Friday, February 17, 2017

Calm and Coastal Dining Room with Minted Art


Our home is finally coming together and starting to feel like a cozy home with our personal touch on it.  For so long, we just had our belongings placed randomly here and there from our effort to unpack, but nothing felt like it was in place. Since the holidays are long over and all the decor is packed away, I've slowly been more thoughtful about what we need to finish off our spaces.   Of course, I'm still in the midst of finishing our kitchen cabinet paint job, but I finally got a hold on the dining room.  


This room is just immediately to your right when you walk in our home.  It's small, but serves it purpose even if we don't eat in there regularly.  We used our old kitchen table since the dimensions fit nicely and it would have been too big for our breakfast nook.  I dug out a mirror and some sconces that I had packed away since we moved from our townhouse four years ago.  I always wanted to use them in our previous dining room, but we never got a table for the room and it remained empty for the whole time we lived there...  which might be why I wanted to finish this one so bad!


We installed the new light fixture the weekend we moved in and it works perfectly with the vibe of the room.  You know I'm a sucker for all things coastal, bright, and textured.  I love mixing wood tones, greenery, and my classic blue and white porcelain.  We painted below the chair rail a bright white and still have framing out the wainscoting on our to-do list.  The paint above is BM Lily White, and it definitely is more of a light blue than white!  It feels bright and adds color without being too saturated or too blue. 


We ended up placing our industrial bookcase in the dining room since our buffet fit nicely in our kitchen and we already had a built in in our great room.  It was a little difficult to style, but we are getting there. I flanked each side with a black and white edited iPhone pic of the girls from our visits to the beach.  I love the personal touch of family photos without them being too family photoshoot. The black frames fit right in with the wrought iron light fixture, bookcase, and Pottery Barn sconces. I'm on the lookout for a plant stand and a fern to fill in the back corner.  And I would really love to find or build a bench for the front side of the dining table, if you spot a seagrass one let me know!  It would really help lighten it up.  Add some seating and move the two chairs to the head of the table. I also think it will make the table a bit more inviting from when you walk in the door or other direction from the kitchen.



Over by our window, we hung a set of breezy white curtains and placed our old wine bar.  This was one of our very first furniture purchases together and for an assemble yourself Crate & Barrel piece, it's held up quite nicely over the last nine years. It fits perfectly in the space and is a great way to keep our wine bottles, stemware, and bar tools nicely organized and stored in an accessible spot.  Let's just say the upper shelves of 42" cabinets are not a 5'2" girl's best friend.  It's also the perfect space for styling vignettes. 



A collection of items we've had on hand came together so nicely with our brand new art.  I have been selecting abstract art that evokes the sea on my inspiration boards for ages, I was so happy when I finally was able to pick a piece from Minted's Art Marketplace.  I love that Minted supports independent artists and is frequently adding new offerings.  In fact, the print I chose, Neptune by Julia Contacessi, is a limited edition which is always something special and unique.


I love the colors and movement in the print.  I wasn't sure if I wanted it matted or with a border, but I kind of love the full bleed paired with the thin matte brass frame. The mixed metal definitely keeps the room from all being all matchy and provides a bit of extra texture and color and pairs so lovely with the artwork itself.


Honestly, this print could have worked in so many spaces in our home since we are carrying the coastal vibe throughout, but I'm so happy I was able to finish off this space.  Especially since it's the first view guests see when stepping through the door.  The 24x24" size is perfect for the space and it was ready to hang when it arrived.  Easy peasy. Perfect.

Oh and because we all love a good before and after...





Do you have a space you are dying to finish off in your home?  Is there a certain style of art you'd love to own?  Check out Minted's fine art selection this weekend and take advantage of Free Shipping with code SHIPFREE.




**Disclosure: I received a credit to Minted to facilitate my personal experience and honest review**

Monday, February 13, 2017

BeautyCounter, Rodan +Fields, and Other Things Your Friends Try to Sell You

A few weeks ago I came across this article on Refinery29 and sent it to my friends.  You see, while I have some weird personal aversion to joining a MLM (multi level marketing) company and selling products to my friends, I do however purchase a lot of products from these companies and absolutely LOVE them.  I've gone over some in the past, but I thought I'd give another ringing endorsement for things I've found that I love - that in no way, shape or form, benefits me through sales, commissions, click throughs, etc.  These opinions and experiences are truly my own!

