Category Archives: Reviews

loving lately.

loving lately

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Happy Friday! Welcome to another edition of ‘loving lately’!

1) Converse One Star lounge pants. You guys, I’ve practically been living in these pants since the day I brought them home. I picked them up on a whim recently (Target clearance rack — need I say more?) and now I’m wishing I would have bought a few more! (Update: I went back for another pair!) In addition to comfort, I’m a sucker for any lounge pants that sport pockets.

2) Nourish Organic Face Cleanser. Aside from the packaging being just as adorable as the face crème’s (reference this post), it also scores points for its gentle factor and that it can be used on any skin type. And it goes without saying how much I love that it boasts the USDA organic seal and doesn’t contain all of the harmful ingredients that so many standard face washes do these days, i.e. parabens, phthalates, petrochemicals and EDTA.

3) Essie nail polish in ‘Honey Bun.’ I think it’s easy to get caught up in the trends and opt for bold nail polish shades + designs, but at the end of the day I prefer classic colors like mauve, red, nude, etc. and this one fits the bill perfectly.

4) Eco Candle Co. candle in the scent ‘Lovely.’ This sweet soy candle is described as “a feminine blend of citrus, floral and woodsy notes that is both casual and glamorous.” — I couldn’t have said it better myself! Runner up from this company is the scent ‘Chamomile Sage.’

5) Floral scarf. Target clearance strikes again. This recent purchase has quickly become a new favorite. Scarfs are always associated with the colder months but the light fabric plus floral pattern of this one makes it suitable for wear spring through fall.

What products have you been loving lately?

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loving lately.

loving lately1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6

Hey guys! I have some new [home] project posts in the works but in the meantime I thought I’d show you few products I’ve been loving lately…

1. Tera’s Protein Powder. I recently purchased two tubs of this protein powder when it was on sale at my local co-op (one dark chocolate whey & one honey vanilla goat) and have been very pleased with both. Previously I had been using vegan protein powders, but the taste + texture seemed off on all the one’s I tried. Tera’s, on the other hand, boasts great flavor + texture and a hearty amount of protein per serving (20 grams!). I also love that almost all of her products are organic and/or fair trade.

2. Mini alphabet stamp kit. Whether it’s for making custom cards or cute labels, this stamp kit of mine has gotten plenty of use in the past few months.

3. Born Paulette Flats. I bought these at a consignment shop in near-new condition last fall for $14 (they retail for $105) and I’ve definitely gotten my money’s worth. These flats are super comfortable and can pair with just about any outfit, aka my kinda shoe.

4. Ball Sip and Straw Lids. If you like drinking your juices and iced coffee in mason jars like me, these to-go lids are a must!

5. Fresh flowers. Either from the farmers market or my backyard, I can’t get enough fresh flowers lately and having small bouquets throughout my house (even if it’s just one bloom in a little vase!) Psst — interesting article on the benefits of having flowers in the home here.

6. Beeswax candles. I recently started purchasing pure beeswax candles from our farmers market and I’m smitten. Beeswax candles have long been known for their air purifying effects and can greatly reduce dust and other allergens in the home. They also burn clean and up to three times longer than paraffin candles. Awesome, right!? Find them at your local farmers market, co-op, or online.

What products have you been loving lately? See my last ‘loving lately’ post here.

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loving lately.

loving lately1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8

Happy Monday, friends! I have a few new house projects to share with you soon but in the meantime, here are some products/items I’ve been loving lately (links above).

1 – This lamp from IKEA, categorized as a “work lamp”, has become our new bedside table lighting. I originally bought just one, but liked it so much that I went back and bought another!

2 – I’ll never get sick of these soy wax/essential oil candles from Target and I always stock up when they’re on sale (which they were this past week). The vanilla bean scent is a classic but I’m also loving the pink magnolia one, too!

3 – Plants, plants, plants! I aim to have at least 1-2 plants per room in our house (read about the benefits here), but lately I’ve been particularly drawn to succulents.

4 – With garden season right around the corner, I couldn’t resist buying this cute pair of rain boots from Target. (You know I must really like them if I didn’t even wait for them to go on sale…)

5 – I picked up this face cream on a whim a few weeks back when it was on sale at a co-op in the Twin Cities. First off – can you say cute packaging?! But more importantly, this is the first line of skin care I’ve come across that is USDA certified organic which is pretty flippin’ awesome if you ask me. I’ve really been enjoying it and plan to try other products from the Nourish line in the near future.

