Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Green Giant Valley Fresh Steamers winner!

We have a winner!

Thanks to everyone who entered my quick giveaway of the Green Giant Valley Fresh Steamers. I think this was the perfect time for a giveaway like this because who couldn't use some free veggies around the holidays? I know I could. So, I hope our winner enjoys them, too!

Yes, I used random.org to pick the winner of this giveaway and it is . . .

Tami from Velvet Races!

Congratulations, Tami! Email me with your address and I'll get your prize pack sent off right away (felicehalf at yahoo dot com).

Thanks to General Mills and MyBlogSpark for this giveaway!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Green Giant Valley Fresh Steamers review and giveaway.

The vegetable growing season is pretty short here in upstate New York so I tend to rely on frozen vegetables a lot during the late fall, winter and early spring. Tossing some frozen broccoli, peas & carrots, or spinach into soup, pasta or stir fry is easy and helps me make relatively healthy meals.

So, when I was invited to review Green Giant Valley Fresh Steamers, I jumped at the chance. I use frozen veggies anyway, why not try something new?

I received this prize pack:

Steamers, two placemats, a broccoli stress toy, spoon, and bowl.


The Valley Fresh Steamers are a "steam in the bag" product that you pop in your microwave to cook. I went for the broccoli option on the steamers and served them as a side dish one night for dinner. They were tasty. But here's the thing: I didn't love cooking them in the microwave.

Now, I have nothing against the microwave. In fact, I love my microwave and use it often. Several times a day. But, for these veggies, it just didn't work for me. See, you have to put the bag in the microwave to cook and almost guess that you are putting them in for the right amount of time. I didn't like that. I felt like I had no control and I worried that I would not steam the veggies for long enough. Turns out that wasn't an issue because I actually ended up steaming them for a little too long. 

But, as I said, they were tasty and I enjoyed trying them out. And, I admit, having one less pot to clean wasn't a bad thing ;-)

Check out their web site HERE for more information.

Would you like to try the Green Giant Valley Fresh Steamers for free? I have one prize pack (identical to the one pictured above) to give away. To enter, leave me a comment letting me know if you enjoy frozen veggies in your diet during the cold months.

Additional entries:

As always, you can gain extra entries. Remember, though, you must complete the required entry first! (Leave one comment per entry for the additional ones to count):

  • Follow this blog, or let me know that you already do (leave a comment)
  • Follow my main blog, or let me know that you already do (leave a comment)
  • Become a fan of The Happy Runner on Facebook, or let me know that you already are (leave a comment)
  • Link to this giveaway from Facebook or Twitter (do as often as you'd like, just leave a comment each time)
  • Link to this giveaway from your blog (leave a comment)

This giveaway will run through Tuesday, December 27th at 11:59pm EST and the winner will be announced on Wednesday.



Good luck!



Want to read more from The Happy Runner? Stop over HERE for more giveaways, reviews, and running- and parenting-related posts. 





Disclosure: Green Giant Valley Fresh Steamers with Pasta, information, and giveaway have been provided by General Mills through MyBlogSpark

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

New women's sports company.


I recently found out about Bia, a new sports company. They are just started and it looks like they are going to begin with a fitness tracking site. You can sign up to get their email newsletter and if you do, and you also get some other people to sign up, they'll send you a bag of goodies! So, go HERE and check it out!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Dare to Try.



Thanks to L'Oreal for sponsoring my post about my favorite beauty looks, tips and tricks! Check out Makeup.com for beauty advice from the experts.

If you're anything like me, you wear the same old makeup, day after day. But doesn't that get boring? I mean, how exciting is brown eye liner and black mascara? Not very.

I remember back to my early makeup wearing days when experimentation was the name of the game. Blue mascara? Sure thing! Purple eyeliner? Uh, yup! Sparkly blush? Sign. Me. Up. Hey, I came of age in the 80's when teens were all about colorful eyes and big hair.

Now, I'm pretty boring. But! I've been trying to branch out a bit, as I wrote in this post. And the two things I am "daring to try" this year are eyebrow definition and sassy lip gloss.

