Recipe: Homemade Brownie Pudding Pops, Full-Size or in Dixie Cups

zoku-pops-ss

Summertime rolls around and frozen treats become the perfect pastime. Make yummy frozen desserts to enjoy with your kids, family, friends, and loved ones, and this will also become a fond memory of the warmer seasons. Making homemade pudding pops doesn’t cost a lot and also doesn’t take much time. It also allows you to be creative with the ingredients, mixing in your favorite things for a yummy treat you can enjoy as a snack or as dessert any time.

I am a sucker for brownies, so I wanted to make a frozen treat that incorporated tiny pieces of brownie and of course, chocolate and fresh strawberries. Are you hungry yet? If so, keep reading – you will find this recipe fairly simple and fun!

Homemade Strawberry and Brownie Pudding Pops
In Dixie cups, these yummy treats are the perfect size for the kids or a modest dessert for adults of all ages. You can also use the Zoku™ Quick Pop™ Maker for a full-sized treat.

Mix up your favorite flavors and experiment with different combinations to see what you like best!

dixie-pudding-pops Ingredients:

Strawberry layer
3/4 cup fresh-cut strawberries
2 tsp Honey
1/8 tsp Vanilla extract
3/4 tsp water

Pudding base
1 8-oz package Chocolate or Vanilla Instant Pudding (plus required ingredients on pudding packet)
1/2 cup (4 oz.) whole or 2% milk
1 and 1/2 Tbsp sugar
3/4 tsp Vanilla extract

Other:
One or two brownies, broken into pieces
Sliced strawberries
Dixie cups
Mini popsicle sticks
Instructions:

  1. Create the strawberry sauce by combining strawberries and water in a food processor.
  2. Move to measuring cup and add in honey and vanilla.
  3. Set aside.
  4. Mix together all the ingredients for the pudding base.
  5. Starting with the pudding base, layer ingredients as desired into little Dixie cups. Add in slices of strawberries or bits/chunks of brownie as you go. When the cup is about 3/4 full, add in a popsicle stick if desired.
  6. Put brownie crumbles atop any remaining pudding or fruit layers around the stick.
  7. Freeze until solid, at least 4 hours but possibly longer.
  8. Enjoy!

pops_2281I adapted my recipe from a great book of popsicle recipes entitled Zoku Quick Pops, for use with the Zoku™ Quick Pop™ Maker. We have the pop maker and I actually did use it to make these very same pops. We noticed the ingredients ended up being a bit thick for the pop maker, but it was also our first attempt, so I’m looking forward to giving it a shot with a different recipe, perhaps a more juice-based pop recipe.

We had some leftover pudding, strawberries, brownies, and strawberry sauce, along with some bananas, so we made the rest of the batch into the Dixie cups version of pudding pops. It worked out great and I look forward to doing this together with my little girl when she is old enough to enjoy it.

Q-tips® Precision Tips™ Product Review

qtips-precision-tipsI guess you could call me a bit of a girlie girl. I really enjoy makeup and beauty products and especially eye makeup. That being said, I was super excited to learn about a new product offering from Q-tips®—their Precision Tips™ products combine all the things you love about normal Q-tips with bonus functionality through a tapered point on each end, designed especially for makeup touchups and for cleaning tight spaces. Finally, a product that understands how makeup works and how tricky it can be to touch up or remove altogether!

Completely by surprise, I received a generous shipment of these new and exciting Q-tips Precision Tips for the purpose of my review. I received boxes of 170 as well as several adorable travel sized packs of 30 in blue plastic cases. I plan to stick one in my overnight toiletries bag, one in my swim bag, and keep a couple as spares. I also received a lovely acrylic display jar for the Q-tips with my initials imprinted on the front – a very thoughtful item that will have its home on the counter near my makeup case.

To be honest, I’ve been using generic store brand pointed cotton tips to handle my makeup touchups to date. They are pretty pointy and the cotton is anything but cottony. I’ve had a time or two where they seemed to almost scratch the delicate skin under my eyes, making me think twice about trying to touch up anything else.

