Year: 2013

99 questions you should ask yourself: part one

Happy hump day everyone! Today I have something that I stole from my friend Katrin over at Land of Candy Canes. This is a series of “99 questions you should ask yourself”, but broken down into smaller chunks to be more manageable. Please go check out her answers too!

1. What are you addicted to?

Books, coffee, animals, chocolate, and the internet.

2. What’s the first thing you would do if you were invisible?

Eavesdrop on people! I would want to know what they were saying and doing when they thought no one was watching. I know, that’s horrible–but I bet you’d find out some really interesting things about the people you thought you knew so well!

3. Pictures or plants in your office?

Pictures, because all of the plants are in the kitchen where they have a nice south-facing window to let in lots of sunlight!!

4. If you could magically change a part of your body, which one would it be?

My legs. They’re not awful but they aren’t the nicest and all the bruises and cuts from my clumsiness have not helped matters.

5. Do you know people who would want to have sex with you immediately?

Um, that’s kind of personal, but I would sure hope my husband!

6. How often do you Google yourself?

I’ve done it a few times, just to see what comes up. Once I found out that I had been quoted in a Wikipedia entry for a movie that I had reviewed while freelancing for a small e-news site. (It’s gone now because I quit that job, but apparently it’s cached at an e-tail store selling the DVD!) Also, interestingly enough, the first entry that pops up when I Google myself is a story about a serial killer who shared my name.

7. Have you ever been depressive?

I suppose we all get depressed from time to time…I try really hard to be positive though.

8. What is the most embarrassing thing you can find on the internet about you?

Maybe some old pictures where I’m not wearing makeup. But I’ve never been big on posting things to the internet (until I started blogging) so I guess my answer to this is fairly unexciting.

9. Do you think that time heals all wounds?

No. Maybe you learn to cope, or things happen that make life a little better, but some wounds never really heal. However, I think that you can let them cripple you permanently or you can learn from them and become a stronger person in the future.

10. Which words of education of your parents would you never say to your kids? 

I can’t think of any from my parents. They did a pretty good job, despite the fact that I’m sure I was a difficult child. I’m a difficult adult, for sure, so it had to start somewhere! This is probably less actual words of education and more of an attitude or an example overall, but I see a lot of other parents who malign people who are different in some way–maybe they’re poor, or mentally handicapped, or come from a different culture–and they really educate their children to pick on anyone who is different or less privileged. And I hate that. If I had kids I would teach them to always be kind, no matter what, because you just don’t know the other person’s story and why they are they way they are!

Stay tuned for the rest of the questions, I’ll post them over the coming weeks :)

Ten on Tuesday: October 2013’s music picks

1. I love dubstep and I love classical music, so I’m thrilled that this girl put the two together.
2. Can’t stop dancing to this.
3. These guys make me think of a heavy metal version of the Beatles, which makes sense given they’re named after a George Harrison song.
4. This should totally be the theme music to an epic adventure like Game of Thrones. E.S. Posthumus needs to write a movie soundtrack in the future, for sure.
5. I don’t normally listen to stuff that’s currently hot on the radio, but this is one good exception.
6. Another danceable tune.
7. I don’t even remember how I found this (probably Spotify), but now I can’t stop listening to it.
8. I love Eddie’s voice, and I really love the guitar in this song.
9. I guess Tom is a brand-new artist. I haven’t listened to his full album but I really like this track.
10. This is such a beautiful song, and very soothing to me.

Book review: ‘Wolfsangel’ by Liza Perrat

I received one or more of the products mentioned below for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Wolfsangel, by Liza Perrat (Kindle edition, 395 pages). Five out of five stars. Seven decades after German troops seize the village of Lucie-sur-Vionne, Celeste Roussel still cannot get over her guilt for the events of the past. As a young woman living in Nazi-occupied France, Celeste is torn between her blossoming love for a young German officer stationed in her town and her patriotic duty to fight with the French Resistance. As tensions in the town mount, Celeste’s choices lead her deeper into a dangerous game of deception with life or death consequences.

