December 22, 2014

that christmas smell + giveaway

Disclaimer: Red Brick Candle provided me with free product in exchange for my opinions which are my own.

I've mentioned before that I have a sensitivity to synthetic fragrance. It's sad, really. I want to have nice smelling bath and body products and home fragrance products....but I have to be uber cautious. My teenage self adored Bath and Body Works and Yankee Candle; the mention of those names today is enough to begin the headache the store would now inevitably give me.

But, it's Christmas and it's definitely the time to make home a little extra cozier and welcoming with some fragrance. I just have to use caution when finding products, As far as candles go, soy wax is an absolute must. It's amazing the difference when burning - no nasty smoke to further soot the air.

Thankfully, just in time for the holidays, Red Brick Candle released their first collection, "loft," inspired by, well, luxury loft living. The collection includes three hand-crafted scents made with soy-based wax and essential and/or natural fragrance oils. Loft No. 2 (I love the understated names and packaging, it's refreshing!) jumped right out at me. Cinnamon? cloves? yes please.

Allow me to start with the obvious: the packaging is classy and perfect for gifting! I love wrapping everything, but really, with a box like this, slap a bow on and you're done (really, with Amazon Prime, it's a great last minute gift)! But then, you open the box, and it gets better:

I mean, these guys have thought of everything. Any little thing to exceed expectations is always a plus in my book. In this case, my expectations were a candle in a box. But then they make sure you're good to go with some matches so you can enjoy the fragrance right away and a coupon for your next candle (which is perfect as they have announced that additional collections are on the way including "manor" and "bungalow.")!

Oh, and if you do your homework, it gets better: I'm all about giving back, and it turns out that ten percent of all Red Brick Candle proceeds directly benefit urban revitalization and community development initiatives in their local communities. As a new city dweller myself, this is a huge win!

I know, I know....onto the important stuff - how does it smell?

Delicious! It wasn't the traditional spicy scent I'd expected, but very cinnamon-y and festive. Sean actually said it smelled like a fireball (whether that be candy or booze, I'll let you decide). Anyway, the fragrance is yummy and there's lots of it.

I loved the presentation of this candle. I love the ingredients used and the good being done by Red Brick Candle. Unfortunately, I am still sensitive and while the scent itself is not at all a problem for me, the strength of it is. I'm looking forward to their future collections and hoping for a scent that fits our home perfectly.

In the meantime...my loss is your gain! One fortunate reader will have a home that continues to smell festive: just enter below!

Red Brick Loft Candle

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swap hauls!

Blog swaps never get old to me - it's so fun to pick out gifts for others and to get unexpected goodies in the mail.

I was a part of three different swaps this season and thought I'd share them all here. Thanks ladies!

The first swap was for a bloggers networking group on facebook. I was thrilled that my partner, Kirsty, is a vegan! She was also my first international partner as she's in Australia. I loved the handmade ornament and custom bookmark (see the blog name?) she sent me!

I also participated in two book swaps ...and I have plenty of reading to do now!

From Kathy via the Blogger Book Swap hosted by Writing in Red Lipstick. Thanks!

from the Secret Santa Book Swap, thanks! (partner didn't leave any blog info for me to link to)

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December 21, 2014

firmoo aka the post where i treat my husband like a fashion blogger

disclaimer: we were given frames from firmoo in exchange for our opinions which are our own.

"I need new sunglasses," Sean told me as we were out running errands one day.

"OK," I told him.

I can't tell you when this interaction took place or where it took place...because it's happened more times than I care to admit within the past several months. Sean's prescription sunglasses have been broken for longer than I can now remember. We both know he needs a new pair. But, between the lack of time (new job, new house, his coaching season) and the irritation of how much they cost when all is said and done....his sunglasses kept getting put off by both of us.

I'd seen mentions here and there of online discount glasses retailers and made a mental note to check in on them. I failed at that, too. Until a bloggy friend of mine tried out Firmoo and introduced us. There was no way I could say no!

What is Firmoo? An online retailer for eyewear (including prescription) that is much more affordable than most stores and pretty easy as well. Pick your frames, enter your prescription, choose any customizations, and boom! Affordable glasses that didn't involve a trip to the optometrist (unless your prescription is outdated. Then I seriously recommend an eye exam!)

You can even upload your photo to "try on" all the frames!

