Disclosure: Some posts on this blog are sponsored, meaning that I received goods, services, or monetary payment for my writing. My opinions however, are not 'purchased' and are always 100% my own. Posts contain affiliate links that I earn a commission on. This disclosure is done in accordance with the FTC 10 CFR, Part 255, Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Contest: You could win with Truvia!

Win a trip to New York in the Truvia Baking Star Contest!

Have you seen the commercials advertising Truvia's baking contest? It isn't just for bloggers like me, it's for cooks everywhere!

If you have a video camera, a love of creating yummy food in the kitchen, and a desire to win a trip to New York... then this contest is definitely for you!

Here's the Rundown:

Truvia just launched its new Truvia Brown Sugar Blend, and to help promote it they're hosting a contest to let cooks & bakers everywhere shine in a video that showcases their talents! You can find recipes that feature Truvia Brown Sugar Blend and more info about the contest on their website.

What is the New Truvia Brown Sugar Blend?

It's a mixture of Truvia and brown sugar that offers a brown-sugar-like taste, with a similar texture and volume... but it has 75 percent fewer calories than regular brown sugar!

So about this contest prize...?

Entering the Truvia Baking Star contest gives you the chance to win a trip to New York and an all-expense paid professionally-filmed baking video that will be promoted by Truvia! 3 finalists will head to NYC for a bake-off, get to meet Truvia brand reps, chat with reporters and editors of top media publications, and even meet four of the most-popular food vloggers around!

So what are food vloggers saying about the contest?

Check out videos from Gaby Dalkin, Byron Talbott, April Moore and Joanne Ozug to see the recipe vids they created to kick off the contest!

How long do I have to enter?

Not long, so you'd better hurry with those vids! The Truvia Baking Star contest videos are due by midnight EST on October 7, 2014!

Connect:

Find out more about the Truvia Baking Contest on their website at www.Truvia.com, then make sure to connect with them on social media via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube. Want to submit a video? Click HERE to go straight to the contest page!

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Disclosure: I received no compensation for this post and, as always, my opinions are purely my own.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The #VitaVoxBox: What I got for free from Influenster!

Get Free Stuff

We live in a society where "free" is a code-word for "scam", and yet everyone is always trying to get something for "free".

So does free really exist? Can you ever really get something (good) for "free"? I think the answer is yes - but you definitely need to know where to look! As a blogger, I'm constantly on the lookout for any opportunities that will allow me to review products for free. So far, a site called Influenster is one of the best things I've found that will give the everyday person a shot at getting awesome products in exchange for nothing more than their opinion. (And in this day and age, I don't think anyone is running short on those.)

But are the products any good? Well, I suppose that the depends on the individual, and the particular VoxBox you've received. I've gotten several VoxBoxes since joining with Influenster, and they've all been different, but I've always enjoyed most of the items in each one. Check out what I received in my most-recent VoxBox below, then keep scrolling to the bottom to find out how you can join!

PureLeaf Tea #LoveOfLeaves

I received some PureLeaf Tea to sample, and it was awesome. It was a full-size bottle and the taste was great. I love getting food items in my boxes because it gives me something yummy to drink or munch on while I check out my other products!

#LoveOfLeaves with Pure Leaf Tea via Influenster


Elizabeth Arden #FlawlessFuture Ceramide Serum

Whoa. This one was a surprise to even me! The Elizabeth Arden product line is nothing to sneeze at, and the fact that this serum (found at the beauty counter in department stores) was sample-sized did nothing to dampen my spirits. I would have loved full-sized of course, but the sample was so big that until I saw the full-size one at the beauty counter, I had no idea that I was in possession of a smaller version!

#FlawlessFuture Collection from Elizabeth Arden


SoftLips Cube #GetCubed

This was possibly my favorite item in the whole box. Works amazingly, just as good as the brand of chapstick I've used for years... but it didn't have the same horrible taste as the chapstick I use. (Can you guess which one I probably used? I'm not going to blast them here, but c'mon. We all know which one tastes like awful medicine...) This came full-sized and I've been toting it with me everywhere. I'm gonna need a new one soon, and I'll be able to get it at a discount because they tucked a couple of $1 off coupons in the box for me!!

#GetCubed with SoftLips

Bikini Ready Gummies #BikiniReadyLifestyle

I was a bit confused about this one. It was a sample size (which is no biggie to me) but it is also after Bikini season. (At least where I live. I'm pretty sure if I went out in a bathing suit now, I'd freeze my buns off.) I liked the energy that it gave me - a definite bonus since I've been crunching to work fast against piling deadlines - but I didn't like the taste. It was too bitter for me, and I needed a sip of that PureLeaf Tea afterwards just to get the taste out of my mouth! However, I have to give them points because the caffeine was about what I get from my insta-coffee each day, minus the stains that my daily cup is always trying to leave on my teeth.

