Friday, February 21, 2020

LEGO® Fire Helicopter Response 60248 - Review #JillOfAllTrades

I do not know why, but small boys are REALLY obsessed with fire-fighters, fire-station and so on. In-fact kiddo's school even recently took them to see the local fire-station. So, it's only natural that when a new Lego City set with a FLYING HELICOPTER (LEGO® Fire Helicopter Response) arrived, kiddo was thrilled. Forget kiddo, I was thrilled!

Building the parts was quick - 93 piece set with 3 mini-figures, a small construction part, fire fighter vehicle and helicopter. I really LOVE how Lego introduces women in roles that are dominated/stereotyped by males. We have fire chief Freya McCloud from the fire-fighting squad - go girl!

As always the details of each part continues to impress me and blow my mind - the worker with his flame-machine and helmet, intact the helmets for all three action figures are different!

Now coming to the main highlight of this product - the flying helicopter. The helicopter looks really cool with space for a mini-figure pilot to sit. To make it light-weight the tail is made of cardboard paper - which I feel can tear/wear-out over time. It comes with a rip-cord (think bey-blade) and a lego buildable device to fit the chopper in and pull. Rather genius I must say. Now if you are going to imagine that the helicopter will fly high and you can navigate or control it, no that's not how it is. But for a 5 year old (This set is for 5-8 year olds) the whole idea of pulling the rip cord to make the helicopter fly out and land a few feet away - that is what it does and as long as the kiddo is happy, I am happy!

We were a little unsure of how to fly the helicopter, and I am so happy that Lego has all the detailed instructions in text as well as video format on their website. After a take at their video, I understood clearly what is to be done.

Also, this set is compatible with any other Lego City set - so you can build and expand! Kiddo had received a fire-fighter truck earlier, you can read it's review too. Overall, I am loving how Lego keeps innovating and coming up with new toys! Maybe we will see a flying car (Think: Harry Potter) soon!

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Amazon Echo Input Portable Smart Speaker Edition - Product Review

I had earlier purchased an Echo Dot for my parents, and after being super-impressed by Alexa (as compared to Siri), when there was a deal on the new portable version, I placed an order. During the deal the Echo Input Portable edition was available for Rs.3399 instead of Rs.5999 which was almost 50% off.

Delivery was smooth, came in a couple of days, though the packaging was questionable. But everything was intact inside. Setting up the speaker is basically installing an app on your smartphone, connecting speaker to WiFi via your phone and that's about it. You can keep adding more routines and modifying settings on the go - with usage.

Here is what I liked -

1. Smart Assistant Alexa

Alexa is really smart, keeps learning on the go and understands your behaviour and routine and keeps making suggestions. Being an iPhone user, I feel Siri has a lot to  improve on. Plus Alexa can also speak in Hindi, that's a plus!

2. Portable

This speaker need not always be connected to a power socket, and can be kept anywhere or carried anywhere. Though I have not used this privilege, since I prefer keeping it in one place. But it's good to have the option - incase I want to carry it to the kitchen or balcony and so on.

3. Price 

When you buy during a deal, it is totally value for money and nothing to fret about. Not sure if it's value for money at Rs.5999 though, tbh.

Here is what could be better -

1. Battery Backup

It takes a couple of hours for the battery to get fully charged, but it drains in about 10 hours, whether you use it or not. Probably because it is always connected and always ready to listen. I found this a bit frustrating, when I put alarms for the morning and it never rang because the battery had drained. Basically for smooth functioning you keep it off charge all day but keep it on charge all night - which means you need a dedicated socket for it. It should have not drained if it was not in use as in not playing anything.

2. Dust catching and heat up

I am not sure if it's on all devices or only mine, but the top part of the speaker heats up while in use. Not extremely hot, but certainly warm. Also the device has a lot of dust settling on it on the top as well as bottom ( bottom is rubber like for good grip, so picks up more dust).

3. Volume

If you are in a noisy environment, or have windows open with outside sound or are in a large room, you will find the top volume also not high enough. Volume is okay in a smaller room with windows closed - so basically it's more of a smart assistant device and less of a speaker - don't judge it on it's bass quality etc.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Ikea Haul Under Rs.1000 - Small Upgrades To My Home

Most of you must know that apart from the physical store in Hyderabad and one more coming up at Navi Mumbai, Ikea also sells online in Mumbai. I have been stalking their amazing range and to try out their quality, bought 5 things that costed me a total of less than Rs.1000 (yes, a TOTAL of Rs.1000 for 5 products) that helped me in small or not so small ways!

