Shopping – Prime Wardrobe

Third time is a charm, right? Well, not in this case. Regrettably, this will most likely be my last Prime Wardrobe post. Frankly, I cannot believe I am breaking up with a part of Amazon but it’s definitely them and not me.

Truthfully, I have had some success with Prime Wardrobe but the cost of the items and the lack of personalization makes me feel like I might as well just do this on my own –why do I pay a stylist fee if the selections look completely arbitrary? I was really underwhelmed with this last order even though the items looked decent online AND I had my box completely redone because the original selections were all flops.

Amazon did extend me an offer that credits me the stylist fees up to 3 times, which seemed like a great plan and I really appreciated it. But alas, this box was nothing to write home about so it is not easy to get excited for another month.

So without further ado, here is this month’s Prime selections…

Okay, I cheated this time because I was not a fan of the outfits once I received them so I did combine some of them but nevertheless, I’ll break down each item.

Tahari ASL – Women’s Inverted Midi Pleat Skirt (in Black Ivory Dot) – $24.99
This skirt has pockets! It is very elegant and had an underslip so it was very professional. I just did not like the waist or where it fell on me. I have an hourglass-esque figure and I have been noticing that even when I one-up the size, some skirts or pants just sit way too high so it cuts my torso making me look shorter. I received this in a size 8 and a size 10 would be too big so alas it was returned.

Nine West – Women’s Stretch Kiss Front Jacket (in Cyprus) – Price currently unavailable
This was a great little jacket for work that I could through on top of a camisole (like I did in both pictures) or a blouse. It was large enough and had some stretch so it would be comfortable for the workday. There was no way to close the jacket and the pockets are fake. The sleeves have slits so you can fold them up for a bracelet length or let them down for full-length sleeves. For me, the biggest turnoff was the color. I have olive skin overall that with purples or olive colors, I tend to look yellow. Unfortunately, this was too olive so I had to return it.

Nine West – Women’s Stripe Midi Dress with Self Sash (in Fireg Low/Candy Multi) – $63.31
While this looked great online, this does not look great in person. It has a slip underneath that has zero give so if you have curves, it fits like a sausage casing. I felt so constricted and uncomfortable. The bust area also stretched so it looked like it was too small for me but any bigger would be too loose. Also, the length isn’t right for me as it cuts my legs in a weird spot. Overall I wanted to like this dress for a vacation or weekend, but it was not a winner.

Donna Morgan – Women’s Split Sleeve Fit and Flare Dress (in Tea Rose) – $96.05
Okay so the color was great and it is a totally comfortable dress. There are no pockets and it is a back-zip closure. But my goodness – where is the flare? The model makes this look loose yet totally work appropriate. I, on the other hand, could not get this to look good. Maybe if I added Spanx? Meh. Another return.

Nine West – Women’s Bi Stretch Trouser Pant (in Biscotti) $61.8
Can you tell that I have sizing issues with clothing? So these pants that, when you look on Amazon, are supposed to be loser fitting than what I ended up trying on. These pants were way too tight in the thighs to be work appropriate. They had false pockets too which I don’t understand why women can’t have pants with pockets… The color is quite nice and would’ve been great for fall transition. Alas, these were all returned.

Moral of the story? My Amazon Prime Wardrobe account has been paused. I am unfortunately not very happy with what I have been sent and feel that there are other companies, like StichFix, that are listening to the survey you complete, the notes you enter, and know the clothes they send. I do not foresee myself doing another box with Prime Wardrobe but I will still purchase selective one-off clothing items from Amazon!

And on a complete side note…I need a vacation and some sun! Sheesh.

So inquiring minds want to know… Do you have a Prime Wardrobe subscription? Do you have any clothing subscriptions? What is your favorite clothing line?

Advertisements
Advertisements

Managing Funds for October

With it being the first weekend in October, the tingling sensation to go out and buy everything pumpkin, boots, flannel, and anything fall is literally gnawing at me. It is taking every ounce of my will to not go to HomeGoods or Kirkland’s (or Michael’s thinking yeah, I totally can craft…). I love fall and everything that comes with it, especially being outdoors or bringing the outside in! I love to decorate and I love to warm up the home with scents and flavors of fall. There is something about roasting acorn squash or baking maple cookies during this time of the year…

But alas, with this time of the year comes the mental recollection that the holiday season is literally around the corner. There are 90 days left of the year (okay, less than that but I didn’t want to officially panic) and for my family, the holidays also mean birthday season (my husband, my father, then me…)! So I cannot overindulge despite my inner Martha Stewart wannabe.

So I am taking some time to make some budgeting plans, which will be a challenge with a couple of travel opportunities coming up. But I need to make sure that I have all my affairs in order so I am making some drastic changes!

