Lately, I’ve tried…

61ilu9zqz6L._SL1000_With my Thrive Market trial subscription and Amazon Prime, I’ve gotten a bit adventurous with snacks and health products. (Affiliate links):

  • Kettle Brand Potato Pepperoncini Flavour – I love Kettle chips. They’re thick and crunchy and the flavours are always pretty bold. I chose these because I LOVE their jalapeño. These don’t really deliver on the pepper taste, but they’re still really interesting. Imagine a really bold, spicy sour cream and onion. It’s neat, but definitely not for everyone.
  • Epic Bar : Bison, Bacon and Cranberry – These were game-changers for me. These have no nitrates, but they taste like pickled sausages (which I love.) The cranberry is a great note in the mix. These are the first “paleo” snack I’ve been jazzed on.
  • Tanka Buffalo Cranberry Bites – These are actually more what I expected the Epic bars to be! These are more of a dry jerky with big, plump dried cranberries in it. I actually liked these LESS, but my boyfriend liked them MORE. Go figure!
  • Ginger People Ginger Chews – These are wild! The ingredients: cane sugar, ginger, tapioca starch. They’re sticky if you chomp into them. They’ve got a STRONG ginger taste. They’re very spicy and totally delicious to me.
  • Justin’s Mini Peanut Butter Cups, Dark Chocolate – These made me feel like I’d been lied to all my life. The dark chocolate is just perfectly bitter. The more natural peanut butter is smoother and delightful.
  • Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay – Bentonite clay has gotten a lot of play on Pinterest lately. I decided to give this a try with apple cider vinegar as a face mask. I’m not super sure it was a game-changer for my complexion, but I totally buy that clay is great for your skin, so I’ll stick with it. It’s also nice to be able to mix my mask on my own.
  • Badger Balm Sore Muscle Rub – I’ve been using Icy Hot and the smell is driving my boyfriend nuts. So I decided to give this a try. The scent is ginger and cayenne, so I feel like I smell like gingerbread… which is much preferred to menthol for me. I like it, but part of the instructions is to rub this into the sore muscle. If you can’t reach a muscle to really work it in, it’s not as helpful.
  • Madhava Organic Honey Pure & Raw – My first comment on this honey was that it tastes more like sorghum, which is a 10/10 win for me.

Tried anything health kicky lately?

Talking about shopping addiction

bagConfession time? I’ve got a shopping problem. And I happen to think they’re not that uncommon.

While I wouldn’t say my shopping is an all-out addiction, it’s definitely an activity I have to monitor. I’ve never gone buck wild and wracked up a ton of debt, mostly because I wasn’t able to get a credit card until I was well-aware of my problem. But for someone with access to real cashflow, I can see how easy it would be to have a serious shopping problem.

I think shopping addiction (or “reinforced shopping”, so-called because the purchase is reinforced by a swell of endorphins and dopamine) is something we don’t talk about much because it seems like a silly rich girl problem… which, while being totally reductive to the problems of women who happen to be rich, is in my experience totally untrue. In fact, I often find that shopping is more momentarily rewarding for people who are broke.

Second, I think reinforced shopping is something just about every person has done at some point in their lives. We all know the story, right? “Retail therapy”. “Treat yo self”. Buying something indulgent, just to feel fance. Buying something you really don’t need, just to get to shop, just to get to have something special. Feeling great immediately afterwards… but then coming back to reality later and realizing, hey, I kinda wish I had that money back. Maybe you’ve returned the thing or, more commonly, found the thing in the back of your closet two years later, unused and unneeded.

We all shop to a little bit of excess. But some of us know that feeling all too well, all too often.

Several years ago, my life was in a bit of a slump. I finally had disposable income, but I was in a very weird place, emotionally. I had a job that other people would eagerly call a career, but I was making a third of what my partner at the time was pulling in. The fact that my income was not only (by comparison to a “real adult”) small and limp, it was completely unnecessary. I wasn’t needed for bills or savings. My contribution was disposable.

And so I disposed of it.

I told myself I was building a business wardrobe, but really I was buying a ton of very inexpensive, poor quality clothes, accessories and shoes. Part of me knew I needed to put it toward savings, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. It felt so delicious to put my money towards a Le Creuset cooker, desk accessories, gifts… it was so much more rewarding emotionally than the thought of saving my money for… for what? For a home? I already had one. For a car? I’d just lease one when the time came. For my future? What future?

My future wasn’t tangible. Saved money wasn’t tangible. Overpriced shit? That was something I could touch, get compliments on, show off, share with friends. Overpriced shit gave me some illusion of status, some feeling of being interesting or worthy of some attention. It gave me a sense of actually doing something–at the time, we never went out or did anything with our time. Shopping was me time, time to be alone and I could feel however I wanted–irrationally exuberant or lost in thought or angry waffle and nobody would comment or ask me about it or NEED ME. I was just shopping.

