Weekend Baking: Pumpkin Tahini Loaf

Pumpkin tahini loaf is my new favorite. So much so that I've already made it twice in one week! Yes, we eat a lot of pumpkin bread.  If tahini sounds like a bizarre ingredient for pumpkin bread, don't overthink it - just try it, you will be amazed! I felt like it added a noticeable extra oomph of flavor which was very satisfying.  

I made a few slight changes to the recipe to made it a tiny bit healthier, such as substituting 1 cup of coconut sugar and only 1/4 cup white sugar, and opting for coconut oil instead of vegetable oil.  I didn't have black sesame seeds on hand, but we made due with a ample helping of white sesame seeds. Overall, delicious!  

A Little Video

Why do I love Beautycounter?  It's not just the discount or the products.  It's the mission, the direction, the dedication to research and efforts invested into bringing safer beauty to the masses.  This is a three minute video by Beautycounter's founder Gregg Renfrew, which speaks to the mission, science, and process which makes this company a Certified B Corporation.  If you have three minutes, I encourage you to watch.

Makeup Spotlight: Mascara

Mascara is one of those makeup staples I swear by.  Prior to doing some research, I never bought anything but drugstore mascara.  My go to brands were typically Maybelline, L'Oreal, and Cover Girl, I figured these did the job, so why fork over the extra $$?  But once I did a little digging and searching these brands on EWG Skindeep Database, and educated myself on what ingredients are typically in mascara...I've made some changes. 

According to WebMD, "Mascara's ingredients typically include a carbon black or iron oxide pigment to darken lashes; a polymer to form a film that coats lashes; a preservative; and thickening waxes and oils such as lanolin, mineral oil, paraffin, petrolatum, castor oil, carnauba wax, and candelilla wax."  Doesn't sound so bad right?  Well, consider that petroleum jelly comes from the residue buildup on the outside of oil rigs.  And mineral oil is just a colorless, odorless by-product of the distillation of petroleum to produce gasoline.  Oh yeah, and 'preservative' is typically a synonym for 'paraben,' a word you might recognize these days, an agent that prevents bacteria from growing. 

The scary thing is, the WebMD quote leaves out a lot of ingredients that you'll find in many mascara brands, which can include coal tar dyes, synthetic dyes, aluminum powder, formaldehyde, retinol acetate, and more.  And these are ingredients that yes, make you look good, but you're putting this ON. YOUR. EYES!  

Of course, brands are slowly wising up, but at present there are no legal ramifications for companies that include harmful ingredients in their products.  Translation: these mascaras are still on the market, so proceed with caution.   There are clean brands that make effective mascara without all the unnecessary junk.  Of course, my go to is Beautycounter's volumizing mascara, but that is by no means the only clean mascara out there, here are some others to consider.  I like Beautycounter's formula because it defines your eyes, is consistently clump free and stays put throughout the day. Here's a link to its EWG report so you can compare it against the other brands I posted above.

Bottom line...safer beauty doesn't come cheap.  But you've only got one pair of eyes, and one body. Be safe. Go clean. 

Quote of the Week

“Delight is rare for adults, though not for children. If you want to see what delight looks like, go by any schoolyard sometime when kids, little kids, kindergartners and first graders, come out for their recess break. They simply run around and shriek. Now that’s delight. This, the spontaneous response to the goodness and beauty of life.”

~ Ronald Rolheiser from the book, The Holy Longing


Saturday Snooze

Today is a rainy Saturday afternoon. My husband and kids are downstairs cozied up next to our first fire of the season, watching their new favorite cartoon, PJ Masks.  While screen time isn't my fave, I was pleased by this scene as I walked in from the garage, armed with loaded bags from Trader Joe's and a a flat of Costco groceries.  Their faces were suspended in delight, eyes alit with excitement over this little weekend privilege.  A few days ago, immediately after watching an episode of the same show, they bounded up the stairs, arms extended, eagerly soaring around the circle that makes our kitchen and family room, pretending to be PJ Masks, exclaiming, "I'm Owlette!"  "No, I'm Owlette!  Okay, I'm Cat Boy!" punctuated by their own cacophony of swooping and flying sounds.  Their creativity, their imagination, their excitement over playing pretend was a delight to behold.  This is our life.  These little everyday moments.  Many mundane, some extraordinary, all special in their own little way.

