Everything You Need to Know About Beauty Oils

The Beauty Oil Takeover

If you look around at your local mall or department store, it’s hard not to notice the explosion of beauty oil products that now line the shelves lately. They’re not new to the beauty and skin care world, but their popularity is definitely on an uptick lately and it seems like everyone has an opinion on them. Love them or hate them, one thing is for sure, no one is sitting in the neutral zone when it comes to beauty oils. If you do a quick google search, you’ll find results like “Never mind that every single oil I tried made me break out”  or ” I notice an incredible difference in the quality of my skin right away”. At the end of the day, knowing how to properly use beauty oils and which oils are right for your skin is key.

Beauty Oils 101

There are a few things about beauty oils that need to be addressed before anything else:

1.) You cannot moisturize with an oil alone.

Why? Think about putting on your waterproof rain boots on and then going outside and splashing around in puddles expecting to get your socks wet. They stay bone dry right? O.k, keep that in mind while we take a closer look at products that actually do moisturize skin:

Lotion: Made up of 3 ingredients Occlusives, Humectants, Emollients

  • Humectants (draw water from air and from the lotion) into the skin and hydrate your cells
  • Emollients soften your skin
  • Occlusives trap emollients and humectants onto your skin so they stay soft and hydrated throughout the day

Oils act as Emollients and Occlusives but NEVER as a humectants 

2.) The best way to benefit from oils is to use it as your last step in your skin care routine (or mixed in with your moisturizers)

Serums and moisturizers both give off more water and need to penetrate deeper into the skin in order to offer benefits to your skin. If you apply oils first, you create a barrier between the deeper layers of your skin and your moisturizers/serum making them useless. However, if you decide to use a serum and just a facial oil, you can! This is where you can start to personalize your skin care routine based on your unique needs once you get more comfortable using beauty oils!

3.) Oils can be used to clear up acne

There is scientific evidence out there to show that tea tree oil possesses antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties to fight against acne causing bacteria. Tea tree oil is a powerhouse when it comes to its many healing properties and it has been around for centuries. Many brands utilize tea tree oil in their formulas as a way to help fight redness and reduce pimple size 

4.) It doesn’t matter what kind of oil you use on your hair, as long as you don’t use too much

Start with a drop or two and work it through your ENDS (don’t start at your roots!) If you’ve got thick and dry hair, here’s a life hack for you! Coat your hair from mid shaft to ends BEFORE you step into the shower. Shampoo and condition like you normally would. The oil will protect your hair from the drying effects of shampooing! Jojoba, Argan, and Almond oil have all worked great for me when I needed to restore a bit of shine to my hair (and combat the winter static here in New England).

5.) Oils are one of the BEST ways to clean your face!

Discovering oil cleansers was an absolute game changer for me. I cannot stress this enough. I have read so many articles about people being able to rinse their face in the morning with just water in order to prevent stripping the natural barrier from their skin… I am not one of those people. I have sensitive combination skin that gets tight, dry, and irritated from even the most gentle face wash depending on the day. It’s a struggle, but daily washes in the morning are a necessity and oil cleansers have saved my skin, especially in the winter.

How do they work? Simple, cleansing oils usually contain an oil base plus a traditional skin cleansing ingredient called a surfactants, that helps binds to dirt and remove it from the skin’s surface without disrupting the skin’s barrier. Certain types of oils cleansers can be better suited for different skin types so make sure to pay attention to the type of oil used in the cleanser and always look for key words like “non-comegedic” especially if you have a more oily complexion or if you have acne prone skin. 

Which Oil is Best For What?

For Drier Skin 

Marula oil is great for drier skin and is known for reducing redness and irritation. It comes from the kernels of the fruits of the Marula tree and its anti oxidant rich. Coconut and squalane oils are also suitable for drier skin types

For Normal Skin 

Jojoba Oil is your best bet if you have normal skin. Jojoba is technically the liquid produced in the seed of the Jojoba plant. Technically it isn’t an oil, but actually a mixture of mono-saturated liquid wax esters. Jojoba oil is so unique when compared to other oils because of its similarity to human sebum. This is because sebum is largely made up of wax mono esters! It can act as a substitute for sebum and add to the benefits one would get from natural sebum. It’s packed with antioxidants, its antibacterial, non-comogedic, and non-allergenic as well. 

For Acne Prone Skin 

Breakouts can happen from overactive oil glands so always opt for lighter oils like tea tree oil, squalane, and jojoba oil. Yes! using the correct beauty oil can help diminish your own oil production that is causing you headaches! It’s habit to try and dry out skin that is in the middle of a breakout, but it can be the worst thing you can do to yourself (not to mention the scarring that can happen…)  Acne is the body’s way of communicating that your oil to water ratio is off-balance. Oils like squalane, derived from olives, have molecules small enough that can be absorbed easily in order to go to work where you need it most!

For Combination Skin

Marula Oil is a great choice for combination skin as long as you use it sparingly and try the technique of mixing one or two drops with your daily moisturizer. Since marula oil penetrates quickly, you will be able to control how much you apply and where (since it is being mixed with your moisturizer) and reap the benefits of his antibacterial properties as well!

My Current Favorites (Shop Them Below!)

Tata Harper

When I’m in need of a lighter dose of moisture, I reach for Tata Harper’s Beautifying Face Oil or Retinoic Nutrient Face Oil. Tata Harper is an amazing brand spearheaded by Tata Harper herself after she helped her step father fight cancer and realized his skin care products contained too many toxic ingredients. Instead of accepting this as the norm she got down to business and created her own line of skin care and beauty products made of only the finest, natural ingredients. She’s mapped out her formulations from scratch over a course of four years based on the purpose of each product and ingredients are sourced from her 12,000 acre farm in Vermont and places like Israel, the Amazon, Canada, and France.

Beautifying Face Oil:

This gem is jam-packed with 17 botanical ingredients, it’s lightweight, and incredibly fast absorbing. It’s meant to restore and revive radiance in your skin while providing a dose of hydration. It contains squalane, jojoba esters, camelia seed oil, olive oil, and borage oil (amazing for inflammation!). I use this when I need an extra dose of hydration or if I want to seal in the hydration after applying my essence, serum, and moisturizer

Retinoic Nutrient Face Oil:

Another one of Tata Harper’s light weight face oils that “infuses the skin with essential vitamins amino acids, minerals, and antioxidants to transform, dry irritated patches into balanced and radiant skin.” This is one of Tata Harper’s favorites and I love how her team shares their favorite ways to use this beyond just skin care! It’s great for split ends, cuticle care, and for irritated/sunburned skin (due to my illness, I deal with irritated skin a lot and I can vouch for this!) At night when I feel like I need an extra dose of moisture, I put a generous amount of this over my moisturizer and wake up with glowing skin!

