Book Review: Off The Edge Of The Map

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial.


I just finished reading the book Off The Edge of the Map: Marco Polo, Captain Cook and 9 Other Travelers and Explorers That Pushed The Boundaries of the World by Michael Rank. Years ago, when I was in high school, history was not one of my preferred subjects, but as I get older, I find myself becoming more and more interested in historical books. When I learned that I was going to be able to review this book, I was really pleased.

Michael Rank has written a very interesting book in which he selects eleven individuals who were pioneers in the truest sense of the word. Rank comes from the world of academia; he is a doctoral candidate in Middle Eastern history and so his opinions are based on years of post-secondary education in history. This is a fact that I appreciated. It is easy enough to select the commonly known explorers of old, and regurgitate their stories. Instead he selected a few historical figures who were unknown to me, but after reading their stories, I was amazed by their feats. I was also amazed that I had never heard of these people before.

For example, the author devotes a chapter to Ibn Battuta, a North African scholar who travelled throughout Africa and the Middle East for a number of years. When I read about his exploits, all of which took place in the 14th Century, without the benefit of modern conveniences, it was truly astonishing.

In another chapter, he tells the story of a Chinese monk named Rabban Bar Sauma, who is sometimes known as the reverse Marco Polo. He set out from the far East, and ventured west, a journey that I had never heard in any other contemporary historical textbook. The author’s background in Middle Eastern history really helps to bring Rabban Bar Sauma’s story to life. The perils faced upon his many travels were numerous, and the fact that he lived into his seventies seems almost incomprehensible.

Michael Rank also devotes chapters to many well-known explorers like Marco Polo, Captain James Cook, and Ferdinand Magellan. Even though I was familiar with these names, it was nice to re-read their stories with a more mature appreciation for the extent of their achievements.

Off The Edge of the Map was a really enjoyable book. I found Michael Rank’s writing style to be very well-informed, while still very readable. I did not get the sense that I was getting the same old version of a story that I had heard before. It was apparent that Rank’s research truly informed his writing, and for that I was truly appreciative.

If you are a person that enjoys reading story about notable historical figures, then I would highly recommend Off The Edge of the Map. An undisputed two thumbs up!

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Review/Giveaway: Skinny Jane Skinny Blend Protein Shake (US 04/25)

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial.


As some of my readers might already know, I have spent the better part of the last two years reshaping my body and trying to lose weight. There are many different ways that people (including me!) have tried to modify their diet and lose those extra pounds. One way to help is to increase your intake of protein, while decreasing your intake of refined carbohydrates. This helps your body metabolically, and increases your overall feeling of feeling full.

A great way to get protein in the morning is to drink a protein shake. It’s very important to drink a protein shake that is balanced nutritionally, and not full of sugar. So with that in mind, I was introduced to Skinny Jane Skinny Blend Protein Shake. The concept is pretty straightforward: a protein shake which is nutritionally packed, but not calorically dense. Along with the shake mixes, Skinny Jane includes an eating plan which, when followed, can enable you to lose weight.

I chose to sample the chocolate shake mix. The shakes themselves were very easy to make. Place 1/4 cup of powder into the blender along with 6-8 oz. of skim milk (or soy beverage) and 4-6 ice cubes. The result was a delicious chocolate milkshake.

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After following Skinny Jane’s eating plan, and drinking my shake each morning I lost about 1.5 pounds in a week. I thought that was a great result. The plan itself was very easy to follow, and I liked drinking the shake in the morning. It was filling enough to keep me satisfied until my mid-morning snack at 10am.

So what makes the Skinny Jane protein different? Well, for starters it has a special blend of seven proteins that are time-released, and designed to keep you feeling fuller for longer. Each serving of Skinny Jane shake contains just 102 calories; in each shake you are getting 12 grams of protein, and only 1 gram of sugar. Very nutritious, in addition to being totally delicious!

You can purchase Skinny Jane shakes from Amazon.

Great news! Skinny Jane has generously offered one of my US readers the chance to win Skinny Jane Skinny Blend Weight Loss Shake. Good luck all!

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Product Review: CHOP pill cutter

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial.

chopIn my non-blogger work a day life, I am a pharmacist. One of the tools that we use constantly in our retail pharmacy is a pill cutter. Many probably don’t even know that these nifty little gadgets exist. However, there are many times in a day that we are asked to split pills for our patients. Primarily, we split pills for patients who are elderly or have limited mobility or vision deficiencies.

