Dryer Balls

Dryer sheets are designed to make your clothes feel soft.  But what you may not know is those chemical, whose sole function is to soften your clothes - those are called "asthmagens."  Ever heard of that word?  Yeah, I hadn't either.  Well, an asthmagen = a chemical that can cause asthma in otherwise healthy people... Let that sink in.  Asthma from dryer sheets.  Worth it?  Um...no.

Many of the chemicals in products like dryer sheets also have antibacterial properties (translation: not good) and many popular brands contain synthetic fragrances and/or cleaning agents called quats (quaternary ammonium compounds) - which have been linked to impacted fertility in mice (think longer time getting pregnant, fewer pups, and more miscarriages).  Super overwhelming and scary, right?  

Well - here's a relatively inexpensive solution - dryer balls!  Dryer balls are eco-friendly, typically crafted from felt or wool and improve tumble drying.  They help soften your clothes, reduce drying time, static, and wrinkling.  All without the harsh, questionable chemicals. I use these wool ones, they come in a pack of 6, and aside from getting temporarily lost in a fitted sheet, they've held up since I ordered them back in December 2016. Also, if you're replacing dryer sheets but missing that extra boost of fragrance in your clean laundry, try adding a drop or two of an essential oil right on the dryer balls (would recommend lavender or purification) for a clean, fresh scent. 

The more you know...


Dinner Last Night: Takeout Style Sesame Noodles with Cucumbers

We've had an abundance of cucumbers in our garden this summer.  A ton of cucumbers.  My husband has spent several nights in our hot, hot kitchen concocting batch after batch of pickles; some sweet, some bread-n-butter, some briny, some spicy...all of which are marinating in our fridge or filling up our pantry shelves, and still we have cucumbers.  

Time for a recipe that uses the word "cucumber" in the title. Thankfully, Deb of Smitten Kitchen always saves the day with takeout style sesame noodles with cucumbers.  And Deb, she's consistent, she has never let me down yet!  The recipe calls for thicker rice noodles, but I only had thin rice noodles on hand - which substituted just fine.  The sauce is kind of aaaaaamazing, it's like this peanutty, sesame-y, tahini-y blend of goodness.  I want to pour it on all my salads here on out.  Add a little chopped peanuts, cilantro, and allll the cucumbers, and we're in business.  I think our garden grown cucumbers were pretty stoked too, I mean really, how often do they get to be the star of the dinner show?! 


We just got back from a fun weekend of camping with friends, and are gearing up for a busy week!  Back to school is in the air?  Freshly sharpened bouquets of pencils anyone?  (Name that movie!).

+ currently obsessed with this audiobook...

+ ...and because i've become such a recent superfan, binging on her podcast

+ just finished reading this book, and started this one

+ diffusing these this oil for a calm, zen vibe

+ just discovered these snack bars (less sugar + more protein than kind bars + D/GF)

+ just started using this shampoo, it has a subtle ginger ale scent (sounds weird but smells nice)

+ just started watching this funny show, I'm digging it

+ loving this dress for my girl for back to school

How's your summer wrapping up?  Are you ready for back to school?


Quote of the Week

"As you create a home, don't get distracted with a lot of things that have no meaning for you or your family.  Don't dwell on your failures, but think of your successes.  Have joy in your home.  Have joy in your children.  Have joy in your husband.  Be grateful for the journey."
- Marjorie Pay Hinckley


Ditching Plastic Bags

 We're making small changes in our home as we transition away from using traditional plastic containers, saran-wrap, and ziploc bags. We already use glass tupperware for most of our leftovers; favorite brands include PyrexGlasslock, and Wean Green Cubes for smaller portions (ideal for salad dressings, hummus, and peanut butter).

