Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Influenster = Excitement!


I have found a new program that I am incredibly excited to share with you.  I originally heard good things about it on a Twitter feed that I follow by Daydreaming Realist where she shared about her experiences testing out beauty products through this program.  Without exception all of the products she was sharing about sounded like things that would be amazing to try, and I thought I would look into it and sign up to see if I could do it to.

The program is called Influenster.  The premise?  They send you a box of items that are catered to your interests and you test them out and send your feedback and reviews back to the companies that sponsor samples and products in the box for your honest feedback.  The VoxBoxes arrive at your door and then you spend time living with and using the products enclosed so you can report back and share your experiences with your friends.  I love the clever name - Vox meaning talk or voice your opinions about things in the box that are like little gifts.  I'm so thankful to be a part of this program!

When you go to the all new Influenster website (they've just revamped it to make it even more awesome and easier to share your experiences through social media) you work to earn badges that are specific to your interests.  Everyone can earn Life Stage badges by answering survey questions to get a feel for how well the products they send out for that particular badge might fit you.  For example I didn't sign up for the Mom badge but I did sign up for the Bow Wow badge and the Do Good-er badges because they reflect my lifestyle.  There are many options to pick from like Bride to Be or Baby Boomer that help them accurately decide where you are in your life and what the companies who work with them might select for a particulkar demographic.

There are also "expert" badges that are given to you to hone your interest areas.  PAY CLOSE ATTENTION - you are only given 5 keys to unlock badges so you want to make sure that the "expert" badges you care about the most are the ones that you sign up for first!  I made the mistake of getting so excited about unlocking badges that I didn't unlock my areas of primary interest - beauty and cooking, so don't let that happen to you.  Over time you may unlock more keys for expert badges but make sure the things you unlock are whatever you are the most passionate about.  I probably would've skipped the High Spirits and Fahionista badges if I would've chosen more carefully, but I also was already selected to participate in a VoxBox that was related to my Eco badge and that is an area I am very passionate about so I am still very excited to see what those other badges have in store for me in the future.

Speaking of VoxBoxes - my first box with the program was for the Palmolive Fresh Infusions Dish Soaps.  In my VoxBox I received three full sized products and was encouraged to share one with a friend to help spread the love.  I also received high value coupons to give out to the people closest to me to let them try the product at an amazing discount.

These soaps are naturally derived and come in amazing fragrances like Lime Basil (green), Ginger White Tea (peach), and Lemon Thyme (yellow).  I have enjoyed using them and have also enjoyed getting my sisters and friends excited about them too.  We have different choices of fragrances (my sister is excited about the more floral Ginger White Tea fragrance while I am in love with the zesty, fruity Lime Basil) but we both agree that it is great to see a naturally inspired product from this well loved brand.

If you love trying new things, sharing with your friends on social media and being able to provide companies with a direct response to their products through Brand challenges you might be a perfect fit for the Influenster program.  There is a Twitter party for the #PalmoliveFreshInfusions dish soaps sponsored by Influenster today at 1:00pm EST on Twitter that you can follow with the above hashtag if you want to check out more about the brand you can also follow @Influenster on or visit the Influenster Facebook page to follow and find out more about this great program.  When you get your first VoxBox you are off and running and can qualify for future boxes based on your participation and sharing of the brands you find inside.  It took about two months before I got a box and I joined when they were in their old format that was a little different.  I was patient and reviewed products from previous boxes other Influensters received that I had purchased and tried for myself already so I knew something about them.  There are tons of things you can post your opinions on - from stores like Bath and Body Works to products like Ritter Sport candy bars, there is bound to be a few things that you use, love, or maybe just gravitated to on your own.  You can also check out the posts and blogs that other Influensters post or join in a Twitter party or Facebook conversation about something you liked or disliked and share your opinions.  You can be rewarded with the opportunity to try something new or tell a brand you've loved for years how to make their products even better.

If you would like an Influenster invitation and you are my Facebook friend you can send me a request through a private message and I can send you a link to welcome you to this exciting program.  You can also request and invite through the Influenster.com homepage and then work hard to be rewarded!

I hope this find you well and gearing up for the holidays.  I'm sending much love out to everybody and hoping that you are all safe and sound after the storms of the past few weeks.  Have fun and I hope that there are some future Influensters reading!  XO

Monday, September 24, 2012

A Wonderful Freebie Site

Hi folks -

I talk a lot about being thankful for the little things, like the wonderful free stuff that pops up in my mailbox because I follow numerous Facebook pages and hear about offers for free samples and contests.  Cher at My Free Product Samples is a really fun blogger who posts all kinds of offers on her Facebook page and her blog.  She is genuinely excited to get free stuff and loves to share her passion with her readers and followers.  She runs a blog at http://www.myfreeproductsamples.com/ that has tons of links to freebies, and has great offers and she often does awesome little contests that are flash giveaways or even just fun stuff to keep her readers interested.  You can sign up for her daily emails and get a round up of all the deals sent to your inbox.  She also loves a bargain and will post offers that she sees for inexpensive deals and bargain basement prices on sites for things like clothing and electronics.  She always tries to check out her offers to make sure they are the real deal and will try to fill out the forms to make sure they are legit freebies.  She even does super cute videos on Fridays called "Friday Freebies with Cher" where she shows you all the cool things you can find for free and posts links to them.  When she gets something awesome (like the iPad she won for being a top promoting Glyde ambassador) she shares the information on where you can sign up to try these things for yourself.  Thanks to her I am a BzzAgent and I have a great time trying products for that company.  It is worth your time to check her out.  Follow her Facebook page too and you can often get in on super fast limited time deals where you have to be one of the first 1000 people to sign up.  She posts them quick and I have gotten some super stuff like the 3oz. Eucerin lotion I got in the mail today.

On a personal note, I wish you all much love and I hope that you hug your folks today.  My mom and dad are both doing okay but are struggling with aging, Alzheimer's and their health.  I can't be there to hug them every day but I hope if you are anywhere near your family that you take this opportunity to tell them how much you care about them and give their neck an extra squeeze for me.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

My mom...

      My sister had to step in and take my mother's car keys, cash and credit cards away today.  I feel bad for  both of them.  I have been really under the weather for the past few days and there has been lots of family drama to feed the ill feelings as there always seems to be when I get feeling poorly.  If I'm down I always wait for the kick because I know it is coming.

      On Monday the home my father is in caught on fire.  It wasn't really serious but it took them forever to respond because of the parade and the huge shindig that is "Buhl Day on Labor Day" which happens in my home town.  The residents in the wing that had been filled with smoke were transferred to my Dad's wing and they wouldn't allow visitors in or out which caused a ton of anxiety for my Dad.  Then, today, my sister was told by several neighbors and employees at the home that my mother's driving had really become dangerous and erratic and that she was going to be harmful to herself and others if she retained her license.  Also she had been giving money away and giving food and rides to people who were out to take advantage of her.  My sister had to step in.

