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!

Advertisements
Advertisements

Feminine Health – “It’s that time!”

“Aunt Rose”. “The Visitor”. “Aunt Flo”. “THAT THING”. “Period”. “Menstrual Cycle”. “That time of the month”.

Whatever you call it, ladies, we all have it – some more frequently than others, some heavier, but we all get it. So why have we not yet had a talk about what are some best practices for a healthier period?? Gentlemen, you are welcome to read on to help your sister, friend, significant other, but I also know that this is not the most ideal topic for you!

If you have ever watched TV, you know that our monthly cycles are quite the money makers with at least 1 add per 30 minute show being about the new “and totally innovative” feminine hygiene product that is now on the market! You are probably very familiar with the blue water that is supposed to mimic our monthly flow and how the shape of that cotton plug will mean you can do aerobatics and not have to worry about a leak.

But have you ever thought about what that gel core is really made of or how that plastic sheet is causing a rash during those hot summer months? Or have you ever researched what color cotton is – because it isn’t pure white unless you add bleach… Yeah, maybe that is a bit of TMI but I was fed up personally and with my endometriosis, tampons are not my best friend, so what options did I have??

So it was time for a little research and trial & error for a healthier alternative that I would be happy with and could stop poisoning my body every month. Below are just a few options I researched or tried and what is my new go-to for my monthly visit from my “Aunt Flo”!


Disclaimer: These images are stock photos are not mine. When possible, they are linked to the original source. Links within this post may be affiliate links but do not affect the outcome, price, or product.


Menstrual Cups (like Diva Cup)

This method is by far the most green option in that it is a silicone cup that is reusable after a simple wash. This usually comes in two sizes – small for those that have not had natural child birth (or a narrow cervix) and large for those that have had a child. However, Diva Cup has created a third size as well which is typically for those that are under 18. Usually they lack color or are pink, but can come in different colors.

The objective behind this is that it is inserted into the vaginal opening and will collect the menstrual flow. It can then be dumped, washed, and reinserted.

While the ideology behind this method is great, I personally cannot use these. As I mentioned before, tampons are uncomfortable for me, so this is not ideal for me – in fact there is a disclaimer on Diva Cup’s website to consult a healthcare provider if tampons are uncomfortable before using.


Organic Feminine Pads (like Cora)

This organic brand was one of the first that came up when I researched alternatives to standard period pads. While there were a few other brands, this one really jumped out to me. When researching the brand, the social responsibility that this company has is bar none – they actually help women in developing countries get feminine products so they no longer have to forgo school or work during their monthly cycle. They also have tampons with an applicator, bladder pads, and light liners!

These pads are SUPER thin and just the right size. They are very absorbent while still being organic cotton and adhesive so they don’t shift around. There is no feeling like a diaper, no odor, and it is very discreet. When you first order a supply, Cora sends a “pleather” wallet to hold several different pads that can discreetly be hidden into your purse. These are also stored neatly in a box that doesn’t showcase “Hi! I’m pads!” like most of the brightly colored pads nowadays.

I signed up for the 3-month pack which came out to only $12 for the month and I did not have to worry about going to the store – they were delivered directly to me, discreetly (not that I cared), and came within 3 days! Having extra meant that if I had a heavier cycle, I did not have to worry about running out. Having a 3-month supply at once meant that if my cycle was not regular, I would not have to send my husband to the store for me or scour the depths of my bathroom cabinet for that one that fell in the back (c’mon, I know I am not alone on this one). And I get to customize my pack to meet my needs so I do not have to buy 54 overnight pads that feel like diapers and take up a third of my cabinet space! In fact I just edited my upcoming delivery and delayed it a month because I have extra which dropped my monthly amount to $10/month.

If you are interested in giving Cora a try, click here to try a month’s worth for only $5! ALSO I just learned that Cora is sold at Target if you want to give it a try without subscribing just yet.

Another brand, that I have not yet tried as they are more expensive than Cora, is Lola. This company has other products like sexual protection, and “cramp care”.

