Eksel Grill and Oven Mat Reviews

BBQ tips, grill mats


I was offered a discount on the ekSel Grill Oven BBQ Mats.  I purchased the product in exchange for a review.  I took advantage of the bargain, and I glad I did. You get two per box, a black and a brown.  You can use the mats either on the grill or in our oven.  However, the box did not contain instructions.  All was not lost, I used the box for guidance.  I’m a visual person, so this worked for me.

This time of year, BLTs are big in my house.  Summer brings fresh lettuce and tomatoes.  Furthermore, there’s nothing better than fresh ingredients on a BLT.  I stopped cooking my bacon on top of the stove years ago.  Not only because of grease splatter, but because I think bacon cooks better in the oven.  As a result, I was eager to see if the bacon would crisp the way I like it.  Additionally, I wanted to see how the mat would handle the oil from the bacon.  I decided to use the black mat to prepare my bacon for my BLT in the oven.



grill mats, oven mats


The bacon was delicious.  Additionally, you can cook chicken, sausages, pork chops and anything else on the mats.  I’m anxious to try the mats on the smoker.  Having grill marks on burgers, hot dogs, sausages and chicken are a sign of heaven to a grill master or backyard BBQer.  Being able to get grill marks while using mats is important.  Just as important, not having to use spray or foil on the grates just puts the icing on the cake for me.  Grilling is fun, but clean up not so much.

I prefer to us a charcoal grill versus gas grills.  If your preference is gas, you will be happy to know that the mats can be used in gas or electric oven and on most gas and charcoal grills and smokers.

The mats are dishwasher safe.  Place them in the top rack or you can wash them by hand and just dry them.  This grill mat can be can be used up to 100 times according to the manufacturer. Did I mention that you can bake cookies and pizza on them too.  Head over and grab a pack or 2 of the ekSel Grill Oven BBQ Mats.   You will be happy that you did.



8 Celebrity Children’s Book Authors


When most people think of celebrities, they think of glitz and glamor.  I have discovered several celebrity children’s book authors and I thought I would share their books for you to review and possibly give as gifts. I love the books not because they are written by celebrities, but because they are written by celebrities who have a special affinity for children. Check out my list:

Julianne Moore –   My Mom Is a Foreigner  This book is about multi-cultures and diversity. It is appropriate for ages 5 – 8 years and has 40 pages.

Jim Carrey –  How Roland Rolls  –  This book is about a wave named Roland who’s afraid that, one day, when he hits the beach, his life will be over. It is appropriate for ages 4 – 8 and has 68 pages. Jim Carrey won the 2013 Gelett Burgess Children’s Book Award for this book.

Octavia Spencer  The Time-Capsule Bandit This book is about 12-year-old Randi Rhodes. Randi loses her mother at age 12. She is an aspiring detective and has a black belt in Tae Kwon Do.  She finds satisfaction in solving crimes anonymously.  The book is appropriate for ages 8 –  12 and has 240 pages.

Jamie Lee Curtis – My Brave Year of Firsts –  This book celebrates the extraordinary, everyday bravery of trying new things for the very first time. This book is appropriate for ages 4 – 8 and has 40 pages.

Tori Spelling Presenting . . . Tallulah  –  This book is about a little girl named Tallulah. All her life, Tallulah has heard DON’T.  Don’t get dirty, talk loudly or  wear jeans. With the help of friends, she finds out who she really is.  This book is appropriate for ages 4 – 8 and has 32 pages.

Mario Lopez – Mario and Baby Gia    This book is Mario and his cousin Gia. Mario’s Nana asks him to babysit his cousin Gia while she bakes. Baby Gia who reminds Mario that a family is built on love and caring.  This book is appropriate for ages 3 – 5 and has 32 pages.

Whoopi Goldberg –  Sugar Plum Ballerinas 1: Plum Fantastic  –  This book is about Alexandrea who has just moved from Georgia to New York City’s Harlem.  Al finds herself in the classroom at the Nutcracker School of Ballet as the Sugar Plum Fairy and has stage fright. Friendship, lots of practice, and ingenuity help her to overcome her stage fright and she gives an unforgettable performance. This book is appropriate for ages 1 and up and has 160 pages.

Kristie Yamaguchi – It’s a Big World, Little Pig!  –  This book is about Poppy the pig. Poppy goes to the World Games ice-skating championship in Paris! She meets new friends from around the world and explores Paris with her family after the championship.

The holidays are around the corner. Check out these books, they would make a great holiday, birthday or just because gift. I purchased  Whoopi Goldberg’s Sugar Plum Ballerinas series.  I was given the opportunity to review Kristie Yamaguchi’s It’s a Big World, Little Pig. It’s highly recommended that you purchase both.  I will be adding Julianne Moore’s book to my gift list this year.

Apparel N Bags – Port Authority Computer Backpack Review


I received an offer to review a product from Apparel N Bags, and readily accepted. I love their products. I’m going on vacation in a few weeks, and decided to check out the Port Authority Computer Backpack to review. I’ve learn to pack more efficiently while traveling, and this year I decided to take a backpack for my computer rather than my usual laptop tote.  I also want to use it to house my camera, water, and other items while I’m sight seeing, and I thought a backpack would be easier than carrying my purse and camera bag.

