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I used to love Sears.  And Kmart was ok depending on the store.  Sears Outlet?  Heard awful things about buying appliances from them but loved their clothing section.  I am done though.  No more.  Never again.  Well, let me rephrase that.  Never again after I spend my current points that I have racked up.  I am not letting that credit go to waste.  I will look for the item that is as close as possible to the amount so that I am not spending any real money there.  They have the WORST customer service that I have EVER dealt with! And people that know me know that when I said I was done with Walgreens and their awful customer service and stupid policies, I meant it and haven't been back.  I don't even *look* at the sale flyer because I don't want to be tempted by a good deal.  Apparently Sears and their companies are on my no shop list.  This makes me sad because I really used to love them and I recently bought a coat from the Land's End website that I love.  I'll find another store though.  

I had a problem with an order that I made for a Shop Your Way Max membership (it makes things from Kmart or Sears ship free for a year and gives you double reward points) in November.  In the beginning of December, I was trying to use it and the membership was not showing up in my account.  After going back in my order history and confirming that it did in fact show the order, I called customer service.  The lady said that it is not showing on my account (yes that was the whole problem, she's a bright one huh?) you must not have purchased it.  Yes I did, that was the order number I just told you, here it is again.  Oh, you did purchase it but the membership is not on the account... really?  Yes.  I don't know what to do about that.... ok.... No suggestion of what to do, just "I don't know what to do about that".  

Round two... Live chat.  LOL, really does make me laugh (with anger) thinking about it.  I explain the entire problem to "Bob" (no I didn't make that up) in the first one or two posts.  He doesn't understand ... here we go again.  He proceeds to tell me that I didn't purchase the Shop Your Way Max membership that I am thinking about my Shop Your Way Rewards membership.  No, I am not.  Please look at the order number that I gave you above.  That is proof that I purchased the membership but for some reason, the membership itself never activated on my account even though I used the same account.  Please let me look into this *another 10* "I see that you have purchased the Max membership but it is not showing on your account"  Yes! (getting excited because I finally, after 45 minutes thought we were getting somewhere).  Please let me look into this further.  ... waiting ... waiting... Is there anything else I can help you with today?  Umm, yes my problem with the Max membership.  There is no Max membership on your account...  Insert a crazy cycle of him not comprehending the situation, followed by him getting it, followed by him "checking into it", followed by him confused again.  I was on live chat for over an hour and a half with "Bob".  After him saying for the second time, "Thank you for contacting us.  Is there anything else I can do for you today", I told him that he was obviously not listening and I would like to speak to a supervisor instead.  Suddenly, he understood my problem and was forwarding it to the technical department (gave me a reference number) and that they would be contacting me within 3-5 business days.

Round three... Email.  When I emailed, I explained my problem in very thorough detail.  "I purchased the Shop Your Way Max membership on ____ the order number is _____.  The Max membership is not showing up on my account profile and yes I am using the same account (email: ______).  etc etc etc"  I also said that I was still awaiting response from the live chat.  The rep emails back asking me for some details that I had put in my original email ("are you using the same email?" and "did you look in your profile to see if it is there?").  I answered the question again.  The rep tells me that there is no Max membership on my account... oh goodness here we go again.  Yes that is the problem.  I told you that was the problem.  And here is the order number again for the Max membership's purchase.  I get a different rep answering me back... fantastic.  I get to go through this cycle again.  It gets to the point were they stop answering me.  I reply again... no answer.  I send a new email through the site again stating everything that had happened thus far and that if it was not fixed by the next week, I would be filing with the BBB.  No answer ever.

Round four... BBB.  I put in a claim with the Better Business Bureau (Sears Holding, sears.com has an A- rating).  A Sears rep emails me asking the same questions again even though they were answered in the claim.  I answer the very same day (a Tuesday).  The next Monday, the BBB forwards a copy of a letter that Sears sent them saying that they had written to me and that they would like for the case to be closed while they wait for my response.  I answered back that I had replied to Sears that very same day the week before and that they were the ones we were waiting on so the case should not be closed.  Just a few days before the BBB was going to close the case (because Sears was not responding), Sears wrote that after investigating, they found that I needed to contact Shop Your Way Rewards because they can't access that system.  The case was closed.  I wrote to them asking why it was closed when SYWR was PART of their company and the order was placed through sears.com.  Even if that particular person can't do something, it was their order, their company, THEY should be contacting them insuring that the problem was fixed.  They never once apologized for the problem or made any attempt to fix it.  The BBB reopened the case and forwarded my response.  But in the end, the lady from the BBB said that Sears was standing by their decision and that the case was being closed as "administratively resolved".  She basically said they were sorry that it didn't work out and gave me the link to the small claims court.  How INFURIATING! 


