Burt’s Bees® Intense Hydration

The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Database is down, so I’ve got no safety data on these products. Therefore, this review will be based solely on my experiences.

As part of this BzzCampaign, I got an awesomely stuffed box full of goodies, all for FREE! Included were full-size containers of: Burt’s Bees Intense Hydration Treatment MaskCream Cleanser, and Night Cream, as well as tons of small samples of the night cream and Day Lotion with coupons. Whoa! This all retails for almost $50. Winter is coming (eek! I let my Game of Thrones geekiness peek through for a second) and with it comes dry skin, so my face is going to LOVE this.

In a previous BzzCampaign, I tried Burt’s Bees Sensitive Skin line, and while I thought it was okay, I wasn’t super impressed. I do still use the lotion from that campaign from time to time, but it doesn’t have a SPF, and I’m really fair skinned, so that’s almost a must for me. The Intense Hydration line doesn’t either (boo!) but it’s got plenty of redeeming characteristics to make up for that!

The first item I tried was the cream cleanser. I LOVE the scent. It’s sort of citrus-y, like sweet grapefruit, and it really wakes you up. My skin felt clean but not tight afterward, and I had no sign of irritation.

I tried the night cream after cleansing soon after. It’s really thick (as you would imagine) and a little goes a long way. It absorbed fairly quickly and didn’t really feel very greasy. The most important thing was that it hydrated my skin really well, and it felt firm and supple the entire next day, but it didn’t clog my pores or cause any breakouts (which is often a problem for me.)

The third night I tried the treatment mask after cleansing. I really slathered it on since the directions say to apply a thick layer. It was a little on the greasy side, as you might expect from something so moisturizing, but after waiting 5 minutes and removing it, my skin felt great. Two days later, I still feel the effects. The mask doesn’t have any color added, so you don’t look like a green-faced weirdo while you use it, and it stays soft while you wear it (no trying to talk without moving your mouth.)

I’m almost 32 years old, and while I don’t think I have problems with fine lines right now (that may be wishful thinking/denial, but I’m sticking to it!), I can see how these products would be super beneficial if you did. My main problem is oily skin, and while more hydration may seem counter-intuitive, sometimes it’s exactly what your skin needs! Your body will produce less oil if your skin doesn’t need it. This line of products is working for me right now, and if those fine lines ever show up (if! IF!!) I think I might have the solution.

Smartfood Selects Snack Foods

I’m a snack food junkie, so I try not to buy snack foods all that often lest I find myself covered in orange cheese, having eaten an entire bag of Doritos in one sitting.  Smartfood Selects might change that though, because they are both tasty and not terrible for you.

As a bzzAgent, I received a free full-size bag of Sour Cream and Onion Puffed Corn as well as two snack size bags, one of Garlic Tomato Basil Hummus Popped Chips and one of Cinnamon Brown Sugar Multigrain Popped Chips.

The puffed corn was tasty (even though I’m not a sour cream fan) and had an odd but strangely addictive texture, like fluffier popcorn without the crunchy kernel part. My son didn’t really like them, but everyone else had mostly good things to say. The puffed corn was not too salty or too powdery (I hate that mess that gets all over your fingers!) I also liked the recloseable bag that it came in. We’re always losing our chip clips in this house. The bag lasted in our house about a week, and the product never got stale, even though it contains no preservatives. They’re also baked, not fried, so there’s no greasy residue all over your hands or the bag.

I liked the popped chips better. They have a great crunchy texture. I had some leftover caramel dip in the house so we ate the cinnamon chips with that and it was DELICIOUS. I’m a sucker for cinnamon and sugar, so these were my favorite! The hummus chips were really interesting. We eat a lot of hummus in our house and it never occurred to me that garbanzo bean flour might make a good chip! These were the favorites of my two-year-old as well as some of the other people who sampled the snacks. I can’t speak to the staying power of the chips, because none of them lasted long enough to get stale.

I’m glad to have found a snack food that I can bring to parties or even munch at home that isn’t loaded with artificial ingredients. While I’ll still eat snack foods only in moderation, I’m glad to have found a smarter choice!

Glade Expressions Collection

I live in a house with two cats, a dog, and a toddler that is still sometimes in diapers. Needless to say, it doesn’t smell like roses and freshly-baked bread in here all the time. Enter BzzAgent and the Glade Expressions Collection campaign! As part of my bzzKit for this campaign, they sent me coupons for two FREE products – one each of the Fragrance Mist and Oil Diffuser starter kits, plus a bunch of extra discount coupons. Yay! Two floors in my house, and they can both smell nice!

There are four scents in the line: Cotton & Italian Mandarin (scent mist only,) Fuji Apple & Cardamom Spice, Lavender & Juniper Berry, and Pineapple & Mangosteen. Where I redeemed my coupons (my local Target,) there were only three scents available for each product. I was hoping to pick up the lavender fragrance mist, but it wasn’t on the shelves, so I opted for the cotton instead. I planned on putting the spray in my upstairs bathroom, and I’m not a fan of food smells in there for obvious reasons. I also would have preferred the bamboo oil diffuser holder to go on my kitchen windowsill, but it only came in the pineapple scent and that one seemed a little too sweet for me, so I opted for the white holder and apple scent combo instead. It’s apple season anyway, right?

