Sunday, June 29, 2014

Walgreens Ology Laundry Detergent

**Disclaimer: I received this product for free from the sponsor of the Moms Meet program, May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms Meet blogger, I agreed to use this product and post my opinion on my blog. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of May Media Group LLC. or the manufacturer of the product.

Being a married mother of three, I do a lot of laundry. And I have to say that I've gotten über particular about my laundry detergents over the years. It used to be that just anything would do. But now, I need something that is not only made for all types of clothing (delicates & regular washings), but something that actually works too. All while being free of toxic chemicals of course.

*sample size

I love this Ology 2X Laundry Liquid so much, that I'm going to be making an extra trip to Walgreens this week to pick up more. Yep, Walgreens! 

Ology is a line of household paper, cleaning & personal care products that are free of harmful chemicals (& 100% tree free) that was created by Walgreens.

The Ology 2X Laundry Liquid fights tough stains just as good as the others! I used this on everything from the hubs work clothes (yuck!), to the kids clothes after they were outside playing in the mud & everything came out clean. They even felt clean too! Minus the residue that other laundry detergents can sometimes leave behind (one of the main reasons for my über particular-ness).

Available in Free & Clear and Spring Lavender & Vanilla scents, Ology 2X Laundry Liquid is made to use in both HE & regular washing machines.

Fun fact: Ology Laundry Liquid is bottled in 100% post-consumer materials.

 It's also endorsed by Healthy Child Healthy World & lacks the following harmful chemicals: ammonia, chlorine bleach, DEA (diethanolamine), TEA (triethanolamine), parabens, phthalates, formaldehyde, nonylphenol ethoxylates, triclosan, and SLS/SLES. 

And I should probably mention that it retails for only $6.79! (50 fl.oz./33 loads)

Keep up with the latest from Walgreens on Facebook, Twitter & Google+ and Ology on Facebook.

Moms Meet is an online resource that empowers moms to come together in an informal setting and talk about the latest on raising healthy families and living green. Moms Meet offers exciting opportunities for Mom Ambassadors and their groups to sample the latest healthy, green products. Sign up today! 

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Simple Sunday: Crayons

I spent the entire day cleaning (I know you're jealous). But in the process I found about a hundred pieces of broken crayons. So when the rain started to pour, we upcycled them into gingerbread men crayons! Find out how simple it is HERE.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Work It Wednesday: Get to the Barre

When I was a little girl, I dreamed of becoming a ballerina. Actually, I'm pretty sure I was one for Halloween my kindergarten year. But somewhere along the line, that fantasy vanished. Until now. Of course I'll never be on stage doing pirouettes, but I can unleash my inner ballerina at home.

Photo credit: Living Lou

Don't be fooled by a barre workout, it's not all pliés & pirouettes. It's an intense low impact workout that focuses on your "seat", while helping to build your core. Toning your muscles, increasing your flexibility & improving your posture are all just the icing on the cake so to speak. 

I happened to find quite a few barre workouts on FitSugar (PopSugar's fitness site). A good one on Shape (this was actually the workout that I started with). And a killer Cardio Barre: Lower Body Shred workout that I will do - someday. 

Photo credit: BlackBird Ithaca

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Tasty Tuesday: Grecian Style Chicken

Have you ever gotten the craving for feta cheese? Well, I did. Of course eating it straight out of the container is a feat I have yet to conquer. So I did the next best thing, I made chicken! 

*Note: this is extra yummy with homemade pita bread.

print recipe

Grecian Style Chicken
  • boneless skinless chicken breast halves
  • Greek vinaigrette salad dressing, such as Kraft
  • feta cheese
  • fresh lemon juice
  • dried oregano
  • ground black pepper
  • sea salt
  • lemon wedges, for garnish
Please use desired amounts.In a large resealable plastic bag, combine chicken with vinaigrette. Allow to marinate in the refrigerator for at least an hour. After placing the chicken in the refrigerator to marinate, combine the feta cheese with fresh lemon juice, oregano, black pepper & sea salt. Place in a sealed container & also place in the refrigerator to marinate for at least an hour. After the chicken & feta cheese has marinated for the desired length of time, cook the chicken until it is no longer pink. (I prefer to grill it, but you can also saute or bake it if you'd like.)To serve, top the chicken with the marinated feta cheese & an additional lemon wedge.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield:

