Monthly Archives: July 2011

Fresh Tips For Beauty Bliss

Ladies, we know how important your makeup is to you. We know how often you splurge on new mascara or brushes to keep your makeup collection in tip-top shape. But we’ve all been there– you suddenly loose your favorite new Lady Gaga limited edition lipstick in your bottomless purse or ruin your brushes in the midst of travel. So, we’ve identified some tips and products to help you keep your makeup collection fresh all year round!

KEEP IT OR TOSS IT?

We’re always wondering if we should keep our six-month-old eyeshadows and face creams or run to the store to purchase all new beauty products– we’re sure you’re wondering the same. For beauty tips, we’ve looked to Mario Dedivanovic, a celebrity makeup artist whose work has been featured in top magazines (he shares celeb beauty secrets in his tell-all blog http://blog.makeupbymario.com/).

We first asked Mario about mascara. How do you know when it’s expired? Mario says, “Mascara will begin to go bad after about 2-3 months.  When the wand comes out looking dry and flaky, it’s time for a new mascara.  Another simple way to tell when your mascara is too old is by smelling it.  After a few months of use, mascara tends to get a very bitter smell – similar to vinegar in my opinion.  If something smells abnormal like that, close it and toss it.” Since we all love luscious lashes, this is definitely a tip worth remembering.

Next comes foundation. Especially for liquid foundation, Mario says if it “begins to seperate in the bottle and change colors, please do yourself and your skin a favor and get rid of it. Products that contain oils will eventually go bad and will certainly accumulate all kinds of bacteria.” What else can’t Mario stand? Filthy sponges. Mario tells us “wash your sponge at least once a week.  It takes a few seconds to wash with soap and water.  Reusing these sponges over time and not washing them will be more harmful to your skin than anything else.   If you dont want to wash them, you can use a new sponge every time and toss it when done.  Every pharmacy has bags of disposable sponges that are fairly inexpensive.” Washing your sponges will keep your skin and your makeup fresh– good to know!

KEEP IT ORGANIZED

Most of us have a simple makeup bag that holds absolutely everything we need to keep our faces looking pretty. But, we’re here to tell you that there’s a much better way to store your makeup. A cosmetic travel pouch is lightweight, washable, and has specific compartments for all your makeup essentials. You’ll finally be able to see what you have (or don’t have), and can keep items secure in your purse or while traveling.

Cosmetic Travel Pouch

Another solution? A purse organizer.

Purse Organizer

Instead of taking their entire makeup bag, many women will simply carry a lipstick, mascara and blush for touchups. The problem? We know how many other items you carry in that enormous bag of yours. So try a purse organizer– it fits right into your bag and has exterior pockets to hold anything and everything (including makeup)! A cosmetic pouch or purse organizer will help with Mario’s final tip: “Try keeping liquid and cream products including lipsticks and glosses away from the sunlight.  Instead, store them somewhere dark and cool like a drawer or medicine cabinet.” There you have it, ladies. Now go clean up those makeup bags!

For more information about products and ordering, visit www.greatusefulstuff.com.

Primping Up Your Pet’s Space

We know that taking care of pets is a tough, time intensive job; as if kids don’t keep you busy enough, you now have animals to worry about. Better yet, your house has probably been turned upside down since the addition of your furry friends. We’ve done some research and found tips and tricks to keeping your pet’s area (aka your home) clean as can be– follow along!

FOOD AND WATER 

The food and water area is perhaps the  most important aspect of your pet’s area. As dog owners ourselves, we know the feeling of your puppy spilling water on the newly cleaned floor because of his flimsy bowl. Another hassle? Cleaning the bowls. We got some great info from Paris Permenter and John Bigley who run a pet blog of pet tips, product reviews, news, travel, and more (check out www.dogtipper.com and www.cattipper.com for great advice on caring for your special pet). Paris informs us that for dogs, “it’s best to set up your dog’s food bowl in an area away from the main traffic in your house but, on the other hand, not too far from the action. You’ll want to supervise your dog’s eating and drinking habits, especially if you have more than one dog, to make sure each is getting appropriate amounts of food and water. It’s handy to set up the food bowl fairly close to the kitchen. Most dog lovers set out the food and give their dog about 15 minutes to eat; after that time, leftover food goes into the refrigerator or is discarded and the bowl cleaned.” For cats, Paris says to “set up the food and water bowls away from the litter box (because no one wants to dine in the bathroom!).” In terms of water, she suggests having more than one bowl or a fountain for your pet.

