24 March 2017

Attempting shuttle tatting... again

For some reason I seem determined to improve my shuttle tatting skills.  I don't know why.  My practice has been a ring then a chain.  That's it, pretty simple.  I timed myself.  I can needle tat three times faster and I don't think the difference in looks is enough for me to care.  Shuttles are easier to transport though.  If you use one with bobbins you wouldn't need to take full balls of thread with you.  That's kind of what this post is about.  I've decided that whether or not I ever master shuttle tatting or just stick to needle tatting, I still like having shuttles.  I'll show you why I feel that way,

 The first image is of an Aerlit Shuttle's bobbin filled as full as it can get.  The second image is that same exact thread on a Kumihimo 1 7/8" bobbin.   If you do want to travel with tatting and like me still work with larger (size 10 crochet cotton) threads, you might not want to take full balls of thread with you.  Working from shuttle bobbins, post shuttles, or even kumihimo bobbins is much easier to travel with and to work with.

I have seen some people say they hate bobbin shuttles because they don't hold as much post shuttles.  

That may be true, but after winding the thread from a bobbing shuttle onto the post shuttle, I don't think there's enough of a difference for me to care about.  I thought I had taken a picture of that, apparently I didn't.  The difference between the Aerlit shuttle bobbin and the Clover shuttle was that once the Aerlit bobbin shuttle thread was fully on the Clover post shuttle I could have maybe filled the bobbin about 1/5th of the way and added that to the post shuttle.   Working with size 10 thread that's not enough of a difference to care about.  With very fine threads it might be.  With the bobbins you can wind many at once and be ready to go when you run out instead of stopping to wind the bobbin every time you run out of thread, so there's that. 

What I do care about is how convenient the shuttles generally found in stores are to travel with.  I think this is why I keep trying to master shuttle tatting.  Needles are long.  That's another concern I have about if we ever have to travel.  The needles are so long I don't think they'd get through security even though they're dull.  Shuttle tatting means you can take everything with you without concern of losing them.  But for me, even while needle tatting at home, I find working from a bobbin/shuttle easier than working off of a regular ball of thread.  Part of that could be because I have a cat.  If I have a bobbin or shuttle in my hands, she's a lot less interested than if I have a ball of thread on my chair with a nice long thread moving between me and it.   I think the other part is that I sometimes have a tremor in one hand and I find needle easier to manipulate.  I'm definitely not a graceful shuttle tatter.

The needles are long enough to require something around the length of a pencil case to store those (I still have mine in the plastic tube they came in but it cracked around the lid so I'm going to need a new storage for the needles soon).  Shuttles though, don't present quite the challenge for transporting them.   Several Christmases ago my mom sent me an adorable Winnie the Pooh keychain tin box just like this one.  I've been storing smaller tapestry needles in it, but when I broke out the shuttles I noticed something. 
I could fit one Aerlit shuttle with 4 bobbins and still close it.  Or I could fit three of the Clover post shuttles (only have two to test with but since I could squeeze in the Aerlit one sideways too, a third Clover will definitely fit).  Needless to say I ordered another of these Disney keychain tins.  I did test a small sliding mint tin I have and it worked for the bobbins or the Clover shuttles, but the Aerlit hook made it just a little too long to fit in tins like that.  So if you want to carry shuttles this way I'd definitely look for the longer keychain (I've only seen them with Disney characters and Coke branding, but I am sure if you had more patience to do a proper search you could probably find others).  
I do wish the shuttle took regular sewing bobbins.  The Aerlit bobbins are not as tall.  I have seen a wooden shuttle on etsy that takes regular sewing bobbins but it also seems much larger than the Aerlit shuttle.  Honestly, if you're as graceless as I am, you could probably shuttle tat using just a sewing bobbin and get a bobbin clamp to keep the length of working thread manageable. 

