Tuesday, December 31, 2019

**REVIEW** Sigelei Chronus Shikra

First, let me just say what an absolutely beautiful mod. Just gorgeous...


Except for the ugly branding at the bottom.
What the hey, Sigelei???


This is the first Sigelei that I have ever had and I have to say that, so far, I am loving it.

I first saw this device in gold-tone sometime last year, back when I was just cruising vape shop sites. I stopped and gaped until I saw the price tag. I had to cruise right on past that beauty. Every now and then I thought about it though. While discussing the different vape devices we like, I mentioned to someone (apparently someone very sweet!) that I thought this one was a fave in the looks department. They had just started vaping and were checking out several types of devices so they went over and took a look. That person was kind of into the Voopoo Drag (ugh!) and later on ended up getting a jaw-droppingly beautiful piece of art called the Wismec Reuleaux. It is that kind of hot-damn pretty steampunk-ish and copper-looking device with a hot-damn price tag and a name I bungle when I'm drinking. But then they did something nice and got me the Sigelei for a surprise gift after asking if I really thought I'd like it more than the Drag. Are you kidding? I sure as heck did and I sure as heck do. I told them all about my Voopoo boycott.

So, the Sigelei got here and I was so freaking happy that I did a little dance around the living room. Until I lost my balance and had to sit my happy behind down!

When I was window-shopping, I couldn't decide between the red one and the black one. This Gunmetal Stainless Steel Shikra is everything I drool over. I will explain later why I'm glad I didn't get the red one. Of course, I went and looked at comparison photos and, yep, I am digging this Gunmetal more than ever. I think others are too showy for my personal tastes. (And, by the by, there is a "regular" Chronus and this Chronus Shikra  Edition)

Enjoy the photos then check out what I thought was pro and con about it all.





The tank and the mod had their own separate boxes inside the main box. That was cool. I liked the attention they paid to padding the tank box. By the way, I didn't know until recently that shops sold mods without tanks. I guess it's a good thing I've always gotten starter kits with everything included but the juice! This starter kit comes, as others do, with extras and accessories.



I have mine set up in the simplest way. You know, cos I'm simpleminded... This is what my main screen looks like while the device is in use:


This right here is the joystick. It doesn't stick out too much from the device.


I dig the joystick feature more than I expected to. The joystick will get you into the settings. From there you can customize a bunch of stuff such as the GUI (the visual interface), the clock, puff time, etc.







Being able to check the battery
with a flick of the joystick is cool



















So, what do I think after using this bad boy for a few days? I was kind of worried about writing a review for such a nice gift because I didn't want any criticism to sound ungrateful but I want my reviews to be solid. Luckily, I don't really have much negative to say.

Other than being a looker, the Shikra (I don't like that name so let's call it the Chronus SE) the design is really functional. But let's get right into the Pros and Cons.

PROS:
  • As with a lot of beautiful things, photos don't catch the full understated elegance of the Chronus SE. The design is not cheap or painted on. I saw a video where a guy tries to scratch the finish alloy and steel finish with a pocket knife. The finish held up without a mark. I understand that you can't do the same thing with the Chronus.
  • The clock is nice although it only seems to show military time (unless I just have not found a way to adjust that). When you power off, the clock appears for about 10 seconds; you can hit the firing button or press the joystick to show the time again. Neat.
  • I like the joystick feature for adjusting settings and setting wattage, etc. It's easier to use than I expected. That it's in copper-tone really adds to the overall look. One guy in a  video review cracked me up when he said it reminds him of a human nipple. That image comes back to me every time I adjust a setting on this thing.
  • The battery door seems solid. That's important to me because I have a Smok Priv V8 that's got the crappiest door. I have to hold it shut in order for the vape to fire. 
  • The firing button is awesome and I don't understand all the other reviewers' complaints about it. Mine is not loose and does not jiggle or rock at all. It doesn't move until I press it to fire the vape. Maybe Sigelei updated the design after some criticism from their compensated reviewers? ~shrug~
  • I haven't had to change the coil yet, but someone else pointed out that because these coils are "drop-ins", you don't have to wait to finish the juice in the tank or dump it. That is really nice. 
I like being able to adjust the screen brightness

