Wednesday, August 23, 2017

My Experience With SheIn

** This post contains affiliate links. I make a small commission on purchases made through these links at no additional cost to you. Thanks for supporting Floradise.

Chances are you've seen bloggers on Instagram touting trendy clothing items at insanely low prices and wondered where they bought them from. I have noticed a lot of them are from SheIn. In the past year, I have purchased 11 items from SheIn, the inexpensive-fashion online site. Out of those eight items, I returned two, and I would have returned at least another had I purchased return shipping insurance.

Here's what I bought:

  • Long Sleeve Casual Dress ($8.89): On the site this is described as purple, but it was red. It was perfect for fall, and it was comfortable to wear. On me the dress was a bit long, but I didn't mind. Sadly I ruined this dress by spilling cleaner on it, so I could not longer where it. I decluttered it last year. I loved the neck and I would buy this again if it weren't sold out.
  • Marled Knit Cropped Tie Leggings ($9.99): These felt cheap and were too thin. The tie-back feature was actually kind of awkward on a short person. I donated these.
  • Burgundy Glasses Print T-Shirt ($9.99): I love this shirt and wear it often. It's comfortable and cute! My only issue with it is that the red kind of bled into the white glasses on the front during one of the washes. I still wear it, though. (This is the top in the photo on my website.)
  • Army Green Criss-Cross V Back Tee ($10): I wear this once a week. It's super comfortable and thick material. It's a little long on me but I don't mind that. 

  • Palm Leaf Print Embossed Fit and Flare Dress ($13): I returned this dress because it didn't fit. I ordered a small when I needed a medium, but I also didn't like how thin the material was. It was almost see-through.
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  • Button Closure Back Ruffle Cold-Shoulder Top ($12): I like this top. I have worn it several times. The color is nice. (I actually only paid about 45 cents because I applied the refund from the dress above to the purchase.)
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  • Palm Leaf Plunging Cami Romper ($9): I bought this for our upcoming tropical vacation. I am guilty of wanting to wear leaf print. Sorry, not sorry! The plunging part is a little much for everyday wear but will be fine on the beach. It's also a little thin. It was a bit too tight when I first tried it on but now it zips. If it doesn't fit in December I plan to donate or sell this.
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  • Multicolor Pocket Off-the-Shoulder Romper ($15.49): I absolutely love this romper and wear it often. It's a bit thin, a common theme in my purchases, but I don't mind. I love the colors!
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  • Cut-Out Strappy Shoulder Tee ($9): I wear this often as well, and it is starting to show signs of wear, namely loose threads. 
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  • Black Waterdrop Pendant Lace Choker ($2.99): I liked this choker but I realize as I type this that I haven't worn it in months. It's time to let it go or start wearing it again.
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  • Wrap V Neckline Palm Leaf Print Self Tie Slit Dress ($6): I am not sure who would ever wear this. It looks cute but that slip comes up to your waist almost. It's totally not wearable except as a bathing suit coverup. I am not sure why I even bought this, but I immediately returned it.
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Note: The prices I listed are those that I paid. Prices can change and some of mine were lower because I applied credits I received from reviewing purchases.

My SheIn purchases so far have totaled less than $100. Overall, you get what you pay for. I was pleasantly surprised with a few of my picks, and disappointed in just as many items. The other items were just OK; they were cute but didn't last that long. I recommend getting the $1.99 shipping insurance if you decide to purchase anything so that you can easily return it if it doesn't work. I have had no issues with my return. I simply printed the label, sent it back and the refund was deposited within the week. From there you have to request a withdrawal from your "Wallet" on SheIn, but that was easy to do.

You should know that the sizing is weird. Some items are just listed as one size, while others are in listed in both inches and centimeters. It's hard to know what will fit. Reviews are your best friend with SheIn. Also, if you review you get points that you can redeem on purchases for small discounts on already inexpensive clothing. 

Shipping was hit and miss. Some items arrived quickly while one item in particular took almost a month to arrive. (In that case customer service sent me an email apologizing for the delay and credited my account with points to redeem on future purchases.) Some items were shipped from China, while others seemed to arrive from Europe (though I'm not sure).

Want to shop SheIn? You can get a $5 off purchases of $55 or more with code BTS5 from Sept. 1-Sept. 15. (This is not my discount code.)

Have you shopped at SheIn? What has your experience been?

