Saturday, March 30, 2013

Dickinson's Original Witch Hazel Oil Controlling Towelettes

Continuing with the theme of "things I got for free from Influenster," today I want to talk about witch hazel, or more specifically Dickinson's Original Witch Hazel Oil Controlling Towelettes. First of all what is witch hazel? Was there a witch? Was her name Hazel?

According to wikipedia: Witch-hazel (Hamamelis, pron.: /ˌhæməˈmlɪs/)[1] is a genus of flowering plants in the family Hamamelidaceae, with three species in North America (H. ovalis,[2] H. virginiana and H. vernalis), and one each in Japan (H. japonica) and China(H. mollis). The North American species are occasionally called winterbloom.


The name Witch in witch-hazel has its origins in Middle English wiche, from the Old English wice, meaning "pliant" or "bendable".[6] "Witch hazel" was used in England as a synonym for Wych Elm, Ulmus glabra;[7] American colonists simply extended the familiar name to the new shrub.[citation needed] The use of the twigs as divining rods, just as hazel twigs were used in England, may also have, by folk etymology, influenced the "witch" part of the name.

Medicinal uses

Main article: Witch hazel (astringent)

The leaves and bark of the North American Witch-hazel Hamamelis virginiana may be used to produce an astringent,[9] also referred to as witch hazel, and is used medicinally. This plant extract was widely used for medicinal purposes by American Indians and is a component of a variety of commercial healthcare products.[9]

It's mainly used externally on sores, bruises, and swelling. Witch hazel hydrosol is used in skin care. It is a strong anti-oxidant and astringent, which makes it very useful in fighting acne.[9] It is often used as a natural remedy for psoriasis, eczema, aftershave applications, ingrown nails, to prevent sweating of the face, cracked or blistered skin, for treating insect bites, poison ivy, and as a treatment for varicose veins and hemorrhoids.[10] It is found in numerous over-the-counter hemorrhoid preparations.[11] It is recommended to women to reduce swelling and soothe wounds resulting from childbirth.[12]

So there you go. There was not a witch named Hazel but there were several mentions of hemorrhoids. I am slightly disappointed.

Growing up I was lucky, I never had any problems with my skin. Then I got pregnant and my face tried to mutiny and I got acne and eczema that appeared to be fighting each other for the title of most severe. After the baby was born the situation only got slightly better. Finally I got extremely desperate and took a friends advice to try the Oil Cleansing Method (basically washing with oil. Sounds weird, is awesome.) It was a life saver and now I am down to only really needing to cleanse once a week or so. The downside of the OCM is that it takes a time commitment and sometimes I want to wash and go. Anytime I have tried commercial cleansers my issues have returned.

Dickinson's professes to be the leading name in witch hazel and features a variety of witch hazel based products. The product I received to try was that oil controlling towelettes.

I was on my way out of the house and feeling a bit oily when I noticed the box sitting on my desk and decided to give it a go.

My "before" picture

nice small package

the towelette was much bigger than I expected

Also smellier

And softer


And then I ran out the door and went to the movies. I didn't really think about it again until later that night which is a good thing. I didn't feel oily or dry or smelly and my skin stayed soft without a break out.

Final Verdict: I HIGHLY recommend this product for a quick rinse on the go!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Splenda Nectresse Part II

Yesterday my Nectresse coffee turned out to be bleck but I am a trooper and decided to give it another try. I even gave the Nectresse home field advantage by using a recipe that came with it for Pumpkin Walnut Pancakes.

The child is really into helping me cook right now, which I love and the husbandit had never seen so he pulled out the camera and snapped about 100 pictures before realizing there was no memory card in it.  Poor guy.  He did take a few pics with the card as proof that this did indeed happen.

You're welcome to his future spouse for teaching him how to cook.

Afterwards the boy even helped clean up.  Mom-mom loves this kid.

Even when he is incorrigible.

My favorite moment was this one right here:

My husband actually caught the moment when I realized the recipe said to "pour the milk" but listed no milk in the ingredients.  I ended up adding as much milk as I would in my favorite pancake recipe (1/2 cup).  Not cool Splenda, not cool.

