Tuesday, July 31, 2012

P&G Thanks Moms and Supports Brenda Villa at the 2012 Olympic Games {P&G/Costco Prize Pack Giveaway}

Along with billions of people around the world, I have been eagerly awaiting the start of the London 2012 Olympic Games. Everything from the athletes' talent and determination to seeing the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat in sport after sport is something that draws me in to the Summer Games every four years.

This year, I'm not the only one. Procter & Gamble has been gearing up for the games and, along with celebrating the tremendous skill and hard work of the athletes, P&G is also focusing on the important role that moms play in helping their children reach their full potential.

I love that, as the Proud Sponsor of Moms for the London 2012 Olympic Games, P&G wants to be sure that we say "Thank you, Mom" to moms around the world!

Thank you, Mom

While the moms (and dads) of all of the Olympic athletes deserve recognition, one star that Procter & Gamble is particularly proud of is three-time Olympian and World Champion Water Polo Player, Brenda Villa. As Brenda and her mom, Rosario, have headed off to London, it is easy to see that the choices that Rosario made for her daughter have had a major impact in where she is today.

After enrolling her daughter in swim lessons more than two decades ago so that she would learn to be safe in the waters of Southern California, Rosario has never looked back. As Brenda began to excel at water polo, her mom, a Mexican immigrant, always encouraged her to pursue her goals and dreams in a completely unfamiliar sport.

Brenda Villa

When raising children, especially athletes, Rosario gives this advice to moms: "Encourage them, support them and allow them to follow their dreams. Make sure you give them the confidence to follow their own values and beliefs and stay true to themselves."

Having received such great support, Brenda appreciates all that her mom has done for her: "My mom is my number one fan. She got me started when I was eight years old and was there for me every step of the way. She was always cheering me on and that I'll always be grateful for."

What a wonderful mother and daughter! In an effort to help inspire all of us by Brenda's journey to London, P&G is mirroring the performance and value of her years of hard work with a special prize pack of products to help make life easier...

One lucky person will win a P&G Prize Pack*!

Prize Pack contains:  Olay Regenerist Advanced Anti-Aging Micro-Sculpting Cream, Venus Spa Breeze 2 in 1 Razor Plus Shave Gel Bars (White Tea Scent), Secret Clinical Strength Advanced Solid (Light and Fresh Scent), Gillette Comfort Advance Sensitive Skin Shave Gel, Swiffer Sweeper Dry Sweeping Refills (16 count), Bounty Paper Towel Roll, Fekkai Technician sample packs (Fekkai Technician Color Care Shampoo and Fekkai Technician Color Care 3-Minute Mask)

(Enter with the Rafflecopter form below. If you have any questions or problems entering, there is a video tutorial found here that can help.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A big thank you to Procter & Gamble for providing a prize pack for me as well as for one lucky giveaway winner. The opinions shared are my own and honest and if you really need to see more, click here to see how I roll.

Comfort and Convenience at Home with a Smooth Fitness Elliptical Machine {#SmoothBlogger}

Smooth Fitness logo

Another two weeks down and the Smooth CE 8.0LC Commercial Elliptical Trainer from Smooth Fitness has proven again that it is the convenient, high quality, versatile machine that I thought it was from the first day it arrived.

Due to a cold that my children so nicely passed along to me, I unfortunately spent a little less time on the elliptical than I would have liked recently. But it's hard when your head is stuffed up and your body already feels exhausted to find the energy to work out (let alone get out of bed).

But even with that said, a little sickness can't keep me from appreciating even more of the features that the Smooth CE 8.0LC contains. In my previous post I raved about the water bottle holder and the integrated reading rack (love them!) but currently I'm a big fan of the cushioned foot pedals and the heavy duty flywheel!

Smooth Fitness elliptical

You're wondering how much of a difference pedals and a flywheel can really make, aren't you? The answer is quite a bit!

Have you ever trying working out on an elliptical and had to fit your feet into the pedals just so? Or you've been huffing and puffing away and you feel your feet start to ache from the pressure? Neither of those happen with the CE 8.0LC.

