Wednesday, September 10, 2014

HURRY!!! FREE: Cloud B Twinkles To Go Octo NightLight!!

disclosure: includes affiliate links
Been on the fence about trying a new subscription box? Not sure if you'll like what's inside?  Well, Citrus Lane has started doing sneak peeks at items in their monthly boxes and their September sneak peek just went live:
Featured are: Cloud B Twinkles to go Octo Nightlight, Tea Collection long-sleeve onesie, Crocodile Creek Firetruck puzzle, Boon Links bath toy appliques, Melissa and Doug Wooden Shape Sorting Clock, and Critters Creativity Can.
Usually there's only one product from each age group posted for the sneak peek, but this month they also did a customization for a few of the age groups so we know one guaranteed item in this month's box and this is a teaser on a second. The Critter Can will be in the 4 year olds, and the Tea Collection onesie will be in the 12-18months, but that's all we know for now :)
Now, where does the Cloud B Twinkles to Go Octo NightLight come in?
As you can see, this night light is $18.95 on Amazon.  If you sign up through this link, you'll get your September Box for $14.50.  Citrus Lane customer service has told us that these night lights will be in the 26month-31month age group (meaning you'll want to set their birthdays around May 2012). 
Buying a September Citrus Lane box with a child's birthday set at May 2012, you'll receive this awesome nightlight for only $14.50. BUT considering there will be three more awesome goodies like this in the box totaling more than the $14.50 price, it'll be like getting this light for free! Or, getting the whole box for free and just buying the night light at super discount, whichever floats your boat ;) Basically, this nightlight is one of 3-4 items and by itself is worth more than the price tag of the box!

Also, it turns out I can't use two Shutterfly Photobook coupons I have.  Since I can't use them I decided to make this deal even greater: I'm giving a FREE Shutterfly PhotoBook Coupon Code to the first TWO people to sign up through the link in this post!!! Please leave the name you signed up with in the comments below so I can verify and email you your codes :)
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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Cleopatra's Choice 100% Organic, Raw Shea Butter Review

DISCLAIMER: I have received one or more product(s) mentioned above to to try; however, all opinions are my own and honest, and are not influenced in any way.  I only recommend products I think are worth sharing with my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC 16 CFR Part 255. 

The holidays are right around the corner, and you know what that means: DIY time!  Even if its not for gifts, it seems like the DIY bath and skincare projects fill your Pinterest and newsfeed from now until January every year.  The most common are bath salts, lotion bars, chapsticks, and body butter, and I personally can't wait to tackle these with some new goodies I have this year: essential oils, organic coconut oil, and Cleopatra's Choice 100% Organic, Raw Shea Butter!

Last year, we made these adorable red and white layered peppermint essential oil bathsalts in milk glass jars, shimmery lotion bars, and rose petal bath bombs for family members and they were all a big hit.  We've run out of the raw shea butter since we use it regularly with our son's severe eczema, so I was excited to discover this new company and their wonderful product!  On this year's DIY checklist, we want to add more projects with shea butter since it was one of our most useful and favorite ingredients.

So, why use Shea Butter? Using Shea Butter has lots of benefits, including:

        - Helps prevent stretch marks due to pregnancy as well as after significant weight loss.

        - Deeply hydrates and moisturizes dry skin, or skin of all types

        - Reduces itching, irritation, and flakiness due to extremely dry patches of skin
        - Helps reduce skin peeling and irritation due to sunburn
        - Helps restore hair's shine and luster
        - Restores elasticity to the skin, and helps reduce the appearance of blemishes and wrinkles
        - Excellent moisturizer for certain skin conditions like Eczema and Psoriasis
        - Reduces dryness and flakiness of scalp and hair
        - Helps reduce the symptoms of various skin rashes
        - Dramatically softens tough and cracked skin on hands and feet 

We received a 1lb tub to review, and it'll last us throughout the winter season.  I must make a confession: I adore the 'shea butter' fragranced lotions and bodycare items in stores.  I know they're filled with chemicals and the fragrances have little true ingredients in them, but I just love the smell.  The first thing I did when receiving the tub was take off the lid to take a big whiff.  Well, let's just say it wasn't what I was expecting! I was mortified. The 'Shea Butter' in stores I loved so much was all a lie. Like, a bigger lie than I was expecting because I already knew it was a lie. The 100% organic, raw, real shea butter sitting in front of me had a very subtle nutty smell.  A smell common in nature, because it was actually from there. Not that sweet, buttery, warm smell I was familiar with and expecting somewhat.  There was virtually no similarity between the two in terms of fragrance and that was a huge eye-opener!

Next, I dipped my fingers in to see what all the fuss was about.  Its very thick, but would make a beautifully creamy whipped body butter (Christmas gifts??) when paired with other ingredients.  Its a tad on the greasy side, but glides on smoothly and is absorbed quickly.  It reduces the discoloration on our son's legs from his skin problems, but I especially like that it softens the gashes and cracks throughout my hands from psoriasis.  My hands used to be rough and agitate our son's skin as I applied lotion for his own skin problems, but not anymore! Our prescription was always fairly greasy (and problematic when I wanted to open doors haha!) so his has become a nice replacement for the time being.  It doesn't heal the gashes and cracks, but it certainly makes them less inflamed, less abrasive, and less irritated.

