tax time


It’s that time of year again.  Forms are arriving and it’s time to get taxes done.  In years past when I jumped around jobs it seemed like taxes were a huge pain.  I thought when I got married they would continue to be because there was double the amount of forms that I had to wait to receive, but this year was such a breeze I almost felt excited to do them.  I suppose I wouldn’t be as excited if I had to pay, but I’m getting a nice little chunk of money back which I can put towards paying off our debt.  Woot woot! I love being able to put that little sum towards making headway on getting out of debt.  And hopefully we will only have one more year of using that money to pay off debt.  For now I feel like I accomplished something great, even if it was just filing tax forms (I especially feel great because it isn’t even January 31 yet and I have them done!).

How do you feel about tax time? Do you dread it or look forward to it?

hello houser, goodbye simple lady

I don’t want anyone to think my blog name will change every month, but when I started this blog out I really was not sure what I wanted to call it.  I wanted something that was unique and identified me well.  For the short time I was “the simple lady”, I still am of course, but I am so much more than that.  It just wasn’t sitting right with me.  So “hello houser” was born.  I really have always wanted a blog that used my name.  It has always been such a huge part of me and even when I was a young person I was always identified as “Sarah Houser”.  I am not a Houser anymore as I took on my husbands name when I got married.  I let go of Houser, but I will always be Sarah Houser.  So stick around.  A change in blog identity is not a change in content.

p.s. This post is going to show as the first post for a while just so that all my followers are aware.  Scroll down for new posts and content.


hello reading


When I was in school I was a huge reader.  I was always reading at least one book, maybe two or three at a time.  But then I became an adult, and I stopped being grammatically correct and I start sentences with “but” even though that is totally and completely wrong.  I have moved away from reading.  I either can’t find something that I like, or I am reading something light, such as memoirs written by my favorite comedians.  This year I would like to shut off my television more, spend less time with my cell phone, and more time doing things that don’t seem like a waste of my time.  I really don’t think there is a better way to do that than to commit to reading more books.

I like to read all sorts of different genres.  As I have gotten older I do seem to prefer nonfiction, but I think that is just because it feeds my craving for some learning.  I live in an area where reading is actually a really big thing.  It’s a college town and a hub of literary awesomeness.  I don’t spend enough time in bookstores around here, although I probably should.

So (yeah I shouldn’t start sentences with that word either) does anyone have some good suggestions?  I don’t like romance (please no Fifty Shades of Gray), fantasy fiction or anything like that (aka I don’t like Twilight or Harry Potter, sorry, nothing against you fans), but if you have read a good novel, autobiography, memoir, historical non-fiction, collection of essays or something really great recently please share in the comments below.

disclaimer: image is not my own please click on image for link to source

Sprezza Box – January Box Review

Sprezza Box is a men’s lifestyle box.  Each month it features a different theme.  There is always a tie and a pair of socks.  There are usually added style accessories.  In the past there have been pocket squares, tie clips, lapel pins, cuff links, a flask, business card holder, and many more things.  The box is $28 a month and usually the tie and socks themselves are worth far more than the cost of the box.  They often run deals on your first box, so if you are interested in a box be sure to google them and see if you can find a coupon code.

The January box is the 4th box Abrham has received.  And up until now I have been really impressed with the items in the box, and there have been many items in the box that Abrham has really liked, even if it was just a little beer passport notebook to keep track of new brews he tries.  The box is titled The Kent. Because it is January I think the company was going for the “New Year, New You” theme.  The box seems to be centered around exercise and healthy living.  As great as that is, other than the socks and tie the items in this months box may not be as useful as things in past boxes.  There might be some people that are completely thrilled with the January box, it just wasn’t really things that fit in with our lifestyle.

Here is the run down on the items Abe got…

Twillory Necktie (retail $69)

This tie is a beautiful wool herringbone tie, definitely Abe’s style and I’m sure he will get good use out of it during these winter months. I could not find a tie similar to it on, it seems that most of their ties are listed at $39 (at least at the time of writing this).  So, I’m not sure on actual retail price for this tie, but it seems to be high quality and even if the tie is only worth $39 it already makes up for the cost of the entire box.


Bedford & Broome Performance Socks (retail $16)

These socks are nice, Abrham really likes getting a new pair of dress socks each month as socks begin to wear out and then he doesn’t end up wearing the same ones over and over again. These are almost an in-between dress sock/athletic sock.  I like that because if it is a day where he changes from dress shoes to tennis shoes he doesn’t really have to change socks.  The material of these is more of a nylon and almost like a compression sock with some added cushion in the toe and heel. I also couldn’t find these exact socks on the company’s website.


Thread Etiquette Anchor Bracelet (retail $27)

I thought Abrham wouldn’t like this, but he is now wearing it and thinks it looks good next to his watch.  This exact bracelet is currently sold out, but there are other options on their website, I really like the leather ones that the company offers.


