DVD Review: Read and Share DVD Bible

Some time ago (and I’m embarrassed to say how long, because it’s been TOO long), I received a copy of the Read and Share DVD Bible Volume 1 from Thomas Nelson Publishers. I was asked to watch it (which I did, along with my youngest son, L), and to share our honest opinions.

The Read and Share DVD Bible is a collection of 13 Bible stories, told through animation and quite a bit of narration. The stories are drawn from both the Old and New Testaments and each story is approximately three minutes long. The Bible accounts are presented clearly and gently, easy for kids to understand and follow along.

To be honest, L(age 4) had very little interest in this DVD at first.  The animation is cute and colorful, but is not as “advanced” as that in many other children’s DVDs. And though the stories are acted out, the action is very calm and simple. In addition, though L loves when I read to him, he wasn’t used to DVDs that rely so much on narration. Personally, I didn’t find anything wrong with animation or presentation, but it just didn’t hold his attention as much as some other DVDs, such as the Veggie Tales line.

However, as L has gotten older, he’s been enjoying the DVD more and more. Just the other day, we were watching it together and he was asking me for more specifics about some of the Bible stories. At age 4.5, he pays attention for the entire DVD and enjoys all the segments.

Chad and I currently teach the four-year-olds at our church and I could see this DVD being very useful in a Sunday School setting. The short segments would be perfect for illustrating individual Bible stories and would be just the right length for a group of preschoolers. I think younger kids would struggle to feel engaged by this DVD, but kids age 4-6 would be perfect. At home, the Read and Share DVD Bible would make a nice supplement to family Bible reading.

I see that since we first received this DVD, Thomas Nelson has re-done the series, so if you’re interested in checking out the Read and Share Bible DVDs, you might want to start with Read and Share: The Ultimate DVD Bible Storybook – Volume 1, which includes both a book and a DVD and covers more than 100 Bible stories.

Disclosure: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

The Long-Awaited Bacon Bar Review

So here’s how this whole thing started: Last summer, I heard that some county fairs were serving chocolate candy bars with bacon in them. Um…yuck.

A quick Google search revealed that fancy chocolatiers are also selling bacon bars. My initial thoughts? Though chocolate should be a required food group (in my opinion), and though bacon is a fantastic accompaniment to any breakfast…the two should probably keep their distance from each other. They just weren’t made to go together.

I blogged, briefly, about these thoughts, and one of my commenters had the audacity to dare me to try a bacon bar. Hmph. I don’t take every challenge thrown down before me, but I certainly consider challenges involving chocolate… And after much contemplation, and a fair amount of chocolate consumption that didn’t involve bacon, I decided to give it a try. I placed my order, and last week it arrived: Mo’s Bacon Bar.

It sat on the counter for several days. Did I really want to do this? C. kept eying it up; Chad asked when I was going to try it. And finally, last night, I gave in and we conducted:

The Bacon Bar Taste Test

First step: Examining the package. The back of the box tells the story of the founder of Vosges Haut-Chocolat (don’t ask me how that’s pronounced), and the steps that led her to create this bizarre intersection of chocolate and bacon. She began her story by reminiscing about eating bacon along with chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast when she was 6 years old. Hm… I suppose I could see that happening; and I suppose it wouldn’t be too horrible to have a bite of pancake with a bite of bacon.

But the kicker? Her name is…..Katrina. Yep. I’m not kidding. Was this a sign?

And she signed her story with “Peace, love and chocolate, Katrina.” Hm. Including chocolate with her sign-off shows that she’s got good sense, right?

Second step: Extracting the foil-covered bar. I pulled the bar out of the box in which it came. And sniffed. Nothing. The foil packaging was well-sealed. So at the very least, this would be a fresh candy bar, even if questionable in contents.

Third step: Revealing the candy bar. Out it came. Smooth milk chocolate. No weird chunks of bacon sticking out. That’s good. I sniffed again. Definitely something there. Chad and C. said they could immediately smell bacon. I wasn’t sure. I smelled something…something salty. But it didn’t have an overwhelming bacon-y aroma.