I have some easy-to-use brow definer from Trish McEvoy that I think works well. Since I tend toward a more natural (and, I admit, often makeup-free) look these days, too dramatic a look is scary to me. By going easy on the brow definer, I can frame my eyes and give myself a "finished" look without looking like a totally different person. I've also had success defining my brows using an eye shadow brush dipped in brown eye shadow. To do that, though, I need to be very careful not to let the shadow splatter flakes of color on my face. It takes more control and concentration on my part so, honestly, it is just easier and quicker to use a pencil-like brow definer!

The sassy lip gloss, on the other hand, is a bit more fun. I love lip gloss! Tarte's LipSurgence is great, as is L'Oreal's Colour Juice (love the Golden Splash for the holidays!).

If I'm super honest, though, what I would really like to be able to pull off is a bolder lip. Lip gloss, while sassy and fun, is still safe. A bold lip? Not safe at all.

I would like to sport a daring lip.

When I had my makeover, the makeup artist gave me a bold rust-colored lip:




I know I am not a cherry-red lipstick kind of gal. Nor am I a fan of deep aubergines. But I think I could go bolder than natural. I think I could be more daring. Rust? Orangey-pink? Eva's Caramel? I think those colors are calling my name.

So if you see me this December, you just might see someone sporting a daring lip. Or maybe just a glossy one :-)

Are you daring when it comes to makeup? Do you have a favorite bold lipstick that you think I should try? Let me know!

Have a great day, everyone!

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I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective. Click here to learn more about Makeup.com or become a Facebook fan by clicking here.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Great deal on PR* Bars!

This deal just came in to my inbox so I have to share. I LOVE PR*Bars (you can read my review of them HERE), and they are now a featured deal on Active Schwaggle. Right now, you can get two boxes of PR*Bars for just $25. It's a $60 and shipping is free! It looks like this offer will run for 6 more days.

So, go here to check it out.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Go for amazing party looks this holiday season!


Thanks to Walgreens for underwriting this post. I was paid as a member of the
Clever Girls Collective
, but the content is all mine. Visit http://moms.dailybuzz.com/channel/style.



Recently, I had a ton of fun getting a makeover as part of a cover model shoot for Healthy Life magazine. Part of that makeover involved dressing up in festive clothes and putting on equally festive makeup. It was great to get a brush-up on festive makeup, considering I spend a lot of my time doing this:






And the rest of my time playing with, cleaning up after, and generally taking care of my two little guys:




Although my day-to-day life doesn't require much in the way of makeup, I do like to get dressed up on occasion. And around the holidays I have more of those occasions. Since those occasions are generally special, I like to give my look a little extra flair -- like most people do around the holidays. It seems like sparkle is everywhere between Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve!

Fortunately, I've learned that you can create fun, festive, pretty party looks without breaking the bank. Makeup doesn't have to be expensive -- you can find plenty of good deals at drugstores, for example.

If you'd like to create an amazing party look for yourself this season, here are some tips that I've learned bother from experience and from my recent makeover:



  • Use a primer to smooth your skin and prep it for your makeup. Primer helps your makeup last longer and it fills-in your "crevices" (ha!) so makeup doesn't settle-in and make your skin look wrinkled.
  • A little brow definition can help your look go from average to amazing in seconds! I had never used eye brow pencil before my makeover, but I am a convert. I definitely don't think it is an everyday look for me but for parties it is a sure thing! 
  • If you go for a sparkly eye, do not go for a sparkly lip. And vice versa. Choose one area for sparkle. Too much sparkle is, well, too much.
  • I love classic black mascara and, for party looks, I wear two coats. I'm a fan of tried-and-true Maybelline Great Lash. It has worked for me for years!
  • Go ahead and blush! A lot of people tend to shy away from blush but if you want to fab it up for a party, go for it! Sweeping color over the apples of your cheeks helps finish your look and gives you a nice glow. Just make sure you don't go overboard.
As you prepare for your holiday parties this year, don't be afraid to try out some new looks! Why not splurge on a new lipstick or gloss next time your at the drugstore? Or finally pick up that eyebrow pencil (I'm telling you, it works!)? Glam it up a little, you'll be happy you did!

Lucky you -- I've got some Walgreens coupons for you to make your amazing party looks even easier to achieve!

Do you have a favorite festive makeup tip?


Yoplait Smoothie winner!

Thanks to everyone who entered my Yoplait Smoothie giveaway. I used random.org to pick a winner and it is . . .



