Monday, February 27, 2017

My Experience of the MileUp App & Why I DO NOT Recommend It

If you've been following this blog for awhile, you know I'm all about simple ways to earn free goodies.  I have participated in several programs (and remain active in a couple) and have used apps like ShopKick in the past.  I've honestly never had an issue.  Did some of the programs and apps take a little bit more work and patience than others? Of course.  But it was always a "what you see, is what you get," experience from the start.

But then I decided to try MileUp.  And my problem-free streak was over. If you haven't heard of MileUp, it's an app that collects your driving data and promises points that you can trade in for gift cards to places like Amazon and Target in return.  So the app is one that you download, set up an account, and that's it. It will automatically track the miles you drive (without having to open the app first) and you can check in every once in awhile to see how many points you've obtained. You can also participate in "challenges" which will give you extra points if you drive a certain amount of miles in a week.  If you get into a car accident with the app installed, MileUp promises to pay out $250 worth of points if you report your accident within the app.

I was skeptical of the app and did my research.  Why did they need my driving data? And why were they willing to essentially pay for it? The app was covered by major (reputable) news publications like The Business Journal. It was stated that the app was owned by Agero, who provides accident scene management and roadside assistance for clients like Progressive Auto Insurance, Toyota, and Ford. Ok, so it made sense.

At first, the app seemed great and I recommended it to a few of my close friends.  My miles were tracking, I received points after my friends signed up and drove their first 10 miles.  Amazon gift card, here I come, right? Wrong.  When I signed up, you needed 2000 points (you get 2 points for every mile driven) in order to cash out and receive a $5 gift card. Seemed doable. Then, a few weeks after I installed the app, the requirement changed to 4000 points to cash out. People who had been with the app from the beginning were pissed. When they signed up, the requirement was 1000 points. To be fair, MileUp doubled my points when the requirement change was made.  So, while I was slightly disappointed, I wasn't as upset as other users and understood that as the app gained popularity, the cash out requirement would probably increase.











So what was the breaking point for me? Why do I NOT recommend this app?

It's understandable that the driving data received during a car accident is pretty valuable to Agero.  After all, the entire point of the app is for them to "verify its ability to accurately determine when a crash has occurred" and then "sell that capability" to its clients. It's also reasonable to assume that not everyone who is using the MileUp app will experience a car accident during the time frame they have the app installed. But I did. Not long after downloading the app, I got into a car accident. Of course, my phone was with me. So the app picked up the data. I reported the accident that same day, provided all of the information asked for (including contact information), and was told (through the app) that it could take up to two weeks for my points to show up in my MileUp account  and I may be contacted by a representative if more information is needed. Ok, cool.

I waited for two weeks and still didn't see $250 worth of points hit my MileUp app. So I looked into contacting them. You can ONLY contact MileUp through the help section of the app. You may "leave a message" in the app and wait for a response.  But a  phone number and email address are not provided for contact purposes. So I left a message explaining I had reported an accident two weeks earlier and was looking for an update on when I should receive my points.  I received a response (in my email inbox) a couple of days later stating they needed more information from me.  I was annoyed. 1. Because they had my phone number and email address and I had not heard a peep from them asking for more information until I reached out and contacted them.  and 2. I had ALREADY PROVIDED THAT INFORMATION.  But I sent the requested info AGAIN that day. 

I waited a couple of days and heard nothing from the app.  No acknowledgment that they received my information. No response at all.  So I, again, contacted them through the app to make sure they had everything they needed. To this day, I have received no response. And, you guessed it, no points.  It's been over a month since I reported the accident.  I don't think I will be receiving my points, but they definitely received my data.

As if that wasn't bad enough, I suspect the app drained my battery AND made my phone freeze up and restart several times a day. All I know is that since I've deleted the app, my battery life has increased and my phone has stopped randomly restarting every time I try to do anything on my phone for more than 10 minutes. 

