January Obsessions

I can’t believe that the first month of 2020 is already over! So far 2020 has been full of exciting changes for me.  Many people who know me well, know that I often find products/services that I fall in love with.  I decided this year I wanted to start doing a monthly recap of my favorite products each month.  See my January Obsessions below!

Iron Flask

IMG_3506Like many people, one of my daily health challenges is drinking enough water.  Luckily, I like the taste of water (I know many people don’t) but my biggest issue is having COLD water.  I have a hard time drinking water if it is at room temperature.

My sisters both have Hydro Flask water bottles that are amazing as they keep your water cold for 24+ hours…but they come with a crazy price tag of around $50.  I was determined to find a cheaper product and luckily found the Iron Flask on Amazon.

I have the 40oz Iron Flask in the color Bubble Gum and I paid under $30 for it.  It comes with three different lid styles and when you fill it up with ice, it keeps water cold for days.  It is AMAZING!  There are many different sizes/colors to choose from, but I love the 40oz size because I do not have to refill it that frequently throughout the day.

Check out the Iron Flask Here!

Home Chef

New year, new health goals…right?!  Well luckily eating healthy has become WAY easier for me since I found Home Chef.  Home Chef is a food delivery service that ships your ingredients and recipes right to your front door once a week.  You can use their app/website to make your meal selections and then BAM all of your meal prep/planning for the week is done.

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I absolutely love this meal service for a few different reasons…

  1. The recipes are all delicious – I have yet to try one that I don’t like!
  2. All of their dishes are relatively low in calories.  Most meals I’ve tried are around 400-700 calories, but you can easily look and see what the nutrition info is before you select the meal.  This makes calorie counting SUPER EASY!
  3. Each meal is packaged individually and most items are prepped/measured out for you.  This makes dinner SO painless.  Usually I can throw together a healthy, gourmet dinner for myself in under 30 minutes. Score!
  4. When you order for the first time they send you a binder for your recipe cards.  This way you can save all of the recipes you purchase and make them again in the future.

For $35 off your first Home Chef order, click the link below!

Try out Home Chef here! 

Furbo

Calling all pup parents! One of my favorite Christmas presents I received was my Furbo.  This is a camera for your home that allows you to keep an eye on your pup from an app on your phone. You can talk to your dog AND it dispenses treats!

I love/hate the Furbo app because it lets me check in on Mowgli while I’m at work, but it also sends me alerts when he is barking!  This week I was alerted that he was barking and was able to use the Furbo app to find out he accidentally locked himself in Lindsey’s bedroom.  Thanks Furbo!  Highly recommend one of these if you are a dog lover…it is very helpful (and also a little extra home security!).

 

Bubbly Water

Maybe this one seems a little crazy…but I am OBSESSED with Bubbly water.

One of my IMG_3512New Years Resolutions for 2020 is to eliminate soda.  Regular soda is full of sugar (empty calories), and diet soda is filled with sketchy chemicals.  I’ve made the switch from drinking soda to sparkling water or iced tea and I haven’t missed it yet!

My favorite flavors of Bubbly that I have tried so far are Peach, Blackberry, and Grapefruit.  It is light and refreshing and it gives me the “fizz” fix.  Sparkling water is not sweet like soda, but it does hit the spot!  I probably drink at least one a day and I keep a whole case of it at work.

 

 

 

How to Make Money…FAST!

Yesterday I posted about Murphy’s Law and how things go wrong when they can go wrong.  I briefly talked about how I was able to save up $1,000 relatively quickly and it was primarily by selling things that I own.  Selling things is really quite simple, so I wanted to give some tips for those that want to make some money off of their unused stuff!

Not sure what to sell?  I get it!  I didn’t think I had much to get rid of until I started going through each room of our apartment and thinking “do I use this often?” and “is this going to be something I need in the future?”  I found a lot of items that I really didn’t need.  For example, with the launching of Disney+ and the general popularity of streaming services, I decided I no longer needed to have Blu-ray’s or my Blu-ray player.  I made over $250 on selling my Blu-rays!

Listed below are my favorite selling platforms and how I have sold all of my stuff I deemed unnecessary!

