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Jul 21, 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 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!

Jul 19, 2016

FreshJax Grilling Spice Set

If you know me then you know that I love love love cooking. Granted, my day job has been pretty hectic as of late so I don't have the time to experiment with healthier, yet super tasty alternatives to the foods I love.

Flavor for me is everything so these FreshJax Grilling Spices Gift Set spices are super handy. So far I've cooked some pretty boring meals but wanted to try one of the out so I started with the Peppered Habanero. Being from the Northeast I was never a spice fan until I moved out to SoCal. Now I can't get enough of it and want everything spicy. EVERYTHING! I made pasta with sausage to take to work because it's quick and easy and I made sure to cook the sausage with some butter and the spice in order to really get it in there. I had a few pieces before I packed it up and it was awesome. I didn't feel the need to add red pepper flakes to it and I do that with practically everything that I make.

Combined with the pasta, the outcome was awesome. I try not to load my pastas with tons of sauce anymore because I tend to use it as a filler these days and not like as an "I'm having pasta with" meal. I prefer it t be the opposite. In the meal I had sausage, spinach, tomatoes, garlic, parmesan cheese and some angel hair pasta and the way the spice complimented it was amazing. I know it's meant for grilling but I don't grill so this is how I'll use it.

The next one I'm going to try is the citrus pepper. I've been craving fish a lot these days and love cooking it with lemon pepper so it's an obvious choice. The rest, well, now that work has slowed down a bit, I'll be cooking a lot more and will try them all out in no time.

Summer grilling season is still here for another 6 weeks so take advantage of these gifts sets that are sold on Amazon that you want your favorite cook to use.

My Morning Green Juice

Oh juicing, I hate how it gets such a bad rap. First, people think it's only for weight loss and go into a long rant about why it's unhealthy to just drink juice. I normally let them go on and on until I remind them that I eat. And I eat a lot! But for the last two weeks I've been getting up earlier and giving myself more time between working and and heading to work in order to make a green juice. 

Unless I'm super hungover I can't eat anything before 11am so having a juice after my workout fills me up and holds me over until lunch. A few years ago I did a juice cleanse with my cousin and it had me juicing beets, oranges, pineapples, the works. But 1: I'm not a huge fan of fruits and 2: fruits have TONS of sugar! On the flip side I was never a big fan of veggies until I joined my cousin in the cleanse. Before I started juicing I would die if i saw beets or celery in my food. And ginger? No way. I didn't want that anywhere near me. But now I love those and put tons of celery and some ginger in my morning juice. 

Like I said, I'm not a fan of fruits but a juice made with celery, kale, spinach and cucumbers isn't the tastiest thing ever but when lemon and green apples are added it's like a whole new world. Suddenly it becomes something I always want more of instead of something I have to force feed myself. I used to always put carrots in mine but for some reason I stopped. Maybe it's because they made my beautiful juice look really gross. Okay not maybe, that's totally the reason.

Anyway, here's some green juice porn for you to look at along with the 'recipe' below.

Swiss Chard
Green Apple

This is a juice so there really isn't much to it but before I put the leafy greens through the juicer I steam them for about five minutes. I do this because it's supposed to help the body absorb more of the iron. I also always squirt lemon on them after because vitamin c helps absorb even more iron. For me this is imperative because of my iron deficiency*. I also chase the leafy greens with lemon while I juice because it lets the juicer break it down better. I sometimes cheat by wrapping them around lemon wedges since the mouth of my juicer is so big. Also don't ask me how much of what is in it. I aside from always using a whole apple, cucumber and half a lemon the rest is just however much I think will fill a jar. I do have a food scale that I've never used though so I might weight everything one day for you guys.

I can practically juice everything whole but I like chopping. 

This loud and scary beast doesn't photograph well

No filter, just good lighting and beautiful greens

The aftermath. What the veggies look like after extraction

Look at that amazing color! There's no way anyone can see that and not want to taste it. I love how the apple makes the earthy taste go away and the kick from the ginger. Because this isn't a cold press juicer it ends up being slightly cooler than room temperature which is great because I can't drink warm juice. The Vitamix is a great appliance for smoothies and soups but I can't ever get a smooth juice out of it and of course without ice it's always really warm and that's just gross.

If I don't chop the veggies and not including the time it takes to clean the juicer this takes about 10 minutes tops and I can finish drinking it while I'm getting ready for work much easier than I can with pancakes or an omelet. And then again, I'm getting what my body needs in one delicious and organic drink. Now let's just hope it sticks this time!

*Before anyone says popping a pill is better be aware that the body only takes in a certain amount of iron in that form. Trust me, I've done my research on that. Having cold hands and feet, along with always feeling tired isn't fun.

Jul 15, 2016

10 Skincare Buys Under $10

When it comes to skincare I'm a firm believer in buying products that work well, no matter the cost. I won't buy something just because it's cheap and I don't think a product works better because of its price. However, being that I've been in this skincare game for oh, I don't know, a million years, I've come to find products that are not only inexpensive but also do an awesome job taking care of my skin. Check these out:

Simple Facial Wipes $5.99
Facial Wipes are SUPER important. They're a great way to clean the makeup off your face when you're hitting the gym to avoid having your towel look like a dirty, colorful experiment. Trust me, I've had a lot of experience with that! I also like to keep them in my carryon when I travel because I always want to land looking fresh faced. These wipes by Simple are not only super awesome but they work for all types of skin. Oh, and they smell amazing!

