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Cooling Off with Dunkin’ Donuts and a $50 Gift Card Giveaway!

Dunkin Donuts SmoothieSchool might be back in session, but summer is definitely not over yet! Heck we’ve had 90º degree days this past week. Summer isn’t over by a long shot!

Aidan and I headed over to Dunkin’ Donuts on one of those hot days last week to try out some new frozen beverages that just got added to their menu.

Dunkin’ Donuts recently expanded their menu with the introduction of Fruit Smoothies. Available at Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants nationwide, Fruit Smoothies come in two flavors: Strawberry Banana and Tropical Mango and each contain 260 calories or less for a 16 oz. serving.

The new blended beverages are made with real fruit and creamy low-fat yogurt. A great option when you’re trying to fit into a wedding dress in a couple of months!

Also making its debut are the Frozen Dunkaccino®, a frozen version of Dunkin’ Donuts’ popular hot Dunkaccino®, and new Coolatta® Lite, a lighter version of Dunkin’ Donuts’ popular frozen Coolatta® beverages.

AidanAnd even though the smoothie is pink, Aidan was gracious enough to let me snap a pic of him trying it out. Actually he might’ve allowed me to do that because waiting for him was one of these…

Dunkin DonutA Reese’s Peanut Butter Square. Shut the front door. Of course I had to try this as I’m a huge fan of anything Reese’s. And it was perfection. Peanut butter creamy nutty deliciousness. The perfect balance for my low-fat smoothie. I’m all about balance.

A yummy afternoon for sure. The folks from Dunkin’ Donuts would love for one of you to win a $50 gift card so that you can try the new products. Heck, with $50 bucks you can practically sample the entire menu!

To enter, comment on this post with your first name, last initial, the state you are from and which new product you’d like to try. Entries must be received by Friday, September 18th 11:59pm EST. Good luck!

This is not a sponsored post. I did receive a gift card to facilitate my review.

Urban Southern Review and Giveaway!

Urban Southern

Urban Southern Market ToteBeautiful bags are a weakness of mine. I especially adore bags that are pretty and functional. As a mom of four very busy kiddos, I need bags that stand up well to the constant on the go lifestyle I lead. Pretty things are nice and all, but delicate fabrics and colors don’t stand up well between trips to the stables and farms we visit.

So when the folks from Urban Southern reached out to see if I would review one of their artisan leather bags crafted in a simple but classic style, I was so excited to work with them.

Leather is sumptuous, isn’t it? I just love the smell of it and I especially appreciate how it feels to the touch. A bit of luxury that stands up to everyday life.

Urban Southern handcrafts each and every product they offer. Leather masters hand tool the leather and buff the edges with wax to create a superior product. You can see the workmanship in everything they create.

I received the Market Tote which is an especially roomy bag. It’s a full 20″ high and 14″ wide.Perfect for shopping outings. It’s fitted with two wide straps which allows it to sit comfortably on your shoulder or you can carry it by the handles. Super versatile.

Let’s check it out in action…

Michael Charlotte HallSay hi to Michael! My son was my date on this beautifully sunny day in Southern Maryland. Corn is just now coming to market here, so we set out to the Charlotte Hall Amish Market to pick up some ears along with some other fresh produce. A fine time to try out the Urban Southern Market Tote. Just the right size for a farmers market outing!

Charlotte Hall Farmers Market

Charlotte Hall Amish MarketI probably could’ve fit a couple dozen ears of corn into the Market Tote. It’s really that roomy. I was sorely tempted as it looked so good. Instead, I grabbed a half dozen ears and saved room for other produce treasures sure to come.

Charlotte Hall Green BeansThe green beans are looking good right now and I’ve been thinking about pickling a few pounds for winter eating. Into the bag they went!

Amish Baked GoodsOk, this didn’t make it into the bag because hello calories! But I have to tell you that I was so very close to blowing my diet on the Amish homemade Twinkies. So very very close.

Urban Southern Market ToteFresh herbs always make their way into my purchases at the market and this day was no different. Look at how lush that basil looks. Pesto is on the menu this week at Casa Melanie!

Charlotte Hall Market

In the end I picked up everything you see above (minus the Twinkies) and I added a few jars of various jams, jellies and pickles. It all fit easily into my tote and the straps distributed the weight on my shoulder which made it so much easier to carry around.

Urban Southern Market ToteAnd while it worked perfectly for a trip to the market, it also was a nice choice for a day outing into the city. The Colonel and I took a day trip to Alexandria, VA where we did some sightseeing and shopping.

I found that the bag was the perfect choice to carry all kinds of things like sunscreen, camera, guide books and other bulky things that don’t fit in the smaller purse I usually carry.

