Thursday, August 29, 2013

imPress Nails - Fast and Easy At Home Manicure

I few weeks ago I received some free imPress nails by Broadway Nails. I had gotten a free “manicure” while at BlogHer ’13 and was impressed by the nail product.

The nails are said to last up to a week. That being said, my first manicure lasted 10 days! But with the occasional same two nails popping off. I think this had to do with the amount of activity my nails were doing. I sit and type at a computer for most of the day so it was understandable that the index and middle fingers I use the most to push the numbers key would keep popping off. But on the bright side I had tons of replacements in the cute nail polish bottle that the nails came in.




Putting on the nails for the first on your own may be a little time consuming at first. You have to size each of your nails to the perfect fit. There are these really tiny numbers on each nail, numbered 0-11 so you can tell what size. So now in the future I just have to look for those numbers and it will be quick. Make sure to use the prep pad provided so the nails stick on to a clean surface. The only thing I had trouble with was once I got to the last two nails I had a hard time getting the plastic wrapping off the back of the nail. I had to use my teeth, yes my teeth, to get those last couple off. No biggie.

For the price of $4.97 for solids or $6.97 for prints at Walmart.com, I thought it was a great way to look put-together for a special occasion without having to spend big money at a nail salon. For instance I was going on vacation, and would normally spend $30-45 on a French acrylic manicure at the salon, so this was a big money saver, less time consuming, and painless. And unlike salon nails, there is no chance these nails are going to chip! Visit imPress or Facebook to get $1 off your first kit!

I liked the nails so much I decided to invite some friends over and have an imPress Nail party. We all sat around and put on our nails. Everyone agreed that there was not much to putting them on. And they looked like salon quality nails. Some of us tried the medium length nails, but found that we would have been more comfortable with the short length nails, mostly because like me they use a computer daily.






I did find that if you have too much contact with hot water the glue will “deactivate” and the nails will be more prone to come off. (Definitely use gloves if you are washing dishes). I also recommend trying to press on the nail for a good amount of time just so the bottom, closest the cuticle, sticks. On occasion I also found that if I ran my fingers through my hair some would get stuck under the nail.

I think that for the price and all the cool colors and patterns I would definitely buy, especially if I need something fast and inexpensive. It’s a great product for a girl on a budget who wants to have great nails on the weekend. Like any product there are pros and cons, but I think the pros win in this case.


Monday, August 26, 2013

A Fun Filled August!

These past two weekends were so much fun spending time with friends I hadn't seen in a while.

Two weekends ago my husband I decided to go to a local craft beer tasting in nearby Oak Park, aka, the 6th Annual Oak Park Micro Brew Review. For about $50 each (a little pricey for the lightweight that I am) we got to drink for 4 hours or when ever our 30 tickets each ran out. Well of course you give me 30 tickets I’m going to try hard to use them all. But alas the beer won and I only used half my tickets. And after a while the vendors weren't even taking them. They just kept pouring freely into everyone’s little glass. There were so many tables set up it was hard to pick where to go. It was busy and crowded but the lines moved fairly quickly. I took a look at the pamphlet they gave as when we arrived and kind of glanced at some of the beers, looking for some fun, "girly" flavors. Found some! The sun was hot, “like a pistol” as one of my friends so graciously kept reminding us! But at the end I was sad to go, I was having so much fun. We've done a couple of beer and wine tastings before, but it’s always more fun when you have a big group of friends with you.



This past weekend I went to visit my BFF that lives in Urbana. We decided to take the baby so she could experience the Urbana Sweet Corn Festival. The festival is small, but they try and pack as much food, games, and music as they can. During the day time, it was pretty calm, not so crowed. I’m sure the heat had something to do with it, because by Saturday night you couldn't even move! I think it had to do with a lot of people being excited to see Kansas, of which I think I only knew one song and of course now Dust in the Wind is in my head! Should I know more?! I was also happy to see they had slushy drinks, Miami Vice? Yes, please! I’m sure we’ll be back next year, and hopefully go both days…and use up all of our tickets, no refunds :(

We did end up staying at a hotel, the Urbana Landmark, and boy was that an experience. The hotel does give you the old hotel vibe, and every corner I turned I thought a ghost was going to pop out, LOL, I'm so silly! Loved seeing the old pictures on the wall, and the old furniture. However, our room didn't have any A/C and it was hard for the manager to understand us and us her. She finally got it and gave us a new room. And parking, well there was none because all the fest goers were using the lot. We tried asking the manager where else we could park, but she kept thinking we were asking if we could park at the lot for the fest only. But in then end we did find someone leaving and took the spot. All in all the hotel is fine for the $60 it cost. It is walking distance from my BFF’s house and near bars, etc. So had we been able to just park and given the room with the working A/C I’d be saying this is the best place to stay when you’re in Urbana on a budget. But now I don’t know if I would totally recommend it if it’s going to cause some headaches just talking to management. I’d give 2 out of 4 stars. But it being so close to my friend’s is just such a plus that I’d take the risk again!


