Showing posts with label Site Reviews. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Site Reviews. Show all posts

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Pet Partners Therapy Dog Team Review

Finn Looks Deeply Into Each Heart He Encounters
When you have a dog with special gifts, like I do (and many of you do), it would be selfish not to let him fully develop and use those wondrous strengths to bring cheer into the lives of those aching for connection and comfort.  Having adopted a joy dog, it just seems wrong to keep all of that great goodness to myself.  In the case of Finn, a dog that was previously kept locked away from the outside world for all of his life (until rescued), the best possible antidote to having been shut away and hoarded is to bring all of his beauty into the light of day. To share Finn, is to share love in its purest form.

In our determination to lift the spirits of others, Finn and I are on a new year's mission.  Though we have engaged in animal welfare and educational outreach work on a daily basis over the past year and a half (since Finn became a part of my forever family), we want to take this work to the next level by going through a rigorous screening process to become a registered therapy dog team.  Anything worth doing, is worth doing to the highest level of professionalism and integrity.  To that end, we have chosen to pursue approval through Pet Partners.

The Pet Partners Organization and Website

There are a number of organizations through which volunteers can seek an official status for their therapy team service.  We chose Pet Partners for several reasons:
  • Theirs is a very reputable organization with a well-established history;
  • They put animals first;
  • Their process provides unlimited opportunities for demonstrating team growth;
  • They provide quality resources that enhance both animal and handler skills;
  • Their community is one that connects teams of beautiful individuals; 
  • They provide insurance coverage for registered teams; and
  • Membership can bring a greater credibility to volunteer therapy teams.
Quality of Life is the Soul of the Mission
Once the decision was made to align ourselves with Pet Partners, Finn and I jumped right into our training.  First, I enrolled in the required handler's course.  Taking the course online was a good fit for my learning style and was also the best option given the distance I would have had to drive to attend an in-person class.  I found the course to be very informative and helpful in preparing me to set Finn and myself up for therapy dog team success.  Most importantly of all, it was a reminder that we are in the business of generating quality of life experiences... that we are to exude a reverence for life in all that we do.

Having passed my course, our next step is to visit Finn's veterinarian to get him signed off as healthy and fit for therapy dog consideration.  Because he has a disability, Finn's vet will need to indicate appropriate accommodations (like the use of Finn's K9 cart and/or dog stroller during therapy visits and the assessment process). Once Finn has passed this medical exam, we will be eligible to sign up for our team evaluation session.

Finn and I must prove ourselves both in terms of aptitude and skills.  Our evaluation process seeks first to confirm that both of us have the heart for this service.  I know, without a doubt, that therapy team outreach is a calling for me.  And, having watched Finn display his "people whispering" essence over the many months since his adoption, I feel sure that he is also well-suited for this mission.  Finn leans into this work, rather than merely tolerating it.  That is the key qualifier when it comes to passing our aptitude testing.

Finn is a Willing Student, Teacher, and Therapist
When it comes to skills, Finn and I must demonstrate that our encounters with strangers will be predictably safe.  Finn must be responsive to my guidance at all times. In addition, Finn must show a tender restraint in his dealings with a wide range of individuals.  Before even considering therapy service, I spent over a year socializing Finn to ensure that he developed the confidence necessary to meet with new people in a wide variety of settings.

Finn came to me with no prior training.  He knew no commands when we began our pursuit of this quest.  We currently set aside time every single day to push the boundaries of our learning.  Finn must show a mastery of a number of commands: come, sit, down, stay, and leave it, for starters.  He will be tested in a number of role playing situations common to what he is likely to encounter during visits to hospitals, nursing homes, and other facilities.  Right now, as a part of his preparation, I am focused on immersing Finn into the most common types of experiences he is likely to have when he officially starts his therapy dog work.

You may be wondering what Finn gets out of all of this.  As a mix of two of the most intelligent breeds of dogs, I have found that Finn needs a great deal of stimulation.  He is a combination of working dog breeds.  In my rehabilitation work with rescue dogs, I have seen the importance of providing smart, energetic animals with a job and a purpose.  As a Border collie mix, Finn would normally be involved in herding, or agility, or some form of highly evolved activity engaging both body and mind.  He seems to really enjoy stretching his mental muscles during our training sessions.  Finn's emotional tank also appears to be filled up by all of the attention and affection that comes his way as a result of our interactions with others.

Finn is a whole new dog compared to what he was on the day of his emancipation from the life of a shut-in.  In many ways, I feel his people-whispering nature is what it is due to his having overcome such a barren existence during his early years.  Finn has a way of cracking people's hearts wide open and making them feel things deeply—things that are healthy, and lovely, and healing.  How do I know this?  Well, Dr. Finn began by practicing on me.  A dose of Finn every day has been the best prescription for living a life filled with what matters most.  My desire is to give as many people as possible a taste of this good medicine.