     I remember this stage in my Aunt Nunny's Alzheimer's experience better than I care to.  I remember the one day we found my Aunt in the park by her home holding a large "cobblestone" bread that was intended for the ducks that she had been given by a man in the park who thought she had nothing to eat.  I felt helpless to see my Aunt desperately clinging to this stale, moldy round of dinner rolls.  I felt terrible for the man who tried to help her by letting her take the food for the ducks and mostly I felt for my mother who was left in charge of a woman who was losing her mind.  Now my sister is the woman in that position and my mother is losing her mind.  I don't think I could deal with the pressure my sister is now under, and I don't think I want to live long enough to have my mind ravaged by this illness.  I feel just as helpless and it isn't a good feeling.

       I hope that all of you appreciate the health and sanity of yourselves and you loved ones while you can.  Much love to all of you.

Thursday, August 30, 2012


      So today was a great mailbox day, but the odd thing was all three awesome things came from the same company!  Black and Mild (the cigarillos) has a summer sweepstakes taking place right now and all three things were prizes or premiums from L&M.  Even though I am not a smoker, Andy is, so he usually reaps the benefits but all three prizes from today were useful and cool and not only smoker friendly.

      The first thing they sent was an ashtray which is very interesting and is curved steel with a wood laminate on the outside.  "How is that useful to a non-smoker?" you may ask... well, it just so happens that it is the perfect size to keep tiny things like hairpins organized and it also makes a really interesting business card stand because it is just the right size.  When I take advantage of my Klout perk for business cards I will be able to send it and them along with my sister Marcia when she sells my jewelry at craft shows.  I am very excited that she took almost all of the jewelry I had finished and is going to try and sell it next time she does a show - awesome!

      Next was a cool set of wooden ear buds for my Ipod.  They are made of a really pale blonde wood in the casing near the top and the company (Sentry) says that it really improves the sound quality.  We shall see!

      Last I got my ridiculously fabulous Zippo lighter.  It is sleek and gunmetal metallic grey and I LOVE it.  I use lighters to light things other than cigarettes like candles and the tips of my fingers.  I am going to have some blisters for sure but I have always wanted my own Zippo and this one is impressive.

      I also got a notification that I won a VitaVault from the Appetite for Health Facebook page giveaway.  If you think of those neat little dump bins for candy at places like Dylan's candy bar where they load from the top and have a clear lid that lets you pull them from the bottom that is what it's like but on a smaller scale so you have your vitamins and supplements in plain view and you don't forget to take them.  I need the reminder and I have a bunch that I should take but I don't because they are "out of site out of mind".  This should be a really good healthy step for me and I can't wait for it to arrive.

      Last but not least I won the DSW new store instant win game again *I think!  The game freezes after the three icons pop up but again I have sent a screenshot to the shulovers to see if they can fix the error.  Right now I am looking at a whole stack of gift cards and a reward certificate so I am going to get some awesome new fall boots.

      A few small crummy things happened today - I bought a new wok that I was terribly excited about but it got a black spot that I could not scrub off on the very first use, and I didn't even have the heat higher than medium!  Plus the "paint" or coating chipped off the bottom as soon as I tried to rinse it off.  I have always bought Nordicware bake ware, but I am never buying a pan or pot from them again.  It's insane to me that a $30 "Green" wok could be so horrible.  I think there was something wrong with it or it was faulty.  I was going to return it tomorrow but I think I am going to photograph it first and post it for them to see.  Also the beautiful birdbath that my mother-in-law Lana got me started cracking and almost all of the paint that was in the interior of it is now chipped horribly or completely missing.  It started to develop an algae problem no matter how often we changed the water and it has eaten away the colorful finish.  It was also terribly expensive and I hope that I can salvage it in the spring by repainting it myself.  I will have to look into some enamels to fix it.  Cinna also decided to catch a possum this morning and almost caught a rabbit tonight but luckily I was not a witness to either and she is fine and was not bitten, scratched or otherwise injured.

      Much love to you all - I hope you had a very good day and that you are all ready to have a smashing weekend.  Lauren and I are going to visit the grand opening of an Ulta store in Winchester, VA so hopefully we will score some excellent swag and I will have a great makeup post this weekend - wish us luck!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Friends and acquaintances

      I fear that my definition of "friend" isn't really accurate anymore.  I call so many people my friend.  I have always applied the term to the people I know and nearly always start a story I'm telling my husband "My friend ______ said..."  The time has come to reevaluate that.

      As I grow older (which I am extra conscious of this week) I am realizing that nearly every person I apply the term friend to is merely acquaintance.  It is a distressing realization in more ways than one.  Many of the people I have been closest to friendship wise throughout my life are now people I rarely hear from.  When I was younger and more outgoing I could strike up an instant rapport with people and easily adjust to changes and new settings, but now I find it very difficult to get to know new faces and even more difficult to find people willing to reciprocate the time and effort I put into relationships.  If I am your friend you can count on me.  Many of the "friends" I have had in the past take advantage of that knowledge in different ways.  At the end of the day the people I should be calling my friends are few and far between.

      I'm going to try an experiment.  For the next week I'm going to do my best to remove the word "friend" from my vocabulary.  I am going to replace the phrase "my friend" with the person's first name and a few adjectives as to where I know them from if necessary when speaking to my husband.  I'm also going to stop referring to the folks on Facebook as my friends (even though of the 480+ people who are listed as my Facebook "friends" I actually know and have more than a passing acquaintance with 99% of them) even if they are.  I'm just going to think of how these people really fit into my life, and evaluate if they are important to me and if I am important to them.  Unfortunately a large percentage of these folks would probably classify me as unimportant no matter how I try to please them.

      I'm also going to try and let go of the need to be accepted  and place less importance on it.  Hopefully it will help me form healthier relationships.  I am sure it is going to be a long haul, but I am just as sure that it needs to happen.  I can't even count how many times I have gone out of my way to to something nice for someone or to cater to people who have no appreciation for me.  I see those memes on Facebook all the time that say something to the tune of "I could car less what you think of me and my opinions" and wish that I could literally care less about some things and some people.  I am too much of a bleeding heart and it is probably one of my most mixed qualities.  It can be a blessing to be sensitive to others and it can also be a curse to care so much that I place their opinions above my own.

      Hopefully some of you will be able to help me with this.  All of my family members that have told me that I'm a pushover and I need to get a backbone and to "stop giving so much of myself away", take note: I need some people around pointing out my flaws as much as I need people who are willing to help me change my destructive patterns.  If you are a true friend to me it would help to know that you're excited that I am taking this step.

      In the coming days I will head back to the thankfulness posts that you're used to.  I am thankful that I have had all kinds of relationships in my life - good ones, bad ones, and those of the screwball comedy variety.  I am thankful for the people who have crossed my path, good and bad because they unknowingly have done much to shape the person I am.  Much love to all of you.  


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sisters.... Sisters....

