Saturday, December 31, 2016

Keepin Things Dry

When I saw the WaterProof Dry Bag from #Aulker up for a #ProductReview I had to check it out. My first impression was that it was huge! I had an idea of what 15 litres is, but now I have a concrete size in my head.

The Dry Bag is touted to be waterproof, but I have yet to have the chance to test that claim. I plan to do it asap and will update this post when I do.

This bag is very simple to use. All you do is fill it, leaving room to fold the bar three times, and then fold the bar three times. Then you take the plastic clasps on each end of the bar and connect them. It also comes with a nylon strap that is simple to clasp to the three d-rings that are connected on the ends of the bar as well as towards the base of the bag.

What is really neato is the see-through
pocket that is inside the bag. The size of the pocket will fot most "flagship" smartphones such as the Note or iPhone. Right above that pocket on the inside of the bag is an audio cable. This cable connects to an audio port on the outside of the bag so you won't have to miss your "stories" when river rafting. Just plug your phone into the cable inside and plug your headphones into the port on the outside.

You can see my video review of this bag on my YouTube channel.

This is something I would recommend. As always I received this product at a discount or free in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinion.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

QC Tumbled Down On The Job

I am not impressed with the Stainless Steel Double Walled Lowball Tumbler from #titangearonline. I really wanted to like this tumbler because I love my stainless steel cups and straws, but there are some major flaws with this tumbler.

On my YouTube channel you can see the video I made of the unboxing. From a marketing standpoint the logo is well made and distinct enough to create the brand and the feel of it. The box is well made and the space on it is nicely used. It looks like the box has been moved around a lot due to the scuff marks and the crush marks. But the box is still in pretty good condition.

When I take the tumbler out of the box I see some issues with it. There are a few places where it is smooth to the touch but uneven to the eye. There is at least one pit that I can see right off the bat. And it looks like there are a few scratches like I did not get a new one or their qc process needs help.
The most noticeable quality issue is on the lip of the tumbler. This is the best photo I could get of the uneven area that runs along the lip for about two inches.

There is supposeed to be a lifetime (of the original purchaser) guarantee that I will be attempting to use. This tumbler, as is, is not something I would want to use myself and really would not feel comortable using it with company. If this is where the story ends, I do not recommend this product.

As always I received this product at a discount or free in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinion.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

There Is No Short Straw

There may not be a short straw in this set of 6 (two of each size) from #Chefast, but there are different reasons to have this selection in your utensil drawer. You can find this set of straws here and I recommend them. In the below photo I placed them next to a standard paper wrapped plastic straw I picked up at a fast food place.

These stainless steel straws are very nice for those who want to get away from the disposable plastic ones for health or conservation reasons. I really like them because Jasmine does not. Socks (the cat we had to put down earlier this year) would actually steal plastic straws from drinks we would bring home. In the middle of the night we would hear the sound of a plastic straw being slooooooowly pulled out of a to go drink cup if we had forgotten to throw it away...or even if we just weren't looking! Anyway, these straws hold no appeal to our cat now which means we won't find a cache of them under some large piece of furniture.

The three sizes are in length as well as width. If you like your smoothies and milkshakes thick or with chunks, you'll want to use the wider one. If you like tall glasses, use the taller one. It's not rocket science, but try to choose what works for you. I did try the tallest one in a 1 ltr soda bottle and it did not reach out of the mouth of the bottle at all but was level with the top. With a rubberband and some ingenuity, it could work if necessary.

I like that they come in a bag just because I like to have a place for everything. The little brush (not pictured) that it comes with is nice for anything that might get stuck and dried on. However these are stainless steel and should not rust. I have yet to test the theory. I suggest you throw them in the utensil holder in the dishwasher to get them clean and sparkly again.

As I said at the beginning, I do recommend these for anyone who wants to cut down on waste or does not want to drink from plastic. As always I did receive this product at a discount or free in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinion.

Ice Spheres Reqire Planning

Here you see the top of the Ice Ball Sphere Mold from #barbratlove that I was sent for a #ProductReview. I think this is a neat little gadget and good for a special occasion. It is not, however, good for everyday use.

You can see it opened here and it kind of gives you an idea of the size. I found that once the balls were frozen the silicone did make them easier to unmold. But getting them filled up enough without spilling needed a strong base such as a metal cookie sheet. And to get them frozen took a good amount of time. This is not something that you can do at a whim, it takes planning.

If you desire to have the ability to make a maximum of 4 ice spheres at time then this is for you. I have not honestly used it since the first time and it is just taking up space in my kitchen.

As always I received this product at a discount or free in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Big Appetites need an Extra Large Insulated Lunch Bag

Also good for several people or meals for normal appetites. I was very pleased with the Extra Large Insulated Lunch Bag that I was sent for a #ProductReview. I had the brilliant idea to use the bento portion control meal box set I had just reviewed to show how much could really fit into this huge bag. Check out the video below

An entire week of meals (or one meal for seven people) could easily be transported in this insulated bag! The front pocket is well made and the elastic on the side is a wonderful touch. I did briefly show the side handle in the video but I wanted to point it out again. The side handle allows the bag to be carried sideways in case the food being transported does not fit well when the bag is upright. Nice design addition and well made.

Well done, designers!

As always I received this product at a discount or free in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

Instructions, PLEASE

I was asked yesterday how many product I had reviewed this year. I checked on my amazon order profile and saw that I had ordered over 1100 items in 2016. I would have to say that at least 95% of them were for reviews and I used a coupon code to get them for a very reduced rate or even free.

Within those 1100+ products I would have to estimate that only HALF of them came with instructions. Now, I do have to say that there are some items that do not require instructions for use. Like socks. But if they are special socks and can't just be thrown in the clothes washer with the rest of my laundry, then I would still expect some kind of care instructions.

