Stress-Relieving Bath Salts

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“There must be quite a few things that a hot bath won’t cure, but I don’t know many of them.”
-Sylvia Plath

I could not agree more.  I fully believe in the healing powers of a hot bath.  I love them so much, that I have elevated baths to a full-blown hobby.  If I’m sad, I take a bath.  If I’m happy, I take a bath.  If I’m tired, I take a bath.  You get the picture. I like a hot bath.

At no time is a bath better than when you really need to melt away stress.  These bath salts are perfect after a long day.  They smell amazing, sooth sore muscles, and don’t have the nasty chemicals that many commercial bath products contain.

You’ll need:

1 cup epsom salts

1/2 cup sea salt

10-15 drops of your favorite essential oil (I like lavender)

3-4 drops of food coloring (optional)

Mix all of the ingredients together and store them in a covered container. Trust me, the next time your dog decides to develop enough anxiety to require a Prozac prescription, you’ll be glad you did.  Or maybe that’s just me.

Product Review: Carefree Acti-fresh Pantiliners

I have a hypothesis. It’s that EVERYONE enjoys getting surprises in the mail.  And I was recently fortunate enough to open my mailbox to find this:

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Yep, yep, yep.  I’ve been given the opportunity to sample free swag, and I’m sharing what I’ve learned with YOU, dear readers.  I’ll be honest, I’m not generally someone that uses pantiliners, so I wasn’t sure how I would feel about the Carefree acti-fresh pantiliners.  I committed to trying them out for two weeks in the name of research.

One of the first things that I noticed was that despite being labled as “unscented,” these pantiliners do have a faint fragrance.  It isn’t strong, and it definitely isn’t upleasant (picture a nice, soft, powdery, rose scent), but it’s there.  I personally prefer the faint the scent.  And really, it is so light that it might as well be unscented.

The packaging claims that the pantiliners are so thin that “you’ll forget you’re wearing a liner.”  I’m pretty aware of all things comfort related (the “Princess and the Pea” could totally have been written about me), and I found this claim to be true. The liners are paper-thin with no prickly edges.  It’s pretty much like you’re just wearing underwear.  (If you don’t wear underwear, then this product probably isn’t for you, but no judgement here).

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Perhaps most important, I did actually find that these made me feel a bit…..*ahem*…….fresher.  These really did seem to help keep everything dry and lady-like.  I sort of know what these feminine hygiene brands mean now when they talk about “added confidence.”  I don’t know yet if I’d wear one every day, but there are several scenarios where I might just have to bring some of these along with me:

*Workouts

*Extra-long work days

*Long flights (think about it, it could be like having new underwear on a 20 hour flight, but much less awkward in those tiny bathrooms)

*Extra-hot summer days

Really, my ONLY complaint about these liners is that wearing them every day doesn’t seem very environmentally friendly. Hey Carefree…..can you fix that for me?  I’ll be first in line for the compostible version!

 

*I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes.

Spicy Jicama “Fries”

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We all have those days that really need to be about relaxation and self care. Today has been one of those days. My oldest friend from high school who I hadn’t seen in years came to dinner last night. I was up way past my bedtime, and I knew from the moment I woke up that today would not be a productive day. But like I said…..we all need to indulge in a lazy day once in awhile.

One thing that I don’t want to do on a lazy day is spend all day in the kitchen. So I whipped up this easy recipe in approximately five minutes so that I could go catch up on the new season of “Orphan Black.” Despite the name of this post, I actually don’t think of this recipe as a replacement for fries. I think of it more as a great side for a light meal or a fun addition to a veggie tray.

Cut up the jicama into a french fry shape or any shape you feel like really. Then, sprinkle them with lime juice, chili powder, and cumin. That’s it! I personally think that the spices pair really well with guac, and this crunchy root vegetable is a great source of fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants. Can you say the same about those boring tortilla chips?

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Green Beauty

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I have a confession to make.  I have always been a bit of a hippie.  Back in junior high, I used to slather myself in patchouli oil and spend my free time picking up garbage from the neighborhood for fun.  To this day, I completely geek out over folks that raise alpacas or live in tiny homes.  I would totally vacation at a one of those communes where folks spend their days working the land, composting, and living in a yurt or whatever.

