Saturday, March 30, 2013

Influenster VoxBox #1

When I heard about Influenster, I was so excited to see what products I'd be asked to review, and shortly after Valentine's Day I received my first VoxBox!

This free stuff comes with a few strings attached - as long as I use my social influence {blog, Twitter, Facebook} to share my opinions, the rewards will keep coming. Might not always come in the form of free swag, might also be exclusive discounts or product news, but I'm happy to be along for the ride.

Influenster is a free-to-join community of invited trendsetters who live to give opinions of products and experiences. Influenster creates links between brands and members to reward participation and influence future products.

Without further ado, here are my honest opinions about February's products!




Secret's Clinical Strength Stress Response deodorant smells awesome! Apparently "stress sweat" smells the worst because it comes from a different gland - who knew? I loved everything about this product, except that you're supposed to put it on at night and I always seemed to forget. I'm used to putting deodorant on in the morning before walking out the door, so I really had to get in the habit of applying before bed. But I'd recommend this product to anyone!

I'm familiar with the Not Your Mother's hair products (especially their dry shampoo!) but I'd never heard of this one. Influenster sent me the Beach Babe texturizing sea salt spray that's supposed to give you sexy, tousled waves. I waited to use this product on a morning when I needed to get to work early and didn't want to wash my hair, but that was a mistake. This is a GREAT product - I liked the smell, the way my hair felt, how there wasn't a sticky residue all over my hands after using - but it's noooooot exactly the best look for the professional world. I imagined I'd end up looking like Jen Aniston or Kate Hudson with their beachy waves...


... buuuut, I looked like a had a terrible case of bed head. I think this Beach Babe spray would be a great product to toss in your bag to apply as your hair dried naturally after a day at the pool/lake/beach, but not for daily use, in my opinion.


I'm a fan of Miss Bethenny Frankel and I enjoy her Skinnygirl Cocktails, so I was excited to try this Skinnygirl Daily Bar. Not going to lie though... I was a little disappointed. It was chewy and I liked the texture of the bar, but the blueberry and Greek yogurt combo made it a little too tart for my liking. Also, Thomas and I try to eat according to Weight Watcher points and recipes {as much as possible}, and this little bar was a whopping 5 points. When you only get 26 points a day {me}, it's hard to justify spending points on this little guy. I can have a Fiber One Oats & Chocolate bar for only 3 points, and heck, it's covered in chocolate. Needless to say, I won't be buying any of these anytime soon. Sorry, Bethenny!

Moving on to the Olay Fresh Effects face wash. I saved the best for last - this was my favorite product in the entire VoxBox! Before getting married, I had a few microdermabrasion treatments to make my skin look its bridal best, but I've had to forgo those treatments in light of our budget. My beloved esthetician Alissa with SkinFit Austin has warned me to not exfoliate too often because I have sensitive skin, but using this cleansing system once a week seemed to give my skin just the boost it needed.


The boxed combo included a small tube of cleanser and power brush. You can see below for size comparison with my toothbrush; that little guy packs a punch though! The head of the power brush is rubber instead of the usual bristles, but it felt so good on my face. The cleanser foams up a lot and the foam turned the color of my mineral makeup, so I could tell it was working. I think you can purchase the combo pack in stores, but the face wash would make a great addition to your morning/nightly routine even without the power brush!


Looking forward to more fun experiences as a Influenster member! Want to use your social media prowess to influence the latest brands? Request an invite!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Pray for Emma Grace

[LINK TO AN UPDATE AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS POST]

Women are storytellers by nature. We love to share our lives with others, face-to-face over a cup of coffee or all over our social media platforms. Every story is uniquely made up of joys and trials, and as we share, we relate to and learn from those around us. 

I follow people's stories through the blog world and immediately feel a connection to people I've never met, or people who are walking through life situations I haven't experienced myself. I find myself emotionally invested - can anyone else relate?

After reading the blog "Bring the Rain" by Angie Smith, I knew I just had to read her book, "I Will Carry You: The Sacred Dance of Grief and Joy." Angie and her husband Todd were 20 weeks pregnant with baby Audrey when they learned of a life-threatening complication. I'll never forget what Angie said when her doctor broke the news and asked, "what are you thinking?"

