Momma Told Me: February 2013

Blog Archive

Bathe In Tropical Hydration w/ Dial Coconut Water Giveaway 3/13

Dial Coconut Water
Momma Told Me: The only tropical paradise you'll be going to is the bathroom!

I've never been to the tropics; though I live near the beach in sunny Southern California, it's hardly a Caribbean oasis. We have warm weather near year round, and palm trees line most of our local city streets, but there is not sound of the lazy beach drums and for the most part our city's inhabitants work typical 9-5 jobs. When I was just a little girl I'd often image walking out towards the water of our local shores and swimming clear onto a tropical island (I suppose in Hawaii) where I would be greeted by beautiful bronzed women with colorful leis and sip fresh coconut milk from the source. Yes, I had quite the imagination, but it made bath time all the more magical and less of a battle for Momma. (Truly, what kid actually enjoys the concept of 'getting clean.' I care for a 10 year old that plea bargains schedules for washing her hair, simply to get out of brushing tangles). So, when Dial announced their newest addition to their Moisturizing Body Wash range, Coconut Water, I was instantly taken back to those playful childhood dreams.
coocnut body wash
If you're like me you probably did a double take at coconut 'water,' I drink coconut milk often, and have even seen coconut water on shelves, but in a body wash? I quickly learned that coconut water is actually sourced from young, green, coconuts that are especially rich in antioxidants and electrolytes needed to naturally replenish hydration. That's right the hot 'it' beverage, coconut water, is actually as good for the exterior of your body as it is for the interior. I anticipate we'll be seeing this super-ingredient sourced quite a bit in upcoming skincare products; though Dial appears to be one of the first! As a Purex Insider I received one of the first bottles off the production line, to test and provide my 'juicy' feedback. Right away I noted the wash was almost clear in coloring, with a faint 'sea blue' hue that seems to reflect almost like the natural pigmentation of a clear sky. I try to shy away from skincare products that rely heavily on dye, so this was an immediate plus.
Upon opening the easy snap top I was instantly transferred to a tropical oasis, as the images on the bottles conveyed. I was surprised to note subtle floral hints (water lily?) beneath the more predominant bamboo and lime fragrances. In fact, the fragrance is not what I would expect from the Coconut Water ingredient, coconut appears to be the supporting fragrance, if at all. In general, Dial Coconut Body wash is a crisp clean fragrance that would easily appear to men or women. I most noticed the coconut water in the product's ability to perform with a quick building and smooth lather like foam. This body was was soft to the skin and left no residue upon first rinse, yet my skin appeared clean and invigorated (my pores were visibly tighter). My only concern with this product is that it reminds me, in scent and appearance, of shampoo! Reaching for it post shower hair ritual is something I'll have to get used to. In all, I've been pleasantly surprised by the performance and experience with Dial Coconut Water Body Wash!

Like most Purex Insider releases, there is an amazing Sweepstakes being sponsored to roll out Dial Coconut Body Wash; the Healthier Skin, Healthier You Sweepstakes. Hosted through the Dial Facebook page, and collecting daily entries now through March 31, 2013, one first place winner will take home $1000 cash! 250 runners up will score a voucher good for a free bottle of new Dial Coconut Water Body Wash, so be sure to head on over and enter today, and every day between now and closing, to maximize your chances!

What Daughter Says: Dial Coconut Water helps bring the tropics home for a few minutes every day.

One Momma Told Me follower will win 2 vouchers good for FREE Dial Coconut Water Body Wash! Enter to win new Soft Scrub Total here, or Honey Bunches of Oats Tropical Blend here.

My Balls Aren't Big Enough To Bowl Professionally

Momma Told Me: Modesty is a virtue.

I need to do a little venting; that's what you're here for, right? Great!

This past Sunday the other half and I entered into what was my first 'real' bowling tournament. Sure, I've bowled league for about 2 years now, and I'm used to competition, but this was a chance to stand apart from a team and show my own performance in front of my peers. This particular event was a monthly No Tap tournament held at our local bowling house. For those not keen on the nitty gritty bowling undergound, 'No Tap' is a term for a scoring system that marks a 9 pin fall (on the first ball) as a strike. It's especially great for bowlers like me who tend to hit the head pin just out of the pocket and leave that one straggling pin. But that's enough of the technical jargon, all you need to know is that there were about 40 teams of 2 competing across 3 games, total pinfall (plus handicap) determines placing.

Well the other half and I wrapped our first game with two scores over 300. (Recall, this is handicap, which means we had a set number of pins coming in, but bowled exceptionally well above our average.) Right out of the gate we had a target on our back. The regular tournament crowd was watching us very closely, and already calling placings. The second game we fell a little, but still bowled well and just above our average. The third game we bowled very good, but not as hot as our first. In all, we had fellow bowlers coming by proclaiming that we had 'swept' the competition definitively. We had entered with no intention of taking home any money, simply to attend and have fun, so I was hesitant to stick around and wait for the results. I was proud of our scores, but I had no idea what was 'normal' or 'great' for a No Tap tournament. For all I knew everyone had scores as high as ours.