As you may know from earlier posts, my husband and I are saving a LOT of money by cooking exciting new meals at home during the week (and cooking them together is a great way to spend time together AND cut down on the time it takes). Sunbasket has been great and with their organic menu, we are eating cleaner and healthier while saving money — now THAT is a win-win. If you are interested in getting a box of your own and saving $40, I do have an affiliate code you can use: click here.


So with groceries off the list, there are a few other items we have to account for, like bills and yes, some fun even for an introvert like myself! So here is the plan for October:

I get paid bi-weekly and get my paycheck a day early thanks to my wonderful bank. I get those funds deposited into a checking account. So I am allocating my take-home into four expense categories:
Standard
Frivolous
Savings
Miscellaneous/emergencies

Let’s start with the “Savings” expenses:
I immediately, and automatically, pay myself in terms of a savings account. I consider ‘savings’ as a bill so without thinking, I set an auto-transfer and don’t touch that account. It is associated with my checking and is a fail-safe in case of a rainy day but otherwise, I don’t acknowledge that account at all. So ~10% of my pay, every paycheck, goes here.

Then I look at “Standard” expenses:
This is the bulk of my expenses as I strive for a debt-free lifestyle (with the exclusion of my student loans because, well, education isn’t free).
So in this bucket are expenses like rent, credit cards, utilities, and car payments. This is ~60% of the month’s income.

“Frivolous” expenses:
Withdraw $100. That is my spending limit for anything frivolous outside staple items like medication or groceries. So if I want to go out at lunch or want to go to the movies – that’s all I have for the whole month. ~2.5% of the month goes here.

Miscellaneous expenses or emergencies:
Use my debit card and spend less than 10% for the month. This is for those desperate food cravings or emergency items that we didn’t have in the house. When we can, we go to our local farmers’ market for those one-off items like zucchini for bread or peaches for dessert. “Miscellaneous” items do not count towards frivolous purchases like clothes, makeup or unnecessary items (see how that works?).

Only allowing myself $100 cash means I will not need to go into my wallet to grab a card OR allow me to spend any additional money. Credit cards should not see any daylight with the exception of our rental car or hotel (this is a preplanned trip). And if I don’t have the money, there is no way to spend it -so I have to spend wisely! I also have gift cards that I can and need to use so those will come in handy.

So inquiring minds want to know… What are you doing to prepare for the holidays? How do you budget? Who is ready to join me!?

12 Ways to Cope with a Migraine

When you look up the word “migraine” in a medical textbook, my photo appears…along with almost every symptom that I experience from light sensitivity to nausea.

Though I have been told many times by family, friends, and even licensed professionals that I am “too young” or “too healthy” or “too naive” to be a migraine-sufferer, I have had migraines almost all my life. I am all too familiar with the difference between headaches, cluster headaches, tension headaches, sinus pressure, and migraines. I have been plugged to machines that have mapped my brain and been told that there was nothing wrong. I have been given anti-seizure medication, migraine pills, and other pharmaceutical remedies to treat what they still put on file as “headaches”. I was told to log when I got a migraine to see what the trigger was and was always thought to be dishonest because no pattern could be determined. I have done home remedies, omitted foods and drinks that “aggravate migraines” and taken countless OTC remedies all to no avail.

This is just a part of my life that I have learned to deal with and though it does cause issues on day to day living, I have a few tricks that help ease some of the pain. Nothing has been 100% fool-proof and I still continue to get migraines, but these are some methods that help me cope.

