Wednesday, December 10, 2014

25 Books of Christmas

We have a wonderful free-cycle group in my local community where members of the community give away items that they no longer need and sometimes even hold giveaways for some great products. It's a great way to get rid of items that you no longer want or need and give to someone that could use it. I've been lucky enough to have given and received many great items on this site. It's always heartwarming to see others helps those in need and the kindness on the site makes me so happy to live in such a great and caring community.

Several weeks ago, a kind woman posted a giveaway on the site for a 25 Books of Christmas gift that included 25 children's books, basket, wrapping paper and tape to be used the 25 days preceding Christmas. The premise is to unwrap and read one book a day leading up to Christmas. It's a great way to promote reading with your children, grow your child's library and a great bonding experience daily. There were many, many people interested in offer so she picked a name from the long list of those interested. I WON! :) To say that I was excited is an understatement. Anyone that knows me well, knows that I'm a bookworm and I can only hope that our son follows the same path.

All the books and goodies to wrap it up!
Wrapped and ready to read! 
We've had a great time picking out a book each day and reading a new book. There have been some great ones, but so far Little Blue Truck is definitely a favorite. This is definitely a new tradition that I think that we'll be doing each year while our child(ren) are still young. I plan on making sure to pass along the random act of kindness next year and offering a similar gift to the group.

Do you have any holiday traditions that your family participates in or traditions that you're hoping to continue/start? 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Clarkston Back Roads Half Marathon and 10k Race Recap

A couple weeks ago, Ryan and I ran the Clarkston Back Roads Half Marathon & 10k and I'm so glad that we decided to do this race. It was a really chilly morning, but the gorgeous sites during the run were well worth the initial chill.

I had been looking forward to this race for awhile, but as the date approached I was reluctant since just the week before I took a really hard fall while running. The sidewalks where I run are in terrible shape and I caught my toe while running and super-manned right near a busy intersection. I jacked up my knee, hip and hands in the process, but I think my ego was hurt more than my body, as motorists stopped to see if I was ok. LOL. Anyways, I was definitely feeling the fall a few days later and it made me a bit nervous about running the 10k.
Thank goodness for running gloves! My hands would
have been destroyed without them!
The morning of the run was a chilly one, but it was a nice because this race has a later start (9:30), so it was beginning to warm up a bit and sun peeked out now and then as the race was beginning. I was shocked at how many half marathon runners there were. The start was a little confusing at first because it was difficult to hear what was going on, but after a few minutes everything was cleared up. I started in between the 9:00 and 10:00 pace, but wished that I had jumped up to a quicker corral. I think that I've been taking it too slow from the start during some races lately and it's hurting my time. I'm always afraid I'll push too hard and burn out before the end, but I think I need to push harder.

Staying warm pre-race!
Hubby pre-race! He sped ahead of me (he's faster than I)

The course was super hilly and gorgeous. We looped around the lake and at one point passed a bunch of horses that were galloping around and right near the runners. It was really a cool thing to see mid-race. As difficult as hills are, I love them during races and the challenge they provide. The course was a mix of cement path, dirt road and small trails. The runners were all great about getting over and letting runners pass and there were fabulous volunteers throughout! I was really impressed at how seriously they took runners safety and how well marked the race path was.

I felt pretty good until about the 3 mile marker and my knee started bugging me. I kept pushing through it and eventually the pain subsided some and then went away completely! I felt like the last few miles of the race passed pretty quickly, I was really happy with my time, especially battling a mild injury and for not train all that much (I got a little relaxed on the training after the Free Press Marathon). There was a fun after party with the Clarkston Union Mac n Cheese (the best in Southeast Michigan), MIP beer (which tasted great!), live music and small fires to warm up.  This is definitely a race that I'll be doing again and next time I'll likely try to do the half marathon. I really loved that it was a trail run and all the great and friendly runners that participated. I think that I'm starting to prefer trail races a bit more than road races now.

I was pretty happy with my pace and place for not being 100%. My husband, Ryan, finished 2nd in his age group! Mr. Speedy!

YUM! My favorite!
Finish line is in sight! I totally thought I was going
 to wipe out here since it was downhill!
Do you prefer trail run or road races? 
What type of races or running do you do more often?

Monday, December 1, 2014

Do you love trying new, fabulous products? Check out Influenster!!

I've always loved staying on top of trends and new products and thankfully there are so many great sites out there now that help connect you with growing products and companies. One of my favorite sites for this is Influenster!

Influenster is a large community of trendsetting consumers that share their opinions and thoughts in new products, power hitting social media users, and influential consumers. The site offers lots of interaction between other users and brands via Twitter chats, opportunities to try full-size products, contests and giveaways, and even discounts on items and services that you use. Basically, Influenster rewards you for your social media presence by giving you some really great opportunities to try and review new products.

Influenster calculates your Social Impact Score using different modes of social media, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Tumblr, Foursquare, LinkedIn, Google+, blogs and by inviting friends and family to the program. The higher your score, the higher your social impact. Connecting your accounts boosts your score and increases your chances for being included in programs.
Through Influenster I have received numerous VoxBoxes, which are one of my favorite things to get in the mail. I've had items from many large companies, ranging from health items, soap, hair care, baby items, makeup and nails items, foods, candy, drinks and so on. If you're into free,  new products I highly recommend checking out and signing up for Influenster. Sign up is quick and easy, along with participating in campaigns. They make it even easier to participate by having a simple to use app too (search for InfluensterApp)

Below are just a few of the VoxBoxes that I've received complimentary to test and/or review:

If you're interested in this program, follow the link below and sign up!

Sign up HERE!