Affordable and accessible beauty products I love

Here are some beauty products I’m loving lately! I love that they’re affordable, easy to find (like in basically drug store, Target, etc) and effective.

affordable and accessible beauty products

1. Gold Bond Ultimate Radiance Renewal lotionwith cocoa butter ($8)- smells good, applies well and doesn’t leave stickiness or residue, very moisturizing.

2. Cetaphil Daily Facial Moisturizer, SPF 15($15) – I love that it’s both a moisturizer and a light sunscreen. I’ve been hesitant about these combos because I was worried the sunscreen would feel sticky and heavy. I’ve found with this one that it works well as both and feels light.

3. Batiste Dry Shampoo ($12) – with dry shampoo I look for: how well it works to absorb grease/oil, how well in blends and absorbs into hair (doesn’t leave any color), scent and price. I get this Batiste brand at Target and I’ve seen it also at Walgreens. They have a variety of scents and I like this tropical coconut scent.

4. Rimmel Lash Accelerator Serum– effectively makes your lashes longer and fuller for under $8!

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Teaching English online: VIPKID

Last fall, I started teaching English online with VIPKID (this is partially the reason this blog was neglected for a few months!) If you’ve ever job searched online, you’ve seen postings for online English teachers. There are quite a few companies and I kind of always thought they were scams. A friend in our ward has been with VIPKID for a few years and assured me it’s not a scam and now that I’m a teacher with them I can also assure you it’s a legit and great way to earn extra income.

My favorite thing about it is the flexibility! There’s not a minimum of required hours or classes so I set my schedule. I open my time slots between 8:30-11 pm after the kids go to sleep. I still play soccer on Thursdays and Fridays so if I have a late game, I can adjust my schedule.

I also love teaching the kids. I work with the older kids, they are usually between 8-12. Most all of them take English in school and have been studying for a few years so they have a good background. Most all the kids I’ve taught have been excited about learning and are well behaved.

Things to know about getting hired at VIPKID:

-You need a Bachelor’s degree

-You need to be eligible to work in the US or Canada

-You need at least a year of previous teaching experience (not necessarily teaching English. It can be tutoring, coaching, etc)

-You need to be a native English speaker

-You need a computer, internet access, working camera and microphone (I use this headset)

Things to know about working with VIPKID:

-Each class is 25 minutes long, one on one with the student.

All the lessons are prepared for you! There are about 25-30 slides you go through with the student. All the slides have instructions that only the teacher sees.

-After each class, you write feedback.

-You are paid a base pay, plus a base for each completed class. There are more incentives as well. My base pay is $8 per class. The base pays range between $7-$9 per class. The base pay is determined by your trial class during the application. Teachers are paid every month.

-Part of the application process is teaching a trial demo class (to a VIPKID teacher acting as a student or film yourself teaching an invisible student).

-VIPKID has a mobile and desktop app which make it easy to check your schedule, see information about the student and preview the lesson.

-During the lessons, there is always tech support who they call Firemen. They are always available to help with technical issues (for example your microphone, camera, if the student can’t hear you, etc).

-VIPKID utilizes “TPR” which means ‘total physical response’. This method uses hand gestures in coordination with language teaching. A simple example, is pointing to your eye while saying the word ‘see’.

-Students earn rewards (5 stars) and teacher use reward systems they create, here’s one example of one I’ve made:

-Lessons are not guaranteed. You may go a while when you’re first hired with open time slots and no booked lessons. It took me about 2 months before I started getting regular and more consistent bookings.

Teaching English online VIPKID

The Bottom Line:

If you meet all the requirements, enjoy teaching and working with kids and need a flexible schedule, VIPKID is for you! It’s not enough income to pay a mortgage but it’s a great wage especially since there’s no lesson prep on your part.

I’ve tried to address all the questions I had when I was applying and when I first started teaching. Overall, VIPKID is a great program with awesome students! It’s been a great way for me to make a little income, connect with students and not have to leave my house or kids since they are asleep when I’m teaching. If you’re interested in applying, start here!

My referral code is ‘JENNI1230’ or you can click any of the links above.

The Broad Museum: cool things in LA

The Broad Museum has one of the coolest exhibits I’ve ever been to: the Infinity Mirror Room!

You walk (and stay) on a little platform and feel like you’re floating with how the lights are arranged! It’s hard to judge the depth of the room, it was a breathtaking experience!