#BikiniReadyLifestyle Gummies


First Degree Burn Cream #BurnsHappen

This I could have used all year! My family gets burns on a pretty frequent basis... partially due to clumsiness and partially due to stupidity. (As in a month ago when my husband decided that he was going to make bacon. Naked. Nice job honey.) Needless to say, the hubs and I both have our fair share of cooking burns from working in the kitchen, and I've earned myself a few "badges of honor" from the hair straightener I use on a weekly basis. All in all, this stuff is a definite keeper and handy to have around in the first aid kit.

Alicia Figueroa with First Degree Burn Cream #BurnsHappen


So there you have it. The #VitaVoxBox. It was full of (mostly) stuff that I enjoyed quite a bit. It's simple to get a VoxBox and it's easy to complete the review tasks for Influenster. So why not join up for yourself and see how much fun it is to get one!?

Connect:

You can join Influenster on their website at www.influenster.com. Or, connect with them on social media via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or YouTube.

Do you ever review products? What do you think of reviewing in exchange for freebies?
Chat with me in the comments below, I love hearing from my readers!

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Feather The Nest - The New Way to Fund Your Down Payment

How-to crowd fund your down payment!

Trying to save up for your dream home? Check out this guest post from Feather The Nest to find out how you can crowdfund your down payment.

A New Way to Fund Your Down Payment.

Saving up for a down payment is hard work. It means taking a long look at your budget and finding out what you can cut back on. That probably means eating at home more, no more expensive lattes.

But there are occasions like a wedding, a baby shower, even your birthday or Christmas when your friends and family are generous enough to give you gifts. Why not turn these gifts into donations towards your down payment?

Did you know?...

There are websites that will help you do that! Asking for cash gifts can be an etiquette no-no, so sites like Feather The Nest allow you to set up a nest to collect funds to make asking less awkward.

Feather The Nest makes it easy to ask your friends and family to give you donations towards your house savings in lieu of gifts. They can see how much you have collected and you can post pictures and videos to keep them updated on the status. They get the satisfaction of giving you a gift that has lasting value and you get contributions to your home savings.

Where to sign up?

You can start a nest online for free at www.FeatherTheNest.com, and there is only a small transaction fee taken when you cash out your nest.


To see the in-depth review of Feather The Nest on MasterofMom.com, click HERE!

What do you think of crowdfunding? Would you prefer donations instead of gifts?
Chat with me in the comments below, I love hearing from my readers!

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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Beginner's White Bread Recipe - Easy AND Delicious!!

Easy White Bread Recipe for Beginners

It can appear daunting to tackle a homemade bread recipe if you're not a frequent baker, but this beginner's recipe I found was so simple that I had it memorized within a day!

Not only is it easy, but the bread comes out so fluffy and delicious that you'll be hard-pressed to keep it stocked in your kitchen! We love this bread because it makes great sandwiches and even better toast.

Bread-making isn't an "instant" sort of task, so before you bust out those pans, make sure that you're prepared to give up the time. Take it from me though, it is so, so worth it. It usually takes me about 3 hours (which includes clean-up) from beginning to end to make two loaves of bread. The majority of this is the time it takes for the bread to rise, which means that you can be doing something else (laundry, watching TV, etc.) while this is going on.

My thanks to BreadWorld, which is where I found the original recipe that I based this one off of.

Easy Beginner's White Bread Recipe

Makes 2 Loaves

Ingredients:

  • 5-1/2 cups flour, minimum, on hand (the amount of flour you use will depend on how much it takes to get the dough to the right consistency)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar, plus one teaspoon for yeast-proofing (yeast proofing is the act of testing the yeast to make sure that it is "alive")
  • 2 envelopes of active dry yeast OR 4-1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast, depending on what you have on hand (We buy jarred yeast instead of envelopes since I bake a lot of bread and it's more cost-effective)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup water, plus an extra 1/2 cup for yeast-proofing
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (for greasing dishes - do NOT add this to your bread!)

You Will Need:

  • One large microwave-safe bowl
  • One small or medium microwave-safe bowl (or a large, glass measuring cup)
  • One (preferably wooden) mixing spoon
  • Two 8-1/2 x 4-1/2 inch loaf pans


Directions:


1. Heat the extra 1/2 cup water for 30 seconds in a large, microwave-safe bowl. (Glass bowls work best.) This will bring the water to the appropriate temperature for the yeast to grow (approximately 100°F - 110°F) and make sure that the bowl retains enough heat to keep the water from going cold too quickly.