      I saw my sister Marcia today for the first time in a year.  She only lives about 25 miles from me, but her job keeps her so busy that she never makes it out my way so I seldom see her.  It was nice to catch up, and she brought me a great Sinatra themed Barbie doll for my birthday.

      I felt like I got a lot accomplished this weekend - the plants Andy's mom brought are in the ground, the hedges in the front are trimmed and ready to winter over, the flower beds were attended to and weeds were pulled and I got all of the potted plants arranged in the front as well as my new flag out.  It felt very domestic and nice until Marc started in on the fact that she felt like I should be on Hoarders because I have way to much stuff.  Andy then teamed up with her to talk about how ridiculous I was with all the boxes of stuff that I have.  I love winning stuff but I have an awful habit of wanting to keep it around rather than use it because it is a "major award".  I guess I'm the dad in A Christmas Story who wants the whole neighborhood to see the spoils of a contest winner.  Over the next few weeks I am going to be cataloging and photographing most of the stuff I have won so I can show pictures and do posts on the sheer amounts of cool free things that have shown up.  Then I am going to sort through it and donate or sell or possibly swap some of it so it goes places other than here.

      I may be a tiny bit carried away, but it seems like a much healthier addiction than some of the other available ones.  Maybe I'm just a shopafreebaholic.  That doesn't sad so terrible.

      In exactly one hour I will be a whole year older.  Weird.  I don't feel any older.  I never do.  I feel younger if anything!

      Much love to all of you - I'll be watching my dear friend's little boy tomorrow so I don't know if I will be on, but I will try to leave a note to let all of you know how it feels to be 37.  (I am expecting it feels exactly like 36 with an extra twist of sarcasm.)  Goodnight!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Getting a little older every day

      I am going to be 37 very soon.  I don't feel old, but when I think about my perception of people's age when I was a child and how I see people now I start to wonder.  When I was 10 anyone over 21 was ancient.  Anyone over 40 was over the hill.  Now as I see my parents lose their minds to Alzheimer's dementia I wonder just how old I'm going to end up becoming.  I certainly don't feel that and I assume my parents didn't feel their age either.  Hell, my mom had me when she was 38 and that was back before every woman in Hollywood was having a baby at 45.  It was a big deal to wait to have a child in the 70's and an even bigger deal to have one with an 11 year gap between it and your next oldest child.  It's kind of a miracle I'm here at all I guess, but I still wonder how others see me.  I don't get carded when I buy alcohol anymore so I must've crossed a fine line at some point.

      My mother-in-law Lana dropped off some lovely plants and a glazed planter for my birthday today.  She also brought me a china bowl that she picked up at a flea market almost a year ago after I told her I liked it but it was too expensive.  She said it was intended for a Christmas gift last year but she just found it because she hid it and forgot it existed.  I guess that's the kind of stuff I have to look forward to.  She also used the phrased "well, when I drop dead" four times today when she brought my gifts over.  She is a loon, but I'm lucky to have her.

      My husband Andy stopped at Ten Thousand Villages on the way home from seeing The Expendables 2 in the theatre.  He bought me two gorgeous candle holders that he picked out all himself and a candy bar that was outrageously expensive but also incredibly delicious.  It has ground up espresso roasted coffee beans it it and it made me swoon.  You heard me.  Swoon!

      I hope all of you have reason to swoon today and are thankful for each day you get.  They aren't endless.  Much love to all of you.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Check it out

Here is a neat site offering a free engraved keychain when you link to them.  They offer customized engraving services and sell key chains, name plates, book marks and other engraved metal items.

Check them out here: nameplates

If you have your own blog or personal website you can link to (not Facebook) you can also sign up for the free item.  They explain it all here: 

So give it a go!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Missing Puck

      I am struck today at how terribly I miss my beloved dog Puck.  We had to put him down a few months ago because he was in a great deal of pain and had been for some time due to his Lyme disease.  His joints and hips made it very difficult for him to get around and he was struggling daily.  In his last few days he stopped eating and was just miserable.  I hated to take him to the vet, knowing he wasn't coming home with me that day.  He had been several times in the weeks leading up to it because he was declining so rapidly.  Sometimes I am completely wrecked when I think about him.  Perhaps it is unnatural to have such an attachment to an animal but I get a lump in my throat every day when I let Obi outside and I have forgotten before and called to Puck, thinking he was just around the corner and playing keep away to stay outside and run for a few extra minutes.  He was a great dog.  A big stinky, shedding, drooling nightmare of a dog at times, but he was mine and he meant the world to me.  I am lucky to have had him for the nearly eight years he was with me, but I still wish he were here.  Now I worry about losing Obi.  A lot.

      Sorry for such a melancholy post.  I am thankful to have had all the joy he brought me.  I'm thankful for it far more than I am sad that he is no longer with me.  Much love to all of you - I hope that you appreciate your pets and give them an extra hug tonight.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Sticking to it

      I said every day, and by golly I will post something every day!

     There wasn't a ton happening today aside from me being dreadfully tired but I did win three things.  My Favorite Pet Shop has a Facebook contest right now where they give away 100 items a night for three days to the first 100 responses at 8:30pm.  I won a glittery cat collar tonight which will fit the teeny neck of my chihuahua Obi Wan Kenobi.  I also won two Twitter Trivia contests today.  I got a box of Cafe' Escapes K-Cups for my Keurig for knowing that the swimming distance record was set in the Amazon river, not in the ocean (because I am a weirdo and I knew it but double checked myself on Google to be sure).  I also got a Riunite Wine bottle opener for knowing that the cork on their sweet wines said "Chill - Enjoy" because I had just seen a photo of one on their Facebook page.  I love little serendipitous occurrences.

      It was a slow freebie mail day but I received the Tom's of Maine deodorant sample, a box of free books and other fun stuff that I bought with the $25 Visa gift card I won a few months back from Camel, Shape magazine, Newsweek magazine and OK magazine all of which were 1 year subscriptions that I got for free from a variety of sites.  I collect points on Recyclebank, My Coke Rewards, Rewards Gold, and Free Biz Mags to get these and I have also won a couple of subscriptions for entering contests.  Purex sent me 2 years of Ladies Home Journal and I also won subscriptions to Self and Everyday Food from random contests on Facebook.

    There's more, but my bed is calling.  So much for going to sleep at 8:30 tonight since I was really sleepy.  Too bad I got sidetracked 30 times!  Much love to all of you, and may you all get a good night's sleep!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


      Even though I don't smoke, my husband does.  As much as I would love for him to quit it seems like whenever he goes through periods of stress he snaps right back into the comforting lull of the habit.  I feel fine about playing instant win games on tobacco web sites because if I ever won cigarettes or coupons they would just go straight to Andy, and if I got some cool freebie or prize then I would jump up and down and do my patented "I won I won" dance.  This dance is not rare.  It happens a lot.  It is rarely seen though by people who do not have the joy of living with me.  My friend Brooke Harrison knows just what it looks like.  She used to call it the happy dance.  It involves having both thumbs up and rolling them in slow circles towards yourself while making a face that might be described as a duck face in the current cool kid lingo - I did that dance today.

