Proxy Lighting 48 FT Weatherproof Outdoor String Lights

In Southern California, we spend an inordinate amount of time outdoors. One of the things that can turn a normal night into a magical one is the right outdoor lighting. Proxy lighting gets it, and made a super-cool set of string lights that look amazing.

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The thick, heavy-duty 14-gauge cord has 15 drop light sockets sporting an 11-watt bulb in each, enough to give that “just right” amount of light. Perfect for a patio, gazebo, or pergola, and made well enough to give you years and years of use. The medium base (E26) will hold and power a bulb up to 40 watts, but I feel that would be just too much light. At 48 feet long and only 15 lights, you have about 3 feet between sockets, so whil eit looks superb it’s markedly different than the previous set I owned, but not so much that it stands out too much. I would have preferred there being closer to 2-2 1/2 feet between bulbs, but these Proxy Lighting lights still get the job done. And the built-in hanging loops make putting them up a cinch.

One thing I need to mention is that wile these are outdoor rated, the plugs are polarized but not a three prong grounded plug, which my older set was, but I’m still a fan. I also love that these are UL listed, which means Underwriter’s Laboratory have tested these and certified them safe, which is a step so many fly-by-night companies tend to skip. I appreciate that Proxy Lighting went that extra mile.

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from Proxy Lighting. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion. I received no other compensation in exchange for my review. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

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Grizzly Gun Care Non-Toxic CLP

 

One of the most overlooked parts of gun ownership is maintenance. For your weapons to perform as they were designed one must take maintenance seriously. And one of the best ways to do that is a good CLP, which stands for “Clean, Lubricate and Protect”.

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Grizzly Gun Care gets this and has provided a better than average CLP that gets the job done, all without being as toxic as the industry leading CLPs! That’s right, a lot of the big names or CLPs you’ve heard are the best are seriously toxic, like, loaded with carcinogens. The best of the new generation of CLPs recognized this and reformulated to non-toxic mixes that still perform to Mil-Spec standards. Grizzly Gun care is no different. It cleans out the carbon fouling on my Husband’s M&P 15, and doesn’t stink to high heaven either. There’s an almost pleasant scent actually, and it leaves a thin film of protectant that inhibits corrosion well. It is thicker at room temperature than the old Hoppe’s No. 9 he used before, which means it won’t run and dribble everywhere you don’t want it and nowhere you don’t. It didn’t clean as well as the aerosol product Hubby used previously, but got everything respectably clean, just not the “factory new” clean Hubby tends to prefer for almost, well, everything. It seems to work best on fresh fouling, not older build-up.

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If we’re splitting hairs, it’s more expensive than the aerosol stuff Hubby used previously, and you got 6 ounces of that versus 4 ounces of Grizzy’s CLP. But he always finished off with a grease as well, and when you combine the price of the two, if you want a one-and-done solution, Grizzy is on par price and performance wise. So if you want an all-in-one solution that isn’t toxic, doesn’t stink so bad you need to crack open all the windows, and stores well for a fair price, Grizzly Gun Care’s CLP is the product for you.

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from Grizzly Gun Care. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion. I received no other compensation in exchange for my review. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

Oak Leaf’s Double Edge Safety Razor

Hubby has been shaving for almost 30 years now, being as he was an early bloomer and started before high school. He’s been through the entire gamut of shaving devices, from manual to electric, and found out what works well for him and what doesn’t. And while he’s been curious to try an single-blade safety razor for while, this one for him kind of missed the mark.

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The shave a was decent enough once he got the hang of the angle of the safety razor. And it seems the refills will be dirt cheap, which for us is another major, major plus. What he didn’t care for was what felt to him like a miniature handle that he found difficult to hold properly, or at least how he’s held his razors for years and years. The handle is so short that he can only hold it with 2 fingers and his thumb. He found the control with that reduced grip lacking and felt the handle needed a couple of inches more for him to feel like he had the control of the blade he’s accustomed to. Another mark in the minus column was that the shave with the provided Dorco blades was not as close as he would like, leading to longer,  very coarse stubble by the evening (I liken his stubble to 40 grit sandpaper, so the shave lasting less than a day no bueno). Lastly, and this may be unique to the handle I was sent, the “butterfly” mechanism didn’t seem to want to “lock” or stay closed, working itself open or loose a couple of times mid-shave.

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On the plus side, the chome-coated handle and head seem to resist water-spotting and rust after a few uses, and again, replacement blades should be a pittance compared to whatever grossly over-priced 5, 6 or 7 blade monstrosity Gillette and Schick are pumping out nowadays. The shave is adequate for a daily shaver that didn’t cause Hubby and noticeable razor burn, and almost no ingrown hairs either, which with his extra-thick rhino-skin is no small feat. In the end I feel the $9.99 price point is a good introduction to safety razors, but you’ll be wanting something a little bigger or better if this is going to be your daily driver.

