J'Adore VoxBox from Influenster- my review

Friday, February 28, 2014

I'm always excited when Influenster emails me and tells me that I'll be receiving another VoxBox from them. This one was the J'Adore VoxBox and it was loaded with all kinds of perfect little treats for myself for Valentine's Day. (J'Adore means "I adore you," so it was fitting for the holiday!)

First off, what is Influenster?
Influenster is a free-to-join community of trendsetters, social media masterminds, and educated consumers who live to give opinions of products and experiences. The Influenster site is a hub where members meet to learn about new products from our favorite brands as well as review the products they already use in their day-to-day lives! Influenster invites its most active members to participate in exclusive VoxBox programs where members receive complimentary products to test and review. In exchange, we ask our members to do what they already love to do: share their opinions with their friends & followers on social media!

I was so happy when the mailman brought me this little bundle of joy.

Here's the information card that came with my box.

Of course the first thing I went for was the HERSHEY'S Kisses milk chocolate. Ahhh, Hershey's. You know me so well. I love that this was a huge family sized bag (though I didn't share much with my family). Can you believe I still have some left too? I've been hoarding these sweet little candies in my nightstand so I can have a few chocolates every night before bed. Sometimes you just need to. And by sometimes, I mean every single night for the last 10 days. So good!

The next little treat I tried was the Red Rose Tea in Creme Caramel. I'm not usually a huge tea drinker, but I do love me some caramel. Who doesn't? This tea was actually really delicious- not too sweet and not too bitter. I prefer mine with a little splash of cream and it was just about perfect. I sipped on it when we had an especially cold, snowy day and it warmed me right up.

Next up were the beauty products. I started with the John Frieda Frizz Ease 3 Day Straight. I was probably most excited to try this because I have naturally curly hair that I blow dry and flat iron straight a lot. I hate my hair- it's such a pain to take care of. But this spray helped tame my curls and made blowing it out a lot easier. I sprayed it in while wet, blow dried with with my brush, and then quickly ran the flat iron over the ends just to smooth them a little bit. Check out my before and after. No frizz and no static (which is crazy, considering the weather we've been having). It stayed pretty smooth for the following two days and was easy to maintain. I just barely had to touch it up and it stayed pretty dang straight and smooth! I think I'll be purchasing this when my bottle is gone, since I've already used it again twice.

I've mentioned before that I have oily skin, so the Boots Botanics Shine Away Ionic Clay Mask was a perfect fit for me. I've used many clay masks before, and they work great for soaking up that extra oil in your pores. This one worked the same way and left my skin feeling really soft and smooth afterwards. The smell was nice and I liked the consistency of it. Most masks are super thick and hard to spread around your face, but this was a bit thinner and I felt like I didn't have to use as much of the product to get the coverage I needed. This bottle should last me a while, since it's something I'll only be using once or twice per week. I did notice that my face seemed less shiny the day that I used it.
Is this a cute look for me?

I'm a total lash girl. Once upon a time (in beauty school) I used to wear lashes on a daily basis. I love the look of them and how they really make your eyes pop. I was thrilled that this VoxBox included KISS Looks So Natural Lashes because this was a brand I had yet to try. The pack I received was called "Sultry." I'm not afraid of the full lash look, so I threw these babies on and had fun rocking them for the day. What a difference lashes make! The only thing I didn't like was the applicator that the glue came in. I think that's because it was just a mini-sized one that came in the set. Normally you would get a full sized tube, which is what I'm used to working with. The mini bottle was a bit tricky- a tube is much easier to use.

Last but not least was the Vaseline Men Spray Lotion, which obviously was not meant for me. During the VoxBox qualification survey I was asked if I had a man who could test out a product and I selected "yes." My son was the perfect little tester for this stuff because he's almost 10 and he's really into "man" grooming lately. He loves using his dad's cologne, body wash, and aftershave, and he thinks it's totally cool to smell manly (I couldn't agree more!) He loved the smell of this lotion and I have to admit, he did smell, well, manly. He also has dry skin and suffers from eczema, so this moisturized his parched skin without leaving him slick with oil, which he loved. I think the spray part was his favorite. Boys don't really like applying lotion, and the spray definitely sped up and made the process more fun. I will definitely buy this again for him!