Neutrogena Fresh Foaming Cleanser $5.29

I write about the Fresh Foaming Cleanser by Neutrogena non stop. Ever since it was introduced into my life a few years ago I was sold. This cleanser is great because not only does it wash my face but it also wipes off all of my makeup, which lets me get away with only using one product before heading to bed. 
Alba Botanica Natural AcneDote Oil Control Lotion $9.99
I was born with great skin (thanks mama!) so I never had an issue with acne. I think I always got a pimple about once a month, if that. But sometimes my skin can get super oily, especially when I've been lazy and haven't taken care of it as much as I should. Alba Botanica's Oil Control Lotion does a pretty cool job of mattyfing my face while treating it with my second favorite skincare ingredient, Salicylic Acid. 
Burt's Bees Hibiscus Tinted Lip Balm $4.99

Lip balm is super important, especially if you live in a place that gets super cold and/or windy. Plain old chapstick is nothing. It's just wax, it smells awful and it's so obvious that it does absolutely nothing. I've always liked using Burt's Bees lip products but their Tinted Lip Balm is the best one so far. I like how soft it leaves my lips as well as the hint of color that it gives.

Biore Deep Pore Charcoal Cleanser $7.99
While I adore my Neutrogena cleanser sometimes I need a little deep cleaning thanks to creepy blackheads. Biore's Deep Pore Charcoal Cleanser is great because charcoal has recently been found to get rid of all the nasties in our faces and a lot of companies are throwing it into their products. Sometimes when I feel like I need a little extra help I'll mix the two together because....why not?!?

Freeman Feeling Beautiful Clay Mask, Avocado & Oatmeal $3.99

I love using face masks because they always leave my skin feeling super soft. They help deep clean my pores and kinda makes me feel like I've had a nasty layer of skin removed. Freeman's Clay Mask with Avocado & Oatmeal is a great mask because not only is it affordable but the avocado, oatmeal and Vitamin E helps to keep my skin moisturized for a long time.

Clean & Clear Morning Burst Hydrating Facial Cleanser $4.99

I love the feeling of microbeads in the morning! And Clean & Clears Morning Burst Hydrating Facial Cleanser is the best way for me to get it! I love this water based cleanser because it lets my skin get a good scrub in the morning and wakes it up as I'm trying to wake up myself. The scent is really great and I love how my skin feels immediately after using it. Sometimes I use it at night but I prefer to exfoliate in the mornings.

St. Ives Blackhead Clearing Scrub, Green Tea $4.00

Because I've never suffered from acne, I've never needed to use something that helped with inflammation but again, blackheads. eek! My cousin introduced me to St. Ives Blackhead Clearing Green Tea Scrub and I became hooked. This is a great alternative to Morning Burst if you're not a fan of microbeads and need to reduce redness. It makes my skin feel really dry afterwards but I fix that with moisturizer.

Cetaphil Moisturizing Lotion for all Skin Types Lotion $8.99

And now, back to a moisturizer. Cetaphil Moisturizing Lotion is great for people that aren't product junkies like myself. This lotion (along with their cleanser) is great for all skin types so it won't be irritating and it can be used on the body as well as the face. It's not greasy and it gives my skin what it needs when it feels like it's dry after using certain cleansers.

Garnier Clean + Shine Control Cleansing Gel For Oily Skin $6.29

I love Garnier products because they've always been good to me. More than half of my haircare products are from them and now I'm venturing into their skincare line. Garnier Clean+ Shine Control Cleansing Gel is another one of my go-to products when I'm feeling particularly oily and/or have makeup that needs to be removed while getting my face nice and clean.

There you have it! Proof that you don't have to spend a lot of money to keep your face from being dry, shiny or oily. A lot of these products are interchangeable so I get to pick and choose which ones to use on any given day and that kinda adds a bit of fun to my morning/nightly routine. 

Jul 13, 2016

Mini Cheese Shelled Tacos

I love tacos but being on a no/low carb diet means I have to stay away from them and pretty much all the Mexican food that I adore. Before I started thing whole thing I was eating tacos for lunch 2-3 times a week. And I always had three of them: two carne asada ones and one fried fish taco. Ah-maize-ing! But alas, not carbs=no tortillas while also= no tacos. Or so I thought!

Thanks to the handy dandy internet I stumbled across a recipe for tacos using cheese for a shell on Buzzfeed. I'm a cheese addict so I was really excited about giving this a shot. During my first week of keeping my carbs to a minimum I was creatively cooking everyday and this is just one of the many things that I made and will now have to perfect!

Parmesan Cheese
Mozzarella Cheese
Red Pepper Flakes

I was really happy to know that making this was super easy. I didn't do any measuring for the cheese so I made a bunch of piles assuming they would spread. I mixed the parmesan and mozzarella because I thought they would be better than cheddar, even though cheddar would have made it look more like a taco shell.

