Let the Adventure Begin

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Ethan and I are HUGE JRR Tolkein fans. We rotate through The Hobbit movies, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and Pirates of the Caribbean on loop. Our special love of Middle Earth aided in our choice of #EAKAdventures16 as … Continue reading

Pine Cone Crafting

As the school year approaches, the day of our wedding looms closer. We are ALMOST at the 100 day mark! I took one of my last free weekends, and spent the morning with one of my bridesmaids crafting! I found this general concept on Pinterest but made it my own.

What you’ll need:

Pine cones (I used cinnamon scented craft/decor ones)

1/4 inch ribbon

3/4 inch ribbon

1 inch ribbon

Scissors

Hot glue gun

Jingle bells of varying sizes (optional)

*please excuse the newspaper I used to protect the table!* 🙂

I am going to hang these on the ends of pews, backs of chairs, and a few other places. I created loops with a 6-8 inch strands of the 1/4 inch ribbon. My bridesmaid Alexa turned out to be the bow tying champ of all time. She tied each bow, varying lengths, and cut the ends on a slight angle.

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HANDY TIP!!! It is way easier to make a pile of bows and cut a bunch of ribbon to start and then go through and glue it all. The process goes way faster/smoother!

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Using the hot glue gun, I took a length of thin ribbon, and glued the ends.

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I then put a small spot of hot glue on the back of a bow and applied it to a loop. I tried to spread the ribbon so that the bow was glued to both the front and back of the loop not just the front for more stability.

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Apply a small line of hot glue to the top of a pine cone and gently press in the tail end of your loop that you hot glued into it.

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Let set and you have a super cute pine cone! If you’re feeling fancy, or have a little too much ribbon showing under the bow, add a jingle bell or two!

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Lush Henna Caca Marron

Many of you know that I grow my hair just to donate it. When you do this you are not supposed to have treated your hair with any form of bleach or permanent dye. Between growing to donate and growing for the wedding I hit a decision point. Chop it. Get bangs. Dye it. The first two were out of the question. I look super cute with bangs but HATE having them 98% of the time. Chopping it was out for obvious reasons. I was left with dying it. I started doing some research. I’d been curious about henna for some time, but the moment had arrived to get serious.

Henna is a natural, semi-permanent dye. It is the same stuff Indian cultures use to dye their skin. If you haven’t ever seen it, it’s beautiful. Henna has a natural brown/red hue to it that Lush has enhanced with some of their bars, or used natural ingredients like indigo to lessen. They also add good stuff like coco butter, coffee, indigo herb, and other natural oils.

I spent hours watching videos and reading reviews of those who tread the henna path before me. Many of them made the experience sound like it was going to be a travesty. Thankfully, I was not swayed by their scary application horror stories. I also decided to go with the color Caca Marron. I LOVE red hair but didn’t have the guts to go all of the way. Caca Brun I thought might be a little too plain for what I was going for and didn’t want to go darker with Caca Noir, so Caca Marron was my happy medium.

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Before

The bars themselves are like over sized chocolate bars of 6 sections. I have pretty long hair, but I went with 4 of the blocks. I probably could have used 5, but 4 was sufficient. Once you start “melting” your bar, it does smell herbal, but I did not find that it was overwhelming. My picky dad didn’t comment on the smell either so I didn’t have that issue personally.

To prepare, I wore an old tank, got rubber gloves, a large metal bowl (the henna will dye plastic), made STRONG coffee, and used Ponds moisturizer as a protector along my forehead, ears and neck.

I cut the 4 blocks I was using off of the main block and did a rough chop. This helps them break down much easier. To the bowl of henna, I added my HOT, STRONG, coffee. The directions encourage you to use a double boiler to help break down the blocks. I found that the hot coffee and a spoon worked just fine. If they had not broken down I would have done that step, but I found it unnecessary.

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I DID NOT DO THIS PROCESS INSIDE! The weather was nice enough, I didn’t even attempt to tempt fate and do this process inside. My mother would have KILLED me.

