Category Archives: News

Best Health Innovations of the Year and Why I am OVERJOYED!

Best Health Innovations of the Year and Why I am OVERJOYED!

The other morning I woke up to hear my husband screaming my name from downstairs, he continued to whoop and holler as he made his way upstairs, shouting for me to wake up, a miracle had happened and I would never believe it.

Well everyone in my family knows that if I have actually fallen asleep they better let me sleep as long as possible since my pain has grown so bad I can only sleep for short periods of time. He was sure I would want to see what he had just read in this month’s Popular Science Magazine, and he was right! 

12 best Health Innovations of the YearI could not believe what I read, tears started streaming down my face. All week I have been re-reading the article. We are actually going to frame the article and hang it in my bedroom because it is something my family has hoped and prayed for such a long time now, that the fact it has come to fruition has filled my heart with such joy and gratitude.

I know many of the people who read this blog have health issues too, all 12 (listed below) of the innovations are worthy of the high praise they are receiving and I hope you take a few minutes to follow the link below and read the whole article.

What am I so excited about, though? What still has me tearing up as I think about it? What made this list that has me so excited? Something I never thought I would live to see the day, has happened. 

The #1 Innovation of the Year is a vaccination for Dengue. 

dengue fever symptoms

 

The 12 Most Important Health Innovations Of The Year
These are the Best Of What’s New
by Alyssa Favreau and Claire Maldarelli 

Sanofi Pasteur’s Dengvaxia: Finally, A Vaccine For Dengue
Dengue—a virus most commonly transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito—infects some 400 million people yearly. It causes high fever, severe headaches, vomiting, and sometimes death. About 40 percent of the world’s population is at risk, and as the climate warms and travel increases, that risk will only climb. This year, the World Health Organization ­started recommending the first vaccine to prevent dengue, and inoculations have begun in hot zones like Brazil and the Philippines. Four viruses cause dengue, so developing a vaccine that protects against all four took researchers 20 years to do. If 20 percent of the population gets vaccinated, dengue cases could drop 50 percent within five years. Controlling dengue could also reduce the $9 billion the disease costs global economies each year.

You can find out more about Dengue here.

Now, most of you have probably never heard of Dengue. I hadn’t myself until almost 9 years ago after I took an extended business trip to Asia. Dengue isn’t just something that you have to worry about when you travel, though. Dengue is now an issue in the US too. It has been a long-standing goal of mine to share more about my health but I could never figure out where to start. This is where it starts, with Dengue. 

dengue mosquitoPeople (especially uninformed doctors) are always asking me what happened in my life that changed me from a person who loved the challenge of working 14 or more hours a day, traveled the world, wouldn’t say no to any kind of adventure, into a woman who is bed-ridden with pain and has a body that has basically turned on itself. It all started with a mosquito bite.

So I have started telling you about my health, but 9 long years is a lot for one blog post. But it is a start and I will be sharing more as we go along now.  Please do read more about the other great innovations of the year that I have listed below.  In future posts, I will share my journey of being diagnosed, but more importantly, how it has affected my body in the long run.

Additional Innovations of the Year
Braeburn Pharmaceuticals’ Probuphine Implant: Easy Opioid Maintenance
Amgen’s IMLYGIC: A Virus That Fights Cancer
Abbott’s Absorb: A Disappearing Cardiac Stent
Withings’ Thermo: A Friendlier Thermometer
Children’s National Medical Center’s STAR: Most Dexterous Robot Surgeon
Olivo Lab’s Second Skin: Stick-On Skincare
Nima: A Pocket Gluten Detector
Abbott’s FreeStyle Libre: A Prickless Glucose Test
MIT’s Rapid Zika Test: A Low-Cost Zika Test
St. Renatus’ Kovanaze Nasal Spray: Needle-Free Dentistry
Shift Labs’ DripAssist: Simpler IV Control

As always, thanks for reading!

Lynn Marie

Product Review :: Watercolor Pencils with Travel Case

Product Review :: Watercolor Pencils with Travel Case

 

watercolor colored pencils with carrying caseNo doubt about it, I love to color and so of course, love colored pencils and watercolor pencils. This is a nice set that is marketed as both colored pencils and watercolors, I use other pencils both ways so didn’t know there was something special fabrication to differentiate. I do know that some sets are more successful than others, and this is VERY SUCCESSFUL at playing both roles.

PROS:
* These blend like butter!
* Works wonderfully with water
* Extras included: Pencil case, brush, eraser, and sharpener *see notes about them below
* Six sides to the pencils so they don’t roll
* Coloring is effortless, you don’t need to press hard
* Easy to get a light shade and a dark shade with the same pencil
* Nice colors, 48 pre-sharpened pencils with no repeats. This set has every color you would need for most coloring projects. If it isn’t included, it is so easy to just blend it yourself!

watercolor colored pencils with carrying casewatercolor colored pencils with carrying case
watercolor colored pencils with carrying case
watercolor colored pencils with carrying casewatercolor colored pencils with carrying case

CONS:
* Once you start using them, you will need to make sure you have your pencil sharpener on hand. They are so soft that you go through them very quickly.
* For good coverage, you may need to go over the same area two times unless you are pressing hard

EXTRAS:
* This great pencil case makes these pencils easy to take with you anywhere. The case is made of canvas with a PU leather pencil guard and trim. The case is very well sewn and the buttons are strong. You can actually roll this up completely or use the extra button and use the extra strap length it gives you to make a little carrying purse. Roll up your coloring books and it will rest inside of your new little purse and you are set to go!
* The eraser that is included is really nice. When I have used it I can’t even see any marks left over! It wipes away cleanly and easily. I am very impressed with it.
* The brush and the pencil sharpener are just your average tools. They work but there isn’t anything special about them. I do have a tip for sharpening pencils, though: Hold your pencil steady and turn the pencil sharpener. You will have less waste of your pencils that way and get a sharper tip quicker.

This is really a great set for beginners to advanced hobbyist. I have certainly been impressed with it and I am very picky about what I use to color with. No two brands that I have tried have ever been the same. The pencils are above average and the case and eraser take this to a 5-star rating!

In the spirit of full disclosure, I ordered this Artustry Colored Pencil Set PLUS Watercolor – Includes: 48 Pencils, Protective Roll Up Canvas Case, Watercolor Brush, Eraser, and Pencil Sharpener on Amazon and received it at a discount in exchange for my honest and unbiased review. All ratings are earned and never promised. All opinions and thoughts expressed are my own and I am in no way associated with the manufacturer or seller. I received no compensation other than the product sample. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. (This review was originally published on Amazon before the changes in TOS.)

Product Review :: KOVOT 11-Oz Glass Milk Bottle Set of 12

Product Review :: KOVOT 11-Oz Glass Milk Bottle Set of 12

KOVOT 11-Oz Glass Milk Bottle Set of 12 – Includes Reusable Lids and Straws
Offered by Sharp Gear

KOVAT milk bottlesThese milk bottles are just so cute, they’re adorable! When I first saw them I thought they would be cute to use as decorations or for a theme party, then I realized that I actually could use them for something I actually needed, milk bottles!

I have a small fridge here in my bedroom that my husband keeps stocked with everything I need for lunch and snacks while he is at work. He makes my breakfast before he leaves for work, but sometimes I am not really ready to eat right then. Finding room in my fridge for anything that can hold milk and does not take up too much room has been a struggle. All of my water bottles are very large at 32 oz.

 

 

With these cute little milk bottles at 11oz, I have the perfect size to hold milk now if I want to wait to have my breakfast cereal!

Since we opened the box though we have found countless uses for these. My son likes to use them just because they are different and cool. My daughter-in-law gave me the perfect recipe for an oatmeal and yogurt breakfast that you can make ahead of time and store in these bottles. They ended up being just the perfect size.

Needless to say, I now have more uses for these than I have bottles: Milk, pre-prepared meals, children’s drinks, theme parties, use to hold individual gifts such as bath salts or lotions, decor, hold my button collection, hold the dandelion weeds my son picks for me, crafts storage, children’s playtime…. Think mason jars, and then smaller and cuter and you have these!

I love that the glass is thick and is not going to break with the slightest little clink. We have of course dropped a few already, one on the wood floor and one on the carpet. Neither one of them broke. The reusable caps are great, They have a partial plastic lining that really grips the edges of the bottle top. I know that whatever I have put in the bottle is going to stay nice and secure until opened again. I am not usually a person for re-usable straws but I actually like these. They are large enough in diameter that you can actually clean them thoroughly and not have to worry about pesky germs.

I think that these are really great and going to be the next big craft craze like mason jars have been. They are practical in so many ways while at the same time offering limitless possibilities when it comes to crafting and decorating.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I ordered the KOVOT 11-Oz Glass Milk Bottle Set of 12 – Includes Reusable Lids and Straws on Amazon and received it at a discount in exchange for my honest and unbiased review. All ratings are earned and never promised. All opinions and thoughts expressed are my own and I am in no way associated with the manufacturer or seller. I received no compensation other than the product sample. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. (This review was originally published on Amazon before the changes in their TOS)


 

Product Review :: 7 Day Pill Box

Product Review :: 7 Day Pill Box

Product Review :: Small/Medium Easy Open 7 Day Travel Pill Box, Prescription & Medication Organizer with Pill Case from Stuff Seniors Need

7 day pill boxWhat Seniors Need, and What Spoonies need too! If you are not sure what a Spoonie is, it is a person who deals with a chronic illness that has limited amounts of energy (spoons) a day. I am not a Senior, but I am definitely a Spoonie. I take a lot of medications, of course at different times of the day. This pill box not only helps to stay organized, it helps you and your caregiver make sure that your medication is being properly dispensed and that it is being taken. At times I can be so tired, sick, or in so much pain that I am not thinking straight so, a pill organizer is a must. It is not good for me to miss a dosage or to take a double dosage because I can’t remember if I took something or not.

PROS:

* Helps you to stay on your medication schedule by filling the box once a week
* Saves time by doing it a week at once instead of each time you need to take your medication
* Brightly colored sections, one color for each day of the week
* 4 compartments per day, labeled
* Compartments are easy to open and snap shut
* You can easily slip out a day from the holder instead of taking the whole thing with you if you are going somewhere
* The holder for the individual days is made of sturdy plastic that will last. There are slots in the bottom of the holder that you can use to pop out the individual trays if they are giving you trouble when you try to get them out.
* Nice leather case to ensure privacy. I know I don’t like other people to see what medications I am on or how many pills I have to take.
* This looks much better on my nightstand than 10 different pill bottles!
* Leather case is easy to open with a Velcro tab, when closed it helps to ensure nothing falls open if accidentally dropped
* Nice plastic pocket in the lid of the case that holds a general information paper you can fill out, there is room to keep your medication list on the back of the paper. I like it that it is not permanent, you can choose to have that or replace it with something else if/when needed. You can easily take this medication list with you to the doctor or hospital, making paperwork and questions there much easier. The general information is also great if you leave your pill case somewhere.
* Even before my new case was delivered, I received an email full of really helpful information along with contact information for different services Seniors might be in need of. Even though I am not a Senior, I thought it was great that the company selling these was really thinking about their customers and wanted to give them lots of resources to check into if they were in need of anything. I think it is great that the company found a way to offer their customers more without increasing costs at all. That information could actually be priceless to someone!

