Infographic: Don’t Turn a Blind Eye to Superfoods

My husband will regularly come to bed and have a last minute check of his social media before going to sleep and I have often noticed that his mobile phone’s screen looks a bit funny in the evening.

When I asked him about it Vlad told me that his phone has a blue light filter which means it removes all blue light emitted by the screen after a certain time as blue light can be bad for sleep.

I love to read before bed and I have a serious dependency on my Kindle to supply me with e-books while I am tucked up in bed. I have never really been worried about blue light as I usually get a decent night’s sleep, but on those occasional nights where I can’t get to sleep could blue light be to blame?

Short-wavelength, high-energy blue light scatters more easily than other visible light so it is not as easily focused. When you’re looking at digital device screens this unfocused visual “noise” reduces contrast and can contribute to digital eye strain. Blue light sources are becoming increasingly common in today’s environment, including computers, smartphones, televisions and lights.

Studies suggest that, over time, exposure to the blue end of the light spectrum could cause serious long-term damage to your eyes such as macular (retinal) degeneration. Natural exposure to blue light during the daylight hours boosts people’s energy, alertness and mood.

Elongated exposure to the blue light given off by screens during the evening can disrupt circadian rhythm and cause various health effects including a disruption in normal sleep schedules, as we have evolved being exposed to these waves during the day, not at night!

A study undertaken by Thomas Jefferson University neuroscientist George Brainard compared participants who read on light-emitting devices before sleep to those who read a regular book. Those exposed to blue light took longer to fall asleep, had less REM sleep and had higher alertness before bedtime. Those who read on the light-emitting device were sleepier and took longer to wake up.

So, what can you do help protect your eyes from this sort of damage? I recently came across this infographic from Focus Clinics which suggests a healthy diet including lutein and zeaxanthin helps support the retina. Kale comes out on top when it comes to eye superfoods with cress and spinach close runners up.

Do you use your phone or ebook reader in bed? Maybe it’s time to rethink!

focus-superfoods-infographic

Review: Polaroid ZIP Mobile Printer

I love taking photos but I have to admit that I rarely actually print them out and put them where I can be reminded of fun times gone past. When I started my Bullet Journal and joined many online communities dedicated to the system I saw that many people were using small printers to print out photos and use them to decorate their journals so I decided I wanted to give this a go too.

I purchased the Polaroid ZIP Mobile Printer having seen many people in the BuJo community singing the devices’ praises and wanting to go with a well-known brand, who better for instant photo printing than Polaroid? The ZIP comes in a range of colours and is a compact 2.9 inches x 4.7 inches x 0.9 inches and weighs in at 187g making it perfectly portable.

It has a rechargeable 500mAh lithium battery which is charged in 1.5 hrs via USB and can print 25 sheets on one charge. The printer uses ZINK Zero Ink Paper technology, printing photos onto 2×3” ZINK photo paper, which, when subjected to heat from the printer, activates unique color-forming molecules embedded in the paper’s layers.

The printer works via the Polaroid ZIP app (iOS and Android) and connects to your mobile device using Bluetooth or NFC. The app is easy to navigate and you can quickly select your photo and print or spend a few moments editing or make a collage with multiple shots before printing. The printer takes a few moments to warm up and print the photo but overall I find the process a quick and painless one!

This is certainly handy as it means no ink top ups are required and the result is smudge-proof photos with vibrant colors. I really love that the ZINK Zero Ink Paper comes with peel-back sticky paper which means it is easy to remove the backing and stick the photos I have printed out straight into my Bullet Journal with no need for glue or tape. The ZIP comes with 10 ZINK sheets and refills are easy to find online.

I have really enjoyed using my Polaroid ZIP Mobile Printer and my Bullet Journal is full of colourful photos full of memories I can look back on with fondness. It has definitely make me more likely to print out photos I have taken and I have found it easy to use without issue. I award the Polaroid ZIP Mobile Printer 5 out of 5 stars.

