Category Archives: Shopping

5 Easy Ways to be Environmentally Conscious for Earth Day

Happy Earth Day to everyone out there!

In honor of Earth Day, I thought I would give you my top 5 easy ways to be environmentally conscious today and going forward.

earth day

  1. Recycle at Home – I can’t say this one enough. We recycle everything we possibly can. I am weird about it, but if you’re not, start off small. Try to have your recycling bin contain more than your trash bin at the end of every week.
  2. Use refillable water bottle. This is easy with the kids since they tend to use sippy cups that you bring with you, but consider getting one for yourself too. If you need a recommendation, I love my CamelBak Stainless steel bottle. The stainless is awesome because it doesn’t hold flavors like plastic does and CamelBak warranties all their parts. I had the mouthpiece break a couple of years ago and they completely replaced it at no charge to me.
  3. Use reusable grocery bags. I am an Aldi shopper and so I pretty much have to do this, but its a great habit to pick up anyway.  You can find reusable grocery bags pretty much anywhere for inexpensive.
  4. Accept and give hand-me-downs. We have a solid rotation system down with friends and family for kids clothing. We only have to buy clothes for special occasions and wear hand me downs the rest of the time. I love this because not only is it environmentally conscious, it saves money. We also donate clothing when it no  longer fits.
  5. Garden. We love to have a small vegetable and herb garden in the summer. I love that it teaches the kiddos about the world and life cycles plus it provides great nutrition.

Looking for a fun Earth Day project to try with your littles? This one looks like a blast and way easy.

make a wish

#JadoreDessange Dessange VoxBox Review

I received the Dessange VoxBox to review as part of my account with Influenster.

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The Dessange VoxBox came with Dessange Oleo Miracle Replenishing ShampooDessange Oleo Miracle Replenishing Conditioner, and the Dessange Oleo Miracle Replenishing Oil.

My Review

First let me say, I HATE the scent. It is overly perfumed and is a really heavy, musky smell.
That aside, the shampoo and conditioner are amazing. My naturally dry and limp hair was softer and fuller with just one wash.
The oil was my favorite product. You know those flyaways you get after blow drying or straight ironing? Those were completely smoothed out with only one squirt of the replenishing oil  and it lasted all day.
Bottom line: I will definitely continue to use the products I have and would buy these products again in a different scent.
Dessange products are available at Target and are on Amazon.

I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes.

PopSugar Must Have February 2015 Review

PopSugar Must Have is a subscription box service that sends out a monthly curated box of luxuries. It is $39.95 a month, or less, if you subscribe for a longer period of time. They offer monthly, 3 month and 6 month subscriptions. The value of the box is usually 2-3 times what you pay for it.

This is on par for my favorite subscription box, rivaled only with Golden Tote. Here is the PopSugar Must Have February 2015 Review.

Fresh Take 5 - PopSugar Must Have Review

Tarte Cosmetics Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blush

Suggested Retail $26

I am not really a blush person so I’m debating if I should try this or just give it away.

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U.S. Apothecary Rose Water Bubble Bath

Suggested Retail $30

This is such beautiful packaging. I can’t wait to try it.

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ACME Party Box Company Bamboo Heart Cutting Board & Cheese Knife

Suggested Retail $32

Ehh, a person only need so many cheese plates, but the heart shape is cute for Valentine’s day.

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Bauble Bar Mini Arrow Pendant Necklace

Suggested Retail $32

This is by far my favorite item in the box. I have worn it constantly since getting it. It is so pretty and delicate.

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Figs & Rouge 100% Natural Balm

Suggested Retail $8

This little tin of lip balm is adorable and immediately went in my purse.

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Chuao Chocolatier Ravishing Rocky Road Bar

Suggested Retail $6

I am not a huge fan of marshmallows so Kyle claimed this bar and according to him it was just ok.

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Sally Beauty FingerPaints Nail Color

Suggested Retail $5.50

This went to use immediately for adorable Valentine’s Day nails for me and my daughter.

