Beautycounter: Keep the beauty not the toxins

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Recently, I had the pleasure of joining a Beautycounter social at a friend’s house in San Francisco. I’ve been to these types of gatherings, and maybe you have too. I’d be greeted with a glass of wine, great conversation with friends, and some new trendy product to indulge myself with. I love these type of female glam driven encounters. It’s a chance for me to engage with some brilliant women, indulge in pop culture, or share how my four-year old shut my two-year old in the closet, yet again. Of course my night included all the above, but I didn’t walk away with a new fabulous Stella and Dot necklace, or a cool piece from a new clothing line. Instead, I walked away with a greater knowledge of the cosmetic industry and the means to make wiser choices for my family.

Did you know, there hasn’t been a federal law passed since 1938 governing the cosmetics industry? I didn’t. Did you also know that the European Union has banned over 1,300 ingredients from use in personal care products? No, again. Conversely, the US has banned or restricted a mere 11 ingredients. Those two numbers are vastly different, and don’t equate well for us Americans. This new information has left me feeling vulnerable and a bit cheated.

While I was gifted with samples of the skin care line to test and write about, my goal isn’t to sell you on Beautycounter’s products. The honest company speaks for itself by producing quality and safe products, but I’ll touch on some of my favorites at the end. What I’d rather touch on is why Beautycounter’s founder, Gregg Renfrew, is striving to make big changes in the cosmetics industry as we know it today. (Cool article on Gregg here)

As a mother, daughter, and beauty inspired young woman, I’m often looking at the newest product lines to take care of my family. I’m not just talking youth seeking lotions and potions to erase those little crows feet that are creeping up ever so diligently. I’m talking children’s products, toothpaste, detergents, makeup, hair care, body scrubs, and more. Women and men are saturated with options, but what do we really know about them? The average women uses 12 beauty products a day. “Natural”, “Organic”, and “Hypo-Allergenic” are meaningless with no regulation saying what that means. Fragrance is a trade secret so anyone can put anything in their fragrance and not disclose it. Did you know that two perfectly safe ingredients can create a very toxic bi-product and the cosmetic industry doesn’t have to say beans about it!? In all honesty, I don’t always choose the most natural ingredient, sometimes I choose what’s on sale, but I try to balance between the two. Knowing most products that claim to be “Natural” or “Organic” have a higher price tag, how frustrated would you be to discover you’re actually paying MORE of your hard-earned money for a product that might be MORE TOXIC for your family, than a product that doesn’t claim to be “Natural” or “Organic”. I’m not saying that these terms we see so often are never true, but I’m asking you the consumer, to rethink what we know to be safe.

“1 in 3 women” and “1 in 2 men” will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. What relation does the cosmetics industry have to these statistics? Clearly many factors contribute to an illness, but being able to avoid a carcinogenic product is a good thing, right? Shouldn’t the US help identify the least toxic options? 1938 was a long time ago, and something tells me we can ban more than 11 ingredients in 2014. Realistically, I know that my family will be exposed to toxins. That being said, Beautycounter’s goal is to reduce your exposure by running a strict screening process. In doing so, Beautycounter has created a “Never List” which has eliminated over 1500 ingredients that they will never use, nor any of their suppliers. I like this. They also strongly encourages you to check your products with www.ewg.org/skindeep. I did, and have already eliminated a few products from various brands that I was using in my household. Knowledge is power and I’m grateful for being invited to the Beautycounter event. It’s a priceless gift to be given information that changes the way you care for yourself and more importantly your innocent children. If anything, research your household items..be informed. So now, let’s talk the more light-hearted fun stuff, whoop whoop!

The line has many products, but I chose to test the following items listed below. I honestly loved them all, but the body lotion, night cream, and the oils were stand outs for me. Below are my notes for the products. Visit www.beautycounter.com to check out more.

