Friday, January 9, 2015

FitBit Flex

My DH surprised me with the FitBit Flex, that I've been eying up, for Christmas. I was so excited when I opened it, that I plugged it in to charge and set it up as soon as I saw the last light lit up!

I've done some research online to find out how to get the most out of my FitBit Flex, but there were still some gaps that I've since figured out and wanted to share. If you are like me, then I hope this is helpful!

The FitBit comes with 2 bands (Small and Large), the FitBit itself, a usb charging unit, a wireless dongal for your computer, and is used with FitBit Connect on your computer and/or the FitBit app on your mobile device. I use the FitBit app on my iPhone 6 for the most part. All input is done using the app or by logging in on your computer.

First thing that the information doesn't share is that you can set your own goals. You don't have to stick with the default ones. I know this may sound straight forward, and it is really, but it isn't mentioned. For instance, the default daily steps goal is 10,000...I work at home and spend a lot of time sitting at my desk for work, so that is a completely unreachable goal for me - even when I am quite active. I changed my daily step goal to 5,000 and found that it was challenging and also much more realistic for me. You can see, I've also set a lot of the other goals to fit my own personal needs.

Next, I just want to show the dashboard. You get a lot of good information from this. Although, you can double tap your band throughout the day to see how far you've gotten toward your daily goals (each light represents 20% of your goal), it doesn't give any other stats.

Right now it is too cold for me to walk or run outside (this is just a personal preference), so I am doing my activities indoors. I tend to ride a stationary bike for the most part. Sometimes I will do a yoga DVD or follow a YouTube video. But because these sorts of activities log very few if any steps, you have to actually log them manually. I didn't think to do this the first time I rode my stationary bike with my FitBit...duh! My stationary bike tells me things like distance ridden, calories burned, and time spent, which makes it very easy to log. You get a much more accurate representation of your activity level when you manually log these sorts of things. I am going for 30 minutes every other day at the moment.

The sleep tracker is a great feature of the FitBit Flex. You tap the band when you are going to bed to turn it on and then tap again when you wake up to turn it off. I find it very interesting to look at the log each day. At the end of each month, you get a recap from FitBit and it will tell you things like how long it takes, on average, for you to fall to sleep and how restful your sleep is. You don't have to use this feature, but I really find it useful.

Finally, the last 2 features are the Calorie Log and the Water Log. I hate counting calories. I find it tedious and time consuming. However, I do see the relevance. The integrated database seems to be quite comprehensive, but if you don't find what you are looking for it is very easy to add custom items. If your aim is to get control of your caloric intake each day, this feature is very helpful! The fact that it shows how many calories you have left based on the calories you've burned, and that it updates throughout the day, makes me very happy. It's the little things...I find it very helpful to add in what I plan to eat for the day each morning so that I have a good idea as to what my day looks like calorie-wise.

I already drink mainly water each day, and I tend to have no problem hitting the recommended amount, but having a visualization of what I've drank helps me to stay on track and also encourages me to stay away from more unhealthy drink options.

I've only been using my FitBit Flex for a few weeks now, but it is so easy and the technology involved speaks to my tech junkie personality. I can see this being my tracking option of choice for quite some time. I'm excited to see how the activity tracking works when I am able to get back to running outdoors!

Do you have a FitBit Flex or any other wearable tracking device? What do you like/dislike about it? Have you found any interesting ways to get more out of it?

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Sephora Haul: VIB Status

After generously receiving some Sephora gift cards for Christmas, I wasted no time spending them! Sephora is one of my favorite places to shop, for obvious reasons, but generally I am overwhelmed when I walk in and just stick to the things I know. Although I do tend to repurchase things that I know I like, I do still like to try new things.

With all of the beauty bloggers/vloggers doing Vlogmas in the last month, I have written down quite a few things on my Wish List, and I took full advantage of this trip. I even reached VIB status! I've always been a Beauty Insider, but now I feel like a whole new world has been opened to me...and millions of others...well, I was excited about it! Oh yeah, I guess you want to know about what I got...

