22 October 2012

FUN SIZE movie!

The new movie FUN SIZE comes out this weekend.  I saw previews for it in theaters the last couple of times I went to see a movie, and it seems very funny!  I will definitely be going to see it after it is released this Friday, October 26!  It's a Halloween comedy about what happens when a little brother goes missing while trick-or-treating and his older sister has to go looking for him.

From IMDB:

Wren's Halloween plans go awry when she's made to babysit her brother, who disappears into a sea of trick-or-treaters. With her best friend and two nerds at her side, she needs to find her brother before her mom finds out he's missing.

I don't think this short summary really does the movie justice!  Here's a trailer for the movie, too:

This weekend, stars Victoria Justice and Thomas Mann, as well as Carly Rae Jepsen, hosted an event at the Nickelodeon Universe at the Mall of America to promote FUN SIZE.  Here are some photos from the event!

The stars look excited about their movie, and I know that I am, too!  FUN SIZE appears in theaters this Friday, 10/26- just in time for Halloween!

FTC Disclaimer:  Photos and information in this post were provided to me by Allied-THA, except for the movie synopsis from IMDB and the trailer from YouTube.  All opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way by Allied-THA, Nickelodeon, or any other entity.  I will be receiving compensation for writing an honest post about FUN SIZE.

18 July 2012

CONTEST~ Purex Laundry Detergent!

A quick contest that will run for the next 24 hours- win free Purex laundry detergent!  Here's what you have to do to enter:

Visit Purex's Let's Be Honest page or their Youtube feed and watch some of the Let's Be Honest videos.  Then, come back to this page and comment with what your favorite video was!  Simple!  For an additional entry, you can Like, Share, or Tweet about your favorite video, and then comment here that you did so.  One entry per method per person; contest ends 11:59 PM on Thursday, 7/19/2012.

Let's Be Honest is a campaign by Purex to convey simple, to-the-point messages about why Purex is a better laundry detergent for your family to use. From the website,
Whether it’s paying too much for “premium” detergent or uncovering the truth about skinny jeans, we’re shedding some light on everyday absurdities.
Visit the Let's Be Honest website for yourself to see why you should replace your other laundry detergent with Purex!  And, be sure to enter my contest to win free Purex for yourself by Thursday, 7/19!

FTC Disclaimer:  Purex provided me with coupons for free Purex laundry detergent in exchange for hosting this contest, and will provide me with additional coupons for myself after the contest ends.  All opinions expressed in this post are my own.

10 July 2012

McCormick Grill Mates review

My family and I recently sampled a number of products from McCormick Grill Mates.  These are all great seasonings, marinades, and sauces to use during the summer grilling season!  Here are my thoughts on three of the products that my family and I had the strongest opinions about.

Grill Mates® Slow and Low Memphis Pit BBQ Rub:  This was spicy, but those of us who liked spicy foods enjoyed it!  We tried it on steak, and later on, I also mixed this rub into a burger.  Both were delicious (I love spicy foods)!  I could definitely taste the rub more on the steak, though; the burger had a lot of other flavors on it that masked some of the tanginess.

Steak (sandwich) with Memphis BBQ Pit Rub & Pineapple rings w/ Molasses Bacon Seasoning

Grill Mates® Molasses Bacon Seasoning Blend:  This was a surprising hit with my family- especially with my little sister, who puts bacon on everything!  She thought it was cool that there was bacon in the shaker :)  I tried this on chicken wings, and it was a delightfully sweet taste.

Chicken Wings with Molasses Bacon Seasoning

Grill Mates® Brown Sugar Bourbon BBQ Sauce:  This sauce had a very strong alcohol taste from the bourbon.  We don't really drink in my house, and so this sauce was definitely not one of our favorite products.  We use a lot of barbecue sauce on a regular basis, so any new barbecue sauce has a lot to stand up to, and this did not make the cut.

Enjoying the food!

 There are many more than just these three products available from McCormick Grill Mates, so if none of these fit your grilling fancy, just check out your local grocery store to see what else is available.  There's something for everyone!

You can also visit GrillMates on Facebook and find tons of grilling tips for the summer.

FTC Disclaimer:  I was provided free samples of McCormick products by Crowdtap in exchange for hosting a Grill Mates party with family and friends.  All opinions expressed are my own.

09 July 2012

CONTEST! Dry Idea Deodorant

~It's time for a contest!~

I was lucky enough to be selected to sample Dry Idea AdvancedDry deodorant.  I always love to try new products, and with summer in full swing, I was especially glad to have this opportunity to try a new deodorant.  I work as a summer camp counselor outside in the woods, so my usual scented deodorant that I use the rest of the year is no good- it attracts mosquitoes with its sweet scent!  Dry Idea AdvancedDry deodorant is unscented, so I can wear it to camp.  And, I was very happy with how dry I stayed throughout the day, even with being outside in over 100 degree temperatures, running around, and even swimming!