Smooth Fitness elliptical pedals

These oversize pedals provide plenty of room that feet both big and small have space to fit without being cramped. At the same time, the non-slip grip keeps shoes from sliding around (an annoyance that no one enjoys) and the cushioning keeps your feet comfortable.

I love that I can adjust my stance while moving on the CE 8.0LC and never be off balance or feel that I have to strive to find a a comfortable position. Instead, I can just keep step, step, stepping until I'm too tired to go any further!

At the same time, working out on an elliptical is much more frustrating if those pedals have a jerky, bumping movement back and forth. I have always felt that one of the main reasons behind selecting one of these machines instead of a treadmill or a stair stepper is that an elliptical machine can provide a much smoother, more even motion.

Which is why the extremely large, heavy duty flywheel on the CE 8.0LC gives it a noticeably smoother ride than just about any other elliptical machine that I've tried!

elliptical flywheel
Peeking inside the large casing on the back of the Smooth Fitness CE 8.0LC!

While I don't claim to understand how Smooth Fitness put this beautiful machine together, I do know that by leaving out the rollers and including this large, high quality flywheel on the back, that it is just another way that they have ensured that you have the best experience possible with it.

Even though these are two features that might be overlooked when considering the purchase of an elliptical machine, they're just as important as the rest! Smooth Fitness has made it so that novice athletes like me appreciate every little bit that makes the workout more comfortable and convenient, while those that are more knowledgeable just know that this is the way to have a great gym right at home.

Find out more about Smooth Fitness and the incredible Smooth CE 8.0LC Elliptical Trainer on their website and be sure to connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.

As a #SmoothBlogger, I have been provided with a Smooth CE 8.0LC Commercial Elliptical from Smooth Fitness. However, all thoughts and opinions shared are honest and my own.


The lucky winner of their choice of Skylar Luna organic pajamas is...

The four lucky winners of a Mott's Medleys Fruit Flavored Snacks Prize Pack are...

The lucky winner of a Crayola Summer Fun Gift Pack is...

Thanks to everyone who entered these great giveaways!

Monday, July 30, 2012

SwimWays Spring Float {Review & Giveaway}

Considering the number of days it has been over 100° here in the Midwest, it seems that our only ways of escaping the heat have been to hide out indoors in the air conditioning or to hit the pool.

As an added bonus with spending time in the water, I love seeing the improvements that my kids have made over the years and just how much they enjoy splashing and swimming. They may not be the next Michael Phelps, but the laughter and the smiles as they jump in, kick around, and paddle back and forth brings a smile to all of us.

Thanks to the SwimWays Swim Steps review that we participated in last month, my girls have had an even better time working on their swim skills and the confidence that they have received from using these high quality products has been wonderful. Instead of clinging tightly to my husband or me, they have the self-assurance that they can venture into the water on their own (with us still close by, of course).

So where does that leave me? With the opportunity to get in a tiny bit of relaxation and enjoyment of my own... particularly with the SwimWays Spring Float and the comfort that it can provide.

SwimWays Swim Float

The perfect combination of convenience and comfort, the Spring Float pool float includes a single pillow and an inflatable ring around soothing mesh that cradles the entire body.

This quick and relaxing way to lounge in the pool is portable, quickly-inflated and even comes complete with its own carry tote. As an added bonus, the Spring Float is available in a variety of styles and colors, including blue/aqua, white/aqua, pink/blue and aqua/blue so that you can choose your favorite way to kick back in style.

Considering that I'll take just about any excuse for some relaxation, when the SwimWays Spring Float arrived, I couldn't wait to plan our next trip to the pool. As I unpacked this float, right away I was impressed that something so large could fit down into such a small package.

SwimWays Spring Float review

I appreciate that the mesh bag that comes with the Spring Float is great for keeping it packed up for storage or to toss into a tote when carrying it with you. When you get to your destination, whether that be the beach, the pool, or in your own backyard oasis, simply unzip, pull the float out and it pops right open.

mesh pool float

There are two nozzles for inflation/deflation on this float and, as they feature Jet Valve technology, it hardly takes any time to have the entire thing blown up and ready to go. In around one minute total, it was time to hit the waves.