Sean has a few mandatory requirements for his prescription sunglasses (like polarization) that he will never budge on. These were all available with Firmoo and when all was said and done, the completed glasses we made retailed at less than $100!. That's a lot of savings compared to past pairs he's purchased at the optometrist! (full disclosure - we received the frames from Firmoo in exchange for our thoughts and paid only for custom options)

Sean's been wearing these for a bit over a month now, and he says he still likes them a lot - he can see clearly through the lenses and feels the polarization is effective. The only huge difference from his last pair (besides that these are still intact and the others aren't) is the larger temples which make peripheral vision a little different - something to consider when looking at frames! They also came with some essentials - hard and soft cases, a cleaning cloth, and mini repair kit.

Overall, this was an easy experience. Sean e-mailed me his choice, I called his eye doctor, and we had frames ordered within a day with both of us working in our respective offices. The only downside was the long shipping (almost two weeks, they shipped from China). If the glasses aren't urgent, this isn't a huge deal, but be aware. The bottom line? Firmoo is a great fit for our busy schedule, they're budget-friendly, and the product quality has been great thus far. We'd definitely use them again.

Oh....and if you need glasses? Check them out: they offer the first pair free to new customers. Yes, free! go!

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December 19, 2014

holiday photo sneak peek

Disclosure: this post mentions a product given to me by Axiology Beauty via Tomoson.com in exchange for my opinions which are my own.

This year, since we have Anise, we decided to send out photo Christmas cards for the first time.

Naturally, she stole the show. We should have just made this the photo, but we opted to do a family shot which I'll be sharing  next week. In the meantime, enjoy some other fun shots:

It was such a fun experience. Our normal photographer wasn't available so we ended up giving a complete stranger from Groupon a try. We also wanted to try a new location and found this neat farm with Christmas trees and a petting zoo (hence that adorable bunny - and don't worry, Anise was in the car by then!)

What also excited me was that just a few days before the photo shoot, I got a vegan lipstick in the mail to try from Axiology Beauty. You all know how much I love my natural products! Lipstick has always been the hardest cosmetic for me to find.  I often feel like I have to choose between the right texture or the right color.

Also, the case clicks open and shut. No more lost lids!
I wasn't sure what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised when I put this on. It feels smooth, smells nice, and has a natural looking color ("the goodness") that doesn't wash me out (being fair skinned, my lips are also rather light so I want something that gives subtle color and doesn't scream "hey! lipstick here!")

I'm definitely happy with how the lipstick looked in the photos. For comparison, I thought I'd throw in an anniversary photo we took earlier this year. I'm also wearing lipstick but you sure can't tell. Hello, pale!

So, win-win. Yay for new pictures and places and lipstick! Be sure to check out Axiology's other pretty colors!

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December 17, 2014

re•cipe: chocolate lover's peanut butter kisses

Disclaimer: This post contains sponsored links from Nestle Toll House Cookie Dough. Thank you for supporting the businesses that support re•solve.

Remember peanut butter kisses? You know, the holiday peanut butter cookies with Hershey's Kisses plopped right in the middle? Of course you do.  I bet you've even had one (or more, I don't judge!) this year. Maybe you've even eaten one while thinking "You know what this needs? More chocolate!" 

No worries friend, I've got your back. I've pondered before what this classic favorite would be like if the chocolate:peanut butter ratio were flipped, and with the help of Nestlé Toll House Rolled and Ready Cookie Dough, I was able to very quickly give the idea a try. (Spoiler alert: the results are delicious!)

Chocolate Lover's Peanut Butter Kisses

You Will Need:
1 pkg Nestle Toll House Rolled and Ready Cookie dough, chocolate
Granulated Sugar
Mini Reese's cups

 Preheat oven to 350 F
 Cut each cookie dough sheet into 12 equal pieces.

Roll each piece into a ball and roll each ball in granulated sugar.

Bake for 7-8 minutes. (unwrap reese's cups while they bake and try not to eat them all!)
While still warm, press a Reese's cup into the center of each cookie

Enjoy...especially while the candy is still melted. Yum!

Seriously, I don't think this took me more than 15 minutes. I boxed them up to bring to the office and was quickly greeted with this message:

"Oh my goodness, what have you done? Those cookies are to die for... Thank you!"

So, save yourself sometime and be a hero in your office with the help of  Nestle Toll House Rolled and Ready Cookie dough. They also come in sugar and gingerbread flavors...and they are ready for you to make and decorate cutouts if you want to be a little more traditional!
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