But for the day to day items, like PB & J sandwiches, snacks on the go, sliced apples, you know the foods of everyday life, I've been appreciating Stasher bags, which are made of 100% food grade silicone, self-sealing, eco friendly, and plastic free. Plastics can leach dangerous chemicals and gasses into our food when subjected to heat.  Here's a great article on other sustainable alternatives to plastic bags.  Also consider that every plastic ziploc bag you've ever used still exists today.  It's out there...somewhere, whether in a landfill, or ocean, or garbage heap somewhere.  I find that fact kind of mind boggling.

It’ll be a gradual shift for us as it’s a financial undertaking to make all the changes, and if it's not within your immediate financial means to make the switch, don't fear.  Start small.  Start with glass.  Toss plastic tupperware unless they are pristine!  Meaning no scratches, etches, and definitely containers that have not been microwaved or subjected to hot food - that's where the leaching begins. Plastic #5 is considered the safest for storing food, and if you have other numbers in your plastic tupperware collection, it might be time to toss those as well.  Small steps make a big impact on the environment!

Cookbook Crush: Ready or Not! Nom Nom Paleo

The Ready or Not! Nom Nom Paleo cookbook has been in heavy rotation in our house lately as we've cut down on dairy and gluten consumption as a family.  The best part of this cookbook is it makes delicious healthy and flavorful paleo recipes quick and accessible.  I'm happy to report back the recipes we've tried thus far have been kid-approved while being delicious for the adults as well!  The format is also very user friendly, with step by step photographs of the food alongside the written instructions. Also appreciated are suggestions for how to modify or adapt a pressure cooker recipe to suit a slow cooker, that kind of thing.

Last week, I posted our success making bo la lot (betel leaf beef rolls).  We've also tried the Pressure Cooker Bo Ssam (a salty sweet caramelized Korean beef).  The recipe was inspired by David Chang's Momofuku version (I used the adapted instructions for a slow cooker since we don't have a pressure cooker) - it was divine!  I was sorely disappointed I didn't make enough for leftovers.  We've also made hobo stew, souvlaki, and XO pork with blistered green beans.  In addition to having about fifty more recipes bookmarked. 

If you've considered making some dietary changes but still like your familiar favorites - this cookbook is a great gateway into the land of Paleo/Whole 30.

Lavender Oil

Lavender oil is one of my favorites of all the oils. I have a hard time crowning one oil above the rest but I can confidently say it’s in the top 5. 

Lavender is soothing and anti inflammatory so it works for everything from sleep to bee stings, not to mention how great it smells! Add a few drops with epsom salts to a hot bath to transform your tub into a spa. Blends well with other oils when diffused (especially lemon, peppermint, and cedarwood). Roll on your feet before sleep for a peaceful slumber. It’s floral, fresh, clean, and calm. 💜 Want to try lavender for yourself? Click here for more info.

In Defense of Harry Potter

Are you a Harry Potter fan?  Before you abruptly stop reading, hear me out...

I feel like people seem to fall squarely into two camps with this topic.  Either you're 
A). Camp One: You love, love, love Harry Potter!  It's one of the most revolutionary book series of our time!  It is brimming with powerful life lessons to educate our children with tales of hardship, exclusion, discrimination, friendship, belonging, and love.
B). Camp Two: Nope.  Never read it.  Not really my thing.  

(Insert audible sigh here).  I am definitely in Camp One.  I adore this literary series for so many reasons, many of which can be explained far more eloquently by other writers I admire, such as Tsh Oxenreider and Kelle Hampton.  However, ultimately, I just believe it's a literary rite of passage and experience that I want my children to have, and ideally one we can share as a family.

Long story short, my husband fell into camp 2.  Where I am a voracious reader, he prefers to absorb content via podcasts or online, with a few sporadic books and magazines thrown in for good measure.  A few months ago I propositioned the idea of him reading Book One, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - just to try it!  Perhaps this was selfish of me, but I really want our kids to read and experience the magic of Harry Potter someday, and feel it would be useful for him to learn the language, terminology, and jargon specific to the series.  He begrudgingly complied and lo and behold, ended up devouring book one!!   From there he went on to finish (and enjoy) all seven books in six months!  Am I proud?  You bet I am!   I took a non-believer, reading skeptic, and converted him to a Harry Potter enthusiast.  We have since watched all eight subsequent movies on HBO to expand upon the experience.  If that's not a testament to the power of J.K. Rowling, I don't know what is!

