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I'm navigating through this round world while living a square life, and it fits exactly as it should.

Cravebox Review–Cooking Light Fast Meals Box

It’s time for another Cravebox review!  My first one can be found here.  This time it’s the Cooking Light Fast Meals Box.  This is the first time I’ve entered the drawing to get to purchase a box (what I call lotto for a box), which means it’s also the first time I’ve purchased a Cravebox without knowing its exact contents.  Truly, though, if you are interested in the overall theme, how can you go wrong?  I love light, healthy meals and snacks, and I love fast meals so $13 is a small gamble on something I’m already almost certain to love.

Cooking Light Fast Meals Cravebox

Cooking Light Fast Meals Cravebox

 This particular box contained the following:

  • Pop Chips Nacho Cheese Tortilla Chips (They were completely smashed but more on that later.)
  • 2 Chocolate Peanut Butter Zone Perfect bars
  • 2 Newtons Triple Berry flavored
  • 1 box of Equal packets
  • 1 box of Pure Via Stevia packets
  • 1 Variety Pack of Stash herbal teas 
  • 1 jar of McCormick Perfect Pinch Southwest Seasoning
  • 1 jar of McCormick Moroccan Seasoning
  • 2 coupons for a free full size box of Triscuit
  • 2 coupons for $1 off belVita Blueberry Biscuits
  • 2 coupons for $1 off Lean Cuisine Salad Additions
  • 2 coupons for 55 cents off Fresh Express Hearts of Romaine lettuce

    Contents of Cooking Light Fast Meals Cravebox

    Contents of Cooking Light Fast Meals Cravebox

Whew!  That’s a lot of stuff!  100 lucky box recipients also received a Cooking Light cookbook but my box was not one of them.

So let’s break this down.  The Zone bars are perfect for a snack, breakfast, or pre-workout fuel.  I use these types of bars on a regular basis so I was thrilled with these.  Newtons are something I haven’t eaten in years, but why?  I loved them as a child, and they are great for satisfying a sweet craving without sabotaging oneself.  So, thanks to Cravebox I have now been reintroduced to this snacking wonder.  Equal is not something I use but my mother does so I’ll give it to her.  Nothing goes to waste!  I haven’t tried Pure Via but with the ever-growing controversy surrounding artificial sweeteners, sure, I’ll try a natural sugar substitute.  Herbal tea: what’s not to love?  It’s healthy, comforting, and filling.  I will definitely be using the teas.  Southwest seasoning is something that I buy and keep on hand so I was happy to get this!  The Moroccan seasoning made me scratch my head for a second.  I didn’t quite know what to do with it, but I found the McCormick website to be an excellent resource for inspiration.  Also, as a part of their Pinterest contest, Cravebox emailed me a great Moroccan chicken recipe to serve with couscous, which I love!  I can’t wait to try it.  That will be dinner this Saturday night.  For more info on their Pinterest contest, visit the Cravebox website here.  Triscuits are also something I buy and use regularly (I like to top them with whipped cream cheese and my homemade hot pepper jelly).  So these are definitely appreciated.  At first, I completely dismissed the other coupons.  I’m not really a coupon lady so lots of times they just get tossed.  However, after participating in Cravebox’s Twitter party for the Fast Meals box, I’m ready to use my coupons.  I didn’t know Lean Cuisine had recently introduced their Salad Additions line.  I eat salad all the time, and I’m looking forward to trying this.  So if I’m going to try the Lean Cuisine Salad Additions, I might as well use the Fresh Express coupons to go with it!  Right?  I also had not heard of belVita biscuits.  From what I gathered at the Twitter party, they are kind of like a cookie and are great for snacking.  So I will be picking some of these up very soon. 

You may have noticed I skipped the Pop Chips.  Well, at first I was really disappointed because they were smashed.  Completely.  Crumbs is what they were. 

