Tuesday, January 28, 2020

This Joy I Have

It's going to get a little bit preachy...

It has dawned on me that my personal posts tend to be more about the lowlights of my life - sadness, depression, or despair. Of course, we all suffer at least occasionally from those things. You've heard quite a bit about my struggles but what you don't hear as much about is my joy.

When I was young, I loved when the church would break out singing these words:
"This joy I have, the world didn't give it to me. The world didn't give to me and the world can't take it away."
That's so powerful. Back then, my mother understood the joy she had, but I was just singing along because I liked the song. Once I hit some of life's speed bumps, I was able to totally relate to the song. The song speaks not only of the joy but of the peace and the love that the world can't take away.

In spite of any troubles life throws at me - and the ones I sometimes cause for myself - I have never lost my joy. There have been times when it was dimmed a little under the weight of depression or health problems. Dimmed but never ever extinguished.

I can remember a time when I was in Texas, away from my friends and family. I spent a few hours just laying on the floor in the dark and feeling like I just didn't deserve to live. I kept remembering all the wrong choices I had made to get me to that point and I felt so stupid and ashamed and unworthy. To be honest, I can't remember now how I got past that moment. I have many blank spots of that period in my life. But I did, obviously, get past it.

Today, I still have lots and lots of things to worry and stress about. I am going to be seeing another doctor this week and I am hoping he doesn't tell me anything bad. I have a countertop full of bills that I am struggling to catch up on. But I also have my joy.

There are times when I realize just how blessed I am that I have to stop whatever I am doing and just thank the Lord. That's a joy that can't be measured or studied or dissected or shrugged away.

For anyone out there who might be scoffing at my belief in Christ, let me remind you of something I think people forget or ignore. Even if you don't serve God, you serve a god of something. Maybe yours is a god of self-sufficiency or of money or hate. Maybe you serve a god of self. Some people serve a god of disbelieving or willful ignorance. Maybe you serve a god of nothing. You do have a belief and you do make choices about that belief. My belief gives me eternal hope and joy. What does yours give you?

When you hit rock bottom, where do you turn? What brings you back up? I truly am curious about what holds people together when they don't believe that there is a Creator who loves them.

My joy is so beautiful because it doesn't rely on my health, wealth, well-being, safety, or life. As a matter of fact, part of my joy is based on the fact that the loss or all those things are so minor in the end. There are a couple of more verses I remind myself of when I get tired of this fight"
And fear not them that kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear Him that is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28)
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Matthew 6:19-21

I have a sister in law who, when super-stressed, once joked that her treasures better be in heaven because they sure weren't here on earth! I love that. We don't always look like it, but the joy is there, underneath everything else.

So I just wanted to share that with you. If you are tired in your soul and heart, if you just need rest and comfort, try the Lord.


I know the Master of the wind.
I know the Maker of the rain.

This joy I have.
(Just picture churches all over the world
with different races, singing this)

Sunday, January 26, 2020

**SIFO** Pt 2 of SO Many Things About Amazon (you probably did not know)

Whew! This is the 2 of a 2-part post about things some people might not know are available on Amazon. Keep in mind that I am not an advocate for breaking budgets. I do know that I have been able to stay within my budget by knowing how and where to save on things I need. The key word there is NEED. I can't even list all my wants without feeling like a selfish waste of skin...

UPDATE: Since Part 1 of this post did not seem to attract as much attention as I expected, I will be cutting it short. I will just post what I had already prepared before now and not invest any more time in it.

Anyway, in Part One, I warned you about rabbit holes...

The Amazon Directory

I could have just linked to the Amazon site directory and left it at that, but I know how many things I missed the first time I found that page. You can hit the link and explore if you want, or you can visit some of my favorite rabbit holes...

Rabbit Hole 1 - Across the top are 6 areas you can click on to check out some of the areas most users are familiar with already. They aren't hidden because they are all on the regular Home page drop-down menu. I don't use the links here, I just go from the Home menu. The ones I tend to use at least once a month are Health & Household and Grocery & Gourmet Food. Don't get huffy with me; I only go to "gourmet" food because it's where I find my diet-healthy turmeric and cacao powder and the like. The household stuff is where I price-compare bathroom tissue and cleaning products.

Rabbit Hole 2 - Prime Reading is kind of a hidden gem. If you slide down that 2nd column on the Directory page, you will see it under Books & Audible.

I admit that I rarely use this free benefit but I do get reminder emails about it all the time. Lifewire does a wonderful job of explaining Prime Reading.

However, there is a lot to explore under this one heading. In addition to the plain old Prime Reading, there are just Book books, Children's Books, the good old Audible audiobooks, magazines (worth checking out). Then, things get a little more interesting.

