Stuff to do with the girls

As I mentioned in my last posting, one of the gifts I got for Xmas for Mika was Scientific Explorer’s Spa Science Chemistry Kit, which allowed us to make oatmeal soap, oatmeal masks and bath salts. We still have left bath fizzies to make. Later, I bought another kit to make lip balm and lotion. This wasn’t as nice – all you had to do was mix the lotion with color and scent, or melt the lip balm and then mix with color and scent – not much chemistry in that. But I do like doing these things with the girls – specially Mika, who doesn’t like baking with me, so, when we run out of this stuff, I want to buy:
Creative Cosmetics:The Science of Skincare – which is $50!, so maybe not
Perfumery, or a similar kit (here is another one I may get).
Candle Making Kit
Luxury Soap Science Lab or another soap making kit
Thames & Kosmos Archaeology Kit: Egyptian Pyramid or another archeology/egyptology kit
Kitchen Chemistry
More recommendations?

Reviews

The kids are playing a game in their room, I’m at my desk with a glass of fresca, some pain in my thigh (Meralgia Paresthetica, one of the many “gifts” from pregnancy that did not go away), and inability to concentrate in much. So I decided I’m going to review some of the items I bought/got for Christmas or around that time. I’m doing it for Amazon, but copying the reviews here. Though I’m quite unhappy with Amazon for how slow they are to ship items with their “free super saver shipping” – I signed up for a free month of Amazon prime for December, so I did most of my Xmas shopping at Amazon after all.
Toys
Scientific Explorer’s Spa Science Chemistry Kit
I bought this kit for my 7yo, and she and her 4yo sister enjoyed making soap & bath salts (we still haven’t made the bath fizzes). It’s a fun activity for a mom to do with her girls. That said, the kit of mostly valuable for the recipes. Most of the items in the kit (oatmeal, baking soda, citric acid, sea salt, rose petals) I already had at home, and the others (fragrances, 1 glycerin soap) I could buy at Michael’s for far less money. But I’m not sorry I bought it as a first kit.
Horton Hears a Who! – You to the Rescue!
I bought this game for Xmas and we haven’t played it yet. Still, I did take it out of the box and put it together, and realized that the elephant headband does not come with the velcro it needs to pick up the “balls”. I don’t know if it’s a general problem or just the one in my box. I need to buy some velcro now 🙁
My Little Pony So Soft Pony Walking Sweet Steps
I got this for Mika last year, because it’s what she really, really wanted (I can’t believe I paid that much for it!). As predicted, she liked it and played with it for a while – and put the pony in the walker a few times in the following year – but mostly the walker just occupied space. I finally gave it away last month, with no objections from her. Now, the pony she really likes, still plays with and sometimes she sleeps with it.
Deluxe Magic Set
I got this for Mika (my 7yo). The set is nicely constructed, good quality, mostly wood. Mika learned a couple of tricks that she liked very much, but then lost interest. Some of the tricks seemed a little complicated. But if I was going to buy a magic kit again, I’d probably get this one because of the quality.
Kitchen Items
Pyrex Smart Essentials 8 Piece Mixing Bowl Set
I got this as a present (after requesting it) and I’m very happy with it. The bowls are of thick glass, the lids seal well, and in all it’s quite good quality for the price. I’ve used them a lot already.
Ginsu International Traditions 2-Piece Stainless Steel Carving Set
Yes, Ginsu knives. I have to admit that Mike laughed when I told him I’d bought a set. I once again went back & forth between buying a good-quality set or the cheapest I could find. Finally, I decided to go with cheap. So far, so good. The knife is certainly better at cutting meat (both raw & cooked) than my very expensive chef’s knife. It’s pretty long, I assume that’s the case of all carving knives, so it’s only actually good for cutting large pieces of meat – a simple steak knife works best for smaller pieces. All in all, I’m quite happy with the set.
Cuisinart MultiClad Pro Sauce Pan
This pan is larger than what I wanted, but that’s my fault for not realizing how big a 1.5qt pan would be. It’s made of thick metal, good quality, nicely fitting lid – can stand high heat.
