Thursday, December 17, 2009

Review: POM Wonderful

In the interest of full disclosure, POM Wonderful sent me a case of eight mini bottles of pomegranate juice. I was not compensated in any other way, and all opinions expressed are my own.

I know that there are certain juices that tend to be better for you than others. Pomegranate juice is one of those. Each eight ounce bottle of the POM Wonderful has tons of antioxidants and other nutrients that we don't often get enough of in this day and age.

POM Wonderful's juice is made with no added sugars, preservatives (keep it in the fridge!), colors, or filler juices. That always makes me feel good, although looking at the nutritional info, the natural sugar occuring in the juice is at a higher level than I like to ingest -- which explains the high calorie count per bottle. This isn't a diet drink, but it's awfuly good!

I am impressed by the care they take in making the juice. We're very careful about the foods we put into our bodies in our house, and we pretty much avoid fake foods wherever we can. We aren't completely organic or even close, but POM grows their own fruit, picks it by hand, and squeezes it in their own presses. That makes me feel much better about drinking it.

I tried the POM Juice first by itself. It's a powerful taste that makes your lips pucker a little bit - truly no added sugar. I actually liked it that way though. The wee ones weren't quite so sure, although Little Miss seemed to like it more as she drank a bit more of it. My mom, on the other hand, never finished her drink. It was just too bitter and tart for her. I happily helped her.

Then I got creative.

I realized that the POM Juice would make for a great mixer. I had a party at my house recently, and I saved a couple bottles of my POM Juice to make Tall Redheads. Tell me the name alone doesn't make it worth the drink?

The Tall Redhead is Pom Juice, vodka, and 7Up. (It's a 3/3/8 ratio, if I remember right.) This drink was the hit of the night. Everyone loved it, and I think we had quite a few converts to pomegranate juice.

Ironically, one other friend brought something other than wine to drink. Her mixed drink also involved POM Juice. Ironic, no? It just goes to show you how popular it's getting now. She had a champagne cocktail that was also out of this world. Drop a sugar cube into the bottom of a champagne glass, add champagne, then top with the POM Juice and a scoop of pomegranate seeds.

When I was looking for my cocktail recipe, I was expecting that I would find mostly drink recipes for POM Juice. I was wrong. On the POM website, there is an entire section of recipes devoted to pomegranate juice and other products they make.

Does pomegranate syrup intrigue you? How about POM gelato? A POM buerre for your poached fish? I unfortunately finished off my eight bottles of POM Juice before I realized the wealth of opportunities out there.

Granted, this is probably not a juice that I will buy every day. However, the next time I'm having a fun or fancy party, I'm absolutely making more POM cocktails. And I might have to go check out a few more of those recipes!

Yum! And the best news? It's easy to find. I checked out the various grocery stores by me, and they all carried it. Even Costco had POM Juice. Give it a try!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Review: e.l.f. Cosmetics

Disclosure: e.l.f. Cosmetics and SheSpeaks sent me 289 pieces of makeup for my makeup party with my friends that also included goodie bags with brushes and the like for those in attendance. The makeup was split amongst those of us attending the party. I received no other compensation, and all opinions are my own.

I've heard about e.l.f. cosmetics for awhile, and I'm sure you've seen the emails floating around with false rumors that the $1 makeup line is about to be bought by Nordstrom and the prices then will go sky-high. I've tried e.l.f. a few times before I had the opportunity for this party. The first experience I had with them was ordering online, and I liked it but not so much that I needed to seek it out when I ran low. The local stores had what I was used to using, and that was just easier. While at BlogHer's conference this year, I attended a suite party hosted by e.l.f., which is where I learned how much things have changed.

e.l.f. doesn't just have their $1 line anymore. They now offer a studio line and a mineral line, both of which compare favorably to brands you're more familiar with at much lower prices. Better yet, e.l.f. is now carried in all Target stores, although my local Target only has the $1 line. When you order online, you have every product they offer, and there's always a special going on.

Needless to say, it didn't take much to talk me into having a party with some friends to try out the makeup. I didn't really get how much makeup 289 pieces is until I actally received the box with the makeup and started setting it all out.

With that much makeup, we had a lot of fun testing it out. Everyone started out sans makeup so we could have a clean palette to work with. Fortunately, I had plenty of beverages so that the embarrassment of being seen without our makeup was soon mitigated.

I was surprised that I found quite a few things that I liked from the selection. Before we started, there was a video we watched to ensure we (sort of) knew what we were doing, and we all learned some new tips and tricks.

I now wear undereye concealer, and the one I discovered is a pencil with a built in sharpener that has a brush on the other end of the concealer. It's so nifty! For $3, you can bet you won't see me walking around with circles under my eyes again.

Their shadow sticks were also some of my favorites (also $3!), although I struggle sometimes to get even application of the shadow. I have the same issue with liquid eyeliner. We tried their liners, and for the most part we liked them, although we discovered that we really need to shake them well before using or they were dry and somewhat flaky. Shaking made a big difference though.

Many of the ladies found that they really liked the all-over cover sticks, which they used in place of foundation. This was part of the $1 line, and they seemed to work well. Others used the mineral foundation. For $5, I'll definitely be using this one instead of the one I currently buy on sale for five times that amount. I was the lucky person to keep the kabuki brush that came with the makeup, and I have to say that I love it. It works well and isn't shedding bristles at all.

I had a hard time finding a blush that I liked, as did one of my friends. We both have a skin tone that tends to turn makeup orange on our faces, which was a struggle. I finally realized that one of the bronzers was perfect, and I've been using this as my blush since. A few of the women used the studio line of bronzers ($3) and are new converts to using a bronzer on a regular basis.

There were a few products that we didn't love as much as others though. The mascaras were a bit dry, and they seemed to clump somewhat. I went back to using my old mascara after the party. We also received some products that we weren't quite sure how to use, and the packages didn't give us much help, such as the shimmering facial whip. We finally figured out that it is a gel like version of shimmer powder, but we all prefer the traditional powder.

My only other complaint about the makeup is that the labeling of the products could be improved. Many of them don't list the color on them (e.g., the concealers, several shadow sticks), which makes it difficult to purchase the correct color on a return trip, unless your memory is better than mine. That's something that is easily fixed, though.

All in all, there are definitely some new converts to the e.l.f. line, myself included. I'm looking forward to my makeup running out and having to buy more -- and that's unusual for me.
Check out some of our before and after photos:

Several of the colors we ended up wearing were ones we would never have dreamed of trying if we were going to the store and buying more expensive makeup. We had lots to play with though, and we were surprised by what really worked well for us. And for $1 or $3 or $5, it's worth a try to see what you like that perhaps you haven't used before.

