Tips to Save Money on Diapers and Related Baby Products

messybabyIt’s no secret that diapers can be costly (and so short-lived) when you really think about it. Honestly, it only seems like a matter of a week or two until you’ve completely gone through a case of diapers! So diapers are expensive, and you use them a lot, and you wish you had more of them on hand at less of a cost. This is a pretty common problem for a lot of moms and dads. Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to help save on the cost of diapers and other related baby products. Here are some tips to spending less money on diapers.

Try these tips to help save money on diapers:

•    Get a copy of the Sunday paper and clip coupons. You may feel like a blast from the past in the 1990’s but the truth is, a lot of people can and do save money to this day with coupons clipped from newspapers.

•    Use apps on your smartphone to find coupons or compare prices across stores. You never know what the next Android app or iPhone app will do next!

•    Sign up for Amazon Mom. You can save on diapers, wipes, and the like when you sign on for a subscription. You can also get your items shipped in two days if they are Amazon Prime eligible.

•    Look for coupons inside your diaper and wipes packaging. Sometimes you will find a little coupon packet, a single coupon, or even a redemption code or rewards points to enter online.

•    Shop at Diapers.com. A current promotion for new customers (at the time of this writing) offers you $10 off a case of diapers of your choice, and another promo code allows you to save 10% on other purchases. It’s a fantastic deal that makes the diapers super cheap compared to anywhere else you might shop. Another great benefit – you will receive your order in the next day or two with free speedy shipping!

•    Look for coupon codes and online discounts. Search sites like CouponSnapshot.com and RetailMeNot.com to find stores offering discount codes you can use to save some money the next time you buy diapers online.

These are just a few ways you can save some money on diapers, whether you shop online or in person. If you have other suggestions for getting great deals on diapers, please share your tips and ideas in our comments below!

 

10 Steps to Healthy Digestion

10 Steps to Healthy DigestionThere’s more to good health than a great diet. Check out these 10 steps to healthy digestion to ensure you take the proper actions to help your body digest all the food and beverages you consume on a daily basis.

Sit down at the table to eat. A great many of us nowadays have got into the habit of eating our meals seated in front of the television. This means that we are not giving our full attention to what we are actually eating. As a result we tend to eat faster and food is not properly digested. Make an effort to eat at the table as many times a week as your schedule allows. If you can get all the family around at the same time, even better. It’s a great way to catch up on all that’s been happening during the course of the week and a chance for any grievances to be aired. Relax, enjoy the company, and take time to eat properly. Once the meal is over, don’t rush off to do other things straight away. Allow yourself at least another five minutes so that the digestive process can begin.

Chew thoroughly and relish your food. Chew each mouthful about 20 times and savor every mouthful. Be aware of what you are eating and the different textures in your mouth. You’ll find you automatically eat slower when you are not trying to do other things at the same time. Chewing lets your stomach know that food is on its way. You need to give your stomach time to produce the digestive enzymes required to break down food. Not doing so will result in a bout of acid digestion. The herb centaurium contains bitter glycosides that stimulate the production of digestive juices in the stomach. Whether there is too much or too little stomach acid being produced, a tincture made from the herb will help even it out. This is excellent for anyone prone to acid reflux, heartburn, or hiatus hernia.

Sit up straight when you are eating to allow your stomach and intestines to do their job and make digestion easier. The lungs are one of the main excretory organs in the body. Deep breathing helps the diaphragm to relax, again easing digestion.

Don’t overeat. Stop eating before you feel full. Try not to eat heavy meals late at night. Your digestive system will struggle to cope if you eat and then expect it to slow down in an attempt to go to sleep.

Drink 1.5 to 2 liters of still water every day to hydrate the body to keep stools soft and to limit the amount of fluid that is absorbed from the colon. Don’t drink at mealtimes, though. It is best to drink more than twenty minutes before or after eating so as not to dilute the digestive juices.

Be kind to your liver, gall bladder, and pancreas, limit greasy and fatty foods, and be careful about your alcohol intake. If fats are digested effectively, you should have good bowel movements and be less likely to get a bloated stomach. Use a tincture of milk thistle, dandelion, and artichoke to help support and cleanse the liver to allow it to produce and move bile more efficiently. If you have a high level of cholesterol, add a tincture of Cynara scolymus or Globe Artichoke, a herb known for its ability to lower cholesterol levels.

Never ignore the need to pass stool or else more liquid will be absorbed and the result will be hard stools. If you eat three meals a day, then you can expect to have a bowel movement every day. If waste material is not expelled from the body, it will ferment in the intestines, the end result being wind, bloating, belching, and general discomfort.

Include lots of fiber such as wholegrain breads and cereals, brown rice, pulses, and beans in your diet to keep the intestines running as efficiently as possible.

Be aware of stress and find ways to manage as it has the capacity to wreak havoc with your digestive system. To help deal with stressful situations in your everyday routine, consider the herb passiflora, which can help reduce the levels of anxiety in the body.

And last but not least: Exercise daily. This will help stimulate muscle activity and encourage the passage of food through the bowel. Yoga is an ideal choice to help increase mobility and strengthen muscles.

