With Good Things



It’s been a week into Crunchy Betty’s Honey Challenge, and my skin already is showing SO much improvement! In fact, when I woke up this morning, I had ZERO new blemishes! I still have several acne spots that are healing from past blemishes, but today marks probably the first day since before puberty that I have no new pimples!

(For those new to the “honey challenge,” it’s pretty straightforward: “wash” your face with honey (at least once) daily for two weeks.)

Why Honey
Honey has active enzymes with incredible cleansing, antiseptic, and antibiotic properties. Not only does it fight infection with these properties, but it aids in tissue healing, and helps reduce inflammation and scarring. But wait…there’s more! Honey is also a humectant, keeping skin moisturized without being oily (or overdrying). These benefits only scratch the surface of the wonders of honey!

Choose Raw Honey
Before we go any further, let me emphasize that these enzymatic benefits of honey are mostly destroyed in the pasteurizing process (honey heated on high to purify it). Please make sure that you are choosing honey that is RAW. Look for the words, “raw,” “unpasteurized,” “unheated,” and/or “unfiltered” on the label. (Supermarket labels with “pure” are not the same thing!) Or, if you’d like to go straight to the source, by locally farmed honey and ask the local farmer/beekeeper if they heat and/or filter their honey to ensure you are getting organic, raw honey with all the enzymatic benefits intact.

Getting Down To Business
It’s SO easy! For the honey challenge, I am applying the honey to my makeup-free face. So, if you are doing this at night, remove your makeup as you normally do (like the Oil Cleansing Method) before these steps:

  1. Get your hair off your face (I put mine in a ponytail and use a headband).
  2. Pour a small amount (1/2 teaspoon-ish) onto your palm and gently rub your hands together for a few seconds.
  3. Massage the honey onto your face for a minute or two (a drop or two of water on your hands will make the honey glide over your skin).
  4. Optional: let it sit for 5-10 minutes (let those enzymes go to work).
  5. Rinse with water (I use a warm washcloth to get it all off).

Mix It Up
Once or twice a week, try mixing in baking soda to make a gentle, exfoliating scrub out of the honey cleanse. Last night, I mixed nutmeg into the honey to make a stronger exfoliating scrub/healing mask and after massaging it in to exfoliate, let it sit for about 10 minutes.

My Routine
I have been using Y.S. Organic Bee Farms’ Organic Raw Honey (seen in the image above). Not all raw honey has a creamy, yellow consistency like this, but I’ve never tried it before, so this is the one I chose for the challenge.

At night, I use the OCM to cleanse my makeup off before applying the honey to my face like a mask. I let it sit for about 10 minutes before rinsing off with a warm washcloth. I use straight extra virgin coconut oil as a night moisturizer.

In the morning, I apply the honey in the shower and let it sit while I shampoo and condition my hair, rinsing it off at the end of my shower. I’ve been using pure aloe vera and argan oil as my daytime moisturizer.

I can definitely say that this routine has helped clear up my skin so much in the past week! I can’t wait to get through week two to see how much better this can get! Who would’ve believed that I had the best acne-fighting ingredient in my pantry this whole time?

Who else is having success in the honey challenge?



One of my favorite blogs, Crunchy Betty, is hosting a “Honey Challenge”…washing your face with honey for 2 entire weeks!

I know, that sounds so weird–and scary! When you find out about how amazing effects of honey on your skin, you will be as ready as I am to try! The challenge starts Monday, July 18th, and Crunchy Betty will cover everything we need to know: how to do it, when to do it, and the amazing results…in her post that goes live Monday morning (so no one gets ahead of the game).

What do you need to do to participate? Get your hands on some honey (preferably local raw, organic honey)! For those of you without easy access to such, head on down to the grocery store and at least get you some 100% pure honey before Monday!

Are you ready? Click here on Monday for Crunchy Betty’s Honey Challenge!

Who out there has already tried honey in their skincare routine?



Want the look of flawless skin?BeautyBlender is the key to professional-looking makeup applications! With its elliptical shape and suede finish, BeautyBlender (latex-free & non-allergenic) is the ultimate makeup sponge.

I wet my sponge (squeezing out excess water) before use, and first dot foundation all over my face. Then, I “bounce” (a.k.a. stipple) the BB over my face to blend the foundation in without a trace of edges or cutoff lines. I use the smaller end to blend under my eyes and around my nose. It’s also great for blending concealer over blemishes to create a flawless look.

