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In honor of Earth Day, I thought I’d draw your attention to a deal site that’s launching soon.  However, if you sign up soon, they’ll donate $1 to The Nature Conservancy.  Awesome concept.

From what I can tell so far, Social Goodies is going to be full of awesome concepts.  Yes, in case you haven’t figured it out yet, this is yet another daily deal site.  However, the twist to this is that the charities that Social Goodies partner with get 20% of the revenue from every deal.  Like the other sites I’m obsessed with, each day a new deal will be featured at a discounted price.  However, with Social Goodies, there is no minimum number of people that need to buy for the deal to go into effect.

While the site is still ramping up, you can still sign up to start getting the deals once they launch soon.  Seems like a win-win for everyone, doesn’t it?

Happy Earth Day to all!

To wrap up my series on our Cape May trip via Living Social, it’s time to talk about what to do in a shore town when half the town is still shut down and it’s way too cold to sunbathe.  Cape May is still full of activities in the off-season, so here are some highlights from our own trip.

Physick Estate
Jared loves touring old mansions.  In fact, whenever we travel, I think it’s safe to say we visit at least one.  We even made a special trip to Rhode Island to do the mansion tours one 4th of July weekend.  This trip was no exception, and with an abundance of Victorian-style homes, Cape May offered a lot of options when it came to tours.

The Emlen Physick Estate is the only Victorian house museum in Cape May.  It’s a neat story.  This house was in disrepair, and then the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts was formed in 1970 to bring it back to its historic state.  I won’t bore you with the historical details, but for $10, you get a 45 minute tour of the estate that concludes with a visit to the Carraige House, which typically has a separate historical display towards the back.  For $18, you can do a combination trolley tour of historic Cape May plus the mansion tour.  Our hotel gave us a voucher for the tours, however, we visited the mansion before we visited the hotel.  Darn.  Check with your hotel to see if they offer any deals for the tour.

Cape May Winery
I’m about to make a huge claim here and say that the Cape May Winery is one of the best wineries we’ve ever been to from an atmosphere perspective.  The tasting room is a gorgeous, expansive room with tables, couches, a bar and barrels lining the whole side wall.  Large enough to accommodate large groups without making other people feel like they are waiting around forever, the tasting room is really just a fantastic room.

Given how awesome the room was and how much it made us want to linger, we chose to do a tasting for $6 that included tasting 6 wines plus a souvenir glass.  Both Jared and I chose a mix of reds and whites to try, along with a dessert wine for me and a port for him, which I usually don’t find too much of at local wineries.  The wines we liked the most, like the Victorian White were very sweet.  That happens to be our preference, however, I also enjoyed some of the other more dry whites as well.

After our tasting, we decided to purchase a full glass of our favorites and sit in the tasting room for awhile, something I’ve never seen at other wineries.  Typically you go straight from tour (if there is one) to tasting, and then to the gift shop.  The Cape May Winery really encourages people to linger, with a balcony upstairs that looks over into the vineyard.  If it hadn’t been so windy and cold that day, this is something I definitely would have loved to do.  In fact, we saw one couple up there splitting a bottle and just hanging out.  Such a great, restful and fun activity, and we can’t wait to open the bottles we ended up buying.  Definitely worth a long afternoon stop on your trip to Cape May!

Cape May County Zoo
Another thing we’re huge fans of are gardens and zoos.  I’ll admit I was spoiled in DC, visiting the National Zoo sometimes every month without having to pay.  The Cape May County Zoo was a fabulous find.  With free admission year round, I was kind of expecting just a few animals set up in a dinky little park, but was pleasantly surprised to find it is so much more than that.

From lions and tigers and bears to simple geese, ducks and wandering peacocks, the zoo layout is one of the best I’ve seen in awhile.  I think we spent about 2 hours wandering around, enjoying the weather and all of the diverse animal populations.  Although the zoo was packed the day we were there, the expansive nature of the set-up allowed us to see everything we wanted to see without crowding around with other people.  Perfect for children and adults alike, the zoo is located a few miles outside of downtown Cape May in Cape May Courthouse.  Worth the drive, particularly since it’s free.  Just remember to support organizations like this with your donations to keep them up and running!