So, I get this nifty looking #BackPostureCorrector for a #ProductReview (at a discount or free in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinion) and it comes with NO INSTRUCTIONS. I mean, nothing. I'm usually pretty good at figuring things out without instructions, but this one baffles me. I can't figure out how to get it on, how to use it or if it might just sprout wings and fly off by itself.

Not impressed and I do not recommend this.

If you want to try this out for yourself you can find it here.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

My Name is Kate...

...and I'm addicted to Bluetooth speakers. Luckily I get them at a discount or free (like this one) in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinion and #ProductReview.

I always have my phone with me and prefer to listen to music with apps like Pandora when I'm out. It's a good thing I have T-Mobile with their BingeOn program and unlimited data. Otherwise I would only be able to use these Bluetooth speakers when talking on the phone. Yes, you *can* use a Bluetooth speaker as a speaker phone in your vehicle or elsewhere.

I'm sure you're wondering which #PortableBluetoothSpeakers of which I am speaking today. That is the Ancord speaker found here. I decided to play a song of which I am very familiar through this speaker while on the road. The song played just fine through my phone but as soon as I connected to the speaker it came out very strangely. See below:
As you hopefully can experience through the above video, the song was split into different parts. One line of it was going the correct speed while another line would speed up and then slow down or pause altogether. It made for an interesting listening experience, but I wanted to hear it as it was made. In the video you should see, at the end, that my phone was only a few feet away from me. This should not have happened and, honestly, I don't even understand the mechanics of HOW it could happen.

Let's pretend the warped playing of the song didn't happen. I'll just look at the speaker itself, because there could have been something wrong happening with Pandora, although I doubt it. 

So, I charge the speaker and it does not take long. I turn it on and the voice has some issues. One, it is difficult to understand. It is not an American voice so the accent on the English does affect the understanding. If I could get past that there are two other issues with the voice that I just could not. The quality of the voice is so sub par that it sounds like the person speaking is doing so while swallowing water, or with a swollen vocal box or underwater. It just is not good. Then you have the improper words being used like, "

With all that being said, there are some positives to this speaker. I love that it is water resistant (although I have not tested this) and shock proof, which I have tested. Accidentally, By being me and dropping it several times. The port cover for the power connection and other stuff is nicely designed. It opens and closes quite securely and is attached by a silicone connection. I love that the cover itself is sturdy and not susceptible to warping (and therefore negating the water resistance) like silicone is. The speaker does take a memory card which is pretty cool, too.

Honestly the negatives far outweigh the positives for this little speaker. I cannot recommend it.

Multimeters for Everyone

Everyone should have a Digital Multimeter. I was lucky enough to have #Metertech send me one for a #ProductReview.

The first thing I noticed out of the box was that it came with a battery already installed. The exterior of the box shows it comes with a battery but nit that it is installed. At one point, before I decided to try to turn it on, I thought the battery had been forgotten.

The instructions included are detailed but assume a level of base knowldge that an average person might not have. When explaining what items I could test with this multimeter it was assumed I knew which category a battery fell under. You can see my unbixing and initial testing below.

The multimeter works well and I like how secure the connections to the testing probes are, but I would have liked a cover for ezch probe. A case that could keep the probes and the multimeter together would have been a nice addition.

This is something I would recommend to someone who had a base knowledge of electricity and multimetrs, not a novice who only wants to test batteries to see if they still work.

As always I received this product at a discount or free in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinion.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Bright Lights and Big Cables

I am really needing some help with my "witty" attempts at post titles.

Anyway, I thought today would be a great day to head out to a lunch at the local Cafe Zupas and to put together a #ProductReview or four. The staff at Cafe Zupas were game to help me unravel the Leapair Curtain Lights in an attempt to get a photo or two. Well, I took a video of the unraveling (and if anyone knows how to make it so the video plays in fast forward, please let me know!) and uploaded it to my YouTube channel. I also have a video of the unboxing and a few photos I'll share here.

This shows the end result of the unraveling once the length of the curtain was gathered into the hands of one of the staff members at Cafe Zupas. By the way, awesome food here!

One aspect that really impressed my assistants was the different modes that the LED could be run. The photo here shows the control box and the different modes that are available. The following quick videos shows the different modes being played as well as a pan of the length of this curtain.

I was impressed with several of the features of this curtain but there were a few negatives, too. First, this is not a one person job. When the instructions say "easy installation" I expect to be able to install this myself. As you can see in the really long YouTube video, four people and five minutes of work was not enough to get this curtain ready for use. Secondly I expected it to have the light strands closer together and be more like a bead curtain you place in your doorway. That being said, if this were used in a backdrop of a wedding or even a photo booth, the effect would be stunning.

I like this curtain and would recommend it IF the photos on the amazon listing were more detailed and really showed what it looked like by itself. And, if the instructions that say "easy installation" were modified to be more realistic. You can find the Lepair Curtain Light here.

As always I received this product at a discount or free in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinion.

Chalk Markers that SPARKLE?!?

I love anything that sparkles. I also love anything that allows me to mark on markers. (Normally I am a bit more witty, but I'm running on a half glass of hot chocolate, so bear with me) I was very excited to try out the Liquid Chalk Markers from GReen Day for a #ProductReview.

These markers remind me of paint pens because they have the metal ball bearing inside each marker in order to help you mix up the chalk paint before use. They also have some of the same design qualities of paint pens like the need to release the pressure before using the first time by pushing down on the nub. Well, I could go into more detail about the first use of the pen but you can watch my video of it on my YouTube channel. Or you can just view the video below.

