The Art of Random Willy-Nillyness: June 2013
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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Nokia Lumia 928 takes my Windows 8 Mobile. Plus it has a great camera! #VZWBuzz

This year I upgraded my gadgets. I bought a new laptop and I now have a new Microsoft Surface tab. The upgrade was needed. The only thing about my upgrades was that I now had to start using Windows 8.

At first, I was a little iffy on Windows 8 but then I got it. I really enjoy it. Now my phone has not been upgraded this year. Until now. I recently received a Nokia Lumia to use. I do love my Droid 4 and I am not sure I will get rid of it just now but the Lumia offered a few nice features that I really liked.

The most important feature was the ability to have Windows 8 handy whenever I want it. The other thing I really loved about the Lumia was the display. This makes it easy for me to use the tiles and all the apps I can download.

The Carl Zeiss camera on the Lumia is probably one, if not, the best feature on the phone. I could not believe how clear the display was. While I use my current smartphone as a camera, I also have another digital camera that I use as well. I can definitely see myself using the Lumia as my only camera.

Because I travel a lot and take so many pictures for my blog, it would be handy to have on gadget that I use for that purpose. Right now I have to download pictures from my digital camera instead of just sending them to my computer.

There have been so many times that I come back from events or trips with terrible pictures because of the light not being sufficient. I cannot tell you how many times I have blurry pictures. The Lumia takes great photos even when there is low light. The video capability is great. The short video I took was so much better than the video on the my Flip camera.

There are cool features like the Cinemagraph. I needed a little more time to master this feature but it brings your pictures to life. You can add animation to your photos. It was wild. My favorite feature is the Creative Suite. You no longer need Instagram to make your pictures look cool. I find this great because I no longer have to log into an app to manipulate my photos.

I am excited to keep trying all the other features. Unlike my droid, this phone seems to have cooler apps and better features. Because it runs Windows 8, I can also now possibly sync my laptop apps to my phone.

I still need more time to discover the cool features on this phone. I just realized that the phone has a very cool service called HERE. Since we travel so much, this might be right up my alley.

So far, I like the Lumia. The fact that I can have a Windows phone is very appealing. Windows 8 has definitely made my life easier. The one feature I wish this phone did have was a keyboard. I am not sure I can ever give up my keyboard but this phone is steering me toward that.

Disclosure: As a member of the Verizon Wireless Lifestyle ProgramI received a sample product for review purposes. No other compensation was given and the opinions in this post are solely mine and are based on my experience with the product.

Friday, June 28, 2013

P&G Access Conference - Cincinnati, OH #accesspg

I am back from the P&G Access Conference. It was such a great event.

We were treated so well by the P&G team and the event offered so many great opportunities to not only learn more about P&G but to network with other bloggers. We also had some fun in between.

The first night Tide and Downy brands hosted a wonderful reception for us at the Contemporary Arts Center. It was a great location for an event. As an event planner, I love events in unique locations. The food and company were great. We also had a visit from Vanessa Lachey who is a P&G spokeswoman and lives in Cincinnati.

I have to say, she is beautiful in person. And she just had a baby last year and looks great. She was also very down to Earth and sweet. She made sure to stop by all the tables and speak to everyone.

The next day, we started with a little yoga session courtesy of Tampax. I haven't done yoga in eons and it showed. Holy cow, I am out of shape. But overall it was a lot of fun. We also learned about the new
technology Tampax is using. I won't go into too much detail but the new braid they have for the string helps protect from leakage. It is actually quite brilliant. What impressed me is that they have engineers who come up with this technology. Who knew?

After yoga, we had breakfast and then a little bit of downtime to get dressed and freshen up before our next session. We had a great session with JB Kropp from Twitter. He gave us an overview of what Twitter is up to and some great tips about social media. He also gave us some great info on Vine, an app I rarely use but have to start using more.

Our next adventure was walking down to the P&G Headquarters. Luckily, it was only 5 minutes from the hotel and it was nice to get out and walk. The P&G Headquarters is pretty impressive. It was actually quite exciting to be invited there.

