Category Archives: Product Reviews

Sea Monkeys and Other Disappointments

My daughter told me about a brine shrimp ecosystem she had seen on a shopping trip with Mr Awesome and it got me thinking about Sea Monkeys. I told her how I saw the Sea Monkey ads in the back of comic books and begged my mother to let me send away for them. Once they arrived I was very disappointed to see that they weren’t even remotely like the happy little creatures in the Sea Monkeys ads. They couldn’t “appear” to do tricks. The only way they’d dance to the beat of music is if you put their milk glass on top of the speaker and turned the dial all the way up. They didn’t have faces or even arms and legs. They were just brine shrimp or Artemia. They weren’t adorable, in fact they looked like swimming bugs. I just noticed the line of fine print at the bottom of the page “Caricatures shown not intended to depict Artemia”. Well, what were they supposed to be depicting then? I never saw that before. Maybe it was there all the time and I just blocked it out. I told her that these kinds of ads wouldn’t be allowed these days. But don’t worry kids today learn their cynicism in other ways. She and I laughed reading the ad copy. I hope that you enjoy it as well. Here is a link to a lot more ads if you’re feeling nostalgic.

While looking up the Sea Monkeys ad we also found the one for the “Gag Gifts”. I love how the Disguise Kit is described as “A Riot of Fun for Everyone!” I think my favorite is the “Radio Time ‘Bomb’. Looks like a transistor radio but can be set from 10 seconds to 10 minutes to explode – harmlessly, but really shocks and surprises. Plant and watch the fun.”

Wow, where can I get one?

I hope that this holiday season brings you everything you hope for!


T-Baum 2010

We put up our tree last weekend. We are real tree people. I have always been adamant about having a real tree. I love the smell and how each one is different and special. Over the past few years I’ve noticed that I always get a lingering cold at Christmas time that mysteriously disappears as soon as we take down the tree. Smart person that I am, I have deduced that I’m probably allergic to the darn thing. I made one weak try to talk to my family about possibly going the fake tree route this year but it didn’t work. We are real tree people and we’re not going to change. I’m just taking extra allergy medicine and it seems to be working so far. Someone I work with told me a story about her friend who always got really sick at Christmas time. Ever since he was a young boy he would get so ill that he would have to spend the holidays laying in his bed with a fever and flu. His parents felt bad that he always missed the holiday festivities sick in bed so as a special treat they started putting a small Christmas tree in his room. It wasn’t until he was an adult many years later that he learned that he was highly allergic to pine trees.

We’ve been having a good holiday so far. My mom is feeling a lot better. She’s had two rounds of chemo so far and the pain in her leg is gone. There have been many other side effects and times when she’s really suffered but for now she’s stable. She’s going to have another CT scan next week and the doctor expects to see that the mass has gotten measurably smaller. This is all good news!! My daughter is in her standard holiday mode. She’s dreaming of all the presents she’ll get at Christmas and then for her birthday 2 weeks later. Though this year she has really gotten into picking out her own gifts to give to others which makes me happy. We’re trying (I mean, I’m trying) to not go too too crazy with the gifts for her this year. I hope that she likes what Santa brings! She still believes in Santa though I’m sure she has her doubts. However, she has told me that Rudolph is definitely a myth. No red nosed reindeer is pulling the wool over her eyes anymore. Santa is going to be very good to me this year. We are getting a new oven TOMORROW! I have been without a working oven for just about 4 years now. Mr Awesome has been truly awesome getting the kitchen ready for our newest appliance. Yesterday he moved a heating duct from its original position underneath the old cooktop to a new location right by the kitchen table. This involved cramming his almost 6′ body into the filthy crawlspace underneath the kitchen floor to detach and reattach the hvac piping. He grumbled and groaned his way through it but he got it done. I love my guy!!! I can’t wait to start some holiday baking. I especially want to make some brown butter cookies that are the most delicious things ever. I’ll let you know how it goes.

I always take pictures of our tree but they just don’t do the original justice. I set up the camera to take a little video of the trimming activities. I thought that we could speed it up and reverse it and have a fun little movie. However, once I started my editing process in imovie ’09 I started running into a problem with the audio. Somehow the audio tracks  from the footage were finding their way into the movie even after I had muted and in some cases deleted them. Since I’m totally bonkers and get obsessed with little projects while I ignore the million other things I need to be doing I have spent the last week working on my 2 minute video. Apparently there is some bug in this version of imovie that doesn’t allow you to completely get rid of audio tracks on clips that you’ve used custom settings to speed up or slowed down. I fixed it by going back in and re-edited all my clips to the preset speeds. I hope that you enjoy it!