Katychick from Count Your Days . . . I'm Counting Mine



Congratulations, Katychick! Send me an email at felicehalf at yahoo dot com with your address so I can get you your Yoplait prize pack. Enjoy the smoothie -- and that eye mask!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Yoplait Chocolate Banana Smoothie review and giveaway!

I am a HUGE smoothie lover. I drink them most days -- blending up yogurt, a banana, some frozen fruit and a little flax seed meal or some chia seeds. 

So, when I was invited to try out the new Yoplait Chocolate Banana smoothie, I jumped at the chance. I received this nice little package of goodies:



That's a comfy neck pillow, the frozen smoothie mix, a reusable smoothie tumbler, and a lavender eye mask. Relaxation central!


The smoothie was very easy to make -- just pour the packet in the blender, add milk, blend away and viola! smoothie in no time. The one thing that got me was the yogurt pieces. I don't know, there was something a little funny about them. They blend up fine, but seeing chunks of yogurt made me chuckle.


After blending, I poured my smoothie into the Yoplait tumbler and my preschooler and I drank both servings. It was tasty! And that tumbler is really is quite nice. I've used it several times for my smoothies. It fits nicely in my car cup holder so I can easily take my smoothie on the go. 


Overall, I liked the Yoplait smoothie but I admit that I'm not sure how frequently I would buy it because it is pricier than blending my own with frozen fruit and plain yogurt. But, I can see the appeal of having the ingredients (minus the milk) in one convenient package. 


You can read more about the Yoplait smoothies on their web site HERE


Be sure to download a $1 off coupon from the site HERE.



The giveaway

Would you like to try the Yoplait smoothie? How about that eye mask? Well, I have one prize pack (identical to the one pictured above) for a lucky reader to win! To enter just leave me a comment and let me know that you would like to win!

Additional entries:

As always, you can gain extra entries. Remember, though, you must complete the required entry first! (Leave one comment per entry for the additional ones to count):

  • Follow this blog, or let me know that you already do (leave a comment)
  • Follow my main blog, or let me know that you already do (leave a comment)
  • Become a fan of The Happy Runner on Facebook, or let me know that you already are (leave a comment)
  • Link to this giveaway from Facebook or Twitter (do as often as you'd like, just leave a comment each time)
  • Link to this giveaway from your blog (leave a comment)
This giveaway will run through Monday, November 21st at 11:59pm EST and the winner will be announced on Tuesday.


Good luck!



Want to read more from The Happy Runner? Stop over HERE for more giveaways, reviews, and running- and parenting-related posts. 






Disclosure: The Yoplait® VIP Coupon, information, and giveaway have been provided by Yoplait through MyBlogSpark.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Refer your friends to StumbleUpon and get a $10 Amazon gift card!

OK, with the holidays coming up, Amazon gift cards can definitely come in handy. And, right now, StumbleUpon is running a promotion through which you can earn $10 gift cards!

All you have to do is sign up at StumbleUpon, refer 5 friends (who actually sign up) and get a $10 gift card from Amazon!

Easy peasy!

This promotion runs through December 14th and you can receive multiple gift cards! But, you only get a card for every 5 people who sign up -- there is no partial credit.

Good luck!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Fiber One 80 Calories Cereal winner!

I used random.org this morning to select a winner from everyone who entered my Fiber One 80 Calories Cereal giveaway and the winner is . . .



Cheryl from The Lucky Ladybug!



Congratulations, Cheryl! Shoot me an email at felicehalf at yahoo dot com with your address so you can get your full prize pack.

Thanks to everyone who entered and to General Mills and My Blog Spark for this giveaway. Look for a yogurty giveaway coming up soon!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Fiber One 80 Calories Cereal review and giveaway

We're big cereal eaters in my house -- that happens when you have a 4-year old -- and I like to try new cereals now and then. There's only so many Cheerios one can eat in one's life, after all.

I was interested in the new Fiber One 80 calories cereal that I was invited to try. I tried the Honey Squares and they were quite good! I liked that the cereal is low in calories and sugar and high in fiber, so it is pretty filling. I also like that my son enjoyed eating it -- always a good thing!


I was sent a full prize pack along with the cereal, including a pedometer and a cute orange cell phone armband. 