Having said that, I still live in the real world where being presentable matters.  Also…I said that I’d vacation on a commune, not live there permanently.  I enjoy my life of luxury, thankyouverymuch.

At this point, you might be asking yourself if there’s a point to all of this.  Actually, yes. The point is that back in the day, “green beauty” typically meant a very small selection of products that were difficult to find outside of organic markets and weren’t always effective.  But more and more beauty brands are wising up to the fact that many women want to limit their exposure to toxins and support companies with strong values.  This has led to a massive increase in the number of products that offer greener products without sacrificing efficacy or luxury.

Today I’m going to share some of my favorite “green” beauty products.  I won’t pretend to be a purist.  I use plenty of non-green products, but I prefer healthier options if they work as well as the less safe alternatives.  I truly believe that each product mentioned here is up to the job.

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1. The Honest Company Shampoo & Body Wash – This is hands-down my new favorite product. I actually really love everything from The Honest Company, but this is my favorite. The sweet orange vanilla fragrance smells delish and this shampoo strikes the right balance when it comes to cleansing.  I find that many shampoos either strip my hair of moisture or leave me feeling greasy.  After using this one, my hair felt full and soft with less frizz than normal.  Also, I’m lazy so if I can combine shampoo and body wash in one product, I’m sold.

Free of: SLS, sulfates, parabens, phthalates, fragrances, dyes, sodium chloride, formaldehyde, MEA, DEA, TEA, & most common allergens

Other notes: For each purchase the company donates to families in need, No animal testing

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2. Kiss My Face Liquid Rock Deodorant – Ok.  So natural deodorant is a bit of a touchy subject because as much as I indulge my inner hippie, I definitely don’t want to be the stinky hippie.  This deodorant does the trick.  It lacks the aluminum that makes so many traditional anti-perspirants controversial, and still keeps me stink-free.  I like that it smells like lavender and doesn’t stain my clothes.

Free of: aluminum chlorohydrate, parabens, propylene glycol, animal ingredients, artifical fragrance

Other notes: cruelty-free, no animal testing, Note: This is a deodorant and not an anti-perspirant, so I approve it for everyday use…I do NOT recommend using this when you run that marathon in August.

 
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3. Dr. Bronner’s All-One Bar Soap – This is a great bar soap that as far as I can tell is about as green as you can get.  The ingredients list is super short and mostly contains various plant-based oils.  This is nice for that “squeaky clean” feeling and comes in a number of fragrances.

Free of: I don’t have a list of what’s not in this soap, but as I said…it’s mostly just a bunch of natural oils that make up the ingredients.

Other notes: Oregon Tilth Certified Organic, Non-GMO Project Certified, No Animal Testing, 100% Vegan, Packaging is Printed on 100% post consumer waste paper to “relieve stress on our working forests.”

 

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4. Lulu Organics Hair Powder – This hair powder is perfect for second (or third or fourth) day hair.  It isn’t a spray like most which makes it a little easier to avoid having a huge spot of white powder in one spot.  It does a decent job of soaking up excess oil and the lavender clary sage scent is nice and subtle.

Free of: Again, I don’t have a list of what it doesn’t contain, but the ingredients are pretty straightforward.  It is made of corn starch, baking soda and other natural powders and essential oils.  I’d say you’re pretty safe with this one.

Other notes: USDA and Oregon Tilth Certified Organic, No Animal Testing

 
So there are 4 great products to keep you smelling fresh while saving the world.  I have a follow-up post planned that will focus on some of my favorite green makeup and perfume products as well.  In the meantime, I’d love to hear some of your recommendations.

 

 

 

Beauty Smackdown – Lip Balm Edition

Happy Easter, Everyone. Today I decided that it was a good time for another “Beauty Smackdown.” I love me some lip balm. It’s easy, mistake-proof, and you can never have too many. So without further ado!

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1. LUSH Lip Balm in Honey Trap

Texture: This balm moisturizes like a dream, but can get clumpy if you use too much. This tendency to get chunky is probably the biggest drawback of this lip balm.

Fragrance/Flavor: I LOVE the flavor of this balm. The vanilla-honey flavor reminds me of angelfood cake. Plus the fact that Lush uses natural ingredients makes me feel better about putting this yummy concoction on my lips.

