Affordable At Home Teeth Whitening

     “A smile is the prettiest thing you can wear.”

Smile goals

I’ve always believed that my smile was one of my best assets! It’s something I always took pride in. People would always tell me, “you have such a pretty smile.” Recently, I fell in love with coffee and red wine and noticed my teeth were beginning to stain. I wanted improve my smile by making my teeth white and bright again. Teeth whitening seemed to be the best option to help me accomplish my #smilegoals.

Affordability

I wanted to try teeth whitening in the past, but cost was an issue. It can be really expensive at the dentist! All of that changed, however, when I heard of Smile Brilliant. I did my research and was immediately intrigued that it was the #1 professional at home teeth whitening company. Best of all, it was also very affordable and a convenient way to help me achieve my goals!

User-friendly

To be honest, I was a little intimidated about trying this at home by myself. I wasn’t sure about the safety of the gel and I was nervous about teeth sensitivity, which had been a problem for me in the past. However, it all worked out thanks to the detailed instructions and visuals included in the package. There were step-by-step instructions for every part of the process including making your whitening trays and also the teeth whitening process after you receive the trays. The customer service associates were also very helpful in assisting me with any questions I had prior to using the product.

The process

Smile Brilliant emailed me asking if I would like to try their product and after doing some research on the company, I agreed. They asked medical questions about my dental history, I signed and returned the consent form, and days later I received my whitening kit in the mail. Easy, right? I made my teeth molds right at home and sent them back in an envelope. Once they received my molds and made my whitening trays, they sent them back to me a couple of days later. The entire process only took a couple of days.

How to yield the best results

I would usually do the whitening at night after I’d eaten dinner for maximum results. Overall, I completed the whitening procedure every other night over the span of 10 days. I didn’t do it every night because I was afraid that it would be too harsh on my gums and teeth. Because I do suffer from sensitivity at times, they recommended that I coat my gums with Vaseline prior to applying the whitening gel. Thankfully, I ended up having little to no sensitivity at all.  This was a critical step that made for a much easier experience for me personally and I was able to leave the whitening trays in for more than the recommended hour. Also, I did not drink coffee or red wine during this time period because I wanted to make sure that my whitening would be noticeable and that the future staining wouldn’t affect my overall results.

The results are in!

Overall, I saw results! Although I wasn’t as strict about completing it daily and even missed a couple of days in between, I think my teeth were at least 1 shade lighter after I completed the process. I would do this more often over the next month to see if I can achieve even better results than before. I would definitely recommend this product as an easy, affordable way to whiten your teeth .

I appreciate Smile Brilliant’s convenience and the user-friendly kit. If you want to whiten your teeth, enter the giveaway below for a chance to win a FREE Smile Brilliant Teeth Whitening Kit! Give it a try 🙂

Comment below if you’ve ever tried at-home teeth whitening or interested in trying it in the future. I want to hear your experience!

Smile Brilliant Giveaway

Enter to win a FREE Smile Brilliant Teeth Whitening Kit by clicking here: Smile Brilliant Giveaway 

It’s really easy! All you have to do is enter your name and email address 🙂

ALSO….

If you don’t win, you can purchase your kit with the following 15% off coupon code: mylivingspree15

***The giveaway ends October 26, 2018 at 11:59pm and the winner will be announced October 27, 2018! Open to U.S., UK, Australia and Canadian residents only.***

Good luck everyone and thanks for reading!

<!– SMILE BRILLIANT ARTICLE WIDGET START –> <a id=”smilebrilliant_widget_article” ishidden=”1″ title=”Professional Teeth Whitening”>Professional Teeth Whitening</a> <script src=”//www.smilebrilliant.com/widget-article/mylivingspree” type=”text/javascript”></script> <!– SMILE BRILLIANT ARTICLE WIDGET END –>

Follow:

Poolside Slay: Always Extra, Never Too Much

We’re coming towards the end of my favorite season of the year—Summa, Summa, Summatime! But, there’s still time to catch some sun by the pool or even take a vacation! I love a good #slaycation though, so I naturally tend to dress to impress no matter where I go! Sometimes I walk out of the house and my friends ask, “Where are you going, girl?! Why do you have all of that on? Why are you so dressed up?” I meannn, its better to be overdressed than underdressed, right? LOL. I live by the saying, “always extra, never too much!” It’s okay to make fashion fun…even in the sun! I’m here to give you a little style inspiration if you are planning to slay during your next vacay.

