Giveaway Wednesday’s Hawaiian Adventure

It really is this stunning all the time!  View from Wailea on Maui.
It really is this stunning all the time! View from Wailea on Maui.
Yup, I painted that with Ms. BakeNBurn! Aren't I talented? It's easy when someone tells you exactly how to do it...
Yup, I painted that with Ms. BakeNBurn! Aren’t I talented? It’s easy when someone tells you exactly how to do it…

Anyone who knows me knows my deep, undying love for all things Hawai’i. Sometimes at work when I am in need of a pick-me-up, I listen to “The Descendants” soundtrack (which I may or may not be doing this very moment…) and stare at my painting of Diamond Head. There’s only one other place I would want to live even more than Colorado (although it comes with its own set of constraints), and that is Hawai’i. Preferably Maui, although I could handle Oahu too, if I must! The hubs and I got married in June 2011, and 2 weeks later we moved to Boulder, Colorado. Because of the move and the hubby starting his MBA at CU Boulder, we weren’t able to take our honeymoon until one year later. For our 1st anniversary, we hopped on a direct flight from Denver to Maui (you can fly direct from here – how amazing!) and spent an amazing week in Paradise. If I had the option and hadn’t started a brand new job 2 weeks prior, I would have stayed.

Any time I see a chance to win a trip to Hawai’i, I immediately sign up. When it’s combined with World Market, I jump at the chance! After moving into our

Sunset at Mama's Fish House in Paia, Maui.
Sunset at Mama’s Fish House in Paia, Maui.

home south of Denver almost a year ago, I had a lot more space to work with, which meant a TON more decorating to do. #bighouseproblems With that in mind, I knew I wanted a few cute pieces that wouldn’t break the bank, and if I fell out of love with them, could be easily and shamelessly replaced. I felt like I went to World Market 2 times a month and left with far more than I ever anticipated. Although I mostly gravitated towards their decorative items, I did purchase a side table which is incredibly adorable.  It gets an A+ in my book for cute, stylish, and reasonably priced!

World Market has a new sweepstakes out for a 6 day trip for two to Hawai’i. Although geared towards moms, I figure I am a puppy mom, so that should count. I am totally celebrating mother’s day this year, so there. After all, I do call my dog Ali’i Kihuahua (aka “King Chihuahua” in Hawaiian… although I totally made up the word for chihuahua, but linguistically it does fit their language patterns!), so this prize really is meant for me.  The Hilton Waikoloa Village resides on the big island, properly named Hawai’i, but is an easy plane ride to any of the surrounding islands. I have visited the big island once, and toured the amazing lava fields. There really is nothing quite like it. If you’ve never been to Hawai’i and have always wanted to go, or even if you have been a hundred times, I think it is truly one of the US’ greatest treasures. Given its rich Polynesian history and laid-back lifestyle, it’s impossible not to relax when you’re there. Just send me a fresh lei if you win! Pomaika`i!

The Sweeter Side of Giveaway Wednesday

On the inside, I am secretly a chubby little kid.  I love treats, the sweeter the better!  This is probably why I never purchase snack food to keep at home.  At first I would want to devour it all, and later I would totally forget I bought it.  Not a good use of calories or money.  The one thing that I do love, and always keep in my freezer, is Cheryl’s Buttercream Cookies.  My mother-in-law, such a dear, sweet woman, introduced these to me shortly after Robbie and I moved in together while still in Maryland.  I’ve been in love ever since.

Although not a great contributor towards health benefits, Cheryl’s cookies are always delightful and delicious.  The texture is perfect and the frosting is sublime.  The best part is a trick that the hubs showed me.  Freeze the cookies shortly after getting them (if you have more than you could should consume in one or two days), and when you want to pull one out as a snack, place them on a plate or paper towel, stick them in the microwave, and heat for about 15 seconds.  It warms them up just enough but maintains the consistency.  It’s the perfect treat (and I mean treat, not everyday snack)!

I may or may not keep a Cheryl's cookie at my desk... You never know when you might need one!
I may or may not keep a Cheryl’s cookie at my desk… You never know when you might need one!