They smelled pretty good too
Gideon made his elephant try the finished product first.

With her approval he took a bite himself

He ate the whole thing and then another the next morning so I assume he liked them.  The husbandit ate a couple on the train and said he enjoyed them as well.  I ate one, liked it, and then got a weird aftertaste.   As a person who has tried more than her fair share of low-cal sweeteners, I may be sensitive to that odd aftertaste they sometimes get.   I will say that had I used Splenda the taste would have been much stronger and more unpleasant.

Overall I give the Nectresse a thumbs up when used for cooking.  Oh and fun fact, you only use 2 tsp of the Nectresse in this recipe and they were plenty sweet.  IT IS VERY SWEET STUFF.  You have been warned.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Splenda Nectresse Part I

Influenster was kind enough to provide me with a complementary large (140 serving) sample of Splenda's new Nectresse all natural sweetener a couple of weeks ago and today I finally gave it a try.  The facts, Nectresse is made from monk fruit had 1 g of carbs and nothing else...seriously, take a look:

This taste test was really born out of necessity because I had the world's worst headache this morning that only caffeine could tame (this is what happens when your toddler bites you and then screams from the time out chair as though he was in fact the one who had been bitten).   We have a Mr Coffee machine that uses k-cups but when I looked in the cup drawer the only nonfroufy coffee drink I could find was Green Mountain's Dark Magic, something my husband purchased for his dark soul.

I usually take cream and sugar in my coffee as it is so I knew I would need something sweet for Dark Magic.  I drive the husband crazy with my love of Splenda in coffee, real sugar just isn't sweet enough for me, so once the coffee was brewed I cracked open the Nectresse.  First of all it has kind of an odd color and smell.  I thought maybe I just haven't smelled sugar in a while so I gave the real stuff a whiff too but it only confirmed the odd odor of the new stuff.

The smell is ... odd

checking the real sugar...not odd.

a color comparison
 Regardless of oddity I decided to go ahead and hit my evil brew with a couple of spoonfuls of the Nectresse (about half what I would normally use of Splenda).

me no like
Thinking I had just used too much I added a little milk to the concoction.

yeah it got worse
At this point I gave up on the coffee

And grabbed the only source of caffeine that I knew would make it all better...

Final Verdict:  In the words of my toddler "yuck."  Even better, in the words of Pedro Pony "It tastes of carpet flavored yogurt."

Since it is entirely possible that my negative feelings for this product have resulted from user error I have decided to give it a second chance.  Tomorrow I will be making a recipe for Pumpkin Walnut pancakes that came with this free sample.  Wish me luck!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Preschool Apps

If you are like me then you let your child play with electronic devices only when necessary, like when you are trying to cook, or clean, or give the dog a bath, or pack a suitcase, or get rid of a headache, or talk to gramma on the phone, etc.   The child has gotten pretty good at unlocking both my phone and Kindle Fire HD and can navigate to his favorite apps without my help (thankyouverymuchmama).  When I first looked for apps for Giddy I had no idea where to start so here are a few of our very most favorites for those of you who are new to preschool tech:

1. Preschool Monkey Lunchbox

This thing is insane and essentially toddler learning crack.  There is a monkey and he asks you to perform a task, maybe count some apples, pick out the biggest grapes, or select the word that starts with B.  After you perform several tasks you GET A STICKER.  

2. Another Monster at the End of This Book

Genius!  I am a huge fan of this book and love that it is now an app.  Grover and Elmo tell you the story and you get to help them both by either keeping the pages from turning or undoing Grover's traps.  Giddy can't get enough of knocking over the blocks!  Very easy to navigate and we aren't sick of it yet.  I won't spoil the ending for you but just know, there is a monster, or two, at the end of the story.

3. Peppa Pig

If you love Peppa you need this app.  You actually get to play Happy Mrs. Chicken.  'Nuff said.

4. Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood

Based on the sweet natured show from the Fred Rogers Foundation this app lets kids play with Daniel Tiger in 4 different ways.  You can play with stickers, help put him to bed, play doctor, or explore the bathroom (yep, they get to use as much toilet paper as they want).  Giddy loves all of the games and the music is very soothing.

