2021 Holiday Gift Guide

Shipping delays, supply chain shortages, Kyle Rittenhouse’s “crying” face? It’s enough to suck the holiday cheer right outta the room am I right? Well fear not, my lovely readers! For today I bring you a few odds and ends truly worthy of the season. Let’s get started.

Makeup/Beauty

Outlaw Soap

Why do products from Outlaw Soaps make such great gifts? Could it be the catchy names and funny packaging? The amazing smells? Or maybe the fact that each package always comes with STICKERS?!

Whatever the reason, Outlaw Soap has you covered. Their products are all-natural, cruelty-free and use sustainable and eco-friendly ingredients and packaging.

Some of my favorites include –

August and Monroe Calm Cream

This vitamin B3 gel moisturizer makes a perfect holiday gift due to the cold weather and it’s universally favorable formula. This stuff is lightweight, good for sensitive skin, vegan, fragrance-free and did I mention it feels amazing on the skin? It truly lives up to it’s name with addition of hyaluronic acid, niacinimide, and oats.

EcoLips Candy Cane Lip Balm

This wouldn’t be a true gift guide if I did not include one of my all-time favorite lip balms! EcoLips products are certified organic, gluten-free, and cruelty free. The packaging for this candy cane lip balm is actually made of plants and is 100% plastic-free! How amazing is that? Plus, the sweet peppermint vanilla flavor is perfection. I will be throwing these in everyone’s stockings this year.

Origins Ginger Body Souffle

This body cream is heaven. Anytime I see the word “whipped” in a body product, I know I am game to try it out. This stuff is lightweight, yet super moisturizing and does not leave behind a greasy finish. The scent is amazing and it has a lovely sensation when applying.

Home

Mollygrams Watercolor Alphabet Art

Guys. These customizable watercolor pieces from Mollygram are just too perfect. The above pictured name print for my daughter was done in the “woodland” theme, but she has several to choose from. I might need to order the Garden Party Alphabet print next!

I would also like to mention that these prints come pre-framed, are packaged very securely, and come with pre-installed hanging hardware.

Dyson Stick Vaccum

Yes I posed in my sweats, in the kitchen, with my Dyson stick vaccum. And listen, I know these are expensive. But hand to God, I use this thing at least once or twice a day. It is BY FAR the best money we’ve ever spent. It is lightweight, has great suction and does not have a CORD! Would make the greatest gift for LITERALLY anyone. Definitely get the version with all of the attachments, because I have used every single one. I would kiss the inventor of this vacuum if I could, it is that good.

Barefoot Dreams Throw Blanket

Again we have an expensive item that is worth every single penny. The only loophole to that cost being that from time to time, they do sell these at Nordstrom Rack for a significantly reduced price. This is BY FAR the softest, most luxurious material I have ever felt and when I picture heaven, I picture Barefoot Dreams. The perfect gift for someone who appreciates luxury!

Touch Control Egg Night Light

We got one of these when Clara was younger, for those late night-time nursing sessions. It is so perfect, providing just enough light so you’re not banging around in the dark. The light is totally customizable – it can be brightened or darkened or made warm or cool toned. Plus, it is controlled by touch! It comes with a little charging station and lasts a very long time between charges (7+ hours or so). This also makes a great gift for anyone who gets up frequently in the night for any reason. The low light and portability makes it so practical.

Fashion

Sincerely Silver Necklaces

These dainty, yet strong and durable nameplate necklaces are the perfect gift! Sincerely Silver offers lots of customizable options in sterling silver, gold and rose gold and the quality is wonderful. My favorite of the bunch has to be this rose gold “Natalie” necklace which is subtle and would look so cute layered!

Nike Blazer Low ’77 Sneakers

I have a pair of the original black Nike Blazers and they are easily my favorite sneaker. Comfy, stylish and they go with everything! This version is even cuter with a slight platform. These also come in several color variations.

North Face Cragmont Fleece Jacket

I MEAN. These colors? Rarely do I recommend items that can be purchased at Dicks or REI – but this jacket is an exception. The fleece is super soft and the relaxed fit means you can easily layer. Such a great gift for anyone in the PNW.

Misc.

Heirloom Video Books

The Heirloom video books are basically the perfect gift for our parents, grandparents or anyone who might enjoy the nostalgia of a photo album, but integrated with video. Heirloom makes it super easy to purchase, create and send a book without leaving your computer.

Here’s how the box will look when it gets shipped out to your loved one:

Click here to learn more about these awesome and unique video books.

