An Uncomplicated Life Blog: 2018

Monday, March 19, 2018

Debunking Skincare Myths

Tracking Pixel

Playing the game "Two Truths and A Lie" to debunk some old skincare myths that will result in your healthier skin

This post is sponsored by Dove Beauty Bar. All opinions are my own.

Who's ever played the game Two Truths and A Lie? I remember growing up going to sleepovers at girlfriend's houses, and playing that game (and Truth or Dare!) until the wee hours of the morning. I feel for those parents who hosted us, as I'm sure we were shrieking with giggles and kept everyone awake all night long... I was a girly girl, and we'd pour over teen fashion and gossip magazines, talking about makeup and fashion and skincare. From the time I could shower independently, my mom always bought me Dove Beauty Bars. I'm not sure if she knew some of the science behind the product or if she also grew up with them or both. That said, today I'm debunking some skincare myths with that fun childhood game, two truths and a lie. Let's play!

Which one is the lie? Take a guess and I'll tell you near the end of this post so you can see if you were right!

1.      You should cleanse deeply and gently
2.      You have healthy skin when it feels soft, nourished and moisturized
3.      Extra scrubbing and washing is necessary for oily skin

Growing up, I had sensitive skin - I still do in fact. Additionally, I've passed it along to one of my kids. Dove Beauty Bar was the ONLY product I could use on my skin that wouldn't make me break out in a rash or get itchy. I remember learning this lesson the hard way when I took a shower at a friend’s house after swimming. The chlorine from the pool combined with the soap that their family used resulted in flaky, dry skin. I itched all day and was miserable! From that moment on, I followed in my mother's footsteps and only used Dove.

It's no wonder Dove Beauty Bar is the only thing my family's sensitive skin can tolerate - it's made with a quarter moisturizing cream which replenishes skin nutrients  lost during the cleansing process. That means the Dove Beauty Bar doesn't leave behind that tight, dry feeling that other soaps can, which can be a sign of dry skin damage. I know I for sure had that issue after swim lessons at my friend's house! And boy, was that uncomfortable. Here are some other fun facts about Dove Beauty Bar and your skincare:
  •         A recent Dove survey found that 86% of dermatologists report that the “squeaky clean” feeling means your skin might be stripped of the moisture and nutrients it needs
  •         Dove gently but effectively cleanses and is cleaner rinsing than soap, providing soft, smooth skin
  •         Dove Beauty Bar is sold at mass, food and drug retailers nationwide
  •         Dove Beauty Bar is the #1 Dermatologist recommended Bar andthe #1 Pediatrician recommended Bar

Now that I'm a parent myself and have clearly passed along my family's sensitive skin genes, I'll teach my boys to use Dove Beauty Bar, so that they can properly take care of the biggest organ in their body - their skin! Everyone deserves to have healthy, clean skin. And with the price point of Dove Beauty Bar, everyone can, because it's affordable and effective!

Ok, back to Two Truths and a Lie... Did you guess it right? Number 3 was a LIE: Cleansing your skin appropriately once or twice a day is enough to keep your skin healthy, no matter if its oily or not. Dove Beauty Bar creates healthy skin through the mild cleanser formula of DEFI and the signature ¼ moisturizing cream. I can tell you from experience, as a teen with acne prone skin, that over cleansing and over scrubbing did not help clear up my skin. In fact, it just made it even more irritated. Number 3 is definitely a big ol' skincare MYTH.

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Dove Beauty Bar.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Berry Cresent Roll Galettes

Pillsbury Cresent Rolls make these galettes extremely easy to make!

This post is sponsored by Pillsbury. All opinions are my own and this is my original recipe creation.

I've said it before and I will say it again: Baking is NOT my strong suit. Cooking? Yes, I'm happy in the kitchen all day but the exact science behind baking that requires me to actually measure out ingredients is simply maddening. Which is exactly why I take all the help I can get when it comes to baking! This berry Crescent Roll galette recipe combines the ease of a pre-made product with some fresh ingredients that results in an easy, incredibly tasty baked good.

If you're hosting an Easter brunch this year, this is the perfect recipe to serve alongside my ham, leek and potato frittata! It brings an element of sweet in to your menu - yet it's not too sweet because of the marscapone cheese. This is a great "party food" because you can eat it with your hands, standing up "cocktail" style, or with a fork and knife at a seated brunch. It takes about 30 minutes to make them, including the baking time, so you won't be stuck in the kitchen while your guests are enjoying the party. You can also make these the night before if you want to keep things super simple.

