Saturday, September 29, 2018

Haiku Challenge

One of the hashtags I like to follow on Twitter is the Haiku Challenge. I had some inspiration last night and wrote a few. Enjoy!

The monsters are real They live in our highest house The children see all.

Who hears the soft cry Of the lost soul in the wind? We do, we do, love.

His fecal filled mouth Bloviates and blathers on As we sit captive.

Inspiration comes In the quietness of night Words captivate me.

Standing on the edge I leaned forward and hoped that Wind could catch my fall.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

What Is An Evaporative Cooler?

This was the first question I asked when New Air reached out to me again for product testing.

Seriously, I had no idea what it was.

Fairly quickly, I found that an evaporative cooler is sort of like an air conditioner and fan all in one. It is especially wonderful in dry climates as high humidity areas will render it ineffective. It arrived a few days ago and I have already put it to work!

I love this thing! It is a powerful tower fan as well as an evaporative cooler (2-in-1 FTW!) and it is so quiet! There are many functions that are so easy to configure.

It has an extra large five gallon easily removable tank that you will have to refill less. It has an oscillating fan that has four speeds with 600 CFMs of power with a range of 640 square feet. It's super energy efficient as well since I don't have to have the air conditioning cranking so high while I use it. And, it's portable! On wheels! With a remote! 

My laziness is overjoyed.

The best thing about it, though?
It's going to be absolutely PERFECT for camping/RVing!

I'm going to put it to good use, just as I have the portable ice maker, and have the best camping trips ever! I definitely won't have a problem finding a cool space with a cold drink in those hot desert climates!

Have you ever used an evaporative cooler? What do you think of them?

Monday, September 24, 2018

Building The Perfect Computer

Recently, I decided that I didn't have enough going on in my life so I began to start building my own computer part by part. It's something I have always wanted to do but never really had the time to try. Since I have all of the time in the world to do whatever I want now, I figured it was about time to tackle it.

It's not going well.

Don't get me wrong, I'm still trying but it's a lot more work than I originally anticipated. I'm pretty excited about the project and have been ordering bits and pieces here and there.

It's also pretty awesome that I'm getting a lot of help for the parts by Cherry Americas. I've written about some other products I have received from them before, and today I am excited to tell you about the Cherry JD-0800EU-2 DC 2000 keyboard and mouse

I thoroughly tested these out and found them to be excellent! The keyboard is nice and slim and the keys are whisper quiet! There are four hot keys as well: calculator, sleep mode, email, and browser. The optical mouse slides and clicks super fast and works for right or left handed folks. Both parts connect with a USB so that's convenient.  I love the price, especially, only $17! As with all of their products, it's very well made and has a two year warranty.

Now, if I can just get the rest of this new desktop I'm building together, I'll be able to use them all of the time!

Have you ever tried to build your own computer? How did it go? I'd love some tips!

Friday, September 21, 2018

Pure Luxury

When you hear the word luxury, what is the first thing that comes to mind?

A modern villa overlooking the mediterranean sea?

A full service spa where there is nothing to focus on but taking care of you?

Gorgeous furniture that looks like one million dollars?

A yacht with expensive champagne flowing amongst friends dressed in their  finest clothes with servers that cater to your every whim?

All of those things are quite luxurious, absolutely. I also have my own version of luxury: EXPENSIVE, HIGH THREAD COUNT SHEETS and SOFT, FALLING INTO A CLOUD BEDDING.

Yes, luxury bedding. Specifically, Silk THX sheets and comforter sets.

Everyone has their own idea of luxury, I suppose. For me, after a long day nothing beats when I hit the bed ready for a good night of sleep and I am surrounded by nothing but smooth, silky, fluffy bedding. Just to wrap up in all of that luxurious coziness is seriously what I wait for every day.

Just thinking about it makes me want to go back to bed and wrap back up in that silken Silk THX heaven, this early morning.

It's the little luxurious gift I can give myself every day.

So, what's your idea of luxury? Tell me in the comments below!

Monday, September 17, 2018

How You Can Be Proactive When Sharing Your Music

Many people love the idea of having a job in the music industry, and often that could be as a singer or songwriter, or both. Many have this dream, but how many of those people will actually have success? The figure can be quite small. But if you have a dream, you don't need to give up on it just yet. I wanted to share with you some of the ways that you can be proactive when it comes to sharing your music and your talents. I hope it gives you the inspiration you need to make it happen.

