Scribd

Date Mon, April 2 2018

Scribd is a subscription service that allows you to read or listen to digital books. It reminds me of Overdrive with a few key differences. While Overdrive offers you digital content for free as long as your library has access to it, Scribd costs $8.99 per month. There are some similar titles between my library’s digital content and Scribd, but Scribd offers many more audiobooks specifically that I want to listen to as well as a few e-books that my library doesn’t have.

While you’re limited in the number of holds and checkouts you can have with Overdrive — as well as how long you can keep each book “checked out” — Scribd doesn’t have these limitations. I’ve got a number of things saved to my account and don’t have to worry about how long it takes me to listen or read. The site does say:

Occasionally, we have to limit the titles that you’re able to access within a specific content library in a 30-day period.

Scribd could be a nice complement to Overdrive or a viable alternative if you’ve either consumed everything available to you via Overdrive or don’t have access to it at all.

I never actually use the Overdrive app on my phone, and I only use it on my Kindle to get books. When it comes to audiobooks, I download the MP3s through Overdrive on my laptop and sync them to my iPod. It’s an extra step, sure, but convenient. I use the app directly on my phone to listen to books with Scribd, though.

Scribd seems to get content from a variety of sources, which is especially noticeable when it comes to audiobooks. The treatment of chapters varies. For example, one book labeled the preface as chapter one, so each chapter was off by a number. Another book differentiated between the introduction and the first chapter. One seemed to ignore the published chapters altogether and split the book into more than 100 2-3 minute clips. Odd.

With the first book that I actually listened to with Scribd, each chapter extended just a second or two after the countdown hit 0. I listen at books between 1.5x and 2.0x speed at all times, and this would skip right past the last few seconds of the book, so I got used to slowing it down right before the chapter ended to catch the last phrases (switching between speeds is pretty seamless).

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This doesn’t stop me from using or enjoying Scribd, however. For the most part, I enjoy all the options. Whether you’re on PC or mobile, you can adjust the color scheme (I like antiqued sepia tones), font face and size, text justification, and scrolling direction for e-books and the speed and sleep timer for audiobooks. You can also add notes, highlights and bookmarks to save your spot in a similar way on multiple devices.

The app for Scribd does offer a few more options. For example, I can adjust the jump timer on my phone; although I keep it at 30 seconds. There are more font faces to choose from on mobile, and you have a bit more control over font size and color scheme. You can also save a book to your device for offline reading with the app.

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If there was one thing that I wish the app did, it would be to show me how much time I have remaining in the current chapter on my lock screen and in the notifications menu. I can pause and skip back or forth, but it shows the static name of the book, which just cuts off, rather than more pertinent information.

So far, I’ve been focusing on audiobooks, partly because the books that I have saved to my Scribd account may not be available via other sources and I want to clear them off my to-read (or to-listen) list. Secondly, there’s no compatible Scribd app for my first gen Kindle Fire, and I don’t love reading on either my laptop or phone. I plan to read some things once I finish what I’m reading on my Kindle if I still have time with my free subscription. It’s actually taken me longer to listen to audiobooks than I anticipated, which is on me. But $9 to Scribd is probably more useful to me than some subscriptions.

You can sign up for Scribd and get the first two months free with this link. If you sign up, you can earn free months my recruiting other readers.

A Tale of Two Jeans

Date Fri, March 23 2018

This is your captain speaking with my latest shopping fiasco. Well, “fiasco” is a bit of a stretch. “Mishap” is perhaps a better word.

So, I recently purchased a pair of black jeans from Old Navy. I’ve been wearing their jeans for about a year and like that they make jeans for short women (and tall women and curvy women) that don’t break the bank. I’ve got a couple pair that I regularly wear but wanted to add a black pair to my closet, especially with a concert coming up.

I found a pair with a little distressing. I bought them. These are the jeans.

