Thursday, December 14, 2017

Holiday Gift Guide | For Him, Her, and Them

It's that time of year again! The stores are packed with shoppers, sales are popping up all over the place, and we are all brainstorming gift ideas for loved ones.  While I can't control the first two scenarios mentioned, I may be able to help you with that last one.  Here are some gift ideas for the men, women, and loved ones in your life.

For Him

Men are so difficult to buy for! Maybe I'm just terrible at it, but I have such a hard time thinking of gifts for the men in my life.  Here are a couple of great products I've found for the guys.

Van Der Hagen Traditional Safety Razor, Shave Butter, and Shave Oil

I'll give it to the guys, shaving your face every day definitely sounds like no fun.  I can't imagine experiencing knicks, razor burn, and ingrown hairs on my face. How uncomfortable! Thankfully, us ladies don't have to experience that...and now, neither do the guys. 

The Van Der Hagen Traditional Safety Razor reduces razor burn and skin irritation while using a single double edge blade for a closer shave.  The Shave Butter keeps skin hydrated without clogging pores and improves the razor glide. It's also perfect for sensitive skin. Finally, the Shave Oil makes it easy to see where one is shaving, provides a protective barrier, softens the beard, and contains no surfactants.  If you have a guy that loves a close shave, this is the set for him! You may not be able to decrease his shave time, but you can gift him these items to improve his shaving experience. 

 Brush Hero

Have a guy (or gal) that LOVES cars.  Are you sick of giving them the typical car cleaning kit found in most box stores but have no idea what other car-themed gift you can give? Brush Hero is the product you're looking for.  This brush, yes, is a car cleaning tool. But it's different than your typical shammy/sponge.  The Brush Hero simply attaches to your garden hose and can be used to clean not only your car but pretty much anything from your bicycle spokes to your dog.  It's truly something different that is sure to come in handy.  

For Her

Sphynx

It's happened to all of us, ladies. You're minding your own business, looking cute in your dress, skirt, or shorts, when you suddenly realized you missed a spot while shaving. Maybe you step into the sunlight and see the stubble more clearly. Maybe you scratch an itch on your ankle only to feel spikes. Most of us have no other option than to just endure and hope that no one else notices that one hairy, forgotten patch.  But now, there's an easy solution.

The Sphynx combines water, a shave bar, and a razor in one purse-friendly container. Now, all we have to do is excuse ourselves for a minute to take care of that unwanted stubble. This is also perfect for someone who is constantly traveling. Plus look how cute it looks!




7th Heaven Face Masks

I can not express to you how much I personally love these masks.  This cruelty-free brand offers affordable, luxurious face masks with something for everyone.  My personal favorite is the Hot Spring Sauna mask. I love how it heats up on its own and exfoliates my skin without drying it out for a brighter complexion. Honestly, there isn't a mask I've tried by 7th Heaven that I don't like. Plus, since they are typically priced at around $2 each, you can afford to try several different kinds. They make great stocking stuffers or you could even gift a bunch as part of a spa-themed present. 








Simply Scrub Coffee Body Scrub and Coffee Body Scrub


Oh, my goodness. If you know me, you know coffee and chocolate are two of my favorite things. And these scrubs smell exactly like a strong cup of coffee and a dark chocolate brownie. That's most likely because these 100% organic and natural scrubs are actually made of organic coffee beans and organic cacao. I LOVE  Simply Scrub. Not only do they smell great and leave my skin feeling amazing, I also understand what every single (organic) ingredient in these scrubs is.  I don't need to put on body lotion after using these scrubs. They exfoliate and moisturize. They are also very affordable. The scrubs pictured are currently $14 each.

For Them

Crated with Love

Whether you are looking to give a gift to a couple you know or to your own partner, Crated with Love is an amazing option.  We've all heard, read, and been told that it's super important to continue dating your partner even after the two of you have "settled down" (meaning after you've been together awhile, moved in together, had kids, etc.). But it's pretty difficult to get out of the house on a date when you have small children at home. So much coordination, planning, and scheduling have to be done just so you can have that all special date night out with your love. Not to mention the cost and stress of finding a responsible, reliable babysitter who is actually free. So, we've all tried the "date night in" after the kids have gone to bed. But let's face it...it's hard to continue to think up fresh, fun ideas that are 1. affordable and 2. doable without waking the kiddos. 

That's where Crated with Love comes in.  Now we've all seen the date-night-in boxes before. And they normally cost so much money that most of us don't really feel comfortable spending the money every month.  But Crated with Love is just $19.99/month (and free USA shipping)! The boxes are also incredibly cute and made to help you and your partner build relationship skills. That means you will not only be spending time together while having fun, but you will also be actively working on your relationship. Crated with Love is so much more than just a subscription box, it's a relationship tool we could all use. 

Foreo Gift Sets - Mint to Be, Our Little Secrets


I am a HUGE Foreo fan. My son uses a Foreo toothbrush (it's the only one he will willingly use) and I use the Foreo Luna mini daily (and have for years). I even gave my best friend the Luna for Christmas last year...and she's used it daily ever since.  So it's not surprising that I think these gift sets are perfect for anyone. 

The Mint to Be gift set includes the ISSA Hybrid Sonic Toothbrush with 3 Marvis Toothpaste Flavors and a mouthwash concentrate.

The Our Little Secrets set includes a  LUNA mini 2, Tarte Brighter Days Highlighting Moisturizer, Tarte Rainforest for theSea Deep Dive Cleansing Gel, and Tarte Drink of H2O Hydrating Boost.








The Gift that Gives Back

TWLOHA Rain Jacket

Giving a gift that also supports a great organization is a win, win in my book. TWLOHA is a non-profit that works to help those struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide and reduce the stigma around mental health. I've supported this organization for years and love how simply stylish their merch is. This TWLOHA Rain Jacket is perfect for men and women. 

