Travel Tuesday: a glimpse of our Vegas trip

October 16
No comments yet
*

If you follow on Instagram you probably saw that we just got back from a few days in Las Vegas. We were in town for a friends’ wedding, but took time to enjoy both the downtown/ strip area as well as the outdoors. I’ll be sharing more about the trip in the future but here are a few highlights.img_2319

By far, my favorite stop on the trip was Red Rock Canyon. We were able to explore the desert and this amazing canyon.

img_6719

The Hoover Dam was pretty cool as well. This was a little further away from the city but worth the drive. Also, you get to call everything “dam” while you are there.

img_6720

Did I mention there are  like caves? Dam caves!

img_2436

We grabbed donuts from Donut Bar and mine was bigger than my hand.

img_2370

In-N-Out burger was of course on the list. We opted for a location off the strip which was not as crazy as the strip location.

img_6734

Although we stayed off the strip (more on that later.) We did take the time to drive the strip and visit some of the hotels and casinos.

Next week I will be sharing more about our trip including why we stayed off-strip and how that helped us save money.

 

RELATED POSTS

Friday Faves: Ninja Coffee Bar

September 21
2 Comments
*

I shared this earlier this week on Instagram, but I finally got a new pod-free coffee maker.  I’ve been trying to cut back on disposable single-use products and my k-cups were on that list. I wanted to replace my Keurig with something that was easy to use, looked nice, and was of a decent quality. My coffee bar is located in the middle of of kitchen and dining room, so it needed to be something that fit with the space. I asked on Instagram and was suggested the Ninja Coffee Bar. This coffee maker is a drip machine, but is designed for easy single serve use just like a Keurig.  Just what I needed!

I love that I can brew directly into my mug, or make a big batch if I have guests. I am the only coffee drinker in my home and I only brew what I am going to drink right now, so I did not need a carafe or warmer plate.

I like to make my morning coffee as I am heading out the door so I usually turn the machine on while I am getting ready so it can heat up. Then, as I am grabbing my things I brew the cup. Although not as fast as the Keurig, I can totally wait like 2 minutes for coffee.  I then just toss the grinds in my kitchen compost, rinse the filter, and go out the door.

This week I’ve been using some whole coffee beans from Lucky’s Market. When I like to use whole bean coffee the the best flavor and just grind it up in my blinkone coffee grinder. This grinder is great for this machine as well as any other coffee maker or press.

I love the brew options. You can select your size as well as brew type. This weekend I am going to try out the specialty brews which are like espresso shots for your favorite beverages.

The machine also comes with a frother for those special drinks. It works great and won’t break like many of the cheap flimsy ones.

Well, I’m off to enjoy this cup of coffee. What’s your favorite coffee drink? I want to know so I can try and make it!

Note: this is not a sponsored post. I purchased this coffee maker myself. Affiliate links are in use which help support the upkeep of this site without costing you anything.

Travel Tuesday- Dollar Tree travel favorites

September 18
No comments yet
*

I generally don’t like buying special travel products, but there are always a few things you need special. I’ve been lucky that I’ve been able to find many of those at the Dollar Tree. Today I’m sharing my favorite Dollar Tree travel finds. Enjoy!

One of my favorite things to grab are these travel bottles. I hate buying travel sized products as they are so expensive for what they are. This three pack of bottles is a steal for $1. I use them for shampoo, conditioner, face wash, and body wash.

We don’t take many medications but I do like to take some ibuprofen and allergy medicine with me when we travel. I bought this pack and just mix the pills together in one little tub. I also keep one of these in my bag all the time and one in my husband’s car so he always has them. These could also be used for small earrings.

I ran across these the other day and I fell in love. I have been working to reduce my disposable products around the house and one of the items I have cut out is face wipes. I didn’t use the wipes often, but I loved them for travel. While in the health and beauty isle I found these face cleansing cloths and they are perfect for home and travel. Use them with a regular face wash or just with some Micellar water for quick and easy cleansing.  I hand wash in the sink after each use and then toss in the wash with towels.

As I mentioned already, I don’t like to buy travel size products. My one exception to this rule is toothpaste. Grab one and an extra toothbrush so you don’t have to worry about remembering yours.

So that’s it. Like I said, I don’t buy a lot of special travel stuff, but these items all work super well for me. Do you have any awesome travel size items or Dollar Tree favorites?

Friday Faves- a natural deodorant that works

September 14
No comments yet
*

Please note: this is not a sponsored post. I just really like this stuff. Also please note, this is a bit of a stinky topic. You’ve been warned.

 

I’ve always been a sweaty person. Like, an armpits kind of sweaty person. Ever since high school I have been self-conscious of my pits, often times wearing extra clothing to cover them just in case.  Totally great for someone living in Florida.