Round five... Facebook.  I have sent a message to the Shop Your Way Rewards telling them everything that has gone down.  They asked for my SYWR number which I gave them but I think by that time it was after close of business so we'll see if they get back to me tomorrow.  I checked out the Sears facebook page.  Apparently I am not the only one that is having an awful time with their customer service.  You should seriously check out the "posts by others" here.  You have to look through a magnifying glass to find one happy customer.  The infuriating part is that they are so fake.  They reply to almost every single post apologizing and asking for more info so that they can help even though they know darn well that they will not help.  There are many people with appliances that have broken or were never delivered, many with protection plans that are apparently worthless being left out to dry.  There are people who's refunds were promised in 3-5 business day that have waited months.  And so many other horror stories.  It really is so sad how much their company has declined.  It used to be loved by many and now it is hated by even more. I will not back down.  I will not give up.  I am the wrong consumer to tick off.  I will write reviews and file complaints wherever I can.  I will do anything short of an actual lawsuit to get my story out there and make people aware of just how far Sears has fallen.  Will my one review hurt them at all?  No.  But I WILL make myself an annoying thorn in their side.  

Anyway, sorry this is so long.  I doubt anybody is reading all the way through this but I had to get it out there.  If you know of any sites that review/rate other websites please let me know.  I know of resellerratings.com and will eventually put a review on there but Sears already has a .53 out of 10 score!  I also know that Shop At Home has a rating/review thing for the merchants.  Where else?
 
 
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The burger looks bigger than it is. That is actually a small dessert plate that it is on :)
Well as I had previously mentioned, I was very skeptical about trying the MorningStar Farms products.  In the past I had tried Boca burgers and I think other brands and thought they were just awful.  They tasted nothing like meat and worse, they had an awful aftertaste.  And Tofu? ... Yeah that doesn't happen unless it is cut small and cooked in something else or blended into something like pudding (so basically any method that covers the flavor!).  However, I am not one to turn down free food unless it were something really unhealthy that we wouldn't like.  I figured that if my husband and I didn't like them, I could at least mask them with cheese and get my boys to eat it.  Before I got my Bzz kit, I got an email from BJ's that new coupons were available (we have a free 2 month membership) and one of the coupons was for $3 off any MorningStar Farms product.  As soon as the Bzz kit got here, I headed to BJ's to see what they had and how much it would be.  The cheapest item they had was a big box of the "Grillers Vegan" burgers.  They were $10 ($9.99 or something like that) so after the $3 BJ's coupon and one of my $1 coupons from the kit, they were $6.  

One of our favorite burgers is a mushroom swiss burger and we were too scared to try a veggie burger plain anyway.  So I grilled up an onion with a can of mushrooms in a little bit of olive oil and minced garlic.  I prepared the burgers in the same skillet since I was using that anyway though you can microwave them as well (and I have tried this since when only making one for myself).  They actually smelled good!  As they were cooking, I sliced some swiss cheese and tomato and got the plates and buns ready.  I put the cheese in between the burgers and hot toppings so it would partially melt.  I put a little mayo on mine.  The above photo is the result.  Doesn't it look good?  Surprise!... they WERE good.  They tasted just like a regular burger.  I did taste a small bite of the patty by itself so that I was a proper product tester.  While it was not gross, I can't say that I would ever eat it by itself.  But the texture was so close to a real burger that I was very impressed.  And when eating on a bun, no aftertaste!  The biggest surprise though was that my husband liked it.  I had been trying to make them for a few nights but he didn't want to try them so he kept being sneaky and starting dinner before I could.  I finally caught him one night and said "NO! I am making the veggie burgers tonight and you ARE going to try them!" at which point he whined something.  The end result was that his burger was gone and he, along with the kids were annoyed that I only made one per person!  I did this so that if we didn't like it (I told you, I was not confident going into this one), I could cook them in a different way the next time.  

My breakdown of the product we tried:

Color: very close to the cheaper burger patties that you can buy.

Size: It is a small (don't remember exactly how many ounces each patty is) patty that fits well on a store bought bun.  They would kind of drown if you were using the fancier burger buns though.  I actually think the size is perfect.  I think that if they were bigger/thicker, it would be noticeable that it was not meat when you bit into it (taste wise).  They also do not shrink since they are not meat.

Texture: Very much like a real meat patty.  By looking at the pictures of some of the other varieties, I think that they might have a different texture (and very different color) so this only applies to this variety. 

