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Summer Beauty Essentials

7 Jul

summer beauty healthy

1. Acquarella Nail Polish. I wrote a review 3 years ago here.  Acquarella is the only brand I’ve used since.  I’ve tried Plasma, Livid and most recently Sleek, and I love them all.  A little pricey, but it lasts awhile–my first bottle lasted two years!

2. Babyganics Hand & Face Wipes. I keep a pack of these in my purse for wiping down after the park.  They’re cooling and they clean with one wipe, without being scented or leaving a greasy residue.

3. Babyganics Insect Repellent.  This is the only bug spray we’ve used for two years.  I find I have to reapply more frequently than other chemical-laden sprays, but I guess that’s to be expected. It leaves an oily residue, but the smell isn’t bad at all.  I think the spray comes out heavy and fast, though, so watch out!

4. Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion.  I use this after showers, but I also keep a small tube in my purse.  If I were ever exiled to a deserted island and could take one item, it would come down to lotion or toilet paper, and lotion just might win.  I apply multiple times during the day, so I like that this is a healthier choice, doesn’t have a fragrance, and doesn’t leave a residue.  Matty loves putting lotion on, too, and I don’t worry much when he pulls this out of my purse.

5. Babyganics Sunscreen. Do you get that we love Babyganics?  I bought this sunscreen for Matthew for our vacation last year in the Caribbean.  Eric and I ended up using it too, and no one got burnt.  We’ve continued to use it almost daily this summer, and I still love it.  It does go on really white, but Matty doesn’t mind. Heck, neither do I…I’m too busy chasing a toddler around the park to care if I have white streaks on my face. 🙂

6. California Baby Calendula Cream. I bought a big tub of this when Matthew was born in lieu of traditional diaper cream.  We just ran out.  I use it for everything from bites, scrapes, rashes, and even moisturizer in a pinch.  Matty loves to get kisses from Mommy and then his “creeeeeam” when he gets an ouchy.

7. Honest Company Conditioning Mist.  I love Moroccan Oil for my hair, but when I ran out recently, I decided to try Honest Company.  I don’t love this as much, but I still love it.  It keeps my hair soft and less frizzy, which is great because I rarely have time to blow-dry.

Lord knows I carry enough in my purse, so it’s nice when I can find a product that does double (Mommy and Matty) or even triple (Daddy, Mommy, and Matty) duty.  The best part?! All of these products are rated as a 1 or 2 (low risk) on Skin Deep, the EWG’s website ranking beauty and household products.  Check it out!

Acquarella Sleek

**I had a hard time finding a picture of the exact color of “Sleek”, so hopefully this helps!


1. What healthy beauty products are you loving?
2. Did you make the “jump” to healthy products all at once, or as you run out?
3. Does anyone else feel like maybe if they trash all their sunscreen, magical voodoo will get rid of all this rain and bring the sun back? Seriously, what is up with this weather?!

Our HGTV Photoshoot!

14 May

Hi, Everybody, (Especially Grandpa)!

I’m so excited to finally be able to share some exciting news (Nope, still not a baby brother or sister).  I recently had the pleasure of playing host to the wonderful folks at HGTV when they came to shoot my humble abode for their newest publication, Toddler Geniuses Build Good Stuff. Let me share the article, you know, in case you’re not able to pick up a copy in your area.

cardboard playhouse

Construction on this one room studio home began in February 2013.  Using only upcycled materials and items found around his Mom’s house, construction was completed during the course of one afternoon, with decorating being an ongoing occurrence.  The walls are cardboard, made from reconfiguring a range and a washer box acquired from the owner’s former babysitter, now a Menard’s super-employee. “Mr. James really thought ahead.  He even saved the inner packaging as brace supports for the house.  He’s good at engineering and changing diapers.  It’s really a rarity in men these days.”

The roof is braced out with cardboard, from one of hundreds upon hundreds of packages the UPS man delivers to the owner’s Mom and Dad. “I had to find some way to use all these boxes.  I mean, one can only make so many play barns and toy boxes.”  To top it off, a brown sheet was draped casually over the braces, lending to the air of casual chic.

cardboard playhouse

To add a pop of color, the door was painted Flag Red by Walmart Craft Aisle Paint. “It really is an affordable, easy option for everyone.” As a finishing touch, the doorknob, in Duct Tape Black, was hot-glued on for extra stability from grabby toddler hands.

