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Aug 16, 2016

Affordable Skincare Finds Where You Least Expect It!

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Dollar General for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.

As a skincare and beauty blogger I "have" to constantly buy products to discover, discuss and compare. My bathroom counter, drawers and shelves look like a store counter and people love staying over because they always get to use a new product and I have so many things that I tend to give some away.

I'm blessed with almost perfect skin. I don't break out, I get oily once every few months and I have zero wrinkles. It's pretty amazing. I do however have to maintain it because a few years ago when I did nothing but stay out all night I felt like my skin aged drastically. At that moment I was buying and trying really expensive products but after a few years I decided to check out some affordable alternatives because it would help me save tons of money but would also let me buy MORE PRODUCTS!

After going the drugstore route for a few years I've built a great relationship with a few brands: Neutrogena, Clean & Clear and Simple. Those are the one I use the most for my skincare needs when I'm home as well as on the go. These are brands that I used before I became a skincare junkie and now that I've tried products ranging from $3-$65, I can honestly say that these brands really deliver.

Neutrogena's Deep Clean Facial Cleanser is a product that I mention time and time again. It really is wonderful and leaves my skin super clean without drying it out. I always make sure to have at least two in my bathroom: one for my skin as well as one in my shower. I also really love using Garnier's Daily Exfoliating Cleanser. because it gets deep into my pores and gets rid of all of the nasties that get in there. It's also great for the days that I'm trying out tons of moisturizers and foundation for my blog.

When I travel I always keep cleansing wipes handy, especially if the flight is really long! While I don't have my face in anything when I fall asleep on a plane I still like to be totally refreshed when I land and get some moisture back into my skin due to it drying out in the air. Simple Wipes are the way to go for me. They're super refreshing and lets me get rid of all the dirt thats built up in my face. I not only use them when I travel, I like to keep one in my gym bag because if I don't wipe my makeup of before working out my towel looks like it belongs to a clown!

The great thing about all of these products is that they can easily be found at Dollar General. I was surprised to find out that some of my favorite brands were sold there because it is technically a dollar store but with affordable great products. Knowing that they sell Neutrogena, Garnier, Clean & Clear, Simple, and a slew of other brands that I love is nice because I can either go to their store or order these products online at affordable prices (which as I mentioned before lets me buy more of them!).

 Find these products and more at Dollar General. Not only do they carry the brands I love they also carry a ton of name brand items that have a wonderful reputation as well as their own Dollar General brand products. I'm glad I found a new place to stock up on everything I need for my skin in one shot. And if I'm not interested in leaving my apartment I can have them delivered individually or in bulk. Now how awesome is that! SO seriously, take my advise: Discover beauty products, tips and more in the Dollar General Beauty Zone. Your skin and wallet will thank you!

Visit Sponsors Site

Aug 13, 2016

Two Ways Are Better Than One

Here we go again! Another side dish with the same three ingredients: tomatoes, basil and mozzarella cheese. But seriously there are so many great ways to make a caprese salad that there's no reason why I shouldn't constantly make (and write about) them!

Because I love to make use of my oven and cut down the amount of time that I'm actually standing and preparing something half of the time I decided to make my baked caprese salad in two ways: one with the cheese melted on the tomato and another with it being cooked different, like a chip. Guess which one I liked better?

Do I even need to go over the ingredients list for a caprese salad?

Baking the cheese, tomatoes and basil was a no brainer. There's a phantom food particle somewhere in my oven that makes my apt smell like it's going to burn down if I have it over 300 degrees so I have to keep mine at 275. After I marinated the tomatoes in salt, pepper and balsamic vinaigrette I topped it with some chopped basil and the cheese on top. I always make sure to top anything off with cheese because it's a great way to keep all of my ingredients together once the cheese starts to melt.

And this is it. This is the amazing side dish that you're left with once the cheese is melted to your satisfaction. How great does this look? I always top it off with pepper and serve it on my cutting board because I think it makes the colors stand out more than if it were on a black or white plate.