Use Social Media To Create A Following

Social media is a free to use platform, and you possibly share a lot of your life on there already. So why not create a separate page and dedicate it to your music? A facebook page could be a great way to share videos and live performances. You could also use other social media platforms like Instagram. Stories or Instagram Live could be a great way to showcase what you do. Social media can be a great way to build an organic following. Regularly sharing content can help you build that. 

Consider Sharing Content on Platforms like Soundcloud

There are platforms that are specific to music and sharing your own music. Like any platform though, you do need to be listened to and shared, so this is when you could look into companies that offer the facilities to buy soundcloud plays. This could give you a springboard to bounce off when it comes to future music releases and what you share online. Like anything, you want to be seen and heard, and this can be one of the best platforms in which to do so. 

Could YouTube Be the Way Forward 

YouTube is a fabulous platform to share content, and can work really well when it comes to sharing your music. You could even look at creating a video to go along side your music which not only helps with the hearing sound of things but could also help relate to people that are more visual. Another way to use YouTube would be to get in touch with people who already have decent followings, and ask to have your music showcased in their videos. They can give you the content for the music and also credit you as well. It can be a great way to ensure that you get the best of both worlds from this platform. 

Getting Your Music Heard As Much As Possible 

You do want to do your best when it comes to getting your music heard and one of the best ways to do that would be to continue to “gig” as much as possible. Headlining events, singing at parties, having a residency, doing what it takes to be seen regularly and have your music heard can not only help you reach out to people, but this also gives you valued experience in the industry in which you want to be part of.

I hope that these tips help you to be more proactive when it comes to sharing your music. Do you have your own tips to share?

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Can Litter Be Pretty?

We recently had a new addition to the family. Meet Sweetie Petie, the cutest kitten in the universe:

Oh, he knows he's cute.

I have had cats pretty much my entire life. I found my first cat behind our house when he was just a kitten when I was around 4 years old. He was a gorgeous orange and white Maine Coon and the very first love of my life. He, unfortunately passed away from a kidney disease when I was 7 and then I got a Blue Point Himalayan kitten from my aunt that I had all the way up until I was 20. She was the sweetest cat and my constant companion throughout my entire life. Time carried on and I had my Babalou Bear, which was also my children's first cat, then came Trixie and her kittens, Nugget, Tator, and Sammy. Then, Miss Angel who is now with my daughter at her apartment where she attends college with her other cat, Gerald who are healthy and loving and we plan on them being around for a long time (the only person in this world who is a better cat mommy than me is my daughter, for sure). Every time one of our cats had to go wait at the Rainbow Bridge, I was devastated.

Instant tears.

I have always been acutely aware of my cat's health and done everything in my power to keep them happy and healthy. Because of this, I stumbled across Pretty Litter.

Pretty Litter is a subscription service, and you know how much I love those, that sends you 2 bags equaling 4 pounds of litter every month! Pretty Litter is named as such because it provides an essential service when your cat uses it.

It changes color!

It is a monitoring litter that is dust free, lightweight, has amazing odor control, long lasting, and is super convenient because it is delivered straight to your door with free shipping! But, let's go back to the monitoring for a moment as this was what drew me in the most.

As your kitty uses the facilities, so to speak, the litter might change color. For example, red can mean blood is detected which may mean that Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disorder (FLUTD) is present. It could also mean bladder stones or crystals, kidney stones, bladder inflammation, certain types of kidney disease and clotting disorders. In rare cases it can mean bladder cancer or internal injury.

We don't like red.

Blue or dark green can mean there is high alkaline that can occur with certain types of urinary tract infections. This increases the risk of crystal or stone formation.

We don't like blue, either.

Orange indicates abnormal acidity, which may be indicative of metabolic acidosis or kidney tubular acidosis. This is the perfect environment for calcium oxalate crystals to form.

Nope, don't like orange.

Now, temporary color changes can happen with a new diet, new environment, or temporary stresses. Pretty Litter advises that if the color doesn't resolve within 24 hours, you should bring your furbaby in to visit the vet. The litter is a guidepoint to check for anything that may be off with your kitty.

So far, the Sweet Pete has had zero color change!

Do I have a deal for you? Of course! Right now, you can visit DealSpotr and get 25% off your first month's subscription sitewide! Just put in my promo code STEPHSTEB1 at checkout and your pretty litter will be on the way!