I have to say I am more than impressed with these markers. They work well, although they are slow to get going. I was surprised that the gold and silver, which are notoriously off color in most paint pens, were not only true to the color but also SPARKLY! The only potential problem that I have yet to encounter would be how long they last

These are chalk markers that I can totally recommend!

As always I received this product at a discount or free in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinion.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Charger, Charger, Who Has the Charger?!?

Finding an empty USB port for charging can be difficult nowadays. And don't get me started on the single plug in that comes with almost every device. That just is not enough to power my phone, tablet, flip camera, bluetooth headsets, bluetooth speakers, bluetooth remotes, portable batteries and anything else that always needs to be charged. This is why I have a few of the 5-port hubs just for charging. I also have a few multi port hubs that attach to my computer so I can easily charge and transfer information.

So I received the #UsbChargerStation from Freewise for a #ProductReview. My unboxing and initial thoughts can be seen in the video below from my insta account.

Honestly it does not seem any different from my other multi port hubs. It works, the cord is standard and my items get charged. I do not know to what the "smart" designation refers. This seems to be a good charger and pretty standard price wise. If anything changes or if I notice any fast charging happening, I'll update this post.

As always I received this product at a discount or free in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinion.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Ski Like You Mean It

I remember the first time I went skiing. I was about 14 and could not understand why I had to wear sunscreen. If you don't know, I grew up in Houston where we did not have snow, we had slush. And when it did get cold enough for the slush to stay on the ground, the weather was always grey. Fast forward to that first day at Angelfire, NM and I could not believe how bright it was! The sun was out even though it was freezing and the sunlight bounced right off the bright white snow. I really wish I had some good ski goggles then. And a baklava...

Today I was so pleased and excited to try out the Double Lens Goggles from #CoziaDesign which also came with a baklava...imagine that! You can see a slightly off-center video of me trying them on for the first time and even quickly changing the lenses here on my YouTube channel.

A bit later I tried the goggles on without the baklava later and was pleased that they fit just as comfortably with and without the cloth. I was concerned that my hair would be an issue. Either the head band would slide or it would catch. If you look closely at the photo on the left you can see a set of wavy lines. Those are made with a silicone bead that is supposed to give a better grip. I am pleased to pronounce that they did not pull out my hair and also kept the band from slipping around on my hair so the goggles can be comfortably used without the baklava.

These goggles come with two lenses which connect easily and securely using magnets. I was not expecting the change of lenses to be so easy and thought I might have to press them in firmly. But you just pop one out by pressing on the inside and then pop the other on just by getting it close enough to the frame for the magnets to engage. Everything fits in the drawstring pouch and they even threw in a microfiber lens cloth.

And for the bonus points, I don't look like a goober either!

I received this product at a discount or free in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. I would totally purchase these at full price for the next skiing adventure, if I didn't already have them.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

#trymorphpen #ProductReview

Right now I am excited to have the time to #trymorphpen for a #ProductReview. I honestly have not had much time to use it yet, but my work is slowing down for a few days. I have four videos of unboxing, loading, using and then unloading the Morph Pen that I will try to upload here. I do plan to use the patterns provided in the free ebook over the next few days and will take video of the sessions.

I have another 3d pen and it is not nearly as easy as the Morph Pen. I would love to get this as a gift, or even give it. This 3d pen is a very good one for starters.

I did receive this product at a discount or free in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinion.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

A face is worth a thousand...

Trying to be witty at 2:16am used to be a talent of mine...I think. Maybe I was just entertaining to myself. Regardless, I do have a job to do (and that job is not educating the masses on the proper use of regardless versus irregardless, which is kind of a double negative wrapped up in a word without meaning).

So, if you are one of the fabled people who do not need to worry about skin care, you can stop reading now. If you want to take care of your skin so it will stick to you and do its job then I might have some personal experience to share with you.

I was excited to try the Valentia Fresh Mist Calming #Toner for the simple fact that it was a mist. I always feel like I use too much toner when I have to put it on a cotton ball or something else. Plus it totally sucks when I don't have any more cotton balls. You can see how easy it is to use in my little Instagram video below.

I absolutely love the scent, too! It isn't too flowery nor does it smell strong like an astringent. The toner was able to slightly tighten my skin without feeling that my skin is stretched too tight.

I would totally purchase this again and suggest you try it!

Next I was given the opportunity to test out three products from #SwissVita. They sent me the Swissvita Facial Cleanser with AC-11, the Swissvita Eye Cream For Wrinkles and the Swissvita Dark Spot Corrector with AC-11.

Honestly it was difficult for me to try these for the simple reason that the containers were not easy to open. I wish I could say more but I really did not get a chance to use them. If I get to a place where I can easily open the containers and try them out I will update this post.

As always, I received these above mentioned products at a discount or free in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

Head Case

I have a slight obsession with headlamps.

I want one that does the light and magnifies, but have yet to find one that works well for a reasonable price. So, I must do with just the lamps. Head lamps are such useful gadgets to have around the house because it frees up your hands for whatever you are lighting.

#Luxolite sent me the green one you see in the photos here. The Waterproof CREE Headlamp w/Duracell Batteries Included is one of my favorite headlamps I have. The photo on the left is of the lamp just placed on my head. The entire band is elastic and is very comfortable. It is also adjustable for those of you with smaller or larger heads (insert witty joke here if you want). The photo on the right shows the lamp's light "deployed" facing down. The light can actually be moved into four different positions so you can place the light where it is needed most.

I can remember holding a flashlight for my dad when I was a kid and he was under the sink fixing the plumbing or various other locations and fixes. This would have been really wonderful for those situations. Another wonderful use for this headlamp is when you go on a walk or hike or when camping. Basically anywhere you would need a flashlight but would also like to have two free hands.