Whichever option, menstrual cups or organic tampons/pads, making the switch is better for your health especially since it is something we have to do every month! I personally will never go back to standard products that you can buy in the drugstore!

So tell me if you have tried anything new for your monthly flow? Are you willing to make a healthier switch?

Hair Care – Repairing Damage

In yesterday’s post, we discussed some hair masks and a scrub that helps detoxify the scalp. While all of these products help the hair through moisture retention or protein sealing the hair shaft, there is a different type of product that helps strengthen damaged strands! It isn’t a miracle cure by any means, but it does overtime reverse the damage caused by bleaching, over-styling or heat styling. It does contain protein but works on a molecular level to repair damage versus a more superficial remedy. And again, this is good for ALL hair types though I know my fellow Curly Girls swear by this the most.

Introducing…

Now this is the 3rd step in what was originally a 3-step series of which the first two are only available to salon professionals. Bond Perfector (also known as Number 3 or No. 3) is available for at-home use and does work by itself overtime, though combining it with the benefits of the bond multiplier (No. 1) and bond perfector (No. 2) yields even better results and more rapidly.

Recently, the Olaplex company has added additional products that help strengthen, repair, and reverse damage.
Now I know you read in the prior paragraph about No. 1 and No. 2 and thought – “shampoo and conditioner…really now?” BUT No. 1 and No. 2 are not the shampoo and conditioner products – that is why they have to be applied by a professional. Recently, Olaplex introduced No. 4 and No. 5 which are the shampoo and conditioner products, respectively. However they are not standard cleansing products but rather serve as bond maintenance items prolonging the benefits that 1-3 (or just 3 alone) have done.
Even more recently, No. 6 and No. 7, which are the leave-in styling creme (bond smoother) and styling oil (bonding oil), respectively, have been added to the at-home line of products. I have not tested either of these so I cannot speak to their benefits yet!

But back to my trusty bottle of No. 3… This treatment, not a conditioner or leave-in styling product, is applied as a mask to reduce breakage, strengthen hair, and improve its resiliency. Whenever I highlight my hair or notice that it is breaking a lot due to stress/heat/water damage, I use this treatment to help my hair bounce back.

How do I apply it
I always wash my hair and leave it clean and damp/dry before applying any of my treatments. Any of the products I use for daily styling can counteract the treatments/masks and prevent my hair from getting the full benefits!
Step 1: Wash & almost fully dry hair without any additional products post-shower.
Step 2: Apply the equivalent of 2-3 tbsp to the hair – you want this to saturate your hair without globbing off.
Step 3: Comb or use a Denman (all my curly girls know what this is) brush to ensure coverage throughout hair – yep, that means roots too.
Step 4: Let it sit for a minimum, though not recommended for more than 30, of 10 minutes.
Step 4a: I personally use my heat cap whenever adding a mask or treatment to help it penetrate better but this is totally optional.
Step 5: Rinse throughly. Shampoo. Condition. – Yep, unlike the masks from yesterday you shampoo/condition with this treatment.
Step 6: Style as usual.

After applying this, even after I color my hair, I notice that my hair is softer, more supple, and stronger. It does not weight my hair down because it is a treatment that bonds to the hair itself and doesn’t just coat the outer layer.

And if you doubt its benefits on straight hair… My mother has VERY straight hair and has her stylist apply step 1 & 2 before she leaves the salon every time they color and/or highlight. She will then follow-up with No. 3 at home. The results have been amazing! She is shedding less, breaking less, and you can see her hair is able to handle styling (including heat) much better than before she introduced Olaplex.

So give it a try! Yes, you can buy it online or you can find a salon near you but I would not recommend buying this from other vendors (think Walmart, Amazon…) as they are not guaranteeing the product is the same as the real deal!

If you try it and have before/after pictures, please send them to me! I would love to showcase you in a future post! If you have any questions or other product suggestions, please let me know! Just comment below and I will give it a go and let you know the results – I’ll be your personal tester.