After staying at this beautiful, chic boutique resort for a couple of days, I was naturally inspired to create a super cute poolside look! I chose this high-cut one piece bathing suit from Kiss Runway because its colorful floral print screamed “vacation wear”. I love high-cut bathing suits because they give a simple, yet sexy flare and are on trend for summer ’18 swimwear.

Instead of wearing shorts to cover-up my bathing suit (which I normally do lol), I chose to wear this super cute sarong from ASOS! This slinky fringed sarong is so versatile and can be worn with any swimsuit! Literally! It’s the most stylish cover-up for a poolside slay.

Last but not least, I even wore my favorite pair of fringe earrings to compliment this entire look. They’re currently my favorite pair of statement earrings and the color makes almost everything pop! They are not as heavy as they look and I’m definitely getting a lot of wear out of them because of the versatile color and style of the earrings.

Moral of the story, don’t be afraid to slay all day, everyday! By the pool or by the beach, have fun with fashion. Remember, be yourself! Always extra, never too much.

Swimsuit: Kiss Runway

Sarong: ASOS

Earrings: Ch0ked

Photographer: @Farranweezy

Follow:

Moodie Foodie: Healthy Food For Any Mood!

Lately, I’ve been in search of ways to eat healthier, while simultaneously making it fun and cost-friendly! For people like me, healthy eating can be a chore and meal prepping can be mundane. Do you feel like you don’t know where to begin when it comes to making healthy choices or rather you’ve been eating healthy but need new ideas and recipes? If the answer is yes to both, then this blog post is for you! I’ve teamed up with a fellow Vanderbilt alumna and food blogger, Garrah Carter-Mason, to bring you tips and ideas to eat healthier foods! Garrah has a wonderful food blog filled with inspiration for delicious meals to cook and restaurants to visit! Below, Garrah shares a little about her healthy eating journey, her secret to saving money when grocery shopping, and her favorite go-to meals for everyday life!

Making a lifestyle change

Healthy eating has become “something like a phenomenon” and I’m loving it! I started my healthy eating journey in undergrad when I decided to cut red meat out of my diet. I ate fish and chicken for years and eventually cut those out as well. Now, I am a vegetarian and my body loves me for it! I advocate for healthy eating because I want to see people live longer, stronger, and healthier lives. My body changed in a major way since I changed my lifestyle.  

Dispelling the myth

I know you’re probably thinking—Why would I even try to eat healthy when it’s so time-consuming and expensive? Well, I’m here to tell you that’s a myth! I eat healthy every day (with a cheat meal or gluten-free donut every now and then lol). I don’t spend a ton of money and my meals don’t take a lot of time to prepare!

What’s my secret? Well, let’s start with grocery shopping! I go to the grocery stores (Kroger and/or Trader Joes) once a week and spend about $30 dollars (crazy, right?). My shopping cart is usually filled with alkaline water, nut milk, beans, veggies, fruits, protein supplements, more veggies and more fruit! These items aren’t really that expensive especially when you purchase a variety of fresh produce.

A day in the life

I’ll go through a day in the life (with a breakfast, snack, and dinner recipe) to show how easy eating healthy really is!

Breakfast

Breakfast: 5-minute avocado toast | Ingredients: 2 slices of sourdough toast, 1 avocado, crushed red pepper, sea salt, black pepper, fresh squeezed lime juice, and cilantro. Toast the bread, mash slices of avocado on it, and add toppings. See, easy peasy!

Midday snack

Now, let’s do a midday snack—a smoothie bowl! In a blender, combine frozen fruit, protein powder, coconut water, and 1 avocado. Blend together until smooth. Pour into a bowl. Top with coconut flakes, chia seeds, granola (plenty of it), and fresh fruit of your choice. Again, that took all of what, 5 minutes?

