San Diego Recap: Part 1

Beauty, Food, Life

If I had to sum up my trip to San Diego in one sentence, it would be: 3 full days/4 nights there is just not enough. Each day was pretty jam-packed, which meant we got a lot accomplished, but not nearly as much as we wanted to. I guess that means a return trip is in the (hopefully) nearish future.

I was in San Diego from Friday, July 26 through Tuesday, July 30. I only know what it’s like there in late July since that was the same time I went there on my last visit back in 2017, but it’s a really nice time of year. The weather was basically perfect and honestly, the crowds weren’t terrible. Sooooo, let’s get to the recap! I’m splitting this into two posts cuz otherwise it would be definitely maybe too lengthy.

Day 1: Friday, July 26

No rest for the wicked (erm, those going on road trips). I woke up early for a day off (around 6:45) so I’d be able to get everything done I needed to before hitting the road with my fam. Basically, dropping off my dog at Happy Pets Palace in Chandler (the boarding place I take her to every time I go out of town), going for a quick 3 mile run (my last as a 26-year-old!) and packing up last-minute items.

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Nothing but good vibes for the road trip ahead!

We were off by 10 am and ready to get to San Diego. It’s about a 6 hour drive, plus we planned to make two brief stops before leaving Arizona.

First stop: Dateland. It’s an actual place, even though the name sounds fake, and obviously they grow dates there. It’s a tiny town that’s mostly a convenience store/restaurant and gas station. I picked up a bag of Khadrawy dates because I have never tried anything but Medjools, which are good, but when in Rome Dateland. My dad got a date ice cream cone, which he said was good. It got me wanting to try making (vegan) date ice cream at home. The store also sold a bunch of touristy things, including flip-flops made with locally grown grass, which is super interesting.

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The date palms of Dateland. Fun fact: dates have to be harvested by hand!

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Spotted: this cute mug (which I didn’t buy).

Then it was onward to our second (and last stop before SD): Yuma. It’s right on the border of California, and it makes Phoenix feel like the Arctic, it’s that hot. I appreciated the dry heat, though, as PHX has been more humid as of late due to monsoon storms.

We got lunch in Yuma, at a place called the Dog Haus, which has locations in California, Colorado, Texas and also Scottsdale (also soon to be less than 10 minutes from where I live). They make all kinds of hot dogs and brats and sausages, which doesn’t sound appealing to a vegan, but they actually have decent vegetarian and vegan offerings, including the Impossible burger and Beyond sausages! I’m more of a vegan sausage vs. vegan burger fan, plus it’s hard for me to find the Beyond sausage in restaurants, so I opted for their Beyond Brat, which was basically like the classic German brat, topped with mustard, onions and sauerkraut (I love anything sour and pickled!), which I got wrapped in their lettuce “bun”. I was definitely impressed!

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The Beyond Brat was beyond my expectations!

After stopping for gas, we were back on the road en route to our destination. I took a ton of videos as we drove through California because the landscape of that part of the Golden State is super interesting to me. I’m used to the desert of Tucson and Phoenix, which is actually a lot more green than you’d expect and full of cacti. California has a LOT of sand dunes along I-8 and then suddenly, mountains appear that are super rocky and made up of huge boulders. It’s really cool.

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Next stop: San Diego!

We got to San Diego around 5, and honestly traffic on the freeways wasn’t terrible, considering it was rush hour. We got to the hotel we were staying at, which was near the airport, the harbor and the Little Italy neighborhood, and unfortunately, hit a snafu: our room wasn’t ready, even though we were checking in more than an hour after check-in time began. We were assured our room would be ready in about 45 minutes, so we killed some time by walking over to this deli/convenience store nearby, where my parents each got a glass of wine (not great wine, especially by California standards, but they just wanted to try it) and we sat across from the harbor and waited. And waited. And waited some more. We waited more than an hour before we went back inside, and guess what? The room still wasn’t ready! By this point, we were annoyed and hangry so we decided to go walk to dinner, and hope the room would be ready when we got back.

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We walked along the harbor, where I got a pic of this cute seagull!

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So nice to see the ocean again!

My mom picked Ballast Point for our first night in San Diego, so we walked about 20 minutes into the heart of Little Italy to get there. We quickly noticed that those electric scooters are a huge deal there, even more than in Arizona. Like, everyone was riding them and they were scattered up and down every street. It was nice to see people using them and walking (like us), instead of driving everywhere, though!

Ballast Point was packed, so we were lucky to snag a table after ordering our food at the counter. My parents got beers, naturally, while I opted for a glass of viognier wine, which was really refreshing. You gotta have wine when you’re in California! My mom and I both got tacos (she got fish, I got the adobo tempeh) while my dad got the heirloom tomato sandwich, and we all raved about our dishes. My tacos were some of the best vegan tacos I’ve ever had! I’m not always the biggest fan of tempeh (I usually prefer tofu) but these were so flavorful and actually spicy, which I appreciated. The good food took our minds off the hotel situation, at least for an hour or so.

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Gotta have wine in California, no?!

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I thought I wasn’t a huge tempeh fan but these tacos made me a convert!

Walking back to the hotel, we hit another snafu: we were stopped by probably the world’s longest train. Not kidding, we stood there for at least 5 minutes waiting for it to pass! At this point, my dad and I just had to laugh because so many things were going wrong, it was just funny. Fortunately, when we finally got back, the room was ready so we grabbed a cart and loaded all our stuff on to take up to our room. Then the elevators weren’t working, so it was even more frustrating/funny. We did eventually make it up to our room!

After getting settled in, we sat out on the balcony overlooking the harbor, drank more wine and talked for awhile, before we got yelled at by the security guy for apparently being too loud, even though no one else was outside. My parents were mad, because last time we were in San Diego, we kept getting yelled at by the lady living upstairs (we were in an Airbnb condo), who said we were too loud even when we were basically whispering, and we didn’t want the same thing to happen this time. So we reluctantly went back inside and got ready for bed.

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Night harbor views.

Day 2: Saturday, July 27 (aka Birthday)

Happy birthday to me 🥳 Sadly, I woke up with a slight headache (probably from the previous night’s wine), but after taking some ibuprofren, drinking water and sweating it out at the hotel gym for 30 minutes, I was ready to celebrate!

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The hotel had the smallest gym ever (and it was soooo hot) but it was next to the pool and had plenty of equipment, so it was all good!

First things first, the beach. We drove across the Coronado Bridge to head to one of the beaches on Coronado Island. Lemme just say that I fell in love with Coronado! It would be amazing to stay there next time, though hotels there are really expensive, but the beaches were beautiful and it was fun walking around town and exploring.

We parked a few blocks away and hauled all our gear down to the beach. The one we went to this day was actually right next to the dog beach, so we got to watch the doggies play in the water 😍 The beach never got too crowded either, even though it was a Saturday, so that was nice. We spent several hours soaking up the sun, braving the cold water and enjoying some beach snacks. My dad and I also tried boogie boarding for the first time, and it was a lot of fun, though I had to stop after awhile because I couldn’t stop shivering from the ocean water.

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Beach daze. 

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Soaking up the sunshine & salty air!

After loading our stuff back in the car, we drove down Orange Avenue, which is basically Coronado’s main street. We parked, and then walked a couple blocks until we stumbled across a wine bar. We were all hot from the beach, and walking in the humidity, so we needed some refreshing bevs, and the wine bar definitely delivered on that! My parents each got a glass of sangria, with fresh berries in the bottom of the glass, and I got the black bellini, which was made with red wine (hence the darker color) and fresh peach slices. Our drinks hit the spot, but I also had my eye on another kind of drink — my free birthday item from Starbucks!

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I love these kinds of murals!

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Refreshing bev #1.

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Refreshing bev #2. 

