Annie A to Z: A Lifestyle Blog by Annie Alvarez

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

H&M Summer Gift Card Giveaway!

It's giveaway time, friends! I've partnered up with a couple of bloggers to hook up one lucky winner with a $100 H&M gift card.

H&M is one of my favorite places to shop. They currently have a bunch of summer deals going on right now. 

Prize: $100 H&M Gift Card
Giveaway organized by: Oh My Gosh Beck!
Rules: Use the Rafflecopter form to enter daily. Giveaway ends 7/11 and is open worldwide. Winner will be notified via email.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Skin Care Faves: June

It's my favorite time of the month, the time when I spill my favorite skin care products and give you all the deets.

Just to throw it out there, Exuviance and Jan Marini sent me press samples. The other faves were purchased on my own. Companies are forever sending me products, most never make it on my blog.

 Skin care is very personal and complex. My skin type is sensitive, combo, acne prone and because I'm 30 years old, I am constantly seeking prevention

You all know how much I love vitamin C products or anything citrus in general. For almost a month, I've been using the Jan Marini C-ESTA Serum and Antioxidant Daily Face Protectant every single day. I love how light and absorbent both products are. Since I live in Florida, where it's extremely hot and humid, I prefer wearing less products or nothing at all because my pores clog easily in the summer weather. I'm happy to report that my pores are not congested, no break outs at all. That's pretty awesome considering a lot of facial SPFs have broken me out or left me looking greasy.

The products I'm using is meant for all skin types. I can get away with only using the serum as a moisturizer at night. It has a light citrus smell. The texture is watery but sinks into my skin, leaving my skin feeling moisturized and supple.

The key ingredients in the C-ESTA Face Serum are:

Ascorbyl Palmitate (Vitamin C)
Hyaluronic Acid
Vitamins (B5 & E)

This powerful antioxidant cocktail, featuring Vitamin C and DMAE is shown to reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and uneven skin tone. 

Okay, let me fan girl over this Antioxidant Daily Face Protectant (SPF 33)

Prior to using this formula, I wore the SPF my dermatologist suggests. It's a light weight sports sun block, but it seemed to be the only heavy duty SPF that did not break me out. Jan Marini's is legit and I'm so excited about this!

First, Kristin Cavallari is a huge fan of this tube of awesome. This formula protects against UVA and UVB rays. After I wash my face in the mornings, I apply the serum, let that sink in a bit and then apply my SPF. It absorbs beautifully, doesn't have the traditional SPF stank (ugh, I cannot stand that smell!). The scent is light and citrusy. Even if my foundation has SPF, I still put this on.

The Antioxidant Daily Face Protectant is pretty serious. You can even use this when you swim or sweat. Reapply every 80 minutes and immediately after towel drying. It's also great for all skin types, even oily and acne prone. This is huge, so huge.

Ice Roller

This beauty tool is popular in parts of Europe and Asia. I'm Eurasian and late to the dang game. But I finally got my hands on this baby, my newest addiction. Seriously, when I purchased this Ice Roller, I thought this would be something that I would forget about after a week since it lives in the freezer. I've made it to four weeks of constant usage. Every single day, sometimes twice a day. 

If you're blotchy, puffy, hung over, suffering from allergies, dying from a headache, have bruises, hot as hell, have redness, need your skin to firm up, the Ice Roller will save the day

After I wash my face, before I apply toners, serums, what have you, I pull out the ice roller, lay on my couch and roll it on my face. It looks really weird, but it feels so good. You're basically draining your lymph nodes and sinuses, which is awesome for your overall health. I still suffer from allergies since I belong in a bubble, but this massage is very soothing. I love a good fluid flush.

Exuviance DePuffing Eye Serum

I'm all about Exuviance, their quality is fantastic. I found out about this brand because they sent me samples. It's a shame that I've never seen their products on shelves because they're great. Last month, I wrote about their glycolic moisturizer. Check it out if you missed that post.

I've been into DePuffing eye gels lately because of my horrible allergies. They do help out a bit. 

This eye serum not only helps to firm and tone both eyelid and under-eye droopiness over time, but targets microcirculation and helps strengthen fragile skin, reducing the pooling that can lead to puffiness and bags. 

Eyeliss and Actiflow target microcirculation and helps strengthen fragile skin, reducing the pooling that can lead to puffiness and bags
NeoGlucosamine helps firm and tone both eyelid and under-eye droopiness over time
Triple micro-roller applicator massages to stimulate circulation, while delivering serum to the eye area
 Caffeine helps stimulate and invigorate the skin
Chamomile, Green Tea and Cucumber refresh the eye area

The roller ball is a nice touch. It gently massages the eye area, which helps drain lymph nodes like I mentioned above. 

