The Chronic Consumer

I buy things — all the time!

Lands’ End Women’s Floral Poplin Shirt

I used to shop at Lands’ End quite a bit when I was younger, but hadn’t visited their site in years. Then last week I decided to check it out and came across some nice sale items that I wound up purchasing. Among my purchases was this women’s floral poplin shirt, which was originally listed at $49.50 but was marked all the way down to $14.97.

The shirt is made of a lightweight cotton and a “sueded finish” (whatever that means), so it was soft and comfortable right out of the box. Being that this was the first time I ordered something from Lands’ End in years, I was a bit worried about whether or not the sizing would be accurate. I consulted the size chart and ordered a medium, but think I’ll go with a small next time. The shirt is too long in the sleeves, so I’ll always have to roll them up, but this is not an issue that would compel me to make a return.

Anyway, I wore this shirt with a pair of jeans while video conferencing for work the other day and received a nice compliment on it from one of my colleagues. Let me be clear: this shirt is certainly not suitable for the office, but for a casual video conference, it’s just fine.

I am satisfied with the quality and the Lands’ End shopping experience in general, so I’ll definitely be scouting their sales more often!

Winter Gear Sales

Now that spring is here, a lot of high-quality winter gear is going on sale. This is when I usually buy stuff for my family for next year because it really does save a lot of money.

Right now I’m looking for a pair of lined Carhartt coveralls like the ones in the picture for my husband to use while snowmobiling. I am also looking for a new jacket and snow boots for my son. He’s a little more difficult to buy for since I have to guesstimate what size he’ll be 9 months from now, but still…. Even if I guess wrong, we can give the item to one of the younger cousins, so it won’t be a total loss.

Anyway, let’s hope I can find some huge discounts on these things!

Controversial Belvedere Vodka Ad

Have you seen this ad from Belvedere Vodka?

It has come under fire from some critics because it appears to “make light of sexual assault”.

I don’t know about that. I mean, the ad is definitely in bad taste and does not make me want to go out and buy the product…ever. But I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s joking about sexual assault. It doesn’t look like the girl in the photo is being “forced” to do anything or that she’s necessarily in a dangerous position.

My take on the ad is that this couple were in the midst of getting it on when the guy proposed “going down”. The girl was horrified, and got up to leave. That’s it.

Yeah, I guess you could make the case that the guy is restraining her, but it’s a photograph. If the hypothetical situation were allowed to play out, who’s to say he wouldn’t have released her the next second?

At any rate, the company president has apologized and is making a donation to a sexual assault victim’s fund (or something like that), so this will undoubtedly blow over (no pun intended) in a little bit.

Nalgene Tritan Bottle

I’m trying to be more environmentally conscious, and one of the ways I’m doing this is by not buying bottled water anymore. Instead, I have a filter attached to my kitchen tap, and I’m using water bottles such as the Nalgene Tritan version pictured here.

Nalgene is a BPA-free material that is supposed to be highly resistant to impacts. It sounds like this bottle would be good for sports or the gym, but I’m just using it around the house or at my desk, since I already have a Camelbak Better Bottle for on-the-go purposes.

Anyway, here are the features of this bottle, as listed by the manufacturer:

  • Made of BPA-free Eastman Tritan co-polyester
  • Dishwasher safe on the top rack
  • Superior impact resistance
  • Suitable for both warm and cold beverages (-40 to 212 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Convenient loop-top design means you’ll never lose the lid
  • Wide mouth makes cleaning and adding ice cubes easy
  • Opening accommodates most water filters
  • Marked with milliliters and ounces for easy measurement
  • Made in USA

I particularly like the wide mouth for adding ice, the attached cap, and the measurement markings on the bottle. You never realize how convenient those things are to have until you actually start using them, I guess. Plus, I like the fact that there was no plastic-y taste to my drinks even after I first bought the bottle, which is definitely a problem with some other brands.

This 1-pint bottle was just eight bucks at Amazon, and is one of the better small purchases I’ve made recently. I feel like I’m ready for the summer now!

Pirate Puzzles iPad App by Ayars Animation

A short time ago, I received a complimentary copy of the Pirate Puzzles iPad app by Ayars Animation to evaluate and review. Despite the fact that the app was free, I still intend to give you a truthful, unbiased opinion of the product based on actual usage and reactions.

First, here is the description of the product as published at the App Store:

Pirate Puzzles is a fun-filled and engaging app for children ages 3-7 years old. Young buccaneers complete more than 15 puzzles ranging in difficulty. When successful, children unlock the mystery Pirate Songs! They are carried away in an ocean of pirate music, animation, and swashbuckling fun. Watch your child sail the high seas with Pirate Puzzles, the latest interactive application from Ayars Animation!

