Hey there, hi there, ho there! How is everyone's summer going? I can't believe it's already August! Around these parts, most schools are already back in session - that's just nutty to me! As a kid, I remember having until at least Labor Day before the daily grind started back up again. In high school we returned in late August, but it just seems to get earlier and earlier every year! Poor kids, though I'm sure parents across the country are rejoicing!
I have a special post for you all today! I have partnered once again with Balance Bar, and this time also with Walmart, to talk about some of my summer essentials, try some new flavors of Balance Bar, and offer a GIVEAWAY at the bottom of this post! Let's get to it! First, Walmart provided me with a gift card to purchase what I feel are some summer essentials. Here's what I found:
Being pregnant in the summer means that one mega-important summer essential for me is being comfortable! I was 27 weeks pregnant when this picture was taken and quickly running out of shirts that didn't make me look like I have a beer gut hanging out from underneath the bottom hem. I've since remedied that problem, including this cute striped shirt from Oh! Mamma. I still haven't quite got the hang of sizing on maternity clothing. Everything says to order your pre-pregnancy size because the clothing is already created with the appropriate amount of extra room, but I have such a hard time trusting that! It's so odd to order your regular size while at the same time thinking, "What? That will never fit!" But I digress. Working from home is super convenient when you're pregnant, because I can get away with wearing old stretched out t-shirts and enormous elastic shorts for most days while keeping just a few "suitable for the public eye" outfits on hand for whenever I need to leave the house. Maternity clothes are not cheap! My other comfort item was a huge body pillow with a soft grey velour cover. I don't have a photo, but it's pretty self-explanatory, and definitely helps to have stuffed against my back on those nights when I just can't find a comfortable position!
Okay so this one is a little obvious - summer is about fun in the sun! I spied this Gazillion Bubble Hurricane Machine and thought it would be fun to fire it up in the backyard and see how Dexter and Dewey would react. We went out one balmy afternoon and gave it a try. At first, Dewey wasn't so sure about things. He kept his distance for a while, but eventually he crept closer with his cute little worried face on full display.
He did a sweep of the perimeter of the bubble cloud, checking for any funny business.
Eventually, his worried face gave way to his usual Dewey-grin, and he started investigating a few nearby bubbles.
He chomped at a couple of them, got bored, and resumed his perch next to the fence to wait for the neighbor's dog to come kiss him.
Dexter was a brave soldier, marched right up to the offensive machine, and took a bubble blast right to the face!
Personally, I think he liked the tickle of the bubbles against his face and nose because he stood here for a long time!
Because Dexter is a little ball crazy I expected him to go ape at the hundreds of "balls" floating around, but he seemed quite content to watch them calmly. He couldn't figure out what they were!
He's such a photogenic little dude - he can't help himself.
Even though they had a milder reaction to the bubbles than we were expecting, I think they enjoyed themselves. I'd call the bubble machine experiment a success. 🙂
We often use the summer months to get organized! I save coupons that I think I might use as well as receipts that are still within the window for a refund in case I need to return something. Usually, these get shoved into my purse without any rhyme or reason, and it ends up looking like this. Yikes!
I found this simple case while meandering through the 'Back to School!' aisles and inhaling the intoxicating smell of fresh, unsharpened pencils. Please tell me I'm not the only one who loves new school supplies, even though the last time I was in a classroom of any kind was almost a decade ago.
Voila! Much better I think.
Summer is the perfect time to try a fun new look! Lately I'm too lazy to bother with a full face of makeup - a little concealer, mascara, and a swipe of eyeliner across my lower lashes is about the extent of my face-spackling on most days. But when I actually sit down and play around with it, I do enjoy makeup quite a bit! This eye palette by Revlon caught my eye mostly because of the packaging (I totally admit I am a sucker for packaging). It is the Revlon Photoready palette in Muse, and I like it because it takes the guesswork out of which shades to use for each part of your eye. It even has a primer (lower left color) and a corner accent color (lower right) so you can really spice things up!
Did I mention it has sparklies? Sparkles make everything better!
Here are the colors swatched onto my pale-as-death skin. I know the crease and accent color look scary dark, but don't worry - you only use those in teeny tiny amounts to add a lil' definition.
I also picked up a Scandaleyes white cream eyeshadow stick by Rimmel London. Have you guys ever used a white eyeshadow stick? Omg, they're so versatile! I usually dab it onto my eyelids (it's soft and creamy) and then spread it out with my finger as a makeshift primer for underneath my eyeshadow. It works beautifully and is way less expensive than actual eyelid primers. Bonus! You can also use a little bit just below your lower lash line to subtly brighten up your eyes if you had a rough night and are looking a bit haggard the next morning. We all have those days.
I also grabbed a Wet 'n Wild MegaSlicks lip gloss to try. I prefer subtle glosses to full-on lipstick - I have a hate-hate relationship with my big ole teeth, so anything I can do to not draw attention to my mouth is always preferred!
Part of my partnership with Balance Bar and Walmart for this post included trying out the Peanut Butter and Cookie Dough flavors. While shopping, I spied a couple more flavors that I had to grab as well. They sounded yummy.
Let's start with the cookie dough! I love that 15 grams of protein are packed into these little bars, as well as them having 200 calories or less!
Normally I'm pretty picky about "cookie dough flavored" anything. If it's not actual cookie dough then... it's not actual cookie dough. I was impressed with this one though - definitely the closest to an actual cookie dough flavor that I've had so far! I also liked the texture of the inside - not too chewy and weird like some protein bars, so that's a plus!
Peanut butter! The smell of this one was the first thing to hit me - like sweetened fresh peanuts. The outside peanut butter coating is buttery smooth and the inside was chunky without being dry or brittle... sort of like a soft nougat.
This one was the sweetest of all of the flavors I've tried - definitely makes you feel a little naughty. But it didn't have any odd after tastes or strange textures. I like it!!
How could I resist picking up a bar with a title like dark chocolate caramel macchiato? Um, yes please!
This was my favorite out of them all. The coffee flavor was so strong, which surprised me - usually something that's coffee-flavored is anything but - not these! The dark chocolate brownie layer filled with krispie bits, topped off by a smooth caramel layer and additional dark chocolate drizzle... doesn't get much better than that! Total winner.
Last up is dark chocolate coconut! I'm not silent about my coconut-loving ways, and anytime you pair coconut with dark chocolate, you can count me in.
Part of why I love coconut is the texture, and it's certainly present here without being too overpowering, since the majority of the toasted, shredded coconut is found in the thinner upper layer. The dark chocolate brownie on the bottom is a nice balance, though the coconut flavor still comes through as the major player. This one gets my approval!
Now for the fun part!! Walmart and Balance Bar are giving away a $10 Walmart gift card as well as a variety pack of Balance Bars to one of our readers! Simply follow the instructions below to enter. Contest will end on Saturday, August 16th at 11:59pm so get those entries in now!
Ways to enter (you will receive an additional entry for each of these that you complete):
1. Comment on this blog post and tell me what your summer essential(s) is/are!
2. Like Brownie Bites on Facebook. Leave an additional comment telling me that you've done so!
3. Like Balance Bar on Facebook. Leave an additional comment telling me that you've done so!
4. Like Walmart on Facebook. Leave an additional comment telling me that you've done so!
5. Follow Brownie Bites on Twitter. Leave an additional comment telling me that you've done so!