BzzCampaign – International Delight Iced Coffee

Some of you may remember about a year ago when I wrote a review about some allergy medication. As a part of BzzAgent, I get the honour of trying a new product for free and spreading the word. This time around, I was selected to try the new Iced Coffee from International Delight!

Being a coffee hound, this was the perfect BzzCampaign for me, I love coffee, and love iced coffee even more! I was super excited to receive my kit containing coupons for free cartons of ID Iced Coffee and two AMAZING tumblers!  These tumblers have become a very well used staple in our household.  Hubs was super excited about them as well.

ID TumblersID Iced Coffee is ready to drink, a crazy good price, and comes in 3 incredible flavours; Vanilla, Mocha, and Caramel Macchiato.

IMG_6140

Vanilla

This flavour is smooth and creamy (well, they ALL are), with just the right amount of vanilla sweetness.  A tasty, cold treat, perfect for any Summer day.  I really, really like the Vanilla flavoured one, it’s light and too easily sippable (is that a word?), and could easily be my favourite.

IMG_6113

Mocha

This dark and chocolatey iced coffee is rich, creamy and sweet, and tastes like sipping a delicious dessert.  But it’s not too sweet.  It’s incredibly enjoyable on a hot day and I think that THIS one is my favourite.

IMG_6112

Caramel Macchiato

Golden caramel colour, and decadent caramel taste.  This one is so awesome!  Smooth and delicious, a real treat as an afternoon pick-me-up.  On any normal day, I’m not much of a caramel person, unless it’s salted, but this Iced Coffee flavour is incredible!  I take back all my previous statements, THIS one is my absolute favourite.

International Delight Iced Coffee is as good – no it’s BETTER – than iced coffee from the coffee shops that I have tried.  Hubs and I have become absolutely addicted to all 3 flavours, and ID has become a necessary addition to my afternoon routine.  I take a tumbler-full on my walks with Cupcake to beat the heat and get a little energy boost for pushing our 40lb stroller on the trails.

IMG_6114

Note: International Delight Iced Coffee contains milk and caffeine.  BzzAgent and International Delight provided the two tumblers and coupons for Iced Coffee to me for free. The opinions expressed in this post are my own (and Hubby’s, but I know he agrees with me).

Small Update and Spam Alert (make some money)!

So I haven’t updated my blog in a while.  I have been in a bit of a creative funk and have fallen way behind on my Temperature Scarf CAL and my Let’s Do 52 photo project.  The good news is I’ve begun plugging away at the scarf again, and I should have some updated photos for you soon!

But today I want to go in a completely different direction.  At the risk of sounding like the spam-bots that comment on my blog posts, and also like one of those bullshit blogs that makes wild promises, I want to share a secret with you.  Bare with me, and give it a read.

For about 2 years now, I have been doing online surveys for Brand Institute.  I do make money, but you will NOT earn hundreds of dollars, and this is NOT a work from home opportunity.  But it IS a good way to get a little extra spending money in your Paypal account.

When I signed up a couple years ago, at the time I was a Pharmacy Technician and this site was exclusively for medical professionals.  But they have branched out and anyone can sign up.  Now, apparently medical professionals make more money per survey, and I’m not sure what kind/the frequency of surveys non professionals get, as all of my surveys have been geared toward drug naming, based on my profession.  I get about 1-3 surveys a month, sometimes more, sometimes less, at $15/survey.  Like I said, a decent way to make a little extra cash, but NOT an income.  I call it my “splurging money” as I typically save it up to spend online.

Here is my Paypal summary for the last year:

paypal

The redacted ones are just personal Paypal transactions that include people’s names, so obviously I removed that.

So you can see in the last year I made $255 from Brand Institute.  Not bad!  Sometimes I went a month without completing any surveys, but some months I got 3!  For being broke-ass, I consider this a score.