I have to say, the armband is great. It's not too large and it holds my cell phone perfectly so I don't have to carry it in my hand when I go on my long runs. I'm all about safety so I like to take my phone with me on long runs but it can be a drag to carry it in my hand. So, the armband is perfect! 

The giveaway

Would you like to try out some Fiber One cereal? How about that armband? Well, I have one prize pack (identical to the one pictured above) for a lucky reader to win! To enter just leave me a comment and let me know that you would like to win!

Additional entries:

As always, you can gain extra entries. Remember, though, you must complete the required entry first! (Leave one comment per entry for the additional ones to count):

  • Follow this blog, or let me know that you already do (leave a comment)
  • Follow my main blog, or let me know that you already do (leave a comment)
  • Become a fan of The Happy Runner on Facebook, or let me know that you already are (leave a comment)
  • Link to this giveaway from Facebook or Twitter (do as often as you'd like, just leave a comment each time)
  • Link to this giveaway from your blog (leave a comment)
This giveaway will run through Monday, September 26th at 11:59pm EST and the winner will be announced on Tuesday.


Good luck!



Disclosure: Fiber One 80 Calories cereal, information, and giveaway have been provided by General Mills through MyBlogSpark.




Want to read more from The Happy Runner? Stop over HERE for more giveaways, reviews, and running- and parenting-related posts. 





Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Find free fitness classes.

I just learned about this new web site, Free Fitness Workout, that offers free passes to try out fitness centers and classes all over the country. All you have to do is find a workout (you search by state), pick your offer, and then print out a voucher. Bring the voucher with you to the fitness center and get your free workout!

Although there aren't any free offers near me, yet, I think it looks really cool.

If you end up checking it out and getting a free class, let me know! I'd love to hear how it works out for you.

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Want to read more from The Happy Runner? Stop over HERE for more giveaways, reviews, and running- and parenting-related posts. 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Great deal for local exercisers!

Groupon has a really great deal for Albany, NY area exercisers: Gold's Gym of the Capital District is offering 20  gym day passes for $20. The passes are regularly $300 for 20, so this is a pretty big savings!

The Groupon is valid at Gold's Gym locations in Niskayuna, Clifton Park, Guilderland and Latham. It expires November 22, 2011.

You can read all about it HERE.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Rockin' Refuel free music download.

Rockin' Refuel, the protein-fortified flavored milk (that I reviewed last year HERE), is offering 500 FREE music downloads from Amazon each month, from now through December.

To get a $1 Amazon gift card emailed to you, just "like" Rockin' Refuel on Facebook then click on Music Downloads. And, while you're at it, you can learn about Rockin' Refuel and how it might help you recover from your hard runs or other workouts.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Honey Nut Cheerios winner!

Thanks for entering the Honey Nut Cheerios giveaway. I used random.org to pick a winner and it is . . .


Abbi from Higher Miles!


Congratulations, Abbi! Send me an e-mail with your mailing address (email me at felicehalf at yahoo dot com) so you can get your prize pack.

And stay tuned, everyone, for another cereal giveaway coming up later this week!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Honey Nut Cheerios Giveaway!

I was invited to sample and host a giveaway for Honey Nut Cheerios. Since we are a major cereal family, and a good portion of that cereal is Cheerios, I said, "Yes!" right away. Here's the cool pack that I received:

A Cheerios t-shirt, a box of Honey Nut Cheerios, two Cheerios cereal bowl and a CUTE bee antenna headband!

I have two young sons, including one who just recently started self-feeding, so Cheerios are a staple for us. I like the convenience of Cheerios, that my kids like to eat it both dry and with milk, and that it is a reasonably healthy cereal choice. When we received our prize pack in the mail, my 4-year old was really excited. "Cheerios are my favorite!" he exclaimed and quickly grabbed the bee antenna headband and wore it all around the house. And then tried to make the baby wear it, which didn't go over so well. 

Clearly, my son is not alone in having Honey Nut Cheerios as his favorite. According to Nielsen sales data for the 52 weeks ending 1/1/2011, Honey Nut Cheerios was America's favorite cereal, not just my son's fave! So, chances are, you or someone in your family loves it to. And that means you might be interested in this little giveaway!

But first . . .

Request a Free Sample!

You can request a free sample of Honey Nut Cheerios and a $.75 coupon by vising this site

And now . . .

Enter to Win the Giveaway!

