DIY Dip Manicure on the Cheap that Doesn’t Look… Well… Cheap!

DIY Dip Manicure on the Cheap that Doesn’t Look… Well… Cheap!

The weather is starting to change and we’re sprinting towards the winter months. This means dry skin, dry hair, dry nails. Ok, you can only moisturize so much and cuticle or nail oil is great… when you actually remember it. I don’t know about you, but things around here are extra crazy this time of year and 2020 has not been kind to anyone, so I definitely don’t have time for 500 steps in my skincare routine right now.

My nails keep splitting and breaking way, way, WAY back. If I paint them this won’t help with the breaking, so I thought maybe I’d go get them done soon with a gel manicure. Ok, that might help some, but it still won’t stop them from splitting or breaking too far back. I suddenly remembered seeing a Facebook ad for dip manicures. Hmm… ok, but are they sturdy enough to withstand the cracking, splitting, and breaking nails?

Like all of my posts, I’m sure you know where I headed. Time for some hardcore Amazon research. I found many kits, but I always opt for the ones with the best price and best reviews. Bingo… I found a starter kit that contained colors I love and there was a coupon with a lightning deal. I looked at all of the photos, read the reviews, and this seemed like the real deal, so I went for it.

What I liked about this particular set is it seemed like there were only a few steps, the kit came with everything already included, and the colors were perfect! I chose the kit with a gray and pink color scheme. This particular kit had a two different color options, so if I did fall in love with it, I could order a second set in a different color scheme.

The directions were simple and there wasn’t too much to read through. I was able to apply the dip powder easily and quickly. I completed my entire manicure in about half an hour. The manicure looked great for a first attempt. I know the second attempt will be even better now that I know what I’m doing. Next time I will make sure I don’t get sloppy with the base coat as it can go outside the nail line fairly easily. Once you go outside of your nail line it adheres to your skin and it’s a little difficult to correct. When applying regular polish I’ve always gone very far outside of my nail line and cleaned it up later, but this forces me to be a little bit neater.

My nails are now strong, sturdy, and aren’t tearing, breaking, or chipping like they have been the last few weeks. I think this is a great solution to help me grow my nails out without them continually breaking. The colors are great in this kit, it is quick and easy to apply, and I found it to be very forgiving for a dip manicure newbie. For the price of one manicure I will now be able to keep up with them myself at home whenever I have time. I believe I will be purchasing an electric nail file to sand down the manicures when I need to fill in in a few weeks. Otherwise I think they’ll become a little too thick after fill-ins.

If you like a little more length than what you currently have, Amazon has a lot of options for tips. The directions in this kit even tell you how to apply the nail tips, then apply the dip manicure for a great finish.

Better Than McDonald’s Egg McMuffins (Freezer Friendly!)

Better Than McDonald’s Egg McMuffins (Freezer Friendly!)

img_5384Breakfast foods are some of my favorite foods… biscuits and gravy, eggs and bacon, and of course… breakfast sandwiches!  I’ve made breakfast sandwiches at home for years, usually one at a time, but that became a pain when kids came along (ain’t nobody got time for that!).  Since then I’ve perfected my breakfast sandwich game big time.  I hope this saves you time AND money at the drive-thru!  The best part about making these is the kids LOVE them!  They’re so easy to freeze and thaw in the microwave and come out perfect every time.

I use a whoopie pie  or muffin top pan (you can find them on Amazon!) for perfect eggs.  You can also use a cupcake or muffin pan, but they don’t turn out as evenly done.  Ramekins also work, but I find that they’re a little more of a pain since they’re not confined to a single pan.

Ingredients

  • 12 English Muffins
  • 12 eggs
  • 12 slices White American cheese (or any other cheese that you prefer-Gouda is excellent on these sandwiches!)
  • 12 slices of bacon (usually about a pound turns out just right), 12 sausage patties, or 12 slices of ham (Canadian bacon)
  • salt
  • pepper

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Prepare bacon or other desired meat.
  3. Spray the whoopie pie or muffin pan with nonstick spray.  Crack an egg into each cup.  Gently break the yolk of each egg to allow for even cooking.  Add salt and pepper to each egg to taste.  Cook in the oven 10 – 15 minutes or until yolks are cooked through.img_5383
  4. While the eggs are cooking, separate all of the English muffins and place on a working surface like a pan or covered counter top.  Place a slice of cheese on the bottom half of each muffin.  Fold the corners in so no cheese will melt outside the muffin.
  5. Once eggs are thoroughly cooked, place an egg on each slice of cheese.  Top with bacon or meat of choice and add the top bun.
  6. Allow the sandwiches to cool completely and add to a Ziploc bag.  Place all sandwiches in a large freezer bag and place in the freezer.
  7. To thaw the sandwiches, wrap the sandwich in a paper towel and heat in the microwave for 3 minutes and 45 seconds on 50% power, turning the sandwich over every minute.
VIPKid… the Whole Truth and Nothing but the Truth!