These new Precision Tips Q-tips seem much softer to me, with a looser weave of cotton that isn’t so rough on the skin. I especially like them for under-eye makeup smudges, especially eyeliner that’s shifted or bits of mascara that have smeared off. Another ideal application for these precision cotton tips is to dip them into a tiny bit of nail polish remover for manicure and pedicure touchups. And, if you have the tiniest amount of concealer to apply, consider using one of these bad boys to get just the right dot of coverage in exactly the right spot.

qtips2In the event that you fall asleep with your makeup still on, these handy pointed cotton-tips can easily remove dark streaks from under your eyes. Simply moisten the Q-tip with a little water and soap or some eye makeup remover gel. I know, I know. It sounds like I’m speaking from experience… well, because I am. I’m not ashamed to admit I’ve fallen asleep with my makeup on—I think it happens to the best of us—and you can imagine how tough it is to wash away caked-on mascara and eyeliner after six or seven hours of sleep. Ugh! Not fun at all. Thankfully, Q-tips Precision Tips are especially helpful for removing and touching up smudged eyeliner or smeared mascara, as well as managing other makeup touchups with ease.

Product documentation also suggests using Precision Tips for application and blending of makeup, such as on lips, eyes, nails, and brows. Of course, as you might already suspect, they also make exceptional cleaning tools around the house. I’ve recently used them to clean where my electric toothbrush comes apart, and it was the perfect fit for those tiny spaces. You can also use Q-tips Precision Tips to clean jewelry, electronics, appliances, window sills, molding, and more. Another fun and convenient use of these new tapered Q-tips is to use them for different arts and crafts projects, especially related to painting and gluing.

With so many possible uses, I highly recommend keeping at least one box of these Q-tips in your home. You may find even more uses for them beyond those that I’ve mentioned. If interested, you can find these handy helpers at your favorite mass market retail store or online at Amazon and other stores. For more information, be sure to check out Q-tips® Precision Tips™ on the Web.

Puj Snug Ultra Soft Spout Cover Review

Puj Spout CoverThe older my daughter gets, the more she loves bath time and playing in the water. Now that she’s been crawling and pulling herself up to stand, we’ve taken extra measures to ensure her safety and to protect her from potential mishaps. Bath time is no different – we have a soft foam spout cover for our bathtub to protect our baby from injury. We received a sample of the Puj Snug Ultra Soft Spout Cover free of charge for the purpose of review.

The Puj Snug Ultra Soft Spout Cover is made of a soft, durable, high quality EVA foam material that is protective and forgiving. The one we received is a pretty green color and all Puj made of 100% reclaimed material, making this product a nice choice in favor of green living. This spout cover is shaped like an adorable elephant whose trunk hangs down over the spout to protect baby’s delicate head and skin from bumps and scrapes.

The Puj spout cover is very easy to install onto the bathtub’s spigot and it has a hole at the top to allow you to adjust the shower and water settings. The foam is very easy to clean, yet it seems to stay relatively dry and clean on its own. A good wipe and rinse every so often keeps it clean and hygienic.

I did not notice any unusual odors or anything that could be considered a “con.” This spout cover took only seconds to fit over the spout, and I highly recommend it.

You can find this product in a pretty green (Kiwi) or blue color (Aqua), and also in white. The Puj Snug Ultra Soft Spout Cover retails for around $9.99 to $15 at Puj.com, Amazon.com, Diapers.com, BabyEarth, AlbeeBaby.com, and Newegg.com, to name a few. For additional information on this and other Puj products, check out www.puj.com.

Why a Pacifier Clip Is Absolutely Necessary for Your Baby

Pacifier Clip ReviewI don’t know why I didn’t register for a pacifier clip when I picked out all those other things for our baby daughter on the way. I guess it probably blended in with the 85 different styles of pacifiers at the baby stores, to the point where I didn’t even realize I was missing it. By the time my daughter hit the seven month mark, I’d lost enough paci’s to see the errors of my ways. I swiftly added a pacifier clip to my online shopping cart and life has certainly been a little easier ever since.

I think sometimes a pacifier clip can be one of those things you don’t realize you are missing until you have one. Similar to, how did we ever life without cell phones? Now that we have them, we seem to feel naked if we leave the house without ours or if we misplace it. The pacifier clip I bought offers so much convenience to my life now. I almost can’t understand how I survived without it.

I have personally lost pacifiers at the supermarket and countless other places, sometimes having to buy them on the spot or being reduced to my daughter’s “least favorite” paci’s while waiting for the new ones to come in the mail.