When I read the first book in the series, Spirit of Lost Angels (review here), I was immediately hooked by Perrat’s writing. It was obvious that she put a lot of time into researching the historical period and culture for her book, yet the writing never dragged or felt dry. Wolfsangel is no different, with the same authentic historical setting, fast pace, and plenty of twists and turns. However, I added a star here because if anything, this book is even better than the first!

I love that Perrat’s characters feel so real, and I especially love her heroines; they feel very human. They’re not perfect, they make mistakes, and you don’t always know if things will go well for them. There were some nice twists and turns in Wolfsangel that really kept me guessing as to how the book would end. I felt like the relationships between Celeste and her family, friends, and Martin were well-drawn and very realistic.

An interesting note about Wolfsangel: some of the events in the book are based on actual historical events that took place during World War II, though I won’t say exactly which ones and ruin the ending. I really enjoyed the way Perrat worked these events into her story and I enjoyed learning a little more about these events from the notes in the back of the book.

If you like historical fiction, particularly stories set during World War II, then I highly recommend this book! I took this on my Kindle during my vacation this month and ended up sitting up late one night to finish reading it. I just couldn’t put it down!

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

UGLee Ergonomic Pen review + GIVEAWAY

I received one or more of the products mentioned below for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

I love writing, versus typing. It’s true that I’m glued to my keyboard on a daily basis–but where I have the option, I love sitting down with a pen and paper to write, not type. Keeping a journal, snail mail, making recipe cards, doodling down story ideas in a notebook–it’s all better when you’re writing with ink and paper! However, if you like to write a lot (as I do), then you know that writing isn’t always the most comfortable, and holding a pen for hours on end can start to strain your fingers, which doesn’t sound like a big deal until you try taking notes all day or have a stack of dozens of cards to fill out!

Enter the UGLee ergonomic pen. We’ve all heard the phrase “necessity is the mother of invention”, and that’s certainly true for Dr. James Lee, who invented the Ultimate Grip pen (hence the name UGLee) after trying and failing to find a truly comfortable writing pen. The result of his research and testing is the UGLee pen, which is designed to allow for a more comfortable grip to reduce hand strain and cramping. A lighter weight, contoured super-soft grip and smooth ink system mean all make for a pen that’s lighter to hold and grip and doesn’t require a heavy press in order to write. Compared to writing with regular ink pens, it barely feels like you’re holding a pen at all! And because the pens use refillable ink cartridges, there’s less waste than would be produced by throwing away plastic casings every time you use up an ink pen.

And now for the best part…UGLee Pen is giving away a pen pack to one lucky winner! To enter the giveaway, use the Rafflecopter widget below, and please remember:

  • You must be a resident of the United States. 
  • You must “like” UGLee Pen on Facebook and/or follow them on Twitter. 
  • You must follow the question prompt in the widget.

The giveaway will be open through October 27, 2013, and the winner will be notified on October 28. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Product review: Immortal Herbs Total Nutrition

I received one or more of the products mentioned below for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Because I don’t always have the time or the energy to fix a proper meal for myself, I’m a big fan of smoothie powders that work as a total meal replacement. Total Nutrition from Immortal Herbs ($69.95/9.5 ounces or 30 day supply; available through promises to deliver a full day’s worth of nutrition in one small scoop, plus it’s low in calories and fat and doesn’t contain cheap filler ingredients or tons of sugar like smoothies from traditional shops. Total Nutrition is 100% natural, organic, raw, GMO-free, gluten-free, and vegan. You can read more about the ingredients and the philosophy behind Total Nutrition on the product page at the company website (here).

The ingredients in this product are simple but all pack a huge dose of nutrition: barley grass, wheat grass, spirulina, spinach, alfalfa leaf, kelp, dulse leaf, barley grass juice, orange peel, beet root, dandelion leaf, lemon peel, gingko leaf, wheat grass juice, maca root, cacao, ashwagandha, sacha inchi, manuka honey, bee pollen, reishi mushroom, blueberry, black currant, wild bilberry, wild lingonberry, aronia, pomegranate, concord grape, red raspberry, sour cherry, wild elderberry, wild cranberry, black raspberry, goji berries, and schizandra berries. No fillers, no sugar or added fluff!