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: Four-Legged Children

This Week in Instagram (Kinda)

Left: We drove down to see the family up by Los Angeles just so Nora could have a Puppy Play Date. On the trip up one of our tires lost half it's tread and the other half was left changing to a spare on the side of the 101. His caption for this photo: "Gas... $50. 2 New tires.... $200... Driving down to La Puente so Nora can stretch out like a stone hippo... PRICELESS"

Right: I picked up the above Pink Elephant Beanie Baby at Walgreens to include with the other half's Memory Box Valentine's Day gift. You may or may not recall that Truffles has an, erm, addiction to these things, which she totes around the house, and 'fetches'. This poor little elephant was a goner from the moment it arrived in her house. There was some pouting on Jeremy's part about how Truffles had 'stolen' his elephant.....But I came home on V-Day to find a second elephant with a card for Truffles. A man who buys a Valentine's gift for your cat, isn't that a keeper? Too precious!

Digital Creativity With the SENSU Portable Brush + Stylus

brush stylus
Momma Told Me: Computers are replacing creativity.

As a creative woman who had her own seasonal booth at the local Fall Harvest Craft Show, Momma was never one to embrace the rising technology surrounding the early personal computer era. In my childhood, a mechanical technician by trade, my father was on the opposite end of the spectrum. He couldn't have his hands on the newest technology fast enough. In a sense, I was raised in the best of both worlds, with an appreciation for free form creativity, but a love for the power and convenience of modern electronics. However, Momma would always seem to worry, the more metal and plastic on the market, the less need or want buyers would have for something with a handmade touch. It's true that modern children's feature films are primarily digitally rendered; and, while I love recent Pixar and Dreamworks releases, I do find myself longing for the simpler rendering of a 2D animation cell. Sure, these big CG films have more replay in them, simply because there is so much going on on the screen, but do they really tell the classic stories we loved so much as children? The debate rages without a doubt.
digital brush
I went to the Art Institute for Graphic Design (specifically Game Art and Design), and after a year promptly decided I did not want to turn art into my career. Technically, I was an A student, but I greatly disliked being told what to draw. I'd never have survived making an income fulfilling the creative dreams of others, if I was to profit off my artistic inclination, it would be from the selling of my own thoughts and concepts. Regardless, I learned a deep respect for the amount of time, and painstaking detail, that goes into digital rendering. Many of the initial stages of such projects still involve quite a bit of hands on, human, sketching and deeply count on the designer to influence the mood and expression, whether a photo from Adobe Photoshop, or a Vector image from Illustrator. This was 8 years back now, and I've since shyed away from digital creativity, for fear I am outdated in the category. Unfortunately, this means I have also neglected to pick up a real pen and put ink to physical paper as much as I would like. To compromise, I've been looking into digital, tablet, apps that can allow me to brainstorm or create on the go, in short bursts of inspiration. For me, having a SENSU stylus was a no brainer.
You wouldn't try to bake without flour, so why would you try to paint or draw without a brush? Recognized as one of the most authentic, gadget specifically designed, creative implements on the market, the SENSU has recently made a commanding debut in the newest Windows 8 ad. Not only does the SENSU perform with vivid detail on my iPad 2 tablet, but even on the 4.3" screen of my new #HTC8 Windows Phone. Originally a Kickstarter Project, this simple stylus device is much more complex than meets the eye. The designers envisioned a precision design tool that was as easy to protect and transport, as it was natural in creating. Finding the perfect bristle for maximum touchscreen recognition was a tall task when trying to convert a generation of classic artists to modern digital designers. In the more advanced touchscreen devices, paired with complex apps, pressure sensitivity can be detected beyond a single point, to convey the swipe of the bristles in a natural imprint that rivals paint and paper.
brush stylus
The SENSU brush stylus easily folds into a traditional length brush when the protective cap is removed from the bristle end and secured to the back, nub stylus end. While the more traditional 'dull' stylus end acts as a perfectly useful stylus for browsing and data work, it is also a useful tool in paint applications that allow manually blending and smudging. Because the round stylus is soft to the screen it can be rolled and twirled with various pressures to act as a formidable creativity tool as well. There are many creativity APPS that take the SENSU's precision in consideration, including my personal favorite, ART Rage, which allows the user to dabble with basic mediums. These mediums can be used in their most natural forms and widths, or adjusted to size and pressure sensitivity for a more accurate and lifelike reproduction. You even have the option of choosing the type of paint/pastel/chalk you are creating with for a genuine visual representation of brush strokes, layering, and transparency. In order to find value in the SENU brush you don't have to be a Picasso, or even intend on creating professional works of art. This accessory is a must have for mobile users that feel the need to jot or sketch concepts in meetings, on the go, or simply daydreaming between the daily grind.
The feel of the Sensu, in weight and response, is impressively natural. While I was hesitant with my strokes and pressure at first, my iPad quickly responded to accurate pressure points, and I became more natural in movements. Above is my very first experience with the SENSU brush; it's not my prettiest piece of work, but it is an example of what a simple 5 minute session can explore when pairing this stylus with the right application. Note the variation ins depth of the watercolor lines, and the texture of swipes on the oil pastel swirls, or the smudging through the fine ink lines? I used the traditional end of the stylus to write Truffles' name, for a signature with legal documentation clarity. I use the stylus as a shorthand notation taker just as much as I flip the cap and create with the brush. Just remember, for those who want to explore creativity, the best apps will cost you about $5- but don't skimp, free apps will not be able to offer you the same sensitivity and pressure recognition as the professional programs.

