Product Review – Paws and Claws Multi-Cat Scoopable Cat Litter

I have three cats. They’re sweet and loving. They are cuddlers who want lots of attention. And, they need cleaning up after… in particular, I’m talking about the litter box.

I’ve been using Scoop-Away Multi-Cat for some time now and it works beautifully. But, this time I was lured by a decent price, the promises on the box, and the ability to buy it right there instead of spending additional time and gas going to where I can purchase my brand after finishing my shopping at this new store.  I ended up purchasing a 40 lb. box of Paws and Claws Multi-Cat Scoopable Cat Litter.  As you can see from the picture of the box, it boasts of the ability to neutralize ammonia odor AND lasts 8 times longer.  Whooo hooo!   Great price, same odor control as what I use now (since it “neutralizes” it), and lasts 8 times longer!  What a deal.

(I posted the bigger picture so that smaller words could be seen.  The white spot in the middle is the flash from my camera, not part of the box.)  Read on…

Paws and Claws Litter - Product Review

Being confident in the “promises”, I bought a 40 pound box.  I am now finished with the 40 pounds of litter and it’s time to review the product.

Promise:  Ideal for Multi-Cats

In my opinion, this isn’t a multi-cat litter.  Why?  Read on.

Promise:  Lasts 8 times longer

I’m not sure what brands they are comparing their litter to at this point or if they’re comparing it to another formula of their own litter.  So, my question is, “It lasts 8 times longer than what?”  (I should have asked that before purchasing it on impulse.)

I am comparing it to the brand I usually use.  I buy the 34 pound box of Scoop-Away Multi-Cat.  That lasts me for approximately two weeks with three cats.

I purchased this litter exactly 7 days ago.  I scooped the last of it out of the litter box this morning.  That is 40 pounds of “multi-cat” litter used up in 7 days!  At that rate of usage, the litter is EXTREMELY EXPENSIVE.

Why did it get used up so quickly?

I have to say it clumps well.   There was very little loose wet litter.  (I’m saying very little, not none.)  When a cat pees, a whole bunch of the litter soaks up the pee and suddenly I have a brick (a really heavy one at that) to get out of the litter box.  I am talking 1/2 to 3/4 the size of a real, honest-to-goodness building brick.  (Perhaps all week long my three cats took to peeing in the exact same spot as the cat that went into the box before them.)  My usual litter clumps well, too.  It clumps urine into small balls that are easily removed.   But, urine seemed to go down to the bottom of the litter box with this litter and clump everything, top to bottom, soaking up a bunch of litter each time and turning it into a huge clay brick that stuck to the sides and bottom of the box and was difficult to get out of the box unless you have a huge, sturdy scoop.

That, my friends, is why this litter was used up so quickly.  It soaked up far more litter than expected each time.  I only have three cats.  This is supposed to be for “multi-cats”.   So, again… I’m not sure what the company is comparing this litter to when it says that it lasts 8 times longer.

Promise:  Advanced Odor Control

I don’t know how to say this except to be very straight forward.  This past week my house stunk so badly that I could hardly stand it.  The promise of “advanced odor control” may be in comparison to some other litters out there.  I hear that some of them are really bad.  Suffice it to say, I’m glad I didn’t try them if they are worse than this.

I’m back to my usual brand and the awful stink that was lingering in my house all week is gone.

I would much rather have given a good product review.  But, it is what it is.  This product did not work for me at all on any of the three levels promised and I will not be buying it again.

 

Product Review – Paleo Bread

Paleo BreadTwo and a half weeks ago I ordered Paleo Bread made with Coconut flour from Julian Bakery.   (A friend of mine on Facebook “liked” Paleo bread so that’s how I came to know about Paleo bread and Julian Bakery.)  About a week and a half after my order, they finally charged my account.  Today (a week later) I received my two loaves of Paleo bread.  I paid for 2nd day air.   (You have to freeze it as soon as you get it home, according to the instructions in huge words on the shipping box.)

I have never used coconut flour before so I wanted to try some bread made from it before buying flour and trying to bake something myself.  The description on their website sounded good.  I’ve been looking forward to trying items made with other kinds of flour and I’ve heard good things about coconut flour.