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Simple Sunday: Nature Trail

I finally took the time to go down the little nature trail in my town. It isn't very long at all, but it is so peaceful.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Snacktastic Saturday: Chunky Monkey "Ice Cream"

I have a huge weakness in the summer months. Well, all year round actually. Ice cream. Give me a spoon & I can kill a pint in about 5 min. or less. So obviously, I had to find a healthier alternative before legally changing my name to Benandjerry.

print recipe

Chunky Monkey "Ice Cream"
  • 2 frozen bananas
  • 1-2Tbsp. walnut butter, or any other kind of desired nut butter
  • 2-3Tbsp. mini chocolate chips
Allow frozen bananas to thaw for roughly 10-15 min. This allows them to be just soft enough to easily work with. Using a Yonanas machine or a food processor, carefully pulse bananas until the consistency of soft serve ice cream. Add desired amount of walnut butter & mini chocolate chips. Stir to combine.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Make Your Own Vanilla Extract with Beanilla

**Disclaimer: I have received products to try from Beanilla & am simply sharing my personal opinion which may vary from yours. I was not compensated for this review.

Years ago, my in-laws went on vacation to the Dominican Republic & brought me back a huge bottle of imported vanilla. Twice actually. It was an eye opener of sorts, to taste real vanilla. Not the extract that I was so used to. Unfortunately, I ran out quite a while ago & they haven't been back to vacation since. Which meant that I had to get re-accustomed to the average vanilla. I mean, sure, it's okay for some things...just not everything. 

Look at how long those beans are!

 Thanks to the folks at Beanilla, I'm now able to enjoy real vanilla again. Actually, I got to make it with their Homemade Vanilla Extract Infusion Kit! And the process was so incredibly simple, that it's almost mind blowing at how good it tastes. 

Bonus points for having the best directions ever!

All I needed to be on my way was 1 cup of vodka, rum or some other kind of straight alcohol. I was giddy as a schoolgirl when I realized I still had a bit of rum left. Not much, but more than I needed to be on my way to vanilla bliss. 

The kit included seven beans!

I opted for the extremely bold Tonga Vanilla Beans. These beans are on the rare side & are pronounced with a very unique aroma and flavor profile. Somehow I knew that they would be a perfect fit for my tastes. I just didn't expect them to be so huge! I knew right away that I would have to cut the beans up in order for them to fit into the swingtop bottle with the rum. 

Check out this photo on Instagram!

Lastly, all I needed was time. I swear it felt like the longest 8 weeks ever! Especially when I pulled the bottle out of my cupboard to shake once or twice a week. Which I may or may not have actually busted out singing & dancing to "Rock Lobster". 

Introducing the Beanilla Frapp!

Check out that vanilla! Of course I had to do a side by side comparison when it came to baking cookies. Beanilla won. Then I had to make some french toast with it. Yep, it won again. Then I decided to go out of my way & make several recipes that I had been meaning to make for a while, like bread pudding & some homemade vanilla pudding. Delicious! But then I decided to get a bit creative & make something of my own. The result was a Beanilla Frapp that was perfect for the almost summer heat. Let me mention that I am not a vanilla fan when it comes to my coffee. I will turn my nose up at the thought of it. But with this vanilla, the vanilla that I made, I just can't get enough!

Beanilla Frapp
•2 scoops of vanilla ice cream
•6-7 frozen coffee cubes
•generous splash of Beanilla vanilla
•sugar, if desired

-In a blender, combine ice cream, coffee cubes, Beanilla vanilla & desired amount of milk. If desired, you can add a bit of sugar for an added sweetness. 
-Blend to desired consistency.

Beanilla offers a variety of vanilla beans, glass bottles & jars, extracts & flavors, and saffron.

Keep up with the latest from Beanilla on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest & Google+.

Fun Friday: Painted Tin Cans

Have you ever upcycled? You know, when you take what would be something useless & give it a new life with a new purpose? I know quite a few people think that just the concept sounds too daunting. But it is surprisingly easy & fun! 