Author's Note: If you enjoy reading about the healing power of animals, you may be interested in my book review about Bella and Jean.  Joy Unleashed tells the story of how they have been transformed while touching lives in beautiful ways.  Another book, Moose! The Reading Dog, will appeal to the children in your life.






Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


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Monday, January 14, 2019

Reviewing Sam's Pizza Crust Recipe

Pizza crust from scratch is easier than I thought.
Over the years I have tried to make homemade pizzas. And over the years I have repeatedly failed. But today I made homemade pizza, just the way I like it, using a pizza crust recipe from Sam's Place. My little pizzas turned out great and I can't wait to bake some more.


Sam's Homemade Pizza Dough Recipe

Sam's Place is a blog site with a collection of recipes. Sam's recipes are generally easy and tasty. He writes about his passion for "preserving family recipes and creating new ones". I visit his blog regularly and see that he shares quick and easy recipes. 

When I decided to try to make pizzas at home again, I went directly to his blog. I found his dough recipe here. I only needed yeast, oil, water, flour, and salt. 


I spread the dough out on the pizza stone - baking stones are great! I pressed the dough into a thin crust with my fingers. I didn't worry that they weren't round. On each pizza, I added sauce, mushrooms, cheese, and  coarsely ground black pepper. Yes, that is one of my little pizzas in the photo above.



Old Stone Oven Round Pizza Stone




Why I Tried Making Pizzas Again


Recently I was watching a cooking show on television. Lidia was making little pizzas for the grill. She gave me a craving for pizza. Grocery store pizzas are okay, but not my favorite. Pizzas delivered from a local restaurant are divine but expensive. And I never end up eating the entire pizza. Even if I try eating all the leftovers, I either forget or I grow tired of eating pizza and inevitably I end up wasting food.


In the past I have tried making my own pizzas. I don't remember making any pizza that tasted better than the cheapie pre-made pizzas in the freezer section. Frankly, I eventually gave up.


But after watching that television show with the grilled pizzas and remembering Sam's easy dough recipe, I gave it a try. I dug out my baking stone and started up my KitchenAid mixer. Also, I have had good luck using SAF instant yeast. Previously, I failed when baking anything with yeast. But between using the SAF yeast and the fact that my water comes out of my tap at just over 100 degrees, I have been successful making breads. And now I'm successful with making homemade pizza crust.


Imagine making your own pizzas, personal sized or extra large, thin or thick crust, just exactly the way you like them!



The second pizza I made today. Doesn't it look tasty?


Related Links:


Cynthia reviewed the Kitchen Aid Pizza Wheel. She recommends it because it is "strong, durable, and ergonomical". Take a peek at her review for more details. I need one of these.


I bought my KitchenAid mixer two years ago. I had always thought it was an extra and over-priced gadget that I didn't need. But since I have it, I LOVE IT!  This is a purchase I've never regretted. 


Heather has been a KitchenAid Artisian mixer fan longer than I have. In fact, her review helped convince me to get one of my own. Heather's article also includes information about the annual timing of sales on these mixers. Get that important information here

Sam also has a Fresh Tomato Spinach pizza recipe. I'll try that next. 

Because Lidia's Kitchen show is what started this recent pizza craving, I'm including a link to her Grilled Pizza recipe. Yum! 


Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


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Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Wedding Forward Website Reviewed

When A Wedding Is In Your Future

wedding plans
Wedding Plans image courtesy of Pixabay.com
I thought that a review for a website for planning a wedding would be appropriate today. Here in the US and in many places of the world this article is being published on Christmas Day. Many men have chosen to "pop" the question to many a gal either on Christmas Eve or on the morning of Christmas. So, there are some weddings that will need to be planned. 

A truly awesome site to visit if a wedding is in your future is: Wedding Forward. As a soon to be bride you will find a plethora of ideas for every aspect of your special day. There are ideas for themes, dresses, hairstyles and so much more on this elegantly designed and easy to navigate website. 

A few of the categories that can be found on Wedding Forward are: 
  • Dresses & Attire
  • Flowers & Decor
  • Wedding Planning
  • Hair & Makeup
  • Photography & Video
You will see those top categories when you first land on the site but don't stop there! Scroll down the home page to find other very helpful categories to help you decide what you want for your wedding day. There are ideas for the music to be played, games to be played at your bachlorette party and tips about wedding vows. Ideas are shared for gifts and favors to be given to your wedding party and guests. Trending and traditional cakes are featured, too. There is also a convenient section with the Wedding Checklist that will be invaluable to you while planning your day to be the memorable event that you want it to be.  

