Loot Crate Unboxing and Review for September 2015

Well, it’s October, so that means it’s time for the subscription boxes that should have been here in September. It’s not my fault, I tell you! But you guys already know that, so let’s get right down to business.

The first unboxing of the month is Loot Crate, which had an interesting-sounding theme for September: “Summon”. I had high hopes, especially since I saw a silhouette of Castiel from “Supernatural” in the bumper images of the monthly emails, but what was my final impression? Eeeehhhh…how about you take a look at the unboxing video first?

I’m sure you could probably tell that I was less than enthused with the box, overall, but just for arguments’ sake let’s go ahead and continue the post with a breakdown of the box.

“Pikachu” toque:
Right out of the gates we have this lovely little hat designed after everyone’s favorite electric rat Pokemon. I gave this item a hard time in the video, mostly because the majority of nerds I know would never actually wear something like this out in public. My husband argued that there are definitely tons of nerds who would wear a Pikachu hat in public, and I guess he is actually right, but it still struck me as an extremely childish kind of item to include in a subscription box that’s aimed at adults. That’s just my opinion, sorry! That said, my daughter actually does like Pikachu, and she seemed to be perfectly happy with the idea of getting to wear this hat, so I guess we’re okay on that front. This item retails for about $17.

“Homer Buddha” figure from Kidrobot:
This is a cute, weird little collectible that will only really appeal to “The Simpsons” fans, of a smiling Homer posed like as Buddha sitting on a donut. What’s really, truly amazing about this item is that the original it was based off of was a 6″ colored version, and it retails for FIFTY-FREAKIN’ DOLLARS. I mean, seriously, what the hell, people? And, believe it or not, this 3″ version actually goes for $20. Honestly guys, it’s like, this squishy plastic material, like what a chew-toy might be made out of. Who the heck would pay $20 for this? Okay, okay, that’s all I can say about that.

“Hearthstone” stress ball:
Just throwing this out there right off the get-go: I’m pretty sure I have infinitely more stress balls than I will ever need thanks to subscription boxes. That said, this particular stress ball is based off the “Hearthstone” mobile game, of which I know next to nothing. So, I guess what I’m saying is that I don’t like this item. It’s cheap box-filler. It’s technically a Loot Crate exclusive, and crazy people are trying to sell it online for outrageous amounts of money, but I figure it’s worth…$2, tops.

’67 Chevy Impala die cast car from “Supernatural”:
This is my item, right here…this little Hot Wheels-style die cast car of Dean’s Impala from “Supernatural”. This is literally the one item in this box that is truly for me, and it’s an itty bitty toy car. There’s only so much I can say about that. I do like it, I really do, because I love the Impala and wish I had a real one, but it’s also a bit depressing that the only item in the entire Loot Crate that I truly enjoy for myself is a toy car. Rawr. Okay, enough about that. This teeny-weeny “model” can be purchased online for $10.

“Summon” button:
As always, we have the collectible Loot Crate button, this one stating the theme of “Summon” and sporting a strange little design that incorporates Pikachus. This is just a cheap little pin, but for the sake of keeping the numbers even I’ll allow it a $1 value.

“Hearthstone” card pack download code:
Again, I don’t play this game, so this code doesn’t really mean much to me at all. I might try it sometime just for the hell of it, but if it’s the kind of “freemium” game that damn-well requires you to spend money in order to play it properly, then just no. And it probably is, so just no. Anyway, I couldn’t find anything on the Hearthstone website that indicated what a download code for a card pack might be worth, so ya’ll can correct me if you know but I’m going to go ahead and take a wild guess that it would probably be something along the lines of $3.

“Master Summoner” game:
I’m including this in the list simply because it’s a game that was made by Loot Crate specifically for use with the “Summon” box and the rip-out cards from the magazine, so it’s kind of an “exclusive” in that sense, but I can’t really put a value on it because technically it’s free. Also, from the few reviews I saw of it, you can finish the entire game in about an hour, so…just throwing that out there.

Loot Crate mini-magazine:
I don’t usually include the mini-mag in my breakdowns, but I’m actually stretching a bit because this box was so tiny. This is the basic little 20-ish page magazine that is in every Loot Crate; it’s main purpose is to describe the items within the box, but it also sometimes has little interviews and such. It’s probably only worth about $1.

