Wine Me Up

Did you know that tomorrow is National Picnic Day? (Don’t worry, neither did I.) But when Beso Del Sol Sangria wanted to send me a box of wine to help us celebrate the occasion, who was I to turn them down? I was a bit skeptical at first but don’t be fooled, this isn’t your stereotypical boxed wine.

Created from a combination of red wine with Mediterranean fruit extracts and sugar, Beso Del Sol Sangria is the first premium 100% natural sangria with a bag-in-a-box on the market. In addition to a great taste, Beso Del Sol is a fantastic value – each 3L box is the equivalent of four bottles of 750ml bottles! (That’s a lot of wine…even for me :P) The packaging is light and easily portable – easily fitting in a backpack or picnic basket. Additionally, the technology used ensures that each sip stays fresh for up to six weeks after opening…just in case you’re not ready to drink all 3L in one sitting. But the best part? Each box of Beso Del Sol retails for about $20! Where can you get 4 bottles of wine for $20? (Um, if you do know a place like this, send the info my way!)

beso-del-sol-sangria

We shared the box with our neighbors during a game night. We added in pear, orange, and green apple, but the taste still was a bit too tame for me. However, our neighbor had a differing opinion, saying it had an astringient aftertaste. Neither the JA nor I picked up on that, but it could also be that the wine wasn’t fully chilled or that the fruit was affecting her glass differently than ours. In the end, while the wine was great on it’s own, for me, it would also be good with a little added extra kick of brandy or other liquor.

All in all, I’d definitely recommend it as an on-the-go option this spring/summer. I see Beso Del Sol Sangria being a great option for outdoor concerts, tailgating, a barbecue, or for the beach! Connect with Beso Del Sol on Facebook and Twitter for more information.

Disclaimer: I was provided a complimentary box of Beso Del Sol Sangria for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Find this review helpful? Find others like it on my Reviews & Try It Tuesday page!

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Walk for a Dog

Last week, I saw a post from one of the local animal shelters here in Baltimore touting the fact that they had received money from WoofTrax – an app that donates to a local shelter for every mile you walk with your dog.

walk for a dog

“What is THIS?!” I practically shouted from my desk. I immediately downloaded the app, and have used it ever since. (Unfortunately, the app is only available for iPhones as of now but don’t fret – an Android app is in the works!)

This is super easy to use. I entered a bit of my contact information, and the app selected a shelter for me. Note: I used an affiliate link, so that might have been why it selected the shelter for me. You can change your preferred shelter at any time. That was it. I started walking and money’s being donated to a local dog shelter.

But what’s the catch? Is this money coming from your bank account? Nope. No catch. The app has sponsors who pay the shelter. All you have to do is walk.

What if I don’t have a dog? No problem! You can still walk in support of a shelter. Once Watson starts undergoing his heartworm treatment & walks become nonexistent, I’m still hoping to use the app to donate.

Watson says, “What are you waiting for? Walk for a Dog!”

W 1-17-14

This is a part of my Try It Tuesday series. I review products and the ones I love, I recommend to you. For more reviews, click here 🙂

Five Fitness Apps I Can’t Live Without

If you were to ask the JA one of his biggest pet peeves when it comes to my behavior it would be that I’m on my phone too much. Having a horrible computer (up until I got my brand new Mac for Christmas) put me in the bad habit of using my phone as a replacement. Yet, when it comes to fitness & health, it’s easier to track progress, find workouts, and stay motivated with apps! Below are a few of the apps I use on almost a daily basis:

Editor’s Note: This list obviously discounts social media apps like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – which I also can’t live without, but that’s for another day. All wording in italics is taken from app descriptions in iTunes or the apps website. I used iPhone information because that’s what I use. If you have an Android phone, a simple Google search should give you links for your device.

five fitness apps to try

fitsnap

FitSnap – FitSnap is an easy-to-use, free app that helps you create inspirational pictures from your workouts and other activities. Add your workout information on top of your photos to create beautiful images to share with your friends on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and more. I recently found this app in an article about photography and it’s quickly become one of my favorite fitness photo apps. Just plug in your workout information, choose a filter & layout and you’re done!

