Thursday, January 31, 2019

Auto Issues: Protect Yourself


I was in a minor auto accident on Tuesday night. The roads were slick. The Forester was in the shop (again.) So, I was using the Fusion to run orders, which is against my better judgment, but I needed to work. You see, the Forester is built like a tank and it ain't pretty. The Fusion, like most newer cars (yes, I consider 2011 to be a newer car) has a fancy-schmancy bumper which is painted to make it blend in with the rest of the chassis.
The young lady behind me kept going after she braked as her car slid on the ice and collided with mine. It was a very low-speed impact and there were no injuries, except to the paint on the Fusion's bumper. At least, that is how it appears.
I contacted the young lady's insurance company to get the ball rolling on getting the Fusion into the body shop. Had this been the Forester, I probably wouldn't even have bothered, but I care a bit about the Fusion's cosmetic appearance, and I don't want the body to start rusting at the spots not covered by paint.
The insurance company contacted me today, and one of the things the agent told me was that the girl's mother wanted to pay me out of pocket for the damages, which at this point are estimated to be around $400. I told the agent that while I felt bad that these people's insurance might go up because of a very minor incident, I did not feel comfortable doing that, because, from past experience, I knew that there could be more extensive damage than was visible in the photos I sent them, and that would put me in a bad spot.
The agent informed me of something that I didn't previously know: their customer could arrange to make payments to the insurance company for the repairs once they knew the total extent of the damage and thus prevent higher future payments. That made me feel better. It also seemed like good knowledge to pass on to others for future reference.
In a situation like this, I would rather deal with the insurance company than directly with the other party (or the family of the other party) involved in the accident. Doing so actually protects both me and them. It protects me from being short-changed if the damage to the vehicle is more expensive than the $400 quoted in the initial estimate, and it protects the insured from having an unscrupulous person (which I'm not, but if I were) claim that the damage was more expensive than initially estimated.

Safe travels!
~Cie~

Monday, January 28, 2019

Inspire Me Monday #212: Seeker Beware


Do you want to know what makes me feel really stabby?
Scams that claim you can make BIG MONEY RIGHT AWAY!!111!!11 by doing activities like blogging or taking surveys or writing or pretty much anything else.
The likelihood of anyone making lots of money right away from any of these activities is extremely slim, and the people making these claims are, I'm sorry to tell you, scammers.
It's not fun to hear that you aren't going to be immediately successful in your new ventures, particularly if you need money really badly.
The ugly truth is, these scams are preying on people's desperation.
I hate to tell you how many literal thousands of dollars I fed into scams back in the 1980s, 1990s, and on through the 2000s believing that THIS ONE was going to be THE ONE that would finally get me out of debt, able to quit my lousy job du jour, able to finally support my family without struggling.
Yes, people do make money blogging. Some people even make their entire living that way. The ability to do this doesn't happen overnight. It takes time and hard work. Some people find an audience sooner than others. Making money from blogging is a legitimate possibility, but buying into a scam program WORTH 666 KAJILLION BUCKAROOS, BUT I'LL SELL IT TO YOU TODAY FOR JUST 666,666 QUATLOOS!!1!!!1!  is not the way to make it happen. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
I've said it before and I'll say it a billion times more, and I'll keep on saying it till the day I die, and after I'm demised I'll come back on people's Ouija boards and say it:
DO NOT PAY FOR TOP SEEKRIT PAID SURVEY LISTS!
Did I ever do this?
Yes, I did.
Do you know what I discovered?
That these "top seekrit" paid survey lists give you the same links that a legitimate WAH blog like this one will give you free.
I make a small commission from sites like Cash Crate, Earnably, Fusion Cash, Inbox Dollars, Swagbucks, or Treasure Trooper if someone signs up through my link. You can visit my Paid Surveys page on this site for more and bookmark it to check for occasional updates. You will never be charged to join a legitimate paid survey site. Say "no thank you" (or something ruder) to those who would charge you for "insider information."
From an author standpoint, I have paid to have my poetry included in poetry anthologies. I paid thousands of dollars to Outskirts Press in the early 2000s to have a failed book and its failed revised version published. Outskirts Press said a lot of flattering things to me, and I swallowed the bait. I paid to have my books reviewed. I paid for them to write a press release. I paid for them to create an ebook version of my books on Amazon, something which I now do myself. I certainly wish I got $90 every time I uploaded a new ebook to Kindle.
I recommend that every independent author follow the Writer Beware blog. Forewarned is forearmed, or, as my old pal G.I. Joe always says, now you know, and knowing is half the battle. Besides, Ladies and Gents, we want the Real Prince, not the Frog-Breathed Fake. Again, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
You may be wondering how in the ding-dong-diddly-doo I consider this sobering information to be inspiring. 
Well...
I want to inspire you to save your time and money. I want to inspire you not to fall into flattering traps. I want to inspire you to real success, which generally comes on way more slowly than a montage in a feel-good movie. I want to inspire you to believe in yourself and trust your instincts, not to buy bag after bag of overpriced manure because some huckster is telling you that it will turn to gold if you just believe that you deserve it.
I want to inspire you to believe that you deserve not to be taken advantage of.
You really do deserve better than that.