One of the biggest perks of living in Texas is access to FRESH fruit, year round. I remember the fruit in Minneapolis was... Rather sad in the winter months. If you're stuck dealing with less than ripe fruit, I've got two tips for you. 1) put your fruit in a brown paper bag in the counter top for a day or two until the fruit is ripened a tad more and 2) use an additional teaspoon of sugar in the marscapone cheese mixture to help sweeten up under-ripe berries.

Berry Crescent Roll Galettes

- 1 package Pillsbury™ Crescent Rolls (there's 8 in there, so feel free to double this recipe for a larger Easter party!)
- 2ox mascarpone cheese (half a 4oz container)
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 egg
- fresh berries of choice
- honey to drizzle on after baking

PRO TIP: If you've got an electric hand mixer, you're in good shape! If not (I sadly do not), let the marscapone cheese sit out on the counter to warm up a bit - I'd say for an hour to enable it to fully come up to room temperature. This will make it far easier to blend in the other ingredients.

In a mixing bowl, whip together the marscapone cheese, egg, sugar and vanilla. The mixture should be smooth and look like pudding. Pop open the crescent rolls and arrange the triangles out on your baking sheet. It's extremely important your baking sheet has a raised edge! The marscapone cheese will run out of the crescent roll galette, and you don't want to have to clean it off the bottom of your stove.

Put a small dollop of the marscapone cheese mixture in the center of the triangle of the cresent roll. Add your fresh berries. I used 3-4 raspberries and about 5-6 blueberries per galette. You want enough to show, but not bake out of the galette. Fold the two corners of the crescent roll over the cheese and berries. Bake at 350 for about 11 minutes, or until the galettes are golden brown.

Remove immediately to a cooling rack that has parchment or wax paper underneath it. Drizzle honey over the galettes while their still warm, allowing the honey to run off and get on the paper under the drying rack. That makes cleaning up the honey easy - simply toss the parchment or wax paper when you're ready to serve your berry crescent roll galettes. Enjoy!

easy baking recipe, Easter brunch recipe, cresent roll recipe, fresh fruit
Like it? Pin my Berry Crescent Roll Galette recipe!

Monday, March 12, 2018

Favorite Books I've Read In 2018

We're about to close out the first quarter of 2018, and I'm sharing the best books I've read so far this year

You know that weird phenomenon (that might be a strong word for it) that happens when you start to do something, or buy something, you notice everyone else is doing it or has bought it too? Like when I got my new car last spring, I had never noticed it on the road before. After I drove it off the lot, all I saw were Infiniti QX60's! They were everywhere. I think it's been proven (proven!) that it's more of you being aware of said thing, and not that more people are actually buying or doing it, and you being aware of it makes you notice it more... But anyway, one of my goals for 2018 was to read at least a book a month, and I've proudly exceeded that goal! The only reason that makes me proud is that it means I'm putting my phone down more, and turning the TV off at night earlier to get some quality reading time in before bed, and I think we can all agree that's a great thing. I've rounded up my favorite books that I've read so far in 2018 in case you're looking for your next book to read. *affiliate links used*

quick reads, entertaining books, easy books to read, adult fiction

If you're like me, this title is totally off-putting. Which is why I picked it up to read the back in the first place. The concept of the book is FASCINATING. It's historical, and written as journal entries from a fictional historical figure. History went one way, and this book was written as if history had gone the other, from the perspective of the historical figure. I love anything American history, especially on Westward Expansion and the Frontier AND from a woman's perceptive. The writing is merely ok, but the concept was so intriguing to me I finished this one in about two weeks! If you love social history, this one is for you.

PS - I just learned there's a sequel to this, and I'm totally ordering it!

This is all about what happens when a dysfunctional family gets together to vacation. Every character is relatable, and every family member has some real struggle they're trying to get through, and the family itself has collective issues it needs to work on. If you want a relatable story that will make you feel like your own family isn't as crazy (or, isn't as abnormal, they're probably still crazy), this is a great, quick read!

Four words best describe this book: Nail biting page turner. I think I finished it in a weekend. The movie, if you've watched it, does NOT do the book justice! Not even remotely close. It's a murder mystery, and layers are revealed as memories come back to the alcoholic main character. I like how this story isn't linear, but rather told in circles as those hazy, booze induced memories come back to the main character, and as the character narrating the book changes and we get different perspectives from different people. I think I finished this one back in 2017 but it's so good, I had to put it on this list. And if you're just getting into reading as a hobby, START HERE. Because you'll polish this one off pronto and ignite your love for reading again.

My father-in-law gifted this to me for Christmas a year or two ago. Which is somewhat hysterical because there are several pornographic scenes, one of which is at the outset of the book! I'm sure he wasn't aware of that. Anyway, sex scenes aside, this is another great murder mystery. It wasn't as face paced as The Girl on the Train for me, but the plot twists kept the pages turning. Fair warning, if raunchy sex scenes make you uncomfortable, don't read this one! I was shocked at the first one I read, then just knew it was a part of the storytelling and got used to it.

