[Stretch] January 2020 Favorites! - Full of homebody essentials.

2020 Meredith wants to focus more on the stretch, lifestyle, portion of this blog. I haven't really done much with it in the past, but there have been a few posts here and there throughout the years. 2020 seems like the year to embrace it. I'm now in my 30s and am attempting a no buy/low buy 2020 (or at least for the first 6 months and then reassessing, more on that later).

I have been enjoying watching favorites videos on YouTube and wanted to see if I like writing them. It's kind of more for me than anyone else really. It'll be fun for future me to look back on what I liked and see if anything is 1) still around in the marketplace and 2) I still like using it.

This January, however, was a pretty boring month for me. I realized that my application for business school is due mid-February, so I spent most of the month at home, studying for my exams, etc. On top of all that, I was hit by some sort of sickness for the last week of the month and the first week of February (my assumption is that it was the flu), so it was a very homebody sort of month for me.

I also started my try at a no buy/low buy 2020 - I might write about this next week because I went into a YouTube hole at the beginning and found this intriguing.

Food: 
Since I was in study and under the weather mode, my food was pretty boring this month. I promise that if I continue doing this, it'll be far more exciting in the future.

My office snacks this month:

Sensible Portions: Garden Veggie Straws: Target | Amazon
These are just potato chips masquerading as healthy vegetables. I, personally, prefer the sea salt flavor over the Zesty Ranch.
I bought mine on Boxed, which is a great alternative to Costco, especially if you don't have access to a car. If you haven't tried it yet, consider using my link for $15 off your first purchase (not sponsored). This is my personal code (not an affiliate link): https://boxed.com/invite/C6SF2

Stacy's Pita Thins: Target | Amazon
I am on the fence about these Pita Thins. They're so crisp and satisfying to crunch, but the flavors were meh. I really didn't care for the Garlic & Herbs flavor. The Five Cheese was quite cheesy. It's kind of a mellow cheese flavor. Again, the Sea Salt flavor was my favorite here.

Desk lunches:
I have been recently making a bunch of rice bowls recently as my desk lunches.


Herdez Guacamole Salsa: Target | Amazon
I have been experimenting with a variety of sauces for my rice bowls. This is one of my go-to ones for when I make a taco bowl.

Morning Star Farms Chipotle Black Bean Crumbles: Target | Amazon
I know that this isn't totally healthy, but it's a lot better than constantly eating out because I didn't have that much time to cook this month. After my life settles down a little more, I'll go back to my salmon and vegetables desk lunch.

I then throw these together over some rice with some grilled pepper strips, onions, beans, and sprinkle some lime juice on it and I'm good to go.

Earlier in the month, I was relying a lot on my slow cooker (sad story, I dropped a dish on it and cracked the ceramic liner part and it costs basically the cost of buying a whole new one to replace the ceramic portion, so I have just been using it knowing that it'll probably give up on life soon). I had been making mainly chicken barley stew and the like. I usually just make a whole week's worth of lunches on Sunday nights so I don't have to worry during the rest of the week.

Food for Home:

Progresso Soup: Target | Amazon
I have been anti-Progresso soup since childhood because it always just tasted like watery sadness. But it has been super on sale and, because I was sick and studying, I decided that this was just going to be what I would eat for dinner because it was quick and easy to make. I always go for the low sodium flavors. I have been adding my own ingredients to the soups and it makes it kind of good now. It also makes it more filling. I have been adding frozen mixed vegetables, spinach, and some Korean sweet potato noodles (Amazon). I prefer the Chicken and Wild Rice and Italian-Style Wedding flavors so far.

I am still in love with my Bella Air Fryer. I got it for like $10 after the $15 rebate at Macy's during a crazy sale period. I was just testing out having an air fryer and assumed it wouldn't last very long due to the very low price I paid, but here we are almost 2 years later and it's still going strong.

My new snack is air frying chickpeas after they're seasoned with this Olde Thompson Habanero Lime seasoning (I got it at HomeGoods for $2.99 and I recently ran out and tried the Trader Joe's version and I don't care for the TJ's version.) My old snack was air frying pumpkin seeds with the same seasoning.

I promise I usually have better food at home, but this was a rough month.