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Chew On This! How To Survive Your Baby's Teething

Written by a contributing writer



Picture Source

Do you dread going to the dentist, especially if you've got a tooth coming through? Well, the issue with our children going through teething is just as bad. Imagine, instead of you having one wisdom tooth coming through, you've got a few. This is what our poor children have to go through all the time. So, it can cause a lot of stress, not just for your children, but for us as parents. And some of us feel ill-equipped to deal with the problems that come with teething, especially all those late nights, early mornings, and that constant feeling of uselessness that we can have his parents. But, here are the best ways for you to survive your children teething and how to help them cope better with it.

Be Reassuring

This is arguably too obvious, but your children going through teething is such a difficult time in their lives. They don't know what's going on, and they are scared. So be as comforting to them as possible. Some parents take the old-fashioned approach of letting them cry it out, and we've seen now that this doesn't always work...especially when they are teething!

Know The Symptoms


There are various symptoms of children teething, and this isn't just the physical signs, such as swollen gums, as well as drooling and nappy rash. But there are other things, such as them refusing to eat food because it simply hurts too much. Luckily with the vast majority of symptoms now, there are things you can use to help alleviate the symptoms somewhat. From diaper rash cream to chewable toys that can be put in the freezer, and topical creams and ointments that can be purchased for cheap. You need to keep on top of the symptoms, and especially with issues like diarrhea or drool, these things can add more irritation to your children.

Make Sure They Rest


Issues involving teething and any other signs and symptoms will make them feel tired and cranky. Make sure that they stick to their nap routines, and if not, and teething is especially painful, it's okay to ask your pediatrician if you can give them some pain relievers, such as Anbesol or Bonjela. A routine when they are miserable and in pain can be very difficult to honor, but it's always worth putting them down for a nap at their scheduled times. You can take the French approach to parenting, and if they are upset when you put them down for a nap, wait 5 minutes, and if their crying hasn't lessened, then you can take them out and cuddle them.

Encourage The Teeth To Come Through

Naturally, your baby will start to chew on everything they see, and this helps to bring the teeth through. There are products like Bickiepegs you can buy, which they can gnaw at, as well as the aforementioned chew toys, including Sophie The Giraffe that will all help to bring the teeth through. You can also apply gentle pressure, by massaging the gums, as long as you've got clean fingers, or use wet washcloths, and in doing this, it can help to prevent bacteria, which will lead to inflammation if left to fester.

Ride It Out

It can be very stressful if your child doesn't want to eat, especially if you've been working so hard to make sure they've been gaining weight, but naturally their appetite will reduce. And because they are drooling a lot, it's important to keep their fluid intake up. But lots of frozen foods can help, so, for example, if they like bananas, you can give them a frozen banana, and this is going to help with the pain, but also it will be food that they can tolerate, as opposed to hard, crunchy foods.

Don't Lose Heart

Yes, it's very stressful, but once their first set of teeth make their way to the surface, this is the hard part done. As time goes on, and more teeth come, you will know the symptoms your child has, but also they learn to cope with the pain a little better. Remember, this is all brand new to them, and from the comfort of the womb to being thrust into a bright world, every new thing is scary to them. The best thing you can do is to protect them as best as you can, reassure them, but don't feel like you are doing a bad job. This always needs reiterating.


We all know the big tasks involved in the early years of any child's life, and teething is one of the big ones.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Holiday Family Vacation Idea: Rent a Luxurious Beavers Bend Log Cabin

Those wanting to find a secluded vacation or weekend getaway spot should consider Beavers Bend Log Cabins in Oklahoma. Imagine being in a gorgeous environment that boasts stunning luxury log cabins fit for royalty. The spectacular nature scenes can be your view while staying in an opulent cabin that brings the outdoors in. Situated close to Beavers Bend State Park and nearby Broken Bow Lake, visitors have a wealth of activities and adventures to choose from. The glorious log cabin rentals are reasonably priced and off-season bargains drop rental costs even lower. This is an ideal place to get away from the busyness of modern living.

A relaxing log cabin retreat may be just what an individual, couple, or family needs. These striking cabins are amazing inside and out. The interior design captures the essence of a tranquil forest setting. With varying rentals to select from, guests will enjoy the level of privacy that they desire. Some cabins are only rented to one to two people, ensuring those guests of quiet reflection. Those with children also have marvelous cabins available. Even pet owners can opt for a pet-friendly cabin. They need only pay a small pet fee.

Individuals wanting some outdoor adventures can choose kayaking or other activities on the lovely nearby lake and meandering river. There are outstanding hiking trails that wander through the lush forest location. Individuals can also rent bikes for a breathtaking nature ride that is so beautiful that it seems unreal. The fish are kept stocked so those that desire fly fishing will be in heaven. Guests can rent a boat slip or rent a phenomenal houseboat. Equestrian lovers can go horseback riding here and there is even a fun train ride that travels through the stables via Beavers Bend Depot.

Many take advantage of boat rentals to enjoy a peaceful day floating on the calming waters. For the more adventurous individuals, renting a fabulous jet ski will give lots of thrills. Individuals wanting an easy boat excursion can rent a paddle boat for an enjoyable ride. Family paddle boat rides are extremely fun. Tennis courts offer additional enjoyment and a miniature golf course awaits those golf enthusiasts and new recruits. The majestic natural setting provides pleasure for every personality. There is no need to drag along bikes or boats because they can be rented easily at this fine destination.

The decor inside these wonderful cabins continues the log cabin theme. Expect gorgeous wooden floors and paneling offset by natural stone or brick fireplaces. Beautiful light fixtures, like sparkling chandeliers and unique country fixtures, add warm ambiance to the already homey cabin design. There is no need to pack bed linens or cleaning equipment, as that is included in the rental price. There is no extra cleaning charge tacked on to the cost and there are zero hidden costs. Free wifi is available in the cabins and a large newer model television comes with the cabin rental. Inside the cabins, the natural wooden furniture lends a welcoming vibe. The beds are exceptionally comfortable and the other furniture accents the earthy and back-to-nature feel of these luscious cabins.

The naturally wooded locale, of Beavers Bend cabins, offers many amenities. The peaceful atmosphere makes for a stress-free getaway place.