Flat Pop Chips, completely smashed into crumbs

Flat Pop Chips, completely smashed into crumbs

I tweeted Cravebox about it, and true to their excellent customer service, they tweeted back!  They said to contact them by email and they would make it right.  By then I had decided I was going to use them to top a casserole so there really was no need for them to do anything about it.  I was happy they seemed willing to, though.

So I was very happy with this box.  So much so that I have since entered the drawing for their next box, Girls Night In.  I was selected to receive it, too, and it shipped yesterday.  Yippee!  I also ordered the Bikini Ready Instant Box, and it should be delivered today.  It has the Fast Metabolism book in it (I was going to buy it anyway), which retails for between $14 and $16 itself plus shipping if you order it online.  So, for $16 I get the book and several other items I either use or am excited to try. 

Have you tried Cravebox yet?  What’s your favorite box?

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Fed Ex St. Jude Classic Fairway 5k and a PR

This morning I ran my first timed 5k in 6 months.  I don’t love the 5k distance.  I much prefer longer distances.  For me, running doesn’t usually become fun until around mile 5.  Until then I’m still trying to find my groove.  That’s why I haven’t done one in a while.  However, I read something not long ago that said if you want to run a fast half in the fall, you need to be running fast 5ks now.  So, hello, 5k!  I’m back with the inaugural Fed Ex St. Jude Classic Fairway 5k.

Banner welcoming us to the event

Banner welcoming us to the event

Starting Line

Starting Line

The Fed Ex St. Jude Classic is a pro golf tournament that is part of the PGA tour.  It’s held in June so I couldn’t make sense of why this race was 2 months before the tournament.  Well, for one, part of the race was on the golf course.  I’m sure they wouldn’t want 800 runners trampling through the course just days before the biggest golf tournament in Memphis.  Also, from what I could tell, they were using the 5k to promote the golf tournament.  We each got a ticket to the tournament in our race packets, and even the medal ribbon had the words, “Come Play” printed on it.  I thought it was clever of them to use a 5k to promote a larger event.

This was a very fun race!  I might even go so far as to say it’s my favorite local 5k.  The course was absolutely gorgeous!  The golf course itself is beautiful, and much of the race was through the residential area around the golf course.  Those houses are HUGE!  Running through a neighborhood full of multi-million dollar homes is how I’d like to start all my Saturdays.  It was a fairly flat course, but there were just enough hills and dips to keep it interesting.  I definitely felt like I had a workout, but didn’t feel like I was about to die.

The post race party was awesome, too!  Of course they had beer and pizza.

Beer!  Courtesy of Budweiser

Beer! Courtesy of Budweiser

Pizza from Dominos

Pizza from Dominos

Practically every race in Memphis does.  However, they also had McAlister’s iced tea, Smoothie King smoothies, Blue Bell ice cream sandwiches and popsicles, all kinds of fruit, and get this–Bloody Marys!

McAlisters tea

McAlisters tea

Smoothies from Smoothie King

Smoothies from Smoothie King

Blue Bell ice cream treats

Blue Bell ice cream treats

Bananas, orange slices, and apples

Bananas, orange slices, and apples

Bloody Marys--my favorite post race offering ever!

Bloody Marys–my favorite post race offering ever!

They were THE BEST post race beverages EVER!  They also had people handing out these fun foam visors and beads with a Fed Ex St. Jude Classic medallion on them.

Swag!

Swag!

The awards were really cute, too.  Instead of the traditional trophy, plaque, or medal, they awarded these “Hush” signs.

"Hush" sign awards--so cute!

“Hush” sign awards–so cute!

If you’ve ever been to a golf tournament, you will recognize them as signs the crew holds to quiet the crowd as a golfer is about to make a shot.  I thought that was really creative.

The finisher medal was really cool, too.

Finisher Medal

Finisher Medal

Most 5ks don’t give finisher’s medals, and when they do, they are nowhere near as nice as this one was.  I was very impressed with the bling.  The best part of the day, though, was that I got a PR.  It’s always a good day when a PR is involved.  This is a race I will definitely repeat in the future.  I have a feeling it will be much bigger next year.

