Back in the game…of critiquing, that is

This morning I considered closing my account…then saw that folks are still reading, especially reviews. So…I’m back! Now… recently, after becoming a mom and realizing I still need to really watch the products that I use, I started to try to pick products that were cleaner. Below is a very random assortment of reviews!

Novena Maternity Organic Fruit Facial Cleanser

starstarstar

novena fruit cleanser

I picked this product because it’s developed for pregnant women and therefore I figured it would be most clean of any products I could find in the store. The product is 88% Organic, 99% Natural and 100% Vegan. It also states that it removes makeup as well.

I ordered this and was excited to receive it. The product, for me, gets 3 stars.

Price: $19.99

Look: OK, look doesn’t really apply here but I am going to twist this category. The bottle is a plastic bottle with a label wrapped around it. The silver top is simply a silver piece around the stem of the bottle, which came off as soon as I took it out of the package. Does this affect the product? No. Does it annoy me? Yes.

Performance: Good. It states you only need a very small amount, but this was not the case for me. I had to use about a silver dollar amount in order to get the makeup off. I’m OK with this, but not at the price of $19.99 for 3.5oz. My face is clean afterwards though, and this is a very gentle cleanser.

Overall: Because I have to use so much and go through the bottle so quickly, I have to take away 2 stars. If I were one of the celebrities using this product and had unlimited funds, sure, I’d keep buying. But, I just don’t know if I will go back. I may stick with the Willa wash that I loved, which is half the price and lasts about 3x as long.

Side note – do not buy the sampler. The sampler was $3 and included enough product to try each item once. To me, that doesn’t give me anything more than an allergy test… you get better samples at Sephora, which I’m sure you can find a product just as good there.

whipping coconut oil?!

Enjoy the use of coconut oil but hate that you have to scoop it out of a jar, warm it up in your hands and then apply it? Or, balance it on the shelf of the tub or in the corner of the shower so you can let it warm up and melt before applying it? Well, let me rock your world with Whipped Coconut Oil.

Recently, when I ran out of coconut oil that I previously put in the jar in my bathroom I decided I’d give whipping it a try. I had read that you could do it and people liked it, but never actually wanted to put the effort in. My skeptical husband and his brother watched me as I scooped out the oil and put it in the mini food processor. I turned it on and let it go for a minute and poof – creamy goodness! Even they made comment on how it whipped!

The consistency is very smooth after whipping – very light and fluffy. It isn’t liquidy but it isn’t solid either. I thought after it cooled down from the whipping process it may solidify a little more but I was wrong. This stayed light and fluffy even after I transferred it to my jar and put it back in the bathroom. I will say that it has more of an oily consistency but then again, it’s oil. It immediately melts in your hand and makes applying extremely easy. The only downside is I need to scoop more often as when you put some in your hand it’s very liquidy so you don’t get as much. Bottom line – I’ll continue to whip it, it just makes it easier!

 

hot or not

A few weeks ago a friend made some delicious kale chips which even my husband raved about – and to date he “doesn’t like kale”. Well, I guess it was more like he didn’t like when I made kale. So, I decided to peruse the website which these were made from, A Spicy Perspective. As I did this I became addicted and found about a dozen meals that I wanted to make for dinner right then and there.

Today, a friend introduced me to Popsugar, where I’ve been addicted to reading the latest and greatest on entertainment news, mom stuff, food, etc. I became addicted to this quickly too and downloaded the iPhone app.

So, this post is to do nothing more than rave and share these new favorite sites with you. But, after all look at some of these recipes from both sites and tell me you don’t want to go check out more?! Yup, I didn’t think you could… Now I have to run off and read all about Kate Middleton and the royal baby!

Quinoa Burrito Bites

Best Homemade Waffles - Yogurt Vanilla Bean Waffles #breakfast #waffles #giveaway

Yogurt & Vanilla Bean Waffles

One great, one not so great, product

Browsing through Sephora I decided to ask the rep about their more “natural” products as I knew I needed to replace my beloved Clinique Even Better Moisturizer (which I must say that I LOVE!) solely due to baby and my not being able to use the active ingredient. I have been using Coconut Oil, which is great for a moisturizer, but unfortunately if it gets near my mascara it makes it smudge too easily. So, the venture for a new lotion was started.

