Monday, May 2, 2016

Vox Box


If you love getting products to try for free then I recommend joining Influenster, where I recently got the treat VoxBox which was filled with great snack type treats. Influenster is a free-to-join community where you can write or read about all types of products.  There are all types of social media loving people giving their reviews and offering advice/tips.   All you need to do to join is to sign up at the  Influenster Website.  If you look to your right, I have a emblem on this page which will take you directly there.  Once you join, you can start writing reviews of products you actually use.  

Influensters looks at the reviews and picks people to get sample boxes from them.  For instance if you do a lot of reviews on cosmetic products, then you are more likely to get offered a cosmetic themed VoxBox. Not everyone is offered a VoxBox.  It depends on your reviews, social media experience, and more.  You do not need to have a blog to participate or be chosen.  

The folks at Influenster do contact people that they have selected for a particular VoxBox,in advance. This is to see if the potential reviewer is actually interested in a particular upcoming VoxBox before they send them out.  They also list their review requirements for each particular VoxBox in advance so you can make a qualified decision if you want to receive that particular VoxBox. Some are different from others, last month I got an offer for a sports bra related VoxBox that required photographing myself in the sports bra and posting it to social media.  Hmmm....this was not something I would want my kids to see, so I did not sign up for that box. 

Anyway, once the box is received, then you photograph the outer box and the contents.  This is so you can do reviews with photos on the products later.  Each box is specific as to the type of media they want you to review the products on.  For example for the Treat VoxBox, I had to photograph the various contents and include their tags and hashtags.  Then I posted those to Instagram, amazon, twitter, and my blog along with my personal opinion of the products.   

I am selective about which boxes I will commit to receiving because of my school schedule.  I don't seem to have a lot of free time lately.  Plus, this way I get the products I am interested in and more likely to repurchase in the future.



In this box I received:

  • Yum-V's Probiotic Bear Treats
  • Weleda Sea Buckthorn Hand Cream
  • Hills Brothers Cappuccino K cup Sampler
  • Hills Brothers Cappuccino Single Serve Packets and a coupon to share with a friend
  • A coupon for a free Country Crock tub of my choice.


I am a hug coffee fan and really appreciated the sample of 4 of the Hills Brothers Cappuccino k-cups that came free in this Treat VoxBox from Infuenster. 



The English Toffee flavor was the flavor I really enjoyed and used my coupon to purchase more. I have found that there are so many regular Cappuccino and vanilla cappuccino flavors being sold that I really wanted something different. The English Toffee flavor is really good and not over powering.

Hint: use the lowest selection in your Keurig to get the most flavorful cup. I found the medium setting added too much water which took away from the flavor. I liked this K-cup for a nice afternoon pick me up. For me this is a dessert in a cup which is perfect for my busy mom schedule. I have added a picture of the nutritional info and of the k-cups sampler I got so you can get an idea of what the calories and fat content are in this coffee.



The price of the 12 cup pack is a good deal for the quality of the cappuccino. Some people have posted that they have had k-cups melt on them in their Keurig.  Thankfully, I have used six of them without any problems (however, I have a newer Keurig and the heating system is more consistent than my old one was).  [ #CozyCapp #TreatVoxbox / @Influenster ]

The coupon for the Country Crock was also appreciated because they have this great flavored spread called "Country Crock Cinnamon". My daughter loves taking it camping because it is great on bread, pancakes and crackers.  And it is easier to put in tupperware so it can be carried in her backpack than other products might be.  The hardest part is finding in our local Ralphs store.  They do not carry it consistantly, even though we keep asking them to.

The next product is the "Yogi" tea.  I already buy Yogi tea and it was fun to try some new flavors. Their teas are herbal and I find I can enjoy them without the addition of sugar or other sweetness.  I also enjoy the uplifting tea tag sayings that they attach to each tea bag.  


The Yum-V's Probiotic Bear Treats were very tasty.  

They are really sweet and have a light chocolate (bordering on Vanilla) flavor.  I enjoyed the flavor but probably would not purchase this because my daughter ate the other three in minutes so I doubt a box would last long in my home.


If you are a fan of Sea Buckthorn berries then you might enjoy this hand cream.  It does have a citrus scent that is light.  I wash my hands a lot so my hands always feel dry, so I gave it a try. It worked fine but I had to use almost the whole packet to really get them to feel moist.  The product is sold in a 1.7 Ounce tube for around $12.     