I’ve also lost them in the car while driving, and either had to pull over or listen to a screaming baby all the way to where I was going. Or if my husband was driving, I’ve climbed into the back seat to retrieve a tossed paci.

Pacifier clips come in a wide variety of colors and patterns, making it fun to choose a special one for your little one. You can pick a design you like (I chose pink cupcakes ), or simply get a colorful one you think the baby will enjoy.

Now that my daughter is into the fun throwing and tossing stages, she often throws things out of her car seat or stroller without me even knowing. Can’t tell you how many times this has happened at a drugstore, supermarket, or other location. And, to be honest, some places are just too gross to pick up the paci and reuse it, even if you do sterilize it. At least as far as I’m concerned…

So there you have it, from my own personal experiences, the reasons why I believe a pacifier clip is truly a necessary baby accessory. If you still aren’t convinced, you can get a pacifier clip for $5 to $7 on Amazon with free shipping and that easily saves you the cost of replacing just two pacifiers. And, my friends, if you think your baby isn’t going to lose just two pacifiers, please invite me to your dream world, because I could sure use a vacation like that. J

Tips to Enhance Your Jogging Stroller Workout

jogging-stroller

Running can be challenging enough on its own, but add in a 50-pound jogging stroller and an unpredictable infant and you could be in for quite an experience! Jogging strollers can be a true boon in helping you get back to pre-pregnancy size and weight, but don’t dive in head first. You should know a few things about working out with a baby jogger, and you’ll find it definitely gets easier over time.

Before my daughter was even born, I bought myself a BOB Revolution SE since I love to run, I’m a former high school and college cross country athlete, and I’ve been itching to do a couple of 5k races each year. Plus, I wanted to hasten my journey to getting back in shape after baby. I picked out the BOB jogging stroller for its awesome reviews and the rugged construction. I also liked that I could get it in orange, my husband’s favorite color and one of mine, and I loved that it seemed like a good fit for our needs. The basket underneath is plenty big enough for my phone, keys, water bottle, and numerous things for the baby. I also feel the hood provides ample shade and protection from the elements, a little drizzle here and some serious sun there.

bob-revolution-seStill, when I first took the jogger out a couple of months after having my daughter, I think I surprised myself with how challenging it was on the first use. My upper body really felt it, plus, it was weird running without my arms. I’ve noticed a few things in the nine months or so since then, which seem to help my jogging stroller runs along a little better. Not only that, but the better I do with the jogger, the better my times and runs are without it. I’ve even taken my dog along for 3-mile jaunts with the jogging stroller around my neighborhood. It takes more coordination than I usually feel comes naturally, but she enjoys it and the baby does, too, so it’s worth it to me. Of course, I have a very well-behaved dog. I wouldn’t recommend running with a jogging stroller and just any dog. You’ve got to remember all the squirrels and other dogs out there, causing enough distraction to derail your whole operation!

So, without further ado, here are my favorite tips for running with the jogging stroller:

· Plan your runs around your baby’s schedule. Ensure she’s fed and changed and comfortable. You’ll get more running time before she gets fussy in most cases.

· If your baby will sleep in the jogger, you can also time your runs a little before naptime so she gets to enjoy the fresh air, but also doesn’t interrupt your run when she’s ready for bed.

· Keep some of your baby’s favorite snacks and a few toys in the basket below in case you need a distraction.

  • Take advantage of a pacifier clip to ensure your little one doesn’t lose the paci (nuk, binky, pacifier, etc.). These things are well worth their weight in gold!

· If your baby starts to get really fussy and you aren’t on a loop that allows you to turn back early, try singing one of his or her favorite songs. It is challenging to run and sing, especially on mile 3.5 of a 4-mile run, but it’s worked for me on several occasions.

· Even though you can’t use your arms as you would without a jogging stroller, you can still alternate arms as you jog around your neighborhood or favorite trail. Hold the stroller’s handle with one arm and pump the other a few times, then switch. I noticed my friend and personal trainer Jessica Rapp of Unique Physique for Life doing this when we went running together as she gave me a break from the stroller. I tried it a few times later and noticed an immediate and unmistakable improvement in my overall time and my mile pace.

As always, ensure your infant is properly dressed for the weather and that you’ve applied sunscreen to keep his or her skin safe. Avoid crossing busy intersections or running along highways and other busy roads. You can never be too careful, especially with the rate of people texting while driving despite common sense.

