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

 

A Mindless Task

Does anyone really enjoy cleaning? If you do, I commend you. I clean A LOT because we have five pets and a day without cleaning makes our house look like a tornado went through it, but that doesn’t mean I fully enjoy it. Sure, I put on loud music and sing obnoxiously to make it bearable, but ultimately, I wish the task would do itself.

I want the cleaning process to be two things: Quick and as natural as possible. I work full-time, which includes traveling a lot. Matt is a full-time student currently on rotations. We do not have the time to spend hours cleaning our house only to have it be dirty again the next day. I’ve started do to one to two tasks a day so I don’t feel overwhelmed when the weekend comes and I feel I need to clean everything.

Today was oven day. I have pushed it off for MONTHS because seriously, who wants to spend a Saturday morning cleaning their oven? I tried a baking soda cleaning recipe last year that, despite how much I swear by baking soda for almost everything, DID NOT work. It left a crusty brown layer of crap inside my oven that probably just baked along with the food every time I turned it on. I did not want to purchase some chemical filled cleaner, especially I would be using it where I bake my food, but my usual All-Purpose Cleaner wasn’t strong enough to do the job. Alas, this is where Dr. Bronner saved the day. If you haven’t heard of Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap, click on that link and purchase it right now. The stuff is pure gold. I have it in three scents: Peppermint, Lavender, and Rose. Peppermint is perfect for cleaning because it adds a subtle fresh scent without making you feel nauseous. Trust me, you won’t want to clean with anything else once you’ve discovered this product.

What makes it so awesome is a combination of things. For starters, let’s talk about the packaging. It has tons of reading material on it if you are bored and feel like learning random facts. Second, it is 100% natural. It’s made with organic oils, is fair trade (meaning those involved in production are paid an acceptable living wage), is non GMO certified, and is cruelty free and vegan, meaning it is not tested on animals nor does it have animal by-products in it. Lastly, IT WORKS. It’s a win-win all around.

When it came to my disgusting oven, I diluted the castile soap in a bowl of hot water (Did I measure? No. Should I have? Probably). I’ll guess I used 1/4 cup or so of castile soap with 2 cups or so of water. Trust me. You don’t need a lot. I added water until the mixture was extremely soapy and I knew I had enough water for my whole oven. I used a scrub brush dipped in the mixture and basically scrubbed all the gunk out of my oven the best I could. Warning: Put a towel or something on the floor because the stuff that drips down is filthy. I took the oven racks and cleaned them separately in the bathtub (with the same mixture) after the oven itself was done. After the entire oven was covered, I let it soak for 3-5 minutes and then wiped everything away with a towel. I started with paper towels, but quickly realized I would need a whole roll, so I used an old towel we hardly use anymore. The difference between pre and post-cleaning was incredible. It’s not perfect, but it’s 10x better than it was before. I don’t even have a before picture because I don’t want to gross anyone out. The bowl below does show the gunk though, so just use your imagination of how the oven looked.

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Below are the two products used along with a picture of my recently cleaned oven. The whole process took me about 15-20 minutes and now I have a clean oven to use. If it ever gets as bad as it was before (I’ll try my hardest to not let it get that way), I now have my go-to method to get it clean again. This cleaning method can be used on pretty much anything, as long as the scrub brush doesn’t scratch what you’re cleaning. Good luck!

*This is a referral code if you’re interested in purchasing anything off of Vitacost. I get $10, but you also get $10 off your first order. http://goo.gl/ykAyVW

Vitacost

If you haven’t heard of Vitacost yet, here’s your sale pitch. I heard about it through a YouTube video years ago and being a poor grad school student, I needed a better way to buy all the healthier items I wanted without going into debt. Now with my husband in medical school, I am still looking for more affordable ways to buy the items we need. Matt and I avoid products that aren’t cruelty free at all costs (minus the ones we are using up in our house now), and it can be hard to find those things in a regular drugstore or grocery store. Vitacost has been my go-to online shop for the past five years and I will not be changing anytime soon. Picture Whole Foods or your local natural grocer online but with cheaper prices. They sell everything from dry goods, beauty products, supplements, vitamins, home goods, baby products, to pet supplies. I make an order about once a month; some months are bigger than others depending on what we need. It’s the only place Matt can find his shampoo and body wash, and the only place I can find my favorite meal replacement mix cheaper than our local store. They run frequent promotions too, so there’s always a good time to save. Their shipping is super fast as well. Not to mention their return policy is seriously one of the best I have ever encountered. Below are the items from my most recent order. Although it was rather small, these items will last us a good two months or more until we need to order again. Feel free to use this referral code for $10 off your first order: http://goo.gl/ykAyVW (This is a referral code, not an affiliate link. You’ll get $10 off your first order and I will get $10 as well.) Plus, until 9/7/16 at 9am EST, they are running a Labor Day sale: $5 off $55 or more (use code LABORDAY5); $15 off $100+ or more (use code LABORDAY15); or $30 off $180 or more (use code LABORDAY30). I usually wait to make a big order until I see a promotion and stock up 🙂