Pet Bowl Holder

So considering our goal is to eliminate mess and keep our pets healthy, we suggest a sturdy stainless steel pet bowl holder. The holder looks fancy enough to keep in practically any room in the house, and the removable bowls and leatherette base make cleaning easier than ever. The best part about the holder? It definitely won’t be sliding around your hardwood floors and creating a mess! If you’ve already invested in high quality pet bowls, try a pet bowl mat to keep them in place.

CLEANING

Cleaning is of utmost importance with pets, for your sake as well as theirs. Paris says, “Dog and cat bowls should be washed daily, just as we’d wash our own bowls.  Stainless steel or ceramic bowls are excellent for both water and food. (With ceramic, make sure the bowl has a lead-free glaze.) For cats, it’s especially important to avoid plastic bowls. The soft surface of plastic scratches easily; those scratches can harbor bacteria.” To ensure you leave your pet bowls sparkling clean, try a sturdy pet bowl cleaner sponge.

However, the washing is just the beginning of the cleaning process. It’s important to eliminate pet odors and clean up shedding. There’s really only one solution, which Paris urges: “Frequent cleaning is the best way to avoid pet odors around the house. This means daily vacuuming and frequent mopping, using pet-friendly solutions such as vinegar and water.” Of course, bathing your pet consistently will make your job easier (and make your pet more fun to cuddle with)! However, Paris says, “if you don’t have time, there are numerous “between bath” products you can spritz on your dog’s hair to break up oils.” If you’re a cat owner, don’t forget to clean out the litter box completely every week.

FUN PET ACCESSORIES

Need a better place to store all those pet biscuits and brushes? Try a pet pouch that you can even tote along with you on vacation. The pouch has plenty of labeled compartments for storing snacks, toys, grooming equipment, and more!

Pet Pouch

Fatboy Doggielounge

Finally, if your dog has been extra well-behaved recently, surprise her with a new Doggielounge! The lounger shuts out moisture and odors, and provides your puppy with the perfect spot for some much needed shut-eye.

For more information about products and ordering, visit www.greatusefulstuff.com

Stylish Summer Gardening

Summer is often the time when people clean out their closets, throw away old papers and start afresh, so why not take the same approach with your garden? We know gardening can become a bit tedious, especially in the summer sun. But for those of you who are willing to bear the heat with us, we’ve come up with some fun ideas to help you and your garden stay stylish for the rest of the summer!

DIY

Do-it-yourself projects are often far more complicated than we hope, but we promise we have easy ideas for sprucing up your garden. Some of the simplest pieces to add to your outdoor space are decorated containers. Kathleen Hassinger is part of The Garden Media Group specializing in promoting lawn and garden products and services (check out their fantastic company and clients http://www.gardenmediagroup.com/index.htm), and she has given us some great garden tips. She says that “creating interesting containers is easy, economical and quick.” Decorate plain containers to hold flowers and smaller vegetables that you particularly enjoy showing off. Kathleen adds, “I love including herbs in my deck containers so when I need some fresh herbs I don’t even have to put shoes on to add them to the recipe!” Featured below are some fabulous containers Kathleen spotted at the Association of Professional Landscape Designers conference. We love them all, but our favorite is the last one– it’s chic and we love the display of herbs inside. Don’t forget to try hanging containers this summer, too!

SUMMER TRENDS 

We’ve been especially curious about this summer’s gardening trends–what designs or plants are most popular this season? We’ve discovered that color is definitely the way to go, whether you’re planting in the ground or in your newly designed containers. People have been trending toward tropical plants (like a hibiscus) and vibrant lilies. Besides color, also play with heights and bloom sizes to create a more interesting garden design. Kathleen informs us that “one trend the Garden Media Group has been spotting a lot of is green walls.” The photograph below is a product she spotted called Wooly Pockets.

KEEP IT STYLISH

Alice Supply Co. Lime Garden Hose

Besides keeping your garden in tune with summer trends, it’s equally as important to keep yourself looking and feeling good. Add a burst of color to your gardening equipment to make looking at the not-so-pretty things out there a bit more enjoyable. A bright lime green or orange garden hose is a fun accessory you’ll enjoy using and your guests will definitely ask you about!

A toolbox is another typically mundane item that everyone tends to hide in their garage. We promise you’ll want to show off your gardening tool box when it’s decorated with summer colors and fun stripes!

Alice Supply Co. Striped Tool Box

Garden tools can also easily be kept in mesh wire baskets.

Mesh Wire Basket

These mesh baskets are sturdy and spacious, and can be easily organized in any closet space. The mesh is extremely helpful for shaking out excess dirt and debris from your gardening adventures!