CONS:
  • Staying on the subject of the design... With such a beautiful device that comes in such a lovely array of colors, I have no idea why the brand name is placed and colored to be as ugly as can be. It's white and is right on the bottom front of the device. The color and font just don't work with the rest of the design. I have even considered blacking it out with a marker.
  • The ... coil... sucks. I'm no pro at vaping and even I can tell that the coil in this thing really mutes the flavors. Any of my Smoks (and even the crappy Voopoo Caliber) give full flavor to almost any juice I have used. I tried using a tangy lemon in this one and... nothing. I can tell it's lemon but that's it. In my Smok, that lemon is so tangy that it just about locks my jaw every time I hit it. Luckily, another reviewer pointed out that I can use Smok Baby Beast coils in this. Sigelei even supplies an adapter pin so that you can use other coils. Maybe they know theirs are no good???
  • This device goes through battery life as if it's powering a Humvee. My Smok Veneno (yes, I compare everything against Smok) can go for up to three days - sometimes more - on a single charge-up. Maybe it's because the Sigelei is running a clock that the battery drains so fast?
  • And the biggest negative, in my opinion, is the passcode feature. Now, this might be helpful even though I have no kids around here, but when I want to protect the mod from accidentally firing in my purse, I just power it off. And, that annoying passcode has to be entered every time you change the batteries. Since I charge my batteries externally, this is going to be a minor pain in the hind parts. Also, I have read where some users had problems with the code after updating the firmware - some even getting locked out of the device. Yikes.
  • This last one is petty but I really hate that Phoenix on the back of the mod. That would have been a nice spot to put the brand name and stop there.
Bad segue here, but I want to point out something another reviewer spotted: the tank sits off-center just slightly. You don't notice (or I didn't) until you look down at the mod from the top. This shouldn't be a problem for me but, as the other reviewer pointed out, some tanks might protrude over one side.



All in all, the positives sweep away any negatives. As you can see, I solved the coil problem by swapping out the tank for the one from my Smok. Works for me. Not pretty but it works.
The Smok tank is MUCH nicer!
The Chronus SE is really comfortable in the hand and it's so gorgeous. What a lucky gal I am to have this one. I will have to order some Baby Beast coils so that my Smok tank is always ready. Good thing that the Smok coils fit the Veneno, the Caliber and this Chronus SE.

Before I go, I want to mention that thing about the device in red... The Chronus SE is a little more expensive than the regular Chronus but it's also slightly heavier and the firmware can be upgraded (not that I ever do that) Here's the thing, if I had bought this mod, I would have probably considered getting the red one or that rainbow - thank goodness someone has much better taste than I - but I learned that the red SE is constructed of the same materials as the regular Chronus. That means that it's lighter weight and probably easier to scratch up. Weird that they did this one only one color of the SE. Anyway, that's about it for this review. As always, I will do updates as needed.

Peace
--Free





While I was watching the 2nd season of Lost In Space, this song came on and I remembered how much I love it. Whenever we heard it, my dad and I would sing the line "Some people call me Mo-Reece" together and break out laughing for some reason. So, yeah.




Monday, December 30, 2019

**QUICK POST** Using Garnier SkinActive (not on the face)

If you have dry arms, legs, etc, then keep reading.

Last year, I got to try Garnier's SkinActive moisturizing mask for the face. I had gotten a sample in a subscription box and like it enough to buy a jar. That single jar has lasted me all this time - WELL over a year. I use this every several days apart during the summer (humid days here near the lake), but during the colder, drier months, I will use it once every 2 or 3 days as an overnight treatment. Until now.

The other night I was applying some of this to my face after getting out of the show. I finished doing my face and wiped some of the excess cream from my fingers onto my thigh and forgot about it. By the time I got ready to apply my body oils and lotion, my arms and legs had dried completely out. There was just that one spot where I had wiped the Garnier that was so nice and supple that I was puzzled for a second. Then lightbulbs started flashing over my head. This was the first time I had applied the product to any other part of my body when it was at it's driest. I had tested it on my hand and wrist before but that was during the summer months and when I was already moisturized anyway. Seeing what this did to my bone-dry winter skin was something else.

So.

Yes, I did start applying the Garnier to the rest of my body. At about $10 a jar, I was getting a little wild, but... Using this as a body moisturizer is totally worth it. I mainly used it on my elbows, butt, and bosom (throw-back word!) and then mixed some in with my regular lotion to use on the rest of my body.

This is the best moisturizer ever for the drier parts of the body during the colder months.And I have used prescription moisturizers. I have used Cerave -which is not cheap - but...

Look how thick this is -

This is from July 2018
I still have about 1/3 of the jar left today

 The thing is, I will only need to do this after hot showers. I love standing for too long under hot water sometimes. Feels amazing but is so harsh on the skin - especially with this Iowa water.

Anyway, I just wanted to share this with you. I am going to have to look around and see if Garnier makes Skinactive for the body. To be honest, though, I think I will just keep using this. I won't need to use it often and it's totally worth it.

Peace
--Free

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Personal Vape LearningTips

WARNING: This post has to do with vaping. If you are under age, please know that I do NOT encourage smoking or vaping for minors and this post is not intended for you.  I don't encourage nicotine use of any kind for anyone. This post has to do with my personal experience as I attempt to stop using nicotine.