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If you are thinking of giving PopSugar Must Have a try, please use my referral link. Thank you!

Triple Sec Taste Test

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Triple Sec Taste Taste

In our last taste test post, we compared some different quality rums and additions to see how they affected a few different drink recipes. This time, we’ll keep it simpler.

I’ve always wondered how much the quality of a Triple Sec in a Margarita matters, especially given that it could easily be overcome by all the other ingredients. So we conducted a blind Triple Sec taste test to find out.

The Test

We made two different margaritas and blind taste tested both:

  • 1.5 oz Tequila Blanco
  • 0.75 oz Cheap Triple Sec (Dekuyper) in one, Cointreau in the other
  • 0.5 oz Lime Juice
  • No salt on the rim

Final 2

The Results

If I were trying to impress anyone, I’d say there was a huge difference. There isn’t.

That said, there was a subtle but definitely noticeable difference.  The version with the Cointreau had a strong fresh orange taste and smell upfront, with a cleaner finish. Cointreau has a higher alcohol content (40% versus 15%), so it made a stronger margarita, with a crisper finish.

On the other hand, my wife preferred the version with the cheap Triple Sec (Dekuyper), as it was sweeter and not as strong. I really didn’t mind this version either.

In all, at around triple the price, the Cointreau definitely added a subtle difference. For our admittedly unrefined palettes, it probably wasn’t worth it given the other majority ingredients in the drink. In a drink where it was the majority ingredient, it might be.

 

Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas for Kids

I am not super into getting gifts for kids for Valentine’s Day, but I do like to get a little something fun. Preferably something that is not candy (they get enough of that) and not crappy plastic toys. Here are my picks for gift ideas for kids for Valentine’s Day.

Valentine's Day Gift Ideas for Kids - Fresh Take 5

1. Philips Sonicare Electric Toothbrush for Kids

With all the candy they will receive you can’t go wrong with a toothbrush. This will probably be our pick for a Valentine’s Day gift for this year. We have gone through a ton of those cheapo electric toothbrushes and are ready to invest in a highly rated and recommended rechargeable option.

2. Kinetic Sand

This has been on my wish list for the kids for a while now. A sensory sand that never dries out, sounds fantastic.

3. Thermos FOOGO Phases Stainless Steel Straw Bottle

These things are awesome for day to day use and therefore make a great gift.

4.  Melissa & Doug Deluxe Latches Board

Another toy that has ulterior motives of teaching. Parenting win.

5. Llama Llama I Love You

A cute Valentine’s Day book from the acclaimed Llama Llama series. I love gifting books and this one is perfect for helping understand what Valentine’s Day means.

 

Wantable Intimates – January 2015 Review

I subscribe to the Wantable Intimates subscription box. The box is $36.00 a month for a subscription or $40 a month for a one time purchase. Wantable also offers makeup, accessories, and fitness boxes.

wantable review

I originally got my Wantable Intimates box as a mother’s day gift from the hubby. After having two babies in close succession I felt like my underthings were looking old and stretched out. It you have been pregnant, I know you can relate. He gifted me the box as a way to slowly update my unmentionables with nice quality, cute things.

Here is a look at what I got for January 2015. Also here are my preference settings for your information.

wantable preferences

Daisy Fuentes Lounge Pant Purple

Retail Value $38

These pants are awesome. They are super comfy and long. Also they have drawstrings at the ankle so they can convert to slouchy capri pants. Good news is they are on Amazon for only $20 right now.

2015-01-23 11_12_31-Daisy Fuentes Womens Rayon Relaxed Fit Pants with Drawstring Waist and Ankles at

 

Rene Rofe Double Galoon Lace Boyshort

Retail $12

These boyshorts are the perfect way to update my collection of undies. They are flattering (sorry no picture, no way) and comfy.

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Pajama Drama Cami with Lace in Coral

Retail $21

This cami is a perfect basic. It’s soft and a really pretty color. I will most likely use it as a layering piece.

