Suave® Professionals Body Care Product Review

My husband and I went to Hawaii on our honeymoon, which feels like ages ago. While there, we enjoyed massages in a private cabana on the beach. Truly an amazing way to enjoy some of nature’s best elements, the sandy shore, the fresh air… Now with a two-and-a-half-year-old child, I can only dream about going back to Hawaii, or can I? The Suave® Professionals premium Body Care line brings the incredible spa experience and some of the scents of Hawaii to your very own bathroom!

Continue reading Suave® Professionals Body Care Product Review

Creative Food Tips for Parents of Picky Eaters

IMAG4237My daughter is not even two yet and I feel like she barely eats anything. If it weren’t for pancakes, macaroni and cheese, and cream cheese bagels, I don’t think the poor girl would eat! Don’t get me wrong, she likes fruit and will try the occasional chicken tenders and other foods, but it’s never a “sure thing,” if you know what I mean. I often feel like our fridge is jam-packed with food in the hopes that she will actually eat SOMETHING. Then, inevitably, we end up throwing twice as much stuff out as we would before now. It’s frustrating to feel so wasteful!

I struggle with this every day. The pediatrician’s office had me all flustered when she fell from the 10th percentile or so down to third percentile for weight and fourth for height. She is a tiny little thing, but so cute and very healthy – not really a major concern. I’m not tall myself, so she likely got my genes as far as height and body type. Still, the doctor’s office got me so worried before that I have desperately been trying to get her to eat as much as possible, whenever possible.

Sometimes I bribe her, sometimes I just keep trying new things, other times I cycle through the few things I know she does like. We have occasional success with fish or fish sticks, pasta, and pretty good success with pizza. I have tried to creatively make special things for her to enjoy while still getting essential nutrients, and most times, have failed miserably. For example, my parmesan broccoli fritters looked and smelled (and even tasted) delicious when warm, but once cool enough for a baby’s palate, all bets were off. She didn’t even see the green of the broccoli that I popped in her mouth and still spit it out.

So, out of desperation in my own quest to get my child to eat more, I have decided to make a list of my most successful tips. I’d be thrilled if you can share any of your own tips in the comments so I can add them to the article and try them myself with N. Here’s my top list of tricks to get a toddler to eat more:

  1. Try to avoid letting them fill up on milk, water, juice, or whatever they are drinking. Keep their beverages out of site at first, at least until they get a little food in their belly.
  2. Offer different kinds of snacks often. We rotate through cereal, crackers, goldfish, dried fruit, fresh fruit, bagels, muffins, and other snacks.
  3. Sneak food into their mouths as they are feeding themselves. At this toddler phase, kids will never be as efficient at feeding themselves as you would be. Unfortunately, it seems they may also not be as agreeable to you doing the work as they once were. Sneak in what you can and allow them to have control over at least some of their food.
  4. Encourage your child and praise him or her for eating well. Use a tone that is fun and exciting, expressing how proud you are of their efforts.
  5. Consider bargaining if appropriate. It may not be a practice you want to do all the time, but bargaining can be instrumental in getting your child to try new things or to eat in greater quantity.
  6. Try different settings to give your child variety. The high chair gets old after a while. If you can pull your child’s chair up to the kitchen table without the tray, that could be a suitable alternative. I’ve also seen great success with the portable booster chairs for toddlers and even just letting them run around and pick food pieces up from a TV tray or table.
  7. Have a [willing] family member or guest offer your child their snacks or meals. I have seen more success with my daughter eating snacks she gets from someone new and exciting than from offering what we keep in the cabinets.
  8. And finally, my favorite tip of all – Disguise food as something they love. Create cute animal shapes with the food or use cookie cutters, food molds, or pancake and egg shapes to give your kid a more entertaining, more enjoyable option when it comes to eating the same foods day after day.

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If you have other tips and ideas to get your toddler to be a better eater, please share them in our comments below! You may think your tip or suggestion seems basic, but to someone else it could be a godsend.

Festive ChapStick Holiday Inspired Lip Balms

IMAG4041You can always count on ChapStick to keep your lips soft and kissable for the next big holiday or special occasion. I’ve always loved the fun flavors and products ChapStick brings to the lip care market, but I feel like the new holiday collection of limited edition gift tins and wintry flavors ups the ante this year. I constantly find myself thinking I need just one more little item for so-and-so when finishing up my holiday shopping, so this time I’m prepared ahead of schedule. I know just what I’ll buy for those people on my list who need a little extra TLC this year.

Like anyone, I have my favorite flavors and favorite lip products, but it’s exciting to add new lip balms to my stash when one season rolls into the next, or even on a passing whim. ChapStick kindly sent me a selection of their holiday lip balms and gift tins for the purpose of an honest review, and I’m delighted to share my experience with you.