SwimWays Spring Float

Although the simple design might initially lead to being skeptical about how comfortable this float would be, SwimWays does not disappoint! The padded pillow is plenty strong enough that I can lean back and rest my head, the mesh bottom is just right for keeping me in the water enough to stay cool, and the 66" x 40" size is perfect for just about any member of the family.

There isn't much more that I could ask for!

pool float
We can just all pretend that I'm relaxing on the waves right now, right?

Although I've reserved the Spring Float for myself (or possibly my husband if he's lucky), the size does provide plenty of room for a smaller relaxation participant as well. As a plus, because this float doesn't sit above the water and require "lifting" yourself onto it, it is easy for kids to climb aboard and stay sturdy.

children's pool float

When it came time to fold up this float, it only took me a time or two trying to remember how to twist and condense it at the same time, but soon I had the Spring Float right back in the mesh bag and ready for next time. I appreciate that SwimWays even has a handy video showing how to fold it down just in case you find yourself wondering how it was possible that it fit right back inside.

When it comes to enjoying the water, SwimWays has all of the products that you need. Their passion for creating toys, floats, games, and gear that help you make the most of your time in the pool provide entertainment as well as safety for the whole family. I'm looking forward to including them in our future summers as well as warm-weather trips!

The SwimWays Spring Float retails for $29.95 and is available directly from their website, on Amazon or from retailers nationwide. With plenty of hot weather still to come, now is a great time to purchase one of these floats so that you can experience the relaxation of resting just right in the water so that your body stays cool while being aloft.

Plus, thanks to their generosity, one person will soon be prepared for some fun time kicking back in the water, because...

One lucky person will win a Spring Float from SwimWays!

SwimWays giveaway

(Enter with the Rafflecopter form below. If you have any questions or problems entering, there is a video tutorial found here that can help.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A big thank you to SwimWays for providing a Spring Float for me as well as for one lucky giveaway winner. The opinions shared are my own and honest and if you really need to see more, click here to see how I roll.

Cost Plus World Market Kingdom Animalia Collection & African Safari Sweepstakes

I mentioned recently that my husband and I are making an effort to update our guest bedroom, as it seemed to be the most ignored room of the house... not to mention a dumping ground for the furniture and clutter that didn't go elsewhere.

But who wants family and friends to come stay at your house and have them see the outdated junk that you've deemed not good enough for the rest of the house? That's not exactly the calm, comfortable, relaxed, welcoming atmosphere that I want to greet people.

While I often like browsing the home decor at just about any store, I'm always on the lookout for those pieces that are a little more unique and fun (not to mention affordable). After all, I want to save money while figuring out a way to make our home have a little personality in it, right?

Which is exactly why I'm always thrilled to head over and see the stylish furnishings, decor, accessories, and more from Cost Plus World Market.

Cost Plus World Market

As usual, it only takes a few steps inside Cost Plus World Market before I feel like a kid in a candy store. I want to examine all of the outdoor furniture, touch all of the jewelry, admire all of the picture frames, dream about having all of the kitchenware at my disposal... there's just so much to see!

Even better, I love seeing the various ways that they feature their items individually or together to give each customer an idea as to how every pillow, rug or stick of incense will fit into their own life.

Currently World Market is featuring their stylish Kingdom Animalia Collection and my eye immediately caught on all of the great ways that they have made it possible to add a "safari of style" to our home. Whether you are looking for a big, adventurous change in decor or a smaller, more subdued touch, there are options for everyone.

Kingdom Anamalia Collection

With so many textures, colors and designs to choose from, I appreciated that World Market had so many ways to add items from the Kingdom Anamalia Collection to just about any room of the house. Smooth fabrics partnered with straw baskets, supple leathers with printed canvases...

World Market review

...and pillows of all kinds for style and comfort.

home decor

Not to mention rich, shiny plates for the dining room or kitchen...

red plates

...traditional, antique globes for the study...

antique globes

...and unique wall art for just about anywhere.

animal wall art

While my husband and I went back and forth over the possibilities for quite a while, we agreed that we needed simple, fun and functional pieces to add a little personality to our guest bedroom. While I ended up a bit more inspired for adding creative flair, we ended up returning to the basics... with a cute twist.