04 March 2017

Practicing tatting

 Am supposed to be working on two graphghans for Christmas which was going to be a stretch but I was being good and really working on them everyday.  Then a slight disaster hit that has my head not into following anything, especially not a detailed pattern.  But needed some crafty therapy so I picked up the tatting needle to try again.  Also picked up the tatting shuttle again.  I'm still going to practice with it, but I think the needle is how I shall tat.  the shuttle may get your work a little tighter but because I am so much faster and better at needle tatting, it's not worth the difference.  In fact, I think my needle tatting just looks better even though in theory shuttle should.  Shuttle feels like work to me.   I have no shuttle tatting to show as it takes me about 10 minutes to make a small ring and chain then I give up.

Anyway... the necklace with the rose ended up being a little too big, oops.  But still wanted a pic of it.  It was tatted with yarn instead of the usual crochet cotton.

Then it was let's tat with beads.  Probably not the best thread for it.  Too big for a pendant really since it was size 10 crochet cotton. Don't have many threads to practice with and what I do have is mostly yarns and size 10.  Sooo.... Again, even though I have no idea what to do with it, still liked it.  First thing I made without a pattern (did copy a picture though).

And finally tatted around a piece from my beading collection.  Hadn't figured out what to do with them so decided to test tatting around something. Two different sizes of thread (Dark purple is 10, light purple is 3).

Sun and mooon graphghan

 Haven't posted this as the blogger iOS app doesn't exist anymore, and so rarely at computer (and when I am, I forget to update this).  So here's the first crochet blanket I made.  First big project.  First graphghan.  Etc etc.  My mom loves / collects sun faces, so I bought a pattern on Artfire.com.  I would have liked to make my own pattern from one of the sun faces she's painted but as you can see from the on a twin bed size reference photo, I barely finished enough to send it by Christmas.

Would have liked to add enough border to make it a true twin, but settled on it'll be more like a lap blankie for the couch.

She was loved it enough, last I heard she was debating whether or not she'd use it or hang it on the wall as art.  That's win enough for me.

04 December 2016

Zenni Optical

So this year I decided it was time to go visit the eye doctor.  My vision isn't bad overall, but the fine print up close up reading stuff is starting to get to me and as a migraine sufferer, that is not a good thing. Turns out I do have the need for a very very minor RX in one eye.  Minor astigmatisms in each eye.  Essentially what I need is one step above from what you get at the drug store.

I went with just whatever they had at the eye doctor.  Nothing really thrilled me but it did allow me to use my insurance benefits and I found a pair that I liked enough even if I didn't love them.   Then I figured I'd investigate for a backup pair later when I realized that there are cheap alternatives, like Zenni Optical online.  Weak RX or not, I hadn't found anyone I know who had used them to vouch for them at the time of my appointment and frankly I wanted me eye doctor's office to verify that I had the right glasses with me.

Let's compare shall we?

This pair is the pair I selected at my eye doctor's office.  They are Kate Spade frames.
The total retail price was $363
The total price my insurance approved was $353
My share was $217
Of the $217 that I paid the breakdown is as follows:
$64 frames
$128 AR Anti-glare lenses
$25 "material co-pay"

They came with a pink and orange hard case and a pretty standard grey cloth for wiping them.  I am not gonna lie, the case is super cute.  Not worth the price difference between the two pairs cute, but I do prefer this case to the Zenni case.

I like that they are a pretty light weight plastic.

Don't like that they seem to collect prints and the like really easily.  I only use them for reading and had no idea I was touching the lenses but they do get dirty really fast despite paying for the top of the line lenses.

The style is neutral for me.  I like them.  They look fine.  Run of the mill though.  Pretty much 25% of the frames looked like them and was just a matter of finding ones that fit my face.

  This is is the pair that I got from Zenni.

The total retail cost was $58.35
I bought them during their Black Friday sale so I actually paid $48.17
Of that $48.17 the breakdown is as follows:
$35.95 Frame
$14.95 AR Anti-glare lenses
$7.45 shipping (I went with the second fastest shipping option)
-20% Black Friday sale

They came with a transparent green hard case (as I already mentioned I prefer the Kate Spade case but this one is fine and will protect your glasses just fine in a bag) and a larger cloth that is beach scene on one side and Zenni ad on the other side.