You can receive free shipping on any order over $25 from e.l.f. by using the code "MUAH" when checking out.  Enjoy!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Giveaway: $200 LOFT Gift Card

This is a compensated review
by BlogHer and Loft.

I received a $200 LOFT gift card in exchange for participating in this event, but all comments and opinions expressed are purely my own and not influenced by this.

Most women love shopping, and I’m generally one of them. Except that now that I’m a mom with two kids, I don’t quite have the time or patience for shopping the way I used to. This is only partly due to the fact that I apparently lost my fashion sense when I gave birth, so I have a hard time finding clothes I like that look good on me.

Enter the LOFT (formerly Ann Taylor LOFT). I’ve always been a fan of theirs and have fond memories of trips to the LOFT in Michigan City to go shopping with friends after I graduated college, although I haven’t spent as much time there lately as I now think I should have.

The LOFT invited me to a holiday event at their store on the Magnificent Mile in Chicago, and I jumped at the chance to have a stylist dress me. We had a 45 minute style challenge (and I was a challenge!). We had to put together three perfect holiday looks: the perfect party outfit, an office to party outfit, ad a casual holiday look.

Poor Helen (my dedicated stylist – I love saying that!). I told her that I was game for everything, but I warned her that I also might veto things, as many things that are fashion forward tend to accentuate features I’d rather avoid. Let’s just say that the whole belting a sweater trend is going to pass me right on by.

With a photographer in tow, Helen and I started touring the store. The music was loud and pumping, as they were having a shopping event that afternoon (visit to find one near you), and I was a little overwhelmed at first. Helen obviously knew the store well, and ohhh those colors and clothes!

We decided to work on the holiday casual outfit first. Helen pointed out a few sweaters that she thought might be a good fit (ha, ha?) for me and left me to peruse the tops and pick out a pair of jeans. We decided that the boot cut was probably the jean I wanted, and then Helen said something to me that made my day. It was probably the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me.

Don’t bother trying the curvy jeans. You are not curvy. You have really nice legs, and you don’t need the curvy ones.

I almost cried when she said that. I grabbed a pair of jeans that looked good – feeling like a celebrity with my paparazzi snapping trillions of photos of me. However, I decided to let Helen chose my top. She pulled out a great midnight blue silk sleeveless blouse to go under a fun beige sweater that had all sorts of cool, drape-y layers to it. While I liked the sweater, I had no idea what to put under it, and I would never have even tried the blue blouse. She also picked out a truly funky matching necklace to finish it off, and we headed into the dressing room.

The jeans were amazing. In fact, I bought a pair of them because they fit so well. Usually when I buy jeans, they fit in the waist and the thighs and everything, but there is some excess material under my rear that isn’t the most flattering. These were perfect. Yay! One sixth of an outfit was complete.

Apparently my thinking face is crabby. I certainly hope that Helen knows that I wasn’t unhappy with any of this. This is an outfit that I tried on first that I had to think about.

The sweater unfortunately did not work for me, but we loved the blouse. We kept working and pulling out other options (Helen was very patient with my vetoes – I may not know what I like, but I’m still picky) of things that were really quite cool but just not quite perfect for me. Then we had the brilliant idea of switching out the blouse for a different color so we could do a black sweater over it.

Ta da! Fuscia blouse with matching necklace and the black sweater to fun casual finish it off. You know I liked it when the whole outfit came home with me. And none of it was on sale (ok, except that during the shopping event, the whole store was 30% off!). One down, and I was a happy camper.

(Have I mentioned that I hate pictures of me? Especially when I’m having bad hair days. And they aren’t candid photos? I make a horrid model!)

The second outfit was the office to party look. This one went pretty quickly, as we found a cool suit that I would never have chosen for myself. It’s a cut that I’m going to have to remember, as it was surprisingly flattering. This was one of the best parts about this event. The whole outfit I would never have chosen – I don’t wear suits that often anymore, I would never have picked up that print for myself, and the cut of the jacket would have meant that it would have stayed on the rack. Yet, check it out – it totally works.

Our last outfit was the truly fun one. I got to dress up in my perfect party outfit. Again, Helen chose a skirt and top that I would never have picked up for myself – that skirt was so much shorter than what I usually wear! – but they were great together. I definitely needed something to put on top of the blouse, but LOFT had several good choices. We finally narrowed it down, and sadly my day of glory with people who dress me was over.

I wandered back out into the store sans my personal photographer, and I looked around at some of the clothes that I’d missed before. They really had some great stuff, and I was able to quickly fill my arms. Now that I wasn’t being whisked through the store, it wasn’t so intimidating or overwhelming. I came home with a very large bag (which I’m sure was part of the reason they invited me!), and I’m wearing one of my brand new sweaters right now. My mom even commented on how much she loved it, and she never notices what I’m wearing.

The people in the store were so nice. Everyone from the store manager to the associates working the floor were as friendly as can be – even when they didn’t know I was there for something “special.”

The event was so much fun, and I’d forgotten how much I love the LOFT. I didn’t even get to see the whole store, but I’ll have to visit the store closest to me soon to do a closer look. I wasn’t the only one who benefitted from the LOFT’s generosity, and you can, too. There were fourteen other bloggers around the country who also enjoyed this special event, and we’re all giving away $200 gift cards to the LOFT– that’s fifteen chances to win a $200 gift card! special offers page

Want to win one here? Make sure you follow the rules, and I’ll be drawing a random winner on December 25.

Even if you don’t win the gift card, you still win. Go to the LOFT for this exclusive 20% Off Coupon for your in-store purchases (valid through 12/31/09).

This contest is open until December 25 at 9pm CST. I must have a valid way to reach you, so leave me your email address in your comment or be sure your profile has your email address visible. No duplicate comments will count. This giveaway is open to US residents age 18 and older. Winners will be selected via and must respond within 48 hours of being notified by me or I will select a new winner.

Mandatory Entry: You must vote for your favorite of the three outfits I was dressed in: holiday casual, perfect party, or office to party and tell me why you liked it best. If you don't do this one, no entries will count.

Bonus Entries (leave a comment for each entry):

Earn one additional entry for Tweeting this contest (leave a link to your tweet as your comment).
1) Earn one additional entry by blogging about this contest and leaving a link to your post in the comments.
2) Earn one additional entry by following this review blog.
3) Earn one additional entry by following my “regular” blog Honest & Truly!

Good luck!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Giveaway: Movie Moment Prize Pack

Disclosure: I received a coupon for a free box of General Mills cereal and four movie passes in exchange for this review, but the opinions presented are solely my own.