Having a great time at the Inaugural Fed Ex St. Jude Classic Fairway 5k

Having a great time at the Inaugural Fed Ex St. Jude Classic Fairway 5k

What’s your favorite 5k?

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Crave Box Review

I’m back with another box subscription review.  I must say that I really have gotten into the box craze.  It may be a short-lived fad or it may be the next big, long-lasting trend.  For the moment, I’m having a good time with it.

This time it’s Crave Box.  I came across this box because Twitter suggested I follow it.  That Twitter!  She knows me so well!  I already follow House Party on Twitter and Twitter said it was similar to House Party.  It’s really not the slightest bit similar, but upon further investigation of the company, I found out that the former CEO of House Party is the current CEO of Crave Box.  So, there’s the connection.

What sets Crave Box apart from other box subscriptions is that it’s not a box subscription anymore.  Confusing?  Not really.  See, Crave Box started growing so fast, they had a hard time keeping up with demand.  So they not only reinvented themselves, they reinvented the entire box subscription concept.  Instead of a monthly subscription, members lotto for boxes they are interested in.  What does this mean?  It means Crave Box “curates” their boxes around certain themes.  They name the boxes and post descriptions on their website.  They open a window of time when interested members can sign up for a drawing to get the box.  If your name is chosen as a recipient, they send you a “congratulations” email, charge your card (or Crave Bucks account) and ship your box.  Don’t want to go through the lotto process?  Similar to some Ebay sellers, you can choose a “buy now” option and for a little more money, you are guaranteed the box of your choice.  Prices range from $13-$18 from what I can tell, depending on the box, and just like traditional box subscriptions, the exact contents are a surprise.

Another intriguing option is what they call “instant boxes”.  These boxes are leftovers from previous months’ lottos or newly curated boxes that may be in limited quantities.  Unlike the themed monthly boxes you lotto for, these boxes actually list all of the contents.  You give up the element of surprise, but if you see one you like, you are guaranteed to get what you are expecting.  Sort of.

In my case, I went ahead and signed up for this month’s box, Cooking Light’s Fast Meals.  I also saw an instant box I wanted to try, the Zatarain’s Big Game Box.  It contained 4 boxes of Zatarain’s rice mixes, 2 jars of creole seasoning, 2 jars of creole mustard, and 2 containers of True Lemon Iced Tea mix sweetened with Stevia.  It was only $15 including shipping so I ordered it.  The next day they emailed a shipping confirmation to me, and in a few days I got my box(es).  Much to my surprise, they shipped not one but TWO of the Zatarain’s boxes.

Outside of Zatarain's Crave Boxes

Outside of Zatarain’s Crave Boxes

Inside of Zatarain's boxes packaged all neatly

Inside of Zatarain’s boxes packaged all neatly

Contents of Zatarain's boxes

Contents of Zatarain’s boxes

That’s not all.  They also shipped TWO additional boxes filled with Axe hair care products for men!

Outside of Axe boxes

Outside of Axe boxes

Inside of Axe Boxes, same neat packaging

Inside of Axe Boxes, same neat packaging

Contents of Axe Clean Cut Box

Contents of Axe Clean Cut Box

Contents of Axe Spiked-Up box

Contents of Axe Spiked-Up box

I felt like I for real hit the lotto, but I knew there must be some mistake.  I checked my email and had not gotten an email receipt.  I then checked my credit card.  It had only been charged the $15 I authorized.  I looked at the packing list and it clearly stated 1 instant box ordered but listed 4 boxes shipped.  I did the right thing and contacted the company to see what they wanted me to do with all of this extra stuff.  They sent me a reply apologizing for the mix-up and thanking me for reaching out.  They said they didn’t want me to go through the trouble to ship it back and to please keep it and enjoy it.  Now, I am in no way implying that if you order a Crave Box, you, too, might get lucky and get a bunch of extra stuff.  I am saying, though, that this goes a long way toward my wanting to continue ordering their boxes.