  1. Acknowledge the pain. There were a few years that I would try and ignore the warning symptoms that a migraine was developing. I did not want to admit that I had to deal with this and most likely the remainder of the day would be shot. However, just denying the pain would not make it go away. I had to accept it and come up with ways to deal with it.
  2. Cool showers. When it is too hot or after extraneous exercise, I am more inclined to get a migraine, so when I feel the beginnings of one, I take a cool shower to help regulate my body temperature and ironically clear my head.
  3. Turn off electronics. Blue light has been increasingly known to hurt our eyes which is also a contributing factor to the onset of migraines. Blue light is emitted from many of our favorite electronic devices from our computer monitors to our cell phones. When my migraine is creeping in, my cell phone is put away, the laptop is closed, and my tablet is shut.
    To help prevent the blue light from causing a migraine in the first place, especially since 8+ hours of my day is spent in front of a computer screen, I wear orange tinted or anti-blue light glasses (which can be bought on Amazon for about $12.99).
  4. Block out light. I use an eye mask to help me block out any ambient light that may irritate my eyes beyond a computer screen. My favorite is one that I also leave in the refrigerator so it helps with the puffiness and blood flow that usually cause my temples to look like they are speakers in a Jersey shore club. I bought mine on Amazon for about $10 (click here) at the time.
  5. Stay cool. My body temperature fluctuates tremendously when a migraine sets in and I can go from boiling hot to freezing cold. However when a full blown migraine hits, I force myself to lay down with a light blanket and the ceiling fan on. This constant flow of air helps the pressure and prevents me from sweating!
  6. Medicine. Yes, there are times where my migraines are too strong and homeopathic methods are simply inadequate. While I do not like to take medication regularly, I also realize that this was all developed for a reason and suffering will only make matters worse. So I will take Excedrin Migraine or other ibuprofen options to help at least take the edge off.
  7. Eat or drink yogurt. Another way I help regulate my internal body temperature as well as help calm an irritable stomach is through the consumption of yogurt. A quick bowl of yogurt is one way or I drink “tahn”. “Tahn” is an Armenian drink  which is simply yogurt mixed with water and some salt -trust me it tastes better than it sounds. Other Middle Eastern countries have their own name and variation for this drink like “ayran” in Turkey, “lassi” or “majjiga” in India, “kefir” or “doogh” in Persian. If I cannot have either, I will at least consume some acidophilus which will help calm my stomach.
  8. Find quiet. Like light, sounds tend to make my migraines worse so when one is developing, or already full-blown, I will make sure that I find some solitude even if that means using ear plugs.
  9. Hydrate. I am not able to eat or drink much of anything when I have a migraine because even toast makes me nauseous. However, dehydration makes my migraines even worse so I will start off with sipping cold water and then make my way to a coffee or tea for the added caffeine. Caffeine, though a dehydrating chemical, helps dilate my blood vessels making it easier for blood to pump. I limit this to one cup though and will continue to drink water until my migraine has subsided.
  10. Steer clear of fragrances. So again, like light and sound, strong smells make the migraine worse and will often make me extremely nauseous. This includes scents that linger from the kitchen. When I get a migraine, I am like a bloodhound and the simpliest smell can make me neasous.
  11. Eat minimally and light. Once the worst of the migraine has passed, I know that I need to eat something. I tend to opt for some toast, cereal, or, if I am feeling lucky, chicken/turkey. I will not, however, eat anything raw (like veggies), dairy, or any other meat until the next day as all of those are harder for me to digest and can aggravate my migraine.
  12. Take it easy. After a migraine subsides, I want to make up for lost time and act like everything is fine. But I have come to learn that doing that will only make things worse. Once I start to feel better, I have to take it easy, often for the remainder of the day, because I feel fatigued and overall weak. Trying to do more than my body will allow will only make me feel worse and often will mean that I will be stuck in bed till the next day.

Headaches suck. Migraines are deplorable. But when you have them, finding your tried and true ways to cope will help. I am also very fortunate to have people in my life that have either experienced migraines themselves or been around other people that have had them, so they truly understand and help me when needed.

So inquiring minds want to know…do you suffer from migraines? What do you do to deal with them?

Movetober Challenge

The weather has shifted officially. October is here and we are in the home stretch of 2019. I officially am consuming PSL everything.

So with the holidays quickly approaching, I want to kick myself into high gear and prepare for the inevitable, and absolutely never avoidable (no matter how hard you try), holiday feasting and festivities! So with that being said, starting October 1st, I am starting my own fitness challenge!

Some of you may recall my weight loss from the past year and how I ballooned at 200 pounds after some major challenging life milestones. I was not eating healthy. I had stopped taking care of myself. I then had compounded health issues which kept making matters worse. I was getting depressed. I didn’t want to interact with friends or family. I wanted to burrow my sorrows in junk and then cry about how I viciously kept doing that. I didn’t know who I was anymore. I hated myself.
That is why I harbor so much on getting healthy, being healthy, and that this is a journey and not a race!

So for the month of October, I am renaming it to Movetober and initiating a challenge – GET MOVING! My goal is to hit the minimum of the items on my calendar below. Every week I will do a Sunday check-in starting with the 6th and share results, obstacles, and wins!

If you want to join me, print the workout calendar above, follow me on Instagram, and comment below! I cannot wait to share results with you and make Movetober a success!

So inquiring minds want to know… Have you ever participated in a fitness challenge before? What areas do you want to work on – lose weight, gain muscle, maintain?

Highlighting my Hair

Let me preface this by stating I did my research before attempting this AND have taken the precautions to strengthen my hair beforehand.

Spoiler alert: the results are not at all what was expected and I have finally been able to stop crying long enough to get dressed, go to work, and have some semblance of reality again. Boy oh boy was this a learning experience.

A quick reminder of what I went in with before this experiment:

This photo is from a month ago.