This museum is extra awesome because it’s free. There are special exhibits that charge admission but the infinity mirror room is also free. We reserved an admission time slot online for the museum. Once you enter, you can put your name on the list for the mirror room. The museum will send you a text once your time slot is ready. Each party gets about 45 seconds in the mirror room. We waited about 2 and a half hours for the mirror room, in that time we looked at the rest of the museum which is also awesome and took an uber to lunch so we didn’t have to pay twice to enter the parking garage. The Broad isn’t huge, just one large building, you could definitely see everything in half a day.

 

Our other favorite museum is the LA Country Art Museum (LACMA) 

The Golden State

This Winter we’ve been so lucky to experience a huge wildflower bloom right in our backyard! Chino Hills has tons of hiking/walking trails and the Chino Hills State Park. After a very wet and beautiful winter, the rolling hills turned a vibrant green and a few weeks later glowed completely golden! Every turn and hill was so breathtaking, especially since the hills are usually kinda dry and sometimes barren.

Magical Muggles

Earlier this year, we started reading the illustrated Harry Potter books with the kids. We weren’t sure how it would go since the books are pretty long and there aren’t pictures on every single page (the illustrations are gorgeous though!) We read about 15 minutes every night before they go to bed and it quickly became one of our favorite activities. I remember when I first read the Harry Potter books and becoming absorbed in JK Rowling’s story telling. I loved the adventures, characters and mostly the magical elements. When the final book of the series came out (after Dave and I were married) we ordered it same day from Amazon. I stayed up literally all night to finish the book that day because I couldn’t put it down!

Reading it with Brent and Tessa has been a magical experience for us now. I love seeing them discover the characters and story much in the same way I did. Brent’s school does “Literature Day” in place of Halloween where students dress as a character from a book and bring the book with them to the school parade. This year, it was pretty easy to decide which character he would be, and I must say he was the cutest Harry Potter 😉

It’s also been fun watching the movies with them after finishing the book. We are currently on the 3rd book and it’s been a treat for them to be able to see the movie and eat popcorn.

We also went to Universal Studios to see the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Dave and I had gone before and loved it and now that the kids know more about the places, it was so fun to see them experience it for the first time! I especially loved that Brent asked if he could wear his costume to the park!  

They loved the butterbeer drink at the Three Broomsticks restaurant, riding the Flight of the Hippogriff rollercoaster and Brent loved seeing the castle (part of the line to the ride inside). One of the best parts about being a parent is seeing your kids’ excitement and pure joy when they see or discover things for the first time!

Buy 1, Give 1

It’s that time of year where temperatures start to dip in most of the country, except Southern California where in Chino Hills it was like 85 degrees today! I’m kicking off the annual Buy 1, Give 1 where the purchase of a hand-knit infinity scarf provides another hand-knit scarf donated to a homeless of refugee shelter. In the past I’ve chosen homeless shelters in Utah and Virginia and a refugee shelter in Texas. This year, we are planning on visiting Dave’s family in Salt Lake City so I will probably give the donations to the Road Home again.

buy 1 give 1 infinity scarves charity homeless refugee shelters

buy 1 give 1 infinity scarves charity homeless refugee shelters

Scarves are a wool blend and come in basically any color! They are $31, you can purchase here in my Etsy shop or you can always contact me.

Thank you so much for your support!

buy 1 give 1 infinity scarves charity homeless refugee shelters

Travel Essentials

When people ask where I would like to travel in the world, my answer is literally every country. It would be my dream to see every country even just for a day and experience the local, traditional cuisine. Here are some of my favorite travel items I would take for a trip around the world:

travel essentials

  1. Trtl Travel Pillow ($29) – this travel pillow is different from traditional pillows in that you wrap it around your neck (like a turtleneck). It has velcro to hold it closed and a piece of flexible plastic that prevents your head from flopping. I like that the material is soft fleece and keeps you warm since usually it’s cold on planes. It folds almost all the way flat which makes it easy to pack. I felt like it was really effective in preventing my neck from flopping, I slept comfortably on my trip to England. Here’s how it works: trtl travel pillow instructions

2) Lightweight Water Resistant Travel Backpack/Foldable & Packable ($19) – this particular backpack folds up into a small pouch which is kinda awesome!

3) Hydro Flask ($22)

4) Lightweight waterproof jacket ($89)

5) Hunter Rain Boots ($150) – I’ve had these for almost 10 years and while I don’t wear them everyday, they’ve been so reliable and comfortable for walking.

6) Earplugs – so great for planes, hostels, shared hotel rooms, etc.

7) Sleep Aid (generic brand) – I use these to prevent jet lag. I’ll time my time on the plane and take the sleep aid about an hour before I want to sleep. This helps me sleep well on a long flight and wake up feeling refreshed even with an 8 hour time difference upon arrival.