Warning: if you are allergic to bees wax then be forewarned that Weleda Sea Buckthorn Handcream product does contain beeswax.  

Once again, if you enjoy trying new products and reviewing them on social media, you may want to consider joining the Influenster community.  If you are, then click on the Influenster button to your right and it will take to the website.


Note:  I was send these products for free by Influenster to sample and review.  





Friday, April 15, 2016

Quick & Easy Home Decor Hand Painted Moon Themed Frame & Box Project



The moonlit night inspired this Moon themed frame with matching trinket box.  The flat blue ceramcoat paint is the perfect backdrop for the deco foil accents that represent stars and planets on this project.  I added the wire on top of the canister as a fun accent that also serves a purpose.  You can either choose to display a favorite photo or write a special message inside the inner frame with the Testors Marker or chalk. The Trinket box can be used to hold your favorite trinkets and it doubles as a note cardholder. I am going to use it to hold my movie tickets.  This project can be personalized even more by using your favorite embellishments to add dimension to the frame and trinket box.

Supplies Used:

·      Therm-o-web Deco Foil Transfer Sheets in Champagne
·      Therm-o-web Deco Foil Foam Adhesive
·      Therm-o-web Zots Singles Clear Adhesive dots
·      Plaid Ceramcoat Chalk Acrylic Paint in Navy Marine
·      Folk Art Multi Surface Acrylic Paint in Bright Gold
·      FolkArt One Stroke Brush (Flat 1”)
·      Testors Enamel Paint Marker in Gold
·      Mini Glue Dots (3/16” Diameter)
·      Aluminum Armature Wire
·      Bead
·      E6000
·      Pliers
·      Wire cutter
·      Paint Brush
·      Paper Mache Photo Frame
·      Paper Mache Canister
·      3 Half Moon Charms from Kathy Davis (http://www.kathndolls.com)

Step 1:

Prepare canister by removing price stickers. Prepare the frame for painting by removing the plastic insert and any price stickers that may be on it.   Paint two coats of the creamcoat chalk paint onto the pieces.  Be sure to paint the entire frame.  Allow paint to dry between each coat.  This paint is very thick and rich.  I love how fast it covers the box.  


Step 2:

Take the Aluminum Armature Wire and Wrap it around the 1” diameter gold paint cylinder twice to form two loops.  Remove the wire from the paint bottle.  Take the plier and make a 180-degree bend on each end of the wire.  Leaving a ½” of wire, cut off excess wire. 



Step 3:

Using the Folk Art Multi Surface Acrylic Paint in Bright Gold, paint the wire gold with two coats of the gold and allow to dry between coats.  If you want a more opaque finish, then add a few more coats.

Step 4:
Cut a piece of the   Therm-o-web Deco Foil Foam Adhesive to fit the top of the canister lid.  Then using a pen or pencil, draw a sun or star shape pattern onto a piece.  Cut out the shape and then peel off the paper liner off one side of the shape.  Adhere it to the lid. 

Step 5:
Then peel off the remaining paper liner off the shape. Take the Therm-o-web Deco Foil Transfer Sheets and place the foil (color side facing up) onto the foam.   To transfer the foil, rub the foil carefully with your finger to burnish the foil.  Carefully peel the foil sheet away from the shape.



Step 6: 
Find center of the canister lid and poke a hole big enough to fit the wire.  Push wire through the hole.  Carefully turn the lid over and then use a bead and E600 glue to adhere the wire to the lid from beneath.  Place it aside and allow it the E600 glue to dry before proceeding to step 7.

Step 7:

Using the glue dots, attach to the frame and canister in a pleasing pattern.  Take the Therm-o-web Deco Foil Transfer Sheets and place the foil (color side facing up) on top of the glue dots.  To transfer the foil, rub the foil carefully with your finger to burnish the foil.  Carefully peel the foil sheet away from the glue dot. 

Step 8:
Take the moon charms and apply some foil glue onto the surface and allow to dry (different brands will have different curing times) until surface is sticky to the touch).   Take the Therm-o-web Deco Foil Transfer Sheets and place the foil (color side facing up) on top of the glue-covered charm.  To transfer the foil, rub the foil carefully with your finger to burnish the foil into all the areas of the charm.  Carefully peel the foil sheet away from the charm. 

Step 9:

Using the Therm-o-web Deco Foil Foam Adhesive cut a piece to fit the moon and use it to adhere the moons to the frame.  Use the Therm-o-web glue dots to adhere one of the moons to the wire.


