Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Review: Melitta "Ready Set Joe Cone" Single cup Manual Coffee Brewer

amazon pic of Melitta Ready Set Joe black brew cone
pic from the Internet
I got one of these cuties at Walmart for a few bucks the other day, and I love it! I affectionately call mine "little Joe" (awwwwww). I must admit that I have a lot of coffee equipment: a basic automatic drip coffee maker, espresso machine, stove-top espresso maker, frother thingies, a couple of bean grinders. I love me some coffee and coffee gadgets!

"Pumibel, why the hell would you want with this thing when you have all those other really cool coffee things?", you ask. Well, I'll tell you. Do you have only one pair of black shoes? (don't answer that if you are a guy). If that is too glib of an answer, I also have logical reasoning for buying the manual brewer, and here it is:

Most days I make a 10 cup pot of coffee early in the morning, from which I have a mug or two and my mother drinks most of the remaining coffee throughout the day.  I am picky and will not drink reheated coffee or coffee that has been on the burner for hours. My mom, on the other hand, will drink it to the last bit of sedimentary sludge without batting an eye. If I want a cup of coffee later in the day, and there is still some of the morning dregs in the pot, I have to transfer the old stuff into a container and brew fresh because we do not waste the coffee. Mom has to heat up her coffee, too.  Now I can just fix up my one cup and leave her sludge on the burner until it either solidifies or she slices herself a cup.

Prismacolor Scholar Line Colored Pencils, Review and Small Rant about Reviewers

amazon pic of Prismacolor Scholar Colored Pencils
pic from Amazon.com listing

Back in June of this year I was browsing Amazon.com for some art supplies and found they had a set of  Prismacolor Scholar series colored pencils for a really good price. Then I made the mistake of reading the reviews. I swear people will complain about anything, and when I read reviews I expect to learn about the product performance and stuff like that, not about personal pet peeves.  

While I understand that certain points made in a review are purely subjective,  what got to me on this occasion was that some reviewers said they were dissatisfied with the plastic packaging, and one person actually returned the package of pencils. Just for that. Didn't try them out, no broken pencils or anything like that. They misread the description and thought the pencils would come in a wooden box. (If you don't want to read my wordy review I will just restate here that these are quality pencils that have been packaged cheaply to save "starving artists" some cash, and "wood casing" in the description describes the pencil's construction not the packaging.) 

My original review is here, but I have included it in this post as well with just a few edits for clarity. I don't work for the company or anything- I just have a fondness for the products, and I use them in commission work as well as my personal and portfolio pieces.

Prismacolor “Scholar” Colored Pencil, 24 Colors Review:

I noticed so many people complaining about the packaging, and I felt the need to write my own review because I have extensive experience with the product. I have been using Prismacolor pencils for more than 20 years, and the quality of these colored pencils cannot be beat, in my opinion. I have used expensive Derwent, Faber Castle, and many others. They are not as good, and I always end up reaching for my Prismacolors.

Most important note: The company packages the "scholar" line of pencils cheaply so that they can offer them at a lower price to art students who typically cannot afford high quality art supplies. The scholar pencils are just as nice as the professional "artist" line, which comes in metal tins or wooden boxes.

Another note: "wood casing" in the description refers to the pencil itself. The pigment lead is "encased" in a wooden barrel. As you see by the picture, these are in a clear plastic case (this would be the perfect spot for an epic Picard face palm meme, but I will spare you that cliché, though I find them quite funny to this day- I digress).

A set of 24 Prismas will usually cost at least $24-25 in the cardboard or tin cases. Larger sets in those fancy wooden boxes can cost hundreds. Here you have a set of 24 in a plastic envelope thing, and this has caused people to give poor reviews and return the items. You bought some of the best pencils around for half price, people- the packaging is irrelevant! I noticed that these reviewers mentioned nothing about the pencils themselves. Are you kidding?

I am an artist by profession, so I have plastic containers and drawers for all of my supplies. When I buy pencils they are going to go in the appropriate bin, so the packaging is not an issue- I prefer to pay for the contents. Other artists I know also store pencils in their own bins and boxes.

I have to replace my colored pencils fairly often since I use them to the nub, and buying 24 for $12-13 is certainly a great thing. If you have to replace a single pencil you will pay at least a dollar per pencil at most craft stores, so no doubt this is an economical alternative. Most likely, you will use up these standard colors first.

BTW- I see a picture of pencils in the plastic case up there (again, the pic at Amazon.com) for this item, so I don't know which product these other people are even looking at. Regardless, this set of 24 Prismacolor pencils is a steal. They are described as "student" quality, but do not let that fool you. These are not Crayolas by a long shot. I use them along with Prismacolor Artist pencils (the professional ones) and I really can't tell one from the other.