Every Friday Cheryl’s has a weekly cookie giveaway.  Check out their Facebook page tab labeled Free Cookie Friday for more information, but even if you don’t win one, I recommend sending yourself a little $5 box of cookie love.  You get a cookie and a coupon, and no one needs to know that you are your very own secret admirer.  Eat up!  Num num num…

Shoe Therapy and Wednesday Giveaway

I hate feet.  I hate my feet and I hate other people’s feet.  I have felt this way nearly all of my life.  It wasn’t until the past few years that I realized pedicures aren’t terrifying.  It could explain why I am so devoted to shoes.  I won’t even attempt to count how many shoes I own… it would be astonishing even to me.  Growing up, however, I tormented my feet with inappropriate shoes.  It wasn’t until I moved to Colorado, quickly followed by my dear friend Tessa from back east, that I realized I needed shoe intervention.

Tessa was working part-time for Clarks in Colorado Springs.  Every time I went to visit her I met her at the shop, and always managed to leave with something in hand.  I would get home and think, “Self, why were you wearing such horrendously ill-supported and ill-fitting shoes before?  Time to purge!”  From then on, Clarks and a few other select brands are my go-to’s.  I rarely consider other shoes because I know how incredible my feet feel in Clarks.

I know what you’re thinking… “Isn’t Clarks a ‘comfort shoe’ brand?  Aren’t they… dare I say it, unattractive?”  Well the answer is no.  Granted I am selective in the styles I purchase (I always steer clear of the comfort walking sandals of our older generations), but there are so many cute options!  My favorite oxfords (both heeled and men’s style) have come from Clarks.  I adore their wedges all summer long.  I am not sure if I could have survived this winter without their meticulously crafted boots and wedge booties.  Even better, everything is so incredibly comfortable, with ample arch support and cushioning, and lasts.

Um, hello snake print wood heel wedges! LOVE them and so versatile!
Um, hello snake print wood heel wedges! LOVE them and so versatile!

The icing on top of this very large cake is their sock policy.  Sounds strange, I know, but it’s what keeps me and the hubs coming back (oh yeah, I have converted him too, as well as some of my coworkers…).  Buy a pair of socks from Clarks, and you can return them when they’re worn out and get a new pair, wait for it, for FREE, and even better, for LIFE!!  Incredible, isn’t it?

So on that note, now that I have converted everyone to happy footwear heaven, you’ll definitely want to check out the Clarks Soho Chic Sweepstakes styled by Lucky Magazine!  You could win a trip to NYC to shop and strut your stylish stuff.  You can get a customized shopping trip tailored to your personal style courtesy of a Lucky style expert, along with airfare, hotel accommodations, and $2,000 to shop ‘til you drop!  And Lucky magazine will also magically appear in your mailbox for a year, so style and read on!  All I know is that if this shopping trip includes shoes, I so want to win.  Cinderella, after all, is proof that a pair of shoes can change your life.  Words to live by, ladies, words to live by.

 Carousel_SlideSweeps

Parisian Getaway Giveaway

Bonjour!  C’est Mercredi!  Some have described me as fancy.  This is a word that I try to embody in all aspects of my life.  It’s not that I don’t love the occasional Saturday spent in yoga pants, but on a whole, I live life to its most fabulous potential.  With this attitude, I often stick out in casual Colorado.  Shortly after starting my new job at the University of Colorado Denver, one of my coworkers hit the nail on the head.  I am a verified Francophile.  This was one of the greatest compliments I could have received.  I hadn’t even told him about my collection of berets yet!

Enjoying a beautiful day outside the Louvre Museum.
Enjoying a beautiful day outside the Louvre Museum.

After my freshman year of college, before transferring to the University of Maryland, my family went on a trip to France and Germany.  We spent the majority of our trip in Paris, and I could have remained there forever if given the choice.  The charm and romance of Paris is present in every aspect of the city.  There’s an air of elegance, a deep enjoyment of life, and serves as a daydreamer’s paradise.  It’s a place to which I long to return, even though I don’t speak the language.  Needless to say, I admire the French culture, fashion, food, and lifestyle.  Julia Child’s experience as portrayed through Julie and Julia, and my current book of the moment The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry both depict the delicacies and intricacies of the art of French cooking.  My favorite movie growing up, French Kiss, showcased a comical storyline of a woman’s long awaited dream of going to Paris interrupted by a fight to regain who she thought was the love of her life.  All of these stories and experiences have built up this French philosophy in my mind, and I will ever more be entranced.