2. Mix the yeast and the extra teaspoon of sugar into the bowl (preferably using a wooden spoon), then let sit for about 8 minutes. The yeast should be foamy on top, which means that it is good to use. (This is called yeast-proofing.) If there is no foam, wait another couple of minutes. If nothing occurs, you will have to start over again. If you aren't having luck proofing your yeast, it could be because you are using a metal utensil to stir. Yeast can react oddly to metal, causing it to fail.

How to proof yeast

3. Mix the remaining one cup of water, milk, butter, and sugar in a microwave safe dish. (I use a glass Pyrex measuring cup.) Heat in the microwave for 30 seconds so that it is warm enough that it won't cause failure when you add it to the yeast.

4. Stir the water, milk, butter, & sugar mixture WELL before adding it into the yeast mixture. (You don't want to leave any of that tasty sugar behind!)

5. Add the salt, then begin carefully pouring in flour a few handfuls at a time while stirring.

6. Mix in flour at a steady speed until the dough is soft and only slightly sticky. Do not add more than four cups worth, as this will make your dough taste floury and give it a bad texture. The goal should be to add as little flour as possible, while still having a dough that isn't too sticky to knead. Make sure you are scraping the sides of the bowl so that no ingredients are left behind!

Making Bread Dough

7. Spread a little flour on a clean surface, this is where you will knead your bread. Add small handfuls of flour during the kneading process to keep it from getting sticky on you and to perfect the texture. With this recipe, 7-9 minutes of kneading should be plenty.

Below I've listed a video that demonstrates how-to knead bread. It isn't difficult, although it can be a bit tricky to know when your dough has been kneaded enough. Just remember that a dough that has been kneaded to perfection will be smooth, bubble-free, and feel slightly like pushing on a memory foam topper (it will have a bit of "bounce" to it). Make sure you aren't over-kneading (since that will make the bread tough) or under-kneading (since that will make the bread full of bubbles).


8. Grease a large bowl (I just wash out & use the same bowl I made the dough in) by spreading a tablespoon or so of oil around the inside. Put your freshly-kneaded dough inside (roll once to coat all sides with the oil), cover with a clean kitchen towel, and place the bowl in a warm area. The easiest thing to do is to put the bowl on top of the oven, and heat the oven to about 200°F. (Don't heat the oven higher than this or too much heat may transfer through the top of the oven and start to make your bread dough crusty!)

Preparing Bread Dough

9. Allow your dough to rise for an hour, then (while still in the bowl) punch the dough down. This is exactly what it sounds like - just put your fist right into the dough to let out the air!

Punching Bread Dough

10. Divide your dough in half, then head back to your kneading area (which is hopefully clean again!) so you can make your loaves. Your dough shouldn't stick to the table or your fingers at this point, but if you do find a spot that seems slightly sticky, it is fine to lightly dust that spot with flour so it stops sticking.

11. Spread each half of your dough out into a rectangular shape. For best results, try to make a rectangle that is approximately 12 x 7 inches. I have had rectangles that were bigger (and some that were even not-exactly-rectangle-shaped) and they always turn out just fine, so don't sweat it too much!

Shaping Bread Dough

12. Roll your halves up (beginning at the short end of course), until they look like jelly rolls. Pinch the seam running across the bread and turn the loaf so that the pinched seam is on the bottom.

13. Scoop both ends of your bread under and wiggle slightly. This will make sure that the ends aren't full of little cracks and creases when it's baked. Roll the bread over and pinch together any cracks or open seams you find. (If it doesn't look beautiful, it's no matter - the bread will expand enough during the second period of rising that any uneven pinch lines should disappear anyways!)


14. Grease both loaf pans (don't forget the sides!) and place your freshly-rolled dough loaves inside, seams down. Cover your loaf pans with a towel and return them to the top of the oven so they can stay warm.

15. Allow loaves to rise for 45 minutes.

16. Heat oven to 400°F. (I like to start preheating the oven when my loaves have about 10 minutes left to rise.)

17. Bake loaves in the oven for 25-30 minutes. (Mine usually do well at 28 minutes each, but all ovens vary, so keep an eye on your loaves the first time you bake them and write down which time works best for you.)

18. Remove bread carefully from pans. If you properly greased them, the bread should come right out. If not, a flexible pie scoop works nicely to help ease the bread away from the sides and bottom of the pan.

Bread Baking For Beginners

19. Allow the bread to cool on wire racks, then seal into plastic bags or containers to keep fresh. (This last part is optional of course, my husband and I usually eat about half a loaf of bread while it's still piping hot!)

Enjoy!

Do you have a bread recipe you love? What do you think of this recipe?
Chat with me in the comments below, I love hearing from my readers!

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"Feather The Nest": How You Can Crowdfund Your Down Payments & Home Improvement Projects

How To Crowdfund your downpayment and home repairs

As some of you (as in all of you) have probably noticed by now, the economy struggled hard in the past decade. In a lot of places, it's still struggling.

