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Over the summer I started a new series on the blog called “A Few of my Favorite Things” I wanted to take the opportunity to showcase some of my favorite products and services. These are not only food related, but also essential oils, safer skincare, fitness, beauty, holistic health, kitchen gadgets… you name it. Just the products that I use on a regular basis that bring joy to my life or help make my life just a little bit easier. I am not paid for these posts and all the thoughts are my own. I will always be honest about the good, the bad and the ugly. Although, you won’t really find any ugly as that wouldn’t make much sense for a post about my favorite things, now would it. If you would like to revisit my prior posts in this series, they are in order below…
Click HERE to visit Post 1 – the week of 9/19
Click HERE to visit Post 2 – the week of 9/26
Annnd Welcome to Post 3 – The Holiday Edition
It’s been a while since I did a Favorite Things post. I had trouble narrowing it down as I have a growing list of things I want to tell you guys about. You can expect a big, exciting new years resolution Favorite Things post coming in January. But for now, here are the items that are topping my charts right now. Just in time for some last minute Christmas shopping. If you are anything like me, Amazon Prime is your best friend. It has saved me on many occasions with my last minute shopping.
Vegetable noodles are a game changer in the low carb, keto, paleo world. What ever did we do before the invention of the spiral slicer? For years I used this compact hand held version. It is very well made and did the trick for the most part. However, it is difficult to clean and the size and shape of it made it difficult to use on a lot of different vegetables. Enter the Paderno World Cuisine Spiral Slicer. With it’s open design and interchangeable blades, there are no limits to the types of vegetables you can cut. Spirals, ribbons and shreds, OH MY! The removable blades make it super easy to clean. It doesn’t require electrical power and it even suctions to the counter, so it stays put while in use. It is BPA free and the blades are a high quality stainless steel. I would say the price tag is also a STEAL… You see what I did there? Seriously though, you need this. You can pick one up here. Not sure what you would use it for? Here is a list of 20 Low Carb and Paleo Vegetable Noodle Recipes that just may help you figure it out!
Okay, I am seriously obsessed with this! It has changed my life. Well maybe not my life, but certainly my hair. I’ll admit, at first I was really turned off by the company. They launched an extremely aggressive ad campaign on Facebook and I was really tired of seeing them. They also send out far too many emails. The emails kept coming even after I unsubscribed. I’m just being honest. I want to give you guys true reviews of the products and companies that I feature. BUT, the product itself is amazing! I have really dark brown hair and it takes a lot of upkeep to keep it that way. I only dye my hair to cover up the greys. I like my natural color and if aging hadn’t caught up with me, I may still have never dyed my hair to this day. The most annoying part about it is that I only get grey at the roots and at my temples. So I am doing an all over color for a few (okay, maybe more that a few) greys at the roots. I can dye my hair and then see those annoying streaks of silver at my temples just a few days later. Ugh! So irritating. I definitely don’t need that not so subtle reminder that 40 is right around the corner. Enter Madison Reed… It is a root touch up powder that you apply just like blush, except that it is for your hair. You just brush it right over the grey hairs and watch them disappear. It comes in multiple shades to match just about any hair color. It stays put and even adds a little thickness to your hair. It is also amazing for thinning hair or widening parts. If you part your hair and have watched your part spread wider over the years, you can brush the Madison Reed Touch Up Powder along your part to make it less noticeable. Since I started using this, I am dying my hair far less often. Anything that means less damage to my hair is a HUGE win in my book. Seriously, I can’t say enough good things about this. Grab some here.