Remember to always put your child’s safety first, above and beyond all else. As your little one grows, he or she may enjoy your runs more and more, and you may even find that your son or daughter wants to run with you after outgrowing the stroller!

 

A Look at the Acase Black Diamond III Bluetooth Speaker by Yantouch

Black Diamond III Bluetooth Speaker Product Review

Sometimes you just don’t know what to get someone for Christmas, birthday, or any other special occasion. Some people are just too difficult to shop for, no matter what the occasion. Thankfully, every once in a while, a special gift item comes out on the market, making it so much easier to check those people off your shopping list. I found Acase’s Black Diamond III Bluetooth Speaker by Yantouch to be the perfect item to fit the bill.

I originally purchased one of these for my brother’s Christmas present when I first learned of these cool music gadgets that interact with your smartphone. More recently, I received one of my own from the company to test and check out for the purpose of this review. The Bluetooth speaker actually lights up with ambient lighting or pulses to the beat of the music—totally too cool to let it pass you by. The Black Diamond III comes with a small remote controller that fits sleekly into a tiny opening in the back of the speaker. Use this remote to change the music, volume, and light settings.

The BlackDiamond 3 (BD3) by Yantouch, introduced by Acase, sparkles and shines just like its namesake, and creates the ideal mood for any setting and any mood you choose. Play some pulsating music like Schism by TOOL and enjoy the “music you can see” as the speaker syncs with the tempo, or play something more melodic and easy going like David Gray’s Sail Away for a relaxing light show of the flowing style of music.

The speaker is shaped like a diamond; its base is black and the upper half is angled and faceted with bright LED lighting inside. The construction is sturdy yet sleek, and this item looks and feels of great quality. The bottom of the speaker features two clear left/right 3Wx2 stereo speakers as well as a resonant bass tube. Visually, the speaker is capable of displaying up to 16,000,000 colors according to product documentation (Are our eyes even capable of seeing this many shades?? Wow!).

BD3 also features a buiGifts for dads and grads, ambient lighting bluetooth speakerlt-in equalizer for improving audio response and the ability to choose multi-color special effects, like Rainbow, Aurora, or Purple. We tested our Android smartphones and found the speaker very convenient to pair with our devices. (The Bluetooth is auto-pairing and auto-linking and works without the need for a password.) YouTube, Pandora, and even cell phone conversations transmit easily and quickly over the Bluetooth speaker. (So be sure you aren’t paired if you hope to have a private conversation!) As a totally separate perk, it’s a very cool feature to try if you want to do a family conference call when many members are in the same location as the speaker.

Compatible with all Bluetooth devices, the BD3 speaker worked wonderfully with my HTC Sensation as well as my husband’s Samsung Galaxy S3. This device is outfitted with an AC adapter and a USB power cord and audio cable (combined), and though I’ve not tried it, I’ve heard that you can daisy chain the speaker so that it has even more power! Maybe not a widely known feature, but definitely worth noting!

As for the vibrant lighting show, our baby daughter loves it. She enjoys watching the colors switch through blends of millions of hues in the flowing mode as well as from one color to the next or in line with the tempo of the songs. We’ve begun using the Black Diamond III Bluetooth Speaker by Yantouch to help teach her the colors as well. By turning off the lights, the LED colors become even more vibrant and attractive, making it fun for the whole family. This item would be a great addition to any home for ambient lighting and music mood setting, but also as an attractive accent in a place of business such as a fitness studio.

The Acase Yantouch Black Diamond III Bluetooth Speaker would be the perfect gift for dads and grads this season, especially for those who never want anything special and the ones who already seem to have everything. The speaker’s MSRP is $120. You can get the speaker at http://www.apluscase.com.tw or on Amazon.com for just $99 – I paid $120 for the one I got for my brother around Christmas, so don’t miss this great deal !

Incrediwear Diabetic Socks, Incredisocks PRO-3 sport socks, and Incredi-Femme Socks Review

Incrediwear Socks ReviewWhether for warmth and comfort or function, socks come in many shapes, sizes, colors, and styles. You can find great socks for working out and truly comfortable socks for lounging around. Some socks have a medical purpose or benefit while others are purely for fashion or to keep your feet warm inside your shoes. Incrediwear offers a wide variety of socks ranging from cozy and supportive diabetic socks to top performance athletic socks and everything in between.

