Jul 28

Pro Balance® 14-Day Vacation Feeding Blocks for Fish ★★★★★

Pro Balance® 14-Day Vacation Feeding Blocks for Fish, 2-pack

After 14 days, my goldfish are alive! My two large goldfish (about 5 inches nose to tail) live in a 10 gallon tank with a waterfall filter. We went on a two week trip and I was worried about how they would eat. I’m glad I found these Pro Balance® 14-Day Vacation Feeding Blocks. When I got home, the blocks were gone, but the water was clear and the fish were healthy. It worked exactly as promised.

Jul 28

Trevor Romain: Bullies Are a Pain in the Brain ★★★★★

This review was originally posted February 5, 2009.

Trevor Romain: Bullies Are a Pain in the Brain

by Trevor Romaine

Trevor Romain: Bullies Are a Pain in the Brain is a well made video for kids of all ages. Even younger children will have no trouble comprehending the concepts it tries to teach. My children are 4 and 7 and they had no trouble fully understanding it. The video held their interest and helped open up a dialogue regarding bullying.

The video explains the tactics that bullies use to intimidate their victims. The main character demonstrates what children often do when bullied, some common misconceptions and what tactics are most successful.

I found the video to be very informative, even for myself, and would recommend it to all parents of young children.

Jul 28

The Naughty Nork ★★☆☆☆

This review was originally posted February 6, 2009.

The Naughty Nork (Moongobble and Me)

by Bruce Coville

The Naughty Nork is about a little boy who goes on a quest to break a curse to turn his monster friend Oggledy Nork (Naughty Nork) back into a human.

Amazon lists the book for 9 to 12 year olds. That may be the reading level of the books. My son is 7 years old and reads at about the third grade level. He’d be able to read this book; but I read the first chapter to him because I wanted to read it as well. After the first chapter, he decided he did not want to continue. My 4 year old was not interested at all.

The pages are beautifully bordered, the pencil illustrations are nicely done. Visually, it is an attractive book and those little elements add to the setting and aid the reader in fully immersing into the story.

I found the silly nonsensical words detracted from the story. Made up names and places are best done so the reader doesn’t notice they’re made up. One reviewer mentioned Dr. Seuss, which was an excellent example. Harry Potter is another example. In those worlds, the new words are easily associated with their meanings despite the fact that they are made up. In this book, the words popped out at me in every sentence, and it was hard not to focus just on those words. This would actually have been a better book without the use of silly, made up words.

The writing style was easy to read and flowed well but I think the storyline needed help and some things were a little choppy and didn’t make sense.

For instance, the little boy tries to convince his parents to let him keep the Naughty Nork at home for the night and they don’t because his mom is pregnant and Dad didn’t want to upset her. That was the end of the first chapter. It was a big ending. The boy was in shock over the news. I expected the next chapter to be about the surprise big news.

The next thing you know, he’s on his quest. News about the becoming a big brother was completely forgotten from the next turn of the page. Why did he need permission for Naughty Nork to stay at home in the first place when they could have just gone straight on their mission? Maybe so the reader could find out the mom was pregnant and the boy could go on his quest and grow up and then learn he doesn’t have to worry because the baby is just one more person to love. Exactly how his quest taught him that, I’m still unclear. He didn’t give it a moment’s thought in the entire adventure until his mom felt the need to reassure him.

There are many other things that made me do a double take. I think I’m missing something, but when I re-read it, I find out it’s just not there.

This book was provided for review by the Amazon Vine program.

Jul 25

Backseat Organizer ★★★★☆

Backseat Organizer

This backseat organizer works best in cars without pockets in the seatback in front of them. It’s great at organizing smaller items, but it doesn’t hold larger items that would otherwise fit in the car’s seat pocket. My son says it gets in the way as it creates less room for his legs when sagging back towards him. For young children in car seats, this probably won’t be an issue. Their legs are not long enough to hang over the seat.

We’ve mostly used this for water bottles, sunscreen, and paperback books. We’ve traveled with it up and down the state. It’s nice, made well enough, but not nearly as handy as I’d have liked. 3½ stars.

This product was provided for review by Freddie and Sebbie.