So, before picking up this fragrance mist, I really didn’t understand the point of refillable sprays. I mean, isn’t that just extra landfill fodder? But after pulling off the holder label, I get it. The design is clean and tasteful, and looks fine sitting out in my bathroom. (Bonus, guests don’t have to go searching through my cabinets to cover their shame!) Most of the branding is on the utilitarian refill, so the only thing you see is the stylish white silhouette of the holder. The scent is fine. I expected a really chemical smell, but it mostly just smells like hotel soap. What does cotton smell like anyway? I am firmly planted north of the Mason-Dixon line, so the only cotton I ever smell has been bleached, dyed, and woven within an inch of its life. In the future, I’m more likely to refill with lavender, assuming I can find it.

I like the apple scent more. It really smells like crisp, slightly spicy and sweet apples. Of course, that just made me want to make apple crisp all day,  and my poor husband was dying to go apple picking. (We got that out of our system shortly after.) The fragrance was really strong the first day, but mellowed out considerably in the following week. My sister-in-law commented on how nice the house smelled during a visit a few days after. We also went out of town for almost a week, and the house didn’t smell like cats when we got home! Now, about three weeks after putting the diffuser out, I can only occasionally smell it. I assume that’s because I’ve gotten used to it – it’s a lot easier to detect after I’ve been out of the house for awhile. My only complaint is that the once-white refill is starting to yellow at the top – the same way a reed diffuser turns darker at the ends. In the bamboo holder it might not be as obvious, but contrasted with the white one, it’s noticeable. I have it in a window, so maybe the light affects it somehow. I do appreciate the spill-free design, especially with a toddler and inquisitive cats.

All in all, I’m pretty likely to purchase a refill, at least for the diffuser (we don’t go through a whole lot of the spray in our house, but maybe now that I’m leaving it in plain sight, we will!)

Unreal™ Candy

CAAANNNDYYY!!!!

*Ahem*

Sorry, I did get a little excited about this campaign. As a self-admitted junk-oholic, I was thrilled to be invited. The BzzKit consisted of an envelope with some BOGO Free coupons, and as with most campaigns, a coupon for a free Unreal item to try so I can give my honest feedback. LET ME CLARIFY, I AM A BZZAGENT AND I GOT THIS PRODUCT FREE THROUGH THEM.!!!!!!!

Anyway, this campaign was the first time I’d heard of Unreal Candy. Their schtick is “unjunking” candy by getting rid of artificial stuff like high fructose corn syrup, genetically modified ingredients, preservatives, and the like. This is something I can definitely get behind! Yeah, I love my chocolate, but I’m also a Mom and the primary shopper and chef for my family, so I care about what goes into our bodies.

It took a little effort to find somewhere that sold the Unreal brand, and I couldn’t find it at either of my normal groceries, but it was at the candy counter in CVS. I picked up Unreal 8 (their version of Snickers) and Unreal 77 (peanut butter cups.) The packaging is a little confusing and takes some effort to find out what exactly you’re buying. I suppose once you’ve bought it a few times you’d recognize the color, but for a new customer, I had to read all the packages for a minute (crouched down on the store floor.)

The sizes of the candies were slightly smaller than, but still comparable to, their popular name brand counterparts. I didn’t miss the extra few grams. As far as taste? I thought they were about what I would expect. They were a little less sweet (just fine by me!) I tried the 77 first and found the peanut butter to be thicker, smoother, and less gritty than a Reese’s cup. It had more of a real peanut butter taste. It wasn’t mind-blowing, but it was definitely something I would eat again. The 8 was much the same – better texture, still a similar flavor to the Snickers. I wouldn’t mind trying them at the same time to see what the real difference is – it’s been some time since I’ve eaten a Snickers.

Of course, candy still isn’t healthy, but if I’m going to eat it (and I’m not making it myself,) any of the Unreal varieties would be a fine choice. I look forward to seeing some of their future offerings – I’m looking at you, Butterfinger!

Progresso™ Recipe Starters™

When it rains it pours – I had no campaigns for a few months, and then BAM! three at once. So here’s the first, Progresso Recipe Starters. Not much came in the bzzKit, just some coupons and a free can of Creamy Roasted Garlic Sauce (my choice – I’m a sucker for anything garlic!) But boy was I glad I had that can a few nights ago when dinnertime came around and I realized I didn’t have a plan! The recipe on the back of the can looked good (Easy Weeknight Chicken Pot Pie) but I decided to scan the QR code on the can to see what their other ideas for the sauce included. The one that caught my attention was for Chicken Enchiladas – and since I had everything on hand, I decided to go for it.

