Thursday, May 30, 2013

Her May 2013 Birchbox

This month's Birchbox came with a beauty diaries theme. I don't know that I understand how that connects to the products I got but that's OK. I don't have to understand the theme in order to enjoy the box. This is what I got this month...

Click the photo to see more about the subscription.

Sumita Color Contrast Eyeliner
Birchbox says: Inspired by traditional Indian formulas, this velvety liner glides on easily and lasts for hours.
My review: I do not wear eyeliner so I'm going to give this one away using the gift box they included.

Isaac Mizrahi FABULOUS Isaac Mizrahi Eau de Parfum
Birchbox says: For his first scent, the designer created a fanciful blend of mandarin and jasmine laced with vanilla.
My review: This fragrance seemed very faint to me. It smelled OK but it was hard to detect after about 10 minutes.

amika Obliphica Nourishing Mask
Birchbox says: Packed with omega acids and vitamic C, this lush conditioning mask boosts shine and even helps repair split ends.

COOLA Classic Face SPF 30 Cucumber Moisturizer for Face
Birchbox says: This mineral sunblock is infused with organic antiaging ingredients like evening primrose extract and borage seed oil.

Marvis Classic Mint Toothpaste
Birchbox says: A stylish Italian import with an invigorating peppermint flavor.
My review: I was so surprised when I saw toothpaste in the box. I thought it was very smooth - not gritty like some. It wasn't an overpowering peppermint flavor which some can be. I don't know that it made my teeth any cleaner than my normal Crest though so I will stick with what I have.

Pilot Acroball
Birchbox says: We want our pens to be just as stylish as our accessories, which is why we love Pilot Pen's latest innovation, the new Acroball PureWhite hybrid ink pen.
My review: I am a HUGE pen snob. I am constantly hunting for and buying new pens. This pen has pink ink which is not my first choice but it writes nicely. I could see myself using the coupon and buying the four-pack.

So that is my May Birchbox. Overall, I give it...
...because I know I will not use all the samples and I will likely throw away a few before they are finished. However, the pen and corresponding coupon were a nice touch.

What did you think of your May Birchbox?

Happy Sampling, 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

His: Living in America: May 29th

      The first time my family came to visit me in America was about four years after I moved here. We met them in Washington DC and took them around to see the sights. That evening Amanda and I took them out to eat at a restaurant. We were seated, had looked over the menu and made our selections. Amanda and I were quite thirsty and had the waitress refill our soft drinks/sodas a few times while we waited for our meals to be cooked. I noticed but paid no attention that Amanda and I were the only ones getting our drinks refilled. My mother, father and sister simply sipped and nursed the first drink they were given. After a while my sister remarked that we must be spending a small fortune on each drink we were being brought. Suddenly it clicked that they did not realize that refills on drinks are normally free in restaurants throughout America which not the norm in Australia. We quickly told them that refills were free and had the waitress bring them another drink each.

     Free refills on drinks are common in most restaurants in America, both in fast food and in sit down restaurants. There are exceptions but unless it is specifically signposted you can expect to get your drink refilled without further charge. This applies only to sodas/pop/soft drinks, tea, coffee and iced tea and not other drinks like milk, juice and alcoholic beverages. I had become so used to getting free refills on drinks in America that I totally forgot to tell my family about it. I felt bad but I was glad that my sister spoke up so we could fix it. Often it is printed on the menu that the refills are free but its normally in small print so unless you were looking for it you could easily miss it.

    Drink refills are normally not free in Australia unless specifically posted otherwise. It is traditional to pay for each drink that is brought to you so if you get 5 glasses of Coca-Cola you will be paying about $2-4 per glass which adds up. I do remember there was one buffet in town when I was a kid that had free refills and that place was one of my favourites as I didn't have to worry about how much I was costing my parents. Everywhere else we normally had just one or two glasses and we drank slowly so we didn't run out too soon.

   Free refills are one of the many things I love about the American culture. I will miss having free refills when visiting friends and family in Australia but unless I am mistaken water is still free so I should be ok. Is there any unexpected customs you have noticed when visiting another country?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Her Weigh-In (5/28/2013)

It is Tuesday so I am going to share my weigh-in results...though I am a little nervous to do so because the past two weeks have not been my best.
**I really have been saying that a lot, haven't I? I know that the excuses runneth over and I am truly trying to change that. I can and will be confident that this week will be different!*

Weigh-In Results: See, what had happened was ---- I forgot it was Tuesday and I forgot to weigh in. Oops! I'm still going to post this and I will weigh in tomorrow. I just cannot keep days straight when I miss a day of work.

