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Streaming Gear: The Best Deals

Just in case you’ve been living under a rock, streaming has completely changed the way consumers experience entertainment, and in turn, has totally rocked the entertainment industry. And with the popularity and easy access to the platform (you only need a smartphone to start streaming) and the ridiculous amounts of success it has enabled (Ninja, popular Fortnite streamer, made nearly $10 million in 2018 and advanced in 2019 to a total net worth of $15 million and rising), more and more gaming enthusiasts are hoping to turn their hobby into a stream of income (no pun intended).

While streaming can certainly be as simple as downloading a streaming app to your phone and giving it a go, there are a few pieces of equipment that can take it from home video quality to a stream with crispy graphics, quality sound, and professional transitions. The content, though, is completely up to you!

This post may contain affiliate links to help me pay to keep this blog on the web. For more on that, check here.

Control Deck

A control is essentially a small additional keyboard that you use to program commands for your stream, like playing a sound, starting a screen transition, muting your mic, turning your camera on or off, etc. The possibilities are only limited by what your streaming program can handle and how many buttons your control deck keyboard has.

Many professionals opt for the Elgato Stream Deck. Because it is a popular option, there is a lot on online support and tutorials that show you how you can really maximize your new tool. But for beginning streamers, it might be too much of an investment.

If you want the functionality of the stream deck and don’t mind a bit of DIY, you can easily set up custom commands on any additional keyboard pad like the ones below!

  1. The ELSRA USB keypad can be programmed to do basic shortcuts for your streaming at less than HALF the cost of the Elgato Stream Deck. Bonus: it has clear keys so you print your own button layouts so you can completely customize the way it looks!

2. Use the Touch Portal app with your smartphone or tablet.

While this does require that you already have a tablet or smartphone that you can dedicate during streams to just this function, the app has a free version that let’s you do a lot, and working within the app is simple and easy to understand, even for a novice streamer.

If you don’t have a tablet or you need to have your phone accessible and want some more screen real estate, I highly recommend an ipad. A basic ipad is only twice the price of the Elgato stream deck, and it has many more functions than just being a streaming control deck.

My favorite option is the ipad pro. I absolutely love all the things I can do on it, from composing music, to creating art, it’s a powerhouse of a tablet that makes my workflow so much easier. Surprisingly, amazon actually has the best deal currently (even considering my military discount with Apple). While it is definitely going to be the most expensive thing on the list, for the price, you’re getting every single penny’s worth. I use it to do my merch design, manage my storefronts, social media hubs, and so much more. If you have an artist on your hands, pairing it with the apple pencil turns your ipad into a draw on tablet. Similar products marketed to artists are upwards of three GRAND. Imagine my delight when I found the experience on the ipad pro in ProCreate nearly a seamless transition from pencil on paper drawing. It is SUCH a joy to use!

While that might be too much of an investment for a budding streamer, you could always opt to using your current phone, tablet, or even old smartphone without cell service to host the app to get a feel for it before making a large dollar investment.

Microphone

You can often get away as a streamer without using a camera at all. But you absolutely will not gain followers if listening to your stream is a chore. Most gaming and headset microphones won’t cut it for the competitive world of streaming. But the good news is that getting a quality sound is a lot less expensive these days!

If you’ve seen me in stream, then you have definitely seen this bad boy in the corner. This is my beloved Yeti mic by Blue, aka the Blue Yeti.

The sound from this is so incredibly crispy. It has multiple functions so you can get the balance just right for your streaming location, whether it’s a corner of your bedroom or an office all to yourself. I often get compliments on how clear my mic sounds when I use this while gaming instead of my headset. And since it is USB, you can also use it with a console!

If that’s a little outside of your budget, then be sure to check out it’s little brother, the Snowball!

It runs about half to less than half of the Blue Yeti and is still a massive improvement over a headset mic. And don’t forget to use your Amazon Prime benefits – free shipping and returns! So if it doesn’t work for your set up, you can easily return it. (Psst! If you aren’t sure if Amazon Prime is right for you, click here for a free 30-day trial. It’s a great time of year to give it a go!)

Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial

Aesthetics

Making your stream look good can be very simple or very complicated. From green screens, to overlays, the options are as endless as your imagination and budget. But one easy way to make it look great it to use LED tape. Even something like your bedroom suddenly looks like a high tech gaming center!

This LED tape has a self adhesive 3m backing that makes putting it up really easy. Even if I wasn’t a streamer, I would have wanted this YEARS ago because it’s FREAKING COOL. I mean, can you imagine having your room and door outlined in sweet LEDs? It would have been the coolest thing ever when I was 14 (and I’m not so secretly excited about pimping out my workspace now at 33). And at under $50, it’s going to make a HUGE impression on your ambitious streamer!

