The Epic Double Chin Diary Holiday Gift Guide

Ah, the holidays. The smell of chestnuts roasting (really, who does that?), family fighting (now that’s more likely), and the season of sales, sales, and sales, causing us all to stress out about the perfect gift when really it doesn’t matter. However, because gifts are kind of a thing, I’ve rounded up some new favorites for your consideration for those who like relaxing, cooking, fashion, and exercise. All of these gifts were sent to me gratis in exchange for mention (but only if I really liked them – two got the axe!). This post also contains affiliate links, so if you click on something and buy it, I might make four cents (I’m rich!). Enjoy — and be sure to read carefully as you have a few chances to win some of these goodies for yourself!

1) Royal Silk Scarf by World Vision

Looking for the perfect thoughtful gift for your world conscious friend? Consider this royal silk scarf from WorldVision. Vietnam’s Ma Chau villagers weave these traditional silky smooth scarves, helping to provide them with a sustainable income. This scarf is 68″ long, and has the most incredible colors and vibrancy.  Each is unique; size and color may vary slightly. You can make a suggested donation of $95, or enter an amount that’s meaningful to you. Want to see how purchasing from WorldVision works? Click here.

Alyssa rocks the World Vision Royal Silk Scarf

Alyssa rocks the World Vision Royal Silk Scarf

You know you want one of your own… so follow the steps below for your chance to win!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

2) Tiger Tail Classic

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Foam rolling both terrifies me and delights me; the concept of massaging painful, tight muscles is initially scary, mildly painful, and then after it’s sweet relief. When I heard about Tiger Tail, I knew I would need one of these puppies (kitties?) for my post-walk soreness. I packed it along with me on my trip to San Diego, and this thing was passed among my teammates with more enthusiasm than a box of chocolates. The small, compact size and quality build make it perfect for bringing along on trips, or for stashing in your house. Our traditional foam roller is bulky and giant, and this removes a lot of heft but still packs a punch. Plus, look at how adorable the packaging is! I loved this thing post 3-Day, and am super psyched about using it to roll out my muscles post-hike. The Classic is priced at $34.95, is made in the USA, easy to clean, and has a 3 year warranty. The next thing I’ll try out is the Knotty Tiger — I can really see that sorting out the giant knots in my neck!

The cutest sticker on the packaging!

The cutest sticker on the packaging!

3) Creekside Farms Kitchen Herb Wreath

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it’s too bad smellovision doesn’t exist yet on the web!

This is the type of thing that doesn’t come across my inbox too often; a gift that simultaneously makes me go “ooh, pretty” and “Ahhh, it smells good.” While I was initially struck by the photos of how stunning Creekside Farm’s Kitchen Herb Wreath is, when I received it, it was the amazingly lush smell of lavender, dill, oregano, sage, and rosemary that won me over. It looks great outside (away from direct light) and also inside, where you can see the naughty cat that isn’t supposed to be on the table. (She argues that the wreath smelled so good she just HAD to be closer to it.) This wreath would be the perfect gift for the Foodie in your life, and if you want a different style, check out my other favorite, the Sunflower wreath. Creekside Farms grows all of their own herbs, and they dry everything on site, truly making these family-created products artisanal.

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Stunning Kitchen Herb Wreath Scents Up The Kitchen

Visit Creekside Farms on Facebook here, and on Twitter here. Want 15% off your order? Use code CURAN. I know that I personally will be making an order for one of these beauties!

Gorgeous Up Close Shot of the Kitchen Herb Wreath by Creekside Farms

Gorgeous Up Close Shot of the Kitchen Herb Wreath by Creekside Farms

4) Natracure Heated Booties

So what if these are technically for Arthritis – after walking a ton of miles this past weekend in the 3-Day, I couldn’t wait to slip these babies on my feet. With separate microwavable gel inserts, you heat up the pads, stick ‘em in the bottom of the super fuzzy velour slippers, slip them on and oooh and ahh your way to toasty relaxation. Better yet, these booties are coated on the inside with a smart gel lining, with 7 botanicals. My feet did actually feel smoother and smelled like a foot that had been freshly scrubbed at a spa. One tip with these: don’t walk in them! Thankfully I Googled it online before I took a step and burst the gel packs, but these booties are meant to be worn 5-10 minutes at a time to heat up your tired tootsies, and they’re worn best when you’re relaxin’ in one spot. These retail for $49.99 and are great for people with foot pain and stiffness, and you can also find a pair designed just for the hands. Time for relaxation!