Call me skeptical, a pain in the butt, whatever you want but I grabbed a few samples based on the rep’s advice and then researched them. The one I ended up thinking would be the best to try was Caudalie Vinosource Moisturizing Mattifying Fluid:

Caudalie - Vinosource Moisturizing Matifying Fluid -  Grape water, Flax powder & Grape-seed polyphenols

This stuff uses Organic Grape Water…which apparently is filtered rain water which then goes through the grape plant. It supposedly decreases skin sensitivity and improves hydration. I don’t know if this is true, nor do I really care, because the lotion is great. It’s not a heavy winter moisturizer at all but it’s great for skin that is a little dry or tight but not flaking or cracking. I haven’t broken out at all, I don’t get shiny and it smells great and spreads super easy like water (go figure). I typically use this during the day, then the coconut oil at night (if needed).

On the flip side, I found one product that I will recommend you stay away from if you use makeup. Avalon Organics Vitamin C Renewal Cleansing Milk seemed like a great idea. It’s a milk, which is usually more moisturizing, it smelled fantastic (I have a thing for citrus smells!) and it was organic and inexpensive.

I will start by saying this is gentle, smells great and does leave your skin more moisturized than a lot of cleansers I’ve used. But, this doesn’t take off makeup very well at all. Each night I end up with raccoon eyes and I get my towel marked with mascara and then need a tissue to wipe the circles off of my face. Product fail. Maybe that’s the trade off for it’s benefits but I’ll finish this up as a morning cleanser in the shower and will continue on my search for a new cleanser…after I scold Target for discontinuing to carry my favorite facial wash. And fantastik. The nerve…

 

Winter style blues

In the last 7 months of pregnancy I’ve missed a few things – sushi, wine and shopping. But, I think most of all, shopping and fashion. Yes, maternity clothes have come a long way and can be cute but lets admit it, the variety will never rival my pre-prego closet. And while I’ve tried to fulfill my desire to shop with updating costume jewelry, handbags and shoes, it’s just not the same.

If you follow me on Pinterest you may be aware, I haven’t pinned anything maternity, but I have plugged on pinning clothes for post baby :) Yes, some may not be realistic right away but here are some of my favorite style pins from the past few months.

I can’t wait to get back into real clothes! I also can’t wait to get into a bathing suite – yes, bathing suit. Although this summer I think I may opt for a one-piece!

heather, mint, gold

cozy day inside

Jeans & Lace

winter

comfy  cute...over leggings with boots

so pretty

Adorable black lace swimsuit

 

Checklist Challenge Recap and lessons learned

Finding time to do the items on a ‘to do’ list can be a challenge in it’s own. The list I set out to accomplish earlier last year has had it’s up’s and down’s. Here’s a recap on the projects, the progress made, challenges encountered and most importantly…lessons learned for the pending 2014 list!

List of success!

1. Make a shower curtain to fit my very odd sized shower.

This fell to the bottom of my list as the bathroom wasn’t painted and I lost those pesky sewing machine instructions. I eventually ended up making this and it was quite easy! Accomplishing this did require me to take a day out of work, but it was worth it. I felt like I not only accomplished something, but also learned!! Now you’re probably asking what I could have learned from making a shower curtain? I learned to plan a project every other month that required the sewing machine. This will eliminate the stupid mistakes and reduce my project frustration!

2. Paint the master suite. All of it – bedroom, walk in closer/sewing room, bathroom and hallway.

Yeha, we went from yellow sponge paint and a pinkish brown wall to a serene gray palate. I was worried that gray was going to be blah, but I learned to accessorize for color, which conveniently is a very easy and cheap change to make when I get off of my aqua whim and move onto something else…

5. Make a beautiful twist/braided pearl necklace for summer.

OK, I did this but I didn’t realize how hard it was going to be. I thought you threaded a few strands, attached those to the clasp and poof, necklace! This required measuring strands for the beads, determining how many beads were needed for each strand based on the mm size of the bead, and then getting my husband to help me do the “twist” part to put it all together. In the end, I didn’t any $ and definitely did not save any time!