Makeup and Skincare:


Wet n Wild Photo Focus Foundation: Target | Amazon
I have been using this for a while now. I bought it in Soft Beige, but there are a pretty good variety of shades available (in my opinion and knowing that for the past decade or so I have only been using Korean products - I'm a #2 shade or #23 shade in Korea). What I like the most about this foundation is that it has a little spatula applicator.


Flowfushi UZU Eye Opening Liner in Black: Amazon
I got this for free to try. Honestly, I'm only medium happy about this eyeliner. To be honest, it's not waterproof for me, which is why I'm very on the fence about it. Throughout the day, it kind of just comes off of my lids, especially by my tear ducts (I have chronic dry eye, so my eyes constantly water throughout the day, counter-intuitive, but true. I like the brush liner because I can make really precise lines, but it does get a dried layer on it quickly, more quickly than my other brush liners have. I find myself having to clean it off every other week or so to make sure that the lines are nice and exact.


Etude House Pink Powder Mask for Acne: YesStyle
I have been breaking out a lot recently. I think it's because of a variety of factors, but, regardless, I have needed to take care of the issue. I didn't think that, as a 30-year-old, I would need to start shopping for acne products, but here I am. I remembered I had a few samples from Etude House and since I'm in my no-buy time, I had to use what I had. I'm so glad I decided to just use these samples because it works! If this is just my new skin, I need to add this to my shopping list for Korea (send me an email if you have any other products I need to check out in Korea).

As you saw on my Instagram, maybe. I was trying out some skincare I was sent from Dr. Barbara Sturm, but now I'm back to my normal skincare regimen in February and hope to bring you some new reviews soon!

Books:

GMAT Official Guide 2020 Bundle: Amazon
Even though I took the exam while suffering through the flu, praying for a break because I get ONLY GI consequences when I get sick (TMI, sorry), these books were great. I definitely recommend them for you when you prepare for the GMAT. The one gripe I have, though, is that if you activate the serial numbers for the online practice problems, you get the exact same content as appears in the books. Since these are the official guides created by the creators of the test, they are filled with real exam questions unlike the guide I bought for the GRE (I won't even recommend that one or mention it because I hope no one buys that book. The GRE book I bought had so many errors and typos throughout.)


Human Acts by Han Kang: Amazon
In my one week of leisure time before realizing that the deadline was so soon, I read Human Acts. This is written by the same author as The Vegetarian. I think this is a part of Korean history that isn't written about in English often. It's a novel written in the first-person perspective of victims of the Gwangju uprising (read more on Wikipedia). I won't give much away about the plot, etc., but I will just recommend that you check it out if you have the chance.

Lifestyle:

MacBook Air:
I recently bought a MacBook Air because my Lenovo ThinkPad finally gave up its life after serving me well for 6 years. I am still less than thrilled with my choice in switching over to MacBook, but we'll see how it goes. So, here are a bunch of things I had to purchase due to the switch in order for it to function in a productive way.


Apple USB-C to USB Adapter: Target | Amazon
This is so annoying, but unavoidable these days. I had to buy this adapter to be able to plug in any USB to my computer. It is what it is. Definitely get the real official product from Apple, no fake products because if something happens to your computer as a result of one of the fake products, your warranty is voided. My friend learned that the hard way about Apple charging cables after plugging in his phone and ruining the charging port.



Anker 4-Port USB Hub: Amazon
One of the most frustrating things about the MacBook Air is that there are no USB ports and only two USB-C ports (and NO SD card reader), so if you're chaging your computer, you have only one option for the USB device. Since I usually use my computer for working on my blog projects, I need more peripherals at one time (SD card reader, external hard drive, external mouse/keyboard (I don't have Bluetooth ones at the moment and don't what to buy new ones because these are still functional), and sometimes I also have some other USB devices plugged in). Anyway, I needed a USB hub and this one seemed to be a fine choice. I went to an Anker event last year and I knew the company, which made me feel slightly more comfortable buying this sort of product off of Amazon. It functions as expected and it is so nice to have more options for what I can have plugged in.



