Clinique 10 Day Cleanse Review

One of the things I like the most about beauty stores in the United States is Freebies! It’s one of the easiest and guaranteed ways a customer or potential customer will walk out of a store smiling.  On that beautiful Thursday, I was that girl when I walked out of Macy’s with a little bag of trinkets including a 10 Day Cleanse Kit.   Having this, I decided to skip my regular cleanse routine of natural and commercial products, to this simple 3 step process for the next 10 consecutive days.  I was nervous and excited to try this and couldn’t believe I was trusting my skin to a brand I hadn’t ever used for cleansing.

This skin care trio was specific to combination/oily skin and featured has a liquid facial soap, clarifying lotion and moisturizing gel.  Ranging in size and texture, I liked the fact that the items came in a cute little box with an instructional booklet on ingredients and manners of usage so I didn’t have to do much research on what to do.  Here is my review of the products:

Pros

  • I loved the color distinction between each item, which helped to keep things succinct

  • There was still an average of 50% product remaining in the bottle after the 10 days which was a pleasant surprise.  Although the bottle sizes did look deceiving tiny, I’m still using it many days later

  • It only takes an American dime per product use, twice per day, on my face.  

  • Each product had a smooth, texture and a pure feel

  • My skin had become clearer and retained its smooth texture during these 3 days

  • Each item had a clean almost floral scent that was inviting and gave me a little boost when I used it

Cons

  • The Clarifying lotion was the most difficult to use.  With no further instructions than use twice per day, I had to discover online that it was supposed to be used as a toner, which involved dabbing it onto a cotton ball and lightly sweeping it across the face.  I actually had a much better result of carefully placing spots of the lotion on my face , massaging in using a circular motion and allowing it to absorb in.

  • At times, the facial cleanser was not able to remove eyeliner product from my eyes, but once the area was washed a second time, it would  be completely removed

Overall Score: 4 out of 5

Overall I was thoroughly impressed with this system.  I normally don’t follow a routine of products from the same brand, and prefer to use mostly natural products, but I do understand the advantages of not mixing items.  My face felt and looked very clean in a pure way and rarely did I have to reapply.  The clarifying lotion took the place of my usual apple cider vinegar toner and did so with positive results.  I am considering buying the full size products of this system and using it as my regular routine.  I would recommend liquid facial cleansers to anyone as it can be massaged easier onto the skin, doesn’t clog pores or irritate the skin due to the lack of exfoliators.  It’s also important to always moisturize your face after it’s cleanse as this will help to rehydrate your skin.

I give Clinique two thumbs up on this one! How many steps are in your facial cleansing routine?  Do you prefer bar or liquid cleanser?  

XoX,

Grab-and-Go Salad

Hello Lovely,

Grab-And-Go Salad

Rushing through the usual morning routine, we often have to choose between healthy and fast when it comes to our meals: especially lunch.  An easy way to combine both ideals is to prep a salad the night before and place it where you can have quick access the next day.  Discovering the many uses of mason jars and my preference for delicious salads, I made a grab and go salad that did not disappoint.  Using the basic lettuce and tomatoes, you can add fun ingredients such as cranberries, carrots , celery and cheese with the added protein of chicken , turkey or ham.  One of the best parts of this salad: Shaking it up!  By adding a vinaigrette based dressing the night before or right before eating the salad, you can quickly combine the salad and dressing in 3 – 4 quick shakes.

Ingredients

1 (2 cup) Mason Jar

½ head of lettuce, thinly sliced or chopped

5 grape tomatoes

¼ cup shredded carrots

Sliced chicken

 

Directions: Layer the ingredients in the mason jar, placing the lettuce on the bottom, then carrots, chicken and tomatoes.  This method will allow for easy storage.  You can add or substitute ingredients to make the salad heartier and more colorful.  Great additions would be Italian seasoning, cheese dried fruits and vegetables (sliced bell peppers).  After sealing tightly, place salad in the fridge until the next day.  For the salad dressing you can place on top the night before or add it right before youre ready to eat it.  Shake the closed jar with dressing for easy distribution and full flavor.