After stirring the bowl of slop (it looks like other fun things, I’ll let you make that call) until it was smooth, it was time to apply. Make sure to make the mix pretty runny. People compared it to yogurt consistency, but I went even thinner than that. I didn’t want to have to stop and remix, reheat, etc…

Standing outside, with my rubber gloves on, I flipped my hair upside down and began the application process. My mom grabbed some gloves and helped out a bit as well. I definitely encourage you to find a friend to help with this part. Others bought dye application brushes, and frankly, the mixture is so thick and gritty, it would have taken years to do that to my hair. By applying it with my head upside down, I avoided a lot of issues like the henna falling on to my neck/shoulder and getting on my forehead and ears. Instead of it taking hours to apply like it did for some, it took my mother and I about 15 minutes to coat my hair. I twisted it into a bun on top of my head, and was ready to wait.

I applied it outside but wanted to walk around the house, so I wrapped up in saran wrap and then put a plastic bag on top of that. Something that did align with what I had read was that it gets heavy. As it starts to set and dry, you can feel the weight. I spent some time laying on the tile floor with the dogs to give my neck a break.

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The packaging and most of what I read encourages you to wear it as long as you can stand, 2 hours absolute minimum, but you can go as far as sleeping in it over night. The longer you wear it, the longer and brighter your results. I made it past the 3 hour mark and was ready to rinse it out.

For the initial rinse I went back outside and used the garden hose. This was one of the best decisions. The garden hose has a little more pressure than a regular shower head and my my mom was able to help me rinse the majority of it out right then and there. Again, I did this with my head upside down. An issue I read that people had had was specks of henna/coffee flaking out of their hair for a few days. Because I rinsed upside down, the henna came out instead of settling down into my scalp. When I did go to the shower, I did not use shampoo, just lots of conditioner to finish rinsing out until the water ran clear. Again, this was expedited by the fact that 95% of it was already out.

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The moisturizer worked great as a dye block. I didn’t get any weird spots. Because I worked so quickly, the bit of henna that got on my arms washed away that evening. I had NO weird henna spots anywhere. I would possibly suggest longer cleaning gloves if you’re worried about it getting on your arms.

Things I noticed right away. My hair was SO soft and smooth. I definitely need a hair trim, my ends are looking a little scary. After using the henna I noticed a visible difference in how they looked AND felt. There is a nice shine and a beautiful red hue. I have some natural red (thank goodness I’m Irish) that I wanted to brighten a bit, and this treatment did JUST that. I’ve got a bit more red without going all out, and it looks natural. I don’t feel like a Crayola crayon was used to dye my hair. I’m a few weeks out at this point and I still love the color. My hair still feels great, and because it’s a semi-perm dye, I don’t really have roots. I’ll probably re-apply towards the end of the summer before the school year starts.

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After

I would absolutely, 100% recommend this product. It’s a bit more labor intensive than box dye, but at about $30 (after tax) it’s cheaper than a salon and you can walk around your house and do things while it sets.

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Before and After side-by-side in birght sunlight

Here are some pics a few weeks after treatment. Please ignore the faces, I have a friend that I snap back and forth with, but we don’t use snapchat, we use messenger, so I have a plethora of goofy pics. Hopefully you can see that the color has settled, there’s just a nice red hue without being super in-your-face, and a healthy shine!

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*I was not asked or paid to write this review. I just really enjoyed this product and my experience with it.*

 

1 Dish Chicken and Veggies

Tonight my family is all over the place. My brother came home from work, turned around, and left for job number 2. My parents came home, loaded 2 of the four dogs into the car for a quick trip to the vet for a manicure. I was left home. As my mom ran out the door, she said “Why don’t you throw some hot dogs on the grill?” Now I like hot dogs as much as the next person. There was a solid 2 years of my small life where I ate nothing but hot dogs and chicken nuggets (my mother still talks about it). But having just had kielbasa the night before, I wasn’t feelin it. So, what could I make relatively quickly that would be done by the time my parents got home and wouldn’t make a giant mess? 1 dish chicken and veggies.