Mid-Rise Raw-Edge Rockstar Ankle Jeans for Women

I waited. They were delivered. I tried them on. That’s when I noticed that they were ankle jeans. I misread the description, assuming that “it was a raw-edge ankle” of regular jeans, not a raw-edge on ankle jeans. it’s a easy enough mistake to make, and I could have avoided this had I read a little closer. But I wasn’t alone. Many of the reviews mention that the length is an issue for them. I wasn’t super phased because I bought them in petite and figured I’d just move up a length and wear the jeans like that.

However, the reviews also alerted me to something else I had missed: the jeans I received were not the jeans in the photo. Sure, they’re both black skinny jeans with unfinished edges. But they have different distressing. Upon closer inspection, the photo on Old Navy’s site has noticeable distressing at the knees, but it also has multiple spots of distressing down both legs. The pair i received had even more noticeable distressing across the knees and only one or two distressing areas elsewhere. Many people prefer the style in the photo, which I assume is the older style.

The length was the real deal-breaker for me, so I looked up whether my local store had any longer jeans in the same style in stock (they did — but in regular and not short). I headed there to find them, only be lead to a table by an employee and to find no jeans in my size. She double-checked stock and wound up running around the entire store to find them right where we started but under another pile of jeans.

So i try them on and quickly realize, there are the jeans in the photo on the site. And while the leg fit and length is good, the distressing is pretty overwhelming, and there’s less give at the waist. I ultimately wound up exchanging for those jeans because they are good enough and will do well for a concert. But I would rather have had the proper length in the new style. If I had more time, I would have have them process an exchange online to get that style.

This isnt the first time I had a similar issue. I fell in love with a pair of jeggings from Rue21, but they changed the style. Unfortunately, they hadn’t updated the product photo, so I bought two pairs to replacing the pairs that had worn out only to find that they were too long, baggy in some spaces, and too tight in others. Awkward.

I think with something like this, it’s important that retailers update their photos, even though it takes time and money to do so. Customers want to know what they’re getting. While the differences in these jeans may not be a deal-breaker to me, they definitely were to others.

While I’m an avid online shopper most of the time, this is exactly the sort of thing that makes people wary of buying things, especially clothes, from the Internet. I’m just lucky it happens to me so infrequently!

Kwik Trip Adds New Rewards Program

Date Wed, February 28 2018

I wouldn’t normally write about something so local, but I find Kwik Trip’s new rewards program so nice that I couldn’t help it.

Kwik Trip’s old reward program didn’t really work for me. I don’t know if there were rewards offered for anything other than purchasing milk, but because no one ever reminded me to use my punch card, I forgot it. I never once earned a reward over all the years that I’ve shopped at Kwik Trip.

The new program provides you with a swipable card that automatically adds those new purchases. And you can earn rewards on more than milk (or ice cream).  For example, you can earn a freebie after every 15th visit or get every 11th pizza, coffee, Hershey candy, Starbucks drink or Bai beverage free.

I enjoy the pizza and occasionally Karuba coffee, so this works out pretty well.

kwik trip visit rewards

Receive a freebie after every 15th visit

You’ll need to register your card once you get it in store, and the site will prompt you to choose the freebie you earn after 15 visits. The options include

  • Fountain drinks
  • Karuba Gold Espresso
  • Fresh fruit
  • Cheeseburger or grilled sandwich
  • Glazer or donut

It also looks like you can save 3¢ off per gallon of gas with qualifying purchases, so that’s pretty awesome.

One of the new features is gas rewards based on your in-store purchases. Qualifying items will earn you money off your fuel bill.

There’s a section dedicated to coupons that you can send to your card. It looks like they’ll switch periodically. This morning,  I received an email about a coupon for free yogurt that appears to work as soon as I swipe my card without having to send the coupon to my card directly. So keeping emails on pays. However, I do find that they send a few too many emails and will have to look into how I can reduce them and only receive the messages that I want.

Still, it’s impressive how many ways they want to help shoppers save.

Check out Kwik Rewards here.