Best Fishes,
Cie


Sunday, January 27, 2019

Top Five Apps and Sites for 20 January 2019 - 27 January 2019


Here are the sites and apps I interacted with most during the past week.

American Consumer Opinion has both an online site and an iPhone app. They may also have an app in the Google Play store. Many of their surveys are available on their website, but some are only available on the mobile app. It's worth having both if you have a smartphone.

I did some quick and easy surveys with Cash Crate, but, let's face it, the games are where it's at!
Personal reveal: I have had trouble with impulse purchases in mobile games in the past. People like to chalk problems like this up to stupidity, but intelligence doesn't have much to do with it. It's a neuro-psych dysfunction related to problems such as gambling addiction. Ridiculing people with such issues helps no-one.
The only mobile games I still play without getting paid for it are Fairyland on Facebook and the Sims Freeplay (which isn't free at all) on my Kindle Fire tablet. Knowing what I know now, I would never have started playing The Sims Freeplay, but I have a whole city with characters I love and their pets, so I've kept the game. I try to be very careful with making purchases and have a "think it over" policy to try and avoid impulsive buying. In-app purchases in mobile games are insidious.
Join Cash Crate instead, and get paid for playing games instead of paying to play!

Point Club does it again! This is a great survey site. I only wish I could get rewarded for telling you about them.

I just cashed out for a $12 Amazon gift card. You earn 10 cents even when you don't qualify for a survey. This is a mobile app. I know it's available in the Apple app store. You can also check the Google play store.

Panel App is available for iPhone in the Apple store and probably for Android in the Google Play store. Do me a solid and click the link to find out more!
I learned the hard way not to spend my points on sweepstakes with Panel App. Save your points and get guaranteed gift cards instead. You can enter the free monthly giveaway as many times as you like, and sometimes they have other free sweepstakes as well. The surveys from Panel App are quick and easy.

There you have this week's winners. I hope you might find one or more that is helpful to you!

~Cie~




Saturday, January 26, 2019

Cie Reviews: The Newness Apple Slicer



Yes, I ended up getting one, and yes, I love it! I give it a B plus. It does cut and core the apple all at once. It doesn't quite cut through to the bottom of the apple, but it's easy enough to give the slices a little push to finish things off.
It didn't come with instructions, so here are some pictures to show you how it's done.








I'll be happy to eat my apple a day now.
The blades on this item are sharp. Older kids should be able to use it with no problem after being shown how. I wouldn't recommend allowing little ones to use it. However, Mom, Dad, or a big brother or sister can easily prepare an apple for the youngsters using this simple slicer. Also great for cutting up apples for pies or making a cinnamon apple side dish or applesauce.

Bon Appetit!
Cie

Friday, January 25, 2019

Cold vs. Flu: What to Do


Personally, I think the name "cold" should be changed to "stressed and overcrowded," because it isn't cold that causes the virus to take hold. The microbes causing the symptoms known as the "common cold" are more likely to arise during the cold months when people tend to be indoors more often. However, they can strike at any time of the year. It's funny how a summer cold seems worse than a winter cold.
A cold and the flu are not the same things. There are a variety of viruses which can cause cold symptoms. The flu, or influenza, is caused by variant strains of the influenza virus. Influenza is tricky to deal with because it mutates readily.
It is fairly easy to distinguish between a cold and the flu, even though both have the potential to sideline the sufferer. A cold generally does not present with a fever. The flu always presents with fever.
Here is a handy chart to use as a guide:

Click to Enlarge

Children tend to run higher fevers than adults, but everyone is different. The rule of thumb is that anyone running a fever higher than 103 degrees (Fahrenheit) should consider the emergency room. In my case, a fever of 104 degrees is not uncommon, and I wouldn't take myself to the emergency room based on that alone. I say this with the caveat that anyone experiencing symptoms of the flu should seek immediate medical attention because antivirals are most effective in the early stages of the disease.
When it comes to fever, my rule is to let it burn, baby, burn. The fever is there to kill the invading microbes. Obviously, if a fever is dangerously high this rule needs to go out the window and the fever needs to be brought down. If you are running a fever that is dangerously high, stop reading this and seek medical attention, stat.
Rest is important any time, but particularly if you are ill. The illness will hold on for longer if you continue to push yourself to the limit. I know sometimes it's easier said than done but try to take a load off and let yourself heal. I say this as someone whose mantra for years was "I'll sleep when I'm dead." This really is not a healthy ideal and leads to stress-related illnesses. Unfortunately, altogether too many people have no choice but to push themselves well and beyond what is best for their bodies.
There is one important thing that both a cold and the flu have in common.
Repeat after me:
ANTIBIOTICS DO NOT KILL VIRUSES.
Antibiotics are completely ineffective against viruses.


