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Frigidaire Ultra Anti-Allergen-220 4-Stage AHAM-Certified Tower Air Cleaner / Air Purifier FRAP22D7OB
Frigidaire Ultra Anti-Allergen-220 4-Stage AHAM-Certified Tower Air Cleaner / Air Purifier FRAP22D7OB
Price: $121.88

3.0 out of 5 stars Feels like a pump, looks like a speaker., May 12, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I've been using a Honeywell HEPA filter for years (the Honeywell Long-Life Pure HEPA QuietCare Air Purifier, 17000). Inasmuch as it sounds like a jet engine, and looks like an orthopedic shoe, however, and inasmuch as the filters and pre-filters (purchased separately) aren't cheap (even on Amazon), I was thrilled to get this air filter to compare. I guess I got a bad one.

The general whooshing noise is definitely quieter on the Frigidare filter as compared to the Honeywell, and, on the "quiet" setting is barely noticeable. There is another noise, however, kind of a high-pitched whine, that is quite noticeable and annoying. It's actually worse on the quiet setting, since there is no whoosh to drown it out. Turning on and off the ionization and UV didn't change this, nor did opening the device and re-seating the paper filter insert. Nothing appears to be loose. It just whines. Did I get a bad one, or is my hearing just more sensitive?

WRT to other operations, the Honeywell pushes the air out almost straight up, and sucks it in from the side. The Frigidaire pulls air in one side and pushes it out the other - hard enough that you could use it for a room fan. My general sense (given allergies and asthma) is that the Honeywell does a better job of clearing pollen and dust, but the Honeywell doesn't have the UV or ionization features, so wouldn't work as well on smaller particles. The filters are also much more expensive, compared to the Frigidaire - Genuine Frigidaire 68661 Allergen and Foam Air Cleaner Filters for FRAP18K5OB and FRAP22D7OB, 1 Allergen and 1 Pre-Filter. (They recommend you buy a new filter pack every year- consider this when comparing cost).

As noted in the title, the Frigidaire is much prettier. I am, however, sticking with the Honeywell.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 15, 2015 9:22 PM PDT

Lifeproof LifeActiv Belt Clip with Quickmount - Mount - Retail Packaging - Black
Lifeproof LifeActiv Belt Clip with Quickmount - Mount - Retail Packaging - Black
Price: $29.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The cure for the self-launching phone, May 10, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
My phone lives in the left side pocket of my cargo pants. But, when I get into my car, it launches itself out of the left side pocket, and plays hide and seek on the floor of the car. As such, I was delighted to get this clip to review.

The clip is actually a threefer - it works as a belt clip, with a slot that's about two inches long and a quarter inch wide, in which case you twist the phone 90 degrees to get it to release from the clip; it works as a pocket clip, since the outside of the clip opens up, in which case you pry open the very stiff clip but leave it attached to the phone; and it also works as a kickstand, propping up the phone in landscape mode, which makes up for the fact that the anchor glued to the back of your phone case means the phone will no longer lay flat. So far so good.

Nothing is perfect, however, The quick-release mechanism consists of a hard plastic square that glues to the back of your phone case (in my case, an Otterbox Commuter), and a magnetic/mechanical socket for that plastic square on the back of the clip. Good in that the clip can be attached to the phone in any of the four orientations, and can be removed with a simple twist. Bad in that this assembly sits above the surface of the phone case, which creates a second slot that catches on your belt or pocket or whatever, which then forces you to use two hands when clipping on your phone - one to hold the phone, and one to guide the fabric or belt (See picture. Orange not included).

Nothing is perfect, and holding the pocket fabric while I'm attaching the phone is still better than going phone-fishing under the carseat. But I'm looking forward to the next iteration.
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Lior Organic Date Syrup, 14.1 Ounce
Lior Organic Date Syrup, 14.1 Ounce
Price: $20.16
2 used & new from $19.95

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just really delicious, May 7, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I'm allergic to honey, so I'm always looking for other similar things to use as an alternative. This stuff is just wonderful.

The syrup tastes a lot like dark (grade B) maple syrup, just a bit thicker and fruitier. It's *really* good on Greek yogurt, and it's a natural combination with tahini on pita (the middle eastern equivalent of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich). I haven't tried making baklava with it, but given the taste I think it would work well. (Ok, I confess, sometimes I just squeeze a shot directly into my mouth. At least it's healthier than the aerosol cheese).

The squeeze bottle is a little stiff, but I keep it upside down in the fridge and so far it hasn't had a leakage problem. The price for a bottle on Amazon is quite variable, so it's worth keeping track of that for a week or two, or waiting for it to be available as an add-on. Otherwise, however, this stuff rocks.

