Friday, March 06, 2015

True Healthcare Reform

Medical BillingThis whole Obamacare idea of requiring everyone to have health insurance or be fined for not having it, doesn't seem to have anything to do with healthcare reform or making health care affordable.  In fact, I have a friend who was quoted over $900/month for insurance - not remotely affordable.

True healthcare reform would mean that doctors, hospitals, and clinics would be required to charge reasonable fees - to everyone.  The biggest step in moving toward in true healthcare reform seems to be a requirement for reasonable charges and fees - not a requirement for those in need of healthcare, but a requirement for those providing it.  It's crazy how much a basic doctor visit or lab test can cost!  But that's not the craziest part.  The craziest part is that they charge those ridiculous amounts, then, if you have insurance, the insurance company looks at the charges and says, "No, that procedure or visit should only cost this small fraction of the original charge.  That's all we will pay."  And that's that - the doctor, hospital or lab gets paid what the insurance company says they get paid.

 Example: We got a recent bill for some kind of lab tests.  For some reason, the lab hadn't gotten the insurance information, so they billed $70.  We didn't pay that.  We gave them the insurance information, and the end result was that the insurance company disallowed basically $60 of the original $70 and paid the lab $9 and something.  And that was that.

 But why do we even need insurance companies for this?  If the lab would simply charge about $10 in the first place, most people could afford that.  (especially if they're not forced to pay money they don't have to get insurance in the first place)  And for those who can't afford even that, those subsidies the government is supposed to provide would go a lot further if they would go toward providing actual care instead of paying some insurance company.

Doctors and hospitals should have to make their costs and fees for everything public, so people could look at them ahead of time and be able to choose a provider based on cost, if that's what they want to do. Where else do we 'buy' something without knowing beforehand what it is going to cost us?  Groceries, clothes, cars, houses, etc.  We get to decide ahead of time what we are going to buy and what we can and cannot afford (never mind the over-use of credit cards) because we are given the prices and costs up front.  But go to the doctor, and that cost is always a surprise after the fact, and even if we did know ahead of time, who knows what a normal and reasonable cost is.  Is this doctor charging me more than the one down the street?  Is this charge reasonable or maybe an extremely good deal?  There's no way to know.

It seems to me they went at this whole idea of healthcare reform the wrong way.  But, they didn't ask me...

Medical Billing and Coding companies

Thursday, February 19, 2015

I'll Just Stick with the Coffee

Broccoli.I went shopping last week, back when the weather was a bit more pleasant.  Seriously, it was a nice day - snowed in the morning, and then the sun came out and it was practically balmy.  That isn't the point, but what's better than talking about the weather?  It's practically the only thing anyone talks about these days.  Cold, cold, cold.

Anyway, shopping.  I usually look over my receipts before I leave the store, just to be sure everything rang up right.  It just seems to be that, if I look at it in the store, everything will be fine, and if I don't, something will be wrong.  Not always, but looking at the receipt in the store means I can take care of any problems right then, while I'm there.  This time I did look it over, but not well enough, I guess.  That evening I noticed that the broccoli crowns I bought had been rung up as just regular broccoli.  So instead of paying 99¢ per pound for approximately 1 pound of broccoli, I paid $1.99 each for 2 bunches of broccoli, or $3.98.

If I still lived in Wisconsin and had to drive 15 minutes to get to the store, I'd probably have let it go or called the store to see if there was anything I could do about it the next time I got to the store (probably not for 2 or 3 weeks).  But, since the store is only 5 minutes or so away, I decided I'd run back to the store the next morning and get it taken care of. And, since they recently opened a Starbucks in the store, I thought I'd treat myself to a salted caramel mocha from Starbucks.
So, I did.  I ended up getting the broccoli for free, and I grabbed a few things I forgot to grab the day before.  They were things we could have lived without, but since I was there...

