July 24, 2014

Busy Summers Pass By Quickly

There's been something happening constantly all summer, so I am being terrible with blog updates. It's not that this blog isn't fun or valuable, but we've been traveling, working, playing, gardening, and spending time with family.

To hold you over until the next product-focused post, here's a cute picture of my dog, Huckleberry. He's a "working" Basset Hound (aka non-confirming to breed standards). Kids at parks love petting him and he loves sniffing and giving them kisses. He goes with us when we take Miss P to the park and he likes to socialize at the dog park, though mostly with people rather than other dogs. He'll be two next week but he's still very much a puppy. He's a sweetie.

July 14, 2014

Adovia Mineral Eye Gel Moisturizes Gently

I haven't been working on many Tomoson promotions lately, being more careful about what I'm agreeing to review. It had been a while when Cleopatra's Choice invited me to try another one of their products, a Mineral Eye Gel. Since I had enjoyed working on a previous Adovia review (Dead Sea Mud Mask), I agreed to try the eye gel.

I'm no stranger to eye creams. Four years ago, I got a free jar of a Lancome eye cream through an American Cancer Society program for cancer patients. I really liked how noticeable the results were, but the cost made continuing to use the cream completely impractical. It would have been $180+ a year just for eye cream and that's just way out of my budget for one small, very targeted product.

Since then, I have tried several eye creams, from major to lesser known brands at various price points, but none wowed me. I know I'm not likely to see fine lines disappear or dark circles magically vanish, but I do expect more moisturized skin around my eyes (which can reduce the appearance of dark circles) and to look and feel more refreshed without irritation. Nothing was honestly doing it for me so I'd given up and mostly used gentle facial moisturizers within a safe distance of my eyes.

Adovia Mineral Eye Gel has a retail price point that seems to be middle of the road compared to other products I've tried. I'm comfortable with that price, knowing I'd probably have to buy a new jar every 4-6 months.

My Adovia Mineral Eye Gel sample arrived mid-June and I used it nearly every day for three weeks before I decided how I felt and waited another week before reviewing it. So many eye creams and gels have big product claims and I wanted to give this one a chance before I formed an opinion. You can't really try a product once or twice and know how well it will work longer term. In summer, when my skin isn't as dry, a month seemed like a reasonable amount of time to test this eye gel.

Overall, I really like the Adovia eye gel as a strong moisturizer. Eyes aside, I found it to be gentle and non-irritating, an excellent moisturizer, super cooling (great for summer or when I'm feeling exhausted), and was pleasantly surprised that the jar traveled well on a recent road trip that included flying, driving, and packing and unpacking 5 times. It didn't break or leak!

I can't say I've yet noticed a major change in puffiness and dark circles, but I liked how it felt enough to consider it worthwhile. It's like putting cucumber slices on your eyes but the feeling lasts longer. I actually like using this eye gel as an allover face moisturizer once a week because it is super rich and seems to fix my very dry skin overnight. However, I noticed if I forget to wash my face in the morning, I break out a little. This isn't the intended use for the product, so I can't knock Adovia for those little zits.

I'm pretty pleased. My only wish is that the jar was a pump, just to be sure bacteria doesn't build up over time with air and finger exposure.

You can find Adovia Mineral Eye Gel on Amazon or visit the Adovia website for more information.

The sample of Adovia Mineral Eye Gel was provided for free through a service called Tomoson Tomoson.com. Though I received a sample to review, I am still sharing my personal experiences and opinions.

June 29, 2014

Dr. Scholl's Custom Fit Orthotic Inserts Aren't For Me

BzzAgent sent me a set of Dr. Scholl's Custom Fit Orthotic Inserts to try for free. My foot measuring experience was pleasant and easy, almost fun actually. I measured 120 probably because I'm small and don't put a lot of weight on my feet and my feet have normal arches. I tend to stand more on my heels than the balls of my feet when standing still, so I was hoping these would help relieve some of that pressure and disperse it more evenly.
I was pretty disappointed and want to speak to why I didn't feel the product's claims matched my experience since this is such a personal product and everyone is likely to have a unique experience. To understand my responses, here's some helpful info:

  • I am very thin and short (low weight)
  • My arches are considered "normal"
  • I wear a size 5-1/2 shoe and have narrow feet 
  • I only own one pair of traditional sneakers 

My Experience
First, Dr. Scholl's claims the inserts will fit easily into most shoes, including casual shoes, dress shoes, sneakers and work shoes. This was not my experience. They definitely too thick and wide for all of my dress shoes, work shoes, and casual shoes. My foot wouldn't stay in my shoes. I tried my Merrell sneakers which I use for long hikes and walks, camping and trips to the park and my foot wouldn't stay in those either, even when I took out the original insole that came with the shoe. At least with those, the shoes were finally wide enough to fit the Dr. Scholl's inserts. But you can see in the pictures below, the sneaker still looks a bit pushed open after the insert was placed inside the shoe.