Do not insist that your doctor give you or your child an antibiotic for a cold, or I will send this guy to your house to drink your beverages right from the carton.
A cold does not require antivirals, just time and a few OTC remedies with the potential to shorten its duration. Influenza viruses may respond to antivirals if caught soon enough. Neither illness will respond to antibiotics. Antibiotic resistance is something you don't want. Only use antibiotics for bacterial infections.
Hydrate well for both a cold and the flu. Some people swear by Gatorade or Powerade. I find that these beverages give me stomach cramps and gas. I prefer something along the lines of Pedialyte. This is one of those cases where I find that the store brand is just as good as the name brand. I can save a couple of dollars by buying Kroger's Simple Truth or Comforts for Baby electrolyte formulas instead of Pedialyte. It tastes just as good and is just as effective.
Plain black tea with a little honey and lemon is soothing and has beneficial properties such as a little additional vitamin C. I also like natural remedies such as Zarbee's, Emergen-C, or Airborne, which contain extra vitamin C and zinc. When I woke up at 3 A.M., I sounded a bit like a dying sea lion and my nose had become a snot factory with a broken off valve. I drank a cup of Zarbee's and so far am feeling better. I'll need to stop by the store later to pick up another box. I'm down to my last packet. 
The packet I drank was actually the first one I used during this illness.
Another thing that can help with a cold is to eat spicy food. The heat from chili peppers and the beneficial properties of garlic are antiseptic and immune boosting.
Chicken noodle soup is comforting and has beneficial nutrients. The chicken contains taurine, but if you prefer a vegetarian version, the spices in vegetable stock are similar to those in chicken stock. Sipping a cup of vegetable stock will have the same general positive properties as sipping a cup of chicken soup.
For a sore throat, small amounts of alcohol can be beneficial as alcohol has antiseptic properties. I always used to enjoy a sea breeze (cranberry juice and vodka) when I had a cold, but diabetes has made this a thing of the past. If you have problems with alcohol addiction, it goes without saying that having a cocktail to try and short-circuit a cold is not an effective choice.
I hope you can get through the "cold season" without catching a cold and particularly without contracting the flu. If like me, you wake up one morning sounding like a dying sea lion and you aren't a sea lion, some of the suggestions above may help you shorten the dying sea lion phase of your illness. If you are a sea lion, please seek help from your veterinarian instead.

To Your Health,
Cie

Note:
The "Scumbag Steve" meme is funny, and the real-life "Scumbag Steve" has a good sense of humor about it. Keep in mind that the character created from this picture is not real. The real person is a nice guy named Blake Boston, who is now in his 30's and has a family. The picture was taken by Blake's mother many years ago for a photography class. 
When some rather odious people found out that Blake's wife was pregnant, they said some rather heinous things which, obviously, made Blake's wife quite upset and made his mother feel like the whole thing was her fault for having shared the picture in the first place. 
I know none of you are the kinds of people who would ever do such a horrible thing. If you know someone who is that kind of person, you are cordially invited to cuss them out as you see fit. They deserve a full earful.





Thursday, January 24, 2019

Things I Won't Pay Full Price For: Pizza (with link to a great coupon)


I think it's safe to say that many of us love pizza. I pretty much lived on Little Caesar's the one semester I lived in a dormitory back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth. That blasted pterodactyl was always getting in the window and stealing my leftovers!
Pizza these days ain't cheap, and I'm on a pretty tight budget. So, I won't order pizza unless I have a darn good coupon for it.
I'm going to give you a link to a post by a lady named Laurie who runs a site called The Passionate Penny Pincher. In this post, you will find a link to a gol-darn good coupon for a large two-topping Dominos pizza for just $5.99 each. You need to hurry, though, because this deal is only good until January 27, 2019.
This coupon may have an expiry date, but the advice I'm about to give doesn't.
In these tough economic times, most of us need to tighten the proverbial money belt and, as my late father used to say, squeeze the eagle till it screams. For those of you not from the United States, this is a reference to the bald eagle which appears on certain U.S. currency.
I've always been a great fan of pizza. I hate to even say how much pizza I'm capable of eating at one sitting if I don't stop myself so I don't end up feeling like I have a giant lump of dough taking over my digestive tract for two hours post-consumption. Pizza tastes good, and it can actually give pretty good nutritional bang for the buck. However, most decent carryout or delivery pizza is far from inexpensive.
I ended up saving more than $17 at Dominos by using the coupon above. Two delicious large two-topping pizzas came to just $12.99, and, since I was my own delivery person, I was able to tip myself. I was ready to put a little something in the counter tip jar, but they didn't have a counter tip jar. Had I not used this coupon, l would have ended up spending more than $30 for the same two pizzas.
It is also worth it to join your favorite pizza joint's point club. Most of them have one. I accrued 12 points on this order. The points add up to free pizza down the line.
The takeaway from this post?
Don't pay full price for pizza. 
Follow sites such as this one and the site where I found this coupon (the Passionate Penny Pincher) to get great deals on pizza. You can also find some good coupons at Yay Savings.
Many pizza places have online-only deals. Check your favorite restaurant's website.
It may seem counterproductive for me to say this, given that I deliver food for a living, but when possible, be your own delivery driver. I am speaking here as a consumer rather than a contractor. Whenever possible, I pick up my own food which allows me to save on the tip. However, if you do end up ordering delivery rather than carry out, please tip your driver accordingly.
Now, hurry up and act on this deal, Chow Hounds! I know I'll be taking advantage of it again while it's still valid.

