Sunday, December 11, 2016


Monday, November 10, 2014

Phil Rickman

I found this book at a great bookstore in Columbus and had to read it. I like to read books set in the time of the Tudors. I've been fascinated by that time period since I was a child. This story is slightly unusual since John Dee is the main character.

It has all the fun elements of John's interaction with Queen Elizabeth, her secret romance with Dudley, a quest to Glastonbury to look for King Arthur's bones, a murder mystery, and a beautiful herbalist.

It was a fast-paced story which I enjoyed. Thankfully there's a sequel which I liked just as much.  I'm hoping there will be more in this series.

I'm also interested in reading Rickman's series featuring Merrily Watkins. It looks entrancing as well.

(If you click on the book cover, it will take you to Amazon. This is an affiliate link and I would earn a small commission if you buy the book from Amazon.)

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Apps that Pay Rewards for Receipts

I recently got a new Android smartphone that had autofocus so I could snap photos of receipts and barcodes and other up-close items.  I'd been hearing about Ibotta and Checkout 51, so I joined 4 of the top apps that pay rewards when you submit your receipts.  Here's how I'm faring so far:

Receipt Pal:  Just redeemed a $5 minimum reward
You can submit any receipt including online purchases.

Receipt Hog: I'm about 60% to earning a $5 minimum reward
You can only submit receipts for stores that sell grocery items.

Ibotta: I'm about 35% to earning a $5 minimum reward
You earn rebates on specific items purchased at specific stores.

Checkout51: I'm about 25% to earning a $20 minimum
You earn rewards on specific items but these can be from any store. There are also more generic items like milk, bananas, apples, yogurt, and others.

I also just heard about Snap by Groupon, so I'm installing it today.  It also has a $20 minimum, so I'll see how long it takes to earn.

(I'm not affiliated with any of these apps - just wanted to give you my opinions)

Friday, October 3, 2014

HabitRPG - Fun with Spooky Sparkles

(Click on the picture to see it full size)

I promise, this won't be a long post, but our Onwards and Outwards party on HabitRPG is such a fun bunch of practical jokesters!!

For Fall Festival, Spooky Sparkles were just released which lets you turn other people into ghosts for a day. So one member of our party decided to turn us ALL into ghosts. Of course, I had to take a picture. I'll probably be giggling all morning - it was such a fun way to start the day!!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

HabitRPG - Party with Lion Mounts

Click the picture to view it full size

I wrote last month about HabitRPG, a free online game that helps to reward productive behaviors.

I'm a member of an interactive, fun, supportive party. We've named ourselves "Onwards and Outwards" from a quote by Walt Whitman.

We find that questing keeps us motivated to complete our Dailies and To-Do's, so we try to keep an active quest at all times. Since we live in different time zones and different parts of the world, this can be challenging, especially if someone takes a big damage hit while other party members are sleeping.

In my last post, we had all earned Polar Bear mounts and were riding them.

This month, we spontaneously decided that we'd all try to get a Lion mount. There are 9 of us in the party, and each was trying to get a different type of Lion. There are 10 types of Lions you can hatch from eggs: Base, White, Desert, Red, Shade, Skeleton, Zombie, Cotton Candy Blue, Cotton Candy Pink, and Golden.  You determine the type of pet (in our case, Lion) by hatching an egg (in our case, Lion egg) with a hatching potion.

I took this picture of our party on their Lion mounts since I thought this was a huge accomplishment. We all were able to get a different Lion mount,  so we have 9 out of the 10 Lions in this picture.

We're planning something similar for Fall Festival which is an event that just started in HabitRPG, so I'll post that picture when we all get spookified in our costumes and scary mounts.

(I'm not in any way affiliated with HabitRPG - just a player having alot of fun with the game)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Coffee Substitutes

I'm on the hunt for a great-tasting, satisfying coffee substitute. One of my first symptoms with celiac disease is that I'm having bad reflux with is aggravated by coffee..

I'd been drinking decaf coffee with Acid Check acid neutralizer for years, and then suddenly, it started causing me stomach and esophageal problems.

I really enjoy the taste of a roasted beverage.  Tea is OK, but it seems too thin for me.  So here's what I'm trying (or have already tried):

- decaf green tea:  It's OK.

- decaf green tea with carob:  Much better. The carob gives it a little body and flavor.

- decaf chai tea (black tea):  It's better than plain tea and I really like the spices.

- genmai cha (green tea with roasted rice):  Did not like it at all

- Teeccino dandelion tea:  It's OK but the chicory leaves an aftertaste. It's an acquired taste.

- Ersatz coffee:  Have not ordered any samples yet.

- Roastaroma by Celestial Seasonings:  Really liked it, but it has barley so I'm not going to finish the package I bought.

- Other chai-type teas by Celestial Seasonings: I like them although they're a little strong on cinnamon-flavor. I've helped this by diluting it with another green tea bag.

- roasted chicory:  As I said above, it's an acquired taste.

- carob: Haven't tried it alone yet.

- roasted chestnuts:  Have not ordered any samples yet.

- roasted soybeans:  Have not ordered any samples yet.

I'll continue experimenting and I'll post any updates as I try new coffee substitutes.

I'm not affiliated with any of the sites to which I have links.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Imogen Robertson

I finished this historical mystery by Imogen Robertson and I'm ready to read the rest of the series featuring Gabriel Crowther and Harriet Westerman. The first one was set in 1780.  According to GoodReads, there are now 5 in the series, and I think our local library has them all.

