Monday, October 26, 2015

REVIEW: Popular Purple Pencil Sharpener

Don't you just love alliteration? I do. It's such fun. It has nothing to do with anything about this pencil sharpener, but I do love the name: Popular Purple.

I was recently sent one of these lovely things from Classroom Friendly Supplies, so that I could review it and share my honest opinion with you. I reviewed a similar, but red pencil sharpener last year. The red one works very well, but it is not my favorite color. The purple one works just as well, and has the added bonus of being PURPLE, which is one of my favorite colors. It has won a special place in my heart.

I have to believe every person knows the value of having a good pencil sharpener. I didn't give it nearly as much thought until I started homeschooling, though. It is not easy to find a good pencil sharpener these days. There are entire threads on homeschool message boards about which pencil sharpeners are best. I'm here to tell you, the ones from Classroom Friendly Supplies are what you've been seeking, even if you didn't know you needed one!

My kids love these sharpeners. They create what they call "pencils of death." What that means is, one gets an exceptionally sharpened pencil, which is a lovely way to start your math problems. It's almost as if you have a weapon in hand to conquer those algebra equations.

I do have one of the old-fashioned pencil sharpeners - the kind we used to have in school classrooms, with all the different-sized holes on a little disk you could spin around. The issue with that one is that it really needs to be screwed into a wall, and I never could decide where I wanted it to go. We managed to use it, but it could be frustrating. The Classroom Friendly pencil sharpener comes with a clamp, allowing you to attach it to a table or desk, but you can also just use it on its own. Once you have the pencil inserted for sharpening, there is no need to hold onto it, because the mechanism of the sharpener moves the pencil ahead for you. Once the pencil is perfectly sharpened, it stops sharpening. (If you happen to have a good place to affix your Popular Purple Pencil Sharpener, you can purchase a permanent mounting plate and put it there!)

I would like to note here that with my ebony pencil, which did fit into the sharpener but is a little bit thicker than a standard pencil, it kept on sharpening until I pulled it out. Also, we have some fun pencils with brightly colored cores that seem to be just a hint thicker than standard, probably because of the coating on the outside, and they didn't stop quite as well as plain ol' yellow pencils.

My only issue with this sharpener remains that it only works for standard-sized pencils. I have a little guy, and he enjoys using those fat pencils for little kids, you know? You can't sharpen those with the fabulous purple pencil sharpener. They do, however, have the amazing Large Hole Sharpener, which works on large AND standard size pencils.

Each pencil sharpener from Classroom Friendly Supplies is $24.99, unless you get some friends together and order 3 or more, at which point you can receive quantity discounts. You can order replacement blades for them, too, as well as replacement shavings trays, in case yours gets broken or misplaced. The exception is the Car Pencil Sharpener, which is $19.99, and does not have replaceable blades.

I do love my CFS pencil sharpeners, and I hope you will check them out!

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I received one purple pencil sharpener for the purpose of my review, and received no other compensation. All opinions are entirely my own.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Don Henley In Denver

Tuesday night, my husband and I went to see Don Henley at the Bellco Theater in Denver, CO. It was a bit of a fluke, actually. My daughter was looking at the paper last Friday, and saw a little ad for the concert. She looked up the ticketing site. I was on my way to the dentist, so I asked my husband to get the tickets, but he had some trouble with their system. I ended up booking them on my phone while my very patient dental assistant waited for me to complete the transaction. I did apologize to her for my rudeness, but she did understand when I told her the show was Tuesday.

In case you don't recognize the name, Don Henley of the founding members of the Eagles. He's the lead singer on songs like "Best of My Love," "Hotel California," and "Desperado." He's one of my all-time favorite singers, and when we discovered last week he was coming to Denver, I was so excited! We got the tickets and I downloaded Henley's new album, just released September 25th, Cass County. {aff link}

When Mr. Henley came out on stage, he said, "I'm in the Mile High City, and feeling every inch." I laughed in complete sympathy! Its a killer when you're not used to it. He commented a couple of times throughout the evening that he was struggling with the altitude, but it didn't affect his performance. He never sat down, even though the last time we saw the Eagles they sat for an acoustic set during the concert. His voice was top-notch - he hasn't lowered the keys of any of his tunes (trust me, I sing along with them all the time; I would have noticed), and he sounds as fabulous as ever.

Here's the playlist:

  • Seven Bridges Road (This was the only Eagles song. His entire band can SING, and they did a beautiful job.)
  • No, Thank You (this one makes me laugh, and I love it)
  • Heart of the Matter (probably my favorite song, ever)
  • Praying for Rain
  • That Old Flame
  • The End of the Innocence (written with Bruce Hornsby, which I didn't know until last night, but seems so obvious now that I do)
He said these next four were in honor of Halloween coming up at the end of the month:
  • She Sang Hymns Out of Tune
  • I Put A Spell On You (Originally by Jay Hawkins)
  • Burn Down the Cornfield (can't say as I'm glad to be acquainted with this song - it's creepy)
  • New York Minute

And then back to our regularly scheduled program:

  • Dirty Laundry (this was the favorite song of the woman sitting next to me, and it was her birthday)
  • Take A Picture of This (He said this is about the phases a marriage goes through, and it doesn't have a happy ending)
  • Words Can Break Your Heart
  • Last Worthless Evening
  • When I Stop Dreaming
  • The Cost of Living
  • Bramble Rose
  • It Don't Matter to the Sun
  • Too Much Pride
  • Everybody Wants to Rule the World (never thought I'd hear him sing a Tears for Fears song, of all things, but he rocked it)
  • Train in the Distance
  • All She Wants to Do Is Dance
It was a fantastic evening. I thought I did a pretty good job of writing down the list of songs in the dark. I like to do that so I can put the songs into a playlist for my girls. They like Don Henley, too. 

The stage show was kept pretty simple: no pyrotechnics or crazy lights. There were several old radios hanging down from the ceiling, and before the show opened, a light would shine on one of them and a snippet of an old song would play. It was a snapshot of (popular) music history. It was fun to hear the crowd singing along with some of them when the music changed. The volume was at at a great level, too–loud enough so you couldn't hear anyone else singing, but not so loud that I couldn't hear when the show was over. I know, I know, "if it's too loud, I'm too old," but after years of sitting next to the drum line in my college marching band, and some rock concerts without ear plugs, I appreciate the hearing I have left, thanks.

There were three lovely young women singing backup, and they each performed one of the duets with him from the new album. They were amazing. I wish I could remember their names, because I'd tell you to listen for them on the music scene. I have to believe they have long careers ahead of them.

If anyone had asked my opinion before the concert began, I would have suggested they play more of his older stuff.  I'd have loved another Eagles song or two. However, he did sing "Heart of the Matter," which was really my only requirement (and it was all about ME - ha). Don showed, again, what a talented and versatile musician he is. He can do it all - country, rock, folk, blues, you name it.

A brief review of the album: this is a country record. It's much different than any of his previous solo work, but if you know much of the Eagles' music, there is a country feel to many of their songs. Don Henley grew up in Texas, and wanted to explore the musical history and culture there. There are many guest appearances, including Miranda Lambert, Mick Jagger (yes, you read that right), Merle Haggard, and others. I wasn't sure I liked the album at first, but it's growing on me. It helps that we saw the show, because now I have memories associated with most of the songs.

I'm so glad we got to go! I considered not posting this, because I thought, "this has nothing to do with homeschooling!" It does, though, because it reminds me that I have a life, and things I enjoy outside of my children. It's an important part of keeping myself sane. I do love to go to concerts. Do you? What's been your favorite show?