Thursday, March 26, 2015

Love Your Pets

If you've been reading or following me on Instagram for any length of time, you know I've got pets, and I absolutely adore them. My dog is like my little brother (He's my dad's dog), and I've got two cats of my own (though Henry prefers my dad to me), plus my mom's cat, who used to be my sister's. We love our pets in this house.

Sometime last year, Jane started developing a skin condition (which I think was also a nervous tic), which made her groom excessively, and she would even bleed from her abrasions. I was at my wit's end, worrying about her. We later discovered that switching her to a grain free food helped a lot. Since then, I've been interested in learning about pet health to really make them as healthy as I possibly can. I lost a dog to gastric torsion about five years ago, and I've read that diet is a leading cause.

That's what makes treats like Evanger's Beef Hearts pretty great. They're just sliced, dried beef hearts, no additives or preservatives. They break apart really easily, which makes them great for training treats (I've started giving them to Frisket when he "asks" to go outside, instead of doing something naughty, like peeing my my tennis shoes. *sigh*).

I'm pretty psyched to have gotten a chance to try these treats on my pets. They're for cats and dog, but none of my cats seem to like them. Maybe if I reconstituted them in water, softening them, they'd be more palatable. But for Frisket, he absolutely loves them. I love that what you see is what you get, and there isn't anything I can't pronounce added.

I was contacted via Instagram by a rep from, an online pet store with lots of treat options for sale, as well as 24/7 customer service and pet advice, which is pretty awesome. They not only sent us treats to try, they sent a MASSIVE toy for Frisket. It's bigger than he is! Didn't stop him from going for it, though.

But, they sent something for the cats, too.

Free Cat toy with every purchase, because what cat doesn't love a box?

Jane was in it, too, but she's skittish, so she jumped out before I could get a picture for her.

There's a lot to choose from, and I was very touched that they included a toy on top of the treats. So sweet. I'm looking forward to trying other products. Maybe I'll even find something my cats will love!

Disclosure: Products provided to me to try by I paid nothing for them, but all opinions are my own. 

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Jane Austen Book Club: Sense and Sensibility

Most people's first foray into the world of Jane Austen is Pride & Prejudice. I suppose mine was too, in the form of the PBS show, Wishbone, in their episode "Furst Impressions."

Considering it was as bare bones as could be, for a twenty-minute children's show, I didn't get much out of it, except that Wishbone can pull off any look.

Around the same time, the film version of Sense and Sensibility starring Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet came out. I'd seen previews for it on the super old school TV Guide channel (previously known as the Preview channel), and thought it looked interesting. I bought it on tape at Best Buy, and watched it. I didn't really understand it, but something resonated with me in this story.

I felt connected to both sisters. To Marianne's thirst for a dramatic, romantic life, but Elinor's more guarded nature. It took many viewings of this film for me to truly understand everything that was happening, to peel back all the layers of the characters' behaviors.

Reading the book is a completely different experience. Along with the basic story, you learn more about what happened with Edward and Lucy, how conniving Lucy Steele really was, just how much Fanny hated everyone who didn't have money, how much Willoughby intentionally, but unintentially, hurt Marianne. We especially learned how much weight Elinor had on her shoulders.

2008 (Source)

Elinor was the one who handled her family's finances, who made sure her mother didn't overspend their budget, who looked after them all. She thought she'd found love in her sister-in-law's brother, only to learn from a vindictive Lucy Steele that he was taken.

One thing I love about Jane Austen is that she writes characters so well that you can find them in your own life. I've met some Lucy Steeles in my day, the ones who want to be your best friend, but at the same time, it's to watch you, and make sure you don't get too close to the object of their affection. If she asks you if you think a certain boy is cute, if you say yes, she'll tell you he's taken, and if you say no, she'll ask what's wrong with him. She's similar to Isabella Thorpe in her vindictiveness.