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I was a pretty big fan of this Wantable Intimates box. I love getting basic, but pretty things that will last awhile.

The best feature of Wantable though is their return policy. You can return the entire box if it just isn’t for you. They send you a shipping label and you just send it back.

I am planning on updating my settings to get something a little different for Valentine’s Day next month so we with see how that turns out.

PopSugar Must Have January 2015 Review

PopSugar Must Have is a subscription box that I pay for. It is $39.95 a month, or less, if you subscribe for a longer period of time. They offer monthly, 3 month and 6 month subscriptions.

This is on par for my favorite subscription box, rivaled only with Golden Tote. So I thought I would show you what I received for the month of January.

Fresh Take 5 - PopSugar Must Have Review

Manduka eQua Hand Towel

Suggested Retail $16

Manduka is a great brand and I can’t wait to put this to use while doing yoga. It would also be great for just a plain old sweat towel.

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ToGoSpa Eyes

Suggested Retail $12.50

This looks like a fun thing to try.

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Skin Jewel Tattoos

$18

Hmmm, I’m not so sure about these… Can a 30 year old pull these off?

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First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream

Suggested Retail $28

With winter in Minnesota, moisturizing is a must. I can’t wait to try this and love that it is a huge tub.

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KeepCup 12 oz Reusable Coffee Cup

Suggested Retail $26

I love this concept since I have become a daily coffee drinker. I just wish it came with a band color other than pink. I’m just not a pink person.

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Jack + Lucy Pom Pom Hat

Suggested Retail $32

I’m in love with this hat. It’s super soft and warm.

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General Mills Nature Valley Protein Granola

Suggested Retail $3.68

Super delicious! Kyle stole it for work right away.

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If you are thinking of giving PopSugar Must Have a try use my referral link pretty please.

 

 

 

How to Stock Your Home Bar – Updated

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**Update: After playing with the data in the spreadsheet a lot more, I’ve come up with a better list that excludes a lot of drinks that include a single ingredient you’d probably never actually buy.**

For a while now, I’ve been obsessed with making cocktails. The existence of the free Perfect Drink App for iOS hasn’t helped. It was developed by Brookstone to work with a scale they made, but I never bought the scale (you don’t need to if you have a decent kitchen scale). It does two really neat things:

  1. Lets you input what ingredients are in your liquor cabinet, and tells you what you can make.
  2. Has drink recipes complete with weights of each ingredient, so you can just place a shaker on the scale and pour your ingredients to weight.

Anyway, my main frustration has been this: What can I buy for my liquor stash that will allow me to make the greatest variety of drinks?

So, of course, I made an excel spreadsheet with most (not all) of the drinks in Perfect Drink (it’s a pretty complete recipe book if you ask me) and then sorted all the ingredients by how many times they were in any drink recipe.

So, here’s what to keep in your bar at a minimum (these are all the ingredients that were included in at least 4 drinks):


 Tier One (Used in 10 drinks or more)

Booze

  1. Gin
  2. Vodka
  3. Bourbon
  4. Triple Sec

Apertif

  1. Sweet Vermouth

Bitter

  1. Angostura Bitters

Juice

  1. Lime (Keep fresh limes)
  2. Lemon (Keep fresh lemons)
  3. Orange

Other

  1. Simple Syrup

 Tier Two (Used in more than 5 drinks)

Booze

  1. Light Rum
  2. Dark Rum
  3. Tequila Blanco

Apertif

  1. Dry Vermouth

Liqueur

  1. Amaretto Liqueur
  2. Coffee Liqueur

Other

  1. Cream

 Tier Three (Used in 4-5 drinks)