Extra love aside, I was very happy with the box I ordered.  These are all products I use, and well worth the $15 spent.  I used some of the tea right away.  It was very refreshing with just a hint of real lemon.  I can see why they call it True Lemon.  It did not taste artificial at all.  It was also slightly sweet, but not too sweet.  I’m really looking forward to making a sandwich with the creole mustard next.  I’m thinking a pretzel bun with roast beef, cheddar, carmelized onions and the mustard.

Something else that makes Crave Box fun is their Twitter interaction.  The first day I found Crave Box, they had a Twitter contest going.  You had to retweet about their Cooking Light Fast Meals box and they chose 4 winners to receive $15 Crave Bucks.  Lucky me was a winner!  I think Crave Box must just really love me!  This came in handy a few days later when I received my “congratulations” email that I had been chosen as a recipient of the Cooking Light Fast Meals box.  They deducted $13 from the $15 Crave Bucks they gave me from winning the Twitter contest.  So once I get that box, I will have received 5 Crave Boxes and will have only paid $15 for one of them.  Yep.  I’d say I’m loving Crave Box so far.

Have you tried Crave Box?  What do you think of it?  What’s your favorite box subscription?

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Things I Like Thursday–The runDisney Food Box

At the end of pretty much any race or other running event, most runners look forward to a snack of some sort. For me this has been anything from a tiny shot glass serving of soup (I’m not kidding) to a full on barbecue meal. I’ve had some great food after races, and I’ve had some major disappointments. At runDisney events, food boxes are always given out along with a banana, bottled water, and bottled Powerade. I always look forward to getting my food box. Sometimes I don’t want a thing to eat for hours after a run and sometimes I’m completely ravenous. I never know which it’s going to be until I’m finished, and runDisney food boxes always hit the spot. I can save it for later or I can crack it open and nosh on something immediately.

My first and second runDisney food box experiences were after the 2012 Happy Haunted 5k and the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10 Miler held later that same day. The boxes were identical and nothing went to waste. Here is what they looked like.

runDisney Food Box

runDisney Food Box

This is exactly what the food box looked like when it was opened.

This is exactly what the food box looked like when it was opened.

They contained the following:

  • Snap energy candies
  • Almond Rocca (my favorite!)
  • Clif Builders protein bar
  • Sweet Perry Trek Trio snack mix
  • Multi-grain gluten-free crackers
  • Hickory Farms white cheese spread
  • Moist Towelette (Don’t you just love saying “moist towelette”?)
Contents of the food box from the 2012 Happy Haunts 5k and Tower of Terror 10 Miler

Contents of the food box from the 2012 Happy Haunts 5k and Tower of Terror 10 Miler

I enjoyed all of it, though I didn’t eat it all in one sitting. This is exactly the type of food I snack on so it was right up my alley!

After the 2013 Disney Princess Half Marathon, I got another box. It looked identical to the others so this time I’ll show you the back of it, which had upcoming race information printed on it.

This is the back of the food box.

This is the back of the food box.

This is the 2012 Princess Half Marathon food box when opened.

This is the 2012 Princess Half Marathon food box when opened.

The contents were similar to my previous boxes and contained the following:

  • Organic dark chocolate
  • Luna protein bar, chocolate
  • Multi-grain gluten-free crackers
  • Wild Garden humus spread
  • Sweet Perry Power Play seed mix
  • Sweet Perry Baja Blend snack mix
  • Moist Towelette
Contents of 2012 Princess Half Marathon food box

Contents of 2012 Princess Half Marathon food box

I loved that the box seemed to be chocolate focused, totally princess-like! However, I didn’t eat any of it right after the race. It did make for several tasty snacks later on, though. I also think it would be a great snack for the airplane ride home after the race. Wish I’d thought of that earlier!

