Friday, April 25, 2014

Product Review: New Weight Watchers Ice Cream, the Perfect Addition to an Active Lifestyle

Disclosure: Complimentary samples were provided.  No other compensation was received.  The experiences and opinions related are personal and unbiased.

I love spring and the return of the sun, blue skies, and fresh air after a long winter.  The past one was especially harsh with record making low temperatures and snow fall here in Michigan.  It feels like we've been stuck inside for way too long.

The first few days it hit the fifties it seemed like the neighborhood came alive.  Everyone was outside riding bikes, walking dogs, playing in backyards, and getting active after way too many heavy winter meals and days when it was too cold to go anywhere but the couch to watch television.

My two and a half year old little guy wants to be outside all day, every day and I've been chasing after him as he scoots along in his little vehicles.  I know as the days get nicer and nicer that trend is just going to continue as we head to parks and beaches on our state's famous lakes.

Warm weather also means I start craving some sweet treats and that since I'm so active I'm more apt to give in and indulge in some ice cream!  Now, as many of you know, I am Type II diabetic so you may be thinking, "Now wait a second, ice cream?"  Yes, it can be part of my meal plan with a careful balance of physical activity, portion control, and overall healthy food choices.

This is where Weight Watchers ice cream fits in perfectly for me.  These portion controlled cups of their new low fat ice cream cups and Greek frozen yogurt cups are great ways for me to indulge a little, as my dietitian stresses is very important, so I don't feel deprived and then go overboard.  As long as I balance my treats with some activity my blood sugar levels stay within target.

The new Weight Watchers Low Fat Ice Cream Cups have been released in two classic flavors, both favorites of mine!  The Chocolate Fudge Brownie combines creamy chocolate ice cream with brownie pieces, yum!  It really satisfies my chocolate cravings.

The carbohydrates per serving of this flavor is 22g and when you take off the 3g of dietary fiber that brings it to 19g per single serving cup.  That's only slightly more than the 15g of carbohydrates that counts as one of my servings I keep track of per day.  I love being able to indulge without feeling too guilty and with about 20-30 minutes of activity I can even "earn" my serving of carbohydrates back.

Now as a diabetic, I am mostly concerned about how carbohydrates aka sugars affect my blood sugar levels for good diabetic control.  That's the first thing I check when looking at nutrition facts for a product, but I know for good overall diet other things like calories, fat and protein are also important.  Both the Chocolate Fudge Brownie and Mint Chocolate Chip varieties have just 100 calories and 1g of fat for a 3 PointsPlus value per cup.  It's so nice to know that while I concentrate on carb counting, Weight Watchers has taken care of keeping this a sensible treat that won't mess up my diet!

Mint Chocolate Chip is one of my very favorite ice cream flavors so I was ecstatic to find this Weight Watchers version.  I have to confess, I let myself eat one of these without any guilt at all!  I love the cool, creamy, and refreshing taste!  I used to try not to keep this flavor at home for fear of binging so I'd only get it out at ice cream parlors and the like, but the amount I'd get was always way too much.  These single serving cups are a much better way for me to have ice cream in my life and help me keep better track of the nutritional value of what I'm putting in my mouth!

Besides the Mint Chocolate Chip my other favorite flavor of the new varieties that come in a single serving cup were the absolutely fantastic Weight Watchers Greek Frozen Yogurt Cups in Strawberry Swirl.  Since these are frozen yogurt they still have the benefits of Greek yogurt such as active cultures and 5g of protein but are still just 100 calories with a PointsPlus value of 3.

The hint of strawberry is what makes these so delicious.  Strawberries equal summer to me so I'm sure I'll be snacking on these all season long.  These have 19g of carbohydrates, minus the 2 dietary fiber that's down to 17g and the 5g of protein balance out the difference between the 17g and my target 15g of carbs per serving.  This means for me, this is perfectly portioned carbs!

The Weight Watchers Greek Frozen Yogurt Cups also come with a black cherry swirl  These were my least favorite flavor from this tasting.  It's a personal thing, I don't really like black cherry flavor unless it's really faint but this tastes pretty full bodied to me.  This is really is a good thing for black cherry fans, I'm sure they'll be really happy with them.  After all, if you try out a particular flavor you want to actually taste like it!