So if you’re looking for a fine crafted leather bag that’s not only beautiful but practical, this is a very good choice.

Urban Southern offers many different bag styles and also leather accessories that would make fine gifts. Be sure to check out their website to learn more about their products and how they’re crafted. You can also find them on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest!

Win It! 

Urban Southern has offered up a very lovely giveaway for my readers. One of you will win your own Urban Southern Market Tote (ARV $275). All you have to do to enter is comment on this post by leaving your first name, last initial and the state you are from. That’s it! Open to US residents ages 18+. Entries must be received by Friday, July 10th, 11:59pm EST. Good luck!

This is not a sponsored post. I was given a complimentary sample to facilitate my review. All opinions are my own.

The Fragrance Foundation Consumer Choice Awards and a Giveaway! #TFFAwards

consumer choice scrollGood smelling things make me happy. Even better if that good smelling thing is me! I love trying new scents, don’t you? When I go to a shop that sells fragrances, I thoroughly enjoy testing out all the new scents. There’s something a little thrilling about finding a fragrance that you can identify with.

Sitting on my dresser right now there are at least six different fragrances that I like to wear for different occasions. Light clean scents for everyday running around, heavier sexier scents for date nights and some wild card scents that work only when I’m feeling a little… er…. wild!

If you are like me and love fragrances, I have something super cool to share with you…

The Fragrance Foundation 2015 Consumer Choice Awards are going on right now and fragrance enthusiasts are invited to vote for their favorite fragrances!

Here are the categories and the finalists….


Dahlia Divin Givenchy

Daisy Dream Marc Jacobs

Ralph Lauren Midnight Romance


A Thousand Wishes Bath & Body Works

Avon Luck for Her

Jessica Simpson Signature

Sofia by Sofia Vergara

Taylor Swift Incredible Things

Victoria’s Secret Scandalous

Between now and May 29th 11:59pm EST you can vote for your favorites. The winners will be announced at the 2015 Fragrance Foundation Awards hosted by Alec Baldwin on June 17th at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall in New York. So head on over to the Fragrance Foundation website and cast your vote for your favorite picks!

You can be a winner too! How you ask? By entering to win an entire set of all nine nominated fragrances! That’s over $500 worth of wonderful smelling scents for you to enjoy!  All you have to do to enter is comment on this post with which of the nine fragrances you’d most like to try. Leave your first name, last initial, the state you are from and your pick. That’s it!

Entries must be received by Friday, May 29th 11:59pm EST. Good luck!

The New Dunkin’ Donuts Dark Roast and a Giveaway!

DunkinAfter the kids got back from Florida, I had one whole delicious week with them. Oh how we were lazy. We spent most of that week sleeping in, staying up ridiculously late and behaving pretty much like sloths. We did head out to catch a couple of movies which necessitated that we pull ourselves together, but beyond that we were slugs. It was heaven.

So when the alarm clock went off at 6am yesterday, it was the harshest sound ever. The kids reluctantly crawled out from beneath their cozy blankets and I wrapped mine around my shoulders and dragged my bottom down to the kitchen. And before I packed a single lunch, I started the coffee pot. It was going to be a multiple cup kind of day.

I’ve mentioned many many times before that I’m a Dunkin’ Donuts coffee girl. Melanie runs on Dunkin’. And now I run even faster because they have a new Rainforest Alliance Certified™ Dark Roast coffee blend.

When I first heard about this stronger product I wasn’t sure if I would love it. I’ve always been fond of the original Dunkin’ Donuts coffee blend. But if there was ever time for strong coffee, yesterday was it. And I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. It’s bold but not bitter and rather smooth.

Just what I needed the Monday after school break!

Dunkin Donuts

Coffee is a big part of my morning ritual. Just the smell of it makes me happy. If you are a coffee lover like me, be sure to enter the giveaway below so that you too can sample the new Dunkin’ Donuts Dark Roast. And pick up a few donuts too while you’re at it. My favorite is the maple frosted. Soooo good!


Want to win a Dunkin’ Donuts Dark Roast prize pack? Included is all you see above plus a $50 Dunkin’ Donuts gift card! To enter, use the Rafflecopter entry form below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This is not a sponsored post. Dunkin’ Donuts did send me the same prize pack including gift card to facilitate my review.

Minted for the Holidays and a Giveaway!

Minted OrnamentsHave you started your holiday cards yet? I sure haven’t. Wasn’t it just yesterday that the kids went back to school? How did we even get to December? Please make time slow down a bit. I still have pumpkin guts on my stoop.