If he just asked "will you" and you just responded with a thrilled and happy "yes", you should take some time to look over the website that will offer you some delightful and most helpful advice and ideas: Wedding Forward. The website can walk you forward from the time of his slipping that engagement ring on your finger to the moment that the words "I now pronounce you" are spoken. I feel certain that the ladies who contribute to the site will help take the stress out of the planning for you. 

Oh and I almost forgot to say, "Congratulations!" May your life be filled with joy and may you grow old together on one pillow.



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


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Thursday, November 29, 2018

DesignCap Free Online Poster Maker Reviewed

DesignCap is the free online poster maker offered by PearlMountain to make all your poster and flyer graphics easy to make and easy to design. The variety of templates, colors, text and background options are endless and will whet your appetite to make free posters in a few minutes for all your events.

WYSIWYG What You See Is What You Get


The DesignCap software is WYSIWYG which is very helpful for all levels of poster designers.
Beginner designers will enjoy the ability to change a template with the click of a mouse and the visual changes are immediate. Graphic designers with more advanced skills will find the templates easy to adjust with the text, color and image options.

DesignCap is an online program which is a bonus as software is not required to download to your computer; design the poster and simply save the poster as a download for its' future use.

I used the cover of my cookbook to test DesignCap and loved the ability to upload an image and change the background in a few seconds.

Background Options DesignCap

DesignCap offers a large variety of background colors and one can get lost (in a good way!) browsing through the options and making changes.

This is the DesignCap template I used for my cookbook.



This is the same template with a different border using the background menu.
The Low Oxalate Cookbook

The border was changed with a quick of the mouse when browsing the background menu. It was very helpful to have different colors and designs available to change the colors of the background.

Intuitive Design

Overall I found the menus easy to use and intuitive. The text menu to change the font size was less intuitive; however this is more than likely dependent upon the skills the designer has prior to using DesignCap. Two options exist to change the font size: the A+ or A-  or the font size can be changed manually. I like the ability to choose the font size manually; however, a first glance it appears the font size is limited to the drop down menu sizes when in fact any size font can be chosen by typing in the size. DesignCap offers tutorials for assistance and step by step guidance through its' menu options.

Image Size


The design can be saved in either jpg or png format. Remember this is a poster therefore the size is large. The image can then be scaled down if necessary or optimized prior to using on a website.

PearlMountain

DesignCap is the latest online design program from PearlMountain along with the established Fotojet and DesignEvo, the free online logo maker. The mission of PearlMountain, "We aim to make professional photo editing and graphic design capability accessible to everyone."





Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


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Monday, October 1, 2018

Reviewing Vistaprint for Business Cards

Business cards from Vistaprint
I am in the process of starting a small business. An Etsy store to offer my crocheted items to an audience beyond my circle of friends. In this beginning stage of the process, I quickly decided that I wanted a "business card" to include with my sold items. I chose Vistaprint and am thrilled with the service and product they provided. So thrilled that I'm writing this review to share the information with you.


Vistaprint - The "Everything to Market Your Business" Site


I see the Vistaprint commercials frequently. This constant advertising is why I checked out their site first. Sheer laziness on my part. I ordered with some skepticism - as some businesses that advertise the most are not the best. But I am glad I ordered my cards from Vistaprint. Before I start rambling, the mini-review is:

  • Super easy-to-navigate website
  • Many business card styles to choose from
  • Choices ranging from completely designed by you (including your own photo) or use one of the existing designs
  • Preview function that shows you exactly what you have created
  • Fast service (ordered on 8/22 and received on 8/29) even with standard shipping


My Business Cards


I knew I wanted a somewhat "rustic" design. The purpose of the card would be a thank you and continued advertising with my store URL. I needed a thicker paperstock as I would be punching a hole in many of the cards and attaching them to my handmade item with a ribbon.

I was able to choose rounded corners (to avoid snags in my yarn), "standard glossy" front of card (to add to the durability of the card), and print on the back of the card (for a more personal message). Not feeling creative enough to design my own card, I quickly found one of their templates. The overall front design of the template was not adjustable, but I could add customize with my store name.  I could also choose a couple of color variations.  Scroll to the very bottom of this article to see a very small sample of some of the designs. 

The back of the card allows for print. So I added the personalized printed message I wanted. The back of my card is not glossy paper.


I had expected to receive flimsy, poor-quality business cards (like the ones we have at work). Instead, I received cards that I am thrilled with. I paid $25.58 for 100 cards and shipping. 

I will continue my orders with Vistaprint, adding fabric care cards to my packaging. I have also begun to consider purchasing postcards for advertising after seeing all of the fantastic design possibilities.

