XNvalue’s 18″ Stainless Steel BBQ Grill Brush (Plus Bonus Tongs!)

One of the things we’ll never not need in this house is a good grill brush, especially because one of the few benefits of 10 months of sunny weather here in Southern California is an extended grilling season. Unfortunately, XNvalue tried to reinvent the wheel here, and their product fell just short of good. The less said about the included tongs, the better.

DSC_1234

To start, the brush has a triple head of thick stainless steel wire that have a very healthy amount of stainless steel bristles attached. So far, so good. In brushing the grill, we noted no bristles falling out or coming loose, because getting those in your food and then lodged in your esophagus would be an absolute nightmare. The handle is large and firm, and the wire that comes out of it doesn’t bend or give under a fair amount of pressure. So why then, you wonder, does it not get a great rating from me? Because for reasons that completely escape me, XNvalue turned the brush head 90 degrees so one has to try to brush side to side, not forward and back like every other grill brush I’ve ever seen or used. I don’t know why or how someone at XNvalue thought this was a good idea. It was awkward and made a perfunctory step in grilling a real chore for me. And again, the included tongs are so short and flimsy that they’re fairly useless, especially for grilling, and went right in the trash.

DSC_1235

I’m all for making a product that everyone needs and trying something new. A quick search of Amazon shows a plethora of these types of brushes, some cheaper, some more expensive. At $18 it’s exactly twice what my old go-to brush costs from Weber. And I just don’t see the value.

DSC_1236

Connect with XNvalue:

 

I received the above product(s) free of charge from XNvalue. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

Advertisements

Gentle Giant Garden Tool’s Titanium-coated Bypass Pruner

I do plenty of gardening, and an absolutely essential tool is a good bypass pruner. A bad one will make the job take forever and give you horrible results. A good set will make whatever task you have fly by. The last one’s I covered here were the former. These Gentle Giant Garden Tool’s pruners are most certainly the latter.

DSC_0538

With a soft and ergonomic grip, these Gentle Giant pruners rocketed to the top of my garden tool list, and are right up there with my Fiskars pruners. They have an adjustable grip that will accommodate small hands like mine or giant man mitts like Hubby’s. The aluminum alloy handle is lighter weight that steel while not sacrificing strength to power through tough, dried rose wood. The steel blade has a coating of titanium to help maintain a sharp cutting edge and resist corrosion. What they market as a selling point, but one that I’m not 100% sold on is the “auto rotating handle”. Supposedly, the idea is that the handle rotates so as to not cause friction on the hands that leads to calluses and blisters. Maybe I just need to get used to it but I found that the rotating handle cause me to not maintain a sure grip on the pruners while cutting larger branches. Plus, I’m always of the opinion that the less “moving parts” on a thing, the less likely something in it will fail.

DSC_0539

Lastly, I must touch on the price. These are fantastic pruners, and I like them a great deal, and they have a “lifetime guarantee” (full disclosure, their website says it’s a 45 day warranty, and you must mail the product with receipt back to them. Compare that to Fiskars who just wants a picture of the damaged item and they ship you a replacement…for the lifetime you own the product. FOr a third of the cost.), but $35 is absolutely bonkers. You can get really good pruners for half that price on Amazon, big box stores, and home and garden centers. For a third of that price you can get some really decent ones with a lifetime, n0-hassle replacement warranty. I don’t see any good reason to charge that much for simple, non-anvil, no ratcheting bypass pruners. The rotating handle might be neat, but I think they have a product that will give the bigger companies a real run for their money if the just knock $15-$20 off the price. And clarify their warranty coverage. At $34.95, they’re shooting themselves in the foot. They’re great pruners, just not $35 great.

DSC_0540

Connect with Till Harvest:

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Till Harvest.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

AGPTek’s LED Solar Motion Sensor Wall Light (New Generation)

ScreenHunter_02 Dec. 03 14.43

LED’s have been making a major push into the US market this past year, and making a huge impact too. With the next generation of LED lights now entering the marketplace and the prices starting to make them not only attractive, but irrefutably budget and environmentally conscious choices. And one of the companies that has made a major splash is AGPTek. They’ve become ubiquitous  with cutting edge technologies at a price point that makes sense. Their LED Solar Motion Sensor light is no exception.

