The Easy Way to Earn FREE Gift Cards and Products

Yes…you can earn free gift cards and not pay one penny.  Sounds too good to be true, but it is absolutely true.  If you are willing to download 2 free apps and snap some pictures, you’re on you way to earning free gift cards.


Shopkick – This app is awesome and I have already earned 2 Starbucks gift cards and a TJ Maxx gift card.  Simply download the app, set up your account and you are good to go.  Whenever you go shopping, open the Shopkick app and it will tell you what stores offer “kicks”.


Some offer kicks(points) for just walking in the door.  Some offer additional kicks for scanning, not buying, products.  It reminds me of Pokemon Go for adults:)  You can also add in credit and debit cards and when you use them in the store, you get credit for your purchases.  Yet another way to get kicks is to take a picture of your receipt when you buy certain items that are highlighted in the app.  It could not be easier.


You can choose from many different gift cards including Starbucks, TJ Maxx, American Eagle, Walmart, Target, Old Navy, Macys, Nike and the list goes on and on.  You can also donate your kicks to many charities.  Give it a try…you will not be disappointed.


Receipt Hog – Receipt Hog is a receipt snapping (taking pictures) app.  You download the app and set up your account.  For this app, you snap pictures of all your receipts from department stores, convenience stores, gas stations, food stores, etc.  Depending upon the type of receipt you snap, you can earn coins or slots.  Coins are what you accumulate in order to earn gift cards.  Slots are pulls on a virtual slot machine within the app.  You can earn more coins when you “pull” the slot machine arm.  With each receipt, you also earn entries in monthly sweepstakes which can earn you even more coins.


There are also monthly challenges which earn you more pulls for the slot machine.  Everything is geared to earn you more coins, which earn you an Amazon or Paypal gift card.  You can connect your email and Amazon account in order to earn more coins.  Sometimes you are given surveys to complete for even more coins.  It doesn’t cost a penny and you can earn free gift cards…to me it’s a win-win to download this app.


Cumberland Farms SmartPay – This is also a win-win app.  If you live in an area that has Cumberland Farm gas stations, this is the app for you.  You download this app and set up an account.  You then connect a debit or credit card to the app.  When you get gas at their gas station, you use the app to pay for the gas and you get a 10 cent discount per gallon.  It is really a money saver because CF usually has low gas prices anyway and then you save 10 cents on top of that price.


You also earn free drinks and snacks as you fill up your tank.  I have earned free soft drinks, energy drinks, protein bars, various snacks…and they have renovated most CF stores so they are very enjoyable to visit and they have a great selection of snacks, drinks and meals.

*I do not receive any type of compensation from these apps.  I just wanted to share apps that have been helpful to me.*

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What are your favorite reward-earning apps?

Protein…Get Your Protein Here!

I am in a constant struggle to get more protein each day.  I am a carb-a-holic so when I want a snack, I usually reach for or have a craving for something loaded with carbs and not protein.  Not the best choice.  I know that you should have a balance of protein, fat and carbs in whatever you eat so I decided to do a little research on protein bars.  I have been eating them for years.  I have searched high and low for a lower carb option of protein bars, but I haven’t found a low carb bar that tastes good to me.  Most of the bars in this taste test have quite a few carbs, but they are high in protein.  It’s a trade off.

MET-RX BIG 100 Colossal Brownie

MET-RX Colossal Brownie Nutrition Facts

These are my absolute favorite hands down.  They taste like a decadent, yummy brownie.  One bar is 390 calories…yikes…but I usually break it in half for a snack.  They are filling and have 20g of protein in half a bar.  The sugars are 18g, but they are equivalent to most protein bars I have tried.  Colossal Brownies are 3.52 oz.   I don’t think I’ve ever ate a whole one at once, but I assume they could be part of a meal replacement plan.