I love going to the movies, although I've done so far less regularly since the wee ones were born. In fact, the last time I was at the movies on a regular basis was on Mister Man's due date when I saw Finding Nemo.

That's partly due to time and the cost of finding a babysitter, but also I lack the motivation to some degree. Having two small children puts a damper on any sort of social life, as I'm sure many of you know.

General Mills recognized this, and started up a new promotion called the General Mills e-movie cash. You can receive a free movie ticket when you purchase two specially marked packages of General Mills´ Cereals. After purchasing two cereals, visit to enter the code found inside each box of cereal and print your free movie certificate.

Participating brands include select sizes of: Honey Nut Cheerios, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Lucky Charms, Trix, and Reese´s Peanut Butter Puffs.

The Movie Cash certificate is valid for any showing of any movie at participating theaters -- and there are a lot of them, anywhere from Cinemark Theaters to Regal Cinemas and more. To fit the list of all the eligible theaters, I think the font is in six point type!

Now that's motivation to go see a movie. So we did, since there are four of us and I received four movie passes. This was Mister Man's second movie ever, and Little Miss's first. Amazingly, they both sat still for the whole movie. They thought it was the coolest thing ever, and I'm saving this as a reward for good behavior in the future.

When we got to the theater, we had no problems with the coupons for the tickets, which was a little bit of a worry for me. Fortunately, the cashier took them and figured them out immediately, so there was no hassle at all.

And really, with children around, who doesn't go out and buy cereal on a regular basis? You don't want to know how many cereals we have at my house -- and I even make my own from scratch!

You have until June 30, 2010 to enter your codes into the website, and the certificates are valid for 60 days from the date you print them. Win-win, no?

Go, buy some cereal (especially the Cinnamon Toast Crunch, which was one of my favorites growing up).

Or you can win your own Movie Moment prize package here that includes four free e-movie certificates (each valid for one admission up to $12) and a coupon for a free box of any one General Mills cereal courtesy of General Mills via MyBlogSpark.

You have until December 14 at 8pm CST to enter. I must have a valid way to reach you, so leave me your email address in your comment or be sure your profile has your email address visible. No duplicate comments will count. This giveaway is open to US residents age 18 and older. Winners will be selected via and must respond within 24 hours of being notified by me or I will select a new winner.

Mandatory Entry: Tell me the first movie you remember ever seeing and what you remember of it or the first movie you took your child to see and how it went. This must appear in the comments below or none of your entries will count.

Bonus Entries (leave a comment for each entry):
1) Earn one additional entry for Tweeting this contest (leave a link to your tweet as your comment).
2) Earn one additional entry by blogging about this contest and leaving a link to your post in the comments.
3) Earn one additional entry by following this review blog.
4) Earn one additional entry by following my “regular” blog Honest & Truly!.

Good luck!

Giveaway: $200 Visa Gift Card

This is a compensated review from BlogHer and Sprint

I received $75 in compensation in exchange for sharing my (I hope) funny story about a holiday road trip.

Want to win a $200 Visa Gift Card? Read on for my story, and share yours for a chance to win. Plus, seven other bloggers and BlogHer are giving away additional $200 Gift Cards. Visit the special offers page - you've got 9 chances to win a $200 Visa Gift Card!


Everyone always wants to go home for the holidays, especially the recent college grads who like to pretend their independent and above it all but really just want some home cooking and laundry and comfort.

The first Christmas after I graduated college, I was living in Chicago in an apartment by myself. My family was in Minnesota, and I was thrilled to be flying home. Me being the cheap me that I am, I flew out of Midway because it saved me a good $30 on the ticket.

I took the orange line out to Midway and waited for my flight to take off. Silly Chicagoans, they canceled my flight due to the heavy snow falling. And they canceled the rest of the flights heading out of Chicago to Minnesota that day, too. Since it was Christmas Eve (it’s cheaper to fly then, ya know), I sort of needed to get home.

When I asked what I could do, the lovely gate attendants offered to book me on a flight out of O’Hare – the other airport in Chicago – as they hadn’t canceled flights. I’d have to get there on my own, and the flight left in three hours, but it was doable.

I hopped in a cab and was on my way to my second airport of the day. Taking the el back to the city and then out to O’Hare was cutting it a little close for my flight. Of course, since it was snowing heavily, traffic wasn’t exactly moving.

Almost two hours into the drive, I realized I wasn’t going to make that flight no matter what I did. We were still on the highway and not exactly close to O’Hare. It was about then that I looked at the cabbie’s meter.

It was at $78. And this cab didn’t take cash. And I’m not one to carry a ton of cash on me (I’m still not, in case you’re thinking about mugging me someday). I quickly opened my purse and fished out my wallet to discover that I had exactly $80 on me.


I quickly asked the cabbie to drop me off at the closest bus station, which fortunately was at the next exit. He took all my money, and he wasn’t nice about it either.

By this point, I was starting to get a little panicky. Everything that could go wrong was, and all I wanted to do was just make it home. This being back in the age of the dinosaurs before everyone had cell phones, so I picked up a payphone and called my parents collect.

After reassuring them that I was alive, I decided that I’d play the brave, strong woman. I told me parents that I wouldn’t be able to make it home for Christmas this year. Instead, I’d head down to Holy Family Cathedral in downtown Chicago to go to Christmas Eve midnight mass by myself. It would all be ok.

I hung up the phone and pulled my fare card out of my wallet – I could at least afford to take the el back to my apartment! – and started the journey back to my apartment, spinning tales in my head about how sad the situation was and how tragic a figure I made. I cried silently to myself as I walked through my door.

It was about then that I realized I didn’t know where Holy Family was, and walking there (since I had no cash, remember) for midnight mass was probably not going to happen. I wish I could remember what I ate for dinner that night, as I’m sure it only adds to my comic tragedy. I have to assume it was something like macaroni and cheese. From a box. This was in the days before I really knew how to cook well.

Around 2 in the morning, my parents called. They had driven down from Minnesota to pick me up. They picked up my suitcase that was still packed, and we all climbed into my parents’ car to drive home in time to celebrate Christmas morning at my parents house. Or at least what I remember of it.

But hey – every story has to have a happy ending, right? Fortunately, I learned all the appropriate lessons from that trip, and knock on wood, I’ve managed to avoid so many woes trying to get home ever since then.

So what’s your funniest holiday road trip story? Share your story in the comments below, and you can win a $200 Visa Gift Card.

This contest is open until December 31. I must have a valid way to reach you, so leave me your email address in your comment or be sure your profile has your email address visible. No duplicate comments will count. This giveaway is open to US residents age 18 and older. Winners will be selected via and must respond within 48 hours of being notified by me or I will select a new winner.