I am a total freak for mason jars. I love them and all of their glorious retro charm. We use them for everything. We even swapped out all of our drinking glasses for these purple pint size jars. But when I found these Recap lids, I was over the moon. Seriously, the smallest things bring me joy these day! You see, over the last couple of years, we have been transitioning away from plastic storage containers in our home. To be honest, we have transitioned away from plastic in all areas possible. We don’t want to contribute any more than necessary to landfills. We also aim to lower our carbon footprint wherever we can. We are certainly not perfect, but we get a little better with each passing day. That is a topic I could go on and on about. Perhaps that is a post for another time. Now, back to the Recap Lids… we use them so much more than I even thought we would. I initially bought them for all the homemade salad dressings I make – like this Buffalo Ranch Dressing Recipe, but then I quickly realized how many other uses they have. I now use them on a large mason jar to make my post workout protein shakes instead of my old plastic blender bottle. They are also great for storing snacks like nuts and seeds. They are amazing for storing dry goods like almond flour, chia seeds, protein powders, you name it! How many times have you tried to pour something like almond flour right from the plastic packaging, only to have it cascade into a giant, messy pile on your counter? Not to mention the chore of finding a good way to re-seal the bag in a manner that keeps the items fresh. Recap Lids answer all of those problems. I really can’t say enough great things about them. Grab a set here. They also have a new flip top variation. This is awesome for storing items that wouldn’t fit through the pour spout. Check those out here.
This one comes kind of out of left field. It turned out to be one of those things that I never knew I was missing until I had one. It was given to me as a gift and at first I wasn’t sure it would get much use, and now I can’t imagine a day without it. The UE Boom is a compact and portable wireless bluetooth speaker. I was a little leery at first as I have found a lot of the wireless technology out there to be sub par and to have terrible sound. Definitely NOT the case with the UE Boom. The sound is amazing and the connection is perfectly clear. I stream Pandora through it all day while I work and it totally sounds like I have a full stereo system blaring. I am amazed at the sound quality that such a small speaker could produce. I’ve even pushed it to the limits, turning it up really loudly to see if it would distort. Nope! Crystal clear. I love that I can take it easily from room to room, depending on where my work day takes me. Some days I am in the kitchen working on new recipes and other days I am in my home office behind my desk. I just take it with me from room to room. We also use it all summer long on our back deck. Who needs built in sound when you can have such amazing portable sound? Best of all, it is waterproof and shock proof. You can grab one here.
Many people think of a SodaStream as just for making your own soda and don’t see the value in it. For me, it is all about the sparkling water. I am a sparkling water junkie, or “water with gas” as they call it in Europe. I used to crave soda so much. I would open a can of Coke (and then later Coke Zero) only to take a sip or two and then leave it sitting there. It would sound so good, only to be disappointing every time. It took me a long time to realize that it was the carbonation that I was craving and not the actual flavor of the soda. At first I was buying case after case of sparkling water and then I realized how much waste I was creating. The SodaStream was a perfect solution to that. Not only did it eliminate all the extra waste, but it actually ended up saving me money and paying for itself. If that isn’t a WIN, then I don’t know what is. When I want a little extra flavor in my water, I add Grapefruit or Lemon essential oils just for a hint of fruitiness. It is also great for the perfect low carb cocktail. Vodka soda with a couple drops of a citrus oil and I am good to go. You can pick up a SodaStream here. You can usually get great deals on them at Target as well, although they don’t carry the glass carafe model.
I am constantly posting pictures of my meals on my Instagram account and one of the questions I get the most is how I get my eggs cooked so perfectly. I wish I could take credit for it and say that I had some super special technique that I crafted all on my own, but that would be a lie. It is all in the pan I use. The size and shape of the pan keep the eggs from spreading out too thin and they cook evenly every time. I also cook them on a lower temperature to get the perfectly set whites with deliciously gooey yolks, without flipping the eggs. You can see an example of what I mean on my Pizza Egg Recipe. I seriously leveled up my egg game when I bought this pan. If you were to pop over to my house at any time, unannounced, there is a solid chance that you will see this pan out on the stove. We eat A LOT of eggs in our house. Best of all, it is made with a non-stick ceramic. You can use it with the confidence of knowing that is isn’t leaching toxic chemicals into your food like a lot of the tephlon and t-fal pans do over time. Grab one for yourself here.