Jul 25

Liquid Chalk Ink Markers ★★★★☆

Liquid Chalk Ink Markers – 6mm Chisel Tip, Fluorescent Rainbow Colors – for Non-Porous Surfaces – Water Based & Easily Erasable

My daughter and I had a great time using these Liquid Chalk Ink Markers to decorate our car’s rear window in preparation for the San Diego Comic Con. In contrast to regular dry erase markers (yes, I tried them for comparison), these are bold and bright and visible. They are best for single line drawings or words. Filled areas look fine at a distance, but we do see the stroke lines clearly up close.

Washing off is super quick and easy. I had written some words on the car a week earlier that came right off with the squirt of a hose as I gave my car a bath.

It takes a bit of pumping to get the markers started. After they’ve sat around for more than a few days, it take some pumping to get them restarted. Once the tips are wet, we’re good to go for the entire session. The pumping takes a few minutes of time, probably the biggest drawback.

This product was provided for review by Chalk This Way.

Jul 25

Crochet for Kids ★★★☆☆

This review was originally posted February 7, 2009.

Crochet for Kids: Sweaters for Infants, Girls, and Boys

by Ann E. Smith

I bought Crochet for Kids because it had such cute patterns for kids. The patterns are skewed towards girls (as they always are in anything pertaining to garments and fashion), but it does have plenty of boys and unisex patterns. I’d say about 8 or 9 items could be made for boys.

The patterns are geared for intermediate to advanced crocheters. There was maybe one pattern for beginners and maybe one or two for advanced beginners. They are definitely difficult for beginners, so if you are a beginner, don’t even try this book.

I tend to like patterns that work up quickly and I did not find that here. They tend to be tedious and take up a lot of time. I started a few patterns and gave up. I can tell from the photos they would have been cute had I finished, but this book was just not for me.


Jul 25

The Crochet Answer Book ★★★★☆

This review was originally posted February 7, 2009.

The Crochet Answer Book: Solutions to Every Problem You’ll Ever Face; Answers to Every Question You’ll Ever Ask (Answer Book (Storey))

by Edie Eckman

I had a few problems with my crocheting technique which The Crochet Answer Book helped me address. Instead of just how to make a single crochet, it answers questions like why my circle won’t lay flat or how to increase smoothly and how to keep the edges straight.

I keep this little book with me whenever I crochet just in case I run into trouble. It is a nice reference. The only thing I dislike is finding the answer to my problem through the index is tedious. Wish there was a better way.

Jul 24

Fellowes Neptune3 125 Laminator ★★★★★

Fellowes Neptune3 125 Laminator, 12.5-Inch with 10 Pouches (5721401)

I’ve owned a few cold laminators. I’ve always wanted a thermal laminator. Let me just say, if you are deciding between cold and hot, go for hot, unless whatever you are laminating can’t take the heat. The sheets are more clear, more stiff, more durable, and don’t ever wrinkle when they come out.

I love it! I am never going back. The Fellowes Neptune3 125 Laminator heats up quickly. I just have to feed the pouches in one by one. Voila! There’s a tray in back to catch the end product. I get a professional laminated page.

Also included is a cold lamination function. No cold press pouches were included for me to test, but I prefer hot anyway.

I only wish the tray folded up somehow. It’s a wire tray that we have to take off and find a way to store.

This product was provided for review by the Amazon Vine program.

Jul 24

BalanceFrom High Accuracy Touch Multifunction Digital Kitchen Scale ★★★★☆

BalanceFrom High Accuracy Touch Multifunction Digital Kitchen Scale with Extra Large Backlight Display (Silver)

This BalanceFrom Kitchen Scale measures in pounds, ounces, and grams. From an angle, I can read water, milk, fluid ounce, ounce, and timer, but those features are unavailable and hidden when read from directly above. According to the vendor, these units were put there just in case they wanted to include them.

The glass top makes wiping down messes easy. It’s a longer shape to fit bowls and such. The tare function helps with that. It weighs products up to a maximum of 11 pounds or 5 kilograms.

Accuracy is good enough for the kitchen. There’s no way to calibrate it if the numbers are off. You’d have to call the company. I have a 500 gram calibration weight and it consistently shows 497 or 498 grams on this scale.

This product was provided for review by BalanceFrom.