Product Review: Smuckers Natural Strawberry Fruit Spread – HaliPawz

I occasionally enjoy toast with peanut butter and strawberry jam in the morning for breakfast. I am not one to eat PB&J sandwiches, so this is the only time I get to taste these flavors together.  I normally use American Spoon Early Glow Strawberry Preserves which I purchase from a small store up in Michigan when I’m there.  I love the taste, the texture, and there are only three ingredients; strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice. I normally get there before I run out but this time I did not, so there I was, in Wal-Mart, looking for an alternative.  Before discovering the American Spoon product, I had always been loyal to Smuckers so when I saw the Smuckers Natural Strawberry Fruit Spread, I decided to purchase it.  I liked the fact it only had four ingredients. It was non GMO (which, to be honest, I don’t know if other brands are as well or not, I know sometimes they put labels on items for consumer value when the truth is, most products fall under the same category and just don’t say it). Either way, I bought into the hype, the ingredients, and it had the Smuckers’ label, so it went into my cart.  

I still had a day or two of the American Spoon product left, so I didn’t try it right away.  It sat unopened for about four days. I decided to open it and try it this morning.  

Now, before I go on with my review, I know one is a preserve and one is a fruit spread, so I want to explain the difference and also say, I’m trying not to compare the two.  It would not be fair.  I am reviewing it on its own merit as a fruit spread and nothing more. Preserves mean the fruit contained is in the form of actual fruit chunks. “Fruit Spread” usually means it is a jam or preserve made without sugar.  Since the second ingredient on the Smucker’s product is sugar, I realized they were not following that particular logic. Since the first ingredient is strawberries, I was hoping this product more closely resembled a preserve and not a jam. In Jam, the fruit contained is in the form of a pulp.  It can get rather confusing so I usually lean towards preserves because then I know there should be some actual fruit in the product! 

Upon opening, I saw the typical smooth top you generally see on a new product. If you look closely, you can see some shadows, which told me there were some chunks in it.  


I don’t like my toast extremely “toasty” I only leave it in the toaster long enough to harden the outside but it is still someone soft when you bite into it.  I put my Jif Extra Crunch Peanut Butter on the toast and then dipped my knife into the new fruit spread.  I have to admit, as the name says, it did spread quite nicely.  Even with the extra crunchy peanut butter, it was easy to spread around without having the appearance of being drippy. I also noticed one or two actual chunks of strawberry. Always a plus when you aren’t sure what you are purchasing. 


I bit into the toast. I intentionally did not bite the side with the largest strawberry chunk as I wanted to get the real flavor.  I was a little disappointed at first and had to remind myself not to compare to the American Spoon product and really think about what I was tasting.  Could I taste the actual strawberry OVER the peanut butter.  Yes. Was the flavor pleasant? Yes.  Surprisingly, the part with the strawberry chunk tasted the same as the rest, so the flavor was consistent.  I also appreciated the consistency was thick enough it did not drip down onto the plate or my hand every time I took a bite. 

I think the product is good, not great.  I would like a little more strawberry flavor. Even with sugar as the second ingredient, I will say it is not very sweet, the strawberry is more prominent than the sugar but still a little faint from what I would prefer. Compared to other Smuckers products I have had, I would say it is the best of their products. I compared prices at Wal-Mart between their regular Strawberry Jam I grew up with and their Natural product. There wasn’t much difference so I would recommend the Natural over the regular Jam.  Just the ingredients alone make it a better choice.  

If you are a Smuckers fan, you will appreciate this product.   I would say overall, it is better than average but not the best I have ever had. It is a fair alternative when cost and availability is a factor. 

The Mice Battle Me vs. Them

I have mice. No one WANTS mice, it’s hard to admit it, yet here I am, battling mice. I want to say I have a mouse, because having one mouse sounds better than saying I have mice, but even I can’t convince myself of this anymore, since I saw two in my kitchen at the same time.

This battle has been going on for a couple of months now. I feel as if I am becoming a mouse expert with all of the research I have been doing. The one thing I have learned….there is no fool proof way to get rid of mice!

It all started a couple of months ago when I saw a mouse run along the wall of my living room. I started looking around and discovered they had found my open bag of dog food in my downstairs office. I had taken in a friend’s dog for a short time and I fed him in there. Never once thought about the bag of dog food being mouse heaven. I called a friend to ask for help. I hate killing living creatures so the thought was to catch & release like we had done one other time. This mouse was FAST and smart. He wasn’t having it.

I went out and bought a live trap from Wal-Mart. I was confident I was going to catch this mouse and all would be right in my world again.

I had caught the mouse! I was so happy. Seeing as how I freak out over the little creatures, I called on yet another friend to release it for me far, far away. I moved the dog food to a plastic bin. I had my house back! Yes!

