Thursday, May 8, 2014

Give Back Through the State Farm Neighborhood Assist Initiative

Disclosure: I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for State Farm. I received a promotional item to thank me for participating.

As someone who is a big believer in paying it forward and helping others, I have always done my best to donate my time, talents and money to charity and those in need. I have also been on the receiving end of such charity while battling a devastating chronic illness that has cost me physically, emotionally and financially. After being on both the giving and receiving end, I now believe even more that charity makes the world go around.

Before my illness hit me hard, I was much more active in helping my community. One of my proudest moments was being able to donate enough to our local police department for the purchase of a brand new McGruff the Crime Dog costume that is now used to teach safety to children in our community. My husband and I also involve our children in charity so that they are raised with a spirit of giving. Here I am with three of our six kids participating in the Random Acts of Zu charity drive:

I recently learned of an excellent program for giving back to our local communities called the State Farm Neighborhood Assist initiative. Communities across the United States and Canada answered the call from State Farm® to help create a positive impact in their community and submitted 4,000 causes as part of this year’s State Farm Neighborhood Assist. Now the top 200 causes have been selected by the State Farm Youth Advisory Board® and they need your “assist” to help vote them into the top 40. From April 28 through May 16, anyone who has the free State Farm Neighborhood Assist Facebook application can vote daily for their favorite cause, or causes, and help bring $25,000 to the top 40 vote-getters.

Extreme Recess in Wisconsin- Providing Adaptive Sports & Activities for Children With Disabilties-
Previous Grant Recipient in the State Farm Neighborhood Assist Program

This is such an easy way to help a cause in your community without having to even leave your home or spend a dime! I chose to vote for "A Place 4 Us," an organization in my homestate of Maryland that helps children who have suffered from abuse, neglect and/or trauma. Here's how this important charity plans to use the $25,000 should they place in the top 40:

"The $25, 000 will address the need because it will provide A Place 4 Us program leaders and volunteers with the opportunity to not only acquire the basic supplies (sports and art supplies/equipment, educational supplies, stuffed animals, books and additional supplies) that the program needs, but it will also allow for the acquiring of 1-3 skill professionals to work in the program. In addition, the money received will assist One Love 4 Kids, Inc in securing a location to house this essential program. Children who have experienced abuse and trauma need empathy, consistency, but most important a place to feel safe. And One Love 4 Kids, Inc. A Place 4 us program wants to create this safe place for children for many years so that they may continue on their healing journey. Therefore, it is vital for the program to secure funding which will also assist in securing a location that the program can be housed in for a long, long time.
"A Place 4 Us will have a lasting impact on the children, families and community being served. Reason being, although the focus of A Place 4 Us is on providing direct support to children who have experienced, trauma, abuse and neglect, it is common knowledge that children are best understood in the context of their families, schools and communities. As a result, A Place 4 Us program leaders will work diligently and tirelessly to provide resources for parents and caregivers so they can better support their children. In addition, A Place 4 Us program leaders will work with local schools, other agencies serving children and families and county government agencies to ensure that programs are in place to prevent future child abuse. Thus, A Place 4 Us will be a fixture in the lives of children being served and in the community for many years to come."
Check out this heart-warming video of a previous grant recipient from the State Farm Neighborhood Assist program- Extreme Recess by Dreams for Kids:

How wonderful would it feel to know that YOU helped make such a difference in your community, just by placing a vote? It's free, quick and easy, and the rewards will have a profound impact on your community.

Take a look at what organizations are in the top 200 and place your vote here. Did you know that the difference between the charities that placed 40th and 41st last year were just 62 votes? Your vote definitely counts and could make all the difference! You can even vote from your mobile phone. As shown in the infographic below, 35% of votes from last year's initiative came from a mobile device (click to enlarge photo):


You have until May 16 to vote for your favorite cause/causes and you can vote up to ten times each day, so head over to the State Farm Neighborhood Assist Facebook app and help keep communities strong by voting now!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Wen Hair Care by Chaz Dean Review and Giveway

Disclosure: I received a complimentary Wen Hair Care kit to facilitate this review, as well as a second kit to giveaway. As always, opinions are all my own and are not influenced by comp products.