ChapStick Classic Cherry
IMAG4135Okay, I’m convinced. It’s completely impossible to go wrong with ChapStick’s Classic Cherry lip balm. It is still the same flavor and fragrance I remember as a young girl trying out ChapStick for the very first time. It takes me back, but it is also so wonderfully smooth and tasty that it keeps me happy right where I am. I am pretty sure you’d have to be devoid of at least two of your five senses if you don’t like the cherry ChapStick, at least that’s my own humble opinion. This flavor is available separately or as part of a few variety-pack holiday gift tins by ChapStick, available at Walmart and Target in a nice collection of designs and colors.

ChapStick StrawberryIMAG4137
Similar to the cherry, the ChapStick Strawberry flavor is familiar and pleasant. I find these two to be lip balm staples. The strawberry flavor is nice for any time of year, and like its cherry counterpart, the soft pinkish shade of the lip balm is rather appealing. I don’t think there’s much else to say about the strawberry flavor – I like it and recommend it. Sometimes I could swear I caught a tiny tingle on my lips while using it, but I’ve also been using two minty flavors as well, so it’s hard to say….

ChapStick Spearmint
IMAG4134When it comes to chewing gum, spearmint is always my first pick. I find it tasty and refreshing, so it’s nice to see spearmint offered in a line of lip products as well. The ChapStick Spearmint flavor goes on just as smoothly as all the other ChapStick products, but it almost convinces me I’ve got fresher breath or a tingly kiss just waiting to happen. I adore its pale green hue.

And, you’ve guessed it—now I want a stick of gum. In fact, I think I would use this ChapStick for sure if I found out I had run out of gum. It would also be great right before a kiss. I like this one a lot – just remind me not to wear it outside in the bitter cold or I might think my lips are about to fall off!

ChapStick Limited Edition Candy Cane
IMAG4138The Candy Cane ChapStick flavor invigorates your senses with a burst of peppermint that starts as a fragrance and quickly escalates to a teasing tingle on your lips. (I guess the Spearmint one does this too, but I am feeling more inspired writing this part of the review!) I don’t usually prefer mint flavors aside from chewing gum, but this ChapStick is a winner due to its refreshing approach to lip care. After I applied this flavor to my lips, I lost track of how long the tingling lasted, perhaps because I got bored waiting for it to fade. In fact, my lips are still tingling now, about 20 minutes later. Candy Cane ChapStick is available individually wrapped or as part of a holiday gift tin.

The Candy Cane Swirl holiday tin (MSRP: $5.99, exclusively at Walgreens) contains three sticks of lip balm, making this a great gift for any girl who’s got to have a stick in her purse, pocket, and a spare (aka, me). I think this set would also be nice for sharing, since ChapStick products always seem to last nice and long, even though I apply them multiple times per day. I especially like the pretty design of the Candy Cane Swirl tin and look forward to picking up a few of these during my holiday shopping this year.

ChapStick Gingerbread Kiss
IMAG4136Surprisingly subtle, I like this ChapStick for that very reason. It has enough flavor for you to notice a hint of gingerbread, but it does not overpower your senses. I like that a lot, especially because I feel, at least for me personally, gingerbread is something I like once in a while around the holidays, but not all the time, and not necessarily over other cookie flavors. Chocolate chip, sugar cookies, oatmeal raisin – those I love all the time, but gingerbread is special for the holidays and I like it very much as a limited edition lip balm flavor from ChapStick. Think of it like when the pumpkin craze starts in the very early fall… if you aren’t one of the crazy pumpkin flavor fanatics, you certainly know one. (Looking in at least one friend’s general direction…) Gingerbread Kiss is a great lip balm to bring along for all your holiday visiting or to simply keep your lips soft and kissable while winter’s bite sinks in this year.

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When I showed my husband the new wintry offerings from this all-star lip care company, he told me I most certainly did not need any more lip balms or ChapSticks. He still remembers a plastic box or drawer I had in college with “at least 200 ChapSticks,” he swears. I’m pretty sure it was a small tub with about 30 or so sticks, but I guess that’s the difference between a lip balm enthusiast and the person lucky enough to be their mate!

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I must admit, my only disappointment in the whole experience of testing and tasting these delightful flavors is that, try as I might to avoid it, I almost always peeled some of the label off the ChapStick tube when trying to break the seal holding the cap in place. Perhaps you’ll have better luck. Not that it matters AT ALL, but I just like my ChapSticks to look as nice as they taste, if it even matters to anyone besides me.

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I really love ChapStick® Collector’s Edition Ornament Tins and the individual flavors. I can’t wait to pick out a few holiday recipients with whom I can share the joy. (Truth be told, I also can’t wait to see what comes out next from ChapStick… Valentine’s flavors like chocolate-covered strawberry or champagne kiss? St. Patrick’s flavors? Easter styles teeming of coconut, dark chocolate, and marshmallow? I can hardly contain myself. ChapStick, if you’re reading this, please don’t keep us in suspense too long!)

IMAG4144You can find a variety of ChapStick’s holiday sets at Target, Walgreens, and Walmart, making your holiday shopping just a bit easier this year. For additional information, be sure to check out www.chapstick.com or visit ChapStick on facebook at www.facebook.com/chapstick.

Have you had the pleasure of trying any of these yummy flavors this year? Feel free to share your thoughts in our comments below.