Other issues have been reported with the app.  A friend of mine downloaded the app right before going on a road trip. She would have been able to cash out by the end of the road trip had the app worked properly.  But about a hundred miles into her trip, her MileUp account reset back to 0. She couldn't get her miles driven back. So, not trusting the app, she uninstalled it. Others have had trouble with the app not properly tracking miles (giving credit for less than actually driven) and, of course, eating their battery life. 

I also wanted to note that before I downloaded the MileUp app, I saw a review in Google Play by a user complaining they had not received their points after reporting a car accident.  I figured the user was maybe a little impatient and had jumped the gun on writing that review since all of the other reviews were neutral or positive in nature.

 I also left a poor review on the app's Google Play page after my experience.  Today I searched for both my review and the previous review mentioned above and I have been unable to find either. They may still be there but buried at the bottom. I'm not sure.  But they are not visible after minutes of scrolling. (But I did find one review with a similar experience to mine that was left yesterday. Screenshot above.) It's also worth noting, that most of the poor reviews that were immediately visible (sorted by "most helpful") were written yesterday or today.

So my advice? Stay clear of this app.  There are much more reliable ways to receive freebies and gift cards without having to give your personal (location) data.

More screenshots of reviews below.



 

Monday, February 20, 2017

Making Car Journeys Bearable: Hacks For Tired Moms

When it’s time to make a long car journey, a lot of moms feel dread wash over them. After all, it can be a challenge to keep your little ones content when in the vehicle for an hour or more. And if you are the one driving, it can make it even more challenging to keep the kids busy. However, there are some things you can do to make it a tad easier. Therefore, here are some hacks for tired moms on making car journeys bearable.


Image Credit

Take plenty of snacks in the car

When you are in the car for an hour or more, it’s easy for the kids to start feeling peckish. And when they start to get hungry, their mood might begin to falter. And then they might start getting grizzly during the journey. And you might end up having to hunt down a rest stop so that you can find some food. So this doesn’t happen, you should make sure to take plenty of snacks in the car with you. After all, your little one can then eat the food to their heart's content while they are in the backseat. And you can just keep passing them the snacks to ensure they stay in a good mood to make the journey bearable for you.

Play games in the car

Spending time in the car can be boring for kids. After all, they would rather be playing at home with their toys. And they can’t understand why the car journey is so long. But to ensure they don’t get restless you should play some games in the car. For example, a classic game of I-Spy would go down a treat. And you could also go for games like counting the cars to ensure the journey goes quickly. That way, your kid won’t get bored during the trip. And you won’t have to deal with cries of ‘Are we there yet?’ for hours!

Take their tablet along in the vehicle


A lot of moms now take their kid’s tablet along in the car with them. After all, the kids are less likely to get bored if they are playing on their tablet. Just make sure you download plenty of games that they can play offline. You could even opt to get the MovieBox App Download from here which will ensure they can watch movies while on the go. Therefore, you can put their favorite TV show or movie on the tablet before you start the journey. And it will keep them quiet for the hour or two you are in the car.

Take a fun CD in the car

It’s also a good idea to take some CDs for the journey. If they have a favorite band or singer, you could play this for part of the journey. Or if they are still little, you might want to opt for some nursery rhymes to keep them busy. And you also could go for an audiobook if you want to keep the kids occupied. They will listen to the story, and it will ensure time passes quickly while you are in the car. Just prepare to zone out as it might drive you mad after an hour or two!
And make sure they have a blanket and teddy so that they can sleep comfortably during the long journey!

This is a collaborative post written by a collaborative writer.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Five Fabulous Hacks That All New Moms Need To Know

No number of parenting books can really prepare you for life as a new mom. You can have a rough idea of how it will all go. But it isn’t the same when there is a tiny little human in your arms that is completely dependent on you. So here are some things that I have learned along the way. That hopefully, will help any new moms out there. We are all in this thing called motherhood together, right? Would love to hear what you think.



image

Don’t Lose Socks

Baby socks are pretty tiny, and it is annoying when you lose one in the washing process. So wash socks in a delicates or lingerie bag. Then they will be kept all together, and it will be much harder to lose one.

