Category Archives: sponsored

Conquering My Closet with Wayfair

As part of my New Year decluttering—and encouraged by Wayfair—I decided to tackle my bedroom closet.

Screen shot 2015-02-04 at 10.41.46 AM

We have two closets in our bedroom. My husband gets the bigger one (his work clothes need hangers, whereas I live in running clothes, basic dresses, or jeans), and mine is also the front hall coat closet. As in, it is a pass-through.

My side.

My side.

Ugh.

Ugh.

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Seriously grim.

 

The front hall closet side of my closet.

The front hall closet side of my closet.

Here’s the problem, though, when it comes to closet organizing solutions: Many are built-in or otherwise attach to the walls. We rent our apartment. Not only do I not want to put a lot of holes in the walls, I don’t want to buy something so space-specific that I might have to leave it behind when we move.

What I need, in my closet, is a little hanging space but mostly some shelving for running gear, backpacks and duffles, sweaters, and so on.

I was smitten with a steel organizer that would perfectly meet my needs. It met my freestanding requirement. It combined a hanger bar with shelving. Perfect!

Seville-Classics-UltraZinc-18-Deep-Heavy-Duty-Mobile-Steel-Wire-Closet-Organizer

This is so calming to look at, isn’t it?

I also considered this other version of a self-standing closet but decided it didn’t meet my shelving requirements.

Whitmor-Inc-Double-Rod-Closet

I ordered that first steel organizer. Of course, after I ordered it, it occurred to me to double-check the measurements. Oops! I canceled the order and returned to browsing (smaller) closet storage solutions.

I usually don’t like hanging organizers (so-called sweater organizers) because they’re not solid and often not big enough for my needs.

But then I found this one, with bamboo shelvesScreen shot 2015-02-04 at 10.51.07 AM

That would solve part of the problem, but I still needed to deal with the jumble of backpacks, etc., on the floor.

While not my top choice, I found a steel shelf that I thought would do the job.

Whitmor-Inc-Supreme-Wide-36-H-3-Shelf-Shelving-Unit-Starter

‘Twas time to empty the closet  and reorganize it.

It’s not perfect. The shelf is too wide. It fits, but it would mean I could only hang shirts, nothing long. I ended up turning it sideways so that it spans both my closet and the front hall closet. It’s better that way.

Ooh, I can see floor!

Ooh, I can see floor! (front-hall side)

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My side. Better, right? I can see floor instead of a jumble of crap!

It’s a start, in any case. I’d really like a closet with built-in shelves, but this will do for now. Getting the shelving unit in really helped. It’s nice to be able to organize stuff.

Thanks, Wayfair!


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great American Bulb Swap: Trade In Your Old Light Bulbs for LED Bulbs #spon

What kind of light bulbs do you use? I know this is a personal question. We tried using the CFL bulbs, which seemed great until one breaks. Then it’s a total EPA-advised mercury vapor clean-up. Ugh. But we needed to change from incandescents. 

Enter the LED bulb.

Cree LED Bulbs last up to 22 years (that’s potentially 5 presidents from now!). Just imagine all the money you’ll save on energy bills and fewer replacement bulbs. Cree LED Bulbs are also mercury-free and provide superior light quality.

Now’s your chance to swap out your old bulbs for the new LED bulbs! I know this is a busy weekend for many, what with pre-Thanksgiving prep and all the holiday events (what? Since when do Christmas-related performances start before Thanksgiving? but I digress). If you’re going to be in downtown Boston anyway for some of the fun at the Wang or something, why not stop by Downtown Crossing to trade in any old any CFL or incandescent bulb and trade it for a New Cree® LED Bulb for free?

This weekend, the Great American Bulb Swap hosted by Cree LED Bulbs will take place at Readers Park in Downtown Crossing.  Cree is unveiling the New Cree LED bulb, which costs only $7.97 at The Home Depot, is shatter-proof and lasts up to 22 years—AND, is giving away over 15,000 bulbs to event visitors. The New Cree LED Bulb is up to 85 percent more energy efficient compared to energy-hogging incandescent bulbs – and it pays for itself in a year or less!

Where: Readers Park in Downtown Crossing, Boston, MA (corner of Washington & School Streets, right in front of a large Walgreens)

When:  This weekend, Friday through Sunday

  • 11:00 AM- 2:00 PM, Friday, November 21st
  • 9:00 AM- 5:00 PM, Saturday-Sunday, November 22nd and 23rd

  

[Disclosure: This is a compensated post. All opinions are my own.]