This headlamp is just a good item to have in your tool arsenal. I would suggest this as a good purchase for yourself or even a gift.

As always I received this product at a discount or free in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Electric Sockets and Odor Killers

The Onite 2-Pack of E26 to E26 US Standard Screw Light by #LH1KBL is a genius little gadget. And you know how much I love gadgets! Ok, so this screws into a light socket (lamp, wall, ceiling, it does not matter) and then you screw your lightbulb into it. A bit of a side note - I would suggest only using a LED bulb so you don't end up pulling too much energy to one socket. Now that you have the gadget in the socket and the bulb in the gadget, what do you do? Well, you use the gadget to plug up to two non-grounded plugs.

This is wonderful for small spaces where you may not have enough wall plugs for what you need. Also if you live in an older home or work in an older garage these can be a lifesaver. They work quite well and come in a set of two, bonus! And for those of you who like to use lights for the holiday, this could really be a great way to put up more house bling.

I plan to get these for my Dad who is the ultimate garage tinkerer. I think that he would really appreciate a few more outlets.

The All Natural Fridge Odor Remover by #saganofresh is safely ensconsed in my refrigerator and doing its job quite well. I have no illusions about being a talented homemaker so my fridge frequently hosts unplanned science experiments.

I have to say, within 24 hours of placing this little plastic box in my fridge I could tell a huge difference. It won't keep things from spoiling, because that is not its job, but it will keep the scents in the fridge from crossing to other foods.

It works well and is easy to "install". All you do is place it in your fridge, closet or mudroom. Probably a great idea for a bathroom used mainly by boys, too.

This is something I would purchase again.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Luxury vs Utilitarian

I love getting everyday household items to test and review. Why? Beause right now I cannot afford to purchase them at full price. A non-slip bath mat has been on my list for a while because of Husband's lack of balance. I was very excited when the Non Slip Anti-Bacterial Bath Mat Deluxe by #luxyhome was offered. I jumped at the chance to order it (at a discounted price or free) and try it out at home.

When it arrived I was a bit underwhelmed. I expected something that had the word "deluxe" in the name and was sold by a company with "luxy" in its name to be more than something that I could find in any bath in a roadside motel.

Here's the thing, it does work. It is non-slip and, even though Husband has yet to try it, I already feel better about his safety when taking a shower. So while the mat is not luxurious it is something I plan to keep in our tub. I would recommend this product to anyone who has the possibility to fall in a tub.

Quick reminder that I did receive this product at a discount or free in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinion.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Have You Ever Seen the Rain?

This 8 Inch Chrome Rainfall High Pressure Shower Head is huge! This is the shower head which started my obsession for finding the perfect one. This was provided to me at a discount or free by #cbsbundles and I absolutely loved using it.
The shower head is very shiny as you can easily see in the photo. Here in Idaho we have pretty hard water, unless you have a working water softener in your home. Ours has never been set up, so hard water is a fact of our lives. I was pleased at how long the shinyness stayed even with the hard water issue. If you've never lived with hard water it can and does leave scummy looking "stains" wherever it dries. I think the silicone holes in this shower head kept it from getting overly wet and kept it from getting stained quickly. 

Basically I liked the head and have no issues with recommending it.

And the obligatory disclaimer that I did receive this product at a discount or free in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Product Review Parade in Dire Need of a Pedicure

I was approached by the seller of #zoshoo shoes and asked if I wanted to try some of their shoes at a ridiculously low price. What they wanted of me was to be honest and unbiased in my review on amazon, to provide a video review (I'm calling it the shoe parade) and share my experiences on my blog and other social media accounts.

So let me make this transparent. I did pay for the shoes, but veeeeeery little. I did not pay for shipping since I have amazon prime. I have not, nor will I be paid for my opinion or review. All craziness is mine and mine alone.

As I am writing this I have not had any problems with the shoes. Should any issues arise (for example if the sole came off while wearing it or if a shoe ws put together backwards) I would contact the seller first to see if their customer service and return policies were working and try to get the issue resolved before posting the review. This is what I would do with any product I received whether through a review, a full price purchase or as a gift. The only difference is my review will be colored by the extra experience and the service and return would be discussed in the review.

One more note, I have gone back to past reviews to update as necessary. Once I was contacted by the seller and offered a newer design of a product to see if it fixed the issues I brought up in my review. It did and I amended (BUT DID NOT DELETE THE ORIGINAL) the review. Quite recently I had a product stop working after only a few uses. The return/exchange time had passed so again I amended my review. The seller contacted me and we are now trying to get the item replaced. I don't see my being an official product reviewer as anything special. I literally call them as I see them. If I can be proven wrong or educated I will add to my review, but it will not change the original review. As a consumer I would prefer to see the process a customer goes through rather than a sanitized version of the experience.

Now that I have penned my reviewer manifesto...

Onto the shoes!

I have 4 pair of shoes that will be examined in this parade in dire need of a pedicure.

The Tobin Western Slip On Cowboy Distressed Ankle Pull on Bootie Women's Boot has a synthetic base and a leather top. The heel is 2.75 inches of stacked wood. There is no opening or closure as these are supposed to be pull-on with using the side tabs. These are year-round use shoes and, in my western riding experience, could be used for riding horses with a western saddle. Unfortunately I could not get them on my feet. I really wish I would have been able to get these on because they were so cute. The opening does not have enough give in order to accommodate my high arches.

