Thursday, December 11, 2008
Christmas is fast approaching, boys and girls. I know most of you aren't quite finished with your shopping, and what makes things even more difficult and stressful is when you aren't able to find that special movie or television series. If you use a search engine to quickly locate one, this website will show up in the search results.
At first glance, the site http://www.tvdvdmania.com/ looks legitimate, with sales and specials, easy navigating, and a large inventory. To the unaware and sometimes unfortunate buyer, this website promises an inexpensive Christmas gift to your loved one. The entire "Murder, She Wrote" series for $60? What a steal.
My mother, a highly intelligent, good-hearted woman, nearly fell victim to this website about a week ago. She ordered my father "The Smothers Brothers" DVD collection, a rare find that even amazon.com does not carry. Within 3 days, she received an email stating her order had been cancelled - the credit card was declined. She tried again, same response. I suggested she use her debit card, and it was also declined, the site stating that her account had been cancelled. Finally, she called her credit card company and discovered TVDVDMania.com had charged her account and included a confirmation code. She called the store. They claimed there was no charge.
After going back and forth and even having the credit card company say to the store that there was in fact a charge (more denial), my mom called me, frustrated. I looked up this store review and after lots of digging, found several reviews that coincided with what happened with my mom.
Check out some of the reviews from this site: http://www.complaintsboard.com/?search=tvdvdmania
"I am one of the hundreds of people ripped off by www.tvboxset.com, AKA Garcia Media Group, AKA SXR.CA. On August 3rd, 2007, I placed an order with said company for a Wonder Years DVD box set (Order #24534). They immediately charged my credit card $71.98. I of course NEVER received the item... "
"Wish I'd come across your posting before making my boxed set purchase. Not only did I receive bogus DVDs (blank) but the my credit card number was used by a syndicate in Nigeria that began to make all sorts of charges. Luckily my bank picked up strange charges immediately and invalidated..."
And some more from the Pissed Consumer website:
"Company sells DVD's of TV shows; not sure if legit as I am having trouble canceling an order and getting my money back; company is ignoring my request for a refund so having to get my credit card company involved ... buyer bewareThere appears to be a lot of companies online selling similar items. I found this company after doing a search on Yahoo so I thought it would have been legit. I hope to prevent others from running into the kinds of problems I am having right now. Always research a company before buying on online! You can never be too safe!"
Once I found these reviews, along with a few more from amazon.com, I forwarded the links to my mom. She immediately called her bank and the CC company and explained what she found. They immediately cancelled the charges for her. She also emailed TVDVDMania to cancel her order, if one was still in process. As discouraged as she was to not be able to give my dad the dvd sets, she is very relieved to have her money back in her account.
I dug around a little more on the site. Check out some of the replies to the FAQs TVDVDMania offers:
Do you offer Express shipping?
Unfortunately, we do not offer Overnight or Express Shipping as our DVD sets are custom ordered.
Um, custom ordered? If amazon.com offers express shipping, along with several stores on ebay - both are considered 'custom' sites. Unless you are talking about taping over previously pirated dvds...then I could see the problem.
I have not received a response to my email and it has been 48 hours. Why?
99% of the time, our email's got trapped in your SPAM/BULK mail folder.
Please note that many e-mail accounts do not recognize our e-mail address and mark us as "Spam". Because of this our e-mails may be sent into your "Spam" or "Junk" box. We ask that you please check your "Spam"/"Junk" box to see if our reply has been placed there.
Also, please check to ensure that we are in your address book so that our e-mails are not blocked. Some known email accounts where this problem has occurred are: Yahoo, AOL, Gmail and Hotmail.
If you were a legitimate business, this problem would also be averted. I have yet to see amazon.com and ebay emails in my spam folder. Oh, and at least there is some form of honesty on their "Terms & Conditions" page, which nobody ever reads...unless you're MsJudgemental!
My comments in bold:
It is understood by the customer that some of the DVDs sold by DVD Mania have been individually compiled from original film stock and public domain wholesaler sources. (Meaning that these are pirated copies.) These sources have an inconsistent level of preservation associated with them. In accordance the playback experienced may vary from movie to movie on any DVD collection purchased. (Meaning that 'it isn't our fault they don't play properly) Every effort has been given to maintain true DVD quality, but the customer understands and accepts that some level of imperfection is present in each film and that level of imperfection can vary significantly between films. This means the customer accepts that their may be "pauses" or "skips" present in the playback of any given film. We have made every effort to keep errors to a minimum, but they may still exist. The customer accepts this as part of their set, and as part of owning films directly converted from original film stock.
