A Style & Savings Guide to Birthday Freebies

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Whether you’re celebrating your 21st birthday, or looking fondly looking back on those days, birthdays are always a reason to celebrate!

Birthdays are a time to reflect, to be grateful for another year , and to time spent with people who make you happy.

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Indulging on your special day doesn’t have to be expensive. There are plenty of stores and restaurants that offer free gifts for your birthday.

All of these treats require minimal effort to create an account by signing up with an email address. If you don’t already, I would suggest setting up a separate email account for store coupons and rewards cards.

Some of the treats don’t have to be collected on your actual birthday – so you can extend your celebration all month long!

Breakfast


Panera – Sign up for MyPanera and get a Free Pastry reward added to your account. The offer is good until 1 week after your birthday.

Starbucks – Sign up for Starbucks Rewards to receive a Free Drink, of your choice in any size. Must redeem on your actual birthday, offer is only good for 1 day.

Lunch


Firehouse Subs – Sign up for the Firehouse Subs rewards program to receive a Free Medium Sub. The offer is loaded to your account immediately and is good for up to 6 days after your birthday.

Shopping Trip


Sephora – Once you sign up for Sephora’s Beauty Insider Rewards, you will receive an offer for a Free Birthday Gift, which is a small sample size of a popular brand-name beauty product.

Auntie Anne’s Pretzels – Must sign up before your birthday month begins to receive a Free Classic Pretzel for your birthday. This perk is automatically loaded to your account on the first day of your birthday month and you have until the end of the month to use it

Dinner & Dessert


Applebee’s – Sign up for Applebee’s email club to receive a Buy One, Get One Free Entrée reward, good for up to 30 days after your birthday. Bring a friend!

Chili’s – My Chili’s Rewards members receive a Free Dessert birthday reward

Olive Garden – Olive Garden eClub members receive a Free Dessert on birthdays

Cold Stone Creamery – Join Cold Stone Club Rewards to get a Buy One, Get One Free Ice Cream offer added to your rewards account. Bring your bestie : ) The reward is available 1 week before your birthday and can be used up to 1 week after

*Note: There are other restaurants not mentioned above that will give free dessert on your birthday if you ask!

What are your favorite Birthday Freebies?

Where do you like to celebrate?

 

 

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Lemon White Chocolate Cheesecake

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It’s time for another edition of “Glossies Made Me Do It”.  Link up with Happy Pretty Sweet or Shooting Stars Mag to join the fun

 Redbook’s April issue has Jessica Alba as the cover girl, wearing a floral blouse and jeans – a casual, laid-back springtime look.

An ad in this issue made me bake The Perfect Cheesecake

I spent Saturday afternoon in my Grandmother’s kitchen with my Auntie – the Queen of desserts. She likes to try new dessert recipes and also has some go-to specialties like my favorite coconut cake, so I knew this would be a fun activity for us to do together.

 

 

 The vintage mixer pictured above was given to my Grandparents as a wedding present                At 61 years old, this mixer is still doing its job  – they don’t make ’em like this anymore!

 

The original magazine recipe is for 12 individual cupcake-size cheesecakes. We decided to make a full size cheesecake instead. Using a pre-made piecrust decreases prep time, but a full-size cheesecake needs to bake much longer in the oven than the cupcake- size cheesecakes would.

Next time I make this dessert, I will swap the cream cheese for calorie-saving Neufchatel cheese. Eight ounces of Neufchatel cheese is 70 calories compared to 100 calories for the same amount of cream cheese.


Ingredients:

1 package (4oz.) Baker’s White Chocolate

1 Shortbread piecrust

2 packages (8oz. each) Philadelphia Cream Cheese

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

2 lemons  (1/4 cup of juice, 1 tsp. zest)

2 eggs


Instructions:

Heat oven to 325 degrees

Melt 2oz. white chocolate (microwave for 1 minute and 30 seconds) and set aside

Mix cream cheese, vanilla, and sugar in a large bowl

Add lemon juice, lemon zest, and melted chocolate

Add eggs, 1 at a time with the mixer on a low speed

Pour pie filling into shortbread pie crust

Bake for 50 minutes, then cool completely

Melt remaining 2oz. white chocolate

Drizzle white chocolate on top of the cheesecake

Sprinkle additional lemon zest for decoration

Refrigerate  for 2 hours

Serve & Enjoy!

 

Linking up with The Blended Blog for Tasty Tuesday

A Wrinkle in Time

On the March issue of Oprah Magazine, Oprah shares the cover with her co-stars of the new movie A Wrinkle in Time. Seeing some of my favorite Hollywood stars together made me want to go see this movie.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle is a Newberry Award winning children’s fiction book that was recently made into a movie directed by Ava DuVernay  and starring Oprah, Mindy Kaling, Reese Witherspoon and Storm Reid.

