Teacher Appreciation Ideas.

Teacher Appreciation Week is coming up next week.  I know I know, I brag about the boys' teachers all the time but it's true.  I do love them!!! I love spoiling them with little gifts during Teacher 'Appreesh' week.  Here are some cute ideas I've found around the web:


Unwrapped and in Love with Life did a "5 days of Appreciation" gift idea and brought in something different each day for the teacher along with a matching poem.   Click HERE to see what she came up with!

The Dating Divas came up with some DARLING printables for tags to attach to treats.  You could tweak em a little if needed...just LoVe the idea!

A Survival Kit loaded up with some of your teacher's favorites is always fun!
Funky Polka Dot Giraffe came up with this cute one.

Whats Scrapping shows you how to make this clever Supply Cake for your teacher.

And since I pretty much LoVe anything presented in a jar....

The Gunny Sack gives us a few cute ideas for 'jarred up' Teacher gifts.

Can't wait to share what I've got up MY sleeve for next week!
Thank Goodness for GOOD teachers!!!

This weekend we...

Grant.....posing for one of his 'pretend' profile pics.

* Stayed in Friday night.  As much as I LOVE going out on Friday nights...it's kind of refreshing to relax and not do ANYTHING.....every ONCE in awhile.

*Slept in until 9:30 on Saturday.  Yes...Joe, London and I.  It was bliss.  {The boys were downstairs eating cereal outta the box and watching Disney in their underwear.  Fine by me!}

* Made THESE pancakes for breakfast.

* Watched the boys play in yet another baseball game.  Carson was catcher this time.  Watching him in all that garb is really too cute for words.

* Dinner with fun friends at THIS restaurant.  It was our first time.  And it was yummy.

*Graduation party at another fun friends house. {Have I mentioned we have FUN friends?} Congrats Krista on that nursing degree!  

*Uplifting-ness at church.  

* 2 1/2 hour Sunday afternoon nap. 

*Tried THIS new recipe for Sunday dinner. {It was YUM.  I'll post my 'tweaks' to it tomorrow}.

*Wathcing AFV and baking cookies now as I type.  It's our very most favorite way to end our weekends as a family.{Because who doesn't LOVE watching someone get hit in the groin over and over again? Doesn't take much to make us Coombs' laugh!}

April Empties

It's Empties time!  You may recognise quite a lot of these from what I took with me to Japan.  Here are my thoughts and whether I would choose to repurchase them or not:-

Neom Organic Body Lotion in Real Luxury - One of my favourite body lotions, smells incredible and soaks into the skin straight away.  Repurchase? Yes! Already on my wishlist.  Balance Me Super Moisturising Hand Cream - 'Super moisturising' really doesn't explain this product very well.  Although it's won awards, I didn't like it much personally, and found that I needed to reapply it a lot more frequently than other hand creams.  Repurchase? No.  Burts Bees Coconut Foot Creme - Another misleading product IMO.  Instead of being a typical cream, it's actually like a thick gel which is weird!  Doesn't soak into feet and leaves a greasy, slightly sticky residue instead.  Repurchase? No.  Eucerin Dry Skin Shampoo - Great shampoo for sensitive scalps, reviewed here.  Repurchase? Yes at some point, but I'm trying something else at the moment.  Boots Botanics Purifying Face Scrub for Normal/Oily Skin - This was OK, but left my skin feeling a little stripped if I used it too often.  Repurchase? No.  The Body Shop Moisture Foundation SPF 15 in 04 - Another OK product, does the job but there other foundations that I prefer over this.  Repurchase? No.  Bodhi Mint Thé Refreshing Bath & Shower Therapy* - I absolutely love this, so revitalising and just lovely to use.  Repurchase? Maybe, I don't really use mint scented shower products that much, so I'm not sure if I'd be able to get through a full size before it expired.

