Quote of the Week

"May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears."
~ Nelson Mandela



It's crazy that in the US, cosmetics and skincare, a 62 billion dollar industry is still highly underregulated in 2018.  80% of cosmetic ingredients have never been tested for safety.  80%!!  That is mind boggling!

Beautycounter's founder and CEO, Gregg Renfrew, recently met with lawmakers to discuss proposed legislation such as the Personal Care Products Safety Act.  This act, introduced by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Ca) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) would give the FDA power to review cosmetics for potentially dangerous ingredients.  With the last legislation on personal-care products passed in 1938, this seems waaaaay overdue.

If you haven't looked up the safety of the makeup and skincare products you use, I encourage you to do so.  The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has a comprehensive database called Skin Deep, where you can search 73,620 products to check for overall hazards, cancer risks, allergies and immunotoxicity, developmental and reproductive toxicity, use restrictions, and more.  

Another great, reliable resource is the Think Dirty app, which has a similar database to check for ingredients in your beauty, personal care, and household products.  This app also allows you to scan barcodes to easily search for products.  Also offers suggestions of cleaner alternative products moving forward to lessen your continued exposure to toxins. Free, available for download on Apple and Android.

Do your research, it's out there if you want to know. It's your body, keep yourself safe and informed!

Dinner Last Night: Takeout Cashew Chicken

Dinner last night: takeout cashew chicken a la The Faux Martha's new cookbook, The Minimalist Kitchen. I featured this cookbook on the blog a few weeks ago as my most recent cookbook crush, and have since purchased and bookmarked up about 90% of the pages with sticky notes. 😍 This recipe was delish, healthy and clean, passed the kid approval test, and made for superb leftovers. 

Friday Fun

Hello out there!  How are you?  Can you believe it's already the end of July?  This summer has flown by!  We've been spending our days in camp, afternoons splashing in our oversized baby pool or a dip in the nearby lake.  The scent of sunscreen has permeated my children's skin.  And if feels as if there's popsicles or ice cream at every meal.  Ah, the sweetness of summer.  Here are some links I rounded up for the week.

+ currently captivated by this audiobook

+ also devouring this book

+ my favorite series on motherhood around the world is back!

+ here's what libraries do in amazon's hometown (a counterpoint to the now-deleted controversial article by Forbes contributor Panos Mourdoukoutas) 

+ learned a new word from my audiobook this week.  ever used this word in a sentence?

+ this has me wanting to take my kids to rome tomorrow!

+ are you into the enneagram?  check out this guide to the enneagram types of your fave books, authors, and characters

+ habit shift i need to adopt: making greener back to school lunches

have a great weekend!


Skincare Spotlight: Cleansing Balm

Starting up some little skincare spotlights on my favorite products. First up, the Beautycounter cleansing balm.  If you’re anything like me, upon first hearing of a product called "cleansing balm," I was like... uh, so what is it exactly?  When I think balm, my brain goes right to lip balm. So is it a lip balm for your face?  Let me set the record straight.  First, it’s a cleanser, a face wash and eye makeup remover, but don’t stop there. Also works as an overnight hydrating mask, and can be used for eczema spot treatments. 

The texture is unique, it’s kind of like a thick, viscous version of coconut oil, but it melts into the skin more easily, if you can imagine that. Packed with nutrients, raspberry and cranberry seed oils and amazing for hydration, even for the breakout prone like myself.  And truthfully, at first, I was a bit skeptical of the balm. Would it be like Noxema? The awful cleanser whose noxious smell peppered my preteen years. Not even close! This is the first true “balm” I’ve ever used as a face wash and I’m not sure I can ever go back. 

To apply, you take a dime sized amount using the provided scoop, rub across your face. The balm + massaging removes any makeup residue, which you’ll see as it’s pulled from your skin. Wipe off with muslin cloth that comes with cleansing balm (or wet washcloth), tone, and moisturize and you’re ready for bed. I also use it 1-2 nights per week to hydrate and then just wash my face in the morning. 

The jar will likely last you 4-6 months easy, and I can truly see a change in the texture and hydration of my skin. My skin used to flake occasionally when I applied makeup, and that is no longer the case. While I’m a consultant for Beautycounter, I don’t feel passionate about all of their products. But the ones that are effective, productive, and worthwhile, I sing the praises of. The cleansing balm is a solid favorite, I love, love, love it.