One might think that doctors would just order prescription medications in the doses that are commercially available, but that is definitely not the case. There are many instances when a half-dose is considered appropriate. For instance, we often use half doses for elderly people who are of low body weight, and are more vulnerable to the side effects of drugs. We also use half doses for young people who prefer to take medication in the tablet form, instead of the liquid formulation. Another common reason for splitting pills is for helping to reduce costs for people who are on very expensive medication. Many people don’t realize that for a fairly expensive drugs, the 10mg, 20mg and 40mg strengths are all the same price per tablet. Therefore, a physician may order the 40mg strength, and ask the patient to split the pills in half to cut the cost of the medication.


I was sent a Sabi CHOP minimal effort pill cutter to review. This is a model that I had never seen before, nor had I ever used in my work setting. Its blade is made of a durable plastic poly blade, which is different than most metal bladed models that I have seen. The base of the cutter is made of rubber, to ensure it does not slip during use. The rubber inset inside the pill cutter helps to stabilize the tablet. One simply closes the lid, and presses the lid down lightly to cut the pill in half. This model is very easy to use, and the lack of metal blades makes it safe to have around a home with children.

I really liked this pill cutter. It was definitely easy to use, and required little effort. The only difficulty I had with this unit is that it did not split pills as well if the tablets had a coating on the exterior. In that situation, the plastic poly blade was not sharp enough to split the pill evenly. For use on uncoated tablets, the CHOP pill cutter worked very well.

If you wish to purchase a Sabi CHOP minimal effort pill cutter, simply check them out on Amazon.

You can check out Sabi’s website which has other innovative health and wellness products. You can learn more about them on their blog, or on their Facebook and Twitter pages.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Product Review: CARAFE Water Cup with pill compartment

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial.


In my professional, full-time job, I work as a pharmacist. On a day to day basis, I deal with all sorts of problems related to people’s medication needs. One of the most persistent problems we deal with is non-compliance; basically, this means that people do not take the medication that their physicians prescribe.

One of the most common reasons that people don’t take their medication is because they forget. This is not related to any memory related disease, it’s just a common complaint from people who lead busy lives. I am no different than others. Even though I am a pharmacist,  you would think that it would be easier for me to remember to take my own medications. However, I forget to take my pills at least once a week. Not good!

I was sent a very cool product from a company called Sabi. The product that I reviewed is called Carafe. Essentially, it is a water glass which is outfitted with a pill compartment which is fastened to the top of the glass. The glass will fit about 124 mls (4 ounces) of water. The compartment has two sides, which allows a person to place two groups of pills inside. This could account for one’s morning and nighttime medication. Or, it could be used to place the prescription medication on one side of the compartment, and vitamin supplements on the other side.

In my opinion, this glass is a great idea for helping people (or me!) to remember to take my pills. It is attractively styled, and compact enough to be placed on a nightstand. That way, when you get up in the morning, the first thing you see besides the alarm clock is the glass of water containing your medication. Very clever indeed!

You can purchase the Sabi Carafe on Amazon. You can see Sabi’s other clever product offerings on their website. You can also check out their blog. And finally, you can also find Sabi on Facebook and Twitter.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.



Spring Fling Beauty Bag #Giveaway (Can/US) (04/12)

Well, it has been a wretched winter here in our part of Canada. Usually we have it pretty good here, a bit of snow here and there, and temperatures hovering around zero. However, this year was brutal, and the winter was long, cold and consistently snowy. It seems like its been years since we have seen green grass and blue skies. I am so OVER winter, and ready for SPRING!

It’s time to celebrate the vernal equinox with another beauty bag giveaway! This time, the focus is nail care. I had a surplus of pretty polishes in my closet, and its time to share!


This beauty bag includes five polishes and a nail file, all contained in a pretty pink bag by ipsy. Here’s the lineup:

Cover Girl Outlast Stay Brilliant Nail Gloss in shade Out of the Blue

Essie Nail Lacquer in shade Good Morning Hope

Quo by Orly Nail Polish in shade Soft Spot

Julep Nail Color in shade Catrina

Quo All-In-One Base and Top Coat

Avon Nail Emery Board

This giveaway is open to both residents of Canada and the U.S. Good luck! This giveaway is being hosted by me, there are no sponsors involved. All of the polishes were purchased by me.

Product Review: Ozeri Green Earth Textured Frying Pan

ozeripanOne thing about having the kitchen of your dreams: you have to possess the right tools. Even if your kitchen is tiny, it makes all the difference in the world if you have a good set of pots and pans and some decent utensils with which to cook or bake.

When I learned that I would be reviewing a new frying pan from Ozeri, I was really excited. One thing about our house: we have gone through many frying pans. I have purchased both the really cheap versions (about $10) and the more expensive kinds (around $50). Also, I have bought both name brand and knock off pans. I have yet to find a non-stick frying pan that I truly love.