Curly Hair 103 – Product Review (Masks & Scrub)

So if you have curly hair, scratch that, honestly if you have hair then you realize that there are times that your scalp needs a little extra TLC or that your hair strands are a little less than ideal. Sometimes you may need a little extra protein and other times you just need some moisture (especially when it is 105 and less than 20% humidity). Then there are times where your product build up leaves you with flakes, itchiness, and even irritation and fall out. So what do you do?

About six months ago, I took the plunge and tried out a raved about line of products from Rawkyn – the clay hair mask (aka RED), the green tea hair mask (aka Green), and the detoxifying scalp scrub (aka Gold). The only product that I have yet to try is their deep treatment mask (aka Vanilla). These are all purchased directly from Rawkyn and arrived to me in less than a week (please do not order from non-vendor sites like Amazon as they are not official distributors yet). Below are overviews, application techniques, and reviews on each item for my 3a/3b type hair in hopes they may help you as well!

Disclaimer: I am not paid for this review nor am I receiving any non-monetary incentives. The pictures below are stock photos from the company’s website.

The RED clay mask is the most popular item from Rawkyn. At first, I was very skeptical to try this because clay is historically drying for my hair but with the multitude of other ingredients, like murumuru butter, chamomile, coconut oil, and sage, I wanted to give it a try. Now, this is not for protein sensitive individuals as this does contain protein (coconut oil) but is significantly less than their other hair masks. This is currently sold for $26.99 for 8oz.

I applied this to my hair after cleansing and when it was fully dry. You can apply this before washing too but with product build-up and oil build-up, I wanted to give this a try on fully fresh hair. I used the equivalent of about 2 tbsp for my entire hair because a little really goes go a long way. I started off by leaving this on for 20 minutes (eventually I increased to 30 on my second trial) before rinsing out. I did use my heat cap as well with a shower cap in between as this red clay is very pigmented (I thought my hair would be a strawberry color when I was done). After 20 minutes, I rinsed it out in the shower until the water ran clear (this took about 3-5 minutes to make sure everything came out). I then applied my normal products.

Overall, I liked this mask a lot. I did notice that it detoxed my hair a bit but did not leave it dry. It was very soft after rinsing out the mask. The color is very pigmented though so it did stain my towel a bit so make sure to really rinse everything out. It also helped my hair not need as much moisturizing product after rinsing. I have used this a couple of times now and there has been very positive outcomes though I would recommend this every other week and not weekly for 3a hair as it is an intense moisturizer and can weigh the hair down a bit.

The GREEN mask is the most protein enriched mask in the Rawkyn line. This is still moisturizing, like the RED mask but the emphasis is on protein to help rejuvenate lifeless or dull locks. This product is also good for sensitive skin users because of its plant-based proteins and lack of added fragrances (it is naturally fragrant). The natural ingredients in the mask do get darker in pigment as the mask is oxygenated, but it does not change the benefits in the mask. It is currently on sale for $27.99 for 8oz.

Just like its RED counterpart, I applied this mask after washing my hair and once it was dry. It is not recommended to apply this mask on anything other than freshly washed/dried hair because of its protein penetrating ingredients. Now I am naturally protein-sensitive so I opted to keep this masks on for only 10 minutes, but you can leave it up to 30 though the most commonly time frame is 20 minutes. I applied about 2 tbsp worth to my whole hair, put on the shower cap, and my heat cap. I then rinsed thoroughly after the 10 minutes were up until the water ran clear (it starts off a brownish-green). Do not shampoo/condition after rinsing it out.

Being protein sensitive, I do not use this mask regularly. In fact if you opened my jar right now, it would look almost new but slightly darker than a new jar. I apply this once a month or so when I notice that my curl pattern is weak or my hair is starting to lose luster or shed more than normal. It left my hair very hydrated and soft. The first time I applied too much and my curls were a bit stretched (you have to find a happy point as every curl is different) but subsequent times were more beneficial. I noticed that after applying significantly less product after rinsing and refreshing on day 2, my hair was actually a tighter curl than normal looking more 3b/3c.