  • AbeBooks is for those who are into the fine, rare, and collectibles in books and art. Yeah, I can't even afford to click on the link without taking out a loan.
  • Comics & Graphic Novels is where you can get, well, comics and graphic novels. Best of all, there are some items here that are "Prime Reading Eligible" - aka free for members.
  • Of interest to students - of all ages, mind you - are the Textbooks, Textbook Rentals, Sell Us Your Books, and Prime Student, of course. I notice that the Sell Us section seems to be more for selling devices. For selling textbooks, that was just under Textbook Rentals. Maybe that is because I am not a student. 
  • By the way, Prime Student has awesome bennies: "Amazon Prime Student is a Prime membership program created for college students. As a Prime Student member, you receive a six-month trial that includes Free Two-Day Shipping on over 50 million items, unlimited streaming of Prime movies and TV shows, unlimited photo storage with Prime Photos, 20% off pre-order and new release video games, exclusive deals and savings, and more! After your six-month trial ends, your Prime Student membership makes you eligible to receive 50% off Amazon Prime, and includes access to all Prime benefits." Sign up for a 6-month Trial here.

 Rabbit Hole 3 - Amazon Music is... I only use the free stuff so I can only tell you about Prime Music which you can listen to via a phone app or the web player. I did try Amazon Music Unlimited but let it drop when I was cutting even the tiniest pieces of fat from my budget, but if you get that you can also download music.

Rabbit Hole 4 - Prime Reading - you have probably noticed that anything with the "Prime" prefix is free for members. Prime Reading is another goodie. However, if you do want to check out one of the books available, you can read on a free app from Play Store, Windows Store, Amazon Apps Store for Android or Apple Store. You can access those links by clicking on the "read with our free app" notice under "see all formats":

Also, notice that for some of those free books, Whispersync - which is audio for the reading app:

This means that, for some of those FREE books, you can also get them with audio. This is awesome for those of us who prefer audio but don't want to add Audible to our budget. The trick to this is that you will be using the Audible phone app or web application to listen to the Whispersync audio. It's like getting at least some Audible books for free. Free, people. Fah-ree.

(By the way, you might notice that I skipped over the entire Echo & Alexa category. There's quite a bit of stuff there so you might want to check it out. As for me and my house,  I have to tell you that my love affair with my Echo Dot was hot, fast, and over in about 4 months. I almost never even turn that thing on anymore. While I realize that there is very little online privacy, I am that person who covers the cameras on all my devices and tries to block any microphones. When I used the Dot - mainly to listen to audiobooks, music or podcasts - I always turned off the microphone. I thought that gave me some measure of privacy until someone in a video pointed something out: If the microphone is off and Alexa's not listening, how does it know when you speak the 'wake' word? Not listening, aye? So, yeah, I keep that thing in the very back of the closet, under a heavy blanket and with tape over any possible 'ears'. Echo is on a time out.)

So this is about where I had gotten on this post. Like I said, I'm not going to dive any deeper. This has been a rough week, physically, and I don't have the energy. I do think you now have an idea of all that is possible on Amazon and can explore the rabbit holes on your own.


Monday, January 20, 2020

**SIFO** PT 1 of SO Many Things About Amazon (that you probably did not know)

***NOTE: Sorry that some of the photos are small. You can enlarge the view using  CTRL and the  + key on your browser or just click on the photo and see what happens.:***

This post started out just being about the Amazon Outlet, some deals and the coupon pages. But... I decided to go deeper. Instead of one simple post, this turned into such a monster that I just had to break it up into parts. So...

 This part is going to just cover a couple of my favorite things about Amazon. Later, I will get deeper into the site directory and highlight some really interesting parts. Or at least the parts I find most interesting. For now, let's get to the potentially money-saving sections...

Outlet, Coupons & Deals

I didn't think about this when I wrote the SIFO post on finding your Amazon stats. I was reading this story recently about the spat between PayPal and Amazon when I realized a lot of people might not even know about t the Amazon Outlet. (I just love an outlet. I once almost got lost in New Mexico trying to find one I'd heard about. I was on my way to drive the Alcan and was almost a couple of days late because of my distraction. Never did find that outlet.)

enlarge the photo to see the other deals, steals & woot-woots at top of page with blue arrow

To be honest, I don't go cruising through the Amazon Outlet just to window-shop. Doing that would make it too easy for me to talk myself into random purchases. What I do use it for is to check for deals on something I am already planning to buy. It's already hard enough to go on Amazon, get what I want, and get out before I start thinking I really just might need whatever gadget Buzzfeed is pushing. I once almost bought a clip-on couch table. I never sit on my couch long enough to need a place to rest beverages or the remote.

