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Customer Reviews: 677
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Kathy Cunningham RSS Feed (Bowie, MD USA)
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   

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Hefty Steelsak Drawstring Trash Bags, 30 Gallon, 15 Count
Hefty Steelsak Drawstring Trash Bags, 30 Gallon, 15 Count
Price: $8.49
7 used & new from $8.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Super strong trash bags, September 1, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I have to admit that I usually buy whatever trash bags are on sale - they're trash bags, after all, so as long as they don't fall apart before I get them out to the curb for pick-up, I'm happy. That said, there's no doubt that you get what you pay for. Generic and store brand trash bags are generally thinner and more likely to split. These Hefty SteelSak bags are definitely high end - they're very heavy, double-reinforced, and they hold a lot of trash. I was able to stuff four rooms full of trash (including my overflowing kitchen trash) into one of these, making for a very easy trash day.

I usually prefer the so-called "flap tie" trash bags, which seem less likely to tear than the drawstring ties, like these have. But the very heavy weight of the plastic eliminates that problem. These tie easily and securely, and the bags are easy to carry.

The big test for me, however, is how these bags fare with our crows. Crows are very smart birds, and they seem to know which days are trash pick-up days. They are usually waiting in the trees across the street from my house before I even put out my trash. They have no problem at all tearing apart those white kitchen bags and making a huge mess, and they've had some fun with some of the black trash bags I've used over the years. Since I don't have one of those huge plastic trash cans, I depend on heavier trash bags to protect my trash from the hungry crows. Well, these are great! The crows flew around them for a bit, but gave up pretty quickly and moved on to my neighbor's house. That's a big selling point for me!

Bottom line, these are great trash bags. They are more expensive than the bags I usually buy, but I figure they'll be on sale someday and I can stock up! They definitely live up to their name!


Scotch-Brite Extreme Shine Pad
Scotch-Brite Extreme Shine Pad
Price: $3.19

3.0 out of 5 stars Works well on stainless steel sinks -- keep it away from your fancy appliances!, August 31, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I have a fairly old stainless steel sink in my kitchen, and it hasn't been "shiny" in years. This Scotch-Brite product says it does a great job on stainless steel sinks, so I thought I'd give it a try.

The instructions suggest trying it first on an "inconspicuous" spot, to make sure it won't scratch the surface. That seemed odd to me, since it's being advertised for stainless steel sinks, but I followed the directions and tried it first on the back side of the sink. The little sponge has a scrubbing side that is somewhat abrasive, but it's nothing like a Brillo pad. As instructed, I wet the sponge and added a few drops of dish liquid to the scrubbing surface. Then I put in a little elbow grease and sure enough, it did a really nice job. Once I finished the entire sink, it really did look better than it has in ages. I wouldn't say it was exactly "shiny" -- in fact, once it dried, the surface definitely looked matte. But it was clean and smooth-looking. It did a nice job.

But beware -- the instructions are clear that while this sponge is good for sinks and pots, it's not for use on stainless steel appliances, or chrome, or any non-stick surfaces. That means it's necessary to keep this thing separate from cleaning products I might use on my appliances. It also means letting everyone in the household know what this sponge can and can't be used for. And that might be a problem.

There's nothing particularly magical about this product. It's a sponge with an abrasive side that helps smooth over defects in sinks. The advertising on the back of the package says it can remove hard-water stains -- I didn't have much luck with that. But maybe I didn't scrub hard enough!

Bottom line, this is a decent little sponge that did a nice job on my sink. There are just a few too many warnings on the label to make me comfortable with keeping it in my kitchen.