Like any smoothie mix, you just combine a scoop of powder in the blender with fruit juice, almond milk, frozen fruit, or whatever else you fancy. The powder is green but it has a very neutral taste, so you can pretty much add whatever fruit you want to your smoothie without worrying about a strong, grassy taste.

I liked that this powder made for a smoothie that was filling without leaving me overfull or feeling like I’d had a sugary dessert drink. I made this up in the afternoon because I’d had a bad headache all day and didn’t have the energy or appetite for a full dinner; I felt like this helped blunt the headache and also gave me a small energy boost to get through the rest of the day.

The one downside that people like to point out about premium smoothie powders is that they’re expensive. However, when you look at the bulk price for a one-month supply of a smoothie powder–whether it be this product, a protein supplement, or any other smoothie powder–I think you have to do the math per serving and compare it to what you’d pay at a smoothie shop in order to get a good picture of how this would fit into your monthly food budget. For this package, the cost per smoothie works out to about $2.30. For comparison purposes, I just stopped into Jamba Juice this week to grab a smoothie as a treat for my husband, and a medium antioxidant and protein-boosted smoothie costs almost six bucks. And because it’s from the chain smoothie shop, I know it has plenty of sugar and nowhere near the nutritional levels of a homemade smoothie. (Honestly, looking at the nutritional info on the JJ website makes me cringe. And I love their smoothies! But seriously, some of them pack almost 70 grams of sugar–that’s nearly three days’ worth!)

So yes, for the casual smoothie drinker, this might seem really pricey. But if you stop at the smoothie shop three times a week for one of those $6 smoothies–as a meal while running errands, driving home from the gym, or just because you’re too tired to cook dinner–you’re already spending about the same amount as you would to buy the powder and make your smoothies at home. And again, depending on where you go for your smoothies, you’re essentially drinking a fruit-flavored candy bar in a cup, not a true “meal replacement”.

I think this would be an excellent meal replacement or dietary supplement for anyone who has strict nutritional/dietary needs and struggles to find the time to prepare proper meals to follow suit–maybe because of a busy lifestyle, frequent traveling, or a heavy athletic routine. I also think that for someone who’s recently recovered from a major illness and needs to pack a maximum amount of nutrition into their diet, it would be hard to find a better supplement than this one; it’s not just incredibly healthy, it’s tasty and easy to digest, so if you don’t have much of an appetite you can still get plenty of the good stuff without forcing yourself to eat a big meal. You could even divide the smoothie into two smaller servings and just put the second in the fridge for later in the day.

It’s a lot healthier (and depending on your habits, possibly cheaper) than constantly hitting the smoothie shop for your fix, and if you’re constantly on the go in areas where it’s hard to find healthy, natural, vegan meals or on-the-go substitutes, it’s pretty awesome. Plus, if you’re hardcore into health food and healthy living, you know that there are lots of pricey nutritional supplements in capsule or powder form that promise to boost your energy or overall health, but it’s hard to find good ones without unnecessary ingredients. Total Nutrition gives you just the ingredients you need, and it’s in a form that’s easy to digest so you get the full nutritional benefit of the product (unlike some capsules or tablets, which can be hard for the body to properly digest, leaving you with only a partial measure of the promised benefits).

Thank you to Immortal Herbs for being kind enough to send me this product for review! It made for a delicious and nutritious smoothie, and it’s one of the best powders I’ve tried yet.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Random Thursday: A random fact that blew my mind

There are lots of mind-blowing facts out there, but I’m always amazed when I read the numbers on the amount of undiscovered species of plants and animals in the world. I’ve read studies that estimate just a small fraction of species have been discovered and cataloged, with millions and millions of species yet to be discovered and no real grasp of the total number still out there. And what’s worse, human destruction of natural habitats means that thousands (if not millions) of species of plants, animals, insects and more could die off before we have a chance to make that discovery. It’s mind-blowing and frankly pretty sad.