We were taken upstairs where the best part of the trip took place. Top Chef winner, Stephanie Izard was going to give us a cooking demo and then make lunch for us. We first were given a little demonstration of the new Bounty Dura Towels. I have tried Bounty Dura Towels and loved them. They really are strong even when wet. So I was not surprised that the Bounty towels hold up even with weights weighing them down.

Lunch was fantastic. Stephanie made us chicken and eggplant pimento cheese tostadas. We also had salads and other goodies. I had to get my picture with Chef Izard because I am a food geek that way. She was very nice about it.

After lunch, we headed over to hear about the new Iams So Good food for dogs. Once again, I was surprised how much time and effort goes into developing these products. Iams So Good has no artificial preservatives, no dyes, no sugars. I loved that the one of the comments made from Eric Altom, Research and Development Department of Iams, say dogs are color-blind so why do they need dyed food. So true.

We also got to meet Pawl Griffin, VP of K9 Communications for Iams, Eukanub, InnovaPet, CalNatPet, and EVOPetFood. He was fantastic. He was very friendly and very hairy. Plus, he is a great spokesdog for the brands.

The next part of the conference was probably my favorite. We were allowed to go into the P&G Archives. What I loved about this part of the conference was that we were able to see how P&G products have changed throughout the years. I was also amazed at how many P&G products are out there. More surprising was that I have used a lot of P&G products throughout my life.

After the tour, we went back upstairs to have an afternoon snack. Then we were all treated to mini makeovers. We also had some great demos by Hairstylist David Reposar and Make-Up Guru Bruce Grayson. We were also all given a chance to do ourselves up with several P&G beauty products like Covergirl, Vidal Sasson, Pantene and Olay. The tips we received on how to beautify ourselves. It was great. I don't use a lot of make-up but it was nice to be able to learn how to easily apply eye liner and poof up my hair!

After our makeover session, we all headed back to hotel to freshen up for dinner. Dinner was at Jeff Ruby's Steakhouse and it was delicious. We all had a wonderful and leisurely dinner.

The next day, we all met for breakfast and then had a round table discussion lead by Danielle Smith. The subject was balancing blog and home. I loved the discussion because I was able to hear how other bloggers handle the work and how they balance their lives. It was a dynamic session.

Then it was over. But overall, this conference was great. I loved how well we were treated. I enjoyed all the sessions. I loved how we were given downtime before and after events and sessions. I liked how they incorporated the brands into sessions and made then relevant to bloggers. It was great to visit the P&G headquarters and learn more.

The 21C Museum Hotel was fantastic as well. If I ever go back to Cincinnati, I will definitely choose that hotel again. I will have a whole post with pictures from the hotel. Plus, I will add my usual Hotel Room video as well.

I want to thank P&G for hosting me at this event. I would say this trip made me a fan of P&G products but I was already a fan. If you know me, you know I cannot live without my Swiffer Wet Jet. I use Olay and Covergirl when I do use makeup. I love Downy and Tide products. And hubby does not use anything but Ivory soap.

Disclosure: I was invited to attend this all-expenses paid trip by P&G. Thoughts and opinions are 100% my own and are based on my experiences.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Cracker Jack celebrates 120 Years with 2 new flavors + GIVEAWAY!

When I was little, every Saturday morning my mother would give me and my sister a quarter. We were then allowed to walk down to the corner store in our neighborhood and use the quarter how we wanted. My sister would always buy chocolate. I, on the other hand, would mix it up.

One of my favorite treats was Cracker Jack. I loved the crunchiness of the popcorn and peanuts. I also loved how sweet it was. I also got a whole box full of goodness for a dime. But the best part of Cracker Jack was not only did I get a treat but I got a free gift.

I loved opening the box and finding the prize inside. I would always stick my greedy little fingers in the box and pull out the prize before I started eating. I would open it up and, regardless, of what it was I was thrilled. Then I had all that popcorn and peanuts to eat.

