Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Influenster I Do Vox Box Review

What's inside:

  • SkinnyGirl Nutrition Bar
  • Sahale Snacks Almonds
  • CoverGirl Outlast Stay Luminous Foundation
  • CoverGirl Outlast Longwear Lipcolor
  • Indeed Nanoblur
  • Neutrogena Hand Cream 
  • UrgentRx® Ache & Pain Relief To-Go

What I Thought:

A few days before my trip to Canada, I received the #IDoVoxBox from Influenster. I've been a member of Influenster since May and I was surprised to get a VoxBox so soon into my membership. (Be sure to review lots of products, complete your snaps, and link all social media accounts. Every bit helps!) When I returned from vacation I gave each product a try and I found a few gems. I've collected my thoughts on each product. It was a great mix of items!

Both of these made great mid-afternoon snacks at work.

SkinnyGirl Nutrition Bar
I had the dark chocolate almond with coconut bar and it was very tasty. I'm impressed it's packed with natural ingredients. After I posted the above shot to Instagram with my initial reaction, SkinnyGirl contacted me with a promo code: Use code INFBRIDE15 for 30% off your next order on SkinnygirlDaily.com! 

Sahale Snacks Almonds
Based on the #sahalesnacks tag on Instagram, Voxers received a wide variety of snacks. I'm so happy I ended up with almonds because I eat almonds all the time and my whole natural ones are getting a little boring. I was surprised to see dried fruit and honey, but it made for a perfect mix of sweet and salty. It was a dense treat and would be a perfect hiking/camping snack. Lots of natural ingredients and full of protein. 

CoverGirl Outlast Stay Luminous Foundation 
My least favorite item in the box. :( Unfortunately, this product wasn't for me. When I went to use this foundation I had one patch of dry skin and a post-vacation blemish. The rest of my skin was clear with a touch of redness and freckles. The foundation was much thicker than I expected. It went on smooth, but the coverage was odd: it felt thick and it was kind of hard to blend in at first, then ultimately didn't provide much coverage. I ended up looking like I was wearing makeup, but it didn't cover my imperfections. To me, what's the point of a foundation if it doesn't provide coverage? I've had BB and CC creams that do more. I'd recommend to someone with smooth, non-dry skin with areas of redness, scarring, or flat blemishes they'd like to cover. My freckles and redness disappeared, but my dry skin and blemish were highlighted.  

(I received a response from the CoverGirl team on Amazon saying the foundation probably didn't fit my current needs and they could make it right for me if I called customer service. That was nice.) 

CoverGirl Outlast Longwear Lipcolor
At first I wasn't sure I liked the shade on me, but I think that's because I don't wear bold lip color. After a few minutes I was in love! The lipstick stayed put for a few hours until I ate and drank. Even after dinner there was still a hint of color left on my lips. I would recommend as it didn't feel greasy or too dry. On a side note: I remember using Outlast lip stain and gloss for prom many moons ago, so it's nice to see the product range is still around! I received the shade Red Rouge. 

Neutrogena Hand Cream
I tried this hand cream for five days and noticed my cuticles were softer. I also used it on my elbows and had positive results (my hands aren't particularly dry in the summer, but my elbows are). I think the trust test will come in the winter, but I'm confident it will work. I like the fragrance-free version as I use other scented lotions and perfumes post-shower. It's a bit greasy going on, so I'd recommend using before bed. It's under $5 and a little goes a looooong way, so I see this tube lasting quite a while. 

Indeed Nanoblur - My favorite product in the box!
I wasn't sure what to expect when I received a full size sample. I have sensitive, combination skin and many skin care products make me break out. I was pleased to find that Nanoblur had no such side effect. I haven't been able to take a truly compelling before and after photo, but my skin feels smooth and silky after application. It reminded me of a primer, but not as gooey as some others I've tried. I use it in the morning after moisturizer and before my powder foundation. Over the past week and a half, I've worn less makeup and believe Nanoblur is the reason. I will buy Nanoblur and plan to purchase other Indeed Labs products. 