Overall I'd have to say that this is my favorite VoxBox from Influenster so far. I really did love every single thing inside and I will most likely buy them all at some point. Great job Influenster! You really nailed this one. Thank you so much for including me!

Do you think you have what it takes to be an Influenster? It's free to sign up and I have a few invitations to the site left. If you're interested, shoot me your email address and I'll send you one so you can get in on these goodies and future VoxBoxes too.

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Disclaimer: I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes. All opinions are, as always, my own.

Happy Tuesday & a giveaway!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

So just because, I have a giveaway for you today!
It's brought to you by my bestie Amber and some of her sponsors this month.

Winner gets a $25 gift card of your choice and some killer ad space. The gift card is totally up to you- it could be for Target, Amazon, Starbucks, Sephora, etc. Your choice! $25 up for grabs guys, and if you follow me on Bloglovin' & Instagram you already have 2 entries right there. Make sure to enter to win!

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Adventures in babysitting and a 16 week baby bump

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

I got to spend my Saturday night babysitting my adorable niece. My brother and sister-in-law wanted to go on a date, so the kids and I went over to their house while they went out to a movie and played some laser tag (sounds like a fun date, right?!) Sierra is almost 14 months now and she's the sweetest little thing. She didn't cry or fuss at all and had a blast playing with Lily and getting smothered in kisses by me. It gave me a little glimpse of what it will be like with three kids, and let me tell you...I was absolutely exhausted when I got home and crawled into my bed. Totally worth it though, because look at this sweet face.

I hit 16 weeks on Monday and I had my monthly check up. I was a little wary to ask my doctor about my weight gain so far- I've gained 15 pounds already! That's kind of a lot for 16 weeks and my pregnancy app keeps telling me I'm "excessive" for where I'm at right now. But I started out being underweight, so my doctor assured me that gaining 15 pounds at this point is perfectly fine for me, and she said she was actually really happy that I have a little extra meat on my bones now. I no longer have a thigh gap and I even have a bit of a booty! I do need to make sure I'm eating a little healthier though. I admit I've been going a little crazy indulging myself on every little thing I'm craving.
I don't have another doctor's appointment for a month and I have to wait until then to have an ultrasound to find out the gender. We definitely want to know what it is, so I'm anxiously waiting for March 18th to hurry up and get here.

Speaking of cravings.
My husband brought these home from Costco and they are the devil. They are so good.
I blame him for these 15 pounds. He's definitely encouraging me!

Don't forget to follow me on Instagram! {I finally joined}
What did you/do you crave when you're pregnant?

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Follow me on Instagram! {I finally joined}

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Yes, it's true. The time has come for me to join the modern world and join Instagram.
I'd actually been dying to for some time, but I didn't have a compatible device.

Well, that changed.

My awesome husband decided that it was finally time for me to get my first iPod. I know, right? I've never owned an iPod in my life, and I've barely even ever used one. He got me a beautiful white iPod Touch for Valentine's Day so that I could finally be a big girl. Isn't he the best?! I'm so excited too because the iPod touch can basically do everything an iPhone can, just without the phone service. I'm too cheap for iPhone service, and I'm home a lot with my wi-fi, so this is the perfect option for my penny-pinching self.

So you know what that means- I'm on Instagram

I had to settle for MelissaSwenson1 since someone already had my name. Don't you hate when that happens? Make sure to follow me as I try to navigate this thing. I'm sure I'll be bombarding you with pictures in no time. So far I have 3. I'm loving this Apple camera!

Are you on Instagram?
Let me know so I can follow you too!

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A Valentine's Day Gelish MINI manicure

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Are you ready for Valentine's Day?

I may be the only blogger in the world who doesn't decorate or do anything special for Valentine's Day. I had never even heard of people decorating their houses for it until I started blogging. I decorate for Christmas and that's about it. I also buy my kids store bought Valentines for school. For shame, right?!