Balance Bars

Balance Bar Nutrition Facts2

These are a strong runner-up in my review.  I actually eat these more often than the Colossal Brownies because they are available in more mainstream stores.  Balance Bars have all sorts of flavor choices:  caramel nut blast, cookie dough, PB chocolate, chocolate mint and the list goes on.  I currently eat the peanut butter flavor and I love it.  These bars have 200 calories and 15g of protein.  They have 17g of sugar, which is on the high side too.  I have tried a lot of the flavors that they offer and have liked most of them.  Balance Bars are 1.76 oz.

Pure Protein

Pure Protein bar Nutrition Facts3

These bars are definitely my least favorite here.  They have a very protein powdery taste to them if you know what I mean.  I find that most protein powders, no matter the flavor, have a distinct odor and taste to them.  This bar also has that taste.  The sugars are extremely low…1g…but the taste, I feel, suffers because of that.  The protein is 19g and the calories are 190.  If the proteiny taste doesn’t bother you, these may be the bars for you.  I had the dark chocolate coconut for the taste test and didn’t really like it.  I have the double chocolate before and liked those a little better.  Pure Protein bars are 1.76 oz.

Protein...Get Your Protein Here! A review of protein bars Click To Tweet

Gatorade Whey Protein Bars

Gatorade Whey Protein Bar Nutrition Facts
Sorry it's sideways

My son eats these and they are his favorite.  He says they taste just like a candy bar…so who wouldn’t love them, right?  They are 2.8 oz with 360 calories…20g of protein and 29g of sugars.  Those sugars and calories are REALLY high, I know.  I would say that this is more of a meal replacement bar OR for someone who is working out at a very high intensity many times a week.  Like I said, he LOVES them.  I had him try the Pure Protein chocolate flavor and he didn’t like those. (Sorry that the nutrition facts are sideways.  When I saved the graphic, it was left to right:(

**I wasn’t given products by any company.  I just wanted to share my nutritional experience with others.  The links that I included above connect to the cheapest prices I have seen for each type of bar.**

Have you found a low sugar, high protein bar that you love?  Please tell me about it:)

3 Refreshing Facial Sprays That You Will Love

I saw a review of one facial spray last year and it sounded so awesome, I had to try it.  I loved it, especially in the heat of the summer.  As the year went by, I forgot about it until I went on vacation several weeks ago.  We were in South Carolina with temps in the 90s…I think it was the week that everywhere in the US had 90+ degree temps.  I brought that facial spray with me and it was a Godsend.  I used it everyday and my husband and son even used it after they played golf all day.  They loved it too.  I decided that I would buy some other facial sprays to do a comparison and it was a great investment.


Nu Skin NaPCA Moisture Mist – This is the first facial spray that I purchased.  I got it on Amazon.  It is very refreshing on a hot day.  It is cool and feels wonderful.  The bottle is a regular pump sprayer.  I would definitely recommend this product.

Spring Water

LaRoche-Posay Thermal Spring Water – I purchased this one at Target (no compensation for purchasing product) and I also love this one.  It is similar to the NuSkin except it has a continuous spray which is nice when you want to cover a larger area.  It is also cool and refreshing.  Feels wonderful on a hot day.  I throw it in my bag for after barre workouts and after spinning.

Toning Spritz
100% Organic

Boots Botanics Rosewater Toning Spritz – I also bought this one at Target (no compensation).  This one is different right off the bat.  It has a subtle rose scent and I would say this is more for your skin care regimen because it is a toner not just a spring water spritz.  It is also refreshing, but I use it in the morning and before bed after I cleanse my face.  It’s nice and light for the summer.

3 Refreshing Facial Sprays that you will LOVE Click To Tweet

What do you do for skin refreshment on a hot day?

*affiliate links are included in this post*

Essential Oils – Part V

It is astounding how many chemicals we are exposed to every single day.  In hopes of decreasing that number, I have been making some DIY essential oil products for my home.  The internet has so many great resources for essential oils and it can be overwhelming.  I just wanted to write another post to break it down a little and share the products that have been successful for me.  I hope you try some of them and are as pleased as I have been with adopting an essential oil lifestyle.

