March Coffee Date - 2018 - Skillful Cook
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March Coffee Date - 2018

Dining room with wood table.

We're already coming to the end of March which means...


B) It's been a minute! We should catch up! Coffee Date style.

Spring drinks of choice have been mango kale smoothies (I'm hopping back on the train!), iced crafted press-es from Caribou, green tea lemonades, and iced royal tea lattes from Sencha but let's be honest, that never changes. I even had a rogue WATERMELON juice the other day that was so good and so summery it almost made me cry.

But today, for this “coffee date,” I am actually drinking a big ol jug of minty cucumber water! Um, yeah. It's taking my entire life up a few notches. More on that in a second.

Let's chat about March.

A dividing line with a '1' in the middle.

I Switched To Beautycounter And I Wasn't Super Impressed.

Beautycounter product.

(To be fair, I love this product I'm holding which is the mattifying powder. Pure magic.)

So.. yeah.

Call me crazy, but specifically for the Beautycounter skincare, I don't think I would spend the money again. I just didn't love the products enough to justify the extra cost, especially when I feel like I can find other clean skincare alternatives that work just as well at more of a drugstore-level price. The lotion never really hydrated my face and the cleansers didn't feel like anything special to me. Am I insane?

The good news is that even if my skincare spree was kind of a bust, I have found a lot of clean beauty products over the last few years that I can strongly recommend (including a few of Beautycounter's makeup products):

Also worth mentioning that I used the Vintner's Daughter Active Botanical Serum for several months last year as my night-time moisturizer and I really liked it. If you want a skincare splurge and you're into oils, it's luxurious and lovely.

Okay, are you a clean makeup / skincare enthusiast? What are your favorite products? Does anyone have a good clean shampoo recommendation? That's one I haven't found yet.

Also, tell me what you think about Beautycounter. Are you a fan? I love their other stuff (listed above), and if I didn't care about the cost I would totally buy their lemony-sugar scrub on the regular. It was just specifically the skincare that I wasn't crazy about.

1A. Eyelash Extension Update

I didn't keep them up. They're gone. Too expensive. Too time-consuming. Very pretty, but not worth it for me. End of story.

A dividing line with a '2' in the middle.

I Need To Drink More Water.

Cucumber mint water.

Like, we probably all do. So I'm trying a few hacks.

  1. Adding mint, cucumber, lemon, and other yummies to my water each day. Kind of obvious, but for me it's a good place to start.
  2. Drinking out of a peppy 20 ounce tumbler with a straw. Just more pleasant, IMHO.
  3. Only refilling when I'm finished with my existing water so I can track how much I'm actually drinking.

My goal is three of those guys per day (plus additional water from juice, coffee, soups, fruit/veg, etc.), which probably isn't all that lofty of a goal, but to me it feels kind of epic.

Anyone got any other get-yourself-to-drink-more-water-hacks that I should know about?

A dividing line with a '3' in the middle.

Bullet Journal Is Life.

I have gone back and forth and back again on every kind of calendar out there, and I think the Bullet Journal has had more staying power for me than all the other methods combined. Here's why: it's customizable. You can make it be what you need / want it to be. If you need specific time slots, add specific time slots. If you need it loose, just keep it loose.

Here's what mine looks like at the beginning of the week, when I put in my scheduled events with a little circle and leave space for the rest of the week to fill up as needed:

Hand writing in Bullet Journal.

And at the end of the week:

Bullet journal.

I use a modified version of this Bullet Journaling shortcode to keep track of what I've done, what needs to still get done, what I decided not to do, etc. Bullet Journals are good for people who like to kind of build their own thing. It is basically a next-level to-do list that is highly personal and doubles as a calendar and/or a journal.

How do you keep your life organized? Do you use a physical planner / journal / calendar?

A dividing line with a '4' in the middle.

I Made Myself a Mini-Jungle-SPa In My Office And It Makes Me Feel Happy.

Office with grey chair and plants.

Chair, diffuser on side table, and plant shelves over top. That's all you need to make a jungle spa in your very own home. This corner of my office is my favorite place EVER! It's where I sit in the morning to just kind of center myself before the day starts. Music, journal, pray, meditate, read, avoid email, all of the above.