At a young age I started searching high and low for products to help reduce the sweating. Some worked, some didn’t. As I aged I learned how to deal with my perspiration with both products as well as clothing. By my mid-twenties I had been using the same basic products for some time, but always worried that the “maximum strength” anti-perspirants couldn’t be good for my health. Of course, I also felt that it didn’t matter as I needed those products more than I could worry about them, so it continued.

A few weeks ago I learned about something called “vodka deodorant” and tried it out. Have you hear of it? It is just vodka and water in a little spray bottle. For some this works great but sadly for me it did not. They say that when you switch to a natural deodorant your body needs time to adjust, but I gave it time and it just did not work for me and my pits.

I want to take a second here to publicly apologize to my friends, family, coworkers, and that guy in line next to me in the sample line at Costco. I smelled bad, real bad. For a WEEK. I am sorry for all of you who’s little noses I offended. I offended my own nose for crying out loud. I did not even know I was capable of being that smelly.

Anyways, I am sure the vodka deodorant is great for some people, sadly I am not one of them. Defeated, I wondered Costco trying to stay away from strangers. Then, while I was hiding in the pharmacy section, hoping to avoid an old college friend, I ran across Schmidt’s Natural Deodorant. I looked at the cute Costco display, (everything is enticing in that store) but remembered that I was clearly not a natural girl. But, while I was hiding I did a little Google research and it appeared to me that the product might actually work. Knowing that it was Costco and you can return anything there, I decided to give it a whirl. I grabbed the three pack of the Bergamot and Lime scent and cautiously checked  out. I tried it for work the next day. (Brave, I know) and was pleasantly surprised that I was not disgusting at the end of the day.  Figuring it was a fluke, I tried it again and it still worked. I’ve been using this stuff for two weeks now including  traveling through two airports and a wedding. I smell great and have had no issues with wetness. That didn’t even happen with the maximum strength stuff.

So anyways, I am here to tell you that even if you though natural deodorant was not for you, it just might be. Give it a try. I am not going to sit here and bore you with health information, you’ve seen it. The usual stuff is bad. Try out something new. Schmidt’s is working for me, but look around and see what works for you and your body.

Please note: links on this page are affiliate links. If you purchase something from these links I will get a (very) small commission which helps me run this site. 

My new all-time favorite pen

September 4
1 Comment
*

Lets be honest, I usually just grab the pen that is closest to me. I am the worst about keeping a pen near me and I also leave mine wherever I am. Because of this, I usually find myself using whatever random freebie pen that I find. Although they are not perfect, they get the job done. This was all fine and dandy until about a week ago.

img_1573

Last week someone stopped by my workplace and brought sample Pilot Frixion  Erasable pen for the office. Never one to say no to free stuff, I grabbed mine and tried it out. OH MY GOODNESS. This pen/pencil/piece of perfection was a life changer. The darn thing writes like butter, erases like magic, and does not bleed or show through pages. They are so good a coworker and I messaged each other about them and both ended up buying ourselves a pack off Amazon.

So I got the ten pack off Amazon because I wanted several colors. Two days later these babies showed up on my doorstep and the fun started. I am using these in my planner so that when I change my plans I can use erase instead of crossing out my changes. The erasers work so well that you can hardly tell there was anything else there before.

I went ahead and tried out each of the pens and then also erased with them so you can get an idea of how good the are are erasing. I have used “erasable” pens in the past but was never really happy with any of them. These erase pretty darn well.

Here is what the back of the page looks like so you can get an idea of the bleed through which is basically nothing. There is some markings that show through so I will try to not press as hard with the pens.

 

Have you tried these out? What did you think? Also, do you have a favorite pen that you think is BETTER? Let me know here or show me on Instagram.

RELATED POSTS

Travel Tuesday: Packing a budget airline personal item

August 28
No comments yet
*

I am a sucker for a deal. Like, I will go out of my way to save a few bucks no matter what. It is one of my best and worst traits. So of course, I have flown budget airlines. I just can’t resist $30 flights, can you blame me? But of course, that $30 fare does not include a checked bag or even a carry on. They always allow you to add one on, but for starting at $25 each way you know I’m not buying it.

Anyways, I have become a bit of an expert at packing for a long weekend in a free “personal item.” A personal item is defined as a purse, briefcase, or small backpack.  Below are the size rules on three popular budget airlines at of August 27, 2018.