And truth be told, if I'm going off genres of books I typically gravitate toward, Harry Potter is definitely an outlier.  Prior to reading the series, I had never read any fantasy fiction or stories concerning wizards, dragons, magic, and the like.  And aside from The Twilight Saga, I've really never ventured into this genre again since Harry Potter.  

While I finished reading the series long ago, I've enjoyed re-listening to them via audiobook. The narrator throughout all seven books, Jim Dale is phenomenal!  He is a brilliant performer, and is truly able to emulate the essence of each character's distinct voice and personality through his reading.  It was almost as good as reading it for the first time.  If reading a tactile book is not your thing, I highly recommend listening to the series.  These books can be pretty pricy but they're available via downloadable audiobook or audiobook CD at your local library.  Also available on audible.com (first book is free), and if you become a member, you can download each subsequent book, one per month for the $14.95 monthly membership fee (instead of the $35+ original price). {FYI - This post is not sponsored in any way, just want to give you any insider advice I can to save some $$}
And if you're really a true HP fan, you ought to check out the Ringer's Binge Mode Harry Potter podcast, where super fans Mallory Rubin and Jason Concepcion do a deep dive into the themes, character development, motivations, and undercurrents of all seven books, chapter by chapter, starting with book one.  This is not a G rated podcast, there is ample swearing, inappropriate but hilarious fodder, and spoilers everywhere, so please make sure you've already completed the series before listening.

Alright, enough about Harry Potter for one day.  If I've somehow managed to sway you just an inch toward to "perhaps I'll ready this someday" camp, I consider that a small victory.

Quote of the Week

"Travel makes one modest.  You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world."
~ Gustav Flaubert


Saturday Snooze

What are you up to this weekend?  My mother in law is in town, so we're staying in town, running errands, riding bikes, and just enjoying the warmth and loveliness of August.  

+ these sandwiches look positively scrumptious

+ great podcasts to listen to in the car with kids

+ is it really the end of summer?!  Oh well, here's 10 delicious end of summer salads to make (she has the best ideas!)

+ love the look and color of this casual day dress

+ love the design and color palette of this guest room

+ another itinerary I want to replicate verbatim

+ if you have a dairy sensitivity/intolerance, have you tried grass-fed dairy?  it's working for me!

+ or just skip the dairy altogether with a delish dairy-free mango ice cream, yum!

+ do you follow along on my instagram account yet?  If not, please do!

have a good one!

Dinner Last Night: Bo La Lot

I've been trying to expand our dinner rotation to incorporate more meals that utilize the barbecue or stove rather than the oven with our warm temperatures.  While I've had the book, Nom Nom Paleo for a while now, I haven't made too many things from it.  However, these bo la lot (beef + bacon wrapped in leaves) were delish!  I attempted to get betel leaves to make this the traditional way.  The cookbook suggested most Asian grocery stores will carry them, but I had no luck at my local Uwajimaya.  I substituted with swiss chard leaves which did not roll as neatly as this picture above, but still tasted delicious.

And while I thought my kids would be skeptical consuming these rolls, they were all about it once I mentioned, "Oh yeah, there's bacon in there!"  Bacon for the win!