  1. Kids Squeaky Clean – My kids were happy with this wash. My daughter has sensitive skin and never had an issue. No reactions, smells fresh, and doesn’t leave any residual product on the skin.
  2. Restorative Night Cream – Luxurious feeling and super hydrating. My skin felt balanced in the morning.
  3. Every Day AM Hydrating Cream – I loved the lightweight feel, and paired with the #2 oil it was great as a base for makeup.
  4. Hydrate Everyday Body Lotion – I LOVE LOVE this lotion. I’d use it after shaving and it made my legs so smooth.
  5. Gentle Exfoliator Polishing Cream – Jojoba beads paired with coconut oil made for a gentle exfoliation. I think this is a great option for sensitive skin types, like myself.
  6. Lustro Face Oil 2 – I love the oils from this line! I’d buy them all, and this one was perfect for day time. I’d mix two drops with my Every Day AM Hydrating Cream and it was hydrating without being greasy. I also felt like my pores looked smaller after using this oil. Great primer before makeup.
  7. Lustro Face Oil 3 – I used this oil at night three to four times a week. Again, I’d mix a drop or two with my Restorative Night Cream. The oil felt nourishing to my skin while soothing any irritations. None of the oils made me breakout, which can be a concern for users.

The products are fantastic and the companies efforts to create further transparency in the personal care industry is refreshing. If you have any additional questions about Beautycounter, feel free to contact me and I can put you in touch with a consultant. A special thank you to the beautiful Katrin for introducing me!

Capitola Style – Marilyn Monroe meets Boho

Capitola Style

 

If you’ve never visited Capitola, then you don’t know what you’re missing! Often compared to Cinque Terre, the town is truly something special. My husband’s family has been vacationing at Capitola since he was six months old, and I feel lucky to have become a part of the annual tradition. Many of my friends ask me about Capitola, and have never actually been (it’s only an hour and a half from the city), so stay tuned for a post on what’s so fabulous about this family friendly town.

Until then, let’s talk beach style. Here are my key pieces for this vacation but #2 is definitely a newbie. My husband is probably going to be confused when he sees me rocking a one piece…let’s be honest here, for most men, a teeny-weeny string bikini is sexy and likely the preferred attire when basking in the sun. Well, sorry boys..I say one pieces are SEXY too! I love that they are making a come back (and so does my post children mid-section). With so many one piece styles that feel a bit retro and fresh, I had a hard time deciding. I ended up going with a classic red one piece, similar to the Tory Burch one posted, and I can’t wait to embrace my Marilyn Monroe chic style. Paired with a panama hat, cat-eye sunglasses (I’m obsessing over the Versace ones above) and some simple gold accessories, it keeps the one piece from feeling too matronly. It will be a twist on my usual boho beach style, but of course those items are packed as well. Oh and please take note of this fab CALIFORNIA towel. I immediately thought of the song “California Girls” by the Beach Boys when I found this towel. Happy summer all!

  1. Panama Hat (JCrew similar version)
  2. Tory Burch Swimsuit (this is my similar version)  (love this Nanette Lepore option as well)
  3. Versace Sunnies
  4. Striped Tote (mine is from T.J.Maxx, but you can find these everywhere)
  5. Gold Cuff (similar here)
  6. Dolce Vita Sandals (Mine were a gift, and I wear them with everything)
  7. Humble Chic Coral Necklace
  8. Topshop white crop shirt (Forever 21 version)
  9. Pendant Necklace (Nordstrom $$ option that I really want, but you can find inexpensive ones at Francesca’s, JCrew, Charming Charlie’s, H&M, T.J.Maxx)
  10. Element Tie Dye Maxi Skirt
  11. Statement Necklace (Stella and Dot options are always great)
  12. Gap cutoffs (I love mine because they aren’t sooo short, more age appropriate, and I just got them an additional 50% off in store)
  13. Nars multi-stick in G-spot color…yes I said G-spot! Wacky but memorable branding.
  14. Sisters of Los Angeles Beach Towel

Transitioning Toddlers to Sharing a Room

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Living in San Francisco, space is definitely a hard commodity to come by. Our first apartment was maybe 900 square feet, but it was charming, and by far my favorite space that Michael and I have shared together. We were newlyweds in this apartment, sharing wine on the city view rooftop that Michael decorated with white twinkle lights. Many of my favorite pre-parenthood memories were in this home, enjoying food, wine, and conversation with family and friends. This apartment was home to our first-born, and was the only place that I’ve ever cried about when we left. Once we became pregnant with baby #2 we knew that we couldn’t possibly have both children sleeping in the dinning room/converted nursery. That being said, I’m not kidding when I say that it crossed my mind to have both kids sleep in the converted dinning room. Clearly, I was hormonal and pregnant because it was time to leave this fabulous place.

