Friday, September 30, 2016

Farewell summer/Deck love



I can't believe it's almost October!

Yesterday we got our first glimpse of true fall weather (yay!). So while we can, I am trying to soak up our deck as much as possible. It's getting a lot harder to enjoy it after work as the days are getting shorter but it only encourages me to bust out stringed lights & a chiminea is on our wish list. 

And music.

Music is always a part of our day-to-day (thank you, Pandora!) & we always have some playing on the deck too.

I love how easy it is these days to play music anytime & anywhere. I am old enough to clearly the remember the joy of hearing a new song on the radio & then begging my parents for the 45, album, or cassette. Or, listening to the radio in anticipation of said new song & trying my best to tape it. And don't get me started on how fun it was when I got to actually shop at record stores!

I miss that - I miss the happiness of opening the wrapper on an album or cassette & devouring the lyrics. But, I am also amazed & grateful for how easy it is to access music. As you know, you can now be thinking of a song or artist & in less than minute be listening to that song or artist. Even in 2016, it makes me step back a bit - it's such a leap from the days of driving to a record store!

So back to that deck - this place :-)




I've been using this wireless speaker for the past couple of weeks & really like it:







Why?

It's rugged & water resistant - perfect for outdoors. If it gets left outside, it won't melt or get destroyed in the elements. We don't have a pool, but it can even float - how cool is that!?! You can also mount it on your bike if you are so inclined to doing that sort of thing. 

It can literally hang out with you on your deck thanks to its nifty strap :-):





The sound quality is great & I also love that it can connect via Bluetooth (pairs super easy with my phone/tablet) or the micro jack/auxiliary cord that comes with it.

Do you know what that means?

It means I can even hook it up my little record player to it too! ...and worlds collide! :-) My records sound fantastic on this little speaker!



Frankie says "Relax"! 

80's meets 2016!



Yep!

Cheers,
S

#AYLSpeakers

I received this product free of charge in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are 100% my own.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Cute gift idea: Yogi Cards!



This a difficult post to write - not because I dislike the content (I love the content) - but, because I'm afraid my words & photos won't do it justice. I got to try out these super cute Yogi Fun Yoga Cards & I think they're adorable - a fantastic gift for the little yogi, or aspiring yogi, in your life.

They are perfect for kids because each yoga card/pose is based on an animal - peacock, frog, bat, spider to name a few. All kids need to do is imitate that animal - 20 different cards illustrate the poses and a matching 20 explain each pose.



The kit also provides four game ideas (& some cardboard dice you can put together) & a great suggestion for use at a birthday party.



What are some of the benefits of yoga for kids (or adults!)?

Better overall development - physically, mentally, & emotionally. Don't we all need more of that? I do!

These are well made, thoughtfully illustrated, & a unique gift. I think they would also be great for any adult in your life who would like to get started doing yoga - this is a gentle, fun way to get started.

Interested? Yogi Fun is offering a discount (30% off) through October 23rd. Just use code YOGIFUN1 when you check out at Amazon (under the Amazon coupon/promo field). 

Cheers,
S

#yogifun

I was able to purchase these with a generous discount in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are 100% my own.



Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Wireless Head Space



Last week or so, I wrote a little bit about the Headspace app. Today will be my 20th day straight of meditating. 

Holy Cow - that's a record for me! For now, it's just for 10 minutes each day & it's 10 minutes I always look forward to & plan to keep it going.

I've meditated while sitting up in bed, in my car (when parked), on a bench outside at work & I am now always on the lookout for that 10 minutes & a spot to make it happen. Meditation has been suggested to me over the past two years by different healthcare professionals & I'm not sure what finally make me take the plunge, but the Headspace app has been integral for keeping me at it. It's "meditation for dummies" & gently takes you on its path. 

Why meditate?

I am sure the results are different for everyone, but for me, it makes me feel lighter, clearer, calmer, happier. Is my life perfect? Nope, but I feel like I can take whatever's coming my way a lot easier because I've been giving my mind a break each day. Overall, I feel a lot less judgmental - of things, people, life, & most importantly towards myself.

