Thursday, May 21, 2015

Make a CPAP Tube Holder for Less than $5 in Under 15 Minutes

DIY CPAP Tube Holder

When my sleep specialist told me that I had mild sleep apnea and needed to use a CPAP machine, I didn't know anything about the technology or how to use it. I did some research about CPAP accessories that I'd need and saw that a lot of other people use gadgets that elevate their CPAP tubes to prevent "rain outs," the build of condensation in a CPAP mask. 

The problem with CPAP tube holders is that they aren't cheap. (Most CPAP supplies are not budget-friendly.) After seeing this CPAP hose holder for about $15 to $30 at various online retailers, I liked the idea and knew that I could make my own for a fraction of the cost.  

How to Make an Inexpensive CPAP Tube Holder


  • 2 retractable ID badge holders: Look for reel-type badge holders that have a 36-inch retractable cord, vinyl strap with snaps at the end of the cord, and a carabiner or keychain at the top. The set I purchased (see link and image) was $10.68 for a pack of four, so each one cost $2.67.
The ID badge holders I purchased.
  •  2 self-gripping cable ties: The ties I purchased are made of Velcro, measure 8.5 inches and have a slot, or hole, on one end. This pack of 100 ties cost me $4.99, so each tie was about $0.05 each.
 DIY CPAP Tube Holder

  • 1 hook: Any hook will do as long as the carabiners fit over the end and it's strong enough to support the weight of your tube (and your nighttime pulling on it). The one pictured cost me $1.59.


Steps to Make the CPAP Tube Holder

  1. Open the snaps on the retractable ID badge holders' vinyl straps.
  2. Thread the end of the vinyl strap through the slot at the end of the Velcro cable tie. Then close the snap. (See picture)

DIY CPAP Tube Holder for Less than $5
The vinyl strap fits perfectly through the slot in the cable tie.

DIY CPAP Tube Holder for Less than $5
The cable tie is so thin that you can thread it through the slot with the vinyl strap in place. 
     3. Mount the hook on a wall or where ever you want the CPAP tube to hang.
     4. Slip the assembled ID badge holder onto the hook.
     5. Wrap the cable ties around your CPAP hose.

DIY CPAP Tube Holder for Less than $5
Finished project
The total cost of all the supplies was $17.26. The individual CPAP hose holder set, including the hook, cost $4.67. Since the pack of ID badge holders came with four items, I made a second set of tube holders to use with a strong removable Command hook for when I travel.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Artistic Lettering with Chalk Markers

I received the products mentioned in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed are 100 percent my own. (Reference ID pm767c23430487b6c64d45b83d5d32e9a1 & pm8cc0225cb9ed2421038a1325a46c562a)

You  know those cool hand-drawn signs at the supermarket? I never knew what the artists used on them until now. They use chalk markers. Coloré sent me two sets of its markers: the Brilliant White Liquid Chalk Markers and the 8 Pack of Bright Vibrant Colors.

The eight-pack of markers comes with a soft plastic holder, like the one you see in this picture. The cup easily fits 10 markers.

I tested the colors out on black, non-porous craft labels. As you can see, some of the colors look more opaque than the others. The best solid colors came from the white, yellow, purple and blue markers. The white, blue and yellow markers seemed to dry the fastest. I found that paints that were slower to dry tended to drip (because of gravity) or feather (depending on the surface).  

Artistic lettering using chalk markers
I didn't use any particular fonts for the labels; it's just my regular handwriting.
After doing some experiments, I found that if you want the opaque letters to stand out, you have to write the word using the white marker first. After the paint dries, trace over the letters using your color of choice. In this instance, I used hot pink over the white letters, followed by bright yellow for the accents. I then used purple to give the letters an added layer of dimension.

Chalk marker tip
Left: Without a white paint base; Right: With a white paint base

I'm not always naturally creative or artistic. Sometimes, I watch videos to get ideas or learn techniques. Check out this video about how to draw artistic letters with chalk markers (skip to 1:04 to get to the lesson): 


Saturday, May 16, 2015

Father's Day Gift Ideas

I received the following products in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed are 100 percent my own.

Father’s Day is about a month away. I, personally, have a hard time shopping for men, especially those who just purchase whatever they like or seem to be picky. The best solution I found is to buy gifts for men that are useful, match their lifestyle or go with a hobby they like.

