Archive for September, 2007

Product Name: Olympus S71 BLUE Microcassette Voice Recorder
Rating: 6
Where to buy:  Amazon.com

Description: The Olympus S71 Blue Microcassette Voice Recorder is a mini tape recorder. This hands free voice activated recorder includes a cassette and batteries.  There is also a built in front speaker, mic and an earphone jack. 

Review:  This recorder is perfect for the student in your home.  It is very compact so it easy for them to carry in a book bag or even their pocket.  Your student can carry this to class and be able to record the lecture for the day.  Once the day is done and it’s homework time, the days lecture is right there for their convenience and they don’t miss a single word.

It is very easy to use.  The buttons are large enough to make working them a snap.  It is accurate because it records and plays clearly.  There is no static noise to interfere with what is being recorded. Also the voice control allows for sensitive sound pickup.  So if a teacher speaks a little low, this recorder won’t miss it.

The dual tape speeds are also great.  With this feature you can take your 30 minute cassette put the recorder on ½ speed and be able to record a whole hour worth of material. 

The color is navy blue so it doesn’t clash with anything, which will make your daughter happy nor is it an embarrassing color for your male student.

Criticism:  There are a couple of set backs to this recorder though.  It doesn’t have a standard size port for the headphones.  You will need an adaptor to use regular earphones.  It also does not hook into your computer.  There is no tape counter and when you rewind the cassette the recorder will not tell you when it is fully rewound.  If you are like me you’ll forget and then wonder why it’s been setting there so long and not doing anything.


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While stress is the leading cause of serious health conditions, there are ways in which we can alleviate the every day stress in our lives.  Here are some stress relievers you can incorporate into your daily life.

  1. Meditation – Utilize a room in your home that is quiet and void of distractions.  Sit on a floor mat with legs folded, back straight, hands palm up on legs.  Clear your mind.  Begin breathing in and out slowly.  Focus only on your breathing.  Before you know it the stress will leave your body and you will become relaxed and energized.
  2. Exercise – Any form of exercise will release endorphins in your brain and alleviate any ongoing stress.  Stretching, however, can relieve stress by engaging in a few exercises in your home.  For example, stand with knees slightly bent, arms out-stretched, and then slowly bring your arms in toward your body in a circular motion.  Think of carrying a large basket in your arms and moving it close to your body.
  3. Walking – 20 minutes of walking can create a wonderful and relaxing state of mind.  You can literally work off the stress and feel relaxed and full of energy after a brisk walk.  Walking in the park also affords you the opportunity to commune with nature and the environment.
  4. Writing – If you are not into exercise, another way to get rid of whatever is causing the stress is to keep a daily journal.  Write down your thoughts and feelings as a way of releasing the negativity within.  It is a catharsis that does dissipate stressful thoughts.  There is another way to relieve the stress, and it does work.  Write down a stress-induced feeling on a piece of paper and then put it into an ashtray and burn it.  Dissolving it into ashes releases the burden.
  5. Music – Music does calm the savage beast.  Whether you are driving, at work or at home there is nothing that can alleviate stress more than soothing music.  Whether it is classical, instrumental or sounds of the waves.  Utilize this stress-relieving technique as often as you can.
  6. Yoga – There are many forms of yoga available today.  There is, however, a new method called Qi Gong (pronounced Chi Gong), which has become very popular.  It encompasses slow movements, which allows you to focus on your breathing and relaxes you immediately.
  7. Dancing – This is another stress reliever that anyone can participate in.  Put on your favorite CDs and dance away.  It is not only great for the heart, but the workout alone will energize you and is a fun exercise as well.
  8. Shopping – This may sound a bit odd, but a trip to the mall can help reduce stress.  You become so busy looking at the latest fashions that you forget about you and concentrate on what you can purchase.
  9. Play, Musical, Symphony or the Opera – Perhaps the one thing you haven’t done is treat yourself to a night on the town.  Everyone needs a break once in a while, and one of these forms of entertainment can put you in a great mood immediately.
  10. Tea – Sometimes, making a cup of brewed tea such as chamomile can alleviate stress.  Its properties will calm and soothe and it does reduce stress levels.  Have a cup during the day or before going to bed. A peaceful sleep awaits you.

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Baby’s first birthday – Can you believe it?  It’s hard to believe that your baby is walking, eating table food, and beginning to speak. Baby has developed a unique personality during this year and is not afraid to express it.

Need some scrapbooking ideas on how to make this 1st birthday page special?

Picture Ideas:

  • You must have a picture of baby wearing a party hat.
  • Snap a picture of baby with each party guest.
  • Randomly take photos of baby interacting with all the new people in the house.
  • Take a picture of the beautiful birthday cake before and after you light the candle.
  • Take a wide shot of all the party guests singing “Happy Birthday” to baby.
  • As daddy shows baby how to blow out the candle, keep the cameras clicking.
  • Baby can help you with the present pictures by ripping the wrapping paper off.

