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Review of the Amazon Echo Dot

Posted by on May 3, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

I got my husband three Amazon Echo Dots last Christmas, and now that we’ve had them for four months, I’m ready to share our experience. Why three of them? Well, they’re small, and they’re cheap. They usually sell for $49.99, but they often go on sale for $39.99. With three of them, we have one in our bedroom, his office, and our living room/kitchen area. Some people actually carry one around in their purse, since they can be used with any wi-fi. From what I’ve learned online, the only difference between the more expensive Echo and the cheaper Echo Dot is the sound quality. However, you can easily plug the Dot into a speaker. You can spend $179.99 on the Echo for a better speaker, or you can buy a bunch of Echo Dots for the same price and use whatever speakers you already own. That way you can have access to the Echo in more than one room of your home.

I basically needed a gift for Christmas and decided on the Echo Dots after watching a few videos. My husband knew nothing about them when he opened his present, and he didn’t even set them up until a few weeks later, after he did a little research on his own.

That leads us to the month of January, with a new gadget in our open kitchen and living area. With three children, things quickly got annoying, and I learned that voice command is both a blessing and a curse. My nine-year-old son continuously played It’s Raining Tacos and Pen Pineapple Apple Pen. Every time he walked into the room he said, “Alexa, play…” It got to the point I was singing It’s Raining Tacos in my head continuously. And I didn’t like it!

It seems my thirteen-year-old daughter has a wild sense of music style, and she shared it each time she entered the room. My fifteen-year-old daughter just played loud and hard music to annoy me, even though she doesn’t even like it. My husband, who hardly ever listens to music, often played jazz in the background. I like jazz, but we have a different taste in that genre. After a week of listening to his music while in bed at night, I started telling Alexa to play something else. Then I would hear, “It’s my gift. You bought it for me.” Things got pretty interesting each night in our bedroom. I will admit to randomly saying, “Alexa, play whale sounds,” while we were trying to fall asleep. I also learned that my husband likes Marvin Gaye. It’s amazing what happens when you get a voice activated gadget in your room.

Oh, and then there was the night my children tortured me with Barney and Irish heavy metal folk songs. My husband was on a business trip, and later that night, the Dot kept coming on to play a Barney song while I was in bed trying to read. I thought my children had broken it with all the songs they had tortured me with, although that Dot was the one in the living room. However, my husband called, and I learned he figured out how to turn the Dot on while in a hotel room far away. He saw that the children had been playing Barney, so he kept turning it back to that. He would wait about ten minutes before doing it, so it took me a while to get bothered.

Luckily, the newness wore off within a month, and everyone stopped giving Alexa a command every time they entered the kitchen. Since that was the worst of it, we got off easy. It seems one little girl made the news when she told Alexa to buy a doll house and a large box of expensive cookies, costing her parents quite a lot of money. I don’t know if my husband set the Echo up to make purchases from Amazon, but I’m thinking he would use a password if he did.

For me, I love that I can give a voice command to time my tea or cooking while in the kitchen, and I can add to our grocery list when I notice we’re low on something. I also like that I can ask about the weather and set a morning alarm without any hassles. It’s also helped with some of the children’s homework when we’re struggling to find an answer. Overall, it makes life a bit easier, but it still has a long way to go before becoming awesome. The majority of the questions we ask can’t be answered, and I’m considering buying Google Play just to see if that’s better. It’s good for simple things for now, but I predict its capabilities will continue to grow. The future is open to great possibilities.

Oh, and although some people buy the Dot to create a smart home, we haven’t bothered with any of that. That requires extra purchases, and we don’t live in a small apartment. To upgrade our devices, it would cost quite a bit, and we’re not ready just yet.

Have any Alexa stories you want to share? Leave them in the comments below. I’d love to hear 🙂

               

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The Farmers’ Markets are Open!

Posted by on Apr 25, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

It’s that time of year again. The outdoor markets are opening, and the farmers are starting to bring in fresh produce. Although I live near a few year-round markets, I love this season the most. Living outside of Atlanta, I’m blessed to be surrounded by many farmers’ markets, and last Saturday my husband wooed me by taking me and our youngest son to two of them. (Yes, I consider it wooing, as I don’t think he really enjoys them.)

