Free Stuff! How DO you get it?

Mrs. Dash. Budweiser. Nerf. Redbook. L’Oreal. Lawry’s.

These are just a few of the major brands that roll off the top of my head when I think of free products that my family, friends and I have been allowed to try. Some free samples range from a coupon off the face value of one item, to a box or package full of swag that I receive on my doorstep. I am relatively new to blogging, so I don’t have advertisers knocking down my door for me to do sponsored posts (yet!). And my twitter following can best be described as moderate, but growing. So how do I receive all these goodies you say? Read on.

BzzAgent

lunchbox

BzzAgent is a Social Marketing site where brands connect with BzzAgents; normal folk like you and me who, based upon demographics, geographical location, shopping preferences, etc., are invited to participate in Bzz Campaigns. BzzAgents receive some sort of incentive from the brand such as coupons or free merchandise to try for themselves and then create Bzz throughout their circle of friends, family and social media following. Campaigns last for a specific time frame and BzzAgents are required to complete various activities during the campaign in order to remain in good standing. Some of the activities include tweets to followers, Facebook posts, as well as face-to-face interactions. Based upon your activity your Bzz Score, ranging from 0-10, will either rise or fall. The more QUALITY Bzz you create, the better your score. In the spirit of full disclosure, an Agent should always advise his or her audience that they received an item free or at a discount.

I have been a BzzAgent since 2007 and overall I love it. I like being able to drive sales and influence decisions for brands that I believe in, as well as getting to try those that are new to me. The down side, if there is one, is not getting picked for Campaigns that you figure you would be a shoe-in for. This can be frustrating, but one has to keep in mind that brands set the specific criteria they are looking for (including age, race, income level and geographic region), and it is not personal. Still, it can be difficult to watch plum Campaigns being doled out that you know you would Bzz your stinger off for, only not to get an invite. But not to fret. Another “perfect-for-you” Bzz Campaign is always around the corner and life goes on.

House Party

l'oreal

If all of the family gatherings and girl’s-night-in’s seem to wind up at your place, House Party is for you. With House Party you fill out a pre-party application, which survey’s your familiarity with a product or brand and your willingness to host a party and give out samples and coupons. Host spots are limited per party and can range from 200 to 2000; sometimes more. With House Party you are given an opportunity to show just how much you want to get a party invite. For the weeks prior up to host selection, there are opportunities to make social media posts, complete surveys, watch video clips, etc.; all in an effort to show just how much you want to be a party host. On host selection day you will either receive a coveted “congratulations you are a host” email, or a “try again next time.” Once selected to host and logging into your party page, you have a set time limit to send out a specific number of invites (usually 10) to lock in your party host spot. You can always go back and edit your invites and your guest list.

I have been a proud House Party-er since 2009. The social butterfly in me loves to entertain. House Party is a natural fit because our house is the usual gathering spot. Being able to feature products and services, give away samples or coupons, all while hanging out with family and friends is lots of fun. Being a successful host means getting guests to respond to your invites, show up at your party and complete a survey post-party if they receive one.

If there are any complaints that I have about House Party, it’s the same as with BzzAgent. While doing all the pre party activities does not guarantee that you will get to host a party, it does improve your chances. So you just have to be a good sport and go into it with the mind frame that you may not get the party.

BUT…

It is free stuff. From trusted brands. And it is fun. And did I mention the FREE stuff? Some of the Bzz Campaigns and House Party are geared towards kids, some for the family, some are 21 and up. You get to control your chances of getting future invites based on the level of activity and participation. Spreading the word about products, handing out free samples and spending time with your friend and family is time well spent.

 

Antandra Campbell is mom, full-time worker, some-time blogger, and all the time trophy wife. The views in this post are hers, and while she sometimes receives products and services for posting her opinion, not a thing was exchanged in relation to this one.

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The Day I Almost Died…and Probably Did a Little, Actually

I was going into my 4th month of pregnancy with my 4th child. An omen? Possibly. We were in the midst of a record-breaking heat spell in August 2007, and due to an ankle injury, I had been on bed rest for about a week. So it did not surprise me when, a few days before my near-death experience, I became winded when I crawled out of bed and eventually made my way to the bathroom.

“Maybe it’s the heat,” I remember thinking. Or it was certainly the fact that I was trying to carry 4 months of pregnancy weight around on crutches which I had not yet gotten used to. When that episode subsided and I eventually made it back to bed I remember considering adult diapers as a viable option.