One lucky winner will receive the same prize pack that I did: 1 box of Honey Nut Cheerios® cereal, 2 cereal bowls, 1 Honey Nut Cheerios® t-shirt, 1 bee antenna headband. To enter, leave me a comment and let me know what you think of Honey Nut Cheerios.

Additional entries:

As always, you can gain extra entries. Remember, though, you must complete the required entry first! (Leave one comment per entry for the additional ones to count):

  • Follow this blog, or let me know that you already do (leave a comment)
  • Follow my main blog, or let me know that you already do (leave a comment)
  • Become a fan of The Happy Runner on Facebook, or let me know that you already are (leave a comment)
  • Link to this giveaway from Facebook or Twitter (do as often as you'd like, just leave a comment each time)
  • Link to this giveaway from your blog (leave a comment)
This giveaway will run through Monday, July 18 at 11:59pm EST and the winner will be announced on Tuesday.


Good luck!




Disclosure: Honey Nut Cheerios® cereal, information, and giveaway have been provided by General Mills through MyBlogSpark.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Help raise $10,000 for Girls for a Change!




The following is a post sponsored by Yahoo! Every time someone clicks here to make Yahoo! their homepage, they're showing their support for Girls For A Change.

I was selected for this opportunity by Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.


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"Girl power + activism creating change" that's Girls for a Change.

I love it. 

But I didn't know about it before I was invited to participate in this Yahoo campaign to raise funds for Girls For A Change. This is one kick-butt organization. Check it out. Here's how they describe themselves:

Girls For A Change (GFC) is a national organization that empowers girls to create social change. We invite young women to design, lead, fund and implement social change projects that tackle issues girls face in their own neighborhoods. GFC empowers girls for personal and social transformation. The program inspires girls to have the voice, ability and problem solving capacity to speak up, be decision makers, create visionary change and realize their full potential."

In 2009-2010, Girls For A Change served over 1,860 girls in ten states, Rwanda, and Swaziland. They welcome and serve all girls, but focus on girls who live in low-income communities. You can find out where they are on their web site HERE

To me, Girls For A Change sounds like a pretty cool organization. They are helping girls build better communities and from everything I've read, once young people are invested in their communities, they tend to make better choices throughout all areas of their lives. It's something I've experienced when I've volunteered in my community. I've done a bunch of volunteer work with girls and young women who lived in shelters and  children's homes. What I witnessed was that the girls who gave back to the community as part of a program were more successful with it -- they were less likely to get in trouble and more likely to try to do well in school. Just my experience but I believe there is some truth to it.

Right now, YOU can easily help raise money for Girls For A Change through a Yahoo! and Clever Girls Collective campaign. Here's the deal:

Yahoo! will donate $10 to Girls For A Change (GFC) for each person who clicks here to make Yahoo! her homepage by July 1...up to an amazing $10,000! We're counting on you to help us find 1,000 people willing to make a change worth $10,000 to this fantastic cause.



Clever Girls Collective selected GFC as the non-profit for this generous Yahoo! campaign because it matches our mission of empowering women to help each other. Clever Founder Sheila Bernus Dowd was a GFC volunteer and member of the advisory board, so they have first-hand experience with their commitment to helping girls become community leaders. 

Why Should You Make Yahoo! Your Homepage? It offers...
  • Personalized content: The Yahoo! homepage delivers you the most relevant content based on your interests, time of day, and what’s most popular with other users like you.
  • Your World and The World: The Yahoo! homepage uniquely brings together your world (your email, local news) with the world around you (current events, entertainment news, financial updates and more)
  • Human Interest: Articles on the homepage have a human approach – more than just news, it delivers human interest stories that you just have to click on
Go now! Make Yahoo! your homepage and help raise important funds for Girls For A Change! You'll feel good about it, honestly you will :-)

I thank you!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Beaba Bib'expresso review

Thank you to Béaba for providing me with a Bib’expresso to review free of charge. To order your own Bib'expresso or one of many Béaba products, visit www.beabausa.com.

I am a breastfeeding mama who likes to break free from the baby once in a while. This means I have to prepare bottles now and then to allow my husband and, occasionally my mother and father, to watch the babe while I do something without my little guy. You know, like get a hair cut, go for a long run, that sort of thing.

