A Few Of My Favorite Things #1

I order from Vitacost at least every other month to ensure we are well-stocked on products we love. I’ve made quite a few purchases there recently, and thanks to $40 in coupon codes, I couldn’t pass up getting some of our favorite goodies. Below are five items that my husband and I simply cannot live without:

  1. The perfect base to a delicious smoothie. friday fave 1I still very much love the Garden of Life Raw Meal protein powder, but this whole meal shake is the bomb dot com. We mix it with some unsweetened chocolate almond milk, hemp and chia seeds, PB Fit powder, a banana or two, and a handful of greens for a morning meal that really does hold us over for a few hours. The ingredients are so simple, and yet the taste makes you wonder what it is in it that makes you want more.
  2. A healthier Oreo. friday fave 1 I know I know. Why buy a fake Oreo when the real ones are so good? Don’t get me wrong; Oreos are delicious, but I also know how terrible they are for my body. Palm oil, enriched flour, and high fructose corn syrup are not things I need to ingest when I want a treat. These Newman’s Own cookies have replaced Oreos in this household, and the best part is my husband actually prefers them! #wifewin
  3. The perfect dry shampoo. friday fave 1Truthfully, I have lost count of all the dry shampoos I have tried. Batiste, Psst, and Not Your Mother’s are just a few, but I have also tried plain cornstarch and baby powder as well. Nothing works as well as this one by Acure Organics. My hair is chemically treated, blonde, fine, and oily all at the same time, which makes finding products that work a challenge. I bought this on a whim a few months ago and love it. It actually gives my hair a bit of volume, and although it falls flat by lunch, I’ll take a few hours of successful second day hair than none at all. Depending on your hair type, you will either love this product or hate it, but for my thin hair, it works better than all the others I have tried.
  4. A clarifying shampoo that works in hard water. friday fave 1My husband and I moved to West Virginia three years ago, and my hair has never fully adjusted to the horrible hard water we have in our area. I have invested in expensive Malibu clarifying shampoo, a chlorine removing one by Paul Mitchell, and tried simple baking soda and apple cider vinegar, but nothing worked. In fact, the Malibu shampoo destroyed my hair to the point I went through two deep conditioners before it felt like hair again. This one by Avalon Organics cleans my hair without stripping it of its natural oils, and if I follow up with a deep conditioner, it actually looks good air dried. When that happens, a product is automatically a win-win in my book.
  5. A perfect price point body lotion. friday fave 1When it comes to body lotion, I don’t want anything sticky, heavy, or too fragrant, yet it has to work. I have went through three bottles of this lotion and will continually repurchase it. Not only does 32 ounces last six months easily, but the hydration lasts all day. The ingredients are trustworthy too, which makes me feel more confident in the product since the skin, the largest organ in the body, is what’s absorbing it.

There you have it: Five products my husband and I cannot live without. What are some of your favorites?

*Vitacost referral link: http://goo.gl/ykAyVW

 

Words to the Young

For my 28th birthday in February, my husband bought us tickets to see Florida Georgia Line, a country duo I have been obsessing over since “Cruise” blew up the radio in 2012. I finally got to experience my birthday present last night, and I must say: I haven’t felt that old in a very long time. The younger crowd didn’t know the lyrics to the Backstreet Boys covers, I was yawning by 8:30 (side note: The concert started at 7:00), and I kept wishing ear plugs would be readily available because my ears would not stop ringing. I also found myself wanting to look at some of the girls in the crowd and say, “Please keep your shirt down and your pants up. No one needs to see that.” Ten years ago, I would have never thought to say that to anyone. After all, I was only 18 at the time, which was roughly the same age most of the concert-goers appeared to be. Anyway, all day I have been thinking about things I want my future daughters to know, not just about themselves, but other people as well. They’ll be 18 one day and then 28 another, and it’s extremely important they keep some basic things in mind whatever age you are.