CONS:

 

* If you take large pills, they may not fit. I use the third slot for pills that don’t fit where they should. If you take large vitamin supplements, you might want to look for something larger than this.
* Some of the words are already rubbing off of the pill boxes, but you can use a Sharpie to write on these if you have trouble remembering what is what.
* There was a problem with the sewing on my leather case by the closure tab. The person sewing it missed about an inch section, veering off the leather itself. So my case is split open there but it is easily fixable with some glue.
* The plastic hinges on the pill cases are very thin. One problem I have had in the past with pill holders similar to this is the hinges breaking. You then have to depend on the snap closure on the other side of it to keep your pills in place, which doesn’t always work. I am going to monitor this and if I do have a problem with the hinges or anything else on this case, I will update my review.

I am really happy with my pill case. As I mentioned, it certainly takes up much less space on my vanity and looks so much nicer than a bunch of scattered pill bottles. A well put together pill organizer is a must if you are caring for someone who is ill, have aging parents who are taking more medication or are ill yourself. This would make a nice gift as well. It shows that you care and want to make sure that the person you are giving it to won’t forget something or have to wonder if they took their medicine at a certain time or not which could cause them to take too much medicine. This happens more than you know and I am not just speaking from my own experience. By keeping medication in a pill organizer, you can tell at a glance what you need to take or if the medication has already been taken. Chronic illness and age can do many unexpected things to your thought processes. Help your loved ones as much as you can, a well thought out pill organizer like this one is just one of the many ways you can help, but a very important one.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I ordered this Easy Open 7 Day Travel Pill Box, Prescription & Medication Organizer with Pill Case from Stuff Seniors Need, (For Small to Medium Sized Pills Up To 0.75″ in length) on Amazon and received it at a discount in exchange for my honest and unbiased review. (This is an older review I am just now sharing on my blog, created and published before the TOS changes.) All ratings are earned and never promised. All opinions and thoughts expressed are my own and I am in no way associated with the manufacturer or seller. I received no compensation other than the product sample. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.


This morning I woke up terrified…

This morning I woke up terrified…

This morning just after 5 a.m. I woke to the sound of bells ringing. It seemed like every bell in town was ringing and immediately my mind flew to the thought that there must be some disaster happening and they must be trying to warn us. Was it 911 happening all over again???

I quickly woke my husband but he just said he didn’t know and rolled over, exhausted, his mind couldn’t even understand what I was saying. The bells continued to ring and I opened the window to see if all the neighbors were up, wondering if we should we prepare for the worst? I was really panicking. 

I turned on my tablet and pulled up cnn.com but only saw more complaining about the election so there must not be a world crisis going on but why were the bells ringing? I belong to a few local Facebook groups that talk about news around town and so quickly went to one of those groups and found my answer.

veterans-day-collageThe bells were not ringing because the world was imploding, the bells were ringing to signify PEACE and to thank our Veteran’s for their service. Imagine my real relief.


Veteran’s Day

Can you imagine what it must have been like when WWI or WWII ended and the bells were ringing here in the US and in so many countries in Europe and in the home countries of other allies? Can you imagine the joy and elation they felt?

I would not mind waking up every morning to the sound of bells, reminding me that we have a lot to be thankful for and that peace is possible. I never again want to wake up to anything like the news of 911.

This morning I woke up terrified…. and my fear turned to gratitude and thankfulness to our Veterans, and the Veterans that are our allies, for protecting our country and our way of life. Whatever your politics are, surely you can acknowledge the brave men and women who have sacrificed so much for our country.

Many of us are sadly at the age where our grandparents are no longer with us to tell us about what it was like to live through the Great Depression and then WWII, much less WWI. Not many Vietnam Veterans are vocal about their experiences so a great deal of history is being lost. I love history myself and combined with reading, I have a great hobby. I have put together some lists of books if you would like to find out more about these periods of time and what went on for the common man, not from the standpoint of generals or politicians.  If we forget the past, we are at risk of reliving it.

But let’s not forget our new generations of Veterans either. We have millions of people now that are Veterans of the Gulf War, Iraq, and Afghanistan. I am probably missing some group so someone will be kind enough to correct me and I can add them. 

aaron and griff

My oldest son is my own personal hero, a Veteran of Iraq. I am unbelievably proud of him and the man he has become. He not only volunteered for the Army at the age of 16 (that’s a story for another time) but now works in the Veteran’s Affairs office at a college and is an advocate for Veterans at the state level.

Here is a picture of my son Aaron and his son when he came back from Iraq, one of the happiest moments of my life! 

 

 

I hope everyone today is thankful in their hearts for what these men and women have accomplished and preserved for us and to remember that Freedom isn’t Free. Thank you to the men and women just like us who have gone and given something of themselves that not all of us would or could. Thank you also to their families at home for everything that they have also had to sacrifice. 

America's Veterans Honor All

 


Free Kindle books to learn more about the history of Veterans who have fought for us. Please double check the prices before you order, they can change at any time on Amazon. 

Kindle books with good reviews, check at your local library for copies before spending money on them. These are not affiliate links, just links to books I think you might find informative.

For Children

Fiction Series

  • World War I (5 Book Series) by Anne PerryThis series begins on the eve of WWI in England and follows the Reavley family throughout the war. They uncover a conspiracy that could have prevented the war and as the story progresses, they try and track down the Peacemaker, the code name of the person behind the conspiracies to drastically change the war as it continues, leaving the world a completely changed place than what our troops are fighting for. The  conspiracy plot is interesting with many twists to keep you interested. I also found it just as  fascinating to read about what it was like not only for the people left on the homefront but particularly, learning about what life was really like at the front. 

The plot is constantly questioning war and sacrifice and the author reminds us “that love and hate, cowardice and courage, good and evil are always a part of life, in our own time as well as on the eve of the greatest war the world has ever known.” 

Those concepts are as true then as they are now and I enjoyed each novel, though some were hard to follow with the twists of plot and espionage involved. I was constantly researching the battles and real events as they took place in the books and think that anyone who loves history will certainly love these books. As always, there is a bit of romance thrown in also. 

No Graves As Yet

Shoulder the Sky

Angels in the Gloom

At Some Disputed Barricade

We Shall Not Sleep

Unfortunately, there is so much controversy surrounding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is difficult to recommend any book without offending someone unintentionally. I wish I did know of some good books to share with you about those wars and the lives of our brave soldiers who fought in them. If you know of any, please let me know. 

freedom isn't free


 Life is about the map we follow and the treasure we find along the way


 

Guest Post :: Change – It Happened

Guest Post :: Change – It Happened

Don't give up hopeWhen change happens and it is unexpected, it can often seem overwhelming and tragic. Sometimes even when we know a big change is coming, it still tears us up, leaving us angry and/or depressed.

Have you ever lost a job that you really loved? A job where you worked so hard and put everything you had into making someone else’s business a success, and then were let go without a word of thanks?

What about an unexpected break up? Were you ever in a relationship that seemed to be going along fine, things were progressing, but then one day it was over and you weren’t really sure what happened?

Were you one of the people that had your Amazon account wiped or do you know someone who had their account wiped? It can be a devastating experience for some people. In a sense, many people feel like they have been wiped by the recent changes at Amazon. They haven’t lost their reviews or their privileges, but they have lost the way they do things. For many, reviewing was their main hobby and how they spent their free time. Now to not be able to have their routine, how will their lives change?

Change can be hard, but life is full of change. I want to share this story written by an inspirational person who I happened to met along my own Amazon journey. In it, she shares how she handled the major change in her life when her review account was wiped. She actually wrote this guest post two months ago, but something always seemed to come up and I never got it posted. It must be Serendipity because now is the perfect time for it.


It happened.

After reviewing on many of Amazon’s sites between 2010 and 2016, I woke up one day to the dreaded email. You know the one, it reads something like, “You may have violated our terms of service and are no longer permitted to post reviews…” Gotta love that ‘may have’. See, they’re smart. By not giving any specifics, our sue-happy society is hard-pressed to find anyone willing to take on any type of civil case. They did not specifically accuse me of anything – they claimed that I may have done something to violate their very ambiguous terms of service.

Personally, my theory on why this happened to me is basically that I outstayed my welcome. I redeemed literally thousands of promotional codes for free and deeply discounted items on their site. But I’ll never know for sure – perhaps I did violate their terms. In the 2400+ reviews I posted on just their American site, there’s a really good chance that I made mistakes along the way!

I started reviewing when a product royally pissed me off and I felt the need to share my poor experience with anyone I could. The review quickly grew in popularity and Amazon requested I write more. With just a couple of reviews on the site, I was ranked in the 12,000s. Being a huge fan and frequent shopper of the site, I complied, writing reviews from everything from complex reports on books to two-liners on groceries and household goods and everything in between.

I didn’t think too much of my rank, having a good time helping independent authors by sharing my thoughts on their work and I like to think, fellow consumers by sharing my experience with various products. The majority of my reviews included photos and a few had videos.

Eventually, I believe I was in the 8000s window when sellers started contacting me, requesting I try their products. While most people seem to get totally rabid at the mention of “Free Stuff”, I was always pretty selective about what I’d review. I’d stop and think, Do I really want to write about this? If it was something myself or a member of my immediate family could honestly use and something that wasn’t going to be too much of a pain to write about, I’d go for it. As long as it was at least 99% off. That’s another thing I was selective about – it had to be free or pretty darn close to free.

I’m not gonna lie – having dozens of packages show up seven days a week was super fun. I definitely became addicted. My apartment, at times, looked like it belonged on an episode of Hoarders: Buried Alive and sadly, that’s not an exaggeration. I joined some of the Facebook groups and watched for opportunities to snag even more free stuff. Many were shady or dramatic or just plain annoying – I left those ones quickly. However, I found some that I really liked, whose admins didn’t nag too much and who tried to keep their terms compliant with Amazon’s. Of course, Amazon’s terms are so ambiguous – there is much debate over how exactly to do that. That’s a long discussion worthy of its own post – so I won’t open that can of worms here.

My reviewing habit definitely got out of control. I was never late on reviews, never legitimately on those naughty lists. I always got them done… but it was extremely time consuming. At one point, I installed Grammarly and according to my weekly reports, I was writing over 50,000 words per week. That is insane. I edit novels that are around that length. Since I’ve stopped posting reviews on Amazon, I’m only writing about 5,000 words weekly. That should give you an idea of the volume of reviews I was posting just on Amazon.

Remember – Amazon isn’t the only place to post reviews. I still review on numerous other sites such as other retailers, traveler sites, etc. I’ve mystery shopped, I’ve test-stayed for Disney – this sort of thing is far from foreign to me. But Amazon is definitely the easiest and seemingly the most popular. Though, many sellers I’ve spoken to are exploring and moving to other avenues because of the mass ‘wipings’ Amazon seems to be doing lately.