The only dislike is that the plastic feels like a bit of a harder plastic.  A little less give.  That kind if plastic always feels like it can crack or break easier to me, but I mean it's still all plastic.  That's just a personal preference.  I still like them and if you treat your glasses with the kind of care that you should, they should be fine.

I love the lenses more than my Kate Spade ones.  They seem to actually repel things better.  Breathe on them?  It instantly defogs.  That is not the case with the ones from my doctor's office.  They require cleaning less often.

I also love that they had a wider selection of styles than my local office did.  My doctor's office might have had more actual frames, maybe(?), but they were all so identical.  Zenni had more unique frame styles overall.  I wanted that vintage look and didn't want to have to go buy older vintage frames as many as smaller and not a good fit for my face the way modern styles are.

I told my hubby that when it's time for him to redo his RX, I think he should skip the big brands and just head straight to Zenni.  I was leery of going that route but the RX does seem to match perfectly.  Which brings me to my one real complaint -- As I said my RX is pretty weak aka single vision or readers.  When I went to enter my RX it is not really clear on the prescription page but that means entering your RX differently.  It is explained in the FAQ but if you just jump into oh hey, here's where I enter my RX, this IS easy?  You will have a problem.  I also found the instructions in the FAQ a bit confusing as the text instructions said one thing and the image that showed the math (yes there is math - basic math, but math none the less) showed you dividing things as well as adding and subtracting things.  What?  The text didn't say that.  So I used the live chat and let their experts tell me what my numbers should be.  I feel like they should just automate that.

Someday I'd like to get some of these vintage cat eyes in sunglasses (being readers I don't need RX sunglasses but they do offer most frames as sunglasses rx or not).

Knowing what I know now, I probably would have skipped the Kate Spades and bought two of three pairs of Zennis for the same price.   But eh, first pair paranoia and all, can't blame me for being overly cautious.

It should be noted that they do not bill insurance.  Your insurance company may or may not allow you to buy glasses and invoice them.  That would be on you to figure out.  I have had to do that with medical insurance before and it's not always pleasant.  And they may not even allow it.  But again, the price without insurance was a lot less than my share with insurance so depending on how tight money is, you might find that it's not worth the hassle.

This post is not sponsored.  I bought the glasses on my own - both the Kate Spade's and the Zennis.  But if you want to try Zenni Optical and haven't yet, I do have a referral code (I'll get a few $ toward my next frames if you order your first frames using this link).  Even if you don't use my link, I'd still recommend them... seriously.    But if you are curious and want to get me the referral if you decide to order, then by all means please click  HERE.   They should have an offer for you, but I think it changes so I don't want to say what it is, just in case...

25 September 2016

Cotton Booty cloth diaper subscription box review

This is a long detailed review after 7 months of using a subscription service.  You have been warned.

Since we're adopting it makes buying baby gear tough.  We can't buy things like car seats or cribs because we don't know when we'll actually become parents.  It could be months or years.  It makes no sense to buy things that could be recalled before we even use them.  Newer and often better models of things come out.  But I did want to do something to start building our collection.  Things like cloth diapers and blankets seem safe.  So I looked around and found two cloth diaper subscription boxes.  That felt like a nice, slow, and easy on the budget way to at least build a decent diaper stash, giving us one less thing to worry about when it's finally time to buy baby items.  Especially handy if it happens suddenly - the less to worry about on (potentially) short notice, the better.

The first diaper subscription box that I found was Cotton Booty.  It appears to be the best know.  But most of the reviews appeared to be older -- as in years older.  It seems like maybe it was a thing for awhile, shut down, and then was restarted by someone else awhile later.

The second that I found was Fluff Envy.  I found even less current reviews for this subscription box, though I was slightly more interested in it.

I went back and forth and finally decided to go with what had reviews.  Cotton Booty, it was.   7 months in I do feel like I can review the service.  Not the diapers themselves, obviously.  Just the service.

First off, they offer two types of boxes:

Diaper only guarantees you at least one cloth diaper each month.  It is often supplemented with small toys, samples, accessories, or even a second diaper to meet the required value.  It runs $24.99 for the single option per month or $48.99 per month for the twin box.  I chose this single option in gender neutral.