Last week, I made an appointment to get my hair partially highlighted at my local Ulta salon. The balayage that I did over a year ago was starting to grow out and look less balayage and more just neglected. So I wanted to get some caramel/honey highlights to blend with the remaining balayage and add some dimension to my naturally dark hair. I had prepped my hair and clarified to ensure the highlighting would be safe and had a bottle of Olaplex waiting for me at home for afterward to repair the hair follicles from the color lift. I had seen some YouTubers and friends go to their local Ulta salon and had some great results, so I decided it was a risk worth taking – I mean you can’t go that wrong with highlights, right?

My appointment was at 2:30 pm. I didn’t get home till 6 pm. Almost 4 hours for partial highlights – no cut, no styling, just highlights. This is almost the same amount of time it took to get balayage done for my whole head…

For starters, the stylist didn’t utter any of the variations of the dreaded “wow…look at all that hair” so I thought that was a really good sign! Once I sat down and explained what I was looking for (caramel/honey highlights to blend with my balayage…I am sorry for the repetition but it is key to what is to come), she got started on splitting my hair up into sections and brushing it out (meh, okay).

Here we go!

As we got to talking and she mentioned her sister had curly hair so another sigh of relief as I thought ‘hey, she must have some curly hair know-how’. And then the process began! I was so excited to start the process and was thrilled that this was so convenient – I was able to book my appointment online and for a Sunday! And even though Ulta is a Redken salon, I know that they have curly products (that’s where I bought some new products I will be reviewing for you soon) and thought hey…worst case they’ll pull them (yes, they can and do this). But even so, I’d give Redken a go and then style it my way once I got home.

Brushed out curls and lots of foil

Then came the rinse time. Before she rinsed it out, I got to take a quick peek and I was so happy with the results – yes, a little light but overall not bad! She even said she was so happy that I wasn’t brassy or over-processed. But then she grabbed the toner. The toner, y’all. So okay, maybe it was a translucent toner or something just a tinge darker than the highlights to tone down the blonde a smidge. I thought ‘hey, it’s okay if it is a bit warmer because it is fall.’ After 20 minutes sitting at the rinse station, she came back and rinsed it out, applied a deep conditioning masque and rinsed that out after a few minutes.

After chatting about how I usually don’t apply heat, how she wanted to showcase the highlights on her IG and how diffusing would take me about 45 minutes at home, I opted to have her diffuse it – gotta help promote each other, right? Mind you, at this point, my hair was wet so I didn’t see any highlights but thought once it dried, they’ll pop out.

She applied some serum to my hair (think FrizzEase from the 90s) by Redken – I honestly have no idea what it was. And then she pulled out the diffuser attachment and went to town – physically lift chunks of my hair while seated upright and holding it to my scalp with the diffuser. What is happening right now? At that point, I was too shocked to say anything and I kept thinking, alright, at least I’ll be able to see the highlights. Five minutes later she was done. DONE?! My hair was still wet and I looked as frizzy as a poodle, in Florida, that air-dried after a rainstorm. Can’t picture it? Well, here is an example:

So okay, she can’t style curly hair – totally okay because I can fix it when I get home. But here’s the thing…where are my highlights? Where is the blonde from my balayage? I saw the foils in there y’all. The proof exists above! I even IG’d it. So where are they? Am I being punked? Where are the highlights?!

I then panicked. I wanted to get out of there and to my shower as quickly as possible. I even paid, though I wholeheartedly am not sure why, and ran home in tears. TEARS! My poor husband tried to coax me into thinking it looks alright but even he was shocked.

Home in 5 minutes and I was in the shower with a clarifying shampoo then chelating my hair like crazy! I needed to remove some of this toner and revive my curls. Now if you don’t know what chelating hair is, it is a very extensive process of stripping your hair to remove any build-up and often times temporary color which toner essentially is. If you’re interested, I will do a post about it.

The result? Let’s put it like this – my curls are safe but I am not necessarily looking in the mirror too long once the bonnet or scarf comes off. I am already gearing up for the next wash day and mentally preparing for a lot of deep conditioning. Here’s the final product:

Still can rock it!

Overall, it is an improvement from what I walked out of the salon with but it is still not what I asked for or anticipated. I am shocked. I am dumbfounded. And overall, I am NOT going back. I am going to let the toner run its course and hope that the blonde will end up seeping through with time and look okay. Ultimately, it isn’t that bad and is aligned with the season change but it is not what I expected, asked for, paid for…

This was a failed experiment overall and a reminder that you cannot go to just anyone when you have curly hair. Highlighting may be more universal, but if they do not understand the structure of your hair, the end result may not be what you expected. So perhaps it is slightly my fault… Maybe my assumption of your run-of-the-mill caramel/honey highlights is not so common and I should have had examples ready.