Now on to my favorite way to eat this. When I go carb free I tend to still want (read: NEED) something salty and crunchy but I of course stay away from the dreaded potato. Once I open up a bag of chips it is game over for me.

When I made my cheese shell tacos I noticed that if I leave the cheese in the oven for a really long time they get super crunchy so that's when I went on Pinterest to find out which cheeses would make the best chips. Mozzarella and Parmesan were the top ones that I saw so I used both just to see what it was all about.

Look at this. Tell me you don't want to devour this right now? Just writing this has me salivating! Unlike withe the baked caprese I chose to bake the mozzarella cheese solo this time and waited until it was starting to brown before topping it off with freshly grated Parmesan. This let the crisp get some great texture as well as flavor by having the Parmesan flakes melt into it.

This gets put on top of a drained tomato slice, topped off with chopped basil and a balsamic glaze and voila! You end up with the great flavor of a caprese salad with a nice crunch.

So tell me, which one of these is your favorite and what would you pair them with?

Aug 6, 2016

Stay Beautiphil This Summer with Cetaphil®

If you're anything like me you know that once the summer hits I love using skincare products that are tough enough to get all the makeup, dirt and oil from my face without being to harsh from my skin during these hot months. I also have to make sure that I mix my self-tanners and bronzers with a moisturizer that is light and long lasting.

This is where Cetaphil® comes into the mix. I first heard about this brand many moons ago when a cousin with super sensitive skin started to use the facial cleanser. Back then I was cocky and thought my skin was perfect (which it was in my early 20's) so I didn't think I had any use for it. Once I tried it though I was hooked. I used to wear a lot of makeup and the fact that Cetaphil® Daily Facial Cleanser didn't have any alcohol meant that I wasn't drying my skin in a effort to keep it clean.

The cleanser also removed my makeup without leaving icky residue behind, another plus, especially for a skincare junkie like me. Immediately I became a convert and started saving a great deal of money in my skincare routine. At this point though I was only really using their cleanser because I didn't know they had a wider range of products, as I was more interested in makeup than skincare at the time.

When it comes to the SoCal heat, moisturizer, SPF, and a bit of foundation are what my face requires. I have no interest in wearing so many products that might melt off my face so guess who came to the rescue this time? Yep! You guessed it: Cetaphil® yet again. Their Daily Facial Moisturizer with Broad Spectrum SPF 15 is exactly what I need. It's a very light moisturizer that I don't ever feel on my face and it keeps my skin hydrated throughout the day. If I'm staying out in the sun for a long time the bottle is small enough to carry in my purse or tote bag.

I love how easily it blends in without being greasy.

Now one thing I absolutely did not expect was for Cetaphil® to have a body moisturizer. I always knew about their cleanser and that they had a moisturizer but only for the face so imagine my surprise when I set my eyes on this beauty! I am a bronzing addict. I always want my legs to look like I just stepped off a yacht while on vacation of St. Tropez so I soak my legs in as many bronzers as possible. Unfortunately though they aren't very moisturizing and every lotion that I have has a strong scent that kills the sweetness of my favorite bronzer.

Cetaphil® Daily Advance Ultra Hydrating Lotion does none of that. It's thick enough to apply well without being greasy and I can easily mix it with my favorite bronzers or sun tan lotions. Not only that but it contains Epidermal Replenishing Complex5 (ERC5), which is unique combination of 5 ingredients that protects dry skin and enhances hydration. I love anything that keeps my skin from looking dry because that kills any cute spring or summer look.

I'm excited to have found that Cetaphil® had a broader range of products and it's great for anyone who doesn't want to use products that can potentially do more harm than good for their skin. And what's better than Cetaphil® having these great products? Well, the fact that they're affordable and can be found at Target, Walmart,, or even your local supermarket.

I urge my lovely readers to stay #Beautiphil this summer and give Cetaphil® a try. It's a product I've written about before and I wouldn't recommend it if I didn't love it.

What is YOUR favorite Cetaphil® product? Tell me about it in the comments for a chance to win a $100 Visa gift card!