  1. Garden of Life Raw Organic Meal: $41.99 (Amazing in smoothies!)
  2. Newman O’s Regular and Mint cookies: $2.69 each (They have replaced Oreos and are better for you too!)
  3. Y.S. Eco Bee Farms Raw Honey, unfiltered and unpasteurized: $6.57 (This can also be bought in  liquid form if you prefer it that way, which is what I use in recipes that require it.)
  4. Every Man Jack Tea Tree thickening shampoo and conditioner and body wash in Cedarwood: $6.99 and $5.89 respectively. (This shampoo and conditioner is fantastic and I would be lying if I said we go through so much because I love it too!)
  5. Aura Cacia Electric Aromatherapy Air Freshener Refill: $4.99. (These have replaced Air Wick and Febreze scents in our home. They are great for individuals who are into essential oils, but do not have the place to put a diffuser or are worried about their pets getting into the oils when home alone. I bought two of the Refreshing Lime and Grapefruit, but I also love the lavender scent for my living room. The device to plug into the wall is also online.)

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Outfit of the Week #1

I’ve decided that to make this a bit more personal (because obviously pouring my heart out on the internet isn’t personal enough 😉 ), I’m going to try and share one outfit a week that stood out to me. What we wear does tell a lot about us. Now, I would not consider myself a fashionista by any means, but I live to be comfortable. I tend to buy shirts that make a statement and involve something I stand for. In the photo below, I’m wearing a shirt by Arm The Animals, a site I found through Instagram. It’s a charitable clothing company that not only promotes adoption, but hopes to raise awareness of the importance of caring for your pets as well. I’ve put a link to their site below along with their mission, taken directly from their site. I highly encourage you to check it out. Not everyone has time to volunteer every Saturday or the money to donate to their local humane society. However, we all wear clothes (or should be anyway!). Why not support a non-profit and ARM THE ANIMALS in the meantime?

“My doctrine is this: that if we see cruelty or wrong that we have the power to stop, and we do nothing, we make ourselves sharers in the guilt.” – Anna Sewell, English Novelist

http://www.armtheanimals.com

“The ATA Mission: Saving Animals & Defining The Aesthetics of Activism!

Arm The Animals was born from tragedy in 2010 as an attempt to express the inexpressible. Created following the untimely death of our founders sister who a lifelong animal advocate and “pet parent” to a dozen rescues, Arm The Animals would serve as a living tribute and means of carrying on a legacy that was ended too soon.

Starting online with a simple website, ATA began attending every animal event in Southern California where their designs spoke directly to most of the attendees. By creating universally relatable designs with no political agenda attached to them, ATA had a design for almost every person who saw them and they soon began making friends in the world of animal rescues.

ATA soon formed relationships with these rescues and began donating to them on a consistent basis. We develop designs and/or collection that speak to the core values of our partners and donate a generous portion of the proceeds from each campaign. We also provide product free of charge for partners to sell and keep and even host full web stores on our website. ATA has worked with and donated to over 50 different animal welfare organizations most of whom are smaller in size, so any amount of money really does make an impact with shelter, food, vet bills and other basics all rescues simply must have.

ATA is not a non-profit organization: it is a regular apparel business that has made “giving back” a core goal of the company. The group consists of regular, down-to-earth people who actually care about the world around them. We are all close friends who grew up with animals, have rescue pets of our own, and agree that the current plight facing innocent discarded animals can not only be helped, but fixed! Is this naive? Maybe, but every “impossible” task has been overcome in the same way – by taking a first step!

The current animal euthanasia statistics are staggering! Every year 4,000,000 – 5,000,000 animals are euthanized because people simply don’t do the basics for their pets. It’s no longer an option to spay, neuter, feed, water and love your pets – it’s mandatory! If you make the decision to own an animal, you should at least have the heart to make sure they are healthy and cared for! I think we can all agree on that.

In no way is Arm The Animals is a “fly-by-night” idea or “one time” charity project; we have truly committed everything we have and everything we are to this company and we plan on doing for the rest of our lives. Although our goals are incredibly lofty, we have no doubt that we can make a huge impact! With passion, drive and your support, we believe anything is possible. We hope you feel the same way and decide to support us. Together we CAN make a difference… Actually, we already are making a difference.”

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Shirt: Arm The Animals (on sale for $13.50 at time of purchase)

Shorts: H&M (bought at a thrift store for $3!)