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About Samantha

I'm terrible at summing up who I am in one paragraph because I do so many different things and am influenced by so many wonderful people and experiences. At a glance, I'm the lucky mom of an amazing, inspiring little girl who spends her busy days growing a love of learning at Montessori school. I'm also the wife of a talented engineer husband who I get to work alongside with from home each day. I keep busy as a design researcher who also paints, sews, and gardens, and serve on the Board of Directors at my daughter's school. I also hold a limited teaching license in K-12 art, working with kindergartners on introductory art concepts once a week.

Since 7th grade, I've been coloring my hair and experimenting with makeup and clothing style. I love to shop and try new products, which led me to create this blog. The content has evolved to be more broad as my interests have expanded, but you'll still find product reviews, recipes, mom-friendly advice (art projects!), and gardening tips.

Shortly after my daughter was born, I was diagnosed with cancer and went through several major surgeries and chemo treatments that affected my skin and hair and self-image. Since then, I've placed more focus on finding healthier, better product choices for my family, seeking natural cleaners and soaps and finding cosmetics and other products that work with my now drier skin and hair. As a family, we've also transitioned to more fresh and organic foods, cooking from scratch most nights.

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Pottery Barn Kids Lunch Bags: Cute, but Annoying

When my daughter transitioned to "big kid school" this fall, I bought her a personalized lunch bag from Pottery Barn Kids. This was our first time having to send lunch to school, so I wanted her to enjoy carrying the bag and also have it be practical. She's just turning 4, so it was important that she be able to open the bag herself and carry it from the car to the lunch cart without assistance.

Pottery Barn Kids offers a slew of fabric patterns and four bag styles. Penny picked the MacKenzie Chocolate Zebra classic lunch bag, which is a fairly standard size and shape lunch box. We paid $7 to have her name embroidered on the bag, which I figured was worth the price to ensure her box isn't mixed up with another kid's lunch. I let Penny pick the font and thread color and ordered online.

Our classic lunch bag has now been used every weekday for nearly three months, but it looks more like a year old. It's still functional in that Penny can carry it in to school, o…

Switching from Olay Regenerist to L'Oreal RevitaLift

I've been using Olay Regenerist DNA Superstructure UV Cream for years now. I love the SPF 25 (it's now 30) the thick moisturizing quality, and how fresh my skin feels once it's absorbed. It's really thick, so it tends to need more time before I put on foundation, and it does leave my skin a touch lighter than it is in real life. The sunscreen ingredients mean this moisturizer smells just like traditional sun protection, and even a bit like my daughter's diaper cream (ick), but I know it's doing it's job and I've been really happy with it.

I intended to buy some more during a trip to Walmart today, but L'Oreal RevitaLift Triple Power Day Lotion had a $2 off coupon attached, and the base price was less than the Olay product, so I took a chance and bought  the RevitaLift instead.

L'Oreal's bottle is prettier with a similar pump mechanism. Like Olay, the product is in an opaque container, which helps keep the contents from being affected by ligh…

Garnier Olia Hair Color Review

BzzAgent sent me a coupon to try Garnier Olia haircolor and I was super excited to try a new color. Anyone who knows me knows that I've been coloring my hair since I was 13 years old. I've tried many shades from bright blue, purple, and fire engine red to pricey complex process salon dye jobs.

I've stuck to mostly brown shades for the past couple of years and wanted a change. Most of my adult life, I've used either reddish tint or bolder rusty reds, so it seemed like a fun idea to go back to that for a while. Honestly, it was a little challenging to pick a shade I wanted to try because my experience with box color "light" and "medium" seems different from the example photos on Olia boxes. The brown and red shades look darker than what I would call "light," for example.

At Walmart, there were 14 of the 24 Olia shades in stock, which narrowed down my choice. Since I was fearful of trying any light colors in case they were too light for me, a…