Fourth step: Finding a guinea pig. Just in case it turned out to be really gross, I decided to force allow C. to be my guinea pig. He was more than happy to try the first square of Mo’s Bacon Bar. And I was more than happy to catch him on tape. A few things you might notice about this video: 1) Apparently, my camera is highly sensitive and picks up all kinds of eating noises. Turn down your audio if this will gross you out. 2) Yes, Max & Ruby is on in the background. This was to ensure that we could perform the taste test with minimal interruption from a certain 2-year-old.

Fifth step: Trying the bacon bar. C. hadn’t collapsed. In fact, he had enjoyed his square of bacon bar. So I took a deep breath, handed my husband a square, took a square for myself…and bit in.

Chocolaty, yes… Salty, yes… Wait a minute, there’s a sliver of bacon. That feels weird. But doesn’t taste horrible. In fact, I think it tastes okay. Not too bacon-y, but that’s a good thing.

Chad said he definitely tasted bacon. I’m not sure I did. I’m not saying I didn’t taste any bacon, just that it didn’t taste like I had taken a slab of bacon and stuck it on top of a chocolate bar. It was more subtle. A touch of salt, a savory lingering… but primarily chocolate. Good chocolate. And that’s always a good thing.

Sixth step: Sharing with the toddler. By this point, L. had realized that we were eating something. Something that was not vegetables or chicken. Something…that looked yummy. “Some, Mommy! Some, please!!” I gave him just a teeny corner, not sure what he’d think. Well, here’s what he thought: “More, Mommy! More, please!!”

Our final evaluation: The Bacon Bar is not nearly as weird or yucky as I had initially imagined. In fact, it tastes rather good. I don’t know if I’d pick it over a chocolate bar involving caramel or cashews or almonds, but I wouldn’t turn it down if someone offered one to me. My only (minor) compaint was that coming across bits of bacon while I was chewing was odd. A crunchy nut is fine and welcome in chocolate bars, but a chewy bacon bit would take some getting used to. The rest of my family, however, would go even further in their praise: Chad, C., and L. all thoroughly enjoyed Mo’s Bacon Bar, and I didn’t have any trouble finding takers for the remaining candy bar squares.

Toy Review: K’nex Dueling Racers

When I was asked to give the new K’Nex Dueling Racers a try and to blog about our opinion on them, I couldn’t turn it down. The boys in this house (including my husband) are all about building stuff. Legos, K’Nex, Tinker Toys — you name it, we’ve built it. And building stuff with motors sounded like an extra bonus.

The Dueling Racers set comes with instructions to build four different motorized vehicles. There are enough pieces to build two cars at the same time and have them race each other (thus, the dueling). It runs for about $21 on Amazon.

I don’t think the box was in our house for more than a few hours before someone had opened it and started building. [Hint: That someone is over the age of 20, so it wasn’t one of the kids. And it wasn’t me.] As soon as C. saw what was going on, he grabbed the other instruction book and started building, too. I really like that about this set — the fact that there are 2 instruction books. That way, two people can get building right away without having to wait for their turn with the instructions.

The instructions were clear and easy to follow, so the cars were assembled quickly. C.’s official opinion about the four car designs was that “They’re very cool.” He also liked the fact that the cars had motors. It’s one thing to build a car and push it around; it’s quite another to be able to flip a switch and send it racing down the hall to traumatize the cat.

The only thing we had trouble with is that some of the Lego-like pieces did not stay together very well, which caused frustration whenever the car would run into a wall and a piece would fall off. We ended up just permanently removing that part. However, we only ran into this problem with one car design, so it’s easy to avoid.

Overall, we’ve had lots of fun with these dueling racers. C. would recommend them to anyone who “has a thing for cars and for the satisfaction of speed.” His words.

Product Review: GLAD SimplyCooking Microwave Steaming Bags

I think of myself as a baker. I enjoy whipping up a batch of Banana Bread, I make a pretty delicious Chocolate Mint Dessert, and I’m always up for trying out a new muffin or quick bread recipe.

But when it comes to cooking — as in, using the top part of my stove… well, I do it, and I don’t mind it. But it just doesn’t come as easily or naturally.