A lot of the cheaper DIY items like coconut oil, essential oils, and shea or cocoa butter you can find in craft stores or Amazon are okay for simple skincare items (watch out though, many of the cheap ones will irritate skin with its artificial ingredients, fragrances, or fillers!!), but can't stand alone so to speak.  Its important to invest in the unadulterated, unrefined, highest purity, and no fillers products if you want to see ideal and beautiful results. :)

More about Cleopatra's Choice:

  • #1 RATED SHEA BUTTER ON THE MARKET! 100% Natural and Organic Pure Shea Butter – Made with Hand Selected Finest Nuts of the Shea Tree in Ghana. 1 POUND JAR – Packaged in a Resealable and Recyclable Container for Easy Access and Storage.
  • SHEA BUTTER BENEFITS: Raw Shea Butter has been proven to provide natural relief from symptoms of Very Dry Skin, Psoriasis Dryness and Eczema. Also very popular as a daily moisturizer. Excellent for Stretch Marks from Pregnancy or other reasons. Great to use as a tummy butter for expecting mothers.
  • HOW IT WORKS: Deep Daily Moisturizer for Skin & Hair – Contains Vitamin A, Vitamin E and Vitamin F – Does not clog pores – Highly Moisturizing and Long Lasting – Beneficial for Hair & Skin Health and Beauty.
  • THE COMPANY: Cleopatra’s Choice has been harvesting, importing and producing the finest Raw Shea Butter for over 6 Years. Unlike the recent newcomers to the market we are experts in what makes fine shea butter. Cleopatra’s Choice Shea Butter is Used by Top Skin Care DYI Experts for DYI Soap, DYI Lotions, Body Butter and More.
  • THE GUARANTEE: We are so confident that you will LOVE our Pure Shea Butter we stand by it with a 100% Unconditional Money Back Guarantee. If you don’t feel this is the BEST Shea Butter you have ever tried we will refund your money no questions asked.

You can purchase a 1lb tub of Cleopatra's Choice 100% organic and raw shea butter on Amazon for only $16!

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.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

First Things First and Remembering to Date Your Spouse {Moon Pie Giveaway!}

**Disclosure: I received a promotional item in exchange for this post.  Sponsor is responsible for prize fulfillment and shipment.  See full disclosure below.**

First Things First (FTF) is an award winning not-for-profit organization dedicated to strengthening families in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
FTF is a resource that collaborates with and is supported by a broad cross-section of community organizations, groups and individuals.
FTF accomplishes it mission through meaningful media messaging and skill building classes.
Did you know:
• 24 million children are growing up in homes without their biological fathers.
• Only 30% of divorces are due to infidelity, addiction or abuse, 70% of divorces are due to couples feeling disconnected.
• Couples who manage to devote time specifically to one another at least once a week are markedly more likely to enjoy high-quality relationships and lower divorce rates, compared to couples who do not devote as much couple time to one another.
• Fathers provide unique benefits to their daughters through their active and positive presence from the time of birth all the way through adulthood.

So, what's one way to help your marriage when work, the kids, or everyday stress seems to get the better of you and your attention?

Date your spouse.

Something I've learned over the years of marital bliss is the importance of dating your spouse.  Between a very demanding Buddy Doo that has only ever slept roughly two hours at a time since birth, its hard for me to feel rested and focused at times.  Couple that with a husband who very selflessly works anywhere from 60-80 hour work weeks, out in the elements and in Louisiana's heat and humidity, its very easy to see how there are days we are both just burnt out by the time its just us.  Its important to remember that a strong marriage isn't strong because of mere compatibility, its strong because it overcame the toughest trials and tribulations together.  Those moments when you have to give your all into work, or into your kids in the more demanding first years of their lives, or in other stressful times in life, its important to remember your spouse.  Remember that person you fell in love with, the person you chose to spend the rest of your life with, the person that supports you and makes you a better person.  Yes, working pays bills, and your children do need a significant amount of your time, but finding a balance between it all is the most important.  Let's remember to put first things first.


Each household is only eligible to win One (1) First Things First Moon Pie Prize Pack via blog reviews and giveaways. Only one entrant per mailing address per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you will not be eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.  Giveaway is open to US legal citizens 18 years of age and older, and begins 8/13/2014 at 2pm and ends 8/18/2014 at 11:59pm CST. Void where prohibited.