6 – I’ve been doing a lot of research on the benefits and uses of various essential oils. Lately I’ve been really into mixing peppermint oil into my lotion in the afternoon for an invigorating ‘pick-me-up’ at work. It’s also great for relieving headaches, nausea, congestion & more. (Read more about peppermint oil here).

7 – The Mineral Fusion nail polish line was something I came across last year at Whole Foods and I’ve since acquired an assortment of colors, including my latest favorite, ‘fossil’, a basic nude that goes with everything. (These polishes are formaldehyde, toulene, camphor and dibutyl pthalate free!)

8 – Containing only a handful of ingredients, the coconut almond Kind bars have been my go-to snack recently (since ditching Clif bars and all).

What products or items have you been loving lately?

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local shop spotlight: EGG|PLANT


I recently came across a quaint, sustainable-savvy shop in St. Paul worth raving about. Enter Egg|Plant Urban Farm Supply store. I’m a huge fan of supporting local + family-owned businesses and after stopping and shopping at this one, I quickly grasped the “you’ll be a repeat-customer” vibe it was giving me.

While the shop itself is on the small side, it boasts an abundance of merchandise that might make you wish you had a cart. Among the shop’s vast range of products, you’ll find a large selection of all things necessary for creating an urban backyard homestead. Whether you’re looking to dabble in chicken-raising or try your hand at organic gardening, Egg|Plant is your go-to shop! You’ll also come across items for composting, homemade brewing, fermenting, cheese making, canning, preserving, plus more. In addition, the shop offers a variety of classes on the majority of those topics to provide you with everything you need to know on the subject.


If you’re curious about learning how you can be more sustainable (even in an urban city-setting), or are simply looking for resources/supplies on a particular homesteading task like those mentioned above, I highly recommend making a stop at Egg|Plant.

Have you come across any new shops lately that has earned a spot on your favorites list?

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healthy living: knowledge is power.

organic food

Allow me to stand on my soapbox today! As my eagerness for learning more about eco-friendly and healthy living over the years has grown (and only continues to do so), I’m constantly trying to absorb as much information as I can in order to expand my knowledge on the subject. The variety of resources I came across this past week spotlighting America’s food industry proved to be a wealth of information and nothing short of powerful, eye-opening and definitely share-worthy! Okay, before you click away, hear me out here — even if you’re not necessarily crazed about the idea of “healthy living” or giving up your fast food Fridays, the resources I’m sharing contain basic information the general public should know about (and can only benefit from), regardless of your concern for the topic. Keep in mind that knowledge is power and ignorance is bliss so don’t be in the dark — educate yourself! The more you know about healthy living, the larger impact you can have in bettering your lifestyle and those you care about.

Take the time to check out the following links and you may very well feel baffled from what you’ll learn, but also enlightened and empowered.

anna lappe

Short video: How the food industry influences you and your kids // a 15-min. clip featuring a revealing speech by author and activist Anna Lappe in regards to the food industry’s marketing tactics/ploys specifically geared toward children. From snack packaging to school supplies, the ways in which companies such as Coca-Cola are targeting children and deceiving them into consuming (and getting hooked on) their product is just down right disturbing. For anyone who has a child in their life that they care about, this clip is well-worth your time!

forks over knives

Documentary: Forks Over Knives // a thought-provoking documentary on the negatively profound effects of the average American diet. The video exclusively examines the claim that most, if not all, degenerative diseases that afflict us can be controlled and even reversed by rejecting animal-based and processed foods. Clean eating as the answer to cancer prevention and obesity? Yes, that’s exactly right! It’s so simple, yet comes as such a complex concept for people to comprehend. This is hands-down the best documentary I’ve watched and has had the most lasting influence on me. In my opinion, it even trumps Food Inc., Vegucated, and Food Matters, which is not to say those aren’t excellent documentaries because they are also worth checking out!


Public figure: Birke Baehr // It’s people like Birke, a 14-year-old organic food crusader, who show promise for our future generations. This early activists’ self-taught knowledge of how today’s food industry is so wrongly effecting Americans has led him to boycott fast food chains and GMO-laden food in favor of eating and promoting local + organically grown. If one kid can say no to McDonald’s and soda laced with loads of high fructose corn syrup, then surely there is hope for the rest of America! Watch just one of Birke’s speeches and you will be instantly captivated and inspired.


Coming soon: GMO OMG // this documentary (currently underway) highlights the corporate ‘hijacking’ of our global food system through GMOs – genetically modified organisms. As our government is being bought out by giant food corps, how can we really know what is safe to consume anymore? Is it even possible to get back to the days of “real” food where we don’t have to scrutinize ingredients? For anyone who has been outraged by the recent Monsanto Protection Act signed by President Obama, definitely add this to your must-watch list!

