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 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 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? 


Crazy Rich Asians

Have you read Crazy Rich Asians - the first in the popular trilogy by Kevin Kwan?  I devoured this book in a manner of days, and was delighted to see that it had already been made into a major motion picture!  And major it was - this was definitely a big budget film, no expenses spared! The cast, sets, cinematography, costumes, humor, everything was over the top, visually captivating, and did justice to book!  If you haven't, read the book first (of course, a must!) and then see the movie.  

The ending in the movie was a bit different than the book, but it seems intentional to set up for what will likely be the next movie in the series.  

Quote of the Week

"There is a moment, a cusp, when the sum of gathered experience is worn down by the details of living. We are never so wise as when we live in this moment" 
- Paul Kalanithi


Saturday Snooze

Happy September!! Is it really September already??  The summer just flew by!  You're probably in the back to school swing of things - or starting shortly.  Wishing you a happy and stress-free first weekend of September.

+ this recipe for homemade churros + caramel sauce....yuuuuuum!

+ dream trip: a week in france's loire valley. so dreamy!

+ been trying to avoid dairy, but might have to make a one-time exception for this recipe...

+ do you follow kendi everyday?  seen her new clothing company, everyday & co?

+ food for thought: what is better, rewards, punishments, or neither?

+ just started reading this book, have you read beatriz williams? I'm a fan of many of her other books

+ portland, maine is bon appetit's food city of the year, have you been?