First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads
Caroline Hirons, skincare goddess, has spoken about these in her YouTube videos numerous times and also on her blog, so I knew I needed to try them! I am not all that jazzed over manual exfoliators (ie. cleansers with scrubby bits in), but chemical exfoliators are a different story. My skin is quite sensitive though. I know this brand is known for being sensitive skin safe, and this product is exactly that. It doesn't burn, or itch, or make my skin feel dry and tight, and it has no scent. I noticed a difference in my skin after the first use! I use one pad on my face and neck each night after I cleanse. I purchased the smaller pot to test before splashing out on the big one, but I am sure I will be repurchasing the bigger one when these run out.

Caudalie Beauty Elixir
Another much hyped product in the beauty blogger/vlogger world, and with due course! I'm not sure exactly what it is about it, but it's just so nice. It can be used as a toner after cleansing, as a facial mist anytime, or even as a makeup setting spray. It has quite an herbal/natural scent which I really like, but many people can't get past. Personally, I think that is part of its appeal. I use this mainly as a toner after my morning cleanse. It is super refreshing and because it is a bit of a bi-phase product (had liquid and oils that you have to shake up before using) it feels very moisturizing on the skin. I have repurchased this a few times now, but I really think it has become a regular part of my morning skincare routine.

Soap & Glory Butter Yourself
If you've read my blog for awhile now, you will already know how much I love Soap & Glory as a brand. I think their moisturizers are some of the best on the market right now. This body butter is my favorite though. It has AHAs in and they are great for skin - namely gals like me who struggle with what I call "chicken skin" on the backs of my arms from time to time. I started slathering this stuff on my arms and legs nightly before bed and I've not had a problem since! Plus, the scents of the entire range is AH-MAZING! This is my third tub, and I will continue to repurchase it.

Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Dragon Girl
This is a total Anna, from ViviannaDoesMakeup, inspired purchase. Much like Estee, from Essie Button, everything she talks about - I HAVE to have! These girls are just on point when it comes to hair, beauty, fashion...everything! So back to the product...Anna has been raving about these lip pencils for ages now, and I just had to know what all the hubbub was about. I picked up Dragon Girl, which is a pinky orangey red because I tend to love these colors. Let me preface with this:  I've NEVER worn a red lip before. It's not that I dislike the color. I've just never had the balls to try it. I think what Anna says about preferring matte bold lips is true. I swiped this onto my lips when I got it and fell in love! The color is great, the formula is great, and I now need ALL of them! Thanks Anna :)

What do you think?!

Estee Lauder Pure Color Envy Lipstick in 120 Desirable
My final purchase was another YouTube beauty guru inspired one. Anna from the Style Diet, and also the SacconeJolys (my absolute favorite daily vloggers), has a love of nude-y pink lip color just like I do. So when she mentioned that she was using and loving this lipstick, I knew I had to have it. It is a great opaque ballet pink color. It is a bit of a drying formula, but if you use a good lip balm, it won't be an issue. The smell of these lipsticks is so good too - like cake almost. I think the best part of this lipstick is the packaging...yes, I know packaging shouldn't be a deal maker or breaker, but you and I know it always is. The tube is weighty and navy blue with gold ends, and it's magnetic! There is nothing more satisfying than closing the tube. Try it sometime, seriously! It is a pricey tube of lipstick, but it is super long lasting (on me) and feels much more expensive than it is.

What have you picked up from Sephora lately? I'm always up for trying something new!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Happy New Year! (2015)

Happy 2015 Everyone!

What an amazing year 2014 was...

Although I didn't meet my goal of 3 blog posts a week for the entire week, I did manage to get up 60 posts during the year! This is a huge improvement from the previous 2 years, and I consider it a WIN. I plan to continue growing my blog in the new year, but I think it is probably best not to put a number on it. After all, it's when we put a set number on things, that we can never seem to measure up. Growth is always good though, so let's just shoot for that shall we.

