Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Sade Baron Jasmine Daily Moisturizing Cream

Thanks to VeganCuts, and their amazing Black Friday sales, I received this Jasmine Body Cream from Sade Baron. I wasn't specifically looking for a body cream, but was still happy to get one in the box, as I love trying out new creams and lotions. I'm so glad that I did, because I've really, really, enjoyed this cream! During this interesting winter season here in Southern California, my skin is definitely in need of moisture... let's not even talk about my legs and feet. Okay?

Made in Toronto, Canada, all of the Sade Baron products are crafted with natural ingredients, they're free of parabens, synthetic fragrances, dyes, and are vegan, soy, and cruelty free. Not only that, but this cream is made with coconut and apricot kennel oils to help soften and bring moisture to the skin. Naturally scented with rose flower and jasmine extracts, this cream is an experience!

From Sade Baon: This body cream has a delicious jasmine, rose and pomegranate scent that’s both light and sweet. Its infusion of vitamin E essential oil can help diminish fine lines and stretch marks by promoting cell regeneration.

Ingredients: Aqua Water, Pronus Armeniaca (Apricot Kennel Oil), Emulsifying Wax, Stearic Acid, Camellia Oleifera (Camellia Oil), Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil (Virgin Coconut Oil), Lecithin, Xanthan Gum, Geogard, Jasminum Officinale (Jasmine) Extract, Rosa Centifolia Flower Extract, Punica Granatum (Pomegranate) Seed Oil.

Since this cream is small-crafted in a 2oz container, I noticed I went through it pretty fast. However, the product doesn't require a lot to spread evenly over my body, so that is nice. Other than the smaller size of the product, I overall think this is an amazing body cream! My skin is always moisturized and soft after I've used it. I tend to use this after I shower, at night, so in the morning my body feels incredibly soft. The cream itself is not too thick, and definitely not too thin, it melts into the skin upon application (thanks to the oils in it), but doesn't leave behind a greasy feel. I WILL repurchase this product, and am totally down for checking out other Sade Baron products!

Friday, January 5, 2018

What I'm Reading #7: "The Cruel Prince" by Holly Black

Earlier in December, I actually won a Twitter giveaway for an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of The Cruel Prince by Holly Black! Even though it came to me a couple of weeks ago, I didn't have the time to begin reading it until New Year's Day. I know it may seem that I don't read YA (Young Adult) novels anymore, since I'm studying English and Literature at ASU, but I do! I think I will always love YA novels, since they're just as exciting and emotional as some of the Classics I love. YA novels are some of the novels that kicked off my love and fascination with reading, and a big reason why I'm now studying novels in college. So, even though I may not read this genre as much as I used to, they will always have a special place in my heart.

From the first page of The Cruel Prince, I was intrigued. I hadn't read a faerie, or a good faerie, book since the Wings series by Aprilynne Pike. Although I was slightly apprehensive going into this novel, I am happy with how much I enjoyed the story! It's everything the publisher has been touting it: dark, dangerous, full of deception and royal backstabbing. Oh, and a little something called tension. I can also add in that The Cruel Prince has some twists-and-turns I was not expecting at all. When they happened I was one) shocked and two) extremely curious about where the plot was heading. Pretty much HOLY SMOKES HOLY SMOKES HOLY SMOKES kind of reactions!

Set in a faerie land, mortal Jude is raised to be more faerie than human, yet she finds herself unable to fit in with her peers. As an outcast, she is left to make decisions that could either be good for her or detrimental. At the end, I'm still not sure which fate Jude will receive. The circumstances and reasons why Jude is even in Faerie are jaw-dropping. I was shocked when I read it, and I bet you will be too. Throw in some teenage angst, potential love interest, a brooding and possibly "cruel" prince, and a lot of spy and heart-stopping moments--- The Cruel Prince is the beginning of a hopefully great series!

For more information on the novel, see HERE.
P.s. I think I may need a finished/published copy because the cover is really, really pretty!

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Why I'm Not Setting Goalless Resolutions or Intentions

When I was younger, I always planned out New Year's Resolutions because everyone else was talking about them. Did I really understand what New Year's Resolutions were/are? Yes. However, that didn't stop me from breaking all of them, and then feeling disappointed about that later on. I know there are a lot of people out there that set them, and goals and intentions, whatever you call them, and actually stick with them. If you do, then that's great! For me, I prefer to steer clear of them in order to save myself from the inevitable failure to live up to any of them. I know this is sounding like I hate goals and ambitions, but I mostly hate (or strongly dislike) the pressure I place on myself to live up to the goals I have set. Realistically, most of the goals are unattainable.

Lose weight.
Eat better.
Be a better person.
Win the lottery.
Read more books.
Spend less money.
Save for a fun trip.