popsugar active

PopSugar Active – Your fitness life should be fun, fulfilling, and easy to create. Loaded with video workouts and photo tutorials, POPSUGAR Active is designed to meet your exercise needs. Love, love, love the video workouts. It’s great to have in my pocket when I feel uninspired. Also has treadmill workouts which are helpful to use in lieu of the machine presets.

rock my run

Rock My Run Home of the best running & workout music in the world, RockMyRun is scientifically provenÂŞ to help you perform better during your next workout, better enjoy that workout and save you time. Rocky My Run is an easy way to find a mix that will motivate you to go that extra mile. I downloaded this app and have been loving the variety of mixes it’s provided thus far. My top picks? Fist Pump Run and Grrl Power Vol. 2.

sworkit

Sworkit Sworkit takes you through 5-60 minute circuit training workouts requiring no equipment. Just choose what part of the body to workout and for how long. Options include strength training, cardio, stretching, yoga, and even an option to create custom workouts. I’m loving this app for my HIIT & circuit training. The voice prompts are spaced out long enough to keep me motivated, the illustrations help me figure out poses/moves I don’t know, and my workouts/results are easy to share across social media platforms.

map my run

Map My Run Real-time fitness tracking, at your fingertips, on your iPhone, no extra devices required. Our apps use your smartphone’s GPS to record every detail of your workout. Follow your route on an interactive map while logging time, distance, speed, pace, elevation and calories burned. I love my Timex Marathon GPS watch to track my running on a regular basis, but Map My Run is a lot quicker for when I want to get out the door instead of waiting for the watch to find a satellite. Also great for tracking my race times and, most importantly, for walks with the dog.

This is part of my Try It Tuesday series – where I review items/services that I’ve tried and enjoyed. For more, check out the Try It Tuesday page!

What are some fitness apps you can’t live without?

An Uber Happy New Year’s Eve

It’s New Year’s Eve, one of the biggest drinking nights of the year. It’s also a night that could end terribly if you or someone you know drinks & drives.

Therefore, today’s Try it Tuesday is Uber car service. Swanky enough that it feels like a treat, but safe enough to get you to your destination without a problem, Uber is available is 34 cities in North America (see the full list here), including Baltimore, Washington DC & New York.

uber

We used Uber as means to get to the airport prior to our Mexican getaway earlier this year. I had heard good things about the service and was eager to try it myself. Traveling on one of the busiest days of the year can be stressful, but I was thoroughly impressed by the whole experience.

It was just a few minutes to sign up and the iPhone app was extremely easy to use. We requested our car and I received a text confirming the order and then one once the car arrived at our home. Our driver was professional and very nice, the car was clean, and we arrived at the airport with plenty of time to spare.

I was a bit wary of using my credit card through the app, but not having to fumble around with cash at the end of the ride was worth it. It is Uber’s policy that the driver’s tip is included in the cost so don’t worry, your driver should be taken care of!

Uber’s pricing does fluctuate depending on the popularity of the service, so the company’s provided some tips on how to keep you (and your budget) happy this New Year’s Eve. If you’re in Baltimore, we also have uberX – an even less expensive option than regular Uber.

Interested? Sign up here. (Affiliate link.) Still on the fence? Check out Uber’s blog, Facebook page, or Twitter feed for more info and user feedback.

Wishing you and yours a safe and joyous New Year’s Eve!

This is part of my Try It Tuesday series. Usually, it’s about items/services that I’ve tried and reviewed. For more, check out the Try It Tuesday page!

Uncommon Goods

We all have that person who either seems to have everything, buys things for themselves once the holiday sales start (I’m looking at you, Daddy Janks), or doesn’t express an interest in/want anything. It’s a struggle to find any, never mind the perfect gift.

Hopefully, UncommonGoods can help. This site was brought to my attention this weekend, after visiting a co-worker’s home. Apparently he is the KING of online shopping, but still found fun, unique gifts for his wife.