Booze

  1. Rye
  2. Absinthe

Juice

  1. Cranberry

Apertif

  1. Dubonnet

Liqueur

  1. Benedictine
  2. Peach Schnapps
  3. Galliano

Bitter

  1. Orange Bitters
  2. Campari

Other

  1. Club Soda
  2. Cola
  3. Egg White

Influenster Frosty VoxBox

Influenster Frost Vox Box

I received the Influenster Frosty VoxBox right before Christmas and couldn’t wait to play around with all the fun stuff inside. Here is what it came with:

Celestial Seasonings Candy Cane Lane® Decaf Green Tea

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ABOUT: “Replenish your mind and body and awaken your senses with Celestial Seasonings® Holiday Teas. Our Candy Cane Lane® Decaf Green Tea is made with the very finest green tea leaves, peppermint and other botanicals, because at Celestial Seasonings, we know you are what you steep. Live life well this holiday season with Celestial Seasonings.”

MY REVIEW: I am in love with Celestial Seasonings Candy Cane Lane tea. It is perfection in my opinion. No need to even add sugar or honey, it has the perfect minty taste. I love that it is decaf too, perfect for pregnant and nursing mamas.

 

Boots No7 Protect & Perfect ADVANCED Serum

ABOUT: “No7 Protect & Perfect Advanced Serum – Powerful prevention. Supercharge your skincare regime with this clinically proven serum*. No7’s highly acclaimed Protect & Perfect technology has been re-engineered to deliver even better anti-aging results. Independently tested and proven to work. This serum is powered by Matrixyl 3000 Plus™, a combination of the most powerful form of Matrixyl plus a next generation peptide that work together to help restore more youthful skin. With our patented antioxidant complex it helps protect skin from future signs of aging, keeping it looking younger for longer whilst salicylic acid promotes clearer, more radiant skin. After 2 weeks skin looks younger and more radiant, by 4 weeks skin looks clearer and fine lines are visibly reduced**. Results keep getting better with continued use. 80% of women said this serum provided the best anti-aging results they had ever seen**.”

MY REVIEW: This seemed nice, but the sample size was so small I can’t say for sure.  It would be great to try a full 4 week trial.

McCormick Gourmet Thyme

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ABOUT: “The freshest flavors deserve a fresh new look! McCormick Gourmet’s Thyme imparts a light minty flavor that is distinctively warm and aromatic. We use FlavorSealed technology to lock in the fresh thyme flavor and deliver it to you.  Our All Natural Thyme can be used throughout the day in dishes such as breakfast casseroles, hearty soups, stews, stuffing and oven-roasted chicken.”

MY REVIEW: I threw some McCormick’s Thyme on some broccoli and cauliflower I was roasting last night and it was delish! It was a fun variation from the usually salt and pepper for roasted veggies. They also suggest throwing it in egg bakes and I can’t wait to try that since we love eggs in my house.

 

Fruit Vines® Bites

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ABOUT: “Fruit Vines® Bites are a new, soft, chewy fruit candy, from the Red Vines® family, available in two fruit flavors – strawberry and cherry.  Low fat and made with no preservatives, Fruit Vines® Bites are available in three sizes: a 2oz single serve, a 5oz hanging bag and a 10oz re-sealable stand-up bag and can be found at Walmart in the West, Kroger, Walgreens, Target and Safeway and Rite Aid. “

MY REVIEW: Brace yourselves, these are awesome. Like, finish-the-whole-bag-in-one-sitting awesome. I am not even a huge fan of candy and I loved these.

 

EcoTools Full Volume Styler Hair Brush

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ABOUT: “Ideal for styling longer locks, the rounded brush design creates gorgeous volume and style.
Best Hair Type: Long hair, thin to medium hair.
Desired Look / Hair Effect: Smooth and more volume.”

MY REVIEW: I am a big fan of EcoTools brand products, I have a few makeup brushes of theirs I love, and this brush was no exception. I am ready to throw out my old round brush. This replaced it for styling right out of the shower with a blow dryer. It gave me a ton of volume which I am always in need of. You can find it on Amazon for under ten bucks.

