Shopping – Amazon Prime Wardrobe

So the results are in for the second box from Amazon! Keep in mind that my first box (posted about here) did not go so well even though I was able to review the items before they shipped! Nothing had fit properly and the pictures versus the actual items were not quite the same. So box 1 was a flop but I had high hopes for box 2.

Now of these items, and I think you can see it on my face or in my posture, some were MAJOR flops while others were a success! Let’s break it down by each article of clothing and I will include the link below to the item along with the Amazon photo.

Nanette Nanette Lepore Women’s Ankle Slim Leg Pants (Colonel Mustard) – Retail: $72.45, Prime Wardrobe: $66.67
These pants were an adorable color for fall! I was so excited to get these because I am always looking for great office attire that is in trend with the season. But when I put these on… Yikes. These did not fit me, even though I ordered up a size (normally size 6, ordered size 8) because they are “slim” and I wanted a little extra room. If you look at the stock photo on Amazon (found here), the pants appear to fit a little loose. Yet in reality, they did not. They also did not have any give to them so it showed way too tight around my backside. The length was cute and was surprisingly still ankle length even on me (I almost always have to buy “long” so they fit regularly). I paired this with a plain black t-shirt from Kohl’s and black sandals from Payless (le sigh).
Final answer: Returned.

Nine West Women’s Sleeveless Blouse (Tangerine) – Retail: $Currently Unavailable, Prime Wardrobe: $49.28
This blouse is another color favorite! I was so surprised at how bright it was without being full neon. Pairing with a pair of plain black slacks from Chico’s, I thought the blouse was cute but it did not do me any favors. It did zip up in the back and was a stretchy material. However, the peplum cut just did not fall in the right places. It was short and if I bent over or raised my arms, my midriff would definitely be exposed. Also, it had a weird seam that from the front, made me look busty but from the side, I looked like I reverted back to my teenage years. You can find the Amazon product here.
Final answer: Returned.

Sharagano Women’s Pleated Maxi Dress (Yellow) – Retail: $54.99, Prime Wardrobe: $66.85
This maxi dress (found here on Amazon) is definitely office-appropriate attire while still being elegant. It is very flowy and the pleats give it a very polished look. It zips in the back and has a fabric tie to help cinch the waist. It has a high neckline so you can always dress it up with your favorite draped necklace. It had a liner on the inside so the see-through material was not as see-through, though you would definitely have to wear nude undergarments. Just the right length for heels, and could easily transition to a summer wedding or date night. But I didn’t feel comfortable. The pleats in the bust area were stretched (and I am by no means busty) and it looked like I was a little stuffed – though I wasn’t…in fact I had room! I really wanted to like this dress!
Final answer: Returned.

Calvin Klein Women’s Sleeveless Midi with Asymmetric Hem Dress (Hibiscus Multi) – Retail: $120.27, Prime Wardrobe: $46.42
Pink? Seriously? I am not a fan of pink – in fact, I avoid it like the plague. So right off the bat, I was not a fan of this dress (found on Amazon here), but I figured what the heck – let me get out of my comfort zone. It is a zip closure, with an eyelet hook. The dress is an A-line cut with an asymmetric bottom, though it is hard to see it once the dress is on. Made of polyester and spandex, this is not the most breathable dress but it does have a lot of give, making it one of the more forgiving cuts. There is black & orange color blocking that breaks up the very bright pink.
Final answer: Purchased!

Of the four items above, I cannot believe that the pink dress was the keeper! And in fact, I just wore it for a large presentation this past week and felt super comfortable and elegant – which is particularly great when you have to get ready in less than an hour and you’re awake with the sun! I even received a couple of compliments from my peers!

So am I going to go for box 3? Yes. I will give it another try because scientifically speaking, 1 out of 2 is not statistically significant… Okay. Okay. But seriously, I am going to give Prime Wardrobe one more try before deciding to keep this going to help refresh my closet or end it for a different approach.

With Amazon Prime Wardrobe, I do get to see the items selected for me beforehand and can make some swaps. I also get one week to try the clothes on in the comfort of my own home before I have to ship some, or all, of the clothing back. Shipping is indeed free in both directions and Amazon gives you the return label outright so you don’t have to worry about printing and all that. Also, there is a small “styling charge” that is not applied to your order afterwards – the charge is $4.99 and is non-refundable even if you don’t purchase anything.

As a side note, I have also subscribed to StichFix to see about this subscription service. This is a bit more pricey than Amazon Wardrobe but I wanted to present options! I will post an update as soon as I get my first box – especially since I have no idea what to expect!!

So inquiring minds want to know… Have you tried a clothing subscription service? Which one? Did you like it or did you revert back to standard shopping? If you haven’t tried these services, what is your biggest hesitation?

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Health: Protein Powder Supplements

In order to maintain a healthy weight and still allow my body enough nutrients, I have been turning to protein powders to fill some of my dietary gaps. Many of you know that I have opted to having a healthy, homemade smoothie every weekday that usually supplements my breakfast and lunch. So how do I get one little smoothie to actually fill me up that much that I’m not order GrubHub every day? Protein.

