Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Rolling into fitness: We're now a cycling family, toddler included!

Five years ago, my husband surprised me with a surprise anniversary trip to San Franscisco (awesome right? Major points to him). That was definitely one of my favorite destinations that we have been to and I really hope to visit again someday in the not so distant future. While there, we rented hybrid Trek bikes and it was the best decision that we made. Since we were there for a long weekend we wanted to see as much as we could in a short period of time and the bikes gave us the ability to do so. Riding bikes there reminded us so much of how freeing and fun it can be zooming around on bikes. San Francisco consists of hill after hill and provides an intense workout, whether walking or biking. We definitely got an intense workout everyday navigating those hills.

Anyways...that trip ignited our desire to have some bikes of our own and today we finally took the plunge and made the investment. Now that were settled in our home and Aiden is old enough to ride in a trailer, we felt like it was the perfect time. We bought 2 Schwinn hybrids, a tow behind bike trailer and helmets (must have!!) for everyone. I cannot wait to get out and cruise around (we still have to install the hitch and rack on the car to get them home).

A's styling ride. It's a Schwinn Echo Double Trailer.
Ryan's Schwinn Men's Suburban bike
My white beauty, a Schwinn Network 1.0 700c Hybrid bicycle
We're lucky enough to live near some pretty great trails with gorgeous scenery (Kensington in Milford, Indian Springs in White Lake and Holly Recreation are a few of my favorites) and I have a feeling that this year we will be checking out a lot more areas than ever before and these will be perfect for adventures during our trips up north this summer. I've thrown around the idea of trying out a triathlon or duathlon for years so maybe now that I have all the gear, I'll take the plunge. I just love that this adds another way to get out and be active as a family. Were so busy sometimes that I hate to take family time away by going and doing fitness endeavors on my own, so being able to do this as a family is a win-win for everyone. And as always, it's so important for your children to have a healthy, active role model in their life too so I really try emulate that sentiment for our son. 

Since it's been years since I've rode a bike consistently, I really need to familiarize myself with rules, laws and all the safety guidelines. AND I'm a bit nervous about the ride behind trailer and really, really hope that Aiden enjoys it. I'd hate to have this be a struggle each time we go out (plus, those trailers are expensive!). He loves going as fast as possible in the jogging stroller, so I'm hoping that that is a good sign. 

For those of you that bike often, any newbie or beginner tips? 

Anyone have any must-have jewels of wisdom for cycling with a toddler? 

Any Michigan cycling trails that we must check out? 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

#WipeforWater challenge - Neutrogena Purifying Makeup Remove Cleansing Wipes Product Review

The best part of being part of product review companies such as Influenster, is that I get to try so many great and awesome products that I may have not discovered otherwise.  I love opening my mailbox or seeing the UPS guy pull in the driveway and the anticipation of what products are there.

I received a package of Neutrogena makeup remover cleansing wipes complimentary through Influenster and really like them! They remove my stubborn eye makeup much better than other wipes that I've tried without leaving an oily residue or irritating my skin. They have a light, fresh scent that isn't overwhelming too. I've used them the last week and feel that my skin has responded very well to them with very few blemishes and feeling moisturized and smooth. I would definitely consider purchasing these in the future.

This Earth Month, Neutrogena® Naturals is partnering with The Nature Conservancy to save water. Take the #WipeforWater challenge and pledge to clean your face without using water — and only using Neutrogena® Naturals Purifying Makeup Remover Cleansing Wipes — for 3 days! Then, get sharing about your Neutrogena® wipes with your social networks! For each pledge, Neutrogena® Naturals will contribute $1 to The Nature Conservancy to support water conservation, up to $50,000.

To pledge, check out www.wipeforwater.com

If interested in joining Influenster, click here to join.

Disclaimer: I did recieve this product complimentary, however I do give my honest opinion - the good, the bad, and the fabulous.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Every Day Should Be Earth Day: What You Can Do To Help

Earth Day is right around the corner and will be celebrated this Wednesday, April 22! I've always been a bit of a biology nerd and loved everything Earth science and conservation in high school and college. I loved it so much that I went for a biology degree and at one point was working towards a wildlife/conservation specialist focus. There are many days that I still consider going that route later in life once my little(s), isn't so little and I decide to go back into the workforce.

In our household, we practice lots of ways to stay green and to lower our environmental impact. This not only benefits us in often healthier choices, more physical activity and cost savings, but also is leaving a cleaner and hopefully more bountiful environment for our children, subsequent generations and all the other critters that we share this world with.

So to celebrate Earth Day, here are a few of the ways that we reduce our environmental footprint. Hopefully this may inspire you to make a few changes in your home to become 'greener' and help restore the planet (and save some money at the same time).