Price:  Pretty expensive to my cheap butt.  Veggie products are not cheap to begin with and this line is quite a bit more than the Boca line, though they also taste a lot better.  The bigger boxes at BJ's were $10 and over.  The smaller boxes (which are quite small... less than a half pound) were $3.18 at the Commissary which means that at regular stores they were probably $4 or more. 

Variety:  Amazing!  This is just what I saw (have looked at BJ's and the Commissary)... Burgers (Grillers Original, Grillers Vegan, Grillers Prime, Garden something, Black Bean Chipoltle, Spicy Black Bean), "Chicken" Patties (I think I saw two kinds), "chicken" nuggets, "chicken" (chunks of unbreaded grilled chicken looking stuff), breakfast sausage patties, breakfast sausage links, hot dogs, corn dogs, "meat"balls, chili, and riblets!  That is a LOT!  And this is not all, its just the products from those two stores, they have MANY more at other stores.

I was hoping that I would have tried another variety by the time I did this write up but we have had a pretty busy week so I hope to do another post within the next week.  Today at the store we bought the chili with my free coupon and will use it tomorrow for our Meatless Monday meal with some cornbread and veggies.  My husband wants to try the black bean burgers (either variety) and maybe the riblets.  I might use my other BJ's coupon (with a $1 coupon) to get a box of the chicken patties or nuggets since my kids liked the burgers so much.  Bottom line... These will not replace the occasional thick juicy beef burger.  But they do make a nice quick guilt-free snack.

The MorningStar Farms site has a sweepstakes going on right now where they have a giveaway every Monday in honor of Meatless Monday.  Tomorrow they will be giving away 10 nice looking Cuisinart Toaster Ovens.  I will be entering, will you?  Go here to check it out.
 
 
Hello all.  I have a post coming about the surprising results on the Morningstar Farms campaign by the end of the weekend.  I was wondering though, how did you find my blog?  As I was checking my stats (I do this often even though they are low) and noticed I had a very large (for my size) spike today and am just curious where it came from.  This normally happens on a day that I have a new post go up or if I happen to post my link on a big page (like when I post an Old Navy review on Old Navy's page).  It has been a few days since I last posted and even longer since I posted one of my links on another page.  So if you could just take a quick minute to comment and let me know how you found my page if you are a newcomer (or if you do follow regularly, let me know that as well), I would really appreciate it :)  
 
 
If you need anything from Old Navy, this weekend would be a great time to stop by.  This weekend they have an extra 30% off of clearance merchandise.  I don't know if it is every store but I do know that this time of year Old Navy clears out a lot of stock nationwide so it would be worth checking.  We were actually there earlier this week because my husband needed some running gear and were surprised by the amount of clearance throughout the store.  The reason we came back today was a lovely little app that I just adore.  It's called SnapAppy.  It is free to download and more importantly, it works not only with the smartphones but also with the ipod touch (any of the newer versions that have cameras on them).  I don't have a smartphone and actually have all data blocked on my phone so that I (and the sneaky four year old) don't accidentally use a bunch of it.  With this app, you take photos of the Old Navy logo on tags either at your house or (if you have 3g or a store with wifi) in store.  Each time you snap a photo, you get a "surprise".  Sometimes they are things that I just ignore but many times they are coupons to use in store.  They can be things like "$5 off $25 purchase", "10% off", etc.  But my absolute favorite coupon that will make me run in for a special trip is the amazing "$5 off any purchase"!  My husband and I both have the app and were both lucky enough to get this gem.  So today during our errands, the first stop was Old Navy.  Imagine our surprise when we saw the "additional 30% off already reduced clearance prices" ^_^  I was excited.  I found many good deals in the HUGE clearance section and there was clearance throughout the store as well.  I was strong though because I know that I might end up using my Old Navy Super Cash that I earned on my CrowdTap Sample Share.  In the end, I got the fitted gray tee and the gray long sleeve tee with my coupon.  I like solid color tops so that my bright, awesome scarves can go nicely.  My total?  $.61 *including* tax!  And my husband decided to use his on the gray and black sweater above for $2.09 including tax!  Even without coupons, the sweater was $7, the tee was $1.74, and the long sleeve tee was $3.84.  Below is a screenshot of how the app looks.  At the bottom center, you take the photo.  After it decides what your prize it, it will give you the option of saving it or discarding it.  I only save the coupons I will use.  Those are stored in the "surprises" section.  When you want to use them, you hit "surprises", then click on the one you want.  It will ask you if you want to redeem it, click the button.  The image below will show which includes a barcode that I obviously covered up (though they are one time use anyway).  The cashier will try to scan it but for us they had to type in the code below the barcode.  After you use it, you click "done deal" so that it will erase so you remember which coupons you have used.  Since I am not using a phone and my store does not have wifi, I pull up the coupon on my ipod before I go.
Good news... my quest to become healthier is going well.  I exercised three times this week.  I have not consumed any full boxes of cookies and have been replacing at least one meal per day with a super healthy smoothie.  Below is a photo of the big old bag of kale that I bought this week to supercharge my smoothies.   It doesn't look huge but that is my 5qt Kitchenaid next to it for a size comparison and I have already made multiple servings.  Today I made one that was delicious with no sugar added.... kale, parsley, pink lady apples, a bit of water, a kiwi, some frozen  banana, a few flax seeds, and a spoonful of lowfat plain yogurt.  My anti-veggie boys LOVE them and are proud of themselves for consuming the veggies in these.  I just give them a small glass to go with their meal not replacing a meal obviously.  But they feel that it is a treat so it is a win win situation.  I highly recommend adding green smoothies to your diet, they are amazing!  
And last but not least, I have to shout out to Ruby Tuesday's customer service.  I had an issue with the service that I received on Wednesday night and immediately emailed late that night.  By Friday I was contacted by the regional manager who was very friendly and helpful in resolving my problem.  I was very impressed by the quick and effective response.  Thumbs up to you Ruby Tuesday!  Sears take note....
 