The current generation is reporting huge percentages of kids still living at home with their parents, and the number of multiple generations living under one roof has sky-rocketed in the past decade. The reason of course comes directly back to the fact that funds are tight everywhere. Many times, it isn't so much a problem of coming up with a monthly payment on a mortgage (which can sometimes be cheaper than apartment rent) as it is a problem of saving up the necessary down-payment for such a dream.

Let's face it:

When times get tough, we're tempted to sit on every last penny. Unfortunately for most people, extreme saving ends up being something like extreme dieting, and the need to splurge just so you can get a break can become almost constant. When things are good, it's easy to sit on a pile of money that you're saving up for a down-payment because you aren't denying yourself an extra here or there (like a dinner out or a nice bottle of wine). When things are bad though, that extra cash is usually what goes towards those "normal" treats. And that means you are saving at a snail's pace.

Not being able to save up a huge chunk of change for a down payment is a big part of the reason that home-ownership has taken a back seat for most fledgling families and college graduates. And I know how rough it can be because I've been experiencing this dilemma first-hand.

Saving Up For A Down Payment

My Dream On Hold:

I've been dreaming about having my first home and being able to decorate it since I was twelve. I was a magazine-saver. I had a subscription to redecorating magazines while I was still in high school. I dreamed of the day I'd be able to put together my own themes for each room, strip wallpaper to put up fresh paint, buy a couch, refinish my cabinets...

Baby Shoes

Fast forward to the present, and here I am: 30 years old and no home of my own for my young family. It's been hard. Some days it's made me sad. I've got two kids that are just beginning to grasp for the first time what it's like to have a bedroom, or a play area in the backyard, or even just a corner of the house that they can claim as belonging to them. We lived with my husband's mom for the past four years (in extremely tight quarters), and while I can't thank her enough for everything she did for us, it was frustrating to constantly know that home wasn't "home".

Behind Our Big Move

Recently I let my readers know that I moved across the country. For us, this was a leap of faith. The job market was awful where we were, and the expenses were even worse. We moved in hopes of landing jobs that would make life on our own a possible experience. But (unfortunately) we still haven't been able to move into our own place. We're keeping watch over my grandfather's home while he's in Florida (and we are grateful for the opportunity!) but we're hoping & praying that by the time spring rolls around, we'll have saved up the down payment we need. We aren't just saving on our own though - we're enlisting our friends & family to help!

And Just How Are Friends & Family Going to Help?

Hopefully this Christmas when I send out my annual greeting cards, I'll be able to let my loved ones in on the scoop: We don't want gifts this year, because we want some help for for a goal bigger than snagging the latest cookware (or a pile of ugly ties).

That's Right, No Gifts.

Instead of presents, I'm going to ask my friends & family to "feather my nest", and by that I mean I'm going to ask them to help me achieve my home-ownership goals by contributing to my fund through an awesome crowdfunding site called Feather The Nest.

I was asked last year to review Feather The Nest's website (you can see my nest HERE), and after I did so the company and I got more involved. They did a video on my story (seen below) and even had me talk with a reporter recently to tell them what I thought of the whole process.


So just what do I think of them?

I think they are amazing. This site isn't just a lifesaver for those who are looking to fund a down-payment... it's a great source for funding home-repairs and renovation projects too! Feather The Nest was thought up as a way to help people achieve their home ownership & maintenance goals by using the greatest resource that all "nesters" already have: the support of friends and family.

When you break it down, the average person probably has about 10-20 family members they would describe as "close", and 10-20 friends that they could say are always there for them. If you suppose that each of these people gives even one gift worth $10 twice per year (which is probably underestimating it by a long-shot) then a single person has a possible $400-$800 in gifts coming in each year. If you add in a spouse and a couple of kids, the number increases to around $3000 that your family probably receives (every year!) in gifts. (Kind of crazy to think about, isn't it!?)

Reality Check:

The problem is though, people who are trying to save towards a house, or even struggling to make a necessary home repair, aren't always psyched about getting sweaters & candles for Christmas. What they really want is money. Asking for money is not classy though. (And we're all trying to be mature, classy adults, right?)

This is where Feather The Nest steps in. They take the uncomfortable-ness out of saying, "Hey, could I have MONEY for my birthday instead of another cologne set?" They make it cool to say, "I need some cash to repair the leak under my sink." They make you seem chic and in-the-know when you announce, "I'm crowdfunding my down payment."

Feather The Nest Logo

In a Nest-Shell?

This site allows me to see the light at the end of the tunnel. My family has had to dig their heels in during this long struggle, but we're on the verge of being able to bounce back from our rough start. By the time my grandpa returns in the spring, I'm confident we'll have our down payment money ready-to-go.

