Monday, December 31, 2012

Try, Buy, or Pass - Head & Shoulders Damage Rescue

For the last few months a coworker of mine was constantly trying new products and talking about them at work and on Facebook. At the time, I didn't think too much of it other than sometimes I'd take her advice and try something that she was mentioning out. Eventually she let on that she had joined a site called influenster and that it was a good place to go and read reviews on different products. She sent me the invitation to join and told me that from time to time they mail out products for you to try. Since I'm on the computer all day for work as it is, and since I rarely buy anything without reading online reviews first, I figured I'd give it a shot. I was lucky enough to be selected for the Head & Shoulders Voxbox. I was sent a bottle of their Damage Rescue Shampoo and Conditioner to try. It's advertisement states that you can get stronger hair in just 4 washes. I wash my hair about once a week and so finally I am 4 washes in and can give an honest review.
First off the smell of this product is just amazing. It smells slightly flowery without overpowering to the point where a guy can't use it. Overall the smell that comes off is "clean". The shampoo gives just the right amount of later. The conditioner also smells divine. It has just the right thickness to it's consistency so that you actually believe that it moisturizes you hair. It actually really delivers on that point. My hair is soft and shiny without having any of the greasy weight that sometimes happens with conditioners. I have never had any dandruff problems so I cannot review that part of this product.

 Overall, I cannot say that my hair feels any stronger. I still seem to suffer the same amount of breakage when combing. As much as I like the smell of the product and the way shine that it brings to my hair, the one negative aspect is that with every wash it fades the red out of my hair significantly. Since I know red is a hard color to upkeep I tend to use sulfate free products and this is definitely not one. My final verdict is: Try. I don't think that I will be repurchasing this product in the future. I think I'll stick with my previous sulfate free products as they provided similar softness and shine but without the significant fade in my color. For those that won't have an issue with dyed hair, or for those that have dandruff problems I would recommend that you give this a shot and see for yourself.
My air dried hair after four washes

Puerto Rico and my wedding

Last February after living together for 6 years, and being engaged for most of them, Gil made the case for why we should finally get married.  I had been putting it off in order to accomplish a few personal goals first, and because in the grand scheme of things a marriage didn't seem like that important a thing.  He made it very clear that it was very important to him, and even brought up the fact that we could marry in Puerto Rico so that my dad could attend.

As a young girl I had always imagined getting married on a beach or in a garden.  Generally somewhere that I didn't need to wear shoes.  The thought of not only having a wedding, and "officially" starting a future together exactly the way I pictured it was too great to ignore.  So the wedding planning began.  Honestly at first it was a total mess and I almost gave up.  Accommodations, invitations, colors, bridesmaids, centerpieces  and so on was just too much.  Thankfully my Dad came to the rescue and got me a wedding planner.  Thank the universe for wedding planners.

I just gave her an estimated party size, told her that I loved Lillies and roses, that I was sticking with the color Ivory because it matches everything, and that I wanted to do the ceremony beachside.  I just wanted a classic, clean, and simple affair.  Oh and that the cake must be strawberry shortcake.  After that she took care of everything else.

The interesting thing about taking such an important step was that it really showed us who our real friends and family were.  We set the date and invitations were out by March with an RSVP by June.  The ceremony itself was to take place in November.  We took into consideration that some people would not be able to take the time off, or incur the expense for a destination wedding.  I worked out a deal to rent a six bedroom villa on the beach for a week with the option of the one next door so that the weeks accommodations would be about $330 a person which I thought was an amazing deal.  In the end, the most unexpected people made every attempt to attend, and others whom we thought would be the first on board didn't even respond to say they couldn't make it.

The week spent with the ocean as our backyard, with no work or responsibilities, on a beautiful island, with the most amazing friends and family was the best week of my life.  I was able to swim in the sea the morning of my wedding and that is an indescribable feeling.  Come 5pm I squeezed myself into my wedding dress, which due to my love of food left no room for sitting, and laid in the back of the car on the way to the hotel.  I had my beautiful, shoeless, sunset wedding on the beach and just as we were saying our vows it started to rain.  My daughter was my flower girl, and I kept things simple and had no bridesmaids.