Bo La Lot adapted from Ready or Not! Nom Nom Paleo


1 lb ground beef
3 slices bacon, finely chopped
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 tbsp shallots, finely chopped
2 tsp. curry powder
2 tsp. fish sauce
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. arrowroot powder
10-15 fresh swiss chard leaves (betel leaves preferred if you can find them)
1 tbsp. avocado oil

1/4 cup avocado oil
juice from 1 lime

1. In large bowl, combine beef, bacon, garlic, shallots, curry powder, fish sauce, pepper, salt, and arrowroot powder.
2. Mix well with hands.
3. Cut stems off of swiss chard leaves and pat dry.
4. Form a heaping tablespoon of meat mixture into a cylindrical shape.  Roll the top of the leaf over the meat filling, and continue rolling until you get to stem end.
5. Poke a hole in the roll with a toothpick and insert stem into hole to fasten. (Doesn't work as well with swiss chard leaves, but putting roll on skewer helped solve this problem).
6. Repeat steps 3-5 for each roll.  Skewer rolls on a metal skewer, leaving some space in between.
7. Brush 1 tablespoon of avocado oil over tops of rolls.
8. Cook on barbecue over medium heat for 10+ minutes.  Check rolls are done and serve.

Skincare Spotlight: Rejuvenating Eye Cream

You guys, this eye cream has got me all 🙌! Part of the Beautycounter rejuvenating line, a.k.a anti-aging line, it’s formulated with all kinds of botanical goodness, including wild algae and caffeine. A little dab goes a looooooong way to diminish fine lines, soften wrinkles, and reduce puffiness. If you don’t need that, I bow down to you! 😘

The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society

Did any of you read this book, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society way back in 2009?  Long, cumbersome name, but a delightful, moving read.  Well, turns out, Netflix made an original film out of it, and we watched last night and enjoyed immensely!  Has a lovely, charming cast, including my favorite, Matthew Goode.  Here's the trailer.
What do you think?  Will you watch it?  I highly recommend!  

Dinner Last Night: Turkish Lamb Flatbread

Tried a new recipe from a delightful new cookbook, Tasting Paris by Clotilde Dusoulier, and it was delicious.  Turkish lamb flatbreads, complete with homemade flatbread. And yes, I actually had the wherewithal to plan ahead early Sunday to make the flatbreads in order to have them ready for dinner!  This is no small feat in our house - typically it gets to 5 PM and I realize...oh...I forgot to make the dough...

Wish I had a direct link to the recipe but it was a library book so it's already been returned.  Check out Clotilde Dusoulier's beautiful cookbook, if not for the recipes alone, for the glorious insider peek at Paris.

My Rewatchables

After binging on The Rewatchables, a podcast that rehashes and delights in favorite, rewatchable movies, I decided to make my own rewatchables list.  
First up, It's Complicated.  This is easily one of my favorite movies.  I can rewatch it over and over again and never get bored!  I tend to enjoy Nancy Meyers movies, both for their architectural and interior design splendor as well as their comedic timing and romance.  Meryl Streep's house and bakery in It's Complicated are swoonworthy.  But the real gem is the cast; Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin, Steve Martin, John Krasinski, this movie is entertaining, delightful, and good for a laugh.  It never gets old!  

I Love You, Man is another favorite rewatchable.  Paul Rudd is always a good time in movies, as is Jason Segel.  These two together are so hilarious. Paul Rudd's comedic timing is on point as he awkwardly navigates the world of making platonic male friends.  Some of his comments and one liners...I still find myself laughing out loud to some of the lines from this movie, even after watching it again and again. 
Even though they don't share a scene, Meryl Streep and Amy Adams shine in Julie and Julia - another rewatchable favorite.  I read the book upon which the movie is based and it seemed scattered, and kind of all over the place.  The movie however, seamlessly volleys back and forth between the life of Julia Child and the life of Julie Powell, one woman's infatuation with all that comes with the culinary traditions of Julia Child's most beloved cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  There are some witty supporting characters; Chris Messina, Stanley Tucci, Jane Lynch, and Mary Lynn Rajskub.  All in all, a feel good film that's comforting to return to.
Crazy Stupid Love.  This movie - again, all the laughs.  The cast, the scenes, so many funny moments!  The suave, uber confident Ryan Gosling taking sad, broken-hearted Steve Carrell under his wing. Marisa Tomei as the prowling for affection bar pick up (who also happens to be Steve Carrell's son's English teacher).  The Dirty Dancing "lift" remake scene with Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling.  The babysitter refusing to take Julianne Moore's "slutty money." The comical, almost slapstick man-fight at the end as all of the information surrounding everyone's entanglement comes to light.  The only caveat in this movie is Julianne Moore, I feel like everyone else's casting is pitch perfect, and she's just...okay.  All in all, a bit corny, but definitely rewatchable.
Father of the Bride, probably my favorite movie since it's 1991 debut.  I can quote pretty much the entire movie, much to the chagrin of whoever is watching with me.  It is just such a classic!  Dad, I met a man in Rome, and he's wonderful, and brilliant, and we're getting married!  Steve Martin, Diane Keaton, Kimberly Williams, they're all in their prime in this movie, and work so well together.  I even picked my father-daughter dance song for my wedding based off of this movie, The Temptations' My Girl which is the backdrop for the memorable father-daughter one-on-one basketball scene.  