Last year, I missed out on the freebie because we were stuck in traffic most of the day en route to Sedona, and I didn’t realize you can only redeem it on your actual birthday, not the day before and day after as in years past. But this year, I was determined not to miss out, and luckily for me, there was a Starbucks just steps from the wine bar! I haven’t gone to Starbucks in months, so I was pleasantly surprised to see they’ve added a bunch of new iced tea flavors. I went with a venti (go big or go home) iced blueberry black tea, with no sweetener. It was perfect for a hot day!

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I took an Insta Stories poll, and everyone voted for the whale! But I thought the octopus was super cute too.

After stopping in a couple stores (my mom bought a cute octopus toy in one of the stores for my dog!), we headed back across the bridge to our hotel to relax and get ready for the evening. Because I’m extra, I had brought along a set of fake eyelashes that I bought about a year ago and was waiting for the right opportunity to wear. Obviously, my birthday was the best choice! They’re the “mermaid” lashes from Tarte, with streaks of magenta and teal and I love them (side note: I wear fake lashes basically every day, so I’m used to them, but this pair was special).

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Even the packaging was pretty!

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Lashes on, ready to celebrate! 🥳

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This is 27.

We headed out a little earlier than we needed to to drive to my birthday restaurant pick, Donna Jean. It was only about 10 minutes away from the hotel, so we showed up before our reservations, but they had no issue seating us, and we were able to park almost right in front of the restaurant, which I feel is unheard of in San Diego 😉, considering the parking situation at most of the other places we went to (hence why we walked a lot). We actually parked right in front of Evolution, an all-vegan fast food joint, and I made a mental note to go there next time!

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It felt like dining in a garden!

I had heard amazing things about Donna Jean, so I was excited to finally try it. We sat outside, on this really lush patio filled with all kinds of plants. It felt so chill and totally my vibe. I ordered a glass of Boochcraft kombucha, and I had no idea they were based in SD!

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Locally made booch >>>>

My family almost never gets appetizers/starters when going out to eat (unless it’s as an entree), but I really wanted to try the roasted cauliflower (since I’m cauli obsessed) so we ordered that to share. It was made with green cauliflower, zhoug, hemp yogurt and dukkah, so it was a bit spicy but really delicious. I almost opted for the hot shrooms (Nashville-style spicy mushrooms) but I think they would have been too salty for my dad, but I’ll have to get them next time since I’ve heard they’re really good.

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A big bowl of deliciousness! 😋

We each got a pizza — my mom got the Four Horsemen (with vegan gouda, mozzarella, ricotta, parmesan and pesto), my dad got the Bread Fang (mozzarella, mushrooms, onions, spinach, dried olives which he gave to me and calabrian chiles) and I got the Black Widow on the gluten-free socca crust (black garlic, smoked dates, ricotta, red onion and calabrian chiles). I’d made socca before, but I’d never had it in a restaurant, so I was curious to see how it would work as a pizza crust. It was a little soggy, but tasted great with my pizza toppings, which kind of reminded me of a spicy BBQ pizza!

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I can see why Donna Jean was named Best Pizza in 2017 & 2018!

With it being my birthday, I had to order dessert. I decided I wanted to take it back to the hotel to enjoy later, so I got a slice of the New Mexico chile chocolate pie in a to-go box. We drove back to the hotel to drop it off, and then decided to go walk to a nearby tiki bar to grab drinks. Well, we didn’t realize just how popular it was, and there was an hour wait just to get inside, plus reading reviews sounded like you had to wait awhile once you got in to actually get a drink. Instead, we walked another few blocks to a bar/restaurant called Kettner Exchange, which was also packed (I mean, it was a Saturday night in downtown San Diego), but we were able to go up to the rooftop bar and order drinks, and then miraculously a couple seats opened up at a communal table that we snagged. My dad and I both ordered the same drink — the Spicy Gallagher, made with serrano-infused tequila, aperol, lemon and watermelon. Whenever I see a drink made with a spicy or smoky liquor and/or watermelon, I must try it, and this did not disappoint!

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I got some amazing sunset photos when we came back from dinner!

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No words 🤩

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Terrible lighting but at least the drink was good!

We walked back to the hotel, where my parents sang Happy Birthday and I opened a few presents (I had a few more than I had opened the day before the trip, and left at home) and had the pie, which was soooo good. Chocolate & spice go so well together! It was the perfect way to cap off my 27th birthday.

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Had to have cactus gift wrap!

Stay tuned for part 2 of my recap!

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Favorite Finds of the Month: July

Beauty, Food, Life

And just like that, birthday month is officially O-V-E-R! It seems like a lot of people say last month was weird for them (something about Mercury Retrograde, which IDGAF about or even know what it means), but it was mostly a really good month for me, not even just because of my birthday (recap coming soon)!

One good thing that happened has left me with less time to blog, so I didn’t even think about writing this post until it was already August. Oops! TBH, I also can’t really remember the new things I tried last month, which is where my habit of taking photos of all the things comes in clutch.

1) The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%

I’ve become somewhat of a skin care freak and love to try anything and everything, which is terrible for my wallet, but great for my glow game. Then I discovered The Ordinary, and it changed everything.

The products don’t look fancy, more minimalistic if anything, but they’re cheap AF and work hella well.

Being my first foray into this brand, I opted for the Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%, which is a mouthful, but basically it’s good for blemishes. My skin has actually cleared up quite a bit over the past few years, which I’m not mad about, but I still get acne around my period which gets annoying.

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This is anything BUT your ordinary acne treatment!

I actually used this for the first time right at the start of my last period, and it diminished the spots I had around my chin. There was absolutely no irritation, which I have experienced before with “clinical strength” acne products and it makes my face feel smooth.

The best part — a bottle (1 ounce, but a little goes a long way) is just $5.90. For less than 6 bucks, I got a powerful acne solution that’s also vegan, cruelty free and formulated without parabens, sulfates and phthalates.

I will DEF be trying more products from The Ordinary!

2) Trader Joe’s Sparkling Watermelon Juice

I spotted this on some Instagrammers’ stories way back in, oh April or May, and never found it at the TJs near me (and I went to 3 stores to try to find it). I gave up hope on ever trying it, when suddenly, it appeared on the shelf at my neighborhood store. So naturally, I grabbed a couple cases (and got a couple more the next time I shopped, just in case).

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You know it was a great TJs trip when you stock up on a product you’ve been dying to try, plus your fav kombucha flavor (strawberry lemonade) and one of your fav fruits (figs).

I really wanted to try it in a cocktail, so I used it in a couple drinks that I made, and it works well as a mixer. I like that it’s a bit fizzy, and that there’s no added sugar in there (who needs it, watermelon is sweet enough as is).

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I used the watermelon juice in a simple cocktail that I served in my new Corksicle cup that I got for my bday!

If you don’t do cocktails, it’s a pretty good drink on it’s on, and perfectly refreshing for a hot summer day.

I don’t remember how much it cost, but I think it was about $3.99 for a 4-pack. TJs always has reasonable prices so I can’t complain!

3) IWON organics

The running joke with vegans is, “Where do you get your protein?” As a vegan for 7+ years, I haven’t actually heard this a lot, but it’s annoying nonetheless. News flash — animals that people typically eat for protein get their protein from plants. Sooooo, plants have plenty of protein!

That being said, when I’ve tracked my macros, I don’t always get as much protein as I think I’m getting. My current eating schedule is an afternoon snack at work, dinner and then an evening snack before bed. I always include protein at dinner, usually beans or tofu, but my snacks are sometimes lacking unless I eat a protein bar. But sometimes I just want something snacky, you know?

I discovered the brand IWON organics when I went to GNC to scout out protein bars. I was looking for the No Cow brand, which is my fav because the flavors are good and they’re made with clean ingredients and no added sugar. They were supposed to have new flavors I’d never tried, but they didn’t. I did spot some interesting protein-packed snacks on the shelf nearby, though. There were some puffs and chips and little cereal boxes, and guess what — all vegan, gluten free and soy free! That’s hard to come by in the protein product world, so I knew I had to try them.