      From the Black and Mild website I am going to receive a Zippo Black Ice lighter.  Now you may say "Why the heck would a girl who doesn't smoke be so excited about a lighter?"  If you said that I'd tell you - "BECAUSE THEY"RE STUPID AWESOME!"  I'd say it just like that in shouty capitals so you'd get the point.  You can feel my excitement can't you?  When I was in high school and college I spent inordinate amounts of time with Zippo lighters belonging to my boyfriends.  I learned how to do tricks.  I could snap my fingers next to the flint and not light it.  That was my best trick - I was a master at it.  I was also very good at the trick I call "letting the metal case get gloriously hot and then shoving my thumb down on it, burning myself and crying".  I only did that trick every once in awhile because it was very difficult to master it, but master it I did and I had the blistered thumb pads to prove it.

      Soon I will be caressing the sleek black exterior of my very own Zippo.  Black and Mild can't be held responsible really.  They tried to convince me that my obsession with winning one wasn't going to come to anything good by awarding me a really cool looking pair of branded ear buds that were made from blonde wood, but I would not be so easily swayed.  (Although thanks for the ear buds too guys - I'm sure they will be cool.)  Other tobacco instant win games have also tried to keep their Zippo prizes out of my hands.  Copenhagen and Skoal (who admittedly are smokeless tobacco products and I find it a little weird they even offer lighters as prizes but hey, who am I to judge?) sent me barbeque sauce and a "hamburger" speaker for my iPod.  Marlboro is sending some awesome looking Wayfarer sunglasses that will most assuredly make me look like Detective David Addison on Moonlighting (that's Bruce Willis to you kids under 25).   I'm getting some freezable coasters from them too and someone is sending me a deck of playing cards.  Camel has even gifted me with virtual dice (which is the lamest instant win gift of all time) and a $25 Visa gift card which I used on a site where I wanted to see what it was about but didn't want to give out my credit card information so it kind of rocked.

      I am very excited that Black and Mild finally gave into my magic chant of "Zipp-o, Zipp-o, Zip-Zip-Zipp-o - Come onnnnn no whammies!"  If you would like to try the chant for yourself, by all means do.  I want you all to practice your non-skilled tricks and accidentally light your cutoff jeans on fire.  (Which I never did by the way - I was falsely accused.

      Go play games.  Be thankful for the awesome stuff that shows up randomly.  Don't be super disappointed when your chants ("Ranch! Ranch! I really like ketchup too!) don't always work, because sometimes you will walk away a winner.  My fingers are burning just thinking about it!!!

      Much love to all of you and good vibes and magic chants too.

Play the Summer of Enjoyment Instant Win Game here for a chance to win your own:
P.S. They have the most fabulously funky (Gotta Be A Love by Greyboy) song that plays in the background on the site.  It goes amazingly well with my Zippo chant.  Good luck.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Hi, it's me - the woefully bad at organizing her thoughts gal!

Ah.  Remember when I said I was going to get better at posting?  For reals?

I didn't get any better.

I aim to change that.  I have a ridiculous amount of things to talk about and post about and they are coming.  Pronto.  Definitely this time.  Soon!

Today was a stellar day and I decided that I need to make sure the folks around me have stellar days too so I'm going to share all the fun stuff that has been turning up in my mailbox with you.  Starting today I am going to make a super human effort to post something every day.  It might not be awesome, but it will be about the things I am thankful for and the little tiny joys that keep popping up around me.

Oprah sent me some BB cream today.  How freakin' awesome is that?  I will tell you about it tomorrow.  I promise!

Much love to you dear readers.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A helpful freebie hint

     Okay, I confess -  this is much harder than I imagined it to be.

     I stress out about writing blog posts a little.  More than a little actually because I want them to be awesome.  I want people to go "Wow! what a cool idea" or just feel a little bit happier by listening to my tales and  experiences, but then I think "meh - nobody cares!".  That little curmudgeonly voice has kept me from posting for a few weeks.  But I am coming back, and will try harder.

     In honor of that I am going to post a note that I wrote to a lady on one of the freebie pages that said "can anybody help me?  I am having some trouble figuring how you get these samples and free stuff."  I felt like I know a little bit about it now, and there is more to add, but this is what I wrote to her:

     Hi - you had said you were a little lost regarding the freebies?  I was at first too.  If you follow Facebook pages that have free offers like "For the Mommas", "Free Samples 2 Fill Up Your Mailbox" or "My Free Product Samples you will see posts where they say things like "this is live go now" or "hurry - 2000 left" or "win blah blah blah free".

      First you have to click on the link in their Facebook post.  It is usually highlighted or you just have to click the address at the end, or the picture of what it is that is the freebie.  It will redirect you somewhere.  Usually first to the blog or web page from that page (For the Mommas, etc.).  This is where you read about whatever the offer is.  They usually explain in detail how to do things or offer helpful hints like "click yes on the question about the Keurig brewer or you will not be eligible."  Follow their directions closely.  If it says "here is a free code" or "use the phrase ClearStyle (or freeforme or whatever the password is)" you might want to copy it to have it ready to paste on the form.  Finally it will say "Click here" or it will have a hotlink in a different color for the actual site that is doing the giveaway.  Once you click it, you are redirected to the page where you enter your information to claim the free item.  

     If you haven't yet you may want to set up an email specifically for freebies so you don't get tons of unwanted offers - almost every site asks for your email address.  If you don't have to provide a phone number (required info is usually identified with an asterix) you can use a number with caller id or a free Google number that you can set up.  We seldom answer our home phone and use our cell phones so  I usually just put my home phone if necessary. 

     Sometimes you have to be very patient.  Certain sites can take a long time to load or may be very busy and temporarily shut down.  Just keep trying.  If a contest has very few winners and it says "the first 500 at noon win a free..." you need to go to the site, fill out all your info and wait until the second you see it say noon on the computer's clock to hit enter.  Even then you won't win those very often.  There are several offers that are free and available and have plenty for everybody like the Target beauty bag (which will come back again in a fall edition at the end of the summer) or the samples of food and things that the freebie pages  will re-list that say "this is live again".  

     Usually an offer is one shot, one per person/household and you can't get it again.  Sometimes they will say "new offer".  (For example yesterday there was a new offer for Honey Nut Cheerios - I already had one coming through Wal Mart, but this one was through Facebook.)  Then you can apply again.  