So inquiring minds want to know… Have you had a poor experience with coloring or highlights and if so, how did you respond? How have you revived a coloring mishap?

Top 9 Things I Do for a Good Night’s Sleep

I personally need 8+ hours of sleep every night but for the longest time, barely clocked 6. This directly contributed to my stress levels which in turn led to my weight gain and kept the vicious cycle going. Additionally, the sleep deprivation had other consequences like communication issues with my husband and family, inability to focus, delayed reaction times, and so much more. I also knew this was impacting my weight. I knew my temper was shorter. I knew that other stressors were compounding the issue and I was getting sick more often than I should.

So I needed to make an adjustment on my sleeping habits. After some research and trial & error, I incorporated some key features to help me catch those elusive Zzzz’s. Below are the top 9 things I do to improve my sleep and overall well-being. I will try to link the products I use in case you are interested to give it a try for yourself – just remember that I am an Amazon junkie so most items are ordered!

  1. Clean my space – I cannot sleep when the room is full of clutter so I always have to make sure that the room is clear. For example, all of the clothes have to be put away, the shoes are in the closet, and any puppy toys that may have migrated in are put in their play box. A decluttered room means a room with better air flow and a simpler and quieter space. I do take 10-15 minutes a day to clean up my space so there is never a daunting pile waiting for me.
  2. Taking my nightly vitamins – Some people think that the only time you can take vitamins are with your morning coffee. Now there are some vitamins that should not be taken together as they counteract each other and prove to be less effective or altogether harmful. As far as I can remember, vitamin C acted like a sleeping pill for me – whether I took it in its natural form through eating an orange or as a part of a multivitamin ($11.10). I also take magnesium every other night to help my muscles and reduce muscle cramping. I bought mine from Amazon ($10.79)
  3.  Crank up my sound machine – This may sound silly for some but to clear my head and focus, I need to have my surrounding support my focus. Back in Florida, I had a sound machine that helped cancel out any TV sounds from my neighbors, the puppies trying to get attention, my husband typing away on his laptop, the fifth car alarm going off in the parking lot or the fire engine that just always seems to drive by when I was ready to call it a night. So when Amazon had a great lightning deal and I had the chance to replace the sound machine that I gave to my mom, I was thrilled! I did not have to use my phone anymore and could really disconnect. Mine was from Pure Enrichment and it is black and half the price of what I found is currently listed but it is a simple sound machine that takes up almost no space on my nightstand ($29.99).
  4. Color – Yep, you read that correctly – almost every night, especially after a rough day, I will take 10-15 minutes to color with my colored pencils and mandala book. Like my sound machine, this helps me clear my head and stop focusing on events from the day. Plus it helps me build my patience because I was always that kid that colored everywhere BUT in the lines.
  5. Pray –  I am not the most religious person but ever since I was a child, I always had my nightly prayers. Sometimes it was for a sick relative, sometimes it was in vain and was for a delay on a school test, but whatever it was for, I always took the 5 minutes to pray. Maybe it was the ideaology of being a part of something bigger than oneself, or maybe it was something else, but having that informal connection with God is always a part of my night.
  6. Complete my nightly skincare routine – I always make it a point to take off the day before I crawl into bed and prepare my skin for some TLC and repair. Though I will go into this into more detail in a future post, I always wash off all of my makeup, use a toner, apply a face oil, an eye cream, and a lip masque (especially now that I live in a very arid climate).
  7. Complete my nightly dental routine – This is a given but I always make sure that I floss, brush, and rinse with mouthwash before going to bed. I also use my Invisalign guard but that is probably for another day. There have even been nights where I was so tired I passed out before brushing and will wake up, brush, and then go back to bed.
  8. Moisturize – So beyond my face, I always take a few minutes to apply a moisturizer to my body and typically it has a lavender or chamomile scent to help lull me into a deep sleep.
    SLEEP – Lavender and Cedarwood Body Cream
    I also have Keratosis pilaris which is more commonly known as chicken skin or permanent goosebumps. The moisturizer I use for my upper arms help exfoliate and reduce the inflammation. I have bought Amlactin ($12.59) from Amazon, Walgreens, and most recently at Costco (which is the best deal) and would recommend you buy the small bottle first to test it out before the full commitment.
  9. Set the room – I need to make sure that my room’s ambiance helps set the stage for a restful night so I draw my blackout curtains from Target (Rune Printed Heathered Blackout Panel) and fill the room with the scent of lavender which really helps me calm down and drift into a restful night. I have used the Febreeze brand with Mediterranean Lavender but recently switched to a more conscientious and inexpensive brand, Mrs. Meyers ($5.89) when I don’t have my essential oil diffuser on blast:

Each of these, though simple, help me turn my mind off and get ready for a quality night’s sleep. I do change things up every now and again as I find new ways, techniques, and products that aim to help with sleep. I also want to make sure that my techniques are not disruptive to guests or my husband or the doggies. 

