My LUSH Faves

By Holly Sosa

I first discovered LUSH a few years back when a friend gifted me a Sex Bomb bath bomb. From then on, it was love at first fizz. I’m a full blown LUSH addict now and have experimented with nearly every bath bomb, bubble bar, lotion, shower gel, well…pretty much everything they have to offer. I’ve loved literally every single item I’ve purchased from LUSH, which isn’t something I can say for any other cosmetics or toiletries brand. While I would recommend everything I’ve tried from the vegetarian-based brand, there are a few items that I just never leave the store without grabbing. My LUSH faves feature a little bit of everything and are a great reference for newbies to the brand.

Sex Bomb Bath Bomb

This was my first LUSH product and the beginning of my addiction. The soft jasmine and ylang ylang scents are soothing while the soy milk moisturizes my skin. This is still one of my favorite bath bombs LUSH offers and I almost never leave the store without grabbing one.

Twilight Bath Bomb

Lavender is my all time favorite scent in the world, so when I was beginning my journey into LUSH I figured Twilight would be a safe bet. The satisfying purple and blue fizz and the instant scent of lavender has made this one a pre-bedtime favorite.

I Love Juicy Shampoo

This brightly scented shampoo features ingredients like papaya, kiwi, pineapple, and mango juices. I love this particular shampoo because it helps with my oily hair. The acids in the fruit juices absorb some of the oil produced by the scalp. My hair always feels light and healthy after washing with I Love Juicy.

Happy Happy Joy Joy Conditioner

This is a gentle conditioner that’s good for all hair types. I love that it give my hair moisture without being too oily since my hair is already pretty greasy on it’s own.

LUSH is my favorite beauty brand. While it was a gift that prompted me to look more into the company, it’s their animal friendly, environmentally conscious, and natural approach to beauty that keeps me coming back for more. Not only do I feel good about using their products, but they’re effective. They didn’t send me anything or pay me to say this, friends. It’s just genuinely my favorite beauty company and I think everyone should experience at least one of their bath bombs in their lifetime, ha!

For more beauty and cosmetic recommendations from me, be sure to follow the Our Holly Days page on Facebook where I update daily throughout the week.

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10 Things to Watch on Netflix in October

By Holly Sosa

This post is sponsored by Netflix. Thank you to Netflix for partnering with me and thank you readers for supporting the brands that support this blog and my family.

In just a few days, October will be here which means we can officially start enjoying all things Halloween (even though some of us lit our pumpkin candles a little early, read: me). My family has a weekly tradition of family movie night where we move our dinner from the dining room table to the coffee table and watch a title on Netflix. In preparation for our October movie nights, I researched a few titles to add to our queue for our weekly tradition. Netflix has plenty of titles to set the Halloween mood and I’ve gathered up ten of them to help set the scene for any October movie night.

  • Practical Magic
  • Once Upon a Time
  • Stranger Things
  • The Walking Dead
  • American Horror Story
  • Dexter
  • Charmed
  • The Addams Family
  • Goosebumps
  • Sleepy Hollow

These spooky titles are a mixture of some family friendly and some you’d probably rather watch with other adults, but no matter what the age group, there is something on the list for everyone. Our family will be enjoying The Addams Family this weekend with plenty of popcorn and snacks.

What spooky titles are you looking forward to watching on Netflix this October? Let’s chat in the comments below.

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After School Routine + My Kids Favorite Snack

By Holly Sosa

This post was sponsored by Nabisco as part of an Integrated Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.

I’ve nestled the kids into our school routine with homework packets, reading logs, and permission slips scattering the kitchen island every afternoon. The kids work on math sheets and reading comprehension while I start dinner prep between helping with long subtraction and timing their reading assignments. Set up at the dining room table with a fresh glass of water and an after school snack, they don’t realize that they’re developing study habits that will help them throughout their schooling.

They take the bus this year, not because they need to, but because I promised them in kindergarten that we’d revisit their request to ride the bus when they were in second grade, thinking they’d forget by the time second grade rolled around. They didn’t forget. And the walk with sister child to pick up her brothers from the bus stop has become a welcome part of our daily routine. It’s not long after we walk through the front door that they’re all asking for a snack and hoping that when they throw open the doors to the snack cupboard that they’ll find a box of TEDDY SOFT BAKED Filled Snacks, one of their favorites. The lovable bear-shaped snack is made with real ingredients like milk, eggs, and chocolate (which also happens to be their favorite filling flavor of the two available). My kids love them and I approve of the no high fructose corn syrup, no artificial flavors, and no artificial colors treat. Plus, they’re easy to grab at my local Walmart while I’m doing my usual weekly shopping.