DSC_0555

Gone are the days of the necessity for heavy, bulky cast aluminum or pot metal wall lights, with their aesthetically unpleasing solar or motion-sensor add-ons, and with them are also gone the days of replacing incandescent bulbs every few months, and the waste associated. This wall lantern looks just as snazzy and functions just as well, or better, than most of the budget lamps you can buy in your local big-box store. The light this AGPTek lamp provides is adequate, and not that harsh, bright almost blue/purple light you get from cheaper, poorer quality LED’s. And because the AGPTek lamp is lightweight, it’s mountable on any surface with zero fears of it falling or damaging walls, and because it’s solar powered with a long life lithium-ion battery, there’s no wiring to do, and no hiring an electrician. The motion sensor will pick up moving opjects up to over 25 feet away, so it can also function as a security lamp as well. It’s also waterproof so outdoors lighting is A-Ok. One day’s worth of sunlight provides you an entire evening worth of illumination. And the LED light is good for thousands and thousands of hours, so no more replacing bulbs every few months either.

I was slow to adopt LED lights because of the price and the quality of light, but this last generation of LED’s has won me over in a big way. And AGPTek’s Solar Motion Sensor Wall Lamp, like all it’s products are first rate, are made of quality components and made to last. Priced at $24.99 (It’s no miniature lamp, this a full-size real deal lantern!), you get plenty of bang for your buck. There’s a place in my home for plenty of AGPTek’s products going forward!

DSC_0558

Connect with AGPTeK:

I received the above product(s) free of charge from AGPTeK.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

Garden Products Direct: Premium Goatskin Leather Gardening/Rose Pruning Gloves #Review #GardenProductsDirect

 

DSC_0267

Having a large amount of rose bushes is wonderful and the blooms in Southern California are well enjoyed into December and even sometimes beyond, if the temperatures remain warmer. The one thing that always makes a task easier, is having the right tools to perform it. I have used many garden gloves and one thing many gloves do not provide, is enough support and protection where a thorn from a stem could penetrate. I end up getting stabbed and poked with even gloves on the first use. I have used all materials from the self-curing rubbers, to nylons that have extra thread support. Most I end up using for digging and planting when they fail against even protecting me when I trim the dwarf citrus trees. If they can’t protect me against those thin thorns, my roses are better trimmed bare handed than having to deal with ill forming gloves.

DSC_0268

I was sent a pair of rose pruning garden gloves from Garden Products Direct. These are different to those I have found in the “big box stores”, which tends to think ladies just plant pansies and daisies, so we need zero protection from those thorn-less varieties. Most gloves in stores are thin with beautiful designs and colors, however they really just may keep your hands and nails clean when a manicure is not the only thing I am trying to save. I’m looking for overall protection and finally found a pair that may just be up for the tasks I complete. The premium gloves from Garden Products Direct have:

  • Heavy-Duty but still remain soft so you can bend digits and be able to grasp everything from thorny stalks to soft blooms you want to save to create a vase arrangement.
  • Made with 100% goat grain leather and extra long sleeves, which are made from cowhide. This sleeve/cuff provides extra protection when having to trim between branches.
  • The gloves are designed for working hands, so they remain smaller along the fingers and wrist, but still provide enough dexterity to be able to grasp tools from shovels to clippers.
  • The glove’s material also produces lanolin, which keeps hands hydrated and soft when worn and used.

Retail Price Point: $23.99 and that is the same price point for sizes small through large via Amazon.  The gloves are Unisex and I found the size small fit my hands and arms perfectly.  Due to having short and smaller arms, the glove is loose and longer (goes past my elbow), but I can easily fold the cuff at the end to provide a form fitting that is customized to my size.