Dinner Last Night: Greek Stuffed Peppers

I might be the only crazy person who turns on their oven at 5:00 pm when it's 85 degrees outside in a house without air-conditioning, but this recipe looked good enough to endure the extra heat.  Thus, Half Baked Harvest's Greek stuffed peppers were made, and devoured.  We have a banner crop of garden basil this year which paired happily with all the Greek flavors of feta cheese, kalamata olives, and garlic.  

A few edits on our part, instead of all red peppers, I picked up a smattering of colors; so we had red, yellow, and orange.  After all, we teach our kids to be inclusive in all situations, that applies to food to, no?  We opted for quinoa instead of orzo, and I added coarsely chopped Persian cucumbers too for a little extra crunch.  

All in all - a great recipe, which albeit better suited for fall weather, was equally palatable on a hot July night.

Last Great Book I Read: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

I just finished this book in a manner of days!  Eleanor Oliphant is quite a character, literally like no other I've ever read.  She's practical and frugal, struggles with reading and interpreting social cues, and says exactly what she's thinking in all situations; the good, the bad, and the ugly.  As such, she's cultivated a life of isolation where her primary relationships with frozen pizza and vodka rather than people.

As the story unfolds, we get flashes of Eleanor's unconventional upbringing, insights into some of the terrible circumstances of her childhood that shaped who she is and how she acts.  There is a significant shift in Eleanor's life when she meets Raymond, the carefree, happy-go-lucky IT guy at her office. In an unexpected right-place-at-the-right-time moment, Eleanor and Raymond find themselves rescuing an elderly man who has fallen on the sidewalk.  

They later befriend the man, Sammy, and all of a sudden, Eleanor finds herself with not one but two potential friends.  This is a heartwarming, uplifting story about finding friendship out of isolation and light from darkness.  Eleanor Oliphant, in spite of her peculiar, unusual nature will surely charm you as she comes to fully realize that the world is not even close to what she's been told.

Read this one!!  Also - worth noting, this is soon to be a major motion picture produced by Reese Witherspoon, so you know that means you better read the book first!


Quote of the Week

"You don't have to move mountains.  Simply fall in love with life.  Be a tornado of happiness, gratitude, and acceptance. You will change the world by just being a warm, kind hearted human being."

~ Anita Krizzan


Trying to Become a Morning Person

Are you a morning person?  Historically, I have not been.  I looooooove me some sleep.  Most days, I wait for my kids to wake me up in the morning, which can vary day to day, typically from 6:00 AM to almost 8:00 AM.  When it's the latter, I often wake up already feeling behind.  The morning is harried, we're rushed to get all the things done, and often scrambling to get out the door to pre-school or the day's activities.  

Recently, I heard Tsh Oxenreider on her podcast, The Simple Show explaining how a mindset shift regarding waking up has helped reframe her entire day.  She stated that began intentionally waking up early, before her children in order wake up "FOR my day instead of TO my day."  Friends, I heard this, and it was a lightbulb moment for me!  These words resonated with me soundly, suddenly waking up early didn't sound so bad, in fact, it seemed quite ingenious!  

I set an alarm, not necessarily with the intention of working out or doing a task, but just to awake "for my day."  I've found, in spite of my love of sleep, when I tried this, waking up earlier, "to my day," I feel more alert, prepared, and focused for the day. Who knew that a few quiet moments to myself; bet that getting dressed, washing my face, having a quiet cup of coffee, was a surge of energy I didn't know I could benefit from.  

What do you tend to do?  Wake up for your day or to your day?


Natural Deodorants & Armpit Cleanses

I'm sure you've heard the buzz on natural deodorants.  Why, you ask are people making the switch?  Well...conventional deodorants and anti-perspirants contain a handful of chemicals and additives.  

First, let's discuss the difference between deodorants and antiperspirants.  Antiperspirants reduce sweating while deodorants remove the odor of sweat.  Sweat is your body's natural physical response to exercise or exertion.  Its purpose is to prevent the body from overheating.  While many conventional deodorants are effective in curbing sweat and odor, keep in mind they're using chemicals to be effective.  It takes unnatural ingredients to block our bodies natural ability to sweat.  Here's the short list of chemicals hidden inside many conventional and popular deodorants.
  • Phthalates– Endocrine disruptors often found in plastic particles that can cause hormone imbalance and even infertility 
  • Aluminum– evidence linking aluminum to cancer and Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Propylene glycol– common name: antifreeze. It is an additive in many personal care products but the EWG reports it carries a moderate risk of allergies and immunotoxicity.
  • Formaldehyde-  a known carcinogen
  • Parabens- A hormone disruptor.  Parabens have been found in biopsied tissues with breast cancer
  • Antibacterial Substances- Endocrine disruptors and can negatively impact immune systems
Now I've tried a handful of natural deodorants over the years.  I used Lavanila for a few years, and tried a few months wearing Native, but have most recently used Schmidt's which I really consider my favorite of all the brands I've tried.  I like that it comes in a traditional stick form (as opposed to a potted, scoop-able deodorant), limits sweat, blocks odor and doesn't make me smell (as I've found natural deodorants to do). 

