Thursday Thoughts

TTGood-copyI’m again linking up with Jennifer at Ramblings of a Suburban Mom for her Thursday Thoughts link-up.

~ It seems like summer is crashing to a close, even though it’s finally started to get warm around here.  Now that school is starting, our schedules will start getting crazy with dance and soccer.  I’m going to need to get a lot better at menu planning…  Suggestions?

~ I am in love with these planner organizers from etsy:

Erin Condren Planner Organizers on Etsy

There’s a grocery list, meal planner, to do list and cleaning list in the bundle and she also offers ones for spending and bill paying.  I’m thinking I might get them as a PDF so I can reprint them year to year.  Plus, I’m not sure if I want my grocery list to be on a laminated paper with a dry erase marker.  I might just print it each time.

~ The house is finally getting clean (like really, really clean).  I need to find a better way to keep things less cluttered.  I spend at least half my time cleaning putting stuff back where it belongs.  I think a trip to the Container Store will be in our near future.  :)

~ I’m totally in love with Married At First Sight.  A friend turned me on to it and I can’t stop watching.  Will they stay together?  Why do I care so much?

Married At First Sight

~ Since summer weather never happened here, I am moving right into fall and embracing it.  Michael’s has 40% off their flowers this week (they seem to always be on sale), so I’d like to try this (with fake pumpkins instead of real because that would be a REALLY long time to leave pumpkins sitting there):

Porch decor in a bucket

Fall Steps Decor

We have two buckets like this, one oval and one circle, that should fit great on our front and side steps.  I love the extra pumpkin outside the bucket too :)

~ We’ve slowed down on our boxes (I’m skipping Julep until I use up 10 of my polishes), but a Birchbox Man review will be up later today.

What’s on your mind this week?

~Elizabeth

This post contains referral links.

Mission: Organization The Girls’ Closets

It’s been a while since I’ve written a post about organizing around the house.  That’s because I really haven’t done any organizing all summer.  We’ve spent weekends at the beach, playground and my parents pool and just enjoyed the time together.  But now it’s time to get back to organizing – especially with school starting in two weeks.

A month ago, we were heading out with my parents and I went looking for a dress for Ava to wear.  Long story short, I spent and hour digging through Ella’s closet – couldn’t find the accessories I wanted and it was just a mess.  I really haven’t touched the closets much since each girl was born, so they had accumulated five years and two years of clutter.

This is a work in progress, but let’s look at the before, and then let’s never speak about this mess that we lived with again :)

The Before:

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Ella’s Closet: Left Side

Ella’s closet has two sides with sliding doors.  Both closets have Elfa closet systems that we desgined from The Container Store. Elfa is not cheap and their are more affordable choices out there.  But, Elfa is what we started using ten years ago and I love that we can mix and match components from one closet to another.

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Ella’s Closet: Right Side

Ella’s closet has shelf baskets in the middle, and hanging storage and smaller shelves on the left and right side.  At the top of her closet are two shelves that run the full length.

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Ava’s Closet

Ava’s closet is half the size of Ella’s and has a single door.  She has the same types of storage in her closet, but just half of it :)

The Mess:

1.  Inability to find dresses and shoes: Once Ava was born and we knew that we had two girls, I had been leaving all of Ella’s dresses and shoes she outgrew in her closet for Ava once Ava got big enough.  The problem was that there were so many dresses that I couldn’t find them when I needed them.

2. Stuffed animals: Ella has A LOT of stuffed animals.  And she plays with all of them.  But, the bins that I put in the bottom of her closet were overflowing and not getting used.

3. Baby stuff no longer in use: All the baby gear that we still have was in Ava’s closet taking up space for things we’d like to store.

The Process:

Stuffed Animals

Stuffed Animals!

The process for this one was pretty simple.  I emptied out both closets and sorted through.

We categorized the items:

1.  Ella and my husband went through the stuffed animals.  “Baby” stuff went away in the attic (that was about 6 items).  The rest were sorted by category.  Seasonal toys went in the boxes for their season (I try to keep holiday specific toys in a bin to take out at that time to keep some things “new”).