These are just a few of my favorites.  I could go on and on...  I have many, many more, as I am very much a movie-rewatcher.  What are your rewatchables?

Quote of the Week

“Give me health for a long time, not too much work, love from time to time but champagne all of the time.”
~“Morning Prayers” rough translation, on building in Hautvillers, France


Skincare Spotlight: My Daily Face Makeup

This picture encapsulates my daily face makeup routine. I wear these 3 products pretty much everyday.  

What are they, you ask?.
+ Dew Skin (shade #2): Dew skin is a lightly tinted moisturizer with 20 SPF.  It's hydrating and goes on smooth using a blending sponge or in a pinch, your fingers.  It's light enough that you can see freckles beneath it, but helps provide an even finish to minimize pores and create a smoother, dewy glow.  

+ Concealer Touch Up Pen (shade: light): I love this buildable, medium-coverage concealer.  It helps camouflage blemishes and dark spots, and blends evenly into the dew skin. It's a click-pen design, so you only click for as much coverage as you need.

+ Mattifying Powder: This is a loose, colorless powder that seals your look, absorbing shine and providing a smooth matte finish.  And the best part - it lasts all day long.
Most days our routine includes pre-school drop off and pickup, a playdate or two, and afternoon activities.  No need for a lot of makeup so this look is perfect!  You'll usually find me with a few other touches including eyebrow pencil, blush, and mascara, but I feel ready for the day with these three staples on my face. 

Want to try? Today’s the last day for 20% off. Use promo code LOVE at checkout and shop my link.  Spread the word, safe skincare for everyone!

20% Off Beautycounter

Big news, big news, HUGE! (Slightly edited, but name that movie).... 

Beautycounter is offering 20% off site-wide using the promo code LOVE at checkout.  Friends, this kind of sale does not happen often. 20% off goes through August 13th- but be aware, it is likely that products will sell out, so if you're interested, I suggest you act fast!

My recommendations? For skincare- the cleansing balm, charcoal bar, charcoal facial mask, countermatch serum, brightening facial oil, and rejuvenating eye cream. For makeup, I like the dew skin, mattifying powder, concealer pen, classic eye shadow palette, lip sheer in orchid, and peony lip gloss. And FYI- only items NOT included in this promo are the overnight resurfacing peel, sunscreen, and full skincare sets. 

Cheers to clean skincare and makeup at a discount! 


Snacking Last Night: Powerballs

Was going to title this weeknight baking, but there is no baking involved!  As I've made some changes to my diet, I've struggled to find satisfying snacks that aren't full of junk.  I recently tried these powerballs at a friend's house and loved the flavor and satiety they provided.

We made ours in the standing Kitchenaid mixer, as suggested, which yielded pliable dough within seconds.  Mine were a little on the dry side, so I added extra honey and coconut oil to help meld it all together.  Also added cacao nibs and a scoop of banana protein powder for some extra oomph.  It suggests you pop in the fridge, but we prefer the texture after they've been in the freezer, so that's an option as well.

Happy snacking!

