select Comfort is an American company that stands behind its product.

Shopping for a Better Mattress for a Better Night’s Sleep!

My family was excited with the opportunity to review a M9 bed from Sleep Number.  Like all beds from Sleep Number, the M9 is built around the Sleep Number DualAir technology that allows you to quietly adjust firmness on each side of the mattress with a wireless remote (the M9 comes with 2 wireless remotes), so you both enjoy ideal comfort.  Added to that the M9 features 5-inches of LuxFit™ foam that softly cushions pressure points and features a breathable air-flow design.  One complaint many people have with memory foam is that it “sleeps hot” but the M9 LuxFit™ foam is topped with a temperature balancing sleep surface designed to absorb excess heat that can disrupt sleep.

 

Sleep Number Store

 

Now with the technical information out of the way we’ll get on to our experience.  Any Sleep Number experience begins at the Sleep Number store.  Ours is located at our local mall so we loaded up the baby and headed out.  We were met there by the friendly manager C.J. who suggested we start off by determining our individual sleep numbers.  Sleep numbers range from 0 (deflated) to 100 (completely full of air).

 

Sleep Number Ashley

Finding my Sleep Number

 

Sleep Number Fit

The top pictures is the regular pressure of my husband’s body.
The bottom picture shows the alleviated pressure with his perfect Sleep Number.

 

The store has a special bed set up with IndividualFitSM 3-D Imaging that creates a pressure map of your body that is then displayed on a big screen at the foot of the bed. C.J. began by taking the air out of the chamber and showing us what the pressure map looked like.  At the low pressure setting we could see there was quite a bit of pressure on our hips.  C.J. then began adding air until we felt the pressure relieved from our hips and then we compared the pressure images so we could see the pressure on the hips eliminated when the chamber was inflated to our Sleep Number.

 

As a quick aside, My husband’s sleep number was 55 and mine was 30.  You can really tell a big difference between the two numbers as well!  This is probably the number one reason (for us) to choose a Sleep Number bed over another.  Two people will not typically have the same level of comfort on one firmness setting on any bed and, as C.J. pointed out, over the lifespan of a bed even an individual’s body can change substantially enough to warrant a different level of firmness to be comfortable over the years.  After finding our sleep numbers C.J. took us to the M9 and helped us pick the right pillow for the bed and for the way we sleep.

 

Sleep Number Slumber

 

I sleep on my stomach primarily so I got matched up with a thin feather pillow and my husband is a side sleeper so he was matched with a memory foam pillow.  The staff were friendly, helpful, and very knowledgeable about their products.

 

Sleep Number Baby on Pillow

She sleeps on her tummy too!

 

 

Sleep Number Family

We were comfortable and felt right at home.

 

 

Sleep Number Check Out

 

C.J., the salesman, was amazing, he really deserves a raise!  We went in not looking to buy anything {because we were provided the bed from Sleep Number} and to be honest we were kind of in a hurry because I had a cake to finish and deliver in a few hours.  He made us feel so relaxed!  We took our time, I completely forgot about the cake, he talked my husband into buying me some amazing sheets (bless him!), and we walked out of there spending almost $400 we had no intention of spending.  A good salesman makes you want to buy things and salesmen like that are rare these days.  Don’t get me wrong, I felt no pressure to buy anything at all!  He simply found products that fit my life and showed them to me.


Sleep Number Sheets

My little girl loved the sheets as much as I did!

I enjoyed my experience in the Sleep Number store and I can’t wait to review the bed in my own home!  Update: You can now read my full Sleep Number review.

ThermoWorks Miniature Needle Probe Review

This is Ashley’s husband again with yet another review from the good people at ThermoWorks. I love this company! You may recall that I have reviewed two products from them already and they remain two of my very favorite cooking tools. The first was the Thermapen, which is the incredibly fast and accurate thermometer used by food safety inspectors, television cooks, and home cooks alike. I must admit this remains my very favorite and most used product from the company. I would recommend a good, instant read digital thermometer to anyone that cooks and this one is the best of the best. {Insert from Ashley: Through Labor Day ThermoWorks is having a HUGE sale on the Thermapen!!  They’re calling it their Buddy Sale.  When you buy 2 or more Thermapens you’ll only pay $80 for each one.  Regularly $96!  Expires Labor Day 9/3/12.  Visit ThermoWorks for more information.}

 

The second product I received was the TW8060 two-channel thermocouple. This is another great product that I use quite often. If you read the review of the TW8060 two-channel thermocouple you may recall that the the TW8060 is a 2-channel thermocouple alarm thermometer that works with a large variety of K type probes sold by Thermoworks. Less technically, the TW8060 is the thermometer and display (and other functions) where you can monitor the temperatures of two different probes at once and the probes are detachable and interchangeable. Thermoworks sells hundreds of different types of probes you can choose from depending on the intended use.