Still, I think everyone should know about the Outlet. I will tell you a couple of things about it before you check it out though.
  1. It is a lot like Amazon's Deals (see photo below) that most people only notice during the holiday shopping season. You can get tricked into going back into the Outlet for a price that was shown as "starting at". While there, you might start looking around again. It's a little like a brick and mortar store rearranging their aisles so you have to wander around noticing a lot of other stuff while looking for your regular items.
  2. There are some good deals to be had, but you should still do a regular search on the whole site. Also, it's smart to search for items - not only in the Outlet but also sitewide - by using the department filter to keep wandering-eyes-temptations low.
  3. I don't care what Amazon says, the Honey/browser extension has been great for auto-applying coupon codes on a lot of sites I visit. I almost always save at least 10 or 20 % on vape devices and supplies because of Honey. (And, yes, like every other app or site in the world, Honey probably does collect your data. Go in and select to opt-out of that or see what the other options are for controlling the use of your info.)

I use Amazon a lot and I am not deceived. They are in the business of selling stuff - and not necessarily helping you find the lowest price on their site. Have you ever tried to do a search and start filtering by price or ratings? Notice how some things with great prices and ratings don't show up? Yeah. I see what you're doing there, Amazon... 

Take a note that there is a page for Amazon Coupons also. You probably have seen these pop up next to an item on the product page or when checking out. It will be something like 5- or 10% off and instructs you to "clip the coupon" so that you see the discount before paying. Using this coupon page, you can clip before you send the item into your cart. You can sort and filter by coupons you have used before or by certain department sections. Notice that across the top of the Coupons page, there are links to other enticing "deals". Just don't go click-crazy. Bezos already has a private jet so let's not buy him more.

I really am amazed at how many people don't know about these links. I mentioned the Outlet to a neighbor before writing this post and she was totally blown away. This is one of my very few neighbors who shops online for everything the same way I do. I thought she was going to put me in her will when I told her about all the other links on Amazon. I am not sure why these things are kind of hidden - or at least, aren't easy to spot if you don't know about them. I can't remember but I think that I found out about them when I learned about the yearly "Lightning Deals" a few years back.


Once again, all these price-saving links are ways to get you to look at stuff you might not need to be tempted with. I use this the same way I use the Outlet: check only for items I was already intending to buy. You have been warned.

One last tip about the Outlet: make sure to price check things there against Walmart and your local shops. Amazon is very often not the cheapest. This is especially true for food items.

In the next post (Part 2) I will go over part of the Amazon Directory which is just one big, budget-killer rabbit hole. Oh, it's gonna get deep...


Once again, instead of music, I thought I would share this. It's old but interesting and I am still poking fun at Buzzfeed, though I do love their lists of products on Flipboard Mag - this one for example

I give them so much respect (or maybe not) for trying this stuff
because all of it is a big old NOPE for me

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

**QUICKIE POST** If You Miss Pixlr Desktop

Once upon a time, I loved using the Pixlr desktop for prettying up the photos I use for the reviews here on the blog. And then Desktop Pixlr went away. This was way back in 2017. But I had the old download and it still worked. About 3 months ago, Windows ate the downloaded exe.

still have this un-usable thing on my PC

I still use the Pixlr phone app (until that goes away, maybe).

right next to some other phone faves

I do not like anything about the online version of Pixlr. Not one thing. What I loved about the old Pixlr for desktop was that it had so many easy to use tools for my simple mind. I don't need to do anything fancy for my photos. I don't want to do extensive image manipulations or deal with too many graphics choices. All I need is to be able to easily rotate, crop, add text, and make some minor adjustments to contrast, sharpen, etc.

I looked for alternatives but they were all either too limited or too complicated. I ended up using MS Paint for a while but it is kind of limited - plus, I heard it might be going away and I don't at all like that silly MS Paint 3D. I can't even figure out how to use it.

Anyway, I tried a bunch of different apps from the Windows Store and then I tried finding Pixlr alternatives. I went here and here for that. I tried GIMP (too much going on with the toolbars there) and Adobe (more than I need), and on and on. Every now and then, I would run across something that was almost as good as Pixlr, then I would notice something the program couldn't do - or didn't do as well. Finally, I lucked up on this in the Windows Store (of all places!):

Goodbye Pixlr.  Hello PhotoScape X!

Cue the heavenly choir. This is not only as good as Pixlr, it's so much better. SO much better.

One of the things I loved so much about Pixlr was the layout of the tools and how easily I could do basic things: add text, change text, choose colors, sharpen images, etc.

PhotoScape kicks Pixlr's butt. It does everything that Pixlr did and more. My favorite thing is being able to compare the Before and After photos that I am working with. Even better - the free version of PhotoScape X is better than anything Pixlr ever had.

I like this app so much that I want to support it. I am going to buy the paid version at some point even though I don't need it for most of what I do. I'm just so freaking happy to have something this good.

So, if you, like me, have been looking for a good photo editor... you're welcome.


Because I have always thought Joe Elliot was so hot. Tall too. Mercy.

Monday, January 13, 2020

**SIFO** Tubi TV (and Project Free TV)

If you are looking for a free alternative to Paid YouTube (or the annoyingly ad-filled free version) or Hulu, or Netflix, etc., then you have to check out Tubi TV.

