All posts by Candice

About Candice

Hello I'm Candice the creator of Frugally Fit and Natural. I want to help you live a healthy lifestyle without breaking your budget.

Aldi

Adventures in Aldi: Frugal Healthy Grocery Shopping

A new Aldi just opened 3 miles from my home. If you’re unfamiliar with Aldi it’s a discount supermarket that sells primarily generic groceries at prices lower than the average supermarket. They keep their costs low by very little advertising, locking up their carts to prevent theft and not providing free grocery bags.

My first experience with Aldi was in college. I had never heard of it until I moved from Maryland to Pennsylvania my freshman year. At first I thought it was the shoe store Aldo which led to much confusion initially. As a broke college student I was attracted to the low prices. But as an immature 18 year old I was slightly weirded out by the generic products which I thought were knock offs of brand names. The labeling on their generic products was very similar to popular brand name packaging. Toaster Tarts instead of Pop Tarts or Aunt Maple’s instead of Aunt Jemima.

toaster tarts

 

Aunt Maple's
However, now being a bill paying older adult I have a totally different view of Aldi.  Also they have really made an effort to sell more than processed junk. They now have many organic products and fresh produce.  Don’t get me wrong some of their products are not very healthy or natural. And contain artificial colors, flavors and sweeteners. This is where label reading is a must — which you should do in any grocery store.

Check out this innocent looking box of ‘Quinoa Blend.’

It contains Yeast Extract, Caramel Color, Natural Flavors (not really natural – they are produced in a lab) and Maltodextrin (again created in a lab). No thanks!

I do not do the bulk of my grocery shopping at Aldi but I have a few favorites that I found which are truly natural and healthy.  Some of my Aldi favorites are their organic dried herbs and spices,  nuts, organic tortilla chips, canned organic beans. Also their fresh produce including avocados, pineapples and organic salad mix.

Here are some photos from my last Aldi trip. I did not purchase all these items but I wanted to show you some of their selection.

 

If you do not have an Aldi in your area now, you might very soon. According to their website, they plan to have 2,000 stores in the US by 2018. So give them a try, you might save a few dollars. And be sure to read those labels carefully!

 

Have you ever shopped at Aldi?

Hello I’m Candice the creator of Frugally Fit and Natural. I want to help you live a healthy lifestyle without breaking your budget.

Homemade Eyelash Growth Serum

I couldn’t believe when those commercials for Latisse started showing up on television. If you aren’t familiar with Latisse – you are missing out on one of modern medicine’s major breakthroughs.  Not a cure for MS or dementia or cancer. But a medication to ‘grow longer, thicker eyelashes.’

Talk about devoting resources to  solve a major problem. But I see where the company is coming from. There’s plenty of money in beauty. So I’m not going to knock it.  But I’m also not going to buy it.

One of my friends actually used Latisse and her lashes were gorgeous! So it got me thinking that I might want to do something about my scrawny eyelashes.  However she paid around $120 for a 30 day supply! No ma’am, not this frugal gal.

Scrawny eyelashes
Don’t mind my bags. It was late. LOL

This got my DIY wheels spinning for a less expensive and of course, natural, way to grow my eyelashes. I know from tips on growing the hair on your head that castor and sweet almond oils are proven natural products that can increase hair growth.  Essential oils like
rosemary and lavender are also know to help with hair growth. But putting essential oils that close to your eye is not a good idea.

The formula I came up with is very simple: mix 1 tsp Castor oil, 1 tsp Sweet Almond Oil and 1 tsp Vitamin E oil.  Apply the serum to lashes each night with a brow brush, leave on overnight and wash off in the morning.

Eyelash Grow Serum Ingredients

Note: Always do a skin test prior to use. Discontinue if any adverse reactions (skin, rash, redness, swelling, eye irritation, etc) occur.

I used Vitamin E oil from capsules. Simply break them and pour the contents out. It took 7 capsules to get 1 tsp of oil.  Store the mixture in a dark glass container in a cool dark place and discard any unused portion after 4 weeks.

I’ve been using it for a few days now and haven’t noticed any change yet. But I am optimistic. I also started applying it to my brows as well. You can see from the above photo they need some help too.  I will post an after photo in a few weeks to see if  it worked. Hopefully I won’t have grown a unibrow or something worse.

Do you use any homemade beauty products?

 

 

Hello I’m Candice the creator of Frugally Fit and Natural. I want to help you live a healthy lifestyle without breaking your budget.
25 lb kettlebell

Quick Kettlebell Workout Video

Here’s a quick workout combining the three kettlebell movements I showed you in this post. In the video I am not using the kettelbell I bought on Amazon last year. I am using the new 25 lb kettlebell I bought after the other one.