If you are in need of business cards and other paper products for your business, I highly recommend Vistaprint

finished and ready for delivery - with card attached


Related Links:

Our own Tracey (The Savvy Age) recently reviewed a free online logo maker called DesignEvo. If you feel more confident in your creative abilities than I do mine, DesignEvo Free Logo Maker may be a great site to use. I LOVE the logo she created in "2.5 minutes". 

My Etsy Store. My goal is to retire at The Shack; tending my garden, chickens, and land. That retirement dream includes sitting in a rocking chair on the deck and crocheting. If that crochet adds a very small bit of retirement income (aka more money for yarn) all the better. 


an extremely small sample of some of the existing business card designs on Vistaprint




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


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Saturday, August 18, 2018

DesignEvo: Free Logo Maker Reviewed

Need a logo in minutes? DesignEvo is a free online logo maker which gives users the ability to make a logo in minutes; whether a novice or graphics professional DesignEvo provides the online software to make, create and design a logo quickly and easily.

Easy As 1-2-3

 

DesignEvo promises that a logo can be made in minutes and what is promised is delivered. I actually timed the making of this logo with a DesignEvo template. I used my lifestyle website and tagline to explore designing a new logo.


How To Use DesignEvo


I launched the free logo maker, scrolled down to my chosen category (Letter), scrolled through the options, entered the website name (or Company Name),  tagline and voila! Total creation time including download and social share =  2.5 minutes.
After creating the logo I quickly modified a few parts of the design. I tweeked the size,  modified the dot icons, changed the background color and then proceeded to download the logo and the required social share.

The requirement for a FREE logo to download for your use is very simple; a social share is required prior to downloading and credit on your website or blog. After downloading you will find a zip file with the logo as a jpg, png and a readme file with the share requirements.


What You See Is What You Get

The design interface is very user friendly and intuitive. Once the logo is created a Preview is available to see your logo on business cards, letterhead or media products.

This is a very nice program for novices to instantly create a logo by using the provided templates; for those with more advanced graphic skills the online software has the features to further customize the logo.



Customize Your Free Logo

Your logo can be easily customized with the color, font and transparency options. If you have the HEX colors for your company then the color of your logo can be changed with a few clicks of the mouse. The interface is clean, self explanatory and easy to navigate; if help is needed video tutorials and FAQ's are available under Support.


Who Is DesignEvo?

The About page of DesignEvo gives insight into the evolution of DesignEvo. Pearl Mountain developed Fotojet, a free online collage maker and is also the creator of DesignEvo. The logo maker is free or users have the option to purchase advanced features for a one time annual fee. Logo features such as resolution, copyright, vector files are restricted to the paid version.


Recommendation

I enjoyed the ease of using DesignEvo, the user friendly interface and the instantaneous results of a ready to use logo within minutes.  Colors, fonts, icons and graphics are just a click away to personalize your logo to your brand or create a brand new logo with a customizable template.




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


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Saturday, July 14, 2018

Reviewing Ways to Earn Money That Aren't Your Average 9 to 5 Job

ways to earn money with a side hussle
Image by Lou16
The internet has made the world seem smaller, it has also opened up opportunities for many people to embrace the idea of a side hustle or to even take the place of a more conventional day job.

Let's review a few ways that you can earn money that aren't talked about by your careers adviser in school. The wonderful contributors on this website have embraced several different ways of earning money and if you have similar talents then you may wish to embrace some of their methods.

So what ideas shall we discuss? Writing, photography, craft, recommendations, graphic design and even singing to cats!

You have probably heard the saying that if you do something you love you'll never work a day in your life. My late (offline) boss used to love this saying and he lived it too as he was at the office every day until his final two weeks (a month shy of his 90th birthday), he was even still studying a few months earlier! A few people who's articles you may have enjoyed on this site also seem to have taken these words to heart such as Mbg Photo & Wednesday Elf ...

Photography, Graphic Designs & Art


Mbg photo loves both photography and lighthouses so how to combine two loves and earn money at the same time? You sell your photographs of lighthouses on different products that people can purchase online. This is done with the aid of a number of print on demand sites, a popular one of these sites is Zazzle and you can see some wonderful lighthouses at Mgb Photo's Zazzle store - Lighthouse Gifts and Photos.

Zazzle is a great site to upload your own photography on, but you don't have to stop there.  Other popular ways to earn with Zazzle include typographical designs, in fact I had two very popular t-shirt designs that were just word based!  If you have a graphic design background or are an artist you could do well on this site.

Crocheting and Other Crafts


Wednesday Elf enjoys crocheting and she can utilize her talents by selling some of her amazing crocheted plush animals (and other goodies) in her very own Etsy store - Coastal Crochet Crafts.  There are a number of different crafts that you can make and put for sale on Etsy.  So if you enjoy crochet, knitting, jewelry making or even creating butterfly wings for costumes then you can sell your goods on Etsy.