Bon Appetit!
Cie

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Kitchen Helper: Mini Silicone Loaf Cups


I raved to you about my love for the mini silicone baking cups which pretty much eliminate the need for disposable baking cups and help reduce the need for cooking spray or oil. The set I purchased also came with these adorable mini loaf pans, and I'd like to give a few tips for using these.
If you have a metal pan which is divided into rectangular sections to make mini cakes or loaves, you can line the sections with these and eliminate the need for cooking spray. However, I just put them on a baking sheet lined with a Velesco silicone baking liner to catch any drips when I was pouring the batter into them and baked them at 325 Fahrenheit for 20 minutes.
I would suggest not filling the mini loaf cups more than between half and two-thirds of the way full. I ended up with a bit of overhang filling them 3/4 full. This is more a cosmetic issue than anything else, and if you are going to frost them, you can always trim the excess.
These mini loaves or cakes would be wonderful for parties, either for adults or children. For a kids' party, you could even let the youngsters decorate their own mini cake, providing frosting and fun things like sprinkles or gummy bears. This might be best in summer months where you could set up a picnic table outdoors and let the tykes get as messy as they wanna be.
You could decorate the cakes to look like little cars for auto enthusiasts, either adult or juvenile. You could make a train with the mini cakes. The possibilities are endless.
I wasn't feeling quite that inspired when I tried out my mini cake/loaf pans. I just had a box of spice cake mix that I wanted to use up!
Just like their round counterparts, these mini loaf cups get the hat trick. They are inexpensive, they cut down on overall expenses over time by reducing the need for cooking spray and cupcake liners, and they easy (and fun) to use. They definitely earn the Seal of Approval!

Happy baking!
Cie


The Seal of Approval
Copyright Public Domain Pictures


Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Inspire Me Monday (on Tuesday) #211: My Wait Problem


Inspire Me Monday is a new blog hop that I've just discovered. So, even though this is post #211 for them, it's my first one. 
I'm going to play nice and keep this post family-friendly, with the caveat that my blog is not entirely family-friendly. There are no naughty bits here, but there is cussing. That is how I roll.
With the realization that I am not a petite delicate flower and that buttah does indeed melt in my mouth and I am on the opposite end of the spectrum from nice and normal, you may be wondering what in the blazes kind of role model I am and how in the Universe I could possibly inspire you.
Well...
I do not claim that I can inspire everybody or even anybody at all if you want the truth. However, if you are like me and get absolutely nothing from reading cheery platitudes by shiny happy people because you know you are the furthest thing from being what they are, then I may just be the bundle of snark that you need to light a fire under your butt and get you on the road to success, your way.
You see, I was sidelined for many years by being unpretty and unskinny and having a brain that was trying to kill me. I had a very serious Wait problem. Like most girls of my generation and the generations before and possibly the generations since, I was fed a line which involved living Happily Ever After. But since I was unpretty and unskinny and Not Normal, I had to Wait. 
First of all, I had to Wait for the Handsome Prince (TM) that was going to come and rescue me, because, you see, Girls are Petite Delicate Flowers who cannot handle making their own way in the world. They will need a Handsome Prince (TM) to fight the Beasties that live in the Wild Wood. 
However, before setting out to catch a Handsome Prince (TM) I needed to Wait until I became Slim and Pretty. Because a Handsome Prince (TM) will never see fit to rescue a maid who is unskinny and unpretty. 
The years went by while I attempted to become Slim and Pretty. There was a prince or knight or something who liked me well enough and I liked him well enough. It wasn't love, but we did have a son, who isn't normal--he's better. The prince or knight or whatever and I ended up divorcing, but we got along better afterward (as friends, not romantically) and became a Forever Family together with our son.
I did not, however, live Happily Ever After. I was still unskinny and unpretty and my brain was still a mess, and I was still Waiting to catch a Handsome Prince (TM) to save me from myself. I never did catch a Handsome Prince (TM), but I did let quite a few Knaves into my life before realizing that my son didn't deserve to be exposed to these abusive not-gentlemen, and, in fact, neither did I. So I stopped waiting for the Handsome Prince (TM). 
It would take a while longer for me to stop Waiting to be Slim and Pretty before living my life. Then one day when I was 45 years old, I was hit upside the head with a couple of bricks. One was called Health at Every Size. The other was called Size Acceptance. A bright golden light shone down on me as I realized that it was not necessary to be Slim and Pretty to pursue my goals. It wasn't even necessary to be young, which was a good thing, because I'd left that attribute lying in a ditch years ago.
Unfortunately, I still believed that I needed to be Adored in order to be Successful. I gauged the worth of my writing on whether I got a lot of comments. I gauged my own worth on whether I got compliments. I was often left disappointed and sullen. Despite shedding so much Wait, I was clearly still suffering from a tremendous Wait problem.
I needed to make a critical decision: either accept the fact that my work will never appeal to the mainstream, or stop writing altogether. Since I become a tremendously sullen sod when I don't write, I decided to stop caring about the opinions of others, whether it be their opinions of my writing or their opinions of me personally. 
At that moment, a great, rotting albatross and a millstone lifted from my neck, and I felt as free as I did as a young child writing and drawing and giving no rips what anyone else thought of my creations, simply enjoying the act of creating them.
At this point, I engage in a few different types of writing. One is non-fiction writing, such as what I have done here. This type of writing divides into subtypes. One is promotional writing, the other is anecdotal and possibly encouraging in nature, such as this post. The more sanitized posts appear on the Deliver Me blog and sometimes the Horror Harridans Writing Sisterhood blog. The more raw and dark examples of this writing can be found on the Crazy Creatives Cheerleading Camp blog.
I also write and edit fiction, which, again, divides into two categories. There is work slated for publication. You can view examples of this kind of writing on the Horror Harridans Writing Sisterhood blog.
I write poetry as well, but this tends to be confined to two times a year: April and October. The NaPoWriMo blog hop takes place in April and the OctPoWriMo takes place in--you guessed it--October.
On the Deliver Me blog, I also share ways to make a bit of extra income. I do not claim that I am any sort of expert, only that I have learned a few things over the years, and I would like to share them with you in case they might help you too.
I am not an expert of any kind. I don't offer up soothing platitudes, either religious or otherwise. I am an agnostic and prefer to keep my spiritual beliefs and theories separate from my business writing. I have had a difficult life and, while I'm less overtly angry than I was when I was younger, I can't say I've completely accepted the things that have transpired in my life, even if I do understand them better. I have not been "cured" of my psychological dysfunctions, I have simply learned to cope with them. I am not here to tell you "feel good" stories or to tell you that it's all going to be okay because I don't know if it is or not.
So, how in Hades can someone like me possibly inspire you?
As I said before, it's quite possible that I can't. However, while I can't make everything right for you, what I can offer you is this: 
Honesty.
Not just honesty about the products or earning opportunities I may recommend. 
Honesty about myself and the world as I see it. 
No rose-colored glasses.
Just bare-bones, bare-knuckled honesty.
It's unpretty, but it's real.
Personally, I've never gotten anything out of saccharine platitudes. If you don't either, you may find me a--dare I say--inspiring change of pace.
This is how I may be able to inspire you.