Take vegetables, for example. While I could, at this very moment, recite for you all the ingredients and instructions for Coffee House Cornbread Muffins and/or Banana Chocolate Chip Bread, I cannot tell you how long to cook broccoli on the stove. I don’t know why, but basic things like that escape me. I prefer to make my family fresh vegetables, but because it always feels like a hassle (I have to dig out my cookbook or my handy reference pages to check cooking times, etc.), I usually resort to frozen or canned veggies. They’re easy, and they usually have instructions on the bag/can.

But the nice folks from GLAD recently sent me some of their nifty new Microwave Steaming Bags, which, it would appear, were made especially for people like me. They are so easy to use: cut up your veggies, stick them in the bag, seal the bag (just like a regular plastic storage bag), consult the information on the bag itself for cooking times, and stick it in the microwave. Minutes later: voila! Steamed fresh veggies. Perfect.

The veggies come out just right every time: flavorful, retaining their natural colors (unlike sad-looking green vegetables that might result from other cooking methods), nutritious. In the past, I’ve been known to end up with overly-mushy and not-so-yummy broccoli when I’ve been temporarily distracted from a boiling pot by, for example, a child who is trying to destroy the living room. But mushy broccoli is no longer an occurrence around here.

But my favorite part of these bags is the information — right on the bag, did I mention that? — that tells me how long to microwave my veggie of choice. No more trying to remember, no more digging out a cookbook.

The only down-side is that the bags are not huge, so they wouldn’t be practical for a large family. But for our group of four, they’re perfect.

Oh, and the directions say to let the bag sit for a little while before opening, because it’s very, very hot. I’d suggest you obey that rule. Just sayin’.

If you look at GLAD’s site, you’ll also see they have a link to a downloadable recipe book that tells you all kinds of things you can steam up in these bags — far beyond my simple steamed broccoli. You can make Ranch Potatoes, Ginger Lime Fish Fillets, even Shrimp Scampi.

Product Review: Clorox Ultimate Care

I felt a wee bit like I had made the Blogging Big-Time when Clorox contacted me and asked me if I would try their new product, Clorox Ultimate Care, and then give my honest impressions about it on my blog. Why of course I would. First of all – free product! Who can pass that up? And not a little sample packet either; they sent me a full size bottle of the stuff. Second – they didn’t ask me to promote it, just to be honest. And I can handle that. I will never review a product just to “promote it,” but I’m glad to give my thoughts on anything that I’d use anyway.

So my first confession is that I don’t use bleach very often. My completely-whites are usually mixed in with my mostly-whites or even some very-pale-but-not-quite-whites on laundry day. I know, that probably makes me a very pathetic homemaker. But my goal in laundry is efficiency and since our completely-whites are mostly socks and underwear, it’s just not that important to me that they be sparkling white. So they get thrown in with other stuff most of the time. And since I don’t want to run the risk of bleach-spots where I don’t want them, the bleach container is often left sitting sadly by itself in the corner.

BUT, this past week I found myself doing so very much laundry (due to the stomach bug that invaded our home) that I had plenty of opportunity to divide our laundry into darks, almost-whites and actually-really-completely-whites. What better opportunity to try out the new Clorox product? And so I did.

My first impression was that it’s thicker than standard liquid bleach, so it is SO much easier to pour. You don’t have to worry about bleach splashes or inadvertently turning your new pair of jeans into an 80s-style streaky-bleachy pair that you can only wear at home. Second, you can pour it right onto your load of wash – no need to confine it to the little “liquid bleach” compartment of your washer. Just pour it right in there. And third, Ultimate Care doesn’t have that overwhelmingly bleachy smell. I’m not sure if I’d agree 100% with their “soft cotton scent” claim, but it is definitely easier on the nose than standard bleach.

And the results? Well, without going into too many details, let me assure you that the items going IN to the washer were pretty bad. Stomach bugs tend to produce all kinds of unmentionable stains. But the crib sheets, burp cloths, and white clothes came out looking great. Clorox Ultimate Care got out some seriously yucky stains. And I like the added reassurance of knowing that bleach is an effective germ-killer, so not only are those items clean, but they’re bug-free as well.

So while I know I won’t use Clorox Ultimate Care as often as I use their Anywhere Spray (which I use all the time), I’ll be keeping it on hand nonetheless for when our whites could use a little freshening up.