What Daughter Says: The SENSU seamlessly meld technology with creativity.

As Required by The FTC: I received a SENSU stylus in order to conduct my review, no other form of compensation was provided. All opinions are unedited and mine alone.

Purex Insiders: Soft Scrub Total All Purpose W/ Giveaway~ 3/11

soft scrub
Momma Told Me: Clean the bathroom!

It's funny, the things I can relate to; when I receive a product for editorial consideration. Sure, there are only so many things I can say about candles, or another purse- but is it odd that I see bottle of Soft Scrub and am instantly taken back to vivid childhood memories? Sure, cleaning supplies are not the most glamorous of products; but, considering how much I spend on them annually, a valuable aspect of home living, none the less. I learned, at a young age, cleaning supplies was not the area o one's budget to cut corners. Not all brands are created alike, nor as effective as the next. The secret to a valuable cleaning aid? If has to perform multiple functions within one's home. No, I'm not talking about a vacuum that dispenses fresh roast coffee, I'm referring to a cleanser that is touch enough for your harshest stains and buildup, yet gentle enough for multi-room use. A great cleaning brand always has a comprehensive range of products, while still relying on it's original formula for timeless function.

After I'd mastered the vacuum, Momma was quick to put me on 'bathroom duty'. If I ever questioned why, without jest, her precise reasoning was, "My mother used to make me clean the bathrooms, and I hated it. Now you get to do it too!" While I'm sure noone enjoys cleaning a bathroom, I particularly despised the chore, myself. The object that garnered the most hatred, however, was the slender white bottle (complete with yellow cap) of original Soft Scrub. Momma's a frugal woman, but she had the sense to know the same formula she had used since 1976 was the absolute best for the job. The unique texture of Original Soft Scrub (with Lemon scent) is what always stood out most in my mind. This white paste (similar to toothpaste) was very gritty, making it tough on the harshest mildew buildup, and stains. Momma just loved making me scrub the grout until it was bright white again!
Soft Scrub is also known for being extremely gentle on the surfaces it cleans. Minimizing wear on gentle enamels and protective barriers, while still removing stains and bacteria is a major selling point for the brand. When they recently released a new, foaming, spray version of their product I was happy to put the collection to the test in my own home. Featuring a modern, revamped, facelift, the bottles offer a stream or foam dispense option and even function upside down for hard to reach nooks and crannies (and even toilets). Soft Scrub Total (All Purpose) is sold in Lemon Scent All Purpose, Fresh Scent Bath and Bowl, and With Bleach. This range is intended to clean multiple surfaces throughout one's home, with the trusted power, yet gentle effects, of classic Soft Scrub. For 2013 the trusted cleansing brand has reformulated their classic formula for extended cleaning power, featuring a new bottle design and cap for easier dispensing. The new product, called Soft Scrub Total All Purpose, is intended to tackle your toughest stains from bathroom to kitchen, and is entirely bleach free.

I'll admit, I, personally, rely on Scrubbing Bubbles in my bathroom, where I find the toughest stains and buildup to occur. In all honesty, I have to eat my words- Soft Scrub Total All Purpose exceeded my every expectation. Even without the foaming action of Scrubbing Bubbles, Total All Purpose is just as tough on the water spots and grime that builds in crevices, in most cases working faster than the leading competitor brand. Not only that, but my faucet sparkled after just one application; and the product was so easy to rinse and remove with a basic sponge, no scour pad needed! Soft Scrub Total has taken the 'scrub' out of my chores, and placed all the work on the innovative formula with targeted foam/spray. With the ergonomic design and powerful foaming action, I daresay I would have enjoyed my chores more, as a kid, if this version of Soft Scrub were around!
Just look at how my kitchen sink sparkles after a simple rinse down with the new and improved Soft Scrub Total All Purpose formula. This formula is thick, like traditional Soft Scrub, with a Lemon Fresh Scent. It distributes evenly through the wide mouth cap, and is a great example of 'a little goes a long way.' I especially love the light citrus odor, that also aids my garbage disposal as run off clears the sink, and how the stainless steel surface has no residue after rinsing. I've also used this new formula on the bath tub, outdoor patio furniture, and oil stains in the garage, it truly is a versatile 'total' cleansing product!

