Domino's Pizza versus Local Pizza

    We usually order our pizza online from a local pizza shop (Brockport, NY).  The other day I heard that our local shop was renaming some of their stores in order to avoid paying healthcare and the minimum wage to their employees.  This really upset me as those employees don't get that much money to begin with.  There is a delivery charge, usually $4, which does not go to the person who delivers the pizza. That's an extra optional tip. I don't think the pizza box costs $4!  We thought that we should try an experiment and order from a few stores, including the big chain pizza shops, in order to find the best pizza with the best value.

   This past weekend we tried Domino's Pizza, since it was advertised quite often on TV, it was well known and it was close by.  If the pizza was picked up, instead of being delivered, the cost was cheaper.  So we called and ordered an extra large pizza plus some chicken bites.  When I went to the store to pick up the pizza it wasn't quite ready so I had a chance to watch the pizzas being made.  I noticed the employees pouring some white substance from a bottle onto the uncooked pizza dough and this didn't look too appetizing. I had no idea what it was. When I saw the sauce being added to the pizza it appeared to be put on sparingly.  After a few minutes my order was ready and I returned home.

    The pizza really looked appetizing, which is more than I can say for the chicken bites.  There were 3 of us in the family eating the pizza, which amounted to 2 pieces each, out of an extra large pizza. I must admit that the slices were quite generous though.  The crust was thin, the way we like it, and it was fairly good.  The pepperoni and sausage was plentiful and also was quite tasty.  However, the small amount of sauce could not even be tasted!  The cheese, if it was really cheese, also had no taste. Overall we rated the pizza as just okay.  The chicken bites were another story.  I think there was supposed to be melted cheese on the chicken, but it did not look nor taste anything like cheese.  There was also some kind of indescribable sauce on what was supposed to be chicken.  To sum up the chicken bites, they were disgusting

    We agreed that we most likely would not order Domino's pizza again, unless there was no other choice.  We definitely would not order the chicken bites again!  The next time we order pizza we'll try some other store and see how that compares.  I'll keep you posted.

Red Sea Max E-Series 260


    When I first decided to set up a saltwater aquarium I bought a Coralife Biocube 29, which was considered a nano tank.  This tank had a built- in sump in the back and a cover with both a fluorescent white light and an actinic light, as well as an LED Moon light.  The pump was included so all I needed to buy was the live rock, filter media and the fish.  This setup was all I needed as a complete beginner to the saltwater fish hobby and it was less expensive than buying the individual parts I needed.  This worked great until I wanted to add a couple more fish and corals.  The problem with a smaller tank like this is that once something goes wrong with the water the entire tank is affected very quickly.  I had numerous outbreaks of green hair algae and had a very difficult time getting rid of it.  I also spent a lot of money replacing fish that had died.  Part of the problem with dying fish was that my LFS (local fish store) sold me fish that were incompatible. The LFS owner kept saying she would come and see my tank to help me figure out my problem. She never did. It was all talk.  She was more interested in selling  fish!

    After about 2 years with this tank I had to decide if I wanted to give up the hobby or get a bigger tank.  I decided to visit a bigger shop that dealt only with saltwater fish and corals and equipment.  After talking with the owners, who were very helpful, my husband and I settled upon a Red Sea Max E-series 260 aquarium setup, which is a 70 gallon tank. This was a reef ready setup with little else to buy.  I wanted to keep fish and Kevin wanted to keep corals, so this was perfect.  This setup included the sump in the back, a powerful protein skimmer, LED lights, media basket and sponges, pumps and cabinet.  We paid a little extra to get an ATO (automatic water top off) and a heater.  We chose the white cabinet which was a little more expensive,  instead of the black cabinet. A few months later we bought a lid because some of the fish we wanted were "jumpers" and the lid would prevent loss of these fish.

    Once we picked up the aquarium and cabinet it was quite easy to assemble everything.  We then transferred our live rock, some of the sand and water and the snails and hermit crabs to the new tank. After about a week we transferred the fish and eventually added new fish and of course corals.  Since we have had the Red Sea setup we have had no problems with the water quality or algae blooms.  It honestly is much easier taking care of this tank than the Biocube 29 we had previously.  I would highly recommend the Red Sea Max E- Series tanks to anyone, either a beginner or someone who simply want sto upgrade their existing tank. You can check out the options here on the Red Sea website.