5. Super Why

Giddy isn't very good at this game but he doesn't care because mama, it's WHY!  Besides the brand recognition it really is a good little learning app with games to help with rhyming, ABCs, spelling, and story completion.

6. My Play Home

This app is great for all ages.  There is a house, a family lives in it, you can interact with all the stuff and move the family around.  It is as good as a real dollhouse but no one has to step on the tiny kitchen table that somehow keeps ending up on the living room floor.  Or is that just me?

Have any other apps to recommend?  Let me know in the comments.

BelVita Breakfast Cookies

This morning I tried the BelVita Cinnamon Brown Sugar Breafast Biscuits that I received in my Influenster Sugar and Spice Vox Box.  That was a lot of capitalized words.

The facts:  There are 4 "biscuits" (largish cookies) per bag.  A whole bag has 230 Calories, 8g of fat, 220mg of sodium, 35g of carbs (3g dietary fiber), 4g of protein, 19g whole grains, and about 10% DV of iron, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and vit B6.   No high fructose corn syrup has touched these biscuits.

My thoughts:  The cookies are pretty!  I know, that's really neither here nor there but it is still true.

I liked the way they tasted, like a hearty graham cracker with a pinch of salt.  They were also very filling and made for a satisfying breakfast, which I wasn't expecting.  However, it damn well better be at 6 Weight Watchers points.  Yep, 6.  I was also kind of disappointed with the vitamin and mineral content, I was expecting some calcium at least, but mostly got riboflavin and thiamin.  The package says that I will be provided with nutritious sustained energy and the package was right.  I did some yoga this morning, glued the legs on some robots, and played with my child before cooking spaghetti for lunch.

According to the information sheet in the Vox Box, these retail at $3.69 for a box of 5 packets.   I found them on Amazon with a 4 pack of 4 selling for $15.70 but the reviews say they are less expensive in stores.

Final verdict:  I would buy this again (not online), assuming I was not on a weight loss plan.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Sugar N' Spice Vox Box

As I mentioned before, Influenster sent me a box of freebies last week.  It was big and orange and heavy.

I opened it up without a clue as to what would be inside and I was pleasantly surprised.

The item I am most excited about it the Vaseline Spray & Go moisturizer.

I didn't even know this existed, had I known I would probably already own it.  We relit our pilot light this evening because winter decided to come to TX after all, you know, in March.  Heater + Me = Dry skin.

Second place in the excitement race goes to the Colgate Optic White whitening system.

I have decided to indulge the science teacher in me and go all experimental with this, more on that tomorrow.

I am going to eat these belVita breakfast biscuits tomorrow.

I will have to come up with an excuse to use the Splenda Nectresse and Dickinson's oil controlling towlettes, I'll let you know how that goes.

Anyone else get an Influenster box?  What have you tried so far?

What is up with all of this?

We've all seen them on facebook, twitter, and our blog feeds; Influenster, House Party, Crowdtap, BzzAgentSwaggable, (and I am sure there are more), basically sites that say they want to connect you with your favorite brands (exciting!).  I think what they really want is to connect their paying brands with you but frankly I am not complaining.   As a member of House Party I received a box full of Hasbro games for free which made for a great New Year's Eve Party.  Free.  As in no money.  Believe me, I was shocked when it turned out not to be a scam, too.  I joined Influenster a while back and promptly forgot about it.  Last week I received a box of free stuff in the mail that made me feel like a big time poser.  Sure I love the free stuff but am I upholding my part of the bargain?  Fast forward to today and this new blog.  I am going to actually tell the world what I think about the products in my house.  Some of those products may have been sent to me by a company specifically so I can provide them with free advertising, so I will spread the word, even if that word is "Oh hell no."   Other products will be things we use everyday that I love/hate/saw near my computer.  I figure I already feel the need to tell the people in my life about what they should and should not be buying, why not tell strangers?  And finally other products will be things I have seen ads for and specifically purchased to review.  I also like to call these "things this blog gave me an excuse to buy."

So listen up folk, here's what I think...