Lulu

Monday, March 30, 2015

NailMates giveaway!

If you've read my blog before you probably know I absolutely love my gel polish. Love love love. However, one of the not-so-fun parts of wearing gel polish is the dreaded soak off. A few days ago I introduced you to an amazing new (to me) product I just discovered called NailMates. NailMates are these ingenious little reusable caps that hold specially designed foam pads that you saturate with acetone and use to soak off gel polish, glitter polish, and nail treatments. You can read my full review and demo here, and you can also check out the Q&A section on the NailMates website. These babies are now my absolute favorite way to remove my gel polish quickly, efficiently, and without any dripping. A gel polish lover's new best friend!

I'm so excited to inform you that the awesome people at NailMates are sponsoring a giveaway so that 5 lucky winners can try out a set of NailMates of their very own! 

Here are the details:

This giveaway is open internationally.
Winners will be selected randomly via Rafflecopter.
Giveaway is open until April 13, 2015.
Please refer to the terms and conditions.
Void where prohibited.
Good luck!

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Friday, March 27, 2015

Life lately & some goals

It's been awhile since my last personal update. Once again, time just slipped by me and then I realized I've only done seven blog posts in 2015 so far. Oops. I'll work on that. I mean, I feel like I've been blogging a lot, but I really haven't. It's just that when I do blog it takes me for-EVER now with Harper around. 


Speaking of Harper, can you believe she's 8 months old now?! How is it that 8 months have gone by since I gave birth to this little chunk? I know I've said this a million times before but time is flying by me at warp speed. For real. Sometimes it feels like it's only been 8 weeks because it's just slipped away so quickly and she's growing up so fast. She's showing no signs of wanting to crawl yet (she still hates tummy time) but she just recently started to like standing with support. Her big ol' thunder thighs are getting really strong and I'm starting to think she may just be a walker, rather than a crawler. She's a super happy baby now that her acid reflux has subsided and she pretty much smiles all the time. It melts my heart. I'm happy to say were are still going strong and are breastfeeding, though happily (for me) not as often as we were a few months ago. She was a pretty demanding baby in the beginning and was wanting to eat at the boob buffet just about every 30 minutes, and mama could not handle it. Somehow I got her to stretch out her feedings to every 2-3 hours at around 6 months and it was life changing. Thank you lord, mama doesn't have to pull her shirt down 20 times a day anymore. Along with nursing she's also started eating solids. It's so cute seeing her chomp up little bits of soft food with her 3 teeth she has now. Needless to say the solid foods have made cloth diapering, well...interesting. Washing them is a bit more labor intensive once she starts digesting solid foods. I'm staying up way too late researching which diaper sprayer to install on my toilet! All poop jokes aside, I'm really loving the cloth diapers and every week that goes by where I don't have to buy a pack of diapers has me going "Yesssssss!" 

My big kids are doing awesomely. Ayden joined his school's LEGO Robotics club and he's loving it. He gets to stay after school two days a week and work in a with a few of his buddies from class on their LEGO robot car. Not only do they have to build a working, moving vehicle, but they also have to program the electronics and computer system for it. He said it's kind of hard sometimes and they had a few problems with their car falling apart in the beginning, but I think they've found their groove and are working together better and figuring it out. Lily just turned 7 a few weeks ago and we had a roller skating birthday party to celebrate her big day. She's so grown up now and seems like such a "kid" to me now. I always think of her as my baby and I'm just starting to realize that the soft baby features are gone in her face and she's a big girl now. She absolutely loved roller skating and decided she's going to buy a pair of her very own with her allowance and birthday money she's been saving up. Little miss moneybags over here has saved up $54 on her own. I actually had to ask her to make change for me the other day because she has so much cash in her piggy bank.

Oh, and they hit their 10 hour reading goal at school for the last month and they each earned a free pass to our local amusement park for this summer! So proud of my little bookworms and I can't wait to take them to the park. I haven't been there myself in over 10 years, so it will be a fun trip for the whole family.

I've been trying to set a few goals for myself lately, but keeping up on them has proven difficult. Here's where I'm at so far:

Eat better. That's a pretty vague goal, but it's a tough one for me. I'm still breastfeeding, so of course eating a well balanced diet is important for both myself and Harper. It's a daily struggle. Why? Well, honestly, I just don't eat much during the day. This is nothing new, and it's just the way my body is and always has been. If you don't believe me ask my mom- she's exactly the same way, and I can thank her genetics for my small frame, low appetite, and super quick metabolism. I pretty much have zero appetite until around dinnertime, which I know isn't healthy. I start my day off with coffee (and no, I can't quit that, so don't even suggest it) and then I'm not hungry at all until well after lunch. I have to remind myself to stop, sit down, and eat something throughout the day because I find myself jittery from the caffeine buzz and light-headed at times from low blood sugar. I'll finally stop and eat a yogurt and a banana or something and then I forget about food again until after I've picked up the kids from school. Then I get busy again preparing dinner and decide to just wait to eat and fill up on a larger dinner. My kitchen is stocked with all kinds of quick, healthy snack options but getting them in my body has proven difficult. I'm working on it.