Writing


When it comes to writing there are several different ways to earn money - writing a blog about things you love, reviewing products or even writing a book!   Sylvestermouse loves Christmas and plans for it throughout the year which is why she runs a couple of different sites around the holidays including Christmas Time Treasures.

BarbRad (like many of us) is a self-confessed bookworm and amongst her many book related blogs she reviews books at Bookworm Buffet (an awesome name for a book review site in my opinion!).

Anyone can set up their own website these days whether it's on the blogger platform, wordpress or even a site like weebly.   If that idea is too daunting for you then you could start writing on content sites such as hubpages or wizzley - earning money on these sites takes a while, but it's a good place to ease into the world of online writing.

Writing a book has become a lot easier with the internet because you can publish ebooks yourself.  It takes a lot more discipline to write a book in my opinion though.  One of our wonderful contributors has done this, however, with not just one, but two books - Bev Owen's cozy mysteries can be brought through Amazon.

Uber, Airbnb & Airtasker


Other ways of making money include the ride sharing economy such as Uber - simply use your car (provided it meets the requirements), download the app and you can choose your own hours for making money as a driver.  I know people who do this as a full time income as well as people who do it around other jobs.

Airbnb is a very popular way to cash in on extra room at home that can also lead you to meeting a variety of people.  Friends of ours do very well with this source of income which enables one of them to stay home and look after the children full time.

Airtasker is one way to earn money that I haven't used and nor do I know anyone who has.  I have heard interesting things about it though and it certainly seems like an interesting way to offer up any skills you have to earn money.  I was watching a segment on our local news program where they interviewed the head of airtasker in Australia and he said that the most unusual way someone had made money in the past year was by singing to a pet cat for an hour a day!

Recommendations


Recommending things is a great way to earn money and this can be done in a number of different ways.   One way is to write reviews (as we mentioned under writing) and in this way we can earn advertising income on a blog or we can earn via affiliate marketing.

With affiliate marketing we get a commission on any sales we make when we recommend things so you could look at one of Treasures by Brenda's sites which is called Movie Treasures by Brenda.  This site reviews movies and if you click on the movie and purchase it Brenda can receive a commision.   Another way of making money with affiliate marketing is by setting up a niche site like Heather426 did with Halloween Fun Shoppe and then if people buy anything she features she can earn a commission.

Recommendations are very powerful you've only got to see how many Facebook recommendations you see in a day.  People just can't seem to resist giving recommendations (usually for free).  You don't have to write an article or blog post to earn money with recommendations you could try social marketing (previously called network marketing).

I actually belong to a social marketing company called Arbonne and basically I love the products so recommend them to people and then they buy them through me and I make a commission.  If they start recommending them to other people then I let them know that they could become a consultant themselves and make the commission for themselves instead of sending me clients!

The company I work for provide us with a website so the business can be wholly conducted online, but face to face recommendations works really well and I would recommend a combination of the two to be really successful.

There are a number of social marketing companies around, but my (albeit biased) opinion is that Arbonne is the best so if you are interested in finding out more please send me a message via my Facebook business page or via instagram.

Even More Ways to Make Money


Other ideas for making money is by offering to be a social media manager for small local businesses, setting up and/or looking after websites for local businesses.

Then of course there's always going back to basics and offering handyman services, shopping services, dog walking services.

The list really is endless, whether it's a local task or a global task there really seems as though there's nothing you can't make money from if you think outside of the office cubicle!




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


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Monday, June 25, 2018

Site Review: Drageda - The Heart of Country Music

Reviewing the Heart of Country Music.
I am in a mood. I don't want the television on - polluting me with all of it's negativity. I'd rather listen to some music. Only trouble is, I'm tired of the local radio stations that play the same songs every hour. When I'm in this mood, a song that I love quickly becomes a song that grates my nerves due to the repetition. Today, I'm in the mood for a specific type of song, a country song that makes me feel good. So I turn to a familiar website for inspiration. Since you may not be familiar with Drageda.com I thought I'd do a quick site review and introduce you.


Drageda.com - The Heart of Country Music


Our very own Review This! contributor, Barbara Tremblay Cipak (Brite-Ideas) is the creator of Drageda.com.  I am not writing this review because she is a co-writer on this site. Rather, I am writing this review because I truly find her personal website to be heart-felt, informational, and helpful.


What is Drageda.com ? 


Drageda.com is "not your typical find a country song site".  Barbara has created the site to assist with finding the right country song for your feeling, special occasion, or that particular moment in your life. Whether it is a birthday, wedding, or memorial.... whether is about family, friendships, love, break-ups, or grief and loss... Barbara reviews and categorizes songs to fit the moment in time.

What in the world does Drageda stand for ?


Drageda stands for Don't Ride Alone Get Emotional Daily Assistance.