This GOLD scalp scrub is amazing! By far, this my favorite product especially when my scalp is extra dry or if I have product build up. A little goes a long way as it contains ingredients like apple cider vinegar, grape seed oil, green tea leaf extract, apple fruit aromatic extract, and exfoliates. Be careful if you have sensitive skin, however, as it does contain acids (apple cider vinegar) and added fragrances. It comes in a 6oz jar for $20.99

Applied to dry uncleaned hair, this is the easiest product from Rawkyn to apply! It is meant to really clean without stripping your hair or leaving it greasy/oil. I part my hair in sections, scoop a dollop, and apply directly to my scalp where I run it in through circular motions. I then apply to the remaining sections and eventually smooth whatever remains on my hands through the length of the hair before massages the whole head for another 2-3 minutes (usually with my scalp massage device). Once it sits for another 15-30 minutes, I rinse it out with warm water before shampooing.

Once you rinse this off, you can actually feel your scalp breathe as silly as that may sound. I use this almost weekly for my wash days because of how effective it is without having to dry out my hair completely. The apple cider is not extremely potent and the smell does not remain on your hair once it is rinsed out. There are little sugar exfoliates that help slough off the dead skin, product, and invigorate your scalp which also aides in growth!

I have not yet tried the Vanilla product as that is only available in small quantities throughout the year but is a lighter GREEN mask in that it is a protein-enriched product. Once I work through the GREEN mask and the Vanilla goes on sale, I will update you all with that information as well.


Overall, these are great products but I am a repeat users of the scrub without a doubt! They are natural products that pack quite a punch. Yes, they are a bit expensive but with the amount you use, it is worth it! In fact, my husband even uses these now for his 3c/4a hair and he sings their praises as well!

Do you have any products that you are using that I should give a try? Are you going to try any of the items mentioned above?? What hair conditions are you experiencing that you want me to write about next? Comment below!

Amazon Favorites – June

Wait a second…it is already the second half of the year?! I swear that when I was a kid, in school, 180 days took FOREVER to come and go but now that I am an adult, I blink and it is already a year later. I cannot believe it is less than 150 days left till December 1st!

Okay, so since it is July, it is time for the monthly Amazon favorites for the month of June. Starting next month, this series will include non-Amazon favorites too and I’ll try to link them or find the closest match!

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!

Now on to the favorites!

I want to start off with a new skin tool that I have started to use in the past couple of weeks and will be posting about it in detail after using it for a month. This item, to date, has been showing me a lot of results on clearing my skin from discoloration, redness, sub-dermal breakouts, and overall texture. It is not for the faint of heart as it does cause breaking of the skin, but my derma roller has been great! It comes in sanitary packaging and does require you to clean it with rubbing alcohol before and after use, but it has helped my skin turnover faster, sloughing off dead skin cells and generating collagen. I highly recommend this derma roller to anyone that is starting out. It is only $19.99 and currently has a $2 off coupon through Amazon, plus it is prime!

So I finally did it. I broke my pizza cutter after making homemade, vegetarian pizza almost every week. So I scoured the depths of Amazon to find this cutter wheel and it has been amazing thus far! It easily packs up so you do not cut yourself when searching through your utensils and doesn’t require the strength of the Hulk to cut! It also comes apart completely so you can get a deep clean. It is only $10.99 and comes in three different colors – blue, green, and red.

There is nothing like fresh coffee in the morning. In fact, if I did not have my morning cups (yep, cups as in 2), the world is not safe! But what is even better is freshly grounded coffee that is even more rich and robust. Recently on a Costco trip, we purchased local coffee that was roasted but whole bean. Instead of grinding it at Costco for free, we got a small but highly effective grinder that grinds the perfect amount for one carafe worth of coffee so there isn’t excess that loses its flavor. This grinder only costs $19/97 AND there is currently a 5% off coupon. It can also be used to grind spices if you are so inclined and cleans up easily! It is a little noisy but only takes a few seconds to grind it all the way so it isn’t too obtrusive.