Until now!

First off, the name of the pan that I reviewed is the Ozeri Green Earth Textured Ceramic Non-Stick Frying Pan. It uses a coating made in Germany that is called GREBLON; it is both PTFE (aka Teflon) free and PFOA free. This coating is a type of ceramic which has been shown to be safer to human health than coatings which are typically seen on non-stick cookware. The GREBLON surface ensures that no harmful fumes or chemicals are emitted during cooking.

The second cool feature is its textured surface which ensures even heat distribution. The ceramic surface is scratch resistant and a breeze to wash. The food particles came off very easy when I washed the pan in soapy water.

The base is made of a durable die-cast aluminum. It boasts a cheerful lime green color that even my husband was impressed with. It adds a nice pop of color to our kitchen. He loves the color so much, he leaves the pan on the cooktop after he washes and dries it. The handle of the pan is made of a silicone, so as to prevent burns when handling it during cooking.

I have taken this frying pan for a ride, and it has performed beautifully. Last week, I made a couple grilled cheese sandwiches for my kids. I also made a mushroom and onion saute for supper, and the results were amazing. Tonight, I used my Green Earth pan to brown some ground beef, and it was fantastic.

greenearthpanOverall, I was extremely impressed with my Green Earth Pan. Both my husband and I have used it to cook supper, and we definitely love it. It stands head and shoulders above the other non-stick pans that I have in my cupboard. I would highly recommend this pan as a worthy (and healthy) addition to your kitchen. You can purchase the Ozeri Green Earth Textured Ceramic Non-Stick Frying Pan on Amazon.

Disclosure: I received this product for no charge from the promoter. I was not provided with any further compensation in exchange for my review. I was not obligated to provide a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Product Review: Leather Charm Bracelet from Penny Auctions Canada

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial.

braceletI was given the opportunity to review a leather charm bracelet which was provided to me from Penny Auctions Canada. Initially, I wasn’t sure what the connection was between the bracelet, and a penny auction, but I’ll explain that connection later in the review.

I love to wear costume and casual jewelry, so it was a joy to be able to review a new bracelet. This bracelet consists of multiple strands which are fastened together by two steel clamps. It includes a lobster claw fastener, which is adjustable. Strands feature silver alloy charms. The bracelets are made from leather, suede, silver alloy and wax linen cord. The style is one that I have seen pictured in many current women’s fashion magazines and websites. It’s a cute and casual look.


As you can see from the photo, my bracelet was black and tan colored. It features a braided leather strap, some cute silver owls, and a silver charm with “love” engraved on it. The top strap features a silver infinity symbol. I loved the little details. I thought the look was cute and charming, something I would definitely wear on a fairly regular basis with jeans and a cute top.  My only problem with the bracelet was the sizing; it was big on my wrist, even though I had it adjusted as tight as it would go. (one of the unintended side effects of my weight loss journey was that my wrists got skinny, I guess!)

So now for the connection with Penny Auctions Canada. This bracelet, and many with similar styling, can be purchased on this website. Once you register with Penny Auctions Canada, you are able to both bid on auctions, or purchase items outright. They feature several different categories of merchandise including jewelry, clothing and housewares. New items are being added on an ongoing basis, so it’s best to check back frequently. Bids are purchased for auctions in packs. For my readers only, if you purchase a 25 bid pack (regularly $18.75) with the coupon code Tomoson25 you will get another 25 bids absolutely free. By bidding on items like gift cards, the idea is that you are able to bid on gift cards which are going for less than their face value.

While the name of the website is Penny Auctions Canada, it is open to residents of the U.S. as well. If you check out their Facebook page, Penny Auctions offers its fans a chance  to win free bids, gift cards, and other cool items. No purchase necessary.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Product Review: K9 Advantix II For Dogs

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial.

K9advantixRight now, we are in the middle of a deep freeze, but at some point (hopefully soon!) the temperatures will begin to rise, the snow will melt, and the grasses and plants will start to grow once more. We are all getting a bit of cabin fever, it’s been so long and so cold up here this year. My dog Daisy is also itching to get back outside for her walks.

Each spring, just as we begin planting our flowers, we also have to keep in mind the flea and tick protection for our dog. This year will be no different. We received a supply of K9 Advantix II from to get Daisy’s flea and tick protection started this year.

K9 Advantix II provides protection against fleas, ticks (Deer ticks, American dog ticks, Brown dog ticks and Lone Star ticks), biting flies, mosquitoes and lice. It not only kills the offending insects, but it also repels them and protects your dog against future attacks.