All this deliciousness is waiting for you!  The new Weight Watchers low fat ice cream cups and Greek frozen yogurt cups are now available at grocery stores nationwide and have a suggested retail of $4.99

Before I move on, I think I should point out and you may have noticed it in my photos, the swirl that is evident in the packaging photo on the Greek frozen yogurt doesn't really show up as much in the actual product.  This didn't bother me, it's much more subdued and not as evenly distributed in real life.  I know food packaging usually shows ideal conditions, but I've always found images on Weight Watchers Ice Cream varieties to be very true to life, the exception being this one.

Besides the single serving sized cups of ice cream and frozen yogurt that are so perfect for me, as I can guarantee I could never scoop up a perfectly portioned sized one on my own, I also got these.  To be completely frank, I wasn't too excited by the idea of them because due to my lower sodium diet I find most food with "Salted" in the title way too salty to be palatable.

Wow, not the case at all with the new Weight Watchers Salted Caramel Candy Bar!  In fact, they are hands down my favorite from this shipment of samples and might just be my all time favorite Weight Watchers ice cream ever, a title formerly held by the Dark Chocolate Dulce de Leche Ice Cream Bars followed by the English Toffee Crunch Bars, currently in my freezer, as well for a close second.

I mean how could anyone not be into this!  The saltiness of the caramel is balanced so perfectly by the creamy ice cream for one awesome truly decadent tasting treat.  I ate all of these but one before taking the pictures for this post.  I managed to save just one but as you can see from above, it's now history, and at the top of my shopping list for our next trip to the grocery store!

These do have a slightly higher calorie count at 120 versus 100 but the cars are only 16g per bar and by now you know my magic number is 15 so we're so close before taking into account the dietary fiber (2g) and protien (2g).  It's like these Weight Watchers Salted Caramel Candy Bars were destined to be eaten by me!

Are you also planning to incorporate Weight Watchers ice cream into your active lifestyle this spring and summer?  You totally should, as the weather gets better and we're all out there moving and playing these are a great tasting way to have your sweets without worrying they'll be counterproductive to your diet and exercise regimen!  Check out all the Weight Watchers ice cream to find your new favorite treat!


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

April 2014 Ipsy Glam Bag Review

This post contains an ipsy referral link, product links are for information purposes & I do not receive any kind of compensation for these.  This is not a sponsored post.

Beauty rocks at Ipsy and so did this month's bag!  I got five items and a really cute record themed bag so let's check them out!

pop! goes the shadow by Elizabeth Mott in Champagne, Full Size $12.99: This item alone is more than the entire ipsy bag, proving that this is one great subscription!  I like the clear packaging and this shimmery color would make a great base color.  It needs a primer if you don't want to have to use several swipes.  It was nice to find such a pretty and usable color included, but for a few dollars more I can get a MAC shadow and in my opinion those are far superior in performance.

Urban Decay 24/7 Velvet Glide-On Eye Pencil Travel Size in Black Velvet, Full Size $20: This is travel sized but nearly full size so it was great to find it inside of my cute record themed bag this month.  Urban Decay is super popular and on the more expensive side so I had yet to try anything by them.

On a side note, I needed a new eye liner and almost bought one last weekend but then remembered that so many beauty subscription boxes seem to send eye liners that people complain about it.  My makeup collection is fairly small, one of the main reasons I got into monthly subscription services so maybe in time I will think that too, but for now I was ecstatic to get an eye liner in both my April Ipsy and BB.

Coastal Scents Medium Eye Shadow Brush, $2.49: I was surprised by just how affordable this brush is!  It will be great for shading the crease and highlighting the brow bone.  I needed a bush just like this so it's a good addition to my collection and holds up nicely in comparison to my MAC brushes. Not the same by any means but still quite nice.

Starlooks Luscious Longwear Lip Pencil in Naked, Full Size $14: Another full sized "sample" from what I can tell, that retails for more that the cost of the bag!  This is supposed to be a nude color but not for me.  It looked kinda pinkish orange and not in a good way.  However, it's perfectly fine for lining and filling in my lips to add staying power for lip stick so it will come in handy.  I would have been happier with the Apple Pink Cailyn Tinted Lip Balm or the Mary Kay Jelly Lip Gloss so hopefully Ipsy will sample those in the months to come.

dr. brandt microdermabrasion, Full Size: $78: I previously got this sample from Birchbox but never tried it because, seriously seventy eight bucks?!  I didn't think the sample was enough to let me know if did all the amazing things it supposed to do and I wasn't going to be ordering a full sized product unless I knew for sure it would deliver.

