Green Works Perk

Green Works sent me a coupon for a full-size bottle of their bathroom cleaner via Klout Perks and I finally was able to pick up a bottle and use it this past week. Green Works Bathroom Cleaner

I have been looking for an alternative bathroom cleaner for some time so this Green Works perk came at the right time. We had two teenage boys visiting, making it a good time to test it. With five adult-size humans bathing every day soap scum was definitely visible.

The spray bottle has a good grip, does not stick up and provides good coverage without feeling like I am giving myself a shower. It did a wonderful job removing the soap scum build up without me pulling a muscle.

But the best part for me was I did not feel like I needed a lung transplant after cleaning the bathroom. Many of the bathroom cleaners we have used in the past take my breath away or the latest one, the fumes were so bad I had to wear a carbon filtered mask to actually be in the bathroom while I sprayed and scrubbed. Don’t get me wrong, Green Works still has a cleaning smell but I felt safer using it.

I found it in my local grocery store (Food Basics) and was surprised to see it was under five dollars.

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* Learn more about Green Works from the official website

High Liner Fish Klout Perk

I used the coupon HighLiner sent me via a Klout Perk to purchase a box of Pan-Sear Selects Tilapia (lime chili). The box contains 4 lightly breaded whole fillets for about $11.99 (CAN). It is a bit more expensive than what I would buy for fillets even though it only works out to about $3 per fillet.

Pan-Sear Tilapia from Highliner.

While I was at the grocer I picked up a bottle of tartar sauce, just in case, but never used it. I have eaten HighLiner products in the past so I am not knew to this brand. Normally I cook HighLiner fish according to oven directions but when I checked the directions on this box I found info for pan cooking without oil and decided to give it a try.

It only took 8 minutes on each side and the fillets were perfect (images are taken on my iPod because it is more convenient in kitchen). Frozen fillets in pan with no oil:

Highliner Pan-Sear Tilapia frozen fillets in non-stick frying pan with no oil.

They did not fall apart while cooking, albeit perhaps a bit greasy. You can see the moisture beads in the pan.

One side of the Tilapia cooked.

The lime chilli is quite mild but flavorful. Jeff who is not a fish eater ate a half portion without complaint. The cats of course could not get enough.

Chili Lime Pan-Seer Tilapia with rice and squash.

I enjoyed this product and I will probably buy it again if it goes on sale. There were a number of other flavors in the Pan-Sear brand that I would like to try.

Influencer Disclosure: I was given a free product or sample because I am a Klout influencer. I am under no obligation to receive the sample or talk about this company. I get no additional benefits for talking about the product or company.

Amanda Hocking

She became an internet sensation among young adult book readers when she started publishing her vampire books online (LuLu/Amazon/Barns & Noble) and marketing them herself, many for only .99 cents. Within a year she had sold a million books before she was picked up by a traditional publisher. I learned about Amanda Hocking earlier this year when she appeared in a short spot on Anderson Cooper. I have to admit I was originally attracted to her because she was plus size and thought she would be interesting on my plus size related venues. author, Amanda Hocking

Within a week I was downloading her My Blood Approves series (four books) from Kobo and seriously delving into the world of e-book reading via Jeff’s Blackberry Playbook. I was addicted and reading every night in bed, sometimes for hours; something I have not done in a long time. At the time when I purchased the books they ranged in price from .99 cents to $2.99.

I really enjoyed the My Blood Approves series which is what I would call a quick enjoyable read. There were a few typos within the books but really not much more than some of the traditional publications I have read. The story follows a young girl who meets a young boy who also happens to be a vampire and follows their journey of love and discovery as she joins his family of vampires. There was the usual vampire lore that we are used too but also a few new points of interest. Every one seems to want to compare young adult vampire books to Twilight and while there may be vague similarities there is no real comparison. I was sorry it was over.

When I finished with the vampires I moved on to the zombies with her Hollowland series which disappointingly was only two books. This series also has a young girls as the heroine and in this case she really is because hidden within her blood is a resistance to the zombie virus. Even though I am a zombie movie addict, this was actually the first zombie book I have ever read and while there were some scary aspects to it I had no problem lying in bed in the dark and reading it. So if you have not ventured into zombie lit yet this would be a good start.

I have taken a break from Amanda Hocking’s books at this point, only because I have so many on my desk I need to read and I really hate to dwell on one author for too long. But I am looking forward to getting into her Trylle trilogy, a paranormal romance that has been republished by St Martin’s Griffin and I think will be made into a movie someday soon.