Facebook Marketplace

  • Facebook Marketplace can be used if you have a Facebook account. It posts the items you want to sell to the “Marketplace” which is essentially your local community. (think Craigslist, but less sketchy)
  • I found selling larger or more complex items on Facebook Marketplace is easier than a platform like Ebay as there are no selling fees, you don’t have to ship your item, and you can make cash, fast! (I made over $900)
  • Examples of items I sold on Facebook Marketplace were my MacBook Pro, Disney Blu-ray Movies, small kitchen appliances/tools, Blu-ray player, and puppy items that Mowgli no longer needed.
  • I never once felt unsafe meeting up with people to exchange items, but most people are open to meeting at a local gas station/Starbucks if you don’t want them coming to your house.
  • Tip: many people want a “deal” so if you want to sell your item for $50, set it at $60 and expect that people WILL try to ask if you’ll take less (and if they don’t bargain, then more $ for you!)

Ebay

  • I have bought and sold items on Ebay for years!  It is very user-friendly and is easy to create an account.
  • I find that smaller, more luxurious items are easier to sell on Ebay as they are easier to ship and you will most likely get more money for them.
  • Examples of items I have sold on Ebay were my Clarisonic electric face brush, Beats headphones, old cell phones, unused protein powder, and designer purses/sunglasses.
  • Tip: make sure that you charge enough for shipping or you can get burned!  For example, if you are selling an item for $20 and you list it with “free shipping”, paying $14 to ship it at the Post Office is going to cut into your profits!  I recommend shipping using the USPS Priority Boxes because they are free at any Post Office, they will tape the box for you (also free), and each size of box has a fixed price so you know exactly what to charge for shipping.
  • One thing to note with Ebay is that the do have selling fees.  Typically you do not have to pay to list your item, but if it sells, Ebay will usually take a small percentage of the selling price.

Poshmark

  • Poshmark is relatively new to me but it is a great network to sell clothing and accessories.  You can list new or used items from your closet to sell!
  • This app is great to sell unused things in your closet that you would normally bring to a consignment store…think about those jeans that are too big, those boots you don’t wear, or that nice watch you no longer use!  It is like a garage sale…through an app.
  • Poshmark is relatively “risk-free” as they send you the USPS shipping label to use when your item is purchased and all buyer payments go through the app.
  • I’m still new to this app, but if you have a lot of clothes/accessories you want to sell it is worth checking out!

Hopefully this gives you some inspiration on how you can clean out your cupboards and closets and make some money off of the things that you no longer need!  One person’s junk is another person’s treasure 🙂

Accomplished & Unexpected

As many of you know, I’ve been working hard to clear up the debt I accumulated in college.  I was fortunate that I never had to take out student loans, but I was stupid and lived WAY above my means in college and went in debt to do it.  I have since learned how to budget (thanks to the EveryDollar app and Dave Ramsey), but I’ve been working hard to erase the $21K I owe so I can be debt free!

The first “baby step” in Dave Ramsey’s plan is to save $1,000 in an emergency fund.  I have always been horrible at saving money, so I was SO proud of myself this week when I transferred $1,000 to my savings account and completed step #1.  It took me a little while to save up the money since I have been simultaneously saving for Christmas presents, but I also got in the spirit of selling and sold over $1,000 in stuff I had around the house on Ebay and Facebook Marketplace. The biggest items I sold were my MacBook Pro for $650 and all of my Disney Blu-ray movies for over $250!

Unfortunately, I found out this week why it is so important to have an emergency fund.  Two days (TWO DAYS!!!!) after I FINALLY saved up $1,000, my car started making this funny noise when I tried to accelerate.  Now, I am not a car person and I prefer to treat the bad noises cars make by turning up the volume on the radio and ignoring it… but I knew I needed to get it inspected.

The good news?  The repair is less than $1,000.  The bad news?  The repair is $635, which basically drains my entire emergency fund 😦  (For those of you who are car people – I need new spark plugs and ignition coils).  Even though this situation is pretty sucky, I am SO glad that I had worked on this emergency fund or this car problem would have been 10x more stressful (especially during the holidays).

So this week has been full of highs and lows, but the good news is that I know I can accomplish saving $1,000 since I’ve already done it!  Hopefully when I get there next time the money will be able to sit there for at least a few months…

 

Happy Birthday Mowgli!

Today is a special day…my best friend turned one!  I am proud to announce I have reached a new level of being a “crazy dog mom” as I went all out to make sure that Mowgli had an amazing birthday.  Let’s be honest, he has no idea what any of this means…but he did enjoy the attention and the endless treats!