Leave Your Mark, Creamy, Badass Luxury - Urban Decay Revolution Lipstick




I received some makeup goodies from the Vogue Influencer Network and Urban Decay Cosmetics. Super excited since I love trying new make up. This is from their edgy collection as you’ll be able to tell from the names of the 22 shades, such as F-Bomb, 69, Naked, and Strip. Personally the color I received was a little too loud for me, but had I gotten a more neutral color I would have liked it more. I can see that the Naked or Liar Liar shades would have suited me better.

I received a clear liner, Ozone ($19), that would help keep the color from feathering, and 24/7 Glide-On Lip Pencil in a deep fuchsia-pink called Jilted ($19). I used it to fill in my lips before applying the Revolution Lipstick in Catfight ($22), like Jilted, but with a red undertone, and it goes on very smoothly. The lipstick is really creamy and thick, they weren't kidding about that! And it goes on and stays on, so much that I really had to try to get it off! Just one slick leaves a dark rich color on your lips. It definitely screams “bad-ass”. Which I am not at all, but its fun to pretend!






Thursday, August 22, 2013

Daycare and Drivers

As I drove Maddie to daycare I realized two things. School’s back in session and Maddie has been in daycare for only three months!

This summer has been so nice driving through two towns in 7 minutes with no traffic and a ton of green lights. With students and parents both on the road again my nice drive is now about 20-25 minutes long. Ugh! Now we’ll need to leave earlier, get ready earlier, and I bet you thought get up earlier, but no that will stay the same. Maddie is an early riser so our new schedule will just affect her play time in the morning.

The other thing that is affected by back to school is going to Starbucks. Now everyone dropping off kids will be heading to the shop at the same time as me. Yeah, that’s not going to work for me. If only they had more parking, the drive thru just gets too messy with everyone trying to get in line from 2 different directions. I don’t mind the wait too much; it’s just the pushy drivers who don’t want to wait their turn! So with that being said, I’ll have to cut back on my visits to Starbucks, just for my sanity and safety (while at the same time saving some money). I’m thinking of finally investing in a Keurig, but we’ll see. The coffee brewer I have is in great condition, but I’m the only one at home that drinks coffee. I feel guilty getting rid of it! Should I just get one?!

Of course the point of this post was to express how surprised I am at the fact that Maddie has only been in daycare for three months (not to rant about traffic and coffee)! It feels like I've been taking her there forever. I remember when we decided to put her in daycare I was very hesitant. I didn't know what to expect. I asked friends and family what they thought and if they had any recommendations. I knew a nanny would be unrealistic financially. Plus I really wanted to find someone who spoke Spanish. Luckily my cousin came to the rescue with someone he used. For the first week and a half it was really hard leaving my crying baby behind. Her eyes all red and face all teary. But after the trial period she learned that being the smallest baby meant tons of attention and basically getting her way! She looks forward to day care now. So just like the many other moms I read about before, I too was a worrier, but now it’s a little easier to drop her off. I still don’t like the idea of having someone else “raise” my baby while I’m at work, but I try to spend every extra minute I have with her. I know staying home with baby would be exhausting! I had to stay with her for a week before we made the transition and it is a non-stop job. I was definitely ready to go back to work! So my SAHM friends you have my respect! But so do my working mom friends. It’s hard either way!

Before and After I say: Who's ready for Daycare?!



Monday, August 19, 2013

Ready, Ready, Ready, Ready To Run - 5K Fun Time

Since I felt so good after my last 5K run, I've decided to do a couple more. Since having Maddie I've been drained of so much time and energy, but now she’s at the point where she is more independent and I can have some “me” time. What better way then staying fit and active. I haven’t been much of a distance runner since my cross country days in high school, and the sporadic 5K race every now and then, but I do miss that feeling of accomplishment, running towards a goal, even if it is just a finish line. I wonder if I'll ever be able to run as fast as did 15 years ago!