(last bit was tongue in cheek, friends... but seriously, this is an honest non-sponsored review.  I am however plugging my girlfriends who sell these lines, because if it wasn't for their persistence, I wouldn't have become a fan myself and they are my girls so I love to help them out.  If you are looking for more information feel free to reach out them, they are more than excited to help convert you into becoming a believer too.)



A new to me line that I've seen blogged about for a good year or so is Beautycounter.  I first noticed some of their makeup - the SkinTint and Lipsticks - popping up in some lifestyle/fashion bloggers haul posts, then I noticed a line carried at Target.  I didn't even realize this was a network marketing company until six months ago.  When I learned about the company's mission, I was hooked the same why I was and am with brands like Honest Company and SoCozy.  I will do anything to minimize my and my family's risk to cancer causing pollutants and nasty chemicals.  Beautycounter is 'committed to a health and safety standard that goes beyond the requirements of the U.S. law.  More than 1,500 questionable or harmful chemicals have been banned from their products offered, and yet the company ensures these products will perform and are as indulgent as any other beauty or skincare item in the market.'  That's a mission I'd love to support, and I'm a big believer in backing (buying) products from company's you believe in.

While, I have been using Rodan + Fields skincare for a few years now, more below, I have been really interested in Beautycounter's makeup line.  I don't wear too much make up to begin with, but it's something I would love to switch over to brands who use more natural ingredients. One of my closest friends, Sarah, sent me the beloved Skin Tint Foundation, in linen, to test drive when I told her I was interested after she signed up to be consultant.  I was a afraid the color would be a bit too dark for my winter skin, but it blended so nicely.  I'm not a liquid foundation lover, but this make up wears more like a BB Cream or tinted moisturizer.  It's not heavy and while it smoothed my complexion it wasn't cakey or thick at all.  Perfect for when I want a bit more coverage for a night out.

Sarah also sent me the charcoal mask to try.  I had tried one from Ulta and years ago won a MAC one through an old fashioned blog giveaway, so I knew I would love this one too. My skin feels clean, smooth, and exfoliated after 10 minutes of use.  And it's always fun to scare the kids ;)


Lastly, I've been using the Lip Conditioner in Peppermint, and am obsessed.  I keep it with me all the time and I've stopped using most of my chapsticks.  It gives my lips a nice gloss finish, and keeps them soft and moisturized.  I've been letting the girls use it too (with my help, because I refuse to let them steal it all), but considering they basically put on so much chapstick it could be considered a snack, I'm glad they are using something made naturally with safe ingredients.  And their lips are shiny like mommy's too!   If you are looking for more information about the line, check out the website or email Sarah!



I've had some readers/friends reach out in the past asking about my experience with Rodan + Fields (check out my first review) and two and half years later I'm still going strong in using their products daily.  I will say the Rodan + Fields sellers, my friends, definitely fill up enough my facebook feed that I would consider hiding their posts, but it's true, the products work!  The Refinery29 article mentions the Redefine line, which I personally cared for a bit less than the Reverse line I'm currently using now for the third time, but I still enjoyed the products especially the PM face cream.  I just need a bit more help in skin tone evenness and dark spot control than I do wrinkles.

Earlier this year, they released a second reverse line. The original is the Reverse Brightening focused on evening and brightening complexions and the new one is a Lightening line focused on dark spots, age spots, and patches.  I already have my order ready to go when I run out of the products I am using now.  I'm so glad they altered the regimen to include these products because it's exactly what I need. You can see my first experience with Reverse, two years ago, in the picture and post linked above. Below is my progress from the last 4 weeks, since starting back up after taking a good six month break due to laziness -oops!   The change is minimal in photos, but what I notice most so far is less visible wrinkles and a more even skin tone.