Dry Idea AdvancedDry deodorant is available in roll-on, clear gel, and invisible solid styles.  Scents include unscented (which is what I sampled) as well as powder fresh, cotton dry, and cool burst; this varies depending on which style of deodorant you get.  You can find out more information about this deodorant at the Dry Idea website or at Dry Idea's Facebook page.

And now, for the contest:

I have coupons to give away for FREE Dry Idea AdvancedDry deodorant!

If I have 5 or less unique entrants, I will give away one coupon.  If I get more than 5 entrants, I'll give away two!

Here are your options for entering (please leave a comment for each entry you complete, and, if the entry includes a Facebook post, a Tweet, or a Pin on Pinterest, link to that in your comment):

1. like Dry Idea's Facebook page
2. post on Dry Idea's Facebook page that you were referred by Des Abdurdites (& leave a link to my blog in your post)
3. share this post on Facebook
4. share this post on Twitter and mention @desabsurdites
5. pin this post on Pinterest and tag @desabsurdites
6. Dry Idea is holding a sweepstakes with $1000 in prizes!  Enter through this link- good luck!
7. share my link to the Dry Idea sweepstakes on Facebook or Twitter (1 entry each)

That's 8 entries to my contest if you do everything- plus an entry to win Dry Idea's huge sweepstakes, too!

My contest ends at 11:59 pm EST on Wednesday, July 18, 2012.  The winner(s) will be selected randomly by Friday, July 20, 2012 and notified by e-mail.  The winner(s) will then provide me with a mailing address to which I will mail their prize.

FTC Disclaimer:  Dry Idea provided me with a free sample of AdvancedDry deodorant in exchange for an honest review.  Dry Idea provided me with coupons to use as prizes for a contest.  All opinions expressed in this post are my own.  Image courtesy of dryidea.com.

20 June 2012

My review of BRAVE

BRAVE, Disney/Pixar's newest film, is coming to theaters in just two days (Friday, June 22)!  I was lucky enough to see an advanced screening of the movie earlier in June, and I am so excited to finally be able to share my thoughts on the film:

I loved it!

Disney/Pixar did a great job in creating characters you could come to care about in such a short amount of time.  The character development was thorough, and, for quite possibly the first time ever in a Disney film, the main character's (Merida's) entire family was present and important to the plot.  It was really nice to watch a movie in which the important relationship was the mother-daughter relationship, instead of the mother being dead or absent for the entire plot.  It really was a wholesome film that focused on the importance of being an individual while also staying true to your roots.  In the film, the question becomes, What is our fate and how can we reconcile this with our desires for our lives?  This is an important message, and I'm so glad that Disney/Pixar decided to focus on it for what is arguably one of their most advertised movies recently.

For the kids, because BRAVE is based on Gaelic lore, the film has a lot of fantastical elements to it, such as magic and witches.  Luckily, these are all presented in a humorous rather than scary fashion, so the movie stays upbeat and fun.  Merida's three younger brothers add another funny element to the story, because they act just like typical little kids who would rather eat sweets than dinner, and who play pranks on the rest of the family.

Don't worry, though- there are plenty of moments for adults to enjoy in BRAVE, too!  As in most Disney/Pixar movies, there are lines that will go over kids' heads, but make all the adults in the theater crack up.  In BRAVE, these moments are scattered throughout the film, and I noticed them especially in scenes where there is a lot of kids humor, too.

My overall review of BRAVE is, Go see it!

Here is one last clip I'll share with you before BRAVE hits theaters this Friday.  It's a behind-the-scenes look at the film.  Enjoy!

FTC Disclaimer:  I was not compensated in any way for this review.  I was given the opportunity to see an advanced screening of BRAVE in exchange for a review and publicity about the film on my blog.  All opinions expressed are my own.  All clips were provided to me by Disney.

11 June 2012

Product Review: Dr. Scholl's Massaging Gel Insoles

As a BzzAgent, I often have the opportunity to sample new products in exchange for my honest opinion on them.  This time, I've been able to try Dr. Scholl's Massaging Gel Insoles.  I was really excited for this campaign.  I have some problems with my feet/knees, and I'm always interested in new products that might help me with that.