And not only is Feather The Nest a safe and reliable source to crowdfund with, but it's free.

That's right, you don't have to do anything to take advantage of these resources other than create your nest on their website at www.FeatherTheNest.com. Create your own nest today and send your friends & family a message to let them know that you're saving up for something awesome in your life, and you want them to be a part of it.

Connect:

You can get your down payment or next home improvement project crowdfunded on Feather The Nest by clicking HERE to sign-in and create your nest. You can also connect with them on social media to stay up-to-date on what's happening in the nest-world by finding them on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!

Have you ever crowdfunded anything? What would you crowdfund on Feather The Nest?
Chat with me in the comments below, I love hearing from my readers!

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Want your youthful looks back? This antioxidant Vitamin C serum from Valentia might be just the thing...

Valentia Even Glow Serum Does It Work?

As I've said before, I can be a skeptic (a big skeptic) when it comes to facial creams & anti-aging serums that claim to help you turn back the clock. Don't get me wrong, I've found a few products that actually do help out a lot, but the majority of the time that a company claims to have a "miracle product", it's actually about as miraculous as a toad on a log.

Because I especially love reviewing beauty products, I was happy to check this Even Glow Serum (which is an antioxidant treatment) from Valentia. I received my product for free through BrandBacker in order to do my review (because no way am I going to pay for everything I review, that would be silly), but as always, my opinions are 100% my own!

The First Day:

I have had a rough month (I've had a lot of rough months lately it seems like), so when I first got this package my skin was looking about as bad as it can get. I've been sick, I've been sleep-deprived, and I've been working myself to the bone day & night. (Okay so maybe not to the bone, but I've lost 20 lbs in the past two weeks, that should tell you something!)

My skin wasn't full of blemishes necessarily, but it was looking a little "peaked" as my grandma would say. Also, I should point out that I turned 30 this year, and I know that it isn't some super-duper old age to become, but I'm suddenly very conscious of the fact that I'm no longer a 20-something with zero wrinkles. I have wrinkles, I have crows' feet (darned crows...), and I'm even getting some weird shading.

Before Photo of Valentia Even Glow Serum Review

Because I know that a little prevention now will go a long way towards keeping these problems from getting worse, I'm trying out all the anti-aging serums and formulas that I can now, when they can do me tons of good! (Trust me, most products work better at prevention than cure, so even if you feel like facial issues are only a little problem for you, now is the time you want to start working on them!)

While Using The Product:

I'll be honest, for the first week or so, I didn't really notice a difference. I hadn't used an antioxidant serum before, so I wasn't sure how long it would take or what to expect. After about a week and a half, my husband stopped me, looked me over, then promptly told me that I looked different. I asked him what was different and he said (no lie here, ladies!), "You look young... and hot!"

I told him that I'd been using this vitamin c serum for my face and even he agreed that the product was most likely to blame for my more youthful appearance. He said that the antioxidant serum made my skin look younger around my eyes and cheeks, especially near the side of my nose.

I started to notice my face becoming more & more even - not something I would have thought about before, or even pinpointed as the reason behind an aging look! I'm very glad that I used this vitamin c serum because it made me realize that even skin-tone has just as much to do with lookin' good as getting rid of wrinkles does! (Also, it smells like oranges. Gotta love a product that smells tasty!)

Valentia Even Glow Serum, User Review By Alicia Figueroa

After Two Weeks:

I could tell you how much better my skin looks, but we all know a picture is worth a thousand words. Below I've included a side-by-side Before & After for comparison. As you can see, the redness in my skin has evened out and my complexion does appear younger. As a matter of fact, I was carded last week at the grocery store, and that hasn't happened in almost a year! (Funny how that starts to be a big deal as you grow older...)

Valentia Even Glow Serum Before & After, Products To Even Skin Tone

As always, I like to remind people who are using a skin product that consistent use is a MUST. You cannot use a product for anti-aging, brightening, softening, smoothing, wrinkle-removing, skin-evening or otherwise, unless you are using it as recommended. The skin is a fickle beast - sporadic application of products will probably mean sporadic results. (Or in some cases, no results.)

Connect:

You can find out more about Valentia on their website at www.valentiaskincare.com! Want to make a purchase? You can find them on Amazon! I'd love it if you'd use the affiliate link I've listed below since that will enable me to help keep my blog running, and it doesn't cost you anything extra!

Here's the link to buy Valentia's product!: Vitamin C Serum

What did you think of the Before & After photos? What are your biggest facial worries?
Chat with me in the comments, I love hearing from my readers!

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Monday, September 15, 2014

DRINK PINK! You can support breast cancer research with mike's hard (PINK) lemonade! #mymikesmoment #sponsored #MC

I participated in an Influencer Activation Program on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for mike's hard lemonade. I received a Circle K gift card to facilitate this review and a promotional item to thank me for participating.

