Books, History, Food, Politics, and Life

Books, History, Food, Politics, and Life
Things through a different light...

Monday, March 30, 2015

Product Review: The Quick stitch Sewing Kit

I am not crafty, I wish I were...but it just is not innate in my brain or chemistry. Every now and again Aiden and I try to do a craft for a gift to the grandparents, but I do believe at two...his skills are on par with mine.
I also cannot sew. Unfortunately, I am not one of those moms who can just put together a costume or household Item with some thread and fabric, my normal attempts have been... depressing.

BUT... I can fix a button or a hole and so having a good sewing kit around the house is a must. I received the Quick Stitch Sewing Kit as promotion to review and here are my thoughts.

Item:  The Quick Stitch Sewing Kit

Cost: $11.95 with free shipping at

The first thing I noticed with the kit is the amount of items the makers fit into a relatively small package. The kit includes a thimble, 12 different thread colors, a threader, scissors, a safety pin, a large assortment of needles, a de-seamer, measuring tape, and some spare buttons. I think the assortment of thread and needles are the most impressive addition...the thread quantity makes any sewing emergency easy to take care of without worrying about different color threads and the needle assortment proves that the kit has a needle for any job. Second, I think the packaging needs some attention. The kit is tightly put together, nothing comes loose easy, and the case is very well it can be thrown in the bottom of a purse or an overnight bag without the worry of things getting loose and needles roaming free at the bottom of a dark bag abyss. 
For $12.00, the kit is more pricey than your average department store pick-up, but the function and quality of the item makes the kit worth it... one would not need to replace this kit for a long time. I have no complaints about the seems to function well and everything is of good quality.
If you need a sewing kit for emergencies, this is the one to get. PURCHASE THE KIT HERE

Product Review: Avo Essentials Lavender Oil

Essential Oils are the new thing and I have had a few people recommend I try them for calming myself (grad school and toddler anxiety) or aches and pains....

The Company Avo Essentials sent me a sample of their 
100% Pure and Natural Lavender Oil and here is my review.

This stuff smells amazing

First: I used the oil in a wax burner and used some unscented wax and a few drops of the oil in order to dilute the strength, the oil is VERY strong. This worked perfectly and the fragrance lasted the entire duration of the tealight I used with only a few drops of the oil...meaning a large bottle like the one provided will last a very long time.

The fragrance is exact to lavender, so if you are a lavender person like I is heavenly.

Now...for the calming / destressing part.

I usually do not believe stuff like that, BUT I usually freak out at least once on the night a paper is due and I did not this time.

I do not know if I can attribute that to the lavender oil, but hey... it happened while the oil was burning.

(I may be bias...this stuff smells magical)

Avo Essentials Lavender Oil  4 oz bottle

Available Here for $21.50 (that may sound expensive, but the bottle is huge and a few drops will last for hours)

It gets my seal of approval.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Store Love....

So I am just going to say this order to make you understand that the following message is very bias.

I LOVE Trader Joe's. 
Part of this probably comes from the fact that my local groceries are not Trader Joe's so I do not have access to it all the time... but for what we eat in a would not be a simple one stop junk food dump... I know some say it can be...and I get that (especially since we purchased the bacon white cheddar popcorn)... BUT I DIGRESS...

We go to Trader Joe's whenever we go to Atlanta and I always get 

1. a bottle of wine.
2. cheese
3. spices

But... since we had visitors this weekend and I did not do my normal weekly shopping, I will admit... I added more "normal" stuff to my cart and really looked at the prices and health vs. our usual place (which I really like btw)

If I buy in bulk...then a regular shopping center would probably be a better option, but Trader Joe's is great for a small family because it does allow for the purchase of small quantities of fresh fruits, vegetables, good meat, and dairy at a reasonable price.

My Stilton and Gouda together was eight dollars... if I would have purchased at my local store, I may have been able to get one for that price.