So, when I was invited to review the Beaba Bib'expresso, a feeding bottle warmer, I jumped at the chance.

You see, thawing bottles of frozen breast milk is not always convenient. You can't heat the milk in the microwave and letting it thaw in the refrigerator takes forever. So I usually end up placing the bottle of frozen milk in a bowl of very warm tap water. It works, but it takes a good half hour (at least). All of this means that there is a good bit of forethought that needs to occur to ensure that a bottle is available for my baby when I'm not around.

The Bib'expresso promises to fix that by speeding up the heating process while avoiding the problems with microwave heating (heating milk too much, creating hot spots).


This machine heats the water for bottles of formula, thaws and heats bottles of breast milk, and also sterilizes bottles for your use whenever. I tried it out to heat bottles of breast milk and to sterilize the bottles. It was fairly easy to use for both purposes. To heat or thaw the bottles, you pour water in the top heating chamber and then put the bottle in. Just press the start button and it heats things up automatically. Unfortunately, I didn't feel that it did the job any better than placing the cold bottle of breast milk in a bowl of hot tap water.

What I did like about the machine, however, was the sterilization feature. I often worry about whether or not my bottles are actually clean. The Bib'expresso sterilization chamber -- which you use in your microwave -- made me feel that my bottles were really sterile and ready to be used.

I will continue to use the Bib'expresso for the bottle sterilization but I'm not sure how often I'll use it to heat my bottles. If I were a formula-feeding mom, however, I can see that this product would have a lot of benefit. It heats the water to the right temperature in only 90 seconds and that seems like it would be a real time saver.

The Beaba Bib'Expresso 3 in 1 Baby Bottle & Food Warmeris available at Amazon for $129.00. You can also find a list of retailers on the Beaba web site HERE.

Overall, I think this is an interesting product and I can see the value for moms who bottle feed 100%. If you bottle feed less than that, the product may not be worth the expense. The sterilization feature is nice and useful, however, and that alone may be worth it to some people.

I will put in a plug for checking out the Beaba web site because they have some very stylish products over there!


While Béaba provided me with a Bib'expresso to review, the opinions I've expressed here are solely my own and represent my honest viewpoint. Béaba,Clever Girls Collective and I promote Blog With Integrity.

Gotein giveaway

I have a Gotein portable protein drink giveaway going on now over at my other site. It runs through Wednesday night so check it out for your chance to win!

Great deal for Albany exercisers!

This just came through my email so I had to share for all of you local readers:

LivingSocial is advertising six fitness classes at The Court Club on Sand Creek Rd. for just $30! I'm more of a runner and home exerciser so the deal doesn't work for me, but for anyone looking to shake things up with a new class (or six!), it sounds like a great deal!

Looks like the deal will only be offered today but you can use the promotion through the end of the year.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Fabulous! My fave five fabulous bloggers.



Thanks to Trop50 for sponsoring my writing about fabulous bloggers. This year Trop50 is granting 50 Fabulous Wishes. Click here to enter for a chance to win $1,000 to celebrate a friend with a refreshing attitude about looking and feeling fabulous!

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I'm a blogger. I read blogs. Some of them are good, some of them are great. Some of them are fabulous.

For me, a fabulous blogger isn't necessarily the blogger with the biggest following or one that always makes me laugh (although I do like a good chuckle). A fabulous blogger is one that makes me care about what he or she has to say -- and want to come back for more every day.

Here are five of my favorite bloggers. Or, my list of the absolutely fabulous!

Ah, AbFab . . .  how I miss you . . . 


1. The first fabulous blogger on my list is someone who I have become friends with in real life, after getting to know her through her blog: Amanda from Manderz Journey to a New Life.

Amanda rocks. She's lost over 100lbs and has kept it off for over a year. She's also a mom, a terrific runner, and just a super-sweet person in general. She inspires other people to go after their goals, especially their weight-loss ones. She's proof positive that if you want something enough, you can have it. She's lost a HUGE amount of weight, has kept it off, has run a marathon and 6 half marathons and keeps on going! She doesn't make excuses -- she's goes out and gets it done.

2. Next up is Denise from Happiness . . . One Mile At a Time. Denise is one of those runners who I look at and think, "Wow. I would love to run like her one day." She works HARD and runs WELL. Super well. Super fast! And, super long. She qualified for and ran the 2011 Boston Marathon and is also an ultra-marathoner AND is now training for a triathlon. She's also had the misfortune of having to battle some annoying, troublesome injuries but she always seems to win the battle.