Tubi is free and, while there are ads, they don't interrupt viewings nearly as often as with other free sites. On top of that, I have to admit, the library is really extensive. I am a documentary freak so that's the rabbit-hole I went down (and I'm still surfing that wave), but there are some nice offerings in all categories. (I hope they don't mind if I share a peek):

There is so much about this that I like You can save items to a queue and that queue is very easy to add and delete from You can even delete things from your viewing history ~shrug~ if you want

I really couldn't find any negatives to this for a free app One of the things I loved about YouTube back in the day was the variety of choices, but now the choices are slimming down and the ads have become insanely intrusive I mainly use YouTube now for instructional videos and for background music Tubi which by the way also has some music offerings (in the way of albums even), is more for finding movies and documentaries that you might have missed somewhere else

Tubi has a category of "Only Free on Tubi" and another humorously labeled "Not On Netflix"! Love it
You can also get phone/tablet apps of Tubi for on the go The one thing that Netflix might have over Tubi at this point is that it's easier to download some titles from Netflix for offline viewing That's handy for when you are stuck on a long flight or some other commute I did see some random article a while back explaining how to jump through hoops downloading and installing some sketchy software in order to download from Tubi Nah, I'm good.

So, yeah. Tubi is worth a checkout

P.S.: After I wrote and scheduled this post, I found another free television resource here called Project Free TV. I have not used it yet. When I have checked it out, I will try to do a SIFO/Review of it.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

**Update of a REVIEW** Kikumasamune Sake Skin Lotion High Moisture (for the HAIR)

Originally post November 2018 here 

My brain got weird the other day and thought I just discovered how great this stuff is on natural hair. Turns out that I first got it for my hair way back in November of last year 2018. Wow. I went back on Amazon and updated the review to rant about using this on my hair. Anyway... I did start using this on my hair (again?) the other day and, wow. I can't even tell you how moisturizing and detangling it is. My hair is like a tangle of tumbleweed after I wash it. I have tried other products to help with the initial comb-out so that I can do my twists or whatever comes next. Keeping my hair damp with water while twisting is great but the water dries too quickly. The Kiku lotion keeps my hair moist much longer. I do use one of those special fine-mist sprayers (another product I love, love, love) to apply this.

 This not only softens my hair and makes combing it out easier, but when it dries, that funky product smell goes away and my hair is nice and soft. My twist-outs aren't as tight and crunchy. Win, win, and win.

So, yeah, go ahead and maybe see what this does for your hair and face...

The following is a copy/paste of the original review from November 2018

This is a copy/paste of the review from my Amazon Reviews blog.

Full Product Name & Link: 8 Kikumasamune Sake Skin Lotion High Moisture


PRO: Arrived quickly. Large size for the price.
CON: My first bottle came in one of those plasticized mailing envelopes. The bottle had gotten crushed or something so that the plastic over the pump was torn. The bottle leaked quite a bit as you can see from the pic on the right. Amazon did give me a refund so I was able to reorder.
NOTE: The bad packaging could be a fluke. I will see when the second bottle arrives.


Why I ordered: My hair is finicky and starts to dry out as soon as the weather begins to cool. Age probably has something to do with this too. I heard about this product via a Reddit forum for black hair - even though the product is made for the face.

 I will just cut right to the chase and let you know that I LOVE this stuff.

Remember, the bottle had leaked into the mailer so when I opened it, I got the liquid all over my fingers. I knew that the leaking was caused by the bottle getting banged around in the mail so, being me, I wiped the liquid right onto my face. Waste not, my loves.

Let me tell you wot. Yes, "wot". This stuff is truly a game changer.

Once I applied this, I didn't need to use any other lotion, cream, moisturizer - nothing. My skin was magically and instantly hydrated.

The texture of this - we will just call it "lotion" from here on out - is almost that of most thin serums. Like water with just a touch of something. The appearance is just like cloudy water.

I couldn't identify the smell at first until I remembered the full name of the product and, yep, the smell is very much like Sake - which I have had - but I cannot describe that smell to you. It's not pleasant or unpleasant, in my opinion. The scent is mild in this product and fades as soon as it starts drying.

This is good stuff. If I could, I would give it ten stars. I am awaiting the delivery of some "Speedy Oil" that was mentioned by someone, but I have no plans to get any of the other Kikumasamune type items other than this lotion. And I do plan to stay stocked up on this!

I had to update this because I forgot to list the ingredients as shown on the Amazon product page:

Water, glycerin, butylene glycol, rice ferment filtrate (sake), glutamate, arginine, leucine, Ceramide 3, Ceramide 6 II, placenta extract, arbutin, Glycyrrhizic acid, soy protein, maltitol, methyl gluceth-10, peg-60 hydrogenated castor oil, hydroxyethyl cellulose, alkyl styrene/acrylic acid copolymer, citric acid, sodium citrate, phenoxyethanol, methylparaben, fragrance


NOTE: Since I got my first bottle, I noticed that the price went up almost a dollar. Maybe the popularity will affect the price???

