Review Archive

Shoes for working retail (a review)

Posted November 26, 2017 By Ruth

I’ve griped before about trying to find shoes that fit me, that are comfortable, that have ankle support, and that can hold up to not only the pounding of retail, but specifically the pounding of working retail at Home Depot.

Home Depot is hell on shoes.  Those ugly commercial tiles that most stores have down do actually make a difference in how long my shoes last.  Shoes that last for months and months at most places barely last 3 months at HD.  That straight up concrete is hell on shoes, feet, and joints.

Doing some research and talking with long term HD employees a couple things stood out.  1: I needed at least two pairs of shoes to swap between, as in every  other day swap.  And 2: it might be worth checking out quality hiking shoes, several folks recommended them.

So off I went to a couple different local sporting goods stores.  The next problem was that I wanted high tops without actually getting BOOTS, and I have wide feet (for my foot length) due to having spent my life on my feet.

I ended up with a pair of Ahnu Montara boots, and a high topped set of Keen shoes (I forget which style).  The Keen’s came in wide (so I bought them in size 7), the Ahnu’s didn’t, but I only had to go up 1/2 size to get a decent fit (size 7.5).  I figured that the width on the Keens would be the key factor, but I was wrong.  The Keen’s weren’t bad shoes.  But the Ahnu’s not only broke in faster (with zero hot spots or blisters despite a longer footbed), but remained more comfortable for far longer than the Keens did.  And when the Keens finally died they died all at once and were hell to wear.  The Ahnu’s I could have gotten away with for a bit longer if I’d had to.  I got a solid year’s worth of comfortable wear out of the Ahnu’s, and a year of wear out of the Keens, though I’m hesitant to call it a solid year’s worth of comfortable.

The local Gander Mountain was closing back end of spring/beginning of summer, so I swung through there to see what they had left.  A set of Ahnu Montara’s in a different color caught my eye, but they only had them in size 8.  I tried them on and walked in circles for several minutes in them before deciding to buy them anyway.  A set of Red Wing Irish Setter boots caught my eye, and they had them in 7.5, and they fit and weren’t uncomfortable at first try, so I grabbed them too.

That was May, if I recall right.  Once again the Ahnu’s required essentially no break in period, the extra half size length of the foodbed has caused me no problems.  The Red Wings did, and have remained far less comfortable than the Ahnu’s all the way across the board.  The addition of cheap gel soles under my prescription insoles helped some, but not enough.

For various reasons I’ve basically not worn either pair for the last month except for a few hours here and there.  Black Friday I wore the Ahnu’s for an 8hr shift.  Saturday I wore the Red Wings for an 8hr shift.  Friday, my feet hurt a bit, but thats normal enough after that sort of day.  Saturday I came home with serious hotspots and not quite blisters, and seriously sore feet and ankles and knees.

Today I’m shopping for Ahnu Montara boots.  As I’d hoped several places (including the official website)  have them on very nice sale.  I intend to buy at least two pairs.  And hope and pray that the folks who own the brand never ever change them!  The Red Wings are being relegated to wear around the house work boots.

The Ahnu Montara’s are very lightweight in comparison to every other hiking shoe and boot I tried.  The soles held up very well to the abuse that is HD, though some hiking reviews say they don’t always for things like rock climbing.  I can’t speak for the original insoles as I replace them with my prescription ones.  The soles are soft, but not thin.  They do allow you to feel everything you step on, which is a bit weird till you get used to it.  On the other hand I have yet to slip on wet concrete in them, even in the year old ones!

I was not in any way paid for this review, all the shoes mentioned were bought with my own money.

Kyocera Brigadier

Posted February 9, 2016 By Ruth

So, I got this phone almost a year ago, so this is the not quite year in review.

I still really like it.

The biggest issue so far has been the port covers.  In order to make it properly water and crud proof it has these little hard plastic covers that cover all of the ports (charging/USB port, headphone jack), and these covers are attached to the phone by little plastic hinges.  I’ve managed to tear the USB port cover off its hinge.  And my Husband has come close to tearing off the headphone jack cover on his.  Now, this doesn’t mean that the cover doesn’t go back on, cause it does, infact it snaps back into place no problem.  But it does mean that every time I have to charge (or sync) my phone I have to remove this little tiny piece of plastic, that’s smaller than the fingernail on my thumb, and NOT LOSE IT.  I have so far managed, but I can see that being an issue in the future.

And I have to add that Android Lollipop and this phone….well, they work together, but not well.  Mind, I’m positive the problem is Lollipop and not the phone, as I know several other Android users, with different phones, who had issues with Lollipop, but still.

