Frugal Tips – No Spend Week

Being an adult is hard! The worst part are the bills that come every month and the cost of living that continues to increase despite salaries not being able to keep up.

So in order to combat some of the mundane adulting tasks, the I have decided to start installing some “frugal tips” into day-to-day living. Some tips have helped me save money. Some tips have helped me knock down some debt. Some tips have helped me find some new and exciting adventures. And since they have been fairly beneficial, I wanted to share some of them!


This week’s challenge/tip: No Spend Week


While the title of this week’s tip, and challenge, is pretty obvious, the purpose behind it is to not spend any extra money! This may have been something that has been written about before, normally called “no spend months,” but there were always exceptions – food being one of them.

While that is difficult, I feel that food shopping is one of my vices – I can go to 4 stores on a given day and shop way beyond my list. Hubby and I do eat it all, but that also feeds into the cycle of over-indulgence and our healthy journey.
So, this upcoming week, we will not allow any food shopping as well as no erroneous spending except for health/medications and bills. Anything we normally would have purchased is put “on ice” and can be revisited the following week. That also means that we have to only eat items we already have – think of it as a food clean-up too!
We cannot spend money on anything from Amazon or other retailers, and if the appointment for any personal indulgent item (like my nail appointment) can be moved, it should be!

The challenge starts today: June 17th and ends on Sunday, June 23rd.

The rule: if you were going to spend money on any “fluff”, it has to be deposited into the savings account. That way, at the end of the week, we will calculate how much we saved. That means that if I was going to buy lunch on Tuesday, I would transfer that $8.00 (or whatever the price) to savings instead.

Who is with me!?

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Smoothie Recipes – Weeks 03 & 04

Sorry that week 03 never got its own week of glory! That week was super busy with classes starting up again. But have no fear, this is a two-fer Sunday post with both week 03 and 04!

Now that week 04 is over, we will be starting back at week 01 and making some small improvements and throwing in a curveball or two – especially since I try to use fresh produce whenever possible and the summer months allow for some great variations!

I also want to share that these smoothies are not for someone that is on a low-carb diet. Though predominantly vegetarian and organic, these shakes allow me to essentially have a meal replacement and often times, two meals are replaced because I am simply not hungry. Each shake varies but they are between 280-350 calories. I do sip them throughout the morning, and sometimes into the afternoon, so I do not find myself snacking as much either. Those that are also a part of the “shake club” are getting a daily dose of at least one serving of vegetables and one serving of fruit, though many shakes are upwards of 3 servings. I also shop weekly for my produce with the exception of the powder supplements and any frozen items.

Remember that each shake contains Combat protein, collagen power, Maca powder, and unless otherwise noted (*), Amazing Greens.
Okay, so disclaimer is out – now on to the important stuff!

WEEK 03

Wake-Me Up Monday*
Cacao Powder, Banana, Coffee (straight from the Ninja after cooling), coconut flakes, vanilla extract, and flax. The liquid base is: almond milk

An Apple a Day Tuesday*
Apples, walnuts, oats (soaked from the night prior), cinnamon, spinach, yogurt, and chia. The liquid base is: almond milk.

Green-a-colada Wednesday
Banana, pineapple, coconut, spinach, Greek yogurt, and flax. The liquid base is: water.

Friday Eve Blues
Blueberries, blackberries, tofu, walnuts, flax and Greek yogurt. The liquid base is: coconut water.

Cheesecake Friday*
Strawberries, non-dairy sour cream, honey graham cracker, cinnamon and ice. The liquid base is: almond milk.

The obvious winner of the week was Cheesecake Friday. This was very indulgent and very rich, even though it was low in fats, dairy-free, and surprisingly not high in calories. It genuinely tasted like a cheesecake and even non-“shake club” members thought it was relatively spot on!
The second place winner was An Apple A Day Tuesday as it mimicked an apple pie!


Week 04

Cup ‘O Sunshine Monday
Carrots, banana, Greek yogurt, mango, papaya, and pineapple. The liquid base is: orange juice.

Watermelon Delight
Watermelon, Greek yogurt, lime juice, mint and ice. The liquid base is: coconut water.