Look, Mania gurus, this shouldn't even be a PART of your disclaimer. You should be standing behind a 100% high quality product with a satisfaction guarantee. Specialized stores shouldn't be half-ass efforts.
And finally, a forum discussion thanks to Amazon.com.
DO NOT purchase anything from this company. I can only hope this review shows in the Search Results section of yahoo and google. Review the store before you buy!
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Nope, I am still a glutton for punishment. I still bargain shop for Insta-meals and am determined to save an extra dollar while our economy plunges further into the depths of despair.
Kraft's South Beach Diet insta-pizzas caught my eye this past Sunday night, especially when I saw they were 15 cents cheaper than the average sodium-loaded Red Baron pizzas. To top it off, they make their pizzas with a wheat crust. I hurredly snatched 3 frozen boxes and chunked them in my cart, next to my always adored Lean Cuisine paninis.
Today's victim is the SB Grilled Chicken and Vegetable pizza with wheat crust. First, the image:
Following, the nutritional facts:
Calories from Fat: 90
Total Fat: 10g
Saturated Fat: 4g
Total Carbohydrate: 37g
Dietary Fiber: 10g
And the review:
Every so often I have to serve my dog Cyrus a pill for some ailment or injury he obtained. This is always pure excitement and involves me chasing him around the house, crashing into the coffee table, falling down cursing and losing the pill (which was about $4 per tablet), then him feeling guilty and allowing me to jam the found pill down his throat. He ends up hawking it up, stuffing it in his jaw to avoid the taste, and later in the evening I can hear him smacking his lips in his attempts to remove the now jammed-in-the-gum pill from its location. The sound and sight is hilarious.
It's even more hilarious on a human, especially me. This pizza was dry beyond logical reasoning, especially with the high amount of sugar in it. There was no tomato sauce, and the spinach topping felt a little moldy. With the high amount of sodium in it, I drank a whole bottle of water in one sitting. The caloric content is reasonable, but as always, I supplement my meals with fruit and chips. I need the carbs to keep my internal engine going, so I could justify that.
The pizza's wheat crust was actually decent - flaky and crunchy, like pizzas should be. Of course, with all wheat breads, the texture will be a bit dryer than white, however I am used to that by now, having been consuming wheat bread for several years. I consider white bread a splurge.
I doubt I will buy this pizza again, and just go for spending an extra 10 cents on a Lean Cuisine or Healthy Choice for the next time. I do have 2 additional South Beach meals hiding in my abyss of a freezer, though.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Around my circle of friends, I'm known as the 'delicate flower' of the group. I'm feminine, squeamish with gross topics that men find funny, and wear pink on a daily basis. I am your all around girly-girl. However, I also ride horses, play tennis and volleyball, and have been known to cut down trees and brush on some acreage my family owns a little up north.
While most women claim that women don't sweat, we 'glow', I simply roll my eyes and make a mental note to proclaim loudly, "Look! She's glowing!" while a woman is in childbirth or even walking around in the Southern part of my world's blistering heat. Texan women don't glow. We don't glisten. We don't have vapors. Heck, we don't even slightly perspire.
We sweat. As my mother recently commented: "We sweat like turkeys at a turkey barn who are being chased around the turkey pen by a guy named Albert with a hatchet similar in size to the one Daniel Boone used while fighting off the indians."
Yes, your very own Ms Judgemental is a perspiring bucket of body coolant, yet somehow extremely sexy woman. And I am darn proud of my sweatiness, thank you. However, while it is appropriate to sweat during a work out, as your body is cooling itself down and burning off the fats and starches you ate earlier (remember that bowl of pasta? No wonder you smell like garlic!), with the average human body containing around 2 million sweat glands. Here is a little excerpt I know my readers will find fascinating:
"There is also a difference in the chemical elements when we perspire. Perspiration that is produced through the Aprocrine glands, or in the armpit, will be thicker and perhaps have a yellowish color. This is because it contains fatty acids and proteins. It is this type of sweat under the arms, coupled with antiperspirants, which can turn clothing yellow. Notice when we apply deodorants it is only to the armpits, in order to counteract the smell of the Aprocrine sweat. Sweat is actually odorless, but when it starts to decompose and is attacked by bacteria, the smell can be unpleasant." (source: www.wisegeek.com/why-do-we-sweat.htm)
The result: You stink. Your underarms stink. Body odor is not an alluring scent that will attract Prince Charming from miles away. And while I hate to admit it, sometimes my sweat is a bit 'undelicate'. (Hangs head in shame)
One afternoon I ventured out to the Big Box store for my every few months personal product supply stockup. After weaving in and out of aisles, I found myself standing in front of a 10 foot long, 5 foot wide section of sparkly plastic tubes and aerosol cans of deodorant. Vanilla Sunrise or Banana Origami? Clear? Solid? The possibilities were endless. In their attempt to confuse us even more with thousands of powder white to clear gooey scented sticks, deodorant companies have now come out with another fantastic product guaranteed to leave one frolicking in the forest with unicorns while wearing a dress made out of lavendar and jasmine. And sadly, no unicorns visited me in the forest, and my dress fell apart. (Lavendar doesn't glue well.) However, as bright colors always do, a yellow "New!" tag on a white box caught my eye:
Deodorant in a box? At the Big Box Store? For the price of $5.99? Hm, this could be interesting. Being unhappy with my current smelly stick and not feeling springtime fresh like it promised me, I threw the box in my cart and resumed my shopping. With words like "Clinically proven", "Doctor Endorsed", an extra dollar to spend, and shiny colors on the box, maybe it was worth a try.