How Do YOU Wash Dishes? Cascade Platinum (sponsored)

We live in a fairly un-updated apartment. Our rent is way below market, so we don’t ask our landlords for much. When our dishwasher failed, of course, we requested a new one, because 1) I’d gotten used to it and 2) if we weren’t going to have a functional dishwasher in that space, then give me some functional cabinets instead! (The landlord replaced it with a slightly used one, I believe.)

[Oh, DISCLOSURE: Here’s where I need to mention that “I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Cascade. I received a product sample to facilitate my review and a promotional item as a thank you for participating.” Plus, my dishes are clean, and so is my dishwasher!]

Before I moved into this apartment with my then-boyfriend, now-husband, I hadn’t had a dishwasher my entire adult life. Even for someone who likes to cook as much as I do, that’s not a big deal. I always hand-washed my dishes and didn’t mind it. And I have friends who throw elaborate annual holiday dinner parties for 26 guests, and they don’t have a dishwasher; they have a system involving their bathtub and half of the next day. Impressive, right?

But now I have a dishwasher, and two children, and multiple snacks, and all the meals, etc. And sippy cups. Oh, the sippy cups. Or straw cups, these days. In any case, a million-and-a-half cups and snack containers and bowls and plates and big mixing bowls and cutting boards and knives and serving spoons and pots and skillets to wash…every single day.

I really appreciate having a dishwasher, even if it isn’t a brand-new one. And I was happy to get the chance to review the Cascade Platinum Pacs. We normally use either a powder or liquid, having to put it into both compartments.

shinycascadeproduct

The Cascade Platinum Pacs? So easy. You just throw one into the main wash compartment, close the lid, and go! Plus I do notice that our dishwasher seems to be a lot cleaner and our dishes shinier. Sometimes I post food pictures on my blog, and I’m not the world’s best food photographer, so shiny dishes can only help, right? I mean, who isn’t photographing their meals these days?

So easy!

So easy!

Cascade has a partnership with Gail Simmons, the Top Chef judge and editor of Food+Wine magazine. She knows that it’s not just the tasty food that counts in this world of food-sharing social media; presentation counts, too. Dishes sparkle; flatware shines; glass have no spots, of course! You can find some beautiful food photos over at A Beautiful Bite; she has a thing for old Pyrex and a knack for staging. I’m telling you, food blogging really is about the photos!

If you’re new to food presentation, Simmons suggests this:

The easiest recipes pop with unexpected, gourmet presentations.  Drizzle bright sauces on sparkling white plates or layer desserts in crystal-clean glassware. Keep your presentation sparkling with Cascade Platinum, which keeps dishes perfect for anytime entertaining and impromptu guests.

Thankfully, we don’t have an “impromptu guest” thing most of the time, because our home goes from tidy to trashed in very little time, thanks to my darling children and their active selves. But when we do, I know my dishes look good.

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I will say that though Cascade Platinum Pacs were pretty powerful in their cleaning action, there were a couple of things that really did need a scrub before going into the dishwasher. Cooked egg on a metal spatula, for example. Or a spoon with—was that peanut butter??—on it. But just that one spoon. We handle a lot of peanut butter around here, and it normally comes off just fine. I don’t know what on that spoon was so resistant to the chelants and other cleaners in the Platinum Pacs.

Want to learn more? Check out the Cascade Facebook page. You can also enter a contest, Cascade “My Platinum.” It’s a four-week Instagram contest which encourages fans to upload photos. Check out this week’s theme and show off how sparkly Cascade makes your dishes!

To enter, visit #MyPlatinum Instagram. Each week, two contestants will be selected to receive a brand new Whirlpool dishwasher. A grand prize winner will receive a Platinum kitchen makeover (oh, wow, can you imagine?).

To win, users have to both register and upload a photo with the #MyPlatinum hashtag and tag @MyCascade.  Participants that have not registered will be disqualified from winning.

Each week will have a 6-day entry period where Instagram users can enter the contest with their #MyPlatinum Photo. Cascade will choose two weekly winners and one final grand prize winner after the entry period has ended. Please be sure to include both the #MyPlatinum hashtag and tag @MyCascade in your entries to the contest!

Week 4: My Platinum Table (Entry Period: 6/24-6/30): Show us your sparkling tablescape for your most special celebrations!

Grand Prize Winner (Entry: 6/3-6/30)

 

 

Stepping into Health with Walgreens

Disclosure: I am a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias®  and Walgreens. All opinions are my own. #cbias #SocialFabric

I’ve been regaining my fitness after a few months of being injured and sluggish. I joined a gym and have resumed running, slowly but surely. I did overdo it last week (of course!); it was my first time back on the trail in a few months, and my first four-miler since I was able to start running again, and it felt great.