VIPKid… the Whole Truth and Nothing but the Truth!

Well, thanks to a friend’s Facebook post I have started a new adventure.  I am now teaching English to children in China.  No… seriously.  I am.

If you know me at all you know that I can’t stand to have only one thing on my plate.  Instead, I have plates on poles that I spin while standing on one foot attempting to balance them all perfectly not letting one single plate crash to the ground.

Scrolling through Facebook I notice a friend tagged me in a post about VIPKid.  VIP-what-huh?  I thought “That’s odd.  What is this and why am I being tagged?”.  I read her post talking about teaching Chinese kids English online.  Ok, that’s pretty cool, but she’s a teacher.  A professional teacher that knows what she’s doing.  That’s not me.  I’m an engineer.  I don’t have a teaching degree or any certifications, and I don’t want to recruit people.  Not my thing.  Looks really cool, but not my thing.

Fast forward and I keep seeing her posts about her students and they sound adorable.  I read on and she explained that all you need is a bachelor’s degree, webcam, laptop with a camera, or an iPad, a backdrop, and a headset with a microphone.  Hmmm… ok, I could do this.  Wait… how many people do I have to recruit to actually make money? None.  Ok, what is the quota of classes I have to teach to actually make money?  None.  Surely there’s something to this I’m missing…

Ever the skeptic, I checked out their website and watched a few YouTube videos.  Ok, it can’t be this easy.  I checked out some reviews.  They were all honest reviews and it seemed to all check out.  Fine.  I gave in.  This could be my next spinning plate to balance.  The good news is this one would actually make some extra cash instead of spending it.  This side gig is rewarding, fun, doesn’t cost anything to begin, and doesn’t feel like a job.  To all of those mommas out there, the hours are WHEN YOUR CHILD SLEEPS!  Finally, a mom friendly side gig (or main gig!) that is legitimate (yep… I’m looking at you, pyramid schemes disguised as “multi-level marketing businesses”).

If you’re interested in VIPKid, how to get hired, and how teaching classes has been so far (with an HONEST review), look no further… I’ll fill you in!  If there are any questions this blog doesn’t answer or you’d like me to mentor you through the VIPKid process, please drop me a line using the contact form at the bottom of this post.

This is a long post and if you’re like me and don’t want to read a novel to get the information you actually WANT to read, here’s a handy breakdown of what this post contains so you can skip to the part you’re actually interested in:

  1. Where to Begin (the Qualifications)
  2. The Demo or Smart Demo
  3. The Mock Class
  4. The Contract
  5. Booking Classes
  6. How Many Bookings Can I Expect?
  7. What Classes Should I REALLY Certify In?
  8. How Much Can I Actually Make Teaching for VIPKid?
  9. Would I Recommend VIPKid?

I’ll follow this post up with some other great VIPKid insights I’ve gained as well as classroom tips, tricks, and stories.

Where to Begin (the Qualifications)

VIPKid requires at least a Bachelor’s degree (ANY Bachelor’s degree… Underwater Basket Weaving?  Yep!  They accept it!) and at least a year’s experience “teaching” children.  Were you a coach?  A Sunday School teacher?  Did you say hi to a kid in the hallway once? Ok… maybe not the last one, but you get the gist here.  ANY experience counts… you don’t have to solely have teaching experience!

Alright, now that you know the qualifications, here’s how to see if you pass the initial qualifications: enter your information on their website OR you can use a referral link.  If you prefer to use my referral link, you will be listed as my referral and I will be able to provide tips and information throughout your process.  Please contact me using the form at the bottom of this blog if you plan on using my referral link and I would be happy to help!

The Demo or Smart Demo

If you qualify after the application process, you will be required to provide a full (5 minute) Demo or a shortened Smart Demo.

The Demo

The Demo is a shortened 5 minute demonstration of your teaching skills.  You can complete this demo and record your class (pretending you have a student in front of you) or you can present this demo live to a VIPKid staff member.  VIPKid looks at several things during a Demo:

  1. Speaking Speed and Language: Speak slowly and avoid using too many “ums, likes, uhs.” Read more about teacher talk here.
  2. TPR (Total Physical Response): Use body language to convey meaning. Read this intro to TPR on our blog or watch this TPR video.
  3. Modeling: Demonstrate what you want the student to do. Do you want the child to circle something? Draw a circle in the air as you speak.
  4. Repetition: It’s always helpful to repeat key words or sentences. Read more about repetition here. 

