Friday, April 29, 2011

Let's be honest

This blog never really took off. In part because I'd rather write about stories than about stuff. That said, I'm happy to talk about products that become a part of my story, like this travel gear or this bra, but I don't do it on this "review" blog.

If you have a product that might fit the bill- travel, food, geek stuff, boy stuff, tween and teen stuff, hardware and housewares- drop me a note at reluctantrenovator (at) hotmail (dot) com.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Lands End Bathing Suit Review and Gift Card Giveaway

I'm especially thrilled with the new Lands' End Slendersuit swim suit I was sent for review because on the final day of our recent water park trip I noticed the back of my old bathing suit was threadbare almost, but thankfully not quite, down to my bum.

I was mortified! But rather than question why not one person in my group of 11 pulled me aside and mentioned something, I'll gush about the new suit that covers me in all the right places. Make that covers me and holds me in in all the right places.

The Slendersuit lives up to it's name. It's like a tummy-tuck in a bathing suit. It gently holds my belly in without constricting my innards. A bit of shirred fabric enhances my waistline and as the website promises, the floral "geo daisy" pattern "conceals and flatters." Both DH and I give it a thumbs-up (though he might be sad to see my peek-a-boo look go).

I'm thrilled that this and many other Lands' End swim suits are available in petite sizes. I need a "short torso" suit to get the right fit. They also make plus-sizes (even petite plus) and suits for women who've had mastectomies.

I'm looking forward to sunny days at the pool in my new suit. And based on my experience with this brand, I expect to be wearing it next summer and the summer after, too.

And what about you?

Lands' End and I would love to get you ready for summer with a $100 Lands' End gift card giveaway.

You can pick up a suit that makes you feel fabulous, or cave and spend it on the kids. If you're the kids of person who avoids the sun, maybe housewares are more your thing? Lands' End makes super snoozy pillows and cushy mattress toppers that have earned the Moldofsky seal of approval.

Rules: Leave a comment letting me know how you'll spend the gift card.

Entries from US residents will be accepted through by 8 AM CST on Monday, April 27, 2009. Blog or Tweet this post for an extra entry each (come back and comment to let me know you did so). You can also gain an extra entry by subscribing to my main blog. Winner will be chosen via

Edited 4/22 to add a video overview of Lands' End swimsuits:

Friday, February 20, 2009

Cetaphil Daily Sunscreen SPF 50

Age, health problems and the meds I use to treat those health problems have taken their toll on my skin. In a nutshell: it's dry, blotchy and extremely sensitive to the sun. So I was thrilled to sample Cetaphil's new facial moisturizer UVA/UVB Defense SPF 50.

Cetaphil is known for products that are easy on the skin, so when I read that this was a serious sunscreen that could also be used as a daily moisturizer, I got all excited.

In reality though, as many products with a high SPF, the lotion left a whitish cast on my skin. And after a couple of days of use, it appeared to be aggravating my skin.


I don't think I'm going toss this. I know when summer comes and I head to the pool or beach with my boys my options for a heavy-duty sunscreen that doesn't cast a ghostly pall on my face or clog my pores are limited, so I'll keep this around knowing I could do worse.

But for my daily moisturizer I'm going to stick with some lighter.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

PhotoWorks $50 gift card giveaway

When Smartypants, my 10.5 year old was born, we took a million pictures of him. Maybe not that many, but at the time we were still using film (film!), and I have many photo albums from his early years.

About five or so years ago we went all-digital with our pictures, and I'll be darned if we've printed more than 50 of them in all that time. Sure, they are categorized and available to easy viewing right on our desktop computer. But who wants to fit four people in a single office chair and review years worth of photos?

Not me.

So when I had the chance to make a complimentary photo book from PhotoWorks, I was thrilled. I jumped in with an ambitious (for a PW virgin) project- last summer's vacation to Baltimore and Washington, D.C.

In retrospect, I would have picked something a bit smaller for my first go-round, but I LOVE the results. I have a high quality photo book that I can leisurely page through as I snuggle on the couch with my boys. I can tote it to grandmas and show her the good times from our family vacation. At last I have a vacation memory book- which is crucial because I'm forty and those brain cells are dying faster than you'd believe.

