Influenster has a new look!

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I’ve been a member of Influenster for a few months now.  If you aren’t familiar with it yet, it’s pretty great!  Get full sized samples of new products coming to the market and submit your reviews to help the brands know what their customers are looking for!  I love the idea of being able to have some influence on what products people buy, and how companies choose to market their stuff!

When I first joined on, I got the chance to review a new Palmolive dish detergent.  Now, if you know me, or you’ve read my blog in the past, you know I’m a big fat greenie.  I much prefer eco products, no artificial dyes, no parabens, etc.  BUT, I have to tell you, this Palmolive outperformed itself!  I was thoroughly impressed!  That said, though, I probably won’t buy it again simply for the green aspect.  It’s too chemical for my taste, but for those who don’t have green living as a priority, it’s a home run!

Well, Influenster updated their site recently and I just took the opportunity to explore the new site and see how they have things set up.  I’ve gotta say, it’s pretty well put together!  They’ve added more badges (titles you earn that determine the types of product selections – VoxBoxes – you’ll be considered for), and the overall navigation is pretty slick.  One thing I don’t care for is that after I fill out information for a product review, I seem to have to go all the way back to the beginning of my Badges page to do the next one.  I can’t just breeze through step by step through the same badge.  At certain steps, you can’t back arrow to the previous screen because you’ll hit an error.

Otherwise, I’m pretty pleased with the overall redesign of the site.  Reviews and community areas are easy to find and navigate and the whole site has a good clean, but vibrant look.  Well done, Influenster!  I can’t wait to get my next VoxBox!

Want to start your own Influenster account and start reviewing new products?  Just go to http://www.influenster.com to sign up and get started!

 

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October 23, 2012 · 8:04 pm

A Letter to a Friend Lost

God brought you to my mind today. I’m still not sure why, but you’ve been in my heart and in my prayers all day. I even looked you up to see how life is going for you, and it seems like you’re doing well. Successes on the horizon, and a lot of dreams I know you’d had for quite some time. Congratulations!

I can’t help, though, wondering about some of the decisions you made. Why you suddenly cut me and everyone else out of your life. I guess I know why, really. You didn’t want to hear it from me that the choices you made grieved me deeply. You didn’t want the kind of friendship I was offering, to lead you to Scripture, to tell you about everything I had gone through. I wanted so desperately to help you come to a decision with your life that would have honored God AND your family, but I think you just wanted friends who would cheer you on and “support” you. Tell you you were doing the right thing, that you had to do what was right for YOU.

I wish you could see where my life is now… everything I’ve come through, everything God has taught me in the past few years. I wish I could share with you the joy that has come with finally understanding what God is doing in my life, even with all the struggles we’ve come through. My family is amazing, and the paths God is leading me down are shocking to say the least. My heart aches in knowing that I couldn’t share all of that with you.

I don’t know what God has done in your heart since then. My prayer is that He has or will bring you to your knees in sorrow over sin, and bring you so closely to His chest that you never want to let go, never want to leave. And that the only thing that matters in this world is knowing that you child/ren grow/s up desperately loving Him that deeply too.

Of course, you’ll likely never read this, never have any idea that I’ve written it. But my heart has been pouring out with such deep sadness over this all day that I had to get it out somehow. If God does lead you here, I hope you do see my love for you in this. That I have no judgement for you, as it’s CERTAINLY not my place to give that. And really, the story of our journeys to the cross don’t really matter anyway. It’s that we get there at all.

If you do see this, and you do want to break that wall down and talk, I would welcome it in a minute. I would share my journey with you and celebrate with you in yours. Above all, I pray God’s glory be done in your life, and that you be cradled in His mercy and provision in the end.

My love to you,

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I’m On Hair Strike!!!

Well, I was… until yesterday!  My hair has been getting longer and loonger and looonger, and I’ve honestly been wearing it in a ponytail for a while, especially when I don’t HAVE to look nice.  But this week, I just FLAT OUT REFUSED!  I was NOT going to do anything with my hair EXCEPT putting it in a ponytail until I got it CHOPPED OFF MY STUPID HEAD!!!

