Archive of ‘Product reviews’ category

Misfit Shine- Why it’s my fitness tracker of Choice

Last December my husband asked me if I wanted to get a fitness tracker for Christmas.  I told him “No, I didn’t.”  Then, in January, I started to see the merits of having one and of course, decided I needed one.  Lucky for me I have an understanding husband and Valentine’s Day was coming up.  I started doing a little research into the different types of fitness trackers out there  and at first I thought that I wanted the fitbit.  It was by far the most popular and everyone seems to love it.

And then I heard about the Misfit Shine.  After doing some research on Mistfit and reading this review on Amazon I was convinced that the Shine was the one that I wanted.   Christmas is coming up again and  I figured that some of you might be thinking of getting a fitness tracker and I’d like to make a case for why you should consider Misfit Shine.  Please know that I paid for my Shine and I am in no way being compensated for my review.  This is 100% my unbiased opinion.

AnneOpinion

1The first thing that appealed to me about the Shine is that it doesn’t have to always be wore on your wrist.  This is what had always kept me away from fitness trackers.  I never wanted to have something that I had to have on my wrist or arm all the time.  There are times in life that you want to look dressy and not advertise that you’re tracking your activity.  The Shine can be worn 4 different places: your wrist, chest, hip or shoe.  What makes this possible is a powerful magnet in Shine. The magnet clip allows you to always be tracking your fitness and still be comfortable and discreet while doing it.  For instance, I like to wear a watch when I lift weights at the gym.  With other trackers this would mean that I have something on each wrist, but with the Misfit I can attach it to my shoe or my sports bra.  When I go to church on Sunday, there are times that I feel the Shine looks too casual so I attach it to my bra.  Many times I don’t though because it is attractive and I’ve gotten many compliments on it.

I’m amazed at how accurate it is, no matter where I put it.  The only thing that I’ve experienced that it’s not accurate with is the stair climber at the gym.  I actually emailed Misfit customer support about this one night and the next morning received an email explaining to me that the Shine can’t measure elevation change and that’s why it’s not accurate with the stair climber.  From what I’ve read, I don’t think any of the fitness trackers can tell that. (feel free to correct me if I’m wrong)

Other things that I love about the Shine:

  • It uses a watch battery so it never needs to be charged.  The batter should last 4-6 months.
  • It doubles as a watch.  I can check my progress and the time anytime simply by tapping it.
  • It syncs with My Fitness Pal.  I love this app and it was important to me that whatever tracker I got, worked with it.
  • It’s waterproof.  I like that I never have to worry about it getting wet.
  • It’s attractive and durable. I’ve worn mine nonstop and it doesn’t have a scratch on it (thanks to the aircraft grade aluminum that it’s made from.)  It still looks brand new, and with how active I am with my boys, that is a miracle.
  • There are many accessories available for it including  pendants that it will attach to so that you can wear it as a necklace and  a variety of wristbands, including leather so it really looks like a watch.
  • It’s very lightweight.  At first I was very aware that I had it on.  That was mostly the excitement of tracking my activity and sleep I think.  Now, I have to physically look to make sure I have it on.  It really feels like I’m wearing nothing.
  •  It stores the information for a long time.  I have gone a week between syncing, no problem.  Misfit says you can go 20-30 days depending on your activity level.
  • It automatically switches to sleep mode.  I understand that you have to do this manually with some other trackers.  The only con I’ve seen to this is that if I lay down in bed to watch TV, it thinks that I’ve gone to sleep.  I must be very still when I watch TV. 🙂

I also have experience with their customer support.  The first was with the stair climber question.  The second time was because my Shine was going through batteries way too fast and doing a funny blinking thing.  I emailed about it at 9:00 at night and had a reply email by 11:00 pm saying that it sounded like my Shine was defective and I could send it in for a replacement!  I was amazed at the quick and easy response.  I filled in the info in the link that they sent and they immediately sent me a new Shine, without waiting to receive mine.  Super impressed with their customer service!

The last thing that I want to show you is the new Swarovski Crystal Shine.  Isn’t it gorgeous!  I love that it comes with the fancy band and the casual one.  I have it on my list for what I’d like to get next.  They also have a violet crystal one that is solar powered, so no more worrying about charging or changing batteries ever!  It’s currently available for pre-order.