25 lb kettlebell

This kettlebell is the same brand, CAP, as the 40 lb kettlebell but it is slightly different in that it’s not enamel coated. I find that I can grip this bell just a little better since it’s 15 lbs lighter  less smooth and slightly bumpy.  It’s very easy to handle and comfortable in my hands.

Here I am performing sets of 10 of goblet squats, single leg deadlifts and Russian kettlebell swings. I did an additional set of 10 of the single leg deadlifts to ensure that each leg  gets worked out twice.  Gotta keep it even!

This was my first time recording myself working out for others to see. It is definitely harder than it looks. Kudos to Denise Austin, Billy Blanks and Shaun T.  This was definitely good motivation for me to not rest in between sets. You will see my form went away on a few reps and I lost my balance a couple of times. But that’s what happens when you workout. Remember to keep your core tight, don’t rush through each sets and take rest breaks as needed. I hope you enjoy this workout.

Don’t have your own kettlebell – use a dumbbell.  Don’t have a dumbbell either – use a jug of water or just your body weight. You can certainly decrease or increase the repetitions.  Keep in mind lower repetitions are most ideal for increasing strength. And higher repetitions are more ideal for increasing endurance.

Exercise tips

  • Keep core engaged with each exercise
  • Don’t allow your torso to rotate (like mine) with the single leg deadlifts
  • Push knees outward with goblet squats
  • Don’t hyperextend your back when straightening up during the swings
  • Keep your head and neck in neutral looking straight ahead (I tend to look up when squatting)
  • Remember to BREATHE!!!

Have you worked out with a kettlebell before?

Hello I’m Candice the creator of Frugally Fit and Natural. I want to help you live a healthy lifestyle without breaking your budget.

Blue Diamond/Almond Breeze Lawsuit

As you may or may not know I do not consume dairy products. So almond, coconut, hemp or any other plant based milks are a staple in my diet.  I recently found out that a class action lawsuit against one of the more popular brands of almond milk, Almond Breeze.  I mostly buy Silk milk products or Trader Joe’s Almond Milk, I have purchased Almond Breeze in the past. Blue Diamond Growers is the parent company that makes Almond Breeze, Blue Diamond almonds and Nut Thins.

Almond Breeze

The lawsuit alleges that Blue Diamond Growers inaccurately label their products as natural. The packaging for Almond Breeze and Nut Thin products were advertised as ‘All Natural’ when in fact they contain synthetic ingredients.  The synthetic ingredients in question are potassium citrate, synthetic Vitamin A Palmitate and Vitamin D-2. Also Blue Diamond falsely or did not report the amount of almonds in its almond milk.

The lawsuit also alleges that the ingredient list included ‘Evaporated Cane Juice’, the label did not disclose the amount or percentage of almonds in the product and the packaging contained the ‘heart check mark’ from the American Heart Association. You are eligible for a claim if you purchased Almond Breeze or Nut Thins  between May 28, 2009 and November 18, 2016.

This is a good example of a common problem now that manufacturers know more consumers are looking for ‘natural’ products. I see many junk products using natural on the label when they contain all kinds of lab made, artificial ingredients. This isn’t limited to food but also beauty, cleaning  and healthcare products.  On the FDA’s website it states:

FDA has not developed a definition for use of the term natural or its derivatives.

Well there you have it. Natural has no meaning…according to the federal government anyway. So we definitely need to educate ourselves and read labels. And research ingredients. If it’s something you can’t pronounce, have never heard of or contains more than 10 letters – avoid it.

Here’s is the website to submit a claim: http://www.breezeandthinssettlement.com

The last day to submit a claim is Thursday April 13th, 2017. Without proof of purchase you can receive up to $5 and with proof of purchase up to $10.  So don’t delay if you purchased any of these products. And read those products labels carefully.

Have you ever received money from a class action lawsuit?

 

Hello I’m Candice the creator of Frugally Fit and Natural. I want to help you live a healthy lifestyle without breaking your budget.

DIY Rug Backer

Recently I had hardwood floors installed in my condo.  That was my first large home improvement project since buying the place 2 years ago. When I moved in, there was ratty old beige carpet with scratches and frays from the previous owner’s dog. Also there was always a weird, not bad, but weird smell in the condo. Once the old carpet was removed the smell vanished with it. Added bonus!