Why I Recommend Drageda.com


Even though I listen to country music (I like many genres, and am a radio station surfer, but I tend toward country the most), Barbara's reviews have introduced me to new artists and new songs. 

All of her reviews are heartfelt. She provides the links to the music or videos, her interpretation of the songs, and portions of the lyrics. 

The site is easy to use. There are a variety of categories that are easily accessible via the links at the top of the page. This includes the categories: Breakup, Family, Friend, Funny, Hope, Happy, Love, Perspective, Time Passing, and Death & Loss. There is also a Country Gifts category. Some of those categories have sub-sections.

If you can't find what you need there, or just for fun, check out the Country Song Lists page. While on the website, that link can be found in the very top left corner of the page. You'll be taken to a page where the categories of songs are searchable and listed by category phrases (in 4 different tables) such as:

  • Thank You: I'm feeling so grateful for the people in my life
  • Date Night: Songs for a night of just kissing
  • Cheater: Support songs if the MoFo cheated!
  • USA or July 4th country songs
  • Canada country songs
  • songs to honor Dad
  • songs to celebrate Mom
  • and many more categories
In addition to the specific Drageda.com song reviews, on the right side of the page, there are two itunes sections that list the current top 10 country music videos and the current top 10 country music albums.  Using those sections, I have found songs/videos I wasn't familiar with and because that section links to itunes, I am able to listen to song samples for free (I really like free). 

Finally, and sometimes most importantly to me, there is a noticeable absence of ads and pop-ups. I really find those "subscribe" pop-ups, ads, and websites that are as full of ads as they are content so annoying that I'll sometimes immediately click out of a site. I appreciate that Barbara (whether intentional or not) is so focused on the feelings of the music and the music itself that disruptive ad placement is excluded. What a breath of fresh air these days.

There is only one small addition that would be helpful for me personally on Drageda.com. That would be a section just for music that celebrates country living and the natural world. When I'm in this mood, that is the music I lean toward. However, even without this specific section, I was able to find the perfect song (and it turns out an entire album) that fits my mood today.  Celebrating "country" and the natural world.  



Son of the Sun
by: Dierks Bentley 
album: The Mountain



This is probably a song I would not have found without help from Drageda.comI'm glad to have found it. My home is filled with feel-good music and songs that fit my emotional needs for today. Just how Drageda intended.






Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


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Monday, June 18, 2018

Reviewing Chewy.com

I have just received my first order from Chewy.com and I have to say that I think I could get used to having nearly 20 lbs. of pet supplies delivered to my 3rd floor apartment door. 


About Chewy.com


Chewy.com is an online source for pet supplies. A large variety of pets. You can choose to "shop by pet" and that includes: dogs, cats, fish, birds, reptiles, small pets, and horses. 

Their mission statement is:

"We're working to become the largest pet retailer in the world with the most satisfied customers. Our success is measured by the happiness of the people and pets we serve, not simply by the amount of pet supplies we deliver." 

After my experience, I believe that they are working hard to complete that mission.

I found the site to be easy to navigate and super easy to find the items and brands I was shopping for. 

With a coupon I received in the mail, I took the plunge and ordered four cases Willy and Daisy's canned dog food. With the coupon and free shipping combined that dog food cost less than it would have if I had purchased it at Wal-Mart. 


I like to buy my dog and cat supplies in bulk - cutting down on trips to the store. But loading, unloading, and carrying all that up three flights of stairs becomes annoying. Imagine 2 large bags of dog food, a 5 lb. bag of cat food, a container of cat litter, and a case of canned dog food in a typical stock-up shopping trip. That translates to multiple heavy-duty trips up and down the stairs.

Finally, I have browsed the site several times and confirmed that they offer every brand of dog food, dog treat, cat food, and cat litter that I buy. Including one of the dog food brands I purchase that is regularly out-of-stock at my local stores. 


The Reason I'd Give My Experience 4 out of 5 Stars


If I were giving a starred review, I'd give 4 out of 5 stars - subtracting one star for our local delivery service. 

I've learned that in the Baltimore area we have a delivery service in addition to UPS, FedEx, and the postal service. It is called LaserShip. I'm not at all pleased with LaserShip.

LaserShip listed an expected delivery date. Two days after that date, I contacted them. Their response was that there was a delay and I'd receive my shipment in 1-2 days. Those additional days passed and suddenly my tracking information showed that my delivery was "left at door" on the original delivery date that was listed. 

Only problem was... it wasn't left at my door. I happened to be home that evening (and ironically, receiving a delivery of curtains and curtain rods from one of the other delivery services). So I contacted LaserShip again.  After another couple of days their response was that my delivery was lost and I should contact "the seller.".  It was only then that I realized I was not communicating with Chewy.com customer service.