I bought a gallon of strawberries, and we ate them in less than 24 hours. Freshly picked–they tasted SO yummy! Maybe this weekend we’ll save some for a strawberry cheesecake.

Then there were the variety of fresh greens. I immediately washed them and ran them through my salad spinner. (Moisture is the death of salads.) I put them in a large, glass bowl and sprinkled some fresh wheat grass over it. To keep everything crisp, I put a folded paper towel on top and sealed it with Cling Wrap. I set it in the fridge and boiled some eggs. For lunch, my son and I enjoyed our delicious salads with strawberries for dessert. I smiled when he looked up from his plate and said, “Who knew fresh tasted so much better?” He had just complained about the chia seeds I sprinkled on his salad, but after taking a bite, all was forgiven.

It was a beautiful, sunny day, and with all those yummy goodies, my husband decided to grill some salmon to go with the corn and zucchini. I made a batch of biscuits last night for this morning’s breakfast, and we enjoyed the local honey with them. It’s now Tuesday, and I sent the last of the salad to school with my son today. Luckily, there’s a Thursday market at a local church, and I look forward to bringing home more fresh produce.

Oh, and I just have to share the exciting news! Okay, I know most of you don’t live near me, and this won’t be exciting for you. It’s a “me moment,” and I just need to express my happiness. The town I live in actually did a bit of rezoning so that a piece of land in the middle of a residential area could be turned into a farming zone. It’s actually on the same road as my tiny subdivision, which means I could easily walk to it. It’s still in the beginning stages, but next month they expect to have the little store built. Do you see what this means? I live in a residential area, but I will soon be able to purchase freshly picked yummies without any hassles. It really doesn’t get any more convenient than that! They’ll even have eggs from happy chickens!

They have volunteer opportunities, but I don’t have much time for that at the moment. Maybe next year I can get involved. I have a few garden plots around my house, but I’m not really doing anything with them this year. I may plant some herbs for cooking and teas, but I don’t see me trying to grow a lot of vegetables any time soon. I’m too far behind with everything else.

What’s your favorite thing about farmers’ markets? I’ve lived in eight states–rural and suburban–and every market has its own uniqueness. Although I miss a lot about living in the country and personally knowing the farmers, I highly enjoy the variety of offerings in the Atlanta area markets. Last weekend I tried goat yogurt for the first time, and I plan to start adding it to my smoothies instead of kefer. My son actually loved it straight!

If you’ve never thought much about your local farmers’ market, I hope you’ll give it a try. My son was right about the taste of freshly picked produce. There’s a different taste. It’s fresh and much healthier. You should give it a try.

 

 

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Is Iams Dog Food Killing Dogs?

Posted by on Apr 19, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

As some of you already know, our little Gigi passed last summer from natural age issues, and I waited until about two months before bringing home two more dogs. I’ll type a separate post later on how that came about, but it happened while the family was away. I was kind of supposed to only get one dog, yet somehow brought home two. Oops–I guess my husband should have responded sooner to my texts 🙂

This post is mainly about Maisy, a miniature schnauzer who was around two years old last summer. She was covered in dirt and had a large scab on her back when I got her. Terrified and needing a major haircut, I just couldn’t let her go back home with the man selling her. After I got her, I drove an hour away and bought Maggie, a spoiled, black cocker spaniel, who was about nine months old at the time.

Both the sellers told me they used Iams Naturals, so when I took the dogs to Petsmart that evening, I purchased a bag of Iams’ highest grade food called Iams Naturistics, grain free. I started Maisy on the new bag of food, while I fed Maggie from the bag her seller gave me. It was the next level down in Iams Naturistics, and it was for puppies.

I quickly learned Maisy had some health concerns. Not only did she suffer from extreme anxiety, but she also had worms and needed spaying. We easily cleared the worms and scheduled a date for the spaying. However, we had to postpone the surgery when she developed extreme (I do mean extreme) diarrhea.

At first, I thought her stomach problems resulted from me going on a family vacation for a week. My older niece lived with us at the time, and she cared for the dogs while I was away. She kept the house quiet, and she knew my routine–perfect for an anxious dog.

Shortly after I returned home, Maisy’s stomach couldn’t handle her food, and the vet put her on medication as I began to feed her chicken and rice. During this time, I searched online for the best dog food to help with a sensitive stomach, and I chose Taste of the Wild. While waiting for the order to come in, I put Maisy back on the bag of Iams, and I began to feed it to Maggie since she ran out of her bag of food.