This is not a post recommending that you use any particular vape shop. I am just sharing my personal shopping method when looking for vape devices and vape supplies. There will be a little bit of ranting too...

Decent Shop Listings Are Hard To Find

Let's start with a rant: Whenever I do a search for "best vape shop" or "best price on (fill in the blank)", etc. I don't feel a lot of hope. Most lists of "bests" and "recommended" seem as if they were written in exchange for something. Maybe the author is getting some free or discount devices? Maybe they are being paid? And there is nothing wrong with that - as long as there is a lot of honesty. Here are some recent listings that I found to be more credible-seeming than others:
  • This is one list that I like a lot. They give decently objects Cons along with the Pros (even though each item is linked to a purchase page..)
Yep. One list. I found a LOT of lists but most were so obviously suck-up sell jobs that I just grew tired of looking. Let me know if you have seen any decent compilations.

MY List of good vape shops
  • Electronic Tobacconist (good products & service & site is well-designed)
  • Element Vapor (my newest spot; they have more variety than the others)
  • Breazy (my first & forever)
  • Vape Wild (if you don't have to pay the extra USPS cost for signing)
  • EC Blend Flavors (fun juice lab)
  • E Juice Club (no longer delivers to my area because of stupid laws)
Now for another rant: It's hard to find good YouTube vape reviewers who are a) not completely silly, childish, annoying, or just plain show-stoppingly narcissistic. I don't mind being entertained while watching the review, but I really do want to know more about the device. Tell me what you like about the device instead of showing off how wild and crazy you are. And be honest. I didn't stop at your channel to listen to you suck up to a brand so that they will send you more free stuff...

MY list of helpful video-reviewers of vape stuff
  • Zophie Vapes (She's fun but knows her stuff & does detailed reviews.)
  • Wendy Vapes (She sometimes seems a little bit biased, but she does really detailed reviews)
  • Vaping With Twisted (He does great reviews & this is the most useful one I've seen for newbies)
  • Jai Haze (He can be a bit... intense but he's one of my go-to channels when I'm checking out a device) 
  • Speaking of videos, here is one from New Amsterdam Vape on "progressing in vaping" that is old but I think is super helpful for newbies. It's nice to see the parts and accessories that the narrator is talking about. Of course, there are more devices now than then, but basic info never gets too old. Be sure to check out the NAV playlists.
Rant Number 3: Why aren't there more easily accessible online helps for newbies? Here are some concerns I once had or now have that might seem silly, but I bet I'm not the only one:

  1. What's more important - the tank or the device? I have great devices that do much better when I replace the tank (I see you over there, Smok, taking over for the Sigelei Shikra...)
  2. Is there a list of the most popular coils and the devices they work with? I hate having to hunt around to figure out if there is another brand of coil that will work with one device or another. Often I would like to get one set of coils that will work across devices but I have trouble understanding compatibility.
  3. How do I know if an online vape shop is or is not possibly legit?
  4. Why does every vaping tutorial on shop sites care more about selling to you than teaching???
MY list of helpful info for the very novice vaper 
  • Vape Wild's Info Hub - This was the first help site I used (and still do). It's broken up into sections that you can scroll through. My first stop when I started out explained the difference between PG and VG.  Do check it out.
  • Mig Vapor did a nice job giving a brief history of vaping and explaining basics about device and juice types. I love that they were more concerned with educating the user instead of just pushing a particular product.
  • Expert Vaping is a site I discovered a few days ago so I'm not sure about anything else on it, but the guides here are nice. This is one of their charts: 


  • This chart is from Vaping Hardware (and now I have to go and see what else they have!) They test and review products so it might be a place to check out when trying to decide on a device...

  • This similar chart is from Mister E-Liquid (another site I have to check out now! Dang!) 


So, yeah, there are plenty of charts but you more than get the idea. Let's move on to the last (for now) rant. 

How can I figure out if an online shop is legit and decent with good customer service and support, or is possibly scam-ish? Shopping online is always iffy. I do have a few methods for checking out a new vendor before I trust them with my orders and info.