Enter the sweepstakes below for a chance to win one for twelve $50 Walmart gift cards or one of two grand prizes for a $200 Walmart gift card. I-C will randomly select 14 winners from all program entries and will facilitate fulfillment of the winning prizes.

Nabisco Snacktime Sweepstakes
After school snacks were always a part of my routine growing up and as a mother, it gives me a feeling of comfort seeing my children enjoy the same routine I did. I believe in encouraging good study habits and helping my children to develop a routine that will follow them through their school years into college, if that’s what they choose.

Learn more about TEDDY SOFT BAKED Filled Snacks, you can visit them on Facebook or Twitter. You can also discover more about the fun snack on the Discover Teddy website.

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REESE’S Peanut Butter Cup Scones

By Holly Sosa

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #DelightfulMoments #CollectiveBias

There’s something about fall that practically demands a hot cup of coffee and scones in the early afternoon. Crisp air and a cozy sweater just aren’t the same without dunking a scone into a warm comforting cup of coffee. Scone recipes are my favorite to experiment with because they’re so rustic and easy to pull together that I can almost never ruin them. Earlier this week, I was inspired by the new seasonal flavors while shopping at my local Walmart. The International Delight® Seasonal Creamers featured the flavors we all look forward to like Pumpkin Pie Spice, but there was also a REESE’S Peanut Butter Cup flavor that begged me to take it home. And naturally, I obliged. My husband is a chocolate peanut butter fanatic, so when I told him I’d be using some of the creamer to create REESE’S Peanut Butter Cup Scones, he was happy to wash the dishes for me as we waited for the scones to bake.

I started by adding flour, sugar, baking powder, and some salt to a large mixing bowl.

Next, I added in some cold butter that I grated with my cheese grater and some peanut butter. I mixed it together just slightly to start incorporating the ingredients.

In a separate bowl, I whisked together an egg, plain Greek yogurt, some International Delight® REESE’S Peanut Butter Cup creamer, and vanilla.

I added the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and tossed in a few peanut butter and chocolate chips, stirring until just combined. Then I got in there with my hands to ensure the dry mixture was thoroughly incorporated.

I floured my kitchen counter and placed the dough over it, forming it into about an eight inch circle. I cut it into eighths and transferred each slice to a baking sheet.

The REESE’S Peanut Butter Cup Scones baked for about 12 minutes. I pulled them out and allowed them to cool completely before enjoying, much to my husband’s dismay. Waiting that long for his favorite treat was torturous for him, ha!

I flavored my coffee with some of the same International Delight® REESE’S Peanut Butter Cup creamer I used in the scones and dunked them in for a treat that was practically perfect. The creamer is rich and smooth and the hint of flavor from the coffee made the scones even more delectable. If there’s not International Delight® REESE’S Peanut Butter Cup creamer in your coffee, there should be, my friends.

For more fall inspired recipes featuring the International Delight® Seasonal Creamers, be sure to visit the social hub where bloggers like me share some of our favorites inspired by the flavors we found at our local Walmart stores.

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3 Period Hacks for Moms

By Holly Sosa

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #PeriodConfidence #CollectiveBias

After having children, my periods were never the same. The general consensus from my close friends is that our periods are heavier and come with a vast array of new symptoms (chin hair, anyone?). Every month, I dreaded getting my period because it felt like a ball and chain, limiting my usual daily activities, and making me feel like I couldn’t participate in certain events. I’ve since discovered a few period hacks for moms that have helped me feel free and allowed me to go about my everyday life without concern.

Essential Oils

I frequently use essential oil blends to help relieve some of my premenstrual symptoms. A citrus blend is great for lifting my mood, peppermint blends help with energy, and lavender helps to soothe and calm.