I've also been using the Micro-dermabrasion Paste which is super comparable to Philosophy's Microdelivery Peel.  The R+F tub is about twice the price for non perks members, but it's at least twice the size (2oz vs 4.2oz).  I use it about twice a week and it really helps slough off any dead dry skin.  I purchased it back in June and still have close to half the jar left. I also use the Eye Cream and the SPF25 Lip Shield. The lip shield is a classic chapstick compared to Beautycounter's lip conditioner, tube vs pot, but for days at the playground or pool it's the best way to help protect my skin. With all the sun damage I inflicted in my teens, SPF is my bestest friend these days in my 30s.  The eye cream is thick and creamy, not greasy too light, and absorbs quickly.




Lastly, I love my DoTerra oils.  I have my own account set up and refill whatever it is I need when my supply gets low.  I'm not a crazy oil lady who diffuses every day in every room, but I do love using oils for health - I pop a OnGuard capsule as soon as I feel a tickle in my throat, and use the OnGuard oils on the girls when sickies are going around at school.  The peppermint has proven to me to be a fever reducer and I have used hand in hand with tylenol when the girls can't seem to shake a fever with meds alone.  Breathe blend is another savior for when the girls are congested and wake themselves from coughing fits or can't breathe through their stuffy noses.  And of course lavender is used almost nightly to help with a good night's sleep.  Whether rubbed on feet with a rollerball bottle or a few drops in body lotion after a bath.

I also love using the lavender rollerball to help soothe bug bites in the summer or even over scrapped knees and boo-boos to heal faster.  Lemon essential oil is my work horse in the kitchen keeping my counters and stovetop sparkling clean and neutralizing any stink coming from the garbage disposal or trash can.  I use a lot more, but those are definitely my go-to keep on hand oils and blends.


Overall, the side hustle game is strong in 2017.  Voodoo oils, skincare, stretchy pants, or protein shakes, smelly candles; you name it, you most likely have a facebook friend selling it!  For a long time I saw it as people looking to shill possibly questionable products as a way to line their own pockets, similar to students selling wrapping paper or chocolate bars to fundraise (ie, junk I don't need, but feel obligated to buy).  And when your friend is asking you to support their venture, it's sometimes really hard to say 'no thanks' and not think that they should just cut back on the Starbucks if they are looking for some extra income.  However, I now see these products and companies are more than a way make some side cash.  I've learned a lot of these products are worth the hype, and when you are going to buy a lipstick or sunscreen regardless, wouldn't you rather support a friend?  I can't say every network marketing product out there is a winner, but these are few I'm happy to throw my support behind.  I definitely suggest reaching out to your friends you see non-stop posting and ask them what it's all about!


Do you sell for a network marketing company?  I would love to hear about some lesser known products or experiences you might have had either using products or working for a company like this!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Life Lately


Just a little non staged, life as is, no filters here shot of the kitchen.  Cabinets are slowly coming along, need to get the last two cabinet doors up and get to work on the lowers.  It's amazing how much brighter the kitchen feels at night.  Almost as if we switched the light bulbs.


Today Ashlynn was her classroom's Mystery Reader.  We've been working hard on her reading skills and her class has really been preparing them for Kindergarten with their sight words, CVC patterns, rhyming words, and looking at context clues.  Ashlynn had switched classrooms less than a month ago (there was an opening in the pre-K program we weren't able to enroll in when we first moved down here), and she's come so far in just a few short weeks.  When she first switched over and I heard kids were reading, I was super impressed and a bit nervous she was behind.  A teacher had recommended the BOB Books working for her son, so I ordered one set and picked up another on a yard sale site and they really are amazing if you are working with a pre-reader.   Ashlynn is really starting to master them, as well as her daily reading at school, and today she was brave enough to read her book to the class.






Over the weekend the girls had their Winter Exhibition for gymnastics, they did awesome and now are super excited for Spring soccer.  I'm a little excited too, since I get to coach Kenley's team!  I can't promise I can coach U5 to a championship, but hopefully they'll all have some fun as the no doubt all chase the ball at the same time.  Wish me luck herding cats.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Currently...

I feel like there are so many things I want to share, but am having trouble getting a start on any post. I think a "Currently" style post is just what I need to share all the things I'm thinking and doing



Reading: 

One of my goals this year was the cliche, 'Read More/ Read 12 Books in 12 Months' resolutions. With our public library a half mile away in walking distance, I really have no excuses. It's free and too convenient to say I can't there or don't want to purchase 12 $10ish books for my Kindle.
 