The Lace Up Cut Out Heeled Ankle Bootie reminds me of a Gladiator style shoe. The base material is synthetic as is the top, according to the product listing. The heel is a 3.5" wooden block, which I expected to be uncomfortable. The material used for the top of the shoe is cut in a way that provides a good amount of coverage with giving little peeks at parts of the foot. This type of shoe would work for someone who had not yet had a pedicure, but a painted toe would really spice them up. The tie on each shoe is threaded through the panels at the front and then wrapped around the ankle above the shoe before being tied in a bow. Another part that I expected to be uncomfortable but was not. Altogether this was not an uncomfortable shoe for me. It is something I would wear in the Spring and Summer, not for long walks but truly a nice date shoe.

The Chunky Platform Ankle Strap Sandal has a synthetic base and top and is a type of shoe I have stayed away from in the past. I never really got into the platform shoe because I have enough trouble tripping over myself in flat tennis shoes. However I decided I would have some fun and try it. The front of the platform is approximately 1.5" and the heel comes in at approximately 2.5". The shoes easily slid on and attach with a buckle on an ankle strap. I did get the black ones and probably would wear them Spring through Fall in milder climates. Here in Idaho I would have to put these away after summer because I would not want to be caught wading in them. I was quite surprised at how easy it was to walk in these shoes. The weight from the platform kept me centered more than expected. I would not wear these for long distances or on beaches. Not sure why I had to share about beaches since I haven't been on one in over a decade, but just sayin...

The Western Chelsea Ankle Boot are my overall favorite! They have a synthetic base and top, according to the listing. However I believe the majority of the top is leather...I could be wrong. Anyway, there is a low stacked heel and the base has a spongy feeling to it when I walk. I kind of like it and it makes it so I don't clack all over on hard surfaces. Each side has elastic tabs which allow the top to open enough to let my feet in easily. The back of the shoe molds nicely to my heel and keeps my foot from slipping out. I LOVE these. I have worn them with boot cut and with straight cut jeans. They could also work with leggings and even skirts. These are year-round shoes which never seem to make it all the way to my closet.

I have this video which shows the shoes on my feet with jeans and with a skirt and it is fabulous and it is lost somewhere in my computer. When I find it I will upload it.

Quick reminder that I did receive these product at a discount or free in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Are You a Tea Noob or Connoisseur?

I have had the Stainless Steel Tea Infuser Strainer from #bizzonegroup in my possession for a while and just today was able to use it. Earlier this week I received the Premium loose leaf teas gift box from #Vadham and just had to try one. The tea sampler comes packaged in a holiday themed box which means one less package to wrap if you are giving it as a gift.

The tea selection is not what I was expecting. According to the amazon listing I was supposed to get black, green and chai teas. I did get a nice assortment but they were all black teas. I will be contacting the seller to see if I received the wrong box or something else went wrong. Regardless, the teas are nicely packaged in a high-quality food grade pouch that is very easy to reseal. The seal is tight and the scent of the tea, when opened, is very appealing. I chose the Orange Earl Grey to try first.

The strainer is a very well-designed piece of kitchen equipment. They took into consideration the range of mug openings and the red silicone covered piece fits in all my mugs but also covers them completely. This allows for the tea to steep without losing too much of the heat of the water. The lid has enough weight to create a nice seal and the blue silicone adds to the viability of the seal because it is soft enough to mold with the red silicone below.

It was so easy to fill the strainer with a small amount of the tea and then pour almost boiling water over the top. Then I placed the blue lid on top of the strainer and let it steep for 20 minutes. 3-5 minutes is the generally recommended time to steep, but I got distracted (yes, really) and got to it after 20 minutes.
I thought it was easy to use, but I was amazed at how easy it is to just take the strainer out and you're ready to drink the tea. Just watch the quick video! The micropores in the strainer do not let any of the loose tea leaves (or bark, fruit peels, whatever you're brewing) get into the water. The tea, even at a 20 minute brew, was clear and smooth. I was extremely impressed!

One caution or potential issue for the teas. They do not come with instructions. The instructions are on the amazon listing, but that is not the greatest place to have them when giving the teas as a gift. As you can see in the photos there is a large white card with the Vadham name and logo on it. It would be simple to print the instructions on the back of that card before packaging.

On the right you can see the tea as it started to steep. I took the picture within the first minute after pouring the water. On the left is the tea once I removed the strainer after 20 minutes of steeping. Look at how beautiful the color is! The tea is clear and really went down smooth. I did not need to add any sweetener because the flavor was so pure. 

I do think these two items work well together. If you plan to get one for the tea noob or the connoisseur, I would suggest getting the other as well. They make a nice gift set and will be greatly appreciated by the recipient.
I did receive both items at a discount or free in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Will this ebook help me to stop hating photoshop?

I don't review many books because I usually give away the ending, but the Guide to Photoshop ebook is a different story (see how I did that?).

I hate #photoshop but love Adobe Illustrator. Yes, I know that is not normal, but there are so many terms in photoshop that just do not make sense to me. Regardless I was intrigued when I came across the opportunity to read and review this ebook.

The tool primer is the first part of this ebook. Unfortunately most of what is written here can easily be found online and in the photoshop help. There really is no new information or even an attempt at a new way of explaining the function. The images the author uses in this section are average.

The author tends to assume much of his readers especially with a beginners' guide. The following quote is taken directly from the section subtitled "What Are Layers?":

In the above image, it is clear that all the layers that are present in a Photoshop project can be seen in the layer panel located at the bottom right side of the screen. 

While the writing is clear, the image that is placed immediately above this statement is not. The layer panel is the same height as the image of the photo and is not shown "at the bottom right of the screen". I do not know if the image used is skewed in order to show detail, but a large image and then a zoomed in one for detail would be much more clear. I would also appreciate labels on the image that are made with crisp text. There are images previously in the ebook that do have some labels but the quality of the text makes me think the image was titled while in photoshop, not after. 

