Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Buzz on Skylee

My Pretend Lawyer Made Me Write This: This is not a sponsored post.  However, I did receive a Skylee for review purposes.  All opinions are my own.

When I Love Robots.com offered me a chance to review Skylee, I jumped on the chance. I'd first had the opportunity to meet Skylee at the Clever Girls Collective brunch while at BlogHer this year and knew Skylee was something in which my daughter would be interested.

Official Product Description:
Meet SKYLEE, a chatty, interactive toy dragon for kids! This very friendly dragon comes with a very special surprise: an egg that holds a tiny fuzzy dragon baby named Bebe that loves to squeak and play with Skylee all day long!

Skylee flaps her beautiful dragon wings in response to a child's touch and responds with words of excitement to a child's greeting.

Skylee flaps her dragon wings in response to a child’s touch and responds with words of excitement to a child’s greeting.
My take?

Skylee was an immediate hit, as I had suspected.  And the little "bebe" that comes in an egg, which rolls out of Skylee's tummy?  The icing on the robotic cake.  Both kids giggled a storm over that one, then proceeded to stuff the egg back in, so they could make it come out again. Rinse, repeat.

You'd think this would be a girl's toy, but my 6 year old son loves it, too.  It's also a tough, good-quality toy -- we've had it for several months now.  It's seen plenty of play hours and the batteries are still going strong.  I do wish it was a little softer and snugglier, but that's just me.  The kids don't really seem to mind.

Anjali's favorite thing to do is to dance with her dragon:

Anjali and Skylee from Kelli Oliver George on Vimeo.

Also, she has renamed the dragon.  I hope Lady Gaga is flattered.  Ahem.

The Buzz on Mechatars

My Pretend Lawyer Made Me Write This: This is not a sponsored post.  However, I did receive a Mechatar for review purposes.  All opinions are my own.

Awhile back, I Love Robots.com offered me an opportunity to review a Mechatar and I said "Sure!"  As I seem to have a robot loving little boy in my possession, this seemed like a wise choice.

Official Product Description:

Mechatars are fast remote control robots that battle in the real world and connect to a FREE-TO-PLAY online game at www.Mechatars.com! You can customise your personal Mechatar and download new missions; complete each mission and earn new skills to level up then connect to take the battle online. Very quickly each robot becomes unique to its owner.

My Take?
The setup was quite easy -- we pulled it out of the packaging and immediately, my 6 year old son was able to use the remote to get his Mechatar rolling around.  As a parent,  I LOVE the huge, rolling leg/wheels (i.e. the legs do a complete rotation, which is not obvious from the photo) -- they have a soft rubber on them that grips our hardwood floor, but doesn't scratch it. Furthermore, the legs are very sturdy and since they are large, they give the Mechatar a sort of "agility" that ensures the robot doesn't get stuck.  The Mechatar works equally well inside and outside -- even from our driveway and through the grass!

Unfortunately, I was not able to completely review the training and battle portion of the Mechatar.  My 6 year old was just a little too young to navigate the website by himself. Additionally, we don't have a friend with a Mechatar.  I did play around with the setup and it was very easy to navigate.  And importantly, I did not see any questionable content or security issues that concerned me.  When my son gets a little older, I would have no problems with letting him play on this website unattended.  And considering how durable this toy is, I see no reason why he won't still have a working Mechatar in a few years.

Overall, I think a Mechatar would be a perfect gift for a boy aged 8 or above!

The Buzz on The Coffeetalk Game

My Pretend Lawyer Made Me Write This: I have not been compensated for this post but I was given a free copy of this game for review purposes. All opinions are mine alone. You can't have them.

I have written a couple of times how much I love to play games -- boardgames, videogames, card games.  Just a few times.  Maybe once or twice.

Since I am always on the hunt for new and unusual games, I jumped on the chance to review The Coffeetalk Game when it was offered to me while at BlogHer this year.  Awhile back, I hosted my canasta group and when we were done with cards, I brought this game out to get a feel for their thoughts.  Later, I hosted another event with my group of gals who form our periodic Game Night Group.  If there ever was a focus group for boardgames, these ladies should be in it.