Cozy and comfy in Natracure's Heated Booties

Cozy and comfy in Natracure’s Heated Booties

5) Goody QuikStyle Brush

Ever since I got my hair cut and colored, I’ve been making an effort to actually style my hair rather than throwing it in a sloppy bun. Part of that means blow drying my hair, and since I’m lazy, I like to exert minimal effort. That’s where the Quikstyle comes in – an awesome, space age looking hair brush that has microfiber tufts between the bristles. I had actually seen this brush in stores and wanted to try it, so when it came through my inbox I figured this would be a fun one to review.

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The awesome Goody Quikstyle

While initially I was skeptical, it does actually dry your hair as you brush through it. And, it’s designed smart, so antimicrobial microfiber keeps the brush fresh and inhibits mold or mildew growth. Seeing is believing, so how about you enter to win one yourself by following the steps below? The Goody Quick Style Paddle Brush is six bucks on Amazon.com, a perfect stocking stuffer for the lady in your life who needs a darling ‘do on the go.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

I hope you’ll consider some of these goodies for the loved ones in your life this holiday season. What’s on your wishlist?

Sweet Leaf Sweet Drops Review & Giveaway: All Natural Soda Alternative

SweetLeaf_SteviaLeaf_WaterEnhancers_DoubleChinDiaryDisclosure: I received free samples of Sweet Leaf Sweet Drops in exchange for a review.

It’s now been about a year since I gave up my dark master (Diet Pepsi) for good. I still crave it every now and then, but I find if I go for it and order a soda, the first few sips are like “Blech! Why did I used to think this stuff was good?” I now drink a ton of iced tea, perrier, and water, and occasionally I’ll splurge on something delicious and caloric, like a Mexican Coca Cola or Izze. When an announcement about Sweet Leaf ended up in my inbox, I knew I wanted to try it. The problem with so many water enhancers or flavor additives is that they’re full of garbage and chemicals, or if they’re low-cal, they’re packed with aspartame. Sweet Leaf is USDA Certified Organic, Non-GMO project verified, gluten-free, and zero carb/calorie.

Upon first tasting, I thought the drops tasted good, but there wasn’t enough flavor. I was putting two drops in per 8 ounces of sparkling water. Then, I read the directions again and realized it was two drops per OUNCE of sparkling water. Duh! No wonder I wasn’t getting the flavor I wanted. I re-did it and was pleasantly surprised at the simultaneous sweet but light taste of Sweet Drops. My favorite of the four flavors I tried (Lemon, Berry, Orange, Cola) was definitely cola, followed by orange. Another small but important thing to me? No gross coloring. The Cola flavor adds a very slight caramel tint to the water, but you’re not getting any hues that will turn your tongue into a rainbow.

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These are affordable ($9.99 for a three pack), and the small size is easy to slip into your purse to have your own flavored water anywhere you go. I liked using the berry flavor in still water with a few smashed raspberries — it felt like a fancy cocktail, but with no calories and no booze. I like, I like. Sweetleaf also carries funky flavors like Pumpkin Spice, Peppermint Mocha, Chocolate Raspberry, Rootbeer, and Grape. Can you imagine baking with these, or using them as yummy flavors for coffee? My friends at Sweetleaf are giving you a chance to win a full-sized bottle of Cola drops (ARV $15.44), and all you have to do is “like” Sweetleaf on Facebook. This is on the honor system, and I will be checking that the winner has “liked” Sweetleaf on Facebook. Once you’ve “liked” them on Facebook, please leave a comment on this blog post. I’ll give you two extra entries each for sharing on Facebook or sending a tweet — let me know if you do those actions in the comment you leave. I’ll pull a winner a week from now, next Sunday at 8:50 p.m. GOOD LUCK!

Enter for a chance to win! Simply Like Sweetleaf on Facebook and leave a comment.