However, I have used this once so far and a little goes a long way so the sample size is actually more generous than it might look at first glance.  I was really happy with how smooth my skin felt afterward.  I would use with a gentle touch while massaging because it did make my cheek quite red for awhile.  Now that I have two samples to work through, I'm really going to be able to put this to the test.

So that was pretty much awesome with three full sized products and one just about with the Urban Decay.  This was great for the price and I will get use out of everything.  At first I thought Ipsy pretty much beat Birchbox but when I take into consideration that with the review points I earn at BB that box only cost $3, well I have to give it up to Birchbox.  Both subscription services were well worth their $10 price!


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Citrus Lane: April 2014 Box Review

This post contains affiliate links, which save you and me both $$$ :) As always, I'm very appreciative if you decide to sign up and use my link. You'll save 50% off your first box if you do!

This is our second month as subscribers to Citrus Lane and this time my little guy knew just what this box on the front door step meant, goodies for him!  Today is the LAST day to take advantage of the semi-annual sale at Citrus Lane with up to 44% a subscription.  Once you see what we got I know you are going to see what a deal that is!

Tools and Things from Green Toys: The actual set comes with more in it, including a tool in which to put all your pieces.  This mini configuration was created just for Citrus Lane so I can't give a suggested retail value but it was certainly an immediate hit with my 33 month old.  He loves his Green Toys vehicles and this is already a favorite toy company in our household.  These contain no BPA, phthalates, PVC, or external coatings.

Green Eats Tumbler 2 Pack, $5.95: He's becoming more and more interested in drinking out of real cups, he loves the getting to use the little paper ones in the bathroom.  I wasn't sure what our options were for study kid sized cups and then these came, perfect!  He loves them and now wants to only drink out of them.  He's pretty cute doing it too, see what I mean?

Like the Tools and Things set above, these are also by Green Toys, an environmentally friendly toy company that uses 100% recycled plastic milk containers to make tumblers that has no melamine, BPA, phthalates, PVC, or external coatings. And yes, they are dishwasher safe too!

On a side note: LB will be rocking this smile until his front permanent teeth come in.  He fell and smashed his face into our wood floors.  I even picked a wood splinter out of his mouth right after it happened.  One tooth has such a big chip, I thought it was been pushed up into his gums!  Our dentist said it was a best case - worst scenario, meaning that yes he chipped his tooth and possibly damaged the other.  But, it's purely cosmetic as the roots weren't damaged and they didn't get pushed up into where the adult teeth are developing.  The chip will last until it falls out and the tooth next to it might eventually turn grey but will in time fall out too.

Oh it was "exciting" around here last week.  My oldest also fell, she did it off her new scooter and cried so much I thought she broke a leg/ankle.  Several of the neighbors came out onto their decks and were ready to run out to help she made such a commotion.  Turns out she just cried really really loud and there was barely a scrape but after those two heart racing events I told them I needed a break from all that!

The Prince's Bedtime: Paperback & CD set ($9.99): This title from Barefoot books is one we don't already own, we have a rather extensive library due to my teaching days and gifts from family.  One thing I was worried about when joining a children's subscription service was that most of the books I had seen others get in previous boxes we already owned.  So it was very nice to receive this one since Barefoot Books is a publisher that can trusted to feature really quality tales and illustrations.  I like how this one comes with a CD and it's still reasonably priced for a combo.

Description: Meet a young prince who refuses to go to sleep! The entire kingdom comes out to lend a hand in this rhyming bedtime adventure. There is a hullabaloo of activity—jugglers juggling, magicians hypnotizing, dancers dancing—but it is the wonder of a good story that finally does the trick. Book with CD editions include story read by actor Jim Broadbent and includes two versions of the story: one with page-turn chimes and one without.

Mrs. Meyer's Lemon Verbena Dish Soap, Full Size $3.99:  We received a travel size and I love the smell.  My husband jokes that I like everything to smell like Lemon Pledge, but it's kinda true.  I just associate cleanliness with lemon scents.  I like this little size a lot for travel.  Parents of toddlers know that road trips can be difficult when your kiddo can only drink out of a sippy cup and you have to wash those suckers every night at the hotel.