For all those that think of a certain show when they think of New Jersey, try visiting us first.  You’ll see there’s much more here than bumps and fist pumps.

Thanks to Hip2Save, I’m discovering all sorts of fun sites lately.  Yesterday, I saw a notice about House Party on the Facebook feed.  After some exploration of Hip2Save’s blog post and the House Party site, I thought it would be a fun site to share.

The concept is pretty cool:  House Party lists a number of different events sponsored by various brands that are looking to get the word out about their products.  As a member of the House Party site, you apply online to act as host for the various events.  If you are chosen, you get some free stuff and great products to use.  All you have to do is host the party!

So what’s the catch?  Parties do have to be hosted on a specific day, so if you’re booked for like months on end like we always seem to be, it might be hard to find something cool to host.  Also, there is no guarantee you’ll be chosen.  Basically, it seems as if you have to meet certain requirements, and there are only so many party packages to go around.  Also, you are expected to be an active part of the community, sharing photos and information from your party.  Fun for a blogger like me, but probably not a real incentive for most other people.

I’m super into this concept.  Number one, because I like free things, and number two, because it’s a great excuse to get people together.  My only concern is not getting enough people to attend!  While most of the upcoming parties are on dates that I wouldn’t be able to host, I’ll be on the look out for some fun ones.

Who’s in??  Would anyone come to something like this, or is it annoying?  Feedback, please!  Otherwise, I’ll update once I have my first party 🙂

I typically avoid blogs about coupons and deals, because I usually find them either irrelevant, or spammy.  Sometimes I’ll find relevant deals on them, but most times, I’m not really interested in having someone regurgitate what they find in circulars.

Hip2Save bills itself as “Not Your Grandma’s Coupon Site”.  Now, there’s nothing wrong with regular coupon clipping-it’s an activity I engage in each week, and is pretty much one of the only reasons we get the Sunday paper.  However, Hip2Save does put a fresh spin on saving money and having fun seeking out deals and more.

Hip2Save focuses on Freebies, Coupons, Stores, Online Deals, Restaurants, Rewards and Contests, so it really covers the full spectrum of ways to save.  The Freebies section is updated pretty frequently, even alerting you to when older deals have expired.  The links are easy to follow, and the rules for redeeming freebies are spelled out so there’s no surprises.  For the Coupons section, it looks like Hip2Save links over to Coupons.com in most instances, where you can print deals and coupons.  I haven’t tried Coupons.com yet, because I believe you need to install something to print them, but perhaps one of these days I’ll get around to doing that.  Coupons.com seems like a great alternative for those that don’t receive paper coupons.

The Online Bargains section is one of my favorites.  Hip2Save does a great job of alerting readers to timely deals and sales, instead of you having to do the legwork yourself.  They find some great stuff, like an Amazon deal on a KitchenAid mixer and more.  It’s fun to check in every now and then to see what’s new online.

I’m huge on Contests, and am convinced that one of these days I’ll win one.  By keeping up with the Contest section on Hip2Save, I’m able to see what’s new besides my usuals.  I won’t enter contests from brands that I don’t normally interact with, just because I think that’s cheating, but it does introduce me to some new things.  And contests are fun.  Seriously.  Even when I don’t win.

There’s a lot more to explore on the site.  Hip2Save is a really well done site that makes coupon hunting and online deals fun and meaningful.  Even if you just check in once a week, it’s definitely worth adding it to your list of must-read blogs and sites.  Thanks to Collin Morgan, the brains behind the site, for providing such a quality experience!

I knew Jared and I were meant to be when he shared with me how much he loved filling out forms.  I couldn’t agree more.  Especially when that particular form is a survey.  Who doesn’t love sharing their opinions for points or cash?  I personally can’t pass up the opportunity to sign up to provide my thoughts on anything from new products to technology to advertisements.  ZoomPanel is just another site that lets us fill out forms to our hearts’ content.