Step 10:

To finish the project, use the Testors Enamel Paint Marker in Gold to write a personal message or your favorite quote onto the inner frame.  I always do that to any frame the I make and gift to someone to share a sentiment or memory.


NOTE: A big Thank You to Plaid, Therm-o-web, and Testors, who provided me with some of the materials to create this fun moon themed home decor hand painted frame & box project.  

Monday, March 14, 2016

My Visit to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios in California - Part 1



If you are a fan of the "Harry Potter" Books and Movies, then you will enjoy visiting "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter" at Universal Studios in California.

When you enter into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the first thing on the right is the Hogwarts Express.  It is really fun to see in person.  There was even a cool map of the Hogshead station on the wall.

Additionally, Universal Studios has really paid attention to detail in this park.  From the store windows to the Hogsmead sign, letting visitors know they have entered the small town.

The store fronts are bright and filled with colorful merchandise. One of the wonderful things about the new "Wizarding World of Harry Potter" is that the stores inside of that area maintain the Harry Potter theme.  I was so impressed to see so much merchandise that featured only the Harry Potter theme.  You will not see bandaids, batteries, films, etc. displayed in any of the shops in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. However, if you really need them, they can be found in a shop right outside Harry Potter land.  It is just refreshing to see that Universal Studios put so much thought into this park and maintaining the magic of Harry Potter for its visitors.

We started our visit with a quick visit to Honeydukes to check out the candy selection. Half the fun of visiting Honeydukes and Zonkos is the employees.  They are dressed in Wizard clothing and actually interact with the guests (while keeping in character).  They really made the visit fun. The young lady below was showing us the chocolate frogs and asking you guests which house they belonged to.
She really made young guests feel important.
Beyond Chocolate Frogs, there was so much more to be found.  We loved the chocolate wands which came in dark chocolate and milk chocolate.
 The Chocolate Cauldrons were also quite special. They were around the size of a large apple.

Here are some more fun items like Jelly Slugs and Pumpkin Juice.




One of our favorite characters from the movies, were the the Weasley Twins who opened the famous Zonko Store.

Inside the store you can find some really fun products.


The employees at this store are equally as fun and happy assist in the search for

 Luna Lovegood's "Pygmy Puff'.

They even carried the Weasley Twins Extendable Ear which is a working listening device for those


who want to magnify the exciting sounds of those enjoying the park.    It is a small store that is really packed with merchandise.


Monday, February 22, 2016

My Review of "Chalk on the Wild Side" by Lorie King Kaehler

Chalk on the Wild Side by Lorie King Kaehler is a great book for anyone looking for chalk bubbles, chalk spray paint, and chalk recipes to create fun and inexpensive kid orientated activities.  My kids love to draw with chalk.  I even painted our refrigerator with chalkboard paint so they would have a large area to express themselves each day (instead of my walls).

One of my kids had an allergy to store bought chalk and I had to spend hours searching the Internet to find a recipe for homemade chalk, I wish this book had been available then.  I love that Chalk on the Wild Side  offers several recipes for different types of chalk. Additionally, this book takes chalk art from the traditional chalkboard drawings into a bunch of other fun ways to use chalk and create some fun art.




The table of contents is as such:

Introduction

  • Tools & Materials
  • Drawing Techniques
  • Projects:
  • Chalk & Paper
  • Chalk & Pavement
  • Homemade Sidewalk Chalk


The drawing techniques section introduces the reader how to use chalk for drawing techniques like linear strokes, smudging, blending and more.  This book is a great primer to introduce kids to various drawing and color blending techniques in a fun and non stressful atmosphere (one of my kids finds her art class to be very stressful, so this helps).  The author goes through how paper texture can affect how the chalk looks and blends.  There are a lot of really great ideas incorporated into this book.  The photographer Donna Starry did a beautiful job with her photos.  The photos really give the reader a great sense of how to follow the directions and the fun activities that these projects really are.

My favorite project is the chalk volcano project, it is getting warm out here in California and this provides a fun way to spend time outdoors and bring a little science into our activities. 

The recipes are made with easy to find materials such as:

  • Cornstarch or flour
  • food coloring
  • soap
  • plaster of Paris (this should only be used under adult supervision)
  • vinegar, baking soda, salt, etc.
  • Antacid Tablets, etc,
  • essential oils, unsweetened drink mixes, cinnamon etc.
  • candy or soap molds
  • and other easy to find items.