I’ve found that since using my BB, my skin does not break out as much (because I’m not using my fingers to smooth the makeup over my skin). After every use, I wash my BB with moisturizing antibacterial soap to clean the makeup away and kill any bacteria before placing it on the pedestal to dry for the next use.

The BB 2-pack is a deal, because why pay $19.95 for one, when you can get two for $25.95? With daily use and cleaning, each BB has lasted me 6+ months, so a 2-pack lasts at least a year.

Who else out there is a BeautyBlender fan?



Our previous two posts had us track our spending and analyze our debt…so now that we have our expenses totaled up, it’s time for the next steps in our spending plan.

  1. Record & Total Your Sources Of Income
    Be sure to include any outside sources of income (self-employment, investments, etc.) and notate both the gross (total) income and net (take-home pay) income. It’s important to know exactly how much we make, but for ease of the budget, we are going to use the net income amount in our spending plan.
  2. Subtract Expenses From Income
    Test the first stage of your spending plan by subtracting your monthly expenses and debt payments from your monthly earnings. If your end result is more income than expenses, you are off to a good start! If your expenses put you in the negative, or if your “excess” income is less than you anticipated (remember, we haven’t factored in extra debt payments or (gasp!) savings yet), this is a good time to:
  3. Make Adjustments To Your Expenses
    Go back over each expense and look for places to make cuts. Some quick ways to cut expenses are: cancel your landline, eat out less often, and downgrade your cable subscription. We will look at more creative ways to cut expenses later on, but for now our top priority is to get our spending plan in place and at minimum, to where we are spending less than we make.

OK, step back, and take a deep breath! You’ve completed the most difficult parts of creating a spending plan! Next time, we’re going to learn how to put our spending plan to work for us, but for now…you’ve got the basics down: how to track your spending, analyze your debt, and make adjustments to your expenses in order to stay afloat.

Are you proud of yourself? You should be!



Now that we’ve got our recent spending tracked, it’s time to get a good look at everything we owe, and what interest rates we are carrying with that debt.

  1. Analyze Your Debt
    Once again, we need to pull out all of our bills and statements to find out everything we owe. It might not be pretty, but the sooner we assess the damage, the sooner we can get on track to reduce and eliminate it! If we are going to fight this, we need to know our enemy!

Gather all the information about each debt, including total debt amount, interest rate, minimum/monthly payment, and due date. Create a table or spreadsheet with this information.

Creditor    Balance    Interest Rate    Payment    Due Date   
XYZ Mortgage Co. $123,500 5.5% $879 1st
Student Loan Co. $43,000 3.0% $75 20th
ABC Motors $19,750 6.9% $450 25th
Visa $6,800 18.9% $183 15th
Amex $3,900 23.0% $126 15th
Dept. Store $495 29% $68 1st


Have you accounted for all of your debt? It’s a good idea to contact the 3 major credit bureaus (Equifax,Transunion, and Experian) and ask for a free credit report to make sure that you don’t have any debts in collections or debt you’ve forgotten about. Be sure to check your report for any late payments, or even any incorrect information you may have to dispute.

Now that we’ve laid out all of our debt and gathered information needed for our plan of attack, we need to commit to eliminating that debt! (New rule: don’t add to your debt!) Ready for the next step of our spending plan?

What have you discovered about yourself in this step?



Everyone from millionaires to paycheck-to-paycheck spenders should have a spending plan. A spending plan will help you get out (and stay out) of debt, save for the future, and achieve your financial goals. Don’t know how to get started? Here are the first steps to get you on your way to financial freedom using a spending plan:

  1. Track Your Spending
    This is probably one of the most important pieces of putting together a spending plan or budget! If you don’t know where your money is going, how can you make a plan for it? Now, for those of you tempted to cheat and either just “estimate” your spending, or to start cutting back on spending just to make it look good on your statement…don’t!

The best way to track your spending is to gather up your past 2-3 months financial statements (bank accounts, credit cards, etc.) and use them to compile your recent spending habits. This way, you will get an honest, full look at everything you’ve spent recently and have unaltered data to work with.

You don’t have buy new financial software to manage your spending plan; there are plenty of free sites (like Mint.com), that will automatically retrieve your transactions and categorize them for you. Be aware that you will have to manually adjust some of the automatic categorizations. For example, if you shopped at Target and bought a few groceries, a pair of shoes, and a bottle of shampoo, Mint.com might categorize the entire purchase as “shopping” and you’ll have to tell it that you spent $23.64 on groceries, $18.95 on clothes, and $3.95 on personal care.

