Mía Mariu Makeup {Review}

I tend to be a beauty product snob.  I have certain brands I like and certain products I like and I rarely deviate from them.  Typically when I do, I end up disappointed.  Usually when I get offers from cosmetic companies to try their products, I decline,  however, I recently agreed to try a concealer, primer and mineral foundation. I had read a few blogger reviews of Mía Mariu and thought it was worth looking into.  Mía Mariu’s high performance products are formulated with the most natural ingredients available helping you achieve vibrant beauty and health inside and out.  Each unique product fuses nature and technology by combining the highest quality botanicals, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and peptides.

I had a few concerns after I agreed to do this review.  For starters, I was a little concerned that I had to choose my own shades of concealer and foundation.  I looked at the pictures online and chose the ones that I thought would work with my skin color. I chose Loose Powder Foundation is CMF02 and Cream Concealer in CCC02. I also was concerned because my skin is super dry and sensitive and it can look really flaky.  Last but not least, I have a crazy lupus rash that often covers my face and it can be tricky to cover it up!

When my Mía Mariu package arrived, my concerns turned into full fledged fear.  I was totally hesitant to try it out.  I had a few busy days filled with meetings and other craziness and didn’t feel like trying out new makeup which might cause me to look like a clown.  I packed the makeup in my suitcase and took it with me to New Hampshire and decided to try it out when I got there.

When I opened the products, the first thing I did was smell them (I know…I’m weird like that).  So many cosmetics have weird smells and if they smell bad I can’t stand to wear them.  I was pleasantly surprised that they had no overpowering odors.

I started by applying the Perfecting Finish Mineral Primer to my clean and freshly moisturized face.  The primer creates a smooth facial canvas allowing the foundation to glide on seamlessly, leaving a fresh natural look that lasts all day. It was runnier than I expected and a lot less waxy than other primers I’ve tried in the past.  A little bit went a long way and it didn’t take much to cover my face. I really liked the way it felt on my face.

Next I applied the Perfecting Finish Mineral Cream Concealer. It is an oil-free, vitamin packed, high intensity formula that effectively covers imperfections like dark spots, discoloration and blemishes for a perfect and even tone.  It promised to be perfectly balanced to match my skin tone without leaving ash tones or a chalky look.  The concealer was creamy and went on smoothly.  I used the concealer to cover up the red splotchy lupus rash areas of my face and under my eyes. I was amazed at how well it covered up and they weren’t lying about not looking chalky and overly made up!

Last but not least, I applied the mineral foundation.  It covered flawlessly and made my skin look natural.  I was shocked with the result.  My face looked fabulous!  When I walked into the other room, my husband told me how great I looked.  When I saw my mom later on that day, she commented on how great my skin looked.  I told her that I was trying out a new makeup brand and that I loved the way it looks on my skin!

I’ve now been using it for 3 weeks and I still love the way it looks.  If you’d like to try Mia Mariu, you can find the products you need to put your best face forward here.

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Celebrate Easter with Build-A-Bear

I received the following sweet bunnies and their adorable outfits from Build-A-Bear.  If they hadn’t sent them to me, I would have purchased them.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.   

Celebrate Easter with BuildABear

In our family, many significant moments have been marked by a trip to Build-A-Bear.  We took our oldest 2 girls to Build-A-Bear on their first day in America after we adopted them.  When we got legal custody of the twins, our first stop was again Build-A-Bear.  For each of our kids, Build-A-Bear is synonymous with feelings of celebration, acceptance, and family.  I love that Build-A-Bear is continually adding to their already fabulous collection of animals and special friends.  We’re able to find gifts for special occasions and every day events that deserve to be celebrated!

Easter is just around the corner and Build-A-Bear didn’t disappoint with their collection of bunnies.  I was torn between the Stripes-A-Lot bunny and the Pretty Petals bunny.  In the end, we went with the 16 inch Pretty Petals bunny for Shayna.  Picking a bunny for James was a much easier proposition.  The 17 inch Chocolate Bunny was the obvious choice for a little boy.  Not only did the twins get sweet new bunny friends, but their bunny friends were dressed to the nines…in outfits that were very similar to outfits the twins had. :)

The twins were elated to meet their new furry friends.  When I suggested we take some pictures with them, they donned their matching outfits and headed outside.

Our photo session started calmly enough…even if they were squinting because the sun was in their eyes.

BuildABear Easter

Things quickly got more animated as I was informed that the bunnies were circus performers!  The twins had a fabulous time tossing and twirling their bunnies!

BuildABear Circus

I was finally able to calm them down for one more “normal” picture before they headed inside to play!

BuildABear Easter with the Twins

Thanks Build-A-Bear for being a continual bright spot in the life of my kids!






Talking Shapes iPad App Review

Talking Fingers Review
One of the things I’ve struggled with in homeschooling is how to keep James learning without making things boring!  My goal is to catch him up to grade level academically, so when Talking Fingers, Inc. offerered me the chance to review their Talking Shapes iPad App, I jumped at the chance.  Let’s face it, “playing” on the iPad is way cooler than writing in books according to my son!

Talking Fingers Review
Talking fingers is an iPad app that helps to teach children about the alphabet, the sounds it makes, and the way those sounds become words.  It is a fun interactive learning tool that helps young readers understand how letters work and how they make words.  This product was developed by a neuropsychologist who used the most recent research on reading and learning to make an app that would help young learners to become skilled readers.  The research noted that struggling readers used the right side of their brains for reading, but that skilled readers use the left side of their brain for reading.  This app using pictures and words to help activate both side of the brain!  I was impressed that this science and research was put to such good use in a way that kids would not only get to play on the iPad, but they’d also be improving their learning and not causing a variety of issues that other online games can cause.  The app is a bargain at only $5.99 in the iTunes store.  I’ve spent a lot more than this on other tools to help with reading and not all of them have been as beneficial as Talking Shapes.

