5.26.2016

a few favorites

It's been a while since I've talked about some favorite things, so I have three to share today! 

1. This luggage by CalPak. They have so many sets to choose from, but I was really drawn to the ivory and the details on this one! We didn't have any matching rolling suitcases before this and I've got to say, it's much more fun to travel with matching pieces! The exterior is hard (but not plastic), so it's wipeable. I also love how it spins in all directions. The interior is a gorgeous gemstone blue shade and there are plenty of interior pockets! There's a TSA-approved lock on each suitcase, too. Always nice for extra peace of mind. The whole design is just really smart and I highly recommend!



2. This WSS pillow. This pillow cover from White Elephant Designs is one of my absolute favorites! It's in Watson's nursery on his glider. There is a precious cover for a baby girl, too. (His outfit is Kissy Kissy.)


3. Arcona Wine Hydrating Mask. My skin has felt pretty dry since having Watson and this mask has really helped. It's literally jam packed with awesome ingredients (too many to name), but it basically is supposed to stimulate cell renewal on your face, replenish it with moisture, smooth and firm, and help the skin find it's natural balance. What I also love about this company is that ARCONA products contain no petrochemicals, binders or fillers, chemical stabilizers, parabens, sodium lauryl sulphates, perfumes, dyes, or other toxic ingredients.




5.24.2016

our kitchen renovation, part 2

It has been over two months since I last shared our kitchen renovation progress with y'all. And yes, it's still going on. I've realized the renovation life just isn't for me. Or maybe it was starting the renovation at 37 weeks pregnant and having it all happen with a newborn... maybe that was the true headache in all of this.

Something to know before starting a renovation that I really didn't realize is that if the project is big enough, it's going to affect your entire house. Nothing in your house will feel in place and it will all feel so dirty from dust! No matter how well you protect the reno area. If it's a kitchen renovation, it's going to affect not only your entire house, but your whole lifestyle as well. Basically in the past 11ish weeks, we've eaten almost every lunch and dinner out. I was actually looking forward to this aspect of the renovation because being 37 weeks pregnant, I was so over cooking anyway. But let me tell you, the best meal is one cooked at home! I cannot wait to get to cooking some good meals in our new kitchen.

Ah! I digress. The great part is that the kitchen is now almost completely finished and it's exactly what I had envisioned! And as much as it was a pain in the neck, I definitely do not regret starting the renovation when we did. We knew what we were getting into and I'm so thankful to have it pretty much behind us now!

First, a mini refresher of what happened in renovation update, part 1...

This is what the kitchen looked like before.


Brandon demo'd everything, even down to the beadboard ceiling cover.


Our contractor got started on plumbing and electricity first. Those were the big things because we needed the gas lines moved for the new stove and the water lines moved for the new sink/dishwasher placement. As for the electric work, it just all needed to be updated. Our house was built in the 40s, and even though the kitchen was a more recent renovation, the electric was still a little too old for my comfort! 

A couple weeks later, the hardwoods were installed. This was the week before Watson was born. 


And when he was four days old, they stained them. (We stayed with my parents this week!)


Cabinet install began. We used Cabinets.com—they set us up with a designer, who got to work right away in helping us come up with our new cabinet design and layout. We were so impressed with how personal the experience felt. We never felt like our designer was far away... she responded to all of our requests so quickly and made us feel like she was just down the road.



This was the design we came up with. Our kitchen is fairly small and there was just no way of knocking down any walls to expand the space because of the rooms on the other side of the kitchen. So we worked with the layout the best way possible, picked out our cabinets, and then waited for them to be delivered! (This whole design/order process took place about 7 weeks before the renovation started.) We also had recessed lighting installed in the ceiling. 


One by one, all of the cabinets were installed....and then we replaced that window! This made such a huge difference for me. We worked with Bob at Southern Lumber and he was fantastic. It literally took less than a week for us to have a custom sized window built by the manufacturer and delivered to our house!


Then we had our Hyannis-30 Fireclay Farmhouse Sink from Nantucket Sinks put in. It's pretty beautiful, if I do say so myself. And a few weeks of more electric and trim work later, our countertops were installed! Tile & Stone does awesome work. I never even saw them there... somehow they got it all done without me even realizing they were in our house. Not kidding. (Special thanks to Sarah!!) We chose a Carrara marble extra in the honed finish since it's supposed to show fewer scratches. Who has tips for me on how to care for the marble? I am afraid to put anything on our counters now! 