Hand Soap


Hand Soap : I used the recipe from Happy Mothering.  I got the exact hand soap pump as pictured in the post for $4.99 at TJ Maxx.  I LOVE this hand soap…smells great and makes your hands feel so clean.  A definite success.  I usually pay about $4.99 for each hand soap that I usually buy, so to pay that price for the pump and then I can just refill it for pennies, it’s so worth it.

Carpet Freshener

Carpet Freshener :  This recipe is from the Frugal Girls.  The tip about the parmesan cheese top on a mason jar works like a charm.  You can use any EO that you like.  I am currently using lavender, but can change it as the baking soda is used up.

Dryer Sheets

Dryer Sheets :  I used the recipe from View from the Fridge.  I bought a kitchen towel at Dollar Tree and cut it into little squares.  I used a mason jar to store the liquid and towel squares.  The squares frayed a bit after the first use, but the whole towel didn’t fit in the jar so I have lots of extra squares.  Also, I can just throw them out if they get really bad and buy another towel for $1.  The scent on the clothes after drying them was very subtle, which I like.  Some dryer sheets are just too overpowering for me not to mention they are FULL of chemicals.

Toilet Fizzies

Ice Cube Trays

Toilet Fizzies:  This recipe was from One Good Thing by Jillee.  I bought the ice cube trays from Dollar Tree.  They were plastic with silicone bottoms so that you could easily pop out each fizzy when it was dry.  I put a little bit too much water in mine so they fizzed over the top of the ice cube tray.  They still work fine and they leave a nice clean scent after they fizz.  I bought the citric acid on Amazon .

I buy most of my essential oils from Eden’s Garden .  I have had great luck with this company and they ship quickly.  I have also bought some EOs on Amazon.  Just put the EO you want in the search bar and many choices will appear.  My next DIY is some calming EOs for my dog who has extreme anxiety about fireworks and thunder storms.  Stay tuned for part Vl of my essential oils series. (This post contains affiliate links although the companies I listed within the post have not given me any products to write my post.)

What is your favorite use for essential oils?

The Versatile, Must-Have Jewelry: GingerSnaps

When I was on vacation in South Carolina last week, I, of course, went shopping.  We have been going to SC for 10 years so I have just about every shirt and sweatshirt from there.  I always look for something unique that reminds me of my favorite place.  I found the something on this trip…it is a jewelry and accessory line called Ginger Snaps.  I know that this line is not exclusive to my vacation destination, but I discovered it there so it is a fun reminder of my favorite place.

What is unique about this product is that you buy a bracelet, ring, necklace, wallet, shoes and you can change the look of it in a “snap”.  A snap, as in quick and snap as in an actual metal snap.  The snaps are tight on the products so you can also buy a guitar pick product to help remove the snap when you want to change them.  It will save your finger nails:)

snap 4 snap 6 snap 5

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I chose an adjustable bracelet because the round metal bracelet was too big for my wrist.  I love it and I have gotten so many compliments on it’s beauty and versatility.

Adjustable cord bracelet


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After I bought the bracelet, I immediately went and checked out the Ginger Snaps website.  I was not disappointed.  If you sign up with your email, you get an immediate coupon for 15% off anything on the site.  The coupon is good for 30 days.  They also have occasional online sales.  A few days later, I had to go back to the store and get another snap before I left to go home.


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The Versatile, Must-Have Jewelry: GingerSnaps Click To Tweet

I did receive free Ginger Snaps for writing this post, but I would have written a post regardless of the receiving the products because I love them that much.  So many snaps to choose from…it was a hard decision.  Please give this company a visit…they have a great product.

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What Ginger Snap products would you love to add to

your jewelry/accessory collection?  

My Happy Place ll: Surfside Beach, SC

We always come to Surfside Beach in April (see previous post), but we’ve never come in the summer.  As many of our friends said when we told them we were coming in July…”Why would you go to SC in July…it’s not hot enough at home?”  Well…we came for several reasons.  #1 – We love it here!!!,  #2 – My son can golf for FREE with an adult, #3 – Rentals across the street or on the beach are so much cheaper than driving 1-2 hours from home for a vacation.  The ONLY drawback is the drive…it was 18 hours, but we stayed over night and it really isn’t that bad when you break it up.


