Monday, December 29, 2014

My Chronic Pain is a Blessing in Disguise

I keep thinking I should stop with this nonsense that I am going to find somebody to fix my weirdo problems with these obscure neurological disorders, bones, joints, tissue damage, missing tendons, LOL and whatever else I forgot to list. (I'm sure you get the picture.)
I've tried, for years, to find a doctor who would be confident and successful in trying to repair, even the slightest parts. (Since it requires a team due to so much going on.)
I feel bad a lot, because I am blessed. Believe me, even this chronic pain/neuro issues, have been a blessing in disguise. (In some ways.) 
When I think about whether I would trade in my ailments for my super hectic, fast paced, workaholic life again, I think I'd stick with this, since it has slowed me down a bit and has allowed me to work from home and spend more time with my family.
But, I feel bad a lot since I keep trying different doctors & specialists, thinking somebody, somewhere, one day, will have a solution for even 10% of this. There are people who have much, much worse going on and I know it could be worse and even though, living with serious pain, several layers of pain, not being able to do normal things, like, walk, run, jump, lift my foot off the ground, vacuum or use a hair dryer without electrical zaps going through my body for 3 days straight, certain sounds set off so much pain, (it's unreal!), not being able to shave my legs, wear jeans, shoes, walk uphill or downhill, up or down steps without it taking an hour, etc etc, is a bad place, it could always be worse.
I'm very stubborn and I believe that sometimes when you're fighting for something constantly, maybe you are a bit blinded to the consequences. I wonder if running to doctors, researching, trying to fix 1 part so that more can be fixed, etc etc, maybe will end up causing more problems in the long run? 
I took a big hit today. I had super, duper high hopes for this and it ended up being much worse then I was, (yes, it's temporary.) but, again, I'm told, "Well, this is last resort." Uh, how many times will I be told that? Lol! It's always, "this or that" "no more solutions", "this won't work", "this is it.", OK, SHUT UP! I don't believe it because I have been told this for a decade and they still say it and still come up with something.
I think the second I give up, it will consume me and I will end up in a wheelchair or the RSD will cover my body completely and I'll be in my house, 24/7  That's why I keep fighting and I'm getting worried I'm running out of options.
At the same time, I also believe that the more I fight, the more I push, the more problems can pop up. 
Yes, I try and use several all natural options but a lot of my issues are actually bone and joint issues, like, real ones that actually need fixed and nobody can fix it, yet.
Natural remedies help a little with MS & RSD but they to are temporary and also help a little, not a ton. (Which is fine and I'm grateful) but there are some layers of pain that NOTHING touches.
Those are the layers that I have a 50/50 shot with getting worse if I continue to fight. and every time I feel I'm getting closer, something comes and knocks me down further and adds even more of a dilemma.
Back to square one again  Completely unravel all I thought and did and start back at the beginning and add more drama to the twisted outline of things that need fixed before attempting a shot at remission so that more can be fixed so that more can be fixed so that more can be fixed, etc etc etc etc etc. It sometimes feels like a never ending road of insanity and it becomes so overwhelming that it takes over my regular, every day to day activities. (along with the pain, old and new.)
So, do I take a break?
Do I keep up being a stubborn, rebellious, hopeful person?
Or do I keep fighting and reading and researching and trying new things?

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Perfectly Blended Nescafe with Coffeemate Instant Coffee

* I received a free product,  thanks to Nescafe with Coffeemate and Smiley360, in return for my honest review. Receiving a free product or sample does not change my opinion or statements about the product. *

I was a little worried about this product when I first learned about it. I love, absolutely love and only use Coffeemate powdered cream for my coffee. (It's just the way it's always been and probably always will be.) We don't just buy a canister, we buy the giant 35.3 oz can! I am a coffee addict, my husband is too. But, I'd say I drink at least twice what he drinks. What can I say? It's the only way I can start my days! (and get through a day and relax at night when the kids are in bed.)
I drink brewed coffee everyday. I actually prefer to brew my own before I would stop for coffee at any store, restaurant, even coffee shops. I just don't feel like spending the money on it and I like my own coffee. Yes, I do love to try new things but there are a few things I won't switch up to often and coffee is one of them.
So, I received my package from Smiley360. It included a canister of this strange stuff AND 3 coupons for free canisters of Nescafe with Coffeemate! That was awesome and well, certainly appreciated and used. (I have already purchased another canister because, yes, indeed! I do like this tasty, time saving, space saving treat!)
I bar tend and I work weekends at a bar who only supplies a coffee maker. So, I am constantly lugging a backpack or a bag for my personal stuff and a second bag for my coffee, cream, sugar and filters :/ ) I decided to grab a box of sugar and throw that in my bag, along with this canister of Original Nescafe with Coffeemate instant coffee, one night. (By the way, that was nice, not having to carry 2 big bags with me! People are always asking, "Are you moving in?" "NO" I reply, "No, not at all. I am just to busy and if I have the chance, I will cut out these coupons, fill in my agenda, blog, post on Instagram, shop, pay bills and of course, I always have coffee!")
I do have access to a microwave and a stovetop at work and I prefer water to be boiled on the stove for hot tea, hot chocolate and coffee. (and everything else too!) I found a pot and filled it up, put my goodies on the counter and let the water stay hot all night so that when I had time, I could go mix up a cup.
I was surprised, really. I usually tend to add more cream then the next person and I didn't even feel the need to with this product! It actually IS creamy and quite delicious!
I also only ever used one brand of instant coffee in my life and it wasn't Nescafe, so, this was a shocker to me.
I don't know why, but it didn't taste much different than brewed coffee and I was loving this!
No more second bag, no more cold coffee sitting on the bar when I get to busy to drink it. No more old, yucky, thick, gross coffee in the pot when I finally get the chance to run back for more. No! Now, I can grab a ladle and fill my cup with this instant coffee that already comes with cream, perfectly blended together!
Another added bonus I started using.... I add a spoonful to brewed coffee sometimes, for the extra kick! It's quite nice really and has a good flavor to it.

I love the original the most, but the Hazelnut and French Vanilla are both pleasantly delicious and taste high quality.
I also enjoy the extra time it saves me. (Even if I have  Keurig. Well, maybe not a real one but a coffee maker that will make one cup and comes with a filter.)
I often overestimate myself when it comes to how much coffee I can drink and I end up wasting more then I'd like too. (I'd rather not waste any. Although, coffee is good to dump into soil for certain plants!) At night time I think, "Boy, I could use a few cups of coffee!" Well, it ends up being one or one and a half and then here I go, wasting more coffee.....
So, I started using Nescafe with Coffeemate for my night caps, just in case! 
Have you tried this product yet?
I would love to hear what you think? Did you find it as clever as I did? A timesaver? Moneysaver? 
What is your favorite flavor?

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

What Did Happen to Society?

