Friday, October 30, 2015

Looking into 21st Century Cures Act Nays Part 1

Seventy-seven U.S. Congress representatives cast votes against the 21st Century Cures Act when it came before the House of Representatives in July. Of course, that is not enough against to kill the bill and it is currently sitting with the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. No action has been taken on this bill since July.
   But, those 77 who voted against it - why? I know a lot of people are saying that this will revert the medical industry back to the dark ages and the government will not be able to protect people as well if it passes. I am having a hard time buying that. The biggest aspect of this bill for me is giving cures and treatments swifter pathways to people who need them. How can that be so wrong? Of course, bills need tweaking and amendments need to be added, but the gist of this bill is a good thing.
   So, how can they vote against it? I've been peeking in to the representatives who voted against and I would like to present what I have found. I am only looking at the top five contributors and industries in their last campaigns, trying to see if they have gotten any financial help from the healthcare or pharmaceutical sectors. Part 1 will consist of representatives whose last names begin with A and B. This series will be broken down alphabetically so as not to get too long.
1) Justin Amash (R - Michigan)
   Top contributor:
   Amway (which sells health care products) - $6,400
2) Brian Babin (R - Texas)
   Top contributing industry:
   Health Professionals - $47,690
3) Diane Black (R - Tennessee)
   Top contributor:
   Alston & Bird (law firm that advocates for health care providers) - $7,000
   Top contributing industries:
   Health Professionals: $49,250

   Pharmaceuticals: $27,000
   Health Services: $15,000
4) Charles W. Boustany, Jr. (R - Louisiana)
   Top contributors:
   Acadian Companies (company that specializes in ambulance and air med services) - $13,550
   Adams & Reese (law firm that specializes in pharmaceutical defense) - $12,350
   Top contributing industries:
   Health Professionals - $91,650
5) Dave Brat (R - Virginia)
   Nothing extraordinary found in the narrow margin.
6) James Bridenstine (R - Oklahoma)
   Top contributor:
   Robert H. Zoellner (optometrist) - $5,400
   Top contributing industry:
   Health Professionals - $32,050
7) Mo Brooks (R - Alabama)
   Top contributor:
   Alabama Pain Center - $5,400
8) Kenneth R. Buck (R - Colorado)
   Nothing extraordinary found in the narrow margin.
9) Bradley Byrne (R - Alabama)
   Top contributor:

   HealthSouth Corps - $5,400

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Review: Night ProVision High Powered Rear Bike Light

Having a daughter who is addicted to her bicycle, safety equipment is usually on my mind - even though she hardly ever uses any. I'm not scared of little bumps, bruises or scrapes. I am scared, however, of traffic. Bee, like most 8-year-old children, is not always attentive of her
surroundings and if I can make her stand out to drivers, I do it.
   Chris Evan Industries sent me their Night ProVision High Powered Rear Bike Light. Since a rear bike light is something that Bee has been missing on her bicycle, I was all for it.
   Upon arrival, it was very small and I could practically wear it on my finger as an enlarged piece of children's costume jewelry. However, do not let its size mislead you. This thing is bright! And the best part? No batteries required! That's right. You can charge this little sucker with a USB cable.
   Bee was somewhat disappointed with the black color as we attached it to the back, right under her seat - her bicycle being purple and pink and all. However, I pointed out that it would fit into the Monster High theme she has going in her life right now. She quickly changed her tune from disappointment to joy.
   Attaching it under the seat was a little difficult as my hands are big, but the process itself is simple enough and if you have smaller hands, it should be a breeze. It also did a wonderful job at staying in place as Bee rode her bike up and down the street and sidewalks. I have not had to charge the light yet, so I cannot comment as to how long it lasts, but it only takes 2.5 hours to obtain a full charge.
   This is a good product for any bicycle rider (or mother of one) who wants to make sure they are seen by drivers.
Full disclosure: I was sent this product free of charge and received compensation in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Review: How to Monetize a Small Blog

Making money off a small blog is never easy. That is something that I have come to realize. I knew I needed a guide in my quest to earn a few more bucks. But, where to turn to? How about Luke Weil's How to Monetize a Small Blog?