Nancy Taylor is a VIPKid brand ambassador and makes excellent videos to demonstrate and explain parts of the VIPKid hiring process as well as helpful classroom tips.  Here are her tips for the Demo:

The Smart Demo

The Smart Demo is a very quick, approximately 2 minute video taken on a mobile device with the following format:

  • Record a short video demo
  • Immediately receive feedback
  • Lesson tips are provided throughout the process

The same tips for the Demo apply to the Smart Demo.  Check out this video from Nancy Taylor for some helpful tips on the Smart Demo.

The next step in the VIPKid hiring process is the Mock Class.  The Mock Class allows applicants to demonstrate the VIPKid tools they have learned in a Mock Class setting with a mentor.

The Mock Class

For the Mock Class portion of the VIPKid hiring process, applicants will teach a class to a mentor.  This class is a PowerPoint that is approximately 10 slides long.  Think of the Mock Class as job training.  Most applicants do not pass their first Mock Class, but go on to complete 2, 3, or more Mock Classes.  Mock Classes are scheduled with a mentor who will pretend to be a student, observe your teaching, then provide feedback on how you completed the lesson.  The Mock Class only lasts about 30 minutes and if you do not pass the first time, you schedule another 30 minute time block until you pass

Here are a few tips for the Mock Class:

  • Reward system and supplementary tools: use them to motivate students and support the overall lesson objectives
  • Modeling: ensure that modeling follows the “I do- we do- you do” sequence. Use hand gestures, interactive functions, and props when modeling.
  • Lesson Objectives: meet the lesson objectives that are laid out in the beginning of the lesson (E.g. Vocabulary, sentence frames, HFW, phonics, math, social studies, etc.)
  • TPR: use body language to explain the vocabulary
  • Speaking Speed and Language: Teacher output (speaking speed, difficulty and complexity of language) is appropriate for the student’s level and incidental language (filler language, etc) is avoided or minimized.
  • Extension: Teacher extends the lesson content according to the student’s language proficiency level by adding level-appropriate new knowledge or drawing on what the student has previously learned.
  • Phonics: learn how to do TPR for phonics

There are two level options for new hires to certify for at VIPKid.  There is the 2/3 level certification as well as a level 4/5 certification.  Applicants may choose one level option or complete both.  If you complete both you don’t have to go through the hassle of certifying for two separate levels after you pass a Mock Class, but you will be certified for all four levels.  If you only choose to complete and pass one Mock Class you will have to qualify to certify for each other level separately later, which can take longer and be a bit more of a hassle (see my section about Certifications).

VIPKid provides Mock Class PowerPoint slides for applicants to prepare for each demo.  VIPKid also provides lesson objectives for mock classes A & B.  I will warn you, I didn’t find the objectives particularly helpful, but the PowerPoint slides are amazing to practice from.  They are the exact lesson and you can practice pacing, TPR, and prepare props for each lesson.

Mock Class Levels 2/3

You can download VIPKid’s Mock Class slides for levels 2/3 here: Mock Class 2/3 PowerPoint Slides

Here are Nancy Taylor‘s sample Mock Classes for both A & B.  I found that these helped me prepare the most for the Mock Class.

Mock Class Levels 4/5

Here is a sample and tips for passing the Level 4/5 Mock Class from Nancy Taylor:

The Mock Class mentors are very informative and helpful.  Their job is to make sure you’re prepared for your first VIPKid class.  If you do have to schedule multiple Mock Classes, don’t be discouraged!  Think of it as getting more practice and you’ll be more prepared for your first class!  Once you pass your Mock Class you’ll be prompted by VIPKid to sign your contract.

The Contract

After being contacted by VIPKid that the Mock Class has been passed, they’ll allow you to sign your contract.  To complete your contract you must submit the following:

  • Contact information
  • Profile photo – something professional that will grab the attention of parents booking classes
  • Featured photos – fun photos that show your personality
  • Introductory video – a fun video that will help parents see your teaching style and will encourage them to book you for classes (check out Nancy Taylor’s tutorial for making a video using your iPhone below)
  • About me – add information that will tell parents more about you, your teaching style, and what you hope to do to help their children learn English
  • VIPKid Certification – all applicants must obtain the VIPKid Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) certification prior to signing a contract (you can read more about the VIPKid TESOL in the Certifications section of this post)
  • Degree information – VIPKid only accepts a photo of your degree
  • Certifications – list any teaching certifications you may have

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Your contract will include your base pay (VIPKid uses incentives in a tiered system) information as well.  Once your contract is signed, your base pay is set and you are ready to teach!

Booking Classes

Once your contract is signed there will be a short window of time that booking will be unavailable to you (around an hour or so).  Once this window of time ends, you may begin booking your classes.  Booking slots may be opened and marked “Short Notice”.  Short Notice denotes that you are willing to teach a course with less than 24 hours notice up to an hour before the class begins.