Or so I thought. When my friend came back with the trap, it was in a couple of pieces (it had fallen apart as he was releasing them) and he said he had to was it. Wash it??? What??? He informed me I had caught two, not one and they had made a mess in the trap. My instant thought….NO WAY. The live trap has to go! I know it seems ridiculous but I did not want to have to keep cleaning this trap and putting it back together. I told him to just throw it away.

As I rounded the corner of my house, I screamed. It wasn’t a blood curdling, someone is trying to murder me scream, but it was a scream none the less. Sitting on TOP of my plastic dog food bin I had JUST put dog food in about an hour ago were three – four baby mice and one down on the floor! Since math WAS a strong subject, I could put it all together. Four or more baby mice plus two captured equals a big problem!

I scoured the Internet. I found out peppermint oil is supposed to repel mice. When I couldn’t find Peppermint Oil at the Wal-Mart I was at, a quick search helped me find a recipe of warm water, crushed Altoids, and dish detergent.

I loaded up on mousetraps. Not the live ones this time. When it was just a visitor passing through, I was ok with the catch & release. When they are so comfortable in my home they have a tea party, out in the open, they overstayed their welcome and need to be gone by any means necessary. Still being a squeamish baby about them, I bought the type you can’t see them in. I wanted to kill them, throw the trap away, and set out a new one. I did not want to have to see a dead mouse, I did not want to have to touch anything. I did not want the mice in my home anymore.

I chose those traps over the glue because I’m still humane, I didn’t want to have a mouse suffer a slow death. I didn’t want to SEE the mouse. Most importantly, I have two dogs of my own plus the additional one at that time, one of mine being a Jack Russell, I did not want the mouse to become a toy. Those were the reasons for not getting the poison bait. If they had to die, I wanted it to be in the most humane way possible.

Coming home, I set the traps with peanut butter and went to work making my Altoids / water / dish soap mixture. I sprayed EVERYWHERE. At every door, around my pantry, anyplace I could think of. My goal was to keep the mice confined to the two rooms I had seen them in and kill them. I’ll admit, a small part of me hoped they would be so repelled by the peppermint oil they would run fleeing from my home, never to return. We all know THAT didn’t happen. Surprisingly, the peppermint spray appeared to be working for a short time. I sprayed almost daily under the doors of the rooms I was trying to keep them in. I even saw one mouse start to run under the door, stop half way, and acted almost like he was having a seizure of some kind. A SMART person would have used that opportunity to capture it, a freaked out person like myself swatted at him with a broom and ended up pushing him back through the door where he scampered off, leading me to believe the peppermint spray was working in some aspects. The traps were also working slowly. I was throwing one away daily (I had three set in the room). With the help of a friend not scared of the mice, we found their dog food stash (mice can move quite a bit of product) and vacuumed it all up.

With their food supply gone and the spray forcing them to stay in those two rooms, I honestly believe I could have gotten a handle on them….but….I went out of town for a week. No daily sprays meant they were able to venture out. Sure enough, I came home to discover they were in my kitchen. My heart sank. It made me nauseous to think they were in my kitchen. I mean that literally. Whenever I would see a trace of them, I would get physically ill.

Phone call to the same friend (Thank GOD for great friends) and she came over to help me clean my pantry and look for the mouse. We took everything out, wiped down everything with Clorox wipes, threw away everything even remotely having the appearance of a mouse being near it, placed Altoids on the shelves, and put it back in order. I have since switched everything to Oxo canisters so they are air tight. I set a trap on the floor of the pantry and then sprayed the doorway with my spray. I figured, if the spray kept them away, GREAT, if one breached, the trap would catch them before they made it up to the shelves. The trap didn’t go off for over 6 weeks and no signs of any mice on the shelves, so it has worked somewhat.

Now we are up to today. I was out of town for Christmas and sadly, I came home to mice taking up residence in my stove. Yes, my stove! Another phone call (she really should start charging me) and we begin the process of Operation Stove Removal only to discover I have a weird stove and we can not access the area between the stove top and the oven. We googled

****Funny story interjection****
As I was writing this, I kept hearing a noise in my kitchen. I would get up, turn the light on, and would see a scurry back into the stove opening. This happened three times. The fourth time I heard something, I had my eye focused directly in the area it was coming from and I see the mouse briefly on my microwave. I take a couple deep breaths to avoid freaking out and go investigate. Apparently I had received a sample of dog food, the kind in the tubes, and put it up on my microwave. I have no idea how long it had been there (it was in a decorative glass) but the mouse found it. There was a good chunk of it gone. It is thrown away, microwave cleaned off, disinfected, and the dishes on it have been washed. Back to my writing! ***********

As I was saying, we even Googled how to tear the stove apart. No luck. The stove is mounted into my counter top. The space between the stove top and the oven has a couple small holes. Through those holes, we can see insulation, but no way to access it easily. I made the decision to NOT tear it out. I decided to try other measures first. FYI, if you are thinking, hey, just turn the stove on, it didn’t work. Research says they just run somewhere else and return when it’s cooled down again.