I’m always on the lookout for a quality protein powder that actually tastes good. It seems like you can either get quality ingredients OR good taste, but usually not both. Someone in my Peace Love and Low Carb Friends Group recommended this protein power and I thought to myself “Sure, why not! I’ll give it a try” Boy, am I glad that I did. It tastes so good, has fairly clean ingredients, is gluten free and best of all only contains 2 net carbs per scoop (3 carbs total). The Vanilla Chai flavor is SO good! I like to mix it with a little unsweetened almond milk or coconut milk for a nice post workout shake. I’ve even started taking it to the gym with me and sipping on it during my workout. It also makes a great meal replacement for me since I am not much of a breakfast person. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE breakfast foods, I just usually eat them in the afternoon. Check out all the different flavors – Vanilla Chai, Banana Cream, and Chocolate Delight.
Sleep Phones have been awesome on those nights when I am having trouble falling asleep or for long planes rides. They are soft and comfortable. They also have pretty darn impressive sound for small, flexible speakers. I stream a soothing nature sound channel on Pandora and then drift off into sweet oblivion. I am the kind of person where if I hear a sound, I will then fixate on it like it is the loudest sound in the world. I will get myself so worked up over the annoying sound that there is absolutely zero chance of me falling asleep. When this happens, I just slip on my Sleep Phones and all is right with the world again. As much as I love Jon, sleeping in a room with a snoring husband and 4 snoring pups is pretty much my idea of torture. Before I got my Sleep Phones, I would usually just get up and work in the middle of the night if I couldn’t sleep. That wasn’t good for anyone. Sleep is too important to all other aspects of your life. Another thing I love about them is that they can double as an eye mask. I like to sleep in a pitch black room. At our new house, our bedroom has 8 windows. It never gets very dark in there. I’ve started pulling my Sleep Phones down over my eyes and it helps me get the dark, relaxing environment that I need to achieve quality sleep. Check them out for yourself here.
Like most women, I am obsessed with lip gloss. If you were to dig into my purse right now, you would likely pull out 10 different varieties of glosses, lipsticks, lip stains, lip conditioners etc. However, it is really hard to find a gloss that has the perfect amount of shine that isn’t crazy sticky. I used to buy a lot of glosses at Victorias Secret and I loved them. Then all of a sudden it seemed as though they did away with all the non-sticky varieties. I hate closing my lips only to feel like they are glued together. Then from there it only goes down hill. It gets all clumpy and pastey and my hair sticks to my lips. Yuck! Oh, the price of beauty! I was really, really happy when I found the Beautycounter Lip Shine. Not only does it give the perfect amount of shine, but it isn’t sticky. It lasts a long time, and when it does wear off, your lips just feel conditioned and soft, not like they have been through a war, like some other glosses make them feel. It is my go-to gloss for the perfect pout. Get a tube here.
We seriously love our salt lamps. We have them all throughout our house. We even have one in the laundry room for the pups. (We have a large laundry room and that is where the pups hang out when we leave the house). Not only do they give off a beautiful glow, but they have a lot of health benefits as well.
How do they work?
The air is filled with negative and positive ions. To maintain a healthy atmosphere, these negative and positive ions must remain in balance. However, technology today, like electronic devices, motor vehicles and our heating & cooling systems produce so many positive ions that our air is thrown off balance; resulting in stress, sleep disorders, migraine headaches and allergies to name a few. For example, most of our televisions run on a frequency of about 100-160 Hz. However, our brainwaves only vibrate at around 8 Hz. The television vibrates at a rate of more than twenty times faster than our brainwaves! Is it any wonder why we have so many diagnosed with ADHD, nervousness, and insomnia? It also causes the body to produce free radicals that can cause cancer, among other things. Placing a salt lamp besides the television and other electronics will help increase the amount of negative ions (which are the good ones). I remember when I first put salt lamps throughout the house, my mom came to visit and asked if I had drugged the kids! She couldn’t believe that the lamps had made that much of a difference. Trust me, in a house full of eight kids, you notice when they calm down. Three of them had a diagnosis of ADHD and it really did make a difference in their behaviors and their ability to concentrate. Continue reading here.