The prize will be sent via FedEx or USPS. No P.O. Boxes please. Please note that the assets included within this message were delivered to you to promote First Things First. Any actions (including contest and competitions) that you complete with the provided assets are your liability, and should comply with both local and international laws. Also, please remember to disclose that you are working with First Things First, or that First Things First supplied these materials to you if required by local law.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

What Really Happens When You Sign Up for a Subscription Box - Birchbox Edition

**Disclosure: contains affiliate links**
So, we're all pretty much familiar with subscription boxes.  Some are awesome, some not so much, and some are relationships that refuse to quit...i.e. won't stop charging you no matter how much you try.  The promo codes are very tempting, and why wouldn't you trust that blogger's blah blah box review where everything's sugar coated to encourage you to subscribe through their link, giving them so many more boxes for free or shop credit?  Not discrediting all bloggers, there are certainly some who are straightforward.  But, truth be told many more choose to 'glitter fart' (wonderful term coined by the Sir Jamie Grayson of TheBabyGuyNYC) all over their reviews and subscription box shout outs because it benefits them in more ways than one.
I've decided its time to check out these boxes and see what all the fuss is about.  After an absolute horrible experience with both Bluum and Conscious Box (both encouraged by other reviews), I knew I wanted to provide the low down of what happens after you've given your credit card info.  Bluum listened to my criticism and headed my advice and has changed for the better.  Way better.  I would actually recommend them now better.  Conscious Box, negative ghost rider.  Samples were terrible, shipping was terrible, customer service was the absolute worst.  Don't get me started on how many times they've charged me and I had to demand, DEMAND, a refund after I've quit...weeks and months after I quit.
First up: Birchbox
I was referred to Birchbox by my close friend Jossie of My Little Love Note, and it was exactly as I expected.  I honestly signed up simply because I had already filled out a Women's Health mag subscription card and was about to drop it in our mailbox, and she told me Birchbox was including a free year of Women's Health in their July box.  

Cost: $10/month for women's and $20/month for men's
Shipping: Fairly fast! I ordered my July box on July 27th (the cut off date to get the magazine included) and it arrived in my mailbox on August 4th! Just over a week is pretty phenomenal as far as subscription boxes go.
Customer Service:  I only interacted with customer service twice, both through Facebook, and they had my problem solved or question answered at an hour tops.  That gets a five stars from us.  They were sincere, courteous, and not stiff at all.
Box contents:  The box's value was 'there', but I wasn't overly impressed.  If you're looking to sample higher end products, travel a lot, or simply don't get to get out as much as you want and having a variety sent to your door instead works better for you, then Birchbox is right at the same level as other makeup subscription boxes and it'll fit well.  Its not necessarily better, but its not worst either.  At roughly $2.00-2.50/sample, it just wasn't something I would sign up for again.  
I was excited for the lotion and dry shampoo because they fit my purse perfectly, but the body wash samples were very small (even with receiving two, they were disappointingly small, one-use samples) and the eyeliner sample was a joke.  They promoted it as one of the highlights in the bag (and it certainly was, the color was magnificent and the quality, durability, and smudge-ability was exactly what I wanted), but the sample size was so small, so teeny tiny that I almost didn't even get to put it on the other eye.  I found their promotion of it deceiving since it was perceived to be bigger, at least more than one, singular use, and they left a bitter taste in my mouth as a result.  There was also a neat detox product in there that was fun to try, and on a better note I did like how all but the body wash samples were actual bottles or pens with lids.  They can easily be toted around whether while traveling or in your diaper bag or purse.

To give you some sort of scale to reference just how small this sample is: the entire box is just over the size of my hand with fingers together and flat (give an inch on both sides) and smaller than my Kindle Fire.  The dry shampoo that I love, the far left spray, is about the size of my index finger from the knuckle to the tip.  The eyeliner sample is about 3 inches long and the actual sample part of the eyeliner is maybe 2 millimeters. 
Overall: I'd give the box a 4 out of 5 stars solely on the fact that it included the one year of Women's Health magazine that essentially 'paid' for the rest of the box itself.  Without the subscription, I'd rate the box a 3 out of 5 stars.  It contained duplicates from other beauty and makeup subscriptions and was no better or worse than any other we've experienced.  Not a terrible subscription box, but just the same as all the others in its category.  While the box was sturdy and definitely upcycle-worthy, I prefer the bags you can actually use from the Ipsy subscription boxes.
Referrals: Now, something that makes certain boxes a game changer from others have been the credits or bonuses you get from referrals.  This is why many bloggers try to sway you into thinking that even though this month's box was crappy, or it was nothing they cared to use, that the boxes are typically positive experiences and that you'd want to subscribe.  For Birchbox, you get 50 points for every person that subscribes through your link.  100 points = $10, so its easy to see why people are so eager for you to sign up.  They have a great selection of the full-size, higher end products in their store and with only four referrals you can easily find something for you.  Free shipping is only with $50+ orders, but being that most items are $20+ it wouldn't be that difficult to achieve.

Cancellation: Yup.  The big one.  I may not have been overly impressed with the box itself, but the no-catch, no drawn out cat-and-mouse goose chase na-na-na-na-boo-boo-you'll-never-be-able-to-cancel tactics don't exist here.  You just simply click a button...  and your confirmation email is in your box shortly! High-five, Birchbox. High-five.

If you do decide to sign up, feel free to use my link here.  While I wasn't overly impressed, it may fit your lifestyle better. Plus, their customer service is superb.
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