Home Authors Posts by Valerie Paxton

Valerie Paxton

Valerie Paxton is a co-founder of AllegroMedical.com and lives in Phoenix, AZ. In 1997 she set out with her business partner, Craig Hood to form Allegro Medical - a company dedicated to helping people lead more independent and healthy lives. They poured their knowledge and experience into AllegroMedical.com and now have more than 1 million customers nationwide. Valerie has a degree in Journalism from the University of Nebraska and has spent most of her career in communications, marketing, PR, and investor relations. She enjoys giving advice, mentoring, volunteering, writing, reading, cooking, telling funny stories, healthy eating, her cocker spaniel Honey, her boyfriend Todd, hiking, kayaking, jokes and world travel. Follow Valerie on Twitter at http://twitter.com/vpaxton

My friends tease me about my cold hands and feet.  I mean, they are sooooo cold!  I’ve tried all kinds of things to warm up (even moving from Nebraska to Arizona) but I just seem to run a few degrees south of normal.  Yeah, ‘boo hoo’, I know, it’s 70 degrees here in January and I’m complaining.

But no matter where you are in the world, kicking back in your recliner at home or rippin’ gnar pow on your shred sled* in Snow Mass, there are products you may have never imagined, designed to keep you warm and safe in the cold.

Check these out:

Energy Efficient Heaters for Home or Work

Toasty Toes Personal Heater – Deluxe Ergonomic Footrest – use sitting or standing anywhere, anytime.  Adjustable angles.  Never too hot to touch! 


Electric Foot Wamer Mat – great for work!  Fits easily under your desk.  Waterproof.  Quickly dries wet socks, shoes or boots, leaving you dry and warm.


 Cozy-Legs Personal Heater – Under Desk Leg Warmer – Mounts to your desk, wall or optional stand.  Keeps your legs toasty.


 Bed Buddy Heat Therapy Kit – Comes with a sinus pack, hand warmers and foot warmers.  Lightly fragranced with eucalyptus, clove and cinnamon.  You can buy everything separately.  Bed Buddy Back Wrap.  All can be used hot or cold.  See all Bed Buddy products.


Planes, Trains & Automobiles

Dream Sack Airline Comfort Set – As seen on the Today Show, Wall Street Journal and USA Today.  Everything you need to stay warm and cozy on the plane, train, bus or car (no driving with your eye shades on!).  Includes a silk blanket, pillowcase, eye shades and a 12″ storage bag.  All totaled, weighs less than a pound. 


Dream Sack Luxury Travel Kit – You’ll be stylin’ in first class no matter where you’re sitting.  Great for your flight or in your hotel room.  Includes a silk/cashmere blanket, charmeuse silk eyeshades and an outer bag that reverses to a pillowcase.



Cane Ice GripPrevents canes and crutches from slipping on icy and snowy surfaces.  Don’t risk a fall!  Get one of these.  It’s only like, $7 bucks and it could save your life or the life of a loved one.  I’m serious.  Don’t make me come over there.  🙂


 Ice-Away Snow and Ice Melt Pad – Much less expensive than embedded systems, this pad prevents show and ice from accumulating outside your door, or wherever you put it.   Line your entire sidewalk!  Great for home doorway entrances, wheelchair ramps, handicap-accessible structures, loading docks, hospitals, nursing homes, hotels, schools or churches.  36″ x 32″.  Plugs into a standard outlet. 


IronClad Cold Condition Glove – Cold weather gloves for workers who need a high level of dexterity.  Wicks away perspiration, breathable, water and oil resistant, non-slip rubber, machine washable.


Grabber Foot Wamers – 5 hours of air-activated warmth.  Case of 30 packs,  2 warmers per pack.  Put them in your shoes or boots, use one time and then throw away.  These are standard equipment for skiers, snowboarders, hunters, campers, hikers, bird watchers or anyone who likes to do stuff outdoors in the cold. Also great for Arthritis, Raynaud’s, Lupus, Scleroderma, Sjogren’s, Myalgia or just poor circulation.


Grabber Peel-n-Stick Adhesive Body Warmer – Box of 40.  A portable heating pad that you wear!  Works for 12+ hours.  Use for minor aches & pains or for warmth outdoors during sporting activities.


