Reviews of lots of very cool products!

Get this great product here: Hugg-A-Planet ISS Bundle, Pocket Earth, Moon, and Mars

My 8 year old daughter has recently become fascinated with history and geography, and I am really enjoying fostering this interest as much as possible, with both her and my 5 year old son.  I came across this set of plush globes from Hugg-a-Planet and was really intrigued, thinking this might be a fun way to keep maps handy and help her learn while also having fun.

 

Now that I’ve had a chance to use these with my kids for a few weeks, I’m really pleased with the quality and detail of all three.  The Earth ball is colorful and has all the detail I would expect from a standard globe.  We do have a globe, but it is bulky and a bit awkward to deal with, so this is so much easier to take a look at.  If my daughter is reading or doing her homework, she will sometimes come across the name of a place she’s not familiar with and will want to see where that is on the map.  Getting the globe out for these kinds of quick inquiries is inconvenient – it is so much more simple to just grab the Hugg-a-Planet Earth ball and find the place of interest.

What makes this set even cooler is the fact that it includes plush balls of the Moon and Mars.  I really like that the sizes of all three balls are proportionally correct, so that my kids can see how much larger the Earth is than the other two.  I’ve never really learned much about outer space geography, so I’m as fascinated as the kids to see so many spots labeled on the Moon and Mars balls.  I think it’s going to be really cool to keep learning details from these over the years as we use and play with them.  The Moon has lots of cool historical facts on its surface, including the spots of landing of various US and Soviet space missions, as well as labeling geographic features and simple things like the “Dark” and “Light” sides of the Moon.  Even just simple things like the red color of the Mars ball have already been educational.  My 5 year old asked why the Mars ball is red, so I was able to use that as a nice teaching moment.  While Mars is mostly red, there is actually a color key that shows how different types of topography are color-coded, which is very cool

The Earth ball has a pocket that opens up and closes with velcro that is designed to store the smaller Moon ball.  It takes a bit of practice get the Moon neatly back into the pocket.  I recommend squishing the Moon and folding it in half, then kind of in half again, and then stuffing it into the pocket.  Once it’s pretty much all the way in, then make sure the velcro strips are totally clear and start fastening them together from one end, smoothing all the way down until it’s fully fastened.  Once it’s closed, it blends in remarkably well with the other vertical seams on the ball so that I can’t even visually tell that there is a pocket there!

I’m very glad that I was able to receive this as a free promotional sample in order to evaluate and provide my honest review.

Get this great product here: Acediscoball Girls’ Sequin and Tulle Dress

I saw this girl’s fancy party dress and thought it might be perfect for my daughter for our upcoming cruise vacation, since there are formal evenings on the ship. I was impressed at how many color options there are to choose from. My daughter looked through them with me and picked out the purple to order. I think she made a good choice here – it’s a lovely dark purple that really complements her olive skin and dark hair. She is 8, but small for her age, so based on the measurement chart on the Amazon listing, I got the one listed as “Size 7 US – suitable for 6-7 year olds”. This fits her very well – comfortable without being overly loose.


My daughter is absolutely thrilled with her new dress! It really will be perfect for our formal nights. I’m impressed with the construction here – there is a nice quality zipper in the back that makes it easy to get the dress on and off. The sequins on the top and front bowtie are securely sewn onto the fabric and I like the way that the sequins are a darker purple than the rest of the dress – this really accentuates the sparkle even more. The tulle underskirt gives the dress a nice amount of volume and makes it look extra fun when my daughter dances around. The wide ribbon sash is easy to tie into a bow in the back, which also gives some chance to control how tight the waist is for each wearer.

Most importantly is that my daughter loves the way this dress looks and feels and is really looking forward to wearing it for our special vacation!

I’m very glad that I was able to receive this as a free promotional sample in order to evaluate and provide my honest review.

Get this great product here: NatraCure Deep Hydrating Mitts

I’ve been dealing for a long time with discomfort in my hands and arms, and am always looking for new products to try to help relieve this pain, so when I saw these heating mitts from NatraCure, I was really intrigued and excited to give them a try.  The two large minutes have that multiple layers of different materials to make them work.  Inside the thick outer fabric layer, the whole mitt is lined with a gel type material, which helps to spread the heat around evenly.  Then past this gel is another material which is what heats up the most when I warm these up in the microwave.  