I enjoyed the book and want to read the next ones to see how the characters progress.  Harriet Westerman is a forward-thinking wife of a sea captain who runs the estate while he's at sea. Her sister, Rachel, is also very interesting and I want to learn more about her. Gabriel Crowther is a reclusive anatomist who helps Harriet to investigate a dead man found on her estate.

There was also a parallel story involving alternate identities plus flashbacks to incidents in the American Revolutionary War.  It was nicely written and I'm anxious to read more.

(If you click on the book cover, it will take you to Amazon. This is an affiliate link and I would earn a small commission if you buy the book from Amazon.)


Friday, August 1, 2014


Click the picture to see it full size

I stumbled across HabitRPG a few weeks ago, and I'm having a blast playing this "game".  Let me start by saying that I'm a list-maker. I make lists for almost everything that I want to remember to do. I get a big sense of accomplishment by crossing items off my lists once I've done them.

So HabitRPG is all about lists and finishing what's on your list. But it's a role playing game, so you earn levels and rewards for completing tasks. It's also free, which I thought was great!!

There are 3 major categories of tasks: Habits which are activities that you want to reinforce, Dailies which are actions that you do often, and To-Do's which are one-and-done's.

The fun part is Quests.  You can join a party of other players (or a party of 1) and buy Quest scrolls. If you complete the quest, you can earn rare rewards.  That's how we got the Polar Bears that we're riding in the picture above.

There is an extensive tutorial about how to use the site, and other players in the Tavern are extremely helpful at answering questions from new players.

(I'm not in any way affiliated with HabitRPG - just a player having alot of fun with the game)

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Galen Beckett

I've had "The Magicians and Mrs. Quent" on my reading list for quite awhile now. It's like Jane Austen set on a magical island. I have to be a certain mood to read different types of fiction, and right now I'm in an 1800's mood.

This was a fantastic book, I'm so glad I finally read it, and I can't wait to read the next two in the series. There are 3 main characters (4 if you count Mr. Quent) and their stories interweave.

It has the fun elements of all the old gothic romances: governesses, locked rooms, secrets, dashing heroes, hidden family histories, and smart heroines.  Mix that with elements of magicians, illusionists, parallel worlds and it's a fun, captivating story that I didn't want to end.

I've already started reading the next in the series, "The House on Durrow Street" and was so relieved that only about 3 months had passed since the end of the first story. That way I felt like I hadn't missed much of what was happening in their lives.

(If you click on the book cover, it will take you to Amazon. This is an affiliate link and I would earn a small commission if you buy the book from Amazon.)

Friday, May 16, 2014

Tim Powers

I recently discovered the author Tim Powers through my book club. I found his book "Hide Me Among the Graves" then read that it was a sequel to  "The Stress of  Her Regard." Since I have to read books in order, I found it at my library. 

It's an amazing, mesmerizing book. It takes the historical poets Byron, Keats, and Shelley and weaves a vampire story into their history.  I looked up their biographies on Wikipedia and it was uncanny how Powers accounted for some of the major events in their lives.

"Hide Me Among the Graves" deals with the Rosetti's in the 1860's and I'm excited to start reading it next. 

(If you click on the book cover, it will take you to Amazon. This is an affiliate link and I would earn a small commission if you buy the book from Amazon.)

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Gluten Free Cereals

It's been about 5 months since my official celiac disease diagnosis, and at first one of my biggest hurdles was finding a cold cereal. I used to eat Honey Nut Cheerios almost every morning for breakfast.  So I started sampling the gluten free cereals to see which I liked the best.

It wasn't always easy because many of the gluten free cereals have no fiber, so they didn't keep me full through the morning.  But I found several that I like and here are my favorites:

Honey Nut Chex has a great corn crunch and a wonderfully sweet flavor. It's also available in grocery stores and is very reasonably priced. Plus General Mills usually has coupons in the Sunday paper.

Van's Cereals are sweet and crunchy and very filling.  I'd eat them even if I didn't have celiac disease. I was so happy to find them at WalMart, so they're also reasonably priced.

Glutino Honey Nut O's are also very good, but their texture is a little lighter than I prefer.  I also have to order these through Amazon or Vitacost since they're not stocked at my local stores, so they end up being  more expensive.

Barbara's Honey Nut Puffins are a fun cereal to eat. They're slightly sweet and have a great crunch. Again, they're higher in fiber than other gluten free cereals so they keep me full.  I have to order these through Amazon or Vitacost since they're not available to me locally, either.

So now that I have a selection of 4, I don't feel deprived!!

If you click on the cereal boxes, they'll redirect you to Amazon. These are affiliate links so I'd earn a small commission if you bought cereals from Amazon.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Amanda Stevens

I really enjoyed this creepy book (that's a compliment) about a professional cemetery restorer, Amelia Gray, who can see ghosts. Our library has it marked as a Romance book, but I wouldn't put it in that category.

This is the first of a series, and I already have books 2 and 3 checked out from our library.  Amanda Stevens, the author, did a great job of leaving little tantalizing clues about hanging questions that could be answered in future books.

One of the best parts of the book(s) is the rules for interacting with ghosts that Amelia is taught by her father. The author makes these seem so realistic and factual that I found myself wondering if they were somehow based on experiences. Which also makes the books a little more creepy.....

 If you click on the book cover, it will take you to Amazon. This is an affiliate link and I would earn a small commission if you buy the book from Amazon
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