Grabber Hand Warmers – Pack of 40, with 2 per pack.   These keep your hands and fingers toasty for more than 10 hours.  Just open the packet and put the warmers in your gloves or pocket and they start working in a few minutes.  No shaking or kneading required.


Emergency Rescue Blanket – another inexpensive way to save your life.  This lightweight blanket should be in every cold-weather car and every backwoods backpack.  It was invented for NASA and is used by militaries, search and rescue, and relief agencies worldwide.

I hope you stay warm and toasty until it’s time to stay cool and frosty.  I’ll be back in a few months with AllegroMedical.com products to help you chill.  You know I will.  Until then,

See all Hand Warmers

See all Foot Warmers

See all Heat / Heating Pads

See all Hot/Cold Therapy

*rippin’ gnar pow on your shred sled means that you’re doing really well on difficult runs while riding atop your snowboard device.  Gnar pow is gnarly powder.  Personally, I’d rather watch ’em carve from my seat atop the bar stool in the lodge.  I’m confident that if I tried snowboarding, I’d spend more time on my back side than my feet.  Perhaps Grabber makes butt warmers . . . hmmmm . . . an idea . . .

I said to my buddy Daver, “Hey, I’m having a hard time finding a widget or badge to download into my blog so people can follow us on Twitter.” 

He laughed and reminded me that not long ago that statement would sound like ‘a whole lotta gibberish’, (and probably still does to most people).  Regardless, Allegro has jumped on the social networking bandwagon and we now have pages and accounts with Facebook and Twitter.

AllegroMedical.com on Facebook

If you have a Facebook account, click here to find AllegroMedical.com and then click on the link to “become a fan” (top right portion of the page).  It onlyl takes a second and it doesn’t obligate you to anything.  We’re trying to see how many fans we can get!   

It’s kindof a cute page with pictures of our events/parties, our employees, the dogs of Allegro, etc.  I’ll be adding more as time goes by.  You can also see our blogs, special offers/promotions and neat stuff like that.   Feel free to add fan photos, fan videos, write on our wall and leave reviews.  We’d love to see your smiling face.  Yeah!! 

Allegro Medical on Twitter

If you follow me, I’ll follow you!  Same for Allegro Medical.  I have a personal Twitter account where you can follow me, Valerie Paxton and/or you can follow Allegro Medical.  

I’m still not sure about where social networking will take us, but hey, we’re all in this together, right?  Maybe we can all get to know each other a little better.

See you soon!


People have a real knack for improvising when it comes to getting things done.   Even when we’re weak or disabled we tend to figure out a way to get those cans open, or cut that piece of meat, or finagle those blasted peas into our mouths, even if it means having someone do it for us.  We forget though, or maybe don’t even consider, that there are products designed to do nothing more than make you more independent and make your life easier.  

AllegroMedical.com carries a huge – and I mean ‘hundreds and hundreds huge’  – inventory of Daily Living Aids designed to help everyone — disabled or not — get things done. 

Stop struggling!  Check out these  nifty kitchen gadgets and eating aids.  You might find a product to help you, or someone you love, make life a little easier.  Ahhh. . .

Kitchen Aids

New!  iTouchless products – Check out these stylish, ‘kitchen-forward’ 21st century gizmos including plastic bag resealers, electronic automatic pepper mill & salt grinder, paper towel dispenser, automatic water dispenser, automatic soap dispenser, recycle bins, trash cans and more.  Great gifts. 

High Chair - All-Purpose High Chair with Adjustable ArmsHigh Chair with Adjustable Arms – Sit up high while working at the kitchen counter or sink with this adjustable height chair.   Weight capacity is 300 lbs. 


Maddagrip Jar Opener  Jar Openers – I use these all the time.   We have a bunch to choose from, including the Hot Hand Protector and Jar Opener.  It’s a hot pad that doubles as a jar opener.  Neat, huh.


Easy-Grip Knives & Utensils – Perfect for weak hands and wrists.  These lightweight, dishwasher safe tools have an ergonimcally angled handle to keep your wrist and hand in a natural position.  Besides the knives, we have a grater, utensil rack, carving fork, cheese slicer, spatula and kitchen shears.  Get them all!

The Rocking “T” Knife is our most popular rocker knife.  It allows easy cutting for people with a weak grasp or the use of only one hand.  Get the carrying case so you can take it with you when you eat out.