 

DSC_0269 (2)

 

Verdict:

The gloves being made from natural leathers/hides will have a odor but nothing out of the norm, and I pretty much associate it with the scents you get from leather-goods, like from wallets, purses, and jackets made of such materials. This is to be expected and it’s not a chemical laden scent, so that was welcoming and was easy to air out by leaving them out overnight in the garage. I ordered a size small because my biggest gripe with gloves has been fit. The fingers are always too long and wide with my former gloves and this ends up frustrating me when I am trying to grasp because I lose that “real feel” when it comes to gardening. I end up over manipulating plants when planting because I lose dexterity when fabrics remain stiff but too thin to even prevent dirt granules from entering and soiling both the inside of my glove and hands. The gloves from Garden Products Direct fit perfectly and allowed my fingers to bend with ease while still remaining protected from dirt and sand. Nothing seeps in because your hands and arms remain protected. I was able to trim bougainvilleas, that tend to be bushy and full of thorns with ease. When I removed the gloves, my hands were spotless and soft. No dirt under my nails and nothing even made it through where the stitching meets, because the gloves are well stitched and made with quality in mind. I shop many stores from nurseries to garden centers and have never been able to locate gloves of this kind. I have found many that look like these, but once you feel them and see how they are stitched to the materials used, they are just gloves that are not made with manual labor in mind. I don’t walk around with a basket filled with flowers to plant and just need protection from soft dirt. I’m the kind of girl that trims palm tree branches, fights with the seed pods Sago palms produce, trims back over 35 rose bushes every winter and the type that does not let rose blooms die on the branch. This means every 3 days, I am even out past sunset trimming roses because even though I love nature, I have the worst seasonal allergies, so I trim when the winds die down a bit. The last thing I need, is frustrations caused by the tools I use and this includes protection type products like gloves. The gloves from Garden Products Direct came with zero frustrations and I must admit that the perk of having zero thorn pokes, jabs, scratches, and punctures is a nice thing that I am not use to experiencing. I admit the gloves not only kept my digits clean from dirt but it was nice removing the gloves and not finding dirt under the fingernails of the fingers I use more when pruning. Even my palm had no abrasions from the clippers because when you start cutting branches, poor fitting gloves cause rubbing, which causes calluses and even blisters. I had none of that, so these work just like they should!

Connect with Garden Products Direct at:

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Garden Products Direct.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

Ohuhu Bypass Garden Pruning Shears

ScreenHunter_04 Sep. 28 20.53

Oh, boy. You know when you have high hopes for a product, and that product not only doesn’t come close, but actually starts to make you angry and far from good it is when it didn’t have to be? That sums up my experience with these Ohuhu Bypass garden pruner. This could have and should have been a slam dunk product, but instead it misses by a country mile and I don’t know what can be done to fix them.

DSC_0140

For starters, the all metal construction should have been a big plus. That means no cheap pot metal or zinc or plastic to fail when you’re deep into a project. Instead, because of the extremely poor ergonomics of the handles, it makes them become heavy and awkward after a short while. Next is this aforementioned handles. The plastic grips twist and slide right off. At first glance the look like molded rubber, but instead they’re just plastic sleeve which offer no palm cushioning and frustrate you no end trying to keep them on or in place.  Next, and most infamously, is the latch that locks the pruners closed. It is so incredibly poorly designed that what it end up doing is getting caught on the spring, or locks the closed at inopportune times, or pops up and keeps the pruners from being able to work properly. After 30 minutes of pruning I had to get my old Fiskars pruner because I wanted to hurl the Ohuhu ones across the yard. It’s just terrible, incredibly frustrating, and amazing that Ohuhu continues to make them this way. They don’t cut through anywhere near the 3/4″ branch size advertised, and it’s due to the poor design and all the flaws and defects. One thing that went from a plus to a minus was the spare blade/spring that came with the Ohuhu Garden Pruner. Unless the blade is broken, I don’t recommend replacing it. The retaining pin, once out, does not stay in for any reasonable amount of time, causing what could amount to a very dangerous situation. These pruners just failed on every point.