Thursday, November 9, 2017

Self-Care Holiday Gift Ideas For Moms




Mom takes the brunt of holiday stress. She is usually the one coordinating gifts, meals, social engagements, and any family drama that may arise (we all have some, don’t feel embarrassed!). Notice that mom is looking a little depleted? A little edgy? A little more tired than her naturally bright self?  Maybe she just needs a little love. Give the gift of wellness and inspiration to the mom in your life- it's the gift that continues to give because when you fuel yourself, you have so much more to give! Here are some of my personal favorite products that have spoken to all my senses, helping me not only look my best at all my motherhood phases, but helped me reach spaces of calm and focus during the busy times that I need it most. 



Doterra essential oil diffuser:  It’s simple and compact. You plug it into a wall and choose the blend to match the mood you want. 

Sam and Maddy Make Up:  An amazing makeup line made for women to feel their own natural glow. The company was also created by a Beyond Mom who named the company after her children.

Athleta Studio WrapCozy jacket, wrapped in good vibes can be dressed up or down.

Peleton bike: Get your sweat on and workout conveniently at home when time is limited or babies are napping!

Sip Bottle:  A stylish fun bottle that will help keep you hydrated all the time. 

Frends:  Jam out to fun tunes or take time for relaxing music with these Frends headphones.

HeadspaceA daily meditation app to help you connect with your breath and silence.

Intelligent Nutrients. All organic skin-care products and great for anti-aging.

Loyal Hana:  Stylish and affordable maternity through nursing clothing.

Pacifica Candles:  Candles set the intention for calmness and these are beautiful and smell lovely!

Going Beyond Mom: How To Activate Your Mind, Body, and Business After Baby:  This is my book, and I’m so excited to teach moms how to activate and engage with the new woman also born with baby!

Lively:  For mom’s intimates! Beautiful bra and panty sets, they just launched a nursing bra, too!

Beautiful ChorusWomen from around the world, all cancer survivors. Great for meditation, positivity, togetherness, community, and reminding yourself of the life you want to live.



Intention is everything! When we dress ourselves in ways that honor our beauty (inside and out), we feel beautiful. When we use products and tools to bring calm and focus to our lives, we feel those positive effects. When we get moving, we clear out negativity and stress! Help mom live the life she deserves this holiday season. And, of course, tell her how grateful you are for everything she does.



RANDI SOCIAL:




       Beyond Mom website

       Twitter: @randizinn

       Facebook

       Instagram



ABOUT RANDI ZINN:

Randi Zinn is the founder of Beyond Mom and BeyondMom.com. Born from her own experience of motherhood, and the desire for a more connected community- Beyond Mom offers: content, podcasts, mixers, events, and retreats for forward-thinking Moms. She encourages moms to cultivate a life “Beyond Mom”- one that embraces the gifts of motherhood but expresses all that they are as individuals: creators, businesswomen, thinkers, friends, and so much more.




Her writing has appeared in Honest Company Blog, FitBump, Epoch Times and Well Rounded NY. She is a certified yoga instructor through Laughing Lotus NY and has taught since 2008.


Randi’s first book Going Beyond Mom: How To Activate Your Mind, Body & Business After Baby, will be published on September 19, 2017.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Organic Makeup vs Regular Makeup

Written by a contributing writer


Organic makeup is beginning to make waves in the beauty world. More people are turning to organic options and rejecting the chemical-laden options have been conventionally popular. But is that the right decision? And is organic makeup really any better than other types of makeup? Let's explore the benefits of organic makeup and see what it really has to offer.



Image Source


They Usually Contain Natural Essential Oils

One of the best things about using organic makeup is that it often contains natural essential oils. These can help to keep your skin hydrated in a very soothing manner. That’s not something that we typically see in other types of makeup products. Some essential oils can also help brighten skin, prevent acne, or heal dry patches. Check the labels on your beauty products to see which essential oils they can contain.

It’s Good for the Planet

As well as being good for you and your skin, organic products are actually very good for the planet. That’s definitely one thing worth noting and celebrating. You can find out more about eco-friendly beauty products http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/organic-beauty-products-earth-day_n_5184712 if you’re interested. It always feels good to do your bit for the planet, so try to keep this in mind when you’re deciding which type of makeup you are going to purchase.

Lower Chance of Harsh Reactions

Compared to many ordinary makeup products, your chances of experiencing a harsh reaction from using organic makeup is lower. Of course, there is always a small chance that you could be allergic or sensitive to an ingredient in any makeup or beauty product. But the chances typically aren't as high as ordinary makeup and that’s one reason why organic products are rising in popularity right now. No one wants to deal with the nasty after-effects of having a reaction to the makeup you use.

It’s More Affordable Than Many Imagine

Many people assume that organic makeup will be a lot more expensive than it actually is. You can hardly blame people for making that assumption because it’s certainly true that the word ‘organic’ causes the price of food items to shoot up. That’s not really the case for makeup products, though. You can find organic makeup that suits all budgets. You can browse different brands and consider their affordability at https://soundbodylife.com/best-organic-makeup-brands/. See for yourself how affordable it can be.


There Are Limitations to be Aware of Too, Though

It’s important not to simply skip over the limitations that come with using organic makeup products. It’s not all good news. For example, because these products don’t contain preservatives, it means that they won’t last as long without becoming unsafe to use. Organic makeup is never really waterproof and that might be a major problem for some consumers. There are also limitations in terms of color compared to normal makeup.


All in all, as long as you’re aware of the bad as well as the good, organic makeup is worth trying out. You could find you like it more than the makeup products that you’re used to.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Updated Skincare Routine: Oily to Dry Skin (Vegan Skincare, Cruelty-Free Skincare Products)

Skincare is my FAVORITE aspect of beauty. So I switch up my skincare routine often...mostly because I like to try new products. BUT this time, I had to.  My skin has gone from super oily most of my life, to combination leaning towards oily over the past few years, to now becoming dry. I still have acne prone skin that breaks out (REALLY?!) but now my skin needs more moisture than ever. And finding moisture that is "enough" but doesn't clog my pores and break out my skin? That's difficult! On top of those challenges, I've also been making an effort to find more cruelty-free products. Through that, I've been trying more "natural" products. But here's the thing, natural or not, if a product doesn't give me the results I want, I won't use it.