Berry Glad It’s Already Wednesday
Blueberries, blackberries, mango, avocado, chia, honey and peanut butter powder (or almond butter). The liquid base is: coconut water.

Power Through Thursday
Mixed greens, apples, cucumber, zucchini, lime juice, banana, ice, turmeric and ginger. The liquid base is water.

Strawberry Shortcake / Peaches & Cream Friday*
Strawberries, vanilla extract, graham cracker, cinnamon, oats (soaked from the night before), almond butter. The liquid base is: almond milk.
Peaches, vanilla extract, graham cracker, cinnamon, oats (soaked from the night before), almond butter. The liquid base is: almond milk.
This day had two variations due to the availability of frozen strawberries. So “shake club” had the strawberry shortcake and Hubby & I had the peaches & cream.

This week’s winner was actually Wednesday’s shake! It had a lot of flavor without being too overpowering. Also, Friday’s shake was the second choice.


I honestly have to say that after 4 weeks of doing these daily shakes, I do not see an end in sight just yet. I enjoy making these and enjoy getting a good jump start to my day. I don’t snack much anymore. I don’t eat as much -even for dinner. I have more energy, less of a crash in the afternoon, and have noticed a difference with my recovery from workouts as well as the length & strength of my hair, skin and nails.

If you think you want to give these a try, please let me know what you think! I am always open to feedback and suggestions. If you have any tried and true recipes, please let me know!

Next week I will be covering my current blender situation – and no, I do not have a Vitamix, as well as which blender is next on my radar since these are becoming a staple in my household.

Smoothie Recipes – Week 02

As promised, though a day late, the smoothies from last week. Despite Monday being Memorial Day, I made it a point to keep up with the 5-day streak! In fact, I used Monday as a test day to see how a recipe I had planned for later in the week would be.

Just as a reminder, please check out Week 1 – Smoothie Recipes for a recap on what protein, collagen, and other ingredients I use in each smoothie. Also, I do not use any MLM products nor do I do any juicing – I want to make sure I get ALL of the nutrients from my smoothies…fiber and all.


Monday (Memorial Day) – Key Lime Pie
Greek Yogurt, Spinach (for color), ice, protein, one whole lime, lime juice, honey, organic graham crackers, collagen, and Maca. The liquid base was water.

Tuesday – “Pick Me Up Tuesday”
Old-fashioned oats, dates, greek yogurt, iced coffee (I used actual coffee I froze in an ice cube tray), collagen, protein powder, Maca, Greens Powder. The liquid base was almond milk.

Wednesday – Key Lime
Repeated Monday’s recipe!

Thursday – “Going Banana Nuts Thursday”
Banana, chia seeds, almond butter, Maca, cinnamon, walnuts, collagen, protein powder. The liquid base was almond milk.

Friday – “Going Choco-Bananas”
Banana, cacao powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, Greens Powder, protein powder, collagen, Maca. The liquid base was almond milk.


The biggest hit this week was “Going Banana Nuts Thursday” by a landslide! Also, key lime came in second though I still want to manipulate that recipe for a future smoothie!

I have also been dabbling in non-dairy yogurt as an option because some of my friends are steering clear of dairy right now. The only issue I have noticed is that non-dairy yogurt is much more watery than regular or Greek yogurt. In order to maintain a smoothie consistency, I have to cut some of the liquid that I use.

I have also started to add some Creatine powder to my husbands’ smoothies because he is deficient, which we found out after some blood work, and he is looking to start building more muscle mass.


Comment below if you are going to try any of these or are interested in learning more! Do you have any recipes or suggestions for me to try?

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Curly Hair 102 – Dangers Lurking in our Products

It seems that in the past couple of years, being natural and embracing ones curls has become the “in” trend. I happen to think that us curly girls were just too darn tired to keep straightening our hair and too broke to keep paying someone else to do it. I know I personally haven’t straightened my hair, personally or professionally, in 7 years.

On top of embracing ones natural state, it seems that being conscientious of the types of products we use is also a part of everyday vocabulary now. We went from using whatever was on sale at the grocery store, to selectively “canceling” brands because of their chemical components.

