Friday, September 28, 2012

Naturals VoxBox Review: LypSyl Intense Protection LypMoisturize

One of my least favorite things about the cooler weather of autumn and winter is the fact that my lips get dry and cracked.  I have always been obsessed with lipstick, gloss, and balms (seriously, I carry at least 20 lip products in my purse at all times), but when my lips are cracked and sore, it hurts to wear any pretty products on my lips.


The solution to this is Lypsyl.  Lypsyl is an intense lip moisturizer made out of Swedish beeswax.  Which means it is a natural product.  As more and more consumers become conscious of what we put in and on our bodies, it is wonderful to have a natural product for your lips.  The product is also made with shea butter and coconut oil, which means is smells great.  And best of all, it is not tested on animals.


I am loving so much about this product.  It goes on nice and smooth, without making my lips feel greasy.  I feel like the moisture is really sealed into my lips, and they feel soft and supple all day long.  I use the balm as part of my daily beauty routine, as well as carry it in my purse.  I will say, I rarely need to reapply, because the balm works so well all day long.

One of my favorite aspects of the balm is the shape.  The tube is an oval shape, and I feel like it really covers my lips better and with much less mess or waste than traditionally round shaped balms.  And the balm is pushed up in the tube by a little slide on the side in the shape of a bee, a truly cute added detail.


Retailing at around $3 a tube, I think this product is extremely affordable.  And for that price you are getting a product that feels like luxury.  And who would not like a little luxury for her lips?

To learn more, find Lypsyl 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.

Blogfest 2012- Tea Forte Gift Certificate

For several years now, I have participated in an annual blogfest, where tons of blogs come together and giveaway great prizes.  And now, it is time for Blogfest 2012!

Lately, I have really been trying to reduce my caffeine intake.  As a tried and true coffee lover, this is proving difficult, as I love my hot warm mugs on cool autumn mornings.  The solution?  TEA!

I love all kinds of tea, fruit teas, herbal teas, flavored teas.  Just this week I have had blackberry vanilla, pumpkin spice, and rooibos.  Some of my teas even have healing properties.  That is how I came to learn about Tea Forte.  I received a sample of one of their skin smart teas, and I have been a big fan ever since.  And now, I get to share my newfound love of tea with all of you.

One lucky winner will be getting a $15 gift certificate for Tea Forte.  You can order online at their website using this gift certificate.  This giveaway is open to all US residents, and will end on September 30th at 11:59 pm.  All you need to do to enter is fill out the form below.Additional entries may be obtained by following me on several social media sites, and spreading word of this giveaway on social media. Here are links to my various social media sites:

To enter, fill out this form:

Make sure to visit the next blogs on the list!

Midnight Thrillers 
Notorious Spinks Talks Books 
Mochas, Mysteries and More
My Little Pocketbooks
Mocha Girls Read

And be sure to see the main Blogfest site and list of all blogs participating at A Journey of Books.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Pumpkin Pasta and Pumpkin Chili

It is officially Autumn, and you know what that means?  Pumpkin in EVERYTHING!  Coffee, ice cream, donuts.  Normally a lot of the pumpkin goodies that we see this time of year are not very healthy, so, I have decided to try to incorporate pumpkin into more main dishes.  So far I have tried two different dishes, wheat pasta with pumpkin sauce, and pumpkin chili.  Both turned out so delicious that I just had to share.


Wheat Pasta with Pumpkin Sauce

1/2 pound your favorite type of wheat pasta (I used penne)
1- 1 1/2 pound ground turkey or chicken
1 small onion
1 granny smith apple
1 cup chicken broth, divided
1 small can of pumpkin (about 3/4 a cup)
1 cup Fiber One Cottage cheese
ground cinnamon
ground cloves
rubbed sage
minced garlic
crumbled goat cheese and pecans to garnish (optional)

1.  In large skillet saute chopped onion and apple.  When the onion begins to look translucent, add ground meat, and begin to brown the meat.  As the meat browns, add minced garlic and rubbed sage to taste (I do not like a lot of sage, you may like more, use your judgement.)
2.  Put a large pot of water on to boil.  When water boils, cook the 1/2 pound of pasta according to the package directions.  When fully cooked, drain and return to pot.
3. While pasta cooks, fully brown meat.  When meat is completely cooked, remove the meat, onion, and apple mixture from skillet and set aside.  Deglaze the skillet with 1/3 cup chicken broth.
4. Add to skillet the canned pumpkin, cottage cheese, remaining chicken broth, cinnamon to taste and cloves to taste (I like a lot of cinnamon).  Stir together, and heat on medium until bubbly.  When bubbly, stir in meat mixture.  Simmer for 3-5 minutes to fully combine flavors.
5.  Add the meat sauce to the pan of pasta, and fully mix.   Serve with optional garnish of goat cheese and pecans.


Pumpkin Chili

2 pounds ground chicken or turkey
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 large (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 small (16-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (16-ounce) can kidney beans, drained
1 (16-ounce) can black beans, drained
1 (12-ounce) bottle chili sauce
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
crumbled goat cheese to garnish (optional)

1. In a large dutch oven or soup kettle, brown the ground chicken or turkey with the onion. (I browned mine in a small amount of chicken stock, about 1/2 cup.  I added a small amount of chili powder and minced garlic as well, but you do not have to.)
2. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well to mix.
3. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 1 hour.