As a mom & wife, I'm a 24/7 multi-tasker. If I watch TV, I'm embroidering during the commercials. If I bake a loaf of bread, I'm cleaning the floor while I wait for the dough to rise. And if I'm taking the kids to the park, I'm going to be reading a book or catching up on email while I'm there!

Sometimes at the end of the day I like to relax with a drink, and it shouldn't come as any surprise that I like my beverages to do double-duty as well! A glass of wine helps the heart, a touch of whiskey is great when my throat is sore, and a drink like mike's hard pink lemonade lets me support Breast Cancer Research with every purchase.

Mike's Hard Pink Lemonade Supports Breast Cancer Research

As the daughter-in-law of a breast cancer survivor, I know that this is a problem that affects families nationwide, so continuous research is important. The company has been making the hard pink lemonade since 2009, and they've donated more than $1 million to breast cancer research since then! The mike's hard pink lemonade is a limited edition, seasonal flavor - so get it now before it's gone!

Last week I made a trip out to my local Circle K to check out some of the weekly deals & grab some mike's.

I found some great savings, like a BOGO deal on Gatorade and a Buy 6, Get the 7th free deal on small snacks. They also had some pretty decently priced gas and I was able to snag some premium fuel for less than $3.80 a gallon!

Great deals at Circle K!

If you have a Circle K near you, you can go to www.CircleK.com to find out the closest location for you to get your own Circle K card and start saving some cash on favorite items.

As for the mike's, I had #mymikesmoment at the end of a long (LONG) day, and it was a great way for me to relax and kick back. (I even let my husband share one with me!) We like the pink lemonade especially well because the flavor is sweet, yet tart.

Connect:

You can connect with Circle K on their website; click HERE to find the Circle K website that is specific to your region.

You can check out mike's and everything they have to offer on their website at www.mikeshard.com, or by connecting with them on social media on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.

Do you buy certain products during Breast Cancer Awareness Month?
Chat with me in the comments below, I love hearing from my readers!

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Saturday, September 13, 2014

$50 Amazon or PayPal Cash Giveaway!!

Welcome to the

We Love Our Fans Flash Sweepstakes

Organized by Budget Earth

  As bloggers, we are thankful every day that we have wonderful readers like you. All of us put in countless hours on our blogs, but know we wouldn't be here without fantastic, loyal readers like you. We know you are taking time away from your busy day to read our articles, try out our recipes, and enter our giveaways. Your loyalty and trust means a lot to us and we want to give back! Budget Earth and some of your favorite bloggers joined our funds together to bring you this awesome flash giveaway! One very lucky reader will win a $50 Amazon or Paypal Gift Card! This giveaway will only last for one week so don't forget to enter! To make things easier for you, we kept the Rafflecopter small and are ONLY doing Facebook links. This will make it easier for our loyal readers who have been here awhile! Good luck everyone and make sure to read all the rules below, before entering the giveaway form!

We Love Our Fans Flash Sweepstakes
  • One lucky reader will win a $50 Amazon Gift Card or Cash (Paypal for outside US).
  • Open Worldwide.
  • Winners will be chosen at random Random.org.
  • Sweepstakes ends September 19th at 11:59pm ET.
  • Winner will be notified via email.
  • Winner will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen.
  • Budget Earth is responsible for prize fulfillment.
  • Must be 18 years or older to enter.
  • Only one entrant per household.
  • Void where prohibited.
  • Entering the giveaway form means you agree to terms above.
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Friday, September 12, 2014

ALLERGY FACE®? This Look Will Make It Disappear!

I wrote this post as part of my participation in a blog tour for Latina Mom Bloggers on behalf of ZYRTEC® ALLERGY FACE® and received compensation to thank me for taking the time to participate. However, all opinions expressed are my own.

Makeup tips for allergies.

When I was a girl, I was pretty convinced that allergies were something that grown-ups blamed to get out of things like going to the zoo or taking a walk in the park. I didn't suffer from allergies back then, and I thought it would always be that way. Boy was I wrong.

What do you mean "It's Allergies"?!

In my late teens, I got what I thought was a cold. My eyes itched, my nose ran, and I had trouble breathing when I slept at night. That "cold" lasted for six weeks and returned every year. I tried to deny it for a while (how could I have possibly developed allergies?!) but it eventually became so bad that I had to turn to some OTC help to get through the allergy season. (So much for denial.)

I'm not the only one in my family who suffers either - my mom & dad, my younger brothers & sisters, grandparents & cousins... One thing that has definitely gotten us through the fall months (when the ragweed decides to try to kill us) has been ZYRTEC®. And that's no plug, that's the truth! As a matter of fact, when I mentioned this post to my mom, her words were: "Perfect! We use ZYRTEC® all the time!" (Actually she didn't put that ® symbol in her sentence, but you get the picture.)