Bedfellow Sleep Mask

Perfect for anyone with an affinity for naps, a frequent flier, or the wrinkle-conscious – this sleep mask has customizable memory foam cups that feel like little angel hugs. The design means no pressure on your eyes and a total leak-free seal, keeping things totally blacked out.

I also love that come in a little silk bag, perfect for throwing in a suitcase.

Mirthemp CBD Roll-On Pain Gel

A perfect gift for anyone over the age of 30 and/or works from home! I have a few different CBD topicals and this one is among my favorites. I especially love the addition of menthol. I tend to wake up with neck and upper back pain at least once a month and I love reaching for this to provide relief. I also love that it is roll-on and I don’t have to get up to wash my hands after using it.

*Some of the items above were sent to me complimentary for review. All opinions are my own.

Two New Lip Favorites

Isn’t it funny we spend so much money on something that takes up such a small amount of space? I guess I should re-phrase – something that I spend so much money on that takes up little space on MY face.

I guess if I had big injected lips it would make more sense, but here I am au natural and still I treat them to a lip mask every night, exfoliating sugar scrubs and lip plumping glosses. But I can’t stop and I won’t stop. I am a lip product junkie and I am here to stay.

Here are some new-found favorites –

Simihaze Velvet Blur Matte Lip Balm in shade mist

All about this minimalistic outer packaging.

My good buddy Kyle lovingly gave me this lip balm after we had both discovered the Instagram add and DIED over the packaging. I MEAN. Do you blame us? It really is perfection. It is matte, yes, but it glides on like a dream and despite being a “balm” is super pigmented. I have worn it solo and with a shinier balm/gloss over the top and it is beautiful every time.

NM the snaggle tooth

EcoLips Medicinal Lip Balm and Brazilian Lip Tint

You guys all know I love me some Eco Lips. All of their products are lovely, affordable and super comfortable. The medicinal lip balm was great when I was sick a couple weeks ago (just a cold) and the brazilian tint in the shade blissful has been my tried-and-true to pop on right before Teams calls. It is the perfect “your lips but better” color and always brightens my face up. The scrub packs a nice grit and is delicious!

What lip products are you loving right now? I am just starting to run out of my beloved Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask and want to try something new!

A Fall Update

Holy November!

I feel like such a BWG when I say it, but how is it November really? I feel like adulthood and parenting most notably makes you realize just how fast time is flying by. All of the sudden Clara is using full sentences and walking up the stairs without touching the railing. And E is already getting invited to boy-girl parties and shopping in the juniors section. And so, “Sunrise, Sunset” plays on a constant loop inside my brain and I cry silent tears as I make the hard decision to stop using Dreft on Clara’s clothes and realize E can almost start borrowing my clothes.

I MUST digress.

TBH honest this fall has been pretty darn tough. I have recently taken on a new role at work, a bit of a promotion really, and man is it pushing my limits. After roughly 15 yrs in the work force I think I have finally realized my strengths as a steadfast implementer. The big thinker, I am not not. But once I have a directive or goal – I am darn good at making it all happen. And I am getting better at streamlining processes along the way. The problem sometimes is that us “think outside the box”, make it happen people are not a dime a dozen. So others end up relying on us too much, they come to expect our hustle and ability to figure it out, and that can be tough to uphold day in and day out. I am still trying to find the balance, the rhythm and most importantly – the strength to speak up when things are out of control to maintain my poise, my stamina. OK work talk over.

While it has been a tough past few months, of course there have been joys.

We will start with pumpkin patches.

Yes, patches. I feel like one patch is sufficient each fall. You walk around in the mud, pet a goat, pay $9 for a couple donuts. But since Clara came along, it’s like BRING ON the patches. The girl just loves ’em. She really just loves pumpkins you guys. And she doesn’t even care that we don’t buy the pumpkins, she just likes being around them.

She also LIVES for Halloween. We have been talking about it all year. And she had costumes chosen for us all.

How could I NOT be Daisy Duck for this tot? But the best part was the organization of E’s candy, as evidenced here:

Oh, and I finally got around to hanging up my Dorothy M. Davis (my grandma) original oil painting. What a beaut!

Other notable highlights include Clara’s first Blazers game of the season, some great wagon rides, walks, couch-time and some corduroy overalls (for me).

Stay tuned for a few updated beauty favorites next week! Happy fall everyone :).