     My mother lives about 14 houses away from me, and sometimes I use her address to get one for her - I fill out her address, use a separate email that I made for her offers and then they usually go through.  Most times it is for things I know she will like (like a free razor or a candy bar) but I skip all the ones I know she doesn't need like makeup.  Every once in a blue moon if there is something awesome I will send her one and she will say "what do I need with a Smashbox primer?" and I say - oh!  I'll take it if you don't want it.  :)  

     Most every contest/giveaway wants your information for marketing purposes.  That is why they do them.  If you aren't comfortable giving your info to a company you can just hit the back button.  Sometimes I will have to "like" a company on Facebook to get a freebie.  I usually hide posts from them in the news feed if I'm not interested but I seldom "unlike" them because the ones that do giveaway do them a lot and have contests occasionally.  I have won a ton of cool stuff just by reading my news feed and responding to offers.  It takes some places forever to ship freebies.  Some things will never come.  Basically if you go in with an "if I get this it will be awesome, if not oh well it was free and didn't cost me anything but 2 minutes" attitude you will do great.  

     Play instant win games.  Enter contests you wouldn't imagine winning in your wildest dreams and have fun.  If you need any help feel free to message me.  Good luck!

    I think this is pretty decent starting out advice to everybody.  I have been super amazed by all the cool things that have come that I have totally forgotten about.  I've gotten some things that made me truly happy for the 2 seconds it took me to tweet something or for my computer to autofill a form.  I am very thankful that I have found something that is so easy and for me very fun.  Go ahead and judge me.  I will simply sit in the corner and feel really sick about the fact that you may be judging me.  (There!  Ha!  That showed YOU!)  

     Soon (read: sooner than weeks from now) I am going to make a super short (oh, who are we kidding? This is ME - it will be 100 pages long and rambling and filled with dumb jokes and way too many parenthesis) list that has the best and coolest and most awesome things that have shown up in my mailbox(like my Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog Hammer groupie shirt) and the wackiest and weirdest too (like a cable I got from the site 1SaleaDay that I have absolutely no clue how to use and was in place of a pair of pearl earrings - um, thanks?!  Awesome?!  No clue!)  I will also tell you things that you might not care about and through the magic of the internet you can not read 'em!  Scroll right past and wave if you want.  I'll still sit here and stress.  :)

Much love to all of you from my cave of worry and self doubt.  ;-)

Monday, June 11, 2012

Monday Monday

      I am so very sleepy today.  I had big plans over the weekend where I was going to make vast achievements in housekeeping, baking and catching up on Mad Men.  That didn't go so well.  I did the dishes, turned the oven on just long enough to toast some garlic bread and watched exactly two minutes of Mad Men before Andy decided that we wouldn't remember what the heck was going on in the world of True Blood unless we rewatched the final episode of last season.  I was then horribly distracted by Neil Patrick Harris and the opening of the Tony Awards before TB began.  By the time it was over I needed to head to bed because I had to be at work at three a.m. to do one of my least favorite projects - the water wall.  Blech.

      This weekend did hold some nice moments.  We saw Snow White and the Huntsman at the Leitersberg Cinema.  I love that theatre.  It has all been remodeled and we always go to movies in the V.I.P. theatres that have huge leather recliners.  The only complaint I have about them is that it always feels refrigerated in there to me.  When you go to their "dinner and a movie" nights they pass out blankets and they give you coffee too.  I think that should come with every feature.  Next time I might have to take my Snuggie and put up with the strange looks people give me.  The lights are pretty low in there and you do get swallowed up by the recliners so I might only get those looks from a few folks.  It will be worth it to feel my toes when we leave.  I also got to spend a nice afternoon with my friend Grahm and his son Ezra.  Toddlers are awesome because they always are in the moment and you always know how they feel.  They don't have to edit their emotions and we don't expect it of them.  I wish that freedom was a little more acceptable in grown ups.

      I decided that I was going to go and get the mail today and then come right back and let you know what awesome things I got.  It is almost 4:30 so it ought to be here by now...  (and because I'm so excited it will probably be bills)       Stay tuned....  There will now be a brief intermission....


      And I got NOTHING!!  Ugh!  I wish our mailman had a reliable schedule.  He gets here between noon and 5:30 which is not cool.  Oh well.  Andy is outside mowing the lawn, perhaps the mailman is afraid he will be run over.  He doubles back to our house a lot because he never brings packages with him the first time.  That is the best - when the mail comes and there are fun things like magazines and makeup samples and I go out later to water the plants and find a box he forgot to bring.  Maybe he is saving the whole shebang for the double back?  It could happen!

      I did get some cool stuff this weekend.  My Grill Mates package arrived and

    HOLD THE PRESSES!  -  Andy just scared the crap out of me by knocking on the window to the office to tell me the mailman came and wait until you see this!  I am taking a picture right now!

      Holy cow!  That is over a foot of packages!  Andy said the mailman laughed and said we hit the jackpot and that I must be scouring the internet to make him work harder.  Ha ha!

     Okay, so what is it all?  Here's a rundown from top to bottom:

#1 Manilla envelope on top - my free necklace (just paid shipping) from the Autism Site.  I am going to do a whole post on this site which is a part of the Greater Good Network and how I click there every day

#2 Flexitol heel balm sample attached to a post card

#3 3 pieces of junk mail

#4 3 bills (which I could've totally done without, Mr. Postman)

#5 Coupon for a free 20oz. Coca Cola from the Subway Battleship Instant win game

#6 Booklet of coupons for Sears including 25% off any Kenmore Appliance

#7 3 pieces of mail addressed to Andy.  (The nerve of some husbands!  Geesh!)

#8 Larger brown box - Smirnoff Highball Glass (1000 won each week - week 2)

#9 Smaller brown box - Smirnoff Whipped Cream/ Fluffed Marshmallow shot glasses (week 3)

#10 White box - Julep June Mystery Box - This is something I purchased, they have 500 up for grabs, you are guaranteed a special limited edition mystery color of nail polish and you have a chance at a golden box - 50 of the boxes had the full summer color line worth $200.  Mine is not heavy enough to be a special box but it is still going to be sweet.

#11 Hot pink box -  My Birchbox!  Love!  Also a purchase but always filled with awesomeness

#12 Manilla envelope on bottom - my Doggyloot mystery pack.  I was hoping for something else, but I still am hoping this is neat.  They send toys that are guaranteed to be Cinna proof and super tough.  I am taking a chance on this company because they always have some good deals and Andy and I are at our wits' end with the rate my puppy can chew things up.   It was sort of pricey ($24) but guaranteed to be toys she couldn't kill.  A random selection of 4.  If she tears these up I'm afraid there's no hope in Mudville, but at least they are guaranteed.

      I am now off to open all this crazy stuff.  Tomorrow I will post some more pics and we'll see what happens in the dreaded jaws of Cinnabar....

      Until next time, lots of love and good sparkly things to you.

P.S. Yay!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Here, try this!

      I really love product test sites.  One of the reasons is that I love to talk.  Anybody who knows me knows that.  I like to talk about everything.  One of the nicest things is that when you join online sites that value your opinions on the products that they give you to test, they like hearing what you have to say about it, good or bad.  One of the other things most of my friends know about me is that they shouldn't ask for my honest opinion unless that is what they want to hear.  I don't tend to sugar coat things and if I am really unhappy about something you would hear a lot of things you might not be ready for.  These companies dig that,  and they dig me too.  I am active in three different groups that reward your opinions and insight into new products with free items you test and keep in return for a review.