Here are some links and articles I've read and bookmarked from the week.  Have a lovely weekend!

+ in keeping with our cozy environment, this comfort food is in the works for dinner for all but me

+ how Mexico celebrates Dia de los Muertos

+ food for thought on the lost art of the phone call

+ did you know? brown and bronze ballet shoes are being made for the first time! long overdue!

+ 7 key phrases montessori teachers use (and we ought to too)

The Best Holiday Cards

With Halloween in the rear view mirror, you know what time it is??!?!  No...not Christmas music quite yet.  But...holiday cards!  The ritual of sending and receiving holiday cards is such a nostalgic and beloved tradition.  With Thanksgiving just around the corner, it's never too early to start checking things off the holiday to-do list!

This year, we're going with Minted for holiday cards. I've always admired Minted's classic style, clean lines, and beautiful paper. My personal favorites are the holiday cards with few colors with a fanciful cursive or statuesque font bearing a holiday phrase to celebrate the season.  After perusing many eligible designs, I have it narrowed down to these favorites....I hope you'll help me choose!

So...friends, what's your pick for me?  One, two, or three?  This is just the tip of the iceberg, my friends.   Minted makes it easy, with clickable features to narrow down the plethora of cards available.  Foil-pressed, letterpress, postcard, booklette, or completely custom, each style is categorized accordingly for easy accessibility.  If you prefer to shop by your personal style, scroll down to styles which include 'simple and minimalist,' or 'modern and edgy,' among others...the world is your oyster!

Don't delay in ordering yours!  Visit Minted through November 5th, use promo the code JOY18 for 15% off holiday cards and promo code FS100 for free shipping over $100.  (Offers may be combined).

This post is in collaboration with Minted.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Favorite Kid Podcasts

Do your kids listen to podcasts?  My kiddos are on the younger end of podcast listening, but we do have a few favorites we play in the car from time to time.
Wow in the World is hosted by Guy Raz and Mindy Thomas, this podcast covers topics from what's in your saliva to 3D printing to understanding where the universe came from.  An ideal podcast for curious kids with questions about the wonders of the world.  The pace is fast, and Guy and Mindy are high energy, sometimes a bit too animated for my taste, but my kids love it!
Another recent favorite is But Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids, also by NPR.  This is probably geared more toward school-aged kids, so we selectively pick and choose topics that might be interesting to a pre-school audience, but there is a lot of interesting content to absorb.  They cover everything from why do turtles have shells, why is fire orange, to heavier topics such as why do people get cancer.
Lastly, our most recent discovery is Fierce Girls.  My kids are currently too young for this one, we tried a few but they're a little more mature - and many parts went over my daughter's head at present , but I'm making a mental note of this podcast for future listening.  All are stories of strong, independent women, each of whom has overcame obstacles, navigated hardship, or gone head to head with societal norms to make a difference in the world.

And as always - we love recommendations! Do you have a favorite kid podcast you listen to?  

Dinner Last Night: Korean BBQ Burrito

Do you read Pinch of Yum?  If not, do yourself a favor right now, and take a moment to bookmark Lindsay's food blog.  It's packed with recipe success stories; many of them crockpot, easy to execute, and delicious to devour.  These Korean BBQ Burritos were no exception.  We ate them twice last week, and I'm not one for repeating meals too often.  If you need further convincing, the meat slow roasts all day to gustatory perfection, and once you pack your tortilla full of rice, cilantro, kimchi, green onions, and Sriracha mayo - wowza that's one heck of a burrito!
Try them.  You won't be disappointed.  


Quote of the Week

"What would you do if you weren't afraid?
~ Sheryl Sandburg


Bath Bombs: Do or Don't?