Having said all of the above, this phone is awesome.  I’ve dropped it onto solid concrete, from several feet in height, on multiple occasions, and the phone is still just fine.  No scratches, or dings.  Heck, the screen didn’t even flicker!  Not sure I’d want to try letting a car run it over, but it has held up to every bit of abuse so far with not even a blink.

In addition, the gripes I keep seeing in reviews about the camera…..


That is one of the first pictures I ever took with this phone.  Those are ice crystals on the front porch railing.  No photoshop.  I didn’t even have to fiddle with the camera settings.  This is not a bad camera.  Not even a little!

I will say, the phone’s ability to tell when it needs to turn on the flash to take a picture is more iffy than I’d like, but that’s not exactly the end of the world either.

Overall I’d highly recommend this phone!

Long Pie Pumpkin, thoughts and review

Posted October 11, 2015 By Ruth

According to the internets, the Long Pie Pumpkin was brought to the USA sometime in the 1800’s, where it was dubbed the Nantucket Pumpkin.  Sometime after it was dubbed the Long Island Pie Pumpkin, which was in turn shortened to Long Pie Pumpkin.  Apparently they were quite popular in Maine for a while.  Anyone with grandparents from the area who gardened who might be able to confirm that?  I’m curious.  Supposedly lore states that they were “stacked up like firewood” for storage.  I can believe that.  I paraphrase, there are several pages out there with the history written out if you hit google and do a search for the Long Pie Pumpkin.

Like many heirloom varieties they faded in popularity as the general public was taught to expect pumpkins to be round and “normal” looking.  However they have qualities that make them potentially ideal for growing in colder climates and shorter seasons, on top of being a tasty pie pumpkin with almost no “stringy-ness”, as well as storing well.

They’re listed as having an approx 95-105 day growth period.  Actual reality is that the time spent on the vine can be quite a bit shorter than that implies.  These pumpkins can be picked as soon as the “ground spot” turns orange (from yellow).   Pick that green fruit, store in a cool place for long term storage, or in a warmer place for faster ripening, and they’ll continue to ripen just fine off the vine.

And my own experience backs that up.  I planted out my seedlings in Mid-May.  Admittedly we were having an abnormally warm spring and summer, but I could have picked the first “ripe enough” pumpkins before the end of July.  Two months to produce fruit that could be picked and stored for future use.  Now I left mine on the vine to ripen since we were having a decent summer.  I pulled 6 little (orange) pumpkins off the vines that died early, but left the 4 big ones to finish up.  Picked them back at the end of August/beginning of Sept.  Here’s a photo of 3 of them:


The biggest of those three was 13.5 inches long and weighed in at 5.5 pounds.  Not a bad size for a pie pumpkin!

The little pumpkins had a fairly soft skin and were easy to cut up for cooking and pureeing.

The big ones?  OMG.  I ended up resorting to a clever and soft headed 3lb mallet to get through the rind.  THAT worked quite well.  Every other knife I tried?  Barely scored the skin, no matter how sharp it was.  So if you grow these, be warned, vine ripened fruit have one hell of a rind!

That biggest pumpkin got processed first, so I kept track.  I removed 1.5lbs of seeds/guts and stem ends before putting them into the oven to bake.  When I pulled it back out of the oven I had 2 3/4lbs of puree.  Not a bad harvest!  However that’s where I hit my next problem.

I’ve not processed a lot of whole pumpkins, but I’ve done a few.  Cut them in half, gut them, place them face down on a baking sheet with a pan of water in the bottom of the oven, and bake at 400degrees till you can pierce the skin with a fork.  Right?

That hard rind struck again.  Instead of softening, like every other pumpkin I’ve done, it hardened even further while the flesh softened and fell off.  I over baked that first pumpkin by at least 20 minutes because I didn’t realize what was happening.  Not a big deal, the puree tastes fine, but consider this your heads up!  Now, I haven’t processed the other larger pumpkins, so I can’t swear that it wasn’t something I did wrong, but still….

Very tasty flesh.  Not sure how to compare it to other pie pumpkins as I don’t have a ton of experience with others, but definitely tasty!  I will absolutely grow them again, and will highly recommend them to other folks looking for a pumpkin to grow in a cold/short season summer!

Mumble gripe grumble

Posted December 31, 2013 By Ruth

So, it turns out that the camera only records if a computer has the IE browser window open to the camera’s IP address…..

This makes no sense.  All that is part of the firmware, the access is JUST to modify the settings, nothing is loaded onto the computer, but if that window isn’t open the camera doesn’t record.  How annoying is that??

So, if I have to leave a computer running something for the camera then I’m going to look at the some of the 3rd party software’s that are supposed to work (and add extra options) to the camera.  I’ve downloaded 4 different trial versions to try, and I’ll update with my final choice once I make that decision.