Polaroid ZIP Mobile Printer

photos printed by Polaroid ZIP Mobile Printer

photos printed by Polaroid ZIP Mobile Printer

Review: AmazonBasics A100 USB-Powered Computer Speakers

Last year I purchased a brand new PC for my new freelance career and was able to choose what components were used to build it which was great; except that I forgot to ask for speakers to be included!

Until recently I had been using some external speakers which had started to play up and wouldn’t always work due to power failures (despite being plugged in) so I decided to look for an alternative.

Knowing that I didn’t need to have super duper speakers I decided to look for a decent basic speaker setup to use with my computer and whilst browsing Amazon I came across the AmazonBasics A100 USB-Powered Computer Speakers which looked perfect for the job, so I ordered them for £11.99.

The AmazonBasics speakers have been designed to be compact with a simple, elegant modern design ideal perfect for setting up on a desk. They have been made to connect to almost any music player (phone, tablet, computer) via the attached 3.5mm stereo audio cable.

The speakers have a total RMS Power of 3W (1.5 per speaker) and are powered by 5V via USB, with LED power indicator and easy to use volume control with On / Standby functions. They weigh in at 572 g and at 7.8 x 7.8 x 12.5 cm they are great for moving around the house or putting in a bag and taking them with you.

When the box arrived it included two speakers (left and right) with an attached 3.5mm stereo audio cable and AC power plug.  Setting them up was super easy, you just need to plug the USB cable into your device or the wall (mine plugs into my powered USB bus) and plug the 3.5mm jack into your audio device and you are set.

I have found that the sound produced by the AmazonBasics speakers is clear and bright both for computer notifications as well as playing music to keep me entertained whilst working. The speakers work seamlessly with my computer with no connectivity problems and so far have shown no signs of power failure. The volume control lowers and raises the sounds well and the louder sounds are as clear as the quieter tones.

The only slight annoyance with the speakers is that they do require 3 cables to work – connecting the speakers together, the speakers to the power and the speakers to the audio source. Although this doesn’t bother me too much as they are just set up behind my computer monitor it might bother some people. If you are one of these people then a more costly wireless alternative may be for you.

Despite being a budget, basic product the AmazonBasics speakers feel well built and have been working brilliantly since they arrived. They have certainly made a difference to me when I’m working as I can hear notifications and can enjoy background music to keep me motivated!

I award the AmazonBasics speakers 5 out of 5 stars and definitely recommend them to anyone looking for a basic but effective product.

amazon basics speakers

Review: Lenovo TAB 2 A7-20 7-Inch Tablet

Over Easter, my mother-in-law came to stay with us to share in the seasonal celebrations. While she was here my husband decided to buy her a new tablet computer as a gift and after some research, he settled on the Lenovo TAB 2 A7-20 7-Inch Tablet which he purchased via Amazon. 

Vlad was attracted to the Lenovo TAB 2 because of the budget price tag of £68.99 balanced with the portability and specification which was impressive for the price.

The Lenovo TAB 2 comes with a quad-core 1.3GHz processor, 1GB RAM, 16GB Memory (expandable up to 32GB via a microSD card) and runs the Android 4.4 KitKat operating system. Connectivity wise, it comes with 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi connectivity and optional Bluetooth® 4.0. It has a Dolby® built-in speaker.

The Lenovo TAB 2 is described as being a wafer thin, ultra light device and coming in at 522g with dimensions of 20.8 x 12 x 6 cm it is certainly a very portable device, perfect for slipping into a pocket or handbag for on-the-go entertainment, social networking and web browsing.

The performance of the tablet is of decent quality due to the processor and RAM combination which allows for speedy browsing and loading of apps. One let down has been the screen sensitivity which is low, meaning the user has to push harder than expected to get a reaction. The Lenovo TAB 2 is slow to charge but the upside of this is the device holds charge well, lasting around 8 hours.