That’s when I realized it wasn’t just Maisy’s anxiety. It was the food. Maggie’s stools began to get runny and turned the same brown color (matching mucous and all). Maisy’s stomach had settled by then, but the troubles began again when she started eating the Iams. After a Google search, I soon learned MANY people had the same issues with Iams. I read many people’s reviews describing the same exact color and mucous poops on Consumer Reports–not only from regular dog owners, but breeders as well! Dogs have died because of Iams!

I’m not saying their food kills every dog, or even makes them sick. However, it’s clear to me that their brand does have a negative–and even fatal–effect on some dogs. With my own experience, I saw it in both dogs. Thankfully, Chewy’s order came in quickly, and I started the girls on their new food. Things immediately cleared up, and I’m happy to say they’ve been great ever since.

As a dog walker and pooper scooper, I can honestly say that Taste of the Wild gives a healthy, firm texture every time. (I can’t believe I’m typing this, but the consistency does make things easier.) I know what to expect, and there’s no surprises from the food.

I also found another negative on Iams while doing my research, and even if the brand didn’t make dogs sick, I’d advise against using it after seeing the video on how they treat their testing dogs. I’m not going to link that video, because I watched another video of a high qualified vet explaining what was truly being shown by the undercover PETA agent. She explained it in a more positive way, and she said Iams is trying to do better for their testing animals.

My advice is that you should thoroughly research dog food before making a decision. Don’t just go into a store and randomly select what you’ll be feeding your dog. A great online resource is Dog Food Advisor. That’s a place to start. I also read blogs and a lot of reviews before making my decision. Although that sounds like a lot of work, I don’t even have to go to the store to buy their food anymore. It’s automatically shipped, and it’s not something I have to deal with now that I’ve found the right brand.

I hope this helps someone. Stay tuned for a post on how I got my two little ones when I write about the joys of a rescue dog. Every little thing is a big achievement with an abused dog.

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A Real Life Fairytale Spotlight & $50 Giveaway

Posted by on Apr 11, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

 

Cinderella: a REAL life fairytale
If a dream is a wish your heart makes then Cindee Ellis is in major trouble. There’s no way Henry Christensen will ever notice her under all those oil stains and brake fluid splattered across her shirt. Unless—she’s dead wrong about him. Join her with this real life fairytale set in the small town of Silver Creek to find out how she’ll work her guts out to make her own happily ever after.

 

 

Beauty and the Beast: a REAL life fairytale
There’s a tale as old as time of two people falling in love, but what happens when Belle won’t have anything to do with it. Join her with this real life fairytale set in the small town of Silver Creek to find out how she’ll transform the town’s beast into a handsome prince with her heart, not her beautician skills.

 

 

 

The Frogg Princess: a REAL life fairytale
Taya is almost there. Join her in this real-life fairytale, set in the small town of Silver Creek, as she plans to start a new life by opening a little restaurant. Only to find a few rude people that don’t seem to welcome her. But that doesn’t seem to bother Felix Frogg, a local police officer, and the love-at–first-sight reactions he keeps tossing her way. If Taya isn’t careful with the way her heart is softening towards Felix, she could be walking into a lifetime commitment of happily ever after that wasn’t in her plans.

 

 

Excerpts

Cinderella: a REAL life fairytale

“Hey, Cindee, before I forget. You have a real nice day.”

I nod with about the blankest expression I’ve ever felt, and then he winks. HE LITERALLY WINKS!

My eyes are as big as I can stretch them.

Either Henry Christensen just did that on purpose, or he has something irritating his eye. I want to go with my first choice, but the second one seems more accurate. I’m the girl with no name, until just now, standing in a huge coat, so it’s gotta be the second choice, right?

“Henry? Is that you?” Priscilla’s sticky-sweet voice interrupts.

He doesn’t speak a word as he presses on the gas to slowly start backing up.

“I’ll stop by the station to pick up the trucks in a while. Make sure you’re there,” he says before quickly pulling onto Main Street where everything disappears, except for the faint glow of his brake lights that blink three times.

Is he saying goodbye? I know other girls back in high school had boys do this to them, but not me. NOT EVER. Not once did a boy tap his brake lights to me. I think I’ve died and gone to heaven.