Now, I realize that since we are looking at transactions from the past month or two, you might not remember how much you spent on groceries, clothes, and personal care on that particular trip to Target. (New rule going forward: keep all receipts!) The main purpose of this step is to get a handle on how much you spend on a regular basis (even if you can’t put it in a specific category). If you are spending more money than you make, it doesn’t really matter if it was shoes or shampoo, you need to be aware of your spending habits in order to make changes to those habits.

After you get your recent spending totaled and (mostly) categorized…are you surprised by any of the numbers? Do you spend more on lunch during the workweek than you thought you did? Are you wincing at how much your credit card payments are? Did you tithe at all? The results of this exercise can truly be eye-opening! Don’t cry (just yet)…we’re going to take this data and use it in the next steps of our spending plan.

What have you learned about yourself from tracking your spending habits?



It’s been several months since I decided to try out organic skincare, or more specifically skincare with organic oils. Not only do I have more room in my bathroom cabinet (and my wallet), I have to say that my skin has never looked and felt better!

What I was using before (insert cringes here):

  • Sephora Eye Makeup Remover
  • Pond’s Cold Cream Cleanser
  • Olay Night Cream
  • Neutrogena Microclear Acne Stress-Control Hydrating Treatment
  • Nivea Q10 Eye Cream
  • Clean & Clear Acne Spot Treatment

My current (organic) skincare routine:

  • Extra virgin coconut oil(as eye makeup remover & eye cream)
  • My oil cleansing blend (castor oil, grapeseed oil, apricot oil, essential oils)
  • Argan oil & tea tree oil (as moisturizer & acne spot treatment)

So much more streamlined and less irritating than all those chemicals I was putting on my face before! I can’t say that my acne is 100% cured, but it is 95% better than it ever has been and I am hardly having any breakouts. Plus, I don’t have extremely oily skin with dry patches anymore! My skin is “normal” now and getting smoother every day. I am looking forward to refining my skincare routine and finding more organic DIY beauty recipes to try.

Who else out there is seeing great results from an organic skincare routine?



After getting lost in a tangled web of some amazing blogs last week, I happened to stumble on three different mentions of Renee Harris’ MadeOn Skincare hard lotion. At first, I didn’t pay much attention to it, but by the third mention, I had to check it out. Hard lotion is shaped into a bar (like soap). Your body heat softens the lotion so you can rub it into your skin. Renee at MadeOn Skincare describes her hard lotion this way:

The hard lotion bar has three simple ingredients: shea butter, coconut oil and beeswax. That’s it! Shea butter and coconut oil are known edible emollients. They soften and soothe dry skin and are gentle enough to rub over skin cuts and cracks. The beeswax emulsifies the other two ingredients to create a beautiful combination to smooth your skin. You’ll be surprised to learn that this is all you need to get your hands back to work.”

I fell in love with the premise, and just HAD to try it! When I received my package of MadeOn’s products (I got a couple of BeeSilk bars, an Au Chocolat bar, a Natural lip balm, and a Peppermint lip balm), I literally squealed with excitement (at the mailbox)! I haven’t had a chance to try them all out yet, but everything smells so good! I took the small BeeSilk bar to work today and have already made some hard lotion converts! I’ve even been able to convince my husband to try out the BeeSilk bar. He must like it, too, because he has started to ask me for it on a daily basis!

Update: I’ve been using the hard lotion for a little over a week now, and not only is my skin so smooth and hydrated, I’m still finding out great new uses for it! Hard lotion use #143: relieve sunburn! Hard lotion use #87: soothe bug bite itch!

How has hard lotion changed the way you moisturize?



As the movie buff I imagine myself to be, I truly enjoy watching movies at home. As you would imagine, I do have a “few” gadgets to help facilitate this…but as the frugal shopper I am, I also have to be able to save on home entertainment.

Where We Spend:
TV – We recently purchased a new 46″ LED 1080p TV…for our bedroom. Incredibly, not only did we get a great deal on it at Best Buy, but they had an online sale a few days later, and we saved an additional $35 using their price-match guarantee. We have a 50″ plasma in the living room that we got a good deal on a few years ago.

Xbox 360/Xbox Live – We’ve had our Xbox 360 since 2007, so getting our dollars’ worth on this one. We do subscribe to the Xbox Live service (paid annually to save $$), which gives my husband access to gaming features, Netflix, and ESPN content. We have the Xbox hooked up in the living room.

