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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?

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!

We all know how this goes.  Things are running smoothly with your diet and exercise plan-you’re losing weight, working out more than ever before, and just feeling fantastic.

Then Friday sneaks up on you.  One look at the weekend’s calendar, and you know trouble is looming.  After all, Happy Hour, followed by a dinner party followed by Sunday brunch with your in-laws can’t possibly be doing you any good.

If you’re anything like Jared and I, you typically spend an average of 3 waking hours at home over the course of any given weekend, making it hard to control what you’re eating.  After all, all of our social activities with friends simply can’t revolve around my dietary needs.  So, how do you strike a balance between losing weight and keeping up with an active social life?

Fitness Magazine recently ran an article called “Weekend-Proof Your Diet“.  Here are some of the main takeaways I took from reading this:

1.)  The more you drink, the more you munch. I’ve always known this to be true.  I mean, who doesn’t remember carrying pretzels in our bags in college to fend off the munchies?  The same holds true for an evening out with the girls, or simply drinks with my husband at a nice lounge.  My main goal on the weekends is to work toward enjoying a single glass of red or white wine without eating everything in sight or having a second round.

2.)  Stick to my guns. I’ve found that I’m embarassed to tell people that I’m on Weight Watchers.  Why?  Well, having suffered from some disordered eating, any time someone I’m dining with mentions they are on a diet, I instantly feel guilty for eating whatever it is I’m about to order.  The article recommended finding a partner in crime, who was following the same plan as you, or simply ordering first so that you’re not swayed by the decisions of others.  Self control plays a big role in this, and that’s something I need to focus on heavily over these next 6 weeks of weekend trips.

3.)  Plan Accordingly.  My survival strategy when I know we’re going to be heading off to a calorie fest, whether it’s a restaurant or a friend’s party, is to eat like a rabbit alll day, to allow myself the extra calories later.  I can’t say this ever works out well, though, because then I just end up over indulging because I’m hungry.  By sticking to my regular schedule, the article suggests that I’ll avoid arriving ravenous and over indulging on things that may not fit into my plan.

4.)  Share and indulge. When discussing Sunday brunch, the article mentions that it’s ok to order something that you really want, like chocolate chip pancakes, that the table can share.  By having a few bites, you satisfy your craving without giving in to a poor food choice.  That cupcake I may want to have?  As long as I don’t eat hte whole thing, it should satisfy my need for sweets.

How do you fend off temptation and stay healthy when you’re out of your routine?

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 read a lot in magazines and online about fitness and health.  I have my go-to sites, and Fitness Magazine‘s online information is quickly becoming a daily visit for me.

My sister started to read Fitness magazine a few weeks ago and was constantly telling me about the workouts she was finding, which she found to be really great.  The last thing I need right now is another magazine subscription, so she told me that most of the resources are online.  Fitness Magazine is owned by the same company that owns Better Homes and Gardens, so it turned out I already had a log-in!

My sister wasn’t kidding.  The workout suggestions are pretty great, and different from the usuals.  Fitness Magazine takes into account that a lot of people might not have equipment at home or a gym membership, and there are workouts that do not require a treadmill or any other equipment.  I think this is a great trend for fitness columns to move to.  While I do have a treadmill and weights, I don’t have an elliptical or stair climber, and it’s nice to see some variety that still gets the job done.

Another feature that I thought I had exhausted on other Web sites is the Healthy Recipes section.  I get a daily email that includes some great tips, with links to recipes and snack ideas.  I thought I had seen it all, but Fitness Magazine provides a new variety that is both reasonable and tasty.  While I’ve been unable to find a feature that lets me save them to my profile on the site, it’s just as easy to email them to myself.  (And store them in a folder labeled Cooking-yes, my personal inbox is THAT organized).

As I mentioned, I do subscribe to some of their daily emails that seem to integrate with other magazines under their fold (like Diabetic Living).  I typically delete a lot of the emails I get, but I’ve found myself clicking through on every link to at least browse what they have to say.

Of course Fitness Magazine also has a lot of features I haven’t delved into yet, like Communities and Videos.  Since I have so many options when it comes to videos on demand, I typically don’t turn on my computer to work out, but maybe down the road it would be worth trying.  Or, if you travel a lot, it’s a must!  I tend not to join Communities, but I’m sure they can be inspirational for those that like that sort of thing!

Just when I thought I’d seen it all, Fitness Magazine provides another great portal to inspire me with workout ideas, snack ideas, and more.  What’s more, Fitness Magazine is reasonable in their suggestions without bordering on unhealthy.  It’s great to see another magazine portraying positive ideas and thinking.

 

Comfort food diet?  How is that even possible?  I thought the same thing myself when I saw this book advertised in a Taste of Home magazine I subscribe to.  Since we already have enough cookbooks to cook one meal each day for the next two years out of each book, I hadn’t thought about buying it.  However, my aunt needed gift ideas for us, of which I had none, so this went on the list.

comfortfooddietThe Taste of Home Comfort Food Diet Cookbook is different from any cookbook I’ve ever looked through.  The beginning section provides meal plans, as well as healthy eating advice.  My favorite is a list of “free” foods, so to speak, or, foods you can eat without having to worry about calorie count.  The cookbook is then separated into breakfast, lunch, dinner, side dishes and desserts, with detailed meal planning guides and information about online resources.