My absolute favorite shot of the Eiffel Tower.
My absolute favorite shot of the Eiffel Tower.

White House Black Market has always been one of those stores I wander past in malls and shopping centers, and occasionally enter.  I typically find items I like, and their pieces can be easily interwoven into my wardrobe.  When I learned of their Passport to Paris giveaway, I definitely started paying more attention.  I emulate a French flair for living, and a free trip would simply be icing on top of my Parisian style cake.  So I wish you good luck, and happy travels.  Maybe we’ll meet in Paris one day!

Year of Sperrys Sweepstakes

It wouldn’t be a Wednesday without a giveaway, now would it?  Although I am a Colorado convert, I have not lost my preppy ways altogether.  I am currently donning a set of pearls, and never shy away from a chance to combine red and blue in honor of all things nautical.  My favorite prepster items and absolutely staple in my wardrobe, however, is a perfect pair of preppy Sperry Top Sider boat shoes.  Would any East Coast prep be complete without at least one pair?  Absolutely not.  It’s a right of preppy passage.

My dear friend Melissa and I sport our colorful Sperrys!  Tres cute, no?
My dear friend Melissa and I sport our colorful Sperrys! Tres cute, no?

Having lived a mere 30 minutes from Annapolis, Maryland (aka mecca of preppy), boat shoes were the natural footwear selection.  Excellent in rain and sunny weather alike, made for the deck of a speed or sail boat, and simultaneously sturdy and lightweight, it is the all-around go-to shoe.  So when I heard Sperry Top Sider has a Year of Sperrys sweepstakes, I nearly swooned.  I may or may not already own a dozen pairs already… including flats and sandals people, I am not that crazy!  Regardless, a year’s worth of my all-time favorite shoe brand is too hard to pass up.  The sweepstakes ends on Friday, February 14th, so time’s a tickin’.  All I ask is that if you win, can I have one pair?  Just one?  A baker’s dozen would be ideal for my shoe collection…

2014 could be your year of Sperrys!
2014 could be your year of Sperrys!

Cold Day Giveaway and a Frozen Recipe

It seems like an odd day to post about smoothies, with it being all of -5º in Denver right now, but I like to skirt the edge of reasonable.  After all, it’s Giveaway Wednesday, and how can I live up to my one week tradition if I flake out now?  Don’t you feel better about it?  I know I do.

Alright, now that we have the pleasantries out of the way, let’s talk smoothies.  I love them.  I probably love them more than is normal.  I mean, it’s really just things I could eat normally blended together.  I don’t exactly require foods in liquid form at this point in my life, but I find something so terribly satisfying about it.  I think I may also be in love with my blender, but that’s a different matter altogether.   A friend of mine in high school told me about this phenomenal smoothie shop called Jamba Juice, a true novelty on the east coast.  I think at the time there were only 2 stores along the Atlantic seaboard.  One was located in Washington D.C. at George Washington University (which closed before I was ever able to partake) and the other was in Times Square.  Neither were actually accessible from rural southern Maryland.  So when my folks took me on a trip to Lake Tahoe the summer before starting college, I immediately searched to see if a Jamba Juice would be located there.  I was in luck.  It was across the street from our hotel.

My first taste of Jamba Juice was better than I could have imagined.  I had grown up with Smoothie King and Orange Julius.  No comparison whatsoever.  Rather than chalky and sickly sweet, their smoothies tasted like – shocking, I know – blended fruit.  Amazing!  I am fairly certain I had at least one every day for my week long stay in Tahoe.  Every time the hubs and I would visit Denver prior to moving here, I longed for that Jamba Juice in DIA, terminal C (that’s why I always convinced him to fly United… what can I say, I am easy to please).  It was one of the highlights of our trips.

