Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year, New Me

It's the last morning of the last day of 2011, and I am going over my list of resolutions as I drink a cup of warm coffee. I'm sure there are too many of them--I have heard that making too many or too ambitious resolutions sets you up to fail--but in a way I think it's good to want things, especially good things for myself. So, here are a list of some of the things I want to be new in the new year.

1. Stop smoking, for good
I know, I know. I had quit for many years but this year was stressful, and in a moment of weakness I picked up a cigarette. Then another one. And another. I was ashamed of myself, but it was an old, old, old habit that was SO familiar. I have cut back to 1 every other day. It's time. I love myself and my body, and cigarettes don't make me feel GOOD in the way that I want to.

2. Lose 10 pounds
Typical resolution, and probably not the best one since they say you gain weight when you quit smoking. But I have a whole year to do it. I should probably focus more on being healthy than achieving a certain number on the scale, though. Which leads me to resolution #3.

3. Be more active
This is as much for my mood as my health. I know that I love walking outside, playing with my family, having Wii competitions on Friday nights at home, going camping and hiking and biking. I am not and probably never will be a competitive sports person. I am not planning to run a marathon or become an extreme skier. But just moving around--especially outside--makes me feel alive. No more excuses this year.

4. Be more grateful
I have had this resolution before, and I think it's still a work in progress. I get so caught up in the little annoyances of daily life and all the things I wish had happened, that I forget about how wonderful my life already is. Even this list of resolutions is sort of like that--focusing on what I lack rather than what I have. I have to be careful not to let my desire to be better become a way of feeling sorry for myself. It's such a fine line. But at the end of the day, I have so much to be thankful for. My health, my friends, my family, my cats, a lovely home, a safe neighborhood, yummy food and drink, fresh air, sunrises and sunsets, intelligence, empathy, experiences, enough money to be OK... these are the things I should focus on. I will try to do that more this year.

5. Be more giving
As our finances took a dive in the past few years, I found myself no longer giving to the non-profits and organizations that I usually gave to. Even though it was rarely very much-- $20 here and there-- it was important to me, and I'm sure it added up for the cause I cared about. Not only did my financial giving stop, but I also haven't been volunteering as much as I used to. This must change. Even if I can't spare a lot of cash, I can spare an hour or two at least once a week to help someone. I know from experience that I get more out of these "volunteer" acts than I ever could give. It brings me into touch with people I would have never met otherwise, and teaches me about different people's experiences and lives.

Those are my top 5. A lot, I know. I'm starting with #1. Hopefully #3 and #4 will help with #1. And #5 I can start today. #2? Well, maybe #2 will happen on its own if I focus on the rest. Maybe...

Monday, September 12, 2011

Contest: $10 Macys Gift Card!

Just because I'm in a good mood, I'm giving away a $10 Macy's gift card, good for purchases in store or online. To enter, follow me on google friend connect, post a note below that says something you might buy with the card (gloves, socks, a new lipstick), and/or tweet this message:
"I want to win a Macy's gift card from @creep4ward and HJ's Time blog! #HJsTime"
You can leave a separate comment for each thing you do. Be sure to leave an email or be visible as a gfc follower so I can contact you if you win!
This giveaway will end on Friday, September 16th at 5pm Eastern.
Open to everyone!!! Good luck!!!!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

review to come: Hairmax products!

Won these cool Hairmax products and can't wait to fill you in on how they work! It's a 4-part system and I want to give it some time to work, but check back later and I'll post a full review for you.

Hairmax products are made to help you grow hair. They are probably best known for their laser device that helps people who are losing hair or have thinning hair. I don't have the laser (sorry) but I do have the products, so I'll let you know how it goes!

I the meantime you can follow Hairmax on twitter @hairmax or visit them at .

Review: Secret Clinical Deodorant

I'm smelly. And greasy. I admit it. And I often find my deodorant to be, well, lacking. I got this great trial pack from to see if Secret's Clinical deodorant worked any better than the other brands.