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from Oak Leaf. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion. I received no other compensation in exchange for my review. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

B&C Home Goods Foldable Fabric Cube Containers

This week we looked at a set of 6 fabric storage cubes from Safari Foldables. I liked them, a lot. They were solid, strong, and made to last. And I thought I’d hit the jackpot when B&C Home Goods approved me to try their versions. I’m sad to report that while they’re decent, they just don’t fly as high as the Safari Foldables versions. They’re still very decent, but they didn’t blow my skirt up the way the last set did, and I’ll explain why.

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On the surface, everything is practically the same. Same size, dimensions, similar construction, similar materials. But the little details are where the wheels come off the little red wagon.The sides aren’t as strong. The handles aren’t as strong. The bottom isn’t as strong. The fabric isn’t as thick. The sewing is not as neat. They almost feel, I don’t know…flimsy. If I hadn’t already tried the Safari Foldables, I’d think these were decent but I’d use them as supplements to something more solid-feeling, and not have fallen in love with them like I did with the Safari Foldables versions. Even the gray coloring is not as pleasing, more industrial looking. They do the job adeqhately, but they also lack the label window from the Safari Foldables versions. Taken together I think the B&C Home Goods 6 pack of foldable fabric storage cubes would warrant 3 & 1/2 stars, but since Amazon only likes whole stars, I’ll be generous and round it up to 4, but at $21.97 for the B&C Home Goods storage cubes, for my money I’ll spend the couple of extra dollars for the far superior Safari Foldable cubes instead.

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from B&C Home Goods. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion. I received no other compensation in exchange for my review. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

Amaze Creation’s Safari Foldables Foldable Fabric Storage Containers

 

There are a few axioms we live by around here, and one of them is that you can never have enough storage solutions. And there’s many choices out there for collapsible cloth storage “boxes”, but my new favorite is, hands down, Amaze Creations’ Safari Foldables 6-pack of fabric storage bins.

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I’ve had, tested and reviewed storage boxes like these before, and more than a few failed to pass muster. They were flimsy, small, poorly designed or made, looked or smelled funky. Safari Foldables is none of those things, and at $24.44 for a six pack, you will not find a cheaper, better made set of fabric foldable storage bins. There’s strong, sewn-on fabric handles, with a firm, strong bottom that doesn’t bow or crease even under a heavy load of 4 5lb bags of flour, 2 large bags of brown sugar, and a canister of baking powder. That’s no joke, but the Safari Foldables Fabric storage bin just took it all and laughed. And as if these weren’t too cool already, there’s a small pocket in front for a label, with a label included!! (Pro-tip: Don’t write on them, use a P-Touch so that you can reuse the label if/when the contents change) These storage bins are a generous 10.5 x 10.5 x 11 inches, so storing extra dry goods, seasonal clothes, small kitchen appliances…it’s entirely up to you, but rest assured these Safari Foldables storage bins are up to the task.

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Safari Foldables also offers a 100% money-back satisfaction guarantee, but I guarantee you, you’re going to love them. They’re a neutral beige, so they’ll go with any decor as well. They look stylish and keep my storage shelves neat and organized, because clutter and mess is just no bueno. You should pick up one or two, I know I need to get another set!

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from Amaze Creations & Safari Foldables. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion. I received no other compensation in exchange for my review. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

 

Haus & Garten Titanium Pruning Shears

 

There’s always gardening to be done in this household, and an essential part of that is good, sturdy, sharp garden shears. Haus & Garten understands this and sent me a pair of their titanium coated pruning shears to try out, and I’m a fan, with some qualifications.

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We’ve always used Fiskars tools in our yard, because in our experience their tools are the perfect intersection of cost, quality and reliability. So Haus & Garten has a high bar to meet to get a 5 star review for their shears. For build quality, they are on par with the better pruning shears we’ve used. The cast aluminum handles are strong, and have a rubberized non-slip coating to ease hand fatigue. The rubber grips didn’t slide around on the handles either, like some of the cheaper brands. The lock mechanism is a little rough, because the rubberized coating on the handles doesn’t allow it to actuate as smooth as it should, and it’s on the smaller side so locking the shears closed without looking will take practice. It also appears to vary from unit to unit, as some don’t have the longer runner coating that block the lock mechanism, while mine did. The blade has a titanium coating that should inhibit rust, corrosion and sticking. The pivot is strong and adjustable. The action is butter smooth and the cuts are clean and sharp every time.