I told my hairstylist, Sara, that I was about to just shave it all off, Britney style, but then I’d be really mad while it was going out.  And quite frankly, I don’t want to do that again.  My mullet days are FAR behind me, thank you.  Don’t get me wrong, short hair is fun, and SUPER cute!  But for me, it’s way to high maintenance and I just don’t have the patience for it.  My one big rule is that my hair is NOT allowed to be shorter than the back of my hairline.  Other than that, do what you want!  Oh, and NO bangs.  Never.  Again.  NEVER!

So, yesterday I left our LAST session of iChicks at Image Church.  Such a wonderful session with my girls, but I’m definitely sad that I won’t get to see them EVERY SINGLE THURSDAY until September!  This is what my hair looked like BEFORE I ran screaming to see Sara at Reflections of You Salon in Fairfax.

Hot. Mess. On my head. Ugh!

I told Sara right away that I was thinking I wanted 2-3 inches gone.  I HATE having hair on the back of my neck and it has been driving me CRAZY!!!  The cut she gave me last time was great and actually, it’s what I wanted again, maybe just a little shorter.  She had a different idea, though, and I really love it!  What do you think???

Of course, she made me schedule my next appointment 6 weeks out.  I can’t say I blame her!  Maybe we can avoid this kind of catastrophe happening again. 😉

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MORE Adventures in Hippy Land

So I’ve mentioned it a couple times on Facebook and Twitter, but over the past few weeks, I’ve undertaken a new project, and in some ways, it’s kind of like I have another child.  I am growing and culturing my own Tibetan Kefir!  For anyone completely unfamiliar with Kefir, I found a nice and simple online article which should give you pretty much any info you could need.  Enjoy!

After skimming the above article myself, I realize I have done one error, in pressing and squeezing my grains.  Won’t be doing THAT again!

Before culturing your own Kefir, you might be interested to know that it contains around 35 different live probiotics!  These little bugs do amazing things for your digestive system and overall immunity.  That makes Kefir one heck of a superfood!  Also, believe it or not, Tibetan Kefir has been documented as having cured or vastly improved 107 different ailments, including GERD, diabetes, anxiety, skin breakouts, and some cancers!  Amazing, right?  If you could add one thing to your diet and know that it could vastly improve your health, why wouldn’t you??  And here’s something really fun, because the Kefir grains feed on the lactose and other sugars in milk, it’s 99% lactose free and generally tends to still be ok for those who are lactose intolerant!  But don’t worry, you don’t HAVE to use milk.  It’s just the idea option.  You can also culture soy milk, almond or coconut milk, some even culture it in WATER!

Here’s what you’re going to want to know, though.  This stuff is SUPER SOUR!!!!!  It’s like unsweetened yogurt but 100x more sour.  And it also has a tangy zip on top of that.  I’ve met some brave souls who drink this stuff straight, but I just can’t do it.  My sweetener of choice is honey.  LOTS of honey.  You can also blend it with fruit into a smoothie, make it into pancakes and other yummy things (although heat does kill off a lot of the probiotics that make it so good for you).  Just get creative!

You can find and purchase Kefir grains online in different places, but the BEST way to get them is from a friend who is already growing his or her own colony.  Like me!  Ready to get started?  

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Well, this stinks.

Two days ago, my back started feeling strained and aggrivated.  The pain hasn’t been severe, but I had to take 2 Aleve before I started feeling ANY relief.  Since then, when I pick up my daughter, I feel this awful straining and pulling in my back and the whole thing just feels tight and uncomfortable.  It seemed to get worse yesterday after her nap and today, I’m almost afraid to move at all!

I have a friend who threw out her back the FIRST time when her daughter was younger than mine is.  Another opportunity for me to be so grateful that she really is such a little peanut!  I sent her a message and she essentially confirmed what I was dreading.  What I’m experiencing is what she did right before the pain became completely unbearable!  I’m praying that I caught this soon enough that whatever I’ve done won’t get any worse.