Let me tell you: it did. And now I know why. They added more of the main ingredient that most deodorants have, so it works better. They call it "clinical" because you used to not be able to get this strong of deodorant without seeing a doctor. But they changed that, and now you can buy it over the counter.

Secret clinical costs more but it is SO worth the expense. I can even feel the deodorant still working when I'm in the shower, 1 or 2 days after I put it on. It's really incredible.

If you are super sweaty like I am, you should give it a try.

Review: Riega Gluten Free Cheese Sauce Mix

Thanks to another fabulous twitter party win, I got to try a sample collection of Riega's Gluten Free Cheese Sauce mixes. They come in a bunch of flavors like PepperJack, Alfredo, White or Yellow Cheddar. Now I am not the biggest mac and cheese fan, but someone (who will remain nameless ;) ) LOVES the stuff. And he has been buying the boxes for at least 1 dollar a piece for a while. But this stuff is more economical and better for you!

The first thing I liked is that the packets let you make your own pasta. Making your own pasta from dried, boxed noodles is so easy and cheap, and we always have some on hand. Plus we mixed in some whole wheat pasta, so the mac and cheese was already healthier than the traditional boxed versions.

All you do is boil the water, cook and drain the pasta, mix the packet of powdered cheese sauce with a little milk (optional butter) and dump the pasta on top. Voila! Mac and Cheese! The sauce is a little bit runnier than your usual boxed mac and cheese, but you can add more or less milk as you see fit and that will change.

Now we are not gluten intolerant in our house but I realize this is an issue for a lot of people, including some of our friends, so I would be comfortable feeding them a recipe using this cheese sauce. Plus you can use it for more than just mac and cheese-- popcorn toppings, for example.

I can't wait to try all the varieties (I tried the cheddars first) but I expect they will all be as yummy as the first!

You should check out all the options at and see what else looks good to you!

Review: Supercharge Your Life NOW! XS Energy Drink

The folks over at Supercharge Your Life Now held a cool contest on Facebook and I won! They sent me a whole case of the XS Energy Drink to try, and I wanted to take a minute to tell you about my experience with it. All good things!

So they offer this energy drink in a bunch of flavors, like Citrus Blast, Tropical Blast, and Rootbeer Blast. I chose the Cranberry Grape blast flavor because we drink a lot of cranberry juice at our house. As you can see, they sent a whole box full of them, so I sure hoped I liked the flavor! When they arrived, I put a couple in the fridge and then waited for the to chill. I forgot about them until the next day when I realized I had a mid-morning meeting and was running late. I usually start off my day with 2 or 3 cups of coffee, but I had barely drank 2 cups and had to run. I grabbed one of these XS Energy Drinks and brought it with me. I drank it in the car on the way to my meeting and was pleasantly surprised by the flavor. A more grape flavor than cranberry, but still good.

I made it through the meeting and felt great! While I wasn't doing aerobics or anything, I did feel more alert and happy. Plus what I loved is I didn't feel at all jittery like when you drink too much coffee.

I probably felt so good because of XS Energy Drink's B vitamins. Once I looked at the ingredients I realized-- this was a powerful punch of vitamins! Just what I need!

Now XS Energy Drink is one of my top choices for energy and concentration boosts on the go. The little cans are just the right size. Oh, and I forgot the best part--- they aren't filled with sugary calories like other energy drinks! Actually XS Energy Drink has only a couple measley calories to worry about. Now that is something to write home about!

I would recommend XS Energy Drink from SuperCharge Your life for anyone who is athletic or students who need some help studying. I think it would even be good for your average person who just needs a mid-day pick me up without a crash at the end. You should check them out at and see all the other stuff they offer. I would love to try out some of their other products, like the Glister toothpaste or oral rinse. If this drink is this good, I bet other stuff is good too!

Thanks for the sample case of energy drinks, Supercharge Your Life Now! It works!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

It's Hot out there!