And a couple of screen shots to give you an idea of what the menu and puzzles look like (you may click to enlarge):

This app contains 18 total puzzles that are divided into two separate sets of 9 puzzles each. The first set comes with bigger pieces and is fairly easy; the second set gets progressively more difficult. Each puzzle is colorful and richly detailed, as you would expect from Ayars, and upon successful completion of a puzzle, the child is rewarded with a short, interactive animation. Completing all 9 puzzles in a set unlocks a longer pirate song (over 3 minutes) with plenty of fun interactions strewn across the screen.

What I like about Pirate Puzzles is that the puzzle pieces are easy to maneuver and place on the grid, and the app was completely bug-free as far as I could tell. Furthermore, since puzzles help children develop better visual perceptual skills, spatial awareness, and coordination, Pirate Puzzles would be a wonderful addition to any list of must-have educational apps for youngsters.

The only thing I would warn against is that the recommended age range of 3-7 seems a bit too wide for the level of difficulty presented. I can’t really imagine many 7-year-olds being challenged by these puzzles, so I would tighten the age range down to maybe 3-6.

Overall, Pirate Puzzles is an entertaining app that younger children are sure to enjoy. The $.99 price tag is just right, too, so visit the App Store right now to download Pirate Puzzles for your little swashbuckler!

Wendy’s Beats Burger King

Wendy’s has overtaken Burger King as the No.2 burger franchise in the country behind McDonald’s. Wendy’s posted $8.5 billion in sales to edge out Burger King’s $8.4 billion, marking the first time in the company’s history that it has claimed the number 2 spot. McDonald’s lead of $34 billion appears to be completely safe 😉 .

I have always liked Wendy’s more than BK, and I always see more people at the Wendy’s near my house than at the Burger King. In fact, one of the local BK franchises recently went out of business, which is relatively rare even in this economy. Anyway, I’m not surprised that Wendy’s has finally beaten out Burger King; I just can’t believe it took this long.

Note: Subway is the No. 2 fast food chain, but the article I read focused solely on burger joints.

End of Encyclopedia Britannica Print Edition

Last week, the publishers of Encyclopedia Britannica announced that they were putting an end to the 32-volume print edition. Instead, the contents of the encyclopedia, which had been in print form for 244 years, will now be available in digital editions only. Customers may purchase a CD-ROM or subscriptions to access the online version.

This is kind of sad news for me, as I have fond memories of using Encyclopedia Britannica as a kid. I never had the set in my home, but my elementary school library had them. And each week, in that pre-Internet age, the librarians would have an encyclopedia scavenger hunt for us kids. They’d make a list of 10 obscure questions, and we’d have to find the answers in the encyclopedia. The prizes were nothing big, just bookmarks, candy, or other small treats, but it was a lot of fun for a nerd like me. And of course I learned how to efficiently look up information in the process!

Oh, well… Nothing lasts forever, right? RIP, print edition!

Deluxe Nylon Sleeve for iPad

I don’t take my iPad out of the house very often (I have an iPhone for that), but when I do, I want to be able to carry it in a small protective case rather than in a huge backpack or shoulder bag. So after doing some checking, I decided to give this Tribeca deluxe nylon sleeve a try.

These are the product details, as published by the manufacturer:

  • Protective sleeve (case) fits all generations of Apple iPad; absorbs shocks and protects iPad’s screen and finish
  • Made of durable, water-resistant black nylon
  • Zippered main compartment; side handle for carrying; zippered external front pocket holds cords and accessories
  • Screen-printed with official NCAA College Basketball team logo of your choice
  • Measures 11-1/2 inches long by 8-1/2 inches high by 1-1/4 inches wide

So far, I really like this case. My iPad fits in there even with the Apple Smartcover and a hard plastic protective back on the unit, but there’s not too much extra room (which is great). I haven’t used the pockets for any cords yet, but I do find them convenient for cash, my driver’s license or other ID, etc. Furthermore, the shoulder strap and carrying handle seem to be extremely durable and safe to use.

The only thing I don’t like about my new nylon iPad sleeve is that the shoulder strap is incredibly difficult to remove! You have to push in some pins and simultaneously try to slide the bracket out of the strap loop. It’s doable, but it takes me forever and always ends up either hurting my fingers or breaking a nail.

Nevertheless, I think this Deluxe Nylon iPad Sleeve from Tribeca is a good product. At $34.99 it’s not the cheapest option out there, but if you want to show your school spirit while protecting your gadget, this is a pretty good buy.