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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!

I think I speak for all females when I say that shopping for clothing can fall into two categories:  a fabulous, stress-relieving experience or a raging beat down of your body.  We’ve all heard other women talk about themselves in the dressing room, and we’ve probably engaged in that kind of talk ourselves.  From “Wow, I need to lay off the pasta” to “I’m never eating again”, shopping for clothes can sometimes turn us into a mess of self-depricating emotions.

When I started the Weight Watchers program, I can’t really say I was hung up on getting to a particular size-I was much more hung up on getting to a particular number on the scale.  Honestly, I’m not sure why, but it never really occurred to me that my clothes would soon be too big.  Now that I’ve reached the number I had in mind, I’ve had my work cut out for me in the closet.  After weeding through my clothes a few weeks ago, and creating piles and piles of clothes that might never fit again, I have to say, I started to feel some anxiety around the size issue.

There is a lot of conversation around whether or not sizes for American clothing have changed.  As we all know, sizes vary depending on the store, brand, cut, etc.  For instance, when I bought new pants this weekend, I ranged from a size in the single digits to a size in the double digits.  Everything fit just fine, it just fit differently.  But that’s not where the anxiety I’m talking about comes from.

I’ve found on recent shopping trips that my brain simply can’t get used to the fact that I need to take smaller sizes into the dressing room.  I’m still grabbing the same old sizes I wore when I was 17 pounds heavier. My mom and sister look at me like I’m crazy, lol.  In the dressing room, these clothes look ridiculous, but there is still a voice in the back of my mind whispering, “You might need these when you gain it all back.  Don’t waste your money on the ones that fit.”  I’ve found that I often have to be forced to go back to get the smaller sizes, or someone literally has to get it for me and make me try them on.

I know this is all a side effect of  disordered eating.  I simply cannot come to terms with the fact that I’m wearing sizes I never even dreamed I’d fit into.  My brain doesn’t seem to want to let me think that it’s real-even though I can see the results, there is still something telling me that I’ll never fit into clothing of a certain size.  Whether it’s the fear that this weight loss thing is just a phase or the pre-conceived notion that only “skinny people” wear these sizes, shopping for clothes has proven to be a totally different experience for me.  While I’m pleased with how things look, and I’m definitely pleased to see single digit sizes, the whole thing just causes so much anxiety for me that it’s hard to enjoy the results I’ve worked so hard for.

How have other people gotten used to losing weight and needing clothes?  Does the anxiety end, or is it something we just need to work that much harder to overcome?

I’ll admit it:  “Cellfire” as the name of a Web site automatically makes me think of companies spamming my phone.  Luckily, first impressions are not always correct!

If you shop at Shop Rite, Kroger’s, Safeway, Giant Eagle, Shop’nSave or Foodtown, you should be signed up for this site.  Jared and I first discovered it through Fios TV, and I think the concept is awesome.  By registering with the site, you are able to register your store loyalty cards and add coupons directly to the card.  No more coupon clipping or searching for coupons you’ve misplaced (Disclaimer:  I’m still a coupon clipper, and my system is so organized it would make your head spin.  But I digress).  Simply log on, add the coupons you want to your card, and the discounts will be automatically taken at checkout.

The site has a multitude of ways to keep consumers connected to the coupons they choose, whether it’s online, through your TV or through a mobile app.  The offers are for popular brands that you might shop for anyway, making it worth the time to sign up and browse.  The site also features a section that allows you to print coupons by installing an App onto your computer.

I’m desperate to use this site and all its features, but for some reason Jared and I are having a problem with our Shop Rite card, where the site doesn’t seem to recognize it.  We’ve noticed this before too in Shop Rite when they try to look us up, so I think the problem is on our end.  Once I’ve got it up and running properly, I’ll be sure to share any hints and tricks I’ve found when using the site!

Anyone else currently using this with success?  Or have you had trouble as well?