8) Chaco sandals (around $60) – these are so comfortable and great for hiking, in water, etc.

9)Waterproof phone pouch ($6) – I first got this pouch for a river tubing trip. I ended up falling off my tube and being totally submerged in the water and my phone was protected. There are lots of similar cell phone pouches out there and I also love them for the beach.

10) Solar phone charger ($40) – I don’t have one of these yet, but really want one not only for travel but for emergencies. I included this particular one just based off online reviews.

Teaching with the Tooth Fairy

On Brent’s (and my) birthday earlier this year, we went to dinner at our favorite Thai restaurant in Chino Hills. Halfway through the meal, Brent said he felt something weird in his mouth — his first tooth fell out! After searching the table and scrounging around on the floor, we realized he had swallowed the tooth! Definitely made for a memorable first lost tooth!

I came across this article with a few interesting suggestions for teaching about dental care for young kids and the Tooth Fairy. We’ve thought about using other tooth fairy gifts instead of money, but the kids are also at the age where they’re still think $1 is a lot of money! We’ve also considered buying an inexpensive tooth brushing timer for the kids, similar to one I had growing up.

“It’s important to teach children the importance of dental hygiene at an early age. Children should begin brushing as soon as their first tooth appears, and healthy habits of cleaning teeth for two minutes twice a day will help children to have better oral (and overall) health. However, it’s hard to effectively communicate the risks of gum disease, and the harm caused by decay, especially when children are young and dental health problems seem so far away.

Enter the tooth fairy, one of our favorite childhood legends. Not only is she a fun story to tell your children; she’s also an excellent opportunity to teach kids to value dental health and be diligent in their own personal habits.

No one is completely sure where the story of the tooth fairy came from. You’ll mostly only hear stories about her in Canada and the U.S. dating back to the early 1900’s. However, long before that we see stories in Northern Europe of children getting rewarded for their lost baby teeth, either by parents or by little mice that serve much the same function as the tooth fairy. In any case, the tooth fairy is a captivating character, and can be a great motivator and teacher. Here are 4 ideas to help you utilize the story of the tooth fairy in order to get your children excited about dental health.

1: Leave something besides cash

Most children expect to see a small pile of change under their pillow, after leaving their lost baby tooth there the night before for an exchange with the tooth fairy. However, have you ever thought about providing something besides change, or something in addition? Consider what the tooth fairy would like to share with your child in order to encourage them in their task of perfect dental health. It might be a brand new toothbrush, or a fun new flavor of paste.

2: Offer better payments for cavity-free teeth

The average price of baby teeth has gone up significantly in the past decade, and a report from Visa recently announced that the average payment hovers around $3.00. However, have you ever considered varying the amount that the tooth fairy pays for teeth according to the quality of those teeth? If a child gets $5 for each pristine, cavity-free tooth, versus under a dollar for one with a filling, they’ll be much more motivated to keep as many teeth as possible free of decay. After all… you already paid a good amount for those teeth with fillings in them, didn’t you?

3: Make it personal

A personal touch from the tooth fairy can give kids a special boost. Encourage a more personal-feeling connection with this pixie, and she’ll soon become a powerful motivator next time you’re trying to get your children to brush their teeth before bed. “What would the tooth fairy say?!” is a lot more effective when your children already feel like the tooth fairy is personally vested in their dental health.

So, in that vein, consider leaving a little note along with the change, wherein the tooth fairy thanks your child for their beautiful baby tooth, and encourages them to keep up the good work. This link has some other fun ideas for adding a little something special to the tooth fairy exchange.

4: Start the narrative early

Kids don’t start to lose their teeth until about 6 years old. However, they should be caring for their teeth long before then. In fact, the American Association of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children visit a pediatric dentist by age 1, or when they get their first tooth. So, you should consider starting the story of the tooth fairy early, in order to build some hype. Make the most of fun opportunities for your children to meet the tooth fairy (for example, at the local library or at your pediatric dentist’s office) and to learn more about her. Check out books that tell her story, and encourage your child to write a letter, or draw a picture for the tooth fairy when she comes to pick up a tooth. As a bonus, these little letters are wonderful mementos as your children grow.”  

Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Victoria, British ColumbiaWe had the best week up in Victoria, British Columbia! We started early with an 8 am flight out of LAX to Seattle, then a quick less than 30 minute flight to the Victoria airport. Dave’s dad had a work conference and his parents were kind enough to invite us to tag along on the trip. The last trip with just out family and his parents was our epic South America trip to Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay (before we had kids). This was my first time in Canada, and the kids as well (also their first time out of the country although it didn’t feel very foreign ;)

We stayed at the Fairmount Empress Hotel which is absolutely gorgeous! The gardens were absolutely gorgeous and July was the perfect time to visit. We had great weather, in the 60s with a nice breeze since we were right on the harbor.