Pancake mix, which I use to bake a number of things... was two bucks, about the same price as my regular brand, but made with better ingredients.

A frozen pizza... four dollars, made in ital with just tomatoes, basil and mozzarella.... 

the vegetable selection was great, affordable, and in small quantities as were the meats and fruits....
I got aiden's snap pea crisps for less than two dollars, they are almost double where I shop.

Oh and Olive Oil... so we have all read the controversy about fake olive oil lately and how most of the popular brands are not real olive oil...but Trader Joe's IS, from olives grown in California... and I was able to get a giant bottle for eight dollars, it will last us months... 

So... I wish Trader Joe's was in Warner Robins, I am crushing hard on it as a place to get tasty and healthy food at a decent price.  

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Product Review: X-Shade Folding Car Window Sunshade

Product: The X-Shade Folding Car Window Sunshade

Price: $21.99 for Two HERE 


It is getting warmer out and the sun has begun to battle the dreary cold and rain for some attention in the skies and so I signed up to review the X-Shade Folding Car Window Sunshade to see if it worked well with a toddler in the back of a car and a mother who does not like complicated car gadgets that are a problem to deal with.
The appeal of these sunshades comes with the fact that they attach to the top of the window and just go up and down with your automatic windows. I have tested this on the installed shades and this function does work without incident.

The Pros:

1. Easy to install, it took five minutes.
2. Not overly complicated to use, it just clips onto the car and adheres to the base with some 3M adhesive tape. 
3. The shade material is one solid piece and is thick enough to make sure a child is not blinded or in the sun when they are riding in the back.

The Cons:

1. The base at the bottom of the shade has an adjustable aspect that comes apart rather easy and can mess up the entire functionality of the blind. This happened to me and it took me a while to get one back together which was frustrating. I would recommend that you not try to pull the adhesive tape all the way to the edge of the shade, because the ends came apart.

2. The adhesive at the base of the shade sticks to your car, I do not know if that is going to be easy to remove and it did bother me slightly. 

Overall this is a decent product for the price and I have had no problems with it thus far. I will update if there are any issues.

(I was sent this product for free to review by the maker)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Review: Yorkshire Tea

Full bodied, but wonderful for all day use!

Item: Taylors of Harrogate Yorkshire Tea (red)
Price: 7.91


I drink a lot of tea and coffee during the day. Having a toddler, two part-time jobs, and attempting to finish up graduate school tends to warrant a great deal of caffeine. If I have gone coffee heavy for a few days, I switch to tea for a day or two in order to have a different taste throughout the day and a milder experience. 

Today I am drinking Taylors of Harrogate's Yorkshire (Red) Tea. I was first introduced to this particular version of the tea at a local British shop and tea room and I love it. The great thing about the Yorkshire Red is that it is full bodied, but mild enough to be an all day drinking where the drinker consumes multiple cups (I am of course using the six ounce teacups when I drink tea). The tea steeps quickly and holds up well to one dot of sugar and a light amount of cream (which is a necessity for me).  Using two bags in a sixteen ounce tea infuser will get me almost three full cups of tea and tastes sublime. I honestly do not know the difference in production between Taylors and other brands, but for some reason I always come back to the Yorkshire varieties (they also do a Gold which is amazing). 

If you are looking for a medium strength all day tea that holds up to sweetener and milk, the Yorkshire Red is for you.

Check it out! 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Product Test: Iphone6 Armband

Product Test:

Iphone 6 Armband

This is a unisex armband that is black. It fits the iphone 6 and Samsung Galaxy S5.

Review Done with an iphone 6

Retail Price: $15.97 on with Prime.

This is a simplistic, but sleekly designed and well made iphone armband for exercise. I use mine while running on the treadmill and walking outside and found it to be comfortable to wear and easy to adjust. I found two bonuses to the armband I want to share.
1. The armband has windows on the back of the armband for photos and so if you need to take your armband off for whatever reason mid-run to snap a picture, you do not have to remove your phone or use the normal lesser quality front camera. 
2. There is a slot on the armband for a single key. I find this VERY helpful because I loathe running or walking outside with keys in my pocket because I either do not have a pocket or they weigh down my pants or shorts.