I grabbed a box of the berries ‘n cream cereal and a bag of the sweet dijon protein “stix” and checked out, ready to try them out the next week at work.

I tried the protein “stix” first. Do you remember those Rold Gold honey mustard pretzels? These tasted just like those! I couldn’t get enough of the mustard-y flavor, and how can you beat 5 grams of fiber and 10 grams of protein in a snack that’s reminiscent of childhood junk food?

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These were a “commute” snack on my way home from work one day, and they made the drive much better!

I actually had the cereal a few days later as an evening snack. I grew up loving cereal, though my family always had the healthier kinds. I still love cereal, but sometimes it can be a fear food of mine because of the carbs/lack of protein. The IWON organics cereal solved that problem for me, because this is a legit healthy cereal (5 grams fiber, 10 grams protein, 8 grams sugar) that tastes like Froot Loops.

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It was interesting how they came in an individual serving-sized box. 

I actually don’t remember how much I paid for these at GNC, but they sell the cereal online for $29.88 (for 12 boxes) and the stix for $23.92 (8 bags), and they come in several flavors!

4) Bath & Body Works Desert Wildflower Body Lotion

In case you couldn’t tell, I love the desert. I can’t really imagine living anywhere else now that I’ve been in Arizona for 3+ years (plus the first two years of my life, which I don’t remember, obvs), though maybe in Southern California by the beach.

So this lotion reminds me of that desert-y smell. If ya know ya know. I don’t tend to like floral-y scents, and this is definitely not like that at all. As B&BW describes it, it’s green, lush and woodsy. I’m a sucker for muskier scents, so I’m all over this. At the same time, it’s also not overwhelming — just a nice, light scent that I think will work in any season.

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Sorry for the stock photo, but isn’t this lotion so pretty?!

Like all their lotions, an 8 ounce bottle costs $12.50, but they always last me a long time, and I often buy them when they’re on sale!

Did you make any fun new discoveries in July? What are you looking forward to most in August?

Favorite Finds of the Month: June

Beauty, Food

And we’ve made it to my favorite month of the year — July. There are many reasons I love it, but mostly because it’s my birthday month! This year it’s even more exciting because it’s my golden birthday (I turn 27) and I have a super fun trip planned…stay tuned!

I’ve also been really enjoying having Fridays off this summer. Ah, the perks of working for a school district! That means since July 4th is on a Thursday this year, this work week is an extra short one. My sister is flying out from Denver for the long weekend and I can’t wait to spend time with her!

Since it’s a new month, it’s time to recap my favorite product discoveries from June!

1) Nekter Summer of Skoop

You already know my love for juice bars . I love supporting locally owned places in particular, but sometimes you gotta go with the chains if they offer something spectacular. Case in point, Nekter Juice Bar and their vegan ice cream called Skoop.

I’ve always been so jealous of bloggers and Instagrammers posting their pics of Pressed Juicery freeze, since there are no locations in Arizona. But when I realized Nekter had something similar, I decided to give it a try. I had my first taste of Skoop last September and fell in love. That was when they were selling the charcoal vanilla flavor, which is divine.

I hadn’t gotten Skoop since the fall because they only had chocolate and coconut vanilla flavors, which I wasn’t too excited about, but then they announced on Instagram that they were rolling out 4 new summer flavors on June 27…and they were all vegan (sometimes their Skoop is made with honey, but it’s always dairy free). So you know ya girl had to get her hands on some!

Somehow I waited until June 29th to finally try it (lolz). When I got to Nekter, I knew for sure I wanted to try the monster cookie dough flavor because 1) cookie dough, duh and 2) it was a pretty blue color. But instead of just one flavor, I wanted to try two! I had a tough time deciding between peanut butter swirl, orange twist and chocolate haze but ultimately, I had to go with the PB swirl. And it did not disappoint!

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The Skoop even matches Skye! 

I love Skoop because it’s some of the creamiest vegan ice cream I’ve ever had. It’s just so soft and scoopable. It’s also not overly sweet, and I actually really love the vanilla base they use.

The monster cookie dough was my favorite of the two but I really liked both. Now I wanna go back and try the other two flavors.

*If you go to Nekter Juice Bar before July 7th (after 4 pm), you can take advantage of their BOGO Skoop offer! You just need to download their app and join their rewards program to get the coupon.*

2) Science in Sport GO Hydro + Caffeine Tabs in cola flavor

If you’re a runner or cyclist, you’ve probably heard of if not used Nuun tablets. They’re used to replenish electrolytes lost during exercise and they taste amazing (at least to me).

I think I first started using Nuun in 2016, when I moved to Tucson and realized I needed something to keep me going during runs in the summer heat. One of the flavors I fell in love with was the Kona Kola. It tasted just like a Coke without the carbonation. It was exactly what I needed during those hot runs, and I know that many ultrarunners swear by drinking a flat Coke at race aid stations.

Sadly, Nuun discontinued the flavor, which is a decision I will never understand because it seemed to be popular. Anyways, ever since then I’ve been looking for a solid replacement. I still use Nuun and love many of their other flavors, but it just isn’t the same.

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The cola cravings are REAL. 

Then I found Science in Sport. While they have a much more limited flavor selection, they actually have a cola flavor! And their GO Hydro + Caffeine tabs are vegan! I like that they have no sugar and that they’re designed to replace key electrolytes to prevent dehydration and fatigue.

So far, I’ve taken the tablets before and after a run, and it definitely helps me stay hydrated. I want to try dropping one in my Camelbak to see how I feel drinking it while I’m running.

You can buy these on Amazon for $11 a tube (20 tablets per tube).

3) Bath & Body Works PocketBac Hand Sanitizer in Sun Tan

Who doesn’t wanna have clean hands? I wouldn’t exactly call myself a germaphobe, but better to be safe than sorry, amiright? I pretty much never get sick (don’t wanna jinx it but…) which I credit partially to religiously using hand sanitizer in public places. I have wet wipes stashed in my car, but I use those typically after I’ve eaten something. Hand sanitizer produces no waste and I honestly love the way it makes my hands smell…at least if I get one of the scents from Bath & Body Works!

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I LOVE that B&BW supports Pride #loveislove

Fun fact: their sun tan scent is one of my FAV SMELLS EVER! It reminds me of sunscreen and all things summer. I had a soap in this scent a couple summers ago and haven’t been able to find it since, but when I hit up their semi-annual sale last month, I saw they offered the scent in a hand sanitizer. So of course I had to buy it.

Their PocketBacs are the perfect size to store in a purse or makeup bag (or, erm, even your pocket) and a little goes a long way so they’re a total bargain at less than $2 per bottle.

4) LIVE Soda Kombucha in Cherry Cola

I’m a big big booch fan, if you didn’t know already. There isn’t a kombucha I’ve tried that I didn’t like. But LIVE Soda is one of my favorite brands. I first discovered them in the refrigerated drinks section at Whole Foods when I was living in Tulsa, when I was starting to dip my toes into all things booch. I was immediately hooked because they came in soda flavors but were actually healthy and packed with probiotics.

Up until recently, my favorite flavors were the root beer and cola, though “Doctor” was also a contender and some of them I had never tried. But I always wished they would make a cream soda and cherry cola flavors. Well, wish granted! I spotted on their Instagram in May that they were offering not one, but BOTH flavors I dreamed of! Unfortunately, they said they would only be sold in Texas (where the company is headquartered) but I held out hope I could find them near me…

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Booch, please!

And spoiler alert: I did. At Sprouts, if you were curious. So obviously, I had to try them both. While I liked the cream soda, it struck me as too similar to the root beer. But the cherry cola was so bomb! It has a great cherry flavor that’s offset by the bubbly cola. Like I mentioned above, I crave that cola flavor after hot runs, so this makes the perfect post-run refreshment.

LIVE Soda Kombucha is a bit cheaper than other kombuchas (I think I got each bottle for $2.49 or possibly less) which also makes them a winner.