Dinner

Now, I know most of you reading this are probably in school or working a full-time job and don’t have time for long, drawn-out recipes. So, here’s a quick and easy one. It’s called a Buddha bowl, and you can make it any way you want. All it encompasses is a protein, a starch, and veggies of your choice! I roast chickpeas in the oven at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. Add them to your bowl. Also add fresh corn, kale, brown rice, and scallions. Top with salsa. That’s it! I promise it’s as easy and good as it sounds.

Your body will thank you

Now you see that healthy eating doesn’t have to consume your life; it can actually be fun once you get the hang of it and start seeing results! I am a testament! Since I’ve changed my eating habits I have been able to maintain a healthy weight, my skin is better, my digestive system is better, I have more energy, and I am all around a happier person! All you have to do is just start by experimenting with the recipes above and add foods that you like! Mix things up a bit and always find ways to look for new inspiration when you start to get tired eating the same things. No matter what you do, continue eating healthy and make it a habit and it will eventually become part of your lifestyle!

For more recipes: check out my blog @birdfoodie on Instagram and BirdFoodie on Facebook! If you have any questions or would like to get in touch, please email me at birdfoodietn@gmail.com. Stay tuned for the plant-based recipe book that I will be releasing soon!

Follow:

EmpowerHER: The PowHER of Your Unapologetic Self

“Phenomenal Woman, That’s Me” –Maya Angelou 

Image above captured by Urban Love Tree Photography

From Cubicles to Cocktails

Recently, I attended an amazing event entitled “The PowHER of Your Unapologetic Self,” hosted by one of my fellow Houston bloggers—Christa Clarke! This event was part of her signature series Cubicles to Cocktails, a quarterly soiree for success-minded women of color to unite after work and exchange thought-provoking conversation over cocktails. Sounds fun, right?! IT WAS!

Christa’s blog www.freeingshe.com and Instagram page @freeingshe are both dedicated to empowering career-driven women of color to truly flourish in ALL aspects of life! She is the go-to person for inspiration on ways to invest in your career, create your ideal lifestyle, and for tools/resources to live life unapologetically free. She produces amazing content, so do yourself a favor and go check out her webpage and social media when you get a chance!

Sip and Shop

It was such a pleasure seeing so many success-minded women of color networking, fellowshipping, and investing in one another. The event hosted local vendors and attendees were able to sip and shop with minority-owned businesses prior to the start of the workshop. Here are some of the local vendors in attendance that evening:

 Kisa Kisa Fashion | www.kisakisafashion.com/
Sterling Silver Vision | Instagram @sterling_silver_vision
I Am So Kate Boutique | www.iamsokate.net/
OurFroPicks Natural Hair and Body Care Products | OurFroPicks.com/
Spectrum Bartending | www.SpectrumMobileBartending.com

After the first hour of the soiree, the setting transitioned into a workshop. Tracy Carmen-Jones, President and Founder of The WaterLight Group, led us in a thought-provoking discussion on the importance of being your authentic self in the workplace.

Unzip the layers

She used her hobby of skiing to drive home the message that in order to be your authentic self in the workplace, you have to be vulnerable and relatable! For example, when we go skiing we have to layer up. We put on a tank, a shirt, a thermal, a jacket, and a coat. But, if you want your life to change at work, you are going to have to unzip the layers! You want your fellow colleagues to get to know you as a person, so when opportunities arise they will consider you.

What are you a resource for?

People want to know who you are—what makes you relatable? Can they consider you a resource? Performance capital alone is not enough. You want to establish performance capital AND relationship capital. For me, I want my colleagues to know that excellence is the standard and that I am the go-to person to get the job done as far as performance! As for relationship, I want my colleagues to know that I am fun, outgoing and creative! I am currently “on a living spree” and I am not shy about sharing my travel experiences, my creative pursuits and fashion inspiration. I am not ashamed of who I am and I want to own that same confidence in the workplace as well as outside of the workplace.