Tin cans come in a variety of sizes & can be useful even after they've been opened. I decided to paint them bright, fun colors for summer (Bubble Gum Pink, Spring Green & Pool Blue). All I needed after that was a little embellishment with ribbon or twine. 

I love the way the colors pop between the Pool Blue of the can & the bright orange of the Tiger Lily!

For a thorough coating, take a piece of sandpaper to scuff up the tin can a bit. Doing this will give the paint more of a surface to adhere to. Then just give it a couple of coats & top it off with a sealer before adding any embellishments with hot glue. 

What's great is that you can use these painted tin cans for quite a few things; like a vase, utensil holder, pen holder & even for potted plants. Just remember that the opening can still be sharp, unless you decide to sand that sown too of course.

Whiplash Eyelash Curler by Crave Naturals

**Disclaimer: I have received products to try from Crave Naturals & am simply sharing my personal opinion which may vary from yours. I was not compensated for this review.

Just the other week, I was staring at my little boy in amazement of his eyelashes. They are long & have just the right amount of curl to make me jealous. Yep, jealous of a 4-year old over his eyelashes. I mean, really, I have to go to great lengths to get my lashes looking half as good. Okay, not really great lengths, but at least some bit of effort. But the only issue I have, is that I don't like to wear mascara in the summer. I don't know why, it's just always been a "thing" for me. On occasion I'll break my habit, but only if I'm going out for the night. But I do curl my eyelashes. Or at least I thought I did. Apparently all this time I was just torturing myself to get semi-decent results.

Can I just say that I love this packaging?!

 This Whiplash Eyelash Curler from Crave Naturals is amazing! It has an ergonomic handle that actually helps grab your lashes at the root, giving you fully lifted & curled results with total control. The best part though, is that there is no pinching or pulling & it fits every eye shape. 

Aside from the Whiplash Eyelash Curler itself, inside the box there were also 10 lash cushions. You can see in the picture above, that the cushions themselves are actually quite rounded. This helps to give your lashes more of a curl, than an upward crimp. Actually, up to 80% more of a curl! 

But probably the most thoughtful design on the Whiplash Eyelash Curler, is the latch closure. This helps to protect the curler & lash cushion when you're traveling, or even when it's just tossed into your makeup bag. I can't tell you how many times I've lost the cushions to my old eyelash curler just from tossing them in my makeup container when I was done with them. (Too many to count!)

Photo credit: Crave Naturals

Curling your lashes is beyond easy! Start with clean, mascara-free lashes. Curling after applying mascara will sometimes cause your lashes to stick to the curler & come out. Therefore, completely defeating the purpose if you ask me. (If you want to, you can quickly heat up the curler with a hair dryer, although not necessary.) Lift the curler to your eyelid, closest to the roots of your lashes, & gently squeeze the handle together with your thumb & finger. Hold the curler in place for 5-10 seconds before releasing, take a look & repeat until you have the desired amount of curl. Then just apply mascara if you'd like, for a more voluminous lash. 

You should probably know too, that the curl actually lasts! Which is even better for my lack of mascara use in the summer months. It's so nice to still look like I have eyelashes! 

The Whiplash Eyelash Curler is available on Crave Naturals & Amazon (with Prime shipping available).

Keep up with the latest from Crave Naturals on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ & Tumblr.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Think It Thursday: 15 Ways to Keep Your Kids Busy on a Budget this Summer

Keeping your kids busy during summer break can be one of the most difficult things ever. I mean, sure, if you happen to have endless pockets, they can do whatever their little hearts desire (within means of course). But if you're like me, you can only spring for their hearts content once or twice (especially with three kids). But that doesn't mean that there's no fun to be had! There are a gazillion different things your kids can do this summer that won't break your bank. 

•Summer Reading Programs are running rampant at the local libraries. And if by chance your local library doesn't have one, you can always make your own. Just be sure that the reward is suitable, like dinner out or an extra hour of outdoor play. 

