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Sunday, July 30, 2017

Product review: Aris A Velvet Burnout Garden Bird Swing Jacket





This review of Aris A Velvet Burnout Garden Bird Swing Jacket
The waterfall shape is flattering to any figure. It looks beautiful and very dressy. It is made out of a combination of thin black velvet and colorful panels of burnout velvet. This is a very pretty jacket.  I got a lot of compliments when I wore it.

The jackets is lined and you can see its construction in attached photos. The craftsmanship of the piece is very good - neat seams and no loose threads. The cut is generous and because of the lining it slips on easily (velvet or burnout velvet without lining can cling), I can wear it with a thin blouse or a thicker sweater.

The material is 70% rayon and 30% silk. The jacket has no buttons, so it is quite forgiving in fitting a variety of sizes: it works well whether the fit is a little large or a little small, it still works fine because it drapes in folds in the front. It has a flowing look when it just moves in the air as I walk.

The sizing in the Amazon product description is accurate and it fits well.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★★




Friday, July 28, 2017

Product review: Tom's of Maine Whole Care Fluoride Gel, Orange Mango

I don't like mint flavors in anything, yet for years I had to put up with minty toothpaste. It is nice a have a choice! Tom's of Maine orange mango gel toothpaste has fluoride which fight cavities, it whitens with silicas, and has a pleasant taste that makes you want to brush more frequently which promotes fresh breath and lessens tartar.

The orange flavor is noticeably yet light and refreshing. It foams a little less than a regular toothpaste like Colgate, but feels nicer. It leaves a cool refreshing feeling and the slight orangy flavor lingers for a few minutes.

Attached is a photo of the Orange Mango Gel being put on the toothbrush so you can see the actual toothpaste color and texture.

It is a little pricier than a typical toothpaste, but it is worth it to me recommend!

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★★




Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Product review: Neutrogena Beach Defense SPF 70 ~ 1oz

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I was looking to buy 1 oz sunblock to carry in my purse.  These fit the bill very well. They come in  4 1/4" long tube which is 1.5" wide at the widest point.  The sunblock goes on without leaving white residue.  The tube I got from Amazon had an expiration date in about a year, the dates on each tube were slightly different.

Minor negative:
(1) The sunblock is not totally scent free, it has some sort of flowery scent. It is not unpleasant, but it lingers for a bit.
(2) My tubes had the reside from some kind of sticky sticker.  They were tacky to touch.  I had to clean them with Goo gone so when I put them in my purse other things would not get stuck to then.  This made wonder where the seller got these tubes, what did the sticker say, were they used? They should have been cleaned before shipping to customers.  The tubes appear to be full, so I don't think they have been used.  But I am reducing the rating because this is not what I expect when I get a new item from Amazon.
You can find it on Amazon by following this link.

Ali Julia review ★★★★☆

Monday, July 24, 2017

Product review: Folding Garden Kneeler Gardener Kneeling Pad

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I spent this entire weekend working in the garden using this kneeler.  It made gardening much easier on my back.  The best part of the kneeler is that when I use it as the kneeler I can use the legs as rails to help push myself up.  I have a bad back and these handles make it so easy on my back!

This kneeler comes pre-assembled. All I had to do to unfold the legs.  It 17.5" tall (from the ground to the bench seat) or 3.5" (from the ground to the kneeling pad). 

I frequently flip it from the bench to the kneeler, so I removed the pockets from the rails because if you flip the kneeler you need to attach the pockets to the other end otherwise so they don't drag on the ground. 

The pad are fairly soft, I like how the feel on knees.

To fold the kneeker I use my hand to depress the lever on each side. Otherwise the bench is locked in (which is a good thing for the person who is sitting on the bench).  When folded the kneeler is  23.63" Long x 10.63" Wide x 5.32" High.

Amazon has about a dozen sellers selling the same kneeler, I selected this one purely based on price.  Amazon prices vary often so price compare!

It is exactly what I hoped for, it is making working in my garden much easier!