Little Barn Apothecary

Another favorite brand of mine is Little Barn Apothecary. Based in Georgia, All of their products are 100% vegan, cruelty free, and all natural. They create their products by hand in small batches in their micro facility in Atlanta and they do not use synthetic or “filler” ingredients in any of their products.

Orchid + Black Currant Face Serum:

Made up of Moroccan Neroli, Avocado oil, black currant oil, and jojoba oil, this product targets fine lines and wrinkles while soothing and conditioning skin. One important note to make, since this product contains orchid extract (which is a humectant) this is classified as a serum and can technically be used on its own to provide your skin a level of moisture! Great for dry, parched skin

Lavender + Frankincense Original Oil:

This multi tasker was developed 10 years ago for your face but can be used for your hair, face, and body! It’s loaded with omega 3-6- and 9 essential fatty acids and also has vitamins A,C, D, E, copper, zinc, selenium, and chromium. It’s suited for all skin types but especially for those with sensitive and normal skin. I find it a little heavier than other face oils because of the avocado oil so I reserve this for fall/winter weather

Helichrysum + Violet Face Oil

This face oil definitely packs a big punch and is formulated to “reduce visible signs of aging and to fortify youthful skin. Contains high levels of the essential fatty acid gamma linoleic acid (GLA), shown to be a strong anti-inflammatory and reparative for skin.” This face oil contains Baobab Oil, Meadowfoam oil, borage seed oil, olive squalane, avocado oil, violet leaf oil, and labdanum essential oil. Formulated for day and night use!

LATHER

One of my newest favorites comes from the brand LATHER. If you aren’t familiar with them, please check them out! Everything they make is created with your overall health and wellness in mind (a whole blog post dedicated to LATHER products is in the works to stay tuned!) As a chronic illness sufferer, I’ve spent more time reading up on skin care and beauty brands before using them and I’ve discovered amazing names like LATHER. They go above and beyond for their customers because they truly believe in a better world for ALL of us. They thoughtfully source their organic ingredients for each product with health AND wellness in mind AND they’re also a carbon neutral business, utilizing Ecopure in their packaging, recycled materials, and they even use soy based inks! They even partner with the Baobab Guardians Programme, employing and empowering women in South Africa, to ensure the survival of the oldest living tree on Earth! Shout out to LATHER! One of the first products I tried from Lather was their chia seed & passion fruit facial oil.

Chia Seed and Passion Fruit Facial Oil:

This facial oil is formulated with chia seed and passion fruit oil (aka maracuja oil) and is super fast absorbing! It also has grapeseed, rosehip, and tahitian monoi oils for additional moisture and antioxidant protection with Vitamins E and A and lycopene. It’s super rich in omega 3’s and 6’s and helps with dry air and pollutants. I have used this stuff in harsh winter climates AND when the temps decides to shoot back into the 60’s. It has performed well regardless of temperature changes and hasn’t caused any issues with my skin! It’s also priced super affordable compared to other facial oils on the market and has performed in step with competitors so they get a gold star in my book!

                            

Absorb Skin care The Face Oil:

This small batch luxury face oil deserves to be recognized and will knock you socks off the first time you use it. It is specifically designed for sensitive and/or acne prone skin but anyone can use it (without having to worry about any reactions or unsightly breakouts). It is handcrafted with organic and wild-crafted ingredients (yup ingredients that are organic and found in the wild. You don’t get any more natural than this folks! Your skin is going to thank you!). Only unrefined plant butters and oils are used as well and boy does your skin show it when you use this elixir! All products are hand blended in small batches so be prepared for higher prices than other brands (although it’s right on par with Tata Harper). Products are also sent in reusable cosmetic bags through Freeset, “a fair-trade business offering employment to women who are trapped in the Kolkata’s sex trade. By giving these women a job making products, they are no longer subjected to working in the sex trade in India”. There’s nothing more amazing than a brand who gives back like that. Absorb’s face oil includes pomegranate seed, neroli, prickly pear, rasberry seed, maracuja, helichrysum, and rosemary oils. They’re basically the MVP’s for oils high an antioxidants and omegas! This face oil can also be used over your makeup for a quick refresh during the day if you need it. A little goes a long way and I am totally in love with this stuff. It calms, moisturizes, dare I say it makes me look like I’m glowing when I use it? There’s something to be said when products are made in small batches, using only the finest organic ingredients. Guys you can actually tell the difference when using this oil! I am DYING to try out the Rose Geranium Mist and Body Oil next when I’m able to get my hands on it! 

Do you have any favorites you can’t live without? Let us know below!

 

 

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The Sweaters You Need To Transition to Spring

Bring on the Sunshine and Warmer Weather!

We’ve finally made it to daylight savings and the sun will be shining a little longer during the day. Can I get a hallelulah? And despite the fact that as I write this, there’s still snow on the ground, I’m choosing to stay positive and focus on packing up my winter clothes for the year, getting my spring clothes out, and adding a few new additions for the upcoming seasons.

Since I live in New England and the weather here is so unpredictable, cardigans and lightweight transition sweaters are a must. These are also wardrobe must -haves for just about anywhere where cool breezes move in once the sun goes down. Check out my newest fave picks below! They’re all linked for you so you can go check them out directly on their websites!

Red Dress Boutique

All super soft and machine washable! Perfect for that weather when it’s not quite bone chilling out, but not warm enough to throw on your favorite short sleeve tops! My favorite picks are meant to have a slightly oversized fit so they can be thrown on over something you’re already wearing for those cool spring nights.

                     

H&M

You can’t go wrong when it comes to affordable sweaters from H&M. They even have eco conscious options like the first cardigan I linked below! Loving the soft pastels and neutral color options they have and the the price point is spot on! (hello $12.99!).

