Checking In

Today I thought I might provide a check-in of sorts. There is so much happening right now, with spring being well underway, summer plans being made and the possibility of the world opening back up looming. This is where I am at, in Portland Oregon, right now.

So – vaccinations! I find every social interaction as of late must begin with the obligatory vaccine catch-up. “Did you get your first shot?”, “How did you get an appointment?!” “Pfizer, Moderna or J&J?” We talk about the complexities of getting an appointment, the side effects, the new Brazilian and British covid strains. We are beginning to hug our grandparents, see friends inside and officially stop wiping down our groceries (although WE only did this for about a week). Is there a REAL possibility that we will be inside public places with other people, not wearing masks and (horror of horrors) not social distancing??!

Returning to our places of work, to restaurants and stores, to concerts and arenas and Chuck-E-Cheese. It has me feeling some kind of way. On one hand, I am elated to throw it back to 2019. To waltz into a crowded Goodwill, sans-mask, footloose and fancy free. Breathing in the mixture of must, body odor and Jean Nate, unadulterated. I am excited to see the look on my daughter’s faces when they get to interact with their peers again. And the way my husband’s eyes will sparkle when he comes home from playing basketball. I cannot wait to share that morning cup of joe with my coworkers again. All of these things give me happiness to no end.

But also – there’s this: I am an ambivert. Or, as I like to call it an introverted-extrovert. I like a variety in life. But the past year has really thwarted that extroverted side of me. I have settled into my quarantine nest and the routines that go with it. And even though there have definitely been exceptions, I have loved being around my family everyday. I also finally found joggers in tall sizes (Old Navy!). The introvert in me has been thrust into the spotlight. She has gotten used to it. It has become homey and warm.

We have all gotten used to certain things, haven’t we? To the awkward “covid shuffle” around the grocery store, trying to keep a gap between us. To the absence of invitations to parties, game nights and play dates. To air high fives and chest bumps. I have gotten used to the glares in the park we sometimes get when Clara is not wearing a mask. Or the dirty looks from others when she is. I am ready to wave goodbye to these things, but not to others.

I am not ready to drop Clara off at day care again. To miss the sticky hugs I get each morning after her morning waffles, or witnessing the sheer pride she exudes from completed the whole alphabet puzzle. I am not ready to only see my husband between the hours of 7:30 to 10:30 pm on weeknights. I am not ready to say goodbye to my cozy work-from-home spaces, complete with a dog on my lap and no makeup on my face. Most of all, I am not ready to say goodbye to the calm of a more simplified life.

Can we keep all the good, but not the bad? Can we all continue to stay home when we are feeling sick? And wear a mask if we are feeling sick, but need to go out? Can we work from home when we need to, without feeling guilty? Can we tell people no if we’re not feeling it, without making 1,000 excuses? I feel like there is so much we have all learned about ourselves over this past year.

What have you learned? What do you hope our post covid world looks like?

Self Care Products Round-Up

Well we’ve been stuck inside for a year now!

Remember how back in March 2020, we were all like, “Did you hear that this might last until May!?”. Or in June when we were like, “Oh it has to be over by the holidays!”. For me, the cute quarantine-themed songs to the tune of Katy Perry hits are met with a deadpan gaze. The funny covid memes and hopeful quotes are just scribblings, words on a page. I know we’re at the “end” of all this with vaccinations on the uptick and cases decreasing but man has it taken a toll. To say anything else would be a lie.

Several things have pulled us through this. For me, it’s my husband, Grandma Lisa and Aunt Sandi, Liberty Creek Pinot Grigio, my cute daughters and a healthy dose a’self curr.

Today I bring you some new (to me) products that have helped me. Mind, body and soul. Or should I say hair, face and body?

T0112 Sea Salt Serum

I have been using this spray serum for a few weeks now and I think I am in love. This stuff is packed with, you guessed it – sea salt, but also jojoba seed, argan and tamanu oil. The sea salt provides that realistic beachy texture but the oils add a wonderful dose of moisture. I find that SO many sea salt hair products are very drying. This stuff is actually hydrating! What an amazing product.

FactorFive Skincare

I have been using these three mini-sized products for about a month now and am seeing some beautiful results. FactorFive uses ethically derived human stem cells that work to replenish the skin at a cellular level. All of these products are non-scented and apply very nicely to the skin. I have loved using these while I go through the IPL laser treatments. Read more about that here! I feel they have aided the cell turnover process and provided necessary nourishment my skin needs.