Recently, I have come to learn that even in our most treasured and talked about lines, there are chemicals lurking that we need to know more about and stay away from if possible. Now, before you go on that soap box and tell me about how some of these chemical compounds already exist naturally and we consume them in other ways, I have to say while you are right, if I can avoid even 1% more of that formaldehyde or other carcinogen, I will.

So without further ado, lets cover the top 8 chemicals that you should avoid when purchasing your next leave-in conditioner, hair gel, or styling cream…

  1. Silicone – This is pretty obvious and I am sure you are tired of hearing about it but just to cover the basics, silicones are found in a lot of different forms. This is a form of plastic and yes, you have heard of silicone breast implants, so why would you put this in your hair? It has some benefits like producing shine and slip (translates to easy to comb through) but it also weighs down your hair and produces a film that prevents other products from helping your hair including water and oxygen.
    Types of silicones: When reading a label, look for a compound that typically ends in “-cone” like dimethicone, methicone, cyclomethicone or sometimes a combo item like: phenyl trimethicone or dimethicone copolyol
  2. Sulfates: So if you have used a silicone, and as I just mentioned, silicones prevent water from penetrating, then you need some even more abrasive -enter sulfates. This is the chemical that is used often in shampoos and creates that lathering and bubbly effect. It works by lifting the cuticle of the hair and stripping it of any product or natural oils which results in long-term dryness, brittleness, and even scalp irritation. You know where else you find sulfates? In your laundry detergent or dishwashing soap. Would you wash your hair with a Tide pod or Dawn?
    Then skip a shampoo that has any variation of sulfates including, but not limited to: sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), sodium lauryl sulfoacetate, sodium cocoyl isoethionate, or
    disodium laureth sulfosuccinate. In other words, look for an ingredient that ends in “-ate”.
  3. Alcohol: I have to say that not all alcohols are bad, but think about the last time that you had a few too many drinks. How did you feel later on that night or the next day? Think beyond the headache to the dehydration. The same thing happens with your hair! Alcohols in hair products will help evaporate the natural oils in your hair leaving it dry and brittle overtime.
    Look for ingredients that end in “-ol” such as: ethanol alcohol, ethyl alcohol, isopropyl alcohol, isopropanol alcohol. Even if the the “alcohol” word is not there, the base of the chemical is still an alcohol compound.
  4. Parabens: This is another hot discussion item but what exactly is a paraben? Parabens are chemicals that are added to extend the shelf life of a product. These are often also linked to cancer and serve as a harmful carcinogen.
    Look for ingredients that end in “-yl” like: methyl, propyl, butyl, or ethyl. These are also often overlooked or regarded as an alcohol.
  5. Urea: I know some of you read that as a bodily secretion of sorts but really it is another form of preservatives, like parabens, that extend the product’s shelf life. These types of chemicals are linked to skin irritation, flakiness, and even dermatitis. Worse yet is when this is aggravated through heat. When these types of chemicals are exposed to heat, which could be as little as your hair dryer when you diffuse, they break down to even more harmful chemicals such as formaldehyde.
    These are often easy to spot on an ingredients list: diazoldinyl urea or imidazolidinyl urea.
  6. Formaldehyde: I know when I first learned that some of my curly hair products had the same thing that is used when a person dies to embalm the body, I knew this was something I had to avoid. Formaldehyde is used for the same purpose as when it is used for a body – preservation. Yet another cheap ingredient like parabens or urea, this chemical has been known to cause cancer, heart palpitations, infections, and many other health conditions.
    You can find this on your ingredient list in many different ways including: formalin, formic aldehyde, methanediol, methanal, or methyl aldehyde.
  7. Mineral Oil: If you are Curly Girl Method (CGM) or even if you have followed me on IG or in earlier posts, you know that oil + curly hair = a great equation! BUT there are some oils that are actually damaging to your hair such as mineral oil. This is an inexpensive form of oil that does not live up to its name – it is not moisturizing and is often too heavy for hair and weighs the hair down so it is lifeless and greasy. It also causes a lot of build-up on the scalp. It may feel nice because it has a lot of slip but it will have a negative impact in the long run.
    While you will see “mineral oil” as its own ingredient, you may also see its sister compounds like lanolin or petroleum (yep, just like Vaseline).
  8. Perfume: We all want to smell good and usually are persuaded to buy products simply because it may remind us of homemade cookies, our tropical vacation, or what we project romance to smell like. However, putting on products that are full of perfumes is actually damaging to your hair for a few reasons. First off, many bases to perfumes is an alcohol, which as we already discussed, dries out the hair. Secondly, perfumes are often compounded to be concentrated in that 10oz container and if you have any skin sensitivity, you could experience scalp irritation, itchy/watery eyes, rash, dandruff, or other side effects very quickly.
    Typically the ingredient list will simply state “perfume” or “fragrance” in the list so if you can find something with natural scents, you are definitely better off.