Paleo ComparisonAbove is a picture of the loaf (with only one thin piece missing) in comparison to my tea pot and Honey Bell oranges from QVC.  The loaves of bread are very small.  Here is a picture comparing it to a regular, unopened loaf of Pepperidge Farms bread and below comparing slice to slice so that you can see the size of each piece.

My husband likes white bread because it’s light.  So, I’m really trying to find a bread he can enjoy that isn’t heavy, but that is a healthier option for him.  We’ve tried all different kinds of “store bought” breads.  I’ve made many different kinds of homemade breads.  They’re tasty.  But, they’re still loaded with carbs.  So, it seems coconut flour is a low carb option.

Paleo Slice ComparisonLooking forward to trying the bread I opened the box right away, put one loaf in the freezer and opened the other loaf.   I took out one slice.  I’m sure that Julian Bakery will not appreciate my observations, but I would like to share with others so that you can have a more informed decision about buying it than just the information on their website.  I cannot say, in good conscience, that I enjoyed even one bite of this bread.

  1. One loaf of Paleo bread made from coconut flour is $7.99 (plus shipping).  Two loaves and shipping cost me $31.15.  That was a price I was willing to pay to try it once because I couldn’t find anything like it where I live, but normally I’m far more budget conscious.  That much money can buy me 7 loaves of good, tasty bread (not the light fluffy stuff) in a local store.
  2. The bread is very heavy and chewy.  (I’m not talking about a pleasant chewy like crusty Italian bread.  It’s more like a soft rubber band kind of chewy.)
  3. Each piece is quite small and thin compared to a “normal” slice of bread.
  4. It has a rather odd smell coming out of the bag.  (I can’t even begin to describe the smell.  It’s not strong, but it is odd.  It won’t bother most people, I’m sure.  However, my nose is quite sensitive and I can smell things before others do.  I have to wonder what ingredient is causing that smell.)
  5. There is no flavor to the bread at all.  It’s extremely bland and I am very disappointed.  There is clearly not enough salt in it, either, if any.

In order to give it a little flavor, I put a small amount of apricot jam on the bread.  That didn’t make it any more palatable.  It was simply apricot jam on a bland, unpleasantly chewy, slightly odd smelling piece of bread.

I do NOT like wasting food.  But, I can’t figure out what to do with this bread.   It doesn’t seem absorbant enough to soak up an egg mixture to make a tiny piece of french toast, but I’ll try that.  I’ll try it as a sandwich bread and other things.  And, then I’ll report back.  Perhaps as a backdrop to something else (like tuna salad, ham, or turkey) it will be just fine.

UPDATE:

  1. I made cinnamon toast.  I toasted and toasted and toasted it.  After 9 minutes in the toaster, it still wasn’t toasted although the outside crust was a tiny bit crisp and tasted (for a slight moment) like toasted sesame seeds.  Then that flavor (from the outside crust only) disappeared.  So, I put butter and cinnamon sugar on it to see if that would improve the flavor.  It sat on my plate for a short period of time and there was a liquid that came out of it onto the plate… but, it was still rubbery-chewy (as if I had chewed up a soft rubber band and had tiny bits of it in my mouth), bland, and had that unpleasant odor about it.  It wasn’t crispy like toast.  The texture never changed.
  2. Instead of wasting an egg, I experimented to see if it would soak up liquid.  I soaked a piece in water for a minute.  When I picked it up out of the water with two fingers, it still held its shape and stood out from my fingers, perfectly straight as it had before the soaking.  None of the water had soaked in and there wasn’t any evidence of softening like a grain flour would do.  So, I know that I can’t make french toast from it.  That will just end up being scrambled egg around a rubbery bread.
  3. I tasted a little bit with a piece of cheese.  The cheese didn’t do anything for the taste or texture.

I can’t imagine what to do with this bread.  I won’t be wasting any further ingredients trying to figure out what might help because the taste and texture (along with that slight odor) still remain.

UPDATE – June 15, 2013

Since writing this review I have purchased and used coconut flour in a number of my own recipes.  Not one of them smelled like this bread.  Not one of them was rubbery or unbearably chewy and inedible like this bread.  Not one of them tasted like this.  I have to conclude that it isn’t the coconut flour.  The horrible taste, smell and “rubberiness” of this paleo bread is unique to this bakery.  From other reviews I’ve read, the almond paleo bread from this bakery is the same way.