So, to facilitate all of this, I looked into some new headphones. I've always wanted to try a pair of Bluetooth headphones & these came my way. Anything to make meditating easier for me is worth it - they've been a great companion. They are affordable - about $33.00, have a range of 33', & cancel noise (a very nice plus when meditating!), & you can sync them to your phone or tablet. What I loved the most is how they instantly connected to my phone (they work with both Apple or Google/Android); there was no extra app to download, no drama - they worked out the gate with no problems.

Here's what you get:


And a case to carry/protect them:



They also come with three different sized ear bud tips (small, medium, large) & a mini USB charger.



And me, listening to audio book  :-):



I really love using these when working as they keep my hands free, I'm not tied to my phone, & can walk away from my desk (again, up to 33') & still listen away. A full charge lasts about seven hours (that's a lot of audio books & meditating!) - there's even a voice prompt that will let you know about incoming calls (that feature I don't care for when meditating...). I also think they'll be great for walking the dogs & exercising too - I've yet to test them in that capacity ;-). They are a great value, great sound, & fun & easy to use.

And, if you need more convincing about the benefits of meditating, click here to see how a school is using it instead of timeouts - amazing!

Cheers & give your mind a break here & there,
S

#HussarMagicbudsBluetoothHeadphones

I was able to purchase these with a generous discount in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are 100% my own.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

"Peppy" Eyes

When you are a 40-something, skincare tests - especially anti-aging skincare tests - often come your way.

I'll take 'em!

Do you guys remember Bonne Bell's Ten-0-Six astringent? 

Oh, how I loved that stuff! 

Hello, 80's!

When I was 12, it was my very first skincare product ever & I thought I was SO grown-up. I remember my best friend's (Caroline) mom telling us how impressed she was at how great we were at taking care of our skin. I just loved using & buying "teen" products; the benefit of having better skin was the cherry on top. 

These days though I need more than products that just make me feel grown-up ('cause I'm supposed to actually look & act like one!) but help my skin delay aging a little longer. Piece of cake, right?

ha!

The latest add for me is this eye serum - Naturel Commodity Super Peptide Eye Serum and so far, so good. It's a little bottle (2.4 ounces & retails for $50.00) but one pump will easily cover both eyes & then some (you can really use it anywhere on your face - it's safe for all areas of the face). 



Its goal is to:
  • Reduce the appearance of dark circles, puffiness, dryness
  • Firm & plump
  • Improve overall tone & texture
  • Hydrate those eyes!
I've been using it for about two weeks & do think my eyes look a little brighter:
I am wearing eye makeup & lipstick, but no face makeup & my concealer from this morning is long gone.

In my recent theme of keeping products as natural as possible, I love that it's made Vitamin C, Hyaluronic Acid, Aloe Vera, Green Tea, & Echinacea. I also love the bottle's pump - it keeps the product fresh & ready to go. Again, a little goes a long way - so while I do consider $50 pricey, I think the bottle will last me a long time. The ingredients are great quality (no sulfates!) & am hoping my eyes appreciate the effort!

Cheers,
S

#NaturelCommodity

 I was able to purchase this product with a generous discount in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are 100% my own.





Monday, September 26, 2016

Cleaner Cleanser



Everyday, I try to use more natural "cleaner" products for my family, pets, & home. I am not a scientist, but I like the idea of reducing unneeded chemicals on me & my spaces. I also love the fact that so many natural care products are becoming more mainstream & even more affordable. I love the variety - even my local, big-box, grocery store has upped its game & I can find natural deodorants & hair care products.

There's also a great app I use called Healthy Living. You can scan products & it will tell you its EWG's Food Score - the higher the score (a 10), the higher the toxin levels. Ideally, you want avoid products with high scores.

My latest try fit the bill as it's a cleanser from InstaNatural - Dual Action Facial Cleanser Gel. I had never heard of this brand before but I looked them up on Healthy Living & all of their rated products had low, impressive scores (I could not find this particular cleanser on the app though). It's called Dual Action as it removes makeup & cleanses your skin without over stripping. If you are prone to more oily skin, this would be a great cleanser for you.