      The first is called Crowdtap.  They offer hosted parties and sampling opportunities to members of their community.  There are lots of fun activities and really quick surveys that you complete to find campaigns that you are interested in and that you would enjoy.  I was invited to host two parties with them which I will be planning and sending out invites to soon.  The first is called "America's next Wooliteer" and in it they give you samples of the new Woolite Extra Care Dark to hand out to your guests, along with trivia games and party suggestions of activities.  They also have different challenges where you can earn points that go toward your account's bank that you can redeem for prizes like t-shirts and gift cards.  This is an example of a photo challenge I completed for Woolite to earn points.

      You don't have to put so much effort into it, but I had an idea for a beaded logo and I ran with it!  You had to take a photo of a tortured item of clothing that could've benefited from special care.

      I also have been tapped to host a McCormick Grillmates party where they send you an assortment of dry rubs, marinades, spice mixes and sauces to inspire a backyard BBQ this July!  I can't wait for that one, and Andy is excited about it too.  I was also invited to a pre-release party of Madagascar 3, but I had a scheduling conflict.  Hopefully I will get to see other screenings in the future because I love movies!  If you'd like to find out more about Crowdtap, here is a link for you.


      I am also a member of Smiley360.  Smiley360 is a nice little site where they ask you an initial bunch of survey questions and try to match you to campaigns that you would like to try.  They email you when they have an opportunity and you can join things that you think are right for you.  I am currently testing L'Oreal Youth Code Day/Night cream for Smiley360.  I received my mission and got a really nice sized jar of the cream to keep and try.  From what I understand sometimes they do blind tests where they send you unmarked products that only list the ingredients so you can try them and give the manufacturers your honest evaluation.  Before I joined they did a campaign like this with Vaseline Intensive Care Moisturizing lotion, and the testers who took part received the initial sample and after the "reveal" an additional branded product to keep.  They do more than beauty products - they sample everything from Knorr soups to Breathe Right nasal strips.  Hopefully I will get another Smiley360 campaign soon!  Here is a referral link.

smiley360.com—Be Heard. Be Happy.

      Last but not least is my favorite so far BzzAgent.  BzzAgent is exciting.  I have loved participating in the Bzz campaigns and they have a really well tailored survey that lets you get started right away.  You can Bzz your opinions on Facebook, Twitter and many other social media sites.  You also have direct links with the manufacturers and along with the test products they send you guides on sharing your experiences and give you coupons to let your friends try out whatever product you are testing.  My first experience was a high value coupon for Lindt truffles I could send to friends I thought would enjoy them.  There was no test product, but it was a familiar brand and the coupon was a good one.  You build your Bzz score and as you share more and tell more people about your experiences to build brand bzz you get more campaigns.  I received a great Bzzkit from Dr. Scholl's Massaging Gel Insoles which contained a free pair for me to try in my work shoes and also lots of $5 off product coupons so I could share the product with friends.  Again, it was a brand I was familiar with and already like so it was easy to express my thoughts to the company.  My Dr. Scholl's Bzzkit looked like this.

      I have also been fortunate to get a special Bzzkit for Kindle owners.  I receive a pre-launch copy of Oliver Potzsch's new novel The Dark Monk and also his original novel in the series The Hangman's Daughter.  It just arrived yesterday and as soon as I am finished I am going to start it.  Bzzing about a book?  Awesome!  I also just found out that I was accepted to a John Freida campaign to try a version of their Frizz-Ease Sheer Solution product that is lightweight for people with fine hair.  I look forward to that because although I have used the product many times to style wigs, it was always too heavy in my hair and weighed it down.  I love free products - they are like awesome little gifts that pop up from time to time.  (Just today in my mailbox I got a coupon for a free 64oz. juice from Old Orchard, Always Radiant samples with a really cute wristlet purse, Tully's brand K-cups for my Keurig brewer and a Clif Builder's Bar in their crunchy peanut butter flavor.  All of those were just random freebies I signed up for on Facebook - how cool is that?)

      Okay - I know BzzAgent sounds great - If you are interested in an invitation to join leave a comment on this post and I will shoot you an email with the information, or just go to BzzAgent and sign up to get bzzing!  (P.S. they are looking for testers for lots of really awesome stuff like BE wines and a company that sells juicers as well as pretty party ware from Mozaik, and charity related campaigns like Live Below the Line.  There is really something for everybody!)

      Alllllrighty then!  That's the lowdown on the three big ones.  I also applied to host a game night from a site called House Party but still haven't been confirmed.  I also occasionally do Vocal Point which offers some "try and tell" coupons and opportunities.  The Always offer I received today actually came through them.  You don't have to write a review, but they encourage you to interact and to enter their contests for full sized products.  Later this week I am going to talk about all of the wonderful things that have randomly shown up on my doorstep and how you can go about getting them for yourself if you need a little bit of extra joy heading your way.

      Much Love and lots of summer sun and fun.  Have a great weekend!  (I'm going to start early because I'll be done with work by 11am tomorrow - yay!!)


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Rest in Peace Ray

      Even though I should be in bed (since I have to work at 3am tomorrow - yikes!) I just wanted to quickly post about some cool things that have happened.  I got my copies of Oliver Potzsch's The Hangman's Daughter and The Dark Monk today on my Kindle from BzzAgent.  I actually read The Hangman's Daughter which was a historical mystery novel a while ago, and enjoyed it although it was slow at first.  The Dark Monk doesn't launch in print until next week and if I hurry I will get to review it early.  I am always fond of books, and the opportunity to read it free makes me really happy!  I will be posting a review here and on GoodReads as well as soon as I get into it.

      Another exciting book win happened today too.  I just found out that I was randomly picked to win a free copy of the memoir Jasmine and Fire by Salma Abdelnour from Read It Forward.  It is about her experiences during a year she spent in Beirut.  It looked really interesting, and this is also an advance copy but it is a physical book rather than one for my e-reader.  I am expecting it in about a month, so I will definitely be talking about it after I'm done, and in the read it forward spirit I would be happy to let anyone else who has an interest borrow my copy.

      One very sad thing that happened today was that one of my favorite authors, Ray Bradbury died.  I loved his short story collections especially, and also have been a fan of his since I was very very young and I watched a wonderful ABC after school special based on one of his works called "The Electric Grandmother."  I also have loved the Disney movie "Something Wicked This Way Comes" based on his story The Autumn People for as long as I can remember.  I have dvds of the old Ray Bradbury theatre shows from HBO that I watched when I was younger too.  From Dandelion Wine (which was almost the name of this blog) to Fahrenheit 451 I have loved his work and I am sad to see that he has passed on.  Thankfully he has left behind a legacy of wonderful science fiction and fantasy writing to readers everywhere and he will live on in his words and his influence in other's work.  I will always be grateful for the little moments of wonder and excitement he has given me.  Thank you Ray.  Rest in Peace.