So even if you don’t live in Texas, you may be able to find these new flavors. Next, I hope they come out with grape!

Any fun new finds you made in June? What are your plans for July? 

Favorite Finds of the Month: May

Beauty, Food, Life

Long time, no blog! I can’t believe May is already over and I only ended up publishing two posts last month, whoops! I’ve been trying to post at least once a week, but last month ended up being crazy busy and obvs that didn’t happen.

I was out of town Memorial Day weekend, as well as this past weekend, and during the week I’ve been trying to get my life together amidst job interviews (why do I suddenly have so many now, when they could have been spread out over the past month?) and my current job and running, etc. In the past week, I found myself spiraling into my stress over everything I have to do over the next few weeks, plus the big expenses I have coming up and it’s just been no bueno. So yeah, that’s why the blog hasn’t been so active lately, but I’m gonna try again to get up a post per week in June, we’ll see!

Anyyyyyyways, let’s get to my favorite products from May — there were some good ones!

1) SmartSweets Peach Rings

If you don’t follow me on Insta (maybe even if you do), you may not know that I’m a SmartSweets Champion. If you haven’t heard about SmartSweets, what are you even doing with your life? They’re a candy brand that does candy differently, as their gummies only have 3 grams of sugar in the entire package! Their mission to #KickSugar spoke to me, as I was a candy fiend growing up and haven’t had gummy candy in years because I’m vegan and I wanted a candy I could feel good eating.

Side note: not all of SmartSweets’ products are vegan. The two gummy bear varieties (as well as their seasonal flavors) are made with gelatin, sadly. Fortunately for me, their new peach rings are plant-based!

I’m already obsessed with their sour blast buddies (like Sour Patch Kids) and I also like their sweet fish (like Swedish Fish) but these peach rings blew me away! They’re so tangy and soft and perfectly peachy.

Disclosure: as a SmartSweets Champion, I get sent free products to try out, so I did get two packages of the peach rings, but I actually bought my first bags (at Whole Foods) before I even got my freebies, and I would buy them over and over again!

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My latest Whole Foods haul feat. new-to-me items, including the peach rings & ranch dip!

2) Kite Hill Ranch Dip

I was never one of those kids obsessed with ranch dressing growing up (I always preferred Italian vinaigrette for some reason) but it’s nice having vegan versions to turn to when I want to fulfill a ranch craving.

Most vegan ranches(?) are of the dressing variety, so having a dip is a game-changer. TBH the Kite Hill ranch dip could totally work as a dressing too, as it’s not super thick. But it’s got that perfect tangy ranch flavor we all know. I personally love it with the grain free jalapeno crackers from Simple Mills!

Kite Hill also offers a French onion dip(!) and both are available in the Whole Foods refrigerated section right now (for $3.99 I think).

3) Schmidt’s Sensitive Skin Deodorant in Coconut Pineapple

I’ve said that I’m not sure how I feel about natural deodorants because most of the ones I’ve tried either don’t work that well or leave my skin raw. I had tried Schmidt’s deodorant before because so many people raved about it, but it fell into the latter category and I thought I’d never try it again…until I saw they offered sensitive skin products!

First of all, I love the smell — it’s so tropical without being overly fruity. Also, it leaves my armpits feeling so smooth, which I’ve never experienced with a natural deodorant before.

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So tropical!

It’s not an antiperspirant, so it won’t stop sweating completely (those aluminum-filled antiperspirants aren’t good for your body anyways!) but it eliminates the odor and feels good on my skin so it’s a winner.

I got mine at Target for $7.99 I think, but they also sell it at Sprouts/Whole Foods/etc.

4) Stasher Aqua Reusable Silicone Bag

If you’re still using plastic, what are you doing? JK, but soooooo many products are moving away from plastic, which is great for the environment!

Enter, the Stasher bag! It’s not just any resuable bag though — you can actually cook with it! You can bake, steam, boil, even microwave food in it and then store it in the fridge or freezer. You can use it in place of Tupperware to transport salads and other food to work, in the car and even the airport (it’s TSA friendly).

I haven’t tried cooking with it, but it works so well for storing food and you can throw it in the dishwasher between uses. I also like how well it seals cuz some plastic bags suck at closing.

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Check out the Stasher bag (& all my other Thrive Market goodies from my latest order)!

I got mine from Thrive Market (I pay for a yearly membership) where it’s only $9.99 but it goes for a bit more than that at Target and on Stasher’s website. Still a good deal for a bag you don’t have to toss out!

5) Theo Root Beer Barrel Chocolate Bar

I was on a quest one afternoon after work to restock my SmartSweets stash, and since Whole Foods is out of the way, I used the store locator on their website to see where else they were sold near me (I know they’re also at GNC, but the GNC near me only has the sweet fish, and I wanted the sour blast buddies too). World Market popped up on the screen, and since there’s one right off the freeway exit I use to get home, I decided to stop in and check it out.

I’ve been to World Market a few times, and I love their snack section. They have stuff from all over the world (duh, it’s in their name) and interesting things I’ve never come across anywhere else. Long story short, they didn’t have the SmartSweets (whomp whomp) but I did spot two Theo chocolate bar flavors on an endcap that I’d never seen before: grapefruit ginger and root beer barrel.

I was pleasantly surprised to see both flavors were vegan (I’ve had Theo chocolate before, and they have a decent selection of vegan bars, but not all of them are, even the dark chocolate) so I grabbed one of each and headed to the register.

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Root beer chocolate? Yes please!

I have yet to try the grapefruit ginger, but the root beer barrel one called my name first. It literally tastes just like the root beer barrel candies from childhood, but with an adult twist (the dark chocolate). If you don’t think root beer and chocolate go together, well you’d be wrong. They are a perfect match (at least for people with tastes for the unusual, like me).

Each bar costs $2.99 and I think it was supposed to be one or two servings but I made it four, which is pretty good for a small-sized bar.

Did you try anything new in May? 

Favorite Finds of the Month: April

Beauty, Food

This is the third in a series of posts highlighting my favorite product finds each month. 

Can you believe we’re already more than a third of the way through 2019? Christmas feels like it was forever ago at this point but I still can’t believe how fast this year is flying! I’m not complaining, though, as I have some great things to look forward to this summer (including my golden birthday). Summer is my fav season by far so I can’t wait!

But before we look ahead to the next few months, let’s rewind to April and check out some of the best products I discovered last month!

1) Coco Bakes Gluten Free Sourdough

Bread has been one of my biggest fear foods since my eating disorder but it’s also been one of the foods I enjoy the most. Go figure! I pretty much eat almost entirely gluten free when I’m at home, not because I’m celiac or have been diagnosed with an intolerance, but I just feel better when I avoid wheat (however, I’m down to enjoy gluten when I go out to eat, since I typically only eat out once a week, and sometimes I still seek out GF options if that appeals to me at the time) so it’s hard to find GF bread that’s also vegan and tastes good. I have found a couple brands (Little Northern Bakehouse and O’Dough’s bagels) that are available at Sprouts that are pretty decent, but I was craving real bread, ya know, not just sandwich slices or bagel thins.

Lots of bloggers/Instagrammers I follow raved about Coco Bakes, a small-batch bakery in LA that specializes in GF vegan sourdough. I had had a similar sourdough before (from Bread SRSLY, based in the Bay Area) and wanted to give another, slightly cheaper version a try so I bit the bullet and ordered a loaf.

Since it was coming from LA, it arrived in my mailbox just a few days after it was baked, which means it was nice and fresh when it was delivered. And I gotta say, this bread lives up to the hype! It is perfect for toast (it crisps up nicely in the toaster even after I sliced it and put it in the freezer) and it has a great, chewy texture and that slight sour flavor that I missed from legit bread.

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Honey wants in on the sourdough toast action!