Being the "Blonde Blogger" for several years now, my hair has been a big part of my online identity. So taking care of my hair is very important to me. Until I had the opportunity to review Wen Hair Care by Chaz Dean, though, I was always battling to keep my hair healthy and moisturized.

I was actually born with red hair that turned blonde around the age of 3 and it stayed blonde into my twenties. Now I need a little help to keep my locks golden, which means keeping my hair from being dry and frizzy was always big challenge.

I have tried so many different shampoos, conditioners, moisturizers, leave-in conditioners, etc. but my hair always tended to be over-dry and straw-like, especially after coloring. I kept hearing rave reviews online about Wen Hair Care and wondered if it could be the product that would finally make a difference in my hair.

Here's a description of Wen directly from

"WEN by Chaz Dean® cleanses with astringent and antibacterial properties without lathering; it adds sheen, luster, moisture, strength and manageability to the hair. Color lasts much longer and it stimulates the scalp promoting blood circulation, stopping hair loss and promoting healthy hair growth. WEN by Chaz Dean® is formulated with the perfect balance of ingredients for all hair types and performs amazingly well on ethnic hair, due to its moisture content. Try the WEN by Chaz Dean® cleansing conditioners and styling products and notice the instant results, giving your hair the love it deserves. WEN by Chaz Dean® cleansing conditioners were created with herbs and natural ingredients, not only cleansing your scalp and hair, but also moisturizing, soothing, strengthening and adding sheen. WEN by Chaz Dean® is designed to eliminate shampoo and its harsh and damaging effects, without sacrificing the integrity and beauty of your hair. WEN by Chaz Dean® is the only cleanser/conditioner you will need to use in your daily routine, and can be used as often as necessary. Enjoy your WEN® and see your hair and its texture change instantly."

Thanks to the kind people at Guthy Renker, I was sent a review kit of fabulous Wen Hair Care products by Chaz Dean that has changed my hair's health profoundly. The kit included:

My Wen Hair Care Review Kit

You can see how my hair looked before using Wen in my preview video:

After just one use of Wen's Cleansing Conditioner in Sweet Almond Mint, I noticed a visible difference in the health, moisture and vitality of my hair. Though I had heard so many rave reviews about Wen, I was still stunned that just one wash could make such a huge difference.

I didn't even need to style my hair for once. I let it air dry, tousled it with my hands a bit and was done! Wen gave me so much natural body, shine and moisture that I didn't need my usual leave-in conditioners that never really did much for my hair anyway. (I did use a tiny bit of the Wen Styling Cream, however I've since used the Cleansing Conditioner on its own and my hair is just as fabulous. The Styling Cream just gives my hair a bit of extra bounce and shine).

Here's what my hair looked like the next day after using Wen the night before:

Never before have I been able to just wake up, comb my hair and go! I love that I can wash my hair at night now and not have to worry about it looking greasy or having to spend a lot of time styling it the next day. And as I mentioned in my video, I'm blessed enough to have a husband who plays with my hair at night as we fall asleep. He noticed a huge difference as well and remarked on how soft it felt.

I sometimes still curl my ends, but I don't see the heavy damage that I used to see after doing so. Here is my hair curled after washing with Wen three times:

My curls have bounce and softness that I've never been able to achieve before Wen!

I was so hooked on Wen from the start that I knew I would never go back to regular shampoos and conditioners ever again. I found a great special on a Wen set on QVC and jumped on the opportunity immediately (keep an eye on QVC for upcoming Wen shows and specials, especially their rare Wen TSV deal which is what I got). I love the Sweet Almond Mint so much that I chose that formula for my new set:

The set I purchased includes:

I'm SO happy that this set included SixThirteen because I had not heard of it before and wouldn't have known to try it. Chaz Dean calls it "Wen on steroids" and he's not kidding! I didn't think my hair could be any more healthy or moisturized but SixThirteen gave my hair's health an even bigger boost.

I now regularly mix SixThirteen with my Sweet Almond Mint Cleansing Conditioner with each wash. I highly recommend trying both a regular Wen formula along with the SixThirteen. Adding the SixThirteen into your regular formula will stretch out the time before you need to replenish your Wen products and it will give you moisture beyond anything you can imagine!