      Much Joy and Love to you.  Read a little every day and I know you will find it.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Sample Subscriptions - Genius!

      Howdy folks!  One of the ways I have recently been adding to my "small wonders every day" project is through the purchase of a few sample subscription boxes.  Eventually I am going to do a breakdown of all the ones I have bought and if I thought they were sweet or decided they wouldn't be showing up again.  Basically a sample subscription is this: you send a small amount of money per month to a bunch of people who build boxes of samples (generally beauty but could be any number of things catered to your interests like food, cleaning products etc.) that you might be interested in.  Sometimes you get full size products, most of the time you get "luxury" sized samples that give you plenty of the product to try and fall in love with or leave behind in a post-it note breakup.  Today I am going to share my very first experience with Cravebox - a site that charges $10 a month and sends you a big box, chock a block full of things to amaze you and small wows to get excited about.

      Open it with me!

      When it arrives there is intense excitement!  What could be in here?  What cool discoveries am I going to make?  I had been on a waiting list for what seemed like ages to get in with this company.  They pack an eclectic mix of everything in their boxes, so you never know what is in store.  They contacted me a couple of weeks ago and let me know that I had won a lottery to get a subscription slot.  They are very popular and I was very happy to get in - I know lots of people wanted to get their hands on the Cravebox loot!

      Right away there was a letter telling me what was in store in my Cravebox, but I didn't want to spoil it, so I tucked it aside to read later when I wasn't busy bouncing up and down.  I uncurled a pink ribbon and found some Plum Amazins snacks from Sunsweet.  They were delicious and I munched on them right away. They are kind of like Crasins or raisins but they weren't as sugary sweet and they were nice and chewy.  The next thing was a Lipton sample which I was psyched over until I saw it was pineapple mango flavor -two fruits that I am completely allergic to!  Ick!  But Andy will like it a lot so it's still cool.

      Next came two full size products: An 18oz. Tree Hut coconut lime shea sugar body scrub (which I would adore except for the shea in it.  I unfortunately am allergic to everything under the sun).  It smelled fantastic and I wish I could use it but it will make a great gift for someone's birthday!  The Skintersection cream for crazcked skin repair was also full size - 2 fl oz. and felt really great on my heels - I popped open the cap and tried it immediately.  Normally I would have been reading the product to see what was in it, but I had heard about them before and I knew what it was - a jar of super creamy goodness that works on cracked skin.  It has tomato extract in it which I thought was neat.  Last but not least - GuyLian chocolate seashells.  Um - yum!  I loved getting candy!  And truffles at that - so yummy.

      So the whole box of surprises looked like this:

      I thought it was a great value and it actually had several things I could put to good use including recipe cards for the plums, and coupons to buy bigger sizes of the tea (in a non allergy flavor) and the Amazins.  I wouldn't have sought out most of the products on my own but I was happy to have found the cream which I really like and the chocolates were dreamy.  I think they have that chocolate brand at Sam's Club.  I might look into them at Christmastime and see if they have other seasonal shapes.

      All in all I thought it was a great mix of exciting stuff and even though two of the products were not well suited for me given my allergies, I am really encouraged to see what the coming months will bring.  I also filled out a survey for Plum Amazins and they get back to you with offers that include coupons and full sized products, so I just might win something cool too.  I also attended the Taste of the Tropics Cravebox Twitter party tonight and had a good time getting to know some other women who shared my interests.  They gave out prizes, and even though I didn't win I was interested to learn about Tweetgrid where I can watch the parties happen in real time.  If you want to follow me on twitter I post about free stuff and twitter parties on there, and often about contests and giveaways too.  You can follow me at @mjreynolds32.

      I also have tried these kinds of boxes from Birchbox, Eco Emi, Julep Maven and New Beauty Test Tube.  There are some definite winners (Eco Emi I love you so!) and losers (Me and the Test Tube are on  the outs, and I can't be won back).  Stay tuned for posts and pics about them too.

      Here's hoping much love and joy are headed your way today and every day.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!

      Woohoo!  I love winning things.  When I was a little girl my Mom always encouraged me to put my name in raffles and drawings.  She always told me I was lucky.  I started to believe it.  I don't win all the time.  I wouldn't even say I win things a lot, but even if the win is a pen I'm on cloud nine.  I think the excitement of being chosen is so much fun.  I like the randomness of random drawings and I love when I can show off my mad skills of remembering dumb little things that most people have let slip from their brains ages ago.  I am certain that my knowledge of the name of a branch of the Russian Secret Police (the Oprichniki) is going to land me a prize someday.  I'm even more certain of this because when asked the question "name a branch of the Russian Secret Police" on my Principles of Democracy exam in tenth grade I sloppily wrote "Zagnut" and received full credit.  I was partially testing my teacher's ability to grade exams, and also I couldn't remember one and I had just seen the movie Beetlejuice.  Now I will never forget it, so obviously it is necessary information!

      At the end of April our local branch of Chik-fil-A had a small appreciation event for Mother's Day.  They called it ladies' night out and invited local small business owners to come and set up in their booths to host a little area where you could shop for Mother's Day.  My friend Kathy was there promoting her business (A SpecialTea Place) and I went to visit her and lend my support.  Long story short - there was a raffle - I dropped in an entry form and I won this...

    ...An awesome gift basket that was filled with cool stuff from all of the vendors at the event.  I was so excited when they called me I might have whooped a little, but no one gave me any funny looks because I was at work on my lunch break and people there expect me to be a little bit weird.  I found it really encouraging.  It was also filled with all kinds of stuff that I love - makeup, free food and tea (thanks for the tea Kathy!) and house goods too.  Additionally there were some great gift certificates which I have already made use of.

      Just after I won this I started having all kinds of good luck come my way.  I won a $30 Fandango gift card from an AT&T instant win game, and Oasis face hydration product from the company H2O+ in their online Under the Surface Game, and I was one of the first 300 folks to sign up for and win a free wedding bag from an online store called Boncy Boutique.  This is what it looked like:

The stuff in it is jewelry of my Mom's and I am using the photo to enter yet another awesome little contest from them.  They asked all of the winners to show how you were using your bag and the person who gets the most likes on their image will win some free jewelry from them.  If you want to vote for me, visit the Boncy Boutique Facebook page and like the photo above that appears on their wall.  While you're at it wish me luck!

      Instant win games are easy to find.  Companies sponsor them on their Facebook pages a lot.  Also you can find lists of active games on sites like Free Samples to Fill Up Your Mailbox and if you go to their site (or link to it from their Facebook page of the same name) you can click on "Instant Win Games" at the top of the page to go to a whole list of active games including the H2O+ Under the Surface promotion.  Most of the times you just have to give your name and email and click a button to spin a wheel or try to reveal a prize.  Bic markers is currently having a giveaway on their Facebook page too and it is pretty easy to win that one since they are giving away 100 an hour.  Remember what I said about being happy just to win a pen?  I scored a new Bic Mark It marker in a fashionable summer color.  Yeah baby!