Do you use bath bombs?  The bath bomb trend kind of exploded a few years ago with brick and mortar store fronts like Lush toting their brightly colored bath bombs available in all the colors of the rainbow.  While I don't take baths often, I do enjoy a leisurely soak after a hard workout or a long, exhausting day.  But then I wondered...what's actually in a bath bomb?  
Typically, it's a mix of fizzy ingredients, colorants, salts, sometimes essential oils, or surprises like bits of rose petals or glitter.  The reason it breaks down in water is the sodium bicarbonate in the bath bomb reacts with citric acid releasing carbon dioxide gas.  Very similar to what happens when you drop an Alka-Seltzer tablet in water.  Though it does make sense to be wary of bath bombs with colors you don't see in nature, or foreign items like glitter, sprinkles, or shimmer.  Colorants and these "surprises" can serve as skin irritants, especially if your skin is sensitive.

My go-to bath products are usually Dr. Teal's foaming bath with epsom salts in lavender or Young Living bath bombs in stress away (an essential oil blend that's a pleasing scent of lime, vanilla, and copaiba).  These products are both clean, fragrance-free, and straightforward with their ingredient lists - no additives, colorants, or artificial fragrances allowed.

Happy soaking!

Cookbook Crush: Cravings Hungry For More // Dinner Last Night: Chicken and Dumplings

Do you follow Chrissy Teigen?  Sports illustrated model turned cookbook author, her debut cookbook came out in 2016 to rave reviews, and her sophomore cookbook, Cravings Hungry for More is just as appetizing.  I've always loved reading cookbooks cover to cover, and this one is an enjoyable read.  Teigen's personality resonates throughout, each recipe is marked by wry, witty, often self deprecating, and hilarious commentary.  Her food captions and blurbs alone indicate she doesn't take herself or fame too seriously, and I appreciate the blend of down home, kick back and nosh kind of recipes.
I I made her recipe for Chicken and Dumplings last week for dinner, and while my kids were extremely skeptical of dumplings in soup, my husband and I thought it was delicious.  The cookbook is organized by sections; breakfast, soups, sandwiches, dinner, snacks, Thai mom, and my personal favorite, "potatoes and their friends," a girl after my own heart.    

Recipes that had me salivating were the crispy buffalo smashies (potatoes), grilled eggplant with crispy shallots, jerk lamb chops with sweet + salty banana rice, coconut short rib curry, and of course, the everything bagel cream cheese breakfast bake.  If any recipe is going to make me return to dairy - pretty sure it will be that one.  This cookbook should be read with a knife and fork, because you'll want to dig right in!


Quote of the Week

"Count my blessings like stars in the sky."
~ Bic Runga


Let's Talk Lipstick

Let's talk lipstick, shall we?  Did you know that many makeup items contain heavy metals?  Do you know what the headliner of the heavy metals category is?  Lead.  Yes, lead.  Gulp.  Now, remember, companies are not intentionally adding heavy metals to makeup, but rather these are typically contaminants that are inadvertantly brought along with both mineral and synthetic ingredients used to give products color.

The FDA conducted a study of 400 lipsticks in 2007 for the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, which found small increments of lead in the majority of lipsticks tested.  The FDA also claims these are of minimal risk to people as lipstick is rarely swallowed.  Well...did you know, the average woman swallows seven pounds of lipstick in her lifetime?  SEVEN POUNDS!  

While there are some guidelines and restrictions limiting the use of lead in color additives used in cosmetics, there is no FDA limit defined for lead in cosmetics. Ultimately, this has been left to companies to create their own heavy metal standards which is terrifying, as many do not subscribe to safety as a #1 priority.

Okay, now that I've given you some facts - some good news.  There are companies that test all color products for heavy metals.  For example, during development, Beautycounter sends its cosmetic formulas to independent labs to test for 12 heavy metals.  They work with suppliers to do their best to avoid contaminants, and keep heavy metal levels at a non-detectable level - which is significantly more screening than most companies do.  Remember, there are no FDA restrictions on what the limit should be for ppm heavy metals in cosmetics at present. 