 

I warm them for 30 seconds at a time, and take them out after each period in the microwave and squeeze the gel layer around so that it picks up the heat and I get the whole mitts equally warm.  I find with my microwave that I prefer to heat for a total of 120 seconds to get them to the heat level that feels good for my hands, although I know this is more than the recommended max time in the instructions.  The mitts have a Velcro closure at the wrist which makes them easy to secure on and they stay nicely warm for about 20 min.  After I take my hands out, they feel relaxed and the skin feels soft thanks to the oils in the gel lining of the gloves.  In fact I usually rub the skin on my hands a bit to fully get those oils into the skin.

I was concerned that the oils in the gel might have an overly strong scent (since I am sensitive to a lot of perfume type scents), but that is not the case at all.  I can’t quite put my finger on the scent, but it is mild, very pleasant, and does not at all aggravate my allergies.

I noticed that one of the other reviews is complaining that they can’t be worn all night, because they get cold.  This confuses me a bit – I’ve never seen any sort of non-electric product that would stay warm overnight and never would have expected that.  It’s very clear to me that this is intended to warm up in the microwave for relatively short treatments.

I do wish that there was a separate thumb area in the mitt since the base of my thumbs is one of my problem areas. I usually try to fold the gel material so that it rests in between my thumb and first finger, but it would be easier if there was a distinct area for the thumb to be surrounded by gel and fabric.

Overall I’m pleased with the product and expect to get a lot of use out of this NatraCure glove set.

I’m very glad that I was able to order this as a free promotional sample in order to evaluate and provide my honest review.

My AdoramaPix Hex Print!

You can find all the fun gift ideas HERE:
http://www.adoramapix.com/app/home/

My readers get to save! 25% off Hexagon #Metal Prints! Use promo code: PXHEXMTL25 expires 06/ 15 /2016

When I first saw these metal photo prints from AdoramaPix, I was so intrigued by the concept.  I have to say I’d never really considered printing photos on metal, but now that I have my print, I think it is such a natural and great idea.  The process of designing and ordering my hex print (9.5″ x 11″ is the size I have) was really simple on the AdoramaPix website.  I was able to upload my photo and simply zoom and crop it as I wanted right with their interface.  I could also apply some very simple filters like choosing to make the photo black and white, but I had already done my normal color optimization previously and was happy with how the picture looked.  I did take a few minutes to fool around with zooming it to different degrees to get the crop just right, since there wasn’t a lot of extra space above my kids’ heads and I wanted to try to cut off as little of their faces as possible.

I knew I wanted to hang my print on the wall in our hallway, so I decided to go with the floating mount.  Honestly I was a bit confused by the photos on the AdoramaPix website as to exactly how this mount would look and work.  Somehow their images made it difficult for me to tell how large it was and how a picture hook would be able to attach to the back of the print.  Still I liked the photos of ones that were on the wall with the floating mount, so I decided to take a chance and am glad that I did.  The mount is basically like a small wooden frame on the back of the middle of the prince. The inside edges have slanted ridges which gives a spot for the mount to grip onto a hook or the head of a large nail.  I used a large picture hook (I found that my smaller picture hooks weren’t quite wide enough to fit around the mount portion).  The picture hook is working fine, although it does cause the print is slightly be tilted away from the wall, so next time I might use a large headed nail instead.

Enough about the mount, let’s talk about the metal print itself.  I absolutely love this print!  the metal sheet is fairly thin and lighter than I expected, so it really doesn’t need a huge hook or nail to support the weight.  The colors and photo details are vibrant and exactly as I would expect for any other type of professional photo print. I’m so pleased with the hex shape – it’s something a little different and breaks up the monotony of all of the rectangular picture frames on the other side of my upstairs hallway. I may have to consider getting a few more hexes to make a cool a honeycomb style photo collage.
I’m very glad that I was able to order this as a free promotional sample in order to evaluate and provide my honest review.

Adorama Pix

This looks like such a cool picture system and I’m really hoping to try it out for myself!  You can customize your own images to be printed on these metal panels, which can be wall mounted or used on tabletops.

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AdoramaPix helps people turn their digital photographs from abstract computer files into beautiful keepsakes designed to last a lifetime. Their contemporary metal prints capture memories in rich color and vibrant detail. Because your images are infused right into the metal, and not painted on the surface, their metal prints are extremely durable. Not only will your metal image be water and weather proof, but scratch resistant as well. You can even clean it with glass cleaner. Your memories deserve to live in true, archival luxury with AdoramaPix metal prints.

