Reverse your {wash} routine

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

This post is sponsored by TRESemmé, a product of Unilever, as a part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central.

As a former hairstylist turned stay-at-home mom and beauty blogger, I'm constantly trying to stay up on the latest trends in the beauty world. I've always loved hair products and I'm always intrigued by the latest must-haves for soft, beautiful, manageable hair, and I was just introduced to the latest and greatest revolutionary hair care system from TRESemmé- the Beauty-Full Volume Collection. This system goes against everything I thought I knew about washing and conditioning my hair. I soon found out (and you will too) that their new reverse wash and care process is where it's at for shiny, smooth, voluminous hair. 

Reverse wash and care? How does that even work?

You might be thinking something along those lines, and I was too, at first. I had my reservations about conditioning my hair before shampooing it. OK, I actually didn't think it would work at all, at least not on my hair. I have thick, naturally curly, color-treated and bleached hair that I blow smooth and straight every 3 days. By the time I'm ready for a shampoo, my hair is pretty dirty and in desperate need of some deep conditioning to keep it from getting frizzy and snarled. No way I thought a reverse wash method was a good idea to try on my hair, but for the sake of beauty, I opted to give it a go. What did I have to lose?

Step 1: TRESemmé Beauty-Full Pre-wash Conditioner

Yep, you read that correctly: step one is conditioning the hair first. This is going to reinforce the hair's natural protective layer using TRESemmé's Fiber Polishing technology to protect the hair during washing and leave it polished and smooth. This pre-washing conditioner comes in a really convenient pump bottle that I absolutely love and appreciate. The directions say to use 2-3 pumps of conditioner, leave on for 1 minute, and rinse, so that's what I did (except I may have left the conditioner on for more like 5 minutes while I washed up and shaved). I focused on mostly my midshafts and ends, since those are the parts of my hair that need the actual conditioning- not my roots. I loved the light scent of the conditioner and the fact that it's safe for color-treated hair. My hair felt really smooth after rinsing!

Step 2: TRESemmé Beauty-Full Volume Shampoo

Next, you're going to gently cleanse and remove excess weight from the hair with this shampoo. I put a good-sized amount in my palms and worked it into my scalp. Now, if you're like me, your shampoo might not lather very well the first time (because my hair hadn't been washed in a couple of days). That's OK...just rinse, and repeat. I like to focus on just my scalp and root area, since that's where the dirt and oil is, then rinse it through the ends of my hair. I was worried that my hair would feel stiff and dry from "washing out" the conditioner I had previously applied, but that totally was not the case. The specially formulated Beauty-Full Volume Shampoo is designed to be used after the conditioner- something you can't just do with your regular shampoo and conditioner. This one leaves an ultra-light conditioning layer on the surface of the hair, so my hair still felt soft and smooth after the last of the suds disappeared down the drain.

Step 3: Finish/Style with TRESemmé Beauty-Full Volume Mousse, Hair Maximizer, and Hairspray. 

I decided at this point to fully commit to the Beauty-Full Volume collection because I was feeling confident with how soft and clean my hair actually felt. After towel drying and gently brushing my hair, I used a golf ball-sized amount of the Beauty-Full Mousse to create some lift and volume at my roots. Then I used a quarter-sized amount of the Hair Maximizer, which is a pre-blow dry cream to help volumize and polish the hair to provide bounce, control frizz, smooth hair, and make it more manageable. After blowdrying and curling my hair with my curling wand, I used the Beauty-Full Volume Hairspray to finish off my style and help give a professional, flexible finish that still allowed for some bounce and movement. No one wants stiff curls! This ultra-fine spray has the perfect amount of flexible hold and kept my hair feeling soft and bouncy.

Overall, I have to admit I was blown away by how amazing my hair felt after using the entire TRESemmé Beauty-Full Volume collection. As one who did not have high hopes for a reverse-washing system, I am now officially a believer. My hair has bounce, shine, and movement! Other people noticed too, because the first day that I used these products I got tons of compliments on my hair. I went to lunch with an old friend and her first words were "Your hair looks so good!" Later that day, I shared a selfie on Instagram and Facebook (without mentioning anything special about my hair) and I got numerous comments about how great my hair looked.