I decided to put the Massaging Gel Insoles into an old pair of sneakers that I was hoping to "revamp".  The original insoles were getting flimsy from wearing the shoes for so long.  I was very pleased with how the new insoles made me feel like I was wearing new shoes again!  They fit perfectly into my shoe and gave me the support I needed.

My old sneakers with new Dr. Scholl's Massaging Gel Insoles

The insoles are able to fit women's shoe sizes 6-10.  That means that if you have a shoe that's smaller than size 10, you have to trim the insole down.  I've been wary of products like that in the past, because I'm always afraid of messing up when I'm cutting and ruining the insole.  The Dr. Scholl's insoles were super easy to trim, though!  On the bottom of the insole is a guide telling you where to cut for each shoe size.  Despite that, I still measured them against the insoles I was replacing.  I was extremely pleased to find out that they lined up exactly with the size 8 guideline on the Dr. Scholl's insole!

I liked that I wasn't constantly thinking about the new insoles in my shoes while wearing them.  Sometimes, I find that replacement insoles don't fit the shoe well, or are too thick, and therefore interfere with day to day activities when you're wearing those shoes.  The Dr. Scholl's Massaging Gel Insoles were nothing like those annoying other products!  They seemed to disappear, and while I could definitely tell that they were much more sturdy and supportive than the old insoles I'd replaced, that was the extent of my paying direct attention to them.  I was very comfortable walking around with the Massaging Gel insoles in!

Overall, I would give this product a 5/5 rating!  (I'm very surprised to be saying that, but I'm also very pleased!)  The insoles gave me the support I need because of my knee problems, fit my shoes perfectly, and were very comfortable to wear.

FTC Disclaimer:  I am a BzzAgent, and received free product samples in order to give my opinion.  This in no way influences what I say about the Dr. Scholl's Massaging Gel Insoles.  The opinions expressed are solely my own.

09 June 2012

Clips from Disney/Pixar's BRAVE

I had the amazing opportunity to see an advanced screening of Disney/Pixar's new movie BRAVE on Thursday night.  While I can't say anything about the movie just yet, I can share some clips and other goodies to get you excited for BRAVE, which hits theaters on June 22!

First, a trailer:


And a clip from the movie:

My review will be coming the week the film gets released...I can't wait to share my thoughts with you all!

07 June 2012

An Update...

You probably have noticed that I haven't been blogging here much lately.  A lot of it had to do with all the work I had keeping me very busy during my senior year of college.  Now that's over, but I've still been thinking a lot about what I want to do with this blog.  I considered switching over to a new blog and dedicating it to reviews, but I've done so much with this blog that I'd really hate to abandon it.  I'm going to keep blogging here, but focus more on posting reviews (of foods, movies, books, products) than I have in the past.  This may all change in the future, but for now, this is the best choice for me.  So, now that I'm back, get ready for more posts, more reviews, and hopefully, a much more exciting blog!

28 March 2012

Stationery Card from Shutterfly!

Shutterfly has a huge selection of personalizable (is that even a word?) stationary cards for all occasions!  Here is one I recently ordered- thank you notes for graduation!

Classic Colors Graduation Announcement
Click here for Shutterfly's graduation announcements & gifts.
View the entire collection of cards.

11 March 2012

What I'm Reading: Endworlds by Nicholas Read

First off, I'm sorry for  disappearing for the past few weeks!  Between being sick and trying to keep up with school and my thesis, I've just been extremely busy.

In that time, though, I've been trying my best to keep up with books I've promised to review.  The first of those is Endworlds by Nicholas Read.

Here is a synopsis of the series (which Endworlds is the first of), courtesy of NetGalley:

The conspiracy is real. Last decade, scientists made an astonishing discovery. Their telescopes looked out further than ever before and found another galaxy churning into the Milky Way. And in 2012, Earth flies right through the heart of that debris field . . . suns, planets, the works.The media is gagged. But the elite families know an extinction event when they see one. Cue the biggest and most expensive machine ever built: a particle accelerator in an underground silo, using quantum physics to punch a hole to a new world, a safe world.Only it isn't. Just ask those who patrol the quarantine. Those known only as Longcoats. From secret files, exclusive journals and years of investigative journalism, Endworlds pieces together for the first time how a disgraced billionaire, a rogue General and an ancient cult are shaping the world you think you live in, and the one soon to come. Read the Book. Join the Hunt. Save the World. 
And here is a synopsis of the book itself, courtesy of Amazon:

