William & Douglas 4-Piece Ravioli Maker Set

Few things are as yummy as fresh, home-made ravioli. And while with much practice one can develop the skills to make them at home without specialized tools, many of us, myself included, just don’t have the time to develop that particular skillset. So along comes William & Douglas and their nifty 4-Piece Ravioli Maker Set, looking all cool and begging for me to use them!

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All the tools sport solid hardwood handles and zinc-alloy metal cutting edges. They’re not sharp so they should be safe for the entire family to use! I would have preferred stainless steel, but in the long run unless I use them way too vigorously than I should they should last a good long time. I would advise against dishwashers, because the zinc-alloy can start to oxidize, and the hardwoods can split if that’s where you decide to wash them, but it’s not advisable by me or the company. I love the little rolling pin tool, because a full sized-rolling pin can sometimes be more trouble than it’s worth, and can be overkill for a small batch of ravioli and make a disaster on the counter.

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These tools are easy to use and are ergonomic enough that making large batches won’t cramp your hands or be to taxing on the arms. And William & Douglas offer a 100% money-back guarantee if you’re unsatisfied with your purchase. I liked them well enough and would recommend them for both the experienced user or novice home chef.

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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. 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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LK Baby’s “Heavy Duty Collapsible Trunk Organizer

If you’re like me you need to make more than a few stops to get groceries. Like, sometime 5 or 6 stops. All in different cities. And the one thing that gets Hubby’s goat more than anything are the “nickle-and-dime tactics” of markets that want you to pay for a bag. So thankfully, LK Baby offered us another car trunk organizer that has made our shopping trips a lot less frustrating.

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See, we both get when a city has decided to ban plastic grocery bags. The reasoning is specious at best and the results are marginal, but hey, it’s pure profit for everyone involved (except the consumer). And charging for paper bags? When they’re made from the cardboard boxes they get their products delivered in? Give me a break! So I’m sure I’m not the only person who had things rolling around in the trunk or back seat because you’ve gotten tired of everyone having their hand in your pocket. And Starling’s is a lifesaver, because their organizer is big, spacious, sturdy and oh-so-helpful getting stuff from the truck to the house. It’s well-built and strong enough that we stuffed all our Costco purchases in it, and could easily carry everything in with no fear of dropping anything or the organizer being strained. It’s covered in water resistant nylon fabric, which means cold things sweating, or light spills, are not a problem. The bottom is unfortunately not rubberized, unlike the Starling’s version I previously tested, and the carry handles on the sides are strong and sturdy. You can customize the divider inside, or only open up half to minimize the space it takes up. I’m in love. And the dividers have done a fantastic job of keeping cold, warm, and non-food items all away from one another. There’s room in the pockets for more stuff, on all sides, and should one feel the need, you could store everything you’d need for any roadside emergency in Starling’s organizer, with room to spare. and when you’re done with it, it folds right back up, nice and flat and takes up practically no space at all.

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We’ve bought cheap-o organizers for the car and truck before. They always fell apart, broke down, or weren’t made to last and got tossed. But for only $19.99, you get a rock-solid trunk organizer that holds way more than you’d think, and does more than you can imagine.

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from LK Baby. 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.

Smarson WIFI HD Digital Action Sports Camera

You know a product is a hit when there are countless imitators and knock-offs of your innovation. Sometimes, it’s a product slapped together to cash in on a craze and it’s junk. Sometimes, it’s about making a quality product that comes in at a fraction of the price to open the market to buyers who’d never have thought about, say, an HD action camera before. Smarson isn’t the former, it’s definitely the latter.

