Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Zep Cleaning Products: How well do they Work?

Recently, Crowdtap had a sampling in which I was able to try Zep Quick Clean Disinfectant and Zep All-Around Oxy Cleaner and Degreaser. I cook everyday so my kitchen can get messy pretty quickly. This means I need something that will keep my counters, sink and cooking top clean; I also need the product to work on all these surfaces. I hate having to use separate products for separate surfaces since it takes up so much time that I would rather use to do something else.

Having said all that, I was happy to learn that Zep All-Around Oxy Cleaner and Degreaser does in fact work on virtually any surface and cleans it as well. It does mention, however, that you shouldn't use it on leather, silk, suede etc., but I don't have silk countertops so I think I'll be alright. Anyways, I found that the All-Around Oxy Cleaner worked just as well as other cleaning products I've used before, but was not any better than they have been. Does it clean? Absolutely, but I wasn't blown away by it. I cleaned my sinks with baking soda a few times and it worked just as well. The only pro I would say about Zep vs. another cleaning solution is that I was able to use it on all my kitchen surfaces without having to switch cleaners for the different surfaces.

I found the Zep Quick Clean Disinfectant to be a little trickier. There were all these warnings about using gloves and how it was a skin irritant on the label, which was fine, but how does this make it different than bleach? It works essentially just as well as bleach and contains the same warnings, so I didn't find anything special about the Zep Disinfectant. Would I recommend it? Yes, if you use bleach to clean surfaces to rid them of bacteria-go ahead, this works just as well. My point is, it doesn't seem to be any safer or have any added benefits over using bleach. That being said, the product does claim to kill 99.9% of bacteria like Staph so it is very useful in the kitchen or even the bathroom.

Overall, I liked the Zep Cleaners, but to be honest, I didn't find anything spectacular about them.

*Disclosure: I received this product for free in exchange for an honest review. As always, all opinions are unbiased and my own. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Cake Pops: the Best Invention since Cake

Apparently, I've been living under a rock or in a cave or in my own little bubble, because I'd never had cake pops before. It's true-while I'd heard of them, I'd never actually tried them. Now I'm wondering why I never did. A few months ago I won a giveaway that had a number of prizes. One of those prizes was a cake pop arrangement by Kelly's Confectionary Creations. Having never tried cake pops before I was intrigued and more than a little excited to see what they were like.

However, there was a tiny problem: Kelly's shop was located in Minnesota, while I'm in Tennessee. How could she send me the cake pops in August with temperatures hitting the 90 degree mark? Kelly suggested that we wait until it was cooler and then she would figure out a way to get them to me. She was super friendly and nice throughout the whole process and then in early November I got in touch with her again and she sent them out. Within two days I had a lovely package on my doorstep full of delicious cake pops.

Kelly sent me two different flavors: pink lemonade and orange chocolate. Not only do they look amazing, they taste even better. I tried the pink lemonade first and even managed to get a picture (it was difficult, but I did it).

The oh so soft inner cake layer was perfect-light, fluffy and delicious. The outer chocolate coating was also wonderful-it just melted in my mouth as soon as I bit into it. The sprinkles added just a touch of fun and sweetness. Where has this been all my life?!

My daughter, who I've somehow managed to keep under a rock with me and has also never had cake pops, stole asked nicely and took one of the orange chocolate cake pops to try. She devoured it! It's hard to please my daughter, who, quite possibly may be the pickiest eater on the planet, so the fact that she LOVED them really says something.

If you're located in the Minneapolis/St.Paul area or nearby, give Kelly's Confectionary Creations a try. You can't go wrong. Not only does she make cake pops, but also other baked goodies. Take a look here and here. Working with Kelly has also been great, she's just wonderful to work with and kept me updated about the status of the cake pops throughout. All in all, I'm so grateful to have gotten a chance to try these delicious treats-they are now one of my favorite sweets!