What are your favorite salad ingredients and dressing?

XoX,

How To Meal Plan - First Attempt

Hello Lovely,

We all understand the daily struggle of finding a quick meal that’s tasty, filling and wholesome; especially when we feel our stomach grumble or when the lunchtime urge hits.   Wouldn’t we all want to be able to have a dish that meets these needs and be healthy for us? I couldn’t agree more!  Thinking on this notion, I considered meal planning which has really become a hot trend throughout 2016.  The ultimate goal of meal planning (MP) is having ready-made meals at your fingertips that allow you to know your ingredients, eat the right portions and remove the guilt of eating poorly when you’re caught up in the moment of a hunger pang! To start off, I viewed many meal options on Pinterest as I’m not the type to eat the same dish two days in a row.  Thankfully a friend suggested a local all-in-one store (AID on Wulff Road), which gave me a great deal on food containers.  I was able to purchase seven containers at roughly $2 each.  A short time later, I strolled down the grocery aisles with my shopping list in tow, in search of fresh and nutritious ingredients.  I’m happy to say I walked out satisfied and with a full trolley.

In under 2 hours, I was able to make the following lunch items for my first week of meal planning:

Entrees:

Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo pasta

Ground turkey Chili (with butternut squash and black beans)

Spinach and Cheese Quiche

Sides:

Green beans and carrots

2 varieties of green salad (using green leaf lettuce)

Balsamic Cucumber and Chickpea Salad

Note: In addition to the items above, I will include a fruit throughout the day (peach, nectarine, banana or apple) to help curb cravings.  I will also mix and match entrees with other sides to keep it interesting.

For MP rookies like me, here are a few quick tips for planning your week (or next 30 days):

  1. Search Weekly for recipes to prevent boredom

  2. Ask your spouse (or significant other) which foods they like to eat

  3. Keep it simple but delicious

  4. Plan for Leftovers

  5. Select a Shopping Day & List (and stick to it!)

  6. Prep Food as soon as you come from the store (or the day before you begin following your MP schedule)

To make your meal planning even easier, download the free weekly printable here.  

I’m excited to begin my MP this week and look forward to telling you about it.  Share your meal plan journey with us! What are your favorite ingredients for a meal plan?  Do you have any planning tips? How was your meal plan experience?

XoX,

 

Whole Foods Recap: A Highlight for the Foodie Who’s Natural at Heart

Hello Lovely,

Known for its wide selection of natural and organic ingredients including seeds, kernels and rice (available in easy to use dispensers), Whole Foods has become a household name amongst those looking for clean, healthy eating and living.  Hearing about it from friends and also viewing it on many episodes of Top Chef (they purchase most grocery items from there), I’ve long awaited my visit to this infamous brand.  During my Miami trip, I was elated to know that there was Whole Foods in walking distance.  I walked through the front door, took a deep breath and inhaled the smell of fresh, organic flavors. I was warmly greeted by the wide selection of colourful, bright flowers that awakened the store.  These connected to me so greatly that I purchased a small bouquet of Football Moms (this is the actual name of the flower, crazy right?? :) ) to brighten my room. I first noticed the area where a selection of rice, beans, peas and quinoa was located.  It was the second busiest area of the store (the food area was the first) as persons eagerly filled bags of garden-fresh items. I was fascinated with the variety and did my best to manoeuvre out of the way of anxious patrons.  I also really appreciated the three types of honey that were also available for persons to purchase the exact amount needed.   I’ve always liked the snack bars made by Kashi Go Lean and those as well as other brands were available at $1.49, the La Terra Brand chips were two for $6.99 and they even had meat bars! The main ingredients Bison, Venison, Chicken, Beef and Turkey with infused flavors of Thai, cranberry, rosemary, etc.  I purchased two Wagyu Beef and Chicken but after two bites of the beef, I sincerely regretted it.  This proved that fresh is always better!