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We got a cheap-o HD action cam this summer to play around in the pool with the dog and record the memories. Sadly, though “Bresser” claimed full HD, the picture quality was poor, with washed out color and grainy video. And that was where Smarson’s camera shined. The picture was crystal-clear in outdoor light and there was no judder with quick “action” scenes (As much action as a 12 year-old dog can muster!). And there was a host of accessories included to make mounting your camera on nearly any surface possible. At 12 mp, and full 1080p (1920 x 1080) recording (30fps), you get all the clarity of high definition recording, or you can downgrade your image to 720p and go up to 60fps for great slo-mo. you get mutiple shooting modes, (treble shot function, time lapse, continuous shooting, self-timer, and driving mode), a 170 degree wide angle lens, and a similar user interface to the industry leader, the GoPro series of cameras. And, at this price point, you also get WiFi capabilities via Smarson’s iSmartDV App (for iOS and Android 4.4 and up), which is a real bonus to me, even if the range for the wifi is pretty limited (around 10-15 feet, line of sight). It’s small but rugged, and the build seems solid, unlike the other bargain brand action cam I tried that felt flimsy and the battery cover would constantly fall off. The included lucite case is dust and dirt proof and water-resistant up to 30 meters. My pool is only 9 feet deep, so I can safely say from experience it’s solid up to 9 feet! The included 3.7v 900mAh battery is rated for as much as 90 minutes of continuous recording, Thought I’ve gotten up to three hours of off-and-on recording in one afternoon with juice left after. But never worry, the camera will run off the included micro-USB cable and wall adapter, so you’re never without juice. I also had good success with up to a 32gb micro-SD card, and on that card you could record and store a few hours of full HD videos.

And while there is plenty of bang for your buck here, a couple of things are not particularly great. At the $50 price point, you get a lot of value, and a cheap 4gb micro SD card should really be included like most action cams do at this price point, so you can go right out of the box. And while almost every GoPro accessory should work perfect with this awesome Smarson HD Action Cam, the battery is non-standard and getting a replacement or spare might prove troublesome. Also, the 1.5″ TFT LCD at the rear is soooo tiny, with the screen to bezel ratio being almost 50-50. But, again, the value here is undeniable and the quality for the price is top-notch. I feel the positives far outweigh the negatives enough that this Smarson camera earns a full 5 stars from me.

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from Samrson. 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.

MYS Salt and Pepper Grinder Set

It might seem superfluous to have more than one set of grinders on your counter, but in this house, even two sets falls a little short. Because for us, we have 3 different salts and 4 different peppers to grind depending on the meal, so it can get a little crowded on the counter at times. What that also means is I get to compare and contrast MYS’s Grinder set versus, say, the previous set from Q’s Inn. They look alike, but do they perform alike?

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Sadly, no. Not that the MYS set performs badly, it’s just not as butter-smooth as the Q’s Inn set. There’s some binding in the grinding action, as well as a squeal or two. Occasionally they stick a bit. Other than that they function identically. What was absolutely superb was the collapsible silicone pouring spout for refilling. That’s a bonus that has unexpectedly made filling my grinders a joy instead of a chore. The julienne peeler is neat, but I have a few of those, and none of the are as dangerous. This one as sharp blades that are right out there for my soft, pink digits to get sliced and diced on, so have a safe place to store it. The included cleaning brush is also an inspired inclusion that is one of those “Well, duh!” tools that I should have had much sooner. But the meat and potatoes of this set are the grinders, and they’re decent, not great.

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The stainless steel is also slightly thinner, and not as “polished” so I would be wary of putting in salts that have high moisture content. The ceramic burrs are adjustable and should last a while. The glass bases are easy to clean, grip and use. And the included goodies are mostly awesome, but the action on the grinders, which means the most important part of the set, is lacking and problematic on my set, so I have to knock a couple of stars off for that, but I’ll add one back because the silicone funnel for filling? Inspired. And MYS states on the Amazon listing: “100% MONEY BACK GUARANTEE; we aim to keep you perfectly happy with our products and want to know if there are any concerns or questions; please contact us as we will make it right!” So it’s up to you, but for my money, Q’s Inn gets my business instead.

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from MYS Homeware. 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.

 

AqtivAqua POLARIZED “Poseidon” Swim Goggles

Hubby’s been through more than a few swim goggles from various suppliers, and rarely have a pair been good for more than a couple of uses before they start to leak, or the anti-fog lenses fog, or some plastic piece breaks. These are the first, however, to claim to be polarized.