After messing with the stove, I did kill one more mouse but it appears they are getting smarter or more adventurous. Back to the Internet for more research.

I found a product called Fresh Cab. It is supposed to be a rodent repellant. Another “natural” product. The reviews were pretty favorable except in situations where the rodents already exist. Upon doing more research, I discovered some possible reasons why that might me, and decided to try it. Amazon had it cheaper but Tractor Supply had it in stock, so off to TSC I went. I bought 2 boxes equalling 8 pouches. I opened them, read the instructions, dated them, and then set out strategically placing them around the house. It was very clear in the instructions NOT to place them near traps. I’m not a fan of the pine scent, but if they work, I’ll live with it.

Ironically, the mouse eating the tube of dog food I mentioned was found less than a foot from where I placed the first pouch of Fresh Cab. Had I not done my research, I would have thought it didn’t work and thrown them away and sent for my money (They have a money back guarantee) but I am not giving up on it yet because
1. I read it is not a repellant like Peppermint Oil is supposed to be. It is a detractor. It is supposed to mess with the mouse’s sense of smell, making them think there is no food available.
2. Mice have weird memories, that is why they say to keep putting traps in the same area. If they KNOW a path leads to food, they will keep following it. With that in mind, the mouse clearly had been chomping on this tube for a few days, so his sense of memory was more powerful than the Fresh Cab (in theory).

I placed the Fresh Cab in one area, the traps with the yummy peanut butter in another direction, so they would be compelled to head towards the trap.

Another thing I have done is throw one or two chopped pecan pieces around the trap. Knowing about their memory, I figured, if they have one or two easy ones to access, they will come back and get the “bait” next and the trap will kill them.

One interesting observation is the Altoids. My first tin I opened and used seemed to work great. I never saw a mouse near anything I had an Altoid sitting on or near. They didn’t seem to go near any areas I sprayed. This new tin I opened I cannot say the same. I even think the mice are carrying the Altoids pieces away! I don’t know if this second tin used less peppermint oil in the manufacturing or not, but I find it strange.

I have not tried the 100% peppermint oil that so many people mention. The Wal-Mart I went to did not have any in stock. I looked today and it appears the one I am heading to has some in stock. I am going to try an experiment with it and will post the results.

I have contacted a company about coming out and looking for the areas in my home the mice may be getting in. It is $159 but considering how much I have already spent on traps, Fresh Cab, Altoids, and soon Peppermint Oil, it might be worth it. Not to mention all the pantry items I had to throw away. At least my house is getting clean an organized!

After all this, the bottom line is mice are a pain in the butt! It is not a simple fix. It takes time and diligence.

If you can stand the sight of the dead mouse and you don’t mind reusing the trap, the wooden traps are the least expensive. If you are a big baby like myself, there are some affordable alternatives. One key is to make sure to have the opening right near the wall so they run in as they are running along the wall.

The cheapest one is D-Con No Touch No View Mousetrap. Less than $5 for a two pack at Wal-Mart


PROS: Inexpensive, Easy to use, easy to see the indicator

CONS: The indicator sometimes doesn’t work. (If it wasn’t clear & the
door was closed, I threw it away) Round (didn’t always fit in tighter areas) Slippery on hard floors so you had to take more care placing them.

Another trap I used and had a quick results is Victor Kill & Seal Mouse Trap About $10 for a 2 pack


PROS: Easy to use, easy to load bait, shape fits easily against wall, Blends in well against lighter colored baseboards

CONS: More Expensive. If bumped, a little difficult to reset

The third one I used is Ortho Home Defense Max Kill and Contain Mouse Trap. About $8 for a pack of 2


PROS: extremely narrow, will fit in tighter areas. Easy to load bait. Easy to set first time.

CONS: Haven’t caught a mouse in it yet. My dog seemed fascinated with it. Difficult to reset if it gets bumped. Messy if bumped (bait sorta falls everywhere, then out when you pick it up to reset).

I have caught the most mice with the first one, but to be fair, I have purchased them the most. My thought is, if they are the cheapest, no harder to use, and work, go with them.

As for bait, peanut butter seems to work well. I but the great value kind to give my dog his medicine with, so I’ve been using that. Chopped pecans also work. Ironically, Ole Roy dog food works well. My dogs eat Acana and Earthborn…using that as bait didn’t get the same results. I’m guessing it is because they are both grain free. Any type of seed, grain, or nut appear to yield the best results.

I hope I have helped the next person battling mice to not have to go digging around multiple days to get all the different information I was able to compile over time!