When I torpedoed my relationship, I was suddenly on the hook for moving expenses, deposits on rent, gas, electricity. I was suddenly on my own. I suddenly needed those savings I didn’t have. But shopping “helped” me then, too. New home? I need a new mop! Towels! Hell, let’s get some cats!

When I overdrew my account to buy a present for a friend, everything skidded to a halt.

I’d set my card up to not LET me overdraw my account, and I’d set it up to pull anything that overdrew from my miniscule savings account. But the bank didn’t do that. I caught it before there were any overdraft fees, but I realized this was my crisis point. I barely had enough in savings to cover rent and utilities. I was living paycheck-to-paycheck, I realized. AND POORLY. I was setting myself up for a very frustrating financial life.

All because I was letting shopping be my single source of enjoyment.

I’d like to say I cut myself off, but that would be a lie. Instead, I let my reinforced shopping take a different shape. Instead of blowing my money on stuff, I blew it on food. But this was more measured and limited (after all, there’s only so much I can eat!) So it worked for me for a while. When my boyfriend came along, he started to cook more for me, so my savings grew and grew. When we moved, I realized I had WAY too much crap. When my car turned out to be an expensive headache, I realized I needed to buckle down and really adult-up. When I had an organ removed, I knew I had to pay my bills, so my purse strings tightened further.

I still have trouble with shopping. Y’all know that I drop some dollars for mystery boxes. And shopping gives me that little thrill. But I contain it. I measure it out. If I allow myself a splurge here, I cut myself off over there. But it’s hard. I have a habit of lying about how much I spent, even though I know I should be proud of how I’m keeping it in check. And I still find myself window shopping the internet when I’m bored or sad or lonely. And I still look at the things other people have and feel frustrated and deprived, like I just don’t measure up. But I’m working on it.

I’ve seen a lot of friends post lately about reinforced shopping. My encouragement for everyone is to always measure shopping. Be honest with yourself–and others–about how much you spend. If you feel the urge to shop coming on, “shop” through the things you already own; I bet you’ve already got something you’re not using that will feel brand new. Try small, contained DIY projects to freshen up things you already have that are a bit neglected. Rather than shopping, meet friends at your home or theirs and cook dinner together, pamper yourselves or watch a movie… but be sure to talk about them feels that have got you wanting to shop. And most importantly? You matter. Without all the stuff, without any window dressing. You’re awesome! Keep your head up and take comfort knowing you’re not alone.

Five Mother’s Day gifts that you’re going to want to steal

I got my mom something pretty cool this year, but I keep running across items that would be wonderful for moms (or anybody!) who needs a little cheer right now. I know it’s supposed to be a day just for your mom, but I’m a big supporter of the “It Takes a Village” style of parenting, and I feel like there are a lot of people out there who deserve to be celebrated for all the mothering they do.

But also, some of this stuff is awesome. If you need a treat… well, I won’t tell if you don’t.

 

The Mother's Day Divine Set from Chocomize ($40)

The Mother’s Day Divine Set from Chocomize ($40)

The Mother’s Day Divine Set: For $40 ($38 with coupon code MOM… with free shipping!) you’ll get an 8-piece assortment of truffles, a heart-shaped chocolate bar, a dark chocolate bar (with gold flakes!) and 6 macarons. Separately from Chocomize, the value of this box is around $51, so this coupon makes this a nice little discount. If you’re unfamiliar with Chocomize, you can build a custom chocolate bar with a variety of toppings (including gummy bears, Pop Rocks, pepper, crystallized rose petals, bacon and more!)

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Early Holiday Window Shopping

I do my Christmas shopping as much in advance as possible. In addition to preventing total budget meltdown, it means I get to avoid holiday traffic. And that’s magical.
I also just did ads for Black Friday and I’m working on a holiday gift guide at work, so trust me.  It’s seasonal!

I’m a notorious internet window shopper, so I figured my powers might be used for good by showing you guys some cool stuff I’ve seen about the interbutts lately. Maybe it’ll inspire some gift ideas for you!

Sephora by OPI Perfect Reds Set – $39
I normally don’t advocate owning an array of the same color. But this kit is clever. You’ve got a playful hot tomato red, a deeper cherry, chunky red glitter, metallic red and a deep wine. That’s pretty much a red for any mood. I haven’t seen any reviews on how these particular shades wear, but Sephora by OPI is usually pretty reliable. Plus, a set of red polish is festive without being something you can only bring out once a year.

More after the jump!

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Mental Closet Organization, and some recommendations

I have a real problem with shopping.

I love to window shop the internet.  I love all the wonderful treasures that the internet shows me and puts just within reach.  I want all the things the internet shows me.  I want them NOW.

I have plenty of stuff right now.  In fact, I have too much stuff.  Stuff has taken over my room, my closet, the hall closet… stuff is everywhere.  I don’t need more stuff.

BUT I WANT IT.

So, I’m just going to lay out the contents of my wardrobe here, mostly to prevent myself from buying a totally adorable coat or a dress I’ll never wear or a blazer, for whatever reason.

I’ve included example shopping links so that I may shop vicariously through the lot of you.

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