Quote of the Week

Saturday Snooze

Happy Friday everyone!  What are you up to?  We're in for a lazy weekend around home, possibly seeing the Blue Angels which are in town for Seattle's annual Seafair.  And I'm excited for a little mom-time with a massage this weekend, woohoo!!!  Have a good one!

+ underestimating the power of gratitude (see, thank you notes are important)

+ fancy a trip to Puglia?  this recap of Matera looks amazing!

+ motherhood in the age of fear

+ the Ringer compiled a list of the 100 best TV episodes on the century (#1 is from my favorite, LOST, and an excellent episode it is!)

+ ever wanted to treasure hunt for real?  this man buried a legit treasure chest in the Rocky Mountains containing rubies, emeralds, gold, and other valuables. thus far, it's never been found!

+ have you been reading about Nia Wilson?  read this.

+ wanting to try this salad

+ this salad also looks kind of amazing


What's In Your Nail Polish?

Before diving into the world of clean products, I never gave my nail polish a second thought.  Aside from the obvious chemical smell, I hadn't considered what ingredients might be lurking inside.  Turns out, they're not great.

Many toxic chemicals are frequently found in nail polish.  The top offending ingredients can include formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, DBP, parabens, camphor, toluene, lead, among others... Yikes! And of course, my go-to Target brand, Essie, tops the list, in addition to Maybelline, OPI, Cover Girl, Orly, Revlon, Sally Hansen, Sephora, Ulta, and Wet n Wild.

Pictured above is the beginning of my clean nail polish collection!  So far, I only have four bottles; three colors and one clear top coat, but I take comfort in knowing that these are 5-free (meaning free of formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, toluene, DBP, and camphor).   Zoya is a reputable brand which I honestly picked simply because it's at the same price point as Essie (approximately $10 per bottle), and it's available on amazon.  The colors I have are Brynn, Aubrey, Elodie, and Armor Top coat (from left to right).

Other 5-free nail polish brands include Jamberry, Julep, and L'Oreal.  Even cleaner brands (absent of ethyl tosylamide and xylene) include Butter London ($15 per bottle) and Smith & Cult (from $18 per bottle).  I ended up not going with these purely based on price point as they're a bit more expensive.  

And stay tuned, coming soon...more info on clean nail polish removers!

Last Great Book I Read: Educated, A Memoir

WOW, this book...  It's hard to conjure up words worthy to describe its power.  I tend to love the memoir genre, and this memoir is compelling, gripping, and epic.  Truly, truly epic.  I listened to it via audiobook which I think made it an even more powerful experience.  Highly recommend!

Here's a little background about the author and her story.  Tara Westover grew up in rural Idaho, the youngest of a family of seven, born to survivalist Morman parents who constantly drilled the fear of the illuminati and impending end of the world into their children.  Tara was taught to fear the government, and distrust any medical establishment.  Until she was an adult, Tara never saw a doctor or nurse.  Born at home, her parents disagreed on her exact birth date, and she was never issued a birth certificate.  Isolated from mainstream society, Tara never received an education,having never attended any form of organized school.  Instead her days were spent salvaging metal in her father's junkyard, stewing herbs with her mother to make tinctures and essential oils, and fearing the wrath of her unpredictable and often aggressively violent older brother.

When another brother left to attend college and returned singing its praises, Tara decided to follow suit and leave the mountain and the only kind of life she'd ever known.  She self taught herself enough math, grammar, and science to take the ACT and be accepted into BYU. It was here that she first began to notice her own ignorance of the world, the ramifications of her isolated upbringing, soon learning that the version of history she'd been taught by her father looked nothing like that of her university textbooks.

This memoir is raw, vulnerable, and at times, quite difficult to read.  Tara spends her early adulthood learning how to exist in her new world of academia which is such a stark contrast to her life on the mountain.  She struggles to reconcile the lectures of her father, begins to understand his erratic behavior, and questions the values that have been ingrained into her as a child. Westover's coming of age story examines what an education is, and what it can offer someone, but also, at what cost?