Elf Conditioning Lip Balm SPF 15 in Nice and Natural - It has been taken me AGES to get through this and although I like the sheer nude colour a lot, I wasn't that taken with the overly vanilla scent.  Repurchase?  Probably not.  Bamford Botanical Bath Oil in Geranium - Love this, so relaxing and luxurious to use.  Got about 5 or 6 uses out of this 30ml sample.  Repurchase?  Yes, but it's on my birthday wishlist because the full size is very expensive, eeek!  Bodhi Jasmine Falls Relaxing Body Moisturiser - I adore this scent so much, but prefer the formula of other body lotions more.  That said, I would perhaps buy another travel size of this.  Repurchase? Maybe.  Morroccan Oil - Had this sample bottle in my travel bag for ages.  Do still like this, but if I use it too often it makes my hair feel like there's a lot of product build up on it and I have to use a clarifying shampoo to get it back to normal again.  Repurchase?  Already have another sample size bottle in my stash from xmas.  Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse Multi-Purpose Dry Oil - One of my holy grail items, smells so good and works so well on face, body and hair, as well as in the bath.  Sadly this is the last of the sample bottles I've managed to acquire so I need to buy a full size ASAP!  Repurchase? Yes!  The Body Shop Super Volume Mascara - I like this for everyday looks, but it's certainly not as volumising as other mascaras I have tried.  Repurchase?  Maybe if I saw it on offer, but wouldn't pay full price.  Macadamia Deep Repair Mask - Loved this sample and managed to get about 4 uses out of this sachet.  It's lovely and thick, and makes my hair soft and manageable afterwards.  Repurchase? Definitely.

What beauty products have you used this month?  Leave your links below if you've also done an empties post.

*PR sample

April Book List

Books I have read this month:-

(1), (2), & (3) The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins - Not sure why it's taken me to so long to read this trilogy, but I loved it. Any books that are aimed at teens/YA and has themes of questioning government and authority, a strong female lead, uprisings and rebellions etc, are always going to be a winner with me.  Eagerly anticipating the next two films as well. [5/5]

(4) Santa Olivia by Jacqueline Carey - After finishing The Hunger Games, I wanted something similarish in terms of a science-fiction/fantasy/dystopia kinda thing, for an easy read to take my mind off things between intense revising sessions.  Santa Olivia filled this void perfectly.  It's definitely a lot more fantasy based, and gives its own take on the mythology of werewolves. [3/5]

(5) Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger - I don't know anyone else who enjoyed Her Fearful Symmetry as much as I did. Yes, the characters are hideously cliched and have that usually irritating 'trying way too hard to be weird/quirky' element to them. Add to this the fact that this book is totally predictable (I saw what the 'big' secret was straight away and what direction the story was going in right from the start). Plus, the ending is so half-hearted and abrupt, that you have to question whether Niffenegger herself got bored with it or just ran out of steam. So why the good rating? Because despite all of the above, I found myself completely absorbed by it. I loved the writing, I quickly grew to like the OTT weird characters, and I enjoyed reading a novel that explored grief in a strange, yet wonderful way.  [4/5] 

(6) The Passion by Jeanette Winterson - This is a novel that really sucks you in but in a very strange 'magical realism' type of way. It wasn't until I'd reached about halfway through the book that I realised how much I was actually enjoying the story. If you like your books to be a bit of a mish-mash of genres (The Passion has fantasy, romance, and historical fiction all intertwined) but have beautiful writing nonetheless, then give this a go. [4/5]

What are you currently reading?  To see what I'm reading next, feel free to add me on Goodreads :)

Burts Bees Grab Bag

I've spoken of my love of Burts Bees before, and have always wanted to try out more products from their range.  When I saw them advertising this special 'Grab Bag' promotion, I immediately ordered one and it arrived today.  For £20, you get £55 worth of products which is a fab deal and I'm very happy with what was included!  In my grab bag were the following:-

Full sizes: Naturally Nourishing Milk & Honey Body Lotion, Thoroughly Therapeutic Honey & Orange Wax Body Lotion, Lip Shimmer in Rhubarb, Lip Shimmer in Watermelon.

Travel & sample sizes: Super Shiny Grapefruit & Sugar Beet Shampoo and Conditioner, Radiance Day and Night Creams, Soap Bark & Chamomile Deep Cleansing Cream, Rosemary Mint Shampoo Bar, Radiance Exfoliating Body Wash.

Random bits: Burts Bees storage tin & nail file.