I grew up in the 70's and 80's and I don't remember having many of the conversations I have with my children, with my parents, siblings or friends back then.
I used to think that maybe I was sheltered by things and everything was going on back then but when I think about it, I was always watching news with my mom, always watching the news shoes, listening to the radio, reading newspapers, current events was my favorite subject in school. I mean, I don't remember a time that I didn't know a little about everything that was happening in my own country or across the world.
I remember different stories that really hit home. Drunk driving accidents and children who were abused, murdered, kidnapped. I remember seeing stories about starving children in other countries, innocent people being killed, towns being destroyed, countries at war, but, I don't remember a time when all of the evil that seems to be going on these days, was the "norm" as it seems to be now.
Times were much simpler then. There didn't seem to be as many rules, laws, regulations, whether at school, in my town, neighborhood, my state or country.
I remember when the funniest tag we ever saw was that tag they put on mattresses. Now, everywhere I look, there are warning labels of some sort on absolutely everything. I often wonder, did somebody actually do whatever the label is warning you about? How else would somebody know to warn us NOT to eat the contents of an ice pack, unless somebody else actually opened it up and attempted to eat that for some reason?!
I remember having so much fun riding in the beds of pick up trucks, with a group of friends. We usually did this on the weekends and through the summer, when our neighbor, Ed, would take all of the kids on our block to the local ice cream shop. Now, we aren't allowed to sit back there. It is unsafe. We could be killed. What changed?
I remember when I was in school and my family planned a vacation. We didn't have to go through a pile of paperwork, signatures on several forms, approval meetings or anything of the sort. My mom would walk us to school and our principal was usually always outside each morning, waiting for all of us to arrive. She would say, "Dr Richter, we will be leaving for Kentucky in a week. The kids won't be in school until the following week. Could you please let their teachers know so they can gather their work for them?"
and Dr Richter would say, "No problem! We'll have it sent home by Friday! I hope you have a nice trip!"
That was it.
We had our fair share of bullies in those days too. We had a few boys who would step on the backs of our shoes so they would slip off when we walked. (I would call that "being picked on" to be honest.) Although, we did have a few incidents that were a bit more serious than that.
There were rare times where everybody would be anxious for 3:15pm when school let out, because word got around there would be a fight outside. (These were usually broken up even before they began. That would upset some of us, I mean, who doesn't want to see a good fist fight after school?) We didn't want anybody to be hurt, we just weren't thinking about that. We were thinking more like a boxing match in real life or some scene from an action movie. But, they never did look that cool anyway.  We never really had anybody hurt. 
We had recess bullies who were always stopped by the teachers who were standing there to make sure everybody was having fun and being treated fairly. and we had those pests who would spread rumors :/ Those were usually stopped pretty quickly and we had a lesson about rumors, I think, every year through elementary school.
But, what is this mess we are in now? What is different about the bullies today? I understand there were some bullies, violence, evil, all kinds of terrible things before all of this. But it didn't seem to be as often as it is now. 
I didn't live in a big city but it was a good size. We had grocery stores, a few elementary schools, 2 high schools, 2 malls, it wasn't a super small town.
We left that town about 8 years ago since everything changed so much, (Not for the best either.) and I know this has happened across the country, It isn't just here.
So, why are there warning labels on every single thing we buy? Why do we have to be told what we can and can not do? Why are we treated like a bunch of immature dunces? Why do we have to be told things that we should just generally know and comprehend ourselves?
I can't get through even an hour on Facebook or any other social media network, without seeing some "trending" news or "news alert" that is some horrific story, event, tragedy.
I thought at first that maybe it was due to the internet but it's the same thing with the radio, newspapers and television. I thought maybe the internet possibly removed all that we know and knew and replaced it with some twisted, false memories and maybe the world wide web, completely unraveled everything we were taught. I still think this is part of it.
But, somewhere, somehow, people as a whole, changed.
The ultimate reason behind everything that goes on in this world, isn't due to any system, any inanimate objects. How could it be? People created these things. and people use them and work, live and play in them so it isn't the fault of "things" in any way,
It is due to people being well, people. How do we change that?

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Age Defying Retinol Serum by InstaNatural Review

This was the 2nd product I received for my 2nd review opportunity with, InstaNatural! Age Defying Retinol Serum. The first thing I noticed about this product was the amazingly pretty scent! I would actually wear this as perfume if I could. But, since it is a serum, I get to smell it all day long! (Yes, it actually lasts and is definitely not overpowering. It is just a very light and lovely scent.)
Ok, so, I was a bit worried about using 2 retinol products and I was wondering if they could be used together so, I decided that since retinol itself will make your skin more sensitive to the sun, I decided I would use 1 or the other. That way, I don't have to worry as much and I am still benefiting from both the retinol moisturizer and the serum. I started using the serum at night, however, I like to switch it up a bit and use it during the day. (I just can't get over how good this stuff smells!) Although, using the serum at night is also pleasant because it is a wonderful scent to fall asleep too!
This serum is so dreamy! It is a bit different than other serums I have tried in the past. Mainly because of, again, the scent. But also, the price on the Age Defying Retinol Serum is only $23.75 for an ounce! (It should cost just a little more if you ask me. ) But, like a lot of InstaNatural prices, this one is very reasonable and easy to fit any budget. It's nice because this product beats most department store brands and other similar lines and it is literally, a fraction of the price. Plus, you are getting a top quality, expensive product. (At least in my book!)
The key ingredients will probably make you want to add, Age Defying Retinol Serum, to your list of, "Things I want to try asap!" items ;)

 2.5 Retinol
20% Vitamin C
10% Hyaluronic Acid
Fruit & Plant Acids

and wait, that isn't all!
There is also: pink grapefruit essential oil, dandelion, horsetail, organic jojoba oil, Willowbark and wildcrafted green tea!
I just love being able to get such super ingredients in a product!
I make some of my own beauty products but I wouldn't know where to find the ingredients in this serum to go and buy to make on my own, (I'll just stick with InstaNatural on this serum!)
 Did I notice a difference? Not a whole lot just yet, but again, it is has only been a week that I have been using it and I can say that together with the Retinol Moisturizer, I definitely have noticed a change in skin tone and my skin feels much softer and plumper. I am very fair skinned and I have see through skin, lol! I often joke that I look like a ghost and I always have bruises somewhere but I never know where exactly they came from. That being said, I am more prone to discolorations and fine lines. But, I don't have a lot of either, (yet.) But, what I do have, I wouldn't mind getting rid of completely, or at least next best, help to redefine my skin and make it more firm, even and plumper.
One of my favorite ingredients that is found in Age Defying Retinol Serum is vitamin C. Vitamin C actually helps reverse the signs of aging which is something I am grateful for and I actually have noticed results with in the past.

Have you tried this luxurious product? What did you think?
One of my most favorite bonuses about this company is the personalized customer service you receive when you do make a purchase. (Even if it's on Amazon!) They will email you and explain how to use your new product, give some tips, suggestions and even offer to answer any questions you may have! (I will always go for a brand who actively tries to establish a relationship with their customers!)

** I received a free sample from InstaNatural, through, Brandbacker in return for my honest review. All statements and opinions are my own. Receiving a free sample or product does not change my opinions or views. ** - See more at:

** I received a free sample from InstaNatural, through, Brandbacker, in return for my honest review. All statements and opinions are my own. Receiving a free sample or product does not change my opinions or views. **
** I received a free sample from InstaNatural, through, Brandbacker in return for my honest review. All statements and opinions are my own. Receiving a free sample or product does not change my opinions or views. ** - See more at:

InstaNatural Retinol Moisturizer with Vitamin C Review

I considered myself quite the lucky girl to be accepted for yet another, InstaNatural review opportunity, thanks to, Brandbacker. I applied for a few of them and was accepted for each one, so far. (Fingers crossed!)
You may have read my previous review of a couple very cool InstaNatural products. (Youth Express Eye Serum....) I am still using those products, by the way and I have actually noticed even more positive results with them so, I will be sticking with them for the time being! 
I received a package from InstaNatural with a couple new goodies and I rushed right to the bathroom to wash my face and try them out!
The Retinol Moisturizer with Vitamin C is to be used twice per day, Once during the day and once at night. Since it is a retinol product, they do suggesy using a sunscreen afterwards, because retinol can make your skin more sensitive to the sun. If you already have sensitive skin, you should probably use this product only once, at night.
This formula was very easy to use, (InstaNatural has the coolest, handiest pump contraption and it works perfectly!) The moisturizer goes on very smoothly and doesn't have an overpowering scent and doesn't feel sticky or make my skin burn like I had first thought it might. (because of the retinol.)
A small amount goes a long way. Which is another reason I love these products so much. You truly only need a tiny dab and for the extremely reasonable price, this 3.4oz bottle could last you quite a long time. ($23.75 a bottle!)
I am actually shocked at the prices of their products, since most lines I have used that have similar products, seem to cost a bit more and also have much smaller sizes.
I receive lots of samples and products, between monthly subscriptions to review opportunities and free gifts with purchase items and most other retinol products I have tried in the past, tend to leave a sticky, sometimes tight feeling on my skin. Even though they say it can be worn under make up, I usually end up waiting a bit and washing it back off or just using it at night because I don't like the feeling it leaves! (Especially under make up!)
I was surprised because this product did not have that same feeling. As long as you apply with a circular and upward motion, it actually feels quite nice! (There is a slight tingly feeling and a feeling that it will almost start feeling tight but that goes away fairly quick.)
What is retinol?
Retinol is a very powerful antioxidant derived from vitamin A. It is the safest, strongest and most trusted ingredients for anti aging skincare products. Retinol, converts into, Retinoic Acid, once it is absorbed into your skin. Retinoic Acid starts working immediately, to help restore your skin and helps to reduce the signs of aging and sun damage. Sounds like a miracle, eh?
I am 40 and a grandmother of 2, with 3 small children still at home, lol! So, I will try anything and everything at least once! But, if it has a secret power like this stuff does, I will use it and slather it on my skin as often as recommended!
Oh, by the way, that slight tingling and tightness I mentioned above? It was gone within the short time it took to read the last paragraph!
My makeup glides on perfectly with this underneath and although I have not been using it for to long yet, (it's only been a week.), my skin does feel tighter and more refined.
Oh! That's right! I almost forgot to share the special, key ingredients with you!
I was thrilled enough with the ingredients in the last batch of InstaNatural products I tried and the same thing goes for the Retinol Moisturizer with Vitamin C.
The key ingredients are:
2.5% Retinol
Vitamin C
Hyaluronic Acid
Jojoba Oil
Shea Butter
Green Tea

What do you think?
Have you tried this product out yet?
If not and if you haven't tried any InstaNatural products, head over to their site and sign up to become a club member! You will be treated like a superstar and receive a discount! (Hurry though, because it is only offered to a limited amount of people!)