The reception had some fantastic food and sangria's   The only hitch of the night was that our DJ was terrible.  Like the worst DJ in the entire world.  Thankfully my 30 guests were all awesome people and we still had a great time.  When the festivities were over we all rode back to our villa and to my surprise  the inn further down the coast was releasing paper lanterns.  It was the perfect ending to the perfect day, I wouldn't trade that day for anything.

Goodbye 2012, Hello 2013

This year has not been particularly bad to me.  I completed a year of marriage, as well as a year of being a dog owner.  I went on my first real road trip.  My daughter got older and smarter.  I saw the Pacific Ocean.  I discovered some kick ass blogs.

I mean overall, who can complain about that?!

And so for the first time in a long while I can look back on a year and actually feel happy and nostalgic.  I am definitely looking forward to some of the things that will be happening in 2013, as well as dreading a few other things.  I will be moving.  I'm not yet sure if it will be to another rental apartment, or to a place of my own.  A little more time will tell.  I will be traveling overseas again, and if I'm really lucky maybe I'll catch some aurora action.  And these things will all be happening in the first quarter of the year.

But at this same time however, I may be giving up my wonderful handsome pug Hamilton.  That's going to tear my heart up.  My brother will also be getting deployed to Afghanistan for the first time.  That isn't going to be easy on anyone in my family.  So yes, new year, new experiences, new emotional challenges.

With challenges in mind however, I decided that for the first time in my adult life I'm going to try setting a sort of resolution set.  As I love reading A Beautiful Mess (those girls have changed my life!) I was inspired to set 4 simple goals for the year.

1 A pie a week challenge -  I love baking things.  Baking is actually quite a stress reliever for me.  The things I bake may not always look beautiful, but the are delicious 99% of the time.  I decided that I'm going to try to bake at least 1 pie a week.  Sweet, savory, both, the world is my oyster.  I'll pick a few recipes each week, and Gil and I will agree together on which to try.  My munchkin is mostly crust crazy so she could care less what's in them.

2 Move more each day  - I sit in an office most days.  Literally staring at a screen.  This is really not much of a way to live.  I don't intend to lose weight, or go on any real diets this year.  I just want to make it a goal to get at least 30 minutes of some sort of exercise a minimum of 5 days a week.  Maybe the treadmill, maybe a workout video, a dance class, a pole class, just a regular walk, a park outing with the little one.

3 Expand and explore my professional life -  I haven't been satisfied with my current job in a long while.  I wanted to become a Registered Nurse, but since I have the munchkin and Gil doesn't have a set work schedule I can't do this in the foreseeable future.  Thus I plan on taking some time this year to explore my career options.  I want to find something that I can be passionate about.  Depending on the circumstance I don't mind making a lateral move financially, or even taking a bit of a pay cut.  I just need to explore what I find stimulating and rewarding and take things from there.

4 Make quality bonding time - I love hanging out with my daughter and she generally finds most things I do interesting.  She wants to help me cook, but I don't let her for fear of cuts and burns.  She wants to help me sew but again, similar fear of harm.  I want to take her to cool places, but she tends to get herself grounded often.  Lately for stealing electronics, and lying.  So generally weekends are spent either loafing around the house, running errands like grocery shopping, laundry, or me scolding her about needing to read more.  This year I want to spend some quality bonding time with her.  Especially since she'll also have a hard time if/when we re-home our dog.  Maybe I'll get her a mini sewing machine, or I'll let her mix and measure ingredients in the kitchen.  Maybe I'll find a craft project that we can work on together.  This year, I want to make a lot of memories with my honeycake.

So that's that.  Those are my 4 goals for this upcoming year.  Unofficially I'll also work on blogging consistently   This can also help me keep track of and monitor the success of these goals.  Happy New Year Everyone!!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Try, Buy, or Pass. Crest Whitestrips

I am a sucker for smiles.  Teeth are a big deal to me, although with my general avoidance of the dentist you wouldn't think that were the case.  Long story short, when I was 12 I had two cavities drilled without anesthesia.  It took 12 years for me to go to a dentist again.  Now I drag myself in every 8 months or so, but I make sure to brush and floss at least twice a day.