Free Greeting Card from Treat: We also got a card with a code for a free card from Treat.  I have used them before and been happy with their designs and quality.  I will definitely put this to good use!

Overall: This box cost us $17.67 and I'm happy with the value and variety of items we received.  I think we definitely got more than the purchase price and everything was a quality item.


Monday, April 21, 2014

April 2014 Birchbox Review

This post contains a Birchbox referral link, product links are for information purposes & I do not receive any kind of compensation for these.  This is not a sponsored post.

This month's theme is Rainy Days and I think it's also my best Birchbox ever!  I'm really excited for three of the items as they are all from brands I've never tried before.  Before we get started, I'll just mention that each subscriber got a card from the Birchbox 52 Bright Ideas for a Rainy Day set.  They are printed on heavy cardstock and each features a tip along with an original illustration.  I thought they were a fun little extra.

Okay, now let's dig in!  I'll list them in order of most excited to try on down...also, this month I used all iPhone pictures so I'm sorry for the less than usual image quality.

theBalm, How 'Bout Them Apples Cheek & Lip Cream (Full Size, $32):  I got the shade Pie and the packaging is oh so cute!  Yes it's kinda tiny but for some reason, this time it works!  I really wanted this last month, but ended up getting a fantastic Stila lip glaze, since this can be used on both cheeks and lips I don't think both would be included in one Birchbox, so I couldn't complain too much.  I'm excited to now get to try it out.

This creamy stain can be applied to either the lips or cheeks.  It's a little light in pigmentation for my lips but it's super cute as a blush and although I've had trouble working with cream formulas before this went on beautifully.

Cynthia Rowley Beauty, Black Eyeliner (Full Size, $16): Like the previous sample, this product has a top notch presentation.  The black and gold is just so luxe.  It glides on smoothly and if you work quickly you can smudge it a bit for a smokey look.  This product is a Birchbox exclusive and come in other colors like silver, charcoal, and violet...each of which I think would be other great ones to try!  I have used this twice so far and really liked how smoothly it went on.

Klorane, Gentle Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk (Full Size, $18): I have never tried a dry shampoo but they seem to be all the rage among the YouTube Beauty Mavens I watch.  I've been curious to see how they work so this is perfect.  I have only used it on the morning after a shower kind of day and I did think it brought back some volume.  I don't really like to go longer than that between washings but I may try just so I can see how it work then.  It a nice kind of thing to have on hand for hectic mornings.

nyakio, Kenyan Coffee Face Polish, Body Scrub & Hydrating Face Oil with Kola Nut (Full Sizes $34-55): These samples came in the form of the dreaded foil packs but they are packaged in a nicer way the normal, within their own fold out, as a higher end brand should present themselves.  This gives them a more substantive look that when foil packs are just randomly tossed in, that always looks cheapy in my opinion.  That being said, since it's a three in one kind of thing, this is acceptable as a sample but each one is more of a one use trial size.

  • Kenyan Coffee Face Polish (Full Size, $34): Face cleaners and exfoliant in one, this contains Kenyan coffee and jojoba to remove dull skin while lemongrass and neroli oils moisturize.  I just did a facial mask so I need to wait a day or two to try this one out.
  • Kenyan Coffee Body Scrub (Full Size, $55): Described as a blend of Kenyan coffee beans and nourishing oils exfoliates and hydrates, leaving skin renewed and ready for the day ahead: Think of it as skincare’s version of espresso.  If you are a coffee lover you will think this smells fantastic, be warned it has a very strong scent and is more of a black coffee smell and little bit much for my personal taste.  Sadly the sample isn't enough to use for your whole body to really get a feel for it, but it did make my dry winter legs feel a lot nicer and smoother.  To be honest, this is a bit too pricey for me to purchase full size when the one I like from B&BW is only $16 and comes with 3 more ounces.
  • Hydrating Kola Nut Collection (Full Size, $49): Birchbox says that - Just a few drops of the lightweight formula, a blend of eight oils and the African kola nut, last a full 12 hours. Its powerful hydration keeps our skin looking more luminous, even, and youthful all day long. While pricey, I feel like the full sized product would last quite awhile since you only need a little bit.  It felt a little odd to be putting oil on my face versus a moisturizer and I didn't think it did any better of a job than the lotions I normally use.  In fact, I think the lotions do a better job plus they have SPF so I am not tempted to switch for that reason alone.  More importantly, it had a very strong and distasteful scent.  It lingered after application and this was really not for me. 