First impression?  The packaging is quite clever -- the playing pieces are fake coffee beans, the trump cards are creamer and sugar "packets" and the playing cards are in the shape of disposable coffee cups.  Of course, the pièce de résistance was that it all came in a bag that was JUST like the ones in which you buy your coffee beans.

Second impression?  The beans (i.e. playing pieces) did not exactly fit on their space and that bugged more than a few of us Type A Personalities (including yours truly).  Also, many of my friends are in marketing and felt the marketing copy was a little too cutesy using taglines such as "A latte of fun!".  Me?  I am not in marketing and like cheesy copy.

However, how did this all stack up when we actually played the game?  We figured out the gist of the game quite quickly but we did struggle with the purpose of the trump cards (turns out sugar packets are played when you want an answer pushed through and creamer packets are played when you don't like the topic card that is pulled and want to redraw).  Once we figured the trump cards out, we got to playing.  And....

It was really fun!  I like that "anything goes" -- a topic card is thrown out, the sand hourglass is flipped over and then we scribble down anything that we think might be related to the topic card.  It reminded me of word association exercises and I liked that we weren't limited to a certain letter of the alphabet.  It was entertaining to see the twisted mental paths some of us went down once we got going.

We played a few rounds and they went really, really quickly.

In conclusion?  This reasonably priced game would make a nice gift  -- for a coffee lover, for a game lover.  This would make a perfect gift for someone who loves games and is strung out on caffeine.  

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Buzz on PaperCoterie

My Pretend Lawyer Made Me Write This: I have not been compensated for this post.  I received a free, personalized journal from PaperCoterie when I visited the MomSelect Suite while at BlogHer.  PaperCoterie is offering a $40 Promocode to me and more importantly, to anyone else who would like to use it.  That means you. Yes, YOU. Details at the end of the post!

Official Press Release:
Salt Lake City, Utah – August 1, 2011 – Inspired by Kelly Corrigan’s book, Lift, Paper Coterie hopes to inspire its audience to take photographs and document the ordinary in creative, new ways.  From August 1 through August 31, 2011 all visitors will receive a $40 credit to spend.  There is no minimum purchase and visitors pay only standard shipping rates.  Paper Coterie is an online circle of friends who are passionate about documenting the everyday through personalized photo books, calendars, wall décor, and other creative and innovative products. “We are extremely excited to be hosting Begin Anywhere Month and introducing Kelly and her books to our community,” said Melisa Jeffers of Paper Coterie.  “Knowing how and where to start documenting can be one of the biggest challenges when it comes to memory keeping, and we hope that our Begin Anywhere event provides both inspiration and a starting point to our community.”
Registrants can choose from a beautiful selection of elegantly designed books and journals; calendars in several formats, home décor items and gifts, recipe cards and more.  The $40 credit does not include shipping. 

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter at Paper Coterie.  For more information, visit us online at www.papercoterie.com.
My take?

My first few visits to Paper Coterie were a little clunky - it seemed they were doing some updates/fixes at the time.  Since then, my visits have gone smoother.  The hardest part was deciding what to buy with the $40 promotional code.  I flitted around - I had already received a personalized journal from Paper Coterie while at BlogHer and  I wasn't in the mood for a photo book.  Unfortunately, I don't need a growth chart for my babies who are now doing things such as walking, talking and GOING TO SCHOOL (because that airplane growth chart I linked to?  Is wicked cool. And my babies?  Are TALLER than those charts.)

In a democratic surfing move, I clicked on the Recipe section thinking it was probably just your typical recipe cards.   Except I was wrong.  Paper Coterie does not offer your typical recipe cards - they offer pretty recipe cards which are personalized.  However, what really caught my eye was the cookbook section.  Personalized cookbooks.  As in "cookbooks with MY recipes IN them".

Hold your horses, Fannie Farmer.

Honestly?  This post has been delayed because I can't drag myself away from making my own cookbook.  And even while writing this, I've been clicking over and playing around with my cookbook-in-progress.  Furthermore, during this whole process of finding recipes to add,  I've been compiling hand-scribbled notes, things copied into my phone, and a mountain of print-outs. I have even searched emails for old recipes.

And I am putting them into my own cookbook.   I am almost done with my first cookbook and therefore, MUST create a second cookbook.