I have a vague feeling that I read it in elementary school, but since I didn’t remember the plot I decided to read it before seeing the movie. I searched for it on the library website – I have been making great use of the public library lately, having access to so many books for free is wonderful! (#styleandsavings)

Of course there was  a waiting list, but I was happily surprised when it was available for me to pick up a week before the movie came out. Luckily, A Wrinkle in Time is a quick read and I was able to start reading on Monday and finish it by Friday evening.

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A Wrinkle in Time has really withstood the test of time – probably because when it was written it was decades ahead of it’s time. The main characters are strong women. They are not waiting to be rescued by any man – they have the insight, intelligence and bravery to be the rescuers. I’m sure that Mrs. Murray being both a scientist and a mother was not a typical trait in children’s books of the 1960’s.

Most times when I read a book and see the movie, I like the book better. There’s usually something in the book that the movie leaves out or a major change that I wish they had kept the same.

This time was an exception to the rule – I liked the movie so much more than the book. There were a few very noticeable differences that I’ll refrain from spoiling for those of you who haven’t seen it yet, but they didn’t make me like the movie less.

Besides the beautiful scenery, what I liked most about this movie was the diverse cast. Diversity was present not only in the main characters Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who,  Mrs. Which and the Murray family, but also in the background characters in the neighborhood, at school, in Mr. & Mrs. Murray’s science conference and even in the other parts of the universe.

In the Oprah magazine article “Brave New Worlds” director Ava Duvernay says “When you’re dealing with fantasy, storytellers have no excuse not to embrace new visions”.

If you haven’t had a chance to see A Wrinkle in Time  – I recommend a trip to the theater. This is a good reason to spend an afternoon with friends or to inspire a younger girl in your life.

Life According to Steph

Linking up with Happy Pretty Sweet and Shooting Stars Mag  for “Glossies Made Me Do It”  and Jana Says and Life According to Steph for “Show Us Your Books”

Previous months of glossy posts can be found here

More Wine Please !

 

Image Credit: Redbook.com

 

The pastel pink dress worn by Redbook’s March cover girl Gabrielle Union made me feel relieved that spring time is just around the corner!

Gabrielle Union has had a long acting career, but I am most familiar with her character Mary Jane Paul of  BET’s Being Mary Jane. For those of you who have yet to tune in, the show is about fictional news anchor Mary Jane Paul and the challenges she faces as she climbs to the top of her career, struggles to date & keep the right man, and takes care of her family members in Atlanta who have various issues of their own.

Recently, Gabrielle Union has also gained fame for writing a memoir titled We’re Going to Need More Wine Stories, which was my February book club pick. In 2017, I found myself reading lots of memoirs by celebrities including Gabourey Sidibe, Joanna & Chip Gaines, Lauren Graham, and Mindy Kaling. Each of these books was entertaining, had moments of humor and gave insight to what their lives were like and obstacles they overcame before they became famous.

Wine

This book was so real and honest. She really didn’t  hold back on taboo topics or embarrassing stories. On an episode of Essence Magazine’s Yes Girl! podcast, Gabrielle mentioned that the book was partially the result of notes from therapy sessions.

Many of her stories are painful to read, but were topics that were worth discussing. Many women would find at least some elements of her stories to be relatable such as feeling out of place in her community, coming of age, relationships with men, and not feeling attractive relative to culturally narrow-minded beauty standards. While this book addressed difficult topics, having the courage to talk about them is the way women can help each other and make others feel that they are not alone in the struggles they face.

Seeing Gabrielle Union’s stylish outfits in the Redbook magazine article made me enter the sweepstakes to win a $1,000 shopping spree to NY & Company. As I find myself in my late twenties, wanting to be young and stylish and professional, NY & Company has become one of my go-to shops.

 

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Image Credit: FashionSizzle.com

 

Where will you shop for spring styles?

Have you read any memoirs lately?

Life According to Steph

Linking up with Happy Pretty Sweet and Shooting Stars Mag  for “Glossies Made Me Do It”  and Jana Says for “Show Us Your Books”

Previous months of glossy posts can be found here

 

 

Style and Savings Reads: This is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare by Gabourey Sidibe

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This may not be the typical type of book you think of for a book discussion, as it’s been marketed as a humorous celebrity memoir, but keep in mind – there’s something to learn from everyone’s story!

The following is not a book review or synopsis, just a list of book discussion questions inspired by what I read:

1. Growing up, Gabby used to be teased, but look how successful and accomplished she is now! What is something that you’ve achieved that would surprise your teenage self?

2. Should Alice (Gabby’s mom) have known that her green card marriage would fail?

3. Tola (Gabby’s dad’s new wife) is a psychic, do you believe in psychics and their ability to know things about others and predict their future?

4. Gabby went to therapy sessions when she was suffering from depression. How do you handle life’s obstacles?

5. Gabby describes her love/hate relationship with Twitter: she often checks it in the morning and posts funny updates on her account but says “it’s vain to think people want to know everything you’re thinking all the time, Twitter is for saying dumb stuff as soon as it pops in your head”. What do you love or hate about social media?

6.  Gabourey Sidibe is a Senegalese name, many have struggled to say correctly. “Americans are lazy, kind and condescending….they only want to say names they can pronounce.”  If you could change your name would you? If so, what would your name be?