Gaiam Yoga Eye Pillow, Purple Batik
Gaiam Yoga Eye Pillow, Purple Batik
Price: $12.18
2 used & new from $11.98

3.0 out of 5 stars Great idea, one flaw., April 17, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
When I get a migraine, I really just want everything to shut up and go away. I was hoping this pillow would help - gentle calming aroma, a nice cool surface, a wide shape and dark fabric that helps shut out the light, and relatively heavy stuffing that keeps it all in place. Unfortunately, what it doesn't have is a removable and washable cover. For regular yoga cushions I don't mind - I'm generally sitting on those.. But, migraine or laying-down-asana, this is sitting on your face. So, if you care about such things, I can't recommend this without a cover (and, if you're Gaiam's media liaison, I'm not the only one who wants this).

Some other reviewers seem to have gotten a much more strongly scented pillow, Mine has a gentle smell, not at all egregious. And I guess I'll do what my grandmother did with similarly scented things, and leave it in my lingerie drawer as a sachet.
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Black & Decker EHC3002B Glass Bowl Chopper, Black
Black & Decker EHC3002B Glass Bowl Chopper, Black
Price: $32.93
20 used & new from $23.73

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Burned out the motor, bought another one, March 27, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
We're a hummus, tzatziki, and pimiento cheese eating household, so when I saw this newly released on Amazon I jumped on it. A month later it self-destructed (stalled, grinding/slipping gear noise, actual *smoke* wafting from the motor housing). I bought another one.

The chopper has to be coddled:

- Big chunks won't chop efficiently. My pimiento cheese recipe calls for an eight ounce brick of cheddar, and I cut that into half-inch chunks before putting it in the chopper. For tzatziki the cucumber gets cored, and then cut into quarters. I have managed to get it to chop bigger pieces, but it's not worth the time you spend scraping stuff down (see second item).

- You have to scrape stuff down. The above-mentioned cheese chunks get put in the bowl with two ounces of cream cheese, and two ounces of mayo. The resulting mash really likes sticking to the clear plastic shield/lid of the chopper, or to the side of the bowl above the blades. So, after about ten seconds of processing I open the bowl and scrape the chunks back down (takes about four iterations before the cheese is chopped enough to stay put at the bottom of the bowl). The cukes have a similar problem, and so would any wet-ish vegetable.

- You can't process tiny amounts. Some of the recipes in the included pamphlet call for chopping one clove of garlic. Forget it. The tips of the blades are about a quarter-inch away from the inside of the glass bowl, and the clove will get cut into roughly eight pieces, all of which will then stick to the sides. Much better to use a garlic press right into the bowl with the other ingredients. (See photo for how the blades look in the bowl).

- You can't process huge amounts either. Three cups is about max for pastes, less for liquids.

- You can't process for more than about thirty seconds at a time. If you hold down one of the buttons the machine will process continuously, but the motor gets hot, and needs to rest and cool down (which is fine, since you're going to be scraping the sides down anyway).

- The "safety" feature is just a cutoff in the blade assembly that keeps it from rotating unless the blade shaft is being pressed down. Putting the entire chopper together will do that, but if you leave the shield off the blades will move anyway, and, if you were so inclined, you could get the blades to rotate by just pressing up on the bottom of the shaft with your hand (DO NOT try this at home).

- Not a coddle issue, but, while the bowls and lids look just like the Pyrex four-cup equivalents, they are B&D branded and apparently made in China. :-(

So, why am I buying another one? Because the bowls, blade, shield, and gasket, basically everything that touches the food, can go right in the dishwasher, and the bowls come with lids and can go right in the fridge. Also, I vastly prefer processing food in glass (though of course the blade assembly has a plastic shaft, but at least it's not polycarbonate). I sincerely hope Black & Decker will continue this line with a bigger bowl and a more powerful motor. For now, this is filling the spot in my batterie de kitchenette between the immersion blender and the mandoline, and it will stay there.


Pimiento cheese recipe: eight ounce brick of supermarket cheddar (chunked), two ounces of cream cheese, two ounces of mayo, teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce, shake of paprika, shake of cayenne (to taste), four whole pimiento peppers (from the jar). Process everything but the pimientos until smooth. Add the pimientos and pulse a few times until they shred.

Tzatziki: Two regular cucumbers (seeded and peeled, cut into quarters), clove of garlic (pressed), juice of a half a large lemon (or a very small one), two cups of Greek yogurt, salt to taste. Pulse the cukes, lemon juice, and pressed garlic until it looks grated, Take the lid off the chopper and mix in yogurt and salt by hand (don't process the yogurt, or you will have delicious cucumber soup).
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Ball Jar Ball Heritage Collection Pint Jars with Lids and Bands, Purple, Set of 6
Ball Jar Ball Heritage Collection Pint Jars with Lids and Bands, Purple, Set of 6
Price: $8.79
18 used & new from $8.79

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Purple!, March 23, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
The purple jars are very rich and pretty, almost an amethyst color. The other two colors are lighter. The green is not quite Coke-bottle color, more Mountain Dew. The blue is almost an electric blue - not what I would expect to see in a vintage jar.