By another 2 friends’ advice, I’m also using Arnica cream, which is supposed to help to actually heal muscle injuries, and is used frequently by athletes to speed up recovery time.  So, my wonderful hubby has massaged this stuff into my back twice – last night before bed, and again before he left for work this morning – and I’m just doing my best to take it easy while I heal.  I’m trying to make Squish climb more on her own, so I don’t have to pick her up as much, and I’m really not carrying or holding her, only letting her sit with me on the bed or couch.

Have you ever experienced anything like this?  What was it like?  What did you do to help heal?

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A Week Off!

Right now, I’m supposed to be at the beach.  Instead, I’m sitting in the living room, almost in the dark, watching Julie and Julia on Starz, while my child is upstairs napping and recovering from her daily case of “zombie face.”  Yes, I own the movie, but Bridezillas was getting a bit exhausting, and it was on.  So there it is.

So why am I not at the beach?  Simple answer is that my anxiety got the better of me and it was more than I could handle to get myself organized, packed, juggle a half-potty-trained toddler (who I’m sure will stay that way until she’s 25) for 8 hours in the car, and try to figure out how to do the work I need to accomplish and have a good time for a week.  BLEH!

Honestly, I wish I were at the beach.  I miss the sand in my toes and the smell of the breeze coming in off the water.  It’s as close to heaven on earth as I might ever come, and it’s been about 4 years since I’ve been.  I’m tempted to make my hubby drive us down to VaBeach on one of his days off this week, just so I can see the water this week.  The last 2 weeks, and even this whole past month have just been too much for me to put one more thing on my plate.  As much as I desperately miss my second home by the shore, I know I need this time.  I NEED the week off.

I want to see what God will do with me this week.  It took a lot of prayer and even a little extra anxiety and guilt thrown in before I was able to REALLY make the choice to stay home, but I know it’s what I needed to do.  Maybe I’ll write some note cards, maybe I’ll work on some music, maybe I’ll just do the minimum it takes to be a productive member of society and just veg out every other second of my conscious existence.  I’m not sure.  I know I’ll be doing some reading, and I know I’m looking forward to being more refreshed by the end of it.

What are you doing this week?

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Adventures in Hippy Land

Maybe that should be the title of my blog… hmm.

The longer I’m a mother, the crunchier I become. The more I read about the additives and just plain FAKE stuff in my food, the more grossed out I become over what the FDA is doing to us. It’s really hard for me to see what’s happened to our society and understand why ANYONE would be ok with just letting it happen. But the fact of the matter is, the majority of Americans JUST DON’T CARE! I’m not trying to bash anyone or insult anyone’s priorities or parenting choices, but maybe that’s part of doing more research and finding out more about the food you’re eating and what it’s doing to you… it makes you not want to eat it. And some people would just rather not know.

One of my newest points of study has been in raw milk. My family hasn’t made the switch yet, but I feel it on the horizon. I know a lot of people have concerns about it, which is why I wanted to post this. I’ve found myself referencing it often and it covers some really fabulous bases. Not only is it a great argument for why we should just maybe give raw milk a second thought, but the primary purpose of this post is to give mothers who CANNOT breastfeed another option. Something that’s NOT formula. Something that’s NOT toxic to your baby over the long term, and isn’t going to give real risks down the line. Please understand, I’m not in ANY way trying to start a fight, or to undermine what someone felt she needed to do, or really DID need to do because circumstance or a massive lack of support left her no choice. This article thrills me because it DOES offer another option. And one that I believe would be beneficial to any mom interested in being a little more open minded than she might expect. Just be willing to be surprised. Maybe you’ll find this as cool as I did. Enjoy the read!

What To Feed Your Baby Besides (Breastmilk!)

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Wordless Wednesday… a day late

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Her first big-girl ponytail!

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We’re Not Trying to Hurt You (via The Adventures of Lactating Girl)

I’m not always great at using my words. It’s not that I don’t try, but sometimes what I’m TRYING to say doesn’t come out right. I say something stupid that wasn’t QUITE what I meant (and really, if I’d said what I really meant it wouldn’t have sounded so bad, I promise!), and I inevitably offend someone.

