Friday, June 27, 2014

It's Summer!!

Saturday was the first day of summer, and as I've done with fall, winter, and spring, I wanted to celebrate the good things about summertime!

1. Watermelon: I could eat my weight in watermelon. It's the most delicious fruit in the world, nay, the universe. So far this summer I've gone through a mere two watermelons by myself, but we still have plenty of time.

2. More daylight: More daylight = more time outside for the crazy dog. More time outside = less craziness inside. Win-win situation!

3. Laying by the pool: My parents have a pool that I'm planning to come spend the day at on July 4. This was really a cautionary note for my mom...

4. Calmer days at work: During the summer, things get a lot calmer and quieter at work. It's a good opportunity to catch up on things that I put off during the academic year or to undertake new projects that turn out to be a lot bigger than you anticipated (inventory...sigh...)

5. Fireflies: Or lightning bugs, as they can be called. Fireflies make me so happy. I think I've always associated them with summer, so when I see them, I know that it's finally summertime! Also, K dog constantly tries to catch them, so that's more entertainment for him (and me!).

6. Sunshine: After going through the longest winter known to mankind (and womankind and dogkind). it was so nice to see sunshine again! There's something about a sunny day that just makes everything seem like it's going to be okay. And, sunny days are ideal for laying by the pool... ;-)

7. My birthday!: I had to save the best for last! I may be too old to get so excited about my birthday, but I don't care. It's my birthday! It only comes once a year! It's in mid-July, and I'll be glad to give gift ideas if you're so inclined. ;-)

I've got a new feature coming up on Monday and a new series starting next Wednesday, so escape the heat with some cool yeah, I just said that....

Monday, June 16, 2014

Short product review + Giveaway winner!

In my last post, I had a lot of products to talk about from Influenster and BzzAgent. I had so many products to review that I didn't have a chance to try all of them! Over the weekend, I tried two more of the Influenster products- the PRFOOT Triad Orthotic Shoe Inserts and the Aqua Spa Relax Body Creme (Lavender and Chamomile scented).

I wore the inserts on Saturday to do an hour long workout at the gym. I also wore them for a 3 mile run/walk (definitely more walking than running!) afterwards. I didn't affix them to my shoes because I wanted to make sure they would work well for me, and I'm also going to need new shoes in the next couple of months, so I wanted to be able to transfer them. Since they weren't affixed, the left insert was a little uncomfortable because I moved it when I put that shoe on. However, besides that discomfort, I really liked the inserts! I liked that they didn't cover the entire shoe but still felt like they supported my whole foot. They provided a good amount of cushioning, so my feet weren't sore after exercising. I'll be using these from now on!

I used the lotion before bed last night. It went on smoothly, and my skin immediately felt softer. I liked the scent, but I didn't feel like it lasted long enough. I did have a hard time getting out of bed this morning though, so maybe I was more relaxed than I realized! Aqua Spa also makes a bath/shower gel with this scent. I may purchase that to use with the lotion to see if the scent lasts longer.

Now, for the fun stuff! There were two entries to the giveaway- thanks Lena and Clara! I let my husband act as the random number generator since there was a small number of entries. He decided to leave it completely up to chance by rolling a dice. He decided that if it was an odd number, then comment number one (Lena's) won, and if it was an even number, then comment number two (Clara's) won. He rolled, and it landed on....

(Building suspense...insert drumroll here...)

Three! Congratulations Lena! I'll send you a message with the gift card code! If you buy something for that precious baby boy, send me a picture! =)

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Summer Fun Products from BzzAgent and Influenster

[HEY! Don't forget to enter my giveaway for a $10 Amazon gift card. No one has entered yet, so you'll probably win! =)]

As a member of BzzAgent and Influenster, I receive free products in exchange for my honest opinion. Lately, I've received a few items that are going to help our summer be more fun!

From Influenster, I received the "Go VoxBox." Here's what it had in it (ignore the fact that I put everything on the stove to take a picture!).

PRFOOT Pedi-Rock
Blue Diamond Blueberry Almonds
PRFOOT Triad Orthotic Shoe Inserts
Vitamin Shoppe Fit N' Full Shakes in French Vanilla, Swiss Chocolate, and Fresh Berries
Vitamin Shoppe Shaker Bottle
Aqua Spa Relax Body Creme in Lavender and Chamomile 
Playtex Sport Tampons
Coupon for Mueller yogurt

I haven't used everything yet, but I've enjoyed everything I have used! The shakes tasted a lot better than I thought they would. I did notice that the chocolate blended better than the vanilla. I haven't tried the berry flavor yet, so I'm not sure how well it will blend. The shaker bottle works well with no leaks or sweating. The lid is a little tough to snap down, but once it's sealed, it keeps anything from spilling. The almonds were good, but they were a little sweeter than I expected. They may taste better mixed in with plain almonds or another unflavored food. I used another one of the products, but I'll spare you the details of that! ;-) I'm planning to use the inserts the next time I run, so hopefully they'll help me go lightning fast (ha!). 

Currently, I have four open BzzAgent campaigns: Silk Protein-Fiber Almond Milk, Bic Soleil Glow Razors, Coppertone Clearlysheer Sunscreen, and Summer Favorites at Kroger (which included Honey Mustard and Onion Pretzel Pieces and Rolled Guacamole Tortilla Chips). 

Unfortunately, I didn't take pictures of any of the products when I unpacked the boxes. Sorry!