If your thinking about getting a fitness tracker sometime soon, I would suggest you give the Shine some consideration.  I’ve loved mine, which I’m sure you can tell by now. 😉

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What to try (and not try) this Fall

Here in Arizona Autumn isn’t quite what you think that it should be.  When I think of Fall I think of cool mornings, warm days and a crisp, brisk feeling in the air.  This is the time every year that I want to move.  It’s still so hot!  Every day this week will be hovering around 100 and there is no “brisk” feeling in the air.  I start eating pumpkin a little bit earlier than I probably would somewhere else (beginning of September), because I need something to physically tell me it’s Autumn!!  There are so many seasonal products out now that I decided to give some a try to help you know what you need to try and what you don’t!

AnneOpinion

M&M’s has several Fall flavors this year.  I decided to try two of them.  The first was the Candy Corn and it is getting a big thumbs down.  It was very sicky sweet and, quite frankly, it’s the first time I’ve seen my children turn down candy.  Pecan-Pie-MMsThe second one that I tried was Pecan Pie.  You know that saying “No one can eat just one,” that’s my opinion of these M&M’s.  They were so good!  I loved them and have resisted buying another bag only because I know that I will eat the whole thing and probably not share with anyone.

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My sister told me I needed to try the Archer Farms Pumpkin Cheesecake sandwich cookies that are sold at Target.  They were a good call!  I feel like they taste like they are more spice than pumpkin, so if you like fall spices (ginger, cinnamon, cloves, etc) these are a great way to get your fix of fall flavor.

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While I was at Target I noticed that they had Pumpkin flavored Noosa Yoghurt.  I’ve been wanting to try out this brand and thought this would be a good opportunity.  Unfortunately the pumpkin was a bust.  The yogurt had a flavor that reminded me a little of pineapple and didn’t work well with the pumpkin.  I tried to pass it off to Boy 2 when he got home, but after one bite he didn’t want anymore.  Boy 3 liked it and ate rest.  So, there are some out there that would like it; I just chobani pumpkinwasn’t one of them.  If you want an Amazing Pumpkin yogurt, Chobani Flips Pumpkin Harvest Crisp is my new favorite.  I want to eat it everyday and I have been know to clear out the grocery store shelf when I find them.  It is a pumpkin flavored yogurt with pie crust pieces, pecans, and glazed pumaple bacon cookiesmpkin seeds.

When I saw that Betty Crocker had a Maple Bacon cookie mix and frosting I knew this was one that I needed to try, just because it is so different.  I will say that they are good and they are different.  I like the flavors of maple and bacon together and if that’s a combo that you like too, than you will probably like them.  They weren’t the best cookies ever, but they were all gone in one night, so they definitely not bad. caramel apple cupcake I decided that I also wanted to try Pillsbury’s Caramel Apple cupcakes and frosting.  These weren’t bad, but I don’t think that I’ll ever buy them again.  The apple flavor was faint and there was a definite artificial aftertaste with both the cupcake and the frosting.

 

extra pumpkinExtra Pumpkin Spice Gum- You won’t spit it out, but you probably won’t want to chew it for a long time.  Just don’t waste your time on it.

 

 

 

 

pumpkin milanosPepperidge Farms Pumpkin Spice Milanos.  If you love Milanos (and who doesn’t) and you love pumpkin, I think I can guarantee that you will love these.  Milano light and airy cookies with a layer of creamy chocolate and a layer of creamy pumpkin sandwiched between them.  Can’t go wrong with these!

So there’s the around up of all the things that I tried.  I had some hits (Pecan Pie M&M’s) and some misses (clearing throat sound…pumpkin gum).  I loved having an excuse to try everything.  Is there something that I missed that I need to try?

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Random Thoughts and Boxed Pasta Salads

pasta-salad-reviewI was feeling a bit of frustration yesterday.  I had seen a recipe on one of my favorite blogs and I was super excited to try it.  The blogger (I love her so I’m not going to say who) had raved, multiple times about these cookies and so I, of course, needed to try making them right away.  I went and picked up the ingredients, which included a jar of almond butter ($8 and the recipe used 90% of it) and a cup of almonds, which also ran me a couple of bucks.  All told I spend at least $10 on this one batch of cookies.  The batch made 32 cookies the size of a mini muffin and while they are good, they’re not something that I’ll ever feel the need to make again.

Please tell me that I’m not the only one who gets super frustrated about things like this?  I hate wasting my time, money and energy on things that aren’t stellar.  I know that bloggers have to be continually posting to keep their audience engaged, but sometimes you wish that there was a way to have posts marked “This is so super good and I love to make it all the time” or “This was good, but not that great and I’ll never make it again, but I have to do a blog post so here it is.”