A great bargain in my books! Especially when you consider that the lip shimmers are £5.99 each and the body lotions are just under a tenner each!  They do state on the website that some of the products may have slight marks on the packaging, but all of mine were perfect and looked brand new.  Looking forward to trying all of these out and will post some separate reviews soon.  At the time of writing, these are still available from Burts Bees here.

Have you picked up a Burts Bees grab bag?  Do you like any of the products that I received in mine?

Random Wednesday.

My 3 stooges on a typical afternoon.

* Why on earth are bottles of water filled up to be exactly 16.9 ounces?  We can't just splurge the 10th of an ounce and make it an easy 17 ounces?  Wouldn't this make it easier on the factory workers?  Every time I drink my water I am reminded of this.  {Maybe that's why I like my Thirstbusters from Circle K so much.  I always know I'm getting an even 32 ounces of pure liquid delight!}

* Does anyone think the 'hype' surrounding 'Brangelina' and their 'engagement' is a little un-necessary?  Anti-climactic, no? They have SIX kids for crying out loud.  Get married already!

* NBC's 'The Office' just aint what it used to be.  I was so sad to watch Steve Carrell leave the show but had high hopes with Ed Helms.  {He usually cracks me up no matter what}.  The show altogether now though?  Blah.

* I've got a pet peeve with stores who sell picture frames.  {Home Goods I'm talking directly to you}.  Why on earth is it necessary to place the sticky gooey price tag, directly on the glass part?  This mindless act ALWAYS takes me a good 20 minutes to fix.  First off the price tag NEVER wants to come off.  Second, you usually have to wash it in soap and water and Third..if its super stubborn, you've gotta get out the Goo be Gone.  WAY too much work for a measly little picture frame dontcha think?

* I consider my kids and I to be very 'close'.  In fact we've gotten SO 'close' lately that I can walk into a room that they're all 3 playing in, and identify which one has just tooted.  True story.  Every time. I've always thought I had good intuition but this latest find has brought my intuition to a completely new level.

* I have a confession.  I get giddy with excitement EVERY time I hear a song from Hall and Oates on the radio.  Like, I crank it up and sing at the top of my lungs excited.  Especially THIS one.  {In my defense...I was raised on this stuff.  I have THREE older siblings ya know!}

* I've got yet another pet peeve with Facebook. {Man I really have a love/hate relationship with the good ole FB}.  Why on earth do people think it's ok to take profile pictures OF THEMSELVES in a bathroom?  This just never turns out classy.  EVER.  That empty roll of toilet paper in the background?  Not appealing.  Neither is the dirty tub in the background.  Or your skeevy toilet bowl.  I promise it just takes a few seconds to walk outside and get a much more appealing pic of yourself. I PROMISE.

* Pinterest needs an 'alert' that notifies you when you are getting ready to pin something...that you've already pinned.  I pin SO MUCH STUFF that I forget what I've pinned and what I haven't!  I'm thinking there would be quite a few of us who could benefit from this feature, no? {I'm crazy obsessed with Pinterest these days}.

* Why do reality shows {such as THE VOICE} think it's necessary to post 'tweets' from viewers at the bottom of their screen?  Do we really care what a complete stranger thinks of so and so's performance? 

* Okay okay....another favorite Hall and Oates classic HERE.

Budget Beauty: Bourjois 'Chocolate' Bronzer in 52

I remember when the famed Bourjois 'Chocolate' bronzer first came out because virtually every woman I knew rushed out to buy it.  I missed the hype big time on this though, because at the same time of its release, I had purchased Benefit's Hoola Bronzer and that was me sorted on the bronzer front!  I haven't tried out many other bronzers, since I love Hoola so much, but I saw this chocolate bronzer on offer at Boots at the weekend (£4.99 instead of £6.99) and thought I'd give it a go.  Firstly, other than it looking like a bar of chocolate, I didn't pick up on the scent of chocolate that a lot of people seem to love this product for.  To my nose, it smells a little like some kind of sweet perfume?  It's not strong enough to bother me, but it doesn't smell like chocolate to me!  

Anyway, this bronzer is finely milled, not chalky at all, and application is a breeze.  Looks great with a light hand to add a bit of a glow/definition to the face, and also looks equally good if you want to build it up and use it as a contour.   It has little flecks of gold in it which look quite glittery in the pan, but once it's applied to the face, it looks pretty much matte. 