Now Cracker Jack snacks is offering enhanced prizes. The new stickers come with fun facts and digital codes that unlock surprises online through a free Cracker Jack-branded app featuring two nostalgic games (Baseball and Pinball).I am jealous.

As I got older, I quit my Cracker Jack obsession. But, I rediscovered it again when I started attending
Dodger games in my teens. I always grabbed a Dodger dog, Coke and Cracker Jack for dessert. Years later, I still love Cracker Jack. I don't eat that much of it but every once in a while, especially at the airport, I grab a bag!

I can't believe that Cracker Jack has been around for 120 years. In my case, I have eaten it for over 40 years. That's a long time. To celebrate the 120 years, Cracker Jack snacks has two new flavors!

The new flavors are Butter Toffee and Kettle Corn. I tried both. My favorite of the new flavors was the Butter Toffee because it was sweet and creamy. The Kettle Corn was good. But I have to say that the Original flavor is still my favorite. It will always hold a special place in my heart because it reminds me of my childhood and those Saturday morning with my sister.

Now you can create new memories with these new flavors. If you would like to win some of the new Cracker Jack brand flavors and, of course, the Original flavor you can! I have a 6 pack of the new flavors and the original flavor for one lucky reader. Just enter on the Rafflecopter widget below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: The Cracker Jack snack products were provided to me by Cracker Jack brand for my participation. No other compensation was given and the opinions in this post are solely mine and are based on my experience with the product. Sponsors are responsible for shipping prizes unless otherwise stated. I am not responsible if sponsors do not fulfill prize. Please allow 6-8 weeks for delivery of any prizes.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Meals Per Hours brings hope to areas impacted by Hurricane Sandy #sponsored #mealsperhour

Toyota has partnered with the Food Bank For New York City to feed the people who were impacted by Hurricane Sandy. The program called  Meals Per Hour, brought together a team from the Toyota Production System Support Center (TSSC) to brainstorm on how increase the meals per hour so more people could be fed.

By looking at the current system and then tweaking it, the Toyota team was able to bring up the numbers of meals made from 25 per hour to 450 an hour. That is fantastic! Because of this, they were able to provide 250,000 emergency meals to people in need. It proved that by taking time and trying to seek a better solution, you can make a huge impact.

I try to do this in my life as well. I know that by trying to work more efficiently, I can do more with my time. I used to work at a homeless shelter and we used to also feed the needy. Our organization actually had a restaurant in our office building where we would feed our clients. Unfortunately, it only held 50-60 at one given time.

When Hurricane Jeanne hit South Florida, we knew that we had to feed not only our current clients but anyone who came to our door for a hot meal. Our space was not sufficient so, as a staff, we brainstormed and realized that it would be more efficient to set up the buffet line outside under tents instead of trying to feed people from our restaurant. We set up double tables in a long row so we had two feeding stations instead of one.  By deciding to change the location of the food and making the feeding line more efficient, we fed double the people. Again, a small change made a huge impact.

I am proud to be able to talk to you about this program. I am a supporter of any company or organization that tries to create better circumstances for people in need. It is important for all of us to be aware that you can make a difference in people's lives just by donating money, donating your time or spreading awareness. Small gestures can make a huge difference.

During the Toyota effort, a documentary by Supermarché was made to show what changes Toyota made and why these changes matter. It is pretty fascinating. You need to watch it. Not only because of how interesting it is but because for each video view, Toyota will also donate one meal to Food Bank For New York City, up to 1,000,000 meals by July 19. See, even from the comfort on your own home, you can make a difference. So what are you waiting for? Hit play.

Follow the participants on Twitter to keep updated on the Meals Per Hours Program.
And spread the word because that one click will feed someone in need!! 

 Hashtag: #MealsPerHour
 Supermarch√© Filmmakers: @henryandrel
Food Bank: @foodbank4nyc

Disclosure: “This post was written as part of my sponsored partnership with the Stiletto Media Blogger Network.”

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

NECTRESSE Natural No Calorie Sweetener Review and Giveaway!!

I know I should just give up sweets but I can't. So, right now I use Splenda to sweeten up my drinks or food. I have also been trying to get healthier so Splenda or artificial sweeteners are a good alternative to processed sugar.

