Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Bump in the Night

Photo Courtesy of Mickey
I love Halloween.  I like scary movies, I like haunted houses, I like being scared.  Each year, Hubby and I go to a different local haunted attraction, and each year we have a blast.  We went to a haunted house in the South Hills of Pittsburgh a few weeks ago, and I loved every second of it.

Another thing that is tradition for Hubby and me involved the Paranormal Activity movies.  We watched the first one through Netflix, and from that point on, we have seen them in the theater.  It is kind of our "thing".  Which is why, last Friday, we met up after Hubby finished work to get dinner, and then head off to see Paranormal Activity 4.  We saw an early evening show, so we were home by ten (we are wild and crazy I tell ya!).  We spent time with the dogs, and watched some tv, then shortly after midnight, headed upstairs.  I immediately fell asleep, while Hubby stayed up for a bit longer.

The next thing I know, I hear the dogs downstairs going CRAZY.  Not just a "I need to go out" bit of barking, or even a "there is someone here" barkfest.  Oh no, this was a full on "INTRUDER INTRUDER DANGER WILL ROBINSON" bark mania.  So, obviously, it woke me up.  Hubby was getting up to see what was going on, when we hear a knock at the door.  At this point, I glance at the clock, and see that it is 1:20 am.  I was not pleased.  We both flew downstairs, and Hubby turned on the porch light, to find a short, middle aged woman on our porch.

We then opened the door (in hindsight, I realize this may have been dangerous, but hey, I was still half asleep).  The woman asks "Is this the Floogendoogen House (name has been changed to protect the privacy of our neighbors)?" to which I snappishly replied NO.  She then asks us if we know where the Floogendoogens live, to which we again respond NO.  She tearfully explains that her son is at their house, and she needs to pick him up, but she does not know where they live.  She looks at us like we are crazy, and we are probably looking at her like she is crazy, and then she just sort of drifts off of our porch, and leaves.

Needless to say, we were spooked.

I don't know why she decided to knock on a stranger's door, and why she chose our house.  I do not know why she could not have tried contacting her son by phone or why she did not know where her son was at 1:20 am.  All I know is she scared the crap out of us.  Perhaps it was the influence of the scary movie we watched, but I was convinced that she was some insane person, who had a son who died many years ago, and she wanders around aimlessly looking for him.  It was beyond bizarre.

As we calmed the dogs down and tried to get back to sleep, curiosity got the best of me.  I did a quick internet search of the name Floogendoogen and our town's name, and sure enough, that is the last name of the people two doors down from us.  Not sure what that says about us, that we are so oblivious to the names of our neighbors, but I was relieved to learn that she was at least looking for an actual house in our neighborhood.

The whole incident was really unsettling, and it made me ponder something.  Each year, we pay money to people and places that are designed to scare us.  But when an actual scary situation occurred, we were both upset by the fright.  I suppose we could have saved ourselves a few bucks.

I would like to note that the Friday night scare did not deter me from taking photographs the next day at a creepy cemetery.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Influenster Makeover

Many loyal readers may have noticed that I did quite a few reviews of products I received in my Naturals Voxbox from Influenster.  But some of my readers may not be aware of what Influenster actually is.

Influenster is a community of people with active online lives, using various forms of social media (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, G+, Instagram, YouTube, etc.), as well as active offline social lives, to talk about products and organizations of all kinds.  Once you become an active part of this community, you can qualify for perks and reward programs.  The most coveted program is the VoxBox program, where influential community members receive themed boxes of products, like my Naturals VoxBox.  Some of the other recent themed boxes have included boxes for moms, brides, and Latinas.  When you get a box, the idea is that you try the products out, review them, and interact with other members of the community to talk about what is good or bad about the products.  It is a really fun way to let your voice be heard, all while discovering great new products!

Recently, the Influenster site underwent a huge makeover.  At first, things were a little shaky.  It seemed like the new site launched before certain parts were finished, almost like a soft roll out, and there were a lot of bugs.  But, kudos to the Influenster team for patiently address all questions and concerns, many of which were posed by angry or frustrated members (myself included).  As the days passed, more and more of the parts of the site were up and running, with most of the bugs fixed.  I think the frustration of the members just goes to show how eager we all were to jump in with both feet, because we really do love Influenster!