Total approximate value of box: $54
Total cost to me: $40

So, I’ve been saying this a LOT lately, but with the Canadian dollar down the way it is right now the value of my subscription boxes is really affected. $54 actually isn’t that bad for a box value (although it’s on the lower end of what it has been in the past), but when what you’re paying is about $40 it makes it feel like a heck of a lot less of a value. When I first started getting Loot Crate I was only paying about $31, so what I’m paying now is about a 25% increase, while the contents have not improved in any way, so we’ve got to keep that in mind.

Secondly, I just have to say that this particular box was all kinds of disappointing. I’ve come to terms with the Pikachu hat simply because my daughter actually does like it, but with it being a large part of the value of the box and not actually being something for me, that’s pretty annoying. Then add in that the most “valuable” item in the box is the Simpsons item (which, seriously, feels like a frikkin’ chew toy), and the Hearthstone junk, and it’s just lots of thumbs down. I love the little Impala car, but it’s tiny and not exactly high in value, so it hardly makes the box worth it.

All in all I really have to give this box two thumbs down because it did not impress me at all, and I really hope Loot Crate steps it up in October because I’ve loved it so much in the past!

So what did you think? Was it a “yay” or a “nay” for September’s “Summon” Loot Crate? What did you think of the Pikachu hat? Which item did you think was the junkiest? Please share!

September 2015 Goals in Review

amonthinreviewAnother month has come and gone in the blink of an eye…oh man…where is 2015 going on me? It’s gonna be freakin’ Christmas before I know it. But before the holidays sneak up on me there are a few more months worth of goal reviews to get into, so let’s go ahead and get September over with.

Goal #1: Take care of myself more.

I didn’t really think about this goal at all until right at this moment as I’m typing these words. Taking care of myself just wasn’t that much of a concern this month. However, having said that, it actually wasn’t that bad a month for this goal. Some of you may have read a post I wrote a few weeks ago about discovering that the prescribed medicine I was taking for anxiety was actually rotting my guts out from the inside via screwing with my pancreas. Figuring that out (even though I did it illicitly, without actually, you know…talking to my doctor) has made a pretty big change in my health. My guts are still in the mess that they were a year ago (before I’d ever been given the meds), but my original issue was just irritability, whereas the meds were actually causing major digestive issues and possibly even a host of side effects such as fatigue. So yeah, deciding to drop that prescription was a pretty big turning point.

Another thing that has been helping a lot, even though it may sound silly to some people, is learning how to meditate. I’ve been doing this with the help of the “Headspace” app, for which I received a three month free trial with my Summer Fab Fit Fun box. I won’t be continuing the app once the free trial is up because it’s, quite honestly, horribly overpriced (approximately $12/month for the right to access the audio files), but I’ve learned a lot so far and it’s been helping me quite a bit to make it through the mornings at work, which are always the worst for me for some reason.

Aside from the meditation I can’t honestly say that I’ve done a whole lot of relaxing…even when my husband thinks I’m taking it easy on my computer I’m actually writing, blogging, planning, editing, and so on. Plus there’s been writing contests, work was actually quite busy this past shift, and during my last days off we had a number of trips to take involving the purchase of a new vehicle. So, yeah, through the month of September I didn’t really take too many moments to just sit down and relax or take a bath or whatever. Then again, the month went by so quickly that I hardly even noticed the lack of relaxation. So…win? I guess? Maybe?

Goal #2. Continue to build my readership/viewership.

This has become the kind of goal that actually has a mind of its own, although I suppose that’s giving myself a lot less credit than I deserve. What I’ve been really trying to focus on is just interaction: responding to comments on the blog and YouTube videos, commenting on blog posts and videos from others that I like, interacting with the Twitterverse and Instagram and all that. I can’t claim that I’ve been actively trying to build readership/viewership, but focusing my limited energy on the interaction side of things definitely helps. I’m rapidly approaching 500 followers on YouTube, and WordPress tells me that between blog followers, email followers, and Facebook followers I’m up to about 1000. My Facebook Author page is fairly quite (I can’t blame people, since that’s the platform I find most difficult to actually interact with), but even that has gotten up to 133 followers, meaning that if you combine all those platforms plus Twitter and Instagram I’m looking at something like 2000 followers. That might not sound like a lot to some people, but if I could convince those 2000 people to buy a book I’d be doing pretty good. Ha!