Talking Fingers Review
My son can typically work and focus for 30-45 minutes before he needs a break or a change of scenery.  Sometimes changing subjects does the trick, other times he wants “free time”. I started using the Talking Shapes iPad app when he got tired of whatever he was working on.  It was a great change of pace for him and he didn’t realize that he was actually learning.

While Talking Shapes is designed to give Preschoolers and Kindergarteners a head start on mastering reading, it could probably be used on slightly older kids who struggle with reading.   My son turns 8 in 2 weeks, but he is immature for his age.  While many parts of the app were enjoyable for him, there were times that he complained that it was too babyish for him.  Babyish or not, it has definitely been beneficial to him as far as reading goes.  We were already making progress in the area of reading and phonics, but after using the app, his reading seems more intuitive and less forced.  He doesn’t seem to be struggling as much either (which makes this mamas heart super happy)!

I’m a big fan of this app.  While it was at times to young for my son, I can’t argue with the results.  He enjoyed playing on the iPad.  I enjoyed watching him learn.  And we’re all enjoying the improved reading we’ve seen in the last 5 weeks.  I’m going to continue to use this with him to see if his reading continues to improve!

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KinderBach Piano Lessons Review

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this product through the Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for my honest feedback. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. As always, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own and those of my family and are honest. I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.

I love music and it has always been a huge part of my life. I grew up playing the piano and singing. I studied vocal performance in college. I taught piano lessons for a few years.  I even used part of my wedding budget to buy a baby grand piano.  And so I was thrilled when my son James told me he wanted to learn how to play the piano.  The only problem was, I didn’t want to be the one to teach him.  I enjoy teaching piano and I am willing to teach other people’s kids, but I think there are certain things that are better when not taught by your mom.  Piano lessons is one of those things!  When I heard about KinderBach and the chance to review The KinderBach Online Piano Lesson Membership with Teacher Corner, I was ecstatic.


I expected to like the program, but it’s even better than I anticipated because it breaks the learning down into really small chunks.  My son has a very short attention span.  The KinderBach videos are short, entertaining, and easy to follow.

My original intention with KinderBach was to watch a video and do the required activity on Monday, Wednesday and Friday of each week.  Unfortunately, the past 5 weeks have been chaotic around here as my father-in-law was very very sick and then he passed away. While we didn’t stick to the Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule I had originally planned, we still were able to get in at least 3 lessons a week because the lessons are short and easy to sneak in.

When you purchase The KinderBach Online Piano Lesson Membership with Teacher Corner, you’ll get access to all the lessons and you can watch them on your computer,  iPad, Kindle Fire, Android Tablet or Nook.  We used the iPad for watching the videos because in our house, everything is considered more exciting when watched on the iPad.  You’ll also get access to pdfs that go along with each lesson.  I printed off lessons one week at a time.  There were times when my son enjoyed lessons so much that we did multiple lessons in one day.  The KinderBach Online Piano Lesson Membership with Teacher Corner is geared for kids ages 3-7, however, if your kids are on the older side of that spectrum, you can probably fly through the first few weeks of lessons or you may want to do multiple days of lessons at a time like we did.  I wanted to make sure that music continues to be viewed as a treat and something fun, so I let James decide how many lessons we did at a time.  He almost always wanted to do at least 2 or 3.  He loves doing the activities, but he is happiest when he gets to sit at the keyboard.

The price for The KinderBach Online Piano Lesson Membership with Teacher Corner is only $95.88 per year which is WAY less than you’d pay for private piano lessons. It’s definitely worth it if you have young children who want beginner piano lessons. It’s fun for kids and it’s fun for parents to watch them blossom into a little musician.

This gets my whole-hearted approval.  It’s easy to use, fun for kids, and totally worth the price!

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SchoolhouseTeachers.com Review

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I just started homeschooling 2 and a half months ago so to say that this is all new and somewhat daunting would be an understatement.  When I got the opportunity to review the Yearly Membership Option from SchoolhouseTeachers.com, I jumped at the chance.  Let’s face it, when you have a child that’s way behind and you’re hoping to catch up on 2 years of learning in 1 year, you want every bit of help you can get…especially when that help is coming from people who have been there done that!

The SchoolhouseTeachers.com website is laid out in a way that is extremely easy to navigate and has clearly defined categories.  You can choose from Teachers, Pre-K/Elementary, Middle School/High School, Families, Dailies, Extras, Library, or Samples.  There is also a Site tour option.  I started with the Pre-K/Elementary section since the twins are in 1st grade, but working at a Kindergarten level.

When I clicked on Pre-K/Elementary, I was shocked at the amount of options available.  There were lots of different subjects as well as some animated books.  While some of the options seemed a little advanced for where we’re at, there were other options that were awesome! I LOVED the Home Ec section.

Since the twins have lived with us for less than a year, they have quite a few habits that need to be addressed.  I don’t always want to be harping on them all the time so I’ve been looking for a good way to teach them the importance of good habits. The home ec subject for this week is Good Habits and Teamwork.

The twins were tickled pink to see a picture of a little boy picking his nose as an example of a bad habit.

Other types of Bad Habits would be:

  • Eating candy and leaving the trash on the floor
  • Using the last of the toilet paper and not replacing it with a new roll
  • Interrupting while people are talking

A habit is similar to the patterns that we talked about before—continually doing something without a desire to change results in a pattern of (usually) getting into trouble.