HOVEOX Men's Wallet Pu Leather Credit Card Billfold Money Purse
HOVEOX Men's Wallet Pu Leather Credit Card Billfold Money Purse
Offered by Rellygonecy
Price: $8.88
2 used & new from $7.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Attractive wallet, but it's larger than expected, August 31, 2015
This wallet is advertised as being made of "PU leather." According to Wikipedia, PU leather is "a material made with a split leather backing covered with a layer of polyurethane (hence the term `PU leather') that is applied to the surface and then embossed." In other words, while there is a leather backing, the actual surface of the wallet is made of polyurethane. It is embossed to look like real leather, and it does feel like leather. There's also a leathery smell. For the price, this is a nice looking wallet, even if it isn't real leather.

That said, the wallet I received for review is the one with the front snap - it's definitely larger than a traditional men's wallet (both in dimensions and in thickness). It measures 3.75"x5", and it's 1.25" thick, even empty (my husband's current wallet measures 3.5"x4", and it's .75" thick, fully loaded). I had my husband try the new wallet out and he was immediately put off by the size. It doesn't fit well in a pants pocket. Additionally, there's a little coin pouch inside the wallet with a snap that is ridiculously tight - it is tight enough to risk tearing the "leather" in trying to get the pouch open. Neither my husband nor I could figure out why this little coin pouch was part of this wallet - men usually carry loose coins in their pockets. Putting coins into the pouch would simply make the wallet heavier and more bulky than it already is.

But the biggest negative about this wallet is the lack of good, easy-access slots for credit cards and other cards routinely carried in a wallet. There are only three slots, plus two plastic-covered compartments for driver's license or other picture ID (there is an odd bit of "leather" in the corner of both compartments that obscures the photograph in my husband's driver's license, making the compartments less useful than they would otherwise be). My husband's current wallet has five card slots in addition to the driver's license compartment.

Bottom line, this is a nice looking wallet at a very reasonable price. If you don't mind the large size and the thickness (and you don't need too many slots for cards), this will do the job. Be advised that the four different color options for this wallet are really for four completely different wallets. It's very possible that the other three wallets (the ones without the front snap) are sized better and would work better for most men. This review is specific to the brown wallet with the front snap.

[Please note: I was provided a sample of this product for review; the opinions expressed here are my own.]


Not If I See You First
Not If I See You First
by Eric Lindstrom
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $13.50

4.0 out of 5 stars Engaging look at living through adversity -- there are many kinds of blindness, August 30, 2015
This review is from: Not If I See You First (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Eric Lindstrom's NOT IF I SEE YOU FIRST is a YA novel about sixteen-year-old Parker Grant, who has lived through more trauma in her short life than most of us will ever experience. She lost her mother and her sight when she was seven, and she lost her beloved father at the end of her sophomore year of high school, just three months before the novel begins. But most traumatic of all, it seems, is the loss of her eighth grade BFF and boyfriend, Scott Kilpatrick, who apparently betrayed her when they were both thirteen. Parker has a die-hard set of rules by which she lives, and Scott broke the first one: "Don't deceive me. Ever. Especially using my blindness. Especially in public." Breaking this rule earns Scott the title of "Parker Enemy Number One," and she has vowed never to speak to him again, and never ever to forgive him.

Much of this novel explores what it's like to be a blind teenager, maneuvering the ins and outs of high school, friends, and family without the ability to see. Parker is determined to be a self-sufficient young woman - she has actually figured out how to run on her own without crashing into anything and killing herself! She has a "Star Chart" she keeps in her bedroom to track (with little gold stars) the number of days she gets through without crying (since she sees crying as a form of weakness and loss of control). And she has a fabulous and supportive network of friends. But she can't seem to forget Scott, the boy who let her down. She tries dating a cute guy she meets in a shoe store, and for a while it looks like she might actually find a way to move beyond that eighth grade moment of horror. But Scott is always there. And Parker begins to wonder whether her refusal to allow him to explain what really happened back when they were thirteen might have been a mistake. Could her blindness go beyond her visual impairment?