2.  I sorted clothes and shoes into piles: Too big for Ella, too big for Ava, too small for either girl.

3.  We sorted through the rest and decided what we would keep and what we would get rid of (some baby gear with no sentimental value).  Then further sorted to decide what should be in closets so we can access it and what should go in the attic.

The After:

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Ella’s Closet Left Side

This is still a work in progress, but you can see how many dresses were weeded out from the photo above. Her shoes for school are in the bottom shelf basket, spare sheets are in the middle one, and school clothes are in the top shelf basket. The two shoe boxes above the dresses are for shoes she’s currently wearing. We don’t keep them in their boxes, but I like to keep the boxes for storing the shoes until Ava can wear them.

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Ella’s Closet: Right Side

The right side of the closet is mostly stuffed animals.  The basket shelves next to the door are the same ones seen in the Left Side picture.  Ella has a shelf of “special” stuffed animals she doesn’t want her sister to reach, so they are up high.  Below that is our Sesame Street collection.

Ava's Closet

Ava’s Closet

Ava’s closet has all of the dresses in her size and the next size.  The shelf next to the dresses holds hats and shoes in the next size.  Below that in the shelf baskets are towels, blankets and spare diapers.  We use the shelf baskets in both girls rooms and I love them.  I can pile stuff up easier and they are great for smaller kids items.

Next Steps:

Since I am trying to be mroe organized, I’d like to add a hanging sweater bag to each girls closet:

Hanging Sweater Bag

so that I can lay out their clothes for the week.  It’s not something I’ve ever done, but I’m trying to do as much as possible to save time in the morning.  Luckily, with the Elfa system, I can move the components around to accomodate this.

Thanks for looking, and I’d love to hear any suggestions anyone has for organizing kid’s closets.

~Elizabeth

Finish This…

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I’m linking up today for the Finish This… hosted by  LISA (COASTLINED), JEN (The Arizona Russums), BECKY (The Java Mama) and NICOLE (Three 31).  Basically, they provide the prompts and I have to finish the sentences.

My daily hair routine consists of washing and (hopefully) drying every night.  I workout 5 days a week so my hair has to be washed almost every night.  I like to dry my hair because it styles better in the morning and has more body if I do that.  In the morning I use the flat iron.
The best hair advice I’ve received is to get a good hair cut.  The better the hair cut, the easier it is to style.
My hair idol is Kate at The Small Things Blog.  Her video on flat ironing is awesome and the stuff she does with her hair is so easy.  I’ve definitely added more styles to my routine since finding her blog.

 

Thanks for reading!

~Elizabeth

Liebster Award

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Thank You Fashion Beyond Forty for nominating me.

I was nominated by Teena at Disabled Mommy of Two a while ago, and then I was just nominated again.  What is a Liebster Award? It’s not an actual award, but the nomination helps spread the word about a blog. It’s a great way to learn more about other bloggers and help increase views to other blogs.  I wasn’t going to participate again, but the rules and questions are different so I figured it would be fun to do.  I won’t be nominating anyone because everyone I know of has just been nominated!

Here are the rules:

1. Post 11 random facts about yourself.
2. Answer the 11 questions that the person who nominated you will post.
3. Choose 11 new blogs with under 200 followers for their Liebster Award, notify them that thy have been nominated, and think of 11 questions for them to answer.

11 Random Facts About Me:

1. I am the youngest child in my family and the only girl.

The Family 1980

2. I love to shop and find deals. It doesn’t have to be for me, I love finding the best deals for other people too.
3. If retail paid better, I’d work in retail again.

4. I’ve been a Zumba Fitness instructor for 6 years and am licensed to teach Zumba, Zumba Toning and Zumba Step.

Zumba Fitness

5. I love to work out, but hate taking time away from my kids to fit in working out with teaching class and my full time job.

6. I hate to cook, but I love to bake. I leave the cooking to my husband :)

7. I am a huge Disney fan – the movies, TV shows, and of course Disney World. We haven’t been for 8 years, and I can’t wait to take the girls some day.

Image courtesy of fodors.com

8. I have a love/hate relationship with smart phones. I love the convenience, but I wish people would put them down more (including my husband!)