Good luck!

My Water Carafe

I have been trying to lose weight. I didn’t want to diet or use the word diet, but develop a healthier lifestyle. Sounds simple enough doesn’t it? Losing weight should be simple. I know gaining it is. Common sense says, fewer calories in, more energy out. It’s not always that simple though. It’s so easy to lose track of your momentum.

I have been tracking this journey internally and with a small core of friends, but I am ready to make it more public because I know others must struggle as I do.

I’m an apple-shaped 39-year-old woman. It’s not easy being an apple. You ALWAYS look overweight because you carry a fat roll right in the middle of your body. If you took a picture of just my legs, you would never guess they belong to an “obese” woman. Yeah, I used the term. We have to accept it.

Apple women have boy hips. I know they aren’t REALLY boy hips, but that’s what it feels like. Our hips steal our ability to have an hourglass figure. Even the Cosmo articles tell you that men like hips. You can be overweight, as long as you have those sexy hips. So for us single Apples….there goes another reason men aren’t drawn to us. Cosmo says you need to have hips for men to look at you and Cosmo is always right, isn’t it? (Said tongue in cheek) Ahhh, to have hips.

So I started losing weight. Started in January. I have lost 30 pounds and seem to be stuck. My friends tell me not to get frustrated because I’m still losing inches, which, in reality is more important….but it still sucks! Losing inches makes me proud, but guess where I am losing the most inches??? If you guessed the hated fat roll, you would be wrong. If you guessed the boy hips, you would be right. Are you kidding me? Not only do I have the dreaded boy hips but now I’m losing inches faster there??? Ugh!! Life isn’t fair. One day I took my measurements and my hips and waist were the exact same! Now that wouldn’t be so bad…I would just look like a plank, except the two are divided by that lovely roll that is the slowest to change.

I know my hips shrinking are due to my new favorite activity; swimming, but I don’t want to stop that because it motivates me to stay active. I’m not the most graceful person on land, but in water I feel like I can do anything. I don’t just swim, I do water fitness, I do crunches, sometimes I just have fun and play in the water. I was afraid of the water as a child so I explore the different things I can do. I spin, I float, as long as I stay moving, I don’t care what I’m doing in the water.

I tried a detox. 21 miserable days. I did great for about 14 of the 21. Maybe even 18 of the 21. I didn’t do great the whole 21 days though. I learned some things from it though. I learned that raw nuts with sea salt are a healthy alternative when I’m craving something sweet. I learned that I like mixing my fruit when I eat it. I now cut up my fruit and eat different types at the same time, especially melon. I also learned that I don’t need meat with EVERY meal. I’m still a red meat carnivore though! That will never change. I think that’s the thing I hated most about the detox. I knew it wasn’t reality for me. I knew I would never continue life without meat after I was done with it.

I slipped for a while. Mostly all of June I lost a lot of focus on my weight loss. I didn’t gain, thankfully, but I didn’t lose. I owe the not gaining to my new active personality. I swim, I cut the grass, I take the dogs for a walk ….I LIKE being active. I noticed the high humidity doesn’t affect me this summer like it did last summer. I FEEL healthier even though I am still way too overweight according to the scales.

One day, shopping at Wal-Mart, I saw a carafe. I have always wanted a carafe. I can’t explain my fascination with them, but I have always wanted on…especially one that sealed. Here was the perfect one. I was excited. Then I debated….would I USE it? Should I spend the money (less than $10). How many ounces is it? Will it serve the purpose? Did I really care? No! I wanted that carafe. The color choice was light blue or sea green. I went with the light blue. I put it in my cart. I know it’s strange, but I was excited.


At home, I filled it up then dumped it into my scale. It was 35 ounces. I filled it again but stopped at the neck. 32 ounces. Perfect! Two of those a day would be my 64 ounces.

I hate getting up to fill my water when I’m working and I like ice water, but when you fill a large glass with ice, you end up with less water, so you drink it quicker and have to get up to refill it. It’s a never-ending dilemma. This carafe was the answer I was looking for. I filled the carafe. I added two small slices of lemon. Grabbed a large glass. Filled it with ice. I poured the water into the glass and set off to go to my office. As I drank my first glass, I refilled it from the carafe and kept working. Ice was slowly melting but I managed to drink almost three glasses before it melted all the way.

The carafe was a WIN! The best thing is, I’m drinking my water!

Five days later, I am still drinking a lot more water. If I want a coke, I have to still drink my 64 ounces. Only one day did I fail but that was partially because I wasn’t home and didn’t take water with me. It is 11:39am and I already have almost one whole carafe gone. I am down three pounds since I started using the carafe.

I just have to continue to remember, it’s not all about the weight, it’s about the health!

Carafe and glass