This is the third book by Liane Moriarty I've read. Honestly, Big Little Lies was my favorite (and the HBO series, in my opinion, absolutely did the book justice - and the second season is coming out soon!). Her books all start out rather the same: With the revelation that something big has happened, suspense leading up to what that big thing is, and the drama that happens before and after said big thing. This book is no exception to her writing style and her book writing formula. It's well written, it's relatable, it's entertaining, and the suspense draws you in right away.

If you're looking for some entertaining reads, this is a great list of my favorite books I've read so far in 2018. I've got something for everyone on here: Family drama and recovery, historical heroines, sexy murder mysteries, drunken murder mysteries, and a a good general life and relationships mystery. Put one (or all!) of these on your "to read" list this year!

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Mindful Shopping

In a world where we have 50 different options of any one thing, be mindful about the way you shop!

Mindfulness, intentional living, being present - all super trendy buzzwords right now, right? The thing that cracks me up about that is that these concepts are anything but new. In fact, they embody modern folks attempting to get back to a simpler time; their roots; a calmer space. I love that people are realizing this and taking action! A great place to start the mindfulness process is during the shopping process. In this case, I'm talking grocery shopping. What you put into your body on a daily basis directly impacts your overall health as well as the health of the environment. Choosing items that are local, organic and grassfed are great keywords to look for when shopping mindfully.

I remember the day I got committed to eating locally, organically and/or grassfed (in the case of animal products). I had just finished my yoga teacher training, and had completed a daily journal of what I ate and how it made me feel, both immediately and several hours later. It turned out, eating organically had a huge impact on how I felt afterwards! In terms of immediately, the first thing I wrote in my journals was the TASTE. These items simply taste better.

One of the biggest - as in, shockingly different! - areas of taste difference was grassfed beef. In Minneapolis, I rarely ever bought beef because I just didn't care for it. After moving to Texas, where a good portion of the U.S's beef is raised, and after discovering the "grassfed" secret, it's absolutely my favorite meat. Now, I'm mostly vegetarian and I eat this way to reduce my environmental impact. But I joke with my friends that I'm a vegetarian who eats beef a handful of times a month because grassfed beef, especially locally raised here in Texas, is just so dang tasty. The difference between grass and grain fed is truly astounding.

The same goes with dairy, which isn't a surprise since it comes from a cow. Grassfed dairy has a different flavor all it's own. It's like eating you've been eating food all your life, and one day you're introduced to salt, and you're like, "What is this magical substance that just made all my food taste 100 times better?!" That's the difference between grass and grain fed dairy products: Night and day.

There are two big objections I hear regularly when I mention mindful shopping. First, is that organic is a bunch of bologna because everything is made up of chemicals and chemical compounds so it's all the same. It's true everything is made up of chemicals (we're all comprised of the periodic table!) but the way in which those chemicals form (naturally, man made, etc) have different outcomes. One of those outcomes is in the taste of the product. Want tastier food? Try organic!

The other is the cost. I always say, sure - I may spend slightly more on groceries now. But I'll save more on my medical bills later by eating healthily! Plus, I've got an Ibotta offer for you to get cash back on grassfed Horizon Organic milk, which is totally affordable at Walmart. Yes, Walmart offers affordable organic options! I challenge you to a taste test: Buy your regular milk and use this Ibotta offer to get some Horizon grassfed milk. Try them back to back. Send me an email if you don't immediately notice the taste difference!

While local, organic, mindfulness, and being present are all big buzzwords right now, they all point to a return to our simpler roots. Less technology, more togetherness. Fewer chemicals, a return to traditional farming practices. Less artificial, more taste. Practice your mindful shopping by picking up some Horizon Organic grassfed milk! Take my taste test challenge and experience the difference yourself.

