GMYLE micro card reader

I love my iPhone.  I was a fairly late convert.  I just didn’t want to give up my Android device.  The two main reasons were:

  • You can’t change the battery in and iPhone easily.
  • The iPhone doesn’t have an SD card slot, so you are stuck with however much memory you buy with the phone.

These are both valid reasons, but I eventually made the plunge and I have been able to work around both of these issues.  And yes, they have both been issues at some point or another in the past few years.

gmyleI have just discovered the solution to one of these issues, and it is a product that is a micro-USB card reader from GMYLE that plugs into the lightning port of your iPhone and allows you to access whatever is on the card, transfer photos and videos, and much more.

It works beautifully, and is super fast.  If I shoot a video with my phone, I can quickly transfer it to a micro-SD card and view it/convert it/edit it/save it.  It’s a beautiful thing.

I travel a lot, and MUST be entertained on the flight.  This usually means that I carry my tablet with me and watch movies or TV shows that I have purchased through Google Play.  I love that I can save them to an SD card, along with audio books or whatever, and when my tablet runs out of battery life, I can pop out the SD card, put it in this device and continue watching on my phone.

Also, if you store photos and videos on a card rather than the phone, you save the memory for apps.  Or not.  If you aren’t using as much memory, your battery lasts longer.  You can store photos and videos on SD cards and pop them into your phone when you want to show people, or just move stuff around in a way that is most convenient for you.

One thing about traveling with others is that each of you tend to take different pictures with your individual phones.  This is an easy way to pool all the photos into one place.

I received this product from the company to test it and give my honest feedback.  My opinion:  Truly a genius product, and I have no idea why someone didn’t already think of it!  It supports cards up to 256 GB!  That’s a LOT of extra memory for you.  If you have other Apple devices, like an iPad or a MAC, you can easily and seamlessly move stuff from one device to the other.

If you want one, you can purchase it here.

Sleep Number Bed

Today, I went to my local Sleep Number store.  I was on a mission.  Recently it has been brought to my attention that almost all of the changes I had been noticing in myself since turning 40 might NOT be age-related, but because I’m not getting good quality sleep!

I actually learned this at my dentist’s office as a result of being diagnosed with sleep apnea (more on that in another post).  Poor sleeping night after night, over time, can cause excess weight gain, irritability, needing more caffeine upon waking (coffee lovers unite!), and even forgetfulness.  At one point in my life, I had a decent vocabulary.  Now, more often than not I find myself saying, “what is that word?”

I had a great experience at the store.  The guy that was helping me was very informative, and helped me figure out my sleep number.  I never realized how much more comfortable a bed could be.  I want the one that raises my head and feet, which would be perfect for reading before bed.  No more waking with aches and pains!

Also, the Sleep IQ technology looks really cool.  It tells you how well you sleep, what your heart and breathing rate are throughout the night, etc.  It will even sync to your health app on your phone so you can keep up with it.

They are a bit more expensive than a regular mattress, but I was surprised at how little the difference was between what I paid for my mattress and what I would be able to get a sleep number set for.  I’m definitely going to be saving up for one, I am ready to lose this excess weight and reverse the clock by a few years!

Do any of you own a sleep number mattress?  What has been your experience?

My mission to the sleep number store was initiated by Smiley 360, and I am going to get a free pillow just for visiting the store!  That’s pretty cool!  To find out more about sleep number or Smiley 360, visit http://h5.sml360.com/-/2bo9c

 

Pour Over Coffee Dripper

To continue my coffee related theme from the last post, I decided to post my review of the pour over coffee dripper.  If you want to try it, you can purchase it here.

pourovercoffee

Why did I purchase a pour over coffee maker? I work nights, so my “hours of operation”, so to speak, are different than anyone else in my household. I love having coffee in the morning, but I am always on the lookout for the best, easiest, and fastest way to make coffee that still tastes good.

To make an entire pot of coffee for one person is wasteful, and no matter how hard I try, I cannot get a good tasting cup of coffee out of a coffee pot when I brew less than a whole pot. Many coffee snobs will tell you that this is because a regular drip coffee maker makes substandard coffee. This might be so, but having never wanted to shell out the big bucks for a professional model, I couldn’t say.

I purchased a Keurig coffee maker several years ago, and that is a very convenient method for a quick single serve cup of coffee. I found some pods for it right here on Amazon that are wonderful and fully biodegradable, so that’s good. However, I’m not Rockefeller, so what happens when I run out of K-cups?

I have a French press, which makes absolutely delicious coffee if you can get the measurements right, but it takes a long time and is sure messy to clean up! So, when I read about pour over coffee being the “it” thing right now, I knew I wanted to try one!

pourovercoffee2I like the fact that I can be sure there are no hidden areas of this cone that I cannot clean, so I KNOW FOR A FACT that when I use it, it is perfectly clean. With traditional coffee makers and with the Keurig, this isn’t the case. Having a perfectly clean base to add the coffee to makes the coffee taste better. It may be psychological, but it does seem to taste better!