~Cie~


Cross-Posted to:

Monday, January 21, 2019

Product Recommendation: Silicone Baking Cups

These pretty reusable silicone baking cups work beautifully. The food doesn't stick, and they're easy to clean up. Just rinse in warm water with a little mild soap, let dry, and they're ready to use again! 
They need no oil or cooking spray so you can save money on oil or cooking spray and on disposable baking cups.
These baking cups get a hat trick: ease of use, low initial investment, and long-term savings. You can't beat that!
Try them with your favorite cupcake or muffin recipe, or use your favorite mix. I won't tell!

Happy Baking!
Cie



Sunday, January 20, 2019

Top Five Sites and Apps for 13 January 2019 - 20 January 2019


Here are the sites and apps which I used most during the past week.

Lucky Day is a phone app. I have an iPhone, and the app is available in the Apple store. You can check the Google Play store if you have an Android.
I have earned $8 so far playing scratch games with Lucky Day. It doesn't cost anything to play, but the earnings are few and far between. The highest payout is $10,000. If I ever win that, you'll hear it here first.
Enter code G9NKGOO to get 100,000 tokens when you start playing Lucky Day.

I earned at least 60 points from Point Club every day. I am close to a $25 payout.

It's that time of year again. You can use Quickbooks on your computer. You can get the app in the iPhone or Google Play store. You can use it to track mileage and enter receipts. It makes tax time easier. And one thing I know for sure: if I ever again procrastinate on doing my accounting and reporting my mileage for 10 months, I'm going to drag me out behind the dumpster and open a can of Whoop Ass on myself. Even with Quickbooks there to help me, that was odious.

The Badass Grandma image comes from the Creole Moon website. They are purveyors of magickal supplies. If you like, you can click the banner and check out what they have to offer. I am not an affiliate or associate of Creole Moon.

Cash out for gift cards from 4000 points for a $10 Amazon gift card, 10,000 points for a $25 Amazon or Walmart gift card, or 20,000 points for a Motorola Xoom Android tablet. Surveys are quick and easy.

Toluna has a lot of surveys, so the likelihood of qualifying for one is pretty high. If you like to express your opinion, they also have discussion areas and places to submit reviews. I have not participated in either of these areas.

That's all for this time. Come back and visit throughout the week to see what crops up, and then come back next Sunday to see what makes the cut!

~Cie~

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Let's Talk Coffee (again) and Stomach Issues


Disclaimer: The digestive issues I refer to are minor irritations. If you have a serious digestive issue, consult with a healthcare professional regarding food, drink, and medications.