Goal #3: Write. Write a lot.

Last month I was a bit depressed because my word count had gone down significantly from the previous months…and this month it went down again. That in and of itself is fairly depressing, but I’m not letting myself get down about it because there were other important things to focus on this month. For instance, during one 48-hour period when I could have easily written a few thousand words for the book or the blog, I was actually focusing on my second story for the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge. And speaking of that challenge, as I blogged about before, I got ten points out of a possible fifteen for my first story in the challenge, which was a major boost to my confidence, so even if I don’t continue on after the end of this round I’ll be happy with what I accomplished in the contest. :)

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, I didn’t get all that much written in September. Most of the words I did get down were for the blog, and they only totaled 13,663. Not a horrible number, but not one I’m happy with either, particularly since the only fictional words I wrote during the month were the ones for the challenge and the ones for “Flash Fiction Friday”. So, this coming month, my mini-goal is going to be to focus on finally finishing the current draft of “The Other World: Book One” so I can throw it at my beta-reader and get to work on Book Two during NaNoWriMo.

Oh god…NaNoWriMo…I’d almost forgotten about that this year. It starts in 26 days. Writing gods, help me now.

Authors Answer 48 – Writing and Publishing Isn’t All Fun


Writing is definitely NOT as easy as non-writers think it is. In this week’s Authors Answer we talk about our LEAST favorite parts of the process.

Originally posted on I Read Encyclopedias for Fun:

It’s the final month of the first year of Authors Answer! By the end of this month, we will have been doing this for a full year. 52 questions answered. I’m glad to have gotten this far. It’s been a lot of fun. But, this question isn’t all about having fun. No, writing and publishing has its difficult side. Authors tend to have some aspect of writing that they hate, or at least dislike. I call this the dark side of writing.

320px-Modern-ftn-pen-cursiveQuestion 48 – What’s your least favourite part of the writing and publishing process?

H. Anthe Davis

Right now, I would say the rough draft phase, since I’m currently in it and it is driving me slowly insane.  I have mountains of notes, but translating them from nebulous ideas to coherent text is always difficult, and it ends up feeling like I’m just throwing putty against a wall…

View original 1,217 more words

Fantasy Versus Reality

Flash Fiction FridaysJamie thought about Super Mario.

The first of the franchise’s games in the Super Nintendo era, “Super Mario World”, had been Jamie’s first video game ever. He played that game so much that you could swear that the controller’s buttons were worn down a few millimeters. He’d played every stage about a hundred times – not because he couldn’t beat them, but because he was having so much fun that he never wanted to stop. He’d defeated Bowser and his kids so many times that he was confident, even now, that he could do it in his sleep.

Eventually he’d moved on to role-playing-games, like the Final Fantasy series, and those were fun but he’d never quite caught on to the kind of gameplay that required him to scroll through menus in the heat of battle. He wanted the action, the quick-thinking movements, the excitement of having to dodge attacks and initiate them simultaneously.

It took a few years, but eventually he found exactly what he was looking for: Halo. This was the game for him. It had space marines and aliens. It had little guns, big guns, and massive guns. It had bombs that you could stick to people. And Jamie didn’t have to just play the campaign missions…he could play in versus battles against his friends too! At least…until he got so good at the game that no one wanted to play with him anymore.

First-person-shooter games became his life. After demolishing the early Halo franchise he moved on and worked his way through the entire available roster. The Battlefield games, Counterstrike, all the Call of Duty options, anything with Tom Clancy’s name written on it. FarCry, Doom, Quake, and Borderlands. Gears of War, Crysis, Killzone, and the Clive Barker games. Jamie had played them all, and often with such fervor and frequency that he was at the top of every leaderboard, the most hated player on ever server.

Those were good times. And he’d thought that, surely, if he was this good at firing digital guns, real ones couldn’t possibly be that difficult, right?