Who else is burning up?
Any tips for ways to beat the heat (for cheap)?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Review: Costume SuperCenter!

I love playing dress-up, even though I'm a far cry from a kid these days! I think Halloween is one of the most fun holidays ever. Not only do you get to pretend to be someone else for a night, but you get to gorge on candy while you do it! I can't think of much better.

I was lucky to be contacted by a representative from a company called Costume Super Center and they offered to send me a costume to review for this blog! I'm very excited to be able to offer my opinion.

I checked out their website Costume Discounters and took a look at all the variety. I was totally blown away by how many kinds of costumes they had! I was somehow expecting more for kids, but I was happy to see so many for adults. They had pets and kids and mens and womans Halloween costumes to choose from. What I loved best was the costumes they had by decade era-- 50s, 60s, 70s, etc. I was laughing out loud as I scrolled through the 60s costumes on their website. As soon as I saw it, I knew it was the one for me: The First Lady costume. You must check it out.

Thrilled, I told the rep that I wanted the First Lady. I mean, who doesn't want to be Jackie O for Halloween? So I was so excited when the UPS man came by today with a package for me. It came in a large plastic bag. This is what it looked like once I opened it:

So according to the insert, it seems that they offer free exchanges for products and sizes! I have to say I was impressed by that, as it seems most companies these days make you pay for returns or don't take them at all. Anyway, the actual costume was packaged in plastic too and looked like this:

You can see how cute it is, and why I picked this one! Bright pink, with a hat, jacket, and skirt. The optional accessories-wig, pearls, gloves-seem like they would be easy enough to find. I probably have some old fake pearls around here somewhere, and white gloves too.

The costume was nicely folded inside the plastic sleeve and was easy to take out. It was made of 100% polyester, which smelled a little bit too polyester-y for me. I checked and it said it could be hand washed, though, which I would probably do before I wore it out of the house. Just to get rid of the fresh-clothes smell.

I went ahead and tried it on. Here I am, dressed as the first lady:

As you can see, the jacket fit perfectly, though the skirt was pretty snug. I think I would try to let out the skirt a little bit at home before I wore it out. Otherwise I thought it was adorable. I can totally picture myself faux-waving with that cupped-hand beauty queen wave as I walked into a Halloween party dressed like this. How fun!

Overall I would say that the costume was as expected and in spite of the tight fit of the skirt, it was a success. (Anyway, the skirt's tightness has more to do with the size of my butt than the size of the skirt!) According to the invoice, the costume is priced at 13.65, which I'd say is a great deal for a full-on, ready-to go real costume. And there's no reason you couldn't keep it and wear it for more than one year.

Final word: pros were it's cheap, cute, and pretty convincing for a Halloween costume. cons were it sort of smelled like polyester, and the size was a bit small. But since the company offers free exchanges, I have the option to send it back and get another size anyway! This would only be a con, then, if I had ordered last-minute and didn't have time to wait for a replacement to arrive. So the moral is-- go buy your costumes from the Costume Super Center early!

I'd love to hear your comments about the outfit. What is your favorite Halloween costume? Do you like the sexy costumes or traditional witchy costumes? Do you make your own or buy them online?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

SurvivorSurvivor by Chuck Palahniuk

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I liked this book. I read it in about 3 days, and there were time it was hard to put down. I felt so-so at times, like I wasn't sure if he was trying to be shocking and cool or if he was being earnest at times. Hard to say. But it was a compelling story, and not just because of the fact that it was written in 1999 pre- nine- eleven stuff. So back when apocalypse and terror were still sort of abstract and pseudo-punk. It was a good read though. I feel silly because I had seen Fight Club like a zillion times but never read the book or anything else he ever wrote. I have friends who have read all his books and I was always that person in the back just nodding as if I knew what I was talking about. So this was my 1st Chuck P book and I thought yet, it was a good book. I am curious enough to read another, which I just checked out from the library. I guess knowing me, a serial non-finisher of books, it says something that I even finished this book. And I have not read fiction in a long time, either. So we will see. I will report back if I like the other book by him too.

