Saturday, June 25, 2016

Review: Jarware Mason Jar Accessories (and Greek Potatoes!)

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A few weeks ago, my husband and I were visiting World Market specifically to pick up a few particular items, and - because we know ourselves well - we'd agreed with one another not to buy anything that wasn't on our list! No cool funky little storage bin, no 'I didn't know this existed but now I neeeeed it' household gadget, and most definitely, no amazing snack items we'd not seen in years.

So, when I tripped over a rack of Jarware accessories - BPA Free, recycled plastic inserts that turn your mason jars into everything from a tea infuser to a piggy bank - I was charmed but resolute to look into them later and not buy them.

I almost tried to talk him into one or two - these things are very inexpensive!  We both agreed that the juicer in particular was a very cool idea, but we had agreed, so no... not today...  We felt so virtuous, we took ourselves out to eat and spent a lot more than we would have if we'd just bought the juicer.

That's what we do.

A couple days later, I was given the opportunity to review a few of their items and, huzzah!  One of them was the juicer!  So the virtue really worked out for me this time!

Jarware sent me three items to try: the juicer, the tea infuser, and the travel cup lid.  I set about rounding up a couple jars to try them on, and happily got to work.

The infuser and travel cup lid both required a regular sized jar mouth, while the juicer goes onto a wide mouth lid.

The way each one of these works, the Jarware piece snaps into the ring of a canning jar lid of the correct size, and then screws onto the jar itself.

Some of their other products (such as the Coffee Spoon Clip) connect to the jar itself, rather than to a lid.

Unfortunately, I ran into problems with both the infuser and the travel cup lid.  With each, no matter how hard I tried, I could not get the insert to fit evenly into the ring of the lid, and as a result, it wouldn't screw evenly onto the jar.

Since each of them are intended to be tipped when in use (you'd turn the tea infuser jar upside down while steeping), a wrongly screwed on lid would be a significant problem!

I didn't want to give up easily, and fought with it off and on for a couple days.  Because I have arthritis, I assumed this might just be me, and asked my husband to give it a try.  And he has, several times, without success.

On their website, the FAQ mentions this issue, saying,

They even include a video showing you how to do it!

So, we tried it again, repeatedly, heating the ring band, and while it helped get the drink lid all the way in to look at it, the jar still leaked when tilted.

We had even less luck with the infuser lid - no matter what, it was just not going to go into that ring!


 From the text I quoted, I am guessing that perhaps a different unit might work better (we did switch out rings about a half dozen times to make sure it wasn't that), and since they are very inexpensive ($3.99 for the drink lid and $9.99 for the tea infuser), I might be willing to try them again, however I think if enough people are having issues like this, maybe it'd be best to pre-insert them into a ring and sell them that way?

In spite of those two going awry, the the one I was most interested in, as I mentioned, was the juice extractor, and this one was a roaring success!

Now, we have a few juicer extractors already - a few, because they are never pleasant to use! Either you need to have very strong hands to get anywhere, or they're just a giant mess.

I found the Jarware Juicer ($5.99) to be very easy to assemble, use and clean.  It slipped easily and firmly into a widemouth jar ring, which was then readily screwed onto the jar.

I was able to make quick work of several lemons without getting tired - for me, it was much more gentle on my hands to be able to hold a jar than to use a similar variety that would sits inside a small dish.

I was able to juice each lemon thoroughly, with all seeds and pulp falling into the juicer crevice as they should, while the juice itself fell neatly into the jar - all ready to be used or stored away for later use!

Clean up was also a breeze - the juicer quickly comes off the ring and one firm shake got all of the pulp and seeds out of the crevice and into the trash or compost bin, so the juicer can be hand washed or tucked into the top rack of the dishwasher.

I have since used it several times, which alone tells me how much I like, it because over the years I have made all sorts of excuses to avoid having to squeeze fresh citrus in spite of having several tools to help me do it.

In my opinion, this one winner makes up for the two that didn't work out - I'll keep trying with them, but since I wasn't able to make them work, I can't recommend them.  If anyone's tried one of them and successfully gotten to to connect to the ring and attach to a jar without leaking, please share your tips in the comments!

The juicer, though?  Grab one the next time you come across them - or get a few and keep them on hand for stocking stuffers.

You can buy Jarware products  locally in select stores, or directly from their website, with free shipping for orders $29.99 or more.  Jarware products are also available on Amazon.

Now that I can quickly squeeze up some fresh juice, I celebrated by making one of my favorite potato dishes to go along with some Lemon-Garlic Chicken and Cucumber Salad:  Greek Potatoes!

