hot or not

A few weeks ago a friend made some delicious kale chips which even my husband raved about – and to date he “doesn’t like kale”. Well, I guess it was more like he didn’t like when I made kale. So, I decided to peruse the website which these were made from, A Spicy Perspective. As I did this I became addicted and found about a dozen meals that I wanted to make for dinner right then and there.

Today, a friend introduced me to Popsugar, where I’ve been addicted to reading the latest and greatest on entertainment news, mom stuff, food, etc. I became addicted to this quickly too and downloaded the iPhone app.

So, this post is to do nothing more than rave and share these new favorite sites with you. But, after all look at some of these recipes from both sites and tell me you don’t want to go check out more?! Yup, I didn’t think you could… Now I have to run off and read all about Kate Middleton and the royal baby!

Quinoa Burrito Bites

Best Homemade Waffles - Yogurt Vanilla Bean Waffles #breakfast #waffles #giveaway

Yogurt & Vanilla Bean Waffles

One great, one not so great, product

Browsing through Sephora I decided to ask the rep about their more “natural” products as I knew I needed to replace my beloved Clinique Even Better Moisturizer (which I must say that I LOVE!) solely due to baby and my not being able to use the active ingredient. I have been using Coconut Oil, which is great for a moisturizer, but unfortunately if it gets near my mascara it makes it smudge too easily. So, the venture for a new lotion was started.

Call me skeptical, a pain in the butt, whatever you want but I grabbed a few samples based on the rep’s advice and then researched them. The one I ended up thinking would be the best to try was Caudalie Vinosource Moisturizing Mattifying Fluid:

Caudalie - Vinosource Moisturizing Matifying Fluid -  Grape water, Flax powder & Grape-seed polyphenols

This stuff uses Organic Grape Water…which apparently is filtered rain water which then goes through the grape plant. It supposedly decreases skin sensitivity and improves hydration. I don’t know if this is true, nor do I really care, because the lotion is great. It’s not a heavy winter moisturizer at all but it’s great for skin that is a little dry or tight but not flaking or cracking. I haven’t broken out at all, I don’t get shiny and it smells great and spreads super easy like water (go figure). I typically use this during the day, then the coconut oil at night (if needed).

On the flip side, I found one product that I will recommend you stay away from if you use makeup. Avalon Organics Vitamin C Renewal Cleansing Milk seemed like a great idea. It’s a milk, which is usually more moisturizing, it smelled fantastic (I have a thing for citrus smells!) and it was organic and inexpensive.

I will start by saying this is gentle, smells great and does leave your skin more moisturized than a lot of cleansers I’ve used. But, this doesn’t take off makeup very well at all. Each night I end up with raccoon eyes and I get my towel marked with mascara and then need a tissue to wipe the circles off of my face. Product fail. Maybe that’s the trade off for it’s benefits but I’ll finish this up as a morning cleanser in the shower and will continue on my search for a new cleanser…after I scold Target for discontinuing to carry my favorite facial wash. And fantastik. The nerve…

 

Winter style blues

In the last 7 months of pregnancy I’ve missed a few things – sushi, wine and shopping. But, I think most of all, shopping and fashion. Yes, maternity clothes have come a long way and can be cute but lets admit it, the variety will never rival my pre-prego closet. And while I’ve tried to fulfill my desire to shop with updating costume jewelry, handbags and shoes, it’s just not the same.

If you follow me on Pinterest you may be aware, I haven’t pinned anything maternity, but I have plugged on pinning clothes for post baby :) Yes, some may not be realistic right away but here are some of my favorite style pins from the past few months.

I can’t wait to get back into real clothes! I also can’t wait to get into a bathing suite – yes, bathing suit. Although this summer I think I may opt for a one-piece!

heather, mint, gold

cozy day inside

Jeans & Lace

winter

comfy  cute...over leggings with boots

so pretty

Adorable black lace swimsuit

 

Checklist Challenge Recap and lessons learned

Finding time to do the items on a ‘to do’ list can be a challenge in it’s own. The list I set out to accomplish earlier last year has had it’s up’s and down’s. Here’s a recap on the projects, the progress made, challenges encountered and most importantly…lessons learned for the pending 2014 list!