Gifts for Gadget Lovers

  • Grounded outlet: With everyone owning an electronic device, electric outlets are a commodity in homes. The Revelite Grounded Power Strip has six grounded three-pronged outlets and two USB ports. When the LED light on it illuminates, it signals that it’s providing grounded surge protection. The cord on this device is 1.5 feet long. I like power strips with longer cords, but this one is good for countertops. I also like that it has two USB ports, which frees up two of the outlets when you need to charge your phone or tablet. 
  • Bluetooth headphones: I’m a big fan of Bluetooth headphones because of the flexibility they offer over corded headphones. I recently received the Silicone Devices Wireless Bluetooth Headphones, which are Bluetooth ear buds. In my opinion, they sound as good as the Samsung corded ear buds that came with my Galaxy cell phone in regards to music, video and call quality. I actually didn’t expect to be so pleased with how well they work. The headphones were simple to connect to my phone and they have a 30-foot range. Most ear buds don’t stay put in my ears, but these do. They come with a variety of silicone tips and fin-like things that you attach to make the buds stay in your ears. The tips and fins are somewhat hard to secure to the buds, but this means that they won’t fall off easily. When I made phone calls using the ear buds, the people on the other end of the line had no problem hearing me. The ear buds have two volume buttons, as well as a power button that receives and ends calls. The only thing I would change is the length of the charging cord; I think it’s too short.

    In addition to outlets, Rebelite makes Bluetooth Talk n’ Walk Headphones with a built-in microphone. These are larger stereo headphones with cushioned ear pads. They’re available in a variety of colors; I chose the red pair. This pair of headphones has 33-foot range. In terms of price, these headphones are more affordable than the Bluetooth ear buds. The headphones have a series of buttons for volume control, playing and pausing music, and changing tracks. I found that the headphones are best for music-listening purposes rather than making phone calls.

Gifts for Cooks

  • Spiral slicer: As one of the most popular kitchen gadgets to hit the market, spiral slicers make eating vegetables fun. Now that I have a low-carb lifestyle, I wanted spaghetti alternative. If your dad is trying to eat healthier, consider the Safe Skins Spiral Slicer from Kitopia. It comes with two julienne blade sizes on either side, a cleaning brush, finger guard and storage pouch. While I appreciate the finger guard, I find that it kind of chews up the end of the vegetable (maybe I’m not using it correctly). When you purchase this slicer, Kitopia sends you an e-book with 40 recipes. Right now, I really dig spiralizing cucumbers and carrots.

  • Salad spinner: Most homes have salad spinners in them. I find, however, that many single men don’t own them. Encourage your dad to eat healthier with the Brieftons Salad Spinner. This spinner replaced my old spinner—that’s how much I liked it. This spinner is huge and easily cleans a whole head of lettuce in it. The clear plastic bowl that it comes with doubles as a serving bowl, too. The pump on the lid spins the removable colander. A small button on the lid stops the spinning. To save space, the handle locks into place when you push it down and slide the locking mechanism forward. This spinner is a winner in my book.
  • LED grill light: Make grilling at night safer for your dad with the Grilluminator BBQ Grill Light. The weather-resistant light easily clamps onto most grill handles. When you open the hood, you simply swivel the light’s head so it shines onto the food. One of the features that I like the best is the on/off switch. It’s a touch sensor instead of a button, making it super easy to use. While the light is weather-resistant, I don’t recommend leaving it on the grill as a permanent fixture.

  • Hamburger patty maker: Help your dad make the perfect hamburgers with the Yumms! Burger Press Hamburger Patty Maker. This patty maker shapes and presses ground meat into perfect 4 ½-inch disks that are up to 5/8 of an inch tall. It even forms dimples in them so they cook evenly. I like this patty maker because it allows me to make hamburgers without touching raw meat using the special lifter. The press comes with 10 burger recipes.

Gifts for Dads Who Like the Outdoors

  • Paracord bracelet: Paracord has multiple uses when your outdoors. The Legend Paracord Survival Bracelet has a special feature that I particularly like—a whistle on the buckle. Whistles are essential whenever you’re outdoors. Some emergency whistles are bulky or a pain to wear around your neck. This bracelet has the whistle integrated into the buckle. While the bracelet is well-made and looks attractive, I’d choose it because it has a whistle. (I know an individual who was stuck in the woods with a broken hip for over a day. Search and rescue workers would have found him sooner if he had a whistle.)


Gifts for Dads Who Love Cars

  • Tire pressure gauge: It’s a good idea to keep a tire pressure gauge in every car. I like the Heavy Duty Tire Pressure Gauge from Federico’s Car Care. It’s an analog gauge with a cool gear-like the design made of rubber, which protects the part of the unit that displays the PSI pressure. The chuck has a 360-degree rotating head for valves that are hard to reach. It also has an air bleeder valve. This gauge is sturdier than the cheaper pen-style type (and is probably more accurate).