Each loaf costs $20 (plus $7.99 for shipping), which seems expensive for bread, but for bread this good (that’s made in small batches, no less) it’s worth it. I’ve already ordered it twice and I plan to make it at least a monthly purchase.

Also, you should definitely follow Cocobakes on Instagram for serious toast inspo plus the founder of Coco Bakes (Coco Kislinger) is really hilarious and down to earth in her IG Stories!

2) Trader Joe’s Sweet Basil Foaming Hand Soap

I am typically a ride-or-die Bath & Body Works girl when it comes to hand soaps (though I make an exception around the holidays when I stock up on the Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day peppermint soap). I haven’t shopped at B&BW for a few months as I’m saving my last Christmas gift card for their summer scents, so when I ran out of hand soap in my bathroom, I decided on a whim to try one of TJ’s soaps.

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Even the bottle is supah cute!

I’ve loved nearly everything I’ve ever bought from TJ’s, including this soap. It smells just like a fresh bunch of basil, and it foams up just as well as the soaps from Bath & Body Works (I prefer foaming hand soaps). Also, it’s cheaper at just $2.99 per bottle, and much more convenient to buy, since I’m at TJ’s almost every week.

3) Kaleidoscope Juice #LoveUp Sport

Hydrate but make it compassionate. That’s basically the gist of Kaleidoscope Juice’s #LoveUp Sport drink. I’ve already professed my love for Kaleidoscope here but within the last month they introduced a totally new kind of sports beverage. Move over, Gatorade, cuz #LoveUp Sport is way better for you (and for the community…more on that in a sec).

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Even dogs love it (JK, Honey doesn’t get to drink this)!

Whereas Gatorade and most sports drinks are made with sugar, sugar and more sugar (and fake colors/flavors), #LoveUp Sport is made with blue majik spirulina powder (giving it its pretty ocean-blue color), monkfruit (a natural zero calorie sweetener), lime juice, Himalayan pink salt and trace minerals to help you replenish your electrolytes after a tough workout.

The flavor of #LoveUp Sport is subtle, but that’s why I love it. But I also love that it supports the #LoveUp Foundation, which supports kids in the foster care system. Now that’s a sports drink I can get behind!

4) Herbaland Calcium & Vegan D3 Gummy Vitamins

Canada is really leading the way when it comes to vegan gummies (since most gummies are made with gelatin and aren’t even vegetarian). First it was SmartSweets which makes some awesome sugar free gummy candies (2 varieties are vegan), now it’s Herbaland coming in clutch with the vitamins.

Most of us probably don’t get all the nutrients we need from our diet, especially vegans. While many people are hung up on the protein thing, there are key vitamins that vegans can struggle to get from food, namely calcium/vitamin D3 and B12. I strive to eat a balanced diet full of fruits and veggies, but I make sure to supplement so I can stay healthy, and that’s where Herbaland gummy vitamins come in.

I am not a fan of the huge pills you have to swallow or even powdery chewable vitamins (yes, I’m basically a 5-year-old) so gummies it is, but it can be hard to find vegan gummy vitamins that aren’t super expensive. Luckily, I came across Herbaland when searching for vitamins on Amazon, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that none of their vitamin bottles cost more than $20, which is about half the cost of most vegan gummies! I ordered the calcium & D3 variety (because I already take B vitamins in the hair gummies I have).

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Taking vitamins is easy when they’re this yummy!

I love that these are gluten free and sugar free, because many vegan vitamins have glucose syrup, which I’m not a fan of. Plus, they taste pretty good and you can’t beat the price ($16) for a month’s supply.

I plan to try more of their vitamins, including the vegan collagen booster and cold brew energy gummies.

5) Trader Joe’s Jalapeño Sauce

Y’all know I like things spicy. So I’m always down to try a new hot sauce, especially if it’s from TJ’s.

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This sauce pairs perfectly with tofu potato tacos (recipe on my Insta!).

This green sauce is different from most hot sauces in that it’s creamy, but it is in fact totally vegan! It reminds me a lot of dairy-free crema I’ve had at many Mexican places, so it works really well drizzled on top of tacos, but I’ve also used it to dress up a vegan poke bowl. It’s just good on anything.

What new products did you try last month? 

My Picks for the Sephora Beauty Insider Sale 2019

Beauty

My Sephora beauty insider sale picks

It’s my favorite time of the year — Sephora Beauty Insider Sale time! Honestly, I was a little worried that Sephora wasn’t doing one this year because typically, it happens in early April and here it is almost May and I haven’t gotten any emails about it. Thankfully, we’re just a few days away from one of the best sales of the year for beauty lovers.

I actually used to be a VIB Rouge member, but after being unemployed for several months last year, I wasn’t able to spend the $1,000 I needed to by the end of 2018 to maintain my Rouge status for this year, so I was dropped down to just VIB. If I can work my way back up to Rouge, that would be great, but truth be told I’m not really in a rush to make that happen. I still get decent perks as a VIB (including more birthday gift choices and earning more points per dollar spent) and I only have to spend $350 in a year which is much more doable.

I actually haven’t shopped at Sephora in a few months, as I’m trying to be more mindful with spending when it comes to beauty products (clothes on the other hand…) and I’ve only been buying the essentials, like BB cream and concealer and fake lashes (yes those are essential cuz I wear them daily and they only last so long) and I’ve been able to make do buying those at Ulta for the most part. But I’ve had several things in my virtual Sephora cart for awhile, and now is the time to take advantage!

For those not in the know, the Sephora Beauty Insider Sale happens twice a year (typically April and November). Rouge members get first dibs (the sale started on April 26th for them) and the best discount (20%), while VIBs get 15% off and Beauty Insider members get 10% off and have to wait until May 2nd to shop the sale. I like to use the sale as an opportunity to splurge on some things I normally wouldn’t buy and rack up more points. So here are my picks for this season’s sale!

1) Glow Recipe Pineapple-C Brightening Serum ($49)

Glow Recipe’s newest product just came out within the past month or so, and I’ve been dying to get my hands on it. I already am obsessed with their watermelon glow sleeping mask and I need more fruity products in my life. This sounds like it will be really good at improving redness and dryness, which I definitely need. And if it’s anything like their watermelon pink juice moisturizer, a little goes a long way so it’s worth spending $$$.

2) Isle of Paradise Self-Tanning Water ($28)

I’m used to tanning lotions and even airbrush-style sprays, but tanning water? Judging by how often this product sells out on Sephora’s website (it’s sold out right now, and I’ve probably signed up for restock emails 5+ times since it debuted) it must work really well.

I’m a sucker for pretty packaging, and I love the colorful bottle this comes in. I also like the fact that it comes in 3 shades and it has the Clean at Sephora seal, so I can trust that it doesn’t have any weird ingredients. Oh, and like everything on my list, it’s vegan and cruelty-free #win

Since it’s sold out at the moment, I may have to make a stop at the Sephora near me because apparently it’s available there!

3) Four Sigmatic Mushroom Lemonade Mix with Charcoal & Chaga ($30)

I am all about the charcoal — my toothpaste, deodorant and facial bar all have charcoal as a main ingredient. So I’m definitely not scared off by a charcoal lemonade. I’ve tried one by a local juice company and it tastes so good, plus the color is cool.

So many wellness bloggers have raved about the Four Sigmatic mushroom coffee, but I’m not a hot coffee drinker so I’ve never tried it. But this sounds really refreshing for Arizona’s summers and it’s supposed to be good for digestion and skin health, so why not?

4) Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask Set ($39)

I’ve had my eye on Glow Recipe’s sleeping mask sets since they came out a few months ago, but haven’t purchased them yet. It comes with an adorable sleep mask, so how could I not?

I was actually debating about getting the avocado version, but I’ve yet to try that mask and some reviewers said it made them break out, so I’m thinking I’m going to go with the watermelon since it’s a tried and true favorite.

This is normally $45 but right now (even without the sale discount) it’s only $39!