A friend mentioned that she was having problems with stomach irritation and mentioned taking probiotics and cutting out NSAIDS and coffee. I mentioned that I have had a better experience drinking cold brew coffee as opposed to regular brewed coffee. I can drink brewed coffee for a while, and then the acid starts to upset my stomach.
This is not, however, true with all cold brew coffee. Starbuck's cold brew left me with horrific abdominal pain. I don't believe this is caused by caffeine, because it doesn't happen when I drink tea. This severe abdominal pain is also the reason why I can't drink colas (other than the fact that they taste like caramelized butt concentrate.) 
This is another reason why I love Gevalia cold brew coffee. I have never experienced a problem with stomach irritation drinking the concentrate. Admissibly, I do not drink my coffee black. I mix up the concentrate with equal parts of water and then add a bit of Nut Pods non-dairy creamer. With brewed coffee, I usually add a sweetener such as Stevia, or a single packet of sugar if I have forgotten the Stevia. I do not find that I have to sweeten the Gevalia cold brew at all.
Regarding stomach upset, I don't have a serious issue like GERD, but I do have very occasional acid reflux or heartburn. I find that Zantac or a generic version thereof does the trick to stop the problem. This is a very safe and inexpensive product for dealing with minor gastric irritation.
I am a firm believer in probiotics. I did recently get a Gourmia yogurt maker and am going to start making my own yogurt. I also take a probiotic with my supplements. They aren't all created equal. Many of the cheapest ones don't contain any live organisms at all. It is better to go with a trusted brand for probiotics.
As a reminder, I have been speaking about minor digestive issues in this post. If you have a serious digestive condition, seek the advice of a medical professional regarding diet and supplements.

~Cie~


Friday, January 18, 2019

One Step Forward...


This post contains profanity. If that's something you'd rather avoid, you have been forewarned.

My first instinct is always that mental health issues have no business on a work from home blog, and I try to keep the gloomiest bits away from the Deliver Me blog. If anyone is interested in reading my less filtered thoughts on the subject, those reside on the Crazy Creatives Cheerleading Camp blog. This post will duplicate on Deliver Me, Crazy Creatives, and Horror Harridans Writing Sisterhood.
However, the truth is many people who are interested in working from home wish to do so because they live with mental health challenges. Also, I have seen a lot of positive changes regarding the discussion of psychiatric issues not only since the long-ago days of my youth when I was warned by my father that if it came out that I had ever seen a mental health professional no-one would want to hire me, but even since I finally received a proper diagnosis of type 2 bipolar disorder rather than the vague "depression with anxiety" or the incorrect "adult ADD" sixteen years ago.
I think it is important that the discussion of mental health issues not be hidden away in a musty attic and those stupid mantras like "stop that stinkin' thinkin'" go extinct sooner rather than later. The idea that people who are always happy and upbeat (or can at least pretend to be) are somehow superior needs to be put out to pasture and to fall in a sinkhole. Behaving as if people who are depressed can just "snap out of it" and are a burden or "seeking attention" for being unable to do so causes self-loathing, which helps nothing. It also sometimes gets people killed. This is an attitude that needs to be gone.