I just finished The Nest this weekend.  I saw it mentioned on a lot of bloggers reading lists last year and was a NYTimes Bestseller.  I think it started a bit slow and my reading speed reflected that, I had to extend my two week borrowing window.  However, the more characters that were introduced, the more I'm got into, but overall I wouldn't rave over it.  I would love another recommendation!


Drinking:

Protein Shakes.  Now, that I'm finally getting my butt to the gym a whopping two days a week (baby steps, people, baby steps), I try to make sure I get an easily digestible protein shortly after.  We had been buying PlantFusion 100% Plant Based Protein Powder off Amazon.  It is free of GMOs and Soy.  I loved the taste and it dissolved easily enough in a blender bottle.  However, by happy accident last month we ordered Orgain Organic Protein, which is also GMO and Soy free, but also organic and $10 cheaper as well.  It doesn't dissolve quite as easily, it's a bit more frothy, but still tastes great with almond cashew milk.


Watching

All the feely dramas.  After my Gilmore Girls binge of 2016, we starting watching This Is Us on Hulu and were all caught up when the show came back this January.  And guess because the force of Gilmore is strong, Milo Ventimiglia wasn't enough and we also added in ParentHood too.  So every night is a mix of all the feels.  I have a feeling we will be catching back up on Game of Thrones next, just to get the right mix of violence and testosterone back. ;)


Wearing:

I mentioned I had a hefty haul back when Old Navy did their up to 50% Off active wear sale in the beginning of them month.  Sadly, the pieces were total hit or miss. For the price, you can't beat it, but the sizing seemed a bit all over the place.  A small petite sized cropped legging fits great, but two small petite full length pairs were baggy around the waist and ankles. Most of the tops ran huge as well.  I returned most of them.  I prefer looser tops, especially if wearing leggings, as opposed to skin tight all over, but these were like tents and looked silly.


I did order a few items from Gap since it was after season 40% off on top of other mark downs.  I am sooo obsessed with this spacedye pullover.  It's incredibly soft and fuzzy fleece on the inside and feels nice and thick on the outside.  It retails (around $70) for more than I would spend for activewear from the Gap, but with the discounts I scooped it up for close to $40.  The details are all really great too, zippered kangaroo pockets, slight reflective trim on the thumb hole sleeves - that also roll over like a baby's sleeper into mittens for the cold morning runs, and toggles instead of strings on the funnel neck style hood.  I love this top with leggings, for leaving the gym or even just casually with jeans for school pick up.



Preparing:

I am finally preparing to paint our kitchen cabinets.  We painted the walls pretty soon after moving in, but I wanted to wait until after the holidays to get moving on the cabinets. I started priming them over the weekend so let's cross fingers you're seeing an 'after' photo in a couple weeks.



Rocking:

Two weeks ago I decided to go bold and had my friend (who is a stylist) cut me some bangs.  I wanted some change, but love having my hair long.  I plan on having them grow out, so I'll be able to get them pulled back by summer, but it's definitely a fun look for now.   Two weekends ago, we had a Mom's Night Out for a group of moms in our neighborhood.  We headed Uptown and took over, nothing like a bunch of mom's let loose to scare all the 20 year olds!


What are you currently up to??

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

So Curly with SoCozy! + Sweepstakes




I have shared my love of SoCozy kids hair products in the past, but I'm back again to tell you how impressed I am with a new product line we recently swapped to.  We've now used SoCozy's Cinch 3 in 1 shampoo, conditioner, body wash - which we loved for streamlining our cleaning of everything at once, the Splash after swim line that was a godsend for Ashlynn's blond hair and Kenley's tangled locks after summer days at the pool, and even the Boo! line that helps promote healthy hair with natural scents of peppermint, tea tree, rosemary and lavender that scare away the buggies like lice, which thankfully we have yet to personally experience even though there was an outbreak at preschool last month - yuck!


This time, we were lucky enough to try the Boing line formulated for kids with curly hair.  This line was made for my girls with curls!


Ashlynn has really fine hair that is naturally wavy and wispy, that dries in soft enviable loose ringlets and Kenley's hair is a personal barometer of the current humidity status.  She has true curly locks that form tighter corkscrew curls based on the weather.  Even though, I have wavy/curly hair myself, I've always had trouble with styling Kenley's wild woman hair.  Boing has a been such a rescue product leaving her untangled after bath and returning the natural bounce in her curls as her hair dries.