As a Purex Insider I received the new formula to test out in my own home, but you don't need to be an Insider to win your own. To kick off the launch of Soft Scrub Total All Purpose the brand is sponsoring a Sweepstakes where one lucky winner will score $1000 in Soft Scrub products, and 250 runners up will receive a voucher for free Soft Scrub. Hurry on over and make sure you enter the Soft Scrub Sweepstakes daily, per the rules and regulations 1 entry per individual, per day is allowed. Winners will be drawn on March 22, 2013; while you're waiting to hear you've won, be sure to enter our blog giveaway below, where we'll be offering one lucky reader 2 vouchers for free Soft Scrub!

What Daughter Says:  Cleaning the bathroom, and many other household surfaces, just became a lot easier with the new and improved Soft Scrub Total formula.

One Momma Told Me follower will win 2 vouchers for a FREE Soft Scrub product of their choice! Enter our Honey Bunches of Oats (Purex Insiders) giveaway here. Enter to win new Dial Coconut Body Wash here.

My #HTC8 Is Alive! Exploring Windows Live Tiles #Troop8x

Windows Live Tiles
Momma Told Me: It's not a person, it's a machine.

These days it seems definitive 'hot technology' is that which mirrors futuristic hopes of intelligent electronics (where do you think the 'Android' name came from?), ultimately melding humans with advanced technology intended to make their lives easier. While artificial intelligence has yet to come to the modern consumer market, it seems that mobile interfaces are quickly approaching similar goals. Just a few years back one had to bite the bullet and call 411 when missing an important phone number on the go; now there is a plethora of retrieval options at our very fingertips. If Facebook hasn't already ported the necessary contact info, lightening fast 4G speeds will ensure I track down any needed contact through Bing search on my #HTC8. But the HTC8x Windows phone isn't flashy about it's intuition; sure the Windows Live Tiles make for a colorful and personal way to organize one's life, but at it's core the HTC brand is Quietly Brilliant. What does that mean to me? It means the device's developers have anticipated my needs and included them in the device at the point of design.

I had a chance to play with a Live Tiles concept on the Windows 1 phone some years back (do you recall a small square handset no larger than a pager?) I instantly had fallen in love with the visual aspect of having my entire social network at hand. But in it's rudimentary stages there were some flaws. Now featured in the #HTC8, Live Tiles is a large part of most modern Windows technology, and seamlessly integrates my work (Windows Office) applications with my everyday social networking. What I love most about Live Tiles is the option for complete control. I could arrange tabs/tiles 4 across, or widen them to fill an entire slot with a single tile. Visually, the options are almost limitless, but that doesn't mean a first time consumer can't pick it up and instantly find value. Live Tiles is intuitive and as simple, or complex, as one needs it to be.
Live Tiles
I have had several smartphones across all operating systems, but the HTC8x I received through #Troop8x is by far the most attractive and intuitive interface. The beautiful full color, Gorilla Glass 2 protected screen is lightweight and ultra responsive to my every swipe. On my main Tiles screen I have nearly every high traffic app within a seconds reach, and a visual representation that echoes current activity. When I add a new photo my Photos tab begins to work them into the main album show; the screen is literally 'alive', always moving, always updating. It's like a living scrapbook of my life in this very moment. If I want to get a general update on the occurrences in the lives of my friends and family I need not log into each app individually, Live Tiles People tile has each individual sorted. Simply tap someone in my social network and see their most recent updates across a myriad of social media, only limited by my authorized accounts and connections.

Within each tile/app, I swipe to the left or right to browse each function available. Those familiar with the Bing interface will find this system oddly familiar. As seen above, my Photos Tile expands to show my favorite images (as designated by me manually), new images from my social network feeds, and any current photo editing apps I have installed. You may recall that the HTC8x takes widescreen images, which translate perfectly to this right-left swipe system. My background images can change in integrals, alive, or stay static per my specifications. The image is generally centered when swiping, but changes focus through each layer of app sub-menus. The biggest downfall with the beauty and freedom of Live Tiles? I spend much too much time moving things around and playing with visual representation while sitting in front of the school, or killing time at the dr's office!

What Daughter Says: Experience the beauty and intuition of Windows Live Tiles on the HTC8x.

Content and/or other value provided by our partner, HTC.
As Required by The FTC: I received the new HTC 8x Windows Phone as part of #Troop8x, though opinions contained above are mine, and mine alone.

NESCAFE Memento + Cinnamon Apple Spice Cake Recipe

Cinnamon Apple Cake
Momma Told Me: I want the coffeehouse without the coffeehouse price.