Red Nose & Puffy Eyes? Not the best time for a picture...

As someone who now is all over the internet (photo-wise), I get pretty nervous whenever I know I need to do a post and I'm looking like a big sack-o-blah. A runny nose & itchy eyes aren't exactly what I want my readers to zero in on when they visit my site, so I was thrilled when I saw that celebrity makeup artist Jackie Gomez was working with ZYRTEC® on some awesome ways to combat the annual ALLERGY FACE® problem!

I love that ZYRTEC® is sensitive to the fact that allergies don't just affect how you feel, but also the way that you look! And because I especially love a makeup tutorial (it's an excuse to make myself purty), I decided to share a step-by-step on one of the looks with you all!

And now for the tutorial!

The look I decided to go for is "Fresh-Faced & Glamorous", which helps out when your allergies are causing watery eyes or irritated skin (two problems I face frequently during the ragweed season). Below is a picture of me looking downright icky.

Makeup tips for watery eyes caused by allergies

Jackie recommended using a lightweight concealer to cover flaws. This gives my facial skin a break from wearing anything too heavy but still allows me to cover up any blemishes. In the photo below I'm using SheerCover concealer, a product I did a review on recently.

Concealer to help hide allergies

Next, Jackie suggests a soft taupe color for the eyes because of its great ability to be an "everyday" color. I applied the eye shadow in the crease of my eye & the upper eyelid area, all the way out to the corners. I made sure not to get any eye shadow on my lower lashes or the bottom of my eye so that I didn't cause my peepers any extra irritation.

(Don't have a taupe shadow? You can mix an off-white with a dark brown to achieve the right blend.)

After I applied my eye shadow I added some water-proof mascara. Jackie's suggestions say to use three coats, which will help the curl of your lash stay up and away from your sensitive eyes all day long.

Using eyeshadow to hide allergies

Next I did my cheeks! The directions in this look say to add blush on the apple of the cheeks for a face-brightening pop of color. I used my favorite AVON Color Confetti Blush with Peach Flecks.

Using blush to hide allergies

Lastly, a bright pink lipstick finishes off the look, detracting from my eyes and making me stand out in a good way! As soon as I heard the words "bright pink" I knew I had just the thing, thanks to my recent review of One Direction's new makeup line. The color, "I Should Have Kissed You", is a definite head turner and really brought this look together.

Lipstick to hide allergies

After I had put my look together, I ended up with this! These tips from Jackie Gomez were great, and I couldn't be happier with the results. You'd never guess that I was suffering from allergies in this photo, and with the easy-breezy application, this is something I'll be able to do everyday!

Hiding allergies with makeup

Want a different look to zero in on a different problem?

Here are the links to find all of the looks that Jackie Gomez has created to combat ALLERGY FACE®!:


Some ZYRTEC® Facts!


  • ZYRTEC® Dissolve Tabs can be taken anywhere! They dissolve in your mouth without water and provide relief for 24-hours. These are great for people who are on-the-go.
  • ZYRTEC® (cetirizine HCI) is the number one allergist recommended brand of OTC oral antihistamine products!
  • ZYRTEC® helps relieve allergy symptoms like sneezing, runny nose, itchy, watery eyes and itchy nose or throat. Symptoms can be caused by allergy triggers like dust, mold, pet dander, tree pollen, weeds and grasses.
  • ZYRTEC® starts working at hour one on the first day you take it and provides 24-hour relief.

Connect!

Want to know more about ZYRTEC®? You can find their website at www.zyrtec.com! Or, find them in social media on Facebook & YouTube! (They have some great tips on their YouTube vids, I highly suggest you check them out!)

What do you think of this look? Do you suffer from allergies?
Chat with me in the comments below, I love hearing from my readers!

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Monday, September 8, 2014

Make Your Face Flawless With SheerCover!

SheerCover Studio Review by Alicia Figueroa

There are some days I wake up and wonder what on earth is going on with my face.

Although my skin is usually quite naturally flawless, when I finally do break out, it isn't pretty. Lately my problem hasn't been break-outs so much as just all-around facial-blah.

Between moving across the country & back to my hometown, being sick, having hay fever and spending countless hours jumping up at night to check on my equally sick-and-snotty babies... my skin has decided to take a vacation. (And by that I mean I look like a hot mess.)

So my options seemed pretty simple: Either hide in my house all day to avoid being seen by everyone (because this town is the size of a gnat's hat and I haven't been to a single place without running into someone I know) OR, find a way to hide my facial flaws until my skin decides that it's okay to come out and play.