 

Summer 2012 Hair Colors, Cuts, Styles, and Trends for the Hottest Months of the Year

Summer 2012 Hairstyles and HaircutsFew better places exist for finding the latest trends and fashions than the runway. Spring and summer collections in fashion weeks were filled with 2012 hair trends and hairstyles for women, hot new nail colors, trendy accessories, and so much more. With the summer heat, vacations, summer weddings, and so much more, these hot hair trends are perfect for the hottest months of the year.

Ponytails
Ralph Lauren and Donna Karan were fans of this classic hairstyle. Models were fitted with ponytails with center parts. These put focus not only on clear complexions but also on the clothes that debuted in the runway.

Side Parts
Side parts were seen at J Mendel and Dries Van Noten’s Spring-summer 2012 collection. They were either sleek and shiny or textured, rough, and wavy. Nevertheless, side parts added a hint of mystery as it hid part of the models’ faces as they walked down the runway.

Accessorized Up-Dos
Accessorized Up-Dos were seen in the runways of Chanel and Phillip Lim. Chanel, being big fans of pearls, added them to the models’ elegantly styled coifs and bare backs. Phillip Lim, on the other hand, used copper hair pins to hold hair in strategic places. Louis Vuitton used headbands, tiaras, and golden accessories to amp up the volume.

Blow-Outs
Glorious blow-outs were very popular for Anna Sui and Dolce and Gabbana. Blow-outs look great on long, luscious hair with either center or side parts.

Wet Look
Going to the beach? Start the fun by imitating beach waves. Apply a generous amount of styling products onto wet hair and allow it to air-dry. It’s also great to wear hair slicked back or down and loose.

Braids
Fishtails and braided up-dos are perfect for those days that are too hot to let your hair down. This is a fancy way to keep it up and textured.

Quiffs
Quiffs (think Gwen Stefani) add lots of volume to slick, styled hair. Use tons of hairspray and volumizing cream to get the look, and sweep your hair either back or to the side.

Volume
Teased hair comes full circle right from the 80’s. Only this time, it’s more elegant than its previous version. Voluminous locks are perfect for semi-formal social gatherings or evening parties during the summer.

Long hair is making a comeback this season. Whether it’s classically styled by center parts or braids, long, glorious hair looks absolutely divine. It’s also the ideal length to let beach waves show. Nevertheless, with these styles and long locks, you’re sure to have a variety of styles to consider for the summer of 2012.

 

Summer 2012 Pedicure Trends and Hot Colors for Toes

Hot Summer Pedicures - colors and trends for 2012What’s a little bit of color in your outfit, right? Don’t forget to keep your fabulous sense of style and fashion going straight down to your toes with fun summer pedicures this season. Summer 2012 pedicures are all about bright takes on classic colors for toes. What’s more, different brands have customized their collections just to put you ahead in summer 2012 pedicure trends. Here are a few trends we’ve spotted in popular pedicure styles this summer from the trendsetters in the beauty and fashion industry.

Neons
Electric yellow, lime, cobalt blue, and fuchsia are making a big splash this year.  Your toes will definitely get the attention they need with these colors. Try a fun trend by putting a different color on each toe. China Glaze has a fantastic neon summer 2012 collection.

Metallics
Going to the club one of these summer evenings? Metallics are classic lacquer shades that you can wear from the beach to the club, say, in Miami or Brazil. Match this color with silver or gold pumps or heels with metallic embellishments. Kleancolor has a collection available in dark hues as well as lighter, pinker ones. Picture the sandy beaches of all the most wonderful tropical destinations in the world and you are sure to envision some of the metallic sandy pinks and beiges in this summer nail polish collection.

Hot Summer Pedicures - colors and trends for 2012Classics
Of course, classic colors will never go out of fashion. Deep reds, nudes, and pinks will always look great on any feet. You can wear these to semi-formal day and afternoon events such as weddings, bridal showers, and birthday celebrations. Essie has a lovely collection that boasts colors such as watermelon and clam bake.

Shimmer
Like metallics, shimmer is a good color to wear when out partying. Layer them over bright or dark hues for an attention-grabbing set of toes. It also helps to buy colors with added shimmer. Zoya has a pretty set of shimmers that can make some of the most perfect summer pedicures.

Ombre

Ombre is especially chic when done in metallic or shimmery shades. To do this, choose colors that are in the same color family. You’ll need a makeup sponge to dab one color over the other. Ombre is a style that can be done using different brands and different colors, so it’s as fun as it looks.

Summer is a time to let your hair down and have a break away from stress. Beach vacations are a must, and so are happy, colorful feet. One thing to consider is to get yourself armed with an array of colors, all bright and fit for the sun. Next is a pedicure or a foot spa to make your feet look like they’ve been waiting for sun, sand and surf. Happy summer!

 

Patriotic Cocktails and Alcoholic Beverages for Fourth of July, Memorial Day, and Labor Day

Stars and SodaJuly is THE month to go out and party like a rock star, patriot style. Don’t forget about May’s Memorial Day to kick off the summer and September’s Labor Day for one last hurrah. These months deserve a toast of sorts as we celebrate in memory of all things American. If you’re planning on hosting the festivities, you might as well try these recipes for the 4th of July, Memorial Day, and Labor Day.