•VBS (Vacation Bible School) is a popular activity during the summer months whether you belong to a church or not. They usually last 4 days & have fun filled activities for a couple of hours each day. Like I said, even if you don't belong to the particular church, it's a great way for you & your kids to meet new people & have fun at the same time.

•Summer picnics at the park is technically two things since you have to go to the park first (& play of course!). But for some reason, it's more adventuresome than just picnicking in your backyard. Just be sure to bring everything you need, including a comfy blanket to sit on. 

•There are so many arts & crafts that are perfect for summer! You can make chalk murals on the sidewalks, build birdhouses from popsicle sticks & tons more. Just do a quick Google search, or take a look-see on Pinterest, to find ones that suit your child & budget.

•Movie time! If you have a local drive-in, they usually offer a 2-for-1 showing & are much cheaper than a traditional movie theater. But if you only have a traditional theater, be sure you check out their matinee showings. They're usually less crowded & cost a few bucks less per person. Some may even offer the occasional free showing, you'll just have to check for details on what they have to offer.

•Camp out under the stars! In your backyard if you prefer. That way you won't need much at all. Just a tent, some sleeping bags & a few flashlights. Oh & bug repellent of some kind - never forget the bug repellent. The nice part is that you still have access to running water, a toilet & warm food just a few yards away from your pillow. And if you decide that camping out is just no fun at all, it's no big deal to just go sleep in your bed. 

•Gardening is great for kids. Not only do they learn about how things grow, but they are so proud when they do all the work themselves & see what they end up with. If you don't have much room for a garden, just pick up a decent sized window box for your kids to plant in. This is extra fun since they can get some paints to decorate it too.

•Swimming is just synonymous with summer. It's a great way to stay active, all while cooling down. Of course if you happen to go to a water park daily, it can take a toll on your wallet. If you don't have access to a pool everyday, just bust out the hose & play in the water (it still counts). But if you're really adventurous, check out any local canoe liveries & go canoeing.

•Where I live, there always seems to be an outdoor concert of some kind nearby. The music may not be your style (or even close to it), but if you're the dancing type, it can be a lot of fun. I remember being at a campground with my mom when I was little & they had a bluegrass band. You better believe I hopped right in there & started jumping around & shaking like everyone else! One of my favorite memories ever! 

•My favorite, have a party! You don't need any specific reason to get a bunch of friends over during the summer for a good cookout. And you can even ask them all to bring a covered dish or their own drinks to help keep your cost down. But the main objective is simple, just have fun!  

•My oldest wants to have a lemonade stand so bad this year! And I'm pretty sure that I'll happily oblige. Keeping it simple is easy, a card table, tablecloth, some homemade lemonade & cups. This is also a great lesson for kids to learn about money & the economy. 

•Be one with nature & go on a hike. Even better if there happens to be a fishing hole nearby, or a creek to splash around in.

•It's July! July 25th (or the weekend closest to it) is perfect for Christmas in July. Decorations are easy - keep them patriotic from the 4th. A simple cookout will suffice. & instead of going crazy on gifts, have all of your guests bring a food donation for the local food pantry. Not only is this just a fun excuse to get together, but it teaches kids a valuable lesson about giving to those who need it. 

•Farmer's Markets & roadside produce stands are just about everywhere during the summer. If you happen to have a picky eater, this is great way to get them to try more fruits & vegetables. After all, they helped pick them out. Kids can also learn lessons about money & budgeting, making it more beneficial than they realize. But if you really want more of a hands on approach, look into local berry picking available during the peak seasons. 

•Going on a tour is a really neat way to learn more about something. And most of the time, local companies will gladly oblige - especially the fire stations. You can even check into any local businesses that produce goods, or a local restaurant. You may have to purchase a product, but it will be a far more memorable experience. Especially if you already purchase the products anyways.


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Work It Wednesday: Must Have Summer Accessories

Summer is almost officially here, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't feel like it in some places. Which means it's time to get the most out of your summer wardrobe that most likely consists of shorts, tanks, swimsuits & the occasional summer dress. But let's not forget our summer accessories that easily take even the simplest of outfits (like my fave staple of a white tank & denim shorts) from day to night in no time. All while staying cool of course.