Now by protein I don’t necessarily mean straight out fish or eggs or meat or diary but rather a supplement powder that can be added to the cocktail of fruits and vegetables. I am sure you have seen a wide variety of protein powders on the shelves of your local grocery store, but are they all created equal? Simply put, no.

So I want to break down the different types of protein powders available which are the foundation of the supplement, regardless of whatever name is on the label. Some supplements are good for vegans while others are meant to help you gain muscle mass. So which is which? Keep reading!

1) Whey Protein – this is originally derived from milk and is the leading type of protein that is used in supplemental shakes. It is often sold in a powder form and is believed to enhance the immune system. It is also the least expensive type of protein powder and is often enhanced to have better taste by the introduction of flavorings like chocolate or coffee or vanilla. Whey protein also comes in two varieties:

  • a) Whey Concentrate
  • b) Whey Isolate

Yep, so you get twice as confused when you head over to your nutrition store or order online. The main difference between the two? Whey concentrate, like the name states, is concentrated so it is less expensive and has a lower dose of lactose. On the other hand, Whey Isolate has almost no fat and typically has little to no lactose.

2) Casein or Milk Protein – Yep, so this is not to be confused with whey protein which is also a milk derivative (whey and casein actually make up whole milk on a 20:80 ratio). Casein, unlike whey, is slowly absorbed by the body releasing amino acids more steadily. This form of protein has been noted by researchers to be the better option for those that are active while whey is more aligned with stimulating protein synthesis during periods of rest.

3) Egg White Protein – So the name gives it away, but this protein is the old time go-to for protein supplement. Though the taste is gross in comparison to the flavor-enhanced whey and casein proteins, egg white protein has the same low levels of fat and carbs. So perhaps this is an option if you must stay away from dairy.

4) Plant Protein – Instead of listing out each one, this cumulative “plant protein” concept includes protein from plants like soy, rice, or pea. Vegetarian or Vegan? This is the option that is selected most by people that cannot have dairy or are staying away from animal products. They provide the same amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants as their competitors. However, these also provide their plant-benefits so for example, soy protein also has isoflavones which provides added antioxidants and has heart benefits. Typically these are more expensive than their milk counterparts but are easily found at any store.

5) Beef Protein – Saved for last as it is most commonly used by bodybuilders, as is beef in general. Beef protein, as the name suggests, is derived from beef but is also sorted down to remove high levels of fat and cholesterol while also introducing a flavoring like chocolate or vanilla. In addition to the protein benefit, this protein also offers creatine (which is an organic acid that provides energy to the cells of the body, specifically muscle).

So that’s the list but what does it mean and do you need added protein in your diet? Since most of us are not athletes or body building, please keep in mind that I am speaking to and for average consumers. That means that the following are reasons why the average person is suggested to consume that protein concoction:

  1. You’re not done growing – You are a teenager whose body needs protein as fuel for your muscles to continue to grow.
  2. You’re not done growing – You are an adult that is looking to grow more muscle mass.
  3. You’re not done growing – You have decided that running on the treadmill is not enough and you want to participate in a marathon or started HIIT workouts. Amped up workouts, or workouts that are beyond one’s normal regimen, would require additional fuel in the form of protein.
  4. You’re done growing but you got hurt – Protein feeds your muscles and helps them heal so if you’re in recovery, protein helps the healing process. This is also why it is often recommended to have protein after a workout.
  5. You’re vegan – Nothing wrong with this lifestyle, but there are certain minerals and vitamins that are not readily obtainable if you gave up all meat and animal products, so you need to supplement your diet.

So back to the original question… Do you need protein? Yes. Do you need protein to lose weight? Not really. Do you need to shell out big bucks or jump on various company bandwagons to get protein? Nope. Will I continue to consume my daily protein shake which consists of a variety of the ones listed above? Yep!

Again, protein is for your muscles and even lean muscle needs fuel, but if you are looking to tone or drop a few pounds, you could probably get away with just introducing some more fish or nuts to your diet. Now, if you are trying to increase muscle mass or have changed up your routine altogether, then yes, please invest in the right protein supplement for you.


Shaw, G. (n.d.). Protein Powder: What You Should Know. Retrieved January 11, 2016, from http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/lifestyle-guide-11/protein-powder

Taylor, M. G. (n.d.). Choosing a Protein Powder - Nutrition Express Articles. Retrieved January 11, 2016, from http://www.nutritionexpress.com:9080/article+index/authors/mark+g+taylor+ms/showarticle.aspx?articleid=896

Volek, J. S. (n.d.). Whey vs Casein: Which one best maintains muscle mass? Retrieved January 11, 2016, from http://www.nutritionexpress.com:9080/article+index/authors/jeff+s+volek+phd+rd/showarticle.aspx?articleid=1082