See more kitchen knives.


    Paring Boards galore.  There aren’t your everyday paring and cutting boards.  Oh no.  They have special doo hickies that stick up and hold your food in place so you don’t have to chase it around before you cut it.  Some of them even have suction cups on the bottom (so you don’t have to chase the board too!). 


   Scrub brush for one handed use.  It suctions to the counter so you can clean your vegetables, your dishes, your fingernails or even your dentures!  Please don’t use the same one to clean everything, though.  Please.


  Pan Holder – Keep your pans from spinning while you stir with one hand.  Folds for easy storage in your drawer.


 Push/Pull Helper – If you have arthritic hands or weak hands, or short arms, or a bad back, use this nifty stick to push or pull oven racks or hot dishes. How about using it if you don’t want to get burned?  That’s when I would use it. 


Folding Shopping Cart – Okay, not technically a kitchen gadget, but they sell like hot cakes.  Sturdy, super affordable and cool looking, you’ll whisk goods to and fro for years to come with this baby.   Red or black.  Get both.

Eating Aids

  The Scooper Bowls with Suction are our most popular eating aids.  They stick to the table like glue and they are curved on the sides to allow you to get the food onto your fork instead of dumping it over the sides.  Great for children and adults.  See more scoop plates.


  Cutlery – From forks to sporks, angled , built-up, left-handed or comfort-grip, we have what it takes to get the food from your plate to your mouth in the most efficient way possible.  See all Eating Utensils.


Bibs – Keep your clothes clean with these mealtime protectors.  Great for both the eaters and the feeders.


  All eating and no drinking makes Jack a dry boy, so don’t forget your drinking aids!  Drinking straws, nosey cups, spill-proof Kennedy cups, they’re all here.

Is there someone in your life that could use a little help becoming more independent in the kitchen, or at the dining table?  Think about it and have fun poking around our Daily Living Aids sub-categories.  There is a LOT to see.

Other than that, I hope you have a fabulous day.  Thanks again for being an Allegro customer!


Your pillow is just as important as your mattress when chasing that perfect night’s sleep.  If you have headaches, neck pains, shoulder pains, numbness, sneezing, snoring or wheezing when you wake up, your pillow may not be causing the problem, but it is likely contributing.   

It may be time for a new pillow for several reasons.  Here’s a really good one . . . it is probably crawling with fungi and buggies.  Yes, it’s true.  The journal “Allergy”, published in 2006, says that pillows as young as 18 months old contained up to 47 different kinds of fungi!  The researchers found about four to 16 fungi species per pillow, with synthetic pillows having more.  In that case, if you have allergies or asthma, your pillow is probably not helping matters.   Besides, it’s gross.  Consider tossing your old pillows and replacing them with a new fungus free or anti-microbial pillows.  While you’re at it, you might as well choose your pillows according to the most important criteria:  how you sleep.

At AllegroMedical.com we display about 70 bed pillows in our Pillows category.  To save you the trouble, I’ve separated them according to sleep type and specialty pillows.  I’m searching for the perfect pillow myself, so I’m hoping this endeavor will bear fruit for us all.  

 The perfect pillow will keep your head aligned right on top of your shoulders when lying down – not too far to either side, or up and down.  Therefore, the thickness of your pillow is important, depending on how you sleep.  Think you need the biggest, longest, fluffiest, most expensive pillow every made?  Au contraire.   In fact, pillows that are too dense, fluffy or wide merely create tension in your neck and shoulders.

Pillows by Sleep Type

Side Sleeper Pillows are lofty and thick so they keep your head staight by filling in the space between your head and shoulders.   Our most popular pillow, the Better Sleep Pillow was originally designed for side sleepers, but it also works great for back sleepers and stomach sleepers because of it’s mult-positional, multi-functional contoured design.   This is also true of our Sleepmatterzzz Dual-Valve Cervical Pillow, a super popular pillow with 5 star reviews.  See all Sleepmatterzzz pillows.


Back Sleeper pillows are designed so that when you are lying on your back your head stays neutral – perfectly aligned with your spine, sitting squarely on your shoulders.   We have several pillows that support both side and back sleepers by automatically adjusting as your sleeping position changes.  If you alternate between your back and your side (or your side and your stomach) be sure to get one that works in multiple positions.  