In shape and form these jars are about the same as regular Ball mason jars - they hold a pint, they have the Ball logo on one side, and they have ounce and milliliter measuring marks (on two sides for the blue, and one side for the green and purple). The fourth side says "1913-1915/100 years of American heritage/Made in USA." The jars come with canning lids and rings, and will take Ball storage caps. The plastic caps from most pint and quart sized glass mayonnaise jars also fit.

We use Ball jars for drinking glasses (hot and cold) as well as storage, and I've bought a six pack every time a new color came out. They definitely add a bit of elegance to the iced tea. (I really wish the company would extend this for another year and have amber glass jars too).
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Corel Painter Essentials 5
Corel Painter Essentials 5
Price: $38.33
27 used & new from $35.02

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bitmaps only. Fun toy. But basically a teaser for Corel Painter., March 3, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
PC-based graphic artists have been hit with two frustrations in recent years - Adobe's heinous new pricing scheme, and Microsoft's slightly less heinous reworking of MS Paint. I had high hopes that this program would help address the first issue. No such luck. But it's an awesome Paint program.

WRT Photoshop - the program claims Photoshop compatibility, and this is true, inasmuch as it can open .psd files. It even preserves layers. What it doesn't do is bring in anything path- or object-based -- no splines, no fills, no reshaping, no manipulations that aren't bitmap/pixel rendering. If you thought the price for this as a Photoshop replacement was too good to be true, you were right.

WRT Paint - this does everything you ever wanted from that toy. Layers (as mentioned above), a much less useless zoom feature, all sorts of fun brushes and effects (with stylus pressure support), pixel-based transforms, and even a better-designed color mixer. Sweet.

Once I stopped expecting too much from it, the program was a lot of fun to play with, with a few annoyances. First annoyance -- the help function takes you to the help files for Painter itself, not Essentials. So, you will read about this cool feature, and then, at the bottom of the page, be presented with an apologetic "Some features described in the Help are available only in Corel Painter 2015, and are not included in Painter Essentials 5. For more information about Corel Painter 2015, visit" (which is a store link). Essentials is the teaser for the more expensive program (which does support paths), and Corel makes no attempt to hide this. Second, as with all Corel's graphics programs, this software can only be installed once. Were you planning on changing machines any time soon? Well, unless the first machine fails catastrophically, you can't take this with you.

Given the relatively low price of this package, I would still recommend it to budding artists and fingerpainting kids of all ages. It's not a professional tool, however, and doesn't really claim to be.

(Note - if you're looking for a real artist tool in this price range, check out Autodesk's Sketchbook Pro. That has a much steeper learning curve, and is still bitmap-based, but does a much better job of emulating a real drawing board workflow.)

Kenwood BLM800GY Kenwood Blend-X Pro Blender, Silver
Kenwood BLM800GY Kenwood Blend-X Pro Blender, Silver
Offered by Nation Mart
Price: $349.99
6 used & new from $349.99

19 of 31 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Powerfull motor, misleading claims, February 13, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I've been using the same Cuisinart blender for a couple of decades, because it has a glass jar, and because it lets you select the speed with a slider instead of buttons. Needless to say, I was ecstatic to get this modern equivalent to compare. I am now less ecstatic.

Form Factor:

- The machine is about eighteen inches high, so it will fit neatly under your upper kitchen cabinets.

- The non-glass parts appear to be ABS plastic, or silicone. Both are relatively innocuous plastics (unlike PVC or polycarbonate).

- The glass "goblet" is a heavy beast, actually heavier than the base, which makes the blender a bit top heavy. OTOH the goblet also has a wide bottom and is stable standing on its own, which is a feature.

- The goblet can be dishwasher-ed, but according to the instructions the blade assembly has to be hand washed (bummer).

- There is a stirring wand that fits into the hole in the lid (usually covered by the fill cap), so that, when you're making soups or smoothies, you can stir up the blender contents while the blender is running. I would have liked to see a holder for this on the side or back of the machine, but no such luck.


- Knob. When I saw the picture of the machine I was worried that the pulse function was a big button in the middle of the knob (which, given my shiny granite counters, would have left me chasing the machine all over the kitchen). Not so. The knob gets turned counter-clockwise to pulse, and clockwise to select either "on" (which activates the program buttons), or, past that, to select a range from min to max. Nicely done. HOWEVER - the labels for these settings are not incised in any way, they're simply printed onto the rim of the knob, right where your fingers are going to grip the knob to turn it. It's not clear how long those labels are going to last.