How do I pick the right lamp?
Salt lamps come in many different shapes and sizes. The rule of thumb is, the heavier the lamp, the more area it will cover. The smallest size lamp is a mini lamp, which will cover about an eight foot radius. Lamps are sold in weight classes, much like wrestlers. Each size is given a weight range that you can expect your lamp to fall in. Shape is a matter of preference. People have different likes. With the many different shapes that the lamps come in, it should be pretty easy to find one that suits you. Grab yours here.
I have three sets of these Libbey Prep Bowls. Are you seeing a theme throughout my post about switching to glass storage? These prep bowls have been crazy handy. I use them to prep up a ready made salad bar so that all throughout the week I can make a quick and easy salad with whichever ingredients sound good at the time. They also make it really handy for me to pre-prep ingredients that are in a lot of my recipes, like diced onions, minced garlic, diced tomatoes, chopped parsley etc. At 6.25 oz each, they are also great for helping with portion control. The possibilities are endless. I just went to my fridge and I have 8 of them in there right now. One has leftover salad dressing, then there are black olives, green olives, jalapeños, diced tomatoes, goat cheese, shredded cheddar, and diced onions. I’ll be adding to that number today as I restock my salad bar. If you are looking for a slightly larger size, I also have these 16 oz glass storage bowls. You can check them out here.
Even in this digital age, I still write everything down. EVERYTHING! I rely heavily on Evernote for work, but you will still see notebooks, index cards and scraps of paper with my handwriting all over my house. There is something so cathartic about writing things out. Even with all of the workout tracking apps available, I still track my fitness by hand. Sports Journals are my favorite way to do this. Back in 2012 when I first started CrossFit, my sister bought me one as a gift. Now I have filled 3 of them. There would probably be even more had I not taken a big gap of time off. There are spots to track your workouts, your sleep, your nutrition, your overall mood, your benchmarks, your PR’s and so much more. It is an amazing written history of your fitness achievements. I love being able to go back to an old workout and compare where I was then, with where I am now. I realize that you could do that in an app also, but I guess I am a little old school in my tracking. The WodBook even has illustrations to help demonstrate proper form on some of the lifts as well. It is a great, inexpensive resource. I swear by it. You can pick one up here.
Last, but certainly not least for today is Cel-Lite Magic Massage Oil. It detoxifies and cleanses skin while helping to improve skin texture. I use it DAILY after I get out of the shower. In combination with massage, it can improve circulation by flushing lactic acid from the muscles, resulting in improved body function. Massage facilitates the flow of lymphatic fluid which carries metabolic waste away from muscles and internal organs. When used in conjunction with massage it helps with cleansing, detoxification, reduce in bloating due to monthly cycle, lymphatic system flush, relaxation, skin firming and toning and improves skin texture.
Even though Cel-Lite is already infused with the oils Grapefruit, Cypress, Juniper, Cedarwood and Clary Sage, I added more oils to make my own stretch mark/skin smoothing serum.To a full bottle of Cel-Lite, I added 10 drops each of: Frankincense, Elemi, Geranium, Lavender, Sensation, Valor, and White Angelica.
I massage it into my abdomen, upper arms, hips and thighs twice daily. The skin across my stomach and lower abdomen hasn’t looked this smooth since I was a teenager. It has definitely lessened the appearance of some older stretch marks and made them far less visible. As a whole, my skin feels much softer and smoother. I am trying to give my skin all the help I can while I continue to work on this weight loss journey. I am also dry brushing and rebounding. If I could avoid skin removal surgery after my weight loss, I am all for anything that might help! You can get it here.