ZoomPanel is operated by the wonderful people of Zoomerang.  If you’re not using Zoomerang for your business to deploy surveys and analyze results, you’re really missing out on an inexpensive way to get feedback from your customers or prospects.  But that’s for another day.

ZoomPanel is a community of consumers who “share opinions and insights about companies’ products and services by participating in market research studies.”  It’s free to join, and you’re rewarded with points, instant win prizes, sweepstakes, and more.  Points can be redeemed through the Zoom Panel Rewards Center for anything from magazine subscriptions to jewelry to home goods.  While it does seem as if it will take forever to reach certain points levels, a lot of survey sites operate the same way.

Points are awarded any time you take a survey, even if you don’t fit the requirements set by the marketer to move on.  Depending on how far you get, surveys can take up to 30 minutes.  Each short profile survey you fill out enters you for a chance to win $500 as well as be eligible for more surveys based on the demographic information needed.

Maybe I just love these types of sites because I like forms and marketing, but it’s definitely a great way to get rewarded while also making your voice heard.  While I have yet to redeem any points from any of the sites I’m signed up for, I’m sure they are true to their word as far as points redemption goes.  Stay tuned for that, once I actually accumulate more points!  Sign up today, and start sharing! Enjoy!

I’m pretty old school when it comes to some things.  When I upgraded to the iPhone two years ago, it pained me to get rid of my hands free set-up that plugged into the phone.  Archaic now in the age of Bluetooth, but I loved that thing.  And to be honest, the Bluetooth headset I bought annoyed me.  It didn’t feel great in my ear, and I don’t think people could hear me that well.  But I don’t care enough about these things to be proactive about it.

I’m lucky I have a husband who does stay up to date on phone accessory technology!  We needed to go to Costco for a party we were having, and he had seen a coupon for the Jabra Cruiser2 Bluetooth.  The deal seemed great:  the Jabra Cruiser2 only cost us around $50, compared to some prices I’ve seen that go up to $70.  Since I don’t care that much about my bluetooth, I’d never pay that much for one.  I have to admit, paying $50 took some convincing too, but it’s worked out really well.

The Jabra Cruiser2 clips to my sun visor and has a huge speaker, so nothing goes in my ear.  I simply turn it on when I get in the car, and it automatically connects with my phone through bluetooth.  When my phone rings, the speaker “rings” as well, and an automatic voice reads me the name of the caller.  I then press a large button on the speaker to answer the call.  No looking down, no fumbling with touch screens-just a simple reach and touch. Sound clarity has been fine, with no complaints about not being able to understand what I’m saying.

As for battery, the Jabra Cruiser claims to last for 14 hours talk time and 20 days standby.  I bought this in December, and I’ve charged it twice since then.  This thing holds battery probably 5-6x better than my bluetooth headset did.  It comes with an in-car charger, and has just been a really convenient option for me given how infrequently I need to use it.  I never have to worry it’s not charged, since it holds a charge so long, so I’m never left hanging.

Another cool feature is the FM transmitter.  By pressing a button on the side of the Jabra, I can program it to play through my car audio. I’ve used this to play Pandora wirelessly from my phone through the speakers of my car.  Pretty awesome, right?  The quality has been pretty good, albeit a bit static-y depending on the area, but still just a neat feature for music lovers and commuters that want variety.

For the price, the Jabra is a great option for commuters and other long distance travelers.  Well worth its $50 for sure!

Just when you thought I was finished writing about online discount sites…..

As we all know by now, I’m a bit addicted to online shopping and deals, so I LOVE when emails from sites like Groupon and Living Social show up in my Inbox.  Even if I don’t buy anything, I just like having the option.  A friend of mine recently posted a link on her Facebook profile to Eversave.  Since I always post links to the sites I belong to, and want people to sign up so I can get referral bonuses, I thought I might as well help her out!