Check out the lovely Chrissy Teigen sharing her love for TRESemmé's Beauty-Full Volume Collection

I'm not saying I'll never go back to the traditional way of washing my hair, but for now, the reverse-wash system is definitely my new favorite.  I've used it 3 times since my initial use and I love the results I'm seeing! Learn more about the collection here and stay up on the latest from TRESemmé!

Gel 7 gel polish review + giveaway

Friday, March 25, 2016

Today I have some beautiful swatches with a review and giveaway for a new brand of gel polish called Gel 7. I love when brands contact me about reviews because I love to try new products and share my thoughts on them with you all! 

Gel 7 polish is the only brand that uses German Nano Color Powder to provide the most pure color grade and a super smooth, saturated looking color. They don't use any organic solvents or harmful materials (meaning no nail damage- yay!) and there's no fumy smell to this gel polish. Gel 7 polish is easy to apply, requires no sanding, cures with a UV or LED lamp, and finishes with a high shine that lasts for up to two weeks of wear. 

My thoughts on Gel 7 polish

Having no prior knowledge of this particular brand, I have to admit, I was skeptical. I'm a bit of a gel polish snob and my standards are pretty high. I expect my gel polish to last at least 10 days and stay shiny, chip-free, and beautiful until I'm ready to soak off and switch colors. Gel 7 polish comes in large, .5oz bottles (not mini sized), so you get quite a lot of product in each bottle. The consistency of the gel polish was nice and it went on smooth and evenly without streaking or clumping. I used their low acid base coat, Gel 7 colored gel polish, and no-wipe top coat to finish (for more info on the entire application process, check out my DIY gel nails post here). Gel 7 polish provided great coverage with just 2 coats, and my manicure stayed beautiful and shiny for 10 days! (and probably would have stayed on longer, had I not wanted to change colors sooner).

Here are the colors I tested out:

Canary Craze- a soft and creamy canary yellow. This color is beautiful and perfect for spring!

Steel Cut- a cool, neutral gray that isn't too warm or cool. Perfect for all skin tones and for any time of year.

Red Delicious- a bright, bold, candy apple red. Gorgeous!

Overall, Gel 7 polish is a brand I'd like to try more of. The application was very similar to most other gel polishes and the wear held up to my expectations. Gel 7 polish comes in an array of bold colors and normally retails for $19.95 per bottle (again, full sized bottles, not minis). But right now they are currently on sale for $10.95 each! That's a really great price for their size.

Because I love to try out new products and share them with you, I asked the lovely people at Gel 7 to send me enough product to try out myself and to give away to one lucky Lulu & Sweet Pea reader! One winner will recieve 3 bottles of Gel 7 polish (the same colors shown above), as well as the base and top coat. You can enter on the rafflecopter widget below.

Please refer to the terms and conditions.
Must be 18 or older to enter and open to US & Canadian residents only.
Void where prohibited.
I was given these products free of charge from Gel 7 for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own :) 

Traveling in style

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

This post was sponsored by @GBChildUsa as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central. I received the GB Lyfe Pram Travel System to facilitate my review.

As a seasoned mom of three with another baby on the way, I guess you could say my expectations are pretty high when it comes to baby gear. This isn't my first rodeo, and I've seen how far baby products and gadgets have come over the years. I've used and abused countless car seats, boosters, strollers, cribs, and carriers over the last 12 years from virtually every brand on the markets. These days, I'm all about functionality. Is the product safe? Does it meet my family's needs? Is it easy to use? Does it look good? These are all important questions I ask myself before bringing a new baby product into my home, and the GB Lyfe Pram Travel System hits every checkpoint on my list.

Right out of the box, I could tell the GB Lyfe Travel System was unique and different from any other travel system I've owned before. First off, it's gorgeous. Mine arrived in a modern gray color scheme, which is perfect for both boys and girls. I love how gender-neutral it is since I already have a 20-month-old baby girl, and we've yet to find out the sex of baby number four. 