Since I live right by Brookfield Zoo (and it’s one of my favorite places to be at) it only makes sense that I run there. I’ll be running in the Zoo Run Run for the Conservation Fund 

I've got a couple more runs up my sleeve, but we’ll get to those when the time is closer. Next on my list: find some friends to run with…who’s with me?!

And if any one is an old Dixie Chicks fan, I hope the song gets stuck in your head (reference to post title). 

My Gym - Making Physical Activity Fun

Maddie was invited to a fun birthday party at My Gym in River Forest. I live near this place, yet I was not familiar with it. Well now I love it! It is a fitness center for kids. Needless to say Maddie enjoyed herself. They had tons of mats that she could climb on, a slide, and some tunnels. She even enjoyed the mini basketball hoop; the kid has got talent, LOL. While we were there we heard music, played games, and even took a special ride, aka, the baby zip line! I think her favorite part was playing in the ball pit, but I think most kids love that. 

I think physical activity is very important for a child. These days I hear of all these kids just playing video games or playing on their phones. They aren't outside enjoying the fresh air, playing tag or sports. I really hope Maddie loves the outdoors. Who wants to be cooped up inside all day (definitely not me)? I hope to go back soon, as this would be a wonderful way for Maddie to make some new friends her age and size. 

If you want to check them out they are having an open house September 6th and 7th. Details can be found on their web page. The website even has a link so you try a class for free to see if you and baby like it. http://www.mygym.com/riverforest



Thursday, August 15, 2013

Picture Time - 15 Months and Counting!

My baby girl turned 15 months yesterday so I decided to go and get her pictures taken at JC Penny and take advantage of their $3.99 portrait sheets. I've been to my location quite a few times and this time I finally decided to purchase their membership. I figured it’s good for two years and I’ll get my money back in two visits since I won’t have to pay sitting fees. And maybe one of these days I can be in a picture or two. The photographer is great. She tries very hard to get Maddie to smile, stubborn baby, and in the short ten minute allotted time she manages to get a least one good picture. That’s all I really want, at least one good picture. I love how the photographer gets Maddie to smile and then as soon as she ready to snap the picture Maddie gets all serious. I’m sure it drives the photographer crazy! 

At first I was a little worried about the time. Ten minutes! Can that really be enough time? But yes for a baby or toddler ten minutes is an eternity and they get tired of posing very quickly. She wore this cute yellow and white outfit from Gymboree. It had the cutest hat, but of course she hates putting anything on her head. So sad I can’t get her to wear cute headbands and bows. Plus she has no hair! Bows would look so cute on bald head. But these days she’s the boss, so what she says goes. I've also learned that the best time for us to go is the last session possible. Maddie is in a good mood and there is no one else around to distract her. 

Here are a few pictures from her session. 


Thursday, August 8, 2013

Hair Tools That Work - Hair By Kiss

This year, Kiss and Broadway Nails were among the sponsors of the BlogHer event in Chicago, which took place on July 25-27, 2013. While attending BlogHer ’13 I was introduced to Hair by Kiss Hair Tools.  I was always aware of their nail products but was unfamiliar with their tools.

I was given a Kiss Tornado 360° blow dryer and Kiss Silicone Styler to try out at home.  I must say I was pleasantly surprised with both products. I had no idea Kiss could come up with such economical hair tools that actually work.


The blow dryer is a bit heavier than what I am used to working with, however the patent-pending 360° degree Rotating Air Booster works to help save me time and energy. So even though I was holding a slightly heavier tool, it was for a shorter time. The rotating booster did all the rotating my arm would usually do for me. So basically I just had to raise my arm to the spot I wanted to dry, no more back and forth movements.  The rotating booster also helps to distribute the heat which means less spot damage on your hair. It also has Ceramic Tourmaline Technology which helps keep the frizz to a minimum when drying.  I used the dryer in the low setting since it was powerful enough. I tried the high setting, and wow, that is some power for a dryer! The best part is that I can find it at WalMart for just $24.96 very wallet friendly. It has certainly replaced my current blow dryer.


