Thursday, March 1, 2018

What I'm Loving Lately

So, my life isn't all gloom, doom and a sludgy feelings casserole, and since my last few posts have been kind of a one way ticket to Bummerville, I wanted to share some things lately that make me happy and are generally positive from a healthwise standpoint.  Just as a disclaimer, all of the sites/products I'm about to share are of my own free will, I wasn't paid to write about them!

K-Beauty/Asian Beauty Products

I actually started getting into this back in November when I was really hyper focused on self care, but I finally decided to stop hiding behind the "I'm so cool and not girly that I don't need skincare" facade and just admit that I'm a liar.  I love skincare and beauty stuff.  Totally love it.  I don't care if it makes me seem vain, it's my little thing that I do every day that makes me feel good.  I do a majority of my fussing at night when we're watching TV, and I love every second of it!

I got into Asian Beauty specifically starting around December, and I'm officially hooked, never to return.  Most of the products I use are Korean, but I have a few Japanese products thrown in too, and I can honestly say that the hype is justified!  I wish I'd taken before and current pictures to show you the difference, but my skin has a night and day difference from before.  A lot of my smaller lines are just about gone, my skin doesn't look dull, I don't get hormonal acne anymore and my rosacea is so much calmer.  Last year I did a challenge in April to go a whole month without makeup, which honestly was stressful to me because I am so self conscious about the redness in my face.  There is a picture of how my face typically looks in this post.  This is what my skin looks like today (sorry for the crappy bathroom lighting):

The picture doesn't do it justice.  There are some days I get up and my red patches are down to nothing, but most days that's about as red as my face gets.  It's a huge improvement!  On the weekends I think nothing of going without makeup, and when I do wear makeup, it's just literally a pea sized amount of BB cream just to even out my skin tone.  I don't even wear powder anymore.  The BB cream I use is also an Asian one and is miles above any Western product I've ever tried.  To be honest though, I'm less interested in makeup and am happy at being able to get away with less of it!

So what's the deal?  Basically Asian skincare is the polar opposite of Western skincare, and it hyper focuses on moisturizing the face as opposed to stripping it and harshly exfoliating it.  This has been pretty life changing for me since I have combination skin that leans really dry, especially on my cheeks and around my mouth.  My skin constantly felt tight and miserable.  Even if you have oily and acne prone skin, moisture is the key to healing it, not harsh astringent products. That's really all there is to it, combined with the fact that Asian products tend to have much more advanced technology in their products.  I could write a whole post on it alone, but if you'd like to read a lot more in depth, The Klog and the Asian Beauty subreddit are way more informative than I could ever be!

If you are into beauty, you may have read at lot about the "Korean 10 Step Method" that takes an hour or more to do, and honestly that's all a bit overblown.  (Nothing wrong if you like spending that much time on it though!) I probably use more like 5-6 products once I found what worked for me, and my morning routine takes maybe 15 minutes, while my night one takes up 20 to 35 depending on if I'm doing a sheet mask or not.  (I am obsessed with my sheet masks, I do one almost every night and they make my face feel super moisturized and look a lot brighter!)

The thing that has made the most difference for me and are my holy grail items are my toners and snail mucin, which is exactly what you think it is.  Asian toners are very different than Western ones, and are bouncy and a little more thick than what you think of as a traditional toner.  The Klairs toner there on the left, and the Hada Lobo there on the right have been life changing for me.  I do the "7 Skin Method" with the two of them every single day, and my skin absolutely loves it.  The middle product is the Cosrx Advanced 96 Snail Mucin, and yes, it's snail slime.  Before you recoil, think about it logically...snails constantly get micro-tears on their delicate skin by nature of crawling around, which is why they create mucin in order to protect and heal themselves.  It does the same exact thing for human skin, and is wonderful for healing and treating acne, as well as reducing redness.  I was very skeptical and grossed out at first too, but now I can't live without it!  It's made HUGE difference in the redness in my face and instantly calms my skin down when it feels irritated.

Anyway, it's all been nice because it's a little selfish thing I can do every night that makes me feel better about myself!  As with most skincare, there's a wide range of prices, but everything I've gotten has been between $20 and $10!

Imperfect Produce

A coworker tipped me off to this company back in the fall and raved about it so much that I had to see what the fuss was over.  It's a genius idea on every level, the company takes fruit and vegetables that are too "ugly" for the store, and boxes it up and sells it at 30% - 50% less than store prices.  Each week you get an email where you choose what you want in your box, and they deliver it right to your door in the evenings.  You never even talk to a person, they just send you a text 5 minutes before they deliver, then right after they deliver so you know it's there.