*Disclosure: I was not provided with this product for review purposes. However, I did win and receive these for free. As always, my opinions are my own and unbiased.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Remington 2" Straightener: Straight up Great

Remington First Look gave me the chance to try their T|Studio LUXE 2" Straightener. A little background before I start. My hair is frizzy-I'm not talking a little static on a humid day, I'm talking full blown Van de Graaff generator frizzy (well pretty close to it). It's also wavy to curly, not quite coils, but not straight either-somewhere in between. A straightener is pretty much a necessity at this point. So of course, I was thrilled to be able to try Remington's 2" straightener.

The straightener was a light lavender color, which I really liked. It was built well and was very sturdy-I could see this lasting a long time. 

Let's start off with the pros:

1. Fast heat up time: The package says the flat iron heats up to it's set temperature in 15 seconds. I found this claim to be true. I had the temperature set at 380 degrees Fahrenheit and it reached that temperature within 15 seconds. I was beyond pleased because the faster it reaches the set temperature, the faster my morning routine goes.

2. Easy to read digital setting: The digital light is very easy to read. I usually need glasses when the script gets too small, but in this case, I didn't have a problem at all.

3. Easy to use: I'm not that great with technology most of the time, but using this flat iron was a breeze. It was literally just plug it in, set temperature, wait 15 seconds, presto done. It required no work from me and I figured it out within minutes.

4. Works very well: My hair is wavy on good days and a frizzy, curly mess  the rest of the time. This basically constitutes 360 days of the year. A flat iron is a must at my house. This was a lifesaver. It's very simple and I felt that it did a very good job with my hair. I found less frizz (pretty much non-existent) as well as leaving my smooth and silky to the touch. This has definitely become a staple in my morning routine.

5. Fast: Did I mention how fast it is? From heat up time to actually using it, I found that the flat iron is incredibly fast. I didn't have to straighten parts of my hair over and over. I ran it over once and I was done. This really saved me a lot of time.

All in all, I was pleased with the flat iron: it was durable, high quality, was easy to use and left my hair silky. This makes for a very happy me and I would definitely recommend this to anyone who would like to straighten their hair. 

*Disclosure: I received this product for free from Remington in exchange for an honest review. As always, my opinions are my own and unbiased. 

Arla Dofino: Did Someone say Cheese?

A few weeks ago I got an invitation from BzzAgent to sign up for their Arla Dofino Cheese campaign. Now let me start by telling you how much my family loves their cheese. We have to have cheese in at least 1 dish a day, whether it be pasta, mac and cheese, pizza, quesadillas, etc. You get the picture. If it's not in a recipe, I'll find my the various members of my family (including me) raiding the fridge and cutting a piece of cheese to eat. String cheese doesn't last long and whole blocks of cheese disappear within a week. Basically, we love our cheese.

Having said this, I was ecstatic to try Arla Dofino cheese. I had seen their products in stores, but for some strange reason (especially being a cheese lover) had never actually bought them. Well, getting a free product coupon was just the catalyst I needed. Once I got my coupon I rushed over to the Kroger in my area and searched. Weirdly, I was only able to find 1 type of Arla Dofino cheese: the Chipotle Gouda. Fortunately, this was the one I had wanted to try. However, it would have been nice to have a selection of different cheeses-I'll have to check in other stores nearby to see if they offer a greater variety.

Regardless, that night I made quesadillas as a side dish. It was an instant hit! The slightly nutty, smoky flavor of the gouda balanced with a hint of spice really was just the ticket for my family's palate. I also made grilled cheese and added the gouda to some veggie pasta to see what it would taste like and both were wins! At around $5.00, the cheese is relatively inexpensive for the quality and I definitely think it's great value.

Overall, I was impressed with Arla Dofino's cheese and have bought more of their cheeses since my campaign. More Gouda as well as Havarti have become household favorites and I know I'll definitely be seeing more of them in my kitchen in the near future.

The one bad thing about having tasty cheese is that I completely forgot to take a picture of the meals I prepared with them and by the time I remembered, they were sitting snugly in our stomachs!

*Disclosure: I received a coupon for a free product in exchange for a review via BzzAgent. As always, all opinions are my own and unbiased.