Without any filters, this dripper is so easy to empty and clean, as well. I love that! It is absolutely dishwasher safe, but it is so easy to clean after I use it that I prefer to do it that way.

pourovercoffee3I put my coffee in the dripper, added my hot water, and voila! Coffee! NOT EVEN ONE coffee ground found its way into my cup. I definitely can’t say that about my French press!

I travel a lot, and hotels are notorious for having bad coffee! (Besides, who knows what bacteria are lurking in the in-room coffee maker?) I love that I can pack this and a Tupperware container of coffee grounds and have fresh, delicious coffee no matter where I am.

It is really elegant and sophisticated looking. It seems to be very high quality. It is very sturdy and put together quite well. It fits perfectly on my coffee cup, and I use a fairly large cup. It really is easy and fast, and the coffee was delicious! I also love loose-leaf tea, so I plan to try it for that next.

Manual Coffee Grinder Review

coffeegrinder3I am officially a coffee snob, I think. I have gotten so used to the taste of freshly ground coffee that I almost can’t stand the stale taste of coffee that has already been ground. I order my coffee beans through a CSA or purchase them at the grocery store. The coffee grinder that I typically use is an electric grinder that I purchased several years ago, and it works well, but it is VERY LOUD! It always seems that when I am ready for coffee, everyone else in the house is still asleep, so using the electric grinder is not a good option, because it is so loud it would potentially wake everyone in the house. That is why I began searching for a good manual grinder.

This one arrived today, and I immediately tore into it to test it out. My immediate impression was that the packaging was unimpressive and the directions aren’t very clear. The grinder itself is also a little smaller than I was expecting. Suffice it to say, I wasn’t expecting much.

coffeegrinderHowever, it is so easy to use and so whisper quiet that I was sold as soon as I started turning the handle! It IS small, though. You are only able to grind about 1/4 cup of coffee at a time, so if you are planning to make a large pot, you will have to repeat the process several times. I generally only make 2-3 cups at a time, though.. so this is perfect for me. I actually love the small size of the grinder. It would be so easy to travel with, and you can hold it in one hand while you turn the handle with the other.

coffeegrinder2I filled the top portion with the coffee beans, replaced the top, and began turning the handle. It actually worked pretty fast. There is a window on the bottom portion of the grinder that allows you to see the ground coffee as it is being emptied into the bottom section. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to tell when I was finished, so I kept checking. This was needless because it is easy to feel when there is no coffee left by the way the grinder works. The whole process was quick and easy. I am very glad I made this purchase, and will probably buy a couple more to give away as gifts. The construction of the grinder is a thin stainless steel. The top is a bit awkward to get on as it only fits on a certain way, but this is something I will surely get used to over time.

I received this item at a discounted price to test it and provide feedback.  Overall, this is a good little grinder. If you have never used freshly ground coffee, I would highly recommend that you try it, and this grinder is a good, simple way to start enjoying the taste of fresh coffee.  If you would like to purchase it, you can do that here.

GMYLE lightning flash drive

flash_driveIf you haven’t tried a lightning flash drive, you really should.  I recently tried the GMYLE brand flash drive, and I absolutely adore this device. I don’t know why this hasn’t been part of my life for a long time. Seriously, what a great product. Truly plug-n-play. The biggest issue I have had with my phone is keeping up with the photos. I travel a LOT, so I take tons of photos, and they fill up my phone fast. This is such a simple way to transfer my photos and keep them organized. I was able to transfer my photos to the device (took no time at all to transfer over 600 photos and videos), then plug the device into the computer and transfer them, organize them into folders, etc. It can’t get much easier than that.

After transferring the photos, I was able to safely delete them from the drive and from the phone, freeing up the space for the next trip. You can also easily and quickly transfer the photos to the device so you can show them on a larger screen. No more passing around your phone, hoping that no one touches the screen and closes the photo, or swipes to view the next photo that you didn’t necessarily want everyone to see. You can transfer all your photos, or you can select the ones that you want to transfer. On one side of the device is the lightning-type USB connector that goes into the iPhone charging port. The other side is a typical USB connector that you can then plug into a television or computer so you can quickly and easily share your photos.

I just transferred a large video from my phone to my computer in just a few seconds!  I couldn’t upload the video to dropbox because I didn’t have enough space available, and it wouldn’t let me email it.  This was a great solution for that particular problem, and SO fast!