Naturally, the very next day I decided to run two more miles. In super-minimalist shoes, no less — the same kind that got me in trouble in the first place! I followed that up with another two miles later that same day (in regular running shoes, at least).

So, that’s how you can find yourself unable to run for a few days. Maybe a week. But there are other ways to stay fit. For example, I try to walk or bike the kids to school as often as possible. If I do this for both drop-off and pick-up, that’s three miles a day of extra walking or biking on top of gym time or running.

Considering how active I am, I was happy to participate in this Walgreens Steps With Balance Rewards opportunity. Like many drugstores and other stores, Walgreens has a rewards program for shoppers. They’ve taken it a step further, though, by giving customers extra rewards for healthy habits: weight management, fitness activities, setting fitness and health goals…even just walking a mile!

Signing up is pretty easy. You go to the Walgreens website, then click on Balance Rewards.

Step your way to an active lifestyle and earn Walgreens Balance Rewards. #BalanceRewards #cbias

Step your way to an active lifestyle and earn Walgreens Balance Rewards. #BalanceRewards #cbias

I went to Walgreen’s to check out items that might help me maintain my active lifestyle. If you’re counting steps (they do, after all, give points for every mile walked!), they have a selection of pedometers. In the store I went to, it was back under the Diabetes sign. They also sell a variety of scales. Check out my entire shopping experience on my Google+ album.

Me being me (and owning a Garmin running watch, which — while not actually counting my steps — tells me pace and distance and time and a number of other things, should I choose to use it for anything but running), I checked out snacks. How healthy and active can I be if I’m hungry? And I don’t eat junk food; nor do I tend to feed my kids junk food.

It was nice to find an array of healthy snacks at Walgreens: dried fruits, all kinds of nuts (raw, roasted, salted), trail mixes, and applesauce squeezies for the kids (actually, I usually shy away from squeezable fruits, but they can come in handy in a pinch! And they store better in the car or my bag than fresh fruit does). They also had popcorn and “healthy” chips.

othernuts

Walgreens has a great array of nuts. #BalanceRewards #cbias

And bars! I don’t normally eat bars, especially the processed kind (Zone, Balance) but I was hungry. I’m following a strict cleansing diet right now, so you might think a highly-processed bar wouldn’t be on my list of acceptable foods, but I grabbed a few anyway, for emergencies. I mean, I do get hungry, and sometimes fast fuel in the form of a bar is better than making unhealthy choices.

So now I have all the high-energy snacks I need to keep walking, running, and working out. And every time I log an activity in my Steps With Balance account (you can do this online really easily), I earn extra points.

It's really easy to log an activity to earn more points. #BalanceRewards #cbias

It’s really easy to log an activity to earn more points. #BalanceRewards #cbias

I didn’t manage to earn more points while I was actually shopping there, partly because I had my antsy two-year-old in tow and didn’t take enough time to browse the flier before hand or check the aisles more carefully while in the store. But for those of you more savvy than I, or more used to Walgreens — or those of you not silly enough to bring a toddler there around his nap time — you’ll do better than I did earning in-store points.

But for me, most of my points will be earned on my feet, I think. I mean, I’m always in motion anyway, so why not?

It's great to have fuel for before and after my run! #BalanceRewards #csbias

It’s great to have fuel for before and after my run! #BalanceRewards #csbias

If you are already active or want to move more, check out the Walgreens Steps With Balance Rewards to start earning points today.

You can also enter the Steps Up To Win Sweepstakes which has daily instant win prizes and a grand prize, a trip to The Biggest Loser resort of the winner’s choice (Chicago; Ivins, UT; Malibu; Niagra, NY). The sweepstakes start April 1 until May 31st. Official sweepstakes rules can be found here: http://shared02.plcontent.com/stepuptowin-pl1151/Content/OfficialRules.pdf?cdn=-424254979.

And don’t forget to check out the Collective Bias Aisle Share FUN page: http://www.aisleshare.com/fun/.

Taking the Nevella Sweetness To Go Challenge

I’m a sugar hound. That’s no secret to anyone that knows me, especially on Facebook (for some reason, I feel a real need to talk about my cookie habits on Facebook a lot).

That said, I’m also kind of a health nut. I like whole foods. Natural foods. Farm-grown foods. Food made from scratch.

So what happened when I was offered some sugar-free liquid sweeteners to try?

Read more about it here!