Under the new revamp, you get an overall score, and the opportunity to unlock various badges based on your interests.  Some of those badges are "expert" badges, where you get subscores.  These scores are entirely based on the activities you do on the site, and help determine your eligibility for future programs.  Since this is a new part of the site, we are all still learning how it works, but trust me, it is exciting to see your scores go up!

The highest compliment to any site is that we invite our friends to try it out.  Each Influenster member is given 5 invitations to start.  All five of mine have already been sent.  Clearly, I love Influenster and want to share it with my friends.  If you have never heard of Influenster, you should try it out.

A word to the wise, though.  Do not go there just expecting to get free "stuff".  In order to qualify for programs, you have to be an active member of the community.  I was a member for many months before qualifying for the Naturals Voxbox.  But it really was worth it.  It was really fun trying new products and sharing my thoughts with other members.

I hope new programs on the site continue to roll out.  I also hope I get more invitations soon, as well as the ability to unlock more expert badges.  Clearly, you can tell I am hooked.  Try it, you might get hooked too!

Remember you can view photos of my Naturals Voxbox contents here, and I started a board for it on Pinterest as well!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Naturals Voxbox Review: The Original Dish Drying Mat

Although we do own a dishwasher, we rarely use it.  I feel like it rarely gets the dishes all that clean, and I often end up rewashing them.  That ends up wasting water.  As a result, we almost always hand wash our dishes.  And since I cook a lot, we have a lot of dishes.  Often, we have more dishes than will fit in our dish drainer.   While you can set the dishes on the counter, they do not drain properly, and the counter gets soaked with water.

Enter the Original Dish Drying Mat.


Made of high absorbency microfiber, the Original Dish Drying Mat is a much better solution than dish towels.  It absorbs much more water, while cushioning the dishes.  The mat can be machine washed, and folds up for easy storage.  And it just looks nice.


I tried the mat out with the items that take up too much space in our drainer: bowls, cups, and mugs.  The mat fit conveniently on the counter, and the dishes sat securely on the mat while drying.  The manufacturer suggests that you allow the mat to fully dry between uses.  I wonder if the mat will take on a sour smell, the way wet dish towels tend to do.  It will take more uses to determine.  If the mat does start to smell, it can be machine washed.  I imagine you would not want to use fabric softener on it, however, as that may reduce its absorbency.

So far, I am quite pleased with my Original Dish Drying Mat.

See all my Naturals Voxbox photos on Flickr and my Naturals Voxbox board on Pinterest!

Disclaimer: I received a complementary sample from Influenster for the purposes of testing and reviewing the product.  All opinions are original and honest.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Naturals Voxbox Review: Country Life Maxi Hair supplement

Anyone who knows me knows that I change my hair a lot.  Usually, that change involves changing the color. So sometimes my hair needs a little TLC.  While special shampoos can help, I have found it best to try to improve my hair from the inside out.  That usually means eating a healthy diet and drinking lots of water.  But now, there is something else that can help: Country Life Maxi Hair .


These dietary supplements can help improve the overall health of your hair, skin, and nails.  Two tablets are taken each day.  I tend to take mine in the morning, first thing, with a large glass of water.  Like any supplements, the pills are pretty big, and not exactly pleasant tasting, but with a good drink of water, I never have any trouble.  At a cost of about $17.99 a bottle, the cost is comparable to other supplements, and these can be found in most stores that carry vitamins and supplements.


Over the course of the few weeks I have been taking the supplements, I have noticed a few things.  My hair tends to grow fast, so I have not seen a significant increase in the rate of hair growth.  However, my hair does seem stronger, and more of my natural curl is apparent.  Also, I have a tendency to lose a lot of hair with each washing/combing, and I have noticed a reduction in the amount of hair lost since starting the supplement.  But by far, the greatest change has been in my fingernails.  They are growing so much faster now, and are stronger.  They split and break significantly less that they did before I started the supplements.

The only negative side effect I have seen is that the color of my urine changed to a bright fluorescent yellow.  I know that it sounds a bit odd, and kind of gross, but it could be alarming to someone not prepared for it, so I thought I would mention it.  Increasing my water intake helped reduce this.  Other than that, I have only seen positive results from this supplement.