When I read this to the kids and showed them the picture, it was a total lightbulb moment.  I loved seeing how excited they have been to make changes. A few different times I’ve noticed them take the wrapper off of something and throw it on the floor and then catch themselves and pick it up and put it in the garbage!  That makes me soooo happy!

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After exploring the Pre-K/Elementary section and choosing some lessons to use, I headed over to the dailies section.  We’ve been doing some spelling words at home, but it’s hard to come up with new activities every week.  The Pre-K/K spelling section had spelling words for each week along with activities to go along with them.  All I had to do was print off the spelling activity for each day.  Once I explained the directions, James was able to do most of the activities on his own.  He really enjoyed most of them and when he told Shayna about them, she wanted to do them too.  I think this will really help them increase their vocabulary and their grasp of written and spelled words.

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If you’re looking organize your homeschooling efforts, you’ll find some awesome homeschool planners under the Extras tab.  I’m hoping that over Christmas, I will have some extra time to sit down and do some serious planning for 2014.  So far, homeschooling has gone pretty smoothly (considering we decided to pull the twins out of school in October), but with some planning, I think the next part of the year could go even better.

One of the best parts of SchoolhouseTeachers.com is that it has something for kids of every age.  I found things that I could use to supplement my older girls (Sophomore and Senior) school education in addition to all the things I found to help out the twins.  One membership gives you a whole lot of info!

I thought the price of SchoolhouseTeachers.com was quite reasonable for what you get.  You can pay $139 for a yearly membership or you can choose a month to month option at $12.95 per month.  If you’re interested in a yearly membership, December is the time to buy. When you pay $139, you’ll receive a FREE copy of the 2014 Print Issue when it is released (US only), Schoolhouse Library AND a free 1-year membership to SchoolhouseTeachers.com to give to a friend.  You can take care of Christmas for a friend while doing something awesome for yourself and your family!

If you’re looking to take your homeschooling to the next level or if you just need some new ideas, extra help with curriculum, and some encouraging articles, I highly recommend SchoolhouseTeachers.com.


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Our Day Out With Thomas

I shared before that my twins absolutely love trains, but my son James is obsessed with them. He has long discussions with my husband about types of trains, train conductors (which he calls train masters), and what he thinks each car might be carrying.  So when I saw that Thomas the Train was coming to the Indianapolis area, I knew that the twins would be delighted!  I told them I had a surprise for them, but I didn’t tell them what it was.  All week they looked forward to their “surprise”.  They asked a zillion questions each day and begged us to tell, but we held our ground til the morning of our adventure.  As we headed off to Connersville, they asked for a hint.  I said “It goes chugga, chugga, chugga, chugga” and my son yelled “Chuck-E-Cheese”.  We all got quite a chuckle, but they quickly figured out we were headed for a ride on a train…and not just any train, but Thomas!

When we pulled up to the station, we saw this train!

I headed to Will-Call to pick up our tickets and was delighted to see Thomas up close and in person!

When we had our tickets in hand, we headed to the line and waited to board. It was a short wait and we quickly hopped on the train. We chose Coach #10 which was built in 1923.

We thoroughly enjoyed our ride on the train. It was about 25 minutes long and the kids enjoyed the whole experience.  The kids were especially impressed with the conductor.  They thought he was so handsome in his uniform.

(Don’t mind Shayna, she wasn’t thrilled with getting her picture taken while there were bounce houses to jump in).  After the twins jumped in the bounce house, James, Shayna, and Khrystyna all got Thomas tattoos.  We finished the day with the kids getting their picture taken on another train.

If you get a chance to spend a Day Out With Thomas, I highly recommend it. It’s great fun for the entire family!!!

Disclosure: I was provided with tickets to Day Out with Thomas in exchange for my thoughts on this experience.  I was not required to write a positive review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own!

Disney On Ice: Worlds of Fantasy

Disney on Ice Worlds of Fantasy

I posted a few weeks ago about how excited I was that Disney On Ice was coming to town!  I’ve been a huge Disney on Ice fan for over 15 years and when Sunday finally rolled around, I was not disappointed!

We came right from church on Sunday to the Coliseum and arrived early enough to have time to get to our seats and get some food!  I was delighted to see that Mickey and Minnie were emceeing the show (I wasn’t expecting to see them).


My son was excited that the show started off with Cars.  I thought the Cars scene was cute, but it was short.

When Sebastian skated out, followed by the Little Mermaid, I was mesmerized!  I’ve always loved The Little Mermaid and the Disney on Ice version did not disappoint.  The costumes were phenomenal.  I really loved the Seahorses.  I was quite sad to see The Little Mermaid end.

My little girl loves the Disney Fairies and was quite thrilled with all the color and flying during the Disney Fairies sequence.

While we all came expecting to love different things, for all of us, our favorite was Toy Story!  The costumes were amazing!  Look at how awesome Mr. & Mrs. Potato Head are!

And since my family and friends call me T-Rex because of my short arms, everyone was excited to see a skating T-Rex.

The whole show was outstanding and we absolutely loved it. To see more pictures from Disney on Ice, head on over to my Facebook page or follow me on Instagram!

Thanks Feld Entertainment for providing me with 4 tickets to the show (I bought the 5th and was happy to do it).  Although the tickets were provided to me, the opinions are my own and are 100% honest.  If you have a chance to head out to see Disney on Ice, I highly recommend it.

Carmex Lotion and Cream {Review & Giveaway}

I remember my first little tin of Carmex.  I thought it was the greatest thing ever.  And over the years, Carmex has continued to introduce some great new products.  I absolutely love the Lip Conditioner.  It smells like a Creamsicle and does wonders for my super dry lips.