Sometime in the last year or so, Amazon became really infamous for wiping accounts, seeming to “crack down” on the scammers, cheaters, etc. (You might notice this is around the same time they publicly came under fire for being infiltrated with fake reviews.) As a result, I watched this wave of panic take over the reviewing circuit. I realized that my time as an Amazon reviewer would run out – the question was when. It could be in an hour or another year. So I decided to make the most of it – hence those 50,000 words per week!

There wasn’t anything that triggered this attitude for me, other than the reality of the fact that – Amazon isn’t stupid. While I shop for literally EVERYthing that isn’t perishable on their site – at full price – I figured they still wouldn’t take too kindly to the thousands of promos I was using. Talk about taking advantage of my Prime membership – that free shipping isn’t cheap for them.

When it got to the point that people were creating Amazon accounts and buying Prime memberships just for the sake of being able to get free stuff, I knew Amazon would soon crack down. And they did. Hence all these infamous wipings.

While I, in theory, seemed safe, I figured in reality no one is. I’ve been a customer of Amazon since 2004. I’ve been a Prime member since 2009 and buying ALL of my household items, pet items and non-perishable grocery items on there ever since. Every month, my Subscribe & Save delivery is huge, every week I get several Pantry boxes – not to mention all of the other random things and the 8,000 eBooks, movies and TV shows in my cloud… Any time we need anything, Amazon is our go-to. I’m far from one of these bandwagon free-stuff seekers. The thing is, it doesn’t matter.

I reviewed my “legitimate” or promo-free purchases, just the same as my promo-purchases. I’ve never sold review items, I’ve never posted a paid review or a fake review. Amazon doesn’t know that. No one can know that – except for me. Amazon doesn’t know about the pages and devices full of notes I took, legitimately and honestly testing products before gathering said notes into honest reviews. I’m guessing they wouldn’t care if they did.

I did receive one warning. There was one time I reviewed a sleep mask, I remember it well. I got trigger-happy and hit “submit” before I’d finished the review! I thought, Shit! I’d left out the disclaimer! I immediately hit ‘edit’ and of course, added a disclaimer and saved the review. It didn’t matter. They emailed me stating that, because I’d left out a disclaimer, my review had been suppressed and if it happened again, I “might” have my reviewing privilege revoked. I emailed back and forth with them, explaining it was an honest mistake, which they could clearly see by my immediate edit. None of that mattered. I’d given them a reason to put me on notice.

That was over a year before I got wiped and to my knowledge, it was an isolated incident. I was never warned or reprimanded by them again. Until the dreaded message in which I was informed I’d been wiped.

One of my authors actually noticed before I did. I had a message from her, “Your reviews of all of my books are gone.” I knew in that instant that my time had come. I checked my email and found the confirming email. Of course I went through the motions of appealing. I even emailed Jeff Bezos and got a personal response that included an email for the Communities team that differs from the one everyone knows, encouraged to reach out. However, I never heard back from them, unsurprisingly. If they reversed their decision for me, they’d be more pressured / expected to do it for others. They’d lose some of the upper hand they have going on how. Plus, reversing my ‘wiping’ might send out a message that they do make mistakes. We can’t have that now, can we?

They’re citing “relationship with seller/author” in my case. They’re not wrong. When I love a book, if I don’t already know the author, I reach out to them. Social media has made that possible. Obviously, in order to obtain a promotional code from a seller for a free item, I’ve talked with them at least a little bit too. Depending on their definition of “relationship”, we all have a relationship with every vendor/author we’ve ever reviewed. More ambiguity.

While I was reviewing with the realization that it wouldn’t be forever, I always thought that when the time came, I’d be devastated. I had a lot of reviews to lose and a lot of time invested and I was really enjoying all of the free and deeply discounted goods. I was wrong.

The only way to make sense of changeAfter confirming that my profile was gone and I could in fact, no longer post new reviews, I felt relief. SO MUCH time had just been freed up. I realized I didn’t actually need anything. I never pitched sellers, just opted into fun things that came to me. So, I’m not really ‘out’ anything. I looked at it as taking what I could get and enjoying it while it lasted. Now – I do enjoy being able to try out the majority of my purchases without stopping to take notes and pictures along the way!

I had a great time while it lasted, and like most good things, it had to end some time.

There Is Life After Amazon !!!

Sellers still pitch me constantly, even though my profile has been gone for, I think it’s been about 6 weeks now. Many are sellers I’ve worked with before, but many are new to me. If the item is something I’m interested in, I explain that I cannot post to Amazon any more but I’d be happy to post anywhere else (my blog, other retailers, social media sharing, etc.). So I still review a ton – just not at the obsessive hoarder level I was at before. And a weight has definitely been lifted from my shoulders.

L.j. Redding – PelicanFreak


I remember being online the morning L.j. found out she was wiped, I felt devastated! I knew how hard she worked on her reviews and how much she loved doing them. I was so nervous to bring it up, I didn’t want to make her feel worse than she already did but knew I had to let her know that I was sorry she had been wiped. When we started chatting on Messenger, I could actually feel her relief myself! I could tell she was more relaxed and enjoying doing things she hadn’t had time to do in a while. She was baking up a storm, coloring, and of course, reading. And she was truly happy.

Don't be afraid to changeThere are many things that can help us through the unpleasant changes in our lives. Faith and hope come to mind. Sometimes it is our attitude that will carry us through the rough times. L.j. chose to be happy instead of bitter and allowed herself to recognize and acknowledge the actual relief she felt. I think the biggest lesson here is sometimes what we think we need in our lives, isn’t really what makes us happy. 

Thank you L.j. for sharing your story!


How about you? Can you think of a change in your life that you just knew was going to be awful but turned into something else?


Life is about the map we follow and the treasure we find along the way


Reviewing 🌟 The Dust Has Settled, What’s Next? Even Better Things!

Reviewing 🌟 The Dust Has Settled, What’s Next? Even Better Things!

keep-calm-and-experience-serendipity🌟”Late Reviews”  🌟ARAT  

🌟Blogging  🌟Social Media

🌟Other Opportunities  🌟Amazon

🌟What’s Next!


 

🌟 “Late Reviews”

Keep calm and just say noI am still hearing about some people receiving pressure from Sellers or admins to finish reviews that you were holding off on. Keep Calm And Just Say No! It will in all probability be taken down by Amazon anyway and you could lose your account. Anything published after the 4th (I believe that is the date, they supposedly gave one day for the policy to go into effect) is subject to the new policy and if you didn’t use your own money to buy it, don’t review it. Let anyone that is pressuring you know that it is against Amazon policy and offer them an alternative posting on one of your social media accounts. If they are still adamant, I would consider reporting them.

If you did post a review after that date for anything that involved any type of agreement, I would delete it. That is my personal opinion only, I have no facts to back that up. I know I have always said in the past not to delete any reviews, but the rules have changed now.

As far as I am concerned, and the consensus among people that I trust, is that the dust has settled and it is time to move on from posting reviews involving anyone else at all, on Amazon. If you haven’t read my post Questions and Answers With Amazon About Writing Reviews I really encourage you to. If you have read it, you should take a look at some of the Comments people have left.

I always love reading Comments, they are the favorite part of my blog. The additional information, corrections, questions, and insightful thoughts really make for great reading. We have had some really great participation the last 2 weeks, it seems to help when I write a post, lol. I love the interaction with you all, your thoughts and opinions, just learning more about you. Thank you!

🌟 ARAT

keep-calm-and-download-a-copy-of-your-reviews-with-aratIf you still haven’t backed up your Amazon reviews using ARAT, do it now. How To Back Up Your Amazon Reviews Using ARAT  It doesn’t take that long to get a copy of your reviews and you never know when they might come in handy! You have worked hard and you should always keep a copy of your work. Who knows, save it and in 20 years publish it as a “Remember When” funny commentary about products we used in the early part of the century! If you only have an iPhone or Mac and don’t have access to Windows, which is required by ARAT, contact me I will make a copy of your reviews for you. I do not require your Amazon password to do this.

🌟 Blogging

keep-calm-and-enjoy-blogging-5If you are planning on starting a blog and have a copy of all of your reviews from Amazon, courtesy of ARAT or your own foresight, you have ready made content! Just because they are still on Amazon today, doesn’t mean they will be there tomorrow. Remember, Amazon is sifting through the reviews with their new algorithm removing content if the Reviewer was excessive or did not follow policy. Amazon Removing Some Reviews

Even if you already blog, you might be like me and only have a small percentage of your reviews on your blog. Having more reviews on your blog is a great way to showcase your work to potential sponsors (Sellers who either give you products or money in exchange for a potential review or endorsement.)

If you need to start a blog I recommend WordPress. You can get a free account and they even have free templates. They have a great Support Forum too. I can post some places for free tutorials for WordPress and I can offer some support to other WordPress users if you have a problem with your blog. There are other places to get free blogs but I don’t know as much about them, if anyone wants to recommend what you use, I would be happy to add it to this post.

If you are looking for a company for a self hosted blog, I use SiteGround and have been extremely happy with it. It is only $3.95 a month. If you already have a blog but want to move for some reason, you can get free site migration and up to 6 months of free hosting bonus added to your new account for unused time with your current host. (Please note, I do receive a referral bonus, but that is not the intent of this post.)

🌟 Social Media Reviews

keep-calm-and-review-on-social-mediaSocial media just keeps growing and growing and Sponsors are taking advantage of people like us who are usually micro-influencers! A micro-influencer can sometimes market products more effectively than an Influencer who has hundreds of thousands of followers and up. (Blogging is technically social media but for my purposes right now I am keeping it separate because it takes more effort to get started.) If you haven’t already, create your social media accounts and start to build up your network, your followers and friends. The number of people in your network is one of the things that Sponsors look at when choosing who to work with. I will share some tips on how to do this if you want, in the meantime I would recommend these as the most popular social media sites to be on: Facebook with a Facebook Page, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube. For YouTube you need a Google+ account which you may have already if you use Gmail. Do you have to do all of them, of course not! Especially if you are new to any of them, go ahead and create your accounts but concentrate on 1 or 2 at a time or you may quickly become overwhelmed.

As you are creating your new accounts, or even if you have existing accounts, think about branding. First of all, do you want your personal and review accounts as the same account? Second of all, think about your name. If you have a blog, your social media accounts should reflect your blog name in some way. This can get tricky, especially if your blog name is long, not all social media accounts allow the same number of characters in your name. Some of the services will let you change your name, on others it is harder to do, so think about it first.

🌟 Other Opportunities

keep-calm-and-review-on-other-online-retailersMany other online retailers have successful review programs. There are a few FB groups that I know of that are already working with many retailers, if you know of any that are looking for additional members, please let us know! I will share a list once I have the admins approval. There are also a few websites I can think of that put you in contact with different brands. So if you just enjoy the ease of posting on one site, similar to what many people did on Amazon, those opportunities are out there.