What you’ll need:

2 cups chicken stock or water with 2 bullion cubes

Salt

Pepper

Onion (we had yellow so that’s what I used)

Chicken Breasts

Potatoes

Green Beans (we have fresh, frozen ones from our garden)

Carrots

Thyme

Parsley

  1. Thaw your chicken breast. We buy chicken in bulk, and my mom usually cuts thick breasts in half so they’re not as thick and cook a bit quicker.
  2. Dirty peel and cut your potatoes and carrots. If you can’t stand the skins, feel free to peel them completely. If you are worried about them cooking all of the way in the oven (like me) you can pre-boil them for a bit to kick start the cooking process.
  3. Cut a slice of onion about 1/2 inch thick. Simply cut into quarters so you have pretty decent sized pieces.
  4. Prepare your chicken broth and preheat your oven to 400 degrees. The chicken broth helps cook the potatoes, carrots, and green beans while also keeping the chicken nice and juicy!
  5. Lightly grease the bottom of a 13×9 baking dish. dump in your veggies and mix a bit. Lay your chicken breast on top. Pour your chicken broth over it all, it won’t cover all of the veggies but it will come about 1/2 up.
  6. Sprinkle salt, pepper and a bit of thyme and parsley.

13177273_10209214354421043_6736157662262300396_n.jpg7. Cover with foil and put into your oven. Cook until chicken and veggies are cooked through.

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If you’re feeling adventurous, you could remove the chicken and veggies to a platter and make a thicker sauce with the juices and chicken broth by adding cornstarch. I did not do that this evening.

You could easily make this in a crock pot, or use additional vegetables like asparagus. If you were to do this in a crock pot, I would add an extra cup of broth/water just to be on the safe side, especially if you plan on leaving it unattended.

Sunrise Love

Ethan and I are very fortunate to have a wonderful friend who also happens to be a phenomenal photographer.

Kate is a graduate of the University of Valley Forge’s Digital Media department and the main gal of Freckled Perspective. I have oogled at her work for years. You can imagine my excitement at having the chance to have her do our engagement pictures. It also helps that her hubby Jon is one of Ethan’s best friends. Being that they live in New Jersey, we decided to make it a whole weekend adventure!

Since we were going to be on their “turf,” I let Kate take the creative lead. Knowing her portfolio, I put complete trust and faith in her decisions. She decided that sunrise on the beach would be perfect! In the month of March, New Jersey had been having some great warm weather. The week leading up to our date had been in the 70s. When we woke up Saturday morning at 5:15 it was 30 degrees out. By the time we left around 6, it had made its way up to 35. Leaving the beach, it was 37. A snow storm was apparently on its way. Gotta love spring weather!

Our shoot was a whole whopping 35 minutes. It was breezy. It was (literally) freezing. Kate only got splashed once or twice. No one ended up in the ocean. We couldn’t be happier with how they all turned out. For the sake of us all, I am not posting all of the pictures we received after edits. I’m just posting some of my favorites.

PS- The black and whites are going to look AMAZING in our future green and gray livingroom. 😉 Dress credit to my dad for picking it out and getting it for me! Haha

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I am so lucky to be marrying my best friend, and total trooper. Ethan is not one for pictures, but he braved the chill and posing for me anyway!

It’s funny when you post pictures of yourself. Everyone tells you how amazing they are, but truly, other than braving the cold, the real MVP is the person behind the lens! To see more of Kate’s work or to book her yourself (which I HIGHLY recommend); like her on Facebook at Freckled Perspective, follower her on Instagram at @katelovesthekey, or check out her site freckledperspective.com.

S’mores Cookie Bars

I shouldn’t be left home alone. It can get dangerous. Having days off between sub jobs and working at JoAnn’s can create this problem. The following recipe is brought to you by “home alone and hungry.”