Edit: I never did update this.  We settled on the Blue Iris software.  Though the most expensive of the ones I tried it was also by far the most versatile of the bunch.  Not the easiest to use, it took some fiddling, but once I figured it out I’ve been quite happy with it since!

Foscam Camera review–Update

Posted December 27, 2013 By Ruth

Original post here..

As stated in my update of my original post I called Foscam and received instructions on how to send it in for repair or replacement.  I received the new replacement camera on Monday 12/23/13, and set it up immedietly.


This one definetly fuctions better.  Its not rebooting or anything of the like.  And with fairly minor tweaking of the settings we managed to capture a video of exactly what we wanted to capture:



you don’t see her till towards the end.  Based on the the tracks in the driveway she came in very close to the right hand fence, and must of triggered the camera as she did so, but since it takes a good second or two to “wake up” it missed her entrance, only showing her when she came back across.  I’ll take it.  Now if I can tweak the settings so that we’re not ALSO getting video triggered by the majority of the cars going by……

(For those of you saying “wtf?  Its a dog??”, yes it is, and she belongs to the folks who’s house is just visible across the street.  They swear she’s trained to stay in their yard…..)

I will however say, I never did get a response to the email I sent them via the tech support contact page on their website.  And I ALSO, since sending them that email, have received a sales email from them EVERY SINGLE DAY except for Christmas.  So although I’m reasonably happy with their product, and their support via PHONE was great, their basic customer service sucks.

Initial Review: Foscam FI8910W Wireless Camera

Posted December 3, 2013 By Ruth

So, my mom sent me an Amazon gift card for my birthday.  Love those things, and she knows it.  So, I’ve been wanting a wireless “webcam” for a while.  Partially to watch the bird feeders when I couldn’t be there, and partially to catch the neighbor’s dog(s) in the act (on my property) so I can hand more proof to Animal Control.  I’d poked around and settled on the Foscam FI8910W camera as an inexpensive model that would likely do what I wanted.

It arrived Wednesday, and I spent several hours setting it up.  It shouldn’t have taken that long.  The biggest issue is that although the packaging says it’ll connect via Wireless B/G/N and my router supports all of those AND (supposedly) features a “mixed” setting so as to support all of those at once, the camera refused to connect.  None of my other wireless devices had that problem, but the camera did.  I had to set it to one of the options in order to get the camera to connect.  But it took me a while to figure out why the router could see the camera but the camera said it wasn’t connecting.

It also kept rebooting itself, which was annoying as heck.  But updating the firmware seemed to fix that.  

I set it up at first without any recording, just to see how it would work to view from.  Quickly decided that with the bird feeders placed where they were it wasn’t going to work to watch the birds, but it would work fine to keep an eye out for the neighbor’s dog.  I debated moving the bird feeders.

Thursday it started rebooting itself constantly again.  A factory reset fixed that problem this time.  I was starting to get a bit peeved.

Sunday morning, it had worked fine Friday and Saturday after the reset, so I decided to go ahead and set up the motion detection and recording options.  Discovered that it only detected motion in the center of its viewing window.  Thats a bit annoying, but its hardly an expensive camera, so I guess I get what I pay for.  Adjusted the viewing angle to cover the driveway better so as to catch what we wanted to catch.  Debated moving the bird feeders.

Sunday afternoon it started rebooting itself constantly.

I unplugged it and sent an email off to Foscam’s tech support.  As of now (Tuesday morning) they’ve not responded, but I’m willing to give them a little time at least to catch up from the holiday weekend.  If I haven’t heard from them by tomorrow though I’ll just call them (since I’ll have time tomorrow during business hours).  

Current review: less than impressed.  At least some of the problem IS that I was looking for an in-expensive camera, if I was willing to drop more cash on the problem I’m sure some of the issues wouldn’t be issues.  On the other hand the whole thing has turned into an exercise in frustration.  We’ll see what tech support says……

(disclaimer, I bought the above mentioned camera with my own money/gift certificate, I was not asked to do a review and am receiving nothing for doing so.  The above link to Amazon IS via my Amazon Associates link, and if you buy something via that link I’ll earn a few cents.)


UPDATE 12/5/13 I called tech support yesterday, and after explaining the problem, and what I’d done to fix it, was informed it definetly has a mechanical issue and they will replace it.  I received the RMA info along with return instructions in my email today.  So hopefully we’re good to go!  I will however say that it is QUITE frustrating to give a company my email as part of a tech support request, and to then get a sales email for every single day since, and still not get a response to the tech support email.

Additional update HERE.

