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Friday, April 8, 2016

Paula's Choice 2% BHA: An adventure in trying to take back my glow...with two little ones

As I get older...or maybe it's as I get less sleep...I've noticed some changes to my skin that I don't love. Wrinkles are creeping up around my eyes and forehead and redness around my nose. For someone who has never been a big makeup wearer, this has been tough. Enter Paula's Choice 2% BHA. This product is vegan and doesn't test on animals, so I was anxious to give it a try.

When I was first offered this product with a cult following, I was excited to see what all the excitement and love was about. Paula's Choice 2% BHA is different than others on the market because of it's unique formulation at the exact pH level necessary for penetrating pores. Instead of boring you with chemistry, I'll just remind you why it's SO important to exfoliate at EVERY age. Failure to exfoliate can lead to dull, dry, flaky skin, which in turn can cause clogged pores, pimples, white heads and even an uneven skin tone! Maybe, you could cover all that up with makeup, bu why would you want to do that if you could fix the problem?

Paula's Choice 2% BHA has the right ingredients and is strong enough to restore your skin's healthy natural balance. When you gently rid your skin of built-up skin cells, you can reverse clogged pores, stop breakouts, smooth wrinkles and even eliminate dry skin. Users of this product have experienced: smoother skin, the elimination of dry, rough patches and the fading of sun damage including wrinkles! Sign me up!!

I've done a simply awful job at taking care of myself with two little ones to take care of. Their needs are always my priority. Paula's Choice offers a simple easy add-on to my face washing routine, which I was told would bring amazing results.

At first, I didn't love the product. My face felt greasy and a few ugly red pimples popped up. I was ready to give up, but kept up and I'm glad I did. It must've been something in the product pushing the impurities out of my skin, because my skin is no longer greasy, but soft. I began noticing my pores were less noticeable and best of all - that ugly redness under my nose was reduced to almost unnoticeable!

So, you're still skeptical? What if I had a coupon for 20% off your entire order at Paula's Choice? I do! Just enter PRBHA2016 at checkout for 20% off your total order! I can't wait to hear what you think!

Disclaimer: I have received this product for free in return for my use and review, however, all opinions are my own.

If you'd like to receive free products, become a BzzAgent like me!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

I'm back! My baby girl has arrived and being a momma to two littles has kept me so busy! Add to that we moved into our new home and whoa! what a year! We are finally settling and I'm excited to get back and share some new things!!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Citrus Lane May 2015 6 mo old baby girl box review

Our discounted subscription period ended on a decent note. I thought the boxes were pretty good this month and really liked the dress received in the older girl boxes. Sadly my still unborn daughter aged to 6 months didn't receive the cute dress. I've decided against renewing for many reasons, but I will say that Citrus Lane took a step in the right direction with this month's box. It appears, for the most part, Citrus Lane tried to theme this box with things a child could enjoy in the summer.

The box arrived undamaged this month. YAY!!

It looks like Citrus Lane decided to do away with their signature yellow tissue and Citrus Lane sticker (at least for this month). The box looks neatly packed though.
The first visible portion of the box was the card detailing the contents for May:
A coupon for 20% off any additional Tea brand clothing purchase and an advertisement for Care.com (owners of Citrus Lane) was included:
First up, a tank top body suit from Tea Company. Ugh...I was so excited when I heard I'd be receiving a Tea item. Baby girl already owns quite a few pieces and I'm a big fan (her dad is too), but I don't love anything about this piece. AT. ALL.

The Tea Aditi tank bodysuit with floral print retails for $16.50 on the brand's website. All Tea fashion is globally inspired and this particular print was inspired by India. A nice bonus is that it's a "give back" item, so a portion of the item's sales will be donated to a Tea charity.

A Crocodile Creek 5" playground ball was the next item. This is a cute ball. I think that our little lady will enjoy this as she grows...if we can keep it from big brother in the meantime. According to the item description, the ball is made from rubber and contains none of the nasty BPA, PVC or vinyl found in other similar style balls.

A 5" playground ball from Crocodile Creek retails for $11 on Amazon.com, although a google search provided cheaper results.

We have received Goodbyn snack containers from Citrus Lane in the past and I'd like to say that I used them, but I didn't. In fact, I'm pretty sure when we unpack from our move, we will find that container with tags still attached in some box of miscellaneous items. Other snack containers received from Citrus Lane were much more useful. I do like that this is purple, since little sister will be getting so many hand me downs from her brother and maybe I will find it more useful now that I have two kids to pack for?

The Goodbyn snack container retails for $3 per Amazon.com

Finally, a sample of cleaning pods was included. One each of three of Vaska's cleaning products was included in a small zip lock bag. The products included in our May box were: a dishwasher pod, a baby laundry pod and a laundry pod. The description on Amazon states that these products are clinically proven to remove stains as well as or better than competitors without leaving behind any residue, chemicals, etc. I'm always up for something more natural for my family and am a huge fan of brands like Method and Honest, so I look forward to trying these out.