DSC_0142

I feel terrible doing this, because Ohuhu makes some truly amazing products that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed and used over and over again. But for $12.99, you could do a whole lot better. There’s a plethora of pruners available from bigger companies at lower price points that don’t have the problems these have. I cannot recommend them and in fact recommend you avoid them entirely. It makes me sad that company like Ohuhu, who’s started to make a name for themselves in my home, put out such a poor product, but every once in a while, even the best companies put out a stinker. It’s a bad product from a good company, and they’d do well to stop offering this product lest it drag their good name down.

DSC_0141

 

Connect with Ohuhu:

I received the above product(s) free of charge from .  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

Ohuhu Solar Landscape Lights, 8-Pack

ScreenHunter_04 Sep. 28 20.53

I’ve been trying to “finish” my landscaping for the last, oh, lets say decade or so, and while some areas are just the way I want them, others seem to be a continual “work in progress”. Like in the area of lighting. While the old standard of running a bunch of low-voltage line everywhere was fine in places, how many of us have electrical outlets 40 feet from the house?! And the longer you run low-voltage line, the dimmer the farthest lights get. Solar lights seemed to be my savior, but until recently they were very utilitarian, lacked any real flair, and didn’t stay lit long. And they were expensive. Then Ohuhu came in to save the day again with their 8-Pack of Solar Landscape Lighting, all for only $27.99? Sounds too good to be true!

DSC_0163

This 8-Pack of Solar Lights is a simple and affordable way to provide accent lighting all around your yard, your pathways, your garden, and even your driveway, all without ever having to worry about whether the cord will reach an electrical outlet. They’re weather resistant, so your sprinklers should give them no issues. The units are made entirely of plastic, and the stakes aren’t the strongest, so don’t try putting them in any particularly hard ground. They have a single, bright white (almost blue) LED that shines bright enough to give a decent halo of light around them. Ohuhu says they’re good for up to 8 hours on a full charge. And while the looked nice and initially lit well and stayed lit throughout most of the night, I found as time went on that the lights dimmed quicker and quicker, and went out earlier and earlier. Hubby broke them down and might have come up with a reason why: The rechargeable battery used to power the units is a paltry 600 mAh nickel-metal hydride AA cell. That’s a really low powered battery, and despite Ohuhu’s claims of “dusk ’til dawn” capabilities, there’s very little chance of that being possible with so small a battery. But, placed in a full-sun area, you are looking at a good 4-6 hours of really attractive light, anywhere you want to place it!

So while I think there’s some room for improvement, this last generation of solar lighting has really changed my tune as to it’s viability and usefulness around the house and yard. Ohuhu continues to surprise me with the quality of product you get for the money, and the Ohuhu 8-Pack of Solar Landscape Lighting is no exception! And Ohuhu’s
30-day Money Back Guarantee & Full 12-month Replacement Warranty means there’s really nothing to lose!

DSC_0166

Connect with Ohuhu:

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Ohuhu.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

AGPtek Lighting Waterproof Mood Ball by Foober US

ScreenHunter_02 Sep. 25 16.06

These cooler fall nights are just what the doctor ordered after a blistering finish to a hot SoCal summer, and that means dinner in outside int he waning light, night swims and lights, lights, and more lights. I never thought much about “decorating” the surface of the water of our pool, especially since so much money and effort is spent keeping it crystal clear! To say I was intrigued by this Foober “mood” ball would be an understatement.

 

It’s just what it says it is: A lightweight, color changing ball that floats along the surface of the water. It’s watertight and runs on just two little button-cell cr2032 batteries. It is a little difficult to open at first, because it’s sealed so tight, but that’s better than being loose and letting water in to fry the little circuit board inside. About the size of a softball, in the day time it doesn’t look like much, but once the sun sets it really comes to life. It will only work in water, so don’t think you can fudge it an have it in a planter or something. A single ball tend to get lost in a moderate to  large pool, so if you really want a cool effect, be sure to pick up a few! Though at $7.99 for one, I would like it to be around the $4.99 mark, because while it is neat to look at, it’s very small and is the very textbook definition of “novelty” light.