These drinks are sure to get your mouth watering and craving for more. Here are some patriotic alcoholic drinks you can mix up for the occasion.

Camarena Firecracker
Camarena Firecracker
Ingredients:
2 oz Camarena Reposado Tequila
6 large Watermelon Chunks
1/4 Red Chili Pepper – seeded
1/4 oz Lemon Juice
Watermelon Slice Garnish

Directions:
Place watermelon chunks and red chili pepper in mixing glass. Muddle to release juice and chili pepper spice flavor. Add remaining liquids with ice. Shake to blend and chill. Strain into large rocks glass over fresh ice. Garnish with watermelon slice.

America’s Sweetheart
America's Sweetheart
Ingredients:
1 1/2 oz Blue Ice American Vodka
1/2 oz Cointreau
3/4 oz Pomegranate Juice
1/4 oz Lime Juice

Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a mini-American flag.

Camarena Americana
Camarena Americana
Ingredients:
2 oz Camarena Reposado Tequila
1/2 cup Strawberry Simple Syrup*
2 oz Fresh Lime Juice
Splash of Orange Liqueur
2 tablespoons of Fresh Basil, Chopped Roughly
6 Sliced Strawberries

Directions:
Place the basil in the bottom of a cocktail shaker, pour in the tequila. Use the back of a spoon (or muddler) to mash the basil leaves into the tequila. Fill the shaker with ice and add strawberry simple syrup, lime juice, Cointreau. Fill with ice, shake and strain into a high ball glass over ice. Garnish with sliced strawberries on the rim and ribbons of basil mixed in the drink.
*Strawberry Simple Syrup Recipe:
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
4-5 strawberries, sliced
Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then let simmer for 10-15 minutes. Cool the syrup, then strain the liquid through a sieve, pressing the strawberries to extract all liquid.

Cathy Riva’s Specialty drink
Cathy Riva's Specialty Drink
Ingredients:
1 ½ parts of Sauza Blue® Silver Tequila
2 parts cranberry/ raspberry juice
8 mint leaves for garnish
1 part lemon-lime soda

Directions:
Combine all ingredients except mint leaves in a pitcher. Serve each glass with 2 mint      leaves. Serve cold or iced.

Liberty-ni
Liberty-ni
Ingredients:
2 oz ROSANGEL
2 oz Cranberry Juice
½ oz Orange Three Olives Vodka
1 oz Fresh Lime Juice

Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a pitcher. Serve cold or iced.

Star-Spangled SpritStar-Spangled Spritzz

Ingredients:
1.5 oz ROSANGEL
1 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
1 oz Simple Syrup
1 oz Club Soda
6 medium-sized Mint Leaves

Directions:
Combine all ingredients except mint leaves in a pitcher. Serve each glass with 2 mint      leaves. Serve cold or iced.

Patrio-tequila
Patrio-tequila
Ingredients:
¼ cup Granulated Sugar
¼ cup Fresh Lime Juice
¾ cup of berries
1 ¼ cups ROSANGEL
Splash of THREE-OLIVES Cherry Vodka
Ice cubes

Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a pitcher. Serve each glass with berries leaves. Serve cold or iced.

Of course, we can’t leave the kids out on our patriotic celebrations. I’m pretty sure they would want in on the fun. So here are some Fourth of July, Memorial Day, and Labor Day frozen drinks for the little tots. They are all fairly simple to make, so your kids can have a hand in making them too.

Better prepare them for a brain freeze!

SlushiesSlushies
Courtesy of MomAdvice.com

Ingredients:
2 cups ice water
1 packet fruit-flavored drink mix (use your favorite flavor)
2/3 cup sugar
4 cups or 1 full tray of ice cubes

Directions:
You need a blender to prepare this recipe. Put all of the ingredients into your blender. It will be about 2/3 to 3/4′s full. Put the lid on. Process the mixture on high for a full minute. Stop the blender, use a spoon to stir it a bit. Look for unchopped ice chunks. If all the chunks are grated up, then go ahead and serve it. You may need to process it for another full minute though. Serve immediately. I usually have to spoon this out of the blender with a measuring cup because the mixture is so thick. Makes 4 – 8oz servings.

Stars and Soda
Stars and Soda
Courtesy of Hoosierhomemade.com
Ingredients:
Cherry (red)
Blue (blue) Kool-Aid
Invisible Kool-Aid
Star ice cube trays
Hawaiian Punch Berry Blue Typhoon

Directions:
Freeze the Kool Aid and Hawaiian Punch in the star ice cube trays. Place them over cold Club Soda or clear soda like Sprite or 7-up.