I’m always willing to try something new and so when Carmex offered to send me their new Hydrating Lotion and Healing Cream, I jumped on it.  I have the world’s driest skin.  Seriously, it’s horribly dry and flaky. And I’m not the only one in my family with ridiculously dry skin.  The twins have horribly dry skin too. I was quite impressed with both the healing cream and the hydrating lotion.  The healing cream was thicker and richer and worked better for my skin, but I’m sure if your skin isn’t as dry as mine, the hydrating lotion would work just fine for you! And one of you is going to get to try it out!  Fill out the Rafflecopter form to be entered to win!

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Dyson: Mom’s Best Friend {Review}

Dyson DC 24 Makes Teenagers Enjoy Vacuuming

Diamonds are a girl’s best friend and dogs are man’s best friend, but no one ever talks about what Mom’s Best Friend is.  In case you’ve ever wondered, I’m here to tell you that I’m pretty sure it’s a Dyson vacuum.

My teenagers like to lay on the floor to watch movies and play video games.  To add to that, my husband has both allergies and asthma and our house is a constant construction zone.  We’ve been working on projects in our house since we moved in 3 years ago and many of these are drywall projects.  If you’ve ever worked with drywall, I’m sure you’re aware that it can lead to a fine dust that gets on every single item in your house!  It’s horrible.  It wreaks havoc on my husband’s lungs and leaves dust all over the girls clothes…especially if they lay on the floor. It used to seem like we would vacuum daily, but still be left with dust everywhere.

Thankfully, we now have a Dyson DC24 Ball Multi Floor Vacuum Cleaner.  It’s perfect for keeping the dust (and crumbs and dirt from soccer cleats) at bay!

When our Dyson Vacuum arrived, my girls actually fought over who got to vacuum first {I’m pretty sure that’s a first…teenagers fighting over who gets to vacuum}.  My youngest daughter vacuumed our entire house every day for the first week we had it.  The novelty has since worn off and the Dyson D24 does such a good job that she’s down to vacuuming the whole house only twice a week now.

The Dyson DC24Multi Floor is lightweight and bagless.  It weighs less than 12 pounds so lugging it between the 1st and 2nd floors at our house is pretty painless.

One of my favorite features (and my husband’s) is the lifetime washable HEPA filter that traps microscopic allergens.  I love knowing that we’re doing everything we can to keep asthma attacks and allergy flare-ups to a minimum.

If you asked my kids what their favorite feature is, they’d most likely mention the ball technology or the reversible wand.  Those 2 features allow you to easily steer in tight places, vacuum crumbs up from under the kitchen counters, and get the cobwebs out of the corners.  {What?  You don’t have cobwebs?  Oh…me either…}.

It also has a motorized brush bar which makes it easy to ground in dirt and pet hair from carpets.  The motorized brush bar switches off for hard floors.

I thought that after a few uses, I would find things that I didn’t care for about this vacuum, but I honestly can’t come up with a single thing I don’t like and I’ve been using this vacuum for months!  I never thought I’d ever love a household appliance or cleaning item, but this is the one.  I’m completely smitten!  Not only has it transformed our house (way less dusty and dirty), but it has also transformed my children’s personalities (they’re now willing to vacuum any time I ask.)  They even vacuum without me asking!

To purchase your very own Dyson DC 24 Vacuum, click here!

Disclosure:  Dyson provided me with the Dyson DC 24 Multi Floor Vacuum in order to facilitate this review.  As always, all opinions are my own and are true and honest! {This is seriously the best vacuum I’ve ever owned or used!}

Father’s Day Gift Idea: Custom Photo Cufflinks

Father's Day Gift Idea: Photo Cufflinks

Father’s Day is just around the corner!  Even though I’ve been talking about it for weeks here on the blog, it snuck on me…just like it usually does.  Our family is on vacation in Tennessee this week and I just haven’t been in my normal routine.

Thankfully, I’ve already taken care of the hardest person on my Father’s Day shopping list.  My dad is super hard to shop for.  He’s always appreciative of whatever we get him, but I always stress out trying to find him something he doesn’t already have.  The man has everything!  He has lots of cool gadgets, tons of books and more ties than anyone I know.  Seriously…and he dresses well too.  This year, we’ve decided to capitalize on his sense of style and his love for his grandkids by making custom photo cufflinks for him.

They’re super easy to make thanks to PhotoJewelryMaking.com. The Easy Change Photo Cufflinks are super cool looking before you even begin to customize them.  They look good enough to wear as they are, but it’s super easy to add a photo to customize the cufflinks!

All you need to do is use the handy-dandy EZ Photo Resizer Software to crop the photo you want to use to the right size.  Print off your photo and cut it out. Then unscrew the  cufflink top, insert the photo, cover the photo with the included plastic cover and screw the top back on your cufflinks.  Wasn’t that easy?

You can also use fabric swatches or scrabook paper to customize your cufflinks.  These would also look great with a monogram (another thing that is super easy to do with the EZ Photo Resizer Software).

We used one photo of each of our daughters on the cufflinks.  I let my girls each choose the photo they wanted to use.  The best part is that as they get older and become too cool for the photos in the cufflinks  (something that teenagers regularly do), we can choose new photos and easily change out the cufflink photos.  {I’ll post pictures of my finished product soon.  I’m on vacation and my computer is being quirky about uploading the pictures.  I’m sure you’ll be impressed when you see them because they turned out super cute!}

If you’re looking for a fun and unusual gift for your dad, I highly recommend the Easy Change Photo Cufflinks from PhotoJewelryMaking.com.  {Quite honestly, PhotoJewelryMaking.com has cool gifts for most of the people on your gift list this year.  I love the necklace I made with their necklace kit.}

Click here to check out PhotoJewelryMaking.com!