UrgentRx® Ache & Pain Relief To-Go
I don't have a review for this product yet! Can you believe in the past two weeks I haven't had a single ache or pain? I'm really intrigued by this product. It's an ingestible powder that provides immediate relief. The UrgentRx® website has a buy one get one coupon right now. Maybe after my long run this Saturday I'll need some quick relief. ;)

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Have you tried any of the products above? 

I received the complementary samples above in my Influenster I Do Vox Box, but all opinions are my own.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

July: Life Currently...

Photos from my instagram
Reading I finished four books during my trip to Canada (last week) and my favorite was Megan Abbott's The End of Everything. I'm currently reading Einstein's Beach House, which I won on Goodreads. 

Listening Aziz Ansari's Modern Romance audiobook. So far, so good.

Watching Silicon Valley season 2. The first season reminded me of work, but now the guys are dealing with issues I've (thankfully) never had to think about. Good show. Glad they added a few more female characters. 

Wearing swimsuits last week (mixing and matching tops and bottoms is genius). This week I'm wearing my reject clothes. I took all of my good summer clothes to Canada and have yet to do laundry... 

Eating + Drinking I ate so much food last week on vacation. I'm going to try to avoid chicken for a while. Blargghh. Prior to vacation, I ate sushi almost every day for a week. Akai Hana is a new favorite spot. I drank a lot in Canada, too... it's kind of what you do around the campfire. During one overcast day we went to Gananoque Brewing.  

Exploring the area surrounding Red Horse Lake in Ontario. Usually we stick to the water, but this time we took a longish walk/hike past surrounding houses and lakes. 

Making not much, really. I finally ordered scrapbooking supplies for our wedding album. Two years later... 

Feeling Meh. Vacation was nice and it's good to be home, but I wish I had more time for house / life projects. 

Planning I'm considering an all-women half in September (a full month before my scheduled fall half). I've been training with marathoner friends, so I'll be ready physically. Not sure about mentally. Alex has kind of dropped the ball on our late-August Alaska trip, so who knows if that's happening (crying). 

Working on freelance. Always. It seems never-ending at the moment. I've made a tiny bit of progress on unrelated children's book illustrations, but not enough. I need to get it off my plate asap to make time for the aforementioned house / life projects! 

Wishing I could stay home and read all day. Maybe have someone organize all my junk so I don't have to. (I'm keeping this answer from June. It's still true. Gosh, this month went fast.) 

Remembering not much. I'm trying to keep my head above the water at the moment... 

Loving running and relaxation. It's keeping me sane. Also loving the samples from my Influenster I Do Vox box. Reviews to come. It's been fun testing things I wouldn't normally buy! 

Looking forward to a day off (again). I'm also looking forward to the next three weekends. Besides long runs, I don't have any plans! It's a miracle! 

How's your month?

Friday, July 10, 2015

Friday Five: Things to Do in North Dakota

Happy Friday! I'm linking up with Mar, Courtney, and Cynthia for another Friday Five. This week's topic is 5 Fitness Trends I’ll Never Try, but I'm going off theme because I'll try anything once... if someone pays for the class and drags me there. So instead, let's talk about 5 Things to Do in North Dakota!

A little background: Alex and I went to North Dakota the first week of June to cross off my 49th state. We were originally going to go to Alaska, but I decided we should save it for last because North Dakota seemed "so boring." I was wrong! We really love hiking, beer, and friendly people, and North Dakota did not disappoint. I was surprised by how lovely the state was and the people were extremely hospitable.

Without further ado, here are some things to do, complete with trip photos:

See Downtown Fargo

When I think "downtown" I usually think tall buildings and business people. Fargo's downtown isn't quite like that (at all), but it's small, inviting, and packed with amazing restaurants and a few beer hangouts. I highly recommend Wurst Bier Hall. Amazing food and brews. YUM. We loved it so much we came back on our way home.

Follow the Lewis and Clark Trail

We inadvertently followed their trail for half a day's drive and stumbled upon Lake Sakakawea and the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center. Obviously, it's all paved road now (unless it's covered in a man-made lake)... but it's kind of wild to image their party canvassing the land back in 1804-06!

Visit the World's Largest Buffalo and the Enchanted Highway

The WLB is about the only thing to do along the drive from Fargo to Bismarck, but it was fun. There's a museum and a historical village. We ran out of time and weren't able to see the Enchanted Highway – just got to see the bird sculpture at the exit – so this was the next best thing!