Price: $7.25 for .3oz

Other Factors: Vegetarian, No Animal Testing, As a company LUSH attempts to limit unnecessary packaging and give back to the community through various charities

Overall Rating: 3.5 out of 5.0 (mostly because of the chunkiness factor)

2. TokyoMilk Dark Lip Elixer in Cherry Bourbon

Texture: Nice and smooth. This one reminds me a bit of a silky petroleum jelly. Not too shiny, not too matte.

Fragrance/Flavor: These lip elixers are supposed to have more “grown-up” flavors (other options include flavors such as absinthe and clove cigarette). At first I felt like this one tasted like cherry cough syrup, but after a minute it does settle into a nice, subtle flavor. I’d definitely give the other flavors a try.

Price: $7.00 for a whopping .7oz

Other Factors: The slightly goth packaging is perfect for a girly badass.

Overall Rating: 4.0 out of 5.0

3. Nuxe Reve de Miel Lip Balm

Texture: Like the LUSH selection, this honey lip balm is super moisturizing, but is pretty thick. A little goes a long way. It is slighty gritty with a very natural (i.e. not shiny) finish.

Fragrance/Flavor: This one is vaguely citrus-y. Not at all what I’d expect from a honey lip balm. It’s not my favorite, but it isn’t unpleasant at all.

Price: ~$19.00 for .52oz

Other Factors: None.

Rating: 3.0 out of 5.0

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4. Perfumaria Gal Lip Balm in Violet

Texture: This balm isn’t as moisturizing, but is silky with a balanced level of shine.

Fragrance/Flavor: The violet fragrance is a nice change. It’s fairly strong without being overpowering. I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a feminine option that isn’t too sweet.

Price: $6.50 for .53oz

Other Factors: Perfumaria Gal lip balms have some of the most beautiful packaging around. I’m also partial to these because I always used them in high school.

Overall Rating: 4.0 out of 5.0

5. By Terry Baume de Rose

Texture: I adore this balm. A little goes a long way, and it has a nice sheen. It feels cushion-y and soft.

Fragrance/Flavor: The light rose fragrance is probably the most subtle of all the balms reviewed today.

Price: ~$60.00 for .35oz

Other Factors: Given the price tag, I’ll say it again—a dab really does go a LONG way with this balm.

Overall Rating: 5.0 out of 5.0

Light and Fluffy No-Bake Yogurt Pie

Like many women, I’ve been trying to slowly overhaul my diet and cut out some of the crap.  It has been a challenge to change my ways, especially when it comes to my sweet tooth.  So recently I was trying to figure out a yummy dessert that was slightly less terrible than some of the other desserts that I typically eat (I’m talking about you, Girl Scout cookies).  That’s when I remembered an easy yogurt pie that my mom and I used to make when I was a kid.  I won’t lie, the fact that this pie is easy enough for a 5 year old to make was a huge factor in my decision.  Lori is the real cook at Running on Laughter.  If it is more than a couple of easy steps, I just don’t have the fortitude to stick with a recipe.

Ingredients:

1 Premade Graham Cracker Pie Crust

1/2 Container of Whipped Topping

1 Container of Fruit on the Bottom Yogurt

Optional: Frozen or Fresh Fruit

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As I mentioned, this receipe is super easy. Just mix your yogurt, whipped topping and any fruit add-ins together.

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Then, scoop everything into your pie crust and pop the pie in the freezer.  You can choose to thaw it before serving or eat it like a frozen dessert (my fave!).  If you’re feeling really motivated, you could even place some more fruit on top to add visual interest.

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Happy Hour Craft – Part 1

I’ll admit it…..I really enjoy a cocktail at the end of a long day.  Or a short day. Or any kind of day really. A good drink is just a nice way to unwind in the evenings.  The only problem is that I’m left with empty bottles and no clue what to do with them.  I’m no great environmentalist, but that doesn’t mean that I love the idea of my liquor bottles clogging up landfills.  So I thought that it would be fun to find uses for various items in a new series of crafts based on Happy Hour.  I also expect them to be simple enough that you can successfully accomplish them DURING Happy Hour if you’re so inclined.  Because really….isn’t everything better with wine?

The first of these crafts is so simple that I’m not even sure that you can really call it a “craft.”  It’s more like a two step process that leaves you with a cute soap dispenser.  This one is great for a man (or woman) cave, personalized gift, or even just adding some fun to your guest bathroom.