I have curly hair and currently use a $100 hair straightener. I have tried many, but feel that none leave my hair straight enough. The Kiss Silicone Styler, a 1-inch flat iron with Ceramic Tourmaline and Silicone Technology delivers on what it promises. It has a silicone bar, one on each side to help minimize heat damage by cushioning hair and sealing the hair cuticle to retain moisture. As I used the tool on my hair I could feel it gripping my hair creating that seal it said it would. I used the styler twice on each section of hair, even though I did notice that once would have probably been enough. But I was going out and wanted to be sure it would stay straight. I've included a before (don’t laugh too hard) and an after picture to show you that it works! I’m very happy to see that there is an affordable option for straightening your hair. This styler can be found at Amazon.com for just $25.00. A real bargain!





Visit http://www.kissusa.com/ for more information all all of their products.

And of course the best part of this post is that it has a Giveaway! One lucky reader will get their very own TORNADO 360 1875W IONIC BLOW DRYER! Just enter below! I'll pick a winner on Friday, August 16th. Good luck!


I received these items as gifts while attending the Blogher '13 Conference. The opinions are all my own.


 



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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A Learning and Growing Experience at BlogHer '13

I’m finally coming back to reality after a wonderful time at BlogHer ’13. The conference was held July 25-27 in Chicago.  For me, going to this conference was a last minute decision. I had heard other bloggers writing and talking about going. I was asked a couple of times if I would attend, but I would always say, nah, I’m still too new. Everyone was always very encouraging saying I should go and network, make connections, and learn. 

When I finally decided I should go the conference badge was out of my budget. Luckily this year the conference was being held in my home city, Chicago. I decided to reach out to the BlogHer team about volunteering opportunities. I figured it was a long shot since the conference was about two weeks away. Well imagine my amazement when they said YES, they could use another volunteer, a BlogHership!  

I had first been told I would be a mic wrangler, running from one side of the room to another, taking questions from attendees for the speakers to answer. I was actually quite worried. What if someone took the mic away from me, or worse, what if I fell! Well my worries quickly disappeared as I was reassigned to registration. I had to volunteer about 7-8 hours in the course of the conference, but it was totally worth it. In exchange for my time I received free access to the conference and expo, plus any sponsored parties (which I had no energy to attend). 

I’m the girl many of you met while picking up your badge at the expo! Remember me?!

So a quick recap of my time at BlogHer ’13: 

Wednesday: I got to meet all of the other volunteers at a quick get together/orientation.

Thursday: Since I was in town, I did go to my full time job, but right after I headed out to the McCormick Place to start my duties at the registration desk. Everyone was super nice and excited to get their badges and their swag bags. It was night at the expo, and as soon as we slowed down I took a peek in. I didn't have too much time so I just kind of made my mental plan for who I would visit on Friday. 

Friday: Why did I decide I would run a 5K and be up at 5 AM?! Oh yeah, that’s right, I would get a free FitBit if I participated. And yes the FitBit is awesome! Running the 5K, well a little more than that since I kind of took a detour, (so much for following the map), felt really good. It had been a while since I ran a good distance. I was sore for a day or two. It was also a nice enjoyable way to view the great city of Chicago. My detour took me to Navy Pier. 

The FitBit, a gift from the sponsor of the 5K, Best Buy, is a tool for tracking your steps, calories burned, etc. It has a friendly app so you can keep track on your phone. I secretly use it to find out exactly when I’m up with baby in the middle of night. Apparently trying to get baby back to sleep burns a lot of calories and I take a lot of steps!


There is so much that went on in a matter of a couple of days. So I know I’m going to forget stuff. 

I enjoyed listening to The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond, speak Friday morning. She is quite the funny lady. What did I learn from her speech? Try blogging with no underwear... and always keep blogging, exercise it it’s like a muscle! 


The first day of the conference I was a little disappointed as the one session I was looking forward to (and many other bloggers) had been cancelled. We all quickly had to decide what our second choice would be. I decided to attend the “Move Your Blog to WordPress” session given my Kelly Phillips. I must say that eventually I plan to do this, but it was quite overwhelming. It sounded easy, but hard at the same time! 

The second session I attended was Photo | Workshop: DSLR Debrief given by Amanda Green Bottoms. It was very insightful. I just purchased a DSLR and am still trying to figure it out. So I’m hoping the notes I took help me out. I am so glad that BlogHer records all of their sessions. I can easily go back and listen or read what I missed, and I can go check out our sessions that I may have not been interested in at the time or couldn't get to. 

