Friday, June 12, 2015

#FrescaVoxBox Review

I recently received the complimentary #frescavoxbox from Influenster to test out some pretty cool products.  I was super excited to get this particular box - everything in it was something fun to try out!  Thanks, Influenster, for the awesome products!

Here's what came in the box:
  • Neutrogena Healthy Skin Boosters Daily Scrub
  • Pure Silk Moisturizing Shave Cream
  • Not Your Mother's Clean Freak Purifying Shampoo and Conditioner
  • NYC Expert Last Lip Lacquer in Rockaway Ruby
  • JAFRA Blends
  • Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs

 Here's what I thought about each of them:

Neutroena Healthy Skin Booster Daily Scrub
I was hesitant to try this out because I have a pretty set and regimented skin care routine that I don't deviate from often because of my fickle skin.  I decided to try it out at night to remove my makeup/clean my face before bed, and I've been pleasantly surprised.  I didn't use any other product with it, which felt odd, especially not using moisturizer.  I was worried that my skin would feel really oily in the morning.  But I've used it three nights in a row, and each following morning my skin has felt smooth and soft but never oily.  I felt like it did a decent job of removing my makeup and left my skin feeling fresh.  I'm not sure how this would hold up with my acne prone skin over a long period of time, but I think it's something I'd be willing to give a try for a couple of weeks to see how it goes.  Overall I liked this product.  The smell was nice, and the results were good.  A win in my book!

Pure Silk Moisturizing Shave Cream
Disclaimer: I don't usually use shaving cream when I shave because I use the razors that have the built in shave bars because they're way simple to use in any shower space.  With that said, I really like this shaving cream.  The scent is pleasant but not overwhelming, and my legs felt nicely smooth and moisturized when I was done shaving.

Not Your Mother's Clean Freak Purifying Shampoo and Conditioner
This product has been an absolute delight to use.  My initial reaction was 'just another hippy organic product', but it's actually held up to its claims.  I have thick, oily hair, and not all products work well in it, but this was has been pretty good.  I got just over two uses out of it, both of which were the usual amount I use.  I decided to try this with two different hairstyles that I go to most often to see how it holds up.  The first day I used it, I just blow dried my hair and wore it down and plain.  I really loved how soft my hair felt throughout the whole day, and the scent was super delightful.  It stayed untangled and shinier than usual, which was pretty cool, but it wasn't necessarily any less oily at the end of the day.  It also didn't give my hair much lift at the roots, but most shampoos/conditioners don't with my hair.  The second day I used it, I scrunched my hair with my usual scrunching product.  This day it performed about as expected.  My hair was a little shinier than usual but didn't seem to be much different from when I use other shampoo/conditioner products.  With the little I had leftover, hubby decided to use it on his beard.  He liked the scent and felt like it performed as well as other products.

Overall I really did like this stuff.  The price is about twice what I'd normally pay, but it does have some nice benefits because it's bio-degradable (which apparently won't clog the drains) and doesn't have any sulfates.

NYC Expert Last Lip Lacquer in Rockaway Ruby
When I pulled this out of my #frescavoxbox, I was a little blown away by the bright red color!  It's definitely bold and not a color I would usually pick out at the store.  I don't usually wear much lip color (if any), so I was very anxious about trying this one out. When I put it on, I found out quickly that a little goes a long way. The color was very vibrant and intense, but I really liked it! It isn't an every day wear kind of color for me, but it was still really fun and glammy. I even got a compliment on it from a co-worker. It wore more like a stain than a gloss, and I really liked that about it. Definitely something I'd wear again, but probably not super often.

JAFRA Blends
For this product, I received a full size scent and three smaller sample scents.  The full-size I received was the Sea Salt Rose Petals scent, and I LOVE IT.  I'm usually really picky about perfume scents because I get headaches easily, but this one is so pleasant and understated.  I use one pump on my wrist and use it to splash a little on my other wrist and neck, which has been the perfect amount of scent.  I would DEFINITELY buy this product again when I run out.

I also received three sample scents: sea salt rose petals (like the full-size), violet pomegranate, and blackberry juniper magnolia.  The idea with these is to layer them either two or three at a time.  I think it's a super cool concept.  Three individual scents that can be layered for a total of 7 different scents!  That seems like a steal to me.

Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs 
This is a super interesting product.  It's a self-tanner, but it's temporary.  Think of it as foundation for your legs.  I think the concept is kind of cool, but I don't love the idea of having to reapply it every day for a tan look.  It comes in 5 shades, and I received the 'Light' shade.  It went on pretty evenly, although I had to work to make sure it got smoothed out on the backs of my knees. The color was perfect for my white legs, not too dark but still a good amount of color. It didn't wear onto my clothes or furniture, which I really liked. I go back and forth on how much I like/dislike the one application only idea. I can see the benefit but also find it a little irritating to have to do each time I want some color. Altogether, though, I was really pleasantly surprised by this product.

Monday, May 11, 2015

"When I Count Blessings" Chalkboard Sign Tutorial & FREE Printable

Chewie and I recently (if you consider February recent?!) announced to our families that we're expecting a baby!  And I wanted to do it in a super special way - so, of course, I scoured Pinterest for hours when we found out, looking for the perfect way to tell everyone.  I eventually found this:

I absolutely fell in love with the concept and wanted to create one for our moms that excluded the great grand children portion, but couldn't find a great tutorial for it anywhere.  The only thing I found mentioned using chipboard and doing your own woodwork.  NOT. MY. KIND. OF. CRAFT.

I brainstormed ways to tweak this into something that would work for me and was relatively simple.  And I think the outcome turned out pretty fantastic!

To make yours, you'll need:
  • A base of some sort - I bought these wooden pretties at Michael's for $8.99
  • Chalkboard paint - I got mine (Folk Art brand) at Walmart for $4.99 
  • Paintbrushes
  • Pen
  • Paint pen in whichever color you choose - mine was silver
  • Chalk
The first thing I did was measure the size of the space I could actually use for the words.  It was about 10x14.

Next, paint!  And paint some more.  All in all, we painted 3-4 coats of chalkboard paint on each wooden sign.  We followed the instructions, which said to paint a coat and let it dry for an hour.  

Once the paint is dry and cured, I printed out the words in the font I wanted to use.  I created a document scaled to size to do this, which you should be able to do with any word processing file (I used powerpoint).

I cut out the words and placed them on the sign in the way I wanted them arranged and traced over all of the letters with a ball point pen, pressing firmly to leave an indent in the wood that I then traced with the silver paint pen (tutorial I used here).

Once it was dry, I added the numbers in chalk at the bottom, and voila!  I love love love how they turned out and that the chalkboard aspect allows for changes to be made later on to the numbers on the board!  Plus, it was a super easy and quick craft to do.  I hope you enjoy making one yourself!

(Funny story related to this bottom picture - our young niece thought that the crossed out 7 was a mistake and 'helped' grandma and grandpa by erasing it!  After a laugh, the 7 was added back for the full effect. :)

Happy crafting!

PS - We gave these to our moms back in February, and we were SO pleased with their responses - to the baby as well as the project.  :)

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Practical Ways to Love on a Grieving Friend

It was about this time two years ago that my sister, Kasie, died.  And it was difficult, incredibly difficult.  We learned a lot about what's actually helpful and what wasn't helpful at all, and I'd like to offer some of what we have learned for the sake of helping others (whether you're grieving or helping a grieving friend).

Listen Listen Listen  
Love in, grief out.  Let me repeat that - love in, grief out.  Love. In. Grief. Out. 
I've heard this idea referred to as "the ring theory" (click for a really helpful illustration).  The idea is, if you're speaking to someone closer to the deceased than you, offer comfort and dump your grief on someone else not as close as you are.  Those closest are having a hard enough time dealing with their grief to add the weight of yours on top of that.  That being said...