Before, the bed was plain and we seemed to keep misplacing guest towels.

bedroom before

After, the bed now has a little pop of color with these great throw pillows and our designated set of plush guest towels (available in fun animal prints as well) will stay waiting in the room.

bedroom after

And who could miss our new little friend? There's no way to not smile when you see this little guy just hanging out waiting to say hello!

zebra statue

Whether you've just been in for a visit or you've never set foot in a Cost Plus World Market, you'll want to visit their website to browse their beautiful selection, latest ad, and to find a store location near you.

You'll also want to connect with them on Twitter and Facebook to keep up with the latest and greatest... as well as to enter their great African Safari Sweepstakes that is going on now!

African Safari Sweepstakes

What a great sweepstakes! The grand prize package includes a trip for two to Africa (5-day trip for two to Africa, including airfare, accommodations and excursions as well as a $1,000 World Market gift card) and three first prize winners will each also receive a $500 World Market gift card!

The African Safari Sweepstakes runs until August 17, so be sure to head over and enter now. You can enter daily for more chances to win, plus if you share the sweepstakes with five of your friends (via FB share or email) you can receive five additional bonus entries (this is part of the registration process when entering). Don't miss it!

This shop has been compensated by Cost Plus World Market and Pollinate Media Group, but all my opinions are honest and my own.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Macy's Rwanda Path to Peace: Baskets that Change Lives {Review}

While typically the holiday season is thought of as the popular time for reflection and giving, Macy's has made it simple to combine a beautiful purchase with an amazingly good cause all year long. After all, shopping is shopping, but having the ability to support hardworking women turn a broken past into a positive future is something that I want to take part in.

Which is why I adore the Rwanda Path to Peace campaign and the sale of gorgeous handmade baskets that help support Rwandan women and their families.

Rwanda Path to Peace logo

Nearly everyone knows that Rwanda was torn apart by a brutal and swift genocide in 1994 where, in roughly 100 days, close to one million Rwandan citizens were murdered and the population of the small African nation was left nearly 70% women.

Faced with an uncertain future, these women turned to their past and reclaimed their unique heritage of weaving. Drawing strength from this common history and ancient art form, brave women from both sides of the conflict began working together to rebuild their communities and their lives.

In 2005, Macy's partnered to form the Rwanda Path to Peace project and brought every Path to Peace basket the weavers could produce to macys.com and Macy's flagship Herald Square store. This relatively small collection quickly sold out online and gained national media attention, while the sale of the baskets provided real, sustainable income to rural women who had never before earned money in their lives.

Rwanda Path to Peace baskets

Today, the Path to Peace project is larger than ever, employing thousands of weavers and impacting tens of thousands of lives as it puts the power of opportunity into the hands of the women of Rwanda.

By providing not only a sustainable income but the chance to take an active role in the shaping of their future, this project has helped to revitalize the economy and with it, the spirit and pride of the Rwandan people.

handmade basket

The Fair Winds Trading Rwanda Basket that I received is stunning and I have found myself admiring it from all angles multiple times. I love the way that the green, turquoise and black palette is eye-catching yet calming and the way that each small detail has been taken into account.

Made of naturally dyed sisal coil-sewn over bundled sweetgrass, these baskets come with a certificate of authenticity so that there is no doubt that they are a symbol of strength and courage among the Rwandan women who weave them.

certificate of authenticity

I am thrilled to be able to use this basket as a beautiful centerpiece on our table, a fruit bowl in our kitchen, or, due to the sturdy loop right on the back, as a great piece of wall art.

basket wall hanging

Whether given as a gift or kept for yourself, a Rwanda Path to Peace basket is an incredible way to support the healing journey that the women of Rwanda are going through.

These women have seen their neighbors and their families destroyed by genocide and ethnic cleansing, leaving many of them broken and hopeless, lost in a country where women are considered second-rate citizens because of their gender. Although the genocide was over a decade ago, the recovery from a tragedy of this magnitude is a constant struggle.

Macy's partnership in this project not only brings attention to this important situation, but has restored hope and love among Rwandan communities and families with the sale of their baskets. The lives of more than 18,000 children have been improved in a multitude of ways, as the money has provided access to eduction, health care, shoes and clothing, nutritional needs, and much more.