Inquiring minds want to know… What do you do to have a restful night? Do you have any tips or tricks that you find particularly helpful?

Freshen the Air Naturally

The air quality in California is no joke. Though it is one of the most strict states as far as emissions goes, especially living in the Central Valley, the air can be super saturated with pollutants. This is then coupled with lingering scents in the car from last night’s takeout or Fido’s accident or that afternoon you worked out a little too hard at the gym… So what do we typically do? We buy scents, sprays, and other noxtious chemicals to try and mask the odors and make the car ride more enjoyable – especially when you’re spending 5+ hours a week riding around.

So as a part of my health journey, I wanted to find a better way to make my car smell better, give me a little pick me up, and do my part to stop circling harmful chemicals around. I took a page from what I have started to do at home – switch out my chemical aerosols for natural water diffusers and essential oils, and decided that there had to be something equivalent for the car. I also wanted to find something that would help absorb the lingering scents between diffusing (because a girl needs to switch it up sometimes) and any stagnant smells from the Costco chicken I bought on my way home or the gym bag I forgot was in the backseat.

Turning to my trusty friend and my wallet’s archnemesis, Amazon, I found an inexpensive water-based diffuser for $12.99 (you can click here to purchase one yourself). It came with an extra cotton wick and very easy instructions. You need to use distilled or filtered water and whatever essential oil of your choice, but it should be water soluble. This is why I am so glad that I have been getting back into my DoTerra oils (thank you, Carrie) because I know they are quality and water soluable – they are not just scents but rather real oils made from real ingredients.
Once filled, you plug it in your … wait, I am about to age myself here, cigarette lighter, lightly tap the “power” button and enjoy the ride! Plus, this is using water as a way to diffuse the oil so it adds some extra humidity which is GREAT for someone who is living in an area with percentages topping at 18 in the summer.

So for the rest of the time, I thought about what I was using for my fridge to help keep my ingredients longer and suck up some of the smells of the salmon or ham. While the one I have in my fridge is a little different (I’ll post about that soon – promise!), I found these charcoal-based air purifier bags. Just one of these in my car can absorb and neutralize the differnet scents, leaving it fresh and ready for my essential oils. The Moso Natural Air Purifying Bag that contains 200mg of natural bamboo charcoal that can be reset through direct sunlight and reused several times -up to two years. After the first hour of having this inside the car, the car already smelled like it had recently been vacuumed! And this was only $9.95 with prime shipping. The baggie itself has no scent and is small enough to fit in the door sill or between the seats. 

I have used both of these in my husband’s older car and will be using it in mine. I am so happy to have these without having to purchase plugins or trees that last for a day or two at best.

So inquiring minds want to know… Do you have any healthy alternatives that you use in your car or home to help freshen up the environment? Do you use essential oils? What’s your favorite scent?

One Month Check-In: Hair Update

I cannot believe it has been one month since starting my journey to revive my hair! Last month, in my post about Hair Loss, I shared about my struggle to revive my hair after experiencing some major life stressors and changes with my health. Today is my check-in and I am eager to share updates with you.

Let’s recap what has been going on with me recently that has impacted my hair. Keep in mind that stressors that are happening at this point in time may not actually impact your hair for months to come. In fact, I have had numerous doctors ask me “what has happened in your life in the past six months?” to help deduce what is now showing physically.

In the past 9 months, so since 2019 started, I have had both of my parents have serious medical conditions and have life-saving operations. I got really sick in April. I stopped taking birth control and started taking prenatal vitamins to get my body ready for the future so my husband and I can try and start a family. My endometriosis resurfaced, most likely because I stopped taking artificial hormones. I lost 35 pounds. I passed my prospectus and have a tight timeline to finish my dissertation. We had a little financial hurdle to overcome – mostly contributed to our frequent trips to check on family across the country. Work – nothing else needs to be said about that. Our lease was expiring and our complex wanted to increase our rent by 12% which was beyond our means, especially for an apartment that wasn’t updated. Work.

I think that’s the gist of it – in retrospect, it’s not that bad but when you are actively going through it, it really seems like your world is crashing in and you cannot get a break.

If you read or re-read my post, you know I researched Nutrafol and took the plunge to start my journey with them. Coupled with my #four-a-day (the number of CORE vitamins you take), I continued with my scalp massages with Righteous Roots. I started a better diet. Continued to exercise (even started doing yoga routinely). Went to bed earlier and woke up earlier so I didn’t start the day stressed. Took time to decompress. Started hiking. Talked with my husband. Talked with my parents. Talked with my friends. I accepted that I am good enough – even with issues or valleys. And I took my supplements.