So... through much trial and error, here are the products I've been using regularly. And if you thought my skincare routine was a little extra before, you're going to see I've only added to it. I don't know how long this routine will last, but my skin has been loving it.

Facial Cleansers

One of the first things I had to do was cut out my salicylic acid cleansers. Now that my skin is drier, they seemed to just cause more harm than good. I first started with Perfectly Posh's That's So Cuke! foam cleanser.

That's So Cuke! (Cruelty-Free, Vegan)

It's refreshing, gentle, and gives my skin a nice clean feeling without leaving it tight and dry. As I started trying more products, I changed my routine to using Perfectly Posh's Bright Young Thang in the morning (with my Foreo Luna Mini) and using Neutrogena's  Pore Refining Exfoliating Cleanser at night.

Bright Young Thang (Cruelty-Free, Vegan)

Bright Young Thang is creamy and moisturizing without being greasy. After 3 uses, I noticed a big change in how my skin looked and felt. It was smoother, more even toned, and a tad brighter. This cleanser is also from Perfectly Posh's Look Natural line. So the scent is light and there are no artificial dyes. The Look Natural line also tends to be great for sensitive skin.

Neutrogena Pore Refining Exfoliating Cleanser

I was surprised I liked this cleanser to be 100% honest. Normally my skin doesn't get along very well with Neutrogena. Yes, they have a few products here and there that my skin tolerates. But typically, the brand just isn't one of my go-to's.  But I decided to try this cleanser because it has glycolic acid. Glycolic acid is one of those hit or miss ingredients for many. I've known for years that it works really well with my skin. For me, it heals and prevents breakouts, evens my skin tone, and brightens my complexion. But for others, it can be too harsh and dry out the skin.  And even though I do like this cleanser and use it nightly, there are times when I do need to take a break from it and use the That's so Cuke instead. Just to avoid drying out my skin.


Next, I added two things into my routine: Toner and serum.  During my Proactiv days, I used toner regularly (and I really loved Proactiv's toner by the way). But eventually, I phased that out of my routine. I just didn't feel like doing it anymore. (That's what I mean when I say 'we'll see how long this routine lasts.') But I saw this Green Tea Serum Toner by Glow Recipe and I was intrigued.

Toner/Serum

Green Tea Serum Toner (Cruelty-Free, Natural Ingredient Focus)

Glow Recipe is a beauty brand located in the US that focuses on creating Korean beauty products using natural ingredients. Their products are cruelty-free and also free of Triclosans, BPAs, Parabens, Hydroquinone, Tar, Benzophenones, Talc, Aluminum, Laureth Sulfates/Sodium Lauryl, DEET, Formaldehyde, PABA, Toluene, Camphor, Phthalates and Microbeads, and PVC. Their products are pretty affordable (especially considering the quality) and can be found at Target.

The Green Tea Serum Toner got my attention because I know my skin tends to like products with green tea. I had also already tried (and loved) their Green Tea Clay Mask, so I figured this was probably a good bet. And I was right. It definitely does dry down like a toner but there is a smoothness to it. It leaves my skin very soft instead of squeaky, tight, or dry like most toners do.

Derma E Vitamin C Concentrated Serum with Hyaluronic Acid ( Cruelty-Free, Vegan, Gluten-Free, Soy-Free)

So this is a completely new step for me. I've never really used serums under a moisturizer before. My skin was oily so I never really felt the need to. But when I started trying to figure out how to combat the dryness my skin was experiencing, a serum seemed like a logical choice. I chose this serum because it had really great reviews. And I can see why.

First off, it smells like Fruit Loops. Yes, the cereal. It doesn't sound like that would automatically be a good thing...but it is. I typically don't like scents in my skincare. But this one is refreshing and not at all overpowering. I LOVE how this makes my skin feel. Super soft, doesn't break out my skin, and it makes it much easier to put my beauty balm (we will get to that) on. I use it in the morning and at night. And it seems to have added moisture without feeling greasy or causing a shiny look.

Moisturizer

We're almost done! After the serum, I put on my moisturizer. During the day I use Andalou Natural's Beauty Balm. At night I switch off between Ole Henriksen's Invigorating Night Creme and Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cream (I have the Autism Speaks Limited Edition packaging).

Andalou Naturals Vitamin C BB Beauty Balm Sheer Tint SPF 30 (Cruelty-Free)

I wasn't too sure about this one when I first tried it out.  First off, I was expecting it to have the texture of a moisturizer like a BB cream. But it truly is a balm. I also have to really work it into my skin to get it to absorb. But once I got used to the texture, I really started to love this beauty balm. SPF 30 is hard to find in skincare moisturizers. And one that doesn't cause an extreme break out on my skin is even harder to find. It does work as both a moisturizer and a primer. It smooths out the look of my skin when applied.

 Ole Henriksen's Invigorating Night Transformation Creme (Cruelty-Free)

Full disclosure: I did not pay full price for this night cream. I found it at Marshall's for $12.99. If you're going to try new skincare, check your local discount stores first to see what they may have. And if you see anything you may like from Ole Henriksen - grab it! I LOVE this brand. I've tried a few of their face masks in the past and their products just seem to work. This cream has AHA's in it - including glycolic and lactic acid. So you know why I picked it up initially.

This cream makes my skin glow and, as a bonus, quickly heals any breakouts. I use a very small amount each time. It doesn't take a lot of product for this cream to be effective. Though I do use this cream most nights, I don't use it every night.  After a few nights of use, my skin craves more moisture.

Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cream

I use this cream when my skin needs a break from the Ole Henriksen's cream above. I love it because it's moisturizing, not greasy, and unscented. It's seriously a very simple face cream. I would recommend this one to anyone who is just starting to use night cream and not really sure what their skin's needs are yet.