Red, White and Blueberry SmoothieRed, White and Blueberry Smoothie
Courtesy of Babble.com

vegan, makes about 4 smoothies, depending on size.
Ingredients:
Red Layer:
3/4 cup frozen raspberries or strawberries
1/2 frozen banana
1/2 cup ice cubes
3/4 cup vanilla soy milk
Blue Layer:
1 cup frozen blueberries
3/4 cup acai juice
1/4 cup ice cubes
1/4 cup fresh blueberries (or use more frozen)
White Layer:
2 frozen bananas (slice before freezing for blending ease)
3/4 cup vanilla soy milk
1 Tbsp agave or maple syrup
3 Tbsp fine flaked coconut
1/2 cup ice cubes
Garnish:
fresh sliced strawberries
fresh blueberries
pinches of coconut flakes

Directions:
First chill your serving glasses in the freezer.
Cold glasses will help the layers stay separated better.
First blend up the red layer.
Place the red smoothie into a container and place in freezer until needed.
Next, blend up all the blue ingredients.
Pour it into a separate container and place in freezer.
Next, wash out your blender very well to create your white layer.
Add all the white layer ingredients and blend until frothy and smooth.
For a fluffier white layer add more ice.
Assembly:
Now you can remove the red and blue layers from the freezer, as well as your frosted glasses and begin assembling the smoothies.
Place enough red smoothie in each glass to fill 1/3 of the glass. On top of the red layer, place one thinly sliced strawberry round – this helps to separate colors.
Next, pour another 1/3 full amount of blue smoothie mix in each glass. Add 4-5 fresh blueberries on top of the blue layer.
Next, spoon the white layer smoothie into the glass until it is filled to the brim.
Garnish: Place a sprinkling of coconut, one blueberry and one strawberry slice in each glass.
Tips:
*The raspberry smoothie should blend up the thickest/heaviest. That is why it goes on the bottom. The white layer is the fluffiest on top.

Red White & Blue Citrus Spritzer
Red White & Blue Citrus SpritzerCourtesy of Babble.com

Ingredients:
1/2 cup sliced strawberries
1/2 cup blueberries
Citrus soda of choice

Directions:
Pile the strawberries and blueberries into the ice cube trays and fill them with water. Allow the cubes to freeze completely overnight. Fill a glass with your favorite citrus soda and plop in the cubes.

For the set of holidays this summer, make sure you always have decorations that match the occasion – stars, stripes, blues, whites, and reds. Of course, the good ol’ grill has to make its presence felt with barbecues and burgers. This is definitely going to be a cool holiday despite the rising heat of the summer.

 

 

Summer 2012 Hot Nail Polish Colors and Manicure Trends

Essie Summer 2012 nail polish collectionSun, surf, sand – it’s summer! And what better way to kick it off than to add a little color into your look with summer manis and pedis? No matter if you like bright and funky nail colors or sweet and subtle manicures and pedicures, you can find a pretty summer nail trend that suits your style this season. Here’s a quick rundown of the hottest nail polish colors and trends for summer 2012.

Perhaps the best place to look for the latest trends in everything from fashion to hair to nails is on the catwalk. Fashion weeks all over the world showcase forecasts on what’s going to be hot, and so people like us flock to fashion blogs and magazines to get a first look at what’s going to be in. This is especially true for nails this summer of 2012.

Reverse French Tip
It is what it is! Use a richer, darker color for the larger side, and a lighter, neutral color for the “tip.” French tip nails are timeless classics, so take a fun spin on this traditional manicure and pedicure style.

Ombre

There’s one brand that comes to mind whenever I hear the term Ombre in connection with nails, and that brand is Zoya. You can wear the Zoya Beach collection Ombre style by blending two or more colors on one nail. Another way to do it is by wearing shades going from the darkest to the lightest from your thumb to your pinky, sort of like a gradient nail. Either way, your nails will still look like they came out of a fresh grapefruit.

Neons

Two words: China Glaze. If you want to go all out on a splash of color, China Glaze’s Summer 2012 collection is for you. You’ll be delighted with the neons in pink, yellow, green, blue, and orange. It’s all fun from there! Bright, bright neons are some of the hottest nail polish colors for summer this year.

Pale Brights
There’s no other way to spice up your nails than by literally making them bright. This is absolutely perfect for summer – you need something that will compliment a sundress. Essie’s Bikini So Teeny 2012 is the queen of the brand’s summer collection, and a sweet nail color that you should try. The Summer 2012 Essie nail collection is just so colorful and fun; you can create a whole wardrobe based on these nail lacquers.

Long and Elegant

Essie did quite a number for Zac Posen’s runway show. The models were fitted with long nails that were, of course, filed to a perfect rounded shape. The nails were then painted in a neutral color. This look is subdued enough for work yet super sexy for a hot night out with your man. Maybe it’s no surprise for a hot summer 2012 nail trend – nude and neutral nails always seem to be in style!

OPI Summer 2012 hot nail colorsShort and Sweet
Keep it prim and proper with short nails, but make them pop out with OPI’s Summer 2012 collection. The destination-themed colors are a great way to add juicy hues to your outfit. For this year, it’s all about Holland. Think tulips in red, pink, purple, and yellow, and you have a collection that’s waiting for you in the shelves. Spice up your summer outfits with these lovely summery nail colors for 2012.

Manicured nails are always a sight to see, so go ahead, have your nails done or do them yourself, and get ready to show them off this summer!

 

Summertime Baby Must-Haves- Swim Diaper and Wet Bag Essentials

Summertime brings trips to the beach, to the pool, to the lake, and so many wonderful opportunities to take your little one for a swim or a quick dip. (In super supervised situations only, of course.) A few very cool baby summer essentials can make those swimming trips even better yet – like an adorable swim diaper and a wet bag to keep those wet items contained!