 

 

Beauty and the Beast: a REAL life fairytale

“Thank you for this.” I whisper into Adam’s ear.

“For what?” He grins.

“For being the kind of man that makes a woman believe there’s a God in heaven.” I nuzzle into his shoulder and close my eyes as the preacher asks us to pray.

Once we finish, the rows of people begin to stand. I wipe under my eyes one more time just to make sure I don’t have mascara running down my face.

 

The Frogg Princess: a REAL life fairytale

“You probably shouldn’t be with a girl like me. I could corrupt a boy like yourself,” I tease, trying to ease the heat flooding my face. How could I push myself on him? I’m cringing inside at being so stupid.

“Nah, I’d happily go as far as you’d allow me,” he softly chuckles. “I just have a promise I made with my brother.”

“A promise?” I narrow my eyes.

“Yeah, we both agreed to wait for marriage.”

I stifle a gasp. Is he for real?

 

 

Praise for the Book

Five Stars: Couldn’t put this book down! This book has a way of not only making you feel what the characters are feeling, but it sucks you in where you don’t want to put it down, Not only have I read this book once, but I read it all over a second time. If you want to get lost for a few hours then I would highly recommend you read this book!!

Five Stars: Sooooo Good! I really enjoyed this novella. I was so happy with the ending. It was well written and kept my attention even when my Grandson interrupted for help on his homework. So happy he left the math worksheet at school. I will be looking for more of this author’s work. Hope you enjoy this novella.

Five Stars: A clean romance book! Jamie Brook Thompson has got some mad writing skills! She has talent that can take you to another world for a few hours! I recommend this book to anyone who needs a good chic book (like a chic flick but in book form 😉 ) to escape the real world for a bit! And who doesn’t love cowboys?!
Author Jamie Brook Thompson

Jamie Brook Thompson is a small town girl that loves to tell a good story. She grew up as the daughter of a redneck farmer and hippie mother. Her entire life has been filled with duct tape and peace and love. She currently has 6 children, two dogs, and a handsome Prince of her very own! When she isn’t writing, you can find her out at her father’s ranch changing tires on tractors, working on motors that need repair, or adjusting carburetors on the family four wheelers to ride the high Utah desert. She’s a woman of many talents and trades, but the one she enjoys the most is writing stories to take readers into a world of hope—a world of clean romance!

Website * Twitter * Facebook

amazon or paypal$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Giveaway

Ends 5/3/17

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Unexpected Beginning is Going out to First Round of Beta Readers!

Posted by on Mar 21, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Although I’m still going through the edits on the second half of Unexpected Beginning, I’ve sent it out to my closest beta readers (friends and family) to begin reading. While they’re starting their process, I plan to finish the second half of the book. I just need to stay ahead of them.

Once my first round of readers are finished, I’ll send it out to those who signed up to become a beta reader. After that, it usually takes about two weeks–depending on how fast they read–and then it goes live on Amazon. It takes a bit longer on the other online bookstores, but not much longer.

I apologize for the delay with this one. It’s not a writer’s block. The story was finalized in my head a year ago. I had a LOT of family distractions last year that pulled me in many directions, and I got burned out–exhausted–in every area of my life. I did get a complete story in my head out of it, which I plan to write after Unexpected Legends, the fifth and final book in the Alissia Roswell Series.

Hope you’ll stay with me, as I promise her story is something you don’t want to miss. Full of adventure and surprises, you’ll never guess what’s going to happen next! That’s my favorite part about writing–playing tricks on my readers!

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Sign up to Become a Beta Reader

Posted by on Jan 17, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

I’m still accepting beta readers for Unexpected Beginning, the fourth book in the Alissia Roswell Series. It’s currently in the final stages of editing, and I always like readers to go through it after the editor to see if they catch anything we missed. No special skills required, but you will need an eReader or app on your tablet. You just read it like you normally would, and if anything catches your eye, you’d let me know. It’s that simple. You’d get your hands on the story before it goes public, and I get my mind eased that nothing slipped through. (You’d be amazed at how many little things go unnoticed, even by an editor.)

I would prefer you read the first three books in the story before getting to this one so you don’t miss out on most of Alissia’s adventure. If interested, be sure to fill out the form below.

Beta Readers

 

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