Perfectly Posh's As Good As Gold Skin Stick (Cruelty-Free, Vegan)

This really isn't a cream. But it's what I use under my eyes every night. It's super moisturizing so I only need to use a little bit each night. It also doesn't irritate my skin or give me those little white bumps that I get from most eye creams. I've already repurchased this twice! If Perfectly Posh ever discontinues this, I don't know what I'll do for my under eyes.

And now.... for my favorite part...

FACE MASKS! 

They are the best part of skincare in my opinion.

Envy This (Cruelty-Free, Vegan)

Envy This by Perfectly Posh has become a tried and true. I love this mask. It's a little moisturizing, refreshing, and "brightens and tightens" my skin. My skin tone is visibly more even after each use.


Green Tea Clay Mask by Glow Recipe (Cruelty-Free, Natural Ingredient Focus)

This was the first product I tried by Glow Recipe.  I saw a video reviewing face masks by YouTuber Ingrid Nilsen and she mentioned how this mask was the only drugstore face mask she really liked. I made a mental note and when I came across the Glow Recipe section during my next visit to Target, I purchased the mask. I tried it that night and immediately saw why Ingrid loved it so much. It makes my skin glowy and silky smooth. Even taking the mask off is a different experience than usual.  Although it does dry like many other clay masks, the way it washed off felt different. As soon as water hit the dried mask on my face, it turned back into its original creamy goodness for a very soothing experience.  I'm so glad I watched that YouTube video!

Andalou Naturals Coconut Milk Firming Mask (Cruelty-Free)

This was the first thing I bought when I realized my skin was drying out ("Why does my skin always feel like it's burning?!") It is very soothing and does add moisture to the skin. Is it super hydrating? It wasn't for me. It's a light mask that smells good and did seem to calm my skin. It didn't cause a breakout and after I used it my skin stopped feeling like it had a million little paper cuts all over my face.





Thursday, October 5, 2017

Mommy Must-Have: Minos Moka Pot

It's no secret that I'm a coffee lover. I have three different kinds of "coffee machines" at my home. But, one of those machines stands out. When I really need a boost, when I really need something more than just a standard cup of coffee, I go for my Minos Moka Pot. Why? One word: Espresso. That beautiful beverage that is somehow relaxing and energizing all at once.

Now, I've had other stovetop espresso makers in the past. And, to be completely honest, I shied away from using them regularly. Not because I don't like expresso (clearly, I do) but because they were either slow to brew, difficult to clean, or just a hassle to use in general. But the minos is much different. Although it seems to work basically the same way, it's somehow more efficient (no waiting around FOREVER for my coffee) and much easier to take apart and clean (no weird vacuum happening). It's also a just much prettier pot. I can leave it out on the countertop for display instead of having to hide it away in the cabinets. I also love how you can change the silicone on the handles. It's a little touch, but one that makes this Moka pot feel much more customized.

The finished product is also, of course, important. The espresso comes out smooth (no grounds present at all!) and rich. Just how expresso should be.  Overall, this little pot packs a whole lot of punch. Effective, pretty, and all around easy. Perfection!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

How Busy Moms Can Ensure Their Careers Are Just As Rewarding As Their Home Lives

Written by a contributing writer



Most people love being at home with their kids, but pretty much always find something negative to say about their jobs. Why does it have to be this way? Why can’t parents find ways to make their careers just as rewarding as the life they lead at home? The truth is, they can!

Here are some suggestions to help you if you want to feel more fulfilled in every aspect of your life:

Choose A Career That Incorporates All Of Your Transferable Skills

Think about all of the transferable skills you have that can be used in a new job role. This doesn’t just mean the skills you’ve acquired in other ‘official’ jobs, but the skills you’ve acquired as a parent! There are so many skills and roles that parents take on daily. Just some of the skills you’ll have after having children include:
  • Communication and listening
  • Problem solving
  • Crisis management
  • Supervising
  • Mentoring and teaching
  • Time management
  • Financial management

There are likely so many more too. Can you think of a career where you can use the skills you picked up as a parent?

Of course, the skills you have as an individual and skills you’ve picked up in previous jobs make all the difference too. By choosing a career that incorporates all of your skills, you’ll feel more fulfilled each day.


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Pick A Career That Really Makes A Difference

If you want your career to be just as rewarding as your home life, you’re going to need to pick a career that you know really makes a difference. There are all kinds you can go for depending on the qualifications you currently have and whether you’re willing to go back to school/training. You could become a nurse, a teacher, a counselor, or even a social worker. Becoming a social worker is a great option, as you’ve raised your family so you may be effectively able to work with other families. But what is a Social Worker exactly? You’ll be expected to make sure children and adults are safeguarded from harm, keeping an eye on families or individuals who may be considered a risk. You can really improve the outcome of people’s lives in a role like this. That being said, you could make a difference in just about any role you choose to take on!

Define Your Priorities


If you’re going to pick a job that leaves you with a warm and fuzzy feeling, you need to make sure you’ve defined your priorities. Which is most important to you right now; your home or job? If your kids are still young, it’s likely your home. If they have grown up and are mainly doing their own thing now, it may be your career. Make sure you know what you can't compromise on to make the best decision for you at this time.


Set Boundaries At Work And At Home


Whatever you do, you need to make sure you set clear boundaries at work and at home. Learn to say no if you struggle with that at present. By learning how to set these boundaries, you’ll be able to remain present and focused on the task at hand and have a happier time doing so. You won’t feel rushed off your feet doing things you don’t even want to do!

Choose Something Flexible

If you want a great career that you’re able to fit around your family time, there are a number of options you can go for. Here’s a list of options that could help you in terms of setting a flexible schedule:
  • Financial planner
  • Interior decorator
  • Accountant
  • Makeup artist
  • Hairdresser

There are many other options too, but it’s up to you to do your research and figure out what will suit you the best. You could even start up a side business or offer your services on the side online. These things allow you to make your own money while making sure everything fits in with your current lifestyle. Many people are doing this and you can make it work if this is something you really want. People are selling the most weird and wonderful things, so don’t limit yourself. People are earning a living by drawing cartoon characters for various purposes, doing voice overs, and plenty of other things on sites like Fiverr.