Shed Pal, a Waste of Money

    I rarely purchase items which I have seen advertised on Facebook, but this item was intriguing.  We have two dogs that shed constantly and we have been looking for a way to reduce this shedding.  The "Shed Pal" was advertised as an "incredible cordless pet vac".  It was touted as a "mess-free way to control shedding".  The tool is made of plastic and has a collection cup which is supposed to collect the dog hair "as you groom".  The package describes the Shed Pal as being for long and short hair pets, including cats and dogs.  It also says it has a quiet motor. The unit is battery operated and made in China

    Upon receipt of the Shed Pal I put in 3 brand new AA batteries, which were not included.  I tried it to see how quiet the motor was. It wasn't too loud. I then tried it on one of my dogs. Surprisingly she wasn't afraid of the sound. I groomed the dog for a few minutes and not one single hair was picked up in the collection canister!  I then tried it on some very small scraps of paper and once again nothing was picked up!  There is not enough suction to pick up dust, much less pet hairs!  

    In conclusion I would say that the Shed Pal is a complete waste of money as it is a useless piece of crap.  I certainly do not recommend it to anyone!

Lose Weight with Weight Watchers!

    During the past 4 or 5 years I put on a lot of extra weight due to a lack of exercise and not watching what I was eating.  I admit I love food, but not exercise.  I developed asthma and sinus problems that interfered with my exercise routine, which didn't help me with my weighy.  Last year I decided to lose weight. I tried some of the fad diets that simply did not work. Each one I tried left me starving and sacrificing my favorite foods.  I would lose a few pounds quickly and then put it back on because I was starving. 

    Then a couple of my neighbors told me about Weight Watchers, which both belonged to.  I was a bit apprehensive at first as I thought it was only for women.  But with a little coaxing from my neighbors and my husband I joined Weight Watchers.  I've been a member for 2 months now and have lost a total of 15.8 pounds.  The good thing is that I did this without depriving myself of my favorite foods or starving to death!  I was able to eat as much fruit and vegetables and seafood as I wanted and even eat ice cream and pizza!  There is a great variety of foods that your are allowed and even encouraged to eat so that you don't go hungry.  By the way there are quite a few men who belong to Weight Watchers!

    I would strongly recommend to anyone who is having difficulty losing weight that you give Weight Watchers a try. You won't regret it!


Amazon Fire Stick

Wikimedia Commons

    For the past few years since moving into our new home I have been complaining about both cable and satellite TV options and having to pay outrageous prices for tons of channels that I don't want. Both cable and satellite providers offer packages that include up to 85% of their programming as home shopping channels, religious channels or channels showing the same infomercials 24/7.  In order to receive the one of two channels I really liked I would have to pay as much as 2 or 3 times the basic subscription rates!  In my other blog, Free Flowing Waves,  I go into further detail about my complaints. 

   As I stated in my blog post, mentioned above, we decided to buy the Amazon Firestick and give it a try.  Firestick has received some very good reviews and it was not expensive, $39.99 from Amazon Prime.  So we ordered it and since we have Prime we received free shipping and next day delivery.  As far as I am concerned, this is one of our best decisions!  Prime services like HBO, Cinemax, Showtime etc. cost an arm and a leg if  you were to subscribe to them and they aren't the most current movies either! If you have Amazon Prime and Firestick your are given unlimited access to thousand of movies and TV shows offered by Prime video.  

    What I really like is that I can search for old TV shows which I loved when I was growing up or search for episodes of my favorite shows that I could not afford to subscribe to with cable or satellite.  When we received our Firestick it was just a day or two after the Oscars were announced.  I thought I would give it a try and search for some of the movie winners that interested me. No problem. I found them and watched them in the comfort of our own home.  I would have had to wait  a long time to view these movies on cable or satellite and would have had to pay a fortune to be able to do so. 