Another product claim is that the inserts will stay securely in place, thanks to the ¾ length design. I'm not sure why the 3/4 length has anything to do with why they stay in place. Yes, the claim is accurate and they did stay in place, but the 3/4 length meant that when I took out the old insole, the shoe felt weird, even more uncomfortable then with the new insole over the old one.

my foot isn't all the way in the sneaker with the inserts inside
The inserts are supposed to provide heel cushioning to relieve foot pressure but I noticed how my heel felt even more pressure than without. I was hoping these would balance the pressure, but it seemed worse.

Lastly, the inserts are supposed to place your feet into a more supported position and disperses pressure levels more evenly. I just didn't have this experience. I felt like my heels were too high up so it was harder to walk normally.

At this point, I'm thinking maybe my feet are too small and narrow, my arches too "normal," and my body weight too light to get much benefit from the Dr. Scholl's inserts. I'm going to have my husband try them out because he has flatter feet and a lot more pressure to deal with. He's also more of a traditional sneaker-wearing guy.

June 27, 2014

Ordered My Next eSalon Kit

It's been almost two months since I visited eSalon in Culver City. My hair color still looks lovely. It's slightly faded and I have 1/2" of root growth and some grays coming in, so I figured it was time to order another kit. I couldn't recall how long processing and shipping takes, so I planned to color after an upcoming trip to Fresno.

I went online yesterday, uploaded the below photo from just after my eSalon color experience and a picture of me now (it's a goofy picture so I'm not sharing here). We've had crazy days of either insane bright sun or major storms, so getting a realistic view of my hair was tricky. In my order, I wrote that I wanted to maintain the color I had done in May, mentioned the grays and the roots and set my reorder schedule to 10 weeks. Amazingly, the order was processed the same day and went out via DHL. There's a very small chance, but still a chance, the kit will arrive before I leave on Monday. That would be amazing!

Now, all I need is a weather miracle because that nice, shiny, smooth hair in that pic is what I can normally achieve at home. However, we are in tropical craziness up here in Minnesota so no matter what I do, it frizzes out. My iron can't set it smooth, not even with my help from my most trusted products.

June 25, 2014

Hillshire Farm American Craft Sausage Packs Big Flavor

It's been a while since I posted about a BzzAgent campaign. One of the more recent campaigns is for Hillshire Farm American Craft sausage, but I couldn't find it anywhere in town. After a few weeks, I finally found them during my weekly grocery trip, so I bought both the Garlic & Onion and the Smoky Bourbon flavors. Hillshire Farm offers a third flavor, JalapeƱo & Cheddar, but I don't like spicy food and was pretty sure my daughter wouldn't try that one, so I didn't get it.

I have never cooked sausage before. I am not sure if I've even eaten sausage before, don't laugh. We rarely have hot dogs, so I wasn't sure what I'd think of of the Hillshire Farms sausage. I was eager to try them because I do appreciate the handcrafted quality, the slow-cooked small batch process, and definitely wanted to try the Smoky Bourbon first. Grill times were right on the package, so I just cooked them for the time indicated, turning once, and they were cooked just perfectly.

The outside was crisp and char-broiled, just like you'd expect on the grill. The inside was juicy and full of smoky, bourbon flavor. Delicious!

grilled Hillshire Farm American Craft Smoky Bourbon sausage
I also made one of the Garlic & Onion, which was delicious too. I preferred the bourbon variety, just because I like that flavor better than onion, but they're both yummy. I used them in a pasta dish and even my picky four-year-old ate them, and she usually doesn't eat much meat.

loving a bowl of pasta with sausage
My husband said, for sausage, the nutritional information was better than he'd usually expect. He's in the process of losing weight and is very conscious of calories, sugars, and protein. Overall, it was actually worth the wait, and my first experience cooking sausage at home was a success. Everyone ate what I served and they all seemed to enjoy it. We'll be having leftovers for lunch today!

Curious to know more? Check Hillshire Farm American Craft Facebook and Twitter accounts.

June 18, 2014

Coloring Long, Thick Hair: My Sister's Experience with eSalon

My sister and I have very similar hair, but while mine is just below my shoulders, my sister's is extremely long. Unlike me, she's also not colored in a long time, so the top half is natural medium brown and the bottom half is a light rusty red color.