 
Did you know that twice per year Target does a huge reduction of toys where they clearance them at 70% off?  It happens in January and July.  Today was the day where they went from 50% off to 70% off and they go FAST.  Some stores are probably pretty wiped out already but others will still have an aisle or two left.  If you didn't get a chance to go today but want to check it out, I would find a way to be able to go tomorrow as early as possible.  Seriously, during this sale, a store can go from 2 full aisles, to a few measly toys in a day.  The above photo is what I grabbed this year.  During the clearance sales, I buy toys for the whole year's birthdays and the next Christmas.  The signs on the shelves said 30% off or 50% off but most of the toys did have the correct stickers on them (at my stores at least).  But even if they don't have the 70% off stickers, be sure to scan clearance toys that you are interested in as most of them really are the higher percentage.   There were a few things that really are only 50% off there like these Star Wars vehicles that I saw.  And a few of the Cars toys that I picked up were actually MORE than 70% off.  Total before discount... $282.83 plus tax.  Total after discount... $66 plus tax!  They have increased the percent off for clearance in the rest of the store as well.  There were many 50% off shoes, varying percentages for sporting goods, clothing, etc. 
 
 
Let me just tell you, Sears customer service is awful.  I love the deals that I can get from Sears, Sears Outlet, Kmart, etc but only if I don't end up having a problem because they stink at fixing them!  After over a month of back and forth via email, live chat, and over the phone, I finally filed a report with the Better Business Bureau.  We'll see if they fix it.  I sincerely hope they do.  

On another note, I went running with my boys the other day.  Granted it wasn't far.  I am not nor have I ever been a runner.  But we went for a short jog down the gravel/dirt road and finished off with a sprint down my grandma's long driveway.  It's a start.  

My husband is really bummed about not getting into the SodaStream Houseparty.  Making and uploading videos supposedly increases your chances of getting chosen.  He made 3 (2 of the 3 were in the top 5 rated videos) that were way more creative than most of the rest so he really thought he had a shot.  As for me?  The only new product test that I have to do as of yet is MorningStar Farms.  I received my coupons yesterday from Bzzagent and hope to use them by the weekend.  I'm a bit skeptical.  I love meat but would like to cut down on it.  I know that these products will not taste like meat but hopefully they will at least be good enough that we like them.
 