Ladle into bowls and top with grumbled goat cheese if desired.

Enjoy, and feel free to share!

Friday, September 21, 2012

For the Love of Books and Children

UntitledMost people who know me know that I am a voracious reader, and always have been.  Reading was something I learned to value as a child.  When school was out for the summer, the first thing I did was head to the public library with my parents.  And when school was in session, I often relied on the school library and bookmobile to provide free books.  Any extra money or allowance I got as a kid was often spent on books, but it was never enough, so libraries have always been near and dear to my heart.  I am still a big fan of local libraries, and this summer alone, I read 7 library books.  Last year, in my quest to read and review 200 books, I relied on quite a few library books and librarian recommendations.  I attend library books sales to help support the libraries.  And, when I have books I no longer need or want, I often donate them to our local library.

In short:

libraries = books = awesome.

Which is why it totally broke my heart to hear that Manchester School in Pittsburgh had less than 40 fiction books for the entire school to use.  40 total for grades pre-K to grade 8.  40.  I have easily read that many library books in a year, even as an elementary student.  This really needs to change; this is an urban school, serving urban kids, most of whom are minorities, many of whom are in need.  While other schools have state of the art technology labs, this school is struggling to even have a library at all.  This needs to change.  These kids deserve for it to change.  These kids deserve to know that they are worth the very best, that they can become the very best.  It is not just about books, it is about empowering these children with knowledge and self worth.

Since the story first got out, several people have written about it, the details have been shared by an award winning author (I love you Neil Gaiman), and  the response has been overwhelming.  But we cannot let interest wane.

Today, millions of people payed mega dollars for the newest iPhone, some skipping work to obtain it.  For millions, money is not an issue.  But for these kids it is, which is why I am asking for your help.  For 2% of the cost of the new iPhone, you could buy a book for this school, maybe even two.  And it could help make the difference in the lives of countless children.  Can you please help?

If you are interested in helping Pittsburgh Manchester school, there are a couple of ways you can help.  You can send donations directly to the school at the following address:

Pittsburgh Manchester PreK-8 (label packages for the Library)
1612 Manhattan Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15233

or, you can actually order directly from the school's Amazon wish list, and have it sent to the school.

I just had a book sent to the school.  Will you?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Naturals Voxbox Peek: GeoDeo

As I mentioned, I was chosen to review products in the Influenster Naturals Voxbox.  One of the items in the box that I got to try is the natural deodorant, GeoDeo.  Soon I will be writing a full review on GeoDeo, but in the mean time I wanted to give you all a sneak Peak of the product, and tell you all some exciting news.


The GeoDeo I received is the "Island" scent.  I will be giving lots more info soon in a full review.  In the mean time, for those of you interested in trying this natural deodorant for yourselves, I have an amazing opportunity for you all.  If you purchase a GEODEO Deodorant from, you will receive a FREE MOISTSTIC Lip Balm!! Yes, that’s an absolutely free product with purchase. 

WHAT: FREE MOISTSTIC Lip Balm with purchase of one GEODEO Deodorant!
WHEN: Now until 10/17/2012
HOW: Enter Promo Code “geodeogwp” at checkout!

This is a great opportunity to try a new natural product and get a free product to boot.  (Just so you know, I do not receive any compensation for anyone redeeming this offer, I simply wanted to share it with all my readers!).

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

Disclaimer: I received each product compliments of Influenster for testing purposes.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Cartoons by Hubby: Knock Knock

"Knock knock.  Can I invite you to a nightmare?"

The backstory: I suffer from bouts of terrible insomnia.  And right now I am in the midst of a terrible bout of it, due to a recent uptick in my coffee consumption.  I toss and turn, and I am always worried I will disturb Hubby once he is asleep.  So, it is not uncommon, once Hubby is off in dreamland, for me to go downstairs to read, watch Netflix, or play video games.  Last night was one of those nights, and I tried reading in bed, but I just was not getting sleepy.  I ended up going downstairs, piddling around, and lying on the couch to read.  I fell asleep on the couch, book in hand, sometime after 2 am.  Apparently, at some point, one of the dogs started tapping their nails on the bottom of the crate, and the light tap tap tap made its way into my dreams, spawning a nightmare.  I dreamed that someone was tapping on our door in the middle of the night, and getting no answer, they opened the door and walked into the house.  In the nightmare, I was lying on the couch and the intruder rushed over to me, presumably to do me harm, and it was at that time I noticed that the intruder had the body of a man, in an army coat, but the head of a dog.  It was terrifying, and I literally had to shake myself awake.

Hubby found the whole thing so humorous, he decided to represent my dream in cartoon form.