It's also where I pile the junk that I don't know what to do with. Very handy for that.

What's your happiest place in your home?

A dividing line with a '5' in the middle.

We Got a TV!

Living room with television on wall.

We didn't have one (2009-2013), then we had one (2013-2014), then we didn't have one again (2014-2018), and now we have one again (2018)! This is our struggle. Thank you for understanding.

What is your TV set up? Any no-TV-ers in the house?!?!

That's all from me!

But that's not all from Sage.

She would like to look into your eyes and say HEY! You're gettin' it done! You're working hard! You're rising above! YOU ARE AWESOME!

Sage with bunny ears.

She would also like you to know that even when you make mistakes, you can always try again.

Pillow on floor with stuffing torn out.

And she will be trying again in April.

Sage loves you guys.

Cheers to a great coffee (tea / latte / cucumber water) date! See you next month.

Filed Under: Life

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  1. Skillful Cook Logo

    I feel you on the water struggle. We got a Soda Stream a couple of years ago and it makes a big difference. Drinking carbonated water just feels so much more festive, and I often add a splash of juice or a squeeze of lemon to take it up a notch. Pro tip – those tiny bottles that come with the Soda Stream are a ripoff. My husband bought a converter kit on Ebay and we now connect ours to a big old tank of CO2 that we can get refilled at a gas store and it’s about 1/10th of the price.

    Also – eyelashes. Since I started taking a liquid Vitamin D supplement every day my nails and hair (including eyelashes) have been growing like crazy and are so much stronger. My eyelashes don’t break or fall out as much and are much, much longer. I ordered some castor oil online, a natural product that you brush on at night and is supposed to help strengthen them even more. Extensions have always seemed like wayyyyy too much work!

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        Piping Rock is the brand. I first got it from my acupuncturist but you can also order online. I take a half a dropper every day, which is about 5000 IU. However obviously consult with your doctor about what dose is right for you 🙂 I was living in the Pacific Northwest and then Montana for the last 10 years so I was definitely low.

  2. Skillful Cook Logo

    Oooh, my coworker just started using the app Waterlogged to remind her to drink more water, and she loves it! I definitely drink a lot of seltzer as a supplement when I can’t seem to get enough still water in my life.

    Also, thanks for the review on Beautycounter and the list of clean products you love! I’ve been trying to switch to clean as I run out of products, so this is super helpful, especially since I’ve been eyeing Beautycounter.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Yes of course! don’t let me deter you from their other products! I just wouldn’t necessarily recommend the skincare. 🙂

  3. Skillful Cook Logo

    I’m looking forward to reading the comments here about drinking more water. I also struggle with drinking water. I find that if I have it in front of me it just sits there on my desk. I hardly touch it…

  4. Skillful Cook Logo

    I just tried BeautyCounter as well and was not impressed. Their lightest foundation is hardly even a foundation (literally no change to my complexion) and their heavier foundation dried my skin out a ton. I agree that the price isn’t worth it. I’m also convinced that a ton of people that are consultants ,don’t actually use the products. I use BareMinerals now, but going to check out 100% Pure. Thanks for the tip!

    Where did you get the chair in your mini jungle spa?

  5. Skillful Cook Logo

    Have you heard of “Root” makeup? It is a relatively new, Iowa based, company that has a great line of skincare products. I am hoping that they decide to expand to MN soon, but their online store is awesome.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      I second the Root Pretty recommendation! Love their skincare and makeup products! I also have started using the 5 second journa by Mel Robbins and have been liking the simplicity of it!

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        I came to the comments to recommend Root too! I generally don’t get excited about beauty products, but I LOVE ROOT. Krista makes all their products in house, and while it can seem a little expensive at first, I’ve found that everything I buy there lasts forever. My favorite is the Beauty Sleep. I mix it with the foundation and it is divine!

  6. Skillful Cook Logo

    Love the post about Beautycounter. I use the beautycounter CC cream and makeup (eye shadow, mascara), however have gone back and forth about trying their skincare products. I currently use Andalou night cream and SPF moisturizer and really like them, and they’re somewhat affordable. I also use Primally Pure cleansing oil and LOVE IT. Makes my face feel amazing.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      I LOVE Andalou. I first tried some when I was visiting my parents and swiped some of my mom’s. I love that it’s relatively affordable and made from fruit.