Some food for thought for the next time you're in the market for a lipstick.  This one is currently always in my purse.  


Friday Fun

+ I've always been a fan of old-fashioned correspondence and this lovely article was simply the icing on the cake - there truly is power in writing and receiving thank you notes!

+ this family costume idea is genius!

+ don't think my kids would agree, but I think this side dish sounds delectable

+ hoping to make these little guys with my kids this weekend

+ might have to carve out some time to bake this even more perfect apple pie

+ these two guys doing a michael jackson cover on the cello is insanely good!

+ I have ambitions to incorporate this village into our Halloween decoration someday

+ did you read this cookbook?  interested in the new show based on the book

+ ever thought to style your fall outfits after seasonal molly moon ice cream flavors, I don't know about you but vegan plum crisp sounds pretty delightful!

have a great weekend!

Dinner Last Night: Green Curry & Lime Chicken

I recently checked out Diane Sanfilipo's Practical Paleo cookbook for the library, and my mind is blown!  This is one of the most comprehensive Paleo resources I've ever seen.  It is beyond a cookbook, it gives a thorough explanation of of how eating a Paleo diet benefits numerous lifestyles and medical conditions.  It gives suggestions on lifestyle changes, and a meal-by-meal plan for beginning your journey to clean eating.  I perused the book cover to cover and I barely scratched the surface.

Anyway...I'm all about Diane's methodology, and since I've jumped on her bandwagon, I decided to start bookmarking recipes, among which included Thai Green Curry and Lime Chicken.  The marinade is savory, tart, and packs a citrus punch.  We left it in the broiler a bit longer to crisp up the skin for extra crunch.  Eaten with our favorite coconut rice and tamari-roasted broccoli, I think it's official we've added a new favorite to the dinner rotation.


Weeknight Baking: Pumpkin Banana Bread

What do you make when you have an abundance of browning bananas in October?  Well...after googling "pumpkin banana bread," and deciding it's a legitimate thing, that's what!  Why have I never tried this combination before!?  I used the Pioneer Woman's recipe, because she's proven to have a pretty good track record, so why not?  Oh, and I added a handful of chocolate chips for good measure.  Again, because...why not?  It's not quite as nutmegy or clovey as my usual go-to pumpkin bread, but it still retains the flavors of fall plus the added moist density of banana bread.

Happy fall!

Dinner Last Night: Beef & Eggplant Fatteh

While perusing Nigella Lawson's At My Table, I came across a recipe for Beef and Eggplant Fatteh,. I was unfamiliar with the word "fatteh, but intrigued by the picture looked quite delicious. The base is pita bread, layered with cumin-coriander ground beef and eggplant, garlicky tahini-yogurt sauce, red pepper flakes, pomegranate seeds, toasted pine nuts, and shredded mint.  Even my husband who is an eggplant skeptic, devoured it before he even recognized eggplant as a primary ingredient.  Now, we ate this for a date dinner - so kids didn't have an opportunity to weigh in with their particulars, but in the future, I fully intend to brand this as Middle Eastern nachos to win them over.  


Quote of the Week

"Travel isn't always pretty.  It isn't always comfortable.  Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart.  But that's okay.  The journey changes you; it should change you.  It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind."
~ Anthony Bourdain


Fall Favorites: Crockpot Applesauce

I've tried lots of applesauce recipes - and this recipe is by far the favorite.  Maybe it's the tartness of the granny smith apples or the richness of the apple cider, or the dash of salt just for good measure, but it's tart + sweet + smooth all at once.  Plus, it couldn't be easier to throw together.  God bless the crockpot.  Hands down, it's a fall favorite.  Eating this with oatmeal on a crisp fall morning feels like an indulgence, I hope you get a chance to try this for yourself this season.

image via sayyes

Stink Documentary

Check your labels.  If you see the word "fragrance" listed as an ingredient on your shampoo, conditioner, lotion, detergent, and cleaning product labels - beware!  This is the loophole that companies can use to hide chemicals in your products.  "Fragrance" could mean 5 chemicals, it could mean 10.  It could mean 100.  And often, it really is 100.  People think there's a safety net, an FDA or similar unit to prevent this from happening.  The truth - there are currently NO rules or regulations to prevent this from happening.  Beautycounter is trying to change that.