Stomach sleepers are just weird.  Okay, that’s what I tell my stomach sleeper boyfriend Todd anyway.  Seriously, though, experts say it is not the best way to sleep because if your bed is soft and you use a pillow, then you are not keeping your head neutral.  But if you must sleep on your stomach then please use a specially designed pillow, a very thin pillow or no pillow at all.  The Sleepmatterzzz Dual-Valve Cervical Pillow would be perfect for sleepers who switch from their side to their stomach. 

Specialty Pillows

Allergy-Free Pillows and Covers are a must for allergy sufferers.  We even have an Anti-Allergen Mattress Cover


Anti-Snore Pillows:  The Snore-No-More Anti Snoring Pillow is our most popular,  but from reading the reviews, it either works or it doesn’t work at all.  It was featured in Woman’s World Magazine as the “best snoring pillow” though, and it seems to help a lot of people.   See our Snoring Section for all of our anti-snoring products.


Bed Wedges and Body Positioners are ideal for helping your body maintain a comfortable body position while you sleep.  They are often used for post-surgery bedrest , footrest or blank support as well.  The leg/knee wedges and back wedges are especially popular.  You can put them between your knees for side sleeping, or under your knees, or behind your back.


Body Pillows are especially good for side sleepers and pregnant women who like to keep their spines aligned, and circulation going by sleeping with a pillow between their knees.


Cervical Pillows come in all shapes and sizes, but they are all designed to support the neck.   Cervial pillows help relieve pain associated with muscle tension, stress and strain by promoting proper alignment and support.   


Cooling Pillows/Covers are heaven for hot summer nights and hot flashes.   I have two Chillow Pillows that I use all Arizona summer long.  They are super popular and I highly recommend them.   


Water Pillows allow you to personalize your pillow by filling a water pouch inside the pillow for soft, medium or firm support.

You can’t tell what’s going to work until you sleep on it so try to get the one that fits the best with your sleep style.  In my case, I’ve kissed a lot of toads, but I will continue to seek out the perfect pillow.  Even punching and feeling it in a retail store doesn’t make much of a difference. 

See our new category, Beds,  and also read how to retrofit the rest of your bed in my blog Bed Check for Better Sleep.

At least we have a lot of products to choose from, right?  Happy shopping!


I’ve been nickle and dime-ing my bedroom for years, chasing an image of the perfect, snuggly sleeping chamber.  A dark shade here, a humidifier there, wave sounds, soothing colors… but a recent lower back problem pushed me to take a comprehensive look at the bed itself.   Needless to say, I have a new bed . . . and mattress. . . pillows . . . and, okay, well, pretty much everything.  Hey, don’t we spend, like, a third of our lives in bed?  So, anyway.

The way I see it, whether you’re prone to crappy sleep or ‘just okay’ sleep, we all can improve our odds by optimzing our beds for snoozing.   We also have lots of products for those who spend most or all of their time in bed.  Read on . . .


Get a bed that’s big enough.  You and your bedmates (pets included) need room to stretch and flop.   Can’t afford a new bed?  Put a Want Ad out to your local Freecycle group and get one for free!  I just used Freecycle to find a home for my King Simmons Beautyrest mattress.  It felt so good to give it directly to someone who really needed it.  Get and give.  Makes the world go around.

Your Mattress.  If you feel like you’re sleeping in a fluffy canoe, then your bed might be too soft.  On the other hand, if there is no give at all, your mattress is essentially flattening the normal curve of your spine and it is too firm.  Too soft, get a new mattress.  Too firm, add a topper.  

Here’s what I found when buying a new mattress:  Ignore the brands.  They try to confuse you with all these fancy names and crap and I’ve heard that Leggett and Platt makes all the innerds for the big name mattresses anyway.  Who wants to spend thousands of dollars on a mattress?  Don’t buy on price or you’ll get royally scammed.

Don’t get caught up in coil counts either, or stats.  It’s all sales voodoo.  Go for what feels comfortable to you.  I go for firm, but that’s because of my cranky back. 