Adventures in Potty Training

You all knew this was coming. And really, so did I. But I think what I have to say may baffle, shock, even amaze you. So here it is – I do not really care when Clara potty trains. But before you clutch your pearls, know this: we have been solely at home. Clara has not gone to daycare a day in her life. We are lucky enough to have two wonderful people (Grandma and Auntie) who come over during the week and watch her until nap time. So as a result, any urgency with potty training has been shelved. But alas, I know once she does finally enroll in preschool or go to daycare, potty training and toilet use are ubiquitous. I know this needs to happen at some point, but my person laissez-faire parenting style has gotten me this far. Why change now? Homegirl will participate when she’s ready yeah?

First of all, we definitely have a potty-dancer on our hands. SHE KNOWS when she has to go and dances excitedly to show it. Running in place, clutching herself ala Michael Jackson – her body is letting her know. Her brain is the asshole in this equation, making her exclaim, “NO!” very loudly when we tell her to sit on the toilet.

We have tried sitting with her. Taking her into the bathroom with us, or her sister when we go. We reward her when she tries, verbally and with an m&m or two. But it is just not clicking. And I am not frustrated, more perplexed. What is going to be the thing that makes it come together?

One method we have recently introduced is Pinky Bear! This kit includes an interactive board book called “Potty Train with Pinky Bear”, and of course the plush Pinky Bear who is designed with a little front pouch to hold special surprises.

Here’s how we did it: We read the book to Clara while she sat on the potty, talked about Pinky Bear with her and when she was finished – we brought them together. Video disclaimer: kindly ignore our 90’s Olive Garden wall paper and my gaggy, overly excited voice. I can’t help it.

So far, we’ve had pretty decent success with Pinky Bear. Clara gets excited to read the book and see what Pinky has in store for her if she sits on the potty. And while we have not had an abundance of successful potty sessions, at least she is trying!

Pinky Bear was sent to me for review and can be purchased on Amazon here! Also worth noting – Potty Train with Pinky Bear has won the National Parenting Center Seal of Approval and a Mom’s Choice Award Honoring Excellence.

I will keep you all updated on our success, as I am sure you thrilled about. If you have any potty training tips or wisdom, I am all ears!

Agency Skincare Review

You know when you stumble upon a new product, or service and think to yourself “I should have thought of that!”? Or you get a great idea and 2 years later see it on shelves at the store? Yeah, that’s me. I was wearing my bathrobe backwards LONG before the Snuggie. And dry shampoo? Pffff…I’ve been baby powdering my hair since 9th grade.

Another idea I have that definitely should be a real thing? Drive through pizza. Why isn’t this being done? We can get burgers, tacos, fried chicken without exiting our vehicles but if we want a delicious ‘za we must get up and answer the door? Or carry it out? I am not okay with this.

Agency Skincare is another example of a great idea I’m sure many have had – customized skincare without a trip to the dermatologist. It really is ingenious and the folks at Agency are doing it right. I was given the opportunity to try Agency free for 3 months as a member of Influenster, and I have been blown away. And if you have not done so already, go sign up for Influenster here (this is a referral link where I get points). You can easily earn free stuff by asking/answering product questions, leaving product reviews for things you’ve already tried, filling out surveys, etc. Also – it is completely free.

Here is how Agency works:

  • Sign up, share your goals, and upload photos accessible only by your licensed medical provider
  • Try your first set of products
  • Agency will check in on your progress and make adjustments based on how you’re doing
  • Agency continues to refine your products over time

As you all might know by now – my skincare goals are mostly centered around fine lines/wrinkles and dark spots.

Here are the pictures I sent into Agency back in May.

Agency reached back out after a week or so, with the following:

And here is what I was sent:

Everything comes packaged neatly in simple packaging in a small box (no outer box) which I appreciate.

The first shipment includes enough product for one month with the recommended usage, instructions, as well as all the drug information.

I followed the instructions I was given, starting out in the AM by washing my face with the Hourglass Equilibrium Cream Cleanser (HIGHLY recommend, btw).

Then following with a moisturizer and SPF, then the dark spot formula. My current moisturizer has been the Shiseido Vital Perfection Cream, and the Dr. Brandt Liquid Sun Shield.

I have just been using a dab of the dark spot formula and focusing it right on my large dark spots.

For the PM, the same products remain in play with the addition of the Future Formula and Shiseido Vital Perfection Serum before the Shiseido cream.

The future formula is a gel-like serum think sinks nicely into the skin. The dark spot formula is thicker, almost like a zit cream.

After the initial month, Agency reaches out to “check in” and adjustments can be made based on how your skin is reacting to the products.

Both of these products have incorporated so well into my current routine. I have also slowly increased the potency of my formulas to achieve the best results possible. Here is where I am currently at:

And now for the part you have all been waiting for…THE AFTER PHOTOS! (Disclaimer, I DO have under-eye concealer on in the photos below, but that is it!)