These are just some goals I have either set, or ones I see people set the most. None of them are bad, because most of them are actually good and even beneficial for our lives. Take losing weight and eating better. Depending on why we are wanting to lose weight, this is a good thing to do. Where we, or I, tend to go awry is when I tell myself I'm going to lose x-amount of weight, and then never do. Same goes with reading more books, and even spending less money. As much as I would love to save money, sometimes life has a way of sticking its fingers in our wallets and disrupting that plan. I'm sure you know exactly what I'm talking about!

Early January, three years ago, I started feeling like I needed to clear my schedule. Why? I didn't know until a few months later. I did listen to that feeling, and soon enough I started feeling like I needed to go back to school and finish my degree. What I didn't know at the beginning of that year was that God was preparing me to have the flexible schedule it would take to enter the program I'm currently enrolled in. Since then, I've decided to stop setting goalless resolutions and intentions, and instead be mindful to hear from God on what I need to focus on.

When I begin to feel overwhelmed with where to place my focus, I just pause and ask: "What am I to do? What can I remove from my plate? What is hindering me from moving forward?" Taking a breath really helps realign my original focus. I know this is seemingly veering from New Year's goals and resolutions, but not to me. Since I don't want to place unnecessary pressure on myself to reach and fulfill unattainable expectations, I instead prioritize where God is leading me. I find that every year, when I eliminate false hopes and unrealistic intentions, I wind up accomplishing so much more! At the end of the year, I can see that I've learned new things and have been able to get things done that I didn't have to add to a massive to-do list. For me, this works so much better!

How do you begin each year? Do you make resolutions?

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Wrapping Up Christmas Season and Discovering 'The Crown'

I hadn't planned to write any last-minute Christmas related posts because I got way too busy. When school ended earlier this month, I had big ideas about posts I wanted to do. As you can see, nothing came from those ideas. Sorry! I was not only exhausted from a tough three months of school, but the entire month has been booked solid with errands, dinner parties, and family events. So, nothing really happened here in blog-land this month... however, since tomorrow is the last day of December, and 2017, and I was inspired by a post Angela Lanter shared, so I thought I would wrap up the holiday season before the New Year is upon us.

This year has been really busy, but also not the worst year I've ever lived (haha). Since I've been in school again, the holiday seasons seem to fly by before I can really enjoy them. By the time I'm out for Christmas break, I'm both tired and busy. I try to watch as many movies as possible. I think I've alone kept both Netflix and Hallmark in business this year with how many movies I've seen. Unfortunately, I didn't read any of the Christmas stories I wanted to this year, but I did sing my heart out with Christmas music! Between Pandora, Spotify, the radio, and music channels on my television, I have heard all of my favorites several times. I LOVE Christmas music! Also, if you read yesterday's post, you know I baked a Peppermint Chocolate Cheesecake! It was my first time making a cheesecake. A major plus was that we spaced out the Christmas baking this year, which is better than having to rush on Christmas eve.

The last several years we've had cookie parties at our house with all of the kids and family. This year, we implemented a prize-winning challenge: turn a gingerbread man cookie into a reindeer. It was a lot of fun watching everyone's creations! I thought I could be a judge, but I hated judging since I thought everyone should win. Now I know why my mom never wants to choose favorites.

Here, you're a winner, you're a winner, and you're a winner.

Okay, I have to talk about THE CROWN!!! I know I'm late to the party, whatever, but I'm currently on Season One, Episode Eight, and it's seriously getting better by the episode. I've heard people say Season Two is even better, and now I'm starting to believe it, and also getting incredibly excited. In January, I got obsessed-level into Victoria, so it's only a natural progression to get hooked on another show about British Royalty, right? The Crown is absolutely fascinating. I'm learning so many things about Queen Elizabeth that I never knew. For some reason, maybe because of Princess Diana, I grew up not really caring for or liking Queen Elizabeth that much. When I heard about The Crown, I wasn't that interested, if I'm being totally honest. But, I caved because Netflix ALWAYS recommends I watch it. I am so, so, glad I gave it a try. I can't help but sympathize with everything the Queen had to go through when she took the crown. It's both entertaining and historically interesting. I'm also wondering if it's more interesting because Queen Elizabeth is still alive. Seeing her when she was younger, and not the grandmotherly woman I've always pictured her as, has humanized her more-so in my eyes. I now see the young woman that was given an impossible task.

Queen Elizabeth was tasked with royal obligations and to be a symbol for her country, yet still a young woman with a family. Seeing how her royal duties strained her marriage and her relationship with her sister, has definitely made me respect her more than I ever have. I love watching her character grow with each episode. Claire Foy is brilliant in her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth!