Diva Cup

The DivaCup is a reusable, bell-shaped silicone menstrual cup that works by collecting my flow instead of absorbing it. I get twelve hours of leak free protection with the clean, comfortable, and convenient cup. It comes in two sizes: Model 1, which is recommended for women under the age of thirty who have not yet delivered vaginally or by caesarean section; and Model 2, which is recommended for women over the age of thirty and/or women who have delivered vaginally or by caesarean section. Both models are available at CVS and I easily found mine in the feminine care section along with the other usual supplies. The DivaCup is made up completely of healthcare grade silicone and is free of chemicals, plastic, BPA, latex, and dyes to assure comfort and durability. It travels well and is free from leaks, offering protection all day no matter my level of activity. As a mom who has a new situation down below, I love that my DivaCup allows me freedom while I’m on my period and I don’t feel tethered to tampons or pads. I insert it in the morning and wear it all day, removing, emptying, and washing it under warm water before reinserting it for bed. (Note: refer to the user guide before using the cup and consult a healthcare provider if you have questions about your vaginal or gynecological health.) Their Consumer Care Team is available to answer questions and concerns. They can be reached at support@divacup.com, 1-866-44-3482, or via their social media networks. This team is really the best team to contact and are super helpful to customers. They are on the phone with women, for insertion, removal etc.

Heating Pad

Cramps are the actual worst thing ever about menstruation. Since having children, my cramps have gotten worse and I dread knowing I’ll have to suffer through them. One way I’ve found relief is by using a heating pad over my abdomen. The heat helps my uterus to relax and the contracting becomes less painful.

While none of these provide a period cure they’ve certainly helped me feel less a slave to my period and have helped me to gain my sense of self back during my time of the month. I’m able to live my life like I would any other day and not feel self conscious or stressed about having enough supplies to last me through the week or risking a situation where I don’t have access to a tampon or pad.

Let’s talk period hacks in the comments below. What’s one of your tried and true ways for period relief? Visit The DivaCup social hub for more period hacks from bloggers like me.

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Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Bread

By Holly Sosa

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #CapturingTraditions #CollectiveBias

When the weather starts to cool off even the slightest bit here in the desert, I turn into a walking talking meme. I pull out my sweaters, fall boots, decorative gourds, and start baking anything and everything flavored with apples or pumpkins. Friends, it’s finally starting to cool off and my boots have already been worn in. My kitchen smells like pumpkin spice, apple cinnamon, and every other possible fall cliche. Last week, I made a loaf of this Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Bread and it’s my official welcoming ode to fall.

I started by adding some flour, oats, salt, cinnamon, and baking powder to a large bowl and mixing it together.

In a separate bowl I added some sugar, oil, eggs, yogurt, applesauce, and vanilla and combined them together

Next I added the wet ingredients to the dry and stirred until just combined.

I transferred the batter into a loaf pan that I had greased ahead of time and baked it in a 350F degree oven for about 45 minutes.

Once the bread was done baking, I let it cool for several minutes and then made a glaze. I added some applesauce and powdered sugar to a small bowl and whisked it together before pouring it over the top of the Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Bread. The glaze trickled down into the cracks of the bread adding a little extra sweetness.

When the bread cooled completely, I served it with a dollop of Gold n Soft smeared over a slice. It’s got a perfectly buttery taste, but it’s easier to spread over super moist bread and baked treats. Gold n Soft contains no cholesterol or hydrogenated oils and has zero trans fats per serving. The small 15 ounce tub makes it the perfect size to keep on hand for my fall breads. Just look at how smooth that Gold n Soft goes on over my Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Bread, getting into every nook and cranny!

Yum
Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Bread

Ingredients

    Bread
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup applesauce
  • Glaze
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, mix together flour, oats, salt, cinnamon, and baking powder. Set aside.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix sugar, oil, eggs, yogurt, applesauce, and vanilla.
  3. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients until just combined.
  4. Transfer batter into a prepared loaf pan and bake for 45-50 minutes until toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for several minutes.
  6. Prepare glaze by whisking together applesauce and powdered sugar.
  7. Drizzle glaze over the top of the bread and allow to settle before serving.
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For more Gold n Soft recipe inspiration from bloggers like me, be sure to visit the Gold n Soft social hub.

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Using the Monthly Notes in the Erin Condren Life Planner

By Holly Sosa

The new 2017-2018 Erin Condren Life Planner features a handy monthly notes page at the beginning of every month. When I first received my new planner, I was unsure of how to best use this space. It wasn’t long before I realized how having this monthly snapshot would help me in my goal getting. I’ve shared before how my planner is actually my goal planner and not just somewhere I keep track of appointments. Once I remembered my planner was my goal planner, it became obvious that the monthly notes were the best place to track my yearly goals and break them down into smaller steps to help me achieve them.