The other box type is the "same old Cotton Booty" box, which is apparently how the service began.
This box is $5 more per month for single and $10 more for twin.  It is generally the same diaper(s) as the diaper only box but also includes an accessory.  Because I don't yet have a baby, I didn't feel it was really worth it for me to splurge as I've seen items like teething rub, diaper creams, as well as swaddle blankets.  Obviously the blanket is something I could save and use.  The rest is just something I won't need for quite some time, so it felt like too much of a gamble for me for now.

Before we get into the diapers I do want to say my only real concern with this service is their customer service is somewhat lacking.  I realize they're a small company which can be overwhelming  if it's just a few of them.  Also, to be honest I am sure the only problem I had is my fault, but I still had to threaten to quit to get a response after several emails with no response.  Once I did realize in the back and forth that I did obviously somehow (still don't know how) create two accounts and she was looking at one and me another -- hers the actual active, mine showed no info, I sorted my issue easily (an address change).  But not going to lie, it was a bit frustrating to get to that point.  Once I realized I needed to just delete the who knows how I had two accounts account and log into the actual account, it was all good.

Now, onto what I have gotten:
Month one:

March 2016 -
I was actually super excited about the first box.  My first box and it was two diaper covers.  I did not keep all of the cards they send with these, but luckily do have this one.  
They list the Retail Value as the MSRP which honestly on some brands is going to be truly what everyone charges and on some, will be off.  I've noticed some brands are pretty set in price no matter where you buy, others are much cheaper than the MSRP. 
Here they list the Imagine cover values at $25.98 for two, so $12.99 each.  Both Amazon and Kelly's Closet have this cover at $10.95.  So if I were to buy that cover, I'd actually pay $2 less each, $4 less total.  

It also came with an OsoCozy Organic Cotton prefold.  They list it at $4.49.  I am pretty sure (this) is that prefold, it's obviously sold in packs instead of individually.  The current price there on Amazon for the 6 pack would put it at $4.25 per prefold.  Not quite but close enough.

Also included was a OsoCozy Bamboo / Organic Cotton flat.  There were two different listings for this on Amazon, one was a a couple of $ cheaper, but were I ordering there, I'd spend the few extra $ to qualify for Prime shipping instead of ordering from a third party, so that would be (this listing), and would make each flat about $3.66.  In this case it would cost me more than their listed MSRP of $2.99. 

It also came a single diaper pin that they listed as a value of $0.99.   I'm willing to say it's a brand name pin - let's say this OzoCosy one given the prefold and flat.  That's put it at $0.50 or so.  I don't know the brand, honestly I am not sure where it is to see if there's any marks, etc.  It doesn't say on the card.

It should be noted they list the value of shipping as $5.  I'm not including that in the MSRP because honestly I just feel like people do whatever they can to avoid paying shipping including buying more.  So while they include it and I understand they pay that,  I wouldn't on other sites.  Feel free to add it in the MSRPs if you'd like.  It should be also be noted that realistically I'd still spend more on Amazon or Kelly's Closet as they don't break apart say the 6 piece packages of flats or prefolds generally, so I would have to buy a package there and not just one but for our purposes here, I'll pretend we can order one and divide the price from the package.

Totals for this box = 

Their listed MSRP before shipping: $39.45

I Paid: $24.99

If I bought it on Amazon: $30.31  

Overall = I got more than I paid for but less than the MSRP, which is what I expect generally.  MSRPs, as I said, tend to be the highest you would be paying at say a boutique style shop and even at that most don't go there, to be competitive.  I was happy with this box, especially given my hubby's obsession with baby elephants. 
Month Two:

April 2016 - 

Much shorter review with this one.  