This review was made possible by Mom Spark Media.  As always, all thoughts and opinions are true, honest, and my own!

Cube Dog: The Perfect Family Pet

Thank you to Cube Dog for sponsoring this review. For more information about Cube Dog please visit the Facebook page or download it on iTunes.

I love dogs, but with the amount of time my family spends traveling, it’s not very practical to own a dog.  Throw in all the extracurricular activities my kids are involved in and it would be downright irresponsible of me to get a dog!

But that doesn’t stop my girls from asking…every. single. day!  It can really start to wear on a mom!  When I found out about the Cube Dog app for my iphone, I thought that it might mollify my girls, but instead of being excited, I got a whole lot of eye rolling!

Not to be deterred, I went about creating my cube dog.  She’s pink with a cute little mouth and adorable ears!  I can’t believe how smitten I was.  My new pet was funny and fun!

I brought Kiki, my cube dog into my daughter Khrystyna’s room and let her play on the bed.  I even took a picture!

Kiki the Cube Dog

Once Khrystyna saw how cute the little pup was, she wanted in on the action and immediately began the task of creating her own cube dog.  She named her cube dog Krissy and enjoyed watching her sleep as well as transforming her into a ninja dog!  It’s amazing how many tricks these dogs can do!

Krissy the Ninja Cube Dog

My oldest daughter is creating her Cube Dog as I type.  This has definitely been a huge hit with our family!

The Cube Dog is extremely easy to create and fun to play with plus it’s FREE…which is always a bonus in my book.  You can choose to buy upgrades if you’d like, but in my opinion,  it’s not necessary.

Wanna see for yourself just how fun and fabulous these new Cube Dogs are? Check out this video!

Now that you’ve seen just how fabulous the Cube Dog is, you’ll want to keep your eye on the Cube Dog Facebook Page.  They’ll be having a fun contest from June 13th-17th.

While Cube Dog provided me with the app to review, the opinions I’ve expressed here are solely my own and represent my honest viewpoint. Cube Dog, Clever Girls Collective and I promote Blog With Integrity.

It’s National Swimsuit Confidence Week

Lands' End National Swimsuit Confidence WeekIf you’d have told me 2 years ago that I’d be participating in National Swimsuit Confidence Week, I would have laughed out loud.  When you’re 95 pounds overweight, the idea of wearing your bathing suit in front of people you know is daunting enough.  Posting a picture in a bathing suit on the internet…out of the question.

As moms, I think we let body image issues stop us from enjoying life to the fullest.  We miss out on enjoying life with our kids and our kids miss out on things because we’re unwilling to put on a bathing suit and strut our stuff in front of the world.

A few summers ago, I took our girls to a water park.  I was absolutely mortified to have to walk around the park in a bathing suit with a cover up.  It was even worse when they wanted me to hit the slides with them.  I had to walk up a gazillion steps in just my bathing suit.  Although it wasn’t the idea situation, my girls thought it was one of the best days ever.  When they look back on that day, they don’t remember my thighs jiggling or my cellulite, they remember a mom who was willing to go down the slides with them…even the big scary ones.

And so in an effort to get all you moms out there to participate fully in your kids’ lives and to motivate myself to lose the next 45 pounds (I’ve lost 50 pounds so far), I’m participating in National Swimsuit Confidence with Lands’ End and I’m posting a picture of myself in a bathing suit.

National Swimsuit Confidence Week photo - Lisa from http://simplifiedsaving.com

I absolutely love the swimsuit I’m wearing.  Lands’ End sent me the Women’s Beach Living Dot Scoop Tankini Swimsuit Top in Bright Coral Bloom and the  Women’s Beach Living Swimsuit Bottom with Tummy Control.  Not only was I able to choose a bathing suit size, but I was also able to choose a cup size, so my top fits well.  The straps can be crisscrossed in the back for a totally different look or cinched at the armhole to change the look of the front of the suit.

Lands’ End is a great choice for bathing suits that fit any body type.  The National Swimsuit Confidence movement was created to celebrate women of all shapes and sizes and inspire them to have fun this summer.  And you can join in on the celebration too!

Here’s how you can participate:

Participate in a Week of Tweets – Mark your calendar  each day May 23 – 27, 2011 from 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. CDST so you can join in the series of National Swimsuit Confidence Week events on Twitter.

Follow @LandsEndPR and tweet at #landsend.

They will be announcing exclusive swimwear promotions, giving away great prizes and inspiring women to embrace their swimsuit beauty.

Get the Twibbon – Go to http://twibbon.com/join/I-Have-Swimsuit-Confidence-2 and display the “I have swimsuit confidence!” Twibbon on your Twitter profile photo. Send a tweet to @LandsEndPR proclaiming “I have swimsuit confidence!” #landsend for a chance to be entered to win a $500 Lands’ End gift card. The  winner will be announced May 27.

Disclosure: I was provided with the Lands’ End swimsuit I am wearing in a picture. All thoughts and opinions are my own. I wholeheartedly support the National Swimsuit Confidence campaign or I would never agreed to post a picture in my swimsuit! :-)

Cardi Wrap: Scarf, Shawl, Cardigan & Wrap

It’s that time of year where the weather should be warm and sunny, but unfortunately, the weather is being a little uncooperative.  Our daily high temps have varied from the mid 40s to the mid 70s (and that’s just in the last few weeks). It makes it a little trickier to get dressed when you don’t know if the sun is going to make an appearance and warm up the day or if the temperature is going to drop.