9. My car is always a mess. As soon as it’s clean, the girls take toys, books, snacks…and leave them behind.

10. I love to clean and can’t stand when things are disorganized.

11. I have never colored my hair.

Here are the questions that Joely asked me:

1. What is your obsession other than fashion / beauty.

I think it would be organizing.  I am obsessed with getting the most storage out of our house.

2. If you could have any guest blogger, who would it be and why?

Kate from the Small Things Blog.  She has so much practical information to share.

3. Can you give us a skin care, or makeup tip?

Don’t forget your eyebrows.  I am obsessed with Benefit’s Gimme Brow.  My eyebrows are non-existant in the summer and this is so natural (much better than pencils) and it lasts a long time.

Benefit Gimme Brow

Benefit Gimme Brow

4. What is your biggest fear?

I’ve said it before….going out and forgetting to wear a bra.

5. What is your “lazy day” outfit?

Yoga pants and a tee shirt or running shorts and a tee shirt.

6. What one beauty practice do you put off or skip at times?

I am bad about washing my face.  I use makeup remover wipes, but need to be a lot better about really washing it.

7. If you could have any one high priced item in your closet for free, what would you choose?

SHOES!  Really nice shoes!

8. What would you like more time for in your life?

I’d like more time to get everything done and spend time with my family.

Story time with Ariel

Story time with Ariel

9. If you were stuck on a deserted island, what one beauty product would you want with you?

Sunscreen.  I burn really easily.

10. If you were stuck on a deserted island what one dessert would you want an unlimited supply of?

Ice cream!

11. Why did you start blogging?

I was always commenting on other people’s reviews that I figured I might as well start my own blog.

 

Thanks again for nominating me, and please check out Fashion Beyond Forty and my nominees when you have time!

~Elizabeth

Sunday Social

Sunday Social

 I’m linking up with Ashley and Neely for their Sunday Social link up

1. What are you most looking forward to about Fall?

Pumpkin everything!  (This will probably be very bad for my healthy eating goals)  I love the muffins, pumpkin bread, lattes.  It’s all fabulous!
2. What is your favorite sports team?

The Patriots
3. If you could go back to college is there one thing you would change?

I would change my major to library science.
4. What was your favorite class you ever took? HS or College

I took a class in Broadway history to satisfy a General Ed. Requirement in college.  It was so fun and introduced me to a lot of musicals I knew nothing about.
5. Reach into your purse what is the first thing you grab?

My Erin Condren planner, but only because it’s so big. :)  After that it would be a lip gloss.

Erin Condren Life Planner

Erin Condren Life Planner – Back when it was shiny and new :)

Thanks for reading!

~Elizabeth

Friday Fave Five

Friday Fave Five

Friday Fave Five

I’m again linking up with Jennifer at Mom’s Got Mail for her Friday Fave Five blog hop.  I was writing this the day after we lost power for 24 hours so my husband suggested one of my favorites should be electricity :)  I vetoed that, so here are my five favorite things this week:

Favorite for Beauty:

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Vaseline Lip Therapy in Rosy Lips

Vaseline Lip Therapy in Rosy Lips: I used to use regular Vaseline on my lips and to remove eye makeup.  Not sure why or when I stopped, but when I received this in my Birchbox + CEW box, I remembered how awesome Vaseline can be.  This is tinted so you can use it during the day and it lasts for at least an hour without being sticky!

Favorite Food:

Pumpkin Is Coming to Dunkin Donuts Sept. 1!

All things pumpkin.  It’s been cool in Massachusetts most of the summer (70s and 80s during the day, but 50s and 60s at night), so I feel like fall is already coming.  Now that I’ve said that, you know that means a heat wave will be coming :)  As sad as I am that summer weather never seemed to really come, the arrival of pumpkin flavored food softens that blow.

Favorite for Kids:

Petit Collage Alphabet Art

Petit Collage Alphabet Art

Petit Collage Alphabet Art Flashcards: We got these in our August Citrus Lane box.  They are a great size (probably 4×6) and very study  The illustrations are great and the letters on the back are nice and big and easy to read.  We’ve been using these a lot with Ava since they arrived yesterday.  She’s been trying to say each animal and is working on her ABCs.