I didn't keep the card on this one, so all I can do is a websearch.
The Tushmate website lists this price of this diaper as $25.98 (here).
The Blossoming Mama site (Cotton Booty's sister site / store) sells it at $25.99 (here).  So fair to assume they list the MSRP at $25.99.  Neither Amazon nor Kelly's closet has this exact diaper.  It seems to be a rarer one and the price seems to be about the norm.  So we'll just call it right around that $26 range is the norm.  And I pay $25 for the box.  So just above even.  Definitely a gorgeous diaper. 
Month Three: 

May 2016 - 

Unfortunately, I don't have the card for this one either.  It's an Apple Cheeks swim diaper.  On Amazon the price of the size 2 swim diaper is $19.50 (HERE).  Same price of $19.50 on Kelly's Closet (HERE).

The shark is a bathtub toy from Begin Again and can be found (HERE).  On their official site, it's $4.00.  On Amazon (HERE)  it's $8.99.  Not sure what to do with the price difference here.  If I were buying just the shark, on the official site, it would make my shipping $5 or $25 for 2-3 day but on Amazon it qualifies for Prime shipping, so there's that.   Kelly's Closet also has it for $4.00 (HERE), and again, you'd probably buy enough to get free shipping.  

The two sample are some sort of mosquito / bug repellant wipe thing.  Don't know, they kind of got set on my dresser and forgot about to be honest.

I don't like putting a value on the samples because I personally am never buying those.  The toy in this one, as I said, a bit weird in that half price on the actually company site, but shipping would get you.  Realistically if I bought this myself I'd go the Amazon or Kelly's Closet route so... I'd skip the shipping, would never buy samples.  For me this is a $23.50 box.  They have been paying shipping and there is the sample.  But like I said, I wouldn't buy that sample and don't pay shipping so...  While adorable and handy in a year round swim weather state, this is pretty much a couple dollar loss for me.
Month Four:

June 2016 - 

Also don't have the card on this one.  Found this one unique in that in researching diapers, I'd not yet run across diapers that were both snap and hook and loop (velcro). This Grovia O.N.E. has both.  Snaps are the main feature but at the waist it has snap in hook and loop allowing you to get a better fit if you prefer that.  Amazon has it (HERE) for $22.95 and Kelly's Closet has it (HERE) also for $22.95.  The bonus here was two loose leaf tea packets.  I honestly can't tell you anything about them as I cold brew tea, and while I tried that with these, they did not work out.  I do know that Amazon does sell the sample size packets and they run $3.00 as you can find one of the ones I received (HERE). 
That puts the value at $27.95 if I bought it myself.   While I probably wouldn't buy the teas myself because that size just doesn't work as a cold brew, that's fair enough for a box.  And I did like the diaper.  
Month Five:

July 2016 - 

I was extra excited for this.  Maybe that's why I kept the card?  Who knows, but somehow this card did get saved, so yay. 

The diaper is a Buttons Cover.  Animals.  Elephants and gators.  Relevant to the hubby again, so yay!  It came with a Hemp / Cotton large insert.  But it also came with a roll of flushable Bamboo liners.  

Disposable liners (please don't flush these liners or anything besides bathroom business and TP).  That said, I am excited to have some disposable liners for the cloth diapers.  I know what you're thinking -- doesn't that defeat the purpose of cloth?  Yes and no.  We live in Southern California.  It's generally Warm - HOT year round.  Cloth will be awesome most of the time.  I definitely never wanna get stuck walking to the store in 95 degree weather in an emergency diaper run.  But if we're say going to do a Disneyland trip where we're out all day in the heat?  I don't want to deal with trying to clean the diapers enough to get all stink out so they don't cook in the heat.   Because, yuck.  So disposable liners and inserts will be good for times like those.

They list the MSRP as: Diaper = $12.99, Insert = $7.99, Flushable liners = $6.99.   Total = $27.48 (+they add a $5 shipping value, which while fair, wouldn't apply to my other buying options).

Amazon Prices: Diaper = $13.00 (HERE), Insert = $23.95 for 3 averaging  $7.95 for one (HERE), Flushable liners = $8.50 (HERE).  Total = $29.45

Kelly's Closet Prices = not available there.
Month Six:

August 2016 - 

I can't even say anything but BATMAN!  I have a Superman tattoo.  Christopher Reeve is a personal hero of mine.  Getting Superman woulda been better, but as far as a close seconds as far as how a diaper looks?  Yeah, Batman is a very close second.  If there were a pure pop culture geek cloth diaper box, I'd have gone that route, so this?  Was so much YAY!  