Monday, August 21, 2017

SkyWheel at Clifton Hill Niagara Falls

After our morning cruise to Niagara Falls, we had a whole day to spend in the area. We wanted to check out the conservatory, but V spotted the SkyWheel from our hotel room and wouldn't stop talking about it, so we wanted her to experience it. Plus, we wanted to see the view of the falls from the top.

We paid $15 to park at Clifton Hill, but we could have paid less across the street. (We don't always make the best decisions on the spot. Ugh.) Tickets to the SkyWheel were reasonable at $11.99 per adult and $6.99 per child. That came out to $24.97 in U.S. dollars. (In comparison, the Navy Pier Centennial Wheel in Chicago is $15 per adult and $12 per child. The Centennial Wheel is taller, though, at nearly 200 feet vs. 175 for the SkyWheel.) You can also buy a fun pass if you're planning to do the other touristy attractions in the area, but we passed on that. Some of the other options were the Zombie Attack and Wild West Coaster, which we were not interested in/were not appropriate for toddlers.

When we arrived, we took a couple of photos of V with the dinosaurs in the mini golf area, and then we spotted a balloon animal artist. Of course we spoiled V with a couple. We visited on a Friday afternoon and only had a short wait in line for the SkyWheel. Because it wasn't too crowded, what we thought would be three rides around turned out to be five. No complaints here!

It was a bit rainy and sprinkles dotted the glass and hindered my photo taking, but we still had a nice view of Niagara Falls and Clifton Hill.

Clifton Hills has tons of quirky attractions, which you'd expect from such a tourist destination. I was surprised to see so many advertisements calling it the honeymoon capital of the world. That's interesting! If you have kids or enjoy Ferris wheels, you might enjoy this. Otherwise, Journey Behind the Falls seemed like a great option for getting another view of the falls. We didn't have a chance to do it but would like to in the future.

After our ride we explored Clifton Hill for a while before heading back to our hotel room for a much-needed nap. 

Have you been to Niagara Falls? Did you ride the SkyWheel?

Friday, August 18, 2017

Niagara Falls: Day and Night Cruises

Hands down the most fun we had on our Canada trip was on the Hornblower cruises to Niagara Falls. Our 3-year-old hasn't stopped talking about it and I know she will not soon forget the memories we made.

I purchased the day and night cruise package, which includes a 40-minute fireworks cruise that started at 9:30 p.m. and a 20-minute Voyage to the Falls day cruise. When I bought the tickets it wasn't clear how I would purchase the package, but all you have to do is pick the date you want for the night cruise and then you can go to any day cruise as well. (They leave about every 15-20 minutes throughout the day.) We decided to go around 9 a.m. to space out the cruises and hopefully avoid huge crowds around the falls. In case you're wondering, Hornblower leaves from the Canada side, while Maid of the Mist is on the U.S. side.

The line moved quickly when we arrived. If you already purchased tickets online, head straight to the walkway and elevators. After you take your photos, you keep walking until you get to the snack bar tent area, where your tickets are scanned. (I just pulled up the barcodes on my phone to avoid printing them out.) Then you continue walking down the ramps and receive your rain ponchos.

FYI: Adult tickets for both the day and night cruises were $55.90 (Canadian; about $43 U.S.). Victoria didn't have to pay because she is under 5 years old, so that's nice! If you just want to do the 20-minute Voyage to the Falls it will cost $25.95 (Canadian; about $20 U.S.).

The closer you move toward the falls, the more drenched you become. It's actually a ton of fun. You can stand anywhere on the boat, and we chose the front. The upper deck area seemed to be a popular spot for most people.

The ponchos don't really do much, to be honest. You will still be soaked but it's fine! You could always bring your own. Also, be sure your phone and camera are secure from water damage.

After our cruise, we headed back to our hotel and explored Clifton Hill before returning around 9 p.m. We figured parking would be difficult to find on this Friday night, and it's expensive near the falls, so we opted for a short taxi ride instead. (Earlier that morning we paid $15 to park for about an hour and a half. Yikes.) Crowds line up early for the evening fireworks, so plan accordingly.

I liked the morning cruise more than the evening cruise, but we did both because V would get a kick out of the fireworks. (Although, the evening cruise had a bar, so decide which is better for you.) You get more wet during the daytime cruises because the boats go closer to the mist. Also, I find the illumination of the falls to be quite gimmicky, but kinda cool, I guess. The entire town is a tourist trap, so just know what you're getting into and have fun!

Check out our videos of the Niagara Falls cruises below and subscribe to my YouTube channel!

