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Showing posts from 2014

Dr. Song Rosehip Oil

I received a complementary bottle of Dr Song Organic Rosehip Oil to try in exchange for a product review. Truly, I've used rosehip oil very little, while reviewing another product several months ago. Oils are mostly my husband's territory as he uses them during and after shaving, so I let him try this one out.

I've come to the conclusion I really don't have a need for rosehip oil, but I'm not going to ding a product just because I don't see much personal value in it.

What I noticed was that Dr Song oil doesn't smell bad (I've tried some stinky rosehip oils), it's definitely moisturizing, and my skin doesn't react badly, so no irritation, which is nice. If you're looking specifically for rosehip, of the few I've tried, Dr. Song would be my preference based on my skin after using it and the smell.

This oil is really potent. Basically, a tiny amount goes a long way. I had a hard time not applying too much because even a drop for me is mor…

Vitamin C serum review

I've been trying a lot of vitamin C serums lately. This one was offered to me by Morea Naturals to try out for free in exchange for a product review. I immediately noticed it's a larger amount of serum than I get from comparably priced serums and it's in a totally opaque bottle, which I honestly don't often find. The serum itself is a bit thicker than the ones I've tried in dropper bottles and it feels like I don't need nearly as much to get the same benefits. Therefore, I get more product and I use less of it. That's enough to convince me to buy it when I run out.


The opaque bottle that Morea Naturals uses makes me happy because skincare ingredients can break down when exposed to light and the pump style makes me more confident that I'm not getting bacteria in the bottle every time I use it, which is kind of how I feel when I use a dropper style product.

It honestly can take a while to see any real benefits from using a vitamin C serum, so I'm no…

Leather Nova cleaner, conditioner, restorer products

I was given the opportunity to try a set of Leather Nova products to try recently. While we don't have a lot of leather products, what we do have is in pretty terrible shape, so I was pretty eager to try out something that might help clean and restore a few things in my house.

My husband's had this big Ikea man-chair for 8 years and it's been through the ringer. We've moved several times, we have cats who scratch furniture, and we've never properly cleaned the leather. We also have a dining seat with leather chairs, and while the big issue there is the cat damage, they could use a good cleaning.

Leather Nova sent three products. I tried all three this week so I could see what each product does. The packaging of each is very similar, so when you're shopping online, make sure you are buying the one you want, whether it's leather cleaner, conditioner & cleaner, or conditioner & restorer.


I first used Leather Nova Leather Cleaner on the big chair. You …

A review comparing the Roomba 581 to the new 870

iRobot provided a significant discount so I could purchase the Roomba 870 for review. The iRobot Roomba 870 is my 4th robot vacuum. The first two were also Roombas, the 530 and 581, and the more recent robot was a Neato XV21. Roomba 530 died a few days out of warranty, but iRobot awesomely sent me a 581, before they were even sold in the United States, as a replacement. The 581 has lasted more than 4 years with one replacement battery. Neato totally konked out after a year, but we aren't keen to replace him with another one.

Basically, I feel like at this point, I know my robot vacuums, so here's what I think of the Roomba 870:

The 870 is much better than the 581 and the 530 before that. The beater bars are almost zero maintenance and the dust bin is way easier to empty. It's a sealed bin, so it picks up a lot more too.

What I'll call "Old Roomba" (581) got fine hairs and dirt particles but the bigger stuff would get pushed around and left in big piles when h…

Jimmy Dean frozen entrees are terrible

With coupons from Jimmy Dean, I bought two Jimmy Dean frozen meals to try, Golden Roasted Turkey and Southwest Style Grilled Chicken, for free. Both had pretty enticing box photos and I know Jimmy Dean is well-known for their meat products, so I figured it had to be at least as palatable as a Stouffer's or Marie Callender's meal.

Reading about a few options on BzzAgent, they actually sounded pretty decent. Imagine a grilled steak bowl with "savory grilled steak, golden potatoes..." or a pulled pork sandwich that's "pulled pork covered in chipotle BBQ sauce on a pretzel bun."