Next time (because there will probably be a next time, no matter how careful I am) I'm just going to skip the coffee.  I'll make coffee at home.  I got $4 back from the broccoli and spent $5 on stupid coffee.  Do people really do that all the time?  (Obviously they do; just search Starbucks on Flickr.)  How?  Why?  I mean, it was good, but it just doesn't seem worth it.  I can buy an entire bag of coffee and make my coffee at home for weeks for that same $5.

I might buy a flavored syrup to use occasionally, should I want something a bit different.  I have been mixing my coffee up with some coconut oil and milk in the mornings - whir it up good in the Ninja so that it's foamy, and that's pretty yummy.  I bet a little syrup would be nice once in a while.  And not quite the waste of money Starbucks seems to be.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Fast and Thorough Tenant Verification

If you're a landlord, you should definitely check out Tenantify.  It's a site that helps prevent fraud risk, and makes renting worry-free for landlords.  While I have never personally been a landlord, I've heard some horror interesting stories from some of my friends.  It's not always easy finding the right renters, and it doesn't sound easy to get rid of the bad ones once you've got them in your place.

Tenantify gives landlords tenant screening powered by employment and income verification, allowing landlords the ability to assess a potential renter's ability to pay rent each month.

It's a fast and thorough tool that makes it easier for landlords to verify income and employment of a potential renter conveniently, securely and without fraud risk.  Even better, it's a free service for landlords.  The potential renters pay all fees once verification is complete. Fees are very reasonable and can enhance the chances of application success for a qualified renter.

Tenantify empowers landlords to make informed decisions and helps to reduce friction in the housing market and build trust between landlord and tenant.  If you're a landlord looking for a better way to screen potential renters, be sure and check it out.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Rest of the U.S. Cellular Story

Anybody remember when I posted all the problems we were having when we canceled U.S. Cellular service? - Nothing BUT Empty Promises

I said I was going to post the rest of the story, and then I never did.  First we were in the middle of trying to get things resolved, so I didn't want to cause any extra problems - though it probably wouldn't have made a difference anyway.  And then, I just didn't do it.  So, in case anyone is still interested...

We left off when Jeffrey finally got our account canceled and the charges reversed, and we finally got the cases we ordered.

Then - a couple weeks after we thought the account was canceled, our daughter, who was still a U.S. Cellular customer tried to get one of our old phones activated, only to find out that it was still active on our account.  So he again had to call and see where things stood.  Apparently the account was in line to be canceled, but no one had gotten to it yet.  That customer service agent took care of it right then, I think.  But then when we passed another one of our old phones on to one of our daughter's friends, who is still with US Cellular - this was several weeks later - they were told that the phone had been reported lost or stolen when they went to activate it.  Being the owner of the phone, I know I never reported it lost or stolen.

We eventually received a final bill, which was supposed to be automatically zeroed out (promised by the customer service rep who actually did cancel our account), but Jeffrey called just to be sure it was taken care of - can you really blame him, after all of this?  At that time, he was told that the phone could not be activated because there was still a balance on the account - NOT because it had been reported lost or stolen.  At that time, while he had the customer service rep on the phone, he specifically asked about each of the phones we had on our account - 3 of them - to be sure that each one was free to be passed on and activated by current US Cellular customers.  He was told that they were all good to go.

Then, a few days later, Beth called again.  They were in a US Cellular store trying to get the phone activated.  Again.  Guess what?  They couldn't do it because "the phone has been reported lost or stolen."  We were just told a week or so before that that it was available for activation.  Guess not.  Since we were on the road, Jeffrey told the customer service rep at the store to put her on the account so she could deal with it.  It was supposedly going to be taken care of, except that she called again the next day.  When they told her that they couldn't activate the phone because it was supposed to have been returned, which was another lie. That phone was part of my compensation for working with the U.S. Celular Better Moments Blogger Brigade, and  there is nothing in the contract saying the phone was to be returned at the end of the program.  In fact, if we hadn't moved out of the US Cellular coverage area, they would have given me a new phone to use, again as part of my compensation.  My phone was part of my payment, making it mine to do with as I chose.  I chose to let someone who is a current US Cellular customer use it.