But as we know, time stops for no one. So I have to focus. Like really focus and get my holiday act together. Because at this rate, we might be celebrating Christmas on Valentine’s Day if I don’t get my fanny moving.

So about those cards…

Luckily there’s a great company that’s willing to help out us procrastinators. Have you heard of Minted? They’ve got you covered when it comes to holiday cards. So many beautiful designs printed on luxe thick paper. Really, the design work and quality is outstanding. Minted employs some of the very best artists to create their products, so you know you’re getting something special. Don’t believe me? Check it out for yourself!

Minted Holiday CardsAnd to make sure your cards stand out from the rest, Minted is offering designer envelopes with recipient addressing for no additional charge with your holiday order. How’s that for a timesaver? Addressing holiday cards is not one of my favorite tasks. I’m happy to hand that chore over to Minted.

Minted GiftsBesides beautiful and unique cards, Minted also offers products that would make lovely gifts for the holidays! Photo art, limited edition art prints, ornaments and calendars are just a handful of examples. And while you’re visiting Minted, be sure to check out the thank you cards. You’ll need them!

The deadline for ordering holiday cards from Minted is 12/12 for a 12/19 delivery. So even though you still have ten days to work on it, I’d hop to it! As we both know, those ten days are going to fly!

How about a giveaway?

The fine folks at Minted are offering one of my readers a $75 gift credit. Want to enter? Use the Rafflecopter entry form below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This is not a sponsored post. Minted did provide me with my own gift credit to facilitate my post.

Mirbeau Inn and Spa and a Giveaway!

Mirbeau SpaThis past summer the town of Plymouth welcomed its first destination spa, the Mirbeau Inn and Spa. Located about 45 minutes south of Boston, the Mirbeau Inn and Spa is tucked into the Pinehills community which is popular for its Rees Jones golf course.

Mirbeau Inn and Spa boasts French-inspired accommodations, two fine dining establishments and a full service spa complete with resting room, heated whirlpool plunge pool and eucalyptus infused steam rooms.

As a resident of the South Shore for the past two decades, it used to be that I had to drive to the city in order to experience a full service spa. Now that one has opened in my own town, I was eager to check it out. So last month I booked a service in order to get the inside scoop!

Mirbeau Spa Serenity RoomMy day started with some quiet time in what Mirbeau calls a resting room. Spas often times refer to rooms such as this as serenity rooms. And I have to tell you, it doesn’t get much more serene than this. With a heated foot massage pool, ample beds for relaxing and a roaring fire in the oversized fireplace, I was feeling rather serene.

Mirbeau Spa

Mirbeau Spa RoomWith a full spa menu, it will be a challenge for you to decide which of the luxurious services you will indulge in. Massage, facials, nail treatments, scrubs and wraps are just some of the spa offerings. And if you can’t decide on just one, you can take advantage of one of their packages.

I chose the Mirbeau Ritual Body Treatment which included an all-natural sugar body scrub and full body massage.

After relaxing for a bit in the resting room, I was led to the spa room which was rather opulent with a roaring fire and soft playing music. Before the treatment started, I was asked to choose a scented oil from two vials that would be used during my massage. After making my choice, I climbed up onto the heated massage table and promptly forgot about any worry that was in my mind as my body was scrubbed, oiled and kneaded away.

It was utter bliss for eighty solid minutes.

Mirbeau Spa PoolAfter my treatment I took advantage of the complimentary spa offerings. The outdoor heated plunge whirlpool was a special treat on that cool fall day. I also went back to the resting room because that heated foot pool was by far one of the most relaxing things I’ve experienced. Did I mention that you can enjoy a glass of wine while you soak your feet?

And if it’s exercise you are looking for, there’s a fitness center on the property and daily yoga and exercise classes available. You quite literally could spend the whole day enjoying the facilities, there’s that much to experience.

Mirbeau Spa LunchI finished my day at Mirbeau Inn and Spa by having lunch at the Bistro and Wine Bar. Beautifully appointed with French style furnishings, the Bistro and Wine Bar is a sophisticated place to enjoy a bite to eat. Sandwiches, salads, entrees and a full drink menu are offered in their bright dining room complete with yet another roaring fireplace. I was delighted to find a charcuterie board on the menu which did not disappoint. That paired with a bowl of butternut squash bisque was a fine end to my sumptuous day at Mirbeau Inn and Spa.

If you are looking for a weekend spa getaway, Mirbeau Inn and Spa is a fine choice. Between the spa offerings, fine dining, luxurious accommodations and close proximity to an award winning golf course, this would be a natural choice for those seeking a decadent weekend away.

For more information on Mirbeau Inn and Spa, be sure to check out their website and Facebook page.