   One of the best things about this book is that Weil is not long-winded. He gets to the point and he does it in 33 pages. It's a short, quick read. But, having it be a quick read also comes with drawbacks. I wish there were more step-by-step points in getting stuff done. However, Weil does list pros and cons to various blog money makers.
   And, really, with Google - is it really necessary for him to point out every step? No, but it would be nice to have it all in one location. That is my old-school preference.
   This is a decent book for new bloggers to get a hold of. And even veteran bloggers who want a quick bonk on the head when the money is flowing slower than normal.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Peanuts Movie Giveaway!

Peanuts-Image Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus and the rest of the beloved “Peanuts” gang make their big-screen debut, like they’ve never been seen before, in state of the art 3D animation. Snoopy, the world’s most lovable beagle – and flying ace – embarks upon his greatest mission as he takes to the skies to pursue his arch-nemesis The Red Baron, while his best pal, Charlie Brown, begins his own epic quest. From the imagination of Charles M. Schulz and the creators of the ICE AGE films, THE PEANUTS MOVIE will prove that every underdog has his day. Directed By: Steve Martino Produced By: Craig Schulz, Bryan Schulz, Cornelius Uliano, Michael J. Travers, Paul Feig

Fandango $25 Gift Card and 4 Movie Themed Hat Giveaway

Hosted by: Tales From A Southern Mom

Co Hosted by: Michigan Saving and More and Queen Thrifty

How amazing is it that The Peanuts are BACK!! They want to celebrate with you and giveaway to one of our readers $25 in Fandango Cash and FOUR (4) Peanuts Movie Hats, a whole family pack! Peanuts-Fandango Thank you to all of the bloggers that are helping with promoting of this great giveaway! Enter Below and Good Luck!  
Disclaimer: None of the bloggers participating in this giveaway are responsible for prize fulfillment. The sponsor will be awarding the prize to the winner. None of the social media platforms are affiliated with this giveaway.

Review: Riding by Cassia Cassitas

Anyone who has a love of Olympic athletics should have an appreciation, at least, for this novel. Written by Cassia Cassitas, it tells the athletic stories of Mario, Elizabeth, and their son Andre.
The novel jumps from location to location and year to year, so you need to make sure you read the headings. If you don't, you will get confused.
   The third person narration vividly paints stories of perseverance, and the desire to prove oneself. Particularly when it comes to Andre's story - an extraordinary special needs bicyclist who wants to compete in the Paralympics.
   The only things I have an issue with are the liberal use of hyphens. In some scenes, hyphens take the place of quotations. Now, I know the author was trying to show the inner dialogue, but it would have been better without the hyphens. Maybe italicizing the inner dialogue would have been more efficient.
   And I also wish there would have been more dialogue. I am a big dialogue fan. I understand the need to show inner thoughts and struggles (after all, I am an author) and to paint the picture of what is physically happening in the story, but with this story, more dialogue would have been a boon.
   However, it is a decent read and very inspiring.
Full disclosure: I was sent this book free of charge and received compensation in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Review: Cool Joe Sunglasses

My daughter goes through sunglasses as swiftly as my son goes through diapers. It is a challenge to keep a pair with her, but when I received an offer from Cool Joe Sunglasses to review their Blue Sunglasses with Polarized Lens, I had to check it out. Especially when I saw what the glasses looked like.

   My daughter is very much a girly girl and she loves color. Boring old black sunglasses are not for her (unless they have Monster High insignia on them). Shiny blue sunglasses with gold detail, however? She flipped when she saw them and placed them on her face. Granted, they are a little big, but she loves the way they look and she promises that she will not lose these. I hope she upholds her promise because they do look great on her. The color complements her skin and hair very nicely.
   I tried these out before my daughter got home and they are a perfect fit for my head. The shape of the lenses do not complement my face very nicely, but I took my son for a walk with these on and they kept the sun's rays out well enough. Some rays got through, but it was not blinding. But, then again, I'm used to black, black lenses in my sunglasses. I did enjoy the slight blue tint the glasses lent to everything in my neighborhood during my walk, though.
Full disclosure: I was sent these glasses free of charge and received compensation in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015