Supplies:

1) 1 liquor bottle

2) 1 standard pump

3) soap

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Did you know that most standard liquor bottles are the perfect size for your standard soap dispenser pump?  True story! You can find a pump at any home improvement store.  Then, just fill your empty bottle with your favorite soap and screw on the pump.  Voila! Instant gift for the whiskey connoisseur in your life.

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Now if you’ll excuse me, my faithful assistant is informing me that my allotted blogging time is up.  Apparently it is now playtime.

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Non-toxic Spring Cleaning

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Hey there!

Is anyone else loving this warmer, sunnier weather?  I’m so happy that the snow is finally starting to thaw.  The fresh air makes it so much easier to focus on all those things that I’ve been neglecting over the winter.

Now that it’s getting closer to summer BBQ weather, I have to make sure that my house is ready for company and impromtu parties.  And you know what that means?  Spring cleaning.

One thing that I hate about spring cleaning is the nasty, toxic chemicals that are in almost everything.  I want something that will scour my bathroom, but I’d rather not scour my lungs at the same time.  Luckily, it’s so cheap and easy to make really nice cleaning products at home with safer alternatives.  Today, I’m going to share my favorite recipe for a simple bathroom cleanser.

Supplies:

1 cup baking soda

1/4 cup castile soap (I like Dr. Bronner’s)

1/2 cup water

1-2 tablespoon(s) white vinegar

3/4 tsp essential oil (I use tea tree for its cleansing properties)

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Slowly mix together the baking soda, water, and castile soap.  Next, add the vinegar and essential oil.  Pour the mixture into your container of choice.  I personally like to use a repurposed squirt top bottle (dish soap bottle, shower gel bottle, whatev) because it’s easier to use for cleaning.

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The water and baking soda will separate a bit, so just give your container a little shake before using it.  Take that, soap scum!

 

 

Balancing Act

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As I write this post, I’m recovering from jet lag AND daylight savings.  I got hit with this double whammy because I spent most of the week out in L.A. for my company’s Diversity Summit.  The event was actually really wonderful.  I work for a pretty conservative company, but I have to admit that I’ve never been more proud of it than I was this week.  It was awesome to see my company prove its dedication to diversity and inclusion by recognizing so many awesome individuals.  Our teams were recognized for everything from recruitment events for under-served communities to providing education and support services for transgender individuals and their families.  So the severe exhaustion is worth it this time.

One of the sessions that I got to attend at the summit was about “Women in Leadership.”  A large portion of the session was devoted to finding some semblance of work/life balance.  Now, before I jump into a discussion of balance, I want to get on my soapbox for a minute…….

Why is it that career discussions targeted to women are the only times that I ever hear about “work/life balance?”  This actually really bugs me because the unspoken assumption seems to be that things like family and home are “women’s work.”  Why don’t we help everyone find work/life balance?  I’m sure most men would welcome permission to spend more time with their kids, and I’d bet money that having an equal partner at home would really help women find this elusive “balance” much more easily.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, we can move on.  One thing that I really enjoyed about this activity is that it didn’t simply separate things into “work” and “life.”  Instead, it took a much more holistic approach and really focused on the many areas that add up to a fulfilling life: career, money, health, social life, family, personal growth (to include spirituality), and fun.  We rated each category from 1-10 to see where we felt things stand today.  This makes it very clear where your life may be out of balance.

I find that whenever I’m not living up to my own standards in a given area, it’s because I feel like I don’t have enough time.  In reality, it is more like this (just replace “internet” with “Orange is the New Black marathon”):

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The truth is, I don’t have it all figured out. I find that I particularly struggle in the “health” category because I routinely ignore my own good advice.  It’s also OK if everything isn’t always working out like you’ve planned.  Sometimes certain areas just have to take priority over others.  The point is to just be aware of how you’re spending your time so that you can create your own version of success.

What tips do you have for maintaining balance?

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Beauty Smackdown – Hand Lotion

I’m not sure about you, but I could not be more ready for spring!  I’m so so so so so sick of snow, 11 degree weather, and having to wear boots instead of my cute flats.  I’m also sick of having lizard skin because of the dry winter air.  No matter how hard I try, by the end of winter I always seem to end up with dry, scaly, cracked hands (sexy, I know).  So I’m always on the hunt for the perfect hand cream.