The per unit value of these is so low (.3-.38 per pod), I am just going to say $1. You can find the baby detergent here, the laundry here and the dishwasher pod here. I noticed better prices than Amazon on other sites, so it may be best to look a bit before purchasing if you're interested in trying any of these products for yourself.

The total value of the may box is $31.50. I feel this is a generous value as I believe you could find the ball for $5-8 in stores or other online retailers. You can purchase a Citrus Lane subscription here for $29 per month for a monthly subscription or as low as $24/month if you purchase a 6 month plan. Citrus Lane is always running specials through Groupon or their website, so if you are interested in trying this box for your child(ren) I would suggest seeking out the specials and waiting until you see a good one.

We had some ups and downs with Citrus Lane during our three year off and on use of the company's monthly box subscription and store. I can't say we will never subscribe again, but I am definitely "over it". I can't wait to provide my review of a new subscription box for Applecheeks diapers in June!! Applecheeks has paired with a mom owned small company to create one of a kind items available only through The Baby Bum. The monthly subscription is so popular that it's selling out and the owner is capping the number of orders she will take. I was really lucky to get in before the wait list begins. Check back in June, but in the meantime you can check out the Baby Bum Bundle here!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Review of Citrus Lane April 2015 for 5 month old girl

Let me preface my review by saying Citrus Lane's customer service has been excellent lately. I have read many terrible things about their service, but have been very fortunate in all of my interactions. Unfortunately, I have had to contact Citrus Lane customer service FAR too frequently regarding issues with both mystery boxes and subscription boxes. Without further ado, the April 2015 5 month old girl review.

Please note all values were derived from Amazon.com unless the item was not for sale on the site, in which case the source will be noted.

My poor box was demolished this month. Am I exaggerating? Well, a special post office van pulled into my driveway to hand deliver it. I've never had that happen before. Below you can see for yourself.

Sadly the box was open to the outside and it has been raining like crazy around me, so of course a few items were damaged. Citrus Lane customer service offered to ship out replacements for the two damaged items and I will update with the items once they have been received.

Inside the box was the normal cheery yellow tissue paper and Citrus Lane sticker wrapping the contents of the box.

A card detailing this month's contents was included.

The first item in the box was the Green Toys Twist Teether I'm a big fan of Green Toys products and we have quite a few things from the brand. Green Toys products are made from recycled milk containers and are free from BPA, PVC phthalates and coatings. Bonus: they are made in the USA AND dishwasher safe. Unfortunately, this is a repeat item and we already have it from a previous box. Value: $10.90.

The second item is a Bake N Shake Donut Rattle from North American Bear Company. This rattle is pretty cute and I'd love for my little girl to play with it. My son took it right out of the box and played with it for a bit saying he was glad baby sister would have this toy. Per Amazon the donut rattles are sold in a set of three for $29, so the value here is $9.67.

Next, a book from Barefoot Books - Garden Rhymes. Citrus Lane has been partnering with Barefoot Books since my son's subscription and I'm really not a fan, but it is a cute spring themed book filled with some less common nursery rhymes and I'm certain we will enjoy reading it to both of our children. Value: $5.76.

Lastly, we received a 3.4oz bottle of Snuggly Lotion from Episencial. We have received this item in the past and enjoyed the scent. Unfortunately, it wasn't moisturizing enough for my son's super dry skin. Value: $5.65.

I won't include the final item in the overall value of the box, because I feel that items which require you to spend additional money shouldn't be included since not everyone may be interested. A coupon allowing you to purchase a one year membership for $29 (a value of $90) from a company called YogaDownload.com. The info card states the site grants members access to more than 600 classes ranging from 10-90 minutes and for beginner - advanced, pre-natal, post-natal, kids, pilates, and much more. I would be tempted to try this, and I still may, but already I subscribe to DailyBurn and love it.

The final inclusion was an info card asking all subscribers to show their "Acts of Green" to win daily prizes. My son won this as a baby and we will definitely try to win again. The total value of April's box was $32. A subscription to Citrus Lane currently ranges $29/mo or $25/mo for a six month subscription. This box certainly does not have the value I typically appreciate from Citrus Lane and mystery boxes in general. More troubling to me, is that so many of the products are repeats from prior boxes. It's almost as if Citrus Lane doesn't expect to keep subscribers long enough for this to be an issue. During our original subscription nearly three years ago, I LOVED that Citrus Lane introduced me to both new products and new brands on a very regular basis...the company made a point of doing so. Brands and products are so often repeated that it really detracts from the joy and original purpose of this subscription.

Monday, April 13, 2015

My first Fluff Fairy! - Kelly's Closet March 2015 mystery cloth diaper package

My new obsession is cloth diapering! I cannot wait for my little girl to arrive so that I can put these cute diapers on her little bum! I also love mystery boxes, so it was no surprise that I had to try a mystery cloth diaper package!