MY tips and tricks for not getting jammed up
  • I use sites like Trust Pilot (search by name or type of vendor) and the BBB (search by name & location or just by name). A UK site called Reviews UK is very, VERY similar in looks to Trust Pilot. There are US companies you can review (ie: I reviewed Vape Wild), but you have to verify either and order number or invitation email to post a review. Trust Pilot is my favorite to check up on sites.
  • Ask Redditors for their feedback. I generally either search on Reddit, or I will add "Reddit" at the end of a Google or Duck Duck Go search. Redditors will give you the outright down and dirty.
  • Do a general search "is -insert company/site name- legit/scam"
  • Another thing to do is look up the About Us info on a site.
  • Check where the vendor is located. I'm not telling you what to do but I tend to avoid sites that ship from warehouses or straight out of China. I don't want the Wish version of a vape device...
  • Check your browser address bar to check the site's security. There was a time, HTTPS indicated a site was secure. These days, in Chrome at least, I look for the little lock symbol to click on because it will indicate whether or not your info is secure.
  • If at all possible, I try to use any debit or credit card payments via PayPal. This is a little more secure, IMO.
  • As much as I hate Facebook, if I still used it for other than posting my blog, I would check with people in groups to see if they know anything about a company. You do know there are groups for vaping enthusiasts on there, right?
  • If in any kind of doubt, don't use a site. You are giving them a chance to take your money and... do what they will with it. I tend to stick with my proven-safe vendors.
My final tips for you:
  • Don't become a vape junkie. Listen, I was a hair product junkie and that was expensive enough to make me go to rehab. Vapes and vape supplies are fun but, like with a lot of products, there is always going to be the next newer and nicer thing.
  • Instead of buying new vape devices, just upgrade your tanks or get some nice clean coils or pods to use. 
  • See if a friend wants to swap out vapes with you for a while. My SIL and I check out each others vapes all the time. This is how I learned that, while I really like the Smok pod devices, I don't want one enough to buy one.
I hope this helped. Maybe at some point, I will remember to come back to do an update for 2020. In the meantime, enjoy this brand new year we are in.

Peace
--Free






I thought it would be fun to nod back at my former smoking days. This clip is hilarious and I remember watching it when I still smoked, God help me. This is now the way I feel about vaping...

Take it away, Bebe




Friday, December 27, 2019

**Pre-REVIEW** Cast Iron Skillet Cleaning?

I have a small collection of cast iron cookware. My mother grew up in a home where cast iron skillets, pots, and kettles were all that was used. When I was young, I don't remember ever seeing Mama cook in any other kind of skillet. My sister and I picked up the habit. When I was young and had anemia, Mama would cook liver for me in her cast-iron skillet. That liver was nasty (though I love liver now), but between it and the cast iron, the anemia didn't stand a chance! By the way, there is now more public knowledge and some legit attention given to this idea. You younguns can go ask your grandmamas.

Here is where I posted about some of my expanding set of cast iron pieces - including a teapot that I use daily.

Anyway.

With all this cast iron that I want to last for years and years, I have been looking for easier ways to clean it. IA lot of the time, I can just take the pan off the stove, wipe out any excess oil and I am good to go. Sometimes, though, I have to do a good clean. I have always followed one of Mama's examples when cleaning the skillets. I use some cooking oil and Kosher salt (or margarita salt or any other coarse salt). These are my steps:

  •  I will use a sponge to work the oil and salt around for getting any sticky crud out of the pan.
  • Rinse out the pan with really hot water - even some boiling water if I must..
  •  I almost NEVER use any kind of soap (and if I ever do, I have to re-season the pan). 
  • Put the rinsed pan on a low burner for a couple of minutes to dry out the pores.
  • Wipe the pan with some lard or other oil. I prefer lard because it's really cheap and I don't use it for anything else.

That's it. If you do this and keep up the care of your pans, eventually, they start to really smooth out and become almost non-stick. (If you want other methods, you can also use baking soda and a wet rag to clean the skillet or by rubbing a half a potato over the salt for a scrub (there's something about the makeup of the potato...???) 

The one really old skillet I have is almost as smooth as glass. That's from years of regular use, cleaning and seasoning. I am working toward that point with the skillets I got a couple of years ago and the newest Dutch Oven. I have an online friend who used a sanding head on his drill to smooth out his wife's pans. Smart, huh? By the way, you can do the sanding by hand if you're up for it, I guess. Sanding. Hm. Who knew? And I don't know why the heck manufacturers don't do all this smoothing before they sell the skillets. Pre-seasoned? No way.

Like I said, I am looking for easier ways to clean my cast ironware. The newer pans take some work to get them clean and I don't always feel like scrubbing with oil and salt for long enough. While I don't believe in buying special seasoning oils and treatments, (waste of money, in my opinion), when I heard about using chain mail for cleaning these pans, I flipped my wig. I mean chain mail? What?

These are arejust a few examples of the many random ones that popped up on Amazon when I did a search:





That one on the bottom there seems quite popular but it's pricier than the others for some reason. I don't have any idea if the more expensive ones are any better, but I have noticed from reviews and other bloggers that you should look for a chain that is welded. Apparently, a welded chain is more gentle on the pan. Cast iron is pretty tough though, so... I also have read articles s that suggest having a silicone insert is helpful for gripping while cleaning with the chain. Also, the silicone might help in the actual cleaning process. I decided that, if my grandma and my mom had known about it, they would have tried chainmail, so I will give it a shot. I'm still not spending money on any of those special seasoning oils and treatments - or the 11-ounce, $13 bottle of special "scrub" (aka really pricey salt) that I happened to see online. I'm not trying to impress anyone.

