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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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.

Rorabacks “Premium” 45mm Rotary Cutter

Since rediscovering my “crafty” nature, I’ve found there’s a world of tools and accessories that passed me by in the many moons that I was away. One of them, that has become nigh indispensable, is my Rotary cutter. And anyone who’s come to rely on a tool knows, you can never have too many of them lying around for the if/when one fails. I’m please to say the Rorabacks cutter should do nicely for most folks.

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Made from injection-molded plastic, with a rubberized “no-slip” grip, the Rorabacks cutter fit nicely in my hand, and the ergonomics felt good. The blade release slide was placed well, and can be reached easily without having to constantly adjust one’s grip. It’s large enough to get a sure hole on, but no so large to cause had fatigue with long or large products. The standard 45mm blade is sharp and cuts almost everything I threw at it with just one pass. The blade also has a coating of titanium (though it lacked the usual tell-tale gold-ish tint that most titanium coated blades have) should help with edge retention and keep the cutter sharp. It also accepts the plethora of “notched” 45mm blades for replacements. The price is decent (I not the lowest) for the quality and Rorabacks has a “replacement or refund” offer of indeterminate length, so they should stand behind their products.

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There’s a few caveats here, though. The blade has a fair amount of “wobble”, which could lead to losing your line on precise cuts, and anyone who’s worked with rotary cutters knows, once it wanders off that line, running it back can lead to disaster. Next is the blade cover. While the blade safely and securely retracts back to avoid any accidents, I tend to put a thin coat of machine oil on my blade when it will stored for a prolonged period of time (Thanks to Hubby’s almost obsessive oiling of his tools, it rubbed off on me). Putting the cover on is a great way to keep the oil from staining things in my craft box. But putting the cover on and off means your fingers come in contact with the cutting edge of the blade to seat the cover properly, and that can lead to cuts. Lastly, and it’s a common grip of mine, is that the Rorabacks Rotary Cutter is more expensive that the industry-leading Fiskars. Like them or hate them, they set the bar here (and elsewhere) for quality and reputation. and while it’s only a dollar or so, I can’t understand why you would be charging more than the one everyone knows and loves to get your foot in the door? And everyone knows every Fiskars product is guaranteed for life, no problems or questions asked. I can’t see ever recommending Rorabacks over Fiskers for those reasons alone. It’s a good tool and functions well but for the reasons stated above I would rank this item about a 3 & 1/2 star, rounded up to 4 because you can’t give 1/2’s on Amazon.

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

SAPO: Organic Bamboo Charcoal Bar Soap #Review #SapoSoap

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Beauty facial washes and soaps are a plenty, but most that are suppose to help with problem skin, end up containing fragrances and ingredients that cause build-up versus clearing up! I have 3 brands of soaps that I have ever found that deliver simple ingredients that help not only at cleaning your skin, but also improving it. Sapo Soap is that third brand!

Sapo Soaps are hand-made using organic ingredients. This bar is so simple when it comes to the ingredients:

Activated Bamboo Charcoal, Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, Palm Oil, Sunflower Oil, Safflower Oil, Shea Butter, Sea Salt, Oatmeal Powder, and Grapefruit Essential Oil.

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The soap has a light lather but foams up enough to clean and safely clean the surface of your skin. The scent is just like sniffing a ruby red grapefruit with an earthy scent lingering in the background. Very welcoming and a perfect way to start and end my day when it comes to how it smells. Many charcoal and bamboo based products have a pungent scent that reminds me of clay and even mushrooms at times but this soap had none of that.

Retail Price Point: $10.99 and free shipping is available with Amazon Prime. The retailer also offers a 100% Guarantee when it comes to satisfaction with the product. I also noticed they offer a “VOLUME DISCOUNT” where you buy 2 and get $4.99 OFF ($8.49 each).

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Verdict:
I used the soap for 2 weeks and was very happy with how well it cleaned because many oil based soaps tend to leave a film or give your skin that feels like you never washed it. Sapo’s soap did none of that. My skin remained hydrated and even though the soap’s price point may seem higher than others, the bar did not shrink much after use. I allowed it to air dry and used it by the sink, as I find this method versus leaving it in the shower in a soap box, works better. The soap dries quickly and keeps it’s shape nicely, plus this bar is larger than my Ivory bar. Sapo Soaps is made in the USA and when it came to performance, it delivered the same results as my tree oil based soap bar, which costs close to the same price and is smaller in size/weight. My previous bar kept my skin nice and clean but I found it would dissolve and shrink quickly. Yes, it lasted me a month’s time but Sapo’s Soap at this size and dissolving rate will last me longer. That alone with the results makes it a must buy for me. I love the convenience of a bar lasting longer and who doesn’t love clear skin? You can use this on your back and chest, and especially when sunscreen tends to clog my pores but Sapo makes up for it!