While my house may not be ready for Valentine's Day, my nails sure are. I was at home eating chocolates on Tuesday when the idea struck me that I should do something fun with my nails. I got my gel stuff out and got to work.

Here's what I came up with:
I'm wearing Light Elegant on all of the nails, then I used some loose silver glitter embedded in the gel for the middle, and used Make You Blink Pink for the heart and polka dots (all Gelish MINI colors). Nail art is definitely not my strong point, so I stick to pretty basic designs and just used a pointed orange wood stick to do the heart and dots. I like how this one turned out though and I've gotten compliments on them just about everywhere I go. Remember, if you need a good gel nail tutorial check out mine here.

Hope you have a fabulous Valentine's Day!
We're probably going to have a relaxing night at home and I might make some cupcakes.
Do you have any big plans?

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Mani Mondays Link Up

Procrastinating unpacking

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

When it comes to unpacking, I'm not usually a procrastinator.

I'm insanely neurotic and I need to have everything in its place as soon as possible. I can't stand having half unpacked boxes everywhere and I just want everything set up and looking perfect immediately. I don't like clutter or disarray at all.

Well, not so much this time around. Even though I've been dying to sew and get my craft on, I have yet to do anything about unpacking my massive amount of crafty things.

This is what it currently looks like:

This is technically going to be the new baby's room, but I figured for now I could also put my sewing stuff in it too since it won't actually be used for a baby until August. I have a room downstairs that will be the permanent sewing room, but it's absolutely freezing down there right now and I don't want to be down there if I don't have to be.

I have all kinds of yummy fabric I can't wait to work with.

But unfortunately, my sewing machine is still just sitting in a box.

I don't know what my deal is. Maybe I'm enjoying finally having a place of my own again a little too much. I've been so lazy. Being pregnant doesn't help and only gives me another excuse not to "over-exert" myself and to not do "too much" in a day. So rather than getting my crap together and set up, I sit and snack and blissfully read or watch TV and movies, or even take a nap. I admit, it's been wonderful. But I think it's about time I snap out of it and get moving. I could be creating so many cute baby things right now! And I'd like to actually get it done before I give birth

So someone, tell me to get off my butt, put the book down, and do something.

What have you been procrastinating?

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Friday manicure- Concrete Couture & Never Too Grey by Gelish MINI

Friday, February 7, 2014

I wanted to share my newest gel manicure I did on myself.

I just got a new color from Gelish MINI and I finally had a chance to try it out. It's from their newer Gelish Trends line, which features a lot of glitter and texture. When I went to the beauty supply to pick some up they were almost all sold out! But I was able to grab a bottle of Concrete Couture, which is this cool, sheer black color packed full of chunky silver and grey glitter.

I knew right away that I wanted to pair this with one of my favorite neutral colors called Never Too Grey. I thought the glitter on all of my nails might be a bit flashy, so I did 2 coats of Never Too Grey on all 10 nails and then added one coat of Concrete Couture to just he pinky and ring nails. I just love how it turned out.

Want to try doing your own gel nails? Make sure to check out my DIY Gel Nail tutorial!
I'll show you step by step with easy instructions that anyone can do.

What do you think of this color combination?
What are some of your favorite polish colors right now?
I'm ready for it to warm up so I can start wearing some brights!

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Chicken Parmigiana and a baby bump

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Guess what? I'm in my 2nd trimester!
I hit 14 weeks a few days ago so I figured it might be time for a picture.

I feel like it looks like I'm a showing a lot in this picture, but some days it looks like I just ate a lot. Which I probably have, because I can't seem to stop stuffing my face right now. I'm definitely eating a lot of healthy stuff like a lot of fruits and veggies (I've been craving fresh food) and I've been trying to drink a lot of water. That one has been hard for me because I really don't like the taste of water. Weird, I know. But I've also been indulging my every craving and I've been eating a lot of bad stuff too. Brownies? Check (I ate the entire pan). Fast food? Check (so bad, I know!) Soda? Check. I really lack self control these days. If you follow me on Facebook & Twitter you'd know this because I seem to be talking about food a lot and posting too many of food pictures. It's really all I can think about right now!