Luckily, I was asked to review Nectresse. Made by the same makers of Splenda, Nectresse Natural No Calorie Sweetener is a natural zero calorie sweetener made from the goodness of real fruit. Nectresse Natural No Calorie Sweetener derives its natural sweetness from monk fruit. Monk fruit is a small green melon. Nectresse uses monk fruit along with a perfect blend of other natural sweeteners to bring you the rich sweet taste of sugar without all the calories.

With summer here, it is time to start getting healthy and losing weight! To help you out, here are some great tips from Lisa Drayer, M.A., R.D., author of The Beauty Diet (McGraw-Hill) and NECTRESSE™ Natural No Calorie Sweetener Spokesperson on how to lose weight sensibly.
Take a “Weekend Reset” 
I am a fan of “resetting” when starting a weight loss plan. But I’m not talking about a strict diet where you drink juice all day. Instead, try a weekend – or week – break from processed carbs and baked goods. These foods not only contribute calories, they may also cause water retention. When you eliminate these processed carbs from your diet, you not only lose calories, you may also lose water, and the number on the scale goes down – a big motivator when starting a healthy eating plan. Focus on incorporating lean protein, fat free dairy and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables during this reset.
Start your meal with a salad 
Eating a salad is one of the few occasions when adding an appetizer to a meal can actually help you with managing your weight. Specifically, some research shows that when a large, low-calorie salad with fiber-rich vegetables is added to a meal, some people may feel less hungry and eat fewer calories overall.1 Just be sure to limit add-ons like croutons, fried meats, bacon bits, cheese, high-fat dressings and even healthier items such as nuts, seeds, olives and chickpeas. Also, instead of drenching your salad with dressing, try measuring out your dressing and serving it on the side. This allows you to dip with your fork and savor the flavor, while controlling your portion size. 
Slash the sugar!
Sugars can easily sneak into your diet, adding lots of extra unwanted calories! Consider this: it’s not uncommon to put two teaspoons of sugar into a cup of coffee, adding 32 calories. At three cups per day, you’ve already maxed out on the daily added sugar intake for women!2 By adding a no-calorie sweetener like NECTRESSE™ Natural No Calorie Sweetener, made with monk fruit extract, you can enjoy delicious sweetness without all the calories of sugar. NECTRESSE™ Sweetener is a great pantry staple for naturally sweetening food or beverages.  
Go Greek when it comes to yogurt 
Choosing a lowfat Greek yogurt instead of regular full fat yogurt can not only save calories, but can also help you to feel more satisfied. A cup of Greek yogurt has nearly double the protein of regular yogurt and may help you feel fuller and decrease your likelihood of having cravings and reaching for high calorie snacks between meals.

Now I know artificial sweeteners aren't for everyone. But they are a good alternative for me. And until I give up sugar all together, I will continue using them. That's why I am glad Nectresse is available for me. I actually feel better that it is made with natural ingredients.

I substituted my Splenda with Nectresse for a week and found that I enjoyed it. It sweetens up my coffee,
cereal and everything else I use Splenda in. I liked the taste. I didn't find it much different than Splenda but then that is a good thing because the point of the product is to sweeten not to flavor.

It dissolves in an instant, which I love. And if you want, you can use it as sugar in recipes as well. It is available in single-serve packets and easy to hold canisters with a multipurpose lid for sprinkling, pouring or spooning.

I would recommend this product if you use artificial sweeteners already. If you don't, you should try it if you want to have the sweetness of sugar without the calories!

I have this wonderful prize pack for one lucky reader courtesy of Nectresse. The prize pack includes a Nectresse tote bag, yoga mat, yoga mat carrier and samples of Nectresse. This is a fantastic pack! If you want to win, enter on the Rafflecopter widget below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I received a sample product for review purposes. No other compensation was given and the opinions in this post are solely mine and are based on my experience with the product. Sponsors are responsible for shipping prizes unless otherwise stated. I am not responsible if sponsors do not fulfill prize. Please allow 6-8 weeks for delivery of any prizes.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Exit the Highway for Summer Giveaway! Win a $50 Visa Card!