Ingredients:

1 cup oil

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 tea spoon baking soda

1/2 tea spoon salt

2 eggs

2 tablespoons cornstarch

2 1/2 cups flour

1-2 cups mini marshmallows

1 bag of chocolate chips of your choice (or more! we had some bags with some left overs that I used as well)

Pre-heat oven to 375

  1. Combine oil, vanilla, and sugars until combined.
  2. Add in eggs one at a time
  3. Sift baking soda, cornstarch, flour, and salt- slowly add to mixer
  4. Add SOME chocolate chips, or none at all. I chose not to add any because I am slathering these guys with chocolate on top!
  5. Grease a 13×9 baking pan and smoosh in the cookie dough. Bake for 8 minutes. KEEP AN EYE ON THEM! You don’t want them to completely cook because they’re going back in!
  6. Sprinkle chocolate chips thoroughly over the top and slip back in the oven for a minute or two until the chips are melty. If you so choose, at this point you can pull it out of the oven and smear the chocolate into a nice layer over the whole thing. (I forgot to take a pic of the melted chocolate)
  7. Put marshmallows on top and place back in the oven. Make sure that the marshmallows cover the majority of the surface to avoid burning the chocolate! At this point I turned the broiler on just enough to warm and toast the marshmallows.

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8. Serve while still warm! These are great completely cooled, or thrown in the microwave for 15 seconds or so just warm everything back up again!

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I Got Distracted….

I was supposed to publish a post yesterday. It’s written. I have the pictures embedded, I was simply waiting to get it up. It will be up later today. But then I got distracted….Christmas came a little early…

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I was COMPLETELY surprised. As per usual, everyone knew but me. Seriously, our friends played dumb so well it’s scary! I was not expecting it even a little bit! The ring is PERFECT! The silver ornament was in the box with the ring. A friend of ours made it and it says “Dearly Beloved” on each side with 12/2015 on the edge. I love the word “beloved,” it must be an English major thing. We haven’t picked a date yet but I can not wait to start planning forever with my best friend! ❤

PS- The Erin Condren Wedding planner has already happened. I will be posting wedding planning and wedding planner fun stuff! YAY!

Spice Vox Box

I don’t remember where or when I heard of Influenster, but I saw that I could potentially get free stuff to test in exchange for honest reviews. Who doesn’t like free stuff? And, well, I like reviewing things. I was notified a few weeks ago that I had been picked to get one of 10,000 Spice Vox Boxes through Influenster. I got the free stuff, now it is my turn to do the reviews!

This is what I saw when I opened my very first Vox Box

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It contained:

2 Yogi tea samples- Vanilla Spice Perfect Energy and Sweet Tangerine Positive Energy

Sinful Colors Sinful Shine 2 Step Manicure

Foot Petals Killer Kushionz

Boots Botanics Organic Hydrating Cream

Soapbox Shampoo and Conditioner

Veggie Sticks in Sea Salt

Not Your Mother’s Whip It Up Styling Mousse

According to the list of products and the video that shares what is in the box, I was supposed to receive Foot Petal’s Give Em the Boot wool insoles, but those were NOT in my box, much to my disappointment.

The first products I tried were the shampoo and conditioner. I am one of those people that reads the label on the bottle. I am also a bit of a brand snob and have faithfully stuck to Organix hair products for over 2 years. Any time I forget my shampoo/conditioner or grab some “cheap stuff” in a pinch, I hate myself for it. I just love the way my hair feels using those products, so deviating is a big step for me. Thankfully I LOVED these products. They smell like coconut which is one of my most favorite smells. It’s clean, fresh and left my hair smelling the same! They are full sized bottles which is also super awesome. Having long hair right now, sample or travel sized bottles would not have allowed me to really use the product more than twice. I used it for 3 solid days before forming my opinion, and I definitely LOVE it. My hair was soft, shiny, and wonderful. On top of that,

“With [each] purchase [of SoapBox products] you are giving a month of clean water to someone in need. We work with Splash, an organization that comes alongside local governments and aid organizations to take the clean water infrastructure multinational food corporations use and apply it to orphanages and children’s hospitals. Splash’s goal is always to be out of the picture by a set date with a self-sustaining clean water infrastructure in place, sustained by their local partners. Of all water-filtration related disease cases, 90% are affecting minors. Check the special Hope Code on the back of your bottle to see where your donation will be made.”