Good marketing, I guess because the reality was so disappointing!

Both meals look pretty lovely on the box, with nice portions of meat and just a touch of sauce for flavor. What's actually in the package is mostly sauce with a little of everything else. With the chicken meal, there was a reasonable amount of meat, but again, so much sauce! I really hate when a frozen meal is ju…

A review of FURREAL FRIENDS®: Get Up & Go-Go, My Walkin' Pup™

Hasbro sent me the FURREAL FRIENDS®: Get Up & Go-Go, My Walkin' Pup™ to review for free. My daughter is almost 5 and has a neighborhood full of friends her age she plays with outside nearly every day. I expected her to drag the toy out each afternoon and share it with all her friends, walking it around the block, pretending to feed it and telling it to sit and stay.

The first time she played with the dog, she quickly figured out how he works, getting him to walk and sit. After I loaded it onto my phone, she also played quite a bit with the FURREAL FRIENDS iPhone app. One neighborhood kid came by and joined the fun, but they quickly began to argue over the dog and sharing issues, which we've never had with her friends before. For a short time, they worked it out with one walking and the other sticking twigs in the dogs mouth like a bone.


I thought the sharing issues meant my daughter wanted more time with her dog, but after that first day, she really hasn't shown any in…

Covering an office chair

I have this old office chair I got on sale several years ago. Honestly, I hate how traditional office chairs look and those that are nicer tend to also be much more expensive or simply too big for little me. So I end up with those rolling task chairs that never hold up or are boring gray or black when I yearn for a pop of color.

This was my task chair. My husband took the back off since I don't really use it, but it was still kind of blah.




This was my task chair. My husband took the back off since I don't really use it, but it was still kind of blah. In my stash, I found a yard of striped home decor fabric, which looked to be more than enough to cover the chair seat.



Now, there are plenty of proper ways to cover or reupholster a chair. My way is not the most durable or neatest, but it's quick!

1. Set the chair upside down on the fabric. Since it was a wavy stripe pattern and I knew I wouldn't get a perfect straight across doing this quickly, I set the chair on the bias…

Upcoming reviews: Roomba, Jimmy Dean, Furreal Friends, & Paula's Choice

This fall, I have some exciting reviews planned! Here are just a few of the interesting products I'll be trying out in September and October:

iRobot Roomba® 870

We are on our second Roomba and it's about 6 years old so it's not terribly efficient anymore. We've also got a Neato, which works just fine but needs a new battery. I hate how loud it is so I can't wait to try out the new Roomba, which has a unique new brush style that makes it WAY easier to clean the robot and their new battery lasts twice as long. Since our first floor is nearly wide open and almost 1500 sq ft, I want to test if it can handle our space without kinking out. Thanks to iRobot for a substantial discount to buy and review the 870!

Paula's Choice Resist C15 Super Booster
You guys probably know I love Paula's Choice. I trust their reviews and expert advice on other brand products and since I also enjoy reviewing C serums, I definitely can't wait to try this one out. Paula's Choice…

Helping butterflies and bringing back the prairie

I live in Minnesota. Those of you who live elsewhere may think of us as cold and snowy, but there's much wonderful green and beautiful parkland to enjoy during the warmer months. Minnesota's prairie is what sold me on moving here, but less than 2% of the native prairie is left! Farming, like in many states, has taken a toll on natural landscapes, as has city expansion and housing developments. In the early 20th century, preserving and restoring the native landscape became a "thing," but it takes far longer to restore than it does to destroy. Farming is necessary and critical to our livelihood, but there are steps that everyone can take to help the environment and keep certain species from becoming extinct.

We have a tiny plot of land that is mostly house with a steep hill and tiny front yard. When we bought the house, there were a few simple plants, but most weren't a good fit for their location and either died off or aren't thriving. We need to do a good dea…

Best stylist in Southern Minnesota

Ok, so I didn't take a survey to find out who is the best stylist, but I've certainly been to several and with really difficult hair to style, when I find someone awesome, I stay loyal. Since moving to Rochester and finding Kristan I haven't been anywhere else. She always gets my hair smooth and healthy, understands the craziness that is my texture and thickness, and suggests products without being pushy.