GO TO Teddy Roosevelt National Park NOW!
Very hard to pick just two photos.

I've been to a lot of National Parks and this is one of my favorites. There are two parts of the park (North and South) with main roads that take you through the highlights. You can see a ton of wildlife and there are several lookouts and short hiking trails off the main road. We did an epic hike in the North unit that blew us away. If you're in North Dakota, you need to go here! We based our trip around the park and I'm so thankful we did. It was gorgeous.

Try Some Backwoods Camping
Our campsite! (Our tent is the little beige dome on the ridge.)

While we spent a few nights in hotels, we also camped (had to check a bag with our tent). I prefer backwoods (hike in/hike out) camping to drive up campsites. I enjoy the solitude and feeling like we're "really" camping. Pulling up to a campsite is ok (and we did that another night at Lake Sakakawea), but it kind of feels like cheating because you can return to the car at any time. Anyway, we hiked along the Upper Talkington Trail at TRNP and were rewarded with amazing views and a pretty epic campsite. We didn't see any animals (beyond bugs), but we heard a very vocal pack of coyotes howling! (Oh, and saw lots of bison poop.)

Bottom line: don't save North Dakota for your last state. We took a 4 day trip and saw so much. I need to do a TR park summary post... someday. ;)

What's your next or best trip? 

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Friday Five: 4th of July

Happy Saturday! Yes, I know... I'm a day late for Friday Five, but in my defense I wasn't around a computer yesterday and, well, now I have pictures! This week's theme is the 4th of July. Don't forget to visit Mar, Courtney, and Cynthia to see their plans! 

I'm in the middle of my 4th, but I've already done everything I'd planned to do. I think I'm going to lay around tonight, eat a nice dinner (currently being prepared), and watch something. Maybe some grocery shopping if the store is open. Yawn! What I did to celebrate the 4th (on the 3rd and the 4th):

Mmmm cake.
My pal lives downtown and had some folks over for a cookout Friday night. The hostess made the best flag cake. After dinner we walked over to...

Red White & Boom
Downtown Columbus does their fireworks on the 3rd. It's a big deal. So thankful my friend had a primo parking spot for us and that we were able to walk down to the fireworks in under 5 minutes. I haven't been in a few years and it was nice to get back without having to deal with the normal chaos.

Ran 10.4 miles
My training schedule had me at 5 this morning, but my running buddies are gearing up for a full and I plan to run with them until I can't handle the distance. My training group was canceled, but a few of us went out on our own to get in 9. After we turned at the halfway point the police had closed the bike trail (for fireworks setup) and we were rerouted into the middle of a July 4th race! We couldn't get off the course (police kept telling us we couldn't!) until we hit a nearby high school. The detour added some milage (and hills!), but the weather was amazing and I was feeling great. I was worried about a long run, but I could have kept going. Gotta love runs like this.

Good run!
Finished my Jost Running 100 Miles of Summer challenge
My 10 miler pushed me over the 100 mile mark for Jost Running's 100 Miles of Summer challenge. It took me 7 weeks to hit 100. I think the deadline is mid August, so I'm feeling good considering June was a low milage month.

Wandered around our garden / went to lunch / took a nap
Since I've been home I've showered (duh), took some photos in our garden, went to lunch for some shrimp pasta and wine, and took a 45 minute nap with Tobias. While I celebrated my 4th yesterday, it's been a pretty great Saturday so far!

How's your 4th shaping up?

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Books of June 2015

June was a pretty good month. We went to North Dakota, ran a 5k (which I guess I should recap), saw Alex's family, went to a few Columbus festivals, and made some minor house progress. I had a lot of freelance and regular work last month and that seems to be the case for July, too. 

I'm not sure what happened with reading in June, but I definitely slacked. I'm going to blame the books. Only one of them kept me up reading at night. The others inspired lots of phone time. 

Finished June 14, 2015
A God in Ruins
by Kate Atkinson

Review: 3 / 5 
I won this book in a Goodreads First Reads giveaway. 