Rwanda Path to Peace basket

Typically retailing for $50, Rwanda Path to Peace baskets are currently on sale for $39.99. Each one is a unique work of art that will provide beauty, function and the knowledge that you have helped make a difference in rebuilding a nation in need.

Find out more and make a purchase at Macys.com/Rwanda.

(Other than the Rwanda Path to Peace basket I was provided by Macy's, I was not compensated or enticed to do this review in any way. This review is solely my honest opinion of this project and this product.)

Time to Stock up on Johnson & Johnson Healthy Essentials {Mom's Back-to-School Survival Kit Giveaway}

While summer is in full swing around here, I have no doubt that I will blink and the new school year will be upon us. And while that brings excitement about new schools, new teachers and new friends, it also means that life will be busy with lunches, field trips, homework and more, adding up to a hectic few months.

Which is why right now is a perfect time to stock up on essentials that the whole family depends on – from filling the medicine cabinet to encouraging healthy habits in kids. Even better? Thanks to a special Healthy Essentials coupon insert coming out in the Sunday, July 29th newspaper (and online at HealthyEssentials.com), you can save $175 on all of your favorite Johnson & Johnson products!

Johnson & Johnson products

From products for your skin, hair and mouth to providing relief for colds to following a healthier diet, Johnson & Johnson cares for the world one person at a time. So when it comes to being prepared for fall, the Johnson & Johnson Mom's Back-to-School Survival Kit includes items that we all know and love:

Aveeno Continuous Protection for Face SPF 30 ($8.99-$11.99): Perfect for the whole family, especially your athletes who are outside on the playing field this fall! This powerful sunscreen provides high, broad and photostable UVA/UVB protection against the sun's harmful rays, specially formulated for the face to be oil-free and non-greasy.

Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion SPF 15 ($9.49-$9.99): Colloidal oatmeal and rich emollients moisturize your skin for up to 24 hours while providing UVA/UVB protection. Ideal for mom on-the-go to keep skin soft, smooth and protected!

Reach Total Care Multi-Action Toothbrush ($5.09): Teaching good brushing habits just got easier with this multitasking toothbrush – specially designed bristles clean in multiple directions with each stroke, helping you remove up to 90% of plaque.

Listerine Smart Rinse Phineas and Ferb ($5.19): Specially designed just for kids, this post-brush mouth rinse with fluoride – an important ingredient to help provide extra cavity protection – provides 12-hour cavity protection and strengthens teeth 99% better than brushing alone!

Johnson's Baby Powder ($3.99): It's a tried and true classic. Johnson's Baby Powder leaves skin feeling soft and fresh, while helping to eliminate friction to keep skin feeling cool and comfortable.

Johnson's Baby Creamy Oil ($3.99): Classic Johnson's Baby Oil gets a rich makeover with Aloe Vera & Vitamin E. With a sweet yet subtle fragrance, it's an indulgence for mom and something the kids will love as well!

Neosporin and Band-Aid Flexible Fabric ($4.77 - $9.07, $6.99): A staple in every family’s first aid kit and a match made in healing heaven. From the #1 doctor-recommended brand, Neosporin First Aid Antibiotic Ointment kills more types of infectious bacteria in laboratory tests than even the leading topical prescription antibiotic.

Bengay Zero Degrees ($13.99): Bengay introduces this unique stick that can be stored in the freezer and provides an instant, icy cold sensation. It's perfect for mom to throw in the cooler for soccer practice, long hikes, or wherever your active family takes you!

With back-to-school around the corner, these (and many other) Johnson & Johnson brands are going to be on your shopping list anyway, so why not save some money while purchasing them? Be sure to keep an eye out for the Healthy Essentials coupon insert this Sunday, July 29, and visit HealthyEssentials.com for more.

Plus, thanks to the generosity of Johnson & Johnson, one person will be prepared for everything that autumn is sure to bring, because...

One lucky person will win a Mom's Back-to-School Survival Kit
(ARV $65) from Johnson & Johnson!

(Enter with the Rafflecopter form below. If you have any questions or problems entering, there is a video tutorial found here that can help.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A big thank you to Johnson & Johnson for providing a Mom's Back-to-School Survival Kit for me as well as for one lucky giveaway winner. The opinions shared are my own and honest and if you really need to see more, click here to see how I roll.