Billionaire industrialist Raef Eisman loses his daughter on an airliner in midair after flying through a strange electrical storm. With no body, no ransom and no explanation, he embarks on a crusade to find her . . . which sees him ousted from his company, stripped of his fortune and vilified by the world press. Only his faithful assistant, retired special forces colonel William Hills, stands at his side as they uncover primitive legends of ‘skypeople’ in the clouds, the trafficking of humans between dimensions, and a worldwide conspiracy of revisionist history that obscures our race’s true origin and purpose.Thought mad by his peers, Eisman inexplicably disappears as his vehicle plunges into the Thames. Instead of the 50-year old corporate raider emerging from the depths, a soggy 15-year old amnesiac rises in his place. A boy with no identity and no past.Dubbed “Eastwood” by those who find “the boy with no name”, he is conscripted by an underground army of teen refugees in the tunnels below Waterloo. Wards of an ancient organization intent on protecting the world from an increasing alien and inter-dimensional threat, these “Longcoats” induct Eastwood into a new life, with new allies and deadly enemies: the Fae’er of the First Age; the ageless Cassandrans; the shadowy Dae’mon; and a covert military junta known only as GRID - all on a collision course.

As you can probably tell from reading this synopsis, Endworlds is an interactive book which includes an on-line and real life treasure hunt based on clues provided on the Longcoats website.  I was intrigued by this idea- I've seen it become more popular recently, with series such as The 39 Clues, but I've never personally read or tried to participate in anything like this before.

To be clear, I have not finished reading Endworlds yet, but I have become completely intrigued by the path the story is taking.  The book starts off in what appears to be our modern-day society, with nothing out of the ordinary to suggest inconsistencies in the universe.  However, as the story progresses, more and more things seem to be out of place.  For example, early in the story, the main character's daughter disappears in a rather mysterious and strange way.  This event sets the tone for the rest of the book, and it guides the characters as well as the reader's mindset as the story progresses.  What was most interesting to me is that the book begins like it is realistic fiction, and while there are elements to the story that I would consider to be either sci-fi or dystopian-esque, the book is designed to be read as realistic fiction approaching non-fiction (think Lemony Snicket).

I am eager to continue reading Endworlds and subsequently, participate in the on-line adventure as well.  I would recommend this book to teenagers who enjoy mystery or science fiction, as well as "reluctant readers" who may be more inclined to read a book that has an interactive on-line component to go along with it.

FTC Disclaimer:  I received a copy of this book for free from NetGalley.  All opinions expressed are my own.

25 February 2012

A crazy few weeks...

It's been one thing after another for me this month...mainly, being sick times 3.  One week I was sick with a cold.  Then, I was better for not even 2 days before coming down with another (worse) cold/flu-like virus followed by a terrible ear infection later that week.  So, pretty much I've been sick for the past 3 weeks.  I'm mostly better now...about 95%- the ear infection killed my hearing for a few days, and I'm still waiting for my ears to completely recover.

In the midst of all that, I still didn't skip any classes or lab time or band.  I ran myself ragged and I was completely exhausted too.  I'm feeling better now just in time for midterms leading in to traveling with the pep band for post-season basketball tournaments.  I never give myself a break!

So, it's no wonder that I've fallen way behind in blogging.  I have a lot of posts that I've been meaning to write, but with being sick and still trying to keep up with schoolwork, I just haven't had the time.  Hopefully all the craziness going on in my life will calm down fairly soon and I will have time to start doing some things for fun instead of because they're required.

Anyway, I figured I'd post an update since it's been a while, and hopefully I can get back to blogging quite soon!

10 February 2012

The Secret World of Arrietty

When I was younger, I remember reading Mary Norton's The Borrowers and thinking how interesting it would be if there really were little people living throughout our homes, using things humans don't need.  Now the word of the Borrowers is coming to life in the new movie The Secret World of Arrietty, which hits theaters on February 17!

Here is a synopsis of the film:

Residing quietly beneath the floorboards are little people who live undetected in a secret world to be discovered, where the smallest may stand tallest of all.  From the legendary Studio Ghibli (“Spirited Away,” “Ponyo”) comes “The Secret World of Arrietty,” an animated adventure based on Mary Norton’s acclaimed children’s book series “The Borrowers.”

Arrietty (voice of Bridgit Mendler), a tiny, but tenacious 14-year-old, lives with her parents (voices of Will Arnett and Amy Poehler) in the recesses of a suburban garden home, unbeknownst to the homeowner and her housekeeper (voice of Carol Burnett). Like all little people, Arrietty (AIR-ee-ett-ee) remains hidden from view, except during occasional covert ventures beyond the floorboards to “borrow” scrap supplies like sugar cubes from her human hosts. But when 12-year-old Shawn (voice of David Henrie), a human boy who comes to stay in the home, discovers his mysterious housemate one evening, a secret friendship blossoms. If discovered, their relationship could drive Arrietty’s family from the home and straight into danger. The English language version of “The Secret World of Arrietty” was executive produced by Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall, and directed by Gary Rydstrom. The film hits theaters Feb. 17, 2012.