Stain Remover

You need to get plenty of stain remover in the house. From projectile vomit to poop, there are going to be lots of different stains that you’re going to have to deal with. When your baby is a little older, it will be food and juice stains, as well as things like crayon and marker. So one great way to always have a stain remover in the house is to make some yourself. Using two parts hydrogen peroxide and one part dishwashing detergent, you can make your own stain remover. Use it on the carpet; use it on clothes. One thing you’ll learn is that as a new mom, you’ll spend a lot of time cleaning and doing laundry!

White Noise

When babies are first born, they take a little time to adjust to life outside of the womb. So it is a good idea to create a similar environment for them. Things like ‘baby wearing’ in slings is part of that. But it is good to help them to sleep and to self-soothe where possible. White noise is going to be your new best friend! So you might think about looking for the best baby sound machines to invest in. Then you can just press play, put it in the nursery, and leave it to do its thing. Things like the vacuum cleaner and washing machine can also work to soothe a new baby to sleep.

Warm Towels

I am yet to find too many newborns that enjoy taking a bath. One of the worst parts of the process is getting them out of the bath. The air will be cold on their delicate skin, especially after being in a warm bath. So heat up a towel on a towel rack or radiator before getting your little ones out of the bath (Just make sure the towel is warm and not hot.) It will help a lot with the after bath screams.

Sew Clever

To avoid losing things like scratch mitts or mittens, it can be a good idea to sew a couple of stitches into them. Attaching mittens to a coat or mitts to a onesie will mean that even if they get them off, they won’t get lost. There is nothing more annoying than having lots of mismatched mittens!

This is a collaborative post written by a contributing writer.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Fitness And Fun: Awesome Activities That Tick Both Boxes

Hands up if you thought fitness could never be fun. If you dread the thought of dragging your body to the gym or you can’t bear the prospect of swimming lengths or cycling up hills, you’re not alone. For many, exercising has never been an appealing proposition. But what if you tried activities that are actually good fun? If you’re keen to jump on the fitness bandwagon and have fun at the same time, give these awesome activities a go.

Trampolining

Trampolining is probably something you associate with kids, but it’s suitable for all ages. If you’ve ever ventured onto the trampoline with your children, you’ll probably know that it’s hard work doing all that bouncing. Within seconds, your heart is pumping faster, and you’ve worked up a sweat. Trampolining is arguably more enjoyable than jogging or doing a 10km run on the treadmill at the gym, and it also works your entire body. Jumping is a strenuous cardio exercise, but it also strengthens your core and the muscles in your arms and legs.


Image by https://www.flickr.com/photos/nanpalmero/14627365069

Zumba

If you’ve not given this new dance craze a go yet, it may be just up your street. Zumba is a fast-paced dance-based exercise, which burns heaps of calories in a short space of time. You can take your friends along, let loose, have a laugh, and shape up all at the same time. If you love dancing, you want to spend more time with your friends, and you want to lose weight or tone up, try a Zumba dance class for fitness. You can start at beginner level and work your way up to more advanced routines as you get fitter.


Image from https://www.flickr.com/photos/schoeters/3611521865

Hula-hooping

If you’re keen to show off some seriously toned abs on the beach this summer and you don’t want to spend hours at the gym, hula-hooping could be the ideal option. This is a great workout for your core, and it’s also really fun. Once you’ve got the basics pinned down, you can work your hoop while doing classic fitness moves like lunges and squats.

Rave aerobics

Do you look back fondly on the days when you used to hit the dance floor on a Friday or Saturday night? If so, why not take a jog down memory lane, and sign up for a rave aerobics class? The music is loud and the movement frantic. You’ll burn loads of calories, you can go with a group, and you’ll feel incredibly energized afterwards.