Shopping at Local Businesses – Clothing

I have something I need to confess. I hate shopping. Not for food or skincare but retail
I remember growing up in New Jersey, shopping was a past time, a sport if you will. If you weren’t in school or at work, you were shopping. If you lived in Bergen County (Go Maroons!), you went out of the area on Sundays to shop. Honestly most of the jobs for the teenagers and young adults were, yeah, you guessed it, in retail (hence more shopping). I mean, you know you are in New Jersey when you are able to easily access not 1, not 2, but at least 4 malls within a 30mi radius. Plus the lack of sales tax on clothing…yeah that was a bonus.
So for me, I avoid shopping for clothes or shoes like the plague. No, really! I have to mentally prepare myself and caffeinate heavily while repeating calming mantras in my head (sometimes aloud too if it is close to the holidays). If I can shop online, I do it without thinking twice; but sadly I have to try on most clothes because I literally can go from a size 4 in one item to a size 10 in a different clothing line. And if I shopped online without knowing it fits – the return process is almost always worse than the shopping experience! So I default to my brick and mortar stores to try on clothes (which is just as difficult as a 1-hour workout at the gym), avoid salespeople (hooray “introvertedness”) and stand in lines for 15 minutes only to choke when they ring up the items for a grand total of way more than I had mentally calculated before entering the store. No? Just me? Okay, cool.

But sometimes, and usually when I am really desperate, I have to go shopping. When I say desperate, I mean that I cannot literally wear those pants one more time without being sent home from work due to inappropriate attire… And if I can be completely honest, sometimes I find myself wanting something new because I feel “less than” in my current wardrobe items, especially since I strive to minimize my closet. I don’t know why exactly but that little rush of finding the perfect sweater or the right fitting jeans (ha…I can dream)…that little rush really helps me reinvigorate myself to keep my chin up and my workout schedule consistent.

So when one of my friends ranted and raved about a local business, I did some very typical social media sleuthing. Ladies, and gentlemen, if you ever find yourself in Fresno, California, please swing by:

Google Maps Generator by embedgooglemap.net

1755 Broadway Street, #105, Fresno, California

Or you can check them out on Instagram: The Shop at KLSD.
Or you can shop some of their products them online too!!

This boutique is new but it is so fresh. Though there are not hundreds of items, the selection is handpicked and signature pieces you won’t find in that big box store. You even get to talk with the owner which is frankly not a lost art on some of us. You are never pressured to buy items, you are not followed around the store, and you can try on just about everything before you purchase it! So naturally what happened?? I bought two items! And of course they are totally not appropriate for 100+ degree temperatures but I like to think this is my way of thinking for my future self and planning ahead…

I am so happy that I found this gem of a store! I will certainly be back!

So inquiring minds want to know… What have you seen for the fall season in terms of fashion? Going to jump on the trends or stick with classics? Do you love to shop or shop only when needed? Comment below!

5 Tips for a Healthy Relationship

Let me start off by saying that I am not an expert. I do not have a certification in relationships or marriage counseling or social work or even psychology (though I did minor in it). And I also have to admit to you that the title of this post changed at least five times… I hope that these are helpful tips that maybe you already knew and overlooked once or twice or maybe they are ones you overlooked altogether…

I have been married for almost 2.5 years (and counting) to a wonderful and patient man, though we have been together since 2007 (whoa). I have been in relationships in the past – some great, some toxic, some long and some short. But from all of them, including my marriage, I have learned a lot of lessons about myself and about what I want from a relationship. I have learned what promotes a healthy relationship and what are indicators of one on a downward slope. So I want to share my two cents, if you will, on the top five things that have helped me maintain a healthy relationship with my husband and continue to grow in love.

  1. COMMUNICATION – It might go without saying but having an open line of communication is fundamental in a relationship -regardless of if the relationship is romantic or platonic. And communication goes two ways. One of the things that my husband and I do every…single…day is we dedicate 10-15 minutes to talk -uninterrupted and without technology. Typically we do this when having dinner but other times it is on our way in the door, or when we are cooking, or getting ready to head to the gym… We always ask about the other person’s day and not just listen, but hear. And if something is really bothering me, I let him know right off the bat and he respects my decision to not talk about it outright and we move on. We also are not afraid to say “I love you” too often. It may sound morbid but you never know when that may be a last time so reminding that person that you love them, even if you said it 20 times before, never gets old. But if you don’t communicate and carry a grudge, silence will speak for you and it is never your ally.
  2. SAY “PLEASE” or “THANK YOU” – These may seem foolish but you were taught to say your “P’s” and “Q’s” for a reason. Think about that time that you held the door open for someone behind you and they just waltzed in without acknowledging you. How did that make you feel? Now if you’re from NJ like I am, you almost most definitely said something but that’s besides the point…So the same goes for your significant other. If she did the dishes and normally hates it, or he sets the coffee, or they heated up dinner, or he did the laundry -saying “thank you” may not seem like much but you are acknowledging that person and their actions. 
  3. JUST BECAUSE – This topic can be all encompassing really but don’t wait for a specific day or time or event to do something for your significant other. Sometimes getting a card to say “I love you” just because or giving them a peck on the cheek or holding their hand or coming home with their favorite dessert or going out to eat… All of those random moments add up and show them that you don’t need a holiday or important date to celebrate your love for them.
  4. THE LITTLE THINGS – Coupled with number 3 most often, doing those little things can surmount a grand gesture any day. For example, my husband usually packs our lunches and every so often I get a little surprise note from him -sometimes inspirational and sometimes silly but he still makes it a point to just do a little something (little does he know that I have a stack of all of them saved because sometimes you just have one of those days and need a little extra love). Or how about taking the dogs out and letting them get 10 extra minutes of sleep. Or how about playing their favorite song. Or texting them at 1:24pm because you missed them and wanted to say hello. Or getting them a little trinket that you saw and made you think of them… Those little things are nuggets that we carry around with us and remind us how much we are loved.
  5. RESPECT & EQUALITY – I grouped these two items together because you cannot simply have one without the other. You are with that person for a reason and if you cannot fully respect them and treat them as an equal, then turbulence is just ahead. Take my relationship as an example – my husband is well educated in technology and psychology while I like to think I have a strong foundation in science and literature but just because we are not both equal in the same realms, doesn’t mean we are not equal overall. I respect my husband on his opinions and his beliefs while he respects mine. He acknowledges my side of the situation, even when he disagrees. We also acknowledge our weaknesses and help each other whenever we can. Our goal is to lift each other up, not to stand on top alone.