🌟 Amazon

keep-calm-and-keep-reviewing-your-own-purchases-on-amazonReviewing on Amazon is not going away. You can still review books. I plan to still review what I purchase myself. I just enjoy writing and it makes me feel productive. We buy an awful lot of things on Amazon because I am home bound and need an easy way to shop. I know some people feel like Reviewers have been treated poorly by Amazon and I agree that there are things they could have done differently. They have a huge challenge ahead of them to now improve their Customer Service from top level management down, not just at the Help Desk level.

However, they are still the largest online marketplace and a great place to show off your ability to write a well-written review and/or your talent making videos in order to be found by Sellers looking for people to do posts on social media. Don’t forget, you can still pitch to Sellers on Amazon to do reviews on your blog or other social media accounts.

🌟 What’s next for this little blog that started out to help other people learn about Reviewing on Amazon??? Well, it has turned into much more than I planned and I really love it. At times my health gets in the way, but no worries, I always show back up!

keep-calm-and-remember-that-life-is-about-the-map-we-follow-and-the-treasures-we-find-along-the-wayIf there is interest in learning about social media reviewing, I would be happy to share what I know and research what I don’t. There are lots of other things now that I talk about on this site and maybe there isn’t enough interest in reviewing anymore. I plan to send out a survey to see what you all are interested in. so you will really have to let me know what you all enjoy, want, and need. I love still being able to help other people because I learn so much myself along the way.

👑 Coming up I have some inspirational quotes, coloring links to add, craft ideas for colorists, some boring health updates (that help my soul to share, thank you!), and some re-blogging of some really wonderful things from other incredible people I have been wanting to share!

💗 Enjoy the rest of your weekend!


Life is about the map we follow and the treasure we find along the way


 

Questions and Answers With Amazon About Writing Reviews

Questions and Answers With Amazon About Writing Reviews

Last week I promised you I would be asking some specific questions about reviewing to Amazon and then sharing with you what I learned.  

questions-and-answers-with-amazon-about-writing-reviews-frostedI addressed my email to Jeff Bezos himself so that I could be sure that whatever answer I received was carefully considered and not just from someone at the Help Desk who may or may not really understand what I was asking, much less what the right answers are. I wanted an answer from a top-level executive at Amazon that I could trust.

After receiving my email, Jeff asked Jennifer P. (why does no one who works at Amazon ever use their full last name?) to respond on his behalf. Jennifer, who works in Executive Customer Relations, responded right away and let me know that she would need some time so that she could work directly with the Communities team on my list of questions.

Here is the text of the letter I sent to Jeff.  You can see full screenshots of the email that I sent and the emails that I received in response by clicking here.



Dear Mr. Bezos,

There are multiple emails from executives at Amazon circulating among the Reviewer Community that seem to contradict one another. By going straight to the top, my expectation is that I will have the answers that are needed so that responsible reviewers will be in compliance with Amazon’s policies.  I can then help distribute this to other responsible reviewers to share with as many other people as possible.
 
I am going to try and keep this cut and dried so that nothing is left to interpretation. All of these can be answered with a Yes or No.
 
1. Are hobbyist Reviewers going against Amazon policy if they use the services of a website, Facebook group, email group, or other organizations to come in contact with Sellers who are offering products at a lower than advertised price, as long as the TOS or rules of the business state that there is no expectation of a review in exchange for the product? 
 
1a. Once they receive the product and test it, are they going against Amazon policy to write a review?
 
2. Are Reviewers going against Amazon policy if they accept a gift that is shipped directly from the seller, and then write a review for that gift, as long as there is no expectation of a review?
 
2a. Are Reviewers going against Amazon policy, in the same situation as above, except that the gift is shipped via Amazon? 
 
3. Are Reviewers allowed to use gift cards supplied by a Seller to order products if they are for the full price of the item and nothing more, or are only promotional codes allowed to be used? 
 
3a. Just to verify, a gift card ends in 4 digits and a promotional code in 6 digits correct? 
 
4. Is a disclosure (disclaimer) required when you leave a review if it is written for a product you received at a lower price than what is currently advertised on Amazon if there was no expectation of a review when the product was offered?
 
4a. Does the disclosure have to stipulate whether it was free vs whether it was received at a discount, or is a general disclosure permissible? 
 
5. If no disclosure is required, isn’t that against FTC guidelines? 
 
Thank you for your time and attention to this matter. I know that if Reviewers have some concrete answers to these questions, you will find that every effort is made to follow the policy by the vast majority of people who write reviews. 
 
In the past, problems have gotten out of control because there was too much left open to interpretation. In fact, it would be wonderful that if a disclosure is required, you gave us a specific one to use. Just as the Vine Program is clearly identifiable by their badge and no disclosure is necessary, if hobbyist Reviewers had a common disclosure to use it would make things much easier for everyone. 
 
With My Sincerest Gratitude,
Lynn Marie White


As you can tell, I really took into consideration the questions I have read going around in all the different groups I belong to, questions anyone sent me, and things I read on message boards and forums.
I wanted everything to be very clear so nothing would be left to interpretation and no one could argue the facts. I really did try to  make it so specific that a Yes or No answer would be easy for Amazon to provide. Many of these executives are so used to speaking in legalese that perhaps they forget that for the average person, reading their TOS, Community Guidelines, or page about Promotional Content can leave some of us confused at times. I must say, they are getting better and I do think this last change in wording helps define our role more than it did previously. 

At times, change comes with chaos, though. There are so many emails from Amazon executives making the rounds that contradict one another, messages from the help desk that also contradict one another, and some that don’t even make sense. Maybe we should have a contest to see who has received the craziest answer to a recent question about reviewing from Amazon!

That chaos is only taking into consideration the written content from Amazon that I have seen. The rumor mill is out of control with all kinds of crazy speculation from Reviewers, Sellers, Admins, and website representatives too. I will caution you strongly to not believe everything you read and I hope that you have followed what I suggested when the news of the changes started making the rounds, Wait Until the Dust Settles! 

So what are the facts?


First email I received from Jennifer P. 

Hello Lynn,

I’m Jennifer of Amazon.com’s Executive Customer Relations. Jeff Bezos received your e­mail and asked me to respond on his behalf.

Thanks so much for sharing your questions regarding Amazon’s review policies ­­ we appreciate our reviewers wanting to be in compliance and I’m happy to answer your questions.

Lynn, because I want to ensure you’re provided the most accurate response to each of your questions, I’m collaborating directly with our Communities team and it’ll take a bit longer than usual. I truly appreciate your patience and I’ll have a thorough response by 4 PM PDT on Tuesday October 11, 2016.

You’ve been a valuable member of our Prime family for 5 years and we appreciate your patronage. I’ll be in touch Tuesday and I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

We’d appreciate your feedback. Please use the links below to tell us about your experience today.

Best regards,

Jennifer P.
Executive Customer Relations

Second email I received from Jennifer:

Hello Lynn,

As you recall, I’m Jennifer of Amazon.com’s Executive Customer Relations. I appreciate your patience while I collaborated with our Communities team regarding your inquiry.

We updated the community guidelines to prohibit incentivized reviews unless they are facilitated through the Amazon Vine program.

We do not permit tying a free or discounted product or other benefit to a review, whether or not a review is expressly required. These reviews are prohibited, whether or not the benefit is disclosed in the review:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=201929730

In order to preserve the integrity of Community content, promotional content is only allowed in limited circumstances, and must always be clearly and conspicuously disclosed as promotional content if not obvious from the context:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=hp_left_v4_sib?ie=UTF8&…

Please note we do not have information in addition to what is already provided in our help pages and we’re not able to offer additional insight on these matters. We appreciate your understanding.

Best regards,

Jennifer P.
Executive Customer Relations

Thank you.
Amazon.com


 

blue transparent checkmarkThe fact is that unless you are in the Vine Program, do not write a review on Amazon for anything* that you have not purchased yourself with your own valid credit or debit card.  

I would recommend that you not even load up gift cards anymore and use those to make purchases, especially if you might write a review for the product. I know loading up gift cards can often entitle you to a credit, but now, your gift card purchase could result in a loss of your account privileges if you forget and write a review for something you ordered with it.

* There is one exception to this policy, if you are a bibliophile like myself, you will be happy to know that this does not apply to books. The following statement is from the Community Guidelines page. “Book authors and publishers may continue to provide free or discounted copies of their books to readers, as long as the author or publisher does not require a review in exchange or attempt to influence the review.” A disclosure is required to be in compliance with Amazon’s policy in regards to Promotional Content. 

I understand that there are people telling us that it is okay to write a review because no one has asked for a review. Here is what Amazon has said that addresses that statement:

“We do not permit tying a free or discounted product or other benefit to a review,
whether or not a review is expressly required.
These reviews are prohibited, whether or not the benefit is disclosed in the review:”

I have been going through the multitude of emails I have received from websites and some of the groups that I have belonged to that ran promotions. I am sure you are getting them too. They are all saying that the rules have changed and they have changed with them. 

Many are changing their rules, guidelines, or TOS and saying that a review on Amazon is in no way required in order to receive a product promotional code through them. They are claiming that the choice is totally up to you whether you want to leave a review, and in fact, you won’t be breaking Amazon’s policy if you do leave a review. They are calling sellers and reviewers 2themselves shops and stores and you are now a shopper or some other similar term, anything but a Reviewer.

It is true that their rules have changed and they don’t require a review to get a code. You can go to Amazon and order the product, the code you get will work just like it did before. But if you write a review on Amazon, you are in breach of Amazon’s policy. I know some of you are thinking that there is no way that Amazon can track people who are doing this, there are so many Sellers and so many Reviewers that they will never be able to find out if you do,

My background is in software development and business management and I am telling you straight up that I know for a fact how easy it would be for Amazon to track this and wipe the Sellers and Reviewers who are participating in this type of activity, It is my opinion that the long periods between updates in rankings have not just been computer glitches or periods of time to just wipe groups of reviewers. They have used that time to upgrade their servers, work on their database structure, develop algorithms (software scripts that analyze data to do things like track Seller and Reviewer interactions, reviewing patterns, review content, Reviewer to Reviewer relationships, and anything else you can imagine), write and develop new software, test it all out, and assuredly have it up and running by now.

Amazon has already let us know that some of our reviews will be deleted retroactively if they are excessive or do not comply with the previous policy. You can read about that here in my post, Amazon Removing Some Reviews.  I really believe that the operative phrase there is “if they are excessive or do not comply with the previous policy.” I do not think they will remove every single review all of us ever wrote in exchange for a promotional code. As long as both the Reviewer and Seller were in compliance when it was written, it should not be deleted. I know many people didn’t think about what a Seller might be up to and were just concerned about being in compliance themselves. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case and it has been and always will be a symbiotic relationship, remember the article about Keyword Searching, Wishlisting, and Other Seller Requests where I talked about how working with someone who did these types of things put your account in jeopardy, even if you didn’t do the special request but did a review for them. It is too bad that at times we weren’t aware of some of the tactics Sellers used or the ones to avoid.

So, do we all stop writing Amazon reviews? No, if you really enjoy writing reviews there is no reason to stop, as long as you write the review for something that you paid for yourself. In fact, there are many reasons to keep writing reviews on Amazon, one of the most important reasons being your ranking. Having a solid ranking is still a great way for Sellers to discover you. I will share more about the other benefits of continuing to write reviews on Amazon later, this post is long enough as it is!