He started his day off with his breakfast being topped with whipped cream, enjoyed a full day at doggy daycare with his friends, and ended the day with a birthday party thrown by yours truly.

The amazing workers at his daycare spoiled him SO much today.  They did a birthday photoshoot with him (in which he apparently peed on them in excitement), gave him a goodie bag stuffed with treats and toys, AND they gave him coupons for free daycare and a free bath!

He was crazy tired when I picked him up from daycare but I stopped at Woof Gang Bakery on the way home and found some adorable mini “Happy Birthday” cakes.  Mowgli LOVED the cakes and was also surprised by his birthday present: a box from Chewy that came with his “It’s My Birthday” bandana, two toys, two bags of treats, and a chew (all birthday themed of course!).

We had a great day celebrating him and it is SO hard for me to believe that I already have a one year old.  He has been such a blessing in my life and he continues to be my snuggle buddy, exercise partner, and #1 fan!

Throwing a birthday party for your dog may be a little nuts, but he deserves it…he has to deal with me every day! 🙂

 

 

Touring the Riviera

Working for Disney comes with perks and today it was being able to explore the new Riviera Resort.  In Disney terms, I attended an “Open Mouse”.   I was not expecting much from the Riviera but was completely blown away.  The resort is elegant yet inviting and there are so many Disney touches and tributes to Walt.  It is already my new favorite Epcot-area resort.

The Riviera is a Disney Vacation Club resort, but fear not, you can stay here even if you are not a DVC member!  We got to tour all of the room types the Riviera offers including the Studio, Deluxe Studio, 1 Bedroom Villa, 2 Bedroom Villa, and 3 Bedroom Grand Villa.  The rooms are all beautifully designed with white marble and blue and gold accents.  The artwork throughout the resort was my favorite!

If you are fortunate enough to get a room with a preferred view, you can watch the Skyliner from your room! My only dislike was that the Studio room was really small and felt like a room on a cruise ship with a Murphy pull-down bed.  On the flip side, the 3 Bedroom Grand Villa shown below was so beautiful (and over 2,500 square feet) that I was ready to pack up my apartment and move right in!

There are plenty of options here for foodies!  From the upscale Primo Piatto quick service restaurant to Topolino’s Terrace on the roof – you really can’t go wrong.

Primo Piatto features quick service options like Salads, Pizza, Pasta, and Hot and Cold Sandwiches.  My favorite part of the dining area was the back wall which displays many pictures of Walt. The Bar Riva Pool Bar is just outside and offers more food and drink items there too! I was extremely excited to see that Il Gelato (the gelato shop at Disney Springs) is going to have a pop-up location at the pool!  Gelato at the pool?! I think YES!

For those of us that want a coffee in the morning or cocktail in the evening, there is also an adorable coffee/cocktail shop Le Petit Cafe located in the lobby.   My favorite room on the property was just through the cafe called Voyageurs’ Lounge.  Maybe I love it because it looks like a cozy library, but there are also many Walt artifacts on display from his many trips to the Riviera that make it so special.

The view from the top of Topolino’s Terrace is quite breathtaking and will be the perfect place to view the Epcot firework show.  This restaurant will feature Character Dining with Mickey & Friends for breakfast and a table service restaurant for dinner with fresh pasta and wine. It reminded me a lot of California Grill which is one of my favorite places on property, so of course I am already dying to try it!

Besides delicious food options, Riviera also features other amenities like a pool with a waterslide, fitness center, event room, outdoor campfire with “elevated” s’mores (shortbread, chocolate ganache, and homemade marshmallow), and other things like…wait for it…MOSAICS!  These mosaics feature over 500,000 hand-cut tiles.  I tried to take some pictures, but they just don’t do them justice…you need to go check them out in person! The last amenity to mention is that Riviera also hosts one of the few Disney Skyliner hubs which makes this resort a great choice as you can easily hop on to visit Epcot or Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Imagineering did an incredible job giving this resort a European touch.  Along with the Walt memorabilia and gorgeous art work, a Cast Member told us that there will be familiar Disney songs playing at the resort but in both French and Italian languages!  I hope you all enjoy this resort as much as I did today – and if anyone is renting out the 3 Bedroom Grand Villa – please invite me 🙂

Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson

Image result for steve jobs walter isaacson pictureAfter reading about Steve Jobs in Ed Catmull’s, Creativity Inc. and Bob Iger’s, The Ride of a Lifetime, I knew this was a man that I wanted to learn more about. I won’t lie…I was intrigued by this biography but didn’t think I would be able to finish it.  Since Jobs was the face of the Apple empire, I figured this book would be full of technological terms I didn’t understand and I would get bored.  I was also worried that this book would just be a detailed list of accomplishments that I wouldn’t be able to relate to.