List of success!

1. Make a shower curtain to fit my very odd sized shower.

This fell to the bottom of my list as the bathroom wasn’t painted and I lost those pesky sewing machine instructions. I eventually ended up making this and it was quite easy! Accomplishing this did require me to take a day out of work, but it was worth it. I felt like I not only accomplished something, but also learned!! Now you’re probably asking what I could have learned from making a shower curtain? I learned to plan a project every other month that required the sewing machine. This will eliminate the stupid mistakes and reduce my project frustration!

2. Paint the master suite. All of it – bedroom, walk in closer/sewing room, bathroom and hallway.

Yeha, we went from yellow sponge paint and a pinkish brown wall to a serene gray palate. I was worried that gray was going to be blah, but I learned to accessorize for color, which conveniently is a very easy and cheap change to make when I get off of my aqua whim and move onto something else…

5. Make a beautiful twist/braided pearl necklace for summer.

OK, I did this but I didn’t realize how hard it was going to be. I thought you threaded a few strands, attached those to the clasp and poof, necklace! This required measuring strands for the beads, determining how many beads were needed for each strand based on the mm size of the bead, and then getting my husband to help me do the “twist” part to put it all together. In the end, I didn’t any $ and definitely did not save any time!

6. Read more blogs, a newspaper or watch the news for at least an hour during the week and an hour on the weekends.

Ding ding ding, I accomplished this one! Making a conscious effort to get home earlier I get to turn the news on. I have discovered that the news repeats over and over and over again though. Boring. But thanks for all my fellow bloggers, I’ve had a delightful time reading blogs this year!

7. Building myself a shoe closet.

My husband bought a saw and I came home to a shoe closet ! Yes, it still needs to be painted but at least I’ve got shelves!

9. Create some sort of a picture or piece of wall art for the dining room.

Hm, we didn’t do this but we did get a huge Dell’s Lemonade canvas for the kitchen. That wasn’t anticipated but extremely needed so I’m going to allow for the swap :) Plus, my in-laws bought us a pretty cool fish sculpture so that filled the need!

10. Create a “regular post” of something.

I did this with my bedroom makeover but unfortunately the challenge I picked I found not to work at all. I did learn that I just need to plan out my projects and spend some time at home to accomplish them. Home sweet home!

List of ‘I didn’t do so well’:

3. Make a piece of clothing for myself.

Well, this didn’t happen. I did hem/fix a bunch of clothes that I already own though, so now I can actually wear them. Maybe in 2014 I’ll aim to make something for baby!

4. Gut and design a new half bath/laundry area.

Designed yes, started the project, no. I realized that projects involve a lot of think ahead planning and coordination! I never realized you had to order sinks and toilets 6-8 weeks before the contractor needed them! But… item’s are ordered and on their way, so that’s a plus!

8. Make pillows for the living room.

Um, no. I actually found some really cool ones at Home Goods so I’m crossing this off the list!

11. Make curtains for the living room.

OK we haven’t gotten to the living room yet. It needs paint first, but my husband insists this is after the baby’s room is done so we’re looking at late 2014, hah!

12. Make curtains for the office.

See #11.

13. Redo the guest room.

In progress. As I learned with the bedroom makeover, plan plan plan. Step 1: Convince hubby as to what needs to go to the donation center! (done). Step 2: Somehow convince husband to paint the room when he paints the baby’s room. Hm…

so my biggest takeaway from 2013 is to make realistic projects and plans, plans, plans! Also, take more pictures and be better at posting updates. Maybe the posting of 2013 projects will be a 2015 goal!

A whole new batch of January product reviews!