Besides a sturdy tool box and wire bin, we know you gardening gurus need something a bit easier to lug around the backyard.

Organizing Tote

An organizing tote is versatile and suitable for all weather conditions; great for fitting every tool and even gardening scraps; and a colorful addition to your gardening wardrobe. The best thing about it? If you one day decide gardening just isn’t for you, your organizing tote will be sure to come in handy for whatever you decide to take on next!

For more information about products and ordering, visit www.greatusefulstuff.com. 

Beach Bags and Bikini Swag

Summertime is all about soaking up the sun by the beach or pool and strutting your stuff in a cute bikini. But we know getting to the beach isn’t as easy as it sounds. You’re probably thinking: What do I pack? What bag even fits all my stuff? How do I entertain the kids? What kind of swimsuit do I wear? Well don’t worry, we’ve got the answers to make your summer beach days as relaxing as can be!

PACKING FOR THE BEACH 

We’ve all been there. You think you’ve packed everything you need for a fun day in the sun, only to arrive at the beach and realize you’ve forgotten towels (or even your swimsuit). Read through our list of essential beach items to make sure you don’t forget a thing this time!

1. Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen. Pack some for your face and body. 

2. A hat. The more protection for your face, the better.

3. Sunglasses. Believe it or not, your eyes can sunburn, too. Trust us, it hurts.

4. Towels and blankets. Either can be spread on the sand, but towels are a must if you plan on taking a dip in the ocean. If you prefer, bring an umbrella chair that folds up easily, blocks the sun and keeps your beach area stylish!

Beach Chair with Umbrella

5. Water. We can almost guarantee you’ll be dehydrated after a day in the sun, so drink up! Also pack light snacks that don’t need to be refrigerated, or take a cooler if you prefer something cold.

6. Change of clothes. There’s nothing worse than driving back home in a sopping wet bathing suit filled with sand.

7. Beach toys. Take frisbees and footballs to occupy the young ones on your trip, and take a book for yourself.

8. Camera. Documentation of your perfect beach day is required.

Now, what bag is beach worthy and can fit all your items? Large mesh totes are great for the beach and can withstand the harsh sand.

Mesh Beach Tote

With these bags, you’ll be sure to leave the sand and water behind, and won’t have a problem fitting everything you need.

CARING FOR YOUR SWIMSUIT

You’ve got a new, super cute bikini for the beach, but how do you keep it looking good as new all summer long? Michelle Koch from V i X Swimwear (check out their amazingly beautiful bikinis http://www.vixswimwear.com/) gave us some great tips that we promise to abide by from now on.

Michelle says that before wearing your suit to the beach, “to prevent fading, bleeding, and to keep colors vibrant longer, soak new swimsuit for 30 minutes in a mixture of water and white vinegar (1 tbsp vinegar per 1 quart water).” After your day in the sun, she tells us to “rinse your swimsuit in cool water immediately following swimming in salt or chlorinated water” and then “hand wash your suit with a mild soap– do not wash in the washing machine.”

But we had more questions for Michelle. What if your bikini has delicate embellishments? Michelle says that for V i X suits in particular, “all embellishments (gold, leather, beads, etc) can be worn in salt and chlorinated water.” However, she warns that “sun, tanning/bronzing lotions, tinted moisturizers, oils, harsh chemicals and minerals, salt water, chlorine, and extreme heat naturally put wear on any swimsuit and can turn it yellow. To prevent wear as much as possible, be careful to follow the care instructions.” We can’t wait to keep our suits sparking this season!

WHAT SWIMSUIT TO WEAR WHEN

Let’s face it, most of us have numerous swimsuits we like alternating and mismatching, and it’s often difficult to choose which to wear. However, our decision may be easier once we know what suit is best for every beachy occasion. We’ve asked Michelle Koch from V i X Swimwear to help us out once again.

For lounging on the beach/soaking up the sun, Michelle suggests to “glam things up and pick a suit with more details, like leather, studs or embroidery.”

For swimming, Michelle says to “make sure that you have a suit that fits well. A natural quality of lycra is to expand slightly when wet, so make sure your suit fits well to begin with. Avoid Bandeau tops as they are prone to slipping off in the waves!”

And finally, for surfing and other water sports, Michelle recommends to “avoid a suit with any sort of embellishment.”

So next time you’re planning a beach trip, remember our tips and tricks– we guarantee you’ll have the perfect summer day!

For more information about products and ordering, visit www.greatusefulstuff.com.