Enter for a chance to win! Simply Like Sweetleaf on Facebook and leave a comment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Define Brave: Katie K. Active Wear Review

Do you guys remember that time I raved about Taffy Activewear? Taffy is a stylish boutique clothing line with super high quality athletic wear for curvy chicks like myself. A few months ago, I found out that the creator of Taffy, Katie K. herself, also had another activewear line called Katie K. Active. I was offered the opportunity to be a #definebrave ambassador, and I’m excited to tell you more about this cool line of clothing.

Defining Brave with Katie K. Activewear

Katie K. Does something I wish all clothing lines would do- offer the same pieces in standard and plus sizes (Sizes 2 – 24, to be exact)! One thing I’m looking forward to about getting out of plus sizes is having better variety in clothes. Last week at Kohl’s, I saw an adorable t-shirt with bicycles all over it. Had I wanted to squeeze myself into the large, sausage style, I could have, but that’s not my jam. I want to feel comfortable in the clothes I’m in, not constantly be worried about an escaping muffin top. I was delighted when I was browsing the Katie K line online and was able to pick a plus version of every style they offer. I ended up choosing: The Katie K. Signature Capri,  the Signature Jacket in Black,and the Signature Racer Back Tank in Coral. As a bonus, I also received a Signature Headband to match my cute coral tank.

AlyssaCurran_KatieKaCtive3One of the first things you’ll notice about this line is the quality. As someone who usually wears Old Navy activewear, I’m not used to athletic clothes that actually have great fabric quality. The fabric on all three pieces is tough, yet soft, and the seams are all strong and even. The capris are perfect because they smooth out my wobbly bits, sucking in my tummy to give me the sleek look I’m working out for. The capris also have a nice reflective design on the lower leg (that match the same design on the sleeve of the jacket), a nice nod to visibility safety.

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The jacket might be my favorite because it has thumb loops!!! This is great for lifting weights or walking in less than desirable weather, because you can keep your wrists and upper hands covered. I was so jazzed about this I had to take a picture of this feature alone. You also have pockets with zip closures, and a hood. The jacket seems to be the same material as the pants, so you have a nice stretch but also a flattering cut that streamlines your silhouette.

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The top is sweat wicking and comes in a criss cross racer style tank. My next purchase is definitely going to be this adorable coral cowl neck top (in fact, I’d probably wear this for a night out – not to the gym! It’s that cute!).  I’d really recommend you look into Katie K., and the time is right, because they’re running a 40% off sale right now only with code ALYSSA40! I may have to get myself a few items… Who can resist a sale?

Have you heard of Katie K. Active? Be sure to check them out on social media and say hi!

Correction: An earlier version said the capris do not have pockets. The Capris DO have pockets, they’re just so slim and sleek I missed ‘em!

Stuff my lawyer made me say: This outfit was provided to me free of charge in exchange for accepting an Ambassador role with Katie K., helping to share news and information on social media. This post contains affiliate links, which might make me a few nickels if ya click ‘em. (So click ‘em!) ;) Please let me know if you have any questions!

Two New Favorites: Halo Top Ice Cream & Bio Ray Products

Happy Friday! I mentioned a few weeks ago that I had two new products I couldn’t wait to share with you. Without further ado, here they are: Halotop Creamery Ice Creams and Bioray Detox Products.

Halotop Ice Cream is light ice cream without any junk. You can have a 1/2 cup for just 70 calories! Each 1/2 cup serving has 7 grams of protein and only 4g of net carbs. Even better, no artificial sweeteners and no hormones. They use stevia as a natural sweetener. The only “trick” to having the best halotop experience is to let the ice cream sit on the counter for five minutes to soften up a little bit. The texture is slightly powdery (in a good way) and melt in your mouth. My favorite was definitely the vanilla bean, followed by chocolate, then lemon cake, then strawberry. This product blew me away compared to some other light ice creams I shall not name that were not worthy of being called ice cream! I made a 200 calorie sundae with three smallish scoops of chocolate, vanilla, and lemon ice cream, with a few banana slices, light whipped cream, and a drizzle of reduced sugar chocolate sauce. Hello, yum. You can buy Halo Top at Whole Foods, Sprouts, Vons and Pavilions. Give it a try and be sure to let me know what you think! I’d love to see them make a cookie dough version.

light halo top ice cream review

Halo Top Creamery Sundae – Only 200 calories!