In an effort to not become a blogger that only posts because I have to put up some thing today, I have decided to only post 2 days a week, instead of three.  I want to make sure that what I put up is stuff that I actually want to recommend and not just so I can get something else up.  I hope that you’ll find that my opinion is something that you can trust and rely on.  In keeping with that, here is my opinion on the two boxed salads above.

AnneOpinion

When I was first married and “cooking for real” for the first time, I tried out some of these boxed products that I’d never had growing up.  I decided that the flavors in them were a bit too artificial for me and I felt that they always tasted like they were too high in sodium.  I’ve been married now for 18 years and so I thought that I’d give a couple of them a try and hope that, in the last almost 20 years, the taste of them had improved.

I think that they have, but only a little.  As I was preparing them I thought that the Hidden Valley one had a great bacon scent to it and I personally preferred eating it.  My boys all liked the Suddenly Salad one better and I even got my husband to take some to work one day.  That said, my spoiled family that is used to most things made from scratch, would not go near the leftovers and I had to throw the remainer out.  As an added bonus to this experience (insert sarcastic voice here), Boy 2 is now craving my Chicken Bowtie Salad and has been asking for it daily.  I’ve added it to the menu for next week and will probably not be buying either of these boxed salads again.  I did think about doctoring them up, but decided if I was going to do that, I may as well start from scratch.

Not wanting to leave you empty handed for the day, I thought I’d share the menu for an impromptu lunch that I’m having today with a friend.  It’s very last minute and so I needed to keep it simple, but at the same time I feel like one of the ways that I show others that I care is through my food and so I wanted to have a couple of special things.  )If you haven’t made the Coconut Cream yet, quit waiting!  I was reminded again today how amazing it tastes!!)

Lunch Menu

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Rescue Cream- A Mom Must!

rescue-creamA few weeks ago one of my boys bonked their forehead on a pew during church. My husband and I could tell right away that it was going to bruise, so in between meetings my hubby very quickly ran home to get our Rescue Cream. When I applied it to his bruise I received several questions from other moms about what I was using and that’s when I realized you need to about it. Why, you may be asking? Quite simply because there is nothing like it for treating bruises. I was introduced to it years ago by my Mother-in-law and it’s now something that I think every mom needs to have in her arsenal. BTW- This is in no way a sponsored review.  This is just a product I really believe in and want you to know about.

 

AnneOpinion

The way that I’ve had it explained to me is that when you hurt an area and a bruise starts to form what we see is the blood rushing to the spot of impact causing the black and blue bruises.  The Rescue Cream makes the blood not all stop at the point of impact, causing the bruise to be much lighter or in some cases, not evident at all.  This is not something that Rescue Cream claims to do, but after years of experience using it with 5 boys I can testify that it works!

rescue-cream2For treating bruises, Rescue Cream works best if applied immediately.  It will still help, if applied later, but it won’t make as big of a difference.  If I can tell that a bruise will be forming, I like to apply it 2-3 times within the first 20 minutes after the hurt occurs.  I have a picture here of Boy 5.  He was playing a game with his brothers and got his head knocked into the tile.  Within a few minutes his forehead started to swell and I could tell that he was going to have a giant goose egg and a really bad bruise.  I gently applied the Rescue Cream 3 times over the next 15 minutes and this is what it looked like the next day.  Amazing! There is still a light bruise and goose egg, but considering how bad it was going to be, this is nothing.

I also have recently discovered that people use rescue cream to stop itching from bug bites. I was really excited to try this remedy out because I’ve always had a very special relationship with mosquitos.  They love me so much!  It’s always a guarantee that if there are mosquitos around, I’m the one they go for.  Yeah me! (imagine thick sarcastic tone here) Consequently, I have personally tried it and find that it does provide temporary relief from itching and I’m very grateful to have something that I feel like really works.

If you want to give Rescue Cream a try, you can buy it here, or I have picked it up at my local Sprouts.  I think you should be able to find it at most health food grocery stores.  If you have anything else that you use Rescue Cream for, let me know!  I’d love to know what else it can do.