Greek Potatoes are rich with broth and lemon - lots and lots of lemon.  They are great as a side, although our local Greek restaurant serves them as an appetizer because they are that good!

Greek Potatoes
(serves 4)

6-8 medium sized waxy potatoes
3/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
4 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp oregano (fresh if you've got it, but dry will do)
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups chicken broth

Traditionally, you should peel the potatoes but I don't - just scrub well and chop into 1" chunks.  If you think about it, stab the chunks with a fork a few times, the better to infuse them with the lemony marinade.

Combine everything in a container that can be turned upside down (or use a large ziploc bag), and let marinate at least 2 hours - longer is better!  Flip every so often to make sure every potato is able to soak up that lemony goodness.

Preheat oven to 400F.

Turn potatoes into a large casserole dish, marinade and all, and let them roast for about an hour and 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender and starting to crisp on the outside (only a little!).  They will still be saucy.

Serve with sauce spooned over them - enjoy!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Awesome Life Friday #69

Welcome to Awesome Life Friday!

We're so looking forward to seeing what you've been cooking, creating, growing, decorating, reviewing, giving away, and thinking about this week!

While you're here, leave your posts at the other link up we co-host here - Party in Your PJs!  It starts on Tuesday evenings, and runs through Sunday.  I hope you'll join us there as well!

Here's what some of us have been up to this past week:

We hope you'll check them out if you haven't already!  Don't forget to peek at the sidebar and check out what other giveaways we currently have going.


And now our favorite part - the FEATURES!  We missed the party last week, so these are from two weeks ago.  If you're one of our featured posts, we'd love it if you'd grab a button, and thanks to all of you who shared with us last week!

The Boondocks Blog // How to Repurpose Cans Instead of Being Overrun By Them

Strength & Sunshine // Smoky Spiralized Purple Sweet Potato Fries

The Herbal Spoon // How to Make Mint Extract

The Navage Patch // DIY Bird Bath

The Pistachio Project // Probiotic Carrot Cake Popsicles

Olives 'n Okra // DIY Vintage Patriotic Bunting

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Friendship Break-Ups - Painful But Sometimes Necessary

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This is a tough subject to write about but I am pretty sure everyone reading this has had a friendship break-up at some point.

Making friends isn’t easy or for quite a few people, it doesn't come naturally. Making friends that are worth keeping - I don’t think that one is easy for anyone, and it takes a lot of courage to make sure your friendship relationships are healthy and positive.   Sometimes, we wind up making friends with people who aren't right for us, rather than go without. Sometimes, circumstances change for one or both people in a friendship, and the relationship simply doesn't survive.

When it comes to this subject I can only speak about my own, personal experience with it but I am sure everyone has some similar stories to tell.

Due to my husband being in the military, I’ve made many, many “friends” in a fairly short time, but a lot of them never made it on to my keeper list. A lot of them were toxic, “fake”, dishonest, drama-addicted or had a negative influence on myself, my family and my environment.

I think this happens a lot when many people - some barely into adulthood - are put together in stressful environment far away from their own family and friend network. (Remember that first day in a new school? It's like that, magnified!)

So, while military family life can make for some really important and special friendships, it also leads to several not so great connections that need to be dealt with.

So what exactly is a friendship?

I think each one of us defines friendships and true friendships a little differently or has some sort of modifications to the general definition, but let’s just stick with the basics for now:

YourDictionary defines it as:

“The definition of friendship is a relationship between people who like each other and enjoy each others company. An example of friendship is when you have a buddy with whom you like to do things.”

This seems to hit the nail on the head as a good start. It’s definitely someone whose company you enjoy, have things in common with, share in some of the same activities and, in many cases, someone you trust with very personal details, struggles and problems.

That last one is where things can get complicated. Often you don’t want those things to become public at all.
It's where friendship goes from being about 'buddies' and moves into the realm of confidante. That vulnerability not only brings people closer, it can also make things much more painful if they don't work out.

Because even the best friendships tend to have some issues at some point, the important question to ask as you move into a more intimate relationship with a friend and find yourself experiencing difficulties is:

- are these problems worth investing the energy needed to resolve them or is it better to just move on?

I think everyone needs to answer that question for themselves.

Just as you would assess a romantic involvement, you want  to make sure you're not ending it at first sign of conflict without trying to find a solution, but on the other hand, you don't want to hang in there past the point where it is clear that something you cannot accept is a part of the relationship that isn't going to change.