I used a non stick baking mat that is great for baking pretty much everything. I love using it for the rare times that I make cookies because I always manage to burn them. Argh

I put some red pepper flakes in with the cheese because I put them in almost everything and I wanted to give the shell a little bite. Once those were mixed into the cheeses it was time to hit the oven for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees.

I have to say that I expected the cheese to spread but I was terribly wrong. The cheese didn't cook as much as I wanted to after the 10 minutes so I was able to take a spatula and spread them out a little so that I'd have more of a surface to work with.

I left the cheese in the oven for five more minutes and took them out because I didn't want them to burn. My apartment smelled amazing. I mean, it's cheese! 

I had to have everything ready to go when the shells needed to be shaped because the cheese started to harden super fast. As it was I had to pop a few in the microwave because they got a bit stiff so the time between removing them from the oven, blotting out the grease and getting them shaped had to be less than 2 minutes. No joke!

While the cheese shells were hardening I got to work on what would actually be in the tacos. I used my staples: avocados and tomatoes and shredded spinach. I used mahi-mahi for the meat and that was cooking with garlic and a bit of olive oil--nothing too crazy! I seasoned the tomatoes with salt and pepper and then waited for the shaped shells to cool off.

Can we discuss how awesome this is? The fact that I'm able to have tacos while on a low carb diet is pretty amazing. The dried up shells weren't oily to the point where I had to wash my hands immediately after which was great.

How amazing do these tacos look? They were the perfect size for me because I haven't been able to eat so much in one siting because my lack of carbs changed my appetite. I opted against using sour cream as well as shredded cheese because I mean c'mon, a person can really only have so much cheese at once.

I'm really happy with how they turned out. Although I initially wanted them a bit bigger I realized that these were the perfect size for someone who loves to eat but doesn't want to overdo it. I'm definitely going to add these to the list of finger foods that I have on the menu when I have get-togethers. Their size make them a really great finger food and the shell is packed with tons of flavor.

Next time I make these I'm going to make sure that I have cilantro instead of spinach and will throw some hot sauce in with the cheese to give it a nice little kick.

Jul 6, 2016

Mahi-Mahi Salad

I'm just going to say it, carbs are my best friend. They make me sluggish, tired and do nothing for my waistline but they taste so good that it's hard to not eat. But because I love to torture myself in order to break bad habits I have officially cut carbs off for the month of February.

When I first moved to LA I did the South Beach Diet and it helped me lose my sweet tooth (I rarely eat sweets or desserts) and got me into veggies because I was never really a fan. I also learned how to cook fish which I was never able to master before.

I mentioned this to a few coworkers and they said it was a great thing to do but eating healthy is so expensive. NOT TRUE! Especially here in Los Angeles where we have access to the best produce for almost half the cost of what it is in NYC. I managed to do groceries for the next two weeks and only spent $42. I may have to grab more sparkling water--if I can' have champagne, I still need bubbles--and a few avocados but I'm trying to stick to Phase 1 of the South Beach Diet while not going broke.

Tonight I made a really tasty dinner which I also plan on having for lunch tomorrow. It's my first time making Mahi-Mahi so I was excited to taste it. Needless to say it was amazing and I can't wait to have it again tomorrow. As per usual, I'm not a measurer (I will work on this, I promise) so you can eyeball the ingredients like I did.

Mahi-Mahi Fillet
baby Spinach
3 Garlic Cloves
Cherry Tomatoes
Fresh Parmesan Cheese
Red Pepper Flakes
Balsamic Vinaigrette

I bought the fish last night and was so eager to cook it and then I read that it has to thaw in the fridge for at least 8 hours. FAIL! So after letting it sit in the fridge while I was at work it was ready to get cooked.

I put some EVOO in a frying pan and while I waited for it to get hot I seasoned the fillet with salt and pepper.

Up next was throwing it in the pan. I cooked it on one side for about 3 minuted and then turned it over. I put the chopped up garlic in at this point to saute it a bit as well as added the red pepper flakes to the fish.

I can never make a frying pan look glamorous 

In the meantime I cut the cherry tomatoes (omg one of them exploded as I cut it and the tiles in my kitchen looked like a murder scene) and added some salt and pepper to give it a bit of flavor.

I'm a tomato addict
Once the fish was cooked I put my spinach and tomatoes in a bowl, added the parmesan cheese, sauteed garlic from the pan and then the star of the show, the Mahi-Mahi.

Spinach is so tasty and pretty

In my past life, I was a mouse. I heart cheese
It was delicious, quick and I can't wait to have it for lunch tomorrow. I'm glad I was able to make something aside from grilled chicken and veggies that is really tasty and carb free.

So. Much. Yum.

It's not lost on me that there's an avocado in the shot. Originally I was going to put some in it and save the other half for lunch tomorrow but I didn't want oxidation to ruin the color of my amazing lunch so I'll reserve serving with with avocados when I make this for more than one person.

pin me :-)

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