I absolutely love it.  Among the many things my curmudgeonly ass hates, I hate food waste, I hate skyrocketing food costs, and I hate grocery shopping so this really kind of solves all of those issues!  This has been super awesome for us on every level, and has really helped with meal planning.  We got a delivery last night, so I took a picture for you guys so you can see the types of things they offer:

I have to say, I've been getting the boxes since November and have yet to get anything "ugly".  Honestly, the produce looks better than most of the stuff you'd get in a store, even better in some ways because it hasn't been pawed all over 100 times.  This week was oranges, grapefruit, scallions, asparagus, fennel, broccoli, celery, carrots, potatoes and romanesco cauliflower.  Oh and coffee!  The last few weeks they've been offering the most amazing coffee beans, and I'm hooked!  We get a medium sized box, but you can add or subtract as many items as you want.  A medium box typically will run you about $15 to $18, which is really a steal when you see that amount of food I got above.  You can also easily skip weeks, and the delivery plans are pretty flexible.  You can go all organic or all conventional, you can get all fruit, all vegetables or a mix.  There's a lot of options!

Sadly they don't deliver nationwide, and are currently only available in the following areas:  Bay Area in California; Los Angeles, CA; Orange County, CA; Portland, OR Metro Area; Seattle, WA Metro Area (includes Tacoma); and Chicago, IL Metro Area.  If you happen to live in any of those areas and would like to sign up for a box and try it out, I do have a referral code.  Full disclosure, it would give me a $10 credit, but you would get a $10 credit as well!

As always I am likely late to the party on discovering, but I am totally hooked!  If you've ever felt that you had to choose between meals being affordable or healthy, those days are over, because this site manages to have recipes that are both!  I discovered it when a coworker (the same one who recommended Imperfect Produce) started sending me links to recipes she'd made and I was very intrigued, so I chose a couple of recipes to make.  I was immediately in love!  The recipes are all simple, wholesome, CHEAP and really rely on pantry staples.  In fact, I can usually go into my pantry even when it's low and still be able to make many of the recipes on Budget Bytes.  It's worked out really well paired with my Imperfect Produce deliveries, because I can just base what I'm making the next week on what I get from that week's box.  With very few exceptions, these are all readily available ingredients that anyone would have access to.  I love Cooking Light magazine to death, but I really feel they've kind of gotten snooty with some of their recipes.  I'm lucky enough to live in an area that's super food obsessed and also has a lot of amazing ethnic shops (I literally have a Halal grocery store, a Hispanic grocery store, and TWO Asian grocery stores within walking distance of my house), but a lot of the country doesn't have that.  I'm a supporter of cooking being simple and approachable, which these recipes definitely are.  I like that Budget Bytes focuses more on typical ingredients that anyone could find and will use multiple times.

I also like that there is a nice balance of meat dishes with vegan and vegetarian recipes, since I like to incorporate all 3 into my lifestyle.  For the most part, these meals would fit nicely into a clean eating plan since they contain grains, vegetables, fruit and lean meats.

The site has honestly been a godsend during this weird thing I've been going through.  Not only is it getting me out of a food rut and me making the same meals all the time (a lot of my problem I think is burnout/routine), but the recipes are so simple and basic that it's made it very easy for me to make something even when I feel very overwhelmed or in a depressive state.  As someone who loves to cook, even when I'm feeling super low I always feel a little better about life and more accomplished when I make a home cooked meal as opposed to ordering takeout.  It's sometimes those little victories when you can say, "at least I made a nice dinner for the family" that help you get through the day!  I feel like the slow cooker meals especially are very easy to throw together and make a ton of leftovers that are easy to freeze just so I have stockpile of lunches and dinners waiting in the freezer for us when I'm really feeling yucky!

Cutting The Cord

We finally did it.  We got rid of cable, and we honestly couldn't be happier.  A lot of our "what can we change about next year" chats involved reducing stresses/things we don't use, and we realized that we simply really didn't utilize cable very much.  We were spending a lot of time watching things on Netflix, or just reruns of Family Guy, which again you could just get on Netflix.  We cut the cord back in January and haven't looked back!  We have Netflix, Amazon Prime, a Firestick and a digital antenna, and we really haven't missed dropping cable at all.  I think we were both surprised at how little it affected us, but it's definitely saved a chunk of money


This kind of ties in with the K-Beauty stuff, but when I was looking for product reviews I stumbled across this really cute Youtube channel from Emily.  She does reviews of K-Beauty products, but also has a lot of fashion and makeup videos that are a lot of fun.  She's definitely been inspiring me to refresh my wardrobe a bit (when it stops raining every damn day and being 40 degrees, my God)!  If you are into fashion and beauty stuff, check her out! 

Anyway, if you guys have any questions about the stuff I mentioned, fire away!