Why is that so hard??

This is when I posted to U.S. Cellular's Facebook page because I was just so frustrated.  I got a pretty immediate response, telling me they would look into this and that this was not the experience they wanted me to have.  After giving all the pertinent information about the account to the USCC Social Team representative, I got this email:
Hello, Anna.
I want you to know that we have not intentionally caused these difficulties with transferring your phones to other US Cellular customers.  We would have nothing to gain by doing that. 
I have taken a long look at your account and there is not any apparent reason why this is happening. I have submitted a research ticket to our Internal Support department to resolve this issue. This process will take a few days.  I will contact you by email on Wednesday with an update.
Thank you for your patience.
Best Regards,
Danielle G.
USCC Social Team     

and then I waited... and asked for updates, and never got an answer - from the Internal Support department.  I got emails from Danielle telling me she hadn't heard anything, but the ones who were supposed to look into it and resolve the issue never responded.  2-1/2 weeks later we still hadn't gotten an answer.  But then I talked to Beth, and she told me they'd tried again and got the phone activated after all.  So, I guess someone at U.S. Cellular got things taken care of, but they never bothered to get back to us and let us know what was going on.

But at least it got taken care of, right?  And I never had to think about U.S. Cellular again - and never bothered to finish the story - until recently when I was talking to a friend who still lives in Wisconsin and recently changed cell phone providers and signed up with U.S. Cellular.  It all sounded good - national plan, better signal, etc.  Except they didn't bother to tell him that when he got out of a U.S. Cellular area, they'd really throttle his data speed.  Did you know that U.S. Cellular doesn't have much area anymore?  They've sold out in many markets.  And since my friend is a truck driver, he's out of the U.S. Cellular area often.  Oh yeah, the signal is great at home, but when he's on the road that data he needs to do his job is not available.  Does U.S. Cellular care?  Not at all.  They got him to sign a contract.  Sucker!

So, if you're looking for a new cell phone provider, do not look at U.S. Cellular.  It's just not worth the headache and the hassle.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Bloominous Makes DIY Wedding Flowers Easy

I read recently that most wedding coordinators and bridal planning guides suggest that couples set aside 8 to 10 percent of their total wedding budget for the flowers.  Depending on the overall budget (the national average wedding cost is $29,858), that can be quite a bit.

In an effort to cut costs, many brides turn to Do-it-Yourself flowers - DIY.  Just check out Pinterest, and you'll see that DIY wedding flowers (and decorations) are BIG.  I think every young lady I know who has recently planned a wedding or is thinking about her someday wedding has a board full of wedding ideas.  The problem with your typical DIY floral project - in this case wedding flowers - is that you have to do all the research, purchasing, and arranging yourself.  I have friends who are great with flowers.  One of them even did all the flowers for her daughter's wedding, and she loved it.  Me?  I would have no idea where to even start - besides calling in those friends - if my daughter decided she needed my help putting together flowers for her wedding.  (When she decides to get married, that is)

That's why I love this new site I was just introduced to - Bloominous.  Launched in 2014, Bloominous offers brides an alternative to traditional florists, and makes DIY wedding flowers easier.  You really don't have to be a floral expert to get gorgeous wedding flowers while saving 30 to 50% off your floral costs. They make DIY wedding flowers beautiful, affordable and easy.

Flowers from Bloominous come cut-to-order, dethorned, trimmed, shipped along with matching accessories (vase, ribbon, etc), and ready to assemble. Each kit comes with step-by-step photo instructions for easy assembling within 10 to 20 minutes per piece, as well as flower care products and design tips. The collections are all designed by experienced wedding florists to be easy and beautiful. And, it’s not just the flowers—from trends to vases to favors, Bloominous designs the whole look for your inspiration.