Who loves a Ladies Night?! ME! And I'm super excited for a Ladies Night that is happening tomorrow - Wednesday, Oct. 21 - at Runnings! Have you been in Runnings lately? You
should. And you should do it tomorrow! Check this out - you buy a tote for $2 and whatever you can fit into that tote, you get 15 percent off. And proceeds from the tote sales are donated to breast cancer research.
   Now, it had been a while since I went into a Runnings and when I walked into the store here in Marshall, MN (the
flagship store), I was surprised.
   In Mobridge, SD (near where I grew up), Runnings was always an agricultural store. It was where the ranchers went to get supplies for cattle. I went to the Marshall Runnings a few weeks ago for Bag Balm (which is the BEST diaper cream EVER), and I was greeted with so much more than farming and ranching supplies. I looked to my right when I walked through the doors and saw home décor that fit into the style I am trying to achieve. I saw lovely and well made boots that would look great on my feet. I saw handbags that I had to add to my collection. I saw Christmas gift ideas for my children, my husband and my father. What was supposed to be a quick ten minute shopping trip extended into 45.
   This is new, I told myself. I never expected this.
   Well, during the last five to ten years, Runnings has been working very hard to change their product mix and sell items and brands that cater to women, considering their role importance in the household and influence on family purchases. Dennis Jensen, director of marketing and advertising, told me that in a recent interview. And they are still carrying on their 65-plus-year reputation of providing quality farm and ranch supplies, sporting goods and automotive materials.
   "We work very hard to offer a fair price on quality, durable and trusted merchandise including clothing, footwear, automotive, sporting goods, farm supplies, lawn and garden, toys, housewares, tools, pet and animal supplies and more," said Dennis Jensen, director of marketing and advertising. "In addition, 20 stores sell firearms."
   With 39 stores located in six states (Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, New York and New Hampshire), Runnings is catering to all of the family needs. As well as to the needs of the communities a store calls home. Jensen said Runnings maintains local involvement in organizations such as 4-H, FFA, Pheasants Forever and more.
   Runnings is expanding its horizons and I am glad I have expanded mine to break the belief that the only reason I will go into Runnings is for Bag Balm. There are now plenty of reasons to shop there. And to quote Mr. Jensen:
   "If you have not checked out Runnings clothing and footwear selection lately, it's worth a look. We have many positive comments from customers who come to us and do not realize the wide selection of clothing and footwear brands we carry."

Monday, October 19, 2015

Review: Live Infinitely Forever Fused Fruit Infusion Water Bottle

I have wanted a water infuser since I first saw them on the market. When Live Infinitely offered me a chance to review their Forever Fused Fruit Infusion Water Bottle, I took a chance.
   One reason why I decided to accept their offer is because I live in a town that does not have tasty water. I wanted to find a way beyond iced tea to make it more palatable. Now, a friend of mine who has a water infuser told me that they do not work that way. The flavoring the fruit gives to the water is subtle. She said it would not be able to get rid of the icky taste of the town's water - at least not completely.
   Well, when the water infuser arrived, I put some strawberries and mint leaves in it, filled it with water and let it sit in the refrigerator for a while. Now, maybe her water infuser holds a lot more water. I would say mine holds roughly 16 ounces. But, when the water was adequately cooled, I took a sip and I could taste both the strawberries and the mint. It was not overpowering, but it wasn't subtle either. There was a little bit of icky town water taste left, but it was drinkable.
   There are a variety of colors available. They sent me the green, which is my favorite color. You can also take the infuser out of the bottle and just use it as a water bottle. There have been complaints about the bottle leaking, but I have not had that problem. From what I can tell, as long as you screw the bottle on correctly, there is no leakage.
   All in all, this is a simple and portable water infuser and I would recommend it for first timers.
Full disclosure: I was sent this product free of charge in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Review: Justified Laboratories Green Coffee Bean Extract Cleanse

I love detoxes. They leave me feeling clean and refreshed. It had been a while since my last cleanse, and I accepted an offer from Justified Laboratories to review their Green Coffee Bean Extract Cleanse.

   This product promises to control your appetite, detox your body and give you digestive support. I have experienced two of these three promises - the appetite control and the digestive support. Normally, my tummy will growl if I miss a meal and since I have started taking these, I do not miss skipping a meal. In fact, my appetite is almost nonexistent. I am just not as hungry as I normally am. And that's a good thing.
   I have also had less heartburn. I've given the Tums in my medicine cabinet a break. And I'm not a big fan of heartburn, so if this supplement will aid me in that arena, I'm all for it.
   Now, about the cleanse - I haven't experienced that much at all. I'm not sure why, but it's not cleaning me out. Maybe I'm already detoxed. Maybe I'm not. But, I think that maybe the name of this product should not endorse cleansing so much.
   I leave it up to you to decide whether or not you want to try it.
Full disclosure: I was sent this product free of charge in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Review: LED Balloon Lights