View all my reviews

book review

Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday LifePeace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life by Thich Nhat Hanh

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Trying to get more present, so this was next to me at breakfast for about a week. A quick read, unfortunately, though I tried to read slowly. A good reminder of all I am supposed to be doing and am usually not doing. If I was in a better place, the book could be transformative. Right now it was just so-so. My own fault. I am not ready to be present yet.

View all my reviews
Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday LifePeace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life by Thich Nhat Hanh

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Trying to get more present, so this was next to me at breakfast for about a week. A quick read, unfortunately, though I tried to read slowly. A good reminder of all I am supposed to be doing and am usually not doing. If I was in a better place, the book could be transformative. Right now it was just so-so. My own fault. I am not ready to be present yet.

View all my reviews

Friday, July 15, 2011

Not the best deal ever.

Leave it to my sweetie to burst my bubble. Turns out the beautiful shirt was priced in Indian rupees, not U.S. Dollars. So it would have cost like the equivalent of 18 bucks. Still. That's awesome. I have a cool shirt from India and it still only cost 5 bucks.

Still I am a little disappointed somehow. I will get over it.

The best deal ever?

I have to share with you my most recent trip to Goodwill. I think I may have saved more on one item than I ever have in my entire career of Goodwill shopping. This is truly epic.

So, here is this gorgeous tunic. It is made of silk.

It caught my eye in the racks not only because it's silk, and it's gorgeous, but also because it had a red tag. This week, all red tags at Goodwill are half-price, so I had been scanning the aisles on the lookout for red tags, of course.

Here is a nice shirt for half off. Guess how much it costs?

So already this is a good thing: a nice shirt, made of silk (bonus!) and with a red tag. I take it out to look at it and realize it still has the original store tag attached. So it's also brand new! Score again! I'm off to the dressing room.

Dressing room was a win. It fits me perfectly. Just loose enough in all the right places. And silk-- well, I love silk on my skin. And I can't usually afford to buy silk new.

So I'm heading up to the cash register and take another look at the tag to read the care instructions. Usually silk says "dry clean only" which sucks. I sometimes hand wash it anyway, and if it makes the silk less silky, well, I only spent a few bucks on it anyway.

Yes, so I'm waiting in line at the checkout and I look down at the tag and something doesn't look right. I mean, I think my brain stopped working for a second. And I thought "no, that can't be right." So I looked again. Yes, the original tag was attached. And that tag also had the original price. How much do you think this sweet shirt cost new? $20? $40? Even $65?

Brace yourself:

Let's look at that again. The picture is kind of fuzzy. My camera doesn't take close-ups very well.

OK, first of all, WHAT? Who pays that much money for a shirt? I think my first used car cost that much! And second, I'm thinking, WHAT? I'm getting this $800 shirt for five dollars? The tax alone on the regular price would have been more than that.

I made it through the checkout without anyone running past me, grabbing the shirt, and running off with it, though I did sort of feel like all of I sudden I found something valuable or I had done something wrong.

But it wasn't wrong. No. It was very, very right.

The goddesses of thrift have shined their light upon me today.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Wii game: The Malgrave Incident

Thanks to Paul O'Reilly a.k.a. @theTechDad on twitter, I recently received a new Wii game called The Malgrave Incident. I had not heard of the game before, but I checked online and it had pretty good reviews from According to the Nintendo website:

"Mystery Case Files: The Malgrave Incident brings the intrigue and sleuthing of Big Fish Games' Mystery Case Files series to the Wii system for the first time. The game transports players to the enigmatic Malgrave Island, where they must hunt for hidden objects and solve puzzles to collect a magically powerful dust scattered across the island. Anyone can delve quickly and easily into the game's rich seek-and-solve action, using the Wii Remote controller to examine multi-layered hidden-object scenes, locate cleverly concealed items and obtain inventory items that will help to overcome brain-teasing obstacles. Multiplayer features allow players to team up and crack the case together or face off in a competitive hunt for hidden objects. (Additional controllers are required for multiplayer features and are sold separately.) No matter who's playing, it'll take sharp eyes and a keen mind to get to the bottom of Mystery Case Files: The Malgrave Incident."