•A great pair of sandals can easily change the look of any outfit! I am in love with these braided brown sandals I picked up last year. They have to be the most comfortable pair I've had in a long time. 

•A sock bun is my go to hair accessory in the summer. With long locks, I like to keep my hair pulled up & a sock bun is the only way I can keep from having to fix my hair every 20 min. Plus it gets bonus points for keeping place during my workouts.

•A silk scarf has to be my newest favorite way to accessorize. It's not an infinity scarf & is much too small to actually tie anywhere - except around my sock bun! 

•A statement necklace (this owl is my favorite) is a great way to accessorize when you're wearing a plain colored top - like my beloved white tank & denim combo. 

•Stud earrings are downright marvelous! (Especially when they happen to be jeweled skulls with pink bows.) Regardless, stud earrings are a definite necessity for any pierced ear. 

•Elastic hair ribbons are not only the perfect way to pull your hair back (they're the most "hair friendly" band out there), but they can also double up as a bracelet when they're not in your tresses. Win, win? I think so!

•Sunglasses! These are my faves that I happened to pick up at Target of all places. Kelsey from Real Reviews by Savvy K happens to be more partial to her Betsey Johnson shades. (P.S. - Sunglasses are the #1 summer accessory amongst my friends. Shocker, I know.)

•Bags, bags & more bags! Emily from Freelance Lady doesn't leave the house without her beach bag (which just so happens to double as a diaper bag). Where as Jacqui from Love. Life. Laughter. Happily Ever After is a Thirty-One girl at heart (not to mention a consultant).

What is your must have summer accessory?

Monday, June 16, 2014

Simple Sunday: Happy Father's Day!

From our family to yours, Happy Father's Day! 
(Even if it is a day late by now.)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Tasty Tuesday: Cheesy Broccoli Noodle Soup

I know, I know. You think I'm crazy for talking about soup in June. Well, in my defense, no one ever said I wasn't crazy & this is some really really good soup. 

•1 Tbsp. butter
•1/3C. chopped onion
•3C. chicken broth
•8 oz. thin egg noodles
•1/2tsp. salt
•1-10oz. pkg. frozen broccoli
•garlic powder
•3C. milk
•1/2lb. Velveeta

*You can double the amount of noodles if desired. Simply increase the broth & milk to 4½-5C. each.

- Saute onion in butter. 
- Add the broth & bring to a boil. 
- Add the noodles & cook until al dente.
- Add the broccoli & desired amount of garlic powder (a couple shakes should be good). Cook for 6 min. 
- Lastly, add the milk & Velveeta. Cook on low heat until Velveeta has melted through. 
- Season with salt & pepper.


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The #1 Yoga Mat Cleaner Spray Cleanse with Organic Lavender Essential Oil & Citrus

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial. 

My yoga mat is actually a yoga mat/towel combo. I love it since I have sweaty feet & hands (TMI, sorry) & it helps me keep my grip better during poses. So, as you can imagine, it tends to smell a bit funky in less time than the traditional yoga mat. But here's the problem...I mean to wash my mat, then I get sidetracked for a few more hours, then I do more yoga (it's my afternoon stress relief) & get sidetracked again until I completely forget about it. Of course I remember in the morning on that first downward dog! 

This Cleansing Yoga Mat Spray from Yoginiology smells amazing with its blend of orange infused with lavender oil! But it also disinfects my mat, removing dirt & sweat.

I'll admit that I was a bit hesitant to use this on my mat at first for the simple fact that it is a mat/towel combo. But not only was this spray super simple to use, it lets me clean my mat every day. (Hooray for no stinky downward dog in the morning!) All I did was spritz a bit onto a damp microfiber cloth, wipe my mat down & let it air dry. There's no sticky residue left & it doesn't effect my grip. 

I can't say enough how much I adore this Cleansing Yoga Mat Spray. I love having a clean mat every day, without having to go through the hassle of cleaning it in my bathtub & then waiting for what seems like forever to let it dry. Actually, it helps me look forward to my morning yoga. After all, there's nothing worse than a good morning whiff of a sweaty yoga mat when you're doing downward dog! 

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Monday, June 2, 2014

ReSqueeze Giveaway Winner!