Be sure to check out Bloominous and browse their beautiful selections.  They offer trial kits of each design so you can get your hands on it before making a decision and commitment - make sure the design is right for you and that you really can do it yourself.  Each and every package can be customized, and Bloominous guarantees that you will have flowers in time for your wedding, usually 2-3 days before the wedding so there's time for assembly. They are so confident you will love their product that if you are not satisfied with the product you received, for any reason, they will immediately replace the order or issue a full refund.

Read the Bloominous story - find Bloominous on Facebook - follow Bloominous on Pinterest for even more wedding inspiration

Disclosure: I received compensation from Bloominous for this post.  All opinions are 100% mine.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Review: Buddha Teas

I'm a coffee person in the mornings, but if I want something later in the day, I love a nice comforting cup of tea.  I was recently drinking some tea when I opened an email asking me if I'd like to check out Buddha Teas and give them a try.  I'd never heard of them before - perhaps you haven't either - but I checked out their web page and replied that I was very happy to try them.

Buddha Teas come in many different varieties and all are 100% unaltered, organic teas made from the freshest herbs, carefully packaged in bleach free tea bags.  They really understand the importance of purity so that the true flavor of the tea comes through and that a cup of tea doesn’t contain any harmful additives or toxins. As I was reading through all the benefits each of the types of tea can have - detoxification, energy, brain function, immune support, digestive support, to name a few - it really hit me how important it is to have the purest herbs without any added toxins.  For some reason I had never given much thought to the tea I drink beyond choosing a flavor that sounded good. (Maybe I should go read the labels on all my tea boxes?)  Seriously, if I'm going to be drinking herbal tea, shouldn't I want all of the positive benefits I can get without adding anything that would counteract that?

From popular green teas to obscure bark and seed teas, Buddha Teas is sure to have something for everyone.  They have many unique teas that you won’t find offered anywhere else.  Some of them I'd heard of, but there were many I hadn't.  It was interesting reading through all the descriptions and trying to choose some teas to try.  Maybe I should have started with their list of Popular Teas to help narrow it down, but I didn't.  (I did end up ordering one of the teas on the page anyway)

I decided to try as many different types of teas as I could - Leaf Tea, Root Tea, Flower Tea, Bark Tea, Berry Tea - and I ordered a couple of the Specialty Blends, too.  I have been enjoying all of them, but I think my favorite is the Zenergy Blend.  It's a nice pick-me-up in the middle of the afternoon. The single herb teas are all good, and I find them very mild and enjoyable, too.  Most of the time I add a bit of honey and a squeeze of lemon.

The only thing I don't really like about these teas is that, once you get them out of the box, you can't tell them apart.  Each tea bag is individually wrapped, which is nice - but nowhere does it say what kind of tea is inside the wrapper.  The tag on the teabag itself isn't labeled either.  I didn't notice this until I pulled a few teabags - from a couple different boxes - to take with me on a trip.  I got ready to pack them and then looked at them and realized there was no way to tell which tea was which.  So, when you get these teas, you'll want to keep them in their own boxes - or forever be (pleasantly) surprised when you brew your tea.  The boxes really are kinda cute, and made from recycled materials.  I have a nice stack of them on my kitchen counter.

If you're looking for high quality organic teas, be sure to check out Buddha Teas.
  • Receive an additional 5% off when you use coupon code TODAY at checkout.
  • Get FREE shipping on orders of $50 or more.
  • 100% Money Back Satisfaction Guarantee
I was provided with these teas from Buddha Teas in exchange for my honest opinion and review.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Book List 2014

Once again I kept track of all the books I read on Goodreads, and I could just link you to this handy page that shows the covers and information about all the books I read this year, but I'm still going to list them all.   I'll have to pretend to be surprised at the total in the end because Goodreads already told me how many books I read, but it will be fun anyway.

So, here we go - all the books I read (and listened to) this year - listed by the month I finished reading them.  I'll also include links to any reviews I wrote, in case you're interested.  I've tried to do better at sharing my thoughts on the books I read, but sometimes I just read.  If you have any questions about any of them, feel free to ask, and I'll do my best to tell you what I thought and whether it's worth your time.