Pillowtops are expensive, but alluring.  Before getting sucked in, remember that they are pretty much a massive rip-off because really they are just layers of foam sewn onto the top of your mattress.  Save yourself hundreds of dollars and re-create the effect with an egg-crate mattress  pad or memory foam overlay.  We sell a ton of them.  Note:  I love sleeping on memory foam and I even have a memory foam pillow, but when you first buy it, it smells horrible.  The odor goes away after a few nights though.  Trust me.  I nearly threw the dang stuff out.

Ignore mattress thickness.  Thick mattresses are not any better or worse than thin mattresses as long as you have innersprinig coils and the right comfort level for you.  You can get the same effect without the extra padding on top of the innerspring.  Besides, thick mattresses are heavy to carry, require special deep sheets and often times are so high that they hide your headboard. 

Box springs are also unnecessary except to raise the mattress.  Consider a platform bed frame or just put your mattress directly on the floor.  I’ve done both with great success.  In fact, I haven’t had a box spring since I don’t remember when.

Bottom line when mattress shopping:  Buy the cheapest most comfortable mattress you can find.  The rest is all marketing hype.

What about specialty beds?  If you like to read, relax or lounge in bed, or if you are bedridden, you will want to take a look at Allegro’s Flex-A-Bed line of adjustable beds and flexible mattresses.  They come in every size, they’re super affordable and they can be completely customized.

Or, on the cheap, you can fake an adjustable bed using an elevating leg rest and a bed wedge.  Brilliant!

If you are have trouble getting in and out of bed, or you are bedridden, incontinent, or elderly, here are some other products to consider:  Bed Rails, Bedpads, Mattress Covers, Pressure Reduction, Trapeze and Bedside Tables

For hospital beds, we carry specially designed hospital sheet sets and semi-fitted top sheets.

For everything, see our entire Beds or Shop by Category in Bedridden or Insomnia.

And finally, here’s a major topic that deserves equal but separate consideration:  Pillows!!  Read Why Your Pillow is Gross and How to Pick a New One.

Nighty night.  Sleep tight.  Don’t let the bedbugs bite. 

psssst…  (whisper)…. thanks for buying your stuff from AllegroMedical.com.



Amy Daggett, Allegro’s graphic designer, was the last person anyone could imagine ever having a weight problem.  I’ve worked with her for nearly 20 years and she’s always been thin, muscular and athletic.  Just goes to show you that given the right circumstances,  anyone can end up fighting the battle of the bulge.   Her 42 lb. weight loss was inspiring, to say the least. 

Read Amy’s Lose the Baby Weight Success Story, published on Parents.com.

Unfortunately most of us can’t blame our extra pudge on a baby.  I’ve gained and lost the same 10 lbs. for at least 10 years.  Luckily, I never stray too far from the middle — but I’d sure like to lower that set point!  It’s exhausting. 

To that end, I’ve spent a fair amount of time lately trying to take my own advice, devising Healthy Resolutions that Work.  My boyfriend Todd and I have the same yo-yo dieting pattern.  We’ve broken it down to reveal that we do great when we’re home, exercising regularly and sticking to a healthy, moderate eating plan.  But when we travel, it all goes out the window.   SlimFast for breakfast?  Not likely, especially when we’re on a cruise or eating our way through Italy.  We have some work to do on the travel plan, but at least we’ve isolated that as part of the equation.  More to come.

Do you need some tools to be successful in your weight loss or fitness plan?  See our Weight Loss Help section and Exercise/Fitness category.  You’ll be inspired, i promise.

Amy’s program of choice was Weight Watchers.  Do you have a favorite method of weight loss?  What works for you?  What doesn’t work?  Share your story below!

One thing I know for sure about resolutions is that they don’t work unless you do two things first: 

1.  Break ’em down; and

2.  Make a plan. 

Here’s an example:  Let’s say you resolve to be a better athlete, have a better body, or “get stronger” this year.  Those alone are not resolutions that will bear fruit.  Besides being too vague, they are “results” rather than “actions”.  So, let’s break it down and make a plan.

Improving the strength of your “core” – your abdomen and back – will make you stronger and more toned (and make those back problems disappear).  Breaking it down even further, if you improve your balance, you’ll strengthen your core and add speed and agility to the equation.  So, improving your balance = strengthening your core = having a better, more toned, athletically superior body.  See?  Now you just need to get a plan.  Read up on balance, check out some balance products.  Get them.  Set aside some time everyday to use them.  Believe me, you’ll know when you are improving.  You’ll stop falling off the dang balance trainer when you try to stand on it.  Before you know it, you’re stronger, you’ve maybe lost some weight, you’re faster and you feel better.  If you play sports, you’ll notice a distinct edge over your opponents when it comes to flexibility, agility and speed.