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If you choose to become certified in trials (trial classes for those interested in signing up for VIPKid), there is an option to turn on a function called Trial Rebooking.  If a trial student doesn’t show up to class, you may be moved to a new classroom with a new student at a moment’s notice.  This function is great to ensure you have a student to teach and receive full pay.  If you’d prefer to get some practice before being rebooked at a moment’s notice, this function may be turned off in Account Center in the Teacher Portal.

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Just make sure that whatever slots you open you are able to teach at those times.  There are penalties (financial and potentially harmful to your contract renewal or dismissal) for canceling a class or not showing up for class.

How Many Bookings Can I Expect?

There is no easy answer for this one.  I had around 6-7 classes my first and second month as a VIPKid teacher.  Apparently, this isn’t the norm-it’s usually much lower and some teachers don’t receive any bookings at all their first few months.  My third month I only taught one or two classes, but during this time the entire country was navigating COVID-19.  This was a terrible time to be a newbie because not only were brick and mortar teachers home and opening more slots (of course students will choose veteran teachers!), but bookings were down in China due to the children returning to school and their normal lives at this point.  Add to all of this chaos the thousands of new hires due to people in America looking for any work from home opportunities they could find.

Last month I taught approximately 20-25 classes and this month I will be teaching many more as my schedule is almost full.  I noticed a large increase in bookings when I certified to teach trials and gained more experience.  The more classes you certify for, the better chance your schedule will be booked.

VIPKid just recently changed their pay incentive system for veteran teachers.  Newer teachers (which is the category I fall in) seem to be booked more often, since we’re technically receiving less pay.  This hasn’t been outright stated, but from what I’ve observed in teacher groups this seems to be the case.  Just as the number of classes I’m teaching seem to increase, it seems that I have observed more veteran, higher paid teachers receiving fewer bookings and sometimes zero bookings.

All of this being said, this isn’t an instantaneous money maker.  It takes time to market yourself and build up regular students or become comfortable teaching trials to gain new students.

What Classes Should I REALLY Certify In?

All. Of. Them.  No, really.  Whatever is available to certify in, certify in it.  If you decide you don’t like teaching a particular type of class you can send a ticket to VIPKid to have that certification removed if you don’t care for that type of class.

Certifications will only become available if you’ve received an advanced certification in a prior level, taught a certain number of classes, or received a certain amount of 5 Apple feedback from parents.

An Advanced Certification is received after teaching five classes of a newly certified level.  After five classes are taught, VIPKid will review one of the five classes taught and if the teacher passes, they’ll receive an Advanced Certification for that level and may teach as many courses in that level as they receive bookings for.

If there is a level or supplementary course a teacher would like to become certified in, the certifications will be listed under Resources ⇒ Certifications.

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Major Course and Supplementary courses will be the first certifications any VIPKid may qualify for.  Clicking on the course will provide details about what is necessary to qualify for the certification at the bottom of the page.

There are also TESOL and TEFL Edu Courses available.  These should be certifications that all VIPKid teachers obtain.  Parents can see that teachers have certified for all of them and they will be more likely to book classes with teachers who hold these certifications.

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How Much Money Can I Actually Make Teaching for VIPKid?

The answer to this question is similar to the question, “How Many Classes Can I Expect to Book?”.  It just depends on how many slots are left open consistently, how many courses you’re certified for, and how many bookings you’re getting.

VIPKid has incentives for finishing courses as scheduled.  These incentives are applied in a Tier system on top of a teacher’s base pay.  Teacher Chelsey breaks down the different tiers in her Incentive Chart.

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Photo Credit: Teacher Chelsey

VIPKid also provides short notice incentives.  If a teacher opens short notice slots, they may be booked for a class with less than a 24 hour notice up to within one hour of the scheduled class.  If a short notice class is completed as scheduled, teachers receive an extra $2 on top of their base pay.

If teachers certify in trials, teach a trial class, then a student signs up for VIPKid, teachers receive a $5 incentive.  This is why trials are great to teach because you not only might have a potential new regular student (yay regular bookings!), but you will also receive an extra $5 if they sign up for VIPKid.

If you’d like to get a feel for what I made my first few months with VIPKid, here is a breakdown:

  • Month 1: $60.20
  • Month 2: $60.20
  • Month 3: $13.30
  • Month 4: $264.60
  • Month 5 (current month, half way through the month): $401.40

Since my bookings started picking up a lot this month, I closed a lot of slots so I could give myself a bit of a break.  My goal is to make around $700/month with VIPKid.  If bookings are consistent, this will be easily achievable.

Would I Recommend VIPKid?

YES.  Yes, yes, and… yes.  I am not dependent on the income from VIPKid, so the fluctuation in bookings, the slow start, and the current impact coronavirus and relationship with China doesn’t deter me from making extra money while my bookings are currently increasing.  The pay is decent for a 25 minute course I can teach before my kids wake up or after they go to sleep at night.