For more information, check out this 2015 documentary, Stink, by Jon Whelan, a single dad who made it his mission to expose this fragrance loophole after purchasing pajamas for his young daughters online, that when opened, reeked of chemicals.  This prompted him to investigate what chemicals companies would put on children's pajamas and what he found is rather frightening.  You deserve to know what you're putting in and on your body.

Cookbook Crush: At My Table

I have a lot of cookbook crushes these days - after months of lingering in my library queue, it seems that all the new cookbooks arrived ready for pickup all at once.  So gear up friends, this is likely to be the first of many new cookbook crush posts!

At My Table is the most recent cookbook by Nigella Lawson.  Truth be told, it's the first cookbook I've ever read by her, despite the fact that she's quite popular on the food scene and has a smattering of bestselling cookbooks over the past 15 years.  It might be high time I add her previous publications to my library queue, as every recipe in At My Table is pure gold!  It's packed with comforting, healthy-ish that dishes are hearty, flavorful, and relatively easy to concoct.  In addition to the fact that they don't require too many unusual ingredients, always a plus. Pretty much every page sound utterly  satisfying and delicious!

Thus far, I've made the beef and eggplant fatteh and bookmarked include turmeric rice with cardamom and cumin...  So many good recipes, so little time.  Christmas wish list cookbook perhaps?


Dinner Last Night: Baked Honey Cilantro Lime Salmon

Dinner last night was delicious and soooo incredibly easy, I must share with you!  Honey Cilantro Lime Salmon courtesy of Creme de la Crumb.  The original recipe calls to bake the salmon in foil, but skipped this step because foil + food is not good for our bodies.  But easy peasy, parchment substituted as a nice non-stick base just fine.  

The flavor was delicious!  I wasn't sure how honey would balance out with the fish + herbs, but it was subtle and gave it a pleasant sweetness.  Though truth be told, my kids were quite skeptical of the "green stuff" on top of their salmon.  We typically bake our salmon with a Sriracha, sesame oil, and olive oil marinade, and apparently this was too visually out of left field, protesting abound!  However, once we sold that there was honey in the sauce, it got at least one child willing and on board to eat the dinner.  Celebrate those small victories when you see them, amiright?

Ultimately, this will was delish and will be becoming more of a regular dinner in our home, if only to just desensitize my children to the green on top of food...

Happy eating!

Quote of the Week

“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.”
- F. Scott Fitzgerald


Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is breast cancer awareness month.  Despite this video's cheeky title, I found this tutorial to be extremely helpful and informative in guiding women in performing thorough self breast exams at home.  A good friend and former colleague of mine was was just diagnosed with Stage II breast cancer after finding a lump during an at-home self breast exam.  She's only 36.  It's never too early to make this a part of your routine  Pass it on.

Saturday Snooze

Hello...hello.  It's been quiet on the blog for two weeks as we've been volleying back and forth between sicknesses.  First a stomach bug for my kiddos then an intense cold + cough for me.  Capped off with a lot of concealer + makeup for our family photos this morning, and phew, I'm spent!  What are you up to this lovely fall weekend?
+ been thinking a lot about the Christine Blasey Ford testimony this week.  Her bravery, her courage, the strength she's given to other survivors.  This TIME article is worth a read, and quote in particular stood out to me:

"The facts remain unsettled, and Ford’s testimony may not prevent Kavanaugh’s confirmation. But it was a powerful warning that wealth, status and a record of professional accomplishments were no longer enough to override credible allegations of sexual assault, no matter when they occurred. To young men, it was a message that drunken violence could shadow them all their lives. And to victims, Ford’s testimony was an invitation to speak up, no matter how powerful the accused, no matter how long ago the attack. People will listen, the country seemed to reassure them. We will believe you."

In other less controversial news...