I had an extremely busy year with work, and I hope to expand upon that in 2015 as well. My youngest goes off to school in the Fall, which is bittersweet, but will give me the opportunity to take on more career-wise.

As we all are, I do plan to establish a more healthy lifestyle this year and really make headway in that department. I think the most important element here is that it's not a diet/exercise plan, but a manageable way of life. Are any of you on this same journey? I'd love to know what your plans are.

Thanks to everyone that read my ramblings in 2014, and I hope to be able to give you the content you want in 2015. Please share any ideas/questions/comments! I'm looking forward to spending 2015 with you!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Empty Products #16

You know you need to do an empties post when it takes 3 photos to show what you've finished up. These products are ones that I've used up over the last few months of the year...or since my last empties post.

If you are confused as to why I'd photograph my garbage and put it on the Internet, let me "esplain" - no, let me "sum up". An empties post is when you go through the products you've used up and give mini reviews. I hope these reviews help some of you!

There is a lot of ground to cover, so let's get this party started!

Alba Botanica Hawaiian Shampoo Body Builder Mango for Extra Volume & Bounce

In 2014, I made a pact with myself to start using more natural/organic/less chemically based products. I also got to know my body much better than I ever have. This lead me to test out volumizing shampoos and conditioners. I found this one at my local Target and it smells amazing. It doesn't give a lot of lather, so if you qualify your shampoo experience by suds, this may not be for you. I don't really mind as long as the end result is clean hair without the stripping. I didn't find this shampoo to be particularly volumizing, but it did the job and made my hair smell like I had smashed mangos all over it.

Tresemme Fresh Start Volumizing Dry Shampoo

I only wash my hair every 2 to 3 days currently, and although my hair isn't extremely oily, I find it needs a bit of TLC on the second and third days. So starts the quest for the best dry shampoo. I've used a handful all with "meh" results. I've read a lot about this one, so I thought I'd give it a whirl. First off, it smells good, which is always a plus when talking about no-wash hair days. It is super cheap, so if it didn't work for me, it wasn't a huge loss. However, I found that it did the job and if you shake like it says to on the bottle, you get minimal white cast. I probably will repurchase this when my Dove one runs out, but I am always getting dry shampoo samples in my Birchboxes, so I'm in no hurry.

Bath & Body Works Frosted Snowberry Triple Moisture Body Cream

This body cream is from the 2012 holiday collection - so it is no longer available in this scent. Which is so sad! I LOVE this smell, and I hope they bring it back again soon! Please Bath & Body Works! But even if you can't get this scent now, it is still a great formula and they do have many other nice scents. I used this mainly at night since it is a thicker cream, and I never woke up with dry itchy skin.

Origins Checks and Balances Frothy Face Wash

I have repurchased this cleanser multiple times and will continue to. It is my favorite nighttime cleanser. I use it in the shower because it is a very foamy cleanser, as the name would suggest, and it is just easier to use in the shower. My skin is left feeling squeaky clean, but never tight. I already have another on the go.

Harney & Sons Royal Wedding Tea

Another repurchase. I've already expressed my undying love and affection for Harney & Sons and this tea, so I won't drone on about it. You can find many an ode to it in past posts if you care to read more. It is my everyday tea - I have a cup every single morning without fail, and I already have another bag on the go. I tried to try other teas in the morning and only got about a week in and had to place an "emergency" order!

Pacifica Tuscan Blood Orange Body Butter

Not exactly what I would call a body butter consistency. This is more of a lotion, if you ask me. A nice lotion though. It smells amazing, as you'd expect from Pacifica. It is very hydrating, but it does leave a bit of a greasy feel on the skin. It may be better as a night time lotion in that respect. It's not my favorite formulation, but I did enjoy using it, and I don't have any ill will against the brand.