MacBook Air 13-Inch Case, Screen Protector, and Keyboard Protector: Amazon
I got mine in like a jewel deep teal color, but there 38 colors available. Make sure you check the model number before purchasing. The very stressful thing about putting this on is the screen protector, obviously because it can easily get air bubbles in it and because you have to put it on straight, etc. in order for the camera to be aligned properly, etc.

iPhone 11 Pro Accessories: 

Ugh, so it was a very expensive electronics month for me because my iPhone 7 finally bit the dust, too. So, I upgraded to an iPhone 11 Pro (huge upgrade tbh).


Speck Gemshell iPhone 11 Pro Case (Clear): Amazon
So, I usually go for like a $2 case, but I wanted to protect this investment because it has to last me like 3-4 years like my iPhone 7 did. I bought the Speck case because it comes with a lifetime warranty and because the brand is well known, etc.

I also bought a screen protector at Best Buy, also with a warranty, because I was worried that I would drop it right out of the gate and crack the screen, so I didn't want to take any risks.



Shark ION R87 Robot Vacuum: Amazon
So, long story short, I have been recommending everyone I know try out robot vacuums. As was my logic with trying the cheaper air fryer, so was my logic buying this one. Since this has worked out so great so far, I will likely buy a different brand next time. One thing I should say, though, is that this is my third one because my first one broke and the replacement they sent wasn't great. But, the warranty is great and they send you a new device each time you return your defective one. I love the it working with the app because I can schedule it when I'm away and then I can also just push a button remotely and it'll start running. I also just love having it because I run it every weekday, but it somehow picks up an entire bin's worth of dust every day. My Swiffer clothes are much cleaner and I'm amazed that it was even able to clean before with all that dust.


2.4 L Humidifier: Amazon
I purchased two of these for my apartment. I can't believe it has taken me so long to purchase a humidifier for my apartment. I knew I needed one for like 2 years, but I know nothing about humidifiers so I kind of put it off. New York City apartments love heat in the winter, so that means your house feels like a dry, arid, desert from about October until maybe May? So, I needed two (at least) so I could get some humidity in the two rooms I spend the most time - my common room and my bedroom. This humidifier has settings to the left that makes the machine light up in various colors. The settings to the right are the same mist settings, but just with no colored lights. There are three different mist settings. If I fill the tank fully and have it running at the lowest mist setting, it lasts about a full day. The medium setting lasts about 12 hours, I think. I haven't ventured to the high setting, except once for like 10 seconds by accident.


Nature's Bounty Hair, Skin, and Nails Vitamins: Target | Amazon
My skin and hair has been so dry and unhealthy recently, maybe weather, maybe age, maybe both? I have had these in the past and have thought they were pretty effective, so I decided I would just go back to what I have already tried. I know gummies are super "in" these days, but I just can't get into eating those, I'd rather just drink water and finish everything quickly. The instructions for use of these supplements are slightly less than ideal, it says to just eat three daily. I have interpreted that as eating one with each meal. (I still think vitamins and supplements are just a way to make expensive designer pee.)


One A Day Women's Petites Multivitamin Supplement: Target (only sells the 1x daily vitamin) | Amazon
Due to aforementioned opinion of vitamins, I was so happy when I found these One A Day Women's Petites at RiteAid. Basically, you take two daily to get the equivalent of the one-per-day version. So, I take this in the morning and one with dinner to try to get more benefit out of the vitamins.


Leuchtturm1917 A5 Dotted Hardcover Notebook: Amazon
I am still riding the bullet journal train, but I've adapted it to how my brain and life functions. For example, I can't plan only one week at a time. I went with the OG recommended brand for my first journal. I mean, it's fine, but I won't get this same brand next time and will probably buy it IRL so I can feel the paper thickness myself. This one shadows like crazy, but I like the number of pages in the journal, the dotted paper, and the elastic ribbon, but those are pretty common to find these days.


Gaiam Balance Disk Cushion: Amazon
I bought this for my friend for Christmas and it has been the hit of the entire office. My friend has said that it's great and has been helping her posture and she has less pain from sitting at her desk for hours and hours upon end. I, honestly, am a little jealous that she has this and I don't, but this may be something that I purchase later after I am done with my no-buy/low-buy year.

*FTC Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links which means, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission if you click through the links provided and make a purchase.*

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