Maybe they need to be angry.  Listen.
Maybe they need to weep and weep and weep some more.  Listen.
Maybe they need to hash through their emotions.  Listen.
Maybe they need to share good memories about their loved one.  Listen.
Maybe they need to scream.  Listen.
Whatever they need.  Listen. 
It's hard to know how to respond, and there are plenty of articles, books, and blog posts out there about what to say and not to say.  But, in general, just be genuine.  Really listen to them, and respond with sincerity.  That might mean crying with them.  It might mean just saying I'm sorry.  It might mean sharing a special or funny story about you and their loved one.  Whatever it is, just try to avoid quippy remarks.  We know they're in a better place.  We know they're not suffering anymore.  We know they wouldn't want us to be sad.  But it's still hard, and hearing those things doesn't help much.  
So again, love in, grief out.  And listen.

Bring meals
This one is so so so simple but so often over-looked by the friends of those grieving.  And we allow ourselves so many excuses: other people have probably brought meals, we don't want to bother them, we don't know their allergies, etc.

But - let me tell you - it doesn't matter.  It just does. not. matter. 
None of those excuses are good enough.  Who cares if they have too much food??  And why would it be a bother to simply drop off some fried chicken or a casserole??  And allergies - they know what they can and can't eat - they'll just be more appreciative that you were thoughtful enough to bring something by to them than a stupid allergy.  Food speaks love in big ways to people who are grieving. 
By the time Matthew and I got to my family in TX (less than 24 hours after Kasie's death was confirmed), they already had so much food dropped off that some had to be frozen.  But no one offered up a single complaint.  Not one.  We were starved by the time we got there, and there was plenty of food for us to find something without having to go to the store or grab fast food.  I can't begin to tell you how huge of a blessing this really was to our whole family.  They went quite a while without having to bother with cooking, and that's a big relief in the midst of grief.  Plus, so many people come by to offer their condolences that having food around is a real non-burden for those who are grieving.

Don't wait for them to ask for things or help - just give it anyway
Most grievers are actually in need of help, whether it's a ride to the airport, financial help, or just a babysitter for a night out together to discuss everything.  However, most of them find it hard to ask for that help for several reasons.  Many times, they don't really know what they actually need and, therefore, don't know how to ask.

When Kasie died, several of our friends asked if we needed anything or offered their help (in general terms) if we needed it.  However, we honestly were so blind-sided by the situation that we didn't even know what we needed at the time.  But a couple of our friends didn't ask - they just helped.  I know it can seem kind of obtrusive to just say "we're going to help whether you like it or not", but it really wasn't.  It was actually a relief.  They said here's our help, we love you.  Here's some money to help pay for your last-minute flights, we love you.  Here I am to pick you up from the airport so your family doesn't have to worry about it, we love you.  And that has resonated with us so much even now, two years later.

Give them space
On the flip side of helping with no options given, there's a fine balance of giving your grieving friends space to grieve privately as well (especially if that's what they need).  We were fortunate to be given lots of love through social media and mailed cards and texts, but most of our friends didn't really bother us.  They let us know they cared but didn't expect anything from us in return.  It gave us the space to wrestle with emotion and plans without feeling the need to make a personal response to each text or comment.  Grief is exhausting, and feeling a burden to socialize with your caring friends is even more exhausting.  It was so nice to know we had friends and loved ones who cared but also knew to give us the room we needed to just grieve.  Don't ignore them - just give them space.

Show a sign of support a few months later
This doesn't have to be anything huge: maybe a card or quick phone call/text to say you're still thinking about them as they continue to grieve.  One of the hardest things about grief is it isn't a fast process for those close to the deceased, but it is for most other people.  After a few months, most people have more or less moved on and find returning to 'normal' life isn't very difficult.  Meanwhile, those close to the situation are usually still grieving pretty heavily and feel like the rest of the world has kind of forgotten.  And it's nice to know that your friends are still thinking about you and haven't forgotten the life of your loved one when it seems that all others have.

I think this list could probably go on forever for the specific needs of different people in different situations, but I think these things are good for just about anyone going through the grief process.  All it takes is a little effort and a lot of love.  It goes a really long way.

And, as a side note, we are continually grateful for all the love, encouragement, and support that we are still receiving from our family, friends, loved ones, and those following Kasie's case.  If you'd like to receive updates about Kasie's case, you can follow our Facebook page at Remembering Kasie Clary #9 Forever.

For related articles regarding Kasie's death and grief, see:

Losing Kasie

When It Hurts

Jesus Loves Murderers Too

8 Things I'm Learning About Grief