  1. Longing (Bailey Flanigan #3) - Karen Kingsbury
  2. Blackout (All Clear, #1) - Connie Willis
  3. Wonder - R.J. Palacio
  4. Boston Jacky: Being an Account of the Further Adventures of Jacky Faber, Taking Care of Business (Bloody Jack, #11) - L.A. Meyer (audio)
  5. All Clear (All Clear, #2) - Connie Willis
  6. A Heart Like His: Intimate Reflections on the Life of David - Beth Moore
  7. The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald
2245 pages | 13 hours and 45 minutes

  1. Will Sparrow's Road - Karen Cushman (audio)
  2. Inferno (Robert Langdon, #4)- Dan Brown
  3. Tales from the Arabian Nights: Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves and Other Stories - Anonymous (audio)
  4. Loving (Bailey Flanigan #4) - Karen Kingsbury
  5. Sold - Patricia McCormick (audio)
  6. The Maze Runner (Maze Runner, #1) - James Dashner
  7. To Live Is Christ - Beth Moore
1157 pages | 11 hours 7 minutes

  1. Divergent (Divergent #1) - Veronica Roth
  2. The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates #1: Magic Marks the Spot - Caroline Carlson (audio)
  3. The Scorch Trials (Maze Runner, #2) - James Dashner
  4. Moses - Steps to a Life of Faith - Bob Saffrin
  5. The Death Cure (Maze Runner, #3) - James Dashner
1378 pages | 8 hours 7 minutes

  1. Handle with Prayer: Unwrap the Source of God's Strength for Living - Charles F. Stanley
  2. The Cuckoo's Calling - Robert Galbraith (audio)
  3. The Kill Order (Maze Runner, #0.5) - James Dashner
563 pages | 15 hours 54 minutes

  1. God's Plan for Spiritual Battle - Russell M. Stendal
  2. Cleopatra's Moon - Vicky Alvear Shecter (audio)
237 pages | 12 hours 29 minutes

  1. Amish Values for Your Family: What We Can Learn from the Simple Life - Suzanne Woods Fisher (audio)
  2. 24/6: A Prescription for a Healthier, Happier Life - Matthew Sleeth
  3. Little Author in the Big Woods: A Biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder - Yona Zeldis McDonough
  4. Imzadi - Peter David
  5. Off The Page & Into Your Life Getting more from God's word no matter what your story - Tami Weissert
884 pages | 4 hours 25 minutes

  1. All Our Yesterdays - Cristin Terrill (audio)
  2. Twelve Years a Slave - Solomon Northup
  3. Oliver and the Seawigs - Philip Reeve
  4. Code Name Verity (Code Name Verity, #1) - Elizabeth Wein (audio)
  5. Insurgent (Divergent, #2) - Veronica Roth
1031 pages | 19 hours 32 minutes

  1. Irises - Francisco X. Stork (audio)
  2. Enchanted - Alethea Kontis (audio)
15 hours 19 minutes

  1. The Eleventh Plague - Jeff Hirsch (audio)
  2. Lisette's List - Susan Vreeland
  3. Thankless in Death (In Death, #37) - J.D. Robb
  4. The Beauty of Christ through Brokenness - K.P. Yohannan
  5. Cruel Beauty - Rosamund Hodge (audio)
918 pages | 17 hours 20 minutes

  1. Concealed in Death (In Death, #38) - J.D. Robb
  2. The False Prince (The Ascendance Trilogy, #1) - Jennifer A. Nielsen (audio)
  3. Taken in Death (In Death, #37.5) - J.D. Robb (audio)
416 pages | 11 hours 29 minutes

  1. Allegiant (Divergent, #3) - Veronica Roth
  2. Festive in Death (In Death, #39) - J.D. Robb (audio)
545 pages | 13 hours 13 minutes

  1. Prayer Changes Things: Taking Your Life to the Next Prayer Level - Beni Johnson
  2. My Mother Was Nuts: A Memoir - Penny Marshall (audio)
  3. Fame (Firstborn, #1) - Karen Kingsbury
557 pages | 8 hours 30 minutes