      Another way you can win things is by being one of the first X amount of responses.  The Boncy bag was something I won like this.  I was one of the first 300 people to click at 9pm on a certain night.  You need lightning fast fingers to fill out your forms and auto fill helps if you have it enabled.  I am usually pretty bad at things like this unless there are at least 1000 being given away.  In the last few weeks I won a free coupon for a full size Dickenson's facial care product, and a cooler (like an insulated lunch box) from Friggo cheese products.  These little games pop up all the time if you are on any of the free product alert Facebook pages. There seem to be a lot of them in the early afternoon, right when I get home and I'm online anyway.  Sometimes if there is a specific time a company is going to be giving away free samples or products they will post reminders so you can be there to try and catch the deal.  I have received free samples of Crystal Light and Garnier shampoo this way.

      I hope that you are excited and encouraged that you can win.  Half the excitement comes from the anticipation!  I love the feeling of waiting for a name to be announced.  I think that most drumrolls must surely be meant for me!  Just knowing that I might win is often really fun.  The next best thing about winning is forgetting that you won a prize and then having UPS show up at your door with a package.  I love getting these mystery boxes - when I open them and look at the little wonders popping up in my day, I am filled with glee!

      Much love and many winning moments is my wish for you today!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Nifty little things in my mailbox

      So one of the things that I have been very excited about (super, stupid excited about) is the fact that my friend Marcie showed me how to sign up for free stuff online.  Now I know that people occasionally get free samples in their mailbox, and I am a total sucker for the gift with purchase deals (Clinique Bonus Time anyone?) that you see in the stores.  I never realized how much companies want you to try their stuff.  I know it is all a marketing ploy to get you to fall in love with something so you will repurchase it in the future even though it might be expensive or something you would've never planned on buying in the first place.  That being said, I am a terrible impulse shopper so if a company is willing to let me test out something that I find out I don't care for I don't waste any money.  At the moment, I have enough shampoo sachets to keep my hair clean for several weeks and I didn't have to shell out the $3 -$5 a bottle on them just because I thought they smelled good.

      Like I said before, going to the mailbox every day is a little like Christmas.  Besides Sundays and holidays I have gotten at least one cool (or possibly cool) thing in the mailbox every day except one for the last three and a half weeks.  Free magazines, free beauty products, free coupons, and free cleaning products.  A whole mess of stuff that I think is amazing.  Now I understand that some of you might say - "Oh wow - cereal - big freaking deal!"  but I love the potential of a little gift brightening every day.  I am amazed and impressed by the quality and the size of some of the samples.  I look at some of them and I think "really?  They wasted a stamp to send me 2 blisters of Prilosec?"  In the end it is all part of the excitement.  If I can't use it I know that I could donate it to a local food bank or save it for Christmas when they put out calls for sample sized items to send overseas in care packages for the troops.  None of it will go to waste because I will pass on anything I get that doesn't suit me to friends and family.  Do I really need an Arby's t-shirt?  No.  Will I sleep in it and garden in it and love  it just the same?  Absolutely.

      The very first thing I got was also one of the things that blew me away.  It was an Atkins weight loss start up kit.  Now I'm not running out to start the Atkins diet plan.  I consider myself a starch-itarian, so it would be murder for me.  However I have tried the bar before as a snack in place of candy and I really enjoyed them.  The kit came four days after I filled out my info even though it said "allow 6-8 weeks".  It looked like this:

      The box was filled with a meal plan and recipe book, a carb counter card and three of the bars that I liked so much.  I know that the bars generally come in six packs, so I was able to try several flavors that I hadn't had before.  I thought this was a genuinely cool sample, and I was happy to take the bars to work with me and have them as a snack or even as lunch.  The chocolate peanut one in the middle tasted about as much like a Snickers bars as anything that had no sugar in it could, so I would say it was pretty awesome.  I emailed them and asked a question about how I could get a second one for my mother in law who didn't have an email address and they took her mailing address and sent her one too which was pretty cool of them.

      I plan on making little posts whenever I get something awesome or surprising in my mailbox.  If you want to know more about how I got it, where I got it or if it is still available, I will do my best to find out for you.  Leave me a comment and I will post a link if you can still get it.

      As of today (June 2, 2012) the Atkins link is still open if it looks like something you might want to try.
                                      Atkins Start up Kit

      In my next post I'm going to talk about another new discovery - instant win games and contests.  After that there is a whole world of cool things to come - product test sites, coupon match ups that are already done for you, and the thing I am most excited about - sample subscriptions!  (The last ones cost money.  No worries though, I will try and explain the ins and outs of the ones I have subscribed to so you can make informed decisions.  Are they cool - yep!  Are they all worth the money? - nope.)

Much Love, and the hope that you may find some small wonders in your life today.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Hi! Welcome!


      My name is Michelle and I am thrilled to call this my very first blog entry.  I'm new to this blogging thing, and I know it takes a little time, but I am excited to get my voice out there in a different way.

      There are so many delightful little moments that take place in our lives that get glossed over and taken for granted that I thought maybe I might just share my "little wonders" with you.  What are little wonders?  They are happy little things that take place in our everyday lives.  Maybe someone compliments you, or you can finally button up those jeans you've been trying to get into again.  Maybe you tried something awesome and are happy that you had the experience.  It might just be that in gazing down at your lawn and regretting the fact that the grass is high or there are 500 things you ought to accomplish before you have time to tackle it, you spot a something.

      A tiny yellow flower.

      Some might call it a weed.  The second before you return to the busy clip of your life you really look at it.  What you see is amazing.  A tiny glowing button of color that has popped up despite of all the things working against it.

      I love dandelions for many reasons.  They are pretty little monsters that seem to be everywhere you don't want them to be and at the same time they are tiny glorious interruptions of color in the middle of the sameness that we see everyday.

       This blog is going to be about appreciating the unexpected joys of  the daily grind.  I get tremendously excited over little things.  If someone says "hey you have beautiful eyes" I will glow for days.  If I win a contest or even score something free, I am bouncing with joy.  If I happen to try a new lipstick or a new recipe I can't stop talking about it for days.  If I ever won the lottery or "a major award" (like in A Christmas Story) I just might pass out.

       I think there are 1000 reasons to celebrate right here and now.  That's one of the reasons I love Christmas so much.  For a few weeks there is an undeniable excitement in the air.  People seem kinder.  The world looks rosier.  There is so much good will going around that I don't know who to smile at first.  That's why I want a little Christmas every day.  A little excitement.  A little appreciation for the tiny hearty dandelions that are just begging you to make them into a crown and wear it with pride and delight.  I hope that you can find the same happiness in the tiny wonders that present themselves to you.  If you find one, please share it with me because the only thing I like better than the feeling I get when I stop and appreciate the world is knowing others can share in that same simple happiness.

      Much Love.