Holiday Cheer in the Smallest of Spaces!

August 29th, 2014

Holiday Cheer in the Smallest of Spaces! We’ve never had a real Christmas tree. I’m short on space and live in an apartment. My daughter begged me for one this year and I really wanted to grant this small request. Then I looked around and realized short of getting rid of my couch, I had nowhere to sneak a tree. I then found this. We actually just put it up this morning and it’s pretty easy and surprisingly nice looking. I’ve had some guests on and off since today is T’giving and it’s a hit. It’s quirky and a little weird, but extremely fun and even practical if you want a tree without the bulk. Additionally, there are extra ornaments to add to the base tree (the base tree is “decorated” with garland, candy candy canes and ball ornaments) so my daughter got to decorate a tree as well.This is an awesome and fun tree that I highly recommend!Edit: After Christmas, taking it down wasn’t too bad but you have to be very careful because the faux ornaments can tear easily at the tip if you aren’t careful(avoidable if you don’t stick them on the seams of the main tree). My daughter wasn’t able to help taking down as much as putting up, but that’s okay. We placed it back on and in the original package with no issues. It is supposed to be reusable so if I remember I will update next Christmas with how it held up in storage.


So pleased

August 25th, 2014

I love doing Zumba at home, but the carpet made it extremely frustrating – even in my lateral-friendly basketball sneakers that are perfect for Zumba at the gym. I tore a ligament six months ago in my knee, and to this day lateral movements on carpet make this same knee joint ache. I just got my pair today, and these are perfect. No more knee worries!I am normally between an 8 and a half and a 9, depending on the shoe brand. I got size 11 and they are great. However, if I was a real dancer performing ballet style moves the little gap at the end of the toe area would be problematic. But for my purposes, they are perfect, as that does not affect me. I put some sports insoles in mine to help with the impact, so my sizing was dead on.To be clear, these shoes are great for Zumba on carpet, but I do not recommend trying to do Zumba in these on other surfaces. (I realize real dancers use these on hard floors, so if you have great balance and control, go for it if you want.) I just think that they are too slippery for that.These shoes look very well made and the sole was not as flimsy at all (like I was expecting) which was a plus. I have low arches so I did not have any issues with the lack of arch support.If you are thinking about these shoes for carpet Zumba, do not hesitate to try them out. Sadly, my situation is not unique: many people are getting injured trying to Zumba on the carpet when their knees just cannot take it. The price is also nice! I was looking at other shoes that cost around 60!


Baby D800 ??

August 25th, 2014

I had no plans to buy this camera, but eventually had to find a solution while waiting for my D800 to be delivered. I kind of felt, I could get some training by shooting high megapixel images on this entry level camera.My first outing after the camera arrived was to some birdpark with absolutely no prior preparation. The manual is still in the box, only charged the battery overnight and brought a selection of lenses in addition to the kit lens.First surprise, even the kit “plastic” lens performs really nicely on this camera. Due to the nature of the objects of interest, the remaining shoots were done on a 28-300mm.I was accompanied by an experienced bird photographer and we took turns with the camera. Both made the following observations: From the angle of experienced Nikon users, this camera offers everything in terms of menus and dials to set the camera up the way one is used to from D90, D7000, D300s level cameras. This came as a surprise, as the D3200 does not have the front dial that we both were used to and familiar with. Nikon has done an surprisingly good job in making the menus very easy to access and after a short while, we where entirely concentrated on the shoot and only occasionally reminding ourself that this was “only” an entry-level DSLR.At the same time, we were impressed how nice the software is tailored to the needs of a potential beginner, gently guiding him towards to goal of making better photos along the way.The LCD screen on the back is a huge step forward from previous models, as it allowed to effortless pre-screen the shots taken. I was even carrying a laptop computer to better inspect the initial images, but after a short while we only resorted the the built-in screen.The biggest surprise was however the image quality after we analyzed our initial >350 photos on a large monitor. The yield of usable photos was right out of the box very high, which reiterates the ease of use of this camera and the great auto-focus system (despite only 11 sensors). Also the smallish size of the body turned out to be less problematic, even with a bigger lens attached to it.We found the image quality obtained to be absolutely stunning, the sharpness of the images was “picture perfect”. Colors just the way one would expect them, as is the hall mark of any Nikon camera. Even small birds could be cropped from the 24 MP resulting in usable 7 MP images. Post-processing was a thrill and resulted in a substantial number of images clearly qualifying as publication quality.Having seen both, the best and the worst in Nikon cameras, I can verify that this entry level DSLR is a keeper. Even though never planned, it will stay in the collection as a second body and now serves as the main camera until the D800 arrives.If an entry level camera already is this good, what may be expected of the upcoming updates of the other DX models, the likes of D5100, D7000 and the D300s?