Kushies brand makes a lot of truly wonderful baby items, I’ve found. I really enjoy the clever and creative approach to caring for little ones and making sure they have great items for every turn in life. I received the Kushies on-the-go wet bag with bonus pouch, as well as an adorable orange swimsuit diaper, for the purpose of this review.

The baby’s swimsuit diaper is very cute in a bright orange color with a blue and white trim and tie. Every detail, even down to the green Kushies tag with footprints and seashell and starfish designs, is completely too cute for words. The orange swim diaper has a breathable mesh interior and terry crotch liner with expert stitching all the way around. The swim diaper by Kushies has gusseted legs for comfort and security. The swim diaper’s exterior is 100% nylon and the interior is 100% polyester. The diaper flaps fold and attach so easily to the Velcro on the front of the swim diaper, and the blue and white waist ties offer a secure fit and form a nice bow to keep your little one covered up in the water or on the beach.

The Kushies swimsuit diaper is machine washable and dryable, making it a great item to add to your baby’s summer fashions. This clever product is available in sizes small, medium, large, and X-Large, ranging from 6lbs to 50lbs. The Kushies swimsuit diaper retails for $11.99 and you can find it in lots of colors at www.kushiesonline.com.

When you and your little one are done swimming, just tuck your swim diaper safely away inside the Kushies on-the-go wet bag. This product is 10.5” x 13,” making it the perfect size to store baby’s swimsuit, swim diaper, dirty bibs, or soiled and rinsed outfits or cloth diapers until you can launder them at home. This wet bag is a great way to keep items separate from the rest of your diaper bag contents, segregating the mess to one contained spot.

The on-the-go wet bag I received is very cool with a fun and trendy abstract pattern. The colors look lovely together, chocolate brown, sky blue, and a series of greens on a pale background. The pattern features circles, wheels, rounded squares, rectangles, and a distressed look here and there. The bonus mini wet bag pouch is great for smaller items and has a fun ovals and dots pattern on a chocolate brown background.

Both wet bag and bonus pouch have their own drawstring to ensure your wet items stay separate from your dry ones. The large bag has a small bead with button to ensure the bag stays closed even in the bumpiest of rides in the diaper bag. The inner texture of the bags feels a bit waxed, providing extra reinforcement against spills. I really like these bags and the great function they provide.

Kushies products are proudly made in Canada. For more information, check out www.kushiesonline.com.

 

ShrinkxHips Ultra Review- Shrink Your Hips After Pregnancy

ShrinkxHipsWho knew there could be a product that actually helps women get back to their pre-pregnancy size without dieting or exercising? ShrinkxHips Ultra by UpSpring, Ltd. is a compression belt that is designed to help women narrow their hips back to their pre-pregnancy size, if not smaller, by taking advantage of the eight-week window following childbirth. I’ve received my own ShrinkxHips Ultra belt to try for the purpose of this review and I am glad to share my results so far.

I ended up starting my trial of ShrinkxHips Ultra a little later than intended since I had a C-section at the birth of our daughter. I didn’t want to irritate the incision or cause problems with it healing, so I waited until about five weeks post-partum to try it out. The ShrinkxHips belt is very cleverly designed and easy to use, in my opinion. It has different sets of Velcro to allow you to first properly position and fasten the belt across your hips and then adjust the tightness and compression to your desired strength with two separate Velcro straps for tightening.

The idea behind ShrinkxHips is that the hormone Relaxin stays in your system for eight weeks following delivery. This is the hormone that causes your joints to become looser and more flexible, and also your hips to become wider during pregnancy. By taking advantage of the eight-week window of opportunity using this product, women have been able to shrink their hips back to their pre-pregnancy size, and sometimes even smaller, getting back into their normal jeans and non-maternity clothing much sooner than expected.

ShrinkxHipsThe ShrinkxHips belt provides constant and even pressure to the hips so you don’t really feel it all at once. In fact, I think this belt offers a nice level of support for my hips, making them feel snug and comfortable for the most part. I will admit, it is not easy to breastfeed while wearing these, but it can be done. Whenever running to the bathroom, the belt also must come off. It is easy enough to put it back on, though, and I believe it is worth doing since I’ve already seen some positive results.

I’ve measured my hips only last week when I started using this product, so I am not actually sure where they were before that. I don’t know how wide they were after our daughter was born and I’m not sure what my measurements were last year before I got pregnant. I am willing to bet I am between one and three inches from my ideal hip size – and that is one inch less than I would have been without this product! I have indeed lost an inch around my hips in the one week I’ve used this product. This was my first pregnancy so I have nothing to compare it to, so I can’t say how much my hips would have shrank back on their own by normal course of nature. I also don’t know exactly how much father I have to go, but I will be thrilled if I can get back into my pre-pregnancy jeans sometime this summer. My only worry is that I couldn’t take advantage of the full eight weeks.

The recommended wear time is up to 12 hours with the Ultra belt, but I usually try to wear mine 6 to 8 hours. I even wore it overnight once, but couldn’t get super comfortable so I may not try that again – we’ll see. So, I would say even in the short time using ShrinkxHips Ultra, not even the full recommended amount, I have shrunk my hips at least one inch from where they were a week ago!