Promotions and free products are not going to go away. They have always been a successful way of marketing, especially for new products. In the future, I will be writing more about other social media reviewing and how to market yourself to Sellers differently now. 

Looking at the facts that Amazon provided, do you agree? Even here on my blog, I urge everyone to look at the facts. I always try to show some evidence if I am saying that things should be done a certain way or in explaining what something means. I can be wrong just as well as the next person, so don’t feel shy about speaking up if you disagree. None of us can learn if we don’t share our knowledge and beliefs with others and be open to discussion about those differences.

I am looking forward to this next stage of development and feel more confident knowing whether I am doing the right thing when it comes to writing reviews on Amazon. The uncertainty surrounding the interpretation of Amazon’s former TOS can be put to rest and we can move forward together. Even those unfortunate Reviewers who were actually honest and good at what they did, but lost their accounts, have huge opportunities moving forward.

Those reviewers who took advantage of the system are out of luck. A  Seller won’t be giving anything to someone who does nothing valid to promote their product.  On Amazon, some Sellers put up with it because perceived sells, the number of positive reviews, and many other metrics improved their Amazon ranking.  Social media reviewing is a whole other game, you need to know what you are doing and not just be a number to the Seller.

if-it-looks-like-a-duck-and-quacks-like-a-duck-then-it-is-probably-a-duck


Thoughts? I would love to hear what you think about this post and how Amazon responded. Do you agree with my conclusion? Do you disagree, if so, why? I love hearing from you all, it is the most important reason I do my blog so let’s hear from you!

Life is about the map we follow and the treasure we find along the way

We have a new map going forward with Amazon and Reviewing in general. You all are the treasures I have found along the way!


Amazon TOS :: Fact or Fiction, Again!

Amazon TOS :: Fact or Fiction, Again!


Amazon TOS ChangesAre the words Amazon TOS and change coming up in your thoughts and in discussions too much lately? Are you having trouble keeping up with the changes and don’t know where to go for answers right now? Are you feeling more and more confused? Don’t worry, you aren’t alone and I do have some great advice for you. 

I took a quick look around on the internet today and stopped in at some of the “watering holes” where reviewers congregate. I have read multiple emails from different companies and individuals involved with the Reviewer Community, many of from the Seller side of things also. I have read and re-read the new Guidelines for Amazon.com Community ParticipationThe section that affects those of us who love to write product reviews is under the Promotions and Commercial Solicitations section. 


Promotions and Commercial Solicitations

As that reads, it seems that writing a review is no longer allowed on Amazon if a review has been, or is, requested. I know I have many open reviews that I promised to do on Amazon, three of them are very expensive products and now the Sellers are left without a review. I have been trying out the products so I can’t return them, they are no longer new.

Do I publish them with a different disclosure, or maybe no disclosure at all?

Are the different sites where we often find products going to shut down and if they don’t are they breaking TOS?

Can Sellers contact us directly and ask us to review a product? Can we pitch to Sellers?

What about the FB groups and email groups, so many of them are handing out conflicting information, who is right?

The best thing any of us can do right now is to sit back and wait for the dust to settle.  My advice to you is to take a break and do not to publish any reviews on Amazon at all right now.  If you are on a deadline for something, contact the Seller and discuss different options like posting to social media. If you go to them with a plan in mind I think they will readily agree with you.  You do not want to make a mistake at this juncture and jeopardize your account.  If there is someone pressuring you to publish a review on Amazon, please consider whether or not that product, that person, or that group is worth the possibility of losing your account.

In the meantime, I am sure there will be more information forthcoming from Amazon, or at least from different people that have contacted Customer Service and have some verified answers to these questions and more. Consider this a vacation, you deserve one anyway! Take some time off from Reviewing and relax. Enjoy the Fall weather and the changes all around us. Do something special for yourself or a neighbor who could use a helping hand.

I will let you know what I come up with, probably sometime over the weekend or at the first of next week. I know that may seem like a long time when we are so used to being on deadlines and in a hurry. This is really going to be a time to reflect on if you want to continue writing reviews and then consider the best way to go about it if you do want to continue. If you still have an account after all of the wipes the last few months, so many of them senseless, then you really do need to do everything you can to safeguard your account. Giving yourself a few days to consider what you have learned and what I can verify is more than fair enough considering the major changes that have been made lately.

If there are other specific questions you are concerned about, please leave them below so I can gather lots of feedback at one time as I go about verification of  my own questions and yours. It is easier if they are shared here instead of individually through email, thanks!


Life is about the map we follow and the treasure we find along the way


Product Review :: Home Security Camera

Product Review :: Home Security Camera

Smarson HD WIFI Home Security Camera, Baby Monitor, App Controlled, Up to 5 Viewers

Easy set up, fantastic child monitor, loads of functionality

I ordered this WIFI camera to use in our kitchen and dining room area. We have had it about a month now and I am so happy with how it is working out. I have it paired with my Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Bluetooth 4.0, Android 5.0.

We have other security cameras set up in the house and have tried to work with a few inexpensive cameras that were better off returned. My husband and I are both amazed at how easy this was to set up and with the functionality of this.

Advantages:
Easy to set up
No wiring needed, everything is through WIFI
Camera is easy to operate through app and camera
I can have 5 preset views
I can pan and zoom, left and right, up and down
Two-way communication
You can set up motion alerts

Disadvantages:
The directions could use some refinement when it comes to details. With a little common sense though it is easy to figure out.

If you are looking for a baby monitor I would highly recommend this. We have a camera in our youngest son’s room just so I can easily keep an eye on him. He is old enough now he doesn’t really need it but since my health makes it difficult to get around, it really helps. Since it is a fixed mount camera I can only see certain areas of the room. When he is anywhere on the floor playing or in his reading nook, I can’t see him. A camera like this would be much more helpful in a young child’s room as a monitor. With the two-way audio, you could soothe a young child back to sleep with a few comforting words without always having to get up.

The reason we wanted a camera in the kitchen once again has to do with my health. Since the stairs are almost impossible for me at times, my youngest does a lot of the leg work around the house for me. Now that he is in middle school, his chores have increased, especially in the kitchen. With the great features on this camera that make it possible for me to follow his every move, I can ‘virtually’ help him out with his chores by lending advice on the best ways to clean certain messes or where certain things need to be put away. He can hear me great without any added speaker on the camera. If you are handicapped, a camera like this can be extremely helpful with your older children as well as your younger ones.

We also like to be able to send our son to the kitchen for a snack and not have to worry about him getting into something he shouldn’t have. He loves sugary snacks but is borderline diabetic. If there is sugar in the house, I swear that child can smell it! Now I can watch and make sure he isn’t searching through the baking supplies or sneaking a treat his dad has saved for a special treat.

I haven’t been able to use it with any Kindle tablets but those are compatibility issues that many apps and hardware combinations are finding. A Kindle, or should I now say Fire tablet, runs on a hybrid Android system so not everything works as it is supposed to.

As far as rating this security system goes I would normally deduct a star for poor instructions but the actual ease of set up and use more than makes up for it. If we were able to rate with partial stars, this would probably rate at around 4.80 all things considered.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I ordered this Smarson HD WIFI Home Security Camera, Baby Monitor, App Controlled, Up to 5 Viewers on Amazon and received it at a discount in exchange for my honest and unbiased review. All ratings are earned and never promised; all opinions and thoughts expressed are my own and I am in no way associated with the manufacturer or seller. I received no compensation other than the product sample. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

#smarssen


Life is about the map we follow and the treasure we find along the way


Health :: Shades of Pain

Health :: Shades of Pain

Shades of pain…. That phrase is running through my mind as I think about the pain I am in right now, today. I was trying to describe it to my friend so that she understands. I always think that my pain can’t get any worse, but it does. How can I begin to explain to her what I am feeling? Maybe other people with chronic pain will understand.

shades of pain poem about chronic pain


I changed doctors a few months ago and my new ones are really not grasping my medical history. I don’t think they have completely read through my records and they dismiss so many things I tell them. Last week at the pain doctor, she told me that it is against the law for her to prescribe opioids for me because I do not have cancer and am not at the end of my life. She explained that I am taking almost 5 times the legal limit. She cut my pain medication by 30% and next week I am supposed to go back and she will cut it down to the legal limit for a cancer patient. She hasn’t said what the next step after that will be. Is she going to take everything away?

In spite of the fact that I have been dealing with chronic pain for 8 years, I have a heart condition, 2 failed back fusions, I am in so much pain already that I can rarely get out of bed, plus I have several diagnoses that are up in the air at this point (they disagree with the Mayo Clinic) she is taking away my pain medication. She told me that the federal government has passed this law and she has to follow it.

The problem is, besides the fact that I am in tremendous pain, I can’t find any information on the laws that have been passed. I know there has been discussion and that the CDC has made recommendations. A recommendation is not a law, though. I have even asked other chronic pain patients on Twitter if they have heard of these new laws. No one has.

My husband is trying to get me in to see his pain doctor, I don’t think I can take much more of this. I have to find a new doctor asap. The pain is horrible, it wasn’t even controlled in the first place. Now on top of it, I am dealing with withdrawal symptoms. I am trying to read and to keep busy, I try not to let myself focus on the pain. This post has taken me hours to write, I just can’t get it together. Tomorrow has to be better! 


Amazon TOS Changes :: Increase in Minimum Purchases to Write a Review, Again

Amazon TOS Changes :: Increase in Minimum Purchases to Write a Review, Again

I have just read that Amazon has changed their Customer Review Creation Guidelines once again. Last month we saw them make an addition to their TOS (Terms of Service) requiring anyone that wanted to leave a review for a product must first have spent a total of  $5.00 on Amazon using a valid credit or debit card. Prime subscriptions and promotional discounts wouldn’t go towards that minimum.

Today, that $5.00 change has been increased to a minimum of $50.00 total worth of purchases on a valid credit or debit card in order to be able to write a product review.

Amazon TOS changes

This link will take you to the complete Customer Creation Guidelines.

Up to that point, anyone who wanted to could write a product review. There have been 3 sets of lawsuits filed in the past year against companies and individuals that were paying for reviews or that used tactics on their product promotion websites that were against Amazon TOS.

Do you think the increase to $50.00 is warranted? It is steep but it will certainly curb the huge number of fake profiles being created in order to write reviews in exchange for money. Many Reviewers may feel this is targeted at the Reviewer Community but I see it as targeting unscrupulous Sellers who will try anything to manipulate their ranking.

As a reminder, any special Seller requests are against Amazon TOS.  Even if you refuse to do the request but receive a product from that Seller, your account is still in jeopardy.  When a Seller loses their account, Amazon is more than likely to also wipe all known Reviewers who have worked with them. Keyword Searches, Wishlisting, and Other Seller Requests are manipulation, plain and simple. This includes asking you to write and/or answer questions on a product listing. Amazon is not going to stop and ask who has participated in these things for certain Sellers, they are just going to wipe all of the Reviewers who are associated with them through writing reviews. Please, if a Seller asks you to do anything special, don’t do it. Let them know that what they are asking is against Amazon TOS, they may not know. If it is obvious they do know, report them.