There are so many other tips for a health relationship and this is just the beginning of this series! Though this post is mostly about a romantic relationship, most of these can be used interchangeably with friends, colleagues, and family. A random text or a phone call can go a long way. A simple gesture can bring someone back from the edge. 

Inquiring minds want to know… what recommendations do you have for a healthy relationship? What have you done to foster a health relationship, even if it wasn’t a romantic one??

Healthy Home

So one of the steps I have looked at for my health journey is looking at the products I use in my home. Is that air freshener really good for me? Is there a better alternative to clean my furniture? Could there be a better way to organize my pantry items? How can I feel safer in my home and protect my family? I live in an apartment – how could I make improvements to save money every month?

Below are some items and techniques that I added to my home the past few months, have tested, and could not live without! Some were investments, some were quick fixes, but overall they all took my place from an apartment to my home.

Disclaimer: Some of the links below are affiliate links. While this does not impact your experience or cost with the product, if you purchase through my link, I do receive a small percentage. This allows me to continue bringing you original content and testing out new products. Photos are stock from the retailer’s website – they are not mine.

The first place I wanted to look for a healthier alternative is in the laundry. We all know this is one of the areas we neglect – mostly because we never quite seem to get around to the folding part. But after finding out just how bad those dryer sheets are for the skin, and how they actually repel water (which is the opposite of what you want your towels to do), I made the switch to these wool dryer balls. I bought the six-pack for cost effectiveness but also to give me options. I say options because I get to use my essential oils and customize my laundry scent. For example, lavender for my sheets and tangerine for my towels! They remove static and help reduce drying time because they are wool. They are reusable so one order from a year ago is still going!

This one is a double benefit because it is environmentally friendly and a cost saver! I bought these toilet tank bags in 2018 when I wanted to find a good way to start saving water (we have to pay for water every month) because I know that every flush is an exorbitant amount of water wasted. You’re literally flushing money down the toilet. I bought these tank bags, filled them with water, and placed them in the tank. That day, the amount of water expelled was significant which has reduced our water bill every month. And the best part is that they are holding up great even in the hard water. They are filled with water so they are reusable and conveniently clip to the side of the tank – never obstructing anything inside!

Though new to the house, this is something that I am not quite sure how I lived without! This is the Mealthy CrispLid for pressure cookers (like my instant pot). This is essentially an air fryer but without the need of buying an additional gadget. This allows us to enjoy our not so healthy foods in a much healthier way. We have already made “fried” chicken, french fries, tater tots, and a few other items! If you have an Instant Pot, or a pressure cooker of any kind, I highly recommend getting this!

I have these in BOTH of my crisper drawers and I am so glad I took the plunge to test these out. These are OXO Good Grips GreenSaver Standing Crisper Drawer Insert (2 Pack) and they are amazing little gadgets! So what are these? They are pyramid shaped containers that house enhanced carbon filters which absorb ethylene gas to keep produce fresh longer. And they really work! They will not keep the cucumber crisp for weeks but definitely a lot longer than without. In fact, I was able to get my lettuce to last 4 days longer having this than without them. And they are reusable so I have the filters auto-delivered every couple of months so I can keep my produce longer!

Back to that laundry conversation from earlier… If you ever do laundry at home and don’t want to throw that expensive sweater in the dryer or those jeans because if they shrink one more fraction of an inch, it’ll be WWIII when you try to put them on again…then you need this foldable laundry drying rack by Amazon Basics. It keeps my clothes from getting damaged in the dryer, reducing drying time, and folds up for easy storage!