The above may seem a bit nitpicky, but there are reasons I point them out. First, it is a concrete example of the issue and secondly, it is a continued problem throughout the book.

I would like to suggest to the author that he have a professional editor go through the book with him. Not that there are any huge editing mistakes (that I have found yet) but the writing is quite repetitive and needs suggestions from someone who is familiar with how to engage readers.

I do think I can learn from this ebook and will continue to read it. I look forward to implementing new techniques but I do not feel as if I will be mastering photoshop in one week with just this ebook. This is a good reference book for me but not as practical in use as I would want in order to "master" a program.

I received this ebook from the author for free in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

AYL's Torch Light is a DUD

It is times like these that I wish I had not received a product for free. Some sellers have a weird way of treating reviewers by not offering customer service.

I received the AYL 900 Lumens CREE XM-L2 LED Tactical Flashlight for free and it never worked. The #AYLFlashlight came with a 2200mAH 18650 rechargeable battery and a case for three AAA batteries if you wanted or needed to use those instead. I charged the battery using the included charger. When I placed the battery in the torch it was not able to power on. I tried the AAA batteries and no dice. The product was a dud.

I emailed the seller and received no response. Because of the way the item was sold amazon said they would refund anything I did pay out. However I have Prime (aka free shipping) and I paid nothing for the light.

I feel kind of bad that I can't get a different unit to review because it looks like a good product. Unfortunately with amazon's policy and an unresponsive seller, there is nothing I can do.

I do like the bright silver color that is all over the torch. It is a wonderful non-working prop for a costume if needed sometime in the future.

Bottom line is I do NOT recommend it because my experience was with a broken flashlight.

RemoMore Needs More Help

RemoMore is an app that is supposed to help #KeepKidsSafe. There are some good aspects to this app but I do not recommend it at this time.

Just a quick reminder that I was given a year long subscription to this service for free in exchange for my review. I was not paid other than with the use of the service.

So there are two main parts to the RemoMore software, the website and the app that is placed on the phone to be tracked. This software could be quite powerful but seems to me it is target audience may not be tech savvy enough to use it correctly. And if you are not tech savvy (I do think I normally am, but some of that is due to ComputerGenius Husband answering my questions. He was not available to help me on this one) then your children need to be young enough to not be able to figure out how to disable the app.

Their customer service, in my experience, is nonexistent. Granted, my time with this app is a bit different than the standard customer because I received a coupon code for the subscription. At first I could not figure out where to insert the code in order to get the subscription going and emailed their tech support. That was at the beginning of August. It is now a week away from Halloween and I have never received any actual response. I did figure out how to get it going, thus I was able to publish this review.

I do like their weekly emails which show information that you want to track on the phone(s)/device(s) upon which you have installed the app. This is the only connection between me and the makers of the software at this point.

I have used other security software on my devices and have also installed other apps that have helped with the device health. To my knowledge this is the first one I have come across that has done a pretty good job of each. This app allows the parent to get alerts, lock the phone, put time locks on it and even access health band (ie. fitbit) information for each person who has one attached to a covered device.

Basically this is a great idea, okay execution and poor customer service in my experience. If they would fix the customer service I would be happy to recommend this!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Shower Trio

IPShowers has lots of different shower heads that they wanted to send out for reviews. I was tired of the shower head that came with the house when we bought it 16 years ago. The combo sounded like a good match, so I applied for all of the shower heads that interested me. I tend to overapply as a rule so as to make pretty sure that I get one of the products available. When IPShowers decided to approve me for all three I was thrilled. Since then I have applied and been approved for four more, but I think it is just good manners to review the three I have before they send me four more.

What will I do with three shower heads? Well, I take the old one off and put the first new one on. Then I run it to see how well it works. Then I remove the first new one and place the second one on. I run it...see how this works? So, the other nice part of this project is I get to try three different kinds of shower heads.

The first is a PowerSpa 6-Setting Luxury Showerhead. I call it a basic shower head because you can just attach to the pipe coming out of your shower wall. The instructions are simple (see photo) and the kit comes with a plastic "tape" to help with the seal. I, of course, did not read the instructions fully before installing the shower head. I did not read that it only needs to be hand tightened, so I ended up using a hand tool which did mar the plastic connection to the shower wall pipe.

Then there is the PowerSpa 7-Setting Luxury Hand Shower (aka: hand held shower head) with included hose. Yes, I do need to mention that the hose is included. In the recent past I received a hand held shower head for a #ProductReview that I could not use because it was just the head, no hose.

Last of the three is the PowerSpa 6" Rainfall Luxury Showerhead with included extension bar. I was very excited for this one because I am slightly obsessed with rain fall showers and because Husband is tall. The extension bar will allow the shower head to be placed higher than the wall pipe in the shower and, hopefully will be able to be placed directly above Husband's head. I'm short (average, meh) so I have not had the problem of bending over to get under the shower.

Fair warning on the following videos. I was holding my phone with one hand while trying to work with the other hand. The video quality totally sucks and might even be useless, but it is what I was able to do at the moment...especially since I could not find my tripod. Now that I'm writing this post, I'm pretty sure the tripod is in the back of my car.

Placing the plastic "tape"
on the shower wall pipe

Each of the three shower heads came with a plastic tape which is to be used to wrap the shower wall pipe threads before attaching a hose or shower head or extension arm. The plastic tape helps to fill in any gaps that may happen because the threading may not exactly meet up. It also gives something a bit more malleable than metal to the connection thus making a stronger and tighter connection with whatever is attached to it. If this gets old or cut through shower heads being screwed on and off, which could really happen in my house, then remove it and replace the plastic tape with more. You can use steel wool to get any bits and pieces that like to stay behind. You can see in my video (or you should be able to see if the lens was focused on the pipe the entire time) that I wrapped the pipe a few times around with this plastic tape. I also covered the entire area that was threaded and a bit on the smooth part of the pipe. Again, this gives a malleable product to get in between those metal threads and fill in any gaps. It helps to make a stronger seal and keeps from water leaking out of that connection.