Monday, March 5, 2018

What's Shifted In Blogging

Blogging has come a long way in the nearly four years since I began. It's not the same. I'm breaking down the big blogging shift that's happened in the past few years

It's so odd to me that I can start feeling a particular way about something and feel like it's "just me", that I'm on some proverbial island of thoughts and feelings, all alone. Then when I open up to friends or family about what I'm thinking and feeling, it turns out everyone (ok, or just most) looks at me like, hey! I was thinking the same thing! I feel the exact same way about that, and thought I was the only one! Recently, blogging has been "that thing" for me, where I was feeling a particular way about it and about how the year is shaping up, thinking I was alone on "Paige Island" about it but when I opened up to some blogging friends of mine, it turns out we're all on the same page (pun intended). I'll open up a little bit about those thoughts and feelings, but I really want to focus on what's shifted and how that effects all blogs and bloggers - and the readers and followers of those blogs.

blogging has changed in 2018. Here's how to be a great blogger despite the monetization shift

I remember when I decided to be a "stay at home mom" with Henry. I thought, oh my gosh, I HAVE to have *something* to do besides kid stuff all day! I need a creative outlet. I want to keep my resume relevant in case one day I decide to go back to work for someone else. I had written a few articles for other blogs but had always wanted to start my own and do my own thing. So I did. My first week "home" from work, I started working on creating this blog. I didn't read any how-to articles (sure wish I had!), I wasn't tech savvy, I just jumped in and started DOING it. I was a writer by trade and a marketer by profession. I picked up photography along the way. I learned how to make a decent pin for Pinterest. I still outsource technology because have you ever seen HTML coding? Holy moly...

It was fun! I wrote about whatever I wanted. Mostly fitness, organic food, DIY and crafts, baby/pregnancy and random thoughts I had. Basically, the same kinds of content you see here now, with far crappier photos and no - I mean ZERO - SEO abilities. I learned what a keyword was, I learned to incorporate more photos into my posts, then I got signed up with public relations companies, and I started to earn a living blogging. "This is the best job everrrrrrr!" I thought.

Somewhere in late 2015, Instagram became the "it" girl of blogging. Some bloggers completely ditched their blogs all together to focus on their Instagram feeds, making thousands of dollars off affiliate sales from schleping the clothes they were wearing in their perfectly staged photos. And hey, good for them! But it became THE thing you had to be good at to be a monetized blogger. If you didn't have a "k" after your follower amount (meaning, 10k, 20k, more more more followers) brands didn't want to work with you. They specifically started looking for influencers with 10k-100k followers because some market research company said that was the sweet spot for the biggest influence.

One of the candid shots on my Instagram feed

Instagram became a game. Your feed had to be consistent in color, but it had to have a variety of angles and patterns. White bright light everything became the norm. Staging everything became the norm. Then not only was it on Instagram, it was on blogs too. "How to host the perfect tailgate party!" would be a blog post title, filled with pictures of a catered (likely professionally) party, balloons, party favors, perfectly dressed bloggers and their perfectly dressed kids in their perfectly white house. Suddenly this perfection was on Instagram infiltrated blogs, it polluted Facebook feeds, you couldn't find a non-perfect pin. 

Here's the thing: Real people don't live like that. Sure, those balloons make a cute photo, but who the hell goes and spends $150 on balloons for an effing TAILGATING party?! Yeah, nobody, that's who. Unless you're a blogger and need a good photo-op. You know how we throw a tailgating party? Like the rest of America: Oh hey, that game is on! I'll make a dip and pick up some beer at the grocery store. You figure out who's coming and order the pizza. Sound good? Cool. Yeah, I'll try to remember napkins... Oh wait, we still have some Christmas ones, those will work!

No balloons. No catering. No color-coordinated outfit with perfectly curled hair and a cute hat. And if I had a white sofa, which I don't, it would have a sheet on it, because you already know that dip is going to get everywhere.

Still posting iPhone selfies, with my less than ideal mirror #reallife

I miss when blogging was for the AVERAGE person. Now it only seems like the wealthy can become bloggers. You've gotta get the DSLR camera, and buy the catering, and paint your house, and get a full length mirror, and have the perfect outfit, and the perfect hair, and buy the damn balloons. And affiliate link it all so that everyone else will buy those things in their perfection envy! It didn't used to be like that... Blogging has shifted. It used to be a bunch of creative people sharing their ideas, recipes, thoughts. You didn't need a white marble kitchen to get hired to by a food delivery service to take pictures of you cooking their pre-planned menu. You didn't HAVE to post an Instagram photo that perfectly matched your feed. You wrote about what ideas you had, and if your kitchen wasn't idea for filming, you shot there anyway. Do you think the Pioneer Woman started with a $200,000 kitchen?! Nope.

Blogging has shifted from idea and thought sharing to simply telling people what to buy so they look as perfect as the blogger. 

There was a whole lot of criticism going around about bloggers lately that I wrote this post about. I think this post is just in continuation of the second part of my argument. I miss the old days of blogging that weren't focused on perfection and materialism. We shared our ideas and focused on great content, but didn't stress if we didn't spend $150 on balloons to "get the best shot." We didn't only ramble off crap for people to buy so they *could* look as pretty as us. We made pretty photos with what we had, not going out of our way to buy the crap that everyone else was/is using for a photo prop. Man, those were the days. 