The prep for classes is fairly minimal.  I enjoy grabbing props to use for lessons, preparing what reward I will give my students, and seeing their smiling faces when they come on the camera every class.  Are there some that don’t want to be there?  Absolutely!  But when you turn a child around and they begin to actively participate and enjoy class it’s great.  You also have to remember… it’s a 25 minute class.  It will be over shortly if it doesn’t go so well and you get another shot during the next class.

Once you get a rhythm down it’s easy to be excited about trying new reward systems, new camera technologies in the classroom to make it more interesting, or using very simple props.  The great part about VIPKid is you can open as many or as few booking slots as you’d like-YOU are in charge.  Don’t want to spend a lot of time on props? Don’t!  Grab an apple, a banana, something that has the color that is in the lesson and you’re DONE.  It’s all about the delivery and how you would like to run your classroom.

VIPKid provides all of the tools to make your classes a success.  Bookings may be slow to roll in at first, but they’ll come in time.  It’s great to sign up, see if it’s for you, then figure the rest out along the way!

Contact me with any questions about VIPKid you may have!  I would be happy to help with anything I can to help you on your VIPKid journey!

Open Your Eyes… Literally!

Open Your Eyes… Literally!

I’ve been setting my alarm earlier and earlier lately (I know… it’s quarantine… I should be sleeping in…).  When I finally get out of bed I have very little time to get ready, but I NEED to look awake since I’ll be on camera teaching students.  My tricks?  Eye brightener, highlighter, and my trusty eye cream that even graced the list of Best Eye Creams from ConsumersAdvocate.org.  So quick and easy!  The three products I always use are also affordable AND on Amazon.  Win-win!

LilyAna Naturals Eye Cream

img_5248I’ve written about this eye cream before and it seems to have a cult following.  It has great ingredients, is never greasy, is affordable, and is convenient since it’s on Amazon.  The awesome people at ConsumersAdvocate.org have placed this eye cream at number 2 on their Best Eye Cream Based on In-Depth Reviews list!

Number 3 on the ConsumersAdvocate.org list might be my next product test: Neutrogena Hydro Gel Boost Eye Cream.  I already use the Neutrogena Hydro Gel Boost moisturizer, so I’ll let you know if their eye cream passes the test!

TONYMOLY Panda’s Dream Brightening Eye Base

img_5250I’m a firm believer in concealer because… kids.  I’ve always loved Maybelline’s Instant Age Rewind‘s concealer, but lately I haven’t even had time for that.  The TONYMOLY Panda’s Dream Brightening Eye Base is so easy to use that it’s fool-proof!  Since it’s not really a concealer, but an eye base, you don’t have to match shades of skin tone, you can swipe it on, smooth it, and GO!  I usually finish the under eye area off with powder, otherwise my mascara does stick to the base after a few hours and no one likes the raccoon look.

This base does a wonderful job of neutralizing dark circles and when paired with a little powder almost works as good as a concealer.

jane iredale Highlighter Pencil

img_5249I keep seeing Facebook ads for Thrive Cosmetics highlighters.  I can’t tell you how many freaking times I’ve clicked on those things!  I just don’t want to become addicted to a product that I have to order from a company directly.  Amazon, Target, and Ulta are my go-tos, so I figured they had to have something similar.  Of course Amazon came though for me.  The jane iredale Highlighter Pencil does everything the Thrive pencil does, has two different shades in one pencil, and came with a great sharpener.  I use the pink toned color under the brow as a highlighter, under the lower lash line, and along the inner portion of the lid.  The white color is great in the lower lash line and inner corner of the eye to open up the eyes.  It makes my eyes appear so much more awake and open.

Alright… go open your eyes!  Moms, I know you can identify with the lack of time and dark circles. You’re welcome!

Homemade Weed Killer… That Actually Works!

Homemade Weed Killer… That Actually Works!

img_4707We seriously must live on the most fertile plot of land in our entire city… maybe even state.  We’ve had problems with weeds since we moved into this house.  Yeah, I know… everyone has weeds.  But weeds taller than you in a few weeks?  I’ve used Preen, mulch, Round Up (uh huh… *gasp*… I used the poison… judge away), rocks in the flowerbed (don’t do it… it’s a bad idea), and anything else I could think of.  It turns out the “natural” recipe I found (thanks again, Google…) actually works as well or better than Round Up.  And the minstrels rejoiced (yaaaaaaaay).

I always hated using Round Up because of its ingredients, but I REALLY hated using it after getting a furry friend and now that we have kids.  They love being outside and I hate cringing after spraying Round Up everywhere.  This recipe is much, MUCH safer, works well, and lasts about as long as Round Up.  So, spray the heck out of those weeds without getting dirty looks for using chemicals.  This one actually works… promise!