I really enjoy reading about Denise's training because she is dedicated to being the absolute best runner she can be and she always puts herself out there. She's honest about the highs and the lows of training. She's an inspiration (makes sense that she's also a Brooks ID (inspire daily) runner!).

3. This blogger is one who definitely fits into the "big blogger" category (not big like, physically, but big like, lots of people read her): MizFit -- MizFit Online. She writes about all things fitness all the time. And she's one fit mama (she does, indeed, have a little girl for whom she must be an awesome role model). She has an entertaining style and she writes about fitness and wellness issues that matter to every day people in their every day lives. She encourages questions and conversation and her site is just a great resource for all things fitness-y!

4. And now, Marlene who blogs at Mission to a(nother) Marathon. Marlene is one of those bloggers who I really hope to meet in real life one day (yikes, hope no one thinks that is too stalker-y!!). I've followed her running for a few years and have watched her running get better and better. Most recently, I rooted for her as she ran her Boston Marathon qualifying race a few weeks ago. Marlene is an upbeat blogger who is always fun to read.

5. Last on the fabulous list is Kristina at Mother Running Rampant. Kristina used to have a blog (Marathon Mama) on competitor.com and she recently changed things up and started the new blog that I've linked to here. I think Kristina is fabulous because a) she writes the way I wish I could write and b) she runs the way I wish I could run. You could say I have some blogger envy and you wouldn't be wrong.

I guess the truth is that I'm a little envious of all five of the bloggers I've listed here. They are fabulous, maybe even absolutely fabulous, and, sure, I'd love a little of that kind of fabulosity for myself. But, alas, I'll be satisfied reading their blog posts and enjoying hanging out with them in the virtual world. I highly recommend that you point your little browser pointer thingy in the direction of their blogs and start hanging out with them, too!

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Don't forget to enter the 50 Fabulous Wishes contest for a chance to win $1,000 to celebrate a friend with a refreshing attitude about looking and feeling fabulous. I was selected for this Tropicana Trop50 sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do. I received compensation to use and facilitate my post.

Two new giveaways -- Saucony and Bengay

I have a Saucony giveaway going on now through June 2nd and a Bengay Cold Therapy giveaway going on now through June 6th. Please pop over to my other site to check them out!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

New review up!

I reviewed Running on Empty by Marshall Ulrich over at my other site. I'm also giving away a copy of the book so pop on over and check it out if you haven't already.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Barney Butter giveaway!

There is one day left in the Barney Butter giveaway. You can enter to win a box of 12 squeeze packs of delicious Barney Butter almond butter.

Head on over HERE to enter!

Good luck!

Friday, May 6, 2011

About my giveaways and reviews

You may have noticed that posting has been really low on this site. That's because I am now posting most of my reviews and giveaways on my main site, The Happy Runner. I am keeping this site as an ad-free place for reviews and giveaways that require it. But, from here on, you can find most of my giveaways on The Happy Runner.

Right now, for example, I am giving away a free $110 membership to USA Fit. Check it out!

If you don't follow my other site, please do so you'll be able to find out about all the goodies and giveaways!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Runner's World subscription for only $8.50


Right now on amazon.com you can get a one year subscription of Runner's World (1-year auto-renewal) for only $8.50. This deal is only good today, April 4th, so act fast if you are interested!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Party on, Nutella!

Creamy chocolate . . . hazelnut . . . yum . . .

Yes, I love Nutella. It's like a mash-up of so many of my favorite things. And isn't chocolate like the new health food these days? Yeah? I thought so :-)

What's more, according to the Nutella folks (and probably kids everywhere), it's the perfect thing for breakfast. I admit I hadn't thought of Nutella as a breakfast food until I was invited to host a Nutella tasting party with some of my friends. Nutella sent samples of the spread and other goodies, along with information on how to enjoy Nutella for breakfast. It is, after all, the most important meal of the day.

I decided to host a little playdate where the moms and the kids could try out the Nutella. We chatted, drank some coffee and tea and tasted Nutella spread on whole grain bread and animal crackers (hey, kids love animal crackers!). It was yummy! And I think the kids liked it too -- at least my (messy) son did.