You can see a lot about the game including screenshots on its website here.

Now I should say that up until now our Wii game experience has been pretty limited. We have the Wii Sports and Fit games, Super Mario 3 and Super Mario Galaxy, and a couple of the old Zeldas. Oh, and some silly tennis zombie game.

When we got The Malgrave Incident I wasn't sure what to expect. At first I was skeptical. There are a bunch of different game options and it took some time for me to navigate my way around the different games. But once we tried the game we were hooked. It is an interesting mixture of Zelda-style puzzles and adventure crossed with Where's Waldo object-finding games. And some of them are really hard! At first I thought it was a kid's game until we got to the puzzles. And man, they make you think! So far there's no fighting or violence which is good, so I would say it's fine for kids to play. But the level of skill and language used is more advanced. Not that there's explicit language, just that they use sort of long big words sometimes.

We are still working on winning the game which is also a good thing. It's no fun to play a game that's too easy. But my sweetie was up until midnight last night playing, which shows that it is addictive!

Thank you Tech Dad for letting us try out this game! We won it through a twitter party which was the first time I've won anything through a twitter party. It gave me hope that maybe it won't be the last!

Monday, July 11, 2011

10 reasons why I want to visit Virginia Beach!

Yes, it's summer, and that means family vacations and romantic getaways to the beach. I can't think of a better family vacation--or more romantic surprise--than spending a long weekend (or more!) by the roaring ocean, cool saltwater breezes, boardwalk nightlife, saltwater taffy, and mid-day dips in the sun-warmed ocean water.

There are a lot of great places to visit if you want to go to the beach. But some have more to offer than others. The reason why Virginia Beach hits the top of my best-places-to-visit list is because of all the amazing attractions they have in addition to the wonderful, clean ocean waters.

So without further ado, here are my 10 reasons why I want to visit Virginia Beach:

1. The Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center.

Just listen to some of these exhibits you'll find at the Virginia Aquarium: Coastal desert and Mediterranean Sea! Malaysian Peat Swamp! Indonesian Volcanic Island! You can see their amazing loggerhead turtles and spotted eagle rays! Did you know that loggerhead turtles can live as long as 67 years? Amazing! You can visit their website here.

2. Old Cape Henry Lighthouse.
Nothing is as classic as a scene of the ocean with a lighthouse. Just the sight of one makes me think of old novels and tales of fishermen. This lighthouse has 191 steps to the top, so you'll get a workout to help you fit into that bikini you brought to the beach! Did you know that this lighthouse was the first official lighthouse authorized by the U.S. Congress? It dates all the way back to 1791! Wow! You can learn more about the lighthouse through Preservation Virginia's website here.

3. The Jamestown Colonist's First Landing Site.
Now this is something you really can't get anywhere else: part of history of the first English settlement in the new world! And right on the north side of Virginia Beach, at Cape Henry, there is a memorial to commemorate this amazing event. What a great way to teach some history to the kids! There is a state park there that also offers camping, boating, hiking, and lots of other activities~ You can visit the park website

4. Yoga on the Beach

I don't know about you, but sometimes vacations can stress me out when they are supposed to make me relax. This is a great idea: yoga on the beach! Virginia Beach's first ever yoga studio on the ocean offers drop-in classes for only $15! You should check out their website here. Can you imagine how awesome yoga on the beach must be?

5. Symphony by the Sea.
Speaking of doing cool and unusual things by the water, check this out! The Virginia Symphony Orchestra and Tidewater Winds offer concerts multiple times throughout the summer right on the ocean at Neptune's Park! You can get a little culture and never even leave the coast! Check them out here.