Amazon Retires “Add to Wishlist” in Favor of Amazon Assistant

Date Mon, February 26 2018

I was surprised to see an alert that Amazon’s “Add to Wishlist” feature had been disabled as this was the method I relied on to add things to my Universal Wishlist. My surprise came because I heard nothing about Amazon retiring this function, either as a shopper or a consumer.

Adding to wishlist with Amazon Assistant

Adding to wishlist with Amazon Assistant

Amazon isn’t leaving us empty-handed, however. The alert prompted me to install Amazon’s Assistant extension for Google Chrome to replace the bookmarklet. So I did.

I may be a little slow on the uptake with that. It looks like Amazon assistant has been available for browsers and mobile devices for some time. I’m just not a huge plugin user.

Instead of hitting the bookmarklet, I can press the Amazon Assistant button. Amazon will try to generate a product preview from third-party stores; although it doesn’t know all of them (it seems like Amazon recognized more stores with the bookmarklet). Even if you’re shopping from a store that Amazon doesn’t recognize, you can proceed, and it will generate a product image that you can select to add to any of your wishlists. It’s handy enough.

This is one of several features of Amazon assistant. If you don’t search Amazon directly from the address bar like I do, Assistant adds a search bar. There are also links to your wishlists, which are handy enough that I may use them!

I’ve yet to receive an alert, so we’ll see how inundating those become. However, I can easily disable them.

Amazon Assistant seems a little bulkier than the wishlist bookmarklet, but I’ll continue to use it because I so frequently rely on Amazon’s Universal Wishlist.

Coup Game

Date Fri, February 16 2018

Coup came highly recommended on Reddit. I suspect those folks knew that it had been a Kickstarter game, but it snuck up on me quickly. It was on my wishlist for a while once I realized it existed. To be honest, I was a bit burned out on board/game games. At least, I thought I was. It might actually have been that I was burned out on party games. So I didn’t buy new ones for a while.

Don’t get me wrong. Coup will work well at many parties as long as your friends and family don’t mind a little strategy thrown in with your luck. The element of strategy will make this game appeal to people who don’t like luck-based social games quite so much, but it’s still easy to learn.

Coup is a bluffing game. Think Werewolf or something similar. I’ve played a few, but most require more people than I can guarantee. I was happy to see that Coup only needs two and first played this with my sister.

The deal starts with two coins and two cards to each person. You can get payment from the bank or steal from another character depending on the characters in your hand, which other players do not see. You must spend money to perform certain actions. The rules do state that your “money” must be visible to all players at all times.

The deck is made up of 15 cards, five of each character type. Each character has special actions (getting extra money from the bank, stealing, assassinating, blocking any of those moves), and most characters actions are canceled out by another character or two. This might sound complicated, but each player gets a cheat sheet that nicely lays out the character abilities (proactive and reactive) as well as how a coup works. For example, a player with an assassin can choose to take out another player, but if the victim has Contessa, they can block the assassin.

Things get interesting because you can bluff. You can say you’re using an action (or a reaction to another play) because you have a card. if someone challenges you on it, and you’ve been bluffing, you lose one of your cards to play by turning it up. if however, you weren’t bluffing, you can show that you have the card. Then, you can replace it with a new card in the deck, so no one

When both cards are lost, you are out of the game. Games are over in just a few turns with two people. Adding more people would equate to longer play, and I think Coup will scale nicely.

It would increase difficulty, however, because you’re trying to recall the two cards that each of your opponents has. Remember that you don’t know for sure which cards they have, only what they’ve been bluffing. And if anyone has unsuccessfully challenged another player, that player will have traded in a card. This could potentially happen twice, resulting in a player with new cards from what he or she was dealt.

All the while, you’re trying to determine what your best moves are and to prevent other players from getting enough money to stage a coup. Any character with enough coins (7, and players must stage a coup if they have 10), can stage a coup, which is always a successful attempt at taking out another player.