A big part of that has to do with how much time and effort you've already put in, and the nature of the conflict itself.

So what are some of those things that cause friendship problems?

There are many things that can cause conflict in a friendship, but here are some of the ones that seem very common:

These happen to the best of us and are often easy to clear up by just simply talking to each other openly.

Talking bad or gossiping behind the other persons back:
Ugh, am I the only one who is soooo tired of this kindergarten drama?

This one seems to happen a lot. It’s so painful when you hear that the person you trust is talking badly about you but doesn’t even have the balls to tell you in person what it is that bothers them so much about you.

So, you can't even consider fixing it, and meanwhile they are poisoning your trust and damaging your reputation.   If you have a friend who often brings you gossip about other people you know, think hard about this - it's almost a sure thing that they're doing the same thing  to you.

Yes, you heard that advice in Middle High School. It still applies as an adult.

Toxic personalities:
This is a tough one to explain but I am sure we all have encountered a toxic person at some point in our life.

Toxic people tend to have a trail of drama following them around. At the beginning they make themselves sound like they are amazing people, but end up being extremely needy, only caring about themselves and their own needs/wants, and often manipulate, control or use others to get what they want.

They also like to criticize but don’t offer any kind of solution.  They also like to present their problems to you for 'advice' but  then criticize and knock down everything you offer - and before you know it, another couple hours have been spent talking about their life, and you're too exhausted to notice that they didn't care to hear a thing about yours that didn't lead straight back to being about themselves.

I like to describe them as the wolf that hides under the sheep skin. All in all, not the person anyone should have or want in their lives.

Honesty isn’t always easy, yet lying has never really gotten anyone very far in life (okay, this may be debatable but we are talking about everyday people here and not politicians ;) ). I think for cases like that, it always depends what they are dishonest with and how long the trail of lies is and how extensive.

Some lies - aka “white” lies are forgivable and someone can apologize for them and move on, but some dishonest behaviors are unforgivable. Everyone has to draw that line for themselves.
At this point I would like to share a personal story/experience:
(!!child loss trigger warning!!)

I had a friend that I met, and we became very fast very close. And I don’t mean “sharing a lot” – close, I mean “I’ll trust you to watch my kids” – close. Trusting someone with my kids is a very big deal to me.

Long story short: Among  the many confidences we shared, this person talked about how she was pregnant many, many times, each and every single one resulting in some sort of dramatic miscarriage – one even ended as late term stillbirth a few months after her family moved away from where we were stationed.

Obviously, I felt deeply for her situation and grew to be very protective of her.

Well, here’s the thing:

.... a few weeks after she'd talked about the stillbirth, her father in law made a public post on Facebook accusing her (and his son) of scamming and lying about her having been pregnant at all.

As her friend I, of course, jumped on that post and was defending her ferociously, until I saw the proof that he was able to provide about the situation.

This was a big shocker. Like, earthquake level shock.

There was actual real life proof out there about her lying about those horrible & tragic events (which had elicited tons of support, sympathy, and yes, actual gifts to help the family get through it), and all of a sudden I realized that everything she'd ever told me about her miscarriages and the stillbirth (after which she even got the planned child's name tattooed on her body!!) did not add up at all.

As someone who had miscarriages before, I was devastated over this. I never knew people would be so cruel to lie about things like that.

But those people are out there.

I gave her a chance to explain herself, which resulted in another completely made up story that didn’t match up at all.

So I broke up with her.

The good old drama addict:
I was one of these earlier in life myself (shame on me for that one, but hey, people can actually grow out of that!).

These are the ones that always have to start some kind of drama. Often very, very childish and completely unjustified drama.

Some do it to be the center of attention, some do it to “fit in” with another group or clique, some are bored out of their minds and have nothing better to do.

There are also the ones who just like to victimize themselves to get empathy (see my story above!) and others just do it because they can’t live without it.

I personally can’t stand it anymore and have a no tolerance policy when it comes to that. You start unnecessary drama and you instantly lose the privilege to my friendship.

I guess sometimes it can be forgiven but you need to decide that for yourself. I have come to realize that this isn’t healthy for me and that a lot of those drama-mamas are toxic people, gossips, and liars.

Negative influences
Sometimes you meet very nice people – or so you think – but it turns out they have a negative influence on yourself, your partner/family and your direct environment.

Those are the ones that bring the nasty in us out, whose comments about our partners make us question our relationships and their intentions, the ones that have to influence everything and everyone in a negative way.  Often, they'll work to remove you from your other friendships as well.