Why is it that you always want what you can’t have? These past few months have been interesting. Being a first time mommy-to-be but no one else knowing, it’s been hard to switch products or try new products without letting on. It’s also been interesting trying to find ‘healthy’ product options and giving up tried, true and oh so loved products that I’ve used for years! But, I will admit sometime nature needs to take a backseat for happiness…so not all these are ‘healthy’!

Maybelline Soft and Full Waterproof Mascara

This past Thanksgiving, I found myself laying down at my in-laws thinking of my pending trip to the Bahamas. At that moment I realized I didn’t have waterproof mascara thanks to the failure of a ‘waterproof’ mascara I tried when I went to St. Lucia. So, I began googling. I then began pulling up website recommendations on Amazon to read buyer reviews. I settled on a few, depending on what Target had in stock. I bought the Maybelline Soft and Full Waterproof Mascara.

Having used the regular version of this in the past, I knew I liked the product just didn’t love it. But as long as it was waterproof and I wouldn’t look tired on my entire vacation, I was game. I bought it the next day. Fast forward a few days and I was in the Bahamas, contemplating if I should wear it on a snorkel/swim catamaran trip. I tried it on, washed my face, rubbed my eyes. So far so good. I decided to try it, but tell my husband he had to tell me if I looked like raccoon eyes! I put on oil free sunscreen, swam, rubbed my eyes, etc. It never budged. In fact, the only time I had mini-raccoon eyes was after washing it off with soap, which a second application of soap fixed. Verdict? Great buy!

Price: $5-8 depending on store

Look: Mainly darkening. It didn’t add much length but with the fat brush it did reach all of my lashes! I only found this in Black, but I didn’t find it to be harsh.

Performance: Really good. Lasted through swimming, needed a double soap application to remove. Left lashes soft.

Overall: I will use this as my summertime mascara when going to the beach.

Palmers Body Butter

After I told people I was expecting, I received a lot of comments about stretch marks. Now, I’ve read that they’re hereditary so no cream will really save you but I a) didn’t want to take a chance and b) was experiencing the New England beginning of winter itchy, dry and tight skin. So, I bought the butter. I slather this stuff on like it’s going out of style, but it lasts a long time.

Price: $6 for the 3.5oz jar

Feel: In the jar, this is tough to get out…especially the first ‘scoop’. It’s a solid (not a cream) and very thick. It requires you to scoop some into your hands and then rub your hands to melt it. Once on your body it creates a very silky, almost oily look. It’s smooth as butta ;)

Performance: Works so well to keep your skin hydrated. I could get away with applying once a day, but I love it too much that I do morning and evening. Instantly your skin feels hydrated and soft, even if before you applied the butter it felt like alligator skin. If I could I would melt this and take a bath in it. Seriously.

Overall: Love it for a moisturizing agent, not just for pregnancy. It does smell like a burnt coconut which I have a love/hate relationship with (love coconuts, hate burnt) but it works so well and the scent isn’t overpowering that I just don’t care. I’ll buy this again and again…especially now that they have a paraben free one (works just as well, I have that too)!

Shea Moisture Body Wash: Olive & Green Tea

Price: $8.99 for the 13oz size at Target

Consistency: A liquidy gel and yes, it really is a green/yellow color, very similar to olive oil color!

Performance: This stuff suds up like a kids bubble bath! I drizzle it over my body pouf similar to how they drizzle caramel sauce on top of my Starbucks latte and it’s plenty for a shower! It’s very light feeling and the suds wash off very easily. It really does seem to be hydrating though, which I noticed after using a while that one of the first ingredients is coconut related – and you may know how I back coconuts!

Smell: This is a very mild smelling product. It doesn’t smell like olive, green tea or avocados, it actually doesn’t have much of a smell at all. This is the only dislike I really have for the product as I really love a great fresh smell in the morning.

Overall: Really good product. It’s natural (woohoo!) and works really well from lathering to cleaning/hydrating and it’s cheaper than many other natural products. I wish the smell was a little more fresh (maybe more green tea?) but in no way shape or form will that keep me from buying another bottle! It will replace my Cetaphil bar (sorry Cetaphil, I loved you as a winter soap for a couple years but this is natural!).