If you get the occasional breakout, especially if you are a woman around that time of the month, then this product will be a life saver for you too! I bought this 24 pack of acne patches that are spot treatments for overnight use. They are a little thick but once you put it on, you can barely see anything at all. They work through various oils including tea tree, calendula and rosehip to pull out the bacteria and dirt and reduce the breakout! Because it is a hydrocolloid patch, it works without over drying your skin and easily peels off int he morning. And even I, a completely wild sleeper, have not taken one off during the night so I know it’ll work for you too! It is only $7.50 for 24 patches and comes in a resealable package so you do not have to use them all at once! There is also an AM version that is thinner and even more discreet if you need to wear a patch during the day.

Even if you shop organic, you should ALWAYS wash your fruits and vegetables. Between packing, shipping, and shelving, even the most green products can interact with chemicals and dirt which could have harmful reactions. This is part of the reason why I never eat a grape out of the bag and always wash my produce with white vinegar and water even IF the packaging says it has been washed. So to help with some of those harder produce items like potatoes, peaches, apples, and so on, I have this vegetable brush. It is soft enough that it doesn’t damage the item but strong enough that with a little soap, it really cleans up the produce. And for $5.99, I make sure to replace this every 3 months to prevent bacterial build-up. It is ergonomic too so it fits nicely in any hand size.

In keeping up with keeping everything clean, I recently re-purchased bottle cleaning brushes for all of those odd shaped bottles we now use. For example, our Ninja coffee carafe cannot easily be cleaned with a sponge nor can our 40oz water bottles we use for the gym. So we purchased this brush set, for only $11.98 (plus a current coupon for $2.00 off), really helps clean even the smallest crevice in the weirdest shaped bottle. We also replace these every few months, but they really last even with our daily use and our hard water! I would really recommend purchasing this set if you have any of those reusable straws or oblong bottles!

Last but not least for June is another re-purchase and another skin care item! Some of you know that being Armenian means that well, being hairy is common! But that doesn’t mean that I have to like it. I use these facial razors for derma-planing or facial shaving. No, this is not like my husband’s razor and NO the hair does not grow back thicker or darker. In fact, the hair has been growing back less frequently and in smaller patches. I will do a video on how I derma-plane but this set is only $4.80 for 6 and since I throw these out monthly so as to not incur a build-up of bacteria, it is a great deal.

I have also recently subscribed to Amazon’s new Prime Wardrobe program and will be doing a test of the items they have sent and how on point my stylist was with my wishes. Stay tuned for an update next week!

Have you tried any of these products or will you be?? If you would like to see any of these items in action, please let me know. I am working on creating my schedule for videos and want to know what you want to see! Also if there are any items you think I should give a try, comment below!

Healthy Lifestyle – Traveling Tips & Tricks

It is that time of the year that we are all loading up our cars, packing our suitcases, boarding planes (or trains)… No matter what your mode of transportation, summer is the time of year that traveling amps up! And as someone that has traveled a lot for work (and personal), there have been a few tips and tricks that I have learned along the way to help keep me healthy! Plus most of these can be purchased ahead of time for those holiday trips that are just around the corner!

Disclaimer: Some of these items do have an affiliate link but does not impact your experience or the price. They solely allow me to continue to bring you new reviews and new topics!

I am not a “germ-a-phobe” BUT there are a lot of very nasty surfaces that you come in contact with constantly when traveling. And some of these surfaces are the last place you would think would be ridden with germs, but in fact are worse than toilet seats in a public rest area! For example, the serving tray on the plane is seldom cleaned and I have seen people use it for everything from a food tray to a changing table for their baby to a foot rest… Or if you’re in a hotel, that remote is worse than the bottom of your shoes! So the one thing I ALWAYS pack with me and keep readily available are these wipes that I repeat purchase. I wipe down these surfaces to make sure I don’t pick up any unnecessary germs!