My Fascist condo association requires if we install hardwood floor to cover 75% of it with rugs. Womp womp! What’s the point of having beautiful floors if you have to cover them. But I’m a good little owner and complied-ish.  I covered about 40%. I already had one throw rug in front of the sofa and I bought another to put under my television stand. Being the frugal person the new rug  was very inexpensive but cute.

Front of rug

Ain’t it cute!?! BUT being so cheap it did not have non-slip backing on it and I was afraid it would slide around and scratch my lovely new floors.

Back of rug

So I looked online and in stores for rug backers. But the prices in my opinion were high for something that would never been seen. So I got to thinking about what I could use in place of a formal rug backer. Then I remembered what some of my ingenious Occupational Therapy colleagues have used at work to stop things from sliding around — Dycem! If you are not familiar with Dycem imagine if Fruit Roll-ups were plastic. It’s a plastic material that’s sticky on both sides and is magically  reusable a million times before it loses it’s stick.  It even comes in rolls like Fruit Roll-ups.

But Dycem has about or even a higher cost than rug backers. So a cheap alternative some Occupational Therapists use is shelf liner. The rubbery waffle pattern kind. Not the one that’s like wallpaper with a pattern on one side.  I found it at Target in the kitchenware section for around $6.

Con Tact shelf liner

 

I chose to not cover the entire back of the rug with the shelf liner.  Stretching my buck. I simply cut rectangles for each corner of the throw rug and two in the middle. Use the ridges on the shelf liner to cut straight lines.

Cutting the liner

Cut pieces of liner

Apply glue to the liner cut outs and adhere to the rug. Allow it to dry with the rug upside down for several hours or overnight. The glue will come through the holes slightly when wet so definitely allow it to dry completely before flipping it over.

Glue applied to liner

And you’re done. Easy DIY project.

Liner glued to rug

All that work and I put it under my TV stand so it’s definitely not moving around. Oh well this was a fun little project.

TV stand

In reality the pre-made rug backers for sale are not that expensive. But there’s something therapeutic about re-purposing an item.

Here a few other uses for shelf liner:

  1. Under potted plants
  2. On the legs of a table.
  3. Coasters
  4. On the dashboard to hold a cellphone in place.

Can you think of any other uses for shelf liner?

Hello I’m Candice the creator of Frugally Fit and Natural. I want to help you live a healthy lifestyle without breaking your budget.
Happy New Year

Happy New Year! Long time no post.

Happy 2017 everyone! I hate to say what everyone always says every year but ‘boy did the year go by fast.’ I hope you all had a great 2016.  One of my big goals for 2016 was to start this blog. I did that but I feel like I didn’t put my best effort into it.  That’s one of the reasons I was hesitant to start a blog in the first place. I didn’t want it to be one of those really interesting blogs you stumble upon where the last post was 3 years ago.  I only wrote 7 posts in 2016 – despite having so many ideas. Ugh! Blogging is definitely a lot more work than I thought. I have new found respect for bloggers now.

But that’s what a new year is for right? Being better than last year. Setting new goals. Self improvement. Crowding the gym for one month.

Speaking of the gym, I, like many people have set plenty of health goals for 2017. I want to continue to eat healthy which to me means eating fewer animal products. More fruits and veggies. And drinking at least 60 ounces of water a day.  Getting at least 7 hours of sleep each night.  For these first 5 days of the year I’ve been doing pretty good on that front. Only 360 more days to go!

I also have a lot of fitness goals this year. I want to step up my CrossFit game. By that I mean push myself harder during the WODs, workout at least 3 times a week and put in work outside of the scheduled classes. Towards the end of the year I started staying after class ended and worked on some things on my own. And I actually noticed a big improvement in just a few weeks. I’m not trying to compete in the CrossFit games or anything but I want to see what my body is capable of.

Often in CrossFit or any fitness program, progress in measured in being able to lift heavier weight or decreasing your time on a run. But I like to measure my progress in other ways. One of the biggest things that gives CrossFit a bad rep is risk of injury and people using horrible form. I worked hard on my core strength this year which allowed for me to avoid injury and to see improvements in pull ups, push ups, handstand push ups and freestanding handstands.  But I did have some great improvements in my weightlifting one rep maxes too. It is good to see those objective numbers sometimes too.

Here’s a video of me failing practicing handstands. (I did not pick the music playing in the gym). I posted this on my personal IG page and got some good feedback from other CrossFitters on improving my technique. Please if you have any tips for mastering these let me know in the comments. I need all the help I can get. My goal is to be able to consistently hold handstands for 30 seconds. So far I’ve gotten up to 5 seconds.

