Friday, March 25, 2016

Review of DII Zig Zag Weave Kitchen Dishtowels

I was given the opportunity to review these towels for Amazon. DII 100% Cotton, Basic Everyday, Machine Washable, Monogrammable, 16 x 28" Zig Zag Weave Kitchen Dishtowel, Set of 4- Neon Lime. Here is my review and what I did with one of them and what I plan for the rest.

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There are three things that I check for when buying towels of any kind. How well made they are, including how thick or thin. Towels that are too thick can take a really long time (thus money) to dry in the dryer and if you line dry your laundry, they can take a lot longer than other things and end up scratchier and stiffer than your other towels. So on this item, these towels were exactly right. Not too thick or thin, and as they would generally be used for dish towels, they have enough 'oomph' to dry more than one or two dishes before getting saturated. In regards to washing and drying them, the tag states that they are 100% cotton, made in Pakistan, wash in cold water and tumble dry low, low iron. Does anyone really iron their dish towels? By their very nature and what use they are put to, I don't ever wash towels on cold water. I wash them in hot or at the minimum warm water as I want at least a bit of a chance of killing off any germs they may have picked up. They also get the hottest drying of anything else in our laundry. So I do need to report that if you wash towels like I do, you can expect them to shrink up lengthwise about an inch and half. I saw no measureable difference in widths between the washed towel and the unwashed one. See photo. The top towel was the one that went through the wash and the bottom towel was still brand new. A piece of white paper was inserted between the two to highlight the difference.



The second thing I look at, actually probably the first as that is what catches my eye, and that is color. Believe me, I would never ever pick lime green towels to come into my house but that doesn't mean I didn't find a use for them! So far I have turned one into a burp rag for a baby. The rest will follow made up as the first.


The third thing I am concerned about is whether or not I can hoop the towel and do machine embroidery on it. If a towel is too thick the hoop pops open in the midst of the embroidery which pretty much spoils the design. These towels were great for embroidery as the pictures show. I make Project Linus quilts and the ones that I am currently working on are blue and green frog based. So for the mostly blue based frog quilt (boy) I made a burp rag with a frog design on one end and a saying "Burp Baby Burp!" on the other. The frog design is from Embroidery Library #C7977, my most favorite site for getting machine embroidery designs. Don't forget that when embroidering on terry cloth, to use a wash away stabilizer on top of the towel to keep the terry loops from getting in the way. I'm not sure what happen to the close up photo of the words as I'm just getting used to the camera and downloading photos.





These towels I would give 5 stars and wish I could have gotten them in colors I would use in my house, but instead they will eventually be part of a charitable gift, so the color was actually the perfect one to receive.  I hope this gives you some ideas if you end up with some weird colored towels that you don't know what to do with, make them into fashionable Burp Towels for baby.




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Friday, March 11, 2016

DII Home Essentials Foldable Fabric Storage Containers


I was delighted to use and review these DII Home Essentials Foldable Fabric Storage Containers being sold by Amazon.com.
 
I was pleased to have a chance to try these collapsible boxes out. I’m always on the prowl for items that I can use in my sewing room to make me more efficient or to help me better organize items. When I received these, I was in the process of cutting up scraps pieces for scrap quilts. Since scrap quilts are my favorite, I have specific sizes of pieces that I cut and those can make many different types blocks. However, I was running out of storage places especially since I decided that when possible I would cut a 10” square out of the scraps in case I needed a larger or more sizes of pieces or for the Kaleidoscope quilt that I just found in a magazine. I’ve wanted to make one of those for a long time and this one called for 10” pieces to cut down.
 

It was very easy to set the boxes up and for those that wonder what the ‘loose’ square is for, it fits in the bottom to give strength and help the boxes stay open. It would be nice if they had a lid.
 

This is my first time using this camera and I don't know how to set the date yet.   This box shows four different sizes of quilts pieces; 2 ½” squares, 4 ½” squares, 2 ½” x 4 ½” rectangle and a 5” square that can be used as is or used in triangle production. All of these sizes fit easily in the second box.  They are going to be a great help in my quilting process.
I especially like the color of the boxes since red is my favorite color. However, there are many different colors as well as sizes to chose from when purchasing.
 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

DII 100% Cotton, Professional Stripe Bib Apron

Here is a review of a great apron I just got through the Amazon Vine program. I love it but there are a few things to think about. One things I didn't notice until I had finished my review and looked at some others, this is a rather long apron. Since I like wearing longer skirts, etc. I didn't notice, but if you are short and don't have the ability to hem the apron up you might want to reconsider buying this particular apron. Since it is a heavy cotton, I would recommend for hemming the use of a sewing machine instead of by hand.  For the current price of $10.99 it is a good value as well when you consider the time and cost of fabric to make it yourself .

