Cuisinart Compact Portable Blending/Chopping System

Compact Portable Blending/Chopping System

Cuisinart Compact Portable Blending Chopping System

When it is time for your next gathering, break out the Compact Portable Blending/Chopping System by Cuisinart.  With a variety of attachments, a recipe guide, and your imagination, the possibilities are endless.  This is the ultimate party and dinner assistant!  Need to crush ice?  Make slushies for the kids?  We made delicious chocolate malts with this exquisite blender in our test kitchen.  We also made several other milkshakes and dessert beverages with hardly any effort.

We also tested the blender to make whipped cream for homemade pie recipes we were testing.  To our delight, it made fresh whipped cream in just 30 seconds with just the touch of a button and a quick rinse-up afterward, eliminating the need to use a large bowl, beaters, and 5-minutes of beating time!  You can also use this blender to make soups, appetizer dips, and mixes for baking.

This portable blender is a small yet powerful kitchen assistant.  It is a must for anyone who prepares dinner regularly, wants to maximize their time and efficiency, and enjoys entertaining friends.   The engineering, craftmanship, and attention to detail is first-rate.  This is exactly what we expect from Cuisinart. Best of all, the blender comes with four blending cups which allow you to prep and go!  It also comes with a chopping cup that you can also use to make whipped cream for four on desserts.

This product is a must-have.  We give it 5-stars!

You can find this great product here at

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Best Lap Desk


Classic Exec Lap Desk

If you are looking for the best lap desk available today, we have a recommendation.  Lapgear makes a great line of lap desks which are truly a cut above all competitors.  We tested and reviewed three of their lap desks.  All of our reviewers gave these lap desks a “5-star best!” rating.

Each lap desk is designed to provide maximum useability to students, business people, and anyone else who needs one.

Our reviewers found each lap desk to fully achieve the purpose for which it was created.  Lap Gear’s lap desks are made with high-quality materials with an ergonomic design.

Editor’s Pick:

Classic Exec Wooden Lap Desk

The Classic Exec Wooden Lap Desk is the “Cadillac of lap desks” according to Best Rated Reviews managing editor, Mandy Seymour.  The Classic Exec Wooden Lap Desk is made with a gorgeous cherry wood finish with a large surface area.  This desk is perfect for reading, writing, and working on your computer.  It is a multi-purpose desk with a classy sheen.  It is a desk every executive needs!

We also tested and approved Lapgear’s Traveler Lap Desk and
Computer Lap Desk.

The Traveler Lap Desk is essential for the serious traveler who plans to read, write, journal, or work during your travels.  We highly recommend it!  The Traveler Lap Desk contains a non-slip surface.  It is compact, lightweight, and easily portable.

Best of all, the Traveler Lap Desk contains built-in tabs which serve a dual purpose.  They are designed to raise your laptop for greater airflow and reduced heat.  However, our reviewers found that they offer great backside support to your computer while in transit.

For example, when you are traveling by car, bus, train, or subway, the vehicle can often come to an abrupt stop, causing your laptop to topple over (even with a non-skid surface).  However, the laptop risers help to brace the computer and prevent it from falling.  We highly recommend this desk!

Lapgear’s Computer Lap Desk is specially designed for laptop users and wireless keyboards.  It contains an integrated microfiber wrist rest and organizer trays for pens and paperclips.  The desk contains a non-slip surface to help your laptop stay put.  Our reviewers found the built-in wrist rest provided additional comfort when typing.

Each Lapgear lap desk we tested and reviewed contains a microbead lap pad which comfortably conforms to your lap.  The built-in lap pad gives the lap desk stability which makes for ease of use.  Other brands we tested did not meet our 5-star standard regarding useability. The other brands we tested were made of inferior-grade materials and did not achieve maximum comfort and stability.

Rating: 5 Stars!  Best!

You can find these great lap desks and more here at



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Best Travel Coffee

Starbucks Via

You’re in a faraway land enjoying the perfect early morning sunrise and the moment is almost perfect…if only you had a great cup of coffee!  If you are a serious coffee drinker, you know how hard it can be sometimes to find a good cup of coffee on the go.

Through the years, we have tried a variety of instant coffees to enhance our travels.  But historically, they were always flat and stale tasting.  But the day we discovered Starbucks Via, everything changed!

Starbucks Via is a magical little packet of instant Starbucks that you can take with you anywhere, enjoy anytime, and guarantee that you will never be without coffee again on your travels.  We did a taste-test among instant coffees, including Folgers, Maxwell House, Nescafe, and Starbucks Via.  Starbucks Via was robust, flavorful, and invigorating.  The other brands all tasted flat, stale, and freeze-dried.