What do you think? Leave a Comment below, would love to hear from you!


Life is about the map we follow and the treasure we find along the way


A Little Bit of Everything

A Little Bit of Everything


WelcomeI want to welcome the new subscribers to this blog, there has been a tremendous increase in the number of people signing up for updates just this month alone! I am so excited to have you all here. A lot of the new subscribers seem to be from Europe, how wonderful!

I know there are a few companies opening sites for Reviewers in Europe now. But I don’t want to assume anyone is here for any specific reason. I would love it if anyone at all, new to the blog or not, would like to share where you are from and what you are interested in. Are you here to learn about Reviewing, or have an interest in inspiration, coloring, or health related topics? Anything else, good old fashioned Serendipity?

Keep calm and color onFor those of you who like to color, I just posted 15 new Kindle books for you to download and print for FREE over on my FB blog page. Here is the link, Facebook :: A Treasure Chest of Serendipity to the specific post where the books are posted in the Comments. Make sure to double check the price before you order in case the price has changed.

I also noticed that many of the eBooks that I shared last on the Coloring for Adults page are still FREE, so be sure to check those out while you are at it.

I used to dreamOn to the topic of health, I have actually missed all my appointments this week. On Tuesday there was a mix up and the person I thought I had asked to take me couldn’t manage it. So I rescheduled for today but couldn’t even get out of bed to make it in. I am just managing to get up one or two times during the day to make it into the bathroom.  I am in such a great deal of pain and the heart medication I have started seems to have drained every bit of energy. Here’s a graphic I made last month for Twitter, it is even more appropriate now! It is a little tongue-in-cheek, my life isn’t a nightmare but it isn’t what I thought it would be.

When you change the way you look at thingsBut let’s end on an inspirational note. It is better to think of the things in our lives that are good instead of focusing on the things that aren’t. One of the ladies that runs the Grandfamilies organization that I am a member of has arranged something very special for our family this weekend and my heart is full of such gratitude and thankfulness to her. I will share more about it next week, I am just too tired right now… But the world is full of wonderful people and I am blessed.

I hope everyone has a lovely weekend!

Lynn Marie


Life is about the map we follow and the treasure we find along the way


Finding Serendipity

Finding Serendipity

Well, some of my regular readers may have noticed I have been offline for the last few weeks.  I was on another doctor ordered break from everything….  My heart beats at an exceedingly fast rate at times and the doctors have been trying different things to get it to regulate.  I have been reluctant to speak too much about my health of here though I have referenced issues such as Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain. For me, those are just the tip of the iceberg, and believe me, they are enough by themselves!

This blog started out as a vehicle for sharing what I have learned about writing product reviews. Then I realized that writing product reviews gave me something that I didn’t even know I needed. Something I wasn’t looking for. Something that I didn’t even know I needed.

I connected to people. For the 7 years prior to that point I had been completely hiding away from the world. I was at such a great place in my life before that. My career was just what I wanted, my husband and I had made it through the ups and downs of raising our children and were soon to become empty nesters. I was looking forward to the honeymoon years we never had. My life wasn’t perfect but everything we had worked so hard for seemed to be working out. Then I got sick. I got very sick.

I am still sick 8 years later and I will always be sick. I am not saying that because I am giving up, I am saying that because dealing with chronic illness means that at some point you have to have acceptance. Acceptance doesn’t mean that I have given up hope and have lost my faith. It means that I needed to ground myself and accept that my life has changed and I will never be the person that I once was or the person that I had planned and dreamed of being.  As with any great challenge in life, it  changes who you are at your core level.

I have talked before about wanting to share about my health but to be honest I have never known where to start.  So I have just decided to start from today. Today I am anxious to get back to work after being cut off from all of you for almost two weeks. I have so many things to catch up on and so many reviews to write.

I am making a public commitment today and announcing that I will be sharing more about the things that really matter in my life. My health, my family, our family growing to become a grandfamily. In the middle of everything else going on in the last 8 years, my husband and I adopted our youngest son. We are a grandfamily now because he was actually a child we thought of as our grandson, though he was only related by marriage.  When grandparents adopt or start raising a grandchild they are often called a grandfamily. Grandchildren and adoption are things that are very near and dear to my heart so I will be sharing about them also.

To keep everything straight and make it easy for you to pick and choose the posts you are interested in reading, I will be including the name of the category in the post titles. They will go something like this:

Product Review ::  XXXXXXXX
Health :: XXXXXXXX
Grandfamily :: XXXXXXXX
Inspiration :: XXXXXXXX
Coloring for Adults :: XXXXXXXX

I hope you all continue to stick with me as I share my journey and the many different ways that I find Serendipity in my life. Or is it Serendipity finding me?

Lynn Marie


Life is about the map we follow and the treasure we find along the way


Inspirational Post :: Hope in a World Gone Mad

Inspirational Post :: Hope in a World Gone Mad

 


Hope

After another weekend full of violence and tragedy, my thoughts turn once again to what is happening all over the world.  Why is there so much hate in the world? 

treasures in life

Or is there so much hate in the world because we have lost hope? The world has become such a scary place and I know I am not alone in my feelings. There are so many things I can’t grasp, things I don’t understand.  I just know that no matter what, I must not give up hope. Hope for a better world, hope for my children and grandchildren.

How do you find hope? I recently read a blog post by a new friend, Rose Wolfe. Five Steps to Hope in a World Gone Mad is a wonderfully written post that I urge you to read.  I am just going to give you a short introduction to her writing and then you really do need to visit her site to read the 5 Steps that you can personally take to bring HOPE into your life.

Personal struggles explode into public arenas. Those with shredded souls seek disconnection – wanting to destroy what they don’t understand. They claim their hate is an act of love. In the aftermath, not only is flesh bleeding out, but also the hearts of those who hate the hate.

Challenges are now part of every life as we claw at the chains to live beyond the prison of madness. In an attempt to throw off the albatross of hopelessness that has been tossed around our shoulders, we can actively take steps to find hope. It will require courage.

Read more, Five Steps to Hope in a World Gone Mad

Thank you for such an inspiring blog, Rose.  You have such a beautiful way with words and I have found so many of your posts strike close to my heart.


Amazon TOS Changes :: What is Fact and What is Fiction

Amazon TOS Changes :: What is Fact and What is Fiction


They changed what??? They are making us do what??? No!!! Really??? Who did you hear that from??? They are out to get rid of us!!! How can they do this??? This can’t be legal!!! I’m sure it is because of the …. Do you think that…….

Amazon TOS ChangesThere are currently so many rumors flying around about Amazon’s Customer Review Creation Guidelines. Even though they changed them almost two weeks ago, people are still talking about it and still don’t  understand what changed and how it affects them. I know it can be scary and very confusing at times. What do you believe? Who do you believe? Where do I go for information? Those are all questions that have gone through my mind so many times since I have become a Reviewer.

As if changes to the TOS weren’t enough, around that same timeframe, Amazon wiped another large group of Reviewers again. Many people have claimed that Amazon wiped their account unfairly after they secretly changed their Guidelines, enforcing rules that were not in place when their reviews were written. I won’t address that rumor in this post, but of course, I have some thoughts to share about it later this week….

I have even read where people are going to quit reviewing because Amazon is continually changing the rules and there are no guidelines for a Reviewer to follow. People are unfairly losing their accounts and no explanations are given. Some people think that  Amazon should be sued because they have treated the community so unfairly.

After I heard another rumor that Amazon rewrote the complete Customer Review Creation Guidelines, I knew I needed to read them for myself and see what had changed so drastically. I wanted to know what I should be concerned about the most. So I read them and reread them. Then read them again. To tell you the truth, after reading them I had no idea what people were so upset about. They seemed basically the same to me except for one point. The $5.00 point. We’ll get to the answer to that question, but let’s look at the old and new Guidelines themselves for a minute.

I couldn’t recall exactly what the Amazon’s Review Guidelines said previously, but I knew one place I could find out… What Amazon TOS Really Says, straight from the horse’s mouth.  Ani Ruhama wrote this article back in late January and copied the text exactly from Amazon’s website. Let’s look at this side by side comparison I made. I had decided not to depend on some of the graphics I saw last week where people had compiled a ‘TOS” from bits and pieces they remembered, points they had written down, and partial screenshots. Thank goodness, I didn’t use those for my comparison!

Customer Review Creation Guidelines
Then and Now


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The Promotional Review section and the Paid Reviews section are exactly the same between the two versions except for some formatting changes.

The first section has changed. To post a review, customers must spend at least $5.00 using a valid credit or debit card. Prime subscriptions and promotional discounts don’t qualify towards the $5.00 minimum. What does that mean and is it fair for Amazon to change the rules?

What this does not mean is that you can only write a review if you paid at least $5.00 for the product. What it does mean is that at some time during the life of your Amazon account, you must have spent $5.00 on their website.

  • This is lifetime (of your Amazon account) total of $5.00.
  • The $5.00 can not include what you paid for your Prime Subscription.
  • The $5.00, or any portion of it, can not come from the purchase of a product that was offered at a promotional discount.
  • The $5.00 has to be paid with a valid credit or debit card. You can’t use a gift card you purchased yourself, or one someone else gave to you, to meet this $5.00 minimum.

Am I sure about this? Yes!

I was sure that I understood the new stipulation but there are always people (like me) who want to see the proof with their own eyes. Do not assume anything with Amazon. I was just getting ready to write to them for clarification when I opened an email from Rachel Michelle, Director of Relations at Launchzon.com. They are the sister site to a new review website that I just joined, Ratezon.com. Rachel knew that the Sellers, as well as Reviewers, were concerned about all of the rumors swirling around so she contacted Amazon herself and had just received confirmation of what the “$5.00” stipulation actually means. Here is the actual email response she received from Amazon.

amazonconfimation

Click here if you would like to be able to read the text of the message in an easier format.

 

thank youThank you, Rachel, for sharing your clarification email with us. If there are any quality, experienced reviewers looking for a new site, Ratezon.com has recently launched and is now accepting applicants! Head on over and sign up if you are interested. They are really on top of TOS and want to make sure that Sellers and Reviewers have the support they need.

Now, on to the question as to if this is fair? I think so. Requiring you to spend $5.00 on their site is not that big of a deal. Anyone who just goes there to order things they are going to review at very little to no cost is missing out on a lot of really great deals and quality products. I love to review things and get great deals but our family also purchases a lot of other things on Amazon. Purchasing and then reviewing those things too is also a good way to keep your account well rounded. What is a well-rounded account? More on that next week…..

great dealsThere are several people you all may know, L.j. Redding among them, who regularly post great deals. She has a page on FB, Pelican Freak Frugal Finds that always has great deals, not to mention free eBooks! If you are reading this and have a page with great deals at Amazon, let me know and I will add it to the list.

$5.00 is nothing compared to the benefits we receive as Reviewers. It is not like you are giving them the money like a membership fee and you aren’t receiving anything in return. You can purchase whatever you want with it. There must be a very large number of people who write reviews and never even purchase anything themselves from the site or they would not have put this in place. What can you do if you are one of those people? Go spend some of your own money on Amazon!