When you’re on a plane, especially a night flight, there is nothing better than getting in a few Zzz’s. But admit it -those U-shaped pillows are basically pointless because you are already crammed in a seat that is not meant for the average human being, you sure won’t be able to lean your head back comfortably! That is why I splurged on this Trtl Pillow that allows me to sleep in a more realistic position for me while keeping my head from whacking the person next to me. There is an updated model coming that allows you to even customize your neck length for an even more comfortable position.

Trying to sleep with that amazing pillow but the lights in the plane bothering you? I bought this pack of eye masks to help block out the light without compressing my eyes or nose. They fold up easily and can be packed away when not in use. They are not tight and can be adjusted as they secure with Velcro. I even use these at home on some nights!

If you’re flying, even if it is a short flight, the air in the plane is brutal for your skin, hair, nails, but most importantly, your eyes! Many people overlook the eyes when flying but the cabin pressure that is drying out your skin is also drying out your eyes. I use these preservative free eye drops every time I fly so my eyes are refreshed, not blood shot! Also, if you wear contact lenses, opt for glasses on your flight – the dryness can damage your contacts just as much as your eyes!

I have made it a rule to NEVER drink and fly -and that includes carbonated beverages as well as adult drinks. When you’re flying, the air pressure changes the molecular compound of these carbonated drinks so they expand MORE and will cause gas and discomfort for the consumer. And alcohol is a dehydrator on land so up in the air it is amplified! So instead I pack my water bottle and fill it up when I get passed TSA. Sometimes I can even get Starbucks, or a like company, to fill it up if the airport does not have a bottle machine. Because this is plastic and clear, I never have a hard time with TSA and it doesn’t break…even when I try to cram my bag under the seat in front of me!

Dry eyes, covered. Hydration, covered. Now what about your skin??? There are a few items I use to keep my skin hydrated and clean on long trips, including road trips! Starting with hands (and arms, elbows…), this is the cream I always have in my purse! It is travel-appropriate (3oz) so it does not cause any problems with TSA. This moisturizer also is pH balanced so it does not OVER moisturize (when your hands feel greasy) and can be layered if needed.

For my face, I know some people use sheet masks (especially international flights), but I cannot get passed the Halloween look and my skin is very sensitive so I do not want to do anything to over aggravate it, which many sheet masks do. So instead I use a combo serum and cream that I will apply after wiping down my face (I use these wipes to make sure I have a clean face). Both sink into my skin nicely and is easy to apply. It isn’t overly oily nor does it have much of a scent, so you aren’t bothering your neighbor!

Like to fly by the window with the shade up? While this is deemed the best seat to prevent contracting airborne germs, most of the time people forget that just because you are behind a window, that does not mean you are immune to those sun rays! Think about the fact that you are essentially in a sardine can, up about 30,000 feet in the air, above the white clouds (think about how snow reflects sun and you can easily sunburn in winter)… You need to wear sunscreen – especially on your face!! I use this mineral sunscreen after applying my moisturizer and it is so lightweight that it doesn’t aggravate my skin! It also is compact and doesn’t dust everywhere so again, no disruptions to your neighbor!

Your hair is also wiped of its moisture when flying, so of course I have a remedy for that! While I use these hair ties that prevent creasing or damaging my curl pattern, they work very well in keeping my hair up (in a pineapple) and away from the frizz-causing headrest. I also apply a few drops of this Moroccan Oil to tame the flyaways and add moisture. It is easy to apply and is light-weight. While it does have a light scent, it dissipates quickly as well so your neighbor shouldn’t be too bothered.

Do you have any tried and true tips or products you use when traveling? Share them with me below! Have you ever tried any of the items above or used any of those tips?? Comment below!!