** I received a free sample from InstaNatural, through, Brandbacker in return for my honest review. All statements and opinions are my own. Receiving a free sample or product does not change my opinions or views. **

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Busymommylist Scavenger Hunt Giveaway!!

Here is the first week of our month long scavenger hunt!!
You are going to want to enter and stay tuned for a new giveaway each week!!
This will be a regular scavenger hunt on my blog and networks and we are hoping to gather some super sweet sponsors for upcoming scavenger hunts!
If you are an author, a brand, a small business, even a big business, and you would like information on what we can help your brand, book or service with, please email me at:
More details to come under a new tab in just a few days ;)

This week's prize is for a totally rad collection of some of my favorite beauty product brands!
You can find the picture in the giveaway app below and you'll be able to enter each day for a chance to win!
Check back for more exciting scavenger hunts each week!!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Nutley the Nut-Free Squirrel & Chocolate Shoes with Licorice Laces by Stephanie Sorkin

Reading is one of our most important and most loved pastimes at our house. We try to include this in everyday activities, breakfast, snacks, bedtime and even set aside a bit of time each afternoon where everybody just simply reads.
They can choose to read alone, read to a sibling, whatever they prefer, as long as it doesn't involve a screen of any kind and it includes opening a book.
I "met" Stepahnie Sorkin, on Twitter and started reading about her books and she sent us a few copies to read, review and share!
We sent a set of her books, Nutley the Nut-Free Squirrel and Chocolate Shoes with Licorice Laces, for our elementary school library, Genevive's 2nd grade class and we will be taking another set to our community library!
Genevive's class has been giggling like crazy and having so much fun with their set of books! They just had a substitute the other day who also read the books to the class and Genevive is just so delighted that she was able to bring his special gift in for her classroom.
Both of these books are just adorable! Very well written and such awesome illustrations, we have so much fun paging through them and reading them at home.
Both of, Stephanie's books won the "Mom's Choice Awards" and that isn't the only cool thing about Stephanie and her cute children's books!!

 Stephanie donates the proceeds from the sale of this book to, FARE. FARE is dedicated to food allergy research and education. (This is one that I personally love!) We have our fair share of food allergies in our house! Maybe not nuts, like poor Nutley the squirrel, but both my husband and oldest son have Celiac disease and of course, along with that comes, lactose intolerance, GERD, acid reflux and a couple more with words that are to giant for me to even guess at ;)

I don't think we have an actual favorite out of these 2 books. They are both wonderful books! Deegan and Genevive have been reading these quite a bit and giggle each time as if they just read them for the first time. It's so cute!
We also love the recipes in the backs of the books.
Nutley shares his favorite recipe for  yummy nut free banana bread and of course, the other recipe is for chocolate shoes with licorice laces :D

Nutley is adorably sweet and all of the little ones fell in love with him! In this book, you get to follow, Nutley, through his experience of finding out that he is allergic to nuts. I think the best part was when, Nutley, found out that his friends also have food allergies and they sat and talked about their allergies, their favorite foods and discussed how they will look out for one another and make sure they keep their buddies, safe.

Chocolate Shoes with Licorice Laces is another hit at our house and in the classrooms! Genevive especially loves both of these books because she can read them out loud to her little brother. They are both very easily read and right on her level.
Even though she can't read about these chocolate shoes without cracking up, both her and her little brother, Deegan, decided they would like to have chocolate shoes too.

Both of these books have made it to the tip top of our bookshelves because they are new favorites and will stay that way for a long, long time. They will both end up as classic stories and we really hope to see more books by Stephanie Sorkin!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Wet Ones Review (Did You See The Package Choices?!)

* I received free products in return for my honest reviews through Smiley360 and Wet Ones. All of my opinions and statements are my own. Receiving a free product or sample does not change my honest opinion and thoughts of the product. *

One thing I am a little nutty about, is, cleanliness. Now, my house may not always look super clean, or my truck, lol. But, it's usually just clutter. Mostly very organized clutter but clutter nonetheless.
I can't stand sticky, gooey, spills, drops, food, dirt, grime of any kind whether it's on my hands, my kid's face or the counter. (Or anywhere!) So, I'm kind of an addict when it comes to cleaning products, especially wipes.
I always grab cleaning wipes and baby wipes, oh and bathroom wipes. However, those don't do the job as good as I'd like them to when it comes to actual hands, faces, legs, elbows, even kid bellies. They may "clean" those spaces for the time being but as soon as I can get to a bathroom or kitchen sink, I have to rescrub with warm, soapy water.
Everybody has heard of, Wet Ones by now, I believe. I know they have been around for quite some time and I have used them in the past, but I never really ran out to stock up or refill very often. It just wasn't something I really thought I actually needed so much. I just settled for using the baby wipes or harsh cleaning wipes that I already had lying around.
One day, I received an email about a new Smiley360 mission with, Wet Ones. I thought, "Hmmm, this may turn out to be interesting. Besides, I'm actually kind of in the market for something like this." Since, I mean, everybody has messy times, whether there are little kids involved or not. I've spilled coffee on me while driving or just while drinking it and needed to rush to a bathroom when I arrived at my destination to not look like a slob!!
Luckily, I was accepted in the mission and started reading about this brand I knew about for several years but unfortunately, never paid much attention too.
I was pretty surprised to find out so many things I didn't know.
For instance, Wet Ones kills 99.99% of bacteria. Did you know this? I never realized it but I also never thought about it. I did know that the baby wipes that may smell so lovely, weren't killing any germs and they leave a residue on surfaces and sort of cause my hands to slip on the steering wheel. (Which is NOT good!)
I also didn't know that, Wet Ones has aloe! I do love aloe and I know that works well for my skin and is super good for my little kiddos' skin.
Ok, so, the day came when our new mission box arrived from Smiley360! Deegan is usually with me throughout the day while his siblings are at school, so, we opened the box together. (He's an awesome helper because the tiniest things make him so happy!)
He also loves trying all of the samples and things we receive, even lip balms. But that is about where he draws the line for beauty products!
We received a stack of coupons to hand out. (High value coupons too! $1 off any 1 Wet Ones) We also received a canister of citrus scented Wet Ones, a travel pack and a box of single use Wet Ones.
My kids love having their very own things. Like, eyeglass cleaning pads, sprays and cloths, lip balms, little hand sanitizers, cough drops, tiny tissue packs, whatever I can throw together for them to take care of themselves and share with friends if need be, they love it. It makes them feel like a big person. (Note: Yes, we teach the importance of sharing, however, sharing lip balm or any product of the sort is not recommended and we do tell our children not to share those types of products.)

These individually wrapped antibacterial hand wipes are a great addition to a kid's care pack and fit perfectly in a little sandwich baggie, backpack, lunch box, pocket, wherever your child likes to pack their special little care package, these are seriously cool!

They are also easy to open and smell so pleasant, you'll almost want a kid to get some sort of dirt or slop on them, just so you can smell them ;) (No chemical smell!) 
That shocked me too. It actually smelled fresh and clean and very "citrusy". There wasn't a bad odor or any chemical kind of smells that you sometimes get with cleaning cloths. These just smelled, clean.