Image credit https://www.flickr.com/photos/strelka/27946435873

PHIIT classes

Do you love Pilates or yoga, but want something a bit more upbeat and energetic? PHIIT is a combination of Pilates and high-intensity interval training (HIIT). The aim is to raise the heart rate rapidly and then drop it back down to increase the speed of fat burning. With this form of Pilates, you use specialist equipment to increase the resistance when you’re performing Pilates poses. You’ll take on short bursts of intensive exercise, which are followed by brief rest periods.

It’s a myth that fitness can’t be fun! If you’re looking for inspiration, hopefully, these ideas have got you reaching for your sweat bands.


This is a collaborative post written by a contributing writer.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

MAC Cosmetics Caitlyn Jenner

MAC Cosmetics is known for its collections of  vibrant, stand-out products.  But can they do the subtle as well as they do bold?  The answer is yes! And this is exactly what we see in the MAC Caitlyn Jenner Collection.  The color palette is mostly nudes and natural blushes with a few more dramatic shades thrown in.

The eyeshadow in Worthy is one of those more dramatic shades. A rich plum color, Worthy is a great option for glamming up for a night out without resorting to the typical black/grey/brown smokey eye. The Blush Duo gives you a peach glow and bronze-y finish all in one product.  Use them separately or mix them together for a quick, natural, but noticeable, "glow-up." Speaking of glow, the Mineralize Skinfinish Natural gives the skin a dimensional finish that is key to perfecting any complexion.  It's light, smooth, and doesn't leave any orange-y streaks behind like some of its competitors.

Last, but certainly not least, are the lip liners.  Now, I'm typically not a big lip liner girl.  I used liners in my teen years in place of lipstick.  And I may do that again with Whirl and Soar for long lasting color.  These two are the perfect shades of berry with Soar being slightly more on the mauve side. They're smooth, non-drying, and highly pigmented without being lip colors you're iffy about wearing to the office.

And before I end this piece, I have to point out the packaging.  It's classy, luxurious, and gorgeous. When picking which products to use for the day, these products always catch my eye partly due to their shiny, gold packaging.

The Caitlyn Jenner Collection is available now at your local MAC counter or boutique and online at MACCosmetics.com

Boo! Scare and Prevent Lice With SoCozy

As parents, we've all heard the horror stories: Your kid starts school, picks up all kinds of germs from other kids, and...gets lice. There's something about lice that is gross, creepy, and slightly terrifying all at once.  And now, lice have become resistant to the typical treatments we use.  Lice that won't go away? Nooooooo.

My biggest question when facing the possibility of lice coming into our home was, "Is there anyway to prevent my kid getting lice in the first place?" The answer was an overwhelming "Yes!" from the parenting community. Lice preventative shampoos, conditioners, and sprays are now on the market to help proactive parents with the issue of lice.

The SoCozy Boo! line contains natural ingredients, such as tea tree oils and 9rosemary extract, to scare away lice.  It also contains good-for-your-hair ingredients likKeratin and Peppermint Oil.

This shampoo has a pleasant peppermint scent that my son actually prefers to his other shampoos. Over all it's a nice quality shampoo that leaves hair soft and smooth. I can't tell you if it's prevented lice because, thankfully, there hasn't been an outbreak at my son's school (knock on wood).  But it is a nice shampoo and conditioner that leaves hair feeling soft and fresh.  I've even used it on my own hair and I love the tingly, cool feeling the shampoo gives my head.

Want to give your household some ammo against lice? Pick up the SoCozy Boo! line available at Target.


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Monday, February 13, 2017

Get Back on Track After Life Happens

It happens to us all, right? We're going about our daily routine, ducks in a row,  and then...life happens:  Someone gets sick, something breaks in the house, someone breaks a bone.  And then, your daily routine comes to a stand-still as you deal with whatever life had just thrown your way.  And before you know it, you're playing catch-up.  Trying to get your routine back.  Trying to get your organization game back. 

I'm in the middle of that catch-up game right now.  I'm behind on laundry, clutter is slowly accumulating on the flat surfaces throughout my house, and I'm putting double time into writing to keep up.  The game is almost over, however.  And I have a few tips on how to get back to your ducks in a row faster.



