The ultimate guide to my favorite birthday freebies 2018

Birthday freebies via It's Jou Life blog -

Celebrate with loads of birthday freebies

Birthdays are synonymous with party gatherings, being one year wiser, and of course, free stuff! The cherry on top is celebrating with birthday freebies from your favorite dining and shopping establishments. I can’t believe I scored a free brow wax sculpting service, a free Sugarfish sushi meal, a free 18″ pizza, free beauty goodies, (lots) of desserts, and many more.

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Demo day part 3 // Kitchen edition & challenges we faced

Out with the old – Kitchen demo days

Demo day part 3 - Kitchen edition via It's Jou Life Blog -

BEFORE // The original kitchen cabinets, appliances, and tile counter. Who remembers those automatic can openers attached under the cabinets?

Demo day part 3 - Kitchen edition via It's Jou Life Blog -

AFTER // What kitchen? Removed almost everything. It was hilarious rolling the old school kitchen stove, microwave, and dishwasher to our sidewalk for bulk pick-up.

After taking a break to handle the landscaping, it was time to get back to demo. Up next was to completely gut the kitchen. This includes removing all of the cabinets, lighting, sink, and appliances.

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Sephora Sun Safety Kit 2018 – Full Spoilers

Limited Edition Sephora Sun Safety Kit 2018 – only $36 ($161 value)

Sephora Sun Safety Kit 2018 - $36 (FULL SPOILERS) on It’s Jou Life blog -

Summer + Smiles + Sunblock

It’s that time of year again! With summer around the corner, the popular Sephora Favorites Sun Safety Kit hit the shelves for only $36 for 16 products and a makeup bag (retail value $161). Added bonus? Sephora will donate $25 from the sale of each kit to skin cancer research and education. Double added bonus? Included in this kit are two full-size products, a tropical-inspired makeup bag, and removable tassel. This limited edition bag is in stores and online, while supplies last. Tip: I’d recommend you call your local store first to see if they have stock.

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Planning an IKEA Kitchen & 15% off IKEA Kitchen Sale

A glimpse into our kitchen’s future

IKEA Kitchen Plan -

We created mock-up of our kitchen using IKEA’s online planning tool

When we purchased our home, we knew we wanted to update the kitchen. That said, our second major demo project is to clear out the outdated (very old and possibly original) appliances, vent hood, and cabinets. We looked at a bunch of cabinet inspo on Pinterest and Houzz, but kept coming back to the simplistic and budget-friendly ones at IKEA. To our luck, there’s an IKEA Kitchen Sale going on. We did some pre-planning before making the trek over to our local store. After browsing the kitchen showrooms, we found what worked with us, and we started the process of planning our new kitchen. 

Bonus: Keep reading for details on how to save 15% on your kitchen with the IKEA Kitchen Sale going on (now through April 8, 2018)! Continue reading

Demo day part 2 & unpleasant surprise

Demo Day Ready!

Demo Day, Part 2 via It's Jou Life

After our first failed demo day, we were itching to start working on the house. We decided our first demo project would be to remove the old carpet since it would be fairly simple and would also make it easier to work on other projects in the house. However we came to find a not-so-pleasant surprise and it set us back a few weeks. More details below.

Demo Day, Part 2 via It's Jou Life

It wasn’t difficult but since there was carpet throughout the entire house, it took us several days to cut, remove, and roll up the carpet.

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Top 10 healthy snack swaps

Top 10 healthy snack dupes to your favorite junk foods -

I’m a serious snacker

Those that know me can attest that I’m a serious snacker. As much as I praise healthy food choices I do crave chips, cookies, and chocolate. Oh, do I LOVE sweets! I’ve come to realize it’s not about denying myself certain foods, but really all about that balanced lifestyle. So instead of cutting them out entirely, I enjoy them in moderation.

Ideal situation? Find healthier alternatives to your favorite junk foods that are made with quality ingredients, high in nutrition, and are just as delicious.

My top 10 healthy food Discoveries from Natural Products Expo West 2017

Driven by the consistent growth of consumers demanding natural, healthy, and eco-conscious products, it’s no surprise that this mega-industry has a plethora of new products emerging every year. Here are my top healthy snack dupes that replace my favorite junk foods.