I noticed her hair is looks better even after a night of bedhead, her curls are more defined then her usual hot mess bird's nest.   I finally feel like I've found the secret to keeping her curls tamed, and restoring them to beautiful and bouncy, instead of wild and messy.



SoCozy is committed to providing children's hair care with "no nasties", just good, clean, honest formulations from ingredients that work.  SoCozy is safe and completely non-toxic and free of parabens and phthalates.


I'm excited to share that SoCozy currently is holding a sweepstakes for anyone who purchases any SoCozy products at Target, CVS, or Walgreens through February 13th, should save their receipt to be entered into their Family Vacation Sweepstakes.  No limit on spend. *IN-STORE PURCHASES ONLY.  Winner announced on February 14th.  Just take a photo of your receipt, like I did above (I had purchased more detangler spray, our morning lifeblood) and upload it the form here.


Sweepstake Package includes:

An all-expense paid 5 days, 4 nights, deluxe family vacation includes - four (4) roundtrip coach airfare tickets, roundtrip airport transportation, one (1) Oceanfront Superior Room hotel room for five (5) nights at The Diplomat Beach Resort in Hollywood, FL; one (1) date complimentary Poolside Cabana, two (2) complimentary 50-minute Diplomat Signature Massages; two (2) complimentary full-day Kid's Club passes, Daily Breakfast and Lunch for four (4) people, one (1) dinner certificate for four (4) people to Portico; one (1) dinner certificate for four (4) people to Bristols; three (3) additional dinner certificates for four (4) people valued at $200 each and $100 to spend daily at resort. 

The total value of this prize is $10,000! (read more here: http://socozy.com/blog/diplomat-hotel-vacation-giveaway/)





Good Luck! And Good Hair!




**Disclosure: This post is sponsored by SoCozy and powered by BrandBacker. I received free samples in exchange for this honest review.   As always, all opinions and product experiences are our solely our own.**

Friday, January 13, 2017

Winter Vacation Swimming with Speedo

This post was sponsored by Speedo. I received Speedo products as compensation.


We were so excited for the holiday break, not just of course for the magic of Christmas morning, but for the opportunity to spend the week with family.  We headed back to Pennsylvania for the first time since moving south.  It had been a hard adjustment for the girls who used to be only 15 minutes from their PopPop and Nanny to no longer be able to visit whenever, but PopPop was a genius and was able to get all the grandkids together for a few nights at an indoor waterpark resort over the holiday break.


The kids had such a blast spending time with each other, as they always do, but this time with the added fun of an indoor waterpark.  The girls really grew in their swimming ability this past summer, but hadn't been in the water since Labor Day.  I anticipated that they might be a bit rusty, but they just picked up where they left off.

By the end of the summer Ashlynn was jumping in unassisted and going under all on her own.  She was still wearing her floaties, but we were pretty sure she was ready to start testing the water without them.


We loved trying out her new Begin to Swim fabric arm bands while staying at the waterpark.  They gave her the security she needs while allowing her to adjust to her own body's buoyancy.  These will definitely become the new summer staple as she learns to swim confidently on her own.


Kenley was so excited to have a pair of her own pink goggles that matched her sister's purple set.   Ashlynn's Speedo googles really made a big difference with getting her to put her face in the water, and now Kenley is less resistant to blowing bubbles and getting an underwater view.



And while the kids no doubt had a total blast, we have to talk about mom for a minute.  Rocking a bikini when getting some sun at the beach is something I'm okay with, but when you take away the sand and sun and add in chasing kids, funneling down slides, and shooting water canons at splash pads a bikini is just not the practical choice.  Having a comfortable, yet flattering one piece is essential.  I have been a loyal fan of Speedo swimsuits since childhood, and to prove the test of time, I still have one from high school that I dig out whenever swimming in a gym pool!  I was so excited to wear my new Cross Back Thin Strap suit to the park.  It never came out of place, crawling here or slipping there.   I love the color blocking for giving the illusion of a slimmer figure, which let's face it after all the Christmas cookies, was totally welcomed!