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Where things fall apart is price and warranty. At $29.90 they’re more expensive than the Fiskars Pro Titanium pruners at my local home improvement warehouse, and you simple cannot beat Fiskars 100% lifetime no hassle, no questions asked warranty. I’m sure Haus & Garten will stand behind their products, but I like the ability to send a company a picture of a failed product and have them send out a replacement immediately, and Haus & Garten doesn’t say that’s their policy. In fact, I couldn’t find their warranty policy anywhere, short of the mention of their “Ironclad Quality Guarantee”. So if you see the value here, than Haus & Garten’s hand pruning shears are well made, ergonomic clippers that cost more than some, but less than others.

**Promo Alert!!**

SAVE 10% OFF when you purchase 1 or more Premium Titanium Pruning Shears offered by Haus & Garten. Enter Code HGNRZX7V at checkout.

 

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from Haus & Garten. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion. I received no other compensation in exchange for my review. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

 

William & Douglas “Pasta Pal” Ravioli Maker Molds

 

One thing we thoroughly enjoy around here is pasta and raviolis. We’ve grown accustomed to the frozen ones you can buy at the store, but sometimes you want to make your own, filled how you want them filled, and fresh. William & Douglas knows my pain, and offered me the Pasta Pal Ravioli maker to soothe my soul!

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Made from injection molded plastic that’s dishwasher safe (top rack!), you have a choice of 3 top dies/shapes and one back with plenty of space in the hollow for fillings. The 12-pocket tray will sit flush and flat on the counter while you make your raviolis, and won’t mar the countertops like some metal dies might. The food-grade plastic is also not very good at transferring heat, which means that the pasta won’t start heating up and sticking like metal might. Cleanup is a breeze, because you can just throw them in the sink (don’t actually throw them, though!) full of warm soapy water and with a quick brush and drip dry, they’re ready to go again!  There’s no rust to worry about like steel, or oxidization like with cast aluminum. With proper care, your Pasta Pal should last for years and years!

William & Douglas also offer a 100% money back guarantee if you’re not satisfied with your Pasta Pal, and it’s versatile enough that you can use it to make all manner of dumplings, perogi, wontons, and more. At $15.97, I think it’s priced a bit on the high side, but it’s made well and is “satisfaction guaranteed”, so take that into consideration. I would also like to see William & Douglas offer different sizes, because sometimes you want a larger ravioli or dumpling, but I like my Pasta Pal just fine.

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from William & Douglas. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

U.S. Art Supply’s 40″ Professional Quality Mat Cutter

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U.S. Art Supply has single-handedly re-awoken my crafty nature. From painting to framing, airbrushing and more, the only thing I needed to have done professionally was my matting. No more, because U.S. Art Supply has made a mat cutter that puts the one I saw being used at Joanne’s to shame.

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With solid, strong aluminum hinged guide rails and aluminum mat channels (with 2 production stops) mounted securely to a solid, heavy premium MDF backer, it’s build like a tank and designed for heavy-duty use for years and years and years. There’s also a fold-able 27″ 90 degree 27″ squaring arm to keep things even and straight, and you get both straight and beveled cutting heads that use a simple razor blade to cut, so keeping a fresh, sharp blade in there is a breeze and the cost is minimal. It’s so simple to use that I can’t imagine I ever having paid someone to do this for me. Quick, sharp, precise cuts every time, and perfectly square too. And I love that I can set the bevel I want and not just have flat edges. The unit comes mostly assembled, so the box is huge, and even though I saw that it’s a 40″ unit I was still in awe of the sheer size of the system. You’ll need an extremely long counter or table to operate it on, and thankfully it has non-marring feet on the bottom as well.

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Gone for me are the days of hoarding framing discount coupons for my art projects, because with U.S. Art Supply’s Professional-Quality 40″ Mat cutter, I’ll never need to rely on someone else to cut mats for me, or pay an exorbitant or ridiculous price for pre-cut mats. after a few projects, this mat cutter pays for itself, and with U.S. Art Supply you’re also getting top-notch customer service, soup to nuts. They only want 100% satisfied customers, and always go above and beyond to get you there. I recommend this product highly!

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from US Art Supply. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

Gonex Tactical Backpack 900D 45L Backpack

 

One thing we’ve learned is that you can never have enough storage or carrying solutions in this house. We’ve been using backpacks for various uses for years, more than we ever did in school! Trips to Disneyland, the County Fair, Knott’s Scary Farm, you name it. We took a backpack and were always thankful to have it. Even our trips back and forth from Arizona, we had a backpack for everyday gear. We were intrigued when Gonex offered us their Tactical Backpack to try out, and I’m very glad we did, because man, have backpacks come a looong way!