How would you like to enter to win an overnight stay for one night at the Mirbeau Inn and Spa plus breakfast for two?* To enter, use the Rafflecopter entry form below. Please keep in mind that this giveaway is for a spa located in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Please enter only if you can get to this location. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

This is not a sponsored post. However, I did receive a discounted spa service and a complimentary lunch to facilitate my review. All opinions are my own.

*Gift certificate expires 10/30/15. Can only be used on Monday through Thursday subject to availability. Not valid during July, August or Holiday periods. Gift certificate does not include taxes or gratuities. Gift certificate may not be transferred, extended or redeemed as a gift card. 72 hour cancellation policies apply for all spa treatments.

Bootights Review and Giveaway!

BoottightsI often joke that I have a winter uniform. And if you could see how I dress when I go out, you would know it’s true. A top, a skirt, tights and boots. If I were to have a signature style, I guess that would be it.

I look at tights the same way I look at my other accessories. A way to change up an outfit. I especially like patterned tights and tights with loose weaves. The only issues is that my feet don’t usually like them.

My toes often times get wedgies and the bottoms of my feet ache when walking around while wearing patterned tights.

Sometimes we have to be uncomfortable in order to look nice, right? Well, that’s how I felt about my tights. That is, until I tried out my first pair of Bootights.

What are Bootights you ask? Let’s take a look…

Bootights sock

Bootights are part performance sock and part premium tights. An innovative design that allows you to be comfortable while wearing tights. The moisture-wicking sock keeps your feet dry and warm and has added arch support for a contoured fit.

There’s also a control top for a smooth silhouette and a soft Lycra waistband that won’t dig or bind.

No more feet slipping around in boots, no more toe wedgies and no more freezing cold feet during the winter. Fashion and comfort. Who would’ve thunk it?

Bootights come in all kinds of fantastic colors and patterns. So, you are sure to find the perfect pair for any outfit in your closet!

How would you like to win your choice of a pair of Bootights (ARV $30-$40)?

One lucky winner will be able to chose any pair from the current product line. To enter, head on over to Bootights and pick which ones you’d like to win. Then, come on back over here and leave a comment with the pair you’d like, your first name, last initial and the state you are from. Entries must be received by Monday, March 4th 11:59pm ET. Good luck!

I received a free sample of Bootights to facilitate my review. This is not a sponsored post. All thoughts are my own.

A Little Bit Of Yum

photo-560Last year I went to the BlogHer Food  Conference in Seattle. While there, I received a tin of Theo’s Sipping Chocolate. It sounded intriguing at the time, but when I got home I promptly put it in the pantry and over time it got pushed into the way back corner and I forgot about it.

But the other day it got really really cold here and I was hankering for something hot and delicious. Something indulgent that would cost over $5 a cup at the local overpriced coffee shops. That’s when I remembered the tin of Theo’s.

I heated up some milk and stirred the chocolate in. Three minutes later I had the best cup of Mexican hot chocolate I’ve had in my entire life. A little cinnamony, certainly rich and a little spicy. Sort of like hot chocolate pudding. I can’t believe I waited this long to try it.

As wonderful as it is, Theo’s Sipping Chocolate is not something I can indulge in every day. There are 140 calories per serving, but a serving is 1/2 a cup. Like that’s going to happen! A full cup is more like a typical coffee house serving. So, when you factor in the calories from the milk, you’re talking 390 calories a cup. A once a week treat for me, but so entirely worth it.

Now, I haven’t seen this product on my grocer’s shelves (Whole Foods carries it). So, I have no idea how much it costs. I’m not sure I even care. It’s that good. If you happen across it and love chocolate, try it. You won’t regret it.

photo-561While we’re on the subject of indulgences, here’s my latest favorite salty snack food. Food Should Taste Good Olive Tortilla Chips. Holy yum.

Made with black, green and Kalamata olives, this is the chip for olive lovers. I have never had a chip quite like this before. It’s a mature taste which is a good thing because it means my sons won’t snarf them down before I have a chance to open my wine bottle.

They are like vacuum cleaners when it comes to snacks.

Nope, I’m the only one in the family who enjoys these, which is fine with me. They aren’t inexpensive. I paid $2 on sale for a 5 oz bag. Regular chips on sale are about $2.50 to $3.00 for 10 oz. So, this definitely qualifies as an indulgence.

But, if you love olives, then I bet you’ll enjoy these chips. So very good with a glass of wine.

How about you? Do you have any sweet or salty snack indulgences? Have you tried either of these products?

This is not a sponsored post. I bought these products with my own money and I totally dig them.

Arianna Skincare Review and Giveaway

As a blogger, I get to review lots of interesting and innovative products, but today I get to share with you one of my indulgences…

Now that I’m 42, I’m paying attention to how I care for my skin. Most of my life I’ve been a swimmer and a sunbather. I’ve never paid much attention to sunscreens and skin products. I just expected my skin to roll with the punches. I am from Mediterranean descent after all. I’m supposed to age gracefully, ahem.

But the truth of the matter is that my skin gets quite dry and I need a little help keeping it looking its best.

I discovered a store in Boston called Arianna. Arianna is a skincare company founded by a lady named Miri Torres. Miri is from Israel and she struggled with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma which left her body in all states of disrepair.

To help heal her skin, Miri developed a skincare line that uses Dead Sea minerals. Miri found that her skin improved dramatically by taking advantage of Dead Sea minerals and formulated a product line which includes cleansers, moisturizers, bath products and makeup.

In 2007 Miri launched her product line in the United States with the desire to help people care for their skin with products made with the nutritive Dead Sea minerals that made such a difference with Miri’s own healing.

I’ve been using their Ultra Exfoliating Body Treatment and the Ultra Rich Mineral Body Butter. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I love these products.

Seriously, how often do I gush over anything? I’m gushing over this. My skin not only feels like silk after exfoliating and moisturizing, but I smell like I’ve spent the day at the spa. And even if I wash my hands a bunch of times throughout the day, they still feel soft and buttery. Arianna products are incredible.

Currently you can find Arianna products in Boston, Martha’s Vineyard or Newport, Rhode Island. But if you are out of state, don’t fret. You can find their products online too.

I’m thrilled to announce that Arianna is providing an incredible giveaway for one lucky Melanie In The Middle reader. They have put together a gift basket with my favorite products! Here’s what’s in the giveaway:

Hydrating Mineral Body Lotion (ARV $59)
Intensive Mineral Foot Treatment (ARV $69)
Exfoliating Shower Milk Refiner (ARV $69)
Ultra Exfoliating Body Treatment (ARV $90)
Ultra Rich Mineral Body Butter (ARV $80)

An amazing collection of products with a retail value of $367! I’m so excited to offer this giveaway opportunity!

The timing couldn’t be better now that we are entering that time of year when our skin really takes a beating. To enter this giveaway, leave your first name, last initial, the state you are from and which product from the giveaway basket you are most eager to try.

Entries must be received by Thursday, December 20th 11:59pm ET. Good luck!

For more information on Arianna, be sure to visit their website and their Facebook page.

Arianna provided me with several of their products to facilitate my review. All opinions are my own. And I big puffy heart love their stuff. Two thumbs up.

Penzeys Spices

Last week I went to make one of my all time favorite breads, but discovered I was out of three key ingredients. Oregano, poppy seeds, and dried minced garlic.

Now, if you look above at my highly organized *cough cough* spice cabinet, you are probably not too surprised that this snuck up on me. I think you could hide a small child in there and I wouldn’t see it.

I have a spice addiction.

And in this house it’s unacceptable to run out of oregano and dried minced garlic. They are recipe staples and not having them on hand means I can’t make many of my family’s favorite dishes.

It was time to stock up so that I have everything I need for colder weather cooking and baking.

We have a few discount stores close by that have economy sized jugs of these spices, but what I’ve found is that they don’t have a tremendous amount of flavor.

And if I’m going to go through all of that effort to make something from scratch, I don’t want to use spices that aren’t flavorful.

Instead of the discounters, I went online to check out Penzeys Spices. I heard that their prices are very reasonable, their product high quality, and that they include free stuff in your order. Free stuff makes me happy.

Sure enough, I found that their prices were very comparable to the discount stores. The selection was vast and seductive. (yes, spices are seductive to foodies) And they offer free shipping for orders of $30 or more. That’s really not hard to do after perusing their 250+ offerings.

When my order came, I tore open my box like a kid on Christmas morning. And I was so very pleased. I opened the various jars and bags and indeed the stuff smelled fresh and more potent than the discounter’s spices.

As an added bonus, they sent a full sized jar of Raspberry Enlightenment which looks like it will be delicious as a glaze for a pork loin or chops.

They also tossed in a “sample” of Sandwich Sprinkle that I’ll certainly use to make my homemade croutons as the bottle suggests.

When Penzey’s calls something a sample, what they really mean is dang near full sized product. They are a very generous company.

Now to be clear, Penzeys doesn’t know I exist. I paid full price for my order. I just wanted to share this resource for those of you who enjoy cooking as much as I do.

Have you ordered from Penzeys before? Have any favorite products?