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I love wearing chef's or butcher type aprons. When I make aprons for myself, this is the style I choose, so I was very happy to get this one to try. Right out of the package it had a slight funny odor to it. While it is advertised as having two front pockets, mine only has on large one. If I feel the need for two, I can sew a seam down the middle of the pocket and end up with two pockets so this is not a problem for me. If I got that ambitious I would also make a loop to have a towel hang from which is also a preference of mine that I make when making an apron.
The apron is also advertised as having the ability to have the ties wrap around and tie in front. I think that ability is solely dependent on the height and weight of the wearer. This apron has something I have never seen before and I wouldn't mind trying to mimic it on the next apron I make. Instead of the separate neck loop and separate side ties, the ties come around the neck and through a casing on the upper edges of the apron and then come out to be tied in back. This is great for being able to adjust the apron to cover you where you most want it and to accommodate different heights of cooks. For me at 5'8" and overweight, I can only tie the apron in the back which is fine with me. Unless you are super skinny and a bit on the short side, I don't think you will be able to tie the apron in front. Or if you can manage to tie it in front, you will only get just a small bow or knot.
The apron is made of 100% heavy cotton fabric which will help prevent spills from soaking through. I like it very much and it is comfortable to wear. Once I wash it, I plan on machine embroidering a design on it but I want any potential shrinkage to happen first. The tag states that the apron is made in India for those concerned about where your products come from.
Even though it doesn’t coincide with what is stated on the product page, I am very happy with this apron and plan on using it often, thus the 5 stars.
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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Fiskars 18 Inch Billhook Saw - A disappointing Product

I received that Fiskars 18 inch Billhook Saw through the Amazon Vine program. I really looked forward to trying it out since I had high hopes for it, but was sadly disappointed. I'm not sure if I have ever mentioned, I never look at others reviews until my own is written. So once I posted my review (below) I looked at other reviews. Many also were disappointed in the dullness of the blade. One reviewer said it took him a good half hour to sharpen it. Others were very interestingly written. They gave high praise and 5 stars, but never actually admitted USING the saw. Others gave high praise claiming they had been able to accomplish much work with the saw right out of the package. Did they get a sharpened saw unlike most of us or are they making up stories? Enquiring minds want to know.

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I really wanted to like this item. I have Fiskar scissors and punches in my sewing room so expected at least that quality. I received this saw right before an onslaught of snow so I had to wait to try it. It got warm and the snow melted (we are having the craziest winter!) and so with high anticipation a few minutes ago I went out to my weed/flower patch to get rid of the dead, dried out stuff. I first attempted to use the smooth saw side and it couldn't cut anything....Period! I tested the edge of that blade with fingers and thumb and it wasn't sharp at all. I don't think when you buy a brand new saw you should have to go find a way to sharpen it, if it is even possible. The packaging doesn't indicate that it is necessary. So I tried out the jagged edge of the saw. I did manage to cut down some 1/4" - 1/2" stems. But the cuts were very jagged and it wouldn't bite down and stay in one place. That could have been due to my poor muscle strength, but the harder and more pressure applied, the worse things got. A gardener probably doesn't care as much if trimming down weeds etc. you don't get smooth cuts, but if you used this to trim small branches off of trees and the like, it would leave a lot of jagged wood exposed which would be an invitation infestation and infection at the spot. Any tree and bush trimming needs to be done with smooth cuts to make it easier for the wound to heal. It did come with a nice sheath for storing the saw. Like I said, I really wanted this saw to work would have
accomplished more by using my usual gardening tools.

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Saturday, December 19, 2015

Ready to Stitch: Borders & Motifs

Here is another book review of a great book that I purchased for myself.

Borders & Motifs by Michaela Learner ISBN 9781844489091 Published by Search Press 2014 UK, Printed in China. 96 pages of text with color photographs of completed work and diagrams for color use, plus 32 pages of 84 iron on embroidery transfers. Softcover Book. From the Ready to Stitch Series.

This book has many lovely designs that are classic in that they should be as lovely now as in 20+ years if someone wants to use them. One thing I really did like about this book is that many of the samples were stitched in two ways with different colored threads and different stitches so you can get ideas for how you might want to use the designs themselves. I don't recall ever seeing this in an embroidery book before and I do think I would like to see it more often. The only designs which I'm not sure I personally like, are the ones with fairies in them as they look like a cross between cherubs and fairies. Just a bit strange to me. Please note that in this book there are no fonts to embroider.

One of the designs in this book I have seen the UK magazine Stitch, October/November 2015 Issue 97 page 20 being used as a design on a tote bag. Before purchasing this book, I had already flagged this project as a possibility to do. I could flag just about every design in this book as possibilities to make as well. If only my hands could hold up for the job!

If you like to embroider, are looking for project ideas, or just like to read and look at needlework books, this is a very good embroidery book. Seeing the designs embroidered in two sets of colors and stitches makes it even more likely that you will come up with more ideas of how to use the designs.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Christmas Baking

Well I won't claim to be the champion cookie baker this year like in many years past, but I did make one batch with the help of a mix. I did get to try out some new great products that I got sent via Amazon Vine. I just love it when I get stuff for the kitchen the office or sewing room. Lately it has been the kitchen. So here is the review I wrote for Tovolo Mats. I used my new set of Kitchen Aid Bowls that were also from Amazon Vine. The cookie mix and candy mix ins courtesy of Betty Crocker and M&M's.