Ecoslay Hair Products

Ecoslay is a small, vegan, 100% homemade hair care company with products so fresh, several have to be refrigerated!  You all know I suffer from a dry scalp, and the Peppermint Schnapps hair wash provides a invigorating scalp experience like none other. Next I applied their thick and rich Banana Cream and left it on a solid 5-10 minutes. This stuff seriously coats each strand with a thick layer of moisture and I loved the look and feel of my hair as I rinsed it out.

I have been using the Moonshine Hair & Body Oil on my dry heels and it has really been making a difference!

Peace Out Retinol Eye Stick

I have been using this concentrated eye balm for a couple of months now, once or twice a week. I ordered mine from Sephora but it is available for 15% off on their website! I wanted to try due to the stellar reviews and so far I have noticed a diminished appearance of my crows feet!

La Parea Ecuadorian Rose Candle

You all KNOW I can get down with a candle. They really make a break a day for me. You might also know that I am super fond of anything rose-scented. This candle is probably the truest rose-scented item I have ever encountered. It really does smell like you stuck your face into a bouquet of luscious, fresh roses. The candle burned evenly and the wick performed like a champ. I highly recommend this one, but am anxious to try some their others like Beach Day!

Country Bathhouse Body & Home

YOU GUYS. These are huge, donut-shaped bath bombs that smell like cotton candy!! I am so beyond impressed with both the size and quality of these products.

These bath bombs use a certified organic goats milk soap base, are non-staining and hypo-allergenic. I am totally in love!

They also make a whipped soap + shaving cream in a Love Spell scent that I am dying to try! I MEAN, just look at this stuff:

Maybelline Sky High Mascara 

Finding this mascara was the highlight of my day! It has blown up due to TikTok and I was stoked to try it out. While it definitely is nowhere near the best drugstore mascara out there, it is super lengthening.

Dr. Teal’s Shea Butter & Almond Oil Epsom Salt

Ok guys, this might be my new favorite from Dr. Teal’s. I really love the coconut epsom salts, but this kind was SO wonderfully moisturizing! Also I am obsessed with the scent – very comforting and rich.

All for now – Leave a comment with your favorite self care products!

ThredUp Goody Box Review

Hello and welcome!

Before I dive in to this review, I feel I owe everyone an explanation of this service and  why I chose to try it out. This is in no way sponsored…I wish.

ThredUp is an online consignment store. Their Goody Box is a subscription service (or you can just purchase a single box, like I did) that works similarly to Stitch Fix, Trunk Club, etc. You take a “style quiz”, pay a $10 styling fee, and they send you some clothes. The $10 fee will apply to any items you end up keeping and return shipping is free. This service appealed to me specifically because it is second hand stuff!

The main reason I wanted to try this is because I am having a major fashion identity crisis. I am an old millennial and like so many of my Y2K sisters and brothers, my closet is filled with things that are somewhat flattering on my body type. IMO the in-fashion styles as of late beg the question, “who can look the ugliest?”. And PLEASE do not take this to mean that I think the youth of today are ugly – I simply feel that the clothes themselves are SO unflattering.

Let’s take these jeans and sock + shoe combination. I mean. It doesn’t even look good on the model.

Or this lewk from Urban Outfitters? It’s as if she is about to pull out a hacky sack and Cranberries CD.

I rest my case.

So back to my crisis – I need to find a way to take the fashions of today (said in a little old lady voice) and make them work for me. I also realized I have not really shopped for clothes since before I had a kid (2018). I decided to try the Goody Box from Thred Up and see what they would come up with for me. Here is what went down:

My box shipped pretty quickly!

I was sent 10 items in total. Each box also includes a pricing sheet:

Here are the items I was sent:

Max Studio Dress – $29.99

Old Navy Dress – $18.99

Dolan Blouse – $20.99

Madewell Jeans – $39.99

Ro & De Blouse – $21.99

Madewell Sweater – $30.99

Lauren Conrad Sweatshirt – $23.99

J.Crew Shirt – $21.99

Vero Moda Jeans – $22.99

Anthropologie Shirt – $29.99

Overall, I really liked everything they sent. I felt they listened to my style quiz answers and sent brands and sizes that were appropriate. Let’s get to the try-on!