Jamba Juice is a company I can stand behind.  Fresh ingredients, consistent taste, and they don’t skimp.  It is a franchise that supports its communities, contributes to healthy initiatives, and always manages to put a smile on my face and happiness in my tummy.  I’ve never had a bad Jamba Juice experience.  Now through February 17th, Jamba Juice has a healthy habits kickstart sweepstakes.  Every day you can play their Kickstart Game with a chance to win a grand prize trip for two to Hawai’i (who wouldn’t be happy about that?) and daily prizes of a Wii Fit U game bundle and Wii Fit U systems.  It’s a company that really does promote a healthy and happy lifestyle, and that’s one worth waiting in line for.  If you win the trip to Hawai’i, take me with you!

One of the reasons I have fallen more in love with smoothies is actually due to running.  Finding ways to maintain fuel throughout a run, especially over 4 or 5 miles, is a challenge for me.  Running gives me the munchies!  The worst feeling is being hungry shortly after starting a run.  So I started making my own smoothies to keep me full, but not sluggish, during the run, and give me a great boost afterwards.  I always start with my all-fruit smoothie as a base and add to it from there.  Depending on what I need, I adjust it.  This recipe is also a great way to clean out the fridge and use up leftover fruit and veggies.

Layer the fruit into the blender first, starting with the harder fruits on the bottom.
Layer the fruit into the blender first, starting with the harder fruits on the bottom.

Here’s my base (which is Rocco puppy approved):

  • One medium apple, skin on, chopped into one inch pieces
  • 5 medium strawberries, stems removed, cut in half
  • A handful each of blueberries, blackberries and raspberries*
  • One banana cut/broken off into one inch pieces
  • Any other fruit that sounds good to you or is in season! (Peaches, mangos, melon, etc.)
  • One cup of ice (*substitute ice with frozen raspberries if desired)
Add the ice last and blend to your heart's content!
Add the ice last and blend to your heart’s content!

Depending on your blender and its capabilities, you may need to cut smaller pieces or add a liquid.  For a liquid base that adds something different, I recommend Guava juice.  It’s tropical without being overpowering.  You can find Guava juice at any Whole Foods, and sometimes in cans at your local grocery store.  I recommend Ceres as their product is a more pure form of the juice (also, mixed with Champagne, Guava-mosas are possibly the best Sunday brunch cocktail ever invented).  Don’t add more than 2 tablespoons or it could be too liquidy.  With this base, you can add other fruits, as mentioned, a handful of spinach or kale, chia seeds, a healthy spoonful of non-fat plain Greek yogurt, etc.  If it doesn’t satisfy your sweetness quotient, add a touch of honey or agave to taste.  Blend it all together, and enjoy!  Add a fun colored straw for added pizzazz.

This was my present to myself upon departing Hawai'i... I do love myself some guava nectar!
This was my present to myself upon departing Hawai’i… I do love myself some guava nectar!

This smoothie is perfect for pre- and post-workout.  I love making this every weekend before I head out for my run, and can’t wait to have more when I return.  It makes enough for 2 glasses (approximately two 10 oz. servings).  I swear by it.  So this weekend when you’re seeking a delicious treat and workout booster, mix a little smoothie concoction and raise a glass to me!  Cheers!

Asics The Gear for The Year Sweepstakes

So I realized in my early days of running, as in last year, that footwear is the single most important thing you can do to ensure successful, safe, and comfortable running and training.  Clothing matters, but the shoe is king.  Which is perfect because I LOVE shoe shopping.  So a friend of mine recommended Asics and that has been primarily the brand I have gone to ever since.  I have narrow feet and ankles, but I need a wider toe box.  I’ve grown up having issues with my feet, so finding a shoe that fits perfectly, provides lasting support, and doesn’t cause pain is a pretty phenomenal feeling.  I ran my first race in Asics and I am so grateful I did!

Look at me go in my schnazzy shoes!
Look at me go in my schnazzy shoes!

If you are in any way considering a new brand, they are one I respect, they have quality items, and the fit and feel are consistently good.  So now you’re in luck, and you can thank me when you win, because Asics is having their Gear for the Year Sweepstakes.  $5000 worth of Asics gear could be yours!  Enter daily through March 31st!  I love spreading the word about deals and sweepstakes (what can I say, I love getting a lot for, well, nothing, but at least very little), so be prepared.

Giveaway Wednesday has a nice ring to it… too bad I don’t have anything to giveaway!