+ bookmarking these easy crockpot carnitas for dinner next week

+ this really struck a cord with me, do you usually find yourself behind the camera? I definitely do.

+ kind of love this tote bag, you've got mail is a personal favorite of mine

+ considering this wall color for our family room - what do you think?

+ do you have a family charter?

+ daydreaming over this airbnb in santorini, can we go tomorrow?

+ eyeing this cozy (currently on sale) sweater for fall

Have a good weekend!


Quote of the Week

"'No regrets' doesn't mean living with courage, it means living without reflection.  To live without regret is to believe you have nothing to learn, no amends to make, and no opportunity to be braver with your life."
- Brene Brown


Dinner Last Night: Sausage + Mushroom Polenta

After falling down the Rachel Hollis rabbit hole after listening to her outstanding book, Girl, Wash Your Face, I learned that she started her career as a food blogger.  Who knew?!  On her website, The Chic Site, there was one of those attention grabbing posts that I always fall for "12 quick and easy dinners," and this meal in particular caught my eye, sausage and mushroom polenta.  I don't remember growing up with polenta, but after having a life changing polenta + pesto dish at a friend's wedding August 2016, I decided it's time to make some room for polenta in my life.

As for a kid-friendly meal, one loved the "cheesy rice," the name under which we sold the polenta, another dug the mushrooms, so they kind of a la carted the meal, but hey, we can't win them all!  Though I should note, it was a total hit with the husband!  Ultimately, quick and easy it was - definitely bookmark worthy for another time.


Hello, hello.  Sorry my blog has been a bit neglected in the past two weeks.  First, me grandma passed away, which was a devastating loss.  She was an amazing, wonderful woman who had a long, happy life until the end.  Although we knew it was coming, the loss still hits you like a punch in the gut.  And in spite of that sadness, life goes on...  

We had a busy, busy weekend, I hosted an already planned Beautycounter open house, had a long overdue brunch with my college girlfriends, and then my son caught a stomach bug.  He's on the mend, but we're all a little tired - emotionally and physically - as we shift back into gear for the week.  

+ took a break from my go-to rerun show to binge this in a manner of days. I just loooove John Krasinski, and I thought he did great in an action role.

+ reading and thinking about this candid advice on raising teenage girls (wise wisdom, bookmarking this for later).

+ just finished this amazing book...seriously amazing.  like top 5 reads of my life!  in depth post to follow (p.s. I listened to the audiobook which I highly recommend, the first narrator's voice was so eloquent and hypnotically captivating).

+ made this for dinner this week to kick off fall, and it was a surprising hit with my kids who historically haven't been fans of soup.

+ did you hear, there's going to be a downton abbey movie?!  am I the last to know?

+ taking notes on yet another one of ashley's amazing travelogues, have you ever been to puglia?

What have you been up to?


Quote of the Week

“For what it’s worth: it is never too late to be whoever you want to be. I hope you live a life you are proud of, and if you find you are not, I hope you have the strength to start over again.”

~ F. Scott Fitzgerald

Quote of the Week

"To know and love one other human being 
is the root of all wisdom."
~ Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited


How We Use Essential Oils

Let's get started, how can you use oils in your home...for those who are wondering, what exactly are essential oils?  Good question!  
Essential oils are the lifeblood of a plant, which can be found in a plant's flower, stem, leaves, bark, or fruit.  When applied topically, they can reach every cell in your body in 20 minutes! (20 minutes!)  Essential oils an transport nutrients, help support cell regeneration, and support digestive, nervous, and immune system health.

The possibilities are endless, but start with a few, trial and error, find what scents you like and dislike, and then begin to establish routines that work for you and your family.  

Why did you start using essential oils?

There are minimal regulations in the United States which dictate which ingredients can be allowed in personal care products.  After doing some research on my own and learning that many of the so-called "clean" products we used as a family were actually hard hitting offenders, I started to make some changes in our home, including adding essential oils.  Since we can't control everything in our environment, trying to take back what control I can to contribute to our quality of life by limiting our exposure to toxins and chemicals.  