  • Recycle - We are lucky enough to live in a community that are strong supporters in recycling. We recycle a lot. We recycle far more than we throw away. This also saves us money because we have to pay by the bag for our trash. We also are planning to start composting soon which will reduce our trash waste and also benefit our garden.
  • Cloth Diaper - When I was pregnant I started exploring our diaper options and was really intrigued (and overwhelmed at times) by cloth diapers. Did you know that it takes a disposable diaper 250-500 years to completely decompose? Shocking, right?! Cloth diapering is super easy, exposes your kiddo to less toxins, saves a ton of money and drastically reduces your waste. You do spend some times and energy washing and drying, but the water and electric use is much less than what it takes to manufacture disposable diapers. We spent about $200 for our diaper stash and it has paid itself off numerous times within the first year. If not able to do it full time, considering trying it out part time (there are times that we use disposable during travel or sickness). Plus, fluff butts are sooooo darn adorable! 
Fluff butt
  • Waste-free lunch - Packing your lunch with reusable containers and real silverware can reduce your carbon footprint by a significant amount.
  • Garden & plants in the home - By gardening we save a ton of money. If not able to garden, shop your local farmers market as doing so will support your local economy and your food will come from a closer source so less toxins are put into the environment during transportation. Our harvest from last years garden saved us so much money since we didn't have to purchase many vegetables through summer & fall. Plants in the home are a great way reduce toxins in the air and has even been shown to provide stimulation to make you more productive.
Our garden
  • Walk more - Ditch the constant use of the car and walk or bike to your destination. If not able to walk, then consider carpooling or taking public transportation. You can often find me taking a walk to the store, park or yoga classes. I get extra activity, get out in nature, burn calories and lessen my carbon footprint. My husband carpools with a co-worker often and this saves us so much money on gas costs as well.
  • Go paperless - Try to print less. Most people have constant access to mobile devices so printing is often unnecessary. Buy digital copies or magazines, newspapers or books. Instead of using paper towels, use old t-shirts for your cleaning needs or use dishtowels to mop up messes. 
  • Use natural cleaning products - Baking soda and vinegar can be used to clean so much. We never buy cleaning supplies anymore and I don't have to worry about my toddler getting into toxic supplies and the residue of using them. It's also very economically savvy.
  • Turn off and unplug - If you're not using something, turn it off and unplug it. Many devices still draw power when plugged in, even if not being used. If not using your monitor (lunch break, meeting, nighttime), turn it off. Unplug your charger devices, toaster, coffeemaker, etc. when not in use.
  • Use a programmable thermostat - This investment pays itself off in no time. There's no point having the heat turn on during the day when you're not home or when your nested in bed under covers. While you're at it, put on a sweatshirt and lower your thermostat a degree or two.
If you're interested in seeing what your carbon footprint is check out the free carbon footprint calculator on The Nature Conservancy website. 

Source: She Knows

What are some of your favorite ways to celebrate Earth Day everyday? 

What's one small way you can help reduce your carbon footprint in the home or at work?

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Influenster #XOVoxBox Review

If you haven't heard of Influenster, then you need to go sign up! I've talked about Influenster before, but will give a quick run down in case you missed it. Influenster is a company that helps link brands and products to consumers. Consumers get products free or highly discounted and in exchange review them (blogging not necessary as they do other social media outlets and surveys). I signed up for Influenster a few years ago and have received so many great and awesome products to try...for free! They send me a box every now and then full of all different types of products to try. Sometimes it's full size products, sometimes trial size and also coupons and promotional codes. If you're interested in signing up go here.

My most recent VoxBox that I received was the XO VoxBox. This recent box has so many fabulous products and I'm really excited that I was able to try them all.

Lots of goodies!

Tide Pods Plus Febreze- These smell amazing! I have been using a free & clear detergent for awhile (since Aiden was born), but these didn't irritate his sensitive skin at all and leaves your laundry smelling so fresh. They clleaned clothes extremely well and got out our everyday stains. These definitely got a good testing with a very adventurous toddler that likes to feed himself and play outside (i.e. get dirty). I loved the convenience of just throwing one in the washer and hitting start instead of measuring with messy liquids. 

John Frieda Frizz Ease Beyond Smooth - They sent me a large sample size of shampoo, conditioner and primer. I have curly hair so fighting frizz and flyaways is a constant concern of mine and I was pleased with this product. It seemed to help combat some of the frizz, but the real test will be using this product in hot and humid summer and for a longer period of time. With continued use you are suppose to see better results (although after a week of use I noticed improvements). I'll likely go out and purchase it to give it another go once the weather warms up. 

Skinfix Hand Repair Cream - I LOVED this product, however I don't like the price of it ($17.99 for 2 ounces at Target). It definitely helped to heal my cracked and dry cuticles and even banished a weird rash that my husband had for weeks. You have to use a very small amount of it so it will go far, but it's a bit above my price budget. It's clinically proven to repair cracked skin and eczema so if that is an issue you deal with regularly, it may be worth it since it did work extremely well.

Colgate Optic White Toothbrush and Built-in Whitening Pen & Express White Toothpaste - I had previously used both of these products before, but really liked them so was pleasantly surprised to get them again. The built-in whitening pen is super convenient for use and storage and my teeth appeared slightly whiter with increased use of the whitening pen and toothpaste. The toothpaste leaves your mouth feeling super clean and fresh.

Lands End - I was sent a promo code to get $25 off a $100 purchase for Land's End product. It was a generous offer, but I didn't use it. They had some really cute clothes to shop online, but I prefer being able to try clothes on. I do have a code to share for others to use if they would like the same discount. Enter VOXLOVE at checkout to receive $25 off a $100 purchase.

Ebay- There was a promotion with this #XOVoxBox to write 2 guides for Ebay and receive a $25 gift card to use on their site. I use ebay occasionally so I took advantage of this and just received my gift card. There's now a VIP Ebay campaign and I'll definitely do it as well for another $25 gift card. One of my favorite things to buy via Ebay is used books. So cheap!

Oh La la! Pretty packaging!
Prettier lingerie...
Adore Me- One of my favorite aspects of the #XOVoxBox was the trial to Adore Me. Adore Me VIP membership is a monthly lingerie service. VIP members get $10 off any style, any time, plus free shipping and every 6th set is free (along with other benefits). You have no obligation to buy or any membership fees.

If you signed up for the VIP membership through XOVoxBox, you got your first set of lingerie free ($49 value). I've been meaning to buy some new bras, so I quickly signed up and soon received my free bra and undies. They're great quality, super cute and fit well (they even have large bust sizes!!!).

If interested, check it out here for more information AND you'll get your first set for $25.