Now I'm going to sign off so I can get back to watching the show. P.s. click HERE to watch the opening credits. I love the music composed by Hans Zimmer.

Hope your Christmas Season was blessed!

Friday, December 29, 2017

Recipe: Peppermint Chocolate Cheesecake

When my niece joked that I "usually" bring a peppermint cheesecake for Christmas, it confused most of us. I've never brought a cheesecake before, and in fact--- I've never made a cheesecake before in my life. She actually went around the room saying each family member made and/or brought things we've never done before. After we got a chuckle (or two) from her silliness, I thought about actually making a cheesecake to surprise her. Since it's the holidays, I might as well go big or go home, right? My thinking was if I could find an easy enough recipe, I could surprise my niece with the cake she joked about me bringing. Not too surprisingly, I immediately found a recipe on Pinterest that caught my attention. It's from the blog Dinners, Dishes, and deserts, and I'm thinking this Peppermint Chocolate Cheesecake has possibly become a new go-to recipe!

I didn't alter anything in the recipe since this was my first time making a cheesecake. The exact recipe as is written at Dinner, Dishes, and deserts is below! I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Peppermint Chocolate Cheesecake RECIPE
Prep Time - 15 mins Cook Time - 1 hr 10 mins Total Time - 1 hr 25 mins Servings: 10

  • 1 package Oreo
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 4 (8oz) packages cream cheese
  • 1 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 Tbls cocoa powder
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 tsp peppermint extract
  • 10 oz chocolate, melted (semi-sweet or unsweetened)
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup Andes peppermint baking bits
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place Oreo's in a blender or food process, pulse until fine crumbs. Mix with melted butter.
  3. Press into 9 inch spring form pan. Bake for 8 minutes. Remove from oven.
  4. In a mixer cream together cream cheese, powdered sugar and cocoa powder until well blended. Mix in 1 egg and a time. Blend in peppermint extract and melted chocolate. Mixture will be thick.
  5. Pour into baked Oreo Crust. Bake for 60-70 minutes until it starts to pull away from the sides and is cooked through.
  6. Let cool completely. Run a knife around the edges to remove the sides of the pan.
  7. Melt heavy cream and chocolate chips together, stirring until smooth. Pour over cheesecake. Sprinkle with peppermint baking bits.
  8. Set in fridge for 4-6 hours until chocolate is set and the cheesecake is cool.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Native Deodorant (ALUMINUM-FREE / Coconut & Vanilla)

Ever since I started switching my products to natural, organic, and green, I've been on the hunt for a deodorant that not only has a nice scent, but one that performs just as well as conventional ones. For years, I used Secret and Dove because I loved the "Powder Fresh" scent. I didn't take this switch seriously until I found out that neither one of these brands is cruelty free. I hated using what I still had in my bathroom, so it motivated me to fully begin my search for a new/better deodorant. First, the most obvious change must be aluminum-free. It doesn't matter what the other ingredients are, since one of the main reasons for switching deodorants is to get away from aluminum and its potential to be harmful. I tried one brand, about three years ago, but the deodorant stank so bad I chucked it. I went right back to Secret and Dove because there was no way I was going to smell straight-up like a weird plant growing in my yard. Sorry. No thanks.

About two months ago I happened upon Native Deodorant. I can't recall if I saw this brand in a video, read about it in a blog post, or somehow just ran into it one day while looking around. Either way, I liked (still do) that the deodorant resembles conventional ones. It's stick-form, wind-up, and not as messy as some natural deodorants can be. To buy one by itself it's $12, which is not nearly as pricey as A LOT of natural deodorants are! What I REALLY love though is that you can save 17% if you sign up for their subscription service. So, it looks like this:

Without Subscription: TOTAL: $12 + tax ($1.05) = 13.05 with free shipping (US only).
With Subscription: TOTAL: $10 + tax ($0.88) = 10.88 with free shipping (US only).
  • Because this is a subscription service you will be charged either every month, every two months, every three months, or every four months. (You choose the frequency)
  • The subscription service will always cost $10.88.
  • * You can cancel your subscription at any time! 
  • ** You can also change the scent of the deodorant.
I chose the Coconut & Vanilla scent since I love both of those, and wanted my first experience with this brand to hopefully be something I enjoyed. Thankfully, the scent is absolutely delicious! I almost wish I could wear it as a perfume, but then that would be a little odd. Oh well! This deodorant seems to perform the same as conventional brands. It rolls on easily, nothing has to be heated in order to rub under my arms. It lasts ALL DAY LONG, even to the point where I have to clean it off when I shower at night. Plus, I haven't noticed it staining/smearing my shirts.