I am really excited to see this movie!  The first time I saw a preview for it on TV, I did not know that it was intentionally based off of The Borrowers books.  I thought that maybe someone else had come up with the same idea and thought it was new and creative.  I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the movie was based off of the books!  It's such an exciting world to bring to life!

Here are a couple of clips from the movie:


I can't wait to see the movie myself- if I can, I hope to see it opening weekend!

You can find out more about The Secret World of Arrietty on Facebook.  This Facebook page has clips and information about the movie.

FTC Disclaimer:  All information contained in this post, including video clips, and film information was provided to me by Disney.  The opinions expressed are my own.

09 February 2012

Freebie Sites #2: ExpoTV

For my second post in this series, I want to highlight a site called ExpoTV.  This site is a little different than a lot of the "freebie sites" out there because it is not exculsively a site that gives away free things.  I've had a lot of fun participating in ExpoTV!  I'll talk a little bit about what the site is all about, and then why I've enjoyed it so much!

The slogan for ExpoTV is "Real People.  Authentic Opinions."  As a member of ExpoTV, you can create video reviews of products you use so you can share your opinion with other consumers and brands alike.  You can create a video review for any product you use.  For some products, you can earn points for submitting a video.  Sometimes, you earn points because a certain company wants video reviews made of their products.  Other times, there are not enough reviews available of a certain product, so ExpoTV offers extra points for submitting a review of these "most wanted" products.  The points can then be redeemed for a huge variety of items, from gift cards to electronics to appliances and more.  If you submit a review for a product that is not eligible for points, you are instead entered into a monthly sweepstakes for a prize (which changes each month).

I have to admit that for a long time after joining ExpoTV, I was wary of participating.  It seemed strange to me to make a video review of a product.  In addition, I really don't like public speaking, and it was difficult for me to record a cbohesive review when I so hated being on camera.  However, once I decided that it was worth putting up with my hatred for being on camera, I began to really enjoy participating in ExpoTV.  I now have a lot of fun talking about the products I use.  I also really trust reviews from other people that are posted on the site.  The points also add up very quickly if you submit those videos, and you can earn gift cards after only a couple of video submissions!

Maybe you're asking why I am including ExpoTV in a series about free things.  Well, ExpoTV also had a program called Tryology, where members can get sent products to sample and review.  Most of the time, these products have yet to be released to the public, so if you're lucky enough to get selected to participate in a Tryology program, you'll actually be one of the first people ever to sample the product!  You don't earn points for submitting your Tryology review, but you do get to keep all the products that are sent to you.  In my experience, they've always been full-sized product "samples".

I have participated in two Tryology programs so far- once for a Suave product, and once for Herbal Essences.  One of the products I decided not to use after receiving it, so my video review was about why I made that decision.  The other product I loved and have used practically every day since receiving it.  (Since I signed a confidentiality agreement before participating, I unfortunately can not say more about the products at the moment.)  The great thing about ExpoTV's Tryology program is that you can talk about your honest opinion of the product in your video.

If you have an outgoing personality and like to talk about products you use, I highly recommend participating in ExpoTV!  Whether you participate in Tryology or not, you can still earn great rewards with the points you earn!

If you're already a member of ExpoTV, let me know what you think of it!

FTC Disclaimer:  I am a member of ExpoTV.  I posted this review for the benefits of my site readers.  I was not asked to do so by ExpoTV, and I am receiving no compensation for this post.

08 February 2012

BOOK REVIEW - Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads:

Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion . . . she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit -- more sparkly, more fun, more wild -- the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.

When Cricket -- a gifted inventor -- steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.

Lola and the Boy Next Door is a companion book to Anna and the French Kiss.  It's not really a sequel, because although there are crossover characters (more St. Clair, anyone? :) ), the plot of Lola is entirely its own.  However, I couldn't help but compare this book to Anna when reading it.  Maybe this is unfortunate, because if Lola had been the first Stephanie Perkins book I'd read, I would have absolutely loved it.

I couldn't help but feel sympathetic towards Cricket, and even Calliope, twins who were Lola's next door neighbors in her childhood, throughout the entire book.  Though they were set up to be the "bad guys" in a sense, over the course of the book, these two characters grew more than any others.  From the beginning of the book to the end, as Lola's opinion of the twins grew and changed, so did mine.  I believed what Lola felt, and I found myself agreeing with her nearly all of the time.  Lola's emotions towards her family, friends, and boyfriend took me on a roller coaster ride the whole time I was reading.  Everything she felt seemed so genuine that it was possible to forget that she only exists within a book.

