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? 

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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?