As I mentioned previously, I have type 2 bipolar disorder rather than unipolar depression, but I don't tend to need a lot of encouragement when I'm euthymic or hypomanic, so I tend to address the depression component.
I rapid-cycle. The pattern changed a bit after I went through menopause. Each state used to last for about ten days at a time. They last a bit longer now that I don't have such extreme fluctuations in hormones. 
I prefer being in a euthymic state even though I can be super-productive when hypomanic. I can also be all over the place and therefore not terribly productive when hypomanic. I had been euthymic for a while, and then things slipped into hypomania. I knew I probably had trouble coming on when I started feeling irritable. That's often a sign that things are about to go south, and I don't mean that I'm about to head down to the Southern states and visit the places where my favorite Southern rock bands got their start while eating plenty of good barbecue. (That's a bucket list thing.) I mean that any positivity I have is about to be hammered by a landslide straight down the highway to hell, and I don't mean I'm about to take a journey on the astral plane and have tea with my favorite musicians who have traveled to the other side.
Sure enough, I woke up the morning after looking in the mirror and realizing that I was starting to hate the face looking back at me instead of being able to look at myself and simply say "well, there I am." I am well aware that no-one thinks I'm any kind of raging beauty, and I am very glad to give no fucks about that. In fact, my take on having someone compliment my appearance is the same as Ozzy Osbourne's was back in the early '80s when he was voted "sexiest male rocker" on a poll in one of the music magazines. Ozzy said: "I find the idea that people think I'm sexy fucking hilarious." That's how I feel about it too. I'm the anti-fashion chick and not even in the same Universe as sexy, let alone the same zip code, and I stopped giving a damn a long time ago and couldn't be happier. 
In any case, when I start hating the face I see in the mirror rather than being neutral about it, I know I'm on a downhill slide. And, indeed, I woke up wishing an asteroid would hit me and end my misery once and for all. I thought:  "here I go, about to lose every advancement I made while I was doing well." My imagination was in the toilet, my desire to work with any survey or GPT sites was lying out on the lawn with a bottle of Night Train beside its unconscious body, and I reflected on the fact that I'm in my 50s and living in poverty, which is not something that anyone wants to say about themselves. My "fuck 'em all" attitude was whimpering in the corner and I was filled with self-loathing and hopelessness.
There has been a trend of discussing "self-care" recently. I will admit that I loathe this term, but I can't think of a better one, so we'll roll with it. The "self-care" movement seems to be divided into two camps: those who think that "self-care" involves foo-foo coffee drinks and bubble bath and getting your nails done, and those who think that "self-care" means putting your goddamn nose to the goddamn grindstone and doing all the shit that you don't want to do but need to do anyway, you goddamn weenie. 
I honestly can't say that I find either of these approaches particularly effective. One is impractical and the other leads to self-loathing. I rather appreciate my son's hyperbolic take on self-care, and I will share that here.
My son said there is a certain faction of individuals, many of them who are on Tumblr, whose definition of self-care is: "if you want to shit on the floor, you should go ahead and shit on the floor. You do you!" 
This approach is self-serving and does nothing to actually make your life better. It simply relives a momentary urge by a bratty inner child. 
The second approach is to say: "If you ever shit on the floor, you are nothing but a goddamn loser who can't control your bowels, and you might as well jump off a cliff, you fucking asshole, because you'll never be any damn good!"
That approach isn't very effective either. It only leads to ignoring your own needs and hating yourself.
The third approach is to say: "Hey, Man, if you shit on the floor, don't beat yourself up about it. Shit happens. But the sooner you clean up the shit, the better you'll feel. You don't want to leave shit just lying around attracting flies."
In other words, acknowledge your issues and work with yourself to try and create a positive atmosphere. Praise yourself for small triumphs. Maybe getting the allegorical shit off the floor is all you're able to accomplish on some days. Acknowledge that you got the shit off the floor and now things are a little bit better because you took action. Go you!
I had a night where everything was going wrong and the icing on the cake was looking and seeing that my gas gauge was below a quarter tank. I decided against going to work because I was in a truly odious mood. With my job, I'm not on a given schedule. If I show up and log into the app, I work. If I don't show up, I'm not penalized. 
I was beating myself up for being a loser and not going to work. I really didn't feel like going to work last night either. But I went in for a short shift. People were happy to see me, and I felt better because I managed to go to work.
I'll never be a "real go-getter." I do very poorly with 9-5 jobs because I always end up depressed to the point of non-functional. I can no longer do extreme physical work, which I did for many years, because I start feeling weak, dizzy, and confused fairly quickly. But I can still work, and I can continue working to create other sources of income outside of the traditional paths. It won't happen overnight, but it won't happen at all if I don't keep trying.
I think I'm back on track. Hopefully, there won't be a big mountain of bullshit in my path to bust my groove anytime soon.

Always Keep Fighting,
Cie



Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Shop with Cie: My Prime Pantry Order for 16 January 2019





The star of this order is this adorable onion saver. I tend to use halves of onions quite a bit, which means I'm storing the other half of the onion in a plastic bag for future use. This means I'm throwing away plastic bags. With the reusable option, I'm not only saving money but reducing waste! For less than $5 you can have the exact product above (Hutzler onion saver) or you can choose from one of the other options in the search grid at the end of the post.
I also re-ordered my favorite Gevalia caramel cold brew coffee, and I ordered some trail mix and granola bars. I've decided that making my own snack packs rather than paying $3.99 at the store to get a snack box with about a dozen cheese cubes, about 10 pretzels, some apple slices, and a small container of trail mix will save me money.
I can buy blocks of cheese from the store and cut them into cubes myself. I can buy the pre-sliced apples from the store because, while I know I could slice my own apples (or just eat the apple, but I had cosmetic work done on my front teeth), having them pre-sliced and already in individual packs makes my life easier when I'm in a hurry. Slicing a block of cheese is easier than coring and slicing an apple.
However, I just discovered an innovative item which I've added to my cart for next time. Apparently, you can slice and core an apple in one fell swoop. That's my kind of device: save time and save money! I will let you know when I have it and how it works.

~Cie~


Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Review of Ship It by Britta Lundin


This is a duplicate of my review for this item on Amazon.