  1. Seriously. Keep your shirt down and your pants around your waist. I don’t care how if you are an “A” cup or a “D” cup: Keep them covered. Someday, your husband will be asking to see more of them, so save the show for marriage. Oh, and the super low waist pants that were so popular 15 years ago? They aren’t anymore. The high waisted mom jeans are back.
  2. Comfort really is key. I cannot tell you how many times I would laugh at my mom for telling me to bring different shoes, pack a jacket, and wear a comfy pair of pants. Now, her words of wisdom are all coming back, and I was extremely grateful to be in jeans, a casual shirt, and sneakers last night. Do you really think the woman who came out of the bathroom continuously adjusting her romper was comfortable? How about the 5 inch stilettos a girl wore while walking like The Hunchback of Notre Dame because she couldn’t stand up straight? You’ll thank me when you aren’t stumbling around barefoot in the parking garage at 11:30 at night, which yes, we did witness as well.
  3. Cake face is not flattering. I enjoy makeup as much as anyone else who semi knows how to properly apply it, and I do love that my features can be enhanced with some CC cream, eyeshadow, liner, and mascara. However, piling on loads and loads of foundation to the point where there are cracks in it is not flattering, on anyone. It’s okay to learn how to apply it; I’m 28 and still don’t know my undertones or what shade I am. However, do yourself a favor and go light on the makeup. Your skin will thank you when you get older, and you can go through your night not worrying if everything looks right. Trust me, you’re beautiful the way you are.
  4. Stop growing up so fast. I was a teenager once, and kudos to you for being one in today’s day in age. There is pressure from every angle to dress a certain way, have the best smartphone, and fit in with the crowd. You know what? Those who don’t pressure you are the ones worthy of your time, not the ones who want you to be someone you’re not. You will end up falling in love with yourself and be who you truly are, and when you do, I can’t wait to see the person you become.
  5.  Bring ear plugs to live music events. I cannot begin to tell you how important your hearing is, and don’t risk losing it by not bringing something as basic as ear plugs to a concert. If you wear your hair down, no one will even see them in your ears!

I am fairly certain that as time goes on, especially when my husband and I do have children, there will be other advice I want them to learn. My mother was a genius and taped motivational and inspirational quotes to my bedroom door as a teenager. Every time I opened it, I would be reminded of how loved I was and how I didn’t have to be anybody that I wasn’t. Does this mean I didn’t want to impress people? No, definitely not. I spent so much time worrying about what jeans to wear with what shirt that looking back, I realize that things would have been simpler if I had just had a smaller wardrobe.

In all seriousness, I wouldn’t want to be a teenager today. Heck, I struggle enough as an adult who is closer to 30 than her mid-20’s. Social media is much stronger now than it was even 10 years ago when I was 18, and teenagers are hit with pressure to post the perfect Instagram photo or catch that perfect Snapchat. It is okay to not conform to what everyone else is doing and simply be yourself. After all, who can be better at being you but you?

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the concert was an incredible birthday present. It was announced that Florida Georgia Line will be touring with the Backstreet Boys later this year, so I just need to find another good excuse for my husband to buy me those tickets….

 

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In honor of being together for six years, here’s a throwback to us after dating for a grand total of 8 days. Talk about being young!!

FabFitFun, Spring 2017 box

A few months ago, I wrote a post on FabFitFun, a seasonal subscription box filled with lifestyle, fitness, beauty, and skincare products. This subscription comes four times a year, and you can choose to buy each box whenever you want or pay the annual fee in January, which saves you roughly $20 a year. I will put a referral link below if you are interested in trying out this subscription service. I get $15 credit, but you also get money off your first order. It’s like a surprise at your doorstep four times a year! This spring box was valued at $374, which is insane since I paid $45 for it. If you try it out or have tried it, let me know what you think!

Referral Link: http://xo.fff.me/fiFNX

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Best box ever. The round blanket is gorgeous and valued at $50!

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The box is always well packaged and organized.

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Briogeo Rosarco Milk Reparative Leave-In Conditioning Spray, Valued at $20

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Deborah Lippmann nail polish set, Valued at $19. This is a cruelty free product! 

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Shade #1

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Shade #2

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Dr. Brandt Microdermabrasion Age Defying Exfoliator, Valued at $79. This scrub has aluminum oxide crystals of parabens to polish your skin!

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Karuna Hydrating Sheet Masks, set of 4, Valued at $28

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RealHer Lip Kit in Neutral Pink, Valued at $48

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Milly Zip Pouch, $45

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LuvAJ, Diamond Kite Crawler Earring Set, Valued at $85

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ADD IN: Hair, Skin, and Nails Gummies

 

Shea Moisture Bathtime

Baths are not just for children anymore. A good bath can calm the mind, cleanse the skin, and provide the ultimate state of relaxation at the end of a long work day. Today, it was just what I needed, and I want to share the two products that made it so wonderful.