The book also offers fun recipes for glow in dark chalk, fizzing chalk, and scented chalk.  The activities are written so easily, that family can spend quality time making the chalk and doing the projects with out the stress of hard to find items.  Anything I did not have on hand, I easily found at my local dollar store.  If you have kids and they love chalk and wanted to expand their activities, then this book is worth looking at.


Sunday, February 7, 2016

Cray-Pen Colored Pigment Melted Wax Crayon Painting Set by Surebonder | Review


The Cray-Pen Colored Pigment Melted Wax Crayon Painting Set is a fun new way to paint vibrant color to a variety of surfaces, including glass, wood, canvas, paper and more.  I can honestly say that these are not your mothers' crayons!   The Surebonder Cray-Pen Painting Set with 20 Variety Color Pack comes with two different sized copper tips.  This is a fabulous and fun new method of coloring or painting with melted wax colors. This tool is great for adults to express themselves creatively.




As you can see in the video, the tool and colored wax can color wood, canvas, glass and even Easter eggs (not the plastic ones...the hot tip will possibly melt the plastic).  This is really easy to use; you just dip the heated tip onto the colored wax crayon and then color the project with by transferring the wax onto the project. There are eighteen color pucks.  The wax dries in seconds.  Also, projects can be retouched by just dipping the heated tip onto colored wax and transferring the hot colored wax onto the surface of the project. 


There are three palettes of color pucks currently available:

  • Neon Palette
  • Standard Palette
  • Secondary Palette (flesh tones, etc.)

Two Copper tips:

  • Bold tip
  • Fine tip

These are basically large crayons that are produced in a wax tart size that is far easier to use than the traditional thin crayons. 

You can use the different tips to layer colors and to blend colors to create even more bright vibrant colors.  You can also touch up pieces just be dipping the tip onto the wax and touching up the project.  Additionally, you can find a lot of creative ways to use the non-tinted wax for achieving batik style effects on the project surfaces.



The tool and hot wax can be used to color on paper too (like the adult coloring books). 


Because of the pigments used in the wax crayon material, the colors are fairly vibrant which allows for some lovely patterning.  I also pressed stamps onto the wax while it is cooling to get some unusual effects.  However, the wax cools quickly so I had to work fast.  I did paint some canvas with it but I found I needed to show some care while coloring on it.  It could have been the quality of the canvas I was using, so I won't blame the tool for the indentations left on the canvas.

Additionally, I  did play with the product to try to get some "Encaustic Painting” like effects.  I have always wanted to work in encaustic but the price tag of the tools and classes have kept me from doing so. This is a much less expensive way to play around with pigmented wax and find out if you even like the medium without the added expense. .  For those who are not familiar with “Encaustic Painting” is a form of hot wax painting.  The artist melts the beeswax (using various methods) and then adds pigment to it.  Then the melted wax is applied to a variety of surfaces.  Click here to see my Pinterest page on "Encaustic" paintings and techniques.


I used my iPhone to take this video at a recent craft show and it shows how easy it is to dip the heated tool (you will need a plug near the area you intend to work in) in the colored wax and then apply it to the surface of your project.  Allow it to cool for a moment before moving on to the next color, unless you are trying to merge two colors together for effect.  I did find that with a little bit of patience I could even get a marbled effect with this.  Also the wax is buildable, so you can get some fun effects with that too.

Safety: While the manufacturer recommends this for ages 13 and over, the tip gets hot so I recommend adult supervision if you intend to allow a minor to use this.  Just think of it this way:  would you allow a child to use a hot glue gun?  The tip of this tool has to get hot enough to melt the wax crayon material and will burn if touched.

Also, anytime you work with melted wax and pigment, you should do it in a well-ventilated area.  I pop open my window while working and just make sure my project is not being hit by a direct draft.

I love this tool and keep finding new ways to use.   I included some photos in the video of other projects that were on display using the tool at that craft show.  I hope you enjoy it too. The Surebonder Cray-Pen Painting Set with 20 Variety Color Pack can be found on Amazon (I have included a link for this).  I recommend buying the 20 color kit with the fun selection of colors to maximize use of this tool but you can also just buy the tool and use it with crayons.  However, I found that to be messy and time consuming.  The big blocks of colored wax are just so easy to use and do not create a big mess.


Note: This is not a sponsored post, I purchased all my supplies on Amazon and used my own phone to video tape the demo and take some photographs.