The ShrinkxHips Ultra kit also contains a Hip-Check measuring tape and Success Chart so you can keep track of your progress. I definitely appreciate this, as I do like to see results and keep myself motivated no matter what my workouts and measurements entail.

I did a little research and a lot of people on Amazon were complaining about the edges of the ShrinkxHips belt rolling up. This actually doesn’t bother me as I prefer that over having it dig into me. I don’t really see it being an issue. One thing I will say is I do sort of have a hard time finding the perfect place to put the belt across my hips. Sometimes I fear I have it too low while others I think it may be too high. At times I do feel it squishes my still-shrinking belly, but if only I had a shrinking belt for that too! All in all, I really have no complaints. In fact, I am thrilled that my hips are an inch smaller in only one week of use, not even using for a full 8 – 12 hours per day. If this post-partum hip shrinking device works as advertised, even with a shortened time span, I will be so thrilled to have my pre-pregnancy frame back!

ShrinkxHips Ultra retails for $54.99 and ShrinkxHips Basic sells for $29.99. You can get your own ShrinkxHips belt at Amazon.com, Babies R Us, Target, a pea in the pod, Destination Maternity, and Diapers.com. For more information about ShrinkxHips, check out http://www.shrinkxhips.com.

 

Great Baby Grooming Items by Japonesque Baby

Japonesque BabyWhen it comes to baby grooming gear, few things are cuter than a set of kangaroo manicure nail scissors and a matching file, at least if you ask me. I instantly fell in love with the little orange kangaroo scissor sheath with matching tethered joey baby nail file. I received this adorable baby grooming item (Safety Nail Scissors & File) along with an almost-as-cute hippopotamus Gentle Grooming Baby Brush and dolphin Safety Nail Clipper & File set. It really is hard to decide which is the cutest, but I think the kangaroo takes the cake for me.

Kangaroo Safety Nail ScissorsJaponesque Baby makes a lot of adorable baby items beyond these grooming goodies. In fact, the baby collection is just a very small subset of this online beauty retailer. Since we’re on the topic of baby grooming, you can find monkey and giraffe safety scissors, a ducky nail clipper, an alligator comb, and even a penguin nail clipper. In case you were wondering, I am still sold on my kangaroo nail scissors, thanks.

The nail scissors and file are specially designed for your baby’s delicate nails. The handles are plastic and easy to use while the stainless steel blades offer great precision and safety thanks to the rounded tips. The little nail file with the baby kangaroo (joey) is great to smooth and shape your little one’s nails, and especially for use on newborns before you should be using scissors anyway. The kangaroo case really makes this set a must-have in my opinion – I just can’t get over how cute it is!

Hippo Grooming BrushWho doesn’t want a hippo hair brush? This pink hippo Gentle Grooming Baby Brush has a clever design that lets you twist the product to hide or reveal the brush’s soft bristles. These bristles are so soft, ensuring your little one’s scalp is safe and sound while you can gently groom your baby without any pain or pulling. This item really has a clever design and for that I highly recommend it for diaper bags or just as an everyday use baby grooming item. As your little one grows, she is sure to love this cute pink hippo hair brush.

Dolphin Safety Nail ClipperLast but certainly not least, the Japonesque Safety Nail Clipper and File in blue dolphin style has a very clever and utilitarian fin – that is how you clip baby’s nails! The file is cleverly tucked on the dolphin’s belly, making this an all-in-one grooming godsend. To use this baby nail clipper, simply pull down on the dolphin’s nose to remove the covering and reveal the nail clipper. This clipper is constructed with safety and precision in mind, leaving your little one’s nails nicely trimmed and tear-free. The nail file on the dolphin’s belly makes it easy to smooth out your baby’s nails from any rough edges.

These grooming items are truly adorable and I would highly recommend them for any baby shower gift basket or wishing well. I received each of these items for the purpose of review and look forward to using them with our little girl.

For more information on Japonesque baby products including those reviewed in this article, please check out http://japonesque.com. You can order these products online at Amazon.com or Drugstore.com.

 

Overland Equipment Sierra Bag- A Diaper Bag That Grows With Your Family

Overland Diaper BagAs a new mom, I am still getting the hang of all this kid and baby stuff – products, tricks of the trade, and the best way to do things, so many things… Packing and organizing a diaper bag is something I thought would come naturally, but truth be told, it hasn’t. I received an Overland Equipment Sierra Bag in a pretty wheat (beige-tan) color for the purpose of review. This bag has a lot of functional spaces and pockets, making it a cinch to pack for your baby, toddler, or older child as you go somewhere out of the house.

First of all, the bag is a great size – you can fit all of your baby essentials as well as a snack for yourself, water bottle, and some other small items you want to take with you. The bag has two adjustable straps in a pretty chocolate brown color and enough pockets to make you smile as you dream up where you’re going to put everything. The interior of the bag is spacious and has one thin, zippered mesh pocket, also in chocolate brown. You will find plenty of room for baby or kid blankets, diapers, wipes, toys, a few changes of clothes, wet bag, and so much more. The main compartment zips securely to prevent anything from falling out and getting lost, a huge win.