6. The Boardwalk.
This is not your ordinary boardwalk. The Virginia Beach boardwalk was called one of America's favorite boardwalks by the Discovery Channel. And I'm pretty sure they would know. The boardwalk dates back to 1888! So you can enjoy your ice cream and watch the rollerbladers pass you by while taking in some history too! Check out more here.

7. The Sandler Center for the Performing Arts.
If music and yoga on the beach aren't enough for you, check out the amazing acts booked at Virginia Beach's Sandler Center! The offerings range from Fiddler on the Roof to ABBA! In Concert to the Moscow Ballet-- whoa! Plus they have a free summer concert series on Wednesdays. Can't beat that cost! Check out the lineup here.

8. Ocean Breeze Waterpark.
Yes, it's about 2 miles south of Virginia Beach, but it still counts. When you've had enough of saltwater, try out the waterpark at Ocean Breeze for more fun! With 16 waterslides, a HUGE wave pool, and a water playground, nobody has any reason to be bored! Check out their reasonable ticket prices here.

9. Mahi Mah's Restaurant

Fresh seafood and sushi, local bands on the patio, cocktails with names like "Going Coco Nuts" and "Cape Fizz"--sounds like date night to me! This is the place the locals love, and they don't want you to know about it! You should check out their menu online here.

10. The Shops at Hilltop.
Last but not least--- shopping! The shops at Hilltop are THE spot for one-of-a-kind gifts and boutique finds that will make you wish you packed another suitcase! With over 120 shops, restaurants, and services, you will find anything you need (and some things you just really, really WANT) at the Shops at Hilltop. They have been voted "best of the beach" for 15 years in a row! How can you go wrong? Read more about all their cool stores here.

Whew! That's a lot of reasons to go to Virginia Beach! And I still haven't even mentioned Mount Trashmore (what?!?!?) or the Virginia Beach Farmer's Market or the adorable Barclay Cottage Bed and Breakfast. I could go on, but you get the idea. Who's got the sunblock?

I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Virginia Beach Tourism blogging program, for a gift card worth $40. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

things I like about me

I am loving the #BeEnough campaign going on right now on twitter and through ciao mom's blog.
She wrote a great post about how we are too often down on ourselves and don't take credit for all the things that we are skilled at and the good work we do. So seeing as how I could use a confidence boost, I'm taking a stab at a few things I like about me:

1. I am smart.
2. I am well-educated. (which is not the same as smart. see how smart I am?)
3. I care a lot for my friends. (which is why I don't have too many-- it's tiring)
4. I take care of my cats. All 3 which were rescued, and that's a good thing.
5. I am a decent cook. And I really know how to appreciate a good meal.
6. I can build a mean campfire even if it's drizzling.
7. I am a good, safe driver.
8. I think my feet aren't as ugly as some other people's feet.
9. I have a good sense of humor.
10. I vote in every election.

There's a few. Take a look at some of the other great posts back on CiaoMom's page.

Affordable Artisanal Soaps!

Shout out to Shila at Affordable Artisanal Soaps! I won her Father's Day giveaway and got an awesome whipped cream shaving soap and shaving brush. The men in the house are coy about it, but they are loving it. The soap smells SO good. I mean really. really. good.

You should check out Shila's soaps at her website, or follow her on

Sorel Rain Boots

As I wrote earlier in this blog, we recently moved and the place we live now is known for being pretty rainy. Everyone has been saying how I am going to need really good rain gear. To be honest I don't even know what really good raingear is. I mean, I have an umbrella, though I am notorious for losing umbrellas by leaving them behind wherever I go. In any case, I entered to win some Tivoli Rain Boots by Sorel from Fashion Pulse Daily. Julia, the editor over there, emailed me to let me know that I actually won a pair! This is what you call serendipity.