You can find all the fun gift ideas HERE:
http://www.adoramapix.com/app/home/

My readers get to save! 25% off Hexagon #Metal Prints! Use promo code: PXHEXMTL25 expires 06/ 15 /2016

Get this great product here: Ellington Home Quilted Mattress Pad & Protector

I was in need of a new mattress pad for our master bedroom bed, so I was happy to try out this Ellington Home extra soft mattress pad.  The pad comes in a nice zippered-closure plastic case and I like that there is a sample of the material on a hangtag so I can feel how nice the fabric is before even opening it up.  There is a waterproof layer with a bit of a plasticy feel that goes up against the mattress and the other side is a soft quilted fabric that gives a bit of extra cushion to the mattress.  Having the waterproof layer as part of the pad is a big plus to me, because it means that my expensive mattress is protected from staining from sweat or even if one of our cats chooses to throw up while on our bed (not ideal, but any cat owner knows it’s a possibility!). I really like that this mattress pad is hypoallergenic, forming a barrier across which dust mites and other allergens cannot pass. My husband and I both have fairly severe seasonal and dust allergies, so I’m always looking for good ways to cut down on our allergen exposure and this is a really nice way to limit this exposure while we sleep.

I was quite pleased with how easy the pad is to get on our fairly deep queen sized mattress.  The elastic portion that stretches over the side of the mattress has plenty of stretch and material – it would have easily even fit on a deeper mattress!  With the soft padded portion on top, I cannot feel anything from the plasticy layer when I’m lying on my bed at night (some mattress protectors I’ve found that the waterproof portion can have an uncomfortable texture) – I just feel my comfortable foam mattress, which is exactly what I want.  The stitching and fabric seem to be good quality and quite durable and I’m looking forward to using this for a long time to come.

 

I’m very glad that I was able to order this as a free promotional sample in order to evaluate and provide my honest review.

Pebblebee Stone Smart Button

Get this great product here: Pebblebee Stone Smart Button

I always enjoy trying new gadgets and gizmos with my smartphone, so I was really excited to try out this Pebblebee smart button.   For such a tiny device, it really has a huge range of potential functions.   Along with the free Pebblebee app  on my Android phone, I can pair the button via Bluetooth and then set up actions for it to control.   I should mention that it seems to lose the Bluetooth connection a bit easier than I would expect, although sometimes I’m not sure when it shows that the device is out of range in the app if this is truly correct, because when I then press the pebble button, it immediately displays as paired and carries out the expected action.

The button has the ability to be programmed for two actions at once, one for a short press, and one for a longer hold. I do wish there was a bit more distinction as to how long is required for a hold. It seems like if I hold it down for a couple seconds, it still carries out a short press action. I need to hold it down for several seconds in order to make sure it does the hold action.  The Pebblebee app gives 5 action choices: send text, make call, take picture, sound alarm, and IFTTT.   

Send text can be used to send a standard pre written message to predefined contacts. This could be useful if you’d Quickly send a message saying that you’re busy or driving to acknowledge that you will get in touch with me as soon as you can.

Make call immediately has your phone call a pre selected contact. This is a nice single click to call a frequently used contact.   

Take picture not only acts as a remote shutter button, it actually launches the camera app. This is convenient, although given that there is a short delay between pressing the button and carrying out the action, it doesn’t necessarily work to capture an immediate image of something that is fleeting.

Sound alarm can be used to help find a way work phone. Activating this action makes my phone put out a very loud alarm, even if the phone was on mute. This could definitely be useful, although be aware that it is VERY loud.

The most versatile and interesting action is IFTTT.   I hadn’t previously been familiar with IFTTT, which stands for “If This Then That”.  Basically it allows for very simple programming of “recipes”, Which as the acronym suggests, prescribed that when one action is taken, another will follow.. That first action can be pressing the Pebblebee button.   I currently have a recipe that another user posted on the IFTTT website set for my hold action, and it automatically mutes my phone.  I like being able to fully mute my phone with a single button press.  I’m having fun exploring IFTTT and trying to write some of my own recipes as well.

Overall I’d say this is a sturdy and well designed device, although the delay between the button press and the action can cause issues in some cases, and the Bluetooth pairing indication seems like it’s a bit off in the Pebblebee app.  For just under $30, this is a good value.
I’m very glad that I was able to order this as a free promotional sample in order to evaluate and provide my honest review.