And for when I was running around grabbing drinks, snacks, chaperoning potty trips, and taking nap breaks to recharge in our hotel room, this grab and go cover up, that was as practical as it is cute, was the perfect addition to my luggage.  It's perfect for the waterpark, pool, and beach.  I love all the fitness and recreation options Speedo has to choose from.

Speedo definitely helped prepare my family for our winter vacation and I can't wait to go swimming again hopefully before summer.  Check out Speedo.com for your family's winter getaway needs!


My blog may contain links to other websites. I am not responsible for the privacy policies of those other websites. When you click on a link, your information may be collected by those websites so I encourage you to read their privacy policies. Affiliate links are not associated with Speedo.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Loving Lately

Just a pop in of things, I feel compelled to share with the world... or 5 people who still read here.



The girls' classes were cancelled on Monday due to a delayed start for the school district, so we spent some of our morning at the library.  They picked out this book, Little Red Gliding Hood, and it is seriously sooo cute.  Lots of cameos from your favorite storybook characters telling a new adventure for Little Red who loves ice skating.



I might be way behind the times with this one, but I am obsessed with Crayola Twistable Crayons. It's like crayon meets eyeliner.  Ashlynn loves to peel the paper off crayons which makes me twitchy and a huge mess.  I also feel like crayons are constantly snapping in half, maybe it's because they are naked or because the kids are just actually breaking them in half on purpose, but these twisters are awesome.  They help the girls with their pincer grip since they hold them like pencils.  We have the set that comes with neons, metallics, and multi-colors and they are huge hit.



I was a bit unsure during the holiday what to get for my teenage nieces.  Toddlers I have nailed down, but teens actually have opinions, and actually remembering my teens years vs my toddler, I remember how hard to please I could be.  Since they are southern girls, I decided to go monogramming something and picked up S'well for Target water bottles.  The bottles were on sale for $10 a piece and I was able to get them monogrammed at a local shop nearby. Going through Etsy would have cost double, shop local friends!  They were a huge hit with the girls and to be honest, I kind of wish I picked one up for myself!  This will definitely be on my Mother's Day wishlist.

I stocked up on a bunch of athletic gear from Old Navy last week when it was up to 50% off plus additional 30% off all items.  Everything should be arriving tomorrow, so I'll follow up if it's worth the pennies I paid.  I've never purchased work out clothes from them and was a bit hesitant too, but I've heard good things, so I'll be sure to share my sometimes picky opinion.

What are you currently loving?

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Merry Merry

We had such a great holiday break, it was so fun having the girls be old enough to truly enjoy everything we had planned and that magic of the season had to offer.  We baked cookies, waited for Santa and his five firetruck motorcade, sprinkled reindeer food in the backyard, and basically every other standard holiday tradition we could squeeze in.




The girls had a magical visit from Santa, bring Ashlynn her much requested Torch, My Blazing Dragon and Kenley her 'red cash register'.   He also brought a set of wooden bunk beds for their WellieWishers and a highchair for their baby dolls.   They also got some new bath and playdoh toys, hooded towels, clothes, headphones, books, games, and an awesome dollhouse from Bopo and Yaya.






I love the dollhouse because it's big enough, two sided, that they can both play without pushing each other around.  It came will all the furniture which is color coded to each room (so they haven't stuck the toilet in the nursery yet) and is actually sturdy, unlike my plastic and cardboard Barbie Townhouse of yesteryear.  I could have definitely taken the time to customize it all pinteresty before putting together, but I'm glad it's a hot pink, purple, green and orange monstrosity.  Less pretty for me to look at, but definitely more vibrant for them to play with since I don't think they appreciate the white farmhouse and rifle paper flower wallpaper look as much as I do, ha.

We enjoyed a quiet Christmas at home, playing with our new toys and packing up for our trip.  We left early the next morning to head back to PA for our adventure filled trip.  We spent a solid 30+ hours in the car over the week break from school and work, and the girls really did handle it like rockstars.  We visited 3 of 4 sets of grandparents, all of the cousins, old neighbors, and old friends in just 8 days.  Every night was pretty much a party and the January slump was real for that first week getting back to the grind of a routine. A little more from our trip coming up!