  7. Skillful Cook Logo

    Try the Lily Lolo mascara, I couldn’t use the 100% Pure either. The Lily Lolo is amazing and clean!

  8. Skillful Cook Logo

    Oh those eyes! My pup is the same way! Makes some mistakes (and knows it), but when I look into his big brown eyes… I just can’t be upset.

  9. Skillful Cook Logo

    I use a paper planner with a modified bullet journaling style too. It helps me get a better sense of time and what needs to be done. I tried doing an all-digital planner but found it didn’t work as well for me.

    BTW, your handwriting is gorgeous!

  10. Skillful Cook Logo

    I was also unimpressed with Beauty Counter’s skincare and can’t justify the price point. I do, however, like their shampoo and conditioner a lot. I also like their lipsheers but that’s about all I buy from them.

    Good word on sprucing up your water. I don’t drink enough water on the weekends because our water at our house is hard and I don’t like that taste. I should just add some lemon. Duh!

  11. Skillful Cook Logo

    As far as hair products go, I’m obsessed with the Not Your Mother’s natural line. I don’t use shampoo (conditioner only for my curls!) but their whole line is fantastic, smells great, and is affordable. I get mine at Ulta and it’s on sale frequently.

  12. Skillful Cook Logo

    I always forget how much a few slices of cucumber or sprig of mint can liven up my water. And they look so pretty too!
    I’ve been slowly switching over all of my beauty products to those that are natural and organic. I’ve had lots of luck with the Era Organics line. Their moisturizers are great and I’m liking the SLS free shampoo and conditioner so far too.

  13. Skillful Cook Logo

    I love your living room carpet! Do you know where it’s from or if it’s still being sold?

  14. Skillful Cook Logo

    Love these little updates! My organization system is, uh, non existent/constantly changing. You always seem on top of things! Looking up the bullet journal now.

  15. Skillful Cook Logo

    I really enjoy your website/blog and updates! Thank you for sharing your life/likes/tips and recipes!!! Always a good read????

  16. Skillful Cook Logo

    Always love to hear from you.

    I have one of those giant tumblers at my desk as well, and the trick that works for me is to always always have it filled. That way, I don’t even realize when I’m drinking it as I work. So many times I reach for it and realize its empty.

    I’ve recently started using Google Calendar for organizing myself. It’s been pretty nice since I can access it anywhere (best time to manage: while I’m commuting) and even has Alexa tell me about that I need to get done for the day.

    Don’t have a TV. YouTube on my laptop is enough for me 🙂

  17. Skillful Cook Logo

    Hi Lindsay! I love your coffee date update. I do have a question for you. What are your thoughts on Essential Oils and is that what you use in your diffuser? I’ve just started using them and now I’m hearing rumors about them being bad for pets (if using them in diffusers). ugh.
    Also, I hear you on the tracking water consumption. I SO need to drink more and now you’ve motivated me. Thank you! 🙂

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      I’m not Lindsay, hope I can join the convo!

      I have cats, one of them asthmatic, so I’m careful with using oils. I only add 1-2 drops to the diffuser and not all the time. But I like eucalyptus, which is supposedly also good if you have asthma, so I think my cat doesn’t mind.

      There was a study done on the dangers of home fresheners, but essential oils are probably still safer than sprays and candles, etc.

    2. Skillful Cook Logo

      I’ve been using clean makeup and skincare for 8 years. I’m also a makeup artist. I bought 3 Counter Beauty products and disliked them all. $30 for a lipstick? No way. I’ve been using Mad Hippie Skincare for several years and absolutely love their products. Burt’s Bees makes a nice shampoo I’ve been happy with.
      Thanks for all that you do.