Yes, I know.  Fashion is not a usual topic for me.  I prefer hiding my body under layers of denim, or thick dress pants.  However, when you have a twin sister that starts dressing cooler than you do, you find yourself in need of stepping it up.  Oh, and losing 17 pounds and having no clothes that fit doesn’t help either when it comes to hiding behind my usuals.  But that’s for another post altogether.

After trying on a pair of my sisters LC Lauren Conrad leggings from Kohl’s, I knew I had to have them.  I’ll admit, the fabric is a bit thin, and I’m still getting used to wearing something so form fitting, so I’m struggling a bit with being self-conscious about it.  However, with a long tunic-style top covering all the areas I want covered (butt, thighs) I could see these leggings become a staple in my weekend/going out wardrobe.  Oh, and it got the mom stamp of approval, instead of a “hmmm, I don’t know about those.”  🙂

On Saturday, I got 2 pairs for only $9.99 each.  Online they are about $2 more, however, they are still a great deal.  While I have definitely been known to say that leggings should not be worn by people of “my size”,  the size of this particular pair is comfortable for those of us with larger lower bodies; most form-fitting items like this only serve to remind me of my big hips and thighs, but these do a pretty good job covering without making you feel like you’re totally exposed.  I’ve paired mine with a mock layer top very similar to this one.  The length of the top really seems to help balance it out.

While I’m certainly no shopping expert, these seemed like a pretty great deal, and are super comfortable to wear.  Anyone else find a great pair of leggings recently?  What do you pair yours with?

Just when I think I’ve been pushing myself to the limits when it comes to working out, I find a new DVD that makes me wonder if I’m ever really working hard at all.

Similar to the HiiT video, Cathe’s Cardio Core Circuit incorporates a lot of plyometric movement that has your heart pumping within the first few minutes.  The DVD is set up into 5 intense little rounds.  When I first started, for some reason I thought it was 7 rounds, and I honestly didn’t know how I’d get through them.  There are 3 cardio drills that are done for 30 seconds each, and then repeated.  After that, there is a small session of intense core work.

Regarding the cardio, there is a LOT of jumping and bouncing around.  Honestly, if you have any kind of lower body injury, such as knee or ankle pain, I really would not recommend this workout.  Knowing you only have to do each move twice and then you move on helps to keep you motivated, however, it’s definitely not for beginners.  There were a few points where I had to stop just to try to get my breathing back on track.  I’ve never found myself wishing for jump squats, but to be honest, those were a welcome break after some of the other moves!

The core moves are very advanced.  I’m sure I’ll work up to them, but Cathe does a lot of squat thrusts and push up type things that have always been very hard for me.  She does provide some modifications, though, and those will have to do for now!

This is not the kind of video that I could do more than once or twice a week.  While it’s most definitely a FABULOUS cardio option, I was very sore in my legs the next day and even the day after that.  Make sure you bring a lot of energy to this one…you’ll need it!  While it’s certainly not impossible to the point where I’d need to turn it off, it’s a true challenge, but the rewards outweigh the pain 🙂

How many times can a girl possibly talk about Jackie Warner?  A lot, I tell you, because I just keep discovering quick, great workouts that really push me to my limits.

My boss was yet again kind enough to lend me Jackie’s Xtreme Timesaver Training DVD.  You may recall my recent lust over Fitness Magazine’s round-up of the best workout DVDs of 2011?  This one made the list in the “Ultimate Quickie Makeover” category.  While this is only a 30 minute workout, since it involves full body weight training moves, you won’t really be wishing for more when that 30 minutes is up!

After I first did this workout, my legs were shaking when I was done.  Like, shaking so bad I could hardly stand up.  Since Jackie works your upper and lower body simultaneously, there is a LOT of static holding for the lower body.  Some examples include holding a runner’s lunge while doing rear delt flys and holding a sumo squat while curling.  Each move is done for one minute per side (where applicable) and I do have to admit that some of those holds are extremely painful to hold.