Financially, I am aiming to cut my spending significantly and increase my savings this year. Sales and coupons will continue to be my two best friends.  But I also want to cut out the unnecessary spending ie fewer Target runs and less eating out.

I saw a savings challenge where you save every $5 bill you get for the entire year. So far I’ve already saved $15!  I will definitely post my total savings at the end of the year.

If this doesn’t sound good to you there’s also the 52 Week Challenge. With that challenge you save $1 for the number of the week it is. So first week of the year you save $1, second week $2, …, week 52 you save $52. In total you will have saved $1378.  I tried it last year and stopped around week 13. It was difficult to have a set amount of cash on me every week. For me the $5 challenge is easier.

I am super excited to see what 2017 brings for me and Frugally Fit and Natural. I wish you all health, love and prosperity this year.

Did you make any New Year’s resolutions or goals this year?

 

 

 

Hello I’m Candice the creator of Frugally Fit and Natural. I want to help you live a healthy lifestyle without breaking your budget.

Make Money on Your Cell Phone

Did you know you could make money from your cell phone? Yes it’s true. There are many free moneymaking apps now.  There are some apps that pay you to take surveys, watch videos or just to track your activity on your phone. My favorite moneymaking apps pay you for everyday purchases. Three of my favorites are Checkout 51, ibotta and Receipt Hog. All three of these apps are available for download from the Android and Apple app stores. I’m an Android girl myself. Side note: do any of my other Android users catch flack from your iPhone family and friends? I can’t be the only one.

ibotta

ibotta app

ibotta was the first moneymaking app I ever downloaded and used. It’s also the one that I have made the most money on to date.  With ibotta you first unlock rebates for items that are posted in the app. Then if you buy any of those items from specific retailers, you scan your receipt and the bar code of the item. And bam! Within minutes you get a rebate applied to your account for those items. Your money can be redeemed for gift cards or deposited in your PayPal or venmo account. I usually opt for PayPal deposits. The gift cards available change from time to time but currently Amazon, Target, Starbucks, The Gap, Applebee’s, JoAnn Fabrics and Old Navy are just a few that are available.

You can also earn money for referring friends. Each month they offer teamwork bonuses so anyone you refer or who’s a Facebook friend (if you choose to link your Facebook account) act as a team to accumulate a certain amount to earn an extra bonus. The bonuses are in addition to the regular rebates you get.  There are also bonuses  if you redeem a specified number of rebates in a certain time frame. Or if you buy multiple items in a specific category or specific brand. Here’s my referral link if you’d like to download the app: https://ibotta.com/r/myapg.

Checkout 51

Checkout 51 app

Checkout 51 is a little simpler than ibotta. If you purchase a product featured on the app you scan the receipt. That’s it.  You don’t have to unlock the rebate first or scan the bar code of the product as with ibotta.  And it does not matter which store you made the purchase. Checkout 51 rolls out a new list of products each Thursday. With this app you receive your money in the form of a check. Once you accumulate at least $20 you can request a check be mailed to you. So no need for gift cards, PayPal or venmo.  I have found with Checkout 51 I don’t purchase too many of the items listed in app. So it takes a bit of time for me to accumulate $20. Also there are fewer bonuses than offered on ibotta and no teamwork component.

ReceiptHog

 

ReceiptHog

ReceiptHog is even simpler than Checkout 51. With ReceiptHog you simply take a photo of your receipt and upload it to the app. No specific products to buy or offers to upload first. For grocery receipts, you earn coins and all other receipts you earn entries into a drawing. There are limits to the types of receipts you can upload. Grocery, convenience, department,  drug, liquor, home improvement, dollar, and toy stores and restaurants are acceptable.  The app does not accept receipts for gas or services such as an oil change or haircut.  And receipts must be uploaded to the app within 14 days of the purchase date.

If you upload grocery receipts for consecutive weeks  within a month you earn spins on the app’s slot machine. The slot machine offers chances to win additional coins or even $100 cash. Once you accumulate a certain number of coins you can redeem them for either an Amazon gift card or PayPal deposit. Like Checkout 51 there are no bonuses or teamwork incentives. So accumulating enough coins for a reward does take some time.  But you’re just taking photos of receipts you already have just laying around.

 

If you haven’t tried any of these moneymaking apps yet you certainly should. They cost you nothing and you can earn some decent pocket change.  And if you use coupons and catch some items on sale, you can end up with some freebies. I will caution with ibotta and Checkout 51 to avoid buying items you normally wouldn’t just because of the rebate. I will admit I have fallen victim to this. There’s a bottle of coconut water in my cabinet to show for it. I hate coconut water but couldn’t pass up the $1 rebate on ibotta.