Installing the PowerSpa 6-Setting
Luxury Showerhead and part one of
Installing the PowerSpa 7-Setting
Luxury Hand Shower
The next video is also a bit of what not to do when installing the PowerSpa 6-Setting Luxury Showerhead. Specifically, you do not need to use hand tools to tighten because between the plastic tape, the washer and the way this is designed, a hand tightening should work. If you look closely you should be able to see where using the locking pliers (is that what they are called?) actually scratched and marred the surface. Keep watching and you get to see me trying desperately to get the different settings to happen. Unfortunately the 6-Setting shower head ended up being a one setting head. I have emailed IPShowers to see if maybe I received a bad unit and if they would be interested in sending another to replace it. So, I took off the first shower head and right around 1:20 you will see me screwing on the holder for the second shower head. At 1:40 you can see me messing with a larger band which allows you to focus the shower head holder and tighten it to keep it pointing the way you want.

This brings us to shower head number two - aka the PowerSpa 7-Setting Luxury Hand Shower. The first two photos show the included hose and the washers that are placed in each end.

Then I have part two of installing this shower head. In case you missed it, part one is included in the video above and starts around 1:20. I don't know why I recorded it like that, but I also don't really know how to edit the videos to make it make sense. However, if you have made it this far in my blog, you probably are used to me not making total sense.

7-Setting install part 2
The video on the left shows me screwing in the hose to the hand shower holder and then to the hand shower. When I turned this one on I was happy to see that it did, in fact, change to seven different settings quite easily. This made me more sure that the 6-Setting shower head was just a bad unit because, as you can see in the video, changing the settings is very easy to do.

Pause button
Now there is another function on this hand held shower head that I wanted to point out. On the handle there is a pause button. The pause is basically supposed to stop the flow of water out of the shower head without turning off the shower or turning it back to the tub. This is a wonderful option for saving water, for rinsing off children or pets and just for control. Unfortunately as you can see in the next short video clip, the pause button does not completely work. I really wish it did because I would be using it all the time.

Rainfall Showerhead
Extension Bar
Lastly is the PowerSpa 6" Rainfall Showerhead, the one I was most excited to try. Unfortunately there were a few issues which kept me from being able to install this shower head.

Rainfall Showerhead
I played a bit with the extension bar before taking a closer look at the rainfall shower head. The extension bar has the ability to swivel and be tightened on both ends of the bar. This is really nice because you can swivel the bar at the connection to the wall pipe and you can swivel the rainfall showerhead as well. The flexibility afforded by the two joints gives pretty much endless possibilities along that plane.

Here's where the problem comes in. When I went to assemble the parts for the showerhead I noticed the instructions said there should be a curved washer to place inside the showerhead before placing the ball swivel connection on top (which gives you even more movement possibilities) and closing with the coupler. The washer I received was not large enough in diameter to cover the entire area and was flat, not curved. You can see this in the last video. Because I did not want to get water all over the entire bathroom due to the wrong washer, I stopped my installation process right there. I again emailed IPShowers to see if I could get a replacement washer and continue with the installation. You might also be able to see in the video that inside the showerhead is a bit of a silver plastic obstruction. I'm pretty sure it is not supposed to be there and might be another bad unit.

So, to summarize, I was really excited to try out three different types of showerheads from IPShowers. The 6-Setting (standard) Showerhead is probably a bad unit (could not change settings), but was very easy to install. The 7-Setting Hand Held Shower was easy to install and worked very well. Unfortunately the pause button did not fully pause the flow of water. The Rainfall Showerhead was not able to be installed due to the wrong washer being sent to me and a potential obstruction in the head. None of the three showerheads were completely functional, but the PowerSpa 7-Setting Luxury Hand Shower is the closest and is now being used in my shower.

I am waiting to hear back on the emails I sent and will hopefully have an update to post regarding these products. I did just send the emails a few hours ago and it is a Sunday afternoon, so I am not expecting to hear back today. Normally I would say whether I recommend these products or not, but I want to wait to see how the customer service is handled before making that decision.

I received these products at a discount or free in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

I prefer to really get detailed in my reviews, but not for this one

I'm tired, I'm slightly grumpy and I'm feeling kind of harassed by a seller on one of the review sites I use. #RY_GARDENER sent me an expandable garden hose kit that included a hanger (not planning to use because material quality makes me wonder when it will break), a hose that starts at 17 feet and is supposed to expand to 50 and an 8 function spray nozzle. I expected the hose to be able to expand to the full 50 feet without too much struggle on my part. I measured it and it came in at right under 49 feet once I had it expanded. There is a chance I don't know what I'm doing, but it just seemed like a struggle to get it to expand. I do not see this hose replacing the "standard" straight hose I have because what I have not is longer and has worked for me. While the hose hanger is a nice idea, it falls short in the feel of the material. I honestly don't want to put this on my fence or wall because I'm not sure how long it will last. That being said, it is a bonus item and not the main event.
To be as fair as I can be, I am late in getting the review posted in the various agreed upon locations. It is my fault and I take full responsibility. Here is where I'm feeling harassed. The platform that is used on this seller/author site allows sellers to invite authors to apply for their promotions. I was invited by this seller just recently to apply for another promotion. So, I applied. Then I received a message from them saying that they won't approve me until the previous review is done. While I understand that and think it is a good business practice, it should have no bearing upon this situation because the seller was the one who asked me to apply. It just did not seem ethical or a good way to build a customer. And honestly I just want to get this set of reviews for this product over with and not deal with this anymore. It does not inspire me to go above and beyond in my review but to only do the minimum. So, my review is basically this:
The quality of the host is less than expected. The extension of the hose is less than advertised unless I'm doing something wrong. While it isn't a horrible product, it is not something I would purchase again.
I received this product at a discount or free in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Jasmine's New Digs

#whoyoukitten sent this soft Cat Hammock which is lined with what feels like sheepskin, and Jasmine was not really sure what to think at first. I had a difficut time finding a place where it would work because the straps were not that long and the clips were kind of counter productive. Once I did find a spot she still was not sure what to think even as I "helped" her to get in the hammock a few times. So I let the hammock hang and ignored it...the best way to get a cat interested in almost anything. 