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Polarized lenses not only reduce glare, they increase contrast and reduce eye strain. Unlike a traditionally tinted lens, they don’t just darken the field of view with various tints or shading in the lens, but block the horizontally polarized beams of sunlight. Generally this makes anything with polarized lenses more expensive than non, but the benefits for some greatly outweigh the costs.  So putting a polarized lens on a set of swim goggles seems like a no-brainer, since there’s rarely more sunlight bouncing around than when you’re in the pool in the summer, right? So far, these AqtivAqua® POLARIZED “Poseidon” Swim Goggles are the sharpest, clearest goggles I’ve ever used. Whether the lenses are truly polarized or just tinted perfectly, I can’t tell. But the sharpness and clarity both in and out of the water was stunning. They fit well around even Hubby’s giant pumpkin head, and there’s no leaks or fogging. They’ve only been used twice in chlorinated water, but both times on both of us they were comfortable, there was no pinching or binding, and they were easily adjusted on the fly to fit either of us. They are a touch on the bulky side and there’s not as much peripheral vision as we’re used to with our swim goggles. But other than that, we have no complaints. The zippered, molded storage case is a nice touch too, a real “value added” bonus. 

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I will revisit this review after a few more uses, because testing and reviewing swim goggles has shown me that the first few uses are always perfect, and with exposure to chlorinated water over a season, the cheaper, poorly made ones tend to start fogging and leaking after about 5 or 6 uses. But as of now, these are Hubby’s go-to for lap swimming. Whether they stay that way, only time will tell, but AqtivAqua states on the Amazon listing: ” If for any reason you are not completely satisfied with your AqtivAqua® Swimming Goggles, contact us and we will provide a no-hassle full refund”. Alrighty, then. I say give them a try!

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from ActivAqua. 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.

Bstean Industrial Syringe applicators w/ Blunted Tips and Caps

How many times have we tried to apply glue, lubricant, water, or alcohol to a very specific place only to have it spill over, dribble, or miss and nearly ruin what we were trying to protect, clean or preserve? It’s happened to me countless times, but it won’t be happening again in the near future thanks to these wonderful Bstean Syringe applicators.

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Content in the past with being inaccurate or buying those cheap, disposable bulb applicators, or even a cotton swab or Q-Tip, these syringe applicators are a crafter’s DREAM! I never again have to worry about slopping glue or oil or even droplets of paint, I can now apply them all with laser accuracy! With blunted tips to keep from accidentally jabbing yourself, you still get pin-point application or whatever viscous liquid you want to apply. Hubby even swiped a few because let’s face it, gun and knife lubes are not cheap, and you don’t want to be slopping oils on parts that absolutely don’t need it or could damage the tool. Need to apply a light grease to a hinge? Problem solved. Need a few drops of that expensive, fancy Benchmade lubricant? Got you covered. Want a single drop of glue for a delicate crafting project? Yup, Bstean’s syringes are up to the task. Single droplets of paint on a project? Done and done!

BStean actually took some of the criticisms to heart and have included rubber caps or stoppers for filling your syringe applicator from the back with particularly viscous fluids. Still lacking, though, is the notice on the Amazon order page that all the syringes come printed with “Single Use” on them. Hubby disregarded that, and stuck his for his knives and guns in a zip top baggie and squirreled them away with his other tools for his “stuff”. No problems to report from re-use, though. The ones used for glue are almost always single use anyways, because the glues will harden in the tubes. But at only $9.89 shipped for a pack or 10, you get four different sizes, too: 1ml x 3, 3ml x 3, 5ml x 2, 10ml x 2  with needle gauges ranging from 1.5” 14Gx2, 1” 18Gx2, 1/2” 16Gx3, 20Gx3, and color coded for your convenience. Really sturdy, industrial grade, really well-made with metal needle syringe applicators, I plan on buying more in the future as my old ones get used up. Great product all around with a multitude of uses, and a fantastic price.

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

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.

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.

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.

 

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