I also think it's super sweet how the SixThirteen line got its name. It's the birth date of Chaz's mother as well as the day a special friend of his, a homeless woman by the name of Spirit, who officially became part of his family when he purchased the property she had been living on. Chaz's kind heart and love of people and animals make me even more proud to be a Wen Girl!

Now that I've been using Wen regularly, I find that I can go longer in between washings without my hair getting too heavy or dirty feeling. This picture was taken after four days of not washing my hair:

Wen keeps my hair fresher and cleaner between washings.

Even my husband is a fan and he's bald! Wen is so natural and moisturizing that it can be used as a body wash and/or shaving cream. My husband uses it to shave and I can always tell if he uses his old shaving cream. His skin is visibly dry with shaving cream. With Wen, his whole head and face is as soft as a baby and there is no flaking or dryness whatsoever.

My gorgeous Wen Man with his soft and smooth skin!

There is a slight learning curve to using Wen since it's not like regular shampoo or conditioner (watch Wen's instructional videos on YouTube or on for great tips). But it's easy to get the hang of it very quickly and your hair will thank you for it! Here are my tips for getting the most out of Wen:

  • Be aware that the different Wen formulas (Sweet Almond Mint, Pomegranate, Lavender, etc.) are designed for different hair types. Sweet Almond Mint and Pomegranate are universal and can be used on all hair types but the other formulas are specifically designed for various needs, so be sure to read the description on the formula you choose before buying. You can see a description of every formula and its purpose here.
  • The Cleansing Conditioner is just that...a cleansing conditioner. Don't be afraid to use too much or to put it on the top of your hair. A lot of people mistakenly think that Wen is just a conditioner and they'll use it sparingly on the top and more on the ends, leading to greasy, heavy, unclean hair. The more you use the better!
  • I have long, thick hair so I use about 6-8 pumps of the Sweet Almond Mint and 2-3 pumps of the Six Thirteen on my first wash and then I repeat again with the same amount of pumps for a second cleanse.
  • Apply, rinse and repeat! I always use two applications, making sure the Cleansing Conditioner is applied evenly and heavily all throughout my hair. I wash the first application out immediately, then leave the second one in until the end of my shower.
  • I use one pump of the Sweet Almond Mint as a leave-in conditioner just before towel-drying my hair.
  • Don't let the price scare you! Wen replaces so many other products...shampoo, conditioner, leave-in conditioner, moisturizing sprays, etc. and it holds color longer, making your salon trips less frequent. Being able to go longer in between washings will also save you money. In the end, you may end up spending slightly more, but it's totally worth it!

I cover these tips and more in my final Vlog review:

Now that I've been using Wen for several weeks, I continue to see such a vast change in the overall health of my hair and I couldn't be more happy with it. I am definitely a lifelong Wen girl now!

I've tried all of the other Wen products in my two kits and love them all! I highly recommend that if you switch to Wen, you stay within the Wen family of products for the best results.

My favorite is the Replenishing Mist. If you've slept on your hair after washing, or just want to refresh your look, just spritz and comb through or massage it in with your fingers and your hair will be so invigorated!

I love the Re Moist Intensive Hair Treatment as a once-a-week mask that adds even more shine and moisture. The Styling Cream is great for adding volume, but note that you will need to wash a little more often if you use it. Same with the Texture Balm which I will sometimes apply to my bangs to give them some separation and lift.

After several weeks of using Wen, my hair is amazingly healthy, shiny and soft!

To purchase Wen through an authorized dealer online, visit or Sephora.

Wish you could try out the same kit that I did? One lucky reader will be chosen at random to win a Wen kit just like the one that was sent to me for my review! The kit includes a 12-oz. bottle of Cleansing Conditioner, 0.35 net weight Texture Balm, 2 oz. Styling Cream, and 2 oz. Re Moist Intensive Hair Treatment, all in Sweet Almond Mint as well as a comb and pump!

To enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment on this post stating why you'd like to win, then follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter widget below to complete your entry. Both methods...commenting and entering via Rafflecopter, MUST be completed for your entry to be counted. There are bonus methods for entry as stated on the Rafflecopter widget as well.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Entry deadline is 11:59 pm on May 15, 2014. By entering, you automatically agree to all the rules and disclaimers listed here. Please also see my disclosure policy here. Good luck!
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