Now let me explain how it works from my end.  I get invitations in my email to participate in a study.  I click the link and it takes me to a page where I agree to basically not discuss the information contained in the survey (drug companies, ya kno?)  And then I complete the survey, which, depending on the activity level of my busy toddler or my free time, takes up to 15 minutes.  Once completed, I get another email saying the survey completion is confirmed.  And now, something to keep in mind, I receive payment notice sometimes up to a month later.  Payment is not instant!  Brand Institute has to go through each of the surveys and confirm them for completion and accuracy, and this takes time.  But if you are concerned, you can keep track of all the surveys you have done, and their status on your Brand Institute home page.  I have been paid for every single survey I’ve done, except for the last few that are still pending payment:

payments

Also, as I was just looking around on my survey homepage, I just noticed that I have completed 30 surveys, but have been invited to 56!  Think of how much more money I could have made, dammit!  Why didn’t I do all of them?  Well, there is a time limit to get them done, and quite a few times I have put off doing 3-4 surveys sitting in my email inbox, only to click and find out they already got the number of people they needed.  So you gotta be quick, because quotas fills up fast!  Seriously, I’ve lost out on like $60 in one sitting.  *facepalm*

Alright, so you’re interested, but why am I only telling you this now?  Well, I wasn’t able to before.  Only a few close people to me knew I was doing these surveys.  But Brand Institute has now asked  it’s current participants to spread the word and recruit more panel members.  What in it for me?  Well, yes, I get a sign up bonus, not gunna lie.  And you can too when you recruit people as well!  Oh, and you don’t have to have Paypal either!

If you have ANY questions at all, leave a comment and I will do whatever I can to answer them.  It’s OK to be skeptical, I always am when it comes to anything promising to make me money and sounds too good to be true.  I probably would never have bothered with Brand Institute if I hadn’t received something about it in one of my official pharmacy industry emails years ago.

This is the first thing you will see on their website homepage:

Brand Institute is the world’s premier brand identity consultancy. Our brand agency portfolio of services includes brand strategy/architecture, name development, market research, regulatory and visual identity solutions.

Brand Institute is the parent company of Drug Safety Institute (DSI), a subsidiary comprised of former nomenclature safety experts from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Health Canada, USAN Council, World Health Organization (WHO), and extensive experience with European Medicines Agency (EMA) and Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW). This skilled and knowledgeable team provides our pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical device, OTC clients with name safety and marketing research services, providing the most efficient and proven paths to drug name approval.

So, now I leave you to sign up!

Review: Dollar Store Hair Dye

I regularly dye my hair, and have ever since my mother first gave me permission to do so over 15 years ago.  I’m naturally a dark brunette, but with a lot of natural red highlights.  I have been every colour under the sun, but I’ve always felt most like myself with red hair.  So while shopping in the dollar store the other day, I noticed they had hair dye.

Now I’m not against it, so I thought “what the hell”, and grabbed 3 boxes.  At $2 a box, it’s still cheaper than 1 box of my normal dye.

Here is a recent photo of me to show how dark my colour was:

Cons:

The quantities are very small.  If you have any length of hair, you will need more than one box.  I have thick hair that hangs to my shoulder blades.  I used 3 and it was perfect.  If I had used 2, it wouldn’t have been quite enough.

The colour gel and the developing cream don’t mix very well.  At times, I was worried I was putting straight developer on my hair.

It burns.  I’m sure you’re not surprised, but I have a normally itchy scalp that sometimes leads to raw spots, so I always have a tiny bit of burning when I dye my hair.  But this was an all over burn, that was fairly intense.  I thought it it lasted longer than 5 minutes, I’d have to rinse it all out.  Luckily, it went away fairly quickly.

It has to stay on for 30-40 minutes, which is much longer than the typical 20-25 for better brands.

It smells incredibly strong, there is no attempt by the manufacturer to mask the smell.  You might want to crack a window.

The conditioner packets are small and it’s not very good.  I managed with all 3 packets, and it did me fine, but it’s nothing like the awesome conditioner that comes with better dyes (the kind I wish they’d bottle), so you might want to use your own.

And last, (and this is just me being nit-picky), the kits come with those crappy gloves that are like two thin sheets of plastic fused together in a hand shape.  As a regular dyer, I had a good pair of rubber gloves on hand that I used instead.

Pros:  (Yup, there are some)

It didn’t stain my skin.

The cost is good.

And the colour is great!!

Yes, that’s right.  The colour turned out fantastic.