1. BENĂ– Chair pad Rs.149

I have a cane stool at home that had some parts poking out, making it uncomfortable to sit. This chair pad easily got tied to the stool, and a cheap but very comfortable option to make the stool usable! It's been a couple of weeks since we're using it, so far so good!


2. SCHOTTIS Pleated blind, white, 90x190 cm Rs.199

Perfect to block out view without giving up on the sunlight. Needed a temporary option for the bathroom till we figure out what to do. Also, you can cut it to whatever size required. And it's a no-drill option. It's not very durable though - it's very paper like (though made of polyester) so not sure how long it will last. But serves my purpose wonderfully for the price.


3. PRESSA - Hanging dryer 16 clothes pegs, turquoise Rs.299

I guess this is not unique or innovative and you may get similar things elsewhere, but I love both the colour and the quality - it's very sturdy and clip quality is great too. Something every house needs for drying smaller items like socks, undies, hankies and so on.


4. BOLMEN Toilet brush/holder, white Rs.79

A toilet brush, with a stand - that looks stylish, just for Rs.79. What more should I say.


5. RINNIG Dish-washing brush, green Rs.89

Really cute looking small brushes to clean dishes - available in three colours - mint green, black and pink. They can be kept standing too. Infact I think it can be used anywhere, not just for the utensils. My only worry is that the bristles are too coarse and I am scared it may scratch the crockery. Yet to try it on expensive kitchen utensils.

So 5 things for a total of Rs.815 and Rs.99 delivery it costed me Rs.914 for these tiny upgrades to my home. I have so many things wishlited on their website, things are really thought through and you will be amazed at the solutions they have for all your home related problems, if you want to call it that.

P.S. This post is not sponsored by Ikea in any way, and is just a review I wanted to share with you all.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Things to keep in mind when looking for rental apartment & while shifting!

If you are renting out a house and need to shift once lease/agreement of the old one got over, or you've shifted to a new city or locality and have rented out an apartment then you will know what a headache shifting is. Specially if it's with the family! If you are going to be moving soon, then I have some pointers for you that you should know, and you won't necessarily read these on the usual websites.

1. Check if all electric connections/plumbing work.
When you are looking for houses, you will make decisions in a hurry, and you may take note of major things like whether fan and light is working, windows and doors close, bathrooms function and so on. But it's a good idea to literally check each and every thing like the fan's regulator, all electrical plugs etc before hand - so that you can ask the owner to fix things rather than having to pay for it yourself. It would be a good idea to have an electrician/plumber visit and repair things before you move in so that you can go back to day to day functioning at the soonest.

2. Take pictures/evidence of any existing damage to property
Owners will blame you for damaging their property and deduct the amount from the deposit when you move out, so it is best you take evidence when you are moving in. Actual images of the house when you move in, plus more images of any wall/tile/appliance etc that is already in a damaged condition so that when there is a discussion, you have your evidence! With a mobile and ample storage these days, it is easy to quickly take pictures/videos and use them if required.

3. Check network reception
There was a time when vaastu, nearby amenities, floor rise etc were the only important things while looking for a home to rent out. But with changing times and the internet era, you have to make sure you are getting good reception on your phones and get WiFi connection asap too. I actually know a society where they don't get any network on a couple of service providers, at all. I would definitely not rent a flat there! Make a call from the site, check data download/upload via speed test apps and check if you get network in all rooms (and bathrooms).

4. Nearest bus stop, auto stand, grocery store, medical etc
Bus stops are redundant in many places thanks to uber/ola etc, but if you still travel by bus/auto make sure you have a stand nearby so that daily commute is easy. Also find out if daily necessities are nearby - medical, general store, 1-2 food joints and so on. After all, you cannot rely on online orders all the time!

5. Packers & Movers
If you're shifting somewhere in the same locality, you can rely on a local packer and mover, for out of city transfers better to go for someone more recognized and branded/professional. Make sure to read a couple of reviews for whoever you choose, there will be many on justdial/google business etc.