AppleTV – I got an AppleTV for my birthday ($99) and have really enjoyed it. It’s about the size of a square hockey puck, and not only can I stream most services, but also, YouTube, iTunes, AirPlay with my iPhone, and more (I can also use my iPhone as a remote for the AppleTV).

Where We Save:
Cable – We get the “basic” (first 10 channels) cable subscription…only because spending $9/month on cable saves me $15/month on my internet service.

Netflix/Hulu/Amazon Prime Video – We get most of our television content from streaming services.

DVDs/Blu-Rays – I have over 400 movies (and an Excel spreadsheet of my collection…I’m a nerd, I know), but I have rarely paid “retail” for any of them. Most of my collection comes from places like used book/media stores and pawn shops, where you can get movies for about $2-3 each. The only movies I buy retail are Disney movies, but I find if you buy at Target and Walmart the first few days after release, they are usually about $5 less.

Movie Theaters – Other than trying to find a coupon for tickets, the best thing we do to save is just not go. We probably go to the theater 1-2 times per year at most, and just wait until we can rent from Redbox or get it on Netflix.

Accessories – Whatever you do, don’t get talked into spending an additional $200 on accessories like a TV wall mount and HDMI cables for your new TV while at the store! Go online for these purchases…we got a great low-profile wall mount from Amazon for $20 and6′ HDMI cables from eBay for $3 each.

Of course, there are tons of more ways to save (and even more ways to spend!) on home entertainment, but this is a good summary of how I enjoy movies at home.

How do you save on home entertainment?



I have had super-oily (I’m talking oil slick by 10am), acne-filled skin for years. When I turned 30 this year (shh…don’t tell anyone!), I was still battling the same issues since I was 14. I have tried EVERYTHING from Pro-Activ to Accutane to other prescription pills and creams to get rid of my acne, to no avail. Since going “cold turkey” on all acne medications and treatments about 8 months ago, my skin has improved a bit and has become less oily. Now that I’m using OCM to cleanse, coconut oil to moisturize, argan oil to treat, my skin is amazingly NOT oily anymore, and way less acne-prone. So with all the “progress” I feel I’ve made with my skincare routine, I feel like I now need to overhaul my makeup routine…specifically my foundation.

I’ve been using hard-core non-budge liquid foundations since I started wearing makeup at 15 (Revlon ColorStay has been a staple), and most recently Rimmel Lasting Finish. The ColorStay foundation looks cakey by the end of the day now that I don’t have all this oil keeping it “dewy.” The Lasting Finish foundation is better, but I find that it kind of separates after a few hours, and if I’m not careful, I end up looking splotchy.

I don’t splurge on every single makeup product, especially the ones I go through quickly (foundation, mascara, eyeliner, etc.), which is why I’ve been using drugstore brands of foundation. Unfortunately, the downfall for drugstore makeup is YOU CAN’T TRY IT BEFORE YOU BUY IT! Plus, most drugstores don’t allow returns on cosmetics if it’s been opened. (Which makes it very hard to try new things without going broke!)

This brought me to my favorite store (SEPHORA!! if you didn’t already know) in search of a new foundation formula, because I can try ANYTHING in the store before I buy it, and I can return anything for ANY reason (with receipt) with NO HASSLES! **cue angelic music here** We’ve only just got a Sephora in town (April 8, to be exact), so I’ve only tried one foundation from them so far (Bare Escentuals Matte, which felt sticky on my face after a few hours and migrated into what fine “lines” I have on my face–yucky!!). I felt like today was a good time to try another.

I’ll make today’s Sephora trip short and sweet: the SA recommended I try Lancome Tiente Idole Ultra foundation. At $40 a pop, I was hesitant to try, but because of their sweet return policy, I thought, “what the heck,” and bought it.

About an hour ago, I cleansed my face and applied the new foundation with my BeautyBlender (warning: there’s gonna be an entire post coming up devoted to my BB!). I noticed that it “dried” quickly to a silky finish, and I applied a light dusting of loose powder to set it. So far it feels good (thatswhatshesaid), but I’m wondering if it will become TOO dry and start to feel cakey after several hours. Since it’s almost bedtime, I guess I won’t know the answer to this until Saturday. (I have an event to go to tomorrow directly after work, so trying a new foundation tomorrow is probably not the best thing to do!)

I will post updates after I get to test-drive this properly, but in the meantime…what is your favorite foundation…and why?