Favorite Organizing:

Toy closet - after

Toy closet – organized with Elfa

Elfa Shelving at the Container Store: I’m not going to lie, this stuff is expensive!  It is truly an investment.  But the Container Store will design your space and cut pieces for you for free and once you buy it, they will redesign your space and cut any pieces for free again.  And, since the components are interchangeable, they can be used in any Elfa space.  We have some left over components from reconfiguring closets and they are going to get used in my upcoming laundry room makeover.   (And looking at that picture, I realize how much that closet needs a coat of white paint!)

Favorite Clothing:

Gymboree Dotted Drawstring Dress: These were on sale last week for $12.99 and they are currently on sale for $15.00.  While the full price of Gymboree clothes is crazy, their sale prices are fair and the quality of their clothes is great.  Ella loves dresses and needed some preschool appropriate dresses.  These are wonderful because there’s no zipper so she can easily dress herself and we can get these through the fall by adding her denim jacket and a pair of leggings.

 

Thanks for checking out my favorites this week!

~Elizabeth

This post contains referral links. 

Citrus Lane August 2014 Review

Citrus Lane is a monthly box of goodies delivered to your door for your little one birth – age 5 and start at $29 (and decrease if you prepay).  We purchase our box for our youngest daughter who is 25 months.  Box contents are not themed but are different depending on age and gender.

Lately the Citrus Lane boxes have been a great value and we’ve used all the products that come in the box which makes the value even greater to me.

Our Citrus Lane  box came yesterday, but because we didn’t have power, I took the pictures in a bit of a rush this morning.  Ava saw her box and wanted to open it (I usually take the pictures and then put everything back in the box for her to open).  I apologize for the bad lighting (again…no power) and I forgot to take a first look picture.

Citrus Lane was recently acquired by Care.com and this was the first month since we were notified of the acquisition.  There was a coupon code toward a care.com membership in the box, but I won’t count it towards the total since you have to spend money to use it.

The Products:

Medi Buddy Reusable Cold Pack

Medi Buddy Reusable Cold Pack

Cool It Buddy Reusable Soft Cold Pack: $4.75

We received ice packs from this brand from a Citrus Lane box last summer, but it wasn’t reusable.  I love the reusable ones because sometimes they need a little ice to feel better but you don’t want to break an ice pack to toss it five minutes later.  This is one of those items that I wouldn’t buy myself but love having Citrus Lane send me.

Little Pim Video Download

Little Pim Video Download

Little Pim Video Download: $13.28

This is so cute!  It’s a language learning video (they offer Spanish, French, Chinese and a lot of others), that  you can download for free!  I love that you get to choose the language – we will probably choose Spanish since that’s what the girls are most familiar with.

Petit Collage Alphabet Art

Petit Collage Alphabet Art

Petit Collage Alphabet Art: $19.00

We had a choice of items to include in the box this month and I was given the choice between the Animal cards and the Vehicles.  Ava loves animals so we went with this one.

Green Toys Tea Set

Green Toys Tea Set

Green Toys Tea Set: ~$10.00

I estimated this price because this is a Citrus Lane exclusive set.  You can get the full set with two more cups, a sugar and creamer for about $20.00 on Amazon.  The girls haven’t played with this yet, but they are always having tea parties with their dolls and it seems like we never have enough cups for everyone.  Plus, with two girls, they each need their own tea pot :)

Final Thoughts: Subscriptions start at $29 a month, I paid about $15 for this box and received $45,41 worth of products.  Last month’s box was more full; the digital download really made this box seem “light”.  I would have liked to see one more item: either a Mom item like a lotion or a snack to make this box feel complete.  But, I love the items included and the value was great for the second month in a row.

To learn more about Citrus Lane or to sign up (don’t forget to use code SAVEHALF to get your first box for 50% off), click  here.

~Elizabeth

This post contains referral links.

Thursday Thoughts

TTGood-copyI’m again linking up with Jennifer at Ramblings of a Suburban Mom for her Thursday Thoughts link-up.