 

For the original review they gave me two probes to review along with it: the crocodile clip probe which is used to monitor the temperature inside your oven, grill, or smoker; and the smokehouse probe which is a leave-in thermometer used to measure the temperature of a thick cut of meat. These probes were both wonderful and I use them often. I use the crocodile clip probe every single time I use the grill for closed lid, indirect cooking. Since my grill doesn’t have a thermostat like the oven does it’s the only way to maintain a constant temperature for low and slow cooking. I just keep the lid shut, monitor the temperature (the TW8060 has alarms to help with this) and tweak the dials on my gas grill as needed. It almost feels like cheating but some people need all the help they can get! The smokehouse probe I use somewhat less often because I usually don’t cook chunks of meat that large, but when I do it is as essential a tool as the crocodile clip probe.

 

Grilling Chicken

 

But what about when I’m grilling something smaller like chicken breasts? I tried the smokehouse probe for that a few times and it did work but the probe is really not designed for small pieces of meat like that and it leaves quite a big hole for juices to escape. This brings me to the current review. We got a new probe to review that is aptly named the “miniature needle probe”. This probe has quickly become a real favorite of mine. As the name implies this probe is quite thin (0.06” diameter!). This looks as thin as a hypodermic needle. Not only have I used this as a leave in probe for chicken breasts, I’ve even used it as a leave in probe for thin tilapia filets (going in from the side). Yes, it is that thin! If I felt like I was cheating before, using the crocodile clip to monitor the grill temperature, I really feel like I’m cheating now. Delicious, succulent cheating. With a cooking diary, grill temperature monitor, and a thin leave in meat thermometer you are pretty much guaranteeing yourself consistent results.

 

One of the surprising things about this probe is that even though it is designed to be a leave in probe, it is actually instant read as well. In fact it gives a 2 second reading (yes, that is faster than the Thermapen!). This doesn’t really replace the Thermapen, though, since the Thermapen is still much more convenient to handle and use for checking temps instantly. You could use it as an instant read if you really wanted to but it would be a bit of a bother fiddling with the wires and hooking it up to the TW8060 as opposed to just pulling the Thermapen out and flipping open the probe. They go great together though. You can leave the miniature needle probe in one piece of meat at a time and monitor the temperature of that piece to give you an idea of how your meat is cooking but then you would still want to do a quick temperature check on the other pieces with your Thermapen to make sure it’s all done and not just the one piece.

 

Grilling Steak

 

I initially wanted this probe for grilling chicken breasts slowly with indirect heat but I have found many other uses for it since then. As I have mentioned, I have used it for tilapia filets on the grill and I’ve also used it for thick ribeyes using Meathead’s reverse sear method. Just be sure to remove the miniature needle probe before you get to the searing step since it is only rated up to 482 F and the higher searing temperatures will likely damage the probe. The probe is probably not long enough (2” and 3.5” models are available) to get to the center of a pork loin or brisket, so you will still want a smokehouse probe if you plan to use the TW8060 for that, however the miniature needle probe would work great with a small ham or a roast.

 

Baking Bread

 

But the miniature needle probe isn’t limited to grilling or even to meat. Another use that I love is for bread baking. I love baking sourdough loaves and one indicator of the doneness is the bread’s internal temperature (although it is not the only indicator). To use my miniature needle bread for bread baking I first bake the bread for about 20 minutes so it can hold the thermometer without tearing and then I insert the probe into the center of the bread from the side. The hole it leaves is tiny and barely noticeable. It’s so small I have even used it to check the doneness of miniature blueberry muffins in a similar manner!