Jamie quivered in a foxhole, clutching a spent magazine and the bloodied arm of his dead companion as shots and screams rang out all around him, and he thought of Super Mario.

Some Things I Love Right Now

Today I felt like sharing some random products and services that I personally love a ton, because why not share the love? Maybe you guys will even find your new favorite thing on my list!

Dead Nation

I’ve been replaying Dead Nation on my Playstation Vita lately because I want to finish off the last of the trophies I have to get, and it’s reminded me how damn fun this game is. It’s a zombie apocalypse story that’s set as a top-down shooter, and the waves of zombies that sometimes come at you all at once are intense. I’ve literally replayed the story mode about fifteen times at this point, and it really isn’t getting old any time soon. There’s just something immensely satisfying about blowing away wave after wave of zombies and zombie-like monsters. I’ve been working really hard on the “kill 53,596 zombies” trophy. >:)

But seriously, if you’re looking for a really fun little top-down shooter, this may be the one for you. Check it out if you get a chance!


FitBitChargeHRYou guys know, via my constant whining, that I am not the best person in the world for keeping fit. But if there is one thing that helps me want to get fit, it’s my Fitbit. These wearable devices are activity trackers, and depending on which version you get they do much more as well. I personally have a Charge HR, which not only tracks your steps and flights of stairs climbed (based on changes in elevation), but also continuously monitors your heart rate and adjusts a calculation for calories burned based on that info. So in other words, if you walk 10,000 steps in a day but your heart rate stays pretty close to resting, you’ll report fewer calories burned than if you went 10,000 steps and your heart rate was elevated for some of them. This was a big improvement to the previous Fitbits, in my opinion, because the non-heart-rate-monitoring versions can’t tell if you’re casually strolling or sprinting uphill against the wind.

You can also pair a Charge HR with your phone so that it buzzes and shows the incoming number whenever someone is calling you, and you can set silent vibration alarms to wake you up in the morning. Not to mention this particular model is also a sleep monitor. And on top of that, I’ve recently discovered the joy of having Fitbit friends, with whom you can set challenges, motivating you to be the one to exercise the most. Brilliance, I tell ya. Check them out!

Metamorphosis Quad by ColourPop and Coffee Break with Dani

If the title of this one made absolutely no sense to you, don’t worry, I’ll explain. First off, ColourPop is a cosmetics company that sells all kinds of awesome stuff at pretty affordable prices. Coffee Break With Dani is one of my favorite YouTubers. Dani, who is a beauty guru, collaborated with ColourPop to make this four-piece eyeshadow set called “Metamorphosis”, and I decided to pick it up both because I love Dani to death, and because they really are amazing eyeshadows.

The two brown shades, Bravery and Strength, are classic colors, one in a matte and one in a satin finish, but the real players here are Hope and Kindness, which are both duo-chrome with opal finishes. These two shadows are so awesome because they are super-versatile. Basically, you put them over top of whatever other eye color you’re in the mood for, and they transform the color. I can’t even really describe it, but for instance, I’ve tried Hope (the one that looks pinky-white) all by itself, and it looks like a lovely shimmery, sparkly pink, but when I put it over top of a blue eyeshadow, all of a sudden there are gorgeous purple shifts everywhere. Kindness, on the other hand, looks kind of dark purplish-blue when I wear it on its own, but when combined with a green eyeshadow it pops full of gold and blue sparkles. And they change significantly depending on what you have underneath them!

Best part? They are totally inexpensive. The set of four is $20, and though the pots don’t seem that big they last really, really long. I’ve been using Hope and Kindness steadily and I don’t even have a significant dip in the surface of the pots. But this is a limited time set and we don’t know when Color Pop is going to pull it, so if you’re interested get it soon!