I decided about two weeks ago that I was tired of spending $30 a month on Weight Watchers when I wasn't losing weight. It has been 11 months of me hovering in the same 5 pound range. I know that I am to blame and that all my excuses are simply holding me back - or holding me steady I guess would be the correct phrase - but I also know the definition of insanity ---

I thought long and hard about it and though I will be eternally grateful to Weight Watchers for getting me started and helping me to lose my first 60 pounds, it was time for us to part ways. I cancelled my subscription and account and moved on. 

I found a calorie counter that is free that does all the same things as Weight Watchers, but in my opinion does it better. I joined the same day I cancelled WW.

I fell in love from the moment I clicked the "Join" button. It is simpler than WW -- they have over 2 million foods in the database so everything is already entered -- they count more than just calories so it is helping me also watch my sodium, which is a problem for me -- I have the app on my iPad, phone, and I can use the site on my computer so it goes everywhere with me, literally -- and I have several friends who are using the app/site so we can encourage each other through this process. 

I find it incredible that the FREE myfitnesspal app/site works better and is easier to use/manipulate than the $20 a month WW app/site. I am not sorry I switched, I feel more motivated and determined, I do not feel as deprived or restricted (more on that next week), and I feel like this new app/site is going to be how I lose the next 60 pounds.

If you are a member, let me know. I would love for us to be friends so we can encourage each other! 

Happy Losing,

Monday, May 27, 2013

His and Her GBU (5/27/13)

Happy Memorial Day! We want to start by thanking all the service men and women who took up arms to defend our country, homes, and livelihoods. We are more grateful then we can say for your sacrifice.


We are linking up on this holiday Monday with Kate and Kati for our GBU. Here goes...

Incorporating Color

(Amanda) I spent the weekend with my good friend and her two beautiful boys. They live about 4 hours away and I miss them so much. Being able to spend the weekend hanging out was just what I needed. We took the boys to the park, watched movies, laughed, and talked. It was a perfect weekend!

(Amanda) It was great to see Kristin and the boys but that drive is killer! I left straight from work on Friday and thankfully traffic was not that bad. I came home Sunday and traffic was fine again which I am grateful for. But it just seemed like the drive would never end!!
(Sean) I stayed behind this weekend and hung out with Alex - who has been shedding really bad. I vacuumed the upstairs of the house on Sunday morning and by this morning the dog hair had returned. It looks like I haven't vacuumed in weeks. Anyone know how to successfully shave a dog??
Alex doesn't like the sound of that!

So that was our weekend. Hope you all enjoy your Memorial Day!!

Happy Monday,

Sunday, May 19, 2013

His and Her Sunday Social (5/19/13)

Sunday Social

Today we are participating in Social Sunday which is all about summer! 

1. What is your favorite kind of surprise?
Amanda - I love when I get a call from the main office at school that flowers have been delivered for me. It means that someone is thinking of me and wanting me to feel special.
Sean -
A check in the mail or random money found in the pocket of my jeans.

2. Flowers or Chocolate?

Amanda - No brainer (despite the previous answer)...Chocolate!!

Sean -
Chocolate....but it must be Cadbury chocolate.

3. What is your favorite summertime activity?

Amanda - Sleeping and reading, plus Sean and I usually take a big trip over the summer and that is always something to look forward to

Sean -
Going on our annual vacation

4. Do you have any vacations planned this summer?

Amanda -
We are heading to Australia for a month this summer. Soooo excited!!!
Sean - Why yes! I plan to go to a place far, far away where it is winter. I will run a race and then come home.

5. Favorite Summer Holiday?

Amanda - My birthday!!!

Sean -
I guess July 4th since there aren't any others.

6.What is your Dream Vacation?

Amanda - A month long tour of Europe - England, France, Holland, Belgium, Italy, Greece

Sean - An around the world cruise

Those were some fun questions to answer. Choose one and join in the fun!

Happy Sunday,

Friday, May 17, 2013

Her GG Addiction

I have many shows that I am in love with and cannot go a week without watching. But there is that one show that I cannot go a day without. I set my DVR and when I come home from school and need to unwind I watch...

What is there to love about Gilmore Girls? Ummm...where do I start?

The two main characters are Loralei (Lauren Graham) and Rory (Alexis Bledel) - they are mother and daughter. Because Loralei had Rory when she was only 16 years old, they are more like friends than mother/daughter. The relationship they have through most of the seasons is just one of my fave things about the show.