So, that’s a long list but what prompted me to start researching and posting this is what I found in one product that I specifically used almost daily – DevaCurl Styling Cream

DevaCurl SUPERCREAM® Coconut Curl Styler

Ingredients:
Water, Cetearyl Alcohol, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Glycerin, Hydroxpropyl Starch Phosphate, Cetrimonium Chloride, Behentrimonium Chloride, PPG-3 Benzyl Ether Myristate, Ethyl Macadamiate, Laureth-4, Hydrolyzed Jojoba Protein, Panthenol, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Extract, Humulus Lupulus (Hops) Extract, Melissa Officinalis Extract, Cymbopogon Schoenanthus Extract, Achillea Millefolium Extract, Lauryldimonium Hydroxypropyl Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Lauryldimonium Hydroxypropyl Wheat Starch, Propylene Glycol, Ceteareth-20, Disodium EDTA, Aminomethyl Propanol, Diazolidinyl Urea, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate, Fragrance.

While I enjoyed the fragrance component (it reminded me of sitting on the beach in the Caribbean), I need to be careful with my sensitive skin. However worst yet is the urea, especially since I often diffuse my hair with the hair dryer. Knowing that this breaks down into formaldehyde and knowing that this could cause unwanted health defects, I have stopped using this altogether and have decided to no longer purchase DevaCurl products personally. Why? It doesn’t stop at the styling cream. The shampoos and conditioners also have harmful ingredients like the No-Poo Original Zero Lather Conditioning Cleanser has diazolidinyl urea and iodopropynyl butylcarbamate.

So moral of the story is that I am moving beyond DevaCurl for other brands that may have more organic and safe ingredients. And while I know I cannot avoid everything all of the time, if I can make one swap, and even save some money in the process, I will because my health is more important to me than perfect hair.

Have you heard about these ingredients before? Do you read the label of your hair care products before purchasing? Did it surprise you that DevaCurl had some less than ideal ingredients? Comment below and lets continue the conversation!

Recipe – Egg White Omelettes

Apologies for the late post! It has been a bit of a hectic weekend but I am getting back on track! Tomorrow’s post will be week 02’s smoothie recipes.

Recently I posted on my IG my weekend indulgence – my organic and vegetarian egg white omelettes. I call it my guilty pleasure on weekends because it is full of cheese – all different types of cheese, but cheese nonetheless. Sometimes I think I spent too much time in a laboratory environment and had some of my wires crossed with a mouse…

Anyway, I wanted to share my recipe with you all as my alternative to my weekly breakfast/lunch smoothies.


Ingredients:

AllWhites Egg Whites (1 32oz container is good for about 5 omelettes)
Shredded Cheese – I prefer mozzarella and pepper- or Colby- jack mixed
Onion Powder (2 Tbsp per omelette)
Garlic Powder (1 Tbsp per omelette)
White Pepper (1 tsp per omelette)
Himalayan Salt (1/2 tsp per omelette)*
Turmeric Powder (1/2 tsp per omelette)
Butter (1 Tbsp per omelette)
Crushed mint (optional)
Soyrizo (optional)

Soyrizo
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) or Avocado Oil
Baby Spinach (optional)

Mix the egg whites, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper and turmeric powder together until slightly fluffy.

Heat frying pan (or omelette pan if you have one) and use one the butter to coat the bottom of the pan (you can also use coconut oil).

In a separate pan, coat the bottom with EVOO or Avocado oil and start cooking the soyrizo (it does not come pre-cooked although it may look like it). It needs to be cooked till browned, like a grounded meat.