For instance, one of my goals for 2017 is to have 100,000 monthly views here on Our Holly Days. Setting attainable monthly goals will help me to take smaller steps towards my overall goal. For the month of September, one of my goals is to have 50,000 monthly views (halfway to my goal for the year!). I use the left column to write out all of my goals and major monthly events like a baby shower I hosted or the first day back to school. Everything goes in that left column from work to personal to family goals. It’s a great reference for me to check on my progress throughout the month and helps me to stay on track for my larger yearlong goals.

Since my planner is also a media journal of sorts, I use the right column to track the little things happening currently. What I’m reading, watching, and even eating. I also believe everyone should have something to look forward to every month, so I add a little about what I’m excited about. At the small area at the bottom of the monthly notes page is where I like to write about my favorite memory for the month. I’ve only been doing this for a few months and it’s one of my favorite parts about my planner.

At the top of the monthly notes page are four circles and I put those to use for my goal planning by helping me to celebrate goals I attacked and achieved along with highlights from the month. For August, I had set a goal of 17,000 unique monthly views on Our Holly Days and I kicked that goal’s rear end with an end of month number of 31,000 unique monthly views. I use the circles at the top to shout my achievements to myself and help motivate me for the upcoming month. The circles are also a great place to jot down monthly highlights. For me, August was a big month since my youngest started preschool. We also hosted the big fight in our home and it was such a fun time for us with our friends.

I know many in the planner community have struggled with how to best utilize this space. I know I did, at first. But since I figured out how to make it work for me, it’s actually my favorite part of my planner. It’s been helpful for tracking my goals, keeping me on task, and letting me celebrate when I kick butt!

Love my planner? Use my referral code to get $10 off your first Erin Condren purchase and start your own goal planner.

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Brown Sugar Bacon Baked Beans

By Holly Sosa

This post was sponsored by S&W Beans and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.

Is there even a more lovely string of words than Brown Sugar Bacon Baked Beans? As far as I’m concerned there is not. Three of my favorite foods in one dish that marry into a perfect blend of savory sweet flavors. These beans are the perfect cookout food, but I need no such excuse to whip these up any night of the week. One of my favorite times to serve them is during sporting events like football games and fight nights during the fall season. With the chilly weather, a warm bowl of hearty beans fills the belly and offers warm, comforting flavors. These Brown Sugar Bacon Beans offer all the flavors of fall and are simple to throw together for any fall evening.

To start I fry up some bacon pieces over the stove. Once the bacon is crisp and ready, I remove it to a plate lined with paper towels and set it aside to cool. Once cooled, I cover it and place it in the fridge for later.

Then I finely dice up an onion and a green pepper and sautè it in the same skillet with some of the leftover bacon grease until softened.

Next I add several cans of S&W Pinto Beans to my slow cooker. Nobody does beans better, and this choosy cook knows it! S&W Beans has the highest standards in the industry, delivering my family premium quality while offering a convenient way to enjoy our favorite bean recipes. They also offer a wide variety, even organic or lower sodium options, to cover all of my family’s preferences.

Next I add in some molasses, brown sugar, cider vinegar, dry mustard, and liquid smoke.

I toss in the sautéed onion and green pepper and give everything a good stir.

I cook the beans on low for about four hours. Once they’re finished cooking, I grab the bacon from the fridge, microwave it for a few seconds, and add it to the pot.

Before serving to my friends, I garnish with freshly chopped parsley.

I made a giant batch of these Brown Sugar Bacon Baked Beans for the recent crossover fight. My husband and I hosted the evening in our house and fed our friends yummy food (like these beans!) while we watched. I’m not going to lie though, for me the knockout winner was these beans!

Now through 12/31/2017, S&W Beans is offering $1 off two cans of S&W Beans. Get (and print) your coupon from the S&W Beans website to start making your own bean recipe!

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Fudgy Coconut Oil Brownies

By Holly Sosa

This post was sponsored by Crisco® Coconut Oil as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.

Fudgy brownies are one of my favorite indulgences. I love a warm gooey chocolate brownie fresh from the oven. There are several tricks for getting the perfect balance of fudge and gooey texture, but I’ve found the simplest way is to use coconut oil. These Fudgy Coconut Oil Brownies are an indulgent treat that will satisfy the chocolate-iest of sweet tooth cravings.

I start by adding some bittersweet chocolate and Crisco® Unrefined Organic Coconut Oil to a microwave safe bowl. The coconut oil is a great substitute for butter and other oils.