You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Product review: Polaroid Cube+ 1440p Mini Lifestyle Action Camera with Wi-Fi & Image Stabilization

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There is large number of small action cameras out there. Many of them are GoPro clones, Polaroid Cube+ is a little different.
I own a couple of GoPro clones so I thought it might be useful to compare the best of the clones to the Polaroid Cube+.

As far as the video quality, I would rank it below the 4K sports cameras. It does not do well when driving directly into the sun. It does quite well in good lighting, and it does well at night. I am attaching a video that shows clips taken under different conditions: into the sun, without sun beaming into the camera, at night on my dash, and at night on my roof.

I got the camera in January 2016 and the audio is working fine (audio is included in attached video). I read older reviews that mention a problem but it appears to have been fixed in the version I have.

The biggest difference between GoPro clones and Polaroid Cube+ is the mounting system. Polaroid Cube+ has a strong magnet as its mounting system. I has driven with it on my roof on the highway without losing the camera. We even hit a huge pot hole at 65 miles an hour and my husband had to hold me down "No, we cannot pull over and see if the camera is still there as we are not going to try to retrieve it if it is not there and get killed." But the cube was still there when we arrived.

Another big difference is the user interface. The GoPro sports cameras have a very intuitive rich interface driven by menus. The cube has one button and talks to the owner in beeps and LED color changes. Green is turned on, red means it is recording. This is a trade off Polaroid made to gain the small size.

The documentation that comes with cube is as minimalist as the user interface. You get a leaflet with several pictures. No words. This documentation is enough to turn on the camera and take pictures or video. However, there was no documentation with the name of the app and no documentation of how to turn on WIFI. When I turned on the camera I saw a new hotspot on my phone. I attempted to connect to it and it asked me for a password. Because I set up many WIFI on sport cameras I tried several variations of common passwords and guessed it correctly on the third try. I found the app by taking a guess and searching Google play on "Polaroid CUBE+". In my video you can see what the app looks like. Once I started the app it told me the default password for the hotspot. Once connected to the hotspot, the app connected the camera and WIFI without problems. The app name and the password should have part of the documentation. There is no excuse for making the user guess such basic things.

The camera comes with a bumper case. However, it somewhat decreases the strength of the magnet and I don't use it because I rather use all the magnetic power I have to make sure I don't lose the camera.

You can use the camera without changing configuration, but if you want to change config you need to run an app which is included on the micro sd card of the camera. If you want to run the software you will need to attach the camera to a computer (Windows or Apple). For Windows the name of the application is PolaroidCube.exe, for Mac the application is called app.zip

Configuration can change:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
' Whether the camera overwrites old files when it runs out of space (the default is no)
' Whether you want to see a time stamp (the default is no)
' The volume of the buzzer (the default is good if there is no noise around, if you are using a camera as action camera it might be too low)
' Light frequency (50 Hz or 60 Hz). Default is 60 Hz
' The date/time

OPERATION
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There is one button on top of the camera that controls everything
' To turn on the camera press the button for 3 seconds (green light turns on)
' To take a photo press once (red light turns on briefly as it saves the photo)
' To start video recording press twice (red light starts blinking as it records)
' To turn of video recording press once (red light stops blinking)
' To turn off press to the button for 3 seconds (the light goes off)

OUTPUT FORMAT /
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The video output is generated in MP4 format. Some cameras break up video in many files which are written out every several minutes. Polaroid CUBE+ writes out one large file for the entire trip. I personally like the small files approach better. If a file gets corrupted you don't lose the entire video, you lose just a segment. With that being set so far all videos I have recorded are playable, I had not bad files. I am using class 10 micro sd card that came in the package.