                   

American Eagle

American Eagle has become my go- to for closet staples no matter what the season lately. They didn’t disappoint when I checked them out for spring transitional pieces that would be comfortable, affordable, and versatile (and machine washable. This girl ain’t got time for dry clean only right now!)

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What are your favorite stores to shop at for transitional spring sweaters? Let us know below in the comments!

 

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Celebrate Each Other on International Women’s Day

Happy International Women’s Day! From the early days in the 1900’s when women first stood up for equal rights in places like Denmark and Germany, so much has been gained in terms of fighting for equal rights and fighting against gender inequality, but there is still much more to do! Today is a day to life each other up and celebrate the successes of our fellow women from all walks of life and I am honored to be a part of this amazing blog link up with my fellow Style Collective Sisters! I hope you enjoy meeting them all and learning something AMAZING about each and every one of these phenomenal women!

Below you will find my submission for the blog link up!

My Name is Beth and I am the voice behind Graced By Grit! I started my blog as a way to raise awareness for chronic illness. I was diagnosed with a progressive and incurable, chronic illness 2 years ago and the road to a proper diagnosis was a long and difficult one. The stigma behind chronic illness exists due to lack of awareness, despite the fact that overt 40% of the world’s population currently suffers from at least one chronic illness right now. Women in particular are hit the hardest with chronic illnesses even though they are usually the last in the family to seek medical care. These statistics need to change and those with chronic illness deserve to be seen as more than just their ailments. We are your CEO’s, your boss babes, your working mamas, your kick ass stay at home mamas, your artists, engineers, students, single dads, day dreamers, the list goes on.

I’m here to bridge the gap between the healthy and the sick by sharing my story and by proving that we are so much more than our chronic illness! I love the latest in health and wellness ( I was certified in group exercise 2 years ago and taught fitness classes) I love fashion and I’m obsessed with finding ways to look stylish while staying comfy and casual. I also love beauty and skincare products and love sharing my favorite finds even more! Sometimes all it takes to narrow the gap is creating connections and I’m here to do that through my IG and through Graced By Grit! I’m always just an email or DM away!

Goals I’ve Accomplished:

  1. Being able to blog and maintain a full time career despite being ill
  2. Hitting 10k followers in 6 months! 
  3. Getting accepted to rewardStyle in the first try!

What does International’s Women’s Day Mean to Me:

International Women’s Day is a time to reflect on all of the fearless women who have come before me and all of the sacrifices they’ve made in order for me to have the rights I have. It’s also a reminder of the work that still needs to be done. As women, we are treated as minorities in certain circumstances and we have to work harder in order to realize our dreams in life. We have a long road ahead of us but it’s one we are all willing to travel because we are strong willed and created from the moxie of our mothers!

What does being a member of the Style Collective Mean to you:

Being a member of the Style Collective fills me with so much pride! My Style Collective Sisters are some of the kindness, sweetest, most supportive women I have ever met! I would not be where I am today if I did not become a member of the Style Collective and I do not say that lightly guys! When I started my instagram and my blog, I was wading in a giant sea on social media. By the grace of God, I stumbled upon the Style Collective and decided to give it a shot. Yes the resources are invaluable, but the most invaluable part is the COMMUNITY. It’s the girls you meet, it’s the relationships you make, it’s the support these amazing women give you day after day! The Style Collective is like a family to me and I am so grateful for them…

Three Fun Facts About Me!

  1. I served in the U.S Military during college and was a combat engineer (I learned how to blow things up)
  2. I was a competitive dancer for over 18 years and my studio was selected to represent the United States in West Berlin Germany at World Gymnaestrada (I even competed solo there in tap and placed 3rd!)
  3. I currently suffer from more than one chronic illness! I also suffer from: POTS, Raynauds, Ehlers Danlos, Erythromelalgia, and Cerebrovascular vasospasm/constrictions (30% blood loss to my brain whenever I change elevation i.e standing up or sitting down)

 

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

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The Organizers You Can’t Live Without

How Much is Too Much?

There’s a fine line between having an impressive collection of beauty products and just simply overdoing it. The same goes for all of those tantalizing health and wellness brands that lure us in with sweet smells and luxurious textures. We’ve all been there, promising ourselves one more eye shadow palette or eyeliner and we’ll call it quits for good… but then the next week we’re online ordering another lippie or mascara because seasons have changed and we’ve somehow convinced ourselves our lashes need another formulation for the falling temps outside. Sounds ludicrous doesn’t it?

         

Women Who Are Always On The Go

So what’s a girl to do with all this stuff anyway? Well for starters, before you go out and purchase your 10th shade of rose gold highlighter, why not assess how you’re organizing your bounties instead? Counter space, especially in the bathroom and bedroom, is prime real estate these days, and makeup compacts and toiletries lying around does no one any good. There are countless organizers on the market to choose from with shelving options, and some even swivel! But here’s the catch; We live in the age of mobility. We are constantly on the go! When we’re not traveling for work, we’re traveling for play, and when we’re not traveling for play, well, we’re traveling for great Aunt Sue’s 95th birthday party… and you know girlfriend has got to bring her favorite beauty products with her!

Your New Favorite Organizers

Ellis James Designs has created amazing products for women who need bags and organizers that are functional and stylish. They understand that we live busy and chaotic lives and they want us all to feel like they’ve got our backs. Can we all just take a moment to think about that? Seriously. How cool of a brand mission is that? They sincerely care about women successfully making it through the day like a boss! Instead of just making it through the day in one piece.

Think about the daily routine you do at home in the comfort of your bedroom or bathroom. Ellis James Designs wants you to be able to pack all of your gear up and easily take it with you without any hassle. But wait, I’m not done! They want you to take it with you in style too. Their pieces “are inspired by authentic British style, and they combine contemporary minimalist designs with classic elegance”. Each bag comes exquisitely gift wrapped (It’s like Christmas every time I receive a piece from Ellis James) and the attention to detail on each organizer is unmatched. Guys, this honestly is the tall makeup organizer that you cannot live out!