7. Gabby was prescribed an appetite suppressant, but it didn’t work because she ate in response to her feelings, not only when she was hungry.  What’s your favorite comfort food or celebratory dinner & drink?

8. For a celebrity, Gabby seems surprisingly introverted. She doesn’t like talking to strangers and she says she’d prefer not to be famous, just rich. Which would you choose – either, both, or neither & why?

9.  On the day of her audition for Precious, Gabby was literally at a crossroads as she walked out of her front door – she could cross the street one direction to school or cross the street the other way towards the audition. A film crew had blocked off some of the sidewalk outside of her building and directed her where to cross the street, which happened to be in the direction of the audition. Do you believe this was coincidence or fate?

10. Gabby had the opportunity to visit the White House and was recognized and greeted warmly by the Obamas. What public figure or celebrity do you dream of meeting?

I enjoyed reading this memoir. It was funny, but also had sad and serious moments — such is life! I’m glad Gabourey was brave enough to share her ups and downs. In a world where many women feel pressure to appear perfect, it’s refreshing to see someone share darker times in her past and how she currently faces her challenges.

Glossies Made Me Do It – October 2017

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It’s time for another edition of “Glossies Made Me Do It”.  Link up with Happy Pretty Sweet or Shooting Stars Mag to join the fun.


Redbook

An article called The Girlfriend Getaway Guide in this month’s Redbook made me enter  a sweepstakes. The sweepstakes winner receives a  round-trip airfare and a 4 night stay for 4 people at Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa in Hawaii that is featured in the article.

Hawaii is such a beautiful, tropical place to visit and I would love to go back one day. If you are planning your own vacation and are new to air travel, the post Tips for New Travelers will help you prepare.

I’m a big fan of organizational tips, which made me pin page 28 to my Organization & Cleaning board on Pinterest.  Using tension rods looks like an easy DIY to stylishly keep your space neat.

 Essence

On one of the first few pages of this month’s Essence magazine was an advertisement for Empire’s return to Wednesday nights on FOX.

Previously Empire was on FOX from 9  -10pm which conflicted with ABC’s Blackish, which started at 9: 30pm. Blackish has now moved to Tuesday nights, which made me happy to know that these two shows no longer air in competing time slots. I’m so ready for Fall TV and new seasons of these shows and also of the TGIT lineup.

This photo on page 39 made me reminisce about my friends and I being big Lady Gaga fans in college and seeing girls with Diet Coke cans in their hair on the way to the concert – channeling her “Telephone” video.

An interview with Ledisi on page 70  made me remember those weird stretchy shirts that were in style when I was in 7th grade – does anyone remember that from the early 2000’s?

That’s all until next month – join the link up or comment below to share what “glossies made you do”!

Previous months of glossy posts can be found here

Be True to Your School: 5 Ways to Give Back to Your Alma Mater

This weekend is Homecoming at Purdue University.
Homecoming is a time when alumni return to campus to reunite with friends and reminisce about their college days.

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Photo Credit: Trevor Mahlmann

Oh….and go to the football game

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Photo Credit: Trevor Mahlmann

 

You may be picturing alumni clubs and alumni donors as rich retirees, but recent grads – the truth is….It’s not too early to give back to your school. 

You can volunteer your time and make use of your connections to impact current students in the following ways:

  1. Job Shadow

  2. Mock Interviewer

  3. Resume Reviewer

  4. Guest Speaker or Mentor

  5. Monetary Donation

Job Shadow

Career exploration is important as some students are still figuring which industry would be the best choice for them. If your company will allow it, a job shadowing opportunity can help a student to experience a typical day in your role.

Resume Reviewer

The first step on the path to an internship or full-time career opportunity is creating a resume. As a resume reviewer, you can assist students in making sure their resumes are polished and professional.

Mock Interviewer

Resumes and interviews go hand in hand. You can help students prepare to make a good first impression by participating in a mock interviewing program. Using a list of standard behavioral interview questions, you can simulate a typical job interview so that students can practice communication skills.

Guest Speaker or Mentor

Student organizations are often looking for professionals to speak at various club meetings and conferences. If you are willing to talk about your company or share your success story, this is another great way to share your knowledge and experience.

 If you are willing to meet students one-on-one or in small groups for coffee or be contacted by phone or Skype, students who are looking for some direction and advice would be grateful to benefit from your mentorship.

Monetary Donation

Whether you can contribute a little or a lot, every dollar adds up. If you make  donation, most contributions are tax deductible and often you are given the option to designate whether you want your contribution to go to a specific student organization, program, or school within the university. To increase the impact of  your contribution, find out if your company offers a matching program.

Also, don’t forget to leverage your connections inside and outside of your workplace. Many corporations are involved in philanthropy and are willing to sponsor student organizations and university events. You can act as a liaison in helping to coordinate a company sponsorship.

For more information on how you can give back, contact your school’s alumni office or career center.

Ever Grateful, Ever True

Have a Happy Homecoming Week