The following day I got up, performed my womanly duties with soaps, creams, goos, gels, grunts and groans, and decided to give the stuff a try. I noticed absolutely nothing extraordinary during the day, despite lifting my arm to see if hydrangea and baby powder would pop out of my armpit glands. I did smell fresh and clean, however. Riding would be a good test that night.
I went riding. I sweat. My body ached with a strenuous workout. But the pits were still fresh and clean, even thought I had drops of sweat running down my back. Was this a fluke? Did I sweep that much on? I did notice a bit of white residue on my shirt, so I figured I had been overcompensating in the past with my 'unclinical' stick. I tested the product the following day, using less. I played volleyball after work that evening and still smelled fresh. No residue, either.
This was too good to be true! Sure, my hair was sticky, and I sweat as much as I normally do, but I didn't have the nasty feeling that I once felt with my regular product. I felt less stale, less disgusting when we went out to eat afterwards.
6 months later, I am still using the Clinical Strength stuff, using less than I once did with the regular sticks. No, I haven't seen a unicorn in the forest yet, but Texas has lost the battle with one stinky woman, who now smells powder fresh.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
With that in mind, I went to my local grocery store and stocked up on 'insta-meals': welcome new category!
My freezer's supply is getting low, but in my attempts to keep pinching the poop off the buffalo on a penny I dug around and discovered a loan box, snatched it up, and ate it for lunch today. Then I read the paper, RIGHT after I pitched the container in the trash. Oops.*
Today's experiment was Lean Cuisine's 13.25 ounce Chicken Florentine meal. No preservatives! Here are the nutritional facts they exploit right on the box:
- Fat - 9g
- Calories - 410
- Vitamin A - 70%D
- VCalcium - 35%DV
- Vitamin C - 0%DV
- Dietary Fiber - 24%DV
- Weight Watchers® Points® 8
- Vegetable Servings 1
- Total Carbohydrates (g) 54 - 18% DV
I'm all about the high fiber content at this point in my life, and for a woman my age, that's a bit less milk I have to drink to get my calcium. The sodium content is a bit high at 840 mg, 35% DV, but that is easy to counteract with enough water consumption and eating acidic fruit with the meal. Calorie-wise, if you focus only on that, it isn't much for a meal within a 2,000 calorie diet. However, knowing my system, internal clock, and overall being in tune with my body (as all women need to be in their 20s and up) I knew that the carb content was enough to keep my engine burning through the rest of today. Me + no carbs = zonked out writer with no personality! That equals less reviews for you all. And yes, people do read this...especially my Rooms to Go review...wow! The hits on that are astounding!
Moving along...the recommended radioactive cancer forming (also known as microwave) time was about 5 minutes with a stop/stir in between. I chunked mine in my office fridge this morning about 9:30 when I stumbled in, late as always. It sat for about 2 1/2 hours until I remembered I brought my lunch and needed to eat. I nuked this bad boy for about 2 minutes, found the center frozen like a hot pocket, then nuked it for another minute. Give it a stir and off we go!
The pasta noodles are precooked and taste like plain pasta noodles. They aren't crunchy or dry, and retain the spiral shape pretty well. The chicken is impressive -all white breast meat that is tender, juicy, and no sign of frost bite. The veggies are good; the meal doesn't contain enough for my liking, but I'm someone who will sit and eat an entire head of broccoli and puts okra in everything.
The meal loses points for the sauce. With the freezing/thawing/nuking process, the sauce loses the creamy thickness people adore in pasta, and turns into a watery, runny mess. It appears and tastes as if it was made with skim milk, and in further review of the ingredients, my taste buds were correct. This is where the lower caloric content comes into play. I prefer at lowest, 1% milk within the sauce.