The device is very sturdy and well made. I can see it lasting for many years. It is a very handy device to have for anyone that owns an iPhone, iPod, or iPad. Finally, a quick and easy way to transfer files and free up space on your phone. Even high-quality videos transfer in mere seconds.  If you want to try it, it is surprisingly affordable, and you can purchase it here.

*I received this product as a sample from the company in order to test it.

Levoit Humidifier/Diffuser Review

This humidifier/diffuser is great! It looks cuter than most, so you can actually leave it out on the counter even when it is not in use. This is because of the wooden base, the embossed lettering, and the real frosted glass top. The “buttons” to turn the humidifier on and off and to activate the color changing light are not buttons at all, they are sensors, which gives the entire unit a more sleek and polished look.

It is small enough to not need much room, but still large enough to hold enough water to allow for a decent running time. It has an automatic shut-off feature, so you don’t have to worry about setting it and forgetting it. It is a very well-made unit that will last for years with proper care. One big thing is that in these types of humidifiers you MUST use water soluble oils, which sounds like a misnomer and is often misunderstood. What makes an oil water soluble? There are two different ways to make oil mix with water. You can either mix it with an emulsifier, or you can buy esterified oils. Obviously, the easiest way is just to buy esterified/water-soluble oils, but they can be pricey, and you have less control over the process. You can make any oil water soluble by diluting it with certain alcohols, hydrogenated castor oil, or sea salt. I mix mine with ethanol, since that doesn’t affect the scent while still making the oils water soluble. I can then use the oils in perfumes or in my bathwater as well (without gunking up the bathtub). Before you add your mixture to the humidifier though, you should test them out with regular water in a glass or bowl. That way you can make sure you got your mixture right.

I received this product for free to test and provide my honest feedback and unbiased review. Based on my personal experience, I would say this is among the most stylish and well-built diffusers I have used, at a much more affordable price than many of the brands in the same quality category. If you are in the market for a humidifier or diffuser, this is an excellent choice.  If you would like to purchase this product, you can do that here.

Joyal Beauty Eye Serum Review

I have used Joyal Beauty products before, and I’ve always been very pleased with the results. So I was very excited to try this eye serum when the opportunity arose.

With many products like this, you have to use them consistently for several months (recommendation is typically 6), before you can expect to see the full results. If that is the case, I am very excited, because I have noticed results after 2 weeks.

eye_serum

They are very subtle, as you can see from the photo. I work nights, and my sleep schedule is erratic. As a result, as I’ve gotten older, my eyes tend to look very tired. When I began using this gel, they were very puffy, the dark circles were fairly prominent, and I’m starting to get fine lines around my eye that I absolutely abhor. After about one week of using the gel, I could definitely tell that there was a major improvement in the puffiness. The skin around my eye felt tighter, and I didn’t look as tired. Today, 2 weeks in, the skin under my eye is about the same color as all the other skin on my face. The dark circles are not COMPLETELY gone, but they are considerably lighter.

As for the lines, there is a definite improvement, though I haven’t seen a miracle yet. Should I expect to? I’m not sure. If products completely removed all signs of aging, the cosmetic surgery industry would be out of business, right? So, I’m not expecting them to completely disappear, but any improvement is welcome. I intend to fight the signs of aging on my face as long as I can. 🙂

The puffiness is definitely a thing of the past. My eyes look brighter to me, and I don’t look exhausted all the time. So far, I am pleased.

The gel comes in a pump bottle, which takes a few pumps to get started. I think I counted about 10 before any product came out. A little certainly goes a long way, so about 1/2 a pump should actually cover both eyes. It smells wonderful, like cutting into a fresh cucumber. The consistency is nice. It isn’t runny, but it isn’t thick either. It is a transparent sort of white color.

I didn’t notice it the first couple of days, but since, I have noticed a slight stinging sensation. I attribute this to the licorice that is in the product, since licorice has firming properties. Most products that firm also sting. They are working on a new formula now that has avocado in place of the licorice, which should feel very luxurious, and eliminate any burning or stinging.

I received this product for free to test and give my honest and unbiased review. The results I have seen are very consistent with the quality I have come to expect from this company. I definitely plan to purchase more once this bottle runs out, and I will post again at that point so we can all see if I have discovered the fountain of youth. 🙂

Universal Car Mount Bluetooth FM Transmitter, CrazyFire® Phone Holder with Bluetooth and FM Transmitter

Let’s be honest.  I hate dealing with my cell phone when I’m driving.  It never seems to be convenient, so I always have to dig for it.  I never seem to be able to hear when it goes off.  It’s hard to hold a phone and drive, and even with headphones, there are still so many things to deal with.  Driving with headphones on also makes me nervous because I worry that I won’t be able to hear what is going on outside of the phone call.  I typically avoid using the phone at all when I drive.