Thus, players lose cards to assassinations, to challenges, or to coups depending on luck of the draw (yours and your opponents’) and your ability to bluff. My sister and I sat down to play the game for the first time and quickly played several more. It’s a bit like rock-paper-scissors. Sometimes you don’t win, but you just can’t stand it, so you go again because it’s quick and easy enough to do so.

I’m pretty excited to play Coup with a larger group (you can play up to 6 people) and see how others like it.

The great news? Coup costs lesss than $13 for Prime members (still less than $15 for everyone ele)! It’s pretty much a steal!

DermaE Hydrating Facial Wipes and Single Use Mask Variety Pack

Date Tue, February 13 2018

For last month’s ambassador box from DermaE, the company kept with their intent to help us keep moisturized as winter toils on.  And boy, is it toiling. Anyone else sick of this season? Me, too!

But on with this review.

DermaE is looking out for me. They sent me their Hydrating Facial Wipes. Pretty kind of them if I do say so myself.

These wipes remove makeup and dirt while keeping your skin hydrated. I like that they’re gentle, and I enjoy the smell. It reminds me a bit of cucumber. It’s just very fresh. Some people might find the smell too strong. If you’re sensitive to smells I would keep away.

The wipes remove makeup well, except for my mascara. But that’s to be expected. I wear tubing mascara, which comes off in the shower.

Hydrating wipes shouldn’t leave your skin feeling tight or dry, and I am happy to report that this isn’t the case. My skin actually does feel moist after using them and not uncomfortably so.

I’ll keep using the wipes during this cold, dry spell. I just wish they were a little cheaper. But you get a vegan product, and I am sure many wipes are not.

Single Use Mask Variety Pack

Single Use Mask Variety Pack

This box also contains the Single Use Mask Variety Pack, a 3-pack of face masks to try. The masks included in this set are the:

Each pack is pretty big. You can get 2-3 applications out of it if you seal the foil up and don’t let it dry out.

You may remember the purifying mask that I tried a bit ago. It’s charcoal-based and designed to exfoliate. It dried quickly, tingling as it did.

Like the purifying mask, the Firming Clay Mask is tingly and dries quickly. The package describes this as magnetic, claiming that it helps remove impurities and firm skin. To be honest, loose skin isn’t something I was really concerned with. I just wanted to try it out.

Both of the DermaE masks I’ve tried thus far have seemed a little harsh on my skin. It’s red when I rinse it off, and while it doesn’t last, I might like something a little more gentle. It could be that they both contain products that exfoliate. This ingredient in the firming mask is Adzuki Beans.

I wouldn’t describe the smell of the Firming Clay Mask as gentle, either. The spearmint is pretty overwhelming, especially to me who isn’t a fan of mint. If I had to choose between the firming or purifying masks, I would definitely choose the purifying because it isn’t minty.

The last mask is Vitamin C Brightening Clay Mask that DermaE has designed to brighten skin and reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles. There are no exfoliants in this mask, but you will find a couple antioxidants.

Finally, I tried the Vitamin C mask. It was a bold yellow in the package, and I could definitely smell the citrus, not that I minded. This one contained no exfoliants and seemed to be the least harsh on my skin. It might have been a bit red when I first took it off after it dried, but it didn’t last. I also prefer that it didn’t tingle or anything. That was just a bit too intense for me.

As expected, my skin felt super soft after using the Vitamin C mask.

If you’re interested in trying any of these masks, the 3-pack is a great set that lets you dabble without purchasing the full product. If you’re like me and don’t love every mask you try, then you’re not committed.

DermaE also sells multipacks of the Firming and Vitamin C masks by themselves, so you can get a few more treatments if you prefer one mask over the others. The Purifying Charcoal Mask appears to be the only one that is sold on its own; although, that could always change.