I really don't know what exactly about Lola made me not love it as much as I loved Anna.  Quite possibly, it was because Anna took place in Paris, a city that I've visited many times and love.  I don't have that same connection to San Francisco.  In addition to that, the plots of Anna and Lola follow nearly the same arc.  While the characters are different, it is easy to see counterparts between both books- the main character, the love interest, the significant other who causes problems, the best friend... It was mainly for this reason that it became so easy to compare the two books.  Side by side, I enjoyed Anna much more.  Independently, they both are amazing.
I would recommend reading Lola and the Boy Next Door if you're looking for a fun, contemporary romance.  I would have to give this book 4 out of 5 stars, because Anna got 5+ in my mind.  However, Lola is still a worthwhile read for any fan of contemporary YA, whether you've read Anna yet or not!

04 February 2012

2012 in Pictures (3)

January 19:  On my way back to my dorm, I watched a hawk try and catch a squirrel (to eat).  Couldn't get my camera out in time to take a picture of that, but here is the hawk up in a tree.

January 20:  My desk calendar in lab!

January 21:  I got the first parking space in the lot!  Small victories...

January 22:  I made pound cake.  It was FANTASTIC.  And it cooked in a reasonable amount of time!

January 23:  SNOW!!!

January 24:  There was this cool icicle hanging out of a gutter on the overpass.

January 25:  The Brett Hall oven got even fancier with the addition of a light and a fan!

January 26:  I got a "top secret" package from ExpoTV with a new Herbal Essences product to sample.  I love it...but I still can't say what it is!

January 27:  My first package from Swaggable!  Did I mention that I love getting things for free?  ;-)

January 28:  Alumni day at pep band.  We filled up three rows of trumpets!

January 29:  A photo for an auction I listed on Listia...I needed more points to get some hair stuff (barrettes, hats, etc.) that I've been eying.

January 30:  I cooked myself a delicious dinner using the new and improved Brett kitchen.  I made spiced turkey tenderloins with spaghetti and spinach.  It was delicious!

January 31:  The BzzKits for two new Bzz Campaigns I'm in- Dunkin' Donuts and Ristorante Pizza.  (Blog posts are forthcoming for both of these.)

02 February 2012

Freebie Sites #1: BzzAgent

I tried to do a series like this last year and I failed miserably at it after the second week (oops!), but I am going to attempt (again) to write a series of posts on websites that send out free products to consumers.  The sites are all different in their goals for sending out products, so it's important to learn about each site before deciding whether to join and participate.  I will highlight a different site each Thursday!

The first site that I'd like to highlight is BzzAgent.  You may recognize this name from a number of other posts on my blog.  I've been a member of BzzAgent for about a year and 9 months, and it's been fantastic!  Before I tell you about my experience as a BzzAgent, though, here is some information about what the company's purpose is.

BzzAgent is a Word of Mouth (WOM) marketing site.  What this means is that in exchange for providing free products, the recipient is then expected to spread the word about the product to family and friends.  You are not expected to provide a positive review- just an honest one, whether you liked the product or not.  Companies (such as L'Oreal, Maybelline, Dunkin' Donuts, and Orbit) hire BzzAgent to start this WOM marketing process for them.  BzzAgent works with the company to target a certain demographic whom they think are the prime users of the product.  Then, people who fit this demographic are offered a Campaign- meaning, they are given the opportunity to request a sample of the product as well as either coupons or samples to pass along to others who they think may be interested in trying out the product.  In exchange for this, BzzAgent asks that people report back how they spread "bzz" about the product.  On the website, you submit a report detailing who you talked to, what you said, and how they reacted.  It really is not much to do in exchange for receiving free products!  In addition to that, you can create bzz through Facebook, Twitter, and blogging.

My experience with BzzAgent has only been fantastic!  Over the past year and a half plus, I've participated in 17 campaigns, 6 of which have been online/digital products or services, and 11 of which have been for physical products.  Though it's certainly fun to get "real" items in the mail, the online campaings have been fun too!  I love talking about all the things I get for free and getting friends and family to try the products out with me.  Even after Campaigns have ended, I still find myself bzzing about certain products.  In particular, I still talk about the Maybelline Baby Lips lip balm and the Amazon Kindle Keyboard that I got from BzzAgent!  (Check out my Kindle reviews here and here.)