Momma was never one for fancy coffeehouse beverages; for the most part, she bought her morning cup of Black coffee from Starbucks on grocery shopping days. However, there was one weakness in her line of defense, a good, frothy, Cappuccino. Among the many single use gadgets that made their way through our household's kitchen, growing up, a Cappuccino machine was one of them, and a prized possession at that. This was back in the day, before 'single serve' wonder machines existed, to brew our every whim at the push of a button and pop of a pod. But even the marvelous single serve technology so many American households cling to is still on the expensive side. Paying per cup, or per pod, can still average near $2 a serving for specialty beverages such as a steaming cup of Cappuccino. So, when NESCAFE, trusted name in hot brewed beverages, announced the release of their new MEMENTO range of Cappuccino pouch products I was tickled.
Right away the concept reminded me of a similar product the brand had released in my childhood, Cappuccino powders in resealable tins (think Cocoa Powder container). I'd spoon those out every morning during the summer and slowly sip away the foamy head, leaving a frothy mustache full of giggles. Nescafe Memento offers all of the flavor of your favorite coffeehouse beverage in 3 traditional varieties, Caramel Latte, Mocha, and Cappuccino. Each box contains 8 single serve packets to be blended with 8oz of steaming water; though I've found that one pouch efficiently serves 2 people in a traditional Cappuccino cup. Of the 3, a choco-holic myself, the Mocha is the sweetest, while the Cappuccino has a low sugar content, and the Caramel Lattee seems to offer the smoothest, and tallest foam. The Caramel Latte also builds beautifully with my favorite Vanilla Soy Milk, for a little additional texture that adds a smooth  drink rarely found in powder based beverages.
Skepticism is natural anytime someone proclaims that a beloved 'specialty' food or beverage is about to be presented with extreme convenience. After all, if they can make something so genuine and indulgent come from a packet, why are so many going to the big brand coffeehouses to pay 6-9x as much? Just one packet of NESCAFE MEMENTO averages $.70 per serving at the suggested retail price, and can be found in the instant coffee aisle of your local Kroger chain. And the freedom to build your beverage at home allows for limitless control of calories, sweeteners, and added syrups or 'extras,' that truly help bring the custom coffee house experience home. One thing I have noticed when sampling the MEMENTO range is that the instructions specify to add hot water to the mix; the order of this step is crucial in creating a genuine head and avoiding that messy powder cloud sometimes found when stirring light powders with liquid. While I didn't achieve a photo worthy head such as the brand's images seem to convey, using the entire packet will yield a much bigger froth than splitting it, as I tend to do for portion control. Now if I could only find authentic coffee house cups, I'd be in business! NESCAFE MEMENTO truly helps my escape without all of the fuss, or cost, of a trip to the coffee house!

What Daughter Says: Indulge with NESCAFE MEMENTO packets and my recipe for Cinnamon Apple Spice Cake!

Cinnamon Apple Spice Cake


* 3C All Purpose Flour
* 1 1/2 C Granulated Sugar
* 1 1/2 TSP Baking Soda
* 1 1/2 TSP Ground Cinnamon
* 1/4 TSP Ground Nutmeg
* 1 C Chopped Nuts (Pecans and Walnuts Preferred)
* 1/2 C Golden Raisins, or Dried Currants

* 1 1/2 C Oil
* 3 Large Eggs, Beaten
* 1 TSP Vanilla Extract
* 3 C Chopped Apples, Cored and Peeled
* 4 TBS Lemon Juice

Preheat Oven to 350F

1.) Combine Dry Ingredients in Large Bowl and set aside.
2.) Prepare Baking or Bundt Pan with cooking spray and set aside.
3.) Toss Appled with Lemon Juice to prevent darkening.
4.) Make a well in the center of mixed dry ingredients and add extract, oil and eggs. Stir until well combined.
5.) Fold in the apples until well combined. 
6.) Pour the batter into prepared pan and bake at 350F for 1 Hour and 10 Mins, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow to cool and top with a light glaze or icing. Serve warm alongside your favorite coffee beverage.

As Required by the FTC: I received MEMENTO samples as part of a campaign for BzzAgent, with NESCAFE. Regardless all content is original, and all opinions are mine alone.

March Madness? #FashionistaEvents and Blog POP! Spring Fling

It's Almost Here.....Spring!

And we've got 2 amazing blog events just for you!

Kicking off March 21, 2013 is the annual Blog POP! Events and Group Spring Fling event with 3 days of giveaways valued at $40+ across our amazing 6 blogs. New to the lineup is Keenly Kristin, and returning to the group is Candice of Stash Mama. I know these lovely ladies, and all of our members have some really exciting exclusive prizes to help brush off the Winter haze and hop right into Sunny Spring!