Are you ready to make your career just as rewarding as your home life? Use some of these pointers and see what happens. Contrary to popular belief, work doesn’t have to feel like work! Leave any tips that have worked for you below!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

How To Make Your Kitchen Fresh Again

Written by a contributor writer




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Your kitchen is one of the most functional and used rooms of the house. It’s where all your food is prepared and it’s where a lot of people come to have a chat to whoever it is that is making the dinner or lunch that day! Because of the huge amount of use you get out of a kitchen, it can soon get incredibly boring to look at and use, so we need to change it up every now and again. But what are the best things to do to make sure it stays fresh?


Install New Appliances

When you look at a kitchen, what do you see that takes up the most space in the room? If you’re saying the appliances, then you’re 100% right! Kitchen appliances/units are the biggest factors in the looks of your kitchen because they dominate its space. This means that they’re going to dominate the tone and mood of the room too, so we’re going to want to change them if we want to spice everything up again. Buying new kitchen units means that you’re also going to get a different functionality out of your kitchen. Different units have not only different stylings, but different builds mean that the storage space that they carry is going to change slightly.  Hopefully, this will allow you to do something you couldn’t do before! Do keep in mind, though. that replacing all of the kitchen units in a kitchen is a very big job so make sure you hire a skilled laborer to do this for you as you’re not going to be able to do it yourself and could make a mess if you do!


Replace The Cooker

Your cooker is what is going to be getting used the most out of all of the items in your kitchen; it contains a stove and an oven meaning that you’re going to be using it every night when you want to cook something so it can get dull pretty quickly! Not only that but it can get damaged very easily too if you’re not careful, so sometimes we need to replace it. But even if we don’t need to, it can still change the feel of the room. The cooker is a focal point, so if we change it then we change the room! A popular choice is getting an induction cooker; this only affects the stove but it’s a much more futuristic way of cooking. Flames are not used, instead, magnets are used to generate heat to the stove which is much safer than using flame.  Just be careful with the little ones as they might be tempted to touch it! For this, you’re going to also need the best induction cookware as it won’t work with most cookware, so have a look!


Put In A New Surface

Similarly to the kitchen units, the kitchen work surface is another very large part of your kitchen and adds to the overall look of your kitchen in quite an unusual way. Your kitchen top is important because, obviously, that is where all of the work takes place! It’s where you’re going to be cutting and putting everything that you’re preparing, so it’s important to get a good quality kitchen surface that isn’t going to stain when something is inevitably spilled on it! From afar you’re not going to immediately notice what the kitchen surface is like because you’re not close enough to it, so from the entrance of your kitchen it’s really not going to matter at all, however, the more you get into the kitchen and the closer you get to it, the more you are surrounded by it and the more of it you can see which means that once you’re right up against it, it becomes the biggest thing in your eye line and therefore will dominate the tone of the room. This is what is known as subjective dominance, so make sure you like the look of your surface before you put it in!

Any of these things is going to make your kitchen like new again. Whether it’s getting a new kitchen surface in to make everything feel new again when you’re cooking, replacing all of your old units for new ones, or getting a brand new cooker, they’re all going to make your kitchen a much more exciting place to be in! Of course being in the kitchen means you’re going to have to cook things, but what are the best things to cook? Well, read this and you’ll find out!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Cruelty-Free Hair Products (Affordable Options)

That's right! I've taken my cruelty-free journey to hair! Now, while I don't exclusively use cruelty-free products, I am trying to make the effort to find cruelty-free options and switch to cruelty-free products that are comparable to the products that I currently use. So far, most of my day-to-day makeup is by cruelty-free brands. So let's see if I can find some CF hair products as well!

Maple Holistics Tea Tree Shampoo

I LOVE this shampoo. It leaves my hair clean, shiny, and it doesn't dry it out. I like the smell of tea tree oil so, of course, I love the smell of this shampoo.  The brand, Maple Holistics, specializes in cruelty-free and all-natural personal care products. I will definitely be trying more products by them! (You can get free samples from Maple Holistics here!)
Live Clean Argan Oil Restorative Shampoo and Conditioner
I used these products up! Which, unfortunately, is a rarity due to my product testing schedule. But, in all honesty, I just loved how my hair looked with this shampoo and conditioner. They make my hair completely revitalized and healthy after months in the Florida summer sun. The shampoo does have an earthy vanilla scent that took some getting used to simply because I am used to very strong fruity scents when it comes to hair care products. This scent was much more subtle and soft. I also love that you can find them in the drugstore and at Target (my Publix even carries them) at a pretty affordable price point! Live Clean also makes hand, body, and baby products.

Alba Botanica Conditioners in Coconut and Plumeria

Alba is a popular brand and probably one of the first people run to when they decide to go cruelty-free. Alba's products are hit or miss for me. And every time I get a miss, I want so badly for it to be a hit. I liked these conditioners but wasn't wowed by them.  The plumeria scent was my favorite, but I felt like I had to use a lot of product to get my hair fully conditioned. Overall, I would recommend these conditioners if you have short or medium length hair. But if you have long hair or need intense moisture, I would look elsewhere.

Baptiste Dry Shampoo

This one is a bit controversial. Baptiste has claimed they are cruelty-free, yet some sources report that they sell their products in China. (China requires animal testing in order for the product to be sold there.) To be honest, I'm not sure which is true and can't find anything from the brand other than this statement:
"Batiste Dry Shampoo is not tested on animals. While we have no connection to the Leaping Bunny Program, we use a rabbit icon to draw attention to the fact, as stated on the can, that we do not test our product on animals."