With Kailee about to graduate from college, I offered to do her hair with color from eSalon. We uploaded a couple of photos and worked with one of eSalon's super helpful color specialists who suggested a demi-permanent color that would bring my sister to an overall natural warm brown which is easy to maintain as she goes off to start her post-college career.

the color kit from eSalon
Kailee needed more product than I would need, so eSalon sent a complementary second bottle to cover all her hair. It's a nice perk just for the first time you order, so you can be sure to get complete coverage the first time rather than ordering a bottle and later realizing you need two.

opening the eSalon kit

all the essentials in one box
I ordered a kit to help us with Kailee's first eSalon experience, so we had clips, a mixing bowl and brush, and a timer to make sure we get as close to a professional color application as possible.

I don't have a lot of full length pictures of Kailee right before we colored, but you can see below, she had uneven, grown out color, which meant we couldn't just squeeze a bottle on and hope for the best.

eSalon's team anticipated we'd need to take extra care when coloring Kailee's hair and provided thorough step-by-step directions, which I was very careful to read this time. We were given the process and the exact timings to use, even when to begin mixing the second bottle in anticipation of coloring the ends. They left nothing to chance so I was feeling confident we'd have an even result.

I carefully clipped up Kailee's hair into several sections. She has so much hair, I might have been better ordering a second set of clips, but we managed just fine. It took a while to cover the roots and part line because we were using the brush and working with small sections, then she waited patiently for a bit before we worked through the ends and rest of the hair. You'll see above, we used an old towel to protect her shirt. Like most hair color, when you have long hair, you're likely to get it on your shirt or shoulders if you don't cover up.

When all the color was worked into her hair, Kailee waited a bit, relying on the eSalon timer to remind her to rinse in a few minutes. When it was time to rinse, I added some water to the applicator bottle so Kailee could do a color rinse. Rinsing seemed to go well and didn't take too long. She let her hair air dry that day. I had to leave before her hair was dry, so I had to wait a few days to see the final result.

A few days later, it was time for graduation. My first time seeing Kailee's hair dry after we colored it was at the recessional, in her cap and grown. I loved the warmth that is especially noticeable in the sun. Her hair felt soft and looked shiny. When I asked how she styled it that day, she said she didn't do anything special. That's how she woke up.

After graduation, we went on a little house hunting trip and one night she let me style her hair like Elsa from the Frozen movie. Her hair texture was really soft and it was easy to comb out the knots after a few days of running around looking at apartments.

You can see from the back, how beautiful this shade of brown is and how smooth and shiny her hair is. This is without product. I love the color on her, which looks very natural. I suspect she won't have trouble with noticeable roots and it will be easy to maintain the color by ordering a new kit every 8 weeks or so.

Kailee's hair came out beautiful. Our mom likes it so much, she's ready to make some time to try eSalon herself. I'll post on that experience in a few weeks.

Want to know more about my eSalon experience? Here's what happened when I visited eSalon headquarters and had my hair done by one of their talented colorists.

Want to try eSalon? Let me refer you and get $10 off your first order. Subscribe to their service and your first order is just $9.95 plus shipping!

June 10, 2014

Upcoming Product Reviews via BzzAgent

I haven't posted BzzAgent reviews in a while. It's not that I haven't had anything going on, but there have been a few delays that are out of my control. I'm really anxious to try Hillshire Farm American Craft sausage, but so far I've had no luck finding it at Walmart (where I'm expected to get it) and online, I continue to see it listed as out of stock in my local stores.

I'm also signed up for a Dr. Scholl's campaign. A few weeks ago, I received an incorrectly sized product and get to keep it for someone who fits the inserts, but I'm still waiting on my pair.

So here's some info on these fabulous products:

Hillshire Farm American Craft Sausage:

  • Comes in 3 flavors - Smoky Bourbon (yummmm!), Jalepeno & Cheddar, and Garlic & Onion
  • Slow-smoked in small batches
  • Handcrafted with real ingredients

I don't eat a lot of sausage or hot dogs, but I do appreciate good flavor and a chance to use the grill. The tidbit about these made with "real ingredients" cracks me up though. Real, as opposed to???

Dr. Scholl's Custom Fit Orthotic Inserts:
I probably have pretty normal feet. They're small, but not flat or too high of an arch. I don't wear sneakers unless I'm on a camping trip, so I don't yet know how I'll use these inserts. But, I'm happy to give them a try when they arrive. I went to Walmart and had my feet analyzed and found I'm the lowest number (meaning I probably don't need these). My husband was the highest number, so I'm tempted to buy a pair for him to try.
  • All-day relief for tired feet
  • Customized heel cushioning
  • Places feet in more supported position
  • Fit easily into most shoes and stay in place
I'm also trying a retinol cream my husband found for me on Amazon and plan to try eSalon again at home (all by myself) to touch up the color in late June or early August. I haven't had a need to yet. It's been more than a month and my color still looks fabulous!