First, purchase a bathtub pillow that suctions to the tub. It will make laying down so much more comfortable. I found mine at TJ-Maxx for $6 and it works great. Second, invest in quality bath products that are more natural and not filled with toxins. It is very easy to get an infection due to sitting in still water for an extended period of time, so it is best to use natural products that won’t cause irritation or aggravate your skin. Essential oils work wonders, but if you’re like me and enjoy bubbles, there are tons of high quality bubble baths on the market. I love adding Epsom salts to help soothe any tight muscles and help me relax. Tonight, I used a new Bubble Bath and LOVED it. I’m very familiar with the Shea Moisture brand and am usually impressed with their products. This one was no exception. It provided more bubbles than any other one I use, which is saying something for sure. Shea Moisture products are cruelty free, nontoxic, and consist of fair trade and organic ingredients. How is that for something you can find at your local drugstore?  I highly recommend their products!

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My bath pillow with the bubble bath. The stuff works wonders.

Details on the bubble bath can be found here: http://www.ulta.com/african-water-mint-bubble-bath-body-wash?productId=xlsImpprod15691657

*What are your favorite ways to relax and/or products? Please let me know! 🙂

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Vitacost Haul

I believe I’ve only mentioned this site once on here, which is certainly not the same amount of times I have placed a Vitacost order within the last few months. With the exception of Thred Up, Vitacost may be my favorite online store. #healthynerdstatus101

For those who may not be familiar with Vitacost, imagine Whole Foods or your local health food store online, at your fingertips, and delivered to your doorstep. Plus, prices are (usually) cheaper than health food stores, which is necessary for the wallet of a medical school family. On occasion, some of the products can be found at TJ-Maxx and Marshalls, but generally speaking, Vitacost is more affordable. Paleo, gluten free, or simply trying to save money: This site is for you. I place an order every few months to restock our shelves with common toiletries and staple food items that are always in our house. Plus, it’s always fun to pick up a few new things every now and then!

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Needed a new pill holder to store my vitamins each day. Figured one that can hold 20 pills will do the trick!

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Forget the Clarisonic. I swear by konjac sponges and their benefits for the skin. Plus, they’re biodegradable when thrown away!

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Staple item in our house and a favorite in smoothies.

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This serum caught my eye, so I figured I’d give it a try. Also needed a new body wash and this one got great reviews.

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Haven’t tried it yet, but I needed a new nail polish remover and wanted one that wasn’t toxic. It’s worth a shot!

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Absolutely love trying different body scrubs, and this brand is no exception.

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My husband’s favorite shampoo/conditioner and body wash combination. It’s difficult to find something that works well in our hard water, and these do an excellent job. We bought three bottles of each because I may or may not consider the shampoo/conditioner a favorite as well 😉 

If you are interested in trying Vitacost, feel free to use this referral link: http://goo.gl/ykAyVW   I do get $10 towards my next purchase, but you do as well. This is simply a referral, not affiliate, link.

If you try Vitacost, let me know what you think. The return policy is ridiculously simple and can be done with a few clicks of the mouse. I have been shopping from this site since graduate school and have no plans on stopping anytime soon!

Sun Protection in Skincare Products: A More Natural Alternative

This is a follow-up post to my previous skincare one on Meadow Muffin Gardens products, a fantastic line of consciously made, natural, and independently owned body products, and I feel it’s an important topic to briefly discuss: Sun protection. We all know how important it is to protect our skin from the rays of the sun in order prevent melanoma and damage to our body’s largest organ. However, did you know there are two types of rays? UVA and UVB, which both are ultraviolet radiation rays from the sun. UVA rays, although less intense, are actually more potent and damaging to the skin when absorbed over long periods of time. These rays are present all year round and are the ones that can come through glass and clouds. They penetrate the deeper layers of the skin for longer lasting and damaging effects, such as faster aging and wrinkles.  UVA rays are also distributed from the lights in tanning beds, so be wary of going in those often. On the other hand, UVB rays primarily affect the top layer of the skin, the epidermis, which is where sunburn is obvious. These particular rays vary from time of day and season, as well as location. Do you remember as kid being told to stay indoors from 10-2 when the sun is the most visible? There’s truth in that statement. That is when UVB rays are most visible, even though UVA rays are present at all time.

What I wrote here barely skims the surface of the sun and the intensity and differences between UVA and UVB rays; I do not want to claim to be an expert when in reality, I only know very little and will continue to do research as time goes on. One thing I do know, however, is that sun protection is extremely important and should be incorporated into our daily routine. Ever notice you may be getting more freckles on your left arm and left side of your face? I sure am! That’s because our left side gets more exposure to the sun when we drive and needs greater protection from the rays coming through the windows. If you want protection without piling on sunscreen on top of your already made up face, then consider purchasing a product with sun protection in it. This blog post by Meadow Muffin Gardens describes in detail some of the products that can be used daily and provide natural SPF (Sun Protection Factor). Check them out!