The last thing I received was a Lifestyle Extra. This Maple Pumpkin Seeds with Sea Salt KIND Healthy Grain Bar was way too salty for me.  I couldn't take more than two bites and it wasn't for my husband either.  We tend to have a low sodium diet so I think this was just the wrong flavor for us.  The Dark Chocolate Chunk or Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate might have been more successful for us.  These retail for $11.88 for a box of $15.


I received three items that more than make this a top notch Birchbox for me!  I think they more than equal the $10 purchase price and since I get to review the nyakio samples individually I have seven items I can review for 10 points a piece.  That means my reviews will earn me $7 to spend in the Birchbox store and bring the cost of this month's box to just $3!!!


Monday, April 7, 2014

Upcycled Birchboxes into Gift Boxes

Birchbox sends my monthly subscription of beauty & life style samples in sturdy little kraft colored lidded boxes.  They are so nice that I always keep them.  I find they are handy for all sorts of things.  For instance, I keep all my information cards in the empty one from December.  That one was special because it has Merry & Bright embossed on it.  The others all have Birchbox across the middle, but it's easy to cover that up and repurpose the boxes.

We are meeting friends for an Easter get together next weekend and I packaged up a little gift for each of the girls using a few supplies I already had on hand and an empty Birchbox.  It was easy to do.  I started with a bit of leftover of scrapbook paper, which was notched and then layered some metallic washi tape over it.  Next, I spritzed on pink and green mist to give it a little texture and interest.

The pretty twine was added by cutting three equal lengths and then stapling the ends on the sides of the box lid, tucking the loose ends underneath for a neat finish.  I then did a double bow out of more twine for another pretty touch.  A mini glue dot underneath the knots is a nice discrete way to ensure everything stays in place.

The paper flower was made by punching tissue paper, this sheet was salvaged from a gift previously received and is another way to add a little green crafting to this project.  I used a two inch scallop punch, scrunching them up a bit to give it a layered look, and then secured it together with a green brad.  I used more glue dots to attach it to the lid, along a sweet little wood veneer butterfly for a finishing touch.  I think this lovely box is a delightful way to give a gift.  Plus it is pretty enough to be kept for storage by the recipient.


Birchbox: Lidded Kraft Box
Marvy Uchida: Scallop Circle Punch
Making Memories: Patterned Paper & Green Brad
Target Dollar Spot: Washi Tape
American Crafts: Twine
Recollections: Simple Pastel Spray Ink in Pink Shimmer & Green Shimmer, Wood Veneer Butterflies
Glue Dots: Mini & Kraft Adhesive Dots
Tissue Paper: Unknown Source

If you are unfamiliar with Birchbox, it is a monthly subscription service.  You can see my previous reviews, here.  If you choose to try it out, it would be great if you used my referral link.  I earn points and you get to try cool stuff, it's a win - win!

Sharing this at Life on Lakeshore Drive.


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Julep Review: April 2014 Maven Box, Classic with a Twist

This post contains referral links.  Translation: If you click through and join, I earn points and those = free stuff.  Thank you!

My very first box from Julep as a Maven subscriber arrived on Monday!  I was so very excited because it was awesome how quickly it came, April's box actually arrived on the very last day of March.  New nail color is a fantastic way to start off the month.  This month the colors are all a part of The Vivid Collection and I opted to stay with my default style, Classic with a Twist.

My goodies came all nestled in teal shredded paper that contrasted nicely with the yellow tissue and purple box.  It was not only a vivid collection of colors but a colorful presentation.  Inside were the two polishes, a blush, two candies, and the polish I added on for an extra charge, about $5.  Since a nail polish and a subscription service especially is a bit of a luxury purchase, I am glad they take the time to make it a nice experience with their presentation.

This month's colors were all gorgeous but I had to go with my favorite color, pink and pink.  Yeah, I guess no one is surprised by that!  I wasn't too sure about the orange.  I'm still not as it is indeed, quite vivid, and I think orange is something I'm more comfortable sticking with as a pastel.  I don't think it will look super fabulous against my skin but my sidekick and I will totally be rockin' it when we go cheer on our beloved Detroit Tigers!