Smart Req Armband (retail $10)

This is the first item I don’t really see Abrham using, and even I won’t use it.  Abrham isn’t a runner, and for the most part my running days are over.  I prefer barre or mat exercising at home.  So I don’t really need to attach my phone to my arm for music.  And honestly this armband seems really bulky.  So, it will probably go to goodwill, or maybe onto a box item trading site. I couldn’t find the website listed in the detail card either, it doesn’t seem to exist.  The armband just seems cheap, and really this is the first time I have gotten an item from Sprezza that I’m disappointed in.

HyperGo Sports Wipes (retal $2)

This is a sample pack of sport wipes.  I don’t know if Abrham will ever use these or not, but I’ll probably throw them in the car, and there may be some day that he can’t take a shower right after work or something and finds them useful.

SPREZZA Water Bottle (retail $4)

A simple, lightweight, foldable water bottle.  Abrham will probably use it at work.  Not sure how long it will last, but I’m sure Abe will get some use out of it. It is not on the Sprezza box website, but will probably show up next month, as they add things to their store about a month after they are in a box.

The overall value of this box was $146, a good value for a box I paid $28 for. Hopefully next month will be more of a home run like previous months have been.

FabFitFun – Editors Box Review

Okay, so first lifestyle box review. I’m going to get right into it.  The FabFitFun box is a lifestyle box that is delivered seasonally.  It includes full size fitness, beauty, accessories, and lifestyle items.  Items in the box are valued at over $200.

This is my first FFF box and I have to say I am really impressed and happy with what I got and I definitely am looking forward to spring and my first seasonal box. I love that this box comes with full size beauty items, this makes this box totally worth the price. I paid $39.99 for my first box, I got a $10 off code from  Future boxes will be $49.99.


First item…

Modcloth Loch and Key Scarf (list price $34.99, retail price was $24.99 on Modcloth)


I was already the proud owner of two blanket scarves, since I am somewhat of a scarf addict.  It was great to receive another one and it was actually in a color scheme that I do not have.  The black and white is able to go with basically anything and it is super soft.

Next up…

The Created Co. To-Go Coffee Mug (retail $19)


This mug is from The Created Co. It really isn’t anything super fancy, it is made with BPA free plastic.  I use a lot of travel mugs so was happy to have another one, but can’t say I would buy one like this if I were shopping on my own.  I like the fonts though, I’m a push over for a good font.

FabFitFun Coloring Book & Colored Pencils (retail $14)


I haven’t used these yet.  Although I do love having coloring books around for when I have kids at my house, so this one will just get added to my collection.

Manna Kadar Liplocked Priming Gloss Stain (retail $24)

The information card describes this as a 3-in-1 product, a primer, lip gloss, and lip stain all-in-one, plus it adds moisturizing treatment to your lips.  I really like this color, it is fairly close to my natural lip color with a little bit more to it, and once the shine of lipgloss wore off the stain aspect meant I didn’t have to have it with me to reapply.

Marrakesh Argan & Hemp Hair Oil (retail $22.99)


I have been using this hair oil for about two weeks, and let me just say, I am in love.  My winter hair is usually a dried out and frizzy mess.  I have been putting this on damp hair and allowing my hair to air dry.  My hair drys frizz free and shiny, and my second day hair is not weighed down or oily looking.

O.R.G. Skincare Mineral Peel Face (retail $44)


I had actually been wanting to try a product like this after seeing a vlogger review a mineral peel face.  Apparently these are all the rage in Korean beauty.  And once I got the hang of how to actually use it I really really like it.  I have been using it a couple times a week, usually in the morning to clear away the dead skin cells I wake up with. And I love the packaging of it.

Jook & Nona Tag Necklace (retail $65)


I like dainty and simple jewelry, so this bar necklace was right up my alley.  It has the word “dream” stamped into the bar.  The necklace is 18k gold-plated stainless steel.  The necklace did not turn my neck green, so that is definitely a positive, and it was nice length, I think it is 18″ long.

Dermalogica Skin Hydrating Booster (retail $56)


I love Dermalogica products, so I was very happy and impressed to receive one of their products in my box.  I have tried hyaluronic acid items before that were cheap from the drugstore, and I could just not get past the perfume smell. This one is nothing like that, it’s unscented and it works.  I use it around my eyes as they dry out so easily this time of year.  But I could also see adding a little to my tinted moisturizer to add an extra boost of moisture for my whole face. There was also a bonus coupon attached to the box of the product for 20% off and free shipping at which is good through April 1, 2017.  This is really a great coupon as Dermalogica products run on the more expensive side.

Zoya Nail Polish (retail $10)


This nail polish is in the color Rue and is free of Formaldehyde, Formaldehyde Resin, Toluene, Dibutyl Phthalate, and Camphor. I really like the color, it is a pretty pink that almost looks like a nude.  A good neutral color for everyday wear.