What do you think of the runDisney food boxes? What is your favorite after-race snack or meal?

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Blog Rewind Wednesday–Feeling Like A Runner

I often get asked at what point I began to feel like a runner.  For me, getting there was a process.  I can’t say there was any one moment when I realized I was a runner.  Rather, there was a series of events that cumulatively contributed to my identifying myself as a runner.

When I first began, I wanted to be invisible.  I didn’t want people to look at me and think I just needed to give it up like there was no hope.  I suppose I had a case of something like I’ll-go-to-the-gym-when-I-lose-weight syndrome.  So I would run a lot at night when it was dark.  When I started building my distances I’d find trails and times that weren’t very busy.  Eventually I got more comfortable around other runners and realized that no one was paying any attention to me.  They were all too busy focusing on their own activity, and I was perfectly happy with this.  I began to relax a lot more.  After a few months, I started noticing the same people on my favorite paths.  There was super-intense-girl who was always running no matter what day or time it was.  There was the old man who always nodded his head as our paths crossed.  There was super cool guy on the elliptical bike.  There were dog owners walking their dogs, kids riding bikes, moms with their jogging strollers.  I could go on and on.  I began to love the familiarity of it.  It didn’t occur to me that if I was noticing them, they were probably noticing me a little, too.  If that had occurred to me, I probably would have stopped going, sadly.  Fortunately, I didn’t realize this until I reached the point when I no longer cared what others thought.  For me, this was the first step in feeling like a runner.

A few months into my training, I signed up for a local 5k that also had a half marathon as an option.  I went to packet pick up and gave my name to the volunteer.  I figured he would assume I was doing the 5k and start looking for my packet in that file.  No, he asked which race I was doing.  Um, the 5k of course, but thank you for thinking I could be doing the half marathon.  His response was that I could do it as long as I train for it.  I shared with him my plans to complete the St. Jude half later on in the year and that it would be my first half.  He congratulated me on picking a great race to start with and wished me the best of luck with my training.  That was the first time I admitted to anyone other than friends and family what I was trying to do.  Having the confidence to tell complete strangers what I was doing was the next step in feeling like a runner.

One morning in August 2012, I met the St. Jude Heroes running group at my local park in training for the St. Jude Half Marathon and Marathon.  As I was stretching before the run, a guy began stretching next to me and asked me which running group I was with.  I looked around, thinking there was no way he could be talking to me.  Surely he cannot possibly think I was a runner.  Sure enough, it was me he was talking to so I answered him.  He was there with a different group and we chatted for a moment before it was time for our runs to begin.  It was a great feeling to be recognized as a fellow runner and was another step in feeling like a runner.

One of the great things about training as a St. Jude Hero is that it gives you access to the national St. Jude Heroes running coach, Kevin Leathers.  So a few weeks after that group run encounter, I asked Coach Leathers about how to warm up before the race.  He asked me if I was doing the half or the full.  Um, the half of course!  As if there was any way possible I could ever do a full!  I was shocked that was a question he would even ask but flattered at the same time.  A national running coach with 20-something years experience had just asked if I was doing a full marathon!  Being acknowledged by such a respected industry professional definitely was a major step in my feeling like a runner.  By the way, his answer was to not bother with warming up the morning of the race.  Using only the walk to the start as a warm up would help prevent me from starting out too fast.

Then several weeks after that, I was again out at the park for a long run.  A woman came up to me as I was filling up my water bottle and asked me how far I was running that day.  After I answered her she said, “you’ve been doing this for a while.  Do you mind if I ask you some questions?  I haven’t been doing this as long as you have.”  And she proceeded to pick my brain on pacing, hydration, fuel, and several other subjects that I confidently could offer help with.  At that moment, with this encounter, I had finally come full circle.  Gone was the girl who wanted to be invisible.  Gone was the girl who assumed no one took her seriously.  There I was, a runner, from whom knowledge was being solicited, and I was thrilled to share.