Luckily for me, I had been sent a SheerCover make-up kit through my connections with ModernMom. I got the kit for free in order to do the review, but my opinions are still my own (as always!)

My sickest apologies...

This was totally going to be a video review, but over the course of the day my voice has been getting continuously hoarser. Although I'm not a raging mess of sickness anymore, I didn't think anyone wanted to hear me try to squeak out random sentences in a YouTube video, so this is gonna be one of them old-fashioned picture tutorials instead.

So let's begin!

Ooo, Instructions!

First off, the kit I was sent from SheerCover Studio comes with a handy-dandy booklet that is pretty much like a road-map to making your face blemish/redness/splotchy-free. This was especially appreciated by me, not just because I can be ever-so-slightly blonde when I'm trying out a new product, but because when I'm sick my brain no like to think thoughts. Instructions = Good.

(Side note: I just discovered that when your voice is this hoarse it is I-M-P-O-S-S-I-B-L-E to holler at your husband to do anything. #NaggingWifeFail)

Look Away! It's Medusa!

Okay, so it's not that bad, but here is a picture of me (a HORRIBLE picture of me, mind you) looking like I'm about to give up on the day.

No makeup picture

Time to be boo-ti-ful.

Once I opened up the kit, it was pretty easy to tell what was what. You have your primer base (which for some reason reminded me of an adhesive), a trio concealer (two shades plus a brightener), mineral foundation (blends great!), and a triple-shade bronzer palette. To top it off was a mascara & fiber combo meant to make your lashes as long & full as possible.

Sheer Cover Studio Review by Master of Mom

The Primer

After putting the primer on, I'll be honest, I wanted to immediately wash it off. It felt like something that might clog my pores and yet, as I rubbed it on, I was stunned by the lightness of it. I'll update this post if a break-out occurs, but so far, so good! I think that in a way, the primer is meant to be a sort of adhesive - it's not sticky by any means, but I felt like it was something that the powders of the foundation would naturally cling to.

Sheer Cover Studio Primer

The Trio-Concealer

I didn't have as much luck with this as I thought I would, but I think that has a bit more to do with my make-up brush skills than anything else. I tend to use my fingers for blend-type applications, so I'm still an amateur when it comes to blending with a brush. (You could say I need to 'brush up' on my skills. Heh. You see what I did there?) I could tell that the brightener still helped to hide my under-eye circles, and the concealer worked great to hide a problem area on my chin.

Sheer Cover Studio Trio-Concealer

The Foundation

This stuff was awesome! I loved how smooth and clean it brushed onto my skin, and I was right - the primer really did help the foundation to stay in place. One of the biggest reasons I tend to avoid powder make-up is that I feel like it practically falls off my face (and makes a huge mess) whenever I apply it. I was super-impressed with the fact that whatever I applied on my face, stayed on my face.

Sheer Cover Studio Mineral Foundation

The Bronzer

You would think that because I just moved here from Florida, I would already look a little sun-kissed... but for whatever reason my complexion refuses to get tan. I don't burn, I don't get dark, I just stay pale all year long. Maybe my skin failed color-changing class. (Lucky for me I'm not a chameleon.) Either way, I loved how my skin suddenly had one of those rosy-perfect glows that women get when they've been in the sun for just the right amount of time.

Sheer Cover Studio Bronzer

The Mascara & Fibers

Oh. My. Goodness. This was amazing. My lashes are already long, but I have noticed that they are starting to get just a teensy bit thinner. I have never seen anything so cool as the little fibers that come in this lash-lengthening combo! Just apply the mascara, then the fibers, then the mascara again and poof you have gorgeous-long & thick lashes.

Sheer Cover Studio Mascara & Fibers

The End Result:

I think I look supah-fly. (Are people still saying that? Probably not.) I can't tell from this pic that I'm under-the-weather, or that my face started out as a big ball of blah. I think I'll wear this fab-look out to the store in a bit, for the star-studded tasks of grabbing throat lozenges, orange juice, and the biggest bucket of ice cream I can find.

Alicia Figueroa wearing Sheer Cover Studio Makeup

Bonus:

I know we all are concerned about ingredients these days, so I consider it a definite plus that these products are non-comedogenic with no preservatives, no fillers and no chemicals!

Do you want to look awesome?

(Just say yes, you know you do.) Then guess what!? You too can own some SheerCover Studio Make-up. (And because you aren't me, you'll probably look even better when you wear it!) You can grab some of your own by heading over to www.sheercover.com and checking out what they have to offer.

Connect:

You can also find SheerCover on social media to stay up-to-date on product info & special deals through Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, Twitter or Google+!

Have you heard of SheerCover? What do you use when you have a case of the-blahs?
Chat with me in the comments below, I love hearing from my readers!

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