I adore lights, especially those in different colors. And string lights are my ultimate favorite! They are so delicate and give
everything a fairyland feel. That was why I accepted an offer from Foober to review a set of their LED Balloon Lights. They are perfect for party lanterns and making lightning bug mason jars.
   Upon arrival, I noticed they were not attached to a string. Each light was separate and came with three mini batteries. You need to remove a rubber ring from the outside, unscrew the bottom and remove the plastic surrounding the three batteries found on the inside. The light turns on when you screw it back together. I chose the purple color and I am so glad I did! It's beautiful!
   What I really enjoy is the endless possibilities these give me when it comes to crafting. My daughter and I love to make Halloween and Christmas decorations and I can't think of a better aspect to incorporate into our projects. Especially since they have so many colors to choose from - like red, yellow, green and more.
Full disclosure: I was sent this product free of charge in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Update: After a couple days, all of the bulbs stopped working. The connection in each one was faulty. I switched batteries and to no avail. The connections were obviously faulty because when you shake each one, the purple light flickers, but never stays on.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

This Is Why Type 1's Are Cynical

I have not made it a secret that numerous Type 1 diabetics are cynical about this disease ever being cured and skeptical when they hear about the latest "cure." The skepticism is
largely due to the part that after a small story leaks out about the "cure," it is never heard about again. And we are left wondering what happened.
   It looks like that is changing, as certain cures in the works are consistently talked about in the Type 1 community and because the 21st Century Cures Act (passed by the House, yet to be acted upon by the Senate) would get cures to us more quickly. However, because it is has been the norm for so long for the "cures" to disappear, many Type 1 diabetics are stuck in the skeptical frame of mind.
   Also, when you look at the cost of this disease - boy howdy! Talk about a money maker! We live in a country where nothing matters more than the bottom line. I sat down and did the math for what it costs for me to live (or what the companies make off of me). Here is what I came up with:
Monthly costs:
Toujeo - $450 for one carton of three pens
Novolog - $540 for one carton of five pens
Relion test strips - $36 for one box of 100
Total: $1,026 monthly

Non-monthly (but at least annual) costs:
Ketostix - $15 for a bottle of 50
Glucose tablets - $9 for a 6 ounce bottle
Insulin pen needles - $30 for a box of 100
Lancets - $12 for a box of 100
Total: $66 (depending on how often they are needed or changed)

Cost every other year:
Relion glucometer - $15
Total: $15

   So, let's say that I have to get a new meter (because meters tend to be retired and you have to buy a new one because the company no longer makes strips for your old meter) and I spend the $66 twice a year (modest estimate). I spend $12,459 in that year just for supplies. That does not include lab tests or doctor visits.
   There is an estimated one million Americans with Type 1 diabetes and 371 million worldwide. Let's say that 371 million spent the same amount I did - the total generated just for Type 1 diabetic supplies in that one year worldwide is . . . drumroll . . . $4,622,289,000,000. Translation: $4.6 trillion dollars! That's a LOT of bank!
   This is why there is cynicism.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Review: SelpHbalance

After testing some other pH strips a short while ago, I was eager to try another brand to see if the results were any different.

   When SelpHbalance offered me their test strips, I was happy to try it out and curious to see if the results would differ from previous tests. These strips give you two options when it comes to testing your pH levels - urine or saliva. I'm not a fan of testing urine, so I opted for saliva, waiting two hours after I ate.
   I spit the saliva into a spoon and put the strip into it, leaving it there for 15 seconds. The results it gave me was 6.75. I tested twice more on different days and got 6.5 the first time and 6.75 the last time. So, I think it's safe to say my pH level is 6.75, which is between normal and acidic. So, I am not really worried about my levels and I hope it stays that way.
   If you wanting to keep a better watch on your overall health, I would recommend buying these.
Full disclosure: I was sent this product free of charge, along with receiving a small stipend, in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Review: Rhino Fuerte

Thick hair is a blessing and a curse. Yes, thick hair looks beautiful, but it is hell to work with. I find it difficult to keep my hair in a certain style with what I have to work with at home. Everything falls out because my hair has so much weight to it. Tony has the same issue. Thus, our kids do, too.