When I opened the can, the first thing I noticed was the sauce was much more liquid than I expected – not like a condensed cream soup. The second thing I noticed was that it smelled exactly like chicken pot pie! I started to second guess my dinner choice, but went ahead with enchiladas anyway. I reduced the amount of cheese (tip: don’t look at the nutritional info for these – yikes!) and used fresh chiles instead of canned.

My family loved the enchiladas, including the two-year-old. I’m not certain if I’ll make this recipe, but I do think I’ll be trying Progresso Recipe Starters again – next time, I’d like to try another flavor. It was really great to have on hand when I needed it and so convenient. I do wish they had a lower sodium version – especially when I’m already cooking, I like to have more control over the salt level of the foods I prepare.

Family Night With Kroger®

This is kind of a strange name for a campaign, but it’s all about bringing your family together for a fun and inexpensive evening at home. My family consists of myself, my husband, and a two-year-old toddler, so late nights and crazy parties don’t happen so much anymore. I actually enjoy snuggling up on the couch with a DVD on these days anyway.

That considered, we didn’t make a “family night” with these Kroger products, but we enjoyed them anyway. The BzzKit came packed with a bag of Tortilla Cupz (cup-shaped tortilla chips, Kroger’s version of  Tostito’s Scoops) and a bottle of orange starfruit Vitamin Enhanced Water, along with coupons (including two for free frozen pizza and frozen fruit bars.) I drank the vitamin water right away, because I’m the only one in the house that will drink it. My husband thinks they taste like chewing up vitamins. I don’t normally drink artificially sweetened drinks, so I wasn’t crazy about the zero-calorie vitamin enhanced water, but I do think they have a good flavor variety (peach and blackberry and black and blueberry are also available), and didn’t expect that from a generic beverage. I’ll probably stick with my name brand Vitamin Water though, unless Kroger comes out with a non-diet variety.

We all enjoyed the Tortilla Cupz. We ate most of them with some really garlicky hummus. My son devoured them! The pros: they stand up well to dipping and are great for scooping up lots of salsa or dips. The cons: I thought they were overly salty  (but I”m a little sensitive to salt), and they are sort of an awkward size – too big to eat in one bite, but kind of difficult to bite in half.

The pizza was your standard rising crust frozen pizza – we got pepperoni, and added lots of veggies and some feta cheese on the top. The pepperoni was well distributed (I hate when you take a frozen pizza out of the box and the toppings are all frozen together in a clump on one side.) It baked up fine in our oven. Not much to say about it, but nothing bad!

The fruit bars  have a nice flavor variety to choose from. We picked the pomegranate kind, and they had a great mouthfeel (not super soft, like pudding pops, but not hard ice like popsicles). They were also not too sweet or too tart, and of course, they’re way easier to eat than an actual pomegranate! The size was spot-on too, and left my sweet tooth satisfied without feeling like I ate too much sugar.

Be. Wines

Let me start off by saying I vastly prefer red wines to white or blushes, so that definitely has an effect on my opinion of this brand. I was a little disappointed when I found out that Be. wines only come in four varietals, each branded with a mood: Chardonnay (Fresh), Pinot Grigio (Bright), Pink Moscato (Flirty), and Riesling (Radiant). Oh well, I’m not one to turn down wine, so I went to the store with my $5 rebate in hand, hoping to pick up a bottle of the Pinot (lesser of four evils?) The first store I went to, Giant Eagle, didn’t even seem to have it in stock. That’s not the only place I do my grocery shopping though, so I checked Kroger the next time I went out to buy food. They only had the Pink Moscato left in stock (everything else was sold out) so I picked that up and set it aside for a rainy day (or girl’s night!)

I had a little sticker shock when I saw the price – $16.99? Unless it’s a special occasion or for someone else, I rarely buy wines outside of the $10 range. There are lots of decent wines at that price point, so I expect a lot out of a bottle if I’m spending more. Luckily it was on sale for $7.99, bringing the cost to about $3 after the rebate. Definitely worth a trial at that price.

Last week we went to a cottage with some family members, one of which also happens to be a BzzAgent (with her own bottle of Be. Pinot Grigio to share.) We cracked open the Moscato. First impression – wow, this is sweet. Cloying. It tastes like melted lollipops. Not my style, but after drinking a majority of the bottle, I did find myself feeling a little Flirty. Is that how this is supposed to work? We tried the Pinot next, which was drier and much more to my liking, but my taste buds were a little compromised after the first bottle. Maybe if we had the Pinot first, I would have been Bright enough not to drink so much of the Moscato. Or do they mean Bright as in shiny? Either way, I wish someone had brought along the Chardonnay, because I certainly was not feeling very Fresh the next morning.

This BzzKit came with Be. branded mints, a mirror, and lip gloss. I actually feel a little insulted by the marketing of this wine. As a woman, do I really need my very own wine, with cute matching moods and stylish bottles at an inflated price? Isn’t wine already mostly marketed to women anyway, without the need to pigeonhole us into some vapid stereotype?