While I haven’t bought anything from the site (yet), here are a few things that are under $50 that I thought were pretty cool:

For the map lover (or new homeowner, perhaps?): Neighborhood Map Coasters

neighborhood coasters

For the chef: Elevate Kitchen Utensils

kitchen utensils

For the beer lover: Wooden Beer Tote with Bottle Opener

beer tote

For the techie: Portable iPhone Charger

portable iphone charger

There are plenty of other awesomely cool gifts on the site. As the company’s slogan states, “creative living. mindful giving.”

Happy shopping!

This is part of my Try It Tuesday series. Usually, it’s about items/services that I’ve tried and reviewed, but this was too good not to share. For more, check out the Try It Tuesday page!

Pumpkin Ricotta Mini-Cheesecakes

‘Tis the season…for pumpkin, that is. If you couldn’t tell from Friday’s post, I’m in a serious baking mood. We currently have muffins, cupcakes, and apple crisp, and these guys in our house. Too much delicious-ness, not enough time!

pumpkin cheesecake

Pumpkin Ricotta Mini-Cheesecakes (recipe from 500 Cupcakes)
Yields: 12-16 mini-cakes

1 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 tbsp. margarine, melted
2 tbsp. honey
3 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
3/4 cup (5 oz.) pumpkin pie filling
4 large eggs
1 1/2 c. confectioners sugar, sifted

1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Place 12 baking cups in muffin tun.
2. In food processor, combine cracker crumbs, margarine and honey. Spoon 1 tbsp. of mixture into baking cup, pressing firmly into bottom. Chill until set.
3. In a large bowl, beat ricotta with electric mixer until soft. Beat in eggs, confectioners sugar, and pumpkin.
4. Spoon mixture into cups. (2/3 full.)
5. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from pan and cool for 5 minutes.
6. Remove cupcakes and cool on rack. Chill until ready to serve.

Store covered in refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Notes: You may end up with more batter than crumb crust. (I did.) Estimated measurements and whipped up a smaller batch of crust. We can’t have leftover filling, can we? Also, I used Libby’s Pumpkin for the recipe and found that the first day, the cakes had a flan-like texture. Not something I look for in a cheesecake. After settling in the fridge overnight, the subsequent days gave us a more dense cake.

This post is part of my Try It Tuesday series. I find things I like and recommend them to you! For other Try It Tuesday posts, click here. If you have a suggestion for something you’d like me to try/review, contact me at justcallmejanks@gmail.com.

Hot Air

In yesterday’s post, I mentioned that in part of my prep for the wedding, I pampered myself and got my hair styled. I went to hot air, a blow dry bar located in Owings Mills. It was my first time getting my hair blown out and the first time in over five years that I’ve had someone besides my stylist touch my head.

Yes, I just said five years. Shelly’s been doing my hair for as long as I can remember. She’s my soul sister. She styled me for my wedding, she knows my ‘winter’ blonde, versus my ‘summer’ color, and she knows that I like volume but am scared of hair that’s too big. (I blame dance recitals for that one.)

In short, having someone else touch my hair is kind of a big deal. I made an appointment with Leah, and as soon as I walked in, I knew I would be in good hands. The atmosphere of the space itself is light and bright. I was offered a beverage upon walking in the door, and my purse was taken to the station where I’d be sitting.

photo from company website

photo from company website

photo from company website

photo from company website

I didn’t have a specific idea of what I wanted done with my hair, so when Leah told me that she wanted to do it curly and with volume, I told her to go for it. Why not? As long as everything held until the reception that night, I’d be good.

To be honest, when she finished, I was still a bit skeptical. It seemed big to me (even though it wasn’t). I went home, put on the dress and makeup and fell in love. I mean, I’m not one to brag, but I know when I look good.

JAs lumi wedding

True to Leah’s promise, the hair held through a night of twirling and dipping on the dance floor. Even the next day, it was still going strong!

day 2 hair

All in all, I’d recommend hot air for anyone looking for some pampering. Pricing was reasonable, staff was friendly, the space was clean and the hairstyle was fantastic! They also offer makeup services, so it could serve as a one-stop shop for a bridal party, birthday, or any special occasion.

This post is part of my Try It Tuesday series. I was in no way compensated for this post – just found something I liked and wanted to spread the word! For other Try It Tuesday posts, click here.