The ‘Food Babe’ blog is also an excellent source of information that I recently wrote about here.

If you made it through this whole post, I applaud you! I would truly love to receive your personal feedback on what I’ve shared today. (I’d love even more if you’d share this post with others!) Have a wonderful and healthy week! :-)



Filed under Health & Wellness, Reviews

random new things.

Just a few random new things I’ve purchased in the past month + my thoughts on each…
saucony running shoes

New running shoes: Saucony Kinvara 3. I signed up for a half marathon in May so for the past month I had been searching for a new running shoe to train in. (This was after discovering that my favorite Asics Gel-Arianna shoe (which I re-purchased the past two years because I loved them so much) was sadly discontinued). I first tried the Mizuno Wave Inspire 9, but returned them just a day later after getting blisters from wearing them on a 45-minute walk. An employee at the local running store said the Saucony Kinvara 3’s were relatively similar to the Asics I liked, so I decided to give them a go. I haven’t done a long-distance run in them quite yet, but just from the few short runs I’ve done so far they seem promising. Do you have a go-to running shoe?

all new sqaure foot gardening

New book: All New Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew. This summer Rey and I will be trying our hands at organic gardening. It’s definitely an investment (both time and money-wise) once you factor in all of the work and supplies needed, so I want to make sure our efforts don’t become a flop. As with any new endeavor, I figure the more research done beforehand, the better chances for success. This book was recommended to me as the ‘classic go-to book’ for all the info a beginner gardener is after — planning, building, growing, & harvesting. I’m only a few pages in but I can already tell it was $20 well spent!

compost pailNew kitchen/garden tool: Oggi Eco-friendly Compost Pail. From the basic garden reasearch I’ve done this far, I’ve learned that compost rich in organic matter will make your garden thrive and is a vital piece in the successful garden puzzle. Since we’re always tossing out coffee grounds and pulp from juicing on a regular basis, this seemed like an essential item to have in working towards our [hopefully successful] organic vegetable garden this summer. (I opted for this particular pail over other stainless steel versions because it’s made with bamboo fiber – a renewable resource).

burt's bees tinted lip balm

New beauty item: Burt’s Bees Tinted Lip Balm in ‘Red Dahlia.’ I finally caved and purchased one of these tinted balms after resisting temptation for about a year. I’m a big fan of Burt’s Bees original lip balm, and now I can say the same for this tinted version. It gives just the right amount of color and moisturizes at the same time. My only complaint is that the tinted balms are $4 more than an original balm, yet the tint is really the only difference between the two. But now that I’ve given this a try, I’m also curious about the new lip glosses and lip shines… Have you tried any of the Burt’s Bees lip color products?

What new products have you purchased lately?


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A+ for american blinds.

This past week we finally received the shades we ordered back in December from American Blinds (they were placed on backorder twice), and I can now say it was four months worth the wait! The shades were super easy to install and we love the way they look.

old blinds
Out with the standard vinyl roller shades, in with the new custom woven wood ones!

new blinds

Instead of taking a picture of almost every room in the house with the new shades (we installed 16 total), I thought I’d make it simple and show you just this one window. You get the jist!  (Note: we went with ‘Sumatra 87’ if you’re after a similar look. It lets a small amount of light in but not enough for anyone on the outside to see in).

At first I was wary of ordering shades online, but based on my overall experience and despite the wait, I highly recommend American Blinds to those in the market for [affordable] custom blinds or shades. We saved hundreds of dollars going with them instead of the big box store. Another bonus — you have the ability to order as many free samples as you want prior to purchasing so you can make sure you are getting exactly what it is you want. We were also extremely impressed with the customer service. All in all I give them an A!


Filed under House & Home, Reviews

friday favorites: media.

happy fridayimage via

Happy Friday! Any fun plans for the weekend? If you happen to have some free time, I highly recommend reading/watching one or two of the following (aka a few of my favorite media items as of late)…

Article: 22 Things Happy People Do Differently // a wonderful article pin-pointing 22 simple things that are characterized by ‘happy people.’

Book: Gone Girl // a hard-to-put-down suspense that comes with a real curveball and will keep you at the edge of your seat from start to finish.

Movie: Side Effects // similar to ‘Gone Girl’, this movie is chock-full of suspense and delivers a twist that slowly but surely gives way to a rather shocking ending. (currently in theaters)

Documentary: Food Matters // an eye-opening documentary on the power of whole foods for treating chronic illnesses rather than the [harmful] pharmaceutical drugs that our society seems to rely all too heavily on.