 

Another surprising use that I love is for baking potatoes. Baked potatoes are more forgiving than some foods but there is a somewhat fine margin of fluffy, moist perfection that lies between a hard, undercooked baked potato and an overcooked, dried out potato and the best way to find that margin of perfection is by the internal temperature. Ever cook a baked potato for the recommended time at the recommended temperature only to cut it open and it’s still hard in the center? Potatoes are different sizes and they won’t always cook exactly the same. The time and temperature that worked last time might not work this time. Find the internal temperature that you love and cook it until it hits that temperature and you won’t ever be surprised by the result. Then it’s just a matter of figuring out how you like the skin and modifying the oven temperature each time you bake a potato until you find one that gives you a skin that you love. The different temperatures will result in different baking times but if you are relying on the internal temperature to determine doneness you won’t have to worry about it. As with the bread I do partially bake the potato before inserting the probe because it’s easier to insert.

 

One other ideal use for this particular probe is a cooking technique called sous vide.  I just read an article on ThermoWorks’ blog about it recently and it is very interesting.  It does require some equipment in addition to the miniature needle probe:  a thermal circulator that can accurately maintain a constant temperature in water and a vacuum sealer.  We have a vacuum sealer but don’t have thermal circulator so I haven’t actually ever tried this but would like to sometime.

 

If you do a simple web search (e.g. internal temperature of baked potato) for just about any food you can find the ideal internal temperature. Use that as your starting point and then see what you like and adjust as needed. Keep track of it and with great thermometers you will have great, consistent results.

Dreyer’s/Edy’s Slow Churned Ice Cream

dreyers

 

Forgive my interruption of your summer fun, but I wanted to bring you some more summer fun! What do you think about when you think about June, July, & August?

Ice cream

 

I think about vacation.

 

At the beach.

 

At camp.

 

And heat.

 

And swimming.

 

And ice cream!

 

While I am not someone that thinks ice cream is something you should overly worry about calories and fat (it’s a treat, right?) Dreyer’s/Edy’s has amazing varieties that will suit the kiddos, the big kids at heart, and even someone trying to maintain a healthy diet. Yes, even if you are watching your waistline, there are many delicious flavors to enjoy without overindulging in a side of guilt.

 

Dreyer’s/Edy’s Slow Churned ice cream has 1/2 the fat and even 1/3 fewer calories than their regular ice cream!  It’s amazing, it really is!  I don’t have a need to buy a regular carton of ice cream again.  This is so creamy and wonderful and if it didn’t say so on the package I would never know that it was reduced fat.

 

Dreyer’s and Edy’s is the same brand.  West of the Rockies, this ice cream is marketed under the Dreyer’s brand name and east of the Rockies, it is marketed under the Edy’s brand name.

 

A Reason to Smile

 

Now, here’s what I’m really excited to tell you about!  For every smile that is uploaded on the Dreyer’s Facebook page, & Edy’s Facebook page, they will donate $5.00 to Operation Smile!  I’ve already uploaded my ice cream smile.  Ice cream makes me smile and helping great charities like, Operation Smile, does too!

 

I have even more good news.  Of the photos submitted, ten lucky smiling faces will be featured in a Dreyer’s Slow Churned print ad! Aaaand, one picture will win a spot on the cartons of a Slow Churned limited-edition flavor, which will be re-introduced to store shelves in early 2013!  How cool would that be? Haha, get it?  Ice cream is cool!  Anyway, go upload your ice cream smile now. : )

 

 

Operation Smile & Edys

 

Disclosure: “I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Dreyer’s / Edy’s. I received a coupon to purchase product samples and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.”

My #1 Grilling Secret: GrillGrates

GrillGrates

Ashley has once again got me writing a blog review and you guessed, it is once again related to grilling!  I got the opportunity to review a product that I can’t stop talking about (No really, my friends are starting to make fun of me because I keep going on about it).  The product is called GrillGrates.  I have been wanting some of these ever since reading the rave reviews from Meathead on amazingribs.com which, as you may know by now, is my go-to resource for all things grilling.  In fact, this product is the very first item in his section on got-to-have grilling accessories where he refers to them as “…the best thing for grillers since salt and pepper”.  I could really stop this review right here since Meathead’s endorsement is worth a whole lot more than mine but, as I’ve previously mentioned, I can’t stop talking about these things so I’ll continue.