Disclosure: The ChapStick® products and sales information have been provided by Pfizer Consumer Healthcare. The opinions expressed herein are my own unbiased feelings and assessment following product use.

 

My Unofficial Version of the Pink Leaf Cookie from Italian Bakeries

pink cookie sandwich baking partyFor as long as I can remember, I’ve loved the pink leaf cookies with the chocolate sandwich middles that you get at Italian bakeries and sometimes in the gourmet cookie assortments at the grocery store if you are lucky. These cookies come in pink and green sandwiches in the exact same leaf shape, and they have a layer of chocolate holding them together. I believe the pink cookie is a strawberry flavor and the green cookie is supposed to be pistachio, I THINK. For almost as long as I’ve loved these cookies, I’ve been desperate to learn how to make them. I’ve scoured the Web and asked chefs and others I know who love to bake. Always coming up empty handed, I thought about reverse engineering the cookie with a basic Italian butter cookie recipe. I found a pretty good amount of success with this method.

WARNING: STOP reading here if you might be disappointed in learning of a possibly different origin for these scrumptious cookies other than the quaint Italian bakeries of your childhood or the pleasant Italian women you’ve pictured baking these from scratch —

Okay, you’ve been warned… I also, through my research, came up with a new theory that the pink and green leaf sandwich cookies might be a product of a company that mass produces them for sale at bakeries and so forth. Sort of like a Nabisco or Keebler, but more upscale and more “white label.”

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Again, just my suspicion, but it would certainly explain why a recipe is so hard to come by! And also why, no matter what brand, store, or model, I cannot find quite the right leaf shape cookie cutter or cookie gun with leaf shaped disks.

From a previous blog post I wrote, I’ve received a few requests for my version of the pink leaf bakery cookie recipe, so here goes nothing! If you try it, please let me know in the comments what you thought and if you have any improvements or modifications that may be useful to other people.

Unofficial Italian Bakery Pink Leaf Cookies Recipe:

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Ingredients:
1/2 pound butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
pink-leaf-cookie-cutter1 egg
1 tsp strawberry extract, or to taste
2 & 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
Red food coloring

(Yields 40 cookies, depending on size. I usually double the recipe. When you need two cookies per sandwich, the recipe doesn’t stretch very far…)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Using an electric mixer (my favorite), cream the butter and sugar until super fluffy (around 3 minutes or so).
  3. Add eggs and strawberry extract and mix until blended completely.
  4. On the lowest speed, add in the flour, baking powder, and pinch of salt.
  5. Mix the dough just until it’s blended. Avoid overmixing.
  6. Add in a few drops of red food coloring and mix with spoon until blended. Adjust to your desired shade of pink.
  7. pink-leaf-cookie-pressFill your cookie gun (cookie press) or roll out a handful of dough for use with cookie cutters.
  8. Attempt to make equal numbers of the same shape of cookies – for example, I have used the Wilton Cookie Pro Ultra II Cookie Press as well as the Wilton Leaves and Acorns Cookie Cutter Set, although you can find other cookie cutter options as well. You will need pairs of cookies to make the little sandwiches. Space them apart by about two inches on your cookie sheets.pink-leaf-cookie-tray
  9. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until edges begin to turn golden brown.
  10. Cool on cooling rack.
  11. Heat about 1/3 of a bag of semisweet chocolate chips in a glass measuring cup. Be careful not to overheat – I put mine in for 60 seconds followed by another 10 seconds, mixing in between.
  12. chocolate-leaf-sandwich-cookieUsing a spoon or other utensil, spread the melted chocolate on the bottom of one cookie and press the other half together so they stick.
  13. Place on a sheet of wax paper inside a plastic container.
  14. Repeat for all cookies until done.
  15. Place container inside refrigerator for about 10 to 20 minutes to “set” the chocolate. This way the chocolate won’t melt and smear as much as it otherwise might.
  16. Enjoy and share your cookies and this pink leaf cookie recipe with family and friends!

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Please let me know what you think of this recipe if you decide to try it! I would be glad to use your comments to further improve the recipe for our readers, myself, my family, and friends. Also, if you’ve attempted the green leaf cookies, please share as well. Thanks, and happy baking!

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Homemade Ice Cream Sandwiches Using Different Kinds of Cookies

sugar-cookie-icecream-sandwichIt may be a wonderful summertime treat, but Chipwiches and ice cream sandwiches can be delicious any time of year. It’s hard to picture a more scrumptious dessert than ice cream sandwiched between two soft, chewy cookies. Yum! Store-bought ice cream novelties like Chipwiches can certainly be tasty, but making them at home adds a fun element of creativity and freshness.

Whether it’s a hot summer day or a rainy day any time of year when you’re bored, consider making your own delectable ice cream cookie sandwiches using your favorite flavor of ice cream and favorite type of cookie. You can use store-bought cookies if you must, but half of the fun is baking your own cookies to use in your ice cream sandwiches.