Dove Go Fresh Restore Body Wash in Blue Fig & Orange Blossom

I tend to go back to this body wash because it is readily available and inexpensive. The scent selection is also great, but it's just not the most moisturizing formula. I find every year my skin leans more and more to the dry side, and I need more hydrating products or I feel itchy after my shower. I combat this with scoops of body butters before bed, but you can never really recover from a shower product that isn't nourishing enough. If you don't have dry skin, I'd highly recommend this range of body wash though!

Skintimate SkinTherapy Lotionized Shave Gel for Sensistive Skin

My favorite shave gel of the moment...or year (2014 that is). It does the job and is moisturizing. It smells good and is cheap. What more can you ask for in a drug store shave gel really...I am on a kick of testing out some shave creams and shave butters, but I will have to get back to you on that front. Stay tuned!

Aussie 3 Minute Miracle Color Conditioning Treatment

We've use the Aussie 3 Minute Miracle Conditioning Treatment for ages - off and on. But I color my hair, so I thought I'd try out this one. I think I actually prefer the smell of this version, but I find it isn't as moisturizing as the original, but doesn't weigh my hair down. So it is a bit of a toss up. I've already gone back to the original formula though...

Julep American Beauty Volumnizing Mascara

This is the first mascara I've used that has fibers in it. I found it to be an extremely dry formula, and I tend to like wetter mascaras. I realize that sounds rude... But this one was so dry, I couldn't even get the mascara to stick to my eye lashes. It could have just been mine, but I just found it so hard to work with. The brush has short and medium length plastic spikes, and I think it would have been nice to use if the formula had been a bit different. I just didn't get on with it.

Bare Minerals Flawless Definition Volumizing Mascara

On the other hand, this mascara has a big fluffy fiber brush. I'd say it's good, not great. Just your standard black mascara really. I did enjoy using this brush, but I'm a bit of a floozy with mascaras...I just haven't really found my end all, be all yet.

Nivea A Kiss of Olive Oil & Lemon Moisture Rich Lip Care

Another highly repurchased product here. I love the smell and the formula feels much more expensive than it is. I am sure I will continue to repurchase again and again. I use it mainly at night before bed as part of my night time skincare routine, and always wake up with baby soft lips!

Mica Beauty Cosmetics Black Gel Eyeliner

This dried up on me and I could no longer use it. I'm not sure how quickly these things are supposed to dry up, but I only got a few months use out of it before it was just non-useable. I did like it, but wouldn't repurchase because it is a bit pricey to only last a short time. I need something longer lasting since I don't wear it everyday. So if you guys have any recommendations on that, let me know!

Kiehl's Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado

Very moisturizing is what I would say about this eye cream. I used this mainly at night because it is thicker and I don't think it would sit well under makeup. Again, I'm a bit of a floozy when it comes to eye creams, so I have not repurchased this one yet, but I wouldn't rule it out.

Oral-B Complete Satin Floss

Love this. You know you've reached a new level in life when floss excites you.  This may actually be my favorite floss. It is thin and flat, but not flimsy like the tape versions. I just feel like it really gets between my teeth well. That's all I'm going to say about the floss lest I make myself look anymore like an old lady...No offense, of course!

Kiehl's Nashi Blossom & Pink Grapefruit Skin-Softening Body Cleanser

OMG, smells so good! Not sure if it is moisturizing enough for my skin though. I love Kiehl's products - they use really good ingredients, but I'm sure they make a moisturizing body cleanser that I could use instead of this one.

Fortune Cookie Soap Kiss My Vine Bath Salts

I'm not sure if they have these strawberry and champagne scented bath salts anymore. The scent is one of my favorites from FCS, but I like a more moisturizing bath. I'm afraid the bath salt thing is lost on me...I know loads of people love them, but I guess I'm just not getting it. I do love this brand though.

Weleda Oat Replenishing Shampoo and Conditioner

This was nice if you need a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner duo. It smelled nice and clean. Weleda is a good brand, and I've liked liked everything I've tried from them.

