Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Bath and Body Works Candle Haul

Friends, we have been sicker than sick around here!  My seven year old has been coughing off and on all winter.  It had gotten better but then at church one day it was so obnoxious and embarrassing how much she was coughing.  Now she is quite the drama queen so we just thought she was over exaggerating, cause that's the kind of kid she can be. I'm sure everyone around her thought she had the plague!  Well, turns out she kinda sorta did!

I was also so congested, with the sorest throat I can remember, and having some ear pain.  We both went into the doctor two weeks or so ago.  Mine was a very nasty virus; there wasn't much they could do but advise rest, fluids, etc.  I was so bad off Brad had to take a few days off because I couldn't do much but lay in bed, drugged up on Sudafed.  When he did go back to work, I only made it through the day by napping during LB's nap time and going to bed the minute Brad came home at night.

While dealing with all that fun we had both kids at home because E was on a five day course of antibiotics for parapertussis, as in a strain of whooping cough!  It wasn't the form they have to report to the health department but it was still quite contagious.  She was bouncing off the walls and horribly bored because I couldn't do to much being sick myself.  On top of all this the little guy also had an ear infection so all three of us were on round the clock medication.  Brad was the only one feeling marginally well, and he had a cold too.  Unfortunately for him, he was best off of us and had to assume most of the parenting and house chores.

I know you are thinking, what does this have to do with shopping?  Well, for one I wanted to explain why there has been almost no activity here on the blog.  Sheer exhaustion, but I'm almost back to normal now.  Two, being stuck inside for over a week meant I was itching to get out and do a little shopping.

I stocked up on Bath & Body Works 3 wick candles back in the fall, snagging several to give as teacher gifts when they were 2 for $20.  In the new year they raised their candle price to $22.50, not that I'd ever pay that.  Emails started coming for their sale and I so wanted to go but the weather has been so off and on bad I hadn't been able to make it out to a store.  Then on day before the last day of the sale - last Saturday, I finally hit one up and my plan was to get the Garden Strawberry and one other scent.

Clearly, that didn't happen!  Not only did Garden Strawberry not make the final selection, neither did Pink Passion Fruit, the other one I thought we'd end up with.  I did sort of stick within my comfort zone with more that one with a lemon/citrus scent.  The Red Velvet Cupcake was E's pick, and it is pretty yummy.  She also wanted the Frosted Cupcake but I drew the line at one baked scent.

So tell me, what have you splurged on lately?


Monday, February 24, 2014

Out with Birchbox & In with Ipsy & Julep

I have given Birchbox six months and after a few meh boxes and seeing the Ipsy boxes my friends get and that seem much better I have decided to make the jump.  Rumor is that, it can be hard to get of the Ipsy wait list if you aren't willing to share via Facebook.  I did that and was signed up for next month's box right away.

Liz from My Subscription Addiction has a fun little series going on Birchbox vs Ipsy each month, that anyone interested in dipping their toes into the beauty subscription box world should check out.  I think it was Jennifer from Ramblings of a Suburban Mom, the other blog I read for updates and information on monthly subscription boxes, who wrote that Birchbox is the gateway drug to other subscription services and I think that may very well be true for me.  I love getting a little box of fun so much that I didn't want it to stop with the cancellation of my Birchbox membership.

This is my February 2014 Step and Repeat Birchbox:

Dr. Brant Exclusive Camera Ready Kit: The sample is for one of four products; I got Pores No More, which is supposed to minimize the appearance of pores & help absorb excess oil.  To be completely honest I haven't tried it.  This kind of thing never gets me overly excited.

Benefit Fakeup: This brightens and moisturizes your under eyes. I was so so hoping for a Benefit sample, at least one during my Birchbox run and I finally got one.  Hmmm...not what I was thinking of.  I don't really worry about my under eyes, they're kinda hidden by my glasses anyway and I am low key when it comes to base make up so I have never actually used an under eye concealer.  Ever.  Again a nice high end company maintenance product.  Where is the color?

OPI Sheet Tints in I Can Teal You Like Me: Oh gee, here's the color, LOL!  This is the second blue nail color product they've sent me!  I am not diggin' it at all, I am more of a traditionalist when it comes to nail colors and my profile pretty clearly states I am not into experimenting.  I'll be honest f the magenta color had been sent I probably wouldn't have loved it, but I would've liked it a lot more than this.