So, taking the brand for its word, I've included Baptiste on this list.  And it's my favorite dry shampoo. I've tried higher-end brands and I always come back to Baptiste. My favorite scent is Bare. It's very light, clean, and not perfumey at all. The dry shampoo soaks into my hair, leaving it soft, and feeling/looking clean. It's super easy to use, not messy, and there is no fussing with it to get it to work.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

5 Epic holiday ideas for the adventurous type

Written by a contributing writer


If you’re already planning what to do on your next big vacation, how about you go on an epic once in a lifetime adventure? If you’re the adventurous type, then typical vacations of laying down at the beach with a cocktail in your hand will definitely not do it for you. You would want something more thrilling, something that would get your adrenaline pumping right?

The good news is that there’s so much the world has to offer for those people with a thirst for adventure. Whether you want the adventure on land or under the sea, there will be something that can satisfy your thirst for something different. Check out some of the places you can go and things you can do below.

1. Swim with sharks in South Africa – sure there tours that let you get closer to whale sharks, which are not man-eating and is considered a friendly giant, but if you want the thrill of danger, go on a cage diving tour in South Africa. If you don’t consider yourself a daredevil yet and cannot swim without cages, this is the perfect tour for you. You will get to see one of nature’s most majestic, not to mention dangerous, creatures – the great white shark.


2. Trek the world’s highest peaks - if you’re looking for the most scenic and beautiful mountains, there’s probably nothing that can come close the majesty of the Himalayas. You will not only appreciate Mt. Everest, the highest peak in the world, but also the small mountain villages all over the place. The key to a great adventure in the Himalayas is that you get experts to guide you through the area. If you’re thinking of going on this adventure, get more information over at www.kandooadventures.com. They can definitely take you on the adventure of your life at the Himalayas.


3. Whitewater rafting - for those who want to ease their way into being an adventurer, you can try white water rafting first. While there are areas that are highly dangerous given the kind of rapids they have, you can try to look for some that are perfect for beginners and even families if you want to bring your kids with you. From there, you can level up and discover the more dangerous and popular routes, such as the Great Zambezi River in Zimbabwe.


4. Discover the rainforests of Costa Rica – if you want a break from mountain or water scenery, why not go on an epic adventure through the rainforests of Costa Rica? This is perfect especially for those who truly enjoy appreciating the many animals and plants that nature has to offer. You’ll see wonders such as rivers filled with crocodiles and rare orchids and birds. A trip like this should be experienced by every person at least once in their lifetime.


5. Hang Gliding at Rio De Janeiro - if you’re not the type to be deterred by heights, hang gliding from the Pedra Bonita is definitely a sight to behold. You’ll get to appreciate the Sugarloaf Mountains while traveling to the beach for your landing. Don’t forget to look for the famous Christ the Redeemer statue while enjoying the sights of Brazil!

Friday, September 8, 2017

What to Look for in Renovation Quotes

Written by a contributing writer


Deciding to start a home renovation project is a big step for any homeowner. That is why the process of finding the right renovation expert to complete the job is so important. When you are searching for quotes and getting estimates for your job, it is important to understand what that quote should include and what your rights are to change it before you sign a contract with the renovation professional. Here are three important things to look for in home renovation quotes.

Scope of Work


An important part of the estimate is knowing that both you and your contractor are on the same page when it comes to a variety of project specifications. This part of the quote should spell out clearly what the contractor will be expected to complete and the timeframe in which they will complete it. Additional information such as inspection fees, permit fees, and other costs not related to material and labor should also be clear before signing a contract.

Standards for Quality

Contractors have to meet safety requirements for each job they do, but there is no governing rules or licensing to guarantee high-quality work. If you are worried, you can include in your quote and your contract specifications for contractors to follow manufacturer instructions on materials, that all employees must act in a workmanlike manner and that they follow the standards of local trade associations, even if they are not members themselves. While you may not have to pay more to meet these standards, it may affect the original quoted timeline for the length of the project.

Bid and Allowances

When it comes to money, you want your contractor to be as transparent as possible. A good bid should provide you with the best estimate on the cost of materials (which can change depending on the type of materials you want to be used for the project), cost of labor, how many hours of labor will be required, repairs for possible damage and cleanup materials. Most quotes will have room for an allowance, which gives the contractor a certain amount of wiggle room in case costs of materials are higher. These allowances should be researched by the homeowner to determine if the contractor is providing a fair estimate in material supplies.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

The Loving Mom: Showing The Family How Much You Care

Written by a contributing writer



It is easy to take people for granted. As a mom, it probably happens to you on a daily basis. The kids don’t say thank you for making dinner or the husband doesn’t realize how much work it takes to get a clean house when you have kids. However, most mothers move on to the next day without a second thought. But, instead of hoping they show they care, why don’t you make the first move? If you start the process, they are more likely to reciprocate. And, let’s face it – very few things get done around the house without a mother’s touch.

Here are four simple ways to show your family you love them.


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Smile When You See Them

The majority of moms can’t help but shine their cheesiest grin when they see their loved ones. Whether it’s the hubby or the kids, they make you feel warm and fuzzy inside. Still, there are times when you've had it with them or when you are not feeling at your best mentally and physically. It’s these times which are the ones which cement your love. By flashing a loving smile when they walk in the room, they will know they are the center of your attention. You don’t have to speak because a smile says a thousand words.

Share Regular Meals

It is true that families don’t share the same dynamic any longer. Thanks to technology and a fast paced environment, people don’t appear to have time for a family dinner. However, sitting down and eating together is an amazing way to create a bond and keep it alive. The simple act of asking the kids and your partner how their day was is a sign you care. After all, who would ask and listen to the response if they were just going through the motions? Also, the dinner table is a place for fun and laughter, and these two elements are sure-fire signs of a loving household.



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Tell Them

Of course, the most basic method is to say it with words. Sometimes, there is no need, but people like to hear it all the same. It isn’t like the jury is out; it’s more like it feels good when it comes out of the blue. Just saying the words “I love you” is a great place to start, but you don’t even have to have the conversation face to face. If you prefer, you can slip personalized thank you cards into your family’s lunch. The feeling of warmth when they see their surprise is hard to replicate any other way. Leaving notes on the bathroom mirror has the same effect.