GENERAL OBSERVATIONS
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
' This camera is very small. It is 1.25" cube.
' The lens on the camera is a wide angle (124 degrees)
' The battery is sealed in the unit and I don't see a way to replace it if I ever need it. At some point this will become a problem. When the camera goes down to 10% charge it beeps a warning. I am getting approximately 1.5 hours of continuous recording from it with the fresh battery.
' The camera can record while it is plugged in. The camera has an option to cycle, so it can overwrite old videos when it runs out of space.
' The camera has only a magnetic mount (there is no 1/4 mounting screw).
' The camera does not come with any other mounts, however I found that the packing box (which has a magnet) makes a nice stand that I can use on the dash of my car.
' The camera comes with a class 10 micro SD card.
' The camera charges with a regular micro USB cable. It works in all my chargers include a car charger.
' The camera comes with a short data cable. This cable allows you to transfer files from the camera to the computer. If you decide to use your own longer cable (which I am doing) make sure you are using a data cable not a charging cable (the cables that come with external power banks are often the charging cables). In a charging cables the two data connections are shorted together (rendering the cable useless for data transfer), but this fools devices to see the cable as an AC power connection and thus the battery accept a higher current for charging. For moving data from the camera to the PC you need a data cable.

Even though the video is not as good as my 4K sports camera, its unique mount is fun to use and gets unique views and sounds.

What improvements I would like to see? 4K video, 1/4" screw mount in addition to to the magnet mount, and better documentation.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.

Ali Julia review ★★★☆☆


Thursday, July 20, 2017

Product review: Yadebao Tie Belt Rack Organizer Hanger

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The hanger is made out of thick plastic, you slide the belt from the side and the belt buckle is too thick to fall through the slot.  The hanger can pivot side to side if one side is heavier than the other so you have to distribute the belts evenly.  When I remove the belt I want to wear I make sure that I leave the empty slot closer to the center by moving another belt if the one I want was on the end.

The belt hanger holds 14 belts. 

Before this hanger I used a round ring belt hanger, and it took a little more re-arranging to get each belt out of the opening.


You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★☆

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Product review: Vander Portable Jewelry Organizer Mini Jewelry Box

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This is a compact jewelry box with quite a bit of room.  It has two compartments and can store earrings, rings, necklaces. I mostly use it for earrings.  They are well displayed and held in securely.  I can take a nice selection of earrings with me when I travel. The box closes with a zipper closure.

It looks nice and my earrings are more organized.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Product review: Comfee 1.7 Liter Premium 304 Food Grade Stainless Steel Cordless Electric Kettle

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This is a nice electric kettle. This kettle hold 57 oz.  The only downside of the kettle that is not aimed at American market and the measurements are in liters. It shows no ounces or cups.  I use my mug to fill the kettle so I would boil just enough water.

Some electric kettles have multiple temperature settings, this one has just one - boil.  This makes the kettle very easy to use, just press the button and in a few minutes it is boiling. Half a kettle took 4 minutes to boil.   The kettle is pretty loud as you can hear in the video.

The kettle is made out of stainless steel and heavy duty plastic.  The parts that are plastic are the window that shows the water, the cover, the handle, and the hot plate.

I have been using this kettle on daily basis no problems so far.  If I could change one thing I would have liked it to have a longer cord, the cord is 30 inches. I have to use the kettle with a power strip.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.

Ali Julia review ★★★★☆

Friday, July 14, 2017

Product review: Sable 32 oz Food Containers x 20 Pack




Sable containers are large separated into three compartments. They can be used for reheating food in the microwave or storing in the refrigerator. 

The containers are best for dry foods as the container is not water tight.  To see if the containers are water tight I poured some water into them closed and then shook.  I saw that the container dribbled a little bit.  If you take them somewhere where the container will not be horizontal use a plastic bag just in case it dribbles.

The containers are 7.5" wide and 10" long. In attached photos  I show a container with a measuring tape on top so you can see how the space is divided with the container. The large compartment is 4.5 inches wide.


Overall, pretty nice containers for dry foods.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.

Ali Julia review ★★★★☆

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Food review: Turkish Baklava







I was an early tester for Turkish baklava.  The seller was testing a unique approach to selling it, where the purchases finishes making it himself to improve freshness.  The baklava arrives baked but not infused with sugar syrup. I as asked to try two methods of completing the preparation and provide feedback on which one worked best.