Because this was my first photo book, I don't have much to compare the PhotoWorks interface and process to, but I can say I figured it all out on my own. I had many choices in terms of cover colors, layouts and fonts. In fact, so many that it overwhelmed me a bit as a newbie, but then again, no one in my family is known for their sense of design.

As far as the finished product, I already told you I love it! It's hardcover with sturdy pages and binding. The photo quality equals what I sent in- meaning, my sharp pictures came out crisp and my fuzzy ones came out, well, less sharp. My fault, not theirs. (I'm on a learning curve, people.)

I'm giving away a $50 PhotoWorks gift card to one lucky winner. You can use the credit toward a photo book or any other PhotoWorks products like cards or gift items.

RULES To enter, leave a comment below letting me know what PhotoWorks project(s) you'll make if you win. Entries from US residents will be accepted through 11:30 AM CST 1/26. Blog or Tweet this post for an extra entry each (come back and comment to let me know you did so). You can also gain an extra entry by subscribing to my main blog.

Monday, January 19, 2009

KenKen: the new Sudoku

Move over Sudoku, there's a new game in town- KenKen. It's the latest international puzzle craze.

We were sent a KenKen book (price around $9) in order to experience these math logic puzzles for ourselves. My eight-year-old and I took to them immediately. Well, once we figured out what were were supposed to do.

KenKen builds numeric skills through simple arithmetic puzzles that involve simple addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, or sometimes all four operations. See an example here.

Ken is the Japanese word for wisdom. Get yourself a double dose of wisdom--make that a three double doses, because I'm giving away a set of three KenKen books to one lucky winner.

These make for great unplugged entertainment on long snowbound days and are perfectly portable, making them great for travel, too.

RULES To enter, leave a comment below. Entries from US residents will be accepted through 9:30 AM CST 1/19. Blog or Tweet this post for an extra entry each (come back and comment to let me know you did so). You can also gain an extra entry by subscribing to my main blog.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Chopped: the new Food Network show

Get the scoop on Chopped over at Stacy Libby's blog, Laptop TV Mom. She was part of a phone call with host-to-be Ted Allen. He was a hoot when he spoke to us at Camp Baby, and it sounds like he's just as amusing over the phone.

For an more official take on the show, click over to Food Network.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Zenses Giveaway!

I'm too busy with Twitter and (yes, finally) Facebook to play video games, but when the folks at Game Factory sent me Zenses Ocean and Zenses Rainforest for free, I figured the games were worth a try. With thoughts of Punta Cana on my mind, I opened the Ocean game and negotiated the use of Pikachu's Nintendo DS.

These games are advertised as addictive puzzles for women over the age of 25, which in some ways puzzles me, but DH had little interest in them, so I guess they know their target market. As for eight-year-old Pikachu, he pretended not to like the Zenses games, but was sucked in before the first puzzle was solved.

Zenses Ocean
features six games with puzzles accompanied by spa-type new agey music. It's like Brain Age lite. There's no annoying professor or depressing brain age labels, but users might find themselves thinking a bit to meet the challenges. Gals (and guys) can set the level of challenge for each game and play to her heart's content.

I'm not one to pick up my boys' DSs and wile away my time- that's what Twitter is for!- but I did find these games rather addictive once I started playing. And, because my visual-spatial abilities are, well, lacking, and my memory is fading, I found some of these puzzles pretty challenging. I felt portions of my tired old gray matter springing back to life!

I'm giving away a copy of Zenses Rainforest for Nintendo DS, which also features six multi-level games and a soothing soundtrack. See a trailer for it here.

RULES To enter, leave a comment below letting me your big time sinks. Entries from US residents will be accepted through 9:30 CST 1/12. Blog or Tweet this post for an extra entry each (come back and comment to let me know you did so). You can also gain an extra entry by subscribing to my main blog. Please note I will be sending my unopened Rainforest game to the winner via USPS.

Good luck!