I really am quite fond of the canisters! These are packaged so well and I love the pretty designs! I also am a fan of the reasonable prices and availability of sales!
These work in any room of the house. I switched back and forth from the kitchen, to the bathroom, to the living room and back to the bathroom again.
The kids have gotten used to using these often and they also like the fresh, fun scent of citrus. It just smells so much nicer than chemicals. I even sometimes find that "unscented" wipes still smell like something, I'm not sure what, but, I'm not liking it.
Remember I said these have aloe?! Well, you can certainly tell they do because they actually keep your skin super soft and are very gentle. I especially have a hard time with my hands in the winter but I am fascinated with how much these actually help keep my hands soft. Using these for a quick, "handwashing" doesn't feel like I just stripped my skin of all of it's moisture and that makes me feel safe about using it for my kids too.
What was once considered a "luxury" at our house, is now something I like to have around all the time. Even if we are near a sink, these are sometimes perfect for quick spot touches and even to sanitize since I don't always use anti bacterial soaps in the bathroom or kitchen.
That's another thing! You don't have that stickiness after using these. You know, the kind that makes you want to run to the nearest place with running water and some sort of soap?? These really feel like you just used warm, sudsy water and there is no need to redo anything!
Do you purchase/use, Wet Ones at your house?
What do you think of them?
I would love to read comments about these products. I know we will be using them all the time now. Especially the individually wrapped wipes.
(PS...if you are not a member of, Smiley360, you should check them out!! You might qualify for missions like this one!)

Friday, December 12, 2014

At A Loss For Words

One thing I will never understand is how people deal with family members or friends who pass away. It seems like the hardest thing in the world and I just can't imagine how anybody ever "gets over it".
I understand that people say, "Time will heal." But, does it really? I mean, you still hurt and you still miss that person dearly. Maybe time actually just makes it easier to cope? It can't ever necessarily "get better".
These are just some the types of comments I see on a day to day basis across social media. Whether it is a personal friend's page or a famous person or a murder that may it to the "trending" list. I often wonder, how can people be so rude? But, I don't know that they are. Maybe they just don't know exactly what to say.
I received a call yesterday afternoon from one of our very good friends who lives across the street. People laugh sometimes when I call her my best friend, because she happens to be 45 years older than me. But, she is.
Her and her husband have been the best neighbors we have ever had and we have had them over plenty of times for every picnic, holiday, birthday celebration, boxing matches, just to have a couple drinks, even morning coffee. We talk on the phone, we talk outside whenever we see each other.
My friend, (I am leaving their names out of this post for their own privacy.) called me and said, "Is Brandy there?" Well, that was a bit odd because she knows who I am and she knows I answer my cell phone, so that seemed a bit weird to me. But, I said, "Yes, _____, this is me!" and immediately, the crying started.
I could barely understand her at first, although, I was able to make this much out....."Brandy, _____, died last night."
I was in shock, I didn't know what to say. I kind of just paused for a minute and she just kept crying and all I could think of was, "Oh my God. I am so sorry."
Was that weird? I don't know? She didn't seem to think so. She just started telling me all about how the nursing home that her husband was in had called her a few days prior and asked for her to pack a bag and come in because it was time. (Is that strange? I guess not but I thought it was weird. I don't know how people can just say, "Well, ok, sure! I'll be right there! Thanks for the call!") (I doubt anybody says anything remotely close to that.) It just made me think of how the call might go and how the hospitals and nursing homes must make these calls so often that it possibly "desensitizes" them to it? Maybe not so much as to say they don't care because I know they do. I think maybe in order to do such an extraordinary job like that, they have to remain strong and collected and try to be as calm as can be and somehow, not let it affect their day to day lives.
My friend went on to describe how the last few days went with her husband. He suffered from Alzheimer's Disease and was fighting for quite a few years.
He finally succumbed to this horrific disease, 2 days ago.
I couldn't help but cry and my 11 year old kept staring at me and asking what was going on. I didn't want to interrupt my friend, so, I tried to whisper and point over to her house as best as I could for him to understand. He immediately put his head down and started to ask in a whisper, "Mom, Is ___, ok?"
No, she wasn't. As a matter of fact, she was uncontrollable and a very big mess. She started talking about how her last few hours were with him, how he had gotten "better", out of nowhere and how she asked the nurses if they could go home now because he was miraculously better.
I couldn't help but think about how terribly sad all of this was and I could barely say a word to her. Hearing her suffer in this way was just to much to bare and I was just at a loss for words, I felt helpless, I just couldn't say anything.
But, she just kept talking and she started sounding very ill and I was getting more and more worried. I still don't know if she will be "ok."
It was all very surreal. I mean, I knew at some point it would happen but it wasn't like we expected this at anytime, certainly not around the holidays.
He had been struggling, so was she and the little flashes she got when her husband was the same person she married, they were getting much farther in between.
That's all I could think of to say after hearing her story, but I didn't. I felt it was to early and decided I would make a note of their "blessing" at a later date.
Maybe I am wrong to think that? But, she explained how he was able to talk and eat and smile and laugh, things he hasn't been able to do for more than a blink of an eye for about 2 years. But, he was able to for a couple days, without ANY fleeting moments. Very tragic but at the same time, they reminisced and laughed and talked of their future, while they were both aware that it would be over in moments. (Or maybe not?)
I decided the best thing we could do, as good friends, best friends, would be to do the typical, send over some food, check every so often, give her space and make sure she was moving and using lights, answering her phone, things to let me know she was still coherent.
We are going to his funeral, next Wednesday. After all, my kids thought of him as a grandpa and they think of her as a grandma.
He was their grandpa's friend too.
Since their grandpa passed away, last year (and from the same disease.), this tragedy started some more sad feelings and discussions about life, death, missing our friend and their grandpa and lots and lots of memories.
I think it may be healthy to talk about this sometimes. (The kids bring their grandpa up a lot.) and maybe this is part of the whole idea that "Time will heal"?