~ We’ve had a couple of crazy weekends, so I’m looking forward to this weekend being more calm.  I’d like to get the house cleaned (ha!) and maybe start cleaning out the laundry room.

~ We were without power last night (it should come back today) and I can’t wait.  You’d think I’d miss the TV and the computer, but it’s the little every day things you don’t think about.  Taking a cold shower after the gym was no fun and this morning there was no hair dryer or flat iron for my hair.  And the worst was that everything in the fridge is ruined, so no milk for the girls.  Luckily we had juice boxes in the pantry and they were beyond excited to get those. :)

~ Our laundry room is such a mess.  There’s no existing storage and I’ve had no idea what I want to do with the space.  I *think* I’m going to start organizing it and I would love to get these boards from the Container Store.  The Elfa products are expensive but so worth it.  We’ve had some for over ten years and they still look like new.  I love that you can easily change the layouts around as your storage needs change.  I’d love to have this project done before summer ends, but let’s be real…I’ll be lucky if it’s done before Christmas :)

Elfa Utility Board – Container Store

~ I was doing so well with eating healthy, then I got a virus and since then I haven’t been able to get back on track.  Why is it so hard when I know what I should be eating?  And why is it that sometimes everything just “clicks”?  Any tips, tricks…for eating healthy?

~ Ella is going to be doing soccer this fall and I am so excited for her.  She loves dance and will continue that, but I love that she can try out other sports and see what she really likes.

~ If you missed it, I posted my review of the Birchbox + CEW limited edition boxes, the August Everygirl Birchbox and my most valuable Birchbox Mystery Sample Pack earlier this week.  My August Citrus Lane review is coming later today.

What’s on your mind this week?

~Elizabeth

This post contains referral links.

 

Finish This…

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I’m linking up today for the Finish This… hosted by  LISA (COASTLINED), JEN (The Arizona Russums), BECKY (The Java Mama) and NICOLE (Three 31).  Basically, they provide the prompts and I have to finish the sentences.  My first answers to these questions were pretty harsh on myself, so I went back and tried to answer with a little more positivity. 

I feel stupid when I mess up teaching my Zumba class.  Everyone messes up, but I feel like I’m the one they are paying me to teach so I should be perfect.  When I forget what comes next, it drives me batty!

I hope I never forget to wear a bra :)

My one piece of advice to the world is to be yourself.  I am happiest and feel the most confident when I am living up to my expectations instead of trying to live up to everyone else’s. 

Thanks for reading!

~Elizabeth

Birchbox CEW Mass Appeal and Prestige Limited Edition Boxes Review

Last week Birchbox announced their newest Limited Edition boxes, the CEW Mass Appeal ($15.00) and Prestige Headliners ($18.00) boxes.  The CEW is the Emmy’s of beauty products and Birchbox offered these boxes last year, but I missed out :(  I was determined to get them this year and luckily had enough points to purchase.  I love that the prices of these are not too high and if you purchase both boxes, Birchbox will take $5.00 off your order automatically – no coupon code needed!

Birchbox for CEW Mass Appeal Box

The CEW Mass Appeal box is full of drug store brands and included FOUR full size products!

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Birchbox for CEW

The Mass Appeal box came in a cute blue box.  The Prestige Headliners box was pink, but I must not have taken a picture and I already got rid of the boxes. :(

The Products:

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Simple Protecting Light Moisturizer with SPF 15

Simple Protecting Light Moisturizer with SPF 15: $8.41 FULL SIZE

I first discovered this brand through Birchbox last summer and love that it’s affordable and effective.  The moisturizer is light weight and the SPF 15 is a great bonus.  I use sunscreen on my face year round but am really bad about using it on my arms.

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Burt’s Bees 100% Natural Lip Gloss in Spring Splendor

Burt’s Bees 100% Natural Lip Gloss in Spring Splendor: $6.20 FULL SIZE

I’ve seen these in Target, but didn’t want to pick one up in case I didn’t like it.  I’m glad to say that I love it.  It’s a little sticky (about the same as the Stila lip glosses) but I don’t mind it.  The color is great with my skin tone and the color stayed about the same as most glosses.