Amazon Prices: Diaper = $20.56 (HERE).
Blossoming Mama (Cotton Booty sister site) price = $24.99 (HERE).
Kelly's closet: Unavailable

Given their price, I assume that's what they have the MSRP at ($24.99).  It's not what I would be paying, but fair enough for their purposes.

Month Seven:
September 2016 -

Apple Cheeks Size 2 Envelop cover.  Eh.  Plain.  Bright.  Don't love it.  Don't hate it.  Pretty neutral on this one.

It came with a Apple Cheeks stay dry insert that is not pictured because I had already put it in the laundry.

There was also "assorted samples" listed at 99 cents.  It was a tiny diaper cream packet that I, personally, would never buy.  Can't review it obviously but it's definitely one use if that. I did, to be fair, try to google that size and the sites that did sell it, now list it as discontinued or no longer available and the official site lets you order a free sample (HERE) though admittedly, there form makes no sense.

Their listed MSRP:  Diaper cover = $19.99, Insert = $4.99, Samples = $0.99 Total before shipping = $25.97.  That padding of the sample is questionable, because honestly I'm not going to find it at Amazon or buy it.  Really the total for me is $24.98

Amazon Prices:  Diaper cover = $20.00 (HERE), Insert 2 pack= $11.95 ($5.98 each) (HERE). Total = $25.98

Kelly's Closet Price: Diaper cover = $20.00 (HERE), Insert = Insert = $5.00 (HERE).  Total = $25.

Cheapest here is the Cotton Booty box.

So what do I think after seven months?  Mixed feelings.  The Batman diaper was obviously a win, but I would have found it on my own and for less.  The other wins I might not have ever looked for, so that's good.  But I also find things that are more us when I do look.   And often for less than the price of the box.  I think I will keep it through the year, and then either switch to Fluff Envy for a bit or just take that $25 and make that my allowance for diapers myself.  Sure, I lose the element of surprise, but I think in this case, we end up with more us diapers.   If you're only going for the element of surprise, it's a great thing.  If you're going for value it's borderline.  If you're going for diapers that are very much you?  Eh, depends.  If I were rating it out of 10 stars, I'd go 7 overall but their customer service is more like a 4 -- great once you get their attention but good luck doing that.  If you don't need to help with anything though?  It's a lovely service.

24 September 2016

Don't take money for reviews.

Since I ditched my domain as an actual site years ago, I don't think anyone is around here anymore.  It's pretty neglected since I just plopped it on Blogger.  So, why not make it my rant site for today.  Maybe I'll start using it again.  We're trying to adopt so there are things to talk about, or will be.  We're pretty early in the process.  But that's not why I am here today.  Today is about reviews.

I'm a member of Amazon's Vine program.  You've surely seen the bright green tag on reviews that announces it's a Vine member's review of a free product provided for review.  Many people feel that means we're bought and paid for.  I assure, it does not.  I do only request items that I want to review.  I'm not going to say "sure, I'll review that football", because I don't play football, have no interest in football, etc etc.  Also the item itself may be free but it's taxable.  So tax time, we do have to cough up the tax.  Anyway, the point is if the reviews lean positive it's probably because people are choosing items they want.  But if they get an item that sucks, they do tend to say that.  It's why they're in the program and kept there.

There are a lot of people nowadays though who buy reviews.  That's much different from giving you a free item.   Most reputable sites do not allow cash or gift cards for reviews.  A free item?  Yes, but in the United States this must be disclosed.  It's the law.  That way you all you can decide if you think that affected our review.    As it's gotten more and more obvious that people are paying, many have started ignoring reviews altogether.  Which is sad.  People do actually put time into those.  I do  understand the distrust though.  Oh hey this book with a preview that kind of sucks or worse, that has no preview at all, and a vague description and vague reviews has 5 stars or nearly 5.  That's totally not suspicious.  I've gotten okay at skimming different types of reviews for authenticity.  We're all not professional writers.  We're not all masters of English.  I will find typos in my reviews only after posting.  It can be tough.  Maybe we look like frauds too.  We tend to be less vague, but some items are,  however, just tough to review.