Moving on.  Here are some other examples of resolutions that work:

  • Lose Weight.  If you want the end game to be weight loss, then think about what is causing you to keep the weight on.  Break it down and get a plan.  Drink a lot of soda pop?  Cut it out and replace it with a flavored, unsweetened water.  Can’t control your portions?  Go on a plan that measures them for you – Jenny Craig or NutriSystem for example.  Can’t stop eating sugar?  Go without any carbs/sugar for 48 hours and your cravings will be pretty much gone.  Then follow a low sugar plan.  Research, prepare, plan and do.  And one more thing about weight loss…  go slow.  Lose the first 2 lbs. and go from there.  Don’t say “I need to lose 20 lbs, or 50 lbs., or even 10”.  Say, “I need to lose 2″… and then 2 more, and then 5 more, etc. 


  • Get in Shape.  Many of you will go out and buy a gym membership in the next couple weeks, thinking that is going to make you get in shape.  Not so.  Think about who you are and where you are and how you like to spend your time.  If there’s a good chance that you won’t get to the gym because of proximity or time constraints, then you’re already doomed.  Start simple instead.  My gym closed a few years ago and I decided to just work out the old fashioned way at home.  I got some hand weights (I use them while watching TV) and some Therabands, a Fitball, some Yoga, Cardio and Pilates gear, along some good walking and hiking shoes and now I can do my routines without worrying about getting to the gym.  There are all kinds of exercise/fitness products to use at home.  You can even put together your own home gym.  The thing is, you have to have a plan.  I do a quick 15 minute Yoga routine morning and night and I always take a walk.  That is the very least every day.  Other than that, I like to do the Pilates mat routines on the weekends along with hiking (or cardio if it’s too cold out).   Get a friend or significant other to walk with you.  Todd is a great inspiration to me.  He pushes me to hike and bike, and I push him to stretch and meditate.  What a team.


  • Get a Life.  If you’re watching too much TV, not expanding your mind or learning, or maybe you’re not socializing enough then you probably should get a life.  Break it down.  What do you love?  What do you watch on TV?  These will give you hints as to how you can get a life.  If you love to travel then you should plan a trip, learn a language, take classes to prepare for an adventure (SCUBA certification, sailing, trekking).  If you love the cooking channel then get your bottom to a cooking class, or take a course online and be a gourmet chef at home.  Anything you enjoy thinking about or dreaming of can become part of your world.  Want to join a rock band?  Get a Wii!  Then besides playing the guitar you can fish, drive race cars, play tennis, improve your memory, work out… a million things.  Do you love pets?  Become a foster parent to your favorite breed or volunteer at an aminal shelter.  Love kids?  Become a scout leader, a Big Brother or Big Sister, read to kids at the library, rock babies at a local nursery.  Want to learn to sew?  Check out local classes and get going.  Just do it.  It’s addictive.  I’ve taken classes on caligraphy, stamp making,  SCUBA, painting, scrapbooking, sewing, Spanish, Italian, Yoga and more.   This year we’re going to take sailing lessons.  In Phoenix there are classes and groups for absoultely every interest.  If your town doesn’t have a group that you’d like to belong to…start one!

What ever it is that you resolve to do this year, you can do it!!  Did you know that spending only an hour per day on something, anything, will make you an “expert” within 2 years?  Think what you can get done in just one year.

I hope you have an excellent New Year.  Thanks, as always, for being an Allegro customer. 

If you have a resolution to share, along with a breakdown and a plan, please leave a comment!   Good luck.


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I hope you have the best Christmas ever, ever, ever!  And if you’re not celebrating Christmas, I hope today is still among your best.

We realize it’s been a tough year for a lot of people.  Let’s all take a moment today to reflect on the good things – the things we can be thankful for even if times are rough.  Whether it is having a warm place to sleep or plenty of food, a loving family or good health, it’s not hard to think of something to be grateful for. 

At Allegro we count our loyal customers at the top of our many blessings.  2008 was our best year yet, and we have you to thank.  You mean more to us than you could ever know. 