Ingredients

  • 1 gallon Distilled White Vinegar
  • 2 cups table salt (iodized or not-both work!)
  • 1 Tbsp Dawn dish soap (original blue works great)

Directions

  1. Add all ingredients to a spray dispenser and mix well.
  2. Spray those weeds until they die!
Misfits Market: A Review & Coupon Code!

Misfits Market: A Review & Coupon Code!

I buy the same produce over, and over, and… over.  I never really try anything new and even though I do cook a variety of vegetables (that neither of my children will EVER eat) and I typically buy whatever fruit is on sale because if I get what looks good I end up with the entire produce department in my cart, which ends up rotting on our countertop.  Scrolling through Facebook (stop judging… you know that’s all there is to do right now!) I noticed a friend’s post about her Misfits Market box.  Hmmm… that’s an idea!  The picture she posted had a wide variety of produce with a few pieces of each item.  That’s PERFECT.  I surely wouldn’t pick most of these things in the produce section and let’s be honest… when am I actually in a store lately?  Um, never.

She posted her coupon code for referrals (25% your first order-woohoo! Use coupon code COOKWME-UD0VIL), so I checked out their website.  It was easy enough to set up and just as easy to cancel or change your delivery schedule.  They offer a smaller box for $22 or a larger box for $35.

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I opted for the smaller box delivered every other week to see how it goes before going crazy with the larger box.

My first box arrived and I was like a kid receiving a Christmas gift on the doorstep.  Since we’ve all been quarantined until the end of time, small things excite me, ok?  I loved the surprise element of the box and that I could make something different for a change!

The produce was in an insulated box with a reusable ice pack (bonus!).  Most of the produce was in pretty good shape except for an orange that was pretty worse for wear and had to be thrown out.

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I’ve never really used radishes for much, but a great suggestion sheet was included in the package for buttered bread with sliced radish and sea salt.  The mango and pears were not yet ripe, but were probably the best mango and pear I’ve ever eaten!  The cucumber was great, but the celery was a little banged up and unfortunately didn’t last all that long in the refrigerator.  I was able to use the base of the celery to propagate it in water, so we’ll call it a win. The potatoes and onions are still hanging in there, but I haven’t used them yet.  Unfortunately the squash and zucchini only lasted a few days and had to be thrown away.  I haven’t cooked the delicata squash yet, but I have found a few recipes that sound pretty good, so I’ll be making that next.  I did find an awesome recipe for roasted rutabaga, which I’ve never even thought about buying before.  The recipe is definitely worth a try!

The second box I received seemed to be a little less banged up as all of the produce survived.  This box was left on the porch right-side-up, unlike the first box that was left upside down.

This box included a larger stalk of celery (that was in great shape this time and should last much longer than the last stalk), a head of broccoli, 3 oranges, 3 apples, a medium-sized yellow squash, a medium-sized zucchini, curly leaf parsley (which smelled AMAZING), 3 small jalapeno peppers, 3 salad cucumbers, an onion, two small sweet potatoes, and a small butternut squash.

This produce seemed to be in much better shape than the first box, but again, the first box was sitting on our front porch upside-down, so there’s that.  After your first box you’re able to customize your box a little more or add items (for additional fees) to your next box.  I chose not to since I just wanted to see what would come in boxes to be able to make new and different recipes.  Hopefully more recipes will be coming your way thanks to these boxes!

I definitely think these boxes are worth it.  They have saved me a visit to the store just for produce and have allowed me to try new recipes.  If the next few boxes are as good as the first two I’ll be changing my subscription to the larger box.  I don’t think you’ll regret checking out Misfits Market!

A Review: Foundation – A Love/Hate Relationship

A Review: Foundation – A Love/Hate Relationship

My sister-in-law asked what foundation I’ve been using lately and it hit me: I have SO many foundations and I have so many that I love for many different reasons.  I call foundation a love/hate relationship because while it can make a look awesome, it can also look plastered on if you don’t use a good primer or if your skin is too dry. I figured I’d share a few of my favorite full, medium, and light coverage options I use often and some tips that help get the most wear time out of each of them.  I’d love to know some of your favorites!

After applying these foundations with a beauty blender, I follow up with a loose powder (I use Coty Airspun) and a setting spray (NYX Matte Finish is my go to) to get the most wear time out of any foundations I use.

Full Coverage

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Milani Conceal + Perfect

I’m starting with this one because it conceals EVERYTHING and doesn’t look very cakey.  Make sure to use a great moisturizer before applying and maybe a light primer.  It looks pretty natural considering how well the coverage is.  I also always follow up immediately with a loose powder and setting spray to make it last as long as possible.

L’Oreal Infallible Foundation

This is probably my favorite and most used foundation.  It goes on smoothly, covers very well without looking like you’ve caked 10 lbs of concealer on your face, and wears ALL day.  It’s also easy to build up if you need more coverage.  A little primer before applying goes a long way and finishing with loose powder and setting spray will get you an entire day of wear easily.

