Category Archives: Product Reviews

Wrap it Up

I was super excited to be selected for YouCopia’s campaign to review some new kitchen products. My kitchen cabinets and drawers are always a mess so it was exciting to get a chance to use something that could help me get organized.


I chose the StoreMore WrapStand for all my rolls of wraps and boxes of baggies. When it arrived I immediately put it together and got it set up on my kitchen counter. Right now, that is where it is living because it is a little too tall in its conventional position for my upper kitchen cabinets.

I’m deciding now if I’m going to keep it on its side or use it in one of lower cabinets (which would require a little reorganization). But, for now, I’m really enjoying it. I even had enough slots to store by box of gallon bags on its side. It makes it super easy to grab one without having to wrestle with a box in the bottom drawer of my cabinets.


Now, here is the best part. I didn’t just get to try one, I get to give away a YouCopia product so you can give it a try for yourself.

Enter below for your chance!

Win one Youcopia product of your choice #4

How do you tackle your disorganized kitchen? I would love to hear about what you do!


Eyeliner Wars

I like eyeliner. At any given time, I have a few different varieties in my bag. But, over the years, I’ve never been very adventurous when it came to eyeliner color; I stick with black or brown/black.

So, months ago, when I received the Mally Beauty Evercolor Starlight Waterproof Eyeliner in a shade they call Sailor, I wasn’t sure what to think. Let’s face it, navy blue eyeliner isn’t exactly adventurous, but it wasn’t a shade I had thought much about. However, I gave it a try and it quickly became my favorite “everyday” eyeliner. I used it so much that the pencil became shorter and shorter. But, at $17 to replace it, I decided I should use it until it was too short to use before I dropped the money for a new one. I know, $17 isn’t much, but I’m a teacher, so I have to make sure I  get every penny of my money out of something before I replace it.

Fast forward, and I head out of town for a weekend to meet up with my family in Western Maryland. The first thing my sister tells me after I get out of the car is that she has forgotten her makeup bag, so we need to go shopping. I tell her not to worry about it, she can use mine. I mean, what are sisters for? Right? So we go about our evening, head to bed, and the next morning, it hits me that even though I made sure I packed everything into my makeup bag for the trip, I never actually picked up the makeup bag and put it into the duffel we had packed for the trip.

So, off we went! We decided the mall would be the best place to start, even though it seemed they fell a little short in the department store market. Fortunately, there was a BonTon on the backside of the mall, and the girl at the Clinique counter got me hooked up with a BB cream sample and my sister with her regular foundation and concealer. She powdered us up and then we went off for less expensive eye products. We ended up settling on a low cost waterproof mascara that we knew would come in handy at the beach and I decided to try a lower cost version of navy blue eyeliner by purchasing Maybelline New York Define-A-Line Eyeliner. This is actually the brand of brown/black eyeliner I use, so I decided it would probably be the best way to go.

This eyeliner goes on great! It is super smooth and because you turn it out rather than having to sharpen it, it’s super low maintenance. Since I like this eyeliner, I decided to see how it would stand up in head-to-head (or eye-to-eye) matchup with the Mally eyeliner.


I started out by applying one of the eyeliners to each eye as part of my regular makeup routine. Then I photographed myself as a baseline for how each eyeliner looked compared to the other. At this point, there is no real difference. The only thing I really notice when I look closely is that the Maybelline has a slightly brighter color than the Mally. Satisfied that I didn’t look too crazy wearing two different eyeliners, I went about my day.


I really almost forgot that I was wearing two different eyeliners. That is, until I went into the bathroom to get changed before my run. And that’s when I noticed the difference. Look below. See that smudge under my Maybelline eye? I had noticed that once or twice before, but typically after I had been in a sweaty situation. I just assumed it was the eyeliner running from that. After all, it isn’t waterproof like the Mally eyeliner. But, since I had been in my office all day, and hadn’t exerted myself or gotten overly warm, I realized this was a problem. After all, nobody wants dark blue circles under their eyes, right?


As a result of this little test, I decided that they Mally eyeliner really is worth every penny, so treated myself this week by ordering a new one. The best part was that I found out the price dropped and it is down to $12.95 on Amazon right nowI can’t wait to get it!

See how others are treating themselves this week by checking out Olives ‘n Wine!


Product Review: Hemp Hearts

A few weeks ago I was sent a complimentary sample of Hemp Hearts courtesy of Swaggable. I really didn’t know what  to expect from them, but through doing a little reading, I discovered that Hemp Hearts are shelled hemp seeds. Removing the outer layer of the seed allows for a softer texture that is easy to chew.

When my sample arrived, I tasted them on their own first. The package recommends sprinkling Hemp Hearts over cereal, yogurt, or salad. After I realized how mild the flavor is, I decided to go with sprinkling the package into my yogurt to add a little bulk. They matched with my yogurt perfectly! The slight nuttiness of the Hemp Hearts added another dimension of flavor and the texture of the seeds made me feel like I was eating just a little more than my normal morning snack.

Great, high-protein snack option!

Great, high-protein snack option!