Please see the official rules here: Official rules

Mandatory Entry: You must leave me your best holiday road trip story in the comments below or none of your entries will count - or you may leave a link to your post on your own blog in the comments below.

Bonus Entries (leave a comment for each entry):
1) Earn one additional entry for Tweeting this contest (leave a link to your tweet as your comment).
2) Earn one additional entry by blogging about this contest and leaving a link to your post in the comments.
3) Earn one additional entry by following this review blog.
4) Earn one additional entry by following my “regular” blog Honest & Truly!

Good luck – and I can’t wait to read those road trip stories!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

JumpStart Contest Winner

Congrats to Jennifer for having random integer #2 in the JumpStart giveaway. She won a 3 month subscription to the JumpStart website!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Giveaway: JumpStart Membership

I remember as a child playing some of the new technologically advanced games of the day -- Space Invaders on my Atari, the Smurf game on my uncle's ColecoVision, Oregon Trail on the Macs at school, and eventually Ultima III on my home computer with my dad. The wee ones? It's a whole new world. Literally.

I was given a membership to JumpStart to try out, and we are having so much fun with it. My only real experience with gaming today are WebKinz that Mister Man has and a little bit of an educational site called Starfall.

JumpStart is like a custom catered twelve course meal compared to the McDonalds of what I've experienced before.

When you start out, you create your own avatar called a "Jumpee" that is completely customized with hair and eyes and lips and clothing and more. It is incredibly realistic and moves so smoothly. They are so well done that it is almost too realistic for me in that there are too many variables to think about. We're adjusting though.

I love that JumpStart has educational component as well as just pure entertainment parts to it. When you log on, you start in the "village" and can choose to go into any number of different worlds from the brand new Future World (where you can earn coins by correctly answering math and language arts questions or play games visiting future or ancient worlds) to MarineLand to AdventureLand, and more.

Each world is labeled for the approximate age range, which helps me out greatly. StoryLand is the one that best suits Little Miss (ages 3-5) while Mister Man enjoys hanging out at AdventureLand or MarineLand (5-8 for both). The new FutureLand is aimed at the 8-10 year old set, and some of those questions really make me think. "What three digit number is between 400 and 600 with the second digit half the third?"

As you enter each land, you are given an introduction to the area by the character that inhabits it. This takes you into a little vignette and makes it clear what your goal is for each world. My one main frustration with JumpStart is that my personal computer loses the volume whenever we go into one of those vignettes. I can hear the background noises, and I can hear the movies that I've played there, but the character vignettes are inaudible. The engineers at JumpStart aren't quite sure what makes me so special, but when we play this on my dad's computer or my husband's, the volume is just fine.

Fortunately, there are great help buttons as part of the navigation, so I'm able to determine what we're supposed to be doing for the most part. StoryLand is a challenge, as it's designed for kids who don't yet read, so I have to do a lot of guessing and MarineLand has some verbal riddles I'm supposed to solve, but beyond that we've made do quite well.

Little Miss and I play it for a few minutes most morning while waiting for her bus to come. She can do StoryLand by herself, as it is purely mouse-driven, but she also really enjoys it when I "help" her with the more advanced worlds and the games within there. Granted, I'm not figuring out syllables or the times tables with her, but there are lots of things that just tickle her (and me).

Since we've been trying out JumpStart, there are a number of innovations that they've made, which really goes to show how they're ensuring that this will continue to be something that holds kids' interest. MarineLand and FutureLand have both been introduced within the past month. For Halloween, the whole town was decorated appropriately and also included a fun haunted house (don't ask how many times we went through it).

While JumpStart is a site that you can enjoy for free, the free portion of it is somewhat limited. You can access StoryLand, AdventureLand, Buggy Racer, and Ghost Town Grab, as well as buying some items from the Threadz Store, but you don't get full access to the worlds (and you don't get MarineLand or FutureLand, which are our favorites.

The paid membership also allows you to download programs to your computer that are appropriate for preschool through second grade. The cool thing about these programs (aside from just being cool themselves) is that you can track your children's progress individually on the software downloads so you can see what they're learning. I love that parent-friendly touch.

One of the fun features is that you can set up individual avatars for each person in your family once you become a member. Mister Man has his own coin earnings and star rating and dude, while Little Miss has hers. I love that there's no fighting over who something belongs to or what someone is doing because it's like they each have their own membership.

That also comes in handy as you start to adopt pets, another new feature that adds another layer of interest for kids. To be honest, there are so many facets of JumpStart that I haven't been able to explore them all. I'll keep working on that, and the wee ones are more than happy to help me.

The only other kind of odd thing for me was that there was no log off button. When you're done playing, you simply close the window. To me, I feel like that's missing something, but that is the way it's set up for now, and it works fine. I just like logging off.

So what about you? Are you ready to become a member of JumpStart? Head over to their site. You can try it out for free to access parts of the site. Membership is $7.99 per month for as many children as access your account.

Want to win it instead? I'm giving away a three month membership to JumpStart's website to one lucky reader. (And I do mean lucky. It's possible I keep playing JumpStart even after Little Miss has hopped on the bus.)

This contest will run until Tuesday November 10 at 9pm Central. The winner will be chosen by based on the valid entries received. You must provide me with an email address or the ability to contact you via your profile or you will be unable to win. The winner will have 48 hours from being notified to contact me, or I will choose another winner. Leave a separate comment for each entry to make tallying that much easier for me!

Mandatory Entry: What was your favorite computer game growing up? Other entries won't count if you don't do this one!

Bonus Entries:
1) Follow this blog. (one extra entry)
2) Follow Honest & Truly - my "regular" blog. (one extra entry)
3) Visit the JumpStart website, and tell me something new that I didn't mention above. (two extra entries)
4) Tweet this giveaway, and post the link below. (one extra entry)

That's it! Five easy ways to enter to win access to this oh so fun world. And if you'll excuse me, I have some math to go practice.

I did not receive any compensation for this review. I was granted access to the JumpStart website. The opinions expressed here are purely my own -- and my family's.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Oops - And Ringling Brothers Offer

I realized today that I somehow neglected to post the winner for the Connect 4X4 game. I suppose I should have a good excuse, but work and PTO stuff blowing up combined with a lack of sleep just doesn't quite seem to cut it. I promise, this is VERY unlike me, so without further ado, below is the winner (and I promise to be more prompt in announcing this going forward!).

The lucky number from was 29.

That makes independentmami the winner!

Congrats to her!