I’ve found Crisco® Refined Organic Coconut Oil to be the perfect secret ingredient since it doesn’t have the smell or taste of coconut; so it doesn’t alter the flavor of the chocolate in the brownies (unrefined still has the flavor and aroma of coconut). However, I happen to love the taste of coconut so I used unrefined for this recipe to add just a hint of coconut flavor.

Shop at Target and use Cartwheel to take advantage of 25% off on Crisco Refined Organic Coconut Oil in store from September 3rd through the 30th.

In thirty second increments, I melt the chocolate and coconut oil until they’re completely combined.

I add in some white sugar, brown sugar, eggs, and an egg yolk and combine everything together.

Then I add in some flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda and stir until just combined.

I transfer the dough to a baking dish lined with parchment paper and bake for about 35 minutes until the batter is cooked through.

Before cutting into the brownies, I let them cool completely and then stick them in the fridge for a bit. They’re incredibly gooey so this helps them cut cleanly into squares.

Yum
Fudgy Coconut Oil Brownies

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 cup Crisco Unrefined Organic Coconut Oil (measured solid)
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and line baking dish with parchment paper.
  2. In a large microwave safe bowl combine chocolate and coconut oil. Microwave in 30 second increments until smooth.
  3. Allow to cool slightly before adding white sugar, brown sugar, eggs, yolk, and vanilla.
  4. Add the flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda and stir until just combined.
  5. Pour batter into baking dish and bake for 35 minutes.
  6. Allow to cool completely, place into fridge to set further before cutting into squares.
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For more information on Crisco® Coconut Oil, both refined and unrefined, be sure to visit the Crisco® page on Facebook. Use the Target store locator to find out where you can purchase either of the Crisco® Coconut Oil varieties.

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3 Things You Should Know About Pink Eye

By Holly Sosa

This post is sponsored by TRP PinkEye Relief. All thoughts, opinions, and ideas are my own. Thank you to TRP for partnering with me. And thank you readers for supporting the brands that support this blog and my family.

With kids back in school, preparation for the inevitable spread of germs is on parents minds. Back to school season is an excellent time to prepare your medicine cabinet for the unavoidable bugs your kids will contract from their friends. Pink eye is one of the more common ailments parents and teachers see since children often forget to wash their hands or cover their mouths when coughing and sneezing. This guide to things you should know about pink eye will be a handy reference throughout the school year.

What is pink eye?

Pink eye (conjunctivitis) is an inflammation of the thin clear covering of the white of the eye and inside the eyelid. Pink eye is a condition caused by one of three things: a virus (like the common cold), a bacterial infection, or an allergy. The viral version is extremely contagious (can be spread by coughing or sneezing), but with at home treatment will typically clear up on it’s own within several days. The bacterial version, which is also contagious (spread through direct contact) should be treated immediately and can cause damage if left untreated. The allergen version is caused by typical seasonal changes like pollen or dander and can also easily be treated at home.

What are the symptoms of pink eye?

Not surprisingly, a symptom of conjunctivitis is a pink appearance in the eye itself. A viral pink eye usually results in watery, itchy eyes that are sensitive to light. Bacterial conjunctivitis will often result in a greenish yellow discharge in the corner of the eye and often causes the eyelids to stick together after waking up. Allergic conjunctivitis usually manifests itself with watery, burning, and itchy eyes usually accompanied by a stuffy nose.

How do I treat pink eye at home?

TRP PinkEye Relief is homeopathic medicine that brings temporary relief for the redness, burning, watering, and overnight crusting of conjunctivitis. The eye drops can be used throughout the day for relief as needed and use 100% natural ingredients that are safe and gentle. TRP PinkEye Relief has no known side effects or interactions with other medications and can be used in children and adults ages two and up. The product is the recipient of the 2017 Women’s Choice Award for America’s most recommended pink eye relief product and is readily available at major retailers like Walmart, Target, CVS, RiteAid, Kroger, and Walgreens.

While anyone can get conjunctivitis, preschoolers, schoolchildren, college students, teachers and daycare workers are particularly at risk for the contagious types of pink eye because they work closely with others in the classroom. This makes back to school season a prime opportunity to stock up on pink eye treatments for your children and family.

To learn more about pink eye, it’s causes, and how you can prevent conjunctivitis, TRP PinkEye Relief. You can also enter for a chance to win a backpack filled with back to school supplies and a TRP bundle (sweepstakes ends September 30th, 2017).

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