   I received an opportunity to review Rhino Fuerte - a tub of bright blue hair gel. It seems to be marketed primarily to men, so Tony was excited to try it and so was I.
   I am happy to say the gel does not smell unpleasant. It is difficult to pinpoint exactly what the smell is, but it is very gender neutral. And while it might feel slimy at first touch, there is no gross residue covering your hands after you apply it.
Bubbers after rolling around with his new spikes.
   Now, a while ago, we gave our son a mohawk for the summer months. And we have tried to spike it, but were having difficulty finding good products to use in his hair. I was so excited to try the Rhino Fuerte in his hair to get the spikes we were desiring. And it worked! Now, immediately after applying it, Bubbers rolled around and bent a few of a his spike tips, but after the gel set (seconds afterward) there was no stopping his hair! When I woke him up the next morning, the spikes were still there.
   Another bonus to this gel - upon washing it out, there was no flaky residue and it came out extremely easily. No scrubbing was necessary. This is good gel to use in thick hair and for little kids. Recommended.
Full disclosure: I was sent this product free of charge in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Review: Healthy Wiser pH Health

I never realized until recently on how important a good pH balance is for your body. I've heard of pH balance in pools and water, but it never occurred to me to test out my own
bodily levels.
   I accepted an offer from Healthy Wiser to write a review on their pH Health testing strips. My curiosity got the better of me and I decided, why not?
   The container that the strips are packaged in is not exactly the easiest to open. I am assuming that is because they do not want any contaminants to get on the strips. Also, be careful when you do it. You do not want the strips to fly all over the room.
   However, once you get it open and you can access one, you will be glad you did. The strips can be used to test your urine or saliva. If you go the urine route, it is best to test the immediate morning urine or the second urine of the day. If you decide to go with saliva, wait two hours after you eat something. I went with saliva. Fifteen seconds later, I got my result.
   Unfortunately, the result was not the easiest to read. It comes with a color-coordinated chart which is plain-as-day, but my result did not seem to fit into any of them perfectly. I picked the two colors it resembled and then guessed my pH was somewhere between 6.75 and 7.0. According to the back of the box, that's not bad, which surprised me. Living with Type 1 diabetes, I assumed my pH would be rather acidic.
   Also, there are no instructions on what you can do to alter your pH levels. All it says is to contact your health care provider once you have the results.
   All in all, good information to have, but now I'm not sure what to do with it. I know I can figure that out on my own, though.
Full disclosure: I was sent this item free of charge in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

First Time Garage Sale - Lessons Learned

During the past five years, we have moved quite a bit. We started in Box Elder, SD; to two places in Copperas Cove, TX; to two places in Tulsa, OK; to our current location in Marshall, MN. Every single time, I regretted that we did not have at least one garage sale at each location.

   We got rid of so much stuff - mainly by either throwing it away or giving it away. We could at least have made a few dollars on the stuff.
   So, the desire to have a garage sale has been very strong and last weekend, we finally had one. But, it was nowhere near as successful as I had hoped. There seems to be a very strong garage sale community here in Marshall. Signs are up everywhere and the town even has a designated Garage Sale Day, which features numerous sales on every single block (at least it seems). That was in the beginning of May. And that would have been the best time to hold ours.
   First of all, we waited until the end of the season. The best time to host a garage sale is in the summer - before school starts.
   The second thing that went wrong - we did not shell out the $25 to advertise in the local newspaper. Me, in my constant frugal state of mind, wanted to make money, not spend money.
   The third thing - windy days equals lost signs. I put up five signs in strategic locations and only one was still in the ground by the time we closed down.
   The fourth thing - it's not a big money maker. I had pie in the sky dreams, but didn't come close to it.
   The fifth thing - get enough tables. People don't want to bend over or squat down to look at stuff on a tarp on the ground (thankfully, we got rid of enough stuff on the first day to display everything on the tables by the second day).
   We only got rid of about 1/4 of the stuff we had out on the lawn. And while we are happy to have our storage closet mostly cleaned out, my van is now packed with boxes holding various items. Those items will be going to a consignment store tomorrow.
   We also learned the more functionality an item has, the more likely it will sell. All of Tony's hardware went bye-bye. No one even glanced at the Christmas décor or the 24M baby boy clothes or 6-12 girl clothes.
   A lemonade stand managed by your kid is usually a crowd pleaser. Bee managed to get money from almost every single customer we had. They did not always buy her lemonade, but most of them donated to her lemonade treasure box.
   We will do another garage sale next year and hopefully the lessons learned this year will be remembered.