Caprylic/capric triglyceride (fractionated coconut oil), arrowroot powder, stearyl alcohol, baking soda, shea butter, coconut oil, hydrogenated castor oil, polyglycerol-3 beeswax (cera bellina wax), jojoba esters, tocopherol (Vitamin E), L. acidophilus (natural bacteria found in your body already), maltodextrin, glyceryl caprylate, glyceryl undecylenate.

This deodorant is made with baking soda, for those that have sensitivities. Also, it contains beeswax so this is not vegan.

Our scented deodorants include a proprietary blend of oils. Due to FDA recommendations, we use the term “fragrance” to refer to these oils.

Native is cruelty free, paraben free, aluminum free, non toxic, and uses ingredients derived from plants and natural sources. Overall, I am incredibly impressed with this brand, and the scented deodorant that I have. I cannot wait until I receive my next order!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

What I'm Reading #6: "The Fault in Our Stars" by John Green

Is reading John Green's The Fault in Our Stars any less painful three years after first reading it? Answer: Absolutely not. So, I first read TFiOS in 2014, before the movie was released. Honestly, I never actually read the ending of the novel because I knew how it ended, and I couldn't bring myself to mentally and physically go there. The movie tore me up when Augustus Waters.... umm. I'll just leave my sentence hanging there like Peter Van Houten did in An Imperial Affliction. If you've read the novel, or seen the movie, you'll know what I just did. Hey, I'm trying to not spoil things, and also maybe trying to be clever.

Yeah. I know. Not quite pulling it off *insert a shrug emoji here*

For my very last Literature course to fulfill my Major (English) I was asked to read TFiOS in order to break down Green's ability to connect with adolescent developmental psychology. Basically, does John Green accomplish writing fiction and characters that speak to adolescent readers, and their own psychological development. Since I don't want to turn this into a rephrasing of my final, I'll just quickly say that I was required to revisit this novel, and I was not very happy about that.

When I first read this novel, I did so hesitantly because a lot people were divided when it came to Green's novels. Does he use a vocabulary that is too advanced for YA (Young Adult) readers? Since there was so much division, I put off reading any of Green's works until TFiOS (the movie) was about to be released. I love reading adapted novels first, so I convinced myself to read this one. Now, the first time I think I cried too much to think clearly but I did understand why some people don't like Green's style of writing. It is mature and sometimes unbelievable. Sorry. It is!

Do you know any teenagers that use professor-level vocabularies? Speak about politics in ways that aren't influenced by peers? I know I wasn't speaking that way when I was a teenager! However, what Green does present are ideas and situations that a lot of teens (adolescents) find themselves in. Green's ability to take thoughts, fears, hopes, desires, love, hate, romance, and familial ups-and-downs and showcase them in familiar ways is what I think draws readers to him. Not only does he connect with them where they may be emotionally, Green doesn't judge them. By using a more mature way of storytelling, it allows the readers to feel like they can take control of their own lives, and that their thoughts have value and importance in real life. The last thing anyone wants, especially teens, is to be talked down to. Right?

While reading through TFiOS with my Literature Cap on, I could see how Hazel needed to find out what would happen to her mom and dad when she died, because she didn't want their lives to have been so consumed with her and her cancer that they would be empty without her. It seems like a mature thing to do, and maybe most teens don't have those thoughts, but Hazel's situation was completely different. She knew her life would be short, and it pained her to think about what the next phase was for her parents. Hazel was guilty that her parents put so much of themselves into her care, she thought they had lost themselves. It's completely selfless of Hazel to want her parents to have something outside of her. Throughout the novel, I could feel her anxiety rise as the answer she sought was not answered. Augustus, on the other hand, needed to know that his life meant something. At seventeen, he knew he would die young and that he wouldn't be able to accomplish a lifetime full of remarkable things. However, Hazel was there to show him that even if he didn't become an astronaut (me speaking hypothetically here), write the next great novel, etc., the short time she had with him mattered. Sometimes, it's the simple things that have the biggest impact. When Augustus sat with Issac, let him cry, and egged Monica's house with him, he had an impact. It was his kindness, his humor, his smile, and his love for his friends that counted. Augustus feared that he would only be remembered for his cancer, but in the end, he was most remembered for the love that poured from him.

Even though Hazel and Augustus were given shorter lifespans, it didn't diminish their marks on the people around them. This, to me, is what stood out the most. I can argue reasons why John Green will probably never be one of my favorite authors, and some of the arguments will be the maturity with which Green uses for his younger characters, but... I can't deny the affect this novel had on me. It's life and death, romance, love, and the fears everyone has at some points in their lives.

So, this novel is incredibly sad and left me feeling overwhelmed with emotions, but, it's also thought-provoking. Everyone wants to matter in life. With that said, I don't think I can go in for a third helping of The Fault in Our Stars. It hurts, and that's okay.