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

InstaNatural Youth Express Eye Gel and Youth Express Eye Serum Review

I'm a sucker for beauty products, most of my friends and long time readers already know this. I could fill a store with what I have in stock and I just keep searching, trying and sampling new products all the time.
I always keep the ones I love the most and sometimes I have a few of each product type and have to swap them out from time to time! (Just because I could never part with them and something else seems to always come around!) I have always been this way, addicted to beauty products, although, since I became a grandma, I started to really start with night creams, serums, eye serums, anything I could find that fit my criteria.
I almost forgot to mention my specific criteria:
1) The product has to work. (Of course, I mean, who wouldn't want that as their rule?) It doesn't have to be an instant gratification, but somewhere between the lines of a few days to at least a couple weeks to show some sort of improvement would be nice!
2) The product has got to be as natural, organic and as non toxic as it can be, Now, I do let this slide sometimes for old favorites and some new favorites, I must admit. However, those have to be next to minimal and they also probably won't fit my #1 slot or even my #2 slot. Meaning, they will get traded much less through my trading cycle and they may not make it into the bathroom drawer, cabinet or closet.
3) It has to be well worth it's price. This isn't to much to ask for, is it? I mean, after all, who wants to pay 3 times the price for an ounce of something? Well, maybe that would be ok but that must be absolute instant improvements in something, like, "Completely vanishes fine lines within the blink of an eye!" If that were the case, I would be first in line.
That's it! That doesn't seem so bad!
Sure, samples are nice to try first but not totally necessary. I don't mind buying a product to try it out. But, if I find a sample or trial size in one of my beauty subscription boxes, I will always pick those products first before any others that I didn't receive a sample of.
Naturally, I was delighted when I received an email about a brand called, InstaNatural. I recently signed up with, Brandbacker, which is a really cool place for social media junkies and bloggers to go to find opportunities with brands!
InstaNatural had a few products available and I applied for all of them because they all just sounded much to tempting! I set my emails on alert and being the already hyperactive person that I am, I started checking out their social networks, website, other products, Amazon listings and other reviews and crossed my fingers with hopes to get approved.
Sure enough, I did, (Yay me!) So, I said, "Thank you so much! I am thrilled to have this opportunity to work with you!"
See, that's one neat thing about websites like Brandbacker. I can apply for what I want to try and that makes the whole review process go much smoother!
The brand rep was very gracious through all communication and after a few days, I was given the go ahead that my samples were on the way. OOOOPS! Did I say samples? I meant to say, FULL SIZE PRODUCTS! Yep, that is how rad this whole transaction was.
Shortly after receiving word that my InstaNatural Eye Gel and Eye Serum were on their way to their new, loving home, I received 2 emails from InstaNatural. At first, I just assumed they were just more confirmations.... but no! They were such sweet emails, informing me all about my new products and how to use them. (This was a first. I haven't ever received any thank you, by the way, here is who we are, here is what you are receiving and here is how you use it, emails before.) Yes, that was a big hit in my book! (The best part of these emails of tips and hints and just pure class, was the part that said that if I had ANY issues at all with my products to just reply to the email and they would personally get back to me within 24 hours!) How is that for royal service? I have yet to be treated like this by any brand or business, even the ones I do regular business with!
While I waited for my package to arrive, I went back on their website, read some of their tweets, tweeted them and tried to learn more about this fabulous company who just took the time to personally acknowledge me and introduce themselves.
Here are just some of what really stuck out to me:
On their "About" page, they discuss how they were formed, what their mission is and how they came to be. They use premium organic and natural ingredients and they do NOT use harmful alcohols, parabens or sulfates.
At the very bottom of the page, they state their mission from the founder. "..... Our mission is to treat you as if you're our only customer!" Well, so far, that is how I felt and that is awesome!
Insta Natural doesn't just do eye gels and serums, they have products for every single nook and cranny. A few online shoppers dreams come true... free shipping on all standard orders! 100% Lifetime Satisfaction Money Back Guarantee! There is also a club where you can get an instant 15% off everything coupon delivered to your inbox, exclusive sales and access to the VIP club. (It is limited to the first 500 people and I signed up so, hurry and sign up!)
The day came, (it was super fast, like 2 days!) and my package arrived! My mail comes pretty early in the morning so I was able to rip these babies right out and use them right away! I double checked my emails again and made sure to follow their suggestions and I started with the Youth Express Eye Gel.
Here are the key ingredients in Youth Express Eye Gel :
 Hyaluronic Acid
Plant Stem Cells
Amino Acid Complex
Peptide Complex
Matrixyl 3000

This is a nice size, by the way. 1,7 oz and comes in a very handy pump. (The pump works great. Very strong and well put together.) I don't see this pump or bottle busting on me, even if it slips and smacks against the wall or hits a porcelain sink!
I don't even know where to begin with how amazing this product is!
First, it is a lovely gel, it was a bit chilly, I guess due to the ride it took on the way to my house in Pennsylvania, where it is bitter cold! But, I think it works lovely this way! I would rather it was chilled. It has kept it's "coolness" since it's been here, so, I think it is to be this way, (I will put in the fridge if necessary during the warmer months.)
It feels wonderful and is easy to apply. No sticky feeling, (which I expected since I have had that with other eye gels). It was just perfect. Very light, refreshing and smooth. It has a very light, pleasing scent and a neat, tingling feeling that actually made me feel like it was working already! You can also use this for your entire face, which I have since and OMG, it is just super! I think I would bathe in this stuff and feel like I'm 20 again!
You can use this morning and night and the directions say to dab gently to your eye area, forehead and cheek area. This product helps with with dark circles, wrinkles, puffiness and sagging skin. This blend of powerful ingredients increases elasticity and enhances the tone of your skin to provide a firm, plump appearance. Have I noticed a difference? Well, I have had it for a week and it does say to give it 8 weeks, (which I will! Probably another 8 years and then another and another!) But, truthfully, I have noticed a difference in softness. Now, I don't know for sure if that is just me but that's all that matters, right? I can say that I have high hopes for this product long term and I believe, without a doubt, that they will deliver. (InstaNatural Youth Express Eye Gel is in my bathroom cabinet, meaning, TOP priority!)
Next up by InstaNatural, I tried Youth Express Eye Serum.
Here are the key ingredients in this little bottle of gold:
Vitamin C
Plant Stem Cells
Kojic Acid
Hyaluronic Acid

Ok, I thought they outdid themselves with the Youth Express Eye Gel and then there was this pleasantly scented, pretty orange, non sticky, gorgeous feeling, heaven scent serum!
It smells so beautiful, I would use this for perfume but I wouldn't want to waste it!! One thing I've noticed over the years is, it is very hard to find any serums for your eyes or face, that aren't sticky and don't have either no smell at all or a strange, bland, kind of old kind of smell. I don't know why but I kind of like things that have at least a tiny bit of scent. (I'm guessing it's the passionflower.)
Directions for this serious goodness:
Apply a small amount of serum to your fingertips and gently press the serum under each eye from the inner corner to outer corner. Use rolling motions of your fingers to press the serum into your skin. Allow to dry. Can be used daily (morning & night) and under makeup. Follow with a moisturizer.
InstaNatural Youth Express Eye Serum, comes in a 1 oz bottle with a dropper, again, just like the pump, this is one of the best serum droppers and bottles I ever came across. Maybe I am a bit dorky for judging bottles, tubes, tins, jars but I like the kind that are made to last. Not the flimsy things that end up breaking, only to waste product or make me go out and turn into Macgyver  and find some crazy way to use toothpicks, cotton swabs and safety pins to scoop out some overpriced serum that they put in a cheaply made bottle! No, this is just really a phenomenal product all around.
It glides on nice, feels nice and like the gel, you can feel it working.
Have I noticed a difference? Well, again, it has been a week but I have confidence and this product is also in my bathroom cabinet. (#1)
Youth Express Eye Serum will deliver exceptional results to the under eye area, resulting in a decreased appearance of wrinkles, fine lines, dark circles and puffiness.
What else is nice, is the price. Now, I didn't pay for these since I am reviewing these 2 fine products. But, I would and will be buying again.
The Youth Express Eye Serum is only $23.97 for 1 oz.
The Youth Express Eye Gel is $19.97 for 1.7 oz.
I have paid much more than that for eye serums and gels before and I assure you, I have not received the personal treatment from any other brand nor have I found an unsticky, "unicky", well made bottle, pump, dropper and pretty scented eye product like this before.
Would I recommend these products to you? Yes!

I would love to hear from you! Have you ever tried, InstaNatural products before? these are my first and definitely won't be the last! I am anxious to try more of their products! 

** I received samples of these products from InstaNatural through Brandbacker in return for my honest review. All words, thoughts and my review are all my own and my own opinion. **


The word for your entry in this week's scavenger hunt is: adorable

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Trees Rock!

** I received a sample and coupons from Scotties and Smiley360 in return for my honest review. Receiving free samples does not affect my thoughts, feelings or review of this product. **