I recently had the opportunity to try the Cardi Wrap…a lightweight scarf, shawl, cardigan and wrap in one.  I figured it would be the perfect transition piece between the seasons (and I am still holding out hope that spring will eventually get here and stay for a while).  I chose my Cardi Wrap in red since I tend to wear black every day and I knew the pop of color would be a nice change.

When it arrived, I immediately began playing with all the options available.  You can wear it over 50 different ways!  I tried a whole bunch of different options, but my favorite was to wear it as a cardigan either with or without a belt.

Please excuse my unpainted steps. My husband just built them for us. Also, don't mind my squinty eyes. I probably should have had my sunglasses on my face instead of holding back my hair.

It also came with an accessory kit to help create the wide variety of styles.  There were bangles in gold, silver, and black and  cute flower and bow pins that were the color of the Cardi Wrap.  I attached the flower pin to a ribbon and wore it as a headband and it was adorable!

If you’re thinking of ordering a Cardi Wrap, keep in mind that in my opinion, it runs small.  You can choose from 2 sizes…Misses or Plus.  I ordered the Plus (I’m a size 16) and I couldn’t pull off some of the options because the Cardi Wrap was too small.

The Cardi Wrap is great to throw on over jeans and a black tee shirt and it’s the perfect weight for this crazy time of year, but it’s not quite as versatile a piece as I had hoped it would be.

To learn more about Cardi Wrap, click here.

Disclosure: This post was written for Family Review Network & Cardi Wrap who provided the complimentary product for review in exchange for my honest opinions.

Dr. Bizer’s VisionWorld Review

Great Prices on Glasses
For YEARS, my husband has been needing glasses.  He knows that he has an astigmatism, which gives everything he sees a shadow.  I also have an astigmatism and periodically he would try on my glasses, only to be amazed at how CLEAR the world could be!  But as I mentioned, for years he has neglected going to the eye doctor and actually getting a pair of glasses.  He is a youth pastor and father of 3 with a very busy schedule.  His days are generally packed full of meetings, sermon preparation and time with volunteers and students.  His schedule is also different every day, so planning appointments is quite difficult.

Thankfully, we have a Dr. Bizer’s VisionWorld nearby.  I had noticed Dr. Bizer’s many times at West Town Mall in Knoxville, Tennessee but had never stopped in until I recently went in with my husband.  The whole experience was very positive. The staff at Dr. Bizer’s was very friendly and they took Brian back quickly.  The best part is that no appointment was required.  And while he had his eye appointment and chose glasses, my girls and I walked through the mall, played on the playground and went to the Disney store .  He was actually done before we were even ready to go!

I was also impressed with the selection of glasses.  I always choose lower priced glasses because my children like to bend and break them.  Unfortunately, most eye doctor’s offices carry very few inexpensive glasses and TONS of high cost glasses.  This was not the case with Dr. Bizer’s.  There were plenty of lower priced glasses to chose from, in addition to designer frames like Nine West, AX and Candies.  My husband, of course, chose a pair of GUESS frames that cost a bit more.  He takes better care of his stuff, so spending a bit more for him is not a waste at all.

He also chose Polarized lenses and UV Protection.  Adding these options meant waiting a bit longer for the lenses to be special ordered.  But since he’s waited YEARS for glasses in the first place, he really didn’t mind a few extra days.  And look at how handsome he looks! You and yours can look this great too with Dr. Bizer’s, so be sure to check out their coupons & specials, as well as offers & contests on Facebook.  Also, if you have a Dr. Bizer’s location near you, make sure to print this coupon while it’s available!

Disclosure: Dr. Bizer’s VisionWorld provided my husband with an eye exam and glasses in order to facilitate this review.

Share Videos: Check out KinKast


I am a complete iPhone addict.  My iPhone is never far from my side during the day.  I am constantly checking my email, moderating comments, taking pictures, and shooting videos.  Since my hubby frequently travels, I regularly take videos of my daughter’s basketball games so that he doesn’t miss out on any of the big moments!

I recently discovered a new app that makes sharing videos so much easier.  I can share them with multiple people AND my videos are all backed up on a server!  It’s called KinKast.

Check out the KinKast Demo video here!

The KinKast app is the easiest way to privately share video clips.  Record a moment and share it with only two taps!

  • No waiting (video uploads in the background)
  • Easily share with friends (they receive a private link with no login required)
  • No size or length limits
  • Safely back up your important memories KinKast servers
  • Can also post on Facebook
  • Last but not least: It’s a free download from iTunes.

How cool is that?

The KinKast App is free, but if you want more features, you can sign up for the Premium Plan which gives you:

  • Unlimited storage on KinKast servers
  • Access to ALL videos, ALL the time
  • Videos safely backed up
  • No Ads
  • Peace of mind

All for only $4.99/month or $49.99/year.

I’ve only used the free version of KinKast and I have been extremely happy with it.  KinKast was super easy to download and extremely easy to use.  It’s easy to post your videos on Facebook too!  As an added bonus, I can also upload the videos I’ve taken with my Flip or digital camera to the KinKast site.  They automatically upload to my KinKast app the next time I open it!  It’s a great way to keep all my video content in one place and to be able to share it easily.

The only thing that was a little tricky was remembering to use the KinKast app rather than my regular camera app to take my videos.  Once I remembered to do that it was totally easy peasy.

If you have an iPhone or an iPad touch, I highly recommend the KinKast app!  You’ll wonder how you shared videos before you had it!

Visit the iTunes store to download KinKast Video Sharing – KinKast, Inc.

