Simple things I learned this week…

Old Lady Gif

I learned a few simple random things this week that I thought I’d share.

  1. Kroger’s bottled brand generic Ranch Dressing tastes like Hidden Valley Ranch & it is a lot less expensive.
  2. Aldi’s hot sauce tastes like Franks to me, and is in the same size bottle at a fraction of the cost.  It makes good hotwings. Aldi’s has great prices on produce. Also, their generic brand Dill Pickles are good.
  3. Red’s all natural burritos are much more 2-3x more expensive than El Monterey’s, but they are worth it.
  4. Avocado oil is as good as argan oil to me for my hair, and it is GREAT on skin. It is also less expensive.
  5. It’s definitely worth it to upgrade the Android version on a smartphone. My battery is lasting a lot longer and the camera now works better.

I’ve been participating in Bzzagent’s Kroger’s Store Brands campaign, so I have been trying new generic foods and paying more attention to them. The salad dressing mentioned in this post though, was provided free directly by Kroger via digital coupon. If you’ve not signed up for Kroger’s Digital coupons yet, I do recommend it- they usually have a Friday freeby and occasionally freebies just show up in my account as I find it pays to always check the items under their SAVINGS tab.

Joy & Karma Skin Care Products Giveaway- Easy Entry -2 winners!

The Signal by John William Godward 1899

Recently my son met someone we know in a store. Later, he said “Man, mom, it looked like someone had hit her with an aging stick. I thought you were the same age; I didn’t know she was that old!”
Well, it cracked me up thinking about an ‘aging stick’ slapping someone in the face, and BOOM! Instant OLD! But I smiled- I am a bit over 10 years younger than she is. I do really work at trying to keep my skin looking good as I am pushing ‘the big 5-0.

My best tips for doing that are:

  1. Don’t smoke- Studies show that smoking increases the aging rate of skin
  2. Drink LOTS of water & eat water rich foods, like fruits, cucumbers and melons
  3. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize!
  4. Use serums before the moisturizer. Serums are typically thin, and absorb readily. They quickly deliver vital nutrients to the skin. I use both hyaluronic and Vitamin C serums, and occasionally a retinol.

Hyaluronic acid serums feel so good on very dry skin. I use it often after facials or at-home chemical peels. I find them very soothing, and they really help lock in hydration & that helps plump fine lines.

Vitamin C serums are good to bring antioxidants to the surface of the skin, and help fight skin damage and dark spots.

Joy & Karma Skincare have really nice skin care serums. I enjoy using them and find that the Vitamin C serum doesn’t irritate my skin at all, and it has helped fade some slightly dark splotches I’d developed on my cheeks when gardening last year.

Winners have been notified!
Heather D., Marion, IA -1 bottle of Joy & Karma Hyaluronic Acid Serum
Belinda B., French Lick, IN 1 bottle of Joy & Karma Vitamin C Serum

a Rafflecopter giveaway

They’ve graciously agreed to provide one bottle of each to two different winners. Open to US residents only, 18 years old and up.
The rules are simple: Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter.
The contest ends March 31st,2015 11:59PM EST.
There’s one mandatory entry, and a chance for 2 bonus entries, and there’s no need to comment on this post unless you just want to. :)
There are 2 prizes – 1st place- 1 Hyaluronic Acid Serum (ARV $45.99) and 2nd Place- 1 Vitamin C serum – (ARV $35.99)
When the contest is over, I’ll contact the winners determined by random draw, and Joy & Karma will be responsible for providing and shipping the prizes. I’ll give you 48 hours to respond before I pick a new winner.


During this promotion, both these serums are on sale at Amazon for less than half price! It’s a great opportunity to try them or just stock up. They occasionally have sales like this, so I find it is worth it to join their mailing list.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, and I did receive free products from Joy & Karma to evaluate and use.

The Great Firewall of China Constrains Like a Too-Small Bra

Bras are so constraining- sometimes you just wanna take em off
The Great Firewall of China constrains their businesses like a too-tight bra, and one day, I expect everything’s going to spill over, or the whole thing will pop off.  I think it will have to.  It does not fit their ambitions to compete in the global market.

I only know the fake names they use in their emails to me- Suki, Charlie, Mandy- for some reason, there’s a lot of Chinese workers that take the name of Mandy.

The reasons they write me vary, but primarily it is to ask for my opinion of a product that they are either hoping to sell, or  are actively trying to sell to the American market. Usually they are all business, but occasionally our communication will continue and I’ll get a glimpse of the person I’m communicating with. For instance, last week Suki wrote me about being excited over Chinese New Year, and going home for a long vacation.