Entry Instructions:
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You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:
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    The Official Rules are available here.
This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older (or nineteen (19) years of age or older in Alabama and Nebraska). Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. The notification email will come directly from BlogHer via the sweeps@blogher email address. You will have 2 business days to respond; otherwise a new winner will be selected.
This sweepstakes runs from 8/8/16 – 9/30/16

Be sure to visit the Cetaphil brand page on where you can read other bloggers’ posts!
**This post is sponsored by Cetaphil. All thoughts and opinions are my own**

Aug 5, 2016

Making Plans for Diane

Today marks the start of a new year. I have 365 days until I'm a year older so I want to make the best out of this one. I have so many things that I want to do that I need to be organized. I can fall off s wagon super easy so have a planner is exactly what I need.

I've been seeing planners everywhere and while I'm obsessed with Bando I wasn't able to grab one of them as they sold out super fast. So I searched the web for the perfect one and luckily this cute one came to my rescue. I was able to get this Goal Digger planner for $25 and with the help of my cute pens I was ready to get to work.

Along with my planner I got these super cute pens to make writing more fun. Because my planner isn't a basic black and white one using colored pens gives it a bit more life and makes me want to write in it a bit more. Every week when I sit down to make my plans I choose colors that match my current mood and I write things that I actually plan on doing.

As per usual, I write down appointments and the like on the left side of my daily entries and things that I want to do that day, or by that day, on the right. This helps me get prepped for my week as there is nothing more satisfying than being able to check something off. It also lets me see all of my submission due dates physically. 

I know that everything is digital these days and my iPhone is perfect for keeping myself on track but there's something I find really fun about writing goals down and being able to check them off. This year I plan on being a true goal digger!

Aug 3, 2016

Easy Caprese Sandwich

I love tomatoes. Love love love! They go with everything and make every meal super refreshing. When it comes to maintaining, and trying to shed some weight, I tend to eat low/no-carbs meals a few times a week and eating a caprese sandwich is one of my favorites. It's super easy, has cheese, which I love, and it's actually quite filling.

There really is no recipe needed and it's only 5 ingredients. If you make caprese salads the only difference is that you can use the top and bottom of the tomato to have 'buns'.

Most of my meals comprise of of these staples: tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and basil. Before I constructed it I added salt, pepper and olive oil and let things sit for about 10 minutes. While I love the taste of all of these ingredients separately they taste even better after marinating in that for a bit.

After that it was just a matter of adding some balsamic vinegar, put all together and it was ready to get in my belly. It's totally something you should try out if you love caprese salads and want to try it in a different way. Plus, if you like the feeling of eating a burger you can totally trick yourself into thinking that you're having one.

Jul 29, 2016

5 Skincare Products to Perk Your Up & Calm You Down

Wake Up & Calm Down

 Clean & Clear struck gold when they came out with this     product. Not only was it a much needed additional to the world of skincare but it helps perk you up with the help of Vitamin C and ginseng. I like to use this with my Neutrogena cleasnser because I get my skin clean and scrubbed in one shot!

Speaking of Neutrogena, when I found out that they had a Makeup Remover Cleansing Towelettes- Night Calming is similar to their regular towelettes. It does the job of making you face squeaky clean with the addition of a nice calming scent I was super excited because I need all the help I can get to help me be relaxed.

While this product doesn't come out and say that it is  calming in any way it does have lavender essential oils which are soothing. I love using Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Concentrate before bed because it's done wonders for my skin super fast. I naturally have AMAZING skin but insomnia is starting to take its toll so going to work looking refreshed is an amazing feeling.

Origins Ginzing Refreshing Scrub Cleanser is another way to perk up while washing your face. This scrub has my absolute favorite ingredient to use on my body: coffee! I've been using ground coffee to scrub my face and body for years so it's nice to use it without having my bathtub look like I was rolling around in mud all day. Along with the awesome ingredient the scent is so heavenly. The grapefruit, lemon and spearmint scent helps to perk up my skin in the mornings.