When making ice cream sandwiches at home, you can make them completely by hand or you can use an actual ice cream sandwich maker or mold. You can make ice cream sandwich minis or full-sized treats, depending on how much variety you want to have in your snack. Mini ice cream sandwiches can be great for parties – just make them ahead of time and freeze until you are ready to serve. My family bought me the Cuisipro Mini Ice Cream Sandwich Maker set for Christmas last year and I love it. You can make mini ice cream sandwiches in shapes of hearts, stars, and circles, in as many flavors as your heart desires. This kit is a super easy, beautiful, and fun way to make delicious, amazing, frozen treats any time of year.

I also received a different set of ice cream sandwich makers for bigger treat sizes from a friend. The Tovolo Ice Cream Sandwich Molds set allows you to make ice cream cookie sandwiches very easily with a cookie cutter type mold. The molds have a plunger type piece that allows you to gently push out the ice cream sandwich once it is ready. These ice cream sandwich molds and the mini ice cream sandwich makers are really cute and fun helpers when it comes to making your own frozen treats at home. Of course, you can always make cookies in similar sizes and simply use those without the ice cream sandwich press as well. It’s really up to you and how you prefer to assemble your treats!

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Try these tips to make a delicious spread of ice cream cookie sandwiches for your entire family or all your friends to enjoy.

Ice Cream Cookie Sandwich Ingredients:
– Ice cream (vanilla, chocolate, black raspberry, black cherry, strawberry, cookies and cream, etc.)
– Ingredients for your favorite cookie recipe
– Mini chocolate chips

Recipe Steps for Homemade Ice Cream Sandwiches:

1. Make up your favorite batch of cookies. Chocolate chip cookies work perfectly, but you can also make oatmeal raisin cookies, sugar cookies, chocolate sugar cookies, and more.
2. Allow cookies to cool sufficiently, at least 20 minutes.
3. Match up cookies of similar sizes.
4. Bring out the ice cream and a scooper.
5. If using an ice cream sandwich maker, follow the individualized instructions. Usually you will press the mold / cutter down onto a semi-soft cookie, scoop the ice cream into it, and press down onto another cookie. Then twist the handle until the ice cream sandwich pops out of the mold.
6. If desired, press mini chocolate chips around the edges of the exposed ice cream.
7. Store your cookie sandwiches individually in plastic baggies or in a freezer-safe plastic container with a lid.

Making homemade ice cream sandwiches is easy and fun, but you might find a little difficulty since the ice cream melts really fast. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your fun treat-making experience:

ice-cream-sandwiches-x• When making these treats in bulk, create small batches and take a break to let your ice cream get harder again. If you try to make too many sandwiches or let it take too long, the ice cream will be a mushy mess that is too tough to handle.
• Put them in the freezer in small fold-over sandwich bags, individually wrapped for best results. That makes them easy to enjoy later, too!
• Consider putting them in the freezer for a little while before you add the mini chocolate chips to the edges if you find the ice cream is too soft to manage.
• I know it’s hard to wait, but please avoid putting ice cream on the cookies until they’ve really cooled. Your ice cream will melt too fast and you’ll never be able to enjoy your cookie sandwich without a real mess!

Do you have a favorite flavor of ice cream cookie sandwich? I made the ultimate, extreme ice cream cookie sandwich using chocolate chip cookies and cookies and cream ice cream with mini chips on the edges. I also tried sugar cookies and black cherry ice cream, oatmeal craisin cookies with chocolate ice cream, and sugar cookies with black cherry ice cream. They were all wonderful, although Chocolate Chip Cookie Sandwiches will always have a special place in my heart!

Do you want to try this? Have you already done it? Do you have any other tips to share? Please share your comments below – we’d love to hear from you!

Fun, Relaxing, and Exciting Vacations for Seniors

seniors vacationsWhen it comes to taking vacations, seniors have a wide range of travel options. The possibilities for mature travelers include weekend getaways, cruises, and guided tours, to name a few. There are also trips for single seniors looking for some time away. Depending on the type of experience you are looking for, here are some enjoyable options.

All-Inclusive Vacations for Seniors

You can find a whole world of destinations to choose from when planning a vacation. If you are looking for a relaxing trip away from home, an all-inclusive vacation provides a stress-free environment. All-inclusive vacations allow you to leave your worries behind. This type of vacation includes food, drinks, and activities in the cost of the trip. All-inclusive trips to Jamaica or the Dominican Republic provide relaxing vacations for seniors looking to spend their time in a tropical environment.

Educational Trips

Educational trips make great vacations for seniors looking for an enjoyable learning experience. Historical locations, such as Greece and Riviera Maya, are rich with historical landmarks and expeditions. Guided tours take you to several destinations while providing you with historical information to create a memorable experience.

Cruises

Cruises offer a wide range of possibilities for seniors. Seniors can choose from multi-city destination cruises, European cruises, and Caribbean cruises. In addition, you can find themed cruises tailored toward mature travelers, including trips for single seniors. Cruise ships have a wide range of activities available on-board, including swimming, golfing, dining, and a variety of entertainment. Opportunities to explore new cities offshore also exist when traveling from port to port.