The infant seat came fully assembled and comes with a conveniently compact base that stays in the car. This seat looks so cozy and plush. The padding is nice and thick and features extra side-impact support to protect even the teeniest infants. One thing I always hate about infant car seats is how difficult they are to carry around. Not this one- it's light as a feather and the handle feels very comfortable in my hand. I also love that the seat holds up to 35lbs. Every other infant seat I've owned has maxed out around 22 to 25lbs, so if you have chubby babies like me, you might be forced to shop around for a bigger car seat as early as 6-9 months. I don't know about you, but I certainly expect my infant seat to get more than 6 months of use out of it. The higher weight limit on this one is a huge plus! 

Now let's take a look at the stroller. Oh, how I wish I would have had this stroller when I first became a mom! First off, it was super easy to assemble- I was able to to it by myself in less than 10 minutes. The pram feature is probably what I'm looking forward to using most when the new baby arrives. Besides the fact that the car seat clicks right in to the stroller, the pram feature allows for another really convenient and comfortable seating position for newborns and allows baby to lay completely flat, and also easily converts to an upright toddler seat. I've never seen anything like it! I love the look and style of these old school prams, but the GB Lyfe Pram Travel System puts a modern twist on it. It goes from a pram, to a rear-facing toddler seat, to a forward-facing toddler seat with just a quick click.
Finding a stroller that has the option to have baby facing backwards and forwards is huge. When baby is little, you can easily keep your eye on him or her, and when they are more independent and ready to explore the world more they can face forward. The large canopy shade on the stroller ensures my fair-skinned little one stays out of the hot sun too. Most strollers I've used had pretty useless canopies that required me throwing a blanket over it to try to keep the sun at bay, but this one provides amazing protection from UV rays. Perfect for napping! Pushing and turning the stroller is a breeze, and it makes it easy to navigate a bumpy sidewalk or narrow aisles in a store.

Waiting to pick up big brother and sister from school.

The undercarriage basket is huge with plenty of storage room for the diaper bag, an extra blanket, and shopping bags. On top of everything else, the one-step folding process is super simple, and the stroller folds up completely flat. It takes up minimal space in the trunk of my car and still leaves me with plenty of room for groceries and everything else I need to haul.

As of right now, I'm loving this stroller for my toddler, and I can't wait to put the car seat and pram feature to use when baby number four arrives. The GB Lyfe Pram Travel System is one that truly grows with your baby from infancy to toddlerhood! Where was it 12 years ago when I had my first baby?

You can find the GB Lyfe Pram Travel System online and in stores at Babies R Us

Life lately

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Well hello there. It seems like I blinked and another 2 months flew by without much of a life update. It's just that I've been so busy talking about other things that are blog-worthy that I forget to talk about myself or my own life sometimes, which is I guess another important aspect of a blog. Oops. I do a lot more random updating and personal sharing on my social media sites, so really, Instagram and Facebook are the best ways to keep up on that these days.

So we all know I'm pregnant. Yay. Don't let my lack of excitement scare you...I am excited but I'm also really, really stressing out and worrying about logistics involving baby number 4 coming along so soon. Bigger house, new car, more baby gear, etc. I mentioned before that I'm anxious about the small age gap between the new baby and Harper, and I've voiced my concerns over my ability to handle everything. Don't get me wrong, I am excited. But I'm also experiencing a crazy amount of stress that I've never really had while pregnant with any of my other babies...I feel like I'm just thinking about things too much. Plus I've been really sick and throwing up a lot, which isn't fun. Some days it's just morning sickness, while other days it's all day nausea. That part seems to be tapering off a bit, though, so let's hope and pray that it's gone for good and I can at least not feel like crap all day. It will work out. We can do this. Yay baby number four!

When I'm not sick half the day, I'm eating pretty much anything and everything in sight. If I've got a pregnancy craving, I have to satisfy it. Cafe Rio taco salads, chicken wings, Caprese salad, spinach artichoke dip, root beer floats, biscuits and name it, I'll eat it.