Maybelline Dream Urban Cover60909369241__56c18cf7-85a7-49cd-b13b-248e1af5fcbe

This is a great foundation if you’re looking for high coverage with an SPF.  It goes on pretty well, but I chose a horrible shade for my skin tone.  I’m sure if I get the right shade for my skin it will look A LOT better.  It’s still a great foundation and I’m able to make it work with some blending when I want a good SPF foundation.

Medium Coverage

60909384050__0ee27b6f-b83a-499f-a087-43f0a1e97d04Wet n’ Wild Photo Focus

You guys… this foundation doesn’t even cost $5 and it’s one of my FAVORITES of all time.  It really could be considered full coverage because it’s easily buildable.  The color match is awesome, the formula is pretty thin, so it’s easy to apply, and it looks SO good on.  You can’t go wrong with this one!

Wet n’ Wild Mega Cushion Foundation60909419825__98c44055-084d-4b48-9841-7d3543af3792

I love this foundation for something different.  It kind of gives my skin a dewey look without looking like I have an oily face.  Paired with a little loose powder it goes a long way.  The only down side to this foundation is that since it is a cushion foundation, I feel like there is a lot less product in the container.

 

 

 

Light Coverage

Burt’s Bees BB Creamimg_4315

Last, but definitely not least, Burt’s Bees BB Cream.  I use this nearly every day, so I don’t have to be careful when I apply it.  It goes on smoothly and is practically a tinted moisturizer.  It doesn’t break out my face and usually doesn’t look super oily by the end of the day if I use loose powder after applying.  I don’t usually use a beauty blender with this and it blends great.  Don’t bother with a primer because it lasts FOREVER.  Primer usually makes this foundation settle in lines and look a little thicker than it should. A little goes a long way and as long as I have a great under eye concealer, this is great for everyday wear.

One Pot Cheesy Sausage Pasta

One Pot Cheesy Sausage Pasta

cheesy pasta
Photo Credit: RiverBender.com

Cheese.  Sausage.  Pasta.  All in one pot. Ingredients I usually have on hand at all times.  Easy weeknight meal with no prep whatsoever.  Yeah… we eat this quite a bit.  Good thing it’s delicious 😉   This is also a flexible recipe.  I’ve used all shapes and kinds of pasta from farfalle to rotini to whole grain pasta-it all works.  Out of shredded Cheddar-Jack cheese?  No problem!  Use whatever shredded cheese you happen to have on hand.  I adapted my recipe from one I found from RiverBender.com.  You can check out the original here!

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb Smoked Turkey Sausage, sliced
  • 1 cup frozen diced onion (fresh is fine, too-I use frozen to save time)
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic (about two fresh cloves)
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can Chicken Broth
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup milk or heavy cream
  • 8 oz dry pasta (any small pasta will do)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper, each
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar-Jack cheese
  • 1/3 cup chopped scallions, for garnish

Directions

1. Add olive oil to a 4-5 quart saute pan over medium high heat. Add onions and sausage and cook until lightly browned. Add garlic and cook for about 30 seconds.
2. Add chicken broth, tomatoes, milk, pasta, and seasonings. Bring the mixture to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to low. Simmer for about 15 minutes, or until pasta is tender.
3. Turn off the heat and stir in 1/2 cup of cheese. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top and cover for about five minutes to allow cheese to melt. Top with sliced scallions and serve.

I typically use a lot more cheese than a cup, because… cheese!  This is a recipe everyone loves.  You can customize it to your taste by using your pasta and cheese of choice, omitting chopped scallions or using green onion, and the list goes on.  I hope you enjoy this one!

Great Exfoliators and Moisturizers to Beat the Dry Weather!

Great Exfoliators and Moisturizers to Beat the Dry Weather!

I meant to write this one before winter began, so I’m a little late on this one.  Hopefully there are a few products here that make the rest of the dry winter months a little more tolerable.  After all, you can only drink so much water in a 24 hour period to try to keep you hydrated!  Moisturizers are great, but exfoliating allows moisturizers to do their thing, so I’ve thrown a few of my favorites in as well.  Let me know what some of your favorites are!

Exfoliators

Soap & Glory Flake Away Body Polish

flake away
Photo Credit: Target

We’ll start with a great body scrub.  I’ve tried numerous body scrubs from those with crushed walnut shells, salt scrubs (yeah… don’t use those if you plan on shaving… you know, the phrase “don’t rub salt into the wound” should tell you why this is a bad idea…), and scrubs that I have no clue what they contain.  This one is hands down my favorite.  Actually, I’m not sure I’ve ever tried anything by Soap & Glory I didn’t love.  This scrub contains moisturizing shea butter, sugar, and peach seed powder to naturally exfoliate.  The scent of this scrub can’t even be described-one of my favs!