So, yes, absolutely litter can be pretty...and helpful!

Monday, September 10, 2018

Drone Obsessed

Drone video is infinitely interesting to me. It is amazing to me all of the new places and things that drones have found and recorded for the world to see.

As I have written about before, my husband and I are planning on eventually hopping in an RV and traveling the world. I have been dying to get a drone to document cool things and areas on said trip.

So, when Force Flyers reached out to me to try their 12" Discovery Drone with WiFi High Resolution camera, you can just imagine how excited I was!

Cooper the Pooper is always ready for an adventure!

I opened the box and began to put everything together. It has security guards for the propellers which you definitely need, as I soon learned. It has a video game type controller so that was totally easy to figure out. I connected the camera easy peasy lemon squeezy, checked the battery, turned the drone and controller on, and was ready to fly!

You have to download an app for your phone and connect the drone to the WiFi channel for the camera to work. It took me a bit to figure that out, typical user error for me. You don't need the app just to fly the drone but of course, I wanted to get some pretty good footage for this blog.

After a few false starts, crashes, and confusion, I finally discovered that you can change the app language from Chinese to English. This is extremely important as I had zero idea what I was doing until I started flipping toggle switches and found the switch for language. It defaults to Chinese language so this is important to know. I was just way too excited to look over the directions before I went out to fly which resulted in this being the only picture I was able to get:

Good job, me.

I need much, much more practice with it before I feel comfortable sharing any footage. 

My husband, of course, has picked it up immediately and I can't get a turn with it now!

If you would like to grab one for yourself, there is an insane deal going on through Dealspotr! Just enter my promo code STEPHSTEB here and get 60% off! Grab one and show me your drone footage! I bet it is one thousand percent better than what I was able to capture, heh. 

Have you ever flown a drone before? How did you like it? Tell me about your experience in the comments!

Friday, September 7, 2018

Mind On My Money, Money On My Mind

This has been the year of serious adulting for me. I bought my first house, got my dream job, and am going to be a grandmother in about 7 months (blog on that coming later). It only took me until I was in my 40s to do it, too!

All of these things have made me of late. There are about a million things I need money for and I have a very limited well to dip my bucket in. I am budgeting, I am saving, I am going without when I can and I am buying the absolute cheapest groceries in the world (thank you, ALDI!).

All of this and I still don't think I have a handle on everything.

It absolutely blows my mind when people ask me for advice. I guess a lot of people think I absolutely know what I'm doing. Well, most days, I like to think I do. When it comes to money, however, I am one thousand million percent lost. I always start out thinking I know exactly what I'm doing because I'm smart, right? I can handle this. No problem! If I cut back here and move a little over there, things will just work themselves out. Sure. Of course.

What do you mean the water bill is late???
Oh, that's right. I forgot that. OH, and I was supposed to buy the propane THIS month? That was supposed to be next month!

And on, and on, and on until I'm spun around and even more lost than when I began!

So, what do adultier adults do when they have no idea how to budget and finance? They go to the Google and look up consulting firms! To the Google I flew and read everything I could until my eyes almost crossed.  I was able to get back on track and begin actually saving money (for the first time in my life!). I found a lot of tips and tricks that I didn't even know about! It's easy to find a consultant/coach to help with anything you may be struggling with in life. There are life coaches, finance consultants, stock consultants, beauty coaches, fitness coaches, nutrition consultants, and shoe coaches!

Ok, ok. I made shoe coaches up, just checking to make sure you're paying attention. It would be nice if there were shoe coaches, though, amirite?!

With just a quick google search, I was able to find an investment/finance consultant that is helping me with budgeting and managing my finances, as well as advising me on investments and tax preparation! Whatever kind of consultant you are looking for, you are sure to find them starting with a simple web search. The reviews are there to let you know the best ones in your town, so utilize them! 

Then we can all be super adulty adults! Now, excuse me, I have a shoe coaching business to start, please and thank you.

Have you ever used the services of a coach or consultant? What was your experience like? Tell me about it in the comments below!