  • Microfiber cloths: I’ve learned that you can’t use just any cloth to clean a car. In addition to the tire gauge, Federico’s Car Care sells a five-pack of Microfiber Cleaning Cloths. The cloths are lint-free, super soft and reusable. They measure 16-by-12 inches, so you don’t need a ton to get the job done, and you can use them wet or dry. Right now, I’m using the towels to dust my home electronics. They work a lot better than terry cloths and dusters, which tend to leave dust or lint behind. The microfiber clothes are washing machine-safe.

  • Windshield sunshade: The X-Shade Car Windshield Shade has two panels instead of one, making it a lot more compact and user- and passenger-friendly. The panels pop open nicely and are simple to fold in on themselves. The fabric on the end of the panels has an elastic loop to help hold the folded panels in place. The shade will keep your dad’s car cooler on hot days and protect the interior from sun-related damage, like fading or cracking. The little storage bag that comes with the shade is a nice touch, but the opening sometimes seems a bit too small.

What Father’s Day gift ideas do you have?

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Free Crochet Pattern

I received the item mentioned in exchange for an honest review on my blog. The opinions expressed are 100 percent my own. 

I enjoy making my own accessories. In this picture, my stuffed bear is modeling a scarf that I made during the winter.

A free-hand scarf that I knitted and crochets.
While I like to crochet, my hands get tired. Thankfully, Epic Belle recently sent me its set of nine crochet hooks. Check out this video to see my review:

I'm all about crochet patterns that are free and simple to make. This one from RED HEART looks like a promising project:
Image from RED HEART
I like to save crochet patterns that I want to try someday to Pinterest. Check out my Crochet & Knitting Pinterest board.

Follow Flora Richards-Gustafson's board Crochet & Knitting on Pinterest.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Lotions and Oils for Your Health

I received the following products in exchange for a review on my blog. The opinions expressed are 100 percent my own. 

Just as your skin absorbs lotions and oils, it also absorbs nutrients. I never really thought about this until I started using lotions that contain vitamin supplements in them, like the Vita Sciences vitamin D3 cream that I recently reviewed. As I’ve use new skincare products, I’ve looked into the health benefits of each. The following are products that I’ve recently tried:
  • Vita Sciences Maxabsorb Melatonin Sleep Cream: Your brain produces melatonin naturally to help you sleep. Some people use it, according to MedlinePlus, to help them fall asleep, to treat headaches or to treat tinnitus (ringing in the ears). Vita Sciences’ melatonin cream delivers 3 milligrams of melatonin with each pump.

    I generally take up to 2.5 milligrams of melatonin when I can’t sleep. When I have insomnia, I’ll take up to 5 milligrams. I found that one pump of the melatonin cream didn’t really make me feel sleep. More relaxed, yes, but sleepy, no. Two pumps, however, knocks me out. I usually use one pump and then wait 1 to 2 hours before using the cream for the second time. This makes me wonder if my body absorbs melatonin tablets better than the cream. If you’re new to melatonin, you may benefit from the cream.
  • VitaSciences Maxabsorb Vitamin B 12 Cream: Other Vita Science creams that I’ve used are white and scent-free. This B12 cream is pepto-pink and smells like peppermint. Actually, to me, it smells like peppermint bubblegum at first, but then fades into a pennyroyal or catnip scent. Either way, I like it.

    One pump of this lotion delivers 320 micrograms of methylcovalamin (vitamin B12), 120 micrograms of niacinamide (vitamin B3) and 10 micrograms of folic acid. The MedlinePlus states that vitamin B12 is vital for DNA synthesis and cell health. The best sources of it come from animal sources, such as meat, eggs and dairy products. People who are older or have digestive disorders may not absorb enough B12 in their foods.

    A report on the Neuropsychopharmacology website states that vitamin B12 affects melatonin production in the brain, helping you feel more alert and awake. Because of this, I use B12 in the morning. My skin quickly absorbs the lotion and it doesn’t feel greasy.

    Vitamin B3, according to MedlinePlus, is good for controlling high cholesterol and helping those with circulation problems, migraines, diabetes, brain health and those who feel stressed. The site points out only niacin, not niacinamide, helps reduce cholesterol. I’ve noticed that since I started using the B12 cream, I have been in a better mood.

  • La Beauté Pure Vitamin C Eye Gel: Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps your skin, connective tissues and bones. It also promotes healing. The National Institutes of Health states that vitamin C helps the body produce collagen. This eye cream is 99 percent natural and 72 organic. It contains 5 percent vitamin C, as well as aloe vera, jojoba oil and hyaluronic acid. When you use it regularly, it helps reduce puffiness and dark circles.