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In My Cup

I’m an unabashed coffee fan. I love my caffeine and need it/want it/crave it. Sadly I am not joined in this enthusiasm by my dear husband. This means that on the days we are not hosting my in-laws I am the only person in my house who drinks coffee. I drink one cup when I first get up and then fill a large travel mug to take to work. If I brew a whole pot then I end up pouring a lot of it out. I thought my problem was solved when I got myself a Keurig coffee maker and could easily and quickly brew up my favorite bold coffee one cup at a time. The drawback to this route is that the K-Cups you use in the machine are a little pricey. Boxes of 25 K-Cups run in the $9 – $12 range plus the cost of shipping. The boxes you can find at the grocery store usually only have 18 Cups in them and are pretty much the same price. In addition I feel wasteful tossing out 3 or 4 spent plastic cups everyday. I needed an alternative. I thought I had found my coffee salvation when I found a little “My K-Cup” insert at the store. You install the My K-Cup holder and cup into your Keurig machine and it allows you to fill your own K-Cups with your own coffee. I thought that my problems were all solved when I brought it home. Unfortunately I still await the answer to my coffee prayers. I have found my My K-Cup brewed coffee to be too weak and gritty with grounds. I’m still fiddling with the proper amount to put in it and the proper grind for the coffee. It is too much finagaling for my early mornings! It is also a bit of a mess to clean the insert of all its hot little grounds after each cup. After a quick internet search I found lots of other dissatisfied My K-Cup’ers complaining about a lot of the same things. I’m coming to think that the Keurig people intentionally put out an inferior product. The instructions tell you to not tamp the coffee down into the cup, only fill it to 2/3’s full and to use a coarser grind of coffee. None of these tips seem to follow logic especially if you take apart a store bought K-Cup and see that not only does it have a false bottom half way up the cup, it is packed to the top with finely ground coffee. There is no way that you can replicate this at home. They want to make it seem like they’re responding to users desire to have a cheaper, greener way to use their machines but they really don’t. They want us to keep on buying their expensive K-Cups so they put out a crappy alternative that any sentient being would ultimately lose patience with. Mwah-hah-hah-haaaa!

We have a regular coffee maker but it is not a very high quality one and I worry about what is leaching out of the cheap plastic filter into my coffee whenever I use it. This is pathetic but I’m so spoiled by the speed of my Keurig that waiting for even a small pot of coffee to brew on the regular machine feels like torture. What should I do oh Internets? I want to save money but I need to get this coffee thing worked out. I’ve been deeply dissatisfied with my coffee lately and this is not a good thing. Coffee and I are friends! My caffeine intake is all out of whack and I’m left falling asleep on the couch every night at 7:30pm.

Have any of you used a My K-Cup insert? Did you have good results with it?

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Product Review: Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Liquid Daily Sunblock

I was doing my part and cutting the grass in the back of the yard for my husband a couple of weeks ago and decided it would be the perfect time to try out the Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Liquid Daily Sunblock. I shook the bottle and heard the ball bearings inside moving around, like spray paint. I kind of love that sound so it was an immediate plus for me. I pulled the cap off and apparently pulled a little too hard because the cap came apart into two pieces. The white cap and the blue insert that snaps down inside it. At first I didn’t realize that I had done that and I threw away the blue piece. I had to fish the blue piece out of the garbage can afterwards when I realized that the white cap wouldn’t stay on the bottle without it. I was initially surprised at how thin the liquid looked but after I got it in between my fingers I realized how substantial it really is. It went on evenly with easy strokes. The finish on my skin felt soft but a little bit on the tacky side. I prefer a little smoother finish from a facial moisturizer. I know that this is meant to be a daily sunscreen so it is a little bit of a different product. I have a naturally darker skin tone to begin with and my skin tends to tan and not to burn but my nose will get red if I haven’t protected it properly. Even so, I do not purposely tan anymore. The sun feels so much stronger than it used to and you have to be very careful no matter what the color of your skin. I try to keep my face out of the sun as much as possible. The Neutrogena Ultra Sheer worked great during my lawn cutting in the bright sun. I didn’t even wear a big hat. We just stayed in the yard that day and I felt that my Ultra Sheer kept on protecting me. Next I want to try it under my makeup in the place of my wimpy 15 SPF moisturizer. After that the big test will be on my “driving arm”.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received the product mentioned above for free for review purposes from Tidal Labs. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”