Allegiant
16 x 15 x 7 inches
Frontier
18 x 14 x 8 inches
Spirit
18 x 14 x 8 inches

For the last few years I have been using an old bag that I was given at at work conference as my carry on. It was smaller than the requirements but it got the job done and was something I had around the house. With a few trips in the works I decided it was time to bite the bullet and pick out a bag that would last and be the exact perfect size so I could maximize my packing. I landed on this bag from Madewell. The dimensions are just right so I can stuff the bag and still fit it on Frontier and Spirit flights. I will want to pack a little lighter on Allegiant, but it will still be fine.

img_1371

Below is what I pack for a long weekend in my free personal item. This includes four summer outfits, pajamas, makeup, shampoo, and other personal items. In this trip I brought my large black water bottle to fill up past security, but I could skip that and buy a bottle of water at the gate if I needed the space.

img_1372

Note that I have a smaller purse in my bag. When you carry a personal item as your bag you do not get an additional purse. Because of this I throw one in my bag and pull it out later. This is another item I could skip depending on the trip, or I could find a smaller purse for these uses. I also utilized gallon sized zip bag to hold my clothes. I am starting to do this with the personal item bag to help keep things organized. I usually end up searching for something at the bottom of the bag at the airport and making everything in to a mess. This just makes it a little easier. Also please note I am on the small side so my clothes take up less room.

In this scenario the bag is packed for summer with simple outfits. I would wear jeans to the airport and carry a sweater as I always like to bring one when I travel. I’d also wear my larger shoes. If it was winter I’d fly in jeans and boots, carry my jacket, and pack extra sweaters and maybe jeans if I have to.

img_1373

I like to be as prepared as I can when I travel, but I also like to think of it as a time to practice working with what I have. I only bring the staples for makeup and often skip simple toiletries such as shampoo if I know it will be available where I am staying. I don’t like to spend a bunch of money on travel size stuff, but I do always have travel sized hairspray. That is one item that I have to have. Your list might be different depending on your needs.

Do you use a personal item as your suitcase when you travel? What are your favorite ways to maximize space in it?

Traveling Spirit Airlines? Read about my favorite tips.

RELATED POSTS

Friday Faves- Madewell sale

August 24
No comments yet
*

Happy Friday everyone!

Madewell is having a big sale right now for insiders, so I wanted to take the chance to share a few of my favorites of theirs with you. Madewell items can be a little pricy, but are for sure high quality so its worth it sometimes. They don’t have sales often, and when they do usually jeans and leather goods are excluded so this is a bit of a rare deal.  The items I am sharing are all ones I have myself and enjoy so you have my seal of approval or something. Note: to get the sale pricing you must be a Madewell Insider. This is totally free to join and with it you get free shipping, returns, personalization, and this sale.

img_4419

Lets start with bags. I have been using this Medium Transport bag for about a year now and it is still going strong. The leather is thick but also forgiving and is something I know will last for years to come.

I recently grabbed this canvas transport bag because I’ve been looking for a bag that size for my airplane personal item and this one fits the bill. (More on that next week.) They change out the colors here and there, but I have it in a nice blush pink color that works for all seasons.

I think I have finally found my favorite tank. The Madewell Whisper tank is a new favorite. They are the perfect weight and the V-neck is just right for me. I have one in a pink/purple color and ordered one in gray. I really could just get these in all the colors and call it a day.

I just bought these mules and honestly, I am still on the fence about them. I LOVE them as a shoe, I am still not sure about them for ME as I don’t need another pair of brown shoes. But hey, they are comfortable and adorable.

Lastly, I bought this dress recently and I love it. It is a perfect summer/fall transition piece here in the south and wears wonderfully. Dress it up with a cardigan or down with a denim vest or jacket.

The Madewell jeans I own are no longer for sale on their site, but I do love their jeans. Any tips on the best pair to buy? Leave them in the comments!

RELATED POSTS

ThriveSteer Planner

August 23
No comments yet
*

img_1191

Created by a therapist, the ThriveSteer planner is designed to be a planner and a life coach all in one. This planner has a strong focus on both helping you plan your day as well as helping you create the vision for the life you want to live.

Before the “planner” starts there are several pages of activities to go through. These activities help to sit back and think about what you really want from your life from six core values.

These values are:
Strategy
Congruency
Synergy
Courage
Inspiration
Transformation
To learn more about these areas visit the ThriveSteer website.

img_1194

After you understand the core values, the planner has prompts about many areas of your life. Through these prompts you will learn more about what you are really looking for from life as well as create pursuit statements that will help focus your actions over the next year.