My tastebuds are also an the pro-savory side. The sauce in the meal is a bit bland and leans to the sweet side, so I had to season it severely to satisfy my salty desires. I also cracked some pepper over it, which helped.
The portion size for me is perfect (I am 5'3'' and on a good day weigh about 125 pounds; if you tell anyone I'll smack you), but I do supplement with fruit. I also have an afternoon snack to keep me from inhaling cookies or cake that our office loves to provide. It's a birthday! Let's have cake. Retirement! Cake! New hire! Cake! Someone had a baby! Cake! Someone has diabetes! Ca-...er...cake with fruit on top!
Overall, I give this about a 3.75 out of 5 on my insta-meal scale. I will buy this meal again, but now I remember why it always finds it way to the no-man's land of my freezer. However, if you are craving some carbs, pasta, and just something different, rather than a PB&J or pizza, it's worth the $2.50 you spend at the store. Lean Cuisine also provides coupons, which, at this point in the economy, makes the addition of salt seem worth the 40 cent savings.
*Editor's note: I ate this meal despite the news that 3 of Lean Cuisine's meals have been recalled here in my side of Texas. If I die, now you guys will know why!
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
There's also an accent chair! Stare at it for a few minutes, and the geometric shapes adjust before your eyes. It goes with all 4 of the collection's colors...
Monday, November 3, 2008
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Friday, September 26, 2008
However, I recently came upon something available to review. Now, I'm no real food critic, but I know what good food is and what isn't. Grand Lux is the first victim to my unsual and sometimes picky tastebuds. The following is a review of a few of their menu items.
Grand Lux is a highly rated and sometimes pricy restaurant with a location in the Galleria area of Houston, TX (where I am based...no stalkers, please!) They serve the standard items - meat, sandwich/burgers, salads, and pasta plates, all with their own 'signature style'. I suppose anything with garlic added to it must be a signature.
The first time I ate at the Galleria location was a few months ago with coworkers. I ordered the following combo for lunch:
Lunch Sandwich Special One-Half of a Chicken Salad, Turkey, B.L.T or Tuna “Nicoise” Sandwich, a Cup of Our Soup and a Small House Salad (source: http://www.grandluxcafe.com/menu.htm)
The price at this location was 10.95. A little high for my tastes, until I saw the amount of food I was presented. The salad was slightly bland with their house dressing and wasn't really dressed. The bread was sourdough, a Turkey sandwich. The soup? Fantastic. I ate the chicken mushroom soup and couldn't get enough of it. Fabulous.
This afternoon, my coworkers had another urge to return to the cafe, and I decided to try something different - and with less food. I ordered this:
Lunch Oven Baked Rustic Pizza & Salad A Half of an Oven Baked Pizza and a Small House Salad. Your Choice of: Margherita, Pepperoni, B.B.Q. Chicken or Fresh Mozzarella (Source same as above)
It was another giant portion. I ordered the mozzarella pizza with the house salad (ranch dressing - yep, they chunked garlic in there too.)
My friend ordered the margherita pizza and we decided to share, since we both wanted both pizzas.
The mozzarella pizza was tasty for the first two slices, then started to feel greasy as I continued to eat. The garlic chunks were large, with fresh spinach and sundried tomatoes. The salad was light, a typical house salad. The price: $10.95. For the size of the pizza and salad, this was fairly priced. The margherita pizza consisted mainly of tomatoes and cheese, and didn't have the feel of a true pizza like what one could purchase from the California Pizza Kitchen. The tomatoes could have used a little seasoning to them. However, both pizzas tasted fresh and well-prepared, the dough being crispy and soft in all the right places.
Overall, though the menu is high priced, the portions that are served coincide with the size of dollar you want to spend. With a glass of tea, my total came to $14.02. My server was well informed of the menu (as all servers are required to be at this place). The location was impecably clean, and food was served promptly during the busy lunch hour. I will continue to dine here, giving the restaurant a 3 1/2 out of a 5 star rating...for now. I may try a burger next time.
If you go, check out the chicken and mushroom soup! It's fantastic. Also check out their homemade chocolate chip and nut infused cookies. They are the size of a bread plate. Next time I will also attempt one of their desserts.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Throughout this website, you will find several product review from items “As Seen on TV!”. Such as the following product:
Meet the infamous Magic Bullet. Created by Homeland Housewares, its relatives include a Fat Burning supplement, an upgrade kit, and a recipe booklet. The Bullet appeared a few years ago for the one-time low price of $99.95, but now is available in most home goods stores.