This whole "make your own cookbook" is a new concept to me and Paper Coterie has made it fairly easy.   You simply create an account, click on the recipe book of your choice and get started.   That's it! You can stop mid-stream and save your project to complete later (I am on Day 3 of working on my cookbook.)  I fumbled a bit with the actual editing portion at first but once I got the hang of it, the going was pretty fast.  I do wish that I could do things like bold or italicize individual pieces of text within a text box, but perhaps, that will come in later versions.

In the meantime, I am pretty happy with the results:
That particular quirky style and font appealed to me, but if that's not your thing,  they do have several styles to choose from (I will probably choose "On The Dot" for my 2nd cookbook).  I cannot wait to finish this cookbook! Currently, when I go through my weekly meal planning on Sunday afternoons, I have to flip through papers, cookbooks and even my memory.  Inevitably, I forget about certain dishes and eventually find myself in a cooking funk.  I am looking forward to having my "loose" recipes contained within 1 or 2 books that I can flip through along with my other books cranked out by the Big Publishers.

Paper Coterie doesn't just offer cookbooks.  So, I will stop my fangirl praise for a millisecond to mention that they do also offer photo books and journals, memory keepers, and decor items.  In fact, I am also intrigued by their "Prompt Me" book's official description:
Start creating this engaging book built by Paper Coterie's Prompt Me tool. In the coming weeks, Prompt Me will create your book using your responses to a series of creative questions, fun prompts, and photos. Let Prompt Me help you document the beauty of life well lived. 28-page minimum book is printed on premium 50% recycled fiber paper.
I was SO tempted to do a Prompt Me book for this post, but was afraid of the time commitment - right now is a bit crazy.

Okay - here's the important part, right???

So what's in this for you??? Until August 31st, Midnight, any reader who visits www.papercoterie.com can use the promo code BEGINANYWHERE to receive a $40 credit. There is no minimum purchase necessary, and shipping is not included. 

Truly, you'd be crazy to not check Paper Coterie out.  Halloween is trickling into the stores and you know what that means.

Christmas is coming.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Buzz on OttLit POD Lamps

For the Lawyer's Personal Pleasure: I was given an OttLite POD Lamp for review but otherwise, was not compensated for this review. 

Official  Product Description:
OttLite® 508 Illumination™ makes reading, seeing and working easier. You’ll see fine print and details clearly under the low heat, low glare illumination which also helps reduce eyestrain. This lamp has smart features, such as wire management so you can easily thread your power cords through the bottom of the lamp and charge your phone, MP3 player and more right on your lamp. Keeping you organized and being able to see better – now that’s innovation!

Easily adjust the low glare OttLite illumination over your desk with the adjustable arm and shade. Plus, the design folds away when not in use resuming its intriguing POD shape.

Confession:  I received one OttLite Lamp last year at BlogHer - I was at the Martha Stewart party and won it in a raffle.  We ended up loving that lamp so much that I also requested the free lamp from a certificate in the gift bag from the party.  I am still trying to figure out why I feel guilty about getting two lamps.


When I first pulled the lamp out of the packing box, my husband and I were both in agreement that it was "not to our taste" (Code for we thought it a mite homely).  However, my finicky, picky husband has grown to LOVE the light from this baby.  The light is perfect for working on computers - there is no glare to content with and it is weird how it is so small, yet softly illuminates the whole darned ROOM.  Currently, we co-sleep with our kids and the OttLite allows my husband to work late into the nights while our son sleeps away.

Yes, you can close the thing up and the light conveniently still shines through the clear plastic part.

Furthermore, it has a docking station in which you can thread your power cord and plug whatever device you want into it.

This is great lamp for a a bedside table in a bedroom with modern decor.  Also, this is a PERFECT lamp for a dorm room and would make an awesome graduation gift.

And honestly?  As we move from an incandescent world to a CFL one, it is nice to know that there will be options such as OttLite out there - a quick look at their website tells me they are getting more and more models in that will go with our traditional decor.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Buzz on RoseArt's Color Blanks

For the Lawyer's Personal Pleasure: I received one free Color Blanks and purchased two extra with my own money.  I was not compensated for this review.