I received three pairs of Incredi-socks to check out for the purpose of this review – athletic socks, diabetic socks, and fashion boot socks. Each pair of socks had its own benefits. I especially love the Incredisocks PRO-3 thin sport socks, as I am a runner and also spend some time working out doing strength training and other exercises. The Incrediwear athletic socks felt great on my feet from the moment I put them on. I noticed they immediately fit to my foot as if I had no socks on at all, a great feature that makes you feel lighter on your toes and ready to work out! I also noticed they did a great job with moisture-wicking properties, keeping my feet dry during my workouts. I am going to have to invest in some new athletic socks after trying these – it will be hard to go back to old cotton socks! (Even if they are Adidas.)

The Incredisocks PRO-3 thin athletic socks work hard to increase circulation, regulate body temperature, and wick away moisture. They feature ANOIN technology, which essentially means that negatively charged atoms absorbed by the body help to increase circulation and “molecular vibration.” Basically, these socks are made of a unique blend of bamboo carbonized charcoal, allowing them to set free some therapeutic anions while increasing the blood flow and speed up to 17%, according to studies.

In my humble opinion, these socks are a fabulous addition to any workout wardrobe! Product literature also reveals that Incredisocks can also reduce swelling, speed up recovery time, decrease fatigue, and improve range of motion, among other benefits.

Diabetic socks offer special support and protection for diabetes patients’ feet, but they also bring a nice list of other benefits. The Incredisocks Diabetic Crew sock is helpful in regulating temperature and encouraging greater blood flow to the desired area. These diabetic socks are superb at compression and they have a nice texture that is comfortable to the skin.

These socks are nice and long, offering great compression for the feet through the ankles and partially up the leg. The marbled appearance of the socks themselves is pleasant. The socks have just the right amount of give to stretch and conform to the foot, ankle, and leg.

I received one pair of the diabetic socks in a grayish green hue with a tan stripe and one pair of Incredisocks PRO-3 thin sport socks, as well as one pair of Incredi-Femme socks in knee-high length. These charcoal colored socks stretch comfortably to fit the entire leg up to the knee. They are warm and the fabric is ultra soft and comfortable. These are my new go-to boot socks! I also love them for a comfortable sock under jeans or work slacks, which means they can be worn just about any time.

The Incredi-Femme women’s dress socks are also designed so that your feet don’t sweat, smell, swell, or get tired. The close fit of the socks recalls feelings of being cuddled up nice and snug, but the cut and style keep ‘sexy’ in the picture. The weave of the sock is also quite lovely, not to mention tightly knit so that the socks feel like one cohesive piece of fabric. They look a tad bare just around the ankle, but that might just be my pale winter whiteness showing through. These socks are feminine, fashionable, and admittedly, my first pair of socks this tall. I love them! It just goes to show that you don’t know what you don’t know – I might have gone my whole life never enjoying the benefits of knee socks were it not for Incredi-Femme socks. I might just have to increase my collection.

The Incredi-Femme socks retail for between $13.50 and $20, while diabetic socks come in at $24.95 and below-ankle style athletic socks at $13.50. You can learn more about Incredisocks and Incrediwear products at www.incrediwear.com.

Clear 7-Day Scalp & Hair Challenge & Product Review

As a new mom, I have a newfound appreciation for shower time. Even more than before, I enjoy products with rich lather, intoxicatingly wonderful fragrances, and no-nonsense results. I don’t have time to mess with products that don’t offer at least one, if not all three, of these desirable characteristics.

I recently received Clear Scalp & Hair Beauty Therapy Shampoo and Conditioner products (from Unilever) as well as a beautiful brush to set me up for Clear’s 7-Day Scalp & Hair Challenge. The challenge aimed to help women achieve stronger, more beautiful hair in 7 days, guaranteed (due to less breakage when combing vs. non-conditioning shampoo). The challenge also informed us that the scalp provides 99% of hair’s natural strength and beauty. The products in this challenge, Clear Scalp & Hair Beauty Therapy™ shampoo and conditioner, contain a rich blend of vitamins and nutrients, 10 to be precise, known as Nutrium10.

 

On first use, I really enjoyed the fragrance of the Clear Scalp & Hair Beauty Therapy shampoo and conditioner products. The scent reminds me of old school herbal essences in the yellow bottle. I believe I may have said this after a previous experience with the Clear products, but it’s true! I really enjoy using them for that reason. Each day I enjoy the fragrance as well as the other benefits these products provide.