Check out Amanda Hocking’s books.

Big Bloomers Review

Actually, it is not bloomers but plus size tights. The Big Bloomers Company, which does offer bloomers, sent me a collection of hose/tights to review for the Large and Lovely site at BellaOnline. It is the perfect time of year for hose somewhere but it is still pretty warm here. This is another good UK resource for plus size women in the U. S. and Canada. Read the Big Bloomers tights review.

Extraordinary Rendition Book Review

This past month Blue Dot Literary sent the latest book by Paul Batista, a “premier criminal trial lawyer”, to review. Extraordinary Rendition is a legal thriller centred around the issues of Homeland Security. Paul Batista's latest novel, Extraordinary Rendition.

Bryon Johnson is a high-priced Manhattan lawyer who has been working in corporate law for thirty years and is a well-respected partner at SpencerBlake Law Firm. As a big-time corporate lawyer he has remained out of the television spotlight and therefore the public eye for all of his career; until now. One day he decides to take on a pro bono case for Ali Hussein (no one seems to know for sure if that is his real name), who was arrested nine years ago in Germany.

“He knows where the money is.”

Ali is an proficient accountant who lived and legally worked in New Jersey for a decade but was not a US citizen. The government believes he moved around millions of dollars for Al-Qaeda, was involved in arranging an attack on the USS Cole, as well as bombings at an African embassy. The government wants the important banking information stored in his head — he has never been formally indicted but he has been moved around, interrogated, tortured, and kept without due process because of something called the “anti-terrorism bill” which gives the powers-that-be the “option to decide when to indict and where to indict”. So basically all trial rights are out the door.

Bryon first meets his client in Miami for the first time. Bryon is the first lawyer, first person, outside of his captors who Ali has been allowed to talk to and he is only allowed ten minutes. His first task is getting Ali to trust him enough to want him as his lawyer obviously he does or else there would not be much of a story to continue with.

Bryon has been divorced for six year and has two sons. When it comes to socializing he participates in the firm’s basic requirements but is otherwise married to his work. Early on in the case he meets the beautiful Christina Rosario, an overly intelligent drop dead gorgeous summer intern who of course wants our dedicated lawyer. While he becomes a bit infatuated with her he maintains his sense of professionalism and does not pursue her until her internship is over and she has left the building so to speak. He then hires her on as his assistant and she immediately becomes a fixture/distraction/love in his life all too easily he realizes but he does not care.

There are many quotes from the Koran throughout the story as Ali gets Bryon to share passages with his “brother” and the Imam (lead worship at a mosque). But the focus definitely is not on the Koran as a religion but as a tool to communicate secret information which ultimately gets Bryon drawn further into the government’s investigations and deceptions. Now the government is ready to charge him with acts of terrorism (or worse) unless he helps them get vital information from his client. Bryon soon realizes he has entered into a situation that goes beyond any form of the law that he has experienced and will have to decide what side he is on if he wants to survive.

While the story between Bryon, Ali, and the legal system is interesting and entertaining, some of the plot twists, like the sexy assistant being a secret agent, were predictable way back in chapter four. There were numerous sexual interludes, if one could call them that, mostly just old men walking around nude and admiring how lucky they are to be with a gorgeous woman also walking around naked. Floating statements like, “He nailed her to her cross” after one of the sex scenes are distracting from the story and not as gripping as the main parts of the novel I wanted to read and ultimately annoying.

Batista is deft at crafting dialogue for unnerving interactions like interrogations as he is with amusing banter between two opposing lawyers and other members of court. The streets and buildings of New York are a welcome character weaved throughout the story. Overall it was an enjoyable fast paced novel that kept my attention.

 

Swag Bucks Review

Earlier last year I started seeing a lot of tweets on Twitter about making money on Swag Bucks. In a nutshell: people use the search box on their site or a special downloadable toolbar to search for topics like they normally would through any search engine (Google, Bing etc.) except while using Swag Bucks they earn points. Other ways to earn points included watching TV ads and videos, answering surveys, and playing games (there are other options too). These points can later be traded in for gifts or gift cards (GC). You need a lot of points to get anything substantial. For example:

  • One $5 Amazon gift card was 450 points
  • One $25 Amazon gift card was 3150 points

For kicks I signed up via a referral link from someone I follow on Twitter and kept a record of my point accumulation for a few months.