So yesterday I get an unsolicited e-mail on behalf of an author I've never heard of, one with few reviews.  Odd.  Wouldn't have bothered me.  It's happened a few times before.  What did bother me is that it went above and beyond the usual request which is "If we send you our book will you read it and review it" along with a description.   This one was offering me a gift card for my time.  Granted a modest one.  What could that hurt?

It could hurt a lot.  As I said, most of us, no matter how good or bad are reviews are do take them seriously.  When people are offering a few bucks here and a few bucks there to people who will then feel obligated to just write up any old vague nice review it hurts those of us who actually read and review items.

I know life can be expensive.  A few dollars here and there can add up.  Don't do it!  There's plenty of way to get that (I can recommend some survey sites, for example) without harming the work that others legitimately put into site.  We write reviews for a reason.  When we go to buy something we read them.  You surely won't be disclosing the money you're getting on sites like Amazon as that goes against their TOS.  It also goes against the law to not disclose.  You're screwing us all if you accept offers like the one I got.

19 August 2016

A woman is like...

A woman is like a tea bag - you can't tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water. ~ Eleanor Roosevelt 

17 June 2016

It's summertime...

So summer in California means FREAKING HOT.  Having MS in FREAKING HOT weather = not so good.  Since we just moved from a place with central air to a place with a one room hotel style unit? And we moved a little more inland?  Yeah I'm more than a little anxious about that.  So I researched cooling towels.

There seems to be no in-between with these.  People either swear by the or swear claim they're a scam.

I decided to go with the lowest price one that I could find with what seemed to be a high number of legitimate reviews.  That ended up being the Ergodyne Chill-Its® 6602 Evaporative Cooling Towel.  I got it in orange.  It appears to be the more common material for these towels.  And that material feels pretty similar to a yoga mat.  Wearing a doll/kid sized yoga mat is around your neck is not really the most comfortable thing ever but...

Once I started using it, the fact that it was yoga mat-like  drifted away.  After following the directions and activating it with warm water?  Surprisingly cool.  I am not using it outside until I have to.  As of now I can only say that it lasted me 3 hours inside.  At that point I did re-wet it but the ends of it were still pretty cool.  I get the most benefit from it at the back of my neck so once that dried up?  It didn't matter to me that some was still cool, it was time to re-activate it.

Because this was right around $8 at Amazon I can see myself buying more of these the next time I have family coming down.  We end up at places like Disneyland or Universal Studios for hours, if not all day.  That means fighting over the water misting personal fan.  I feel like, while I wouldn't get rid of that fan, these would definitely help a lot.

I do want to, at some point, try the Mission Enduracool towel as it seems like more of a tradtional  fabric.  It's also a bit more expensive.  And the more I look at them, the more I think I might someday get the Mission Multi-cool (I like that its a solid tube so it'd be around my neck instead of hanging down + could be pulled up over my hair).  Not sure I really need it since I have the Ergodyne one.  The fabric is the only thing tempting me to buy a Mission one... We'll see.  I'm just glad this one arrived in time for the heat.  Heat is no joke for more folk.  For those of us with illnesses that are affected by the heat it's even more serious.  Stay cool this summer!

*UPDATE*  I did try the mission Multi-cool.  While more comfy that the Ergodyne Chill-Its, I found it to be a waste of money as it doesn't keep me nearly as cool as the Chill-Its did.

10 June 2016

Mandalas to Crochet (Book Review)

I bought Mandalas to Crochet because I was drooling over some crochet mandalas online.

What I expected: gorgeous mandalas, preferably some with the fancy overlay look.

What the book actually is: some pretty designs and some filler.

The prettiest design is one called "vintage vibes" and while not the fanciest design ever, it still definitely met my expectations. If the book were full of designs like that one, it'd be 5 stars.