Starbucks Via comes in a variety of flavors as well, allowing you to enjoy flavorful, gourmet, Starbucks-grade coffee, if you so desire.  We sampled Starbucks Via flavored coffees, including Cinnamon Spice, Vanilla, Mocha, and Caramel.  Each flavor created a delicious cup of coffee.  Our favorite: Caramel.  Each Starbucks Via flavored coffee comes in a convenient 6-pack.

If you enjoy iced coffee, we think you’ll love Starbucks Via Iced Coffee as well.  With Starbucks Via, you can’t go wrong.  We encourage you to take it along in your travels always!  You’ll be glad you did.  We sure are.  Now Starbucks Via has become a “must-have” travel essential for us.  We will never leave home without it.

Our reviewers unanimously rated Starbucks as the “Best Travel Coffee”.

Find Starbucks Via here at

Starbucks Via:

Rating: 5 Stars!  Best!



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Best Outdoor Apparel: Fall 2011

Hi-Tec Vector Nighthawk

Fall is just around the corner.  Nothing enhances travel more than having  a”just right” travel jacket and shoes for the occasion.  Our recommendation?  Hi-Tec.  Hi-Tec combines style, functionality, and advanced technology to make products which are a cut above in the outdoor apparel industry.

We recently tested a few Hi-Tec products which we found to be perfectly suited for travel and leisure in the Fall and beyond. We highly recommend them.

The Hi-Tec V-Lite Nighthawk Vector is one of the most secure yet comfortable pair of shoes we have ever tried.  They offer great support.  They are made with Hi-Tec’s advanced technology.  It’s called Ion-mask Hydrophobic Technology.  This technology gives the shoes a special, unusual ability to resist water absorption.  It’s not just a coating, but it is a technology built into the shoes.  It really works!

We tested the Men’s V-Lite Total Terrain Lace shoes as well.  They are made with the same waterproofing technology.  They are also very comfortable, stylish, and durable.

Hi-Tec V-Lite Total Terrain Lace

Hi-Tec also makes superior outdoor apparel that withstands the elements without compromising comfort.

The Women’s Loon Lake Shell provides rainproof, wind-guarding comfort while enhancing your stylish figure.  Best of all, this jacket is fully seam-sealed.  If a jacket is not fully seam-sealed, it will not keep out wind and rain, no matter what the package claims.  The Loon Lake Shell truly achieves rainproof protection.

We also like this jacket because it is well-designed to give a slimming, flattering fit yet feels very comfortable.  The Loon Lake Shell also contains adjustable velcro straps to tighten the sleeves.  In other words, no rain can get through this jacket.  This is a must-have for the serious traveler.

Hi-Tec Loon Lake Shell

We also tested the Men’s Wildcat Canyon Zip Off Pant.  These pants add to travel versatility because they function as pants or shorts.  They also contain 50+ SPF built-in sun protection.

If you want to achieve the “best of the best” travel balance of low-maintenance, high-tech travel, Hi-Tec is the way to go.  Our reviewers unanimously agree Hi-tec acheives “best in class” in  our five-star standard of excellence.  For this reason, we recommend them for Best Outdoor Apparel: Fall 2011.

Rating: 5-Stars!  Best!

You can find it here at



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Best Travel Skirt 2011

Ribbon Crinkle Fiesta Skirt

Have skirt, will travel!  If you are looking for a “must have” travel skirt, the Women’s Ribbon Crinkle Fiesta Travel Skirt by Travelsmith is one of the most beautiful travel skirts we have ever seen.  A far cry from plain, this skirt dazzles beholders with its vivacious colors and sassy swag.  The Ribbon Crinkle Fiesta Travel Skirt has several traits we look for in travel clothing.

Packability: The Ribbon Crinkle Fiesta Travel Skirt is made of 100% crinkled cotton.  It rolls up and stuffs into a colorful travel bag, which is also included.

Wearability: The Crinkile Fiesta Travel Skirt can be worn numerous times and does not show stains easily.  It makes for worry-free travel because you never have to worry about getting a smudge on it.  Smudges?  Easy on, easy off, not easily seen!

Styleability!  Okay, so that’s not really a word–until now.  This skirt is truly stylish.  We think it expresses the excitement and exuberance many women travelers share.  With this skirt, you’ll look as happy on the outside as you are on the inside when traveling!