We found our rental through a realty agency and were disappointed with their customer service.  We decided that we were going to come to SSB late so when I checked VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner) most rentals in our price range were gone.  If we decide to come again next summer, I will definitely book earlier.  The rental we chose was great…I have no problem with the rental.  It was the service from the rental agency that was not acceptable.  We were directly across from the beach with an ocean view and it cost less than if we drove to a place 2 hours from home which was not even near the beach.  So worth it!!!   IMG_6652

Another perk when coming in the summer is that many of the activities that aren’t available in April are open.  For instance, water parks, water sports (including parasailing and banana boat rides) and there are more  frequently scheduled boat trips.  We took advantage of the dolphin watch out of Crazy Sister Marina in Murrell’s Inlet.  It was a brand new boat with a knowledgeable staff.  It took us a while to find the dolphins, but when we found them…there were quite a few.  The boat ride itself was awesome and be sure to put sunscreen on your face because even though it is cool and breezy out on the water, you are getting a ton of sun.  (Sorry about the bad picture, I’m an awful photographer on a rocking boat:)


Golf is everywhere down here and my husband and son were in their glory.  Many of the courses are free for 16 and under with a paying adult.  My husband paid $54 for both of them plus a cart which is cheaper than paying for just himself and a cart at home.  I gave him a round of golf at a course that he’s wanted to go to and it was not included in the juniors golf free program…Prestwick Golf Club.  It was still cheaper than most of the courses at home if he had to pay for both of them and a cart.  I used to book the tee time.  Very simple and you can sign up to get emails about special deals. IMG_6687

Okay…yes…and you have to eat…right?!  There is no shortage of restaurants and cafes.  It is crazy how many places there are to eat.  Most of them are busy too…if you go to a place at dinner time and it isn’t busy, you should probably rethink going there:)  I have a favorite restaurant in Myrtle Beach and a favorite restaurant in Murrell’s Inlet.  My favorite in MB is Margaritaville.  Yes it is a chain and yes it is one of the millions of products from Jimmy Buffett, but I LOVE it and we have to go every time we are in this area.  The dinner wait was ridiculous, but  if you go for lunch or go early for dinner there is usually no wait or a short wait.  The Cheeseburger in Paradise and Volcano Nachos are yummy.  I am partial to the Margarita Flight.  If you do have to wait, you can take a walk around Broadway at the Beach.


Lastly, there is Creek Ratz in Murrells Inlet.  It is a fun little place that has live music just about every night.  They have seafood, salads, sandwiches and raw bar.  Their hush puppies are yummy and the view is second to none.  If you like a place with a great atmosphere, this is your kind of place.

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Where is your go-to vacation spot?

5 Healthy Muffin Recipes to Energize your Mornings

I LOVE muffins…there I said it.  Of course, one muffin can be more calories than some meals and contain a  lot of sugar.  For that reason, I make my own.  I make them and then freeze them and take one out each morning to have with my breakfast.  I have included 5 of my favorite muffin recipes that I have collected across numerous blogs.  I am NOT a cook and really don’t know how to write a recipe on my own so I have included yummy recipes that others have perfected:)

*Flourless Oatmeal Banana Muffins from A Hungry Soul

These are my favorite…I have one EVERY morning.

*Breakfast Oatmeal Cupcakes from Chocolate Covered Katie

A nutritionist told me about the Chocolate Covered Katie website.  She makes everything into a healthier version of itself and these “cupcakes” are included in that healthier version category…and who doesn’t want a cupcake for breakfast:)

*Zucchini Oat Greek Yogurt Muffins from Running With Spoons

I LOVE zucchini based breads and muffins.  I also love that there is a minimal amount of flour in this recipe.  Add some dark chocolate chips for a little more sweetness.