Do you use any moneymaking apps?

 

Hello I’m Candice the creator of Frugally Fit and Natural. I want to help you live a healthy lifestyle without breaking your budget.
Ubiquitous product samples

My Trip to the Ubiquitous Expo 2016

This past weekend I attended the Ubiquitous Beauty Hair and Health Expo in DC. I went with one of my good friends who is also sporting her natural hair. The event was held Saturday and Sunday, we went on Saturday. The cost of the tickets was very reasonable $15 in advance and $20 at the door. Of course me being the frugal natural that I am, I bought my ticket in advance to save the $5.

Based on other beauty and hair ‘expos’ I have been to, my expectations were not very high. However I was pleasantly surprised by this event. It was in a great venue, well organized and had a lot of vendors. There were also panel discussions, live performers, presenters doing live hair styling demonstrations and my favorite part, plenty of free samples. I even had a celebrity sighting of Nicole Ari Parker and Boris Kodjoe.

Nicole Ari Parker and Boris Kodjoe

 

Product Samples

Ubiquitous product samples

 

Aunt Jackie’s Curls & Coils product samples:Aunt Jackie's sample

Renpure Originals and Bella Curls samples:Bella Chic sample

Crème of Nature product samples:Creme of Nature sample

These expos are a good way to discover new hair products. Especially from smaller, independent companies.  Several major brand products were on display including Organic Root Stimulator (ORS), Cantu, Isoplus and Motions. But the majority of the vendors at the expo were smaller lesser known companies.  I find the smaller independent hair products often contain more natural ingredients and are handmade. Compared to being made in large vats in a mega production facility with many synthetic ingredients. Also it always good to support independent entrepreneurs and small businesses.

Check out some of these companies that were at the expo:

Aunt Jackie’s Curls & Coils

Bella Curls

Diva by Cindy

Fran Ngong Organic

Mielle Organics

Oyin Handmade

Renpure Solutions

Uncle Funky’s Daughter

I cannot wait to try these product samples and hopefully add to some my regular hair routine. I will definitely attend next year’s Ubiquitous Beauty Hair and Health Expo.

 

Have you ever attended a health and beauty expo?

Hello I’m Candice the creator of Frugally Fit and Natural. I want to help you live a healthy lifestyle without breaking your budget.

GMO No!!

Genetically modified ingredients have invaded gummy bears. You may have noticed in my last post about my fabulous Harris Teeter Super Doubles haul I purchased 3 packs of Black Forest gummy candy for free. Two of the packs were organic and one was not. I only bought the non-organic pack because there were only 2 organic packs left on the shelf. Well, halfway through gorging on the bag of nonorganic gummies I turn the bag over and see this:

Frankengummy GMO

Produced with Genetic Engineering. It’s stamped right on the crease of the bag so it’s hard to notice right away.  I was surprised because #1 this is the first time I have seen the genetic engineering labeling. And #2 I failed to realize they contained artificial flavors also. But common sense should have told me a little green bear cannot naturally taste just like an apple or a pineapple. I wish it stated which ingredients were produced with genetic engineering but I am assuming it’s the corn in the corn syrup. I am usually an avid label reader but I think my excitement for a good deal distracted me this time.

Sad gummies

After this experience I threw the bag of gummies away and did a little research. I looked up the use of genetic engineering in foods and the labeling of genetically engineered foods.  According to the FDA website,  products containing genetic engineered ingredients only need to be labeled if the genetically engineered plant is compositionally different that it’s traditional counterpart (http://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodScienceResearch/GEPlants/ucm346858.htm). So if the new plant has a higher sugar content or lower fiber content for example than the original plant it needs to be labelled as such. But if it’s identical chemically to the original no labelling is required.

Eating GMOs make me nervous because there’s no research on the long-term effects of them on our bodies.  In reality we all have been eating foods GMOs for years without knowing it.  About 85% of the corn produced in the US is genetically modified. Corn is in a ton of foods. Not just as a whole corn kernel but also  in the form of corn oil and cornstarch.  If you would like to know more about genetically modified foods check out the documentary Seeds of Death: Unveiling the Lies of GMOs. The full documentary is available on YouTube.

There is a  bright side to this story.  The two packs of organic gummy worms do not contain any ingredients produced with genetic engineering and no artificial flavors. And I learned a good lesson to read labels more carefully, even during Super Doubles.

 

Are you concerned about eating foods containing genetically modified ingredients?

 

Hello I’m Candice the creator of Frugally Fit and Natural. I want to help you live a healthy lifestyle without breaking your budget.