Overland Diaper BagOne side of the bag’s exterior has a flap style pocket with Velcro closure, tucking away a wealth of other wonderful pockets. This flap pocket is home to a soft, fleece-lined pocket (great for your phone), another slightly smaller pocket, a rounded pocket, a pen pocket, and a zippered mesh pocket, as well as a larger slot style pocket behind the other pockets. This flap pocket also has a tethered clip that would be great for attaching you’re a pacifier, your keys, a baby toy, a change purse, or a dozen other items. This flap pocket with other hidden pockets is a great place to organize your baby items or your personal items once your little ones outgrow needing a diaper bag.

The other side of the Sierra bag has a wide and deep slot style pocket that will fit lots of different items, such as your baby’s snacks for easy access or bibs, hats, and socks, or other items you need to quickly be able to reach. You can also keep a checkbook, a note tablet, and other personal items here for fast accessibility.

The other ends of the bag each have a bottle pocket that is perfect for your baby’s bottles, sippy cups, or a water bottle for yourself.  These pockets are relatively deep and certainly wide enough to house just about any kind of bottle, thermos, or container.

The fabric of this bag is sturdy and durable, made with 840D junior ballistic nylon and 1680D ballistic nylon for the exterior and 210D ripstop nylon inside. I haven’t had any spills yet, but the bag itself feels as though it would easily withstand rain, snow, and even spilt milk.

The bag has a leather patch that says OverLand Equipment Since 1981, ironically the year I was born. I can see why this company is still in business producing quality products for individuals and families of all ages and sizes. I see this Sierra bag as a multi-purpose diaper bag, allowing you to use it for your baby or young child, but not being tied to that. You can easily pack this bag up for a picnic in the park, a trip to the gym or yoga class, or even as your go-to tote bag for anytime you’re on the go.

The Sierra bag by Overland Equipment is available in wheat, blackberry, or denim and retails for $85. It measures 11.75″ x 19.75″ x 5.5″. You can get your own at OverlandEquipment.com, Amazon.com, and a number of other retailers. For more information about Overland Equipment or the Sierra bag, check out www.overlandequipment.com.

 

The DIY Bride: Hair and Makeup Looks that Dazzle

Information courtesy of Gocha Hawkins, www.GochaSalon.com.

Every bride deserves to look and feel like a queen on her wedding day; however, not every bride has the budget of a queen. Do it yourself hair and makeup looks have increased significantly in popularity in the last few years, with YouTube tutorials abound and products at our fingertips that take the hassle out of the process. Here, Gocha Hawkins, celebrity hairstylist, makeup artist, and owner of Gocha Salon, delivers three show stopping hair and makeup looks that are easy enough to pull off yourself, and still make you feel like the queen that you are.

“As a general rule of thumb, shimmer does not always photograph well. Do your best to keep makeup matte and be sure that foundation is blended thoroughly as the camera detects oily skin. For summer brides, humidity is their worst hair enemy. Dry hair downward at a 90-degree angle to avoid frizz while styling, and ask your hairstylist beforehand about products that will work with your hair’s natural texture. Additionally, every bride should have a touch-up kit on hand the day of the wedding to avoid a beauty disaster,” Gocha advises.

Bold Bride

Gwen StefaniThis summer, it’s all about the pop of color in the makeup world. “The runways for spring and summer 2012 collections were sprinkled with bright neon shades not only in terms of the clothing, but also in makeup,” explains Gocha. “This has definitely prevailed as a trend for the more fashion forward bride this season. Also, it’s very versatile and can work for women with short hair. Pairing this with a structured yet whimsical teased ponytail achieves a stunning, bold statement. Think rocker mom Gwen Stefani’s electric style.”

·         Choose one feature to focus on; whether you’re going with a bright eye or lip, having both will be distracting and take away from your overall look. If drawing the focus to the eye, begin by using a powder-based primer to set. MAC Cosmetics has countless shadow options and at $15.00, it’s a steal. As far as a show-stopping lip, go with a matte lipstick. NARS’s semi-matte lipstick is a safe bet and cost-effective at $24.00.

·         A volumized ponytail is stunning and works with warm weather instead of against it. To create this look, leave out the hair at the crown of the head when pulling hair back. Curl hair with a large-barreled curling iron for a bouncy, wavy texture or pin up for a more traditional updo. Tease hair at the crown for volume, spraying hairspray at the same time to set the look. To smooth, apply wax pomade and secure with a hair pin.

Vintage Glam

January JonesFor the bride that wants to play up her sex appeal on her wedding day, a slightly heavier makeup look with a glamorous yet simple ‘do is the way to go. “Creating a dramatic eye with a red lip gives off that eternal essence of old-Hollywood charm and epitomizes class for a sophisticated affair. A great role model for this look is January Jones, who keeps it in her repertoire for big ticket red carpet events. If your wedding’s theme leans toward romantic vintage, this look is definitely for you,” says Gocha.