If you love spreading the word about new products, then BzzAgent might be for you!  Check out the site for yourself!  If you join, make sure to fill out the surveys available to you.  Then, sit back and wait patiently (difficult, I know!) for a Campaign invite, which will be sent to you by e-mail.  hszIt could take months for this to happen, but trust me- it's worth the wait.)  If the product or service looks interesting to you, accept the Campaing offer and then get bzzing away!

Are you a member of BzzAgent?  What do you think of it?

FTC Disclaimer:  I am a member of BzzAgent.  However, I was not asked to write this post, and all opinions expressed are my own.

31 January 2012

(2015)QUILT for an AIDS-free Generation

AIDS is a terrible disease that has been plaguing the world for decades.  Because there is no cure, the majority of people who contract the disease will ultimately die from it.  The only way to stop the spread of AIDS is to treat those who have it as best as possible and prevent them from spreading it to others.

That is where the organizations ONE and (RED) come in.  Both of these organizations are dedicated to stopping the spread of AIDS.  ONE and (RED) believe that by the year 2015, it will be possible to stop the spread of AIDS from mother to baby by providing treatment to HIV+ pregnant women.  This treatment costs just 40¢ per day!  Yet throughout the world, it is not available to those who need it most.

You can help show your support for an AIDS-free Generation and pledge your solidarity in helping to reach this goal by 2015.  The (2015)QUILT is a project which allows you to create a digital patch on a quilt, and join others around the world who are committed to eliminating the spread of AIDS.

Here is some information on the (2015)QUILT project:

We are so close.

In 1987, a quilt created by The Names Project Foundation covered the National Mall in Washington, D.C., memorializing those we lost to AIDS. Today, we stand at the threshold of another defining milestone in this fight: by 2015, we should be able to provide treatment to the millions more who need it, drastically reduce new infections, and virtually end the transmission of HIV from mothers to their babies. 1.4 million HIV+ pregnant women need access to treatment – treatment that only costs about 40 cents a day.

It can be done. But we need your help to get there.

Join millions of existing ONE and (RED) supporters. Add your panel to the (2015)QUILT. Make a pledge to do more and a thank you gift will come your way. Our friends, THE KILLERS have once again recorded a Christmas song for us— their 6th song for the cause. Add your pledge to the (2015)QUILT and receive one of (THE KILLERS) RED Christmas songs for free.

The beginning of the end of AIDS starts with you.
If you are on Klout and you'd like to make a pledge to help stop the spread of AIDS to newborns by 2015, ten people can join the (2015)QUILT perk using this link that I received to share.  If you aren't one of the first 10 people, or if you're not on Klout, you can still visit the (2015)QUILT project and make a patch yourself.  Then spread the word to others.  Education is the first step in achieving this goal.

FTC Disclaimer:  I am received information on this project through Klout Perks.  I was under no obligation to share my opinion; I did so for the benefit of my readers and because I believe this is an important cause.  All opinions expressed are my own.

30 January 2012

Free Sample Purex

Because of its success in the past, Purex has once again opened up their free sample website!  This time you can get a sample of Purex Triple Action laundry detergent.  (Check out my review of it here!)  If the site is not working, check back throughout the afternoon; it's just going live today and I don't know at exactly what time.  Once you've gotten your sample, stop back here and let me know whether you loved this detergent as much as I did!

FTC Disclaimer:  I received notice of this promotion through my participation in Purex Insiders.  All opinions expressed are my own.

29 January 2012

BOOK REVIEW - The Death Cure by James Dashner

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Thomas knows that Wicked can't be trusted, but they say the time for lies is over, that they've collected all they can from the Trials and now must rely on the Gladers, with full memories restored, to help them with their ultimate mission. It's up to the Gladers to complete the blueprint for the cure to the Flare with a final voluntary test.

What Wicked doesn't know is that something's happened that no Trial or Variable could have foreseen. Thomas has remembered far more than they think. And he knows that he can't believe a word of what Wicked says.

The time for lies is over. But the truth is more dangerous than Thomas could ever imagine.

Will anyone sur
vive the Death Cure?

I wanted to love The Death Cure.  I really, really wanted to love it.  I wanted it to be filled with mystery and suspense like the previous two books in the trilogy, and I wanted it to answer the questions that have been building throughout the series.  I wanted to find out what Thomas' childhood was like, and what his role in WICKED was before he entered the Maze.  I wanted to find out why Teresa made the decisions she did, and what her relationship with Thomas was like before the Maze.  Unfortunately, I did not learn any of those things in what turned out to be a slightly disappointing end to what could have been a fantastic trilogy.