Breaking Boundaries and Bridging Gaps

Ellis James Designs was just a makeup and beauty organizer company when I first heard of them, but the brand has far surpassed my expectations and represents something far more special than that. They have become stewards in terms of bridging the gap between the healthy and the sick. In an age where having a chronic illness is still not well understood nor is it readily acknowledged, a brand in the beauty industry did not shy away from giving a chronic illness sufferer a voice. Unlike being able to choose whether I use my makeup products or not on a daily basis, I don’t have a choice when it comes to my medical devices and medications. I need them in order to stay alive. Keeping them organized is even more vital so I can keep up with my daily regimen of medications, especially when I’m traveling for work. Unlike other people who suffer with chronic illness, I can still work full-time and I still try to go on business trips. I used to hide all the stuff I’m forced to tote around with me because of my illness. Thanks to Ellis James, I don’t have to hide it all anymore. My medications and devices can be packed WITH my rose gold highlighter, just like people who are healthy. I don’t think I can impress upon people just how big it is to pack things like makeup and medications TOGETHER for the first time in my life.

To live with a chronic illness that is incurable, that people don’t understand very well and don’t always visibly see what it’s doing to my insides,  it’s like trying to live two separate lives all the time. So the small act of packing things together in a beautiful organizer that is super durable efficient, well…it’s like bringing those two lives together for the first time and I can’t thank Ellis James Designs enough for making it possible. Brands that go beyond the bottom line like this deserve to be celebrated, so make sure you go check them out and show them some love!

Is there a brand or company who went above and beyond for you or your family? Tell us about them in the comments below!

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Take Control of Your Chronic Pain Through Exercise

Sorting Through Your Pain First

I know what you’re thinking. I’ve been there so let’s clear the air before we get into the meat and potatoes of this post. You’re sitting there thinking to yourself “Greaaaat, another post about how chronic pain can be managed through exercise…” it’s not, I promise. The truth is, I’ve struggled through a handful of workouts in the past few months. A handful and that’s it. That is the worst I have ever done in terms of exercising in my life. It’s not for the lack of trying and it’s not because I’m not motivated. It’s because I’m in a lot of pain. Pain is tiring, physically, mentally, and emotionally. I get it. I am never going to jump on here and preach that exercise is the answer to your chronic pain woes. Sometimes getting through the day is all you’re capable of doing and that’s o.k. Everyone has those days, weeks, months, heck even those kinds of years. We’re all human. period.

But consistent movement does have benefits for chronic pain and when the time comes and you realize you’ve only been able to stay mobile/exercise a handful of times, why not reassess things? There’s no sense in sticking with a plan that isn’t working, especially if it’s sidelining you. This is what happened to me over the past few months. I didn’t want to admit I couldn’t keep up. I didn’t want to admit it was time to quit. But it was…But that doesn’t mean I had to quit everything. It meant there was something better and more accommodating for me in this season of my life. I am learning this lesson the hard way right now. A handful of workouts is not ideal for anyone over a span of 2-3 months. Anything consistent is better than a handful of workouts sprinkled about over 8-12 weeks. I am currently dealing with stiffness, sore muscles, aches and pains, swelling, fatigue, and overall feeling down in the dumps. No one should go through that. If you’re in the same boat or something similar, I’ve listed my top favorites for you to try below! And if you’ve been bed bound recently, no worries! A few can be modified so you can continue moving despite being bed-bound or home-bound as well.

*If you are unsure of any movements or exercises, please consult your Doctor or phsyician prior to starting any of the following:

1.) Stretching

Stretching is a key factor in reducing inflammation that plagues ALL of us who suffer from chronic pain. If you are mobile, home bound, wheel chair bound, or bed bound, I cannot recommend stretching enough to all of you, including myself. I starting noticing that the less I moved over the past few months, the more I ached. According to Pain Pathways Magazine,  stretching promotes better circulation, decreases pain, improves posture, increases flexibility, improves oxygen flow, and can enhance coordination. Stretching should not hurt and it is all based on your range of motion and ability. If you are wheel chair bound, stretch what you can assisted and unassisted. If you are using a cane, try seated stretches for safety. I have POTS and there are days I do seated stretches myself for safety purposes. We should all be stretching! I remember seeing elite runners when I was growing up, stretching in the grocery line or stretching randomly at the movie theater and laughing at them to myself. Now I realize they were on to the something… Stretch when you’re sitting at work, stretch when you’re standing in line somewhere or watching T.V at home, give those muscles of yours some TLC whenever you can  😉 

2.) Water Aerobics

Exercising and hydrotherapy in warm water relieves pressure on the joints and allows for greater range of motion for many people who would otherwise face limitations. A feeling of weightlessness with water therapy also helps to relieve stress and promote relaxation. Something as simple as being able to stand up straight is a luxury that some chronic pain sufferers haven’t felt in a long time. The incorporation of movement in warm water (cold water can cause cramping and stiff muscles) in your routine can do wonders both for your body and your mind if done consistently. Don’t be afraid to go inquire about using the pool at your local gym or YMCA for this. Many community programs offer weekly hydrotherapy and water aerobics classes for adults and the participants have different skill levels. Even if you want to participate just to get in the water, instructors do what they do because they genuinely care. Reach out and be open about your situation. 9 times out of 10, the response I’ve received was overwhelming supportive when I put myself out there. You deserve access just like everyone else 

3.) Strength Training

Strength training for chronic illness sufferers can mean something very different from others who frequent the gym on a regular basis. Don’t worry, I’m not suggesting you go to Cross Fit or lift heavy weights right out of the gates, although these are not out of the question either. Strength training is vital for your overall health. Let’s nail down a strong understanding of what strength training actually is and how it can be beneficial for people with chronic illness:

Strength training is essentially any kind of exercise where you use resistance to induce muscle contraction to build strength, anaerobic endurance and size of skeletal muscles.

So what does this mean? It means you technically don’t need to step foot into a gym if you can’t!

Use your own body weight: Start off with a few reps of exercises like squats, lunges, sit-ups, or even pull ups if you have access to a park nearby ( I personally cant do pull ups alone so the hubs has to assist with these!)

Add some weight when you feel comfortable: Got some soup cans or bottles of soda? Anything that’s relatively easy to hold (and easy to put down or drop when it becomes to heavy) We used these when my grandmother had to rehab after congestive heart failure. We eventually graduated her to the oversize juice containers with the handles as well! When I suggest something, it’s because we used them in real life and they were successful guys.  🙂

I’ve also found that wrist and ankle weights are also very handy in situations where you want to add weight in small increments, however I have a borderline diagnosis of EDS (2 geneticists and a Division Chief say yes, one geneticist says no) and I have issues with hyper mobile joints. I do recommend these type of weights but please use with care and if you have joint issues, I do find that wrapping joints firsts provide a level of protection.