*DISCLAIMER – I am not a fashion blogger, nor did I accessorize or dress up these items cutely. I simply put them on straight outta the box.

Ok absolutely just f*#! no.

This dress is really cute but I do not neeeed it.

Really love this blouse. Floral, flowy. So me!

The Madewell jeans fit really great but as you can see, they are cropped and skinny. I am trying to avoid skinny jeans (and a side part) RN.

Forgot to photograph this one during my “shoot”. Cute but I know I wouldn’t wear it very much.

Nice lil sweater but nothing to write home about.

I actually really loved this sweatshirt and the color alot. But I feel like the twist front tops had their moment.

This J.Crew top and Vero Moda jeans are aigghht. The shirt sleeves just were not quite long enough and while I did appreciate the relaxed fit of the jeans, I just did not love them.

This top was REALLY soft but not $30 soft.

So – I ended up keeping the floral blouse for $20.99 and sent everything else back. I really enjoyed the experience though, and will definitely be ordering more!

For $10 off your first purchase click here to join and order your own Goody Box! Using the link means I also get credit and promise to show more purchases.

Dark Spots Progress + My First IPL Photofacial

Hello friends!

It’s been nearly a year since I provided an update on my dark spots. And I know you all have been on the edge of your seats waiting for this. I am sorry. I have failed you. Despite my abysmal progress reporting, I have continued to stay true to my skin care in an effort to rid myself of the damn things.

The current lineup as of late includes:

You may or may not notice that I have stopped using the Ambi Fade Cream. But let me make something clear, this is NOT because this product does not work. I think this $5 cream actually made a huge dent in the severity of my dark spots. Click here to see those before and after photos.

The reason I stopped using it – well, constitutes a quick story. About a month ago, I had a virtual consultation with a med spa. I wanted to learn about all the “procedures” (read: botox, injectables, laser treatments) and get a doctor’s take on options for me. The appointment went fine, albeit a tad awkward over FaceTime. We discussed a small amount of botox on my forehead as well as laser treatments for my dark spots and collagen treatments for the “loss of volume” in my cheeks. They were keen on getting me scheduled for a couple of these procedures but I explained I am simply not ready.

Mostly, I am not ready to fork over the thousands of dollars this would all cost.

After some thought, I decided to tackle what has made me the most self-conscious all these years: my dark spots. And I want to tackle it head-on! The next day I purchased 6 sessions of IPL photo facials from a salon near my house with great reviews. A couple weeks later, I had my first appointment.

All in all, it is a relatively quick, moderately painful treatment. Google it for the details, but essentially a gel-like cream is rubbed on the face and the laser moves across your skin, zapping as it goes. It is not pleasant. But honey, pain is beauty.

After the appointment, the esthetician warned me that small, coffee ground like flakes might appear on the skin and that this is totally normal. After a couple of days I did notice this happening.

As reference once again, here are my before photos from May of last year, after using Ambi for a couple of months.

Here are a couple of photos documenting my skin 3-4 days after getting IPL. These photos were taken in February and also document my general state after not showering for 4 days.

The spots look much worse but I am told this is normal. I will continue to provide updates during my “IPL journey” (haha) and plan to take photos after each session.

Anyone out there gotten IPL? If so, tell me your experience!

Baby Faves: 2 Years

The time has come.

Clara is two years old.  And before you say anything, I fully realize and accept that she is no longer a baby. But like Mariah reminds us, she will always be my baby.

The following are a few items that we have found useful. We have also discovered several items that we thought would be useful, but turned out not to be useful at all. Because at the ripe old age of two, this human has a full-blown personality and has developed likes and dislikes (the horror!). Subsequently, one or two of her favorites are most certainly not mine. These include opening and closing drawers and cabinet doors. Dumping out the contents of my makeup drawers onto the carpet and selecting the brightest shade of hot pink lip stain to smear across her face.

Let’s move on to the things that we all agree work well.

First off, sleep – arguably the most important thing in both her and our lives.

You might know that we utilize the sleep sack as not only a wearable blanket, but it kinda sets the tone. We put that sucker on her, and she knows it is time for bed. And now that she is giant, the little versions for 24 months and under just won’t cut it. Enter Kyte baby!