Guess who the first person was to use our sink once we had counters? We had just scooted away real quickly for a picture. Don't worry, we didn't let him just hang out there alone. Note: the PUJ tub is not compatible with bigger farm sinks. Darn.


And you can barely see it in the photo below, but the light fixture up there is another favorite of mine! It's the 
Visual Comfort E.F. Chapman Boston Functional Single Library in Antique Nickel from Lighting Commerce. They had the best price I was able to find and shipped super fast! 


I'm going to save other photos for the final reveal, but that's where we are so far! Still have pot filler to install, some additional trimwork to complete, tile backsplash, cabinet hardware, and painting to do!

5.23.2016

saturday strollin'


We ran some errands on Saturday morning on King Street. It was so pretty that we decided to stroll Watson around on some side streets afterwards. I could have stayed outside ALL day! May is my absolute favorite time to be in Charleston. It gets hot quick here, so by June it will already be a scorcher.


I've been working on some warm weather appropriate outfits that work for my postpartum body. I've got a big ways to go to get back to where I was, so I'm wearing as many things that I can that are meant to fit loosely. That way they will still work as the weight comes off.  

I bought these shorts and at only $38, they are a great deal. They have a high rise, so eventually I'll wear them with a tank tucked into them.




My sandals are new by Sam Edelman. Oh, and I looked up from taking the photo above and Brandon was hanging in the tree. Typical!



Watson's hair is really thinning out on the sides! I'm anxious to know if it's all going to fall out (mine did as a baby) and what color it will come back as if it does. I could just eat those sweet cheeks up. He's wearing this Kissy Kissy playsuit. This brand runs pretty small in my opinion. He is wearing 0-3 month in just about every other brand, but 3-6 months in Kissy Kissy. (W is almost 2 months old!)


Our walk did have a purpose. It was to get to Black Bean Co! It's one of those "energy foods" places. I always get the rosemary chicken salad wrap, with a yogurt on the side. It's delicious.


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5.19.2016

Your Beautycounter Questions, Answered!

I get a lot of emails asking about Beautycounter and my journey to safer products, so I thought I'd compile the most popular questions and answer them here! If you haven't read why I switched to safer before, I strongly encourage it so that this all makes sense! If you want to see other posts I've shared about Beautycounter, including tutorials, you can see those here.

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Question: I'm interested in the Tint Skin Foundation. How can I best figure out what shade to order?
I know ordering makeup without seeing it in person is hard! This foundation is very forgiving in terms of color since it's not full coverage—and it blends really well! The chart below should help in determining which shade is right for you in the Tint Skin Foundation and the Touchup Skin Concealer Pen. Also worth noting, all of the lighter shades are very neutral in tone. (They aren't too pink or too yellow.) For reference, I wear Linen in the winter and Sand in the summer. And also, know that Beautycounter offers a 60 day return policy if you don't like something or get the wrong shade. 



Question: What is the best way to apply the foundation?
This is easy.... the Retractable Complexion Coverage Brush. I have about ten different foundation brushes and sponges and none compare to this brush when it comes to applying the Tint Skin.

Question: How did you learn about which ingredients in other beauty products are harmful? What do you think are the most unsafe ingredients I need to stay away from?
There are thousands of ingredients that are unsafe, but still found in cosmetics used everyday, so I used the EWG Skin Deep database to see if the products I use have a safe or hazardous score. There are so many products NOT in the database, so for those, I would search each individual ingredient on the list. Yes, this takes a long time, but it's effective!
A good starting point? The "Never List" is a list of unsafe ingredients that Beautycounter will never use in their products. That's a great place to start when sifting through your products and wondering what to toss first! 
From my experience, you'll probably see parabens and fragrance in a lot of your products. So that's where I started... Parabens include ethylparaben, butylparaben, methylparaben and propylparaben. Throw out anything containing any of those because they are hormone disruptors! Specifically, parabens mimic estrogen; they can lock on to our cell’s own estrogen receptors and mess with important natural signals. So in other words, they may be producing way more estrogen than your body should have or vice versa. They also may play a role in triggering breast cancer (parabens have been found in breast cancer tissue). After you get rid of all of those products, throw out anything that says "Fragrance" on it. If it's not a natural fragrance, it most likely contains Phthalates, which disrupt the endocrine system and may cause birth defects. So throw those out too! Then with what you're left with (probably not much!), check out that "Never List" again and/or look up your products in the Skin Deep database.