The food selection was amazing with dishes from around the world: Eggplant Parmesan, Lo Mein, Lasagna, Lobster Bisque, etc. I tried the spinach, rosemary cake stuffed with blue cheese and it was surprisingly filling for such a small size. I also liked their desserts including select vegan and gluten free items.  I purchased a carrot cake cupcake which was moist and tasty without being too sweet.  The natural soaps were pricey but had an amazing scent which flowed through the aisle.  

I respect what the Whole Foods brand stands for, their ideal for quality, organic products, how they value their customers and seek to only provide the best.  With positive posters and statements throughout the store, one can’t resist feeling appreciated.  Although I didn’t get to explore the store as much as I wanted to , I’m glad that I experienced the visit.  

P.S.The flowers added a touch of elegance and brightness to my room and fit perfectly in the accompanying mason jar.

What’s your Whole Foods highlight?  Have you tried their vegan desserts? Tell us your recommendation for my next Whole Foods visit.

XoX,

A Step into Fitness - Let’s Race for the Cure!

Hello Lovely,

If you’re looking for a great running start to your fitness routine, the Susan G. Komen Bahamas Race for the Cure® 5K is one of the best!  On Saturday January 14th, Sunshine Insurance in its sixth running and partnership with the Susan G. Komen, held this highly anticipated event.  Over 1250 individuals from all ages and sectors participated and volunteered throughout the event in high numbers.  The streets were full of excitement, energy and vigor from start to finish, with water stops and motivational groups encouraging the avid runners and walkers along the route.

I jogged along the 3.1 mile path cheering on my colleagues and friends and was very happy to know that I completed the route in a satisfactory time.  The top two (2) winners, male and female completed the race in under 18 minutes and were awarded medals and recognition for their accomplishment.

One aspect that I’ve always appreciated after the Run is the Freebies!  This year did not disappoint as there were:

  • Frozen fruit popsicles (mango and pineapple) and ice cream bars - Scotiabank Bahamas

  • Free Coffee (Decaf, Regular) – Dunkin Donuts

  • Assorted Ice Cream and Sorbet - Ben & Jerry’s, Atlantis

  • Regular and Mineral Water – Coca Cola

  • Lignum Lounge Passes Raffle – Nassau Airport Development companies

  • Assorted fruits and shakes as well as raffles and giveaways

This year, Sunshine Insurance gave also gave medals for all individuals who completed the Run, which adds a sense of motivation and accomplishment for their efforts.  It was a very nice touch!

An always emotional and momentous aspect of the ceremony is seeing my friend and many other cancer survivors who stood on the stage in solidarity as symbols of strength and courage.  This was added with the personal touch of a rose, manicure, massage and food for all survivors.  

The musical entertainment had several acts inclusive of Lady E who spoke on her personal experience with cancer when a relative was diagnosed near the end of 2016, and thus this is truly an event close to her heart. She as well as the other artists kept the crowd hyped and dancing away.

The Run and after event was enjoyed by all and with this marking my 2nd consecutive year participating, I am planning on making this an annual event.  For anyone looking to ease into a fitness routine for the New Year, continue their workout regime or support the Cure, this is an excellent choice.

XoX,

Were you at the Race for the Cure this year? Are you a runner or walker? Which freebies did you enjoy?

Cucumber Lemon Lime Infused Water

Hello Lovely,

Infused water boasts the benefits of boosted metabolism, detoxification and a much needed dose of re-hydration throughout the day instead of the usual afternoon grogginess.  But what is infused water?  It’s an infusion of fruits and vegetables which may result in absorption of vitamins.  It’s a tasty alternative to plain H20 and even more fun to make!  With blends fresh herbs (basil, mint) and fruit options (raspberry, lemon and strawberry), the possibilities are endless and fun!

A light in flavor but effective recipe involves the humble cucumber.  We all know the digestive benefits of Citric acid and vitamin C found in lemon and lime, but cucumber also has two important components for digestion, namely water and fibre.  By combining these three into an 8oz. glass of water, you are detoxing your body in a refreshing and all natural way.