I'm in the minority on this book. While I think others will love it (and see many folks already do) it took me weeks to finish and now that it's over I'm equal parts relieved and angry. Kate Atkinson is a great writer. Her characters, dialog, and settings are all top notch, but unfortunately I hated the ending of this and Life After Life

I think I can only review this with minor spoilers: (stop reading if you care! They're minor, but they mention the plot!) While I zipped through some of the more exciting passages about Teddy's WWII experiences, I could never find the point. I kept wondering why Ursula saved Teddy in Life After Life (I assumed this from the ambiguous ending and fact that Teddy got his own book). But ultimately why did it even matter? The final Teddy chapter of this book was ridiculous. And I usually love author's notes, but in this case it felt like Atkinson justifying her actions. If you're going to have a zinger of an ending (blargh) then let it speak for itself! I understand her decisions / her direction / what it all "means," but ultimately it felt like a waste of 500 pages. 

Again, this was a bit of a slog for me, but a well-written novel that I think many others will enjoy. I don't often like gimmicks, and this fell flat for me.

Finished June 21, 2015
In the Unlikely Event
by Judy Blume

Review: 4 / 5 
First off, I love Judy Blume. 

Second, my review: I've read so many multi-perspective novels with newspaper clippings as chapter intros this year, but in the case of In the Unlikely Event this device works well. I tore through the book and couldn't believe I'd never heard of the events. Reading about part two and three were completely nerve wracking. (I've had a fair number of plane crash dreams over the years and it always freaks me out.) 

Unfortunately, the final act (or at least part four) seemed rushed and kind of came out of nowhere. I'm not sure I like how quickly things changed- especially with Rusty. Was it all a device to get Miri to fly home 35 years later? Surely that could have been accomplished via "college" or some career choice. 
I would have given this a 5 had it ended after part three. (Could still have the flash forward.) Judy Blume is so good at teen girl perspective.

Bonus (above): an exchange between Judy and me on twitter in 2013 about this book! 

Finished June 28, 2015
Brutal Youth
by Anthony Breznican

Review: 3 / 5 
From the glowing reviews on the back (from a few of my favorite authors), I expected this to be amazing. And for some odd reason, I thought it was a dark comedy or private school satire. (It wasn't.)

Overall: entertaining. But the entire story constantly felt like a set-up for a big moment. "Hey, see that clue I dropped? It'll be important later!!!" "THIS IS A BIG BUILD-UP TO AN EXPLOSIVE FUTURE SCENE" Guess what? The ending to almost every storyline was super predictable. In fact, I kept thinking, "ok when are we going to get to X," which was pretty distracting. 

There were some standout scenes, and I really liked Davidek and Hannah, but overall it wasn't as great as its cover art and blurbs.

Finished June 30, 2015
Finale (Hush, Hush #4)
by Becca Fitzpatrick

Review: 2 / 5 
First off, these books are ridiculous. They're a direct result of the Twilight and True Blood thing a few years ago. (I enjoyed reading Twilight as entertaining fluff. The last three movies were crap). The Hush, Hush series has an odd premise, but I liked the first book. As it continued, I realized I enjoyed hate-reading these (complete with eye-rolls) more than I actually enjoyed the content. It's also an excellent source of content for a YA pitfalls or anti-feminist literature blog!

Honestly, I think this series would have been better if the main character were in her twenties. There are so many scenes where she has to skip school or convince her mom she's staying at a friends when she's grounded (or has just been kidnapped), which present annoying continuity errors. Or makes her mom look stupid. (Let's be real: her mom might be the dumbest character in all of YA.) Plus, Patch seems so much older than Nora and not in a sexy way. Kind of in a "Why are you a pervert, Patch?" way.

Anyway, this book: The final battle scene was exciting, but gosh there did not need to be four books. What even happened? SPOILER: Also, love how she left the cemetery to get some instead of checking to see if her best friend was alive! (Or mourn her other best friend for more than one minute!! He died FOR HER.)

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As always, these reviews were ripped from my Goodreads.

What did you read in June? 
What are you reading now? 

What I'm looking forward to:  I just reserved seven books at the library for my upcoming trip to Canada. I hope I can find a quiet spot –away from the mutant bugs – where I can plow through them all! 
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