I enjoyed the parts of this novel that focused on Parker's struggle with being blind and parentless. She's an admirable character, even if she's a bit of a control freak (it totally makes sense that she would need to be in control of her environment, since her blindness puts her at a definite disadvantage). But I had a little trouble with the teen angst elements of the novel, including her relationship with Scott. She and Scott had been friends for years before the event that shattered everything. It was a little hard to believe that she wouldn't give him a chance to explain himself, that she would just assume he was a jerk who woke up one day and decided to screw over the very girl he had fallen in love with. But Lindstrom's point - that blindness exists on many levels - requires that Parker be pigheaded about Scott. It just didn't ring as true as the rest of the novel did.

Overall, this is a well-written and realistic novel about dealing with the terrible things life can sometimes throw at you. Parker is a believable and identifiable narrator, and her interactions with friends and family are very convincing. While I found her attitude toward Scott to be a bit over-the-top, it makes some sense considering her very unique situation. And the novel's ending is satisfying without being too pat. Bottom line, this is a good book that should appeal to teens. I do recommend it.


Microwave and Dishwasher Safe Plastic Food Storage Containers Set With Spill Proof Durable Locking System. Airtight & Watertight Lids Locks in Freshness & Keeps Food Safe. BPA Free, Round 3 Piece Set
Microwave and Dishwasher Safe Plastic Food Storage Containers Set With Spill Proof Durable Locking System. Airtight & Watertight Lids Locks in Freshness & Keeps Food Safe. BPA Free, Round 3 Piece Set

5.0 out of 5 stars Very nice set of storage containers -- great lids!, August 28, 2015
I really love these little storage containers -- the set comes with three (36 oz, 20 oz, and 10 oz), each with its own snap-lock lid. The containers do nest inside each other to take up less room in your cupboard. They would be perfect for storing leftovers, as well as packing up soups and salads for work or school (they are microwavable, so heating up soup or leftovers is easy).

The snap-lock lids on these are really impressive. Each lid has four locking tabs that completely seal the containers. I filled the larger one with water, engaged the locking tabs, and then tossed the thing around like crazy! Not a drop spilled. I would never try this with the storage containers I usually use (the disposable ones you can buy at the grocery store) -- I'd have water all over my kitchen! But these are secure enough when locked to be carted to school in a lunch box.

For me, the sizes of the three containers are perfect -- the little one is great for storing leftover sauces or maybe toasted nuts. The largest one would hold soup for two. They're also very pretty, with spring-green rims.

They're BPA-free and dishwasher safe, and they are sturdy and well-made. I highly recommend them.

[Please note: I was provided a sample of this product for review; the opinions expressed here are my own.]


Dishwasher Safe Tongs Set. A Beautiful 2 Piece Set Stainless Steel and Silicone Lime Green Comes in 9" and 12". Strong and Comfortable Grip. Light Weight Kitchen Utensils by Dutis Kitchenware
Dishwasher Safe Tongs Set. A Beautiful 2 Piece Set Stainless Steel and Silicone Lime Green Comes in 9" and 12". Strong and Comfortable Grip. Light Weight Kitchen Utensils by Dutis Kitchenware

5.0 out of 5 stars Practical and attractive set of tongs, August 28, 2015
Tongs are great for turning things during cooking, so having a set like this in your kitchen can be a big help. I'm especially happy that these have silicone grippers, which means I can use them with my non-stick cookware without worrying about damaging the surface of the pans. This set comes with two tongs, one 12" and the other 8". They are made of stainless steel (except for the silicone parts), and they feel very sturdy.

I have several sets of tongs in my kitchen, but all of them are totally metal. So I appreciate this set. I also love the pretty spring-green color of the silicone, which looks festive and fun (if you have to cook, why not cook with something as pretty as these tongs?). They are also BPA-free and dishwasher safe.

If you're looking for a set of tongs -- especially for use with non-stick cookware - these are the perfect choice. I highly recommend them.

[Please note: I was provided a sample of this product for review; the opinions expressed here are my own.]