Here is a kind of crappy photo of the boots:

I chose black but they also come in red, yellow, and blue. I figured black would match more clothes, and I'm still not quite flashy enough to pull off bright colored shoes sometimes. You need to be in a certain mood to do that. But I digress. The boots came and they are awesome! I can see what people mean by "real" rain gear now. They have good tread on the bottom and some cute polka dot pattern on the inside of the boot. Really nice. They even came with an extra pair of shoelaces-- in polka dots! I almost wish it would rain so I could try them out! (ok, not really.)

34 degrees crispbread- yum!

I love the blog by Jen over at Sugar Pop Ribbons. She's always hosting new cool contests and reviews for products I wouldn't have known about otherwise. I was super lucky last month and won a contest she sponsored with 34 degrees for their crackers! They call them "crispbreads" but they are really super thin crackers.

I got a package of EACH of their yummy flavors! Here they are all stacked up in my (otherwise empty) cupboard:

Aren't they pretty?

I haven't tried all the flavors yet but so far I am in love with the whole grain and rosemary. I would highly recommend them to any cracker lover.

Prem Soaps!

I smell so good right now. If blogger had a scratch-and-sniff option, I would use it. I got two new Prem Soaps in the mail today, along with a massage oil candle and lip balm from Prem Soaps. Lucky me, I won the soaps from sweet Sally Owen over at In My Opinion blog.

Since my skin is usually oily and generally unhappy, I requested two of the soaps with tea tree oil. I know tea tree oil is helpful since it has antiseptic and antimicrobial qualities to it. Which is what I need. I just used the tea tree and chamomile soap in the shower and was so happy with how clean and smooth my skin felt. I was reassured knowing that the soaps are all vegan, organic, and made in a kitchen in Brooklyn, New York. Their packaging is recycled paper and reusable mason jars. Bars of soap run $8 which is reasonable. You should totally check them out.

The soaps are unwrapped and in my bathroom already (lol) but here is a pic of the cute lip balm tin and candle.

I swear all my lip balms when I was a kid were in little tins like this that slide to the side! What happened to these tins? They are making me all nostalgic.

Thank you to Prem Soaps and In My Opinion blog for the contest!

JR Watkins Naturals

So the other week I was playing retweet contests on twitter like I do when I'm bored. (BTW you should follow me @creep4ward if you don't already.) I submitted a tip for the J.R. Watkins Naturals feed. They ask for tips from their followers about how they use their quality extracts. I added a tip about how when I am congested, I'll put some drops of their peppermint extract on a warm, wet washcloth and drape it over my face. The peppermint smell and humid air helps me breathe again! Well, they liked the tip and I won their weekly contest for extract tips!

What came in the mail was a full size bottle of the J.R. Watkins almond extract!

According to their website,, the company started way back in 1868 (wow!) and they say on their website:

"J.R. Watkins Natural Apothecary line of personal care contains only natural, environmentally friendly ingredients from renewable resources, avoiding chemicals like parabens, sulfates, phthalates and more and, is one of very few lines to be certified by the Natural Products Association."

They also make a bunch of kinds of soaps and personal care products.

I'm still trying to figure out what to make first with my almond extract. I have some apricots in the fridge and thought maybe an apricot-almond cake would work. I'll go search the internet for a recipe this afternoon.

Sweet! (literally!)

New blog design!

I have a new blog design! Did you notice? This one seems more sophisticated somehow. Let me know what you think!

Excited about book win!

I was lucky enough to win a Sweeps4Bloggers contest for a cool book called Art Without Compromise. It's even autographed by the author, Wendy Richmond! I just got the email that I won this morning, but I have to say I'm excited to read this book. When I was younger I used to be much more artistic-- painting, drawing, writing, collage, etc., but in the past few years I have become less and less playful in that way. I was thinking lately that I wished I could get some of that back, the playfulness that you need to be creative and artistic. We just moved into a new apartment and need something to put on our walls, but can't afford "real" art so I was thinking about maybe trying to make my own. DIY is all the rage, right? But I am not tapped into that part of myself very well.