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Which Cornbread Mix to Buy

cornbread-muffinFor years I have been a loyal Marie Callender’s cornbread mix purchaser.  I stock up when Costco has the big bags in the fall and use them all year.  I do sometimes make cornbread from scratch (using this Corncake recipe), but most of the time I like the ease of a mix.  A few weeks ago I noticed that Famous Dave’s had come out with a cornbread mix.  We have loved eating at their restaurant for years and so I figured that I needed to try it and see if it compared to the Marie Callender’s one.  I also decided to throw a Betty Crocker mix into the taste test too, just to see if it would compare.  I had everyone in my family and some of my neighbors do a blind taste test and I was amazed to find the order that everyone picked was almost 100% unanimous.  Can you guess who the winner will be?

Cornbread-brandsAnneOpinion

famous-davesFamous Dave’s was a winner by a landside.  The only person who did not have it as their number one was my neighbor who is not a fan of sweet things.  The Famous Dave’s muffins cooked at the highest temperature which gave them a nice lightly browned edge and top.  The comment that I heard the most was that they tasted like they had honey on them.  I don’t know how they did it in a mix, but they really do taste like there is honey on them.  It was also a very moist muffin.  I would definitely recommend giving these a try.

 

marie-callendersMarie Callender’s was the middle choice for everyone.  They are still really good muffins (remember, they’ve been my go-to for years).  They cooked at the lowest temperature which resulted in a muffin with no browning at all.  They are super moist and cakelike.  Never a bad choice!

 

 

 

betty-crockerThe third place in our taste test goes to Betty Crocker.  These were still a good muffin.  They were not as sweet and were a little bit drier than the others too, but they were the top pick for one person.  If you like more of a southern style cornbread that isn’t as sweet, these might be the mix for you.  The one complaint that I had was that they all turned out looking kind of funky.  I used the same pan for all three muffin mixes and I cooked them according to the directions on the bag.  The weird shapes may have been a fluke, but since they came in third at my house, I probably won’t be buying them any time soon.

There’s the low down of our latest product comparison.  Remember, our taste tests are never sponsored by anyone, and all opinions expressed are those of AnneOpinion.

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Red Lobster vs Bisquick Cheddar Biscuits

cheddar-biscuitsI thought that it might be fun to do some brand comparisons of products that are similar.  When I do these posts they are in no way sponsored and all opinions are completely my own.  The first one that I’ve decided to do is between Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits and Bisquick Cheddar Garlic Biscuits.

This is going to start in an odd direction but I promise that I’ll get to the biscuits.  When I was a freshman in college I lived in an on campus apartment that had a kitchen.  This gave me the fun freshman dorm experience without the awful “dorm food”.  Double win in my book! During this first year on my own I tried making some new things that I had seen in commercials,  but my mom had never bought.  One of these products was Manwhich.  My mother always made sloppy joes from scratch and I thought that Manwich looked like an easy way to make them.  Open the can, heat up the filling and put it on the bun; quick and easy.  Only that’s not quite how it works.  I found out the first time that I bought a can and opened it that it contained no meat.  It had never occurred to me that the can would just contain the sauce.  If I’m going through the trouble of browning meat, is it really any more trouble to make the sauce I thought?  So grilled cheese for dinner that night, and a lesson for the future. Just as an fyi- I really like Manwich and I have used it many times over the years.

I felt like the same thing happened to me when I bought the Red Lobster biscuits.  I had to shred cheese and melt butter, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but I was expecting what you do with the Bisquick ones: add water, mix and put on pan.  End of story.  (Can you tell that I was angling for one of these to be the winner?)  I made them both, had everyone in the house do a blind taste test, and there was an almost unanimous result.  You ready?  Here it is.

AnneOpinion

The Red Lobster biscuits were a little more work, but not much.  They take a third of a cup of cheese and they need butter melted to brush on top.  They dirtied a couple more dishes (I always pay attention to that).

I could smell the garlic in the Bisquick ones when I was making the dough.   I liked that.  The garlic in the Red Lobster ones came from the garlic butter which you spread over the top ( which were was plenty of.)

I had everyone individually do a taste test and I would switch around which biscuit was one and which was two so that there wouldn’t be any bias. Every single one of my boys chose the Red Lobster biscuits over the Bisquick.  I thought that I had a run away winner until my husband tried them and chose the Bisquick.  I personally decided that I liked the Red Lobster ones better too.  I found the Bisquick ones much drier.

Cost wise the Red Lobster biscuits appear to be double the cost but they make 10 biscuits to Bisquick’s 6.  While they still are more expensive, that makes them much more comparable in price.

The bottom line:  Red Lobster had 5 votes and Bisquick had 1.  Both of them are good biscuits and both have no problem getting eaten around here.

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