Of course, when I decide on one of the scrubbers, I will have to go or the lower-priced model, but I will try to find one with a silicone insert. There are some random videos showing people using chain mail to clean.It looks "oddly satisfying" as fellow Redditors might say.

The other item that could be useful when cleaning your cast iron stuff is agood  scaper. I looked around at some of these and like the idea but want to try the chain first.




(I have to say that while I do love a Lodge skillet, every last one of their accessories is ridiculously pricey!)

 By the way, I will be adding some of these items to the next post I am doing on Un-Christmas Gifts. I think it's a great idea to get people things they need throughout the year instead of trying to buy impressive items for Christmas, birthdays, etcetera. I hope that doing the Anytime Gift lists will encourage people to be thoughtful all year long.

Anyway, that's it and I will, of course, be going a review on whatever chain scrubber I get for the skillets.

Peace
--Free






My sister loved this song and since it would have been her birthday today, I wanted to share it.
Also since it's the season of what we assume to be the birth of the Lord, I think that we need to hear and think about this now more than ever. Let's all try to be great again and then the country will really come together. No matter what you thought of Michael Jackson, he got this so right. Cha-mon, people.




Thursday, December 26, 2019

**REVIEW** Walmart Autumn Classic Beauty Box

I was not super-impressed with this box because, while I appreciate the things I received, there was nothing that wowed me. In the past, I've gotten at least one or two things in a box that really made my day - or something that grew on me after a while.

I've gotten good stuff like the Aquafor spray-on lotion and Pantene foam hair conditioner (Spring 2018). The Winter 2019 box had a cute little cosmetics zip-up bag, Curel Hydratherapy  Lotion that I came to love, and some Garnier face and hair masks that I actually went on to purchase in full-sizes. The Summer 2019 box - probably my least fave before this one - at least had the Blistex Lip Serum that I still use to this day because it turned out to be better than I expected. And this box? Well...



I don't see myself looking back on this and being really thrilled about having any of this stuff.

Here is the breakdown from my favorite to worst...

I might try the Rose Petals scent

I like this for the nice, light feel going on and that there is no strong scent. Out of everything in the last couple of boxes of any kind I've gotten, this is the one product I have put on my shopping list. I like it a lot. Keep in mind that this from the box is an antiperspirant only. I did see on the website that this can be found with deodorant properties added. (UPDATE: I have not been able to find the antiperspirant-only formula on the Walmart site as of 1/12/20)



This Jergens body butter has a really nice rich and creamy texture. I'm not mad about wearing lavender scents during the day, but I do like using this before bed. It would be my Number 1 fave on this list if I had gotten the Sweet Citrus scent... As it is, it's still almost a tie for fave this time.



This Bic razor is nice but it's a repeat. I got one in the Classic Summer 2019 box. I like it because it's affordable luxe and so much better than the cheap razors I tend to use. I'm not hairy so this will last me a while.

So those are my faves. I hate to say it, but nothing else was anything I will even use.


Now, I generally like NYC makeup items. They are cheap and usually cute. Maybe this shade of "Silk Indulgent" would work on someone about 8 shades lighter than I, but...

Maybe it will be a good eyeshadow???

...I can't even show you what this looked like on my mouth because I erased that photo with a quickness! Just picture someone looking "extremely hungry" or "dry as the desert" or portraying a "crack addict". The most horrifying thing is that this stuff has staying power like nothing I have ever seen! Just wiping it off doesn't get rid of the shadow. I had to scrub my lips with coconut oil to get rid of the ghost of Silk Indulgent. Walmart has my profile so I should have at least gotten what the model is wearing (and even that would be too light for me...)

Just look at the extreme chalky-ness that is Silk Indulgent. It reminds me of Kabuki makeup.



<<<<<Goes on Kabuki








           Fades on Kabiki>>>>>>>>>








So, yeah. If only I could find a shade I liked that stayed on so well.

And then there's the last item. I can't say that this is awful because I didn't even bother to try it. It's some of that Collagen Peptide supplement. It's full of amino acids and blah, blah, blah, but I'm not trying to waste70 calories of anything that doesn't have chocolate in it.

yeah, nah

It seems petty of me to complain since these boxes are only $5.00. I was disappointed that this box was so boring after getting such great sets in the past. You can take a look back with me at some of the pretty decent things I got in the other boxes. I guess I have gotten spoiled! I mean, check out what some of the other boxes had in them.