Review: (greeting card service)

I received one or more of the products mentioned below for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

How’s this for pulling a two-for-one on my to-do list: not only did I get to give this service a test spin this week, I got a much-needed birthday card in the mail as well! How? Read on and find out! lets you create and mail a greeting card from the comfort of your home, and it quite literally takes just minutes to do so. I could see this being an incredibly useful tool for anyone who has difficulty getting out of the house, is too pressed for time to head to the store and the post office–or, like me, is simply very good at forgetting to buy cards in a timely fashion! Unlike your typical card-creation software or service that lets you print cards at home, Send Out Cards handles the physical printing and shipping for you, so you don’t have to worry about a lack of ink or stamps and you don’t have to drive to the post office. Genius, right?
I needed to put together a birthday card for my grandpa and knew I wasn’t going to make it to the store to buy one any time soon, so I decided this would be a perfect chance to test out the process of creating and mailing a card online! I picked out this cute one with a cat (what else?) and a blank inside, but there are lots to choose from that have a pre-printed message inside as well. You can also create postcards or giant cards, if that’s more to your taste.

So here’s how it works: go to the website and browse through their card collections, which include everything you’d expect to find in the greeting card aisle of the drugstore (birthdays, holidays, friendship, sympathy, and more) and even Spanish and French cards. There are thousands of cards here to choose from! Once you’ve picked out a card and set the size, you can “write” your message on the inside. There are some cool script-y fonts to choose from that make it look less like a computer-printed message and more like very tidy handwriting. 

And that’s basically it! When you’re done with your card, you’ll just put in the return and mailing addresses and pay at the checkout! Your card is created and mailed and you never have to leave the keyboard.
The pricing is competitive, too. When you create a customer account, you can choose from various bundles of points, which are used to buy your cards. Your average greeting card costs two points and depending on the bundle you purchase, each point costs 49-99 cents, so do the math: your card costs less than two dollars. That’s on par (if not a little cheaper) than the card aisle at the drugstore. Mailing costs the standard postal stamp rate for U.S. addresses (right now, that’s 46 cents). Overall, it’s a pretty good deal, and then you have to consider that your time is worth something too, and you’re not spending a lot of time and energy running around town to get a card in the mail before the pickup time!
Overall this is a pretty cool service and I’m thrilled I got a chance to test it out. It’s definitely a service I could see using in the future when I’m in a pinch and don’t want to leave the house to purchase and mail a card! 

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Ten on Tuesday: I can’t even…

1. I just got back from my mini weekend road trip, and I can’t even pick my brain for anything coherent today. So here are a bunch of random “I can’t even” bullet points instead!

2. Have you guys seen those ads for Poo-Pourri? I can’t even…apparently this is a real product? How does that girl do the ads without turning beet red from suppressed laughter? Who actually came up with this?

3. And then there’s Ylvis. Spoiler alert: these guys make music videos that pretty much spoof everything we love to hate about music videos: the fake “deep” lyrics, the slow-mo shots, dance parties in odd places, scripted stories against the dramatic backdrop of the music. It’s comedy. But if you were foreign to earth and stumbled on this video, you would surely get back in your spaceship and exit ASAP. Who would want to risk catching whatever it is we’ve apparently got?

4. This is so me I can’t even…though to be fair, half the time I’m leaping over a cat and not from some sudden inner burst of delight.

5. I can’t even. Oh my gosh. Dying.

Lolcats: O_o
(via Pinterest via
6. I can’t even drink an opaque liquid now. Oh my gahd Tumblr WHY.
(via Pinterest via
7. Speaking of which…do you guys remember that news story about the family who all fell mysteriously ill, and then they found the giant ball of mold in the bottom of their orange juice carton? I know I just put you off orange juice forever. Me too.

8. I can’t even explain why, but I was doubled over laughing for five minutes straight when I saw this picture. Someone please tell me I’m not the only one.

St. Elmos
(via Pinterest)
9. For some reason I recently remembered how badly I wanted to dye my hair pink or burgundy when I was younger. Now I can’t even explain why.

10. I can’t even wrap my mind around this. M.C. Escher. Wow. The amount of talent here is mind-blowing!

MC Escher
(via Pinterest)