This is a copy/paste of the original review/posting

Friday, January 10, 2020

**GRIOT** Holidays and Such

** I purposely scheduled this one to post today. Today would have been my mother's birthday. **

I was in a semi-Scrooge mood all this holiday season. Holidays bring up a lot of memories of people no longer here. That makes me melancholy. The holidays are also for families. That's beautiful. But I get so bothered by people elevating holidays above all the other days of the year.

My mother loved Thanksgiving and Christmas because that's when she had all her kids and grandkids around her. Actually, Mom loved having her house full of family and friends all the time. For that reason, Thanksgiving was more of just a slightly larger get-together kind of thing at Mom's house. Mom and some of the old-enough-to-cook females would start prepping the day before. That was nice, all the ladies - Mom, my sister, some family friends - all sitting around chopping opinions, soaking the turkey, and maybe having a small glass of wine while we worked. Thanksgiving day is when the guys and kids would come around. My mother loved feeding people so we always made up plates beforehand for anyone who was missing out because of working or being sick or whatever.  The house would be hot and happy, smelling of turkey and dressing. You couldn't hear yourself think a quiet thought because... my family is loud. There were so many of us that at one time, we had over 40 people at Mom's house.

Thanksgiving was good, but Christmas...  that was Mama's jam. It wasn't about giving or getting gifts so much as it was about having her "babies"  back in the house - including we grown women and our six-foot-plus brothers. If my mom loved you, you were one of her kids.

So, I have to tell you about Mom and her possessiveness when it came to decorating the tree. There was tradition and rules when it came to decorating for Christmas and, well traditions for everything about the holiday:
  • The tree and other decorations would NEVER be put up until after Thanksgiving. Mama felt that people were too eager to get on with "gift-mas" before they had properly reflected on being thankful. 
  • The last tree Mama decorated had to last at least 15 years. I'm not kidding. By the time I was 30 years old, I'd only known Mama to have owned 3 trees. We never had a real tree. We always owned one of those artificial things - but it had to be green. Anything else was just "not right".We only replaced one of them after it was damaged during one of our military moves across the country.
  • The tree would be brought up from wherever it was stored on a day or two after Thanksgiving.
  • Only Mama was allowed to decorate the tree. The rest of us could hand her the ornaments and other stuff, but she was the only one who could actually hang anything on a branch.
  • Once the tree was decorated, the rest of us were allowed to put gifts underneath - but only with Mom's supervision.
  • If anyone touched a single thing on that tree, Mama knew. Just for a joke, after Mom had gone to bed, I once switched a couple of ornaments because my sister dared me. (And I don't mean that we were little kids. I was probably about 25, which would have made my sister Mike 35.) The next day, Mom was walking past the tree into the kitchen to make coffee. She got a foot into the kitchen, then turned around. She looked at that tree for about 4 seconds before she found what was out of place. I had moved the ornaments and didn't remember what was out of place!
  • As far as gift wrapping, Mama was world-class. She wrapped gifts so beautifully, it was almost a shame to open them. 
  • Funniest (and fun-nest) thing about Mama and gifts. She wanted to see the kids rip their open with glee, but she took almost half an hour to open each one of hers. First, she had to make sure to give the gifter a smile before she even started, then... She would peel each piece of tape off like the paper was priceless and irreplaceable. Then, she made sure not to crumple any of the ribbons or bows. Before she could relax enough to actually unbox a gift, she had to know that the designated person (and there really always was one) was folding the wrapping paper and putting the bows away for later. You could go to the store and buy more paper and bows and be back before Mama actually saw the gift. And when she did, she would be so happy. If one of the grandkids gave her a bag of candy or a single hairpin, she would be as happy as if the President had just draped a medal around her neck. She was sincerely happy too. I remember Mama taking to work some tacky little gift one of her grandkids got her and showing it off like she had a brand new mink...
  • The tree only stayed up for about 3 or 4 days after Christmas. New Year's was coming and mom had to get the ornaments wrapped and put away for the next December. She wanted her tree down and stored before the 31st when she would be up at night, making her black-eyed peas and making sure a boy was the first one across the threshold on the new year.
Some of you had the tradition of eating black-eyed peas for the new year. I have no idea where that countrified tradition came from and I don't even like black-eyed peas that much, but I still want some on New Year's. (And, I just found this explaining the tradition. I can't get down with the spiritual aspect, but now I know.)