6. Read more blogs, a newspaper or watch the news for at least an hour during the week and an hour on the weekends.

Ding ding ding, I accomplished this one! Making a conscious effort to get home earlier I get to turn the news on. I have discovered that the news repeats over and over and over again though. Boring. But thanks for all my fellow bloggers, I’ve had a delightful time reading blogs this year!

7. Building myself a shoe closet.

My husband bought a saw and I came home to a shoe closet ! Yes, it still needs to be painted but at least I’ve got shelves!

9. Create some sort of a picture or piece of wall art for the dining room.

Hm, we didn’t do this but we did get a huge Dell’s Lemonade canvas for the kitchen. That wasn’t anticipated but extremely needed so I’m going to allow for the swap :) Plus, my in-laws bought us a pretty cool fish sculpture so that filled the need!

10. Create a “regular post” of something.

I did this with my bedroom makeover but unfortunately the challenge I picked I found not to work at all. I did learn that I just need to plan out my projects and spend some time at home to accomplish them. Home sweet home!

List of ‘I didn’t do so well’:

3. Make a piece of clothing for myself.

Well, this didn’t happen. I did hem/fix a bunch of clothes that I already own though, so now I can actually wear them. Maybe in 2014 I’ll aim to make something for baby!

4. Gut and design a new half bath/laundry area.

Designed yes, started the project, no. I realized that projects involve a lot of think ahead planning and coordination! I never realized you had to order sinks and toilets 6-8 weeks before the contractor needed them! But… item’s are ordered and on their way, so that’s a plus!

8. Make pillows for the living room.

Um, no. I actually found some really cool ones at Home Goods so I’m crossing this off the list!

11. Make curtains for the living room.

OK we haven’t gotten to the living room yet. It needs paint first, but my husband insists this is after the baby’s room is done so we’re looking at late 2014, hah!

12. Make curtains for the office.

See #11.

13. Redo the guest room.

In progress. As I learned with the bedroom makeover, plan plan plan. Step 1: Convince hubby as to what needs to go to the donation center! (done). Step 2: Somehow convince husband to paint the room when he paints the baby’s room. Hm…

so my biggest takeaway from 2013 is to make realistic projects and plans, plans, plans! Also, take more pictures and be better at posting updates. Maybe the posting of 2013 projects will be a 2015 goal!

A whole new batch of January product reviews!

Why is it that you always want what you can’t have? These past few months have been interesting. Being a first time mommy-to-be but no one else knowing, it’s been hard to switch products or try new products without letting on. It’s also been interesting trying to find ‘healthy’ product options and giving up tried, true and oh so loved products that I’ve used for years! But, I will admit sometime nature needs to take a backseat for happiness…so not all these are ‘healthy’!

Maybelline Soft and Full Waterproof Mascara

This past Thanksgiving, I found myself laying down at my in-laws thinking of my pending trip to the Bahamas. At that moment I realized I didn’t have waterproof mascara thanks to the failure of a ‘waterproof’ mascara I tried when I went to St. Lucia. So, I began googling. I then began pulling up website recommendations on Amazon to read buyer reviews. I settled on a few, depending on what Target had in stock. I bought the Maybelline Soft and Full Waterproof Mascara.

Having used the regular version of this in the past, I knew I liked the product just didn’t love it. But as long as it was waterproof and I wouldn’t look tired on my entire vacation, I was game. I bought it the next day. Fast forward a few days and I was in the Bahamas, contemplating if I should wear it on a snorkel/swim catamaran trip. I tried it on, washed my face, rubbed my eyes. So far so good. I decided to try it, but tell my husband he had to tell me if I looked like raccoon eyes! I put on oil free sunscreen, swam, rubbed my eyes, etc. It never budged. In fact, the only time I had mini-raccoon eyes was after washing it off with soap, which a second application of soap fixed. Verdict? Great buy!

Price: $5-8 depending on store

Look: Mainly darkening. It didn’t add much length but with the fat brush it did reach all of my lashes! I only found this in Black, but I didn’t find it to be harsh.

Performance: Really good. Lasted through swimming, needed a double soap application to remove. Left lashes soft.