There aren’t too many differences among Eversave and the other coupon sites out there.  The referral program seems a bit better (just for signing up I got a $2 credit toward a purchase), but other than that, it’s the same theme:  sign up, get daily emails, buy, and save.  If you refer friends, you get $10 once they make their first purchase.  Pretty decent reward, if your friends remember they signed up for it….

I’m signed up for Eversave NYC, and the deals I’ve gotten so far have all been discounts for e-tailers, which is actually better for me than any NYC deals, since it’s highly unlikely I’d go to the city to take advantage of them.  The sites are all pretty unique and botique-like, so it’s been fun reading through and seeing what they have to offer.

From a location perspective, Eversave has some work to do.  As of today, there were only about 55 locations across the United States, most of them focused around cities.  This hasn’t seemed to matter yet, as I haven’t seen too many deals that can’t be redeemed online, but it would be nice for one site to penetrate the rural areas a bit better than the other sites have done.  It would certainly set them apart.

Another way Eversave is trying to differentiate itself is through the Savings Center, which lists coupons and other deals and integrates with Coupon.com.  I’ve personally never used Coupon.com, because you have to install this special print application, but I might consider doing it just to get some variety in my off-line coupon clipping.  I’d like this feature better if I could add the coupons to my store card and have the deals deducted automatically at check out.  But I won’t judge.

Besides printable coupons, the Savings Center gives you the opportunity to sign up to take surveys, get discounts from clothing stores, and some cool contests and giveaways.  I’m a bit leery of signing up for anything yet, but it might tempt me eventually….

I know what you’re thinking-there’s only so many emails with deals I can stand, Valarie.  That’s ok.  But for those of us that really love to shop, and really love to save, what’s one more discount to browse through each morning?

Sign up here, and start saving!

 

With all the discount sites available out there these days, who ever wants to pay full price for anything?  Certainly not me.  My latest obsession in the land of online discount shopping revolves around Rue La La.

My sister sent me an invitation to Rue La La before I got married, and to be honest, I kind of ignored it.  Designer clothes?  Who needed those anyway.  More recently, my cousin sent me an invitation, and out of sheer boredom one afternoon, I signed up.  After all, people have signed up for all sorts of things for me, I might as well give this another try, right?

Obsessed.  I’m not a label freak, by any means.  I just like nice things.  Rue La La is like an emporium of nice things at prices that normal people can afford.

Here’s how it works:  once you join, you receive access to premier brand, private sale boutiques that are open for a limited amount of time.  Rue La La seeks to provide members with a “well-edited collection of sought-after offerings from the best brand names in the world.”  The best way to make sure you take advantage of the great sales right away is to receive the daily email that lists the featured “Boutiques” of the day.  Recent boutiques have included Elie Tahari, L.A.M.B, Calvin Klein and La Perla.

So are you really getting a discount?  In my opinion, yes.  For instance, today there is an L.A.M.B crossboy originally priced at $158 marked down to $79.90.  I’m sure if I knew more about designers and brands, I’d have more to say about the discounts, but in my opinion, it’s a great way to shop luxury on a mid-career budget.

But, to my surprise and delight, Rue La La is not just for clothes.  They are expanding their local deals section, which so far has included restaurant deals and spa services.  Additionally, I’ve seen some great deals on gourmet treats and wines, as well as vacations and home decor items.  So, even if you’re not a label hog, there’s still something for everyone!

While I haven’t bought anything yet and can’t speak to the service element of Rue La La, I have heard great things about it so far.  Why haven’t I bought yet?  Well, I’m on a budget, for sure, so I’ve been waiting for the perfect thing.  Also, I have to admit, I’m always leery of buying clothes online, due to my figure.  But, one of these days, maybe I’ll find that perfect thing!

Wanna get in?  You can!  Visit http://www.ruelala.com/invite/vberger06 and let the “Ohh la la” begin!