Question: Do you have any suggestions for safe products that Beautycounter does not currently offer? Such as deodorants, laundry detergent, etc.
The Environmental Working Group is a great resource! Their website (ewg.org) has tons of information on healthy living. Their Skin Deep database is a great tool for finding other beauty and personal care products that are safe to use. As far as household products, they also have a guide on household cleaners!
Personally, I use the LAVANILA Healthy Deodorant in Vanilla Lavender and I love, love it! It's the first deodorant that smells good to me all day long and isn't overpowering. We love Seventh Generation cleaning products and J.R. Watkins Laundry Detergent Powder.

Question: If I had to start with just a few Beautycounter products, what are your recommendations?
This question is always so hard because there is so much to love! I would start off with the skincare, personally. And I only say that because that is my favorite category of Beautycounter—it made my skin feel so much more balanced and cleared my skin of pesky acne bumps that I had been on topical and oral medications to (unsuccessfully) treat! When I started with Beautycounter,  I saw immediate improvement and completely quit all medicine that week. Since then, my skin has stayed clear of bumps!
Here are my favorite products by category. So, if you were to start with just a few products, I'd personally make them some of these! 
Skincare Favorites:
  • Routine Clean Cream Cleanser: So gentle and leaves skin hydrated! Cleanse twice in a row if wearing makeup (this goes for any skincare). Many facial cleansers use common cleansing agent sodium laurel sulfate, which can cause irritation and trigger allergies. It is often contaminated with 1,4-dioxane - a cancer-causing chemical. Routine Clean uses sugar-derived cleanser decyl glucoside instead.
  • Nourishing Day Cream: Absorbs quickly and leaves skin so balanced, not greasy. It's a mix of organic coconut oil, safflower oil, aloe, and antioxidant-rich acai. If you were only going to buy one moisturizer, this should be it! You can mix in some Lustro Oil drops with it at night to make it more hydrating. But if you can buy the Nourishing Night Cream, then that's the ultimate to mix with the oil!
  • Lustro Oil: The lustro oils are a facial in a bottle. As I said above, just mix in a few drops with your moisturizer. I just do this at night. Oil #1 is to soothe irritated skin, Oil #2 is to brighten dull, aging skin, and Oil #3 is to balance dry or oily skin—and this one is best for acne!
  • Vibrant Eye Perfector: This is the one Countertime product I am putting in this "must haves" list. It has caffeine and wild algae to reduce puffiness and darkness. Super hydrating, but not greasy! Vibrant Eye Perfector does not include parabens, which are common cosmetic preservatives that can disrupt hormone function, which is in turn linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. There are several different kinds of parabens (ethylparaben, butylparaben, methylparaben and propylparaben).
Bodycare Favorites:  
  • Hydrate Everyday Body Lotion: I just love this stuff. The smell is so nice, but never overpowering. It makes my skin feel hydrated on it's own, not like it has been slathered with lotion. It's free of sulfates and penetration enhancers, which are often found in body lotions. But instead of hydrating, they can irritate skin and increase the amount of toxic chemicals absorbed into the bloodstream. 
  • Wash Everyday Body Wash: Ditto to the above—cleanses skin without stripping it of natural moisture. Even Brandon uses it! Many other body washes contain sodium laureth sulfate — a common ingredient used in bath products that is often contaminated with 1,4 dioxane, a known carcinogen.
  • Protect All Over Sunscreen: I know this is expensive for a sunscreen, but it's made with NON-NANO zinc oxide, which basically means pieces of metal aren't going to sink through your pores like other sunscreens. (A nano particle will enter the bloodstream but a non-nano will not. For that reason, non-nano is safer.) This sunscreen also does not have oxybenzone, which is in so many sunscreens and is known to be a hormone disruptor and cause allergic reactions.
Makeup Favorites:  
  • Tint Skin Foundation: This isn't the most high coverage foundation, but you can layer it up for more coverage. I love it because it it doesn't ever look cakey, doesn't settle into fine lines, and it never looks greasy on my face. It's one of Lauren Conrad's favorite daily products! I also feel like this is important if you're only buying a few Beautycounter products because this is coated over your entire face (or most of it), so it needs to be safe! Many foundations contain Polyethylene glycol, which is a PEG and is often contaminated with measurable amounts of ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane, which are both carcinogens.
  • Color Pinch Cream Blusher: In "Caramel," specifically. I just love this stuff because of how natural it looks and how easily it blends. You can even put a little bit on the eyelids as an eyeshadow base.
  • Lip Sheer: These are a huge favorite for me. I know we basically eat lipstick throughout the day as it wears, so it was very important for me for it to be a safe product. 
  • Touchup Skin Concealer Pen: This is great because it's an actual concealer, rather than just a highlighter like a lot of pens seem to be. I use "Light" on my face + undereye, then go back in with "Fair" to lightly highlight under the eyes, down the bridge of my nose, around my nostrils, and in between my eyebrows.