Extras

As a digital illustrator, blogger, and streamer, I sit in front of screens a LOT. Combine that with my favorite form of entertainment (video games) that’s a lot time spent looking at screens. I was getting eye fatigue very easily. I got myself a pair of blue light blocking lenses, and it really does help!

Because I also have glasses, I got these fit over style glasses. They look great over my prescription lenses or if I’m wearing contacts. This a great gift for anyone who is a computer most of the day!

Well, there you have it. Some of my favorite bargain accessories for successful streamers and content creators. If you were going to add something to this list, what would it be? Let me know in the comments. Have an awesome day!

"XOXO, Amber" in hand-styled script
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Charming Charlie to Close ALL Stores

The fashion and accessory retailer has applied for its second Chapter 11 bankruptcy in a move that will affect over 3,000 employees.

Charming Charlie | by JeepersMedia on Fllickr

The reports are out. The accessory and jewelry giant will be permanently closing its doors. Charming Charlie filed Thursday (July 11th 2019) for bankruptcy in Delaware.(1) Liquidation is suspected to take until the end of August, and the retailer cites the failing retail market as a large contributor to the closure. (2)

“The Debtors once again face issues similar to those that precipitated filing the Prior Cases: unsustainable operating expenses, including onerous leases, and constrained liquidity under our loan documents,” Charming Charlie said in its bankruptcy filing. “This lack of liquidity has resulted in reduced inventory, further exacerbating the Debtors’ lack of availability under their asset based loan. These factors combined with the continued decline of the brick-and-mortar retail industry have made it increasingly difficult for the Debtors to support their cost and capital structure.”

The Chron
Charming Charlie | by JeepersMedia on Fllickr

This is the retailer’s second bankruptcy in two years. Their first was filed in 2017.(3) The closure is among a chain of long-standing retailers permanently shutting their doors as consumer preferences demand more e-commerce.

So this begs the question . . .

How do YOU prefer to shop?

With more and more options becoming available online, has this changed the way you prefer to shop? One of the year’s most competitive online shopping events next to Black Friday, Amazon Prime Day, and is quickly approaching. (Psst! You can get $30 to spend and free access to the deals!)

Does what you are shopping for change your preferred method of shopping? I rather enjoy getting to put my hands on things, feel the material of the clothes I buy, and I definitely like trying on shoes. But oftentimes a brand becomes a favorite, and I no longer need to try it on. Myself, I prefer a mix of online and brick and mortar browsing.

However you like to shop, one thing is certain: the market of retail is constantly changing!

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Get $30 to spend for Amazon PRIME DAY

This post may contain affiliate links to help me pay to keep this blog on the web. For more on that, check here

What is Amazon Prime Day, and why should you be FREAKING EXCITED about it?

Amazon Prime Day is the biggest online shopping event next to Black Friday.

This year (2019) it will happen on July 15-16, and you definitely don’t want to miss out.

The good news is, you can sign up NOW for a FREE trial of Amazon Prime – and cancel after the event if Prime isn’t right for you without penalty. Yep, that’s right! You get a 30-day free trial, but if you’re like me, you want to cancel things as soon as possible so you don’t forget about it and get surprised by a fee the next month.

So here’s what you do:

  1. Sign up for your one month free trial of Amazon Prime (or go HERE if you are a student for a SIX month free trial!)
  2. Open the clock/alarm on your phone
  3. Set a reminder for July 18th to cancel your membership (or December 18th if you’re a student)
  4. Get $10 to spend when you download the Amazon app for the first time.
  5. Get another $10 to spend after you make your first in-app purchase!
  6. Set up the Amazon Assistant on desktop to get $10 off your first $50 purchase.
  7. Shop with the benefits of Prime membership on July 15-16th

That gives you a whole week free – just long enough to stick around for the AMAZING deals of Amazon Prime Day. (And students, trust me – you want that Prime. Man, I could have saved so much money getting supplies and quality ramen online, shipped right to my student box.) And while you’re there, be sure to check out things like Prime Videos, Prime Music, and compare all the things you’re buying at the grocery store to what you can get at Prime Pantry. (You’d be surprised how much money you can save by subscribing!)

The kicker is that you cannot participate in Prime Day Deal unless you are already an Amazon Prime Member.

Why be an Amazon Prime Member???

There are a lot of reasons to love Prime, but to be honest, my favorite is the most basic – free shipping. This has saved me so much money, not just on shipping but also on things like gas money.

“How is this possible?” you may ask. Well, I’ll tell you. You know how when you’re going about your day, just doing your thing, and suddenly, you realize you need this thing for a project. Maybe it’s a notebook, a pen, or a special hair clip for this new hairstyle you saw on YouTube you want to try. But you just went to the store yesterday, and you already took your bra off. It would be way too much work to go out now.