Overall: I will use this as my summertime mascara when going to the beach.

Palmers Body Butter

After I told people I was expecting, I received a lot of comments about stretch marks. Now, I’ve read that they’re hereditary so no cream will really save you but I a) didn’t want to take a chance and b) was experiencing the New England beginning of winter itchy, dry and tight skin. So, I bought the butter. I slather this stuff on like it’s going out of style, but it lasts a long time.

Price: $6 for the 3.5oz jar

Feel: In the jar, this is tough to get out…especially the first ‘scoop’. It’s a solid (not a cream) and very thick. It requires you to scoop some into your hands and then rub your hands to melt it. Once on your body it creates a very silky, almost oily look. It’s smooth as butta ;)

Performance: Works so well to keep your skin hydrated. I could get away with applying once a day, but I love it too much that I do morning and evening. Instantly your skin feels hydrated and soft, even if before you applied the butter it felt like alligator skin. If I could I would melt this and take a bath in it. Seriously.

Overall: Love it for a moisturizing agent, not just for pregnancy. It does smell like a burnt coconut which I have a love/hate relationship with (love coconuts, hate burnt) but it works so well and the scent isn’t overpowering that I just don’t care. I’ll buy this again and again…especially now that they have a paraben free one (works just as well, I have that too)!

Shea Moisture Body Wash: Olive & Green Tea

Price: $8.99 for the 13oz size at Target

Consistency: A liquidy gel and yes, it really is a green/yellow color, very similar to olive oil color!

Performance: This stuff suds up like a kids bubble bath! I drizzle it over my body pouf similar to how they drizzle caramel sauce on top of my Starbucks latte and it’s plenty for a shower! It’s very light feeling and the suds wash off very easily. It really does seem to be hydrating though, which I noticed after using a while that one of the first ingredients is coconut related – and you may know how I back coconuts!

Smell: This is a very mild smelling product. It doesn’t smell like olive, green tea or avocados, it actually doesn’t have much of a smell at all. This is the only dislike I really have for the product as I really love a great fresh smell in the morning.

Overall: Really good product. It’s natural (woohoo!) and works really well from lathering to cleaning/hydrating and it’s cheaper than many other natural products. I wish the smell was a little more fresh (maybe more green tea?) but in no way shape or form will that keep me from buying another bottle! It will replace my Cetaphil bar (sorry Cetaphil, I loved you as a winter soap for a couple years but this is natural!).

Maybelline: Color show #300 (Fuchsia Fever)
Price: $4.29 from CVS
Color: The color in the bottle is great. It looks glossy and is a bright purple. I was excited to try this as a fall/winter/early spring color.
Performance: Awful. I didn’t expect a flat color. I want to know where the shine went as soon as I put it on my nails?! Also, the color isn’t incredibly thick so it takes a couple of coats. I would have been OK with the extra coats if there was a shine to the product.
Misc: This is formaldehyde, DBP and Toluene free.

Overall: Extremely disappointed. I haven’t used this again and won’t buy another in any other colors. While I love that it’s formaldehyde, dbp and toluene free I can’t get past the horrible lack of a sheen in the finish or the fact that it was so thin.

NOW…I know I already did a post on Coconut Oil, BUT, I keep falling in love with this product more and more so I have to mention it again.

I’m truly amazed by this product. Yes, it started as a search for a facial moisturizer but it quickly amounted to more. The hydrating powers of this stuff is amazing, really. I got pneumonia a week or so ago and could barely stand up so a lot of things were pushed by the wayside. I continued to use the coconut oil on my face but that was all I could muster the energy for. Two days ago my hands were red and scaly, like a poor fish fin. I finally sucked it up enough to get to the bathroom and get the oil. One application overnight and no more redness. Another application this morning and boom, almost back to normal. I’ve also noticed (because there’s not much else to do when you lay in bed 24 hours a day) that my nails are in the best shape ever, including cuticles. My husband even comments on how soft my skin is… a first in the 6 years I’ve known him (and at my oldest!). I don’t understand the magic of this stuff but love it. And if you google it you can even read on WedMD or other websites the many different uses such as diaper rashes, for your hair, psoriasis, mouth cleanser, etc.