If you are a runner, when did you begin to feel like one?

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Bulu Box Review

The world of box subscriptions is becoming ever more popular!  You can get a box for pretty much any special interest you can think of: gourmet food, health and fitness items, beauty products, and I’ve even heard you can get monthly lingerie and adult intimacy items as well, all in a monthly box subscription.  I had never even heard of a box subscription until January of this year, and when I did, I was totally intrigued.  You already know I really love my swag, and box subscriptions are like getting a monthly delivery of your very own swag, except you pay for it.

Here is how they work.  You find a company that distributes products you are interested in, sign up on their website, and wait for your first shipment.  Some are monthly.  Some are every other month.  There is even one I recently found out about that lets you lotto for boxes you are interested in, no subscription required.  They all vary in prices, and of course they also vary in quality.

Bulu Box is one of the first I heard about.  Someone tweeted about it and included a link to get your first box free.  I love free, so I went for it!  I figured there was probably a catch, like a commitment to keep your subscription for so many months in order to get your free box.  There was no catch, and it really was free.  I did have to begin my subscription and give my credit card number, but you can cancel at any time, even after your first free box.

Bulu Box is a monthly subscription of vitamins and supplements.  For $10 a month, they promise to deliver 4-5 premium samples in their box.  You can also choose a weight loss box and since that one was more appealing to my interests, I chose it instead.  It is also $10 monthly and also 4-5 premium samples, according to their website.

It painfully seemed to take forever to get my first box.  I like instant gratification, and I really tend to favor companies with quick shipping.  Upon further investigation of the matter, I found out that how quickly your first box arrives depends on when you subscribe.  Apparently they only ship once a month so if you order right around the cutoff date, it might be a month before it even gets shipped.  I was about to give up on my free box but one day I came home to finally find this on my doorstep.

This is exactly how the Bulu Box arrives.  The shipping label is on the bottom.

This is exactly how the Bulu Box arrives. The shipping label is on the bottom.

This is what the box looks like with all items inside.

This is what the box looks like with all items inside.

I was super excited to find out what all was inside.  My box contained the following:

  • Dream Water Pineapple flavor to help you sleep (may eventually try)
  • One Red Stinger appetite suppressant (probably will never use)
  • One Prolab Quick Fire energy drink mix (may eventually try or give away)
  • A pack of XyloBurst Xylitol Gum Green Tea flavor (probably will try)
  • A tiny packet of Barlean’s Omega Swirl Fish Oil (probably will never use)
  • Redd Remedies energy capsule (probably will never use)
  • $50 iTRAIN gift card (may use)
  • A cute little sticker (will likely keep for a while but eventually will get tossed)
  • 5 recipe cards (not a single recipe sounded like something I would make)
  • An information brochure explaining what each of the products is for (informative since I’d never heard of any of this stuff before)

    Here are all the items from the box.

    Here are all the items from the box.

So as you can tell, there were more than 4-5 samples in the box.  You can decide for yourself whether you would consider them “premium” or not.  The cumulative total value is way more than the $10 I would have paid had it not been free to try.  The problem is there was not a single thing in the box I was excited about.  I chew gum a lot so that’s the item I am most likely to use.  I only say I may try the Dream Water because I read another review of it that said it works like a charm.  The drink mix may get used, but I don’t typically use drink mixes or energy drinks.  What I would use out of the box is definitely not worth $10 to me.

I ended up cancelling my subscription after this one free box, and I’m really glad I didn’t pay for it.  I think it would be a good subscription for someone who is more interested in this type of product than I am.  The box delivered on what it promised so I have no complaints there.  Cancellation was also easy and hassle-free.  If you know someone who is a subscriber, they can give you a link for your first free box.  So, definitely try it for yourself if these types of products appeal to you.

If you’ve tried Bulu Box, what did you think of it?  What is your favorite box subscription?

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