I can’t help but wonder about their lives. One Mandy in particular was hoping to sell undergarments to US women on Amazon, and confided to me that she would like to see her garments have the perfect sizing and quality to maybe be sold at ‘Nordstrom’ and big US stores ‘on the street.’

Sizes really confused her though. I had sold lingerie myself as a hobby business for years on-line, and, really hoping to help the American consumer get better merchandise, I thought I’d try to help.

There are, of course, obvious and constant issues, at least to most women, of the Chinese underestimating the size of Americans. They often consider their largest size, a 3x, as being actually smaller than our average woman, or about a US size 12! She seemed to have no concept of a cup size past a D being anything that might sell. Of course all this was easy to advise her on. She was really confused about how our 34B bras are not really 34 inches on the under-band, and that’s pretty hard to explain. (There’s some old convention still widely used in which they’d add 3, sometimes 4 inches to the measurement, but then elastic content matters too.)

I sent size charts, and found a wonderful blog that explained all this. I sent her the link.

I got an email back from her, and if it is really possible to see a face fall across the world though an email, I did. She wasn’t able to access the content. It was blocked.

I asked her if I could send her the information in the charts, but she said it might be a problem and probably best not to since it was blocked. She wanted to stay within the set limits.

Really, what an awful shame, though. The information was strictly about the bra market and industry standards here in the US for bra sizing- just the information she needed. The Chinese want to compete in a global market, and we often see the business advantages of them doing so- they often have cheap labor, and locally sourced materials, and subsidized shipping. But it is also clear to me that they have a very large disadvantage when it comes to competitive intelligence and product development. They can’t get the information they NEED to research what US customers expect, or to research quality improvement.

A free and open Internet brings the best of information with it. Yes, there’s lots of drivel that can be found on-line too, even accidentally, but at least Americans are empowered to decide for ourselves, and really, that’s what open access to information is – it’s empowerment to anyone that takes advantage of it. Watching her struggle to understand something so vital to her business as sizing has made me feel even more committed to an open and free Internet.

Handbag Workshop by Anna M. Mazur – A Book Review

Handbag Workshop

Design and Sew the Perfect Bag
by Anna M. Mazur
Release Date: October 14, 2014

This book instructs the reader on several very varied and pretty purse styles. I learned a lot from the first time I got this book and merely flipped through it. When it comes to sewing, one of my main interest is purses and organizers. This book covers some very fashionable styles that when made with quality materials, look very stylish and fashionable.
Each style is pictured, with step by step instructions on how to construct the purse and get that look. Along the way, instructions on hardware, preparing and applying trim, grommets, snaps, zippers, and anything else that one might need to know in order to make a beautiful, stylish purse.

I don’t recall ever learning so much from a sewing book. The instructions are clear, simple, and easy to understand. I highly recommend this one, not only for those of us interested in making purses and organizers, but also for anyone looking to work with leather- a lot of these skills will translate to leather work and trim skills for costuming and Cos-play.

5 out of 5 stars

Disclosure: I was provided an e-copy of this book by the publisher for purposes of review. My opinions are my own.

Python Battery- The Power to Jumpstart a Vehicle , and Charge Your Phone

As many of you that follow me online know, as an Amazon Top Reviewer, and Amazon Vine reviewer, I constantly review all sorts of items. Every now and then a product comes along that solves a common problem, or just delights me in its form and function, and this is one such item that does both. I simply LOVE it.

When I was offered to receive a Python, to be honest I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was intrigued that it would jump-start a car, or charge small personal electronics, but I imagined that it would be some big boxy looking battery. Instead a small black box that fit in my hand that weighed less than 1.25 pounds showed up.

This little device currently costs $89.95 and comes with battery cables, as well as a host of adapters for various small personal electronics. A full set of battery cables will normally cost at least $20, so I think it is an exceptional deal. Here’s what it will do:

  • Jump start a car or truck battery
  • Charge 2 small personal electronics at once
  • Function as a full size flashlight
  • Function as a flashing light
  • Flash an SOS signal

I’ve noticed it charges my Kindles and Android phone about twice as fast as when I plug it into a wall. I love that it is so portable. It gives me a lot of peace of mind as I am a bit paranoid about leaving my lights on when I park in parking decks. It’s small enough to fit in the pocket behind my seat, and not take up a lot of room. I simply love it. I tested it for several weeks, and it never failed or deteriorated in performance, so I wanted to share it with my audience.


Disclosure; I did receive the product free to review, but I’m not being paid for this post. The links, however, are affiliate links.