Fast forward to now, and we live in a much larger three bedroom space that I’m grateful for. When Jack was born, he slept in our room the first two months. Our initial plan was to have our kids share a room, but Jack was a light sleeper, and we had moved to a noisier part of San Francisco. We decided it would be better to have him sleep downstairs in the guest room where it would be quieter. At some point, we would move him upstairs into Audrey’s room. Well..we finally made the move! Holy heck am I CRAZY to do this now? It was always colder downstairs, and we wanted to free up our guest room, since it’s used so frequently, so I was ready for the challenge.

At first, the kids were jumping up and down and loving the interaction. Jack was pumped to have a buddy to talk with, and he wanted to keep the party going, but Audrey was ready to sleep. I swear this is a precursor for their teenage years, because Audrey is disciplined and wants her sleep, and Jack is ready to rage at all times..grrrrrreat! Anyhow, Audrey brilliantly decided to sing Jack a lullaby, it went something like this..

“Jack, go to bed, you’re hurting my ears, nighty night…nighty night. Jack, go to bed, Mom and Dad want to watch a show, and you’re hurting my ears…nighty night…nighty night. Jack shhhh..Jack shhh..Mickey can’t sleep!”

Mike and I were watching everything on the video cam and having ourselves a crack up over these shenanigans. After a bit, Jack would finally lay down, but Audrey decided she was very proud of her new song, and would start singing all over again which prompted Jack to pop back up. Jack was also proud that he could turn the light switch on and off (which I didn’t realize he was doing for a bit). So the circus cycle of up and down began. Once they finally fell asleep, it was good for about 3 hours, but that was short-lived! Jack woke every 2-3 hours yelling. As any mother, my ears are trained to hear a pin drop, so as soon as I heard screaming, I was sprinting down our hallway desperately trying to avoid running into the wall because I couldn’t see anything. Apparently, turning on the light wasn’t something that crossed my mind in the middle of the night. Obviously, Jack couldn’t tell me why he woke up yelling, but I’m assuming that it’s because he didn’t know where he was, and that he was exposed to more street noise being upstairs. What I feared the most was having him wake Audrey, which would’ve meant I’d be in a room with two screaming and exhausted toddlers in the middle of the night..which means I would have wanted to jump out the window or hide in the closet cursing at myself for thinking this was a good idea!

Luckily, Audrey can sleep through a freight train, and never woke to his screaming. Phew, crisis averted! After being up and down with Jack the first night, I reminded myself, over a strong cup of coffee, that “giving in” was not an option. Thankfully, I stuck it out, because we are one week into the transition and its going great. It took a few nights, but it’s paying off now. Toddlers sharing a room has it’s pros and cons, so it’s not for everyone, especially if you don’t need to. That being said, many situations require kids to share rooms so I say embrace it, and prepare yourself for the transition and a few sleepless nights (as if that’s not already happening for any mom with young kids).

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Pros

  • The kids are on the same bedtime routine now.
  • They love going to bed together, and often talk for a minute or two, which is sweet to watch on the video cam. Similarly, they love getting in each other’s bed in the morning and being silly (like pic above).
  • Audrey now sees her room as more of a “shared space”, which is good for her since we are still battling “sharing” at our house.
  • Most importantly, I think it’s a good way to capitalize on strengthening the bond between siblings. They are a TEAM now!

Cons

  • Because they are now a TEAM, it’s double the trouble when they decide to fight bedtime.
  • Be prepared for different wake up times. Jack has always been an early riser and has no “wake up” period. From the moment he opens his eyes he is already at level 10 craziness, so I have to rush getting him.
  • If a child is sick, then the other child hears the coughing or moving around.
  • As they get older it’s probably better for them to have separate spaces (especially siblings of opposite sex).