These have become my daily regimen!

Low and behold – changes started to occur and the outlook is getting better! The more I took Nutrafol, even though those 4-a-day pills are no joke, and reinforced my CORE vitamins with stress combating supplements (I stopped those after month 1 for now), the more I noticed positive changes and they were not with just my hair. My nails have been growing like weeds. My skin is actually looking better than it did when I was in my 20s (though I continue to take collagen daily still). My weight has been steady but I have been finding muscles I didn’t know where hiding. Maybe TMI here but I am beyond “regular” now! I can sleep better. And yes, my hair has regrown!

Look at those baby hairs!!!!

I will continue to take these supplements and will do monthly check-ins. I would be remiss to mention that they have amazing customer service too – if I had questions, I would get an answer in less than 24 hours AND when I auto-delivery set up but still have a bottle from my erroneous ordering, they paused my account and refunded me so I don’t have multiple bottles collecting dust!

I am so excited to share on this journey. I know IG ads are great but when you are seeing it firsthand…I hope I can help you make an educated choice! Don’t forget to follow my new Instagram (@msbelladaniela) to see updates or live chats about my journey.

So inquiring minds want to know… Have you tried Nutrafol or Righteous Roots? Are you experiencing hair health issues? Have you tried any other supplements that have improved your growth, thickness, or reduced shedding?

Enhancing My Coffee

I am proud to call myself a coffee addict. I am not trying to be a part of Coffee Addicts Anonymous. But rather I am declaring my love for that morning wake-me-up. And I can almost say with 100% confidence that those around me love that I have my morning cup (or two since we are being honest) because without it I admit to limited functionality…and even some outbursts of aggression.

So I started to research some new additives for my coffee to change it up a little. I tried creamers which were quickly shot down because of the heaviness of the cream and the chemicals in many of the popular brands. I tried adding a shot or two of Starbucks sugar syrups only to realize how many empty calories I was consuming! I also came the realization that I don’t like my coffee that sweet anyway. I even tried switching up my milk selection and trying cashew, oat, almond – even went back to dairy for a bit. I then came across this ideaology called “Bulletproof Coffee” with the catchy headline that stated:

“It’s a high-performance drink that has a massive impact on your energy and cognitive function. Bulletproof Coffee has helped everyone from driven CEOs to professional athletes to busy parents increase their energy so they can do more of what fulfills them.”

Intrigued at the opportunity to essentially spike my coffee game and get an increase amount of energy that is supposed to last throughout the day, I jumped on the bandwagon.

I found a recipe online which consisted of the Bulletproof coffee (substituted for my Kirkland coffee), ghee (think butter fat) and bought the Brain Octane Oil on Amazon.

The results that are expressed on Bulletproof’s website state that I should experience the following:

1) Suppressed hunger. Brain Octane Oil balances ghrelin and CCK, your hunger hormones, keeping you full until lunch.

2) Steady lasting energy. The saturated fat in grass-fed butter slows the absorption of caffeine, which gives you even energy for several hours instead of a caffeine spike and crash. No jitters, either.

3) Mental clarity. Brain Octane rapidly converts to ketones, a type of molecule that your brain uses more efficiently than carbs or sugar.

Okay so I didn’t use the Bulletproof coffee but couldn’t justify paying $14.99+ for 12 ounces of grounded coffee beans. So I guess the question is if the ghee and oil helped? I bet you can guess the answer…

I tested out the oil component several ways over the course of a few weeks to give it a fair shake and I cannot notice a difference at all except that my coffee now leaves my lips moisturized and there looks to be a film on the top of my cup. I blended it and it did nothing to make it better other than a frothy cup of coffee -also nearly impossible to do during the week because it’s more of a pour and go in the morning. I added the ghee even though I am trying to be calorie conscientious because a little extra fat cannot hurt, right? Then I tried the oil without the ghee because why am I starting my day with extra literal fat.

I really gave this a go. I really wanted this to work because who wouldn’t want to jumpstart their day with extra energy, eliminate the brain fog (ESPECIALLy on Monday mornings), suppress my nagging cravings to snack… I even got my husband to give it a try and see if this was a hormonal thing. We tried it on weekends AND during the week (yep, even woke up earlier to dedicate the time to try this). We tried it on nights we slept well and nights were sleep alluded us. We tried it with frothy milk and with our regular cup. The end result was a major fail for us. 