    All you need to have for a Firestick is a Smart TV and a good Internet connection speed and your set to go.  The installation is quite easy as all you have to do is plug it into your TV and follow the simple instructions.  I don't consider myself a techie, but I have no problem using this device.  You don't need Amazon Prime, but having it does give you more options.  Amazon Prime costs $99 per year (student rate is $49 per year) and the Firestick is a one time cost of $39.99.  Having Firestick will cost $8.25 a month compared to paying cable or satellite subscription that could cost well over $90 a month! 

    I would highly recommend Amazon Firestick to anyone who is sick and tired of paying exorbitant fees to cable and satellite TV for hundreds of useless channels.  

Algae Fix for Hair Algae Problems

    Hair algae is a big problem for anyone who keeps a saltwater tank and one that can be quite devastating to any kind of marine aquarium.  I have been keeping saltwater fish for a bit over a year now and have had at least 2 very serious algae blooms that killed of a number of fish and corals.  I have used the advice found on various reef and saltwater forums to help combat the dreaded hair algae problem.  I have also relied heavily on my local fish store for advice and help.  Most online forums emphasize the need for frequent water changes and keeping phosphate levels at 0.  I do biweekly water changes and that usually keeps my phosphates and other perimeters where they should be.  But just in the past month or so, for some reason my phosphates began to rise to 0.25, while nitrates and ammonia were 0.  As this happened the hair algae began to slowly bloom.  I used Phosban and phosphate absorbing sponges, but nothing changed.  My local fish store, as well as some online forums  recommended API Algae Fix every 3 days to control the algae.  I manually removed the hair algae with a toothbrush and cleaned the live rock, along with water changes. I then began using API Algae Fix as directed, but the algae keeps growing. I admit that there is a good amount of dead algae along with the fresh growth. My snails and algae eating blennies don't seen to be interested in doing their job and eating the algae

    What is depressing is that two new fish have died, which before they disappeared seemed quite healthy.  Yesterday I did another water change, picked off algae from the gravel and vacuumed it, scrubbed the live rock and adjusted the protein skimmer in hopes of destroying the hair algae.  I know many reviewers swear by Algae Fix, while others say that it has no affect.  As for me I am not sure if it very slowly helping my algae situation or it is of no help at all.   At this time I will neither recommend Algae Fix nor deny that it is useless.  I will give it another month to see what happens. Stay tuned!

Fluval Sea P2 Mini Protein Skimmer


      After having no luck with the Coralife Biocube protein skimmer, which I had posted about earlier here, I purchased the Fluval Sea PS2 Mini Protein Skimmer for my Biocube 29. I had researched this skimmer online and found nothing regarding whether or not it would git into my Biocube. According to the dimensions from I was quite sure it would fit into my tank, so I bought it from my local fish store, Marine Oasis

    After opening the package and inspecting everything I attempted to fit it into the 3rd chamber of my Biocube. Finally after about an hour I manged to tentatively fit it in, even though it was a bit wobbly.  It seemed to work okay, but each time I opened the lid or did water changes the position of the skimmer would change.  After a number of attempts to relocate it I thought I had the perfect fit.  It began to produce a skimmate which I thought meant it was working fine.  Unfortunately I was wrong. One morning I smelled something burning and found that the skimmer had overflown and blew the collection cup lid off and was spewing water onto the wall in back of the tank. This ran down the wall and hit the electrical socket causing smoke and sparks. Luckily I was able to disconnect everything avoiding a potentially disastrous fire. Even though I had protective loops in all of the electrical cords it did no good, as the water ran down the wall and not the cords!

    After a week or so I replaced the power strip and emailed  Fluval customer support, explaining what happened and asked if they had  any suggestions. They basically told me to read the directions, which of course did not have any information regarding my situation!  Finally I  managed to fit the unit into the second chamber of my tank, where it has been for more than a week and working well.  This protein skimmer does not have a wooden airstone, but a propeller driven system to produce bubbles, which saves a bit of money. 

    So far the Fluval Sea PS2 Mini Protein Skimmer seems to be working fine, after many adjustments. I believe this product is a good buy for nano tanks under 30 gallons.  But before you buy it please do your research as I don't feel Fluval's customer support is very helpful. I bought this unit for less than $60, which is much cheaper than many protein skimmers on the market.  The reviews I have read on Amazon and other sites highly also highly recommend it.