I am hoping this book will help.

The description says:

"Art Without Compromise* will inspire artists to change the way they think about their creative landscapes, from personal goals to cultural influences to technological realities. Author Wendy Richmond helps artists to look closely at what they see every day, both in their own art-making and in the world around them. Readers will learn to develop an uncompromising commitment to finding and protecting their own unique process for making their strongest art."

It looks like you can buy the book from Allworth Press but once I get it and try it out I'll let you know what I think.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Thoughts on July 4th

So today is the 5th of July and everyone was out celebrating the founding of our country yesterday by hanging out with friends, grilling lots of meat, and watching things explode into sparks in the air. While we went outside and watched the show for a while, I got a little tired of all the loud noises, and I was worried about my cat. I guess it's normal for pets to be scared by loud sounds, but our cat was huddled under the bed for hours and would not come out, not even to eat. I felt really bad. We finally closed the windows even though it was super hot and tried to muffle the sound by turning on a fan.

Plus while we were outside we saw a little dog running free by the side of the road, and my heart sank not knowing if it was lost or had escaped and worried it would be hit. We watched as she turned into a residential area and I can only hope she was heading home.

So today I took a few minutes and looked up some web sites that talk about how to deal with pets on the 4th. Here are some that I found. If you have this issue too then you might find these useful.

Monday, June 20, 2011

hello and wins

Hello after a short break. We ended up moving and that was quite the disruption and somehow blogging and contests fell to the wayside. Now we are in our new home and I have just started entering contests and finding deals again so let's hope I have more to add to this list soon!

I won some awesome contests in the past 2 weeks, looks like I have some beginner's luck!

I won an ipad docking station from Aly Walansky, hope it arrives soon. Now I just need to win an ipad to match...

I won a $50 gift code to Renew Life supplements from the Type A Housewife: I ordered crave-b-gone and a beginner's cleanse. Hope they come soon. let me know I won $50 at They have old toys, candy, trinkets, ads, etc. for sale. I used this as my father's day gift. Don't tell....

I won a complete Carmex collection from twitter, and it came in the mail today. I had no idea they made so many kinds of lip balm and even moisturizer! Which is great because I need some. I just got a sunburn last weekend and realized we have no lotion in the house. This is just what I need as I start to peel. Yuck.

Finally I won a Braun epilator from's facebook contest. It hasn't arrived yet but I am a little scared. I never used an epilator and it seems like it would hurt. I am considering trying to sell it on ebay instead. Maybe someone else is braver.

Good luck to you in all your contesting adventures!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

CSN giveaway- modern dining room furniture!

Hi blog friends!

One thing I realized over the holidays is that our dining room furniture is totally inadequate and out of date. Now that the family has left the building and we have had a bit of time to relax, I'm looking into updating our dining room.
Lucky for me I was pointed to this website for modern dining room furniture. They have all kinds of cool stuff, not just tables and chairs but also benches and accessories and stuff to put on your new table to make it look good. Stuff like candles and pretty plates and vases for flowers.
Looking through the site I got excited about all the ideas for a new look for our living room. Our old stuffy and scratched table and chairs just don't cut it anymore. I am ready for a fresh new look!

Lucky for you, you get the chance to buy something new from this site for yourself-- for free! CSN stores has offered one of my blog readers a gift certificate for $35 towards anything at or any of the other many CSN store sites. The certificate won't cover shipping but will get you something new to spice up your look! Your house will be the envy of your neighbors and friends!

This contest will last from January 11th until January 22nd at noon EST. To enter please visit (see the link above in the post) and post the url of one thing you would like to spice up your dining room. Please only enter once. Only GFC followers will be eligible to enter. Easy enough, no? Good luck! Winner will be chosen by random and will be notified by email. Have fun!