A few days earlier that week, I had tweaked my ankle when I lost my balance and fell back onto the sofa. It was nothing though. Because by the weekend I was at Giant City State Park hiking with my family and it felt fine. And then it didn’t. There was a doctor’s visit and testing that revealed nothing major at the time and then a diagnosis of severe Achilles Tendonitis. And there was pain, and heat and swelling. All classic symptoms of my diagnosis. And the knowledge, thanks to some internet doctoring, that it would “get worse before it got better.” How much worse, I could never have imagined.

So there I was, a couple of days after my initial almost-fainted-when-I went-to the-bathroom spell, and again nature called. This time when I got winded, I had to sit on the commode a lot longer than the first. As I panted and tried to catch my breath to call out to my husband, my kids, or God in Heaven, all I could think was “hurry and get your undies up in case they have to call the paramedics.” Somehow I got back to the bed. Perhaps it was the unbearable pain from the swelling. Or the extreme heat. Or the lack of inactivity due to bed rest that made me so winded and out of breath. By some stroke of luck, the whole family was home and my oldest nephew was pulling up. I was able to somehow get enough breath in my lungs to tell my husband that I think I needed him to take me to the hospital (DUUUUH). Our bed was directly in front of the air conditioning vent so I was literally sitting on it. But I could not cool off, and I could not seem to catch my breath. I remember watching Q put on his shirt, and thinking that maybe if I changed my position I could get some relief. I remember trying to turn onto my right side…and then…darkness. There was no white light. No life, husband or children flashing before me. And most memorable of all, no pain. Just me drifting, drifting, drifting…until I was no longer aware that anything was even wrong. Or existed.

My next conscious recollection was of me puking into the garbage can that my husband had dragged into the room (no time to clean that bad boy out), cold water pouring over me and the stench and feeling of me having lost control of my bodily functions. I could hear my nephew on his cell phone directing the EMT’s to our house. And my husband was doing all he knew to keep me here in this life. And all I could manage out of my mouth was “what happened?”

To this day I vividly remember the EMT’s wheeling me out into the hotassness of that 2007 August day and the gratitude I felt for the oxygen mask they had placed on me. I remember apologizing to them for smelling so badly (I can laugh at it now). I remember the ashen look as the blood drained from my husband’s face when the ER doctor said your wife has a blood clot in both lungs, she could die and the baby probably won’t survive. I also remember my primary care doctor taking charge when she arrived at the hospital, calling the ultrasound technician out of bed to come in and discover that this otherwise healthy, relatively young, pregnant woman had a blood clot that started behind her left knee and went all the way to the groin.

BUT GOD

It seems as if every week I hear about some (usually relatively young) person dying from complications due to a blood clot. It reminds me of my mortality and how close I came to that end. And it also lets me know that “when it is your time to go”, is more than a cliché. Fortunately parts of the huge blood clot in my leg broke off and went to my lungs, which caused me to pass out. Fortunately my lungs have a catcher’s mitt as big as the Eiffel tower. And thank God that I had people around me who responded quickly and thoroughly and worked hard to help keep me and my now 6 year-old baby girl here. But the truth of the matter is that all that good timing, that difficulty breathing, the DVT that turned into a double PE…THAT WAS DIVINE INTERVENTION. And no matter which God, force or element of the universe you serve, you must realize there are powers in motion that in spite of you, work for the benefit of you.

Even now, when I think back on those scary events, the thing that scared me most was being airlifted to the hospital in St Louis. I’ve been a squeamish flyer since I was a teenager and putting me in a damn helicopter was no comfort at all. I kept my eyes closed most of the entire 30 minute flight, shakily answering when I heard the medics ask me a question through my headsets. But almost instinctively, as we crossed the Mississippi, I nervously opened my eyes, saw the lights and stars and thought that all things considered, it was a beautiful sight.

After a weeklong hospital stay which included visits from every specialist known to man, I was able to return home and begin my road to recovery. Up until that point, we had not told many about the baby because we had previously suffered a miscarriage and were being cautious. So the news of the baby softened the blow of my life-threatening experience just a tad bit. We have lived so much life since that hot, wretched summer and we have so much more to live. There is a chance that I may have to be on blood thinners for the rest of my life. This means (in theory) a diet that limits vitamin K intake, which is plentiful in green leafy veggies. But you know you can’t tell a Southern gal she can’t eat the entire pot of greens in one sitting. So other healthy lifestyle modifications are necessary, such as reaching and maintaining a healthy weight and staying active. And that is a work in progress. And I do have to be extra careful using my husband’s filet knife. But all the inconveniences aside, I am here. I did not die. It was not my time. And for that I am grateful to the Universe.

Wanna Erase Your Identity?