5) IGK 1995 2-in-1 Shampoo & Texturizer ($25)

As y’all know, I only wash my hair once or twice per week, which has saved me a fortune in shampoo & conditioner costs. But I am about one wash away from running out of my shampoo so I need to restock.

IGK is my go-to brand now because they’re vegan and cruelty-free (le duh) and more affordable than a lot of other high-quality brands. A lot of people have raved about the 1995 2-in-1 Shampoo & Texturizer and says it really works to give their hair more volume and oomph, so I think it’s going to be my next shampoo.

6) Summer Fridays Mini Jet Lag Mask ($26)

This actually isn’t in my cart, so I may or may not actually buy it, but I’ve wanted to try the Summer Fridays Jet Lag mask forever (I already have and love the Overtime and R+R masks). When I saw they came out with it in a mini, I knew I couldn’t lose.

I love minis because they let you try something without committing to a bigger product that you may not use up if you don’t love it. The Jet Lag mask is supposed to be amazingly hydrating, so I’d love to give it a spin and see how it compares to their other masks.

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I just noticed that most of my picks are skincare items, with no actual makeup to be seen! That’s because I honestly don’t really need any makeup rn — I just bought some things from Ulta during their sale, and I have so many eyeshadow/highlighter palettes it’s not even funny. But I can always use more skincare products!

Do you love the Beauty Insider Sale? What are your picks for this season’s sale?

Favorite Finds of the Month: March

Beauty, Food

This is the second in a series of posts highlighting my favorite product finds each month. 

Back again with another round-up of my favorite product discoveries of the month! I don’t know about you, but I am not one of those people who can eat/use the same products all the time and be content. Sure, I have my all-time favorites I come back to over and over but I always love to try new things and mix up my routine when it comes to food and beauty. I hope these posts inspire you to try something new!

1) Memebox I Dew Care Cake My Day Hydrating Sprinkle Wash-Off Mask

This has probably the longest name of any beauty product ever but it definitely lives up to the name. First, what got me to buy this was the fact that it’s cake-scented. Y’all already know my obsession with cake-flavored/cake-scented anything. So it was basically required for me to get this. But I also love how hydrating it is without being too heavy on my face. Plus the actual sprinkles in it are fun.

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The packaging is too precious. 

Let’s talk price, because I typically buy face masks in the $40-$60 range. This is $25. $25. Seriously, for a 3.52 ounce container. What a steal! And before you think it must be poor quality, this mask is cruelty-free, and formulated without parabens, sulfates, phthalates and silicones so it is good for your face AND your wallet.

I got this at Ulta but they also sell it on the Memebox website for the same price.

2) Kaleidoscope Juice

Sorry to any non-Arizona locals who can’t give this adorable juice bar a try, but I had to give it a shoutout because I recently fell in love with it and their products.

There are sooooooo many juice bars out there now. While I generally buy my juices from Whole Foods or Sprouts or Target to save money (and I’m partial to Suja Juice, as you may know), it’s fun to swing by a juice bar to try out their offerings every now and then. It’s even better when you can support a local business. Like I really do love Nekter Juice Bar for their vegan Skoop ice cream, especially now that there’s a location less than 10 minutes from home, but I’d been hearing good things about Kaleidoscope Juice and wanted to check them out.

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I love supporting local businesses, especially if they have yummy products!

They have 4 locations in the Valley, all in Scottsdale and Phoenix, which is not convenient for me but the downtown Scottsdale location is about 10 minutes from my office so I stopped by after work one day to see what the hype was about. First of all, it’s a really cute storefront. It seems like the perfect place to hang out with health-minded friends on a sunny afternoon. The baristas are really friendly and offered to help me pick out a juice.

Because it was my first time, I wanted to try a few things so I could really get a feel for their offerings. I got the Pink Illuminating Water, Charcoal Electro-light and because I couldn’t resist, a container of vegan/gluten free peanut butter patty style cookies. I will say that their products aren’t cheap. I got all of these things for about $32, including tip. Not terrible, but definitely not a habit I can keep up all the time. It is definitely worth the splurge every once in awhile though! The two juices I bought were very tasty and refreshing, and I could tell they were made with only high-quality ingredients. And the cookies…damn, those were amazing! I wish there were more than four in a container because I had to spread them out over four days to enjoy them longer.

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Girl Scouts peanut butter patties who?

If you live in the Valley — go check out Kaleidoscope!

3) St. Tropez Gradual Tan Watermelon Infusion Lotion

Living in Phoenix, you’d think I’d be tan year round. Welp, that is definitely not the case. It takes about a week of laying in the sun for half an hour each day to start to build up any color, and I usually don’t get the chance to do this except on weekends during pool season when nothing else is going on. So most of the year, I’m fairly pale. Which is okay in the winter when I’m wearing layers but once March rolls around, I’m wearing alllll the dresses and skirts…and shorts and tank tops while running and I feel like a freaking ghost. Self-tanner to the rescue!

Now I’ve tried a lot of different self-tanning brands: Jergen’s Natural Glow, L’Oreal, even Tarte makes some solid self-tanners. But the HG (holy grail) has to be St. Tropez. I’ve used several of their formulations, and they all add a nice color without being streaky. So when they introduced a new product to the lineup, I knew I had to get my hands on it, especially because it’s watermelon-scented (I also love anything watermelon).

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Even the bottle is beautiful. 

If you’re turned off from self-tanners because of the smell, this one smells just like a lotion you’d get from Bath & Body Works. The scent is light and fruity and not at all like the typical self-tanner. It goes on white and absorbs almost instantly, so you don’t have to wait around for it to dry before getting dressed. It builds color gradually, but you’ll definitely notice a difference in a couple of days, and it moisturizes your skin so you won’t look all scaly.

I always apply it after a shower just like I would a regular lotion, and use it daily. The color doesn’t turn out super dark, so it’s best for those with lighter skin looking for a natural glow (St. Tropez has other formulations that are much darker). And for a high quality, vegan tanning product, it’s actually very reasonably priced at $25 for a 6.7 oz bottle.

4) Quinn Snacks Chocolate Peanut Butter Filled Pretzel Nuggets

Peanut butter and pretzels are a match made in snack heaven. Throw chocolate in the mix and you’ve got the whole package: sweet, salty, nutty, creamy. Make the pretzels gluten free and you’ve got a crave-worthy but still healthy-ish treat.

I try to eat gluten free most of the time because I feel better eating this way, so when I saw that Quinn made a gluten free AND vegan AND chocolate version of this yummy snack, I knew I had to buy it. And these little nuggets don’t disappoint. They’re like a more grown-up version of the pretzel nuggets you remember growing up — not too salty or sweet.

Pretzels

I am obsessed with salty+sweet combos.

I like that the ingredients list is fairly short and easy to read, and sugar is the seventh ingredient (1 serving has just 3 grams) so it’s definitely not overly sugary. It makes a good dessert option if you’re craving something crunchy.

The pretzel nuggets are sold at Whole Foods for $4.99 a bag.

5) Hard Frescos Brewing Co. Alcoholic Aguas Frescas

Wanna know a secret about me? I hate beer. Okay, maybe that’s not a secret but whenever I would go out for drinks with people from work, most of them would get a beer. I know it’s common for men to drink beer, but even women opted for beer rather than wine or a cocktail in many cases, making me feel like the odd one out. I’m just not a fan of the flavor of beer or how filling it is. Gimme a lighter drink with complex flavors and I’m all in!

I’ve tried hard seltzer before because I love La Croix and Spindrift sparkling waters, but most hard seltzers don’t come in flavors beyond citrus and maybe berry. Enter: Hard Frescos Brewing Co. and their hard aguas frescas.

I first discovered them at the Downtown Mesa Brew Fest in early March. True to the festival’s name, it was mostly beer tents but there were a few offering other adult beverage options, including the aguas frescas. And when I saw it came in flavors like tamarind and cucumber lime, I knew I had to try it.

Agua_Fresca

Alcohol that’s refreshing? Yes please.