Now, my son is a breakfast eater, so we don't have any problems there. But I know that other moms have trouble getting their kids to eat in the morning, especially when the menu consists of healthy foods. Nutella encourages them to look to the spread to help get their kids to eat healthy:
When used in moderation with complementary foods, Nutella® can form a part of a balanced meal. It is a quick and easy way to encourage kids to eat whole grains, such as whole wheat toast, English muffins, toaster waffles and bagels. With the unique taste of Nutella®, kids may think they are eating a treat for breakfast while moms are helping nourish their children with whole grains.
Although I don't have problems with breakfast, my son often wants treats for snacks. And by treats he means junk. So, I would look to Nutella on whole grain bread with sliced banana on top, or spread on a whole wheat tortilla, as an occasional snack option.

You can learn more about Nutella by visiting their web site. They have a Tips for Moms page set up and you can also download a coupon for $1 off a jar of Nutella. For those of you who really, really love Nutella, they are running a sweepstakes for a case of Nutella. That's 12 jars! Check it out HERE.

Review disclaimer: I was invited to host the tasting party and received samples of Nutella through MomSelect. I was not otherwise compensated and the opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Managing and maximizing family finances


Thank you to TurboTax for sponsoring my writing about household finances. Learn more about how TurboTax can help you find every tax deduction you deserve. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.



In some sort of ironic twist, I have become the family financial manager. I say ironic twist because I'm more or less you're typical English Lit major kinda gal and my husband, well, he has the word budget in his professional job title, which should make him the perfect candidate for the home job.

Nope, it's me.

And I don't mind it. I almost like it.

It's true. There is a math geek buried deep inside me that longs to do a little subtraction, division and, when we're lucky, some addition and multiplication. But more than anything, it just makes sense. I do the shopping, I stay at home with my two boys so you could say that I have the time to manage the finances.

But even though I have the time I don't like to waste it. Instead, I like to maximize it and be as efficient as possible. So I do as much as possible online. We have a credit union that has an excellent online banking system and that serves as our hub. My husband has direct deposit for his paychecks so those go right into our account every two weeks. Our credit card and mortgage are through the same credit union so I just have to set up account transfers to pay those bills. Actually, the mortgage is set up as an automatic monthly payment so I don't have to do anything to pay that bill!

For all of our utilities and other regular bills (gas, electric, phone, cable, insurance, etc.) I have electronic payments set up so that when I receive a bill I just go online, input the amount that I need to pay for a particular bill and it is automatically sent on the date that I set. It's practically magic. I don't have to write any checks, fish through my bag for a stamp or worry about the payment being late. 

Aside from the ease of electronic payments there is also the fact that it does save real money. You might not think of it, but saving 42 cents on every monthly bill does add up. I figure we have about 8 bills that we pay each month, so that's a savings of $3.36 each month, or $40.32 each year. EDITED: Suzy pointed out that stamps are now 44 cents, so the savings is even greater: $3.52 each month, $42.24 each year.

Speaking of savings, one other key to managing my family's finances is to make the most of the money we have. My income plummeted (to almost non-existent levels) once we had kids and decided that I would stay home and care for them full time. We need, then, to save where we can. So I do the usual: I comparison shop, use coupons and continue to wear sports bras that I bought back in the 1990s. I also use the power of the Internet to save even more. By "liking" my favorite brands on Facebook, for example, I can often get notice of discounts, coupons or special deals. Similarly, I join rewards programs for brands I buy regularly (like the Stonyfield rewards program that gives me lots of free product just for inputting codes online from their yogurt).

One thing I don't do, and that many experts recommend, is budget. Strict budgets are just too . . . well, they are too strict for this gal. It's kinda like weight loss: Some people say you should weigh yourself all the time to keep your weight in check. But, for me, I prefer to gauge my weight by how my clothes fit.

It's the same with budgeting. I like to go by feel. I try to keep our weekly shopping tab to a certain amount. If I go over it by much one week I make a concerted effort to go under that amount the next week. And if we have a lot of extra things going on one month, I try to keep our spending a little lower the next.

It's just what works for me and for my family.

But what about you? Do you manage your family's finances? Have any tips you'd like to share? Think I'm ridiculous for not budgeting? Share your thoughts in the comments!