Add the egg whites and cook on one side for 2-3 minutes depending on the heat of the pan. You will need a spatula to keep the egg from sticking to the pan and to keep moving the liquid egg to the bottom.

Once all of the liquid egg has cooked, add the cheese, soyrizo & spinach in a line on one side of the omelette. Using the spatula, fold the omelette in half and flip to the other side.

Cook for another 1-2 minutes so the omelette is golden brown and plate. Let it sit for 1 minute before serving and garnish with mint.

Enjoy!!

Comment below if you are going to try this and how it turns out for you! Do you add anything extra to your omelettes?

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Smoothie Recipes – Week 01

It is officially the end of week 01 of my smoothie series and as promised, I want to update you all on the recipes used, and since several of you have inquired, my protein of choice! I will add links to the every day items below if I can find it from Amazon but please know that some of these, like my protein powder, I get at Costco or other retailers. In fact, this month, Costco has a sale on my protein powder so you know I am stocking up!


Let’s start off with the products I use every shake. If you plan to make any of the recipes below, please do not forget to add these items!

Combat Protein Powder
Don’t be scared by the “cookies & cream” flavor because you do not taste it! This protein powder only has 2 grams of sugar which is one of the lowest I have seen in a protein that still tastes good. And over 25 grams of protein. It also have different types of protein which means it has a long lasting benefit.

AmazingGreen Green Superfood
One scoop of this is added to help me get my 3+ servings of fruits and veggies a day! It is full of organic greens, fruits, and other vegetables. It blends easily and tastes great! It is gluten free, organic, and does not add any additional sugar.

Collagen Peptides
I mentioned this is in one of my recent posts, but this is added every day!

Maca Powder
This is a new addition to my shakes, but there have been a number of intriguing benefits that have been uncovered by this root vegetable (think potato-esque). It has been consumed for years in Peru and has said to have benefits for both men and women including: increasing energy and stamina, helping balance hormones including during menopause, promoting athletic endurance and recovery, improving immunity levels, and boosting blood circulation.


So on to the weekly recipes including the top 2 favorites of the week!

Manic Monday*
Fresh Orange Juice, chia seeds, frozen peaches, fresh banana, cucumber, lime juice, celery, and flax. The liquid base is water.

Green Tuesday
Mixed organic greens (kale, spinach, lettuce), raw and fresh zucchini (3 slices), cucumber, dates (2), raw and unfiltered honey, and ice. The liquid bases are aloe water and almond milk (50/50).

Mint Chocolate Wednesday*
Fresh mint, cacao powder (think raw and unsweetened chocolate), fresh banana, matcha powder, old-fashioned oats, Greek yogurt, and flax. The liquid base for this is almond milk.

Thirst Quenching Thursday
Cucumber, baby organic spinach, lime juice, celery, fresh and raw zucchini, fresh apple, beets (this has to be steamed – do not add completely raw), frozen peaches, chia seeds, and ice. The liquid base for this is water.

Berries & Cream Friday*
Fresh strawberries, frozen blueberries, Greek yogurt, fresh banana, and honey. The liquid base is almond milk.

The top two favorites this week were: Berries & Cream Friday and Mint Chocolate Wednesday!

All of the ingredients included are customizable to your preferences and how much you are making. If you would like for me to be specific on exactly how much I include, please let me know in the comments below! And don’t forget to check out my IG for day-to-day updates on the shakes of the week!

Do you have a favorite shake that you make? What are your preferences for ingredients? Do you prefer coconut milk or almond milk? Comment down below!

Recipe – Instant Pot Mac & Cheese

As I mentioned in my last post, one of my favorite kitchen gadgets is my 6qt Instant Pot (IP). This was a spontaneous item that I bought when times were hard at home – one income, limited kitchen space, long hours…and I had heard so much about this pressure cooker that was just shy of saving the world!

But seriously, I recall that Walmart had a sale on this where I scooped it up for less than $50 between the sale and some coupon codes (thank you, RetailMeNot). I figured that this was my present to myself and if it could help me make even one home cooked meal a week, it was worth it. Low and behold, this has become so significant that I was gifted the new 8qt version where I can even make homemade yogurt!