Anyway. I'm going to give away the lip color and peptides. Right now, I am over here waiting for my first Spark Review product - which is a pack of water filters. That's going to be handy if they are any good.

Peace
--Free


Note: I am having to write posts when I can and just pre-schedule most of them down the calendar. If some of the info looks out of sync, you know why!

.


I really like this artist. This song hits me in places.



Monday, December 23, 2019

**REVIEW** SMOK Stick 80W (vape pen)


STOP: this post is ONLY for those of legal age for nicotine use.
See the guide for state-by-state regulations




I hate to keep harping on it, but I am still upset with Voopoo. You might want to skip this little side rant here:

 (That freaking Caliber that I so loved failed me not once but twice. The center pins on those things are too weak and they sink to the point of being useless. Both Calibers I had become unusable because of sunken center pins and Voopoo admitted that they don't recommend the usual fix of using tweezers to lift the pin. Oh, and they had the nerve to tell me that a different tank - from a competitor - might work. My Smok tanks have better-made connections and are now the only thing I have that work with my Caliber. My question to Voopoo is why don't they just make better pins?)

Rant over.

Anyway, why bother getting a Voopoo to use Smok tanks with? Why not just stick to Smok all the way around? That's what I am doing from now on. I'm still using the Caliber battery with my Smok tanks but the vape I have now - battery, body, and tank - is all Smok. This is the boxed Smok Stick 80W:

                                  

       
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

2 years old and still rocking
I prefer pen-style vapes over the boxy types. I still love the crap out of my Veneno but it's a box.


 I love the Stick 80W the way I once loved the Caliber.

Note that the Caliber is a bit smaller in 
height and diameter - and, apparently, quality.

The kit comes with the tank, 2 coils, spare parts (gaskets, etc), user cable and manual. Electric Tobacconist - one of my favorite shops - had it on a color sale for $28.99 (Merry Christmas to me) and the 3-pack replacement coils were $8.24 (and a Happy New Year).

 Here are some highlights:

PROS:

  • Easily adjustable wattage (from 5 to 80W) and adjustable airflow
  • Almost everything about the new Smok TF tank which has it's own multiple positives. (links to a Wendy Vape's video) Best tank feature, IMO, it locks.
  • Holds 6ml of juice which is plenty for most vapers.
  • Comes in nice colors but, as usual, I went with my favorite of Rainbow.
  • Has a nice large firing button that doesn't stick out awkwardly


CONS: 
  • Battery lasts me (a moderate use vaper) all day and some but not so for my friend who chain-vapes. The Caliber beats the Stick 80W on this feature
  • As with most taller stick devices, this one is prone to tipping over. I am careful to use a rubberized tank band.
  • The Stick 80W kit did not come with an extra tank glass. The included glass is that bulb/bowl shape that I only like some of the time
  • The coils are specifically made for drop-in replacements. This means you can't use other random Smok coils. (Still, I do love the drop-in coil feature!)
  • The numbers on the wattage dial are hard to read. They should have done a black font on a white background. The dial is pretty but squint-causing.
Probably the biggest negative.
This photo has been enlarged

For me, the positives outweigh the negatives. I had looked at the FreeMax Twister when it went on sale a while back, but I guess I am just a true Smok-a-holic. The Stick looks better, in my opinion, and it certainly seems to price better everywhere I looked. Plus, I feel comfortable with the quality of the Smok brand and have never used anything from FreeMax. From other reviews I glanced through, there was more attention to detail in making the Stick 80 than with the Twister- like the locking lid vs the loose-lidded Twister.

That's my take on the Smok Stick80W. I'm really glad I got it. My family was asking what they could get me for Christmas and I am thinking of telling them about the beautiful Smok Morph - and, yes, it's a box mod but I am in love.

$37 at VaporRange now

So that's all for now. I do have the quarterly Walmart Beauty Box on the way so I will be back to review that soon.

Peace
-Free









Tuesday, December 17, 2019

The Yummy That Is Umami

With my appetite on the decline, I have been trying to find ways to make rice and veggies more flavorful. I was going overboard on the salt, then I tried using chicken bouillon cubes to add flavor - but basically, that's just chicken-flavored salt. Salt is not my best friend because I have too much Afro-blood in my ancestry.

This right here though... This makes any bland food so savory that it's should be a crime. It's umami seasoning (aka MSG):



Less than $6.50/16oz bag from Ajinomoto brand
And, yes, I have heard all the horror stories about MSG but I, personally, never had negative reactions from eating it in foods prepared in restaurants. I did have a co-worker once who said that MSG triggered her migraines. Do your research. I'm just here to talk about my experience using Umami as a seasoning.