Tips for Transitioning Toddlers

  • Use a noise machine if you aren’t already, it cancels out so much
  • Transition when they are almost on the same sleep schedule. If not on the same sleep schedule then put the youngest down first, and explain to the older child that he/she gets to stay up a little later, but must be very quiet when going to bed. You can use a reward system here if needed.
  • If they are playing and talking past bedtime, let it go. So, they may be up 30 minutes past their bedtime, it’s fine. You don’t want to create the habit of needing to go in and quiet them down. They need to learn this on their own. By the end of the week the novelty wore off for our kids, and they only jumped around for 5 minutes.
  • Just as sleep training if you find that after several nights it’s just not working, give it a break, and try again in a month or two. Unless, they have to be in the same room, then I’d put one child down first, and quietly slip the other in later.

If this is going to happen in your world soon, good luck! I promise transitioning toddlers to sharing a room isn’t all that bad and the rewards are far greater. So far…

4th of July Jello Cake

Happy 4th of July! If you are looking for a fun and festive dessert for Independence Day then look no further. I promise this recipe is easy and will please everyone from Grandma to your 1-year-old. Grab your boxed cake, yep.. this is not from scratch, and whip up your 4th of July Jello Cake now and enjoy tonight!

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Ingredients Needed:

Betty Crocker White Cake Mix (or any brand you prefer)

1/3 cup Canola Oil

3 egg whites

1 1/4 cups water

6oz Cherry Jello Mix (raspberry or strawberry would work too)

2 cups boiling water

Cool Whip

Strawberries

Blueberries

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Step 1. Make your cake following box instructions.

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Don’t forget to separate your egg whites.

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Bake cake.

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Step 2. Poke Cake

Allow cake to completely cool after baking. Using a utility fork, pierce cake all the way through. Do this to the entire cake making marks about 1/2 inch a part.

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Step 3 – Mix jello packet

Using a glass measuring cup, boil 2 cups of water for 4 minutes in microwave. Remove from microwave and dissolve entire jello packet in hot water.

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Step 4 – Ladle mixture

Starting from one side of the cake ladle small amounts of jello mixture into the holes you made throughout the cake. Even though it seems like a lot, be sure to use all 2 cups of mixture. You will ladle over the entire cake twice ensuring all of the holes are well saturated.

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Once you are finished spooning the jello mixture, it will look like the above. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.

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Step 4 – Make your American Flag.

This is the fun part for the kids. Layer your toppings. Cover the cake with cool whip (use the entire tub). Second, using about 1/2 cup of blueberries make a small rectangle in the upper left corner of your cake, this will represent your stars on the flag. Finally, thinly slice your strawberries and layer closely in rows, making your stripes. Audrey loved the final product and it was a good opportunity to talk about what our flag represents.

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Extra Note – When you slice the cake it is marbled on the inside. The great thing about this cake, is that you can use it for all sorts of holidays. Use lime jello, and make it for Saint Patty’s Day or keep it red for Valentine’s Day. Possibilities are endless, so have fun with it! Wishing you all a wonderful 4th of July, full of food, fireworks, and family fun!

Summer Wardrobe Essentials

Summer Esentials
Summer days will soon be here, which makes me excited for trendy rompers, sexy sandals, and glamorous hats! Before every season, I take a peek at my wardrobe and think about the key pieces I’d like to add, but they must be mom-functional. I’m often running from preschool, to a meeting, and then to the park. I like items that can mix and match and be dressed up or down. My wardrobe is lacking in rompers and an everyday sundress like the versatile denim option above. I love the look of mixing patterns, and this leopard print clutch goes with everything, day or night! Neon colors are on trend, and I’m a child of the 90’s… but I just can’t rock an entire neon outfit. I’ll leave that to my teenage years, but I love being on point with some bright sandals. The crisp white jacket is always a must in San Francisco, and can be worn over just about anything. I put together a collection of items that will spruce up my summer attire. What are your summer wardrobe essentials? Happy shopping!
  1. Boho wide brim hat (Similar here)
  2. Ethnic print romper (Likely have to search vintage for something close to this, but I’m obsessed with this look )
  3. J.Crew gold tassel necklace
  4. White fitted jacket (Similar here)
  5. Chunky gold chain link necklace
  6. Bright colored strappy sandals (Similar here) (Cute flat version here)
  7. Floral romper (Similar options here)
  8. Rebecca Minkoff leopard printed clutch
  9. H M denim dress