Now, let’s talk about the nutritional value of Hemp Hearts. I did a little research on both the Manitoba Harvest website and using the app Fooducate. Hemp seeds are a little higher in fat (just like other nuts and seeds), but hemp seeds are a great source of fiber and protein. A 3 tablespoon serving of Hemp Hearts provides you with 10 grams of protein. I don’t think my trial size was quite that large of a serving, but once I add in the protein from the yogurt, that’s a good serving of protein for one snack.

With all of that considered, these are a winner, but then also consider that Hemp Hearts are only minimally processed and are certified by the Non-GMO Project. That makes me personally very happy!  I’m planning to pick up a bag soon and figure out how else I can use them! I’m thinking some healthy baking might be in my future…

Product Review: Emergen-C Flavors

Let me clear, I really like Emergen-C. I don’t take one daily, but I turn to it whenever I’m starting to feel like I might be getting sick and I drink one a day when I enter taper mode at the end of a plan.  I also turn to it when I’m just feeling a little run-down. I’ve always enjoyed the orange and tangerine flavors and hadn’t really branched out because I know what I like.

I use my Keurig because I like my Emergen-C hot.  I add a packet to a mug and hit the button for the smallest serving on my Keurig.  I feel like this gives me the perfect ratio of water to Emergen-C, so it always has a good flavor.

Last year I received a couple of packets in one of my race bags at some point. I received a raspberry packet and and Immune+ mixed citrus packet.  The mixed citrus was fine. The raspberry was not. It just had kind of a cloying taste to it. I decided to stick with the citrus flavors after that.

However, my good friend, Melanie, is an Emergen-C ambassador and this past week, she brought me some new flavors to try, açaí berry and mixed berry.  So, over the last couple of days I’ve had one each morning to let you know my thoughts.


I tried the açaí berry first.  When the hot water started to hit the Emergen-C in the cup the smell brought me back to sick days in my Grandma’s kitchen as a child.  She would make us hot jello to drink. We loved it.  This smelled so much like that, I couldn’t believe it.  Then, I tasted it.  This flavor of Emergen-C has a great flavor! It had a great berry taste and it was not overly sweet. I was a big fan!

This morning, I tried the mixed berry packet.  It was good.  It had a good berry flavor, but didn’t seem as flavorful as the açaí berry.  It also was not too sweet.

I liked both of these flavors, but in terms of which one I liked best, the açaí berry flavor definitely wins out! I’ll definitely add that flavor into my purchasing rotation!

Change is Inevitable

Yesterday, when I logged in to Garmin Connect to make sure I had updated all of my runs for the week, I found that I had the option to see something new and very different from what I was used to seeing. So I decided to give it a shot.  Here are my first impressions…

1. It’s clean!
Here is a screenshot of my new dashboard under the Modern version of Garmin Connect.

Screen shot 2014-06-17 at 5.40.02 AM


The option to see the boxes in mini view or to even change the way your information is shown within the boxes makes for a more streamlined experience when using Garmin Connect

2. It’s much easier to see all of your information in one spot.
In the classic version, you could see your most recent run with a list beside it of all past runs. In order to see other content, you had to use the drop down menus to navigate around.

Screen shot 2014-06-17 at 5.57.48 AM


Now, most of your information is going to be readily available on your customized dashboard upon logging in to Garmin Connect.

3. It’s fairly easy to navigate.
I did the quick tour when I first logged in and unfortunately, it wasn’t super helpful. However, with sidebar navigation for the few things that aren’t already available on the dashboard, it was pretty simple to find the reports section and how to adjust my settings (including making a temporary switch back to the classic view if you decide you aren’t quite ready to make the switch to modern).

In addition, each of the boxes on your dashboard comes with individual settings.  These settings allow you to do things like change the view in your activities window to a list view, the most recent view, or minimize that box if it is a feature you don’t want to work with.

Screen shot 2014-06-17 at 5.56.56 AM

The list view in the activities window

4. It has “more” options
Okay, I should preface this by saying that this may exist in the classic version of Garmin Connect, but I had never seen it. When you click the search icon in the activities window it opens a view of a map with other routes on it.

Screen shot 2014-06-17 at 5.56.17 AM

For me, this was something that had been missing from my Garmin Connect experience. I love the idea that if I’m looking for a new route, I can look here to find one.  This may be even more useful when I travel!

In terms of my overall impression of the modern version of Garmin Connect, I’m happy with it so far. I feel like it has so much potential to allow me to analyze and plan my fitness in a much more thoughtful way.  With  the classic version, the potential may have been there, but it was never front and center like it is with the new dashboard feature. I’m excited to get in there and play around a little more!



Hair, Get Out of My Face!

Some years ago, I developed these little baby hairs right around my face.  They make a clean ponytail impossible and they never seem to be more than a few inches long. These little hairs are completely annoying.

I’ve tried a variety of different kinds of elastic headbands to keep them out of my face, but nothing seems to work. I think my head is shaped such that any of the elastic bands just slide right up the back of my head until the whole thing is loose and falls off.  It’s either that or how fine my hair is. I’ve even lost a couple of them during a run this way. Frustrating. Who wants to worry about that kind of thing in the middle of a run?