GrillGrates Locking

So what exactly are GrillGrates?  GrillGrates are sturdy, interlocking, aircraft grade aluminum panels designed to go on top of your existing grates to create a new grilling surface on any grill.  As the web site describes, the Grill Grates:
1. SEAR The Raised Rails deliver superior sear marks due to more surface area contact and better heat conductivity.
2. SIZZLE The Valleys capture juices and steam and sizzle for added flavor, moisture and juiciness.
3. RADIATE The added mass and shape radiates with heat for fast, even cooking.
4. PROTECT The Bottom protects against charring flare-ups and drying heat. Fats drain off and burn on the bottom of the GrillGrate not on the outside of the food.

GrillGrates Grill

I first got to looking at these when I decided to grill hamburgers and hotdogs for guests we were having over for our daughter’s first birthday party.  Previous experiences I have had with grilling large numbers (20+) of hamburgers have resulted in a whole lot of flames from grease flare-ups, hot spots, and mixed results on the burgers themselves, ranging from edible to charred hockey pucks.  So, needless to say, I was pretty nervous about it and wanted a solution.  I found the GrillGrates and had very high hopes for them based on all the good endorsements and the reviews focusing on the very things I had always struggled with in the past.  I was sold on the protection from flare-ups alone at this particular moment of party planning.

GrillGrates No Flare-ups

So, Ashley and I got in contact with the company and they got my GrillGrates shipped out to me just in time for the birthday party.  In fact, the party was the very first time I used them.  Nothing like experimenting with a new product on 20 guests!  Now I’m about to gush about these things so before going further let me just say that, yes, I did get three GrillGrate panels to review so perhaps I could have some bias and Ashley and I always disclose that information for that reason.  However, I will also say that I purchased two more panels so I could cover my whole grill.  So, yes, when I say I would buy these, I would and I did!  OK with that out of the way…Not only was I completely pleased with how these did on the 24 greasy burgers I cooked (with zero flare-ups, mind you), but so were all the men on the deck hanging out while I grilled.  You know how men swarm around the grill at these sort of things judging your every flip.  Ordinarily this would make me self-conscious being a typical, prideful male and not wanting to look like a fool like I usually do.  But I was grilling with the confidence of a pro with these things and I think I might have picked up some customers for GrillGrates just from among the spectators.  They were very impressive in their first outing to say the least.  At one point a guest watching saw me do a quarter turn on some burgers and said “You’re just doing that to get the nice grill marks, aren’t you?”, and I sheepishly replied “Yes”.  Usually I would be happy just to get a few burgers off before they are engulfed in flames and here I was showboating, putting perfect grill marks on 24 burgers like a movie star.  It was a good day.  Oh yeah, and my daughter had her first birthday too!

GrillGrates Spatula

In the past couple weeks I have tried out my GrillGrates on a variety of other foods as well.  They were perfect on chicken breasts and delicate fish.  The grate tool that comes with the panels fits in the ridges so you can lift delicate foods up instead of scraping under them.  I challenged myself once again on the 4th of July with a cookout with a few friends and family members.  I decided to try steaks.  I had a variety of steaks that folks wanted cooked to differing levels of doneness.  I did 2 filets (one medium and one well done), 2 ribeyes cooked medium, and a New York strip cooked well done.  Again, this would have been panic time without the GrillGrates but I had some confidence built up after the birthday party success so I went for it and they once again didn’t disappoint.  I did Meathead’s reverse sear.  Previously, I would follow Meathead’s directions and get to the sear part and have flare-up issues and char my steaks in that last step.  The GrillGrates seared the meat beautifully and all the flames got blocked out by the bottom of the panels so I had tremendous heat for the sear but no flare-ups.

GrillGrates Grilling

The most recent time I used them I followed Meathead’s recommendation once again (can you tell I like this guy’s web site!) to flip the GrillGrates upside down and used the flat surface as a griddle.  I flipped 2 panels over and made bacon on them while I cooked burgers on the other ones.  No worries about losing bacon through the grates, the bacon grease didn’t flare-up, and didn’t have to dirty another dish in the kitchen in order to have bacon burgers.  It worked like a charm.
Grilled Steak

The only negative thing I ever saw said about the GrillGrates was a customer review on Amazon with regard to them being difficult to clean.  I’m not sure how this person was attempting to clean them that didn’t work but I find them to be easier to clean than any grates I’ve ever owned.  They never rust.  They clean about 90% clean just by going over them with a grill brush or some wadded up foil after heating them up a bit and they cleaned up 100% clean with a steel wool pad in some water.  They do blacken a bit after use so maybe the reviewer was confusing a blackened look with being dirty.  They will change color but this is just normal from seasoning of the aluminum that only makes them better and it’s not dirt.