Cucumber Lemon Lime Infused Water

Ingredients

  • 8 slices each of fresh cucumber

  • 5 slices of fresh lemon

  • 3 slices of fresh lime

  • 1 8 oz glass

  • 7 oz water

Directions:

  1. Place sliced fruits into the glass and add 7 oz. of cold water.  Mix for 2 – 3 minutes and let settle.

  2. For the best results, let the infused water sit for 1- 2 hours room temperature or 3-4 in the fridge for optimum flavor.  The benefits of citrus is that they infuse quickly and can be ready in minutes.

  3. After awaiting the desired time you can place the water in a bottle if you’re on the go or in a glass pitcher to serve to guests.  I’m sure your friends would like to try this fruity concoction also!  I’ve chosen the amount of slices based on the flavor I want infused the most.  You can increase the size and amount of slices to your liking.

Remember, fresh fruit items should be removed from the water, if it is not being consumed that day to avoid decomposition.

Have you ever tried infused water? What is your favourite ingredient? Share with us your latest recipe

Sweet Potato Breakfast Boat

Hello Lovely,

Brunch began trending quite a bit since mid-2016 and restaurants have responded with delicious, layered dishes like stuffed French toast, quiche and hashes; with mimosas by the dozens! Although planning brunch outings with friends is always fun (#squadgoals), there’s nothing like having a comforting brunch meal while you’re in your PJs.  This recipe combines the clean eating of Paleo ingredients and the heartiness of a good meal.  Follow this recipe and wow your house guests on their next visit.

Sweet Potato Breakfast Boat

Ingredients

  • 1 large sweet potato

  • ½ tsp. olive oil

  • 2 eggs

  • A few sprigs of parsley, freshly chopped for garnish

  • Sea salt & Ground black pepper

  • 9” baking dish

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, be sure not to go over 15 minutes.

  2. Wash the sweet potato under running water and dry thoroughly. Place potato in a baking dish, rub with olive oil, and sprinkle with sea salt.  Be sure to poke holes in the potato using a fork which will assist in a faster baking process.

  3. Place pan on the center rack (if possible) of the preheated oven and bake for about 40 minutes, or until tender. Time will vary depending on the size of your sweet potato.

  4. Once tender, remove the potato from the oven, and halve lengthwise. Using a tablespoon or small curved knife, carefully carve out the center of each half.  Ensure that the hole is as big as the estimated size of your eggs.

  5. Crack the eggs into a small bowl and pour into the hole, OR, scoop the egg yoke and some of the egg white into the potato using a tablespoon.  I used the latter method and found it to be easier and less messy. Season with salt and pepper.

  6. Place the potato halves back into the baking dish and into the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the eggs are cooked to your liking.

  7. Remove from the oven and serve. Top with butter, hollandaise or a sriracha sauce for added flavor and garnish with fresh parsley.

This recipe is even more fun when you make multiple servings and mix n’ match toppings! A poached egg effect allows the egg yolk to provide a smooth thick natural sauce to the sweet potato with no topping necessary!

What is your favourite brunch item?  Do you like poached eggs? Share your last brunch experience with us!

XoX,

Our Favourite Moments of 2016

Hello Lovely,

What a great year 2016 has been! Sure there were some hurtful moments, and days we’d rather forget, but hopefully you’re like us and have more blessings to count than regrets. We hope you met all of your New Year’s Resolutions, tried new things and discovered new passions. If you didn’t, don’t worry, that’s what 2017 is for! But before we sign off on 2016, Mechelle and I would like to share our 8 favourite moments of the year (in no particular order of course) for a grand total of 16 awesome moments of 2016!

·        I started off this year as a solo blogger. I did everything by myself for the blog and to be honest it was beginning to get a little tiresome. I was beginning to guest blog for others so I was starting to feel stretched thin. So in September, when Mechelle reached out to me, expressing her interest in joining the team, I was relieved to say the least! We’ve had fun getting to know each other and bringing you lots of laughter and helpful tips these past three months.