Scrapbooking Ideas:

  • Scrapbook paper with a background of balloons will do. Use a glue stick to make streaks on the sides of the page. Shake birthday confetti on the page and pour off the excess. Crop the party pictures into big squares.
  • Cut photos in the shape of balloons, cakes, or the number one.
  • Create small bows from baby’s wrapping paper and put one on top of each picture to turn them into presents. The title of this page would be “Baby’s First Birthday.”

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Product Name:  Jump-O-Lene Castle Bouncer
Submitted by:  Emily Howard; Cincinnati, OH
Rating:  8
Where to buy:  Amazon.com

Description: Inflatable jump-in product good for indoor or outdoor use. It holds up to 120 pounds, about 3 or 4 toddlers! It also comes with about 25 soft balls which kids can have fun pushing through the holes of the castle or bouncing around with. It’s 85″ x 45″ x 76″.

Review:  This is the answer to the child who never seems to run out of energy! Finally, a place for my toddler to bounce around and wear himself out without my having to worry that he’s going to fall and crack his head on something!

If you’ve got a reasonably open space indoors, you can use it inside during the cold months or rainy days. In the summer, you can leave it outside with no problem.

We weren’t sure if this would be too small for our 3 year old, but it’s definitely large enough for him to play with for a few years to come.

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Baked Brown Sugar Apples

It’s apple-picking time!  This tastes great by itself or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream 🙂


4 Granny Smith apples
¼ cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoons brown sugar
¼ cup raisins
Cinnamon for sprinkling


Preheat oven to 325F.  In a bowl, combine the raisins, pecans, brown sugar and cinnamon.  Wash and core each apple and place in a baking dish.  Divide the brown sugar/raisin mixture into four parts and fill each apple with the mixture.  Bake approximately 40 minutes or until tender.

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Apples are one of the most versatile fruits known to man, and have been for a good part of recorded history.  Apples are so popular in fact; apple pie recipes are often handed down through generations. They are served at family reunions and during the holidays all around the world.

Here’s an Apple Pie recipe you’re sure to enjoy making as much as you do eating.


Old Fashioned Apple Pie (Save time by purchasing ready-made crusts)

2 (9 inch) unbaked pie crusts  
7 cups peeled, cored, and sliced apples
1 cup white sugar 
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour 
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg 
1/4 teaspoon salt 2 tablespoons butter

Preheating oven to 425 degrees F.  In a large bowl, combine the apples, sugar, flour, and spices, stirring gently.  Pour the mixture into the prepared pie crusts and dot with butter.  Place the top crust on the pie, and cut holes in the top for ventilation.  Bake for ten minutes at 425 degrees, and then turn the temperature down to 275-300 degrees.  Allow the pie to bake for an additional 40-50 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.  Let the pie cool and then serve.  Add a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream for a special treat.


Besides using them in pies, fresh cider, and eaten raw, you may also use apples as a decoration around the home.  After drying apple slices, you may string them on a piece of jute to create a garland, or add the dried slices to a wreath that hangs on the front door.  You can also make ornaments out of applesauce and cinnamon.


Apple Cinnamon Ornaments

3/4 cup ground cinnamon 
2 tablespoons ground cloves
1 cup applesauce 
1 tablespoon ground allspice
1 tablespoon nutmeg 
1/8 or 1/4 inch ribbon

In a small bowl, mix the applesauce and spices, stirring until the mixture makes a dough.  Roll the dough out between sheets of wax paper.  Using a cookie cutter, cut out the designs you like, and then set them aside.  Roll out the leftovers and cut out until all of the dough is gone.  Poke a hole in the shape to accept the ribbon.  Let the ornaments dry four to five days, uncovered, and undisturbed.  Place the ribbon through the hole and then hang the ornament to leave a pleasant scent.  Store the ornaments in a zip-top bag.


With over 7000 varieties, apples are one of the most well-known fruits. They can be used in a myriad of recipes and can even be used in non-cooking methods.  Now is the time to get some – cooked or raw, food or craft – apples are truly a fruit to enjoy.

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Country Cornbread


1 cup fat-free (skim) milk
2 tablespoons low fat margarine, melted
1/4 cup fat-free cholesterol-free egg product
1 1/4 cups yellow, white or blue cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar substitute
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt


Place milk, egg and melted margarine in a mixing bowl.  Beat until well blended.  Place dry ingredients into the bowl with the liquid.  Blend until flour is moistened being sure not to break up the lumps. Grease your baking pan.  Any type of pan will work as long as it is small.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Put cornbread mixture into baking pan.  Bake 25 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.

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