Each of the breads that I’ve made using coconut flour turned out tender and tasty.   I’ve made bread, pancakes, and baked donuts with it.  If you use coconut flour, remember that it absorbs a lot of liquid.  You will have to let it sit for about 10 minutes if you’re making pancakes or anything with a batter.  It also has a mild scent of coconut which comes out in your breads.  But, I highly suggest that you get your own coconut flour and experiment with your own breads, pancakes, cupcakes, etc.

UPDATE – September 20, 2013

I get my coconut and almond flour from Bob’s Red Mill because I live in the country without the convenience of stores that would carry this type of thing.  Click on Bob’s Red Mill to find out more about coconut flour.  I’ve come to believe that homemade is always better than store bought and whole, natural foods are better than processed foods.  Bob’s Red Mill also has a bunch of recipes for coconut flour.

Remember my comment about Paleo Bread being like a chewy rubber band and that it wouldn’t soak up any liquid?  I had to chuckle because I found an online demonstration of what I had experienced.  It never occurred to me to test it in these ways.

Product Review – Get Better Skin For the Holidays

Scientifically proven. 

Other products have 2 – 3% improvement over time and call that substantial.  This has real results on real people with scientific proof, and the results are as dramatic as 10% – 60% improvement within 30 – 90 days… with some results happening even in the first weeks.  In the scientific testing, they even see a reduction of the wrinkles under the skin that haven’t shown up yet and can’t been seen without the scientific equipment.  WOW!   Here are some pictures that speak for themselves.  I don’t have to say any more!

Dramatic reduction in wrinkles:

Reduction in pock marks:

Improvement in skin texture and tone:

These are just three of thousands and thousands of pictures showing improvements.  This stuff works!

There’s a 30 day money back guarantee for those who want a guarantee.  AND, when you get on autoship and refer three friends who do the same… you get your product (and the results) for free for as long as three of the people you refer are on autoship!!!   FREE!  I don’t know of any other company who is so secure in the effectiveness of their product that they do that for their customers.

They have a 90-day Real Results contest going on as well.  Anyone who gets on autoship and enters has a chance to win a trip (fully paid including airfare and spending money).  You have to be on autoship to enter.  I’m entering.  I just had to take pictures of my skin (wrinkles and all).  I picked one to post.  In five days I had to post another picture to show improvement.  Then I have to post another picture in 90 days.  I put these pictures online at the contest web page and am entered into the contest to win a trip for two!!!  (They say your photos must be untouched or they won’t be accepted.  They want only real results so act with integrity.)

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had a lot of skin problems lately.  I’m not looking as young as I feel anymore.  I look in the mirror and wonder, “WHERE did these wrinkles come from and how did I get them so soon???  And why does my face keep breaking out like I’m a teenager again?”  (It’s frustrating.  Wrinkles and breakouts… not lovely.  I know… some of you are saying TMI.  But, many of us out there are having the same problem so I’m being honest.  If I share where I started, then where I end up will be all the sweeter and will encourage others.)  I’m thrilled to find this company.   And, I promise to post my own 90-day results when I’ve completed the 90-day test.

But, don’t wait for MY 90-day results or you’ll miss out on the contest.  With the 30-day money back guarantee and the 3UR Free program where you can get your product free just by telling others about it, you can’t lose.  No, I’m not telling you just to get my product free.  I only do product reviews honestly.  I’m not going to say I love this unless it’s true, and…

I LOVE THIS!!!   So, I want to tell everyone about it!

NERIUM INTERNATIONAL  <– Here’s the website!

Setting the Temperature on Your Keurig Vue

I have noticed that one of the Google searches that brings people to my Keurig Vue Product Review indicates that they are trying to figure out how to use the temperature control feature of the Vue.  Once you discover where the temperature control is located, it’s a quick and simple thing to change the temperature.

On the main view screen (see picture) you’ll find a tiny i in the very bottom right corner in the little white circle.  Press the i and the temperature control option will pop up.  Select temperature control, set your temperature up or down, and hit the little back arrow a couple of times to exit out of it.  The temperature of your drink has just been reset.

