About Beeb Ashcroft

I'm a British expat living on the north Oregon coast with my fiancé, Jai. Journalist since 1997 & blogger since 2008, this is my personal blog where I share my life adventures & favorite things!

How to Save Money on Running Gear


A post shared by Beeb Ashcroft (@beebashcroft) on


This is a partnered post.

Last May, I completed my first-ever 5k race, Run on The River. Running has been a great addition to my fitness regimen – having a race to train for gives me a tangible goal, but I can still work my my training around my hectic schedule, since the beauty of running is that you can do it anytime, anywhere. Running requires virtually no equipment, but over the past year I’ve collected a few items that make my jogging routine easier and more fun. I’m not one to dump a lot of money on unnecessary gadgets, so I thought I’d give you a rundown of what items have been beneficial for me and how I’ve cut costs.

Saving Money on Fitness Gear 101

Mama told me you better shop around: Before I buy anything, I research my options, check out reviews and read discussion forums. For example, I subscribe to r/xxfitness on Reddit, which is a forum for active women. I’ve found it helpful to see overall opinions and recommendations from other ladies who run and share my needs. From there, I can compare product categories to see how the price and quality stack up between similar items.

Groupon

Clip those coupons: Once I find something I like, I make sure to check Groupon Coupons before I place my order to see if there are any coupon codes that can save me money. Boasting a collection of 78,880 promo codes and sales across 11,833 stores, Groupon Coupons can help me find extra savings with a quick glance. Trust me, it’s worth the 60 seconds to check for a promo code before you hit “Purchase”! I’ve linked to the Groupon Coupons page for each retailer below so that you can see what sales are currently active.

Running Gear: Favorite Products & Where to Shop

Clothing & Shoes:

Activewear and shoes are the only gear you “Have” to have for running, but unfortunately, that’s also the most expensive part! I try to stock up on leggings whenever there’s a clearance sale (usually around New Year’s), but as time goes on I’ve gotten more picky and started to pay more for leggings that I know won’t pill up or ride down. With sneakers, I try to take advantage of price reductions and special coupons when I can, since they’re always so pricey. I had a run gait analysis done last year and specifically asked them to look at my shoes so I could get an idea if I was buying the right kind of footwear, since I don’t want to mess around with something that isn’t going to be supportive; I think that the price you have to spend on your shoes really varies based on personal needs.

Here’s a few deals currently running (pun intended) for shoes and clothes:

Accessories:

There is very little that you need to go running beyond clothes and shoes, but as I’ve become a regular runner, I’ve found a few items that make my life easier. I’ve bought all of these products on Amazon, which is one of my favorite places to shop! Not only do they carry affordable items that generally have free shipping, but you can also snag Amazon coupon codes from time to time that will bring the price down even further. These are my favorite running accessories available on Amazon:

  • FlipBelt – retails for just under $29: This belt is sold by Level Terrain and fits around your waist, holding a phone and keys or other small items. If I’m running around the block, I need somewhere to put my keys, and I personally can’t run without music so my phone is always there, too. I was using an armband previously, but it was getting cumbersome trying to get the phone in and out and keep it from slipping down; it also didn’t work for my house key, which actually fell out and left me searching by the road for it! So after looking around, I saw the FlipBelt recommended many times on Reddit and decided to go for it. I haven’t gotten the opportunity to use it much yet with our terrible Oregon weather this year, but I like it so far – I can put my large phone in it easily without it shifting.
  • Thermos Intak Hydration Bottle – $9.99: I wanted a water bottle that could easily track my water intake over the day, and I opted for this one. It has a simple dial at the bottom that you move each time you refill it, to indicate how many bottles you’ve had that day from 1 to 6. The bottle holds 24 ounces, so I know that if I refill it 5 times, I will have met my water goal for the day. It’s a simple thing, but it helps me, and the bottle is nicely made and sturdy. I had this bottle on my list for a while and ended up ordering it in February with a few other things because there was an Amazon coupon on offer that month which saved me over $8, paying for most of the bottle!
  • Batiste Dry Shampoo – under $10 per bottle: In order to keep my hair healthy, it’s important that I don’t wash it every day, so dry shampoo is my friend. Although I tie my hair up and wear headbands to try to protect it from sweat, I still feel gross after working out and didn’t feel like a little bit of powder was cutting it. Batiste seemed to be the hands-down favorite with female athletes on Reddit and once I tried it, I saw why. It thoroughly sprays your hair down and works through to get rid of oil and make your hair feel clean.

Are you a runner? What are some of your favorite accessories?

Tomato Cream Cheese Tulips Recipe

Tomato Cream Cheese Tulips

Photo credit: Sean Kramer.

I love making playful recipes like Spider Deviled Eggs (Or even Turkey Deviled Eggs!). So I love this idea for tomatoes and cream cheese designed to look like fresh Spring Tulips! This recipe was created by The Hotel Saugatuck in Saugatuck, Michigan and will be served all through the month of May to correspond with a local Tulip festival. If you can’t make it to Saugatuck this month, you can still recreate this recipe at home:

Tomato Cream Cheese Tulips

Recipe by The Hotel Saugatuck

Ingredients:

1 pint grape tomatoes
1 package (8oz) cream cheese
2 bunches green onion
1 large garlic clove
10 chives
Juice of 1/2 lemon
pinch kosher salt

Directions:

1. Cut off the roots and ends of the green onion
2. Let cream cheese sit out for 1/2 hour to get to room temperature. Then chop chives and garlic together using an electric mixer. Next whip the cream cheese, chives, garlic, and salt until blended evenly. Add lemon juice and blend into mixture.
3. Using a skewer, poke a hole in the stem side of each tomato. Keeping the stem side down, make a cross (2 slices) 1/2 way down the tomato using a small spoon (or the tip of an old fruit peeler) scoop out the seeds from the inside of tomato.
4. Take a pastry bag and tip, fill the cut side of the tomato with cream cheese, and
insert the green onion into the hole at the stem end of the tomato.

See a Health Care Provider From Your Smartphone With Health eXpress

Health eXpress

This is a partnered post.

I didn’t have health insurance for most of my 20s, so any of my doctor’s visits came out of pocket. Anyone without health coverage will know the feeling of putting off hospital visits and waiting to see if an annoying condition like a sore throat is really “Bad enough” to have to make an appointment. I became very familiar with the rates for local walk-in clinics in order to cut costs when I had to go in for something, but would still easily have to pay $100 just to have a doctor write a prescription. So when I heard about Health eXpress, an app that allows you to see a health care provider from your smartphone, computer or tablet, the first thing I noticed was that it only costs $39 per visit.

HealtheXpress App

Health eXpress is a very futuristic way to see a provider. This app uses secure technology to connect you live to a Providence doctor or nurse practitioner, who can see and hear you through streaming video. You don’t need an appointment and can connect usually within 5 minutes. You will only be charged the $39 if your condition can be treated by Health eXpress, so if they can’t provide you with a diagnosis, treatment recommendation and/or a prescription, you will be advised to seek immediate offline treatment and will not be charged. This is a great option for conditions such as cold/flu/cough, allergies and urinary tract infections – things that are easy to treat, but are often tolerated over paying hundreds to see a provider.

Health eXpress is specifically for people in Oregon and Washington and is a part of the Providence family, accepting Providence insurance and other select health coverage plans. Although I’m in my 30s and have fantastic health insurance now, I can still see a number of situations in which a “Virtual” appointment with Health eXpress would be preferable to a standard appointment:

  • Getting a doctor’s note: Many employers require a doctor’s note before they will allow an employee to call in sick, resulting in many people going to the hospital for the common cold – and spreading their germs to everyone in the waiting room. Through Health eXpress, you can have a health care provider confirm your cold and write a note to your employer while you sit comfortably on the couch and keep your germs at home!
  • Help for busy moms: Through Health eXpress, moms can check in with a provider without trying to wrangle their children into the car and doctor’s office, making life that much easier.
  • Seeing a provider after hours: Murphy’s law seems to dictate that we will always get sick at the most inconvenient time. When I was younger, I remember counting down the hours over a weekend so that I could see a provider without racking up thousands for an ER visit. Health eXpress is open from 9 AM to 5 PM on Saturday and Sunday and from 8 AM to 8 PM on weekdays, giving you a lot more options!

To learn more, visit HealtheXpress.com to create a free account and download the app on iTunes and the Google Play store.

Have you ever paid a virtual visit to a health care provider like this? Would you use Health eXpress?

Saving Money on Travel Essentials With Groupon Coupons

This is a partnered post.

It’s an extra-busy week for me as I prepare my to-do list in advance of a business trip to New York this Saturday. I keep an ongoing list in an app on my phone with all my suitcase necessities, which makes it easy to see what I need to pack. Since I travel a lot, I try to order some of my essentials in advance online for convenience and to cut costs. And because I’m the coupon connoisseur, I was glad to discover Groupon Coupons, a new addition to the classic Groupon site that offers a free, no-registration-required database featuring 55,000 coupon codes and sales across big names like Walmart, Macy’s, PetSmart, and many more. Deals are listed by category, making it easy to find a specific item.

And fortunately for us frequent fliers, Groupon Coupons has travel deals across a variety of categories:

  1. Luggage: I bought a new suitcase last summer, but it has the nasty habit of tipping over if I don’t hold onto the handle at all times, so I keep meaning to replace it. For those of you who are also in the market for a new roller bag, perhaps you should check out the free shipping at Delsey Luggage!
  2. Air Fare & Hotels: Groupon Coupons has a dedicated “Travel” section listing promos for plane tickets, hotel bookings, and car rentals.
  3. Travel size items: I like to keep trial size samples that I receive to the side, so that I have something convenient on hand to meet 3-1-1 guidelines when it’s time to pack my carry-on! Groupon Coupons has a free samples section where you can sign up for some freebies for the next time you need to leave town!

Groupon Coupons

Have you visited Groupon Coupons yet? What are your travel must-haves?

Giving Forward Campaign For Andrew

My bloggy buddy Virginia over at That Bald Chick shared today that one of her son’s friends, Andrew, is going through treatments for Leukemia. His family has set up a GiveForward page to help with the medical expenses, and GiveForward has announced that it will donate $25 to the family per blog post written about the cause, up to $1,000; and if 30 bloggers post by today, November 24th, they’ll donate an additional $200. So in support of the family, I am sharing my post – you can click here to view their GiveForward page and learn more; they also have a Facebook page with more information here.

Making the Sunscreen Grade: Warding Off Burns Through Labor Day & Beyond

Coppertone in the sand

Samples provided. This article is not intended as medical advice; always consult with a doctor regarding skin care.

Whether you’re headed to the beach, a picnic, or have other big Labor Day plans, you’ve probably remembered to tuck a bottle of sunscreen in your beach bag. But what is your sun care routine like after the heyday of summer, as we transition into back-to-school and beyond? Most people think of sunscreen as something they apply on a hot day, but sun protection is important year-round.

In light of this, Coppertone has released their 2nd annual Making The Sunscreen Grade program, which includes hints, tips, and a downloadable sun care guide. There is a special section dedicated to “Back to School”, which outlines some common things to be aware of regarding sun care at school. This has been an issue in the news recently, as some schools have restrictions on whether students may bring sunscreen or not; the American Academy of Dermatology recently released a statement encouraging schools and summer camps to allow sunscreen without requiring a doctor’s note. There’s a lot to think about on this topic, so it’s good to be proactive and aware.

Personally, my skin burns very easily, and in the last two years I’ve been very careful to slather on more sunscreen than I think I’ll need. Guess what? I’ve stood under some blistering sun and traveled to hot places without sustaining any burns. Yeah! In fact, I’m often the only person in a group to have sunscreen in my purse, and I notice my pals will all say they don’t need any of my sunscreen…then a few hours, they’ll notice their skin starting to turn pink and say, “Hey – do you still have that sunscreen by any chance?”. And I am always eager to share! And in fact, I have quite literally shared my bottles of Coppertone that I’ve written about here on a few occasions.

So, what with all that sunscreen getting used, I was glad to replenish my supply as it began to dwindle after a summer of traveling! Among the samples I received were:

  • Coppertone Sport AccuSpray: I really like the Sport line from Coppertone, and spray sunscreen makes it SO EASY to apply and really saves time!
  • Coppertone ClearlySheer Beach & Pool Spray: This spray is really unique to any sunscreen I’ve ever used because it has a consistency more like a moisturizer than a sticky sunscreen, and it has a really nice fragrance. This is one of my very favorites because I rely on sunscreen so much and it’s usually a little greasy/gross to wear. This one isn’t pictured because I just got through traveling for 3 weeks and it was a staple in my bags during that time…and I’m not sure where it is right now. ;)
  • Coppertone Clearly Sheer For Beach & Pool: Of course, we can’t take large aerosol bottles on planes, so this one will be great to pack in my bags for long trips.
  • Coppertone Clearly Sheer For Sunny Days: And this one is the perfect size to take in my carry-on luggage since it’s 2 oz!

Did you go through a lot of sunscreen over the summer? Are you re-stocking for Fall, too?

Taking The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

My friend Nicole at SAHMReviews nominated me for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge yesterday, to which I said: Challenge accepted. Jai was a good sport and joined in the fun, so we spent our Monday evening dumping cold water on each other in the Oregon fog. The point of this challenge is to raise awareness and funds for ALS, also known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease”, by encouraging people to click, watch, laugh, and learn more. Those challenged are asked to make a donation to ALSA.org, which I was glad to do, as the organization has been given a four-star rating by Charity Navigator. You can donate online and learn more by clicking here.

Have any of you been nominated for the Ice Bucket Challenge?