·        In May I went to St. Croix to meet my boyfriend’s mother. He hadn’t been home in about ten years so this trip was really significant for him. I had fun snorkelling and seeing the sites. We hope to go back someday soon.

·        I got a new job as a Guidance Counsellor and started in August, which was so scary but I love it! I’m finally doing what I want to do and what I’m trained to do. Sure I’m actually trained to be a Marriage & Family Therapist, but Guidance Counselling is great practice for when I’ll be done with my degree.

·        I went to see Hillsong Worship in concert over the summer and it was AMAZING! Kari Jobe was there along with Urban Rescue and at least two other bands. It was a spiritual experience I will never forget!

·        One of my best friend’s gave birth to her second child in March and I fell in love all over again! We had fun doing a glam photo shoot for the baby and she’s even crawling now.

·        I may have lost a few friends this year but I gained so many friends and a deeper understanding of friendship this year. Over the year we hung out and did crazy cool things like paddleboarding at night. Who knew I would be so good at it as a beginner? I guess yoga does pay off!

·        This one is a little sappy, but for my birthday this year, my mum actually bought me a Pepperidge farm cake, and together with my step-dad she sang me happy birthday. We haven’t done this since my 16th birthday so this was a really special feeling for me.

·        And of course, how can I forget the release of my Sweets & Sips eBook? This book took months of preparation. I’m planning on expanding and improving the book to continue giving you guys the best in recipes for entertaining, whether it’s small or large groups! Thank you so much for being a part of the Life By Olivia family this year!

·      

·        Self-Empowerment: I was never really a fan of audio books as I love to feel the firmness and bendability of the paper between my fingers.  However, through my hubby, I discovered how convenient and enlightening audiobooks can be!   During early morning drives and late afternoon pickups, CDs would play and inspire through the sound waves.  We listened to such books as ‘The Magic of Believing’, ‘The Secret’ as well as ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad’.  I found a new appreciation for these books and encourage persons who are often on the move or usually use cell phones for everything but enjoy learning.

·        Reading Retake – As a kid I grew up on Nancy Drew (my mom’s favourite) Babysitter’s Club and Danielle Steel with a few other novelists in between.  This year I rediscovered my love of reading through the fictional crime genre.  Such books as ‘The 2 Minute Rule’ and ‘T is for Trespass’ have kept me on the edge of my seat and on the hunt for the real culprit.  I will continue to venture into other genres throughout 2017.

·        The Joy of Writing – This has always been in my deepest, easiest and most freeing outlet.  Being a part of the Life by Olivia blog is aligned with my 2016 goal of getting back into writing.  I’ve expanded beyond my usual pieces and have enjoyed the feedback from friends and viewers.  Thank you to everyone who have and continue to support me.  There are more posts to come!

·        Nail Art is the Best!  I’ve always loved my nails, kept them long and enjoyed painting them but this year I fell in love with nail art.  I’m talking rhinestones, studs, Swarovski crystal and gold beads.  The designs are edgy and fun to get done and beautiful to look at!  Christmas is around the corner and I can’t wait to try a new design (I’m thinking red!).

·        The Great Outdoors – Being outside and in the natural can be so revitalizing! Over the weekend I tried yoga on the beach and it was very rewarding.  The crashing of the waves, long cool breeze and sand in between my toes was everything.  It’s a feeling that’s indescribable but refreshing.  The beach will be my newest spot for fitness and relaxation.

·        Being Green is uplifting - Gardening is inspiring and gives me a brief moment to breathe in the fresh air and step away from the daily functions of home.  Seeing the plants grow and being a part of new life is very rewarding!  Selecting and caring for the plants this year gave me a good feeling.  Unfortunately they were removed and destroyed by Hurricane Matthew, however 2017 will see new plants and more peaceful gardening moments.

·        Got me Glassware!  I love roasting vegetables: mainly butternut squash, pumpkin and sweet potatoes (orange and white).  The flavour is intense and goes very well with simple seasonings and/or herbs such as salt, thyme or rosemary, with a spot of butter.  My beau gifted me with a glassware 6 piece set that is AMAZING!  So far I’ve done baked pork chops, roasted vegetables and pizza stuffed chicken which all turned out fabulously.  Glass is easier to clean than metals pans, doesn’t scratch but it’s heavier.   Keep these points in mind when searching for new cook/bakeware and happy cooking!