So.... sweet dreams.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Influenster Naturals Vox Box

A while back, I heard about this thing called Influenster, which is a community where women can share information, and serve as a testing panel for different products.  I was immediately intrigued, and signed up.  You complete different questionnaires about your preferences and lifestyles, so that they can match you up with the correct testing panels for products.  When selected for a panel, they send you things called Vox Boxes, which are boxes full of products to try.  I recently was selected to be a tester of the Naturals Vox Box, which was going to be full of all natural products to try.

Yesterday, after much anticipation, I received my Naturals Vox Box!


Over the course of the month, I will be trying and reviewing all my products from my Naturals Vox Box, so stay tuned!  I will be continuing to add photos of the products to a special flickr photo set too, so check it often!

Disclaimer: I  received each product compliments of Influenster for testing purposes.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Thankful for.... socks and underwear: Project Giving Skivvies

How many of us, as children, had that one relative, possibly even our parents, who insisted on giving us socks and underwear for Christmas and birthday gifts?  What we really wanted was the newest Transformer, or that sweet day-glo New Kids on the Block t-shirt (or was that just me), and instead we got crew socks and tighty whiteys.  To say we were disappointed would be a great understatement.  One of the greatest indicators of reaching adulthood is the day we actually get excited about new socks and underwear.

Most people take these things totally for granted, myself included.  I have never had to worry about having the very basic necessities in life.  Often, we forget how much we are blessed.

Today, on a facebook group, I was gently reminded to be thankful for socks and underwear.  I saw a post talking about the Light of Life Mission, a rescue mission helping to serve the homeless in Pittsburgh.  One of the things this organization provides is clean socks and underwear to individuals (men women and children) in need.  Except, lately, they have had nothing to give.  The organization has been completely out of these items, and had literally been turning away people in need.  They desperately need new socks and underwear for men, women, and children.

There are some ways in which you and I can help.  If you live in the Pittsburgh area, and have some time to stop by, you can drop clean, new, unused socks and/or underwear off at the mission, any time day or night.  Their address is 10 E. North Ave Pgh, PA 15212.

Another option would be to donate online at and put "SOX" in the designation field.

Yet another option would be to purchase items online at a place like Amazon, Target, or Walmart websites, and have them shipped to the mission at Light of Life Mission, 10 E. North Ave Pgh, PA 15212.

Yet another way to donate is through a crowdwise fundraising page set up by another blogger in the Pittsburgh Bloggers community.  The widget for the page is here:

The final thing you can do would be to spread the word to others about this need.  Share this info or blog post on Twitter, Facebook, or blog about it yourself.  If you share it on Twitter, please use the hashtag #givingskivvies

Please consider helping out with this worthy and wonderful cause.  One dollar would buy a pair of socks or underwear for a person in need. Use social media for the greater good.  Help us all be thankful for socks and underwear.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Dear Dr. Noble

Each year, when the summer fades to autumn, and the air takes on a crisp chill, I find myself missing my school days.  So today, I write a letter to a teacher who had a profound and lasting impact, my college English teacher.

photo Dear Dr. Noble,

I read a poem today, and it reminded me of your classroom.  It was "Daddy" by Sylvia Plath.  You introduced me to her 15 years ago, with this same poem.  I still remember the tone of your voice when you said "panzer-man, panzer-man".  I still remember the way you pushed us to reflect upon the pain within the poem.  I still remember the lifesavers you threw at us for offering up our opinions in class.

At the time, I had no idea what you were doing, when you introduced me to these names, Plath, Tennessee Williams, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Shelley, Tennyson.  I had no idea that these names would become my old friends, their ghosts haunting my bookshelf.  I had no idea, when you introduced me to the concept of the Byronic hero, that I would spend many years chasing him, until I was old enough to know better.  I had no idea that, over the course of 5 years, you were shaping my future.

I remember it was my sophomore year, and I was petitioning to take a senior level literature course on Shakespeare.  Everyone thought I was getting in over my head, everyone, that is, except you.  You granted permission for me to take the class, and instilled me with the confidence to succeed.  I got 100% on my final for that class, not because it was easy.  Your classes were never easy, not in any way.  Our grades consisted of a midterm and a final, both blue book essay exams.  I walked into each test with nervous anticipation, yet completely prepared.  The subject matter of your classes was never merely committed to memory; instead, it was inscribed on my heart.

You taught me critical thinking and analytical skills that I employ on a daily basis.  Each time I read a book, each time I sit to write a literary review, I use the skills I learned from the back row of your second floor classroom.  Your classes taught me a deep love, not just of literary works, but of words themselves.  Your classes impacted the way I wrote for every other class during my educational career, and everything I have written since.  Your classes have shaped my mind, and the core of my being.

I remember the very chairs in the room.  I can hear your voice, and picture you sitting atop your desk, leaning forward, off on some digression that in all reality was teaching us to relate the literature to our everyday lives.  You were always the coolest cat around, making class fun, but behind all that was brilliance that could never be questioned.  You love literature in a way that made me love literature; a book will never be merely a book to me, but instead a means of transforming my current reality.

Someday, I hope to write literary works of my own.  Someday I hope to share my love of literature with others.  Someday, I hope to be as brilliant as you are.  If I, one day, am able to impact someone as you have impacted me, well, then I will be a great success indeed.

With highest regard,
A grateful student