So this is called umami seasoning but I just learned that what Umami actually means. 
Umami (/uːˈmɑːmi/, from Japanese: うま味 [ɯmami]) or savory taste is one of the five basic tastes (together with sweetness, sourness, bitterness, and saltiness). It has been described as savory and is characteristic of broths and cooked meats. (Thank you, Wikipedia)
Don't act like you knew that! Okay, maybe you did, but my ignorant self did not. I do know that whenever I tried to make my fried rice, there was always a little something missing from the flavors. It's the umami. As I joked to a friend, umami, my mami, I don't care, just give me the tasty flavors! (She thought the joke was corny, by the way...)

So, savory is the best word to describe this seasoning that I got (from Amazon, by the way). Instead of adding more salt to my fried rice (or whatever) and being disappointed with that something-is-missing feeling, just add some umami and boom, that's it. 

As I mentioned, I am eating a fairly simple diet of rice and veggies. I love rice and can eat it with just a little butter and salt/pepper seasoning, but that gets old after the first 6 or 20 days. I really needed to cut back on the salt but since I only rarely eat my rice sweetened, I had to change things up. What I've done the past couple of days is using the umami on the veggies that I eat. I can actually eat the rice plain and unseasoned as long as the vegetables have some serious flavor. The umami makes me go all Emeril and yell "Bam!" when I use it.

(By the way, when I was looking at customer reviews of this online, quite a few customers mentioned that this is their salt alternative. I forget that some people have many reasons - other than high blood pressure and weight issues - for cutting back on or cutting out salt in their diets.)

Now, the best thing, in my opinion, about the umami (aside from helping me cut way back on salt), is that I only have to use a little. I was worried that a six- or seven-dollar bag was going to look expensive as compared to salt. You know they practically pay you to take the salt out of the grocery stores. However, I put the umami in a little seasonings container and this small part of the 16-oz bag is going to last for months


That's what I'm guessing. I'll have to update this post when I have a better idea.


The grain of the umami is finer than salt and looks more like tiny crystal shavings if that makes sense. It's so fine that it's hard to see while sprinkling. I labeled the shaker just so no one mistakes it for salt or sugar. My family and friends are welcome to go into my kitchen like it's theirs so I don't want to accidentally make anyone sick.

This is the size of the bag compared to a standard AA-sized battery.






Back to the main reason that I switched to umami and away from salt. This umami has 125mg of sodium per 1/4 teaspoon compared to 590mg in the same amount of table salt. And umami packs so much flavor that I don't need to use as much. I doubt that I have used a quarter teaspoon of umami all day. 

The umami here on the left and the table salt (Hy-vee brand) on the left:


Keep in mind, ladies - less sodium equals less water retention... I'm just saying.

I found this teaspoon serving guide on the back label of the bag and laughed. I seriously do not use that even that much umami.




So, I guess I can just sum up by saying that this stuff came into my kitchen at the right time. This umami even makes eggs taste great. I was so tired of plain rice (and rice that I couldn't season quite well enough) that I was cheating and making rice pudding. Talk about calories... Now I am back to the rice with veggies and other mostly-healthy stuff. The umami (I refuse to call it MSG) is making food good again. Savory is definitely the word here.

At any rate, be sure to make sure that you can tolerate MSG/umami before you go out spending your money. You know better than to dive in unawares.

Peace
--Free





And because I have been so sedentary the last few days, I exercise vicariously through these dancing machines...




choreography by Keone  (and Mari, maybe?) Madrid

And my favorites, the Jabbawockeez

If I could move like this, I'd never stop dancing

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Needed A Break (or one thing or another)

One Thing
I've been taking a break from social media and even this blog. This is the first time in a while that I haven't had any posts off to the side that I could schedule to have something posted in my absence.

I was prompted to dump social media when I went through a bad life event. Only a very few people knew what happened because there are only a very few people who stay in touch outside of social media. It was only after a few weeks that any more people knew what I had been going through and I realized that a lot of friends and family expect news - no matter how painful and personal - to be shared via Facebook. I refuse


this is SO perfectly my mood
to use Facebook (or Instagram, et al) for some things. I have decided that if someone has my phone number or home address, they just won't be hearing about some happenings in my life on Facebook.. So, basically, I now use Facebook and Instagram for the sharing of general information. My life is not for broadcast. At least the Real Housewives get paid for letting the world into their lives.

Anyway. That rant is over.

The Next Thing
Being away from Facebook and Instagram has been pretty awesome. I hadn't realized how much those platforms are like bad carbs: kind of yummy in the moment but with awful payback. I'm still not on the 'Book or the 'Gram but I missed my blog so here I am.