I love the packaging



which immediately got recycled after the snap of this pic. :-)

And the bottle is great too as it has a pop-top - always a plus for me as their is no cap to keep after:



The bottle is pretty too



To me, it has kind of a very slight lavender, "herby" scent; I like it. If you like a lot of scent in your products (which are often artificial) then this one is not for you. The price is comparable to a lot of cleansers - $15-ish dollars if you purchase via Amazon's Subscribe & Save. A little goes a long way & it's a good-sized bottle.

Overall, it does a great job removing my makeup (I wear eye makeup almost everyday & it can be so stubborn to get off!) & does not strip my skin (my skin runs slightly combination to normal). I do need to moisturize after use though because that's what my 40-something skin always needs. I love that it has lots of natural extracts (willow bark, sugar cane, apple) & no sulfates.

What are some of your favorite natural &/or Eco-friendly products?

If you are interested in going green with your personal care products, click this link for starting with the most important ones.

Cheers,
S

ps. if you use natural deo (which I have for years) - the key is reapply :-)

I received this product for free & this is my honest & unbiased feedback.

#instanatural

 



Shoe Review: Holey Booties!

My latest round of shoe reviews/tests includes these cute booties:



Love them - they are super comfortable & the stacked, rubber heel offers great support. My only regret is that I didn't pick the black version; I like the color I chose, but I think I would have liked the black version better & would get more wear. They look really cute with jeans & I can't wait for the weather to turn when I can wear them with thick socks & a sweater. These booties would really work with so many outfits though - all seasons. I also like wearing these with a feminine top to balance them out.

Here are the dets:

  • They are synthetic (read affordable at $32.00).
  • Great for all day wear.
  • The perforated material keeps your feet from sweating out.
  • They run big - size down  - I usually wear a 7.5 & I ordered these in a 7. They are still a bit roomy, but with socks I think they'll be fine.
  • The back tab is a smart design as it helps pulling them on.
  • Cute & Fun!



Cheers,
S

I was able to purchase these with a generous discount in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are 100% my own.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Grapefruit for the win?


Since Labor Day, I have been doing Whole30 (so by the time I publish this I will be on Day 21 & rounding home base). If you are unfamiliar with Whole30, click the link for more info, but it's essentially no sugar, grains, alcohol, or legumes for 30 days straight.

Yee-hah!

But this is my third time at this particular rodeo & this time around hasn't been so bad. You get really good at politely saying no to pretty much any & all food offered. 

My office is the biggest temptation. 

I've said no to Chick-fil-A at least three times (which I'm pretty sure is sacrilegious in the south), passed dozens of donuts, skipped sandwiches, even some lovely yogurt parfaits (oh, did I mention no diary too?), candy, you-name-it. If I can't eat it, it's been up for grabs over the past three weeks.

It's worth it as I feel better overall when I am eating whole, real foods (less migraines, flatter stomach, better sleep) & honestly, I don't ever get very hungry - whole foods fill you up & my appetite has definitely been smaller this time around.

Also, for the past couple of years, I've kept a bottle grapefruit essential oil at my desk. I think it's supposed to help with appetite suppression when you inhale it, but I really like it for how it smells & it wakes me up/keeps me alert at my desk (always a plus). I am a Floridian - I love grapefruit! So when this oil blend with grapefruit crossed my path, I was curious if it would help me too.


Oil that can possibly slim me down? Yes, please!

It arrived with very pretty packaging (I am always a sucker for great packaging!):


And here's what it claims to help do:
  • Suppress appetite & help better manage weight
  • Boost metabolism
  • Improve digestion
It's not for ingestion; you rub it clockwise on your lower abdomen, neck, shoulders, pulse points. If it feels too greasy to you or you don't like the scent you can apply it 15 minutes before taking a shower/bath. You also might find yourself going to the bathroom more often as it helps with water retention.

I love that it's 98.5% organic, didn't irritate my skin, & that it's very easy to use. For me, that hardest part was remembering to use it. I've been using it for almost two weeks now & while I don't know how much weight I've lost (another rule of Whole30 is not to weigh yourself), I do know that between it & Whole30 (& biking) my pants fit a lot better.