We’re also grateful for the support and dedication of our employees who work so hard every day to make Allegro great.  Their passion for helping people is reflected in everything they do.     

Next year we’ll be taking everyone’s hard work to the next level.  You’ll see more and different products on the site, new brands, exciting promotions and increased functionality in our processes and efficiencies.  There’s much more in store. 

In the meantime it would mean a lot to us if you continue to recommend Allegro to your friends and family, and as always, remember to check Allegro first for your medical supplies, fitness equipment, dietary supplements, maternity products…  well, let’s just say that you should check here for just about everything.  I’m always finding things on the site that I didn’t even know we carried!

I’ll end with a hearty Merry Christmas!! And THANKS again for your business.  Now, before I go all boo hoo on you, get out of here and go buy something at AllegroMedical.com.  Go’on, git.  🙂


Without a doubt the best part about the holiday season, for me, is the food.   In fact, I  feel sorry for people who don’t love food as much as I do.  I am totally serious.  It’s my #1 passion.  I’m happiest when I’m planning, shopping and cooking a meal for a whole bunch of people.  Todd and I are having 16 for Christmas dinner and I can hardly concentrate, I’m so excited.

A couple years ago I self-published “Val’s Friends & Family Cookbook”, primarily to get my family recipes in one place (instead of scattered through cookbooks on scraps of paper).   The book ended up to be 200 pages of my favorite recipes of all time.   It even has a 4 page spread on how to deep fry a turkey without burning down your neighborhood.  This, courtesy of my brother Bill, who is known for his wit, his cajun turkeys and his flatulence . . . in that order.

But I digress.

Here are a few holiday family recipes that we’ll be serving on Christmas day. 

Baked Brie with Cranberries

8 oz Brie

1/3 crushed cranberry sauce

2 T. brown sugar

1/4 tsp. rum or orange extract

1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg

2 T. sliced almonds

Peel off top of Brie.  Mix canberries, brown sugar, extrat and nutmeg and pour over Brie.  Bake at 500 degrees for 5 minutes.  Top with sliced almonds.  I serve this beautiful appetizer at Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Everyone loves it.

Hot Mulled Cider

1 qt. (4 cups) cider

3 sticks cinnamon

6 whole cloves

1/3 c. brown sugar

1 tsp. rum extract

Mix all ingredients together in a saucepan and heat until sugar dissolves.  Remove cloves and cinnamon sticks.  Serve hot.  Makes 1 qt.  You can use red wine too.  I wonder if it would be good with white wine… hmmm. 

Broccoli and Rice Casserole

1/4 c. butter

1 c. celery

1/2 c. onion

1/2 c. green pepper

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1 lg pkg frozen broccoli, cooked slightly

2 c. cooked rice

1/2 c. milk

1 c. grated cheese

Melt butter; add celery, onion and peppers.  Saute until almost tener.  Blend in soups, broccoli, rice and milk.  Sprinle cheese on top.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  This is a staple at all of our holidays, along with green bean casserole, sauerkraut & tomato casserole and sweet potato casserole.  We love us some casserole in the midwest.

Sausage, Apple and Cranberry Cornbread Stuffing

1 1/2 c. cubed wheat bread

3 3/4 c. cubed cornbread

1 lb. ground turkey sausage

1 c. chopped onion

3/4 c. chooped celery

2 1/2 tsp. dried sage

1 1/2 tsp. dried rosemary

1/2 tsp. dried thyme

1 Gold Delicious apple, corred and chopped

3/4 c. dried cranberries

1/3 c. minced fresh parsley

3/4 c. turkey stock

4 T. unsalted butter, melted

Makes 10 servings.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spread the bread cubes in a single layer on a large baking sheet.  Bake for 5 to 7 minutes in the preheated oven, or until evenly toasted.  Transfer toasted bread cubes to a large bowl.  In a large skillet, cook the sausage and onions over medium heat, stirring and breaking up the lumps until evenly browned.  Add the celery, sage, rosemary and thyme;  cook, stirring for 2 minutes to blend flavors.  Pour sausage mixture over bread in bowl.  Mix in chopped apples, dried cranberries and parsley.  Drizzle with turkey stock and melted butter and mix lightly.  Spoon into turkey to loosely fill.