Weekend Getaways for Mature Travelers

Senior vacation ideasWeekend trips for seniors provide the perfect excuse to take a brief break from life. Plenty of convenient and affordable weekend destinations may include wineries and bed and breakfasts. Wineries make a great romantic escape, especially if you are looking to relax and try various samples of wine. Bed and breakfasts are ideal for seniors interested in spending a cozy weekend enjoying nature walks and daily activities. Try exploring wineries and bed and breakfasts in your area to find your best option.

Planning a vacation can be difficult, especially if you do not know what you are looking for in a week or weekend away. Consider what type of vacation you want and how long you would like to travel. This information will help you get started on planning your perfect escape. Whether you are a senior looking for a relaxing getaway or a fun-filled adventure, you’re sure to find an ideal vacation that is perfect for you.

Nautical Dresses, Coral Dresses, and Summery Sundresses for Mom and Daughter

nautical-dresses-xCoral continues to be a hot color this summer, and pretty shades of orange join along for the fun. The navy and white stripes and nautical look and feel drives another powerful trend this summer. And it seems fun and flirty sundresses in bright or bold colors and interesting patterns will never go out of style. Dressing in matching outfits with your daughter can make for some adorable pictures and it can be an enjoyable experience for moms and infants, toddlers, and little girls alike.

It might be tough to find matching outfits for mom and daughter, so we’re trying to do as much of the work for you as possible. Check out these cute mommy-and-me infant, toddler, or little girl matching or close-to-matching outfits for a lovely second half of the summer.

Orange / Coral Dresses for Mom and Daughter
Hues of the orange family add a fun burst of color to your summer days. Whether it’s a summer wedding, graduation party, or another special event, consider dressing up in duplicate with your little one for some great photo ops and a fun experience across the board.

41yy0aNoEFL._SY445_ orange-coral-infant-dress orange-stripe-dress orange-stripe-toddler-dress

coral-beach-dress coral-white-stripe-girls-dress

raya-sun-cover-up lucky-jeans-toddler-dress

Stunning Nautical Themed Dresses for Mom and Daughter
It seems the nautical theme is back and better than ever. You can find tons of dresses in navy and white patterns for adults, and a few cute styles for kids as well. Check out these gorgeous navy and white striped nautical dresses for mom and somewhat matching or at least complementing styles for infants and young girls.

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Cute, Flirty Sundresses for Moms and their Girls
When all else fails this summer, throw on a sundress. Better yet if you and your shining star can match. Consider these fun and stylish mother-daughter dresses as a nice way to bond with your daughter this summer. Your infants may not know what’s going on, and your toddlers may fight you on getting dressed, but your little girls are sure to love dressing up like their mama. Check out some too-cute options for summer mommy-and-me fashion.

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Summer Roundup: Sunscreen Products for Babies and Kids

second-kid-promoProtecting your little ones’ skin is so important, especially when it comes to the summer sun. You probably know from personal experience how painful sunburn can be, and you might even know someone who had to deal with skin cancer. Despite how much of a nuisance it can be to apply sunscreen to your children every time you go out in the sun, it really IS that important. You don’t want them to get sunburn or to have problems later in life, so you can feel good taking the time to apply sunscreen thoroughly before each exposure.

With a one-year-old of my own and a few trips already planned to the beach, I knew I had to scope out the best sunscreen products for little ones this summer. I have a few adult sunscreen products I like for myself, but I didn’t know where to start as far as baby sunscreen and kid sunscreen.

I was fortunate to receive a few sample products for the purpose of my review, including: Banana Boat Kids Lotion Mist SPF50, Banana Boat Natural Reflect Baby Sunscreen Lotion SPF50, COOLA Baby SPF50 Unscented Mineral Sunscreen, and VMV Hypoallergenics Armada Baby 50+ Full-Spectrum, Water-Resistant Physical Sun + Light Screen for Infants, Children + Adults.

Banana Boat makes a ton of products for sun care needs. I found the Banana Boat Kids Tear Free Sting Free SPF50 Continuous Spray Sunscreen to be very easy to apply and extremely effective. We had no issues with this sunscreen aside from it getting a bit clogged once it was more than halfway gone, and the clear spray came out instead of the lotion spray. I’m thinking it’s not empty yet, but I have yet to figure out how to get it unclogged. (If you know how, please leave a comment as I’m sure I am not the only person this has happened to!)

This sunscreen product for kids did not irritate my daughter’s skin, and my husband and I tried it out as well and enjoyed the ease of use, even if we had just gotten out of the ocean. This product provides protection against UVA and UVB rays and lasts quite a while—water resistant up to 80 minutes. I have used it at the beach, the pool, jogging in my neighborhood, and in my own backyard, and my daughter’s fared well each time.

Active ingredients include Avobenzone (3%), Homosalate (10%), Octisalate (5%), and Octocrylene (6%).

The Banana Boat Natural Reflect SPF50 Baby Sunscreen Lotion is made from 100% naturally sourced sunscreens and zinc oxide, contains no parabens, and is PABA free. It’s packaging says it is as mild as water and also tear free and sting free. It smoothes on like regular sunscreen, not the spray kind. This sunscreen was pretty thick to massage in, but it ended up being super water resistant and extremely effective. I loved using it in her baby pool and before we went to the beach.