Davines NaturalTech Replumping Shampoo and Conditioner

Loved these! I'm seriously considering purchasing the full size of these. The smell is very natural/herbal, which I've really grown to like in products. I have fine, limp hair and this duo really make it feel fuller and didn't make it greasy. Highly recommend for all the fine haired gals/guys out there.

Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Eye

Like the Midnight Recovery Concentrate, I loved this. I've already purchased the full size and use it every night. I have only been using it for 2 weeks, so I can't report on the long term effects yet, but I do really like it. And it comes in a squeezy tube which makes it much more sanitary...although I don't mind using an eye cream in a pot.

Kiehl's Creme de Corps Soy Milk & Honey Whipped Body Butter

I chose this as a sample when I ordered something from Kiehl's recently because my husband had been complaining about extremely dry and scaly hands. It is very thick and hydrating and smells nice, but not in a strong sickly way. My husband liked this and it seemed to work well for extremely dry skin.

Sage + Fasten Onward Eau de Parfum

LOVED this! Juicy, fresh. Everything you'd want in a Springy scent. Although, I'd wear this year round because I'm a rebel and throw seasonality with scents to the wind! Wild, I know...Would definitely repurchase!

Fortune Cookie Soap <Insert Cookie Cutter Name Here> Bath Oil

Smelled like cookies, which isn't my first choice in smells, however I didn't mind it terribly. The issue with this was that it just wasn't as moisturizing in the bath as I'd like. I like bath products that make the water really "soft" like Lush products tend to do. Oy, I sound like such a bath snob in this post...I promise I'm not.

Not Soap Radio Joy Inducing Bubbles for Bath or Shower

I used this as a shower gel, which is what I always tend to do with these 2 in 1 type products. When I saw that this was lemon scented, I was super excited! I was not disapointed because it smelled absolutely the best! Like lemons and vanilla. I would repurchase this in a heartbeat.

N.4 Super Combe Prep & Protect

I used this as a leave in treatment after my shower. It had a natural/herbal smell to it which was fine, but it is a bit strong, so if you don't like that sort of thing it may not be for you. It did help me get the comb through my hair, but I don't use a lot of heat on my hair or styling products so I'm not sure about the protect part. If you need a detangler, this did the job.

Beauty Protector Protect & Detangle Leave In Conditioner

This had a bit more of a perfumey smell than I generally like. But it was thicker and seemed more nourishing in my hair than other leave in's I've recently tried. I did have to mix a little water with the last little bit to get it to spray out, but it didn't seem to effect the quality. I thought this was good, but with so many leave in treatments out there, I'm not sure if I'd run out to pick this up just yet.

Aquafresh Extreme Clean Whitening Action Toothpaste

My all time favorite toothpaste. I am trying to use up my smaller tubes before they reach their expiration date, because I've been hoarding them it seems. Apparently I don't travel enough! Something I will have to remedy in the New Year. I have purchased the full size of this many times for years and will go back to it as soon as I get through all of my stashed minis.

Colgate Total Clean Mint Toothpaste

See above explanation of tiny toothpastes. This one is too pastey for me. It is what I would call the classic old school toothpaste formula, but it's just not my favorite. Over the years, there have been alternate uses for this type of using as a spot treatment for zits, although I've never tried this. Aren't there other uses for standard toothpaste?!

Crest Complete Whitening+ Scope Toothpaste

This toothpaste does the job, but again just is not my fav.  I imagine my next empties post will have more of these since I am only about a quarter of the way through my stash...ugh...

Origins Plantscription Anti-aging Eye Treatment

Finally, this little sample tube of eye cream lasted me for AGES! I used it as my day time eye cream because it was thin enough to sit well under makeup. I didn't find it to do wonders for my under eye area, but then again I'm not yet at the age where that area is an issue for me. It was a nice eye cream, but I've gone back to the Origins GinZing Eye Cream. At least I stuck with the same brand:)

Wow, that was a lot of empties! I think I need to put myself on a better schedule for these so I don't give you guys a headache. If you stuck with me through that, I applaud you! What have you used up lately, have you loved any of these?