The first method:
-  Warm up the 2/3 baklava tray for 8 - 10 minutes at 460F before pouring the hot sugar syrup on the it. Syrup preparation is included below.

The second method:
Pour the hot sugar syrup of the 1/3 tray baklava pieces left without warming.


For both methods I needed to wait 45 minutes for the syrup to fully absorb


Sugar syrup preparation:

250ml of water (250 ml = 8.5 fl oz or 0.25 liter)
400gr sugar  (400 gram = 14 Oz
1 table spoon of fresh Lemon Juice

Turkish baklava is different from Greek baklava because it  uses sugar syrup instead of honey.  The benefit of doing the syrup yourself is that you decide how sweet and how lemon the syrup should have.


Results:


Method 1: After 45 minute wait the baklava was still warm and moist. The negative was that the top layer of filo dough curled and did not look attractive.  It was not as crispy as a typical Greek baklava.


Method 2:  The baklava was moist and looked better than the baklava in method 1, but the tast was not as good as using method 1.   The filo was not crispy in this preparation either.


I took baklava tray with me to visit friends and the overall feedback was that the baklava was not bad, but not great.   They would have liked it to be more crisp and several said they liked the flavor of baklava with honey more.


Ali Julia review ★★★☆☆

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Product review: Garden Hose Splitter,ZETOLL metal body 2-way hose splitter with long handles


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This hose splitter has all metal connections which give me a tight seal and no leaks. The outer shell of the hose splitter is made of rubber. Each shut off valve has a relatively long handle and because it is covered with rubber it feel softer. I like these handles better than the short metal handles on the brass hose splitters I have used in the past. I find these longer handles give me a better leverage and because they are softer I can put more pressure with my bare hands.

The package includes 10 additional washers (and one is already in the hose splitter).


You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★★





Monday, July 10, 2017

Product review: Burt's Bees Natural Skin Care for Men Shave Cream

Burt's Bees is an excellent shave cream.  Yes, it is a bit expensive but it gives a very smooth shave, the skin feels very smooth after it. My husband said that he seems to get less irritation and ingrown hairs since he started using it.  It smells nice without smelling like a cologne or aftershave. 

The only flaw the product has is that the tube design makes it hard to get all of it when it is almost all gone.  Given the price that felt unfortunate, so when the tube became almost empty my husband cut the bottom end open with scissors and then used a tube squeezer to keep it closed so it would not dry out.  This gave him several extra days of shave cream.  This was after nothing would come out from the tube top!

This has become a regular item for us.  Good stuff!

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.

Ali Julia review ★★★★★


Sunday, July 9, 2017

Product review: Micro USB To USB Cable, 4 Feet / 1.2 Meters Premium Lighted Micro USB Charger With LED Connector






This is a flat micro-USB cable with a tip that lights up when it is plugged in.  The light is blue as long as the cable is plugged in.  It does not change color (some cables are one color when the device is charging and another color when the device has been fully charged).  I measured the functioning of the cable with a USB meter and it is performed at optimal level for my Android phone. I really like cables that light up, I can always find them even if I am trying to plug in the device in a pretty dark room.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Product review: W&S 2.3 Gallon Kitchen Drawstring Strong Trash Bags, Heavy Duty, Clear/White, 120 Counts/ 2 Rolls



The thing about unknown brands of trash bags is that their volume does not always match my expectation. A few times I got trash bags that were much smaller than expected.  This 2.3 gallon W&S trash bags turned out to be larger than I expected. In attached photo you can see the white W&S bag  with the white Glad bag on top of it for size comparison.  You can see that W&S bag is larger than the 4 gallon Glad bag.  It is actually bigger than the 4 gallon W&S bag which I also got (it is also white and blue draw string).

W&S bags are feel slightly thinner than Glad bags, they are good for soft light trash.  I am using them in the bathroom trash bin, they work very well there because all the bathroom trash is soft and small. In one of the photos I show my hand inside the bag, I think it gives a good idea of the bag thickness.  The white bag is semi transparent.