Exercise. I absolutely loathe working out. I hate it. It's boring, hard, and I hate sweating. Plus, I just don't know what to do with myself. I don't need to lose weight, as the baby weight is all gone (have you seen my baby? All of my body fat has been sucked out and redeposited on Harper's thighs). But what I'm left with is a skinny, squishy, flabby body with absolutely zero muscle tone or definition. Do I join a gym? Eh. That sounds like hell, to be honest. I love walking, so taking Harper for long walks while pushing her stroller is fun, but the weather isn't cooperating with me lately. In the past I've done yoga, pilates, and various workout videos at home but I always get bored with those quickly and don't keep up on them. What do I do? Someone motivate me.

See? Skinny, yes. Healthy? Not quite.

Blog my heart out. I'm working on this one! After stepping back and taking a bit of a break while I adjust to life with 3 kids I realized something: I missed blogging. It's just been something I've done for so long now that not doing it is weird, and I miss it. My husband stepped up in a big way and surprised me with a brand new, much needed laptop, and that has helped so much already. My old laptop had a broken keyboard (spilled coffee on it, fried it, and had to have an external one plugged into it), broken hinges (couldn't close it) and a bad battery (couldn't unplug it for more than 5 minutes). Having a decent computer to work on has already been a great motivator to get back in the game and hit it hard, and I've got so many great ideas coming up. Think giveaways, more tutorials, some recent beauty favorites, updates on my monthly beauty subscriptions, and I may even venture into the world of vlogging. I'm not so sure about seeing and hearing myself talk in a video, but we'll see. Stay tuned! Lots of fun stuff in the works. :)


Well, that's about it for now. Do you have any tips on how I should reach these goals? What do you do to make sure you eat healthy and get your exercise in? And what kind of things would you like to see on Lulu & Sweet Pea in the future? 

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

March Into Savings with Walmart Family Mobile

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MarchIntoSavings #CollectiveBias


I am so excited to tell you how I'm saving money for my entire family by switching my phone service to Walmart Family Mobile. That's right, I dropped my old cell phone plan and jumped on the whole "March into Savings" bandwagon by cutting down my phone bill by almost half with Walmart's new 4G LTE service. Want to know a little secret too? I just got my first smart phone! Yep, I've finally joined the 21st century and mama got herself a snazzy new phone and a killer deal with my new Walmart Family Mobile plan. Now with this phone and my unlimited talk, text, and data plan I can pretty much rule the world (or my house) while saving a ton of money with the lowest priced unlimited plan around. Are you ready to March into Savings with me?!


For starters, let's take a look at the phone. I ventured to my local Walmart and found the WFM display in the electronics section. Upon browsing the selection of phones, I ended up choosing the Samsung Galaxy Avant ($149- was $199.99) and the WFM starter kit ($25) that comes with a SIM card. The phone itself is awesome and has all the features I was looking for as far the camera, apps, and speed are concerned. It's a sleek, fast, and powerful little smart phone with a pretty long battery life and I've been really happy with it so far.

As for the service, I chose the WFM unlimited talk, text, & data plan which includes up to 500MB of 4G LTE data for only $29.88 a month (after the 500MB I still have unlimited data, just not at the 4G speed). Talk about savings! I as a little worried that the data wouldn't be enough for me, but with the Avant's WIFI feature I can cut down on my data usage while at home and only dip into my 500MB when I'm out and about and unable to connect to WIFI elsewhere. That amount of data is more than enough for me, but if I need more I can always upgrade to the 2.5GB data plan for only $10 more each month. Still an amazing price!

Disclaimer: All prices for phones and plans included in this post are accurate as of the date of posting; however, these prices are subject to change. Please refer to http://cbi.as/aafid or your local Walmart for current pricing.



Saving money with the Walmart Family Mobile plan is easy- there are no hidden fees or overages to worry about and there are no surprises on my bill anymore. That means I spend less time stressing out over money and bills and can focus on putting that money towards fun things with my family, like catching a matinee with the kids, random treats at the coffee shop, that new pair of sandals I've been eyeing for spring, or loading us up in the car for a fun day at the lake on a beautiful day. Plus, with my handy dandy new phone with 4G LTE I can now take advantage of things like GPS navigation for our trips out of town, a fitness app to track my walks and workouts, and I can leave my camera at home because I have a great one built right in to my phone. This phone and service have it all.

This picture was taken with my new Samsung Galaxy Avant!