And on another note, Ringling Brothers Circus is coming to town. The new show is called Zing, Zang, Zoom, and I can't wait to go see it. It's coming to Chicago specifically (Nov 5 to 29) but is also touring the country stopping everywhere from Wilkes-Barre to Toledo to Detroit and more.

This show includes magic in addition to the standard circus fare with elephants and clowns and tigers. The wee ones have never been to the circus, and I haven't been in years. I can't wait.

And best of all, I have a special deal for you!

Purchase a 4-pack of tickets for only $44 (Valid Monday-Thursday and Friday Matinees, excluding holidays) and save $4 on all weekend shows by logging onto and entering the coupon code: MOM.*

Allstate Arena in Rosemont, IL
November 5 – 15, 2009

Thurs. Nov. 5 – 7:00PM
Fri. Nov. 6 – 10:30AM & 7:00PM
Sat. Nov. 7 – 11:30AM, 3:30PM & 7:30PM
Sun. Nov. 8 – 1:00PM & 5:00PM
Wed. Nov. 11 – 7:00PM
Thurs. Nov. 12 – 7:00PM
Fri. Nov. 13 – 7:00PM
Sat. Nov. 14 – 11:30AM, 3:30PM & 7:30PM
Sun. Nov. 15 – 1:00PM & 5:00PM

United Center in Chicago, IL
November 17 – 29, 2009

Tues. Nov 17 – Community Night
Wed. Nov. 18 – 7:00PM
Thurs. Nov. 19 – 10:30AM & 7:00PM
Fri. Nov. 20 – 10:30AM & 7:00PM
Sat. Nov. 21 – 11:30AM, 3:30PM & 7:30PM
Sun. Nov. 22 – 1:00PM & 5:00PM
Tues. Nov. 24 – 7:00PM
Wed. Nov. 25 – 7:00PM
Thurs. Nov. 26 – Thanksgiving
Fri. Nov. 27 – 11:30AM, 3:30PM & 7:30PM
Sat. Nov. 28 – 11:30AM, 3:30PM & 7:30PM
Sun. Nov. 29 – 1:00PM & 5:00PM

*Use promotional code MOM when purchasing tickets at Arena Box Offices, or by calling 1-800-745-3000. Enter Code in the “MC Promotions Box” on Ticketmaster. Minimum purchase of 4 tickets required. Not valid on Circus Celebrity, Front Row or VIP seats. No double discounts. Service charges and handling fees may apply. For this promotion to work, don't select the "best available" seats in the section. Instead, choose Lower Level or Upper Level depending on your preference. Or choose the $11 ticket price with the promo code MOM. (Yes, I've walked a few friends through this one already!)

I can't wait to show you my pictures from the event.

* I have received no payment for this discount information. However, my family has received tickets to the opening night of the circus.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Kleenex Winner and Other Opportunities

Congrats to ...

Number 44 per, which was:

Jennifer - Eighty MPH Mom!

I'm sending an email now. She has until Tuesday night to get ahold of me, or I'll select another winner.


This one isn't directly from me, BUT you can win a brand new Frigidaire (oooo, I want it, I want it!) Double Wall Oven (back, back, this is MINE!). Jennifer Garner has partnered with Frigidaire to create a really important campaign called "Make Time For Change" that supports Save the Children's US Programs.

For everyone who goes to Frigidaire's website and raises their hand with a pledge to make time for a child, Frigidaire will donate $1 to support the CHANGE program and Save the Children's work to help children in need in the U.S.

And in addition to that fuzzy feeling you get from doing something good, everyone who pledges their time will be entered for a chance to win a new Frigidaire Professional double wall oven! Those in the market for top-notch new appliances should also know that, for every new Frigidaire Professional double wall oven sold, Frigidaire will donate $100 to Save the Children's U.S Programs as part of their $250,000 commitment to this worthy cause.

What are you waiting for? Let's go make a difference today!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Giveaway: NEW Connect 4X4

Do you know what tonight is? I'll give you a clue:

Ok, so that wasn't so much a clue as completely giving it away, huh? Yep, tonight September 23 is first official National Family Game Night. It's put in on conjunction with the turnoff week, and it fits right in. Go grab someone and play some games tonight. It's one of those things that we don't do as a family nearly often enough, but we love it when we do.

I was lucky enough to be sent some games for my family to play last week, and oh boy have we been taking advantage of this!

I have an "adult night" set up with some friends this weekend to test out The Game of Things, and I can't wait. Basically, you get prompts and have to write down your response. All the responses are then read aloud, and you have to figure out who said what.

For example, "What would you do with chocolate?" While I could go with the easy "eat it" answer or the staid "bake with it" response, I think if I were playing I'd have to write down "swim in it." Now, this isn't as weird as it sounds -- working in Chicago, there is a chocolate factory west of the loop that you can smell on humid summer days. It always smelled so good and was so thick in the air, it felt like you were swiming in it. That's always stuck with me. And really -- who would guess that would be my response?

My personal favorite game so far is Bop It. I haven't shared this with anyone else yet. The game shouts out commands (twist it, pull it, bop it), and you have to do what it says, a new twist on Simon. It's a great stress reliever when I'm frustrated with work, and I'm happy to say that I've passed the novice level with flying colors.

Mister Man's absolute favorite is the new Connect 4X4 game. When we were in Florida in August, the hotel had this game to loan. And we borrowed it more days than not. The little sucker is pretty good and almost beat me the first day! This Connect Four is a little more complex, as you can play with up to four people, and it has two layers you can use to make your row of four. Plus, you can use special blockers to prevent other people from playing in spots. It definitely takes some more strategy, but while the game says it's for ages 8 and up, Mister Man is having the time of his life with this!

We have also tried out the Guesstures game, which is essentially a fancied up charades game -- and may I just say that my husband is horrible at this one? His math brain really shows up when he tries to figure out how to express something. It's a fun party game though, and we may pull this out, too, when we have our friends over this weekend.

And finally, we were sent four new card games from Hasbro. Mister Man is also into go fish, and I was getting a little tired of just the one game, but we now have a few new tricks up our sleeve. There's Monopoly Deal, which is a little above him; Crazy Old Fish War, which has added some fun variety into our old favorite; Scrabble Slam, which he's starting to learn but is a little challenging; and the Littlest Pet Shop Go Fish!, which Little Miss thinks is the coolest thing ever. She's taken this one over as her own personal game and made my parents play it over and over and over.

Those aren't your only options for game night though. Pick up any of your favorite games from Monopoly to Cranium to Sorry! to Clue to Candyland. This is something that we need to do on a more regular basis, and we're looking at setting up a regular game night at our house.

I also got some tips to make family game night more fun, and I'm going to use some of my favorites!