A year ago, I started taking Penny to have her hair done by Kristan because it's rather thick for a kid her age and most cuts we would get at the chain salons looked kind of blah or inappropriate for her face shape. Kristan gives Penny the real grownup experience with a kid-like twist (see the cute apron).


 I usually bring a giant sucker or other treat to distract from the less fun stuff like hair washing and sitting still for the cut. We don't have a kid-focused salon in our area, but the big lollipop usually works out well.


Penny's latest appointment was sch…

I used to be a plugins kinda girl

We had a lot of Glade and Airwick plugin things around the house. When you have three pets, one of whom is a dog who spends his days frolicking with horses and goats, you gotta have something to mask the smell of manure and dog sweat. I got tired of how quickly they run out, failed attempts at home refills, and what seems like a chemically stink of the ones from dollar stores. I love the look of reed diffusers, but I didn't know if they really add scent to the room so until recently, I never thought to buy one.
When I helped my sister move into her first apartment, I got her a nice diffuser for her bathroom and was wowed by not only the pretty look, but the great, noticeable scent. So next trip to Target, I took my husband through the smelly stuff aisles and we picked diffusers for our bathrooms. 

We have a larger one in the master bath, but chose this cute mini one for the guest bath. My husband selected Bonfire Nights from Nature's Wick as a scent he was comfortable with an…

Painting with little kids

I'm a huge believer in art education, especially for young children. Art helps with critical thinking skills, focus, creativity, and helps with an emotional outlet before kids are able to effectively communicate verbally.
Kids don't need to paint in the lines or be neat and tidy. Messy is just fine. With Penny, we have times where we have shorter art activities with more focus to guide her fine motor skills (trying to get her to want to write letters and numbers vs type them on the iPad), but we also like to let loose. 
It's summer, so get outdoors with a big canvas or piece of cardboard. Grab some washable paint and cheap brushes and let your kids play with color. You can show them how certain colors work together and what happens when you mix them all together. Demonstrate what happens when you paint on wet color compared to when the first layer has dried. Just have fun with it!

Painting outside is a fabulous summertime activity because it's easy to hose off to keep…

For back-to-school, we picked an Igloo Creatures lunch cooler

During a quick trip to Menards, Penny noticed this adorable lunch box on a shelf in the Halloween decoration section. It was lonely, sitting there by itself, probably misplaced by a customer. So, of course we brought it home.

Now, seriously, we were looking to add another lunch box to the collection so I can rotate through and have a clean one on hand at all times. This wasn't quite my plan, thinking I would have preferred something bento, hard plastic, or machine washable. However, it was Igloo brand, which I trust for all things cooler-related, and easy to carry, appears durable, and while it may be a bit annoying to clean out the inside, Penny will love it and that matters most to me.


The outside is kind of a relief sculpture. It's not just a printed design. The size is good for a growing kid, meaning if it lasts, we should be able to provide a filling lunch for years to come, not just while she's in Pre-K.


Inside is roomy and can be cleaned with a wet cloth. The way Pe…

It's time for another awesome eSalon experience!

Last night, I was looking in the mirror at my hair and realized the color still looks pretty darn good. So I'm standing there thinking, well it can't have been that long since I colored because the overall color hasn't faded much, but when I logged in to eSalon's website to see when my next order ships, I was shocked that it's scheduled for early next week!

It has been almost 10 weeks, so I left the order as scheduled and added a bottle of color-safe shampoo and conditioner and the handy cape that eSalon sells, so instead of dying my shoulders, I can keep 'em clean.

If you want to know why I post about eSalon so frequently, or why I just love the brand, check out my May 2014 post about eSalon. I'm really proud to be a customer, and there are few companies that leave me with a good feeling: eSalon, The Honest Company, Target, ModCloth, and Craftsy.

I'm looking at that list and what they seem to have in common is a primarily web-based experience and being…

An inside look at my wish list: August 2014

My Amazon wish list has evolved over the summer. I got some books I've wanted and my daughter got some books and toys on her list. So what's on there now?