Next is a line of products I was introduced to at Fitcation in October. Bioray is a natural detox company, with its roots in Chinese medicine. Lately, as acupuncture has become a larger part of my health plan for stress relief and weight loss, I’ve been interested in so called “Alternative” forms of medicine. One unpleasant side effect of PCOS are yucky mood swings depending on hormonal shifts, or as some would call it, ragey PMS. (Sorry, male readers. It’s a fact of a lady’s life. You can come back on Monday :) )Bioray has two products, called Before the Flow and After the Flow, that you take in juice or water and are said to help you achieve harmony and balance, reduce bloat and fatigue. I was a skeptic at first, but after several rounds of Bioray, I can solidly say that the PMS symptoms were much lessened thanks to these tonics. Yes, the taste is very earthy, and something you have to get used to, but with the right juice, it’s not noticeable. (I used grape juice). Bioray has several different formulas for men, women, and children, like Liver Life, which I’ll be trying next, Loving Energy for stress and exhaustion, and Cytoflora, for immune system strengthening. If you’re looking for traditional ways to heal that don’t involve filling a prescription, I’d recommend trying Bioray. I met their CEO, Stephanie, at ExpoWest, and was really impressed by how passionate and knowledgeable she is about healing. Give them a look!

bioray detox products liver life

Bioray Liver Life

While I was provided complimentary samples of both of these brands, I was under no obligation to write about them. I receive many samples for review and only share my favorites on the blog. Please let me know if you have any questions and tell me; what new products or brands have you tried and loved? I need some good loose leaf tea brands, and a good dark chocolate. Help a sista out! Have an awesome weekend!

Holiday Gift Guide Review: Taffy Activewear for Plus Sized Gym Goers

Happy Monday, everyone! Can you believe there’s just three more days until Thanksgiving?! Yikes — I need to get my butt to the grocery store to load up on Turkey and all the fixins. Matt and I are hosting this year; but that’s another blog for another day. Today, I’m excited to tell you about Taffy Active Wear, stylish activewear for women with curves. My love affair with Taffy began a couple years ago when I won a pair of workout pants from Taffy on Authentically Emmie. These pants quickly turned into my every-day-after-work pants and my all-the-time-on-weekends pants. They were soft, but had enough structure to suck in the less than desirable pouchy parts of my belly. Plus, they had the perfect amount of flare in the leg. As a tall gal, I like a basic flare, but I don’t need bellbottoms nor am I looking for a straight-legged taper. These are the best pants ever, basically. (I’m so obsessed with these pants I wore a hole into them. Don’t worry – a fresh new pair is on its way. My weekend wardrobe requires these pants. For serious! Pssst. They’re on sale for $22.99 right now too!)

In conjunction with the Latina Lifestyle Blogger Collective (I am an honorary Latina!), I was sent a full Taffy outfit to review. Here’s my review in one word: excellent. You know how sometimes you buy exercise clothes and they’re cut like normal clothes? That doesn’t work for activewear. Especially when you’re plus sized. You need clothes that move with you, that bend and crease, that don’t give you horrible wedgies or VPL. You also want them to be cute! Case in point: the Taffy Wide Waistband Fitted Capri, the Essential Tank Top and the Taffy Essential Jacket.

Rockin' my Taffy Activewear at the Shoulder Press

Rockin’ my Taffy Activewear at the Shoulder Press

1) The Capri pants are perfect for basically any kind of exercise, because while they help you suck it in, they also don’t ride up (or worse – fall down). These were so comfy I ended up wearing them the whole night after I finished at the gym. I also like the mesh detailing along the sides, which adds a sporty contrast.

2) The Essential Tank Top is adorable with the dove imagery on the front. I actually would wear this as a normal shirt! It’s super soft. One note is that it has a little bit of sheerness, which was actually sort of sassy and sexy with the neon sports bras I favor. I also like the “Work of Art” messaging, because all of us are truly a work of art!