Is this a miracle, weight-loss potion?

No, but as long as you are not pregnant (pregnant women should not use this - keep away from the kiddos too) I don't think it's a bad thing to add. If you use it with smart diet & exercise (always key) - you will notice a difference. And, if it works as a placebo effect only, I don't think that's a bad thing either - if you feel like you are taking control of your health, you will probably make better choices about your health.

A bonus for me?

I really loved the scent & do not wear perfume as my husband has asthma. The oil's scent didn't bother him & it was like a secret-weapon-unexpected-perfume for me! Win-Win!

It retails for around $30 - so while it's not cheap, it's not a stretch either. A little goes a long way, so it should last quite awhile. The bottle also reflects a manufacture date & claims to last for three years if stored properly.

Cheers,
S

#PhytopiaUSA

I received this product free of charge in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are 100% my own.



Saturday, September 24, 2016

Man about town



I have two dogs with two very different personalities (as it should be!) - one of them loves to walk & the other not so much. The non-walker is a rescue & she is still trying to figure out how to be a pet. She likes the idea of walking, but once we get outside she freezes up.

Because of this, it's hard to walk them at the same time. And sometimes we don't - we'll either each take one or take them out one at a time. It's a work in progress for sure!

I recently used a hand-free leash for the first time & it helped me walk both dogs. 




I was hesitant & thought the opposite would be true. I attached our pro-walker to the hand-free leash & kept our non-walker on a regular leash. It freed up my hands to help her along (& pick her up if necessary) while my walker-dude was able to safely walk alongside me. 

I really like that part of the lead is reflective. We live in a neighborhood with few sidewalks & in the dark fall/winter you have to be visible.



Here's our man about town/walker-extraordinaire:



One part of the leash wraps around your waist (securely attached) & then you attach it to your dog's harness or collar:



It's also retractable & you still have control with your hands whenever needed. 

From my POV:




He wasn't aware there was anything different about this leash & I really liked having my hands free. I am clumsy in general & being able to walk balanced is a great thing for me.

Cheers & happy dog-walking,
S

I was able to purchase this with a generous discount in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are 100% my own.

#dog

Poppin' Fun

I love popcorn!

It's always been one of my favorite snacks & I've owned this air popper for years:


It's pretty simple, you add popcorn, plug it in & go! Plus, it's a much healthier way to eat popcorn. Oil can be added (I love to add olive oil or coconut oil) but it's not necessary & you control the salt &/or any seasonings.

A couple of months ago I read about silicone microwave poppers & was intrigued. I really wanted to try one because, again, love popcorn & because I have a kitchen with limited storage & that this type of popper would take up a lot less space sounded ideal. 

And yep, I got to try out this one:



How cute is the color? This is what it looks like out of the box/pushed down:



It has a clear silicone lid too with little heart-shaped handles:



This is what it looks like full-sized/popped up (& after I gave it a quick rinse for its maiden voyage):



Add a quarter cup of popcorn (oil/butter is totally optional - I left it out):





Put the clear lid back on:



And viola - two minutes later out of the microwave!




It's amazing! 

The handles keep your hands from being burned when taking it out of the micro. Also, it popped almost a 100% of the kernels - it made really delicious popcorn even without oil, butter, or salt. So much healthier for you than "traditional" bagged micro popcorn (that stuff is full of chemicals you don't need!) & a lot more affordable. You can flavor & spice this up anyway you like - so much fun for movie night at home. And, if you need more - two minutes later you have it.

Not only does it have all the benefits of an air popper, but it can be used as its own bowl! And, as I suspected, the fact that it folds down is really awesome - it takes up a lot less space in my cabinets. After use, just wipe it down (the only small negative I see is that the leftover popcorn pieces stick to the silicone a bit - I imagine this would not be an issue if oil/butter was used) & stow it away.

Have you tried one of these - what do you think?

Cheers,
S

#SiliCONEpopcorn

I was able to purchase this with a generous discount in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are 100% my own.

ps: I keep my jars of popcorn in the freezer; it helps keep it fresh & I read it gives you a fluffier pop - I agree!