6. Label boxes properly!
When the packer and movers come to do their work, all hell usually breaks loose as they start dumping all your stuff in carton boxes etc. Make sure you ask them to only work at your comfort and pace - and keep labelling every box that gets packed - to the minutest details. For eg. don't just write the person's name who's stuff is kept inside, but also which cupboard/drawer it was taken from. This will make it a lot easier for you to put them back in place.

7. Keep an overnighter handy
Once your stuff has been moved to the new place, you will probably not have the energy to unpack anything the same day and will be searching for things like toothbrush, undergarments, medicines the next day and may not find them. Best to keep an overnighter packed with all essentials like clothes for 2 days, under garments, socks, medicines, toiletries etc so that while you keep unpacking, you can start functioning normally. This point is even more important for working couples who have to get back to work the very next day.

8. Keep record of all expenses, bills etc
Take bills from electricians, plumber, carpenter, mover and packer etc. One - it will help you understand how much it overall costs you to move houses. Two - if you have to ask the owner to pay for anything, owner will surely ask you for a receipt of payment made. Three - if any repair done was not done properly, having the bill handy totally helps.

9. Move in/Move out formalities
This one is something I was not aware of. The person renting the house has to pay society moving in/moving out charges and also give an intimation at-least 2 days before hand that they're going to move in/out. Society then gives an approval letter for the same to happen. The charges are taken so that incase there is any damage to the lift/society's property, that is covered. This process/who pays the charge etc may different from city to city but best to make sure what it is, in advance.

10. Agreement
Whether you get a notarized agreement or registered agreement, very important to have one in place with all clauses, deposit amount, rent amount etc mentioned. Make copies of the agreement and also have a soft copy on your email, so that even if you loose the copies, it's not a big thing.

Hope this helps, specially when there is no broker to mediate, you have to do a lot more research on your own. If there are any more things that we can add to this list, do comment with the same and I will update on the blog article. Happy moving!

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Lego City Burger Bar Fire Rescue - Review

The lego crazy family received yet another product for review and we had a blast! I love how each lego set is not just building blocks, but allows kids to indulge in role play, unleash their imagination and also learn a thing or two.

About the product -

  • Includes 3 LEGO city minifigures: 2 firefighters and a grill chef
  • Features a fire truck toy with a minifigure cab, rotating back end, new-for-january-2019 directional pump with ‘water jet’ function and 2 storage compartments, plus a motorbike
  • Also includes a burger bar with burger sign, opening service window and a trash can
  • Accessory elements include a new-for-january-2019 fire axe, 2 helmets with opening visors, oxygen tank, trash can, motorbike helmet, small fire extinguisher and 5 buildable fire elements
  • Raise one or all sets of flames on the burger bar sign and trash can to put out a small fire or battle a raging inferno
  • Rotate the back end of the fire truck and squeeze the bellows on the water pump to launch the water elements and knock down the flames
  • Burger bar with sign measures over 6” (17cm) high, 4” (12cm) wide and 2” (6cm) deep
  • Fire truck toy with water pump retracted measures over 3” (8cm) high, 5” (15cm) long and 2” (6cm) wide

We had a major milestone for my almost 5 year old with this lego set. For all the sets before, I had to build them for him with his assistance, and then he played with them. But now that he's almost 5 years old, I showed him how to follow the step by step instructions from the instructions booklet and asked him to make the burger bar on his own - and he did! It was indeed a proud moment for me. I feel lego absolutely helps with motor skills, hand-eye coordination, learning about shapes and plus great for some non-screen play and bonding time!

The set has a burger bar which is on fire, a fire truck and a bike with 2 fire-fighters and one burger bar crew. Check out some details of the set -

I am absolutely mind blown by the details that are thought of while making lego sets today. The firefighter's helmets, the cabinets and truck doors that open, the sliding window in the burger bar, the mini ketchup and mustard in the burger bar, the axe on the fire truck and so much more! 

The set (MRP Rs.3,499/-) and other sets are available on Amazon or at most toy stores like Hamleys. They often go on discount online too, so you should definitely watch out for deals. Age 4 and above can easily play with lego creative range, and for younger kids there is Lego Duplo.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

How important are accessories when it comes to gadgets?