I like to say those are also the “dare” friends and the ones who like to tell you if you don’t do something you aren’t “cool” or make fun of you if you decide you don’t want to do something (for example: drink more at a party than you want to, etc).

People with a negative influence often affect your entire environment and your relationship before you even realized it's happened.

We all have them, but the key is how you deal with them. Can the two of you find a compromise? Can one of you change their opinion about the matter - or at least can you agree to disagree without harm?

Often this one can be resolved unless it involves fundamental violations.  And even where it can't be resolved, it doesn't mean one person or the other is to blame - it may simply be a barrier that precludes continuing to be involved closely.

There are many more things that can cause trouble and there are always individual situations that don't fall into any specific category.

So, how to cut someone loose?

Sometimes we are rash in our decision to end a friendship, and regret it later, so I always like to take a little to think about if there’s a chance to make up or to establish boundaries that allow the friendship to continue in a more healthy way.

My dealbreaker involves core principles: If you have strong core principles regarding what is acceptable within a principle and they get violated in a deep way, or repeatedly, a come-back is often just another disappointment waiting to happen, but again, your life – your decisions.  You know what you can accept and you need to respect that.

You're also not doing your friend any favors leading them to believe you can put up with something you know in your heart you can't.

As to how to go about ending a friendship. I personally tend to go the direct way and tell people why I don’t want to hang out anymore or why they aren’t welcome around my family or me anymore. (and we are talking about friendships, not acquaintances - for loose social relationships, the easiest and kindest way to proceed is to simply stop being overly available. There should be no reason you can't engage in social niceties when you are in the same place, without allowing it to go any deeper than that.)

To me friendship is a privilege and not everyone deserves this privilege or gets to keep it.  That said, if you speak your truth, expect to be willing and able to hear theirs as well - like any serious relationship, most friendships that are problematic have issues on both sides.

But some like the whole “making excuses” route that avoids the possibility of confrontation. It’s really what you’re comfortable with and often it depends in the situation.  Sometimes, you are so done that there is no need or desire to rehash anything.  At other times, you may find yourself deciding that not making the situation hostile will give you more confidence that  the other person will resist breaking confidences you've shared out of revenge. (But if you're breaking up because that's what they do, there's little point in worrying about it.)

How does it feel to break up with a friend?
It hurts. Depending on how close you were it hurts a whole bunch.

If it was more like an acquaintance, then it usually passes fast but if it was one of those “close”, “true” or “important to me” kind of friends then it’s more like ending a relationship with someone you’ve grown to love.  Because, really, that's what it is.

I honestly think that the one that gets broken up with doesn’t hurt as much as the one who has to take the step to cross someone out of their life – at least that’s my experience.

If the friend was a closer one, then you will also miss them, no matter how bad the bad part was. Sometimes you randomly think about them or a situation reminds you and then it feels like ripping off a band aid.

But sometimes it is necessary!

There’s not much worse than bad friends who use you and hold you back; who don’t help you grow.

Why keep them around and grant them the privilege of your company and friendship?
Why invest your time & energy in someone who wouldn’t do the same for you?

Seriously! Ask yourself those questions!

Relationships are a taking and giving that should be balanced – this applies to friendships just as much as it does to healthy family and romantic attachments.

Breaking up isn’t easy and no one ever said it would be.

It doesn’t always have to be a permanent break-up, but think twice before you jump right back into a friendship that has been toxic and disappointing to you.

I’ve broken up with quite a few people in the past few years, but all it did was help me grow and meet the right people.

That's the thing I've discovered - bad friendships suck up all the energy and well being you need to find and maintain good friendships.

And good friendships are a crucial part of a thriving, happy life!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Party in Your PJs #111

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Welcome to Party in Your PJs!

Happy Tuesday!  Welcome to the Party in Your PJs Link Party, where your posts will be seen on four different blogs each week.   In addition to Kim from The Cookie Puzzle, you'll also find Party in Your PJs every Tuesday evening at Grandma IdeasWood of Bell Trees and... here!

You'll still find the Awesome Life Friday link up here at RCHReviews, every Thursday evening at 8pm ET so we hope to see you there as well.

Are you ready to party? I can't wait to see what you've brought to share!

Kim ~ The Cookie Puzzle | Facebook | Pinterest 
Nina ~ Grandma Ideas | Pinterest | Twitter
Lynda ~ Reviews, Chews & How-Tos | Facebook | Pinterest
Heather ~ Woods of Bell Trees | Facebook | Instagram

 Meet the Co-Hosts

Kim @ The Cookie Puzzle 

Kim is a small town girl who love simple things. Simple cookies, simple crafts and simple people. She is a wife, mother to one son and two adorable fur babies. Slightly addicted to reality TV and sitcoms, but she loves curling up with a good book or a good walk while listening to podcasts. You can find her at The Cookie Puzzle, where she shares her love for cookies and crafting. 

