The ultimate guide to my favorite birthday freebies 2018

Celebrate with loads of birthday freebies

Birthday freebies via It's Jou Life blog -

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.

As always, I love sharing good deals and freebie offers I discover. Here’s my ultimate guide to my favorite birthday freebies this year.

Please note: Each rewards program is different and usually in order to qualify, you must sign up for their rewards program at least 30 days before your birthday. Check their terms and conditions for more information.

My favorite birthday freebies picks


Anthropologie | Receive a 15% off coupon by email to use during your birthday month on any one purchase, even on sale items. Free to sign-up for their Anthro Perks Loyalty Program. These coupons are hard to come by!

Madewell | Receive an email for $25 off your next purchase when you join their Madewell Insider loyalty program. Free to sign-up.


Birthday freebies via It's Jou Life blog -

Hourglass Abbot Kinney Flagship Store | Complimentary brow sculpting service when I joined their loyalty program at a special event I attended at their Abbot Kinney Flagship Store in Venice. I received a personal consultation on my best brow shape along with a professional brow sculpting. It was my first time getting my brows waxed and it was painless and made such clean lines.

Birthday freebies via It's Jou Life blog -  Birthday freebies via It's Jou Life blog -

Sephora | Free choice of Caudalie or Tarte when you become a Beauty Insider. Free to sign-up.

Birthday freebies via It's Jou Life blog -

Ulta | Receive a beauty goodie when you join their Ultamate Rewards Program. Free to sign-up. I received the Cranberry & Pomegranate Lip Oil & Mask. The beauty gift may change from each store.

Dining & treats

Birthday freebies via It's Jou Life blog -

Baskins Robbins | Free one scoop (2.5 oz) or one 3 oz soft serve swirl when you join their The Scoop program. Free to sign-up.

Birthday freebies via It's Jou Life blog -

Chick-fil-A | Get a special birthday offer when you join their Chick-fil-A One rewards program. Free to sign-up. Note: The freebies are at the discretion of the franchise owner, so check with your local store for details. In the past, I’ve received a free cookie or free soft serve cone.

Denny’s | Free Grand Slam breakfast meal. No sign-up required. Must show ID.

Godiva | $10 gift card to use during your birthday month when you register for their Godiva Rewards Club. Free to sign-up.

Birthday freebies via It's Jou Life blog -

Grimaldi’s Pizzeria | Free 18″ traditional pizza of your choice when you join their eFamily e-newsletter. Value up to $21, so you can upgrade and pay the difference. Free to sign-up. Dine-in only.

Birthday freebies via It's Jou Life blog -

The Habit Burger Grill | Free Charburger with Cheese when you join their CharClub. Free to sign-up.

Birthday freebies via It's Jou Life blog -

IKEA | Free Meatball Entree Meal with dessert (Almond Cake or DAIM cake) from the IKEA Restaurant and a $15 off your total purchase (no min purchase required!) when you join their IKEA Family program. I chose their Swedish Meatball and the Daim Cake. This was my first time dining at IKEA. (What have I been doing with my life?) That Daim Cake–chocolate cake with crunch caramel–is heavenly. Free to sign-up.

Pinkberry | Free small Pinkberry with toppings when you join their Pinkcard Loyalty program. Free to sign-up.

Birthday freebies via It's Jou Life blog -

Sprinkles | Free choice of cupcake when you join their Sprinkles Perks Rewards Program. Free to sign-up.

Starbucks | Free Birthday Reward (usually a beverage or treat) when you join their Starbucks Rewards program. Free to sign-up. To qualify you must join 30 days before your birthday.

Birthday freebies via It's Jou Life blog -

Souplantation | Free lunch or dinner dine-in meal (or to-go combo #2) and 20% off the entire check for the rest of your group when you join their Club Veg program. Free to sign-up.