The shampoo produces a rich lather that leaves my hair and scalp feeling super clean. The suds work their magic and then wash effortlessly out of my hair. Same with the conditioner, which smoothes onto my hair so nicely and rinses out cleanly. It’s rare to find a product that leaves your hair just feeling “wet” when you step out of the shower, but this duo does it. No greasy residue, no weighted-down feeling.

As far as whether these made my hair stronger and more beautiful, it’s hard to say. I have to admit my hair seems a bit dry lately, so I think the winter has really wreaked some havoc on my locks. No way to blame that on products or expect products to do a miraculous turnaround in just a week of use. I don’t think I’ve ever had a real problem with breakage, though, which is a great thing. I’ve seen a conditioning mask by Clear and I’m curious if something like that might be the answer to the dryness my hair’s suffering right now. Will keep you posted if I find a suitable fix!

All in all, I am very pleased with my experience in using Clear Scalp & Hair Beauty Therapy™ shampoo and conditioner. I would recommend this team of products for anyone who wants a shampoo and conditioner that smells great, lathers well, and rinses away clean, leaving hair very soft and manageable. You can find Clear products starting around $4.79 and up at your favorite mass market retail stores, pharmacies, and on Amazon.com. For more information, check out http://www.clearhaircare.com and https://www.facebook.com/clearhaircare.

Disclosure: CLEAR Scalp & Hair Beauty Therapy provided product free of charge for this post. Opinions expressed are entirely my own.

 

Bamboobies Chic Nursing Shawl Review

Bamboobies Nursing CoverI tend to think of myself as more of a modest new mom, keeping breastfeeding as more of a private time between me and my baby. I appreciate the ability to see to her needs when and where she needs me, but I don’t really like to flaunt it or go crazy with everything in plain sight in restaurants or in public. It’s just not my style. I much prefer the comforts of home or a semi-private location like my car, if I get desperate. But that’s just me. To each her own!

With this desire of privacy in mind, I find it beneficial to keep a nursing cover on hand whenever possible in case a spontaneous feeding happened. I recently learned of the Bamboobies brand Chic Nursing Shawl, available in black or purple, which is a fashion statement as much as it is a great modesty accessory for breastfeeding moms. I received my own black Chic Nursing Shawl to try out free of charge for the purpose of this review.

First, the fabric is so soft and comfortable, made from Organic Eco-Soy material. I really enjoy how it hangs and moves easily to suit your needs and baby’s position. I received a size M-L, so it is a bit big for me to wear as a fashion statement. The pictures I’ve seen of other people wearing it that way do look quite nice, as the style resembles more of a shawl than the customary apron style.

I like to tuck the nursing cover inside the diaper bag or in my tote bag when we go anywhere that I might need to nurse the baby on the fly. It is super convenient, well-made, and it looks nice and discrete when in use.

The creator of the Chic Nursing Shawl is Kerry Gilmartin, a mother of three who dreamed up this stylish mommy accessory that serves a great purpose. The fabrics her company, Bamboobies, uses are sustainable and top quality, and she employs local seamstresses in Colorado to assist with production. These purple and black nursing shawls retail for $34.99 and you can find the Bamboobies Chic Nursing Shawl in more than 300 stores across the globe and online. For more information, check out www.buybamboobies.com.

ChapStick Cupcake Creations Product Review – Velvet Cupcake and Cake Batter Lip Balm

Chapstick Cupcake CreationsAnyone who knows me or reads my articles knows how obsessed I am with lip balms, lip glosses, and ChapStick style products for lips. I love the flavors and how soft and kissable your lips remain after product use. I am always on the lookout for new flavors, with some of my all-time favorites being raspberry, coconut, strawberry kiwi, and chocolate varieties. In case you haven’t heard—or even if you have; it’s well worth repeating—ChapStick brings two delectable new flavors to its offerings: Velvet Cupcake and Cake Batter, in its Cupcake Creations product line.