The tablet has a 7 inch IPS LED screen with a 1024 x 600 pixel resolution which is described as allowing for eye-popping multimedia performance. However, we have been disappointed by the quality of the screen where icons and images appear blurry around the edges. This problem extends to the camera which is low resolution and produces blurry images.

All in all, if you’re looking for a budget friendly, basic, portable tablet which will serve you well for catching up with emails or for entertaining you on a journey then the Lenovo TAB 2 A7-20 7-inch tablet may be a good choice. Alternatively, this tablet would be a great option for kids who can enjoy watching their favourite programs or playing games on the tablet and you don’t need to worry so much about them damaging a higher-end device.

The Lenovo TAB 2 certainly doesn’t measure up when compared to more expensive, higher performing devices but for the price point we have found it surprisingly good for basic tasks such as checking emails, updating social networks and playing games. We award it 4 out of 5 stars based on performance vs. price.

Lenovo TAB 2 A7-20 7-Inch Tablet

Lenovo TAB 2 A7-20 7-Inch Tablet

Lenovo TAB 2 A7-20 7-Inch Tablet

Review: iSTAT Compact reptile thermostat

We recently added a few new additions to our family in the form of some beautiful corn snakes Asa, Amber and Ash. I believe that most people think that caring for snakes is hard, I know that my mother felt that way when I was growing up and it was the main reason why we never had one when in fact they are pretty easy to look after once you have the right set up for them.

Of course, everyone knows that snakes are ‘cold blooded’ and the main thing you have to think about when setting up a vivarium is how to give the snake the chance to regulate its temperature as they can’t do this themselves. You do this by having an area of the vivarium set up with a heating device (usually a lamp or heat mat), which provides heat for the snake to warm up in should it feel the need.

I have heat mats in each of my vivariums (safely beneath glass so the snakes can’t accidentally burn themselves by direct contact), to keep one end of the habitat a toasty 30°C which is the optimal temperature for a corn snake.

It is generally accepted in the reptile community that when using a heating device it is safest to use a thermostat to regulate the heat to ensure a stable atmosphere. I will admit that when I simply had the heat mats running without a thermostat it was a struggle to keep the temperatures in all three vivariums (which are stacked on top of each other) stable, especially as they are right next to a radiator.

Having done some research I decided to go for the iSTAT compact which had all the functions I needed in a perfect size, is available in a range of attractive colours, within a reasonable price range. iSTAT is dedicated to creating products that mimic the natural environment and offer the tools to monitor and control Humidity, Temperature, UV lighting and LED Lighting.

The iSTAT compact measures in at just 10cm x 5cm whilst having all of the functionality of a large thermostat boasting 6 different modes:

  • On/Off – suitable especially for heat mats
  • Pulse – perfect for ceramic bulbs
  • Dimmer – good for basking and spot bulbs over 40w
  • Cooling – for fan and cooling units
  • Humidity Control Modes (perfect for rain and misting systems)
  • Burst Continuous

The device comes with three cables – a cable powering the device which plugs into the wall, a temperature probe to measure the heat level in the vivarium and a plug into which you plug the heating device. The thermostat works by measuring the temperature and adjusting the power level going to the heating device as required to maintain the temperature set by the user.

The compact is quick to install in the vivarium and is easy to use – simply use the dial to select the mode and to change the settings by pressing or turning. After only a few minutes of running, I watched the temperatures level out nicely from 37°C down to 30°C and they have been stable ever since, making me much happier in the knowledge that my snakes have the correct living conditions.

I really like the iSTAT compact thermostat device. It is easy and simple to use, works perfectly and gives me peace of mind. I love that it is a great size and I could choose the colours; I have three different ones so I know which one controls which vivarium. I recommend the device to anyone who keeps reptiles and award the iSTAT compact 5 out of 5 stars.

Review: iSTAT Compact reptile thermostat purple

Review: iSTAT Compact reptile thermostat purple

Review: Arcadia #Vaping #Ejuice from VIP Electronic Cigarette

As you are well aware by now my husband is an ex-smoker who is on the straight and narrow thanks to electronic cigarettes and the safer nicotine boost which comes from vaping.