Inspiration for Athletes of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games {#Coke8pack}

While it has been years in the making, the day has finally arrived: the opening ceremonies for the 2012 Olympic Summer Games in London. I don't know about you, but I can't wait to watch the passing of the torch, the choreographed routines and the amazing athletes from across the globe kick off the upcoming weeks of sports of all kinds.

As I mentioned recently, Coca-Cola has selected eight of these incredible athletes to make up the The Coca-Cola 8-pack of athletes. Not only can we cheer them on as they compete in London, but these talented folks are all highlighted on My Coke Rewards — in an exciting, interactive experience that will help visitors learn about each athlete and use My Coke Rewards points to redeem exclusive U.S. Olympics and Coca-Cola merchandise.

One featured athlete is the talented tennis star, John Isner.

John Isner Coke

After taking up tennis at age 9, John began his professional career in 2007 and has since been recognized as one of the stars of American tennis. As well as his obvious skill at the sport and his years of hard work, John has found much of his inspiration from one important source: his mother.

After a shocking colon cancer diagnosis during John's freshman year of college, his mom received top quality care and has since beaten the disease. John was so moved by the doctors and the care that his mom received from the UNC Lineberger Hospital in Chapel Hill, that every November he now hosts a charity event to raise proceeds to go to the hospital and their research. What a great way to give back... and be an amazing son!

I have no doubt that John's mom will be cheering him on the loudest when he competes in London, something that he has worked hard to achieve. Along with two of his fellow USA teammates, John spoke briefly about what it means to him to get to attend the Olympics this year:

To find out even more about him, I was able to send over a handful of questions to John and have him personally respond!

Who do you most admire?

I most admire my mom. Raising 3 boys isn't easy and what she has gone through with her bout with cancer is inspiring.

What blogs do you read (if any)?

I like to read pretty much any sports-related blog. Nothing too specific but I like to look for articles on my favorite teams (Panthers, Hurricanes, UGA athletics, etc).

When did you first realize your love for tennis?

I really liked playing all sports growing up, but the two that stood out for me were tennis and basketball. I am still a sports fanatic and enjoy playing everything when I can. I would say I was 13 or 14 when I realized tennis is what I should be focusing on.

What do you do in your spare time (aside from tennis)?

I love to cook and hang out with my dog, Magill, when I have some down time. Watching ESPN, just lounging, I am a pretty relaxed guy off the court.

If you could have athletic talent in another sport, what would it be?

Maybe if I was a little shorter I could be a great NFL wideout. I have good hands and like to play football. My legs would be a target though for those NFL safeties!

Who is the first person you called when you found out you were going to the Olympics?

Well, I think I called my mom first. I mean, I sort of knew that I would be going because its based on rankings in tennis. It is much easier to predict who is going than some of the other sports where there are competitions which count for qualifying.

Who will be cheering you on in London?

My girlfriend and her family will be supporting me in London and, of course, my Coca-Cola family will be there as well to cheer me on. I am excited as it is always nice to have a good support system around a big tournaments.

What other sports are you planning on following/watching while in London?

I would love to catch some action of my fellow Coca-Cola 8-pack members, especially women's soccer with Alex Morgan and diving with David Boudia. Hopefully they can come support me at one of my tennis matches.

Thanks, John!

John Isner

As the London 2012 Olympic Games are getting underway, I'm going to be sure to tune in to cheer John on as he makes his Olympic debut. He is scheduled to play in men's singles and men's doubles (with Andy Roddick) matches on Saturday, July 28, so don't miss the glory and competition of tennis.

As an added bonus, while you're cheering for your favorite athletes, you can also head over to My Coke Rewards and enter for your chance to instantly win amazing Coca-Cola Olympic Games prizes.

Who wouldn't like an Athlete Prize Pack containing a Coca-Cola-branded gym bag, towel, t-shirt, soccer ball, yoga mat, a $50 Visa gift card and a framed autograph card shadow-box with Coca-Cola pin?