The box finally arrived.  Apparel N Bags didn’t disappoint. The backpack was larger than I expected and is a quality product. Although there where 6 colors to choose from, I decided to go with the black and grey.  I loved the color combination. I’ve decided to take my 13 inch laptop with me instead of the heavy and huge 17 inch that I normally drag around. I’m learning to pack lighter in more ways than one.

There’s more than enough room for the cords and the 13 inch computer.  I can fit the 17 inch computer in the sleeve, which is another bonus. The Port Authority Backpack has several other features that I like. The front compartment has several pockets that can be used for your cell phone, a small notebook, tickets for airport parking and your boarding pass. It also has several compartments for pens, highlighters and 2 pockets on the side for a water bottle or other drink.

I love the back of the backpack. The straps are ergonomic. They are adjustable and are nice and thick. I feel confident the backpack will be comfortable once I put it on. Another plus for this bag, it’s machine washable and you can tumble dry it. The best feature, the price of $23.98.  Awesome!

Apparel N Bags has a large selection of apparel, which includes Nike and Adidas golf shirts, Nike hats, business shirts and a host of other items.  The prices are unbelievably low. I suggest that you head over and check out this site for yourself. They have a great selection of bags in an array of colors. I highly recommend this backpack. It’s a great for a Christmas gift, but it’s also a perfect place to pick up a birthday gift or items just for you.

Note:  I received the backpack as compensation for the review for this post; however, my opinions are my own.

You may also like: Apparel N Bags – Ladies Laptop Tote Review

Whoopi Goldberg: Sugar Plum Ballerina Books Review

Whoopi Goldberg book reviews


I love Whoopi Goldberg. She was a teen mother who gave birth at 17 and went on to become a funny, highly intelligent actress and author. She is the mother of 1, grandmother of 3 and great grandmother of 1.  While looking for Christmas gift for my granddaughter, I discovered the Sugar Plum Ballerinas books.  Incorporating diversity into my blog, but truth be told there’s not much on the market for Bi-Racial, Latino or African American children.  Especially  in the form of books relating to their culture. The market is getting better, but there’s room for improvement.

The Sugar Plum Ballerinas series by Whoopi Goldberg is a great gift idea.  In particular, Birthdays, Christmas, or just because are great times to give one of the books until you complete the series.  I started the Sugar Plum Ballerinas series for my granddaughter. Each book tells a story that little girls can relate.  For example, leaving behind friends and moving to a new town.  Furthermore, about being untruth or  not feeling good enough.
Furthermore, I want my grandchildren to be proud of who they are.  Just as important, I want them to be able to relate to characters who look like them.  I think it is important that all children be able to relate to the stories they are reading.  It’s important that they see images that look like them, their relatives, and other children they are playing with.  Personally, I think the world is a much better place when everyone is included.




I’ve purchased the first 2 books in the series. The first book is Plum Fantastic and the second is Toeshoe Trouble. This series is great for girls ages 6-12; however, some reviewers believe 6-10 is more appropriate. In addition, the average number of pages in the books is 160. My granddaughter is still a little young, but she can blow the dust off the books later.


I need to purchase the following books to complete my set: Terrible TerrelSugar Plums to the RescuePerfectly Prima, and Dancing Diva.





The books are paperback.  Each are reasonably priced at $5.00 each on Amazon. At that prize, you could give the entire set without breaking the bank or you can download them to your Kindle. The illustrations are beautiful and the stories are realistic.  Little girls love who love tutus and dream of being a ballerina will love the series.  Add it to your gift giving list.


Product Reviews: Wine Country Gift Baskets


chocolate gift basket review


I received this gift tower from a co-worker and I was delighted.  When I removed the gift tower from the box, I was delightfully surprised.  You can see from the picture that it is not your average gift basket.  It was a tower of 6 boxes.  It was so pretty I didn’t want to open it.  So, I placed it on my kitchen counter and admired it for days.

The boxes are beautiful, and the ribbon gave the tower a finishing touch.  As a result, my curiosity peaked as I looked at the pretty boxes.  They leave you wondering what’s in them because the boxes don’t give any hints.  I think that’s the point of the packaging.  The packaging was so beautiful, I decided to do a review of the gift just for you.

After a few days I couldn’t resist opening the boxes.  I had to find out what was in them. So I decided to open the top box on the tower.  What do you think was in the box?  If you guessed Ghirardelli chocolate squares you were right.  Chocolate lovers know how good Ghirardelli chocolate is.  They were devoured in a few days, much to my delight.

Because of my excitement, I decided to open one box per week.  During my endeavors, I discovered chocolate Italian pralines, candy apple caramels, butterscotch hard candies, yogurt covered pretzels and spice cookies.  I have to say this is one of the best gift baskets that I’ve ever received.

Wondering about the maker, Wine Country Gift Baskets?   This company is based out of California.  It is known for their wine gift baskets and stellar customer service.  They have a large selection of towers and other gift baskets to choose from and ship via FedEx Ground.  They offer a variety of  prices to accommodate everyone’s budget.

This gift tower just happens to be one of my favorite reviews.  So, add Wine Country Gift Baskets to your on-line Brands for gifts. If you’re looking for something unique, consider this gift basket tower.  I highly recommend it.

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