And full disclosure, I am also getting IPL. You can read more about my progress here. But I am so impressed with my skin lately and not just because my dark spots are fading. I feel like the overall texture and tone has improved, and I just feel more glowy and hydrated. I really feel like this current lineup of products has played a significant role in the state of my skin as a whole.

I should also mention that this post is not sponsored. I really think Agency is definitely worth trying out. And right now they have a free trial promotion going on, where you just pay $4.95 in S&H and get your first month of product for free. So kindof a no-brainer if you are at all interested.

Let me know if you end up giving it a try, I would love to hear what they prescribe for you!

3 Steps to Long(er) Hair

Ok so first things first. Aside from the tips I am going to mention below, the following no-brainer rules also apply:

  • Drink water
  • Trim your split ends, they cannot repair themselves (much to Pantene’s chagrin)
  • Do not wash your hair everyday
  • Do not heat-style everyday
  • Always go to a professional to color/highlight your hair

And now onto the magical tips I have to share!

And as a reminder of where my hair was, about 2 years ago:

A few noteworthy items are:

  1. Baby Bangs
  2. Total thinness
  3. Damage

My hair was in a sorry state. And at this point, it was still actively falling out. I was devastated by this and it actually sent me into a bit of a depression. If you are interested, you can read more about that here.

And here is my hair today:

The following are the things I feel have contributed most to the current state of my hair!

Step 1 – Collagen and Biotin

I know I have already sung the praises of these helpful aids, but I cannot stress this enough! The Vital Proteins collagen and beauty gummies are WHERE IT’S AT. I feel like these have made the biggest difference as of late. We’re talking exponential growth. Plus – they’re gummies! It’s like candy. They taste great and have such a nice chew.

Step 2 – Good Shampoo + Conditioner

Recently I have been using this Phyto Collagen shampoo from Soo’AE and really enjoying it. This is formulated for dry/damaged hair and is vegan-friendly and sulfate free!

The Soo’AE Water to Cream Treatment has been the perfect compliment to this shampoo. The unique formula starts as a liquid and turns into a creamy texture when it meets water.

In addition to shampoo and conditioner, a nice hair mask is also a must. I have been loving the Be Happy Hair Mask from Be Free lately. Be Free, By Danielle Fishel (Topanga from Boy Meets World!) is a brand totally free of all harsh chemicals. It is cruelty-free, vegan, made in the USA and eco-friendly. You apply this as you would a typical hair mask, from root to tips. I found that it coated my hair very nicely and rinsed clean easily.

Step 3 – Scalp Care

I feel like 2021 has been the year of the scalp. SO many new “scalp care” products have come out and I for one am here for it! I have always had a drier scalp and am totally game for trying out anything aimed at nourishing this often overlooked area.

The Scalp Refresh from Be Free is just the kind of product I was looking to try. The Scalp Refresh detoxes to encourage healthy hair growth and stimulates circulation, while preventing inflammation of the scalp (yes please!). This is applied to a dry scalp and gently massaged in. I find that it has a slight cooling sensation and smells ever so slightly of peppermint. I really am in love!

I am on track to have Rapunzel hair by this time next year. I will keep you all posted!

Summer Favorites 2021

Ok so it’s August.

How on earth did this happen? January through May is like one endless blob of time and the months do not matter because nothing is happening and all we do is sit in front of our $40 happy lights from Costco. Then it’s June and we blink and it’s the 4th of July and there is a fire ban so we buy our kids a pack of sparklers and pop-its and are patriotic for exactly 24 hours. Then August blazes by and all of the sudden we’re getting excited about pumpkin patches again. Then it’s New Years Eve. It’s madness it is.

I love summer. Revel in it. I owe everyone a summer re-cap really. We have gone on a few little family jaunts and the lessons learned are bountiful. If these lessons had titles, they would go something like, “Cocomelon and You”. And, “So What if She Doesn’t Fit in the Pack and Play?” Sure we’ve had our struggles, but each moment has been so much fun – thank you vaccine!

A few newly discovered items have come ’round this summer . And here they are!

Kyte Living Pajamas & Toddler Twirl Dress

The world’s softest baby pajamas are also available in adult things! This blush pink pajama set is trimmed in cloud and made in their signature bamboo blend fabric. I may never take these off. Seriously the most comfortable set of pajamas I own.

This toddler twirl dress in the shade sunset has been a summer staple for Clara. The fit is absolutely perfect and the drape of the skirt makes it totally perfect for twirling. We are in love!