KitchenAid K45SS Classic 250-Watt 4-1/2-Quart Stand Mixer
I think this is the starting (cheapest) model of KitchenAid mixers, but it’s definitely good enough for me. I mostly use it for cookies & cakes, though I’ve made pizza dough in it a couple of times. It’s definitely strong enough for any task I might need it for. BUT, and here is the BUT, it doesn’t do a good job of reaching the bottom of the mixing bowl. For example, if I need it to beat a couple of eggs, it really can’t (I use a whisk instead). You also need to keep pushing down the dough that accumulates on the side of the bowl if you want an even mix. But this is my first standing mixer, and for all I know, that’s a problem with all of them. In all, I really like it and would buy it again.
Home Stuff
Ralph Lauren “Studio” Comforter
It was time to buy a new down comforter, after having ours for 8 years, and I had no idea what to buy. They range in price for about $100 (this is almost as cheap as you can get) to $500. We use our comforter year-round without a duvet (too hot) or sheets (they always roll down anyway), so I needed something nice to the touch and durable – and machine washable, as I’m definitely not having it dry cleaned every couple of weeks. After much soul searching as to how much I should spend in a comforter, I decided to go for cheap – and I’m glad I did.
This comforter was crisp when we got it, but it’s softened down and it’s quite pleasant to the touch. It’s the perfect warmth – not too hot, not too cold (we live in the Bay Area in California, our nights are usually chilly year round). I’ve machined washed it several times already, and so far it’s held its down in each square. I don’t really know why it’s so much cheaper than other comforters, but I’m quite pleased with it.
DeLonghi DFH132 SafeHeat Fan Heater
I got this for Mike’s office for Xmas. It’s very warm and works well when he turns it on – but there isn’t an on-off switch, and this seems to be very inconvenient for him, so he often doesn’t turn it on. If I was to do it again, I’d buy a heater with an on-off switch instead.
Apparel
California Golden Bears Felt Applique Long Sleeve T-Shirt
Got this for Mike when it was on sale. Nice shirt, kind of cheap applique, but good value.
Jewelry
Blomdahl Silver Titanium Hoop Earring
Got this for Mike last Christmas. He wanted a titanium earring and this fit the mark. It’s not particularly noteworthy and extremely expensive, but he seems happy with it.
Sterling Silver Satin Finish Heart Locket
This was a Christmas gift for Kathy. I’m not sure how she likes it, but I think it’s cute though a bit smaller than I imagined. Printing the pictures in the right size and cutting them in heart shape was a pain, but the results were pretty nice. Still, I think that the necklace is a bit expensive at $35 – wait until it’s on sale.
Electronics
Panasonic DVD-LS86 8.5-Inch Portable DVD Player
I actually bought this from Amazon.com – and wrote a review complaining at how slow they were to send it to me. The actual DVD player has worked quite well, I think it has a nice picture which you can see well from different angles. The sound is a bit low without headphones, but perfectly OK with headphones. It comes with a car adapter, so there are no battery problems for long car rides, and all in all I’m very happy with it. We’ve had it for 2 months and used it in 4 long trips, as well as at home, and so far so good.
Case Logic 7″-10″ In-Car DVD Player Case
Got this to use with the DVD player above. It’s relatively easy to install and fits well in our Prius. So far, no complaints.

New Look

Vox Publica now has a new look. In reality, I’ve imported the entries to a newer version of Movable Type, the blogging program I use. I just like the look better. Alas, a new blog comes with a new RSS address, this one is: http://www.voxpublica.org/img/atom.xml – so if you are subscribed to my blog, change it. If not, this may be a good time to subscribe 😉
Doing the change in blog has been a pain. Not so much for Vox Publica, but for Human Rights Listings, a blog I keep where I post jobs, internships, conferences and so forth in human rights. I haven’t found a way to export the notifications, so I’m afraid I may have to enter them one by one. That would *really* suck. Anyone has a solution?