PMD Beauty Personal Microderm & PMD Clean

pmd
Photo Credit: Sephora

Alright.  Another Facebook ad made me do it.  I had seen ads for Personal Microderm for what seemed like months and as my skin ages and becomes dryer, uneven toned, and hyper-pigmented in areas, I decided to check out the reviews, which surprisingly were mostly positive.  I’ll spare you the details and I’ll post an entire review of the system after I’ve been using it a little longer than four weeks.  I will say in the short term I’ve loved the system as an exfoliator and my skin has never been this smooth and even after using the microderm every week the PMD Clean twice daily when cleansing.  All products seem to absorb much better because of this system.

e.l.f. Lip Exfoliator

lip exfoliator
Photo Credit: Target

Cheap.  Effective.  Look no further.  Seriously!  That’s about it for this one.  This exfoliator is a little more coarse than most I’ve tried, but it’s by far my favorite.  It absorbs well, exfoliates well, and the sugar crystals dissolve well.  Perfect for matte liquid lipstick obsessions.

 

 

Dr. Pedicure Foot Exfoliation Peeling Mask

mask
Photo Credit: Amazon

This one is by far the strangest in my lineup.  It’s a mask… for your feet.  Not kidding.  The package contains a set of plastic booties you put on your feet, secure them with tape so they don’t leak, let the chemicals do their thing, and in about a week or so all of the dead skin on your feet peels continually until it’s completely removed.  Disgusting?  Yes.  Effective?  Also yes.  Soo… whatevs.  If it works it works.  And it does work.  I don’t think any pedicure could’ve given me softer feet than this did.  Now I just do maintenance by using a natural pumice stone.  If my feet ever are in dire need again, I’ll definitely be grabbing another pack of these babies.

Moisturizers

Soap & Glory The Righteous Butter

righteous butter
Photo Credit: Target

Probably my favorite on this list.  Your skin will thank you every time you use this magical body butter.  I’m not exaggerating.  I have yet to find something more moisturizing and longer lasting than this stuff.  Amazing.

 

 

Soap & Glory Heel Genius

heel genius
Photo Credit: Target

Yep.  Another Soap & Glory product.  I’m telling you… they’re so effective, have such an amazing scent, and are so long lasting that I have yet to find anything that tops their products.  I’m able to maintain well manicured feet with this product alone as long as I apply it every night in the winter months and after showering in the summer months.

 

 

 

LilyAna Naturals Eye Cream Moisturizer

eye cream
Photo Credit: Popsugar

I know this isn’t necessarily a full moisturizer, but it’s awesome if my skin needs a little more moisture on dry days.  I use it as an eye cream twice a day, then on other areas of the face as needed and it does the job.

 

 

 

Organic Fractionated Coconut Oil

coconut oil
Photo Credit: Amazon

Coconut oil has always been suggested to me for dry skin, but alas, I can’t handle the greasiness that comes along with it.  So, I did what I usually do: search Amazon for a solution.  What I found was fractionated coconut oil that isn’t “greasy”, but is definitely oily (it’s an oil… so, duh).  In the winter months I put this on my hands, rub it in as much as possible, then apply O’Keefe’s Working Hands afterward, which seems to seal the moisture in.

O’Keefe’s Working Hands

working hands
Photo Credit: Amazon

I use this during the day when my hands become really dry because it’s not greasy, absorbs well, and keeps moisture in for a long time.  As I said before, this works great after applying fractionated coconut oil before bed to lock in the moisture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amazon Fire Kids 7” Tablet Regularly $147.93 for $49.99!

Amazon Fire Kids 7” Tablet Regularly $147.93 for $49.99!

Thanks to a friend of mine, I came across her Facebook post asking parents for recommendations on tablets. I immediately thought, “Nah… our son doesn’t need a tablet. He uses my iPad. That continually runs out of space. Ok… maybe a tablet is a good idea.” So, I read down the feed and parent after parent suggested the Amazon Fire Kids. They said it was durable, easy to use, you can set time limits, and most said it was affordable. Ok, sounds alright. Then my friend posted a link stating that you can get one for $49.99 shipped from HSN. Hmmm… surely they can’t give a better deal than Amazon, right? Wrong! The same tablet is $99 on Amazon.

After reviewing the tablet it sounds like a decent buy. There is a 2 year guarantee from Amazon, a very durable case, and you can add pretty much any app. There are also parental and time controls available.

I checked out the website and the deals listed and the $49.99 (code 187109) is after a $20 code using MasterPass. Well, I’m not signing up for MasterPass, BUT there is a $10 off coupon code for new HSN users. So, $59.99 shipped (code 10NEW) is still a great deal. I’ll post a review when the tablet gets here. This will be a great Christmas gift!