In our house, we generally all like our drinks the same temperature.  However, I have a son who likes his hot chocolate to be a little cooler.  But, he doesn’t drink hot chocolate that often.  So, we have two options (both very simple)… (1) put an ice cube or two in his cup and select 8 ounces instead of 10, or (2) set the temperature cooler and then reset it back to our normal temperature after fixing his hot chocolate.  If you’re a purist when it comes to your drinks and don’t want to risk diluting your final product with ice, choose option 2.

Enjoy your Vue!

Product Review – Keurig Vue

We’ve been using our Keurig Brewing System for three years now and love it.  However, I saw an infomercial (Direct TV Keurig) on the new Keurig Vue and decided that it was time to get a new machine.

Don’t get me wrong.  There’s nothing wrong with the old one.  I highly recommend it for anyone who wants a coffee machine that makes individual cups of coffee.  We’ve never had any trouble with it in the past three years.  It has been like the Energizer Bunny and kept going and going and going.  We still have tea, hot chocolate and apple cider pods to use up so will continue to use the old one until all of the pods are gone.  Then some lucky person will be able to purchase it at a garage sale and enjoy freshly brewed coffee with every cup.

I usually don’t watch infomercials.  But, the thing that got my attention is that we can change the temperature and the strength, unlike our regular Keurig.  I enjoy mild coffee and regular teas, hot chocolate and apple cider, but I like that mild drink to be very hot.  My husband likes drinks that are not smokin’ hot and enjoys strong coffee.  My sons like their drinks at what Star Bucks calls “kids temperature”.   I can do all of that… including the boy’s drinks with the new Vue without having to water theirs down with ice to cool them to the right temperature.  Well… that got my attention so I kept watching the infomercial.

And, I ended up purchasing the new Keurig Vue.

They had a backlog in their orders so mine took almost three weeks to get to me.  However, because of the delay, they chose to absorb the shipping cost so I wasn’t charged for shipping.  Also, they didn’t charge my card until they had shipped the product.  And, because I purchased the whole thing outright rather than doing the 5 monthly payments, they included the pod carousel (that you can see in the picture above).  The coffee machine came with 6 boxes of a variety of different kinds of coffees (including decaf), iced tea and hot chocolate.  It also came with an iced coffee glass with straw and a travel mug.

This machine is great.  It’s a lot quieter than our original Keurig.  It also has a water filter that you snap into place that evidently lasts for two months.  (There are two filters included.)   When you turn it on for the first time you have to put water through it, hit brew and them dump that hot water out.  To be on the safe side (and thinking about cleaning out the machine from any potential residue from manufacturing), I kept hitting brew and dumping water until my first container of water was gone.

It takes about 4 minutes to heat up the first time.  After that, it doesn’t seem to be much longer than with our old Keurig.  So, you turn it on and the first thing you see on the touch screen is that it is heating up.  (Sorry about the blurry picture.)

You put the pod in like this and shut the lid.  (Because it’s late afternoon, I chose a decaf coffee.)  It’s that simple.

The touch screen allows you to chose how you want your coffee to be made.  As you can see there are three tabs for hot drinks, specialty drinks, and iced drinks.  You also select the size of your cup and how strong you want the coffee.  (If you choose strong, it brews more slowly through the ground coffee beans and so takes slightly longer to brew.)  Then you hit brew which is the big round circle in the center.

It immediately starts brewing your coffee.  And believe me, when you drink coffee using the Keurig (regardless of whether it’s the old machine with the K-cups or the Vue with the Vue Packs), the coffee is vacuum sealed.  So, it’s like unsealing coffee freshly every time you make a cup.  And each cup is individually brewed so there’s no coffee sitting for a long time in a pot.  Everything is always fresh.

Unlike the K-cup which the machine punctures at the top (to force water into the pod) and at the bottom (where the brewed drink comes out), the Vue Pack is punctured twice at the top (once in the center where the hot water is forced into the pod and once in the spout where it pours out).  This is tidier for clean up because there isn’t any liquid coming out of the bottom of the Vue Pack when you take it out.

But, the thing that I REALLY like about these Vue Packs is that you can peal the top off.  Just pull the tab back and the whole pouch comes out.  Then you throw away the filter full of coffee grounds (or tea leaves) and throw the base into the recycle bin.

Voila!  You have your cup of coffee and everything is very quickly cleaned.