*Better Than Ever Banana, Yogurt, and Carrot Muffins from My Nearest and Dearest

When you can get a fruit, a veggie AND yogurt all in one muffin, I am all for it.

*Flourless Chocolate Zucchini Muffins from Running With Spoons

Chocolate in anything…need I say more…AND it’s healthy:)

What is your go-to breakfast staple?

The Must-Have App for Road Trips

Our summer vacation this year was a 14 16 18 hour road trip from MA to SC.  In the past, I’ve ordered a Triptik from AAA, but I have found them to be confusing and they give you only one way to get to your destination.  You could also use Mapquest, your car GPS or Google maps on your phone, but they don’t always give you great alternate routes either.  That is where the Waze app comes in.



You can download the app from the app store and make sure you set it up before you start your trip.  You sign up for a free account and you can pick a username.  Then you are all ready to use the app.  I used it as the passenger so it was easy for me to switch between different features in the app.  There is actually a screen that says don’t use it as a driver so it is much more useful if you aren’t traveling alone.

First of all, this app is like Pokemon Go for adults (adults who don’t play Pokemon Go, that is).  You can earn different avatars and bonuses.  You can go up levels and message other “wazers”.  It is actually kind of fun when you are on a really long road trip.  Again….this is more for the passenger than the driver.  You would have to pull into a rest area to set it up if you were alone.


Great features:

1 – Other travelers make note of traffic, police, accidents, hazards, places, gas prices, etc.  You can also make note of those things on the app.  You can find the cheapest gas prices in the area:)

2 – The app will find alternate routes for you to use in the case of traffic, hazards, accidents etc.  (We hit A LOT of traffic so it was a life saver for us.  One detour had us literally driving through parking lots and around farms.  It kept us moving AND we got to see the countryside that we wouldn’t have seen on the highway.)  She (we kept calling the app “she” because of the female voice.) would tell you when cars were on the side of the road and when to turn.

3 – You can message other “wazers” during your trip, which can make the time go a little faster.


So…Mapquest said the trip would be 14 hours and 40 minutes and it ended up being around 18 hours due to traffic.  There tends to be a lot of traffic in the summer, but I appreciate that the Waze app tells you the ACTUAL time it will take…not some magical, no traffic, no hazard over the speed limit time that other map websites and apps promise you.

What is on your list of road trip must-have apps?


Beach Bag Essentials

To piggy back on my last post of visiting the beach, I wanted to write a post on the most important things in my beach bag.  First of all, I have the best beach bag ever!!!  I got it from Viv and Lou and I love it.  They always have sales, although the regular price on it is reasonable to begin with.  I LOVE anchors so this was the one for me and it is so roomy that you could also use it for a weekend away. IMG_5556


Sunscreen – this should definitely be the first item put into everyone’s beach bag.  I use the Walmart Equate brand and I have no complaints.  I love the continuous spray and the 2 pack is very inexpensive.  I love the scent of it and it does a great job of blocking those bad rays.

Floppy Hat – I love my floppy hat and you see them all over the beach.  You don’t have to feel silly about wearing them because EVERYONE wears them.  I actually got my Panama Jack hat at TJ Maxx, but they are reasonably priced on the Panama Jack website.  They are all very cute, too:)  May need to get another one.

Lip Balm with SPF – My lips are very sensitive to the sun.  If I don’t wear lip balm with SPF, I get sun poisoning on my lips and it is soooooooo painful.  I never go out in the sun without lip balm with SPF.  I love the Hawaiian Tropic brand because it has SPF 45, one of the highest SPFs I have seen in a lip balm.  I also love the scent/taste.

Aloe Vera Gel – Inevitably many of us forget to re-apply sunscreen or miss spots with the sunscreen.  That is where aloe vera gel comes in.  My absolute favorite aloe vera gel is Trader Joe’s brand.  It smells isn’t super sticky and it calms your hot skin like nothing else.  I won’t use any other brand now that I have found this.

****There are no affiliate links in this post.  I am just sharing products that I like and that I feel will be helpful and useful to others.****

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What are the must haves in your beach bag?