This is the Kyte Baby Sleep Bag Walker in the color cloud. It is some of the softest material I have ever felt. I would easily wear this myself. All Kyte Baby items are made from buttery soft bamboo rayon fabric and it seriously feels cloud-like.

This sleep sack is labeled for sizes 18-26 months and is in the mid-weight option. I feel like this will fit her forever, due to the fact that it has legs! She still has mobility but due to the tapered leg, it keeps her warm and cozy.

It is also worth noting that Kyte Baby has sleep sacks for the little guys too. I MEAN.

And the color options, come onnn!

Onto the next category – potty training!

We got this little pink toilet for Clara when she was maybe 18 months old. It also “flushes”, i.e. makes the flushing noise and she loves it.

We are still not using this in any regular way. Per discussions with our pediatrician, we are aiming to keep potty encounters fun, light-hearted and positive. We have some successes and plan to get serious once she is ready.

We have also been using a portable potty and training timer. The Potette Plus is pretty cool – a collapsible, portable toilet with liners that folds flat. The 3 in 1 Potty Training Timer is a nightlight and it also plays soft music. You can set it for 30, 60 or 90 minutes and it will light up and play music when it’s time to try using the bathroom. We have been using it as a timer for all kinds of things, and we love it!

And now let’s address bathing!

We have been loving Earth Baby products on our sensitive-skinned little one! Their bubble bath is so great, because it is all-natural, organic and safe for sensitive skin. We also love their shampoo + body wash and conditioner + conditioner.

After her bath, we slather her in CeraVe Baby Lotion. In my experience, the more boring the lotion, the better when it comes to her skin.

 

Next up we have miscellaneous faves, which change week to week and range from K-cups  to ball point pen art installations on the side of my desk.

Also, the kid does love her some literature. Here are some of her faves:

No, David! by David Shannon books are everything. First of all, the main character…need I say more? And the mischief he creates is just so Clara.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She is also very obsessed with Time to Pee! by Mo Willems. We can all recite it by now and the illustrations are too good!

We are also entering the phase of life when characters suddenly become their favorites. She LOVES Elmo, J.J from Cocomelon and most of all – Mickey and Minnie Mouse.

She requests “Hah-Dog TV” (Hot Dog TV) every morning, which translates to Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (they sing a song called “Hot Dog!” at the end, hence the request).

So that’s it. We are in full-blown toddler mode and I do love almost every moment. The almost moments come and we try to take them in stride. Pretty easy when she lets me hold her like this:

*The products from Kyte Baby, KalenCom and Earth Baby were sent to me for review. All opinions are my own.

Scentsy & Home Fragrance Reviews

I feel 400 years old writing this.

I mean, look at me. I am a woman writing about candles and wax melts ON HER BLOG. In 2021. Yeah…2009 called. It wants it’s jeans from The Buckle back. But it’s okay because like so many great trends of the 2000’s (hello Juicy suits!), candles, wax other smelly-goods are totally worthy of  this humbling effort.

This also necessitates a briefing on wax melts. First there’s Walmart wax, which offers a very wide variety, with prices ranging from .99  (Mainstays) to the $2 (Scentsantionals, Better Homes & Gardens) all the way up to bougie $4 and $5 bars from Yankee Candle and Woodwick.

I have tried all of these brands and there is definitely a difference. The higher priced waxes simply seem to last longer for me. Meaning, I can leave a Yankee wax melt in my warmer for 2-4 days (switched on for 8-10 hours) whereas the others will only throw for about 1-2.

Then there’s Scentsy, which is direct sales only. Scentsy wax bars tend to last the longest for me, about 3-4 days depending on the scent. They are also the most expensive at $6 a bar, but I have gotten some great deals from my Scentsy dealer Ashlee. Click here if you are interested!

Let’s start with this grouping, before I started ordering from Scentsy.

Yankee Candle Pink Sands – SUCH a nostalgic, holy grail scent for me. If you have never smelled Pink Sands before, get on it. Because it will change your life.

Yankee Candle Warm and Cozy – I thought this was going to be a dupe for marshmallow fireside and womp womp…it isn’t even close. It is woodsy, smoky and musky. Not my favorite.

Better Homes & Gardens Sugared Lavender Twist – I am not a huge lavender person, which is why I decided to try this “sugared” version. I actually did like it in the bathroom, but got a little  tired of it after awhile.