DSC_0233

There could be numerous applications for in the home, too, like filling a wide-mouth vase with a little water and letting this little guy float under some flowers. It’s an energy efficient LED that gives this little Mood Ball his light, and ensures that it will last a good, long while before needing to replace the batteries. A neat little bauble for those nights under the waning light.

Connect with AGPtek:

I received the above product(s) free of charge from AGPTek.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

 

Hooley Dooley Extendable Roasting Forks for Grilling

Now that summer is coming to a close as a season, everyone is looking to try to squeeze the most out of the season’s waning days and create lasting memories. Bonfires on the beach and barbeques in the backyard are the orders of the day. And a staple of all those things are hot dogs, sausages, roasted marshmallows, peppers, onions, squash, and corn on the cob. And one thing all those delicious goodies has in common with each other are the roasting sticks you’d use to cook, grill and toast them. And Hooley Dooley sent me a set of skewers to end all skewers, all full of chrome and hardwood handles and a nifty little carry pouch to go from the BBQ to the beach and make you the belle of the ball.

DSC_0261

Skewers and kabobs are regular fare in this house, regardless of the season. In California, the weather is usually fair enough that we can have a BBQ all year round, so these Hooley Dooley Roasting Sticks will see a lot of action. From kielbasa, sausages, hot dogs, or just hunks of seasoned meats, these forks are by far the most useful BBQ skewer we own. See, our old stainless steel skewers were durable, and usable, but being as they were skewers and not forks (an important distinction), food tended to turn, slide and sometimes even fall off. They got very hot, and were awkward to hold being steel from top to bottom. But Hooley Dooley put a nice, big hardwood handle that’s easy to grab and easy to hold. But that’s not even the best part. Our old skewers were about 16″ which put your hand in very close the fire. Hooley Dooley solved that issue with an extendable fork that starts at 20″ and extends to a whopping 28″. So whether it’s a bonfire or a Weber kettle, your food gets cooked and your hand doesn’t. And the build quality will ensure these will last for many, many years.

DSC_0262

But there’s one issue I had, and it makes me feel like a broken record, because at $37.50 for four BBQ forks, it’s very, very expensive. I think they’re well made, and useful, and would make a great gift, but at almost $40 for the set it’s, for me, a deal breaker. I don’t see the value there, especially when similar sets run half that price. Hooley Dooley says that a portion of the proceeds goes to “Relay for Life Fundraising”, but they don’t say how much of any other documentation to support it. There’s also a 100% satisfaction guarantee, but again doesn’t say for how long or if return shipping is your responsibility. There’s a lot to like about Hooley Dooley’s Roasting Forks, but not enough to overlook the super high price. I like them, but I don’t know if I “$40” like them.

DSC_0260

Connect with Hooley Dooley:

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Hooley Dooley.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

Davaon Premium 8-Pattern Garden Hose Nozzle

ScreenHunter_04 Sep. 09 15.50

One of the things I love almost as much as cooking and baking is gardening. As much as the outdoors hates me, with my fair skin and allergies, I love it and all the beauty it provides. And while some see watering as a chore, I look at it as feeding all my little green and colorful lovelies so they can grow up big, beautiful and strong. What is essential to that is good tools, like a well made hose nozzle. So it was serendipitous that Davaon offered me their Premium 8-Pattern Garden Hose Nozzle to try out.

DSC_0263

To start, it’s metal construction with overmolded slip resistant plastic shell is a joy to hold. It’s heavy enough that you can feel t’s well made, but no so much that it becomes heavy in the hand after a long while. It has 8 patterns to spray, including all the favorites: Shower, center, cone, flat, vertical, stream, mist, and full. “Stream” and “full” were almost indistinguishable, and “center” was a much wider pattern than I’m used to. The bezel that rotates to select the pattern is unidirectional, which is a first for me, as all the hose nozzles I’ve used before turned both ways, so that took some getting used to. Also, the bezel stores a good little but of water, so it appears the nozzle leaks, but further inspection and testing told me it didn’t. The Davaon Premium Garden Hose Nozzle also has a flow control knob at the back, which lets you adjust the flow of water from minimal to maximum. Perfect for delicate plants and flowers that appreciate a good soaking, but that I don’t want to look like I turned a firehose on them. Davaon even backs their nozzle with a 100% Money Back Satisfaction guarantee, but the time from for this guarantee is unspecified. I’ve had some really crappy hose nozzles in past. From big companies, and in one form or another, they’ve almost all fallen way short. From construction to materials to performance. I’m happy to report that this Davaon Premium All-Metal 8-Pattern Hose Nozzle fell short in none of those categories. In fact, it excelled in all three.