Good hair AND helping the world! I like it even MORE! I give this product 5 stars and 2 thumbs up! Check out their bundles! You can get shampoo, conditioner, lotion, body wash, and hand soap for $19.19!

The next product I tried was the Not Your Mothers Whip It Up Mousse. It smells like sugar cookies. Really. It smells sooooo good. As the bottle promised, it did not leave my hair or my hands sticky or crunchy. DOUBLE WIN! Nobody likes crunchy hair or sticky hands. Though I’ve had no where fancy to have to have my hair “done,” I did use some before blow drying a few days. I liked the smell and little extra manipulation. I have fine hair but a lot of it. Even a basic pony tail can be annoying to whip up. It was just enough extra body and fullness to make working with my hair a bit easier. It’s not something I’ll use EVERY day, but definitely a product I’ll be keeping in my cabinet to use. My boyfriend liked the smell as well….but what boy doesn’t like to snuggle with a girl that smells like sugar cookies!?

Having just finished student teaching, I was a crazy person and wore heals on the regular. I have a pair of basic, black, pointed pumps from Target. I wore them at least twice a week. I managed quite well and never put in in-soles. Once I got this VoxBox I figured it was the perfect opportunity to try. I stuck my new Killer Kushionz in my pumps….and they didn’t even make it the 20 minute drive to school. They were SO thick that my feet were squished in my shoes and it was so uncomfortable I had to rip them out. They did not make it an hour. Maybe I didn’t give them enough of a chance. Maybe I didn’t have them in the “right kind of heels.” All I know is that I couldn’t wait to rip them out of my heels.

One of my more recent blog posts is a review on MaryKay’s botanic effects moisturizer. I 100% stand by my review. My box came with Boots Botanics Organic Hydrating Cream. I used it twice before I gave it to my mom. It has a very strong rose smell, being that it’s made with rose hips. I’m not adverse to the smell, but it was VERY potent when you first apply it. I used it right after showering and exfoliating on nice clean and clear skin. I felt like it didn’t really absorb into my skin, but more sat on top. I feel like it left my skin a bit greasy. This may be because my skin is used to the MK moisturizer. Either way, I didn’t love or hate this, I just have a product that I like better. My mother, however, has enjoyed using it and has had no issue.

For my last day of student teaching, I wanted to look put together. A few weeks ago I had had to clip and file all of my nails down. Working at JoAnn fabrics and handling cottons and fabric so much had zapped the moisture and life out of my hands and nails. They had finally grown back enough for me to shape and paint them. The Sinful Shine 2 step manicure seemed promising. The color went on wonderfully. It wasn’t thick, gloppy or streaky. It went on very smooth and dried quickly. After 2 coats of color, I did 2 coats of the top coat, as instructed. Again, the top coat dried quickly. The next morning I woke up and was definitely in LOVE. The hot pink color was right up my ally, my nails were shiny and pretty. I went to school that day bragging to my co-op about how I had gotten this manicure set and loved it. By third period (about 9:20am) My 2 thumbs had chipped. By the time I went to bed that night, all 10 nails had peeled and chipped. I was SO BUMMED! This is not the first time I’ve had this issue. I used the Revelon 2 step gel manicure system and the same thing happened, they peeled right off. I don’t understand. I guess if you’re a princess and never have to use your hands for anything, this might be great for you. So, if you’re a princess, this set is definitely for you. For us humans, well, good luck.

I hate vegetables. I eat corn and potatoes and green beans. I think that’s the extent of my vegetable eating. you’ll also notice that 2 of those 3 listed are actually starches, not veggies. I was hesitant to try the veggie sticks. Some of the teachers at my school eat these things. My mom told me she has kid at school that eat them. They’re OK. I’m not in love. If I had a choice, I’d pick regular chips, but, I mean, for what they are, they’re pretty good. The different colors do have different flavors. I fed the greens ones to my dogs, the yellow were my favorite and the orange is ok. They’re sitting in our chip basket for when my health conscious boyfriend is in town, he’ll eat them. For those of you that care, they are organic as well.