However, I feel like my experience might have been more effective had I started with an armpit detox.  The purpose of an armpit detox is to expedient the natural deodorant adjustment period.  It helps pull some of those odor blocking harmful chemicals out of the skin and issues of the armpits.  This can be especially effective if you've been a conventional deodorant user for a long time.  Positive outcomes after armpit cleanse/detoxes include: less odor (even w/o deodorant), less sweat, and less rashes or reactions to natural deodorants.

Worth noting, keep in mind that like many detoxes, you may have a reaction.  Some people report that they excrete unpleasant odors in the first week(s) after an armpit cleanse as their body releases the toxins that have built up in the sweat glands from years of conventional deodorant usage.
 Sound interesting?  Here's what you do.

Armpit Cleanse Detox Recipe via Wellness Mama

  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar (I used Trader Joe's raw apple cider vinegar) 
  • 1 tablespoon bentonite clay (I bought this brand on Amazon)
  • 1-2 teaspoons water (star w/1 tsp and add more to get desired consistency) 

1. Mix all of the ingredients in a glass bowl (do not use metal) with a wooden or non-metal spoon until about the consistency of sour cream.

2. Spread in an even layer over the armpits and allow to sit for 5-20 minutes.  I suggest starting slowly and working up to a longer period of time once you see how your body adjusts.  It it hurts at all, remove immediately.

3. This may cause some redness as it will increase blood flow to the area, but it will go away quickly.

4. Wash off in shower or with a warm, wet washcloth.

5. Repeat daily or as needed until under-arm odor goes away and natural deodorant is non-irritating.

Want to read more about this?  I found Wellness Mama and Mamavation to have a lot of information on armpit cleanses and detoxes. 

Quote of the Week

“Once in a while it really hits people that they don’t have to experience the world in the way they have been told to.” 
– Alan Keightley


Somebody Feed Phil

Have you seen Somebody Feed Phil?  It's a Netflix original series that originally began as "I'll Have What Phil's Having" on PBS, but got picked up an renewed via Netflix.  Always a sucker for a good travel show, then throw in a focus on food, and I'm sold!

The host, Phil Rosenthal is a Los Angeles based TV writer, best known for his work writing Everybody Loves Raymond.  He's not your typical travel host - he's quirky, eccentric, but an affable and lovable host who seems to truly connect with the people he meets abroad.  In the show, he travels all over the world, interacting with famous chefs, partaking in culinary traditions and regional cuisines and activities, all the while peppering the show with a slough of eye popping facial expressions.  While he's no Anthony Bourdain, he does bring a certain sentimentality to traveling.  

My husband and I love this show and save it to watch together.  Favorite episodes include Copenhagen (hands down), then Bangkok, Tel Aviv, Lisbon, Dublin, and Venice.  I love shows like this, they give me inspiration for all the places to see someday!

Have you watched it?  If so, what do you think?

New Motto

I have a thing with words.  I love quotations.  I love books, especially rereading or relistening to my favorites.   And when I hear a quote I resonate with, I latch onto it.  I've subscribed to a few select quotes in my life, but most recently I've been been rolling beloved children's author Amy Krouse Rosenthal's quote "make the most of your time here" around in my brain, fixating over the weight, importance, and depth of these words.  Seven words that together behold so much meaning and significance. Whenever I'm feeling stressed, annoyed, or dwelling on a small problem or inconvenience, I try and mentally recite this to myself.  Make the most of your time here.  Make the most of your time here.  It helps all the unnecessary noise melt away.  

Amy Krouse Rosenthal passed away at age 51 after a short battle with ovarian cancer.  You may recall her from this piece for the New York Times she wrote about her husband, a love letter of sorts, honoring "this extraordinary man" and their life together.  It is touching and heartbreaking, an unorthodox granting of permission of sorts, her way of expressing that she'd like him to eventually move on and fall in love again.