Jeju Volcanic Lava Clay Nose Mask 

For whatever reason, I've never had great luck with with peel off masks that promise to remove gunk out of your pores. I'm not talking about the nose strips, I mean actual facial masks. The reason I was so open to purchasing the Jeju Volcanic Lava Clay Nose Mask is because this Korean brand has been getting amazing reviews. I'm so excited that it's easier for us to get our hands on Korean goodies.

I will say that the first time I used it hurt. It stings a bit. Remember, my skin is sensitive but I kept it on because my t-zone is very oily. After fifteen minutes, it was time to peel the mask off. That stung as well but it was because I applied a thin layer. I learned that you shouldn't add too thin of a layer, but not too thick.

It definitely removes black heads, white heads and helps with oil control. I already want to reorder this mask because I don't want to be without it.

There's my June skin care faves. What are some of your favorites?

Press samples provided by Exuviance and Jan Marini. All opinions are honest and my own

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

My Favorite Summer Grilling Recipe: Korean BBQ Ribs

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #HogWildThrowdown #CollectiveBias The following content is intended for readers who are 21 or older.

How many of you are grillers? I was always intimidated because everyone I know, myself included owns gas grills. Every time I have a BBQ, I would have someone turn the gas on and off for me. A few weeks ago, I decided to get a charcoal grill. It's totally uncomplicated, I can finally get my grill on without help.

Korean BBQ is one of my favorites. It's delicious explosion of flavor may shy people away from making it at home, but this is probably one of the most easiest dinners I've made in a long time. Not only am I going to share how to make Korean BBQ ribs, but I made a new fave:

 Start off with Smithfield Extra Tender Ribs.


1 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup mirin (rice wine)
1 cup brown sugar
1 onion
1 juicy pear
4 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons of sesame oil
1/2 cup of water

Add everything to a blender.

Blend well.

Add ribs to ziplock bags, may need to cut ribs in half. 

Add marinade, coat well.

Marinade over night.

BBQ Day!

When you're ready to grill, preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Line pan with aluminum foil. Add the ribs meat side down. 

Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil.

Bake for 1.5 hours.

You can add an extra 30 minutes of bake time if you want the meat to fall off the bone...which is what I did.

Ready for the grill!

Grill on medium heat for 7 minutes on each side or until slightly charred.
Baste the ribs as you go. You want the sauce to caramelize. 

The meat was falling off the bone on one set. Which is what I wanted for one recipe! :)

How gorgeous is this?

Add some chopped green onions and you're good to go.

 I couldn't get over how tender and juicy the ribs were, especially since I'm not a grilling expert. If I can do it, anyone can.

What I like about Smithfield Extra Tender Ribs is that there isn't any added hormones or steroids.

Korean Bowls:

Another simple, yet brilliant moment I had.

I'm all about creating different kinds of bowls at home. This is going to be a staple this summer, I feel it.

All you need is:
Korean BBQ ribs (tender, falling off the bone)
jasmine rice
chopped green onions


Check out Smithfield's HogWild Throwdown Contest

 Celebrity grillers, Moe Cason and Tuffy Stone are brand ambassadors

Prizes include (2) Ford F-150's.

Click here to enter!

Do you use Ibotta? They have pretty awesome rebate deals.

Earn up to a $3.00 rebate on the purchase of one (1) Smithfield® Rib and one (1) KC Masterpiece® BBQ Sauce or Marinade 18 oz. or larger via Ibotta Digital Rebates. (Offer good to residents of AL, AR, CT, HI, KY, MA, ME, MN, MO, NC, ND, NJ, RI, UT and WV) - No Beer Purchase Required.

I purchased these delicious ribs at my local Walmart.

Do you like Korean BBQ? Are you going to try to make these delicious ribs? :)

Monday, June 20, 2016

Deconstructed Greek Salad + Summer Giveaway!

This post is sponsored by Mezzetta but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.

Happy Summer, friends!

Like most people around the states, grilling is one of my favorite past times. It's a summer tradition I never break. In the evenings as I walk my dog, I love when I smell all the delicious bbq aromas in the air. As much as I loved the grill, I'm usually in charge of preparing side dishes. 

One of my favorites to make is Greek salad, but I make mine a little friendlier instead of mixing everything all together. I've also included a homemade Greek dressing recipe. And don't forget to enter the fun giveaway below! :)

Let's start with Mezzetta's Imported Golden Greek Peperoncini peppers. I'm a huge fan of Mezzetta peppers. They've been on my blog multiple times and I always keep my pantry stocked.

I love Mezzetta's quality of peppers because they're flavorful. Have you ever tasted a really offensive peperoncini? I have. You definitely noticed the difference when you bite into these.

Instead of mixing everything up in one bowl, I place the kalamata olives, cucumbers, tomatoes and peperoncinis in sections. Guests can pick and choose whatever they want on their salads.