3) The Essential Jacket is my favorite of all three items. I normally don’t wear white, and this jacket may have converted me (You can get it in black, too). The 2X fit me perfectly – enough to feel like I was downplaying the areas I’m self conscious about (tummy), but enough to be nipped in at the waist and show off my hourglass figure. I really liked this fabric, too – it was warm without being stuffy, and I was able to wear it on the treadmill without feeling too hot. I loved how it tied together the whole outfit, and I’ve actually worn this out shopping several times as just a cute, sporty jacket. You can also tell that ALL of these items are really high quality. The zipper pulls, seams and linings are all deluxe feeling. As much as I love Old Navy activewear, I can tell sometimes that its low price translates into low quality. Not the case with Taffy. One more small thing — each piece has a cute little candy logo on it. My galpal Susannah actually noticed it and pointed it out, saying, “Is that candy?!”. It is, indeed, and it is adorable.

If you want to give Taffy a try (you won’t regret it!), you can save 25% with the code LLBLOG for 25% off entire site until Dec 31, 2013. That also includes free shipping — AWESOME deal. (I may need to do a little more shopping. Don’t tell my husband. I mean, how can I resist this adorable tunic tank? It’s only $14.99. Old Navy prices — Taffy quality!) Taffy would be perfect for a gift for YOURSELF (don’t forget to gift yourself this season — we all need a lil’ pampering) or for a wonderful, health conscious gift for plus-sized ladies in your life. I happen to know somebody who’s getting a special Taffy gift from Santa this year! One other thing I also really love about Taffy that you’ll read more about in my upcoming Double Chin Diary giftguide is that from now until December 31, Taffy is giving back 10% to Philippine relief via UNICEF. Giving your money to a socially-conscious company is a great way to give back this holiday season.

Do you have any questions about Taffy? What activewear do you usually find yourself wearing?

FTC Disclosure: I was chosen for this opportunity by the Latina Lifestyle Bloggers Collective in conjunction with their annual Holiday Gift Guide. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Erba Vita 2-Week Review

While I was wandering Europe over the summer, Alyssa informed me of another product review opportunity I had waiting for me upon my return.  I’m pretty keen on using body cleansing products so when I found out that the company offering the product was Erba Vita, a business that specializes in products with more naturally-occurring ingredients, I was excited to give it a chance

Unfortunately I came down with the plague within a week of my return and had to wait until I was off all my medication before I started putting anything else into my body.

I began taking two capsules a day of the company’s “Weight” pills to ease myself into the transition as they had ingredients like green tea extract in it.  With other ingredients like L-carnintine, cassia nomame, and chitosan, these little capsules were packed full of powders that would help cleanse my system and aide in weight loss.  I did feel a bit healthier over the past two weeks but I feel if my eating behavior was better, I’d probably have more noticeable results.  Of course, I can’t see what has been going on within my body so I shouldn’t only count numbers as results.  I definitely have been more regular, if that fun fact helps explain these supplements better.

Erba Vita also sent over these cool detoxifying bottle tops, appropriately named DETOX,  with fun ingredients like milk thistle extract, burdock extract, and more green tea.  The caps are designed to easily twist onto a bottle of water so it can easily be mixed but my plastic bottle (which made me cheat on my reusable BOBBLE) didn’t fit so I ended up just pouring it into a glass.   The mixture tasted like water with a hint of lime and herbal supplement flavor, as one would expect when packing so many different extracts into one serving.

Now that my body is finally starting to feel ALMOST normal again, I’m going to start taking the recommended four pills a day along with making a point of actually drinking the DETOX drinks as well. Alyssa and I both are going to start getting our acts together today and I’ll be sharing my meal plans later on this week.

 

The American holiday season is quickly drawing near and I know the opportunities to lose weight will draw sparse with every party that I am invited to or every cookie that I will be offered.  If I can start being hardcore now, by the time the sugar season rolls around, perhaps I will be able to resist all those sweet temptations.

Thank you everyone to all your positive wishes regarding my past few posts for my health and education, I love reading the comments and am trying to get better at actually responding!

I hope you all had a lovely Labor Day weekend and if you do happen to be working today, THANK YOU for whatever you happen to be doing to support our country and the way it functions.

Love and lime,

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