As a member of Klout, my message reach (people I influence via twitter, Facebook, my blog, etc.) is rewarded with Perks; unique products and experiences. My latest Perk that I am enjoying thoroughly is the Person of Interest screen wipe. In the two weeks that I’ve had it, I’ve been using it on my iPod, smart phone, and to clean the screens on my PC’s and MAC. Not only does the Person of Interest Screen Wipe remove traces of finger swipes you use to access your devices, but it also does a pretty good job of tidying up. And the stickability (that’s my word, and I’m sticking to it) holds up really well. I have removed and replaced it from the back of my iPod (where I store it) plenty of times and it is still holding on strong. Now if they could just figure out a way to make a weight loss wipe…

Yeah it's backwards, but you get the gist

Disclaimer: Other than receiving the Person of Interest Screen wipe as a Klout Perk, I have not been compensated for this post. The above is my opinion and mine alone.

All in The Name of Bzz

I trust you are having a prosperous and Happy New Year!

I love new experiences. They build character and speak to my sense of adventure. Whether it was starting my blog or tweeting, 2011 was filled with new experiences for me and my family. I am looking forward to many more new experiences in 2012. And of course I’ll be sharing them with you. Like this vid (opens in separate window) I created for a chance to take part in the Aglove Sport touchscreen gloves for your iPhone BzzCampaign. Yes, I am crazy and no there is nothing I won’t do to bring you information on the latest products and experiences. Look for more contests, prizes and giveaways in the near future. And if you want in on some cool stuff, don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @thethingsitry and subscribe at thethingsitry.wordpress.com.

Here’s to hoping your 2012 is a bold, brazen and marvelous one!
-Antandra

Kroger Brands Private Selection Frozen Foods

Howdy do?

For those of you who have ever packed up all your belongings and moved from one home to another, you know the feeling of preferring to walk over hot coals barefoot. As if the packing, loading the truck, remembering your three-year old and the dog, unloading the truck and unpacking weren’t enough…you STILL have to feed your family (and your helpers).

Well thanks to a recent BzzAgent Campaign that I was awarded for Private Selection Frozen Foods, dinner was the least of my worries. My BzzKit contained a coupon for a free appetizer, pizza and dessert. We had the Chicken trumpets appetizer, Fire Roasted Vegetable pizza, and Chocolate Eclairs. The pizza  ingredients included “Italian tomato sauce, roasted zucchini, garlic, red and green peppers, yellow onion, mozzarella, and basil”. I have never been to Italy (pity), but other than a slice from the Bronx, this has to be pretty close to what I imagine authentic Italian pizza tastes like. The trumpets were good and would make a great beginning to a party meal. The eclairs I could take or leave. My kids loved them though.

It was so nice to not have to cook dinner that night. Thanks to Kroger Brands Private Selection and BzzAgent. We are mostly unpacked and settled in our new house. Now if I could just find my three-year old…

Burt’s Bees Giveaway

I’m in a generous mood today! A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to participate in a BzzCampaign for Burt’s Bees Natural Skin Solutions for Sensitive Skin. Well the stuff is too good to keep to myself. If you want a shot at winning one of two giveaways this week, go to Check out this video on YouTube:


to find out how. Good luck and happy trying.
….Winners will be announced on Friday December 9th.

I Try, Therefore I Buy

For the longest time, we were a 1 (sometimes none) income household. When our 9-year-old son was about 3 months old, my husband and I relocated to a town five hours away from Chicago. We knew no one, and did not have the benefit of a live-in grandma to care for our infant. We vowed at that time that one of us would work, and one of us would stay home full-time with our children. Over the next several years, this meant giving up some of the things in life we wanted, and sometimes delaying getting the things we needed. But through it all we have remained steadfastly committed to being a loving family.

As we (like most people) continue to inch forward in economic recovery, I am blessed and thankful to belong to sites like houseparty.com and bzzagent.com. With House Party, you apply to win parties/experiences featuring various products and brands which you invite your friends and family to. With BzzAgent, you try products/experiences in exchange for giving your opinion and completing activities like writing reviews and passing out coupons for featured products. Both of these sites have been a godsend for my family. We have had game nights from Hasbro and Bicycle Cards. We have received samples and coupons from Lawry’s, Burt’s Bees, L’Oreal, Budweiser, Sauza Tequila…so many that I cannot name them all in one post.

I am grateful for the companies and brands that have the sensitivity to consumers’ budgets to allow sites like House Party and BuzzAgent to provide these experiences. That is why I am here. To let you know about the products that I am lucky enough to try…most of which I ultimately buy. And don’t think you have to live vicariously through me. I’m a giving soul, so  there will be give-aways and contests. Can’t wait to share!