Dashner continued to successfully develop confusion and mystery in The Death Cure.  Each page seemed to create more questions in my mind.  Because WICKED is an organization based on lies, I found myself constantly wondering what was the truth and what was not.  This kept me wanting to read more, with the hopes of finding out what really was going on in this post-apocalyptic world.  Intrigue-wise, The Death Cure was extremely successful.

My overall complaint with the book was how few of my questions were answered.  Based on the previous two books in the series, as well as early events in The Death Cure, it seemed as though there were some things that would simply have to be revealed in order for the series to reach a conclusion.  Somehow, Dashner managed to end the book without answering most of these questions.  The ending was acceptable, but once I actually closed the book and thought about it, I found myself unhappy with how much information I still did not know.  It felt to me as though the answers to some of these questions could have been revealed and led to a more wholesome ending than was written.

I would have been left with this sour impression of the book if it were not for the epilogue.  Wow!  I was not expecting that revelation (even though maybe I should have been...).  I'm not going to say any more about that, though ;-)

Overall, I would say that if you have read the first two books in this trilogy (The Maze Runner and The Scorch Trials), then you should definitely read The Death Cure to finish out the series.  However, if you're looking for a new dystopian/post-apocalyptic series to read, I would look elsewhere.

28 January 2012

Product Review: Purex UltraPacks laundry detergent

I was lucky enough to receive a sample of Purex UltraPacks laundry detergent for review.  I have used Purex detergent in the past, and I was eager to try the UltraPacks to see if they could really make doing laundry easier.

It was so convenient to just toss one UltraPack into the washing machine before adding my clothes.  No measuring detergent into a cap, no spilling liquid anywhere- the packs were super easy to just throw in to the machine.  The packs contain Purex's Triple Action detergent, which I've used the liquid form of before, in a 2x concentrated formula.  You get the same cleaning power in a much more convenient form!  Once the washing machine is turned on, the packs dissolve in the water and release the detergent inside.  The Purex UltraPacks can be used in any washing machine, including HE.

I used the Mountain Breeze scented UltraPacks.  I love this scent- whenever I use Purex detergent, it's what I choose.  My clothes come out smelling fresh, but not overly perfumey.  However, if you are not a fan of scented detergent, Purex UltraPacks are also available in Free & Clear (100% free of perfumes and dyes).

My only problem with the Purex UltraPacks was that each package only contains 18 packs.  Compared to a bottle of liquid detergent, this is significantly less loads of laundry that can be done.  When I use liquid detergent, I rarely use the recommended amount of detergent- I usually use less- so the bottle lasts even longer.  With a package of Purex UltraPacks, you can only do 18 loads, and there is no way to change that.

I love anything that makes doing laundry easier.  Being in college, I hate doing laundry because it takes up time that I could be doing other things, whether that is studying, sleeping, or hanging out with friends.  Purex UltraPacks make this tedious chore a little bit easier, because it saves me time and mess that comes with using liquid detergent.

Purex UltraPacks will be available for sale beginning in February!

FTC Disclaimer:  I am a member of Purex Insiders, and I received a sample of their UltraPacks liquid laundry detergent in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

27 January 2012

Product Review: Cutex Nail Polish Remover Pads

Swaggable is a new social marketing site that allows you to sample products, review them, and then share your review with your friends.  What's cool about Swaggable that sets it apart from other WOM marketing sites is that it is based upon your social circle.  The products you are given to sample are chosen based on things you or your friends have already shown an interest in, such as on Facebook.

I was lucky enough to be able to join Swaggable while it is still in Beta, and sample Cutex Nail Polish Remover Pads.

Here is the product description, courtesy of Swaggable:

Cutex® Nail Polish Remover Pads offer a handy way to quickly remove polish and condition nails and cuticles in one easy step. They're not only faster than any other brand, they also help strengthen and nourish your nails while moisturizing and softening your cuticles at the same time. These pads are perfect for travel! A single pad removes polish from ten nails, fingers or toes—even dark and hard-to-remove colors.

As the product description claims, I was able to remove the nail polish from all 10 of my fingernails with one pad. In that respect, the Nail Polish Remover Pads are very convenient, as I can use just one pad as opposed to multiple cotton balls with liquid remover. However, there were two things I did not particularly like about this product. First of all, the red dye from the felt pads got left behind on my nails. Secondly, my fingers felt dry and slightly sticky after using the product; I think this is again from the dye on the felt pads, although I can not be sure. I would be more likely to use this product in the future if it came with uncolored felt instead of red. However, the single-use packets and large pads did make this product very convenient to use; they fill a niche in the market that I only wish had been thought of sooner!

FTC Disclaimer:  I received a sample of Cutex Nail Polish Remover Pads from Swaggable for review.  All opinions expressed are my own.
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