Instead of going to lunch I spent the day at the expo. I met many different bloggers and brand representatives. As expected, there were tons of samples and swag to collect. I only took what I knew I would probably use.  I also ran into some familiar faces as the team from Kids LiveWell was there! It was great seeing everyone again. It’s a great program that I learned about earlier this year. 

Friday night was VOTY, Voices of the Year, with special guest Queen Latifah, who was stuck in traffic and arrived late…she is the queen after all, fashionably late. I got to sit in the third row and had a great view. Loved the humor blogs that were read!

Saturday: Early wake up call again, this time to finish my volunteering. It was quite slow, as the only ones picking up badges where bloggers who signed up for Saturday only or the expo only. I spent some time with new friends Tonia and Ruby. I learned a lot from them! They had some great insight to what the brands and sponsors look for, and gave me great tips on how to run my blog, thank you ladies.  We took another walk around the expo floor and yes, collected more swag.  Don’t worry I’ll probably be showcasing some of this swag in the future on my blog. 

I couldn't stay long as I only had a part-time baby sitter, but I really did enjoy my first experience at BlogHer and hope to do it again next year. 

Tips for a possible trip next year:

Bring a sweater
Wear gym shoes or comfy flats
Bring a bottle of water
Chewing Gum
An extra bag/backpack for possible swag
A good camera (iPhone photos don’t always do justice)
Chargers (even though some are available at the hotel and conference, they may be in use when you need one)
A laptop…keep blogging during the conference, otherwise it’ll be two weeks before I post a recap!
Snacks 
Business Cards to keep in touch or check out other blogs (Definitely a great way to remember everyone) 

I didn't have to travel, so I’m not sure what I would need if I did have to hop a plane and get a room, but hopefully next year I’ll find out. 




Friday, August 2, 2013

Rolling Out the Red Carpet - Gap Outlet - A Glamour Event

I want to thank Glamour and the Gap Outlet at Aurora, IL for “rolling out the red carpet” for my friends and I. The event, held Thursday Night, was to showcase the Gap Outlet’s fall collection. We got to try on tons of clothes and take pictures. What better way than that to see how great an outfit looks on us? We got to snack on brownies and pretzels and drink sparkling juice. Eric, the store manager, and his whole staff were very nice, helpful, and really excited to help us “work” our looks. Below are a few of my favorite looks.





As an ambassador for Glamour I received a gift certificate to shop while at the store. Thank you Glamour.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Glamour Event at the Gap Outlet - Aurora, IL Join Me!

Hope you can all make it tonight to the Glamour Event at the Gap Outlet, Aurora, IL. We'll be checking out the fall collection! Plus use discount code GLAM and get an addtional 15% off (does not include clearance).

World Breastfeeding Week

Today is the start of World Breastfeeding Week and goes through August 7th. This year’s theme, Breastfeeding Support: Close to Mothers, highlights Breastfeeding Peer Counseling. I agree that women are more likely to breastfeed and continue to breastfeed if they have a good support system. I was lucky enough to have very supportive friends and family members to encourage me along.

But there were also other sources out there for me. My hospital had a support group that met once a week. The hospital itself was very encouraging to get baby to breast right away as well. Internet mom groups have also become a common place to support each other. I found a great Facebook community of women all with whom were pregnant at the same time as I. And now almost 2 years later we are still supporting each other in so many topic areas.

I thought that if I made it to 3 months that would be good enough, it was hard, but I decided to continue. And after 6 months I got over the hump and it was just so much easier than trying to make a bottle. I had two friends who would always check up on me and they made sure to tell me that I could them at anytime if I felt discouraged. They never insisted that I “needed” to this. They were there to listen to my concerns and tell me how it was for them, and then I went from there. They never made me feel bad if I thought I wanted to stop. And I would never want to make anyone feel bad either. Everyone is different.

I am still breastfeeding; it’s been 14 months now. It lets me bond with my baby while providing her with nature’s best. I still get people who are surprised I’m still doing it and wonder when I will stop. I no longer pump and I am trying to wean, but as long as baby wants to latch on I don’t think I’ll have a problem with it. I know she’ll stop when she’s ready. I’m not going to lie, sometimes I am ready to just call it quits, but I remember that this is good for baby and I want what’s best for her.

For more information on this visit http://worldbreastfeedingweek.org/


Picture from when Maddie was just a little over a month old