Create Your Own Personal Narrative

As Ms. Jones stressed, you are the creator of your personal narrative—what do you want to say? You get to decide what people know about you and how they interact with you. Decide what you want them to know and LIVE IT! Start talking about the things you care about and things you like to do. Start creating your own personal narrative in the workplace!

Bring YOUrself to Work!

I encourage you to consider topics you can bring up next time you have a conversation in the workplace. I challenge you to figure out what exactly you want your colleagues to know about you professionally and personally and begin developing that narrative in your conversations and interactions the next couple of days. What can you do as early as tomorrow to have more open dialogue about yourself in the workplace? Could you possibly attend a happy hour after work with coworkers that you don’t normally engage with? Take a coffee break or attend lunch with someone mid-day? Remember, you create your own narrative. Bring yourself to work, not your representative!

Don’t forget to check out Christa’s website www.freeingshe.com and subscribe to her blog for updates on the next Cubicles to Cocktails event. Trust me, you do not want to miss it! Invest in yourself, invest in your business, and invest in your life!

 

 

Follow:

Balling on a Budget: Top Ten Ways to Travel More and Save

“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list” -Susan Sontag

Summer is near and many of us are busy planning vacations and getaways for the year! If you haven’t noticed already, I LOVE to travel! It has become one of my most enjoyable hobbies. Once I started traveling frequently, I quickly began to realize that I would need to find ways to save more in order to travel more. And by that, I mean ways to save money when booking and planning trips. Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t always expensive to travel if you have the right resources. Below, I want to share with you some tips and tools that will save you the most money when planning your next vacation getaway. If you’re an avid traveler, this may be a refresher for you and you might even learn a thing or two! If you are new to traveling or planning in general, get your pin and paper ready to take notes!

1. Flight deal alerts

Flight deal alerts are a great way to book the cheapest flights and find glitch fares. One of the top ways to save is booking a cheap flight to your destination of choice. For example, I was able to purchase a non-stop, round trip flight to Dubai for only $342 using some of the resources that I will outline in this post. Yes, this glitch fare was the same cost or cheaper than a domestic flight to a city here in the U.S.! And it was all because I caught a flight deal, which is essentially the majority of the cost when you are traveling. Once you’ve crossed the hurdle of purchasing the best flight, the rest of the planning process is smooth sailing. My go-to sites for flight deals and glitch fares are TheFlightDeal.com, SecretFlying.com, and AirfareWatchdog.com. If you are a Houston resident and want alerts for flights specifically from Houston go to EscapeHouston.com. I highly recommend signing up to receive free email alerts from one of the above sites! I personally signed up for TheFlightDeal.com and EscapeHouston.com and I love seeing those flight deals pop up in my inbox daily!

Other sites to check out for flight deals:

2. Flight point programs

Most airline programs offer free rewards programs for you to accrue sky miles or points when you fly. I normally fly with Southwest or United Airlines and I’ve been able to rack up thousands of points and even booked free flights as a result! Sometimes airline offer deals to earn double or triple points, which is an easy way to score even more points and rack up savings in the end. Start earning miles/points by signing up with your most frequent flight carrier today so you can keep track of your sky miles!

According to U.S. News, the Best Airline Rewards Programs are in order as follows:

  1. Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan
  2. Delta SkyMiles
  3. JetBlue TrueBlue
  4. Southwest Rapid Rewards
  5. United MileagePlus
  6. American Airlines AAdvantage
  7. HawaiianMiles
  8. Frontier EarlyReturns
  9. FREE SPIRIT

3. Use flight search tools

Sometimes 3rd party sites such as Momondo.com, FlightsBank.com, and SkyScanner.com are best for finding and comparing cheap flights. I personally scored a deal through FlightsBank for a flight to Cancun for at least $100 cheaper than the flights I found directly on the carrier site. This will save you a lot of time and money! Google flights is also an awesome search tool and it provides information on which days have the lowest fares on any given day. Go ahead and start setting up those flight alert searches now!