Agave Healing Oil Treatment: A hair treatment that helps hair build resiliency as it boosts vibrancy, shine, and color.  I did try this one out and liked it.  This would probably be helpful in the summer when my hair tends to get frizzy in humidity or when I air dry my hair for natural waves.

This month a Beauty Extra was included, a Benefit Big Easy foil pack that did not even contain enough to give it a single try.  Birchbox fail.  I thought it was kinda insulting and really my overall impression of the box would've been better if they hadn't even sent it.  Seriously, we're talking samples like you sometimes get inside of beauty magazines, a real joke for a service you are paying for.  Yes it came with a coupon but from the sample I definitely couldn't tell enough to plunk down 38 bucks for it.

In general the best products I've found through Birchbox during the last six months have all been for hair.  Specifically, I've really liked the Beauty Protector Protect & Shampoo and their Protect & Condition.  I felt like I noticed and saw an immediate difference in my hair.  The other best find for me was the 12 Benefits Instant Healthy Hair Treatment.  But really, I'm more excited about color and make up, I love lipstick, glosses & balms, nail polish, eye shadow...and I just wasn't feeling like I was satisfied so it was time to look at other options.

I feel like I do have several skin care samples still to try out, that are probably quite awesome, and higher priced companies are represented in Birchbox so it's time to try out Ipsy, since I'm hoping to stick with a lower price point for boxes.  My friend Wendy switched over and she loves it so I am hoping I will too.  Just to do a little comparison, shown above is a picture of the February Ipsy glam bag reveal from their site.  Like Birchbox there are variations of the bag each month so not everyone gets the same thing but I like how the samples are either full size or more generously sized.  Plus this bag-a-holic loves that you get a cosmetic bag each month.  Here is Jennifer's review of her February Ipsy from Ramblings of a Suburban Mom, which shows another variation.

Now sometimes she doesn't seem overly thrilled with her Ipsy bags but I've read obsessively looked at her archives enough to know I would agree with her that each month it is worth the $10 price.  I can't say I've always felt that about Birchbox so I think I will be happier overall with Ipsy.  Plus to be honest, thus far I've been so low maintenance with beauty products I don't need the super high end ones to help me some exposure to new brands.

Due to going back through Jennifer's archives, I'm now through May 2013, like a crazy obsessed blog reader while researching a better match for a beauty subscription service I've also decided to sign up Julep's Maven program.  See all her Julep reviews, here.  All those boxes she gets of beautifully colored polishes made me want some too!  It's eye candy for sure!

The introduction box is free with a code, shown on their site, and with shipping only $3.99.  I took their quiz and was a Classic with a Twist.  However, the nail colors for that looked a lot like what I already have so I opted to get the Bombshell Welcome Box, shown above, instead.  I'm a little nervous about that army green frost shade but I think it's actually neutral enough to be fun for fall.   And I gotta have that pink champagne metallic!  I love glittery polish.  I was very tempted to do some add ons when ordering but resisted so I can see if I like the polish.  Some reviews I read don't like the bottle or the polish so this is a great way to check it out.

And since I am down the rabbit hole & falling deeper into the subbing world I'll mention that I'm seriously considering giving Lip Factory a try next month so I can score their all lip product box and Glossybox is also on my list.  I think I'm going to wait and see how I like Ipsy, because those two are both double the price of Ipsy but it seems to really be a good value.  Now that I have a very active 2 year old little guy I just don't have the time to be browsing make up anymore, mainly because he throws an absolute fit when I try to shop, so I'm finding these are great ways to try new stuff that I wouldn't otherwise.  I'll be updating with how I like the new services, can't wait to get my boxes!


This post contains affiliate links.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Quick & Easy Ways to Celebrate Valentine's Day with Kids

Everyone in our family is sick.  The second grader is home again, the two year old is on antibiotics for an ear infection.  I have laryngitis and one of the worst colds I can remember, and Brad, well he's sick too but since he's the more healthy of the two parents he is on parental duties!

With Valentine's Day this Friday I am glad we've already had a thematic celebration with friends of ours and that I try to do little Valentine related things all month long.  Here are some easy ways to celebrate that don't require a lot of preparation that we've done.

Simple Food:

I shared a picture in my last post, but to keep things all together I'll include it here again.  Inspired by this pin I used what I had on hand to make a quick version for my Nutella loving daughter.  Mine uses frozen waffles toasted, spread with Nutella, and then topped with cut up strawberries & Reddi Wip.

The 14th is a school day, so this is just the type of meal easy to put on the table during hectic mornings!  Nothing from scratch here, but it sure looks fancy and is not the kind of thing normally served before heading out to the bus!

My daughter wants to have something pink for Valentine's Day.  This dip is one of the very easiest recipes I've ever seen.  So simple, my seven year old can make it and be the person who actually made the pink contribution to our meal.

2 Ingredient Fruit Dip:
  • 1 8 ounce container of strawberry flavored cream cheese
  • 1 7 ounce jar of marshmallow creme
Mix both ingredients until well blended.  Refrigerate for at least one hour.  Serve with fruit.  Really, that's it!

Many of you will remember this one from your own childhood.  It's a classic and it's pretty color makes it perfect for Valentine's Day.

I made this punch with our Brownie troop last month, so please pardon the blue Tupperware punch bowl!  When I made it again earlier this month I put it in a clear glass trifle dish and it was very pretty!

3 Ingredient Party Punch:

1 2 Liter Lemon Lime flavored Soda
1 bottle of Hawaiian Punch or other fruit flavored drink
1 container of orange flavored sherbet

Mix equal parts of soda and fruit juice together in a bowl.  Add scoops of sherbet and watch it foam.  Pour into glasses and enjoy!

Do It Yourself Dinner:

We rounded out our meal with make your own croissant sandwiches.  An assortment of pretty rolled deli meats, sliced cheeses, and sandwich fixings laid out attractively on platters is a fun take on a do it yourself food bar.  Kids always like helping make their own meal and it's yet another way to make your night stand out from the regular routine of dinner.  Livin' the Mommy Life shared a wonderfully styled example of a Sandwich Bar she did for a birthday party, that shows how the meats & cheese look laid out.

Another kid friendly meal ideas we've done that was a hit was making your own pizzas using either slit English muffins you toast after toppings have been added or biscuit dough from a tube.  The dough is perfectly portioned for an individual pizza and you can form it into a heart shape before baking.  Extra credit if you try something like this.

Easy Treats:

With so many free and cute printables available, there is no reason to reinvent the wheel.  Just take a look at Pinterest and you'll find so many choices the hardest part will be actually picking one to use.  Then just print and use.  Toss them in a $1 bucket from Target and we're good to go!

I picked this printable from Just Another Day in Paradise because it's not just a cute saying but it also is perfect for a little gift that's not yet more candy.  Not that we didn't give candy also, but I liked how the Burt's Bees lip balm tied in with the printable and is useful, especially during this time of year!  No more chapped lips and you've shown a special friend how much they mean to you.

Kids Crafts:

When we had our Valentine themed get together, which is when we tried out most of these ideas, my friend brought over a cute pre-made craft kit.  All the supplies came with it, except for craft glue, but most of the pieces were sticky backed.  The girls got their craft on, each made three of these little pom pom critters, and were very happy.  The moms were happy too.  No one had to run around cutting out shapes or buying little baggies of supplies that always come with too much, leftovers that often don't get used.

But if you are in a DIY mood, here are some cute Valentine Pom Monsters that are similar you could try.

How are you making Valentine's memorable this year?


Sharing this post at House on the Way.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Valentine's Day Photo Card Sign - Freebie

The kids and I took some pictures for the Valentine's Day cards we will be sending to family and close friends yesterday.  I made a simple photo prop for them to hold with our message on it.

Then I printed out my photos and attached them to folded cardstock for the front of my cards.  For the inside I made text box and added "SWAK! And a hug, too!" for the sentiment.  Printed those out and glue inside.  Easy Peasy.  Done!

Here is a copy of the photo card sign the kids are holding.  It has been sized to an 8X10 jpeg for your convenience and is ready to pop into a frame.  If you download, please let me know if you have any issues with getting it from DropBox.  If you use it, please drop me a line and share!  I'd love to see it.

CREDITS: Tiny White Stamped Hearts Digital Paper courtesy of Mel Stampz


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

In Our Kitchen via Instagram

If you follow me on Instagram, it might look like we haven't done much but eat lately!  Well, that might be right, in some ways.  We've been trying several new recipes and the best of them were certainly worth sharing.

Both Brad and I liked this Broccoli Salad, it's got a light and tangy dressing plus the grapes are a lot easier on my sugars than raisins.  Overall, this one is a lot less sweet than the kind our grocery store's delicatessen makes so it's a win for this diabetic!

My daughter wanted to celebrate Chinese New Year, even though I explained to her Koreans don't normally do so.  As a compromise we made fried man doo, which are Korean meat & vegetable filled dumplings.  Guess who didn't like them?  More for me and Brad!

For a Super Bowl party I made pico de gallo from scratch for the first time, using the Pioneer Woman's recipe.  I used just one jalapeno and not three in mine.  I also used some to make chunky guacamole as well.

Then both the pico de gallo & guacamole went into a layered bean dip, minus two of the layers - olives were on the side and it's not the right time of year to be grilling corn, recipe also from Pioneer Woman and in her latest book.  

Mondays are always busy for us since E has dance and crock pot meals are great for days like that.  This Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce is yummy!  It does make a lot so you have lots of leftovers, perfect for freezing and having on hand for more quick dinners or to get started on things like lasagna.

Inspired by this pin I used what I had on hand to make a quick version for my Nutella loving daughter.  Mine uses frozen waffles spread with Nutella, topped with cut up strawberries and Reddi Wip.  Easy peasy and while this wasn't for Valentine's Day, wouldn't it make a great breakfast on the 14th?


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Project Life: August 2013

(August 11-17)

Hello Project Life friends!  It's been awhile since I shared update, and yes, I'm aware many have moved onto 2014.  For the most part I am finished up with last year, but as always am very behind posting.  To speed things up a bit, I'm going to be sharing some favorite spreads from months at a time until I finish 2013.  Click on the photos for a closer look.

(Aug 16 Insert)

Hopefully, by then I'll have my 2014 pictures in hand and will have made some progress on assembling this year's pages.  With it being so cold here in the Midwest and with so much snow, I haven't been good about sending photos off for developing.  But I've been taking good notes each day so I'm pretty confident putting January together will go pretty quickly.

(Aug 16 - Placed in Album Next to Insert Shown Above)

Since I have several pages to share at once, I will won't add much detail as to the supplies but if you are curious about something, don't hesitate to ask in the comment section.  Most are either Becky Higgins Project Life, Simple Stories, or MAMBI but I know there is also some Doodlebug Designs, Michael's Recollections brand, and AC Thickers used too.  As always, some details have been edited out for privacy.

(Aug 19 & 23)

We had so much going on last summer that many activities were scrapbooked pocket page style and do not follow the weekly format.  Sometimes, I would do a weekly page layout and then follow that week in my album with any full page activities from the week, right after.  Make sense?  I like to keep things chronological but many times it made more sense to do it that way, for me.

(August 24)

This was a special outing my mom planned for a ladies day out.  The second side of the insert and the right side of the spread is shown below.

I used part of an informational brochure to add some information about the house on second side of the insert.

(Aug 24-25)

That was one busy weekend!  After our ladies day, we picked up my friend's daughter and brought her back to our house for a sleepover, the first time E had anyone over.

(Aug 26-31)

Meeting the new teacher is always exciting!  This year she has a great one, that really understand her personality and learning style.

(Aug 29)

Each month last summer we had a special family activity that was a more involved and in both June & July we went on an overnight trip.  For August we went to one of Michigan's Great Lakes, yes it mean several hours in the car between driving there and back, but after a long day in the sand I always like coming home to my own bed!

This is the second of two double page spreads.  The first one has a summary type page with photos of all of us.  The second is a half page featuring E at the beach and the double page above highlights B's experience.  I really like how the top half of the right side turned out, the only thing that might have made it better is if my journaling had been straight, but hey, you can't have it all...right :)

The beach trip ends with the second half page devoted to E.  At the top I used the other half of the paper I used on B's page on the other side.  Love how this "mini" layout within a pocket page turned out, for once the layering of papers and elements was an enjoyable process and not at all stressful.  The cloned out portion has her name done in the same pink Thickers as the 7 for her age.

So that was August, revisiting it here was fun.  It reminds me that even though it's so cold now, warmer days will return eventually!  I hope you are loving Project Life as much as I am!  Linking this post up to Jessica's blog hop at The Mom Creative.

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