I am always looking for brands and businesses who give back in some way, especially in the form of saving our future! (We have children and grandchildren to grow up here yet so this is kind of important!)
I have to say, I wasn't aware of the, Trees Rock campaign that Scotties Facial Tissues has been doing but thanks to, Smiley360, I was given the opportunity to try Scotties tissues and we are grateful we were given the chance to learn about them.
 I never really thought about the brand of tissues we use, if they give back, if they plant trees, if they help our schools, I mean, they are tissues and sadly, I just never thought to question this. ( I know, it is sad,right?) I try to stick with as many organic and green products and brands as we possibly can and I don't know why, tissues just weren't ever on my radar!
Here is what I found out: Scotties actually plants 3 trees for every 1 that they use! How is that for starters? They are also environmentally considerate and are dedicated to responsible forestry. So, because of all of this, they decided to create, Trees Rock! (Yes, I know right? Just when you were thinking, "What?? A tissue brand does all of this?" Well, yes, they do and it gets even better yet!
So, Scotties hosts a contest called, Trees Rock and they have some really sweet prizes!
All you have to do is have your child (or children) create a video or write an essay about, why trees rock. That shouldn't be to hard. There are tons of reasons why trees rock! (I live in Pennsylvania, so, I'm kind of used to being surrounded by lots of trees!)
I know you can ask your kids this one simple question.... "Why do trees rock?" and like all kids, their little brains start moving and they come up with some extraordinary stuff! The same with videos! Our little ones have wild and crazy imaginations! (This is a good thing!) But, maybe even pitch the idea to your children's teacher, maybe grab a group of friends, I'm sure your little ones can come up with something spectacular! (As of this post date, the video entries are no longer being accepted. However, they are still accepting essays!)
Now let's get to the prizes! There are many, many, many prizes and Scotties splits this into 2 categories. One for video entries and one for essay entries. Then, they narrow it down by grade! There are seriously prizes per grade!
For the grand prize video entry, Scotties will award your school with $10,000 AND a Trees Rock Entertainment and Planting Event!
One winning school from each grade category will be awarded cash for their school!
 There are also the essay winners! These winners will be awarded with a $250 gift card for themselves, along with a $250 gift card for their teacher. (Think of all of the school supplies and Scotties cubes that their teachers can buy with that!)
After all of this, I started to feel really bad about the fact that I never really bothered to look into brands that sell things we all need and use. I definitely learned not to take anybody for granted anymore, no matter how "simple" they may seem, it really isn't very simple at all. This brand truly pulls more than their fair share!
That's right! I guess I should add our review of Scotties tissue cubes!
Well, Genevive thinks they are the greatest because they have these 2 tiny kitty cats on the package! Kitty cats are always adorable!
I like the cubes because they fit in places where I need them to fit. They are the perfect size and they have a lot of shades of blue and designs in blue. (blue happens to be my favorite color!)
We like that the tissues are as soft as the kitty cats on the package and I like that there are 70 sheets in a cube! The price is very reasonable, under $2 a cube at my local stores.
Actually, Scotties has more tissues per box versus the leading national brand. Not only are you getting more for your money, you are helping to make sure there are more trees planted! I don't know what more you could ask for?
Has your child entered the Trees Rock contest?
What do you think your school would do with a grand prize of $10,000?
I would love to hear what your thoughts are! Do you use Scotties? Did you know they plant 3 trees for every 1 they use?

Friday, December 5, 2014

Introducing The Honest Company

** This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. **

The Honest Company is the modern family's trusted resource for unquestionably safe, effective, and beautiful non-toxic lifestyle goods. Their products range from diapers and childcare, bath and body, household cleaners, and health and wellness products - all made with safer and healthier ingredients. Customers can also save up to 40% by signing up for one of their convenient, completely customizable bundles where customers choose the products they need (and want) and decide how often they ship directly to their doorstep! All you have to do is Bundle & Save! 

The Honest Company

For holiday delivery by Wednesday, December 24th.

Friday 12/12/2014 2pm PST for ground shipping
Thursday 12/16/2014 2pm PST for 2 day shipping
Wednesday 12/17/2014 2pm PST for overnight shipping

I currently receive 2 monthly bundles from The Honest Company each month. (Well, I have had to skip a few here and there but, it is super easy to do so!)
You can edit, add to, delete, skip a month, add an extra bundle, whatever your heart desires!
I have had an excellent experience with this company, (which is why I will post and share their products!)
Some things we have been avid fans of:
My 7 year old princess has extremely long, fairly thick hair. Of course, with that comes countless hours of brushing, combing, and KNOTS! We have tried quite a few different brands of detanglers over the years and The Honest Company is one of our top 2 favorites. by far!
I am a fan of their cleaning products! Very clean scented all purpose cleaner, bathroom cleaner, and reasonably priced too! They also sell refills for the spray bottles at an even better price! Yes, they work quite well actually! I have some sort of addiction with cleaning products and beauty products and there are some products I can not go without, The Honest Company has at least 7 of these products. (and we haven't even tried them all yet!)
We use their laundry detergents and boosters and again, these are top of my list of "must haves".
Oh, I know it's winter, (or almost winter, depending on where you are. It is winter her in PA!), but, we always have a couple bottles of The Honest Company's sunscreen and bug spray. Both of these products work awesome! We live in a very rural area and go camping quite a bit and have a few little ones who are deathly afraid of bugs! (Lol!) But, they know where their bug spray and sunscreen sprays are and I feel safe spraying them since they ARE safe and non toxic!
All of my children use The Honest Company's bubble bath and bath gel. (Especially since we had an extra gift in one of our boxes one month and the kids were able to blow bubbles with their bubble bath ;)
Speaking of extra bonuses and gifts, I received the sweetest gift in my bundle for Mother's Day! A little Mother's Day card attached to a pomegranate lip shimmer! That made my day!
I am completely pleased with our bundles! I just love the ease of service and shipping, the website works well, it's is very easy to navigate and edit whatever you may need.
I also like the prices. I am a coupon nut but, I save gas money, I don't run out and their prices and service can't be beat.
Do you subscribe to any bundles?
If so, which ones?
I would love to read any comments from fellow, Honest Company junkies!!

The Honest Company

5 DIY Spa Treatments for Your Hair from Madison Reed

Disclosure - this post contains affiliate links.
Need a new idea for what to do with those turkey-day leftovers?
Sneaking in a spa getaway before the holidays is easier than you think. Madison Reed wants you to know about these 5 swanky spa treatments for your hair. The best part? These deliciously healthy hair solutions can be found in your own kitchen!

1. Beer is the Silver Bullet for Fine, Limp Hair
Believe it or not, beer is full of protein, which enhances shine, strength, and moisture.
HOW: Just open up a can or bottle and let it sit open for a couple hours to release the carbonation. After you shampoo, gently massage the beer into your hair, let it sit for 5-10 minutes, and then rinse. You can also put the beer in a spray bottle and spritz onto dry hair. The protein residue from the brew will help strengthen your hair.
2. Honey is The Bee’s Knees for Split Ends
Don’t worry, we’re not leading you into a sticky situation, you can safely put honey on your hair! In fact, it can be a miracle worker for damaged hair. Honey is antibacterial, contains vitamins and minerals, and is a humectant, which means that it attracts moisture to improve dry hair.
HOW: Using half a cup of honey, saturate your hair. Put on a shower cap to capture natural heat and put your feet up for half an hour (you deserve it). Rinse out the honey to reveal glowing soft, silky hair. This treatment will help reduce split ends and fly aways.
3. Baking Soda Gets a Rise Out of Your Hair
Time to apply our science class know-how to hair care! Baking soda is an alkaline base (the other end of the spectrum from acids). This is important for hair because excess oils and styling products get trapped in the cuticle of your hair, making it feel greasy and flat. Use baking soda to lift out those unwanted oils and product build up.
HOW: Mix two tablespoons of baking soda with small amounts of water until it forms a thick paste. Work this paste into your hair and let it sit for ten minutes before rinsing. Your hair will gain volume and feel bouncy and clean!
4. Avocado to Bring Down the Frizz
The oils in avocados are very similar to the natural oils in our skin. Combined with its proteins and nutrients, this is one hair-enriching fruit! Use as a smoothing balm to tame frizz and fly aways. In winter months, it can also reduce that annoying seasonal static.
HOW: Mash half an avocado until smooth. Massage into damp hair and leave it on for 20 minutes before rinsing. Your hair will be deeply conditioned. Bonus: if you have curls, this treatment will make them soft and defined.
5. Let the Light in with Yogurt
Yogurt does wonders for dull, lifeless hair. It contains lactic acid, which gently cleans off the environmental film that can build up on our hair, and milk fat, which adds incredible shine.
HOW: Massage a half cup of plain yogurt into damp hair. Put on a shower cap to capture natural heat. After 20 minutes, rinse your hair. Your hair will look like it’s glowing!
Treat yourself to one of these kitchen spa treatments once a week on rotation to relax and get healthy, gorgeous hair. Follow up with Madison Reed Radiant Color Kit that is healthier for your hair for a full beauty routine that leaves you feeling great, inside and out!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