GrillGrates Chicken

They come apart for cleaning very easily and go back together just as easily.  In fact, transferring them from grill to grill is as easy as lifting something up and putting it back down.  Take them with when you are using a public grill at a park or move them from your gas grill to your charcoal grill. If I ever buy a new grill, they are going straight on there.  I’m not even waiting for the grates that come with it to go bad.  I expect my GrillGrates will outlive multiple grills.

GrillGrates is an American company and the panels are manufactured right here in the United States.  The panels are 5.25” wide and the standard length is 13.75” long.  They offer 4 other lengths and also have pieces cut to cover grills that are round instead of rectangular.  While they are designed to go on top of your existing grates, they also can be custom fit to completely replace your existing grates.  I would recommend calling them first to make sure you measure correctly.  They are a friendly company and will enjoy talking with you about that or any other questions you might have (877-380-2527) and they are also very responsive to emails info@grillgrate.com.

GrillGrates Collage

When I first discovered amazingribs.com and started to learn some things from a great teacher I really rediscovered a passion for grilling.  I got excited about it anew.  I had a similar experience when I got these GrillGrates.  Even following Meathead’s tips I would still have problems with flare-ups on my gas grill every time I tried to sear something.  He had good tips and techniques and wisely suggested moving meat to a place that doesn’t have a flare-up but sometimes my whole grill would be a flare-up!  So finding these GrillGrates and finding that they worked as advertised has really got me excited about grilling once again.  These GrillGrates would be a wonderful tool for any level of griller.  Meathead has them on almost every grill he has and several awards have been won by professionals using the GrillGrates.  But these are also perfect for beginners.  They eliminate a lot of the issues that inexperienced grillers struggle with and that may have turned people off of grilling altogether.  I can’t recommend this product more confidently or enthusiastically.  They are also a wonderful, unique gift idea for anyone who grills or would like to start grilling.

Disclosure: We received a GrillGrate package to facilitate this review but that in no way influenced our opinions.

Dyson Air Multiplier Review

I was chosen to review Dyson’s Air Multiplier.  Have you seen one?  It is the most innovative, most eye-catching and most ludicrously overpriced item Dyson has released yet. And I kind of love it.

 

The Dyson Air Multiplier fan doesn’t have any blades, which means it is completely different from your standard house fan.  As with all their products it features a unique design and technology developed by Dyson.  Air is sucked into the bottom of the fan through what I’m assuming is an internal fan (I guess the fan does have fan blades you just don’t see them!) then the air is then sent out through a tiny slit around the edge of the fan ring…and that air going out pulls more air with it which ends up being around 16 times the amount of air the fan pulls in.  The technology is mind-bending and the design is modern but my favorite part is that it is kid-friendly!

 

Dyson Air Multiplier

 

It’s comforting to have a fan that I can leave in the kids room and not worry about them sticking their fingers (or who knows what) into the fan.  It’s pet-friendly too!  My little pup can sniff it all she wants and I’ll never have to be concerned about her tail getting sucked in.  Another great thing about this fan is how simple it is to clean!  I can easily dust this fan with a few swipes of the rag unlike my old fan which required unscrewing the front off and tediously cleaning each blade.  Because it’s so easy to clean it will actually get dusted and therefore it will cut down on household allergies!

 

When I received my Dyson fan in the mail I eagerly opened it and was shocked to only find two pieces.  It was a breeze to assemble {pun intended}!  It easily snapped into place and I found the controls self explanatory.  There is a on/off button, a oscillating control, and a speed control.  I liked the option to smoothly increase the speed instead of the standard low, medium, and high options.  The fan can also be angled forward or backward to shoot the air exactly where you want it to go.

 

Dyson sells two sizes of table fans, a twelve inch one and a ten inch one like I reviewed.  The ten inch one retails for $299.99.  They also sell tower fans and a pedestal fan.