·        Let’s get Upgraded – I’ve completed about 5 different forms of professional training throughout this year which hasn’t come without sleepless nights, zombie days and pushing my physical and mental capacity beyond their breaking points.  It was ALL worth it! I am more accomplished, open-minded and wiser for the sacrifices that I’ve made and information that I’ve learned.  I encourage anyone to not be afraid to grow and to know that your next step, is a big move towards a brighter and more fulfilling future.  You can do it!

Mechelle doesn’t have any resolutions for 2017 but she does believe in yearly goals and whole lifestyle changes which adds to her daily growth (e.g. creating a vision board). For me, I have decided to take up gardening as it is something I have always wanted to do but fear that everything I touch dies. With one of my best friends back home, and her mum an avid gardener, I hope to learn a lot from her. I’m also planning on travelling somewhere new again this year. This year it was to St. Croix, and next year I hope to go to any country where the first language is not English. Travelling is a huge passion of mine so I want to see as much of the world as possible.

What are your plans for the New Year? Do you make resolutions or do you skip it? Share with us your dreams for the New Year in the comment section below. We’d love to hear from you!

Friday Favourites

Hello Lovely,

Our beautiful Bahamaland was impacted by the monstrous Hurricane Matthew this week.  Amidst the hustle & bustle of restoration for this natural disaster in the aftermath, there were a few bright spots along the way.  Here are my top 5 moments of the week!

1. Taken to Cloud Nine –This for both the chocoholic and non-chocoholic alike, as the smooth milk chocolate wafers are accented with hints of hazelnut flavor.  A colleague had shared how wonderful this product tasted and this week I spotted out the corner of my eye.  Being a fan of nutty products, Hazelnut was the flavor of choice.  At first bite, the multilayered wafers and hazelnut crème was a mix of soft and crispy.  i.e. It was gone in minutes :-D  If you haven’t tried the Cloud 9 chocolate wafer bars, you’ve definitely gotta try this chocolate treat.

2. Yummy Fresh Fruits – This week I enjoyed the rewards of good/meticulous grocery shopping.  Solomon’s had a great special on red Plums, Peaches and Nectarines.  These are 3 fruits that can be firm but juicy, of which you look for no blemishes, marks or rotting.  I scanned feverishly for the perfect pairs and was truly rewarded.  Each one was firm and sweet with the right amount of juice.  It truly was a plus to my day.

3. Seeing ‘Invite Intrigue’ in person – Mac’s lipsticks are top competition and I know many ladies who will stop at nothing to look FAB-BOO-LUS.  A colleague walked in wearing this pink-fuchsia shade.  Can you say WOW?!? I had to know what it was! Invite Intrigue , a part of the Blue Nectar collection which is all about mystery and temptation, is a matte shade that is sure to add pop to your lips. My colleague raved “It glides on smooth and is a perfect colour to rock this fall.”  I concur ladies!

4. Connecting with family – In times of need there’s nothing as binding or as history making as spending time with family (in laws included).  There were old island stories, drinks and jokes shared around the pool as relatives gathered around.  Even the puppy had island roots as he was rescued from Eleuthera (Hi Anejo!).  It was a good reminder that Family is everything.

5. 10 Day aged Pigeon – Wednesday’s episode of Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmerman in Cork, Ireland featured 10 day aged pigeon which was cooked in a specialised millennial butter and smoked by handpicked and dried oak, in a small sealed glass container.  This resulted in a delicate dish both in appearance and from description. I was blown away with the finesse, time and quality ingredients included in this dish. I admire chefs who put passion and intuition into their food and was impressed with the process.  I may not be adventurous enough to taste it but I will admire the view.

What were your favourite moments of the week? We'd love to hear from you in the comment section below!

XoX,

Mechelle