Have you done a Niagara Falls cruise? What did you think?

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CN Tower | Toronto

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

A Visit to CN Tower in Toronto

** We received complimentary admission to CN Tower. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate product links. I make a small commission on purchases made through these links at no additional cost to you. Thanks for supporting Floradise!

One of the items on my list for our brief Toronto trip was visiting the CN Tower. For someone who is terrified of heights I sure am obsessed with tall buildings. ...

On our second day in Toronto, we headed to the Harbourfront Centre area to find parking near the tower. We went with a structure on Queens Quay that charged $15 a day. (The garage was also listed on Parking Panda, which I did not use but was listed on the gate.) That allowed us to explore as long as we wanted and it was just a short walk to the tower. We had been advised to arrive early to avoid long lines, and that's the best advice I could ever repeat to anyone planning to visit. We arrived around 10 a.m., but getting there at opening would have been even better. On this particular day the next-door Ripley's Aquarium was experiencing a power outage, so many would-be visitors were instead heading to the tower. Our line wasn't too long at about 30 minutes to get to the elevators. Besides, you are distracted by photo taking and entertainers along the way. (We already had tickets waiting for us, though. If you need to stand in line to buy tickets it will take longer.)

Once you make it into the elevators it's just a short ride to the observation level. From there we went directly to the next elevator to get to the SkyPod, which requires an additional admission charge of $12 per person to access. It's best to go to the SkyPod first if you buy these tickets to avoid crowds as well.

While circling the SkyPod we saw the brave souls who were trying out the EdgeWalk, which like the name implies means you free walk on the edge of the OUTSIDE of the tower. It requires advance reservations and costs about $225. Graham was certainly interested for our next trip; in fact, he wants to plan a vacation to Toronto just to do this. I would never ever ever ever do this, but it was fun to watch others embark on the thrilling adventure.

I was even nervous to walk around the SkyPod, to be honest. But I loved that you can get a 360-degree view of Toronto, an impressive city. It's just SO high, taller than the Sears Tower and the Hancock Building in Chicago. Victoria was not afraid at all, though. She's braver than I'll ever be. We brought her along in an umbrella stroller, which we had no problem getting around in.

Once we got to the glass-floor level we parked it in a corner to get around more easily. By then the tower was becoming a bit more crowded.

Looking down from the glass floor.

Glass floor view.

You can have souvenir photos taken on the glass floor, or do as so many others did and take your own selfies. The photographer has lots of ideas for poses if you want to go that route. One package of the best two photos taken of you was around $30 when we inquired.

You're free to spend as much time as you want upstairs before you can board the elevator to return to ground level. Take your time and soak in the views! Once you're on the first floor you can browse the gift shop or look at and purchase your souvenir arrival photos. We continued our tradition of buying Christmas ornaments from every new place we visit. We also picked up a Canada 150 teddy bear plush for V.

Next to the tower are the Ripley's Aquarium and the Rogers Centre, where the Blue Jays play, in case you're wondering what other attractions are around. It's easy to plan a visit that incorporates all of these activities.

We had such a fun time at the tower and hope to be back someday so Graham could experience the EdgeWalk.

Have you visited the CN Tower? What did you think?

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Monday, August 14, 2017

Cruelty-Free Empties, Vol. 10

** This post contains affiliate links. I make a small commission for purchases made through these links at no additional cost to you. Thanks for supporting Floradise!

While switching to cruelty-free products has been a challenge, it's been fun to try different products and brands. It's also been satisfying to try to use up entire products rather than buy too many of the same product at once. I am trying to be minimalist in my makeup and skin care while still experimenting with new products. My latest round of empties features all fairly affordable products, a couple of which were sent to me to try. The rest are favorites I've recently discovered. This latest roundup shares my thoughts on the products I've used up and whether I would repurchase them.

  • Physicans Formula Butter Bronzer ($14.99): I love the way this smells, but sadly it's too light for me. I would highly recommend this if it works with your skin tone! It lasted me a year! I would repurchase if Physicians Formula made a slightly darker version. Please leave your favorite bronzer recommendations in the comments below!