I always separate the feta cheese and red onions.
First, some guests may be vegan. Second, a number of people aren't a fan of onions.

Pick and choose. Drizzle Greek dressing on top!

Ugh, this is so good! I love adding grilled chicken on top. Healthy and tasty, what more can you ask for?

print recipe

Homemade Greek Salad Dressing
Easy and so delicious Greek salad dressing recipe.
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon peperoncini juice (Mezzetta)
Place all ingredients in a blender, except olive oil.Blend.Slowly add olive oil while blending to create an emulsion.Set aside for at least 30 minutes.Pour over Greek salad. Enjoy.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 6 servings

I hope one of my readers wins this Weber Gas Grill!

Enter the giveaway here.

Grand Prize (1): Weber® Spirit® E-310™ gas grill (ARV $499.00) + Weber® 3 Piece Tool Set (ARV $22.99) + 5 jars of Mezzetta Peppers + Summer Entertaining Kit (Cooler, Wooden Cutting Board, Apron, Towel, Beachball)
Runner-ups (10): Weber® ORIGINAL KETTLE® 18” charcoal grill (ARV $79.00) + Weber® 3 Piece Tool Set (ARV $22.99) + 5 jars of Mezzetta Peppers + Summer Entertaining Kit (Cooler, Wooden Cutting Board, Apron, Towel, Beachball)
Ends July 15th, 2016

How do you get your grill on?

Friday, June 17, 2016

Turn Your Home Into A Smart House with Honeywell!

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

Three years ago, I got to experience one of the coolest moments in my adult life. Not only did I become a first time homeowner, but I also saw my home fully built, right before my eyes. Because of the whole process, this home is very special to me.

Picking the lot, seeing them break ground and assemble my home piece by piece was neat. It’s definitely something I’ll never forget. Let’s be real though, I’m not exactly handy. If something broke in my home, I wouldn’t know how to fix it. I’m just not wired that way, but as a female and a homeowner, I think it’s time to learn and become proactive.


I recently found out about Lyric Wi-Fi Water Leak and Freeze Detector by Honeywell and The Lyric Round Wi-Fi Thermostat. These two smart devices will make your life so much easier.
Let’s start with the Lyric Wi-Fi Water Leak and Freeze Detector by Honeywell. When I rented condos for a decade, I had multiple water leaks via water heater and a/c unit. They were not fun and I can’t imagine how much it cost to fix the damages.
What if you could install a user-friendly way to monitor water-related systems and components to reduce the risks of leaks and frozen pipes? I’m all about it!


LED Indicator, cable sensor and a screw for the mounting keyhole. EASY.
Add batteries

When the blue light comes on, it’s time to configure the device to your smart phone.


You guys, it was so simple. The last step was screwing the screw to the wall so I could mount the detector in my dark A/C closet.

The whole process took five minutes. Does it stop damage from happening? No. But it alerts you when there’s a leak or potential leak. That could have helped me in the condos that I lived in. I seriously came home a lake in my bedroom a few times too many.

Ways you can prevent water damage in your home:
Keep gutters clean. When they’re stuffed, it creates overflow and can damage your foundation.
Inspect cabinets under your sinks every 6 months. Look for drips and large leaks. Be sure to check your dishwasher and fridge as well.
It’s important to change washing machine hoses every five years. This happens to be one of the most common insurance claim. It’s super expensive, too.
Invest in a soft water filter. Hard water is full of mineral, creates buildup and damages pipes.
Reduce water pressure. Having high water pressure makes your pipes work harder, which will stress them.

The Lyric Thermostat

My friends have been controlling their a/c via phone for years and I felt left out! I was very excited to get my hands on this. I’m not going to lie, the setup intimidated me.


But seriously, the instructions are so user friendly.

Wait for it…
Again, configuring was cake. And look, the app is so convenient. I have both smart devices on there!

We’re in business! My house was a little warm because it’s hotter than Hades in FL and my A/C was off for about 30 minutes. Installation took a bit longer than it should because I quadruple checked every single step.

Yeah, yeah, it’s cool to change the settings of your a/c when you’re lounging but the feature that sold me was Geofencing, which uses your smartphone location to automatically save energy when you’re away and ensure comfort when you return home. You will also receive alerts on your phone when it’s time to change the a/c filter or if extreme temperature changes happen.
This is also compatible with Apple® HomeKit™ and Samsung® SmartThings™  aka the apps that gives you control over connected features like lights and garage doors. Um, I’m jumping on those now. You can say I’m addicted.
Like I said, I’m not handy and I installed these devices myself. I want to fully convert my place into a smart house! Baby steps though, baby steps.
You can purchase both devices at Home Depot.  

Do you use smart phone technology with your appliances?