Smoothie Recipe – Chai Tea Latte

Instead of downing a third (*or more*) cup of coffee this morning, I opted to make a smoothie with a little variation and a hint of caffeine! This one takes a little prep work, but the final result was a big hit! I can only imagine how much better this would be with fall temperatures outside instead of 90s…

Now bare in mind that the recipe below equated to about 4-12oz servings so you will want to customize this for your own serving size.

Ingredients:
6 bags of chai tea (I used Tazo tea bags)
4 Tbsp of chia seeds
1 whole cinnamon stick (I broke it in half)
8 cups of water
1 banana
2 scoops SuperGreens
2 scoops Combat Protein Powder
2 Tbsp Maca Powder
1 scoop collagen powder
2 Tbsp flax powder
8 oz almond milk (I use Silk Unsweetened Original)
Ice

The night before – I used my handy-dandy Instant Pot to cook my chai tea base by filling my 6qt with 8 cups of cold water, 1 cinnamon stick, and 6 bags of chai tea. I “cooked” it for 6 minutes and let it naturally release. Once the pin dropped, I scooped out the tea bags and cinnamon sticks and added 4 tbsp of chia seeds, covered the pot and stuck it in the fridge.
The morning of – Mix the rest of the ingredients, along with the now cold chai tea and ENJOY!

Smoothie Recipe – Happy 4th of July!

In honor of the hot temperatures and Independence Day, I decided to do a patriotic smoothie blend this morning that is quite refreshing and delicious! This is definitely a good way to kick off the festivities, especially since I will be on “smoothie vacation” the rest of the week!

Today’s concoction looks purple but is chalk full of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. It is naturally sweet with a hint of a tang from the berries. I made it this morning in my NutriBullet and for my 32oz bottle and it took me less than 5 minutes from start to finish!

Ingredients:
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 cup strawberries
1/3 cup blackberries
1/8 cup coconut chips (unsweetened from Trader Joe’s)
1/4 cup beets (I buy the frozen pack from Trader Joe’s)
12 oz of coconut water
8 oz of almond milk
1 scoop protein
1 scoop collagen powder
1 scoop of Power Greens
1 tbsp Maca powder

I really can tell that these smoothies have been helpful in my day to day life and in my health journey. Between, and yes this is oversharing but we are all family here, being more regular to the increase in energy to the curbed food cravings, I really look forward to my morning smoothie.

Do you have any plans for the 4th of July? Any go-to recipes for the holiday that I should try? Are you going to give this recipe a try?? Comment below!

Fiscal Health – Updates and Apps

Some of you that read my post on “No Spend Week”, know that my household has opted to have one week where, unless it is a bill or medical, we do not spend money! That means no frivolous expenses, no outside meals, and no grocery shopping! While we will be starting our second No Spend Week on July 9th (through July 16th), I have learned a few helpful tips & tricks as well as wanted to share our results from our first run!

Update
Overall, drum roll please, we saved about $250 during our first No Spend Week!
How?
We did not grocery shop at all! We did some fresh produce shopping on the Sunday before our week started and then reverted to eating the food items we already had on hand. It did force us to get a little creative with our meal planning (see my take on a burrito bowl dinner) but we did not find ourselves tossing any expired goods and started to cleanup our deep freezer items!
Another way we saved is putting some of our desired items on ice and came back to them a week later. We did this in three ways: first we literally just put items in our online shopping carts and then closed out of the page; secondly, we put items on our grocery list so we knew exactly what we needed when we could shop again (added bonus is we had the time to go through our cabinets, fridge, and freezer before adding an item to the list or purchasing only to find out we already had it at home); and thirdly, I put things on ice meaning I could not even add it to my shopping cart!
The last way that we saved is through finding free things to do with each other. So instead of going out to eat, we cooked at home -together. We played video games, watched Netflix, went to the gym, played with the dogs, went on walks, and other fun things at home that we normally have to try and squeeze into the day.

Apps
So I mentioned that I learned a few tips and tricks during this time to help us save those big bucks. Some of the tips are apps that we never really got around to researching before while another is an extension I was able to add to my browser (Chrome).

