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.

Jul 24

Damai Universal Cable/Pens Organizer ★★★★☆

Damai Universal Cable/Pens Organizer Stable (Small, Black)

The Damai Universal Cable Organizer works mostly for thin, short cords. It’s literally a stretch for my longer micro USB cords, and rolling up when all five slots are full makes a fat wad. There’s a bungee cord to keep the roll together, which is another cord I need to keep track of. I wish the bungee was sewn on.

I don’t like it as much as I thought I would because the cords don’t slide in as smoothly as I’d like. Maybe if all my cords were a foot or two long, it would work better. Still, I use it in the car every day to control the cable clutter. That’s worth something. 3½ stars.

This product was provided for review by Damai.

Jul 24

Vinsic 5-Ports 40W USB Charger ★★★★★

Vinsic 5-Ports 40W USB Charger, Smart Power Desktop USB Charger Adapter for iPhone 5S 5 4S, iPad, Samsung Galaxy, HTC, Nexus, Motorola, Cellphone, Tablets (White)

So far, so good! I’ve been charging everything I can think of and the Vinsic Charger charges all. The other day, it was loaded to the max with two tablets, two cell phones, and an LED desk lamp. No problem, and the charge was quick.

The cable is long enough to reach to my desk. It doesn’t use a bulky AC adapter like many of them do (thank you!), and there’s no indicator light. I don’t think they can win with me on indicator lights. On the one hand, I like knowing if the darn thing is on. On the other hand, this is great of the bedroom. Ah, total darkness. I’m waiting for them to make an indicator light I can turn on at the touch of a button. Haven’t found it yet.

I like how it’s smart, so I don’t have to search for the iPhone port or the Samsung port or the universal port. I usually ignore those labels, probably to the detriment of optimal charging. This way, I get a fast charge without even thinking about it.

This product was provided for review by Vinsic.

Jul 24

VIVOTTI 4/4 Violin ★★★★☆

VIVOTTI 4/4 Full Size Solid Wood Ebony Fitted Carbon Fiber Tailpiece Violin Outfit, Including Lightweight Oblong Violin Case, Ebony Frog Violin Bow, DESPIAU Bridge, Rosin, and Strings, Matte Brown Finish

The VIVOTTI Violin comes with everything a student violinist needs to get started, except the shoulder rest. It features a double zipper, zippered outer pocket, two bow spinners, a shoulder strap, and rosin. The compartment inside is large enough to store a shoulder rest. I like the snug fit for my violin and the Velcro strap to keep it secure.

I’m nowhere near professional. In fact, I would label myself a beginner, as scales are about all I can play. The warmth I hear from real musicians is not there, but the tone is good enough for my student ears.

The biggest drawback is the slippery pegs, which makes tuning very difficult to nearly impossible. As hard as I push in, it won’t grip. There is an inexpensive solution in the name of something called peg dope, but I didn’t have any and didn’t want to go out and buy some. Instead, I tried rubbing a candle on the pegs. This helped enough to tune, but it was still difficult. It really needs peg dope.

This product was provided for review by Appearances International.