I started blogging to share ideas and have a creative outlet. Not to be competitive or perfect or portray a life I don't actually live and try to sell you on it. Literally, make you believe it and make you buy it. I wish more bloggers would get back to their "why" and stop focusing on what everyone else is doing, what's trending, and how they can make an extra buck off Instagram. It'd make blogs a heck of a lot more fun to read! The shift in blogging is making it a lot less fun to be a blogger, and a lot less fun to read blogs. 

Thursday, March 1, 2018

What You REALLY Need For A Newborn

There's so much on the market geared towards newborns; here's what you REALLY need when you have a new baby

I was helping my sister out with her baby registry a few weeks ago, as she sent me a "HELP ME!" email from all the choices, products, and frankly - baby crap that exists out there. It's been two years since I've had a newborn, but oh how I still remember those days. Breast feeding, running on an hour or two of sleep a night, dealing with an infant who sleeps all day and is awake all night... They tell you you'll miss those days when they're gone, but I'm here to tell you NOPE. I sure don't! The newborn stage is the worst. Parenting actually gets fun after the baby is about 6 months old, but that newborn stage is for the birds. In light of that, here's what you REALLY need to survive those first few months with a newborn. *affiliate links used*

what you really need on your baby registry vs. what's nice to have on your baby registry from an experienced mom's perspective

When I was coming up with this list, thinking back on my newborn baby days, I realized that there were things that you absolutely NEED, and then things that I found to be a lifesaver but weren't a universal need. I personally needed them, and if I ever have more children I'll be sure to stock up on them again, but calling it a need is a stretch. But, ahem, I know the difference between need and want. So. I'm going to create two sections: A need section and a want section, although I'm sure most other bloggers would tell you all these things are dire needs!

If you're forming a registry, click the image below to get one started on Amazon and then all the links below will transfer to it. Easy!

What you REALLY need for a newborn:

Swaddles and swaddle blankets - Swaddling the baby at night is a lifesaver, and velcro swaddles make it so that your baby can't wiggle out of it. Trust me, no matter how many lessons you've taken, you'll never be able to swaddle like the nurses at the hospital and your baby will escape, wake up, and scream about it. The swaddles are great at night, and during the day we used the muslin swaddle blankets for naps or to lay on the ground for tummy time. We still use the swaddle blankets to transition Otto out of a sleep sack and to a blanket and pillow sleeping situation.

Onesies - when the baby is brand new and you're figuring it all out, don't bother dressing your baby in a full outfit. Trust me, they'll just spit up on or poop in it. We only dressed Henry in a onesie for about the first 3 months of his life. Get short sleeved onesies for spring and summer babies and long sleeved oneises for fall and winter babies (then use the swaddle blankets to cover their legs). It results in less laundry and less work when you're changing a diaper every hour or two! Which brings me to...

Diapers - you can cloth diaper, or you can go traditional. I tell every future new mom to NOT register for a lot of one brand or one size! You never know how big your baby will be and s/he could grow out of the newborn size in a week. Each diaper brand has a different cut/shape too, and you never know what brand will work best with your baby. Henry wore Babyganics but was such a big baby, by 12 months he was out of their size 6 (Babyganics runs super small, BTW). Then he switched to Pampers. Otto got chemical burns from Pampers, so he wears (to this day) Honest Co. We tried an Honest Co overnight diaper on Henry and it leaked (multiple nights in a row!). See what I mean about different diapers for different babies?! Even if this isn't your first baby, this one won't be the same as your last. I recommend buying a small batch of each brand to see what works best for your baby.
Burp cloths - Oh, how I want to link some of the adorable burp cloths that are out there! There are so many beautiful trendy ones. But guys, when fabric has a print on it, it tends to not absorb well. These plain white cloths absorb everything as it comes out, which means less will end up on you. Pretty they are not, but practical and useful they are indeed. And when it comes to vomit, you want to be practical.