 Our winner has been chosen, congrats to Ashley O.! 

Work It Wednesday: Summer Beauty Must Haves

Admit it, ladies, there are a few beauty products that you would die without in the summertime. OK, so you wouldn't actually die, but you definitely wouldn't know how to go about your day with anything else. These are the products that make it possible for you to have that wash & go beauty regime. You know, the ones that make it look like you took way more time to get ready than you did. (I'm a 5 min. gal myself.)

Of course there's a handful or two of products that I use daily in the summertime, but I narrowed it down to my top three...

I am a huge fan of BB Cream. It allows me to ditch foundation & just use a bit of concealer & loose powder where it's needed. But the Olay Fresh Effects {BB CREAM} is by far my favorite! It goes on light, doesn't feel like its clogging up your pores & has a light fresh scent that practically screams summer.

Shea Spray from Hamadi Organics is my go to for those carefree summer days outside. Not only does it help keep frizz in check (thanks humid Ohio summers!), but the Shea is a naturally occurring sunscreen which helps to protect your tresses from sun damage. 

I'll admit it, I wash my hair far less in the summer. Mostly because it's long & usually gets pulled up anyways. But on occasion I don't wash it because I just simply don't have time to. (Whoever called them the lazy days of summer obviously didn't have kids.) So what's a girl to do when her hair is in desperate need of a wash? Dry shampoo! But Batiste Dry Shampoo with their assortment of fun scents are definitely my favorite!

Chrissy from Chrissy's Beauty and Product Reviews 

Cetaphil moisturizer comes in 3 different kinds. Great to put on before you go out under your makeup and feels so refreshing!

 E.L.F. All over cover stick. Comes in 6 shades and only costs $1! It adds a little color to wherever you want it on your face without applying a lot of makeup when it's so hot out.

I always need to have something done to my eyes and I love the L'orealVoluminous® Million Lashes™ Waterproof Mascara. It doesn't run when you sweat and makes your eyes pop! Available in black and blackest black.

Marilyn from Lagniappe

How many ways might I say I love thee, First Crush? First Crush 3-in-1 Blemish / Acne Treatment is a light formula that cleanses without being greasy, tones while it’s at it, and prevents acne. But wait! There’s more! It also treats breakouts. Just dab a little extra on after cleansing and drying and let First Crush do its thing. *This is by far one of my faves too!

As Adovia Dead Sea Mud Mask dries, it isn’t just nourishing your skin, it’s grabbing hold of dirt and dry flakes. The mask pulls these impurities from your pores leaving you with clear pores and smooth hydrated skin. And If you don’t have time for a full mask, Adovia’s Purifying Mud Mask works great at a spot treatment too.

Belitae Organics Best Vitamin C Serum is so light that it absorbs almost instantly while also hydrating my skin so much that a separate morning moisturizer is unnecessary. I do use a heavier moisturizer at night but with Belitae I can skip that step in my morning routine. My skin is bright, clear and all red dry patches have disappeared. There is no scent to disturb my sinuses, no extra chemicals with unwanted side effects, and it is 98% natural.

Ben Nye Setting Mist/Finishing Spray is amazing! Keeps my make up staying perfect with out sweating off or in the pool.

Secret Clinical Strength Deodorant, Baby Powder & Oil Blotting Powder.

Cyndie from Reviewz & Newz

A swimming pool & a cocktail! Oh & sunscreen.   

Victoria from Beautiful Inspiring Goddess 

 Coconut Oil! (It has sunblock properties.) Warning, it will make you get nice and tanned, but it will help to not burn your body. Since Coconut Oil has a high boiling point it will not let the sun burn your skin. 

Sabrina: A pool!

Chantal: Sunscreen & a big hat.

Tracy: Late afternoon sun to tan and not burn, cocoa butter body lotion, more sun, the beach, more sun and body lotion, eyeliner and mascara. Oh, did I mention the sun? 

Melissa: Neutrogena liquid facial moisturizer....only one I can apply again and again and doesn't get all funky. SPF 50-100 depending on what I can find.

Tina: Non-stinky & non-greasy sunblock.

What are your summer beauty must haves?