Scünci Bow Tie Elastics

Thanks to my buddy Renata for pointing these out at Ulta! These are great for thin hair, no damage and adorable. They do stretch out very slightly over time, but only after LOTS of use and who cares at $4 a set?

Revy Skincare

The Revy skincare system has been a huge hit with our 10-yr old. She LOVES having “her own skincare regiment” and this one is simple to use and amazing for her sensitive skin! At 10 years old, we are still in the years of not being psyched about personal hygiene, yet the hormones are ramping up. These products have kept her skin clear, healthy and nourished. Revy only uses the cleanest of ingredients in their products, and all are plant-based. With free US shipping on orders, we are such fans!

Vital Proteins Collagen and Beauty Gummies

YOU GUYS. These friggen’ little gummies actually work! I have been taking them for about a month now and holy smokes – my nails have been growing SO fast and are very thick. Also, NO JOKE my hair has grown significantly more in the last month. I am stunned. I have even gotten compliments that my skin looks better! I am a believer in these things and will continue to buy them. Also sidenote – I only take 2 of the purple collagen gummies per day rather than the recommended 4.

DSMD Beauty Sponge and Case

This has easily become my new favorite beauty sponge. They come in 5 different colors, are SUPER soft and bouncy and are on sale right now for only $6 each! However I might be more obsessed with the cases – they protect your sponge for travel and are made of a silicone material that is super soft. No more dirty beauty sponge floating around in MY makeup bag, thank you! This brand is owned by Amanda Effiom, a Nigerian beauty blogger (check out her insta) and hello – check out the messaging on the case. Absolute perfection!

Papaya Reusable Paper Towels

If you have not tried one of these MAGICAL dish rags…sorry but you need one. Or several. Whoever invented these is a genius. They absorb 20 times their weight in liquid AND one cloth replaces 17 rolls of paper towels. And they are lemon print. I MEAN — GTFO. This adorable set comes with 2 cloths and a little hanger. I am in LOVE.

Sephora Vacay All Day Set

This set contains 7 items and 3 are full-sized. I was in the market for a new face sunscreen and the Dr. Brandt version in this set retails for $65 on it’s own!

The other products in this set are super impressive. A full sized mascara and Nars lipgloss? Uh yes please.

The smaller sized items are also great, especially the Milk Makeup cream blush!

Alba Soothing Sunscreen

And speaking of sunscreen, allow me to introduce you to a new favorite! This stuff is absolutely wonderful. It sinks nicely into the skin, has SPF 45, smells like lavender AND is all-natural. Hat tip to my good buddy Anna for bringing this into my life.

Hawaiian Tropic After Sun Moisturizer in Lime Coolada

YOU GUYS. Buy this in bulk. This body lotion smells like heaven on earth, both limey and tropical. It is the perfect treat for your skin after being in the sun!

L’Oreal Infallible Lip Gloss in 135 – Posy

This bright fuchsia lipgloss features a beautiful blue translucent shift and subtle sparke that is gorgeous when it catches the light. The blue undertone and shift make teeth look white but be warned, this only looks good with a bit of a tan (I recommend fake). It is also a bit sticky, but I find the texture does keep it a bit “glossier”. This is another tribute to lovely Anna who wore this gloss in Palm Springs and made me a believer.

Wet’n’Wild Lipstick in Pink Ice

I grabbed this .98 cent lipstick a few weeks ago and have been reaching for it nonstop. If you cannot already tell, I have been digging the bright pinks as of late, and this little powerhouse delivers on all fronts. It is a true frost, and if you have not tried the good ol’ Wet’n’Wild lipstick formula – do yourself a favor and grab a couple. I especially like the $1.99 formuals.

Milkshake Leave-In Conditioner

Ok so this is one of the best leave-ins I have tried. And not just because it smells like COOKIES (yes it does), but because my hair is looking vastly better after using it. I am obsessed with this and want to try more products from the line. ALSO – I bought this at a local salon but just discovered it is on Amazon!

8 Greens Original and Skin Drink Mixes

Thanks to my Aunt Sandi for introducing these amazing drink mixes into my life. And let me start by saying that I am a Crystal Light girl. A Diet Coke gal. A Fresca fan. I do not like pressed juices, kombucha, kefir, green smoothies – basically anything good for me. It was a problem. That is until I tried these! These have allll the greens you need and are packed with vitamins. But the best part is that they taste great – lemon +lime and slightly fizzy. I had been experiencing some issues with my blood (low B12, white blood cell count, etc.) and I really think these helped my levels normalize.

Alright guys, that is it for today. Stay tuned for a lengthy vacation post soon!