Color Blanks Product Description:
Your poseable figure gives you a white slate to design yourself! Use the included Color Blank markers to make it groovy green or bright orange with yellow stripes. Draw eyes, clothes or shoes on your figurine, then add the finishing touches with the included stickers. For extra originality, add your own fun stuff such as buttons, sequins, glitter, a hat or a prop – the possibilities are endless! Sets include 1 plastic figurine, 3 permanent mini markers and a sticker sheet.

RoseArt asked if they could sent me a Color Blanks for review purposes and I accepted. However, with two kids, I thought maybe there might be some issues with "sharing" and so I sent the review sample to a friend for her daughter and instead, bought a Color Blanks frog set  for my own kids (yes, with my own money!)  The Color Blanks singles are around $5 and the duo sets are around $10, so I figured we would get at least $10 amount of entertainment from them.

I had high hopes for these Color Blanks!  Unfortunately,  I did not realize these were meant for kidlets 6 years and older.  My son is 5.5 and my daughter is nearing 4.  With that in mind, we soldiered on.

First, we noticed that the markers did not dry very quickly.  And they were sticky while wet.  And the coverage was not spectacular for coloring the entire body of the piece. After awhile, both kids grew frustrated with how long it took to completely cover the piece in color.  The markers were all over their hands, although it did wash off with some scrubbing. I finished the coloring myself and we set the pieces in front of a fan to dry.  After they were dry, the kids did have fun applying the stickers.  And they do still play with their frogs.  So yes, RoseArt is onto a great idea - an art project that can be played with later.  They just need to work out the details since the markers were not just quite right for this.

I do believe we got our money's worth, even though my kids were under the target age. The project took about 40 minutes total and the kids still play with their frogs. I certainly didn't feel cheated out of my 10 bucks!  I would consider buying these again, in particular if my kids spy them and ask (politely).  However, next time I would approach this differently by doing the body color with a Sharpie* by myself, leaving the object to dry, THEN letting the kids go crazy with decorations.  In hindsight, I wish I would have passed my review sample to my 9 year old nephew because I think he would totally dig this.

*Yes, I am the crazy lady with a rainbow of Sharpies.  Respect the Sharpie.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Buzz on Peas and Bananas: Outside With Lil Boo.

For the lawyer's personal pleasure:  I received a copy of this book for review and there was no other compensation for this review.

The first book of the Peas and Bananas series. Peas and Bananas Outside with Lil Boo is an illustrated children’s book based on the creative events experienced through the eyes of Lil Boo. The events in the first story of a series are based on exploring an array of outdoor adventures from the eyes of a toddler. Follow Lil Boo and his imaginary friend Onote from the letters A to Z in a fascinating rhyming adventure outside.

The wonderful things you see from your room.
It's like riding on a broom!
So many wonderful things to do.
Let's go outside and see the view.

A cactus is awfully prickly.
Even so, a touch is fickly-tickly.
Have you ever seen a prickly, fickly, tickly cactus?
Lil Boo has, and its name is Magnus.

Cactus to dirt - without a squirt!
My take?
Truthfully, I was disappointed.  I have a pretty extensive collection of children's books, much of it collected before I even had kids of my own.  Therefore, when I was contacted by the author regarding a potential review of Peas and Bananas, I jumped on it.  The chance to review a book not mass marketed was very appealing to me - the thought of discovering something new.  But, sadly, I was not really taken with this book.

Interestingly, I loved, loved the illustrations - they were adorable and some of the renderings of the animals were simply beautiful (the owl was my favorite!)  However, I was confused with where the story was going and some of the wording/poetry had a rhythm that was hard for me to read out loud.  I understand the need to make up words to make things "work" and that children's literature grants a wide girth in that respect (hello, Dr. Seuss?!)  But this was a little much for me. 

Of course, like many parents there are books that WE love and then there are books that we suffer through to please our children. Sadly, I knew the review for Peas and Bananas was sunk when my kids did not stick around for the entire reading.

In fairness, I included two excerpts to give you a chance to see for yourself if this would be the type of book for you.  Obviously, I cannot purport to be the "end all/be all" when it comes to reviewing children's literature!