I don’t like driving.  At all.  And driving in the snow?  Well, that’s been known to set me off the edge into a full on panic attack.  (Just ask Jared-he’s unfortunately been present for one too many!)

I’ve worked at a few different places since I left college, and most places had a pretty flexible work from home policy in bad weather.  I’ve worked for some very understanding people who know about my slight driving phobia. I am not the kind of person to take advantage of such work at home policies, however, I do admit that sometimes I’m probably too cautious when it comes to getting on the road.

After getting made fun of one too many a time for not coming in, or finding I’m the only person that hasn’t made it, I’ve become pretty resolute on getting here no matter what*.  I take things like that to heart.  And let me tell you why.  I never make the decision not to come to the office just because I don’t feel like going in.  EVER. However, there is a common misconception that when people call in and say they will be working from home, they’re actually sitting in front of their TVs and only checking in via email every now and then.

This concept exists because of people I will refer to as “the ruiners”.  You know the type.  It’s the people whose Facebook statuses last night read like we were all still 21:  “Snow day tomorrow, start the drinking now” or “Praying my office closes-not that I’m going in anyway.”  It’s people like this that really ruin it for those of us that are honest and hardworking.

The decision for me to go in in not-so-ideal conditions is not a decision I make lightly.   A typical snowy morning goes something like this for me:

My alarm still goes off at 6 a.m.  Jared quickly tells me, “You’re not going in, the roads are too bad.”  To which I reply, “I’m just going to go see, and I’ll check if the schools are closed.”  I get out of bed, and turn the alarm off.  I look outside, in the dark, not able to see much of anything.  I scour the news and internet for any kind of omen or a sign regarding if I should go in.  I return to the bedroom, usually upset, saying I’m not sure what I should do.  Jared says I should not go.  I say, “I’m just going to take a shower and see what it looks like when it gets light.”  I shower, fretting the whole time.  I re-examine the conditions, and spend a bit more time freaking out.  I head back into the bedroom, “I’m going to leave now, and I’ll turn around if the roads are bad.”  Jared usually responds with, “OK, but make sure you really do turn around.”  (Sidenote: I did actually obey his instructions once last year).   Then, I typically enjoy an extremely slow hour long commute or more, but I make it in.  Only to find that a lot of other people did not and to realize that I might just be insane.

Why do I worry about it so much?  Why not just do what most other people do, and roll back over, or not even set the alarm at all when the weather seems bad? Why give it a second thought, and torture Jared through my decision making process?   Because it’s just not in my DNA to phone it in. My friends and family members are the same way.  We just don’t have what it takes to take such things for granted.  However, we worry and fret over them because we don’t want to be lumped into the same group of people that DO take work at home privileges for granted.  It’s because of this group of ruiners that a “snow day” will never be something I particularly look forward to.  It will always be coated in stress and anxiety and the fear that someone will think I’m lazy for not getting on the road, even if it truly is unsafe.

So, to those of you that knowingly take advantage of your company’s work at home policies, don’t set your alarms when the forecast is bad or just simply don’t care what people think, hats off to you.  Thanks for ruining it for the rest of us.  After all, you know that we’ll just pick up your slack anyway…….

*Writers Note:  I am in no way advocating people getting out on the road when conditions are not safe.  I am a total proponent of using your best judgment and not risking your life to get to the office if you can easily work from home.  Nor am I praising myself for the attitude that I have.  Trust me, I wish I could be more relaxed.  The opinions above are simply a bitter expression of envy towards those people that are not wired the way I am. 🙂

This is for all you Jersey kids out there.  I feel like most people don’t spend enough time exploring the place they actually live, so I’ve spent a lot of time this past year reading up about local events, restaurants, festivals, etc. to make sure Jared and I are always on the go with no down time.  😉  NJ My Way is another great site to help me achieve that goal.

From a frequently updated blog to event listings, it’s super easy to find a round up of everything going on in the fabulous Garden State.  Also, if you’re looking for jobs, the site integrates with a local job finder tool, putting everything you need right in one place.

Enjoy!

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