I have no choice but to recognize and acknowledge that I am most that way about topics I’m passionate about, like breastfeeding, natural birth, etc. However, when I find someone who has managed to say what I’m really feeling (and am miserable at expressing effectively), I want to share that with you. To any I HAVE offended, or any whom I may inadvertently offend by cramming my foot so far down my throat it’s in my stomach, please refer back to this. This woman has said exactly what I feel and will always intend. I can only pray that my heart will be expressed by my mouth at the right times.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We're Not Trying to Hurt YouIt seems like every time I turn around, I’m offending someone. I try to word things in ways that aren’t offensive to formula feeding moms, but it’s difficult to get the point across without causing moms to go on the defensive. I never judge a mom for formula feeding. I would never try to tell you that you’re a bad mother. Two o … Read More

via The Adventures of Lactating Girl

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Little Shop of Doughnuts

Tonight, I was very excited because I was planning to drive up to Alexandria to see my friend Jay perform as the voice of Audrey II in Little Shop of Horrors. They open tomorrow night (Friday), and you can get ticket information from http://www.metrotheater.org/.  I also had the fabulous pleasure of spending a few minutes there with my friend Gaia who is doing the lighting design.  THAT GIRL IS SO TALENTED!!!!!  She amazes me. ❤

After a little search for some company while I watched their dress rehearsal, I ended up meeting my dear friend Katy and her friend Luke at the high school where MPAT is performing.  My problem, however, came in GETTING there.

You’d think after about 23 years of living in this area, and over a decade of driving around here, I’d know my way around.  The truth is, I’d be lost without my GPS.  No seriously.  I would literally have no friggin clue where I was.  I am so directionally challenged it’s a nightmare.  I think I’ve actually only met one person who has me beat.  It’s just not a good thing.  So, what should have been a 25 minute drive took me nearly 50 after going the wrong way a couple times, missing my exit, and taking the long way around my elbow to… well, you know…  Yeah, even my GPS couldn’t get me out of this one.  FAIL, Google Maps!

By the time I finally got to the theater, I was 30 minutes late.  Thank goodness it was a dress rehearsal!  There were still so many people running around working to make things fabulous, that I think they barely noticed me.  That’s the beautiful thing about being a Theatre Kid… you get dress rehearsals, they just are what they are!

I snuck a couple pictures from the show… please forgive the quality.  They’re from my phone, about half way back in the auditorium, and low lights.  Enjoy!!

Audrey singing with the Doo-wap Girls. These ladies all had fabulous voices!

 

Seymour singing with Audrey II. Loved these two! And the whole time, Matt, playing Seymour, reminded me of "Roman" from Mr. Sunshine. So funny!

After the show — which, by the way, does NOT end the same way they finished the movie.  That was a little bit startling to me.  The only real experience I have with Little Shop of Horrors was from about 6-7 years ago when I was pulling all nighters doing projects for my costuming classes.  I would stay up and watch movies on demand while working on my projects.  Little Shop was on my list.  The endings are definitely pretty different.  And honestly, this was only surprising to me because I didn’t already know the theatrical version.  Hollywood is always glamming things up and giving things Disney endings.   I’m pretty sure the movie cuts about half a dozen small musical numbers too.

I had an amazing time watching the show, and laughing so hard with my friends that we were in TEARS!  Jay was the most perfect fit they could have found for the voice of Audrey II, and so many things he did were classically JAY, and it just made it that much more hysterical for us.  It was perfection!!!

After the show, I went back north a little ways, because on my way down, I’d noticed that I was less than a mile away from the closest Krispy Kreme in our area!!!  I almost never get up to that part of town, so it’s a very rare treat for me.  And imagine my luck – THE HOT SIGN WAS ON!!!!!!!  I died.  No really.  You didn’t have that first doughnut I had.  I died.

Heaven is a little place in Alexandria. *sigh*

 

My yummy selection. Yeah, I know you're jealous. Eeep!!

So, after coming home, of COURSE I had to share my fabulous experience with you.  You’re welcome. :-*

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