Caitlin is THE reason I didn't jump ship from the Classic with a Twist box.  It's described as a "Shocking hibiscus with gold shimmer" and it's hot pink.  I'm very excited to wear more it, besides the little swatch I did on my toe.  It's super pretty, went on smoothly, and completely opaque in two coats. The shimmer is subtle in the bottle and on the nail.  It's bright but still classic.

So like I said before, Mariska is very vivid and full of bold color, with a lovely hint of shimmer.  I may not love it on my fingers but I am all about it for a pedicure.  It really is the perfect bright hot orange.  While this one has a shimmer finish like Caitlin, I thought it dried with a more matte finish.  You will need a top coat to get a really shiny look.

I actually think it was a smart move on Julep to make it that way.  This finish makes the orange a little less of a shocking bold color and better for those, like me, who might want to try out a true orange as opposed to a safer peach tone, without being over the top. It will look fabulous with sandals this summer and I think I will get a lot of wear out of it on my tootsies.  I was pleasantly surprised by how much I like this Mariska, especially since I thought it was going to be a dud for me.

Described as an electric bubblegum sheer with blue sheen, Maren was so pretty in the preview of the month that I thought it would be my favorite from the whole collection so I just HAD to add it on.    Yes, I ended up with yet more pinks but they are actually quite different.

This is a much more subdued bright pink because of the sheerness.  Three thin coats and it was not quite opaque, but I didn't really want it to be.  Sometimes I like the less done but still a lot of color look, if that makes any sense at all.  It's quite pretty with just two light coats, you get quite a bit of sheer pink color and shimmer but it's just more subtle.  I would feel comfortable wearing this to Easter mass, as a bright versus a pastel and not feel it was perhaps a bit too loud for the situation.

Since I had just done my nails the day before my box arrived, I did the swatches on my toes.  This way I could see how the formula applied and looked.  I will spare you all from having to see my feet, they are not camera ready! If anyone is just dying to see the polish on the nails, let me know and I will Instragram each one, as I wear them :)

I believe this is the debut of their new line of Glow Pore Minimizing Blushes and Bronzers.  I was a lot more interested in a bronzer as I almost never wear blush but I've also never had one in such a pretty peach shade either.  Unfortunately for me, a bronzer was not an option in my box.  I had hoped it would be a choice between blush or bronzer and then shades.  Okay, that's just my two cents...I am actually quite happy with my blush but that's how I felt going in.

I could not capture the color of this Peach Bellini shade very well at all.  It's much prettier in person and less pinky.  It has a subtle shimmer that the camera didn't pick up, which must be the white diamond powder it contains and that give cheeks a luminous glow.  It's also supposed to diffuse the appearance of pores, I think that is code for minimizes, and has age-defying Power Cell Complex that will over time promote softer, smoother skin.  That seems like a lot for a blush to do!

Whether or not it lives up to all the things it's supposed to do, it is so so pretty, that I kinda want to rub it all over, it's that gorgeous.  I did manage to restrain myself, but I'm really excited about the subtle flush of color it gives my cheeks.  I felt it was very wearable and such a good color that it would be hard to mess up the application and come off looking like a peach colored clown.  Yes, I kinda sorta worried that might happen!  I've always gone for pink blushes before and never liked them, now that I have this one and like it so much I'm wondering if previously having the wrong color was the reason I never "got" the whole idea of blush in the first place.

Final Verdict: Very happy with my first official Julep Maven box!  Click here if you'd like to check it out for yourself!


PS: I am wearing the nail color Monica, also by Julep, in all of the photos in this post.  I bought it during the end of season sale, but I do not recommend it.  It was unbelievably hard to work with, very very thick :(  The color and glitter is amazing so worth the hassle it took for me to get it on, since I already have it but not worth the frustration if you don't.  This one application took a shocking amount of polish to achieve and there is a noticeable dip in the amount in my bottle.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Project Life 2014: Title Page & January

Hi Project Lifers!  It's been awhile since I shared any of my pages and today I'm joining in with Jessica's monthly link up over at The Mom Creative.  While I am 95% done with 2013, I just haven't been feelin' actually posting the pages since it takes me so long to photograph and edit them for privacy, that it just seemed overwhelming to do all the months left in 2013.  Maybe I'll go back and post the rest but then again, if I never do...that's what's great about Project Life, the weeks just keep a comin' and there is always something new to share!  I'm much more excited about how 2014 is coming along so I decided to pick up from the New Year and begin with my album's title page & the weekly spreads through January.