Over the last year or so he has honed his vaping preferences and now knows what he likes when it comes to e-juices thanks to trying and testing all sorts of flavours and brands.

He was lucky enough to have been sent another selection of e-juices recently from the premium Arcadia range from VIP Electronic Cigarette  (VIP Cig) you can see his notes below.

General Comments

As expected, the selection from the premium Arcadia range of e-juices all came in smart packaging and have big flavours with all having a 70 VG/30 PG ratio and being available in 3, 6 and 12mg of nicotine. Vlad currently vapes 3mg.

Vlad usually prefers to sub-ohm vape and discovered that despite being 70/30 these juices can be a bit harsh on the throat so if you prefer smoother vapes do keep this in mind, although it did not stop Vlad from enjoying these particular flavours. All of this selection produced a good amount of vapour.

Sweet Fog

VIP Cig really hit the nail on the head with the recent selection which was sent to us which included Sweet Fog, an e-juice flavoured with sweet marshmallows, smooth peanut butter and caramel cream. Vlad loves ‘pudding’ flavours and this certainly fit the bill with an almost chewy marshmallow flavour complimented by the taste of peanut – a treat for Vlad as he can’t eat them!

Pie Assassin

Vlad is also unable to eat most baked goods so Pie Assassin’s hit of freshly baked apple pie is a welcome treat. This e-juice combines classic flavours of apple pie with gooey caramel and thick double cream, perfect for anyone who craves sumptuous sweet and sticky puddings, Pie Assassin is the perfect vape after a meal and was Vlad’s favourite from this selection.

The Heretic

If you are a cookie junkie then this is the e-juice for you! The Heretic blends the warming flavour of freshly baked cinnamon cookies with the creamy taste of bananas for a sweet and spicy vape which Vlad found comforting and satisfying.

Viceberg Blue

This e-juice was Vlad’s least favourite due to the simple fact that he is not a fan of menthol flavours. Viceberg Blue teams menthol with sweet summer berries and just a touch of sharp citrus to create a flavour combination which is cooling and fresh in the mouth. This would be the perfect vape for a summer’s evening out in the garden.

Divinity

Vlad’s second favourite from this selection was the berry inspired Divinity which teams blueberries with pomegranates, topped with cream. Although he couldn’t taste much of the pomegranate Vlad loved the sharp and sweetness from the blueberries perfect for cutting through the indulgent undertones of cream.

All in all, Vlad really enjoyed testing this selection from the premium Arcadia range from VIP Electronic Cigarette with their hits of spice, sugar and sharpness. He awards them 4 out of 5 stars. and would recommend them as a particularly good choice for anyone who loves ‘pudding’ flavours just like him.

VIP Electronic Cigarette EJuices

Review: Aspire PockeX Pocket AIO #Vaping #Ecigarette

Aspire is one of my husband’s favourite vaping brands, having found their products reliable and enjoyable to use, so when he was given the opportunity to review the Aspire PockeX Pocket AIO from ECigWizard he jumped at the chance.

The Aspire PockeX Pocket AIO model is sleeker than my husband’s usual sub ohm e-cigarettes, at 11.77cm tall and 1.97cm wide. It is an all new, discreet, low profile sub ohm device using a 0.6Ω stainless steel Nautilus X U-Tech coil, with a wide Delrin drip-tip and big top-airflow allowing for increased vapour production.

The Aspire PockeX Pocket AIO fills from the top which means it is easy to replace coils as there is no need to drain the 2ml tank (TPD Compliant) first. The device has designed to be leak proof, perfect for transporting the e-cigarette in a pocket, and has a battery capacity if 1500mah.

Handily you can tell how much battery is remaining by noting the colour of the fire button; blue means you have more than 30% power, pink means less than 30% so prepare to charge! One issue is that the kit is not suitable for use with e-liquid with a VG content lower than 50%, although this doesn’t affect my husband.