Michael Todd is a brand that I discovered last year thanks to them giving me their Soniclear to try out. Since then I've purchased a few as gifts as well as received a smaller travel sized one. Their Lavender Bar Soap is heavenly. I love lavender for the scent and it's benefits. Using this soap right before bed lets me be clean and smelling really great before I head to bed. Tossing and turning isn't so bad when you smell like lavender!

Jul 27, 2016

Get The Balance Right

This is a sponsored post for Balance however all opinions and content are my own

I'm not big on snacking. As a matter of fact, unless it's around that time, I would rather have a juicy steak or seared salmon than sweets any day. But like I said, sometimes I crave nothing but sweets. Now I'm not a health nut but ever since I moved out here to SoCal I started to put focus on what I ate and that's why sugar was totally cut from my life. Chocolate used to be my best friend but somehow (somehow? yea, suuure!) it got in my head that sugar, sweets and fun food were bad and eventually my love for it dissipated.

Now that I'm not as obsessive with what I eat, and am allowing myself to have some 'fun', I want to have snacks that aren't going to send me over the deep end. I want to satisfy my craving for chocolate without feeling guilty if I didn't work out that day (or week) so thankfully Balance came to my rescue

Balance gave me a few of their bars to try out and I feel in love with the Chocolate Peppermint Patty. It reminds me of peppermint mocha lattes but with a tasty crunch. It also allows me to balance out my juicing with a little bit of indulging. At under 200 calories I don't feel guilty about eating a bar as a snack amidst spinach and kale and true to its name it. And along with their three other new flavors (Dark Chocolate Pecan Turtle, Dulce De Leche and Chocolate Caramel Peanut Nougat) the Chocolate Peppermint Patty is an excellent source of fiber with 5-6 grams per bar. This is perfect for me because I juice as opposed to making smoothies so I lose a great source of fiber by doing that so getting the fiber I need plus having something sweet and tasty is a win-win in my book. It's so cool to have found a perfect balance between the suppressed love of sweets that is trying to come out and eating nothing but greens and protein. 

Balance can be purchased at CVS, Amazon and some Walmart stores and are sold in full-sized bars as well as mini bars (the new flavors) so if you're anything like me and tend to be super stringent one week and eating nothing but chocolate chip cookies and other sweets the next, eating Balance bars every now and then as a snack might help you snack smarter the way it's helping me. And if you're in California check out their Facebook page to see where you can catch the Balance Truck sampling tour this summer and try it out for yourself!

Now If you're not in the LA area and can't make it to any of the Balance Trucks you can win a 16-pack box of Balance in one of their new flavors! To enter just leave a comment letting me know how you plan to use Balance bars to #Cravefreely this summer!

Jul 20, 2016

Gym Bag Essentials That'll Freshen You Up Before Your Workout!

Thank you Cottonelle® for sponsoring this post. Share your Clean Confession with Cottonelle® and enter to win a VIP trip for two to Wanderlust 108 in Miami!

I'm going to put all the cards out on the table. I'm a new workout junkie. When I was living in NYC the only thing I ever brought to the gym was a cold water bottle and towel but now I have a bag that's filled with so much more.

Even though I have a gym in my building that is open 24 hours I still do some classes, mainly Pure Barre, to switch things up a bit and not lose my interest in working out. I have a gym bag that (to me) is jam packed with everything I'll need to get ready to sweat so here's what I have in there and what think everyone else should have as well!

1. Yoga Pants

I used to work out in sweats but these are just so much cuter and COMFY!!! They're much better than shorts, I can run some errands before I hit the gym and not feel out of place (this is LA after all) and they are in my way restricting when I am doing any kind of work out.

2. Grippy Socks

The classes that I take are meant to be either barefoot or with socks so I always make sure I have these in my gym bag. I have zero interest in slipping when I already have a hard time keeping myself balanced!

3. Sports Bra

My girls will not have fun without my trusty sports bra. I've been buying the same ones year after year because I finally found one that I can not only wear while working out but also to and from the gym without having the uniboob. These sports bras have hooks in the back like a traditional bra as the straps have really strong velcro which is great for me because as I lose weight (YES!) I need to make constant adjustments. 

