Cheap Thrills :: A few of my favorite (summertime) things under $50

As a single mother to three, one of whom is off to college in the fall, I am always watching my pennies. I (almost) always think twice before I buy something and I make sure that I get the best bang for my buck. While it's true that the best things in life are free, there are a lot of great products out there that aren't expensive and really worth their weight in gold. Sometimes it's the small things that give us the greatest pleasure. On this list I have $5 flip-flops a $35 water bottle and everything in between. Each item gives me immense pleasure for a variety of different reasons. These 18 items are things that I cannot live without. 

1. Two-Faced, Better than Sex Mascara

I have tried everything on the market. And I do mean everything. Trying to save a few bucks I tried every drugstore mascara on the market before reaching for an old favorite high end. However, before I headed to the checkout line, I asked one of the employees at Blue Mercury for the fattest mascara on the market. Without hesitation I was introduced to Better than Sex Mascara. I got home and immediately tried it on. This mascara is as close to a set of falsies you'll ever go. One coat or three, this one pumps up the volume! About $35 (less on Amazon Prime) And worth every penny!

2. Maybelline Master Strobing Stick

I will have to thank my teenager for this. I found it in her make up bag one afternoon when she had gone to her dad's. I put my makeup on, added some blush and rubbed this on the top part of my cheekbones, bridge of my nose and forehead. Blended in and I had this gorgeous, dewy highlighted look. I've tried several since but this one, even when stacked up against pricier brands, remains my all time favorites. Leave it to Maybelline! This will run you less than $8.

3. Sea Salt & Fig Eau de Cologne

Would you believe me if I said this little diddy came from Old Navy? A fresh clean scent, like clean linen and gentle ocean breezes, this little bottle is a big surprise. I decided to spray one of the tester bottles one day when I was on the checkout line and was amazed when I smelled my wrists. I picked up the bottle and a small tube of lotion for my hands that I keep in my straw bag. The top note is strong without overwhelming, but there's not much of a base note which means it will need more frequent re-applying. About $5.

4. Party Earrings with Tassels, Zara

Fringe and fringe style jewelry are all the range. These fun earrings will liven up any outfit and run about $10!

5. Votivo, White Ocean Sands

I fell in love with this fragrance after my trip to Palm Beach in April. This was the signature scent of the Eau Hotel and Spa where. They describe it as "As the warm midsummer day drew to a close, the familiar sea salt freshness awaited their return' but this time was different; a smoke infused woodsy essence rose in gentle swirls from the beachside bonfire beckoning them to enjoy."  Candles are roughly $28 (Burns clean without harmful and black residue)

6. Nest, Bamboo

This was the first scent I fell in love with and still remains a favorite. I prefer crisp floral notes that are subtle. I want my home to smell clean and fresh not overly perfumed or sweet.  $40. (If you don't want to burn candles all day you might want to consider a diffuser.)

7. Old Navy Flip Flops

Available in a rainbow of colors, you'll want to pick up an armful! My favorites are the red, white and navy ones. I stock up on the white ones and when they start to look dirty and worn I simply toss them. I live in my flip flops during the summertime - more so than any other shoe! $5 a pair but can run as low as $1 a pair if you can hit a sale!

8. LaCroix Sparkling Water

These are TO DIE FOR! Available in a dozen flavors including passion fruit, grapefruit, coconut, lemon, lime and now tangerine, these effervescent beverages will help you fill your day's water quota without realizing it. My kids adore these as well. Prices vary - I can find them at my local grocery store for about $4 a case. 

9. Honey Goat Cheese

Liven up your cheese and charcuterie platters, switch this out for your regular goat cheese with salads, cruditées, bruschetta, etc... A slight sweetness marries perfectly with the crisp tartness of this cheese. Use this to give old favorites a new twist. You will thank me for this! Prices vary.

10. Starbucks Shaken Teavana Teas

I try not to spend too much money on Starbucks but on a hot day or after a particularly grueling spin class there's nothing I like as much as a shaken tea or shaken tea and lemonade blend. My favorites are the peach green tea, lemonade blend and the white iced tea lemonade blend. They're not calorie-free so I don't indulge too often, but when I do it's an incredible refreshing treat!