Bottles - Even if you're breastfeeding, you'll come to a time when you'll need to be away from your baby for a few hours and you won't want to leave whomever the caregiver is without a pumped bottle. Bottles, in my experience, are like diapers, and every baby has a preference. Henry used the Philip Avent glass bottles (he was only breastfed for 3 months). Otto took to the Medela bottles as he was breastfed/I pumped for him for a long time. Once I tried to get him to take one of Henry's glass bottles and he spit the nipple out and looked at me like I was crazy. So just like you want a mini-sample of diapers, you'll want a mini sample of all the major bottles. I'd register for 3-4 different brands, figure out which one baby takes, and then buy 6+ of them. (These are also super popular but we never used them.)
Pacifier - even if you don't introduce one right away (I'm still not sure if nipple confusion is a real thing as both my kids got pacis in their first week and both nursed with vigor) a pacifier is a life saver for better sleep. True, your child may form an attachment to it that you'll later have to break (neither of my kids had this happen. Both gave up their pacifiers about the exact same time they were done nursing) but whatever habit is formed is worth the extra sleep you'll get in those first few months. These cute contraptions keep the paci in your baby's mouth.
Bassinet - even if you want to do crib sleeping or co-sleeping immediately, having a bassinet is a must for naps. Newborns sleep a lot and having a bassinet you can move from room to room is essential so you can keep an eye on the baby while you go about your day. Rock n Plays are great because they're easily transportable and have an incline if your baby has acid reflux. There are Moses baskets that are flat-lying (better for baby's soft head) and have handles for transportation. And the Halo looks amazing for night sleeping in the same room as you.

What's NICE to have for a newborn:

A swing or a bouncer - I feel like babies either like to swing or bounce, but rarely both. Both my kids were swingers (ha!) I'm linking the one we actually have because it's amazing. You can swing side to side or front to back, there's a mobile and there's music. There's also an infant insert so it's not too big, and everything is easily washable (hello, vomit!). This is a bouncer by the same brand, and the bonus to it is that it's far cheaper than a swing. It's also more easily movable so the baby can stay with you as you move about the house. Full disclosure, we never had one of these because my kids took to the swing right away.

Pack n Play - we set this up in our master suite so that we'd have a changing table in our room, making those frequent night feeds easier. This is also great for naps and essential for travel. It is SO nice to have more than one changing station in the house!

Nursing pillow - I SWEAR by this brand! It has back support, headrest for baby in the actual nursing position, a washable cover, pockets to keep nipple cream and other things in and a belt around you so that it's secure. There's even a version for twins - how cool is that?! The Bobby was crap - because it's round the baby rolls around and is hard to keep stable while nursing.

Get the need list and you'll be all set for that new baby! Get the needs and nice to have items, and you'll be fully prepared. We didn't get the swing until Henry was a few months old and I was SO glad when we did! We got the pack n play shipped to us before Otto was born, and having those multiple changing stations turned out to be essential with two kids on two different nap schedules and all the night feeds.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Currently February 2018 Edition

What I'm thinking, using, loving and hating... Currently

We've come to the homestretch of February and I'm THRILLED because I tell you what. I CANNOT spell February right to save my life. Every time, I get it wrong and spell check is like, c.mon idiot, I just corrected this for you. It's the trick r after the b that gets me every. single. time. Bring on March, that one is easy! It also means we'll be planting our summer gardens (love living in the South!), preparing the kids' Easter baskets, and entering shorts and t shirt weather. Whoohoo! Here's a good currently post to wrap up the final days of winter. Sorry to everyone who lives up North and has to endure several more months of garbage... *affiliate links used*

Currently, I'm:

Wearing: I bought my first ever pair of TOMS  shoes, and basically have't taken them off. I know I'm the last person on Earth to the TOMS  party! When I used to work full time, I wore heels everyday and thought that TOMS were only for dirty hippies. Now that I am a dirty hippie myself (dirty yes, the hippie part is only so so) I'm happily, comfortably and permanently wearing these shoes.

Why did it take me this long to realize how amazing these things are???

Planning: My sister's baby shower! We've set a theme and a date, and I need to get going on it. I've never hosted a baby shower before, and I'll be doing it "long distance" meaning I'm planning and preparing for it in Dallas, but it will be hosted where she lives in Boston. Getting all the supplies there should be... Fun?

Reading: I've actually read a ton of great stuff lately, and am going to do a post about entertaining, fast reads. One of my goals for 2018 was to read a book a month and I can proudly say I've surpassed it! Currently, I'm about to wrap up The Lovely Bones. I struggled a little to get into this one, because it's all about death and heaven and what that like and what it does to one particular family. Not exactly a mood booster to read right before I go to bed, right?! But, it is a great read. Entertaining and fast-paced, and it makes you wonder what the "after life" is really like. Side note: Anyone else still read real paper books and not at all into Kindles? I love the way books smell and turning the pages! I don't care that they're more expensive and take up physical space, I'm never adapting to e books.

Also, I'm a stubborn 90 year old.

Loving: Yoga Balm. Guy! Guys. GUYSSSSSSS. I posted this to my Insta Stories the night I got it. It is simply amazing. Good for muscle aches, head aches, after a tough workout, a mood booster, a hangover helper. I could go on and on. It's not cheap, but the good stuff never is. I literally can't recommend this product more! Get yours now (not an affiliate link - I'm also not being paid to say this! I just truly love it and want to spread the word)

Get. Some. Of. This. Now.