Sugarfish | Free Trust Me or Trust Me Lite (value $32) on your birthday when you dine in twice before your birthday. To receive a birthday Trust Me meal, each registered guest needs to check in using Sugarfish check-in card on at least two separate occasions and at least 24 hours before his or her birthday. CHECK-IN MUST BE MADE ON SITE during your visit. I advise using the same e-mail address when completing the check-in card because that is how they keep track and send you e-mail confirmations. Must dine-in on your exact birth date. More details here.

Birthday freebies via It's Jou Life blog -

Veggie Grill | $5 off any item from the core and seasonal menu when you join their VG Loyalty Program. Free to sign-up.

Birthday freebies via It's Jou Life blog -

Yogurtland | Free 3 oz of froyo and toppings when you join their Real Rewards Card program. Free to sign-up.

Birthday freebies via It's Jou Life blog -

Do you like free stuff? Share with us your fabulous bargains with a comment below and subscribe to It’s Jou Life! Enter your e-mail address in the upper right column of the page to stay updated and receive e-mails whenever we post. We don’t share your personal information with anyone.

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.

We didn’t have a full-size sledgehammer so we weren’t able to just smash everything like they do on TV. That probably worked for the better since we were forced to take things apart piece by piece, therefore minimizing the amount of debris flying around the house. Even with our small 3-lb sledge, we were a little timid about swinging it. It was definitely a ‘gentle’ demo at first, but soon after making very slow progress, we started swinging the hammer with more gusto and it sped up the demo process.

Our biggest kitchen demo challenge

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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.

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

Summer is coming, but first, sunscreen

I love everything about summer and that means enjoying the great outdoors and cool waters responsibly. Here are a few of my sun protection tips:

  • Use broad spectrum SPF of at least 30 or higher – Since spending time in the sun increases skin cancer and early skin aging, I use a broad spectrum (UVA + UVB) sun protection of at least SPF 30 for my face and SPF 45 for my body. I use a higher SPF because I have fair skin and burn easily. Use what’s best for your skin type.
  • Limit sun exposure during 10am-2pm – If you also live an outdoor and active lifestyle, and staying indoors isn’t always optimal, try to protect yourself with a hat, sunglasses, and long-sleeve everything. Yea, I do this when I remember and I pretty much look like a beekeeper.
  • Use a water-resistant formula when in the water – Apply a water-resistant sunscreen liberally 15 minutes before sun exposure and, as always, reapply every few hours. Note: this kit includes three water-resistant sunscreen formulas, including a mousse.
  • Reapply every few hours – Whether you’re in the water or running errands, it’s highly recommended to reapply sunscreen every few hours. That is when the spray sunscreens come in handy since it doesn’t involve disrupting your makeup. Just make sure it’s applied evenly.

So naturally, as a lover of Sephora + SPF, I always buy Sephora Favorites Sun Safety Kit every year. It’s a curated collection of everything SPF to protect from head to toe. This is a perfect introduction to try various products carried at Sephora, like tinted sunscreen, BB cream, self-tanner pads, sun protection mist, and new this year–sunscreen mousse, a rescue mask, and two full-size sunscreen products. What I’m most excited about this bag is the handful of green and natural brands’ sunscreen products.

It’s also a wonderful way to try different types of sunblock products–physical (zinc oxide, titanium dioxide) and chemical-based (oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate) sunscreens. The sizes are perfect–airplane-friendly and compact enough to place in my purse.

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

Products in the Sephora Sun Safety Kit 2018 & Reviews

AmorePacific Resort Collection Sun Protection Mist Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Sunscreen // Haven’t tried this yet, but look forward to retouching my face with this spray throughout the day without having to rub sunscreen on when I’m out and about. This comes in handy because we’re supposed to reapply every few hours.

Clinique Pep-Start Hydro Rush Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 20 // Haven’t tried this yet.

Coola Rōsilliance™ Organic BB+ Cream SPF 30 (Light/Medium) // Haven’t tried this yet, but I love BB creams to even out skin tones with a glow. I also tend to gravitate towards mineral-based sunscreens. If this formula is like their other products, I remember it being light and a barely-there feel.

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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 dupes to your favorite junk foods

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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