Our expert panel of reviewers gave this skirt the rating, “Best Travel Skirt 2011”.

We highly recommend it!  It’s made by Travelsmith.  You can find it here.

Rating: 5 Stars!  Best!

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Best Birding Accessory 2011

I-Flyer Birdsong Scanning Wand



If you like birding, you’ll love this! The I-Flyer BirdSong Scanning Wand by Identiflyer allows you to recognize birds and hear their songs immediately!

The BirdSong Scanning Wand packs neatly into a compact, hard travel case which is efficient for storing the Scanning Wand and BarCode ScanBook. The Identifyer BirdSong Scanning Wand is built like a jumbo pen. It has built-in volume control.

We tried out this product in a wooded pine forest in the Central United States. We put bird food in a feeder and waited. Soon, a cardinal arrived. So we turned on the I-Flyer BirdsSong Scanning Wand, found a picture of a cardinal in the I-Flyer BarCode ScanBook, and played it for the cardinal. Suddenly, 3 other gorgeous red cardinals arrived and a female, also. Their curiosity got the best of them, so they had to come see what all the fuss was about.

It was thrilling to know that we had called the birds and they came! We began to call several other birds as well, including yardbirds, such as Blue Jays, Robins, Crows, and a Woodpecker. Each bird began responding in the forest and some of them flew overhead or perched in a tree nearby.

When we played the woodpecker, the forest really stirred up as three woodpeckers began calling back. They were quite persistent. We set out to find them to discover why. To our delight, we got to see a momma woodpecker feeding a baby woodpecker in the hole of a hollowed-out tree.

Now, we call the I-Flyer BirdSong Scanning Wand our “magic wand”. It brings so much joy and delight into our lives to be able to interact with birds and the beauty of nature on a closer and more educated level that enriches the lives of everyone who enjoys nature as a part of their travel or leisure. Whether you are a seasoned birding expert, a novice, or just someone who enjoys the beauty of the outdoors in your backyard, this is a must-have product.

Editor’s Note: This really is a product for the whole family. Kids love it, too. It gets them out of the house and inspires them to explore our wonderful world. This product is an editor’s favorite!

You can find it here at

Rating: 5-Stars! Best!

This product was rated as “Best Birding Accessory 2011” by Best Rated Reviews.

iFlyer Birdsong Scanning Wand Video:

Courtesy of Identiflyer

Buy It Now!

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Plush Travel Cardigan

If it is possible to fall in love with a travel cardigan, we have met our match.  Several of our readers and clients have asked us to make an expert recommendation on the essential black travel cardigan.  We researched a few options.  Here’s our recommendation:

The Plush Travel Cardigan by Magellans will keep you warm, stylish, and cozy.  It is the perfect travel cardigan for trains, planes, automobiles, and sight-seeing.  If you are looking for a cardigan that is warm and stylish, this cardigan will meet your request.  You can find it at

*Be advised, however, this sweater is prone to shedding.  You may have to wash/dry it a few times to reduce shedding.

Rating: 5 Stars Best!

Plush Cardigan

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Editor’s Pick: Pendleton Womenswear

Mandy Seymour in Pendleton Madison Sheath

I recently enjoyed the “privilege of wearing Pendleton”.  I have a little red dress by Pendleton, the Seasonless Wool Madison Sheath, that has become an editor’s favorite for business travel.

I took it on a business trip and it was the perfect outfit.  I wore it to my meetings during the day and an elegant dinner at night.

You can find my editor’s pick here at

Here are some pics!

Mandy Seymour in Pendleton Madison Sheath

Mandy Seymour in Pendleton Madison Sheath 2

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Sheets That Put The “Aaaah” in Spa

Comphy At Home Collection

If you want sheets that put the “Aaaaah” in Spa, we have a recommendation for you.  We recently discovered and tested a wonderful luxury linen made by the Comphy Company.

Their sheets are as smooth as silk but thicker and more breathable.   They feel like 600-threat count cotton.  To our surprise, they are made of no-pill polyester and they are quite breathable. We have tested all kinds of sheets made of various materials over the years.  The Comphy @ Home Collection is truly a cut above.  We tested the Comphy @ Home Collection Sheets.  They come in a variety of appealing colors.

These sheets are so luxurious that they are preferred by some Ritz Carlton spas.  They will take your home spa living standard to a whole new level.  What we liked best: these sheets have a great silky-soft feel although they are not silk or cotton!

You can find these great sheets at more at

We highly recommend them!

Rating: 5-Stars! Best!

Rating: 5 Stars!  Best

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