Thankfully, as with most Jackie workouts, there are beginner modifications.  Even though I’m not a beginner, I sometimes still modify part of the movement.  The full beginner modification does not use weights at all, and usually drops to a knee, or doesn’t hold as deep.  For the runners lunge hold, I do end up dropping to a knee about halfway through, although for some reason I can hold almost for the full minute on my right side.

From a weight perspective, I will be the first to admit that I have a weak upper body and I feel the burn there before I feel it anywhere else.  Since you’re doing this moves rather quickly for a minute, I’m still only rocking 3 pound weights. On a similar note, Jackie is a huge fan of working the shoulders, and my shoulders are usually in a good kind of pain for a day or so after this workout.  I also feel it in my glutes pretty quickly as well.

My favorite move is the last one, where you’re leaning over and doing a shoulder raise, working both your obliques as well as your shoulders.  Feels fabulous, and I have to say I’m starting to notice some awesome oblique definition as well.  Some other great ones are the curtsy squat + punch combination and the bicep curls while lifting the leg up and down off the ground.

Although this is a strength training DVD, there are a lot of face paced moves in here that do get your heart rate up and leave you a bit breathless.  The whole point of the DVD is to maximize your workout in only 30 minutes, and the combination of strength moves and just overall movement makes that easy to do.

Check out a short preview below, and good luck!

I’ve written in the past about our visits to some Somerville, NJ restaurants.  For those of you not in the area, Somerville is the county seat of Somerset County, and isn’t too far from our house in Martinsville.  Every time we drive through Somerville, I’m always charmed a bit by the old-school downtown feel.  However, as Main Street America as we know it is quickly fading away, and I love when towns do all they can to help draw people into the local feel of our downtowns.

Find Somerville is a great Web site that takes you through everything Somerville has to offer, from restaurants to shopping to nearby attractions.  The restaurant search is pretty thorough, listing everything from Pizza Hut to their upscale restaurants like Il Pomodoro.  Jared and I are looking for someplace to go tonight, and this list will certainly make that choice easy!

The Find Shopping search works the same way, listing the many shopping options Somerville offers.  Somerville is a great spot to try if you like antiques, as each street seems to offer a plethora of stores that deal in antiques.  A small savings section clues you in to ways you can save at restaurants and stores alike.

While Somerville seems to have a bit of a ways to go as they revitalize their downtown and try to fill empty lots, I applaud the efforts they are making through this Web site.  A great resource for those in Somerset County and beyond!

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’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!

I’ll be the first to admit it-holiday shopping for four families is hard.  While we have created some new Secret Santa traditions with most sides of our families, there are still people that stump me every year-including my husband!  I’ve consulted gift guide after gift guide, and I never find the suggestions to be particularly relevant.

This year, Shop Smart had a list of gifts as well as Web sites with unique gift ideas.  Yet again desperate for new ideas, I went straight to the Web to see what was worth it.  Uncommon Goods proved itself to be my top choice.

Uncommon Goods is exactly what it says it is-a site that has a plethora of unique gifts and products.  Considering most of our shopping these days is for adults that don’t really need much, I like to play the unique part up as much as possible.  However, sometimes it’s hard to find unique gifts that are practical and not totally off beat.  Uncommon Goods marries unique and practical very nicely.  Even better is the fact that they feature a number of handmade goods and keep the environment in mind with all of their production decisions.  Plus, a portion of each order is donated to a charity that you get to choose upon check out.

While I can’t reveal exactly who we shopped for on this site quite yet, I can say that the selection was absolutely perfect for this person’s taste.  Checkout was simple, and the best part was the timely delivery.  We chose the lowest option since we didn’t need it right away.  We ordered on Friday the 17th and our order arrived on Monday the 20th.   Pretty awesome!

The structure of Uncommon Goods makes it easy to find whatever you may be looking for last minute or beyond the holidays.  I have to admit, I thought the prices would be outrageous since some of the products are hand made, but the prices are extremely reasonable.  You can find some great gifts for under $25 by sorting by price.

Happy Shopping!

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