The Aspire PockeX Pocket AIO comes in four colours; black, white, stainless steel and rose gold so you can pick whichever best suits your style. Vlad has certainly found it to be comparable with his larger, bulkier sub-ohm devices and has been favouring it on days out due to its portability and reliability.

Vlad has been very happy with the elegant Aspire PockeX Pocket AIO and awards it 5 out of 5 stars.

Aspire PockeX Pocket AIO

 

Review: Bellabeat Urban activity health tracker

Ok, I’ll admit that for one of my New Year’s Resolutions I want to try and get healthier in 2017. Unfortunately, I have slowly put on weight for the last 8 years and I have decided that this will be the year that I finally get around to doing something about it.

I am experimenting with my diet and trying to get in more exercise and having spotted the Bellabeat activity tracker, which has specifically been designed for women, a few years ago and having lusted after one ever since I decided to treat myself to the Bellabeat Urban tracker in rose gold in an attempt to boost and motivate me.

Like most people who have tried to get active, I have tried other similar devices, a notable one being the FitBit which I really liked but found annoying having to charge it frequently as I would forget to put it back on! I also felt that although it looked smart and was practical it wasn’t something that would really inspire me. A major attraction of the Bellabeat Leaf Urban is the battery which can last for up to 6 months and is easily changed when the time comes.

The Bellabeat Urban is a health tracker which not only tracks activity but also records sleep, stress levels and your monthly menstruation cycle. The device itself doesn’t have a screen but it comes with a fully comprehensive and attractive app which syncs to the device via Bluetooth.

Made from a water-resistant certified wood composite and stainless steel the Bellabeat tracker is versatile and comfortable enough to wear all day long. Due to its elegant geometric design it is often mistaken for a nice piece of jewellery rather than an obvious activity tracker, blending into your life neatly and not attracting unwanted attention and questions!

Unlike most other activity trackers which sit on the wrist, the Bellabeat can be worn as a bracelet, a necklace or as a clip which makes it far more flexible and weighing in at only 16.5g it’s easy to wear and forget about! It is recommended that you wear the Bellabeat as a bracelet during the day and as a clip at night to get the best recordings, but it’s really up to you.

I really love how the Bellabeat Leaf Urban tracks activity in minutes, steps and calories so you can choose what goal you want to set yourself. So far I have found the tracking to be sensible and not wildly inaccurate from what I would expect. You can also set vibrating reminders to go off after a chosen time of inactivity to remind you to get up and moving when you’re sitting at your desk (or on the sofa!)

The Urban’s activity, sleep and period tracking help to detect potential high-stress days. The app comes with guided meditation exercises which will teach you how some simple breathing and relaxation techniques can lower your stress levels and improve your wellbeing. I have to admit I was a little sceptical about meditation but having done at least 10 minutes a day with the Bellabeat I have realised that practising mindfulness really does help to soothe and relax me.

I love being able to track my sleep and to understand how much deep and light sleep I get every night. I have to admit that I like at least 8 hours per night and it’s interesting to see how even 1 hour less can really affect my mood! Unlike other trackers (like the FitBit) which you tap to tell it you’re going to bed, the Bellabeat automatically decides you’re sleeping based on your movement which is handy although I do find myself having to manually tell it when I got up as it sometimes mistakes a nighttime trip to the bathroom as me getting up for the day although this doesn’t bother me.

Having gone through a period (no pun intended) of time where my cycle was a bit out of whack due to my contraceptive implant (never again), I have been using a tracking app to keep on top of my periods for the last couple of years – noting the dates and length of each one. I love that I can now combine this with my activity tracker thanks to the Bellabeat app. It’s great for predicting periods and shows you when you are most fertile. The tracker also has a pregnancy mode which helps you track milestones when you are expecting.