May 5 – 83 points
May 8 – 282 points
May 10 – 301 points
May 11 – 325 points
May 14 – 359 points
May 15 – 394 points
May 16 – 416 points
May 17 – 502 points

As I mentioned above a $5 Amazon gift card (GC) is 450 points and a $25 Amazon gift card is 3150 points. Doing some basic math I noticed that getting five $5 cards for 2250 points required 900 less points that going for the larger gift certificate amount. To get my money’s worth, so to speak, I decided on working toward the $5 GC increments.

Once you trade in your points it can take up to a week to receive a digital gift card in your Swag Bucks account. “Most gift cards from the Swag Store are e-gift cards. These prizes are delivered to the ‘My Gift Cards’ section of your account within 10-14 business days of prize verification.” Then they have to verified and added to your Amazon account. It is not a super hard process but time consuming.

After redeeming 450 points for my $5 GC I spent 46 of my remaining bucks on a few entries in the Swagstakes area for bigger Swag Bucks (250 and 1000) giveaways and an iPad (no luck there).

May 17 – 6 points
May 19 – 31 points
May 21 – 50 points
May 23 – 117 points
May 24 – 140 points

On May 26 I got an email telling me that my gift card “order has been delivered to your account”. They can be left in your Swag Bucks account or you can take the code and enter them into your Amazon account under “your account” and “your gift certificates”. It was super easy to do so I would recommend putting them into your Amazon account immediately (that is the paranoid part of me).

May 26 – 192 points
May 27 – 216 points
May 28 – 245 points
May 30 – 285 points
June 1 – 629 points (2 surveys, one 250 points)
June 3 – 686 points
June 4 – 701 points

In June I submitted for $5 in PayPal money and received and email stating it would be “7 to 21 business days for payment email to be received”. At this point I also discovered Swag Codes which were special codes hidden within the site’s blog posts and elsewhere and were good for another 10 to 100 points if submitted in the special “gimme” area before the deadline ended.

June 4 – 1 points
June 6 – 6 points
June 10 – $5 paid into Paypal account.
June 23 – used points for $5 Amazon GC

After a few months I think I gained a good feel for Swag Bucks. Yes, you can definitely earn money via their method but it does require conscious thought and effort to work within their guidelines (they have strict guidelines so the system is not abused by users). For the two month period I earned $20 in Amazon GC and $5 in Paypal money.

In my opinion, this is not a suitable source of income when you take into account the time involved to make up the points. If you are already online anyway you can make an extra $5 to $10 bucks a month using their search engine a few times a day, playing a few games a day, doing a few surveys (which take anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes to complete), and any of the other options from their dashboard. But honestly, you are not being paid for your time — that is if you value your time — which you should. Not to mention the aggravation of spending 15 minutes doing a survey then being told you do not qualified (happens often and no points attributed).

That being said, it was an interesting experience and if you blog I recommend trying it out and documenting your results. This, of course, is my referral link which offers me points if you use it. At the moment I am not using Swag Bucks as a search option or participating in any other of their offerings (I have other ‘extra’ toolbars taking up space at the moment). Depending on how many people use the referral link provided I will update this post with further information on results. If you use it stop back and let me know how you like/hate it.

Going Home Book Review

I’ve reviewed young adults books in the past and some of my own favorite childhood books but this is my first requested children’s book review.

Going Home is a simple creative non-fiction book about the migration of ten interesting and varied animals for children aged 4 to 8. You can read the full review at The Homeschool Club.

Period Undies Review

My latest review for BellaOnline is the Period Undies. Grace SooHoo is the designer/creator of Period Undies for Simple Necessit-Ease Inc. It officially launched in 2006 with a small but successful test group. Period Undies are designed for women with the goal of protecting clothing from those accidental moments while menstruating.

Read the Period Undies Review.

Purina Maxx Scoop

The people at Purina Maxx Scoop sent me a kitty litter kit for review (by my kitties, not me) and I’ve been posting the progress over at my personal blog. You can read the review complete with candid photographs — don’t worry they are PG.

Bookmarker Flag Pen Bookmark Review

While I’m reading I am always using pens and post-it notes. If I have to take my book somewhere I always end up losing the post-its and pen in my purse (or end up forgeting to take them with me in the first place). So when Everyday Innovations asked me to review their Bookmarker Flag Pen I happily agreed.

It fits well in my hand and has a nice ink flow. The mini sheets are good for flagging and for making a short comment but I would like to see a larger note in the refill option instead of the duo colored one so it is easier to write a full thought. The pen is thin enough to mark a page without doing damage to the binding and the little red tab slides down to keep the ink of the pen from marking the page.

Read my full review for the Bookmarker Flag Pen at the Book-in-a-week blog.