We love our Keurig.  I highly recommend it to any and all.  The only downside to the Vue (at the moment) compared to our other Keurig is that there isn’t as big a variety of drinks to choose from as there are with the K-cup selections.  Since it’s fairly new, though, I expect that we’ll be seeing more and more options as time goes by.

The larger pods in the bottom of the carousel (shown below) are travel mug size, the smaller pods are for regular coffee cup size brewing.  If you’re like me and don’t like your coffee quite so strong, the travel mug size will be too strong for you.  Use the regular Vue packs.  You can order both.  I get my coffees from Green Mountain.  If you are a customer for a while, you get a sizeable discount on the price.  We’ve never had any issues with them and appreciate the discounts.  Also, if you order 4 boxes or more at a time, you get free shipping.  So, if you don’t drink coffee often, you simply tell them to ship once every 12 weeks or however long you want to have between.  You can do all of that online.

So, if you are like I was for years… visiting Star Bucks every day on the way to work… you will enjoy quite a savings by getting yourself a Keurig and using your own travel mug to brew your own coffee the way you like it.  You walk out of your own house with a freshly brewed travel mug of coffee every morning.

For more information on the Keurig Vue, go to Keurig’s website.

UPDATE DECEMBER 29, 2012  

I asked Keurig if they would be bringing out an equivalent of the My K-Cup for the Vue any time soon.  Here was their answer as of today.

“Thank you for your email and for your interest in our Keurig Vue Brewer. We do expect to have a My K-Cup equivalent for the Vue Brewer available in early 2013. Please check our website www.keurig.com for updates.  Please do not hesitate to contact us with any further questions or concerns.”

Update February 5, 2013

Good news!  Another company called Coffee Outlaw sells a product called Solofil Cup V1 Gold that is a reusable Vue pack.  One of the readers of this review purchased his reusable Vue pack and says it works well.  See his comment below.   (Thank you for the update, Michael.  I know a lot of people will be happy about this.)  

________________

NOTE: I do product reviews for the fun of it.  If I find something that I think you all need to know about, I’ll do a product review on it.  I do not get any benefit or compensation from any company for any product reviews that I do.  If I like a product I’ll let you know.  If not, I’ll let you know that as well… and explain why.

See Setting the Temperature Control on Your Keurig Vue.

Product Review — BHG Non-Stick Bakeware

NOTE:   This product review was written in January 2012.  It would seem (as of July 2012) that these pans have gone out of production.  I can’t find them anywhere and have never been able to buy the bread pans I wanted to get.  Places that carried them say not available.  At the BHG link (below), when you click on the bakeware tab it won’t load.  So, evidently they are no longer available.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this bakeware.  Better Homes and Gardens (BHG) did a fantastic job when they created this set.

Today I used my glass bread pans for the last time.  I’m always having to fiddle with them… butter and flour them for quick breads or cut parchment paper to line them when I’m making yeast bread.  No more!

I bought BHG cake pans (just like the one in the picture above) from Walmart last December and really enjoyed using them.  My cakes easily came right out when I tipped the pan over.  No sticking, no effort.  I had a pecan layer cake baked, cooled, stacked and iced in no time for my husband’s birthday.

(This cake had finely chopped pecans in the spiced cake and a cream cheese icing covered with pecans.  It was delicious.  And the BHG cake pans make it so easy.)

Well, I put the cake pans away and didn’t think about them anymore because I hadn’t made any cakes since then.  But, I’ve been struggling with my bread pans ever since.

Today when I left a part of a banana bread in the bottom of my glass bread pan, it occured to me to look and see if BHG has bread pans as well.  (I had only seen the cake pans on the Walmart shelf.)

Sure enough, they do have bread pans… and pie pans and more.  Go to this website to see their set of bakeware: http://www.bhglivebetter.com/bakeware/home.

This is the best bakeware I’ve ever used to date.

Here’s a very short video clip on the product.


Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WE87rMAZXvg.