I had the hibiscus flavor, and it was so refreshing. I can see enjoying this drink poolside this summer. And I love that their ingredients are so simple (plus the aguas frescas are gluten free and low carb).

If you have a Total Wine near you, you may be able to find this there. When I used their store locator online, it said the closest store to me was in Vegas, but then I found it at the Total Wine in Tucson when I visited for spring break.

 

 

What fun products did you discover in March? 

 

Favorite Finds of the Month: February

Beauty, Food

What can I say — I’m a sucker for blog series. It makes it a lot easier to write a post when there’s a built-in theme, ya know? Plus it’s fun for me to look back and see what I was into during a specific time in my life.

In this series, I’m going to be sharing a few of my favorite product discoveries that I make each month. I love love LOVE trying new things, whether it’s vegan food or beauty products, and I want to share the love with y’all in case you’ve seen these things on Insta or in stores and wanted to try it, but weren’t sure if they’re worth the money. I don’t know about you, but I feel a lot more confident buying something if there are good reviews about it. So let’s get to it!

1) KeVita watermelon rose sparkling probiotic drink

I can’t remember when I first tried KeVita, but I do know it was my first foray into the wonderful world of cultured probiotic beverages. As a self-professed kombucha addict/expert, I’ve tried many booches and booch-like products over the years, and KeVita’s drinks rank high on my list of favorites. Whether it’s their Master Brew kombucha or their sparkling probiotic drinks, I haven’t had a bad experience with them.

The watermelon rose version is one of their newer flavors, and being that February is the month of love (I guess?) and roses are a symbol of love, I had to give this one a try this month. I picked my bottle up at Sprouts from the kombucha section for $3.29, which is fairly inexpensive for a probiotic-packed drink.

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I also love the gorgeous packaging. 

I tried it for the first time on Valentine’s Day (of course), pouring half the bottle into a wine glass and enjoying alongside some goodies from the Whole Foods salad bar for a nice single lady V-Day dinner. I was struck by how light and fruity it was — I’ve had floral-based kombuchas before that were definitely a lot more perfume-y and flowery than this, but it definitely had a nice flavor. Not surprisingly, the ingredients include rose water, rose hips powder and rose extract, which give it that floral but not too floral taste. I also detected the watermelon flavor, but it wasn’t over the top.

I really enjoyed just sipping on this, but I think it would make a nice base for a fancy cocktail.

2) Summer Fridays R + R Mask

Going along with the V-Day themed products is my next find. I first discovered the brand Summer Fridays in the fall when I saw them all over Insta and the Sephora app. At the time, they had just two products: the Jet Lag mask and the Overtime mask. I bought the Overtime mask based on reviews saying it smelled like pumpkin pie and it most definitely does. Plus it works its exfoliating magic to make my skin feel refreshed, so it’s definitely a solid addition to my skin care routine (still gotta try the Jet Lag mask).

But when I saw Summer Fridays was coming out with a new mask, I had to jump on it. I literally ordered it the first day it was available on the Sephora app. If it’s rose gold, smells like flowers and is a face mask, you know I can’t say no.

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Definitely worth the $50+ price tag. 

This is officially my favorite mask. It makes my skin so glowy and keeps it from getting dehydrated. Plus it literally smells like a bed of roses.

At $52 for a 2.25 oz tube, it ain’t cheap, but definitely more affordable than some face masks (looking at you, $80 Peter Thomas Roth 24K Gold Mask) and a little goes a long way. I use it once or twice a week when I want to #treatmyself.

3) Trader Joe’s Neapolitan Puffs Cereal

Oh Trader Joe’s, how I love that you’re always coming out with new products that I have to get my hands on. But I also dislike it because I end up spending more than I planned on…oh yeah, and because your products are so popular, they often go missing for weeks/months after they make their debut so I regret not stocking up.

I’m not sure if this will be one of those cult favorite TJ’s products, but I do know that it’s new (saw it and bought it for the first time the weekend before Valentine’s Day) and it may not be available for long because it seems kind of V-Day-ish. Kind of like how candy cane Joe Joe’s are only around for like the first week of December.

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New cereal plus some old favorites.

I’ve mostly been eating grain free granolas when I want a cereal fix, but this caught my eye because I love the combo of chocolate, strawberry and vanilla. Maybe not in ice cream, since I tend to go for more unique flavors, but a good combination nonetheless. But I did like that this cereal was bean-based, with the first ingredient being garbanzo bean powder and some brown rice flour in there for the texture. I’ve had bean-based cereals before and liked them, so I figured this would be a winner. And it is. It’s nice that the ingredients list is fairly short and has normal ingredients in it, plus it’s gluten free and higher in protein (6 grams) compared to most cereals. But it also tastes good too — not overly healthy like you might expect from a cereal with these ingredients but also not too sweet.

Each box is $3.99, which is a steal compared to the tiny bags of paleo granola I’ve been buying. Since I don’t eat breakfast, I’ve been enjoying this cereal as a nighttime snack mixed with vegan protein powder, almond milk and berries.

4) Urban Outfitters UO Nail Polish

I used to be a ride-or-die Julep junkie. Ever since my friend introduced me to the brand in 2014 and I signed up for my first subscription box, I stopped buying the cheap-o Sally Hansen nail polishes from Target and switched to Julep. I loved that they were vegan and free from weird chemicals like formaldehyde and toluene that are in drugstore polishes. Plus the subscription boxes were fun because I got to pick 3 colors per month (or beauty products, but I usually went for polishes) and it gave me points that I could use toward a free box a couple times per year. And the boxes were a good deal — $25 for 3 polishes, vs. $14 per polish on Julep’s website.

I actually just got notified recently that Julep has discontinued the subscription boxes, which is a little sad but not really ’cause I stopped subscribing a year ago when I was first unemployed. I had already stockpiled enough nail polishes to last me awhile and couldn’t spend the $25 a month so I said goodbye to my subscription.

Long story short, I no longer have an unlimited supply of nail polish and I sure as hell don’t wanna pay $14 for new Julep polishes so I started looking for cheaper options. I love Urban Outfitters for their clothes and other beauty products, so when I saw they had nail polish that was 3 for $10, I had to get some.

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Sadly this color is no longer available at UO but it should last me awhile.

I do like their selection of colors because I typically go for the brighter shades, but they also have some decent, non-boring neutral colors too. As for the quality, the nail polish does chip after a day or two but that happens to me no matter the price point of my polish, so I’m not mad about it. I should probably start using a topcoat if I want my polish to last. But it gives me a good excuse to change my color every few days. Also, for a cruelty-free nail polish, it’s pretty cheap!

5) NadaMoo! Marshmallow Stardust vegan ice cream

Usually when I see a new vegan product pop up in my Insta feed, I jot it down in my notes on my phone to remember later, because I know I probably won’t find it in stores for weeks or even months. Not so with this new NadaMoo! ice cream flavor. The very same week I saw it on IG, I found it at my local Sprouts grocery store. Side note: Sprouts has really upped their non-dairy ice cream game, and I. Am. Here. For. It.

When I saw it in the frozen case, I literally had a moment where I was like, “Is this real life?” Because I was totally not expecting to find this brand new product so soon. And mind you, I don’t live in some small town (Phoenix is the 5th largest city in the U.S., and the metro area is the 11th largest) but it seems like new product launches can take some time to get here, which is crazy. Anyways, of course I had to add it to the cart, but not before taking a picture of it in the aisle like a crazy person blogger.

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A+ on the cute packaging!