When Diamonds Aren’t A Girl’s Best Friend: Alternative Valentine’s Gemstone

Date Mon, January 29 2018

It’s somewhat ironic that I’ve got an opportunity to work with Jewel on Fire, a retailer that focuses on all sorts of affordable-yet-gorgeous jewelry because I just listened to a podcast about how the value of diamonds is inflated. This isn’t a new fact to me, nor does it really change my mind about diamonds.  You see, I don’t like them.

That’s right. Diamonds are not my best friend. White diamonds, at least. I’ll take blue or black or pink if I must. But I’d much rather a deep sapphire, a mystic topaz or even an opal. I guess that makes me a cheap date! LOL

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, one of the big jewelry-buying holidays, you’ll see lots of ads for diamond jewelry. Some people will be glad to receive those gifts. I am just not one of them.

If you’re shopping for someone like me who doesn’t love white diamonds or perhaps, I’ve got a few suggestions for other stones. The individual pieces in this post all come from Jewel on Fire, and some feature white diamond accents. But the main gems are either colored or not diamonds for a unique appearance.

Garnet

The deep red of garnet is perfect for a Valentine’s theme, and I think it goes well with white or black accent gems, like in the garnet and white diamond accent sterling ring.

Ruby

Keeping with the red theme, we have ruby. You can purchase both natural and created rubies. Jewel on Fire offers the simple but elegant created ruby sterling silver gemstone ring. I also like the more traditional genuine ruby and white diamond accent sterling silver ring, available in both white and yellow metal.

Citrine

Citrine might be an unusual choice for Valentine’s Day, but I think it stands out. The specific shade is sure to get you comments. Jewel on Fire has two citrine pieces that I really like. The genuine citrine and white diamond accent sterling silver pendant is a gorgeous statement necklace that would look amazing on a night out. For something that might work better for daily use, there’s another citrine pendant with diamond accents.

Aquamarine

The subtle blue of aquamarine makes you take a second look, which is why I am including a few aquamarine options on this list. The first is a pendant that just seems vintage-inspired to me, a heart-shaped pendant with aquamarine and white diamonds.

Blue Topaz

Another blue option is topaz. If you’re familiar with the Irish claddagh, then you know it represents love and friendship. How perfect for the upcoming holiday?!  The center stone in this sterling silver Claddagh ring is blue topaz!

Sapphire

Jewel on Fire has a ring design that I just love, and it comes with multiple gems. One that I love is the deep sapphire. Check out the 1-carat sapphire ring, which features hearts and diamonds on either side.

Mystic Topaz

Can’t decide on just one color? You don’t have to with the universe of colors that you can see in mystic topaz. The sterling silver heart ring is similar to the one above but has a more detailed band.

Tanzanite

Up next we have tanzanite, a purple gem. I love the asymmetrical placement of the single gem in this tanzanite heart pendant.

Crystal

Crystals are available in any number of colors. This jar of hearts pendant comes in several, including a lovely deep blue. You can also buy a unique orange crystal pendant that’s platinum-plated.

Chrome Diopside

I’d never heard of this gem before, but the bold green is a winner in my book. The overlapping heart ring is pretty cute.

Now, I don’t hate diamonds. In fact, Jewel on Fire has a ton of black, blue and even red diamond options that I adore. Did you even know that red diamonds exist? I didn’t! There are too many to name them all, but you should check out the black and white diamond open heart pendant, the totally unique Letters of Love black diamond bracelet, the black and white infinity heart ring, this red and white heart necklace, a ring with red and white diamonds, these black diamond heart earrings, this blue and white diamond heart necklace. or this black diamond heart ring.

f you can’t make up your mind, this multi-colored diamond heart pendant might just be the solution.

Okay, so this post isn’t just about all the awesome jewelry options that you might overlook if you focus on jewelry. It’s also to tell you that you can save money by shopping at Jewel on Fire with the following coupon for 25% off your purchase! That’s an amazing deal considering how affordable the prices are already!

Click the link in the widget to begin shopping!

I received compensation for this post. All opinions are my own.

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