4.) Walking

Walking boosts overall energy, helps deliver oxygen to your muscles, and promotes healthier circulation. It is a form of exercise that incorporates full body movement and promotes and encourages coordination as well. According to the Harvard Medical School a brisk walk a few times a week can boost your immune system, resulting in over 40% fewer sick days a year. Walking can also help prevent arthritis and the effects and the effects of weight-promoting genes! If you can’t get out of the house, try taking small walks around your home or apartment (or hallways in your apartment complex. There were times when we were renting that I walked up and down the halls of our building and in our apartment. When I am at work, I take breaks to walk up and down the floors of our building to make sure I’m not sitting all day for 9 hours at my desk.

5.) Cycling

Cycling has been my new favorite form of exercise lately! It’s easy on my joints, I can control the speed I pedal, I can rest my arms when I need to or incorporate weights and control resistance when cycling indoors, and I can sit! It also torches a lot of calories and it’s a great aerobic workout. According to Harvard Health Publishing, Cycling helps to build muscles and promotes better bone density too! You don’t have to own a fancy indoor bike to enjoy this type of exercise. There are also recumbent bikes that are even easier on the joints or outdoor bicycles to check out. Some towns and cities offer programs where you can rent a bike for a few hours to get around town now as well, jsut like you would pay a fair on a city bus or for a taxi. Now that’s its winter, my hubs and I have seen a lot of great deals on Craiglist’s for bikes for under $50 as well!

If you’re in too much pain to participate in any type of cycling listed above, I’ve got you covered, because I’ve been there and I have family members who have also been there. I’ve listed my favorite alternatives to cycling that still get you moving below:

1.) Stamina In Motion Elliptical Trainer

This bad boy is less than $60 and is also less than 60 lbs! I’m able to transport it from my house to my office and use it under my desk and in front of the T.V. when needed. My family members have used it for rehab and I still use it when the pain is too much for cycling or other physical activities. You can track your distance or “steps” easily with the monitor right on top and the wheels on the bottom of the pedals promote a more gliding sensation to the movement of the machine. 

2.) Folding Mini Pedal Exerciser

A more affordable and more mobile option that can be used for leg and arm exercise. A little more strenuous on the knee joints and less stable in terms of the machine as a whole. Has a counter so you can keep track of your progress!

Below are a few more exercise items that have come in handy for me over this past year. They’re all affordable and they’ve become great tools in terms of achieving goals right in the comfort of my own home  😀

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Resistance Bands 

Great for strength training and for maintaining form during exercises. This set comes with different levels of resistance so you can choose based on how you feel during a given day

Wrist weights

I love how these weights are only 1 lb per weight. Enough to make a difference with consistent reps but not too much to injure your wrists!

Foam Roller

A foam roller is a great tool to complement your stretching routine and to help stretch hard to reach areas (especially your back and calves) You don’t need anything fancy or expensive. Your basic high density foam roller will do the trick!

Do you have any exercise routines you love or suggestions that have helped keep you on track? I’d love for you to share them below in the comments!
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Check Out This Jord Watch Giveaway!

Enter My New Giveaway with Jord

I am so excited to share my newest favorite accessory of 2019 with you from Jord AND offer you a chance to win $100 towards your very own watch! With the new year here, it’s a time for fresh starts and connections, new adventures, and I have the pleasure of working with my new friends at Jord to bring you this amazing and very timely giveaway! I want to pass on their generosity to you by holding a contest for one lucky person to win a $100 gift code to be used on the Jord website!

                    

A Timepiece as Unique as You

So what sets Jord apart from other watch brands in the industry? Simple. Besides being the top selling premium wood watch in the world, the brand has set out on a mission to be more than just a watch on your wrist helping you to keep time. Their mission is “to create timepieces for people that have somewhere to go, not just somewhere to be.” Think about that for a minute. They get it. They don’t just see you as another customer. They see you as someone living your life, someone with dreams and purpose unique to you, and they strive to emulate that in every watch they make. How cool is that?

The Sky is the Limit When it Comes to Jord

When you check out their website, you’ll find that their offerings go beyond wood watches. They offer cedar humidor watch boxes, free engraving services on select styles, apple watch bands, and they now have a line of caps! They use top of the line materials for ALL Jord watches, from Sapphire glass to over 12 different types of wood used for their versatile timepieces. Watches may be also sized to fit like it was made just for you. Talk about personal service! I have never owned a more comfortable and adaptable watch in my life. My new Jord watch can be dressed up or down so whether I’m spending a day outside or in the office, I’m always reaching for my new Frankie timepiece with its beautiful emerald face and dark sandalwood band. 

It’s super easy to enter and bonus! If you don’t win, you automatically get 10% off gift code for the Jord website just for entering  🙂
Just click HERE to enter and BEST OF LUCK!



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Top 8 Fashion Picks For 2018

Happy New Year’s to all of you! We did it! We crushed another year and it’s that time again to start fresh with 365 opportunities to make all of your wildest dreams come true! Time to share my third and final “Top 8 of 2018” with all of you! If you missed my last post, no problem! Just head over to my HEALTH and WELLNESS tab to check it out  😎  Ok, no more delays, here are my Top 8 FASHION picks for 2018. All 8 are always in consistent rotation for me. If I had to describe my picks, I’d use words like dependable, practical, versatile, comfortable. When you are physically ill like me day in and day out, characteristics like these are so important when it comes to your wardrobe. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t fashionable or universal. Who doesn’t want to be comfortable AND fashionable if given the opportunity? These pieces give you just that friends. They work for EVERYONE and have a place in all closets. The are super affordable, and the best part? The are on MEGA sale right now because of the holidays and New Years, so stock up if you can like I am right now! (you can thank me later  😉 )

Top 8 Fashion Picks of 2018

 

1.)  Bella + Canvas Side Slit Tank

Bella Canvas specializes in great basics including short and long sleeve tees, tanks, and sweatshirts. When I stumbled upon this tank on Amazon it was like the skies had parted for me, no exaggeration. I own about 20 of these tank tops and for good reason. It has just the right amount of drape around your mid section area, so no need to worry about those days when you’re feeling bloated, the sides have subtle venting slits for when you’re running ‘hot during summer days or for whatever else gets your blood boiling  😉 The material content washes well and prevents excessive shrinking and it comes in multiple colors! They’ve become my go-to for layering under sweaters, cardigans, stand alone tanks during the summer, workout tanks, and tanks for bed.