So, back in January when I received an Under Armour Mini-Headband in my Birchbox, I didn’t think much of it.  But a couple of weeks ago, I was cleaning out and purging some of my Birchbox stuff and came across it again.  This time, I took a little closer look.

The Under Armour Mini-Headband is braided but lays flat. In addition, each strand of the braid is backed with silicon that is designed to grip.  I thought maybe that would be the key to keeping it in my hair.

under armour headband

When I decided to run three miles on Sunday morning, I decided it would be the perfect time to give it a chance. It definitely felt snug on my head, but it stayed flat, even in the back of my head.  After three miles, it felt like it hadn’t moved at all, so I left it on for 40 minutes of yoga. It stayed in place until savasana at the end of my workout. Of course, after laying down, my ponytail had to be readjusted as well.

After readjusting, I headed out to do a couple of hours of yardwork.  During a couple of hours of hard work, I realized that I had only readjusted it one other time.  Considering my hair was pretty soaked through with sweat by that point, I decided this product is a winner.  I’m interested to see how it will hold up on a long run!

J’Adore VoxBox Review

I received my latest VoxBox complimentary from Influenster about a month ago.  It’s taken a while to get to all of the products in the box, but I’m finally ready to dole out my thoughts on the products.20140327-055632.jpg1) Hershey’s Kisses – I mean, they’re Hershey’s Kisses. Perfect for when you just have to have a bite of something chocolate-y.  They aren’t the highest quality chocolate you can get, but they are also very far from the worst chocolate out there.  Kisses don’t leave you with that waxy residue in your mouth that you get from some inexpensive chocolates.  I already had a small stash of Kisses on hand, so I used this bag as a treat for participants at a workshop my colleague and I were teaching.  Teachers are always grateful for chocolate when they have to come to workshop after teaching all day!

2) Vaseline® Men Spray Lotion Fast Absorbing was the next item in my box.  This was really for Nathan. Winter weather takes a toll on skin for both of us, so we was excited to see this and tried it right away.  Unfortunately, it has an awful “man” scent that left both of our eyes watering. Thinking the smell would fade pretty quickly, we headed out for dinner.  Hours later, the horrible cologne-like smell was still hanging around.  He was grateful to shower to rid himself of it.  The can ended up going right in the trash after one use.  If they had a fragrance-free version of this, I think he would really be into it, but the smell just overpowered any of the good in the product.  Why do companies feel like they have to add “man” smell to everything???

3) I get a ton of tea bags as part of my BirchBox subscription, and I really like tea, so I was excited to receive another new brand to try as part of the Vox Box program.  Red Rose Simply Indulgent Teas come in a variety of flavors. In my box, I received decaffeinated Lemon Chiffon and Creme Caramel. I like my coffee black and will only occasionally put even a little honey in my tea, so I was definitely skeptical about the flavors.  Others might like these, but they weren’t for me.  Even though the packaging says “natural flavors” they just didn’t seem to pair with the tea.  The lemon chiffon was not lemony at all and both were just too sweet.  I might give their unflavored teas a try, but I won’t be back for any of these.

4) Kiss Looks So Natural lashes were the next item in my box.  I don’t wear fake lashes often, but Kiss is definitely becoming my favorite brand of lashes. I loved that these lashes were thinner, but still added volume to my natural lashes.  And, when you start shopping around, you really can’t beat the price point (about $4.00) on these lashes. They come with a great little applicator and glue.  I will say that I prefer to use Duo eyelash glue.  I buy the kind that turns dark as it dries, so it blends right into my eyeliner.

5) I have used my Boots Botanics Conditioning Clay Mask a few times now. A lot of clay masks leave my skin feeling stretched, itchy, and flaky, but not this one!  Each time I’ve used it, I’ve been impressed by the clean feeling I have left.  I follow it up with a little of my regular daily moisturizer (just like every time I wash my face) and haven’t had any problems.  Between this mask and a recent change in my daily moisturizer, I’m seeing a huge difference in my skin!

6) And finally, we come to my favorite product in the box–John Frieda Frizz Ease 3-Day Straight Flat Iron Spray.  I don’t flat iron my hair every day because it is just too damaging on my fine hair (and because after a blow-out my hair is pretty straight already).  But, I do blow dry with heat most days.  I decided to try this for the first time one night when I knew I would flat iron. I sprayed my hair a few times after I combed it out from the shower and blow-dried my hair as normal.  Even before I hit the flat iron, I could see a huge difference in my hair.  I’m a believer in this, for sure.  Since I shower twice a day most days of the week, I can’t say much about the 3-day claims.  However, I don’t shampoo every time I wet my hair down, and I still felt like the product lingered after a little rinse. I wouldn’t say it performed as well after a rinse, but who could expect it to?  I don’t use this every day, but I reach for it right away when I’m going for a more polished look.

All in all, I was pretty happy with the J’Adore VoxBox. There were some products I definitely won’t purchase, but I found a couple of things I like and one I really love!