One at a Time

Do one thing at a time.  Often times when we are behind on tasks we have a tendency to try to do everything at one.  While multitasking on small tasks can be helpful, trying to complete multiple large tasks at a time can create an overwhelming moment of realizing you have a bunch of partially completed projects all around you... but nothing actually done.  One thing at a time, one step at a time until it's done.

Write Everything Down

Most likely there is a lot going on.  And a lot going on out of your regular routine. It's hard to remember every appointment or every detail.  Take the pressure off of yourself and write it all down.  I write everything down in my planner*so that it's all in one place for my reference.

Enlist the Help of Others

This one isn't always possible.  But if someone offers to help or if you have those around you willing to help, ask.  Even if it's playing with the kids for an hour so you can get a few phone calls or running to the store to pick up milk, any little bit can help.

Cut Yourself Some Slack

Give yourself a break. Sometimes we don't have it all together and that's ok.  A little clutter isn't the end of the world. That pile of laundry will eventually be folded.  Ordering pizza for dinner doesn't mean you or your family will throw away all of their healthy eating habits. Things will eventually get back to normal. Smooth sailing will eventually return.  But until then, do what you can and don't guilt yourself for things being a little hectic or out of place. 

*Get $10 off your first order using this link

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Valentine's Day Gift Guide - Cute Cups for All

Love Potion Tumbler Back
Valentine's Day is just around the corner! And if you're still looking for a little something to give your loved ones I've got you've covered.  Now, it doesn't take a Pinterest Maven to know that putting little candies and treats inside of a cute cup or mug is an easy and adorable way to give the sweet gift of  candy on Valentine's Day.  But where exactly do you find the cups? After all, the cup IS the packaging and what keeps your gift from being... well... several loose Hershey Kisses.  Check out the options below!










For Her
Love Potion Tumbler - Papyrus - $14.95

THIS. So much THIS! How absolutely fitting and lovable (See what I did there?) is this tumbler? From the pale pink shade to the heart covered straw, this tumbler is not only darling, it's sturdy! Perfect for drinking iced coffee, tea, water, or any other beverage at home or on the go.

For Him
Crazy For Cookies Mug - Big Mouth, Inc. - $14.99



Eye-catching, unique, and a little silly, this mug is also practical. It's a treat plate and mug in one.  Perfect for that guy that likes a little snack with his coffee, tea, hot chocolate, or milk.  (I also really love the donut version of this mug!)

For the Little Ones
Target Valentine's Day Kids Tumbler - Target - $1

Yes! $1! I absolutely love Target for their seasonal/holiday themed dollar spot items.  This small tumbler is certainly worth more than a dollar.  It's sweet design and teal color keeps the tumbler from looking generic. More importantly, it's not flimsy. So your child isn't guaranteed to break this day one. 



Monday, February 6, 2017

Is Your Family Home Not Working? Inject A Little Harmony!

We all want to make our home the best place possible. Even more so when you have a family to think about! Your home should be the place you feel safest. It should be a place of harmony, love, and safety. Even so, it can sometimes be hard to achieve. If you’ve been feeling that your home isn’t the peaceful place you would like it to be, start making a conscious effort. Harmony sometimes comes with little effort, but it’s sometimes necessary to put work in. Here are some of the things you can do to achieve the happy home of your dreams.

GET ENVIRONMENTAL

The more ethical your home, the better it will feel. It may seem strange, but the way you feel about your home will have a huge effect on the atmosphere within it! If your home is harmful to the environment, there will be a sharper edge to the relaxation you feel there. Those extortionate bills do their part to take the harmonious edge off, too! Solve the problem by taking small steps to help the environment in your home. Look into solar panels, and see about getting one installed in your home. Think, too, about how much rubbish your household produces. Is there any way you could cut down on waste, or recycle? Small steps like this will automatically make your home a better place. Be the eco-conscious person you’ve always wanted to be!