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TRESemme Keratin Smooth Keratin Infusing Serum

TRESemme Keratin Smooth Keratin Infusing Serum: $9.15 FULL SIZE

I am always looking for new products that will get rid of the frizzies without weighing down my hair.  I liked this a lot.  A little goes a long way and it didn’t make my hair feel like it was loaded with product.

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L’Oreal Paris Voluminous Butterfly Mascara

L’Oreal Paris Voluminous Butterfly Mascara: $7.19 FULL SIZE

I haven’t opened this yet because I already have two mascaras open, but it’s supposed to make your lashes “wing out”.  If it doesn’t make my lashes clumpy and it doesn’t smear (I touch my face a lot during the day), then I’m happy.

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

Dove Go Fresh Restore Body Wash in Fig and Orange Blossom: $8.99 full size/$.74 sample value

I love Dove body washes.  They get super sudsy and the scent is never overpowering.  Plus, they are affordable.

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Vaseline Lip Therapy Rosy Lips

Vaseline Lip Therapy Rosy Lips: $3.75 FULL SIZE

This was my surprise love from this box.  It’s such a basic item but I really like it.  It leaves my lips feeling moisturized for at least an hour and it gives just enough color.

Birchbox for CEW Prestige Headliners Box

The products in the Prestige Headliners box are higher end, and only one of the products was full size.  But, I enjoy trying products that are more expensive at a reduced price.  And all the samples are large enough that I can use them quite a few times to determine if a product is effective enough to justify buying the full size version.

The Products:

Coola Environmental Repair Plus Radical Recovery After Sun Lotion

Coola Environmental Repair Plus Radical Recovery After Sun Lotion

COOLA Environmental Repair Plus® Radical Recovery™ After-Sun Lotion: $32.00 full size/$2.67 sample value

My picture got lost somewhere along the way, so I’m reusing the pic from when my husband got this in his Birchbox a couple months ago.  We hadn’t used his sample yet, but the day I got mine I got a sunburn.  I liked that this wasn’t greasy and the smell was mild.  I wouldn’t spend $32.00 on an after sun lotion, but next summer I might use $32.00 worth of points on it :)

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100% Pure Creamy Nail Polish

 100% Pure Creamy Nail Polish in Cloud: $12.00 FULL SIZE

I’ve gotten other 100% Pure products before but had no idea that they make nail polish.  Other boxes had more of a blush color which I would have preferred, but this will be good for the girls and to use on my toes.

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Josie Maran Cosmetics 100% Pure Argan Oil Light

 Josie Maran Cosmetics 100% Pure Argan Oil Light: $16.00 Full Size/$5.12 Sample Value

I’d never heard of Light Argan Oil before but from reading reviews it sounds like this is good for using on your face. I’ve only tried oil on my face once before and it left my skin feeling greasy. I’m leaving this to try in the fall when I start needing a heavier moisturizer for my face.

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Philosophy Miracle Worker Overnight

philosophy miracle worker® overnight: $68.00 full size/$13.60 sample value

I haven’t yet tried this but it’s supposed to boost collagen and reduce the appearance of wrinkles.  At $68.00 for 2 oz., I am hoping that I don’t like this at all :)

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Fekkai Brilliant Glossing Creme

Fekkai Brilliant Glossing Crème: $19.99 full size/$10.00 sample size

I love when a sample is at least half the size of the full size container! This is supposed to make hair shinier and smoother. I tried it on dry hair and it did make a difference. My hair also looked better and felt softer when I woke up the next morning.

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Bonus Items

Toe separators and a mirror were included in the Prestige Headliners box as bonus items.

Final Thoughts: I paid $28.00 for these boxes and received $78.81 worth of products ($35.43 in the Mass Appeal box and $43.38 in the Prestige Headliners box)!!!  These boxes were a great value and I will use everything that came in the two boxes plus I discovered some products I love.  I love that some are drugstore products that I can easily pick up.  And, I also discovered some more expensive products that will be put on my wish list for when I have more points to use :)

~ Elizabeth

This post contains referral links.