Question: Does Beautycounter ever offer discount codes? 
Beautycounter doesn't offer discounts, but every now and then, there will be a promotion where you get a free gift with purchase. And they are often REALLY good deals. There is actually a promo ending today where if you spend $150, you get a free Lustro Oil #3, which is a $68 value. 

Question: What is the Baby Soothing Oil used for?
I use the Soothing Oil on Watson instead of a baby lotion. It absorbs so well and makes his sweet skin feel super soft and nourished. It doesn't feel greasy... it soaks right in just like a lotion! Baby's skin is much more vulnerable than adult skin, so using products that are healthy gives me the best peace of mind! 

Question: When I look up some of the Beautycounter products on EWG, I notice a few have an ingredient that is connected with cancer and reproductive toxicity. Has Beautycounter ever mentioned anything about this?
I'm so glad to be asked this question because it gives me a chance to clear the air! In short, it's because of the lack of data and testing that the EWG has done on those particular ingredients. Remember, they are a nonprofit and therefore only able to do a certain extent of testing as funds are available. Beautycounter performs their own separate testing, which is expensive. We have the strictest ingredient screening process in this industry and feel extremely confident in the safety of all ingredients that we use.

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I hope this is helpful! I'm sure I left out a common question, so who knows, I may come back and add a question/answer later. And don't forget about the Lustro Oil offer...

Ending today, receive a free Lustro Oil #3 (my personal favorite, $68 value!) with any $150+ purchase! 

5.17.2016

10 Essentials for Baby's First Month

Watson is now six weeks old and I can't believe it. Actually, he'll be seven weeks in a few days! I felt like the first month was a little bit of a blur—just trying to figure out this whole parenthood business and being sleep deprived and all. But even though I wasn't in my sharpest mind the whole time, one thing is crystal clear—there are certain baby things I couldn't have been without during that first month, so I thought I'd share those things for you expectant mommas who are making lists of what to stock up on before baby arrives. None of these are going to be groundbreaking must-haves, but just the things I was most thankful to have in those first weeks!


1. SWADDLE BLANKETS
I felt like the ten swaddle blankets I had ready for Watson were going to be a liiittle excessive, ha! But let me tell you, swaddle blankets are little gems! We get a new one out of the drawer every night to wrap him up like a little burrito. Then the next day, I'll use that same swaddle to cover him up during short naps, to wipe spit up, to cover the carseat/stroller, or whatever other purpose I can find for it before tossing it in the laundry that evening and grabbing a new fresh one for bedtime. Sometimes we even go through two in one day... it's the best multi-purpose baby item we have! So no, ten was not too much at all. My favorite ones for actual swaddling are the Solly Swaddle Set. They are soft, big, and stretchy, so they really wrap baby up well. I'm also a huge fan of our Buttermilk Babies swaddles because of the adorable prints. Also love Modern Burlap and this four pack by Willow Beans (they are nice and thin for summer, and oh so soft)!

And don't judge any swaddle techniques above... we had just wrapped him up loosely for a morning nap in this photo! 

 

2. ONESIES
Watson sleeps in one every night because he just seems to get too hot with footie pajamas and a swaddle. But we do love the long sleeve ones for keeping his arms warm at night when they escape out of the swaddle (like they do every night!). Ones with short sleeves are awesome too. We use these from Gap, but we also have ones by Carters that you can find at TJ Maxx for a steal. We have about six long sleeve onesies and three short sleeve ones and use them all! I also keep one or two in my diaper bag in case we have a diaper blowout and his good outfit gets dirty. And this happens quite a bit ....especially in his good outfits, of course.



3. ROCK 'N PLAY
4. BOPPY PILLOW //
So, this photo shows both of these things—and this is exactly what our life looked like within those first few weeks! First the Rock 'n Play. It's so wonderful because it supports a newborn baby's head, so he is way more comfortable in this than in anything else. It's great to have a go-to sleeper chair like this to put baby down in when you need your hands free for something. I honestly don't know what we would have done without this... Whenever we lay on the couch at night to watch a show, we usually set Watson down in the Rock 'n Play and he snoozes while we have some moments to ourselves. It's also great because he often gets congested after he eats, so this keeps him propped up if I'm not holding him up myself. 

And the Boppy Pillow... if you plan on breastfeeding, then you will need this! There are lots of similar pillows to this that I've heard are even better, but I really love this one. And the adorable cover from Etsy doesn't hurt.