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One of the big problems we always had with our packs was ergonomics. It would cause so much strain and fatigue just carrying it the way it was designed to be carried. Gonex (and all the better “tactical” pack makers) recognized this and designed their packs to reduce strain and pressure on the low back and upper shoulders, Packs are designed now to evenly distribute weight and pad the areas most likely to be injured from a “flapping” backpack with a breathable mesh padding. You know what I mean, when all the heaviest stuff has migrated to the bottom, and walking will cause the pack to “flap” against the small of your back. That can be damaging enough to cause permanent disc damage and chronic pain! But since this Gonex pack secures around the waist and at the chest, the pack stays securely put. In fact, the entire back is semi-rigid due to the density of the padding at the back, so even delicate electronics like a laptop are going to be safe in there. There’s storage solutions galore both in and out of the pack. Some of the interior pockets might not be the greatest, but there’s enough of them in there that the good outnumber the bad easily. Water beads up on the exterior, and the interior is lined as well. The 900d oxford construction is tear resistant, and is MOLLE compatible. You can configure this pack for just about any task, and it stores small when not in use. The braided nylon straps are strong and 95% hold and lock tight. A couple would slip a bit, but overall since this isn’t a “duty pack” for me, I’m not complaining. Some of the plastic clips feel a little on the flimsy side, which stand out because the rest of the pack is so sturdy, strong and well-built. The zippers all have pull straps as well, and a single carry strap on top should you want to carry it free handed.

There’s just so many possibilities with this Gonex Tactical Backpack. Camping, hiking, a range bag, a bug-out bag for the prepper in your life. I computer bag, a book bag. Hubby has loaded a package of water bottles for exercise and it took that abuse, laughed at him and asked for more. This is a rock solid, excellently built pack. The stitching held up to Hubby’s abuse, where other, lesser packs have completely failed in the past. And Gonex knows they’ve made a quality pack, because they stand behind it 100% with their “full love it or return it guarantee”. Don’t worry, Gonex, I love it. Sometimes, even when you expect something will be good, you’re still blown away by how good it actually is. This is one of those times where “5 stars” is till too low a rating. I defy you to find a better made pack at this price point. Because I don’t think you can.

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from GoNex. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

Classic Safari’s 6-Piece Outdoor Kit

We like being out of doors, and we like exploring, so when the opportunity arose to try out some “outdoorsy” type stuff, I was very happy to give some of them a go. And while we’re not experienced, or even regular, outdoors folks, we found Classic Safari’s 6-Piece Outdoor Kit perfectly adequate for the occasional adventurer!

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When one is out on their own, one usually has to make due with whatever you happen to pack in your pockets or backpack. Rarely do we think about what could happen should venture too far astray or make a left at that fork instead of a right. With most of the gear packed into this kit, you could make due for a bit of time while you find your way back to where you meant to go. You get:

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-A small set of binoculars with a 8×21 magnification that fold up very compactly for easy carry, and are pretty clear. They have a rubberized no-slip grip, lanyard and rubberized eye relief as well, and they even thought to include a small cleaning cloth!

-Next you have a plastic liquid-filled lensatic compass. It held north pretty well, as evidenced by Hubby’s Casio Pro-Trek watch that was significantly more expensive than this set.

-You get a multi-tool also, with 11 tools (straight blade, file, awl, sawblade, can opener, scissors, flat and phillips screwdrivers, corkscrew and one that for the life of me I could not get to open!), with common tools one might need on a day-to-day basis.

-There’s also a 9-bulb LED flashlight that runs on 3 AAA  batteries and has a rubberized tailcap on/off switch. Sadly the batteries are not included, and the light from this flashlight is pretty anemic, even in total darkness, but it beats being stuck n pitch-black, right?

-Lastly there’s a magnesium flint firestarter that, while appreciated, gave us a heck of a time generating a spark. I wouldn’t want to depend on this in an emergency, but it’s better than nothing.

All in all, the kit is pretty basic and would be a superb gift for a Boy Scout, young child or tween, or even the occasional nature walker that might not think to grab more than a water bottle before leaving. And they are better than being stuck out there with nothing, and in a pinch might even save your life. The canvas pack and webbed-nylon belt hold everything well, except the side pouches that things can slip out if one were to move around jarringly. I think the pricing is fair for the quality you get, and while none of these tools are close to professional grade, they do let you know which ones you’d use and certainly want to upgrade. And I can’t say enough about Skivu, the company that sells this kit. My first kit came missing the 11-tool “Swiss Army” type knife, and they expedited a whole new kit to me. That’s a company that stands behind their products. There’s a lot to like in this kit and think if you give them a try you’ll find a lot you like too!

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from SKIVU. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

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