This week, I was asked for my IP Mac & Cheese recipe by a friend of mine that now has an IP of her own and since there are 1379247395 different versions online, I figured why not add just one more – mine!


Ingredients:

  • 1 Box or Bag of Elbow Macaroni or Shells (do not use rice or lentil alternatives)
  • 4 Cups of No Salt (Low Salt is okay) Chicken Broth (or Stock)
  • 1 Cup Almond Milk (can use low-fat regular milk)
  • 3 Cups of Shredded Cheese – I use mozzarella, Colby jack, and a hint of white Vermont cheddar
  • 1/4 Cup Onion Powder
  • 1 tsp Himalayan Pink salt
  • 1-2 tbsp of smoked paprika (optional)

Throw in the macaroni, chicken broth, and salt into the Instant Pot. Set on 4 minutes (manual or pressure cook). Do not be alarmed that as your pasta pressurizes, or at the end of the 4 minutes, you may see splatter through the steam release…this is okay and can be cleaned afterward (this is due to the starch in your pasta).

After 4 minutes, manually release the pressure (in other words, quick release). You will notice a little bit of liquid still left with the now cooked pasta – that’s good!

Set your IP to “Sauté” mode. This will help melt the cheese but make sure to mix often.

Add half a cup of milk. Stir. Add the onion powder and shredded cheese – 1 cup at a time; add the second half-a-cup of milk. Stir. Add more milk as needed to ensure a creamy but not watery consistency.

Once the cheese is melted and creamy, turn off “Sauté” or it will burn your food!

Add the smoked paprika, if desired. This gives the mac & cheese a little kick without being over-powering and gives a nice color richness to the dish.

ENJOY!

Comment below if you are going to try this and how it turns out for you! Do you add anything extra? Do you have a version that you would like me to try? Do you have a tried and true stovetop recipe that you use?

Amazon Favorites – April

So it is almost June and I am way behind! I had to take a couple of weeks off because of an illness (see last post for more details) but now that I’m back, I need to get on schedule!

Also, I will be rolling out two new series for my IG and blog! First will be my smoothie recipes and menu. I will post more about this during the week, but my smoothies are daily concoctions that I make for myself, my husband, and some of my friends and have seen amazing results! One of my friends has lost over 15 pounds with just the smoothies alone! The second series will be about skincare. I am not a makeup junkie, but I am all about taking care of my skin and my body. Every Sunday will now be Skincare Sunday and I will test and report on different skincare items; some may be first impressions, others may be tried and true.

But on to the Amazon favorites! I will link each product below, or the closest version if it is not currently available. Please please remember that Amazon prices are subject to change! Also, for the sake of transparency, each link is an affiliate link but it does not change the price or cost you anything.

This is one of my favorite investments for my small kitchen! If you know me, you know I love to cook, but sometimes cooking all weekend to meal prep is impossible and cooking every night is simply not going to happen. So purchasing this beauty (even though April’s purchase was a gift because I have 2 at home), has been a lifesaver. It has helped cut down on cooking time, keeps meats moist, and has made sure we eat out less because of “dump and cook” meals! I even make our doggie’s human-grade food every week and they have gotten so much HEALTHIER!
Click here for the 6 quart (currently $69)

Do you have curly hair or hair that tangles often? Have you been using a wide-tooth comb? Do you fear every time you have to detangle? Say no more! That was me too until I found this brush that I could have sworn was a gimmick until I detangled my curly hair – wet AND dry. This brush fits in the contours of your hand so it is easy to hold and with short/long bristles, it easily brushes out even the worst knots. And the best part is that it also massages the scalp without any damage. I barely have any fall out when I detangle too which is night and day from what I would be left with before.
Please do not hesitate and get this! Just keep an eye on the price because I got mine for $9.99 and it is now $16.

Once I started to hit the gym more for muscle building and not just weight loss, I needed something to help protect my neck and shoulders from the barbell and I came across this wonder! For only $12.49, I use this every time I do squats, pelvic thrusts, and any other exercise where the barbell is resting directly on my body. I keep this in my gym bag and clean it after every use. It provides a lot of cushion without disrupting the exercise.
It comes in multiple colors but I bought my black one here.