1995 (Source)
It's impressive how quickly Marianne falls in love. I'm a bit pragmatic, much like Elinor, but when I was eleven, I totally understood how she fell for Willoughby. He was handsome and charming, funny, and I would've loved to have fallen in love with someone like him, even if he did break her heart. As I read through the book, I had to wonder if the story was told in this day in age, would Willoughby and Marianne have been able to make it work?

If she had any self-respect, I would hope not. A man like Willoughby, while he is able to love, he never learned any self-control, and I think he would've broken her heart time and time again.

I think that Elinor and Marianne eventually married men who their sister sort of represented. Calm, collected Elinor was deemed a suitable match for Col. Brandon, by her older brother, John. He was so obviously ignoring Col. Brandon's preference to Marianne, and it was pretty comical. I think Elinor and Brandon would've been fine together, but only because they're both so agreeable.

Edward and Marianne, while polar opposite, hear me out. Edward was secretive, passionate in his own way (and obviously moreso in the past), and believes in the power of his word, much like Marianne.

Marianne and Edward wouldn't have been a good couple, but Elinor and Brandon would've been fine. Just goes to show that just because two people make good friends, and almost siblings (Marianne long considered Edward to be her brother before he became so) doesn't mean they'll make a good match.

Elinor+Brandon=Too much practicality
Marianne+Edward=Sibling-type Love
Marianne+Willoughby=All passion, and no practicality
Elinor+Edward=Practicality and a genuine affection
Marianne+Brandon=Practicality, Romance, Friendship

Which of these do you think will last?

Honestly, people have complained in reviews that this novel is the most boring of Austen's work. That might be true, but because of Emma Thompson's lovely script, for which, she won a Golden Globe. By the way, best acceptance speech EVER.

  • Have you read Sense and Sensibility
  • What's your favorite Austen?
  • Should I read Pride & Prejudice or Mansfield Park next?

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Blog Analytics

Sorry I disappeared after talking about Jamberry last month. It's been nothing, if not a whirlwind. It's been great, actually. I had the highest sales for my team, I earned my first Fast Start with a lot of sales, a finished party, as well as my first recruit, and I'm well on my way to succeeding. I couldn't be more excited about it!

Unfortunately, with a new adventure, my blogs suffered. I haven't written anything here, or on B3 since I announced Jamberry, and for that, I am VERY sorry. Believe it or not, I did NOT forget The Jane Austen Book Club. I finished Sense & Sensibility this last weekend, so my thoughts will be there later this week, and I've also written more on my story on Wattpad, so if you're curious, feel free to check that out!

Now, the title says today's long overdue post is about Blog Analytics. I started keeping track of what my blogs and social media accounts were doing over the course of the months. Being as it's March now, I've got a bit more data to go off of. I tracked it in a simple Google Sheets file, similar to an Excel Spreadsheet.

2015Facebook - MJAFacebook - 3BPinterestTwitterGoogle PlusBlogLovin-MJABlogLovin-3bInstagramMJA Pageviews3B Pageviews

As you can see, everything has gone up between February and March, except for Twitter, and my Blog page views. I know exactly what's been happening. I don't get Twitter (though THANKS to those who've tagged me in #FF! That was so sweet! I'll try to start participating in that. :-) ), though I'm constantly told that splitting my following up into groups makes it a lot more manageable, and easy to build relationships, so I should really try that.

As for the blog views, well, why should anyone come when there isn't new content to be seen? Bad blogger! I hope to provide consistent content starting this month, and I'd love to connect with you on Twitter! Follow me @martinbeks. I'd be glad to hear from you!

I'm back. I'm hoping to continue to learn from these numbers. If you're looking for a way to grow your blog, I highly recommend jotting down your numbers from month to month, and ask yourself what's changed. It's very eye-opening.

My goal for this month is to learn as much as I can about Twitter. To continue to provide content for you, and remember, this is a place for authors to share their thoughts.

  • What are your blogging goals for the month?
  • How do you like to use Twitter?