I swatched both of the two shades that it's available in and decided to get 52 so that I could use it as a contour.  The paler shade 51 seemed much too orangey on the back of my hand for some reason, so I'd certainly recommend swatching it in store first if you're pale and think that 52 might be too dark.  Wear time is another plus that this bronzer has.  On my oily/combination skin, it lasted all day and I didn't need to reapply once. 

Bourjois 'Chocolate' Bronzer in 52, applied with a light hand as a subtle contour.

Do you have the Bourjois chocolate bronzer in your make-up bag? 

NOTD: China Glaze - Below Deck

I haven't been in the typical Spring/pastels mood at the moment nails-wise.  Might be due to the torrential rain we've been having in the UK recently?  Anyway for now, I'm sticking to some of my old favourites.  China Glaze's Below Deck is a darkish mauve that is work-friendly and just really easy to wear.  It's also a shade that compliments the current trend of those off-grey/white bags that everyone seems to be carrying around too!

What are you wearing on your nails today?

Earth Day Treats version 2.0

Today Grant's class celebrated Earth Day.
I've been needing an excuse to learn how to bake with clay pots.
{It seems like all the rage, ya know.}
I was delightfully surprised at just how easy it was...

So I present to you.....my very own Baking with Clay POTS step-by-step guide.

{Before we begin...let me let you in on a tip. If you are in need of the mini clay pots, check Hobby Lobby.  They package their clay pots in groups of 6.  And chances are...half of those 6 will be broken.  Which means...you take up your packages and tell the manager you want/need a discount.  You'll hopefully score like I did.  I paid $3 for 24 clay pots total.  Otherwise, they would've been $2.27 for a package of just 6.  So I learned my lesson.  It never hurts to ask the manager for discounts.}

Before baking the cupcakes, make sure and wash the pots with soap and water and dry completely.

Since the pots contain a tiny hole at the bottom, you'll want to cover this up.  You can use parchment paper to do this or....as I did....you can use a mini muffin liner that fits down there perfectly.

I used just a regular ole boxed cake mix.

Fill the pots 3/4 full of batter. 

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the pots on top to bake.

You'll bake as the back of the box directs...however the baking time will take a tad bit longer.

Pots will be HOT when coming out of the oven.
Make sure they cool completely before proceeding with the next step.

It should look like this now:

Honestly...how SIMPLE is that???
The possibilities with these cute little pots are endless!  I'm already planning out my next project with them!

Tried & Tested: Liz Earle Gentle Face Exfoliator

Since switching the majority of my skincare routine to mostly Liz Earle products, my skin has been noticeably better in general, but this week my face decided to have a mini breakout.  Argh!  So I've been reaching for Liz Earle's Gentle Face Exfoliator* to see if it would help to clear things up a bit.  I often find that minor blemishes soon disappear after I use a good exfoliator a few times, I don't know if that works for anyone else's skin, but it certainly does for mine.

The Gentle Face Exfoliator contains naturally active ingredients and aims to draw out impurities whilst getting rid of dead skin cells.  It does state that it's not suitable for sensitive skin, but my skin borders on sensitive most of the time and I didn't have any problems using this.  If you have very sensitive skin, I'd recommend getting a trial size/sample first to see if it's OK for you.  

It's packaged in the same kind of tube that Cleanse & Polish comes in and has the same handy pump that dispenses just the right amount of product to do your whole face with.  Formula wise, this reminds me EXACTLY of Cleanse & Polish (has the same lovely menthol scent, similar thickness etc), but with tiny jojoba beads added (see photo closeup below).  To use, you can either use it after your cleanser, mix a bit with your cleanser, or use it alone.  I tried it with Cleanse & Polish and thought it was largely unnecessary that way, so I use it alone now and it works really well for me.  My face is left feeling deeply cleansed and exfoliated, and I don't get any tight or dry feeling afterwards.  My face just feels smooth and looks brighter.  I've used it about four times so far in two weeks and it has helped to minimise some of the little blemishes I sometimes get on my chin.