Unfortunately there's more than a few that are simple flat circles. In skimming, a few times I found myself asking didn't I already see this? While it turned out there were minor stitch differences they still felt repetitive. So too, the designs using very small circles felt unnecessary - the kind of thing anyone who just learned to crochet would do on their own.

Overall: while I do feel like a few patterns were a waste of space that should have been put to better use, this is an okay book. It has both charts and written instructions for every design. They're clear and easy to read. Most should be simple enough for beginners. You wouldn't be ashamed of anything you made out of this book, though more than a few you probably don't even need a pattern for. The more open pieces (vs just flat, round, and striped) are really pretty.

This is the first mandala I created from the book.  Any goofs are mine and not the fault of the book.  Also, I have a cat helper, so... there's that.

08 April 2016

Pentel Multi 8

As mentioned in my last post, I am a bit obsessed with colored leads.  I bought the set of Pilot Color Eno pencils and a set of replacement leads.

Then I discovered the Pentel Multi 8 lead holder and ordered it.  

Here's the package the Multi 8 arrived in:

It comes with the lead holder itself already filled with one of each of the 8 colored leads, 2 replacement leads of each color, a sharpener, and the manual.

Like the Pilot Color Eno pencils, this is a Japanese import.  There is a similar product on the American market  called Pentel Arts 8 Color Automatic Pencil (some people I've seen refer to it as a Bible highlighter).  Both seem to use the exact same refills.  There are also violet leads available if you just want to swap one out for it.

Color Eno vs Pentel Multi-8:

I went ahead and wrote the names of each lead color, then colored a small section with just a bit of pressure and almost no pressure, and finally drew two lines with each color again one with a little pressure and one with no real pressure.

It should be noted that the Pilot Color Eno pencils are a .7 lead while the Pentel Multi-8 is a 2 mm lead.

The color Eno leads were a little less vibrant, but again are also smaller leads. The Eno came with violet while the Multi-8 came with brown.

The main different is definitely the fact that the Eno has a different pencil for each color.  You could obviously just buy the .7 replacement leads and use them in any .7 pencil.  You'd be swapping leads constantly if you wanted to make a multi color drawing, so it's better to just have one pencil for each color.  The Multi-8, however, fits 8 leads into one pencil.

The Multi-8 reminds me of the classic Bic 4-color pen.  It is a little more complicated than that pen.  If you have kids around you'll want to teach them how to use it so that it doesn't end up broken.

The pen clip turns.  Put it on the color you want (make sure there are no leads currently out), press the button on top and the lead will basically fall all of the way out to the little metal piece at the bottom of the lead.  Pressing the button again and tipping the pencil over will allow you leave just the amount out that you need.  The lead will not slide out thanks to the aforementioned metal piece.  To remove / change the lead you need to turn the button so that the little line is on the color you have out / are replacing.  It will now easily slide out.  To replace just leave that mark lined up with the color, slide the new lead in through the bottom of the pencil and continue as usual. I highly recommend placing the lead back up inside after each use so that you don't accidentally try ejecting another color the next time you go use it.  Like most mechanical pencils, just press the button on top of the pencil then tip the pencil upside down to ensure that the lead goes back all the up inside of the switching mechanism.

Prices at the time I bought them:

The color eno set of 8 pencils = $ 10.68
Set of replacement leads for the eno: $15.47 (10 of each color)

The Multi-8 with a sharpener and replacements for each of the 8 colors = $22.75

While I didn't buy it, the Pentel Arts 8 color (American version of the Multi-8) was $10.99 at the same time, didn't come with a sharpener or replacement leads. Replacement leads were $14.39.  So the American version with the same number of leads would have been a couple $ more and that's without the sharpener.

Which would I buy again? 
Honestly, had I found the Multi-8 first, I probably would have never bought the Color Eno set.  It's much more convenient space wise.  The 2 mm leads give a much more vibrant color.  The only real advantage to the Eno set is that you get more leads in the replacement packs (10 vs 2) but the Multi 8 has much stronger thicker leads so I am not sure that's really the advantage it seems.