My body seems to be in rebellion. In just about a month's time, I've had 2 colds. The best thing about all that is that I'm down more pounds than when I am actively dieting. How sad is it that this is a life highlight?

On the serious side, I have lost my appetite for most foods. I am going to have to ask my docs about that on the next appointment. For the past I'd say 3 weeks, all I have been able to eat is rice and vegetables. Brown rice and white rice. I just have no taste for anything else. I did lose one of my back teeth - probably from the bone-depleting meds I am on - but losing a tooth has never stopped me enjoying my food! Right now, I could teach a course in ways to eat rice. I've had rice with mixed vegetables, rice with collard greens, rice with bits of ham, rice with soy sauce, rice with egg, rice with creamed soups, rice with vanilla soy milk and nutmeg, and rice with just a little butter and salt and pepper.

I don't think that the mainly-rice diet is hurting me any because I am no more fatigued than usual. I actually think that I feel somewhat better. If I could kick the fatigue and keep my brain halfway straight for ten minutes at a time, I would be a pretty happy gal.

And, yes, I realize that I am kind of rambling here. This is, after all, a catch-up post. So what else has been happening?

I have jumped onto the probiotics bandwagon. I decided to give them a try when I started losing my appetite. I did a little bit of research and tried one brand that worked great but was out of my budget. I am now trying another brand that is both pro- and pre-biotic. They do seem to make my stomach feel better. I am a lot more, ~cough~ regular than normal. So, there's that bit of oversharing of news...

Another Thing
Let's get back to ranting for a moment. Maybe someone out there will be able to relate to this one better and maybe even help me out with some advice. Let me lay this out for you:

I was using my laptop to check my email one day about a month ago. This was right after one of those irritating Microsoft updates that happened when I rebooted the computer. So, I am checking my mail and I  four accounts so I have 4 tabs open, plus I had another tab up to moderate blog comments. After being online for about ten minutes, my computer started making this noise - like the fan (?) was over-revving. It got to the point where the whole computer was vibrating.

Of course, I shut it down immediately. I was afraid that it was overheating or something.

I felt like weeping. One thing I do NOT need right now is computer problems. I just lowered my cellphone bill and cut back on a couple of other bills. There is no way that I can afford to replace my computer. Honestly, I can't even afford to have my computer repaired at this point.

I used some compressed air to clear out any dust and that wasn't the problem. I am very fussy about keeping my computer clean and maintained so I didn't expect dust to be the problem anyway. I decided to just let the computer rest for the time being.

To keep from using the computer until I could figure out what was going on, I use my phone and search for "Why is my ASUS vibrating and making noise" (or it was something like that) and the first useful responses were to do with the latest Microsoft update causing problems.

This is why I am starting to HATE Microsoft. I promise that when I do get another computer, I am going to have someone help me install another operating system.

I won't go into too much detail, but I have tried uninstalling updates, reinstalling them and not reinstalling them. I did a system restore and everything else I could think of. I am just simply pissed and done with Microsoft. I can't wait to get a new operating system.


That's all still up in the air. I will let you know when (if) I get it sorted.

The Last Thing
I was recently in a battle with my mailman. Because I don't have enough crappy stuff going on in my life. 

The problem I was having is that I do most of my shopping online - from groceries to basic household items - and not every retailer uses UPS (or even the less desirable FedEx). Any time I was expecting something via USPS, there was an issue. Last winter, our mailman was pretending that he couldn't "access" the building. Funny how he could access the building to put mail in the wall boxes but had problems delivering parcels that didn't fit in those boxes... Thankfully, the local Post Office is literally across the street from our building, we could pick up our items on the same day. Once we all started to complain every time we walked over to get our parcels, the problem seemed to be resolved. That was last year.

This year - starting a few months back - we all noticed that the same thing was happening. Because I tend to track my parcels and get updates via text message, I came up with a plan. One day when I had a package due, I went up front and parked myself in the lounge so I could accost the mailman. I watched him sort all the mail into the boxes and start to leave. I stopped him and showed him my text and asked if he didn't have that package with him. 

Oh... The look on his face when he had to hand me the package, knowing that when I checked my box there would be one of those non-delivery slips. Yeah. There have been no further problems. Unless that dude goes postal on us.

So anyway, that is what's been happening. Now that I have all that out of my system, I will get back to doing some product reviews and other informative blogging. By the way, I recently was chosen to be one of the Walmart Spark reviewers. I have already put in for the first item so I will definitely do that review here. Also, I did get another vape pen courtesy a Visa gift card someone sent me for Christmas. I will probably do a review on that device. In the meantime, I am glad to be at least somewhat back and online. If my computer doesn't die soon...

Peace
--Free



I fell in love with this when the kids would play the game. Just so soothing.