  • Burt's Bees Beeswax Lip Balm ($3.99): My favorite lip balm ever. I already have backups in my purse.
  • Madam C.J. Walker Brassica Seed Oil (sample size; $26 for full size): I loved the scent of this oil, which I received for free from Influenster for testing purposes months ago. It left my hair silky and smooth. I already have another oil to use up, so I won't be buying this anytime soon, but if you're in the market for oil for your hair, this one was great. 
  • e.l.f. Mint Maniac Lip Exfoliator ($3.90): I used this every night before bed. I haven't had dry, cracking lips in a long time, and this could be why. It has a minty flavor and it's affordable. I would buy the brown sugar one instead because I might like the flavor/scent more. I also heard Lush has a good lip scrub, but I haven't tried it yet.
  • L.A. Girl Pro Coverage Liquid Foundation ($8.99): I loved how good my skin looked in this, but if you're oily it could definitely be too much. I would buy this again, especially in the winter when I want a faux luminous look to my skin. (Update: After using the Milani foundation I bought after this I definitely want to go back to this one sooner.)
  • Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara ($12 for mini): I didn't find this to be as life-changing as people say. I like the bristles, but it wasn't as volumizing as I thought it would be. I plan to buy the full size if I don't like the new one I have. (I am now trying the Essence Lash Princess mascara and I like it so far.)

Note: These prices were accurate at the time this post was written, but they may change and they depend on the retailer you buy from! 

What products have you used up recently? Would you buy them again?

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Monday, August 7, 2017

Warren Dunes State Park | Testing the Drone!

Recently I shared my camping and road trip essentials and prep list in anticipation of our weekend. We had planned to go to Indiana Dunes, but at the last minute we decided to change our destination to Warren Dunes State Park. It reminded us a lot of Nordhouse Dunes, where we camped last summer.

We tested out the DJI Mavic Pro drone for the first time, too! We only have a little bit of footage because the flying time is only 27 minutes, which was longer than most of the other drones we saw available.

About Warren Dunes:

  • It's dog-friendly and the dog areas are clearly marked. They must be on leashes though.
  • Alcoholic beverages are prohibited and rangers/officers patrol the beach, citing anyone who has them.
  • You can rent kayaks and paddleboards!
  • You'll need an umbrella, because there's no shade.
  • Out-of-state residents pay $9 per day or $32 for an annual pass.
  • It's only an hour and a half from Chicago, but it took us more than two hours to get home on Sunday evening.

Watch our video at Warren Dunes!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Air Plant Birdhouse | Clutter Into Art

**This post contains affiliate links. I make a small commission on purchases made through these links at no additional cost to you. Thanks for supporting my blog!

Graham recently brought home a birdhouse that our neighbors didn't want anymore. Great, I thought, more stuff! You know how I feel about excess stuff in my home. (In case you don't: I hate it!) But last week we came up with an idea for what to do with it. He wanted to make it look like the moss little house we bought at the Glenwood Arts Festival last year and I immediately got up, grabbed the reindeer moss we had left from my vertical air plant garden, and started glueing.

Now that I think about it, he was probably trying to trick me into decorating it for him, but that's OK. I actually enjoyed doing it, and it didn't take long at all. You can find a birdhouse to decorate at a crafts store. This triple birdhouse is affordable.

I started by using the purple moss we had left. I found ours at Gethsemane Garden Center in Chicago, aka heaven, but you can also find it online or at a crafts store.

I had some orange left over as well, so I alternated between orange and purple. I used the same glue for air plants as I did for my air plant garden. (E6000 craft glue works, too.) If you have unused plastic flatware from when you order takeout, you can use it to smooth the glue evenly over the surface. (Or use whatever tool you have to do this.) Note: I recommend wearing gloves when working with colored moss because it dyes your fingers. Trust me, I learned this the hard way. It comes off, of course, but still.

Getting the moss in the inner parts of the roof was tricky. I used a plastic knife to smooth glue over it evenly and then pushed pieces of moss on little by little.

When I ran out of moss, we headed back to Gethsemane because it occurred to me that I should get some air plants to put inside all the little doors and windows, plus two on the sides. I used the smallest air plants I could find for the windows, slightly larger ones for the doors and two larger plants on the sides. Play with the placement of the air plants before glueing.

I glued the air plants on first and then found some green moss to put around the bottom of the house, but in hindsight I would have glued that moss on first.

Not counting the time it took us to drive to the garden center, the entire project took me about 25 minutes, if that long. I turned something I viewed as clutter into a part of our little indoor garden, and now I wouldn't dare get rid of it. 

That's something I've been discovering lately about things to declutter. I notice some things I don't really care about and donate or toss, while others just need a little bit of love to be useful and/or beautiful again.

Have you done any crafts or gardening lately? Tell me about it in the comments!

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