Maybelline: Color show #300 (Fuchsia Fever)
Price: $4.29 from CVS
Color: The color in the bottle is great. It looks glossy and is a bright purple. I was excited to try this as a fall/winter/early spring color.
Performance: Awful. I didn’t expect a flat color. I want to know where the shine went as soon as I put it on my nails?! Also, the color isn’t incredibly thick so it takes a couple of coats. I would have been OK with the extra coats if there was a shine to the product.
Misc: This is formaldehyde, DBP and Toluene free.

Overall: Extremely disappointed. I haven’t used this again and won’t buy another in any other colors. While I love that it’s formaldehyde, dbp and toluene free I can’t get past the horrible lack of a sheen in the finish or the fact that it was so thin.

NOW…I know I already did a post on Coconut Oil, BUT, I keep falling in love with this product more and more so I have to mention it again.

I’m truly amazed by this product. Yes, it started as a search for a facial moisturizer but it quickly amounted to more. The hydrating powers of this stuff is amazing, really. I got pneumonia a week or so ago and could barely stand up so a lot of things were pushed by the wayside. I continued to use the coconut oil on my face but that was all I could muster the energy for. Two days ago my hands were red and scaly, like a poor fish fin. I finally sucked it up enough to get to the bathroom and get the oil. One application overnight and no more redness. Another application this morning and boom, almost back to normal. I’ve also noticed (because there’s not much else to do when you lay in bed 24 hours a day) that my nails are in the best shape ever, including cuticles. My husband even comments on how soft my skin is… a first in the 6 years I’ve known him (and at my oldest!). I don’t understand the magic of this stuff but love it. And if you google it you can even read on WedMD or other websites the many different uses such as diaper rashes, for your hair, psoriasis, mouth cleanser, etc.

 

Coconut craze

About 6 months ago my investigation on coconut oil began. I read about it, figured it was too good to be true and passed it off. It wasn’t until December hit and my incredibly dry, itchy, cracking skin was driving me crazy. I would beg my husband to lotion my back immediately after exiting the shower but still I wanted to take a bath in lotion. But I was weary…being pregnant and not wanting to use my always relied on Cetaphil cream because of parabens and other nasty additives I started to research again. Coconut oil came up again. I dismissed it again.

Then baby decided to wreck havoc on my skin and I started breaking out like I did in college. I’d had enough. I researched and found a lotion designed for pregos but it was $28 for a small tube. I had it in the online shopping cart.

Then a light went on in my head…I own coconut oil, what’s the risk of trying it? Certainly not $28 and waiting a week for delivery. So, I tried it. I put it all over my face before going to bed that night. I fully expected to wake up in a rash. In fact I checked in the mirror when I got up in the middle of the night. So far, so good. But, wouldn’t the oil make my skin worse?

A couple days in my skin was so soft. Ok, so I Googled uses for coconut oil again. Stretch mark prevention. Hm, vs $10 a jar of belly butter? Ok I’ll try that too. Wait, dry skin on legs which made it unbearable to wear legings? Ok why not try that as well! I mean I have a whole jar! Actually, let me warn you, this is what it looks like, although it melts VERY easily!

Now…after trialing it for a couple weeks I decided to make the call. L. O. V. E. It’s been about a month and the only downside I’ve seen so far is that my skin shedded at one point. But I think it was balancing itself out and wasn’t worse than the dry flaking peeling of winter and at least the oil moisturizes it!

In the end I’m not greasy. I’m not dry. I not itchy or cracking. My face has cleared up, my lips no longer chapped and I barely ever use lotion during the day on my hands anymore. I don’t get how one natural oil has turned my body around like this. But I also don’t care how it works.

All I know is that it’s natural, smells good (ok like a Mounds bar!), works wonders and is relatively cheap! So I needed to let you all know but didn’t feel a product review would nearly do this justice. I can’t thank the girls on The Bump enough for mentioning and recommending coconut oil. Without you all I would be miserably crackling and looking like a teen!