In Search of Fellow RSD Survivors

I don't know how many years I have to have this very strange disorder before any of it makes any kind of sense to me. Although, from what I understand, it doesn't seem to make a whole lot of sense to a lot of people, including many of our doctors and specialists.
Sometimes I feel like an alien from outer space, (It would be kind of cool to be a one eyed, mini, glowing, green martian!) but, really, most people tend to stop paying attention or even caring, after saying, "So, what is RSD?"
I know, it isn't the easiest thing to describe or explain, every day is different and I don't believe I have ever had 2 days that were the same, yet.
I keep a pain diary and try to find some sort of cause, solution, reasoning, anything but every time I think I am getting close to the culprit, it gets even more mysterious.
I wouldn't say I'm Horatio Caine or anything but I feel pretty close to a CSI. Maybe, if Horatio reads this, he can get down to the bottom of this within the hour?
What is my goal with this post? I'm not to sure just yet, I just feel the more I write about my struggles maybe somebody, somewhere will read this and say, "OMG! I know exactly what she means!!" Anybody, I don't care ;)
I have been blessed with friends, (online mainly.) I have found quite a few beautiful people who have big hearts and are fighting the same fight as me. The odd thing is, we aren't the same. None of our cases are the same. We may share some similar symptoms but something that causes a flare up in my friend, Mindi, won't cause one for me and vice versa.
Ok, so, maybe that is the point? Here I am!! Screaming across the internet for any sort of help, maybe advice, maybe let me hear your story and maybe hear mine? As interesting as this disorder is, (don't ask me why, maybe I am a nerd but science and the most peculiar things in the universe are some of my favorite things!)
I'm thinking of publishing my pain diaries on one of my new blogs, I think that will benefit me and more importantly, will help somebody else.
I write and write and write until I get these annoying lumps on my fingers, where the pen sits. Often, I do find that just getting frustrations out helps a lot but, the physical pain is still there. I think I have lost hope of being pain free at any point in my life but at the same time, this disorder has been nothing but a magical blessing in disguise.
If you are somebody who deals with chronic pain or neurological pain, please leave me a comment! If you have a blog, a Twitter, anything, I would love to follow you there and read what you are going through.
I truly believe that the cure for this is quite simple. I don't know what it is just yet but I assure you, it is on the tip of somebody's tongue and I won't lose hope.

My Love Affair with Influenster

I am sure most of you know I enjoy blabbing about everything I eat, bake, cook, wear, try, buy, sample, clean with, listen to, watch, drive, I mean, practically everything I do offline is going to be discussed online, somewhere. I am also always very anxious to tell brands what I think and share my thoughts, hopes, dreams and ideas with them to let them know they are spectacular,that I am hoping to see something new soon, or that my kids just love them so much and I don't know what on earth we would do without that brand, product, service, show, music or author.
 I shop a lot! Not that I splurge on all kinds of fancy things for myself, (although I am a major, major snack, beauty, book and coffee addict!) and I love nothing more than surprise boxes that arrive on my doorstep each month! (You know those kinds, the samples, trial sizes, new products, crafts, toys, BEAUTY PRODUCTS and SNACKS!!)
 I just can't get enough of those. I have so many trial sizes and samples and products and pretty little beauty bags, recyclable shopping bags, boxes that we repurpose, all filled to the brim! (I also get a lot of giveaway items from these boxes. By the way, be on the lookout for a very cool scavenger hunt in the next couple days!)
 When I receive these heavenly boxes of gorgeous and yummy treasures, I like to try them and even give some away and I love to thank the brands for the products and when I absolutely adore something, I HAVE A BIG MOUTH! (Or should I say, hands? Fingers? Lol!)
 One of the coolest things about sharing on the internet, are these websites where you can get rewarded in some way to shout your opinions and thoughts about brands, products and services. Sometimes I win gift cards, other times I earn gift cards, sometimes, I even earn free boxes or extra goodies!! I am a member of at least 10 websites where I review products on a regular basis and since I really enjoy the way the website is set up, or how a program they offer is set up and my most very favorite addition, TWITTER PARTIES!, I will always schedule that website in my agenda.
One of the most fascinating websites that I have ever come across is, Influenster. If you haven't heard about, Influenster, you may want to check them out. Maybe you have heard about these, "Vox Boxes"? I have heard of them and seen them and adored them from afar. I have yet to receive one but I am trying and trying and trying to earn the opportunity to receive one.
 Vox Boxes are stocked full with amazing products that the awesome people from Influenster, believe are worthy of landing in your precious hands. They usually seem to go by a theme of some sort and they come loaded with everything you need and from what I have seen in many reviews, FULL SIZE PRODUCTS! Now, again, I haven't had the chance to receive one but I have seen them on other blogs, social networks, Influenster Vox's Twitter page and their Facebook page. I can honestly say that you are a mega superstar if you get the chance to receive, try, review and hashtag your box all over the interwebs!
 Now, of course we all love grabbing free stuff to try and yes, getting a box with some luscious smelling and scrumptious tasting supplies is like waking up on Christmas morning! But, Influenster has so much more to offer.
 If you like rewards, perks and just hanging out, chillin with internet friends who happen to have opinions and ideas to, then, you may want to sign up!
 One of the best parts about, Influenster, would have to be, Voxperks! You may be familiar with perks from other websites, Influenster is no different. They offer a wide variety of perks, thanks to sponsors and they will show up in your account when you log on. (They have expiration dates so if you are going to take advantage of a perk, grab it up as fast as you can!)
 One of the neatest perks I have seen would have to be the "12 for $12 Instagram tattoos"! I also have a Voxperk available right now for a free bottle of wine and free shipping! Oh La La!!
 Another radical bonus you will get when being a member is, campaigns! Campaigns usually consist of some sort of blog post or social media campaign or a special contest available for Influenster members. You may have to find a certain product in a store and snap a few photos and share or you may be asked to write a blog post and share that.
 Of course, Influenster doesn't skimp on prizes, so, you want to make sure you snap, share, link, write, post, Tweet, Instagram, whatever it takes to get you up on the top of the list to be available for prizes. Not only are they fun to participate in, they are a fun way to get to know brands and learn about different products or promotions. (Oh and for bloggers, it gives you some more to write about, just in case you would ever possibly run out of things to say!) Now, I am onto my favorite part of Influenster. The reviews and questions!
 I mentioned earlier, how I am a loud mouth and I am really never shy. I will talk and talk for days about something I love if I want too. (and if anybody ever feels like listening!) If you also enjoy sharing your thoughts and ideas and experiences, you can do this!!
 Influenster has thousands of products available for us to review and let the brand know exactly what we think. You can even leave questions there for other members or the brand and you receive an email if somebody answered your questions. Now, if that doesn't sound like enough to make you stop whatever you are doing and run to the nearest computer or phone, (By the way!! Influenster has their own app!), then maybe when you hear about my next favorite part, you will say, "OK! Now, I am going to sign up!!" Badges!
 Badges are basically that, badges. But, they have to be unlocked by you. How, do you ask? By sharing your reviews, answering member's questions, completing campaigns and reviewing and sharing any Vox Boxes you may receive. You can unlock as many badges as you want and you can earn every single one, if your little heart so desires! You want to show off your expertise and skills, right? Of course! Badges are just the way to prove your mad skills and ninja techniques? No, you can't wear them around your house, at school or work or at the mall, but you can show them off to your friends and share about how much you are adored!
 Besides all of these reasons, I have to mention that I think it is absolutely wonderful how we are able to communicate with brands and let them know what we think. I trust brands a lot more when they are a part of a community like this and when they attend Twitter parties, I am thrilled! It shows they truly care about us, their customers. I like to think that by sharing my opinion, I have a say in what brands offer in the future and what to do away with, what to keep and what to invent. I think that after all, this is the best part. Working together to create some of the most fascinating, most delicious products! For that, I am very grateful for Influenster!