I also have no idea why some people insist that a male be the first to cross the threshold of a house in the new year. (I just found this and this and learned that the tradition is just a Southern or "black" thing...) My mom used to make us take one of the grandboys out and send him back in. I am not kidding. If someone knocked on our door before that happened, Mama would make them wait to make sure it was a male. People coming to our house rarely knocked; they usually just called out a Hello and walked on in. If that happened, my mother would move like Flash and block the entry of a woman. The visitor would have to wait until we did the right thin. I guess this is why we usually did the walking a boy child into the house right after we had given all the New Year kisses. (Or so I thought.)

This year, I spent Christmas and New Year home alone staying warm and calm. I thought about Mama and all her old country ways. And I was hoping that people everywhere were making their own traditions.

Now that the holidays are out of the way, I just hope that people look forward to every day with the excitement and gratitude and intentions to be more kind and peaceful and motivated that they do for those other days. 

Love your lover like it's always Valentine's. Don't wait for November to think about being grateful. Be good to each other as if they might not be here tomorrow. Be as good to yourself as you want others to be. Love a lot, laugh at lot, pray a lot, be a peace-maker, be a helper, be a better friend, sibling, parent, neighbor.


This song seems appropriate. I don't believe in a lot of that emotional-only Holiness church stuff, but this song is beautiful

Wednesday, January 08, 2020

Looking Back on 2019 Reviews

I'm late doing this because I forgot to schedule the post Anyway...
Here are some products from 2019 (and a few from before) that have made a lasting impression on me

Of all the beauty stuff - hair, makeup, skincare - I have almost too many I want to mention, but let me try to hit the mains:

Curel HydraTherapy & Garnier SkinActive Moisture Mask  are both from this review. Love both products and still buy the Garnier on a regular basis (check recent posts).

With all the rage about Asian skincare products, I want to mention the KOSE SOFTYMO Speedy Cleansing Oil and Kikumasamune Sake Skin Lotion High Moisture. I like them both but have to use sparingly. The oil will break me out if I use too often and the lotion is great but has that yeast-like odor...

This toner from Whal Myung is awesome, but... I cannot afford to indulge. If you can budget this in, you might want to.

The Aquafor Body Spray and Pantene Foam from this beauty box will always be in my arsenal.

Lumify Eye Drops are pricey as gold but so worth it. Haven't found anything that comes close.

I'm sorry, but the more I think about the FabFitFun box, the more ridiculous it seems to spend $50 on a box of random items of possible regret. I will stick with my $5 mood-lifting Walmart and Target boxes. If I had $50 a month to toss away, it would be on vape devices.

I have not ordered any skin or fragrance oils from Piping Rock in a long time. They usually have good products at good prices but when you get a stinker, they don't care. Customer service is everything, people.

I use Pumpkin Seed Oil or another good oil almost every night as a cuticle treatment and I use it on my hair when it gets ridiculously dry. This or another oil mixed with emu oil is so good on cuticles.
Greek Remedy Oil is another multi-purpose oil. It smells so good and is soothing just before bedtime. I also love their soap and foot cream.

I haven't used this beauty brush since I don't know when. I'm not good about keeping up on batteries for things. It's one of the reasons I haven't gotten a milk frother - the affordable ones are all battery operated. Ugh!

I have tried a few different brands of Magnesium Oil but the basic product is so good for helping me to relax and sleep through the night. I've recommended this to friends and family members.

By the way, I still get the Walmart Beauty Box and have no regrets (most of the time). It's a five-buck-for-handling deal so you can't beat it.
For around the house

Cosco 2-Step Steel Folding Step Stool (Can't recommend this enough. I use mine at least 3 times a day.)

I have not been able to kill this little coffee pot. It's so perfect for me as a single. When it wears out, I plan to get another just like it.
I probably don't have to mention that the Instant Pot is a fave. I did upgrade to a larger size. Best thing for singles and families.
    Flour Sack Towels for the kitchen are essential. If you get a good brand, they are so worth having.
    The Eco-Friendly Reusable Towels are... they are good if you don't mind replacing them fairly often. Once they have been washed about 5 times, they start getting lint-y and kind of gross. I kept some old ones to wipe up floor messes but I don't want them near my dishes once they get too worn. Honestly, I prefer using paper towels at this point.

    This steam cleaner is the business. I don't use it as much because it's sometimes easier to just wet mop the floor, BUT... it's great for steaming to disinfect things. Also, I use it to clean the floors when they are super icky from a spill or on the carpet to kind of fluff it up. The only con to this is setting it to use and then dumping any leftover water.

    The seller replaced this food sealer once and I still use it probably 5 times a day. Seriously. As a single person not wanting to waste products sold in large quantities, this is a must.

    The stick blender is another love of mine. I use this almost every single day - or twice a day - to make smoothies, add stuff to my coffees, or to prep food for cooking. (I just realized that I never reviewed it here I'll have to do a quick post on it!)

    I am in LOVE with my Dutch oven. Of all my cast iron, that's probably my favorite.  Nah. I can't pick a favorite piece of cast iron!

