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You know what we haven’t talked about in, oh, four posts or so? Working out.

About a week ago, Chobani reached out to me and asked if I wanted to review some of their product. They’d noticed that I cook with Greek yogurt often (exhibit A, exhibit B, exhibit C, and exhibit D), but that I typically prefer Fage and would I be willing to try out cooking with Chobani. Obviously, I was thrilled to be asked (I never say no to Greek yogurt) and happily accepted.

As if that weren’t enough, they also offered me an invitation to a special Chobani workout at Barry’s Bootcamp specifically for bloggers and media members.

Um…free workout? I’m down.

I don’t know if any of you have ever tried Barry’s, but it’s pretty hardcore. It’s broken down into alternating sessions of treadmill sprints/incline runs and weights/step/bands.

IMG_5073They also keep the mood lighting appropriately intense.

I run pretty regularly, but I’m a distance runner. Hills/sprints kick my butt. And 20 straight minutes of lunges, squats, and step moves didn’t make it any easier.

By the time I left the class, I could barely walk down the steps to the subway. That, my friends, is a good workout.

IMG_5075Plus, class ended with a free Chobani protein smoothie. Can’t beat that.

IMG_5094So sweaty. So thirsty for yogurt smoothie.

I don’t know if I’ll attend another Barry’s for a while (it’s a wee bit expensive), but it was fun trying something new.

Thanks again for the invite, Chobani!

I was compensated for this review by the BlogHer Book Club. The opinions expressed are my own.

So. What to say about The Good American by Alex George.

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Before I start, I want to say something: I didn’t not like this book. It was a fairly charming story about a time period I happen to enjoy reading about.

That being said, I’m not sure I liked it.

Here’s the thing: I’ve studied writing for a while. I’ve been writing even longer. So I know and readily admit that often times writers ten to develop things. Things they do in their writing that sort if become habits. If we were boxers, we would call them tells, or something like that.

They become even more apparent in long-form writing, because usually a writer will employ these same tricks over and over again, not even realizing they’re doing it. It’s like when you’re in a job interview and you keep using the same phrase over and over again. Eventually, it jut sounds tired and phony.

The Good American‘s tell? Cliffhanger sentences. If I had to read the phrase “but things were about to get so much worse than we had ever imagined” one more time, I was going to tear the book in half.

Because you can’t use the shocking sentence every time, remember? Sooner or later, you need the story to propel the reader on, not the narrator.

And while this book is riddled with tragedy, there are only a few things that happen that are actually shocking. Really, it’s just a wee bit depressing (but mostly because the narrator sounds a bit bored with the whole thing most of the time). Even the actual surprise near the end is just kind of…confusing.

See why I had to start this post with a disclaimer? Because, really, it’s not that I didn’t like the book. The Good American follows the life of an immigrant family making their way through America at the turn of the century. It’s interesting reading how the family learns to adapt with the changing times and to see how these changes are reflected in their family business, a bar-turned-restaurant-turned-diner.

So, I liked the book. I just didn’t love it. I read it in one sitting on a 6-hour plane ride, which is probably for the best because if I had put it down, I didn’t have much impetus to pick it back up. (Despite all those (gasp!) cliffhangers.)

Have you read this book? Did you have similar hangups? Or do I just need to embrace the drama?

Join the BlogHer Book Club in our discussions here.

**This giveaway is now closed. Click here for the winner.

This post is sponsored by Printcopia. The views expressed are mine.

I love houses filled with photos. When I was little and we would visit my grandparents’ house, I loved climbing their staircase and studying the wall of family pictures. Inspecting every tiny, grainy face was like looking into the past. Did they really wear their hair like that? Look how young my mom is! It was a trip, and it never seemed to get old.

Now I love having photos in my own home. From the ever-evolving gallery wall in the living room to the rows of pictures on top of our book cases to the over-sized shots from our honeymoon in the dining room, I’m pretty much running out of walls to plaster with more memories. (Not that that means I haven’t stopped trying.)

So I was pretty excited when I got an email from Printcopia asking if I would review one of their photo canvases.

Printcopia

Printcopia is a company that prints canvas photos, acrylic prints, panoramic photos, and more, turning everyday photos into works of art. (They also have sister sites where you can create car magnets, custom banners, and inexpensive signs…if you’re into that sort of thing.) Color me intrigued.

They offered me an 8×10 sample to review, so I sent off a photo that my sister had recently taken of us and waited impatiently for the canvas to arrive. And, you guys. It’s so pretty.

Printcopia let’s you choose whether you want to continue the photo on the sides of the canvas or add a solid border. I thought about doing a bold color (neon??) but decided black would probably have more longevity.

Basically, I’m super pleased with the quality.

And, as you probably guessed from the post title, Printcopia is also letting me give an 8×10 canvas away to one of my readers! All you have to do is leave a comment on the this blog post, and you’re in. If you want to get additional entries, simply complete the tasks listed below in the Rafflecopter widget.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

That’s it! Giveaway ends Sunday, November 18th at 11:59 p.m. EST.