DSC_0264

Unfortunately, I must touch on something that seems to doom many of these truly wonderful products: Price. Look, I like to support the little guy as much as is feasible. I’ll spend a little more for a “mom-n-pop” shop than I would at Home Depot or some other big box store. But at $19.99 for this nozzle, even being “premium”, I can’t justify it. Hubby bought me an Orbit 5 piece watering set a couple years ago from Costco. Three all metal nozzles, two of which were multi-pattern and one was a wand, with solid brass “quick connect” collets. All for about $15. The same type of nozzle alone, also all metal and 8 patterns, can be had for around $5-$7 from Orbit, Gilmore, or really, anyone. That makes $19.99 for this one nozzle seem…untenable. Guys, you need to come close to the big boys if you want to compete! I want to support you, and I’d gladly pay A few bucks more to do so, but almost 4 times the amount? I’m sorry, I just can’t. I like this nozzle. It’s the equal in every way to my all metal Orbit one. But the price is just too high, premium or not.

DSC_0265

Connect with Davaon:

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Davaon.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

 

LifeWell Technologies Aluminum Garden Trowel

lifewellGP

Going back to the garden, I like hand tools best. Not only are they easier for me to use and control but they are a little more intimate than Hubby’s larger, more rugged tools. And when LifeWell Technologies offered me their aluminum Garden Trowel, I was thrilled. I’ve had a few different garden trowels, of various materials and build qualities, and almost all were found to be lacking. They’d bend, break, rust, or just plain fall apart and fail me. Usually mid-job, and nothing will frustrate a gal more. LifeWell Technologies claims this is “The Best Trowel You’ll Ever Buy”. Bold words. Let’s see if they live up to them.

IMAG3361

LifeWell Technologies Garden trowel looks to solve all of those previously mentioned issues. Rust? Pffft. It’s made of aircraft grade aluminum, polished to a flawless chrome-like finish. The edge is sharp enough to dig clean through rocky, uneven ground with no issue. Bending? A thing of the past, what with the thick, robust neck and full tang handle. Break? Did I mention that it’s made of aircraft-grade aluminum? This LifeWell Technologies trowel shouldn’t break even under heavy loads and stresses. So now that we’ve established that this trowel is better than all my past trowels, lets get into how it’s been so overbuilt that it became my favorite.

IMAG3363

A lot of trowels I’ve owned have been just a straight wooden handle, with little thought given to ergonomics or comfort. This LifeWell Technologies Garden Trowel has a handle clearly made by someone who has used the before and knows exactly when one puts their fingers and thumb. It has a rubberized non-slip coating too, that not only reduces hand strain my being slightly padded, but means your damp or wet hand won’t go sliding down the handle and crash painfully into the spade. It even has a slightly elongated tip if you need to pound the trowel past a tough root or two. It’s even a bright and attractive neon green that means your not going to lose it in the grass or tall shrubs. It’s not so heavy that you get hand fatigue but not so light that you think it’ll break on the first rock it hit. “Built like a brick ‘out’house” Hubby would say, although not so politely. I think I’ve found the garden tool I won’t be sharing with Hubby. This green beauty is all mine. As for LifeWell Technologies boast of this being the best trowel I’ll ever buy, it might well be, as well as the last  trowel I’ll ever need to buy. Well done, LifeWell Technologies.

IMAG3362

Connect with LifeWell Technologies:

I received the above product(s) free of charge from LifeWell Technologies.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

Previous Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: