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Back-to-school backpack essentials

Along with your pens, notebooks, tablets and laptops, there are a few essential gadgets that will make life on campus a heck of a lot smoother. No matter where you go to school or university, many students now are using personal portable technology. We've rounded up a few extra accessories that will make sure that you won't have to run into tech-based snags in your day-to-day school life. (Credit: Crumpler) AU$180 To start with, you'll need a good, sturdy backpack that will protect your gear.

Crumpler's Rampaging Mob was designed for the rough-and-tumble of commuting and cycling, so it's both comfortable and durable. It has an internal padded sleeve with velcro fastening for a laptop up to 15 inches, an extra large main compartment, an internal A4 document pouch, three internal pockets for bits and pieces and a vertical side pocket to hold a one-litre water bottle. Safety reflectors on the front and back make sure of high visibility, and a neoprene neck collar protects against chafing. (Credit: Jackery USA) US$39.95 With a portable external battery pack, you can ensure that you always have enough power to make a phone call or save your work in a pinch.

The Jackery Giant is close to the best value for money, with a massive 10,400mAh capacity. You'll have to charge it overnight, but that capacity will charge several smaller devices completely. If you want something a little smaller and lightweight, or available in Australian stores, Sony has a few available 1 , but you don't get quite as much bang for your buck. (Credit: Western Digital) AU$139.99 We cannot stress this enough: you should always, always, always back up your work and files.

Always. That way if anything happens to your other devices, you don't have to start again from scratch. This is especially true for PhD theses, but it's a good habit to get into.

The Western Digital My Passport Slim is, as the name suggests, slim and lightweight, and comes with one terabyte of storage, so that you can also have a backup of your music to carry around with you, USB 3.0, password protection, hardware encryption and a three-year warranty. (Credit: SanDisk) AU$25 For transferring files, an external drive isn't necessarily the most efficient means. A USB flash drive will allow you to transfer documents quickly and easily between devices. They're all much of a muchness, and can be picked up relatively inexpensively from any electronics store in Australia. (Credit: My Lost Property) From AU$25 This is being marketed to parents with younger children, but we imagine it would be useful for anyone who's a bit absent-minded.

It consists of a set of labels, stickers and keyrings with a QR code and the owner's name that you can attach to your items. If you (or your child) then loses that item, the finder can scan the QR code, or enter an online code on the My Lost Property website, to notify you via SMS and email that the item has been found and that you can come and collect it. Of course, it won't work as well if the finder isn't honest, but it's a better safeguard than none at all. (Credit: Cocoon) From US$19.99 Having a bunch of cables, gadgets, pens and other assorted sundries rattling around in your bag can lead to both a mess, and having to hunt through that mess to find the exact thing you're looking for.

The Grid-It is an organizer that comes in a variety of sizes with overlapping elastic straps that fits into pretty much any bag. The versatility of the strap system means you can keep your gear neatly organised without wasting space. (Credit: Ten1design) AU$23.95 With tablets seeing increasing use in the classroom, a good stylus could be a very useful thing to have indeed. Paired with an app, it allows you to sketch out diagrams or take notes.

We quite like the Pogo Sketch Pro 2 , which, for all its size, offers quite a bit of versatility and comfort, but there are fine-tipped styluses 3 also available for those who are looking for a more pen-like experience. (Credit: M Edge) US$79.99 (7-inch); US$99.99 (10-inch) A Bluetooth keyboard can convert a tablet into a good little machine for typing notes and other word processing tasks. We like the M Edge Stealth Pro, which is compact, comfortable to use, doubles as a case for keeping your tablet safe, and has compatibility with pretty much any 10-inch tablet on the market. (Credit: Livescribe) AU$275 The Livescribe WiFi is more than just a pen. As you write, it records audio, making it the ideal tool for attending lectures.

Its standout feature, though, is that it also links the words you write on the page to the audio, meaning that, post-class, you can tap your pen on a section of notes to hear the specific part of lecture when the notes were taken.

All notes and audio are sent directly to your Evernote account, too, so that you can access them anywhere, from any device with internet access.

References ^ Sony has a few available (www.sony.com.au) ^ Pogo Sketch Pro (www.cnet.com.au) ^ fine-tipped styluses (www.cnet.com.au) Continue reading

All for Baby book review ~ Crochet Addict UK

I don't think I need to say much about this book. The designs speak for themselves. The pictures are beautiful & the use of colours really brightens everything up.

The book is one of their newer set of pattens. The instructions are clear and pictures are included where they are needed. The patterns are in a written format and there is a placement chart for the pin wheel blanket.

I love the fact that you get a good mix of patterns & they can be made for either girls or boys. I think quite a lot of patterns out there are just for girls but these are a god mix that can be made for both sexes. that is amazing price for such fantastic patterns.

I would give this book 5 out of 5 for the patterns and the price. The description for the patterns are: Gentle and satiny on Baby's tender skin, Caron Simply Soft yarn makes wonderful blankets, sweaters, and accessories to crochet for little ones. Wrap your baby in fluffy afghans or create a lace-edged christening blanket for a beautiful keepsake.

Infants will stay cozy in colorful booties and a whimsical cap, while older babies will be ready for cool-weather travel in a warm hoodie. Why not combine Simply Soft yarn with your love of crochet to make these sweet designs? You'll keep a youngster warm and comfy this winter!

6 easy and intermediate projects for medium weight yarn: Striped Hoodie (size 12 months); Pinwheel Baby Blanket; Matching Hat and Baby Booties (size 6 months); Cloud Cover Baby Blanket; and Christening Blanket. I received a free copy of the pattern eBook to review. All opinions expressed are my own.

No monies were received. Continue reading

Fashion Design Craft Party

I m notoriously bad at organising birthday parties for my children, I think I have done about 4 in all of their lives. But when we got offered a Harumika Party Pack 1 to review, Amelie got her wish a birthday party for the school friends she was about to part company with that was all about her great love fashion. I ended up agreeing to host 8 little girls for (count them) 4 hours as they tried out a variety of fashion-y crafts to tax and explore their creativity to the max.

We started off with a warm up activity, using T ulip Fabric Paints 2 to decorate canvas bags that I had hoarded. I knew they would be going home with a fair bit of clutter lovingly made crafts, so a bag seemed a good plan. It didn t take long but it was a good way to keep people busy as they all arrived and as it was incredibly hot, they all dried quickly.

Once they d done that, we moved on to the Djeco Fashion Design kits 3 ; we actually used two different ones of these 4 , though one would have been plenty for the number of girls we had there. I never fail to be impressed by how much there is in a Djeco kit. There are LOADS of sheets for designing on, a lovely pack of long lasting felt tip pens and stickers that add accessories.

This was a fraction of what was in 2 kits. They had loads of fun with this and it kept them occupied right up to lunch. I did laugh quite a lot at how many of them were slightly bemused at the idea of fashion design without an iPod app Lunch.

You should have seen the horror at me putting salad on the table. I swear no one touched it except my kids! Then it was on to the main event Harumika 5 !

We ve had one of these before and it was a big hit. You get a mannequin which has a slot down the back, and a tool, plus fabric, stickers and belts. By tucking the fabric into the slot after wrapping it to make the style of clothes, you can secure it into all sorts of styles.

We were given lots of fabric but added more as well and the girls had a ball with it. I m told by various mums they went straight on to birthday lists too. Hard at work.

Everyone s favourite design. This years Puddle fashion collection. This kept them occupied for a long time, altering their costumes to try out different styles, colour combinations and accessories.

It was a great part of the party, with the added advantage they could take their models and extra fabric, home in their party bags. I think you could easily do it with one mannequin each and a heap of your own fabric. If you had a polaroid or something, catwalk snaps as they did each design would be great.

It s a good party activity and kept them busy for 45 minutes at least. I know it s been a popular go home craft. To keep everyone focused on taking time over their designs (but because I hate judging) I got them to judge each other for prizes through the day.

With each craft they made a few, chose their favourite (which we numbered) and submitted it and then everyone got two slips of paper to vote for them. Fran was adjudicator and the top three designs got a prize. Saved me from having to feel guilty and meant my kids also had a chance of winning if the others liked their designs too, instead of me having to avoid choosing them.

Worked really well. After that it was cake time (see later post!) and then we finished off with some Hama Bead fashion design 6 . I love the teenage board for this and there is a new kit this year which means you can design tween/teen outfits easily.

One kit for beads and ideas and a few extra teenage boards 7 worked just fine. Party bags, to keep with the theme, had ribbon, buttons and fabric 8 from our new haberdashery shop, some Harumika keyrings, some wooden bead sets 9 and so on. I hope they went down well.

Disclosure: we were sent the Harumika supplies, a prize, invites etc for review. Opinions are our own. The other crafts come from our own toy shops.

Like this: Like Loading... Tags: craft party , Djeco fashion kits , fashion design toy , fashion party , girls birthfday party , hama bead party , Harumika kits , Harumika party , Tulip fabric paints , tween fashion design birthday party 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 This entry was posted on July 26, 2013 at 12:44 pm and is filed under Amelie 20 , Reviews 21 . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 22 feed.

References ^ Harumika Party Pack (www.amazon.co.uk) ^ ulip Fabric Paints (www.craftmerrily.co.uk) ^ Djeco Fashion Design kits (www.playmerrilytoys.co.uk) ^ two different ones of these (www.playmerrilytoys.co.uk) ^ Harumika (www.harumika.com) ^ Hama Bead fashion design (www.craftmerrily.co.uk) ^ teenage boards (www.craftmerrily.co.uk) ^ ribbon, buttons and fabric (www.simplecraftshop.co.uk) ^ wooden bead sets (www.playmerrilytoys.co.uk) ^ craft party (www.patchofpuddles.co.uk) ^ Djeco fashion kits (www.patchofpuddles.co.uk) ^ fashion design toy (www.patchofpuddles.co.uk) ^ fashion party (www.patchofpuddles.co.uk) ^ girls birthfday party (www.patchofpuddles.co.uk) ^ hama bead party (www.patchofpuddles.co.uk) ^ Harumika kits (www.patchofpuddles.co.uk) ^ Harumika party (www.patchofpuddles.co.uk) ^ Tulip fabric paints (www.patchofpuddles.co.uk) ^ tween fashion design birthday party (www.patchofpuddles.co.uk) ^ View all posts in Amelie (www.patchofpuddles.co.uk) ^ View all posts in Reviews (www.patchofpuddles.co.uk) ^ RSS 2.0 (www.patchofpuddles.co.uk) Continue reading

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