How does this compare to my current holy grail exfoliator from Purity?  Well I view the Purity one as being great for maintenance and being an excellent budget buy.  When my skin is behaving itself, I don't need to use anything else.  But when it starts to throw tantrums, I think I'll definitely be reaching for this Liz Earle Gentle Face Exfoliator because it really gets deep down into the skin and helps to clear everything up, whilst making it feel lovely and smooth on the surface.

Have you tried this? What are your favourite face exfoliators?  

*PR sample, opinions are 100% honest and my own as always.

Weekend Wrap-Up.

This weekend:

* Joe and I went out to dinner with friends and then laughed til our sides hurt playing games.

* Listened to our kids laugh their heads off at Puss in Boots.
London has watched it now close to 100 times. 
And we got it on Thursday.

* I took some of my sweet young women out to breakfast.
I told them all before General Conference that if they watched ALL FOUR sessions and could tell me their very favorite talks...I would treat whomever did that...to breakfast.
I was thinking maybe 1 or 2 would take on the challenge.
Not MY awesome Young Women.
NINE of my sweet young ladies watched all four sessions.
So we dined at Denny's and it was LOADS of FUN.

* Celebrated my in-laws 35th Anniversary!

We surprised Scott and Marilyn and all met at Bucco di Beppo for lunch.
So lucky to have such FUN in-laws.
However...as FUN as they are...I couldn't stop staring at this odd picture all through the meal...

It hung right outside of our POPE themed room.
Am I WEIRD to think that THIS is WEIRD?

* Watched the boys play another baseball game.

* Took a lengthy Sunday afternoon nap.

*Grilled steaks for Sunday dinner.

*Went over to some of our favorite friends' house for a yummy Sunday night dessert.

*Deleted over 500 pictures on my phone that look a little like this:

London's foot.

*Cranked down the AC because it has officially gotten H-O-T here.

* And tried to get rested up for another eventful week.

I went to check on the boys before going to sleep the other night and found them all snuggled up  like this.
Melts my heart those two!

Canmake Gokunobi Mascara

One of the make-up items that I bought for myself in Japan, was this Canmake Gokunobi Mascara in Glossy Black.  I asked the SA for a waterproof lengthening mascara that was under 1000 yen, and she immediately took this one off the shelf for me.  It has quite a thick bristled 'D' shaped brush which helps to seperate the lashes, as well as enabling you to keep the curl and lift of them whilst you apply it.  The SA recommend that I use the straight side first to apply one coat and then use the curved side to apply a second coat if wanted and this would eliminate clumping, which it did! 

It's very easy and quick to apply this mascara and it lives up to its colour by delivering a lovely glossy black finish to the lashes.  I thought that it lengthened mine very well and didn't flake or budge throughout the day so I'm happy with the results.  It also lives up to its waterproof claim (getting caught in torrential rain this week was a good way to put it to the test!), and is easy to remove unlike some of the other waterproof mascaras I've tried in the past which were a lot more stubborn.  A great mascara for a great price!

Have you tried anything from Canmake? What's your favourite waterproof mascara?

10 Films List

(1) The Hunger Games (2012) - Like everyone else, I have been enthralled with The Hunger Games mania and loved the film.
(2) Beautiful Lies (2010) - I have a huge girl crush on Audrey Tautou and thought she was brilliant in this French romantic comedy.
(3) Food Inc (2009) - Documentary exposing the horrors of how food is produced on a mass scale in the USA.
(4) Paranormal Activity 3 (2012) - Seriously, people thought this was scary?! I thought it was rubbish!
(5) The Troll Hunter (2011) - One of the best indie films I've seen so far this year.   Surreal but utterly watchable, faux-documentary following a troll hunter in Norway.
(6) The Hangover Part 2 (2011) - Obviously the same formula as the first film, but still very funny.
(7) Cursed (2005) -  Teen paranormal horror with Christina Ricci and Joshua Jackson.  The kind of thing you'd watch on a rainy day or when very drunk at a house party.
(8) One Day (2012) - Loved the book and loved this too.
(9) Sherlock Holmes 2: A Game Of Shadows (2012) - Thought this was a little long, but still enjoyed watching it.
(10) Fahrenheit 451 (1966) - Another film adaptation that I liked, but do read the book if you haven't already because it's a great read.

What was the last film that you watched?