How to Prep and Polish Your Holiday Look

Finding the perfect gift, addressing cards, cleaning house, baking treats and wrapping presents consumes my holiday season leaving very little time to this about my own holiday style.  Of course, the kids have coordinating outfits and accessories but as the big day draws near, I realized I have nothing for myself.  At all.

Thankfully, the celebrity makeup artist and Neutrogena Brand Ambassador Amy Oresman is on the case. Commence Operation Holiday Prep and Polish by following the tips below:

•       Rushing from party to party with minimal prep time? Use multitasking products like the NEUTROGENA® Crease Proof Eye Shadow, the three-in-one is infused with a primer, eye shadow and eye treatment to condition the delicate eye area while you celebrate.

•       The secret to applying eyeliner is getting as close to the lash line as possible, making it slightly thicker as you move outwards. With subtle light diffusers, NEURTROGENA® Nourishing Eyeliner makes the whites of the eyes appear even whiter, giving that extra pop that we all want.

•       Just because the holidays can get expensive, doesn’t mean your beauty routine has to pay the price! NEUTROGENA® Healthy Skin Liquid Makeup is not only silky and ultra-lightweight, but it is also comparable to similar products in the prestige category.

•       All too often this time of year we rush to transition from day to night looks. The NEUTROGENA® Makeup Remover Cleansing Towelettes are a quick and easy way to make the switch (and make a great stocking stuffer, too!).

•       I’m always a fan of products that have dual uses. The NEUTROGENA® MoistureSmooth Color Sticks serves as a moisturizing lip color and can give the perfect touch of color on the cheeks.

Insider Tip: MoistureSmooth Color Sticks are on Rollback at Walmart for just $6.97.

Now that we have flawless skin and a glowing holiday face, let’s tackle hair! Follow the tips below from hairstylist and Neutrogena Brand Ambassador, Sam Leonardi:

•       This time of year, the wind and cold weather can wreak havoc on hair. It’s important to protect overall hair health against not only the elements, but also heating tools and products used to primp for holiday gatherings.  Try the  NEUTROGENA® Triple Repair Fortifying Shampoo and Conditioner into your routine for 3 times stronger hair after just one use.

•       From buns to braids, be sure to use bobby pins with coated tips for reduced breakage, and keep blow dryers at least seven inches from hair to minimize heat damage.

•       For longer, thicker hair, use a small amount of NEUTROGENA® Triple Repair Leave-In Treatment and reapply as needed, especially when using flatirons, curling irons, etc. frequently.

•       Conditioner should be focused on the mid-length to ends, where strands are most damaged and at their weakest. After applying, rinse with cold water to remove residue and static, giving it more shine.

Ready to get the look?  One of my lucky readers will win a selection of Neutrogena holiday staples and a $50 Walmart gift card! Enter below:

 
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Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: 50 Years and Still Glowing #Rudolph50

This post is written by the Experimental Mommy and brought to you by Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group. All opinions remain 100% honest.

There really is no feeling in the World like the Christmas Spirit.  While it is important to us educate our girls about the true meaning of the holiday and lead by example, the traditions of the Season add to the excitement. Decorating, caroling and sitting my the fire with hot chocolate are a few of my family’s favorites.

But for every year as long as I can remember, we have gone to my Aunt’s home on Christmas Eve to celebrate surrounded by family and friends.  About half way through the party, we always hear a knock at the door and Santa arrives to hand out gifts for everyone young and old alike.  On the ride home, we would have to cross the Mississippi River and pass through downtown New Orleans.  My parents always told us to look in the sky and try to spot Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.  As you can imagine, driving through a City provided many opportunities for us to debate whether the flashing red light is a skyscraper or indeed Rudolph.

Now that I have kids of my own, we still attend my Aunt’s Christmas Eve party and I have passed down the tradition of trying to spot Rudolph on the ride home.  Can you believe that 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of the first broadcast of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” making it the longest-running and highest rated holiday TV special of all time?

To celebrate the anniversary, there will be a major tie-in with the U.S. Postal Service, tribute promos from CBS, a collector’s edition DVD with new bonus material, a new stage musical, theme park and in-mall entertainment and of course a social media campaign using #ShineBright which will celebrate uniqueness in association with PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center.

Throughout the holiday season, I substitute our usual bedtime stories with seasonal classics.  In honor of the 50th anniversary, I am excited to have 6 new Rudolph-themed books from Square Fish, an imprint of the Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group.  The new books encompass several different formats including a novel, a classic storybook, a picture book, a slide-and-find, a “My Reader” and our favorite, the lift-the-flap board books. There is something for every level of reader to enjoy including the following titles:

  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Classic Story (Deluxe 50th Anniversary Edition for ages 4-8)
  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: Slide and Find (Board Book for ages 2-4)
  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: Life-the-Flap (Board Book for ages 2-4)
  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: Rudolph Saves the Day (Paperback picture book for ages 3-7)
  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: My Reader (Level 2 Paperback Reader for ages 5-7)
  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Island of Misfit Toys (Middle-Grade Graphic Novel for ages 7-12)

If you are ready to start a new tradition in your home, enter below for a chance to win all 6 of the Rudolph books mentioned above!