This morning I was on my compter and Jasmine decided she needed to get into the hammock, just like it was a normal thing for her to do. She gave me the "why are you making a big deal out of this" face when I started to video her. Take a look for yourself.

So, where exactly did I end up hanging the hammock? I have a stand (I think it was a printer stand before I got it from craigslist) that has the tower server on the bottom and my monitor on top. In between the monitor and the tower is enough room for Jasmine to crouch. She always ends up crouching on top of the fan venting area, so I thought it might be a good place to try the hammock. She felt it was sturdy enough to lay in and to turn around a few times, too. 

So far the hardware is holding but I do worry about the clip/hook pieces as I would not have chosen them. They would work okay if I had something small enough in diameter to clip them to, but I'm not sure anything of that size would hold her weight. I ended up wrapping the nylon strap around the bars of the stand and then attaching the clip to the nylon strip. It was not easy to do and I hope it is secure.

I would totally suggest this cat hammock for kittens (kitten pile in the hammock would be so cute) and smaller cats. If you feel that your cat is a larger one or even overweight, make sure the clips will hold the weight.

As with most items I review, I received this product at a discount or free in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

No Electrical Experience? No Problem! But there might be a jellyfish issue

I received an LED Light Bulbs Dimmable CRI90 1000lm UL-listed from #oakleaf for a #ProductReview. This is one of the most simple ways to change the type of bulb that you have to use in a certain socket. The ingenious lighting fixture replaces Halogen 100 W bulbs without even needing to know how to rewire anything. So besides getting the new LED bulb, you don't have to worry about anything electrical. This is an unskilled DIY-er's fixture.

If you look at the picture on the right you'll see the back of the fixture at the bottom of the photo. At the top is the screw in that goes where a halogen lamp used to go. Not only is this simple to do, but it looks clean and professional when done, and it is EASY! Once you screw in the cord, all you do is press the fixture into the ceiling and secure it using the metal tabs on the back. Then you have less energy use (aka cost) and it will take a loooooong time until that light needs to be changed.

I recommend this to anyone who has halogen lamps in their home!

I was also sent a #Jellyfis tank decoration for a #ProductReview. Honestly I was not blown away by this little decoration. It is supposed to be something you place in a fishtank. It has an "invisible" fishing line attached to it from underneath, which seems like it is in the wrong place. Attached to the line is a suction cup so you can anchor it to the glass.

When I first received this I was not happy. The package was mangled and one of the tentacles was even flopping out of the box. The listing for this product comes with 5, but for some reason I only received 1. It is also supposed to be fluorescent (and even glows in the listing images) but as you can see, it is not. Jasmine had to come over and check out what I was doing and even she didn't really like it.

I just can't recommend this product. It is made with cheap materials and poorly packaged. The instructions on the box are in English but have not been edited by a native English speaker.

I received these products at a discount or free in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Your Wish Is Granted

I love fantasy stories. Anything paranormal will usually attract my attention. However just because a book is paranormal or fantasy or SciFi does not mean that it will keep my attention.

I also love the young adult genre because it can transport me to a different world for minutes, hours or even days at a time. Reading is what keeps me going sometimes. And I quite frequently use it as a non-food reward for myself. For example, get these three errands done and I get 30 minutes to read my current obsession. I'm not joking about the obsession thing. If I find a good book I really don't want to put it down. I finished a 700 page novel in one day. I did not move off the couch at all that day, but I had fun.

Now that I have spilled one of my secret obsessions with whomever is reading this (HI MOM!) I get to share my newest candidate for said obsession. The fantasy book Granted by Michelle Merrill. A huge thanks to #futurehousepub for providing me with a FREE Advanced Reader copy. (Side note, if you want to get free copies of books, look for an ARC group to join. You might even want to check out Future House Publishing and join their group. Be forewarned that ARC books are not ready to be published and you may find typos and other errors. Sometimes I even send in the goofs I find to make the editing job easier...or more difficult depending on who you ask.)

I was hooked by the first page! I'll be completely honest here and let you know I have yet to finish reading the book. I have been using it, quite successfully in fact, to fuel my chores. So I don't want to give too much away because that is never fun. What I do want to say is this book looks at a side of being a fantasy character that I have never seen before. I can't wait to get my chores done today so I can read my next installment.

This is a book that I would recommend for anyone who likes to be swept away into another life that just might be possible.

I do want to give props to the author and publisher on a book well done. Because I totally suck at writing a synopsis without giving it all away, here is a teaser you can also find on the publisher's website:

About Granted   The existence of genies may be the best-kept secret in the history of the world. After being trapped in the Sahara Desert for her whole life, sixteen-year-old genie Brielle finally gets her first assignment in Tri-Cities, Washington. She eagerly heads out into the human world to grant her first wish so that she can gain her magic. Unfortunately, her assigned human, Addie, stopped believing in wishes years ago and would much rather that everyone just leave her alone. 

I received this ARC ebook for free in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.