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

 

Aria Starr Beauty: Super Retinol Advanced Anti-Aging Serum; 2.5% Retinol #Review #AriaStarrBeauty

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Read the fashion magazines to the beauty newsletters,, and everyone is always pushing a retinol product with a very huge price tag. Not all vitamin A products are created equal but that does not mean that retinol product is not going to cost an arm and a leg. One thing I learned, is that Vitamin A should not be as costly and it’s effectiveness will come from what the formulation yields. You then get into the source and potency of the product and that is where I come to see if the bottle has what it says it does. The skin does not lie! 🙂

Aria Starr Beauty is a young company, which originates in Corona, California and with only a few products currently on the market. They offer Argan oil, a Vitamin C serum and the Super Retinol serum they kindly sent me to try out. The company name’s is the same as the founder, and they provide their beauty aids currently only via the Amazon’s Marketplace and other sites. Getting noticed is hard in the beauty world, so I don’t always discount if a company has little social media traffic or even a limited selection. Everything starts somewhere and some start small but as long as you do it right, I prefer to know I can count on a brand for this product versus just having a large selection of beauty items that do not work…..we all have sort of been there at one time or another!

I’m always on a retinol product as it is, and currently the OTC brands are only allowed to distribute a maximum of 2.5% without a prescription. This also means you get a softer potency that is sometimes better because delicate areas like your eyes can’t tolerate higher doses. You would need a script for retinol, which contains Tretinoin and comes in both topical and even pill form (i.e. Accutane). I don’t feel I’m there yet when it comes to my skin’s needs both in appearance and let’s admit it, in cost. I stick to 2.5% retinol for now until the time the fine lines start fighting back harder.

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Aria Starr Super Retinol is labeled as a advanced anti-aging serum. You get a combination of main ingredients like Hyaluronic Acid, Vitamin E and Organic Aloe. I like that the product comes in a glass colored bottle to avoid oxidation caused by light, plus it’s a gorgeous cobalt blue in color. Aria Starr took one step further and opted for a pump action top versus the glass droppers you see with some products, so again protecting the potency of the retinol by limiting oxygen/air from diluting it’s contents. I also like pump tops because I think they are more sanitary. You don’t have to worry if you need to rest a dropper’s top on the counter and picking up whatever to not only affect your skin, but the contents of the product, and it’s future applications. I’m just not into spreading germs with my beauty routine!

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Ingredients (as listed on Amazon): Organic Herbal Infusion, Organic Aloe, Botanical Hyaluronic Acid, Witch Hazel, Pentylene Glycol, Phospholipids, Retinol, Polysorbate 20, Potassium Phosphate, Hydroxyethyl Cellulose, Carrageenan Gum, Organic Jojoba Oil, Triticum Vulgare, Vitamin E (Tocopheryl Acetate), Organic Green Tea, Wildcrafted Resina Propoli, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, Ethyl Hexyl Glycerin

Retail Price Point: $16.95 for a 2.0 fluid ounce bottle. The label has a printed on expiration date, which I like. It makes the consumer aware of manufacture date (11/17/2014) and expiration date (11/16/2016). Aria Starr’s products are manufactured in the USA and lot/batch numbers are also recorded on the label.  Covered by a 1-year Satisfaction Guarantee.

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Results:
As I stated I use retinol, so I am passed the “sensitive period” where peeling and/or redness may occur. Aria Starr’s serum is the same potency as the brand I was currently using, so I simply just jumped from one brand to another. I used the product for 3.5 weeks to see if the serum continued with my skin’s upkeep and if I saw any improvements or worse, any fine lines coming back. I used the product twice a day but in the A.M., I tend to go lighter with application and always follow-up with a SPF moisturizer. The serum does have retinol present, as my past achievements of ditching fine lines continued. I did not have any adverse reactions and this serum seems to leave a little more of a moisture barrier and this may be because of the additional beneficial properties added (i.e. vitamin oils and enriching oils).

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Verdict:
You can’t beat the price point for a product where 1 to 2 pumps is needed. I still have more than 1/2 left because I needed 1 pump at night and a 1/2 a pump in the day.  A little goes a long way with serums and especially retinol infused ones.  I did not see any diminished gains that I had previously achieved and the product does work well with my skin.  No break-outs, blemishes, or anything negative I could attribute to the serum.  The product also absorbs quickly and gave me zero issues when used under make-up.

 

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from Aria Starr Beauty.  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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