Fun food “pairings”: A special family game night menu will make everyone look forward to the festivities. Serve fun finger foods that are easy to eat during game play, such as hamburger sliders or chicken fingers. A make-your-own sundae bar is a sweet treat for dessert before or during game night. Or, use a family recipe to make your family game night unique.

Create a tradition: Whether it’s the way that teams are selected, a 30-minute bedtime extension, or having everyone play in their p.j.’s, establishing an activity on family game night that becomes a family tradition will create even more excitement around game play for everyone in the family.

Keep a family scoreboard: From week to week, recognize the family member who won the last family game night by posting their name on a special scoreboard that receives a place of honor on the refrigerator. Or, create a family crown that can be worn by the winner at dinner or during the next family game night.

Mix it up with “special guests”: To expand the fun, invite other families in your neighborhood to participate in a family game night tournament. If you have extended family members living in the area or if you are traveling during a scheduled family game night, invite everyone to participate!

Choose your favorite, and go play tonight. Hasbro has updated several of their games this year to make them even more fun and challenging than they were when we were growing up from Monopoly to Clue in addition to introducing new games like Pictureka!

In this economy, I'll take any cheap entertainment I can get, and game night definitely fits the bill. Do you want to play, too? You can win your very own Connect 4X4 here.

To enter, complete the mandatory entry below. Bonus entries are available but will be disqualified if you do not do the mandatory entry. This contest will run through Sunday October 3 at 9pm CDT. The winner will be selected by and will have 48 hours to respond after being contacted, or a new winner will be selected. US addresses only, please. If you don't have your email address accessible via your profile, please be sure to leave it in your comment or you're out of luck.

Mandatory Entry: Let me know what your favorite games were growing up, or what you love playing with your families today.

Bonus Entries (If you do not complete the mandatory entry, these will not count!):

1. Visit Hasbro's website and let me know a game there that you haven't played before but that looks fun.

2. Follow this blog, and leave a comment letting me know (if you already follow, let me know that, too).

3. Follow Honest & Truly! my "regular" blog, and leave a comment letting me know (if you already follow, let me know that, too).

4. Tweet about this contest, and post the link of the Tweet below (one additional entry).

Good luck -- and go have some fun tonight!

Note: While I received the games listed above for my family, I received no monetary compensation. The opinions expressed are my opinions alone.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Giveaway: $50 Visa Gift Card And Kleenex Anti-Viral Tissues

I heard a really interesting presentation earlier this week by our school district's nursing supervisor. And by really interesting, I mean freak me out oh no this is going to be bad yikes I almost wish I didn't know this.

We talked swine flu.

In some ways, I feel better. Like the part about how ninety-nine percent of people who catch swine flu are going to be just fine. It's that other one percent that I'm worried about, especially since it's comprised primarily (but not all) of those with chronic illnesses -- like Little Miss -- and others with compromised immune systems.

Then there was the discussion about how there is no immunity towards it. About how we have no defenses other than prevention for this particular strain. How there is a vaccine that is going to be coming out in mid-October (although given what I've read I'm not 100% comfortable with it, but that's a whole 'nother post) but that supplies will be limited and not everyone who wants it will be able to get it.

Oh, and that little part about how ninety-eight percent of flu cases this summer in Illinois were swine flu. Yes, you read that correctly, ninety-eight percent. They aren't even testing people to see what strain it is anymore. They don't want people coming to the doctor, just calling with symptoms.

I'm generally not a fear-monger, but this is scary stuff, and I can only hope that it's being blown out of proportion.

And did I mention that they're expecting thirty to fifty percent of people to catch the swine flu this year? I don't want to be one of those people. We're washing our hands. We're eating healthy foods. We're coughing and sneezing into our elbows.

And now I have another weapon, thanks to Kleenex. Kleenex sent me their new anti-viral tissues to try out. They kill 99.9% of cold and flu viruses, including the common cold, influenza A and B, and RSV. Granted, this isn't tested against H1N1, but it still makes me feel a whole lot better.

Inside the Kleenex are these little blue dots. When the blue dots get wet, they're activated and it's that layer that kills all those viruses that hit the tissue within fifteen minutes.

Considering how often we've been laid low with colds, colds that turned into pneumonia and bronchitis, and RSV with Little Miss (the rest of us just catch the common cold), I'm excited to have something else in my arsenal to avoid a four day hospital stay for Little Miss. Granted, the hospital we go to has a great cafeteria, but that's not enough motivation for me to want her to get sick.

Anyway, I tried out the Kleenex tissues they sent me, and I gotta say... I like them. I'm a tissue snob just like I am a toilet paper snob. I do not buy generic. When I get sick, I go through a box or two a day, and I need my Kleenex soft and gentle. I'm already crabby enough being sick; I don't need a chapped, painful nose to add to it.

These Kleenex actually feel softer and thicker than the other Kleenex I have at home. Knock on wood, I haven't been sick in the week plus that they sent these to me, but I have had some allergy issues, and my nose is happy.

I was a little bit worried that they were going to have a scent to them, as I can't use some of the tissues with menthol, etc because the smell makes me sneeze, which defeats the whole purpose of blowing my nose to begin with. These tissues have no scent whatsoever, even with the little blue dots.

I'm happy. And I'm about to go stock up.

You can stock up with me and hopefully make sick days a thing of the past! One lucky reader will be sent two boxes of Kleenex Anti-Viral Tissues as well as a $50 Visa gift card.

This contest will run until Sunday September 27 at 9pm CDT. To enter, you must first complete the mandatory entry or no other entries will count. If you don't provide me with a valid email address or way to get ahold of you, you can't win. The winner will be selected via and will have 48 hours to contact me or another winner will be drawn. US addresses only -- sorry!

Mandatory Entry: Let me know how you plan on Battling the Bug this season, and don’t forget to check out!

Bonus Entries (If you do not complete the mandatory entry, these will not count!):
1. Visit Battle The Bug and tell me something you learned that I haven't mentioned yet.
2. Follow this blog, and leave a comment letting me know (if you already follow, let me know that, too).
3. Follow Honest & Truly! my "regular" blog, and leave a comment letting me know (if you already follow, let me know that, too).
4. Tweet about this contest, and post the link of the Tweet below (one additional entry).

Good luck -- and don't forget to cover that cough with your elbow!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Giveaway: Green Gift Bag

Congrats to Cheryl F. at the Lucky Ladybug! If I don't hear from her by 9/25, I'll draw a new winner.

This past week, my family has been trying to go green in an area where we don't usually do so well. And I'm guessing we aren't the only ones. Paper products are our problem.