Fresh Cranberry Lemon Jello Salad

2 pkgs. fresh cranberries

5 lg. celery stalks

2 cans mandarin oranges, drained and mashed

2 c. sugar

3 pkgs. lemon Jell-O dissolved in 2 c. boiling water

Wash cranberries and celery.  Chop cranberries and celery in food processor with knife blade.  Let Jell-O mixture cool and add the rest of the ingredients and stir together.  This salad can be frozen to use at a later date.  It is one of my very favorite salad recipes.  There’s something about the lemon and the cranberry taste, followed by the crunch of the celery.

German Apple Cake with Go-Over


2 c. sugar

1 c. shortening

2 eggs

2 c. flour

2 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. salt

2 tsp. nutmeg

2 tsp. cinnamon

6 apples, finely chopped

1 c. raisins (ground)

1 c. chopped nuts


1 c. sugar

1 c. brown sugar

1 c. margarine

1 c. cream or half-and-half

Cream together sugar and shortening.  Add 2 eggs and beat well.  Use electric mixer.  Sift flour, soda, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon and add gradually to first mixture.  Add apples and blend. Add raisins and nuts.  dough will be VERY stiff.  Spread in a greased and floured 9×13 pan.  Bake for 75 minutes at 325 degrees (300 degrees if in a glass pan).  cut in squares and top with “go-over” sauce. 

Melt ingredients for go-over in a saucepan or microwave until hot.  Don’t overheat, as sauce will sugar.  If sugared, add a little coffee creamer and blend.   This dense moist cake is a staple at family gatherings.

I am so hungry right now.

Please share a recipe or two of your own!  I’d love to try some new ones including cultural ones and non-Christmas holiday fare.

There are a lot of reasons you could become stranded on the road – running out of gas, a dead battery, a flat tire, getting stuck in the mud or snow, bad weather, losing your keys or mechanical failures to name a few.

If you do get stranded remember to stay calm, use your head and you’ll be fine. Rule of thumb – stay in your car and call for help.

Here are some tips on what to do in different circumstances:

If You’re Standed on an Interstate or Highway:


  • Try to pull off to the shoulder or completely off the road.
  • Use your cell phone to call the police or your vehicle’s roadside assistance and tell them you’re stranded.
  • If it is nice out and traffic is light enough that you can safely exit the vehicle, get out and raise your hood and tie your emergency flag to a radio antenna or door handle (or hang it out the window). Put on your flashers and wait until help arrives. Some say you should wait outside and away from the car in case another vehicle strikes your car. I’m not so sure about that rule but I guess it depends on the situation.
  • If you can’t get cell coverage, or you have no phone, assess whether to walk for help. There might be an emergency phone down the road or a gas station within walking distance but use extreme caution if walking near a busy roadway. Don’t attempt to cross a busy, multi-lane highway. If help is far away or the road is too busy, you should stay near your car.
  • Don’t risk your life to change your tire on a busy road. You’re better off ruining your tire and rim driving to a nearby gas station.


If You’re Stranded in a Blizzard


  • Stay inside your car so you don’t get lost or frostbitten.
  • Put on your emergency hazard lights, call for help and wait until it arrives. If you can’t get cell service, you’ll most likely get help from a police officer patrolling the area.
  • Put your emergency flag out on the antenna or window, or a bright colored piece of cloth.
  • Run your heater for about 10 minutes per hour or every half hour if it is really, really cold.
  • Remove the snow from your tailpipe occasionaly to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning and crack a window if you have an old rusty car with a leaky exhaust system. It’s a good idea to keep one window cracked open anyway, so the freezing wind and wet snow don’t seal the vehicle.
  • Clear heater vents – the grill under the windshield.
  • Try not to sleep if the engine is running and you are alone.
  • Move around every once in a while to keep the circulation going.
  • To avoid frostbite, keep your skin covered when you get out of the car to clear the tailpipe and vents.
  • When the storm passes, write “HELP” in large letters in the snow outside your car.


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If You’re Stranded in a Flood:


  • Stay in your car (unless it is sinking) and wait for help.
  • Open your car windows in case you need to climb out.
  • Use your cell phone to call for help, turn on your hazard lights and hang a cloth or emergency flag out the window.
  • If you have to get out of your car because it is sinking and the area is flooded, swim to a tree or something sturdy that you can hold onto.