I love the idea of someone telling me what to eat at each meal.  However, most plans often have foods that I don’t like as their main meals.  I’m not as picky as I used to be, but there are still things I just don’t like to eat.  And what’s the point of following a meal plan if I’m going to indulge later because I’m hungry?  This meal plan seems to have a nice variety of options, however, here comes gripe #2 with meal plans:  if you’re not working from home, how the heck are you supposed to prepare some of these things in the office?  All I have are a microwave and toaster oven at hand at the office, and some of these meals didn’t look like they could be prepared ahead of time and heated up the next day.  Oh well…

The best thing about this cookbook was how receptive Jared was to the recipes.  Usually, he looks through my low calorie diet cookbooks without interest.  When I gave him this cookbook, he picked 3 dinners out of it for this week alone!  So far, we’ve had Lime Chicken Tacos, which literally had 6 ingredients and sat in the crockpot all day, and the Balsamic Seasoned Steak.  The steak was full of flavor, however, I would have added a bit more lime juice to the tacos.  It could have been the size of my slow cooker, but I felt like the lime juice flavor was lost.

One thing to watch with the recipes is portion size.  The cookbook lists meals according to calorie count, however, just make sure you’re only having one serving in order to meet the calories listed.  Portion sizes are on the smallish side, so take that into account!

While I certainly have a lot of Taste of Home Cookbooks, this one will take priority right now in our meal planning due to the detailed nutritional information.  And, big bonus here, when I type the recipe name into Livestrong‘s My Plate calorie tracking app, it shows right up with the correct calorie and nutrition counts.  Taste of Home really wins big for that!  Happy cooking!

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!

I talk a lot about shopping online and getting great deals.  In fact, I would actually go so far as to say I’m borderline obsessed with searching for the best prices and coupons.  I have my standards that I’ve mentioned before, like Ebates and Overstock, however, as we begin to decorate a bit more in our new house, I’ve had to expand my horizons a bit to find exactly what I need.

ShopSmart magazine‘s October issue spoke right to me with their “6 New Ways to Save” article.  I was a bit surprised they didn’t mention cash back type sites, but the article was really focused primarily on getting the lowest price, not necessarily the best coupons.  Since I’m a former search engine junkie (and still think I put together a mean search term), I was interested in their first tip regarding using search engines to shop.  The winner out of the four sites they tested was PriceGrabber, a site I have admittedly never used.

In my continuing obsession to find the perfect scarf valances for our living room (because the ones I bought from Overstock just aren’t doing it for me), I decided to give PriceGrabber a try.  The site has a very simple layout, with a huge search box right at the top, making it easy to get started.  While a search for “288 inch scarf valance” only brought up two options I hadn’t already seen, they actually turned out to be exactly what I was looking for, for the right price.  Clicking on the product takes you right to the manufacturer’s Web site where you can continue to shop.

I can see myself becoming obsessed with this site.  PriceGrabber features a deal of the day, where you could save up to 55% or more (today’s deal is a volt impact driver…not super exciting, but a great price!).  When you register for an account, you have the ability save products as you browse.  I think I’d have to do a lot of shopping to make that useful, but still a nice feature for those of us with a poor memory.

For the coupon lover in us all, there is a section featuring merchant coupons.  The list is ridiculously extensive, today featuring 294 coupons.  With the ability to select a merchant from the drop down list, this is a great way to consolidate deals in one place without clicking around too much.

Overall, I can see why PriceGrabber was rated #1 by Shop Smart magazine for being a great place to start your search.  With community features, reviews, coupons, extensive shopping categories and quick search functionality, PriceGrabber could be the first and last place you need to go to start your online shopping engine.

Oh, and did I mention there’s an App for that?

I never thought I’d be writing a post praising the benefits of a television service.  For the amount of times I actually sit down and watch TV, it’s amazing I even know how to turn it on by myself.  Second, I never thought that the television would actually motivate me to work out.  And then we got Verizon Fios.

I’ll confess, I’m a cable girl through and through.  I wasn’t a huge fan of the satellite TV we had, and would have given anything to get Cablevision. However, as previously noted, considering I hardly ever turn the thing on, Jared is the TV service decision maker.  I’m officially a convert.

Fios, like many other services, offers a Free On Demand service that includes a plethora of workout videos from Exercise TV.  Not only that, but now that we actually have reliable, fast internet through Fios, I’m able to watch movies instantly through Netflix, including a ton of workout videos.  My life is officially better as a result.

For me, the number one thing that stops me from working out some nights is boredom-I’m tired of doing the same things.  My greatest motivator is having a new video that I’ve bought or rented from Netflix.  Now, with tons of these at my fingertips, I never have the excuse anymore that I’m bored with my workouts.

Although I’ve been a bit too busy with work and moving to try these yet, this week I’m hoping to get back on the workout bandwagon.  From time to time, I’ll be reviewing the OnDemand workouts to let you know which ones to use, and which ones to avoid.

Whoever thought that TV could be the one thing that actually makes you get off the couch and get moving?  A big old salute to technology is now in order….