My old car had built in Bluetooth functionality.  Wow, was that nice.  I could use the GPS from my phone and have it play on my speakers, but could listen to music and the GPS lady would just cut in when necessary.  It worked the same way with phone calls; I could listen to the radio and the music would automatically mute itself when a phone call came through.  That was nice.  My new car doesn’t have that functionality (I bought it used), and I’ve missed it.

I’ve been looking for a viable alternative, and this device is the closest thing I have been able to find.  It holds the phone snugly, and expands well.  The speaker on the device itself is quite good.  I can hear the music or the phone call through it just fine.  What is even better is that it can connect using the FM transmitter and play on the car’s speakers.

As for the Bluetooth connectivity, I found it quite easy to connect.  I didn’t need to enter a passcode, and the phone and device remember each other.  In theory, the remote control is great.  In practice, however; I never could get it to work well except adjusting volume or to input the radio frequency.

It seems to be made quite well, and I am very happy to have this device.  I also plan to use it for playing audiobooks on road trips.  I can load several onto my tablet and connect to this device through Bluetooth, so everyone in the car can hear the audiobook playing.  We are planning a family road trip across the country in a little over a month, and this will help everyone retain their sanity, for sure.

This is the only hands-free device I have tried, so I can’t say how it compares to others, but here is what I see as the benefits:

  • Connects to phone easily and quickly
  • Voice prompts make it user-friendly; know when you are connected
  • Clear reception
  • Clear voice calls
  • Once you figure out the FM transmission functionality, it is super-cool
  • Sits easily on the dash without sliding around
  • Holds phone securely
  • Large buttons to take and end a call make it easy to use even while driving
  • Ability to truly have a hands-free experience
  • Ability to charge the phone and the device at the same time
  • Included Remote control for ease of use by passengers

Now, let’s talk about what I didn’t like so much:Instructions are sparse and not super-clear on how to operate all the functions

  • Remote doesn’t seem to work all that well
  • I would love for the device to be able to work along-side the radio; meaning that the radio could be used until a call comes in.

The instructions were easy enough to follow until it came to connecting the FM transmitter.  I am a pretty smart person, and it took me forever to figure out how to do this.  I finally went online and read up on other similar products and watched videos on how this was done with those products.

Basically, here is how it works:

Step One (I don’t know if this is absolutely necessary, but these are the steps I took to make it work):Plug the device in to the cigarette lighter

Step Two:  Turn on the device

Step Three:  Connect via Bluetooth to the phone (if it isn’t already)

Step Four:  Turn the radio to an unused channel (this isn’t absolutely necessary, I don’t think, but some of the reviewers said this helped make the reception better); remember the channel.

Step Five:  Press the dial on the left side of the device (labelled item 3 in the instructions; or the Multi-touch switch), until the display shows “BT”, then quickly use the remote to punch in the three number channel frequency (i.e. 88.1, press 8-8-1)

Then you should be connected!  Once I figured all this out, it seemed so easy.

Overall, I like this product.  Like I said, I haven’t tried others like this to compare, but for the money, I think this is great.  I’ll be using this a lot on our road trip in July.  If my opinion changes or if I have anything to add to this review after that, I’ll post back here.

Skiva Cord-To-Go MicroUSB review

Let me start by saying that I absolutely love this product! I travel a lot, and love to take my tablet with me when I travel. The biggest issue with taking several different types of electronics with me when I travel is that I hate having to pack and unpack all the charging cables. The other issue that I have while traveling is wrapping the cords back up and storing them to keep them from getting tangled. This charging cable solves both of those issues.

It is so compact, and even comes with a tiny little carabiner clip. It is made of plastic, but it seems to be a heavy duty plastic that I anticipate will last for many years with no issues. Now all I need to do is find one JUST LIKE THIS for my iPhone and I will be all set!

Some people mentioned that it is difficult to get the ends tucked back in. The cord itself if actually shared between the two ends, one being the actual USB end and the other being the micro-USB. You can pull out the cord on one side to give yourself a bit of leeway to insert each end, and then repeat for the other side. Hopefully this will help someone with that particular issue. There is a little sticker on the device when you first open it that contains a quick guide showing the best way to open and close the device, as well as a full set of instructions, which are easy to follow along with and understand.

It is very small and lightweight, which I love. This makes it so easy to travel with. The whole thing is just about an inch and a half long and about an inch wide. It would be easy to tuck into a purse or bag, pocket or even a wallet to make sure you always have a charging cable with you, even if you aren’t carrying a key ring (which I rarely do when I travel)

The best part is… it works! I was able to charge my tablet quickly and with no problems. It actually seemed to charge faster than with the original cord. The device didn’t get too hot, either. When it was finished charging, I simply tucked the ends back into the device, and it is ready for the next time I need to charge!