I received two sample ChapSticks in each flavor, as well as a gourmet cupcake mix and cute party supplies to tie it all together. (If only my daughter were a year older – I am sure she would love to have a little birthday party for one of her stuffed animals!) [FTC disclaimer – While I am thrilled to be able to partner with ChapStick to get my hands on these yummy lip goodies right away, my review is what it is, my honest feelings about the product. Don’t think I’m swayed by the special delivery! ]

That being said, I am so excited about these new flavors! I have always loved baked goods, and who doesn’t love cupcakes?! What I think I love most is that ChapStick acknowledges that not all people are vanilla cake fans or chocolate cake fans (or Red Velvet, etc.), but these yummy lip balms cater to both the vanilla and the chocolate camps. The Velvet Cupcake is by far my favorite, purely because I love chocolate and anything similar to it. I think the flavor and fragrance really do capture the essence of a red velvet cake or cupcake, so if you love these, don’t miss out on this new ChapStick!

The Cake Batter flavor is also delicious, and sure to be a big hit for vanilla fans and anyone who enjoys a little cake batter flavoring. (Who can wait all that time for the cake to bake, anyway!?) Those who simply enjoy all things vanilla will also appreciate this lip balm and its delightful and realistic scent and flavor. It reminds me of a Tahitian Vanilla candle I have just about burned to the bottom due to its lovely, aromatic fragrance.

Like all ChapStick products, these sweet flavors moisten our lips and keep them feeling soft and smooth. After using either flavor, my lips feel hydrated and glossy—such a great feeling, especially this time of year. I like to reapply whenever I think of it, so I always keep one or the other in my pocket and my purse. These sweet lip treats are too good to keep all to yourself, and so I actually shared my second set with my mom. These lip balms come in packaging that features a little gift tag design on the back, making them easily giftable or a great accent to a wrapped package.

Velvet Cupcake and Cake Batter are both limited edition flavors, so be sure to get yours before they run their course. The Cupcake Creations collection launched February 1, 2013 and should be available until approximately March 31, 2013. This collection sells exclusively at CVS, Wal-Mart, and Walgreens stores across the country.

 

For more information, please check out:

ChapStick® Website http://www.chapstick.com

ChapStick® Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/ChapStick

 

“The ChapStick® product, information and gift have been provided by Pfizer Consumer Healthcare.”

Aquaphor Products for Adults and Babies to Ward off Winter Skin

Aquaphor Advanced TherapyWhen the weather turns cold, I find myself battling dry skin with the best of them. My poor hands crack and become so sore, probably a result of washing the dishes every day and not applying enough moisturizer. This winter greeted me with especially bad dry skin, leaving my hands dull and even a bit whiter than usual, especially in the creases between fingers. Thankfully, with enough trial and error I have found a few products that really work for me and my dry winter skin!

My former colleague and friend first introduced me to Eucerin Calming Crème Daily Moisturizer, which I’ve loved ever since. This is your basic skin cream that really does seem to hydrate the skin for longer than average. When our daughter was born last year, our friends introduced us to Aquaphor Healing Ointment Advanced Therapy for babies, also from Eucerin. We’ve really enjoyed this product as it seems to have an almost-instant effect on tiny scratches and other irritations. A little bit really goes a long way, and the product smoothes on effortlessly, moisturizing and bringing the skin relief.

Aquaphor Healing Ointment can treat diaper rash, minor cuts, scrapes, burns, chapped or cracked skin and lips, chafed skin, and also protects from the winter’s harsh drying conditions. This baby healing ointment contains Petrolatum, mineral oil, ceresin, lanolin alcohol, panthenol, glycerin, and bisabolol. A 3 oz. container will last you nearly an eternity unless you douse your entire baby in this special restoring cream.

Lip Repair + ProtectI received a generous shipment of two of these baby healing ointments from Aquaphor, along with baby Gentle Wash & Shampoo, and of course, two grown-up Aquaphor products for me to enjoy. I am thrilled to share that Aquaphor Healing Ointment Advanced Therapy (for adults) also offers great benefits to adult skin. As I mentioned, my hands become extremely dry this time of year. I have recently begun using the healing ointment to treat the dry patches and even a few cracked skin spots. The ointment instantly coats my skin and brings me relief from the dry winter conditions.

I find that I have a bit of a personal aversion to the texture of petrolatum-based products, so I actually follow up my application of the healing ointment with the previously mentioned Eucerin Calming Crème. It adds a nice dose of moisture to my entire hands while the rich and emollient Aquaphor Healing Ointment cares for my dry spots and cracked skin. In my experience with winter skin, I find that the rich, emollient products containing petrolatum, urea, and similar ingredients tend to have the biggest impact on healing and hydrating the skin. I know not everyone minds the waxy texture, so the product in and of itself is perfect! I honestly think I just like for my hands to soak up as much lotion as possible, so applying both really works well for me.