So pop open your Amazon app (or browser) and see what your options are! If you can wait to days, you don’t even have to put on your going-into-public outfit to get it. (Bonus!)

Are you at the store and see a deal you just can’t refuse? (This has happened to me on multiple occasions, actually.) I saw a great deal on a TENS unit at TJMaxx. But just to be sure I was getting the best deal, I checked amazon. In this case, it was cheaper for me to get it at the store. But the next time I was there, I saw a hair straightener. I decided to double check. Even on clearance, Amazon won out the day! I just had to wait two days, and I kept the extra $20 in savings. Sweet!

Amazon Prime gets you a lot, including the following:

* Instantly watch thousands of movies and TV episodes
* Borrow Kindle books
* Get unlimited FREE two-day shipping (no minimum order size)

And, of course, access to Prime Day deals which is for members only. Got it? Good!

So if you’re continuing to read this, I’m assuming you’re already signed up for Amazon Prime.

The Good Stuff

Well, that depends on what you’re looking for (psst, it’s a great time to start your Christmas shopping!) but I’ve got some really great ideas below that I think you’ll like.

Psst! Google Chrome hasn't been playing nicely with amazon on desktop. If you don't see pictures of the products and deals below, try switching up your browser!

Tech and Gaming

For all the tech on sale, go here!

A Ring doorbell is definitely on my list. Especially because I can pair it with my Alexa show below and see who is at my door even when I’m upstairs battling it out on Apex Legends or Overwatch. (You even get a free Legendary Item for Overwatch, too.)

And speaking of gaming . . .

This is the gaming chair Cadillac for geeks. Marvel fans, rejoice. This SIDIZ design comes tricked out with Spiderman or Black Panther themes, and it looks great.

Beauty Finds

For the full list of beauty deals, go here!

And if you want to look great when you’re livestreaming, these next few goodies will be a perfect addition to your collection.

If you follow me on Instagram, you know how much I love Milani’s product formulas! This is a fantastic palette, perfect for the upcoming season and one that will carry over into the new year. Bonus: it has its own highlight and contour shades! I recommend this for light to medium skin tones.

Thankfully, at this most auspicious decade of my thirties, acne is rare. But because of hormone imbalance and the like, it is also pretty gnarly when I do get one (read: cystic, under-the-skin, painful little buggers). It’s also not great look when I’m trying to get the perfect selfie. The great thing about these patches is that they deliver targeted treatment. You don’t need astringent, medicated ointment all over your face when you only have two or three problem spots. These are also discreet, so if you have to go out in public, you won’t feel like you’ve got a bandaid on your face!

You know I love a good setting spray. While normally I buy matte sprays, I’ve found that in the fall and winter, a dewy spray is just what my skin needs. It also works great for balancing out a matte formula foundation, like Fenty, Milani, or e.l.f. brands tend to be.

Boss Babe Finds

The Rocketbook is definitely one of a kind and something every boss babe, college student, person who uses a notebook needs. Seriously. It saves so much money. You can reuse the same book multiple times! Just wipe clean. It even comes with a pen and microfiber cloth. Although, I suggest getting a bunch of Frixion pens. Not only are the pen needed to get the reuse-ability of the Rocketbook, but they are probably going to become your favorite gel pen – because they are ERASABLE. (You’re welcome.)

There are certainly a lot more deals that will become available (the surprise is half of the fun!) so be sure to log back in starting 12am PDT on July 15th. Deals quantities are limited, so be sure to use your Amazon Assistant to alert you when deals you want go live!

Have fun shopping Amazon Prime Day, and be sure to come back and comment with what your best score was!!!

"XOXO, Amber" in hand-styled script
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MAC & Disney collab – ALADDIN

So during my vacation, I stumbled upon THIS while at Disney Springs. At the time, it wasn’t open to the public. But on May 15th, guests will have the opportunity to be one of the first to shop the collaborative collection.

On MAC’s website, you can check out the different items available. I am in love with the lipsticks, particularly Friend Like Me, a neutral beige pink with a cool undertone.

The reveal will be next to The Boathouse. The closest parking will either be surface parking in front of Cirque de Soleil, or the Lime Garage. (If you park in the garage – which is free – try to get a spot on level 2. Level 2 has walking access right to Disney Springs!)

I am hoping I get a chance to get some early access and photos of the products for you!

If you were to shop this collection, what is your MUST HAVE item???

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Best Gifts for D&D Lovers

So – you have someone in your life who just looooooves the world’s greatest roleplaying game. Maybe that makes sense to you. Maybe it doesn’t. Either way, I’ve curated some pretty cool stuff for the roleplaying gamer in your life, perfect for Christmas, birthdays, or anytime you want brownie points. (Kiss up to the DM, maybe?)