 

Pros:

  • Safe for the entire family
  • Completely unique design
  • Easy to clean
  • Powerful
  • Low calming hum, not loud

Cons:

  • Costs a ton more than any fan I’ve ever owned

 

I admit it, a $300 fan is quite expensive!  Even for a wonderful fan…even a beautiful fan…even a safe fan…I’m downright humiliated for liking it, especially in this economy.  But like it, I really like it, I do.

Lilla Rose Hair Jewelry Review

I love jewelry. I love hair accessories. I love sparkly things.  What can I say, I’m a girly girl!   Have you heard of Lilla Rose?  I hadn’t either until I was approached to review one of their hair clips.  They are like jewelry pieces for your hair.

 

Lilla Rose’s most popular item is their beautiful Flexi Hair Clip.  They also sell hairbands, bobby pins, hair sticks, and O rings.

Lila Rose

I love my Flexi-Clip!

 

You can use the Flexi-Clip to style your hair at least eight different ways.  I can’t believe how many different styles and sizes of Flexi Clips are possible that even I can do. Amazing!  To help you find which size works well for your hair and your hair style of choice check out this helpful Flexi-Clip video.

Lilla Rose

Aren’t the details simply beautiful!

 

Before I had my darling little girl I had a lot of really fine hair, however, since then my hair has thinned quite a bit.  I have a medium Flexi clip and it’s perfect for a pony tail and a full twist.  Surprisingly it even held in well with the half up hairstyle pictured above.  I love how simple it is to use.  I’m embarrassingly bad at attempting any up-do besides a ponytail and this was a piece of cake.  Seriously.  It doesn’t pull my hair or feel like it’s falling out constantly like barrettes do.  It’s comfortable to wear and looks elegant.  I’m convinced that Lilla Rose products are simply fabulous and I’ll be adding additional Flexi-Clips to my wish list!

Belvita Breakfast Biscuits Review

belVita Logo

 

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, right?  If that’s true then why is it so hard to make it a priority?  It’s hard for my family to make time for breakfast because we’re night owls who like to savor each moment of sleep in the morning.  I’m pretty sure that we walk around like zombies for the first hour or more each day or at least it feels that way!

Even on the busiest morning I try to at least grab a banana or a piece of bread and spread Nutella on it.  Eating breakfast helps speed up my metabolism and eating a breakfast high in fiber helps sustain that energy.  I was pleased to have been invited to take part in a promotion from Mom Central and belVita called the Five Days of belVita Breakfast.  belVita Breakfast Biscuits are the hottest thing for today’s busy moms.  If you haven’t heard the buzz on Facebook about them yet let me give you the details!  They come in small individually wrapped packs with 4 biscuits in each package.  There are 5 packs in a box and each one regularly retail for $3.69.

belVita

These biscuits are pretty much cookies, healthy cookies.  They are ridiculously yummy!  They are crunchy, slightly sweet and go wonderfully with your morning coffee.  Not only do they taste amazing but they are a good source of fiber and vitamins.  They have a sustained energy release which comes from a combination of ingredients and the baking process which helps preserve the grain’s integrity.  These keep me fuller longer and gives my body continual energy instead of a giant spike that a sugary breakfast would.

My family absolutely loved these bars.  I wanted to take pictures of them for my review but all three boxes disappeared before I had the chance!  My husband eats them without me having to remind him and if you know how my husband hates breakfast you’ll know that that is HUGE!  I love how belVita Breakfast Biscuits are so versatile.  You can eat them with yogurt and fruit, with peanut butter and Nutella spread on top, or you could spread yummy strawberry cream cheese on top.  Yum!  My favorite way to eat them is straight out of the package.

I can’t help but think how great these must be for pregnant ladies.  I remember constantly snacking on crackers to avoid nausea and I hated they were so bland and boring.  These biscuits make great snacks for anyone.  They are the perfect size to toss in a purse or backpack for snacking on the go.

Check out belVita on Facebook.   Be sure and try all available flavors including: Blueberry, Golden Oat, and Apple Cinnamon.  I love them all but Blueberry is my favorite.  They are so sweet that you can find belVita Breakfast Biscuits in the cookie aisle.

I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of belVita Breakfast Biscuits and received belVita Breakfast product samples to facilitate my review, and a promotional item to thank me for participating.