We're cutting down the quantity of giveaways and amping up the quality of content, so this Spring Fling Momma Told Me has 3 very amazing and exclusive giveaways for you. Want a special preview of our head prize, a Xorbee memory foam sack? Check out the teaser post, then mark your calendars!
Momma Told Me is also excited to participate in the only other event/group we partner in, Fashionista Events, for their Spring Fashionista Event! Kicking off in 2 short weeks this is the web's only Fashion only exclusive giveaway event. Over 120 blogs will be bringing you the hottest trends and must have accessories, to win! With each blog hosting a prize package valued over $125! We'll be featuring returning sponsor Barefoot Tess for a $125 Gift Card to buy amazing designer shoes in size 9+, and a trendy new clothing line known as Electric MVMT, which makes illuminated clothing! There will also be an amazing event sponsored prize to one lucky entrant, entries gained by entering each giveaway on the Event LINKY, so be sure to black off a day or two to enter as many as possible!

Looking forward to celebrating with you all in March!

Split-Ender: Easily Trim Split Ends, Not Length! Giveaway~ 3/2

split ends tool
Momma Told Me: It's just a trim!

If I've failed to properly relate the precise trauma those words have had, echoing from my childhood, let me elaborate once more. When I was about 5 or 6 I had long dirty blonde locks down to my bum. Momma, who preached independence above all other lessons, was determined to enforce a strict code of personal hygiene. Of course, at this age, one of our  biggest goals as little girls is to avoid the entire process of washing our hair. Most mother's will institute an 'every-other-day' schedule, or lay down the law when those curls begin to look a little greasy. Regardless of the agreed upon plan or schedule, it's a form of game to 'pretend' to wash as fast as possible so one can immediately return to TV time, or whatever pre-bed ritual is had. It turns out that I, as smart as I thought I was, was fooling nobody with my slightly damp hair, and my days of tangles. In a day that will forever live in infamy, in the storybook of my life, Momma marched me into our neighborhood barber proclaiming the entire time, 'It's just a trim!' Content to believe her, you can imagine my horror as my beautiful, girly, locks were hacked off to swiftly reveal a horrendously traumatic bowl cut; her way of teaching me to groom myself properly.
beauty tools
It goes without explanation that I have since, as an adult, avoided 'trims' for the remainder of my life, thus far. Unless you have a regular, and trusted, hair stylist, going to a salon for regular maintenance can be quite stressful. We've all had a bad haircut, or two, and hardly ever do we go in coming out with the exact length we had envisioned. And ladies with long hair know the pain of parting with 'just a few inches' off the bottom. But trimming the split ends and dead hair is essential to the overall health of one's hair, and the uniform beauty of each strand. As someone who dyes their hair for touch ups every other week, and in entirely every other month, I put my hair under a lot of stress. And the daily blow drys don't help much either! I'm very fortunate to have healthy ends with minimal damage, even  some 4 years removed from my last visit to a stylist. Unfortunately, the last time I bleached my hair, to allow for my trademark Pink coloring, I left the bleach in a little too long, causing some of the hair to become brittle and break, leaving the exposed split ends prone to frizz and continued damage.
When I discovered the Split-Ender, an As Seen On TV innovation, I was immediately in love with the concept, but understandably hesitant. I was unsure how much more trusting I could be with a device in my own hands, over a human professional at a salon. The Split-Ender Maxi kit was put together and conceptually designed by a real life stylist with a history of long hair. His intent was to eliminate the tedious trimming of damaged ends throughout the entire head (not just the ends), and save valuable length often lost in generic 'trims'. The result was the Split- Ender tool, a battery operated device that treats your hair from root to tip, carefully trimming no more than 1/8-1/4" of length with each pass. This allows those even with sharply layered styles to keep their volume and length between visits to the salon, saving length and money over time. The Maxi Kit includes the actual Split-Ender device and some basic tools to aid in the treatment of your hair; Cleaning brush, 4-in-1 Styling Comb, Quick Styling Clip, and Base Stand. Those who order now will also receive a complimentary bottle of Silk Salon Restoration Caplets for deep conditions of follicles from root to tip.

I won't lie, this device is a bit overwhelming at first, with a 3" rotating blade at the heart of it. Thankfully, anyone who's ever used a curling iron, or straightener will quickly acclimate to it's operation. Simply release the lock to allow the guiding comb to fall open, then clamp the comb shut with the metal handle, processing thin chunks of hair, no more than 2" wide, at a time. Starting from the scalp, gently slide the Split-Ender down to the tips. If any tugging is felt, open the guiding comb clamp and lessen the amount of hair in the section. The device should move freely when in proper operation. For those who work left handed, the direction of the 'swipe' can be set via a simple indicator switch that rotates the blade in the appropriate direction for the movement. For someone who has hair to their mid back, like me, expect the entire process to take near 30 minutes. While the Maxi Kit includes a styling clip, you may also want to pin the entire tip layer of hair and begin working around the head in sections, releasing hair as you move up the scalp.
The Split-Ender does make a bit of mechanical whirring while trimming, less than my actual hair clippers, but more than an electric razor. So long as the user is mindful to be patient and work in thin sections, as to avoid any 'tugging' in movement, the system is virtually foolproof and can be repeated multiple times. Naturally, you will lose 1/8-1/4" each pass, but that's still much less than the 2-3" my stylist tries to talk my into while sitting at the salon in a chair. With the before and after photos above you can see the immediate difference from just two swipes. My hair sits much more even, and is visibly healthier. Just as any stylist would suggest, I recommend using the Split-Ender after coloring one's hair, rather than prior; and to use the device on a regular schedule as part of one's beauty maintenance. Of course, if damage is visibly incurred in one particular section of hair during a beauty crisis, this device can truly be a lifesaver to help even out the devastation as well.