    Okay. Another year has rolled around so let's talk about this juicer... So I am not doing all the juicing I thought I would. I hate cleaning a juicer. I hate dealing with the mess of juicing. Fruit is so freaking expensive in the winter. And blah blah blah. I need to sell this thing and get me a good milk frother for my coffee.

    And pantry & fridge

    I still do a large part of my grocery and household shopping online. Hy-Vee went and raised their delivery rates and that sucks, but, still...
    I'm still a huge fan of Monk Fruit Sweetener. I do my coffee black most of the time now, but use the sweetener in green smoothies to take off the edge...

    While I haven't gotten any more Golden Tea, I am using my regular Tumeric in my a lot of my food and coffees and teas. 

    The Hoosier Hill Farm All American Whole Milk Powder and the heavy Cream are both worth it. If you are single or need to store a lot of milk for kids, this is the best way, IMO.

    I cannot rave enough about having some Manuka honey around - any good quality raw honey.

    After having this fresh nutmeg, I don't think I can do with canned variety anymore. I like the fresh so much that I am looking for other spices to get. Just getting bougie!

    While I still love using Miracle Berries, I haven't been buying any. The prices are not great for using these on a regular basis and the quality from purchase to purchase can be iffy. Still, this is something I use every now and then.

    And the vape life...

    I am still on the vape. I love it. I don't think I have had a cigarette craving in a few months now (and I am close to 2 years quit! I am to the point now where I can go days using only zero-nic juice but when I get cranky...

    The Voopoo Caliber vape pen let me down, design-wise. It's still a great device but the center pin is a mess. I still use it but I have to use my Smok Beast tank with it to connect to that pin. Booooo, Voopoo!
    The Boulder Rock Vape Pen is still one of the best (and cheapest) devices. Love this thing, but I gave it to my sis in law.
    The Voopoo Alpha Zip is probably the most discreet pod device I've seen. For something this sleek and streamlined, it's a good vape. So Voopoo can do something right.
    Speaking of good vape devices, this SMOK Veneno is still a workhorse after all this time. Love it, love it, love it.

    I still use this regularly. The Uwell Caliburn gets a lot of hype and it is a good device, but it's only a Juul-killer because of the quality of the device - Juul still has the best juice that ever was. Not that it's easy to buy anymore...

    The writing and the random

    If you have not checked out Bibisco's software for writers... well, just do so.

    And I am still using my Livescribe pen, yes, I am.

    I no longer use CBD oil or Kratom anymore. I don't trust the variations in quality. I vape because I only use juices tested sources, so I'm sure not going to risk messing with other random things.

    There are more faves and regrets among the reviews of the past year, but I don't have the patience to sift through the old posts. This year, I hope to do as much actual blogging about life as I do posting reviews.


    And for the music today,  a little bit of Beth Hart
    This song should end up being a classic

    Tuesday, January 07, 2020

    **SIFO** Find Some Of Your Amazon Stats

    This is Stuff I Found Out a long while back and forgot to ever mention here. You might not want to know but probably should know how much you have spent on Amazon. Here is how you figure it out.

    You can
    buy this on Amazon! LOL
    • Sign into Amazon (you can only do this for a member account you have access to)
    • Go to Accounts & Lists (at the top of the page, right under the little "Hello" notice)
    • Click on Your Account
    • Under the list of Ordering & Shopping Preferences, the 6th choice is to Download Order Reports
    On this page, you can choose which type of report you want:
    • Items 
    • Orders and Shipments
    • Refunds
    • Returns
    As for the date parameters, there are some Quick Set Options, or you can choose a range starting back as far as the start of your membership. You can download it to view it in MS Excel or Google Drive (and I can't help with that because I have always used Excel). Also, Amazon will send you a link to download in case you forget. The email will also provide a link back to the Reports page - just so you don't have to remember the above steps. Bookmark that.

    He might not need more, but...

    If you are faint of heart, you can just scan the prices you paid for each item on the list. If you really do want to see the totals, you can use the Excel formulas to do the math. If you are like me and suck at Excel, the easiest way is to use the automatic formula buttons in the program:

    Like I said, you may or may not want to know, but it sure is helpful. I go in and look at my report whenever I need to see what I'm spending on household goods (or on things I shouldn't be!). I will also use the report to compare the prices of things on my shopping against Walmart, HyVee, etc. This is helpful for saving on household items you purchase on a regular basis. 

    (By the way, if my brain is behaving, I will really grind down looking for savings by using the Price Cruncher app for comparing things. Super helpful, especially at the store or when shopping online between 3 or 4 different stores. There are other similar apps but this one is free and works fine, IMO.)

    Back to the Amazon reports...

    Once you request a report, it will stay listed on your Reports page. I try to give my reports specific names (for example: "Checking Against Monthly Budget" or "Household Buys for ## to ##". This helps when you go back to look at a report you created a year ago.