·         Spend time testing different shades of the perfect red. Depending on skin tone, a red with a tint of orange or undertones of pink will look best on most brides. Keep other makeup simple, but still stunning by lining the upper rim of your eye in a black kohl liner. Use an eyelash curler for added volume (or if you’re even more adventurous, fake lashes) and make sure to apply ample mascara. Sweep a natural looking blush on cheeks for the full effect.

·         Retro waves are flattering on every face shape and most hair lengths, except for very short. Following your shower, use leave-in conditioner to keep hair moisturized. Dry hair and part to the side. Curl in 1-inch sections and then roll forward. Set with an anti-frizz serum that will moisturize your hair throughout the night.

Natural Beauty

Charlize TheronMinimalism is a dominant trend for summer that emerged during the collections for 2012 designer campaigns. As Gocha explains, “With a natural makeup look, I like to do something fun with hair, like take a classic style and evolve it to be more modern. One of my favorite hairstyles of the past year was Charlize Theron’s look at the Oscars. Not only does she pull off a modified version of the classic chignon, but she elevated the headband and transformed it into a formal hair accessory.”

·         For makeup, choose a blush that is as close as possible to your natural flush color. Define your features by shading eyelids with a soft, natural hue that is a shade darker than your skin tone. Lightly line eyes with a black liner if desired, or just stick with a few coats of mascara to make them pop. For lips, stick to a shade or two darker than your lip hue in a moisturizing, lightweight tint.

·         Curl small sections with a 2-inch curling iron to create waves. Spray with a shine-enhancing product and brush to eliminate the threat of separation. Sweep hair to your preferred side and roll hair into a loose bun. Pull out some face framing strands to create an unstructured, wispy look. Finish by spraying with holding spray and carefully place your headband.

“The most important advice I can give to any DIY bride is to test your looks beforehand, thoroughly. Entrust one of your bridesmaids with the duty of spending a day helping you test out makeup and hair looks with a digital camera and under fluorescent lighting. This way, there are no surprises when you take your photos, and you can feel confident that you’ve achieved the exact look you want. Because, after all, that’s the most important thing; that the bride is happy on her wedding day!” says Gocha.

For more tips and tricks from Gocha Hawkins, follow @GochaSalon on Twitter, “Like” Gocha Salon on Facebook, and visit the salon’s website at GochaSalon.com.

Images courtesy of Sydney4Women.au, TrueHollywoodMakeup.com, and NadineBells.com.

 

Skin Danger Zones: Sun Damage Where You Least Expect It

Information courtesy of Dermatologist Dr. Rebecca Baxt, www.cosmedical.com.

Sunny Palm Tree BranchesSpending the day basking in the sun? You are likely to protect yourself from sun exposure. But what about everyday? Sun damage can burn its mark when and where you least expect it. Are you really protecting your skin day in and out? Applying your daily facial moisturizer with SPF is not all it takes to protect yourself against harmful rays.

As we approach warmer weather, Board Certified Dermatologist Dr. Rebecca Baxt gives a rundown of often ignored areas and locations where you need protection from the sun.

Commonly Ignored Areas on Your Body

Sunny Beach

You have prepped for a day out in the sun. But have you covered all the bases? When slathering on sun block, there are certain areas people

tend to forget to protect. Be mindful ofcommonly ignored areas including your feet, lips, hands, back of the ears, chest/neck, lips and your scalp. “The chest is an area commonly affected by sun damage and wrinkles—but not commonly protected,” explains Dr. Baxt. “Be sure to properly protect these areas prior to stepping out into the sun. Wear protective clothing to cover up your skin from the sun.” Keep in mind, a light bathing suit cover-up does not protect your skin from harmful rays. “On a day out in the sun, apply sunscreen every hour —even when wearing a cover-up.”

Rain or Shine

Who needs sun protection on a cloudy day? We all do.  If the sun is hiding, it doesn’t mean you aren’t being exposed to it. Hazy days are common days for sun burns, the UV rays come right through the clouds.  Don’t forget your sun protection! Despite your perception of the climate, you may end up exposing yourself to more damaging rays. Whether in an urban or beach setting, the sun can affect you come rain or shine. Feeling a bit chilly from the wind? You can still get a sun burn even on a cool day. Protect yourself.

Indoor Exposure

Whether in a car, at the office or at home, UVA rays through a window may cause serious damage to your skin. “When driving, the left side of your face and hands are exposed to UVA rays through the windshield, dab on products with an SPF of 30 or higher to protect yourself.” Sitting next to a window and reading a book may seem harmless, but indoor sun exposure may lead to sun damage. Consider your daily locations and travel arrangements and protect yourself accordingly.

Reflecting Rays

Meeting a friend for a quick outdoor lunch on your break? You purposefully sit under an umbrella assured you are fully protecting yourself. However—the rays of the sun reflect off concrete. Sitting under an umbrella should not be your method of sun protection. “Protecting yourself from damaging rays not only requires using products—but requires proper knowledge. The more you know, the better equipped you are to protect yourself in all areas, at all times.”

About the Expert:

Rebecca Baxt, MD, MBA, FAAD is a Board Certified Dermatologist specializing in both cosmetic and general dermatology for adults and children. She also has a particular interest in acne and rosacea. For more information, please visit www.cosmedical.com or visit Baxt Cosmedical Facebook Fan Page.