Victoria British Columbia Fairmount Empress Hotel

Victoria British Columbia Fairmount Empress Hotel
Victoria British Columbia Fairmount Empress Hotel Victoria British Columbia Fairmount Empress Hotel

Victoria British Columbia Fairmount Empress Hotel

Here are some highlights from our trip:

Butchart Gardens: Victoria is known as the ‘Garden City’ and these gardens were incredible to say the least! The 55 acre land is a former limestone quarry that the Butcharts converted into a series of extremely well manicured gardens, including a Japanese, Rose, and Mediterranean Garden. It also has a few fountains, a carousel, a fireworks stage, a tea room, restaurant and a gelato shop. Its one of those places you could stay all day.

Butchart Gardens Victoria British Columbia family travel

Victoria Food Walking Tour: the tour started at the Victoria Public Market and then the local guide took us to a few locations nearby. We tried amazing bread from a French bakery, macarons, ice cream, pierogis, meatballs and chocolate. Dave’s mom planned most of the itinerary and this was a really fun way to try local spots and all the food was delicious.

Parliament: the parliament building which was just a block from the Empress hotel gives tours and also has a restaurant on the ground floor. I honestly didn’t know much about Canada and it was interesting to hear more about their government.

British Columbia Victoria Parliament British Columbia Victoria Parliament British Columbia Victoria Parliament

Beacon Hill Park: 200 acres of an awesome, free, public park. The land was set aside by a former governor who didn’t want any for-profit activities on the park. It’s beautiful with walking trails, lakes, peacocks, mini golf, a small splash pad shaped like a watering can and a goat petting zoo! There were 42 goats when we went including about a dozen babies.

Beacon Hill Park Victoria British Columbia free public park kids Beacon Hill Park Victoria British Columbia free public park kids Beacon Hill Park Victoria British Columbia free public park kids Beacon Hill Park Victoria British Columbia free public park kids

Carriage tour: we liked learning from the guide more about the history of Victoria and seeing Beacon Hill Park, the coast and the historic part of the city.

Victoria British Columbia

China Town walking tour: it was interesting hearing about the history of China Town and seeing the alleys that were created that are now filled with little shops and restaurants.

Victoria British Columbia Chinatown

Royal BC Museum: we saw the Mysteries of Egypt at the IMAX then checked out some of the exhibits: Egypt and the mummies, sea life and a giant woolly mammoth.

We were impressed with Victoria as a city. It was not only very beautiful but it was clean, lots of good places to eat, pastries, ice cream shops, unique bookstores, polite people, and we loved the flower baskets that they hang from all the city lampposts. Even though we were only there for a short time as tourists and it was summer, it was such a nice city we could picture ourselves living in – that’s one of my favorite parts about traveling, seeing where other people grew up, live, work and play. It’s my dream to see literally every country in the world. I think each place and city has something unique and beautiful to offer the world.

Victoria British Columbia Victoria British Columbia

Quick teeth whitening with Carbon Coco

carbon coco teeth whitening

I’ve been using this 100% natural teeth whitener, Carbon Coco. It’s a charcoal whitening powder that you brush on followed by a charcoal toothpaste (which is black in color but mint flavored). This product is easy to use, doesn’t require a lot of time (the same amount of time it normally takes to brush your teeth) and it has great results! I also like that it’s a natural product, not tested on animals, free shipping and the provide great customer service.

How to Use:

Wet a soft-bristled toothbrush (the kit comes with one or you can use your own as long as it’s soft-bristled)

Dip wet toothbrush into charcoal powder. Brush your teeth like you normally would. NOTE: your teeth will look black, don’t be shocked! Your spit will also be black.  Also, since it’s a powder it’s a little messy. I brush over my sink to catch any loose powder. It doesn’t stain sinks/counter tops but can be a little messy.

Brush for 3 minutes. Rinse off brush and rinse mouth.

Apply charcoal activated toothpaste on brush. Brush for 3 minutes. Rinse.

Results: 

It took about 8 weeks of consistent use to see results for me. I’ve used other at home teeth whitening products in the past and had a great experience with Carbon Coco mostly because it’s super easy and fast to use.Carbon Coco natural charcoal teeth whitening

carbon coco teeth whitening

black charcoal powder ^ 

carbon coco teeth whitening