Please excuse my sloppy manicure to give an idea of the color, I had freezing cold and chapped hands and I did not prepare my nails for a manicure. I pretty much just put it on and took it off after getting a picture. That said, I liked how smooth the polish was, it was not gloppy going on. And the first coat dried fairly fast, if I had just been patient and taken more time I may have actually end up with a nice manicure.

There was an added coupon in the box for $40 off your first box of Hello Fresh.  I’m likely to not use this item, it is supposed to be claimed within 30 days and I prefer to just grocery shop and come up with my own recipes for now.  Not to say someday down the road I wouldn’t try a food box service to see how it goes.

Overall a great box, value of the items was good, and I will actually use every item in the box which is an added benefit.  I won’t be leaving anything sitting in the cupboard and I was introduced to some new items that I may want to keep around in the future. Value of this box totals at $289.98 (if you take the $10 off that the scarf is actually being sold at it would be $279.98), really I think this is a great value for a box that I paid $39.99 for, even if I paid the full $49.99 I think it would be worth the price. Sometimes it is just about the little luxuries. We are able to live on a budget but get special things as well, my husband gets a Sprezza box each month, and he absolutely loves it.  I will be reviewing his January box soon.

Thanks again for stopping by.


My Beauty Routine – A Homemade Toner

I have always found that home remedies are quite useful. Maybe it is the old fashioned gal in me, but often times the simplest things work. Ever since I was a teenager and had to deal with acne there was a product that always worked, plain and simple, tea tree oil. Yep, and this simple product is a major staple in my beauty routine.  If I get a pimple, tea tree oil, that time I got ringworm (it’s a fungal infection similar to athletes foot, not an actual worm, and if you work with kids it is easy to get) tea tree oil. Tea tree oil is a major cure all in my beauty hand book, it just works.

I recently discovered a new use for this beauty staple. Making my own toner.  For the last 5 years I have pretty much used the same toner, Clinique Acne Solutions Clarifying Lotion (it’s a toner not a lotion) and although I did like this product, it also dried my skin out, which I always thought was okay, since I do have skin on the oily side. But more recently I have learned that breakouts can be caused by not enough moisture. So the alcohol in this product was actually drying my skin out leading to more breakouts, even though it did help a little to clear pimples.

And so I searched and searched and searched to find out what would be better. I discovered FAB Facial Radiance Pads, which I do absolutely love, because there isn’t any alcohol in these I noticed my skin wasn’t dried out after using them. I just started using some other products in the FAB (First Aid Beauty) skincare line and I really do like their products.  This product got me thinking, can I make an alcohol free toner that includes something to treat my pimples, especially after the breakout  I am dealing with after clogging my pores this last week with BB cream (checkout my post on BB creams).

Moving on, I decided to make use of my love of tea tree oil and incorporate this into a toner made at home. First I would need a base, and I found that green tea is an awesome skincare product, it’s possible some of you may have already known this.  So I brewed up a cup of green tea, added about 4 drops of tea tree oil and 3 drops of pure cold pressed argan oil, put it in a bottle and have been using it. My skin doesn’t feel dried out after using it, the argan oil does not clog my pores (there will be a post on this later) but doubles as a moisturizer, and the tea tree oil helps with clearing up my skin.

Here is the toner recipe in case you just scrolled through my post to get to it…


A short note on argan oil, not all of it is created equal. It is best to find 100% argan oil that is cold pressed. Argan oil is high in linoleic acid that helps prevent excess skin cells from building up and clogging pores and it helps balance sebum production. I apply a very small amount of argan oil directly to my dry spots and have not had breakouts from using it.

Coming soon, I will be stepping away from beauty routine posts and posting a subscription box review.


My Beauty Routine – Update – BB creams

As I mentioned in an earlier post my skin has been changing and I have been trying some new things. A product I just tried was the NYX BB Cream, and I thought this was going to be a great product.


 It made my skin look even and clean and clear, other than the little pimples I normally have. But, I have been using it daily for a week, and unfortunately I have slowly started to break out more and more. I did a little research about BB creams and found out that those of us with acne prone skin should probably stay far away from BB creams. Why? Well, even though many of them are oil free or non-comedogenic (spelling?) they can cause us ladies with larger pores, oily and acne prone skin to experience breakouts. The fine texture of these creams can cause us breakouts, and the bad kind, cystic acne, which is exactly what I have been dealing with. So I guess I will be saying goodbye to the BB cream, it was a week long love affair, but it’s over now, I’m breaking up with you BB cream. So I will go back to my tinted moisturizer which was working great for me but is being discontinued by Stila (why? why? why?). I will just have to grab a couple bottles before they completely run out, and then start a new search for a tinted moisturizer that works for me.