Today I had a craving for Italian food, and I knew just what to make: The Pioneer Woman's Chicken Parmigiana. Oh. My. Lord. This stuff is to die for. Trust me...I've made it 3 or 4 times now and my entire family loves the recipe. There are never leftovers, which is sad. It's pretty simple and easy to make, yet it's super flavorful, hearty, and filling. You can grab the recipe from her website here. Trust me, you'll want to make this recipe as soon as possible!
Serve this on top of a pile of linguine and smother with extra sauce and cheese. Mmmm.

I decided I was in the mood for cheesecake to go along with this delicious dinner, so my sweet little Lily helped me whip one up. And yes, we totally made a Jello No-Bake cheesecake. We aren't fancy here, and I wasn't about to make one from scratch, so within about 10 minutes we had ourselves a delicious cheesecake for dessert.

Well, I'm off to grab another slice of cheesecake!

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Grandma's Pure & Natural Soap {product review!}

Monday, February 3, 2014

I was recently contacted by a company called Grandma's Pure & Natural to try out one of their soap products. Since I'm pregnant, they thought I'd like to try their Lye Soap because it has no chemicals, detergents, or additives to take the natural moisture out of your skin. Apparently many expecting mothers say it's the only soap that stops that dreaded tummy itch. I was intrigued, so I agreed to try it.

I received a bar of their Lye Soap and immediately hopped online to read some reviews and see what everyone thought of the product. I was also curious to see what other skin types said about this soap because tummy itch isn't a problem for me- yet. I know it will be coming in a few months though as my skin stretches!

This soap contains only three ingredients: food grade lard, lye, and water. It doesn't really have a smell to it either, as it doesn't have any fragrance in it. Since it also doesn't have detergent in it, it doesn't lather a ton. It does soap up a little bit, but you're not going to get a thick, soapy lather like you will with other soaps. Don't be fooled though- it will leave you feeling "squeaky clean" after using it.

I read some Amazon reviews and found that a lot of people said this soap was great for people with eczema. Great news, because both of my kids suffer from dry patches of eczema, especially right now in the cold winter months. My son especially has it bad on his legs right now, so I gave him the bar to use in the shower. I was pleasantly surprised to see that in just a few short days his red, scaly patches had mostly cleared up! My daughter also has some rough patches on her poor little cheeks right now, and upon using it on her a few times, they already feel softer and smoother. I have tried everything to get rid of these bumpy patches on her cheeks and she's become quite self conscious of it, and I think Grandma's Lye Soap might just be the cure we've been looking for. I'm going to continue to use it on both my kids and see if we can get this eczema thing completely under control. So far, we're off to a great start!

I did a little more reading online and found that a lot of women recommended using this stuff on their face. I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical of that. I'm pretty wary of putting new products on my face. But lately, thanks to these lovely pregnancy hormones, I've been breaking out around my chin and my face has had some dry patches on my forehead, nose, and chin. I don't know what's going on with my poor skin! I started using Grandma's Lye Soap on my face just a few days ago, and I was immediately surprised at how soft and smooth my skin felt afterwards. It was surprisingly moisturizing and the dry patches are pretty much gone. I still have a few breakouts that are healing, but I don't have any new ones. Amazing! I really am surprised at how well this soap works on my face.

I'm completely sold on this soap. I will definitely buy another bar when this one runs out, and I'm going to continue using it for my kids' eczema and for my own pregnant skin. They also have a lot of other soaps on their website that I'd like to try, including an Acne Bar, a Beauty Bar, and a Baby Bar. They also have lotions, a laundry bar (for clothing stains), a lip balm, and a lot of other products on their website.

Thanks to Grandma's Pure & Natural for sending me this awesome product!
I'm definitely a believer and a new customer.

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