Kelly's Closet (DiaperShops.com) offers one of the most popular versions of the cloth diaper themed mystery package - Fluff Fairy. It sells out each month and QUICKLY (within hours or the first day at the latest)! The mystery bundle always includes a cloth diaper and additionally includes samples or other cloth diapering related products. The cost varies each month based upon what is included in the mystery bundle, but shipping is always free.

This month was a SoftBums themed month, because all items received were from that brand. I have only begun building my stash, so I'm very excited to add new brands and types of cloth to try.

Here's the unwrapping:

The package arrived in a mailer, but inside was packaged in blue tissue with a cute Fluff Fairy sticker

Inside the blue tissue was a sheet explaining what was included in this month's Fluff Fairy package:

At first glance, there was a cute diaper, a pad, a wipe and a keychain.

This month's diaper is an Omni bundle from SmartBums and the one I was sent was the Bubblegum Aplix style. The bundle version of this diaper includes a large and a mini dry touch pod (or insert). I really like the color of this diaper and am excited to try a new brand and type of diaper. Although I haven't tried them yet, I am a little less than thrilled with aplix style diapers as I think they will fray easier in the wash. This bundle is also available in snap for the same cost. The retail value of the bundle is $26.

The next item was more of a sample, but I'm excited to try it nonetheless. Below is a picture of one SoftBums H-Pod Disposable Insert I like the idea of disposable inserts for when you just don't want to have dirty inserts lying around (traveling or leaving baby with someone not cloth friendly). The description states each insert has the absorption of a large pod, but in a super trim version. This is great to me because as the mother of someone that always wore disposables, I'm a little worried about "fluff butt" ALL the time. AND the best of the perks, these disposable liners are biodegradable. These inserts typically come in a 20 pack for $8, so the value is about $.40.

My first cloth wipe was also part of the bundle! I am looking forward to making some of these with the million receiving blankets we were gifted with our son, but it's nice to have one girly one and even better to have an example to follow as I attempt to DIY them! Softbums Organic Bamboo baby wipes are typically sold in a five pack for $9.25 for a value of $1.85.

The final item was a bonus item: a SoftBums Panda Key Chain. This keychain is really cute and is soft, so I look forward to using it in my new car...I hate the thought of something heavy banging beneath my steering wheel and scratching up the interior. Although, I may have to fight my son for it, because he immediately confiscated it when I opened the package.
My overall impression of my first Fluff Fairy is that it's a really fun monthly surprise. I think it's a great fit for someone like me who is new to cloth or a veteran that has serious brand loyalty and hasn't tried other products on the market. The cost of the March 2015 Fluff Fairy was $26.79 and the value of the package was $28.25. I am pleased with the value for what I spent and look forward to trying all the products when my little girl arrives (and is big enough).

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Reviews from Expo - Plus link to sign up and have free products sent straight to your door

A few years ago I signed up for a product review company called ExpoTV. I love it! While I haven't been selected for any of the big name products so far (they've sent beds, computers, printers, and other exciting things to some lucky reviewers) I have received quite a few day to day items that not only introduced me to new brands or products, but saved me the expense of buying things I use every day. Here are some links to reviews I have completed and at the bottom of the page is a link so that you can sign up too!

Truvia Brown Sugar Blend

Kleenex Go Pack Tissues

Pampers Swaddlers and Sensitive wipes

AND as promised, here's the link to sign yourself up!

Let me know what you receive!!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Plant Powered Families by Dreena Burton is COMING!!!!! Gift with pre-sale purchase

So, I don't post nearly often enough about being vegan and the absolute awesomeness of the journey my family has had so far, but I promise to do a better job...starting with this post! There are SO many awesome vegan chefs and cooks who share their recipes all over the web, but my family's favorite (by far) is Dreena Burton. We LOVE every recipe we've ever made. One of the best things about Dreena's recipes (and believe me there are SO many wonderful things about them) is that she is a mother to three "weegans" (daughters) with busy hockey schedules. Why does this matter? Well, because her recipes are kid tested and made for busy families. Some vegan recipes are a far cry from either of these and that can make it tough to incorporate them into your family's life. Her newest book is due out in May and I couldn't be more thrilled! The book is called Plant Powered Families and is chock full of awesome recipes that have been tested on and loved by her family.

We, of course, pre-ordered our copy and were thrilled when Dreena announced those who pre-purchase will receive a mini cookbook FREE (see bottom of page from link above)! I selected two of the yummy recipes to try: White Bean and Cauliflower Burgers and Cheesy Cauliflower Casserole. While, I must admit my 2.5 year old son would not try the Cheesy Cauliflower, my husband and I devoured the entire dish in one meal. The burgers were a hit with all of us and my husband has already requested them again! I can't wait to try the other recipes - especially the Banana Chocolate Chip Cake with Chocolate Mousse frosting! Here's a picture of my version of the Cheesy Cauliflower (mine is not pretty, but so very tasty):

So, why should you buy Dreena's awesome cookbook when there are so many recipes for free? Honestly, because the recipes are not difficult, they do not use crazy ingredients you can't find in your local store and they are SO delicious. You can thank me later! But, if you don't believe me, you can check out her blog with free recipes here