The planner then walks you through the steps to make one goal for the year and helps you plan how to get to it. At the end you will have a chance to review what you’d worked on and you should leave the beginning of the planner with a strong sense of what your real goals are as well as how to get there.

img_1195

The planner portion itself it fairly simple. Monthly pages are tabbed for easy access and weeks are put together in a simple hourly vertical layout. Both have areas where you can mark the core value you want to focus on as well as space for reflection.

img_1196

 

At the end of each month there is a two page Monthly Follow Up  where you can reflect on the previous month. There is also a quarterly and year end review as well. These include prompts that will help you decide where you were successful and how you might need to change your pursuit statements to better meet your needs.

Overall, this is a high quality planner with unique insight that I have never before seen in this format. The paper is strong and I love that it comes with two bookmarks and a band to keep the whole thing together.

 

If you are looking for a planner that focuses on wellness and goals this one might be for you. Find out more at ThriveSteer.com 

Note: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own and I was given a free product for review purposes. 

 

 

RELATED POSTS

Amazon Beauty Favorites

August 22
No comments yet
*

So if you haven’t noticed, I’m addicted to Amazon. Honestly, any time I can order something online and have it delivered to my home is a win. It is not that it is so hard to go buy a new lipstick or whatever, it is just annoying to have to remember to do it, to make the stop, and then to not buy the entire store while I am there. Also, I don’t actually spend much time in normal stores like Target or CVS. I buy my groceries at Aldi and Costco so to go buy a mascara is a special trip.

PG457438-0B88E30D-DB69-4F5D-BD24-4788B2A2BEA3

Anyways, because of this I have been shopping for beauty products on Amazon more and more over the last year. Also, I have been using this as an excuse to try out new drugstore brand products. Hello saving $$!  My newest thing has been to use the Amazon subscribe and save option to subscribe to my favorite holy grail items so I always have them on hand.  The best part? When you subscribe to five items you get 15% off, and the prices are already low to start.

FYI this is not a sponsored post. Yes, a get a small commission if you buy anything from my Amazon links, but I am just sharing because this is awesome. 

So, on to my personal Amazon favorites. These are the items I am subscribed to. I get them every six months and if I don’t want an item one month I skip it.

This NYX concealer is my favorite. It is just as good as a $20-30 product for less than $5.  I have thin pale skin so without a concealer I totally look like I have a black eye.

My favorite moisturizer is a great Amazon staple. Sometimes I cannot find it in the store so knowing I can grab it on Amazon is helpful.

I am always a sucker for a new mascara so having one delivered is great.

This primer is a favorite. Super affordable and just as good as other pricy options.

This eyeliner is less than $4 right now. Cannot be beat. I use a liquid marker style liner on my top lids but I love these for the bottom as you don’t have to sharpen it. I keep one at home and one in my bag for on the go.

Other favorites include this NYX dewey finishing spray, ELF lip exfoliator,

All my Amazon beauty favorites as well as other favorite products are available on my Amazon page. I try to keep this page updated with my favorite things that are on Amazon. Remember, I do get a small commission from purchases, but that does not affect your price.

What are your favorite Amazon beauty staples? Share them in the comments or tag me in a photo on Instagram, I’m @_amberdowns.

amazon beauty favorites

RELATED POSTS

Friday Faves

August 17
No comments yet
*

It has been a few weeks since I posted one of these, but I didn’t have anything awesome to share…so I didn’t. You’re welcome. Today I am just sharing a few new things and a recipe I am loving.

First up, I have been doing some shopping at Madewell lately. Did you know if you are a Madewell insider (free) you get a code for $25 off in your birth month? Totally worth signing up. I used that combined with a sale to get this dress for a steal.  I love it with a denim vest. I already have this tank in a blush pink, but I ordered another in gray because it is just that good. The color is backordered, but being that I live in Florida tanks are  year round outfit.

Today I ordered two items I have been eyeballing for some time. The first one is this canvas transport tote in a blush pink color. (It keeps going out of stock, so keep an eye out.)  I have been on the lookout for a new carryon that would count as a “personal item” for Spirit and Frontier flights and this bag fits the bill. It will also be a perfect tote bag for work and busy days.

I also splurged and grabbed these mules. I know a lot of you are not mule fans, and frankly I still might be on the fence, but I want a new “fall” shoe and these are just too cute. We will see, there is still like a 50% chance I will return them.

I have begun putting in seeds for my fall garden and I am so excited. Here in Florida fall and winter gardens often have better luck than spring and summer because it is not as hot. This fall I am planting tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, carrots, and radishes. I’ll let y’all know how it goes. If you have Florida gardening tips PLEASE send them my way.

We have been in a total food rut over here. The same meals over and over again are just getting boring. I’ve been trying to keep to healthy options that use easy ingredients and are simple to make. Tonight I made these Eggplant Pizzas and they totally hit the spot.  If you have other healthy options let me know!

That’s all for today, see you next week!