They live in a fictional town in Connecticut called Stars Hollow. The town has some crazy characters who allow for some crazy and comedic moments in the show...

Suki, Loralei's best friend and the chef at the Inn where they both work, is played by Melissa McCarthy and she was as accomplished an actress then as she is now

Luke, the local diner owner and Loralei's love interest for a few seasons, is cranky but sweet and just an all-around great guy

Lane is Rory's best friend who breaks away from her devout Christian mother to join a rock band

Dean and Jess are Rory's high school boyfriends, Logan is her main squeeze in college

Loralei seriously dates Max, one of Rory's high school teachers, Luke (the diner owner), and Chris (Rory's dad) over the seven seasons

Taylor, Babette, Miss Patty, and Kirk are regular characters whose plot lines are super entertaining

Emily and Richard Gilmore live in nearby Hartford and are Loralei's parents. The relationship is strained between them so it makes for some great story lines.

The real reason I love the show is because of the writing of the producer - Amy Sherman-Palladino - who has an incredible skill for comedic timing and for writing lines and scenes that suck you in. The actors listed above then take those lines and deliver them impeccably. I have watched the episodes many times and will continue to do so as long as ABC Family keeps the reruns on the air. Here are some quotes (there are so many to choose from!!) - 

Incidentally, if you loved Gilmore Girls and are looking for something similar - the show Bunheads on ABC Family is produced by the same lady and it seems like in each episode another actor or actress from GG has shown up on Bunheads (Kirk, Logan, Paris, Gypsy, Al, Emily, etc).
Did you watch Gilmore Girls or do you watch Bunheads?

Happy Watching,

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

His: Living in America - May 15, 2013

One of the toughest things to get used to in America was driving on the right hand side of the road. It took quite a long time to get used to it and there was a few times where I almost found myself on the wrong side of the road. These days I am quite at home driving on the right side of the road and it will be hard to go back to driving on the left when I visit Australia. This week's topic is the things I love and hate about driving in America so here is my list of things I love and things that I don't like so much about driving in America.

Things I love about driving in the USA
1: 4 Way Stop Signs. These are pretty easy to use and keep traffic flowing pretty well. All 4 sides of the intersections have stop signs and all drivers are required to come to a stop. The vehicles then can proceed one by one, based on when they arrived. I love these intersections as you never have to wait very long to get through the intersection as everyone basically waits their turn.
2: Right turn on red. In many areas in the USA you are allowed to make a right turn at a red light after coming to a complete stop unless there is a sign stating you are not permitted. Being able to turn right on red allows traffic to flow more freely and reduces backups at traffic signals.
3: U-Turn at stop lights. It always seems that the place I am heading to is on the opposite side of a busy road that I am driving on. Thankfully many areas allow drivers to make a U-Turn at a traffic signal which is not the case in Australia. Being able to U-turn at a red light makes life a lot easier.

Things I hate about driving in USA
1: Lack of Roundabouts. Australia is probably home to more roundabouts than anywhere else in the world. In the USA they are few and far between. Roundabouts were great as they kept traffic flowing  smoothly and reduced the amount of traffic signals needed in any given area. There are many places where I live where I would love to see a roundabout but since many people don't use them here often so it would probably not be a good idea.
2: Cloverleaf interchanges. The interstate system is great from getting from place to place. The one aspect of them that I dislike is the cloverleaf interchange as there is a section of the interchange where people merging off as well as onto the highway are using the same piece of road. You need to be very alert whether you are merging or just continuing down the road. Not all interchanges are like this but they are very popular here in Virginia.

There are many other things that I enjoy about driving here as well as drives me nuts but that is for another day. What do you like about driving in the area that you live in and what can't you stand?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Her Weigh-In (5/14/2013)

It is Tuesday so I weighed in this morning. Here's what happened...

Weigh-In: +/- o.0

Teacher Appreciation Week was last week and we had many in our school and community who wanted to say thanks. I appreciate all the gifts and kind words. I also appreciate all the goodies - they were yummy! I did try to make some good choices but it was hard and I went over my points. I also, because of being so sick and busy, have not been to the gym in two weeks. 

I pinned this months ago, but I am revisiting it today because I know I need this. It is OK to have setbacks and to feel discouraged. It is almost normal to feel that way. What is not OK is to give up - and I am refusing to do that. I know what I need to do and I know the choices I need to make. It's time to chill and get it done!

If you are on the same weight loss journey I am, how do you deal with excuses?