I have two of these air purifiers by aer -one in each bedroom. They are compact, relatively noiseless and powerful. I even have the filters on auto-ship from Target because of the amount of dust and airborne particles. They have three speeds with the lowest being almost impossible to hear. The filters are easily replaceable and there is a date setting at the top to remind you when you changed and when you need to change the filters. These are great for small rooms, like a bedroom or office.

This compact steamer has been a staple in my home since late 2018 and is used often! I was honestly hesitant to get this because it is plastic but I needed to find an alternative for my husbands’ dress shirts as ironing was not cutting it. I also needed something to help me refresh garments that weren’t quite laundry mat material but not quite fresh either. So I took the plunge and bought this steamer for $25 and am so glad I did! This heats up quickly (within a minute) and the aluminum interior keeps the water hot the entire time you’re using it; the plastic exterior is easy to hold and doesn’t get hot. It even comes with a carrying case so you can take it with you when you travel because you know all those clothes are getting wrinkled in that suitcase!

Each of these products have helped us directly, or indirectly, start making our home a healthier place to live. I really am grateful that I had the opportunity to integrate these pieces into my home and have already purchased some of these several times over for gifts!

Inquiring minds want to know if you have found any household items that you simply cannot live without and how has it helped you? Comment down below!

Hair Health: Hair Loss

I bet you looked at that title and were like…”Uh…those two things don’t go together. She must not have had enough caffeine today.”

While you are most definitely right on the caffeine front (is there ever really enough), today’s topic is about how I have found myself losing my thick, curly hair and what steps I am taking now to try and reverse this! In the past few weeks, due to a few reasons – stress and hormones mostly, my hair has been thinning and shedding in clumps. I am still doing my weekly masques, nightly scalp massages, taking my daily vitamins, exercising and eating well but I have recently found myself in a highly stressful situation and have decided to stop taking birth control pills –double whammy.

So what am I talking about when I say hair loss? I’m talking about excessive shedding and thinning of my hair. Below is a photo outlining what I’m referring to where you can see how much I lost in one wash day and how thin my hairline looks. Yes, I have curly hair so I can hide it well but that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

About two months ago, I noticed my hair was shedding a little more than normal. I attributed that to the heat and stress, but it was normal for my hair to go in phases – in fact a visit to the dermatologist a year ago even cemented that. However, the past month, my hair has been shedding with no end in sight. I dread wash day because of how much will fall out in the shower -at times in clumps. I don’t slick my hair back because it shows just how thin my hair has become. I hesitated every time I had to remove my hair tie because of the clumps that came with it. It may not look too bad in the photos above, but I want to prevent any further damage and try to regain a piece of me. I have never been in this situation before, even when I personally experienced high stress, so I wanted to act fast.

Now I know you already know that stress can cause hair loss. I know you know that an improper diet can cause hair loss. I know you know that medications and surgeries and trauma can cause hair loss. I know you know that hormones can also cause hair loss – hello male pattern baldness. But did you know that you are supposed to lose 100 or so strands of hair a day? And did you know that because curly hair does not wash daily, some of those strands can get knotted into the rest of the hair making wash day look even worse? That is because our hair goes through phases of growth with the shedding phase being known as telophase. Unfortunately that was way more than normal for me which brings me to today.

So after crying for a bit (because I didn’t want to admit that something was wrong), it was time for some research to resolve this issue. I scoured the internet and journals. I started taking prenatal vitamins. I tried to force myself to sleep earlier. I slowed my roll of exercising and did just yoga. And all to no avail. So I decided to start taking Nutrafol.

What is Nutrafol? Nutrafol is a company started by 3 people who were also experiencing hair loss/thinning and could not get the mass marketed solutions to work effectively. They collaborated with physicians and scientists to find a natural alternative to cure this issue plaguing so many people. The results are oral supplements that work with your body to balance hormones gone-awry, reduce over production of cortisol, balance glucose response, or other issues that may be affecting your hair growth.

One of the biggest reasons I took the plunge with Nutrafol is that local dermatologists actually promote this product in addition to their in-house services. Moreover, Nutrafol is transparent with their ingredients – in fact almost all the information from the “Core” supplement (this is the main supplement divvied up by gender) is up on their website for public view! Lastly, the plan you get may be very different than mine because your regimen varies per person! When you first start out with Nutrafol, you take a GrowthPlan assessment and answer a few questions on your environment, your diet, your stress levels, even things you wouldn’t normally think about like if you get hangry if you don’t eat or when you have more energy during the day. 

Yeah, so what I am trying to get at is that starting 2 days ago (Saturday, August 24th), I started taking 4 pills a day with a meal to help my hair grow again! I also am taking 2 of the stress adaptogen every morning but opted to not take the liver support (both of which are a part of my personalized growth plan) due to the high levels of milk thistle and possible interactions with endometriosis. I am scheduled to speak with one of their on-staff physicians in the coming weeks to see about an alternative for the livers support booster.

I will then be checking in every month as each bottle is a 30-day supply to show you the effects that Nutrafol is having with me – or if there is no effect at all! Make sure you follow me on Instagram (@ms_bella_daniela) to get updates as they happen with my hair journey!!