Because the name isn’t super descriptive (but nice sounding nonetheless…and the packaging is adorable), I wasn’t sure what flavor to expect. I knew it would include marshmallows, which are hard to find in vegan form, let alone in vegan ice cream. Basically, the ice cream tastes a lot like Lucky Charms, or more specifically, the milk that’s leftover at the end when you’ve eaten all the cereal and just have the marshmallows dissolving. Growing up, I had Lucky Charms a handful of times because we were a healthy cereal eating family (think cereals like Basic 4, Cracklin Oat Bran, Great Grains, etc.) and my sister and I only got to indulge in kid cereals when we would go camping and my mom bought those tiny cereal boxes that came in a 6 pack. My sister and I would usually fight over who got the Lucky Charms and the Trix cereal and leave the boring Honey Smacks to our parents. But this totally reminds me of Lucky Charms in a very good way.

The lavender color of the ice cream is beautiful, and there are definitely enough marshmallows to satisfy my tastebuds. As for nutritional content, it’s honestly not that terrible. It’s higher in sugar than some of their other flavors but I like the NadaMoo! ice creams are lower in sugar than most other nondairy ice creams.

Sprouts (at least the ones near me) have many NadaMoo! flavors on sale right now for $4.99 so it’s a good time to try a pint if you’re curious.

What fun new products did you try in February?

My Favorite Vegan & Cruelty-Free Products: Hair Care Part 2

Beauty

Hair Care

*This is part of my series highlighting my favorite vegan and cruelty-free beauty products and brands*

“Happiness is a good hair day.” (-Anonymous)

When we last talked about hair, I shared some of the products I use to cleanse and condition my locks. Today, it’s all about them styling products!

Story time: my hair used to be fairly straight until seventh grade-ish. That’s when I noticed it was kinda wavy, and as a middle school girl in the mid-2000s, that wasn’t cool. So I begged my mom to buy me a straightener so I could have pin-straight hair like the popular girls. Thus began my foray into styling my mane.

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Lovin’ these waves!

After awhile, I realized straightening my hair was a futile exercise, as over the years it became more and more wavy, and wouldn’t stay straight through a full day. I also got into curling it, but that was usually for special occasions. Mostly, I embraced my natural texture and left it wavy. But some days, those waves were a little wonky, so I needed something to make them look effortless and beachy. Enter: wave spray.

I’ve tried many wave sprays over the years but currently, I don’t use one. Instead, I rely on scrunching my hair with my hands post-shampoo for relaxed waves and if I want a deeper, more mermaid-like wave, I use my ceramic deep waver tool.

 

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Worth every penny for the gorgeous waves it gives me.

I had had one quite a few years ago but didn’t use it much and forgot about it. Then sometime last year, my mom bought me the TIGI Bed Head Wave Artist tourmaline ceramic deep waver, and I was hooked. This tool is hella awesome because it heats up in seconds and doesn’t take long to make the waves I’ve always dreamed of. I know there are probably higher quality wavers out there, but for 25 bucks, this does the job well.

Of course, when it comes to heat tools and colored hair, a protectant spray is definitely needed. The one I’m using currently found its way into my life in a weird way. It’s made by a company called Juice Organics, and while it is sold at Target, that’s not where I got mine from. It actually came as a free gift with a purchase I made from Thrive Market, which sells healthy groceries online (a subject for another blog post, perhaps!) and I was pleasantly surprised how well it works. I struggled to find a heat spray that was color-safe and vegan and actually works, and this fits the bill. I just spritz a little all over my hair before running the waver through it.

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So great for colored hair!

You know that I’m pretty relaxed when it comes to my hair care routine, so I’m always down for a product that allows me to extend the time between shampoos without making my hair a grease ball. That’s where Adorn’s hydrating hair oil + perfume comes in. I personally think Urban Outfitters’ beauty section is highly underrated, as they offer a ton of cruelty-free products for much less than Sephora or Ulta, plus things you won’t find anywhere else, like this spray/oil/perfume.

 

 

 

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Plus it’s millenial pink, so totally #ontrend.

Of course, it smells delicious. Otherwise, what’s the point? Fortunately, it’s not oily at all like the name sounds, just enough to add some life to dry ends and give your second (or third…or fourth…or fifth) day hair some oomph. The bottle is small-ish at just under 4 ounces, but a little goes a long way, and for $18, how can you say no?

Finally, my hair care regimen would be nothing without one of my favorite beauty products ever — HUM Nutrition Hair Sweet Hair gummy vegan vitamins. Yup, I said
“gummy vitamins” and “vegan” in the same sentence, because these are some of the only vegan-friendly gummy supplements out there. I am a child who refuses to take vitamins any other way, so when I saw these, I knew I had to have them. I’ve used them on and off for about a year and a half and they really do work. I experience less breakage when I consistently take these vitamins and I love that they’re packed with the B vitamins I need as a vegan. Plus the taste makes you want to eat more than 2 a day, if ya know what I mean.

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Delicious AND nutritious!

I know my styling routine is pretty *basic* (insert dramatic hair flip) but it works for me ’cause I love my hair (most days) and I don’t want to spend hours a day working on it. That time is better spent doing my makeup — jk, I have that down to a pretty quick 15 minute routine that I’ll be sharing with y’all soon!

What is one of your go-to styling products? Have you tried beauty gummies?

My Favorite Vegan & Cruelty-Free Products: Hair Care Part 1

Beauty

Hair Care

*This is part of my series highlighting my favorite vegan & cruelty-free beauty products and brands* 


“Invest in your hair, it is the crown you never take off.” (-Anonymous)

I haven’t had virgin hair since I was a preteen, when I began getting my (then) light brown hair highlighted. I was blonde for awhile in high school and college, then went dark brown just before I started my first job in 2014. A few months later, one of my new friends and I decided on a whim to color our own hair. I picked up a box of auburn hair dye, and the rest is history. I decided that red is my color, and I’ve mostly colored my hair myself since then, aside from having it colored professionally at Ulta once.

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Summer 2013. When I was hella blonde and thought I was cool wearing fake hipster glasses.

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Back to the dark side in March 2014. I miss those bangs tho.

Colored hair is more prone to damage from heat styling, UV exposure and even shampooing. Up until recently, I used to shampoo and condition my hair every other day because I was worried about greasiness. Now, I shampoo and condition twice a week at most, and my hair is so much healthier. I also credit the products I’m now using in my mane — specifically, the IGK line of hair care.

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New hair, who dis? November 2018 after getting my hair professionally colored.

I first fell in love with their Smoke & Mirrors conditioning cleansing oil. When I started washing my hair less often, I would use this in between washes to keep my hair looking clean. This stuff smells great and works as advertised.

Another winner — the Low Key cleansing walnut scalp scrub. I don’t know about you, but my scalp can get itchy and oily, especially after coloring my hair. This scrub purifies the scalp, washing away product buildup and keeping my scalp looking and feeling healthy. The sweet, minty smell is a nice bonus.

Of course, IGK makes some fabulous shampoos and conditioners. Though they come in small bottles (8 oz.), they last a long time if you wash your hair only once or twice a week. I currently use the Hot Girls shampoo and conditioner because my hair is in desperate need of hydration. They really nourish my dry ends and help my locks look good without needing to shampoo all the time.

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IGK Hot Girls shampoo & conditioner; IGK Direct Flight multi-tasking matcha dry shampoo

Sometimes, you just gotta use dry shampoo, especially when you wash your hair less frequently. Enter IGK’s Direct Flight multi-tasking matcha dry shampoo! I used to be a ride-or-die Living Proof dry shampoo girl, until I discovered this. This smells and works even better than my old fav. It doesn’t leave behind that annoying white residue like most other dry shampoos AND it’s safe for color-treated hair.

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So fresh and so clean clean. IGK Smoke & Mirrors conditioning cleansing oil and Low Key cleansing walnut scalp scrub.

I am dying to try their new Speechless dry oil finishing spray for hair & body, Rich Kid coconut oil gel, Down & Out dirty spray and their Trust Issues instant scalp rebalancing treatment.

IGK products are vegan, cruelty-free, contain no parabens or sulfates and are color safe.

I’ll be back soon with Part 2, focusing on my favorite vegan/cruelty-free styling products!

Do you have a holy grail dry shampoo? Have you ever tried IGK’s products?