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Demo Day FAIL!

Where’s The TV Magic?

Demo day #FAIL //

According to HGTV, the first thing that happens after getting the keys to a older house is always demo day. After having watched countless hours of home improvement shows, we planned to have demo day the first weekend after we got the keys to our new home. Saturday morning rolls around and we excitedly head to our storage unit to gather our tools to begin our big project. But by the time we finished moving everything around to get to the tools that we packed in the very back of the storage unit, we were both sore, exhausted and ready for a break. After we finally packed everything in to the car, half the day was already over and we hadn’t even seen the house yet. Where’s the TV magic?? Continue reading

What’s In My Race Pack

What's In My Race Pack via It's Jou Life blog //

What to bring in your waist race pack

If you take a peek into my purse you’d think I’m part Eagle Scout and Mary Poppins. I may have loads of stuff but they’re all necessary to survive a zombie apocalypse. Sorta.

I like to be prepared.

Packing my day race pack is slightly different. The key difference is my race pack is much smaller. Therefore, when I run a long-distance race I like to pack efficiently with effective items. I’ve been using the same race pack and some of my holy grail products since my first marathon back in 2008. With the Lululemon Seawheeze Half Marathon in just a few weeks, these are my trusty items I’m packing on the run.

My day RACE pack survival kit

  1. Nathan Marathon Running Belt // I’ve had this light-weight training race pack since 2008 and love it. Although I’m running a long-distance race, I don’t bother wearing packs with water bottles because I know this race is well-supported with water and aid stations. I’ve linked a newer version of this race pack.
  2. Refresh Plus Lubricant Eye Drops // I get dry eyes especially when I wear contacts. These non-preservative drops help my eyes stay hydrated and clear.
  3. Advil // My ankles sometimes get sore as I get to the double-digit miles. This helps with the soreness during my run.
  4. Dr. Scholl’s Blister Defense Stick // A MUST for me! I apply this BEFORE the race, between my toes. above my toes, and BEFORE I put on my socks. Without this, my toes tend to rub between each other, chafe, and get blisters. You can apply this in other areas when you get chafing problems. Ever since I discovered this type of product I’ve been blister-free.
  5. Farmacy Honey Savior All-in-One Skin Repair Salve with Echinacea GreenEnvy Honey // Gotta moisturize my lips! This travel-size mighty multi-tasker can also be applied to other parts of your skin to repair dryness. Continue reading

Top Picks for Prenatal Vitamins

My Top Prenatal Vitamin Picks // It's Jou Life blog Prenatal Vitamins?

My biggest takeaway from my annual visits with my ob-gyn: The importance for women to take daily multivitamins or prenatal vitamins even before planning to get pregnant. Taking prenatal vitamins before getting pregnant preps your body with a solid foundation of nutrients. Prenatal vitamins consist of a variety of vitamins and minerals that help you and your baby get the nutrients that are essential for healthy development.

Make sure to look for a prenatal vitamin that includes:

    • 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid
    • 400 IU of vitamin D
    • 200 to 300 milligrams (mg) of calcium
    • 70 mg of vitamin C
    • 3 mg of thiamine
    • 2 mg of riboflavin
    • 20 mg of niacin
    • 6 mcg of vitamin B12
    • 10 mg of vitamin E
    • 15 mg of zinc
    • 17 mg of iron
    • 150 micrograms of iodine

My Thoughts

So the diligent (but sometimes forgetful) person that I am, have been taking multivitamins for as long as I can remember and recently shifted to prenatal vitamins the past couple of years. However, not all prenatals are created equal. I’ve tried quite a handful of brands and types and while some hit all the vitamin requirements, they taste terrible and I sometimes intentionally “forget” to take them. Recently the delicious gummy prenatals have stolen my heart but not all gummies contain all the vitamin requirements. This past year at the Natural Products Expo West, I’ve noticed there are now a plethora of companies coming out with prenatal gummies.