Dishwasher Safe Silicone Kitchen Utensil Set. 6 Piece Heat Resistant Set Includes Spatula, Laddle, Slotted Spoon, Mixing Spoon, Spoonula, Turner. Durable Kitchen Tools by Dutis Kitchenware
Dishwasher Safe Silicone Kitchen Utensil Set. 6 Piece Heat Resistant Set Includes Spatula, Laddle, Slotted Spoon, Mixing Spoon, Spoonula, Turner. Durable Kitchen Tools by Dutis Kitchenware

5.0 out of 5 stars Very nice utensil set -- and pretty, too!, August 28, 2015
I recently purchased a set of non-stick cookware, and the best utensils to use with anything non-stick are made of silicone. This set comes with six very handy items, all of which are sturdy, easy-to-grip, and flexible enough not to harm non-stick surfaces.

I especially appreciate the small size of these utensils -- the two mixing spoons (one of which is slotted) are the perfect size for use with saucepans. The ladle is excellent for dishing up soup or chili. And the spatula and "spoonula" (sort of a spatula with a slightly convex surface) are great for working with cake batter. The only piece that isn't totally practical is the turner (or flipper), which should be ideal for eggs and pancakes. But it's a little too thick for that (the edge is also a bit too flexible, making it difficult to slip it underneath eggs or pancakes).

The thing I like the most about this set is the color -- the bright spring-green color looks lovely in my kitchen! There's just something fun about utensils that look as bright and festive as these do!

Overall, this is a very nice set of kitchen utensils that will get a lot of use in my kitchen. If you have non-stick cookware like I do, a set like this is a must. I highly recommend it.

[Please note: I was provided a sample of this product for review. The opinions expressed here are my own.]


The Rig
The Rig
by Joe Ducie
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $12.94

4.0 out of 5 stars Engaging YA prison-escape story, August 25, 2015
This review is from: The Rig (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Joe Ducie's THE RIG is a caper novel set on a derelict oil rig in the middle of the Arctic Ocean. The year is 2025, and fifteen-year-old Will Drake has been sentenced to five years on "The Rig," a supposedly escape-proof "rehabilitation center" for incorrigible teens. Drake has already escaped from three such prisons, but this time the warden and the guards are ready for him. Not only is the Rig surrounded by miles and miles of frigid, shark-infested ocean, but each inmate wears a "tracker" on his arm - a device that seems impossible to remove. But Drake has a mission, and he is determined to get the best of both the Rig and the mega-corporation that controls it (as well as most of the rest of the world). With the help of his room-mate Tristan (a brainiac computer geek) and a feisty red-head named Irene, Drake takes on the system, risking everything for a chance at freedom.

I found THE RIG to be a bit slow-going at the start - much of the first half of the novel focuses on the daily grind on the Rig, as well as Drake's growing frustration at not being able to figure out a way to escape. It's a claustrophobic environment, and there are very few developed characters. Drake meets Tristan fairly early on, and they quickly become friends, but Irene doesn't really come into play until the mid-point. Aside from these three, the only other characters have little to do other than provide background. There's the expected bully, one particularly obnoxious guard, and a nice-but-naïve psychologist, but the focus is totally on Drake and his two friends.

That said, things do pick up in the second half of the novel. There is a mystery here that reveals itself very slowly, but once Drake and his friends find out what's really going on, the pace quickens and the story does get exciting. The mega-corporation (called "The Alliance") is a terrific villain, and Drake's determination to bring it down is both admirable and heroic. In the beginning, he just wants to escape; by the end, he knows he'll have to do more than that. Since this is clearly the first of a series, the resolution of THE RIG leaves a lot left hanging. But I liked Drake, Tristan, and Irene enough to be interested in what will happen next. I'm not a fan of serialized fiction (which is definitely all the rage for YA books these days), but this one has a premise that is both intriguing and long-reaching. It reminded me a bit of ENDER'S GAME - similar setting, similar characters, similar game-playing (the inmates on the Rig play a souped-up version of Lacrosse called "Rigball"), and a similar conflict between corporate self-interest and individual responsibility.