"I think my Jesus is the same as He was before I walked through that door."

Wow. What a statement. 

It's an amazing book of faith and trust, and I encourage you to pick up a copy. But long story short: Angie and her husband Todd decided to fight for their daughter, and today I'd like to introduce you to a friend of mine who is doing the same. 


Candace and I danced together in high school, and she and her husband Justin are the proud parents of cute little Laney {above}. In January, they announced that they were expecting again, another baby girl named Emma Grace, but around the same time they found out the gender, they also received devastating news.




Emma has extra fluid in her lungs, stomach and face, a condition called Hydrops Fetalis. They've visited with several doctors and specialists and have decided to undergo a procedure this week to put a shunt in Emma to drain the fluid. 

Will you join me in praying for sweet Emma Grace? 

The procedure to drain fluid from Emma's lungs is scheduled for 5:00 p.m. this Thursday. Candace goes into the details on her blog about the potential risks and complications, but she and Justin want to do anything they can to give Emma a stronger chance of surviving.

In "I Will Carry You," Angie said, "we don't know if God is going to make her better or not, but we will keep believing that He can." We know that our God is the ultimate Healer and we pray with faith that He'll work a miracle for the Schwartz family.

Follow their journey on Candace's blog, For the love of Emma Grace. Thank you for your prayers!


UPDATE!! The procedure went so well, and Emma is a little fighter!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Chicken with Yogurt?


Sounds weird, right? I love yogurt as much as the next girl, but I never imagined cooking chicken with it. Thomas and I invited two couples from church over for a little dinner party last night, and when searching for unique recipes for chicken, we stumbled upon this one from AllRecipes.com. I just so happened to have half a container {like the one above} in our fridge, so I thought "why not?" 

The chicken was so moist {disclaimer: I haaaaate the word MOIST. So for me to say it is huge, hah!}, and the breading was delicious. It was simple to make, too. Just mix yogurt with some fresh squeezed lemon juice, dip your chicken breasts in the yogurt, and roll in bread crumbs.

We paired the chicken with some acorn squash, which we seasoned with olive oil, butter, brown sugar and rosemary {recipe compliments of The Pioneer Woman}. Besides the occasional stuffed acorn squash, I think this is the only way I'll be making acorn squash from here on out. Heavenly.


{finished product bottom right, with green beans and a yummy risotto our friends brought}
Next time, I may minimize the size of the pads of butter - the recipe calls for one below and one on top of each chicken breast. Parts of the breading were just a little mushy where the butter had melted. I might also experiment with Greek yogurt instead of plain. I'd be interested to see if the taste is any different, and if it's any healthier. 

Needless to say, this recipe has been added to the must-make-again stockpile of recipes for the Reed home. Hope you'll find the time to make it and see for yourself!

Friday, March 15, 2013

What day is it?

{via}
After a whirlwind week-and-a-half, I couldn't be happier that the weekend is here. My days are all messed up too - I traveled to Lubbock for work on Wednesday and Thursday, and then jumped straight into SXSW Interactive on Friday through Tuesday. Yesterday I kept thinking, "wait, what day is it? Wednesday? No! Tomorrow's FRIDAY? Praise Jesus."

Looking forward to spending time with a good friend from Baylor, enjoying this perfect Spring weather, maybe seeing a movie, hanging out with my husband, having church friends over for a little dinner party, and finding time to just BE. Happy weekend, friends!

Friday, March 8, 2013

SXSW


Starting today, I'm in full SXSW mode. Last year was my first year to attend the Interactive conference and I COULD NOT be more excited to be going again this year with two other girls on our marketing team.

I'm ready for the overwhelming influx of information. Inspiration overload! And maybe this year I'll have a little self control and not eat tacos for everrrrrrry meal.


Exactly my sentiments about this week. I LOVE living here. Austin is an incredible place to live, work and play. And for a few days, all the crowds and excitement in our city is fun! But when all is said and done, it's a sigh of relief when the event is over and everyone goes home. :)





If you're curious, here's a look back at SXSWi 2012 {via my old blog}:
 I'll be tweeting from sessions at @MrsAmandaReed, and Instagramming, too. Follow along!