Product Rhi-view: Maroo iPad 2 Cover

Attractive & Functional at an Affordable Price Range! (4 Stars)

Getting an iPad 2 was kind of a fluke for me so when I got it I had no idea what was out there as far as cases, covers, screen protectors and such. To make it worse, when it comes to buying a protective case for my gadgets I am picky. Super picky. I have my wishlist of desired qualities and they've all got to be met to a four-star standard or I won't go for it. I want #1 good protection with portability in mind, #2 not to spend half the cost of the gadget to get it and #3 being attractive enough I don't want to hide it. The Maroo Koe II met all three with flying colors.

Made of nylon (the plaid part) and soft suede it's not a bulky cover. Keeping that in mind this won't offer significant drop protection but provides adequate protection for most everyday situations. The amazing Bumper thingy that holds the iPad 2 in though is my new best friend. The support there is exceptional and works perfectly with my ZAGG InvisibleSHIELD for iPad 2. That this cover still allows me to have a good screen protector in place earns it brownie points in my book. Two elastic loops flip from the inner cover around the back to keep it in place when in a backpack or at your beside and also will hold the cover open if desired. Using the same magnetic technology as the Smart Covers the front cover sticks gently to the iPad 2 as well as offering the same on-off feature. It also has the ability to fold into two different standing positions while in landscape mode.

Now I have two issues I do want to mention. The first is that while I love having full access to my buttons and charging port I wish the port had a little better protection when not plugged in. The other is possibly something unrelated but it's only been happening since I started using the Maroo. Occasionally I will open the front and the magnets will wake my iPad 2 but it will get locked into landscape mode no matter what I do. The only thing that fixes it is tipping it, putting it to sleep using the button and waking it using the home button. All I can guess is this is related to the magnets or my iPad might be having issues I need to look into. Either way it's not a big problem, just bothersome.

Even at full price this is pretty good protection with versatility and I LOVE the plaid and black. Seriously, it's like someone was reading my mind and made the perfect cover for me. In fact, I like it so well I'm looking into getting the matching Kindle version. Highly recommended if you're looking for the three things I mentioned.


Toy Rhi-view: Melissa & Doug Deluxe Wooden Magnetic Kitchen Bottle Collection

A durable toddler favorite. (5 Stars)

Let's face it. Finding cool toys for the toddler-under-3 set is almost impossible. They're too young for most of the really fun stuff and too developed to enjoy most of the toys that are safe for their age. Limited to shape sorters, stackers and very few items that encourage pretend play it's just plain frustrating to find enjoyable toys to hold my little one's attention.

From shortly before her first birthday—she's 22-months-old now—my toddler has been showing an interest in pretend play and a penchant for mimicry of adult actions like combing hair or putting on shoes. Her little plastic tea pot that sings and the cups that come with it are a favorite. Making slurping noises when she'd pretend to drink from those little cups was the behavior that prompted my search for toys in a similar vein that she could play with. Everything in the food related pretend play seems to fall in the 3+ range for safety. Tea sets, toy food, wooden pots and pans. One of the only items I could find was this set.

These are chubby wooden "bottles" with a magnet embedded in the top. They have removable tops that have a magnet within them too. They snap back onto their matching colored partner letting a toddler both pretend to open and use the "contents" of the bottle as well as learn to identify colors. They're rather simple in styling but can take quite the beating. One of my toddler's favorite pastimes involves throwing toys down the stairs to see the effect and these have had more trips up and down my stairs than I can count in the four months we've had them. They've also endured a fair amount of knawing. I would caution parental supervision with the size on the red, green, and orange lids as they are a little bit narrow. They're not quite small enough that my daughter would potentially choke but I'm cautious about anything she can fit mostly into her mouth.

I'm a big fan of Melissa & Doug toys in general, I think their products are well made and beautiful while being fun too. I can't wait till my little lady turns 3 and we can add some of their other cute food playthings to our toy box.

Buy this and other pretend play Melissa and Doug toys:

Notes: This product was purchased by me and I have received no compensation for endorsing this product.


Produce Pick of the Month: Blueberries

Blueberries are truly an All-American fruit, well... as American as a fruit can get right?

Native to North America, blueberries were already being used by the Native Americans as both food and medicine. It is even believed that blueberries were served to the pilgrims at the first Thanksgiving. The modern blueberry, the Highbush Blueberry, commercially grown today was cultivated by Elizabeth White, a New Jersey farmer's daughter, and Dr. Frederick Coville.

Loaded with fiber and vitamin C blueberries are a healthy addition to your everyday diet. They're rich in antioxidant power too! What makes blueberries my produce pick of the month is their ease of use. While perfectly great by the handful they're also easy to toss into salad or cereal, top yogurt or ice cream. With their brilliant hue they're pretty when added to less colorful dishes and they mix well with so many other foods from poultry and citrus fruits to baked goods and hot cereal.

Keeping in mind that while blueberries are rich in good stuff your body needs they're also one of the Environmental Working Groups' "Dirty Dozen", foods that test high for traces of pesticides. Meaning it's best to try and buy them organic when possible.

But how do you choose fresh blueberries? I think they're one of the easiest fruits to buy. You want the ones that are plump (not withered looking), have a purple-blue to deep-blue almost black color with a frosty silver brushed look. Since they usually come in plastic containers check the bottom and the sides for dampness and stains, skip the ones that have it because it's a sign the fruit is bruised and may have mold hiding in the middle. Having had my fare share of blueberries I've had to toss from not knowing this I've become a blueberry expert at the store. When you get them home just pop them in the fridge and do not wash them until you're ready to gobble them up.

Want to freeze your own blueberries? Check out blueberrycouncil.org for the lowdown on how to do it right!

One of my favorite recipes for a summer into autumn dessert is a recipe from Real Simple magazine for Peach Crisp. But when I make it I substitute a cup of blueberries for a few of the peaches. Together the bright sweetness of the blueberries add a little bit of texture to the squishy velvety peaches. It's absolutely divine and the recipe is so simple!
Peach Crisp By Sara Quessenberry, August 2009 (source)

Serves 8
Hands-On Time: 20m
Total Time: 1hr 15m

5 pounds peaches (about 12), each cut into 8 wedges
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup almonds, roughly chopped

1.Heat oven to 350° F. In a large bowl, toss the peaches, granulated sugar, and 1 tablespoon of the flour. Transfer to a shallow 3-quart baking dish.
2.In a separate bowl, combine the brown sugar, salt, and the remaining 3/4 cup of flour. Using your fingers, incorporate the butter until coarse crumbs form. Mix in the oats and almonds.
3.Squeeze the topping into marble-size clumps and sprinkle on the peaches. Bake until the top is golden and the fruit is tender, 45 to 55 minutes.

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Recipe courtesy of:
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