    The gel smells and feels like another eye gel that I tried in the past. It has a light citrus scent and provides soothing, light moisture. I use the gel during the day and a more moisturizing product at night.

  • Skleer Skin Conditioning Gel: Skleer is a product that comes out of South Africa. It uses eucalyptus, caraway, tea tree, cinnamon and cardamom oils to heal, nourish and correct your skin. You can use it on your face and body to treat acne, dermatitis, dry skin, insect bites, minor burns, hives, sunburns, sunspots and rashes.

    I was hesitant to use Skleer on my face because of all the potent essential oils in it, even though the manufacturer states that it’s ideal for delicate skin. I’ve used eucalyptus oil for ear infections, for example, and it feels as if some is sticking a hot dagger in it. I’m happy to report that I did not experience any skin irritation when I used Skleer. I tried it as a facial cream a few times, but found that it didn’t deliver enough moisture for my needs.  It also felt too sticky for my liking. I do like to use it every day, however, for dry patches of skin.

  • Nura Natural Organic Cold Pressed Rosehip Seed Oil: Rosehip seed oil is one of my favorite facial moisturizers to use. Oil on my face? Yes! It only takes a few drops to moisturize your whole face and it’s light on the skin.

    Rosehip seed oil naturally contains antioxidants (e.g., lycopene), vitamins (e.g., vitamin C) and essential fatty acids. It helps heal your skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines. According to the Huffington Post, ancient civilizations used rosehip seed oil for its healing properties. You can also use it on dry scalp to relieve itchiness.

    Nura Natural’s oil comes in a dark bottle with nice a nice floral label. Like other quality rosehip seed oils, the oil is dark yellow and does not smell like roses. It works exactly as I expect it to work. I recommend rosehip seed oil to everyone.
What types of healing lotions or moisturizers do you like to use?

Monday, May 4, 2015

Fastest Way to Intall a Bathtub

I received the following product in exchange for a review on my blog. The opinions expressed are 100 percent my own.

I had no idea that  inflatable bathtubs existed until recently. When I saw this inflatable bathtub from Quick Solve, I immediately thought of my sister. When she began her cancer treatments last year for leukemia, there were several times when she desired to take a bath, but couldn't because she does not have a tub at her home. She only has a shower. Since she cannot be around places that have a lot of bacteria and mold, the hot tub at the public pool facility is out of the question. This tub solves a lot of problems as her germs will be the only ones in the water and she doesn't have to remodel her bathroom.

  Inflatable Tub Specs

  • Weight: 6.2 pounds
  • Dimensions: 60 inches long, 33 inches high, 18 inches deep
  • Extras: Beverage holder, inflatable pillow and hole repair kit

The plastic material from which the tub is made is similar to the material found on inflatable mattress. It seems pretty sturdy. I am 6 feet talk and fit comfortably inside the tub.

The tub comes with a cover that's simple to zip and un-zip. I recommend that you keep it zipped to retain the heat in warm water. 

If you use the tub outside, I recommend placing a tarp under the tub so rocks and other debris don't pierce it.

The water drains from the foot of the tub.

Holes are simple to repair with this patch kith. 

The tub does not come with a air pump, so either have to blow in the air (which I don't recommend) or use a electric or manual pump.
I used the pump for my inflatable camping mattress
Inflating the tub with my pump
I like that the tub has smaller and larger holes from which you can inflate it. I took the caps off the larger holes to quickly release the air inside the tub's panels.

Short drain hose
The tub comes with a short drain hose. If you are using the tub inside your home, I recommend using a longer drain hose and duct tape (to secure to the drain hole on the outside of the tub). The drain hose that comes included is good for diverting water away from the tub if you're using it outside. If you're inside, however, this tub will not fit in most bathrooms, so you'll need a hose that's long enough to reach a sink or shower drain.

Other accessories that I recommend using are a garden hose and a faucet adapter if you plan to use the tub inside your home. These will allow you to hook the hose up to the faucet in your sink, so you can fill up the tub without carrying buckets of water.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Brand Names Are Not Always the Best

I received the products mentioned in exchange for an honest review on my blog. The opinions expressed are 100 percent my own.

I’m a big fan of products that work as well (if not better) as their more expensive counterparts. While there are times when buying brand-name products is better, I like to save money whenever possible. One of my favorite things about doing product review is discovering companies that make quality products at affordable prices. The following are some of my favorites.

Cheap Replacement Toothbrush Heads

I have a fancy Sonicare toothbrush that I love because my teeth always feel so clean. The problem, however, is that the replacement heads are so expensive. BrushBrite sent me its Philips sonic toothbrush replacement heads, which cost nearly $20 less than the brand-name replacements. 