2K Two-Channel Thermocouple With Alarm

Well, the people at ThermoWorks have done it again…they got me to write another blog post!  I have enjoyed my Thermapen so much that I was thrilled with the opportunity to review another product and the TW8060 two-channel thermocouple was another winner.

 

As I mentioned in my Thermapen review I have been reading some great grilling tips on www.amazingribs.com.  A key underlying theme of this grilling blog by Craig “Meathead” Goldwyn is the importance of a fast, reliable meat thermometer and an accurate grill/oven thermometer.  The Thermapen proved to be an exceptional meat thermometer, both incredibly fast and accurate to within less than 1 degree F.  However, as many uses as the Thermapen has, it is not meant to be used as a grill/oven thermometer or as a leave-in thermometer.  But the people at ThermoWorks have these areas covered with the TW8060.

 

The TW8060 is a 2-channel thermocouple alarm thermometer that works with a large variety of K type probes sold by ThermoWorks.  What does this mean exactly?  Well the TW8060 isn’t like the Thermapen where the probe, thermometer, and display are combined into one piece.  The TW8060 is the thermometer and display (and other functions) and the probes are detachable and interchangeable.  ThermoWorks sells hundreds of different types of probes you can choose from depending on the intended use.  You can use up to two probes at once and monitor the temperatures of each on the display.  As an example, you could use the smokehouse probe as a leave in thermometer to measure the temperature of a thick cut of meat such as a brisket or ham and then use another probe like the crocodile clip probe to measure the temperature of your grill, smoker, or oven.  Each of these probes has a thin wire that connects to the TW8060 so you can leave the door shut while monitoring the temperatures.  Right now ThermoWorks is offering a bundled deal with these two popular probes that is $30 cheaper than what you’d pay for the TW8060 and the probes separately.  Take a look at how many degrees my grill thermometer was off.  121 degrees can make a big difference when grilling!  Not only can the grill’s thermometer be off but also that it is at the top of the grill and the meat is much lower.  The thermometer probably isn’t really off by that much, it’s a combination of the location and an inferior thermometer.

 

TW0860

The TW8060 does more than just display the current temperature of the two probes connected to it.  It also will keep track of the minimum and maximum temperatures for each probe as long as they are plugged into the thermometer (even if the thermometer is powered off).  One example of the usefulness of this functionality is cold weather grilling/smoking.  You want to know the highest temperature that your meat has reached to avoid overcooking (meat does not “uncook” but a cold breeze when you open the lid to check the meat could make the temperature drop so you want to know the highest temperature that has been achieved).  Also on channel 1 (whichever probe you have in the left-most plug is channel 1) you have the capability of setting an alarm for a range of temperatures so you can be alerted when either your meat has reached its desired “doneness” or if your cooker has left the set temperature threshold and the heat needs to be adjusted.  In addition to this you also have the option of using Fahrenheit or Celsius and there is a back light that you can use when lighting is poor.TW0806 

There are hundreds of probes to choose from so there are hundreds of different uses for the TW8060.  I had the smokehouse probe and the crocodile clip probe and found several uses for just these two.  The first test for mine was a Boston Butt for some eastern Carolina style pork BBQ.  The weather was not cooperative so I used a slow cooker.  I only used the smokehouse probe since the slow cooker temperature is fairly stable and there isn’t much I could do about it anyhow.  I inserted the probe into the center of the meat, staying away from the bone, covered it, and plugged the probe into the TW8060.  I set an alarm for 180F and the alarm went off a little over 8 hours.  The leave in probe is great for monitoring the meat as it was cooking but the probe can only measure the temperature in one location so after the alarm sounded I used the Thermapen to check the temperature in other locations to make sure that it was done.  Then I shredded the  pork and splashed on some sauce and enjoyed!

 

Boston Butt

 

Next up was something you might not expect would utilize a tool like this, thick ribeyes.  I like to use Meathead’s technique for cooking thick steaks that he calls a “reverse sear”.  As the name implies, it is backward of how steaks are probably most often prepared in back yards.  Check out the link for the details and great information in general but the general gist is you start the steaks off on indirect low heat and then when it is up to 110F-115F or so (depending how done you want it) you move it over to high heat to sear at the end.  It really makes some unbelievably good steaks but it does rely on temperatures.