While the device is simple enough to learn and operate within a few minutes, there is a large blade at the heart of it, and cleaning allows for the exterior casing to be removed. Do not allow this to be kept within the reach of children, and always use it on younsters with strict supervision. (The unit is a bit weighted with the 4AA batteries in the base, so it really makes sense for adult exclusive operation anyhow). While operation was a breeze, and the results were instant, the plastic frame of this device, minus the metal handle, is a bit on the cheaper end of commercial manufacturing. The Split-Ender retails under $60 USD, so don't expect something that will hold up to excessive traveling or falls. In my opinion, though, the one true drawback with this device is the difficulty in disassembling it for cleaning. In order to get the blade guard compartment open I have to entirely remove the top casing. A reassurance for those with curious kids, but a cause for extra caution when pulling it apart- there is still a blade in there, folks! To summarize, I am quite happy that I found the Split-Ender Maxi Kit, and feel it will save countless inches and dollars over the next several years, though I'd love to pay a little extra for a more durable, and stylish, model.

What Daughter Says: Now you can truly 'just trim the split ends,' thanks to the Split-Ender's precision at home treatment.

One Momma Told Me follower will win a Split-Ender Maxi Kit, plus Silk Hair Treatment!

Parmesan Portobello Crostini with Filet Mignon Recipe

Certified Steak and Seafood
Momma Told Me: You don't know what you're missing until you've tried it!

Welcome to the 3rd installment in our series with Certified Steak and Seafood (CSS), the brother run delivery service for premium quality meat and seafood. You may recall, like so many gourmet food companies these days, CSS serves customers in every size range, from large 5 Star restaurants and hotels to the everyday consumer such as you and I. Their pricing is kept competitive by eliminating outside contractors and sourcing their protein direct through the brand. However, the rigorous certification process is done entirely by a third party, providing the consumer with an unbiased breakdown of nutritional facts and quality assurance. In my humble opinion their pricing is competitive, but certainly not the cheapest; however, we all know that price is only relevant when weighed heavily with quality. Having recently tried the creme-de-la-creme of hand cut steak, the Filet Mignon, from Certified Steak and Seafood I am overwhelmingly converted. Hands down these Choice 8oz Filet Mignon cuts were the most tender and flavorful I have ever consumed in house or out to dine!
You may recall tales from my childhood that include this notoriously indulgent cut; in these recollections I doubt our home ever served a filet above 6oz, and I (a 'child') certainly wasn't indulged. I'd sit at our family dining table munching on frozen chicken nuggets while my parents hemmed and hawed at the quality of the meat, and just how amazing their meal was. No hard feelings, I didn't know what I was missing, and Momma set it up that way on purpose! As an adult, right in front of Ribeye, is Filet Mignon, atop my all time favorite foods. Is there anything finer than a hunk of meat that requires next to no seasoning, can be enjoyed by even picky eaters near Rare, and melts along the tongue with no chewing required? Yes, for carnivores, it is the leader of the pack. Just posting the above image of my 8oz Filets upon arrival had my Facebook lit up with jealous comments and rapid 'Likes.' For a brief moment a part of me considered hiding all 4 steaks and slowly consuming them over the course of the week while Jeremy was at work; though in the end I was generous enough to share.
Parmesan Portobello Crostini


*8 Portobello Mushroom Caps, Sliced 1/2" and Halved
* 2 Large Sweet Onions, Cut into 1/2" Thick Slices
* 3TBS Extra Virgin Olive Oil (I use Tavern Direct Central Park Signature)
* 1/4 C Smooth Churned/Spreadable Butter
* 2 Cloves Minced Garlic
* 8 Slices (1/2" thick) Rustic Bread
* 1/2 C Flaked/Grated Low Fat Parmesan Cheese
* 1/2 C Tomato Garlic Bruschetta (Optional)

Preheat Oven to 375F

1.) In a large high walled skillet combine Garlic, Portobellos, Onions, and Oil. Heat on Medium-High, constantly tossing to allow ingredients to soak and marinate together. Cook 4-5 Mins, or until mushroom caps become soft and semi translucent. Remove from pan ans set aside.