Are you taking a road trip this summer? If so, why not exit the highway and go for a little adventure. Take a little time out from driving to exit and spend time discovering a hidden treasure, a scenic route or spend some time in nature.

We do this all the time. When we take road trips we make sure look at the map and see if there is someplace we can stop and check out. Sometimes, it is a cheesy roadside attraction, a funky restaurant,  a historic site or something amazing.

When we were in Northern California one year, we were driving and decided to get off the highway and check out the scenic route. It was fantastic. We ended up on a road lined with Giant Redwoods. We decided to stop and walk into the forest and it was the most amazing site ever. This picture is me walking through the forest in search of something amazing. To this day, that little adventure was one of the best we have had.  It was all because we decided to get off the highway and take some time for us.

Now Toyota and Audubon are teaming up to make sure you "Exit the Highway" and find some wonderful adventures. You can visit the site and check out the "Nature Near You" map to see what nature is near you or close to where you are traveling.

You might not realize how many hidden gems are nearby. In fact, a new survey conducted by the National Audubon Society and Toyota reveals that 85% of Americans wish they could spend more time outside relaxing in nature and 79% of us are willing to drive up to 100 miles for a new scenic destination or nature experience! That sounds so much like us. We are always up for an adventure!

The best part is if you visit the site, you can take the pledge and, if you do, you could win a Prius V! I already took the pledge because I want the Prius!! You can also gain extra entries when you share your photos, stories, and nature destinations with others. So make sure to share your story or photo on the "Exit the Highway" site. Those extra entries might get you that new Prius!

What I love is that you can also read the stories shared by others! Real life stories about exiting the highway. Some stories were fantastic. Plus, they also gave me new ideas where to go when we take our next road trip. And to make your summer road trip a little easier, I have a $50 Visa gift card to give away to one lucky reader!! WOO!  You know the drill. Just enter on the Rafflecopter widget below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. All opinions in this post are solely mine and are based on my experiences. Sponsors are responsible for shipping prizes unless otherwise stated. I am not responsible if sponsors do not fulfill prize. Please allow 6-8 weeks for delivery of any prizes.

Friday, June 21, 2013

My Hotel Room at the 21C Museum Hotel - Cincinnati, OH #accesspg

My hotel room in Cincinnati. It is quite modern and cool. Enjoy!

Disclosure: I was invited to attend this all-expenses paid trip by P&G. Thoughts and opinions are 100% my own and are based on my experiences .

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Heading to Cincinnati and the P&G Headquarters! #accesspg

I will be gone the rest of the week because I was invited to attend a P&G conference! YAY!

I do love P&G products and have been fortunate to do quite a few giveaways that involve those products. I know you guys love those giveaways because there are always a ton of entries.

I am flying out today, then I come back on Saturday. I also get to visit the P&G Headquarters which is exciting. And we get to experience a cooking demo with Top Chef Stephanie Izard. Love her. Plus, I am sure we will be learning more about all the P&G products. I will be updating my Facebook and Twitter feeds if you want to follow along and see what I will be up to.

Disclosure: I was invited to attend this all-expenses paid trip by P&G. Thoughts and opinions are 100% my own and are based on my experiences .

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Pantene Pro-V Stylers Collection Review and Giveaway!!

Lately, I have been trying to change my style a little bit. If it were up to me I would live in jammies with my hair up. Of course, I cannot do that so I have to start trying to look better. I am trying out different hairstyles because I believe on of our most important features is our hair. The wrong hairdo or dry and limp hair can ruin your look.

Recently, actress and singer Maite Perroni was voted one of the most beautiful people by People en Espanol. She is beautiful and has wonderful hair. That's how I would love my hair to be. In this picture, Maite was styled by Irma Martinez, ambassador for P&G. And, renowned hairstylist, Antonio Rosales tells us how he created that wavy loose hairstyle to complement Maite’s look and how to get those soft, voluminous and seductive waves.