The owner added a flower garden.  Drilled holes act as a wonderful playtime opportunity for planting flowers.  The felt-board provides a home for bugs, a must-have staple for every little boy’s dream home.  “Me and Kitty have lots of fun playing flowers.  She jumps through the window, then I poke a flower, then she attacks the flower, then I poke another flower, then she attacks the flower, then I poke another flower, then she attacks the flower, then I poke another flower, and OH MY GOD IT’S SO FUN!”

To finish up construction on the the outside, the owner installed a mailbox using his Mom’s scrapbooking stash and his own array of magnetic letters hot-glued on.  “My mom and dad spend so much time here, they even had their mail forwarded.”

On the inside, a former crib mattress acts as a reading nook.  “I never used that damn thing for sleeping on, and since it was a bazillion dollar organic mattress, with organic mattress protector, and organic sheets, I figured I was obliged to use it somewhere.” A raid on his Mom’s pillow stash added a few pops of color and texture to an otherwise drab background.  A nearby basket of independent level books provides an easy quiet-time activity.

When the owner wants to tap into his creative side (either clothed or naked), he takes step over to his drawing pad.  A cut-in-half toilet paper tube, reinforced on the bottom with paper, provides a house for his rainbow of crayons.  “My mom has her faults, but she does allow 24-7 access to crayons, so that’s pretty cool.”

On dreary days, a bit of light is needed for optimal fun, so the owner installed Sparkles, by “Christmas” bin in the garage.  “I don’t think Daddy will miss them much when he goes to put up the Christmas lights next year.” 

As a finishing touch, a doghouse was constructed for the owner’s dog, Pudding.  “I recently visited my aunt, where there was a dog named Cookie.  Since then, I’m convinced every dog should be named after a decadent dessert.”

In the upcoming year, the owner has plans to add a 3-4 car garage. “Well, I have a racecar, and a pushcar, plus I need an area for my workbench, and a mancave would be nice.  You never know when I’ll want to have the guys over to eat wings and watch rugby without my mom nagging me every 15 minutes for a potty break.”  Other planned renovations include fresh exterior paint (in hindsight, the owner would have turned the boxes inside out before construction…), as well as some storage options (there’s no place to hide cookies).  And a table.  “Sometimes I take my snack tray in to read a book, and I have to makeshift my own table from a common cardboard box. Wait…”

This toddler was a delight to work with, and is the most creative and insightful individual I’ve ever encountered.  His eye for detail leaves me breathless.

Okay, I might have added that last part.  But I’m really happy with the way the house turned out.  In fact, I’m starting construction on my outdoor Summer home as we speak…stay tuned!

Pssst…I’m linked up over at My Healthy Happy Home for Toddler Tuesday.  Check it out!

Old Fence, New Fence, Gray Fence, White Fence

8 May

You got my Seussical reference, right? Ok, then.

It’s Spring Pinterest Challenge time!  The game? Stop pinning and just do it! Aka, pick something from your Pinterest boards, do it, blog it, share it.  This project came about accidentally.  First, let me share some backstory.  We want/need to fence in our back yard.  But we can’t fence in our back yard because the entire back property line has utilities lines running underground, and while we love the trees and shrubs in the yard and are trying to work with them rather than rip them all out, the roots are causing their own problem.  So we had to get super-creative with our fencing solution(s). Enter a mix of traditional fencing, lattice privacy screens, well-placed shrubs, and planters.

This little gap is at the back-right corner of the property.  We love the shrubs to the right because they completely block the neighbors yard, and to the left is our back neighbor’s fence, so we just need something to stop a toddler from exploring the other side of this little gap. Oh, and it can’t be a “permanent fixture” because the utility company has to be able to maintain access, if needed.

The previous owners had this contraption in the middle of the yard (the fence to the right).  The posts were dug about 4 ft. down, and roots were wrapped around it, so it took about 3 hours to disassemble the thing.

Our plan was to toss it, but after seeing the wood, Hubby had a brilliant plan to turn it into a rustic planter.

The boards were 5 ft. long, and our gap was 10 ft., so it was meant to be! We were able to use all the wood except one board–how’s that for upcycling!