The Result:

I would never have been able to get colour this light and bright without first bleaching my hair.  I’ve attempted this numerous times, and it’s always a weekend long venture.  First, I have to bleach my hair, then wait a full day with a wash in between.  Then I’m able to apply the red on top, and even then it still usually turns out rather coppery/orange.  This picture was also taken indoors, away from the window, so the colour will only be even more vibrant when out in the sun.

All in all, I can’t say that I will never use this hair dye again.  I’m really happy with how the colour turned out, and I would be willing to use it again.  Mind you, I still have to see how fast it fades, but for $6, even if it fades in 3 washes I couldn’t complain.  I just feel like the end result outweighs all the negatives.  (That is, unless I start to lose my hair in clumps or grow a third arm).

As far as I noticed, there were only 3 shades available, blonde, brunette and red.  So I’d say if you enjoy a vibrant red, you should give it a try!

Lastly, just because I am wearing my favourite comfy t-shirt, I leave you with this:

Bernat CAL Clue 4

I have been getting very behind on my work (crocheting, blogging, etc.), and I place the blame squarely on The Hunger Games trilogy.  I started reading it less than two weeks ago, and I’m nearly done the third book.  So luckily, I will be able to catch up on my work when I don’t have something to distract me.

I’m behind in the CAL enough that I still have one piece to make for Clue 3.  I also made a couple pieces from this Clue 4, to see how well they come together, but Clue 5 is released tomorrow!  I really need to get on it!  I hope they give us a catch up week soon.

So for Clue 4, we finally get to use Colour D, and I think this might be the extent of it’s use.  We have to make 12 small squares, the same size as Clue 1, and it’s a bit of a shame, because I really like this colour and I wish I hadn’t chosen it as my D.  Oh well.  I think it will bring everything together nicely.

Row 1

They’re really going for variety in this afghan, but with total coordination (if that makes sense).  This week we get to use the popcorn stitch.  I think I tried this stitch once or twice before, but never stuck with it long enough to realize how easy it really is.  This square is only 3 rows, and I worried right up until the end that it wouldn’t be big enough.

Row 2

As you can see, this is how the variety of pieces continue to coordinate with the flower theme.  Only Clue 1 so far was the only piece without a flower motif.

Unfortunately, my pictures don’t do it justice.  I ended up taking them in the evening, using bright light that washed out the background.  And my Colour D, actually has a nice teal/greenish tint to it in daylight, that’s what I decided I really liked about it.

Also, this picture doesn’t seem to show the best detail.  I really like how these pieces look, they have adorable puffy flowers!  The pieces also turned out to be exactly the same size as Clue 1’s pieces.  My gauge may be cursed small from amigurumi, but at least I’m consistent!

All the info, patterns, and blocking templates can be found on the Bernat forums.  You can still join in, there will be weeks to catch up.  Or you can get the patterns to make later (they even have last year’s patterns available).

Bernat CAL Clue 3

This week’s pattern was a great challenge for me!  I was worried that my pieces would end up smaller than they should (same size as last week’s pieces), because I was concentrating so hard.  There wasn’t any stitches that I hadn’t already done, but they came together in a pretty tricky way.  I predict that this is the week that will put me behind.

We are to make 4 in Colour C and 2 in MC, much like last week’s, just with a different accent colour.  They are octagon shaped as well, and large.  I saw someone in the forums refer to this pattern as the “boy” version of last week’s pattern.

The pattern starts off with a circle, and creating “points” off of it.  I think my pieces look like little cartoon hands at this point.

Crochet around all the points and you have a flower, or I find it to be more reminiscent of a sun.

And finally, after some crazy DC’s and TC2Tog’s, you get the finished piece.  I was pretty disappointed to see how little definition there was between the flower and the border, and I thought that it might be from my tight gauge, but this piece turned out to be the same size as last week’s pieces.  Once again, I feel like both these patterns should have been made bi-coloured.  They would look so much better with the flower being one colour, and the border another, that would really make the flower motif pop.  I began to consider whether I should make another blanket after this one, the way I want.  Maybe with a select few patterns, but bi-coloured (or more).  We still have a ways to go, so some of the other patterns will probably be fun and interesting to really bring the whole thing together.  I’m still excited to see the final look!

This is my Colour C (last week’s pink is Colour A).  I was hoping that maybe it was the colour of my MC that hid a lot of the definition, but I find it to be the same with this colour.

So grab your hooks and join in the fun, it’s never too late!  Head over to the forums on Bernat for all the clues!

 

Bernat Crochet-a-Long Clue 2

Once again, I will say **SPOILER ALERT**!  If you are participating in the CAL and don’t want to know what Clue 2’s finished product looks like, then don’t read this post!  Instead, here is a nice, big picture!

This week’s clue is a really nice octagonal shape with a center flower.  I really like it!  It is considerably bigger than the pieces from Clue 1, and I’m going to assume those smaller pieces will be attached to the sides of these bigger ones.  The pattern was tricky, and rather wordy, which made for some confusion.  But I referred to the chart and it really helped clear things up, especially on row 5.

The blocking template calls for it to measure 11 inches wide, but mine is more around 9 (once again, the curse of amigurumi’s tight gauge), but since my pieces from Clue 1 were also a little smaller, I think I will just stick with it this size.  I’m still really on the fence about blocking.  I have never blocked anything before, and if I leave them all til the end to block, it will be a lot of work.  I guess I will just wait and see, and if it looks like my afghan will be far too small for my liking, I will block them.  Unfortunately, my pieces may be TOO small to block to the correct size, but on the other hand, stretching them out could be nice for showing better stitch detail.

I got a late start on this week’s pattern, mostly because I was finishing up that order, but also because I plum forgot!  The clues come out on Wednesdays, and on Thursday I remembered at hurried to the Bernat forums to get my clue.  I only have one in colour A (3 more needed) and one in MC (1 more needed) so far.  I hope we do this piece again somewhere else in the afghan, but with a colour change between the flower and the border, that would look really nice instead of one solid colour.  But I’m still really pleased with the results, and I love that I chose the pink as my colour A, because I will have 4 large pieces of this design standing out in my afghan.

I’m getting really excited to see the end result, but sadly, that is about 2 months away.

If you are interested in joining the CAL, it’s never too late!  Visit the Bernat website to find out more.

Bernat Crochet-a-Long

Image

So, even though I have only been crocheting for less than 6 months, I decided to join my very first crochet-a-long.  And what exactly is that, you ask?  Well, it’s a mystery!  Each week, a new “clue” (part of the pattern) is released, and you don’t know what the finished product will look like.  Not knowing how it will all come together is actually really exciting!  I know, I’m a nerd.

And I should take this moment to shout *SPOILER ALERT*!  if you are a part of the CAL (crochet-a-long), you may not want to read any further, as I will be discussing my progress!

The first clue was released February 15, and I had been waiting in eager anticipation for weeks before.  All the initial details for the project were outlined, such as how many colours of yarn you need, and how many skeins of each to get.  We also knew that it will be an afghan, we just don’t know what the pieces look like or how they will come together.

They had a recommended yarn for this project, the new Waverly for Bernat.  I decided to go with that, even though I could have used any other worsted weight yarn.  I made hubby drive me to the yarn outlet and I was a kid in a candy store!  So.  Many.  Colours!  I was pleasantly surprised at the great price for the Waverly, and despite the line having limited colours, it’s oh-so-soft.  Above, are the colours I chose, and my inspiration for choosing them.

Well the first clue was for 9 squares of my main colour (the light brown), and 1 square each of three contrasting colours.  I went with the pink, green, and teal.  The navy will be in other clues.  I was really happy with how smooth and easy to crochet the Waverly yarn was, and got right down to business.  The pattern was fairly simple, although I think my squares might be a tad smaller than suggested, I am cursed with tight gauge thanks to learning how to crochet with amigurumi.  They do suggest blocking (a stiffening/shape holding technique done with water), but I have never done that before.  Well, I have never made an afghan before either, so I will probably need all the help I can get with joining the pieces together.

Finished pieces for clue #1

If you would like to join in on the Crochet-a-long (or Knit-a-long) fun, you can find all of the information here:
http://www.bernat.com/2012mysteryafghan/