My Top Picks for Prenatal Vitamins

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What I Wish I Had Known Before Running my First Marathon -

What I Wish I Had Known Before Running My First Marathon // Part 2

What I Wish I Had Known Before Running my First Marathon (Part 2) -

2015 (Oct) – San Francisco Nike Women’s Half-Marathon // My most recent half-marathon where I set my personal record, 1 hr 56 min. If you haven’t noticed already, I have a thing for jumping photos.

I’ve run a handful of races–three half-marathons (four, in August), two full marathons, and a 200-mile (36-hour) relay. I’m by no means an expert–more often I feel faux than pro. I still struggle with motivating myself to run and each time I begin training it feels like I’m starting all over again.

Signing up for a long-distance race is daunting. But knowing what to expect can ease your race jitters and boost your confidence. Looking back, there are some lessons I wish I hadn’t learned the hard way for my first marathon. I wish someone gave me the low down on race preparation and day-of expectations before jumping head-first into the racing world.

If you signed up and ready to train for a half or full marathon, here’s what I want you to know.

If you missed the first installment of this, read Part 1.


Learning to pace yourself is key–and really hard.

What I Wish I Had Known Before Running my First Marathon (Part 2) -

2013 (Apr) – Washington, DC Nike Women’s Half-Marathon // This Tiffany’s finisher medal of the woman running with cherry blossoms in the background was gorgeous. I wish I paced myself better this race. Honestly, I should have trained better too. I walked several times.

I don’t even think I have this down. In the past, I don’t calculate pace when I run the streets. I run and push myself just enough mentally and physically, but not to the point of intense exhaustion. Just recently I started using the Strava App on my phone for long runs to keep track of my pace and progress. It’s a free app that provides GPS tracking, elevation, pace, analytics, and challenge friends.

  • Find your comfortable pace on training runs: To find your baseline, find a pace that is comfortable to run long distances and stick to it. If you want to improve your time, run sprints at a faster pace of 30 seconds. To build endurance, run long runs at a slower pace of 30 seconds. Once you are comfortable with your pace, play around with your stride and cadence. After a while, you’ll get a hang of your rhythm and a pace you’re comfortable with.
  • On race day don’t start out too fast. I know you’re excited and pumped with adrenaline and feeling good the first few miles, but take it easy. You don’t want to exhaust your reserves and burn out before the tail end of the race.
  • On race day I start out easy and then test my limits after every 4 miles. If I’m still feeling good, I push myself further. The last mile can be quite agonizing. It’s a mental game. I try to sprint the last half-mile. Usually, that only happens in my brain but IRL my legs feel like jello and I’m hauling a$$. It’s rough. Hopefully, comes race day it’ll be a different story. So I always tell myself.

Hydrate throughout the week prior to race day.

Being properly hydrated doesn’t happen overnight. I remember I’d chug loads of water a day before or even the day of the race and it would just filter through my body almost immediately. That is not what you want. Running on a full bladder is not fun. I spent so much time waiting in lines for the porta potties. Being properly hydrated takes much longer than that just a day.

Tip: In preparation for race day, it’s important to start hydrating a week before and to sip water on race day. I’d recommend setting a Google Calendar reminder several days prior to race day to hydrate throughout the day, every day.

Don’t eat anything new before or on race day.

This should be a no-brainer right? Not me. For some reason, I like to get creative on race day and end up eating something that slightly upsets my stomach. Stick to what your stomach knows.

Recommended race day breakfast eats: PB&J sandwich, oatmeal with bananas, or an energy bar. I try to steer away from dairy.

Mentally prepare yourself–bring your mental A-game.

What I Wish I Had Known Before Running my First Marathon (Part 2) -

2012 (Oct) San Francisco Nike Women’s Full Marathon // Highlights from this epic race where Wayne and I ran together and raised over $1,280!

Running a marathon is just as much of a mental battle as a physical one. No matter how many races I’ve done I always have pre-race jitters. It can be tough, but to help calm your nerves, break up the race into bite-sized pieces.

  • For a half-marathon: Envision it as four 3-mile legs with a sprint finish at the end.
  • For a full marathon: Think of it as four 10Ks (6.2-mile legs) with a sprint finish at the end.

Take it one step at a time and keep things in perspective.

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