Use Grand Gestures

There is nothing better than a surprise which ticks all of the boxes. A card at lunch is nice, but it is human nature to want more. For example, the kids might want a trip to Disneyland over the summer, and your husband might want a new car. Although they are big gestures, they do go a long way when used sparingly. Plus, it is always nice to enjoy a vacation and come back to a brand new car!


Usually, you can show them how much you care by being the mom of the house.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Time to Find the Ideal Gift for Your Husband? Here's the Route to Success

Written by a contributing writer


Buying gifts for men is one of those things that’s always hard to do and get right. It’s just so much easier to find that ideal gift for your female friend than it is to find it for your husband. So, it’s a good idea to start thinking about this early. If his birthday is coming up, or you want to plan things extra early for Christmas, this guide will teach you how to get your approach right and get your hands on that ideal gift.

You want to find him something that he will truly appreciate. But that doesn’t mean that you have to be conventional. Sometimes, it pays off to think outside the box and take risks when buying gifts. Whereas, playing it safe can often backfire or disappoint. Learn more by reading on now.


Think About the Gifts He’s Loved and Hated in the Past

First of all, you should try to think about all the gifts that your partner has received in the past. Which ones did he love? And which of them did he hate? This information can help you a lot when you’re deciding what you should get for your partner this year. You’ll know what ideas to avoid and which to take inspiration from.

Offer an Experience

It doesn’t have to be the case that your gift is something that you wrap up and give to your partner physically. There are many experiences that can also be given as gifts. It’s often the case that the best gifts for men come in the form of activities and experiences. You could give them the chance to fly a plane or drive a sports car around a professional competitive track. Or you could give them a travel-related gift or some tickets to see their favourite band or sports team. There are so many options out there.



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Keep His Hobbies in Mind

Every man has certain hobbies and interests and these should really be kept in mind when the time comes to buy them a gift. If you can find a great gift that is in some way linked to the hobbies they have and the things they spend their time doing, it will be a gift that they use and love. That’s just what you want for your next gift. Of course, what you buy will depend entirely on what they enjoy doing and spending their time on, so only you can decide what that gift should be.


Choose Something You Know they NEED

Finding something that your partner really needs is a good way to ensure that they don’t end up hating whatever it is that you buy for them. They don’t want to be saddled with an item that will be filed away in a drawer and never used again. This is what happens to all too many gifts and you don’t want it to happen to the one you give to your husband next. It certainly won’t happen if you know that he’s been looking for something in particular and they need it for some specific reason. It will be used and that means it will be appreciated too.


Stay Away from Work-Related Gifts

Being something that they need shouldn’t extend to buying them something for work. Think about it; does your partner really want to be reminded about their job when they’re opening gifts on their birthday? Probably not. So, you should try to stay away from those kinds of gifts. They are usually pretty dull and boring, and that’s not what a gift for your partner should be anyway. There are so many better options out there. So, unless your partner genuinely loves their job a lot, this might not be the best route to take.


Don’t Give a Gift That Acts as a Not So Casual Hint

This is a mistake that so many wives and girlfriends make. They think that they’re being helpful by buying a gift that they can use to better themselves in some way, but it can sometimes come across as an insult. For example, if your husband has been trying to grow the perfect beard, buying a razor for him to shave it all off with might not go down well. That’s just one obvious example, but you want to try to avoid all gifts that could be interpreted as not so casual hints regarding what you want your husband to do.




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If you take all of this advice on board, finding a gift that your husband is going to love should become a lot easier.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Around The Edge: Tampa To Miami Via The Coast

Written by a contributing writer 

 

They don't call it the Sunshine State for nothing! Florida has some fantastic attractions and not just the major theme parks we all think of! If you're looking for a way to enjoy the sunshine while also seeing what the state has to offer then why don't you take a trip from Tampa and follow the coast around to Miami stopping at a few places on the way? Here are just a few hidden gems you may want to stop at along the way.


Tampa


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Tampa is a thriving city and the area has many fantastic shopping outlets, museums, an aquarium, and large zoo. But if you really want to enjoy some fantastic views, then you need to go to a restaurant with views of Tampa Bay. Taste of Boston serves up a lot of deep fried seafood including scallops, shrimp, and oysters, as well as the famous New England clam chowder. And the view is spectacular.


Sarasota


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If you're traveling with the family in tow, there are some fantastic, peaceful county beaches where you can relax and enjoy the sunshine. But if you looking for something a bit more adventurous Seashore Eco Tours offers kayaking lessons as well as guided kayak tours through the mangroves. If your young ones aren’t thrilled with kayaking there are plenty of paddle boarding lessons available too.

Cape Coral

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If you have an interest in the wildlife of Florida, you could venture down to the Tom Allen Memorial Butterfly Garden based in Rotary Park which preserves butterfly species. Once these butterflies have hatched safely away from the hunt of predators, they are released back into the wild, and you can see the life stages of the butterfly on guided tours. You can also learn about the specific characteristics of each butterfly species.


The Everglades National Park


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Right at the South of Florida, this National Park is truly a great natural treasure. But apart from the swamps and unique wildlife, there are plenty of other things you can do in this beautiful park. You could go to the Ernest Coe Visitor Center which educates visitors on the varied species of the Everglades. Or, if you wanted to experience the Everglades up close, you could go camping. There are plenty of front country and backcountry camping sites available.

Miami


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Once you have made the trek around southwest Florida, you will end up at the party capital of the state. But while many choose to kick back with some cocktails, there are still plenty of other things for you to do in Miami. You could go to the Philip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science which houses an aquarium, a planetarium, and two wings that feature interactive exhibits for all the family. But if you are looking for a little less education on your trip to Miami, you could frequent the many eateries and drinking establishments, such as the Versailles restaurant. Here you can indulge in traditional Cuban food. Or you could go for ice cream at the Azucar ice cream company!


As far as a road trip around Florida is concerned you've got plenty to keep you busy, so take in the sunshine and enjoy the sunshine state!