Nina @ Grandma Ideas 

How is this: Nina is wildly in love with her grandchildren. She delights in doing activities with them that strengthen their relationship –- playing games, doing crafts, snuggling, reading stories to them, and cooking together. She enjoys reading, technology, and traveling. (Tahiti is her most favorite place on earth!)

Lynda @ Reviews, Chews & How-Tos 

Lynda lives outside DC with her husband Michael and elderly beagle, Sadie. She and her daughter Jackie started RCHReviews as a way to spend time together in spite of living across country, and along the way they've added several friends as regular contributors. Between them all, they bring together many different perspectives and lifestyles with one common philosophy - try new things, have fun, and remember you are awesome!

 Heather @ Wood of Bell Trees

Heather is a wife of a peanut butter fanatic and mom of one silly human and one furry canine, wrangling life on 2nd shift and glitterizing everything as she goes!

The rules for the group board include:
1. Limit of one pin a day.
2. Just like the party anything goes, but clear wonderful pictures with great descriptions are most successful.
3. Please no Spam ( Spammers will be deleted without warning)
4.  If you pin to the Pinterest Board, please link to the Party in Your PJs Party also, the party runs from 7 pm Tuesdays-Midnight Saturday (Central Time)
5.  Finally have fun and share this group board  with blog friends and followers!  The more success the group board is the more success you will see from your pins.

Want to be added to the group board?  Follow our Party in Your PJs board and email Kim at

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Recipe: Stroganoff Stuffed Mushrooms


I've already shown you the awesome stuffed mushroom recipe I've become quite addicted to. We still make it at least once a week, sometimes while entertaining, sometimes just for our own dinner.

Well, last week our usual stock of little portobellos were in the fridge, as well as some ground beef thawed, and I needed to make something with it. I hate when meat is thawed more than a day or two so naturally my favorite meal was the best option for getting it used: Beef Stroganoff!

After looking forward to it all day I realized all we had was an itty bitty tub of sour cream, which is a major component to the meal. With a bit of thinking it over, Stroganoff Stuffed Mushrooms were born.

Stroganoff Stuffed Mushrooms
Serves 4-6


16 medium sized portobella mushrooms
1 8oz block softened cream cheese
1 cup of sour cream
Worchestershire sauce to taste
Soy sauce to taste
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil

Preheat oven to 400.

Clean 'shrooms off with a wet paper towel, rub lightly so as not to shred.
Snap off stems. Chop the stems and set aside. (discard the tough woody end.)

Place the mushrooms bottoms up in an oiled baking dish, and coat lightly with oil. Bake for 12 minutes at 400F to soften.

While that is happening, brown beef. Add chopped stems, Worchestershire sauce and soy sauce.

In a large bowl, combine softened cream cheese and sour cream. Add cooked meat mixture to cheese.

From here, add more Worchestershire, soy, pepper or salt as needed. I recommend adding a bit more than you think because in my opinion, it dulled a bit after baking.

When mushrooms are done cooking, turn them over and spoon in filling.

Place back in over for additional 5-8 minutes.
Enjoy as is or with a side of noodles for the full experience.


Thursday, June 16, 2016

Awesome Life Friday #68

Welcome to Awesome Life Friday!

We're so looking forward to seeing what you've been cooking, creating, growing, decorating, reviewing, giving away, and thinking about this week!

While you're here, leave your posts at the other link up we co-host here - Party in Your PJs!  It starts on Tuesday evenings, and runs through Sunday.  I hope you'll join us there as well!

Here's what some of us have been up to this past week:

We hope you'll check them out if you haven't already!  Don't forget to peek at the sidebar and check out what other giveaways we currently have going.


And now our favorite part - the FEATURES!  We missed the party last week, so these are from two weeks ago.  If you're one of our featured posts, we'd love it if you'd grab a button, and thanks to all of you who shared with us last week!

Cross Stitch Lobster Ornament // KBB Crafts & Stitches

Passport to Fun: France Edition // Syncopated Mama

Fried Brussels Sprouts with Honey Sriracha Glaze // Marilyn's Treats

Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half // Saving & Simplicity

Chicken Feta Tostadas // The Silver Foodie

Make a Patriotic Door Wreath for the 4th of July //

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