Image from Pixabay

KEEP THINGS POSITIVE

It can be hard to keep things positive at home all the time. When people are living together so closely, there are going to be arguments every now and again. Even so, make your home as positive as possible. If you, or your family, associates the space with negative energy, they may not want to return at the end of the day! Feeling that way about your home can cause major problems in your life. Again, small steps can make a huge difference. Inspirational quotes in the home can go a long way. Why not frame your favorite quotes and put them on display? You could even invest in a chalkboard, and pick a favorite quote each day. Think, too, about introducing plants into your home. Having a splash of freshness can make all the difference. You’ll all feel as though you can breathe easier with a touch of green around!


Image from Paulding County Area Foundation

FILL THE SPACE WITH MEMORIES

We all know that memories are what make a home. Ensure you have plenty of good times together. Filling your home with love is the best way to make it happy. Make sure to spend quality time together to create those memories. Film nights, and time spent playing games can make your home glow! It also pays to display personal photographs around your home. This will create a feeling of familiarity and comfort. Pick pictures of some favorite family moments, and use them to decorate your walls. Make sure to put up some pictures of you all while you’re at home, too!

This is a collaborative post written by a contributing writer.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Is Honesty the Best Policy When It Comes to Facelift Surgery?

When it comes to beauty we like to do what we can. We look for the best skincare, makeup, hair care, and nail care. But what about plastic surgery? It’s an option many men and women turn to when they just can’t seem to get the results they want from every day products. It’s a solution many say has changed their confidence level. But would you disclose your procedures? Or keep it to yourself?

Last year actress Renee Zellweger wrote a blog post denying she underwent facial plastic surgery after numerous tabloid articles fueled speculation that she had had "work" done. She's hardly the only celebrity who has fended off rumors about undergoing cosmetic surgery, but she also raised the question about the general fascination with knowing who did -- or didn't -- go under the knife.

"Not that it’s anyone’s business," Zellweger wrote in the Huffington Post, "but I did not make a decision to alter my face and have surgery on my eyes."

For the hundreds of thousands of patients in the U.S. who do decide to have facial plastic surgery, the question remains: How do you respond? Some patients are comfortable with others knowing that surgery has been performed and feel fine telling others — especially if a friend or acquaintance has provided a nice segue by complimenting you on "looking younger."

But this isn't true for everyone. In fact, many plastic surgeons say the goal of facial rejuvenation is to provide subtle improvements — subtle enough that people don't assume you've had any surgical intervention.

"In our experience," says Dr. Patrick Flaharty, a Naples facelift specialist, "most people wish to look refreshed and renewed, not altered or unnatural […] I can achieve a comprehensive rejuvenation while avoiding telltale signs of surgery, such as visible scarring, overly stretched skin, or incomplete results."

Still, much of the stigma associated with plastic surgery is eroding. RealSelf, an online community forum for plastic surgeons and would-be plastic surgery patients to exchange questions and answers, recently polled people about their perceptions of cosmetic surgery.

"While 'fake' indeed took a large percentage of our poll, it didn’t take the cake," they wrote. "[The] word 'beauty' was hands-down the most frequently used description, followed closely by the word 'improvement.'"

But if celebrities are more open about acknowledging getting breast implants or butt augmentation, there's still some hesitation about admitting to facial procedures. Even former Real Housewives of Atlanta cast member Kim Zolciak, who's been open and forthcoming about surgical enhancement of her body, became defensive when it was suggested she also got a facelift.

The trend toward greater acceptance of all cosmetic procedures, however, will almost certainly continue with Millennials, whose interconnected lives have made them in many ways more open and accepting than any generation before. Jordan Bailey, 25, is as likely to get Botox as her 57-year-old mother — and she has no problem admitting it.

"My generation doesn’t see anything wrong with getting work done," she says in a story about the popularity of BOTOX® Cosmetic injections among people in their 20s.

This isn't someone in Miami or Beverly Hills, either. Bailey lives in Minnesota.

And it's also worth mentioning that men are embracing the trend, too: Male breast reduction was one of the fastest-growing procedures performed in 2015, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS).


Written by: Emmy Owens

Health and Beauty Writer