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Get In The Holiday Spirit at the New Orleans City Park #CelebrationInTheOaks

This post is written by the Experimental Mommy as part of the Holiday of Wonder campaign sponsored by Wonder and Company and Celebration in the Oaks at New Orleans City Park. All opinions remain 100% mine.

Sometimes living in Southeast Louisiana can make it very difficult to get into the holiday spirit.  Wearing flip flops to Thanksgiving dinner, sweating while searching for the perfect tree and turning on the air conditioning while wrapping presents does not make me want to belt out my favorite Christmas carol.  But this is the reality that all New Orleanians have to face and as a Mom, I struggle to get my family ready for the fa-la-la-la-holidays.

For many years, my own parents took my brother and I to the New Orleans City Park to experience Celebration in the Oaks which was the signal of the arrival of the Season.  And now, I love carrying on the tradition with my own little family. More than 165,000 visitors flock to the magical light displays covering 25 acres of the historic City Park including the Botanical Garden, Storyland, and Carousel Gardens.

While I have visited Celebration in the Oaks many times in the past, every time I return I see something new.  The creative team at City Park works hard to add fresh ideas and breathtaking displays to delight even the seasoned guest.  New for 2014 is the expanded Sea-Labration exhibit and an animated light display set to music called “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” which is truly spectacular.  Looking down at my two daughters, they were dancing and singing along with the holiday tunes…in shorts…..in 75 degree weather.  Merry Christmas, everyone!

But, my entire family stopped in their tracks and gasped when we saw the enormous Dripping Snow Tree.  While we knew it was actual snow, the tree was covered in white lights and appeared to be dripping snowflakes on the ground below.  And can you believe that since the park uses energy efficient LED lights, the entire illuminated tree uses only as much energy as a simple toaster?

The dripping snow tree at #celebrationintheoaks #cito2014 uses the same amount of energy as a toaster!!

A video posted by Bridgette Duplantis (@experimentalmommyblog) on


One of my favorite activities in City Park when I was a kid was riding the train around the 2 mile track.  But when the route is decorated in lights, the ride is something to behold. I highly recommend you visit Celebration in the Oaks Monday -Thursday (as crowds are lighter on weekdays) and head straight for the train when you arrive to avoid long lines.  Even better?  Buy your tickets online at CelebrationInTheOaks.com which will make accessing the fun much quicker!

So, for people across the South who are melting in their fuzzy winter socks and scarves you insist on wearing, brighten up your holiday spirit by taking the trip to Celebration in The Oaks at the New Orleans City Park.  The experience is open from now through January 3, 2014 (closed on 12/1-12/4; 12/24 and 12/31).  Tickets are only $8 per person (children under 3 and Friends of City Park are free).  The train ride is well worth the additional $4 per person and you can also purchase tickets for the amusement park rides for $3/ride or $17/unlimited rides.

Need more info?  Follow New Orleans City Park on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Don’t Miss a Beat with TV Everywhere #CouldBeWatchingTV

This post was written by the Experimental Mommy and brought to you by TV Everywhere. All opinions remain 100% mine.

So, did you survive Black Friday shopping? Did you camp out to snag any great deals on the hot toys of the season?  Hopefully, if you read my recent post about TV Everywhere, you were at least able to stay entertained while waiting in long lines.  Still haven’t heard of TV Everywhere?  Apparently, you are not alone.

A study from HUB Research earlier this year, commissioned by Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing (CTAM), indicates more than half of pay-TV subscribers are unaware of the features and capabilities of TV Everywhere, and nearly 60%  have never taken advantage of the  service, which is provided at no additional cost.  So sit down, and let me educate you for a minute.

First, do you have one of the following cable providers?

Great! It’s totally simple.

  • Go to your cable provider’s website
  • Log in using your account name/password
  • Watch TV

That’s it! Now you never have to be out of the loop because you missed the important episode of The Walking Dead or Cougar Town.  Now, you can watch live or downloaded programming through your smartphone, tablet or laptop on the go or at home at absolutely no additional cost. Let’s Celebrate with a TV Everywhere giveaway!  Enter below:

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How to Select the Perfect Pair of Boots this Winter

This post is written by the Experimental Mommy.  While a sample was received to facilitate this review, all opinions remain 100% mine.