Happy Choices,

Monday, May 13, 2013

His and Her GBU (5/13/2013)

Happy Monday! It's that time of the week - GBU TIME!!!

Incorporating Color

Friday night the Drama Club I sponsor performed the two plays the kids have been working on (both around 45 minutes). They did an absolutely incredible job and I could not be more proud of them. I cried when I said goodbye to the 8th grade girls who have been with me since 6th grade and loved seeing my newbie current 6th graders shine in the spotlight.
Saturday I was able to spend the morning with my knitting group. It has been a really rough two weeks but a few hours with those positive and happy ladies did a lot to turn my psyche around. It just so happened that right outside where the knitting group meets was a huge art street festival. It was three city blocks of local artists selling their, ceramics, jewelry, painting, etc. Sean and I walked around and it was really beautiful. We shared an ice cream and loved spending time together. I even found something for my mom that she fell in love with.

Since Sunday's are super crazy here and at my mom's (ahh - the life of a teacher), we all decided to celebrate Mother's Day on Saturday. We went over in the mid-afternoon and hung out for a while. I finished knitting a washcloth for my mom and then we all had dinner at a favorite restaurant. It was great to spend time with my mom. 

 I started this washcloth on Saturday morning and finished Saturday night - first time I finished something in one day. I gave it to my mom. I hope she uses it!!

Sean - I am getting over bronchitis slowly but I still feel a little run down. This has prevented me from going to the gym or being able to go out for a nice long run. I am hoping that I will be able to get back in the full training routine this coming week as the big race is only 90 days away!
I went back and forth about whether I was going to post this on here but maybe it will help me process how I am feeling and be almost cathartic. 
I spent a lot of time on Sunday feeling very down and just overwhelmingly sad. Sean and I have been trying to have a baby for about a year and it is not working for us. We are starting the testing process to see where the problems are and how to fix them. This year, for some reason, I couldn't shake the feeling of sadness that I am not yet a mom. I have put my faith in God that I will be a mom one day and I am grateful that He hears and answers my prayers. Perhaps next year I will have a little one to celebrate with.

Happy Monday everyone!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

His and Her Sunday Social: May 12, 2013

Today is Sunday so we are linking up with Ashley and Neely for some socializing time. 

Sunday Social

1.   1 year ago I was doing
Amanda - Finishing up last school year doing some of the same things as now - drama plays, Semi-Formal tickets, and preparing for SOL testing.
Sean - Pretty much the same thing as today. Not a lot has changed in the last year.

2.  5 years ago I was doing
Amanda -Living in an apartment and hating it. Wishing we could have a house.
Sean - Trying to save and find a way to get out of the apartment and buy our first house

3. 10 years ago I was doing
Amanda - Praying that all was going to go well with Sean's green card.
Sean - Dealing with the immigration department, and waiting for my green card to arrive.
4.  1 year from now I will be doing
Amanda - **sigh** I can't answer this one right now.
Sean - Hopefully starting the citizenship process.
4.   5 years from now I will be doing
Amanda - Hopefully I will be rejoicing that I have been at my goal weight for a while and that I have finished a major race (either a half marathon or a triathlon).
Sean - Staying active and running marathons and maybe even an half ironman or two. 

6. 10 years from now I will be doing
Amanda -Loving life and making amazing memories with my family.
Sean - Trying to avoid having a mid life crisis!
So that is our Sunday Social. Hope you enjoyed it! Pick a question and comment with your answer so you can join in the fun. 

Happy Sunday,

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Her Recent Knitting Projects

I have been remiss lately in sharing some of my completed knitting projects with you all. I haven't had as much time as I would like to work on my knitting but a few things have gotten finished. I hope you all like them as much as I do. 

This is the scarf I knit for my niece. It was my first big project.

It was a simple garter stitch (knit, knit, knit, knit). I know there are mistakes but I don't think Bennett minds.

The fringe and pom poms are my favorite part. She will have fun playing with these accents while she is wearing the scarf.

I knit my sister this bookmark for an Easter gift. It was very fast and simple but I loved the ribbon detail.

This bookmark was for my mom. I was able to get both ends of hers to tie in a bow so that made me happy.

Right now, my big project is an infinity scarf I am knitting for my sister. The pattern is what is called a "broken rib" and I really, really like it. It might be my favorite pattern of anything I have done. When I finish hers, I might get some yarn for me and make myself one too.
Photo: A scarf for my sister #Saturdaynightknitting

Do you knit? If so, what is your favorite project/item that you have completed?

Happy Knitting,
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