 
Well the new year has started off with the entire family being sick... fan-tastic.  As far as new year's resolutions, I don't generally make them.  I always fail when I do.  So I have been wanting to make getting healthier more of a life goal instead.  As I get older, I start to worry about poor eating and exercise habits not only because of the looks aspect (but let's be real, my recent weight gain has really affected my overall mood) but because of my health.  My dad was only 31 (well turning 31 about a month later) when he had his stroke.  He had to change his eating habits and start exercising after that.  I'd rather not have to be snapped into shape by something like that.  I'd like to do myself proud and find (and keep!) my motivation.  I really am so much happier when I am sticking to a routine and eating somewhat healthy.  I will never bee one of those people that think a small square of chocolate is their splurge.  Candy bar? Yes.  Brownie sundae?  Yes that is a splurge.  One ounce of chocolate is a side lol.  But I need to get back into sneaking veggies into my smoothies and cutting back on the junk food.  As soon as this throbbing pain in my ears and sinus pressure go away, I am actually looking forward to working out again.  It's been a long time.  It's sad too because we were almost through the P90X program (about 2 1/2 months into the 3 month program) before the move, probably the longest I have stuck with a workout program since having kids.  I hadn't cheated either.  In fact, during some of the rest or easier days, I actually added in some Zumba or other exercise.  I was proud of myself, slowly losing the weight (not as fast as I had wanted but slow and steady wins the race right?), and most importantly, it was getting easier to get through the workouts.  So, all rambling aside, I guess I am publicly putting it out there that I am going to do this this year.  Not "I hope" like usual.  I will.  I can do, I know I can.  I will need help keeping the motivation so I hope my husband will help me but hopefully you guys can keep me on track as well.  What do you say?

On another note, I had 69 views the other day.  This may seem like a measly number to the rest of the world but to me, it is a record and it made me very happy.  Keep viewing, following on Facebook and Twitter, and sharing with your friends please.  The more readers I get, the more I will be motivated to post :)  So a Happy New Year to you and yours.  
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The cranberry/orange/apple hot cider that I made myself for breakfast one morning to make me feel a little better.
 
 
This has been one of my very favorite sample shares.  The selection was great.  There was a whole large section dedicated to the activewear then another rack of the fleece jackets (that counted) over in the middle of the store.  Don't let the photos of what I tried on fool you, I just had very specific items that I wanted this time.  There was fleece, yoga wear, running wear, compression tops/bottoms, bike shorts, velour, sports bras, etc etc.  See how happy my photo is above?  No crazy scribbling this time because it was a 100% successful trip!  Thanks Old Navy and Crowdtap!
Everything I tried on fit with the exception of some of the pants were too long for my short self.  Some times Old Navy things fit weird (not just me, my sister and friends who have different shapes then me all have trouble with their fit on some items around the shoulders or height of the waist).  This time I had no problem with things being tight in the shoulders or the waist being in the wrong spot.  The quality of the materials felt nice.  This is another hit or miss at Old Navy. Some of the items are nice quality but some feel very cheap like they will fall apart.  This is not the case with the activewear.  Everything that I tried on or felt, felt like great quality.  The only piece of activewear that I already had was a sports bra and it is still holding up fantastically (and it's cute).
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K tried on a variety of things and they all looked great on her.  She ended up going with the gray and white top (she bought that) then used the coupon for the pants with the matching waistband and gray compression jacket.  She was thinking about the the purple running top (bottom left) which also looked really cute with her base outfit that she had decided on but ended up going with the gray jacket when we were getting ready to leave.  I really liked the the teal-ish color ruched tank that she is wearing in the bottom right as well.  It was such a pretty color and design.

We didn't really interact with any of the employees except for the cashier at checkout and she was nice.  I was pretty surprised to get 2 $20 Old Navy Super Cash coupons from my $4 purchase (a clearance sports bra).  Apparently they go off of the pre- coupon price.  I am thinking that pairing these with clearance rack clothing will make for a sweet deal.  They are $10 off a $25 purchase or $20 off of a $50 purchase.  One is staying with me and the other is being sent to my mom who supposedly likes their cardigans with pockets and is waiting for them to go on sale.

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These are just some more of the combinations that I had put together.  I took pictures of everything but after seeing it, was not considering a matching outfit.  The gray with gray or purple with purple was way too matchy matchy for my taste.  I did like the purple top with gray bottoms but I really wanted pants so that I can wear them now instead of indoors only or waiting until spring.  As you can see, I wasn't adventurous with the tops.  I tried on the same compression jacket in three different colors and that is it (well I was wearing a black active tank as well).  This was not because I didn't like anything else or that there was a limited selection.  I just REALLY liked the jacket.  Form fitting, long sleeve, cute thumb-holes, full zipper (easy on/off), and nice colors made it the perfect active top in my eyes.  It also came in a hot pink but not in my store :(  The hardest part for me was figuring out what color I wanted to get it in because they were all cute.  In the end I got the purple but if they had the deep purple of the running top (on K above), I would have chosen it immediately as it is a beautiful color. 

I have already worn my outfit twice and it is ridiculously comfortable.  The sleeves tuck in easily if you don't want to wear the thumb holes  The next step is to wear it to work out in (to get rid of those 20 lbs I gained the last 6 months! plus the 15 I had wanted to get rid of then) not just hang out I suppose.  You know those New Years resolutions and all?....