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Managing Your Money When You Work As A Freelancer

If you’re of the millennial generation, it can often feel as though the world of work and finance are stacked against you. It can feel as though your job never quite pays enough for you to live off. It can feel as though even though your lifestyle is modest and the little luxuries you can’t bear to part with are far from extravagant you keep sinking deeper and deeper into a financial black hole and your credit score is increasingly ruinous. Moreover, it can feel as though you’ll be stuck in the same dead end job forever, unable to progress in your career and earning a wage that means less and less in real terms with each passing year as the landlord inevitably hikes up your rent and inflation pushes the cost of living an inch further out of your grip.

The good news is that you’re not imagining things. The deck really is stacked against you, especially if you’re from a low income family and don’t have the bank of Mum and Dad to fall back on. Corporate wage repression keeps your wages low to insulate the bottom line of the company that employs you while an exploitative and under regulated private rental sector commands a great and greater proportion of your income in order to keep the roof over your head. As opportunities for career advancement grow fewer and further between, it’s little wonder that many forsake the rat race to take their careers and their finances into their own hands as freelancers. Yet, while freelancing is a great way to reclaim your freedom and make a success of yourself on your own terms, it is not without its financial pitfalls. Becoming your own boss is great, but it is a skill in and of itself, altogether different from the skills you take to the free market that make you a living. Here we’ll look at some money management tips to help freelancers on their way to financial security…

Take steps to improve your credit score

As a freelancer you have the freedom that your friends in the 9 to 5 rat race can only dream of… But you also rarely know where your next paycheck will come from, how much it will be and how long it will need to last you. This can make planning for life’s little emergencies problematic and you may need to rely on financial products like loans or credit cards should something go awry. While you can get decent financial products even if you have a less than optimal credit rating; American readers may want to check out this CashnetUSA review, the better your credit score, the more options are available to you. So, how do you improve your credit score quickly?

A debt consolidation loan may be helpful to you. It will not only make your debts easier to manage by replacing numerous direct debits with one single repayment, it will also improve your credit score as it replaces all of your existing debts. Managing your money as a freelancer is tricky enough without the yoke of personal debt around your neck. 

Get your monthly outgoings under control

When you’re starting out as a freelancer, you’re likely getting whatever work you can in a piecemeal fashion. Some of it will be well paid, some will not. Some of your clients will be reliable, others will have to be chased down for payment. And that’s okay. Assorting the wheat from the chaff and hustling for better work from better paying clients are skills that one develops throughout their freelancing career. Nonetheless, you can mitigate your financial risk by keeping a close eye on your monthly outgoings, especially in your make or break early years. How will you do this? Three ways;


Budgeting really works so long as you stick to it. Establish what all of your essential monthly outgoings are, establish what you need to live to a reasonable standard and use one of these household budgeting templates. If you stick to your budget, you’ll be surprised at just how easy it becomes to manage your finances, even if your income is sporadic.

Handling unexpected expenses

Despite your best laid plans, it’s entirely possible that something may go awry and disrupt all of your well managed finances. A leaky washing machine, car trouble, falling roof tiles, whatever the cause, an unexpected yet sizeable expense can prove the ruination of your precarious financial harmony. But if you box clever, you can handle this unexpected expense with aplomb. It’s simply a matter of using the right solutions.

If, for example, you have a significant payday coming from a client who has yet to make payment, invoice factoring may be beneficial to you. An invoice factoring company will give you instant payment for an outstanding invoice for a nominal fee. If you need quick access to cash, it can prevent you from needing to rely on a loan or credit card. If you do choose to use a credit card, take the time to choose the right one for your needs. Choose a card with an introductory 0% interest rate (here are some of the best ones) and make sure you clear off the debt by the time the introductory rate expires. If you’re unable to do this, it’s not necessarily the end of the world. Simply move the debt to a new card with a similar introductory interest rate. You will be charged a small fee but it will be nothing compared to what you save in interest repayments. 

Don’t forget your tax commitments

It’s absolutely essential that you set aside enough of your income to honour your tax obligations for the financial year. An accountant will be your greatest tool in preparing your finances for HMRC inspection but ultimately the responsibility for paying your taxes lies with you. Not your accountant, not HMRC but you. However, a good accountant will usually save you more than they cost!

Finally, be wary of the dangers of overcommitting, especially in your first few months. Sure, you’re hungry to prove yourself and eager to keep the money coming in… But if you burn yourself out the quality of your work, and your reputation, will inevitably suffer. 

Do you have any tips on managing money as a Freelancer? Post them in the comments below!