49 books in 2014.  That's my highest total since I started keeping track. (last year, I read 42)  Oops, that's not true - looking over all my Book Lists from previous years I see I read 51 books in 2011.  I had forgotten that.  I suppose I could have added The Bible, since I finished a Bible reading plan during 2014, and I could have counted all those extra books I read in May when we had our grandson stay with us for two weeks.  I read The Cat in the Hat, The Cat in the Hat Comes Back, The Eye Book, The Foot Book, Caps for Sale, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, Hop on Pop, The Little Tiny Rooster, and several others - multiple times.

I added page counts and time listened this year, because I thought that might be interesting, and because I realized that the number of books read can vary widely and the amount actually read still be the same.  For instance, I could read lots of short books, or I could read a few long books - and still read the same amount.  Of course, I have nothing to compare these numbers to, but I think I'll keep track from now on.
  • Total pages - 9931
  • Total time - 151 hours
Source for page numbers - Goodreads and/or Amazon | Source for audio book lengths - Audible

I also need to do a better job of writing at least a short review of the books I read.  49 books, and I only wrote something about 9 of them.  I did at least rate most of them this year on the 1 to 5-star range on Goodreads, but still...

How many books did you read in 2014?  I'd love to hear your favorites and just might add them to my 2015 list.

*if you happen to click any of the book covers and buy  from Amazon, they say they'll pay me a small percentage.  Every little bit helps, and I thank you for your support!

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

What's Your Winter Exercise Program?

Winter!  We had our first real snowfall of the season overnight, and that means it's snow shoveling season again.  We got about 5 to 5-1/2 inches which had to be shoveled off the driveway this morning before Jeffrey could leave for work.  Thankfully it was pretty light and fluffy, so it wasn't too hard.  We got the main part of the driveway finished, and then I shoveled the side after he left.  Overall, it took about an hour, and then I went back out when it actually stopped snowing and cleaned the driveway off again - along with the end of the driveway where the plow had thrown some extra snow.

Did you see that?  We actually had a truck with a plow go through our neighborhood.  Today.  Last year we had snow on the weekend - either Saturday or Sunday - and our streets were not plowed until Friday.   So today is pretty amazing, at least for here.  In Wisconsin, it was normal for our streets to be plowed right away.  Here, well maybe they're figuring out what they're supposed to do with this white stuff.  I've never lived in Indiana before, so I just assumed they got snow in the winter...

I'm counting all that snow shoveling as my winter exercise program - along with my walking, of course, and the exercise videos I do.  If you're looking for some good exercise videos, be sure to check out BeFit on YouTube.  They have some really good ones, and they're all free.  I do mostly some of the BeFit in 90 videos and the 30 Day Abs videos.  Between the Chest, Legs, & Buns workout I did yesterday and the shoveling today, I'm a bit sore!  But it's a good sore.

I am going to have to find a better way to log my shoveling, though.  I have been logging my miles and exercise on the Walgreens Balance Rewards site where I get points for all my miles and other exercise, and I was logging them on BeeWell for Life where all my miles and other exercises earned points and then they donated to charity. (They're currently revamping the BeeWell site, so I'm not sure how it's going to work when it gets back)

It wasn't until this summer when I started logging all my steps for mowing - 11,000 steps/2 hours, every week - that I realized they were getting off easy - and I wasn't getting all the points I was probably entitled to - when I just logged snow shoveling as Winter Sports. (it's a winter sport, right?)  So I'm going to start counting the hours.  I could also carry my cell phone in my pocket a time or two just to see how many steps it takes to go back and forth and up and down and over the whole driveway to clear it off.  But, whether I know how long it takes or how many steps I'm walking while pushing a shovel, I do know it's good exercise.  More so when we get heavy wet snow, but we'll deal with that if and when it comes.