Available in multiple colors and sizes, I have bought this blanket 3 times over -once as a gift and twice for our master and guest beds. Every time someone stays over or we crash for the night during the summer months, this blanket is amazing! It is light weight but still warm enough that when the AC is blasting, you are not cold. It has a little waffle design on there so it is aesthetically pleasing while being functional. It is not warm enough for winter but we use it during spring, summer, and fall without any issues! It is great quality and washes easily in the washing machine and can be dried as well.
Each size and color is a different price, but I bought this one for the guest bed for $35.99.

Another item I have on Subscribe & Save is this collagen powder! This is a new addition to my daily protein smoothies that I make to help my bones, my skin, my hair, and joints. It is unflavored and will mix easily in any smoothie or shake. All you need is a scoop (included) and it makes a world of a difference. It is easy to digest too so there is no need to take 6 tablets or try and drink a flavored concoction. I purchase one every month.
You can give this a try too by purchasing it here.

So tell me… have you tried any of these products? What is your opinion? Are you using something that I should try? Comment below!

Recovering!

Some of you may have wondered where I went these past few weeks and some of you may have scooted over to my IG and saw some photo or message…

Well, for the past couple of weeks I have gone dark because I was sick. And by sick I mean I could not eat, drink, sleep or do much of anything without being in crippling pain and having to pray to the porcelain gods. I even went to the ER at two of our local hospitals on two different days! And if you know me…hospitals and I are not friends. But after two weeks, I finally found a physician that would HEAR me -not just listen and I am on the road to recovery. Below is a little insight on to where I was and I promise I will be back to a full schedule next week!

April 20th – Picture this. My in-laws had just gotten to town the night prior and we (my husband and I) had created a whole schedule of outings and menu (Yeah, I’m a Type A)! I woke up with a migraine (typical for me) and my stomach was out of sorts. After some medicine, I thought I was fine and we loaded into the car to head out of town and visit new-age wine country! Alas, not even 1 hour into the drive, I was done. I was a mess and could not sit in the car for more than a few minutes at a time. Cue in a Target run for meds and voila – I was fine! Or so I thought. That night I took a turn. 101º fever. Chills to the point my body locked up on me. Nausea. Pain. I was in bad shape.

April 22nd – First hospital visit. What. A. Nightmare. I had never been to the ER in Cali but this was quite an experience that I wish upon no one. Waiting rooms at full capacity. No beds. No where to sit. Hours of waiting for medication. No fluids. No follow up. Barely anything more than a quick blood draw.

April 24th – I took a turn for the worst. Not even 6am and we were in the waiting room at the ER (hospital #2) and this would be the beginning of a 12+ hour day. I had to beg for medication…twice. But at least they ran tests – mostly because I asked. Yet I still walked out at the end of the day with a prescription for medication and no answers – just pain and hunger.

April 29th – I was still not eating but I had to go to work. I lost 10 pounds. I looked frail. I felt worse. I just wanted to sleep. Thankfully I work with an amazing team and one of my physicians made a few phone calls and I had an appointment for the 2nd. Prayers and crackers was all I had.

May 2nd – Two doctors appointments -the first being one of the most awkward visits I had ever had and the second was a dream come true. We sat for over 1 hour and discussed what was wrong, how to treat it, what I could try to start eating, what my limitations would be, and what would be my next steps. I went home with medication that was actually effective for what I had -not making me worse- and started recuperating THAT NIGHT.

So why am I sharing all this? Well, for the sake of oversharing, I really want to hit home that you have to advocate for yourself. Health care is here to help you but there are a lot of hurdles and obstacles in providers’ way but also in yours. While I do not expect everyone to have a doctorate degree or read the ICD10 code book, you need to be your own advocate.

For example, at hospital #2, I only received fluids because I asked for it -mind you this was almost 5 days without being able to really even keep water in. I was then given pain killers but was still in pain so I wanted more answers and more help – ask number 2 and cue the additional testing that uncovered an abnormality that 3 other tests did not show. You cannot rely on your health care provider knowing everything, especially since he/she does not know your body better than you.