Blog: A Beautiful Mess //a quirky blog featuring a fun and eclectic mix of DIY, beauty, fashion, home decor, recipes & more.

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friday favorites: blogs.

In case you didn’t know, I am a blog addict. Every time I come across a new blog that I like, it seems as though I can’t. get. enough. (That’s the addiction talking). Within a short period of time I feel like I actually know the person behind the blog. (Creepy kind of?) But I digress. You can check out my blogroll to view the full list of the blogs I peruse, but today I wanted to share with you the four that I’ve been loving recently and why.

food babe

Food Babe – do you ever wonder what all of those complicated ingredients on your food’s labels are, or what they really mean in terms of your health? Vani Hari takes the guessing out of the equation with her thorough investigation of today’s food industry and shares the potential dangers lurking in our everyday foods. Her blog also features tasty and wholesome recipes,  as well as her exotic travel adventures. Warning: You just might find yourself purging through your pantry and pledging to forever for-go fast food after reading just a few of her thought-provoking posts.iheart organizingiHeart Organizing – if the title doesn’t give it away, this blog covers everything organization-related, and I mean everything. Pantries, entryways, drawers, closets of all kinds – basically you name it, it’s on there and it’s been organized. Since reading this blog, I have found myself re-arranging every nook and cranny in my house and trying to better optimize the space among our bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen cabinets and everything in between. Who knew organizing could be so rewarding… and addicting!

never homemaker

{never} homemaker – I saw this blog’s tagline of “healthy, balanced & whole living” and I was smitten from the start. I’d refer to Ashley as a young, modern-day homemaker who provides readers with healthy-living advice and know-how through her posts on running, grocery budgeting, and healthy, made-from-scratch recipes. I even find her motherhood posts intriguing (but NO – there is no plan of babies in the near future for this gal, FYI).

making it lovelyMaking it Lovely – Nicole’s exceptional photography and innate design abilities effortlessly shine through her savvy styling of both fashionable outfits and home décor. I think I’ve seriously looked through her house tour at least ten times, and could easily look at it a few more. I sincerely adore Nicole’s quirky yet chic approach to her home as well as her wardrobe and find myself coming back for more on the daily.

I’d love to know what blogs you’ve been loving lately.

Have a great weekend!


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tarte haul.

When I recently received Tarte’s newsletter announcing their friends & family sale (30% off all items), I reached for my credit card without hesitation. The combination of my ongoing Tarte “want list” plus my weakness for a sale could only mean one thing – it was game on. While I didn’t get everything I wanted (I had to draw the line somewhere or else I’d have bought everything off the dang website), my money was well spent on what I did allow myself to buy. Here’s what I purchased and my [brief] impressions on each item:

1) Maracuja Creaseless Waterproof ConcealerLong-lasting. Full coverage. Natural. Need I say more?

2) Amazonian Clay 12-hour Foundation — You can read my full review about this fab foundation here. And let me just say – you know it’s gotta be good if I, the forever frugalista, have purchased this pricey product three times now.

3) Bambeautiful Amazonian Clay Eyeshadow Palette in ‘Shades of Clay’ — The shades in this palette (shimmering buff, shimmering sable, shimmering cocoa and matte coffee bean) are even more beautiful in person than they are in picture. Each shade is perfect for everyday wear (oh, and I’ve literally been wearing it everyday) plus the color payoff is exceptional. And just how can you overlook that chic and  sustainable bamboo packaging?! Gorgeous and green – I’m all for it.

4) ‘Lights, Camera, Lashes!’ Mascara — In addition to Tarte’s foundation mentioned above, this is yet another repeat purchase for me that you can read more about here! (Seriously, if you haven’t tried this stuff yet, you’re missing out!)

5) EmpasEYES Amazonian Clay Waterproof Eyeliner  in ‘brown’ — I initially wanted to buy this item for my wedding-day makeup look (waterproof Adele-inspired cat eye, anyone?) but have surprisingly started using it for my brows with my trusty Sigma E75 brush to add a bit of intensity. So I guess you could say this item doubles as a  two-for-one and that’s what I call a money-worthy purchase!

6) LipSurgance Matte Lip Tint in ‘Envy’ — With fall just around the corner, how could I say no to a product promising a deep berry lip? All self-justifications aside, I now want to buy every shade in the line – no joke. It’s moisturizing, long-lasting, rich in color, and peppermint-infused — far from that of your typical drugstore lip tint/stain. Now how’s that for pigment-perfect pout, people!?

What Tarte items have exceeded your expectations?

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