Keeping in mind that it is non-stick, I always do my best to protect it.  Here are some tips:

  1. I never use metal knives, spatulas, or flatware on this bakeware.  There are pie servers, spatulas and even cake knives that are not made of metal that can be used.  Calphalon is a company that makes some great utensils for non-stick cook and bakeware.
  2. I always wash by hand.  The clean up is so incredibly easy that in the time it takes to rinse it and put it in the dishwasher, you could have simply cleaned, dried and put it away in the cupboard.  (Dishwashers are harsh on non-stick products.)
  3. I NEVER use cooking sprays on my non-stick bakeware.  If it’s a good set, like the BHG one, then the cakes will come right out without the use of any butters, oils or sprays.

Do your best to keep it well and it will serve you well.  I highly recommend it.

Update 07-08-2012:

I would seem that Walmart is no longer carrying these products.  I don’t know if Walmart simply discontinued them or if BGH is no longer making them.  Walmart is carrying other BHG products.  I have tried to find them elsewhere, but they are not on even the Better Homes & Gardens site.

Product Review – Swheat

If I do product reviews I usually have good things to say.   This time not so much.  But, I think people who have cats need to know about this.  If you’ve had better experiences, let me know.  I want a fair evaluation.

 

(My little son took this picture with his first camera.  The cats are enjoying the sunshine on a patio chair.)

I love my cats and liked the advertisements that I was seeing on Swheat scoopable cat litter and I really liked the idea of having dust-free liter that wouldn’t get into my cats’ lungs.   So, I looked up Swheat (http://swheatscoop.com/) and read up all of the information.  It sounded like litter that would clump nicely and be easily removed.  It was even flushable.  I decided to try it for a couple of weeks.

This product was more expensive than other litters.  (That’s not unusual for “green” products.)  But, I went through it about 3 times as much as the other litter as well.

What I found was entirely different from the claims that were made, with the exception of 1.   

1.  Dust free — This is true.  I didn’t have any problems with litter dust.  I really liked that part.

2.  Even good for multi-cat households — Well, this could be true if you want to clean your cat litter at least 4 times a day.  (The instructions even say you have to clean more often.  Well, any litter can be used for multi-cat households if you want to clean it all throughout the day.)  If you don’t constantly clean it, the other cats will accidentally break up clumps when they’re visiting the litter box.  I have three cats and cleaned the litter every evening and every morning.  That’s simply wasn’t enough.   So, for anyone who has to work during the day, sleep during the night, and has more than one cat, this may not be the litter for you.

3.  Fragrance Free — Well, it’s true that it doesn’t have any man-made fragrances added to it.  It’s “fragrance” is reminiscent of the animal building at a state or provincial fair (like the Pacific National Exhibition in Vancouver or the many state fairs in the US).  It smells like cat poop and straw/wheat.  If you like that animal smell, this is the litter for you.

3. Flushable — Evidently it is flushable.  I’ve never used a flushable litter and didn’t try it this time because the instructions tell you to “soak the litter” before flushing.  Ummm…  I’m going to put used cat litter into a container and soak it first?  Or I’m going to leave it in the toilet and not flush?

4.  Clumps well — No.  It certainly clumps.  But, if your scoop doesn’t get it just right, the clumps quickly break up.

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So…

From the “green” aspect, it is dust free-, not harmful to the environment, and not harmful to cats from what I can see.  It’s even flushable if you have the willingness to let it sit in the toilet without flushing for a while.

From the price aspect, it’s way too expensive for what you get, mostly because of the amount you have to use.

From the convenience aspect, you have to clean the litter way too often and go to the store to get it and haul it home more often.

From the aspect of fragrance, I never enjoyed going in the animal barns at the fair.  It stinks there.  (But, I go for my kids’ sake and just cover my nose.  OK, so I have a more sensitive nose than many do.)  This was a little too reminiscent of that type of experience and I don’t want to smell that when I’m cleaning the cat litter.  To be fair, this litter does seem to get rid of offensive odors so that they don’t get into the air and waft through the house.  It’s just when I’m cleaning the litter that it reminds me of barns or the animal buildings at the fairs.

So, if you’re far more interested in the green aspect and not having any smells waft through the house for a few minutes after a cat uses the litter AND you don’t, mind cleaning the cat litter a lot more often, this may be the litter for you.  Just use a big scoop so you don’t risk breaking up too many clumps.

If convenience and price is a factor, this one likely won’t work for you.

Again, if any of you have had better experiences, please write and let us all know.  I do want to be fair about this.