*For more information about ways to protect your skin, check out skincancer.org. If you want specific details on UVA and UVB rays, check out this page.

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Meadow Muffin Gardens Skincare

When it comes to our skincare, most of us think about the pharmacy brands we see advertised most often on television. You know. Those cheap brands sold on pharmacy shelves making claims to firm your skin, reduce wrinkles, and provide a deep clean like no other. What those brands are not telling you, however, is that you’re likely using a product tested on animals and filled with chemicals that cause hormone disruption. Do I have your attention yet? I sure hope so.

Let me start with some basic information about animal testing and skincare/beauty products. It is a widely common practice done by a large number of brands, and you’ll be shocked when you learn just how many practice this horrific act of torture. If you purchase Aveeno, you’re supporting Johnson & Johnson, a company largely known for its animal testing practices. Dove is owned by Unilever, another brand that tests on animals. Olay products are owned by Proctor & Gamble, another popular company sold at drugstores. Think animal testing is only limited to drugstores? Think again. Estee Lauder, Clinique, SK II, Bobbi Brown, Algenist, Avon, Axe, Bioderma, Biore, and the famous Bath and Body Works all test on animals, and those are just a few! Imagine having a product poured into your eyes to test its effectiveness. Your hair is singed off by an imbalance of a product. You’re tortured, tormented, and eventually put to sleep once you’re no longer of use. Imagine you’ve just been a victim of animal testing, a cruel practice that truly doesn’t need to be done to ensure a product is safe. This link by Lush is a visual portrayal of what animal testing would look like on a human, and it’s quite disturbing. If you want a comprehensive list of brands to use and brands to avoid, I encourage you to check out this blog by Logical Harmony, a vegan blogger and YouTuber with a passion for animals and a cruelty free lifestyle. Her site is one of, if not the best, for up-to-date information on products and brands.

If you ever look at an ingredient list on a product, you should be able to identify each and every product. If you can’t, don’t buy it. I learned a great deal from a book called “No More Dirty Looks” and was astounded at the chemicals I was putting on my face and body every day. Sulfates (surfactants, detergents, and emulsifiers in beauty products), parabens (preservatives), and fragrance (any combination of chemicals to provide a particular scent) are likely in your beauty products and are very capable of disrupting your body’s natural balance. Did you know there are no federal regulations on beauty products? Anything can be labeled “natural” and get away with it? That’s why it is so important to read labels and know what you’re putting on your body. Manufacturers, by law, do not even have to release what chemicals have been used to make the rose, orange, or woodsy scent you love so much. There are so many things I could say, but I’ve already written enough about something that wasn’t the point of this post. I will put some links below where you can learn more information.

I want to tell you about Meadow Muffin Gardens, a small Pennsylvania business created by my mother about seven years ago. She was diagnosed with Lupus at age 21 and has worked on finding natural beauty solutions ever since. Out of that search came Meadow Muffin Gardens, a product line encompassing nature, essential oils, and a love of beauty within. I am biased because she’s my mother, but I can truly say she makes incredible products right in our kitchen at home. She has links on Facebook, Etsy, Zibbet, and Shopify, all under the name Meadow Muffin Gardens, as well as Pinterest and Instagram pages where you can follow her. Her username is chezstace on Instagram, and if you want to see photos of cute doggies, silly kitties, and some of her products, go check it out. She also has a blog (meadowmuffingardens.blogpost.com) where she blogs a few times a week about everything ranging from her garden to health to her family. She’s a lovely writer, for sure. Her products are all natural, free of animal testing, and consist of ingredients that are wholesome and good for your skin. I will put photos of a few of my favorite products below.

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I have been using this face wash since I was in high school. It’s gentle enough for daily use and doesn’t strip the skin of its natural moisture.

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My favorite toner of all time.

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A beautiful night lotion that provides long-term moisture and smells divine.

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The perfect face mask for those days you need a treatment, but don’t want to do a full clay mask that can be too drying on your skin.

I do use other brands on my face and body, but these four staples are always in my rotation. I swear by them for helping me continue to look young (being only 5’1″ helps too ;)). Plus, isn’t my mother beautiful? Go check out her wonderful business today! 🙂

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Resources:

http://www.ewg.org/research/dirty-dozen-list-endocrine-disruptors

http://slsfree.net

http://www.ewg.org