Side note: I own the style I linked in this post plus the other following styles if you’re interested in checking these out! *flowy racerback, slouchy tank,  v-neck jersey tank.

2.) J.Crew V Neck soft yarn sweater

In the winter, my skin is extra sensitive due to dry air and harsh weather. I find it very difficult to find sweaters that don’t cause further irritation and overall discomfort for me. When it comes to the nerve damage that I suffer with, I often deal with something called ‘overactive nerves. This means that the signals between my brain and nerve endings are mis-communicated causing amplified senses from touch (like material on skin etc.) When a rough crunchy wool sleeve rubs up against my arm, it can feel like sand paper. This is where J.Crew’s soft yarn v-neck sweater comes to the rescue! I don’t know how they did it, but they took merino wool, made it super soft to the touch, gave it a relaxed cut around the torso area (with a slightly slimmer sleeve so you don’t look like you’re wearing a potato bag), and voila! you’re ready for winter! Did I mention you can put these in your washing machine on the hand wash cycle with COLD water?

3.) Madewell blanket scarf

I live for blanket scarves as soon as the temperatures cool down. What’s not to love? Two of my favorite words smashed together to describe an accessory. Madewell makes the most beautiful blanket scarves every fall and I swoon over them every year. They’re  super soft to the touch, they’re durable enough to survive me throwing them in the backseat of my car for easy access all season, and they literally can be used as a blanket when your office feels like the arctic abyss. I am on board for anything that makes wearing blankets in public socially acceptable.

4.) American Eagle Plush Hometown Sweatshirt

If I could wear sweatshirts everyday I would. If I died and came back as a piece of clothing, I’d want to come back as a sweatshirt, Whoever invented the sweatshirt should be honored with their own museum… In all seriousness, 2018 was the year where sweatshirts really became utilized a lot more on a daily basis and became a wardrobe staple. I really couldn’t be happier. American Eagle is one of the brands that really embraced the sweatshirt, updating their cuts, adding embellishments, and  even including feminine trims to their designs and I loved them all. This plush hometown sweatshirt was one of my favorites because of the slimmer cut (but not too slim to be uncomfortable) the longer length, and the thin soft material that comes in lots of colors.

5.) J.Crew Toothpick Jeans 9 inch Rise

When you find a pair of jeans you love, stock up! J.Crew added 9 and 10 inch rises to their line up about 2 years ago and I am loyal to the 9 inch rise like its my job. The toothpick jean is my sweet spot when it comes to leg length (comes in tall, classic, and petite…I can pull off classic) the leg opening doesn’t cut off the circulation to my legs, and my favorite pair linked here has just the right amount of stretch in them (2% spandex) so they keep their shape throughout the day (but I don’t have to do squats in the morning to get them on  😉 ).

6.) Loft Eyelet Cuff Top

Loft will always be one of my favorite brands for tops when I need to go to a business meeting or to dinner. Their sizing is more consistent than most brands so I know what to try when ordering, and the cut of their tops is always tasteful and classy. This eyelet cuff top has just the right amount of detailing on the cuff for my taste and keeps it versatile enough to dress up or down depending on the event or function you need to wear it to!

7.) American Eagle Waffle Cardigan

Back to American Eagle! I am all about the slouchy cardigans this year and this soft cardigan is no exception. The rich hues that American Eagle chose to use for this waffle cardigan are timeless and won’t go out of style anytime soon. The material isn’t too stuffy and I know I will be able to use this in the fall and on cool spring days as well. Unlike other cardigans from American Eagle, I did find myself ordering a size large in this particular style (I’m usually a medium in AE cardigans) so something to keep in mind if you decide to try this beauty out!

8.) Zella Live in Leggings

Zella leggings have been a wardrobe staple of mine for years and 2018 was no exception. I only really wear 2 brands of leggings (Lululemon and Zella) and I chose to highlight Zella here because I wear them outside of the gym unlike my Lululemon leggings. These are so versatile I wear them to work with tunics and oversized cardigans and riding boots guys! And they wash so well as long as you wash them on a gentle cycle in cool water. You can also find Zella leggings on sale throughout the year (like right now!!) And they feel like butter on your skin and they’re not constricting… nothing you wear should ever be constricting, especially something like leggings! I’ve never had to worry about whether my Zella leggings were see-through and you should either as long as you are ordering the correct size. And they come in so many styles and colors to choose from!

My 2018 picks will continue to be my top loves as we move into 2019 and I can’t wait to hunt for new finds to share with you over the next 12 months! Do you have a ‘tried and true” wardrobe find you just can’t live without? I’d love to hear from you!

 

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Top 8 Health and Wellness Picks for 2018

Time to share my Top 8 Health and Wellness Picks for 2018 with you! If you missed my post yesterday, don’t worry! Head on over to my website’s BEAUTY tab and check out my Top Beauty Picks after this  😉  I am so excited to share this collection of amazing health and wellness products with you! I wasn’t paid or sponsored to share any of them. I just LOVE each and every product so much and I wanted to share them all with you. Self care is so important when it comes to quality of life. If you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to take care of others. Sometime self-care means incorporating practical health and wellness products in your everyday life. These picks may not be considered luxurious, but they are so important in terms of practicality. And for me they have become my ultimate health and wellness all- stars.  Without further adieu my friends! Here are my Top 8 FAVORITE Health and Wellness picks for 2018!

Top 8 Health and Wellness Picks for 2018

1.) Urban Moonshine Digestive Bitters

Digestive bitters have been an absolute game changer for me this year. Because my chronic illness mainly causes nerve damage, messages between my brain and major organs get crossed and things in my body malfunction (including my stomach…) These digestive bitters have been able to combat the nausea, upset stomach, acid reflux, and a number of other issues I have to deal with on an ongoing basis. The best part? They are made of all natural ingredients and they work based on the theory that the best receptors for digestion are located on the tongue (along with the stomach, pancreas, and gallbladder) and can be stimulated with a mixture of bitters! No medications needed, nothing invasive needed, just utilizing your body the way it was intended to work! I make sure I never run out of this stuff and even keep a travel spray bottle in my purse.