Inspired by one of my favorite fashion bloggers, Ellen from That Chic Mom, I decided to tackle a fashion post myself (believe it or not, sometimes I shed the lab coat for real girly clothes).  Given that I live in New Orleans, I have tons of summery outfits and my closet is full of an assortment of flip flops.  But, my winter wardrobe consists entirely of a pair of jeans, one sweater and a scarf I have no idea how to tie.  Fortunately, my friends at Shoebuy.com are coming to the rescue with some great tips on how to pick the perfect pair of boots this winter.

As for this season’s top boot styles, booties are leading the way, with harness boots, over-the-knee boots and western-inspired styles falling closely behind. But which ones are best for YOU?

Booties:

A great pair of booties is a MUST this season. Perfect for pairing with a skinny jean or matching with a pencil skirt, this style can be worn day or night. For your first pair, try a neutral color like beige or black. Once you have a chance to break-in your “go-to” pair, go a little bolder with a flashier color like red or dark blue.

Over-the-Knee:

If you’re looking for a more glamorous look, say for a night on the town, you gotta go big or go home! Over-the-knee boots can add the perfect amount of spice to any outfit, specifically when paired with a sleek pair of black jeans, leather leggings, or a fitted dress.

Western influence:

If you’re looking to step out of your traditional style comfort zone, try incorporating some fun, western-inspired looks. This year, cowboy boots are making a name for themselves in the fashion world and we can’t help but love it!

Harness Boots:

To complete your leggings/sweater combo, skip the Ugg boots and turn to a pair of harness boots. This classic equestrian-inspired style can liven up any casual look with comfort and ease!

After checking out the rules, I decided on the perfect pair of black leather booties.  Turns out, they really are quite versatile.  One pair of shoes, three totally different looks.  I found ways to where my booties with leggings, dress pants and jeans and make them work!

When shopping for boots online, it’s important to shop early if you want to snag the most popular fashion trends, as those styles often sell out first. If you find a pair you love, don’t hesitate! Make sure you do your research to guarantee you are getting the best deal – after all, who doesn’t love to save a few extra dollars here and there!

This year, we’re seeing more people searching for wide calf boots. How do you know if that style will work for you, you ask? Fortunately, Shoebuy.com, makes it a priority to feature the Shaft Height and Circumference on our product pages. If you see a style you like, take a fabric measuring tape and measure your calf circumference. If the numbers are only a few inches apart, you should be good to go.

Go Forth and Conquer your winter wardrobe!  Tell me in the comments which is your favorite style of boots?

Neutrogena Face-to-Face Foundation Challenge {Big Reveal}

This post was written by the Experimental Mommy. While I am an Ambassador for Neutrogena, all opinions remain 100% honest.

As a Neutrogena Ambassador, I have had the opportunity to try lots of the brand’s products but never done an actual head to head challenge with any other brands….until now.  To participate in the Face-to-Face Challenge, I was sent two identical bottles of foundation just labelled “A” and “B”.  I was instructed to use each product for at least 2 days and report back on the results.

Up first, Foundation “A.”  The texture of this product was fairly thick and I was surprised at how light it actually felt on my skin. This product provided great coverage without over drying my skin.

The following week, I tested Foundation “B.”  This product was was noticeably thinner in texture (almost watery).  While this foundation provided good coverage initially, I feel like it did not stay put throughout the day.

At the end of the testing period, I chose Foundation “A” due to its’ staying power.  At the end of the day, I felt like my makeup still looked fresh which is essential for this busy working Mom.  After providing my results to the people at Neutrogena, it was revealed that Foundation A (the one I chose as superior) was NEUTROGENA® Healthy Skin Liquid Makeup SPF 20 which sells for $12.50 and Foundation B was actually NARS Sheer Glow which sells for $45.

Neutrogena Healthy Skin® liquid makeup takes over where your skin care leaves off. Silky-light coverage glides on for a perfectly natural look, while the exclusive blend plus Broad Spectrum SPF 20 work together to visibly improve skin’s luminosity, tone, and texture.

Lesson learned: a higher price does not always equal a better product.  What’s your favorite foundation?

 

Under the Tree: Animalz by ReTrak

This post was written by the Experimental Mommy.  While a sample was received to facilitate this review, all opinions remain 100% my own.

Last year, Santa decided that it would be a very Merry Tech-y Christmas and both my girls found iPad Minis under the tree.  They could not have been more thankful and those gifts are still their favorite almost a year later.  But now that they are older, the trend this year seems to be all about the accessories.  From fashion cases to fun backgrounds, my girls are finding new ways to make their iPads as unique as their personalities.

Neither girl likes earbuds that go inside the ear, so we have had a hard time finding quality headphones that are to their liking, safe, and affordable.  And I think every tween Mom will agree that headphones are a necessity! Fortunately, my daughters each received a pair of ReTrak Animalz Children’s Headphones to give a try.