4. Know the best time to purchase the flight

Tuesday is the cheapest day to book flights. The best time on average to purchase flights are 3 weeks to 4 months in advance according to Forbes.com. I generally recommend booking on Tuesday because I have noticed that flights literally can go up from one day to the next! I’m the type of person to book at least 4 to 6 weeks in advance. Sometimes it may not be the cheapest route to book too far in advance and it is definitely pretty risky to wait until the last minute before your departure to book your flight. My biggest recommendation here is stick to the timing window that I listed above. It usually ends up being the best time cost-wise and it also gives you piece of mind.

5. Stay at a hostel

This concept is pretty simple. If you are traveling solo or even in a group of less than 4 people, you can save a ton by staying at a hostel. They are great alternatives if you are looking for inexpensive lodging for travel purposes. Personally, I have only stayed at a hostel once when I was traveling with a group in college for mission work. It worked well for what we were doing there and we were concerned about cost more than luxury or comfort. Not to say that you will be living in the dumps or anything, but hostels provide you with exactly what you need if you want to save the most money. I would recommend them if you are looking for major savings.

6. Book an Airbnb

I literally use Airbnb ALL OF THE TIME! It is so much cheaper than booking a hotel, which can be very expensive nowadays. Airbnbs not only save you money, but they offer more space and accommodations that you would not otherwise have if staying in a hotel. Not to mention, they are perfect for group travel because you are able to sleep more people comfortably and split the cost! Another similar alternative to consider is HomeAway.

7. Know the best time to travel

Normally Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays are the cheapest days to travel for U.S. domestic flights. For flights to Europe, weekdays are cheaper than weekends for the most part. So, if you have flexibility with your work schedule and able to take off, this may work to your advantage! Another very important consideration is booking travel for off season. For example, most people travel during spring and summer, so it may be worth-while to consider trips in fall and winter to avoid peak season and save on cost. Also, travel is usually more expensive during the holidays because most people are traveling to visit family during those times.

8. Travel with a group

This one is pretty self-explanatory. You can save a ton on housing alone just by splitting the cost amongst other travelers in a group. Also group rates and discounts for excursions and activities may be a viable option for saving money.

9. Credit card rewards

Okay, let me preface this first by saying I DO NOT support you going out and getting a credit card to travel more so you can get in debt! lol To make this move, you MUST be disciplined enough to not spend money you don’t have! Otherwise, it will add up and you will be floating in debt from flights and frivolous splurges. Having a travel credit card could actually save you money on flights and hotels due to their rewards program and sign-up bonuses worth thousands of points. They also may offer you a deal to earn double or triple points when you use the card for travel (booking flights, hotels, taxis, etc.) or dining purposes. If you’re able to use the card in this way, you can rack up thousands of points to use towards free flights. I personally chose the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card because of its awesome sign-up bonus, opportunities to easily earn points, and its wide range of affiliate partnerships. Their points are transferrable 1:1 with flight carriers such as Southwest, United, Air France, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and many more. You can also transfer your points to hotel travel partners such as Marriot and Hyatt. If you are considering this step, do your research to find out which travel credit card is best for you.

10. Travel consultant

If you are not up to finding all of the deals yourself, then allow someone else to do it for you! Hiring a travel consultant can help you save tons of money on your next big trip. It also saves you time and the headache of planning. Travel consultants know the ins and outs of traveling already and they have access to unpublished rates, discounts, and more. Personally, I am using two different certified travel consultants to book my next international adventures. I highly recommend Jaunts and Gems and The Cultured Experience, so go check them out and tell them Ashley sent you! Both are ready and willing to assist you in the best way possible to help you with all of your travel needs! Actually, Jaunts and Gems offers pre-planned getaways outlined below, so check the dates if interested and join in on the fun 🙂

Hope this guide aids you in traveling more while maintaining a budget! I will share with you in a future post exactly how to budget for a trip and ways to plan/save for trips in advance. If you have more suggestions of ways to save on travel, please leave them in the comments below. And if you have any questions or want more information about the topics listed I want to hear from you! As always, share on your social media and with anyone who could use this helpful information 🙂 Now, let’s go on a living spree!

 

Follow: