Ask Away...: April 2015

Thursday, April 30, 2015

A Look at My Hair Routine

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So I always enjoy reading about people's daily beauty and hair routines and I figured it was time for me to share my own.  I use Living Proof, a line of products that uses fresh-from-the-lab formulas and technology to help your hair look good despite the weather or environment around you.



Washing | Every other day I wash my hair.  Sometimes I even go 3 days.   When I do wash it I use Living Proof No Frizz Shampoo and Conditioner.  A little goes a long way and this stuff does an AMAZING job detangling and conditioning me hair.  It also is weightless but still can block humidity 70% better than most other products.  I noticed that my hair is cleaner for longer and I don't have to deal with oil roots by the second day. It's great for all hair types and even safe for color and chemically treated hair.   And of course, it's approved by me because it's silicone, sulfate, and oil free!  I noticed my hair is a LOT less frizzy and knotted now, even on windy days!

Styling |   I use Living Proof No Frizz Styling Cream to help keep frizz away and smooth out my hair.  It actually makes it look super shiny but not greasy or weighed down at all.   I used to refuse to use any styling products but ever since I started using this cream, it's made a huge difference.   And if you are like me and have thick or coarse hair, it'll work wonders!
I put a very small amount on before I dry my hair.


Blowout | Yes, I can give myself a blowout thanks to Living Proof Blowout.  The beautiful thing about this product is that I can actually use it as a touch up on second-day hair.   It really helps reduce the amount of brushing I need to do to style my hair and it locks my blowout in for an entire day.  It doesn't make my hair tangle and it even offers heat protection up to 450 degrees!  I love the way it smells and honestly a small amount goes a very long way.




Pampering along the way | One of the other little things I do every time I wash my hair is use a Shampoo & Scalp Toning Brush. It helps me distribute shampoo and conditioner throughout my hair and it gives me a nice little massage which actually increases circulation.  This can even remove build-up on the scalp from leave-in treatments and styling products! It's so easy to hold too!


 


Seriously, if you use the right products, you can get salon style results EVERY DAY!



 
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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

UnderTech UnderCover + A Giveaway

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If you haven't noticed by now, I am a full fledged supporter of my right to protect myself.   The only problem with that is, it's not exactly pleasant to tote a handgun in a small purse or awkwardly hanging out of my pants for all to see.  So that's why I love UnderTech UnderCover.   They have an amazing selection of conceal carry clothing that is not always comfortable and practical but very stylish and discreet.



The .380 is a great gun for conceal carrying.  Not only is it tiny but it's also lightweight.  





So for me, the Women's Concealment Shorts are perfect.   The .380 fits very nicely in the back but it's steal easy to reach if I need to.  It barely takes up space under my clothing and in my waistline.  The shorts are SO comfortable and honestly, I wore them when I went on a walk through the woods and they were perfect!  I felt like I was wearing workout shorts already! You can tell these were made specifically for a woman's body because they allow for curves! AMEN to that!









I tried to get a photo from the back so you can see how easy it would be for me to simply put my shirt down over my gun. 




Now my 9 is a bit different.  I like to wear this one close to my heart if you know what I mean!   So I really love the Women's Concealment Tank Top.  It is SO COMFORTABLE and perfect for layering.  I couldn't believe how comfortable it was to carry in this tank top even when it was my slightly larger 9!  This is also a very flattering and form fitting shirt, once again perfect for a girl like me!  





And one lucky winner will get a $50 gift certificate for UnderTech UnderCover! 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Surprise My Pet Monthly Subscription Box

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I love writing about HUMAN subscription boxes but what about ones for your pet?  Well, today's post is about Surprise My Pet, a monthly subscription service that sends your pooch treats, toys, and other fun goodies right to your doorstep!


They take the time to ensure they offer all-natural goodies that are healthy and safe for your pets.  You even get to select the size of your dog and other details so you get goodies that are more suitable for you. 



One thing I really loved is that there was SO MUCH stuff in this box.   The toys were really nice quality too, not the kind that just shred apart right away.  I am loving the unique selection of treats as well.  My dogs really loved the Chicken Barz and the Roasted Beef Tips.  Everything is full size which means it will last quite a while!


I love that there were plush toys and a chewy toy.   Some boxes only give you one toy and maybe 2-3 treats. This box was seriously so full! I love it!

That plush fox is so cute and Grace loves trying to tear it up. It's actually pretty durable because she has yet to actually shred the hair off it.   She loves playing Tug'o'war with Rocky and Pixie.   Stella meanwhile loves the little chewy rubber ball with rope!

This is a great idea for any dog owner, especially if you have multiple dogs!






















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A Kmart & March of Dimes Collaboration + A Giveaway! #TeamKmart


"I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Kmart & March of Dimes.  I received a promotional item to thank me for my participation."  #TeamKmart

 


I'm sure you have been to Kmart before, and you may already know what the March of Dimes is, but did you know that Kmart is the top corporate fundraiser for the March of Dimes? And did you know that they have teamed up with celebrity fitness icon, mom, and Kmart ambassador Jillian Michaels for their 2015 fundraising campaign? I adore Jillian Michaels so this made me excited.  Any funds raised by Kmart will help support the scientists and people working to discover the cause of premature birth and help find treatments at five March of Dimes Prematurity Research Centers!

I think it's great that Kmart is support the March of Dimes for the 32nd year in a row!  They are also a sponsor of the annual March for Babies® walks that happen in 700 different communities across the country.  But why am I telling you all of this? Well, there's a way that you can help out and support this amazing cause.  Now through June 20th, Shop Your Way members and Kmart customers can actually support the campaign by  purchasing Kmart's collectible puppy figurine which is available in-store or online for $5, with $1 being donated to the March of Dimes.  You can also contribute in-store at any Kmart or online at Kmart.com/MarchofDimes, with 100% of funds raised going to benefit the March of Dimes. Kmart is so appreciative of Shop Your Way members that give back, that they are sending a coupon for 5% back in points on your next qualifying in-store or online merchandise purchase! 

More than $125 million has been raise by Kmart over the past 31 years.  Thanks to that, the preterm birth rate in the US has actually been reduced over the last seven years which helps save an estimated $12 billion in health care costs.   Thanks to the money raised it's helped moms get the best information on healthy pregnancy and delivery and overcome substance abuse with community outreach programs.  In fact, all of these efforts have increased access to prenatal care including mobile clinics and transportation to doctors.   Not to mention, generations of parents have become educated on the value of vaccination.  I also think it's great that they've been able to fight for better newborn screening standards in different states across the United States.



So what about this giveaway? Well, two of you will have the chance to win 1 of 2 exclusively designed Jillian Michaels/March of Dimes t-shirts.  Contest entrants are only eligible to win once per sweepstakes, per household as part of a campaign sponsored by Influence Central.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
 

 

Monday, April 27, 2015

How I'm Celebrating My Debt Free Life





Now that I am debt free and ready to enjoy life I want to celebrate everyday so I like to sit by the creek and read a book and sip a delicious beverage.  I don't have a care in the world....Just kidding! I do, but it's nothing compared to the weight I felt from having lots of debt and having to work work work ALL the time to make extra income to pay it off. 

So I decided to head to the store, which is where I discovered Palm Breeze.  Palm Breeze is a sparkling alcohol spritz that comes in 2 flavors - Ruby Red Citrus and Pineapple Mandarin Orange.  I decided to choose Pineapple Mandarin Orange. I tend to choose flavored malt beverages, like Palm Breeze, because it's made with a malt base, sort of like beer.  And what's even better is that it's the first drink that is unabashedly targeting women!

See, I'm spontaneous and carefree now so I enjoy spending more time outdoors or even with my girlfriends.  Palm Breeze is the perfect drink of choice for my lifestyle. 


These are so cute and convenient that they are very easy to share with friends.  Of course I do enjoy time by myself most of all, and Palm Breeze fits so perfectly in my hand while I sit alone, stare at the creek, and soak up some sun.  

I can now focus on everything around me like how the breeze feels against my skin, or the sound of the water trickling and the birds chirping.   I can also taste the delicious flavor of the fruits in Palm Breeze.  I love having it over ice so I can listen to the sizzle and pop of the ice cubes. The taste is not overpowering but it's just strong enough that I can enjoy it.

Oh and did you know that Palm Breeze is having a Blo Bar event in DC? You can RSVP here.

So I really don't have to travel anywhere to have a little vacay of my own.... as long as I have Palm Breeze in hand and a great view in front of me, I'm set.

Are you going to try to have a mental vacay like mine with Palm Breeze?
 



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I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Why #TheUsProject Movement is Better than the Selfie Epidemic

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Soffe for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.

Pretty much everyone has heard about selfies lately. Selfies are HUGE with social media platforms, since they are mostly image-based and they force people to take and share a close look at themselves. In fact, people post more than 1 million selfies each day! Don't believe me? Go search the hashtag! 30 percent of all photos people aged 18-24 take are selfies! And 35% of 18-24 year-olds admit to altering their photos before they go up.
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Of course every big social media trend comes with it's own set of problems and with selfies, studies have shown that they lead to decreased intimacy and more shallow relationships. Have you ever watched someone try to take a selfie when they are out on a date? They spend way too much time finding the right facial expression, and perfect background, all the while their date is impatiently waiting to order food. Unfortunately, selfies have also given rise to the "selfie surgery".... yes plastic surgery has risen for patients younger than 30. Everyone is so obsessed with looking fantastic in their selfies. It's kind of scary.

But, that's why #TheUsProject movement exists. Instead of using social media to pit us against one another, we can use it to bring us all together! Let's stop competing with each other and start building each other up. Soffe is challenging the #selfie epidemic using the #TheUsProject movement. It's encouraging young women to focus on each other and hose around them that give them strength and encouragement. Together, we can make a more beautiful picture and a more beautiful world. Instead of taking a selfie that screams ME let's use a statement that says WE makes ME!
Personally, I would not be the person I am today without my friends and family. They support me with all my decisions and when I'm down they lift me up. I could not make it to the happy times if I didn't have them to get through the sad times.

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And if it weren't for my blog readers, I wouldn't even have a successful blog. As much as I think I am independent I completely acknowledge the fact that I depend on other people in many ways. I run out of steam a lot and I get discouraged but my friends, family, and readers encourage me to keep going! I love the photo I shared on Instagram (above) of some fellow bloggers at an event. We totally were giving each other tips and advice and building each other up!
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Help be part of the movement! You can participate in the Soffe contest by posting of photo of yourself with friends to Instagram and tagging #TheUsProject and @ellenr886. Soffe will be selecting the contest winners of #TheUsProject and will send them #TheUsProject apparel! This contest runs from 4/20/15-4/24/15
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Their apparel is so cute, it's so worth it to enter.
Visit Sponsors Site

Thursday, April 23, 2015

My Blogger Bestie Meetup With Monica

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Every 2 months my bestie Monica, from Jersey Girl Texan Heart and I drive half way to meet each other for some outfit photos and dinner.   




It was perfect weather so I loved that my outfit let me stay cool and still enjoy the breeze.   We also had some interesting audience members (people from in the restaurant) watching us as we changed.   We met up in Allentown at Sunset Grille. It was delicious and a good time!







Normally I get all dressed up but I decided to just wear some Capris this time. Keepin' it casual as always.   

Monica got me an adorable gift that you will see soon in an outfit post! 


So What I Wore: 






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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

I'm a Smart Cookie + A Giveaway

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Everyone knows by now how vigilant I am when it comes to what I feed my dogs even with treats.  I don't like any unhealthy ingredients or artificial flavors.  So I really like Smart Cookie Treats.


Smart Cookie Treats come from Denver, Colorado and they let pet owners create their own customized box of treats by choosing the ingredients.  This is a great way to cater to your own dogs lifestyle, dietary needs, or flavor preferences.  You get to select the protein, carbohydrate, and fruit and veggie combos which are the 3 main ingredients that go into the treats.  Then the bake the treats and deliver them to you. I chose Beef, Quinoa, and Cranberries & Carrots for my babies.



 
 
My dogs love these things! And I love them because they are made from all human-grade ingredients that are sourced in the USA. There's no wheat, corn, soy, or by-products and no preservatives.  I love that everything is nutritious and delicious for my dogs. 

These are great as a training reward for my dogs and I can easily break them into smaller bite-sized pieces.  They don't smell disgusting like some treats that contain unhealthy ingredients.  I love that a little goes along way too! My dogs spin in circles with excitement when I break these out now!

 

One lucky winner will get some dog treats for their pooch!
a Rafflecopter giveaway



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Monday, April 20, 2015

I'm Debt Free! Oh and What Would YOU Do With $500?



I just wanted to announce that I FINALLY paid off all my debt. I will have a post coming up in 2 weeks about it.  But I just had to brag for now!

But in order to celebrate - I have a fabulous giveaway for you!


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GIVEAWAY DETAILS
Prize: $500 Cash (via Paypal)
Giveaway organized by: Oh My Gosh Beck!
Rules: Use the Rafflecopter form to enter daily. Giveaway ends 5/18 and is open worldwide. Winner will be notified via email.
Are you a blogger who wants to participate in giveaways like these to grow your blog? Click here to find out how you can join a totally awesome group of bloggers!


a Rafflecopter giveaway




The Many Benefits of the KonMari Method + Some Tips


 Over the past few weeks I've been blogging about my life-changing experience with The KonMari Method of Tidying.   Marie Kondo's book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is an amazing read. The KonMari Method suggests that we only keep those things that bring us joy.   It requires you to evaluate every aspect and item of your life one at a time.   I wrote about how I did this with my wardrobe and my other possessions.

There are many benefits of The KonMari Method so I wanted to break them down and show you how my life is different.

1 | I have more energy.
She even said this in her book, and I totally believe it now.   My mind and spirit don't feel cluttered and overwhelmed EVER.  No matter what's going on around me I can come into my room, sit down and meditate and decompress from a long day.  I feel like my life is in order.    

2| I have less stress.
I have not once had to rush to get something or find something since I KonMari'd all of my possessions.   In fact, the whole idea of not having to declutter and re-organize on a regular basis keeps my mind very clear. Whenever a task comes up, I can do it right away. When I open my mail I can tend to each item immediately. I don't feel the need to toss it away and deal with it later.

3 | I have more time.
Just as she said in the book, you will have more time to do things you love.  I suddenly have more free nights after work so it's easy for me to see my friends and family more often.   I was afraid I would be bored but nope, I am not bored at all.  In fact I've taken up more fun crafting type hobbies.  I have several mini personal projects that I have been able to enjoy these past few weeks.  My routine is so easy now! I come home, change clothes, put my bag away, make my lunch for the next day, and then maybe have 1 or 2 small items on my to do list and that's it.   I don't know why but I had so much more crap to worry about doing before all of this.

4 | I save money.
Since I don't go out and try to buy organizing products and solutions, and I instead use stuff I already have, I've noticed that I am not spending money as much.  

5 | I am a smart shopper.
So the other day I went out to 4 different stores.  Along the way at each store I would pick up several items I wanted or thought I needed like special pens, desk accessories, etc. I thought these were things I really wanted. Then I noticed that I put EVERYTHING back and would leave the store. I ended up coming home empty handed. One specific example was several letter trays I wanted for my cubicle at work. I was just going to settle on a set I found at Staples and then I asked myself automatically if it brought me joy. It honestly didn't so I had no problem putting them back.  And I ended up finding some I really liked online and I had a gift card for the site.   It's amazing how I can resist impulse buys or purchases that I'm really not thrilled about.

6 | I have a closer bond with my possessions.
Laugh all you want but it's true. I love everything I own because I ONLY own things that I love.   And I truly believe in the power of positive energy.  In her book, Marie explains how she had this phone that she just loved and it worked for years and years even though it was outdated. When she finally got a new one, she thanked her old phone, and the second she set it down it died!  It's like once she released it, it's job was done!   Have you ever noticed how a house that is neglected without a family inside to love and enjoy it just starts disintegrating?  I have a great example of all of this with my Honda Civic. I LOVE my car. I honestly have a special bond with her and I would be devastated if something happened to her.   I love her o much not because she's paid off but because she is so reliable and aside from routine maintenance never gives me a problem. I know people with the exact same car as mine from the same year and their car is acting up left and right for no good reason.   Then I realized... it's because all these years I've loved her and when I drive her I enjoy her, and sometimes I even talk to her.   There is positive energy from me in my car, and that's why she is reliable, accident free, and enjoyable for me.   The more 


Now I will say, reading blogs about KonMari will not allow you to do it properly yourself. I INSIST that you quickly read her book ( it took me 2 days) and then start KMing your life in the ways that suit you best.  

I now understand why her book is titled the LIFE-CHANGING magic of tidying up. Once you do this, you will understand too.  Anyone can do it, even the laziest of people. I PROMISE YOU! YOU WILL NOT REGRET THIS! My life is forever changed. I am SO HAPPY!

I do have some tips for anyone that decides to embrace the KonMari Method:


1 | Tackle items by category, NOT location.  
So many people like to go by room when they do this with your house but when I did each category I followed the book and I rounded all the like items from every other room.  The lotion that I kept next to my vanity, the lotions in the bathroom, the lotions in my purse, etc.   Doing this made it easier to really eliminate the duplicates of so many possessions of mine.

2 | Use what you already have. I used to be a big fan of buying organizing products but I took Marie Kondo's advice and began to use things I already own like Apple product boxes, jewelry boxes, etc.  Surprisingly, I had everything I needed so I didn't have to go spend money on fancy shmancy organizing goods.

3 | Touch each item.
By touching each item you actually can feel if there is a joyous energy or not.   Looking at so many items in my closet everyday made me *think* I should keep them, but the second I picked up and held each one I was able to say "Nah, I never wear this because it always looks funny, so this DOESN'T bring me joy."
 
4 | Take your time.
It's not a race. It took me a few weeks but it can take other people a few months.  Everyone is different. Enjoy the journey.
 
5 | Emotions are okay.
I felt so distraught on some days because I was just drained from either parting with things, trying to touch everything, or just the entire fact that this was an ongoing project.   It's okay to get emotional. There are plenty of KonMari Facebook groups out there for support

Have you tried this method or do you plan to? 


 

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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Tips for Pleasant Dog Walking in Spring

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The weather is so beautiful lately and I'm always trying to go on walks with my dogs but I noticed a lot of other owners struggling with having a stress-free walk where their dog isn't pulling, barking, or getting distracted along the way.  Here are a few tips I use with my dogs.


1// Try to keep a routine.
I like to walk my dogs in the afternoon so by the time they eat dinner, they know that it's time to wind down for the evening.   Dogs are creatures of habit just like people are so when you get a routine going that works for the both of you, make sure you stay with it.


2// Pay attention.
You need to see distractions coming before your dog does so keep your eyes ahead and if you see anything that could potentially cause issues, you can cross the street or start getting your dogs attention early so they focus on you and not what's coming.



3// Be responsible.
Never leave home without doggie bags to clean up any mess! Also, if you are going to a dog park, make sure you have the proper licenses and identification for your dog. 


4// Reward good behavior.
I use small bite size training rewards, like Zuke's Mini Naturals from Chewy during walks to reinforce good behavior and also to keep my dogs focused on me, not other animals.  By holding a small treat in my hand, Grace knows to stay focused on me instead of the squirrel running in front of us.   Also, when another dog greets us, if she stays calm I reward her every minute or so with a treat and some praise. 

What tips do you have for enjoying the nice weather with your pet?



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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A Special Mother's Day Giveaway

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So Mother's Day will be here before we know it and it's a good idea to start shopping for gifts right now.  I'm going to make this easy for you though because I'm going to giveaway something would make a GREAT gift for any Mom!

The  Build Your Own Sterling Silver 2 Photo Heart Locket process is so easy and self explanatory. I love that you get to customize your locket with a photo on the right and left, and even a customized message!


I mean who wants to buy a custom piece of jewelry online if you don't get to know what it looks like?   I would hate that! That's why I like to see the example on the PicturesOnGold.com website first!  Plus you get a great selection from 1000's of front designs with everything from hearts and hobbies to decorative symbols.  I also like the font selections for the engravings. 
 

So here's the giveaway where one lucky winner will get to create their own customized locket, with options for a Mother’s Day  clip art on the front , 2 permanently engraved photos – in either color or black & white, on the left & right sides, and a message on the reverse side. The item is worth  $170.90 + Free Shipping. 

 
 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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