- Buttons. Once the knob is set to "on," the six program buttons light up. Once a button is pushed, that button will remain lit while the program runs its course, and the others will temporarily darken - all will turn back on again once the program is done. Since the programs stop and re-start the motor, I strongly suggest you train yourself to check the button lights to see if a program is done, not just listen to the motor noise and look at the goblet contents, lest you open the goblet prematurely and be rudely surprised.


- Leakage. The motor is powerful enough to torque the machine sideways when starting up, which I thought was pretty cool, until, after about 20 minutes of putting the blender through its paces, I noticed my counter (and floor) filling with water. The motor is also powerful enough to loosen the blade assembly from the bottom of the goblet - if you are going to do several blends one after the other, I suggest you stop periodically to retighten everything. There is what appears to be a vent hole on the lower back of the base, which, it turns out, is actually a drain for the goblet socket. (Much better to have liquid pouring out the bottom of the base than potentially running into the motor). There does not appear to be any way to get into that channel to clean it, if your leak involves something other than water. I fear for what the starting jerk is going to do to the plastic chassis in the long run.

- Capacity. The promo picture for this blender shows it full of neatly cracked ice. Which I'm assuming the photographer got from the ice machine down the hallway. According to the included instructions, the machine's "max. recommend capacity" for crushing ice is 200 grams, or seven ounces. This will get you one margarita. The capacity is the same for grinding nuts, spices, and coffee beans, and slightly higher (250 grams/nine ounces) for chopping vegetables. Only cold liquids can be blended at the full (more than 1.5 quart) capacity of the machine. As a side note, the instructions are kind enough to translate the Metric grams into ounces for us Americans, but those ounces refer to weight not volume.

- Performance. Other reviewers have already sung the praises of the blender when making cream soups and smoothies. Since the machine will also grind spices and coffee beans, I tried it out with some dry rice on that setting to see if I could get a coarse rice meal to make idli. The result was excellent - coarser than rice flour, but a bit finer than commercial cream of rice cereal, and very consistent. Trying to crack rice to make jook was less wonderful, inasmuch as I used the pulse function, and got lots of whole grains mixed in with the pieces. In both cases, the seven ounce limit means the process will be a tad frustrating.

If this were a hundred dollar blender, I would have no qualms about giving it five stars. For this price, however, given the machine's limitations, I can't recommend it to someone looking for a versatile kitchen appliance. If all you wanted was a really pretty smoothie maker, go for it.
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A Blink of the Screen: Collected Shorter Fiction
A Blink of the Screen: Collected Shorter Fiction
by Terry Pratchett
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.31
70 used & new from $12.57

4.0 out of 5 stars A great gift for the budding SF writer in your life, January 31, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
It's not unusual for an anthology to span a writer's career. Somewhat more unusual for it to start in high school. This one does, and, as the author himself admits, the early stuff is terrible. (I'm not complaining mind you - the first couple of stories are actually charming, in a teenaged author kind of way).

Each story in this collection starts with a bit of commentary: sometimes a self-critique, sometimes a note about the real-world inspiration for the piece, sometimes a bit of context. Budding writers will enjoy reading about someone else's underpinnings, and misgivings. Authors are people too.

The timeline of the stories runs from 1963 to 2009. Roughly the last third of the book is set in Discworld, including some previously unpublished outtakes.


OXO Good Grips All-in-Reach Shower Shelf
OXO Good Grips All-in-Reach Shower Shelf
Price: $34.99
2 used & new from $34.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Works great with my Aquasana water filter. And my extra-tall partner., January 6, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
We have a complicated shower - there's an Aquasana water filter attached to the showerhead, a handshower with a hose, and a border on the (fake, acrylic) tiles that sticks out a bit from the wall. In addition, there is a Very Tall Person using the shower who really wants his shelves and such to be a bit higher than typical. So, I was a bit concerned that this Oxo Shower Shelf wouldn't fit.

It fits beautifully. There's plenty of clearance for the filter. The wire support doesn't interfere with the hose (though the filter pushes the clamp forward a bit, which also helps). And the whole thing sits a little bit away from the wall, due to the thickness of the suction cups, which is just enough to clear the tile border.

The designers didn't build in any height adjustment. What we did (which seems to be working) is to snap off the hook/clamp that's supposed to be at the top, to attach to your showerhead pipe, and move it to the wire on the side. This gave us a couple of inches, though it does mean the shelf is a tad off-center.

I do wish there was a real way to adjust the height, or even other versions of the shelf for higher or lower placements. So 4.5 stars. But for you average folks, this is recommended.
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