 

Rimmel Gentle Eye Makeup Remover

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ABOUT: “At the end of the day, Just Let It Go with Rimmel London’s Gentle Eye Makeup Remover.  This Eye Makeup Remover gently removes all eye make up, including long lasting & waterproof make up, with no oily residue.  Gently remove all of your eye makeup and start fresh again in the morning!
Product Details:
– Removes all eye makeup – including waterproof mascara
– Oil Free
– Suitable for sensitive eyes & contact lens wearers.
– Dermatologist & ophthalmologist tested”

MY REVIEW: I am not a huge fan of make-up remover in general because it requires keeping cotton balls on hand, which I don’t. This make-up remover was, however, very impressive at cutting through make-up that usually would require lots of scrubbing with just a cloth and soap. I will definitely keep it on hard for the heavy make-up days.

 

Rimmel Scandaleyes Waterproof Kohl Kajal Eyeliner

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ABOUT: “Get long lasting shocking color intensity with Rimmel London’s Scandaleyes Kohl Kajal Eyeliners.  Their high intensity pigments give you an instant color impact and the ultra smooth & creamy formula glides on easily.  They are waterproof, smudge-proof, sweat-proof, heat-proof, humidity-proof and scandal- proof!
Product Details:
– Waterproof, smudge-proof, sweat-proof
– Dermatologist & ophthalmologist tested.
– Safe for sensitive eyes.
– Available in 10 shades”

MY REVIEW: Rimmel’s Scandaleyes was a little tricky to put on, but once it was on it was awesome. I wore it on Christmas eve and (embarrassingly enough) never washed my face that night. Christmas morning it still looking great while we opened presents. I have never had anything that didn’t turn crazy, smudgy in a pencil. This one’s a keeper.

 

NYC New York Color Expert Last Lip Color

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ABOUT: “Ready to take your lips to the next level? Try our NEW Expert Last Lip Color in twenty tantalizing shades. Get intense amplified color and shine that lasts up to 6 hours! Our moisturizing formula glides of easily for a silky, smooth, velvety finish for all day wear.”

MY REVIEW: I am usually a person who skips lipstick and lipgloss in general because it seems like it always rubs off so fast! I mean, like, before I have even left the house. This actually stayed on a long time and was a very flattering color. Another keeper!

 

**I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes.**

The 4 Present Christmas: Limiting Christmas to Meaningful Gifts

Do you get overwhelmed by the idea of purchasing Christmas gifts for your family especially your kids and spouse? I do. Probably because I am inherently frugal and hate the idea of meaningless junk.

The 4 Present Christmas: Limiting Christmas to Meaningful Gifts

So how does one go about giving gifts that are both meaningful and worth the money you spend on them? Have you heard of the 4 Present Christmas? A friend of mine introduced me to the concept last year. It is based on the old saying for brides on their wedding day of wearing something old, new, borrowed, and blue. As it pertains to Christmas though you try to minimize the gifts you give (especially to your children, but can be to your spouse also) to something they wear, something they read, something they want, and something they need.

Wear

Let’s be honest here, kids grow out of clothes like it’s their job. This is always a smart way to gift to a child.

Read

I love buying books so this is always an easy one for me. I try to focus on a Christmas classic type book right now as my kids are young. I think as they get older and begin to understand more we’ll focus on making these a challenge book either for them to read themselves or comprehend as I read to them.

Want

This is the hardest one for me. I have a hard time not controlling the toys and other items that come into my house. I’m working on making this a sought after item, but hopefully also an educational or imaginative play-type toy.

Need

With toddlers, the “need” gift usually means another clothing or accessories type item. This year its is new sneakers. As they grow though I could see this evolving into something like a new graphing calculator for school-oh wait, our kids won’t use graphing calculators it’ll be iPads for everyone at that point, right? 😉

How do you do it in your family? Do you limit Christmas to the 4 gifts: wear, read, want, need? If so how does gifts from Santa work? Do they count in the 4 or outside of the 4?