I like this natural product quite a bit, but we did determine that our daughter was having some mild skin reactions to something in this product. She’s had baby eczema and other skin sensitivities, so despite this one being a natural choice, it did not work out best for her skin type. That’s not to say it would cause your baby any skin issues—every baby’s skin is different and reacts differently to products and the environment around them.

Active ingredients include Titanium Dioxide (3.6%) and Zinc Oxide (4%).

Banana Boat also offers countless products for adults and even more options for kids, like Kids SPF50 Long Lasting UVA UVB Broad Spectrum Sunscreen and Natural Reflect Kids SPF50+ Sunscreen Lotion to name just a few. For more information on Banana Boat products, please check out www.bananaboat.com.

COOLA Baby SPF50 Unscented Mineral Sunscreen comes in a really cool aqua-blue container with a white cap. The sleek packaging holds a thin, very spreadable liquid sunscreen that smoothes onto baby’s skin lickety-split. COOLA sunscreen has a certified organic formula that also moisturizes the skin and offers environmental protection. Zero chemicals and absolutely no preservatives are included, but you will find great ingredients like sunflower oil, sesame seed oil, cocoa butter, Shea butter, olive oil, coconut oil, and even organic avocado.

This baby mineral sunscreen is water resistant for up to 80 minutes and I really liked using this product on my daughter’s face, ears, and neck, based on how easy it was to spread across her skin. Once done, I have to admit, I had that “chalky” feeling where I wanted to quickly wash the remaining residue off my hands, since they were still a bit oily and slick. Our bottle is leaking a bit through the cap, maybe because it is so liquidy, so be careful and think about keeping any opened bottles inside a ziplock bag just in case.

Active ingredients include Titanium Dioxide (7.6%) and Zinc Oxide (6.8%).

For more information on COOLA products, check out www.coolasuncare.com.

Coppertone Kids Wacky Foam SPF 75+ is another option you can try in keeping your little ones’ skin safe from the sun. I heard about this foaming sunscreen for kids when my nephew came to visit for a cousins’ play date and baby pool party. I decided to pick up my own bottle the next time I was in a CVS and I think this might be one of my favorite finds for fast application in a format that kids find to be fun and engaging. It definitely seemed easier to apply than some of the others when my daughter decided to squirm around. I think the foaming design is clever and the sun block seemed to absorb readily into my daughter’s sensitive skin.

This product retails for around $8 to $12 and unfortunately, I picked it up on the more expensive end of that scale. However, I am very happy with the results and the product itself. This foaming sunscreen lotion is water resistant for up to 80 minutes and it is dermatologist tested, hypoallergenic, and PABA-free.

Active ingredients include Avobenzone (3%), Homosalate (15%), Octisalate (5%), Octocrylene (10%), and Oxybenzone (6%).

For more information on Coppertone products, check out www.coppertone.com.

VMV Hypoallergenics Armada Baby 50+ Full-Spectrum, Water-Resistant Sunscreen offers very high UVA/UVB protection that is designed especially for infants’ delicate skin. This product contains monolaurin as an antibacterial disinfecting agent and also contains green tea as an antioxidant. Product packaging advises to reapply every one to two hours or as needed, for example after being in the water, toweling off, or playing.

Made in the Philippines, this product comes in a handy jar that is 1.76 oz of gentle yet effective formula—100% fragrance-free, 100% PABA-Preservative-Phthalate-free, and clinically tested, and deemed acceptable for all skin types, including infants, babies, children, men, and women, even those sensitive to chemical sunscreens.

Active ingredients include Titanium Dioxide (15%) and Zinc Oxide (15%).

For more information, check out www.vmvhypoallergenics.com.

What is your favorite sunscreen product for your baby, toddler, or young child? Please share in our comments below.

Disclosure: LifeLoveBeauty received sample sunscreen products for the purpose of this review. The opinions in this post are my own honest experiences and not influenced in any way. Individual experiences may vary.

 

DIY Summer Pedi Designs

diy-summer-pedi-designsSummer is the perfect season to be carefree. People dress down to their tank tops and shorts and take some much needed time away from work and the stresses of life. Your toes should get a taste of carefree living too. So put away those closed toe heels and slip on some comfy flip flops. To get the most of out that summer feel, pair your casual clothes with a fresh and vibrant new pedicure to show off the next time you stroll through the mall.

When you speak of pedicures, the first thing that comes to mind is visiting the nearest nail spa. However, why pay for something that you can do easily on your own? Summer is about experimenting and learning new things, so why not spend an afternoon giving yourself one? Summer pedicures are supposed to be fun, a bit messy, and enjoyable. If the prospect of a DIY pedicure is not your cup of tea, why not invite your friends over for a killer pedi party? If you need help getting started, here are a few tips on how to pull off a successful summer pedi.