2.) Bell & Howell Cool Mist Ultrasonic Humidifier

Here in New England, the fall and winter seasons bring drier air into the region and my skin (and nasal passages and throat) pay the price. In addition to drier air, forced hot air in buildings and cars add to the dry environments and more than just your skin can suffer. This is where a good humidifier can come into play. I always go for cool mist humidifier because they can be used year round and they’re safer than warm mist humidifiers (no risk of burns). This humidifier has great additional features like a diffuser for essential oils AND it even has a color changing nigh light feature!

3.) Liquid I.V.

Chronic Illness means I have to take medications. And medications sometimes means nasty side effects that cause dehydration. Liquid I.V. was the answer to my hydration problems. One packet and one glass of water = 3 glasses of water! Liquid IV utilizes Cell Transport Technology (a specific ratio of potassium, glucose, and sodium) to deliver water and other key nutrients directly to your blood stream, hydrating you faster than you could by just drinking water alone. It comes in a variety of flavors, it’s great for those looking to improve hydration on all levels, and did I mention the company gives back to third world countries as part of their corporate mission?

4.) Grace & Stella Gel Therapy Hot/Cold Eye Mask

Grace & Stella is making another appearance on my Top 8 lists and it’s no surprise since their products are amazing! Whether I have a migraine, tired eyes, or I’m in desperate need of a break due to stress or pain, I reach for this eye mask. You can pop it in the fridge or microwave it depending on which you prefer, slip it into it’s sleeve and enjoy the soothing benefits from the gel beads its made up of!

5.) Omron Max Power Tens Unit

If you’re not familiar with what a TENS is, here’s a quick run down:

  • Trancutaneous electronic nerve stimulation
  • Used by Physical Therapists for more than 30 Years.
  • Blocks the pain message.
  • Triggers endorphins (natural pain killers).
  • Enhances blood circulation.

The OMRON Max Power Tens Unit includes 15 levels of intensity, 6 different pain modes to choose from that specifically target different areas of the body. It has 3 different massage -like modes to choose from (tap, knead, rub). It’s the size of a cell phone and comes with a clip holder so it’s portable. The long life pads can be used up to 150 times and you can reorder new pads right from Amazon! It’s a great drug free alternative to pain relief (if you’re new to TENS therapy, please familiar yourself with the correct way to utilize it and never apply pads directly to the spine)

6.) Doc Miller Compression Sleeves

Compression sleeves promote increased circulation in your legs and increased circulation means key nutrients are being delivered through your blood stream to your muscles. promoting faster recovery. Increased circulation also means your organs are receiving the vital blood flow they need to function properly as well. People from all walks of life benefit from increased blood flow and these compression sleeves have improved my quality of life in so many ways. I suffer from Raynaud’s disease so they force blood flow through narrowed veins in my extremities and help with cramping and soreness. They also prevent damage to skin and swelling from decreased blood flow as well. Doc Miller designs their compression sleeves with quality materials and mine have survived hundreds of washes. They come in fun patterns and different designs based on your needs as well!

7.) Sagely Naturals Headache Roll-on Relief

In my quest to find safer alternatives for my headaches and migraines, I stumbled upon Sagely Natural’s website last year. Building upon the science that swelling in and around blood vessels caused by a release of prostaglandins, serotonin, and other substances due to overactive nerves sending impulses to the brain is the primary root of headaches, Sagely Naturals created a ‘roll on with ingredients designed to soothe the swelling that occurs in your head! This little powerhouse is packed with peppermint oil, menthol, rosemary oil (a great natural anti-inflammatory) and CBD oil! Just roll it on your temples and over your forehead, massage it in while you breathe in the relaxing aromas, and you feel the tension and tightness and swelling dissipate!

8.) Pure Enrichment Heating Pad

The mother of all heating pads! I own three different models from Pure Enrichment and I’m about to order my fourth. Not all heating pads are created equal and once you feel the material used on Pure Enrichment’s heating pads, you’ll understand why I say that. These heating pads heat up lightning fast, come with multiple heat settings based on your needs, they come with a moist heat option, and thick micro plush outer layer! Listen, when you’ve got health issues and you find yourself using a heating pad frequently, things like the outer layer of a heating pad become really important! Pure Enrichment heating pads also come with travel bags so you can roll them up and take them with you if needed! 

What have been your favorite health and wellness products? I’d love to hear from you!

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Top 8 Beauty Picks for 2018

Another year is coming to a close! It’s time to reflect back on lessons learned and memories made. Yes friends, it’s that time to think about what you’d like to accomplish in the upcoming year and what baggage needs to be left by the side of the road before 2018 comes to close  😉 But before we start rolling out the red carpet for 2019, I’ve put together my favorite picks for 2018 and I’m sharing them with you! Let’s get it started with my favorite Beauty Picks for 2018! Some are new and some are ‘tried and true. All 8 are super affordable and my top must have’s for the new year!

Top 8 in Beauty for 2018

1.)  Ellis James Hanging Toiletry Bag 

The MVP of 2018 is Ellis James Designs! The brand is owned by women and makes products with the needs of women in mind and you can tell with every stitch in their products. Their hanging toiletry bag and their tall makeup organizer have made a difference in my ability to store everyday essentials, including makeup and beauty products plus my medical equipment and prescriptions!

2.) Moroccan Magic 

Hands down my favorite lip balm this year is Moroccan Magic. Another female owned company focused on quality products created from all natural ingredients. It is infused with argan and other essential oils, it’s organic, cruelty free, and it has kept my lips moisturized during New England’s brutal winter weather! The flavors are subtle and it doesn’t leave any tacky or sticky feeling behind. I do not leave the house without one of these in my purse, jacket pocket, gym bag, or back pocket..no exageration. 

3.) Organation 

Have you ever wished you could cater your face cream to your unique skin cream? without breaking the bank? Organation is your answer! I’ve just started using their face cream and I cannot wait to share my experience with all of you next month! This brand is your ticket to leaving all of those harsh and unnecessary ingredients back in the labs where they belong and only treating your skin with organic goodness!

4.) Herbivore Rose and Hibiscus Face Mist

Herbivore has always been one of my favorite tried and true brands. Due to my chronic illness, I am a huge fan of clean beauty and Herbivore’s products have always been kind to my skin. This rose and hibiscus facial mist gives my skin a dose of hydration whenever I’m feeling dry or when I need a refresher during the day. I just spritz and go! The scent of roses and very subtle too which is a huge plus!