Disclosure:  This post was brought to you by Zooka Creative.  The KinKast app I used was free, but I was compensated for sharing my thoughts on it.  As usual, all thoughts are my own.  I was not required to write a positive review.

MiniMonos: An EcoFabulous Virtual World for Kids That Gives Back {Review}

My youngest daughter loves online games.  She’s always asking to go online to play games, so when I heard about MiniMonos, a virtual world for good green kids, I was excited to check it out…and so was she.

The first thing that caught my eyes was their dedication to providing clean water for those in India.  I was a P&G Changent (Change Agent) for their Clean Water program this year and believe strongly in the importance of clean water in developing countries.  MiniMonos donates 1 day of clean water for each one month Gold Membership purchased on their site and if you purchase a one year Gold Membership, a child in India gets 2 weeks of clean water.

As I began to explore the site, I was immediately drawn to how safe it was for kids.  There weren’t any of those crazy ads that take you to other sites.  MiniMonos is also all about sustainability and green living.  If you don’t clean your lagoon, the fish don’t come back.  If you don’t recycle, your tree house gets messy.  When you’re dressing your monkey, you can even choose from recycled tees!

As a mom, I was definitely impressed.  My daughter was also impressed.  Here’s what she had to say:

The MiniMonos game is so much fun.  You get to discover new people and new places.  You also get to make your own house.  IN the beginning of the game, you start off with the monkey that they give you, but then you can change your monkey’s hair color and style.  You can choose your color of your shirt and everything like that.  You can earn points by playing the games and get banana chips when you’re a gold member.

While you are in the game, you can chat with people or if you have friends you can send them an invitation  and ask them to play with you.  Also, there are a lot of places that you can go to and play games at.

I didn’t like how you had to figure out how to play the game, but I did like the when you’re in the game, you can be different things or wear different things. This is my view of MiniMonos and how fun it is.

If you’re looking for a fun, safe, and green online game, you’ll definitely want to check out MiniMonos.

Disclosure:  I received a free Gold Membership to MiniMonos in order to facilitate this review.  No other compensation was received.  All opinions are my own and those of my daughter.  This review was made possible by FRN.

Rothschild Coat A Review & Giveaway {CLOSED}

Growing up, there were two gifts we always knew we could count on from Grandma: our yearly Easter dresses and our winter coats. Grandma always lived on a modest budget (she was a pastor’s wife, as I am), but she believed in buying quality items that would last. One of the brands she purchased time and time again was Rothschild Coats. This company has been making quality children’s coats in the US for 125 years. Many of you probably grew up wearing their classic wool coats, which I LOVE.

When I went to their website recently, I thought that’s all I would find…but OH NO! In addition to their beautiful wool coats, I also found adorable everyday jackets, to-die-for faux fur coats, trendy little bomber jackets and more! My sis and I were on the phone ooh-ing and ahh-ing at all of the different coats.

You see I have 3 little girls under the age of 5, so high-quality, beautiful items get me very excited. I have purchased coats in the past that have torn or came apart in one season. Poor quality like that just isn’t acceptable when I need a coat to last 3 children. Let me tell you, the Rothschild coat that Ella will be wearing this season will definitely stand the test of time. It’s called the Sporty Snowflake Jacket in cocoa.

When it arrived, I found it much cuter than it even appeared on the website. It’s the perfect weight jacket, warm but not bulky or heavy. My daughter hates to wear anything restricting, and you can see from the pics that she feels free to pose and play in this coat.

It also comes with a matching hat and scarf (a big money saver). Plus, the hood is removable, which is a huge help when you have little ones in car-seats and boosters…those of you who have been there know what I’m talking about!

This coat is such a hit at my house and it could be at yours too…  One lucky reader of Simplified Saving will win a Sporty Snowflake coat in a size 5/6.

Want to Win? One lucky reader of Simplified Saving will win a Sporty Snowflake Coat in cocoa in a size 5/6.

Ways to Enter:

  1. Subscribe to Simplified Saving by Email
  2. Subscribe to Simplified Saving in a Reader
  3. “Like” Simplified Saving on Facebook
  4. Follow Simplified Saving (@SimplifiedSavin) on Twitter
  5. Follow Simplified Saving on Google Friend Connect (found in the footer…scroll all the way down to the bottom of the blog)
  6. “Like” Rothschild Kids on Facebook

The Fine Print: If you already subscribe, like, or follow me, that counts as well!  Please leave a separate comment for each entry. Comments that just say “I want to win” or “Thanks for the giveaway” will be disqualified! This contest will end on November 15, 2010 at 8 pm Eastern Time. This giveaway is limited to US residents only  18 years old and above.  Winner will be chosen at random.

Disclosure:  Rothschild generously provided me with a coat to review as well as the coat for the giveaway.  No other compensation was received.

Brilliant Lenses Cleaner Giveaway {CLOSED}

I always have gunk on my sunglasses.  I’m not sure if it’s the bad habit I have of eating in the car (and then adjusting my sunglasses with food covered fingers) or if it’s tiny little elves who dance around in syrup and other sticky stuff and then dance on my glasses.  All I know is that I’m constantly working to get them clean.  And don’t even get me started on how bad the screen of my iPhone can get!  I recently found something that works to keep both my sunglasses and my iPhone sparkling:  Brilliant Lenses Cleaner and optical microfiber cloth.  Brilliant Lenses is a premium eyeglass cleaner with SR-8 that adds a protective barrier to lenses to resist scratches and soiling from water, sweat, dust and dirt. For ALL types of lenses. And it comes in a little pouch that you can keep in your purse.  I love that I can pull it out and wipe down my phone anytime I accidentally get a little of my lunch on it.