Somehow knowing the circumstances behind her life, illness, and marriage adds an additional weight and meaning to this quote, and her words, at least to me.  If you're in search of a motto, try this one on for size, I hope you'll find it as useful and purposeful as I have.

Do you have a motto?


The Real Meaning of "Fragrance"

Do you know what’s in your kids’ shampoo? Flip over the bottle and scan the ingredients for the word “fragrance.” 

“Fragrance,” is considered a trade secret, so companies aren’t legally bound to disclose what chemicals make up the scent. It is often dozens, sometimes even hundreds of chemicals.” All tucked away in one little word. Scary, right?

I did this with all of my kids’ products and found the word “fragrance,” on every single bottle, even the ones that were sulfate, phthalate, and paraben free and seemed “clean.” 

Yet another reason I love Beautycounter and their kids line. There’s no mystery “fragrance.” They fully disclose all essential oils and ingredients used. The kids’ shampoo and conditioner come in fresh citrusy vanilla scent and you’ll feel confident knowing you’re not putting any chemicals onto or into your kids. 

Last Great Book I Read: Landline

Normally I'm a paper book kind of person.  I tried the kindle for a while, but honestly, I love the tactile nature of a book in the hand.  The passage of pages, seeing your bookmark slowly creep through the volume.  The sound of an aggressive page flip when you can't wait to find out what happens next.  There's just something about it that can't be replicated digitally (in my humble opinion).  

However, there have been a few books that I just couldn't get into in paperback form, but that I really loooved via audiobook.  Landline by Rainbow Rowell is one of those.  After reading Attachments for my book club which I absolutely adored, I picked up Landline at the library and was underwhelmed.  I don't know what it was exactly about this title, but after several attempts and impending boredness, I just couldn't get into it.  

Normally, I'd just let it go and move on, after all there are plenty of books in the sea...but I kept hearing friends mention this title, offering their own rave reviews, which led me to try it once more via audiobook.  Boom!  Such a difference!  Rainbow Rowell write great dialogue and there was just so much energy and life brought to these conversations when listened to that was somehow missing in the written word.  

I felt the same way about Maria Semple's Where'd You Go, Bernadette and Gabrielle Hamilton's cheffy memoir, Blood, Bones, & Butter, which I could not get into in paperbook, but have now listened to twice on audiobook.  

So moral of the story is, when in doubt, try the audiobook!

image via rainbowrowell

Quote of the Week

"I don't have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness - it's right in front of me if I'm paying attention and practicing gratitude."
Brené Brown


Skincare Spotlight: Brightening Facial Oil

If you’d told me a year and a half ago that I’d be putting oil on my face as a moisturizer, I’d have called you crazy. Having had combination oily skin as long as I can remember, I couldn’t even imagine adding oil to my already oily skin, citing it was a breakout waiting to happen.

Eventually, after reading all sorts of hype about facial oils, I caved and bought one, figuring what the hell, it can’t hurt. As it turned out, there were no breakouts, no zits, and hydration like you wouldn’t believe. Who knew? Certainly not me! 

Over time I tried a few different ones; jojoba oil, rose hip oil, a combination of argan + sea buckthorn oil...but it has been Beautycounter’s brightening facial oil that’s by far my favorite. It’s silky smooth, lightweight, and smells like fresh citrus and sunshine. A few drops go a loooong way. And it’s clean. Chemical and toxin free radiance via oil. Who knew? 

Summer Reading

Hello there!  What are you reading this summer?  As a faithful library-goer I have a looooong list of books in my queue, but as all library fans know, it's a crap shoot as to when your book will actually come in!  On my list there are some decent wait times but plenty of others where I'm like the 200th or even 1000th in line.  So, while I'm waiting around...I'd love hearing what you're reading this summer!

On my summer reading list:

The Female Persuasion by Meg Wollitzer (I enjoyed her other book, The Interestings)

+ Am American Marriage by Tayari Jones

+ The Summer Wives by Beatriz Williams
+ The Boat People by Sharon Bala

+ The Ensemble by Aja Gabel

And here's a few I've recently read and enjoyed.  

+ The Queen of Hearts (reminiscent of Greys Anatomy)

+ Still Me (3rd in the Me Before You series)

+ Emergency Contact (YA novel)

What are you reading this summer? Please...do tell!!