I generally don't write negative reviews. If I dislike something, I tend to put it aside. I try to find something I like even in things that didn't hit home for me. However, I never thought I'd find anything which made Twilight look like a literary masterpiece, and I found it in this book.
Claire, the heroine of the story, isn't just socially awkward, she's malicious. 
I know this is a work of fiction, but basic reality stepped out of the room when a television show geared to adults asks a teenager to become a consultant and adults confide sensitive personal information to this teenager.
I probably wouldn't have written a review for this book at all, except that Claire illustrates an extremely toxic aspect of fandom culture. She doesn't like being told "no," and she behaves in a vindictive and malevolent fashion when an actor who plays one of the characters she ships doesn't support said ship. She is disrespectful, self-absorbed, and unlikable. 
This book reads like not particularly well-written fan fiction. It was touted as being humorous, and I was hoping for a likable geek in its heroine. Instead, I found Claire, who is the sort of fan that no actor or creator wants. She is an obsessive backstabber. 
I probably would have liked Rico better if he didn't seem like a two-dimensional cardboard cutout. Aside from Claire, the characters were props with no particular distinguishing features to compel the reader's interest.
Perhaps the author was attempting to make Forest (the actor who refuted Claire's beloved ship) more unlikable through unflattering physical description, but "watery blue eyes" makes me think the poor chap is having an allergic reaction to something and needs a Zyrtec and some Visine, stat.
Regarding Claire's love interest, Tess: I want to care at least a little if the hero/heroine gets their guy/gal. The Claire-Tess romance seemed forced and I really couldn't care less. Tess was a prop, and Claire was self-serving and odious. Such a character would be fine if that's what she was supposed to be, but it isn't. She was supposed to be a sympathetic character.
Claire was a great illustration of the downside of fandom culture. Beyond that, there was nothing great or even particularly entertaining about this book. Perhaps Ms. Lundin's forte lies in scriptwriting rather than novels.

~Cie~

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Top Sites for 6 January 2019 - 13 January 2019


I'm instituting a new sort of weekly post featuring my top most-used GPT and survey sites during the past week. These posts will feature my top five winners in alphabetical order. This week's winners are:

In all honesty, I don't do that many surveys with Cash Crate, but I love this site for the games! The surveys they offer are on par with other legitimate paid survey sites, but the games keep me coming back. Sometimes doing surveys starts to feel like horrible homework. Games never do! You earn a penny per game played, which doesn't sound like a lot, but it adds up.

I primarily did searches and played their match-3 candy and Klondike solitaire games. 

Point Club gives you up to 60 points a day even if you don't qualify for any surveys you try. Once you have the equivalent of $25, you can be paid out via Paypal. I have done surveys every day this week with Point Club.

Qmee keeps the surveys coming fast and furious. These surveys tend to be quick and easy to qualify for.

Survey Savvy also has an app called Savvy Connect. I downloaded this to my PC, and I also have an extension in my Chrome browser. Currently, I am taking part in a study about Netflix and should earn $10 from this study after a month. They also have a lot of available surveys.

That's this week's top five. Who will rise to the top next week? The only way to know is to come back and see me next Sunday. Y'all are welcome to come back for the rest of the days too. You never know what I may have in store!

~Cie~


Saturday, January 12, 2019

Say "No" to Diet Culture

How to Have a Bikini Body:
Get a bikini
Put it on your body

I received yet another email touting those beastly "get paid to lose weight" apps. I'm not going to say which WAH blog source it came from, as several of them are on the bandwagon, but I will share with you my response.

While I generally appreciate your newsletters and am happy to receive them, I cannot tell you how sick I am of hearing about these AWFUL weight loss apps. Diet culture benefits no-one but the multi-billion dollar diet industry, and long-term weight loss is achieved by no-one but statistical unicorns. Only approximately five percent of people who diet keep the weight off. Most dieters gain back the weight they lost, and it returns with friends. 
Dieting promotes a starvation response. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starvation_response)
The body doesn't know whether its owner is trying to starve it to an unrealistically low weight to garner compliments or whether a famine has come on. It will react the same way regardless of the reason its nutrition is being curtailed.
See also Minnesota Starvation Experiment.
Yo-yo dieting is not good for the body, and dieting behavior tends to lead to disordered eating behavior in general. Dieting promotes eating disorders.
I do not say this as a person who is naturally thin and therefore doesn't have to "worry about" what they eat. I say it as a person who tried to hate myself thin for 33 years, as a person who still has to deal with the screwed-up relationship I developed with food as a result of our thin-obsessed culture.
Dieting, whether to "earn" money or win compliments is a bad thing.
I much prefer the ideas outlined in Health at Every Size. (https://haescommunity.com/) People do not need to be thin to be healthy, and they certainly do not need to be thin to be treated with basic common decency.

I also recommend reviewing these resources.

I understand that conventional thought holds to the idea that pursuing weight loss is a good thing. I believed it was too for many years, starting at age twelve when I became ashamed of my body because I developed hips and thighs and could no longer fit into a size 9 boys' jeans. I developed a very unhealthy relationship with food at that point, which persisted until I was in my mid-forties. I cringe whenever I see things like these weight loss apps. I will never promote them. 
I would hope to see a shift in consciousness regarding dieting during my lifetime, but I'm not unrealistic. This horrible practice is too deeply ingrained into Western society. Still, I will no longer stand by and allow it to do damage without saying something.
I hope you will review the resources I have provided. I wish you well regardless of your size. You do not need to be thin to be worthy of being treated well.

Sincerely,
Cie

I pledge that I will never promote diet or weight loss oriented products. I believe that diet culture and obsession with thinness are unhealthy and have done untold damage, destroying many lives. I believe that people deserve to be treated with kindness regardless of their size. 
Diets don't work. It's time to stop feeding the multi-billion dollar diet industry.