The Holiday Gift Guide Pt. 2: Ten Gifts Under $50.00

Given that Christmas is about a month away, I figure now is the right time to share with you my holiday gift guides. There will be two parts to this guide: an under $25 and an under $50. I tried to include something for everyone in this guide and I hope it helps you find the right gift or gives you a little inspiration for your own wishlist! ;) Please note: while there may be a few affiliate links throughout, I have not been compensated in any way for mentioning any of these products!


 1. One of my favorite animals are elephants so this shirt from J.Crew is right up my alley. To make things even better, 100% of the proceeds from this shirt go towards the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust! I'm all about shopping that helps do some good! 

2. In a similar vein, these bracelets from The Brave Collection are another gift that does good. The sale of these bracelets helps to work towards ending human trafficking an issue that is still a very large and real problem in our world. They are handmade in Cambodia by local artisans and come in a multitude of gorgeous colors. The berry color I've featured is my current favorite - its perfect for the season and is the next one I hope to get!  ;)  

3. One of the things that I may have not mentioned on here is just how much of a Harry Potter lover I am. The series is something I grew up reading and I find the stories just as great now, as I did then. Recently, a special illustrated edition of the first book was released (with the rest of the series to follow) and it is breathtakingly gorgeous! This would be fantastic for any Potterhead on your list - young and old. It is certainly a collectors piece!  

4. This essential oil diffusing Humidifier is something I have been eyeing up for quite a long time. I finally decided to try it out and am so happy that I did (review to come soon)! You can use it simply as a humidifier, or you can add the essential oils of your choice to it. Right now I am enjoying tea tree and lavender. It also has multiple colored light options that you can leave on a cycle or stop for solid color. Sometimes I just leave this on as ambient light and its a nice little night light.  

5. For the beauty lovers on your list, this hair care set from Living Proof might be just the gift. I recently professed my love for this product line in a blog post and I truly do feel that the range is worth the hype. The set might seem small but its just the right size to allow someone to try something new without the commitment of full sized products.  

6. Staying in the beauty vein, this travel set from Nest in their Midnight Fleur scent would make a wonderful gift in my opinion. Scents can be tricky gift-wise but this scent is one of my all-time favorite perfumes and I find it difficult to fathom anyone not enjoying it. It's a unique scent with notes of patchouli (a favorite of mine) and vanilla orchid. The warm scent is perfect for winter! 

7. Do you have any dog lovers on your list? This travel dog bed might be the perfect gift for any pet-oriented people you're looking to buy for. It can be used at home, in the car, on vacation, or wherever else you dream up, and is quick-drying - a bonus when it comes to dogs (I think I have permanent muddy prints in my car from my dog!). Oh, and its on sale too! Win, win!! 

8. This reclaimed wood herb planter box is not only insanely gorgeous, but also incredibly functional. This kit allows anyone with a minimal amount of space to garden year round in their home and sow (ha - get it?) the benefits of fresh herbs. This kit is great for any gardening aficionados and newbies alike! 

9. Regardless of where you live, a nice cozy pair of slippers can be a must-have during the winter months. This pair from Minnetonka  keep your feet nice and warm, but also comfortable. They look great while doing so too! Grab these quick because right now, they're being price matched at Nordstrom!  

10. Last but not least, I wanted to offer up a slightly more unique gift idea. Subscription boxes are quite prevalent these days but this one from Yogi Surprise is different than most. Yogi Surprise is a yoga lifestyle subscription box that brings 6-8 full sized products to your door every month. They offer products that are vegetarian and also, non-GMO for a value of roughly $70, and a monthly cost of about $45! Give a month to someone on your list for a unique surprise delivered right to their door!


The Holiday Gift Guide Pt. 1: 10 gifts under $25.00

Given that Christmas is about a month away, I figure now is the right time to share with you my holiday gift guides. There will be two parts to this guide: an under $25 and an under $50. I tried to include something for everyone in this guide and I hope it helps you find the right gift or gives you a little inspiration for your own wishlist! ;) Please note: while there may be a few affiliate links throughout, I have not been compensated in any way for mentioning any of these products!


1. A smartphone tripod - nearly everyone has a smartphone now and we're all walking around with some impressive little cameras in our pockets.

2. An adult coloring book - there are plenty on the market now, so its easy to find one to suit whomever. I'm all about the animals though, so this one catches my eye. 

3. Personally, I think that everyone should read It's What I Do: A Photographer's Life of Love and War by Lynsey Addario its an amazing book. You can read my review of it here. 

4. Lotions are a quick & easy gift during the holidays, but the Righteous Butter from Soap & Glory is truly worth giving. The smell is AMAZING and it sinks right in without leaving your skin greasy. 

5. Another perhaps typical gift idea for the holidays is a candle. However, this candle from PF Candle Co in teakwood & tobacco is anything but typical. Buy two: one for a gift and one for yourself. Trust me. 

6. If you have someone on your list who is a big coffee drinker. This French Press might be a good idea. The process isn't as quick as a Keurig but it will produce a far more authentic coffee experience! 

7. This is a gift that can be great for anyone. A salt lamp helps to purify the air and looks great while doing so! Plus, the light is nice and subdued so its perfect for a nice evening glow or ambiance.  

8. This scrub from Lush is easily on my list of holy grail Lush products. The scent in my opinion is unisex and it leaves your skin feeling super soft. Perfect for winter!  