Monday, December 1, 2014

The London Sessions by Mary J Blige Album Review

** I participated in the Mary J Blige The London Sessions album review program as a member of One2One Network. I was provided a free album to review but all opinions are my own.  **

If you haven't ever heard of Mary J Blige, you apparently have been living on another planet for a couple decades. I mean, she has been one of the most successful artists of her time and has quite the loyal fan base.
She has an amazing record of 31 nominations, eight multi-platinum albums, nine Grammy Awards, a 2012 Golden Globe nomination, and four American Music Awards. She has one of the most alluring, soulful and unique voices in her genre and even if you aren't a fan of Mary J Blige's, you probably can pick out her voice and her music when you hear it on the radio.
I have my favorites in music, I most often listen to metal, hardcore, some old school rap, some alternative (The 80's were pretty rad!) and thrash, things along those lines. However, I appreciate all kinds of music and admire many different artists, regardless of whether or not I have their albums or have seen one of their concerts.
Mary J Blige is one of those artists that I have always had much respect for. So, when I was given the opportunity to listen to her new album, The London Sessions, I couldn't resist. I enjoy having a chance to review books, albums, movies, before they are released and even after and even if it isn't something I am normally "into", I think the project helps me as a blogger, a writer and a person. I try to enter the mind of the person who would rush out to the record store on release day and grab the album, (or pre order online, since there doesn't seem to be many record stores left these days.) I feel that it helps better myself as a person, so I can take a walk in somebody else's shoes for a bit and try and understand their points of views a bit more.
I was actually pretty excited when I received an email with, The London Sessions, inside and that was just the coolest! After all, it's Mary J Blige! I don't often get a chance to do a review for a real life superstar and their new album, so, that was really cool!
I have heard a lot of Mary J Blige's other songs over the years, (I've been a bartender for 20+ years so, I hear a LOT of music on the jukebox, lol!) I already know her style, her voice and surprisingly, some of her lyrics. One of the reasons I do appreciate her as a singer is because she is one of those singers that you can actually hear the lyrics. You don't usually have to rewind to listen again and again just to pick out what she is singing. This album is no different in that sense.
Where it is different, is the style of music. Maybe not so much the actual music as a whole, but the whole atmosphere. Which is apparently what was intended. I do give mega props to artists who go beyond their realm and try new things. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.
Since I am not a hardcore fan of Mary's, I feel as though it isn't necessarily my place to say what I am about to say, but, it's the way I feel about this album. (and I have listened to it many, many, many times.)  I do like her old style much better.
I do think she tackled this project head on and with much grace, fearlessness  and as usual, she comes off as very fierce. (One of my favorite things about Mary J Blige is her attitude and personality in her music.) She did conquer this project, I have to give her a 100% on that but, I expected a little more from her, maybe 110%??
Now that I have said the only close to negative thing I have to say here, I will go on to what was phenomenal:
First, as I stated above, she came and conquered and that's just because she IS Mary J Blige.
Second, I feel she really, really, really poured her soul, her heart, her everything, into this album and that alone is what cancels out the parts where I kind of, sort of expected a little more.
Third, I think she did very well with this new, more raw style of music. I just keep thinking her voice and techniques are much stronger the "old way". I would actually like to see the songs from this album, redone for a new album, done "The Mary J way."
I don't like to give my opinion or views on lyrics that an artist or anybody writes because I don't believe it is proper for anybody  to say, "Well, I don't like that song because the lyrics...." I feel the same about art class. How can you grade a drawing, a painting, a sculpture, a poem, a song that somebody else creates? Sure, if you can relate and you understand and know where they are coming from, then great! But just because you don't, you don't really have the authority to say that, "so and so just poured their soul into this creation and I don't like it!"
Of course you could critique by grading on whether they were lyrics that made sense, fit together, blended smoothly, but you can't truly go much further than that. So, for her lyrics, yes, all of the above is true. She is as always, easy to understand and even if I don't personally relate with her lyrics, I know many do and I think that is wonderful.
Would I recommend, The London Sessions to anybody? Well, of course! I mean, it is a bit different than what you may be used to but you will want a copy just because it is an artist you already adore. (I buy up all of the albums from my favorite bands, side projects, solo albums, even if they may not end up being my absolute favorites!) For any newer fans, you may very well end up falling in love with this album! For anybody who hasn't ever owned anything by, Mary J Blige, but you happen to like the London music scene, or you are a fan of some honest, therapeutic, raw music, then, you probably should check this one out.
Earlier I mentioned different genres that I listen to on a regular basis. The funny thing is, is that while those may be my favorite genres, I have favorite artists who don;t fit in any of those genres. Artists like, Bjork, PJ Harvey and even some Tori Amos. All 3 of these women have something in common in my eyes, they are all strong women who have the ability to relay messages through their raw emotion and I admire each of them for their talent and practically flawless music.
After listening to, The London Sessions, I have a newfound amount of respect for, Mary J Blige and I would put her up there with the other 3. Even if I don't listen to her music regularly, again, she fits right up there with all of the other divas and I'm certain that millions around the world would say she is in a diva class of her own ;) (5 million followers on Twitter kind of already says that!!)

Want a copy of Mary J Blige's new album?
You can purchase it on iTunes or Amazon.

You can listen to more of her album and of course find favorites on Mary's Youtube channel. 
Follow Mary J Blige on Twitter!

What do you think of, The London Sessions?
Were you surprised? What are your thoughts on the lyrics? Did you also expect them to maybe be slightly deeper or do you think they are perfect the way they are?

Monday, November 24, 2014

Monk Fruit in the Raw Review

** I received a sample of this product from Monk Fruit in the Raw through the Moms Meet Blogger program, in return for my honest review. **

I am always on the lookout for healthier products to replace things that aren't so healthy. I think we're doing pretty good here, we still need about 20% replaced. (even if only some of the time!)
Of course I was very eager to try, Monk Fruit in the Raw. Moms Meet hosted a webinar and we were able to learn all about this brand and what benefits our families would get from this. Naturally, I was enthusiastic when our package came, after hearing and reading all about this zero calorie sweetener, I already had a few recipes I wanted to replace half of the sugar in.
(Monk Fruit in the Raw is great as a sugar substitute! Again, it is no calorie and all natural!) You can use it in your coffee, tea, even cocktails! Speaking of that, I have been a bartender for 20 years and love using, Sugar in the Raw to rim glasses with! Guess what? Same company!
If you would like to use Monk Fruit in the Raw for baking, they do suggest you only replace half of the amount of sugar! Regular sugar is very crucial to baked goods browning, moisture and rising.
Monk Fruit in the Raw is naturally sweeter than sugar. It is blended with maltodextrin, a natural ingredient. This blend helps create the perfect balance of sweetness, making it easier to pour and measure.

Of course, the possibilities are endless with, Monk Fruit in the Raw for recipes.

You can find lots and lots of recipes on their website. Recipes ranging from, pumpkin pie frappe to cranberry pear relish to peppermint brownies! I am on a mission to try all of the beverage recipes they have on their website ;)
You can also find out where to buy their products and find some coupons! (That's always helpful, especially when trying new products!)
I did replace regular sugar in my morning coffee with, Monk Fruit in the Raw packets and thought it tasted plenty sweet and although I love sugar, I continue to replace sugar at least every other day, sometimes, every other cup of coffee. (It's better than nothing, right?)
Oh, one packet also goes a long, long way when you use it on cereal, oatmeal or even berries for breakfast!
We decided we would try the Monk Fruit in the Raw Bakers Bag out for our special, soft, sugar cookies with icing and sprinkles.
I was a bit worried about how these would turn out. I figured they would be fine but I wasn't sure if my husband and the kids would be able to tell a difference. I replaced exactly half of the sugar with, Monk Fruit in the Raw and kept it a secret. (I don't know why, but sometimes if I tell them that I am trying something new or adding something, the assume it will be different and make decisions before actually trying it.)

Here is our soft sugar cookie recipe:

1 cup of butter (softened)
3/4 cup sugar (do half sugar and half Monk Fruit in the Raw! I promise you won't be able to tell!)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups of flour
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla.
Combine the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt. Gradually add to the creamed mixture.
Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets.
Bake at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes or until light, golden brown.
Remove to wire racks and cool.

I use a few different icing recipes, sometimes, it just depends on the ingredients we have available at the time/ Other times, we just choose whichever we're in te mood for.
The icing recipe we used for our, Monk Fruit in the Raw cookies:

2 egg whites
1/4 ts[ salt
1/4 cup sugar (I also switched a couple teaspoonfuls of sugar for Monk Fruit in the Raw.)
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla

Beat eggs and salt until foamy.
Add sugar, beat until still peaks form.
Bring corn syrup to boil over medium to medium high heat and pour into mixture.
Add vanilla and continue to beat until you have stiff peaks.

We use all kinds of colored sprinkles, non perils. red hots, whatever we feel like decorating our cookies with. The little ones usually take care of the sprinkle part, which is nice because I do love extra sprinkles!

These tasted just as deliciously sweet as they do with sugar.
Nobody was able to tell the difference, so, I will be replacing   half of the sugar in all of our baking recipes!!

Have you ever tried to make a switch to a zero calorie sweetener? How did it turn out?