Animalz by Retrak headphones are a fun, furry accessory for family road trips, airplane rides and casual listening. Designed for little ears with volume-limiting technology and a retractable cord for tangle-free travel and storage, Animalz are available in six fun fabric animal designs.

Furry headphones that are comfortable on the head AND look like stuffed animals….SCORE! The girls love the “cool” and fun look of the Bunny and the Panda (but the bear, dog and monkey headphones are equally as awesome).  Plus, it’s my job to make sure my little one’s ears are protected so I love that the Animalz’ volume limiter sets the maximum volume at 85 decibels.

 

But, my absolute favorite feature?  The retractable cable! No more meltdowns caused by tangled and broken cords makes my heart sing and officially puts this item on my “Best Gift for Tween Girls” list.  Looking for more gift ideas, check out my daughters’ blog for a tween girl gift guide.

Celebrating Friendsgiving with Netflix

This post was written by the Experimental Mommy and brought to you by Netflix.  All opinions remain 100% honest.

The last few days have been a whirlwind.  Surrounded by family and friends, we have shared everything for which we are thankful.  We are truly blessed.

Now that my daughters are getting older, their circle of friends is of the utmost importance to them and we are thankful that they have found such great people to make up their support networks.  My husband and I took the opportunity on Thanksgiving to talk to our girls about what it means to be a good friend…kindness, respect, generosity, humility, and honesty are tops on our list.  To demonstrate our points, we found some titles to stream on Netflix for our Thanksgiving family movie night.  Our favorites:

Veggie Tales in the House: an all new Netflix original!

Charlotte’s Web: Who can resist Wilbur?

Lilo & Stitch:  Disney movie…need I say more?

LEGO Friends: My 6 year old’s favorite!

While the movies certainly help demonstrate what it means to be a good friend, my husband and I lead by example.  Being kind and respectful to each other and to our family and friends goes a long way when teaching our little ones.  I hope you all had a memorable Thanksgiving surrounded by your own family and friends!

Rayovac Batteries: The Perfect Stocking Stuffer

This post was written by the Experimental Mommy and brought to you by Rayovac.  All opinions remain 100% my own.

Best Feeling Ever:  Waking up Christmas morning to find that you were indeed on Santa’s nice list and got THE toy that was tops on your list. You know, the one that plays music, lights up and is the best toy in history like ever? OMG….SCORE!

Worst Feeling Ever:  Spending 30 minutes opening said toy to reveal that batteries are not included. Big Christmas bummer.

Can you relate?  In order to avoid having this happen to my own kids and to squash the Christmas meltdown, we always ask that Santa leave some Rayovac batteries as stocking stuffers….just in case.  Better to be prepared, right?  And better yet, let Santa know that he can find two printable coupons for Rayovac batteries online which will save $0.50 and $1.00 off any one package of Rayovac Alkaline batteries.

And while you are out playing one of Santa’s jolly elves on Black Friday, please take heed this public notice:  Check your gift to see if batteries are included.  Even if they are, why not get an extra set of Rayovac batteries and be the holiday hero!

What will you need batteries for this holiday season?

Stitch Your Pictures with Kwilt

This post was written by the Experimental Mommy and brought to you by Kwilt and The Motherhood. All opinions remain 100% mine.

As a Mom, I can never be far away from a camera. Add to that the fact that I am a blogger and pictures become my lifeline.  I have precious memories stored on Facebook, Instagram, my iPhone and my iPad but connecting them to create an entire storyline can be cumbersome and time consuming.  But, I was recently introduced to the new app, Kwilt which has been a great tool for stitching together photos from different places to give family, friends and even my sponsors a look at the whole picture.

Kwilt  is an app focused on ensuring that photo aggregation is a pain-free, cross-platform and beautiful  experience. This mobile application dynamically accesses photos streams from any platform onto one seamless, elegant destination and displays them in a unique mosaic design called a Kwilt.
I easily downloaded the app to my iPhone, created a free account and connected my Facebook, Instagram, Google +, Flickr and Dropbox accounts.  Instantly,my photos from all connected platforms appeared in one photostream organized by date.  I decided to make a collage of photos taken at a recent family day at the WWII Air Show in New Orleans to share with family and friends.  By touching and holding pictures you want included in the collage, the photos are selected and can be “stitched” together into a seamless Kwilt easily shareable or even beamed onto TV using Airplay,  Chromecast, Roku, LG and Panasonic.

Not happy with the arrangement? Shuffle the photos for a whole new look!  Kwilt also has some great features to make you look like a pro including 16 state of the art photo editing tools with fun stickers (which my daughters love). And no worries about taking up space on your mobile device, Kwilt streams your pictures live, dynamically in real time without taking up your precious storage space.

Are you ready to start #Kwilting with me?  Download the app and take a look at this video to get started!