I was especially freaked out after the recent memo by the EPA confirming the connection between formaldehyde and leukemia.  Until the FDA regulations increase and improve to eliminate harmful chemicals, we'll keep diligently reading labels, doing our own research, and work to understand what ingredients are really in the products we use.  Companies that are transparent about disclosing their ingredients earn our trust, such as Beautycounter, Young Living, and Seventh Generation.

How does one use oils?

Most people begin with the starter kit which contains 11 commonly used oils (digize, thieves, lemon, peppermint, copaiba, raven, citrus fresh, frankincense, lavender, panaway, and stress away).  Note: you definitely don't have to buy the starter kit, but it's usually a popular choice as you get the most bang for your buck.
Let's get started, how can you use oils in your home...

 We add a few drops of lavender and purification to wool dryer balls to freshen up loads of laundry. Dryer balls help dry faster without any of the toxins of dryer sheets with the bonus of adding a pleasant fragrance to your laundry.
One of my favorite uses for oils is to replace candles.  Some of my favorite blends include peppermint + lemon + lavender, stress away + valor, and orange + northern lights black spruce.  The fragrance and comforting aromas of candles without excess toxins in the air.  A lot of people swear by the 

Also use peppermint for headaches, I dab a drop on my temples and massage.  I don't know if it's the strong minty scent or what, but it usually helps even the worst headaches subside.

I also use purification to absorb stinky odors, for example, our in-house compost bin fills up quickly with two little kids and plenty of sandwich crusts and banana peels. After emptying the bin, it kind of stinks!  I add a rinse of dish soap, a few drops of purification, swirl it around, wipe it clean, and bam, we're back in business!

And my most favorite use for essential oils - sleep!  After my gallbladder surgery I had a really hard time sleeping, something I had never dealt with previously.  I started diffusing a few drops of northern lights black spruce + cedarwood every night and those zzzz's started coming.  Other favorite sleep oils include lavender + cedarwood, lavender + sleepyize, and stress away + lavender.  Sweet dreams!

Speaking of sleep, I also made a sleep spray from cedarwood + lavender + orange, topped off with witch hazel in a spray bottle.  I spritz on our pillows about 5-10 minutes before we're heading to bed for an extra boost of sleep inducing, calming scents.

While I've given you a few ideas as to how we use oils in our home, this is just scratching the surface with the possibilities for essential oils. 

What are your favorite oils?

Seeking Song Recommendations

Hello!  I need your help...with song recommendations!  I've been so immersed in podcast and audiobook listening these days that I don't know what's even on the radio anymore - wow, does that make me sound old!  Looking for upbeat, fast songs for a running / workout playlist.  Dance, pop, rap are all perfectly acceptable and welcomed!  Please share your favorites!


Mozart in the Jungle

Need a new show?  Upon recommendations from a few friends, I've just binged the first two seasons of Mozart in the Jungle on Amazon Prime.  Knowing close to nothing about symphonies and how they work, I've enjoyed watching a show about the culture and camaraderie of a symphony (even if it's fiction).  Episodes are 30 minutes; quick, entertaining, there's some love, some drama, some humor, all against a stellar musical backdrop.  

Dinner Last Night: Caribbean Chicken and Rice Lettuce Wraps

Tried these Caribbean chicken and rice lettuce wraps last night and it was a hit!  To avoid turning on my oven, I improvised with the chicken, and instead threw two chicken breasts, herbs de provence, paprika, minced garlic, and coconut milk in the crock pot.  Ultimately I think it turned out great.  The boxed rice was splendidly easy - always nice - and the crunch of the lettuce wrap paired with the refreshing flavor of the mango salsa was perfection!  


I don't really like to think that everything happens for a reason, but I saw this on instagram yesterday, on the 17th anniversary of 9/11, it struck a cord.  Shortly thereafter, I read this piece in the Washington Post, about perspectives of kids experiencing 9/11 remember, and I found tears streaming down my face.  