Inquiring minds want to know… Have you tried Nutrafol? Have you tried other growth plans? Comment down below!

A New Take on Groceries

When talking about our home budgeting needs, the one area that always gives us some pause is the “groceries” line item. We have been saving money when it comes to our no spend weeks and our pantry challenges (which is using only what you have in the house for food) which we usually combined! In fact, this past weekend is the first in a month where our fridge is back at capacity!

We are eating healthy, cooking more, and enjoying the time together without interruptions. And yet we are still spending more than we really need to for a household of 2 (humans and 2 pooches).

So we are going to try a little something new and I am bringing you along for the journey! We are taking a new look on groceries and trying HomeChef!

So what is HomeChef? It is a meal delivery service that allows you to customize your meals on your dietary needs (say vegetarian, gluten free, and so on) BUT you are actually the chef. So that means that all the ingredients, including the “dash of pepper” or “sprinkle of salt” is included, along with the main ingredients and the recipe guide. Then you cook the meal. So, if you’re like me and you don’t use much salt in your meals, you can customize your dinner. The best part is that they provide the ingredients per the number of people and the recipe -nothing more. So there is less waste and no science experiments growing in the back of the fridge (c’mon…I know I’m not alone on this one).

Now you are reading this and thinking, didn’t you just say you are being frugal and not spending money? How does that align with ordering meals delivered to your door every week? Well thanks for asking!

We were lucky enough to get a promotion for our first box (slated to arrive Tuesday the 27th and I’ll bring you along for the ride) which only came out to $57.50 for 5 days worth of meals for 2 people. Now I’m not a mathematician by trade but… $57.50 divided by 5 days means that we are eating dinner for $11.50. And if you divide that by 2 … $5.75 per person, per meal, Monday through Friday. Honestly, I’ve spent more at Starbucks on one coffee that I finish in 5 minutes (don’t challenge me on that…I’m a coffee addict and proud).

But lets say we did not get a promotion to try out. The normal box of meals that we are trying is for 5 days and 2 people which equates to an average of $99 (some prices vary depending on the recipes you choose – like scallops would cost more than chicken). That still is only $19.80 per day or $9.90 per person.

That all means that in a month, we will be spending under $400 for varying meals on the most hectic nights of the week!

Now if we just supplement that with fresh, in season, produce from our farmer’s markets like fruit and some vegetables for our smoothies and weekend meals, then we can stay under $500 a month. And that means a monthly savings of over $100 for us! What?! I told you we like to eat! Plus we need to look at the bottom line which includes time spent looking at flyers, comparing prices, and actually going to the stores. And speaking of going to the stores, lets not forget gas!

So now you’re asking me what type of food are we looking at because you know I love to cook and won’t eat just anything… Since I won’t receive my first box till next week, I can only share what my menu is slated to be in no particular order:

Meal 1: Steak with Sauce Robert and spinach scalloped potatoes
Meal 2: Salmon with Dill Crema and green beans amandine
Meal 3: Jalapeño Popper Burgers with chipotle mayo and fries
Meal 4: Umami Miso-Mushroom-Cream Gemelli Pasta with Parmesan & green onions
Meal 5: Chipotle Refried Lentil Flautas with queso fresco & sour cream

I am very interested to see how these are packaged because with the 100+ degree weather we have been having, I don’t want my food to spoil before we get to cook it and eat it!

So tune in this upcoming Tuesday (8/27) as we uncover the world of meal deliveries you have to cook yourself! You may even want to follow me on IG where I’ll do some reviews live!

Preventative Health – Chiropractic Services & Massage Therapy

While taking care of yourself is pivotal on a health journey, sometimes turning to others for help is just as important. This post is regarding the chiropractic services I have been receiving the past few months (since late June), coupled with massage therapy, and my progress thus far.

Let me start by prefacing that chiropractic care is indeed scary. You really need to take the time to find a reputable chiropractor that you can trust. You are literally putting your life in their hands and if you don’t believe me, think about the last time you hurt your neck when you slept on a bad pillow… Now think about a person taking your neck and twisting it (in layman’s terms of course) – one wrong move could lead to serious medical conditions like paralysis. Do your research. Ask around. Go for a consultation and trust your instinct. If you aren’t 100% comfortable, find another provider.

Okay – warning provided. Now let me set the stage for why I sought a chiropractor out in the first place.

Since April/May, I had been having horrendous nights and a constant pain on the left side of my neck to the point that I did not have a full range when turning my head. I was getting more frequent headaches and developed this uncomfortable crick in my neck. Driving was starting to become unsafe because there were days I couldn’t turn my head fully. So after trying heat, ice, SalonPas, IcyHot, and who knows what else, I decided to seek professional care.

I did some research and found a chiropractor that was in-network with my insurance, local, and had amazing hours. In fact, he is operating at a wellness facility so there were multiple services available including massage therapy, cryogenics, and other items. I was also able to schedule a consultation with him on a Saturday which included dedicated time to discuss my issues, x-rays, and a preliminary workup. I left the appointment feeling confident and comfortable.