I haven't been able to convince myself to buy cloth napkins to use on a daily basis, and considering the laundry pile I have now and the cost of them, I don't see it happening anytime soon. Instead, my husband tears off a paper towel for each family member for every meal. That's a lot of paper towels. Thankfully, we now use the "you choose your own size" kind of paper towels, but it still makes me uncomfortable.

While I do at least use our dish towels for most spills and other items, my husband doesn't. And we use a lot of them for cleaning things like windows (ha ha ha -- oh I made myself laugh there) or cleaning off the deck table before we eat. I'm realizing that I'm actually not a big user of paper towels, so I'm placing the blame fully on the rest of my family.

And of course toilet paper, but I've yet to find a way to replace toilet paper, and I'm not looking.

I feel a little bit better now. SCOTT Naturals™ sent me a sample of some of their new products to test out -- napkins, paper towels, and toilet paper. They're all made from recycled content, which makes me feel much better. That includes not just the product itself but also the packaging (20% recycled plastic).

I made my family use the napkins, and they thankfully work fairly well. I can verify this after having cleaned up two milk spills in the same meal using only the napkins on the table. They held up pretty well, and that's really all I can ask of a napkin. Plus, I feel better.

And did I mention it has a smart opening? All you do is open the perforated edge and you can take out as many napkins as you need without having the rest of them then get all messy in your cabinet. This is a huge improvement for me, and it's actually one of the reasons I don't use napkins more often, having replaced them with the neater to maintain paper towels. I can't stand the mess they make in my cabinets.

I was pretty leery of the toilet paper though. I have to confess that I am a toilet paper snob. I buy only the triple ply quilted extra thick stuff. I'm pretty sure part of the reason I have the bladder of a camel and refuse to go to the bathroom in public is that I know they'll have icky toilet paper.

While the SCOTT Naturals™ toilet paper (which they call Tissue btw) isn't quite in the same league as my ummm spoiled bottom toilet paper, it's so much better than I expected. It was actually shockingly soft. I'd compare it to a normal two ply toilet paper roll. Personally, I probably wouldn't buy it, but that is my own personal issue. If I were a normal person, the toilet paper would be great -- in other words, no one else in my family noticed a difference. You can look at the roll and see that it's pretty hefty (and has pretty quilted designs).

And the SCOTT Naturals™ paper towels? They're a touch rougher than my usual paper towels, but I was happy to see that their commitment to the environment continued with the choose your size option I've grown to love with my "other" brand. It didn't break apart at all when I or my husband used them, and they cleaned up his coffee mess (or so he told me) quite nicely. This is a product I'd switch to over my current brand.

The other benefit? I was able to clip some Box Tops for Education from these guys! I didn't even realize they participated in this program, but with Mister Man's kindergarten collecting them, I clip them whenever I see them. Yay, SCOTT Naturals™ !

Scott Naturals has also teamed up with Kathi Lee to produce several vignettes illustrating easy ways to green your own home. Check out the videos here for some ideas.

To celebrate the nationwide availability of these products, SCOTT Naturals™ is offering one lucky reader a Green Gift Bag – a reusable tote filled with SCOTT Naturals™ product coupons, a reusable water bottle, green light bulbs, and cleaning products from Clorox Green Works.

This contest will be open until Wednesday September 23 at 9pm CDT. The winner will be drawn via and will have 48 hours to contact me or another winner will be selected. Leave me your email address or another method to contact you, or you'll be out of luck. US entries only, sorry! Read the entry instructions below, as ineligible entries will be deleted.

Mandatory Entry: To enter, leave a comment below letting me know one step you’re taking to go green at home.

Bonus Entries If you do not complete the mandatory entry, these will not count:
1) Follow this review blog. If you already follow, let me know (one additional entry - leave an extra comment).
2) Follow my "real" blog over at Honest & Truly! Again, if you already follow, let me know (one additional entry - leave an extra comment)
3) Go check out the SCOTT Naturals™ site and tell me something you learned from it that I didn't mention above (one additional entry).
4) Tweet about it and post the link back here (one additional entry).

Good luck!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Review: Disney On Ice 100 Years Of Magic

Wow. That's really a good summary of it, but I suppose I ought to say more. The other night, Feld Entertainment kindly invited me to go see Disney on Ice at the United Center with my family.

I haven't taken the wee ones to too many "events" because they tend to be ummm not really something I'm that interested in (so I make my parents take them if my parents insist on going) or because it's too expensive to justify. Disney on Ice takes away both those excuses.

First, they are still at the United Center until Sunday September 13, and you can get tickets for $44 for a four pack (with $11 additional tickets). Good seats are still available, as my friend who is now going on Sunday in row 16 can attest. She bought her tickets yesterday after Mister Man didn't stop raving about it the entire twenty-five minute drive to school. Just visit Ticketmaster and use code MOM.

While I was treated to this (thank you again, Feld Entertainment!), if I weren't going to a football game on Saturday and a birthday party on Sunday -- yes, at Pump It Up, shockingly -- I'd take the wee ones again.

It. Rocked.

The skaters told many of the traditional Disney stories from Pinocchio to Beauty and the Beast to The Incredible to The Lion King and more. Partway through the first story, I was pretty impressed at who they hired to do the voices because it sounded a whole lot like Robin Williams as the Genie in Aladdin. Well, I finally figured it out partway into the song that DUH! that's because they took sound clips from the movies to do the majority of the scenes. It was the little touches like that which really made the evening special.

I missed most of the scene changes because I was so captivated by the stories and the singing. There was a castle backdrop that looked like the traditional Cinderella castle. Until it transformed into the Chinese castle from Mulan. Until it changed into something more appropriate for Toy Story. Until it was more like The Lion King. How they did all that I don't know ... especially because I never saw it happening.

The wee ones loved it. Little Miss is a little ball of energy who never sits still. She stayed in her seat. Generally without moving, except to periodically wave at the characters who really interacted with the audience. Or to clap. Or sometimes to tell me excitedly that she'd just seen another character she recognized. That just doesn't happen.

The show is broken into two acts, with an intermission so
more goodies can be sold
everyone who needs to go to the bathroom can do so. I took that opportunity to take Little Miss to the bathroom to put on her pjs -- see smart mama!

As we were walking up the steps, she thought the show was over. She looked at me with her eyes shining and face bright with excitement. I loved it, Mommy. I just loved it! That was her summary.

If you're not in Chicago, you aren't out of luck. This is continuing to tour until just after the new year. See cities and dates below. I believe the code MOM will work for all these shows, but don't quote me if I'm wrong on that. It's always worth a try, right?