The ultimate sock

August 22nd, 2014

Your average sized biped may not have this problem, but Bigfoot that I am, socks tend to slide off my feet. I wear a 12-13 and with certain shoes or socks or the wrong combination I can be left sockless or blistering. The little cushioned ridge in the back of these socks prevents slippage, prevents blistering from rubbing, and they fit great. A large is for size 10+. Medium is for 8-9.5 and Small is for 6-7.5. The package says 83% acrylic, 14%polyester 2% spandex and 1% nylon. They are very soft, very squishy, cushiony, without being too thick or too thin, and very vibrant. They say asics across the toe. No overly thick toe seam-but the Amazon description says SEAMLESS, which is false. It doesn’t bother me, but it’s false advertising. So I’m knocking off a star for that. The bottom is cushioned. I like staying in them because they are so comfy. They spandex doesn’t make me itchy. They are neither too tight nor too loose around the ankle. I have toothpick legs. I’m very tall with super skinny lower legs(but I’m not skinny overall). If you have wide ankles and are vacillating on whether to get a small or medium or a medium or large, you might want to go up a size IF and only if you tend to be bothered by elastic being snug. I’m one of those itchy people. The large isn’t tight enough to leave imprints on my ankle, or to bother me. I have a 9.5-10inch ankle, and I could see it bothering me if my ankles weren’t so narrow for my size.


So comfortable!

August 21st, 2014

I bought these for work. I realize they can be used as yoga type work out pants, but the quality is very nice and they are acceptable for me to wear at work. I wanted something very comfortable and looked for a pant that had an elastic waist as I do a lot of physical labor at work. These are perfect for me. They are a classic black and are very well made. The waist comes up to just under my belly button, so I’d call them a mid-rise to high-rise. I love this, as I really do not like low-rise pants at all. I have a full rear end so low-rise pants give me issues with constantly feeling as if they are falling off me. The material is very stretchy and moves with me as I work. I don’t have to pull them up, adjust them or worry about them as I do my work. I love the fit as well. They are not tight at all, though they do hug my curves in just the right way to be flattering w/out looking painted on. The bottom of the legs are a slight bell shaped so they do flare a bit away from the calf. I am short, 5’1″ tall, so on me these hit about 3″ above my ankle (a bit longer than the woman in the picture) but they still look great on me despite my being shorter than an average woman. That was my main concern with buying a capri pant (and remains so when buying them online). I have ordered some in the past that when on they just look like high-water pants instead of capris and it can be frustrating for someone my size as I also have a long torso making it difficult for me to find capris that fit just right. A petite sized capri doesn’t work for me because of my longer torso. The inseam on a petite sized capri is too short. I’m very pleased with these pants and I plan to purchase another pair. I wish that I could have found these in khaki as well because I am able to wear khaki or black to work, but my size is not available currently. The waist band is much like a yoga pant in the width and (top and mid seam), and feels nice as it has a bit of a control top feel to it, without being uncomfortable at all.I certainly could have purchased the medium and they would have fit just fine, but to be on the safe side I ordered the large to be sure, since one never knows how these type of pants will fit (elastic waist type pants). If you’re between sizes I’d say order the larger of the two you fit between to be safe. By my own estimation the medium is probably a size 8-9 US, while the large is a size 10-12 US. I will more than likely also purchase this brand in the regular pant style as well for the colder months.


Incredible!

August 21st, 2014

I’ve been a fitness swimmer (3-5 times a week) for 20 years and gone through many swimsuits over the years, all brands. They tend to last an average of 6 months, some a little longer, some just barely. Fit is what I am most concerned about, I’ve been through any variation here – some are too tight, but still usable; some fit but get loose very quickly; almost all ride up a bit in the back, have too high of a leg cut, or are prone to side spills on top. I kinda know what worked for me and try to hunt down the same suits (Arena, Tyr – Maxbacks); this time I came up empty. I was never fond of the thinner straps of the Diamondback as far as looks go, and questioned their ability to hold up over time, but I see just about everyone else wearing these at my pool, and based on the good reviews this suit has been getting, I ordered one, and it is fantastic:1. It fits true to size, snug, but not to the point where it’s super difficult to put on. I ordered size 36, I am 5’8″, 130 lbs, 36A.2. I actually love the thinner straps – they feel really secure, and look a bit more feminine than the Maxback.3. Flattering fit. It’s still a functional workout suit (not to be confused with a cute poolside outfit), but it has a nice fit (I had to return the Tyr Durafast Maxback which compressed me into a square – very unflattering)4. It is lined throughout. I rarely, if ever, had a suit that was also lined on the backside, which is usually what thins out first and the main reason I have to replace the suit. Finding it fully lined was a pleasant surprise. The liner is black for the black suit – not tan.I only had it one week, so I cannot attest to its durability, but it being Tyr, I don’t expect anything less than 6 months. I will definitely replace it with the same one when the time comes. I hope they keep making it!


Finally – jeans that fit!