4. Cottonelle® CleanRipple Texture Wipes

Did you notice anything missing? I'll point it out to you: panties. I like to work out with as littleas possible and Cottonelle lets me get away with that! Only Cottonelle® CleanRipple Texture is designed to clean better, so I'm clean enough to Go Commando. It makes sure that I have all the confidence I need while I'm doing positions that I've never done before. The last thing I need is to worry about my undies make me uncomfortable and taking my concentration away from what the instructor is asking for. Cottonelle® knows it takes a bold confidence to go commando, but once you’ve got it – it makes all the difference. 

5. Make-up Remover

I don't always hit the gym straight from home and even though I take the barre classes only a few blocks away I have my days where I lose all motivation once I look at my couch. Being able to wash my makeup off is a total must because I don't want to clog up y pores by combining it with sweat. I also don't want a dirty towel. EEK!

Aside from these gems I also always have my iPhone (for when I'm working out on machines) and my hoodie because it always makes me feel like I'm ready to kick some calories to the curb when I'm in full workout mode.

So there you have it! Now along with carrying these items in my gym bag I also make sure to have them in my bathroom because they are just a lifesaver. Having a clean face is my number one focus in life but I also like keeping the right toilet paper and Cottonelle® CleanRipple Texture is what works for me because it's designed to clean better than other leading value brands and their wipes are totally flushable. A problem I have with about 90% of the ones out there.

You can tell a lot about a person by what they keep in their bathroom and mine says I'm like to be as fresh as possible. What does yours say?

Ohhh and don't miss out on the Cottonelle® sweepstake. You can get a chance to win an all-inclusive trip to their  Wanderlust 108 Festival in Miami on October 22! Click on the link above to enter. 
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Love Affair with Lavender

Lavender is my go-to for 2016. I love the way it smells, tastes and how it looks. I never really paid attention to it until a few months ago and now I want it everywhere. I planted some lavender seeds in April that started to grow a bit but sadly, they stopped growing for me. I really want to use them to make soap but I read somewhere that in order to do that I also needed to get the oil.

So the search for lavender oil began. Unfortunately, it isn't cheap. It's one of the priciest oils I've searched for and it took me a long time to commit to getting it. I not only wanted the oil for soap making but because I really love the smell of glade's lavender vanilla plugin but wanted to try creating my own version.

Luckily I was sent Avenir Oils Lavender Oil to try out so far I love it! Before I even used it on my diffuser I spent a good 30 minutes passing it under my nose and soaking up the amazing, soothing scent. They're really light, super authentic and there isn't anything synthetic in the way they smell. After I was done with that I put a few drops on my diffuser and it filled up my bedroom quick with the light scent of lavender.

I have to resist the urge to use it all on my diffuser because I like putting some drops in the wash as well as in my soaps. I seriously want to put this in everything but I'll save it for some burning and the soap. Now if I could only get my lavender flowers to grow I would be in total heaven! The best part is is that it's only $7 and is 100% pure.

If you want to see what Avenir Oils has to say about the benefits of lavender in their write-up here.

Surprise Flowers to Brighten Your Day

I've become a gardening junkie as of late but aside from sunflowers everything that I grow is for ingredients that I can juice with. I never knew how great gardening could be until I actually started doing it. Nurturing and watching something grow is pretty cool. Especially if you can eat it after a few months!

EcoFarms Wildflower Seed Kit came with nine different types of seeds for me to plant without telling me exactly what will grow but instead gives me a color scheme. The major thing that EcoFarms wants you to know if that they want to brighten up your home and make you feel good. They also give you this little guide below that lets you in on what could make you feel amazing subconsciously.

The little boxes that the seeds come in are super cute and I've planted some in my garden and can't wait for them to start growing. If they grow fast enough thanks to my awesome sunlight I might get a bunch of cute pots so I can start then outside and have them throughout my apartment to have a little bit of happiness in whatever room I go into

I love how cute and little these are!

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