Overall I give this armband a 4.5 out of 5.

(This item was sent to me for free so I could review it by the company)

If you would like to get this awesome armband go HERE 

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Tea Review

My caffeine addiction has no bounds. I drink tea and coffee constantly throughout the day and one day without it is a disaster. When I study, which I am doing now...I drink a combination of both. I start out in the morning with a slightly sweetened and creamed selection and transition to straight black or plain during the rest of the day. I have about twenty or so different varieties of black tea in my house (I am not really into green tea or the flowering types as much, I am a plain jane to some extent).

Today I am drinking the Afternoon Tea by Crabtree & Evelyn, which is mainly known for its line of skin and bath products, but has amazing biscuits and teas...oddly enough. 

The tea is strong, but smooth...meaning that it holds up well to sugar and cream without being as arresting as say an Earl Grey. 

I am a huge fan of this tea, and while it is found in an odd place and slightly expensive ($8.00 a box), it is a nice little treat every now and again. I used my final two bags this morning, so I will pick some up next time I visit a store.

You can order the tea online here 

Friday, March 20, 2015

Apple Approved Lightning Cable! (product test)

The  FeschDesign Sync & Charge lightning cable for apple products was a product test where I received the product for free in exchange for my review.

The cable works very well and is slightly longer than a regular apple standard charging cable that is included with a product such as an ipad or iphone. It worked quickly and charged my iphone6 and ipad mini without any problems. The cord is sturdy and does not feel cheaply made and is considerably cheaper than the Apple version. 

I thought this cord should get a 4 out of 5 stars because I thought it would be slightly longer than it is, that being does a great job and is very affordable. 

Get it Here

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Stupid Gates

There are times when I am reminded that I am under five foot tall and some things do not come as easily as they do to other... you know... tall people.
Last night, in the midst of keeping the house clean, getting the toddler prepared for bed, and cleaning up the chaos, I tripped over the large gate that keeps the little one from the kitchen and fell hard... scraping my foot and bruising myself in a few places.  Thankfully, nothing was broken, but my left foot has an awesome giant purple bruise as a reminder that I am pretty accident prone. 

Now I am going to go back to comprehensive exam revision and reading about banana production in the early 20th century.


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Today's Announcement is Brought to You By Coffee...

Studying for comprehensive exams is a pain in the ass.  That is that. 

Having to read 20th year highschool reunion drama on top of that and deal with a screaming toddler and RA pains with allergies...

Means it is a 2 pots of coffee day. 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Promoted Product Testing: Adeline Anti-Aging Moisturizer with Matrixyl

I received a sample of Adeline's Anti-Aging Moisturizer with Matrixyl to try and review. According to the package, the moisturizer is for all skin types and combines peptides, hyaluronic acid, and vitamin C to held diminish fine lines and wrinkles.

I am thrity-eight and have taken pretty good care of my skin over the years, but I do have some fine lines around my eyes and on my forehead so over the next week I am going to try this product and see if there is any difference. 

I first applied it today and I noticed a nice and refreshing fragrance and a not too thick or greasy consistency, which I like. I want moisturizer to settle in quickly and not leave a residue that is heavy on my already oily skin.
I can say that I believe the side I used feels softer than the one I did not, but only time will tell.

I will update on this post after a few days...some of my results. 

This is the product out of the box 

Friday, March 13, 2015

La Lune Naturals Charcoal Facial Sponge

I had the opportunity to try the new charcoal facial sponge by La Lune Naturals this week and when I used it with my regular facial cleanser, I saw a huge difference in the softness of my skin without having to resort to using abrasive wash cloths or those painful brushes.  For someone with sensitive skin, this is great.

Get it Here!!! 

Look at the difference...