I was wrong.  This is the best biography I have ever read.  Isaacson writes beautifully and Jobs has an incredibly interesting life story and happens to be quite the character.  I knew Jobs was a smart businessman who was known to be an asshole, but he is truly one of the most influential people of our time.  Maybe it is too soon to say, but I have no doubt in believing that in the future, he will be talked about as the Einstein of our generation.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about the history of Apple or just learn about a man who had a vision to change the world.  I guarantee you will learn something new and if you’re as emotional as I am, you’ll be sobbing by the end of the book too.

My Book Notes

  • Apple is a cross between liberal arts and technology
  • It is crucial to innovation to have designers work with engineers instead of having separate development departments
  • Setting up an office space that encourages collaboration promotes innovation
  • Jobs was extremely hard on his workers but he was also able to use his “reality distortion” to make people do things that they thought were impossible
  • Get rid of the “B Players” and build a team that is all “A Players”, “A Players” work best with other “A Players”
  • Be honest and always strive for perfection
  • Passion is something to invest in, it is also something that people follow
  • Doing the impossible is often possible
  • Having a closed system allows you to completely control the customer experience from the product to the store they buy it in
  • Making money shouldn’t be the motivation, making a great product should be the motivation
  • Simplicity is key
  • Market research is worthless..if you are doing it right you are giving the consumer the product they didn’t even know they needed
  • Jobs had a middle-class upbringing and was able to create the largest technology empire with no particular talent or advantage other than he was passionate, driven, had a vision to change the world, didn’t accept anything less than perfect, and didn’t listen to the word “no”
  • What a product looks like on the inside is just as important as the outside; people judge a product by the cover – how you package your product is all part of the customer experience
  • Curiosity is the best way to learn
  • You can design a great product, but if you don’t know how to operationally execute and market the product, it is essentially worthless
  • “The people who think they are crazy enough to change the world are the ones who do”

View This Book on Goodreads

 

Face Moisterizer

Holy Grail Facial Moisturizer: Drunk Elephant – Lala Retro Whipped Cream

Our skin is so important and I believe that if you are going to spend more money on any beauty product, it should be on skincare.  At the end of the day you can wash off a layer of cheap foundation, but the products that are directly touching your skin all day long should be of high quality.

A front view of Lala Retro Whipped Cream moisturizer with Ceramides without the cap and showing product on the jar top.

I found the brand Drunk Elephant after doing a lot of research.  I wanted a brand that I could trust with my skin, and something that wasn’t ridiculously priced.  Celebrities rave about their La Mer facial creams, but my bank account would not be forgiving if I were to spend $300+ on a jar of moisturizer.

I gave the Lala Retro Whipped Cream a try right away after reading many positive reviews and learning more about how the product is made. I have now been using the product every day for over two years and it has officially made my “Holy Grail” list. This moisturizer is great for daily use and especially wonderful for sensitive skin as it does not contain any essential oils, fragrance, or silicones.  It is also vegan and cruelty-free.

It is priced at $60, which may seem pricier than something from the drugstore, but believe me when I say I wouldn’t have re-purchased this multiple times if it wasn’t worth it.  It is nourishing and creamy without being heavy or greasy.  My skin has never felt softer and healthier and my skin just drinks this stuff right up!  Many other moisturizers I have tried have caused skin irritation or made me look like a total grease ball, but I have never had that problem with the Lala Retro Whipped Cream.

Although it may seem more expensive, it is a quality product and in my mind well worth the money.  My last container was ordered a little over seven months ago and it is still going!  I’d say that is a great value considering I use it every single day.  You only need a little bit of this stuff to have it work its wonders, so one container will last you a LONG time.

I typically purchase this product from Sephora because I have their rewards program (yay for samples), but you can also purchase from the Drunk Elephant website directly or Amazon. If you want to give it a “trial run” before you commit to the regular size, Drunk Elephant also sells mini versions of their products in bundles so you can sample many of their products at once!

If you are looking for an amazing face moisturizer that makes your face feel softer than a baby’s butt – I highly recommend checking out the Lala Retro Whipped Cream.