5.) Grace & Stella Rose Quartz Jade Roller

I have finally jumped on the “facial roller” band wagon and I’m officially hooked. I keep mine in the fridge so the cooling sensation is a little extra relief for my skin whenever I’m flaring up. The ancient art of jade rolling has been around for centuries and has many benefits when used consistently. It helps the absorption of facial products and it helps relieve tension in the facial muscles that we walk around with throughout the day (hello work and home stress!) The natural cooling effect from the stone (if you don’t put it in the fridge like me) helps to depuff your face as well! 

6.) Acure Dry Body Oil Spray

I battle dry skin like its my job thanks to medication I  take due to chronic illness. I’ve turned to body oils in recent years to help combat and that can get expensive when you have to use them all year. Acure has been a life saver ever since I discovered it a few months back. It comes in a super easy spray bottle, it’s applied in a very fine mist and absorbs easily into the skin. Did I mention its super affordable?

7.) Aveeno Positively Nourishing Body Wash 

Aveeno you had my heart since high school… Formulated for sensitive skin, Aveeno packs their body washes with antioxidants and non-comegedic ingredients designed to cleanse and hydrate your skin. They even have formulations that have oatmeal in them to soothe in the most irritated skin types.

8.) Pureology Hydrate Shampoo 

I have long, fine, color treated hair and in the fall and winter it tends to dry out. When this happens, I always reach for Pureology Hydrate shampoo and conditioner. Their formulations are sulfate free and they use natural extracts like peppermint, sage, and rosemary in their formulations to breathe life back into your hair! Their exclusive ‘anti fade complex always protects my color too so I never fade into between hair appointments

In 2019, I’d like to really focus on exploring clean, natural, and organic makeup brands who focus on non-toxic formulations and user-friendly colors and containers. Integrating clean, green products into my health and beauty regimen has become more of a priority after being diagnosed with a chronic illness and I should be paying attention to what I put on a my face for makeup more. If you have any suggestions, please feel free to share in the comments below!

What health and beauty products have been your 2018 MVP’S? I’d love to hear from you!

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12 Genius Gifts For People Who Are Impossible to Buy For

There’s always that one person in your life, whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa who keeps you from being able to claim victory over your ‘to do list during the holidays. Every year it seems to get worse and you cringe over the thought of having to come up with yet another gift for that person in your life, who seems to have everything they’d ever want or need… it’s an anomaly really. It could be a family member, a friend, or even sometimes someone like a boss if you’re unlucky enough to pick their name in the company Yankee swap! (like me this year at work..womp womp!) But have no fear! Amazon is offering free shipping until this Friday (free standard shipping for all prime members until the 17th) and there are literally thousands of options for that tough gift recipient right at your fingertips just waiting to be found on their website. I’ve listed my top, CHEAP, picks for you below! (including my pick for my boss’s gift) Happy shopping!

Amazon Gift Picks

12 Weird But Genius Gifts for the Toughest People to Buy For

1.) Gonex packable cubes   

These tear resistant and waterproof bags make traveling less of a nightmare and  organizing clothes and toiletries a whole lot easier! The perfect gift for your friend and family member who’s always traveling, these nylon cubes come in eight colors and help compress items to fit even more into your suitcase.

2.) Mamre songbird adjustable lamp

This cute yet practical songbird reading table lamp has a touch-control light that brightens and dims. It also has a built-in Bluetooth speaker so you can listen to your favorite music straight from your device plus a hands-free bendable neck, no wire, and is 100 percent rechargeable.

3.) Solar phone charger 

This genius solar phone charger has a high-capacity 8000 mAh power bank that uses the light from the sun to charge your devices. It has two USB ports and is resistant to dust, drops, bumps, and moisture.

 

4.) Topoko glass tea infuser

For the tea lover in your life or for the loved one who needs to stay hydrated in the classiest way possible! This bottle can be used to infuse loose teas, veggies and/or fruit, its made from high quality borosilicate glass with a large mouth opening so you can fit small ice cubes in it. The bottle also comes with a nylon sleeve to keep condensation at bay and any drink as cool as possible

5.) Rub Away Odor Absorber

This “stainless steel soap” is the answer to removing that lingering scent of garlic, onion, fish, or other odors  or, as I like to call them, “The Ghosts of Meal-Prep Past.” You just rub it on your hands like you would soap and those unwanted odors vanish into thin air!

Friends don’t let friends deal with brown guacamole — and you can be that hero friend by giving this guac-lock container to your favorite avocado lover. It sucks the air out of the container to keep guacamole looking as green as nature intended, and it can even be used for serving. Who’s got the chips?

With  silicone sponges you’ll never have to worry about moldy, smelly sponges again. These are antibacterial and mildew-proof making it a hygienic alternative to your standard scrubber. The double-sided sponge comes with both a rigid and bristled side and can be cleaned in the dishwasher or boiling water. They also come in packs of four and can double as a makeup brush cleaner or coaster.

8.) THAT! Butter warmer

No more ripping biscuits and toast apart because of cold hard butter. This nifty tool will slice through blocks of butter with ease and melt the hearts of gift recipients everywhere!

9.) Iottie wireless plus charging pad

My personal favorite and the gift that won my boss over at the Yankee swap this year. No more searching your briefcase and desk drawers for phone charging cords. Bring this charging pad home for the toughest names on your list and they’ll be grateful for the ease of use of this little gadget when the battery indicator on their phone turns red. Just open it up, plug it in and when they have to charge their phones, all they have to do is drop it right on top!

10.) Shiatsu shoulder and neck massager

A personal shiatsu massager is a great way to work away tension and relieve tight, overworked muscles. In a display of design genius, it wraps around the hard-to-reach shoulders and upper back, kind of like the world’s greatest hug. It even has a heat setting for even deeper muscle relief.

11.) Bakelicious crispy corner bake pan

Brownie lovers everywhere will rejoice when they bake up an entire tray of brownies with crispy sides. This tray makes it possible for everyone to enjoy chocolatey goodness with crispy sides no matter which brownie you choose from the pan!

12.) Nessie Ladle

The Nessie Ladle by the Design Award Studio OTOTO is back! Perfect for making cooking fun again! 

 

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