I just wanted to stick up for these amazing pencils since people have made the rating low for stupid reasons. Review the actual product- it is not helpful to others to complain about the case when most artists keep their supplies in other containers anyway.

Okay, so I will step off my high horse now and add this useful tidbit that I have also used in a reply to another customer:

The pencils in the Scholar line are named differently than Premier line , with numbers only versus the "Premiere" color names that have a descriptive name (i.e "Crimson Red") along with an alphanumeric code like "PC 924", which is the Crimson Red designation. The corresponding Scholar pencil is numbered "324". Simply put, the last two numbers will match. This works for the core colors up to at least the 48 range, but I do know that some of the more “designer” colors (like the metallics and muted pastels) with numbers over 999 are not part of the Scholar line. The Art Stix are numbered like the Premier line with the corresponding “PC” labels as well.

I should also add that when I use the same colors for the scholar and premier lines side-by-side I cannot tell the difference.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Fekkai Technician Color Care Review (Bzz Agent Review)

image of shampoo bottle
pic from Amazon.com listing
Disclaimer:  I am a Bzz Agent, so I was fortunate to receive free bottles of the Fekkai Technician Color Care shampoo and conditioner for review. They also sent several packets of Glossing Creme to sample and to give to friends or family (I really wanted to hoard these for myself, to be completely honest).

I have wavy to curly, color-treated hair that is thick and somewhat coarse. Both the Fekkai shampoo and conditioner have a wonderful scent that is neither overwhelming nor artificial-smelling.The result of using both products, even after one use, was shiny, soft bouncy hair.

As I used the Fekkai color-care products longer, my hair became more manageable and shinier.I think the color protection is excellent as well. I have colored only my roots for the past 2 months, and the color on my hair length has stayed dark and rich- no brassiness that occurs when dark brown dye fades too much

I have added a few notes about each product, but the bottom line is that I would dump Nexxus products for these, and that is saying a lot since I have used the Therappe shampoo and various Nexxus conditioners for over a decade.

The Bzzzzzz

Update, Aug 2015

Just as I had predicted below in my inaugural post back in 2011, I had very spotty attendance with this blog for several years. Lately, I have been posting more regularly with some very informative content(if I may say so myself). The original intent for this blog was to provide a variety of eclectic product reviews, but over time I have discovered that this was either A. a stupid idea, B. far too ambitious a goal (too many possible subjects), or C. simply not sustainable for me. Maybe a blend of all three is more accurate, but I also feel that I need to narrow my focus in order to grow a steady audience and provide readers with content they can use and enjoy.

My most recent posts have centered mainly upon art supplies and technique, and I would like to narrow it down to the most affordable products for students and "starving artists" (like me). I will probably take a detour here and there when I come across something sooooo coooool (in my world, anyway) that I have to blog about it. So this is still "a place for cool stuff", but most of the cool stuff will be related to art and art materials.

I will try to keep this one brief as I can be quite wordy and sometimes...*sigh... pedantic. Some time last year (or possibly the year before- time blurs for eccentrics like me) I became a Bzz Agent. "What is a Bzz Agent?" you ask. Well, basically a Bzz Agent signs up and agrees to try out products for review. Now, this is a word-of-mouth type of advertising that many major companies use for new products. Agents get a package of free goodies or coupons for free stuff and try out the product, write reviews, Tweet, and talk about their experience with the items in question. The products can be anything from personal hygiene to pet food or kitchen gadgets. The most important thing to remember as a Bzz Agent is to be honest and objective. Yes, we get freebies to test out, but we are not paid to advertise. Not everything I have reviewed for a campaign has been great, and I don't sugar coat any of it, either. 

That said, I will be putting a lot reviews in this blog for my Bzz campaigns, which means I may be reviewing hair products one time and floor cleaner or cloud storage sites the next. I also post some of them on my Facebook page or at Amazon.com and other sites, so if you see it verbatim elsewhere, rest assured I wrote it myself and posted it and did not plagiarize it from the other sites.

I am likely going to add a couple of posts right after this one to get this blog rolling. I have a habit of starting blogs, posting once or twice, then abandoning them for years (this one was once a collector doll blog with a single maiden post that no one ever viewed). I am trying to do better as I write for a living and this should not be so hard to keep up. I also have some reviews saved up or rolling about in my brain ready to be unleashed on the unsuspecting public. And with that final warning, I shall sign off for now.