At Home Medical Testing with LetsGetChecked.com

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My blog gets many offers to partnership with various companies, but I am always very picky about who I will partner with. I have two important guidelines I always try to stick to. First, I will only consider partnering with companies that promote things I would actually want to use myself. Further, I want to use their product or service myself to know the quality of what I am sharing. Secondly, the product or service has to be something that fits the themes of my blog and that I believe may genuinely be useful to some of my blog readers.

Recently the home medical testing company LetsGetChecked.com reached out to me. I liked how they offer a wide range of affordable, at-home medical testing options for sexual health, both men & women’s health, and general wellness. When I saw that they offer a women’s female hormone test, I decided to give it a try since I have been wanting to get that test done but my insurance won’t cover it and it is far more expensive if I get it done at a medical center. I have the test now and will do an update post once I get the results. I am hoping the test may reveal if I am indeed dealing with early menopause as I and my doctors have suspected.

I was curious about how an at-home blood test may work, as I am no phlebotomist, but it turns out they use lancets, similar to at-home diabetes testing, so it isn’t scary or complicated at all. I am excited to get the results of my test (which will be available online within a number of days after the test is returned). All of the testing is confidential of course, so there is no need to worry about your privacy being invaded.

In the future I may try their cortisol test as well, as I have always wanted to see how high my cortisol levels are. Other tests available include STD testing, hepatitis testing, fertility/prostate tests, a variety of vitamin/nutrient testing, tests for organ function (like liver and kidney), and colon cancer, lyme disease, diabetes, and celiac testing.

I personally feel that services like LetsGetChecked.com are most beneficial for people who have had certain tests turned down by their insurance, but still want to get those tests done, or people who have no health insurance at all and can’t afford the high costs of testing at hospitals and medical centers. Additionally, some may prefer the convenience of doing it all at home and not having to deal with insurance forms, waiting rooms, and medical personnel.

If you decide to try out one of the tests on LetsGetChecked.com, please use the code marandarussell20 for 20% off your purchase! 

PO Box Opening Fun! Cute Sloths, Favorite Anime Series, and New Books!

I recently received a wonderful assortment of goodies from a friend and blog reader named Brian via my PO Box! Most of the time when I receive mail via my PO Box it is either books or products that companies or authors would like me to consider reviewing, but once in a while I do get something just for fun and that is always awesome!

The first item in the box I received was this adorable Easter sloth dressed up in bunny ears! Isn’t he the most adorable thing? I love sloths in general, and Brian knew that since we had exchanged cute sloth videos on Facebook in the past.

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The second gift in the box was this awesome Death Note anime dvd set! It has the complete series, which is awesome since Death Note is my favorite anime series of all time (which is saying something since there are a number of other anime series I love as well)!

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Lastly, since he knows I love books, Brian sent me a cool Batman graphic novel and an art book. The graphic novel is called Hong Kong and starts out with a weird murder plot involving a snake which drew me into the story right away. The art book is called The World of Rubens 1577-1640 and is a compendium of works by the artist Peter Paul Rubens. I was familiar with some of Rubens’ work, but this visual guide definitely widened the scope of his work for me.

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I want to give a big “thank you” to Brian for sending all this neat stuff! I’ve really enjoyed it so far! If anyone else ever wants to send anything via PO Box for me to consider sharing on my blog (or to enjoy privately), here is the address:

Maranda Russell
PO Box 14
Englewood, OH 45322

I am always happy to feature children’s books, toys, candy, cute stuff, and anything related to subjects I blog about frequently, such as mental illness, autism, chronic pain conditions, etc.

Video: New ACEO Artworks! Lots of Mixed Media Collages!

Hi everyone! This is just a short post to share a recent video I made showing off some of my newest ACEO art trading card artworks (both those I make and sell and those I have collected from other artists!) I love the world of miniature art and hope others get into the hobby too! It is an affordable, space-saving way to collect and display original art! Lately I’ve really been into mixed media collage artwork, which I’m sure you can tell from the video:

 

My blog is growing! 2014 in review

Check out these cool facts about my blog stats! I had about 13,000 views in 2014 from 123 countries! Wow! Thanks to all who read and support this blog of mine! I hope you continue to enjoy it!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 13,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Should book reviewers charge fees?

money-backgroundI know many indie authors and others in the literary world have vastly opposing opinions on the matter of whether book reviewers should charge fees for their services. I struggled with this issue a lot myself as a book reviewer. On the one hand, you want your reviews to be unbiased, honest and taken seriously. However, on the other hand, as a reviewer, I know that it does take a lot of time to read and review books. Each book, depending on the length can take anywhere from 30 minutes (short picture books) to a few hours to read through, especially when you are reading with a critical eye to be able to give a fair review. Add to that the time it takes to write up the review, post it online and promote the post and you can easily spend many hours creating a good book review.

For a long time I did offer free or donation-based reviews. The trouble was that I became so overwhelmed with all the time and effort of reviewing everyone else’s work that I started to slack off on my own writing and book promotional duties. For a while I tried to balance it all, but eventually realized that if I were to justify all the time I was using writing reviews, I should ask for at least a small compensation for the time and effort on my part. I never did approve of those reviewers that charge ridiculous reading fees up to several hundred dollars and think that many of them exist simply to take advantage of excited indie authors who are having a hard time finding reviews. I decided right away I WOULD NOT be one of those guys. So I decided to charge between $15 and $25 for reviews, depending on the length of the book. I still generally don’t even earn minimum wage per hour for actual time spent reading and reviewing, but I’m ok with that because I do love the work.

I know not everyone agrees with my decision and I’m ok with that. I definitely believe everyone should go with their gut when it comes to doing what feels right, but I hope they can at least understand my point of view as well. I should also mention that I do sometimes still do unpaid reviews. I occasionally trade reviews with other authors if their books are in a similar genre and I still do some reviews just because I love a book or an author and I want to share my thoughts.

Even with the reading fee, I am still careful to pick books to review that interest me too, after all, there are some genres I just don’t feel like I can do justice to in a review, because I don’t know enough about the genre. That is why I tend to stick to children’s, young adult, women’s, nonfiction and poetry genres.

Well, that is my view on things. Feel free to leave a comment below and express your opinion.