Get the Look:
•Step 1: To start transforming Maite’s natural straight hair, I applied Pantene Heat Protection Spray to protect hair from heat damage and prepare for styling. 
•Step 2: I divided the hair on top of the head in two sections and used two large rollers, one for each side of the head to add volume at the root. 
•Step 3: After the top hair has been rolled, I sectioned the bottom hair in ½ inch sections and used a curling iron to create many closed waves. 
•Step 4: Once all hair was completely wavy, I removed the two rollers and asked Maite to flip her head back to be able to finger comb her waves to loosen them up and transform into soft waves. 
•Step 5: And finally, I couldn’t let her go without my final touch! I sprayed Pantene Pro-V Stylers Flexible Hold Hairspray throughout Maite's long hair to maintain the volume and seal the style so it will last all night.
Now matter how hard I tried, I could not get her look. I think my hair is a little to short. Plus, I am not very creative or experienced to really make my hair look that good.

The products I received were wonderful though. I received the new Pantene Pro-V Stylers Collection. The collection includes: Pantene Heat Protection Spray, Pantene Extra Strong Mousse, Pantene Texturizing Sculpting Wax, Pantene Pro-V Repair & Protect Shampoo and Conditioner.

I am a huge Pantene Shampoo and Conditioner fan. These products leave my hair silky and smooth. It also makes it shinier and more healthy looking. The Mousse held beautifully. I have a cow lick in the front of my forehead and it takes a lot to keep it in place. The Heat Protection Spray is wonderful because I always blow dry my hair and it needs help so it doesn't dry out. The only product I did not try was the Texturizing Wax because I need to find an occasion when I need that much hold.

I totally recommend these products. And I am hoping that one day, I will be able to create a sexy, beautiful hairdo like Maite's. I might have to go to a professional though!

For additional beauty tips, please visit Mi Pantene or follow @PANTENE on Twitter!

If you want to win the new Pantene Pro-V Stylers Collection, just enter on the Rafflecopter widget below. Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I received a sample product for review purposes. No other compensation was given and the opinions in this post are solely mine and are based on my experience with the product. Sponsors are responsible for shipping prizes unless otherwise stated. I am not responsible if sponsors do not fulfill prize. Please allow 6-8 weeks for delivery of any prizes.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Merci Chocolates + $25 Walmart GIVEAWAY!

A few months ago, I posted a review and giveaway for Merci chocolates. I loved them! When I was given the opportunity to review the chocolates again, I couldn't say "Yes" fast enough. Who doesn't love chocolate?
Merci European Chocolates are great. They are also a great way to say thank you to someone special in your life. I received a beautiful package with Merci Chocolates, a pencil and eraser and a $25 Wal-mart card. This was a great idea for a teacher's gift or for someone in your life who writes or sketches.

But Merci chocolates are great for anyone. They are also great for any occasion. I love giving housewarming gifts and Merci chocolates with a beautiful bowl to serve them in would make a great gift.

Merci Chocolates are a great way to say thank you to your postal carrier, your co-workers or yourself! There are so many different ways you can give the gift of Merci. Or if you are not creative, then just give that special someone a box of Merci Chocolates and I know they would appreciate it.

If you haven't tried Merci Chocolates, then go find a box because they are delicious. Each Merci Chocolates gift box includes 20 individually wrapped chocolates. There are 7 different flavors to choose from: Milk Chocolate, Coffee and Cream, Hazelnut-Almond, Hazelnut-Creme, Dark Cream, Dark Mousse and Praline-Creme. Yummy!

If you want to win some Merci Chocolates, then just enter on the Rafflecopter widget below. The prize pack includes a box of Merci Chocolates, pencil, eraser and a $25 dollar Wal-Mart gift card. YAY!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I received a sample product for review purposes. No other compensation was given and the opinions in this post are solely mine and are based on my experience with the product. Sponsors are responsible for shipping prizes unless otherwise stated. I am not responsible if sponsors do not fulfill prize. Please allow 6-8 weeks for delivery of any prizes.