Is it legal that Amazon changed their TOS?  They are not breaking any government or state rules and/or regulations by any of the changes they have made. It is their company and they make the rules. They create the rules, enforce the rules, and answer to no one. I have talked about this a lot before, they write their guidelines and policies to be very broad and vague so that they can interpret them how they want to. Once you submit your review you agree to give up all rights to the content, both written and media. You actually agree to abide by all of their TOS when you sign up for an account.

Did they do this so that they could wipe more Reviewers? I really doubt it. There have been a lot of changes lately, not just to Reviewers, but to Sellers and regular consumers also.  I am sure there are many changes that we are not even aware of yet. Let’s face it, they could have wiped every single reviewer if they wanted to without even having to change their TOS. That is not the reason they changed the Guidelines.

why do they get wipedThe review system began as a marketing ploy created so that they could jump ahead of their competition by having the first online store where customers contributed reviews, both good and bad, on a very large scale. It helped make Amazon who they are today. People knew they could go to Amazon and read reviews written by other people just like them.

However, both Sellers and Reviewers have taken advantage of the system. The fact that Amazon is purposely vague and doesn’t have enough real structure in their guidelines has come back to haunt them. That is the reason people get their accounts wiped. There are no real guidelines and with no real direction built in, the system has become flawed. Amazon’s reputation has suffered and Reviewers are not seen in the best light either.

So why did so many people just get wiped again? There are so many reasons why people get wiped and most of them will never know why, unless they knew they were doing something wrong and took the risk. I certainly feel sorry that so many people have lost all of their hard work and effort. I never want to minimalize that. It could happen to any of us.

I do have some other things I have heard about recently and things I read while researching this article that I will share more about later, but I am going off topic now. Those accounts being wiped do not have anything to do with the recent changes to Amazon’s Customer Review Creation Guidelines.

question marksWill all reviewers be wiped? Is the review system going to away? No. It would be an extremely disastrous business decision for them to wipe all reviews ever done, or even just the ones that were done by Reviewers. For the same reason, the system is not going to go away. Remember, the review system is what made Amazon into the largest online retailer. For them to have to publicly denounce and then do away with what made them who they are would be shooting themselves not only in the foot but In the head.

If Amazon has carte blanche to do whatever they want anyway, why bother to make any changes in the TOS at this point?  Changes in the Customer Review Creation Guidelines are actually a good sign. Amazon is moving forward with changes to the way Customer Reviews should be done. This seems to be part of the needed framework.

change is goodThe constant suspensions of updating rankings and blocking API access is a sure sign to me that they are working on their internal database structure which is what supports the algorithm they use to monitor transactions, especially transactions between Reviewers and Sellers. Until they have made all of the needed changes and are sure their database structure will support what they want to implement, they will probably go forward with minor changes like this instead of a major announcement and then implementation of how they plan to reinvent their once best-in-class system.



Amazon Customer Review Creation Guidelines TOS Changes :: What is Fact and What is Fiction
Most of what I have heard is FICTION (thankfully)
I hope I have cleared up the question about what the $5.00 stipulation means.

To keep your account as safe as possible, whatever you do, don’t forget to put your Disclosure in your review and don’t participate in Keyword Searching, Wishlisting, or other Special Seller Requests.

Do you have other questions about the recent changes?
What other things have you heard?
Do you have questions about the email from Amazon?

You know I always love to hear from other Reviewers or interested parties, please leave a comment letting me know what you think of the recent change, Amazon TOS in general, Customer Review Creation Guidelines, a question about reviewing, or anything else you would like to comment on.


Disclosure: I don’t pretend to know all of the answers and my opinion does have a tendency to come through very strongly in my posts, but I do state all of the facts that I know and make every effort possible to share with you the correct information. I am always very open to hearing opposing viewpoints. If we don’t share what we have learned with each other, none of us will ever make it as a Reviewer.

Product Review :: Copper LED Lantern #mitakijapan

Product Review :: Copper LED Lantern #mitakijapan


Mitaki ELANT12 Classic 12-bulb Lantern

Offered by SKIVU


Gorgeous and functional!

copper lanterns 12 LED lightsThis is the perfect replica of the old oil lanterns I remember from my childhood, except for one thing, it won’t burn you! With the source of light being 12 LED Lights that run on 4AA batteries, you don’t have to worry about it running out of fuel or injuring anyone. The copper finish on it is gorgeous, copper is what I use as my kitchen accent color. So guess what this little lantern is going to be? It is actually going to be a camping light! And a decorative element!

Of course, I will use it more for a decorative piece than anything, though. I have ordered some of the copper wire lights to place inside of it (with a remote) so that I can place this on top of my cabinets with my other copper pieces. As soon as they come in, I will update this with a picture, I am sure it is going to look like it was meant for that spot.  I think the same copper wire lights inside of it would look nice at a campsite too.

This would also be a great piece to decorate your RV with if you have any little shelves. What would be better than a camping themed element that would work in an emergency as an extra light source?

The lantern is well constructed and I haven’t had any problems. I like that the knob for the lights is dimmable, it can be very dim or super bright.  Other things I like are that the globe is glass, not plastic.  It has a good weight to it, it doesn’t feel like it is flimsily made. The copper color is a finish, as stated in the product review but it looks very accurate. You wouldn’t want a real copper lantern for a camp lantern anyway, it would tarnish too quickly.  It has a handy hook at the top if you want to hang it and it also has a nice long handle to carry it with if you need to.

I don’t see any disadvantages to this. I highly recommend it whether you are looking at this as a decorative piece or a functional piece,

In the spirit of full disclosure, I ordered this on Amazon and received it for free in exchange for my honest and unbiased review. All ratings are earned and never promised; all opinions and thoughts expressed are my own and I am in no way associated with the manufacturer or seller. I received no compensation other than the product sample. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

#mitakijapan


Product Review :: PinPix Recipe Board #pinpix

Product Review :: PinPix Recipe Board #pinpix

PinPix Decorative Pin Cork Bulletin Board, Recipe Board with Fruit 24×16 framed in Satin Black

by Art To Frames


Decorate and organize with practical art for your kitchen!

 

pinpixThis is such a nice cork board, I actually consider it more art for my kitchen. The design is fresh and bright and it is framed with a real wooden frame just like a picture would be. I expected more of a piece of cork board in a plastic frame that would be nice, I didn’t expect anything this nice. Isn’t it a great feeling when your expectations in a product are more than met!

Advantages:

✦ This is more than a cork board, it is décor for your kitchen
✦ Many designs and sizes to choose from
✦ The print is bright and crisp
✦ The texture of the cork board makes it look like a painting
✦ Comes with everything you need to hang and use it (except recipes of course, lol)
✦ Very well constructed; on the level of department store quality, not a big box store and certainly not a discount store item
✦ New technology that prevents the pin pricks made on it from staying the same size, the material reforms around the holes leaving a much smoother and cleaner looking surface than a regular bulletin/cork board. Pretty cool!
✦ Some of these designs can easily be used in different locations than the kitchen, depending on the décor of your home
✦ This looks much better than the side of my refrigerator with scribbled notes all over it.
✦ This decorative board is keeping me more organized, my kitchen looks better, makes for a better environment overall.

Disadvantages:

✦ None

Recommendation:

✦ This is perfect if you are looking for a bulletin board/cork board/recipe board for your kitchen. It is also great if you are just looking for something to brighten an area of your home with a splash of color. This is such a nice looking piece, it would make a great housewarming gift, shower gift, or even a wedding present, This would make the perfect gift for anyone who loves to cook or bake, especially if you paired it with some family recipes or recipes that you know they love. You could even add a few pictures and little mementos to embellish it more.

I am very pleased with mine and can’t wait to see what designs the company may come up with next. There are endless possibilities with this new technology that seems to heal the canvas. This type of product would be useful for bulletin boards in children’s/teens/students rooms, offices, the garage, mud room, classroom, etc…

pinpix          juicy pinpix recipe board

In the spirit of full disclosure, I ordered this PinPix decorative pin cork bulletin board made from high-quality canvas, Recipe Board with Fruit printed at 24×16 Inches and framed in Satin Black (PinPix-36) on Amazon and received it at a discount in exchange for my honest and unbiased review. All ratings are earned and never promised; all opinions and thoughts expressed are my own and I am in no way associated with the manufacturer or seller. I received no compensation other than the product sample. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

#pinpix #arttoframes


 

Product Review :: Vintage White 4 Piece Bathroom Accessories Set

Product Review :: Vintage White 4 Piece Bathroom Accessories Set

Vintage White Bathroom Accessories 4 Piece Set
by Whizzhome

This Vintage White Bathroom Accessories Set is just what I needed to give my bathroom counter a little touch of class.These are kind of a shabby-chic look, more on the chic side. I have a Victorian style home so these fit right in with the theme of my home and the theme of the decor that I have chosen to go along with the house. These are classy and elegant without being over the top. They look like they have always belonged there.

Attractive and elegant; but also practical and durable

Overall, I am more than happy with how these look and function. I love that they are made of fairly thick resin and not glass, I have had too many bad experiences with glass vanity pieces breaking with the slightest pressure. These are DSC00704nice sturdy pieces that will last a while, probably longer than the next time I want to redecorate. The raised designs on each item is a silver color making them not the shiny, glossy white the product description says, but I am perfectly happy with that. I prefer this much more. The design is not a true French Fleur-De-Lis Motif, but it is very elegant and in that style. The rest of the product description is accurate so I won’t repeat all of that information for you but just describe what I do and don’t like about each piece.

Soap Dish: Perfect size to hold a larger bar or several small specialty soaps. The inside of the dish is nice and smooth, making it easy to keep clean.

Soap Dispenser: This is a VERY large soap dispenser, much larger than I expected. I have tried it with regular liquid soap and with a thicker gel soap and they both worked. The actual pump is very sturdy, much more so than what you find in disposable bottles to hold up to long use. I love that this bottle is so big and that it will require refilling less often.

Toothbrush Holder: This is a nice holder.with a thick bar down the middle to keep the sides separated I suppose. It will hold even the larger specialty brushes. You could easily put two brushes on one side and a tube of toothpaste on the other or if you have a family bathroom you could put 4-6 brushes in here depending on the size. If you keep your toothbrushes in your drawer, you could easily use this to hold two or three brushes and some essential favorite tubes of makeup,

Cup: We use disposable cups in the bathroom so I am using this for a new set of make-up brushes I just got. This cup is so large, it will hold a lot of things! You could use this for so many different things like cotton swabs and Q-tips, flowers, bath salts, potpourri, or even your razor. It is always nice to have options.