My first baby girl, Lily, just turned 8. This makes my heart hurt. She was my baby for so long- she can't really be 8. She's in 2nd grade now and her teacher (like all of the others) adores her. She's been student of the month (the first month!), earned academic achievement awards every quarter, reads at the highest level for her grade, and her teacher just recommended she be tested for their advanced program. I'm so proud of her for being such a great little student! Can we just talk about birthday cakes for a second? I'm really bad at making them...I've had some pretty ugly disasters when it comes to the frosting and decorating part, and this year was no exception. Lily wanted a purple cake with black writing. Sounds easy enough, right? I made a 2-layer round chocolate cake and tried my hand at making purple frosting with some traditional food coloring. Why is purple such a hard color to make? I'm not sure what the heck happened, but somehow I ended up with a gray-ish purple-tinged frosting that didn't look very appetizing. Maybe I'll stick to buying cakes from the grocery store bakery!

Lily's birthday was pretty low-key because we were still exhausted from our trip to Kaua'i, Hawaii! I can't believe our trip has already come and gone, but we went and it was amazing. If you recall, one of my BFFs was having a destination wedding in Kaua'i- her favorite vacation destination and place where she was engaged the year before. My husband and I had never been on a trip like this together, ever- not even a honeymoon! We decided I decided we had to go, so we made it happen. I got some snide comments and side-eyes from people while I was planning this trip- kind of like "if I can't afford to Hawaii how can you?" type of thing, but whatever. It was not nearly as expensive as I thought it was going to be, and my husband and I both busted our asses to make enough money for that trip to happen. And you know what? We're adults, and if we want to take a trip once in 12 years we can! You can too. Just plan it and make it happen. We watched plane ticket prices and bought when they were cheap, and we stayed at a moderately priced Marriot & bundled an economy-sized car with it for an extra $10 a day (the car was tiny, but it was just the two of us and it got great gas mileage! We drove a lot). We didn't really pay for any entertainment (no fancy helicopter rides or guided tours for us- we found free things to do ourselves and saved money), so we pretty much only paid for gas and food. We even splurged on a few fancy dinners, like the lobster and prime rib buffet at our hotel, because it was our last night there and we realized how little we had spent during the trip. So a trip like that is really as expensive as you decide to make it. We had an awesome time and made it affordable for us. We will definitely be taking some more trips just the two of us because we realized the awesome alone time we'd been missing all those years. I'm telling you, if you've never taken a couple's getaway to a tropical paradise- do it! 

This was our gorgeous sunrise view from the hotel pool.

Our sweet rental car. $20 a day & 42 miles/gallon. 

Since returning home from Hawaii, the crappy "is it spring yet?" Pacific Northwest weather has got me in a funk. It's cold, wet, gray, and I miss the sun. The lack of sunshine sometimes really affects me, I've noticed. I just get cranky and bored. I'm so ready for it to be spring so that I can plant my flowers and get started on my container garden again. 

Speaking of flowers, my husband got me some gorgeous ones after a pretty bad day. I called them my I'm-sorry-you're-pregnant-and-bitchy flowers. They smell so good and really brightened up my day.

That's all for now!

Pizza nights + timeless traditions {$25 cash giveaway!}

Monday, March 7, 2016

I don't know about you, but in our household, we eat a lot of pizza. It's fast, easy, and a pretty cheap way to feed the entire family with very little effort. These days, as a busy mom of three (with one more on the way) and a husband who works long hours, pizza tends to be my go-to at least one night a week. It might be a hectic school night where I don't have time to be in the kitchen, or an easy option on the weekend when we just want to sit around and watch a movie together. Whatever it is, pizza is a timeless tradition in our house!

When I was a kid, I remember pizza just being a once in a while thing. It was reserved for special occasions, like birthday parties, sleepovers, or our once in a great while treat when we'd (gasp) dine out or order in. It definitely wasn't something we got to eat all the time!

Me, circa 1986-ish, at a wedding.

Red Baron pizza has been around for 40 years and is the pizza I'm constantly reaching for when I hit the supermarket. My kids love a good cheese pizza, and Red Baron's is a hit! We like to add a little fresh basil on top of ours and I usually throw together a nice, big, green salad to serve along with it. My kids love veggies, just not on their pizza. I love that I can spend more time with them enjoying the food we love. 

Ready for some fun? Enter to win a $25 Visa gift card or PayPal cash to stock up on Red Baron pizzas and start your own timeless traditions with the ones you love. Simply enter on the Rafflecopter widget below! Please refer to the terms and conditions.

Check out the Red Baron website and take a stroll down memory lane while going through the last four decades. 