One of the unique features of K9 Advantix II is that it offers multiple layers of protection against fleas; it can attack fleas at multiple points within its life cycle.


K9 Advantix II contains small tubes of liquid which are applied to your dog’s skin starting at the shoulder point and at a couple additional spots along the back and toward the tail. It is best to part your dog’s hair and expose a bit of its skin, leaving an ideal spot to administer some of the K9 Advantix II liquid. Each application lasts approximately one month. It is also waterproof, and so your dog retains its flea and tick protection, even if it gets wet.

K9 Advantix II comes in several different sizes, which correlate with the weight of your dog. It is truly and easy and effective way to give your beloved dog protection against fleas, ticks and other insects all year long.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Review/Giveaway: Kong Dog Toys From (Can/US) (03/20)

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial.


Does your dog like to play?

My dog Daisy is still pretty young, 2 years old, and she LOVES to play with her dog toys. She has a basket full of them, and she will root through them with her snout, and fish out her favorites. What a pup! The first thing she does when I get home from work is run to the toy basket, get a toy, and lay it at my feet. Ok, can you drop a hint or what!!!

When I learned that I would be reviewing a KONG dog toy from I was pretty stoked. My first dog, Hershey, was a chocolate lab who was pretty hard on his toys. I used to buy KONG toys for him, as they have a reputation for being really tough, even for the heavy duty chewers in the house.

Daisy is a small-ish dog, a cockapoo, but she is really hard on her toys. She chews most of them to smithereens. I have learned not to buy cheap toys at the dollar store because she will tear them to shreds in an hour. Buying a durable dog toy is a must, if you want your dog to get some good use of it.

KONG makes a wide variety of very durable dog toys. They run the range from squeakers, balls, ropes, tug toys and treat dispensers. I decided to order Daisy the KONG Wubba Toy. It is described as:

the ultimate interactive play toy for dogs. Wubbas are designed for you to play fetch and other interactive games with your dog. Durable reinforced nylon fabric covers two rubber balls (a tennis ball on top and a squeaker ball on the bottom). The long tails make it easy to pick up and throw.


When I got the package from, I told Daisy that momma had a new toy for her. She KNOWS that word! She immediately got into the pretty-girl begging position.

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As soon as I unwrapped the package, it was off to the races. Daisy was loving her new toy. We played fetch with the Wubba toy for the longest time. We have had the toy in our house for a few weeks, and it has stood up to all the abuse that our dog can hand out. She has not been able to chew it, which is great! That means many more months of happy play time with her toy.

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Daisy trying to hide her Wubba toy from Momma!

kong-wubba-toy-3We love her new KONG Wubba Toy, and would highly recommend KONG brand dog toys for your pup. They are top quality toys which stand up to the harshest punishment your dog can dish out. And they are designed for FUN!

Would you like to win a KONG dog toy for your canine friend? Well, you are in luck, as the kind folks at have generously offered one of my readers to win the KONG toy of choice for their dog. Good luck!

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Product Review:


I was recently introduced to a website called I confess that I had never heard of them before, but after checking out their offerings, I had my eyes opened.

BuildASign is basically your one-stop website for any kind of custom made sign, banner, decal, window cling, business card, bumper sticker or magnetic sign. They are the world’s number one online retailer of custom signs.  The breadth of their product offerings is really impressive. Their online design tools allow you to design your own sign, including colors, graphics and fonts. You really can design any kind of sign that you have in mind.

It’s one of those things that is often overlooked, but having a colorful, professionally made sign or banner can really improve the overall impression of many events. This might include a yard sale, a charity fundraiser or even a home-based business. Having a poorly constructed home-made sign with bristol board and markers might make someone think that your event is disorganized or hastily planned.


I was given the opportunity to select a custom-made sign or banner to help facilitate this review. I elected to get some custom-made business cards for my blog, as I didn’t have an immediate need for a larger sign or banner. A year or so ago, I purchased some business cards for my blog, but I wasn’t entirely satisfied with how they turned out. So, I decided to start from scratch and design some new cards using and their online design tools. My preference is for a streamlined look without much clutter, so that is how I approached my new business cards. After I placed my order, I was happy to find out that my cards were produced and shipped quickly. Within a week, I had my new business cards. They were exactly what I had expected, and they looked great.


I was really happy with my purchase from If you have a need for high quality custom designed signs, banners, magnets, decals or business cards, then you definitely will want to give their web store a visit. All products are 100% satisfaction guaranteed. Products can be delivered in the United States and Canada. In fact, for many products delivered within the continental U.S., shipping is absolutely free.

Disclosure: I was given a store credit in order to purchase the aforementioned product in order to facilitate the review. No other compensation was received. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.