This post may contain affiliate links. (Spoiler alert: it does.) For the legal jargon (and my personal stance on recommendations) click here. 

1. Party Mug

Trust me, any D&D player will definitely appreciate the humor in this amazing mug.  Label it as a “measuring mug for healing potions” for critical effect!

2. Player’s Travel Bag 

Any prepared player has several things they take with them: a handbook, characters sheets, dice, spell sheets, a notebook, dice, writing utensils, mini figures, and have I mentioned dice? (More on dice later!) This bag looks small, but it really does fit two standard books inside, three if you squeeze. It really let’s you keep all the necessities in one, easily portable bag for going to your friend’s place to play.

3. Awesome Dice Bag 

Since playing DnD, I caught something, a bug, a virus. It worms its way down into the very fiber of your soul. Like tapeworms, I guess. But instead of craving food, you must. Have. DICE. ALL THE DICE. And every DnD player I have met has a respectable fear of this disease or infestation. It can become a real problem. Oh, and in case I’m not clear, I don’t mean hoarding all of the dice is a problem; I meant storing and transporting them can be a real pain.  This dice bag not only holds up to 300 dice, it has POCKETS to SORT your various and sundry dice, and it comes in eight different colors. Go take a gander yerself here. 

<a target=”_blank” href=”https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07KCYSSRK/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B07KCYSSRK&linkCode=as2&tag=ambertheblo03-20&linkId=8781f33f577468adde33a9eac122cd37″><img border=”0″ src=”//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?_encoding=UTF8&MarketPlace=US&ASIN=B07KCYSSRK&ServiceVersion=20070822&ID=AsinImage&WS=1&Format=_SL250_&tag=ambertheblo03-20″ ></a><img src=”//ir-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/ir?t=ambertheblo03-20&l=am2&o=1&a=B07KCYSSRK” width=”1″ height=”1″ border=”0″ alt=”” style=”border:none !important; margin:0px !important;” />

4. 100-side Die

You don’t get to roll a 100-sided die (called a D100) very often, but trust me: it is way more satisfying to be able to whip out one of these polyhedral giants and let ‘er rip versus pressing a button on your app.  Imagine it: pressing a button and instantly having some randomizer algorithm provide with any number between 1 and 100, or watching the fate of your character, your entire party, and ultimately the entire game universe literally roll across the table in front you! Get the die.

5. A Fuzzy Blanket

I was recently gifted this exact blanket, and let me tell you, it is FUZZY.  In fact, I have had it with me for four constant days. I rue the day I will have to wash it, but at this rate, I fear it is coming soon.  I know it isn’t available online, but I can’t help but sing it’s praises. Everyone needs an awesome blanket like this. It is the perfect accompaniment to playing and pretending it’s the skin of a soft, fuzzy beast. Since it isn’t going to be available everywhere, here are some pretty great options, too! 

6. More Dice

Duh! You should have expected this to be on the list. I mean, I sort of listed a single die above, but that doesn’t count. My favorite dice are from Kraken, which you can find at www.krakendice.com. If you can’t find the perfect fit there, Chessex makes my second favorite dice! Of course, this little things only matter to dice connoisseurs. For someone who doesn’t have a robust collection, these are actually really great!  They are even good for the seasoned player who likes to have extras on hand for newcomers (because who wants to let someone else use up all the luck in your dice?) or DMs.

7. Character Notebook

This has got to be the coolest and most fun way to keep track of character inventory. Any RPGer would be happy to have this in their arsenal. And you are supporting an individual artist who can keep making more awesome things like this! Snag this here!

8. Dice Earrings

Yes, all of your geeky jewelry dreams have come true. Who DOESN’T want a dodecahedron hanging from their earlobes?! And yes, I promise that’s a real word. Enter jewelry Valhalla here.

9. Erasable Gel Pens 

Roleplayers do a lot of writing, which comes with its fair share of erasing. Pencils are great, and easy to come by. But an erasable gel pen? This stuff is gold, and it blows peoples minds whenever I bring it to a session and they see it do its magic for the first time. It just brings something to the table when you can write with the finality of pen, the smoothness of gel, and any color you want – but still have the confidence to know you can erase it, just in case.

BONUS ITEM!

10. This Awesome Shirt

This shirt is super comfy, unisex, and available in ten colors and in sizes XS – 4X so that anyone can flaunt their love of the dice. (It is also designed by yours truly!)

So there you have it! Ten awesome things I think any RPGer would love to have gifted to them, no matter the occasion. My favorite holiday is DM Appreciation Day, colloquially known as “thanks for not killing my character” day. Word of advice: celebrate often.

Cheers!