The cover page uses the beautiful Maggie Holmes mini kit I got as my last auto ship from HSN.  It also came with a mini but I love the cards so much I decided to use them in the big annual albums instead.  I think this kit is now available as Micheal's exclusive full sized kit and it's so pretty & definitely worth it!

This first page is pretty straight forward.  I included a family photo, one of me and Brad, and one of each child with a thicker monogram placed a top a label that I wrote their age on.

On the antique type writer card I've been writing each month as I finish it in the book.  This way it will eventually have all the months contained within this volume written on it, sort of as a table of contents.  I used black thickers that match the kid's monogram to spell out our last name on this card as well.  I just photographed it I added them, for privacy.

This volume, I usually have at least 2 and sometimes 3 volumes per year, begins with January 1st and the spread covers New Years Day through the end of that week. The left side is all about New Year's Day itself and includes my daughter with the big television countdown in the back.  It's the first year she's made it all the way to midnight.  The cards on this side are all the reverse side of the cards you see on the title page.

I took entirely too many pictures of our little guy shoveling with Daddy on New Year's Day and although some are very similar I could not narrow down which ones to include.  I put the best one of the two of them on the main spread and then threw the rest into an insert and called it done :)  I the digital Winter kit to make the cards for the insert.

January 2-4 is on the second half of the spread, although most of the pictures are from the day I took photos of the kids with gifts their Great Aunt made them.

January 5-11 was eventful because we were supposed to go back to school but ended up having three snow days.  I mixed Simple Stories Homemade Holiday's with the Winter kit on this spread.  And yes, I did forget to finish the journaling!  Oops.  But it won't be an issue because this year I got a great planner from Target and each day I write a sentence or two so I always have an idea of what went on that day.

On Friday the kids were back for their second day of school, but we also had a joint Brownie meeting and went sledding with another troop.  They also set up a nice hot chocolate bar and it was a very fun time.  Not so fun was, was getting the news Archiver's was going out of business.  Even though the initial sale wasn't fabulous, it was on everything and as you can see from my haul photo I managed to find some stuff to buy.

After the insert is the rest of the week with more on how we spent our snow days, one day was so cold that even Brad stayed home!  By Saturday E and I were so excited to just leave the house...for any reason at all!  I was going stir crazy!

The week of January 12-18 was pretty straight forward.  The left side is about my parents coming over so my Dad could help Brad put up supports for the ceiling in the basement.  They also took the family pictures that on this page and the closer up one that made it's way onto the title page. The right side is mainly about B and life at home with him.  This layout uses the Slate core kit that was only available at Archiver's.

We ended up having our Valentine themed play date with friends in January because we both had the same Friday off of school and that made it super convenient.  They live about 45 minutes away so our school district calendars don't always match up.  

I made this cute little pocket to hold some extras and used the same heart XOXO paper as I did on the right side to tie both sides of the spread together.

Here is a closer look at the page about the play date.  You can read more about the simple ways we themed up the day, in this post, which also contains a link to the cute bumblebee printable I used for the treat pails.  I think this is my favorite page of 2014 so far.  I just love getting to use my scrappy goodies from one of my favorite companies of all time, Doodlebug Design Inc.!

January ended with yet more cold weather and more days off of school.  E was home both Monday & Tuesday.  This layout features mainly Sn@p supplies from Simple Stories, which is a great all purpose line of pocket scrapbooking supplies.  I think overall, Simple Stories is my favorite for pocket pages, although the original core kits from Becky Higgins do give you the most for your money...I do believe, in terms of numbers and variety of card designs.

If you have any questions about supplies or whatnot, please leave them in the comments.

This will be my third year doing a full 12X12 Project Life album.  I am also going back into my daughter's unfinished albums from pre-little brother days and filling in the gaps with pocket pages.  I'm still liking it a lot because it does help me stay on top of our memories and photos, but I am beginning to feel like I want to do more full pages for special memories and am working on how I want to include them.  I really miss the creativity I felt from doing traditional layouts and playing more with my photos.  Are any of you mixing your PL pages with more traditional layouts?

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