Annoyed by: My face breaking out nonstop! I switched to all natural skincare I make myself and also use the Young Living ART line, and have had perhaps a total of 3 breakouts in about as many years. For whatever reason, my skin is giving me a big middle finger right now and breaking out like crazy. The good news about oily skin is that I have almost no wrinkles and I'm in my mid 30's. Gotta take the good with the bad, right?

Thursday, February 22, 2018

What I Do To Promote My Own Happiness

Feeling or stuck in a rut? Here are some mood-boosting things you can do today to take charge of your happiness!

This time of year always seems to drag on a little bit. Late February. Winter is still here (yes, even in Dallas! Well... Kinda, it's all relative). Daylight savings hasn't kicked in, the days are still short on sunlight and cabin fever might be ruling your home. I'm getting bummed out just writing this! I thought it might be helpful to compile a list of things I do that promote my own happiness. Whether you're reading this in the final stretch of winter before spring hits, or the middle of a blissful summer break, happiness is something to seek year round! Here are the little things I do - sometimes even daily - to promote my own happiness. *affiliate links used*

Ways to be a happier person, increase your overall happiness, small things that bring joy, being happy

1) Diffuse "happy" essential oils
Essential oils have a mega effect on moods and emotions. If you're feeling like Debbie Downer, try diffusing lemon, orange, or grapefruit essential oil. Either one at a time or all three! Citrus oils are bright and cheery, and diffusing them lightens up a whole room. Bonus: They're also some of the most affordable essential oils! I diffuse citrus oils daily.

2) Get a manicure
If you look good, you tend to feel good. While I might not put on makeup everyday (because seriously who has that kind of time for something that's going to get washed off several hours later!) I do regularly get manicures. My nails are something I "wear" 100% of the time, so if they look good, I automatically feel better about myself. Don't have the budget or the time for a professional mani? Do it yourself! Nail polish is a couple of bucks, and you can use a q-tip and nail polish remover to clean up the edges. I love this drug store brand and it's a new spring color!

3) Take an Epsom salt bath
I prefer Epsom salt over bubble baths because there's health benefits to the salts, but you're likely just drying out your skin with artificial fragrances and conditioners in a bubble bath. Still, do whatever makes you happiest! I like to add essential oils to my salts, then sprinkle them in the tub with the water going. This smells amazing, and the Epsom salt naturally replace the magnesium in your body, which is essential for good sleep (read more on that in this post). Not only does hot water feel good but added bonus! You'll likely sleep better. I know I'm a much happier person if I've had a good night's rest...

Where I have the privilage of taking baths

4) Go for a quick walk outside
I almost wrote this one as simply "exercise" because exercising increases serotonin in the brain, which is your happiness hormone. However, I find there's something specifically about being outside that magnifies the benefits of exercise. I even live in a city center, and love getting out and about in my neighborhood. Luckily I can be outside year round in Texas, and I schedule outdoor play daily for my kids, provided it isn't miserably cold or raining. If you're feeling blahhh, get outside, even for just a 15 minute walk in your neighborhood! Listening to birds chirp, my kids laughing and feeling the sun on my face instantly boosts my happiness.

5) Get off social media
No, not permanently but you'd probably be happier overall if you (and I) did... If you're feeling unhappy, commit to disengaging from social media for a full day. Don't log into Facebook, don't read any tweets and don't scroll your Instagram feed. Take note of the difference you feel! I've found that when I focus more on living my own REAL life and less on watching the highlights of what others want me to think their life is like, I'm instantly more happy and more present in how great the current moment is.

These are all quick, relatively simple things you can do to boost your own happiness, almost instantly! I'm telling you, that brisk walk outside works wonders. Weekly baths not only help me relax, I sleep better and am a happier person because of them! And a great mani is always a reason to smile, even if it's an at-home manicure. There are tons of ways to promote happiness, and these are just a few of the things I do to give myself a happiness boost. 

Monday, February 19, 2018

Essential Oils For Better Hair

Make this DIY root and scalp spray with essential oils for better, healthier, faster growing hair!