Summer’s Perfect Colors

Summer’s colors are loud, vibrant, and eye-catching. Forget about soft pastels and semi-transparent colors – spring is officially over. For summer, you want bold colors like neon hues and metallic ones like gold and silver. For beginners, orange is a great summer color that’s also relatively safe. It blends well with all sorts of skin tones, depending on the shade you choose. You can also try bold shades of blue or even hot pink, if you’re daring enough.

Easy To Wear Designs

Summer pedicure designs don’t have to be complicated – in fact, you don’t even need your own nail art kit to pull them off. Summer is all about getting people’s attention, so choose two colors that are different, but blend well with each other, like yellow and blue. Choose a solid yellow color and use it as a base. Then using a nail art pen or even a toothpick, use the blue color to create designs like swirls, circles, and even waves. If the design is messy, don’t worry. It adds to the effect of things. Remember to top it off with a top coat to seal the design.

If you want to take the design to the next level, you can add more colors instead of just two. You may also alternate base colors by using the color yellow on one toe, then blue on the next. You can also use a glittery top coat to give your toes some sparkle.

If purchasing a lot of nail polish shades isn’t your thing, or you’d like something easier, you can scour the Internet for printable nail art or nail art stickers. These are extremely easy to wear because you just have to stick it on your toe nails and paint over them with a clear top coat. Most people prefer these because they can simply change summer pedi designs when they get bored with their current one.

You may also use fimo canes or fimo sticks. These are small sticks with a design embedded in them. You simply cut thin slices from the roll and attach it to your toenails. Most people sell fimo canes by the bundle, so you can get different designs and fill your toenails with flowers, butterflies, suns, stars, and hearts if you want to. Just remember to invest in a quality top coating to keep the designs in place.

While most of the design ideas may not seem special, remember that summer is a time to be carefree. Your summer pedi doesn’t have to be complicated – with some nail polish, glitter, or nail art stickers, you can take your pedi design wherever your creativity takes you. No matter what design you choose, the important thing is that you’re comfortable with it and that you had fun creating it.

4 Romantic Weekend Destinations for Couples

top-10-romantic-weekend-getawaysIt can be tough to keep the love aflame in the oh-so busy world of today. After arriving home dead tired from a hard day’s work, you and your beloved would want nothing more than to sit down on the couch and cuddle while watching whatever’s on the TV before finally crashing to bed. Luckily, that’s why we have the weekend, the time where you can finally give each other the attention you both deserve and blow off some steam. And what better way to spend a romantic weekend than to go on a nice, relaxing trip with your honey? If you’re in need of an inspiration of some perfect couple’s weekend getaway ideas, you are in luck.

Here are some attractive and unique weekend destinations for couples that will completely win you over.

1) New Orleans, LA – There is a reason why New Orleans is called The Big Easy – the entire city lives at a stroller’s pace and that is just what the two of you need. This bohemian city oozes with a relaxing atmosphere that will soothe the soul and rest the mind, which is exactly why it’s so romantic and the perfect getaway for every free spirited couple. Take long, relaxing walks in this exotic paradise, take a cruise down the Mississippi river, enjoy a romantic carriage ride for two around town, have a candlelight dinner with a bottle of their finest wine, and to conclude the night, go to a spicy jazz concert that will bring your bodies closer and your passions aflame.

2) Aspen, CO – The mountains, the snow, the cabins, the fireplace crackling… Can you imagine a scene more romantic than this? Aspen is the perfect retreat from everyday life and will charge your batteries while dazzling you with its beauties. If you’re going in the summer, you can take mild hikes or bike rides and enjoy the nature alone or you can stroll around town and have a romantic lunch. For winter activities, you can finally go and take up on skiing for an exciting bonding experience.

3) Niagara Falls, NY – Stand together mere feet from one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the entire region and watch as the water droplets explode into a million colors when reflected from the sun – if that doesn’t shout romance, then I don’t know what does. Niagara Falls offer everything a couple would desire – the peace and serenity to devote to each other, the breathtaking nature scenery you can take in together, and tons of activities you can do for an exhilirating time together. Whether you just want to take moonlight strolls beside the falls or take on adrenaline-inducing rafting rides, Niagara is the place to go.

4) Monterey, CA – As you’re walking barefoot down the beach hand in hand, the Pacific Ocean sings its song and you feel like you’re never been closer. What’s best about Monterey is that it’s full of beautiful, deserted beaches you can enjoy all for yourselves when looking for that sweet solace. There is no price one can pay for that. When you’re not enjoying the peace and quiet of the sea, you can take horseback rides with your beloved or have a romantic picnic at Marina Dunes Natural Preserve while watching the beautiful sunset, which is romance in itself.

If you feel that these destinations are too far for you to go for just the three days (Friday, Saturday, Sunday), you can take a long weekend for this trip. Pack your bags, take each other’s hands and give yourselves the nice romantic treat you both deserve.

ChapStick MixStix™ Flavor Blending Lip Balm Product Review

chapstick-mixstixI may be a sucker for lip balm products, but I am even more of one for lemonade products that feature a twist of raspberry. I’ve never known a lip balm to offer such a delightful combination, until now.