I purchased my Bullet from one of those local stores with a 20% off coupon clutched tightly in my fat little hands. I eagerly hurried home, thousands of recipes in my head for amazing, fat free meals that could be ready to pour in only 10 seconds.
The basic setup includes the motor, four ‘party cups’ two sealant lids, shaker and steamer tops, two blades, and two cups – a large and a small. Oh, the party cups come with 4 various colored ‘comfort rings’, as the site so eloquently put it. I also pulled out an instruction manual and recipe booklet, which as of late I unfortunately have not opened. In fact, I can’t recall where I put it. The instructions lasted about two days before my first explosion.
To start off with, I read some reviews on one of my favorite shopping sites: Amazon. One review stated that there was a strange smell when the motor was run for more than 10 seconds. Other reviewers loved the product, while some reeked of a standardized review from the company with nothing but the actual product name replaced.
My first ‘recipe’ was, and still is, my standard breakfast protein shake. I used the tall cup because of the amount of milk and powder required to create my desired amount of breakfast goodness. I used the basic two blade attachment to mix the drink. The outcome is the same each time: While the consistency of the shake tastes fine – no chunks of powder get lodged in my throat while I’m hurriedly driving to work – about a half inch of the drink by the blade turns into a foamy concoction, causing me to swallow large amounts of air. I attempted to drink out of a party cup with the yellow comfort lid, all to discover that those lids are not suitable for the dishwasher and warp if you use the heat dry option on it. The drink promptly spilled all over my white shirt, and I was clutching my purse to my chest most of the day. I have since not used the rings. In fact, those are gone too…maybe somewhere with the recipe manual.
Not to give up so easily, I attempted my first food chopping experience with the trusty Bullet. I use a lot of garlic in my dishes because of its heart-healthy benefits, but the smell on fingers of garlic is not pleasant after the second day. I decided to try to create a simple marinade using olive oil, a few cloves of garlic, and a few other spices. I used the main blade with the 4 pronged chopper, and the small cup. The result was pleasant, and at this point I did notice a slight ‘heat’ smell associated with running the motor longer than 10 seconds. I checked the machine over, with no visible problems, I continued using it.
The marinade came out beautifully, and my hands were not tormented by the sticky, garlic feeling that takes a week to wash off. As of now, I have chopped onions, cheese, and pureed fruit with it. The smell also has not returned.
I also made a fruit smoothie using frozen fruit, yoghurt, and some milk with it. My only complaint with the cups is that there should be a third cup in a larger size, as the smoothie turned out to expand a little more than I anticipated.
Here are some notes on caring for the Bullet:
Don’t wash the blades in the dishwasher. My advice is if you are in a hurry, rinse the residue from your creation off and leave it until you get home in the evening. At that time, I advise handwashing the blade. My experience with a fruit smoothie yesterday consisted of the rubber ring within the blade’s cap becoming loose and popping out of the chamber, delightfully spraying purple paste all over my refrigerator, and making me change into a new shirt.
The rings are a waste of time. I use the party cups when my other two cups are dirty and are in the dishwasher – these are the only things that can be thrown in there.
If you decide to make a smoothie and it calls for one cup of milk, add a little extra. The blades are not standard blender blades. This machine is ideal for apartment dwellers that have little space, but because of its small size, it can’t handle the stress of frozen fruit as well as a standard blender can. Hence why I bought the machine - I lived in a tiny, 730 square foot apartment with the world's smallest kitchen.
Overall, I like my little Magic Bullet and continue to use the product. If I can find the recipe booklet, I’ll try out one of the recipes. It’s probably with those darn party cup rings somewhere….
Special thanks to Kat for giving me the idea for my first review!
I am your host, the nameless one. There is nothing more you need to know about me, other than I write for a living and have also been blogging since 2004. For the past year, I have been interested in writing reviews for specific products. Why? When I read the average product reviews on amazon.com , bestbuy.com, and other websites, I never get a true 'feel' of the users overall opinion.
So I created this site, with a play on words in the title, and reviews that don't contain opinions like the following:
"This is a great album!! People on here bitchin about a harder album can go listen to something else!! Staind has always been best with their slower tunes! Just like Pearl Jam when they try to speed it up their music sucks!! These bands are best with slower tunes!! Face it!! "
Link stolen from here .
These are real reviews, with real opinions that contain more than the 100 basic words of the English language. I welcome product suggestions (within reason, please) and guest reviews at any time.
The first review will be coming soon. Check back often!