I contacted Chewy.com customer service. They were professional, quick, and shipped my items a second time. For free. With no run around or misinformation whatsoever.

I received that order on the promised date. 

Related to Chewy.com only, I could imagine myself becoming a regular client. I'm totally sold on the savings and convenience. However, I'm planning on learning more about this LaserShip company to learn if I can receive my Chewy.com orders without LaserShip's "help". 

I highly recommend Chewy.com to other pet owners.


photos courtesy of Pixabay under CC0 license. 






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Thursday, February 8, 2018

Review of Zazzle

Have you ever wanted to make a special gift for someone using a photograph you have taken?  If so, Zazzle is a great way to go!


Sea after Storm Throw Pillow
Sea after Storm Throw Pillow
by mbgphoto

The above pillow was made on Zazzle using a photograph I took in Florida.  There is one photo on one side of the pillow and a second photo on the opposite side of the pillow.  Whether you'd like to make a special gift for someone or whether you'd like to open a store and make a little extra money the information on the rest of this post will help you to get started.  This information was taken from a presentation I gave to my photography club.

What is Zazzle?

Zazzle is a program where you can get paid for doing what you love best, creating photographs and art!  It is free to set up, you don't have to carry any inventory and Zazzle handles all the production and customer service issues.  Zazzle has three ways to make money, as a designer, a maker or an associate.  I work as a designer and will concentrate on that aspect in this post.

Designer Program

  1. Upload your photograph or artwork onto products.  Over 250 different products are available.
  2. A customer likes your design and buys it.
  3. Zazzle processes transactions and handles all customer service.
  4. Zazzle prints and ships to customers.
  5. Zazzle sends you a payment for a percentage of sales.

Pricing System

  1. You choose any royalty rate from 5% to 99%
  2. Base price is increased by that amount so you earn your royalty.
  3. Base Price +Your Royalty Percentage=Retail Price

My Experience with Zazzle

  1. Started my first Zazzle store in 2008
  2. Currently have 3 Zazzle stores: mbgphoto, lighthouseenthusiast,and Butterflyblittz.
  3. Example of sales on photo from 2007 of Cabo San Lucas.  From that one photo $1607.28 in royalties.  Sold

    • 836 mugs
    • 333 magnets
    • 52 luggage tags
    • 23 ornaments
    • 16 keychains
    • 2 puzzles
    • 12 buttons
    • 2 postcards

  • I currently have over 6800 products in my three stores and I sell something most every day.  Sometimes it is only a postcard and sometimes it is a bigger sale.    Here are some examples of my products.
  1. Go to zazzle.com
  2. Click on sell on Zazzle in top left hand area
  3. Choose from Designer-Maker-Associate

Steps in Designer Program

  1. Create a Zazzle Account
  2. Open Free designer store and pick a store name
  3. Create design, choose product, upload image, create text if desired, resize image as desired.
  4. Post design for sale "Post for Sale"
  5. Enter key words so customers can find your product. Good key words are essential.

Enjoy!!





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Friday, August 18, 2017

Blogging from the Heart at Treasures, Travel, and Tales

Blogging from the Heart at Treasures, Travel & Tales
In a world of structure that yells "niche, niche" all day, every day, I personally find it extremely refreshing to read a blog written in the old style, from the heart.  Of course niche blogs can be from the heart too, please don't misunderstand me.   But, I love having blogs to visit where I feel like I really get to know the author, not just a niche.  A place where the author tells me about the things she enjoys in life, from the best movie to her favorite soap, or breakfast.  

Who am I specially talking about, you ask?  Well, honestly there are several that I could name, but today I want to tell you about Dawn and her blog "Treasures, Travel, and Tales".  

The blog is exactly what the name implies.  Dawn shares with her readers about the treasures that she has found in life.  Her posts might be about her discovery of figs, roasted beets or pawpaws.  The next week, she might share about traveling to her "shack" in the woods where she plans to retire and how she cooks without a stove or oven in the place.  I frequently find myself laughing with the visual images she creates for her readers while reading her tales.

Treasures, Travel, and Tales is a journal of Dawn's life experiences and every article is an adventure for the reader to share.  Her site is definitely "blogging from the heart" and her heart speaks to mine.


Blogging from the Heart at Treasures, Travel, and Tales
This is Willy and his Chew Treats for Finicky Dogs


What to Expect from Treasures, Travel, and Tales


Review of the Website "Treasures, Travel, and Tales". The author, Dawn, shares with her readers about the treasures that she has found in life.
Keystone Kabins Park Model - Tiny Home Option
If an SEO (search engine optimization) expert stopped by Treasures, Travel, and Tales, they would be critical.  However, that same SEO expert would rip the heart right out of the site and that would be more than a crime.  