Or maybe a coupon valid for a 12-pack of Coca-Cola products? How about a music download or a $50 Visa gift card? Best of all, when you play you will also be entered for a chance to win a VIP Trip for four to John Isner's Charity event in North Carolina including air transportation, hotel accommodations, a meet a greet with John himself, tickets to a tennis exhibition and $500 spending money! Sign me up!

It's time to get into the spirit and celebrate all that is incredible and inspiring about the world coming together to participate in the Olympic Games. Won't you grab a Coke and join me?

But first, I want to know. Who inspires YOU?

I'm working with Coca-Cola as an 8-Pack Ambassador. All opinions expressed in the post are my own and not those of The Coca-Cola Company. 

Can I just admit that I'm fashionally-challenged? {I need a #Windowstyle makeover at BlogHer!}

You know the feeling in elementary school when you think that your sweater or jeans or shoes are the coolest and you just know that everyone is going to love them? And that clearly you have the best sense of style and it's just a wonder that your classmates aren't spending all day every day raving about how great you look?

But then do you also know the feeling where, 20 years later, you look back at photographs of the outfits that you actually wore to elementary school and you wonder what in the world was I thinking??

No? Well, I do.

childhood picture

These magenta pants are nowhere near as bad as the knee high green and white striped socks that I seemed to wear throughout my childhood... and don't even get me started on the tie-dyed neon leotard that I wore with bright pink striped tapered stretch pants in fifth grade. Consider yourself lucky that I couldn't find a photograph of that whole getup.

But, really. I look at the choices that I made and I just shake my head. Pleated jeans with a turtleneck and vest tucked in? Why did I think that was remotely fashionable?

bad fashion

And the fact that I went to a party that required a dress and purposely chose this? I just... I don't... no. Just no.

ugly dress

Before I dig out any other embarrassing photos from my youth, I should stop and point out what the actual problem is: this non-fashionable issue isn't one that I've outgrown.

While I somewhat make an attempt to follow the trends, my current style leaves much to be desired. Considering the fact that I'm a mom that works from home, there are days that I change from pajamas into sweats simply because they're comfortable (that's assuming that I actually change out of the pj's, of course).

When I do leave the house, I don't tend to go places that would require 4" stilettos, but does that mean that I have to throw on the same pair of jeans and t-shirt that I did the day before? While my closet is plenty full with clothes, there are many that haven't been off of the hangers in years, yet I can't bring myself to get rid of them. I tell myself that either they'll fit someday... or that I just haven't found the right top or bottom to accompany them... or... or...

What it comes down to is that I just don't know how to make fashion work for me. I've watched enough episodes of What Not To Wear and How Do I Look? to realize that I'm not doing my body as big of a disservice as some people out there... but I still sure wouldn't mind being on the show. Somebody help! Tell me what looks good with what and, more importantly, how to pick out the pieces that will make me feel good wearing them.

overalls for adults
Really? Overalls? When were those ever a good fashion choice?

Clearly a wardrobe makeover is in order. It's evident that I don't know how to shop for myself (I tend to focus on my kids anyway) and have no clue what to even look for in the store. I leave empty-handed most of the time... and, on the chance that I make a purchase, it never seems to be the kind that works with anything else that I own.

However, in my case clothing is only half the battle. Looking back through photos in the past, there are far too many that I'm either not in (because I'm much more comfortable behind the camera) or, if I'm actually pictured, I'm sporting the ponytail.

The same old, same old ponytail that I've had for decades that I throw my hair into far too often. Color? Style? Length? It doesn't matter, it all ends up pulled into the boring ponytail.

birthday candles
You couldn't have done something better than the ponytail for your own birthday party?

I'm not asking to be a rock star and I don't need a closet filled with cocktail dresses and a haircut that is on the cutting edge of hip and trendy. But I would like to get up in the morning and know that no matter if the day's plans include a trip to the park or a night out on the town, that I would be able to feel good about the way I look.

It's time to find the happy medium between looking cute, being comfortable, and feeling like me. Or at least a nicer version of me that knows how to dress, do her hair and wear some makeup. Is that too much to ask?

In writing this post, I'm entering the Microsoft Windows Style Makeover sweepstakes for a chance to win a head to toe makeover!