  18. Skillful Cook Logo

    Hi Lindsay! I wanted to reach out and respond to your post about your skincare. I’m so sorry that you were not happy with BeautyCounter. I am a Founding Director with LimeLight by Alcone. We are 100% chemical free skincare for a reasonable price! I would be happy to send you samples of our products to try, I would LOVE to hear your thought, good or bad! I am not looking for you to post about my products, I just want you to love your skincare and not break the bank!
    I see others have had the same experience and would be happy to send sample to anyone on here to try- but you have to promise to tell me what you think!
    Here is the link for you to look at who we are Thanks!

  19. Skillful Cook Logo

    If you love water as it is and need no flavor, then the only water hack I have is that you just have to have it near you. A bottle, a glass, anything. You’ll naturally reach for it when you’re thirsty without even noticing. The only times when I don’t drink enough water is when I forget my own advice and not have it near me.
    I don’t struggle with the “taste” because I grew up always craving and drinking water before any juice or soda… but for those that struggle with plain water, I think adding fruit to it is a good way to start. Or even making a really diluted tea. Like add 1 bag of fruit/herb tea to a whole pot of water, so you get more water than tea but it has that taste!

    And yay for the TV! I admire you for not having it for so long. I couldn’t be without one, lol. I prefer to watch any shows on the TV and not on a computer and our bedroom is tech-free (minus the phones), so a TV in the living room is a must. Also, I leave it on when the cats are home alone, so they feel more cozy. 🙂

    Sage is as cute as always :*

  20. Skillful Cook Logo

    I love Acure or Alba botanica shampoo and conditioner for an affordable option. I’ve used Alaffia before and can’t get into it. If you’re into pricier options, I’ve heard good things about Playa and Rahua, but I haven’t tried either.

  21. Skillful Cook Logo

    It’s definitely a splurge, but I’m obsessed with True Botanicals. They’ve done a bunch of clinical trials on their effectiveness, compared to other high-end skincare brands, AND they’re made exclusively with ingredients independently certified-nontoxic for humans and the environment by MADE SAFE™.

  22. Skillful Cook Logo

    For shampoo, I like Nature’s Gate: Aloe Vera + Macadamia Oil Moisturizing Shampoo. It’s pretty easy to find, the price is not high, and it does a good job cleaning my hair without drying it out.

  23. Skillful Cook Logo

    Ok, I am SO glad you asked about clean skincare & cosmetics, because YES I AM an enthusiast!! I love talking about this stuff. I actually found Arbonne about 2 years ago and will fully disclose up front that I became a consultant with them about a year ago. But it’s because I feel so passionate about safer products for all, and Arbonne literally has everything: skincare (cradle to grave, from babies, to teens, young adults and anti-aging lines), personal care products, hair care, amazing cosmetics and even a full line of nutrition. Everything is certified Vegan (so that means it’s not just cruelty free, but there are no nasty animal by-products in anything), plus free of parabens, phthalates, PABAs, SLS/SLES, petroleum & mineral oil, formaldehyde (I had no idea this was even a “thing” allowed in our products), etc. And the best part is that they WORK without being toxic. So yah, I kind love this stuff. 😉

    What I do like about Beautycounter is how they have really brought safer skincare to the forefront of discussions. That being said, Arbonne has been doing this for nearly 40 years, not just 5. I can’t speak to how their products work, but I have heard similar complaints as you – that they just aren’t that effective.

    One of my favorite ways to get enough hydration during the day is with a diffuser pitcher (I think that’s what it’s called..??). You can put fruit and herbs in it to steep so you have flavored water for days! 🙂 Lemon & mint, and blackberries & sage are 2 of my favorite combos.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      I should add that Arbonne does not have a monthly purchase minimum either. Sounds like Beautycounter does? Happy to share more info or samples with anybody (and I am a NO PRESSURE sales kind of gal :)).

    2. Skillful Cook Logo

      Yes I’ve thought about getting a diffuser pitcher! Also heard of Arbonne and have friends that are into it – I’ll check it out!

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        Just be careful… Arbonne doesn’t disclose all of their ingredients or test for contaminants. They also use some ingredients that rank really high on the EWG database (like retinol which is a 9). Just make sure you do your research before trying anything. I had some bad reactions to their products and found out these things after the fact and wished I had looked into it more beforehand. The same goes for all brands though I should say. Make sure you are doing your research…