Next up? I think I need some Coconut Sugar Scrub for the shower!

I previously raved about Tree Hut scrub and I have to admit that I DO love it so much…but I am intrigued by how easy DIY scrubs should be so now I need to make some. Plus, it would be a LOT cheaper and I do love a good deal!

Do you have any uses for Coconut Oil that you love and want to share?

 

my favorite things of 2013!

Instead of doing a December/January product review post I have decided to compile a listing of my favorite things that I have found during 2013. These are products or just ‘things’ that I do not want to live without, and may actually cry if I ever thought that I had to!

Let me just remind you…I don’t work for any of these products, I don’t get paid to try or endorse any, etc. I just like to buy and try products. And the fact that I go on kicks such as buying natural or being addicted to sephora’s website, well, it makes it easy but it’s also a problem. So these are the items that I fell in long-term love with and don’t feel the need to trial others because right now, I can’t imagine loving anything more!

1. Willa Foaming Facial Wash

This stuff is just purely awesome. It is already foamed when it comes out so it requires very little effort and takes off makeup without any trouble. It also smells wonderful. I was scared this would be a ‘teen’ product but have fallen in love with it. Thank you Target for carrying this product!

2. Benefit’s ‘They’re Real” Mascara

Benefit Cosmetics - They're Real! Mascara

Talk about fooling people that they’re real…but without the spidery look. I fell in love with this when I got the sample in my birthday pack from Sephora in February. I longed for the full size tube and ever since buying it, I’ve fallen even more in love with it. It’s nice to get compliments on your eyes even when you feel like you look like you just woke up from a hibernating bear’s nap…

3. Starbucks Iced Caramel Macciato, made with half the syrup

OK, this may be the biggest score of the year. This drink is absolutely addictive. It’s winter here in New England and I HATE the cold, but I still LOVE this and will still order it. I will bundle myself up in a down coat, scarf and mittens and be found drinking this!

4. Coconut Oil

spectrum organic coconut oil

My fellow bumpies had recommended this for trouble skin while pregnant. My alternatives were $25 bottles of lotions or try some coconut oil which I already had in my baking cabinet. Being hesitant I did some research and read that organic coconut oil is naturally antibacterial, antiviral, anti fungal, and antimicrobial. It can also be used as a natural diaper rash remedy and *many* other uses – just google it! So, I tried it figuring I didn’t have much to loose and I ended up loving it. It has made my skin so much better (baby to be, take that!) and while it’s oil it’s not greasy at all and doesn’t need to be applied multiple times a day. LOVE love love this!

5. KitchenAid – Ice cream attachment

Typically I just buy my splurge foods as trying to make them never turns out right. Except for this one. Home made ice cream. By far the best food I’ve made this year and will continue to make. So simple, so fresh, so good. If you have one of these, try the strawberry ice cream I just made (and devoured)!

6. Boscia BB Cream

I can’t believe I found a BB cream I actually like. I love the light coverage that hides imperfections. The minor shimmer it adds just makes me feel like peaches and cream… well, almost.
These may be my favorite vegetable. The grilled flavor along with the garlic and lime juice it’s just SO good. I could eat them for every meal. In fact, I’ve had multiple AS my meal!
8. Hunter Rain Boots
I never posted on these but am in LOVE with them. I actually enjoy the days where it pours outside and I get to wear them. I have to thank my wonderful hubby for buying them for me…along with the cozy socks that go inside of them! It’s nice to feel a little stylish pickup when it’s gray, wet and raw outside.
9. Clarisonic Mia

Clarisonic Mia Honestly, I thought that this was going to be the biggest crock of a product and I expected to have to return it. Shockingly, I really love this product and can’t even do without it for an overnight. I am actually so in love that I’m trying to get my husband to use it too. I’m still shocked that I like this so much. Also, if you’re considering purchasing, go with the Mia, you don’t really need the bells and whistles of the higher priced models!