Starting off with “putting things on ice” – introducing Icebox. This extension is free to add to your Chrome browser and reduces your impulse buying at many online retailers like eBay, Amazon, and Sephora. How it works is it literally replaces the “add to cart” button with “put on ice” and it saves it for you depending on the “thaw” period you set, with the recommended 30 days window as a default. This means that those impulse buys you may regret later or even forgot you ordered when you’re scrolling through the Amazon abyss at 2 AM instead of sleeping, will be saved instead of purchased so when the thaw period is over, you may find yourself realizing you don’t need that hipster cat throw pillow after all. But if there is an item that you really need to purchase, you can override Icebox and purchase the item!

Another two extensions that I automatically added to my browser for those times that I can shop help me save money by either offering cashback or adding coupon codes that I did not previously have. These two extensions are Ebates (which is now called Rakuten) and Honey. Just install and when you are shopping, these two extensions will automatically notify you when they can save you money!

There are three main apps that we have been using lately to help us save money through scanning our receipts, and in the case of the latter two, matching them up with savings within the app for additional money in our pockets.

  • Receipt Hog – This also has a Chrome extension and can automatically link to your Amazon purchase and email, With this app, you get tokens that you can redeem for cash through a visa gift card, PayPal, or an Amazon gift card.
  • Fetch Rewards – This app scans your receipts for points and can link up with additional savings. You can also make money for gift cards at several retailers or donate your profits to charity.
  • ibotta – When you scan your receipt with this app and match it to a number of specific, or general, products, you will get money added to your account that you can cash out after accruing $20. Some items that are specific to a brand can save you up to $4+ dollars while some of the “any” items will save you less but you can still save money and those pennies add up!

So for our first No Spend Week, we were able to do a lot with a little and decided that we will be doing this every month! This is a good way to take back some control in an economy that strives on spending! Plus we get to take our debt down and save more by finding ways to use our time more effectively and get back to basics.

Disclaimer: Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate and will pay me through a sign-up or utilization bonus. This does not impact your experience or my honest review of the services.

Please share with me any tips you have used to curb your spending and if any of these methods are tools you will use for yourself.

Smoothie Update – Quick Morning Protein Coffee

Parting is such sweet sorrow, but alas, the time has come!

With a lot going on in my life, finances, traveling, reorganization, and, if we are being honest, the need for more time for myself, I must bid adieu to the “Smoothie Club”. But fear not! The Smoothie recipes, especially the new recipes I try (like an upcoming Chia Latte or Maple or Pumpkin in the coming months) will be posted on here. Like today’s simple yet satisfying smoothie:

Vanilla Coffee Latte:
– 1 Cup black coffee
– 1 Cup Almond Milk
– 1 Scoop Protein Powder (I use Combat Protein Powder)
– 1 Tbsp Maca Powder
– 1 Tbsp Grounded Flax
– 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
– 1 Tsp Grounded Cinnamon
– 1 Scoop Collagen Powder
– 1/2 Banana
– Ice

For several months now, I have had a number of my friends ask me to make them the shakes that I drink as they have noticed a significant difference in my physique, my energy levels, and my skin. I had no problem with helping them on their journeys as well, so was born the “Smoothie Club”. However, there is always a cost associated with these smoothies…and time. Now I may sound a little conceited but my time is valuable and I need time to focus on many juggling priorities including my well being. So while I continue to write content about a healthy lifestyle, I need to practice what I preach.

In fact, I will be starting my workout regimen on here which has been super basic but yielded high results. I will also be adding some food recipes including some video footage – just bear with me as I am still no YouTube sensation! Additionally, I will be showcasing some other exciting content including my recent financial health series and some tried & true tests which will include my personal review of items from makeup to skin care to hair care and so much more.

So I hope you continue to join me on my journey for a healthy lifestyle and all the components thereof including financial, mental, physical, and spiritual! And if there are any topics or products you would like for me to look into, please let me know in the comments below!