Doctor Who

Okay, okay, Doctor Who isn’t exactly anything new. Even the new version of the show started a decade ago. So yeah, I’m pretty late to the party. But that said…

I started watching the new version of the show about a little over a year ago and my reaction was pretty much, “Why have I not been watching this?” So after about two seasons of that I started thinking, “Why have I never watched the old version of the show?”, and I went out looking for the old version. Turns out the old version has, like, 800 episodes. So…yeah. None-the-less, I’ve been slowly making my way through those old episodes. I’ve watched about five years now, and I’m only just making it up to where the first Doctor regenerates into the second Doctor. @_@

So yeah, I have assloads of episodes left to go through, but I am loving it. Even the super-old episodes from the 60’s in which they had little to nothing for special effects are awesome. The stories are great and so inventive for the time, and the most of the characters are just so likable. The first Doctor has actually really grown on me, so I might be sad to see him change!

And of course, the new show is absolutely fantastic. So far I’ve only watched the Christopher Eccelston episodes and about 3/4 of the David Tennant episodes, but I’m really itching to watch more! If only I could trick my husband into watching them with me more often. ^_^

So those are a few things that I’m loving right now. What about you guys? What are you just, like, super into right now? Please share!

How I’ve Become My Parents

Memoir Mondays

Courtesy of The Daily Post:
Do you ever find yourself doing something your parents used to do when you were a kid, despite the fact that you hated it back then?

Upon my first glance at this prompt I would say that I’m really not all that much like my parents at all, but that’s not likely since the overwhelming majority of people turn out to be very, very much like their forebears. My reaction, then, is probably just a result of the fact that, in general, most people never really see their parents in themselves. Parents often see themselves in their children, but children often deny it vehemently. For instance, when I was younger I was constantly being told how much I look like my father. It was absolutely true – I look much more like my father than my mother – but I denied it like my life depended on it because what I was hearing was that people thought I looked like a man.

But I’m a grown adult now, so I should be mature and reasonable enough to accept that yes, there are things about me that are just like my parents, even the parts that drove me insane as a kid. So let’s just sit back and think about it for a moment…

Well, the first thing that comes to mind is that, as an adult, I have a pretty intense hatred of snow. It’s funny because as a child I loved snow so much that I would spend hours out playing in it until my nose turned blue, and it would drive me up the wall when my parents would complain about it and wish for it all to melt. I still love snow in the sense of it making the world feel Christmasy, and it’s adorable to watch my daughter play in it, but after a few short weeks of shoveling, and poor road conditions, and delayed flights I begin to develop a hatred that would rival the intensity of a small sun.

Another thing, which will probably give my parents a good chuckle, is that I can’t stand when my kid is being “saucy” (i.e. talking back). I was an outrageously saucy kid myself, and I hated how my parents would always get so mad at me for it, because in my mind I was just telling it like it is and/or standing up for myself. But nowadays I catch myself seething with barely-contained rage when my daughter gets saucy. I try to tell myself that she’s just saying things as she sees them, but like most parents I can’t help but feel like she’s being a saucy little brat and she damn well knows it.

Something that’s more specific to my mom: my temper. I feel pretty strongly that I’m significantly better at keeping mine than she is (yeah, you heard me, mom), but I’ve definitely inherited her ability to Hulk-out. When I was a kid I used to think she was nuts; sometimes it felt like she was getting unrealistically angry at me for no good reason. Now I find myself in the opposite position…I’ll be fine many times in a row, but then there will be this one little thing that my husband or daughter says or does that snaps something inside my brain and makes me want to put my fist through a wall. The key is that I manage to not punch any walls (or anything else), which is now something that I can appreciate she was capable of as well.

And something more specific to my dad: a complete inability to read instructions properly, in particular when building something. It always used to drive me mad when I’d be helping him build something and he’d skip a step, resulting in a need to backtrack and deconstruct several steps before being able to continue. Now, for whatever reason, I seem to have become the exact same way. It’s like I’m genetically predisposed to glaze over certain crucial information whenever it comes to household furniture and appliances. Honestly, it’s rather quite amazing that my husband has never murdered me while attempting to put up shelving or a new installation in the house.

I’m sure there are many more things that I can’t see. I’m sure my husband could point out a few, and I’m quite certain my parents will have compiled a mental list if they’re reading this post. Hell, my daughter could probably point out a similarity or two. But I’ll end it here, because I’m feeling a strong urge to go out and reconfirm my individuality. ^_~

How are you like your parents? Don’t be shy now, go ahead and share!