Last but certainly not least are the teas! I love tea. So does my ma. We have a whole cabinet of it. I was SUPER excited to see these two samples in the box. I love them both. Tea is good for the soul. Tea is good at any time of day. Tea is good for any moment in life…except finals week. Coffee takes over at that point in time, but any other time in life is good for tea. Yogi tea is relatively popular and accepted in the tea community as pretty good as well. I would certainly recommend either the vanilla spice or sweet tangerine to any tea drinker. Vanilla spice would go well with a good comfy book while sweet tangerine would be great for a morning wake-up tea!

For my first VoxBox through Influenster, I must say that I am happy over-all. It’s fun getting stuff to test and review.

Mary Kay Botanical Effects

I have finished student teaching. Please, accept my apology for being the worst blogger in the world. I am decompressing from full teacher mode, holding my bladder for hours at a time and all! ANYWAY….

One of my bestest friends in the entire world has become a Mary Kay consultant. We are obsessed with Vikings, eat more cookie dough than we should, and do weird things like dress up as the witches from Macbeth…1560597_10202962879618080_378525325_n

And in a few months I’ll get to walk down the aisle and stand next to her as she gets hitched!

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WOO HOO!

On top of all of this, Liv and her fiancé have been called to be missionaries in Russia. Yeah, my friends are pretty darn cool. In order to help finance this calling, Liv has joined the Mary Kay world. As a child, my mom was a MK addict. I was too young to enjoy the spoils and have never really used MK products. I love to review things, but I don’t really review “makeup stuff.” Honestly, I don’t wear or use enough of it any more to be any sort of voice of reason. I’ve been a coconut oil addict for years, and that’s about the extent of my beauty regime.

Bi-yearly, my skin goes through this weird phase. With the changing of the seasons comes a changing of my skin. My cheeks get dry and flakey, while my forehead looks shiny and greasy enough to fry an egg. Exfoliating, coconut oil, vinegar…honestly, I haven’t been able to find a “natural” remedy to fix this issue. I have (thankfully, praise Jesus) grown out of acne for the most part. I just have this ghastly dry/oily skin issue. Science tells us that our faces get super oily because our face is so dry and in order to keep up with our dry skin it makes tons of oil to try to combat it, hence, my shiny forehead and flakey cheeks.

Liv told me to check out the website, and let her know if there was anything I was interested in, she was making an order. I’m not one of those crazy “health nuts,” per say, but I do try to use relatively natural stuff. The Botanicals Effects line caught my eye. They have a line of products, but I was really only interested in he moisturizer…for now. A few weeks ago I visited Liv and she gave me my order. I’ve been using Botanical Effects hydrate, dry/sensitive skin for about two months and I AM IN LOVE! Really, I know I already told you I have little credibility and authority on this subject, but as someone who suffered from skin problems ALL throughout high school and has struggled with this dry/oily thing for years, I got this one.

It does not leave my face feeling greasy or dry. I can put it on right after my shower in the morning, get dress, blow dry my hair, and put makeup right on. I don’t have to wipe off grease or apply my makeup any differently. I wash my face and put it on at night before I go to bed as well. In just the first week I noticed a serious change in how my skin looked and felt. My forehead oil production was already SO much better and improving every day. My cheeks do not feel dry, flakey or itchy! I have cut down to exfoliating every other day or so, which I’m sure my skin appreciates as well.

I have never been able to so gracefully go through the skin adjustment period. I think it is safe to say that she now has a loyal customer…at least for the moisturizer! I am looking forward to trying the Cleanse Formula, Mask Formula and Freshen Formula in the future!

To visit her Mary Kay consultant website and shop MK products, click HERE! Follow her on Facebook to find out about new releases, discounts and specials!

*I was not paid to post this. Really, I just love this product and enjoy helping out a friend!*