11. Wolffer Estates, Summer in a Bottle Rosé

This is hands-down my favorite rosé - I have a few that I turn to regularly, and at $22 a bottle, I do mix this up with others. This ships all away across the Long Island sound (about 10 miles or so away) from the Wolffer Estate Vineyard, a sustainable vineyard in the heart of the Hamptons. As Described by Wolffer: What distinguishes Summer in a Bottle is its fruit character. An homage to the glorious summer of 2013, Summer in a Bottle is a literal taste of the Hamptons high season. “We waited as long as possible to harvest the fruit for Summer in a Bottle. Choosing the perfect moment to pick was crucial to make this highly anticipated wine, bursting with the aromas and flavors of the seasonal fruits that reach their peak ripeness at the height of summer,” said Wölffer Winemaker/ Partner Roman Roth. It used to be hard to find, even in Connecticut, but the label is expanding and I saw this offered in Palm Beach in the springtime. 

12. Halo Top Ice Cream

From Halo Top Creamery, available in the US and Australia, this low-calorie, high-protein, low-sugar,  all-natural ingredients ice cream is to die for. You will have to try it to believe it! For those who prefer to eat the entire pint in one sitting, pints range from 230 - 340 calories... per pint! With amazing flavors such as peanut butter cup, lemon cake, cookies and cream, chocolate, vanilla, s'mores and more, you'll be able to indulge this summer without guilt! Roughly $5 per pint. Look at it this way, if you eat it for dinner it's a cheap and low calorie meal!

13. Swell Water Bottles

I never really got the hype until I tried one. They claim to keep beverages hot or cold for 24 hours and this never really meant anything to me until summertime. I accidentally left my bottle in the car for a couple of hours on a hot summer day. Normally my water would be undrinkable, not only was it cold, but the ice remained, from what I could tell, mostly unmelted. Now that summer has once again returned this is the only bottle I use. It's perfect for on the beach too! Available in a multitude of colors and designs, and in 9, 17 and 25 ounce sizes. Prices range from $25 - $45. Well worth the money. Environmentally friendly and Swell is socially and environmentally responsible. 

14. The Sunshine Sisters, by Jane Green

Every girl needs a good beach read! I am currently reading this book by Jane Green. I was given a copy at a wonderfully catered book launch last weekend. I'm loving it so far! 

About the book:  Ronni Sunshine left London for Hollywood in the sixties to become a beautiful, charismatic star of the silver screen. But at home, she was a narcissistic, disinterested mother who alienated her three daughters. Still, when Ronni discovers she has a serious illness, she calls her now-adult girls home to fulfill her final wishes. Nell, Meredith, and Lizzy are all going through crises of their own. But as their mother’s illness draws them together to confront old jealousies and secret fears, they discover that blood might be thicker than water after all. Available in Hardcover $17.09 (Amazon Prime) or Kindle, $12.99

15. Dove Dry Shampoo

I've tried them all. And I do mean all. This, by far the least expensive, is my favorite. It mists a white powdery substance which also gives my hair lift and volume which I very much need on a hot summer day! About $4.

16. Alba Botanica Sunscreen

As one who has had skin cancer I try to be diligent about covering up. I was told by my doctor, a top skin cancer surgeon at Yale New Haven Hospital that 30 SPF is the only coverage I need. He did say that I need to be diligent about re-applying, and although I need to improve, the only time I got burned this year was when I was eating lunch outside one day on a particularly warm spring day, and took off my sweater. I hadn't anticipated the sun and therefore I hadn't applied sunscreen. This is one of those "healthy" sunscreens that won't break the bank. I LOVE the way this feels on my skin, living it moist and dewy. I use this facial one all over my body. I've been able to find it for well under $10. 

17. Cheeky Plates for Target

Kids of ALL ages (my teenagers included!) will love these fun and whimsical plates by Cheeky for Target. Whether picnicking at the beach, poolside or inside for movie night, these plates will delight! $2.99 for each pack of 30.

18. Raffia Cross-body Bag, Zara

Perfect for toting sunglasses, sunscreen, cell phone, lip gloss and car keys this fun raffia bag is the perfect bag to accompany you from Beach to Café or outside Bar. $35.90