Anyway, the point is that two years ago I went to a concert, looked at the resulting pictures and thought "Jesus Christ my teeth look nasty!"  Brushing or no, I drink at least one cup of coffee per day, and spent a year or two as a smoker in my early twenties.  I had not until that day really noticed how yellow my teeth were getting.  As a generally broke parent, I didn't want to spend big bucks on getting my teeth professionally whitened when that money could be used for my kid, or for a cool vacation or something.  I decided to give Crest Whitestrips a shot.

I had found a coupon, went to my local Kmart and got a box of the 14 day strips for about $30.  I used them as directed.  Over all they weren't terrible.  I had to make sure I didn't need to eat or drink twice a day for the 30 minutes required otherwise the strips would slip off.  Other than that and some tooth sensitivity the whole thing was easy peasy.  The results were spectacular!!!  My husband could not believe it.

I have become an avid user of these whitestrips and since my original go at it they have changed the strips themselves so that they don't slip off easy and you can actually eat, drink, and talk with them on.  The price has also increased some, but what hasn't gone up in price lately/ I whitestrip about once per year and get compliments on how white my teeth are all the time.  These are worth the investment.  Buy

The picture that changed it all

Post Whitestrips discovery

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Maryland/DC 09

My munchkin in her "Thinking Chair" at the Motel 6 in Laurel.
My girls and their Daddy at the Lincoln Memorial

This trip to go visit my step-daughter in Maryland and to have a family trip to DC is what inspired Gil to have our 50 States challenge.  The drive from the Bronx to Laurel was not too bad, and it was the first time since our first year together that I took a long drive/ride somewhere.  

Our girls really enjoyed themselves and we took some pretty nice pictures there. This was the perfect official beginning to our travel together.  

Las Vegas 2009

Gil and I made a vow back in 2008 that during our foreseeable time together, we would attempt to visit all 50 states.  We live in New York so New Jersey, and Connecticut were done pretty quickly.  So much so, that we never even bothered to try to take any specific pictures there.  Although pictures exist.

In any case, in 2009 I decided that after being over the age of 21 for so many years, it was time for a real vacation and it was time to visit Las Vegas.
The view from our room
Gil and I got to Vegas on a Thursday night.  I was totally ready to party but he just wanted to go to sleep!  Once he got a good nights rest in we had a pretty awesome time.  I had booked us a room at Caesar's Palace right in the center of the strip.  We explored a bunch of hotels, got sucked into a timeshare presentation, caught a Cirque du Soleil show, rode a roller coaster (which I cried after doing), and broke even on our gambling.
Too much to drink!

I also made it a point to arrange for a full day trip to the Grand Canyon.  We took a bus that went through the Hoover Dam and a couple of the little side towns down Route 66.
Williams Arizona
I was definitely not prepared for the cold winds at the Canyon.  And since I am an idiot, I also forgot to pack sneakers so I spent an entire day walking through the Grand Canyon in flip flops.
Someone was nice enough to take a picture of the two of us.
Overall, this trip was a great start to our "hit every state" life plan and once I reach that goal, maybe I'll try this again.

A New Beginning

It has been a pretty long time since I've tried blogging.  I had told myself while prepping for my wedding that I would blog avidly so that those attending, and those that wanted to attend but couldn't make the trip would feel included in the process.  I totally failed at it.  So here I am trying again, and trying something new for me.  This blog will be a mix of things.  Recipes that I've tried.  Trips that I have taken.  Products that I have tested.  Projects that I have started.  All in all I want this to be a chronicle of awesome, and sometimes not so awesome things.  It's so easy to dwell on stress, and work, etc and to never really take the time to look and reflect on the experiences you are actually having.

So with that said, here is to my new blog!  Hopefully I'll do way better this time.