See all my Naturals Voxbox photos on Flickr and my Naturals Voxbox board on Pinterest!

Disclaimer: I received a complementary sample from Influenster for the purposes of testing and reviewing the product.  All opinions are original and honest.

Naturals Voxbox Review: CleanWell Natural Hand Sanitizer Wipes

Many times, we get our hands a little messy, and we do not have easy access to soap and water.  Increasingly, hand wipes and bottles of sanitizing gel have become purse staples.  I know myself that I currently have two or three little purse sized bottles of hand sanitizer.  However, sometimes the alcohol in those gels leaves my hands feeling sticky, or dries them out, especially this time of year.  Which is why I was excited to learn about CleanWell Natural Hand Sanitizing Wipes.


CleanWell uses the power of thyme oil to help sanitize hands in a natural way free of harsh chemicals. I love that these wipes are free of alcohol.  When I tried the wipes, at first the smell seemed a bit strong, but once I used the wipe on my hands, the smell became less overpowering, and had a nice clean and fresh smell to them.  The wipes left my hands feeling soft, not at all dry or sticky.  The best word I can us to describe these wipes is refreshing.


I have very sensitive skin, and these wipes not only did not irritate my hands, but on the contrary seemed to help soothe them.   I also appreciate that these products were not tested on animals.  The individually wrapped wipes are great for carrying in your purse, and the ingredients are so gentle they can be used on children.  I can imagine these would be perfect for wiping down things like shopping cart handles to help prevent the spread of germs.

All in all, I found this product to be a great natural alternative.

To learn more, find CleanWell on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

See all my Naturals Voxbox photos on Flickr and my Naturals Voxbox board on Pinterest!

Disclaimer: I received a complementary sample from Influenster for the purposes of testing and reviewing the product.  All opinions are original and honest.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Naturals VoxBox Review: EBOOST

So many of us have crazy busy lives, running here and there, multitasking, phone in hand constantly.  And sometimes we just need a little extra bit of energy, pep, vim and vigor.  Often, drinks that increase energy can lead to a crash, or the jitters, or are packed with sugar and calories.  Just when you think you have to compromise, or simply lack energy, you get a little boost.  An EBOOST to be exact.


EBOOST is a natural energy boosting drink that also serves to boost mood, immunity, and focus.  It is chock full of vitamins like C, D, and B-12, is made with green tea, and best of all is naturally sweetened with Stevia.  But, how does it taste, and more importantly, does it work?

I had a chance to sample the orange flavor.  First thing I noticed was that the packet was a convenient single serve size, great for carrying in your purse.  It easily mixed into a glass of water, and I liked the fresh orange smell (it did not have a fake citrus smell, which made me happy).  I tentatively took a sip, not sure what I was getting myself into, and was pleasantly surprised.


I found the taste to be actually refreshing.  The orange flavor was just right, not to strong, not too weak, and did not taste overly artificial.  It was not sickeningly sweet, nor did it have a bitter aftertaste.  In short, it tasted like a healthier, more natural version of the orange drink that we got in school as kids.  I easily finished the glass in a few minutes.

I tried this on a day when I had a lot of errands and plans for the day.  The weather was dreary and had be dragging, so I thought this was the perfect time to get a boost.  I found I easily had the pep in my step to make it through the entire day without feeling tired.  I never felt like I had a crash, the way I often do on energy drinks.

My favorite thing about the drink was that it did not hurt my stomach.  Often, with energy drinks packed full of caffeine, they hurt my stomach and cause me to feel jittery.  Neither of these things occurred when I tried EBOOST.

All in all I was very pleased with the results of EBOOST, and think it makes for a great alternative to sugary energy drinks.

To learn more, find EBOOST on Facebook and Twitter.

See all my Naturals Voxbox photos on Flickr and my Naturals Voxbox board on Pinterest!

Disclaimer: I received a complementary sample from Influenster for the purposes of testing and reviewing the product.  All opinions are original and honest.

Monday, October 1, 2012

And the Winner is....

I am pleased to announce that the winner of the Blogfest 2012 giveaway is...



Your $15 Gift Certificate for Tea Forte will be on it's way!