Sunday, March 8, 2015

More Rambling About the Novel I am Reading

More than my usual amount of blogposts lately I know...

I am spending a great deal more time at the computer over the last few days as my comprehensive exams loom and I study more intensively, and thus... I am here more and when I take a break, my brain still has to do something.
I am not the sit and do nothing type and I do not nap so when I take a is usually productive in some way.

My latest method of taking a break involves a nightly soak with bath salts (helps with the problematic joint disease) and reading something for fun.

This is my current poison

Flynn is also the author of last year's book inspired film Gone Girl. I liked the novel and the book so I thought I would try Flynn out again when I realized that this too has been adapted screen and will be released later this year. The protagonist is very unlikable and standoffish, but with good reason and I like it. The premise is good and the story is engaging, which is all I can ask for in a novel that I just read for ten to twenty minutes a day while I am soaking in the tub. 

I mentioned this previously, but I find one thing that Flynn does really appealing... her exploration into what it means to be scarred. The main character of Dark Places is the only survivor of a mass murder where most of her family was horrifically butchered and of course, that means she is not exactly all there... but similar to some of the characters in Flynn's other books, this one has physical scars to match her psychological ones (a missing half finger and two missing toes she lost to frostbite the night her family was murdered). It is an interesting way to outwardly project that the character is broken or damaged somehow, especially in a world that is so attached to the physical appearance and it happens more than once in Flynn's unconnected novels.
I just find that interesting, even for kind of throw away novels that I read without looking into them deeper than the story.

Now back to Darwin, bananas, and the Middle Ages 

A fun read so far 

Friday, March 6, 2015

Starting a Novel and Working on Comps

When reading is your passion, you want to read even when your brain is so full of words it hurts. Thus, to take a break from all of the academic texts I am currently reading or re-reading while attending my final two courses of grad school and studying for my comprehensive exams, I needed something to read for that ten minutes of rest time before bed...because books. Now, while I would love to say that all I read consists of deep and high minded literature, after reading academic texts about Honduran banana farms and Charles Darwin's early years...or the early Reformation in Germany and the emergence of the culture wars in the 2oth century... I kind of want something I do not have to think about when reading. If this were Summer and I had nothing else to do, I have different authors I read, but as for now... I just want to be entertained.

I liked Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl because it was dark and the characters were borderline unlikeable to just completely unlikeable and thus to me, a bit more realistic than some of the novels I've read where complication is a quirk, but almost surface in nature. No...Flynn's characters are deeply scarred usually mentally and physically... something I have noticed as I've read her books, when people are damaged, they are outwardly so as well. I picked up her Dark Places after coming upon a trailer for the film that is coming out at some point this year. Now I have downloaded it and will, for the next few days, use it as my 10 minutes of bliss material. We shall see how this goes.
I read about a chapter while soaking in the tub tonight (something else I do to destress) and it is sufficiently dark for my tastes.

Currently, I just finished up on a chapter in one book that covered Charles Darwin's education and his father's attempts to have him follow down the path of most Darwins...into medical practice, but Charles was not a fan after just not being able to stomach surgery theaters in the 19th century in Edinburgh. To be honest, can one hold that against him? 19th century surgery could not have been anything but horrifically gruesome. The text actually mentions using sawdust in buckets around the operating table to catch the steady flow of blood that comes from the yea, I may be with Charlie on this one and say NOT FOR ME.
I also spent some time with the multiple reformation movements in the German territories leading up to and through the Thirty Years War. There is a huge debate about one or multiple reformations, I remember that from another course I took...but for this particular book, the author was all about multiple and he payed special attention to the participation of different social classes in the German lands during the period and how they catered to religious reform...I remember really liking the book in 2012 when I originally read it, so going over the notes again was fun.

Finally...back to Honduran banana farms... I have another chapter to read before I can go to bed and have my ten minutes of fun reading time. 

Have a great weekend...
Oh I am on Spring Break, but I have a paper due so oh well LOL.