I was 18 on September 11, 2001, just weeks before starting college, and the weight of news, the replays of the footage felt like falling off an abrupt cliff into adulthood.  The gravity of the action taken, the carnage, a confused sense of trying to understand...how life would change in that moment, felt like a departure from adolescence and any remaining innocence forever.  I had never stopped to consider what it might've seemed like or been like to experience such a day as a child.  #neverforget

The Hate U Give

Did you read The Hate U Give?  It is an excellent young adult novel that debuted in February 2017, and has already been made into a movie!  I saw the preview when watching Crazy Rich Asians, I couldn't believe it!  Is it me or is the book-to-movie turnaround light years faster than it used to be?!

Anyway, this book is...WOW!  In a nutshell: sixteen year old Starr Carter is straddling two world; the low income neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends.  Everyday she navigates between her identity among her wealthy, predominantly white friends at school, and her the all black neighborhood where she lives.  She feels like she has a handle on her parallel identities when driving home at night with her childhood best friend Khalil, she witnesses his murder by a white police officer after they're pulled over.

Khalil's death becomes national news.  Many call him a thug, drug dealer, gang banger.  Protesting ensues.  Her identity as a witness is kept confidential due to her age, but what Starr wants more than anything is for the world to know what happened that night, that Khalil was sober, unarmed, and an innocent victim.  

As always, read the book first, but the movie looks just as captivating!

Quote of the Week

“To a parent, your child wasn’t just a person: your child was a place, a kind of Narnia, a vast eternal place where the present you were living and the past you remembered and the future you longed for all existed at once.  You could see it every time you looked at her: layered in her face was the baby she’d been and the child she’d become and the adult she would grow up to be, and you saw them all simultaneously like a 3-D image.  It made your head spin.  It was a place you could take refuge, if you knew how to get in.  And each time you left it, each time your child passed out of your sight, you feared you might never be able to return to that place again." 
- excerpt from Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (p. 122)


Weekend Baking: Baked Oatmeal

Ever since omitting eggs from my diet, I've felt better, but have been struggling with breakfast.  Since we tend to run about 10 minutes behind schedule, I'm often stashing a protein bar in my bag or eating a cold toaster waffle while running out the door.  

However, on the occasional weekend, when I have all my ducks in a row, the stars align, and somehow I'm prepared and on top of my game, I make this baked oatmeal.  This recipe has been shared amongst my girlfriends, and made in the kitchens of many a girls trip.  Each prepares this oatmeal a tiny bit differently, each adding their own twist or variation, and yet all are delicious.  I personally add coconut chips, coconut milk, sliced almonds, omit the egg, and go heavy on the bananas and frozen berries.  It's relatively quick to throw together, bakes and reheats wonderfully.  It's the perfect breakfast to make ahead and eat throughout the week.

I hope you love it as much as I do!


Friday Fun

Hello, how are you?  Guess what?  I became an aunt again today!!  Yes, and my first niece!  Sweet Lyla Ann was born today in Michigan mid-day, so the weekend is off to a fantastic start!  Also, we're celebrating my daughter's birthday this weekend with a rainbow-unicorn birthday party - bet you wish you were invited to that, am I right?  What are you up to?

+ another great article about Beautycounter's clean mission (if you need another reason to be swayed to this company)

+ i've always wanted to do a New England road trip - but now I'm thinking of narrowing my focus to Maine might be enough - the seafood, the lighthouses, the salty air.  sounds like bliss!

+ might be purchasing this costume for halloween - anyone else thinking ahead?  one kiddo is set in her decision and has been for months and the other is incredible indecisive.  a few of his ideas have included...fire truck, impact hammer, frog, doggy, astronaut kitty...

+ intrigued by this post - do you have a morning "power hour?"

+ some great gift ideas for the 6 and 7-year old range - lots of creative items/products I'd never heard of before

+ wanting to add this to our dinner rotation - I love me a lettuce wrap!

+ ever been to hydra, greece?  me neither.  now i want to go!

+ just abandoned this book, about halfway through it just got dull.  in search of a new one...any favorite recent reads?