Maybe I need to try this with the coffee but I still cannot bring myself to shell out the cash for the coffee grinds just yet. They did start to carry this brand at my local grocery store so if I can get my hands on a coupon, I’ll try it and see if that combination makes it better. But for now, I have to pass on this one.

So inquiring minds want to know…. Have you tried bulletproof coffee or brain octane oil? Have you ever added butter to your coffee? Do you add anything extra to your cup in the morning?

Zone Perfect Nutrition Bar Review

On a journey to find something healthy, something quick, and something tasty, I have been started the daunting task of buying different nutrition/protein bars. Below is my review of Zone Perfect Nutrition Bar.

Let me first start off with information on the product as can be found on Amazon:

  • PROTEIN: ZonePerfect Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Nutrition Energy bars are packed with 10 grams of protein to keep you going through your day
  • VITAMINS: A good source of 18 vitamins and minerals as well as antioxidants (Vitamins C, E, and Selenium) to help support your immune system
  • FLAVOR: Chunks of chocolate inside, drizzles of chocolate outside and the delicious doughy texture of cookie dough all throughout
  • INGREDIENTS: Our snack bars do not contain any artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols

Also, here is a list of their ingredients:

Brown Rice Syrup, Corn Syrup, Chocolate Drops (Sugar, Chocolate Liquor, Cocoa Butter, Soy Lecithin, Vanilla), Sodium Caseinate, Soy Protein Isolate, Sweet Cream Layer (Corn Syrup, Fructose, Palm Kernel Oil, Milk Protein Isolate, Natural Flavor, Salt, Soy Lecithin), Whey Protein Isolate, Brown Sugar, Pasteurized Whole Egg Powder, Fructose Syrup, Chocolate Flavored Coating (Sugar, Fractionated Palm Kernel Oil, Cocoa Powder [Processed with Alkali], Soy Lecithin, Nonfat Milk Powder, Vanilla), Glycerine, Less than 2% of the Following:, High Oleic Safflower Oil and/or High Oleic Sunflower Oil, Butter Powder (Butter [Cream, Salt], Nonfat Milk, Tocopherols, Ascorbyl Palmitate), Calcium Phosphate, Peanut Butter, Natural Flavor, Chocolate Powder (Natural Cocoa Powder, Sugar, Chocolate Liquor, Cocoa Butter, Soy Lecithin, Vanilla), Salt, Vitamin & Mineral Blend (Calcium Phosphate, Ascorbic Acid [Vit. C], Magnesium Oxide, dl-Alpha-Tocopheryl Acetate [Vit. E], Niacinamide [Vit. B3], Zinc Oxide, Calcium Pantothenate [Vit. B5], Ferrous Fumarate [Iron], Pyridoxine Hydrochloride [Vit. B6], Vitamin A Palmitate, Riboflavin [Vit. B2], Thiamine Mononitrate [Vit. B1], Folic Acid [Vit. B9], Chromium Chloride, Biotin [Vit. B7], Sodium Selenite, Sodium Molybdate, Cyanocobalamin [Vit. B12])


So now on to the actual review!

I bought these (thanks, Target) on a whim as I had heard of the Zone Diet and was intrigued that this came in several flavors including chocolate chip cookie dough and double dark chocolate. For those of you that do not know about the Zone Diet, you can click here for some information but essentially, like all diets, its mission is weight loss, its claim to fame is that you balance your hormone levels/blood sugar while staying “in the zone” and its process is complicated! I am definitely not advocating the Zone Diet, but I figured the bars were worth a try…

Now if you’ve ever had a meal replacement bar, a protein bar, or a “nutrition bar” you know those things can get hard like rocks, chewy like gum, or taste like chalk! Now, these bars actually taste good but my goodness are they sweet! Yes, I know I went for chocolate chip cookie dough but 18g of sugar in 1.58oz (45g) of a bar???? That’s 40% of the bar being nothing but sugar! How that adheres to the “zone diet” I have no idea because it must send your blood sugar levels through the roof! And yes, I know they say their bars “do not contain any artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols”. However, in the ingredients list has several syrups, sugars, oils, and butters which are definitely not good – plut the dreaded “natural flavor” is in there on repeat which is not good because it is essentially lab created but with “natural” components. Okay, let me say though that the bars do taste good overall and they are chewy without being rubbery!

Final thoughts – Would I buy these again? No. It’s not that they did not taste good but I do not feel full or sustainable after eating these. Typically a bar with 10-12g of protein should leave you feeling a bit more full than these do. Also, I am not one for sweets (I totally prefer savory snacks) so the fact that these are so sweet are a bit of a turnoff for me. I have also tried these pre- and post- workout and again, I do not feel satisfied so I am prone to eat again which is counterintuitive.

Cost – $15.99/12 bars (Amazon) or $8.99/10 (Target)