2.) Place bread flat side down on hot skillet, allowing to absorb juices from mushroom compound. Lightly sear single side to desired crisp and remove, placing seared side up on prepared baking sheet.

3.) Generously spread butter on seared bread, followed by Bruschetta Sauce (optional), sprinkling of Parmesan, and heaping spoonful of Portobello/Onion mixture. Place in oven for 3 MINS, or until bread reached desired color/crisp.
Whether Filet Mignon should be served with a 'side' is often a heated debate among the gourmet and foodie community. It's a simple fact that the cut is of such a premium nature it hardly requires seasoning, and certainly not any steak sauce. While some wish to top the prepared steak with a Bearnaise or other Red Wine Sauce, I typically rub mine with Garlic and Rosemary Olive Oil, and a dash of fresh ground pepper before searing it atop the Skillet or Grill. Those who wish to serve a side with this succulent meat should stay away from heavy starches, or overly complicated recipes. A fresh field of greens salad, or grilled asparagus can add a tasteful element to this meal. When serving an appetizer such as the above Crostini, I prefer to plate the two separately, offering the Crostini before the protein is served, making the Filet the single star of the show.
certified steak and seafood
The other half prefers his meat cooked Medium Well, though he is adamant that his filet should be prepared traditionally with a warm Pink center closer to Medium Rare. Those a bit squeamish will quickly be converted as the meat melts in their mouth, full of rich flavor that is hardly 'raw'. I savored my Choice Cut Filet Mignon over the course of a half hour (a lush, I know), alongside a glass of wine. Certified Steak and Seafood is certainly the answer for any hard-to-buy for individual on your shopping list this year. However, it's important that you remember to treat yourself too!

What Daughter Says: Even those who shy away from beef will easily be converted with a tender Filet from Certified Steak and Seafood.

As Required by the FTC: I received product from Certified Steak and Seafood to facilitate my review, though all images and opinions are mine and mine alone.

To Summarize: What I Love About the #HTC8 Link Roundup

It seems like it's been such a quick journey, getting to know my #HTC8 Windows Phone over the past month. Prior to this experience, my knowledge of HTC was quite minimal, though I'd owned a Windows One Phone with Live Tile interface back in Beta Testing. It's impressive to see how the Windows mobile concept has evolved to mirror modern Windows 8 presentation and functionality. Not only is the Live Tile interface impressively intuitive, but almost limitless in personalization. I'd initially thought the concept was 'cool,' but figured the tiles would eventually find their limits, and I'd grow bored of the novelty quickly- Nope! Not only is it easy to organize the front end (Tiles Screen) and back end (App Index), but I can do so while waiting for appointments or sitting in front of the school, and the vivid color scheme is gorgeous.

To say this phone operates fast would be an understatement. I've thrown all of the technical details at you all for weeks, so I won't bore you again with the numbers, but the processor in this bad boy handles my most complex APPs as if it were child's play. Loading time is minimal, and the built in memory seems to more than accommodate the transfer between my computer Office and Windows Office Tile applications. In fact, my biggest, and only real 'gripe' would have to be the still growing library of APPS available for this phone. It seems there is so much developers could do with this OS, but Windows is still in third place with priority; and we're still waiting for Facebook to release the Instagram license for Windows mobile OS. As a blogger I rely on Instagram to connect with my social network a lot, so I do have to defer to my old device to connect via WiFi for such purposes from time to time. An issue I have no doubt will remedy when all the legal ends get tied up.

While the #HTC8 is impressively slim, it is certainly bold in it's California Blue hue (other colors available), with the 4.3" widescreen display and dual cameras. I'll admit, I've yet to find a project for the camera, but the HD video quality, even in low lighting, is formidable for a mobile device. Just like any big mobile technology release, the HTC8x has had some hiccups and flaws, that the brand is happy to cover through the purchase warranty, and return with tracking in a timely manner. I get the indication newer production units have more of a safeguard against the initial bugs, so those waiting out the release phase should feel secure taking the plunge now. As someone surrounded by what I call 'i' heads, I've received multiple compliments about my device which has been most often compared to mini tablets or tablet like mobile devices such as the Galaxy Note. In this humble blogger's opinion, the HTC 8x blows all of those predecessors out of the water, offering the perfect blend of beauty in personalization and practical functionality (from networking to Office applications).

Curious About The HTC 8x? Hop to One of Our In Depth Posts:

My New Phone: HTC Introduction
Choosing a Case for the #HTC8
Fashion Apps for my Windows Phone
Setting the Mood with Music on my HTC 8x
What is Gorilla Glass 2?
Funny Videos Found on My HTC 8x
Exploring Windows Live Tiles
Prepaid and the HTC 8x
My Favorite #HTC8 Features

Content and/or other value provided by our partner, HTC.
As Required by The FTC: I received the new HTC 8x Windows Phone as part of #Troop8x, though opinions contained above are mine, and mine alone.