Ask questions! Do not settle for the baseline or textbook answer. Ask for help. And if you can…take someone with you. I personally felt like a burden to my family but I am blessed that I was not alone throughout the whole ordeal.

Curly Hair: Rice Water Rinse

A lot of times, curly girls, especially those that are transitions (like I did almost 7 years ago) mix up when their hair needs moisture and when it needs, and you are reading this correctly, protein. When hair is frizzy or brittle, it needs moisture. When curly hair starts to go limp and lost its definition, the hair needs protein. Sometimes, hair needs both, at the same time, and that is when multi-tasking comes into play!

Now when I say protein, I don’t mean a steak or cracking an egg (though believe it or not, that works). I meant a simpler way that could even smell delightful and bring back some of the luster while bringing back definition as well! You may have seen it all over the internet, but I tried this method first hand and the results were quite impressive. I am talking about a rice water rinse.

The first time I heard about this, I laughed because why would I put that murky water on my clean hair and expect any good results? But after diving head first into the YouTube abyss, I decided the worst that could happen is that I needed to wash my hair again. So I gave it a go!

I will be honest that I have only done this only a handful of times to date because my hair is protein sensitive so once a month is more than enough for me.

Side bar: How do I know my hair is protein sensitive? Because when I overload my hair with protein, albeit through masks, rinses, or my everyday products, my hair does the reverse of what it is supposed to do and goes limp -almost wavy. And it starts to feel straw-like. I reverse this boo-boo by washing and doing a moisture treatment. Think of moisture and protein like pH levels – on what would be acidic would be protein and what is base would be moisture. You just need to find your happy middle (which may or may not be “7”).

So what did I do? What did I need? How did it turn out? Keep reading!

First things first, you need: an airtight jar (you could use a mason jar but make sure it is a good size -not just a standard overnights oat size); distilled or filtered water; a cup of rice (or more depending on length); and essential oils (or my little secret).

In the couple of trials I did, I did not notice a difference between the two different types – first time I used brown basmati rice and the second time I used white rice. I suppose the type of rice you use is personal preference.

I prepared my rice water by rinsing the rice. Yes, that means I ran the rice under running water (while in the colander) to remove the major impurities. Once the water started coming out clear-ish, I was ready to prepare the rice water rinse.

I placed the cup of rice into the mason jar and added three cups of distilled water. Now this is the step where you can add a couple of drops of your favorite essential oil for fragrance, but because I am sensitive to smells and did not want to disrupt the experiment, I opted to add 1/4 of a cup of my favorite rose water (I use this for cooking mostly but the scent is just amazing) which I inserted a photo below for reference.

al wadi rose water

Then just simply seal up the jar and put it in a dark, dry place – like a cupboard, for at least 24 hours but ideally no more than 36. Once you start to hit that 48 hour mark, the rice water has really fermented and will start to smell sour and will not work as well – trust me, I learned from experience!

After 24 (or so) hours, you are now able to transfer that rice water to a spray bottle or a bowl. I personally opted for the bowl method because I’m also lazy, but that is personal preference! Then you can chuck out the rice. And no, you cannot use that rice again and truthfully a rice water rinse should be a one-time use situation for optimal results even if you refrigerate; yes, refrigeration stops the fermentation but the potency also diminishes.

Now be forewarned – that rinse will be COLD even if it is at room temperature. What I did is I start to dunk my clean (after shampooing but before conditioner) hair in the bowl and watched it soak up the water. I then poured the remaining water on my roots and massaged everything in using my scalp massage brush.

Again, I will tell you that I have done this more than once and tried several different methods with the first being the more successful (I attribute the second to the fact that I let the rice sit for 3 days).

I finished my shower routine and rinsed some of the water out. I did leave some of the rice water in my hair, almost like conditioner. I then detangled outside of the shower and applied my normal products (this time was a Ouidad/DevaCurl combo).

And these are the results…before diffusing and after.

Yeah…no make-up or filter. Sorry! But that definition on the right… That makes up for it!

Conclusion? The rice water rinsing works…and at a minimal cost! But only if you need protein and are not sensitive. You need to also make sure you have the right amount of moisture in your hair.

So tell me…have you tried rice water rinses? What has your experience been? And if you haven’t, do you want to?