Each bag length is 20" and the width is 18" when folded in half (36" total). Note that my measurements are slightly different from the size in Amazon description. The bag has the same width at the top and at the bottom.  The bag has a draw string, which works well to close the bag when it is ready to be thrown out.
The roll has 120 bags in two rolls.



You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★☆


Friday, July 7, 2017

Product review: Powerextra Smart LCD Display Dual Channel Charger for Sony NP-FW50 Battery

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I am using NP-FW50 with Sony Nex-5N camera.  It is a power hungry camera and I always carry a lot of battries.  There are two things I like about Powerextra charger:

1) it can charge two batteries at the same time

2) it is not a wall charger like my SONY charger, but it use a USB cord.  My SONY charger takes up two slots on the power strip, where as Powerextra battery needs just one USB slot and my power strip has several built-in USB slots, so I gained four outlets as I normally used two SONY chargers side by side.

I appears to charge the batteries in the same amount of time as my OEM charger.  However its design fits into  my set up much better than the SONY charger.  Note: batteries are not included in the package, only the battery charger itself.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.

Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Product review: CSHope Audio Cable CSHope 3.5mm 2Pack Male to Male Nylon Braided Auxiliary Aux Stereo Cable


This pack includes two cables - 10 foot and 3.3 foot.  These are braided cables and have a nice look and feel. The cables fit firmly both into my Android phone and speakers.  The sound quality is good, on par with my favorite cables.

I like nylon braided jackets because they seem to tangle less and when they do they are easier to untangle because they are easy to tell part from the other cables.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Ptoduct review: W&S 4 Gallon Kitchen Drawstring Strong Trash Bags, 90 Counts/ 5 Rolls (black)




The thing about unknown brands of trash bags is that their volume does not always match my expectation. A few times I got trash bags that were much smaller than expected. The W&S trash bags are similar in size to the 4 gallon Glad bags. In attached photo you can see the black W&S W&S bag with the white Glad bag on top of it for size comparison. W&S is slightly larger.

W&S bags are feel slightly thinner than Glad bags, they are good for soft light trash. In one of the photos I show my hand inside the bag, I think it gives a good idea of the bag thickness. The black bag hides the content of the bag well.

Each bag length is 20 3/4" and the width is 17 3/4" when folded in half (35.5" total). Note that my measurements are slightly different from the size in Amazon description. The bag has the same width at the top and at the bottom. The bag has a draw string, which works well to close the bag when it is ready to be thrown out. The package includes 5 rolls for a total of 90 bags.

Ali Julia review

Slightly larger then 4 gallon Glad bag


You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Product review: ECOXGEAR - ECOROX Rugged and Waterproof Wireless Bluetooth Speaker

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I am very impressed with ECOROX Bluetooth Speaker. In my video I included two small snippets of music to illustrate my review of this speaker. I used several pieces of music to test this speaker, including Bach Toccata and Fugue in D minor which is a stress test for the bass. Some speakers crackle and can't handle the bass, but Grace Digital GDI-EGRX601 ECOXGEAR Speaker handles it extremely well.

In the video I start with the music playing through the built-in speakers of the tablet, then turn on blue tooth and then the sound switches to the speakers. You can see how much richer, fuller, and louder the sound is when the speakers are used. There is no cracking and sound distortion even in the most challenging parts of the Bach Toccata.

The speaker is 5.5"L x 3.5"W x 2.5"H. Its weight is 10.6 oz.

The bottom of the speaker has a screw type mounting hardware (purchased separately) Grace Digital GDI-EGSCM Suction Cup Mount. I used the Suction Cup Mount to mount this speaker in my shower and it holds it very well giving me fantastic acoustics in the shower. The speaker can also be mounted on a bike using Grace Digital GDI-EGCBM Handle Bar Mount purchased separately.

I am very impressed with this speaker, especially how it handled the bass! I hope the video gives you a good idea of what to expect.


You can find it on Amazon by following this link.

Ali Julia review ★★★★★