Sunrise: September 17-20, 2009
Dayton/Cincinnati: September 17-27, 2009
Miami: September 23-27, 2009
Auburn Hills: September 30 – October 4, 2009
Charlotte: October 8-11, 2009
Philadelphia: October 14-18, 2009
Atlanta: October 14-18, 2009
Oakland/San Jose: October 14-25, 2009
Fairfax: October 21-25, 2009
Sacramento: October 28 – November 1, 2009
Baltimore: October 28 – November 1, 2009
Uniondale: November 10-15, 2009
Houston: November 11-15, 2009
NYC: November 17-22, 2009
East Rutherford: November 24-29, 2009
Denver/Broomfield: December 3-13, 2009
St. Paul: December 9-13, 2009
Los Angeles: December 17-20, 2009
Toronto: December 18-27, 2009
Anaheim: December 22-27, 2009
Philadelphia: December 23 – January 3, 2010
Boston: December 26-29, 2009
Ontario: December 30 – January 3, 2010
Cleveland: January 8 -18, 2009

So go. Really. Go.

The only thing I was disappointed by was my camera. I realized I don't have a sport setting (I took no flash pictures!), so my pictures aren't great. I'll upload them tomorrow to leave you with a sense of what you'll see -- or at least a blurred image of our experience. Someday I'll get a "good" camera.

Even better, I've heard rumors that there will be additional shows from Feld Entertainment coming up over the next several months that may (may) include ticket giveaways and more discount codes, though I can't promise they'll be quite this cheap! Keep a lookout for those.

And yes, I still have Disney songs going through my head. And it's forty-eight hours later. And the wee ones are still talking about it. I may have spoiled them forever. But it was all worth it.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Review: L'Oreal Color Of Hope

This is a compensated review from BlogHer and L’Oréal Paris.

L’Oréal just launched their annual limited line of makeup called Color of Hope to raise money for ovarian cancer. This is something they’ve done every year for the past twelve years to raise money for ovarian cancer research. And – lucky me! – they sent me the Color of Hope Cosmetics bag to try out.

The L’Oréal Paris Color of Hope Cosmetic bag – the one I’ve been playing with – will be available for purchase beginning in September 2009 for only $29.95. Purchases can be made online via while supplies last. L’Oréal Paris will donate $5 from each cosmetic bag purchased to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund (OCRF).

The Color of Hope line offers individual products for eyes, lips, and nails in two shades: mauve (everyone looks good in mauve) and teal (the symbolic color of ovarian cancer). You can buy these at Walgreens, CVS, and the like. For every product purchased, L’Oréal is donating $1 to OCRF. Visit the L’Oréal Color of Hope site for more information.

Ovarian cancer research is near and dear to my heart. When I was in college, one of my best friends from high school had an ovarian cancer scare. After months of invasive tests, she was luckily determined to not have ovarian cancer.

One of my suitemates from that same year in college wasn’t so lucky. Shortly after her son was born almost seven years ago, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She fought it off and went into remission, only to have it come back again. And again.

We had our ten year college reunion two years ago, and the cancer returned the following spring. I saw her when she was happy and healthy and so proud of her son. She was a single mom, and she was gorgeous and proud, and she sparkled.

I heard from her the next spring that her cancer was back, but she was fighting it off again. She was convinced she would. Last fall, she wasn’t feeling so well, but she continued to fight. This spring, she was informed that her cancer had spread to her ovaries. That was the last straw for her ravaged body. She passed away a little more than a month ago, leaving behind a little boy who just wants his mommy back and a mother who is now raising her grandson. And a legion of friends who don’t understand how she could possibly be gone. Who are still struggling to understand how she could beat back the breast cancer but succumbed so quickly to ovarian cancer.

Thank you, L’Oréal for supporting the research that will maybe one day allow a woman like Wendy to raise her child herself. One day.

Before I start crying again myself, let me get to the review. To be honest, knowing that L’Oréal is donating money to ovarian cancer research, I’d probably buy a cosmetics bag in support regardless of the quality of the product.

The good news is that the money you’ll spend on this kit is well worth the price. I love eye shadow quads. They color coordinate so I don’t have to, and they allow me to play for day or night. There were two versions in the bag, neither one of which I would ever have chosen for myself.

Day one I tried the teal set. Wow, it looked good. This is apparently why I don’t go makeup shopping by myself. It promised a long lasting smooth shadow that wouldn’t crease. I scoffed at the idea that it wouldn’t crease. By early afternoon at the latest, I have to duck into a bathroom daily to wipe that line of shadow away. I didn’t with this makeup. In fact, when I went to take off my makeup before bed, I could find only the smallest collection of shadow in my crease. Whoo hoo! The eye makeup lasted through the day. Already, I’m happy.

So what do you think? This was me before I headed out for the day.

The second day, I tried out the mauve set. Again, I would never choose these colors for myself, but they actually looked pretty good. It was different from what I normally wear (ummm, brown and taupe and more beige), and it really picked up the color of my eyes. I like to think it made me look younger, too. Since it was a Friday, that night I touched it up with the darker colors to go a bit more dramatic. It was dramatic and definitely more than what I normally do, but it was really fun! And again, no crease issues.

There were also lip products provided. The lip gloss is one of the long lasting lip glosses. I was skeptical. I tried them when they came out, and my lips were dry and cracked within a day. And the lip gloss flaked off with those products, so I was a bit leery of any long lasting claims.

When I lifted out the wand, it smelled good. When I applied it, it really smelled good. I love lip products that smell good enough to eat! And the six hour promise? It didn’t make it quite six hours, but it was pretty close. I applied it before breakfast, and it didn’t come off as I ate my cereal and drank my smoothie. It didn’t even leave a mark on the straw I was using. After lunch, I could still feel a little of it, but it was mostly gone then, and I reapplied.

The lipstick also smells really good. When I first started applying it, I didn’t think the color was vibrant enough to show up on my lips, and I was a little disappointed. Then I looked in the mirror again, and it showed up. It’s a great color that’s warm and inviting without being too bold. It didn’t last as long as the lip gloss did, and I prefer the lip gloss to the lipstick, but trust me, I’ll use up that tube!

Jealous? You don’t have to be. You can buy your very own Color of Hope cosmetics bag here.

I’m not the only one who’s had a chance to check out the L’Oréal Color of Hope products. Other BlogHer reviewers are also taking it for a test drive. Check out what they have to say here (embedded link) Check out BlogHer's special offer page for more information.

PS If you’ve been touched by ovarian cancer, you aren’t alone. L’Oréal has also partnered with CancerCare to launch the L’Oréal Paris OCRF Hope Line to provide callers with counseling, support, and financial guidance. This free service is available to anyone affected by cancer. Please call 1-877-OV-HOPE-1 for support.