Soap and stuff

Posted June 19, 2011 By Ruth

So lets see, I’ve used the samples of the Peppermint Foot Butter, and the Yuzu Body Butter, the Vanilla Solid Lotion, and opened the bar Beer soap. 

Now I’ve never used body butters before, usually stick with lotion, so I was surprised with how greasy they were at first, but it soaked in very quickly, and a little research tells me thats normal for body butters.  LOVED the pepermint one, but the Yuzu was a bit to citrisy for my taste.  It would be fine if you’d don’t mind citrus, but it was a bit much for me, though the scent faded quickly enough that it wasn’t the end of the world.  I will be getting more peppermint though next time I order, my feet are going to love me next winter!

The vanilla solid lotion has a bit of bite to its scent, not bad, just a bit startling at first, but it goes on nicely (for solid lotions, you warm them up for a few seconds in your hands, then rub on the area you want covered).  The puppy thought so too as he was determinedly licking it off my elbows as I was trying to rub it in.  It doesn’t leave much of a residue on the skin afterwards which was nice (I didn’t feel the need to wash my hands afterwards before I touched anything like I do with some lotions).

The beer soap is, as advertised, free of scent.  Which doesn’t mean it doesn’t smell, just that it smells like fresh clean soap (and not those fake “clean fresh” scents that you get in your laundry detergent).  Its not drying out my skin, but is doing a good job and keeping me clean.  Always nice.

As already stated I tried the Vanilla Lip Balm pretty much as soon as I opened the box, and I quite enjoy it, I think the only change I’m going to suggest to her is to add some mild SPF protection to the mix, as I prefer my lip balms contain such after having had sunburned lips as a kid (so not cool, let me tell you!).

The coffee soap, as I mentioned before, isn’t available on her website.  Its one of her original recipes, and easily the best thing I’ve ever run across for removing odor and residue off skin without excessive drying (though the beer soap is doing a good job at that too, so we’ll see).  Its not scented, and is the chocolate brown of lightly creamed coffee.  When I asked if I could get some for this order (since its not on the website) she admitted that she had lots around the house, as her family agrees with me, and she’s not allowed to run out.  She’s trying to reformulate it with a different oil so she can sell it on the website, but the lard appears to be a significant part of what makes this soap work so well and so hasn’t had any luck.

The Pink Sage soap sample has been placed in the 2nd bathroom by the litter boxes.  Its doing a very good job of neutralizing their odor, and the litter box odor is doing a very good job of neutralizing the very strong scent of the soap.  My intention is to let it air out for a few weeks and then see if I can tolerate it enough to give a review on it, as it is its just to strong for me to spend significant time around (but then I’m sensitive to scents, your mileage may vary).

If you decide to place an order and want to try a bar of the coffee soap don’t be afraid to ask her, just tell her Ruth sent you though or she’ll be going nuts trying to figure out how you found out about it!

Got my soap order.

Posted June 15, 2011 By Ruth

I posted a while back about how a friend of mine had finally opened a webstore to sell her soaps and other skin care stuff.  So a few weeks ago I put together some spare cash and placed an order.

I got a couple bars of the Guinness Beer Soap (cause it sounded too cool not to try).  A bar of Dirty Dog Soap. Two tins of the Vanilla Bean Solid Lotions. I also ordered a custom soap log of spearmint & eucalyptus scent.  And two bars of her coffee soap (which is not on the website because it requires lard and shes trying to cater to the vegi/vegan group, she’s trying to reformulate it to use a different oil, but hasn’t had any luck).  She also (by prior agreement) sent me samples of the Sensitive skin Facial Mask, Peppermint Foot Butter, Yuzu Body Butter, Vanilla Cookie Lip Balm, Pink Sage Soap, Chocolate Mint Soap, and the Dead Sea Mud Soap.

Everything arrived today, and it smells awesome.  The only one I’m likely to have an issue with is the Pink Sage because it contains lavender and I’m allergic, but its worth trying.  The custom soaps (which I intend to use both for myself, and for gifts), smell just like I hoped they would, and the lip balm is heavenly.  I’ll try to remember to post my thoughts and reactions on the rest as I use them.

Just a note, though she’s generally more than willing to do custom orders for soaps you’ll need to be prepared to buy the whole log, and remember that it’ll take longer to get since the soap has to set before its hard enough to ship out (ie: 2 to 4 weeks). 

***Disclaimer:  The owner of Beach Baby Bath & Body and I have known each other for a while, and she’s been sending me samples of various stuff for a long time because I have some odd allergies and she figured I was a good way to test things out.  As stated above some of this order I paid for, and some she voluntarily included for me to try.  I get no payment for trying those samples other than the enjoyment of the products themselves.  Any review of these products, those I paid for and those I didn’t, will be as honest and complete as I can make it.