9. For the eco-conscious, a nice glass water bottle can be a great gift. These life factory bottles come in a multitude of color options. 

10. Winter is long and cold. It's far more tolerable when you're able to get nice and cozy. A heated blanket makes that possible. These are available in a multitude of colors.


The Great Vegan Cheese Adventure: Will it Melt?!

I am a total foodie. I like to think that I am fairly open minded when it comes to food and it most cases, I will try anything once. I definitely have foods that are tried and tested, which I will always go back to, but I'm also up for anything different/unusual/unique or new! That being said, I try to aim for better options - you won't see me trying some new flavored pop-tart, but you may see me trying a new non-dairy ice cream, or in this case, vegan cheese!

Vegan cheese has been an area of contention for me for quite some time. The last time I tried a cheese alternative I was so disgusted that I haven't tried again for at least a year or more. When I saw a new cheese at the market, it was with great apprehension that I even stopped to investigate. In the long run, I decided to be brave and today for lunch, I figured it was as good a time as any to finally give this cheese a test.

The cheese in question? Chao cheese. It's produced by Field Roast, whose products I had seen before, but never tried. I picked up the creamy original option (though after looking on their website, I really wish my store stocked the tomato cayenne version too!), which is a coconut based, tofu cheese. The price was quite steep, at $5.99 a package, but it will yield me at least three sandwiches, so its not completely offensive. I set to making my grilled cheese with wheat bread, earth balance spread, the chao cheese & a few slices of tomato. Now the most important question...

Did the cheese actually melt??

Yes, it did! I was very shocked when I tested out the cooked texture of the cheese to find it had melted and had a nice and creamy consistency. In the times I have tried cheese alternatives, I haven't yet found one that properly melted. So Chao cheese certainly passes that test! As for the taste of the cheese, I would have to say that I would definitely try it again. It was a bit different but that's to be expected. It was far from horrible though! I would love to get my hands on their tomato cayenne cheese though because honestly, I think that would be even better for a grilled cheese!

So if you're looking to find a non-dairy vegan cheese alternative, definitely give Chao cheese a try! I'd have to say that it's certainly the best I have tried so far! You can find out where to purchase it from here!


Living Proof - Perfect Hair Day: Review.

Today I thought I'd do a quick little post to share with you what has been my go-to for hair care as of late, as well as to give my thoughts on the products. I like to switch it up from time to time when it comes to bath & body products and recently, I was testing out the Perfect Hair Day range from Living Proof.

I picked up the small 2oz travel size duo from Sephora awhile back. Honestly, I was thinking that if I didn't like the products then at least I wasn't stuck with a huge bottle of product I didn't want to use! The size also makes them perfect for travel and for a product junkie like myself, its nice that they don't take up too much room in the shower.

I could see how for some, the smell might not be their cup of tea, but personally I enjoyed it. I felt like the pair of products worked really well together. They didn't irritate my scalp (which can be an issue for me) and they didn't leave my hair feeling dried out either. I found that my hair was a lot easier to manage when blow-drying after using this pair, + the styling treatment that came along with them. However, as for the claim that they keep your hair cleaner, longer? I would have to disagree. I didn't notice any difference when using these compared to any other shampoo or conditioner I've used in the past. 

Now down to the nitty gritty. This set ticks many of the boxes I look for as they are silicone free and free of sulfates. They're also cruelty-free which is something I strive for, but am currently not doing 100%. However the price is a bit off-putting if I'm honest. This set retailed for $29 (including the styling product) at Sephora. I've already re-purchased another set that comes with a couple other products from the range, which I'll be trying out in the future. Right now I'm trying a different brand that is MUCH cheaper! Overall though, I would certainly recommend trying out this line if you're looking for a new shampoo and conditioner!

As always, all products are purchased with my own money. Any products provided for review will be noted. If you have a product you would like to see reviewed, please let me know in the comments!


#OptOutside - A Better Black Friday

Shopping admittedly might be one of my favorite activities. I'm a lover of a good deal. A good sale excites me. So, it might come as a surprise that I am advocating the boycott of a day theoretically all about getting amazing deals. While I do love some good ol' retail therapy, and I have gone out on Black Friday a few times in the past, I have seen how ridiculous the event has become. When I first went out on Black Friday, it was actually on...Friday (how crazy!). Now it has infringed upon Thanksgiving so much that it might as well be Black Thursday. I personally don't think any deal is good enough to justify taking millions of employees away from their families on Thanksgiving. (To be honest, I find that the better deals are online anyway!)

So given my thoughts on the matter, I was extremely happy when I received an email from REI announcing their plan to close all of their 143 stores on Black Friday and give every employee a paid day off. Rather than going out in the wee hours of the morning to shop, they are encouraging everyone to instead, #OptOutside. I am a full supporter of this campaign, and I'm not alone: over 700,000 people have announced that they too, are going to #OptOutside. So I'm writing this post to encourage everyone to join in and do the same!

There are plenty of things you can do instead of walking the malls of Black Friday. Go for a walk around your neighborhood! Take a weekend camping trip! Check out a nearby park! Go hiking...biking...explore a place you've never been before....the options are limitless!

You can join in the campaign by using the hashtag #OptOutside, and you can grab one of these nifty images to share on social media here!

What will you be doing on Black Friday? Will you #OptOutside?