5. DOCK-A-TOT DELUXE
The Dock-A-Tot keeps baby snug by mimicking a womb-like feeling. Watson sleeps in his every night... it fits perfectly in his cradle. I don't think it's recommended to go directly in a crib or cradle, but he is a strong baby and is already close to rolling over, so I love that there is absolutely no way he can roll over while in this. Gives me peace of mind. It's also totally portable, so we take it all over the house! For naps on our bed, in the bathroom while I shower, etc.



6. CHANGING TABLE + GOODIES

A good station for changing diapers is key. Set up a basket full of changing supplies elsewhere in the house, too, and you'll be thankful you did! My favorite diapers are by the Honest Company because they are free of chlorine, fragrance, dyes, lotions, etc. And they are so stinking cute. They run a little small, though! Watson was 7lbs 8 ounces when he left the hospital and he was already in size 1. The newborns weren't high enough on his bottom. He's about 10 or 11 pounds now and we are still in size 1 though. 

We love, love Water Wipes. They stay super wet and the best part? They are 99.9% water! So no irritation from fragrances or toxic chemicals. Because of this, I feel better about wiping his face with it when he has crusties on there or when anything else needs a good wipe down. Goodness knows you go through a lot of wipes with a baby! Watson has gone through the 720 count box in his 6 weeks of life!



7. STROLLER TRAVEL SYSTEM
A stroller has been vital to me in that first month because you just HAVE to get out of the house to stay sane. We chose the Uppababy Cruz stroller and Mesa infant carrier because of their compatibility—they snap together with no adapters! Considering the fact that I lose everything, this was huge for me because I don't have to worry about losing a carseat adapter somewhere. We were stuck on the Uppababy Vista stroller up until my 9th month of pregnancy when I chose the Cruz instead for it's more compact size (for getting around stores and other tight places) and because the more I thought about it, the less we needed the bassinet that comes with the Vista. I figured Watson would be in the infant carrier most of the time while he would be small enough to fit in the bassinet anyway. I'm sure I would have LOVED the Vista had we got it, but since the Cruz was a few hundred dollars less expensive, I have really been happy with our decision! It gives me "room" to buy a jogging stroller now! ;)


9. SAFE SKINCARE FOR BABY
Babies are much more vulnerable to the bad effects of chemicals than we are. Many baby shampoos and lotions are formulated with "fragrance," which is a simple word used to disguise tons of ingredients like phthalates and synthetic musks that are linked to hormone disruption. The FDA does not require that the ingredients in "fragrance" be disclosed, so there's no telling what's in there—scary! It's so important for me to know exactly what ingredients I'm putting on Watson's body. 

On the flip side, this Beautycounter Baby Bundle is exceptionally good! (We also love our baby washes and lotions from Honest and Weleda.) I wish the wash were in a pump, but that's my only complaint. Otherwise, it's gentle, effective, and oh so safe. I lather the oil all on Watson's skin after a bath and it soaks right in (not greasy at all). The balm is great on rough skin!



10. BOUNCER SEAT 
We traveled around in Watson's first month so having a travel-friendly seat was vital —meaning, one that is lightweight, can fold up compact, and no plugs or batteries required. And since you can't hold your baby all the time, it's nice to have a couple different seat options for setting him down for play or sleep—or as needed for yourself. I love this Baby Bjorn Bouncer because it folds up as thin as can be, it's light for toting around the house, and it's developed with pediatricians to support baby's back and head in the right ways. There's also a toy bar accessory that goes on the top. That paired with the bouncing movements are great for motor development skills! 


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What else did we love and use? Well, definitely a sound machine every night (we use the Dohm). MAM Start pacifiers have been our favorites because they're small and lightweight, so they don't fall out of Watson's mouth as easily as others. Lots of books! My sweet friends that hosted my shower had the guests each bring a book instead of a card, so we loaded up on some great ones. Socks for baby's feet, although I haven't been able to find ones that stay on yet. At least one soft, plush blanket! A camera for taking a million bazillion photos. Lots of water for momma if you're nursing! You will NEVER be so thirsty. Glow Baby app is great for tracking feedings... I just started doing that at the end of his first month and it has really been helpful. And lastly... a good show to binge watch and comfy clothes! 

more BABY posts
pregnancy announcement  |   14 weeks  |   16 weeks  |   18 weeks  |   20 weeks  |  23 weeks  |  27 weeks  |  29 weeks  |  31 weeks  |  34 weeks  |  10 pregnancy must-haves  |  37 weeks
 

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