Better Homes & Gardens Vanilla Cookie Crunch – This is SUCH a great vanilla bakery scent. When I first melted this, David walked in the house and said, “Oh my god you are making cookies!” It was that authentic.

Scentsationals Iridescent – This smelled great in the packaging but was such a light performer. Would not repurchase.

And my first Scentsy order! *Notice the samples included here (the scent circle, bath soak and tester cubes). She also gave me extra bars to try for free.

Christmas Cottage – This is a lovely spicy, citrusy scent that is the PERFECT Christmas smell. I gave one to my sister for her birthday.

Silver Bells – I think this is my favorite Scentsy bar so far! It is a mixture of (brace yourself) candy canes, pear, vanilla and caramel. Sounds weird but is SO amazing. And this scent lingers for days.

Breakfast in Bed – This smells like pumpkin and raspberry pastries, cinnamon sugar and vanilla. SO amazing!

I’m Snow Over It – Definitely a winter-berry scent. I love this in the bedroom but it did not perform the best in a larger space.

Amazon Rain – Love this for the bathroom. I mostly get notes of melon , coupled with a soft floral. Very pleasant, soothing and perfect for the bedroom or bathroom.

My latest Scentsy order came with a new Spring/Summer 2021 catalogue and this adorable sparkly pen!

This time, I ordered:

Sweet Plum Pastry – I was not sure I liked this when I first smelled this, but it is amazing when warmed. It really smells like a plum tart baking in the oven and there is a slight coconutty finish. I am obsessed.

Cutie Pie Cupcake – This smells like orange dreamsicle cake with fluffy frosting. Makes you want to lick the air.

Dancing Sugar Plums – I am not surprised I love this. Basically, it smells like a rich plum mixed with cinnamon spice. Perfect for the holidays!

Next up are the candles we have tried out:

Bath & Body Works Cereal Marshmallow Bar – This has such a uniquely sweet scent to it. Yes it smells like a Rice Krispie Treat, but I also pick up a limey note. I also just noticed this candle is going for like $50 on eBay. Haha!

Thymes Fraiser Fir – Our Aunt Sandi had this candle going in her bathroom one night in December when we came over for dinner. I was instantly in love! I said “What is that amazing candle!?” and she pulled one out and gave it to me. It is a staple in her house each holiday season and for darn good reason. This is the BEST tree scent I have ever smelled. It is so lovely and if Aunt Sandi likes it, you know it’s good!

Which candles and wax bars should I try next?

It is a New Year.

I feel like this is the celebration 2021 deserves.

And honestly, it’s the Peacock app for me.

Yes, The Office moved to Peacock. And for us anxious people who despise change (especially when it comes to our #1 comfort show) liked Jim, Michael and Angela right where they belonged, on Netflix. The move to Peacock means we must now download a new app? Pay more for the no-ad versions? Dwight, you ignorant slut!

But it’s not just The Office. It is of course, the senselessness that went down at the capitol building too. And the turmoil that has ensued since. It is also my grow-out. The rain. The looming 89273 days of rain ahead. And the 40 more after that. My mom-guilt. The fact that my twice weekly trips to Goodwill are all I have somedays. Or at least, that’s the way it can feel.

But then I realize that my gorgeous husband downloaded the Peacock app for me. And maybe my grow out is a look. And oh! Season 13 of RuPaul’s Drag Race just started! And there is a stash of E’s leftover Halloween candy in the way back of the junk drawer. And really, could Clara be sweeter?? See, things are ok.

And before we move allll the way into this new year, let’s review the holidays. Because while they were covidy and weird, they were awesome.

For starters, I tried these KISS Jelly Fantasy Nails on my birthday and they stayed on for like 10 days!

We spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day here in Portland. A pretty big change from years prior, but I have to say – it was SO nice being home. It was David and I’s first time doing the Santa thing and we had so much fun.

I received the below sweatshirt which is just *chef’s kiss*.

Then we went to the Tri-Cities to see my family!

We discovered Clara’s affinity for a pepperoni stick.

And then it was her birthday party! Mickey Mouse theme of course.

Check out my visor! An antique find from Auntie Amy & Shannon.

I did my first high pony in her hair and omg I die.

So far our new year has been spent hanging up our amazing holiday gifts:

Starbucks runs

The infamous matte black tumblers!

And donuts.

Happy New Year!