As a busy mom, wife, and blogger, I'm constantly running these 3 little ones around with me to school, activities, shopping, and on our various adventures. Having this awesomely reliable WFM 4G LTE data right at my fingertips has been so helpful. Now I can quickly check on my blog, social media, pay bills, update my calendar, and keep myself organized easily. Often times I find myself sitting in the school pick up line and remember that I forgot to reply to an important email or pay the electricity bill. Now I can do that in seconds all right from my phone as soon as I think about it. No more trying to remind myself as I'm herding the kids inside the door and get snacks or change a diaper, only to forget again until I'm busy trying to make dinner later. 

Switching to the Walmart Family Mobile plan this month was perfect timing for my family. My husband and I were paying over $100 a month just for talk & text with no mobile web whatsoever. Now with my WFM service I was able to get rid of my husband's old, basic phone and added him to my existing family plan for only $19.88 per month. Less money and way better service. Win for everyone! When my kids are old enough to need cell phones of their own I can add them to our family plan too, and take advantage of the awesome Family Control option where I can limit or restrict pretty much anything and everything at my discretion. Sounds perfect for my family!

Now that you've heard how my family is marching into savings, tell me about yourself- are you paying too much for your phone service? Are you ready to make the switch?

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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Soaking off gel polish with NailMates

Hello lovelies! Today I have a new product to talk about and show you to go along with the beautiful gel nails I've been sharing here on the blog. I'm talking about NailMates, and they are awesome for removing gel polish. I actually first tried these out months ago (think before Halloween), but I kept procrastinating forgetting to post about them until now. Sorry guys!


You may have seen my Gel Nail Removal tutorial where I show you my easy soak-off method using a bowl of warm acetone. Since I'm constantly wearing and changing my gel polish I feel like I'm constantly soaking my nails off too. I still stand by my method and it works very well for me, but sometimes it just plain sucks having to sit with my fingers soaking in acetone for 10-15 minutes. I'm impatient, and I have a bad back, so sitting there hunched over a bowl for that long kills my back and neck. NailMates help remove my gel polish quickly and easily and gives me the freedom to get up and move around while doing it.

OK, so what the heck are NailMates? They are these awesome little caps that come with special foam pads, that you saturate with acetone and put onto your fingertips to soak off your gel manicure. They keep the acetone from evaporating and drying out (unlike the foil & cotton ball method, which I despise). Best of all- they are reusable! You can learn more about NailMates on their website and order directly from there (like I did). Each set comes with 10 reusable caps with 20 pads for about the price of a bottle of gel polish. Not bad! You can also buy extra pads separately, but I've been using and rotating the same 20 pads for the last 5 months and they are still working just fine.

Let's take a closer look at how NailMates work.

First, gather your supplies. In addition to the caps and pads you'll need pure acetone (the clear stuff), a nail file, and orange wood stick, and some cuticle oil.


Before you can apply NailMates you'll have to file the tops of your gel nail polish to break the seal in the top coat. You don't have to file them a lot- just rough them up and remove the shine so the acetone can really soak in and do it's job.


Now it's time to saturate the pads. I had a bit of trouble the first time in getting enough acetone in them so that they didn't dry out, but not so much that they were dripping when I put my fingers into the caps. I placed the pad over the top of the acetone bottle and tipped it upside down quickly twice and that seemed to be just about the perfect amount on each pad. When you soak the pads you'll notice they swell up and the acetone spreads nicely across the entire area. These are designed for even distribution! Perfect. Now you're ready to load them into the caps. I like to saturate and load all 10 at once and then slip them onto my fingers. They fit nice and snug and the acetone soaked foam pads were resting right up against my nails.

After about 10 minutes or so I removed the NailMates to check on my gel polish. You can't tell from this picture, but they were ready! I used my orange wood stick to gently push off the loosened gel polish.


See?

Here's what my nails looked like after removing all of the gel polish.


Lastly, my freshly naked nails were in need of a little TLC, so I did a quick basic manicure on myself. I filed my nails down a bit shorter and gently pushed my cuticles back. Then I used my nail buffing block to lightly buff the tops of my nails to make them evenly smooth. Finally, I used a nail brush to scrub my nails clean with soap and warm water (this is also a great time to rinse/wash your nail mate caps and pads too). I finished up my mini mani by slathering on some cuticle oil because acetone is very drying and cuticle oil is your best friend!

Overall, soaking off gel polish with NailMates took just about the same amount of time as it does with my usual method, but I love that I had the freedom to sit comfortably or get up and walk around the house during the process (or attempt to use my phone with my 2nd knuckles, haha). I have to admit that these are my new favorite way to soak off my gels! Since trying NailMates I haven't used the bowl method again. I really do love these and I recommend them to anyone who does their own gel nails. These would also be great for non-gel polish users trying to get off stubborn glittery nail polish.

For more info or to purchase NailMates head over to their website.

Giveaway Alert!
Check out this blog post for a chance to win NailMates for yourself.

Don't forget to check out all of my gel nail polish tutorials!

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Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored in any way. I did not receive any compensation for my review of NailMates, nor was I given this product for testing purposes. All opinions are, as always, my own :)
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