I go to this facility and I have to say that ALL of the staff is amazing! Thank you for all you do!

When I went back to discuss the outcome of my x-rays and exam, I had some serious though not detrimental issues. The curvature of my neck was non-existent and I was completely straight (thank you ballet classes). My left shoulder was higher than my right. My spine pulled slightly to the right starting that “S” curve. The only good thing was that my hips were straight – guess my hips don’t lie after all. This resulted in a plan of 2 visits per week with a massage and adjustment each visit for 12 weeks.

Fast forward to mid-August and I am nearing the completion of my first round of adjustments and massages (yes, covered by insurance). I feel 80% better with my normal range of motion and significantly less stiffness. The massages work congruently with the adjustments because it helps relieve the tension and fluid build-up which allows the adjustment to be more effective and prevents me from going right back to that awkward position (like a constant state of shrugging). We will be reviewing my curvature once we finish all 12 weeks with another x-ray and plan the long-term care.

So do I recommend chiropractic care? Yes. There may be a lot of hype around preventative care right now with a lot of doctors getting into “prevention” and “public health” over prescriptions and surgery. While I do not believe every claim that chiropractic care has been recently noted to treat/cure, I do believe that it is an improvement on the quality of life. I personally can speak to my reduction of pain, reduced frequency of headaches, better sleep, and better posture. Will I continue to seek care? Yes. This is health journey is not a sprint – I don’t expect to be 100% overnight. Is it for everyone? No, I don’t believe that it is but I think that you should at least get a consultation every so often to prevent long term issue that could arise – especially if you are desk bound!

So tell me – have you ever sought out a chiropractor? When was the last time you had your spine examined? Would you like me to document a visit? Comment below!

Prime Wardrobe – Yay or Nay?

Back in July, I mentioned how I was giving Prime Wardrobe a try. For those of you that do not know what Prime Wardrobe is, it is very similar to these wardrobe subscription boxes that you see through IG or FB, except obviously through Amazon. This is great for those of us that, like me, hate to go shopping but obviously need clothes every now again – you get to try these on before committing to the purchase to make sure it fits and is truly your style!

That has always been a fear of mine when it came to online shopping, if I may be completely honest. The models that are used are just that models so how do I know it is going to look just as good on me as it does on them? Then there is the dreaded computer screen & color – what you see online may not actually be what the product looks like in real life so what if that blue-ish is really purple? Or what if that medium really needs to be a small? I really hate to go shopping in the store for clothes, but I often find myself having to suck it up and go because shopping online for someone with curves is not easy – sometimes the same size in the same brand won’t fit the same! So I wanted to give this Amazon Prime Wardrobe a try and see if it would be a success or not.

You get about 5 items to pick from and a 7-day try on window after your box arrives. That is actually fantastic because we all know that there are some days we are more bloated or sluggish than the next so what fits great today may not fit tomorrow. Also, this is all risk-free so you can return parts or ALL of the items without a charge in the return package that Amazon sends you. Plus, you get to see the box before it ships so if there is one item that is definitely not up your alley, you can swap it out for something else!

I was able to try my first box for free and received quite a few items that my personal shopper selected for me based off of a few questions that I answered. Below are the results of that box…

As you can see, I did return all of these items as they did not fit me well when I tried them on or just didn’t say anything! For example, the Adrianna Papell dress was way too form fitting for my comfort zone to wear to work even though I purchased a larger than normal size. The blouses were fairly standard but the Nine West blouse looked way more purple in person than on the model so when I tried it on, I was washed out and yellow. So overall this box was a “nay” but I haven’t given up all hope…

Recently Amazon has revamped their Amazon Wardrobe where now you have to spend $4.99 for a stylist fee but the types of questions that are asked are FAR better than before which can help your stylist find pieces that are more appropriate for your taste and budget.

I am giving it a try again this month and will share the results with you once I receive my box and will even do a little look book! So stay tuned!

Amazon Favorites – July

It’s the second half of the year and we are turning the corner on holiday shopping!! I know, you did not want to be reminded of that when the temperatures are nearing 100 and the sun doesn’t set till almost 8pm, but it’s true…

In fact, I have already started my savings account for holiday shopping. Using Digit (which I posted about here), I have started a bucket of funds for the holidays specifically so I know how much I can spend and am not hit with a large bill in December/January! I have also started to write my list AND buy some off-season items so I am ahead of the game.

One of the great things about Amazon and the month of July is the famous (or infamous) Amazon Prime Day which became Prime Days this year. It allowed us to buy a couple of the off items that we have been eyeing for ourselves or the house and not spend as much as we normally do. Plus we started our Amazon Gift Card which automatically renews monthly (giving us our spending limit) and adds an additional 2% if you link your checking account.

So with all of that, lets dive into July’s Amazon haul!

Disclaimer: Please note that these photos are the stock photo from Amazon; they are not mine. Also all links are affiliate and if you purchase the item through my link, I do receive a small profit but it does not change the price or experience for you!

