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Showing posts from April, 2014

Making a functional kitchen apron

I needed a distraction and had the opportunity to make a one-of-a-kind apron for a friend to give as a gift to her fiancé. She was looking for something that was visually appealing but durable and practical and that would fit him well. I followed a traditional apron shape but chose to cut the top half on the bias for visual interest and lined the apron in a smooth, but washable satin. Clothes are protected but the apron won't cling, so it'll still look good while pulling a pan out of the oven.

There are plenty of pockets and long ties. I included a clip for hanging a potholder or towel (apron-clipped towels are SO handy). A unique feature is the overall style neck strap. Rather than a two-piece tie or the usual adjustable sewn-on strap, I used overall clasps so it's super easy to adjust but if you like having the apron higher up on the chest, it can come off and on with a simple clasp - no adjustments or retying needed. It looks cute too. My husband is modeling the apron b…

Belitae Organics FRESH-C Vitamin C Serum

Belitae Organics sent me a bottle of FRESH-C Vitamin C Serum a few weeks ago to try. I was really excited to try it because after checking out the ingredients, it was clear they've really been thoughtful about choosing those truly beneficial to the skin and leaving out those that cause a lot of irritation and fragrance.


Ingredients like STAY-C50 (Vitamin C) and hyaluronic acid, L-Arginine and gotu kola can help your skin feel brighter and tighter, which may help reduce the appearance of fine lines and long-term, a great way to prevent future lines from forming. The STAY-C50 is a very potent antioxident and does not oxidize in the bottle.
After using FRESH-C for a few weeks, what I noticed was my skin was definitely feeling tighter. On those mornings when I looked a bit tired, a few drops helped me look more awake because my skin was brighter and more firm. While I can't speak for reducing wrinkles and lines just yet, I do feel like I'm doing great for my skin by using th…

Special K™ Coffee House Breakfast Shakes

I hadn't heard of Special K™ Coffee House Breakfast Shakes before a recent BzzAgent opportunity to test a couple of samples. I've tried other breakfast drinks, including a Special K™ protein shake, but I don't like most of them. I drink Instant Breakfast a few times a week to help increase my vitamin D and calcium intake, but otherwise, I find these drinks usually thick, chalky, and terribly sweet.


My husband and I both tried the Coffee House Breakfast Shakes. The chocolate mocha flavor isn't bad. It's more palatable compared to the typical protein drinks my husband is used to and doesn't have the chalky texture he can't stand. The flavor and texture is fine, but there is a lingering aftertaste that reminds my husband of artificially sweetened drinks, which isn't so good.
I tried the vanilla cappuccino flavor Special K Coffee House Breakfast Shake. I really liked how it reminded me of vanilla bean. Subtle, not artificial, and not so strong that it was u…

Smooth, Moisturized Skin with EltaMD AM Therapy

I used the Paula's Choice website to pick a daytime moisturizer without sunscreen to try. I like the idea of a separate sunscreen so I can use the moisturizer any time of day and choose the level of sun protection I'd like. Most moisturizers don't offer very much protection, so if I have to add more sunscreen, I may as well skip the combo products.

EltaMD offered a moisturizer without sunscreen that is fragrance-free and safe for sensitive skin. It's really light and absorbs quickly so I'm not bogged down waiting before applying makeup. AM Therapy Facial Moisturizer has done wonders for my skin's hydration. I look less blotchy and don't have dry, flaking skin, even in my worst areas - around my forehead and cheeks.

I have been hoping that it will not only be awesome as a product but that it will last a while so I'm not having to buy it too often and so far, so good. I use it once a day and bought my bottle in mid-December. It's almost mid-April! And …

Strongly Scented: Estee Lauder Resilience Lift Firming/Sculpting Face and Neck Creme

I went for the free gift with purchase deal from Estee Lauder recently. I couldn't resist because the eye and lip colors in the gift kit were perfect for spring and I wanted to try Estee Lauder's skincare line.

One of the gift items was a .5oz jar of Resilience Lift Firming/Sculpting Face and Neck Creme. Don't get me started on the product name. I find long product names irritating. But the truth is, the name isn't what is important. What matters is whether the product works for me and if there are aspects I don't like, I'll share them. The reason I mention the long name is that this makes it less sharable. I can't easily tell my mom to go buy it when we're chatting on the phone. I'll need to email a link to be sure she knows exactly what to look for.


Resilience Lift (this particular formula) promises a more lifted and sculpted look. There are "light-responsive enzymes" which I'm assuming is related to the "photo-activated lift co…

I'm So Busy and Lovin' It!

My spring is full of amazing products to try, crazy home projects to finish, a garden 5x the size of any I've planted before, and plenty of upcoming events. I can't wait for the weather to be warm so it will match my glee!

Upcoming Product Reviews1. Belitae Organics Fresh-C Vitamin C Serum
Every time I plan to buy or review a skincare product, I look up all the reliable information I can find on ingredients and product claims. I just got my bottle in the mail and can't wait to see what happens as I try this vitamin C serum because it has some amazing skincare ingredients like hyaluronic acid, L-Arginine, Gotu Kola, and of course, vitamin C. The outstanding customer reviews support the company's claims for smoother, more vibrant skin and a reduction in fine lines.

2. Estee Lauder Resilience Lift Firming/Sculpting Face and Neck Creme
I really wanted the free gift from Estee Lauder in March, so I bought a powder foundation and received this creme as part of my bonus gift. I…

Off the Edge of the Map Book Review

I rarely review books because the book review industry is very competitive. I get nervous about my informal approach and the many years that have passed since I've published anything of note. Sometimes, I can't resist a review opportunity and the chance to check out Off the Edge of the Map: Marco Polo, Captain Cook, and 9 Other Travelers and Explorers That Pushed the Boundaries of the Known World by Michael Rank was too good to pass up.

Perhaps you didn't know but I am a total geek when it comes to history and biography books. I majored in art history and took enough English classes that I should have minored in it (I'm still not a great writer). While I occasionally read my husband's Robin Cook books, what's often by my bed is a biography a notable historical figure or era in history.

The problem with many non-fiction leisure books is that they are long, too academic, and don't feature engaging aspects that turn non-fiction into enjoyment. I love books tha…

Roger Love's The Perfect Voice

Disclosure: I got this product as part of a review opportunity. 

A month ago, I agreed to have a go at trying Roger Love's The Perfect Voice, which is a voice coaching series that helps with improving how your voice sounds. My thinking was that I'm a terrible singer and if I can sound even halfway decent (like perhaps not tone deaf), my family will thank me.

While Roger Love is a real vocal coach who has worked with some super famous people like Tyra Banks and Reese Witherspoon, I quickly got the sense that this program is aimed at people who are looking for ways to better communicate at work or in life as a means to get ahead and be noticed. This marketing aspect of the program feels a bit shady to me, reminding me of those terrible "get rich quick" and "buy my program to make more money" infomercials of the 90s.
As the program is promoted as a way to get more dates or make more money, you can see how I'd feel this way.
The thing is, as a vocal coach f…