Here’s a video of my review:

Knife Sharpener

I like to use a sharpening steel to sharpen my kitchen knives, but there are times when I need to sharpen other tools, like scissors, garden shears and garden knives. For these items, I rely on sharpening tools, like Priority Chef’s 2-Stage Knife Sharpener. Instead of sharpening knives into a V-shape, it gives them a concave, or curved, finish so they stay sharper for longer periods. 

The first stage of the knife has tungsten carbide blades that sharpen dull blades. The ceramic blades in the second stage give the edge of a knife blade a concave finish. You only need to pass the blade through each “stage” of the sharpener a few times. 

I like how simple the sharpener is to use, as well as the no-slip material on the bottom. The only downside is that you cannot use it with ceramic knives and serrated knives. It may be difficult to use on santoku knives. 

For under $15, this knife sharpener is a good addition to your kitchen if you don’t have (or don’t know how to use) a sharpening steel.

Smartphone and Tablet Stand

I love watching videos on my smartphone, but I always have to hold it in place. Scopo sent me a universal tablet and smartphone stand that’s compact and folds flat. It has a grippy material at the bottom, so the stand doesn't slide around the surface that I'm using. I wanted to try this product because I don't have a smartphone or a phone cover with a kickstand, which I like to use when watching videos or looking at instructions online. The stand works perfectly and I'd recommend it to those who want one for their own phone or tablet.

The only thing that I didn't like about the stand is that it did not come with instructions. I knew how the product was supposed to look when assembled, but it was a little tricky for me to figure which end to lift to create the triangle-like shape seen in the picture. If I were to send this to someone as a gift, I'd have to explain what it is and how to assemble it.

Makeup Brush Set

I love to wear makeup, but lack a quality brush set. I just have random brushes that I received as free-gifts-with-purchase. Xtava hooked me up with its 7-piece Essential Brushes Kit makeup brush set, which comes with a carrying case. The kit comes with one of each:
  • Powder brush
  • Foundation brush
  • Kabuki brush
  • Precision eyebrow definer brush
  • Eye shadow base brush
  • Eye shader brush
  • Lip brush
The packaging that the brushes come in is nice and the brush case has an extra pocket in which you can store some makeup or other beauty tools. The brushes feel as if they are good quality and have a good blend of natural and synthetic bristles (natural isn’t always the best). 

The carrying pouch has a faux leather material and pockets for each brush, which I like. I wish Xtava would have labeled each brush so I had a better idea about how to use them, especially eye shadow ones.

Body Lotion

My skin is always thirsty. With the weather drying up, my skin feels irritated and itchy. Thankfully, the Adamia Therapeutic Repair Lotion came right on time. The lotion uses macadamia nut oil, which mimics the oil found in your skin. It’s fragrance-free, absorbs into the skin quickly and doesn’t stain clothing. 

The cream feels rich, but it’s not greasy. Even when I think I have too much lotion in my hands, my skin soaks it up. It moisturizes my nails, too. With regular use, Adamia can heal and fortify fragile, stressed or damaged skin. I plan to use this on my feet daily this summer. I’ve even used it on my face with good results. The bottle in which the lotion comes is big and you only need a bit of cream to sooth your skin.

Hand Sanitizing Wipes

One of the big brands of hand sanitizers sells hand-sanitizing wipes, which I like to keep in my purse or travel bag. The problem with these wipes is its smell. While I don’t mind the strong rubbing alcohol-like scent, other people do. 

After trying Softy’s surface sanitizing wipes and liking them, I tried the Softy Hand Sanitizing Wipes. The wipes come in individual packets, and at the time of publication, a box comes with 100 wipes for under $20. 

The wipes are larger than any other brand of wipes that I’ve used. They’re also stronger and softer. I tested the wipes after using castor oil, which is sticky. I thought the wipe would rip for sure because I was rubbing my hands pretty hard, but it never did. Furthermore, I only needed one wipe to clean both hands. 

The wipe’s scent is mild and has no alcohol scent, so it’s safe to use around those hate the smell of rubbing alcohol. My husband likes the wipes so much that he grabbed a handful for his hobby kit.

Rechargeable Batteries

Rechargeable batteries are initially more expensive than traditional ones, but they last a lot longer. I had no idea that rechargeable D batteries and 9-volt batteries existed until a few weeks ago, and was instantly interested in testing SunLabz D Rechargeable Batteries

You need a special battery charger to charge larger batteries because traditional chargers are too small. SunLabz’ batteries come with a bit of a charge, but you need to charge them further when you receive them. So far, I’m happy with the battery and am happy that I don’t have spend my money on new regular D batteries anymore.