I am a gadget and technology geek girl, and hence always love owning the latest phones, laptops, cameras and so on. I own an iPhone X, MacBook Pro, iPad, Go Pro Hero Session, Insta 360 camera, JBL Bluetooth Speaker, Boat bluetooth earphones, to name a “few”.

We always focus on the specifications, price, warranty and features of these gadgets when we’re purchasing them and if something stops working we are quick to blame the brand for faulty manufacturing or other various reasons.

But did you know that the accessories you use along with the gadgets play a very important role too? Are you using an original phone/laptop charger, if not, you could end up blowing up the device itself thanks to replicas. Are the covers and cases genuine, certified and verified/approved by the phone brand? A cheap cover, if and when you drop your phone, may not protect the phone or tablet from the impact of the drop!

Similarly, when purchasing SD cards for your cameras, you should always go for the best in terms of not only their storage capacity, but also their reading and writing speed, toughened memory cards in case you’re using them with a go pro or any other heavy duty action camera where you know it may fall or hit something. I also feel it is wiser to invest in two smaller capacity SD cards than one big one, incase one of them stops working for some reason or you misplace it. At Least you would still have a backup with you!

You can look for cheap deals online and buy SD cards from trusted brands at awesome rates. Just make sure the website you are purchasing from is authentic, for instance Latest Deals. I have 2 SanDisk Extreme Pro 64GB Micro SD Cards that work for action cameras, and come with a reading and writing speed of up-to 300 mb per second!

After all who has the patience to sit and wait for all the awesome footage to get copied, right? You can also go for any of the other popular brands like Sony, Samsung, PNY, Kingston, Transcend and so on. Just make sure you’re not purchasing from any unknown website as they may sell replicas and make sure to check the warranty details before making your purchase!

Next on my gadget wishlist is the new iPhone Pro with it’s extra wide camera, what do you think about it? Speaking of iPhones, how I wish they supported SD Cards!

Sunday, July 21, 2019

30th Birthday Trip at The Machan Feat. Volkswagen Vento & Peesafe

It was my 30th Birthday and I wanted it to be special and memorable. Hence wanted to go somewhere, but with the Mumbai floods and flights being cancelled and uncertainty I thought it was best to go somewhere around. A few years ago I had received an ad from The Machan, Lonavla to celebrate my birthday there, and it had since then been on my bucket list. So I thought, why not check that off the list? It's nearby and should be beautiful during monsoons. This was the first trip after kiddo that me and the husband went alone.

Lonavla during monsoons is absolutely magical, enchanting and breath-taking. But also risky, and you need a good reliable car so that you are not stuck anywhere. I was super happy to get the Volkswagen Vento's latest model for the trip. A royal midnight blue colored beauty - automatic dual shift gear system, rear parking camera, auto dimming rear view mirror, cooling glove box and more. Our drive was smooth and enjoyable instead of being stressful. And knowing that there are two front airbags makes you feel safer too.

We reached the property in about less than 2 hours from Navi Mumbai (remember to offline the map because once you start the upward hill climb, you loose connectivity). It was a beautiful place - truly a forest area where the only sounds you can hear are of rain, streams and birds. There was mist and fog everywhere, we were amidst the clouds and we had our own treehouse! The property is really well maintained, spick and span. The staff was polite and courteous too. 

How it could have been better? Our landline was not working and we had to wait for it to be fixed so that we could order room service, the in-room and al-a carte dining menu is very limited and check-in time could have been little earlier so that one can make the most of the stay (It is 2pm, 1pm at-least would be nice). But the nature, the tranquility and our jungle Machan with outdoor bathtub was an out-of-the-world experience overall. I was also glad to plan our trip during weekdays (Thursday-Friday) so that we escaped the traffic and crowd everywhere. Even the tariff is a little lower on weekdays.

I was also carrying a spray can of PeeSafe - because it's monsoons and you tend to want to pee a lot more, and by spraying the peesafe you get rid of all the germs and sanitizes the toilet seat. If you are a female reading this blog, you know how dreadful UTI's are and you definitely do NOT want that happening. Hence, better to carry a travel-sized bottle of PeeSafe. Got to know of it from watching Girliyapa's video, so thanks guys!

Follow me on Instagram to see more pictures from the trip!