Ready for another Influenster Beauty Blogger VoxBox review?

Well…one’s coming your way whether you like it or not. Deal.

Today, we’re talking about the NYC New York Color IndividualEyes Custom Compact.

It has to be said that I don’t think I’ve purchased a NYC New York Color cosmetic since…well…I started wearing makeup in the eighth grade, and I would guess it was around that time. In general, I get the impression that their products aren’t especially high quality (thus the extremely affordable price), and I tend to gravitate toward products with better ingredients.

However, I’m always willing to give something a second chance.

My compact was made up of various shades of gray along with a highlighting color. I played around with using the shades as they were intended (brow bone, crease, all-over, etc.), but the resulting look was, well, harsh. See also: clownish.

After wiping that off (cheaper ingredients do tend to wipe off easily, after all), I basically ignored the super dark colors and stuck with the highlighting color and silvery grays, topping the whole thing with a dusting of my favorite latte-colored shadow. (Sorry, NYC, but my skin tone does not take cool, steely colors at all.)

This had a much more flattering effect.

I could see myself incorporating the colors into my current makeup regimen (especially when I’m going for a heavier look), and I liked the skin primer that came in the compact, but I doubt I’ll be running out to buy another compact any time soon.

Final grade: C

The only thing left in my VoxBox to try are a pair of fake eyelashes, and while I’m a big fan of falsies for special events, these are pretty intense. Not sure where I’ll be able to wear them, but I’ll let you know what I think if/when I do.

Have you tried any of NYC’s makeup products recently? What did you think?

Last night, I had an incredibly stressful dream where I had nothing to wear to a friends’ wedding in a cramped mansion. (Actually, it might have just been a fancy party…no one really clarified.)

What I do know is that everyone was dressed in incredibly trendy outfits, and I was there in, like, a colonial woman’s traditional dress.

The worst part was that I finally found a dress that I deemed suitable (though, in hindsight, I have no idea why dream Justine was so pleased with a brown suede embroidered cocktail dress with brown tights…no idea at all) when suddenly I realized that my (for whatever reason) phosphorescent lime green underwear was blatantly visible through the back. After shaking off the irritation that none of my friends (all of whom were present and milling around the mansion’s foyer) had pointed this out to me, I quickly ducked into one of three “dressing rooms” made up of heavy velvet draperies that someone had conveniently set up in the sitting room in case guests needed to change before the party.

Because that’s something that happens.

The problem was, the dressing rooms were crammed with old clothing (I think someone was also moving into/out of the mansion…?), and the second I took my dress off and put it down, I could not for the life of me find it again.

I kept picking up dresses that looked like mine when they were on the floor, but as soon as I put them on, they transformed into something dowdy or just plain hideous. (You know, something not nearly as fashionable as brown embroidered suede…)

I vividly remember that every dress was this weird length on me, hitting right at that spot on my legs necessary to achieve maximum frumpiness. I vividly remember this, guys.

The worst part was that everyone was getting impatient with me, so every time I picked up a new dress, I was like, “Don’t stress, guys, I found it,” and they would start clearing away the unwanted clothes and tearing down the dressing room curtains, and then I would realize this was not, in fact, the right dress and try to stop them and grab something different, but there were fewer and fewer options the more they cleared away and my friends were starting to abandon me to go to the party/wedding without me instead of waiting.

And then I woke up. And I’m obviously still a bit rattled because when was the last time I told you about a dream I had? (Just kidding. I know the answer to that question. It was September 24, 2010. THIS IS WHY I WRITE DOWN MY LIFE.)

But the point is, I don’t understand my brain. And I may be mildly too obsessed with clothes.

Anyway.

SPEAKING OF FASHION AND STYLE (sort of), I have another Influenster Beauty Blogger VoxBox review to throw your way. (And so ends the least graceful segue in history.)

I have really thick hair. (On my head…I’m not a wildebeest.) It’s also pretty long and I tend to have it cut with a lot of layers to keep it from feeling like a 100-pound tapestry on the back of my neck. The only problem with layers, though, is they make it pretty difficult to create that blogger-favorite hairstyle, the topknot.

For the record, the Internet is a little conflicted about whether or not the topknot (or ballerina bun or whatever) is still in, but I say any hairstyle that gets all your hair off your face and out of the way will always be in in my book.

But anyway. Sometimes it’s not the easiest look to execute. So when I received a pair of Goody Simple Styles Spin Pins, I was pretty jazzed to see if they worked.

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All you do is create a bun or twist, and then twist in the spin pins like cork screws, one on each side of the style, to hold it in place. And since they come in the same color as your hair, they virtually vanish.

I created this bun with my two:

Total disclosure: I had to use a couple of hairpins to tuck in some shorter layers that were sticking out, but the rest of the style is kept completely secure by the spin pins. And if you’re not as Type A as I am, you might not mind a few piece-y bits sticking out anyway.

So there you have it!

Anyone else use these spin pins before? Or have a dream they want to share with the class? Tell me about it in the comments.