Having kids does a number on your hair. I remember after I had Henry, it started to fall out so heavily, I had to clean out my brush every time I combed my hair, and do a swipe of the shower every single time I bathed. It lasted for about three or four months. After Otto, nothing really happened until after I was done breastfeeding him... Then CLUMPS of hair would fall out! And this lasted for well over a year. I actually developed bald spots on my head. Not only did it fall out, but the ends got dry, the roots got greasy and the color got much darker, requiring more highlights which further damaged my hair. It was a hot mess! I had heard that essential oils can be great for your root and scalp, therefore making your hair healthier overall, so I dove in and did some research. This post is all about the essential oils you can use for better hair, and I've made a DIY for easier application for you. *affiliate links used*

First, here's the roundup of essential oils that are great for your hair when applied to the root and scalp. Remember, your hair starts there, and if you want better overall hair, you've got to start where hair grows! Now, I specifically left all citrus essential oils off this list even though they consistently popped up in my research for "healthy hair oils." Why? Because citrus oils magnify the effects of the sun (think sunburn in a fraction of the time it normally takes to develop a burn) and your head is naturally the closest part of your body to the sun. 

The DIY that follows after this list is designed so that you can select the oils that will work best for you - you can cherry pick what you need based on your hair. I didn't want someone adding lemon or bergamot to their unique scalp spray, being unaware of the effects it could have on your poor scalp! So, I specifically left those oils off the list. Lemon and bergamot were both considered great for hair, roots and scalps, however, so if you're interested in those oils look them up AND how to safely use them, especially as we head into spring and summer. Now, back to the essential oils for better hair list:

Rosemary is known to stimulate blood circulation on your scalp, which results in faster hair growth. Faster hair growth is going to promote thickness because more hair is growing in to replace the hair that is falling out/damaged/etc. Rosemary also reportedly helps to repair dry hair with it's moisturizing properties. This essential oil is great to use from scalp to root to hair shaft! (Ever seen or used Aveda's Rosemary and Mint shampoo? Yup, there's a reason rosemary is in that high-end classic!)

Ah, the second component to the popular Aveda product. You know how when you apply peppermint, it "tingles"? That tingling is stimulation, and peppermint is thought to stimulate hair growth when applied to the scalp. It also has antimicrobial properties, so it's great for things like dandruff and other irritations. 

Tea Tree
Tea tree oil is used for so many things, especially things you want cleaned. This oil is great for greasy hair or greasy scalps. It has gentle antiseptic properties so it's great if you have dandruff that you'd like cleaned up, or if you generally have an irritated and itchy scalp. I have a tea tree shampoo from a natural hair brand and it's my favorite to use when it's been a few days (or more) since I've washed my hair. Have a bunch of dry shampoo buildup or irritation from excessive dry shampoo? This is a great oil for that!

Cedarwood is a natural moisturizer, so this one is great for dry hair. It also stimulates blood circulation when applied to the scalp, and is used for thinning hair. This works best when applied directly to the scalp and massage is used to further increase stimulation. I happen to be a huge fan of the smell of this oil. It's very mild, so this is a great one to pair with others to make a multi-purpose scalp spray (DIY below!)

Is there anything this oil doesn't do?! If you don't have this oil, get it immediately. If you're just starting to dabble in essential oils, start with lavender. Lavender is a known "soother" oil, so if you have an irritated scalp, this one is great. I also read a holistic health site that claimed there was a study where lavender was clinically proven to increase the number of hair follicles. That site didn't link the study, or I'd link it here for you. The soothing properties of the oil also make it great for dry, frazzled ends. Oh yeah, and it smells amazing!

DIY Essential Oil Scalp Spray for Healthier Hair
- Pinch of sea salt
- One to three of the essential oils listed above, based on what your hair needs (5 drops of each)
- Distilled water 


- One to three of the essential oils listed above, based on what your hair needs (5 drops of each)
- Carrier oil, such as Grape Seed Oil, Avocado Oil, Liquid Coconut Oil or other vegetable based oil

The first version is great if you want to have the oils on your scalp all day. Put the salt in the bottle and add your essential oils. Shake for a few moments to evenly distribute the oils among the salt. Fill the rest of the bottle with distilled water. Shake well before each use. Part your hair into sections and apply directly to your scalp, massaging in with your fingers.

The second version is great if you want to make more of a conditioning treatment that you either apply a few minutes before washing or leave on over night. This is a better option if you want to apply the essential oils all the way down the shaft of your hair, too. Fill the spray bottle with carrier oil of choice and add 5 drops of each essential oil. Shake well. Spray from your roots to the ends of your hair. Leave on overnight (be sure the pillowcase you have on your pillow isn't your favorite because it will get oil stained) or leave on for 5-10 minutes, then wash and style your hair as normal.

What essential oils to use for healthier, faster growing, thicker hair and a DIY scalp spray to promote healthier hair
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Essential oils have tons of benefits, including being great for your scalp and hair. If you're like me and have popped out a few kids which has been rough on your hair, or have other issues that have negatively impacted your hair, I highly recommend giving essential oils a try for several months and seeing what they do for you. The DIY scalp spray is a great, easy way to apply the oils to your hair and scalp.