I recently had some amazing luck in being offered a chance to try ChapStick’s new MixStix™ lip moisturizers, which come in three, make that six, tantalizing flavors. I couldn’t believe my luck when I learned that Lemon Berry Sorbet is one of those phenomenal flavors! Of course, I dug into that one first.

By themselves, the lemon flavor and the berry flavor are amazing. I could use them all day long, especially the lemon, but really both are incredible. I hope these products stick around for a while because I think I have to make sure I’ve always got one on hand. The light taste of Lemon Berry Sorbet ChapStick MixStix is perfect for summer but will bring you bliss any time of year. I love the way it reminds me of a raspberry lemonade cocktail or a sweet, endless summertime without a care in the world.

The next flavor I tried was Strawberry Banana Smoothie—another flavor combo that is right up my alley. I’ve owned a few strawberry banana lip balm products in my day, but this one is by far my favorite of all those. The gloss goes on so smoothly and tastes wonderful. The strawberry is reminiscent of most strawberry balms—just enough flavor without being overpowering, but the banana is incredible. It really reminds me of the banana flavored Runts candies. SO GOOD!!

Green Apple Caramel is the third flavor available in the Mixstix lineup, and it has a nice flavor reminiscent of the fall season. It reminds me of making caramel apples in college, or visiting an apple orchard with the fresh scent of granny smiths and McIntosh apples in the air. The apple side of the lip balm is divine and I’d enjoy using this side even all by itself. The caramel side reminds me just a bit of coffee, probably since many coffee flavors now incorporate a caramel element. I would say this combo is my third favorite out of the three choices, but I really do like all three.

IMAG2609Each stick has 11 different moisturizers, including Aloe. The lip balms themselves have a nice, hydrating formula that goes on very smoothly, leaving lips soft and kissable. What a brilliant idea to have lip balms that give the option to combine flavors in a single stick! Use these yummy ChapSticks individually for delicious flavors or combine them for a fun twist on a new flavor – Caramel Apple, Strawberry Banana, or Berry Lemonade, YUM!

These lip balms retail for between $2.99 and $3.99. You can find ChapStick MixSticks exclusively at Walgreens. For more information, be sure to check out the ChapStick® Website and ChapStick® Facebook page.

Disclosure: The ChapStick® product, information and gift have been provided by Pfizer Consumer Healthcare. The opinions in this post are my own honest experiences and not influenced in any way. Individual experiences and preferences may vary.

Munchkin Swaddle Angel Blanket Review

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With so many baby products available these days—swaddle blankets, sun canopies, nursing covers, and more—it can be overwhelming to try to pack up your baby’s things when you’re going somewhere. The idea of multitasking baby products is super appealing, especially to moms who are tired of bringing two or three separate bags everywhere they go. Thankfully, every once in a while you might find a product that stands up to multiple demands of everyday life with an infant. The Swaddle Angel Blanket two-pack by Munchkin is one such product.

The Munchkin Swaddle Angel Blankets are made of rayon that comes from ultra soft bamboo. Each blanket is a generous 40″ by 40″ and my favorite feature is that each of the corners has a little ribbon loop that allows you to hook or connect the blanket in a variety of positions for a number of different purposes. The fabric is soft and lightweight, almost gauzy, with a loose knit that lets some of the air come through. The center of the Swaddle Angel blankets features a thicker, double-layer sewn square to maintain privacy when nursing or to give a little extra padding for the baby, whether napping or during diaper changes or something else altogether.

I received a set of these cool, multitasking swaddle blankets for the purpose of review. I love the pretty patterns, which feature colors like bone white and slate gray or bone white and chocolate brown with gold. The designs, like a type of animal print or tribal pattern, are somewhat abstract but very fun and stylish. The box says these blankets are suitable for use as swaddles, sun protection, tummy time blankets, nursing covers, and even a sarong.

I have personally enjoyed using them for their sun protection offerings, looping the corners over the stroller handles and going on our merry way. I will caution you – I was not paying attention to what I was doing as I was in a bit of a rush at one point, and we did run over the blanket with the stroller, leaving a pretty hefty tear / runner in the double-sewn section. This was entirely my fault for being so careless, but it may be worth mentioning and warning you so you don’t do the same thing.

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Even though we ran over the blanket because I didn’t adjust it properly and it was a bit too long, I have used it as a sun protection shade a few times since the initial use. I really like the corner loops and how easy it is to create a barrier between your baby and the sun. I was easily able to cover up my daughter’s legs in the stroller with the blanket folded in half, and it did help to protect her from the sun one day when we forgot our sunblock at home.

I now try to keep one of these Swaddle Angel blankets with us wherever we go, especially since they have so many great purposes and offerings. I would highly recommend this product to new moms who like to make their days more efficient.

The two-pack of Munchkin Swaddle Angel Blankets retails for $49.99. For more information, please see: Girl Swaddle Angel Blankets or Boy Swaddle Angel Blankets.

Disclosure: LifeLoveBeauty received complimentary a sample set of swaddle blankets for the purpose of review. The opinions in this post are my own honest experiences and not influenced in any way. Individual experiences may vary.