This week, I’m bringing you the first installment of “Beauty Smackdown” with an emphasis on hand creams.  Kris always tells me that I spend too much money on hand lotion, so I hope that my addiction can help you find the perfect cure for dry skin without the empty wallet.

Category 1: Standard

 

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1. J.R. Watkins Shea Butter Hand Cream in Lemon Cream (~$9.49)

Texture – This cream is super, well, creamy without being greasy. It soaks in quickly and you don’t need to use much. My hands instantly felt softer.

Fragrance – This one smells super yummy. I’m generally really sensitive to fragrances, but this has a nice, light, lemon scent that isn’t at all annoying. The only problem is that it makes me a little hungry.

Price – At less than 10 bucks, this is a bargain for something that feels so luxurious.

Other Factors – Paraben-Free, Dye-Free, Phtalate-Free, Propylene Glycol-Free, Not tested on animals (yay)

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5

2. Yu-Be Moisturizing Skin Cream (~$16.00)

Texture – This one has more of a gel-cream texture. It isn’t greasy, but it also doesn’t feel like it moisturizes as well as some of the others. It does leave a nice velvet-y texture, but it might be better in the summer when my skin isn’t quite so dry.

Fragrance – This product has a light camphor smell when first applied. I actually really like it, but it disappears really quickly if you don’t want to smell like a pharmacy.

Price – This product is $16.00 for a 1.25 oz tube which isn’t exactly cheap. But…you don’t need to use a lot.

Other Factors: Formulated without sulfates, synthetic fragrances, synthetic dyes, petro-chemicals and phthalates.

Overall Rating: 3.5 out of 5

3. Josie Maran Whipped Argan Oil Ultra-Hydrating Body Butter in Sweet Citrus (~$35.00)

Texture – As the product name implies, this is by far the most hydrating lotion of the lot. It is also the greasiest due to the argan oil. I personally use this one exclusively at night because it makes my hands oily and shiny. On the flip side, it does make my hands feel like heaven. This is the type of thick lotion you’ll want to slather on before donning cotton gloves at bedtime.

Fragrance – Kris described this one as smelling “like a sweettart.” It’s strong without being cloying. I really like this one.

Price – This is the most expensive cream of the lot. At $35, I’d put this into the “splurge” category for sure. But it is an awfully nice splurge.

Other Factors – Formulated without parabens, sulfates, and phthalates, cruelty-free, vegan

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5

Category 2 : SPF

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1. Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion with Sunscreen, SPF 15 (~$9.43)

Texture – This is a great texture for an everyday lotion. It’s thick, but soaks in pretty quickly. My skin felt much softer and it seemed to last through several hand washings.

Fragrance – Almost non-existant. Aveeno products always seem like the comfort food of personal care. They’re pretty bland, but always make you feel well cared for.

Price – Totally worth it.

Other Factors – Contains colloidal oatmeal which is supposed to be soothing

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5

2. Garnier Skin Renew Dark Spot  Hand Treatment (~$6.99)

Texture – The texture of this lotion is really nice. It feels more like a fluid than a heavy cream. Maybe a little light for dry skin, but I love the way it soaks in almost instantly.

Fragrance – Ok, Garnier. I have to knock off major points in this category. There’s no nice way to say it. This lotion smells like a urinal cake. And the fragrance appears to be fairly long-lasting. It’s not unbearable, but it’s disappointing.

Price – This lotion is a great bargain if you can get past the smell.

Other Factors – None

Overall Rating: 2.5 out of 5

3. Supergoop! Forever Young Hand Cream ($12.00)

Texture – I have really mixed feelings about this hand cream. It seems to do a good job, but leaves me feeling a bit oily and shiny. I can’t decide whether or not the high spf makes up for this.

Fragrance – Meh. Not bad. It just sort of smells like salt water to me.

Price – $12.00 will get you a pretty small tube. Again, the only thing really setting this one apart is the high SPF.

Other Factors – Formulated without parabens, sulfates, and phthalates, cruelty-free

Overall Rating: 3 out of 5

 

Now it’s your turn, please leave a comment of some of your favorite hand creams!