The first product I tried was the Protein + Fiber Almond Milk in Original flavor. I have been drinking almond milk instead of dairy milk since February, so I was really excited about this campaign! I usually add my almond milk to coffee, tea, or protein shakes, so I don't know how this tastes by itself. However, it tasted great mixed in with all of my usual drinks. Plus, the added fiber helped keep me full just a little bit longer. And, not to be TMI here, but it didn't do anything funky to my stomach (hey, that's important info to know!). The only downside was that I couldn't find this in Publix, so I had to go to Kroger for it, which can sometimes be a not-so-fun experience. I'll definitely buy this again!

The second product I tried was the Soleil razor. Like most women, I find shaving a pain in the leg (instead of a pain in the neck...get it...heh). Now that it's warm out, I have to shave even more often, so I'm glad I had the chance to try the Soleil razor because it lasts longer than the double blade store brand razors I usually use! The Soleil has three blades, which I didn't think would make a big difference, but it does. It seems to give a closer shave that lasts just a hair (ha) longer than my other razors. It also has a lubricating strip with Vitamin E and aloe, so your legs get a little extra moisturizing when you use it. That's never a bad thing!

The third product I tried was the sunscreen. I received two different types- Clearlysheer for Sunny Days and Clearlysheer for Beach and Pool. Since I haven't had the chance to go to the beach or pool yet this year (BOOOOOO), I used the Sunny Days formula. It went on light and had a good odor; I was glad to have a sunscreen that didn't smell like coconuts or that had a telltale "sunscreen smell." I tend to break out a lot in the summer also, but this sunscreen didn't make me feel like my pores were clogged. I'm not always the best about remembering to put on sunscreen, but I'm going to make more of an effort since I have a good one to use now!

The fourth and fifth products I devoured tried were the pretzel pieces and tortilla chips. Okay, here's my confession. I've been doing a couple of challenges at the gym since the end of January, and I'm supposed to be eating cleaner. All of the clean eating went out the window during the three days it took me to destroy these snacks. Oops! There's nothing healthy about these snacks, but they would make a great side for cookout food or a good afternoon snack. I also received coupons for Big K soda and Kroger Deluxe Ice Cream, but I haven't redeemed those yet. 

I know this was a pretty long post, but if you're still with me, take a moment to enter the giveaway and then take more than a moment to purchase one or more of these products!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Time to Celebrate!

Source for original photo

If my blog was a person, it could go to kindergarten in the fall because today is its fifth birthday!

(Okay, technically I'm not sure if it could start this fall because of birthday cut off dates and things I know nothing about, but stick with my analogy and act like I'm right...).

A lot of things have changed in my life since June 2009. I've gotten married, finished a second graduate degree, and gotten my first dog, among many other changes!

I've learned a lot about blogging in the last 5 years. I still have a lot to learn and to improve upon, but I'm getting there! I'm also blogging more consistently, and my statistics are showing improvements because of that.

Here's how my posting consistency has changed. In 2009, I only published 1 measly post, which was my "hey look, I'm blogging now" post. I did a little better in 2010, publishing 3 whole posts. Slow down! In 2011, I published 22 posts. I was on fire! ;) I even attempted to do a 30 day blogging series, but I only lasted 16 days! I published 30 posts in 2012 and maintained a blog (Thankful 366) where I wrote an entry every day of the year detailing something I was thankful for. That was tough! Last year, I published 75 entries! I participated in 2 blog linkup series' and did my first "Blogging Through Books" series, so that definitely helped my count! This year, I have published 33 entries so far, so I believe I can easily surpass last year's total! I've got another series planned and another "Blogging Through Books" series in mind, so there's going to be a lot worth reading on here during the second half of 2014!

Enough about stats, let's get to the fun stuff! To celebrate my blog's birthday, I'm hosting my very first giveaway! I've got a $10 Amazon card for one lucky winner! To enter, leave a comment and tell me one big change that's happened in your life in the past five years (include your name and email address as well). Easy enough, right? The contest will end at 11:59 PM Central Time on Sunday, June 15. I'll use a random number generator to choose a winner and announce it here next Monday, June 16.

Thank you to everyone who has supported me during my blogging journey. When you comment here, on Facebook, or in real life, it means a lot to me. Sometimes I feel like I'm just writing for myself, so it's fantastic to get unexpected feedback! I can't wait to see what will happen in the next 5 years!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Sometimes You Just Have to Stop...

It's no secret that I've been dragging the Make Yourself Amazing series on and on and on and on. It's June and we still haven't made ourselves fully amazing yet! I'm not sure why I'm having so much trouble finishing this series, especially since I was so excited about it at first, but I think it's time to throw in the towel. I have quite a few other topics that I want to blog about, but I felt like I couldn't until I finished the series. I also haven't seen nearly as much interaction with this one as I did with the other book series I did. I think part of that is because I've been really inconsistent in posting about this series, but I also feel like this book isn't resonating with you all as much as it did with me. To be honest, I'm also finding it kind of difficult to write about some of the chapters. I think it's a title that you should read and reflect upon on your own, rather than reading my reflections about it. I really appreciate Sarah giving me a review copy, and I'm sorry for dropping the ball on this one.


I can't tell you guys how much I've gone back and forth on this decision. I know it might seem silly to some of you to put this much thought into something like this, but I really want to grow and develop this blog, and I felt like stopping this series would brand me as a quitter. I think it was just the wrong time for a project like that. If any of you do have the book and want to discuss anything else or even contribute content, let me know. Otherwise, I'll be back Monday with an exciting post and maybe even...a giveaway!