After doing some research on shower puffs, or poofs or loofas or whatever you call them, it was apparent that the bacteria that was festering was too much for me! So I wanted a better alternative. I tried hand towels but that just felt awkward, didn’t provide a good lather, and ultimately would be only a slight improvement to the loofah unless you washed it every time you used it. Then I tried just the bar of soap but that was ill-fated. So I found this silicone loofah on Amazon and because of its material, it does not harbor bacterial growth the way that the loofahs do as it rinses clean every time and is not as permeable. I have to say that after using it for almost a month now, I will NOT go back and have already bought one for my mom and husband! It allows the soap to lather well, rinses completely clean, and is soft enough for all areas of the body. The reverse side has harder, exfoliating heads so you can scrub a little better on your arms, legs, what have you. For only $8.99, I think that this silicone loofah is amazing!!

So maybe this is TMI, but since we all go #2, having one of these in the home is so helpful -especially if you share a bathroom with someone! I bought this as a part of the Amazon Prime Day sales. I had tried this in the past but stopped buy them because my husband and I wanted a less floral scent than the original ones. So we tried this one and loved it so much, we signed up for the subscribe and save! We want to have one in each bathroom we, as well as guests, can have their own bottle! It normally is around $10-$12 per individual bottle.

Another item from the Prime Day deals is this back-up battery from Anker. With having so many technological gadgets running on battery and traveling so much, having an extra battery is fundamental. However so many models are big, heavy, and cumbersome to try and cram into a bag with the power cords and adapters. This model is very slim and compact but carries a big charge! It charges quickly and works on Android as well as Apple products – in fact it can charge my iPhone 2x on one charge! It even comes with a carrying bag so it doesn’t get scuffed up and it’s silicone exterior won’t scuff your phone! This is currently $35 dollars but the price has fluctuated. Click here to purchase yours!

I have been wanting to get over-the-ear headphones for over a year now but could not bring myself to shell out hundreds of dollars! So I purchased off-brand headphones that went in your ear for the gym and traveling but it would get annoying especially on a long flight. So when I saw these for 1/2 the price on Amazon during Prime Day, I bought TWO – one for myself and one for my husband. I figured that if they didn’t work, I could return them but if they did, it would be a steal. And thankfully it was! These have a 30+ hour playtime, are noise-canceling, and are super comfortable! I even fell asleep with these on! They are bluetooth but also come with a connection cord if you are on a plane, for example. They are made by COWIN and come in so many great colors! You can use them to listen to music, talk, or just to drown out the surrounding noise. These are the E7 model, which has been recently upgraded, but I honestly don’t need anything other than these! They are great! They are currently $59.99 with a $10 coupon!!

So many of you know that I no longer drink regular dairy milk anymore and have switched almost exclusively to almond milk. While it is delicious, one of the draw backs is that I cannot get those gourmet lattes at home as good as those purchased at those fancy coffee shops (you know who I am talking about). Almond milk just doesn’t foam/froth as well as regular milk so my coffees were always standard and my matcha lattes never had that little extra “oomph”. So when I saw this on sale, I figured it was worth the $10 to try it and worst case, I could save it for the holidays when I make hot cocoa with regular milk for my family or when my husband wants to make coquito – Puerto Rican egg nog (more on that during the holidays). With two AA batteries, I washed this and gave it a go… The results are amazing!!!!!! And clean-up is a breeze. It comes with a stand to prevent damage to the device as well which makes for a nice little display. It also works with eggs and powdered supplements! I can froth my almond milk for my morning coffee in less than 30 seconds!! I honestly don’t know why I didn’t try this sooner. This milk frother by Zulay is currently $14.99 with a $3.00 off coupon.

My husband and I have been working on making some important changes in our home – some of them including green cleaning products while others are healthier alternatives for those overly fragrant aerosols. So I decided to try one of the top rated Amazon diffusers with my doTERRA oils (more on this in a future post) to see if this could truly replace those candles or sprays. I actually took this one to my office to try it before buying one for the home especially since it is only $14.99 (currently with a $2.00 off coupon). This little diffuser is no bigger than the iPhone X but it packs quite the punch! It does light up if you want it to too and can either change colors or stay one color depending on your preference – I personally don’t use the light option in my office. It also has the option for intermittent diffusing -30 seconds on, 30 off or continuous. It has a large enough reservoir that I can have it running for an 8-hour day and I still have some leftover. It evenly dispersing my essential oils and leaves my space fresh and with a hint of cool mist which is essential when living in a very dry climate! I highly recommend the InnoGear diffuser for bedrooms or smaller rooms in your home as it is whisper quiet and has an auto-off feature so when it runs out of water, it turns off! You really should try the Ultrasonic Diffuser!

So I didn’t go completely overboard in July but I definitely purchased more than I had anticipated! These have all been great additions to the home and were items that I was already waiting to buy any way so I did not overly indulge in my splurge Amazon shopping. And of course with Prime these all came in 24 or 48 hours which far beats many other retailers for only shopping!

Have you tried any of these items? What are your thoughts? Anything that you want me to purchase and review for you? Comment below!