A little exterior paint, a whole ‘lotta dirt, and a carload of flowers later…

We did a mix of annuals and perennials to try to cut costs–this is a huge bed! (NOTE: It’s not a permanent fixture, but we’re sure not moving the thing!)  We did put slats about 12″ down, so the dirt only fills the top 10″.  And we finally get to the original Pin:

DIY Drip Irrigation

In the past, we haven’t been the best at watering, though I don’t think this will be a problem this year since Matty loves to use the hose to water the flowers.  But as added reassurance, I rounded up 5 plastic bottles. To make sure the bottles were well cleaned, I gave them a thorough rinsing, and stripped them with vinegar.  Then, I drilled holes throughout the bottom half of the bottles.

Before adding the dirt to the planter, I spaced them evenly, then they got buried with just the opening showing.  Voila!

The planter definitely does it’s job to keep to keep Matty in the yard. We were able to reuse a lot of the materials we already had, and we only had to spend money on dirt and flowers, which was in our plan anyway! It only took one day to disassemble, rebuild, and paint, then we filled and planted the next day.  Slightly back-breaking, but we love the end result!

It makes a huge difference in appeal when looking into the backyard.  I can’t wait for all the flowers to fill out!


Any creative fencing solutions?  Or should I say toddler containment solutions?

Of course, I’m linked up with the Pinterest Challenge crew. Check out these links to see hundreds of awesome Pinterest-inspired ideas!

Emily @ Sparkle Meets Pop

Katie @ Bower Power Blog

Sherry @ Young House Love

Renee @ Red Bird Blue

Munchkin Meals: Gear

6 Feb

Okay, yes.  I’m veering of course a bit.  Now that Matty has all of his teeth in (except 2 year molars), he’s turned into a good little eater.  In the past few weeks he’s tried at least 7 new foods, and is regularly eating things like sandwiches, sunflowers seeds, and cashews.  But I digress.

I thought I would focus on toddler eating gear. Why? Because…

  • He’s taken a great interest in cooking and spending  time in the kitchen.
  • He no longer wants to stand in his tower to eat (and the high chair has been long packed away).  He wants to sit at the counter like Dad does, of course.
  • I have to pack lunches and/or dinner for him a few days/week for babysitters, some of which needs to be transported, and microwaved.
  • He’s completely outgrown the sippy and will only drink from an open cup.
  • I’m thinking about doing a formal snack/drink station for him.
  • He’s really noticing what others are doing, so he wants a “real fork” and “real plate”, too.
  • I’ve got cabin-fever and a little online window shopping might just be the cure!

Obviously, every mini-chef needs a mini-apron!

Or perhaps I’ll make one?!

And of course the greatest piece of toddler gear we’ve already purchased was his Learning Tower ($40 at Once Upon a Child!). It’s a ridiculous space-hog, but totally worth it.

He’d probably love carrying his own lunchbox into the sitter’s. And he’d look adorable, no?

We have these snack bags. They work great for dry snacks.

But we need something for “wet” lunches that can also be microwaved.  Right now I’m using small glass lidded containers…any suggestions for something more kid-friendly?

He loves our Klean Kanteens, and tries to drink out of them.  Way too big for him.  I bet he’d love one of his own.

And check out this snack station! I’d love to create something like this for Matty.

We have a Pur filter that he knows how to use, so I’m thinking maybe another one of those.  We just need a small shelf and some storage.

Ooh! Klean Kanteen has storage canisters now.  These would be perfect for on-the-go snacking (for Matty and Mommy!).

Since Matty refuses sippy cups and only wants a “big” cup (aka glass), I had to get creative.  I saved a few small, glass food containers–peeled off the labels, ran them through the dishwasher, and voila.  He loves it.  They’re sturdy enough that if dropped they don’t shatter.

This contraption seems kinda cool! Kaboost. It goes on the bottom of a regular chair to boost it up.

Anybody got good recommendations for a long-term booster. MUST BE EASY TO CLEAN. 🙂

Well that was the end of my “Mommy time”.  Such a fun window-shopping excursion. Ha!  Any other feeding gear recommendations for strong-willed, independent little boys who can’t wait to be just like Daddy?

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