What's your favorite pizza memory?

So you have a crying baby...

Friday, March 4, 2016

Don't let this adorable little smile fool you. At first glance, my 19-month-old daughter, Harper, looks and acts like the sweetest little thing. Seriously, people comment on how great a baby we have all the time. She happily hangs out while I grocery shop, sits through about 2 1/2 hours of church each week, and hardly makes a peep or fusses in public. One person even asked me "Does that baby ever cry?" I laughed it off, but inside I was rolling my eyes and wanted to scream "If only you knew!" See, for the first few months of my sweet little Harper's life, she was a screamer. She'd cry, holler, and wail for hours during the day and night, and even as a three-time mom, I was at a loss of what to do. I mean, sure, my other babies cried, but there was always something I could do to console them in the end. With Harper, I felt like no matter what I did she still screamed just as loud and persistent- as if she had all this pent up screaming that she just had to get out and couldn't stop. It was awful for everyone.

I began to think something was seriously wrong with Harper. She'd scream at the same time every day for seemingly no reason. What was with the excessive crying? Why wasn't she happy? It was really taking a toll on my nerves and patience, and I felt so bad for her being so upset. I began to think something was seriously wrong with Harper. Her pediatrician thought she might have a touch of colic- meaning more than 3 hours of crying, for more than 3 days a week, for more than 3 weeks a month. Colic usually makes an appearance at 6 weeks of age and lasts for 3-4 months, or longer for some.

Thankfully, after a few weeks of persistent crying, I started to see a pattern and I found a few things that worked to help shorten the length of crying time. Here's a few things that helped for us:

Get a routine. This one is huge, because if you know when to expect the crying, at least you can prepare yourself (and everyone else) for it. I knew Harper did most of her crying in the evening, around dinnertime. When the big kids got home from school in the afternoon, I'd rush to help them with their homework, get them snacks, and figure out our dinner plan early. Then I'd make sure I had eaten, put my hair up, threw on some fresh, cozy clothes, take a few minutes to compose myself, and I'd prepare for Harper to get her cry on.

Wear your baby. I didn't discover this trick until my third baby, and I so wish I had sooner. Babywearing is a great way to calm an upset baby by keeping them close and secure to mama (or dad). For little babies, something like a wrap is great, while for bigger babies, I'd suggest a carrier-style. The wraps seem a little intimidating at first, but once your figure out a good position for you and baby you'll be a pro in no time. Harper was instantly calmed when I'd wear her- something about the tightness of the fabric around her and being so close to me helped make her feel more secure and would soothe her.

Burp, burp, and burp some more. and burp some more. I'm not sure why, but colicky babies seem to be gassier too, so extra burping is a must! As much as Harper hated it, I'd have to interrupt her eating to burp her very frequently. There was always a little burp that would come out! Sometimes she'd be crying and crying and I'd put her up on my shoulder and start patting her...even after 10 minutes or so a little burp would come out! So burp your colicky baby a lot.

Talk to your pediatrician. Trust me, the last thing I wanted to do was call Harper's doctor and say "Hi, she just won't stop crying. What should I do?" I mean, this was my 3rd baby- I should know what to do, right? Wrong. Every baby is different, and there's no shame in asking questions. Even veteran moms need some extra support! I was so happy when I finally called the doctor because she suggested GERBER® Soothe probiotic Colic Drops. These drops contain L. reuteri, which is a probiotic that is safe for infants and is naturally found in breastmilk. Research indicates that the type of bacteria in an infant's intestine may determine whether a child is colicky, and probiotics can support a balance of good bacteria in their digestive tract. While it's not intended to cure or treat any disease, it has been clinically shown to reduce crying time in colicky breastfed infants! I received a free sample of GERBER® Soothe probiotic Colic Drops from Gerber. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

If you're a formula feeding parent, Gerber also offers their GERBER® Good Start® Soothe Infant Formula, which also contains L. reuteri, and is specially designed to ease excessive crying and colic.

Do you have a crying, colicky baby? What are some of your best tips for soothing them? Have you ever considered a probiotic like GERBER® Soothe probiotic Colic Drops? Amazon has some amazing deals on them. I'm definitely keeping the house stocked with them for baby number four! 

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