I can’t recommend this healing ointment enough, and if you need an everyday lotion, I highly recommend the Calming Crème as well. I bought mine at CVS, but you can get a bottle of these products at your favorite pharmacy, superstore, or online at Amazon and similar retailers.

I also received a tube of Aquaphor Lip Repair + Protect and for me it is love at first application. This lip treatment goes on creamy and smooth, quickly protecting and repairing any cracks, chapped areas, and dry spots on your lips. I love how the feeling lasts, too. It isn’t like standard lip balm products where you have to reapply every five minutes to feel it is working. This lip treatment and repair cream offers immediate relief and I can only imagine it would be my go-to product for sunburned lips or windburn as well. This lip repair cream is designed for severely dry lips and it’s easy to see why, from your very first time using it.

While I don’t think there’s a real taste, it has a pleasant, neutral presence on the lips. Aquaphor Lip Repair + Protect also contains broad spectrum SPF 30, to protect you whether you are at the beach or on the ski slopes. Make sure to apply it 15 minutes before sun exposure for best results, and also reapply every two hours or after swimming or perspiring. This lip treatment is fragrance free and designed for sensitive skin. I look forward to a winter (and spring, and summer, and fall…) of more comfortable, kissable lips, thanks to this rich and hydrating repair cream from Aquaphor.

If you liked these products, stay tuned for another review featuring Aquaphor’s baby shampoo!

 

Healthy Flavored Waters: Reviews of ACTIVIATE AND HINT brands

Activate Vitamin WaterWater is an essential part of every health and beauty routine. I always try to keep a full water bottle with me at all times to stay hydrated. Not only is water great for general health, but it can have incredible results for your skin.

Drinking flavorless water day in and day out can become dull. Juices and even some flavored waters often contain a lot of calories, sugar, and other ingredients that can counter the benefits of water. ACTIVATE and Hint waters are two excellent ways to drink water and still experience a wealth of health benefits.

The great thing about these drinks is the opportunity to branch out from your tap or filtered water without going in a potentially unhealthy direction. If you are trying to meet the suggested 8 glasses of water a day, it’s easy to get bored or unmotivated to drink the same bland beverage each day when there are so many potential selections available to you. These brands offer a variety in your beverage choices while counting towards that daily water count.

I received several bottles of ACTIVATE energy water to sample and review. These water drinks are sugar and calorie free in addition to containing a number of vitamins and nutrients. Vitamins can degrade/deteriorate sitting in water, so ACTIVATE keeps them stored in the cap instead of the water.

ACTIVATE vitamin water

It may sound silly, but it’s fun to ‘activate’ the vitamins by twisting the cap and releasing them into the water. After you twist the vitamin cap open, shake the bottle and mix the vitamins into the water.  ACTIVATE also doubles as an easy cocktail mixer that aids in reducing calories in your drinks. If you’re interested in cutting calories when it comes to alcohol, check out my article about low-cal cocktails!

HINT water also features all natural essence water with no calories, sugars, artificial flavors or preservatives. This beverage is closer to tasting like water than ACTIVATE. I’ve tried to create my own fruit or vegetable infused beverages this past summer and learned it’s a bit harder than it looks. This brand has mastered the art of blending subtle tastes of fruit with water into delicious beverages.

HINT is available in ten unique flavors: Watermelon, Blackberry, Pomegranate-Tangerine, Strawberry-Kiwi, Raspberry-Lime, Mango-Grapefruit, Lime, Pear, Honeydew-Hibiscus and Cucumber. I’ve received several of these flavors and am quite fond of the Raspberry-Lime.

HINT waters

HINT even offers the first unsweetened sparkling essence water in stores! You can find HINT Fizz in Blackberry, Watermelon, Strawberry-Kiwi, and Peach. I’m a huge fan of seltzers and mineral waters so the next time I see these in a store I’m gonna snatch up a few to try out for myself! Sparkling water is a much better option than most other fizzy drinks like soda, so when I’m craving a carbonated drink, I’d much rather go for something healthy.

What are some creative ways you’ve found to add more water into your diet?