Bellabeat believes that technology is at its best when it’s helping people to be even better. I have really enjoyed all elements of the tracker and the app and I feel that it is really motivating me to keep on track for a healthier 2017! I award it 5 out of 5 stars and would recommend it to any lady looking to track their health and wellbeing.

rose gold urban bellabeat activity tracker

Review: VIP Cig Mini Kit 40w Sub Ohm #vaping

Having graduated from his starter kit a good while ago, my husband now uses a sub ohm e-cigarette which allows him more flexibility when it comes to adjusting the power of his device.

Basic e-cigarettes range from 1.5 ohms to 2.8 ohms but sub ohm devices offer lower resistance leading to a more intense vaping experience. Ultimately this means you get more bang for your e-juice buck.

Vlad’s current sub ohm e-cigarette has a huge battery which is great for longevity but not so great when it comes to portability, so when he was offered the chance to try a Mini 40 Sub Ohm vaping kit from VIP Electronic Cigarette, a much smaller device boasting the same performance, he was keen to give it a go.

The mini kit from VIP Cig is described as a compact but powerful mod with a maximum output of 40w making it suitable for both vaping and sub-ohming. The tank for the mini kit holds 2ml of e-liquid and is top loading for easy and clean refilling. The device has been ergonomically designed and fits nicely in the palm of your hand.

It has a smart look with a black aluminium alloy body with a handy LED display showing battery levels and the current setting. The kit includes the vaping device with atomiser tank, a spare coil, manual and a USB cable for charging.

Vlad has been using the VIP Cig mini kit for several weeks now and is overall very impressed with the performance of the kit. Besides being smaller, which is in itself a benefit for portability, the kit has surprisingly shown itself to be equal to the larger sub ohm device.

Vlad now frequently uses the mini kit as a more mobile option when he is out and about. In addition during her visit over the New Year period my mother in law, who has smoked for many years, was introduced to the mini kit and has since discovered the benefits of vaping. I hope she keeps it up!

Overall Vlad awards the VIP Cig mini sub ohm vaping kit 5 out of 5 stars.

VIP Cig mini sub ohm vaping kit

Review: Olixar Drop and Play Wireless Speaker

I love listening to music in the house when I am working on my blog or getting on with household tasks like doing the washing up. I work best when there is music on in the background, however, I have to admit that I get annoyed constantly syncing my phone up to speakers via Bluetooth. It just seems like an annoying step before I get to enjoy my music.

When I came across the Olixar Drop and Play Wireless Speaker (available from MobileFun) which claimed to play music without need for any sort of connectivity, Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, just by putting the phone on top of the speaker, I couldn’t help but raise a curious eyebrow and question just how in the world it would actually work.

The Olixar Drop and Play Speaker uses induction technology which instantly amplifies music simply by placing your phone onto the speaker, aligning the phone’s speakers with the designated location on the top of the Olixar unit. The Drop and Play Speaker also has a 3.5mm jack and comes with an AUX audio cable for complete compatibility although it is compatible with a wide range of devices which have built-in mobile speakers.

When I opened the box and lifted the Olixar speaker out I was surprised at just how light it was, coming in at just 155g, as most other speakers are quite hefty. This makes the Olixar Drop and Play Speaker perfectly portable for moving around the house as you move rooms, or even to take on the road to entertain you during a summer picnic or a friend’s party.

The unit is powered by a rechargeable built-in battery which is easily charged up via USB cable which comes in the box. This is handy as it means no need to change batteries. Despite having a compact battery the speaker actually does have a decent clear sound produced via dual speakers.

I have to admit that I was really surprised at the quality of sound from the speaker considering its size, power supply and of course the lack of connection! I have experimented with various styles of music and have found it to produce pleasant treble and a good standard of bass. I have found that some percussion can lack some distinction, for example, the snare but overall it has a really great sound.

I have really been enjoying using the Olixar Drop and Play Speaker as it has made it much faster and easier to listen to music without having to pair or sync my phone to a speaker. It has great sound quality and is easy to move around due to its light weight. I award the Olixar Drop and Play Speaker 5 out of 5 stars.

Olixar Drop and Play Wireless Speaker

Olixar Drop and Play Wireless Speaker with phone

5stars