August 21st, 2014

I’ve had the same body for probably about the last 20 years – tall, lanky but not really what you’d call “skinny”. In fact, I’m kind of pear-shaped around the middle. I never considered skinny jeans before because of that. I’ve been wearing 505′s for years, but have tried various other brands before that – nothing fit right. Pants sit naturally below the waist on me, and at my 36″-38″ waist, the legs were always really baggy. I always looked like a wannabe gang member or something wearing jeans – even jeans that were very tight around the waist.But I tried a pair of these at a store and they fit perfectly! They sit naturally where pants want to sit on me, and there’s no extra bagginess either in the legs or the butt. (I have no butt, so this is important.) With a 36″ waist, they’re cut so they do not look “skinny” with my legs, but they actually make me look thinner. And they look really good with boots. (“Boot cut” jeans look ridiculous with boots in my opinion; boots need a tapered leg, not a flared leg.) In other words, they just fit right!I bought a pair of the black stretch, which actually get somewhat loose after repeated wearings. I tried a pair of the rigid 511′s in a store, and I’ll buy them next to compare.In short, I’d recommend these not just for really skinny guys, but also for guys who have that middle-aged pear shape. At the larger waist sizes, the legs are roomy enough that they just look like regular jeans, and they don’t look like you’re wearing “dad jeans” like the regular fit stuff can.


Hard to beat for the price

August 20th, 2014

I was using an old cassette adapter in my 97 Ford, and the audio quality was awful. I decided to give an FM transmitter a shot. I decided on this one mostly because of its cheap price, but also because it was one of the few that does not have tons of negative reviews about audio issues.. I use it with my iphone 4. I live in an urban area so it is somewhat difficult to find vacant frequencies. If your car radio is strong like mine (and you live in an area with a lot of stations), at certain times of the day you will get stations on almost every different frequency. Because of this I have two or three different frequencies a switch between depending on where I am and what time of day it is. I should note that I used it in another vehicle with a weaker radio and did not have these issues.Audio quality is great; I feel like I am listening to a CD or a good FM station instead of the muffled sound I was getting out of the cassette player. There is only the slightest static if I ramp the volume up at ear-blasting levels (which most people don’t do anyway).Pros:-cheap-simple to use-It has a built in USB-charger for charging phones, etc.-Good sound qualityCons:-requires a cigarette lighter to plug into, so you can’t really use it with other radios outside of vehicles-It can be difficult to find a vacant frequency if you are in an area with a lot of stations.I will update if I have any issues. I recommend this product.


Alphabet Nesting and Stacking Blocks – Melissa and Doug

August 16th, 2014

I purchased this gift for my 14month old nephew and he loved it! He loved knocking down the blocks over and over and over again all day long. It was perfect for him! He giggled and smiled each time. Well worth it! While he has not mastered putting it on top of each, he loves to knock it down.

These building blocks are also my go-to gift for my friends’ kids. As parents, when we see a great toy a lot of times our first thought is to assess the size and shape to figure out where we’re going to keep it.This compact little set of blocks is great. The blocks fit into one another (nesting), which is fun for the kids, who love to open boxes and fit things into one another. You you can put all sorts of things into a box – dolls, puzzle pieces, etc., and believe me, my kid has. The blocks are colorful, which makes them visually interesting. In addition, they have letters and numbers on them, which is great, because when I play with my 3-year-old, I can work on that with her. My 1-year-old is just as interested in the blocks as my 3-year-old, which is a wonderful thing.These blocks are perfect for taking on vacation, because they fit so well into a suitcase. They are great for bringing over to grandma’s house, too. My kids are rough and these blocks are still in great shape. I don’t let them stand on the cardboard, obviously, but, they throw them around and grab them roughly and they are holding up well. We’ve had them for about 2 years now.These are a must-have.


The Bracelet Itself is 5 Star Worthy

August 14th, 2014

As other reviewers have stated, hop on over to the official Kate Spade website, and this bracelet is available for the exact same price that Amazon has it listed for. If you sign up for KS emails you get 15% off your first order (make sure you click ‘join now’ down the bottom, not up the top – for some reason, you don’t get the 15% off unless you sign up down the bottom, which is where it says get 15% off).The reason I am leaving this review on Amazon is to tell you to go to the Kate Spade website if you are considering getting this bracelet, but you really should get this bracelet either way. The bracelet itself is absolutely gorgeous, well made and not tacky at all – its like the grown up version of those half heart best friend necklaces. I bought one for my maid of honor who is, of course, my bestie, and loves jewelry so I thought it would be a perfect gift. I found it on Amazon, and thanks to the reviews, bought it direct from Kate Spade. It comes very well packaged and includes a little box and a sample fragrance, which I stuck in there as well.The bracelet is made in China, if that bothers you. It doesn’t bother me, as it is freaking gorgeous and I know my bestie will love it. I almost wish she had bought it for me!Anywho, moral of the story – buy the bracelet, its freaking beautiful, but don’t buy it from here unless they lower their price.