 

 

 

Grilling Steaks

I used my crocodile clip at the beginning to maintain the 225F grill temperature for the low and slow step.  It was pretty windy so I stayed by it the whole time and kept tweaking my dials to maintain the 225F.  The TW8060 was perfect for this!  With the exception of my flip, I was able to keep that lid shut (and the heat in!) the whole time.  I actually used the smokehouse probe in this step as well to get a rough idea of when to flip and when to move over for the sear.Steak

The smokehouse probe isn’t really the best for this as it is designed more for large cuts of meat and the width of the probe was a bit much for the ribeye probably (this isn’t a criticism, I was using a probe for something it wasn’t really intended)  but it worked just fine.

 

Searing steaks

 

I took it out for the searing but it gave me a pretty good idea of when to move through the different steps without having to open the lid.  I did check with the Thermapen to confirm these temps and used only the Thermapen during the searing stage.  I would say that both probes worked great.  I will also say Meathead knows his stuff!  Great steaks–try it!

 

Great steaks

 

I’ve been really into sourdough breads lately.  I bought some sourdough starters from www.sourdo.com and it has been a really fun hobby.  I’d recommend trying it out for some delicious breads and pizzas that use naturally fermented yeasts.  It is a bit of work though activating your culture for use and it is another area of cooking in which almost every step involves temperature.  Once again, the TW8060 came through.  The first step is to activate your yeast and the flavorings and amounts of leavening are dependent on time and temperature.

 

Yeast Proofing Box

 

I built a proofing box [pictured above] designed and described by Dr. Ed Wood in his book, Classic Sourdoughs (I’d recommend the book highly if you want to get into baking with sourdough).  The box is basically just a styrofoam cooler with a 25 watt bulb on the inside and a dimmer switch connected to it.  I added the TW8060 to this design to make it even better!  Now I can not only see the temperature inside the box without lifting it up, I can even set alarms to alert me when the temperature inside goes out of range so I don’t have to keep checking it.  It was really a helpful addition to Dr. Wood’s design.  The Thermapen was useful for checking the temperature of the water that I added to the yeast when feeding it and then the TW8060 plays another role in the actual baking, monitoring the temperature of the oven.

 

Pizza

 

The only thing I didn’t really use it for was for pizza baking.  I bake pizzas on a quarter inch thick sheet of steel to simulate the science going on in a wood fire oven (a cool tip I found from Modernist Cuisine).  I can use the TW8060 to measure the temperature in the oven but I’d really need an infrared thermometer to check the temperature of the steel sheet.  Of course, ThermoWorks sells those too!  I haven’t tried one yet but I’m loving this company and have no doubt that they work well and are of high quality.

 

The last use I had was one that certainly wasn’t planned for.  While playing around with it after I first got it for this review I noticed my oven wasn’t getting above 250F even when it was cranked up.  I thought something must be wrong with my TW8060 but after I tried to bake some rolls later that day I found that the problem was my oven!  My bake element had died on me.  I was able to fix it though and test the accuracy of my oven with the new element.  And, repaired oven or not, this is a great use for the TW8060–oven calibration.  Our oven does not have digital oven temperature control so for us it’s not really even an issue of calibration, it’s more essential since eyeballing the temperature dial is pretty hard to do very accurately.  We pretty much use it every time we use our oven.

 

All in all, I am very happy with the TW8060.  I’m also quite happy with this company.  I have called them anonymously and they have been incredibly friendly and helpful.  And they just make good, quality products.  If I had one complaint, it would be the relatively short battery life of 10 hours.  And that isn’t really a complaint that I had an issue with since I have yet to change my batteries since I got it, and I have used it a lot to test it out for this review in the past couple of weeks.  I think it would only be an issue if you were doing overnight smoking or something but for day-to-day use, it has been my experience that 10 hours is more than it sounds like.  If you were going to use it for smoking I would recommend getting some rechargeable batteries and having 2 sets to rotate in and out.  The other thing I would add to the wish list would be an alarm for both channels but at this point I’m really just getting spoiled!  I’m incredibly excited to have this and my Thermapen and I am already super pumped to use them both on my Easter ham…and bring on those holiday turkeys next season!  OK, back to Ashley again…I only write about awesome thermometers!