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As someone that grew up and learned to cook and bake in the pre-microwave era, it has always been hard for me to get past my reluctance to use rubber when cooking or baking. Not so my husband. Ask me what has happened to my rubber spatula for use when using the mixer? He honestly thought it was silicone! So anyhow I am faced with silicon baking sheets to put in my pans. They were a little to big and as they said they can be cut to size, I might try that next time. I haven't been up to baking Christmas cookies in a very long while, so by 'cheating' (using a Betty Crocker peanut butter cookie mix and some Christmas M & M's) I mixed up the dough in my NEW Kitchen Aid bowls. They are lightweight to use and I didn't have trouble with them scooting around or holding on to them. I put the cookie dough onto the pans on top of the Tovolo Mat and then popped one pan at a time into the oven, which I have found is best to not have unbaked or over baked cookies. When done I took the cookies off the pan and they slid right off onto the spatula, and some did try to scoot around on the mat, but I think that was because of me taking them off of the pan as soon as I got them out of the oven when the recipe said to wait 2 minutes. All in all I think these will be a great asset in anyone's kitchen that bakes. Since nothing sticks to them you also, if you lack sufficient quantity of pans, won't have to clean off the baked on crumbs off of the pans in between batches.  My taste test of the cookies showed them to be yummy!
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It was only when turning the big oven on that I realized just how dependent we have gotten on our little toaster oven that I got about a year ago from the Amazon vine program as well. We use it all the time and big oven isn't using up lot of electricity and is rarely used anymore other than the burners. I have really appreciated the things I have been sent to review.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Brooklyn on Fire by Lawrence H. Levy



I read Brooklyn on Fire by Lawrence H. Levy for the Amazon Vine Program that I am part of. It is the second book in the Mary Handley series, the first being Second Street Station. If you have a chance I would read the first book in this series first as the second book builds a bit on the first book. However, Brooklyn on Fire is fine as a stand alone book. I liked the book and gave it 5 stars while I noticed others were not so thrilled with it. Is this book going to go down in history as a pivotal piece of literature? Hardly. Undoubtedly within 10-15 years people may no longer even care to read the book which happens with a majority of cozy mystery books. I do think that at times you might enjoy a book more than if you had set down to read it on a different day and time. I needed a book to relax with and get absorbed in so that I would forget some of the pain I was in. I did find it interesting to read all the historical portions and how life was lived in the 1890's. I hope you enjoy the book as well.
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I’ve read many books, but it is rare to find one that jars my way of thinking in the very first paragraph. This book began with an old woman talking to her friends Vicky and Albert while thinking on her life. As she reminisces she realizes that she is in her 7th decade at the age of 64. That might not mean much to some of you younger readers, but nearly a month ago I turned 60 and I never thought about the fact that I was in my 7th decade. In my mind that means you are in your 70’s and that does sound old.

Age aside, this was a rather interesting cozy mystery novel. The author took a chance that most authors don’t and that is including many historical figures in the story. And I’m not talking about someone obscure in history, but the Rockefellers, the Carnegies, and the Vanderbilts including Geoge Vanderbilt that built the Biltmore mansion in North Carolina. Even the main character in the book, Mary Handley, was a real person and worked at one time under the Chief of Police and helped bring a murderer to justice for which she earned a $1000 reward.

Needless to say this book this book was a bit different with a very different heroine for the era that she lived in. Women detectives have come a long way since the first one appeared on the scene and it is interesting to seeing authors lately that instead of having the sleuth working during the current era, they have gone back into history such as several WWII female sleuth novels and now this book goes even further back to 1890 where ‘Ladies’ apparently had weaker constitutions than they have now and all news and crime stories were kept from them as much as possible. So it is very interesting to see a book where they have no telephones or fancy cars to get around in. No internet to research from. Families that are embarrassed and shocked that their daughter would want to do so masculine a job and how would she ever get married if the eligible men found out what she was doing. But Mary Handley didn’t care about that. She was thrilled with her office that was located in a used book store and her 20 business cards that a friend had had made for her. Once the call came for her to help, she didn’t waste time and took no thought for herself physically to the point that in one scene she needed a blood transfusion. At that point only 50% of those getting them survived the process (no blood typing at the time). She also donated blood and when she later passed out for lack of fluids and food a doctor was about to do a ‘bloodletting’ procedure to help her when someone remembered she had donated some blood that day. Interesting thought, you pass out due to low fluid balance only to have a doctor try to fix the problem by cutting you and letting more blood out.

These item mentioned, not to spoil the book for you, but to let you know some of the interesting things about life over 100 years ago in the life of a young woman that was not following the normally mores of the time. And interesting book that is also a fairly quick read.