Even though I'm stepping away from plug-ins, I did absolutely love Glade's toasted marshmallow scent. It was the most real smelling, delicious one I've tried but alas, was a seasonal offering.


Note: I drafted this a few days before posting and in the meantime found one toasted marshmallow pack at Menards, so of course, I snatched it up and plugged them in at home. So far, a neighbor kid walked in and said, "wow, what's that yummy smell?" Win!

There's a cookbook I want, as if I don't have enough already. My daughter and I aren't big meat eaters but I struggle to come up with new vegetarian meal ideas. The Accidental Vegetarian: Delicious Food Without Meat looked like a good book to try.

We have lunch boxes but I'm trying bento style this year. Finding a box that won't leak and isn&…

Art Activities for Kids: Bean Mosaics

After a visit to family day at the Rochester Art Center, we got the idea to make mosaics with dried beans during the downtime while camping. It's pretty easy, loads of fun, and a good way to work on motor skills, creativity, color and contrast, and gluing skills.

While we definitely loved making mosaic art, what ended up being unexpectedly fun was simply putting together sets of colored beans.



I grabbed some craft paint (and a few colors from my collection of heavy body acrylics - I don't recommend that). We put some beans on a paper plate and I drizzled paint over them. Penny took a brush and used it to move the beans around until they were well coated.



We waited for the paint to get tacky and then I transferred the beans to another plate to dry. This just helps them stick less to the plate, but it would probably be okay to scrape them off after they dry on the first plate.


You could also work faster by putting the beans in a baggie and coating them in paint like using Shake …

How do I get my kid to take a shower?

Until recently, my daughter absolutely would not take a shower. We're nearing five years of just baths and it drives me a bit nutty. Baths are fine but they take a long time and aren't always the healthiest choice after she's added bubbles and colors and sits in shampooey water. We've cut back on the bubbles and don't use soap until the end of bath time, but how I longed to just say, "how about you take a quick shower?"

My husband explored some options since the biggest issue is that my daughter was scared of the steady stream of water spraying from what she perceives as very high over her head. He found this fishy shower head adaptor that makes it so the water comes down from a much lower spot on the wall without a permanent change to our shower. You do have to switch things up a bit (super quick) for grownup showers, but it's fairly easy to install and does the trick. She takes showers now!



We did find, like many other customers (see Amazon's re…

Alpaca products for your home

My friend and coworker, Brett, runs Pauley Alpaca Company in southeast Minnesota. I was familiar with the amazing yarns they sell, but until I went to their open house recently, I had no idea all the cool, unique alpaca products you can find.

At the open house, I bought a bar of soap that is covered in dyed alpaca fur. Not only does it smell lovely, but the soap isn't slick like a plain bar, doesn't seem to stick to the tub, and seems to be lasting longer, probably because it's not all melting into the tub water. It's quite clever and pretty to look at so makes for a great gift idea or for a guest bath.

Pauley Alpaca Company sells more than yarn and soap (soap was only available in the gift shop). They sell these neat dryer balls that help reduce static cling and wrinkling as a natural alternative to dryer sheets. They'll last for years, so you can buy a set of 6 for $30 and be done with sheets. Talk about saving money!

In our house, we focus on reducing waste and l…

Crafting with Creativebug

I'm an experienced sewer who mostly made kids clothes and crafts until six months ago when I started using Craftsy. I love the easy of picking a class and having permanent access, the ability to get answers from the instructor, and the depth and quality of each class I've taken. I know they're not all fabulous as I read reviews before picking a class, but so far, I've had amazing success at picking classes with so much information it's like I've been attending in person.

That should give you a sense of my expectations of an online crafting platform.

Creativebug invited me to review their crafting website, which offers a similar style as Craftsy, but with different enrollment models and more short-term workshops that remind me of quick lectures or Craftsy's free mini-classes.

The first class I picked was Homemade Apothecary. It was well-timed because I had a tub of shea butter and a desire to make some homemade products for my husband. We went to our co-op …