I can’t get over how practical and durable these are, they look so elegant and expensive that I expect them to break at any time but I have knocked them against each other, the counter, and numerous other things with no chips at all. I also like that the bottom of the pieces aren’t slick. They are the same color but the finish is not as smooth so that they will stay where they are placed and any water on the counter isn’t going to have these sliding around. I think this is a great set that will fit into the decor of many people’s homes, not just Victorians like mine. The cool white color with the hint of gray will be nice just about anywhere. These would be a nice addition to your own bathroom or as a gift. They come in a very nice black box that would make them very nice for gift giving in fact.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I ordered this Vintage White Bathroom Accessories, 4 Piece Bathroom Accessories Set, Bathroom Set Features French Fleur-De-Lis Motifs, Soap Dispenser, Toothbrush Holder, Tumbler & Soap Dish – White Glossy – Bath Gift Set from Amazon and received it at a discount in exchange for my honest and unbiased review. All ratings are earned and never promised. All opinions and thoughts expressed are my own and I am in no way associated with the manufacturer or seller. I received no compensation other than the product sample. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.


Life is about the map we follow and the treasure we find along the way


Product Review: What a Wonderful World!

Product Review: What a Wonderful World!


TCP Global 8: Blue Ocean Desktop World Globe with Black Base

I have loved globes since I was a little girl so I thought this would be a great gift for my son!

DSC00642PROS:
* Can be used as an educational toy or as a decoration
* The educational opportunities are endless
* The continents are shown realistically, the globe seems to be in proportion
* Each continent is shown as a different color than it’s neighbor, except for the US
* Great size at 8″, easy for any child ages 4 and up to play with and learn from
* The base and stand come off, making it easy to hang from the ceiling
* The Latitude/Longitude, Timezones, Equinox, Ocean/Wind Currents, International Date Line, and Time Zones
* Made of materials that will last
* Seems accurate

CONS:
* There is almost too much information on it, making it hard to read
* Even though it is a nice size, I wish I would have gone a little bit larger so that it would be easier to read
* There is a grouping of very small dings along with a shallow dent of about 3/4″ where it looks like someone might have dropped it.
* Each state in the US is shown as a different color which might be confusing to some people

It seems that the problem some reviewers have had with the states and capitals has been resolved. They are on my globe, but since there are other cities that they have included, it can be confusing.

DSC00641Would I buy this again or recommend to a friend? YES!!! I love it not only for the nostalgic memories it brings back, but for the educational opportunities that it will give my son. That is well worth the price point of less than $20.00 at the time I ordered it.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I ordered this TCP Global 8″ (20cm) Blue Ocean Desktop World Globe Black Base on Amazon and received it at a discount in exchange for my honest and unbiased review. All ratings are earned and never promised. All opinions and thoughts expressed are my own and I am in no way associated with the manufacturer or seller. I received no compensation other than the product sample. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

#tcpglobal


Product Review :: ROHEGO Comfort Mat for Standing

Product Review :: ROHEGO Comfort Mat for Standing


by ROHEGO

ROHEGOMy husband says this is the best thing that I have got him in a long time. My poor guy has had 5 back surgeries so you can just imagine the pain he is in still, from something as simple as standing up for any length of time. Right now we are using this in front of our kitchen sink so that he gets some relief as he is doing the dishes. We have hardwood floors in our kitchen and he says that having the mat eases the pressure on his back considerably. Due to my health conditions he has to do all of the housework as well as working full time so anything that makes his life easier, I am all for it!

The product description is accurate so I don’t want to repeat all of that, just talk about what we like best about this.

ROHEGO 1PROS:
* The amount of pain/stress relief he receives by using the mat it considerable, on the high end of a rating scale of 10
* Textured backing so it stays in place
* Beveled edge makes it easy for me to push my wheelchair over it
* Eco-friendly and non-toxic
* Money back guarantee if you are not satisfied! What do you have to loose?

CONS:
* None, this is a fantastic product! I wish we would have got one sooner.

If you have any type of physical impairment that makes it painful or difficult to stand, you need one of these. If you have to stand for a long time at your job, you need one of these. It is that plain and simple. My husband doesn’t put up with gimmicks and things that don’t benefit his back. I think it is great too, it does feel considerably softer, but at the same time supportive when I do try and stand on it for short periods of time.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I ordered this ROHEGO Premium Anti-Fatigue Standing Desk and Kitchen Mat – 20″ x 39″ x 3/4″ – Reduce Fatigue and Increase Comfort and Productivity at Home, Office, Studio with this High Quality Comfort Mat – Black on Amazon and received it for free in exchange for my honest and unbiased review. All ratings are earned and never promised. All opinions and thoughts expressed are my own and I am in no way associated with the manufacturer or seller. I received no compensation other than the product sample. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

#ROHEGO


Life is about the map we follow and the treasure we find along the way


Product Review : US Art Supply® Jewelescent® 120 Gel Pen Set

Product Review : US Art Supply® Jewelescent® 120 Gel Pen Set

Jewelescent Gel Pens USART SupplyThis is the second time I have ordered gel pens from US Art Supply. I spend most of my time in bed due to my health and so have a lot of time on my hands. I like to keep myself occupied and one of my favorite things to do is color. I find it to be very relaxing and stress-free. There is nothing hard about it except choosing what to color, what to color with, and then what specific color you will use! To some, 120 pens might seem overkill but if you color a lot, you will go through a lot of pens, colored pencils, markers, crayons, and whatever else you use.

The first set of gel pens I ordered from US Art Supply was a 48 pen set, US Art Supply Jewelescent 48 Color Gel Pen Set Professional Artist Quality Gel Ink Pens. My review is basically the same but I do have a few different points to make so they are both worth reading for more information. At least my hope is that you find them useful 🙂

These are some really nice gel pens. I would say they are for anyone who is entry level to being a fairly serious colorist. Some of the colors, especially the Glitters, would be appreciated by professionals.

Of all the sets I have ever used by any manufacturer, no two are the same.
This set is one of the better sets that I have used.



PROS:
* 120 colors to choose from, tons of options which I love! *see complete list of colors below
* You are able to naturally blend with some of the colors if you do it quickly
* You can completely color over another color, not always possible with other setsDSC00545
* Fine tips, excellent for tiny areas
* You can actually use the case to store the pens in if you are careful
* The ink dries quickly, hardly any smearing
* Minimal color bleeding to the back of the page, only dark colors
* Color-coded tips and caps that are accurate
* Non-toxic, acid-free, meets ASTM D-4236 standards
* Great for coloring, doodling, writing letters and cards, journaling, scrapbooking, or any number of other possibilities
* I was able to write on greeting cards and shiny slick paper with these which is a bonus since a lot of pens won’t do that
* Lifetime Guarantee! If you have a problem with them, contact them and they will give you your money back. A Lifetime Guarantee is something not seen a lot anymore and something that can be very nice when you run into trouble.

CONS:
* The ink itself is not consistent, more or less can come out of a pen requiring shaking during use if not enough, bleeding out of the intended area if there is too much.
* The tips are almost too fine, leaving line marks instead of flowing into the fibers
* The tips will mar the back of a thin caliper paper such as copy paper and many coloring books


COLORS:

Jewelescent Gel Pens Glitter

24 Glitter: 2 each of Purple, Dark Red, Medium Pink, Red, Dark Orange, Light Orange, Yellow, Green, Light Blue, Blue, Grey, Black

Metallics and Blacks

20 METALLICS AND BLACKS : Teal, Dark Blue, Purple, Red, Lilac, Orange, Green, Silver, Gold, Dark Grey, Black

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

18 Pastel: Lighter Blue, Pale Blue, Lilac, Pink, Bright/Light Green, Yellow, Pale Pink, Light Orange/Melon, White

18 Pastel: Lighter Blue, Pale Blue, Lilac, Pink, Bright/Light Green, Yellow, Pale Pink, Light Orange/Melon, White 6 CLASSICS: Red, Green, Blue

 

Glitter Neon

24 GLITTER NEON: GN Light Green, GN Pale Pink, GN Medium Pink, GN Medium Green, GN Purple, GN Green, GN Bright Yellow, GN Light Orange, GN Orange, GN Red, GN Pink.

* 18 Pastel: Lighter Blue, Pale Blue, Lilac, Pink, Bright/Light Green, Yellow, Pale Pink, Light Orange/Melon, White * 12 Fluorescent Neon: Neon Purple, Neon Pink, Neon Medium Green, Neon Yellow, Neon Orange, Neon Pink

18 PASTELS: Lighter Blue, Pale Blue, Lilac, Pink, Bright/Light Green, Yellow, Pale Pink, Light Orange/Melon, White 12 FLORESCENT NEON: Neon Purple, Neon Pink, Neon Medium Green, Neon Yellow, Neon Orange, Neon Pink

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Jewelescent Gel Pens

These are a really good set of pens that I do recommend. The Glitters are by far my favorite group, with the Metallics coming in a close second. I have really enjoyed using them and have found them to be fun to work with. Out of 120 pens, I have only had one that broke after shaking it when it wasn’t writing very well.

One improvement I might recommend would be to add some kind of comfort grip. Whatever your favorite artistic hobby is, though, I think that you will really enjoy these gel pens. In my first set, I had a problem with the silver metal tips not being screwed on all of the pens correctly. I did not have that problem with this set.


In the spirit of full disclosure, I ordered this US Art Supply® Jewelescent® 120 Gel Pen Set – Professional Artist Quality Gel Ink Pens in Vibrant Colors – Classic, Glitter, Metallic, Neon, Pastel & Swirl Colors – 100% Satisfaction Guarantee on Amazon and received it for free in exchange for my honest and unbiased review. All ratings are earned and never promised. All opinions and thoughts expressed are my own and I am in no way associated with the manufacturer or seller. I received no compensation other than the product sample. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day

 

Today is International Women’s Day, a day in which the world advocates and celebrates the social, economic and political achievements of women. I have been following this group for years now and would love to share their message and mission with you. Heifer’s projects around the world empower women day-in and day-out, to earn steady and dependable incomes for their families, to increase self-reliance and to become confident leaders in their communities.

Read more to find out how more about this fantastic organization and how you can help, with a name like Heifer International, how do you think they help women? It is an interesting and novel approach! 

For more information, click here. Thanks!

 

 

Announcing….

Announcing….

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….the winners of the  Serendipity Love and Friendship Contest
congrats to our winners

Well, of course you know I am going to make you visit the actual Coloring Books for Adults page now, but I did want to say a special thank you to everyone who participated.  I also would like to thank our wonderful sponsors CulaLuva and Coloring the West, An Adult Coloring Book.



Life is about the map we follow and the treasures we find along the way.


Gel Pens and Coloring Books :: Contest Ends Sunday at 11:59 pm MT!

Gel Pens and Coloring Books :: Contest Ends Sunday at 11:59 pm MT!

oh snap it's giveaway time

Have you entered? Well, why not?
This is so easy, just click a few buttons
and you are on your way to
winning some fabulous prizes!

 

You can enter just the general Rafflecopter Contest or you can submit an entry into the Coloring Contest.  It is not too late to even start a coloring entry now. Three great options to choose from!

rafflefoxroosterflower girl

 Win one of 3 sets of Gel Pens from CulaLuva along with 5 other coloring books for adults, including Coloring the West An Adult Coloring Book for Travelers.

CulaLuva imageColoring the West



Remember, life is about the path we follow and the treasures
that we find along the way.