    By the way, I am working on thinning out my already paper-thin budget. One way I'm doing that is being better organized about timing household purchases. Because my memory is crap, I have set up a written schedule for re-ordering things like tissue, soap, floor cleaner, etc. Just organizing my bathroom pantry helps with that. And checking these Amazon spending reports is very motivating. And every now and then I look at this and get mad enough to go without only but the barest basics...

    So that's the deal with that. I hope that this helps you.


    Instead of music, I thought I'd post a different kind of video. Interesting, no matter what you believe, and something to think about.

    Monday, January 06, 2020

    UPDATE **REVIEW** Cast Iron Skillet Cleaner with Good Grips

    Please check the last part of this post. I had to do a serious update - with more photos. I just discovered that some of my negative impressions about this product are totally unwarranted. My bad.

    I was talking recently about taking care of my cast iron pots and pans. This is the chainmail cleaning tool I decided to try out:

    There are several I could have chosen but this off-brand one had the silicone pad feature of some more expensive ones. It wasn't super-cheap though so I had planned to return it unless it really impressed me. It has a lifetime guarantee and, even though it hasn't been reviewed by a lot of users, the reviews are all 4- and 5-star ratings.

    It's from a company that seems to sell a hodge-podge of items. I was kind of surprised at how well made this scrubber is because most of the products on WYPQ's storefront look like cheap knock-offs. I've bought from companies like this before and always hope the product's okay because it often soon designated as "item no longer available". I was surprised that the company priced this scrubber at more than $10.00. I honestly don't think I will buy more stuff from that page, but this item is definitely worth $12.99.

    This is much thicker than I thought it was going to be (that's good, by the way), and the silicone is locked in with clasps on either end. You can remove the inner silicone pad to clean it, but I notice that it rinses well while inside the chainmail.

    Links are well made
    I first used this on a pan that had some meat scrapings coating the pan. You know how some of the meat searing gets stuck to the pan? Usually, I soak the skillet with some hot water inside before I do the salt and oil cleaning trick. This was the perfect time to test the Skillet Cleaner.

    I did use some hot water from the faucet, then I started working the chainmail around the pan. I will be hot-durned if every bit of the seared gunk wiped off like it was nothing. I didn't even need to use the flip-side silicone pad-scraper thingie. As usual, I then dried the pan on the stove and rubbed it with oil. There was no damage to the pan and the cleaning took very little time. When I use salt and oil for cleaning, it takes more elbow grease. (By the way, cast iron can take a lot of punishment. I have cut up meat that was in the skillet and my seasoning was just fine... The biggest no-no in my book is using harsh soaps.)

    dense but soft scrubbing pad

    Last night, I fixed stir-fried chicken and veggies with egg in the skillet. That is always a nasty mess. This particular skillet is getting more and more seasoned with use, but stuff like eggs cooked with veggies still sticks. I could not wait to try out the Skillet Cleaner. I think I was almost looking for a reason to send it back!

    The silicone did nothing for the eggy mess, but that chainmail... That stuff works. If I could have one wish, it would be that the chain was thinner. I might look into getting some thinner chainmail just to try it.

    This product photo here is of "The Ringer" and it looks thinner. Maybe because that's because it's not wrapped around silicone? I don't know but I think it would work better for some skillet sizes.

    The Ringer
    I can't really complain about the Skillet Cleaner. There are a few things I would like to see improved though. One thing is that the way the silicone is placed inside the chain, it bunches up and gaps a little when I am using the metal and looks as if it's oozing out of the cage. The other thing is that I want thinner chainmail for the smaller skillets. This one is great in my 9-inch but I have a 5-inch skillet for which this cleaner is too big to maneuver around the inside with.

    The clasp is too far to one side

    One extra positive to this particular cleaner is that there is not only silicone inside the chainmail, but there is a scrubber pad on one side. That has come in handy for cleaning less messy skillets.

    I would give this cleaner an 8.9 out of 10.


    I am such a dummy. In this review, I mentioned wanting something thinner for smaller pans. Well. A couple of days ago, I was rinsing the scrubber with some soap. For the first time, I took out the inner silicone padding. Guess what? The scrubber without the padding is perfect for cleaning smaller, tighter spots. To be honest, I actually like using the scrubber and chainmail without the insert. I'll save the thick silicone for when I need to clean a really large pan - like maybe the Dutch oven?

    I think I like it better
    without the insert...

    Scrubber works better with salt and oil
    when I don't need the chain

    Even stores easier without the insert

    I can always put the
    insert back in as needed

    Look how nice and clean the little pan turned out!

    Listen, this is one of those times when I will chalk a stupidity up to the sarc. I have no idea why I didn't think about this before. Anyway, now I have to go over and edit the review I did on Amazon. Pray for me, people. 

    One of my favorite MTV memories was watching this dude perform. WTH ever happened to Billy?