Bottom line, THE RIG is an engaging novel with a likeable protagonist and a good story. I do recommend it.


Polar Tech TP12/MS Ice Brix Viscous Gel Moisture Safe Refrigerant Cold Pack, 6" Length x 6" Width x 1" Thick (Case of 12)
Polar Tech TP12/MS Ice Brix Viscous Gel Moisture Safe Refrigerant Cold Pack, 6" Length x 6" Width x 1" Thick (Case of 12)
Price: $10.55
4 used & new from $10.55

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent cold packs!, August 24, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I used cold packs like these all the time, but until now I've never actually purchased any. The ones I use all came from frozen food deliveries! Well those eventually deteriorated (and began to leak), so I ordered a case of these. I'm very, very pleased with the product!

You get 12 cold packs, each about 6 inches square. When you put them in the freezer, they will freeze solid (make sure you lay them flat in the freezer so they'll freeze flat). These are small enough to slip in mini-coolers, backpacks, or lunch bags -- and since you get 12 of them, you'll have enough to keep just about everything you need cold. I frequently find myself bringing food to family gatherings (sometimes 4 or 5 hours away), and these will make packing much easier.

This is a good product at a very reasonable price. I know I'll be using mine regularly.


BlueAvocado 4 Piece (re)zip Seal Essential Set Bag, Clear
BlueAvocado 4 Piece (re)zip Seal Essential Set Bag, Clear
Price: $18.16
5 used & new from $11.00

3.0 out of 5 stars Sturdy, impressive bags -- but not ideal for food storage, August 24, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I was very impressed with these bags. They are designed like the plastic storage bags sold in the supermarket - the tops seal tightly when pressed together, keeping whatever is inside from leaking out. But the plastic is much, much heavier, the seals are much, much tighter, and these are clearly made to be reused again and again. That said, they're not the easiest things to clean and dry, and the cost is somewhat prohibitive.

The idea of a reusable storage bag is certainly a good one - the less plastic we throw away on a daily basis, the less will end up in landfills or otherwise cluttering up our planet. I usually store food in reusable containers (not bags) that I keep in the freezer or fridge. The packaging for the Blue Avocado (re)zip bags reads, "Using one (re)zip at least twice a week can eliminate 100+ disposable baggies annually." And that's true - IF one of these bags will actually last through 100 washings-and-dryings.

I think it depends on how you use the bags. If you routinely use disposable baggies in packing school lunches, the two sandwich-sized bags included in this set could enable you to pack lunches all year without using any disposable plastic bags (or foil or plastic wrap). For this to work, however, you're going to have to get your kids to bring the bags back at the end of each day (that might be harder than it seems!). You're also going to have to get used to washing out the bags each evening and setting them out to dry (and anyone who has rinsed disposable plastic bags and dried them knows how hard it is to get the inside to actually dry). But it might work.

On the other hand, if you're storing cooked food in these bags (i.e. leftover lasagna, beef stew, or meatballs), the plastic will discolor and deteriorate. The reusable containers I use for such purposes only really last a few months before I find myself needing to replace them. Things like tomato sauce, especially, will leave their mark on these bags. And I'm not sure I'd be comfortable using these bags to store raw meat - I'm just not sure I could get them clean enough between uses.

I will most likely use these bags for storing non-food items - toiletries for travel, batteries (the little snack-size bag is perfect for that!), pens and pencils, etc. The video that Blue Avocado has included with the product listing actually shows more non-food items being stored in these bags than food items. But I have to admit I would not have paid over $17 for these four bags. I think the concept of reusable plastic bags is a good one, and I applaud Blue Avocado for trying to help the environment, but plastic bags aren't the easiest things to clean and reuse. I think I'll stick to my storage containers, which are easier to fill, easier to stack in the freezer and fridge, easier to clean, the much less expensive.


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