Want to Win?

One lucky winner of Simplified Saving will win a Brilliant Lenses cleaner and optical microfiber cloth!

Mandatory Entry: Like Brilliant Lenses on Facebook or follow Brilliant Lenses on Twitter.

Bonus Entries:

The Fine Print: If you already subscribe, like, or follow me, that counts as well!  Please leave a separate comment for each entry. Comments that just say “I want to win” or “Thanks for the giveaway” will be disqualified! This contest will end on Monday, November 8th at 9 pm Eastern Time. This giveaway is limited to US residents only  18 years old and above.  Winner will be chosen at random.

Product review & giveaway disclosure: I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Sponsored by Tomoson.com

Suave Naturals Review and Giveaway {CLOSED}

I am a bath and beauty product junkie and I’ve passed this trait on to my daughters (which would make me believe that nurture may truly triumph over nature, but that’s a-whole-nother post for a different day).  While we do use separate skin care products for our faces (I swear by Terralina and they use Oxy), my girls think it’s totally OK to share my bodywash and lotion (and by share I mean take it up to their bathroom never to be seen again).

After one too many showers where I had to use my husband’s manly smelling body wash, I came up with a solution.  The girls get their own “scents” and I get my own “scent”.  If you’re looking for a great bodywash on a budget, you’ll definitely want to check out the new Suave Naturals line.  With scents like Mango Mandarin, Wild Cherry Blossom, and my girls’ favorite Lavender Vanilla, you’ll find that you can get a spa experience in the presence of your own home.

Not only do the girls love the scent of the Lavender Vanilla, but they also love the feeling of it on their skin.  K said that the bodywash was relaxing and that the lotion made her skin feel really soft and smooth.  A told me the body wash calmed her down and the lotion kept her legs from being dry and itchy.

What do I love about Suave Naturals?  I love that it’s given me back my bathroom.  The prices are so affordable that I can afford to buy plenty of body wash and lotion to go around.  I can buy multiple bottles for the girls so that when the run out, they don’t come and steal mine! And there is even a coupon for $1 off Suave Naturals Lotion!

Want to Win?

One lucky winner of Simplified Saving will win a Suave Naturals Body Wash and a Suave Naturals Body Lotion in their choice of one of three scents:

  • Mango Mandarin
  • Wild Cherry Blossom
  • Lavender Vanilla

Mandatory Entry: Leave a comment telling me which scent you’d like to try most!

Bonus Entries:

The Fine Print: If you already subscribe, like, or follow me, that counts as well!  Please leave a separate comment for each entry. Comments that just say “I want to win” or “Thanks for the giveaway” will be disqualified! This contest will end on Tuesday, November 9th at 9 pm Eastern Time. This giveaway is limited to US residents only  18 years old and above.  Winner will be chosen at random.

Disclosure: This review was made possible by Suave in conjunction with Mom Spark Media.  I was provided with free product in order to facilitate my review.  All opinions expressed were my own and those of my daughters. No other compensation was received.

The Simple Stencil Review and Giveaway {CLOSED}

Our house is a perpetual work in progress…and it’s finally starting to come together!  Over the last 2 years, it seems like we’ve worked on our house non-stop.  We’ve replaced plumbing, we’ve added a bathroom, we’ve redone all the flooring, we’ve changed out light fixtures, we poured a cement floor in the basement, we’ve redone the porches and we completely remodeled the kitchen.

We’re now at the point where we only have a few items left on our to do-list and one of those things is decorating!  As I’m sure most of you are aware, decorating can be quite expensive.  Finding pictures and mirrors to hang on the wall can be difficult and when you do find something you like, lots of times the cost is prohibitive.  It can be quite frustrating!

Fortunately, I’ve figured out a way to take my walls from drab to fab…The Simple Stencil! The Simple Stencil features vinyl wall transfers and lettering that you can use to spruce up the walls in your home office.  They’re easy to apply, look as if they’re custom painted and are also removable.

Check out my video below to see just how easy it is to use.  {Warning:  I am not wearing a stitch of makeup in this video and didn’t realize how scary I looked til I was finished applying the wall transfer to the wall at which point it was too late to go back and re-do the video.}

See how easy that is!

Want to Win?

One lucky reader is going to win a wall transfer from The Simple Stencil (with a value up to $30).

Ways to Enter:

You can enter to win by doing one or more of the following.  Just make sure to leave a separate comment for each!

  • Tweet about this giveaway.  You can use this message if you’d like:  Take your walls from drab to fab! Enter to #win this great #giveaway from @SimpleStencils & @SimplifiedSavin: http://bit.ly/aZnTW5
  • Share this giveaway on your Facebook page
  • Blog about this giveaway
  • Add my button to the sidebar of your blog.  Just copy this code and add it to your sidebar: <a href=”http://simplifiedsaving.com/”> <img border=”0″ alt=”Simplified Saving” src=” http://simplifiedsaving.com/img/simplifiedButton.png”/></a>

The Fine Print: If you already subscribe, like, or follow me, that counts as well!  Please leave a separate comment for each entry. Comments that just say “I want to win” or “Thanks for the giveaway” will be disqualified! This contest will end on Thursday, November 4th at 9 pm Eastern Time. This giveaway is limited to US residents only  18 years old and above. Winner will be drawn using Random.org.

Disclosure: The Simple Stencil provided the wall transfer that took my wall from drab to fab and they are kind enough to provide a wall stencil for one of you as well! All opinions expressed here are my own and I truly am “wowed” by what a difference a wall transfer can make on a boring wall! No other compensation was received.
This Product Was a Free Giveaway