Treasures, Travel, and Tales isn't about ranking with Google.  It is about sharing with real people, not bots.  It is what writing online should be about.  It is what writing anywhere should be about.

Visiting Dawn's site is like walking beside a best friend as they experience things in life for the first time.  It's like sharing a musical with someone who has never seen Les Miserables before.  Or listening to a song with sentimental words that speak directly to a feeling we would never be able to express ourselves.

It is not just about the words in her posts either.  Dawn shares the photos she has personally taken.  Her love of nature shows in so many of her images.  She has a bee photo that makes you feel like you could just reach out and touch that little bumble bee.  (Yes, I am going to make you click that link to see the bumble bee yourself!)

Oh, and I don't want to forget to tell you that there is something there for everyone.  Even a crocheter will find a pattern to a crochet beanie hat.



Some of My Favorite Articles on Treasures, Travel, and Tales


Every article on Treasure, Travel, and Tales is a delight to read.  I do have some favorites that I have featured above and listed below, but they are just a place to get started.  I would love for you to visit the entire site to discover your own favorites.  I know you will find her honesty and wide-eyed exuberance refreshing and fun.

 



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All Photos in this Review are Used with Permission from Dawn at Treasures, Travel, and Tales
Cynthia



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Monday, February 27, 2017

Recipes for Real People a Site Review

Recipes for Real People is a recipe and kitchen website that offers recipes and food ideas that are quick, easy, and useful for everyday meals. From Aprons to Vegetables, you will find comfort food recipes, meal ideas, and kitchen gifts for you and your family.

Why I Turn to Recipes for Real People


I can't even begin to guess the number of recipe websites on the internet. So why would I turn to Recipes for Real People?  There are several reasons I look to this site for ideas. Just this morning I woke with many things on my mind. I have household chores to do, reports to write for work, and assorted things I would like to accomplish with my own website. I have to find a way to save some time today.

After unseasonably warm days, a thunderstorm rolled through last night and brought behind it a very cold and cloudy morning. I am craving comfort food and not sure what I have in the kitchen. After having spent the past few days driving around with the Jeep top open and enjoying the warm weather, I had no reason to buy ingredients to make chili or stew. But now it is very cold outside, the furnace is on, I am under the blankets, and I am craving something warm and filling. Something like stew or chili. However, to make either of those things, I'd have to run out to the store.

Thanks to a recipe found on Recipes for Real People, I have found a meal idea and won't have to go to the grocery after all.

I should clarify that I am writing this on Sunday and it will be published on Monday. On Monday I will be back at the office, hard at work - giving my time and energy to others. So I am especially thankful for time-saving ideas that allow me to spend more time on the weekends on myself. 

Hamburger Vegetable Soup Recipe


Susan's Hamburger Vegetable Soup recipe is just the type of thing I am craving.  Her four-ingredient recipe is easy and made from ingredients that are often found in the kitchen at any given time.  I do not currently have any fresh ground beef in the fridge. But I do have ground sausage. So I will substitute the sausage for the ground beef and have a filling, warm, comfort meal and won't have to leave the apartment today!  In fact, come to think of it, I have a few different cans of soup that I could use as substitutes for the vegetable soup in Susan's recipe. Perhaps I'll add the sausage to a can of creamy chicken soup.  I don't know. I will decide later.  But I am relieved that a trip to the grocery is something I can remove from today's full to-do list.  All thanks to Recipes for Real People.


 (photo by Susan)


A few more reasons I turn to Recipes for Real People


  • Recipes for Real People is a website owned by one of our Review This! contributors - Susan Deppner
  • I trust that Susan is sharing recipes that she cooks in her own home
  • these recipes call for few ingredients that are readily available
  • quick and easy prep recipes
  • leftovers are used in the Recipes for Real People kitchen - I am a firm believer in using leftovers



  • Susan's kitchen helpers are adorable


    Related Recipe Links


    The Review This! contributors share some of their favorite recipes on this site. The variety of recipes, meals, kitchen items, and food reviews that the contributors bring is amazing. From slow cooker beans and TexMex lasagna to buttery shrimp pasta and party menus, there is something to suit everyone's tastes. To see those recipes, use the Review This! recipes tab and scroll. Our own Sylvestermouse Cynthia enjoys food, entertaining, and the holidays.  She is the owner of two food-related sites Fun Food and Cooking for the Holidays.

    Fun Food focuses on "fabulous fun food". I swear some of the ideas shown are works of art!  From bright and colorful swirls of jello to snake cakes and food castles, these recipes are as fun to look at as they are tasty to eat.




    Cooking for the Holidays is exactly as advertised - meals, desserts, and appetizers specific to holidays and entertaining. This website is elegant and offers recipes that will likely never happen in my little kitchen for one but are perfect for those who enjoy celebrations and entertaining. 









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