What's your winter exercise program look like? 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Review: Evening Prayers for Every Day of the Year

When I agreed to review this book, I did not realize that it was a collection of prayers spoken and written by Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt, a pastor who lived from 1842 to 1919.  This is not a new book.  I just read the book description and thought it sounded like a great book to have.

Book Description:
We want to turn to God at the end of each day, but often don’t find the words to express our deepest feelings and longing. This collection of prayers is one of the few daily devotionals especially intended for use in the evening.

Blumhardt’s words bespeak a certainty in God’s nearness. The peace that flows from them comes from an unshakeable conviction that God’s kingdom is indeed on the way. In stormy and challenging times like our own, most of us need this reassurance frequently, if not daily.
It was only after I'd received the book and started reading the introduction that I learned that these prayers were collected and published in 1926, after Blumhardt's death, and only intended at first for his closest friends.

Since that time, Bumhardt's collection of prayers has been published multiple times, including this newly revised 2014 edition.  Obviously I haven't read through the whole book - there is a scripture and prayer for each day of the year, so I've just started going through it.  I started at the beginning instead of on the proper date (yeah, I know - what a rebel), but I plan to start over again and go through it in 2015, since January will soon be here.

What surprised me was how simple, powerful, and timely these prayers are.  They were written 100 years ago!  But, of course, God's word is timeless and timely, too.  I love the simple faith displayed in these prayers, and I find myself praying some of the lines over and over.  They just hit directly at the center of what I would have prayed if only I'd thought of it.  I also love that Blumhardt doesn't use a lot of flowery language in his prayers - just honest, heartfelt, simple words that mean so much.
"All we ask and long for, all our concerns down to the very smallest, we lay in your hands in the one great request that your name be glorified on earth as it is in heaven."
This is a book that I plan to turn to and use often, and I'd definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a little guidance in connecting with God in a simple, direct, and meaningful way at the end of the day.

This book was provided for review by Handlebar and Plough Publishing.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Review: Mary J. Blige #TheLondonSessions

#O2O (One to One Network) has once again given me the opportunity to review a new CD by an artist that I was not previously familiar with.  I mean, I've heard of Mary J. Blige, but I honestly have never listened to any of her music. I must be alone in that because she's had a stellar career:
With eight multi-platinum albums, nine Grammy Awards (plus a staggering 31 nominations), a 2012 Golden Globe nomination, and four American Music Awards, Mary J Blige is a global superstar. And in ensuing years, the singer/songwriter has attracted an intensely loyal fan base – responsible for propelling worldwide sales of more than 50 million albums.
Capitol Music Group Chairman Steve Barnett calls Mary J. Blige's music "a one-of-a-kind blend of hip-hop and soul that has excited fans for more than 20 years" and made her one of the most successful and acclaimed artists in any genre of music. For this album, Mary J. Blige ventured into new musical territory by crossing the Atlantic to collaborate with some of this decade’s most celebrated UK musical talent – including Disclosure, Eg White, Emile Sandé, Jimmy Napes, Naughty Boy, SAM ROMANS and Sam Smith. 

Wow!  Why have I never listened to her before?  I have no idea but, judging by this CD (and all those awards), she is really good.  I have really enjoyed the strength and style of her voice as well as the music.  Some of the songs are really heart-felt, honest, and intense, while others just make you want to get up and dance.  The only thing I did not like is that there is some talk between some of the tracks, explaining some of the thought process behind the songs and the experience of recording.  While I liked having that information there, it was so much quieter than the actual songs, meaning I had to turn the volume way up to hear, and then when the music started again it was so loud.  Other than that, I really like this CD.  It's hard to pick a favorite, because each of the tracks has something to offer, but for now I'm really liking When You're Gone and the great dance beat of My Loving.

The London Sessions is available now, and you can download it from Amazon or iTunes.  Also available at Target, Walmart, etc.

Watch more Mary J. Blige videos on YouTube.

I participated in the Mary J Blige The London Sessions album review program as a member of One2One Network. I was provided a free album to review but all opinions are my own.